THE DOCTRINE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
by William Hoste
by W. W. Fereday
MALACHI – THE MESSENGER OF GOD
by E. R. Bower
WHAT MUST I DO?
by an Ulster Youth
THE FIRST ASSEMBLY
by E. Parmenter
NOTES ON REVELATION
by Jim Flanigan
HYMNS AND THEIR WRITERS
by Jack Strahan
The Doctrine of the Holy Spirit
by William Hoste
HIS NATURE AND WORK
The threefold Divine Name had been acknowledged in the Church from the beginning, but without any doctrinal definitions. In the Nicene Creed, for instance, the words "and in the Holy Ghost" represent all that is said of Him. Now the Arian controversy was settled, men’s minds were left free to consider the doctrine of the Spirit. Naturally the Arians who denied the Deity of the Son, had a fortiori denied that of the Spirit, according to them, His creature. And even after the battle with them on the first point had been won, the consubstantiality of the Spirit with the Father and the Son was unacceptable to the semi-Arians. This opposition to His essential Deity was headed up by Macedonius,* the deposed Bishop of Constantinople, a man of violent character and methods. The Macedonian heresy was definitely condemned at the Council of Constantinople in A.D. 381 and the following words were added to the Nicene Creed, after "and in the Holy Ghost," viz. "The Lord and Giver of life, who proceedeth from the Father, who with the Father and the Son is worshipped and glorified, who spake by the prophets."
No addition of importance to this has been made, except in A.D. 589 when to the words "which proceedeth from the Father," were added, "and the Son." This was felt, especially in the reaction from the Arian controversy, to be more in unison with the essential oneness and equality of the Son with the Father, but was unacceptable to the Eastern Church, as compromising, in their judgment, the greatness of the Spirit. This lead to a breach, as we have seen, which has never been healed. The Western view, though the exact expression "proceedeth" is only used of the Father (John 15 :26), seems more in accord with the fact that the Spirit is sent equally by the Father and the Son (John 14 : 16, 26; 15 : 26).
*Progress of Dogma, James Orr, M.A., D.D., pp. 124-131.
1. HIS RELATION TO THE DIVINE PERSONS
From our Lord’s words, "He shall not speak of Himself" (John 16 : 13), some have inferred that the Spirit never speaks about Himself, but this is negatived by all the teaching about the Spirit through Paul, Peter, John, etc., in the Epistles, all by the Spirit. "Of Himself" only means "of His own initiative," as the next words show, "but whatsoever He shall hear, that shall He speak." But there is a spurious, as well as a true, teaching concerning the Spirit; the one exalts Him to the eclipsing of Christ; the other reveals Him to the exalting of Christ. An ambassador must be in evidence, recognisable, accessible, but only better to further the interests of His king and country not to seek his private ends. The great object of the Spirit is to glorify Christ. This is evidenced in the Acts, where the speakers are said to be full of the Spirit, though they speak not of Him but of Christ.
No advocate for a plurality of Persons in the Divine Unity, holds that plurality to be either more or less than Trinal, and it is not seriously questioned that the Trinity can only consist of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit of the Scriptures. In the various controversies of the Church, the Spirit has been less prominent than other Divine Persons, and His personality and greatness and indispensable working have been somewhat obscured. But the teaching of the Scriptures is that the Spirit is co-equal, co-eternal, and co-substantial with the Father and the Son. That He is called "The Spirit," is not because the other Divine Persons are not Spirit, for "God is Spirit," but only because His mode of existence is "Spiration."
His relation to the other Divine Persons is that of "procession," He eternally proceedeth from the Father and the Son. This is explicitly stated of the Father alone, "the Spirit of Truth, which proceedeth from the Father" (John 15 : 26), but it is implied,* as equally true of the Son, both by the descriptive titles "the Spirit of Christ," "the Spirit of the Son," and also because He is equally sent by Christ. What this ‘procession’ is, is inscrutable, but the fact is dear. Far from implying any subsequence or inferiority the Spirit has priority of mention as a distinct Person in the Scriptures, "the ** Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters" (Gen. 1 : 2). We affirm His Personality against all Socinians and Unitarians, who make of the Spirit a mere attribute of God and we affirm His Deity against the Arians, who taught Him to be the first and greatest creature of the Son, and therefore, in their view, only "the creature of a creature."
* Controversy on this point was an important factor in the great division between the Western and Eastern Churches, the former affirming, the latter denying, the double ‘procession’ from Father and the Son.
** The objection, that the Holy Spirit cannot be referred to here, because He was not then revealed, begs the question.
2. HIS PERSONALITY
That the Greek for Spirit is the neuter pneuma, which naturally takes neuter pronouns, etc. (and explains such a phrase as "the Spirit itself" Rom. 8 : 26) might seem to argue against personality, but the masculine personal pronouns, ekeinos, hos, autos, are freely used of Him, e.g., "But the Comforter, the Holy Ghost … He (ekeinos, ‘that one,’ emphatic) shall teach you" (John 14:26; and so in ch. 15:26; 16:7, 8. 12, 14).
Consider also the following points :—
(a) He speaks of Himself in the first Person, eg., Acts 10 : 20, "the Spirit said to Peter, Go with them … for I have sent them," and ch. 13 : 2, "Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them."
(b) Personal qualities are assigned to Him.
i. Sensitiveness to opposition: "Ye do always resist the Holy Ghost" (Acts 7 : 51). Grieve not the Holy Spirit of God" (Eph. 4: 30). "They rebelled and vexed His Holy Spirit" (Isa. 63 : 10).
ii. He can be lied to and tempted, as in the case of Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5 : 3, 4, 9).
iii. He possesses an active intelligence: "The Spirit searcheth all things, yea the deep things of God" (I Cor. 2 : 10).
iv. He has a will: "Dividing to every man severally as He wills" (I Cor. 12 : 31).
v. He inspires: David writes, "The Spirit of the Lord spake by me and His Word was in my tongue" (II Sam. 23 : 2), in harmony with such passages as I Peter 1 : 11; II Peter 1 :21; and Acts 1 : 16.
(c) Personal acts are ascribed to Him.
i. He strives with men (Gen. 6 : 7).
ii. He speaks, guides, hears, shews, etc., (John 16 : 13; Acts 8 : 29; Rom. 8 : 14).
iii. He calls and sends forth His servants (Acts 13:2, 4).
iv. He washes, sanctifies, justifies—’that is, applies the work of Christ to the soul of the believer to effect these results (I Cor. 6:11).
v. He bears witness (John 15 :26; Rom. 8 : 16).
vi. He intercedes (Rom. 8 : 26, 27).
3. HIS DEITY
(a) The Spirit’s Name. This occurs on equal terms, in the same context with Divine Persons, e.g., in the baptismal formula of Matt. 28 : 19 (R.V.), "Into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost;" also in the apostolic blessing of I Cor. 13 : 14; and in the message of grace and peace to the seven churches of Rev. 1, etc.
(b) He is explicitly spoken of as God: e.g., in Acts 5 where the lying to the Holy Ghost in v. 3 is equivalent to lying to God in v. 5; also the "inspiration of God" of II Tim. 3 : 16, is parallel with the "moving" of holy men by the Holy Ghost in II Pet. 1 :21.
(c) Highest penalty attached to sin against Him. * Blasphemy against the Holy Ghost is spoken of as the supreme sin, the sin of sins, "which hath never forgiveness." The true inference is that He cannot be less than God. Indeed, in such passages as quoted above, Divine honour is paid to Him.
* This does not seem, I believe, to mean some special act of sin, but rather an attitude toward God, involving the final refusal of the Spirit’s testimony to Christ—the offer of grace. It is not morbid souls accusing themselves with horror and despair of having committed "the unpardonable sin," who really have committed it, but obdurate enemies of Christ, hardened apostates, who spurn His grace and glory in so doing. The Pharisees in deliberately identifying the Spirit of God with Satan, seem to have committed this sin, but we never read of their being filled with remorse for that, or desiring forgiveness.
(d) Divine prerogatives are postulated of Him. If for instance the believer’s body or the local church are temples of the Spirit, have we not, in view of the "jealous theism of Scripture," to use Dr. Moule’s phrase, a proof of the Deity of the Spirit, for who but God may indwell a temple? In chap. 3 : 16, the statement that the Spirit of God dwelt in the Church of Corinth, is followed by the words "the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are."
(e) Divine attributes are ascribed to Him.
i. Omnipresence, e.g., Ps. 139 : 7, "whither shall I flee from thy Spirit?"; or Rom. 8 : 26, where intercession for the saints in general is ascribed to the Spirit without limit of locality.
ii. Omniscience: How can One who searches all things, yea the deep things of God and who alone can be less than Divine? (I Cor. 2:11). See also Isa. 40:13 "Who hath directed the Spirit of the Lord, or being His Counsellor hath taught Him?" (cf. Rom. 11 : 34).
iii. Omnipotence: Not only by His own powers as "the Mighty God," but by the Spirit of God did our Lord work His miracles (Matt. 12:28; see also Luke 11:28 "the finger of God").
iv. Eternal Being: He is the Eternal Spirit (Heb. 9:14). Before incarnation our Lord could not be said to have a spirit, He was spirit. Therefore the Eternal Spirit by whom He offered Himself to God is clearly the Holy Spirit.
(f) Divine operations are attributed to the Spirit. The Spirit is seen as the Divine Worker in creation (Gen. 1 : 2), and Elihu ascribes to Him his being, "the Spirit of God hath made me" (Job 33 : 4). The incarnation of the Son of God was due to His operation (Matt. 1 : 20; Luke 1 : 35), as is the regeneration of believers, and their renewal (John 3:5, 6; Titus 3 : 5), as well as their resurrection (Rom. 8:11). These proofs receive additional weight from the very "Unitarianism"* of Scripture, for to quote Dr. Moule again, "Jealous for the glory of the One God, Scripture would not even seem to indicate to us the personality of the Spirit, the Spirit presented as knowing and doing Divine things if the Spirit were not both a Person, and of the Eternal Being." **
*The so-called "Unitarian" would be better styled Anti-Trinitarian," for all believers hold the Unity of the Godhead as an article of faith.
** Outlines of Christian Doctrine, p. 121.
(g) Dignities are ascribed to him by the Lord before leaving His disciples. These could only be true of a Divine Person.
i. His coming was to be an advantage to them over the bodily presence of Christ; "It is expedient for you that I go away" (John 16 : 7).
ii. His teaching is to supplement the teaching of Christ; "He will guide you into all truth," but nothing will supplement that (v. 13).
iii. All the Father’s possessions were at the Spirit’s disposal, because Christ’s too; He would have access to all, to shew them to the disciples (v. 15).
4. HIS WORK BEFORE AND AFTER PENTECOST.
How then does the Spirit’s work differ in the Old and New Dispensations? In the former His personality was less clearly defined, but it was there, as we have seen (see also Isa 48 : 16; 63 : 7-14), but it was as One exercising a mighty influence in His essential Omnipresence. In the New He is personally present. Pentecost was a new departure. As at Bethlehem the Second Person of the Godhead became incarnate, so at Pentecost the third Person came down to indwell His people. In Him the ascended Christ baptized all believers into one body, but while Pentecost was the birthday of the Church, it was also a foretaste for Israel of that day, still future, when the Church having been translated she will be found once more in the place of testimony. Then will occur in its fulness that marvellous outpouring of the Spirit foretold by the prophet Joel, for a world-wide witness to the coming King. In one sense the Spirit will depart with the Church; His baptizing, indwelling ministry on the earth will be completed but His work of testimony will continue. Things will revert to pre-Pentecostal conditions, and in a new energy. A world-wide witness will be inaugurated by the 144,000 sealed of Israel (see Rev. 7 and 14) under the direction of the Two Witnesses (chap. 11), as I believe, and the result will be a hitherto undreamt of ingathering of souls—"the harvest of the earth," of the fourteenth of Revelation, the multitude which no man can number of the seventh. The difference between the Spirit’s relation to believers before and after Pentecost, is summed up by our Lord to His disciples in John 14 : 17, "He dwelleth with you, and shall be in you." Then it was the gifts, now the Giver; then "life," now "more abundantly;" then literal anointing oil, the outward seal of circumcision, the material earnest of Eshcol grapes, now the unction of the Spirit communicating the precious excellencies of Christ, His inward seal marking each believer for His own, and His spiritual indwelling earnest of the future inheritance.
by W. W. Fereday
In a world of toil and strife the very word has a refreshing sound, in whatever connection it may be used. Rest for body and mind is sweet; how much more rest for the soul? To be in quietness in relation to our fellow-men is good; better, infinitely better, is it for the soul to be in quietness with its God.
Rest is spoken of under different aspects in Holy Scripture. We are all familiar with the evangelical invitation given at the close of Matt. xi. First, our Lord says "Come unto me all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." This is manifestly rest of conscience. Many labour under the burden of realised guilt; others groan under the yoke of religious ordinances by means of which they hope ultimately to obtain salvation. To all these the Saviour offers rest as a gracious gift. His atoning sacrifice has so perfectly satisfied all the claims of Divine holiness in regard to sin that none need carry the burden of guilt for a single hour; so completely, too, has He finished His work that none need toil on their own account. Both the guilt-laden and the ordinance-laden are thus tenderly invited to be at rest. Believers having been purged once for all have "no more conscience of sins" (Heb. x. 2). On the ground of the Saviour’s work their consciences are in rest and peace before God for ever.
Our Lord proceeds thus in Matt. xi. 29 : "Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me ; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls." This goes beyond rest of conscience. It is rest of heart in the circumstances of daily life. Many who enjoy the one blessing know little of the other. Yet the condition is a very simple one. It is the abandonment of self-will, and the hearty acceptance of the authority of Him whose yoke is easy and whose burden is light. Nothing is more disquieting than thwarted self-will. The Saviour knew no such painful experience. In meekness He ever bowed to the Father’s will; it was characteristic of Him to say, "Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in Thy sight." Ee alone is the Christian’s perfect pattern. In measure as He is imitated so the heart finds perfect repose whatever befalls. Abraham is the Old Testament type of the restful believer, as Jacob is of the unrestful. The stories of these two men are highly instructive in this connection.
Rest both of conscience and heart may be enjoyed even in the midst of the storms of life ; there is another kind of rest yet to come. "A promise is left us of entering into His rest. . . There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God" (Heb. iv. 1-9). This lies outside of the present world. It will be found in the new creation which God will bring in when the heavens and the earth that are now have fled away. Then, when all God’s purposes of grace are accomplished, and the full fruit of Calvary is seen both above and below, God will rest, surrounded by all the objects of His favour, eternally. Divine perfection will mark that rest. There no sin will enter, no foe will intrude, no jarring note will be heard, and toil and suffering will be unknown. Each happy saved one of earth will bear the image of the firstborn Son, and will enjoy conscious nearness to God for ever.
How mournful it is that any should spurn such infinite blessedness, and by their guilty rejection of the Saviour, consign themselves to endless woe where "they have no rest day or night’ (Rev. xiv. 11).
"Malachi – The Messenger of God For Today"
by E. R. Bower (Malvern)
v. 1. The prophecy is just what this introduction says it is. It is, "The burden of the word of the Lord to Israel by the hand of His messenger."
The eternal love of God for His people expresses itself as a ‘burden’ and it may be that this ‘burden’ finds its perfect expression in Isaiah 53.4, "Surely He hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem Him stricken, smitten of God and afflicted."
Malachi introduces himself as the first of the five messengers who we find in the book. Five is the number of Divine grace. Following Malachi himself we have the True Priest (2.7); John the Baptist (3.1); the Messiah (3.1-3); and Elijah (4.5). Another reason why this book is of such relevance for today.
vv. 2-5. "I have loved you" or, as sometimes rendered, "I love you," is as we know a simple yet meaningful phrase. How the heart of true Israel, the future Bride must have thrilled to this word, "I love you." Love which is everlasting (Jeremiah 31.3; cf. Isaiah 43), and the heart of every true believer must also thrill at the love of God proclaimed by the Gospel. "For God so loved the world" (John 3.16). The love of God is the fundamental truth of salvation, whether for Israel or for the Church. We accept this love when we are born again, but having been born again, how soon do we forget that God still "so loves" and that His love is more than sufficient for this life, for it will take us into the ages of the ages. This love is "election" love. Cf. Ephesians 1.
The Apostle expounds these verses in Romans 9 to 11, and we take note that out of the heart-cry of the Special Messenger for his brethren according to the flesh, there comes a warning to his brethren in the Lord, "If the Lord spared not the natural branches, take heed that He also spare not thee." (11.21) and this solemn warning is followed by yet another heart cry, "I beseech you THEREFORE, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God" (12.1) and proceeds to spell out for us just what it means to so present our bodies a living sacrifice. The rules of the offering are seen in the section 12.2, — 15.4; and conclude, "Whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning …"
w. 6-8. And now, after the simple words of their Redeemer in which He repeats His love for them, comes the questioning. Not all the questions, however, came from the ones He loved. The God Who loved, and Whom they professed to worship, has some questions of His own to ask.
Israel was His firstborn (Ex. 4.22) and His servant, yet His love to them and His dealings with them were being questioned. God’s love in question, but where was THEIR love?
"Ye call Me Master and Lord, and ye say well; for so I am," said our Lord to His disciples (John 14.13), and do we not pray. "Our Father Which art in heaven?" (Matt. 9.9). Do we not gather in, or into His Name, and present our petitions in His Name?
Where does the initial blame lie? Who is addressed by the prophet in v. 6.? — The priests who served at His altar, and yet despised His Name. They were guilty on at least two counts. They offered polluted offerings for themselves and for the people. In fact they accepted from the people that which was polluted, and then offered it in the full knowledge that it was polluted.
"A son honoureth his father, and a servant his master: if then I be a father, where is My honour (respect)? and if I be a master, where is My fear? O priests that despise My Name. Ye offer polluted bread (offerings) upon Mine altar; and ye say, ‘Wherein have we polluted Thee?’ In that ye say, ‘The table of the Lord is contemptuous (despised).’" The Name is synonymous with the Name Bearer, and the Table with the Altar. Cf. Esau’s attitude to his parents. (Gen. 26.34-35; 28.8-9).
At the mention of the "Table of the Lord" we must certainly think forward for a half a millenium to a letter written to a church which despised the Table at which they sat, and the question asked by the letter writer was, "Do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than He?" And again, "Despise ye the Church of God . . . shall I praise you in this?" Again, "Let a man examine himself and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup." (1 Cor. 10 and 11).
"We have an altar, whereof they have no right to eat which serve the tabernacle." (Hbe. 13.10).
We have already said that Malachi is a book of self-examination, or proving. The first question, "Wherein hast Thou loved us?" is followed by another. "Wherein have we despised (or, ‘made contemptible’) Thy Name?"
Given the answer that they had offered polluted offerings, another question easily comes, "Wherein have we polluted Thee," The excuses we find!
The answer? "The Table of the Lord is contemptible." Of little account. Of so little account that the offerings were also of little value. The blind, the lame and the sick were good enough for God, but would the governor accept such? "Let a man examine himself." Think again of Romans 12.1. The offerings of old time had to be carefully examined. How do we fare in a self-examination?
Is the Table at which we sit just a formality? And the gifts we offer both practically and spiritually (although even our practical giving should have a spiritual evaluation), are they of less value than those we offer to others? Practically, as the Lord prospers us? Spiritually, with genuine worship? The word of the Apostle John comes to us again, "Little children, keep yourselves from idols."
v. 9. Addressing the spiritual leaders of the nation, and in an ironical mood, Malachi urges them to seek the face of God (not, it will be noticed, the Lord) that He be gracious. The fault was their’s: would God accept their intercessions? What is it James says? "My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ the Lord of glory, with respect of persons."
v. 10. The NEB renders, "Better far that one of you should close the great door altogether, so that the light might not fall thus in vain upon My altar." An empty place of worship is far better than an empty worship—in fact the one leads to the other. And herein lies the answer to the constant "Why?" of many believers in many churches as they see dwindling numbers—including those among whom we ourselves meet. The warning notes addressed to five of the seven churches in Asia, like the voices of the O.T. prophets, sounded upon deaf ears.
w. 11-13. The Gentiles would honour the Name of the Lord, but the priests—who should have been ‘ensamples to the flock’—and the people of the prophet’s day saw the Table and the offerings as polluted and contemptible. This was their view of worship. They considered the Table and the offerings as a weariness and, as one has expressed it, they pooh-poohed. In other words, a strict observance was unnecessary. Anything would do so long as at some time or other they made some kind of a show of worship.
v. 14. The chapter ends with a curse upon the deceiver who, making a vow, offered a female of the flock—and even that had a blemish!—instead of the customary male offering. A vow was not something compulsive, but if made, only the best was good enough. Have we ever sung of our heart fulfilling its vow "some offering bring Thee now, something for Thee?"
"I am a great King" says the Lord of hosts. Dare we approach Him without the wedding garment? Or, as priests, go into His Awful Presence without the priestly garments?
What Must I Do To Be Saved?
(by an Ulster Youth)
- And as I searched the Scriptures more and more,
- I soon discovered that in memory’s store,
- A massive hoard of Scriptures I possessed
- And by this fact I greatly was impressed,
- Lest after all, I should Salvation miss
- And find myself within the dark abyss.
- What then would be my torment and regret; Mark 9v48; Luke 16v23
- Eternally unable to forget Luke 16v31
- The Scriptures that I tried to memorise,
- That to Salvation could have made me wise? 2Tim. 3v15
- About this time, in anguish I would roam
- Around the farm and riverside at home.
- A little yellow hymnbook from the Tent
- Was in my pocket with a Testament.
- At intervals I stopped to read a bit
- And in my desperation try to fit
- Myself into the verses that I read,
- But all my effort wasn’t worth a shred.
- Th’ Apostle Paul of sinners was the chief 1Tim. 1vv13-15
- And in his ignorance and unbelief
- He persecuted Christians yet got saved,
- In spite of how he previously behaved.
- I thought that I was worse by far than Paul,
- For I was not in ignorance at all:
- My unbelief was sinning against Light Jn. 3v19
- and so my judgment would be just and right.
- Since God’s last message I had failed to heed,
- No right had I for mercy now to plead,
- Or special category status claim
- Since there was no one but myself to blame.
- I well recall one night when it was told
- How Judas with the priests conspired and sold Matt. 26vv.l4-16
- The Saviour to them for a paltry price,
- For Preacher "B" declared that his device
- Was first of all to get some money then,
- And later on, repeat the deal again;
- For crowds had often gathered round the Lord;
- Mobs tried to murder Him with one accord ; Jn. 8v59;
- With stones and weapons often they were armed, Jn. 10vv31-39
- But yet He passed right through their midst unharmed. Luke 4vv28-30
- Judging by what had happened in the past,
- This time, thought Judas, wouldn’t be the last.
- But Judas didn’t know he’d missed his day,
- And never would again the Lord betray.
- The preacher then compared this case with those,
- Who though they’re anxious to be saved, suppose
- That since they’ve often been concerned before,
- And found, despite the fact that they forbore
- To finalise these things, the thoughts recurred ;
- They then assume it would not be absurd
- To think that some time later on, they’ll find
- Anxiety returning to their mind.
- He said this was presumption to suggest,
- For now’s the time that sinners can be blest. 2Cor 6v2
- And nobody on earth could guarantee Prov 27v1
- It’s not their final opportunity.
- He stressed this point so strongly I was scared,
- And secretly resolved, if I were spared
- That I would give more earnest heed and leave Heb 2v1
- No stone unturned till I should life receive.
- Hoping Salvation’s plan to illustrate
- I’d often get my parents to relate
- How they found Life themselves and Peace Divine:
- I tried to correspond their case to mine.
- At last, reluctantly, I thought I should
- Talk to the Preachers for perhaps they could
- Express the same truths in a different way,
- That might some prejudice of mine allay.
- The Wednesday night I never will forget
- When in the Bungalow with me they met.
- And when they asked me what my trouble was,
- My Unbelief, I told them, was the cause. Jn. 8v24
- They clearly showed the Work of Christ to be
- The only thing that could avail for me. Rom. 5vv6-8
- They then went on to ask me what I’d tell
- Some soul who didn’t know the Gospel well
- Who asked me if I could to him explain
- How he could Pardon, Joy and Peace obtain.
- I’d tell him nothing needed to be done
- But just believe in Jesus Christ God’s Son. Acts 16v31
- The preachers asked if that would meet his need
- I said it would of course, and they agreed,
- And said, "But surely it would work for you?"
- I simply had to own that this was true.
- Then Preacher "A" just added one thing more
- That never had occurred to me before.
- He said that when to Christ a person comes,
- No mighty thrill of joy the heart benumbs;
- One won’t exhaustively appreciate
- Christ’s Work, for it is infinitely great,
- And all Eternity will not suffice Rev 5v9
- to comprehend His wondrous sacrifice.
- They let me go as soon as’ they had prayed
- While all these matters in my mind I weighed,
- And as my mother drove the car along
- I knew that all my theories had been wrong.
- I thought of when the Lord was crucified
- That it was for iniquities He died. Isa 53v6
- And God laid all sins on Him, then I thought:
- Christ bore all sin when He Salvation wrought.
- Included was the sin of Unbelief 1Jn 5v10
- That dreadful sin, that caused me so much grief.
- Here lay the answer and the remedy,
- The Work of Christ was adequate for me.
- No strange emotion shivered down my spine:
- No feeling of great joy and peace was mine,
- But as the car approached the town that night
- I knew I was accepted in God’s sight. Eph 1v6
- As soon as I got home I went to bed,
- But didn’t go to sleep until I read
- Through nearly all my Gospel literature.
- No longer did I find the tracts obscure;
- Tract writers now no more did I accuse
- Of using language likely to confuse.
- I was delighted as I read to find
- That Abraham and I were of one mind— Romans 4
- Fully persuaded; doubts all laid aside: Rom 4vv20-21
- Mistrust dissolved; convinced and satisfied
- Regarding faith in God’s trustworthiness,
- That what He says, He means: no more, no less.
- Faith’s not the final product of some chain Hebrews 11
- Of intricate deductions in the brain.
- It is the calm belief of Gospel facts
- Apart from any sort of human acts Rom 3v28
- In human efforts, be no more engrossed,
- Salvation’s not of works, lest man should boast. Eph. 2vv8-9
The First Assembly
by Eric Parmenter (Wimborne)
ACTS 2, v. 41-47
Against the background of the Sun Rising of His Resurrection the Lord Jesus came to the apostles and spoke unto them saying—"All power is given unto me in heaven and on earth, go ye therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you : and lo I am with you all the days unto the completion of the ages" (Matt. 28. v. 18-20 marg.).
There is no power whose attraction is greater than the authoritative word of the Lord spoken in resurrection power for the guidance of the apostles in accomplishing the purposes of God.
Turning to the book of the Acts both the apostle to the circumcision, Peter, and the apostle to the Gentiles, Paul, felt the attractiveness of that authoritative word when it came to planting assemblies in those early days.
Observe what the word of the risen Lord involved:—
(1) Making disciples—such were made by preaching.
(2) Marking disciples—this was accomplished by baptising.
(3) Moulding disciples—such would be effected by teaching.
The apostle Peter in Acts 2 followed out the word of the Lord on the day of Pentecost, note, Peter preached and those that believed were baptised and continued steadfastly in the teaching and fellowship of the apostles. The apostle Paul in Acts 18 came to Corinth, the Lord speaking to him in the night by a vision encouraging his servant not to be afraid, nor to hold his peace but speak . . .; Paul preached and many of the Corinthians hearing, believed, and were baptised . . . and Paul continued there a year and six months teaching the word of God among them. So that it is evident that it mattered not whether Jews or Gentiles comprised the congregation, the word of the Lord was followed in simplicity by the apostles and assemblies were planted both in Jerusalem and Corinth as also elsewhere.
Looking at the verses in Acts 2 there were certain characteristic marks attaching to. the first assembly at Jerusalem which have an immediate appeal:
- (1) They continued steadfastly.
- (2) Had all things common.
- (3) They parted to all as every man had need.
- (4) Continued daily with one accord.
- (5) Eating their food with gladness and singleness of heart.
- (6) Praising God . . .
Perseverance and Power were characteristic of the first assembly which when put together in a simple way means that exemplified among these early Christians was the :
- Power of continuance — continued steadfastly
- Power of Love — had all things common
- Power of Consecration — They parted . . as every man had need
- Power of Unity — continued with one accord
- Power of Contentment — eating their food with gladness Power of Worship — praising God
What a pattern for local assemblies to follow :
- Positionally—"all that believed were together": and God has never changed His mind as to that.
- Practically—they persevered even though it would soon be evidenced that there were forces at work against them.
How great the need today for all in assembly fellowship to have a mind to emulate these early Christians and cultivate this sixfold power as we meet in assembly, gathered unto His name, that it might be manifest that, "God is among you of a truth."
It was soon to be realised that this delightful assembly was in the midst of a hostile world, chapter 4 opens with the first attack on this infant assembly but such only served to unfold the exemplary conditions prevailing among them.
In chapter 3 a mighty miracle had been performed on the man who was above 40 years old, the results of which were as follows :—
- (1) Preachers were put in hold . . . 4 v. 3.
- (2) Jewish Sanhedrin held Court . . . 4 v. 5-7.
- (3) With threatenings the preaching must stop . . 4 v. 17,21.
What grand reading the preachers’ answer to such intimidation makes :
"Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you rather than unto God judge ye, for we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard" (4 v. 19-20).
If the testimony of God was right then as far as these preachers were concerned it would be wrong to submit to such intimidation and in adopting this attitude they were not by such action in. conflict with Paul’s later teaching in Rom. 13 for both Peter and John recognised that "the authority" in this case was fighting against God, and like the apostle Paul, felt the absolute necessity of preaching Christ to the people.
If their answer makes thrilling reading : their actions in such circumstances would set a positive example to be followed.
"And being let go they went to their own company" 4 v. 23.
In chapter 4 v. 32 not one of the believers regarded their possessions as their own, but here they did most certainly regard their fellow believers as their own. So that, when the testimony of God was being opposed, they went to their own company. This raises the question, what was it that attracted them to each other? verse 32 unfolds the secret . . . "and the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul" (i.e.) they were living in the practical power of the essential oneness of eternal life into which the grace of God had brought them, so that affections flowed freely among them and between them. Or to borrow what Paul later wrote. They stood fast in one spirit with one soul striving together for the faith of the gospel (Phil. 1, 27).
It is no wonder that this first assembly came under attack: Satan could not afford to allow this condition of things to continue unhindered.
When the preachers reported all that the chief priest and elders said unto them, there was an immediate response by the saints : "when they heard they lifted up their voice to God with one accord . . ." v. 24 (i.e.) they immediately gave themselves to Prayer, not merely collective prayer but united prayer, because they were of one heart and one soul.
What a difference it would make today if when trouble overtakes brethren the believers would come together and respond immediately in the same way as we have it in this first assembly.
Observe their prayer evidenced their knowledge of God : They knew God as their Sovereign Lord : They knew God as all powerful, who created all. So that those opposing the testimony were after all only the creatures of His hand. Next their prayer confessed that they were not surprised at what had happened, quoting the word of the Psalmist, with Calvary fresh in their minds they knew that they would be involved in the rejection of Christ, and must needs share His reproach. Thirdly, their prayer showed that the testimony was everything to them as they said, "grant unto thy servants that with all boldness they may speak Thy word" (v.29)
If they were united in prayer, they were also united in power cf v. 31. "When they had prayed the place was shaken" — that was the external sign that their prayer was heard.
- "and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit" — that was the internal experience.
- "and they spake the word of God with boldness" — that was the outward manifestation.
What a concentration of spiritual power would be in manifestation if every brother and every sister in local assemblies today were filled with the Holy Spirit, remembering Paul’s word to the assembly at Ephesus "Be ye filled with the Spirit " (Eph. 5.18) meaning, be ye continuously filled with the Spirit, such is to be the normal experience of the Christian. The Spirit of God is only waiting for us to throw open every door to every department of our lives and He will fill us for the glory of God.
With the Holy Spirit dwelling in our midst ungrieved, unhindered, and unrestricted we would surely begin to see things happen :—in passing note, being filled with the Holy Spirit did not issue in every believer speaking in tongues, but rather "they spake the word of God with boldness : and with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection: and great grace was upon them all (verses 31-33). So that in that power and grace the testimony developed, the gospel prospered and the fruits of the grace of God in His people produced a spirit utterly selfless and sett-sacrificing in their devoted love to the Lord and to each other.
Would that God would graciously grant us a little reviving of these things.
With the first attack on this assembly having met with failure Satan now turns to what might be a possible source of implementation within the assembly and finds ready material in a husband and wife as we find in chapter 5.
Ananias carries in the meaning of his name this testimony: ‘Jah has shown him grace’ and chapter 5 is the story of how we can abuse the grace of God we have received, to our own destruction.
The believers at Jerusalem are once more faced with a real difficulty, from the company of chapter 4, where all were united in prayer and power with the grace of God upon them — from that company there is carried our a man and a woman dead.
Why was this? because of the sin of duplicity.
Believers who having land, sold it, that the proceeds of the sale might be laid at the apostles feet, for the common fund, to relieve the necessities of the poor: Ananias and Saphira also had a possession, they likewise sold it and pretended that what money was laid at the apostles feet was all the proceeds of the sale, which in fact was only part of the money. They did not intend to injure anyone with such deceitful practice or in the lie that they told: yet the seriousness of the incident is expressed in Peter’s word to them . . .
- Ye have lied to the Holy Spirit (v. 3).
- Thou hast not lied unto men but unto God (v. 4).
- Ye have tempted the Spirit of the Lord (v. 9).
In summary, what Peter said was, you might think you have lied unto men but in fact this lie that you have perpetrated, it is against God, the God who indwells the assembly: How solemn and how searching such words become. How necessary to learn the lesson, that we cannot do as we like in the local assembly, why? because the presence of God indwells it.
Yet what might seem a real set-back was put to the account of the believers, in verse 11 "great fear came upon all the church and upon as many as heard these things:" verse 14 "and believers were the more added to the Lord."
In chapter 6 another difficulty was encountered, not this time the sin of duplicity which manifested God’s ways in government to preserve the purity of the assembly. But murmurings were heard among the saints despite the presence of the apostles with them, there are murmurings today, there were murmurings as far back as Acts 6. The murmuring arose because certain widows were being neglected in the daily ministration.
Whereas God intervened in the sin of Ananias and Saphira this difficulty was left for the assembly to deal with so that the murmuring might be rectified for God’s glory. How was the matter rectified? Note, the difficulty was met with in an atmosphere of prayer which resulted in securing peace among the believers and blessing in the outreach of the gospel (chapter 6. v. 7). In verse 2 it was not meet that the apostles should leave the word of God and serve tables. Thus it was left to the assembly to choose seven men to deal with the difficulty and having chosen them the apostles appointed them. The matter under consideration was the collection and its distribution, and the apostles recognised that the believers must have a voice in what they give and how it is distributed.
Herein is an important principle to observe : No matter how spiritual elders might be, or how much they might be men of integrity, it must never be thought that elders should have the first, the last, and the only voice in connection with the collection.
In what the assembly gives, it must of necessity have a voice, so in this early day the assembly chose the seven men who would deal with the matter : It is of interest to observe that the murmuring arose among the converted Hellenist (i.e.) foreign speaking Jews and those who were appointed to handle the matter of the collection and its distribution were all converted Hellenists : Perhaps we would have resorted to a different method, having those who were independent of the problem—or three from each side, calling in one of the apostles to arbitrate—but not in this first assembly. What was the result of the murmuring and its consequent rectification—verse 7 "and the word of God increased and the /number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith.
Would that we were prepared to move along similar lines, instead of sweeping difficulties under the carpet and carrying
on with the meetings as though the problem did not exist, in an atmosphere of prayer the assembly would wait upon God that His mind might be revealed and His voice heard, so under Divine direction the difficulty would be resolved, resulting in believers living in peace, the word of God preached with power and glory secured for God dwelling in the midst of His people.
Such were some of the things that marked the first assembly at Jerusalem, the principles of which are of tremendous import for all assemblies of God’s people today, and if great grace and power marked the first assembly then such could be in evidence again were we to submit to the authority of God’s word and move in the practical power of the essential oneness of Eternal life into which the grace of God has brought us.
Notes on Revelation
by Jim Flanigan (Northern Ireland)
"THE SEVEN TRUMPETS"
We have seen that the judgments of the Great Tribulation are depicted under a series of Seals, Trumpets, and Vials.
Seven seals are broken, seven trumpets are blown, and seven bowls of wrath are poured out. Six seals have been broken in chapter 6, and now, after the great parenthesis of chapter 7, we are brought to the breaking of the seventh seal. Our interpretation of this seventh seal will be determined by our understanding of the relationship between seals, trumpets, and vials. As the final seal is broken, Heaven is silent. What is the significance of this silence? Those who view the seals, trumpets, and vials, as consecutive judgments will interpret the silence as the calm before the storm, an ominous silence, and the prelude to more wrath to come. If, however, the seals, trumpets, and vials, are not consecutive, but concurrent, i.e. three different aspects of the same days of great tribulation, then the silence is the silence of judgment accomplished. If the sixth seal, in chapter 6, brought us to the Day of the Lord, the Revelation of the King-Judge, the Great Day of His Wrath, then the seventh seal is the awful intimation that judgment is complete and Heaven resits.
Now we are introduced to the seven trumpeting Angels who are about to sound ; but before they do so there is a most interesting interlude at the beginning of chapter 8. Another Angel appears, and stands at the Altar. It is a fair principle, that if no other identification is added, then the altar referred to is the brazen altar of sacrifice. Here the Angel receives the burning incense which is to be offered upon the Golden Altar. There are two altars in v. 3. The priestly character of this ministry almost certainly identifies the Angel as our Great High Priest Himself, our Lord Jesus. Only He would have the ability and capacity and authority to make the prayers of the saints acceptable, as this Angel does. To the intercessions of the saints He adds the perfume and fragrance of His own person and they are accepted. But note too, that having offered fragrance at the golden altar, He now takes fire from the brazen altar and pours it upon the earth. Here is1 the great principle, that Calvary not only gives God the right to bless, but gives Him the right to judge also. His rights having been thus established, the seven angels now prepare to sound.
The first trumpet brings the most appalling extremes of judgment; Hail and Fire in a shower of Blood ! The "third part" of things is affected under each trumpet in this chapter.
Is this a reference to the Roman Earth? Is it the territory of the Beast and apostate Christendom? Trees and grass are here the subjects of the judgment; man in his dignity, and man in his weakness, all sharing in the wrath.
The second trumpet sounds in v. 8 and a burning mountain is cast into the sea. If we interpret the symbolism correctly, then here is the casting down among the peoples of some prominent dignitary. The same figure is used of Babylon in Jeremiah 51.25. Are we to see here the apostasy of a most influential personage whose downfall affects the masses (the sea), and also the very commercial life of men (the ships)?
The third trumpet sounds, and a great star falls from Heaven. It is the fall of a leading light-bearer and "spiritual" guide. John Baptist was a burning and a shining Lamp. So also was this star now fallen. Stars and lamps are expressive of light-bearing in the darkness. So the same symbols were used in connection with the assemblies in chs. 2-3 — they were guides during the night of their testimony. Now the light to which men have looked is fallen, in the days of the third trumpet. The whole stream of life is affected (the rivers), and the very sources of things (the fountains). The Star is named "Wormwood." Wormwood was a bitter herb, always used in the Old Testament as a symbol of sorrow (Deut. 29.18; Jer. 9.15; 23.15; Lam. 3.15; Amos 5.7). The bitterness of death is here with the fall of the great One.
In verse 12 the fourth angel sounds, and Sun, Moon, and Stars, are involved in the judgment. These are the consistent symbols of Rule and of Government, but now, with apostasy of leaders comes the darkness of anarchy, and if the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!
In the concluding verse of chapter 8 the "angel" is in most manuscripts an "eagle." He flies through the midst of Heaven anticipating the remaining trumpet judgments, and he cries the three-fold "Woe, Woe, Woe." There is a principle with seals, trumpets, and vials, (and perhaps with the Lampstands too), that they are consistently divided into four and three.
The fifth angel sounds in ch. 9.1, and a Star is seen, not "falling," as in the A.V., but "fallen." There may be a reference to the star of ch. 8.10, and it is conceivable that the two fallen dignitaries of the second and third are, in fact, the Beast and the False Prophet of chapter 13. To this fallen star is given the key of the Abyss. He receives authority to unloose the powers of darkness, just as Peter received keys and authority of a more blessed nature. When he opens the bottomless pit there emits darkness and pollution, and an army of locusts out of the smoke of the pit. It is the rampant demonism of the last days. But the Lord knoweth them that are His, and Bis sealed servants are immune; but Divine Sovereignty permits the tormenting of men for a defined limited period. The locust-tormentors have the power and fury of the war-horse, the authority of crowned heads, the intelligence of men, the attractiveness of women, and the ferocity of lions. They have iron protection, they are as formidable and irresistible as a charge of cavalry, and they have the deadly, painful sting of scorpions. Their intimacy with their King, whose Name, whether the Hebrew Abaddon, or the Greek Apollyon, means Destroyer, clearly identifies them as Demons. "Destroyer" is the opposite and antithesis of "Saviour." Apollyon is Satan.
As the sixth trumpet sounds, four angels are loosed. They have been under Divine restraint until the exact moment arrives. The very hour, and day, and month, and year, of their awful ministry has been decreed; now it has arrived. Whether these be elect angels or evil is of little account. Their release, at the Euphrates, Israel’s territorial boundary, is the release too, of an army of two hundred million horsemen. If we parallel this sixth trumpet with the sixth vial in chapter 16, then these armies are the armies of the Kings of the East. Perhaps the number is not to be taken literally, but symbolic of immensity and vastness, but it is interesting and striking, that as long ago as 1965, China alone boasted that she could field an army of two hundred million fighting men and women, exactly the number of Revelation 9.16. The picture is terrible in the extreme. Fire! Smoke! Brimstone! Horses! Lions! Serpents! Plagues! Demons! Idolatry! Murder! Sorcery! Fornication! Theft! As Scott remarks— "An astounding picture of human depravity."
Notice that the heart of man is never changed by judgment.
There may be remorse, and even despair, but never repentance. Only the sweet influence of gospel grace can beneficially affect the human heart. Here, as in the fearful scenes of chapter 16, and consistent with the principles of Romans 1, it is insisted that "men repented not."
Before the seventh angel sounds in ch 11.15, there is another parenthesis, and when the seventh trumpet is blown we are brought to the moment of the revelation of the King. The interlude of chapter 10 will teach us that behind all the confusion on earth, and in spite of the apparent triumph of Satanism and the forces of Spiritism, nevertheless, the purposes of God are being wrought out and Heaven is in control.
Worship is so commonly associated in people’s minds with external ceremonies that the fact is sometimes overlooked that true worship is a thing of the heart, an emotion of the soul. Prayer is a blessed exercise for all who realise their weakness and need ; thanksgiving is comely for those who have received great things from God; but worship is a higher sentiment than any of these, because it contemplates not His works only, but God Himself—His perfections and glories. Our English word is simply a contraction of the Anglo—Saxon "worthship," which means ascribing honour to one who is worthy.
Mere formalities can never satisfy One who has, as it were, emptied His very heart for the blessing of men. The love that expressed itself in the cross of Jesus deserves more in return than tihe most elaborate ritual that could be devised. Of mere ceremonialists our Lord once said : "In vain do they worship me" (Matt. xv. 9); and to one who represented a people who had long contended about places of worship His word was, "Ye worship ye know not what" (John iv. 22). The heart cannot adore One whom it knows not. The heart begins its knowledge of God with the realisation of its guilt, and the sweet assurance that the blood of Jesus has put it all away. This sets the conscience at rest for ever, and dissipates all its dread. Then, the gifts being appreciated, the Giver becomes all in all. The more He is known the more profoundly does the soul bow down in adoration before Him. "God my exceeding joy," says the Psalmist. "We joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ," says the Apostle (Psa. xliii. 4; Rom. v. 11).
Though worship is in itself essentially the same in all ages, there are differences connected with it in the different dispensations instituted by God. Thus the patriarchs adored Him as God Almighty ; Israel as Jehovah; while Christians are privileged to know Him as Father, the Only-Begotten Son who is eternally in the bosom of the Father having been here and told out all His love. Again, in patriarchal times, worship was a family thing exclusively, any kind of congregational gathering being unknown ; in Israel, worship was centred in the national gathering, no distinction being made between converted and unconverted; in Christianity worship is associated with the assembly of God, which is a Divine election drawn from all the peoples of the earth.
The Holy Spirit is the power for worship, as for every other spiritual exercise. As a skilful Musician He plays upon the hearts of those who have received the infinite grace of God, and produces harmony delightful in the ears of heaven. The Lord Jesus said of true worshippers, "The Father seeketh such to worship Him" (John iv. 23). It is truly wonderful that He should find delight in the spiritual sacrifices of the children of men, but the presence of the great High Priest in the heavenly sanctuary explains the marvel. The perfections of His own person and work give efficacy before God to all that ascends from His people below.
Hymns And Their Writers (9)
by Jack Strahan (Enniskillen)
"TAKE MY LIFE"
FRANCES RIDLEY HAVERGAL (1836—1879)
Frances Ridley Havergal, the "sweet singer" of England was born at Astley in Worcestershire on December 14th, 1836, a few months before Princess Victoria acceded to the throne of England. Frances, daughter of Rev. W. H. Havergal, M.A. was the youngest of a family of four girls and two boys. As a child she was called "Fanny" but always liked to sign herself Frances. Her middle name "Ridley" stemmed from that of the godly Bishop Ridley martyred three centuries before. Naturally bright, intelligent and extremely talented, she learned to read at the age of two, could read the bible at four, and at seven started to write simple verse. She had a prodigious memory and by the age of twenty, had committed to memory the four gospels, all the epistles, the Revelation, the Psalms and Isaiah’s prophecy; the minor prophets she learned in later years. She was an outstanding linguist, fluent in French, German and Italian and had a good working knowledge of Latin, Greek and Hebrew. As a pianist, she was proficient in classical works, as a singer she was a talented contralto soloist, and as a composer met with the appraisal of many masters, including the great Ferdinand Hiller of Cologne in Germany, who said of her harmonies that he could give them almost unlimited praise. At an early age, Frances placed all this wealth of talent on the altar of consecration, to be used henceforth only for her Lord.
In later life, she recorded the spiritual experiences of her earlier years when persuaded that it might be helpful to others. As a young child, she longed to be Christ’s and at times even dared to whisper her inner heart’s secret, "Oh, if God would but make me a Christian!" At eleven years of age, her mother died leaving with Prances words which henceforth would become her life prayer, "Fanny dear, pray to God to prepare you for all He is preparing for you." The great spiritual crisis of conversion came when she had passed her 14th birthday, "Then I committed my soul to the Saviour, I do not mean to say without any trembling or fear, but I did—and earth and heaven seemed bright from that moment—I did trust the Lord Jesus." Her confirmation in Worcester Cathedral 3J years later left deep impressions. It was then that the thought of "whose I am" burst upon her for the very first time. The words of solemn pronouncement, "Defend, oh Lord, this Thy child with Thy heavenly grace that she may continue Thine for ever . . ." arrested her! "Thine for ever" — what a thought! How she wept! Her heart thrilled with earnest longing. On that self same day, July 17th, 1854, within the cathedral, she wrote,
- "Oh! "Thine for ever," what a blessed thing
- To be for ever His who died for me!
- My Saviour, all my life Thy praise I’ll sing,
- Nor cease my song throughout eternity."
The months and years that followed brought an increasing desire for an unreserved surrender of herself to God. The year 1873 was a year of unsurpassed1 spiritual blessing. "It was on Sunday, December 2nd, 1873, I first saw the blessedness of true consecration—that there must be full surrender before there can be full blessedness—I was shown that "The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin," and then it was made plain to me that He who had cleansed me had power to keep me clean; so I just utterly yielded myself to Him and entirely trusted Him to keep me."
Now that there was full surrender, she was in the Master’s hand—a vessel sanctified, meet for the Master’s use. She wrote now as she could never write before. It was at this time that she penned many of her immortal hymns. "My strong belief is" she affirms, "that if I am going to write to any good, a great deal of LIVING must go to a very little WRITING." Her prose meditations and hymns are saturated with the living Word of God and permeated with a fragrance of her devotion to Christ. "I can never set myself to write. I believe my King suggests a thought and whispers me a line or two, and then I look up and thank Him delightfully and go on with it. That is how the hymns and poems come." She wrote prayerfully, verse by verse, and line by line, like a little child; "You know a child would look up at every sentence and say, "And what shall I say next?" That is what I do."
- "I look up to my Father, and know that I am heard,
- And ask Him for the glowing thought, and for the fitting word.
- I look up to my Father, for I cannot write alone
- ‘Tis sweeter far to seek His strength, than lean upon my own."
Throughout her days simply and sweetly, Frances sang the love of God and His way of salvation. Of the sixty or so hymns coming from her pen the following are, perhaps, the best known :—
- (a) "I am trusting Thee, Lord Jesus"
- (b) "I bring my sins to Thee"
- (c) "I gave my life for Thee"
- (d) "Like a river glorious"
- (e) "Master speak! Thy servant heareth"
- (f) "Lord, speak to me"
- (g) "Precious, precious blood of Jesus"
- (h) "Take my life and let it be"
- (i) "Thou art Coming, O my Saviour"
"I am trusting Thee Lord Jesus" was, perhaps, her own personal favourite and the words were found in her little pocket bible after her death, but Frances is best remembered for her great consecration hymn, "Take my life, and let it be consecrated, Lord, to Thee." Let Frances herself tell the story of its writing. "I went for a little visit of five days. There were ten persons in the house, some unconverted and long prayed for, some converted but not rejoicing Christians. He gave me the prayer, "Lord1 give me all in this house!" And He just did! Before I left the house, everyone had got a blessing. The last night of my visit, I was too happy to sleep and passed most of the night in praise and renewal of my own consecration, and these little couplets formed themselves and chimed in my heart one after another, till they finished with, "Ever, Only, All for Thee!"
- ‘Take my life, and let it be
- Consecrated, Lord, to Thee;
- Take my moments and my days,
- Let them flow in ceaseless praise.
- Take my hands, and let them move
- At the impulse of Thy love;
- Take my feet, and let them: be
- Swift and beautiful for Thee.
- Take my voice, and Jet me sing
- Always, only, for my King ;
- Take my lips, and let them be
- Fill’d with messages from Thee.
- Take my silver and my gold—
- Not a mite would I withhold ;
- Take my intellect and use
- Ev’ry power as Thou shalt choose.
- Take my will, and make it Thine—
- It shall be no longer mine :
- Take my heart—it is Thine own ;
- It shall be thy royal throne.
- Take my love; my Lord, I pour
- At Thy feet its treasure-store;
- Take myself, and I will be
- Ever, only ALL for Thee.’
This lovely hymn of Frances Ridley Havergal’s is but an echo of her own consecrated life. It has been translated into many languages (European, Asian and African) and has been greatly used of the Lord in effecting deeper consecration in hearts touched by the love of Christ. Frances wrote a precious little booklet, "Kept for the Master’s use" which in effect is a fitting commentary on this hymn and one of the most helpful on the subject of consecration and full surrender. Each of the 12 couplets in the hymn is a prayer—an offering to the Lord and born out of her own personal experience. The occasion when she declined to sing the part of Jezebel in Mendelssohn’s Elijah at the Kidderminster Concert gives the background to the words, "Take my voice, and let me sing, always, only, for my King." The couplet, "Take my silver and my gold," was written after she had decided to send her jewellery and ornaments to the Church Missionary Society, keeping only for daily wear, a locket, and a brooch which was a memorial to her parents. She wrote to her friend, "I don’t think I need tell you I never packed a box with such pleasure." The life span of Frances Ridley Havergal was just 42 years, but those years were full for God, and on June 3rd, 1879, to use her own words, she took
- "The one grand step, beyond the stars to God
- Into the splendour, shadowless and broad,
- Into the everlasting joy and light."
While today, beyond the stars, within the gate of heaven, she walks with God and1 sings as never before, yet still1 on earth she continues to speak through her writings—the fruit of a life consecrated wholly to God.
The Treasures of Darkness
- He will give you the treasures of darkness
- Before you come into the light,
- He can make you to others a blessing
- Right in the midst of your night.
- He will give you the treasures of darkness
- As you linger alone in the vale,
- He can cause you to echo His praises
- Over the hill and the dale.
- He will give you the treasures of darkness
- In the midst of the trial and fight,
- If only you’ll trust in Him wholly
- And find in Him your delight.
- He will give you the treasures of darkness
- Your precious life He will re-make
- Although you feel it was broken,
- Great music He’ll out of it take.
- He will give you the treasures of darkness
- You’ll praise Him for where you have trod
- And know He was leading you into
- A life that is worthwhile for your God.
"Delight thyself also in the Lord; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart" (Psalm 37.4).
The great reason that life is troubled and restless lies not without, but within. It is not our changing circumstances, but our unregulated desires, that rob us of peace. We are feverish, not because of the external temperature, but because of the state of our own blood. The very emotion of desire disturbs us; wishes make us unquiet. When a whole heart, full of varying, sometimes contradictory longings, is boi’ling within a man, how can he but tremble and quiver? . . . Unbridled and varying wishes, then, are the worst enemies to out repose . . . Whatsoever we make necessary for our contentment, we make lord of our happiness.
"To beautify the house of the Lord" (Ezra 7.27).
The ministry of the Holy Spirit is not exhausted, the purpose of God is not completed, when the dross has been burned up. God ever has a positive desire for His people and He longs not only that the dross shall be burned up, but also that the pattern shall be burned in—"Transformed into the same image." Here, in imagination, is a vase. It is going to be very useful1 . . . Like the vase, you long to be a useful Christian. But God desires something beyond that. Do you notice what pains have been taken to make the vase beautiful as well? Do we not realize that God wants His servants to be useful and beautiful for Him, in their character?
—Guy H. King.