NOTES ON REVELATION
by J. Flanigan
FOCUS ON FUNDAMENTALS
by J. B. Hewitt
by E. R. Bower
by A Leckie
MARK, Chapters 3-5
by James Pender
by J. Campbell
CHRIST IN THE APOCALYPSE
by J. B. D. Page
THE PLEA OF THE CAPTIVE
HYMNS AND THEIR WRITERS
by Jack Strahan
NOTES ON REVELATION
by JIM FLANIGAN
We have now come to the chapter of final revelations in in a Book which is all Revelation. It is a chapter of great variety. There is glory and gloom, blessing and warning, promise and prayer.
After the Book of Life in chapter 21.27, we are now introduced to the River of Life and the Tree of Life. All is Life here, because the curse that brought Death in all its forms is now no more. The crystal stream has its source and origin in the Throne of God. Where God’s rights are fully known and acknowledged there is Life. And it is interesting and touching that in these last visions of the Throne it is, “The Throne of God and of the Lamb.” The death of the Lamb has vindicated that Throne and ensured Life in the eternal state. God and the Lamb are enthroned. At the Throne we have our last vision of the Lamb.
The Tree of Life is a collective term. We must not try to imagine one solitary tree in the midst on every side. As we may perhaps say, “The Apple Tree grows well in such and such a country,” meaning the Apple Tree as a “kind,” so here, the Tree of Life, in the vision, grows along the street and by the river, on this side and on that side, in abundance, and produces its fruit with profuseness and regularity every month.
The leaves of that tree are for the health of the Nations. It is not “healing,” as if implying sickness that needs to be remedied. There is no sickness then. These are health-giving foliage ensuring that the ills of former days do not recur now, nor forever. The curse, with all its sad implications, is gone, and shall not exist any more.
His servants shall serve Him; not in arduous toiling, but in willing, delightful, happy service, which is a joy. If these servants are sons, that does not preclude service, for even that Blessed One was a Servant-Son. In the joy of that service we shall gaze on Him. We shall contemplate, with unclouded vision, the Face of Him Whom we have loved for so long without seeing; and as we look on Him, His likeness will be, for His pleasure, imprinted upon us. “His Name shall be on their foreheads.”
In that glorious place the light is unfading and the day unending. But it is a divine light, independent of either Sun or Lamp. It is the Lord God Who shines upon them.
Like the Christ Himself, the words given to John are, “Faithful and True.” They are the words of the God of the prophets, Who for so long spake to men and through men, conveying His Mind, but now the consummation has come. Blessed is that man whose life is ordered by the words of prophecy.
For a second time (see 19 :10) John falls to do homage to an angel. Again he is reminded that even the angels are but fellow-bondmen. Homage is for God alone.
The time is near now. The unsealed Book is given to men, and men will be judged according to their response, or lack of it, to the revelation of God. The coming of the Lord will settle destinies for the righteous and unrighteous alike. Happy are those, who, when He comes, are found with white robes, for this is right to the Tree of Life and the Glory, and all outside is uncleanness and sin.
“Alpha and Omega” of v. 13, is “Jesus” of v. 16. All the purposes of God, the beginning and the ending of them, are in Jesus. He is the Root of David, because He was before David, and He is the Offspring of David, because He came after David and from David’s line; and when He came, He came to David’s town. Here, however, He is not the Sun of Righteousness but the Morning Star. The Church waits for Him as such, but as such He will not be known to Israel or to the Nations. As we wait for Him, and look for Him, we watch the horizon and say, “Come!” It is the voice of the Spirit in the Bride. This is not a gospel invitation. We shall have that shortly. This is a cry from a waiting Church to her absent Lord — ‘Come!” Let every saint who hears join in the call. We long for Him. We yearn for Him. We cry— “Come!” But now we look about, and think of others. Is there yet a soul around with no Saviour? a thirsty one? Let him come, and whosoever he be let him take the water of Life. Gratuitously, freely, it is available still to him who will but come to Christ.
The last warning of our Bible now is sounded. Let no man tamper with the inspired volume. Let no man dare to add, or detract, from what God has written. If a man so dares, God shall add judgment to. him, and deny him any part in the Life of that City.
The last promise follows. How many promises we have had in sixty-six books of Holy Scripture. Here is the last
one; and how sweet, “Surely I come quickly.” May we each, and all, be able to join, unhesitatingly, unreservedly, in the concluding prayer of all scripture, “Even so, come, Lord Jesus.” May we be so weaned from earth’s things, so willing to leave them at any moment, that we can say resolutely with John, “Amen, come, Lord Jesus.” The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.
- “Lord we shall see Thee as Thou art,
- In all Thy glory there;
- We shall behold Thee face to face,
- Thy glorious image bear.
- With what delight, what wond’ring love,
- Each thrilling heart shall swell,
- When we, as sharers of Thy joy,
- Are called with Thee to dwell.”
FOCUS ON FUNDAMENTALS (25)
The Priesthood of Christ (Part 2)
by J. B. HEWITT, Chesterfield
THE SUFFICIENCY OF HIS PRIESTHOOD. (Hebrews 7.25-28).
The writer has shown the inferiority of the Levitical priesthood, it was temporary and provisional (v. 18,19); the new order will be unchangeable and uninterrupted by death (v. 20-25). Christ’s priesthood will be perpetual, marked by endless life and a perfect salvation (v. 24,25).
This Priest could not have had a predecessor and most certainly can never have a successor.
HIS POWERFUL PROVISION (v.25a). He is not only a continuing priest (v.24); but a capable priest (v. 25). He has ability because “He lives for evermore” (Rev. 1.18). He is able to sympathize (4.15); able to succour (2.18); and able to save (7.25). This truth is given great prominence in the N.T. (See Rom. 14.4; 16.25; 2 Cor. 9.8; Acts 20.32; Eph. 3.20; Phil. 3. 21; 2 Tim. 1.12; and Jude 24). May we be occupied daily with Divine Ability, His Activity is not only continuous but, it is a complete salvation, “to the uttermost.”
HIS PERPETUAL INTERCESSION (v.25c) gives us assurance. He saves and keeps. Priesthood is preventative, Advocacy is restorative (ch. 9.24; 1 John 2.2). Three functions are linked with His priesthood—offering, intercession and blessing. Of these the first was completed at the Cross, the second shall be finished when all need for it is passed, but the third shall never cease. We can approach God through Him (John 14.6), “Them that draw near” is another theme in this book (4.16; 7.25; 10.1; 10.22; 11.6; 12.18,22).
HIS PEERLESS PERSON (v.26). Here is the purity of the priest. These are the personal characteristics of Christ: “Holy”—Godward. Holiness of character and reverence toward God. He is the most suitable, acceptable and admirable person to officiate in the presence of God for us. “Guileless”—manward. Seeking not their hurt, but only their salvation. He is blameless and guileless and unstained is His dealings with men. “Undefiled”—inward. Free from all moral impurity or defilement. In Him beauty is combined with purity. His life was one of essential and unblemished purity, free from all taint, impossible of contracting defilement. “Separated from sinners”—upward. By the wonder of His character in life, and in death and in ascension. His moral excellence makes Him utterly unique. “Made higher than the heavens”—Godward. His moral glory is attested by God and He has been received to God’s throne as entirely worthy of His place there. His life is endless (v.25); His intercession ceaseless (v. 25); and His character sinless (v. 26).
HIS PERFECT SACRIFICE (v. 27). Their sacrifices were frequent. His was final; they offered animals, He offered Himself; they were sinners, He was sinless. His all-sufficient sacrifice required no repetition, but dealt with sins once for all (10.11,12). Christ on the Cross guarantees peace of conscience, while Christ on the Throne gives peace of heart.
THE SOVEREIGNTY OF HIS PRIESTHOOD (8.1-3)
This consecrated Priest is now in the place of Majesty (v.1), and the place of ministry (v. 2-5). His heavenly enthronement is in contrast to the earthly sanctuary. A Priest not of the material and the transient, but of the spiritual and the eternal, all is heavenly and divine.
His supremacy as priest in a position of status and honour —”right hand” (v.1). His sanctuary is heavenly in character and construction (v.2). The More Excellent Ministry is bound up with the new Covenant of Love (v.6).
- The Ground of it — based on His better ministry, His better covenant, His better promises,
- The Grace of it — God deals with Israel mercifully,
- The Gifts of it — set forth in v. 10-12, in quoting Jer. 31.31-34. These are the receipt of His pardon, the sweetness of His pity, the fellowship with His Person, the communion of His presence, and delight in His precepts.
THE SATISFACTION OF HIS WORK (chapter 10). In chapter nine we have a better sanctuary (v. 1-12); then the better sacrifice (9.13-10.10). The shortcomings of the Old Order (v. 1-4). It was Divinely made; but it fell far short of God’s full and final purpose. It was a temporal arrangement (v. 3). It was a partial arrangement (v. 1,4). Under the New Order, love offers a voluntary sacrifice which forever takes away sin (v. 12,14). The Lord Jesus came with the prepared body (v. 5), the sovereign will (v. 7,9), the old promise (v.7), the full and final offering (v. 10). Thus the sinner is “purged” (v.2), “sanctified” (v. 10), and perfected (v. 14). The witness of the Spirit confirms all (v.15-18), these secure the way into the Holiest (v. 17-25). Where the worship of the saint is accepted.
by E. R. BOWER, Worcester (continued)
THE FIRST VISION. The horseman upon the red horse. (1.7-17).
vv. 7-8. “I saw by night—the night of the 24th Sebat; “stood” —was standing; “the bottom”—a certain hollow; “red, speckled and white”—perhaps, red, sorrel and white.
There is a three month interval between vv. 6 and 7 during which came Haggai’s revelation of the 24th day of the ninth month (Hag. 2.10-25)—which see and compare, especially 2.20-23. From what follows it is obvious that there was more than one horseman, but it is the rider upon the red horse who catches the eye of the prophet and who is “beyond controversy” the Angel of Jehovah. Cf. v. 11.
vv. 9-10. “The angel that talked with me” (lit. ‘IN me’; see Num. 12.6-9 where ‘in him’ should be read, and Hab. 2.1 (margin)) appears to be an interpreter guide and we see him again in 1.18; 2.3; 4.1,5; 5.5,10; 6.4; Such guides are not infrequent in Scripture, e.g. Acts 12.7 and often in the Revelation. It is not the angel who answers the prophet but the horseman upon the red horse—the Angel of Jehovah. Upon the coincidence of the prophet’s question and its answer, with the question and answer at 6.4-5, it seems as if the horsemen and the chariots are identical—if not in fact, then in purpose. Cf. Rev. 6.1-8. Whether the horses here and in Rev. 6 are identical seems uncertain, but in any case only one rider is identified here.: The ‘messengers’ are identified simply by the colours of their horses. In chap. 6 the ‘chariots’ appear to identify with the ‘horses’ of Rev. 6. The mission of the horsemen reminds us of Job 1.
v. 11. “They”—the anonymous horsemen. Another reminder of the duties of the heavenly host. Their report is that the earth was at rest, and the heathen at ease (v. 15). But not for long! Cf. Is. 14.7.
v. 12. See 2 Chron. 36.21; Jer. 25; 9-12 (v. 12 in particular —”WHEN 70 years are accomplished”); Dan. 9.1-2; If the teaching concerning Daniel’s 70th week is accepted, i.e. that this particular week awaits fulfilment, this ‘when’ is significant in the present context. Is Zechariah, like John, transported in Spirit to the “day of the Lord”? For the believer, cf. Rom. 8.26-27.
v.13 conveys a “Fear not” such as those given at times of revelation, e.g. Dan. 10.12; Rev. 1.17. These are words of comfort for a waiting people. See Is. 51.3.
vv. 14-15. “A little”—a little while. Jehovah has always shown His jealous love for His people by His constant longsuffering and care for them, and His love will continue through until the completion of His purpose for them—and beyond—for His love, as He Himself, is eternal. See Ex. 20.5. We notice that it is Judah rather than Israel here; this because the 70 years concerned Judah (Jer. 25). It is true that Judah may embrace the whole nation for Jerusalem was the ‘place of the Name’ for Israel as a whole. The heathen were, and are, the instruments of God for the working out of His purposes, including His judgments, for Israel, but this time they had gone too far. See Is. 47.6. The LXX reads the second part of this verse as, “. . the heathen which combine to set upon (Israel) . . . and they combined to set upon . . .” Still true today!
vv. 16-17. “Yet . . .” Zechariah and Haggai had urged forward the building of the House (Ezra 5; Hag. 1.8;) but it was but a shadow of its former glory (Hag. 2.3) nevertheless the “LATTER glory shall be greater than the former” i.e. greater than the first (Solomon’s) Temple (Hag. 2.9). This we know awaits its fulfilment and the fulfilment of Hag. 2.6-7. The stretching of the line is in chap. 2. Cf. Ezek. 40 and Rev. 11. Jerusalem is to be chosen AGAIN. See 2.12; 3.2; Is. 14.1 and cf. Hos. 5.15-6.3 with Zech. 12.10. Israel acknowledges their offences and pleads, ‘Guilty.’
THE SECOND VISION. The four horns and the four smiths. (1.18-21).
vv. 18-19. Horns are symbols of power and hostility, e.g. 1 Kings 22.11. It is possible that the beasts of Dan. 7 are seen here, but there are diverse opinions, but certainly Gentile powers are represented. If the ‘workmen’ are to ‘frighten’ the Gentiles, then who are the workmen? The “How long?” of v. 12 has an echo in Rev. 6.10. Are the horsemen and the workmen connected? Or the workmen and the living creatures of Rev. 4 and 7?
vv. 20-21. “Carpenters”—workmen; “fray”—frighten. The then present or the yet (even now) future? The apocalyptic language of the visions is obvious and reminiscent of the visions of Daniel, hence the workmen could be representative of the supernatural powers that control the nations. See Dan. 10. Some suggest that the wording of the vision suggests that each succeeding Gentile nation is the workman that frightens its predecessor — Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, Rome. In reading these visions the prophetic present whereby future events are seen as having already taken place, must be borne in mind.
THE THIRD VISION. The measuring of Jerusalem. (2.1-13).
vv. 1-2. In 1.19, Judah, Israel, Jerusalem; 1.21, Judah alone; here, Jerusalem. There appears to be no definite indication that the ‘surveyor’ was an angel, and in any case the survey was called off. Cf. the ‘man’ of Ezek. 9 and 40, and recall the ‘measuring’ of Rev. 11. 1-2. Think, too, of Ps. 48, “Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth” and see the force of Is. 14.13. See 1.16.
vv. 3-5. These words appear to mean, “. . the angel that talked with me went forth (to meet the man with the line) and another angel appeared to meet him, and said to him (i.e. the angel interpreter), Run, speak to this young man (the surveyor), saying . .” Some see the ‘surveyor’ as the rider upon the red horse, and the young man as the prophet. The implication is that the surveyor was told not to measure the city, for it was to be enclosed with walls no longer. Cf. Is. 26.1-4, “. . salvation will God appoint for walls and bulwarks,” perhaps a reminder of the pillar of cloud and of fire of the wilderness journey, and was not the Angel of Jehovah in the cloud? Jerusalem is the great concern of these visions and will, without doubt, be the concern of the prophet’s further revelation. Our Lord’s preview of the last days, ended with His lament, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem . .” Refs : Ps. 34.7; Is. 4.5,6; 49.19-20; Matt. 23.34-39).
vv. 6-7. “Ho! ho!” or, “Woe! Woe!”; “Deliver thyself, O Zion” or, “Ho! Zion” or, “Woe! Zion!” Israel and Judah had, quite literally, been scattered to the winds. Israel to Syria and the cities of the Medes (2 Kings 17.6); Judah to Babylon (2 Kings 25.21) and the book of Esther records that the Jews had been scattered from India to Ethiopia (1.1; 3,8; 3.12-14; 8.5-9). From these dispersed people, earlier calls to return had resulted in a mere 42,000 returning (Ezra 2.64; Neh. 7.66)—not enough to repopulate the land (Neh. 11.1-3) — for many remained in the land of their captivity and must have numbered many thousands. It is to them that the call goes out, “Back to the Land”—to Zion and the safety of the wall of fire; to the indwelling glory of their God. (cf. Is. 48.20; 52.11; Jer. 51.6,9,45. It has taken many centuries for the call to be obeyed but in this 20th century A.D. we may see fulfilment taking place before our eyes.
vv. 8-9. It has been said that v. 8 is the most difficult verse in this prophecy and it is possible that the “oracle of Jehovah” (i.e. the ‘thus saith the Lord’) belongs to vv. 6-7 thus completing a threefold ‘saith the Lord’ in those verses. This would clarify what follows here.
“After the glory” for His own glory, or after the vision, or with the glory, or with insistence, are other renderings. Who is the speaker here? The pronouns point to no particular person hitherto introduced. As w. 10-13 are admittedly Messianic by both Jewish and Christian commentators, is not the speaker, by inference, the Messiah Himself? “Jehovah sent by Jehovah” (Baron). The Servant-Messenger of Jehovah?
“His eye”—My eye. A reference to Deut. 32.10—the Song of Jehovah (31.19, 22,30) in which the judgments and the mercy of God for Israel at their “latter end” are set forth. Cf. Hag. 2.20-23. “Escape to Zion” for the anointed King is there; the Son of God reigns and has the heathen among whom you dwell as His inheritance, breaking them with a rod of iron (Ps. 2; Rev. 2.27).
“A spoil to their servants”—see Hab. 2.7-8. “Ye shall know” —a frequently occuring phrase among the prophets, e.g. Ezek. 6.7-10; 39.10. a. Is. 61.1-3; Luke 4.16-21;
vv. 10-12. “Joined to the Lord”—flee for refuge to; “To Him” or, “To Me” for a people; “I will dwell”—they shall dwell; ‘unto thee” i.e., to the daughter of Zion.
Surely we are upon Messianic ground. God with us, Immanuel (Is. 7.14; 12.6; Zeph. 3.14-15). An ancient promise fulfilled (Is. 7.14; Matt. 1.22-23). God is manifest in flesh (1 Tim. 3.16). The Gathering of the nations was also promised (Is. 2.1-4) for the last days. Isaiah’s vision also concerned Judah and Jerusalem. See Zech. 8.20-23; 14.16-19; Is. 40.9; Matt. 25.
“Holy Land”—the sole occurence in Scripture of this delightful phrase, but common enough today. Has the Land ever been a truly ‘holy’ land, as for instance in 14.20-21? The fulfilment of Ex. 19. 5-6 is still future (cf. Deut. 7.6; Is. 62 12; Lev. 20.22-26). Jerusalem had been chosen before (2 Chron. 6. 1-6; Cf. Ps. 48); it will have a second chosing.
v. 11. “Be silent”—hush; “Holy habitation”—the habitation of His holiness. See Hab. 2.20—Jehovah is in His holy Temple; Zeph. 1.7—the day of Jehovah is at hand. Cf. Ps. 46 (10); Rev. 11.19; 15.5-6; (To be continued)
by A. LECKIE, Airdrie (continued)
Now let us consider justified by His blood. In Romans 5.9 we read “Being now justified by His blood we shall be saved from wrath through Him.” Here is the basis of justification. The Basis is Calvary. There are other Scriptures that direct our attention to this truth. In verse 19 of this same chapter, the apostle goes on to say “for as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of One, shall many be made righteous.” In 2 Corinthians 5.21, the same apostle writes “For He made Him to be sin for us, Who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.” We shall think of these three portions of God’s Word. Romans 5.9 teaches that the basis of justification is His blood shed sacrificially at Calvary; blood shed that has satisfied the claims of divine justice against sin. This justification is a present possession; note the apostle’s use of the word “now.” The sinner who believes in Jesus neither hopes nor expects to be justified, he is now justified. How absurd it is then to suggest that the word “being” in this verse signifies that justification is a process. “Being” simply refers to all who during the course of this day of grace are justified. In verse 19 of Romans chapter 5, the basis of justification is “one man’s obedience,” our Saviour’s obedience; not His obedience during His entire life, but that one act of obedience on the Cross when He handed Himself over to the judgment of a Holy God against sin. Certain who relate the two unrelated truths of Election and Atonement make much of the apostle’s statement, “Many shall be made righteous.” The word “many” is not used by the apostle in terms of availability but in terms of result, or better, in terms of ultimate classification.
And now that solemnly interesting verse in 2 Corinthians 5.21. I like to think of this verse in this way, “God made my Saviour to be what by no process He could have become that I might be made in Him what by no process I could personally have become.” God made Him to be sin for us. Some like to render the verse in this way “He made Him to be a sin-offering for us;” I, however accept it as it is in our Authorised Version “He made Him to be sin for us.” What a thought! On the Cross God made the Saviour, Who knew no sin, to be sin for us and dealt with Him as He must deal with sin. I heard of a preacher who said “God made Him to be me that I might be made Him.” I am sure the preacher did not realise this was tantamount to blasphemy. God did not make the Saviour a sinner for that’s what I am. God made Him to be sin that we might be made, not here righteous in a practical way, but the RIGHTEOUSNESS OF GOD IN HIM—What I have been made IN HIM. This righteousness is therefore neither practical nor progressive in its character.
We think now of being justified by grace. This relates to the bestowal of justification. In grace God bestows justification. What a verse is this in Romans 3.24! “Being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” In Titus 3.7, the apostle repeats this great truth, that being justified by His grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” In Romans 3.24 the apostle speaks not only of being justified “by grace” but being justified “freely.” This word “freely” is used frequently in the New Testament; our Lord uses it in John 15.25, “They hated Me without a cause” (freely). The apostle Paul uses it in 2 Thessalonians 3.8, “Neither did we eat any man’s bread for nought (freely).” Upon believing in Jesus we were justified “without a cause” because we were sinners without merit and we were justified “for nought” because we were bankrupt and without means. This justification was bestowed upon us “by His Grace.” This takes account not so much of our unworthiness but the disposition of God’s heart. God might righteously have left us in our guilt and without hope but in wondrous grace He took the initiative; in grace and at infinite cost He procured our justification and by the same grace bestowed it upon us.
We next consider “justification by faith.” This relates to the means by which we obtain justification. If grace is God’s side in the matter, faith is ours. In Romans 5.1, we read “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God.” We have already thought of Romans 3.26 “that He might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.” If however the Bible tells us how we can be justified it also tells us how we cannot be justified, (Romans 3.20). “Therefore, by the deeds of the Law shall no flesh be justified in His sight.” And Romans 3.28, “therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the Law.” Justification by faith and not by works is the subject of Galatians 2.15-21. Let us think of the means by which we obtain justification (Romans 5.1). “Therefore being justified by faith.” The faith by which we are justified is not faith in any abstract way; much more is necessary than faith in everything God reveals or faith in Jesus’ existence. It is faith in Jesus’ Person and work that is required, “Him which believeth in Jesus.” Faith in the Person of God’s Son enables God to reckon to that individual the value of His precious blood. In that connection it might be well to consider the difference between James 2.21 and Romans 4.2,3. In Romans 4.2,3 we read “For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory but not before God. For what saith the Scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.” In James 2.21 we read, “Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?” These two portions appear at first sight to be contradictory; Romans 4.2 states that Abraham was not justified by works but by faith. James 2.21 states that Abraham was, in fact, justified by works. There is quite a simple answer to this apparent difficulty. In Romans 4.2,3 where we are told Abraham was justified by faith, the Old Testament quotation is from Genesis 15.6 and this was in connection with the promise of the birth of a son. Naturally, physically, this promise was incapable of fulfilment but Abraham abandoned all that pertained to nature of itself and put his trust in God and was accounted righteous. In James 2.21 where we are told that Abraham was justified by works the reference is to Genesis 22 where Abraham offered up Isaac. Abraham was justified by faith before Isaac was born; he was justified by works some thirty years afterward, “in that he offered up Isaac.” Abraham wasn’t justified by works because his faith was weak, rather Abraham’s works were conclusive proof of the genuineness of his faith. Justification by works is not really related to what men might see or say; men can easily lead astray. Only God saw Abraham offer up Isaac. The other example in James Chapter 2 of justification by works is that of Rahab when she received the messengers. Only God saw Rahab do this. Justification by works is something deeper than what men might see. An important matter too, is this; when we read in Romans 4.3 and elsewhere of “faith being reckoned unto Abraham for righteousness,” this does not mean “faith” instead “of righteousness,” but faith unto righteousness.” “Faith instead of righteousness” makes faith to be meritorious; there is only one ground of justification and that is Calvary.
In conclusion, let me briefly refer to some of the blessed results of justification. Romans 5.1 states “We have peace with God.” In Philippians 4.7 we read of “the Peace of God.” “The Peace of God” has to do with the heart and mind, is connected with the cares of this life and is God’s daily provision for me. “Peace with God” has to do with the conscience, is connected with my guilt and relates to my eternal well-being; my conscience no longer connects divine judgement against my sin with the future but with the past, past and past forever on my Sinless Substitute and Saviour on the Cross. There is now judicially nothing between my soul and God and thus we consciously enjoy Peace with God. Romans chapter 8 informs that another blessing of justification is, there can be no accusation against the justified. Verses 33 and 34 of that chapter should read like this, “Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect? Shall God that justifieth? Who is he that condemneth? Shall Christ that died, yea, rather, that is risen again . . .?” The moment I believed in Jesus every accusing voice that might be raised against me was forever silenced, be that voice from Heaven, Earth or Hell.
“I hear the accuser roar of ills that I have done I know them all and thousands more Jehovah findeth none.”
by JAMES PENDER
- When superior to ordinances, help and restoration can be rendered to those who are crippled in service.
- This draws out the enmity of those who are unable to serve, being blinded by ordinances (the Sabbath).
- If we are to be made available for service we must take a public stand.
- He silences them with His word and wisdom.
- With His work. Blindness and hardness of heart in those who are the Custodians of God’s things (Matt. 23.2) is grieving to the Lord. HE WAS ANGRY. They were seeking to justify themselves before men (Luke 16) abomination. It takes the Power of God to render Levitical service in the midst of opposition.
- Elements of opposition that a true Levite has to guard against— (1) The Pharisee—appearing before men to be what he is not. (2) The Herodian—moving politically in support of his own party, a combination of these two elements is destruction to the truth and destroy any features of Christ in the believer.
- Escape from that element of opposition is by withdrawing from the Synagogue TO THE SEA where there is room for expansion of service so that outside of this system that is dominated by evil and controlled by those who are blinded themselves and who confuse and blind others, the people are attracted to His person.
- His great power is displayed in liberating and emancipating all who come in contact with Him. He takes up an elevated position, v. 13.
- He does not accept testimony from what is connected with uncleanness. Moral elevation is necessary to render testimony to HIS person and work, so in HIS Sovereignty He Calls His servants and APPOINTS them and SENDS them forth to preach.
- He works through persons who are morally elevated, having given them moral power.
- What is their qualification for going forth in HIS service ? HE NAMES them. HE takes account of their character. In numbers progress increases, so that the order is—You withdraw from that which, although religious is destructive, to the SEA where there is expansion—where you get enlarged thoughts of SERVICE and an enlarged SPHERE and freedom of movement where you are morally elevated and fitted for SERVICE PUBLICLY.
Key parable v. 13. Interpretation (14-20) The seed is first by the wayside (INATTENTIVENESS)—Satan v. 15. Then on stony ground, (IMPULSIVENESS)—Flesh v. 16-17. Then among thorns (INDULGENCE)—The World v. 18-19. Then in good ground (REALITY) — Faith v. 20. Light v. 21-25. These verses at the end of the interpretation correspond to verses 9-13 at the end of the parable. The word received in FAITH gives LIFE and yields fruit. It must also SHINE forth in testimony. Light is given to be seen. The WORD goes forth to be heard yet these ends may not be realised (v. 12-23). With use goes INCREASE, with neglect goes LOSS (v. 24-25). GROWTH (only given by Mark)—it assumes the good soil. Growth is of God. Paul may plant, Apollos may water, but God giveth increase. The seed once sown is beyond the power of the sower.
THE MUSTARD SEED the smallness, its beginning and the vastness of its end. Small beginning but great issue.
PRINCIPLE OF TEACHING He adapted His instruction to the capacity of HIS hearers.
THE STORM (v. 35-36). It is night and it is stormy. The assembly is tossed on the sea of the world. HE still rebukes our unbelief by turning great storms into great calms.
THE MUSTARD TREE (v. 30-32). Abnormal growth during the absence of the Sower. The eternal growth, the mustard seed and INTERNAL CORRUPTION in the Leaven of Christianity. Christendom has developed into a powerful world constitution, and has become the lodging place of the’ fowls of the air, unclean beings (v. 15). The church has assumed a form upon earth which was never according to the mind of God. We do not accept the form which things have taken in the world. The great worldly organisation into which Christianity has dropped. We stand outside them all.
THE KINGDOM OF GOD (Rom. 14). The moral sway of God. The reign of Grace brought about by the sitting of a man in Heaven. The one who believes comes under HIS sway. The testimony of Christ has been adopted by man down here and been made to serve man’s ends and the outcome is the MUSTARD TREE, a great conspicuous system which affords shelter to all the fowls of Heaven. In v. 3 the Parable, the rejected servant sowing the seed (v. 26).’ He leaves the earth while the seed grows. Th picture of THE LAKE STORM shows the trials and dangers of HIS own during this age, but He is with them.
There are prayers here (1) The Demoniacs v. 10. (2) The Demons v. 12. (3) The Gadarenes v. 17. (4) The Healed Man v. 18. He is self tortured yearning for deliverance yet unwilling to be set free.
DOUBLE PERSONALITY. Longing for Liberty, yet clinging to possessions. Two forces within us. A love for evil and a longing for good. The Gadarenes thought more of their financial and material loss than the Man’s moral gain. Countless numbers still with Christ far from them, for fear HIS fellowship may occasion some financial or personal loss. Seeking to save their possessions they lose their souls.
MISERABLE SOUL (v. 1-5). A MIGHTY SAVOUR (v. 6-10). A PANIC AMONG SWINE (v. 11-13). A GREAT SENSATION (v. 14-17). AN OBEDIENT SERVANT (v. 18-20). PANIC AMONG SWINE (v. 11-13). The servants, power over SATAN, WORK, DISEASE, DEATH, JAIRUS DAUGHTER. He was a ruler, an exponent of- the Law, but cannot give Life. Do we go to the Lord about our children when they are in dangerous ways both Physically and Morally? If there were more parents resorting to the Lord on their behalf, fewer children would go astray.
WOMAN WITH THE ISSUE OF BLOOD. The works of Sin, Interruption, Blessing suspended to strengthen faith, HIS power to heal Jairus’ daughter would be no less by means of healing this poor woman. She had suffered as long as the little girl had lived (12 yrs.) No-one is ever blessed at the expense of another. What we regard as interruptions may be Divine interventions. Our own need should teach us to be sympathetic to others.
- WOMAN The human side, responsibility (Rom.)
- MAID The Divine side, Sovereignty (Eph.)
- ROMANS Without strength EPHESIANS Dead.
THE WOMAN. Grace to the Gentiles during the suspension of Israel’s blessing—this is dispensational.
THE LITTLE GIRL. In spite of her desperate condition and the unbelief that mocks at Him, she arises at HIS word. So will Israel (Ezek. 37 and Dan. 12). When Satan rules men they become unclean and dangerous. The mouthpiece of Satan. They speak with the voice of the possessed. They can imitate the dead. They have intelligence as to the person of Christ and do not dispute His right. They recognise him as their future judge.
THE DEMONIAC MAN. The work of God takes in mankind in its varied relations—MAN, WOMAN and GIRL, shows the doctrine of the gospel. ROMANS—INTELLIGENCE—MAN INWARD DELIVERANCE WOMAN-NEWNESS OF LIFE (Rom. 6.6) THE GIRL in order that we may serve in newness of Spirit (Rom. 7.6) Christ is seen.
CHRIST IS SEEN delivering THE MAN from the POWER OF SIN. THE WOMAN from the PLAGUE OF SIN. THE GIRL from the PENALTY OF SIN. The Lord occupies the ground He clears. THE GIRL, 12 yrs. old. Life given—Newness of Life in Rom. (Walk) THE EVIDENCE OF LIFE —MOVEMENT (walking) FOOD—that which sustains life and builds up constitution for service. What Romans produces, Ephesians finishes. The girl has not reached maturity. God’s idea is a woman (THE CHURCH) —development. This involves moral process Eph. 4.12-13 Mark 5 The option is from within ourselves. In Ch. 6 the opposition is from without. From His own countrymen and the Herodians. It is necessary to know ourselves. In me that is, in my flesh dwelleth no good thing. The woman with the issue. The Law of the Spirit of life—making free from the law of sin and death (Rom. 8) seen in the ruler’s daughter. His own countrymen were astonished at His teaching but were offended. His sending forth His servants answered to the teaching of Rom. 12.1—living sacrifices— intelligent service. That is being susceptible to the teaching of what goes before fits for service. All service being rendered in the power of the Spirit (v. 13). They annointed with oil many that were sick and healed them.
by JOHN CAMPBELL, Larkhall (continued) THE FUNCTIONS OF THE ASSEMBLY
The Church Local claims Matt. 18.20 as its ground and authority for gathering; while in actuality the verse in its immediate context, is linked with reconciliation between persons in disagreement in the matter of trespass. A more appropriate verse would be Acts 20.7: —Upon the first day of the week, the disciples came together to break bread. The Apostle Paul was not present when the Remembrance Feast was instituted, yet gives a detailed history of its inauguration in 1 Cor. 11, 23-34. Among the many functions of the Church Local, this should surely take precedence. A few thoughts on these verses may be helpful in explaining this ordinance.
1. THE BREAKING OF BREAD
Of Divine Origin — Received of the Lord v.23 A Distinct Obligation —I delivered unto you v.23 A Dire Occasion —The same night—betrayed— v.23 A Demonstrated Ordinance —He took the bread—cup v.24 A Deliberate Object — In remembrance of Me v.24 & 25 A Delightful Occupation —As often—ye do shew v.26 A Definite Order —Let a man examine himself v.28 A Deadly Outcome —For this cause—weak & sick v.30
2. THE BAPTISM OF BELIEVERS
The Church Local recognises one other ordinance, believers baptism. As an ordinance, the Church Local, upon request, will baptise all or any who profess Jesus as Lord. In the grand commission of Matt. 28.19,20 gospel preachers are authorised to baptise those who believe. Four questions clarify this important ordinance.
Who are baptised? Only believers in the Lord Jesus. How are they baptised? By immersion. Why are they baptised? It is the Lord’s command. When should one be baptised? As soon as the truth of it is seen.
As a doctrine, Heb. 6.2, it carries spiritual responsibilities.
- It is an act of obedience Acts 10.48
- It is an act of righteousness ” Matt. 3.15
- It is an act of conscience 1 Peter 3.21
- It is an act of identity Rom. 6. 5
To be taught the truth of Baptism, and to understand, in measure, its implications, and then disobey; is an act of rebellion. While God is lavish with His Grace, He is restrictive with His Truth. John 7.17 discloses a basis condition for progress in the knowledge of Divine things. “If any man will do His will, he shall know of the doctrine.”
Baptism is the first essential public act of acknowledgement of the Lordship of Christ; a testimony to the world that you have forever severed your links with it. Thus it is an act of Obedience.
When the Lord Jesus was baptised by John in Jordan, He silenced John’s protestation by declaring, “Thus it be-cometh us to fulfil all righteousness.” Not only does the Lord ratify John’s ministry; He endorses it! If the Son of God saw in Baptism, an act of Righteousness, who are we to question its fitness!
The Apostle Peter, in his first epistle, chapter 3.21, by inspired analogy, reasons from Noah’s salvation by water, that our salvation and baptism provide sufficient testimony to establish inner peace and harmony of conscience; that moral monitor of the soul. The word “answer” in v. 21 of 1 Peter 3, differs from v. 15 of the same chapter. The former, v. 21 is the result of diligent investigation, a question settled; the latter, v. 15, is a defensive reply. From v. 21, we learn, Baptism is an act of Conscience.
The Apostle Paul, in Rom. 6.3-11, presents baptism as an act of Identify with the Lord’s death, burial and resurrection; Vs. 3, 4 & 5. What the Lord Jesus passed through actually, we undergo typically. The practical truth of this section, particularly vs. 11-13, is explained by the verbs therein:—Reckoning, dying, reigning, obeying and yielding.
Reckoning —yourselves dead unto sin. Give sin a Sadducee’s burial. Acts. 23.8. Dying —baptised into His death. v.3. —buried by baptism into death. v.4. —raised up from the dead. v.4. —planted in the likeness of His death, v.5. —reckon yourselves dead to sin. v.11. Reigning —sin dethroned, obedience withdrawn. Obeying —loyalty by lustful living, terminated. Yielding —loyalty transferred from sin to God.
A NEW TESTAMENT CHURCH EXERCISES—
- Reception to the Company. Acts. 9.26.
- Instruction in the Company. 1 Cor. 14.3.
- Discipline in the Company. 1 Thess. 5.14, 1 Cor. 5.13.
- Excommunication from the Company. 1 Cor. 5.11.
RECEPTION TO THE COMPANY.
When Saul, after his conversion, the leading persecutor of the early church — known then as those of “This Way”, sought fellowship with the disciples, they were rightly afraid; because of his opposition to Jesus of Nazareth, boldly proclaimed as the Christ. Suspicion of him, engendered serious doubt regarding his professed conversion. Until Barnabas introduced him to them, giving a clear account of all that had happened to him on the Damascus road, where he met the Lord. Here we learn an important lesson in the matter of Reception. No one is received on their testimony. Accredited persons, known to the company, testify to the genuineness of the applicant. Care exercised here, saves many a later sorrow. Better questioned at the door than the desk.
Where there is reasonable doubt, delay is advisable. Until the Church is satisfied the applicant is born again, godly in life and clear in Doctrine.
A past generation bore the stigma of association with the local church; both from the religious and social spheres of life. The epithet, “The Dippers,” was keenly felt from the latter, while persecution was meted out from family and friends and clerics; who with disdain criticised those who desired the joy of the separated position of the Local Assembly.
After the incidents reported in Acts Ch. 5, when Ananias and Sapphira were taken away in death for lying to the Holy Ghost, great fear came on all; and v. 13 states, “Of the rest durst no man join himself to them.” It is a serious matter to be received into fellowship, and more serious to act flippantly with God!
CHRIST IN THE APOCALYPSE (1)
by JOHN B. D. PAGE
INTRODUCTION Reading: Revelation 1.1.
Of the opening words to the last book of the Bible, “The revelation of Jesus Christ,” one writer says, “There has been much divergence of opinion as to how the term revelation is here to be taken; whether in an objective sense as a revelation of Jesus Christ in His manifested glory, or in a subjective sense as a revelation of the ultimate purposes of God given to Jesus Christ in order to show them, by His angel, to His servant John.”
In considering these two opinions, there appears to be no need for such divergence. If the book is studied objectively, then it is a revelation of Jesus Christ in His manifested glory, which is probably unequalled within the canon of scripture. In fact, A. C. Gaebelein says, “Inasmuch as this last Bible book is the Revelation of Jesus Christ, an ‘Unveiling’ of Himself, we find in it the completed revelation of His Person and His Glory.”
Alternatively, if the book is studied subjectively, then it is a communication, which is revealed by God to Jesus Christ for His servants concerning “things which must shortly come to pass.” In other words, it is a prophecy which revolves around Christ, for He is the Executor of divine judgments after the rapture of the Church, He is the glorious Bridegroom of the Church at the marriage supper, He is the victorious Warrior in the hour of Israel’s apparent defeat, and He is the Supreme Potentate with all His enemies subjugated under His feet.
Briefly, with an objective study, its purpose is Christological; with a subjective study, the aim is prophetical. Eut, with both studies, the glories of Christ should be evident, if not foremost.
In many expositions of the Revelation, writers have been occupied chiefly with the symbols and judgments of the book besides the ultimate consummation promised, but such writings, although excellent prophetically, contain little about the manifold glories of Christ Who is paramount throughout the book.
Dr. F. A. Tatford writes, “Prophecy and prediction may find their place herein, but the supreme subject of the Revelation is Christ.” He continues, “God is more concerned with the honour and glory of His Son than with the fate of empires, and His final vindication of His Beloved will bring heaven, earth and hell to bended knee and universal acclamation of the Supreme Lord.”
In pursuing the Christological theme of the book, we shall endeavour to emulate the Divine Expositor on the Emmaus road as He sought to bring out “things concerning Himself” from the scriptures (Luk. 24.27). Also, the present ministry of the Holy Spirit is to glorify Christ (John 16.14), and so our aim for this series of articles will be Christ exalting.
A distinctive and unusual feature of the Apocalypse is the 285 quotations from, and allusions to, almost every book in the Old Testament, which is unparalleled, for no other New Testament book is comparable. This means not only John’s immense knowledge of the Old Testament scriptures but many symbols and much of the under-lying imagery in the book are drawn from the Old Testament. Another feature is the many references to the temple and its furnishings besides allusions to its worship, all of which form some of the background to the book.
Thinking of the word “revelation” with which the book opens, we go back in thought for the first mention of the word to a scene in the court of the temple where Simeon, elderly in years but full of the Messianic hope, took the child Jesus, barely six weeks old, into his arms and said with ecstasy, “Lord, . . . mine eyes have seen Thy Salvation, . . . a Light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the Glory of Thy people Israel” (Lu. 2.29-32, RV). With wonder in his eyes, he saw the Babe to be a Personification of Salvation, Light and Glory. The noun “revelation” (apokalupsis, Gr.), the first of sixteen occurrences, is used of Christ as “a Light” and, as such, the aged Simeon foretold that Christ would be ‘unveiled’ one day “to the Gentiles.”
Turning to the last mention of the word “revelation,” John who was advanced in years, beheld the same Person, not as the Babe but the Man, Jesus Christ, in the splendour of His glory and majesty, not in the court of the earthly temple but in the heavenly temple. The whole book, entitled “The Revelation,” is devoted to the unveiling of the manifold glories of Christ, which are unfolded in various visions and by several symbols besides being found in numerous and varied names and titles ascribed to Him, which are probably greater in number and variety than those found in other books. To some names and titles, we shall direct our attention to discover a few of the glories of Christ.
A list of these appellations applied to this eminent Person will bring together His many glories. (Note : An ‘X’ after the numeral in the following list is an abbreviation for ‘times’ in the list. E.g. 3X should be read as ‘three times’).
|No.||Name or Title||Number of Occurrences||References|
|1.||Jesus Christ||6||1.1f(2X); 5; 9(2X), 12.17|
|2.||The Faithful Witness||1||1.5|
|3.||The Firstbegotten from the dead||1||1.5|
|4.||The Prince of the kings of the earth||1||1.5|
|5.||I AM||4||1.11,17; 22.13,16|
|6.||Alpha and Omega||2||1.11; 22.13|
|7.||The First and the Last||3||1.11,17; 22.13|
|8.||The Voice||2||1.12(cp, v. 10); 4.1|
|9.||The Son of Man||2||1.13; 14.14|
|10.||The Living One (RV)||1||1.18|
|11.||He that holdeth the seven stars in His right hand, Who walketh in the midst of the seven golden lampstands (RV, mgn)||1||2.1|
|12.||The First and the Last, which was dead and is alive||1||2.8|
|13.||He which hath the sharp sword with two edges||1||2.12|
|14.||The Son of God, Who hath His eyes like unto a flame of fire, and His feet are like fine brass||1||2.18|
|15.||He that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars||1||3.1|
|16.||He that is holy||1||3.7|
|17.||He that is true||1||3.7|
|18.||He that hath the key of David, He that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth||3.7|
|20.||The Faithful and True Witness||1||3.14|
|21.||The Beginning of the creation of God||1||3.14|
|22.||The Lion of the tribe of Judah||1||5.5|
|23.||The Root of David||1||5.5|
|24.||Lamb (including both ‘a Lamb’ and ‘the Lamb’)||28||5.6,8,12,13; 6.1,16;7.9f(2X), 14,17;12.11; 13.8; 14.1; 4(2X); 14.10; 15.3 17.14(2X); 19.7,9; 21.9,14,22f(2X),27; 22.1,3.|
|25.||The Angel (including ‘Another Angel,’ a ‘Mighty Angel’)||8||8.3-5(3X); 10.1, 9f(4X); 18.1.|
|27.||Christ (including ‘His Christ’)||3||11.15; 12.10 20.4.|
|28.||Jesus||6||14.12; 17.6; 19.10(2X); 20.4; 22.16.|
|29.||Lord of lords||2||17.14; 19.16.|
|30.||King of kings||2||17.14; 19.16.|
|31.||Faithful and True||2||19.11|
|32.||The Word of God||1||19.13|
|33.||The Tabernacle of God||1||21.3|
|34.||Light (Luminary, RV, mgn.)||1||21.11|
|35.||The Beginning and the End||1||22.13|
|36.||The Root and Offspring of David||1||22.16|
|37.||The Bright and Morning Star||1||22.16|
|39.||Lord Jesus Christ||1||22.21|
From this list, which is not claimed to be final, it will be seen that there are 95 names and titles, of which 39 are different, used of Christ in this book. They present an art gallery, as it were, of Him in His diverse glories.
Of those repeated, “Lamb,” occurring 28 times, is the highest. No less than 26 names and titles occur only once, and so 13 are used more than once.
THE PLEA OF THE CAPTIVE . . .
by H. M. M.
(ESTHER — THE QUEEN)
- Her name – a star 1
whose light beams from afarfrom Gentile kingdom’s vast domain 2from Holy text, her sacred fameis shining still,reflecting God’s blest characterand perfect will. The signature was true,and as celestial orbs in skies of bluewould influence events on earth,affecting mighty potentates,or those of humble birth,such was this one, whose story now we tracereminding us of Heaven’s own matchless grace. Her life began with seeming disadvantages,1her introduction tells us what she lacked,in human terms – a dreadful shame,her state was such, she could no parents claim. Yet there was one, a little man, ’tis said 3who, Boaz like, took over from the dead 4as loving kindness from his heart was shownand, like The Saviour, took her for his own. 5 Soon days and months, and years all fly apace,and Esther now is found in such a place 6at the appointed time, 7 appointment made by Deity,-your place, and mine. Subjected to commandment, see 8how she obeys submissivelyher ‘hour had not yet come’then bye and bye the one who’d meekly listenedadopts the role of one who’s in command,9her guileless heart is unafraid,for Mighty God is in her heart,her choice forever made.10 Perhaps to perish, to the king she went,10 that special third day – climax of event,11 and there she stood in beauty, not her own,12her place of conquest – at the royal throne.13 The king saw Esther – (oh what words of comfort! 13like Hagar – by the well of Him that seeth, 14 or Isaac, just before he met Rebecca.) 15and she found favour.13 The king saw Esther – standing – oh how sweet! 13 as royal robes for service round her meet12like priestly ones before her, now she’ll wait16 ,reaction from the throne to silence break.17 The one with power to wield the mighty sceptrenow holds its golden shaft in grace towards her 13and typifies – at last the gap now bridged’twixt Heaven’s Golden Throne and earthlings weakwho in response will touch – with touch of faiththe One whom finite mortals gladly hold,God’s mighty One – the Sceptre all of Gold. 18 What wilt thou? – precious moment at the throne 19as lovingly, He claims afresh His own,What wilt thou? – answer wait -! —the soul must surely hesitate—and pause—for this is Heaven’s gate,a Holy place, where humans plead -to countervail the damage to the King,and save the royal seed, 20 But then afresh, continued aspirationfor all that God would now establish through her,she speaks again, and with what courage meetimplores with tears, while falling at his feet 21to spare and bless God’s people in that landand so fulfill all that His heart had planned.Such lessons true are here for us today,just to be where the Lord appoints our way,’neath blue or cloudy skies, we need not fear,directed by His eye His presence near, 22though times our feet are led in paths obscure,yet faith can know His purposes are sure,23 A star – ’tis true,and so it is with youwho in time past in sin and death 24by nature far from Heaven’s birthbut now brought nigh through Jesus’ Blood,25raised up together (blessed word)and seated high aboveboth principalities and powers,26His Name, His might forever ours. 27O let us go at once to claimthis Birthright honour, in His Name,enabled now to stand completebefore The Throne—we are ‘His Own.’ 28creation of His Hand – His Heart,29for evermore of Him a part, 30This union sealed through precious Bloodour souls eternally are one with GOD. 31
- 1. Esther 2.7 (Newb. Marg.)
- 2. Esther 1.1.
- 3. Esther 2.5 (Newb. Marg.)
- 4. Ruth 4.10.
- 5. Ezekiel 16.1-8; Esther 2.7.
- 6. Esther 2.16.
- 7. Esther 4.14.
- 8. Esther 2.20.
- 9. Esther 4.5, 10 & 17.
- 10. Esther 4.16.
- 11. Esther 5.1; Luke 13.32; Genesis 22.4; 1 Cor. 15.4.
- 12. Esther 5.1.
- 13. Esther 5.2.
- 14. Genesis 16.13 & 14.
- 15. Genesis 24.62,63. (J.N.D.)
- 16. Exodus 28.2.
- 17. Num. 3.10; 1 Chron. 23.28; Lev. 9.23,24.
- 18. Song of Solomon 5,11-16; Luke 8, 45,46.
- 19. Esther 5.3.
- 20. Esther 7.4.
- 21. Esther 8.3-6.
- 22. Psalm 32.8.
- 23. Ephesians 1.11; 3.11.
- 24. Ephesians 2.1-3.
- 25. Ephesians 2. 4-7.
- 26. Ephesians 1.21-23.
- 27. Acts 15.14-17.
- 28. John 13.1; 17. 6-12 & 24.
- 29. Ephesians 2.10.
- 30. Ephesians 5.30.
- 31. John 17.22,23.
HYMNS AND THEIR WRITERS (21)
by Jack Strahan, Enniskillen.
“AMIDST US OUR BELOVED STANDS”
CHARLES HADDON SPURGEON (1834—1892)
Charles Haddon Spurgeon was born at Kelvedon in Essex on January 19th, 1834. When he was ten months old, the family moved to Colchester. A large part of Charles’ childhood was spent at Stambourne with his grandparents, and it was while there that Richard Knill of the London Missionary Society made a remarkable prediction concerning him. Greatly taken to the ten-year-old boy and taking him upon his knee he said, “I feel a solemn presentiment that this child will preach the gospel to thousands and God will bless him to their souls.” Charles Haddon Spurgeon was converted when he was 15 and died at 57 and in the course of the intervening years, he preached to multitudes the simple gospel that he himself had received and thousands of souls were saved under his ministry. Christ was ever central in his message. No matter what part of the bible gave him his text, sooner or later he found his way to Christ. We listen to him during those years, “Sinner, it is not thy hold of Christ that saves thee—it is Christ; … it is not prayer, it is not faith, it is not our doings, It is not our feelings upon which we must trust, but upon Christ, and on Christ alone … Let me beseech thee, look only to Christ.” “Look only to Christ,” that was the central message of the prince of preachers.
“Look only to Christ”—that was the message that brought salvation to his own dark and burdened heart on that never-to-be forgotten snowy Sunday morning, January 6th, 1850. As a boy he had read much of the Puritans. Sin had become a reality, an intolerable burden. God’s majesty and his own sinfulness had become such that he confessed, “I could not have gone to heaven with my sin unpardoned, even if I had the offer to do it.” In recounting salvation’s experience he said, “I resolved that in the town where I lived, I would visit every place of worship in order to find out the way of salvation … At last one snowy day, I could not go to the place I determined to go to … I turned down a court and there was a Primitive Methodist chapel. I wanted to know how I might be saved . . . Settling down, the service went on but no minister came. At last a very thin-looking man came into the pulpit and opened his bible and read the words, “Look unto Me and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth” (Isaiah 45.22). Just setting his eyes upon me as if he knew all my heart, he said, “Young man, you are in trouble . . . You will never get out of it unless you look to Christ.” And then, lifting up his hands, he cried out . . . “Look, look, look!” “It is only, look” said he. I saw at once the way of salvation . . . “Look,” what a charming word it seemed to me! Oh, I looked until I could almost have looked my eyes away; and in heaven I will still look in joy unutterable.” A simple tablet marks the spot in that little Methodist chapel in Artillery Street, Colchester where Charles Haddon Spurgeon looked to Christ and passed from death unto life.
In the same year, 1850, young Spurgeon, though only a few months saved, became greatly exercised regarding preaching the gospel to others. He wrote to his father, “How I long for the time when it may please God to make me, like you my father, a successful preacher of the gospel. Oh, that I might see one sinner constrained to come to Jesus.” He started to preach when he was 16. A deep joy filled his heart when during his short pastorate at Waterbeach, a woman trusted the Saviour, “I felt like a diver” he said, “who had been down to the depths of the sea and brought up a rare pearl.” That was only the beginning. God was to use him mightily. At the age of 19, London called and young Spurgeon moved to wider service. London was now his new mission field and there the need was great. With deep humility of spirit he moved to New Park Street Baptist chapel and starting with a small congregation of about 200, he preached Christ to them. God was with him and ere long the chapel was filled to its full capacity of 1,200. The building was enlarged but proved inadequate. The Metropolitan Tabernacle to seat 5,000 was planned and opened in 1861, and there Spurgeon ministered faithfully and fruitfully for the next 31 years, and over all that period, there was scarcely a meeting when God did not bless in salvation. E. W. Bacon’s testimony is this, “Never has London, or anywhere else, seen such a God-honouring, Christ-exalting, Spirit-filled, bible-based, soul winning ministry—a ministry consecrated to the dual task of bringing together the sinner and his Saviour, the saint and his Lord.” And of Spurgeon himself he adds, “He came from the audience chamber of the Most High and stepped into that large human auditorium — the mouth-piece of God.” Each week those messages were printed and widely circulated. They were translated and published in French, German, Dutch, Spanish and Italian and dispersed as widely as America and Australia. They were read in public and in private. They were read in hospitals, taken inside prisons and pondered over by sailors at sea and were mighty unto the salvation of many.
The closing years of Spurgeon’s fruitful life were weighed down by the sorrows of controversy. Through it all, he stood faithful to his Lord, but by the age of 57 he was a worn-out man and on the 31st January, 1892, he passed into the presence of his Lord Whom he loved so dearly. As his body was laid to rest in West Norwood Cemetery, Archibald Brown pronounced a eulogy, beautiful and touching, yet so fitting to the memory of his dear departed friend.
Spurgeon, like John the Baptist, had but one passion, one mission in life—to entreat others to look to Christ. As a boy of 15, he himself had looked, “I could almost have looked my eyes away; and in heaven I will still look in joy unutterable.” As a youth of 18, he wrote a poem and concluded with the lines, “One joy all joys shall far excel—To see Thy face, Immanuel.” As the prince of preachers, he untiringly entreated men and women to look to Christ. As his body lay in state in the Metropolitan Tabernacle and over 60,000 people filed past to pay their last tribute, there upon his coffin lay the bible, open at the text af Isaiah 45.22, “Look unto Me, and be ye saved.” And today, as each time around the Lord’s table we sing the words of Spurgeon’s dearly-loved hymn, “Amidst us our Beloved stands,” it seems as if he is still saying,-, to us, “Look only to Christ.”
- ‘Amidst us our Beloved; stands,
- And bids us view His pierced, hands
- Points to His wounded feet and side,
- Blest emblems of the Crucified.
- If now with eyes defiled and dim,
- We see the signs but see hot Him,
- Oh, may His love the scales displace,
- And bid us see Him face to face!
- Our former transports we recount,
- When with Him in the holy mount
- These cause our souls to thirst anew,
- His marred but lovely, face to view.”
“We would see Jesus,” the quest of each longing heart down here will one day be fully realized, for there “they shall see His face” — His face — yes, His face — marred but lovely!
EMMANUEL — ‘GOD WITH US’
WHEN DID HE COME?
- Not when the glowing sun had reached its height,
- Of full-orbed splendour in the Eastern sky,
- But shadowed by the gentle shades of night,
- He came unsought, unseen by carnal eye.
WHERE DID HE COME TO?
- Not to a palace grand or mansion fair,
- Where courtiers rushed, His every need to meet,
- But to a cattle-shed where stench-filled air,
- Came wafting o’er His sleeping form so sweet.
HOW DID HE COME?
- Not on a prancing steed, commanding awe,
- With scintillating sword, Rome’s power to break,
- But as a lowly babe among the straw,
- The weakest form of human life to take.
WHY DID HE COME?
- Not to condemn the world of fallen man,
- Whose crowning crime would nail Him to a tree,
- But to fulfi’l Redemption’s glorious plan,
- And save us from a lost eternity.
- But many still give Him the outside place,
- Who entered history through its lowest door,
- No room for Him or for His wondrous grace,
- Who died that we might live forevermore.
—C. F. GEDDES, Portessie.