THE HEIGHTS OF THE HILLS ARE HIS
by A, Naismith
CHRIST IN THE APOCALYPSE
by J. B. D. Page
by E. F. Bower
FOCUS ON FUNDAMENTALS
by J. B. Hewitt
A TRIAD OF TRUTH
by J. G. Good
WHITHER ARE WE DRIFTING?
by R. Webb
IN IMMANUEL’S LAND
by J. Jardine
A FORM OF GODLINESS
by D. N. Martin
HYMNS AND THEIR WRITERS
by J. Strahan
by A. NAISMITH
II. THE MOUNT OF OLIVES
East of the city of Jerusalem there rises a bare, rocky ridge sloping up from an unprepossessing valley and towering somewhat higher than the capital of Israeli, which stands some 2,500 feet above sea level. It is separated from Jerusalem by the Brook Kedron and the Valley of Jeosha-phat, and stretches from North to South commanding a noble view of the city. That eminence is the Mount of Olives. At sunrise the light breaks over the ancient city from above the crest of Olivet, flooding the highest build’ ings with crimson glory. This elevation has sometimes been designated ‘The Hill of the Prophets,’ but, from its associations with the Davidic dynasty, we might justly call it ‘The Mountain of the great King.’ From this vantage point our Lord looked toward Jerusalem and wept over it; and from it He also predicted its destruction in that wonderful eschatological utterance familiarly known as ‘the Olivet discourse.’ On that occasion He had come from one great mountain within the city’s precincts—-Moriah, the place of sacrificial giving—to another outside the city—Olivet, the place of the departing glory. How eloquently significant were His movements on that occasion of all that His first advent was to mean to Him and to His earthly people Israel! The Shechinah glory—in Ezekiel’s prophecy—had halted there: our Lord Himself stood on its summit on His way from the cross to the glory, as He had during His sojourn in this world graced its slopes on His way from the glory to the cross. Finally it was descrated and robbed of its beauty by Titus, the Roman Emperor, who hewed down its trees for the construction of assault-ladders and for crosses on which to hang his victims until crucifixions had to cease for lack of wood.
In this study of the Mount of Olives it will be taken as
The Mountain of Kings
1. In 2 Sam. 15.30 the mount is seen under a cloud, the scene of a king’s abjection. ‘David went up by the ascent of Mount Olivet, and wept as he went up, and had his head covered, and he went barefoot; and all the people that were with him covered every man his head, and they went up, weeping as they went.’ What a scent of sorrow, mourning and abjection, an exiled king fleeing before his own son! David’s association with the Mount of Olives was indeed a sorrowful one and the climax of a very sad story. Within a very short space of time ‘the man after God’s own heart’ had broken four of God’s commandments in the law, becoming a covetous man, a thief, an adulterer and a murderer. Nathan’s parable, concluding with the words ‘Thou art the man’ had convicted the erring king and produced that genuine repentance that expressed itself in the language of Psalms 51 and 32; but he had broken four of God’s laws and restitution must be made in restoration according to the law of God, Who claimed the child of adultery born to Bath-sheba, and David’s three sons, Amnon, Absalom and Adonijah. The wandering eye that too soon became the wanton eye (2 Sam. 12.2) gave place to the weeping eye (2 Sam. 15.30) and later to the anxious, watchful eye (2 Sam. 18.24). David’s sin was covered through Divine forbearance, expiated by great David’s greater Son ‘Whom God set forth to be a propitiation through faith in His blood, to declare His righteousness for the remission of sins that are past’; but its consequences brought David under a cloud of sorrow and shame.
2. What a different picture is depicted by Luke in his Gospel narrative (19.37)! ‘When he was come nigh, even to the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen.’ It was the occasion of the partial fulfilment of Zech. 9.9,— the King’s acclamation, and the mountain is seen resplendent in the sunlight. This scene stands in striking contrast to the one already considered.
There the central figure was David, the first of the dynasty : here the central figure is Jesus the Messiah, the last of the dynasty.
There it was the ascent of Olivet by a king leaving his capital: here it is the descent of Olivet by the King entering His capital.
There a sinful man was dishonoured: here the sinless Christ is temporarily honoured. There weeping prevailed in the royal retinue: here rejoicing prevails among the people of the great King.
Curses then were heaped upon the head of David : blessings are here showered upon Him Who is both David’s root and David’s branch.
For the moment the rightful king was acknowledged, yet how soon the fickle crowd changed their acclamations of praise to vociferations of hatred and cried, ‘Away with Him! crucify Him!
3. The next royal visit to Olivet’s slopes was in the night time under the Paschal moon, and is recorded in Luke 22.39-44. It was the night of the betrayal of Jesus by His professed friend and follower, but antecedent to that act of treachery the Lord Jesus had sought the solitude of a garden on Olivet’s slopes to commune with His Father. ‘He came out, and went, as He was wont, to the mount of Olives; and His disciples also followed Him. The Mount of Olives in the moonlight tells the story of the King’s anguish. The clamorous crowd raising their loud ‘Hosannas’ are now silent, the hush and stillness of night has fallen on the mountain side, and the King has entered the Garden of Gethsemane which signifies ‘the olive press,’ and, prostrating Himself in the shade of the venerable olive trees that typified Jehovah’s privileged ancient people soon to be stripped of their branches (Rom. 11.22). He sweats, as it were, ‘great drops of blood falling to the ground.’ The burden of a world’s sin is about to fall on the sinless King of the Universe.
‘He is speaking to His Father,
Tasting deep that bitter cup :
Yet He takes it, willing rather
For our sakes to drink it up.
There ‘He offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto Him that was able to save Him from death, and was heard in that He feared.’
4. Once more, after death and resurrection, the King’s journey is from Moriah to Olivet, from the cross to the crown, from the sufferings of Ps. 22 to the sovereignty of Ps. 24. ‘Lift up your heads, O ye gates, and be ye lifted up, ye everlasting doors, and the King of glory shall come in. Who is this king of glory? — The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle."
The next time the feet of the King touch Olivet’s mountain is the last time for centuries (Acts 1.9-12). Its slopes are again bright with glory. It becomes the Mount of Olives in the spotlight, as the apostles of the Lamb witness in the King’s ascension the climax of a finished work, a defeated foe and a glorious resurrection : for ‘while they beheld, He was taken up and a cloud received him out of their sight.’ A spotlight is denned as ‘a circle or patch of intense light projected to throw a person or object into relief.’ The light was focussed on the ascending Lord Whose hands were uplifted in blessing. The Greek word—’atenizo’ —used in Acts 1.10 and translated ‘they looked steadfastly,’ aptly expresses the rapt attention that the Lord Jesus commands as. the central object of His people’s gaze. It occurs in Luke 4.20 when ‘the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him’ as He read from the prophecy of Isaiah and applied the Scripture He read to His mission to this earth. It is found again in Acts 7.55, where it is recorded that Stephen, ‘being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up steadfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing on the right hand of God.’ The vision of the great sheet, bringing to Peter the revelation of the universality of the Gospel of salvation and the impartiality of the Author of eternal salvation, commanded like attention, for Peter says of it, using the same Greek word, ‘upon the which when 1 had fastened mine eyes.’
5. The future holds for Olivet a still more wonderful event,— the King’s appearing, His second advent when the Mount of Olives will be seen in the floodlight of glory. (Zech. 14.3-4). That is one aspect of the Christian’s ‘blessed hope,’ even ‘the appearing of the glory of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ;’ and it is also the hope of Israel. ‘Then shall the Lord go forth, and fight against the nations, as when He fought in the day of battle: and His feet shall stand on the Mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem in the east, and the Mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof.’ Jerusalem and Israel’s land will be floodlit by His advent, and the whole earth will be miraculously illuminated. Three distinctive phenomena are outlined in Zech. 14.1-15.
(i) vs.. 1-5. The return of the Lord, resulting in the scattering of His enemies, the escape of the besieged Israelites, the liberation of the captives and the dawn of a new era.
(ii) v. 6-7. The resplendence of the Light, in one unbroken day never too brilliant and never dim, not like the natural light of the sun nor like the artificial light men use at night, for the Sun of Righteousness has, arisen with healing on His wings.
(iii) vs. 8-15. The restoration of the Land, its people, prosperity and preeminence.
The most fitting quotation with which to conclude the contemplation of this wonderful mountain in Scripture is part of Moule’s beautiful poem on The Mount of Olives:
- Rocky grey and flowery-bordered
- Rise the cliffs of Olivet;
- Bethany beneath them clusters,
- In its grassy hollow set.
- Jesus rested, teaching, blessing.
- Tarried oft in Martha’s home;
- Jesus from the Olive Mountain
- Passed beyond the starry dome.
- Saviour, Lord, uplift our longing
- E’en when peace about us lies.
- To the hope of Thy returning.
- To our Home beyond the skies.
by JOHN B. D. PAGE
SEVEN AUTOGRAPHS (ii)
Reading: Revelation 3.1-22.
In His autograph of the letter addressed to this church, the Lord Jesus styles Himself as
"He that hath the seven Spirits of God,"
which is the first part of a compound title (3.1). It takes us back to the designation used of the third Person of the Trinity in the opening salutation of the book, "from the seven Spirits which are before the throne" (1.4). "Seven Spirits," a phrase found in both references is suggestive of the plenitude of the Holy Spirit. In chapter 1 the location of the Holy Spirit is said to be "before the throne," but ;in chapter 3 Christ is in the possession of the Holy Spirit in His fulness, symbolized by the "seven Spirits."
Without a word of commendation, the Lord censures this church immediately by saying, "1 know . . . that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead," which means that this church had a reputation for correct theology and conduct but it was dead spiritually. Therefore, a church, whose creeds were correct and from whom spiritual life had departed, was in need of a fresh infilling of the Holy Spirit, and so the autograph was appropriate for the occasion.
The remainder of the autograph reads
"and (He that hath) the seven stars."
In a church, which is dead spiritually, man has probably usurped authority, and so this part of the title, which is similar to that for the church at Ephesus, was a reminder of the Lord’s authority over this church. Here, there may be a ‘warning to us. If we become dead spiritually, like the church at Sardis, then Christ is displaced as Lord in our lives and some thing or some activity is substituted in His rightful place.
This autograph, which is the longest, consists of three titles, the last of which is a quotation from Isaiah. The Lord introduces Himself (3.7) as
"He that is holy"
which is not a quotation of, but an oblique reference to, Leviticus 11.44, where Jehovah says "I am holy." In keeping with the other autographs, the personal pronoun is in the third person singular in this title, whilst the personal pronoun is in the first person singular in Jehovah’s statement of His personal holiness. In the 11 th chapter of Leviticus, the context consists of a list of "clean" meats fit for human consumption followed by those classified as "unclean," which were forbidden for food. The reason for these dietary laws is then given: ". . . ye shall therefore sanctify yourselves, and ye shall be holy, for I am holy," so the Lord told the Israelites. The Divine requirement of Israel was holiness as it is of believers today. Under the law, it was outward holiness by keeping certain dietary laws but, under grace, it is inward holiness. Not a symbolical holiness, as demanded of Israel, but a spiritual holiness is required of believers. Whether under the law or under grace, the Divine standard is the same, as expressed in the words, "I am holy" (Lev. 11.44, cp. 1 Pet. 1.15f).
The Apocalyptic autograph "He that is holy" is not only a tacit claim to identify with Jehovah, "the Holy One of Israel," an oft repeated title in Isaiah, but it is a declaration of the absolute holiness of the glorified Christ.
The holiness of the Lord Jesus, which is an equally important attribute as His Deity, was not attained by Him, for at no given point in either eternity or time was He not holy. He is eternally and intrinsically holy. In becoming flesh, He was not deprived of His holiness. Unlike all other humans, He was the Seed of the woman which was conceived of the Holy Spirit, and so the Divine Embryo was said to be "that holy thing" (Luke 1.35), which remains an unprecedented statement in medical history. In the days of His flesh, His absolute holiness distinguished Him from all other human beings (Acts 3.14). In the hour of death, being inherently holy, death had no claim upon His body and so His corpse did not experience corruption (Acts 2.27). In His present sphere of glory and exaltation, He is still holy, as He made it known by His title to the Philadelphian assembly.
The next designation in this composite autograph is
"He that is true"
which signifies One Who is not insincere but sincere, not unreal but real, not spurious but genuine. Here is a Man, in Whom there is sincerity, reality and genuineness, and such virtues are found only in One Who is holy and untainted by sin. Also, He alone is the One in Whom the truth resides inherently, for He said, "I am … the truth" (John 14.6), and so it is impossible for Him to tell a lie.
For the remainder of the title in the autograph, Christ applied to Himself a quotation from Isaiah 22.22,
"He that hath the key of David, He that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth and no man openeth."
Initially, these words concerned Eiiakim who superseded Shebna, David’s treasurer, and Christ used them as an appellation of Himself. By implication, He may be contrasting the faithfulness of Himself to the unfaithfulness of Shebna. Also, by depicting Himself as the Key-holder of a local assembly, Christ indicated His sovereign right to open and shut as He pleased.
This church was free from spiritual corruption like that at Thyatira but it was "lukewarm" and self- complacent spiritually, having yielded itself to the materialism of this world, and so a heartless indifference was displayed towards Christ. In His autograph, which is a three-fold title, Christ revealed Himself in moral, and surprisingly not judicial, attributes to the church at Laodicea.
In describing Himself as
(3.14), the Lord Jesus includes the definite article, differentiating the word from its normal use as an adverb and making it another descriptive title of Himself. There may be an allusion to "the God of the Amen" in the Old Testament (Isa. 65.16, RV, mgn.).
The word implies divine certainty. "All the promises of God in Him are yea, and in Him Amen, . . ." (II Cor. 1.20), and so every promise is guaranteed in Christ.
By this Self-description, Christ claims not merely identification with, but personification of, "The Amen." Strikingly, this title appears in the last of the seven letters, and so Christ says, in effect, "Amen" to every word uttered, and He is the Personal Guarantor of these letters. When other people are unstable and changeable, then certainty and immutability are found in Christ, "The Amen."
Next, Christ presents Himself as
"the Faithful and True Witness,"
and this title is apparently taken from what Johanan, Jezaniah and other delegates said to Jeremiah, "The Lord be a True and Faithful Witness between us .." (Jer. 42.5). There was apostasy in Judah when these men, who were representative of a remnant, said to Jeremiah that they desired to know "the way wherein we may walk and the thing that we may do," adding that the Lord may be a Witness between them. With a similar spiritual state in •the apathetic assembly of the Laodiceans, Christ appropriately applied to Himself this title "the Faithful and True Witness," for He was an invisible Witness of their insensibility and indifference to spiritual things. In Christendom today, as it was in the Laodicean church, there is an attitude abroad to accommodate any view presented, irrespective of whether it is scriptural, and to compromise on fundamental doctrines. We need to remember that Christ, although unseen, is still that "Faithful and True Witness" of our belief and conduct.
In approaching the last part of the Lord’s designation,
"The Beginning of creation,"
it will have been noticed that, for His autographs in the last two letters, the Lord Jesus has not adopted any phrases from the earlier vision of Himself (ch. 1) as He did in the first five letters.
A Pauline title of Christ is "the Beginning" (Col. 1.18), which is the same word used here by John, and in both cases it conveys the thought that Christ Himself is the Beginning, that is to say, He is the Origin of, or the Active Cause for, the existence of a being and thing .
This Apocalyptic title may have a two-fold significance. If the material creation was in the Divine Speaker’s mind, then all beings in the heavens and on the earth, both invisible and visible, owe their existence to Christ (Col. 1.16), for "all things were made by Him" (John 1.3).
If the new creation of this age of grace is in view, which is more likely, then Christ is the Originator of it too. In consequence of the death and resurrection of Christ, a man, who is in Christ, is a new creature, and his whole being is vitalized by Christ (II Cor. 5.15,17).
The work of the new creation is not restricted to believers . individually, but it extends to them collectively, for the Church consists of both Jews and Gentiles, who are new creatures in Christ. Initially, there was antagonism between them, due principally to inbred Jewish exclusivism, but Christ died "that He might create in Himself of twain one new man" (Eph. 2.15, RV. cp. 3.6.RV). Such unity between two basically hostile groups, which was a burning issue in the early days of this church age, is not the work of man but the creative act of Christ.
In these last days of the church age there is much talk about church unity between the denominations of Christendom, otherwise known as the Ecumenical Movement, and it is certainly not of God because Biblical principles are often sacrificed upon the altar of convenience to obtain inter-denominational unity. Their objective of a world
church appears to be Satan’s counterfeit of the true church, and it is depicted in scripture as a harlot (Rev. 17). Therefore, in these apostate days, we need to "hold fast the form of sound doctrine" and without fear to "preach the word" (II Tim. 1.13, 4.2).
by E. R. BOWER (continued)
Chap 11.1-3. Alfred Edersheim (Sketches of Jewish Social Life) records, "a remarkable passage in the Talmud, which, remembering that the time to which it refers was in all probability the very year in which our Lord died on the Cross, reads like an unwilling confirmation of the Gospel narrative: (i.e. the rending of the vail of the Temple. Matt. 27.50-52; Mark 15.38; Luke 23.45). Forty years before the destruction of the Temple, its doors opened of their own accord. Jochanan, the son of Saccai rebuked them, saying, ‘O Temple, why openest thou of thine own accord? Ah! I perceive that the end is at hand: for it is written (Zech. 11.1), ‘Open thy doors, O Lebanon, that the fire may devour thy cedars.’ " In passing, another Talmudic passage records that when Jochanan ben Saccai was dying he shed tears because he was "about to be led before the King of kings . . whose sentence of death killeth or ever . . there are before me two ways, one to Paradise and the other to Hell, and I know not which of the two ways I shall have to go . . whether to Paradise or to Hell: how then, shall I not shed tears?" Commentators have difficulty with these verses. Invasion? Natural disaster? Some other visitation? Does the passage from the Talmud throw light upon their meaning? Did Jochanan have 1 Kings 6 in his mind? Cf. Is. 14.8; 37.24; Jer. 25.34-38. Fire would speak of warfare or of judgment. The fall of the cedars occasions the howling of the fir and the oak; of shepherd and young lion. See Amos. 2.9 for a similar metaphor. See also Is. 2; Ezek. 15; 17.22-24; 19; The ‘pride of Jordan’ is translated as ‘swelling of Jordan’ in Jer. 12.5; 49.29; 50.44, and it is thought to refer to the thickets upon Jordan’s banks which was a natural cover for lions. Cf. Jer. 12.7-11. One thing is clear. This is the day of visitation. "Their glory is spoiled"— see Hos. 4.1-11; Hag. 2.3-9; Ps. 29.
vv.4-6. Again, the commentators have difficulty with the remainder of this section 10.1—11.17, but it has been suggested that vv. 4-17 has three divisions (1) Israel’s last opportunity (4-6); (2) The Good Shepherd rejected (7-14); and (3) the worthless shepherd (15-17). The prophet speaks of what he has been told to do; he acts out a parable. The flock needed a leader, a shepherd to lead and to feed them. Those who, within the nation, were anointed as shepherds were, in fact, leading the nation astray. We see a similar state of affairs in the Gospel narrative, e.g. John 11.47-52; 18-14. The nation would reap that which it had sown, and this time there would be no deliverance. Even a casual reading of Israel’s history (during Roman times for instance) will make one aware of the prevalent bribery and corruption. Our Lord’s double cleansing of the Temple illustrates these verses.
vv.7-8. "I will feed"—I fed; "poor of the flock"—the traders; "Beauty"— grace or favour; "Bands" — union. Who was it that Zechariah loathed? The sheep? The shepherds? The latter is the more likely because they were ‘cut off.’ And the ‘three’? Authorities, priests, prophets? See Jer. 2.8,26; 18.18; and cf. Hos. 5.7 with context. In chap. 4 we read of the two "anointed ones," and it was noted that there appears to be some correspondence with Rev. 11. 4-5. The two witnesses of Rev. 11 prophesied for 1260 days, and v.7 reads, "and when they had completed their testimony . . ." Daniel 12.7 refers to 1260 days or "a time, times, and a half;" three and a half years. However v.ll speaks of 1290 days—a difference of one month. Rev. 13.5 also refers to 42 months as the time given to the beast out of the sea to exercise power over the earth. Cf. Zech. 11.9 with Rev. 13.10. Just one month, and after a further month and a half, "Blessed is he that waiteth . . ." Cf. Rev. 20.6 and Dan. 12 with Rev. 20. See also Ps. 69.4; John 15.25. Some translate ‘cut off’ as ‘destroyed.’
v.9. See Jer. 15.1-2; Is. 9.20. The shepherd rejects those who rejected him.
vv. 10-11. Still acting out the parable or allegory, the prophet breaks the staff, symbol of the covenant of grace and favour. "One thing I have desired of the Lord . . to behold the beauty of the Lord … for . ." (Ps.27.45) "and let the beauty of the Lord be seen in us" (Ps.90.17). See Is.24.5 for the broken covenant as seen by God and Jer. 14.21 and 31.31-34; Heb. 8.1-13; Ref. 2 Sam.23.1-5; Ps.89. 1-4, 27-29; Jud. 2.2.1-15.
vv.12-13. In view of Matt.27.1-10 these verses must refer to the Good Shepherd who gave His life for the sheep (John 10.1-30). Matthew records that which was ‘spoken’ by Jeremiah—an oral tradition confirmed by Zechariah. Note the irony of, "O, the magnificance of the price" or, ‘the lordly price.’
v.l4 The staff ‘Bands’ is broken—as a result of w.12-13? Note ‘them.’ Refs: Isa.ll. 10-16; Jer. 3.18; Ezek.37.15-28; Hos.1.11; Note, Ezek.37.24. "In that day"—Is.l 1.11. The rejection of one Shepherd made void (for the time being) the covenant of union.
vv. 15.17. The prophet now enacts or impersonates the other character in the parable, that of the ‘foolish’ shepherd; the ‘idol’ shepherd; the accepted as opposed to the rejected; the bad as against the good. "Cut off"—perishing; "young one"—the straying; "broken"—wounded; "standeth still" —the weak. See Ezek. 34; Jer. 23.1-6. Is this foolish shepherd the antichrist as averred by some? Refs: 2 Thess. 2; Dan. 7; Matt. 24.4,24, etc., John 10.12-13; Rev.13
by J. B. HEWITT, Chesterfield
(31) GLIMPSES OF THE SPIRIT IN JOHN
There are over eighteen references in John’s gospel to the Holy Spirit. The first is by John the Baptist when he bear witness to Jesus when the people kept asking him questions about himself. He pointed men to the Greater than he, "for He was before me" (1.15). From chapter three we have pictures of the progress of doctrine which ought to find its counterpart in personal experience. Most of the references have to do directly with the approaching departure of Christ. The Lord dispels their fear of a threatening future without Him in their company (ch. 14-16). The dependence of the believer on the Spirit by no means ceases in conversion. The work thus commenced shall be carried forward to a final and glorious completion.
The Anointer. (Ch. 1. 32-34). John saw the Spirit come down from heaven like a dove, and remaining on Him (v. 32) a detail not in the other Gospels. The Spirit a permanent endowment to Christ. The descent of the Spirit brought conviction and John knew that this One was the Messiah. (Psa. 2.2; Isa. 42.1-4). The Spirit bestowed upon Him power for service (Acts 10.38). Everything He did from first to last, He did in the power of the indwelling Spirit (John 3.34). It gave Him power in His personal conflict with Satan. He was "filled by the Spirit," and "led by the Spirit (Luke 4.1-2; 14).
The Spirit gave Him His power in His personal ministry (Luke 4.18). His word was with power (Luke 4.36). It gave Him power for personal sacrifice (Heb. 9.14). The Lord Jesus baptizes with the Holy Spirit (John 1.33). The figure of baptism stresses abundant supply.
The Regenerator. (Ch. 3.5-8). Only the Spirit of God can radically change men. John records this experience as nothing less than a totally new birth. This is the Spirit’s first gracious and Divine act—the breathing of spiritual life in the soul. "It is the Spirit that quickeneth" (6.63). The Spirit’s work as a Quickener must ever precede His work as Sanctifier and a Comforter.
Those upon whom the Spirit comes are "born from above" and "anew" (3.3, 5-8). Two levels of living are open to man; the natural level, and that which is above nature, though not alien to it; "flesh" and ‘spirit.’ The Lord suggested to the cultured Nicodemus, that which is born of human nature remains by nature human (v.6).
Man born of the Spirit is a new creation. Only that which is born of the Spirit can see or enter the realm that is above nature, and lie by supernatural eneraies in the kingdom of God.
John has nothing to say about "gifts" and "signs" and "miracles" of the Spirit, except the greatest miracle of all, a man reborn, (2 Cor. 5.17; Gal. 6.15; 1 Pet. 1.23; Titus 3.5).
Regeneration is a work standing alone and distinct from all the other operations of the Spirit. Do not confuse it with conversion, adoption, justification and sanctification. Yet it forms the basis of them all. Only those who are Heaven born, are Heaven bound.
The Indweller. (Ch. 4.14). The Scriptures indicate clearly that the Holy Spirit is given to all believers immediately and unconditionally (Gal. 3.2-3; Gal. 4.6; Eph. 1.13-14; 1 Cor. 3.16). The Lord made contact with this woman to give her living water. What a revelation of God and His grace, and the Holy Spirit the living source of refreshment tor the heart. Here is a divine source of joy, a spring, a continual source of supply. The Spirit is the power of eternal life. The personality of the Spirit comes later in ch. 14-16. Along with the gift of eternal life the Holy Spirit Himself is given to us. The heart satisfied with Christ expresses itself in worship wihich is truly spiritual. The "true worshippers" cannot worship except with the innermost occupation of their heart (Phil. 3.3).
The word used here is Pneuma, without the article, it is not the Holy Spirit who is meant. Christian worship is not formal but it is not the less real because it is spiritual. The principles of worship, in spirit and in truth.
The Refresher. (Ch. 7.37). Jesus invited all those whom the formal feast did not satisfy. The thirsty ones are invited to drink. Not until Jesus was glorified historically, was the Spirit given. Jesus was clearly identifying Himself with the messianic fulfilment of the prophetic ritual (Isa. 44.3; 55.1; Zech. 13.1).
The refreshment and renewal is by the inflowing Spirit. John may have Ezek. 47 in view, a pictorial forecast of the fulness of millennial blessing. We are meant to be a source of renewal and refreshment to others. It was only after Calvary (v.39), that the Spirit could come upon the church and thereafter enter the heart of each believer (Acts 2.38; Rom. 8.16; Eph. 1.13). We are meant to be rivers of blessing, not channels, to saved and unsaved. The Spirit is given, He waits for us to use Him in holy living, in active service, in living worship, and in life-long service. When He is in control blessing will flow through us.
The Counsellor. (Ch. 14.15-18; 25-27). The Lord prophesied the coming of the Holy Spirit. He spoke of Him as the "parakletos," which R.S.V. translates as Counsellor. It has a legal application and points to the Spirit as our Friend, especially our Friend at court. He is a Helper who takes the place of the Lord Jesus; "with them" as their Guide and Comforter, but also "in them" as the Indweller.
In having the Spirit they will continue to have Christ in them. It was natural that Barnabas, being full of the Spirit, should be called by his colleagues "son of paraclesis" (son of encouragement, or son of exhortation). (Acts 4.36).
The three prepositions used in v. 16,17 among, alongside and in you, marks a change of dispensation, pointing to the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.
As a Teacher (ch. 14.26). Being the Holy Spirit His work would be in harmony with the holiness of God. Coming in Christ’s name, He would be His Representative. As such He would act in harmony with the teaching and purpose of Christ. He would "teach them all things"—the Epistles, "and bring all things to their remembrance" the gospels, "shew you things to come" (16.13)—the Revelation. The Holy Spirit is the Inspirer, and also the Interpreter and Illuminator of the Word. He gave the authenticity of the Gospels and became the sufficiency of the Apostles as Witnesses of all the Lord did and taught.
There are no authoritative writings for the Christian after the New Testament.
The Convicter. (Ch. 16.4-11). This fourth promise elaborates the Spirit’s ministry towards the world. An intellectual ministry of conviction, a reproving, exposing ministry. The world’s great sin is unbelief. Sin is lawlessness (1 John 3.4 R.V.). Unbelief is the rejection of the Son of God who came in Grace, who came unto His own (Israel) (John 1.11). They cast Him out of the Vineyard (Matt. 21.33-46).
Of Righteousness, proved by Scripture, "none righteous" (Rom. 3.10). They crucified the Righteous One (Acts 3.14), but God raised Him, and Heaven received Him (3.21). Righteousness the world rejected is now enthroned. Christ is absent, Righteousness is gone. Thus the Spirit vindicates the character, claims and conquest of Christ. He defeated the Prince of this world at Calvary (John 16.11). The Cross judges all sinners because of their association with the world and its prince.
The Glorifier of Christ. (Ch. 16.13-14). As the Spirit of Truth it is clearly stated, He will not speak on His own authority, but what He hears that will He speak. Here is the Spirit’s firm relation to Christ. He will not glorify Himself, but exalt Christ, encourage saints and explain the Scriptures to us.
He is an Ambassador to represent (v.7); a Reprover to convict (v.8); a Guide to direct (v.13); a Servant to help (v.13); a Teacher to instruct (v.14), and a Friend to reveal Christ to us (v.15).
The Spirit continually unfolds the meaning of what Christ has said and done.
The Equipper for Service (Ch. 20.21-23). The gift of the Spirit here is in the context of the departure of Christ. This time the disciples are to share His own commission, received from the Father.
Peace for their personal enjoyment (v.19), now peace as the introduction to their mission (v.21). Verses 22 and 23 are difficult. First the commission then the power to carry it out, "receive ye the Holy Ghost." This gift is the power of the new life proceeding from the Person of the Risen Christ. In creation man and man alone enjoyed the breath of the Lord God. Only in this Gospel does the Lord Jesus stand before us as the Risen Man and Lord God (v.28).
He is the life-giving spirit, He breathes on the disciples. Now they have life more abundantly. The Lord as Head of a new family, confers resurrection life upon the members of it. (Gal. 2.20b). The Spirit of God always accompanies the life that Christ gives. The commission is for the whole Church and not to Apostles only. After Pentecost the remission of sins comes to believing souls through the Gospel (Acts 2.38). What does the ministry of the Spirit of God bring to my heart today? He is the Companion of the lonely; the Guide of the anxious; the Instructor of the learner; the Comforter of the bereaved and the Witness of the commissioned servant. As the SPIRIT—He Searches; Presents Christ; Inspires the Scriptures; Reveals truth; Instructs the mind; Thrills the soul with power and joy.
by J. G. GOOD
Forty days elapsed between our Lord Jesus rising from among the dead and ascending back to the right hand of the Father. During this post resurrection period, He only appeared to His own, the last view the world had of the Saviour was on the Cross of Calvary, There are ten appearances of our Lord recorded for us in the New Testament, these are as follows;
- 1. To Mary Magdalene, (Mark 16.9, John 20.11)
- 2. To the women returning from the tomb with the message from the angels, (Matt. 23.8)
- 3. To Peter, (Luke 24.34, 1 Cor. 15.5)
- 4. To the disciples on the road to Emmaus, (Mark 16.12, Luke 24.13)
- 5. To the disciples minus Thomas, (Mark 16.14, Luke 24.36, John 20.19)
- 6. The appearance to the disciples Thomas being present, John 20.26, 1 Cor. 15.5)
- 7. To the seven disciples by the sea of Galilee, (John 21)
- 8. To the apostles and above five hundred brethren at once, (Matt. 28.16; Mark 16.15)
- 9. To James, (1 Cor. 15.7)
- 10. The Lord’s ascension from Olivet, (Mark 16.19; Luke 24.44; Acts 1.3).
The foregoing is by way of an introduction to the portion of Scripture under consideration, namely John’s gospel Chs. 20 and 21. Here we have three of the post resurrection appearances mentioned. Firstly in chapter 20.19, where the Church is in view, therefore the associated blessings are Spiritual. Secondly, in chapter 20.26, where the nation of Israel figures, and here it is the Physical that is emphasised. Thirdly in chapter 21.14 where the Millenium is pictured, and we have the Material character of the blessings predicted.
Therefore the scene set for us in chapter 21, is definitely dispensational in character. The location is Galilee not Bethany, it is associated with Israel’s earthly blessing during the Millenium period. There is a contrasting passage in Luke 5, one of the points that differ being the ‘net brake.’ Does not this suggest that n6 human agency can control the tremendous blessing of the Gospel age? Here in this passage, the opposite is the case, verse 11, Millenial blessing to the world, will be directed through the nation of Israel. The names mentioned among the seven to whom the Lord appeared are indicative of future blessing for Israel, Simon Peter, Thomas, and Nathanael.
There are three key figures in this chapter, the central being, our Lord Jesus; Simon Peter is connected with the nation of Israel in his ministry; and John the representative of the Church, the apostle who carries us on until the coming of the Lord. The chapter before us may be Dispensational and Prophetical in its interpretation, but the lessons to be learned are Devotional and Practical in their application. The threefold division which follows has this aspect of the chapter in view.
The Problem of Leadership—Exposed (verses 1-14).
‘I go a fishing.’ Without exception leadership in the New Testament is always viewed in the collective aspect, to prevent this very same danger. The difficulty of singular leadership is that of the individual using his own ideas and influencing others to accept his verdict. ‘In the multitude of counsellors there is wisdom’ (Proverbs 24.6). The Personality Cult presents a grave situation among the assemblies of God’s people, let us recognise that this is not in the best interests of His people and definitely not according to God’s word.
Experimental Loss Received
‘And that night they caught nothing’ (verse 3), to move without Divine direction will result in a feeling of loss, poverty of life, and a grieving of the Spirit.
Exacting Lessons Re-iterated
‘Cast your net on the right side of the ship’ (verse 6), this was a break with tradition, the net apparently was cast on the left side of the ship, but they acted in obedience to the Lord’s command. There was a feeling of desperation, having confessed that they had ‘No food,’ they accepted the offered remedy.
The Primacy of Love—Expressed (verses 15-19)
Love seems to be the pivot upon which the questions of Leadership and Lordship rest. There was no doubt regarding Peter’s love for his Lord, he failed to be controlled and regulated by this love. There must be a substitution of ‘I’ for ‘My.’
Energy of Love—Required
Love must be manifested in our lives, as affecting others, Peter’s threefold denial, called for a threefold confession, ‘Thou Knowest that I love Thee.’ This love is selfless, sacrificial, and sincere.
Enigma of Life—Revealed
‘When thou shalt be old’ (verse 18), He alone can reveal the things hard to accept and understand, here is a comforting thought, that all is in His permissive will and for His glory, (verse 19).
The Principles of Lordship—Expounded (verses 20-25).
All must be subservient to Him, as individuals with freedom and personal liberty this choice must be made. Exercise of Liberty—Respected
‘Lord, what shall this man do,’ we cannot determine the role of others, nor can we take from the individual believer his or her right of personal liberty. ‘Hast thou faith, have it to yourself before God’ (Romans 14.22).
Evidence of Loyalty—Requested
‘Follow thou Me,’ our Lord Jesus desires the obedience and loyalty of the individual and not the popular mass movement of the fishing adventure. There is a clause in the last verse of this chapter which is very interesting and important, ‘many other things which Jesus DID.’ Is our love expressed merely in words, or is it manifested in our DOING?
Teach me, Lord, on earth to show,
By my love, how much I owe!
by REGINALD WEBB, Norwich
There is no doubt that we live in a very changeable world, and over the past few years nothing remains the same for long, but when we come to the word of God, principles laid down therein are the same for all time, and do not change with the whims and fancies of men and women today.
The scripture says "Jesus Christ the same yesterday today and forever," Heb. 13.8, and this surely goes for His word. In Proverbs 22.28, we read "Remove not the ancient landmark which thy fathers have set." That which has been a guide for so long, let’s not do away with it. We hear so many people say, we must move with the times, let’s, alter this, let’s do what others are doing, let’s do away with this and that, but what is put in its place? You remember the Israelites wanted to be like the other nations when they asked Samuel for a king to judge them, the Lord said to Samuel they have not rejected you they have rejected me. 1 Sam. 8. 6,7. Let us not seek change for change sake but, let us keep to the old paths and the truths laid down in scripture.
There seems a great reluctance these days in some quarters to stand up for what we believe. I was reading "Gems from Tozer" the other day and Dr. Tozer says, "A new Decalogue has been adopted by the neo-Christians of our day, the first word of which reads "Thou shalt not disagree" and a new set of Beatitudes too, which begins "Blessed are they that tolerate everything, for they shall not be made accountable for anything." It’s far easier to swim with the tide, it’s more difficult to go against it. I am concerned for the young people of our assemblies today as no one seems to tell them what we believe, and why we meet as we do.
It’s been a great joy to me over the years in assembly fellowship to spend the first part of the Lord’s Day around His table. What a precious time it is when in quietness and reverence we worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness (Psalm 96.9), and to carry out His wish "This do ye in remembrance of Me (Luke 22.19). As we sit and gaze at the spread table what do we see? just bread and wine? or do we see beyond the emblems the Lord Himself suffering upon the cross? I am often reminded of the hymn we love to sing,
- If now, with eyes denied and dim,
- We see the signs but see not Him,
- Oh, may His love the scales displace,
- And bid us see Him face to face.
Some people have said why do we have the breaking of bread every week, surely once a month would be enough, we could then have a family service instead. God forbid that we should give way to such a thing, or even think of cutting down the time. Let us hold fast to this great privilege and give the Lord His rightful place. "That in all things He might have the preeminence (Col. 1.18).
In my younger days we had many great men of God, giants in the faith, who spent much of their time teaching the young, but where are such people today. With all the pressures of the world today and the many false doctrines which lure many from the truth we need to get down to the study of the scriptures and the Holy Spirit has promised to lead us into all truth.
How easy it is to let things creep into the assembly which we know that once would not have been tolerated. It’s much harder to remove them once they have established themselves. The Apostle John writing to the church at Sardis in Revelation 3.2, said "Be watchful and strengthen the things which remain that are ready to die" Paul writing to young Timothy could say "Hold fast the form of sound words which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus (2 Tim. 1.13) and also "But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured" (2 Tim. 3.14). We need to be watchful and to hold fast to the truth and to make sure that it is not taken from us. The enemy has alweys been very busy causing havoc amongst the people of God and seeking to rob God of His portion.
I am reminded of a little incident in the life of Abraham, when in Gen. 15 he had been told to "look toward heaven and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them, and the Lord said so shall thy seed be" and he believed the Lord. He was then told to set up the altar and take a heifer, goat, ram, turtle dove and young pigeon, this he did and in verse 11 we read" and when the fowls came down upon the carcases, Abram drove them away. How lovely the thought that Abraham was prepared to stand guard over what was
God’s. We need to guard the Lord’s things, we need to set our watch arid strengthen the things which remain, otherwise the fowls of the air will come and rob the Lord of his portion.
by JIM JARDINE, Brazil
Amongst the strongest and most penetrating of human sentiments is that of a patriot exiled from his native soil. Some of the most beautiful folk music of many countries has been written under the influence of such feeling. It is a mixture of longing and sadness coupled with a desire to be home. This longing is something that every Christian should feel for we are truly ‘pilgrims and strangers’ in this world. We may have patriotic feelings for our earthly nation but we should never forget that our first loyalty belongs to that other country which we can only now discern spiritually but which one day will become a glorious reality. The Apostle Paul in Philippians 3.20 says "for our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ."
It’s interesting to note that the Word of God has relatively little to say about heaven. Indeed it has been suggested rather facetiously that more information can be found in our hymn books than in the Bible! As G. B. Fyfe has pointed’ out, the reason for this ‘is probably because the conditions governing life on the new earth and, even more so, life in heaven itself, will be so different from what is experienced now that our finite minds have not the capacity to comprehend them, nor has human language the power to describe in detail the wondrous things God has in store for His redeemed in the timeless state’ (‘Treasury of Bible Doctrine’ page 434).
The four passages of scripture that deal directly with the eternal state are 2 Peter 3.13, 1 Corinthians 15.28, Revelation 21. 1-4 and Ephesians 3.21. There are other verses in the Word of God that show us something of conditions in eternity although they are primarily about other subjects.
As we think of the heavenly city, the New Jerusalem, we would remember that it will be the eternal habitation of the saved—it is reserved for those who are described as ‘His people’ (Rev. 21.3). Only those who have accepted
the Lord Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord here on this earth and while an opportunity is given will ever enter that city. The "fearful and unbelieving" shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone" (Rev. 21.8). We cannot avoid this solemn reality. ‘A heaven to be gained and a hell to be shunned’ might seem a rather old fashioned message in a technological age but it must ever form part of our Gospel if we are to remain true to God and to the revelation that He has given to us.
The New Jerusalem will be a place of complete happiness (Rev. 21.4), abundance (Rev. 21.6), justice (2 Peter 3.13), rest (Rev. 14.3), glory (2 Cor. 4.17, Col. 3.4), worship (Rev. 19.1) and service (Rev. 22.3). There we will meet again our loved ones who have gone on before. The separation may be a difficult one now but we do not sorrow as others who have no hope (1 Thess. 4.13) for we have the certainty that they will rise again and will be there with us. This separation has been caused by death but in the New Jerusalem "there shall be no more death" (Rev. 21.4). It’s a place where we shall live in our resurrection bodies (1 Cor. 15.44) and never again shall we feel hungry, thirsty, tired and depressed in spirit. It’s a place where God will "be all and in all" (1 Cor. 15.28).
Yet as we consider the marvels of the celestial city we thrill at the thought that above all of the wonders that we have mentioned is the fact that we shall see our blessed Saviour. Who can describe the joy of that moment? To look on the blessed head that was crowned with thorns and to contemplate those hands and feet that were pierced with nails and pinned to a cross for my sins will be unspeakable glory.
"The Bride eyes not her garment,
But her dear Bridegroom’s face;
I will not gaze at glory,
But on the King of grace.
Not at the crown he giveth,
But on His pierced hand;
The Lamb is all the glory
Of Immanuel’s land."
(Mrs. A. R. Cousins)
As if that were not enough we read in 1 John 3.2 "it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as he is." With Christ and like Christ—there can surely be no greater blessing in heaven and earth than those which await the believer on that glad day!
The English language has provided us with a beautiful word to describe the death of a saint It is the word ‘home-call.’ There are two truths embedded in that word. The first is that in this world we do not have a permanent dwelling place. We are here as travellers and so we mustn’t become tied down by material cares or worldy interests, but, like Abraham we must await that "city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God" (Hebrews 11.10).
We would recognize too that one day we will receive our call. It may be by ‘death’s dark vale’ or it may be (blessed hope!) by the coming of the Lord Jesus to the air to receive His own. By whatever means it comes it is the gateway to glory and so we do not need to have doubts or fears.
Dear brethren and sisters, what a stupendous future is ours! Let’s ever look up and while we wait let’s pray and work earnestly that as many as possible may know the joys of eternal glory.
- With Christ in my heart, and His Word in my hand,
- I travel in haste through an enemy’s land ;
- The road may be rough, but it cannot be long
- So I journey on singing the conquerer’s song.
- — (H. F. Lyte)
by D. N. MARTIN
When the magicians of Pharaoh’s court, whom the Holy Spirit reveals to us by the apostle Paul in 2 Timothy 3 as being Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses and Aaron, it was by imitating, as far as they were able, whatever God’s servants did. We do not find they attributed God’s servant’s actions to any false or evil, energy, but sought to neutralize their power upon the conscience, by doing exactly the same . things. What Moses, and Aaron did, they could do. so that, after all there was no great difference. One was as good as the other. A miracle is a miracle. If Moses and Aaron wrought miracles to get the slaves out of Egypt, Jannes and Jambres could do the same to keep them there, so where was the difference?
From all this we learn the most solemn truth that the most Satanic resistance to the testimony of God in the world is offered by those who, though they imitate the effects of the truth, have but ‘A form of godliness’ and deny the power thereof. People of this class can do the same things, adopt the same habits and forms, use the same phraseology, profess the same opinions as others. If the true believer, constrained by the love of Christ, feeds the hungry, clothes the naked, visits the sick, distributes the scriptures, distributes tracts, supports the gospel, engages in prayer, sings praises, preaches the gospel, the formalist can do ‘everyone of these things, and this, it must be observed, is the special character of the resistance offered to the truth ‘in these last days’—this is the spirit of Jannes and Jambres. How necessary to understand this!
How important to remember that as these magicians withstood Moses and Aaron so do those self-loving, world seeking, pleasure-hunting professors, "resist the truth!" They would not be without ‘a form of godliness,’ BUT, while adopting "the form" because it is customary, they hate "the power," because it involves self-denial. The power of godliness involves recognition of God’s claims, the implanting of His Kingdom in the mind, and the consequent exhibition in the whole life and character; but the formalist knows nothing of this. ‘The power’ of godliness could never harmonise with any of those hideous features set forth in 2 Timothy 3, 1-5. But ‘the form’ while it covers them over, leaves them completely unsubdued; and this the formalist likes, he does not want his lusts subdued, or his pleasures interfered with, his passions curbed, his affections governed, his mind purified. He wants just enough ‘religion’ as will enable him ‘to make the best of both worlds.’
In marking the forms of Satan’s opposition to the truth of God, we see his method has ever been, first to oppose it by open violence; and then if that fails, to corrupt it by producing a counterfeit, hence he sought first to slay Moses and having failed – to accomplish his purpose, he sought to imitate the work of Moses. Thus to has it been in reference to the truth committed to the Church of God. Satan’s early efforts showed themselves in the wrath of the chief priests and elders, the judgement hall, the prison, the sword, but in 2 Timothy 3 we find no such agency. Open violence has given way to the far more wily and dangerous instrumentality of a powerless form, an empty profession, a human counterfeit. The enemy instead of appearing with a sword of persecution in his hand walks about with the cloak of profession on his shoulders. He professes and imitates that which he once opposed and persecuted and, by doing so gains the most appalling advantages, for the time being.
The fearful forms of moral evil which, from age to age have stained the page of human history, instead of being found only where we might naturally look for them; amid the caves and dens of human darkness, are to be found carefully arra-nged beneath the drapery of a cold, powerless, uninfluential profession; and this is one of Satan’s grand master-pieces. That man should love himself a fallen, corrupt creature, covetous, boastful, proud, arrogant being is natural; but that he should be all these things beneath the fair covering of ‘a form of godliness,’ marks the energy of Satan in his resistance to the truth in ‘the last days.’ That man should stand forth in the bold exhibition of those hideous vices, lusts, and passions, which are the result of departure from the source of infinite holiness and purity, is only what might be expected. Will anyone say these things have no voice for a day of powerless profession? Most certainly it has! It should speak to each conscience; in living power, it should challenge each mind, .with impressive solemnity., It should lead each one to enquire, seriously whether they are testifying for the truth, by walking;in the power of godliness, or hindering it, and neutralising,.its action, of having only the form. The effect of the power of godliness will be seen by our "continuing in the things which we have learned.’ None will continue, except those who are taught of God; those who by the Spirit of God have drunk in the divine principle, at the pure fountain of inspiration. Blessed be God, there are many such throughout the various, sections of the professing Church. There are many here and there, whose hearts beat fast with genuine attachment to His Person and whose spirits ane cheered by ‘that blessed hope’ of seeing Him as He is, and of being eternally conformed to His image. It is encouraging to think of such things. It is an unspeakable mercy to have fellowship with those who can give a reason of the hope that is in them and of the position they occupy. May the Lord add to that number daily. May the power of godliness’ spread far and wide,in these last days, so that a bright and well sustained testimony may be raised to the Name of Him who alone is worthy. Amen.
by Jack Strahan, Enniskillen
"AND IS IT SO, I SHALL BE LIKE THY SON?"
JOHN NELSON DARBY (1800—1882)
Leap Castle lies’ today in ruins, its burnt-out ivy covered shell now a haven for the wild birds. Nevertheless, its commanding situation together with its impressive keep tower overlooking the valley to the Slieve Bloom mountains tell of a past glory. It was originally built in the 14th century as a fortification to guard the pass into Munster and was at one time the home of the Darby family in King’s county (Offaly), Ireland. But why did John Nelson Darby, as a young man of no meagre intellect and education turn his back on such splendour and wealth? What was it that induced him to leave if all to become virtually a homeless traveller? The answer to this quest is to be found in some lines written by himself in his middle years of life,
" Tis the treasure I’ve found in His love
That has made me a pilgrim below."
He had weighed things wisely and concluded with Paul that "the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal." (2 Cor. 4.18). He had found other treasure-satisfying treasure, treasure out-wearing the years of time and undiminishing in eternity.
John Nelson Darby, the youngest son of John Darby, a well-to-do land owner and merchant of Markley, Sussex, England and of Leap Castle, Ireland was born at his father’s London house in Westminster on November 18th, 1800. His middle name "Nelson" was received from his god-father the great Lord Nelson under whom an uncle Admiral, Sir Henry Darby, K.C.B., had served at the Battle of the Nile. Darby’s mother died when he was only a boy. He received his early education at Westminster School and at the age of 15 entered Trinity College, Dublin, where he graduated as Classical Gold Medallist at the age of 19. In due course, he entered the legal profession and was called to the Irish Chancery Bar. A promising professional career stretched out before him and many had high hopes that he would rise to its highest honours. But God was calling him, and so after deep spiritual exercise, he abandoned his legal profession and stepped out on a life of spiritual service. First he entered the established church and was ordained deacon in 1825, serving for a time as curate of the large and straggling parish of Calary in Co. Wicklow. In this, he gave himself unreservedly to the work, miistering physically and spiritually to the needs of’ the poor of that desolate bog-land parish.
Darby soon discerned an unparalleled apathy within the established church where very few cared for the souls of men. He looked at the dissenting churches around him and detected in them a cold exclusiveness which he felt to be contrary to the spirit of Christ. Thus bewildered, he turned to God and to His word for he felt that there he should find clear guidance as to his path in life. He soon became convinced that his position within the established church was no longer tenable and he resigned from his parochial charge. At that same time others in and around the city of Dublin were likewise searching the scriptures and the Spirit of God opened up to their hearts the great truth, as expressed later by Henry Groves, of, "the oneness of the church of God, involving a fellowship large enough to embrace all saints and narrow enough to exclude the world." Prayerfully, they followed the path that God had revealed through His word and in the latter part of 1829, Darby with three others gathered for the first time to observe the Lord’s Supper. A room in Fitz-william Square in the city of Dublin was their first place of meeting but the Lord Himself was their gathering centre, the Word of God was their guide, and the Spirit of God presided in their gatherings. Those were precious days.
Darby, though he had resigned the curacy, had not resigned the ministry of God’s word. He regarded the whole world as his parish and travelled: widely throughout Great Britain, Ireland, France, Germany, Switzerland, Holland, Italy, Canada, America and Australia carrying the gospel and teaching the church of God great New Testament truths. The secret of his ministry was a deep devotion to Christ Jesus his Lord and under his ministry, thousands separated themselves from the established church and gathered simply to the name of the Lord Jesus.
Darby’s manner of life was marked by simplicity, sincerity and severity. Recognizing that this world could not be mended, he lived apart from its ways and was known to say, "the world goes its own way and I am not of it." He had not respect of persons and loved all who were spiritually minded and; devoted to Christ, irrespective of their rank or name. He was generous to those in need, sympathetic to the afflicted, patient with the ignorant and kind to a’M. For the cause of Christ, he sacrificed much and in life bore many afflictions and heartbreaks. In these he committed his cause to God and though misunderstood by many on earth, he was happy in knowing that he was understood in heaven.
John Nelson Darby served his Lord throughout life faithfully and devotedly—a powerful personality, a spiritual giant, a mystic engrossed in the heavenlies. On April 29th, 1882, he fell asleep in Christ and was laid to rest in Wimborne Road Cemetery, Bournemouth, where the spot is marked by a simple tombstone bearing his1 epitaph,
JOHN NELSON DARBY
"AS UNKNOWN AND WELL KNOWN"
DEPARTED TO BE WITH CHRIST,
29th APRIL, 1882.
II COR. V. 21
LORD LET ME WAIT FOR THEE ALONE,
MY LIFE BE ONLY THIS—
TO SERVE THEE HERE ON EARTH UNKNOWN,
THEN SHARE THY HEAVENLY BLISS.
John Nelson Darby (J.N.D.) is probably best known for his writings, and for his translations of Holy Scripture. His "New Translation" of the Bible from the original languages into English bears the marks af true scholarship and spirituality. He also translated the Bible into French and German. His "Synopsis of the Books of the Bible" is a masterly summary of the teachings of both Old and New Testaments. The varied writings of J.N.D. are gathered together in 34 volumes of "Collected Writings" and several volumes of "Letters" and represent a written ministry during more than fifty years of busy service. His tracts and pamphlets are far-seeing, almost prophetic in character, as, for example, his "Progress of Democratic Power and its effect on the Moral State of England"!
Darby, however, was also a prolific hymn writer and a volume of "Spiritual Songs" has preserved his hymns to us as a rich legacy. J.N.D.’s hymns, like his writings, are scholarly and spiritual, born out of deep devotion to Christ. Beautiful verse gives expression to great spiritual truths. For personal meditation and adoration, or for collective worship, here is a rare treasure indeed. Of his hymns in common usage today, the following are, perhaps, the best known:—
"And is it so, I shall be like Thy Son?"
"Hark, ten thousand voices crying"
"I’m waiting for Thee, Lord"
"Rest of the saints above"
"Rise my soul, thy God directs thee"
"This world is a wilderness wide"
His hymn entitled, "The Hope of Day" is, perhaps, one of his best loved and was written in 1872.
- "And is it so, I shall be like Thy Son,
- Is this the grace which He for me has won?
- Father of glory! Thought beyond all thought,
- In glory to His own blest likeness brought!
- O Jesus, Lord, who loved me like to Thee?
- Fruit of Thy work! With Thee, too, there to see
- Thy glory, Lord, while endless ages roll,
- Myself the price and travail of Thy soul.
- Yet if must be! Thy love had not its rest
- Were thy redeemed not with Thee fully blest—
- That love that gives not as the world, but shares
- All it possesses with its loved co-heirs!
- Nor I alone, Thy loved ones all, complete,
- In glory around Thee with joy shall i meet;
- All like Thee, for Thy glory like Thee, Lord!
- Object supreme of all, by all adored!
- The heart is satisfied, can ask no more;
- Al thought of self is now for ever o’er;
- Christ, its unmingled object, fills the heart
- In blest adoring love—its endless part."
Darby here transports our spirits to an eternal day—a day when aspiration and anticipation give way to realization—a day when self with all its uglness recedes, and for ever we be like Gods Son. Then every heart will know its perfect rest—the heart of the Son as satisfied with the fruit of His soul’s dark travail, the heart of the saint as resplendent in the likeness of his Saviour, and the heart of the Father as beholding each one reflecting perfectly the image of His beloved Son.
PRAISE YE THE LORD
Praise ye the Lord, with heart and soul and voice,
Praise ye the Lord, again I say rejoice ;
Praise ye the Lord, to Him your anthems raise
He, He alone is worthy of your praise.
Seek ye the Lord, today He may be found,
Seek ye the Lord, He’ll make your life abound,
Seek ye the Lord, your sins He will forgive,
Trust Him with all your heart and for Him live.
Pray ye the Lord, He loves to answer prayer,
Pray ye the Lord, He’ll keep you in His care;
Pray ye the Lord, your needs He will supply
For He is true, on Him you can rely.
Serve ye the Lord, your Master and your Friend,
Serve ye the Lord, be faithful to the end;
Serve ye the Lord, and when the battle’s won
His great reward for you will be ‘Well done.’
Praise ye the Lord, with heart and soul and voice,
Praise ye the Lord, again I say rejoice;
Praise ye the Lord, He’s faithful to His Word,
So let us praise His Name with one accord.
—T. Cornforth Taws, Leicester.