STUDIES IN JOHN’S GOSPEL
by Wm. Hoste
CHRIST JN THE APOCALYPSE
by John B. D. Page
GREATNESS OF GOD
by J. G. Hutchinson
FOCUS ON FUNDAMENTALS
by J. B. Hewitt
TALKS TO YOUNG BELIEVERS
by John Ritchie
PREACHING OR FRUSTRATING THE GOSPEL
by H. J. Saxelby
ONE GREATER THAN SOLOMON
by J. E. Todd
by Edward Robinson
by David N. Martin
by Nelson McDonald
HYMNS AND THEIR WRITERS
by Jack Strahan
(Christ, the Interpreter of the Father)
by WM. HOSTE
FOREWARNING THEM (John 16)
There are certain things in this Chapter, which the Lord —to spare His disciples—had not wished to tell them before (v. 4), that is the persecutions that awaited them. "Hitherto" His presence had protected them; but now that He is leaving them, they must be forewarned. There were also "many things" (ver.12), that He had to say to them, which He could not tell them even then, for they were not "able to bear them." For this, the Comforter first must come. But that could not be, until He Himself was glorified. So it was "expedient that He should go away." In chap. 14.16, it is said to be the Father who would send the Spirit. Here, it is the Lord Himself. At Pentecost, both these promises were fulfilled. "Christ having received of the Father, the promise of the Holy Ghost, hath shed forth this which ye now see and hear" (Acts 2.33). Of course, the Lord had possessed the Spirit "without measure" in the days of His flesh, but not to communicate Him. Now, for the first time. He was to baptize His people (see John 1.33) "in the Holy Spirit," into union with Himself, as members of His body. And this ministry of the Spirit would be twofold. First, toward the world, He would enforce on it the crowning sin of unbelief in Christ; His own "righteousness"—proved by His session on the Father’s throne, and their "judgment," following in due course, that of its prince. Secondly, the Spirit would guide His disciples into "all truth," shewing them the things of Christ, and "things to come," such being part of the "many things," they were not yet able to bear from the lips of Christ then. Surely, this suffices to negative that unholy conception of a contrast between the teachings of Christ and of Paul. "Back to Jesus," is the cry of many to-day, who, as we have seen, have a vague idea, that the Lord’s teaching was only ethical. They laud the Sermon on the Mount in order to evade the full teachings of the Epistles, as to the Fall of man, redemption by blood, justification by faith, and coming judgment. But how shallow such a pretence is, is evident, when we consider as has been noted before, that there is not one outstanding truth revealed by the Spirit through Paul, James, Peter, John, or Jude, which is not already found, at least in germ, in the Gospels. The same Spirit Who spoke through our Lord, wrote through the apostles and prophets.
The Spirit was not to speak of Himself (i.e., on His own initiative), but whatsoever He should hear, that He would speak. But no one pretends that the Holy Spirit laid aside His Divine attributes, and yet similar words to these (e.g., John 5.19,20; 8.28), are quoted as proving this of our Lord, with what reason, may be judged. The whole assumption is radically false, and confounds the harmony and interdependence of Divine Persons, with what these men do not scruple to describe in referring to our blessed Lord, as His "ignorance" and "weakness."
But the departure of the Lord Jesus to the heavens has not interrupted, but intensified His interpretation of the Father. It was, as He revealed Himself down here, that the Father was revealed; now as He is revealed by the Spirit, in a deeper and wider measure, so is the Father correspondingly; and that not in parable, but in plain speech.
This would lead to more intimate fellowship with the Father. In that day, they would no longer *ask questions (erotao) of Him, they would make requests (aiteo) of the Father, and that for the first time in His Name. The prayer taught by the Lord to His disciples, was not in His Name, and was therefore temporary in character. But when they should make requests (aiteo) in His Name, the Lord did not promise to pray (erotao) the Father for them : that would be unnecessary, for the Father Himself loved them, because they had loved Him, and believed He came out from God. "We love, because He first loved us," but it is no small thing to the Father, to find in this scene of carnal hate to Christ, some hearts loving Him. Such He loves with a special love. The Lord closes with one more word of comfort. He had told them to expect tribulation. "In the world ye shall have tribulation, but in Me, ye shall have peace," and He adds, "Be of good cheer I have overcome the world." This is true now and may be the realized experience of all the true children of God, while in the world.
- * "Erotao," translated "ask" in vv. 1,23 (first ask), 9. To "pray" in v. 26, also chap. 17.9,15, means to enquire of, or "to question a superior," or to pray to an equal. "Aiteo" is to "make request to a superior."
by JOHN B. D. PAGE
THE COMING KING (iv)
Reading: Revelation 19.16; Pss. 24.7-10, 47.1f, 48.2, 95.1-3.
The King of Glory
As "The King of Israel" will come in manifest glory, it is appropriate to consider Him now as "The King of Glory," which is an Old Testament title found in Psalm 24 where it occurs five times.
Once in the New Testament, Christ is called "The Lord of Glory," occurring in 1 Corinthians 2.8, ". . . had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory." Clearly, this designation is associated with His first advent and the depth of humiliation that He experienced on the cross. In contrast, the Old Testament title, "The King of Glory," directs us to the height of His exaltation as King at His second advent with the majesty and honour relating to that office.
Linking the second stanza (vv. 7-10) of Psalm 24 to the Apocalyptic vision of the mighty Conqueror-King riding upon His white horse followed by His heavenly retinue (Rev. 19.11,14), the prophetic significance appears to be the triumphal entry of Christ into Jerusalem and the temple in a future day.
Having defeated the armies besieging Jerusalem and with many diadems upon His head, Messiah approaches the city, finding its gates barred and bolted. From outside and with a herald-like voice, He commands, "Lift up your heads, O ye (city) gates, and be ye life up, ye everlasting (or, ancient) doors (of the temple); and the King of glory shall come in" (v.7). From inside the walled city and from behind its bolted gates, the people call out, "Who is this King of glory?" (v.8a). In reply and identifying Himself with the covenant-relationship name, He says, "Jehovah, strong and mighty, Jehovah mighty in battle" (v.8b) and, following these re-assuring words, He commands again with His herald-like voice, "Lift up your heads, O ye (city) gates; even lift them up, ye ancient (temple) doors; and the King of glory shall come in" (v. 9). Still bewildered, the Jews inside the city repeat the question, "Who is this King of glory?" (v.10a). In His answer this time, the Messiah-King makes no reference to His capabilities of victory in battle, but He says confidently, "Jehovah of hosts, He is the King of glory" (v. 10b), directing His people inside the city solely to His Person. By styling Himself first as "The Lord of hosts" (i.e., Jehovah Sabaoth), He refers not to His military might but to the heavenly hosits following Him in procession (cp. Rev. 19.14), ready to respond to His commands, and ithen His other designation "The King of glory" means that His whole Being is resplendent with regal glory.
The entry of Messiah-King into the city is found in Psalm 118. In response to Messiah’s further request, "Open to Me the (city) gates of righteousness; I will go into them . . . ," there is heard a voice as the gates are unbolted and swung open, "This is the gate of Jehovah, into which the righteous shall enter" (Psa. 118.19f). As the King enters the city, the regenerate Jews say, "Blessed is He that cometh in the name of Jehovah." Addressing the King of Glory and His righteous retinue, the pious priests of the Temple say, "We have blessed you out of the House of the Lord," (Psa. 118.26).
In the city of Jerusalem, the triumphant Messiah-King is the world Conqueror and the mightiest of Potentates in world history. Not surprisingly, His greatness is depicted by another title in other psalms.
"The Great King"
This Messianic title is found three times in the Psalter (Pss. 47, 48 and 95) whilst it is used sparingly of other kings.
It was during the Israelites’ wilderness journeyings when the Lord smote "great kings," particularly Sihon, the king of the Amoriites, and Og, the king of Bashan, who are specifically designated as such several centuries later (Psa. 136.17-20).
Of the many kings that ruled over Israel, both as a united and a divided kingdom, only Solomon is described as a "great king," not during or shortly after his reign but about five centuries later (Ezra 5.11).
These instances illustrate the principle that history assesses whether a king is great or not. Concerning Christ, there is a difference. With Him, prophecy asserts that He will be great in His Kingship.
In the familiar forty-seventh Psalm, "all peoples" of the earth are called to "clap (their) hands" in an oriental manner for expressing their joy and to "shout unto God with the voice of triumph," because "Jehovah, the Most High, is to be reverenced; He is a great King over all the earth" (vv. 1f, lit.). In a coming day, triumphant joy will pervade all peoples of the earth when Jehovah-Messiah as "the Most High," will exercise worldwide dominion (see Gen. 14.19) and, as the "Great King," He will enjoy global sovereignty, whioh is brought out so clearly by the psalmist’s designation of Him as "a Great King over all the earth." Interestingly, Solomon is described as "a great king of Israel" (Ezra 5.11), and so the contrast sets forth the superiority of Christ’s Kingship.
Psalm 48 describes the seat of government for this mighty Monarch. In spite of its long and chequered history of many millennia, Jerusalem is destined to be "the city of the Great King" (v.2), which is a phrase quoted by the Lord Jesus in his sermon on the mount (Matt. 5.35). In the same verse, the psalmist says of that millennial Jerusalem that it will be "beautiful for situation," which may be attributable to the city, having been re-built of precious and semi-precious stones (Isa. 54.11f), being set in "suburbs" (i.e. ‘a green belt’) (Eze. 48.17-19). Surely, this magnificent city will be fitting for the "Great King" governing "a great nation," even Israel (Gen. 12.2, cp. 46.3).
According to Psalm 95, "the Great King" is truly Deity and the object of worship. To regenerate Israelis of the millennium, a three-fold exhortation goes forth: "Let us sing . . . ; lot us make a joyful noise . . . ; let us come before His presence . . . ," for the temple will be then filled with His presence. Incidentally, to "come before His
presence" is the essence of true worship in the present church age. The reason for this exhortation follows : "for Jehovah is a great God, and a great King above all gods" (vv. 1-3), which means that Jehavah-Messiah is incomparable both as "a great God" and "a great King." Such worship will not be restricted to Israel but it will embrace the Gentile nations who will go up to Jerusalem "to worship ‘the King, the Lord of hosts" (Zech. 14.16). (To be cont.)
by J. G. HUTCHINSON
Paul in 1 Cor. 14.3 said that prophecy was with a view to edification, exhortation and comfort. It would seem that if it fails in this, it fails in the purpose for which it was intended. It is clear that when Isaiah wrote the part of his prophecy we call Chapter 40, he had before him the comforting of God’s people, for he opens the section with these words—"Comfort ye my people."
Let us see how he did it, in a very simple yet important way—by getting them to think of God (ver. 9) "Behold your God." No doubt Isaiah realized it was important for the people of God to be taken up at times with their circumstances, their responsibilities, their leaders and even at times with their mistakes and failures; but at this time at least he seems to see their need of more occupation with God. What better thing could any preacher have before him than this? What more important thing could be uppermost in any believer’s heart than this—getting more taken up with God and His things?
Notice please how he puts it to them—"Behold your God." He didn’t say "The God of Abram, Isaac or Jacob." It is true He was that, but it seems the prophet wants to bring it nearer to the people than that, and says "Your God." Jabez called Him the God of Israel; Jacob called Him the God of my father; but Daniel went further and said "My God." How sweet and blessed for the child of God however weak, poor or simple to be able to look to heaven and say concerning the God who sits there—"My God."
He brings God before them in a fourfold way:—(1) His
grace (ver. 2) (2) His greatness (v. 12); (3) His glory (v. 5); (4) His gift (v. 29). While it would be helpful and comforting to consider these together, in this article we will confine ourselves to seeing how he brings before them the greatness of God.
(a) The Greatness of His Person
In order to do this he makes mention of a number of created ‘things.
The Waters—likely having in mind much more than just ithe oceans, but if only these with their vastness and depth, and at times their seemingly irresistible force, yet such is the greatness of this person He measures them in the hollow of His hand.
The Heavens—If the ocean at times causes us to stand in awe and wonder, how much more the heavens. We, like David the shepherd boy on the hills of Judea, consider the heavens and are at once impressed as he was with the nothingness of man and the greatness of One who has "meted this out with a span."
The Nations—The great populous nations that from time to time have drenched the world in blood—and we fear threaten to do it again—(these to your God are as a drop in a bucket. A drop in a bucket! How small and of no value or importance. We would hardly bother to turn the bucket over to empty it out or take a cloth to wipe it out. So are the nations in God’s sight. Well might we sing as did another :
- "O Lord my God when I in awesome wonder,
- Consider all the works Thy hands have made;
- I see the stars, I hear the mighty thunder—
- Thy power throughout the universe displayed;
- Then sings my soul,
- My Saviour God to Thee,
- How great Thou art."
(b) The Greatness of His Power, "that bringeth the princes to nothing." (v. 23). As Isaiah wrote this his mind must have been going back, and as we read it ours would do the same. Proud Pharoah said "Who is the Lord that I should obey His voice?" He seemed to have thought "Who is there in the world but me!" No one else mattered, he openly defied the God of heaven. What happened? God took him out and drowned him in the Red sea. (Ex. 15).
Nebuchadnezzar (Dan. 4.30) seemed in ways to be in the same frame of mind as Pharoah—boasting haughty man, God humbles him and sends him out to graze like the beast of the field "until he knew the most high ruleth." Herod had taken the head of James and had no scruples about doing the same with Peter—"When I get Easter over I will get rid of Peter." We are familiar with the wonderful way God delivered his servant, but what about Herod? Such is the greatness of God’s power he sends a few worms and his earthly story is finished. Napoleon boastingly said, God is on the side of the army with the heavier battalions," and so sets out for Moscow. God sends a few snowflakes, bogs his armies and smashes his power. "He bringeth the princes to nothing." How comforting "nothing too hard" for such a God. He can right the wrongs of earth, assembly and home—can reach the hardest and save them too!
(c) The Greatness of His Understanding, "no searching of His understanding." Not only a God great in His person and power, but a God of infinite wisdom and knowledge. He knows the end from the beginning, the darkness and the light are alike to Him. He looketh on the heart—all things are naked and open. His understanding was made. very clear to the seven churches. To each he said "I know." To one "where thou dwellest"; to another, "what thou doest;" to another, "what thou art" (Rev. 3.17). How comforting to those who are right and doing right; how searching to those engaged in anything of a questionable nature. He knows the widow’s tears, the orphan’s struggle, the young Christian’s temptation, the overseer’s burdens, the preacher’s need. Like Peter we bow in His presence and with worshipping hearts we say "Thou knowest all things."
(d) The Greatness of His Care "a Shepherd" (v. 11). While He has been brought before them as a Great,Person with great power and understanding, lest they should be overawed and feel "we are so small and weak we are of no account in His sight"—’the tender touch of His care is introduced. As soon as we think of a shepherd we think of one who at times has to deal firmly with the sheep—yet one who is tender, kind and sympathetic. As we sing
- "There is a shepherd living there, the firstborn from the dead
- Who tends with sweet unwearied care the flock for which He bled."
As the Shepherd He "feeds," He "gathers," "He will carry in His bosom" (place of affection), He "will gently lead." (Ver. 11). What a blessed example for the under-shepherds! Amidst all their changing scenes and trials, how comforting for these people to know they had a God who cared. It is the same for us. Paul asks in 1 Cor. 9, "Doth God care?" and then goes on to prove from the Old Testament He does care, even for the beast of the field. During His earthly sojourn the Lord Jesus taught He cared for the lily, the raven, the sparrow. Let us stop and ask "How much more does He care for His bloodbought children?"
The greatness of God "our God" is a comforting study, and well might we close with the hymn writer’s words :
- "Why should I ever careful be since such a God is mine
- He watches o’er me night and day, and tells me mine is thine."
by J. B. HEWITT, Chesterfield
(43) THE JUDGMENT SEAT OF CHRIST
The great event that will terminate the present period of grace is the Rapture of the Church at the coming again of our Lord Jesus Christ. After this event and our reception to the Father’s House, the Judgment Seat of Christ will be set up.
Time. Between the Rapture and the second Advent (Luke 14.14). Prior to the Lord’s coming with His saints to inaugurate His glorious kingdom on earth. Judgment-seat or "Bema" was applied to a Roman magistrate Tribunal. The time is the day of Christ (Phil. 1.10; 1.6; 1 Cor. 5.5; 1 Thess. 2.19; 3.13).
Place. In heaven (Rom. 14.10; 2 Cor. 5.10). It is a tribunal before which all believers will stand and be made manifest.
Object. There are four main accounts of the Judgment Seat (Rom. 14.14; 1 Cor. 3.10-15; 4.1-5; 2 Cor. 5.9,10). We
shall consider these later. Some objects are:— (a) To give a personal account.of how we treated our brethren (Rom, 14.12,13). (b) To reward or rebuke us for our ministry, and to test our motives (1 Cor. 3.13,14; 4.5). (c) Accountability and, assessment of character (2 Cor. 5.10). (d) To rectify things we failed to put right when down "here. To ensure that we move into the Marriage Supper (Rev. 19.7,8). (e) To determine the place we shall occupy in the Kingdom. The place we have then is being merited now. This is illustrated in the parable of the pounds in Luke 19.11-26. We are to trade for gain with the deposit given to us. The cities referred to speak of administration. The outcome is determined by the success of trading in the absence of the Master (v.16, 17). The measure of present gain is the measure of future government (Luke 19.17,19).
The Judge. "The Lord the righteous Judge" (2 Tim. 4.8; John 5.22; 2 Cor. 5.10).
The Persons Judged. AH believers—"we all," "every one of us," "every man" (2 Cor. 5.10; Rom. 14.12; 1 Cor. 4.5; Gal. 6.8; Col. 3.24).
The Quality Tested (1) Its Individuality—Rom. 14.10-12. The main truth here is accountability. God will hold me accountable how I treat my brother (v.13, 15). You are not the "weak" brother’s master; it is to Christ that he "stand-eth," in approbation, or falleth," in displeasure. Why all this clashing and contradicting and censuring among Christians? "We shall all stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ (v.10). Two sobering thoughts : "for whom Christ died," "the work of God" (v. 15,20). Do we appreciate the brother offended is Christ’s, and a part of his purchase ? and is the work of God in grace. We are all the Lord’s (v.9), depending on Him and devoted to Him. We must acknowledge His absolute sovereignty and dominion. He is the universal monarch, Lord of all (Acts 10.36).
(2) Its Scrutiny of materials used by the teacher. (1 Cor. 3.11-13). The severity of the test of all ministry—"tried by fire." The Corinthians formed opinions concerning the relative merits of teachers. We still do that. We are builders in an assembly employed for industry. The foundation is Christ (v.11) and Paul laid it at Corinth. He now instructs would-be teachers, who are building the superstructure. Our materials must be carefully selected. We are to take heed how we build (v.10). The materials employed can be interpreted of doctrine, of character and example of the teacher. Here it is the work that is judged rather than the person. It is our contribution to the local assembly. What we have built shall be tested by fire (v.13). What will matter then will not be the size but the sort of our work; not its bulk, but its quality. In that day there will be a fair assessment, never one more accurate. What stands the test will be rewarded; what fails will be disproved. Oh, terrible, eternal loss !
(3) The Qualities of the teacher (1 Cor. 4,1-5). Ministers should not be regarded as sources of truth; they belong to the Church, and not it to them (1 Cor. 3.21-23). They are stewards (under-rowers) of Christ and must show faithfulness. Every man is estimated in four ways:— (a) by his friends "you" (v.3a); (b) by the world—"man’s judgment" (v.3b); (c) by himself,—"mine own self" (v.3c); (d) by the Lord (v.3-4). Only the last of these "judgments" is perfectly true. Only the Lord knows our motives, and only what He thinks really matters. He will bring to light the things done secretly, both bad and good. We should neither place too high a value on teachers, nor belittle the work they do. God will give praise to every man (v.5).
(4) Its Solemnity (2 Cor. 5.9,10). There will be a very searching judgment. Study the four different words used; "made manifest;" "declared;" "revealed;" "tried," prove (RV). Accountability, assessment, then awards. Paul wants to be well-pleasing to the Lord (v.9). In that day character will be seen—"things done in the body." All believers will be made manifest. All pretence will be gone. Christian living will be tested. Our faithfulness or unfaithfulness to Christ will be judged, and rewarded accordingly. Our resolution should be, "I will live NOW for THEN, and HERE for THERE."
(5) Its Possibility of rewards. Sharing the joy of the Lord (Matt. 25.21); knowing one’s work was not in vain (Phil. 2.16); seeing fruit for God (1 Thess. 2.19); praise from God (1 Cor. 4.5) and many crowns; for Elders (Heb. 13.7; 1 Pet. 5.4); for faithful service (2 Tim. 4.8); and for enduring trials (Jam. 1.12). May we live today, in the light of that day.—Amen.
by JOHN RITCHIE
COMPANIONS IN CHRIST
A young lad of sixteen lately left his country home to fill a situation in the City. He found lodgings in the same house, and slept in the same bedroom as another young lad who was employed in the same office. Both the lads were converted, but neither of them seems to have had enough courage to tell his companion, for when bedtime came the first evening, they were both ashamed to kneel down and pray before going to bed. They sat talking until it was late, each trying to muster courage to confess Christ to his companion, whom he supposed to be unconverted. At last, blushing all over, one of the lads said, "Well, Jim, we must get to bed," and with that he dropped on his knees and buried his head in the bed-clothes. Jim amazed, yet thankful at heart that the ice was broken, knelt beside him. When they rose from their knees, they grasped each other’s hand, saying, simultaneously, "Are you converted?" to which, both could answer "Yes." How thankful they were to find in each other a brother in Christ, yet how ashamed to think that they were so full of cowardice that they feared to own Him as their Lord. The lads from that night onward, knelt down side by side, and prayed for and with each other, and God gave them many happy hours together in that little room, over His Word and at His throne. Strengthened and helped, they took their stand a few weeks later together at the street corner, boldly testifying for Christ, and preaching His Gospel. On the way home Jim said, "How thankful I am you did kneel down that first night, Willie, for if Satan had got the victory, who knows how far we might have got from God." They are both fearless witnesses for Jesus now, and by their faithful testimony, many souls have been won for Christ.
Dear young saints! never be ashamed to own the Lord. No matter where, lot it be known at once, and beyond all doubt, that you belong to Christ. At home, in the workshop, on the street, let your testimony be clear, with lip
and life, it will save you heaps of trouble if you nail your colours to the masthead at once, and let it be known that you are the Lord’s, always ever able to sing—
"I’m not ashamed to own my Lord,
Nor to defend His cause; Maintain the glory of His Cross, And honour all His laws."
by H. J. SAXELBY, Wolvi, Queensland
- This Article was published in "Word and Work," March, 1957
- (an Australian Magazine for Believers) and as a result of
- requests and suggestions, is now re-printed in this concise form
The gospel of the grace of God as received by the Apostle Paul from God (Gal. 1.11, 12) is the greatest message that has ever reached mankind, and because it is of God and from God, and because this ministry of reconciliation has been committed unto us (2 Cor. 5.18-20) it behoves us as ambassadors for Christ to take heed how we handle this glorious message.
The Apostle Paul proclaimed that the gospel was the power of God unto salvation, and that it revealed the righteousness of God on the principle of faith (Rom. 1.16, 17). However, the observant listener will soon discover that very often the gospel as it is preached to-day, rather reveals Him in the light of an unrighteous God in that He is alleged to have punished the Lord Jesus for the sins of the sinner, yet He still intends to punish the unbelieving sinner for those same sins.
The general pattern of gospel preaching usually follows a line similar to this. The preacher seeks to convince his listeners that they are guilty, helpless, undone, lost and hell-deserving sinners, both by nature and by practice, in the sight of God and he employs various scriptures to prove this assertion, and it may thankfully be said that up to this point the preacher usually does an excellent job.
However, from this point on many seem to find difficulty in applying the message, for they then assure the sinner that his sins were laid on Jesus and that He bore them in His own body on the cross, an assertion which, if it were true, would constitute the sinner a saint, and as such he would no longer be in need of the gospel.
However, the preacher presses on telling the sinner that he must accept the Lord Jesus as his Saviour and; if he fails to do so, that God will punish him eternally for those sins which he had previously alleged had been laid upon the Lord Jesus and been borne by Him in His own body on the Cross.
Surely this is not revealing the righteousness of God but the very reverse; rather should the preacher tell the; sinner how that because of the death of Christ upon the cross for sin God is now in a position righteously to forgive him, if he but accepts the Lord Jesus Christ as his personal Saviour, or in other words, believes on Him. By so doing he would not have misrepresented God nor would he have misled the sinner.
The writer once listened to what promised to be an excellent gospel message. The speaker took debt as a simile of sin, cleverly and convincingly proved from the scriptures that all are by nature hopeless, bankrupt sinners in the sight of God. Unfortunately, he then immediately said "but Christ paid your debt on the cross of Calvary," he thereby ruined all that he had previously said and actually frustrated the gospel, as the sinner could not have his debt paid and be a hopeless bankrupt at one and the same time.
He then proceeded to warn the listeners that if they rejected Christ as Saviour that God would punish them for that debt which he had previously alleged Christ had paid on the Tree. On the other hand, if he had said Christ by His death upon the cross for sin, made it possible for you to have your debt paid, but in order to have your debt paid, you must come as a bankrupt sinner and accept the provision that He has made, he would have preached the gospel.
In his book "Studies in Bible Doctrine," the late William Hoste uses an apt illustration. On page 74 he writes, "If a large sum was devoted by the Government to pay the debts of a community, wholly insolvent, on condition that each debtor made full disclosure of his affairs and accepted the offer, the sum might be more than required to pay the debts of all, but only those who fulfilled the conditions could actually say, ‘our debts have been paid by the Government.’ Potentially all debts might be paid; actually only a proportion would be."
To my mind this is a clear and concise statement of the terms and conditions of the gospel, but that method previously under review, as well as misrepresenting God, is confusing to the sinner, for any normally intelligent person must wonder how his sins can be borne by Christ and he Still be guilty.
Unconverted sinners have been known to say, "well, if my sins have been borne by Jesus what have I got to worry about." If it be asked, what can be done to remedy this way of preaching, it may be suggested that the preacher constantly bear in mind the mighty difference that God makes between a sinner and a saint, that is between ah unbeliever and a believer. Let him thoroughly acquaint himself with those scriptures that apply to sinners and those which apply to saints. Some seem to think that so long as a quotation comes from the Bible it will do for the gospel, but not so. It is just as necessary to rightly divide the word of truth (2 Tim. 2.15) when preaching the gospel, as when ministering to the saints.
It was quite in order for Paul to assure the Corinthian saints that Christ had died for their sins, that He died and was buried and arose again, according to the scriptures (1 Cor. 15.3,4) or for Peter to remind the elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father (1 Pet. 1.2) that Christ had borne their sins in His own body on the tree (1 Pet. 2,24), but to put this blessed truth into the mouths of those whose sins are still on their own heads, is to say the least, a very serious matter. By doing so we may well incur the displeasure of a righteous God, as did Job’s three friends because they had not spoken of God "the thing that is right" (Job 42.7-9).
If the gospel preacher will take pains to discover the difference between sin as a root principle and sin as the fruit of that root, also the difference between propitiation and substitution, he will have done much to equip himself as a good steward of the manifold grace of God.
In the January, 1956, issue of the "Believer’s Magazine," Mr. W. R. Lewis, of Bath, England, has a very enlightening article "The Sovereignty of God." In the last paragraph he writes, "but while the death of Christ is universal in its efficacy, it is particular in its application, and if the sinner avails not himself of this provision, his guilt has not been expiated—he is still guilty before God—his sins have not been borne away, his transgressions have not been removed, his debt has not been discharged, and if he dies in his sins, he will be answerable not only for the rejection of Christ, but also for every other sin he has committed (Rev. 20.12; Eph. 5.6). God has "set forth Christ Jesus a propitiation by His blood," but it is "through faith" in Him on our part that we are justified (Rom. 3.25); only those who believe can say, "He bore our sins." For them alone is He the substitute or surety. The language of Isaiah 53.6 is the language of faith, and it is wrong and can only lead to confusion to use those words universally and indiscriminately.
"But how often when quoted in the hearing of a convicted soul have they been the revelation of the blessed surety, who was made a curse for (ante, in place or stead of) the believing sinner. On the other hand, the sins of the wicked dead have not been borne, but will be brought up again at the great white throne and the dead who will be there will bear forever the punishment due to those sins in the lake of fire."
In 1 Tim. 4.10 God is said to be "the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe." This noes not teach universal salvation, but simply that God is the (would be) Saviour of all men, but that He is the actual Saviour of those that believe. This scripture clearly implies that salvation is available to all men but that only those who actually believe in Christ Jesus receive salvation. 1 Tim. 3.4 says that "God desireth all men to be saved" (Newbury). If it be objected that only the elect can be saved, we can reply that only the elect will be saved because God, however willing Himself, can only save those who are willing to be saved, but the offer to all is a genuine one. It is true that the Lord Jesus said in John 6.44 "that no man can come unto Me, except the Father which hath sent Me draw him." But He also said in John 12.32 "and I, if I be lifted up, will draw all men unto Me." So it would seem that God has, through Calvary, drawn all men unto Christ, and the result of that drawing whether for good or ill rests entirely with the sinner himself.
It is, as though God through the gospel brings Christ and the sinner face to face and says to the sinner, "this is My beloved Son, receive Him as Saviour." If the sinner says
"I will," then a blessed, happy and eternal union takes place ; but if the sinner says "I will not," then God is reluctantly compelled to say, "I would but I cannot because ye will not." This truth is clearly taught by the words of our Lord Jesus Christ in His lament over the nation of Israel as represented by the city of Jerusalem, "how oft would 1 but ye would not" (Luke 13.3) and again in John 5.40 "ye will not come to Me that ye might have life."
The gospel proclamation to whosoever clearly demonstrates God’s willingness to save all mankind and man’s refusal to exercise repentance towards God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 20.21) is the only thing that prevents God from achieving that objective. The cross of Christ and the result and offer of mercy that flows from that cross work to every creature effectively exonerates God from any blame or responsibility for the eternal death of the finally impenitent. Praise His Holy Name for the availability and sovereignty of His Grace.
by J. E. TODD
The queen of Sheba was a great monarch, but when she came and saw the glory of king Solomon the sight took her breath away (1 Kings 10.4,5).
Solomon was so rich that his gold reserves posed a storage problem. He was too wise to merely hide them away in a dark vault. He stored them in a manner which achieved two purposes. The gold was used to manufacture five hundred ornamental shields. First, to richly decorate the cedar walls of his palace. Second, to impress the foreign diplomatic visitors to his palace with an open and unmistakable display of hiis wealth (1 Kings 10.14-17).
But in the person of our Lord Jesus Christ we have one who is declared to be greater than Solomon, ‘Behold, a greater than Solomon is here’ (Matt. 12.42).
Greater in Wealth.
‘I was made a minister . . . that T should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riohes of Christ . . . that now … might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God’ (Eph. 3.7-10). The unsearchable riohes of Christ provide a redemption by which people of all nations have
been reconciled to God and gathered into his church, which is the masterpiece of divine creation, a people for God for all eternity. This divine creation of the church was beyond the purchasing power of gold, ‘Ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold . . . but with the precious blood of Christ’ (1 Pater 1. 18-19). The infinite worth of a perfect divine life laid down in sacrifice, this purchased spiritual and eternal blessing for the whole human race. A greater wealth than Solomon’s indeed!
Greater in Authority.
Solomon’s dominion stretched farther than any other Israelite king before or after him (1 Kings 4.21). To symbolise his great authority Solomon built a unique throne of ivory and gold, splendid with ascending steps and attendant lions (1 Kings 10.18-20). But a greater than Solomon sits upon a greater throne, ‘Christ, when He raised Him from the dead, and set him at His own right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name not only in this world but also in that which is to come: and hath put all things under His feet and gave Him to be the Head over all things to the church’ (Eph. 1.20-22). Sitting upon the highest throne in the universe the throne of God itself the Son of God now exercises a universal authority. ‘All power (authority) is given unto me in heaven and in earth’ (Matt. 28.18). John looked forward to the day when that authority greater than Solomon’s will be openly displayed on the earth, ‘The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of His Christ; and He shall reign for ever and ever’ (Rev. 11.15).
Greater in Wisdom
Solomon’s political wisdom was so great, being clearly demonstrated in the prosperity of his kingdom, that other rulers unashamedly sought his advice (1 Kings 10.24). The wisdom of Christ is greater not just in degree but in kind. His is not the earthly wisdom bringing material prosperity, but the wisdom that is spiritual, heavenly and divine, ‘Christ … the wisdom of God’ (1 Cor. 1.24). It was the utter diversity of these two wisdoms which led to the cross, ‘We speak wisdom among them that are perfect (mature): yet not the wisdom of this world . . . but we speak the wisdom of God . . . which none of the princes of this world knew: for if they had known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory’ (1 Cor. 2.6-8). It is James who distinguishes between the two kinds of wisdom and shows the superiority of the one over the other (3.13-18). ‘Who is a wise man . . . let him show out of a good conversation (conduct) his works with meekness of wisdom . . . the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy.’ How perfectly this wisdom was exemplified in the sinless life of our Lord Jesus Christ. A wiser than Solomon indeed!
Greater in Power
It was Solomon’s overwhelming military power which preserved the peace of his kingdom (1 Kings 10.26). The horse was now the new military weapon, drawing squadrons of chariots and providing troops of cavalry, the horse was supreme on the battlefield. With fourteen hundred chariots and twelve thousand cavalry. Solomon possessed the massive deterrent of his day. None dare attack him, so peace was preserved.
At his second coming the Lord will provide and preserve peace for the whole world. ‘The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end’ (Isa. 9.6-7). It will be unpopular to say this in the present climate of liberalism and permissiveness, but it is nevertheless true to scripture to say that this peace will be achieved by the use of overwhelming force. John in his vision of this coming day, used the symbol of cavalry to express this. ‘And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse: and He that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He doth judge and make war . . . And the armies which were in heaven followed Him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. And out of His mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it He should smite the nations; and He shall rule them with a rod of iron . . . And He hath on His vesture and on His thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS (Rev. 19.11-16). Not only will this peace be achieved by power, but it will be maintained by power, ‘He shall rule them with a rod of iron’ (Rev. 19.15, 2.27, 12.5; Psa. 2.9). In that day the world will see an even stronger peacemaker than Solomon.
Greater in Prosperity
The most brilliant aspect of Solomon’s glory was his prosperity. In every enterprise, he possessed quite literally the Midas touch. Every thing turned to gold, so even silver became of no account (1 Kings 10.21). Abreast of the times, Solomon made horses the mainstay of his economy. Importing from the south, where horses were bred and chariots were manufactured in Egypt, he exported them to the north, where there was a great demand in the Hittite Empire and the Syrian kingdom. Solomon drained every financial advantage from a lucrative situation (1 Kings 10. 26-29).
But never has an enterprise prospered like that of our Lord Jesus Christ. ‘He shall see the fruit of the travail of his soul and be satisfied’ (Isa. 53.11, R.S.V.). Standing to gain nothing from the sin-polluited human race, God nevertheless invested His all on the cross in the sacrifice of His own Son. The spiritual dividends of that act have multiplied down twenty centuries through a hundred generations and in all nations. If we look only at our own small sphere of service we may grow despondent because of the gap between our expectations and the actual results of our service for the Lord. But if we step back and take the larger view, the few saved in our small sphere is multiplied to become a vast multitude which no man can number (Rev. 7.9). It is also a prosperity which does not lead to mere material glory, which is passing, but to the heavenly glory which is eternal. The prosperity of the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ is greater than the prosperity of the kingdom of Solomon.
Greater in Leadership
But the last word in comparing the glory of king Solomon and that of the Lord Jesus Christ must be spoken by those who have experienced their respective governments. The citizens of Solomon’s glorious kingdom complained to his son Rehoboam, ‘Thy father made our yoke grievous: now therefore make thou the grievous service of thy father, and his heavy yoke which he put upon us, lighter, and we will serve thee’ (1 Kings 12.4). But for those who have experienced the glory of Christ, they can endorse his words, ‘Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light’ (Matt. 11. 29-30). The Lord Jesus Christ is greater than Solomon by ‘the acid test of experience!
by EDWARD ROBINSON, Exmouth
The present state of violence, increasing corruption and the lowering standards of morality in the world in which life is held more cheaply than for generations, together with the decline which in general marks that which professes the Name of Christ prompts the consideration of the imminence of the time when God will intervene most directly in the assertion of His rights in the universe which He has never, nor could ever, give up. The hymn writer sums it up—
- O Lord Thy fair creation groans,
- The air, the earth, the sea,
- In unison with all our hearts,
- And calls aloud for Thee.
It may well be for instruction and of interest ‘to note some of the varied and many divine interventions which the Scriptures record. Some have, and will yet, affect the whole world, some, nations (particularly Israel), some, individuals, all for the glory of God.
He is intensely interested in all that happens in the world: nothing escapes His notice and He acts according to His divine nature. We may begin with the first verse recorded in Scripture : ‘In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth,’ and we may surely assume that it was perfect. Yet verse 2 reads ‘And the earth was without form and void.’ We are not told what had happened in the interim nor what space of time occupied those two verses. Bible critics, genealogists or scientists try to tell us that as regards the age of creation the Scriptures are inaccurate. Some type of earthquake or upheaval might have occurred over any length of time. Also we are not told at what time prior to the creation of man the angelic host was created, liable to fall and did. That the chaos is considered to be their work is mere speculation.
One of the most interesting and complex characters in the Old Testament saints is the grandson of Abraham, son of Isaac, Jacob. He is a deceiver, a reprehensible man; notwithstanding, in His sovereignty, God, with endless patience, spends upon him a most remarkable period of time in his spiritual education and formation. Doubtless the record is also for our edification and learning. His motives are often mixed but the outstanding feature (again affording to us an example) is the determination to secure at all costs the blessing of God. This God recognizes and responds to it with divine interventions. Jacob had vowed a vow (Gen. 28.20,22), and was left alone (32.24-31). How good to have vowed a vow and (for us, too) to be found alone with God. There wrestles with him ‘a man’ (a mysterious person—Divine?) and the strength of Jacob’s determination to be blessed is fully seen. ‘The man’ saying ‘let me go’ and Jacob’s response ‘I will not let thee go except Thou bless me,’ undoubtably bring great satisfaction to the heart of God. "And ‘the man’ said, Thy name shall not hencemore be called Jacob, but Israel (a prince of God), for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men and hast prevailed" (Gen. 32.28).
Remarkable divine interventions are seen with servants of God in the Old Testament; we find Elijah for instance, after having brought about a famine, needing himself to be fed and that by ravens and by a desolate widow woman. Again as in the well known instance of Daniel and his companions, deliverance from the fiery furnace and from the lion’s mouth. In the book of Joshua (10.13,14) we read that at the voice of a man (Joshua) the sun and the moon stood still for about a whole day. But there were interventions of wider significance affecting the deliverance of God’s earthly people, particularly in their teaching to ourselves regarding the death of Christ. We refer, of course, to the crossing of the Red Sea and of the Jordan. That of the former (Exod. 14) involved the destruction of their enemy, the Egyptians, under the leadership of Moses; that of the Jordan was under another, Joshua. Both are figurative (i.e. the Red Sea and Jordan) of the great conflict at Calvary when our last great enemy, (death itself) was annihilated. These two aspects of the death of our Lord Jesus are interesting and instructive. After the crossing of the Red Sea, under Moses, the people emerged into a wilderness setting with lordship prominent, corresponding rather to the Colossian position. That of the Jordan, under Joshua (suggestive of the operations of the Holy Spirit), brought out the people into the promised land, the setting rather of the Ephesian position of heavenly character. This incidentally, may well raise the question with us as to how much in practice we take up this ground beyond death in the triumph of Christ.
We turn to the New Testament to find an intervention so stupendous the human mind cannot grasp its dimensions. It is no less than the Incarnation. With beautiful simplicity Matthew and Luke tell of the birth at Bethlehem of the infant Babe, Jesus, whilst the world may at times wax rather sentimental with its Christmas cards. But John gives us an account, simple but weightier, ‘And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father) full of grace and truth.’ (1.14). The incarnation, however, was a necessary prelude to an intervention, with eternal issues, which it is no exaggeration to say, has altered the whole course of history and the relationship between the universe and its Creator, God. We refer to the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.
There, three men were crucified; the sinless Saviour, Jesus, in the midst and on either side, a sinner. These latter, representative of the whole of creation, were themselves divided into two great categories. Before the eyes of many onlookers at that time depicted vividly the truth of the Gospel of God planned in the purpose of God from the time sin through Adam entered into the world and death thereby: an exhibition of love, grace and mercy far surpassing the thoughts of men. The sacrifice of the spotless Lamb of God not only enabled God righteously to forgive the sinner, it also vindicated Him in all His holy character and nature. What consolation to the heart of the Saviour must this repentant first trophy of grace have afforded—.there is even joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth (Luke 15.10). This man then had the assurance not just of future resurrection, but from the Saviour’s lips To-day shalt thou be with Me in paradise.’ When we consider the implications of the Incarnation and the Gross, the next momentous event in these interventions is inevitable — the Resurrection of Christ. He was ‘raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father’ (Rom. 6.4), an exhibition of power not even exceeded by that of creation. He Himself says of His life, ‘I have power (authority) to lay it down and to take it again.’ (John 10.18).
So much for the past manifestations which have already occurred: those which are to take place are just as certain because they are disclosed to us in the word of God. That they are considered by many .to be imminent is not surprising in the light of the conditions which prevail. We live in a day marked increasingly by violence, corruption and Godlessness with the casting off of restraint. A time indeed ripe for the Lord’s intervention to catch away the saints out of this scene to meet Him in the air—the Rapture, an eagerly awaited event, ‘And so shall we ever be with the Lord’ (1 Thess 4.13-17). This is followed by the APPEARING of the Lord Jesus—this time with, not for, His saints, and He comes publicly to reign, as the Scriptures attest (1 Tim. 6.14; 2 Tim. 4.1-8; 1 Peter 1.7). ‘He Who tesfifieth these things says, Surely I come quickly, Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.’ (Rev. 22.20).
by DAVID N. MARTIN, Weymouth
Reading:—Ezekiel 33, Verses 1—9.
What is Revival ?
It is not evangelism, although some may be converted! It is not emotionalism, although there may be emotional manifestations connected with it! It is the renewal of spiritual life in an individual or among a group of people.
Does our Nation require Revival?
In Luke 4, verse 18, the Lord stood up in the synagogue at Nazareth and read from Isaiah 61 the catalogue of the results of sin upon individuals. Firstly:—sin makes bankrupt, it robs us of the spiritual blessings that we should enjoy as part of the riches that are ours in Christ Jesus. Secondly:—Sin breaks hearts, when Absolam sought to usurp the throne from David his father, we recall his father’s words "O Absolam my son Absolam, my son, my son, Absolam! would God I had died for thee, O Absolam, my son." Thirdly:—Sin binds, like a paralised person unable to move a muscle, secret sin holds many captive, yes, even in our assembly fellowships. Fourthly:—Sin blinds, truly the scripture says "The god of this world has blinded their eyes." Fifthly:—Sin bruises, sin always leaves its mark and the scarred tissue can only be healed by the Lord Jesus. Our nation desperately needs the reviving of all believers in these days of apathy and indifference and materialism.
Does the Church (the Body) need Reviving?
When we make comparison in the Acts of the Apostles with the men of God with whom we are familiar, there is no doubt the church has lost its voice and vocation. Virtue too is gone from it as the injunction from James 4.4 reminds us "Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of this world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of this world is an enemy of God," also Rev. 3.17, "because thou sayest "I am rich, and increased With goods and have need of nothing, and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable and poor, and blind, and naked." Not only has the Church (The Body) lost its voice, vocation and virtue, it has completely lost its vision also. "Where there is no vision the people perish." 1 rest my case, in respect of the Church (The Body) needing reviving.
One of the most discouraging things to me recently was when my eldest son asked me to read a paperback publication entitled "When the Spirit Comes." He has been brought up all his life in assemblies. I thanked God I was able to toll him on the authority of scripture that once we believe, we are SEALED by the Holy Spirit unto the day of redemption and not only so we are INDWELT by the Holy Spirit. He is also the EARNEST (or guarantee) of our inheritance, the first fruit, the pledge and foretaste, the down payment on our heritage, in anticipation of our full redemption and acquiring possession of it, to the praise of His glory. By one Holy Spirit we were BAPTISED into one body. It is God who confirms and makes us stedfast and establishes "us with you in Christ and has ANOINTED us" (2 Cor. 1:21).
Who then gives Revival ?
We must turn again to the Scriptures for the answer which is given us in Psalm 85, verse 6. "Wilt thou not revive us again that thy people may rejoice in thee." In this one verse we learn that the One who supplies revival is God, the subjects of revival are His people, the result being that they may rejoice, when this happens there will be showers of blessing.
- There will be showers of blessing
- Precious reviving again
- Over the hills and the valleys
- Sound of abundance of rain
- There shall be showers of blessing
- Oh that today they might fall
- Now as to God we’re confessing
- Now as on Jesus we call.
How and When will Revival be Experienced in Our Assemblies ?
Our first priority is that of, (as in everything) much prayer, accompanied by obedience to the Scriptures and precepts of God, together with presenting our bodies a living sacrifice (Rom. 12.1,2). Paul’s epistle up to this point has been concerned with doctrine, Now he calls on the Roman believers, on the account of God’s mercy to devote themselves altogether without reserve to God as a sacrifice, not a sacrifice of dead animals, but the sacrifice of their own living bodies, a holy sacrifice such as God will accept, the rational, willing, mental sacrifice of themselves. This entire surrender of the whole believer to the will and service of God is the foundation of all real obedience. (Verse 2). Be not conformed. Do not fashion or frame your lives according to the rules, or tastes, or habits of this world, but on the contrary Be ye transformed, altered, changed, the Greek word translated transformed is ‘metamorphoo‘ from which we derive our English word metamorphosis. The entomologist when he uses the term visualises the transformation of the caterpillar through the Chrysalis stage into the beautiful winged butterfly. It is a change of form and appearance from ugliness to beauty, but it also suggests a change of habits and manner of life, suggesting that the Christian has new wishes and a mind renewed by the Holy Spirit, so that we may learn what the will of GOD IS, and shew the proof of it in our lives. Full consecration requires, the salvation of God, the presentation of our bodies, the dedication of our lives, the renovation of our minds, resulting in the transformation of our whole being.
by NELSON MCDONALD (Scotland)
(11) THE FATHER’S PROTECTION
1. John 10.29. The Father’s Hand—The Place of Assurance or Security.
- (a) v. 27. His Designation—’My sheep.’
- (b) v. 14,27. His Discrimination—’I know them.’
- (c) v. 28. His Donation—’eternal life.’
- (d) v. 28. His Declaration—’never no never perish.’
2. John 12.26. The Father’s Honour—The Place of Appreciation or Sincerity.
- (a) The privilege of service—’Me.’
- (b) The pathway of service—’Follow Me.’
- (c) The prospect of service—’there shall also my servant be.’
- (d) The plaudits of service—’him will my Father honour.’
3. John 14.2. The Father’s House—The Place of Abundance or Serenity.
4. John 16.27. The Father’s Heart—The Place of Affection or Sympathy.
by Jack Strahan, Enniskillen.
‘O BLESSED LORD WHAT HAST THOU DONE’
MARY PETERS (1813-1856)
Mary Peters (nee Bowly) was born in Cirencester, Gloucestershire, England on the 17th April, 1813, the sixth in a family of seven children of Richard and Mary Bowly. Her father was a linen draper by trade and a member of a well-known and highly respected Quaker family in that ancient Cotswold town. Mary was a talented girl and devoted much of her time to the study of history. As a consequence of that early interest and application, she published a most ambitious literary work "The World’s History from the Creation to the Accession of Queen Victoria," (alternatively entitled, "Universal History in Scripture Principles"); throughout the seven volumes of that prodigious work, Mary traced the hand of God in all the great events of this world’s history.
Mary’s spiritual life in its early years was lived worthy of her Lord and in close communion with Him. In those days, a great spiritual movement had begun in the part of England where she lived and its influence was to further mould and enrich her life for God. Men and women, convicted and convinced by the simple teaching of God’s word, dissociated themselves from the established churches around them and gathered simply to the Name of the Lord Jesus. It is recorded that George Muller, one of the outstanding teachers of that early movement, came to Nailsworth, some ten miles from Mary’s home, in 1841 and there spent six weeks "labouring in the word .among the saints"; it was probably there, in part at least, that Mary imbibed precious scriptural truths which she would later weave so beautifully into many of her hymns.
At the age of 39, Mary married John W. Peters, M.A. who, at that time had described himself as "a minister of the gospel at Quenington, Gloucestershire." Peters in earlier years had been rector of the established church in Quenington and vicar of Langford but there came a time in his ministry when he was no longer happy to continue with certain teachings and practices of the church to which he belonged. He thereupon graciously resigned his "living" and built a simple little chapel in Quenington ifor the preaching of the gospel. That building bore no distinctive name and included within it a baptistry for the baptism by immersion of those who were believers in the Lord Jesus. Peters was a widower of some six years when he married Mary Bowly on the 13th April, 1852. The marriage took place in Cirencester and the ceremony was conducted by Mr. George Muller. Very shortly afterwards, John and Mary moved from Quenington to Clifton in Bristol. There they spent four brief but happy years together until Mary’s death on the 29th July, 1856, at the early age of 43. She was buried in Arnos Vale Cemetery, Bristol and there the burial service was conducted by Mr. Henry Craik.
Mary was a talented hymn writer. She wrote most of her compositions wihen still single and while living in Cirencester. The suggestion by some writers of an early widowhood being the background to some of her verse (as "Faith can sing through days of sorrow, All, all is well" appears to be without foundation. Most of her compositions (58 hymns in all) were published collectively in 1847 as "Hymns Intended to Help the Communion of Saints."
‘Mary Peters’ hymns today stiil hold a place of prominence among believers gathered to the Name of the. Lord Jesus. The present edition of "The Believer’s Hymn Book" contains some 12 of her compositions;
- 1. "Around Thy table, Holy Lord"
- 2. "Blessed Lord, our souls are longing"
- 3. "Lord Jesus, in Thy name alone"
- 4. "0 blessed Lord, what has Thou done!"
- 5. "O Lord, how much Thy name unfolds"
- 6. "Of Thee, Lord, we would never tire"
- 7. "Praise ye the Lord, again, again"
- 8. "Salvation to our God"
- 9. "The holiest now we enter"
- 10. "Through the love of God our Saviour"
- 11. "’Tis we, O Lord, whom Thou hast shown"
- 12. "Unworthy our thanksgiving"
These hymns of Mary Peters, packed with scriptural content, are to edification and breathe the very air of heaven. They both confirm the faith of the child of God and exalt the precious person of the Lord Jesus. The believer’s past, his present and his glorious future come within the sweep of her pen but her chief exalting theme, however, is the person of her glorious Lord—His fragrant name, His precious blood, His faithful priesthood and His intrinsic personal and eternal worth. As she borrows freely from Old Testament typology and weaves it in a masterly way into her verse, the theme of her pen takes on new and added lustre. Perhaps, among the loveliest on the theme of the Saviour is her "Whom have we Lord, but Thee" (not included in the Believer’s Hymn Book collection).
- "Whom have we, Lord, but Thee,
- Soul thirst to satisfy?
- Exhaustless spring! The waters free!
- All other streams are dry."
From such a wide and rich collection, we have chosen as our focus, "O blessed Lord, what hast Thou done!" It is both familiar and sweet. Occupation with its truth begets a sense of awe; our spirits are overwhelmed by the greatness of what God has done.
- "O blessed Lord, what hast Thou done!
- How vast a ransom paid!
- God’s only well-beloved Son
- Upon the altar laid!
- The Father, in His willing love,
- Could spare Thee from His side;
- And Thou couldst stoop, to bear above,
- At such a cost, Thy Bride.
- While our full hearts in faith repose
- Upon Thy precious blood,
- Peace in a steady current flows,
- Filled from Thy mercy’s flood.
- What boundless joy wild fill each heart,
- Our every grief efface,
- When we behold Thee as Thou art
- And all Thy love retrace.
- Unseen we love Thee, dear thy Name!
- But when our eyes behold,
- With joyful Wonder we’ll proclaim’
- The half hath not been told!"
In this hymn, Mary Peters again borrows truth from the Old Testament to magnify her theme. Types are introduced to advantage; in every case, the type is out-stripped and eclipsed. An earthly father and son upon the mount (Genesis 22) recede from our gaze and we see only the heavenly; all the years of humiliation and patient service of -a Jacob seem as nothing in light of the securing cost of the bride of Christ; the words of wonder of a Queen of Sheba are but just a faint echo of the full and final expression of redeemed and adoring hearts, "the half hath not been told."
- Jesus, Lord, most Holy,
- We now worship Thee,
- Holy, thrice blest, Holy,
- Thine the glory be.
- Angel hosts in worship
- Ceaselessly do cry
- Holy, Holy, holy,
- Lord of hosts most high.
- Son of God, eternal
- Lord and God of all,
- We in adoration
- At thy feet shall fall.
- All in heaven shall worship
- Lord, Redeemer, King.
- Worthy Thou, our Saviour,
- We our worship bring.
- Holy, Holy, Holy,
- Everlasting God;
- Hosts unnumbered praise Thee
- In thy heaven above.
- Blessing, honour, glory
- Wisdom, riches, might.
- Thou the life eternal,
- Thou the one true Light.
- Holy, Holy, Holy
- Lord, we cry to Thee,
- Blessed God eternal,
- God in Trinity.
- Lord, our hearts’ devotion
- Now we offer Thee.
- Let us see Thy glory,
- We thy face would see.
Copyright – Written by Henry V. Porter at Langmore Court, 3.8.82.
Can be sung to The Sanctus, Schubert’s German Mass.