THE BLESSED HOPE
by D. M. Martin
by E. W. Rogers
THE PROPHECY. OF NAHUM
by E. R Bower
by J. E. Todd
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
by Anthony Orsini
DOORS IN THE REVELATION
by B. Currie
by Charles Stanley
HAVE FAITH IN GOD
MY CONVERSION AND CALL
by J. E. Fairfield
THE BLESSED HOPE
by D. M. MARTIN, Dorset
Part IV — THE BRIDE, THE LAMB’S WIFE
Scriptures to read prior to this article, (1 Cor. 7.29,30; Rev. 17.4; 18.22,23; 19.7,9,16; 21.2,9,10,17). These passages from the word of God deal with matters connected with the thought of marriage, and the preparation for it.
Of Babylon we read that a time is coming when the voice of the bridegroom and the bride is to be heard no more in her. The moment will arrive when men will no more be permitted to hear those voices connected with the mercies of God. Indeed we might say that of all God’s mercies, and there are many, marriage is among the greatest, because it speaks to us in a peculiar way of Christ and the church. But the time is coming for Babylon when that voice will be no more at all heard in her.
We will refer to Adam, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to develop thought of marriage. In the case of Adam and Eve, there was no marriage, for a marriage supposes onlookers, witnesses; there were no spectators with Adam. Then again, there was no such thing as choice on Adam’s part, for choice suggests alternatives — others to choose from. A man today chooses his wife from others, but there was no such thing with Adam. Eve’s qualification was that she was formed out of his own rib, a companion of his own order. Innocent man — that was the order. Then there was no thought of clothing; no preparation — no wedding garment; for the moral question had not been raised, there was nothing to cover. Nakedness and innocence go together, but the moment the moral question of good and evil is raised there must be clothing. It is protective. So we read, "The Lord God made them coats of skin". Thus they were clothed indicating the blessed protection of the death of Christ. However the people under those coats of skin were unchanged — they were sinful, though they were under the protection of God. Though Adam wore a coat of skin he was not in accord with what was set forth in it.
When we come to Isaac taking a wife, again there is no question of choice. On the contrary, when the servant is sent out to fetch Rebecca he says, "Peradventure the woman will not be willing to follow me" — there was but one woman for Isaac — there was no question of choice. However, in Jacob we get the idea of choice; it says of Rachel that Jacob loved her and he made a proposal for her. He would work seven years for her, and when he had done so he counted them as days for the love he bore her. All these are divine features to teach us how the Lord had chosen the church. He has won the church for .Himself, and the idea of choice comes in at this point. It is the things we have power to choose which are our danger; providential things do not carry the same menace. It is where the will has place, where we can make personal choice of a thing, that the danger lies. And this is perhaps specially seen in regard to our choice of a wife.
Now the Lord has chosen the church for Himself, and He has made no mistake. He loved the church; it is the vessel of divine choice, and He gave Himself for it. He has worked for her — to use the type — and His labour, though much, seems doubtless to Him but as a few days. It is through the natural relationships that God is pleased to give us impressions of these great things, His great thoughts as to Christ and the church. The very idea of marriage is taken from God’s thoughts as to Christ and the church, for in order to give man an idea of it, He has given marriage to men, so that He might set forth in that precious relationship something of the blessedness of His own primary thoughts in regard to Christ and the church. There is always a danger in what is natural, it carries with it an element of danger, for the natural is opposed to the spiritual; so in 1 Corinthians the apostle says, "The time is straitened. It remains that they have wives be as though they had not". We are not to live in these things, but to learn in them and to profit in them. The Spirit of God would counteract the influence of what is natural in our souls by this thought, "the time is short". One’s impression as to that grows; it is impressed on the spirits of many that the Lord is very near at hand, the time when Christ will take His bride, and that thought is to control every feature of nature — joy or sorrow, or gain or loss — every feature of nature even at its sweetest it to be held in control by the thought that the coming of the Lord is at hand.
We must all be aware that we are very near the time spoken of in Revelation 17 when Babylon, the mother of harlots, will be seen. Women have become increasingly prominent in our days; if we are spared a few years longer I think we may see women in control everywhere; they will control government, the judiciaries, the courts of law. The Revelation shows us that all is to be headed up in a woman: Babylon (the world system, to be destroyed by Antichrist) says, "I sit a queen and am no widow" — she is seen clothed in scarlet, decked with gold and precious stones and pearls — you see how closely the enemy is imitating the divine thought.
Beloved brethren, a Man has been seen on this earth, an incorruptible Man — a Man who served God faithfully, who could not be turned aside. Now God has it in hand to form a bride for that Man. For this reason we see that the enemy is against the church, he is seeking to destroy it, preparing a counterfeit, Babylon, the mother of harlots.
What a sweet and blessed contrast to turn to chapter 19, where the marriage of the Lamb is come, and His bride has made herself ready. What a lot of preparation goes on before the marriage day comes; what activity it involves that all may be bridal and new and fresh; that there may be no marks of contamination, but that all may speak of virginity and purity. We read here, "the bride hath made herself ready — she has zealously cast off every element of impurity, every element that would suggest a garment spotted by the world, every element that would not speak of virginity — she has made herself ready. And then she is clothed in a garment in correspondence with her affections; her affections are pure, undivided, and her garments are in correspondence with her affections. She is clothed in fine linen, pure and bright, and we are told that the fine linen is the "righteousness of the saints". Every little bit of righteousness worked out in us practically is going to have its place in that garment of fine linen. You may say, but they were such little things. Yes, and the threads that go to make the linen are very fine, very slender in themselves, but when divine skill has woven them together, what a garment it is going to be! If His wife has made herself ready, it is in the daily and continual practice of righteousness. How it would comfort our hearts as we suffer for righteousness here, to know that we are working out that which is to be our garment in the day of glory, having all our hopes centred in Christ, and our affections gathered up to Him!
In chapter 19, following upon the wife’s having made herself ready, we find Him making war, and it is said that He is clothed in a garment dipped in blood; it is a vesture with a name written on it, King of kings, and Lord of lords. And not only is that written on the vesture, but it is upon His thigh. What I understand by that is that when you look under the garment you see exactly the same thing as upon it. What is seen outwardly is in correspondence with what is seen beneath. When Abraham sent his servant to fetch Rebecca he made him swear, putting his hand under his thigh; it indicates the strength of a man. Now the name on the garment here is in exact harmony with what is within; the name is upon His garment and upon His thigh. When He came here as an infant He wore swaddling clothes — they were the garments of infancy — they were suitable to Him, for He was born a babe; those garments indicated what He was — a babe. When the church comes out of heaven from God she is seen "prepared as a bride adorned for her husband", that is her eternal setting. (Rev. 21.2). She is FOR HIM — her beauty is for Him; she is adorned as a bride, for she is a bride, and her beauty is for Him in eternity.
If we look at that scripture we shall find that there are four simple figures left to us in eternity: God and man, and a husband and a wife. The theme runs all through scripture. It opens with a man and his wife and it closes with a bride adorned for her husband. What lies between those two points is the work of God down the ages. What a history lies between the coming of Christ and the preparation of the bride! How beautiful is her adorning for Him. The church will always be beautiful to Christ; it is an eternal beauty. The fairest in face and form naturally will fade, but the beauty of the bride is worked out in moral perfection, through moral questions. She is wholly the product of divine work — eternally beautiful to Christ.
In chapter 21.9 she is spoken of as "the bride, the Lamb’s wife"; she is in her working clothes, so to speak, now. Like the woman in Proverbs 31 that Solomon looked for but could not find. Here she is able to carry her husbands honour unsullied; able to see a field and purchase it; a vessel of utility — for the church is both ornamental and useful. She can work indeed, but she is beautiful to Him — all her beauty is for Him; she is not a bride to men, she is the bride of Christ. When she comes out the figure changes and it is as the city in which the light of glory of God is seen; there are the walls great and high, and the gates of pearl — all those wonderful four-square dimensions which speak of what the church is to be in the world to come for Christ. Yet interesting as that might be there is something being affected today, and the last feature which is seen is "The Spirit and the bride say, Come"; that is what is to mark the bride at the end, she says, Come! And that is not only addressed to Christ, but to him that hears, and to him that is athirst, and to whosoever will. The greater part of the "Come" is for Christ but it makes room for whosoever will to come to Him. When the moment arrives for Christ to take the church, she is ravished with Him — she cannot do without Him. She says, "Come", for she can wail no longer. She cries with intensity of longing for Him, she calls for Him with a desire which cannot wait — and the next moment He is here! The desire after Him is increasing on every hand — we are conscious of it in our own hearts — He cannot be very far away; it is a true impression which we have — bridal affections are stirring in the hearts of the saints, and we know it.
What shall we do meanwhile? We recognise that the time is short, and we rejoice with those that do rejoice; and we weep with those who weep, but we will not remain there, for the time is short; all is committed to the Lord, that our hearts affections may be kept for Him. How easily an influence connected with the affections will turn us away from Christ It was seen in Eve, for the enemy came in through the vessel of affection, she was in the transgression and Adam followed her. So the corrective exhortation here is that it remains for those that are married, to be as not married, those, who weep, as those who weep not. One bride and one wife will remain throughout eternity; natural links will pass away, but Christ and the church will remain, as the product of all God’s ways on the earth. We give thanks to God for all His mercies here, but as loving Christ we are lifted above the natural into what is spiritual. May God help us to gather into our souls His precious thoughts of Christ and the church, and of what she is to be in purity and affection, and in her righteousnesses, as the product of the work of God!
VITAL VERITIES (6)
by E. W. ROGERS
Illustrated in Luke’s Gospel
Paul and Luke were often fellow travellers. Some of their journeys are recorded in the ‘we’ section of the book of the Acts. Doubltless they frequently spoke together of divine things.
Luke had made thorough search into those things that were commonly taught about Jesus and, having satisfied himself as to the accuracy of his findings, recorded them in his gospel. Paul, on the other hand, had many visions and revelations from the Lord, and his epistolary doctrine is the result
This paper is designed to show the accord that exists between the doctrine of Paul and the researches of Luke.
The Incarnation.—An analysis of Gal. 4.4,5 reveals:
- The control of God in earth’s affairs: His Son was born at the time intended. "In the fulness of the time". Caesar Augustus, Luke tells us, made a decree that all the habitable world should be registered. Its enforcement, however, in Judea, appears to have been delayed. When it did become operative, Joseph and Mary had, in consequence, to proceed to Bethlehem where the Child was born. God governmentally controlled the enactments of world rulers for His own ends.
- A divine mission explained His presence on earth: ‘God sent forth His Son’. Luke informs us that Zechariah affirmed "the dayspring from on high" had visited God’s earthly people (Luke 1.78). Heaven’s light was brought into earth’s darkness. Mary’s child was of heavenly origin: He had a divine mission: God had sent Him.
How fully Luke accords with Paul!
- He became incarnate through a woman — "made of a woman". Contrary to nature the Lord Jesus was born not having a human father. The details which Luke had ascertained from Mary he recounts. He gives historically what Paul summarizes in four short words.
- He came into the Jewish fold, being subject to the divine law which had been entrusted to them: ‘made under the law". Pursuant to the rites of the Mosaic law He was taken to the temple and on the eighth day was circumcised "after the custom of the law", and was presented to the Lord "as it is written in the law of the Lord"; later a sacrifice was offered "according to that which is said in the law of the Lord" (2.22,24,27). He came, in grace, into that particular race in order that He might dwell with them representatively and thus give all the world hope.
- The object of His advent was "to redeem them that were under the law". This Anna understood and for Him gave thanks to God and spake of Him to "all them that looked for redemption in Israel". She knew He had come "to redeem". God had visited and "sent redemption to His people". (1.68).
The Gospel. Romans 10.12 summarises in significant words the gospel which Paul preached everywhere, to the Jew first and to the Gentile. God, having made of one blood all the nations of the earth, all like the first man were sinners. Notwithstanding, salvation was available to all if each appealed to the Lord therefor. Restricted national privileges no longer obtain. All barriers are removed. Divine sovereignty discussed by Paul in Rom. 9 does not annul man’s responsibility implied in chapter 10. The two principles co-operate together as Paul shows in chapter 11. Universal guilt is met by universal grace.
This Luke illustrates. He records the visit of the Lord to the Nazareth synagogue where he reminded the people of the widow of Sarepta and Naaman the Syrian. Israel’s famine would have been removed earlier had the nation returned to Jehovah, but the whole northern kingdom was steeped in idolatry. No leper in Israel received cleansing in those apostate times: Jehovah had to demonstrate His presence in a Gentile leper. Not even one widow in Israel was willing to open her home to the prophet of Jehovah, but as the result of her welcoming Elijah a Sidonian widow had enough while famine was all around. Thus, when Israel refused Him, His heart of grace and arm of power went out in mercy to the Gentile and the same Lord of All was rich unto all that call upon Him whether it were man or woman, starving or diseased, Sidonian or Syrian.
Forgiveness. Paul regards redemption and forgiveness as parallel (Eph. 1.7). Redemption is freedom from the bondage of sin: forgiveness is freedom from its guilt. Paul taught the final removal of every sin thereby endorsing the words: "Their sins and iniquities will I remember no more". He was himself a forgiven sinner and wrote from experience as well as revelation on this matter.
Luke dilates upon this. He tells of the woman, who was a sinner, and who came into the house of Simon the leper. To Simon she seemed a five hundred pence debtor: himself he regarded as only a fifty pence debtor, if indeed so much. Certainly she was ten times as bad as he. Both, however, were bankrupt and God was willing to cancel the debt of each. The Lord assured the woman that in her case her sins, which admittedly were many, were all forgiven: the whole debt had been cancelled: she could go in peace. Simon, too, might have done likewise if only he would acknowledge his bankruptcy.
This Paul teaches. He tells the Galatians that Christ paid the price in order that the guilty might be redeemed from the curse imposed by the breach of the law and be put judicially into a position of unassailable righteousness. For the repentant bankrupt sinner the Sinless Saviour has paid the debt and his indebtedness is "remitted".
Acceptance. Read Eph. 1.6. The word "accepted" used here denotes that the beauty of the Lord has been put upon the believer. He is ‘graced’ in the Beloved. Being ‘in Christ’ God sees no spot in him: he is ‘all fair’. Having on the wedding garment he is fit for the King’s presence. Not that God conceals imperfections by a covering. "If any man be in Christ Jesus there is a new creation: old things have passed away: all things have become new". God never patches up with new cloth an old garment, nor does He put new wine into old wine skins: He starts completely de novo.
The doctrine of acceptance is nowhere better illustrated than in the parable of the prodigal son. Visualize him, having come to himself, returning to his father. When yet a great way off the father, whose heart had longed for his return ever since he left, saw him, ran, fell on his neck and kissed him. The father had determined that the kitchen was no place for his son, but the son knew that the rags were not suitable for his father’s home. Yet the father’s love had gone out to the prodigal in his rags and sin. It was a love not engendered by the prodigal’s repentance but was native to the father’s heart. It could not show itself, however, while the prodigal remained at a distance but, immediately he confessed, the father is free to do all his heart yearns for. In quick succession follow the ring, shoes, best robe and fatted calf. The old things were discarded and the erstwhile prodigal is accepted in the Father’s home in all the beauty that he had put upon him.
Propitiation and Justification. Paul, in Rom. 3.21-26, expounds the doctrine of justification. He affirms that the Lord Jesus is the antitype of the ancient mercyseat (the propitiatory, as it was called) and that He by the shedding of His blood, was also the propitiatory offering. The blood shed and sprinkled on and before the mercyseat gives God a righteous ground on which to justify the ungodly, freely, by His grace. This, Paul says, is available to all though the benefits are only conferred upon those who believe.
Luke gives an apt illustration of this in chapter 18.
The Publican could not lift up his eyes to heaven: he dare not face God. He stood afar off: he dare not draw near to God. He smote on his breast for he knew that the real trouble was in his heart. He cried: "God be propitious to me the sinner", whereby he pleaded the benefits of the sacrifice and merits of the blood which God had ordained for the guilty. The Pharisee, on the other hand, pleaded his own worth but received no justification: the publican pleaded the blood and the Lord certified that he went down to his house justified.
It is possible for God righteously to dispense mercy to the guilty because in Christ, a valid substitute has been found by Whom the claims of divine justice have been met. All may follow the procedure of the publican with like results. Doubtless he did not enter fully into the implication of the words he used: nor is it likely that he could give an ordered exposition of the doctrine of propitiation and substitution, but God knew his heart, and he knew himself: that was enough.
Intermediate State. Paul, in Phil. 1.23; 2 Tim. 4.6-8; 2 Cor. 5.1-9; and 2 Thess. 1.9, sets out his doctrine in regard to the intermediate state after death. For the believer death is an immediate translation from earth to heaven, into the Lord’s presence. There is no hint of a period of unconsciousness or sleep. Bliss is enjoyed immediately. Happy as it is to serve the Lord here, it is far better to be with Him there.
Yet for the unbeliever it is otherwise. He will suffer everlasting destruction (not annihilation but the utter and irremediable ruin of his well-being) from the presence of the Lord. His doom will then be cast: it cannot be altered.
Of this Luke, Paul’s companion, writes. Let the reader ponder Luke 16.19-31. Eternal torment, immediate and unalterable, befalls the unbeliever at death. This has been denied and the meaning of the Lord’s words has been distorted: no wonder. Unbelievers resent it and the devil who is the relentless enemy of Christ, seeks to blind men’s minds to it.
On the other hand, Luke tells of the dying robber to whom the Lord said: ‘Today thou shalt be with me in Paradise.’ Undeserving and active sinner almost to the last, though he repented at a later than the eleventh hour, he is assured by the Lord that he need not wait for the kingdom, but that immediately death ensued, he would be with Him in Paradise: he would depart to be with Christ which, for him certainly, was far, far better.
Thus Paul and Luke teach harmoniously, the one theologically and the other illustratively: the one characterized by mullum in parvo: the other writing at length to simplify it.
The Judgment Seat. Paul’s teaching on this subject is found in Rom. 14.10-12; 2 Cor. 5.10; 1 Cor. 3.10-15.
Both Paul and Luke ever kept before them "the day" when they would each appear at the judgment seat and be examined in respect of the motive and method of his life’s work. There was the possibility of all being consumed and lost, save the soul. There was, on the other hand, the possibility of making something for the Lord now and receiving something from Him in return later.
Of this Luke speaks when he records the parable of the pounds entrusted by the nobleman to his servants. During the time of his absence it was the responsibility of all to trade with the pound and to occupy till his return. Idleness and love of ease were to be eschewed: reward would be commensurate with diligence. The napkin, provided for the use of the worker, should not be misused to conceal the trust. All would inevitably be revealed later. On his return he would reckon with his servants and any such indolence would involve loss. Then the veneer of any hypocrisy would be removed and the servants would be "manifested" in true colours. None would be exempt from this for "each" of the ten must appear at the Bema. Then the sum total of life’s work would be computed and everything done would contribute in arriving at the final assessment. The Lord would pay wages to His servants according to the work done. That which looms large in the sight of men may prove to be combustible in the day of testing, and vice versa. Quality will then count.
His awareness of this explains Paul’s in deviating and constant devotion to his Lord and ministry. This left Luke to throw his lot in with that noble pioneer missionary. This awareness lies at the back of their journeys, hazards, preaching and writing. They themselves had yet to be examined: they must work and do all possible seeing they had but one pound—but one life—and this must be used to the gain of their common Lord.
"THE PROPHECY OF NAHUM"
by E. R. Bower.
2 — CHAPTER ONE
(a) A psalm. The wrath of God. Nineveh’s doom foretold. Vv.1-8.
"God is jealous, and the Lord (Jehovah) revengeth . .." (v.2). In this ‘introduction’ to his pronouncement of coming judgment, Nahum speaks of the character of God relative to His people. Jehovah is a possessive God, and he who touches Israel touches the apple of His eye (Deut. 32.10; Ps. 17.8; Zech. 2.8). The adversaries of His people are His adversaries (Deut. 4.24; 5.9; Ex. 34.15). God, as Nahum portrays Him, may appear to some as of a different character to that by which He is generally known, i.e. a God who is love personified; a long-suffering God (Num. 14.18); slow to anger (v.3); showing mercy to those "who love Me and keep my commandments." (Ex. 20.5; 34.6,7; 34.14; Deut. 4.24; 5.9). But because He is jealous for His people, His wrath must go out against those enemies of His people who set themselves against the Lord and His anointed. Slow to anger, but great in power. Nineveh may not have known the Ten Commandments given at Sinai (was this in the poet’s thoughts (vv.5—7)?; but they had known the mercy of God and were without excuse (Rom. 1.18—32; 2.1—16). The preaching of Jonah was long forgotten, they had taken advantage of the mercy of God (as does a present generation); the greatness of His power was no longer recognized. A previous generation had repented at the preaching of Jonah and would, in the day of judgment, stand up as witness against "an evil and adulterous generation". (Matt. 12.38—41). God does not forget, neither will He acquit the wicked, (v.3). Sentence has been passed; "it has been decreed" (2.7. some versions).
The first eight verses are an acrostic psalm in which, in common with other psalmists, Nahum speaks of the wonders of God in nature (perhaps with the wonders of the Exodus and the wilderness journey in mind). What a beautiful expression, "The clouds are the dust of His feet (v.3)! To Nineveh the message was, "God is jealous … who can stand before His indignation?". Even those who think themselves secure! The anger of Jehovah is a fearsome thing, but in His character He is "good, and a stronghold in the day of trouble" (2 Kings 19 again). Jerusalem and Judah (and Nineveh) had proved this for themselves, BUT …" Judgment was to be no longer delayed; an overwhelming flood would be the instrument in the hands of God for making an utter end of the great city. An historical note — Nineveh was besieged over a period of nearly three years by the Mede, Cyxares, aided by Nebuchadnezzar, but to little avail until the river Tigris upon which the city stood, swollen by heavy rains washed away a large part of the fountains of the walls and of the fortifications. The king of Assyria (a great grandson of Sennacherib) saw this as fulfilling an ancient oracle and set fire to his citadel and, with his concubines and eunuchs, perished in the flames. The enemy entered unapposed. Some see v.8. of this passage as foretelling by what means the city fell.
(b) Various messages.
(i) To Nineveh. Vv.9—12a.
V.6 may remind us of Ps. 1.5, "The ungodly shall not stand in the judgment", and v.9 reminds us of Ps. 2.1, "Why do the nations rage, and the people imagine a vain thing?" Affliction (or ‘trouble’ as v.7) will be given no opportunity to come a second time against Judah (or perhaps a reference back to v.7 and Nineveh’s own day of trouble — "Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown" Jon. 3.4.). Nineveh would not ever go against Judah again. The metaphor of the thorns in v. 10 is often used in Scripture (2 Sam. 23.6; Pss. 58.9; Lk. 8.12; Ecc. 7.6; etc.) and the picture here seems to be of being enclosed within a hedge of thorns — a ‘boma’ — set up to protect those inside. The Ninevites within their mighty walls thought themselves secure, but no more secure than a thorn hedge which has been set on fire. Whilst giving themselves to carousel, their security was washed away, and they were destroyed. And history was to repeat itself at Babylon (Dan. 5) and we may think also of Ben-hadad (1 Kin. 20).
The "counsellor of Belial" (v. 11) who imagined evil against the Lord was, as mentioned above, probably Sennacherib who with superior forces went up against Jerusalem but was ‘shorn’ of 185,000 men in one night by the Angel of Jehovah, and he was to "pass away" (v. 12a).
(ii) To Judah. Vv. 12b—13.
"Though I have afflicted thee, I will afflict thee no more" — is this a promise for the then immediate future, or a promise for the last days? Judah and Jerusalem were to suffer further affliction from Babylon and from Rome, and they will yet be afflicted or disciplined, so is Nahum looking far beyond the impending overthrow of Assyria? "His" yoke — the yoke of the "Assyrian" — was to be removed from them. When? (iii) To the evil counsellor. Vv. 14.
A personal message to Sennacherib. The Assyrian royal line is to end; the gods of Assyria will be destroyed. The temple of their gods will be the scene of the removal of both king and gods. "I will make it (the temple) thy grave, for thou art worthless". The edict had gone out. We may note that these events form the historical interlude in the prophecy of Isaiah (chs. 36—39). (iv) To Judah. Vv. 15.
Some versions re-arrange the closing verses of chapter 1 and the opening verses of chapter 2, but the LXX is as the A.V. Who quotes who is immaterial. See Is. 52.7. Judah, safe from Assyrian invasion may now keep her feasts and pay her vows, for Belial will no more pass through. He is finished. Again, is this the then present or the yet future?
The Millennium — (4)
by J. E. TODD
The announcement of the angel before the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ makes it clear that He is the king of David’s line who is to rule for ever over Israel. ‘He shall be called great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto Him the throne of his father David: and He shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of His kingdom there shall be no end’ (Luke 1.32—33). The wise men journeyed from the east to find this king, ‘Saying, Where is He that is born King of the Jews?’ (Matt. 2.2). His disciples acknowledged the Lord Jesus as such in the words of Nathanael, ‘Thou art the King of Israel’ (John 1.49). The Lord made public claim to this title by enacting the prophecy of Zechariah by riding into Jerusalem on a colt (Matt. 21.1—11). ‘Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: He is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass’ (Zech. 9.9). The crowds shouted in reply to his claim, ‘Hosanna to the Son of David’ (Matt. 21.9); to be echoed by the children in the Temple, ‘Hosanna to the Son of David’ (verse 15). The chief priests and scribes condemned such adoration, but the Lord replied ‘Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise’ (verse 16, quoting Psalm 8.2). Even his enemies acknowledged that he made such a claim by their mockings as the Lord Jesus Christ hung upon the cross. These included Pilate (John 19.1—22) as well as the Jewish leaders (Matt. 27.32—43). Then said the chief priests of the Jews to Pilate, Write not, The King of the Jews; but that He said, I am King of the Jews. Pilate answered, What I have written I have written’ (John 19.21—22).
The Lord Jesus Christ announced in His teaching that He would return to this earth as the Son of man, the Person spoken of by Daniel as God’s appointed ruler over the nations. ‘Behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought Him near before Him. And there was given Him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages, should serve Him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom that which shall not be destroyed’ (Dan. 7.13—14). The Lord referred to this often in His parables as recorded in Matthew’s gospel. The parable of the householder (24.42—44), ‘Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh’ (verse 44). The parable of the wise and wicked servants (24.45—51), ‘The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of (verse 50). The parable of the ten virgins (25.1—13), "Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh’ (verse 13). The parable of the talents (25.14—30), ‘After a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them’ (verse 19). The parable of the sheep and goats (25.31—46), When the Son of man shall come in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then shall He sit upon the throne of His glory’ (verse 31). But first the Son of man must be crucified, ‘When Jesus had finished all these sayings, He said unto his disciples, … the Son of man is betrayed to be crucified’ (26.1—2).
Not only in His parables but also in His plain teaching the Lord referred to His second coming as the Son of man. ‘For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be’. (Matt. 24.27, see also Mark 13.26—27 and Luke 21.27).
It is not always appreciated that it was the Lord’s open and public claim to be the Son of man of Daniel’s prophecy which was the immediate cause of His crucifixion. As described in Matthew 26.57—66 the Jewish council had great difficulty in finding two false witnesses to agree in condemning the Lord. Placed under oath the Lord was required to answer if He was or was not the Messiah. He replied, ‘Thou hast said; nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven’ (verse 64). All the court recognised this as a quotation from Daniel the prophet. Believing His claim to be the Son of man to be false, they condemned Him to death for blasphemy.
The apostle John looked forward to the day of His appearing when he would take up His supreme earthly authority as the Son of man. ‘The kingdoms of the world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of His Christ’ (Rev. 11.15, see also 19.11 to 20.6).
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
- The Christian finds safety—not in the absence of danger, but in the Presence of God.
- A man who uses good judgement is like a pin—his head keeps him from going too far.
- When your knees knock, kneel on them.
- When right you can afford to keep your temper—when wrong you can’t afford to lose it.
—Anthony Orsini, Florida, USA.
DOORS IN THE REVELATION (No. 2)
by B. Currie, (Belfast)
In the previous issue we noted that John referred to three doors. These were:—
- — 3.8, A door opened OUT FOR SERVICE.
- — 3.20, A door opened IN FOR COMMUNION.
- — 4.1, A door opened UP FOR RAPTURE.
The first of these has already been considered and we now shall look at the remaining two.
2. A DOOR OPENED IN FOR COMMUNION.
This verse is contained within the message to the church in Laodecia, which was materially very rich but spiritually very poor, Rev. 3.17. Their state is all the more alarming when we learn that they never appreciated their position before the Lord. Like Samson in the Old Testament they knew not that the Lord had departed and they were spiritually, as he was physically, "wretched and miserable, and poor, and blind and naked", Judges 16.20,21.
Even in the midst of corporate failure the Lord still encourages individual fellowship and so He appeals to "any man". He knocks through His word and awaits the response of the Christian to open. It is our responsibility to open since this door cannot be opened from the outside; communion cannot be forced. Yet it ought to be a great encouragement to all to know that even in the midst of general collective departure there is a standing Lord desiring communion if we hear and open. An interesting Old Testament parallel and illustration is found in the Song of Solomon 5.2—6.
It is the cause of great concern to many spiritual saints as to how long such a condition can continue. It is obvious that this must be a temporary state because if there is not a collective, repentant return to the Lord the assembly must cease in its character Godward since the Lord continues to be outside and is no longer in the midst. I say the assembly in its Godward character since these are golden lampstands and are not viewed so much in their testimony
manward. Many companies continue in a spirit of excitement, entertainment and formalism but it is clear to the spiritual that the Lord has long since departed. The parallel with Judiasm is obvious. The Lord personally left Judiasm in Matt. 23.38—24.1 but this was not publicly manifested until the veil was rent Matt. 27.51, and it was openly demonstrated that the Shekinah presence had departed. However it is good to know that until conditions in the assembly become irreversible the individual can enjoy the sweetness of fellowship with Himself, just by opening the door.
3. A DOOR OPENED UP FOR RAPTURE.
After chapter three the church is not in view again until chapter nineteen when she comes forth as a wife with the King when the tribulation is over. This prompts the questions — if the church comes out of heaven how and when did she get there? The answers come in 4.1 where what happened to John is typical of what will happen to the church. Not that John is typical of the church since she is represented in the chapter by the four and twenty elders and we cannot have two different pictures of the same company within the compass of a few verses. The immediate and sudden rapture of John to heaven is a clear picture of the immediate and sudden rapture of the church.
Since the church as seen in the four and twenty elders are seated, clothed and crowned in chapter four and the tribulation does not begin until the seals are opened in chapter six, this gives clear, unambiguous and acceptable proof that the church will not pass through the tribulation.
What a hope is ours! Sudden glory at any moment! Note that it is all the Lord’s doing in 4.1. John never opened the door, he never took the initiative to go up, he was passive and the Lord was active, nor was he called up because of his faithfulness. It shall be the same when we are called and caught away to glory. "The Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and the trump of God", 1 Thess. 4.16. We all shall be raptured, reunited with those who have gone before, "and so shall we ever be with the Lord". No wonder the breathing of our hearts is "even so come Lord Jesus".
In summary then, we learn from these doors that we should serve Him in a scriptural way, in communion with Himself until He comes again to take from the world His own blood bought people.
by Charles Stanley
After the death of Jacob we find the brethren of Joseph in great distress, Gen. 50.15—21. The remembrance of their past conduct might well, indeed, be overwhelming, for they understood not the grace in Joseph. They thought of their sin, but entirely lost sight of the forgiveness and grace of Joseph; and they said that Joseph would certainly requite them "all the evil which we did unto him". Surely they deserved all this. There was no excuse for their sin. It had been terrible. They had as good as killed their brother by casting him into that pit. There was no pity in their hearts when they took him out of that pit, and sold him into slavery, though they saw the anguish of his soul: he besought them, and they would not hear. (Gen. 40.11—21).
But had not their sin been brought to their consciences? Yes, in the very presence of Joseph, though they knew him not. He was dealing with them; he understood their thoughts and their words. Judah had said, "What shall we say unto my lord? What shall we speak? Or how shall we clear ourselves? God hath found out the iniquity of thy servants". It is an awful moment, thus to be brought into the presence of God, and all laid bare!
"Then Joseph could not refrain himself before all them that stood before him; and he cried, Cause every man to go out from me. And there stood no man with him while Joseph made himself known unto his brethren". Oh, what grace! "And he wept aloud". He said, "I am Joseph: doth my father yet live? And his brethren could not answer him, for they were troubled at his presence". It was not now that they prayed to be forgiven, but "Joseph said unto his brethren, Come near to me, I pray you. And they came near. And he said, I am Joseph, your brother, whom ye sold into Egypt". Then did he make known unto their astonished ears the purpose of God, in their salvation from famine. "Moreover, he kissed all his brethren, and wept upon them: and after that his brethren talked with him".
What a life picture of the wondrous ways of God in grace! The Spirit of God uses various means to bring sin so home to the conscience that there is no escape. But when sin is not only felt, but Confessed to God, what a revelation in Christ, the true Joseph! Our sins are felt to be loathsome, and we abhor ourselves in His holy presence. It is He who is dealing with our souls. We own all to Him; and He says, Yes, it was for those very sins I sent my beloved Son to be the propitiation. "Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins". Thus the Antitype goes infinitely beyond the touching type of Joseph.
There was not, however, one thing lacking to shew and prove the forgiveness of Joseph; yet, after years of kindness on his part, they feared the reality of his forgiveness. How was this? No doubt the better they knew their relationship to Joseph, and all his righteous conduct, the baser would their own appear, but, as we have said, they could not fathom the grace in Joseph’s heart. And is it not so with those who are brought to know their relationship with the risen Jesus? The more we know Him, while we abhor the flesh and all its sad fruits, the more we rest in His grace.
If they looked at their own past conduct, they might give way to gloomy unbelief, until they sank in despair. If they looked at his past conduct and love to them, how could they have a doubt? Past failure often gives Satan a great handle, and he will ever use it, if possible, to drive the child of God to despair. By this mark we may always know it is his work. The Holy Spirit may have to humble us, and deepen in us a sense of what sin is, and the need of greater watchfulness and dependence; but then He will also deepen in our souls a blessed sense of that mercy which endureth for ever. "Let thy mercies come also unto me, O Lord; even thy salvation, according to thy word. So shall I have wherewith to answer him that reproacheth me; for I trust in thy word". At such a time it is of all importance to be able to say, "The Lord is on my side, I will not fear".
With these thoughts, let us look at our deeply interesting scripture. No doubt the brethren of Joseph deserved punishment. And if God dealt with us in judgment, what do we deserve? They had thought of this, and reasoned from it, until doubt and unbelief had got a strong hold upon them; but they did not despair. There was the lingering sense of his grace: they went to Joseph, whereas despair would have led them to depart from him. It is so with God : the lingering sense of His grace draws us near to Him. Despair would drive the soul to utter darkness.
They "said unto Joseph, Forgive, I pray thee, now, the trespass of thy brethren, and their sin". It was terrible to have sinned as the brethren of Joseph. It is this that gives sin its deep aggravation, to have sinned as the brethren of the risen Jesus. And mark, it is much easier to pray for the forgiveness of sins, than to believe in the forgiveness of sins. Many there are who continue for years to pray for forgiveness of sins, just like the brethren of Joseph, who never believe their sins are eternally forgiven.
This, then, was their position: long ago their sin had been brought home to them; they had stood self-condemned before Joseph. He had fully revealed his grace to them, and given to each the kiss of forgiveness. But little understanding the grace in Joseph’s heart, they now pray for forgiveness. Now look at Joseph; does this please him? "Joseph wept when they spake unto him". What a picture of Jesus! What a touching scene! How deeply his heart felt their unbelief! How could they doubt his love? No doubt God greatly overrules—yea, uses this humiliation for blessing to His children. "And his brethren also went, and fell down before his face". They also did what the prodigal thought of doing. "And they said, Behold, we be thy servants". Thus the poor unbelieving heart is ever ready to take the place of serving, in order to be deserving.
Surely it is far better to be thus humbled and broken in the presence of our Joseph, than to be indifferent about sins. But, oh, how sweet to a crushed, broken spirit are those words, "Fear not". And again, "Now, therefore, fear ye not: I will nourish you and your little ones. And he comforted them, and spake kindly unto them:" or, as in the margin, "spake to their hearts". Is not this what our Jesus does? Full well does He know that even His own words would fail at such a time to comfort, unless applied by the Spirit to our hearts. Let us not, however, forget the grief it gave Joseph for his brethren to doubt his forgiving love.
With our eyes we do not see our Jesus weep; we do not thus, as they, see the pain—if we may use such a word—it gives to doubt His love; but do we not hear Him say, "Why are ye troubled; and why do thoughts arise in your hearts? Behold my hands and feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones as ye see me have". They had just heard, for the first time in resurrection, those blessed words, "Peace unto you". Yes, words spoken on the first day of the new creation. Now why were they troubled? What thoughts would arise, if they looked back only for one short week? Oh, what a week!—never such events had taken place, or can take place in one short week.
They were now the brethren of the risen Jesus. He had sent them the message to assure them of this. They never had been, and never could be, in that relationship until He had died, and risen again. (John 12.24). They had not yet grasped, or understood, this marvellous grace. And as Joseph wept, so the risen Jesus could not bear to see them doubt His love.
If they thought what they had done, even in those few past days, what cause for trouble in His presence! If they thought what He had done, what cause for eternal joy! Yes, how much depends on whether we are occupied with ourselves, or with Him! What had they done? All had forsaken Him; one had denied Him in the presence of His enemies. All had loved Him, and did love Him; but, oh, how weak is the flesh in the hour of temptation! And more, they had known His love, and yet they had so sadly failed to stand by Him. Had He not deeply felt all this? Yes, He says, "I looked on my right hand, and beheld, but there was no man that would know me: refuge failed me; no man cared for my soul". (Ps. 142.4). Yes, if they looked at their own conduct, they could only feel troubled in His presence. But if they looked at what He had done, had He not spoken to their hearts? Yes, after warning the boldest of his fall, before it came, in infinite grace, He turned to His disciples, and said, "Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me". He was going away, no more to be seen with them in the flesh, but He speaks to their hearts, to trust Him even as God, whom they did not see. Yes, He spake to the heart. He said again, "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid". Did He not then go up to the cross, and accomplish their and our eternal redemption? Did He not bear their and our sins in His own body on that cross? Had not those words been heard, "It is finished"? Had He not risen from the dead, Head of the new creation, the first-born from among the dead? Had He not sent the joyful message, that they were now His brethren—that they stood in the same relationship to God the Father in which He stood, alive from the dead? Yes, He had said to Mary, "Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father; but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God". Old things had passed away, all things had become new, and all of God. As yet they understood it not, and were therefore troubled when He stood in their midst, and said, "Peace unto you". If Joseph wept, Jesus said, Why are ye troubled? Did He not speak unto their hearts? Yes, He says, "and why do thoughts arise in your hearts"? Had He not borne their sins, to be remembered against them no more? He shewed them His hands and His feet.
It might be asked, But how could they know, and how can we know, that all that would otherwise give trouble is gone for ever? Surely His own word, spoken to the heart, is enough: Peace be unto you. Satan and memory would bring up the past. The Lord Jesus says, "PEACE", and He had made it by the blood of the cross. Joseph had not done this for his brethren. Jesus has for His. Peace and forgiveness is now proclaimed through Him; and as it was with Joseph’s brethren, it is much easier to pray for forgiveness of sins, than to believe the forgiveness proclaimed. "To Him give all the prophets witness, that, through His name, whosoever believeth in Him shall receive remission of sins". "Through this man is preached the forgiveness of sins: and by Him all that believe are justified from all things". It does not say, Whosoever continues praying for forgiveness of sins shall at some future time be forgiven, but, all that believe are justified. And if praying for forgiveness, long after they were forgiven, made Joseph weep, may we never grieve the heart of the Lord Jesus by a single doubt! God grant that we may hear the Lord Jesus speak our hearts in these scriptures. It was wondrous grace in Joseph, but have we less in Jesus? Far be the thought. All the types of the Old Testament were but figures, or pictures, but in our Lord Jesus we have the infinite fulness—God manifest. Ever, then, may these words abide in our hearts—"Peace be unto you".
"HAVE FAITH IN GOD"
How prone we are, in moments of pressure and difficulty, to turn the eye to some creature resource! Our hearts are full of creature confidence, human hopes, and earthly expectations. We know comparatively little of the deep blessedness of looking simply to God. We are ready to look anywhere and everywhere rather than unto Him. We run to any broken cistern, and lean on any broken reed, although we have an exhaustless Fountain and the Rock of ages ever near.
And yet we have proved, times without number, that "creature streams are dry". Man is sure to disappoint us when we look to him. "Cease ye from man whose breath is in his nostrils; for wherein is he to be accounted of?" And again, "Cursed is the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the Lord. For he shall be like the heath in the desert, and shall not see when good cometh; but shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, in a salt land, and not inhabited". Isaiah 17.
Such is the sad result of leaning upon the creature—barrenness, desolation, disappointment. Like the heath in the desert No refreshing showers—no dew from heaven—no good—nothing but drought and sterility. How can it be otherwise, when the heart is turned away from the Lord, the only source of blessing? It lies not within the range of the creature to satisfy the heart. God alone can do this. He can meet our every need, and satisfy our every desire. He never fails a trusting heart.
But He must be trusted, in reality. "What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say" he trusts God, if he does not really do so? A sham faith will not do. It will not do to trust in word, neither in tongue. It must be in deed and in truth. Of what use is a faith with one eye on the Creator, and another on the creature? Can God and the creature occupy the same platform? Impossible. It must be God or—what? The creature, and the curse that ever follows creature-confidence.
Mark the contrast "Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is. For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit".
How blessed! How bright! How beautiful! Who would not put his trust in such a God? How delightful to find oneself wholly and absolutely cast upon Him! To be shut up to Him. To have Him filling the entire range of the soul’s vision. To find all our springs in Him. To be able to say, "My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from him. He only is my rock and my salvation; he is my defence; I shall not be moved".
Note the little word, "only". It is very searching. It will not do to say we are trusting in God, while the eye is all the while askance upon the creature. It is much to be feared that we frequently talk about looking to the Lord, while, in reality, we are expecting our fellow-man to help us. "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it? I the Lord search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings".
How needful to have the heart’s deepest motive springs judged in the presence of God! We are so apt to deceive ourselves by the use of certain phrases which, so far as we are concerned, have no force, no value, no truth, whatever. The language of faith is on our lips, but the heart is full of creature confidence. We talk to men about our faith in God, in order that they may help us out of our difficulties.
Let us be honest. Let us walk in the clear light of God’s presence, where everything is seen as it really is. Let us not rob God of His glory, and our own souls of abundant blessing, by an empty profession of dependence upon Him, while the heart is secretly going out after some creature stream. Let us not miss the deep joy, peace, and blessing, the strength, stability, and victory, that faith ever finds in the living God, in the living Christ of God, and in the living word of God. Oh! let us "have faith in God".
MY CONVERSION AND CALL (4)
by J. E. Fairfield (Venezuela)
(a) MY CONVERSION
Some time ago I was in an office and the man there was noting some of my personal details. "Where were you born?" he asked, "Lurgan", I replied, "in fact I was born twice in Lurgan". With surprise he said "Boy, that’s some going!" Well it was some going. I am thankful to the Lord that in the very town where I was born I also was saved in 1921.
I was born into a family the eldest of six children and we were taught to go to church, be upright, honest and God-fearing but I could not say that my parents were saved. I knew that "Christ died for our sins" but never really understood my own personal need as a sinner.
As a child I was taken to the Parish Church where I was christened, named and my godparents accepted responsibility for me until I was old enough to be responsible for myself. Growing up I really tried to do my best. I thought I was better than the other boys because I did not play football with them on a Sunday. However deep down I knew that there was something else necessary — something I did not possess.
One morning our day school teacher awoke and asked her husband for a drink of water. When he returned with the water he found her dead. The thought came to me, just as a child, "I wonder where I would be if that had been me?"
My mother had put a picture in the bedroom of the broad and narrow ways. I wondered how anybody could go up the narrow road since it went so very high. However I was impressed with the door and I understood that if I wanted to go the narrow way up to Heaven I had to go through that door.
I heard a group of men preaching in the open air. One of them said "Likely you say your prayers before you go to bed". In my simple way I thought "I do". I had been taught to say,
- "Now I lay me down to sleep
- I pray the Lord my soul to keep,
- And if I die before I wake
- I pray the Lord my soul to take".
In the morning I would recite another,
- "Now I rise and see the light
- I pray the Lord to lead me right,
- In all I do and think and say
- I pray the Lord to guide my way".
After each we would repeat "Our Father which art in heaven" . . . etc. and pray for the family. "Well", the man preaching said, "add this to your prayer — Lord show me myself — and when the Lord answers that prayer then pray — Lord show me Thyself". I took those two phrases and added them to my prayers morning and evening.
At the age of sixteen years I was confirmed by the bishop. He laid his hands upon my head and made me to understand that I was now responsible for myself and my godparents were released from their vows. He also taught me that I had become a member of the body of Christ and I received a little card permitting me to take communion. I went home very happy and announced to my mother that the next Sunday I would be taking holy communion. She refused me permission and when pressed for a reason she said, "Holy communion is for holy people and you’re not holy". That impressed me and made me think a lot.
I remember leaving church after confirmation with a friend of mine called Davy. When we came out the first thing he did was light a cigarette while still in the church grounds. — I nearly fainted. I tried to talk but I could not and he said, "What’s the matter with you?" I said, "Davy, are you not afraid?" "Oh", he said, "I know what’s wrong with you, you think you’re better than I am". That is just what I did think. "Well", he said, "I want to tell you there’s not a bit of difference, you’re just as bad as I am". That was a sermon to me. With all my religion I was just as bad as Davy with cigarettes and matches in his pocket while being confirmed and smoking in the church grounds. I learned "there is no difference".
On another occasion my father came home from work and with tears running down his face he told my mother that two of his workmates had been converted. After that my father died very suddenly. The.youngest of our family was born some months after he died.
A little group, of Christians known as "Pentecostal" had come to Lurgan early in 1920 and erected a portable hall on the property belonging to my boss. Seven of us young lads chummed together including the boss’s son. He asked us all to go to the portable hall on a Sunday night and we all went. I do not remember much of the preaching but I remember a text on the wall "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved". I went home and added that verse to my prayers but still was not saved and could not get peace. By the end of the week I could not sleep and was afraid of Hell. I said to the Lord, "If I’m spared to Sunday night this matter will have to be settled".
I went to the meeting again on the second Sunday of 1921. The preacher told a story about a man who had charge of a drawbridge over which trains passed and it was his responsibility to lift the bridge open to allow ships to pass up and down the canal. One day he was given instructions not to lift the bridge because a special train was to pass over during the day. During the day a ship came with a load of grain which had to be delivered that day. The grain merchant prevailed upon the bridge keeper to let him and his cargo through and finally be bribed him. The bridge keeper thought he had plenty of time to raise and lower the bridge before the train would come. He opened the bridge, the ship went through and as he was about to lower it he heard the whistle of the train in the distance. He froze, lost his reason and was unable to close the bridge. There was a terrible accident and the bridge keeper spent the rest of his life in a padded cell in an asylum and his wail night and day was "Oh! if only I had. Oh! if only I had". I thought that is what my cry will be for eternity "Oh! if only I had".
The meeting closed and the people went out. My six companions hurried outside and waited for me under some trees. I wanted to go and, yet, I wanted to stay — I cannot explain it. However I remained and the preacher came to where I stood and he said "Are you saved?" I burst out weeping and said, "No Sir, I’m not saved". "Well", he said, "would you like to be saved?" I replied "I would love to be saved". Then he said "would you like to be saved tonight?" That brought me to a standstill, I was leaving it off night after night and the words of that dear man reached me. As I listened to him I could hear the boys outside saying "Ned’s caught!" I was not caught. Nobody had tried to trap me but when I heard their words I felt like running. Immediately the thought came to me — "those boys may carry your coffin to the graveyard but remember you’ll meet God alone". I said to myself "I don’t care what they say I’m going to get salvation tonight". Just then the preacher said to me "could you not receive the Lord Jesus as your Saviour?" I had tried to believe — I had always believed — but when he asked me to receive I just said to myself at that instant "I will". I cannot explain anymore than that and I am not going to try. The man sat beside me and read the Scripture and prayed and asked me again "could you not accept Christ?" I said, "Mister when you were talking to me at that door over there I accepted Christ". I went home and told my mother that I was converted and she was really glad to hear of it, even though she herself was still unsaved.
The next morning was Monday. When I awoke to the awful reality that I had to face the workmates. I thought I would keep quiet and just let them notice the change. I was working at the bench when I became aware that nobody else in the workshop was working. I could feel everyone was looking at me, I was like a magnet for all eyes. I raised my head and sure enough they were all watching me. One of them beckoned me over. He said, "Will you answer me a question?" "If I can", I replied, "Oh", he said, "you can, you can, will you?" "All right", I said, "I will". "Is it true you were converted last night?" Before I knew it the cat was out of the bag, I said "Yes Geordie, God saved me last night". He burst out laughing and gave me three months before I would be back with the boys. Well more than three months have passed since that wonderful night, long ago in 1921.
It was not until I was baptised and in assembly fellowship that I heard brethren telling the date of their conversion. I had to go and look up the date of the second Sunday — it was 9th January, 1921 when I got salvation.
(To be continued)
God’s Shut in Ones
- Not in the limelight which so many share,
- Tis pleasing to the flesh to labour there;
- The secret place is not so keenly sought
- Where God’s "Shut-ins" the choicest wreaths have wrought.
- The clamour for the platform oft bespeaks
- The glory that the occupier seeks;
- Enamored by a crowded atmosphere
- Who restless wait, and lend a boredomed ear.
- A lonely furrow many a pilgrim ploughs,
- In sweet content, adoringly he bows;
- An unseen fellowship to him is more
- Than all the honours earth could on him pour.
- "Shut-ins" learn God in no uncertain way,
- Lessons which doth the loneliness repay;
- It is the school that gives the flesh no place
- In sweet communion at the throne of grace.
- The school in which one touches unseen things,
- And counts but naught the mirth of earthly Kings;
- To have the heart find satisfaction sweet
- Sitting like Mary at the nailed pierced feet.
- Then happier far to be a "Shut-in one",
- In fellowship with God’s Beloved Son;
- Than being in the public eye
- Gaining the praise of men that soon must die.
- Soon shall the Shut-in ones unfettered be,
- And in the unsullied light of Heaven see
- Rich gems which nothing shall their lustre dim.
- Fruit of their toil In secret done for Him.
– R. Hull (Belfast)