by A. Leckie
A SHORT HISTORY OF THE TESTIMONY
by E. Robinson
THE LORD’S FLESH IN HEBREWS
by B. Currie
FOCUS ON FUNDAMENTALS
by J. B. HHewItt
by J. G. Good
WHERE I AM
by P. Squires
by E. R. Bower
by J. Campbell
HYMNS AND THEIR WRITERS
by J. Strahan
by ALBERT LECKIE, Airdrie
The word "sanctification" means "separation" or "being set apart."
The doctrine of sanctification is brought before the reader of God’s Word in four different ways.
There is a Sanctification that is Absolute and Complete and is true of every individual who has put their trust unreservedly in Christ Jesus for Salvation. This sanctification ‘ is not progressive and is equally as true of the believer as his Justification (1 Cor. 6.11), it is therefore unrelated to any moral or practical change in the life. The believer is sanctified by faith in Christ Jesus (Acts 26.18), Christ Jesus is made to him sanctification (1 Cor. 1.30) and he has this sanctification in Christ Jesus (1 Cor. 1.2). Without this sanctification there could be no vital relationship with a Holy God. This sanctification is connected in the first instance with the will of God (Heb. 10.10) and is procured for man in the Death of Christ (Heb. 10.10) commencing in man’s experience with the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit of God (1 Pet. 1.2).
There is also in God’s Word what might be termed Relative Sanctification. This is brought about without any act of the will or of faith and is not vital in its character. The ground around the bush that burned with fire was said by God to be "holy ground" (Exodus 3. 1-6). The Mountain of Transfiguration is called by the Apostle Peter "the Holy Mount" (2 Pet. 1.18). The gift when placed on the altar became sanctfied (Matt. 23.19). Our food is sanctified by the word of God and prayer (IT im. 4.4-5). The unbelieving marriage partner is sanctified by the believing marriage partner and children of believing parents are holy (1 Cor. 7.14). All of this relates to sanctification by association. The ground in Exodus 3 did not change materially nor did the Mount of Transfiguration—they were "Holy" because the Lord was there. The gift of Matthew 23.19 was sanctified by reason of its association with a sanctified vessel; food is sanctified by God’s word and His people’s prayers. Neither the gift nor the food undergo any material change. Thus it is with the unbelieving marriage partner and children of believers, they are relatively sanctified Without a vital work of grace in the heart. An appreciation of this teaching helps in an understanding of Hebrews 10.29 where the apostate is under consideration.
There is also in God’s word what might be termed Ecclesiastical Sanctification (2 Timothy 2.21). Few things can be more displeasing to God than the propagation of error under the name of Christ. Where this is irreversibly accepted, the plain duty of the child of God who desires to be a vessel unto honour, sanctified and meet for the Master’s use is to purge himself out from or away from those vessels to dishonour.* The honour of the Lord and one’s usefulness to Him demands this at all times and more especially in a day when unity at all costs is the cry of Christendom.
There is also throughout the word of God a clear call to Practical Sanctification. The experience of the New Birth and the possession of a New Nature must create within the child of God a deep desire for Pure, Holy, Sanctified living. The Apostle Peter has this to say "But as He which hath called you is Holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation" (1 Pet. 1.15). Space forbids a lengthy dissertation and I therefore confine my remarks to two utterances of God’s Son in His Prayer in John 17. In v. 17 of that chapter we hear the Son of God say "Sanctify them through Thy truth; Thy word is truth" and in v. 19 "And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth" —’R.V. "Sanctified in truth" i.e. "sanctified truly." Thus we have (1) santification by the word of Truth and (2) by the sanctifying of the Son of God.
(1) As one’s life is regulated by the Word of Truth one becomes set apart to God. This sounds simple as doctrine but is tremendously difficult in practice. A holy life comes not by knowing or preaching the Word of Truth but by allowing it to judge, cleanse, direct, wound, heal every thought, motive and deed. In Hebrews 4.12 we learn there are three things the Word of God is and three things it does, viz:—
- It is Living, Powerful and Sharp
- It Pierces, Divides asunder and Discerns.
By it the whole man is laid hare, soul, spirit and body (joints and marrow). This searching experience conies not by reading the Word of God for material to preach nor analysing it for purely Theological purposes but by permitting it to search and judge. Said the Son of God to his disciples in John 13.14, "If I then your Lord and Master (Teacher) have washed your feet." He thus altered the order of the disciples’ confession in verse 13 and with significance. Assuredly if there is to be any practical result from His teaching there must first of all be complete subjection to His Lordship. One must approach God’s word with an obedient and submissive will, "Lord what wilt Thou have me to do?
(2) The Son of God has sanctified Himself in heaven that His people might be truly sanctified on earth. He has set Himself apart in Heaven for us that we might find in Him an object to fill and thrill the mind and heart and when this is so we become truly sanctified, set apart to God here on the earth. Many of us fail in the matter of practical santification because we approach it the wrong way. The order in Practical Santification is SPIRIT, SOUL and BODY (1 Thess. 5.23). You will remember that sin entered BODY ("good for food") SOUL ("pleasant to the eyes") SPIRIT ("desired to make one wise") (Gen. 3.6). A lesson difficult to learn is that practical sanctification commences in the inner life, the thought life and reaches out to the workings of the body. Men and women’ might shut themselves in from the world behind large walls but this does not guarantee holy living; walls may shut in the body but cannot shut out the thoughts. Said the Son of God "For from within, out of the heart of man proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders," etc., "all these evil things come, from within and defile the man" (Mark 7.21,23). What then must be the exercise of the child of God? "If thine eye be single thy whole body shall be full of light" (Matt. 6.22). He must have a single eye for what is good and not evil.
- Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
- Look full on his wonderful face
- And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
- In the light of His glory and grace.
The Apostle Paul surely gives us the correct order in Colossians 3; in verses 1 and 2 "Seek those things which are above" and "set your affection (mind) on things above" then in correct sequence he says in verse 5 "Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, etc."
Brethren, what an object we have in Heaven for our hearts and minds! A man in Heaven sitting in a place where no angel ever sat, "But to which of the angels said He at any time, Sit on my right hand?" (Heb. 1.13). Occupying a position that belongs exclusively to Deity and sharing with the Father all the glory of Deity, John 17, yet still bearing in His blessed body the marks that tell me "I am His and He is mine."
The heart is satisfied, can ask no more; All thought of self is now for ever o’er; Christ, its unmingled object, fills the heart In blest adoring love—its endless part.
by EDWARD ROBINSON, Exmouth
In the preceding paper we considered an important change in the instruction contained in the life and death of Moses, the servant of God. His death is the termination of an era of teaching under the Mosaic law, and the introduction under Joshua of a departure in the ways of God. In effect we learn that the law was our schoolmaster unto Christ. Also we remember that, as Paul says, "All these things happened to them as types, and have been written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages are come.’ (1 Cor. 10.11. JND.). Afterwards, in the times of the Judges, Gideon comes to light and the chequered history of the people later when we read, ‘And there was no king in Israel; every man did what was right in his own eyes.’ (Judges 17.6). (Is there not in our day a lack of discipline and amongst the people of God failure to recognize the authority of the word of God?).
Saul, David and Solomon each reigned for a period of forty years—the time of testing in Scripture, Israel in the wilderness wandering; our Lord tempted of the devil forty days. In the testimony, David, a man after God’s own heart, is the central figure. (1 Sam. 13.14). But even Samuel is deceived by the natural comeliness of Saul, standing head and shoulders above his fellow men, a man after the flesh making much show, utterly untrustworthy, but anointed king whom Israel wickedly chose, in order to be in line with the nations around them. In mercy, God over-ruled, Saul is discredited and David anointed king. Saul has spared Agag, king of the Amalekites, a nation which is representative of what is of the flesh, a feature so subtle which in our day is the great enemy of all that is of Christ. Posing as love and grace, sentimentality refuses to judge error and evil. Samuel, however, shows God’s abhorance of the flesh and its activities and hews Agag in pieces before the Lord.
This same principle, not according to nature, is in evidence as the seven sons of Jesse pass before Samuel, each one rejected until the youngest is last to be presented before the prophet. And Jehovah said ‘Arise. Anoint him, for THIS IS HE.’ (1 Sam. 16.12) (incidentally, oh, that the Holy Spirit might present our true David before each of our hearts for enthronement to the exclusion of everything and everyone else). It may well be that with us that which is only of nature predominates rather than the spiritual, and often remains undetected. ‘For the mind of the flesh is death; but the mind of the Spirit life and peace.’ (Rom. 8.6.J.N.D.). There will always be enmity between the two, necessitating continual watchfulness often referred to in scripture, e.g. Rebecca, wife of Isaac relates how the twins struggled within her.
We have seen (again in pairs) the contrast between Saul and David; the latter such a beautiful figure of Christ, he is the shepherd king. With sensitive spirituality he is able with the harp to subdue and mollify the restless spirit of a Saul. And he still speaks to us in the fruit of his own experiences, the psalms. How rich a legacy we have in them, the breathings of the Holy Spirit to be enjoyed already before we enter upon our future glorious inheritance. Surely this book is intended in the testimony of the word of God that there should be with us increase in the knowledge of God (Col. 1.10). And David writes ‘For this God is our God for ever and ever’ (Ps. 48.14). Then sat Solomon on the throne of David his father and his was a throne of magnificence and great power. Whereas David’s reign was one of moral glory, Solomon’s was marked by official and manifest greatness. The suggestion for us is that Christ is to reign as the One to Whom every knee is to bow and to be seen in all His millennial glory.
We come to another pair whom the scriptures present together for our edification, Elijah and Elisha. Here, somewhat akin to what we have seen in the case of Moses and Joshua, there is a change of emphasis, not so much of degree of importance, but a moving forward in the ways of God as is seen, for instance, at Pentecost in greater measure. Both are men of God, Elijah marked by much power, strong in character. And as Joshua, the younger, learned much from serving alongside of Moses, so does Elisha learn from Elijah and requests and is granted a double portion of his (Elijah’s) spirit. Thus we are to learn that spiritual power on our side is gained largely on the strength of earnest desire, which God will answer. In the New Testament, amongst others, we have three outstanding characters, Peter, John and Paul (our apostle). Peter’s ministry is in the main ‘kingdom’ truth (i.e. moral) John’s (he is generally himself in the background) taking us into eternity as we read the Revelation, and Paul bringing us into the present enjoyment of what is future, in the purpose of God ‘made to sit down together (already) in the heaven-lies in Christ Jesus’ (Eph. 2.6). So may we again say ‘This God is our God for ever and ever.’
by B. CURRIE
In the previous paper we noted that the second reference to the flesh of the Lord Jesus in the epistle to the Hebrews is found in 5.7. Here it would appear to be in connection with the experience of the Lord in the garden of Geth-semane. Thus the fact that He shed tears is recorded three times in the New Testament—at the grave of Lazarus (John 11.35), over the city (Luke 19.41), and here.
At first sight it may not appear obvious why the Geth-semane experience of the Lord is introduced into Heb. 5. The writer is seeking to establish the tremendous superiority of Christianity over Judiasm. The latter had its law given with angelic attendance, mighty men such as Moses, Joshua and the prophets, high priests like Aaron and his successors, the tabernacle and then the temple with their ritual, ceremony, pomp and ostentation. All that Christianity could show with respect to earth was a Man crucified as a felon and an imposter. The Hebrew epistle establishes firstly that the Man of Calvary was Himself Divine and in virtue of the inestimable worth of His cross work has taken His Manhood to the ‘right hand of the Majesty on high’ (1.3). We are then instructed that in this Heavenly Man we as Christians have things ‘better’ than the best that Judaism could offer, including its priesthood.
The Priesthood of Christ, which had been introduced in 2.17-18, is developed from 4.14 — 8.5 to show the vast superiority of His to that of Aaron. Heb. 5.1-10 seeks to establish that Christ fulfills the necessary qualifications for priesthood. These are:
- (a) chosen from among men, (v.l),
- (b) called of God (v.4).
In v. 5—10 the writer shows that the Lord met these requirements fully. The first was fulfilled in His incarnation and the second in His resurrection. Two Psalms are quoted to emphasise these two facts. His incarnation is underlined by the quotation from Ps. 2.7, while His resurrection is underlined by the quotation from Ps. 110.4. A pattern of alternation is seen in these verses:—
- v. 5 — Humanity (Incarnation)
- v. 6 — Resurrection
- v. 7a — Humanity (Life)
- v. 7b — Resurrection
- v.8 — Humanity (Life)
- v. 9 — Resurrection
We shall briefly consider these truths.
There are three somewhat similar expressions which need to be distinguished. These are ‘begotten,’ ‘only begotten,’ and ‘first-begotten.’ The term ‘begotten’ is the usual word for birth as for example Matt. 2.1,4; Luke 1.35; John 18.37, etc., and there seems no reason why the quotation from Ps. 2.7 does not refer to the Lord’s incarnation in each of its three occurrences in the New Testament, i.e. Acts 13.33; Heb. 1.5, 5.5. However the expression ‘only begotten’ refers to the fact that the Lord Jesus was the Eternal Son of the Father. It’s use in Heb. 11.17 of Isaac (who was not the only son of Abraham) shows that it is a term indicating pre-eminence, acceptability and uniqueness. It is used to show the eternal relationship existing between the Father and the Son in John 1.14,18; 3.16,18; 1 John 4.9. The last expression ‘first-begotten’ is a term of dignity rather than time and is used to indicate the dignity and pre-eminence of the Lord in His Manhood (Rom. 8.29; Col. 1.15,18; Rev. 1.5).
The fact of Him becoming Man did not mean however, that He was qualified for priesthood. He came from the wrong tribe (7.14), and during His life there were priests in the nation. As long as He was on earth He could not be a priest (8.4), thus it was essential for His Priesthood to be of a different order. This had its beginning in heaven when He was ‘saluted of God a high priest after the order of Melchizedek’ (v.10,6). The order of Melchizedek differs from that of Aaron in that it is not marked by succession. He will never die (7.16,24,25), and thus will never need to be succeeded. His Priesthood is to-day, however, marked by the pattern of Aaron and not by the pattern of Melchizedek. The latter refers to the King—Priest Who will minister and strengthen, especially Israel, after the battle of the great tribulation (see Gen. 14.18; Zech. 6.13). As the priest ministering after the pattern of Aaron, He is marked by a capacity to sympathise, not with our sins, but with our weaknesses; not after but during the trial.
How can He have such sympathy or fellow feeling? The answer is because He Himself has known the depths of trial and this was no more vividly displayed than in Geth-semane. There with supplications and entreaties with strong crying and tears He sought His Father God as He contemplated in Spirit what would be His cup actually when on the cross. He prayed to Him Who was able to save Him ‘out of death’—not from dying—and He was heard because of His Piety i.e. He was the Only Man Who ever had a moral right to be heard. Thus He, and He alone, could say ‘I know that Thou hearest Me always’ (John 11.42). When was His prayer ‘to be saved from death’ answered? Obviously in resurrection when He came forth ‘out of death.’
He returns in v. 8 to the ‘days of His flesh’ and emphasises His ability to have compassion because of His life of submission and obedience. The converse of the verse cannot be taken as if to imply that there was ever any tendency in Him to disobey. In His Deity He never knew what it was to obey — He was always obeyed. However in His Manhood He went through this experience, ‘Son though He was.’ The outcome of this was that He became perfect. Not, it must be stressed, with respect to His Person—He always was perfect—but with respect to His office as Priest. Thus in resurrection and ascension He was ‘consecrated (perfected) for evermore’ (7.28). The fact that His heavenly position is in view is further proved by Him being the Author (cause) of eternal salvation. This could not be true apart from His resurrection (1 Cor. 15.17). Also it was on resurrection ground that He was ‘called (saluted) of God’ (v. 10).
Thus the Man in heaven is perfectly qualified to be a Priest, and that of an order far superior to Aaron’s. Note the following contrasts :—
- 1. The office of priest brought dignity to Aaron but the Person of Christ brought dignity to the office.
- 2. The office was an ‘honour’ for Aaron (v. 4), but it was a ‘glory’ for Christ (v. 5).
- 3. Aaron sympathised because of his infirmity (v. 2,3), but Christ because of His Perfection (v. 9).
- 4. Aaron had to offer for himself (v. 3), but Christ was heard because of His Piety.
- 5. Aaron was ‘called’ of God (v.4), but Christ was ‘saluted’ of God (v.10).
- No temple made with hands
- His place of service is;
- In heaven itself He stands,
- A heavenly priesthood His:
- In Him the shadows of the law
- Are all fulfilled, and now withdraw.
by J. B. HEWITT, Chesterfield
(27) THE HEADSHIP OF CHRIST
Read: 1 Cor. 11.3-16; Eph. 1.22,23; Col. 1.18; 2.10.
Headship is a matter of Divine appointment for the maintenance of harmony in relationships established by God. Connected with headship are relationship, representation, responsibility and rule. Headship is associated with the entrance of sin into the world. Headship is an ordinance of God and must be acknowledged and accepted by both parties who should be in agreement. Because of Eve’s disobedience, a new order of relationship is seen, "He shall rule over thee"—this is Headship. The Lordship of Christ affects us individually but Headship is concerned with the collective position, especially in relation to the Church. The Headship of Christ over Creation, Man and the Church is absolute.
Headship — Christ and Man
In 1 Cor. 11.3 is the principle of headship. Three great principles are enunciated here and applied to local conditions in Corinth. It is applied to the relation between Christ and every man in the Church. This is a divine decree and unalterable, all must acknowledge His supremacy. The conduct of these saints (1.12,13) was a denial of headship and a grief and a burden to the Apostle.
The Lord Jesus has a threefold claim to headship over man:—Creatorially (Gen. 2.7), Redemptively (1 Tim. 2.6); and Judicially (Acts 17.31; Phil. 2.11,12). This principle is inflexible for Christ has authority, supremacy and direction over the individual.
Quite independent of the marriage bond, man is the head of the woman and is to bear rule (v.3). This is the second principle and does not mean husband and wife relationship as in Eph. 5.22,23. Man was designed to be the representative of the Creator. He is not only a visible representation of God, but is also in himself a manifestation of God’s greatness and majesty (v.7). For this reason the man’s head should not be covered, for thereby he would dishonour his head, that is Christ. His headship is all embracive from man’s birth and into eternity.
Headship — Christ and God
The third principle of verse 3 is mentioned to add authority to the first two headships. This does not imply any any unequal partnership in the Godhead but is indicative of the subjection of the Lord in His humanity. He is viewed as a man in subjection to His Father as God. He took the place of the Servant (Isa. 42.1), in a path of obedience, and delighted to do the will of God (John 5.30; Heb. 10.9; Rom. 15.3; Matt. 26.39). The implication is that if Christ accepted the Headship of God, it is expected that men will accept Christ’s and the woman the man’s (v. 8,9). In life and in death the Lord exhibited His subjection in unquestioning obedience to God (John 10.17; 13.31; 17.4).
Headship — Christ and the Church
In Eph. 1.22,23 His place of authority in relationship to the Church, is the Body aspect. He is the "Supreme Head," literally Head over all things "to" or "for" the Church. His universal Lordship is exercised for the benefit of the Church (5.23). He is the sole source of its life and strength, so that it receives from Him the nourishment which promotes the growth of the whole body (4.15,16). Through His sovereign Person and exalted position the Church takes her orders.
This is the inward union of the Church, as an organism which owes its life to Christ, derives its sustenance from Him. He governs, He directs, He administers and is above all other authorities (v.21).
The Church is the body of Christ and the fullness of Christ. God intends the Church should be the full expression of Jesus Christ. Colossians sets forth the same truth with certain differences in viewpoint. Ephesians stresses the Church as the fullness of Christ, who Himself, is Head. Colossians speaks of Christ’s own fullness (1.19). In Ephesians the Body is seen as the complement of the Head; in Colossians the Body is seen to be complete in the Head (2.10). Applied locally He is Head over every member and servant, in every exercise and at every meeting.
Headship — Husband and Wife
In Eph. 5.22-24 dealing with marriage Paul enjoins the kind of submission that is required in certain relationships. The teaching is practical and if obeyed will prove profitable. Christian standards of marriage must not be lowered. As partners we are "joint heirs of the grace of life" (1 Pet. 3.7). Headship makes man the ruling partner in the marriage relation, it is established by creation and now endorsed in redemption. Both partners are reminded of their duties and not their rights. The subjection of the wife to her own husband is personal and practical, and the ideal is "as unto the Lord" (v.22). The responsibility of leadership is that of the husband and father, and his authority must be accepted (v.24; 6.1-2). The analogy likens a husbands headship over his wife to Christ’s headship over the Church (1.22; 5.24).
The husband is given to the wife to be a saviour to her, in maintaining, protecting and defending her. This makes the obedience of the wife a matter of devotion. She must never be treated as a servant. The husband’s love must be completely unselfish, sacrificial and self-giving like Christ (v.25). My love like Christ’s should give and give and give. The word love here is not "phileo," affection for a person, but "agapao," love that is totally unselfish, that seeks the highest good of the one loved.
The Head of Principality and Power
Col. 2.10 is the headship of Christ in relation to angelic beings, (Eph. 1.20,21). This is the vindication of His rights as their Creator (Col. 1.16), but as a reward in virtue of His work by which He glorified the Father (Heb. 2.9). There are two kinds of angels, good and evil. Both are subject to the supreme Lordship of Christ. How vast and comprehensive is His Headship. Christ’s death on the Cross was a decisive triumph over all the demonac powers of evil. He disarmed Satan’s host of their power to retain the spoils (Luke 11.22). In defeating the Devil by death He overcame all our malicious foes (Eph. 6.12; Col. 2.15). The paradox of the crucifixion is—triumph in helplessness, and glory in shame.
The victory is ours, hostile angels cannot separate us from God (Rom. 8.38,39). The angelic host are subject to Him as their Creator, the evil ones subject to Him as their Conqueror (Col. 2.15). Because of His victory the Colossian saints are not to capitulate to false teachers (2.18).
The purpose of God for Christ is given in Eph. 1.10, "to head up all things in Christ." He will carry out His perfect plan — the whole universe will be one. All divisions and disorders caused by sin will be removed. Man brought back to God through Christ (Col. 1.20), into unity and fellowship among themselves. What God planned in Christ will attain its full fruition when the time is ripe. The Lord Jesus was ever conscious that the Father’s love for Him, "gave ALL THINGS into His hand" (John 3.35; 13.3). He alone is worthy (Heb. 3.3; Rev. 5.12).
- He hell in hell laid low;
- Made sin, He sin o’erthrew:
- Bowed to the grave, destroyed it so,
- And death by dying slew.
by J. G. GOOD
The division of the Ephesian letter, is obvious even to the casual reader. The first three chapters are Positional relating to our Standing, the second three chapters are Practical dealing with our State. It is true that our Standing is un-impeachable, we are viewed in all the acceptability of our Lord Jesus Christ but what God desires is that through the ministry of Paul, the truths relating to our Standing will be reflected in our State for His glory.
Every strand of truth emphasised by the apostle in the doctrinal part of the epistle has a co-relative link in the practical part of the epistle, as we see in the following references;
- Eph. Ch. 2.1-2. ‘And you hath He quickened who were dead in trespasses and sins.’
- Ch. 2.4. ‘But God who is rich in mercy for His great love wherewith He loved us.’
- Ch. 1.19. ‘And what is the exceeding greatness of His power to us ward who believe.’
- Eph. Ch. 5.6-8. ‘For ye were sometimes darkness but now ye are light.’
- Ch. 5.1-2. ‘Be ye therefore followers of God as dear children.’
- Ch. 6.10. ‘Be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.’
The fore-mentioned verses are indicative of the tremendous responsibility placed upon us to let the truths connected with our Position be displayed in a Practical way in our daily living. This is where we have failed, and the reason for the lack of power in our individual and assembly lives. Brethren-ism has taken these same living, vital truths, and with them, have created a dogma, demanding a mechanical obedience, instead of the same truths being a dynamic in the lives of God’s people.
We learn in this letter that the Church is not an organisation but a living organism, dependent on the Head for its very existence. Thus we have Paul’s emphasis on the Headship of Christ, mentioned three times, Ch. 1.22 where it is linked to Authority, Ch. 4.15, we see it Affectionately, and in Ch. 5.23 the context would tell us of Accountability.
Again, the letter is one of;
- (a) Fullness, mentioned four times, Ch. 1.10, 1.23, 3.19, and 4.13.
- (b) Fellowship, Ch. 2. 5,6, ‘together,’ 2.19, ‘Fellow-citizens with the saints.’
- (c) Fruitfulness, Ch. 2.21, ‘groweth,’ 3.17, ‘rooted and grounded,’ 4.16, ‘maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.’
There are definite indications outlined as to our appreciation of the teaching of this letter, a spiritual barometer relating to our progress and state of spiritual health. In order that this might be the case, Paul under the guidance of the Spirit of God states emphatically, ‘Be filled with the Spirit’ Eph. 5.18. This without doubt is the power for Christian living, only with the help of the Holy Spirit will precept become practice, and the living truths find expression and be re-produced in our lives. Notice, ‘Being filled with the Spirit,’ is not with a view to accomplishing miracles of healing, or being the means of the conversions of thousands, but rather the opposite, these Christian graces have to be exhibited in the common round of life. What a challenge!
The operative word in this exhortation is the verb, ‘be filled.’ We note, first of all, that this verb is in the Imperative Mood, this is a definite command, which must be treated with urgency. We have the negative truth in the previous clause in the verse, ‘be not drunk with wine,’ while here we have the positive truth stressed, ‘be filled with the Spirit.’ Secondly, this verb is in the Passive Voice, this filling of the Holy Spirit can ever be realised in our own strength, we need to confess our weakness, and call upon His help. How beautifully the hymnwriter has expressed this truth in the words;
‘But though I cannot sing, or tell, or know, The fullness of Thy love while here below, My empty vessel I may freely bring; O Thou who art of love the living spring, My vessel fill’
Thirdly, we note the Continuous Tense, ‘be filled NOW and continue to be filled.’ Spirituality can be attained but it must be maintained, here we have the remedy for every ill, ‘be filled with the Spirit.’
How will a Spirit-filled life be discerned. The answer is in v. 19, ‘speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs.’ This is real, vital fellowship which should be expressed in the local assembly gatherings. We should not limit this expression of Christian fellowship and encouragement to the assembly gatherings only, but that these characteristics should pervade every department of life. Notice how this happy state of affairs can be diagnosed;
- Collective as to its Sphere. We cannot over emphasise the importance of Christian fellowship. The New Testament does not visualise a Christian in isolation, although God can support those deprived of fellowship in a special way. ‘Speaking to yourselves,’ we are inter-dependent upon each other for comfort and counsel. The remnant in Malachi’s day (Ch. 4.16), ‘Then they that feared the Lord spake often one to another,’ they were fully aware of the best way to preserve this fellowship of those who thought upon His name. Are we functioning in this respect?
- Contagious as to its Spread. The example of others can be infectious, in a good or bad sense. ‘I go a fishing’ (Luke 21.3). How often our subject matter is anything but spiritual. Sometimes those who have the most to sing about, utter only sighs, and yet we receive encouragement from the sick-bed and the prison cell.
- Conscious as to its Subject. ‘Making melody in your hearts to the Lord.’ The cause of all this joy is apparent ‘the Lord.’ The presence of the Lord with us is a reality, or should be! The Christian in the good of spiritual blessings is happy and others know and share in the happiness. ‘For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness and peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.’ (Rom. 14.17). The blessings of God are not material but spiritual, not expressed outwardly, but experienced inwardly, ‘making melody in your heart’!
Further expression of this Spirit-filled life is found in verse 20, ‘Giving thanks always for all things’ no shortage or lack of variety of subjects for thanksgiving, ‘ALL THINGS.’
- Appreciation for All Things. We are rather selective as to the themes of our thanksgiving. There are many things which have happened to us in life about which we would be hesitant in giving thanks, the disappointments, bereavements, the ever increasing opposition we meet from day to day. Of course it is different when it comes to the success stories, promotion at our place of business, our children have done well for themselves and so on. Were we promised success? Is there not a reason for the failures of life? When we see all in the light of the permissive will of God, we will give thanks for ‘ALL THINGS’!
- Appreciation for the Attributes of God. The thanksgiving has to be rendered ‘unto God and the Father.’ The great God of creation, of power and majesty, surely this would impress upon us the need for reverence when approaching God with the voice of thanksgiving. Then follows that wonderful New Testament revelation, and ‘the Father.’ The Fatherhood of God relates only to those who have been born into the family of God through the new birth. We have been left in no doubt as to our way of approach and to the method of address, ‘unto God and the Father.’
- Appreciation of our Association with Christ ‘in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.’ The One Who is the source of all our blessings, in Him alone are we accepted, before the face of God in all the perfections of His Son. Read chapter one of this epistle and see the repetition of ‘in Whom.’ Let us be careful to ascribe to our Lord His God given titles, and not be guilty of speaking in a derogatory manner of our glorious Lord.
Finally, the filling of the Spirit, is exemplified in verse 21, ‘submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.’ This does not concern either inferiority or superiority. It is a military term and carries the thought of orderly submission, ‘in the fear of Christ’ (R.V.). Here in the closing verses of this chapter we have;
- Lordship—Asserted, verse 22, see the repeated mention of ‘Lord’ brought into every sphere the touchstone of conduct. Remove the ‘Lord’ from Christian experience and the whole becomes a sham.
- Headship — Acknowledged, verse 23, The revised version renders ‘and He is being Himself the saviour of the body’ the comparison lies in the fact of headship alone. The husband’s love and devotion cannot be called salvation, in which respect Christ’s headship is peculiar to Himself. (Vincent’s N.T. Word Studies) A recognition of headship induced by love, transferred into the marriage bond how lofty and dignified this should be!
- Ownership—Accomplished, verse 25. ‘Christ loved the Church and gave Himself for her.’ The pearl of great price, ‘selleth all that He hath’ (Matt. 13.44) ‘Love seeketh not her own,’ (1 Cor. 13.5.) This divine love is, seeking, selfless and sacrificing. What a price! How precious the purchased possession must be to our Lord Jesus Christ.
‘We never would forget, Thy rich, Thy precious Love, Our theme of joy and wonder here, Our endless song above.
by PAUL SQUIRES (Ford Park, Plymouth)
Let us together muse upon this wonderful phrase which is peculiar to the Gospel according to John and which was uttered by our blessed Lord. 1 consider it of import that this phrase appears solely in the Fourth Gospel and not in the Synoptics. We need to realise that each Gospel has its own distinctiveness and does not the apostle John open up to us something of the heart of the precious Lord? Is there not a sense of ‘closeness’ in the Gospel?
In chapter 7, officers are sent by the Pharisees and the chief priests to take the Lord Jesus. Jesus said, "Yet a little while am I with you, and then I go unto Him that sent Me. Ye shall seek Me, and shall not find Me: and WHERE I AM, thither ye cannot come" (see verses 33-34). These words were not understood by the Jews as verses 35-36 show. Note "ye cannot come" in 8.21-22 and 13.33.
The language of 12.26 is "If any man serve Me, let him follow Me; and WHERE I AM, there shall also My servant be: if any man serve Me, him will My Father honour." We, who are Christians, serve the Person to Whom we are attached, the Lord Christ, and His promise which cannot be broken is "WHERE I AM, there shall also My servant be." Our being WHERE HE IS does not depend on the quality of our service for Him but on our being His servants. The quality of service will be dealt with at the Judgment Seat of Christ (1 Cor. 3.13).
We know that our Lord Jesus Christ is to descend to the atmospheric heaven to receive His blood-bought people unto Himself. Chapter 14.3 reads, "if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto Myself; that WHERE I AM, there ye may be also." The place has been prepared by His entering heaven itself; it is not in the process of being prepared as some think. We rejoice in that He has entered heaven, and the fact that He is there has wondrously prepared the place for us to be there (see Heb. 6.19-20). He said "if I go and prepare … I come again" ("will" is not to be construed with "come again" but with "receive" — "if I go and shall prepare you a place, I am coming again and shall receive you to Myself" J.N.D.).
In chapter 17, in the prayer so full of content, content of a depth unfathomable, the Lord Jesus says, "Father, I will that they also, whom Thou hast given Me, be with Me WHERE I AM; that they may behold My glory, which Thou hast given Me: for Thou lovedst Me before the foundation of the world." We frequently think of our longing to be with Him, and how grand this is, but think of this! Not only do we have a longing; He has one, "that they also … be with Me WHERE I AM; that they may behold My glory." Soon, beloved, His desire shall be fulfilled, and with deep joy we shall behold the excelling glory of this exquisite Person.
- We shall be with Him where He is,
- For such is His desire;
- We shall behold His glory bright—
- The sight shall bliss inspire!
- The Father’s everlasting love
- Shall shine before our gaze
- In Him, transcending all above,
- Throughout eternal days.
by E. R. BOWER (continued)
THE FIFTH VISION.
The Golden Candlestick. (4.1-14)
vv. 1-3. This candlestick or lampstand does not appear to be of the same pattern as seen in Tabernacle and Temple, but this does not detract from this vision which speaks of witness, primarily perhaps, the witness of Israel. Indeed, in our own day we may see the candlestick as the symbol of Israel, but as v. 4 indicates it is the SOURCE of the light which claims attention.
Refs: Ex. 25.31-40; 37.17-24; Lev. 24.1-4; Matt. 5.15-16; Phil. 2.15; Rev. 1.20; 4.5; Is. 60. 1-3; 62.1,2.
vv. 4-6. The vision is the WORD. Joshua has had the message. It is now the turn of Zerubbabel. Joshua and Zerubbabel—priest and prince—types individually and together of our Lord—heralds and symbols of the coming Branch. (Cf. Hag. 2.23). Read Zech 3.10; Mic. 4. 1-5; Is. 2.1-5 together, and we find the "mountains of the Lord’s house," the "house of the God of Jacob," and the "light of the Lord."
v.7. This "great mountain" has been referred to the difficulties experienced in the rebuilding of the Temple; or as the Gentile powers. The plain is seen as the smoothing away of the difficulties or the nations. However, it is more than likely that the "mountain of the Lord’s house" is seen here. Cf. Pss. 48 and 87 etc. Is not the "headstone" reminiscent of Ps. 118. 22? The latter psalm is Messianic—see our Lord’s quotation (Matt. 21.42; Mark 12.10).
Other refs: Ephes. 2.20; 1 Pet. 2. 4-6; Is. 28.16; Mic. 4.1; Ezek. 40.2, etc.
The words "thou shalt become" are in italics in the A.V. and Young’s concordance shows ‘plain’ in the Hebrew as being elsewhere rendered in the A.V. as "equity" (Is. 11.4; Mai. 2.6); "even place" (Ps. 26.12); "make straight" (Is. 40.4; 42.16); "right" (pss. 45.6; 67.4); and "uprightness" (Ps. 143.10). Does the A.V. ‘plain’ (in contrast to ‘mountain’) miss the meaning of both? or rather, do we miss the meanings? Cf. Jer. 33. 14-18. "Who art thou?" — what art thou? The Temple will be finished and the stone that was before Joshua will be set in its place by Zerubbabel. Truly, grace will be the charming sound in that day.
vv. 8-9. Here is the confirmation that the subject is "this House," Zerubbabel began the work; he would also finish it. "He which began a good work in you will finish it until the day of Jesus Christ." (Phil. 1.6).
Refs: 1 Cor. 3.16-17; 6.19; 2 Cor. 6.16; John 2.18-22; Rev. 21.10,11,22.
v.10. See marginal reading which links the engraving with the seven eyes of the Lord. The headstone of 4.7 is connected with the plummet here. The ‘eyes’ light up with joy when the plummet is seen setting the stone in its place. Isaiah (28.16-17) also links the stone and the plummet, "Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation . . . judgment also will I lay to the line and righteousness to the plummet . ." (See Rom. 9.33; Ephes. 2.20-22). Here we see our Lord as the Chief Corner Stone, "in whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God in the Spirit."
Refs: Rev. 5.6; Ps. 118.22-23; Matt. 21.42; Mark 12.10-11; Luke 20.17-18 and note contexts.
vv. 11-14. "Anointed ones" — sons of oil. Consensus of opinion seems to favour Joshua and Zerubbabel, the two representatives of Israel as the anointed ones. Cf. v. 14 with v. 31 — "standing before." If this is so, then they are ‘double’ types for we have previously seen that they are jointly a type of our Lord. Rev. 11.4 would appear to shew that these two witnesses are ‘special,’ but it may be that there are difficulties to be found with this interpretation. The early church saw the witness of Rev. 11. as Enoch and Elijah, but again there are differing opinions. The cross-questioning of the angel-interpreter is noticeable—"What are these?" is countered with, "do you not know?" It appears that the angel has assumed that the prophet would, or should, know.
Was the knowledge of the prophet being sounded out? Interpretations belong to God. Cf. Dan. 2.27-28; Gen. 41.16, 25, 28. The phrase "sons of oil" occurs only here, and ‘oil’ here and elsewhere seems to apply to the natural rather than the manufactured products, hence the source. Oil in Scripture often speaks of the Holy Spirit, cf. v. 6; Hag. 1.14; 2.25; In 1 Kings 6.23-31 the cherubim of the Sanctuary of Solomon’s Temple were of olive wood (margin, "trees of oil") and the same Hebrew word is used here. Cf. Ex. 25.20; 2 Chron. 3.10,11,12; 5.8. Zechariah is possibly thinking in terms of the Temple for was he not hastening forward its rebuilding? A Temple built "according to the pattern" given to David by the Spirit and "in writing by His hand upon me" (1 Chron. 28. 11-21). Cf. Ex. 25 to 40; Heb. 8.5.
THE SIXTH VISION
The Roll, the Ephah, the two women. (5.1-11)
(a) THE ROLL
vv.1-4. "Earth"—the Land, Israel, for it is the Law and the curse of the Law which is in view here; "It"—the curse; "Flying"—an unrolled scroll, 20 cubits x 10 cubits. This measurement coincides with the measurement of the Holy Place of the Tabernacle, and with that of the porch of the Temple. Those who sin against the covenant associated with the Law as seen in the Decalogue (Ex. 32. 15-16 and cf. v. 4. Man engraves an idol; God engraves a Law) will be cut off or purged out (RV) from the community and thus exempted from their obligations imposed by the covenant oath. The two tables of the Law are represented by the sins specified in the roll—stealing, or sins against a neighbour, and false swearing, or sin against God. The eighth and third commandments (the middle commandment from each table) standing for the two tables. The curse is seen in Lev. 26. 14-26 and Deut. 27 and 28. Malachi 3.5-15 gives an answer to those who speak of the obscurity of these verses. "Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed Me, even this whole nation." A broken Law; a broken House. "The measure of the Sanctuary is that by which men’s actions are weighed." See Ezek. 2. 6-10; Deut. 27.26.
(b) THE EPHAH.
vv. 5-8. "Ephah"—a measure; "Resemblance"—iniquity or ‘eye.’ i.e. a semblance or likeness; "talent"—cover; "wickedness"—THE wickedness or lawlessness; "cast it"— cast her; "weight of lead"—cover of lead. Notice the ‘going forth’ of the roll and of the ephah and the ‘came out’ of the women (v. 9)—perhaps ‘came into view’—phraseology which reminds us of the visions of the Apocalypse. The visions build up in a number of scenes, one fading from view as another appears. The ‘their’ of v. 6 must refer to the thieves and false swearers of vv. 1-4, and it is possible that there is a passing reference here to Ez. 8.8-18. The ephah and the talent have suggested to some writers the godless commercial interests that had taken precedence over the natural agricultural role of the nation. V. 7—"This is one woman"—i.e. a particular woman, and v. 8, "This is THE wickedness." A covered vessel full of wickedness in female form. Can we identify this woman with the "mother of harlots" (Rev. 17)? Cf. Shinar (v. 11) with ‘Babylon’ Rev. 17). Cf. Matt. 23. 13-33, "Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers." (See Gen. 11. 1-9).
(c) THE TWO WOMEN.
vv. 9-11. We are not told who these women are, and the prophet did not ask as he had hitherto asked, so it must be supposed that he was aware of their identity. Some see this scene as fulfilling the promise of 3.9. "I will remove the iniquity of the Land in one day" and also as a parallel to the removal of Joshua’s filthy garments. Upon the other hand, the prophet Jeremiah (chap. 3) and Ezekiel (chaps. 16 and 23) speak of two women and would not Zechariah have known this?
There are those who read the Hebrew word for ‘stork’ as meaning ‘faithful one,’ and for ‘wind,’ ‘spirit.’ With these renderings we see two faithful ones, driven by the Spirit removing the wickedness of the Land—a parallel with the two ‘sons of oil.’ It has been observed by another writer that "when the time comes, it will be marked by commerce (the ephah), false religion (the woman), speedy accomplishment (the wings of the stork), and a spirit in their wings." "Shinar" takes us back to Gen. 11 and Babel. Shinar was "the beginning of his Nimrod’s kingdom." Nimrod, the upstart or rebel. Daniel 11 refers to the carrying into "the land of Shinar to the house of his god . . . part of the vessels of the House of God." Shinar the place of man’s first organized rebellion against God, is now to be the home of the aggregate of all evil, the woman. Cf. Jer. 5.1-7. Does the establishing of a house for the ephah "upon its own base" (as an idol?) envisage the new Babylon (as seen in the Book of the Revelation) and the "mother of harlots?" "These are" and "this is" are definite.
by JOHN CAMPBELL, Larkhall (continued)
ITS FUTURE : BEFORE AND AFTER THE RAPTURE
Before the Rapture. Seven Aspects of its Ministry.
|Occupation||Bear testimony for Christ.||Luke 19.13|
|Sanctification.||Lives Godly lives.||Matt. 5.16|
|Education.||Heavenly intelligences taught.||Ephes. 3.10|
|Mobilisation.||Fighting a spiritual War.||Ephes. 6.12|
|Progression.||We walk by Faith, not by Sight.||2 Cor. 5. 7|
|Intercession.||Pray for all men.||1 Tim. 2. 2|
|Anticipation.||Look for the Saviour.||Philippians 3.20|
Occupation Bear Testimony for Christ Luke 19.13
Of His Citizens
Sanctification. Live Godly Lives. Matthew 5.16
- The Radiance of the Light v. 16
- The Evidence of the Life v. 16
- The Furtherance of the Glory v. 16
Education. God’s Wisdom through the Church. Ephes. 3.10
- Purpose To the intent. v. 10
- Period That now. v. 10
- Powers Principalities. v. 10
- Place Heavenlies. v. 10
- Plan May be made known. v. 10
- Persons The Church. v. 10
- Prudence Manifold wisdom of God v. 10
Mobilisation. Wrestle not with Flesh and Blood. Ephes. 6.12
- The Armour God Provides v. 11
- The Ability we Receive v. 11
- The Attack we engage v. 12
- The Adversaries we Meet v. 12
- The Girding of our Loins v. 14
- The Garment for our Breast v. 14
- The Gospel for our Feet v. 15
- The Guarding of our Person v. 16
- The Grasping of our Sword v. 17
- The Gear for our Head v. 17
Progression. We Walk by Faith. 2 Corinthians 5.7
From 2 Cor.4.1 to 2 Cor. 5.10, there are presented for our consideration, at least seven explanations, preceded by the words:- "For we," verse 7 of ch. 5 being the sixth, which we will examine. Development is expected of us in the Christian life, as much as in the physical and mental. Retarded growth is to be deplored, when we have every aid to progress. New life within, new desires begotten, should find expression in daily growth, through the constant reading of the Scriptures and daily communion with the Father. Faith is the great principle by which our spiritual life is now governed. It is not a condition of the mind; but the heart. Faith is unquestioning belief, and can become as real as any of our senses. It supersedes reason, yet is not unreasonable. It is believing God when reason says otherwise.
Walk in Ephesians
- The Past of our Lives. Prince, Power of the air. Ch. 2.2
- The Present of our Lives. Walking in good works. Ch. 2.10
- Our Pride in our Calling. Walk Worthily. Ch. 4.1
- Pre-Conversion. As other Gentiles. Ch. 4.17
- Patterned by Christ. Walk in Love. Ch. 5.2
- Purity of Conduct. Children of Light. Ch. 5.8
- Picking our steps Circumspectly. Ch. 5.15
Intercession. Pray for Governments. 1 Timothy 2.2.
A further Ministry of the Local Church is that of prayer for others. Such is intercession. It is our constant desire to have that form of government which will secure and maintain the privilege to assemble and to engage in prayer.
The Pattern of our Prayer Life. 1 Tim. 2.2.
- Intercession Prayers on behalf of others. v. 2
- Prayers What is general and constant. v. 2
- Supplication Earnest prayer. v. 2
- Thanksgiving Self-explanatory. v. 2
Exercise : Extent : Expectation : In Prayer.
Anticipation. We Look for the Saviour. Philippians 3.20
|In the Past:||For Redemption in Israel||Luke 2.38|
|For Another||Luke 7.19|
|In the Present:||For The Saviour||Philippians 3.20|
|For The Blessed Hope||Titus 2.13|
|For Him||Hebrews 9.28|
|For The Mercy of the Lord||Jude 21|
|In the Future:||For The Day of God||2 Peter 3.12|
Its Future : Before the Rapture. Its Function.
To evangelise the world. For this work:—
1. God Planned Eternal Life Before the Ages of Time. Titus 1.2
This remarkable verse takes us into the remotest past, before times eternal. Dwelling in space, untenanted and void, the Triune Deity in eternal council, made adequate provision for the incoming of sin, and the disruption it would inevitably cause in the fair universe of His Creation. Scripture never speaks of God having PURPOSES. He has only one, and everything else is built into it. Foreknowledge, election,
predestination, alike have their birth here. We say with Paul, "Oh the depth of the riches, both of the wisdom and knowledge of God" (Romans 11.33). As to the Period, or time when He purposed, we have seen it is linked with eternal times.
As to the Person, all is centred in Christ, the Great Adjuster of the Creation, by His death on Calvary.
As to the Purpose, it is singular and eternal. Ephes. 3.11.
2. Christ Ratified it at Calvary.
In time, the Son of God took flesh, but not the fleshly nature, that He might have the capacity to die, and as a sinless sacrifice, satisfied every claim of God’s outraged Throne. Here God rests forever.
3. We Preach Christ Crucified.
It has pleased God, by the foolishness of preaching to save them who believe. The Gospel goes forth in simplicity, yet in all its latent power, to the "whosoever" of a lost world.
4. The Holy Spirit Convicts of sin.
We know not how He works, we only see the effects of His work. He acts in a sovereign way, and souls are saved. (John 3.7).
5. God Imparts Faith.
Faith is not the exercise of a fleshly heart, but a fleshly heart can exercise faith (2 Thess. 3.2), "all men have not faith." God gives the sinner enough conviction to convince him of his sins, and enough faith to accept what is impossible to reason. Faith comes through hearing; that is why it is so necessary to preach Christ Crucified.
Thus, in the matter of evangelising the world, all these agencies are at work; the planning, the ratifying, the preaching, the convicting and the imparting. The sovereignty of God and the free choice of men, though distinct and to the limited intellect of unregenerate men so irreconcilable, meet, when a soul trusts Christ as Saviour.
God has two orders of created intelligences, angelic and human. In the matter of salvation, he has by-passed the former, and chose the latter, although both orders are fallen creatures. Herein is His Grace magnified, in that He set them aside and selected us.
6. We Baptise Believers
In the Commission of Matthew 28.19, the Lord commands us to make disciples of all nations, baptising them in "the Name (not the Names) of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost;" here a clear statement of Unity in the Trinity. The subject of Believer’s Baptism has been touched briefly in a former paragraph. No further elaboration is necessary here.
7. We Teach Believers
It is as needful to teach believers as it was to baptise them. The divine order is, hearing, believing, confessing, baptism and teaching, followed by receiving. Accepting Christ as Saviour and being baptised, is a once for all experience. Teaching is continuous; we forget so soon, we become dull of hearing. It becomes necessary to keep repeating the doctrines of Scripture. Note what Paul says in Philippians 3.1. "To write the same things to you, to me indeed is not grievous, but to you it is safe."
Thus we are occupied with preaching the Gospel, baptising believers, teaching the Saints, reading the Scriptures, praying to our God, and meeting to remember our Lord, in the Remembrance Feast. With such exercises we should be content, until He comes.
(To be continued)
by Jack Strahan, Enniskillen
"COME, LET US SING THE MATCHLESS WORTH"
SAMUEL MEDLEY (1738—1799)
One Lord’s day in October, 1975, a company of believers gathered in a small room in Jerusalem to remember the Lord Jesus. For most it was a first experience in that city—only a few had previously met in that room. Yet for all it was an unforgettable meeting, when for a time the conditions of earth seemed to pass away and the presence of the risen Lord filled and stilled every heart. With tear-dimmed eye and broken voice, they sang the words of a lovely hymn,
- "Come, let us sing the matchless worth,
- And sweetly sound the glories forth
- Which in the Saviour shine:
- To God and Christ our praises bring ;
- The song, with which the heavens ring,
- Now let us gladly join.
- How rich the precious blood He spilt,
- Our ransom from the dreadful guilt
- Of sin against our God.
- How perfect is His righteousness,
- In which unspotted beauteous dress
- His saints have always stood!
- Great are the offices He bears,
- And bright His character appears,
- Exalted on the throne;
- In songs of sweet untiring praise,
- We would, to everlasting days,
- Make all His glories known."
Their hearts were full for their occupation was with their Saviour —His matchless worth!, His precious blood!, His perfect righteousness!, His manifold ministries! ….
Samuel Medley was the author of this hymn. He had been born of godly parents in Cheshunt, Herts., England, on June 23rd, 1738, and as a lad received education from his grandfather, William Tonge. When he was 14, he was apprenticed to an oilman in the city of London but after three years in that trade, he entered the British Navy. At that time, England was at war and during an engagement with the French enemy off Cape Lagos, Medley received a serious leg injury. Over the succeeding days his leg condition deteriorated and life was endangered. "I am afraid that amputation is the only thing that will save your life" advised the ship’s surgeon. "I can tell tomorrow morning." Those words troubled Medley greatly. He appreciated the seriousness of the hour. He had led a profligate life and was not prepared to die. That night he gave himself to prayer that God would restore his leg and preserve his life. Remembering that he had a bible, he sent his servant to fetch it and throughout the night read it with avidity. God answered his prayer and by the following morning (to the great surprise of the surgeon), his leg had improved dramatically. With the immediate crisis now past, Medley turned again to his old ways and tried to forget about God. His injury, however, had necessitated that he retire from active service; so he returned home and came once again under the influence of his godly grandfather. He was then 21 years of age.
Grandfather Tonge spoke to him of his ways and of his need of salvation, and on an unforgettble Sunday evening read to him a sermon of Dr. Isaac Watts, based on Isaiah 42.6-7. That message brought deep conviction of sin and of guilt to Medley’s heart, for those words, the words of Dr. Watts’ text, "to open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison" seemed so accurately to describe his own heart’s condition and need. He sought salvation and found it in Christ, or to use his own words, "I soon received the comforts of the gospel, by a believing view of the fullness and sufficiency of the atonement of the Lord Jesus."
Seven years after conversion, Medley was called to the work as a minister of the gospel. The first five years were spent at Watford and then in 1772, he moved to Byrom Street in the city of Liverpool. There, until God called him "home" 27 years later, he faithfully and fruitfully preached the glorious gospel to an ever-increasing congregation. There the burden of his ministry was "to humble the pride of man, exalt the grace of God in his salvation and promote real holiness in heart and life." There many a profligate sea-man of that city port turned into his meetings and many were blessed eternally. Medley loved those men for he, himself, had been one of them and at heart ever remained such, right to the close of life. As his hour of death approached, he was heard to say, "I am now a poor shattered bark, just about to gain the blissful harbour; and 0 how sweet will be the port after the storm!" . . . "But a point or two more, and I shall be in my heavenly Father’s house!" Peacefully and triumphantly, on July 17th, 1799 he gained that blissful harbour.
Medley was possessed of an eccentric personality and a poetic turn of mind making him original in his way. Once when asked to complete a circular about his church work in Liverpool, he worded his reply as follows :
Ques. In what town is your church? Ans. "In one where sin makes many a fool
known by the name of Liverpool."
Ques Have you an assistant? Ans "O yes! I’ve One of whom I boast
His name is called the Holy Ghost."
Ques. What number of people attend? Ans. "A many come, my worthy friend,
I dare not say they all attend;
But though so many, great and small,
I never number them at all,
for that was once poor David’s fall."
As hymn writer, Medley wrote over 200 hymns. Many of these were originally written on broadsheets for distribution and after his death were published collectively in book form. In writing verse, Medley’s deep desire was the glory of Christ and the comfort of the people of God. A sense of deep gratitude to God for personal salvation ever filled his heart and found expression in verse in such of his hymns as, "Awake my soul in joyful lays" ("His Loving-Kindness") and "Now in a song of grateful. praise" ("My Jesus has done all things well").
The subject hymn of this article, "Come, let us sing the matchless worth" was originally written by Medley in another form— in a form giving insight into the pathos with which he wrote.
- "O could I speak the matchless worth,
- O could I sound the glories forth,
- Which in my Saviour shine.
- I’d soar and touch the heavenly strings,
- And vie with Gabriel while he sings,
- In notes almost divine."
Truly, Samuel Medley shared in, the rich experience of the Psalmist. "My heart is welling forth with a good matter: I say what I have composed touching the king . . . fairer than the sons of men." (Psalm 45.1,2, J.N.D.).
- To earth Thou earnest, Son of Man, to dwell,
- ‘Midst sinful men, incarnate Son of God,
- Thou, Lord of glory, come His heart to tell,
- In wondrous grace, the streets of earth hast trod.
- God has Himself come here, within our range,
- In Thee, His own, His well beloved Son,
- Ever The Same, in Thee is found no change,
- The incomparable, self-existing One.
- The Father’s bosom here Thy dwelling place,
- Disclosing to our raptured hearts from thence,
- Our God’s eternal thoughts of love and grace,
- Which only Thou, blest Saviour, could dispense.
- Lord Jesus, grace and truth have come by Thee,
- Long they waited Thy descent as Man,
- Perfect in balance and sweet harmony,
- The Word, declaring God’s eternal plan.
—by Edward Robinson, Exmouth.