PAPERS ON PROPHECY
by W. W. Fereday
by D. McAllister
ASSEMBLY TESTIMONY BIBLE CLASS
by J. Riddle
BEHOLD YOUR KING
by J. Flanigan
TONGUES AND THE BIBLE
by D. Mowat
THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES
by J. Douglas
NAPHTALI, A HIND LET LOOSE
by D. Ogden
MY CONVERSION AND CALL
by J. N. Smith
Alternative medicine, health foods, cures for every ill are being widely advertised and people will go to almost any expense to obtain good health God always wanted His people to be healthy and so He clearly outlined what they could and could not, eat Even in the wilderness they "did eat angels’ food," Ps.78.25 Some twenty times, in the OT, stress is placed on the fact that the land was to be "flowing with milk and honey " There was to be SUSTENANCE and SWEETNESS.
In the NT it is the same After the Lord Jesus had raised the daughter of Jairus from the dead, He "commanded that something should be given her to eat," Mk. 5.43 The injunctions run on until we hear Peter saying, "As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby," 1 Pet. 2.2. The idea of being healthy in spiritual matters is frequently referred to in Paul’s pastoral epistles, where eight times we read of being "sound, or wholesome" which means, "to be well, to be in good health. "
There is only one way in which this can be accomplished and that is by being fed with health-giving food Primarily, this sustenance is obtained by meditating on the Holy Scriptures and being taught by the Holy Spirit, but food can be obtained from the ministry of others and the feeding of the saints is one of the major objectives of this magazine We live in a day when there are many ailing saints and the reason may be that there are many neglecting their spiritual diet Dear reader, how much time have you spent with God and His word, today?
It is good when men have an exercise, "to feed the church of God " This will demand time and sacrifice but will be more than amply rewarded, not only at the judgment seat, but also in seeing spiritual development in the lives of the saints Such a man was Gideon, who "threshed wheat by the winepress, to hide it from the Midianites " Another was Shammah, who, when the Philistines sought to take a piece of ground full of lentiles, "stood in the midst of the ground, and defended it, and slew the Philistines and the LORD wrought a great victory " Gideon’s ministry was positive while Shammah’s was negative, but both were necessary It would be the desire of all the spiritual saints that men of this calibre would be raised up among us to provide and protect, our provision.
Why did the nation lose their appetite for the manna9 The answer is given in Num. 11.4-5, "And the mixt multitude that was among them fell a lusting and the children of Israel also wept again, and said, Who shall give us flesh to eat? We remember the fish, which we did eat in Egypt freely, the cucumbers, and the melons, and the leeks, and the onions, and the garlic But now our soul is dried away there is nothing at all, beside this manna, before our eyes. "
They were influenced by the mixed multitude and were led to remember all that catered to nature and natural appetite, but not the taskmaster and the lash To enjoy Christ (the Antitype of the manna) we must live separated lives The young saints in particular need to be most guarded as to their company Where saved and unsaved are both comfortable, there is nothing spiritual since the unsaved have no capacity to respond to spiritual things Always seek the company of those who are more spiritual than yourself.
Individually we all need to pray, in a spiritual sense, "give us this day our daily bread," and collectively we need men of the character of "a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season? Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing " Matt. 24.45,46
by The Late W. W. Fereday (written in 1897/98)
Paper 8b—The Times of the Gentiles
Turn now to Dan. 7, where the unfolding of these matters is fuller, and with special reference to the people of God. This vision was granted to the prophet "in the first year of Belshazzar, king of Babylon." It is well to note this. Men do not like the thought that God knows the end from the beginning, and is able to speak of those who are not, as though they were. The Babylonish power was not yet broken, yet God made known to His servant its successor in the dominion, pursuing the theme right on to the coming of the Son of Man.
"Daniel spake and said, I saw in my vision by night, and behold, the four winds of the heaven strove upon the great sea. And four great beasts came up from the sea, diverse one from another" (Dan. 7.2,3). Here the different Gentile empires are viewed, not as a whole, as in chapter 2, but separately. The sea is an emblem of the nations, the winds being disturbing elements in general. Thus each of these empires arose out of the upheaval of the nations. Some may ask, "Why are they shown as wild beasts?" We learn in this figure their moral character in the eyes of God. Beasts live for the gratification of their lusts, without any sense of responsibility towards God. The figure is a true one. Neither Babylon, nor Persia, etc., ruled for God; love of power and greed of conquest marked each and all of them in a greater or less degree.
The first beast is easily recognised. It was "like a lion, having eagle’s wings." This is the power of Babylon. Jer. 4.7 alludes to it under the figure of a lion, and Ezek. 17.3 as eagle. Jer. 49.19-22 unites the two figures. In Nebuchadnezzar’s vision it was shown as the head of gold. This was the power to which God committed dominion after the setting aside of Israel and the house of David. It is a remarkable fact that while Israel was still owned by God, no power was permitted to attain supremacy in the earth. Both Egypt and Assyria aspired to it and contended for it, but neither obtained the coveted position. But when the due time came for the overthrow of the throne of David, the rising power of Babylon was permitted to subdue both the ancient empires named, and so became supreme among the nations. The continuance of this depended on faithfulness to the trust committed by Him who rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomsoever He will. Babylon proved unfaithful, and consequently was set aside. In Dan. 7.4 we have its humiliation shown in a very striking way. The prophet beheld the lion’s wings plucked: " and it was lifted up from the earth, and made stand upon the feet as a man, and a man’s heart was given to it." Another prophet had some time previously given the limits of its dominion. Jehovah said through Jeremiah, "And now have I given all these lands into the hands of Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, My servant, and the beasts of the field have I given him also to serve him. And all nations shall serve him, and his son, and his son’s son, until the very time of his land come," etc. (Jer. 27.6,7.) How comprehensive is the word of God!
Babylon’s destroyer and successor was shown to Daniel as a bear raising up itself on one side, having three ribs in its mouth between its teeth (Dan. 7.5. This is the Medo-Persian power, the well-known captor of mighty Babylon. The figure used aptly sets forth its ferocity and greed of conquest. In its onesidedness we may observe the accuracy of the Spirit of God in the details of Scripture. In the next chapter, where the same empire is expressed by a ram with two horns, we learn that one was higher than the other, and the higher came up last (Dan. 8.3). This is a reference to the fact that this was a two-branded power, and that the leading branch— the Persian—was the younger. Thus does the Spirit of God take notice of a simple and well-known historical fact.
The Medo-Persian power was shown to Nebuchadnezzar as a breast and arms of silver, and pronounced "inferior" to his own (Dan. 2.39). This inferiority was not in extent of dominion, but in character of rule. Nebuchadnezzar was an absolute monarch—"whom he would he slew, and whom he would he kept alive; and whom he would he set up, and whom he would he put down" (Dan. 5.19). The succeeding power was more limited as to this, the princes, etc., playing an important part in the government. Thus Darius found himself unable to save an innocent man from the den of lions, though he greatly wished to do so. The empire that followed—the Grecian—was more military in its character, its ruler being, to a large degree, under the influence of his generals; while the Roman empire, shown as iron in the Babylonish king’s dream, was a strange blending of the imperial and the democratic.
The third monarchy appeared as a leopard having four wings on its back, and four heads (Dan. 7.6). This, as already observed, is the Grecian. Here it is important to make a few remarks as to the interpretation of these figures. It has been asserted that, in order to understand the visions of Daniel aright, the student must be well acquainted with the facts of ancient history. It has even been said that these throw light on the Word of God! Let the reader beware of admitting such an idea into the mind. The Word of God needs no human compositions to throw light on it — it is light itself, shining brightly for the blessing of our souls in the midst of darkness. It is admitted, of course, that historical facts confirm the Word of God when its prophecies have been fulfilled; but God has given His word that His saints may know His mind before the things come to pass, and are patent to everybody. If the student will but compare Scripture in prayerful dependence on the Holy Ghost, he will be able to grasp its import, even though he may be very deficient in his mind, as to many of the great historical events of the past.
—(to be continued D. V.)
by David McAllister (Zambia)
E. The Anomalies of Amillennialism.
It may be helpful to list some of the contradictions involved for an evangelical who holds Amillennialist teaching. This section is really a drawing together of points already made in previous sections, so a detailed discussion will not be given; the reader can refer back to earlier issues for this.
For a true believer who is an Amillennialist, he is in an anomalous position for many reasons, including:
- He claims to believe in the plenary inspiration of Scripture. This means that every word is inspired by God, and that thus the Scripture is totally infallible. Yet in holding Amillennialism, he is accepting a system which effectively says that not every part of Scripture is to be accepted as true.
- He claims to believe that Scripture is the only authority on all matters of doctrine and practice. But to introduce allegorical interpretation, is to leave the decision as to the meaning of Scripture open to the whims of men. Unless one accepts literal interpretation of prophecy, one can make it mean whatever one wants. There is nothing with which to control one’s whims. One is effectively introducing an authority outside God’s Word, and that "authority" is oneself, or whoever else one wants to believe!
- He claims to believe that it is impossible for God to lie. Yet Amillennialism effectively teaches that when God made certain promises, He never had it in His mind to fulfil them in the way in which the hearers understood them.
- He claims to believe that God is omnipotent, yet he effectively denies that God has the ability to perform what He has said. He raises all sorts of "practical difficulties" with literal fulfilment, forgetting that "with God nothing shall be impossible".
- He uses literal interpretation to study the Scriptures in general, but when it comes to prophecy, he changes his rules and uses allegorical interpretation. He thus abandons consistency of interpretation of Scripture.
- Even within prophecy, he is not consistent in his interpretation. With some prophecies (e.g. those concerning the Lord’s birth) he is happy to adopt the literal method, but with others (e.g. the coming kingdom) he rejects the literal method.
- In holding his view, he is holding doctrine which can be directly traced back, not to Scripture, but to heretics in the early days of the church age.
- He is in alliance with all sorts of present-day groups with which he would disagree on other major doctrines, such as Roman Catholics and Liberals.
- He is holding a system which, although it tries hard, fails, even by its own standards, to consistently explain away the prophetic passages. There are numerous examples of such inconsistencies, but we will confine ourselves to one:
Consider 3 facts taught in Revelation 20:
- Christ and His people reigning 1000 years (v.4,6).
- Satan being put in a bottomless pit for 1000 years and being able to deceive the nations no more (v.2,3).
- Satan being loosed after the 1000 years and deceiving the nations (v.7,8).
It is clear that the above 3 statements all refer to the same period of time. Even if the Amillennialist does not accept that it is literally 1000 years, he has to accept that it is the same period of time to which reference is made. He claims that the period of time is the present age, and the reigning being referred to is Christ at present reigning spiritually with His people. If this is true, then it must follow that:
- at present, Satan is bound, and is not deceiving the nations, and
- at the end of the age, Satan will be loosed again and will deceive the nations again.
He must hold these 2 things, according to his own scheme, for in the passage the binding of Satan is clearly concurrent with the reign of Christ, and then Satan is loosed. But this reveals big flaws in the Amillennialist’s argument:—
- If Satan is bound, in what sense is he bound at present? The Amillennialist simply has no satisfactory answer to this question. Whether he tries to say it is literal or spiritual, both arguments are equally impossible. And Revelation states that during his binding he will deceive the nations no more. Has this been the case, in any sense, during the past 2000 years? On the contrary, the whole course of the history of this age is a catalogue of Satan’s deception of the nations. The Amillennial line here is self-contradictory.
- If Satan is bound now, what is the meaning of the statement that he will be released again and deceive the nations again? This, no matter how it is taken, cannot be satisfactorily explained. The Amillennialist believes that the present age will continue as at present right to the end of the world, when Christ will return, raise the dead, judge everyone, consign some to glory and others to damnation, and then the eternal state will begin. Thus, in his own scheme, there is no place for anything corresponding to the releasing of Satan.
This is only one of numerous examples of the self-contradictions found in the Amillennial system.
Thus a brother who is an Amillennialist is really in a very anomalous position. We are not trying to suggest that he is deliberately denying inspiration, God’s power or character, allying himself with heretics, etc., but that unwittingly he is giving support to such ideas. For a liberal to hold Amillennialism is consistent with his position on the rest of Scripture. For a true believer to hold Amillennialism is to put him in an inconsistent position. None of us should want to be in such an anomalous position.
—(to be continued, D.V.)
by J. Riddle (Cheshunt)
THE CHURCH AND THE CHURCHES
(13) The Prayer Meeting (Part 3)
In our two previous studies on this subject, we have noticed the following from 1 Tim. 2:
1) WHAT WE ARE TO PRAY FOR, v.1-2
(i) Generally: "for all men", v.l. (ii) Particularly: "for kings and for all that are in authority", v.2.
2) WHY WE ARE TO PRAY LIKE THIS, v.3-7
- Because it is God’s will for all men to be saved, v.3-4.
- Because God has made it possible for all men to be saved, v.5-6a.
- Because this is the time for all men to be saved, v.6b-7.
This brings us to …
3) WHO IS TO LEAD THE PRAYERS, v.8-15
Paul deals with two important matters in these verses, (i) The position of men in the assembly, v.8. (ii) The position of women in the assembly, v.9-15. Whilst we must defer consideration of the latter for the time being, it might be helpful to notice that the passage deals with (a) The sobriety of the sisters, v.9-10, (b) The silence of the sisters, v.11-14, and (c) the salvation of the sisters, v.15. As to the men: "I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands without wrath and doubting". We must notice the following:
A) THE MEN ARE TO PRAY
We have substituted ‘the men’ for "men", and this requires explanation. Paul does not use the Greek word ‘anthropos’, which refers to men and women in general, but ‘aner’, which refers to male persons. Without making a general recommendation, even the NEB reads: ‘It is my desire, therefore, that everywhere prayers be said by the men of the congregation’. Now, let’s be positive about this. Of course, it implies a restriction on sisters, but it is also a strong incentive to brothers. The brothers are to pray — not to keep silent in the prayer meeting. J.M.S. Tait (‘Bells and Pomegranites’) puts it beautifully:
A word to silent brothers: Be slow to speak; but don’t be dumb, God wants you to be able to put a bridle on your tongue: Not lock it in a stable!
B) ONLY THE MEN ARE TO PRAY
That is, to pray publicly in leading the prayers. This requires investigation. Paul states in 1 Cor. 11.5, "But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoureth her head". See also vl3, "Judge in yourselves: it is comely that a woman pray unto God uncovered?" Prima facie, this seems to be on collision course with 1 Tim. 2, but even before that, it appears to collide with 1 Cor 14: "Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it not permitted unto them to speak; but… to be under obedience, as also saith the law. And if they will learn anything, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church", v.34-35.
Very clearly, there can be no conflict between these passages. Scripture cannot contradict itself. That would be a denial of divine inspiration. But what about 1 Cor. 11, where Paul appears to sanction public participation by sisters provided their heads are covered? The answer is simply that in 1 Cor. 11, Paul observes two errors in assembly conduct: (i) sisters were participating in assembly gatherings, and (ii), they were participating with uncovered heads. He therefore deals with the subject of headship alone in 1 Cor.ll, and with the question of public participation in assembly gatherings, by both brothers and sisters, in 1 Cor. 14. He deals with both matters at the right moment, and in the right context. Let that be a lesson to us all! Charles Hodge (‘1&2 Corinthians’) sums it up nicely: ‘It was Paul’s manner to attend to one thing at a time. He is here (1 Cor. 11) speaking of the impropriety of women speaking in public unveiled, and therefore says nothing about the propriety of their speaking in public itself. When that subject comes up, he expresses his judgement in the clearest terms, 14.34. In here disapproving of the one, says Calvin, he does not approve of the other’.
Some have endeavoured to make a case for sisters’ participation in public prayer by asserting that the words in 1 Tim. 2-9, "in like manner", mean: ‘when the sisters, in like manner to the men, pray, they are to adorn themselves in modest apparel.’ This suggestion is grammatically untenable. The sense is, ‘In like manner also, I will that women adorn themselves in modest apparel.’ The apostolic ‘will’ is seen in two parallel instructions: that the men pray everywhere, and that women adorn themselves in modest apparel.’ Once again, and without a general recommendation, the N.E.B. is perfectly clear: ‘Women again must dress in becoming manner’.
C) WHERE THE MEN ARE TO PRAY
"Everywhere." Literally, ‘in every place’. So there is no question of one assembly doing one thing, and another assembly doing something else. This does not mean slavish adherence to tradition, or set formulae. Every local assembly adjusts its meeting times, and methods of Gospel work etc., to local needs and conditions. Every local assembly has its own character and peculiarities. But Paul expected every local assembly to meet on the same principles. Hence 1 Cor. 11-16. "But if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the churches of God." See also 14.33, "For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints." So no assembly has the right to ‘do their own thing’. Each assembly is autonomous — but not independent of God’s word.
D) HOW THE MEN ARE TO PRAY
i) "Lifting up holy hands"
This is selfward. See Ps. 24.3-4, "Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? or who shall stand in His holy place? He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart".
Jam. 4-8, "Draw nigh to God, and He will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners". "Hands" speak of our deeds and dealings. There is a certain emphasis on "holy hands". See Jam. 5.16, "The effectual fervent prayer (‘supplication’) of a righteous man availeth much".
ii) "Without wrath"
That is, ‘without anger’. This is manward. There must be good relationships between one and another. In this connection, we should remember:
- Prayer is representative. The brother leading in prayer does so on behalf of the assembly, and expresses the concerns and thanksgiving of the entire company. Hence Acts 1.14, "These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication": Acts 4.24, "And when they heard that, they lifted up their voice to God with one accord." This means that if there is a divided mind in the assembly over a particular matter, the brother leading in prayer cannot voice his own point of view. He prays representatively.
- Prayer is vertical, not horizontal. We address God, not our fellow believers. It is not unknown, sadly, for a brother to have a ‘sly dig’ — maybe not so disguised sometimes — at someone else under the guise of praying to God. That is utterly disgraceful.
- Prayer is not ministry. We do need to remember Who we are addressing. There is certainly nothing wrong in quoting Scripture. The early church did this: see Acts 4.25-26. But to give a little exposition — complete with alliteration — is quite different. God knows exactly what His word means!
- Prayer ought to be considerate. Since we are praying representatively, we should not put too great a burden on our fellow-saints by praying at excessive length. Some brothers become spiritual locusts in the prayer meeting: they devour both time and subject! Perhaps we ought to add that prayer is not a substitute for assembly notices either!
iii) "Without doubting"
That is, ‘without reasoning’. This is Godward. Quite obviously, prayer must be made in absolute faith. "Let him ask in faith, nothing wavering", Jam. 1.6. See Matt. 21.22. Here are some other considerations:
- Priority in prayer. God’s interests must be put first. See the so-called ‘Lord’s prayer’. "Hallowed by Thy Name. Thy kingdom come,. Thy will be done". Only then do we read, "Give us this day our daily bread", Matt. 6.9-13.
- Reality in prayer. See Matt. 15.8, "This people draweth nigh unto Me with their mouth and honoureth Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me". Notice the reality of Epaphras’ prayer in Col. 4.12.
- Continuity in prayer. See Col. 4.2, "Continue in prayer": 1 Thess. 5.17, "Pray without ceasing": Rom. 12.12, "Continuing instant in prayer": Lk. 18.1, "Men ought always to pray, and not to faint". Note Acts 12.5, "Peter therefore was kept in prison; but prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him".
Preachers are certainly not wrong when they tell us that the prayer meeting is ‘the powerhouse of the assembly’. Be there!
(Meditations in Matthew)
by Jim Flanigan (Belfast)
6. The King’s Forerunner (Ch.3)
Thirty years have now passed since the events of Ch.1. The King has lived unknown and unrecognised in Galilee. But the time has now come for His manifestation to Israel and accordingly His herald will prepare the way.
John Baptist has been likened to Elijah. Indeed it was in the spirit of that prophet that he had come (Matt. 11.13-14). In his dress, in his diet, in his dwelling, and in his deportment, he was so like Elijah. His preaching was a wilderness ministry. He ministered in the dry ground where there was little fruit for God. John did not preach in the city. If Jerusalem would hear him then Jerusalem must go to him in the wilderness. This was the character of the man and his ministry. He was a voice crying in the wilderness.
John’s preaching was plain and powerful. There was an urgency with it too. The Kingdom of the Heavens was at hand and in view of it John had but one purpose in life. He demanded a preparation for the coming of the King. John’s cloak of camel hair and his girdle of leather were in keeping with his message. There was no finery or worldly appeal, and there would be no yielding. His food was plain too. He ate locusts and wild honey. There may have been, as some think, a locust tree, bearing edible pods. These may indeed have been his food rather than the locust as we normally think of it. But in any case, the locust as we know it was clean to eat and is specifically mentioned in the dietary laws of Lev. 11.22. There were too, wild bees of the woods and the wilderness providing honey (Exod. 3.8; 1 Sam. 14.26). John did not eat with men or socialise with them (Matt. 11.18). He was a man apart, separated and dedicated to his unique ministry.
Many went out to John from the city and from the province. Those who responded to his message were baptised by him in the River Jordan. It was, in symbol, the river of death and judgment. Such baptism was an act of repentance, a confession of sins. But with the common people there came also Pharisees and Sadducees to the baptism. No doubt they came but to see the strange prophet and to analyse and criticise his ministry. John was severe with them. They were a generation of vipers. They were as cunning and as poisonous as that old Serpent himself. Why had they come? Who had warned them to flee from the wrath to come? John demanded repentance and evidence of it. To boast that Abraham was their forefather would not avail. God could raise up children from the very stones that lay about them. God would indeed move in judgment against them. Like an axe felling the trees God would cut down the fruitless among them. They would be hewn down and destroyed in the ensuing fire.
John’s ministry was a ministry of law. It exposed sin and revealed man’s great need, and warned of coming judgment. But John’s greatest ministry was to introduce Christ. The Coming One was mightier than the forerunner. He would be as one winnowing on the threshing floor, gathering in the wheat and driving away the chaff. John baptised with water, but the Messiah would baptise with the Holy Spirit and with fire. John here brings together, in one clause, two events which are separated in time by many centuries. The Day of Pentecost and the Day of Judgment may be far apart in actual fulfilment, but in the preaching and in the purpose of God they were both assured.
"Then", as John was so preaching, Jesus came. The Coming One had arrived from Galilee. With no sins to confess and with no need of repentance, He would, nevertheless, take His place with a remnant people and would stand with them in the waters of death. Was this a foreshadowing of that later day when He would be numbered with the transgressors, Himself a sinless Man? John protests at the Saviour’s request for baptism. It ought to be the other way, he says, that the King should baptise the herald; Messiah should baptise the forerunner. But Jesus insists. It was becoming that, together, the King and His herald should fulfil all righteousness, and so, together, the Baptist and His Lord stood in the Jordan. John’s ministry, though brief, was drawing to a close. The porter was opening the door for the Shepherd. John was a burning and a shining lamp, but the lamp must be extinguished when the Light appears. The law and the prophets were until John, but now the long promised Messiah and Saviour had come and the law and the prophets must withdraw. John’s ministry is at an end.
The heavens were opened. As Jesus went up out of the water the Spirit of God descended like a dove and abode upon Him. It is another John who observes that it was then that the Saviour was pointed out as the Lamb of God (John 1.29). The gentle, heavenly Dove descends to rest upon the meek and lowly Lamb. Then, lo, a voice from the opened heaven. There are two voices in this chapter (v.3,17). One voice is human and the other is divine. One is from wilderness and the other is from the heavens. But the voices agree.
They both speak well of Christ and draw attention to Him. Good is it for that preacher whose voice is in harmony with the voice of God, whose message accords with the message of heaven. "This is my beloved Son" the Father proclaims. Jesus of Nazareth, Jesus, Son of Mary, is the Son of the Father, the Son of God, the Beloved. So it was, that in those earliest moments of His years of public ministry, there was a heavenly approval of the Lord Jesus. "In whom I am well pleased". "In whom I have found my delight."
Thirty years of pleasure He had given to His Father in Nazareth. The Father’s tribute here is retrospective. It is an appreciation of those thirty delightful years, when, in the parched and barren ground that was Israel, there grew up before Him a tender plant, fragrant and beautiful, bringing immeasurable joy to God’s heart. So we love to sing of Him —
It is the believer’s high privilege to share the Father’s delight in His Son. It is our joy to commune with God in the matter of the beauties and the excellencies of Christ. May we increase and abound in our knowledge of the Saviour and in our desire after Him who is the Beloved, the joy of His Father’s heart.
— to be continued (D. V.)
by D. Mowat (Finland)
By seeking to answer four questions we have considered modern tongues speaking. However, there are a number of other questions on the subject which are asked frequently. Some of these are now considered in the light of scripture only.
Questions and Answers
1. In 1 Cor. 13.1, Paul speaks about ‘the tongues of men and of angels.’ Does this not prove that tongues was an angelic, heavenly language?
As with all Scripture interpretation, it is vital to examine the context in which any statement is made. In this passage, Paul is showing how absolutely vital love is. We can have great abilities, but if we have not love, they are worthless.
In verses 1 to 4, Paul is using hyperbole or exaggeration to make his point. For example in v.2 he says ‘And though I have (the gift of) prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.’ It ought to be obvious to us that no Christian will ever know absolutely everything here on earth, nor be able to physically remove mountains. The context makes it clear that Paul is using hyperbole to express his point as forcefully as possible.
In referring to angels, Paul is speaking of the highest form of creation. Were it possible to talk with the power, authority and eloquence of an angel, it would be completely worthless if love is absent.
To wrench this statement out of its context and apply it to speaking in tongues is a defective interpretation.
2. You say that speaking in tongues was the ability to speak in a language which was capable of being understood. What does Paul mean when he says ‘For he that speaketh in an (unknown) tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God: for no man understandeth (him); howbeit in the spirit he speaketh mysteries.’ (1 Cor. 14.2-3)?
In this passage, Paul is clearly showing the contrasting values of the gifts of prophecy and tongues. The Corinthians were placing an undue emphasis on the ‘spectacular’ gift of tongues. Paul writes to show them that prophecy is far more profitable and valuable. The reason for no man understanding the tongues-speaker in this passage is simply that there is no interpreter present. A man exercising the gift of tongues without an interpreter is not speaking to men — for the simple reason that no-one can understand-what he is saying. ‘In the spirit he speaketh mysteries’ refers to the same thing. What he is saying is not understood by those present because there is no interpreter. This does not mean that no human is capable of understanding the gift of tongues, as Acts chapter 2 clearly shows.
3. Doesn’t Paul teach that the tongues-speaker didn’t understand what he himself was saying? ‘Wherefore let him that speaketh in an (unknown) tongue pray that he may interpret. For I pray in an (unknown) tongue, my spirit prayeth, but my understanding is unfruitful. (1 Cor. 14.13-14).
The previous verse is most important: ‘Even so ye, forasmuch as ye are zealous of spiritual (gifts), seek that ye may excel to the edifying of the church.’ (1 Cor. 14.12). In other words, Paul underlines the importance of benefiting the church. We can then understand his next statement. A tongues-speaker was of no benefit to the church without an interpreter. It seems that everyone wanted to speak in tongues at Corinth, but in order to benefit the church, there must be interpretation. This verse does not mean that the tongues-speaker did not understand what he was saying, rather Paul is placing emphasis on the importance of interpretation. Instead of everyone wanting to speak in tongues, they ought to place a higher value on the gift of interpretation.
Regarding ‘my understanding is unfruitful’, Paul is not stating that the man does not understand what he is saying in prayer. The expression ‘my understanding’ is in what is known as the objective genitive. It does not mean what / understand when I speak but what others understand when I speak. The speaker understands, but the church does not, hence the ‘unfruitfulness’. Paul goes on to say 7 will pray with the understanding.’ i.e. in a language that is capable of being understood by all.
4. Doesn’t Paul say that the purpose of the gift is to edify oneself? ‘He that speaketh in an (unknown) tongue edifieth himself; but he that prophesieth edifieth the church. (1 Cor. 14.4).
On the contrary, a close examination of this passage shows that Paul teaches the very reverse.
The Holy Spirit gave gifts for the edification of the church. In ch.12.7 Paul says ‘But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal (or, to mutual profit).’ Gifts were never intended for personal, private benefit. This is the key to 1 Cor. 14.
In the opening verses, Paul states that the prophet edifies the church — this was the proper use of the gift. However, if someone speaks in tongues without an interpreter, this will benefit no-one — apart from himself. He will be the only one who will understand.
Far from being the proper use of the gift, this was an abuse of the gift. A careful reading of these verses will show clearly that Paul is contrasting the profitability of prophecy with the gift of tongues. Prophecy edifies the church; tongues edifies no-one apart from the speaker himself. This is not the proper use of the gift but rather an unfortunate consequence of speaking in tongues without an interpreter.
5. Was it spiritual or beneficial to pray in tongues?
The short answer is: ‘no’. As we have already noticed, the gift was given to be a sign to the unbelieving Jews. When it was used in the church then the tongues message was to be interpreted for the benefit of the whole church.
Paul mentions it in connection with prayer in ch. 14.13-17 ‘Wherefore let him that speaketh in an (unknown) tongue pray that he may interpret. For if I pray in an (unknown) tongue, my spirit prayeth, but my understanding is unfruitful. What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also: I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also. Else when thou shalt bless with the spirit, how shall he that occupieth the room of the unlearned say Amen at they giving of thanks, seeing he understandeth not what thou sayest? For thou verily givest thanks well, but the other is not edified.’
Here, Paul shows the absurdity of using the gift of tongues in prayer. If no-one else understands, then it is an unfruitful contribution. How can anyone say ‘Amen’, if they cannot understand what you are saying? The teaching on this is very clear.
Some claim that tongues was intended as a ‘private prayer-language’, which should be exercised privately. Verse 2 is quoted to support this — ‘For he that speaketh in an (unknown) tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God: for no man understandeth (him); howbeit in the spirit he speaketh mysteries.’ As we have already noted, this verse has nothing to do with prayer. The reason why the tongues-speaker ‘speaks not to men, but God’ is very simple — no one can understand the language he is speaking. In the context Paul is saying that he ought to be speaking to men.
It is very interesting to note that the subject of prayer is dealt with thoroughly elsewhere in the New Testament — in not one instance is tongues even referred to. When the disciples asked the Lord to teach them to pray, why didn’t the Lord tell them about tongues? In 1 Tim. ch.2, where Paul gives directions as to prayer in the church, again tongues is not mentioned. The Lord Jesus never once prayed in tongues. There is no record of Paul himself ever praying in tongues.
The clear teaching of Scripture is that God never intended tongues to be used as a prayer-language.
6. In 1 Cor. 13, doesn’t ‘that which is perfect’ refer to the coming of the Lord? If so, tongues must continue until that point.
As we have already noted, the Scriptures do not teach that tongues will continue until that which is perfect is come. According to this chapter, tongues peter out at an earlier date, but the special gifts of prophecy and knowledge continue until ‘that which is perfect is come.’
Many commentators take the view that the Lord’s coming, or the future kingdom, is referred to here. The author does not hold his view for the following reasons:
- In verse 9 Paul says ‘For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.’ These gifts have to do with a supernatural revelation of the mind and will of God. They were given to meet immediate needs and problems of the early church. Now that we have the full Scriptures, we have in them a full revelation of God’s will for us. The gifts of prophecy and supernatural knowledge do not exist today. They have already ceased.
- To say that special gifts of prophecy and knowledge continue today would suggest that God’s revelation is still progressing. The Scriptures form the complete revelation of God needed for this dispensation. The teacher of the word replaces the New Testament prophet (see 2 Peter 2.1). The church is ‘built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets’ (Eph. 2.20). In other words, the gift of prophecy was foundational, operating only in the early days of church history. In the same way that there are no apostles, there are no New Testament prophets.
- In the chapter, Paul says that prophecies, tongues and the special gift of knowledge will pass away. He then states that faith, hope and love remain (v.13), but the greatest of these is love — it never fails (v.8).
In other words, four stages are envisaged.
- In stage 1, these three gifts exist.
- In stage 2, tongues has petered out, but prophecy and knowledge still operate.
- In stage 3, the gifts of prophecy and knowledge have passed away and faith, hope and love remain.
- In stage 4, love alone remains.
At the present day, we are living in stage 3. When the Lord comes, faith will be replaced by sight and our hope will be realised in Him. To say that the miraculous gifts are with us until the Lord comes would mean that faith and hope still are exercised after His coming.
We should add that whichever view is held, it does not change that fact that the gift of tongues peters out before -‘that which is perfect is come.’
7. Jesus Christ is the same ‘yesterday, today and forever.’ Does this not mean that He works in the same way today as He did in the beginning?
The Lord Jesus is certainly the same and unchanging through the ages. However, God does work in different ways in different times. For example, God provided the church with apostles. Where are the apostles today? There are no apostles now. In the infancy of the church, God provided certain foundational gifts and ministries which are no longer necessary of available today.
Yes, Christ is the same, but He does work in different ways.
8. How do you explain the fact that many sincere, genuine Christians claim to experience ‘speaking in tongues’ today?
Many sincere Christians have been taught to expect these experiences and have sought them without even consulting the Word of God. Invariably, such experiences are not in accordance with the Word of God and the ‘tongues’ which is spoken bears no resemblance to the original gift.
Sadly, many sincere Christians can be deceived by their own emotional and ‘spirit’ experiences unto accepting and glorying in something which is contrary to the Word of God.
by the late J. Douglas (Scotland)
We now look at the material the Spirit would employ to carry on the testimony.
- Ordinary folk to bear testimony to an Extraordinary Person (Our Lord).
- Some in Obscurity, Others in Publicity.
- The Lord decides it, it is ours to accept it.
- The Internal is as important as the External.
- The Armour Bearer, is as important as the Leader.
- The sister is as important as the brother.
We notice, those who Broke Bread in Luke 22, were at the Prayer Meeting in Acts 1 and also at the Open Air Meeting in Acts 2. They were Giving to God, Getting from God, Standing for God.
These are essential links in the chain of fellowship.
As we look at the early Acts, we feel like the old men, we would be justified in shedding tears (Ezra 3.12), but we feel we would.-not be justified in doing what they did in Haggai 2.3. This would be discouragement to any tendency to have a likeness to the pattern.
- Think of Great Power in Preaching (Acts 4.32):
- Think of Great Grace in Liberality (Acts 4.32):
- Think of Great Fear in Discipline (Acts 5.5).
We now look at the characteristics of those who formed the Early Church. What lessons could be learned if we turned back upon their history as given us in the Four Gospels but we content ourselves for present study with what is given us here in the early Acts.
— Ch. 3.6
- No Pence – But Power:
- Like Smyrna – Unlike Laodicea.
- Like the Lord whose cause they represent —
- Characterised by the poverty of earth, but possessing the wealth of Heaven.
- Poor but making many Rich.
— Ch. 4.13
- Unlearned and Ignorant – No letters but likeness.
- They had not graduated from the schools of men, but they had been with Jesus.
- Not Gamaliel but Christ.
- Not the wisdom of Egypt — A Diplomat:
- The Backside of the Desert — A Shepherd:
- They were with the King — Commission:
- For the King’s Work — Commission:
- For the King’s Work — Service:
v13 Peter — Energy and John — Affection.
In the verse there is their:-
- Courage — boldness;
- Character — unlearned and ignorant;
- Company — been with Jesus;
- Confirmation — could say nothing against it. Go thou and do likewise.
Amongst these characters comes to view a man called Barnabas. He is taken from the many of Acts 4.34 and brought into Publicity. He would serve as an encouragement and as a warning.
- He started well; went on well; did not end well.
- His Name means Son of Consolation — what he did; Son of Exhortation — what he said.
- As is his Name, so is he. Practitioner and Preacher, Epistle and Evangelist.
- He is one of two men who are said to be Good.
- Joseph of Arimathea, his goodness was experienced in relationship to Christ.
- Barnabas in relationship to the Church.
- The two together express the Hebrew Servant.
- The one said — I love my Master:
- The other said — I love His House.
Here is His sacrifice, he forms links with another two men.
- Theophilus gave up his Title, lost his Place among Men.
- Barnabas gave up his Wealth, made himself dependent upon God.
- Stephen gave up his Life displaying likeness to Christ.
Each sacrificially contributing to the maintaining of what Christ set up based upon the sacrifice of Calvary.
- It cost us nothing to get saved, it cost our Lord everything. How much has it cost since we were saved?
- The Cross has to be Endured, if the Crown is to be Enjoyed.
- So we see here
- v34 the many and the obscurity.
- v35 Barnabas, Publicity,
- Ch. 5v1 Ananias and Sapphira, Hypocrisy. Grace and Government.
— Ch. 9
- Here Barnabas plays a part in the reception of Paul to the local assembly.
- He is rejected on his own testimony, but is received on the testimony of Barnabas.
- In their case they keep out what is real. In our carelessness we let in what is unreal.
- Was carefulness begotten by the experience of Acts 8? Simon the Sorcerer, — deception.
Believed, Baptized, Continued.
- He who commends is as important as he who is commended.
- Barnabas holds all he has for the Assembly therefore his word can be taken by the Assembly.
- The testimony borne is threefold —
- had Seen Him (Conversion),
- Spoke to Him (Commission),
- Preached boldly (Service)
- Thus he who was rejected is now accepted. Is not this our pattern for us today?
- The real will welcome it. The unreal will dread it.
- Hezekiah repaired the Doors.
- While men slept the enemy sowed tares,
- the birds that attacked the seed (Prevention)
- also took lodgement in the branches (Amalgamation).
- In Jude, they creep in (Deception).
- In Galatians, they are brought in (Influence).
- If God is working, let us acknowledge it. If Satan is working, let us watch it.
- God knows the Heart (Internal), we judge the Life (External).
— Ch. 11.22
- He who holds everything for the Church, ch. 4, and
- can bear Testimony to the Church, ch. 9,
- Can be trusted by the Church Ch 11.
News has reached Jerusalem of God’s doings among the Gentiles, connected with the stoning of Stephen and the scattering of the disciples.
- God again turns Tragedy into Triumph.
- The Hatred of Man, The Grace of God.
- Barnabas comes to Confirm not to Establish,
- v 23 He has an Eye to see it.
- v 23 He has a Heart to appreciate it.
- v 23 He has a Ministry to encourage it.
- v 24 The reason was, he was a good man (Character), full of the Holy Spirit (Spirituality), and faith (Trust in God).
—to be concluded (D.V.)
by David Ogden, (Luton, England).
II. — The Picture of the Saviour — Contemplated Doctrinally
In the first paper we noted that Naphtali and his blessing in Gen. 49 can be considered in three ways:
- The Portrayal of the Tribe. — Considered Historically.
- The Picture of the Saviour. — Contemplated Doctrinally.
- The Pattern for the Saint. — Conveyed Practically.
We now come to the second of these considerations:—
Here is the great glory of Naphtali, for their tribal land was the scene of much of the Lord’s earthly ministry, especially Capernaum and the Lake of Galilee, Matt. 4.15. It has already been observed that His abiding in the land of Naphtali is seen to be the fulfilment of Isa. 9.2. Truly in Him are seen the features of Naphtali, though He was of Judah’s line according to human descent; the hind let loose, giving goodly words. Here manifest in the flesh was the One who is the true blessing of the Lord, (Deut. 32.23) even though the tribe neither appreciated or received Him. There is a significance in that word "hind." The hind is the female. One characteristic is submissiveness and gentleness. How very appropriate is this to the Lord’s character seen on earth. One in relation to His God, the other in His grace to men. How necessary for the believer to be like minded.
The Hind let loose, He giveth goodly words:
- Eternally — He is the Lord from Heaven:
- In His Messiahship — He is the Man of Bethlehem:
- In His Manhood — He is the Man of Nazareth:
- In His Earthly Ministry —He is the Man of Galilee:
- Mocked, and among the Malefactors — He is the Man of Calvary:
- In His Mediatorship — He is the Man at God’s Right Hand:
- In His Majesty — He is the Man on the Throne:
He has come out from the mountains of Eternity, He is the Hind of the Morning. This is the title of Ps. 22, so expressive of His work on the Cross. The bride in the Song of Solomon 2.9, saw the bridegroom as a roe or young hart standing behind the -wall, showing himself at the lattice and that is how the Lord reveals Himself. On earth to a few, now still to a few. She pictured him leaping on the mountains, skipping on the hills, 2.8. The prophet prayed that the Lord would "come down and that the mountains would flow down at his presence", Isa. 64.1. Mountains are precious in the life of the Lord Jesus. On mountains He taught. It was from a mountain that He went to Heaven, it is to that same mountain He will return, Zech. 14.4.
Like the majestic hart He came and yet He was hunted, the archers shot sore at Him. The hart pants for living waters. Ps. 42.1. — He is One who gives living waters, John 4.14. He is the true man of Naphtali. His was not a birth after the flesh. He is the true City of Refuge as well as being the High Priest that can never die. He won a greater fight than Barak ever did. Hiram contributed to the Temple, He fills it with His glory: the greater than the Temple. Men of Naphtali went to David. He is the true David — still rejected but with His own around Him.
Every Word of His was goodly, He spake and it was done.
- In Eternity — a word of ACCEPTANCE: "Lo, I come, …. to do Thy will O My God", Heb. 10.7.
- On the Cross — a word of ACCOMPLISHMENT: "It is finished", John 19.30.
- For the Present — a word of ASSURANCE: "I am He that liveth", Rev. 1.18.
- As to the Future — a word of ANTICIPATION: "Surely I come quickly", Rev. 22.20.
Of Him it alone it could be said, "Never man spake like this man", John 7.46. Grace was truly poured into his lips, Ps. 45.2. His were words of:
- GENTLENESS: "Damsel, I say unto thee arise", Mark 5.41;
- GLORY: What if ye shall see the Son of Man ascend up where He was before", John 6.62;
- GOODNESS: "I will, be thou clean", Mark 1.41;
- GRACE: "Neither do I condemn thee", John 8.11;
- GREATNESS: "I and my Father are one", John 10.30;
- GUIDANCE: "Take up thy Cross and follow me", Mark 10.21.
Many of His miracles were performed in Galilee. His parables sometimes reflected life around the sea shore and in the country. Much of his teaching was done there. For the first time Naphtali’s land heard goodly words and saw the true light.
The bands of death having now been loosed, Acts 2.24. He is now seen in resurrection power. There are still Goodly words.:
- OF REASSURANCE: "And behold I am with you all the days, until the completion of the age" Matt. 28.20. (JND);
- OF REPRESENTATION: "He ever liveth to make intercession for them", Heb. 7.28;
- OF REVELATION: "I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending", Rev. 1.8.
—(To be continued D. V.)
Reflection upon any year that has passed, must produce a mixture of emotions – joy, sadness, disappointment, regret and a sense of failure, etc. We do not always achieve what we set out to achieve at the beginning of the year, and no matter how sincere we are in our determining to do this or that, sadly the many opportunities come and go, and we fail to grasp them.
How good to be linked to a God Who neither fails nor can fail. All that He purposes will surely come to pass, down to the most minute detail. Such a God knows us with all our failure and sin. He pardons, restores and takes up the failing one and continues to use us despite our weakness.
It is good to remember then, that whether we fail or succeed or whether we are joyful or sad or whether we wake or sleep, the Word of God is still circulating by word of mouth and printed page. Such, which ". . . goeth forth out of My mouth: it shall not return unto Me void . . ."
Our aim is to propagate the truth of the scriptures through the Assembly Testimony magazine, and we appreciate all who have contributed either by articles, prayer or finance. We recognize too the invaluable work of the Editor, the Secretary, and the Accountant and express our thanks accordingly.
We do trust that the ministry contained in the magazine, may instruct, edify and encourage all who read it.
by James N. Smith (U.S.A.)
My father was raised "Salvation Army" and my mother "Anglican." Father was saved by God’s grace at 17 years of age and mother, following their marriage, a few years later, while hearing the gospel preached for the third time in the Gospel Hall at Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada. That year I was their firstborn and consequently raised in the favoured atmosphere of the activities of the assembly of God.
My earliest recollection of divine impressions on my soul was just before beginning school at the age of six. One of the Lord’s servants, Frank Carboni, was staying with us while working the Italian section of the city with the gospel. I thought these men were great men and enjoyed their company. While companying with Mr. Carboni after his afternoon’s labours he asked me to retrieve for him from the porch a long rusty nail, which I did. Quietly and solemnly he pressed that long nail into the palm of my hand until I thought surely he would break the skin. He explained the sufferings of the Lord Jesus upon Calvary to me and repeated often that the reason for those sufferings was because of who I was and what I had done. The seriousness of sin against God never left me and frequently arose in my thinking sometimes while in school and many times while alone in bed. I tried often to understand the preaching of the gospel hoping to find relief from the consciousness of my sin before God.
The night of my conversion was at the age of nine years while visiting relatives in Toronto, Ontario. After the gospel meeting on Sunday night as I made my way to sit alone in the back seat of father’s car I said to myself, "you’ve missed it again". God spoke to me while there alone about eternity and I said in response, "yes, if I die tonight I’ll go straight to hell, and that’s all I deserve anyway". I knew within myself, tonight I must get salvation or I’ll probably never get it. While speaking with my father at the house it seemed to me to be getting darker and farther away. I tried so hard to get God to move toward me by desperately trying to produce anxiety and faith that would please Him. Father read to me 1 John 5:9 "He that believeth not God made Him a liar". In my simplicity I interpreted that to mean that because I could not give God what He was looking for I had made Him a liar and therefore there was no hope for me. I was lost and would surely go to hell. In the midst of those thoughts there came to me the words of Romans 5:6 "For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly". It dawned into my heart that God was trying to tell me that the Lord Jesus upon Calvary had taken my place and had done for me what I could never do for myself. I thanked Him for those words thereby believing Him and thus received the blessed assurance that I was saved from judgement which I so deserved. The next morning at breakfast John 5.24 was read and joy and peace flooded my heart. I knew I had eternal life.
The Niagara Falls, Ontario, assembly was a gospel minded assembly engaged with three open-airs a week and two tract distributions per week, summer and winter besides the normal activities of Sunday School, week night children’s meetings, prayer and Bible readings and Lord’s Day gospel meeting. After being baptized at age 16 and received into the assembly we were encouraged to participate wherever possible in these exercises. A love for the gospel was graciously bred in my mind and heart by the Holy Spirit. With time my younger brother and I were encouraged to hire buildings in adjoining towns in which to hold meetings. This responsibility with its accompanying errors and joys only furthered the desire to see precious souls reached for Christ and eternity.
When beginning to keep company with Margaret who became my beloved wife, I felt responsible to let her know my exercise to respond to the exercise in my heart to give my full time to the preaching of the gospel, which I felt the Lord was leading me to do. To my great joy and surprise she confided to me that she also was exercised in this fashion and should we continue to keep company that she would support me. After our marriage and having mutually decided not to expose our exercise in case it really was not from God, it seemed almost inevitable that we make a decision before God whether we were willing to yield ourselves to Himself for this work or not. Whether right or wrong we asked the Lord to graciously answer our prayer by giving to us three evidences of water upon the fleece. Firstly, that our overseers would approach us on their own and ask us if we were thinking in this way. Secondly, that one of the Lord’s servants would write to us and ask if we were exercised about the work. Thirdly, that the Lord would in due order bring a buyer for our house that it would be evident that it was Himself that sent them. We truthfully feared greatly lest we were moved by much activity and thus only excited or that the evidences of God’s accompanying blessing in the gospel were His own way of saying "I will make you fishers of men". To our trembling and yet grateful hearts within two weeks we received a letter from a brother labouring in the gospel telling us that he had been thinking about us and wondering what our exercise may be to join him for a set of gospel meetings. We had not been in communication with this man practically so the letter had to be laid before the Lord as from Himself. That same week the brethren asked to speak to me, saying they appreciated the interest in the assembly’s activities and should there arise a desire for further work to please contact them. Together we prayed as I told them of the apparent exercise and confirmation by their counsel. After another six months we felt as one brother said, "Jim, we’re ready whenever you are to admit you cannot serve two masters and the Lord Jesus must come first". We, still somewhat fearful and yet grateful, accepted their commendation to the Lord and His work in the gospel and to the edification of the assemblies of God’s planting. The next day our third request was quickly and fully answered.
After more than 40 years I would only say, "He is the best of Masters, a Friend that sticketh closer than a brother". "Our God is great and He doeth great things and His greatness is unsearchable.
We often hear men making general statements They say, "Everybody knows that ", or "it is obvious to all that ", or "it is clear to every thinking person" These are statements used to imply that anyone who disagrees with the speaker is in the minority and should really be very hesitant, even to the point of embarrassment, to express their dissention Yet if a person’s general statement is analysed it will be found to be generally wrong However when God makes general statements they are always factual, undeniable and absolutely correct Some of God’s general statements are as follows and ought to receive the undivided attention of all readers since they affect us everyone Romans 3 9, "we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin", Galatians 3.22, "the scripture hath concluded all under sin".
These two quotations teach that every person is dominated by sin and God’s blanket conclusion omits no one, not even you, dear reader It is the same in the Old Testament, both the Psalmist and the Prophet concur as to God’s conclusion Psalm 14.3, "They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy there is none that doeth good, no, not one", Isaiah 53.6, "All we like sheep have gone astray, we have turned every one to his own way ".
God gives all men a commandment, Acts 17.30, God "now commandeth all men every where to repent" Repentance means a complete about turn involving a sorrow for and a forsaking of, sin It is illustrated in the experience of the younger son in Luke 15. He left his father’s house thinking there was nothing there for him and the far country had all that he required He came to understand he was all wrong and was sorry he ever left home That sorrow in itself never brought him near to the father He had to be active and return home It is when a person realises God is right and he is wrong and exercising his will, returns to God, the welcome will be experienced.
The only basis on which this can be done without compromising the initial conclusion of God, is that laid when His Son died on the cross 1 John 2.2, "He (the Lord Jesus Christ) is the propitiation for our sins and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world " We come into the benefit of that death when we trust Jesus Christ as our Saviour Romans 3.22, "Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe for there is no difference".
The refusal of salvation involves damnation for all Revelation 20.15, "whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire ".
It would be very prudent on your part to avail yourself of this great salvation which is offered generally John 3.15, "That whosoever beheveth in Him should not perish, but have eternal life For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever beheveth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life", Romans 10.13, "whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved", Revelation 22.17, "whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely "
Christians who are always talking about being in the right position yet bringing forth no fruit for God are like a hen sitting on rotten eggs — the position is all right but the condition is all wrong.— Donald Ross
- All His joy, His rest, His pleasure,
- All His deep delight in Thee;
- Lord, Thy heart alone can measure
- What Thy Father found in Thee,
- How He set His love upon Thee,
- Called Thee His beloved Son;
- Yet for us He did not spare Thee,
- By Thy death our life was won.