THE BLESSED HOPE
by D. M. Martin
by E. W. Rogers
THE EPISTLE BY JAMES
by E. R Bower
THE MINISTRY OF THE RISEN LORD
by The Late J. B. Hewitt
GOD UNRECOGNISED AND UNWANTED
by The Late W. W. Fereday
CHRIST OUR BURNT OFFERING
By D. M. Clark
THE BELIEVER’S PRESENT POSSESSIONS
by The Late Walter Scott
MY CONVERSION AND CALL
by J.B. Currie
THE BLESSED HOPE
by D. M. MARTIN, Dorset
Part VIII—The Apostasy and the Antichrist.
In the interval between the rapture of the saints and the appearing, of Christ to reign, the earth will be the scene of some of the most awful events which the world has ever witnessed. Among these will be the Apostasy — the open abandonment of all profession of Christianity, yes, the denial of the Father and the Son and Ihe appearance of the man of sin, the son of perdition, or the antichrist. "Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son". (1. John. 2.22).
Paul has given us distinct and precise instruction upon these subjects. False teachers had sought to disturb the minds of the Thessalonian believers by alleging that the day of the Lord was already come (see, 2 Thess. 2.1-4). We are therefore plainly warned that "the falling away" (the apostasy), and the man of sin, will be seen in the interval between the rapture of the saints and the day of the Lord. As another has explained this scripture: "Their gathering together unto Christ in the air was a demonstration of the impossibility of the day of the Lord being already come." With regard to this Paul presents two considerations. Firstly, the day could not have already come, since believers were not gathered to the Lord, and they were to come WITH HIM, secondly, the wicked one who was then to be judged had not yet appeared, so that the judgement could not be executed. The apostle proceeds to show that until the Church is caught away this consummation and embodiment of wickedness cannot be reached. (Cf. w. 6-8). In the light of this and other scriptures we may trace a little both of ‘the falling away’ (Apostasy) and the man of sin (Antichrist).
Apostasy is a continual danger to the Church, and the New Testament contains repeated warnings against it. (1. Tim. 4. 1-3; 2 Thess. 2.3; 2 Pet. 3.17.). Its nature is clear ‘departing from the faith’ and ‘from the living God’ (Heb. 3.12). It increases in times of special trial (Matt. 24.9,10. & Luke. 8.13) and is encouraged by false teachers (Matt. 24.11; Gal. 2.4;) who seduce believers from the purity of the Word with ‘ another gospel’ (Gal. 1.6-8; 2. Tim. 4.3,4; 2. Pet. 2.1,2; Jude. 3,4.) The impossibility of restoration after apostasy is solemnly taught. (Heb. 6.4.-6 & 10.26).
And it is not a little remarkable, as one has said," that apostasy will develop itself under the three forms in which man has been in relationship to God: NATURE — it is the man of sin unrestrained, who exalts himself. JUDAISM: — he sits in the temple of God. CHRISTIANITY: it is to this that the term apostasy is directly applied in 2 Thess. 2. How fearful the prospect! And how sad it is to notice this mystery of iniquity so plainly working in the present day, boldly rearing its head in the pulpits of Christendom, and proclaiming without let or hindrance, doctrines which subvert the very foundations of revealed truth, and thereby preparing the way, as soon as the Church is gone, for the advent of the man of sin.
This expression antichristos is found only in John’s epistles. (1. John. 2.18,22; 4.3; 2. John. 7) but the idea behind it is widespread. We should probably understand the force of ANTI as indicating opposition, rather than false claim, that is, the antichrist is one who opposes Christ rather than the one who claims to be the Christ. If this is so, then we should include under the heading antichrist such scriptures as Dan. 7.7,21, 2 Thess. 2, and those parts of the Revelation which deal with the strong opposition that the forces of evil use to resist Christ in the last days.
Paul does not use the term antichrist but the ‘man of sin’ of whom he writes in 2 Thess. 2.3, clearly refers to the same being. The characteristic of this individual is that he opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped (verse. 4) He claims to be God.
Now it must be distinctly understood that antichrist is not a figurative term for some evil principle or system, but that it indicates an actual person. Whoever will take the trouble to read the various scriptures in which he is mentioned will at once perceive this not to be a Gentile, but a Jew. Indeed he will present himself as the Messiah in his antagonism to Christ, and thus he is termed ‘the king’ in Daniel, who speaking of him, says that he will not regard the God of his fathers, plainly pointing out his Jewish lineage as well as his apostate character. He tells us that he will exalt himself above every God, and shall speak marvellous things against the God of gods, and shall prosper till the indignation be accomplished for that is determined shall be done. (Dan. 11. 36-45, et. seq).
If we turn to Revelation, we shall see both his rise and the character of his actions described. Before, however, entering upon this, it will be necessary to recall our attention to the Gentile monarchies; three of which will precede, and the last be contemporaneous with the antichrist. Those of Babylon, Medo-Persia, and Greece have appeared, and passed away. The fourth, symbolised by the legs of iron, and the feet of iron and clay is the last: for in the vision which Nebuchadnezzar saw ‘ a stone cut out without hands, which smote the image upon its feet that were of iron and clay, and brake them in pieces……and the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth. (Dan. 2.34,35).
This last is the Roman empire — first in its pristine energy and resistless strength, as set forth under the emblem of iron, and then in its final form of ten kingdoms foreshadowed by the ten toes, welded together in one confederation under a supreme head. Now in Revelation 13, we have described first of all the rise of imperial power, of the Roman empire in its final form. John says, "And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up from the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns were ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy (Rev. 13.1) To cite the words of another, "The sea sets forth the uniformed mass of the people under a troubled state of the world — people in great agitation, like the restless waves of the deep." And it is out of that mass of anarchy and confusion that the imperial power rises. ‘The beast’ that appears is characterised by having seven heads and ten horns, which prepares us for the statement that "the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority" (v.2), as we find the dragon so described in the previous chapter (12.3) and this transfer of characteristics, marking the source of the ‘beasts’ power, is subsequent, to Satan’s expulsion from heaven. (12.9) This is indicated in another way, " The crowns were upon the heads of the dragon, but upon the horns of the beast; that is, in the imperial empire there is the exercise of the power represented as a matter of fact, but in Satan’s case merely as a matter of principle, or the root of the thing. It is a question of source and character, not history. We have, then, here set before us the final form of the Gentile power, animated and energised by Satan, and possessing in itself all the features that marked its three predecessors (v. 2. cf. Dan. 7. 4-6) The seven heads signify the successive forms of power that have existed, but now concentrated in the ‘beast’. The ten horns are rulers, and these ten will finally unite under one supreme head. ‘The ten horns which thou sawest are ten kings, which have been received no kingdom as yet; but receive power as kings one hour with the beast. These have one mind, and shall give their power and strength unto the beast". (Rev. 17.9-13). There will be such a display of power as the world has never seen; and since both its source and energy are alike Satanic, it will be directed against God and His people (Cf. Rev. 13. 6-8). It will be a time of open antagonism against God, and therefore of fearful tribulation for all on earth.
In connection with this there arises another ‘beast’: not out of the sea as was the case with its predecessor, but out of the earth at a time when there is settled government, under the order of the first beast. This is antichrist. He has two horns like a lamb, and spake like a dragon, (v.11) He is thus an imitator of, while in direct antagonism to, Christ; He acts, as will be seen, as a kind of deputy of the first ‘beast’, exercising his power and causing the earth and them therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed (v.12). He works miracles, or seeming miracles, and deceives the dwellers upon the earth, he causes that they should make an image to the first beast, and worship it. And the more effectually to accomplish his purposes he has power to give breath unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak and cause many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed and he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads. And that no man might but or sell, save he that had the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name (Rev. 13. 15-17).
There will be a kind of mock trinity, composed of Satan, the first beast, and the false prophet. (Rev. 19.20) and the object of all their strivings will be to exclude God from the earth, and to usurp His place in the minds of men.
The first beast, is the supreme secular power; the second, or antichrist, acting under the first, has his domain in the religious sphere; while Satan is the inspirer and energy of both. We cannot here go into further details, as we shall see more of the actions of antichrist when we consider the great tribulation D. V. in a future article. It is well to remind ourselves that all the works of error and the actions of men’s minds, apart from Christ, have only one goal; they all look towards, and will finally be embodied in this hateful antagonist of God and His Christ.
John warns the believers of his day that the spirit of antichrist was already abroad (1 John. 4. 3): and it is necessary therefore, especially at a time when infidelity is ever growing bolder to be on the watch, and to ponder well the descriptions of the coming man of sin, so that we may be preserved, in the grace of our God, from all association with that which is the offspring of Satan, and is also the mark of hostility to Christ. At the present moment it is especially necessary to be vigilant, for there are many indications abroad that Satan is busily employed in marshalling and training his forces are most subtle. Not yet does he avow open antagonism to Christ: but he can, and does, influence the minds of men against the fundamental doctrines of Christianity, and he uses for this purpose those who are its avowed teachers. Our foes are those of our own household.
But as long as we adhere to the Word of God refusing human wisdom and human reasonings — and look to be guided alone by the Holy Spirit, we shall escape the snare, and be kept true to Christ.
The writer wishes to acknowledge the help given in the composing of this article to:— A.S.W. & L. M. (I. V. F. Bible Dictionary) & E. D., Our Hope, A. S. Rouse, 1984.
VITAL VERITIES (10)
by E. W. ROGERS
The Atonement — Part 2
Yet another English word used to denote the Hebrew word
KAPHAR IS "BE MERCIFUL"
Found e.g. in Deut. 21.8: "Be merciful, O Lord, unto thy people Israel," This prayer is found in the circumstances of the discovery of one slain in the field. An heifer is taken, brought into a rough valley, is slain, and thereupon we read "All the elders of that city that are next unto the slain man shall wash their hands over the heifer that is beheaded in the valley. And they shall answer and say, ‘Our hands have not shed this blood neither have our eyes seen it. Be merciful, O Lord, unto thy people Israel whom thou hast redeemed and lay not innocent blood unto thy people." In fact it is—the heifer has been slain—spare us! the heifer has suffered the wrath: be merciful to us! the heifer was exposed, cover us.
It is the Greek equivalent of this word which the publican used when, standing afar off conscious of guilt and deserving God’s wrath, he smites his breast and says "God be merciful to me the sinner." Cover me.
Now these are some of the shades of meaning of the word used to denote Atonement: a covering, security against a storm, an appeasing of anger, a ransom to deliver from liability, a satisfaction to both God and man, and the righteous ground whereby mercy can be be dispensed to the undeserving.
It has sometimes been rashly asserted that seeing that the word "atonement" is not rightly found in the New Testament the doctrine is not there, but that it is a distinctly Old Testament doctrine.
But this assertion falls on two counts at least.
First, the absence of a specific word does not prove the non-existence of a thing in the New Testament. For example, the word "trinity" is not found there, but surely the doctrine is there.
Secondly, the basis for the conclusion is erroneous. It is supposed that in the Old Testament days God merely covered sins, but did not remove forever our sins. But this is not so. Equally in Old Testament days as now God forgave, removed, and finally freed the sinner who was forgiven from his sins. Psalm 32.1 is a case in point where both the words "cover" and "forgive" are employed. The literal meaning of the Hebrew word "to forgive" is "to take away" In Old Testament times God blotted out as with a thick cloud man’s sins; He cast them behind His back, and with Him is no shadow of turning; He cast them into the depth of the sea; and removed them as far as the east is from the west. It is true that he covered them, but the thought is not that they were merely out of sight though in fact existent, but that they were put out of sight by being put far away.
There is a vital difference in this respect that, in Old Testament days God forgave a sinner anticipating the Cross, but in the present days He does so because of the Cross. Then He looked forward to it, now He looks back upon it. But the deed done in forgiveness was the same. It was complete, final and indeed not repetition.
Therefore we may come to the New Testament confident that we shall discover therein not only the doctrine of the atonement but this doctrine set in a clearer light.
In the LXX and in the New Testament the equivalent of the Hebrew word "kaphar" is the Greek word "hilasteerion" or "hilasmos" or its cognate words. There are four notable occasions on which it occurs.
- In 1 John. 2.2. "He is the propitiation for our sins." Here the word "propitiation" is hilasmos.
- In Heb. 2.17. "to make reconciliation for the sins of the people," here the word is hilakesthai.
- In Rom. 3.25. "God set forth a propitiatory"—here the word in Hilasteerion.
- In Luke 18.13. "God be merciful to me the sinner" here the word is Hilastheti.
Now it will be apparent that all these four words are cognate, related to each other by a common root.
It is as though the four passages answer four questions:—
- To whose offering do all the Old testament sacrifices point? John answers: Christ, is the atoning offering.
- Who is the priest set forth in Old Testament days who made atonement? The answer is the same. Christ makes atonement for the sins of people.
- Who is the person who is set forth by the ancient seat? The answer is the same. Christ is the mercy-seat, predetermined to be so by God, upon whom God looks and is satisfied, and on whom man also may look and be satisfied.
- For whom does that person who is Offering, Offering Priest and Mercy-seat act? The answer is, any one who will take the place which the publican took.
Thus the publican’s cry which preceded the Cross was amply responded to in the provision God made.
One cannot fail to notice that under the old economy atonement was made for the most part by blood. There was the exception of the "atonement money," but Peter settles that once and for all when he rules out "silver and gold" as a means of redemption and insists on blood. And it is clearly emphasised in Hebrews that "without shedding of blood there is no remission."
NOW WHY WAS THIS SO?
Surely it lies just here, that "the life of the flesh is in the blood; and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls." Man had forfeited his life by reason of sin; "The wages of sin is death." "Sin when it is finished bringeth forth death." If then man is to be spared another must die, and that other must be a valid substitute. Blood must be shed. As another has written "It is not the warm life-blood coursing through the veins, but the life poured out unto death that effects propitiation. The death of the offering represents the forfeited life of the offerer. He lays his hand upon the victim’s head (see Lev. 4. 29) and by this typical action (answering to faith) he transfers his guilt to his substitute, and its death is accounted to be his, as with his own hand he slays it."
It is that shed blood which is represented by the wine on the Lord’s table—blood apart from the body—which denotes death.
But if in the Old Testament it is clear that atonement is solely by blood, in the New Testament it is equally clear that atonement is solely by the death of Christ Let us reverently ask
WHY SHOULD IT HAVE BEEN HE?
Why not another?
Surely the answer is that, whoever makes atonement must be One who possesses moral capability, and personal authority. Since it involves substitution for the guilty, the substitute clearly must be guiltless. Since it involves voluntary self-sacrifice, by death, clearly the substitute must possess authority to lay down his own life. Now who else possesses these two qualifications other than Christ?
Certainly He was sinless: He is declared to be the "one who knew no sin"; "who did no sin:" "in whom is no sin"; and positively He is announced as the "Holy One of God." He alone among men was sinless, being Himself more than man. Thus He answers one qualification.
Furthermore, He plainly stated "No man taketh life from Me; I have authority to lay it down and I have authority to take it again"—and, were the source of such authority asked for, the answer is "This commandment have I received of my Father:" All other men have forfeited their life by reason of sin and they do not possess authority to lay it down. Suicide is but a crowning sin to a. life of sin. But He was sinless had authority to lay down His life for the sinful, and this He did. He thus fulfils the second qualification.
Neither angel nor man possessed these two features of sinlessness and authority. Christ alone did, hence He alone could make atonement for man.
Accordingly all the Old Testament types of atonement by blood may be re-read with that Person in view, and His death may therein be discerned to be foreshadowed. The various offerings afforded types of different aspects of that sacrifice, each one having its own distinctive feature.
For His death was unique, both as to the fact itself and as to its efficacy. No other death incurred such activities all at once as did His. No other death solved so many otherwise insoluble problems nor had such momentous and lasting issues.
There are at least four ways of regarding the event itself, namely,
- As a foul murder on the part of wicked men.
- As a conflict between Himself and Satan.
- As the infliction of Divine wrath upon an innocent substitute.
- As a willing self-sacrifice on His own part in the interests of others.
Consider these seriatim:—
That it was
A FOUL MURDER
on the part of men is apparent from Peter’s words to the Jewish people whom he addressed in Acts chapters 2 and 3, wherein he charges home their guilt and their crime. "Ye with wicked hands, took Him and slew Him" and again in chap. 10, referring to the same fact "Whom they slew and hanged on a tree." Blindly and thoughtlessly did they cry "His blood be on us and on our children.’Although they may have supposed He had blasphemously and wrongly claimed to be the Son of God, yet their clamour for His death was against all sane judgement. "Away with Him, crucify Him, we will not have this man to reign over us" was the adopted attitude, irrespective of the conviction expressed by Pilate, "I find nothing worthy of death in Him." The record read without bias must inevitably lead the reader to the conclusion that is stated by Stephen "The Just One, of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers." (Acts 7.52).
Let the reader peruse Psalm 22 and then observe what another has written. "In this passage the Lord compares His murderers by whom He was at the moment surrounded to those wild animals in whom are combined all the most strongly developed qualities of violence, brutality, blood-thirst and uncleanness." And again ‘The Cross of Christ thus revealed in hideous reality the true extent of human depravity. The veil of civilisation drops. The mask of social refinement is removed, and man in his highest natural estate of Roman civilisation and Jewish religion is exposed in naked brutality, the murderer of his Benefactor,— untried, unconvicted, uncondemned."
Secondly, it was a
CONFLICT BETWEEN HIMSELF AND SATAN
That Satan was the dark instigator of the foul deed is evidenced in that "He entered into Judas." Playing on his hitherto encouraged greed he prompted him to betray the Lord Jesus for thirty pieces of silver. It was the crowning act of an enmity and hostility of long duration. Prior to and throughout the Lord’s earthly course Satan had been his bitter foe, but finding himself hitherto thwarted in every attempt, at length in sheer desperation he succeeds through a man in securing His murder. That appeared to be his triumph. But less than three full days have to run their course for proof to be furnished that Christ "arose a victor o’er the dark domain." The tables had been turned; Satan and his hosts were conquered and Christ was gloriously triumphant.
His own ascension far above all principalities and powers demonstrated it, for then it was that "He led captivity captive" and "He made a show of them openly, leading them in triumph" (Eph. A and Col. 2).
The fact of this conflict between Satan and Christ had early been foreshadowed by God, and had long stood on the page of Holy Writ. It was in the garden of Eden, where the tragic introduction of sin into this world occurred, that God Himself furnished the one gleam of hope that, though the Serpent would bruise the heel of the Woman’s seed, yet that seed would bruise his head. In other words, that while some injury would be inflicted on the seed yet a final defeat would simultaneously to dealt to the serpent.
Doubtless it was with the view of defeating this purpose that he all along sought first to prevent the advent of the Coming One, and having therein failed, sought secondly to turn Him aside from the path of uprightness, and having therein further failed, he thirdly sought and succeeded in obtaining His death.
But it was in that very occurrence that his own defeat was achieved. "By death He destroyed him who had the power of death, that is the evil." The only Man Who trod this earth who could legitimately claim exemption from death, willingly experienced it that by so doing He might effectively grapple with him who had its power, and wrest it from Him. Resurrection tells the tale of the magnificent victory.
Hark to His words of anticipated success: "The prince of this world is judged"—words uttered before He died though just about as He was to do so . It is the confidence of the triumph of Right over Might; Truth over evil; Light over darkness, and life over death. —To be continued.
"THE EPISTLE BY JAMES"
by E. R. Bower.
Chapter Three. A Living Faith EVIDENCED by Conduct.
Do not take a leaf out of the Pharisee’s book (Matt. 23.1-10). There are works which may, or may not, be seen of men, but James speaks of those works that can be seen. (Matt 5.16). See John 9.34 and cf. Matt. 5.17-22. Was there, in those early days of the church, evidence already to be seen in the attitudes of the local churches? Did not our Lord call the Pharisees, "Blind guides, which strain at a gnat and swallow a camel." (Matt. 23. 24)? Claiming to be a teacher and showing no example, brings the greater condemnation. (see 2.13).
vv. 3-6. In many we are all prone to stumble (2.10), and no one has yet attained to perfection — other than our blessed Lord. James places his finger upon the source and the channel of bad conduct —hell and the tongue. The bit controls the horse; the helmsman, the ship; the tongue ‘great things’. A no-consequence fire will soon desolate a forest. The tongue though small, set on by the everlastingly burning fires of Gehenna, is a world of unrighteousness, and defiles the whole body. It even sets on fire the course of nature—the whole world aflame! And nations, communities—and churches—perish in the flames. Churches die because their conduct belies their faith. Vain religion indeed (1.26). Very, very true. What harm has been done in the name of religion; what bitterness has come from a Bible reading. We note that the Greek word for ‘nature’ (v.6) is that used in 1.23 ‘his natural face’. Faces aflame with passion! "The course of nature" has been defined as "the orb of creation". Gehenna is spoken of by Jews as the place of torment, and it was there that the rich man of our Lord’s parable found himself seeking one drop of water to cool his tongue. (Luke 16.24). How often do we scorch our fellows by words spoken unadvisedly, just as Moses did. (Ps. 106.32-33). Breathing fire and brimstone brings, all too often, suffering and misery to others—and to self.
vv. 7-10. "Kind" (v.7) – nature; "mankind’ (v.7.) – nature of man; "unruly" (v.8.) -restless. What was ordained in Gen. 1.26-28, came to pass; but the tongue in man himself, the tongue of the ‘master’ nature remains untamed; a restless evil. How vividly James depicts the tongue; a small member capable of great things and full of dead poison, cf. Ps. 5, 9; 50.16-23; 140.1-3; Rom. 3. 13. To bless God is right; to curse those who are made after the image of the Creator is evil. Peter may be seen as an example of the ‘double tongue’, but the nearer example is – oneself. Cursing is not just ‘bad’ language; it is to wish evil upon; to detest; loath; abhor, "THESE THINGS OUGHT NOT TO BE ."
vv. 11-14. "Sweet and bitter" (v.11) – fresh and salt; "conversation" (v.13) – conduct; "envying" (v.14) – emulation, zeal, strife, contention, party spirit; "glory" (v.14) – boasting. James row probes somewhat deeper than the tongue. Our Lord said, "Those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart and defile the man" (Matt. 15.18-20. cf. here, Matt. 7. 15-20.
Spiritual lepers – unclean. Notice the contrast of meekness out of wisdom with lies out of boasting. An excess of zeal may not always be good behaviour.
vv. 15-18. Demonstrating the need for wisdom in our way of life, i.e, in our conduct, James prods again; into the source of good – and bad – behaviour. The contrasts of vv. 11-14 are amplified. The wisdom of v.14 – envy and strife in the heart accompanied by boasting is earthly, natural, devilish (with all that ‘devilish’ means) and leads to confusion (and God is not the Author of confusion) and every evil work. The wisdom of v. 13 is from above (1. 17) and is pure, peaceable, gentle, yielding, merciful, impartial and unfeigned – seven attributes < of good behaviour. And we are back to 1.5, "if any man lacks wisdom, let him ask of God." The first objective of this perfect wisdom is a perfect patience in the face of trial or temptation. The second objective is the bringing forth of the fruits of righteousness from the seed plot of peace. (See Matt 5. 9). God given wisdom is a gift that comes with the new birth (1. 16-18), but it is a neglected gift.
The Ministry of the Risen Lord
by The Late J. B. Hewitt, Chesterfield
The Resurrection of the Lord Jesus is an essential of the Christian faith. It is the most important fact of history, and the best attested fact of history. "Seen of above five hundred brethren at once" (1 Cor. 15.6). "Seen" not "Appeared" as the RSV needlessly and wrongly substitutes (1 Cor. 15.3-8).
It is the Gibraltar of Christian evidences, the Waterloo of infidelity. The resurrection is not a question of His spiritual survival, nor of His physical resuscitation, but of His conquest of death and His resurrection to a new plane of existence altogether (Rev. 1.18). If the evidence of the Resurrection of Christ is sifted and weighed honestly, it will be found to be convincing and conclusive. The Lord Himself never predicted His passion without adding that He would rise, and described His coming resurrection as a sign (Matt. 12.39,40; John 2.18-22; Luke 18.33; Rom. 1.4.)
There are four evidences of His resurrection:- (1) the empty tomb (Mark 16.4-6,11); (2) the graveclothes were undisturbed (John 20.5-7); (3) the Lord was seen (Matt. 28.9; John 20.16-18; (4) the disciples were changed. The death of Christ left them despondent, disillusioned and near to despair. The resurrection and the gift of the Holy Spirit transformed doubt into faith, fear into courage and tears into gladness (1 Cor. 15.7; John 20.19,20).
May we rejoice in the great Christian affirmation, "the Lord is reisen indeed" (Luke 24.34; Matt. 28.6).
THE MORNING OF RESURRECTION
All four Evangelists record the resurrection, agreeing that it took place on the first day of the week, as befitting a new life, a new era. It is interesting and important to compare their records. John begins earliest in time, "When it was yet dark"(20.1); It is night when John records. Matthew begins, "As it began to dawn" (28.1) – that is the first faint flush of the new day is appearing in the sky. Luke says, "At early dawn", with the dawn overspreading the sky; dawn complete. Mark distinctly states that "the sun has risen (16.2. R. V.). John tells us the stone was literally "lifted out of the sepulchre and Mary is horrified.
THE DAWN OF A NEW DAY (Mark 16.1,2; John 20.1)
The Jewish Sabbath passed in gloom and doubt and sorrow, the Lord’s day followed with death robbed of its prey and its power. The stone rolled away proclaimed death’s power broken, the tomb was empty. The resurrection of Christ is a fact, a force and a factor beyond dispute. It is the centre of all truth (1 Cor. 15. 1-5); the channel of blessing for all the saved (1 Peter 1.3,4); the confession of our faith (Rom. 10.9; 1 Pet. 3.21,22); the communication of Divine power (Eph. 1.19,20); proves Christ is our choice Head unifying the Church (Col. 1.18); the continued inspiration of our service (Matt. 28.18-20); the certain pledge of our own resurrection (1 Cor. 15.20); and the complete sample of our great change by and by (1 Cor. 15.53).
A MORNING OF DEVOTION (John 20.1)
Mary loved the Lord and affection for Him brought her to the tomb.
Her Salvation (Luke 8.2). Her terrible affliction, total possession by demons was completely healed by spiritual regeneration. Her blessings like ours are due to three things; the Saviour’s loving pity, His infinite mercy and His Divine power (Eph. 2.4,5).
Her Service was expressed in fellowship (Luke 8.12) and by consecration (Luke 8.3). Her life and substance belonged to Him who had done so much for her. (Rom. 12.1).
Her Sorrow. She saw her Lord die and watched by His tomb (Matt. 27.55,56). The gratitude shown (Mark 16.1), the grief experienced (John 20.1). Her Master’s death must have been a profound mystery and a great loss. Mary possibly went round to all the women followers of Jesus, and got them to go to the sepulchre.
A MORNING OF DIFFICULTY (Mark 16.3)
"Who shall roll us away the stone?" The barrier dreaded was the first thought in the women’s mind because of great weight for feeble strength. The barrier was removed (v. 4), God works for those He loves and leads. He ever goes before, and they find the way made ready beyond expectation.
A MORNING OF DISCOVERY (Mark 16.4,5; Luke 24.2,3)
The stone removed, rolled away. It was a round disc placed against the door; it was rolled along a groove, leaving the entrance of the tomb clear.
It was not rolled away to let Jesus out, but that they, and we, might look in to see He had gone. John says, "taken away" and literally "lifted out of the sepulchre. Mary’s one horror was that somebody would get into the tomb and take away the body of the Lord. Think of His cruel death. Pilate was surprised that Jesus was already dead, but the centurion assured him that it was so. (Mark 14,44,45). This gives the death knell to the swoon theory. Could the Lord survive thirty-six hours in a stone sepulchre after the flogging and crucifixion? The theory is perverse and the evidence entirely contradicts it. The careful watch, the seal, the guard made all things sure (Matt. 27.64-66). Another notion is that thieves of some kind stole the body. There is no shred of evidence for this conjecture. W. H. Griffith Thomas has well stated, "only two alternative explanations: human or supernatural. If human, friends or foes. If friends – could they?; if foes – would they? Therefore, supernatural power removed the Body of Christ". It was supernatural (Matt. 28,2). The illustrious visitor reveals the power of light. A shining, mighty, overpowering light from heaven (v.3). This mighty power opened the grave, scattered the darkness and brought the light of hope to every true believer.
THE DYNAMIC DECLARATION (Matt. 28.5-7)
A word of encouragement. "Fear not ye"; they were reassured by the angel. A word of assurance "I know that ye seek Jesus". Just as at the Lord’s birth (Luke 1.30; 2.10), so here the first word from heaven was "fear not".
A word of revelation "He is not here, for He is risen". Only those who know the Crucified One found the Risen One. Resurrection is assured, by the absence of the Body, "not here". The cause "He is risen as He said", yet they still did not realize. The slow heart to believe are blinded with the glory of the light.
A word of invitation "Come see the place where the Lord lay" (v. 6). For them and us this is the place of instruction, life, comfort and hope. Here is the power of life, the greatest evidence of Christ’s mighty power; the power of an endless life (John 2. 20-22; 10.18; Heb. 7.25).
A word commission – "go quickly and tell". The liberty and privilege of every saved soul, to go forth and tell of a risen, living, loving Saviour, who has conquered every foe, overcome death, and lives to save to the uttermost. The first appearances of Jesus to His own were evidential. They were necessary to convince them that He was still victoriously alive. We need to come and see it, and know the power of it; then go and tell it out, and go quickly, for the need is great. Yes, "He is risen" – risen to save – be entreated. He is risen to intercede – be comforted. He is risen to judge – be warned.
THE DISCIPLE’S VISIT (John 20.2-10)
The Search (v.3,4) Peter and John set out to see for themselves. Peter is outrun by John. Perhaps guilty conscience made the going hard for him, he remembered his denial.
The Satisfaction (v.5-8). Mary’s word was confirmed, the tomb was empty. They saw the winding shrouds exactly and precisely as they were when He was buried. The body was not there. John saw that and believed (v.8).
The different words for "seeing" are very interesting and illuminating. "Stooping down and looking in", the same word in v.11 and Luke 24.12, literally means "bending down to look carefully at" used in a figurative sense in 1 Pet 1.12, and James 1.25. "Saw" v.5, seeth at a glance, Mary and John merely saw the facts; Peter went in and he "beheld them" (RV) which means he saw and he thought carefully about them. Then John "saw", perceived what it meant "and believed", and from that moment John was convinced that Jesus was alive. John did not need a manifestation of the Lord. Now they go back home, John understanding, Peter all bewildered (Luke 24.12) and they leave Mary at the tomb, weeping – not just crying but convulsed with sobs. Mary was marked by perplexity and sorrow (v. 2,10), she did not expect a resurrection morning. John is marked by love and was first in the race and first to believe (v. 8). Peter known for his zeal and impetuosity went right into the sepulchre. He defiles himself by entering the tomb but is rewarded by an amazing sight, grace clothes left behind by death’s Victor (Rev. 1.18).
On this resurrection morning may we look into the tomb and rejoice for "He is risen as He said"; listen to the angelic message and respond – "go quickly and tell" and remember "We face a task unfinished that drives us to our knees; A need, that undiminished, rebukes our slothful ease. We, who rejoice to know Thee, renew before Thy throne The solemn pledge we owe Thee to go and make Thee known".
God Unrecognised and Unwanted
By the Late W. W. Fereday
Jerusalem, when our Lord was born, was the hub of the religious world. The only religion that ever had divine authority was centred there. All other religions were diabolical, both in origin and character, and ruinous to all who lived under their dark spell. Among other privileges known in Jerusalem was the possession of the Sacred Oracles (Rom. 3.1-2). In the Scriptures of the Old Testament was enshrined all that a beneficent Creator had ever communicated to men from the world’s foundation.
Yet a strange thing happened! Certain travellers from the East, evidently possessed of scientific knowledge, arrived in Jerusalem inquiring where the King of the Jews had been born, having judged from astronomical observations that such an event had taken place. To a few humble Jews, men in covenant relationship with Jehovah, the birth had already been divinely made known by means of angels (Luke 2.9); to the Gentile magi, God testified by means of a star in the heavens (Psa. 19.1-6).
We are not surprised to read in Matt. 2.3. that when Herod the King heard these things he was troubled. This man, although of Edomite descent, and a type of the latter-day Antichrist, was Himself King of Jews, and accordingly could brook no rival. But does it not make strange reading that "all Jerusalem" was troubled with him?
The coming of the Wise Men appears to have been several months after the birth of the wondrous Babe, and during the interval there had been the report of the shepherds, who "made known abroad the saying that was told them concerning the child" (Luke 2.17), and the outburst of Simeon in the temple, with Anna’s testimony to many (Luke 2.25-38). Yet Jerusalem was not only not interested, but was positively troubled when the Wise Men came.
Worse still, Herod, in his anxiety, called in the Jewish clergy. Not a mere individual, nor even two or three persons, "he gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together," believing that "in the multitude of counsellors there is safety" (Prov. 11.14). These men promptly remembered Micah 5.2, although they rather paraphrased than quoted the passage to the King.
(Those were not days of pocket Bibles, which every Christian should now carry). Now Micah 5.2 tells us that it was no mere King for David’s throne who was to be born in Bethlehem but God Himself. "Thou, Bethlehem-Ephratah, though thou be little amongst the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall come forth unto Me that is to be ruler in Israel, whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting."
Fearful Conclusion! The eternal God has deigned to visit this little world, and was not wanted! Neither the testimony of the shepherds in Luke 2, nor the Scripture cited by the priests in Matt. 2, sent worshipping crowds to Bethlehem! God not wanted in His own world!
More than thirty years pass away, and we are again in Jerusalem. Our Lord’s hearers would stone Him because He said: "I and the Father are one!" But He asked them: "Many good works have I showed you from My Father; for which of these do ye stone Me?" The Jews answered Him: "For a good work we stone Thee not, but for blasphemy; and because that Thou, being a man, makest Thyself God" (John 10.30-33).
A little later the High Priest with the council around him, challenged Him: "Art Thou the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?" And Jesus said: "I am" (Mark 14.61-62). Forward now to Pilate’s Judgment Hall. Hear His accusers: "We have a law, and by our law He ought to die, because He made Himself the Son of God" (John 18. 7).
The issue thus was quite clear. God was on earth in the person of Jesus of Nazareth, and men were determined to get rid of Him at any cost.
The cost has been terrific in blood and treasure, in broken hearts and countless graves. Neither the Jews nor the nations knew the time of their visitation (Luke 19.44). The world did not recognise its Creator, and His own special people refused to receive Him (John 1.10-11). "They have sown the wind and they reap the whirlwind" (Hosea 8.7). Nineteen centuries of grief and pain have been men’s experience as the terrible fruit of their rejection of Him who came in grace, and the end is not yet. Dark clouds hang over the nations and nothing will dispel them, for the day of reckoning hastens on. The passions of men will be divinely let loose, and men will themselves destroy all that they have built up and loved (Rev. 6).
But the Rejected One will come again. Three thousand years ago, the Psalmist wrote: "Our God shall come, and shall not keep silence" (Psa. 50.3). Israel will welcome Him then. "It shall be said on that day: "Lo, this is our God, we have waited for Him, and He will save us, this is Jehovah; we have waited for Him, we will be glad and rejoice in His salvation" (Isa. 25.9). A mighty work of the Holy Spirit is necessary ere Israel can speak thus.
The "appearing of the glory of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ" (Titus 2.13) will revolutionise everything here. With overwhelming power He will sweep the earth clean of all that is offensive in His sight. Then, when the last of the dispensations has run its course (the thousand years glorious reign) all evil having been subdued, God will be "all in all" (1 Cor. 15.28). Never again through the eternal ages will the divine supremacy be challenged, neither in Heaven above, nor in earth beneath. Result—"there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away" (Rev. 21.4).
CHRIST OUR BURNT OFFERING
D. M. Clark (Stoney Creek)
Of the five offerings mentioned in Leviticus the one that speaks of the Father’s satisfaction with Christ’s offering of Himself is the Burnt Offering, the details are given in chapter one.
For we who have been cleansed by the blood of Christ the logical sequence of the offerings begins in the reverse order in which they are recorded. We sense the activity of sin in the Trespass Offering and then realize in the Sin Offering that it is sin working within us. In the peace offering we learn that Christ has made peace with God for us, this offering is a bridge between our former standing as sinners and our present standing as accepted in the Beloved. In the Meat or Meal Offering we learn of the glories of the Person who accomplished our Salvation but in the Burnt Offering we observe Christ, the Son giving Himself wholly and absolutely unto the Father. Sin is not in question in this offering.
The sequence of the offerings begins from God’s perspective. This is most instructive for us, for while we rejoice in the work that Christ has done in removing our sins, we must also enter into the total value of Christ’s sacrifice from God’s point of view.
Christ, in all the perfection of His Person, gave Himself wholly to God in the absolute and utter devotion of His heart. He could say in John 10:17: "Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again." We can only stand in amazement and marvel at such an expression of love. There the Lord Jesus, with absolute perfection, fulfilled all the Father’s will.
As we consider this aspect of Christ’s sacrifice we can enter more fully into the meaning of Eph. 5.2, ". . . Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour." This speaks of the Burnt Offering aspect of Christ’s death.
And again in Hebrews 10: 5-9, "Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me: In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure. Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God. Above when he said, Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and offering for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein; which are offered by the law; Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second." What complete submission to the eternal counsels of God are witnessed in these verses. This should cause us to render worship and praise which will ascend as sweet incense to the Father.
Although Jesus was forsaken of God, while on the cross, His communion with the Father was never affected. At that time the Father found absolute satisfaction in that the Son was wholly devoted to fulfilling His will and the Son in that His action wholly delighted the Father. During His life on earth He could say in John 1:18, "No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him." That Father-Son relationship could only be deepened by the perfection of Christ’s sacrifice.
The Burnt Offering is spoken of as a "sweet savour offering" in Lev. 1:9. This suggests the delight that God found in the offering. This cannot be said of the Sin Offering for God could find no delight in having to cover the entire scene in darkness while the Lord Jesus was made sin for us.
In the Sin Offering the one presenting the sacrifice placed his hand on the head of the victim which then became his substitute by dying in his stead. In the Burnt Offering, once again, the person offering the sacrifice placed his hand on the head of the victim, but in this instance all of the virtue and value of the sacrifice was transferred to the person offering it. For the believer, Christ as our Burnt Offering, brings us into all the favour and standing that He has before God so that we are "accepted in the Beloved".
Except for the skin of the Burnt Offering all of the sacrifice was totally consumed on the altar. The total consumption of the sacrifice shows that it was offered wholly to God, even as Christ offered Himself wholly to God. It is a witness to the devotion of the Lord Jesus in fulfilling God’s will.
The priest was to have the skin of the Burnt Offering, Lev. 7:8. Although the priest could only be a witness to the sacrifice the skin was given to him as a constant reminder of what he had seen. Similarly the Lord Jesus has given us the remembrance service as a constant reminder of His death.
We see in the emblems of bread and wine the entire compass of the work of Christ as typified in the five offerings. However, that which corresponds to the Burnt Offering aspect of Christ’s death expresses our greatest appreciation for Christ’s work. In it Christ is presented to God. Our occupation will be with the value and worth of the sacrifice as seen in God’s eyes. What could rejoice the heart of God more than to hear the praise of His people in honouring and exalting His Son?
The Believer’s Present Possessions
By the Late Walter Scott.
The Word "hath," indicating present possession, is often repeated in the New Testament. It forms an interesting study to look at some of these.
I. We begin with a grand statement: God
"Hath Saved us"
(2 Tim. 1. 9). Here our salvation—the salvation of all who simply believe on the Lord Jesus—is regarded as present, finished, and complete.
II. Next, a very present possession: "He that believeth on the Son
"Hath Everlasting Life"
(John 3. 36). The gift of eternal life to the believer, simply as such (Rom. 6. 23), is never recalled. Its continued possession to us is not dependent upon our walk as believers, although its enjoyment is. Our enjoyment ought to be up to the measure of what we possess; but the most godly on earth hold numerous blessings which they do not fully enjoy. Distinguish between possessing and enjoying.
III. Looking ahead, we say God
"Hath Called You
unto His Kingdom and Glory" (1 Thess. 2. 12). Here the question is a simple one. Can the power of Satan or the difficulty and trial of the wilderness frustrate the call of God? It is His settled purpose to have us, believers, in His Kingdom and Glory, and this "calling of God is without repentance" or recall. The calling is present, the fulfilment future.
IV. Wondering as to our fitness for that Kingdom and Glory, we rejoice that the Father
"Hath Made us Meet
to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light" (Col. 1. 12). This is an exceedingly glorious declaration. Every believer should know that he is not being fitted for the light. We are now made meet. It is done. Because of the value of the shed Blood of Jesus, we are already fit for the company of Paul, of John, of Abraham—of the saints in light.
Ours is not a growing meetness, or improvement in our title to be in the light. It is no question whatever as to our state, or walk, which we can all sorrowfully and truthfully say is not what it ought to be; but the verse refers to what we are—"hath made us meet."
V. Then we have the "blessings" of God. He
"Hath Blessed Us
with all spiritual blessings in Heavenly places in Christ" (Eph. 1. 3). What a magnificent, unlimited fortune God has bestowed upon every heir of glory!
Zechariah speaks of believers as "men wondered at" (Zech. 3. 8), and truly the Christian is a wonderful person. You will find the extreme of worldly poverty, yet of spiritual wealth—"having nothing, yet possessing all things" (2. Cor. 6. 10), combined in the child of God.
There is a general inventory of your vast stores of wealth—of your fortune—contained in 1 Cor. 3. 21-23. "All things" are freely given to God’s justified ones (Rom. 8. 32); and "all things" are yours—twice repeated—was said to the Corinthians, whose actions and general conduct were a public scandal and disgrace (1 Cor. 3. 21, 22). Then all spiritual blessings are heaped for us in Heavenly places. We have the best of blessings ("spiritual"); the best of society ("Christ"); and the best of places ("the Heavenlies"). We ought to live up to our vast income; be free, open-handed, generous, Godlike givers. We can never exhaust our fortune. Our cup is ever full and overflowing. It "runneth over"
VI. Even at the present, it is true that Christ
"Hath Made Us Kings
and priests unto God and His Father" (Rev. 1. 6). Believers are not wealthy commoners merely. Our ranks and dignity correspond to our means. God has not conferred upon us nobility, but royalty; and priestly place and nearness to Himself. In ourselves we are simply Hell-deserving sinners; to Him we are kings and priests. Who has done this? GOD. Why all this? Because of his grace, and that alone.
VII. Lastly, a past, present, and permanent truth: "We have known and believed
The Love that God Hath to Us"
(1 John 4. 16). There is a present and unchangeable love towards us, i.e., God’s love towards His own. Clouds may come between and the love. But just as the sun ever shines, although earth’s clouds and mists obscure it at all times, so God’s love to us is as deep as ever, as fervent as ever, as independent of our varying moods and fancies and changes as the sun is of all that flits across the sky.
It is a love which never knows check or chill or disappointment. It never pauses in its blessed work. No sin or failure on our part can lead to cessation in it activity. God’s love is eternal. Many waters cannot quench it, neither can the floods drown it; it is as strong as death, and jealous as the grave (Song ofSol.8.6.7).
It is a present love from which no power in creation can separate the weakest believer (Rom. 7. 38, 39). It is a triumphant love. In Eternity God’s love to us will never cease. Faith and hope will pass away; earth is their native sphere, but love is eternal.
MY CONVERSION AND CALL (8)
James B. Currie (Japan)
‘WE HAVE RECEIVED GRACE’ (Romans 1.5) Preparation
The side streets of Belfast’s east end hardly seem a suitable introduction for a lifetime of service for God. Nor do the years of the second world war, when hatred against the Germans and the Japanese was rampant and expected. Yet, v/hen God works, His ways are beyond human imaginings. It was in just such an unpromising area and period of time that God began to work in the heart of a fourteen year old brought up in a home where the practical power of the Gospel was as unknown as it is in the idolatrous of the Orient.
As was common at that time among the people of the ‘Newtownards Road’ lip service was paid to what was known of the Bible’s teaching but as far as our home was concerned it meant only that we were sent to Sunday School in the parish church but it made absolutely no difference to the heavy drinking which ate up a large portion of my father’s earnings and was the continual bane of my mother’s life.
With the damage by bombing done to so many houses, including our own, we were sent to live out near Lisburn in 1941 and stayed there for a little over a year. It was some 4 miles to the nearest church of our denomination and, by this time, Sunday School had little appeal to me, especially if it meant an hour’s walk to the church and back. The result was lapsed membership.
Returning to the city the family across from us encouraged our attendance at Parkgate Gospel Hall, which, at the time, we knew nothing about. The kindness of the believers and the fact that ‘no collections’ was the rule made a big impression. Further, applying for work in the Aircraft Factory I, much to my chagrin, ended up in the Drawing Office at low wages instead of in the factory where attractive war time salaries were paid. God was in this since in about one month’s time I mistook a noon hour Testimony Meeting for one to select the juniors’ football team. God spoke most clearly that Tuesday at lunch time as those young men told of their conversion to Christ and urged others to accept Him as Saviour.
Until the following Lord’s Day evening neither football nor the usual cinema going had any appeal to me at all and, as two policemen made known the Gospel of Christ in the Parkgate Hall the conviction of sin and judgement was made all the stronger. On my knees in the quiet of my bedroom that Sunday night I passed from death to life through faith in Christ our Lord though unaware of what really happened then. The next morning, on the way to the office as I rode my bicycle down Sydenham Road the words of John 5.24 came home in power to give a full assurance of the work God had done in my young soul.
Almost immediately a desire to reach out in the Gospel was begotten within. Helping in the Sunday School, taking part in the Open Air meetings, joining godly men in the ‘East End Village Work’ and having opportunity to accompany the older brethren to assemblies in and around the city to help a little in the Sunday evening meetings was grist for the mill in God’s hands as a little experience of His ways was obtained. All the while there was a deep seated desire which could only be expressed in Paul’s words ‘Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?’.
No doubt the events of the day had much to do with an increasingly strong feeling that Japan was the place God of God’s purpose. No special revelation was granted but one very timid step at a time was taken. First of all in learning all I could about the ‘mysterious land of the Rising Sun’ then contacting Mr. T. A. Hay in Canada who in turn put me in touch with the redoubtable Mr. ‘Bobbie’ Wright. This led to a regular gathering with some others equally
interested in Japan in order to start elementary studies in the language. These meetings took place in the home of our good brother Mr. Leonard Mullan. Indirectly resulting from these meetings an opportunity was given to go to Vancouver, Canada where visas etc. necessary to enter post-war Japan could be more readily obtained. Almost two years of living in the home of Mr. Hay and further exercised waiting upon God only increased the deep conviction that Japan was the place of God’s choice. All the while there was work to be done in the assemblies on the west coast of Canada. My first series of Gospel meetings, lasting 6 weeks, in a small but rough paper mill town which could only be accessed by small passenger boat took place before my twentieth birthday. The period of waiting and of training was to prove beneficial in later years.
The 12 day trip across the Pacific on a freighter in 1949 was to a land but recently devasted by the horrors of war and one where there was little in the way of gospel testimony as far as the assemblies of the saints were concerned. Three very small meetings had, more or less, survived the strain of wartime persecution. With the return of brethren Hay and Wright they were just beginning to find their feet once again. Along with others arriving at that time the first order of business was a two year stint at the School of Japanese Language. Long weeks and months had to be given to these studies before the number of a hymn even could be given out in public. The first hesitant attempts to make Christ known on the street corners must have filled the listeners with mirth and taxed the patience of oitr Japanese brethren. Still, from that very small beginning progress has been made by the grace and help of God so that to-day a wide sphere of service has been granted in ministering the Word to the saints of the assemblies around the countryside and in the writing, translating and publishing of literature meant to strengthen the hands of our brethren and sisters in assembly testimony.
The simple principles involved were those experienced by practically all who have a deep desire to know God’s will. First of all, stemming from a devotion to the Person and cause of Christ, there must be a willingness to be used just when and where the Lord would lead. Then too, a quiet waiting upon the Lord so that His way might be made known. The well used illustration is still very apt. A young man discussing the ‘call of God to service’ said, ‘but I have never heard God’s call’. The .answer given by the older servant of Christ was; ‘young man are you sure you are within calling distance’! Sadly, the affluence of this latter part of the Twentieth Century, and with it the widespread desire for ‘financial security’, seem to cause so much static in the souls of many that ‘the still small voice’ saying ‘son, go work in my vineyard’ is unable to make itself heard. The resulting loss of present joy and future reward is something which cannot be calculated this side of the Judgement Seat of Christ.
- I sat along the wayside,
- And saw the crowds pass by;
- So quickly passing onward
- Like wheels of time-they fly.
- So careless and indifferent,
- Their lives are lived to-day;
- No light to guide their footsteps
- Dark clouds surround their way.
- Along the lonesome valleys;
- Dark waters swiftly flow;
- Silently passing onward
- No moon, no sun to glow,
- Oh hear their busy footsteps,
- And ask, Oh whither bound?
- When time no longer functions
- Or grace can ne’er be found.
- Lift up your voice my brother,
- And sound the warning cry;
- Proclaim the gospel message
- His coming draweth nigh!
- Oh call them in, the wayward,
- Bowed down beneath their sin;
- Invite them to the Saviour
- Compel them to come in.
- The harvest, soon be ended,
- The summer will be past;
- The time of reaping over
- What’s done for Christ will last.
- The Bema lies before us;
- When in true light we stand;
- Arrayed in deathless bodies
- Behold the blood washed band.
- Let’s then be true and faithful,
- Until the Lord appears
- To call the faithful labourers
- And wipe away all tears.
R. Magill (Belfast)
THE STRENGTH AND LOVE OF JESUS
We never know the strength and the love of Jesus until we lean on Him with the heavy burden of our sins, temptations, doubts and sorrows; until in confidence trust, and humble candour, we speak to Him of all that oppresses and perplexes us. In His true presence, helps and guides us through the wilderness, and sends us down all blessings from His heavenly sanctuary. And then we experience His wonderful tenderness, the compassionate love, the perfect sympathy of Him who is not ashamed to call us brethren; who is afflicted in all our afflictions. Who is constantly intercessing for us in heaven, while He constantly sustaining our inner life by His spirit. He alone knows what is in man the sorrow which lies too deep for human ministry. He is able to understand and heal. — Anthony Orsini (USA)
CHRIST THE ESSENCE OF THE SCRIPTURES
How I wish for myself, and desire to fix it on the consciences of others, that the one thing needful is the knowledge of Christ (John 17.3). Many seem to think that when they believe in Jesus, and are resting in His atoning death, they know everything; but joy and peace are to be multiplied through a growing acquaintance with Christ (1 Peter 1.2). Every leaf of the Bible testifies of Christ: it is like a rose that is just opening under the genial warmth of the sun; each separate leaf emits the fragrance of the rose. The rose is not perfect without each leaf, and each leaf has fragrance only as being a part of the whole rose; so with the Bible, it is the testimony of Jesus in every leaf. He is the essence of the written word. It has no value, no savour, apart from Him; and when our hearts are really alive to discover Christ, to learn Christ, then, through the Spirit’s teaching, each chapter will be fragrant with the perfume of His name.—Selected.