PAPERS ON PROPHECY
by W. W. Fereday
BEHOLD YOUR KING
by J. Flanigan
by J. E. Todd
by D. McAllister
ASSEMBLY TESTIMONY BIBLE CLASS
by J. Riddle
by R. Entwistle
TONGUES AND THE BIBLE
by D. Mowat
FEAR THOU NOT
by T. C. Taws
MY CONVERSION AND CALL
by Wm. Metcalf
PAPERS ON PROPHECY
by The Late W. W. Fereday (written in 1897/98) VOLUME 2
Paper 7(c) The Olivet Prophecy
Part III is, as remarked, a parenthesis, extending from ch. 24.32 to ch. 25.30. It consists of six parables, containing moral instruction and warning. But they are evidently divided into two sets of three each. First we get three parables bearing strikingly on the circumstances of the godly remnant of the Jews: (1) the fig tree; (2) the days of Noah; and (3) the thief in the night. The fig tree (v. 32-35) is the well-known symbol of the Jewish nation (Matt. 21.18-20). When the events described in this chapter are seen, the godly are to understand that the Messiah is near at hand. Some find difficulty in the words, "This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled" (v. 34), supposing the Lord to mean that all must be accomplished within the life-time of those who then heard Him. This has led some to interpret this chapter as referring to the overthrow of Jerusalem, which has had the effect of throwing them entirely off the track. "Generation" is used here in a moral sense, as in Ps. 12.6,7, and simply means that the unbelieving Jewish people shall not cease to exist as such until all these words be fulfilled in them. Compare also Matt. 12.43-45. Hence their existence amongst us to this hour, in spite of all their vicissitudes and sufferings.
The days of Noah (v. 36-42) are eminently parabolic in connection with the Jews. This patriarch was not translated to heaven before the judgment fell (as Enoch), but was left to pass through it, though preserved by God. Thus it will be with the Jewish remnant. They will be here, as the chosen of God, in the midst of a corrupt and apostate world. When the Lord Jesus appears, there will be a discriminating judgment in Israel; some will be cut off in anger, others will be left for kingdom-blessing.
The thief in the night (v. 43, 44) follows, showing the need of vigilance. This is the manner of the Lord’s coming in connection with the ungodly, not His descent for the Church (1 Thess. 5.1-10). These parables close with, "Therefore be ye also ready ; for in such an hour as ye think not, the Son of Man cometh."
The parables that follow present an entirely different line of instruction. The faithful and evil servants (v. 45-51) furnish rather a picture of Christendom than anything in Judaism. From this point until we reach ch. 25.31, all reference to "the Son of Man" is dropped, the insertion of the words in ch. 25.13 being an error, as probably most Bible readers are aware. The parable of the servants speaks of service amongst the household of God. The talents show a wider character of service, but the Lord Jesus commences with this. Does it not show that He greatly values care bestowed on His own during His absence? Many in this day speak and act as if the Gospel were everything. This is to miss the mind of God seriously. The Gospel is highly important, no doubt, and has a very large place in the divine heart; but God will have His own cared for and fed, nevertheless. This is what we get in the first of the second series of these parenthetic parables. Such as have served well in His house will be rewarded for it at His return; but evil servants who have served ill will be solemnly judged. What a correct portraiture of what has happened in Christendom! When the hope leaked away, and men began to say, "My Lord delayeth His coming," all sorts of evil entered, to the Lord’s dishonour. Both leaders and led dropped into the world, and a long dark reign of priestly domination and tyranny followed, in sad accordance with the words of the Lord in this place.
The parable of the ten virgins (ch. 25.1-13) follows very aptly. If the parable of the servants shows how the leaders have acted during the Lord’s absence in heaven, this reveals how the whole mass of professors have declined from the Lord. The number is expressive, "ten" speaking to us of human responsibility. Man, as a responsible creature, always fails, whether in Israel, the Church, or elsewhere. Such is the humbling story, wherever we turn in the Word of God.
The picture here is very striking, yet simple. "The kingdom of heaven" during the present time is the sphere of Christian profession. Later, the kingdom will take a different form, and be the scene of the display of Christ’s earthly glory. Christian professors, then, are likened to virgins, who went forth, lamp in hand, to meet the bridegroom. Such was the ground taken at the first. Those who bore the Lord’s name stood apart from the world as belonging to Christ, and looked for His return from heaven. How much sorrow and shame would have been spared had this position and character been maintained throughout ! "But while the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept" (v.5). Not only the foolish—the merely nominal professors—but the wise also, possessed of the oil of the Holy Spirit though they were. It is sadly true. For many dreary centuries the hope was lost completely. Let the words of post-apostolic writers be examined, and it will be found that all lost the distinctiveness of the Christian hope, merging it in the coming of the Lord to judge the world at the end.
Dr. Burton in his "Lectures on Ecclesiastical History" speaks of one Papias (A.D. 163) as holding some peculiar opinions. "He believed that, previous to the final judgment, there would be a resurrection of the just, who would reign with Christ upon earth for a thousand years. Eusebius, who acquaints us with this fact, is probably right when he says that Papias misinterpreted the apostolic declarations, and misunderstood their figurative expressions." This is sufficient to show how the mass had declined. In Papias’ ideas, we discern the remains of the truth concerning the Lord’s coming, which to those of his time were but peculiar opinions, and this less than a hundred years after the departure of Paul!
But the Lord would not suffer His own to remain in this condition until His coming ; so we read of the midnight cry, "Behold the bridegroom : go ye out to meet Him." This undoubtedly took place at the commencement of the present century, when the Spirit of God drew the attention of many to some of the truths of Scripture long overlooked, and among them the true hope of the Church of God. What a shaking it caused ! What a putting aside of things unbecoming to Christ ! What devotedness of heart to His precious person and work ! Would that we could see the same freshness and fervour now ! Let us examine our hearts, beloved. The Lord looks for affectionate desire after Himself—ardent longing for His coming again. He prizes this more than anything we can render to Him.
The great separation is coming. The foolish, with their oil-less lamps, will soon find themselves outside for ever. The Lord knoweth them that are His. How is it with the reader ? Your profession of His name may be ever so loud, and your religious reputation among men ever so high, but if there be not living faith in the Son of God, He will disown you in the coming day. All who have been cleansed from their sins by His precious blood, and sealed with the Holy Ghost, He will take in with Him to the marriage and the door will be shut.
—to be continued (D.V.)
BEHOLD YOUR KING
(Meditations in Matthew)
by Jim Flanigan (Belfast)
(3) The Mystery and the Miracle
Having proven the title of Jesus to the throne of David, Matthew will now write of the miracle of our Lord’s virgin conception and birth. "Jesus" is the New Testament Greek form of the Old Testament Hebrew "Joshua". There had been two Joshuas in Israel’s history. One was that captain of Israel’s armies who had led them in their first entry into the promised land. He had done what Moses the lawgiver had not been permitted to do. The other Joshua was High Priest when the remnant nation came back from Babylon to settle in the land again (Zech. 3). Jesus is our Joshua. He is our Deliverer and Captain of our salvation and also our great High Priest.
It has been well said that the mystery of Christ’s incarnation is to be adored, not pried into. If we cannot understand how, in the natural process, the bones are formed in the womb (Eccles. 11.5); if we cannot tell how we who are naturally conceived are made in secret and curiously wrought (Psalm 139.13-16); how can we be expected to understand the mystery of our Lord’s miraculous conception by the Holy Spirit in the womb of the virgin? We may not indeed understand, but nevertheless, the virgin birth of the Lord Jesus is clearly taught in the Scriptures and where we cannot understand we can still wonder and worship.
There are at least three attitudes among men to the truth of the virgin birth. Some there are who personally believe it and accept it, but who do not require that others believe it. They argue that it is optional and not fundamental. Others there are who deny the truth of it absolutely. They rank it with folklore and fable and reject it totally. Many of us however, believe it, and believe it to be foundational and fundamental. To deny it is to deny the integrity of godly persons, as Mary, Joseph, Luke, Matthew, and John. To deny it is to deny the inspiration of the written Word which not only predicted it but recorded the accurate fulfilment of those predictions. To deny it is also to deny the essential holiness of the Living Word who, of necessity, must come into our world voluntarily and uniquely, the Seed of the woman, taking part of flesh and blood of His own volition. By a miraculous conception wrought by the ministration of the Holy Spirit He came amongst us with no link with fallen Adam such as we have. How clear is that word to Mary, "The Holy Spirit shall come upon thee and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee; therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God". Let infidel scholars argue as they may over the Hebrew word almah, which is translated "virgin" in Matt. 1.23. Although there can be no reasonable doubt about the translation, the truth of our Lord’s virgin birth is not dependent upon one word. It is the clear and unambiguous and undoubted testimony of those early narratives and the true believer accepts it implicitly.
Mary was at this time the betrothed wife of Joseph. They were contracted; they were solemnly promised the one to the other. And it was during this period of espousal that Mary was found to be with child. It is important to note that Joseph is already called her "husband" and Mary is already called his "wife" (vv. 20,24), and this though they have not yet come together. Their husband-wife relationship was a contract, to be culminated in a physical union but not dependent upon that union, and it could at that stage be severed only by a solemn and legal "putting away", a divorce. Unchastity during this betrothal period was the only ground which our Lord recognised for such putting away (Matt. 5.32).
If, as is suggested by some, it is the physical act which constitutes the marriage, we would be faced with the unthinkable situation that Jesus was born out of wedlock, for it was not until after His birth that this "husband and wife" Joseph and Mary, came together as such.
It must have been a profound shock and disappointment to Joseph to learn of Mary’s condition. He was a righteous man, and no doubt he had espoused the lowly maiden from Nazareth because of her piety, but he was, like those other Josephs, a good man (Luke 23.50; Acts 11.24), and being such a man he would deal gently with the maid. His righteousness required that he must put her away, but even the law at times dealt charitably with such cases as Joseph now supposes (Deut. 22.26), and Joseph resolves to put Mary away as quietly as possible.
Then, while he pondered in his perplexity, an angelic visitation brought relief to him. Not "the" angel of the Lord, as in our A.V., but "an" angel of the Lord. "The" angel of the Lord was even now in the womb of the virgin. In a dream the word comes to him, "Fear not". This is the first of five dreams in these first two chapters, see also ch. 2.12,13,19,22.
The angel addresses Joseph in dignified terms, "Son of David". He may be but a carpenter, but he is a son of David with a place in God’s purpose and plan. Perhaps there is here a reminder to us, that even in our humble status and lowly station in life there is a divine pattern for our lives and a dignified role for us in heaven’s plan. Mary’s Child has been begotten by the Holy Spirit. The Seed of the woman will soon make His advent and Mary is His chosen vessel. The Child will be "the fruit of her womb" (Luke 1.42). Luke the doctor will give a more detailed account of those early days and of Mary’s visit to Elizabeth, but Matthew, in accord with the theme and character of his Gospel, will tell us that it all came to pass that the Scriptures might be fulfilled, Here is a specific reference to Isaiah 7.14, and it will be a feature of Matthew that he will keep quoting O.T. Scriptures.
Someone has said that Matthew’s Gospel is like a mighty tree, with uncountable twigs and branches reaching upward into the new dispensation and the millennium, but with massive roots sunk deeply into Old Testament prophecies. This indeed is how it is.
Joseph awakes from his dream. The Child will be Emmanuel— "God with us". Mary’s firstborn son will be incarnate deity. Jesus, Saviour of His people from their sins, is none other than Jehovah of the Old Testament and of Israel’s history. Joseph does as he is bidden and so the delightful story unfolds. The desire expressed in that simple hymn of our childhood is indeed so very relevant—
- Tell me the story of Jesus,
- Write on my heart every word,
- Tell me the story most precious,
- Sweetest that ever was heard.
—(to be continued, D.V.)
by J. E. Todd (Chesterfield)
3. THE BLESSINGS OF DISCIPLESHIP
In Luke’s gospel we have the meaning of discipleship and in John’s gospel we have the proof of discipleship, now in Matthew’s gospel we have the blessings of discipleship.
Of the Lord Jesus Christ it is said, ‘He stretched forth His hand toward His disciples, and said, Behold, My mother and My brethren! For whosoever shall do the will of My Father which is in heaven, the same is My brother, and sister, and mother’ (Matt. 12.49-50). Here the disciple finds himself or herself within the family circle of God. Both adoption and birth are terms used to illustrate this blessing.
‘That we might receive the adoption of sons’ (Gal. 4.5). ‘Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will’ (Eph. 1.5). The term ‘adoption’ is used to emphasise the fact that formerly we were outside the family of God, but now as believers, we have entered the family of God.
But our reception into the family of God is not merely by adoption. It is also by spiritual birth. ‘But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name: which were born … of God (John 1.12-13). We have become partakers of the divine nature (2 Pet. 1.4), so becoming truly children of God. Thus we have the supreme privilege of addressing the eternal Creator as "Father!". ‘Because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, Abba, Father’ (Gal. 4.6).
Although the Israelite of old could approach the presence of God through the High Priest once a year, yet he could never personally enter the Holy of Holies. ‘The Holy Ghost thus signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest’ (Heb. 9.8). But now, as children of God, we can boldly enter our Father’s presence at all times. ‘Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus’ (Hebrews 10.19).
Not the least part of this blessing of the family relationship is that every other believer is our brother or sister in Christ.
‘And the disciples came, and said to Him, Why speakest Thou unto them in parables? He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given’ (Matt. 13.10-11). The teaching of the Lord Jesus Christ is to reveal all that is necessary to know about the kingdom of heaven. ‘When they were alone, He expounded all things to His disciples’ (Mark 4.34). The truth of God is revealed to the disciples but hidden from the world. This for two reasons. First, the disciple believes the teaching of Christ and the world does not. When truth is not believed the unbeliever remains in ignorance. Second, the disciple has the Holy Spirit as his or her teacher. ‘He shall teach you all things’ (John 14.26). This blessing of discipleship means that we are privy to the mind and purposes of God. ‘For all things I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you’ (John 15.15).
Finally as disciples of our Master, the Lord Jesus Christ, we are free from all man-made religious traditions. ‘Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders?’ . . . But He answered and said unto them, ‘Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition?’ (Matt. 15.2-3). In the Lord’s time the Jews laboured under the burden of over a thousand years of human religious traditions which had almost obliterated the law of God given through Moses. ‘Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition’ (verse 6). This was the cause of the continuing tension between the Lord and the religious leaders of His day, eventually leading to His condemnation and His death. The Lord walked in the light of God’s word, the religious leaders walked in the way of a religion of man-made rules. Many Christians today labour under the burden of two thousand years of ecclesiastical traditions.
The disciple of Christ can, by the light of the word of God, distinguish between divine revelation and human ideas about religion. These ideas include traditions, superstitions and false doctrines. This is a great freedom. The apostle Peter described it thus, ‘Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved’ (Acts 15.10-11).
These are the blessings of discipleship. We are in a family relationship with the Almighty God as our Father, and also all His people. We know the mind of God in all things necessary through faith in the scriptures. We walk with the Lord unfettered by human religious traditions, ie. the great blessings of love and light and liberty.
—to be continued (D.V.).
by David McAllister (Zambia)
Paper 6c—The Arguments of Amillennialism (continued)
(c) We must also take account of the time gap between the fulfilment of different parts of the same prophecy. Often a prophecy is given which on the face of it will all be fulfilled together, but then in the NT we see that only parts of it have been fulfilled and the other bits are still to be fulfilled. We will take one example each from the OT and the NT:-
OT: Isa. 9.6-8. In this passage, no distinction is made between prophecies referring to the Lord’s first coming (such as "For unto us a child is born") and His second coming (such as "upon the throne of David"). Some of these prophecies were fulfilled in the NT and others still await fulfilment. But the fact that only some were fulfilled does not mean that the rest cannot be literally fulfilled.
NT: Luke 1.31-33. Again no indication is given that there is a time gap between the fulfilment of statements such as "thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son" and "the Lord God shall give unto Him the throne of His father David". The fact that the latter has not yet been fulfilled literally does not mean that it will not be. We must allow for the time gap.
The Lord Jesus illustrated this Himself as no other could. In Luke 4.16-21 he read the prophecy from Isa. 61.1,2 and told that He is the fulfilment of it. But He read only the words from Isaiah which refer to His first coming, and left out the phrase "the day of vengeance of our God", which refers to His second coming. Thus our Lord Himself makes clear to us that there may be a time interval between fulfilment of parts of a passage and other parts of the same passage.
Thus, when an OT passage is quoted in the NT, we must not assume that it has all been fulfilled. Take, for example, Peter’s quotation of Joel 2.28-32 in Acts 2.16-21. The events in Acts have fulfilled the predictions quoted in v.17 and 18, but the events quoted in v. 19,20 have still to take place. The fact that the whole passage is quoted in Acts 2 does not mean that it has all been fulfilled in Acts 2.
It may seem that in points (a), (b) and (c) above, the same point is made in each case, and that each point is merely repetition. But they are distinct, and it is important that we should see that they represent three distinct cases. An illustration may help to this end:—
As students, we studied some of the work of the great scientist, Linus Pauling. He achieved the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1954 and then the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1962. Imagine that when he was a student, one of his tutors had great insight into his potential, and predicted concerning him, "He will be a leader both in the fields of Science and of world political affairs. He will be a very famous man, and I predict that he will be a Nobel prizewinner".
Now suppose that in the year 1955 someone sat down to analyse the tutor’s predictions, in order to determine to what extent they had been fulfilled:
- He could take the statement that he would be a Nobel prizewinner, and state that it had been fulfilled. And so it had. But what the man in 1955 does not know is that it will be fulfilled a second time, in 1962. The fact that he received a prize in 1954 will not stop him from receiving one again in 1962. This prediction ended up having two fulfilments. This corresponds to point (a) made above. An OT prophecy can have two fulfilments, and both are possible. The occurrence of one of them does not mean the second one cannot occur as well.
- The observer could take the statement that he would be a very famous man, and state that it had been fulfilled. And so it had. But what he does not know is that his fame has not yet reached its peak. He will be more famous in 1962 than in 1955. Many will hear of his Nobel prize for peace who never heard of his prize for Chemistry. He was famous in 1955, but not to the full extent. The prediction has been fulfilled only to an extent, although the observer does not know it. This corresponds to point (b) above. Many OT prophecies are only fulfilled to an extent in the NT. This does not prevent them from being more fully fulfilled in the future.
- The observer could take the statement that he would be a leader in science and in world political affairs. In 1955 he would judge that the first had been fulfilled but not the second. But if he was a sensible man, he would not take this to mean that the political prediction could not be fulfilled. He would accept that there could be a time gap between him being a great scientist and a great politician. He would take a "wait and see" attitude.
- This corresponds to point (c) above. When parts of a prophecy have been fulfilled, the Pre-Millennialist takes the "wait and see" view. He trusts that God will fulfil all that has been promised. But the Amillennialist is not prepared to wait. He demands that it must all have been fulfilled already, and so anything for which he does not yet see the literal fulfilment he spiritualises away.
(d) But we can go a step further. We have seen above that the quotation of an OT passage in the NT could be a case of fulfilment on more than one occasion, or of fulfilment to an extent, or of fulfilment of only part of the passage. But there is another point to bear in mind: the quotation of an OT passage in the NT is not necessarily a fulfilment at all. We cannot assume that a quotation means fulfilment. Examples:-
- Acts 15.14-17, quoting Amos 9.11,12. Many assume that this means that Acts 15 is fulfilling Amos 9. But it is never said to be fulfilling it. What is said is that what is happening in Acts is in agreement with what is said in Amos. James is not saying that the one is fulfilling the other, but that they agree together; they are in perfect harmony with each other. Much of the NT is not fulfilment of OT Scriptures, but it is not in disagreement with them.
- Heb. 8.8-12 and 10.15-17 refer to the New Covenant, quoting Jer. 31.31-34. Because the provisions of the New Covenant are quoted to believers in this age, many take it that the New Covenant is with the church, and so that there is no future for Israel as far as the New Covenant is concerned. However, nowhere in Hebrews does God say that this New Covenant is completely fulfilled by the church. In fact He re-iterates (Heb. 8.8) that it is with "the house of Israel and with the house of Judah". He quotes it to us as the Spirit’s "witness" (Heb. 10.15). Witness and fulfilment are not the same thing. The main benefit of the New Covenant to Israel will be that their sins will be remembered no more (Jer. 31.34). We bless God that this same benefit is true for the people of God today, and thus we can say that it is true that we do come into some of the blessings of the New Covenant. But that is not to say that we are the fulfilment of Jeremiah 31. The fact that present-day believers are said to come into of some of the blessings promised to the nation of Israel does not mean that we have replaced Israel in the purpose of God. That some of its blessings have been made good to us does not in any way mean that it will not be made good to Israel in a day to come. Here we have a case of amplification of an OT promise, to include us. The fact that it is amplified to include us does not in any way nullify its future fulfilment for Israel.
- Rom. 9.26, quoting Hosea 1.10,11 and 2.23. The whole context of Hosea chapters 1 and 2 show that these verses in Hosea refer to Israel being set aside and subsequently restored. However, in Rom. 9 Paul is using this verse to refer to Gentiles being brought into blessing. Amillennialists seize on this as a proof that the church fulfils Hosea’s promise to Israel. But Rom. 9.26 says nothing of the sort. Paul is simply quoting Hosea out of its original context, and is not suggesting for a moment that Gentile blessing is the fulfilment of Hosea’s words. He says "As he saith also in Osee". He is simply borrowing the quote, and applying it in a different context. He is not denying or changing the original meaning of Hosea’s words. They will be fulfilled. We must always remember that the Holy Spirit is free to quote a Scripture in a different context from its original OT reference. That does not in turn free us to dispose of the OT context altogether.
We do this frequently in everyday speech. For example, it is almost 150 years since H. F. Lyte wrote the words "Change and decay in all around I see". Often, as we consider conditions in the world today, we would say words such as, "As the hymnwriter said, "Change and decay in all around I see". When we do this, we are not trying to say that Lyte was describing conditions in the 1990’s, but we are borrowing his words and applying them to our situation, because they are as appropriate now as they were in their original setting. This is what Paul is doing in Rom. 9. He is borrowing Hosea’s words and giving them an application in a different context. But he is not doing away with the primary context.
- Example (i) above is a case of agreement between OT and NT.
- Example (ii) is a case of amplification of the OT context.
- Example (iii) is a case of application of an OT passage in the NT. But none of them is fulfilment. Thus we see that NT quotation does not mean the same as fulfilment, and does not preclude future fulfilment for the passages quoted.
(e) Another point of which we have to be careful, is the equation of things that are mentioned in the same passage but which are not equated in the passage. For example, the Amillennialist will use Acts 2.25-36, in which we read of the Lord sitting on David’s throne (v. 30) and we also read of His present exaltation in Heaven (v. 33), and put these two things together and say it proves that His present exaltation is Him sitting on David’s throne. But Peter simply does not say that they are one and the same thing. The two statements are a couple of verses apart and are connected only to the extent that His resurrection is the reason why He is exalted in Heaven and also the reason why He will be able to sit on David’s throne. They are two separate things. The fact that they are mentioned in the same passage does not make them the same thing.
(f) It must also be borne in mind that when believers in the NT are said to fulfil parts of an OT prophecy, that does not mean they fulfil all of it. There is no doubt that believers in this age do fulfil some OT prophecies, but we must not take that to mean that they fulfil all of them.
We get a good example of this in the use of the term "seed of Abraham" in Gal. 3 and Rom. 4 to refer to present-day believers. Amillennialists seize on this and take it to mean that all the blessings promised to Abraham’s seed in the OT are ours, spiritually. But if we look carefully at these 2 passages we will see which of the promises to Abraham are are said to be ours:—
Gal. 3.8: "And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed." Thus we see that in us is fulfilled the promise that in Abraham all nations would be blessed.
Rom. 4.13: "For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world". This phrase is not found in God’s words to Abraham in Genesis, but it clearly must refer to some promise that was made to him regarding the whole world. The only blessing promised to Abraham which was of a universal nature was that above, i.e. that in his seed would all nations of the earth be blessed. This therefore must be what is meant by his being "heir of the world".
Thus in both these passages it is made clear that the promise, in Abraham would all nations of the earth be blessed, is fulfilled in salvation through Christ for all nations. But nowhere in these two passages or elsewhere are present-day believers said to fulfil any of the promises relative to the nation and the land. These await literal fulfilment to literal Israel. The blessings for us spoken of in Gal. 3 and Rom. 4 were promised to Abraham. They do not go beyond God’s original promise, and no spiritualisation is necessary in order to bring them in. But we do not fulfil all God’s promises to Abraham. The promises to his physical seed will not be fulfilled in us.
Thus, when we take all the above points into consideration, we are not left with a single NT passage which nullifies or invalidates the original meaning and interpretation of an OT prophecy. In the NT we may get repetition, application, partial fulfilment, agreement, amplification, or broadening of the context of the original prophecy, but never does it entitle us to do away with the full sense and fulfilment of the original passage.
—to be continued (D.V.)
Assembly Testimony Bible Class
by J. Riddle (Cheshunt)
THE CHURCH AND THE CHURCHES (10) The Lord’s Supper (continued)
In our first study in connection with "the Lord’s supper", we noticed
- Confusion regarding the name of the supper, and
- Circumstances surrounding the institution of the supper. We must now consider the following. It will be helpful to have your Bible open at 1 Corinthians 11.
1) THE WAY IN WHICH THE LORD’S SUPPER WAS INSTITUTED
"And when He had given thanks", v. 24. This is far from a simple statement of fact. The Lord Jesus was about to suffer in a manner, and to a degree, that was totally unparalleled. In fact, it was in a manner and to a degree that no other person could ever suffer. He spoke about His body, and later about His blood, and He gave thanks! No Bible writer records the Saviour’s words, for precisely the same reason that we do not know exactly what the Lord and His disciples sang before they "went out into the Mount of Olives." There is divine wisdom in this: if the Saviour’s words had been recorded by the Gospel writers, they would have become a standard formula, and repeated on every occasion that believers meet for the Lord’s supper! But we do know that earlier He said, "Now is My soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father save Me from this hour but for this cause came I unto this hour. Father glorify Thy Name", John 12. 27-28. We also know that in His ‘high-priestly’ prayer, He said, "I have glorified Thee on the earth: I have finished the work which Thou gavest Me to do", John 17.4. Perhaps, therefore, the Lord Jesus ‘gave thanks’ because He knew that God would be glorified through His death, and that has certainly happened. Men and women, teenagers, boys and girls, saved because He suffered at Calvary, can sing:
"To God be the glory, great things He hath done; So loved He the world that He gave us His Son, Who yielded His life an atonement for sin And opened the life-gate that all may go in."
2) THE REASON FOR WHICH THE LORD’S SUPPER WAS INSTITUTED
"This do in remembrance of Me", v. 24. The Passover was instituted "that thou mayest remember the day when thou earnest forth out of the land of Egypt", Deut. 16.1-3. But here, it is, "In remembrance of Me." Hence the emphasis in 1 Cor. 11: "This is My body . . . this cup is the new testament in My blood … in remembrance of Me (twice)… the Lord’s death … . this cup of the Lord… the body and blood of the Lord … the Lord’s body."
We ought to notice that the Lord Jesus did not say, ‘This do in memory of Me’, but "in remembrance of Me." It is not a case of remembering someone that we had forgotten, but doing something quite deliberate. In the words of W.E. Vine, ‘The word (‘anamensis‘) denotes a bringing to mind, and here an affectionate calling of the Person to mind.’
People would have the greatest difficulty in complying, if any one of us was to make that request. Perhaps the first thing they would remember would be most uncomplimentary. Possibly they would have the greatest difficulty in remembering anything about us very clearly, and in any case, we might not really be worth a great deal of thought at all! But this is the Lord Jesus, and He will occupy the minds and hearts of His people for eternity!
His command, "This do in remembrance of Me", does not impose limitations: to the contrary, it opens vast horizons, and the well-known hymn describes the range:
- "Jesus! my Shepherd, Saviour, Friend,
- My Prophet, Priest, and King,
- My Lord, my Life, my Way, my End’
- Accept the praise I bring."
3) THE SYMBOLS WITH WHICH THE LORD’S SUPPER WAS INSTITUTED
i) The bread. "The Lord Jesus . . . took bread: and when He had given thanks, He brake it, and said, Take, eat; this is My body, which is broken for you", v. 23-24. Mr. Darby renders this: ‘This is My body, which (is) for you.’ The bread is a picture, or symbol, of His body. It could not possibly be His actual body, since He was bodily present at the time. The doctrines of transubstantiation and consubstantiation are blasphemous nonsense. The bread is a powerful reminder to believers that whilst the Lord Jesus was a perfect Man, He was not a mere man. He is "Jesus the Son of God", possessed of perfect humanity and perfect deity, not as a dual personality, but as "Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us", Matt. 1.23. "The Word became flesh and dwelt among us", John 1.14, JND. Every time we ‘break bread’, we confess the doctrine of the Incarnation, and therefore the doctrines of Christ’s stainless humanity and absolute deity. What a privilege!
But there is more. The bread tells us about the purpose of the Incarnation. The Lord Jesus said, ‘This is My body, which (is) for you’, JND. Peter refers to this, "Who His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree", 1 Pet. 2.24. Notice the expressions, "His own self, and, "His own body." The first refers to His deity, and the second to His humanity. The Son of God ‘became flesh’ in order to die for us at Calvary.
It is worth mentioning that the brother who actually breaks the bread at "the Lord’s supper" does so purely to help the gathered saints: ‘to enable the believers to break it decently and without difficulty’, W. E. Vine. He does not break the bread as their representative, but purely as their servant. We ‘break bread’ when we break off our individual piece. It is "the bread which we break": see 1 Cor.10.16 where Paul refers to "the Lord’s supper" in dealing with "the Lord’s table."
ii) The cup. "He took the cup, when He had supped (i.e. when the Passover had ended), saying, This cup is the new testament in My blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of Me", v. 25. We know, of course, what was in the cup – "this fruit of the vine" – but the Saviour said, "this cup", rather than, ‘this wine.’ The word "cup" is often used in Scripture as a symbol of judgement and death, see Ps. 75.8, Isa. 51.17,22, Ezek. 23.32-33. The Lord Jesus Himself said, "O My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me", Matt. 26.39. See also Matt. 20.22, "Are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of?" The cup reminds us, eloquently, that the blood of the Lord Jesus was shed under divine judgement.
But there is more. "This cup is the new testament (covenant) in My blood." The ‘old covenant’ was the law, under which God demanded righteousness, with the words, "Thou shalt . . . Thou shalt not." Transgression carried a solemn penalty: "Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them", Gal. 3.10. But under the ‘new covenant’, God imparts righteousness, with the words, "I will": see Heb. 8.8-12. When the ‘old covenant’ was instituted, animal blood was shed, Heb. 9.19-20, but the ‘new covenant’ rests upon "the precious blood of Christ". When we take the cup, we are reminded of "Him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood", Rev. 1.5. The cup reminds us that "without shedding of blood is no remission", Heb. 9.22.
4) THE DURATION FOR WHICH THE LORD’S SUPPER WAS INSTITUTED
"For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till He come", v. 26. Notice
i) Its celebration. "For as often as ye eat this bread …" Whilst there is no specific command, it was evidently the practice in New Testament times to ‘break bread’ on "the first day of the week." W. E.Vine is worth quoting in extenso: ‘The narrative in Acts 20 is instructive and significant. Concerning the apostle’s journey to Jerusalem via Troas, it is recorded that he ‘was hastening, if it were possible for him, to be at Jerusalem the day of Pentecost’ (v. 16 RV). In spite of this, he ‘tarried seven days’ at Troas (v. 6 RV), after arriving there on the second day of the week (our Monday). ‘And upon the first day of the week (the seventh day of the stay), when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul discoursed with them, intending to depart on the morrow’ (v. 7 RV). Clearly, he stayed all the week so as to be with them for the Lord’s supper on the recognised day, trusting the Lord as to arriving at Jerusalem as he hoped. There is obviously a divine purpose in the mention of these details of time. ‘As oft as’, therefore, does not mean that it is left to the saints to choose any time they like. It simply means ‘every time that’, i.e. on each occasion.’
Two things emerge very clearly from the narrative in Acts 20: firstly, the early believers ‘broke bread’ on the first day of the week and secondly, they broke bread in association with an established testimony. It was undertaken corporately, as an assembly activity. Notice the expressions, "come together", in I Cor. 11.17,18, 20,33. W. E. Vine continues,
‘Moreover, what is of paramount importance lies in the repeated ‘in remembrance of Me.’ Where the hearts of the saints are thus attracted to Christ, the gathering to partake of the Lord’s supper will have such a soul-stirring effect, that such an arrangement as a fortnightly or monthly fulfilment will be out of the question.’
ii) Its proclamation. "Ye do shew the Lord’s death." The word (‘katangello’) is used of preaching, see for example, Acts 4.2;13.5. The act of ‘breaking bread’, is ‘a silent proclamation of the fact, significance and efficacy of the Lord’s death’, W. E. Vine. So we sing,
- "No gospel like this feast,
- Spread for us, Lord, by Thee;
- No prophet nor evangelist
- Preach the glad news so free."
iii) Its anticipation. "Till He come." The Lord Jesus is coming back. He said so: "If I go and prepare a place for you, / will come again, and receive you unto Myself; that where I am, there ye may be also", John 14.3. The "Lord’s supper" takes us back to His first coming with all its shame and suffering, and it takes us forward to His second coming with all its glory and victory. So we sing,
- "For that Coming, here foreshown,
- For that day to man unknown,
- For the glory and the throne,
- We give Thee thanks, O Lord!"
One day, we will no longer take the bread and the cup at "the Lord’s supper": there will be no necessity to do so, for "we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is", 1 John 3.2.
It would be quite wrong to leave the subject without taking careful note of the solemn warning in 1 Cor. 11: "Wherefore, whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation (judgement) to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body", v. 27-29. We "eat of this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily", when our lives are inconsistent with our profession at "the Lord’s supper. We must ensure that we are right in ourselves, right with our fellow-believers, and right with God. Otherwise we are "guilty of the body and blood of the Lord", that is, we dishonour Him by treating His work at Calvary with indifference. "Let a man examine himself."
—to be continued (D.V.)
- Mary of Nazareth, unknown obscure,
- Of Adam’s sinful race, God reckoned pure
- To bear His Son, yet naught from her possessed
- Blest mystery, His earthly form in human guest,
- Nor could by her indwelling sin be stained
- Though she indwelt and she His life maintained,
- Such holy intimacy; for He apart from nature’s course,
- Was made, the Holy Spirit moved, o’shadowing mighty force,
- Thus Mary’s soul was opened to her God
- For she no line could trace to Jesse’s rod
- And magnifying praise arose, that she a root
- With Joseph was, while unattached, to bear "The Shoot";
- Her mouth was filled with what she knew
- From holy writ, Jehovah had fulfilled His promise true
- ‘The mighty from the throne hath He put down
- That those of low degree exalted be," to share His crown.
- Began His lonely life in lowly manger laid
- To shepherds first angelic hosts displayed
- With glory shining bright, voiced tidings of His birth
- The promise long concealed, Emmanuel on earth.
- Presented first to God for service true,
- Just Simeon held the Child and he the wonder knew
- That light to darkened nations now would shine
- And Israel too, in Him, their true Messiah find,
- His long devoted wait for consolation cease
- Content at last to leave the world in peace.
- This Child, foundation set for fall or rise
- Of those who would believe or else despise
- His precious worth, which all His path would mark
- Nor end, with sword in Mary’s soul, and His, in Calvary’s dark.
- Nazareth, whose limestone white reflects the sun
- Became His home, scene of subjection, ever obedient One
- Approving rays from heaven’s glory brought,
- His Father’s business in the temple sought
- And increased strong with wisdom filled and grace
- That daily more and more expressed His Father’s face.
- His days of fellowship the same, all even shorn,
- Himself apart could end the day as He begun at morn,
- Refreshment to His Father gave, up from the washing came
- Each day, before and coming, each bearing twins, the same
- Not one among them barren, all fruitfulness to God
- He only brought full pleasure, as heaven’s path He trod.
- Frail birds by wisdom wove their feathered nests
- Their guided skill unmatched by boastful man at best
- The fox had made the tunnelled hole his lair
- In air or earth, each settled home was there
- But He who knew the path before with every human loss
- Passed on, no earthly ties possessed, to face the cross.
- The path grew dark, for men opposed the light
- That brighter shone; His fame to Galileean sight
- Once glorified by all, soon dimmed in Nazareth to His own
- Who filled with wrath, they thrust Him out, rejected stone.
- His path must end, the Father’s work fulfill,
- Gethsemane, "The hour is come, is this Thy will?"
- Pierced to the cross for sin alone to die
- Broke from the darkest depths the triumph of His cry
- So closed the path; to lion, fowl and vulture all unknown
- But heaven saw, each precious thing evalued from the throne.
- —Roland Entwistle (N. Ireland)
Tongues and the Bible
by D. Mowat (Finland)
In these few articles we shall examine what the Bible says about the subject of speaking in tongues.
To facilitate our remarks we shall consider the following questions :
- What was the gift of tongues?
- What was the purpose of the gift of tongues?
- Has the gift of tongues ceased?
- What about tongues experiences today?
Finally we shall ponder some common questions and seek scriptural answers. In this first paper we shall concentrate on the first two questions above.
i) What was the gift of tongues?
The gift of tongues was first mentioned in the New Testament by the Lord Jesus in Mark 16:17 ‘And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues;’
In the Acts of the apostles, three occurrences of the gift are recorded:
And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. ‘(Acts 2.4). ‘And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. ‘ (Acts 10:45-46). ‘And when Paul had laid [his] hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied. And all the men were about twelve.’ (Acts 19.6-7). In his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul mentions the gift in chapters 12, 13 and 14.
The gift of tongues is not mentioned elsewhere in the New Testament. The above references must form the basis of our understanding of this subject. On examining the passages mentioned above, several points become apparent:
- Those who had the gift were able to speak in a language which was not their native tongue and had not been learned. This is the meaning of the word ‘new’ or ‘other’. The ‘tongue’ was new to the speaker and was not his own language. In Acts ch. 2 the bilingual Jews who had come up to Jerusalem for the feast of Pentecost were amazed to hear Galilaeans speaking fluently in their languages: ‘And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans? And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born? Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia, Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes.’ (Acts 2.7-10).
- Those who spoke in tongues spoke in a language which could be understood by others, as Acts ch. 2 clearly demonstrates. The gift of tongues was not the ability to speak in an ‘angelic language’, ‘spirit-tongue’ or secret prayer-language. See Paper 4 for further details on this point.
- It is evident that those who spoke in tongues understood what they were saying. ‘He that speaketh in an [unknown] tongue edifieth himself; but he that prophesieth edifieth the church.’ (1 Cor. 14.4). Throughout the Scriptures, edification is based upon understanding. I cannot edify (self or others) if I do not understand what I am saying. Paul underlines this throughout chapter 14. According to this chapter, the tongues-speaker was able to control the use of his gift. It was to be used intelligently. The Holy Spirit never by-passes the believer’s mind. ‘The spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets,’ 1 Cor. 14.32.
- Not every believer possessed this gift. This is clear from Paul’s rhetorical question ‘Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret?’ (1 Cor.12.30).
- In the church, speaking in tongues was prohibited unless there was an interpreter present, who could give an accurate, literal translation for the benefit of the rest of the church. ‘But if there be no interpreter, let him keep silence in the church;’ (1 Cor. 14.28).
- Although all gifts given by the Holy Spirit were valuable, Paul points out that the gift of tongues was of limited value. It appears the Corinthians were attaching undue importance to this gift, and this is the reason behind much of Paul’s teaching in chapters 12,13 and 14. In the two lists of ‘spiritual gifts’ where speaking in tongues appears at all, it is placed at the end of the list on both occasions. (1 Cor. 12.8-10, 28-30).
ii) What was the purpose of the gift of tongues?
Paul states the purpose of the gift clearly in 1 Cor. 14.21-22. ‘In the law it is written, With [men of] other tongues and other lips will I speak unto this people; and yet for all that will they not hear me, saith the Lord. Wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not: but prophesying [servelh] not for them that believe not, but for them which believe.’
Clearly then, tongues were for a sign to unbelievers – and particularly to Jewish unbelievers. Note that the Old Testament quotation states ‘will I speak to this people (Israel).‘
The Jews expected signs to accompany any new message or revelation from God. This is clearly indicated by several Scriptures e.g. ‘For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom:’ (1 Cor. 1.22). ‘They said therefore unto him, What sign shewest thou then, that we may see, and believe thee? what dost thou work?’ (John 6.30).
In the Old Testament, when Moses had appeared with a message from God, his message was attested by signs and wonders, Ex. 4.8. Confirmatory signs accompanied the commencement of Israel’s monarchy (1 Sam. 10.9) and during the Lord’s ministry, miraculous signs bore witness to His identity, John 12.37.
When the apostles began preaching salvation through faith in Jesus Christ, of course the Jews were reluctant to accept this ‘new’ message. They already had a religion which had come directly from God. They already had the Holy Scriptures. How were they to be assured that this new message was genuine? Simply by the signs and wonders (including speaking in tongues) which accompanied the preaching of the Gospel.
The writer to the Hebrews makes this point when speaking about the testimony of the early disciples -‘How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard [him]; God also bearing [them] witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will?’ (Heb. 2.2-4).
It is particularly important to note that every recorded incident of speaking in tongues in the book of Acts was witnessed by Jews — and their reaction is recorded:-
‘And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language. And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans? And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born? Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia, Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes, Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God.’ (Acts 2.5-11).
‘While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word. And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God.’ (Acts 10.44-46).
‘And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: and finding certain disciples, he said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed ? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost. And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized ? And they said, Unto John’s baptism (i.e. They were Jews). Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus. When they heard [this], they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid [his] hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied. And all the men were about twelve.’ (Acts 19.2-7).
It is also interesting to note that there were many Jews in Corinth (Acts 18.5), hence the use of tongues in that city.
So then it is clear that tongues were for a sign to the unbelieving Jews. When they heard an unlearned person speaking fluently in their own language, it ought to have convinced them that this new message was from God. According to Isaiah 28.9-20, the gift was also an indication of coming judgment – fulfilled by Titus’ destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70.
The gift of tongues was being abused in Corinth. It would appear from chapter 14 that they were using this gift in prayer (v.16). They were also using the gift in the church without an interpreter (v. 28). They were not exercising proper control in the use of the gift (v.23, 27). There may even have been a counterfeit pagan ‘gift’ in operation, 12.2-3.
Paul deals with the subject at length in this letter in order to teach the proper use and purpose of the gift and to stop its abuse by carnal Christians at Corinth.
Many charismatics today believe that the purpose for the gift of tongues is to edify (or build up) oneself. I Cor.14.4 is quoted to support this – ‘He that speaketh in an [unknown] tongue edifieth himself; but he that prophesieth edifieth the church.’ (1 Cor. 14.4). However a careful reading of the surrounding verses will show that the gifts of the Spirit were never intended for private, personal benefit. They were given for the building up of the church, not the individual. In this section, Paul is contrasting the value of prophecy with the gift of tongues – prophecy builds up the church: tongues (without an interpreter) builds up no-one but the speaker himself. Far from being the proper use of the gift, this is really the abuse of the gift. The subject will be dealt with in greater detail in Paper 4 (D.V.).
So, in conclusion, the gift of tongues was given by God as a sign to the unbelieving Jews.
—to be continued (D.V.)
FEAR THOU NOT
When we need help and comfort from the Scriptures there is no better place to find it than reading Isaiah 41.10.
This lovely verse, revealed to Isaiah some 2500 years ago, is still true for today, because God’s Word (like Jehovah Himself) is unchanging and declares to us God’s Providence, Provision and Protection.
In every circumstance of the Christian life these words of promise are a great blessing and encouragement; only one verse yet with seven assurances (one for each day of the week) all of which are confirmed in the New Testament. It is good to notice how personal are these words, Thee, Thy, Thou, and we are assured that our God knows and He cares.
1. FEAR THOU NOT – A word of COMFORT.
In the storms of life and the future being uncertain, a word of comfort, the voice of our Lord, comes to us ‘Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid,’ Mark 6.50.
2. I AM WITH THEE – A word of COMPANIONSHIP.
In times of doubt and anxiety and the way seems lonely, our Saviour is a constant Friend and Companion and has promised ‘I will never leave thee nor forsake thee.’ Heb. 13.5.
3. BE NOT DISMAYED – A word of CONFIDENCE.
Are you disappointed or discouraged? Remember we have a great High Priest who bears our names upon His shoulders (strength) and also upon His chest (love) and He speaks to His own ‘Let not your heart be troubled, ye believe in God, believe also in Me.’ John 14.1.
4. I AM THY GOD – A word of CONFIRMATION.
The God who directed Abraham and delivered Daniel is our God, so if our faith falters, remember Jesus said ‘I ascend unto my Father and your Father, and to my God and your God’ John 20.17. Have faith in (your) God.
5. I WILL STRENGTHEN THEE – A word of COURAGE.
Hymn—"Are we weak and heavy laden?" Well God has spoken ‘My grace is sufficient for thee : for My strength is made perfect in weakness,’ so like Paul we can say ‘When I am weak, then am I strong.’ 2 Cor. 12.10.
6. I WILL HELP THEE – A word of COMPASSION.
We all need help at sometime (or maybe always) but our loving God and Father is ‘our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.’ Psa. 46.1 so ‘we come boldly unto the throne of grace that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.’ Heb. 4.16
7. I WILL UPHOLD THEE – A word of CONSOLATION.
‘By My right hand’ is a symbol of God’s power, and Jesus said concerning His flock, ‘no man is able to pluck them out of My Father’s hand,’ John 10.29. With that assurance, we know that in our pathway through life we are safe and secure, knowing:— "The eternal God is our refuge, and underneath are the ever-lasting arms." Deut. 33.27.
—the late T. C. Taws, Basingstoke
MY CONVERSION AND CALL (41)
by Wm. Metcalf (Ontario, Canada)
I was blessed from the beginning by being born, the oldest of five children, into a home where the Bible was read and the Gospel was loved. Whenever Gospel meetings were held within driving distance, we were taken there. In the goodness of God, the prayers of my parents were answered and all five children were saved and continue in fellowship in God’s assemblies. We are the fourth generation to have come into the blessing of salvation, and privileged to be in God’s Assembly where the principles of God are held, and the Gospel clearly preached. Although I heard the Gospel preached from as far back as I can remember, yet I wasn’t saved until the age of 19. God spoke to me at different times, and the scriptures I had learned "from my youth up" were used by the Holy Spirit to preserve me in my teens, and stir in my soul a realization of my need as of salvation.
During the summer of 1958, two brethren, the late Lome McBain and the late Herbert Dobson, pitched a tent on my father’s farm in Brooke Twsp., in Ontario. Several souls were saved, including two of my brothers and my sister. I was somewhat stirred in these meetings, and the seed was sown. In July of 1959, a tent was pitched on the property where the new Lakeshore hall is now located, north of the town of Forest, Ontario. Brethren Norman Crawford and the late James Lipke preached the Gospel. I was awakened to see that I was lost, 2 Cor. 4.3 and also that my thoughts were wrong, Isaiah 55.8-9. Often I would go home after a solemn Gospel meeting when the issues of eternity were clearly preached, a Heaven to gain and a Hell to shun; I would lie awake in my bed in the still dark hours of the night, and with my little mind, think about eternity. I used to think, if eternity were 1000 years, at least when each one-hundred years went by, I could say that I had one-hundred years less to spend, but I could not do that with eternity, in its shoreless, boundless, measureless, endless time. Several souls were saved during these meetings, and night after night the Christians would sing "Oh happy day" outside the tent, but I wasn’t able to sing, as I had no happy day. When the meetings closed, I still was in darkness and a very troubled soul. On the Lord’s day following the closing of these meetings, the truth of Isaiah 53.6 was brought home to me by the power of the Spirit of God. I not only saw that I had gone astray, and that I had turned to my own way, but that all my sins were laid upon Him. ‘God who knew them laid them on Him and believing I go free". The truth of John 3.36 confirmed to my soul that I had ‘everlasting life’.
I then began to read my Bible and to study the scriptures from which I learned that I should be baptized. In September of 1959,1 had the privilege of obeying the Lord in the waters of baptism, in Lake Huron. I remember looking at the clear blue sky that afternoon and thinking, with joy in my soul, that I was doing this all for the Man in heaven, who died for me. What a joy came into my soul, as a result of obedience to His Word! I looked forward to each of the assembly meetings, and desired to be part of the fellowship. Soon I made my desire known to the brethren and was received into the fellowship of the assembly which met in a country area at Glen Rae, Ontario.
In July of 1962 my wife, Janet, and I were married and we resided in the City of Sarnia, Ontario, where we have been for the past 30 years. The Lord gave us five children, three boys and two girls, all of whom have professed faith in Christ. I was employed in a private firm as the accountant for the business. During the next seven years, I helped with Sunday School work and enjoyed door-to-door work in my spare time. The Lord continued to burden my heart for the souls of men, and I had the privilege of sharing in Gospel Meetings and seeing God’s hand in blessing. On April 1, 1969, we were commended in the work of the Lord by the Assembly in Sarnia to full time service. The years have gone by quickly and have been a time of joy. Even amidst the disappointments that come, we can say there has not failed one word of all His good promises.
After five years of labour in the town of Wallaceburg, Ontario, which is 35 miles south of Sarnia, brother James Beattie and I had the joy of seeing the Assembly planted there in October of 1975. My labours have been mostly in Ontario, and the U.S.A., seeing we live in a border City. In the summer of 1976 and 1991, I had the privilege of labouring with my spiritual father, brother Norman Crawford, in a tent in the Lakeshore area where I attended meetings the year God saved me. In both of these series, the Lord was pleased to grant blessing.
With the coming of the Lord near, we seek to redeem the time and continue on in the service of the best of masters. Oh to hear from the lips of the ‘King of Kings and Lord of Lords’, ‘Well done thou good and faithful servant.’ This will make all the effort more than worth while.
- The Word of God so often bids,
- We look upon God’s Son,
- And recognise in flesh displayed,
- Heaven’s own Beloved One.
- Misunderstood, though doing good,
- He walked amidst mankind,
- Sick men were healed by gentle touch,
- He broken hearts did bind.
- Yet rid of Him they longed to be,
- And brought to Roman court,
- His near disciple’s treachery,
- By silver coin was bought.
- Before the judge He humbly stood,
- ‘Behold the Man’ was spoken,
- True King, He stood in purple robe,
- A crown of thorns the token.
- His Kingship was despised by men,
- They mocked the Saviour’s claim,
- To rid the world of God’s own Son,
- Was their decided aim.
- But crucified and laid to rest,
- With grave clothes binding tight,
- He lived again at God’s command,
- Was raised by God’s own might.
- Disciples sought to show their love,
- And entered stone hewed gloom,
- ‘Behold the place’ the angel said,
- They saw an empty tomb.
- They soon would see Him on the shore,
- His name with joy exclaim,
- or He was risen and gone before,
- His new life to proclaim.
- Now we behold a heavenly King,
- In glory there He’s seated,
- He bids us live by faith in Him,
- Our greatest foe defeated.
- —W. Beynon, S. Wales
ADD NOT NOR DIMINISH
- Add not unto the God-breathed Word
- Nor from its page diminish aught,
- For all who do doth God declare
- Will surely be to judgment brought.
- Add not unto Christ’s Finished Work
- But sinner trust that work alone,
- For Righteousness was satisfied
- When Christ for sin did once atone.
—the late James H. Wilkinson (Co. Tyrone)