THE BLESSED HOPE
by D. M. Martin
THE EPISTLE BY JAMES
by E. R Bower
by E. W. Rogers
by J. E. Todd
HE WAS BEYOND REPROACH
By The Late Walter Scott
WITH AND WITHOUT HANDS
by J. Heading
FIVE REVELATIONS GIVEN TO THE APOSTLE PAUL
by D. M. Clark
MY CONVERSION AND CALL
by J. G. Hutchinson
by D. M. MARTIN, Dorset
Part VI—The Marriage Supper, of the Lamb.
After the judgement -seat of Christ and before His return WITH His saints, another event takes place in heaven. There is only one verse of scripture that records this event.
It is the marriage of the Lamb, and as another has said, ‘The Lamb" is a figure or description of the Son of God, which reminds us of His sufferings. The soul understands this, and therefore this title ‘The Lambs Wife! tells that it is by His sufferings the Lord has made her His own; that He so valued her, He gave up all for her. Even now as believers we are united in Christ; but the marriage speaks of another thing. It is the time when believers of this dispensation—embracing all from Pentecost until the Lord’s return — already glorified, and looked at corporately, are fully and finally associated with the risen and glorified Son of Man, with the One who, in His own matchless grace and love, has chosen the church to be His companion for ever. He is in the scene before us, on the eve of His appearing; but before He returns to the place of rejection He will formally take into union with Himself her who has shared in measure His, sorrows and sufferings, that He may display her to the world as sharing in the same glory as Himself (Cf John 17.22,23.) This refers to the time when He returns to take His power and reign.
- "And earth His royal bride shall see
- Beside Him on the throne".
The marriage is preparatory to this public display, and is the expression of His own heart of love in bringing the church into participation with Himself of His own glory and joy.
Several distinct things mark the celebration of the marriage. First, there are the outbursts of joy and praise. We shall hear the fourfold ‘Alleluias’ of verses 1,3,4,&6. They will reverberate to the farthest point of the universe, they will not be inspired by vindictiveness or revenge, but will be jubilant with the conviction that God has vindicated Himself and has proved that right can conquer wrong; truth, falsehood; and love, hate. Our anticipation as we think of the future is that God’s character and government of the universe will be amply vindicated. Contemporaneous with the fall of Babylon will be the marriage of the Lamb. Before He assumes, together with the saints, the task of governing the world, the union of supreme love will have been consummated, and the marriage supper will have been filled with guests. Note also that angels are our fellow-servants. "And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said unto me, See thou do it not; I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God; for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy." They acknowledge us as fellow-servants on the condition that we never fail from maintaining the testimony of Jesus.
But it is the Lamb Himself who attracts our gaze as the prominent figure of that day; and it is called, as another has said, "The marriage of the Lamb, not the marriage of the Church or of the Lamb’s Wife, but of the Lamb, as though the Lamb was the One chiefly interested in that joy. The Church will have her joy in Christ, but Christ will have His greater joy in the Church.
The strongest pulse of gladness that will beat for eternity will be in the heart of the Lord over His ransomed bride.
In all things He is to Have preeminence; and as in all things, so in this — that His joy in her will be greater than hers in Him.
- For thee, His royal bride — for thee,
- His brightest glories shine.
- And, happier still, His changeless heart,
- With all its love, is thine.
by E. R. Bower.
The identity of the author of this earliest of N.T. writings has been much discussed, but many commentators identify him as James "the Lord’s brother " for whom references occur at Matt. 13.5; Mark 6.3; Acts 12.17; 15.13; 21.12; 1 Cor. 15.7; Gal. 1.19 and 2.9.12. We need not dwell here upon the ‘difficulties’ concerning our Lord’s brethren, but accept the plain statement of Scripture and make one reference to the Jewish historian Josephus who speaks of "the brother of Jesus who was called Christ, whose name was James." James, was known as James the Just, or James the wise, and because of his long and frequent devotions he was also known as the "camel kneed." It is said that James was killed at the instigation of the Sadducean high priest Anannus, circa A.D.69, but earlier dates have been suggested. We need not dwell, either, upon the disputations which have arisen about the canonicity of the letter, or upon its apparent emphasis on ‘works’. The letter has been given an established place in the book which we accept as the Word of God.
The dominant theme is Faith and its Outworking, and one writer has given the letter the title, "The Necessity of a Living Faith" with the outline —
- 1. A Living Faith TESTED by trial
- 2. A Living Faith PROVED by works.
- 3,4. A Living Faith EVIDENCED by conduct, and
- 5. A Living Faith EXERCISED by persecution.
To avoid a multiplicity of headings and sub-headings, these headings have been adopted in the following notes, but it may be noted, too, that the phrase ‘my brethren’ also divides the letter into a series of thought-sequences, each of which arises from, or refers back to, the preceding sequence or sequences.
CHAPTER ONE. A Living Faith TESTED by trial.
v1. The salutation is similar to that used by these early bondservants (Rom. 1.1; Tit. 1.1; 2 Pet. 1.1; Jude 1.) but it is only here and Tit. 1.1 do the writers describe themselves as the bondmen of God. The addresses, in common with the letters of Peter and the letter to the Hebrews are the Jews of the Dispersion, the twelve tribes scattered abroad, but its lessons are for the whosoever will. See John 7.35. It will be recalled that at this time, tribal distinction was largely confined to Judah and Benjamin for, in historical terms the other tribes were practically non-existent, having been removed from the records until such time when God will bring Israel out from among the nations whence they have been scattered. It is a united Israel that James sees here, albeit just a remnant. Twice only in the O.T. does God speak to all the congregation — Ex. 12.3, "Take a lamb", and Lev. 19.2, "Ye shall be holy." As we read this letter we shall notice two very strong undercurrents — that of the law and that of the sermon upon the Mount. Did James use Lev. 19 as his ‘text’ for this letter?
vv.2-4. "Temptations" (v.2.) – trials; "Patience" (v.4.) -endurance; "Wanting nothing" (v.4.) – lacking nothing; "Fall into" (v.2.) – to be involved in. Cf. the seed that fell among thorns (Matt.13.7.) and the shipwreck (Acts 27.41). We are all familiar with the words, "Lead us not into temptation" (Matt. 6.13) but how do we equate them with what James is saying here? Guy King writes, "We shall never comprehend the matter if we treat this verse as two prayers: only as one prayer do we begin to see its meaning, correlating the ‘not’ and the ‘but’. I fancy the purpose is this — "Lead us not into . . ." leaving us to be overwhelmed; but "deliver us out of . . ." the evil to which it would seek to lead us … the best commentary is … 1 Cor. 10.13 "God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able." The involvement may result from circumstance outside of ourselves, or from our own actions, but if and when it comes, let us be happy about it because this is how faith is tested; where endurance is engendered; where perfection is attained; or as Matt. 24.13 has it in another context, "He that shall endure to the end, the same shall be saved." It is the overcomers who attain to the perfect work; a work wholly dependant upon God. It is thus that completion and contentment comes.
vv.5-8. "liberally" (v.5) – simply; "upbraideth not" (v.5) – does not reproach; "nothing wavering" (v.6) – doubting nothing. How do we deal with temptations when it comes? The answer is — pray. We need wisdom, but if this wisdom or nous is absent then, let us ask God for it. The prayer is not for the removal of the trial, but for wisdom to deal with it. "And it shall be given him". Any lack seen in v.4 is made up in v.5. There are no restrictions here; it is a simple asking; an asking unclouded by any doubt as to the answer. See Matt. 7.7-11; 21.21-22. This is the highest form of petition — faith unhindered by doubt. It has been said, "God has the right to test true faith; not in order that He might prove it so, but that we might prove it for ourselves. But he whose faith is never tried knows no tempest, fears no quicksands, and his ship needs no undergirding. But neither does he prove God." An evident reference to the storm of Acts 27. Another writer, "Holiness is perfected by the testings of life, and in the will of God there is no other way forward." A wavering faith is a mark of instability.
w.9-11. "low degree" (v.9) – lowly, humble; "low" (v.10) -humiliated; "grace of the fashion" (v.ll) – comeliness of appearance; "fade away" (v.11) – fade, wither, perish. Then, as now, men sought for riches. Our Lord warned, "Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth . . . but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven . . ." (Matt. 6.19-21). The operative word is ‘yourselves’. And how we need this message today! James reminds his readers of the dangers of wealth. The gospel is, or should be, a great leveller (Matt. 23.12). See Luke 12.16-21; 14.10; Mark 10.25; etc., It is not always a question of poverty or riches in terms of money, but, it may be, an attitude of mind in the face of trial; humility as opposed to boasting. "Blessed are the poor in spirit. . ." is the opening of the "sermon". To the church at Laodicea our Lord wrote, ‘Thou sayest, ‘I am rich’… but thou art wretched, and miserable and poor" (Rev. 3.17) and to the church at Smyrna, ‘I know thy poverty … but thou art rich" (Rev. 2.9). See Is. 40.3-8; Matt. 6.30; 13.5,6,20,21; Mark 10.28; Luke 12.16-21, 14.10 etc.,
vv.12.-15. "tried" (v.12) – tested and found worthy. Echoing the joy of v.2. James now says, "Happy is the man who endureth (the patience of vv.3-4) temptation" and in so saying, summarizes the nine beatitudes of Matt. 5.3-12 which end with the word, "Rejoice and be exceeding glad …" The Crown of life is the hope of the righteous Jew, and the church at Smyrna was told to, "Fear none of these things which thou shalt suffer … be thou faithful (or, full of faith) unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life." The Apostle Paul also spoke of the crown of righteousness laid up for him" (2 Tim.4.7-8). Israel met with temptation in the wilderness, but it was God who led them, humbled them, proved them, chastened them, that He might "make them know that man shall not live by bread alone" (Deut.8.1-6). "Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you . . ." (John 6.27). Thus patience has its perfect or complete work (v.4). We are told (1 Cor. 10.13) three things about temptation. It is common to man; controlled by God; and is conquerable by us through our Lord Jesus Christ.
"tempted" (v.14) – tried, proved; "enticed"(v.l4) – allured; "finished" (v.15) – completely finished. Temptation and its resultant evils do not come from God, for He cannot be tempted by evil. "He is of purer eyes than to behold evil and cannot look upon iniquity." (Hab. 1.13). Not knowing evil, He can neither tempt nor be tempted by it. Temptation and what follows is the result of our response to an allurement. This is a legacy from Eden’s garden (Gen. 3.6). Sin followed, then the wages of sin (6.23). Sin is the deadly plant arising from the seed of desire.
vv.16-18. "err" (v.16) – be misled, deceived; "good gift" (v.17) – the good act of giving. The Greek word is only here and Phil. 4.15; "variableness" (v.17) – variation in shadow cast by turning. Contrasting the evils of vv.14-15 is the new birth and its outcome; that is the good which, like the new birth itself, is from above. (John 3.3. margin). If the literal meaning of ‘good gift’ is followed then the thought here is more the ACT of giving than the gift itself, nevertheless it is the act which produces the perfect gift. The title ‘Father of lights’ may have come from Gen. 1.3, 14-19. The heavenly lights are the dividers between night and day, and are for signs and seasons. They may be eclipsed and under go change and variation (cf. the true North, the Grid North and Magnetic North as shown upon Ordnance Surveys), but God the Creator does not change. "I change not" (Mal. 3.6). The thought expressed by James here, we have met before. James says, "Of His own will begat He us by the word (logos) of truth" and the prologue to John’s gospel reads, "As many as received Him, to them He gave the privilege (margin) to become the sons of God . . . born, not of blood … but of God." (John 1.12-13; 3.8-9;). We are just as much a creation of God, as were the wonders of Genesis 1 for "if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature (creation)" (2 Cor.5.17). Begotten from above by the Word of Truth (Col. 1.12-17). The reason? "That we should be a certain kind of firstfruits of His creation."
- "From Thee is all that soothes the life of man,
- His high endeavour and his glad success,
- His strength to suffer, and His will to serve.
- But O, thou bounteous Giver of all good
- Thou art of all Thy gifts Thyself the crown;
- Give what Thou canst, without Thee we are poor
- and with Thee not, take what Thou wilt away"
vv. 19-20. The introductory ‘wherefore’ (you know it, or so that) links the new birth of vv.16-18 with its practical outcome of good works, seen here in four aspects. Knowing the new birth, we should know also the power that produced it. The first aspect is, in modern idiom, ‘keeping one’s cool’. A lost, or should it be, a found temper, is non-productive in righteousness.
v.21. Here is the aspect which means the setting aside of the carnal man who is "enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be." (Rom. 8.7). "Superfluity of naughtiness" – overflowing of wickedness. The A.V. ‘naughtiness’ had a rather different meaning than that usually associated with it today. It was sometimes associated with moral degradation. The sense here is rather that of maliciousness. The need to "lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us" (Heb. 12.1.). In contrast to ‘wrath’ (vv.19-20) let us "receive with meekness the implanted word" – the word by which we are begotten (v.18). The Greek for ‘engrafted’ or ‘implanted’ has a primary meaning or application of ‘inmate’, and the inmate here is our Lord Himself. James now preaches the gospel to his fellow countrymen. He is bringing them the word.
vv.22-25. "deceiving" (v.22) – deluding, beguiling, to deduce by false reasoning, cf. Col.2.4; "looketh" (v.25) – stoop down to look. Cf. John 20.5; "deed (v.25) – doing. Notice the progression – v.19, swift to hear; v.21, receive with meekness; v.22, be ye doers. The phrase ‘natural face’ is, literally, the face of his birth, and the implication appears to be that the fact and the face of his birth may soon be forgotten. Hearing without the doing is self-deception. Notice that it is not merely hearing, but forgetful hearing. And we turn again to the Sermon, "Whosoever heareth these sayings of Mine, and doeth them . .." (Matt. 7.24-27). We look at ourselves in the mirror -and we forget The better mirror is that of the perfect law, the law of freedom, and our look into that mirror should not be a fleeting or cursory glance, but one of a close examination. Cf. Ex. 12.5; Lev. 22.19-21; Deut. 17.1; 1 Cor. 11.28. We hear, we receive; we consider; we obey; and we are blessed. Thus it is that obedience is the third aspect of works.
vv.26-27. "seen" (v.26) – thinks himself; "religion" (v.26) – a careful follower of the observances connected with his belief; "affliction" (v.27) – tribulation. This is the fourth aspect of works – worship. There is something of the Pharisee in this man; his speech betrays him; he thinks ‘himself (Luke 18.9-14). Not only be slow to speak (v.19), but bridle the tongue. James will say more about mis ‘bridling’ or setting a rein upon in 3.5-12. Cf. Matt. 5.33-37. Within the context of these two verses the bridling of the tongue is more concerned with ‘religion’ as seen in words, and not in deeds. Pure and undefiled religion is manifested by deeds "before God’; help to the helpless is just one example of pure religion in action; another is to remain undefiled, unspotted and blameless in our relationships with the world. Not thinking self, but keep self. See 1 Pet. 1.19; 2 Pet. 3.14; 1 Tim. 6.14.
by E. W. ROGERS
On Belief in God
Of the wicked the inspired Psalmist has said, "All his thoughts are, there is no God" (Ps. 10.4 R. V.): and again: "The fool hath, said in his heart, there is no God" (Ps. 14.1). Yet neither such thoughts nor such words can banish God from the Universe, or destroy the fact that "He is". (Heb. 11.6). Not all unbelievers are atheists; not all avowed atheists are serious; but those atheists who profess sincerity would., if they could read themselves aright, discover that the thought is the child of the wish. To banish God from one’s life-sphere springs from the consciousness of guilt.
The believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, of course, necessarily believes in God, for He is the Son of God, and the Revealer of the Father. Not that anyone is able fully to comprehend the Godhead, seeing "No man knoweth the Son save the Father: neither knoweth anyone the Father save the Son and He Whomsoever He will reveal Him" (Matt. 11.27).
The Godhead is a trinity—a unity of Three Persons—each in every respect equal with the other, though differing in respective operations. As a cube is of equal height, breadth and length, each of these dimensions being equal to the other, yet there is but one cube, so, too is the Godhead. This, when it is a matter of persons, is confessedly a difficulty to the natural mind, but what is difficult to reason is not ipso facto contrary to reason. The Scriptures abound in evidence that the Father, the Son and the Spirit are the equal possessors of all the divine attributes, in eternity of being and all other things which are peculiar properties of the Godhead. Man must; not only believe that God is, but he must also exercise faith in respect of the mode of the being of the Godhead, accepting divine revelation while recognizing inability to offer a rational explanation thereof.
Scripture assumes the being of God. It does not attempt to give proofs of His being but opens with the majestic words ‘In the beginning God,’ and at once proceeds to show God at work. This working is later shown to be the harmonious working in respective proper parts of the Three Persons as One God. The whole book has to do with the relation of man to God and of the attitude of God to man. The Scriptures themselves are a very striking and conclusive evidence of the being of God while at the same time they assert it. By them God speaks.
Further, the fact that man has a conscience is itself proof to all who think of the existence of a Superior Power to whom the owner of the conscience is responsible. David, the king, was responsible to no superior ruler in his realm, yet when he sinned he recognised it was "Against Thee, Thee only have I sinned" (Ps. 51.4). His conscience smote him, and, instead of being indifferent to the wrong done to two of his subjects whom, in heartless despotism, he could have ignored, he had dealings with God in regard to it, he being subordinate to and responsible to Him. This candle of the Lord is within every man, though sometimes its light is not discerned; or, to change the figure, the pricks of this inward goad are not always felt. Yet, why is a man inwardly troubled because of wrong done, although he is aware that no earthly power can deal with him in respect of it? Why does the "dart strike through his liver," unless it be that, smother it as man may, he is responsible to God Who ‘is’?
Again, if man examines himself, he may learn that God is. His very being presupposes a prototype after Whose image and Whose likeness he has been made (Gen. 1.26). He possesses spirit, soul and body and is himself a trinity in unity. So is God. He possesses faculties and powers that the rest of creation has not. While it is true there are evidences of a fall, yet he is plainly still superior to the brute creation around. The anthropomorphic terms used in relation to God which indicate that He can see, speak, think, remember, plan, feel, has hands and fingers, etc. etc. all show that man is created after the likeness of God, and by his existence declares that God ‘is.’ As man in creation is lord, notwithstanding his fall, so, too, God is the supreme Ruler of all.
The universe itself is a further evidence that God is. The existence of the universe, of which both the world in which we are found and ourselves, too, are a part, demonstrates the prior existence of a Maker. Moreover, its orderly continuance demonstrates the existence of a sustaining God. God, by the agency of the Son, made "all things" (a term denoting the universe) and by Him it is held together (Col. 1.17. Heb. 1.3).
Yet again: the perfect and harmonious working of the universe demonstrates further that there must be a purpose and intention for which it was made, and this in turn presupposes One who purposed. The Scriptures reveal that "Apart from Him (that is, the Son of God) was not anything made that was made" (John 1.3.), that is to say, the Universe was not only made ‘By Him’ but ‘For Him,’ and He is the great Object that the Godhead had in mind when creation was formed.
Finally, the manifestation of providence in history proves the being God. This is far too large a subject to deal with adequately in this paper, but the honest reader of Biblical history (which, after all, is the only perfectly unbiased and reliable history of any of the happenings in the world we possess cannot suppose the disasters which befell the wicked and adversities which befell the righteous and the deliverances received in response to prayer (not to mention a host of other phenomena) were all merely matters of blind chance, and not of Personal intervention.
There is a further thing which must be observed, namely that there is but ONE GOD. This is categorically taught in Scripture (Rom. 3.30; Gal. 3.20; Deut. 6.4; Mark 12.32), although it is denied by man. Idolatry has long been practised, and man has devised claims in support of his multitudinous gods, but an examination of Isaiah ch. 42 and 44 and 2 Kings 19 will assure those who are open to be convinced that although "there be that are called gods," yet actually "there is but one God the Father, of Whom are all things" (1 Cor.8.5). Someone has written: "God is infinite in His being, and in all of His perfections. But the infinite, by including all, excludes all others. If there were two infinite beings, each would necessarily include the other, and be included by it and thus they would be the same, one and identical." These are weighty words and well worth pondering: it is conclusive evidence of the unity and singleness of the Godhead. This, of course excludes polytheism, pantheism, atheism and all cognate errors. There are not many Gods: creation itself is not God: the universe is not devoid of God: there is only one God. There are Three Persons, indivisible, without discord, or disagreement in either thought, word or action.
It may be further that sometimes a singular verb is used with a plural noun: e.g. ‘In the beginning God (Elohim a plural Heb. noun) created (a verb in the singular) the heaven, etc. This shows unity of action by a plurality of Persons. Sometimes a plural first person pronoun is used as in Gen. 1.26, 3.22, which demonstrates a plurality in agreement in the Godhead. Again, the singular pronoun is used with a plural noun: thus ‘Thou" is used as referring to Elohim (plural). Space forbids tracing throughout the Scriptures the harmonious working all Three persons, but Luke 15 is a splendid example, where the shepherd who seeks the sheep denotes the Lord Jesus; the light used for the recovery of the lost silver denotes the Holy Spirit and the Father welcoming the Prodigal denotes God, the Father. All these three are thereby shown to be actively engaged in perfect harmony, in respective parts for the ultimate good of ‘publicans and sinners.’ As another has written: "Each Person possesses the whole essence and is constituted a distinct Person by certain incommunicable properties not common to Him with the others."
God is made known to man by several names which Bible students can trace out with the aid of a good Lexicon. Such names afford an insight into the nature and power of God.
Notwithstanding all the foregoing, the being of God is altogether beyond the full apprehension of any man. "He only hath immortality (that is, essentially so) dwelling in light unapproachable, whom no man hath seen nor can see; to Whom be honour and power eternal, Amen" (1 Tim. 6.16). Nevertheless, ‘The only begotten Son, Who is in the bosom of His Father, He hath declared Him" (John 1.18), and the possessor of eternal life has a capacity to know God which all others lack. "This is eternal life, to know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, Whom Thou has sent.’ (John 17.3).
GOD REVEALED IN CHRIST
The believer has evidence far stronger and more convincing than the revelation of God in nature, in the world and in providence. He is not left to gather his knowledge of God from description; God has become personally manifest in His Son. The Lord Jesus is the ‘Image of the Invisible God.’ "We are not furnished with a written description of Who and What God is, but God in Christ has become His own Revealer, in personal, living action, by His own sayings and doings — that simplest and surest way of making Himself known."
He who knows Christ—not as a Man of history but as a Present Living Saviour — needs no other evidence that God is. That is sufficient, final and irrefragable.
by J. E. TODD
It was given to the prophets Ezekiel and Zechariah to set the scene into which the Lord himself will intrude by his second coming to earth to rule and reign.
In the 37th Chapter of his book Ezekiel visualises the return of the nation of Israel from their Babylonian captivity. He portrays the dried skeletons which had lain on Israel’s land since the Babylonian invasion as coming to life again (verses 1-14). There had been two nations formerly, Israel and Judah, but they would return as one nation (verses 15-23). Then their king of David’s line will come to them (verses 22-28).
Ezekiel passes over their rejection of their King, to tell of that was the task of Isaiah (52:13-53:12), Ezekiel is looking forward to the King’s second advent in the latter days (38:8,16.) He shows how at that time Israel will be back in the land of Canaan as a nation, see chapter 38 -39. The Jews were scattered from their land by the Romans as a result of the Jewish Wars when Jerusalem was destroyed in A.D. 70. After nearly one thousand nine hundred years Israel was reconstituted as a nation in the land in A.D. 1948. Later, as a result of the Six-day War, the Jews gained control of the whole of Jerusalem, thus ending the Gentile control of that city since Roman times. ‘Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled’ (Luke 21.24).
Ezekiel says that the nation of Israel has been gathered from many nations into the land (38.8). The land has known war but is now at peace (verse 8). The land has been a continual waste (verse 8) but is now blossoming (verse 12). Israel has an enemy to the far north of them (38:6.15,39:2), an enemy equipped with a huge army (38:2-6). If the 35th meridian of longitude, which runs 30 miles westward of Jerusalem, is traced to the far north it will identify the land of which Ezekiel is speaking. This army comes to invade Israel, for this purpose it must cross the river Euphrates, as a map will show. Compare this with John’s statements about the river Euphrates in the Revelation 9:13-21 and 16:12-14. But that army, expecting an easy victory (38:10-12) will be utterly destroyed by direct divine intervention (38:17-39:5). This is the battle of Armageddon (Rev.16:14-16). John uses the very language of Ezekiel (39:17-20) to describe this battle (Rev.l9:ll-21,see verses 17-18).
The prophet Zechariah paints the same general picture in the last three chapters of his book (12-14). Zechariah prophesies of the attack upon Jerusalem by many nations. (The land to the far north is a union of republics). Also he speaks of the city’s deliverance by the Lord. The time is when the Lord returns to the earth, the One whom they pierced (12:10), the One whom they wounded and smote (13:6-7), the One who will stand on the Mount of Olives (14:4), from whence He ascended into heaven (Acts 1.11-12). Then the whole nation will acknowledge Him as their Messiah (12.10).
"Thou wilt show faithfulness to Jacob and steadfast love to Abraham, as thou hast sworn to our fathers from the days of old’ (Micah 7.20).
‘And the Lord will become King over all the earth’ (Zech. 14.9).
By the Late Waiter Scott.
"There are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written" (John 21.25). No human pen could write down, nor could the world contain all the books that should be written. This is not hyperbolic statement, but sober truth.
Christ in Omnipotent Power is the subject of the first chapter of the Bible (see Col. 1.16). Christ in Divine Title and Glory, and in Human Relation to His Church and Israel form in brief the grand theme of the last chapter of the sacred volume. In the Old Testament Scriptures Christ in His own Person, as also in Sacrificial, Prophetic, and Regal glory combined with every moral excellence, is prefigured. We have to a large extent lost touch with the Christ of the Old Testament. To regard the earlier oracles of God as a mere epitome of combined history and biography entails serious loss. The Old Testament is redolent of Christ.
In the Ever-memorable Emmaus Journey of nigh seven and a half miles, the Lord Himself expounded to His two fellow travellers, the true character of the Old Testament. "And He said unto them. "These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the Law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning ME."
In this threefold division of the Old Testament, we get foretold His Deity; His Holy Humanity; His pre-existence before all worlds; His truly miraculous Birth; His Divine mission; His Sacrificial Death and attendant circumstances; His Resurrection; His Ascension; His present session at God’s right hand; His Coming in Person and in Power and Glory; and His Kingdom Reign of one thousand years. Type, voice, song, and harp combined utter His glory and proclaim His worth.
The grace of His Person and the splendour of His Kingdom form the delightful theme of Psa. 45. We love to read Psalm 72. What a rich and full unfolding of the character of the Messiah in righteousness and compassion!
The poor and needy find a shelter and deliverance in the reigning monarch; whilst the proud and disobedient bow before Him and lick the dust. The kings and nations of Europe and Asia pour their gold and treasures at His feet. Daily worship of the king, and prayer for the continuance of His reign with other features of deepest interest, invest this grand Millennial Psalm with a glory second to none. He is presented!
He is the perfect Man of Psalm one; The Messiah of Psalm two; the Son of Man of Psalm eight; the Obedient One of Psalm sixteen; the righteous One of Psalm seventeen; the Victim for sin of Psalm twenty-two; the Shepherd of the sheep of Psalm twenty-three; the King of Glory of Psalm Twenty-four. :
But in truth, the precious books of the Old Testament are one and all full of Christ. We need spiritual eye-salve to discover the rich hidden glories and beauties of God’s beloved Son. Perhaps the most meaningless book in the sacred canon (if Christ is not read into it) is Leviticus—dry and uninteresting in the extreme. But what a delightfully fascinating book to a spiritual mind! How its every page, almost every word, glows and glitters, when the sacrificial and priestly glories of Christ are discerned. We want Christ. The heart cries out and aloud for Him only.
Besides finding a harmonious and voluminous witness to Christ in the earlier oracles of God, there are more than 300 chosen texts, predictive of His Person, His offices, work, and service. Between the Testaments—a period of 400 years—the voice of prophecy is silent, the song of the bard is hushed, and the harp hung on the willows.
John the Baptist on the banks of the Jordan, breaks the long silence, and bears public testimony to Christ as the King of Israel, the Light of the world, and the Son and Lamb of God. Thus the sun breaks and the shadows flee. In the former Dispensation God was hidden behind the separating veil, and the inscrutable glory of His Person wrapped round Himself in an unfathomable mystery. But the great characterising feature of the new Dispensation is the full orbed glory of God manifest in flesh— fully revealed to men. The more than 300 descriptive texts in the Old Testament centre and circle in the Lord Jesus Christ. What a Person! Little wonder that the sacred page glows in its revealing light of Jesus.
The four Evangelists were commissioned by the Holy Spirit to write the actual life of Christ—the most marvellous life ever lived. It is a perfectly human yet entrancing life. One of absolute holiness, of exquisite tenderness, of profoundest depths of compassion, of deathless love of infinite grace, of inflexible righteousness, of patience, of meekness, of gentleness, of conscious dignity. Infants nestled in His sheltering arms. One who had been justly rebuked rested his head on His bosom. At His touch, sin fled, while sinners worshipped at His feet. He was the most accessible of men. His charm of manner begat confidence in the hearts of the sinful depraved. He was at home in the company of sinners.
His Holiness was Not Repellent, not of the monastic or convent type. He sang, He wept, He rejoiced, He prayed, He suffered, He hungered, He thirsted, He toiled as other men, yet not a trace of selfishness in all He did. He fed thousands, yet never wrought a miracle to satisfy His own needs. "Show me a penny" was the expression of His poverty, yet He made many rich. In life and in death the cry of need ever brought immediate and effectual help.
All this and more, combined with every moral beauty, in constant hourly exercise for more than 30 years was the actual life of the Son of God—a life without a flaw, without a taint. We can but say: "He was a Man amongst men!" Yea, "altogether lovely." In nature He was unassailable—for Satan, the prince of this world, could find nothing in Him—nothing but Divine perfection and human excellence (John 14.30).
In the varied activities of life, He was Beyond Reproach—His very enemies being witness—"Which of you convinceth me of sin?" (John 8.46) is a challenge unanswered then as now. Such and more than pen can trace, tongue can tell, or mind conceive was the life lived on earth by the One Who in His mind Person was and is—
- SON OF GOD in Divine Greatness.
- SON OF MAN in Matchless Perfect Humanity.
- SON OF DAVID in Royal Right and Glory.
- SON OF ABRAHAM the Depositary of Promise.
- SON OF THE FATHER in Personal Intimacy and Relationship.
And by One Who is worshipped by many angels round about the Throne, by the living creatures, and by the Elders … saying with a loud voice, "Worthy is the Lamb that was slain" (Rev. 5.11,12). By Grace, and by Grace alone, you and I will be there. HALLELUJAH.
by J. Heading, Aberystwyth
Read Isaiah 66.1-2; Daniel 2.45; Mark 1458; John 2.19; Acts 7.47-50; 17.24; Hebrews 9.11,24.
Materialism, and hence ritualism, marks Christendom. In the Old Testament, the tabernacle constructed by Moses and his fellow-workers as well as the temple built by Solomon and the thousands of his workers were material structures. They were made with hands motivated by devoted hearts. One was simple so that it could be transported through the wilderness and the other was large and rigid, permanently in Jerusalem. In both cases, there was an elaborate system of ceremony associated with the service of tabernacle and temple. This ceremony was given by God, and was a prophetical picture of many aspects of the person and sacrifice of the Lord Jesus, then yet to come into the world. These ceremonies were also carried out with hands, and as long as faithful priests and Levites were obedient to the revealed will of God then He too was satisfied with this ceremony, since He could look beyond the material shadows and see His Son and His sacrifice then many hundreds of years in the future.
But as soon as the Son had come, and had died on the cross, God had no more need of a ceremonial system based on material objects made with hands, particularly since Herod’s temple in Jerusalem had no divinely-given authority for its building and existence, and since the priests had over the centuries added many things to the divinely-ordained ceremony, these additions being merely the work of hands with no spiritual meaning. However, though ceremony should have ceased there and then, how religious men loved to perpetuate materialistic ceremony! At such a stage, ceremony became ritual, and has remained like that over all subsequent centuries. Today, Christendom is largely concerned with things made with hands, and hence the Lord Jesus is displaced from His proper position as made without hands. We think of Cathedrals and so-called church buildings which merely mimic Solomon’s materialistic temple. There are also to be found altars, altar rails and veils, together with priests and their garments, being but copies of the Old Testament priests and their robes. There are also bishops and archbishops that are merely copies of the high priests in the Judaistic era. Choirs and mass-singing, religious festivals, candles and bells merely reproduce Old Testament concepts. The concept of a New Testament church or assembly is thereby discarded entirely. Judaism with a thin veneer of Christianity is still Judaism and not Christianity at all. An attempt to use moral teaching of the Lord Jesus or of His apostle Paul is, under these circumstances, a mere excursion back to the law, and does not lead to salvation by grace which is foreign to all religion made with hands.
Title subject is therefore an important one for believers today because even in Paul’s time, there were those who were seeking to return law and ceremony, as in the Epistles to the Galatians and to the Hebrews. Paul declared that he would not build again the things that he had destroyed (Gal. 2.18); the things made with hands that had once been gain to him he now counted loss for Christ (Phil. 3.3-8). It is good when a believer today can look over his past life, recalling when he discarded a religion made with hands, and embraced truth made without hands.
We shall examine the subject from the Scriptures, based on the references given at the head of this article.
Throughout Old Testament times, God knew that the old "made with hands" economy would be replaced by a "made without hands" economy. After the exodus, He had said, "let them make me a sanctuary; that I may well dwell among them" (Exod. 25.8). Solomon began to see that a change was coming, "will God indeed dwell on the earth? behold, the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain thee; how much less this house that I have builded?" (1 Kings 8.27). Later, He confirmed this through the prophet Isaiah, saying, "The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: Where is the house that ye build unto me? and where is the place of my rest? For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been" (Isa. 66.1-2). It may not be quite obvious that these two verses refer to the change, but Stephen quoted this in Acts 7.48-50 as a proof that the most High does not dwell "in temples made with hands".
The Jewish Sanhedrin could not tolerate the thought that their cherished centre of religion would no longer be recognized by God. They has accused Stephen of stating that "Jesus of Nazareth shall destroy this place" (Acts 6.14). Admittedly the Lord had taught that not one stone would remain upon another (Matt. 24.2), and that the city would also suffer the same fate (Luke 19.44). But this would be done by the Jews’ enemies, namely, the Romans. Whatever Stephen had said, the Jews twisted his words so as to give them another meaning. Consequently, in his final address to the Sanhedrin, Stephen traced the history of Israel from Abraham to Solomon, showing their resistance to the Holy Spirit. He ended his historical survey with the proof that the most High did not dwell in temples made with hands. In other words, God had no interest whatsoever in man-made religious ritual, such as Herod’s temple and its service. These men had been murderers of the Just One, in keeping with the Lord’s own words, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise up" (John 2.19).
The Lord said this in the temple courts at the beginning of His ministry. They did not understand, neither did His disciples, men thought materialistically, thinking of the forty-six years already spent on the building of Herod’s temple. Such a building made with hands was built entirely of stones, metals and dead wood; men can only build with dead things, or with material that has never possessed life. How unlike the Lord Jesus. In Him was life; He was "a tender plant, and as a root" (Isa. 53.2), and He was the true vine. He indeed died on the cross, but His was eternal life, and so in stating that the temple would be raised up, "He spake of the temple of His body" (John 2.21). Truly His holy body had originally been made without hands, for the conception was miraculous, and His resurrection also was without hands, for this had been a divine work, manifested firstly by an angel opening the tomb for women and men to see it empty.
However, when the Lord stood in His perfection before the Jewish Sanhedrin at His trial three years later, false witnesses were able to quote and to misquote His words, saying, "We heard him say, I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and within three days I will build another made without hands" (Mark 14.58). This witness was false since they accused Him of stating that He would destroy the temple (instead of themselves), and they added the words "made without hands". How correct they were, indeed, with this latter phrase, but correct statements can be made when falsehood is intended! The suggested reasoning in their minds is that, because "three days" had been stated by the Lord, therefore a miracle had to be involved for a huge temple structure to be rebuilt in so short a space of time, and consequently it had to be "without hands", which of course they did not believe. So to them this false witness appeared to be a very suitable subject to bring up at the Lord’s trial.
Certainly Stephen’s true testimony did not convince the Jews; it just brought out their hatred. Neither did Paul’s testimony convince Gentile unbelievers in Athens. Their city was full of idols and temples made with hands; this was the substance of their false religion. Paul had to stress that God who created the world and all things in it did not dwell " in temples made with hands" (Acts 17.24), and that He was not worshipped "with men’s hands", namely with man-made idolatrous ritual. Paul could have said the same thing in Ephesus later, concerning "the temple of the great goddess Diana" (Acts 19.27). Paul’s words merely led to mockery. They wanted gold, silver and stone, so the doctrine of the resurrection of Christ was quite foreign to them.
It is sad when believers also need to be reminded of the truth that ritual has no place in their worship, service, lives and testimony, the writer to the Hebrews must have had a heavy heart as he sought to convince the Hebrew Christians that it was useless to return to ceremony and ritual. The Old Testament ceremony could not accomplish anything spiritual; it could not do anything that the Lord Jesus had come to do through His sacrifice. Thus in chapter 9 we have the Old Testament tabernacle described together with the day of atonement (vv. 1-10). All this was "made with hands". By contrast, "Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building" (v.11). He has entered into heaven itself, and the value of His blood shed here on earth speaks infinite things to God in heaven. Verse 11 speaks of His coming, but verse 24 speaks of His going, "Christ is not entered into the Holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us". The reader will see that the spiritual counterpart to the Jewish day of atonement has nothing to do with ceremony and ritual whatsoever. But Christendom will just not see this, and clings to its ritual because of its love of all things material. Clearly believers must watch very carefully, lest they drift unwittingly into materialistic pathways in worship and service. The Father desires worship "in spirit and in truth", namely "without hands". To seek to taste or to experiment with "another field" (Ruth 2.8) is not honouring to the Lord.
The only stones that God is interested in now are firstly the One Living Stone, the Lord Jesus, and secondly the living stones consisting of believers. These from the "spiritual house" where "spiritual sacrifices" are offered (1 Pet. 2.4-5). Nothing "made with hands" exists here, so away with materialism in our concepts of the house of worship. New converts also need to be converted from false ideas and practises, and this process of conversion may take some time, depending on how ingrained the false concepts may be. But Paul was saved from Jewish ritual immediately he was found by the Lord on the Damascus road.
We may conclude by references to the future. After the rapture, materialism will abound. The religion of "Mystery, Babylon the Great" will be solely materialistic in its perpetuation of idolatry. The merchants associated with Babylon will deal in "the merchandise of gold, and silver, and precious stones", followed by a long list of inanimate and animate objects, concluding with the "souls of men" (Rev. 19.11-14). That is the final object of tempting men with materialism in religion, namely, to gain their souls for Satan.
Politics has also been of a character "made with hands" throughout history. God has allowed it, but has shown its true nature in the book of Daniel. The image in Daniel 2 has consisted of the Kingdoms and leaders of Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece and Rome, and Rome will dominate in the future as far as its nature; is concerned. But God will terminate the whole system, when the Kingdom of His Son is established. In the King’s dream, there was "a stone cut out without hands" (Dan. 2.34,45) that would destroy the image, and then the stone would become a great mountain to fill the whole earth. This stone will be the Son of man, coming from heaven, a stone made without hands, and hence alone able to deal with the vast Kingdoms of men that are and will be so contrary to the divine will. In the present day, the aspirations of the Lord’s people are far from the politics of men, that so obviously has developed as "made with hands". Believers are concerned with the truth "made without hands".
D. M. Clark (Stoney Creek)
The Apostle Paul was raised up of the Lord to carry the gospel beyond the limits of Judaism. Although he was not the first to carry the message to the Gentiles he was specifically commissioned by the Lord to do so. Acts 9:15-16, "But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he (Paul) is a chosen vessel unto Me, to bear My name before the Gentiles, and Kings, and the children of Israel: For I will show him how great things he must suffer for My name’s sake."
There are five special revelations given to the Apostle from the Lord Jesus. They are included in the "gospel" which he preached and each can be identified as received from the Lord. Gal. 1:11-12. "But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ."
The purpose of this paper is to consider those revelations.
(1) THE MYSTICAL BODY OF CHRIST
That this revelation was of divine origin is learned from this passage in Eph. 3:3-6, "How that by revelation He made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words, whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ) which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto His holy apostles and prophets by the spirit; that the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ by the gospel." J.N.D.’s rendering of the sixth verse is helpful too: "That (they who are of) the nations should be joint heirs, and a joint body, and joint partakers of (His) promise in Christ Jesus by the glad tidings."
The mystery, revealed to Paul, was that Jews and Gentiles alike would be joined together in one body and thereby inherit-in-common all that Christ would bring them into. Each lost their identity in the unity that was to be known as the Body of Christ. They became joint members in the body, for the middle wall of partition had been broken down, through the work of Christ. Eph. 2:14-17.
For the Jew, who had been set apart from all other nations by the covenant that God instituted with them, this was a very difficult truth for them to grasp, and for many impossible. The prophetic scriptures told them that God would ultimately bring all the Gentile nations into subjection under them, e.g. Is. 54:3, and 60:5. What they failed to recognize was God’s timing as to when His kingdom would be established on the earth. They should also have learned, from the scriptures, that God would raise up One from among them Who would be a light to lighten the Gentiles, Isa. 49:6. None other, of course, than the Lord Jesus.
The truth of the mystical Body of Christ had to be a revelation from God to Paul because he testified that his background was not only opposed to Gentiles but also to Christianity. The thought that he, a Jew would ever be joined with Gentiles was absolutely abhorent to him. Here is what he declared about himself. "Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless," Phil. 3:5-6. Quite clearly it was not of his volition that he would have anything to do with the Gentiles. God had to reveal it to him.
It is true that God will once again take up His earthly people Israel and establish them on the earth as His chosen people. However we who constitute the Body of Christ will at that time reign with Him over the earth.
This uniting of Jews and Gentiles in One Body now divides the entire population of the earth into one of three positions, as stated in 1 Cor. 10:32, "Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God." Through faith in the Lord Jesus we become members of the church of God. For those who are not part of His church, God sees such as being either Jews or Gentiles.
(2) THE EXPRESSION OF THE UNITY OF THE BODY
The remembrance of the Lord in the Lord’s supper was a further revelation to Paul, as he says in 1 Cor. 11:23-24, "For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, that the Lord Jesus the same night in which He was betrayed took bread: and when He had given thanks, He brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is My body, which is for you: this do in remembrance of Me." Note the omission of the word broken, which is not in the original. It tells us that the Lord gave His body for each of us personally. Further it tells us that the loaf of bread, (not individual pieces of wafer) is a statement about the unity of the members into one body. It is the Holy Spirit that unites us into one body. This unity of the Spirit we are to strive to maintain in spite of the disunity seen in Christendom. "Using diligence to keep the unity of the Spirit in the uniting bond of peace," Eph. 4:3.
When we remember the Lord in His death it is as members of His Body, and we see that expressed in the loaf which also speaks of His; own Body given in death for us. 1 Cor. 10:17, "For we being many are one bread (or loaf), and one body: for we all partakers of that one bread (or loaf)."
What a unique privilege we have of gathering together with the Lord’s people, as members of His Body, to partake of the loaf and witness to the rest of the world that we are one with Christ!
When the two tribes of Benajamin and Judah were separated from the other tribes in Israel, the table of show bread was maintained in the Temple. On it were twelve loaves, not just two, for under God they were all the children of Jacob. Even so the loaf on the table of remembrance is indicative of the entire body of Christ, though there may be few that actually partake of it.
(3) THE CHANGE
1 Cor. 15:51-52, "Behold, I shew you a mystery; we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed." The mystery of which Paul speaks is one of God’s secrets that was not known but has now been made known to His people.
In the resurrection the saints who had gone to be with the Lord, but whose bodies "sleep", will return with Christ and will be joined to their resurrected bodies, made like Christ’s body of glory.
For those of us who remain until his coming we too shall be changed and receive our new bodies. Phil. 3:20, "For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto His glorious body, according to the working whereby He is able even to subdue all things unto Himself."
(4) THE RAPTURE OF THE CHURCH
1 Thess. 4:15-17, "For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive (and) remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord."
This further revelation was given to Paul directly from the Lord. What a glorious prospect this is, to know that at the end of life’s journey we shall be "with Christ". The Lord graciously has given these truths to us so that we may enjoy them now and have assurance for the future.
(5) THE HEADSHIP OF CHRIST OVER ALL
Eph. 1:9 "Having made known unto us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He hath purposed in Himself: that in the dispensation of the fulness of times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which arc on earth; even in Him." These verses provide us with the key to the Bible.
Here we have the culmination of God’s eternal plan revealed to us. Since before the foundation of the world, God’s purpose has been the exaltation of His Son as Head over the entire universe. It is true that He is now "by the world rejected" and we share that rejection’with Him, however, the enemy has been defeated. He will finally be seen by all as the KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.
1 Cor. 15:24-25, ‘Then cometh the end, when He shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when He shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign, till He hath put all enemies under His feet." And so we enter the eternal state.
* * *
Paul was the man to whom the Lord imparted these wonderful truths. These revelations are intended for our instruction and through then we are given to see beyond our current limited horizons and perceive the final outcome of God’s counsels. What a day of rejoicing that will be!
J. G. Hutchinson (N. Ireland)
I was born at Carryduff, Co. Down in 1920 and my parents were in fellowship in the Lessans assembly from whence my father was commended to.the work of the Lord in 1917. When I was one year old we moved to Banbridge.
From earliest days I had desires to be saved. In 1928, while staying with my grandmother at Killynure, I attended meetings conducted by Mr. E. Hughes in Lessans Gospel Hall and would really loved to have been saved but I could not understand it. It was in 1934 that I was saved when Mr. W. Johnston and my father had meetings in a tent at Huntly.
Soon after my conversion the Banbridge assembly took an interest in me and I was baptised and received into the fellowship of the assembly. I well remember Mr. McCabe saying to me, "Jim, we have decided to baptise you and bring you into the assembly. Now this is a big thing for you since it means that from now you will be part and parcel of the assembly, sharing in its privileges and responsibilities."
In 1938 Mr. D. Craig, "Scotch Craig" as he was affectionately known, had ministry meetings in Banbridge. I do not think I will ever forget a Lord’s day, when he linked Leviticus 1 with Romans 12. The truth of it reached my heart, The meeting closed that afternoon with singing "What glad returns can I impart for favours so Divine, O take my all, my weary heart and make it only Thine." From that day life was different — I wished to do the will of God, to please and serve Him; but how and where?
In 1941 I went in business to Londonderry city, where the assembly was then large and spiritual. I was made welcome and quickly became involved in its activities, particularly the gospel work in the Sunday School and open air testimony. The conviction was growing with me that God would have me give my life to the work of the gospel. I helped some evangelists and local brethren in meetings in houses, barns and halls and God was pleased to let us see some blessing in salvation. I felt if I was to be engaged in the Lord’s work it was important that I should see His hand working with me.
More than once I was approached by elders in the assembly and asked if I was exercised about full time work but not being sure I was guarded in my reply.
Somehow learning of my thoughts, Mr. James Geddis, who was on furlough from Rhodesia, came to see me and very warmly encouraged me to join him in that land. I gave it much thought and while natural inclinations would have been to go, I had no light or peace of mind about it. My father was very happy about my exercise and encouraged me to consider another field rather than Ireland, but each time I engaged in prayer about the matter Matthew 2.13 came to me in power, "be thou there until I bring thee word". I was convinced then, and still am now, that Ireland should be my field of labour.
Asking for a meeting with the assembly overseers, I put my exercise before them. When I finished I said, "I will leave now and you can discuss the matter." "No," said the oldest man, "the thing proceedeth from the Lord. We will commend you." This they did with the agreement and fellowship of the Banbridge assembly. I would not have been happy to proceed without their approval.
Some days later I went to see the owner of the business where I was local manager, to tell him what I was about to do. Just before entering his office I hesitated and went into a little cloakroom where I pulled out my New Testament and it opened at Acts 16.10, "assuredly gathering that the Lord had called us to preach the gospel." Immediately I saw the owner and told him of my decision. "Well, "said he, "you have a good position with excellent prospects and there is not much future in what you are going to do." Replying that he and I looked at life from different angles he then said, "yes I know that; if ever you want your job back come to me and you will get it." That was in 1946 and I have not been out of work since! With more to do in the great harvest field, than one will ever accomplish.
When I handed over to the new manager I went home, I’ll admit feeling downcast — no job, no money, and my wife expecting our first baby. I went to pray and like balm from heaven came the words of Genesis 15.1, "Fear not,… I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward." That day in the mid-day mail I received a letter with five single pound notes and a card to say "a little token of fellowship with you in your new job."
It had been my privilege to labour with quite a number of the Lord’s servants, many of them now with the Lord. I treasure their memory and thank God for much I have learned from them. I have travelled a good deal, more than I ever expected to, and I can only speak good of God and His beloved people. In the gospel the Lord has encouraged by blessing the preaching. In six countries abroad, some labour who were saved in meetings I held and others are overseers in local assemblies.
No doubt many feel if they had life to live over again, they would do it differently. If I had the choice I certainly try to do better, but I would by all means do as I did — give my life to the gospel.
Some weeks before he went to be "with Christ," Mr.J.K.Duff said to me, after a gospel meeting, "Jim, if you and I had gone into business and made a million pounds, we would have to leave it all behind. Isn’t it nice to have chosen something for God and eternity." That is how I feel still after all these years.
Luke viii. 43-48.
- In the crowd that gather’d there,
- Round the Saviour on His way,
- Going, at a father’s prayer,
- Where a maiden dying lay.
- One there was whose sore distress
- Prompted her those steps to take,
- Nearer through the crowd to press,
- Trial of His grace to make.
- Skill’d physician there was none
- Till this wondrous Healer came;
- Mighty miracles were done
- By the naming of His name.
- Healing power in Him resides,
- If I touch, I shall be cured,
- Boundless grace in Him abides;
- She of both was well assured.
- Fully in Him she believed,
- Touched Him softly, trembling much:
- In a moment she perceived
- She was healed by that one touch.
- Jesus turned and looked around,
- Asking of them, "Who touched me?"
- And the woman courage found,
- To confess that, it was she.
- Then the Lord rejoiced indeed;
- There was one whom He could bless,
- One who trusted, in her need,
- Both His power and willingness.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
Being puffed up with conceit doesn’t mean that a man is a swell guy.
No one gets less true pleasure out of life than he who lives only for pleasure.
God loves everyone of us as if there were but one of us to love.
Give your all to Christ: He gave His all for you.
The man who lacks the courage to make a start has made a finish already.
—Anthony Orsini, Florida, USA.