PAPERS ON PROPHECY
by W. W. Fereday
by D. McAllister
ASSEMBLY TESTIMONY BIBLE CLASS
by J. Riddle
BEHOLD YOUR KING
by J. Flanigan
THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES
by J. Douglas
NAPHTALI, A HIND LET LOOSE
by D. Ogden
JOTTINGS FROM THE THIRD EPISTLE OF JOHN
by D. Williamson –
A FOURFOLD VIEW OF A SCRIPTURAL ASSEMBLY
by J. Moneypenny
MY CONVERSION AND CALL
by G. Roy
by The Late W. W. Fereday (written in 1897/98)
Paper 8c—The Times of the Gentiles
To proceed with our chapter. The first of the Gentile powers was still running its course, yet the Spirit of God goes on to speak of the third and even the fourth. Who could declare such things but God Himself, who knows the end from the beginning, and to whom time is nothing, everything being to His mind one eternal now? Thus in chapter 8.21, the Grecian power is expressly named as the conqueror of the Medo-Persian. Its rapidity of conquest is set forth by the figure of a leopard (one of the swiftest of beasts after its prey), with the addition of four wings of a fowl to accelerate its movements. So rapid was its progress, that when shown as a goat in chapter 8.5, it is said it "touched not the ground." In such a way the Spirit of God takes notice of the campaigns and victories of Alexander the Great. After his death, his kingdom was divided between his four great commanders, as we read "it had four heads." The great horn of the rough he-goat being broken, in place of it came up four notable ones (Dan. 8.8,22).
The fourth wild beast particularly attracted the notice of Daniel the prophet. "After this, I saw in the night visions, and behold a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly, and it had great iron teeth, it devoured and brake in pieces and stamped the residue with the feet of it, and it was diverse from all the beasts that were before it, and it had ten horns" (Dan. 7.7). This cruel nondescript is the power of Rome. We need not go outside the covers of Scripture to interpret it. In the opening of the New Testament we find, not Babylon, Persia, or Greece, supreme in the earth, but Rome, and under its government Christ was born into the world (Luke 2.1; 3.1).
"It had ten horns," these being ten kings (verse 24). Never was this true in the past. The Roman empire was under one government. True, in the latter days of its supremacy many of the emperors associated others with themselves in the administration of their vast dominions, but never was there anything of the kind described in Daniel’s vision. Here we have ten horns—ten kings, and one arising among them becoming their leader and head. What does this prove? Most assuredly that this vast power, so long scattered and broken, has a history yet before it, for Scripture cannot be broken, its every word must be fulfilled.
Now this is exactly what is revealed in the Book of Revelation. In chapter 13.1, John saw a strange beast arise out of the sea (the tumult of the nations), combining in itself most, if not all, of the features of the various Gentile monarchies spoken of by Daniel. We learn more in chapter 17.8. "The beast that thou sawest was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition, and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the Book of Life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast that was, and is not and yet is" (or "shall be present"). This fully explains the matter. "The beast was"—i.e., it existed in the past, "and is not." There is no such power now, but it will be revived by the power of Satan in the last days for the accomplishment of his evil designs against Christ and His saints. He will succeed in bringing together once more the atoms of that mighty power that has been in a state of dissolution since the days of Honorius.
The little horn is its last head. Three of the first horns were plucked up by him before the eyes of the prophet. This probably means that the beginning of his great power will be the subjugation of three kingdoms, which leads to seven others uniting together under his presidency. This may be judged advisable when the time comes because of the serious growth of democratic principles, making it well-nigh impossible for rulers to hold their people in check. But however it may be brought about, the general fact is plain that the Roman empire of the future will be a confederacy of ten kingdoms, each ruled over by its own sovereign, but all submitting to the general leadership of the little horn.
This personage must not be confounded either with the Antichrist, on the one hand, or with the little horn of Dan. 8.9, on the other. Antichrist is a religious rather than a political leader, his kingdom-power apparently being confined to the land of Israel, where he will be accepted as the promised Messiah (Dan. 11.36). He will be in league with the Western Chief, undoubtedly, but must not be confounded with him. Rev. 13 shows both the distinction and the connection. The little horn of Dan. 8 is expressly stated to arise out of one of the four divisions of Alexander’s empire, and is identical, I have no doubt, with the king of the North in chapter 11.
The Roman head is solemnly described in our chapter by the Holy Spirit. "He shall speak great words against the Most High, and shall wear out the Saints of the Most High (or high places), and think to change times laws, and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time" (vi25). Here we have three things stated of him. (1) He is a boastful blasphemer. Compare Rev. 13.1-6. Having received his throne and authority from the dragon, he defies and blasphemes the" God of heaven. (2) He is a persecutor. He and his coadjutor, the Man of Sin, will seek to stamp out all confession of God and His truth, and thus will come about the unparalleled great tribulation, of which we have already spoken in these papers. (3) He will seek to overthrow the Jewish order and institutions, which are what is meant by "times and laws." This he will be permitted to do for the space of three years and a half, to the sore affliction and sorrow of the godly in Israel.
In this connection the remarkable prophecy of the "seventy weeks" should be carefully examined by the prophetic student (Dan. 9). We have only space for a few words here. It is the term of Israel’s and Jerusalem’s servitude and desolation, commencing with the commandment to restore and build Jerusalem (see Neh. 2), terminating with the final blessing and reconciliation of the people.
It is divided into three parts—seven, sixty-two, and one. The seven weeks were occupied with the rebuilding of Jerusalem, the added sixty-two making 483 years in all, bringing the Prophecy down to the manifestation of Messiah the Prince. How literally as to time this was fulfilled probably every Bible reader is aware. But Messiah was not received, consequently we read, "And after the threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, and shall have nothing" (for so verse 26 should read). He was entitled to a throne, but the unbelief of His people did not suffer Him to have it. In wondrous grace He accepted the cross instead, where faith sees, not only human unbelief and sin, but the accomplishment of redemption. His soul was made an offering for sin, and on this foundation all who believe are forgiven and justified. The cutting off of Messiah is followed in the prophecy by the overthrow of the city and sanctuary, with war and desolation until the end.
The language of the verse is very precise, and should be carefully noted. "The people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and sanctuary." Every one knows that the people in question were the Romans; they under Titus captured and destroyed guilty Jerusalem. "The people" have come and done their part; "the prince that shall come," arising from their midst, has not yet appeared.
—(to be continued D. V.)
by David McAllister (Zambia)
Paper 10 F. The Attacks of Amillennialism.
From what we considered in these articles it should be clear that Amillennialism is an attack on many things that we hold dear, and so in this final section we will look at some of the attacks that it makes. As previously, this paper will be doing little more than summarising material in previous sections, so points made will not be enlarged.
Some of the objects of the attack of Amillennialism are:
(a) God’s character:
Amillennialism implies that God says certain things that He does not really mean; that He makes promises that He does not intend fully to fulfil; that He uses language which He knows people will take in a different way to what He intends, yet He chooses to keep them in the dark about it; and that He does not have the ability to deliver that which He has promised. Such a view of God must be rejected in its entirety.
Amillennialism states that there are many passages of Scripture which do not really mean what they say; and that we can either spiritualise these away, or else ignore them altogether.
(c) Sound interpretation:
Amillennialism teaches that sound interpretation of Scripture, taking into account the grammar, context, literal meaning of the words, and comparing Scripture with Scripture, can in certain circumstances be set aside; thus leaving us without any yardstick with which to test interpretation, leaving it open to whatever ideas we wish to introduce. The logical conclusion of Amillennialism is to lead to Liberalism. Once we introduce the possibility of allegorical interpretation, there is no telling where it can lead. Why stop with prophecy? Why not go all the way? It has been well said that it is almost impossible to find a modernist who is also pre-millennialist, and that equally, among the assemblies, which are Pre-Millennial in doctrine, Modernism is practically unknown. Amillennialism and Modernism are natural allies; pre-millennialism and Modernism are incompatible.
(d) The created world:
It follows from Amillennialist teaching that there is no hope for the present creation, which is "groaning and travailing" in pain at present, to have fulfilled the promises given in Scripture to be delivered and restored to its former glory.
Amillennialism categorically states that the nation has been permanently set aside; that there is no future for it; that the myriad promises made to the nation have no hope of fulfilment. It is not surprising that not a few Amillennialists confess to being anti-semitic. Taken to its extreme, we see the persecution of Jews by the Roman Church during the Inquisition and by Hitler (who was also a Roman Catholic) this century. Of course it would be going too far to blame this totally on Amillennialism. However, had the belief of the Roman Church been Pre-Millennial, with its promise of the restoration of Israel, it is certain that they would never have carried out these atrocities. Amillennialism was undoubtedly a major factor in the build-up of anti-semitic forces which have been released with such satanic ferocity at various times in the history of Christendom.
(f) The Church, Christ’s Body:
Amillennialism teaches that this is not a distinct body, introduced consequent to and as a result of the death of Christ, with Jew and Gentile uniquely united together in one "new man", enjoying privileges and blessings never given or promised to Israel, but rather it is no more than a full-blossomed Israel.
Amillennialism teaches that many promises which God made in the OT will never be literally fulfilled. If this is true, then what right have we to assume that what He has promised to us as the Church will be literally fulfilled either? If Israel is not to be given all that it was promised, are we likely to fare any better? If Amillennialism is true, then we have difficulty in taking any of the promises to us at face value.
(g) The assemblies gathered to the Lord’s name:
We believe that:
- just as the Church which is the Body of Christ came into being in the Acts, so did local assembly testimony,
- just as the Church which is His Body was not in the OT, neither was the assembly.
- just as the Body is unique to this age, so is the assembly testimony.
- just as the Body was formed as a result of the death, burial, resurrection and exaltation of Christ, so is each assembly.
- just as the Body will cease to have any members on earth at the Rapture, so assembly testimony will cease at that time.
Thus whilst the Church which is the Body of Christ and the assembly are not one and the same thing, nevertheless their beginning, character and future are inextricably linked together. The Amillennialist denies all the above points as far as the Church which is His Body is concerned, so he with equal vigour also denies the parallels as far as the local assembly is concerned. It is not surprising that a person in an assembly who holds Amillennial doctrine often does not feel much at home. That may well be partly because his teaching is not accepted or acceptable. But there is more to it than that: he soon sees that there is no place in Amillennialism for the view that the assembly is unique to this dispensation, and distinct from everything else around it. And if he does not believe in the distinctiveness of the assembly, he does not really feel any reason to stay. Amillennialism is opposed to assembly testimony.
And so, in a magazine whose name indicates its dedication to the maintenance of assembly testimony, this would perhaps be a suitable point at which to conclude our study. It has been long, but it is a very embracive subject and cannot really be dealt with in just a few pages. But although it has been long, it has been by no means a full treatment of the subject; it has done little more than scratch the surface. It is the writer’s prayer that it may be used in the hand of God in helping some to see and avoid the errors of Amillennialism.
Any attempts such as this to show its errors are feeble when compared with what is soon to happen: a series of events that will settle the argument once and for all: the return of the Lord Himself to the air to take His redeemed people home, the Tribulation, the return of the Lord to earth, the restoration of Israel, the Millennial reign, and ultimately the eternal kingdom. Surely we can join with John and say "Amen, even so come Lord Jesus."
by J. Riddle (Cheshunt)
THE CHURCH AND THE CHURCHES (14) Elders (Part 1)
It will be helpful to have 1 Timothy 3 open as we turn our attention to this important subject.
It deals with "bishops" and "deacons", and we shall see, the first of these are elsewhere called "elders" in the New Testament. Even a most cursory reading of the chapter will show that both "bishops" and "deacons" are far removed from the ecclesiastical dignitaries which abound in Christendom. The Authorised Version does, however, use language which requires some investigation. For example, "the office of a bishop" (v1), and "the office of a deacon" (v10). As you read the chapter, it will become very clear indeed that both "bishops" and "deacons" have to fulfil some very stringent conditions. The reason becomes obvious when we remember that in the first case, Paul is dealing with those who exercise care in the assembly, and in the second case, he is dealing with those who serve in the assembly. Whether it is caring or serving, the highest spiritual qualities are required. Responsibility for the assembly, and responsibility in the assembly, is no light matter.
We must now examine New Testament teaching in connection with the men who are to care for the assembly. We intend, God willing, to deal with the subject in four studies.
1) THE TERMS EMPLOYED
The word in our Authorised Version translated the Greek ‘episkopos.’ It is made up of ‘epi’, over and ‘skopeo’, to look or watch. So, literally translated, the word means ‘overseer.’ Now let us look at the various places in the New Testament where ‘episkopos’ occurs:
- Philippians 1.1: "Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons."
- 1 Timothy 3.1-2: "This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work. A bishop then must be blameless." No, we haven’t forgotten "the office of a bishop" in v1!
- Titus 1.6-7: "If any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children, not accused or riot, and unruly. For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God."
- Acts 20.28: "Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which (‘in the which’, JND) the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers."
These three passages yield at least four immediate lessons, all of which simply consist in noting what the Scriptures say for themselves:
- The plurality of "bishops" in Philippians 1.1. Not one bishop presiding over a number of churches, but a plurality of bishops in one church. Proverbs 11.14 gives at least one reason for this: "Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counsellors there is safety." See also 15.22 and 24.6.
- The word "bishop" or "bishops" in the first three references becomes "overseers" in the last reference. The lack of uniformity in the Authorised Version evidently arises from the fact that the translators were charged, amongst other things, to keep ‘the old ecclesiastical words.’
- The "overseers" in Acts 20.28 are not "over" the flock in any hierarchical sense, but ‘in’ the flock. It is not a case of ‘clergy and laity.’
- The "overseers" are not appointed by democratic processes, but by the Holy Spirit. This is very important, and we will refer to this later.
The word ‘episkopos’ also occurs in 1 Peter 2 with reference to the Lord Jesus Himself: "For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned into the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls", v25.
You will also notice, that in two of the above passages (Titus 1 and Acts 20), the "overseers" (we’ll use this word for a little while) are also described as:
The word in our New Testaments translates the Greek word ‘presbuteros’, and means, literally, an old man. But don’t get too alarmed at this juncture! There are in fact three passages where ‘episkopos’ or a kindred word, and ‘presbuteros’, occur together:
- Titus 1.5-7: "For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city . . . For a bishop must be blameless." Notice that here Paul does not say ‘ordain elders in every assembly’, but in "every city." Perhaps this stresses their standing in the community.
- Acts 20.17-28. "And from Miletus he sent to Ephesus, and called the elders of the church (so they were a recognised body of people: it wasn’t a case of calling ‘a brethren’s meeting’). And when they were come to him, he said unto them . . . Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which (in the which) the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers."
- 1 Peter 5.1-2: "The elders which are among you I exhort . . . feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof." The word "oversight" (Greek ‘episkopeo’) describes the work rather than the person (‘episkopos’), but the point is clear. The two words describe the same person.
It is also worth mentioning at this juncture that the body of elders is called "the presbytery" in 1 Timothy 4.14.
C) "Overseers" and "Elders"
The use of two words to describe the same men is certainly not mere duplication. The terms are not synonomous:
i) The word ‘overseer’ describes the man’s ministry. It stresses his duty. Notice in this connection that the word "visitation" in Luke 19:44 and 1 Peter 2.12, is ‘episkope.’ So an overseer is someone who visits! The word "visit" in the New Testament comes from a word associated with ‘episkopeo.’ See W. E. Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words.
ii) The word ‘elder’ describes the man’s maturity: it stresses his dignity. An elder is not necessarily an old man in years: but he must be a man with experience and maturity. As we shall see later, "not a novice", 1 Timothy 3.6.
2) THE WORK INVOLVED
Let it be clearly stated, that overseers or elders are people who work. They are not non-executive directors: in fact, they are more like working-directors, although the word ‘director’ is not really suitable at all! Paul put it like this: "And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you (‘take the lead among you’, JND) in the Lord, and admonish you", 1 Thessalonians 5.12. ‘If any one aspire to exercise oversight, he desireth a good work", 1 Timothy 3.1, JND. It is the work of the overseer that is stressed in the following:
- 1 Timothy 3.1: "If a man desire the office of a bishop." It is, literally, ‘If any one seeketh overseership.’ W. E. Vine observes that ‘there is no word representing ‘office.’ It is a work, not a position.
- Acts 1.20, referring to Judas Iscariot: "His bishoprick let another take." "Bishoprick" sounds rather grand! But it simply means ‘oversight.’
- 1 Peter 5.1-2: "The elders which are among you I exhort. . . Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof."
So far, we have been rather technical. Now the time has come to get to grips with the actual work. Paul puts it as follows: "If a man know not to how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God", 1 Timothy 3.5. If you want to find out what this means, turn up Luke 10. Yes, the ‘Good Samaritan!’ " But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him, and went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him", v33-35. The words are exactly the same. So there’s no doubt about the work. It is caring for people, and especially when they’ve taken some hard knocks.
‘Taking care’ of people is described in the New Testament as shepherding and stewarding, and we must look at this in more detail in our next study.
—to be continued (D.V.)
(Meditations in Matthew)
by Jim Flanigan (Belfast)
7. The King in the Wilderness (Ch.4)
This chapter begins with, "Then". We must ask, "When?" The answer is most important to a full appreciation of the scene that follows. It was just when heaven had been opened in approval of the Saviour. It was when the Spirit had descended in holy complacency upon Him. It was when the Father had proclaimed His delight in His Son. It was then, just then, that Jesus was led into the wilderness to the confrontation with the Devil. The heavenly approval will provoke Satanic attack. Like as the first man had been tested in the garden, and had failed, so would the second Man be tested in the wilderness, but could not fail (Isaiah 42.4).
After forty days and forty nights, almost six weeks of fasting, Jesus is hungry, and it is just now that the tempter comes to Him. It is essential to understand that the word "tempted" is used in two different ways in Scripture. It must be, for in one place James avows that God cannot be tempted with evil and neither does He tempt any man (James 1.13), yet in another place we read that God did tempt Abraham (Gen.22.1), and in yet another place we have God’s complaint to the Hebrews that their fathers had tempted Him (Heb.3.9).
Sometimes the word "tempted" may indeed imply a seduction, an enticement, a temptation to sin. This may often be true of us, but it can never, never, be true of the impeccable Christ. At other times however, the word implies a testing, a proving, as when gold may be tried in the fire to confirm its freedom from dross. Our Lord Jesus could never be enticed to sin but in His wilderness experience He was tried in a three-fold way. He was tested as to His dependence. His obedience, and His patience. The testing will but demonstrate His absolute freedom from sin and from the possibility of it. Had He not just been pointed out as "The Lamb of God"? He is therefore, He must be, a Lamb without blemish and without spot. He is in every way pure.
The tempter begins, characteristically, with an expression of doubt, "If . . . "If Thou be the Son of God . . ." This was, as in the Garden of Eden, a blatant slight on God’s word. That word had just declared. "This is my beloved Son". The Devil says, "If Thou be the Son . . ." It is the prelude to a triple temptation, leading on and up to an arrogant offer of world dominion in exchange for an expression of worship.
Our Lord then is to be tested as to His independence. Is He hungry? "Command that these stones be made bread", says the tempter. And why should He not do so? He had the right and the power, and He would, in a little while, turn water into wine for others. Why should He not now, a hungry Man, turn stones into bread for Himself? But then, Had He not voluntarily assumed dependent manhood? It would not be in keeping with this dependency that He should act independently to meet His own need of the hour. He would continue to trust Him whom He had ever trusted (Psalm 22.8-10). So He used the sword of the Spirit to repel the tempter and quoted from the Book of Deuteronomy. "Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God".
The Saviour will then be tested as to His obedience. Does He quote Scripture? Then Satan will quote Scripture also (or mis-quote, as he did in Eden). On the pinnacle of the temple, on that highest point of the temple mount in the holy City, the Devil urges, "Cast Thyself down", and then refers to the lovely Psalm 91. But His quotation of the Word is both incomplete and irrelevant. "It is written", Jesus had said; "It is written", Satan now enjoins, quoting from the Psalm, but he leaves out the words "in all Thy ways". Our Lord replies with yet another quotation, "It is written again", He says, and again He quotes from Deuteronomy. To cast oneself down needlessly into the depths of the Kidron Valley from that pinnacle point would not be trust. It would be put a spectacular tempting of the providence of God. The obedient One would not be guilty of this. Satan is rebuffed again.
A third time the tempter comes, now to try our Lord’s patience. From an exceeding high mountain the Saviour is shown all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. The treasures of Egypt, the might of Babylon, the culture of Greece, and the power of Rome were all, in some way, displayed before His gaze. "All these will I give Thee", Satan promised, "If Thou wilt fall down and worship me". Surely the tempter must have known that our Lord was already the appointed Heir of all things. Had he so soon forgotten that all things had been created by Him and for Him? And had not Jehovah in an ancient Psalm declared to the Son, "Ask of Me and I shall give Thee the heathen for Thine inheritance and the uttermost parts of the earth for Thy possession"? (Psalm 2.8). With yet another quotation from Deuteronomy Jesus repels the tempter again, saying, "Get thee hence Satan". Our Lord refused from the Devil what the Man of Sin will accept, for when he comes he will be enthroned and empowered by the Dragon, Satan (Rev.13.2).
The rightful Heir can wait in patience. He is at the Father’s right hand now, sharing His Father’s throne. He will wait expectantly until His enemies are made His footstool. Then He must reign and the cry of many voices will echo throughout the heavens, "The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ; and He shall reign for ever and for ever" (Rev.13.15). That which He has refused from the hand of the tempter He will receive from the hand of His Father at the appointed time.
The Devil leaves Him now, and His angels come. The Psalm 91 from which Satan had quoted is now fulfilled in the ministry of the angels. The dependent, obedient, patient Man is served by angels who become His deacons in the wilderness. Heavenly attendants minister to the King as the Devil makes exit from the scene.
This record of the temptation in the wilderness is the solemn story of a connecting period between our Lord’s private and public life. Thirty years in the relative obscurity of Nazareth and three years of busy public ministry are joined together by forty days of trial in the loneliness of the Judean dessert. There is perhaps a lesson for every servant of God. The years of our service are properly preceded by valuable years of preparation when we may be of necessity occupied with things familial and secular. There is however, a time of lonely waiting upon God, during which time the servant inevitably becomes the object of Satanic interest and onslaught. Such experiences, irksome and difficult though they may be, are undoubtedly used of God to equip His servants for their future ministry. Moses had his years in the backside of the desert. Paul had his time of waiting in Arabia. The Saviour Himself, God’s perfect Servant, spent thirty years in Nazareth and forty days in the wilderness. He has left us an example that we should follow His steps and be encouraged.
—to be continued (D.V.).
by the late J. Douglas (Scotland)
These notes were submitted by Mr. S. Brownlie (Scotland)
We have seen the effect of the Preacher vs 25 & 26, we are now to see the effects of the Teacher, through the one Sinners are Saved, through the other Saints are Advanced i.e. Salvation and Education.
Called Christians, Character Formed, Likeness Produced, verses 28-30
The prophets message, interest begotten, relief sent, Rom. 15.27. They are partakers of their spiritual things, they are debtors to bestow carnal things. The truth of the Body expressed 1 Cor 12: As one member suffers, all members suffer with it, – priestly sympathy and succour. Not only the saint but the servant, Gal. 6.6.
v25. Do we see here spiritual perception? – what he sees, appreciates and encourages, he feels he cannot carry on, so makes room for another. This is unselfish love. The progress of the work more to him than position in the work. In honour preferring one another. (Barzillai and Chimham)
Commendation: Barnabas commends Paul to the Assembly, he also commends him to the Work. Andrew brings in Peter – John 1, Peter brings in the thousands, Acts 3. He also brings in the lad – John 6, through whom the Lord feeds the thousands.
- Gen. 41-12 The Butler commended Joseph;
- 1st Sam. 16-18 Saul’s Servant commended David;
- Dan. 2-25 Arioch commended Daniel;
- Col. 4-10 Paul commended John Mark.
What an honour to bring forward men like these, but be careful:—
- Eli the Priest made room for his Sons;
- Samuel the Prophet made room for his Sons;
- David the King made room for his Sons;
- Solomon the Wise Man made room for Jeroboam.
— Ch. 13 We have followed with interest the history of this man Barnabas and his links with Paul. Now we see Barnabas was bringing together what God had put together. The Levite and Benjamite. In Ch. 11 we see its Formation and Features, here we see within the Church, a twofold ministry, Prophets and Teachers.
The difference may be seen in Ch. 11. 27 & 26, Foretelling and Telling forth.
Here we have not the Call of the Sinner by the Gospel, but the Call of a Servant to the Gospel. There are Principles for our guidance — there is a distinction between the Church and the Prophets and Teachers. Here the Spirit would make another distinction by taking the first Barnabas and the last Paul, thus we have Divine Choice and Call.
- Link with Num. 4 and Num. 8;
- Link with Ex. 35-30 and 2 Chron. 31-2.
The Spirit’s Voice, the Church has ears, Ch. 11.22 and Matt. 18.17. Separate Me. He Calls, He asks the Assembly’s Co-operation. (They let them go) The Spirit sends them forth. So we have their exercise towards the Lord, we have the Lord’s exercise towards them. Fellowship with Him and Fruitfulness for Him. The Call of the Spirit, the Identification of the Church. In the Church, Called from it, Commenced by it, Serving with it, — blessed priviledge.
- Valuable Principles and Holy Occupation.
- We see their going out — Acts 13.4;
- We see their coming back — Acts 14.26;
- The First missionary meeting, v27.
— Ch.15 From the beginning we have seen the doings of God and the opposition of Satan.
- He sought to Devour, the Man Child (Christ).
- He sought to Persecute, the Woman (Church).
He who was behind the hypocrisy of Ananias and Sapphira and the murmuring of the Grecians and the deception of Simon, is here again in Acts 15, seeking to corrupt the doctrine, misrepresent the servants, disturb the saints and above all casting shadows on the finished work of Christ.
Paul and Barnabas had been building with the Trowel, they are now called upon to defend with the Sword. This chapter best understood if read with the Galatian Epistle.
They face the Difficulty at Antioch v2, and unitedly again at Jerusalem. The opposition is condemned v24, they are vindicated and commended (v25,26). Acts 5.2 the proposal of the brethren (human) Gal. 2.2 By revelation, (Divine Guidance)
v28 The Spirit has His way, the victory is gained, the truth is preserved, unity is maintained The saints are made to Rejoice v31.
A year elapses between verses 35 and 36, and it was at this time Peter was to be blamed by Paul — Gal. 2.11.
So we have Peter’s Dissimulation.
- v36 we have Paul’s Desire.
- v37 we have Barnabas’s Determination.
- v38 we have Paul’s Disagreeance.
- v39 we have their Disputation.
- v39 we have their Dividing.
The links that were formed are now broken.
What God put together now put assunder.
Serious Results, Solemn Lessons — 1 Cor. 10.12.
The effects are bad. What was the cause? He has fallen to a natural religion, he has taken sides with Peter.
Did he feel incriminated? when Paul blamed Peter has the influence of Peter become more than Paul? Both deny what they Preached, in their Practice. A good man affected by a bad example.
- As every Voice has an Echo
- Every Substance has a Shadow
- Every Life has an Influence
Its former truth is given up, former state is lost. Question, has this experience anything to do with what follows?
Verses 36-41 Does he now fall to a natural relationship? Colossians 4.10; Uncle and Nephew
- v37-38, we have seen their difference.
- v39 we now see their Discussion.
What did they say one to another? Our curiosity may be aroused — but our admiration is encouraged as Luke by the Spirit seems to go backwards. (Gen. 9.23; 2 Sam. 1.20; 1 Cor.10)
Paul’s reason is based on past experience which provides a disqualification for present Service. The natural or the spiritual, the person or principle, the companion or conviction. Paul forfeits the person (Barnabas) for the principles he believed v39. We see reacted, Abraham and Lot, David and Jonathan, by Paul and Barnabas.
Two histories close (Peter and Barnabas), never again are they mentioned, one history was continued (Paul).
In the beginning of the chapter, a difference came in, it was considered and settled. At the end of the chapter a difference that was never settled.
Phillipians 4.2 A difference which was personal. Sides cannot be taken, both may be to blame.
Acts 15 A difference, when right must be justified and wrong condemned, so sides must be taken.
What is withheld from Barnabas is given to Paul, the Commendation of the Brethren and continued Guidance of the Spirit.
Thus we take sides with Paul.
by David Ogden, (Luton, England).
III. — The Pattern for the Saint — Conveyed Practically
In the first paper we noted that Naphtali and his blessing in Gen. 49 can be considered in three ways:
- The Portrayal of the Tribe. — Considered Historically.
- The Picture of the Saviour. — Contemplated Doctrinally
- The Pattern for the Saint. — Conveyed Practically.
We now come to the last of these suggestions:—
The Lord never worked in isolation. There was work which could never be delegated to men, yet He chose men to be with Him and He worked through them. Many would be from the area around the Lake. Of the ones whose background is known, although Judas was from Judah, and Nathanael from Cana in nearby Zebulon, Philip, Matthew, Peter, Andrew, James and John were all from the lake side area.
These men were like hinds. The Son of God had set them free, they had been loosed from the law, set free from sin and death. Thus it is with believers today. We-have been redeemed and set free. It therefore behoves us to stand in that liberty. We are not all called to preach the gospel in foreign parts where Christ has never been named, some may never be called to public service. Yet the scripture still rings true even in our own time and local environment, "how beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of those who bring peace", Rom.10.15, and "How shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard" Rom.10.14.
Those disciples were ordinary men, sometimes they failed, yet they served diligently, led the Spirit of God. They epitomise an attribute of Naphtali, giving goodly words. This is especially true after the Ascension. They were not required to be popular. We know very little about them as individuals, since scripture only really amplifies concerning Peter and John. They were regarded as unlearned and ignorant men untrained in the intricacies of Judaism, Acts.4.13. Yet they had learnt from the Master Himself.
They were not afraid to speak the word in boldness, Acts.4.31, and they were probably called eccentric because of their zeal. Neither, undoubtedly, were they always popular. We are sometimes frightened to be individuals, to be natural, responsible to the clear teachings of the word of God alone. There is a difference between being an individual and being individualistic.
They spoke goodly words, and the Lord commanded the blessing, even life for evermore.
Those words related to the:
- Pattern: "If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God", 1 Pet.4.1;
- Person: "Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you", Acts 2.22;
- Plan: "The predeterminate counsel and foreknowledge of God", Acts.2.23;
- Power: "who is gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto Him." 1 Pet.3.22;
- Precepts: "We ought to love one another", 1 John.4.12;
- Principles: "And that believing ye might have life through His name", John.20.31.
- Proclamation: "Neither is there salvation in any other" Acts.4.12;
- Promise: "Exceeding great and precious promises" 2 Pet.2.4;
- Propitiation: "Christ also suffered for us," 1 Pet.2.21;
- Purpose: "Preaching peace by Jesus Christ, He is Lord of all" Acts.10.36.
We are not all called to be a Peter, who could publicly preach Christ, nor record his doings like Matthew. We can in spirit, emulate John who leaned on his Master’s bosom. One day we too shall behold His glory. We also have been set free as hinds let loose. May we thus give goodly words, words of grace and gentleness, yet words of conviction. The people of God and the world still need goodly words given to them from those who have received them from the Master through the Word.
There is so much which can dilute those words: an overbearing harshness; an easy compromise; a reluctance to tell what the word of God says; the problem of worrying about little things which do not really matter, instead of the whole counsel of God; a tendency to speak smooth things which will appeal, even to be partial. Gossip too, is in danger of ruining the effectiveness of the testimony. If only we minded the Lord’s business as much as we are inclined to try and mind that of everybody else, the Assemblies of the Lord’s people would be a power for God in the land.
The words written many years ago are still as true today.
- "Thou hast no tongue, O Christ, as once of old.
- To tell the story of Thy Love Divine,
- That love so true, so strong, so kind,
- But there’s no tongue to tell it out but mine."
We should watch as though, He the true Man of Naphtali, could come at any moment. We work for the night is coming when no man can work, when He will call His bride away.
The late J.M.S. Tait of the Shetland Islands expressed it beautifully in the closing stanza of a poem:
- "Till thy soft day-dawn awaking,
- Through the fleeing shadows breaking,
- Bring the One I love to me; for Him I’ll pine.
- O that, like the young hart bounding,
- Thou would’st skip those hills surrounding,
- That they nevermore might sever Thee and Thine."
"Naphtali is a hind loose, he giveth goodly words."
by D. Williamson, (Belfast)
A third Epistle! Why a third? The only third Epistle in the New Testament! Allowing for the evident design of Inspiration, there must surely be some vital reason why John felt compelled to issue a third Epistle from his pen.
One might well ask if the Apostle had already adopted the role of a seer. Could he see foregleams on the horizon which brought forebodings? Impelled by love and care, would he feel constrained to warn and to woo? Clearly, if, as we understand, all second Epistles have a ministry in view of departure, what shall we say of a third, so short yet so pregnant with matter for spiritual consideration?
Whatever external background material we may collate to help us in the hope of illucidating or enhancing our main impressions, we have enough internal core substance in the Epistle to enable us to raise some columns of monumental importance on the canvas of our minds, in the hope that they shall remain as priceless treasures, from which we may draw valuable assistance as we turn to them again, and yet again, throughout our experience. It seems the writer would have wished it so.
Let us then seek to appreciate this precious portion of the Word of God and with the aid of the Holy Spirit Himself to apply the lessons to our daily lives. May we imbibe the spirit of the Apostle as he directs our hearts to the quality of spiritual life and experience in the midst of anything but congenial surroundings. Only as we have known the "bosom experience" can we hope to derive benefit from one who is speaking from that standpoint. May the Lord condition us so, that we might assimilate His truth.
As John writes, three men are highlighted for special mention, Gaius, Diotrephes, Demitrius. His appreciation of each is given with plainess and from one who has a genuine care for the saints and the work of the Lord as well as Public testimony. One can easily discern the tender heart of the Apostle as various reactions to the truth are underline. His love for the Lord makes him an ardent associate of the truth. This is the instrument by which he measures the character and conduct of those to whom, and of whom, he writes. Principle is a very precious thing to this man. A survey of the letter will yield bounty if only to trace the spiritually sensitive nature of this elder as he yearns over the flock. And where did he learn this, but as he accompanied One who is the True Shepherd and Bishop of our souls.
The short Epistle may be simply divided emphasising John’s reasons for speaking of these individuals. Thus:
- v. 1—8 he writes TO ENCOURAGE GAIUS IN THE TRUTH:
- v. 9—11 he writes TO EXPOSE DIOTREPHES AND HIS TENDENCIES:
- v. 12—14 he writes TO ENDORSE DEMETRIUS AND HIS TESTIMONY.
Lessons may be learned as to forthrightness and honesty. It would seem that the more the writer loved God’s precepts, the more he hated every false way. In our day when compromise appears to be the common factor by which a so called "workable relationship" is arrived at, it is all the more refreshing to return to one who is happy and content to abide by, as well as expound, the truth as it is in Jesus.
Writing to ENCOURAGE GAIUS IN THE TRUTH.
"The elder unto the well beloved Gaius whom I love in the truth" v.1. We may well take into account the language of the Apostle Paul in 1 Cor.8.1, "knowledge puffeth up but love edifieth". Paul was underlining the emptiness of truth without love as its necessary companion. Here John looks at it from the other side by saying "whom I love in the truth". The nett result is the same, reminding us of the balance of Scripture as well as the unity of the Spirit in the control of each N.T. writer, while allowing for the exercise of their distinct personality. These godly men had no wish for extra biblical corroboration, they submitted themselves to the searchlight of Divine truth and were content to live in that sphere permitting it to condition their thinking. Do we do the same? Or do we give greater credence to, or place greater importance upon, lesser authorities? Clearly John would teach us that the Word of God is the sole authority for the lifestyle of each believer. We may cite examples like Abraham, Moses, Mordecai, Daniel who with many others willingly acknowledged the superior authority of the Word of God in their practical experience. The affection of this elder was in the sphere of truth.
It may be that that emphatic pronoun "I" has somewhat of an undertone, "whom I love in the truth". Where there others whose lives did not express this balance? Had they been rejecting Divine authority, while at the same time claiming affection for the saints? Is there not a similar tendency in some quarters today? The hymnwriter has well penned:—
- With Christ in my heart and his Word in my hand,
- I march on in haste through an Enemy’s land.
Only this is sufficient for the defeat of the Enemy. Imbalance has played a major role in retarding the development of believers both young and old. How pertinent then this language of John as he seeks to encourage Gaius in the Christian pathway. Never was there a time when this beautiful blend of love and truth was more needful. There is evidence in certain circles of a spurious kind of love linked with an utter disregard for the truth, indeed to mention doctrine at all seems to annoy. Conversely there are others who have much doctrine without the warmth of the Spirit in its application. We do need the balance to be "throughly furnished unto all good works" 2 Tim. 3.17.
Paul would remind those at Rome that they had "obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered unto them or (unto which they were delivered)" 6.17. They had, as it were, been put into a mould, that mould was the doctrine, with the result that they had been shaped accordingly. This had been done willingly. John could see a similar thing happened in relation to Gaius. The Word of God had been so effective in his experience that he now bore a distinct likeness to its Author. How pleasant to be able to detect this conformity to the truth in the lives of our fellow believers. Apart altogether from worldly status, race or cultural background to witness a wholehearted subjection to the Word of God so that lives are changed by the Spirit of the Lord. It is here where that mutual attraction of kindred spirits takes place as each draws from that same pure Source, recognising in the other the effects of the truth.
—(to be continued D.V.)
by the late J. Moneypenny
Paper 1 — ‘Brethren’
In the First Epistle to the Corinthians Paul, by the Holy Spirit, and with apostolic authority, deals with the important subject of the local Church or Assembly. How valuable are these sixteen chapters, filled with warnings and instruction from our blessed risen Head, regarding our individual and collective privileges and responsibilities as gathered unto Him!
Moses in a past dispensation was admonished regarding the Tabernacle, God’s dwelling place in the wilderness: "See, saith He, that thou make all things according to the pattern shewed to thee in the Mount" (Hebrews 8.5). In the New Testament, and especially in the first Corinthian epistle, we are also definitely and solemnly admonished in a similar way regarding God’s present dwelling place amongst men, not a material building of brick or stone or such like, but "a spiritual house" (1 Peter 2.5). In Matthew 18.20 our Lord says: "For where two or three are gathered together in My Name there am I in the midst of them." And without pretensions of a wrong kind we most emphatically insist that a company of redeemed ones, thus simply and truly gathered, is nothing less than a dwelling place of God. But this will meet us further, as we look at the fourfold view of such a gathering in chapter 3 of this local assembly epistle. The opening words of this chapter are — "And I brethren."
The first view therefore is — a company of "brethren." The word is not at all a Sectarian term, and should not be used as such. It is a name inclusive of every saved person on earth. Note the word in Hebrews 2.11—"for which cause He is not ashamed to call them brethren." This term "brethren" here is just as wide as the term "many sons" of the previous verse. Both include every saved person in this present church period.
In the Word of God it is noteworthy that the first mention of any theme is very significant and suggestive. Now the first mention of "brethren" in 1st Corinthians is an appeal to the saints as such (ch. 1:10) —"by the Name of Our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that ye be perfectly joined together, in the same mind and in the same judgment." What a precious and beautiful assembly of brethren that would be! Truly an affectionate family — wise sons and daughters "making a glad Father" (Proverbs 10.1; 15.20). Nine times in the first nine verses of First Corinthians, chapter one, the name of our adorable Lord is mentioned. In the 10th verse we have the tenth mention, and it is the full title — "by the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ." Ten is the number of responsibility, as we see in the Ten Commandments, "Ten Virgins," "Ten Talents," etc. How striking, therefore, that by this precious Name thus emphasised in a tenfold way, the apostolic appeal is made to the saints as "brethren" (children of one family — eternally related to one another) for manifest, God honouring, and Christ exalting unity! But at the second mention of the name "brethren" (1.11) the sad fact is revealed that this unity was marred at Corinth. And may we not say that this deplorable scene of "contentions" (1.11) "envying and strife and divisions" (3.3) in that early church, is the seed plot of the terrible sectarianism and confusion of Christendom to-day? The third and fourth mentions of "brethren" (1.26, 2.1) should be pondered also, and when the fifth is reached (3.1) the Apostle solemnly declares that this divided sectarian state has rendered the Corinthians "carnal" (fleshly) instead of "spiritual." As such they were only able to take babes’ food: they were undeveloped, whereas they ought to have already reached spiritual maturity. Oh, how true this picture is of many Christians now, hindered from spiritual growth by sectarianism; gathering to human names instead of the one blessed Name; adhering to human creeds instead of the precious Word of the Lord—spiritual babes, whereas they ought to be spiritually "young men" or "fathers" (1 Jn. 2.13,14). Have we noticed the words of verse 4 in 1st Cor. 3? "For while one saith ‘I am of Paul’ and another ‘I am of Apollos’ are ye not men?" This is the word here—"men" (see R.V., etc.). "Natural men" (ch. 2.14). What a sore pity if saints become in action mere natural men instead of spiritual brethren! Glance at the remarkable scene in Genesis 13: where Abraham, "the father of all them that believe" (Rom. 4.11) nobly and spiritually says to Lot his nephew, "Let there be no strife, I pray thee, between me and thee, and between my herdmen and thy herdmen; for we be brethren." How precious an example for "brethren" today! Note the previous verse — "and the Canaanite and the Perizzite dwelled then in the land." Did not Abraham thus realize — "their eyes are upon us, and if these Canaanites and Perizzites who are mere worldlings can dwell in peace together, how shameful if we strive with one another, and if we cause them to feast their eyes on our folly?" Let every saint and every assembly take heed to this old time picture today.
—to be continued (D.V.)
by G. Roy (New Brunswick, Canada)
When I was 17 years old, in the month of February 1978 I was saved from the judgment of God against my sins, through faith in the Person of Christ.
I was raised in a loving home, by Roman Catholic parents who were faithful to their religion. Between the age of 4 and 5 I was taught the prayers and commandments of Catholicism. I used to walk with my father hand in hand to the "church", every Sunday possible and we prayed as a family every night.
After 16 years of living a strict religious life I was still without peace and satisfaction in my heart. A good, moral boy, yet without God’s salvation, I began with school chums to seek pleasure in the world and its sins. After only a few weeks I was involved in alcohol and drugs and many other evils. I am ashamed to think of my condition before God when in my sins.
During my last year at high school I still wasn’t happy and was without peace with God. In January 1978 I heard for the first time in my life about a man who was sure that his sins were forgiven. He said that he had biblical assurance that he would be in heaven when he died. After I had talked with him, I said to myself; "if it is possible to have this assurance then I will seek it until I find it." I began reading nightly in a New Testament. I discovered to my grief what God had to say about me. I realized that I had sinned against a holy God, and because of my condition I was unfit for heaven and would surely be sent to hell. After many nights of sorrow and heartache about where I would be in eternity, the salvation of my soul became the most important thing in my life. I tried stopping many of my evil habits, as the drugs and drinking and the dance club but I still had no rest. One night while visiting a Christian I wanted desperately to be saved. After our conversation I was still in the dark. In my despair I fell to my knees and acknowledged to God that I was a lost sinner who deserved to be in hell. While upon my knees I understood that the Lord Jesus Christ was judged for my sins upon the cross at Calvary and I was able to trust Him for my salvation.
God saved others in the village that year including my younger brother and one of my sisters. We gathered every Lord’s day to read the Holy Scriptures together and pray. We didn’t know anything about the truths of the Assembly but wouldn’t take any other Name than that of Christians and refused to join denominations that had just been started in the area. Though a few English speaking Assemblies existed in New Brunswick at that time, there was no testimony for God among the French speaking people, the majority of whom were ignorant of the Word of God and in spiritual darkness.
It was in the late summer of 1978 that God answered our prayers for guidance and allowed us to meet believers who gather in the Lord’s Name. A young man from New Brunswick, Yvon Poirier, had moved to Ontario for work, and while there was saved by God’s grace and gathered out to the Lord’s name. At that time "he came back to speak to his family in a small village 60 miles away from Green River. He had little success and was returning to Ontario rather discouraged. As he drove by Green River, God arranged circumstances so that he should meet one of those who had professed salvation. He didn’t know anything about us before. He rejoiced to know of other French speaking people whom God had saved and who had a thirst for the Holy Scriptures. He then contacted Murray McCandless who had been recently commended for full time work in New Brunswick. He came to visit us in the autumn and had a few meetings speaking with the help of an interpreter.
Brother Larry Buote, who could speak French, later joined him for 8 weeks of Gospel meetings, during which many strangers attended and a small number were born of God. They followed with ministry meetings and were joined by Mr. James Smith, a preacher from U.S.A., giving teaching on the New Testament Assembly. As a result of the submission of the young believers to God’s word, eleven of us from the locality with visiting brethren, sat down to remember the Lord in the Breaking of Bread on February 25th, 1979. For the most of us we had never witnessed the Lord’s supper before. They were precious moments when in all sincerity and simplicity we gathered as a N.T. Assembly in the basement of a house where a pool room used to be.
In the summer of 1979 our brother Yvon Poirier came again to see his family and had some Gospel meetings in an old school in the back roads of his native village. Though we were young believers, we took our turn to open the meetings for our brother. A good number were attending and some were reached by God and delivered. In the early autumn brother Larry Buote asked me to join him for more meetings in the same school, which went on for a few weeks. Though I didn’t feel I had the capacity to preach every night, I had a desire to see others reached and saved and was willing to try. In spite of much opposition from the R.C. priest, we were able to visit most homes in the village and a good number attended. It was during these meetings that the mother of our brother Yvon Poirier professed salvation.
In 1980 God did a similar work in Tracadie, 235 miles away, as He did in Green River. A number had been saved by their personal reading of the Word of God, and then came in contact with brother Larry Buote. I joined him for tent meetings during my vacation time in August of 1980. After pitching the tent on two different lots we had to take it down because of opposition. We had meetings in different houses for a few weeks during which God was pleased to save five precious souls who were later baptised and received into the Assembly. An Assembly was planted in Tracadie in November of 1980. A third French speaking Assembly was planted in Shediac, 335 miles from Green River in 1983.
Until 1984 I had the privilege of sharing in gospel work with other local brethren and some of the Lord’s servants who were willing to take me under their wing. While holding employment, I was able to engage in tract distribution and meetings around Green River as well as visiting the other Assemblies on weekends. During my vacation time, and at other occasions I was able to take time off work without pay to help in Gospel meetings in different areas of New Brunswick. The responsible brethren from the different French speaking Assemblies and the Lord’s servants with whom I was privileged to labour encouraged me on different occasions about giving all my time to the Lord’s work. I felt the need of having God’s mind personally and made it a matter of prayer for over a year before I had peace of mind about it. I then told my brethren about my exercise in the winter of 1984. After praying about it and waiting upon God they were happy to let me go into full time service in July 1984. During that summer I shared gospel meetings with our brother Mr. Albert Grainger in the Shediac hall. God gave us much joy in seeing His hand at work in the salvation of precious souls who were later received into Assembly fellowship. In the month of May 1985 I was joined in marriage to Elisabeth Dodds from the Assembly at Sarnia, Ontario, who was willing to move among a people of different culture and learn a new language.
We feel very small in what we seek to do for the Lord and lean upon Him for the needed strength and preservation. We are thankful for the coming in of our brother Mr. Leslie Wells who is a great help to the work here and to us specially as a co-worker. At present there are 4 French speaking Assemblies in New Brunswick, composed of mainly young couples. We look to God for the great need of taking the Gospel into new areas where the Gospel was never preached. We would value the prayers of the Lord’s people for the preservation of the Assemblies and the progress of the Gospel. We are cast upon God, for we have no strength of our own.
Rich for How Long?
A life of contentment is a rare jewel to find. Avarice, greed, being discourteous and disrespectful, cheating, lying and violence are all the marks of those who seek to obtain place, power and promotion. These ambitions are all for time alone. A very wealthy man in his thirties was dying and he called his lawyers to discuss his affairs and the eventual distribution of his wealth. His little daughter of tender years entered the room and overheard the conversation. She was very surprised and asked her father why he was giving away all his money and possessions. He answered, "Where I am going these are not needed."
Dear reader, have you come to an understanding that riches, power, high office etc. are of no value when we leave time for God’s great eternity. Then the welfare of the body is irrelevant and the only thing that matters is the welfare of the soul. The Lord Jesus Christ asked the question, "what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?" Mark 8.36,37. To lose one’s soul means to be under the judgment of Cod for eternity. Ponder carefully the following quotations. Matt.25.41, "Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels"; v46, "these shall go away into everlasting punishment"; Jude v7, "Even as Sodom and Gomorrha…..are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire." Well may we ask the question of Isaiah 33.14, "Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire? who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings?" If we can "dwell" in such circumstances, obviously there is no thought of annihilation.
It ought to be a great relief to learn that there is away in which we can be saved. How can this be? Peter said, "Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved." The name mentioned is that of the Lord Jesus Christ, God’s Son who came from heaven to die upon the cross and open up the way back to God. When he died upon the cross it was to bring eternal and entire satisfaction to God in relation to sin and to permit God to forgive our sins on a righteous basis. 2 Corinthians 5.21, "He hath made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him"; 1 Peter 3.18, "For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God". There is sufficient in His death to meet the need of all who will come to Him and trust Him as their Saviour.
It cost God His only begotten Son to provide salvation and thus it is very costly and very great. The question that all readers need to answer is found in Hebrews 2.3, "How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation?"
THE HOLY INCENSE
- Take sweet spices of equal quantity;
- Onycha, galbanum and of stacte,
- Blended with pure frankincense together
- Into incense unlike any other.
- All were produced and sent in from abroad,
- Mindful of Him who is the Son of God,
- Who left His throne and lived that we may see
- Virtues and graces in sweet harmony.
- Before the fragrant cloud could rise at all,
- The holy incense must be beaten small
- And placed upon the golden altar’s fire.
- That perfume then gave God His heart’s desire.
- For it displays in lovely clarity,
- The life of Christ in sweet humility,
- Offered to God upon that altar cross,
- In fragrance rare, all else beside is dross.
—M. J. Cordiner (Kilwinning)
- Today it is not mine to know,
- I would not wish that it was so,
- Whatever course that it may take,
- My Lord will never leave — forsake.
- And yesterday I knew His care
- Throughout the day I knew Him there,
- Today I can look back and see
- How very good He was to me.
- Tomorrow He will be the same,
- He never can deny His Name,
- He promised never to-forsake,
- No never, for His own name’s sake.
- —Henry V. Porter (Based on Hebrews 13.5)