MIRACLES AT CALVARY
by John B. D. Page
THOUGHTS ON PSALMS 22, 23, 24
by D. S. Parrack
PAPERS ON PROPHECY
by W. W. Fereday
INDISSOLUBILITY OF MARRIAGE
by Albert L. Leckie
ASSEMBLY BIBLE CLASS
by J. Riddle
by A. D. Thropay
REMINISCENCE OF WORSHIP AND SERVICE
by H. Bailie
MY CONVERSION AND CALL
by J. Nesbitt
by John B. D. Page (Weston-Super-Mare)
6. The Miracle of the Lord’s loud cries on the cross: For six long hours, the Lord Jesus hung on that Roman gibbet in the midst of criminals. At the foot of the cross, stood His bewildered disciples with a handful of grief-stricken women; those hostile chief priests and elders jeering at Him; the Roman soldiers who had crucified Him, besides people passing by.
From the lips of the Holy Sufferer came some words, commonly known as His seven sayings, in the following order, (with the key thought after each):—
- "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do"— Forgiveness requested for His enemies.
- "To day shalt thou be with Me in paradise"— Salvation promised to a repentant sinner.
- "Woman behold thy son! Behold thy mother!"— Love shown to His mother.
- "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?"— Anguish of soul addressed to God.
- "I thirst"— Infirmity of body expressed.
- "It is finished"— Victory proclaimed.
- "Father, into Thy hands I commend My spirit"— Commitment to God.
The first three sayings were spoken before the three hours of darkness, and the last four at the end of it. The first and seventh sayings were addressed to His Father, whilst the fourth was to God. In the first two sayings, He gave expression to the spiritual well-being of His enemies and a repentant malefactor respectively, in the third the physical welfare of His mother. Only in the fifth saying, He voiced His own bodily sufferings, preventing a false notion that He was miraculously free from distressing pain but, like any other crucified person, He had a burning and consuming thirst. Like the first, the seventh saying was a prayer. In revealing His compassion for others in the first of three sayings He made no Scripture quotations, but in expressing His innermost thoughts concerning Himself He quoted Scripture for each of the last four. In the sixth saying, He proclaimed that He had finished completely the work for which His Father had sent Him and given Him to do. These remarkable seven sayings were spoken whilst His whole body was racked with pain.
In the last four sayings, there is detected that the Lord Jesus was like other humans a tripartite being — spirit, soul and body (1 Thess. 5.23). In the seventh saying, He declared His desire for His spirit. Voicing His feeling of forsakenness by God in the fourth saying. He poured out the agony of His soul through which He was passing. By saying He was thirsty in the fifth, He expressed the need of His body. None other that the Incarnate Word could have unfolded the constituents of His person solely through the written word.
The physical and mental agonies borne by a victim of this form of capital punishment, started by the Syro-Phoenicians and adopted by the Romans, are beyond description. Although much of the indescribable sufferings endured by the Lord Jesus are depicted prophetically in the first stanza of the Messianic 22nd Psalm, none is mentioned by the gospel writers.
Something unusual happened at about the ninth hour (i.e., about 3 p.m.) toward the end of the three hours of darkness. Then, not before, "Jesus cried with a loud voice, . . ." Speaking for the fourth time, the manner of uttering His words was not typical of any crucified victim because, owing to sheer physical exhaustion, one was only able to speak in a whisper as the Lord Jesus had on the three earlier occasions. Humanly speaking, it was supernatural—nothing short of a miracle which had never before occurred at a crucifixion scene—that "Jesus cried with a loud voice." Calling out aloud. He said, "Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?" Matt. 27.46. Similarly, Mark 15.34 records, "Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? which is being interpreted, My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?" This fourth saying on the cross, recorded in Hebrew by Matthew and in Aramaic by Mark followed by a translation, is peculiar to these two gospels. For this fourth saying on the cross, the Lord Jesus chose to quote the opening words of Psalm 22.
Significantly, He did not say, "My Father, My Father, why hast Thou forsaken Me?—it was not the cry of the Son to the Father, because the Father did not forsake His Son on the cross which is evident from His last saying, Luke 23.46, cp. v. 34. The language was of this sinless Man feeling abandoned by His God. Realising that God, as Judge, had to be separated from Him as the Substitute for sinners, He expressed His agony of soul, rather than body, in making atonement for sin. He then fulfilled the words of Jehovah concerning the suffering Servant, "Thou shalt make His soul an offering for sin" Isa. 53.10. By imputation, He was "made sin for us" 2 Cor. 5.21. As a holy God was unable to look favourably upon sin, this sinless Man felt abandoned in giving His life on the cross. Expressed another way in The Wycliffe Bible Commentary, Homer A. Kent, Jnr., says, "The full import of this cry cannot be fathomed. But certainly its basis lay not in the physical suffering primarily, but in the fact that for a time Jesus was made sin for us (2 Cor. 5.21) and in paying the penalty as the sinner’s substitute, He was accursed of God (Gal. 3.13). God the Father did not forsake Him (Luke 23.46); but God as Judge had to be separated from Him . . . ."
Commenting in his Analytical Studies of the Psalms upon Psalm 22:1, from which the Lord Jesus took the opening words for His loud cry of abandonment, Arthur G. Clarke says, "Christ the believing sinner’s substitute was abandoned to the full curse of the broken law. The very height of His essential majesty made the horror of the cross infinite. Such desolation no soul but His could experience; for us it will ever remain an unfathomable mystery: . . ." For expressing His soul’s sense of abandonment by God, there must be a reason that the holy Sufferer elected to quote from Psalm 22 and not from another Messianic Psalm. The explanation appears to be found in the fact that in this Psalm, unlike any other, Christ is portrayed as the Sin Offering of which, by His infinite knowledge, He was cognisant. Interestingly, it may be noted that His next saying spoken in a whisper is taken from Psalm 69 which presents Him as the Trespass Offering. Remarkably, in His other sayings He refrained from quoting a scripture which sets Him forth as one of the other three Levitical offerings. By restricting His quotations from these two Psalms for His fourth and fifth sayings, emphasis is placed upon the primary purpose of His vicarious death – the one and only efficacious offering for sin. Again, the sin offerings were burned outside the camp (Lev. 4.12,21), which foreshadowed how Jesus suffered outside the gate (Heb. 13.1 If).
The loud cry of feeling forsaken by God came from the lips of the Lord Jesus at "about the ninth hour" Matt. 27.46, which is not without significance. At that time the passover lamb for the Paschal Feast was offered upon the altar in the innermost court of the Temple, and simultaneously Christ the true Passover Lamb was "sacrificed for us" (1. Cor. 5.7) outside the city gate.
"Forsaken" – was the sinless Man. Men forsook Him in extenuating circumstances, for it was at the treacherous time of betrayal that all His disciples forsook Him and fled (Matt. 26.56). In the darkest hour of His substitutionary sufferings on the cross, God forsook Him (Matt. 27.46). Such experiences of Christ cannot be those of the Christian. But the Christian in his path of discipleship has forsaken all and followed Christ (Matt. 19.27). Men may forsake him but the Lord has promised, "I will never leave thee nor forsake thee" Heb. 13.5 , which was understood within the confines of imprisonment by Paul who said, "all forsook me, . . . but the Lord stood by me" 2. Tim. 4.16f, RV . This can be the experience of every Christian.
As the last moments of the Lord’s life on earth drew near, Matthew 27.50 says that "Jesus, when He had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost." Yes, "again" He cried aloud says the narrator indicating that this was His second loud cry. Mark, like Matthew, records the first loud cry with the agonising words spoken, after which Jesus was given vinegar from a sponge to drink (Mark 15.34,36). Then he continues, "And Jesus cried with a loud voice and gave up the ghost" Mark 15.37 , clearly signifying that He cried aloud for the second time just before He died. Luke makes no reference to the first loud cry or the saying, but he says, "when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, He said, Father, into Thy hands I commend My spirit: and having said thus, He gave up the ghost" Luke 23.46 . According to this verse, the dying Saviour’s last words on the cross were uttered just after
He had cried with a loud voice, meaning this was His second loud cry. For a victim of crucifixion to cry aloud once, as Jesus did, was miraculous. But to cry with a loud voice a second time was extraordinary and Luke, as a physician felt compelled apparently by the Holy Spirit to record this unprecedented miracle. Although Matthew, Mark and Luke record the fact of the Lord’s second loud cry, none mentions the words spoken, which is seemingly a problem. By comparing the inspired narratives, the answer may be found. Both Matthew 27.48, 50 and Mark 15.36f report a soldier’s offer of a vinegar drink on a reed to Jesus without saying whether He accepted it. He did, according to the fourth gospel – "when Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, He said, It is finished" John 19.30 . As His loud cry of desolation was the opening words of Psalm 22, so the loud cry of jubilation were the closing words of Psalm 22. In Greek, the expression is one word, "Finished" – in Hebrew, "Done".
Appropriately the Lord Jesus proclaimed aloud "It is finished." This was now a glorious fact which had been awaited. Declaring early in His ministry the purpose of His Father sending Him to this world, He said it was to do the will of His Father and "to finish His work" John 4. 34 . Saying shortly afterwards that "the works which the Father hath given Me to finish," He then said that such works testify of His Person (John 5.36). Praying to His Father during the evening before His death, He said, "I have finished the work which Thou hast given Me to do" John 17.4 . The next day He cried aloud from the cross, "It is finished" (John 19.30) – He had fulfilled the will of His Father and accomplished the work!
In The Seven Sayings of the Saviour on the Cross, Arthur W. Pink writes, " ‘It is finished’. This was not the despairing cry of a helpless martyr; it was not an expression of satisfaction that the termination of His sufferings was now reached; it was not the last gasp of a worn-out life; No, rather was it the declaration on the part of the Divine redeemer that all for which He came from Heaven to earth to do, was now done; that all that was needed to reveal the full character of God had now been accomplished; that all that was required by the Law before sinners could be saved had now been performed: that the full price of our redemption was now paid."
—to be continued (D. V.)
Thoughts on Psalms 22, 23, 24
by D. S. Parrack, (Somerset, England)
Whilst in general terms, it is usual when studying the book of Psalms to take each Psalm on a ‘stand alone’ basis, it is possible on occasions to take a set and study them together. Most other books of the bible, especially those in the N.T., should be looked at as entire entities, the later chapters of the epistles, for instance, very often drawing practical conclusions from earlier doctrinal chapters.
The Psalms were however written by a number of individuals, with differing emphasis being put by each. This in no way dilutes the truth that "all scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness," 2 Tim. 3.16, but it does show that different scriptures have a special relevance and are of particular help in various circumstances.
The three Psalms being considered here are all attributed to David. Although they each deal with separate aspects, both of the Person of the Lord Jesus and of believers’ relationships with Him, they do so in a related fashion. This may at first sight seem surprising since Psalm 23 is so very well known, perhaps the passage of scripture most often learned by heart, whereas Psalm 22 and 24 may be barely known by many people.
Before looking into each Psalm separately, it would be a good thing to establish the suggested connections. One short way of describing the set together is by saying that they tell us of three things very much to do with the Lord Jesus. These are, the cross, the crook and the crown. The cross reminding us of Calvary, the crook of the implement carried by a shepherd to assist faltering or stranded sheep and the crown as that belongs to the Lord Jesus by right. That divine right is based on who He is, the Son of God, and on what He has done, conquered death and purchased salvation for all who willingly become His subjects.
As well as three things so closely associated with Him, these Psalms also reveal characteristics of three of His titles. As Psalm 22 speaks so much of the cross and its accompanying events, pointing to His life being freely and fully given, we are reminded of His own words in John’s gospel "I am the good shepherd, the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep" John 10.11. He is then the Good Shepherd.
But, we may say, surely Psalm 23 is all about the Shepherd. Yes it is, but not talking of His sacrificial death for us, but of His shepherd care over us. We all need that care so very much though sometimes we are not conscious of it.
When Peter was writing one of his letters to the early Christians he talked especially at one point to the elders and said that they should act like shepherds. But he reminded them that they were really under-shepherds, there is a Chief Shepherd who looks after all His people including the elders themselves. One day that Chief Shepherd is going to collect all His sheep together, from all over the world, past and present. Then there will be "one fold (flock) and one shepherd" John 10.16.
So to His followers, Christians, He is today, here and now the Chief Shepherd, doing for us all those things of which David writes in his much loved Psalm 23.
What then of Psalm 24. It talks of crowns and glory and victory, e.g. "The King of glory, the Lord strong and Mighty, the Lord mighty in battle" v. 8. But we do not usually associate those things with shepherds, surely they are not noble enough, not great enough, for that.
We read right at the very end of the letter to the Hebrews, "our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep" Heb. 13.20. In the very same verse we are told of the death of the Lord Jesus, His resurrection and the everlasting, unchanging nature of what those two tremendous happenings have achieved. Is not that greatness? Greatness on a scale against which all the glory and pomp of this world fades into insignificance. Thus Gray wrote in his elegy—
The boast of heraldry, the pomp of pow’r, And all that beauty, all that wealth e’re gave, Awaits alike the inevitable hour, The paths of glory lead but to the grave.
Ah yes, but he was talking about the glory, power and beauty of mortal man. The Lord Jesus talks of a glory that He had before the world was ever made, John 17.5, and we are assured that such glory, such greatness will never diminish for He is "Jesus Christ the same yesterday and today and for ever" Heb. 13.8. He is truly, immeasurably, eternally great, but still as the shepherd, our Great Shepherd.
As the main purpose of these notes is for you, my brother, my sister, to be encouraged to read and learn from the scriptures for yourselves, it is not intended to produce a detailed commentary on the three psalms. It is important however that when we make assertions about scripture we show some justification of the truth of our statements. That is what we will now do.
This is one of the most concentrated passages in the O.T. as far as references to the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus is concerned. We are told in advance some of the very words which He would utter on the cross, v. 1 & Matt. 27.46. We are shown the scorn heaped on Him by the Jewish leaders, v. 8 & Matt. 27.43. The kind of death He was to die, a method of execution probably unknown at the time the Psalm was written, is given in solemn detail, v. 8 & Matt. 27.35. The callous attitude of the officiating soldiers is shown in parallel with all the above, v. 18 & John 19.24.
The Psalm does not end in defeat but rather in victory. The intervention of His Father in response to His call is recorded, v. 21,24, not to save Him from crucifixion but to bring Him right through to resurrection. The query of Isaiah "Who shall declare His generation? for He was cut off out of the land of the living" Isa. 53.8, is answered. The Lord Jesus had no natural descendants, but nonetheless, as a result of His death and resurrection "a seed shall serve Him, it shall be accounted unto the Lord for a generation" v. 30. They will become a part of His family so that He will one day say, with all His people gathered around Him "Behold I and the children which God hath given Me" Heb. 2.13.
So as the Good Shepherd, on the cross He gave His life for the sheep, but as He said "I lay down my life that I might take it again — I have power to lay it down and I have power to take it again" John 10.17,18. In that resurrection life having already saved His own sheep, He now lives to look after them, which brings us neatly to Psalm 23.
The opening verse shows how personal the relationship between the caring Shepherd and any one individual sheep must be. The Lord Jesus is a Shepherd in the three senses of the term as discussed above, but to David, and to all believers, He is something more. The Psalmist exults "The Lord is my shepherd," v. 1, and it is that fact which makes things real to our hearts and souls. He supplies spiritual nourishment, v. 2. He rescues us from backsliding and brings us into the way of living that pleases Him, v. 3. Though the thought of rods and staffs may perhaps cause us to shrink a little, He uses them, when we are in danger and distress, as weapons to protect us, v. 4. Even while in the midst of those dangers His care is still constant, v. 5. Such goodness, kindness and love, in the ways referred to above, give us confidence to be assured that He will never fail us, though we may well fail Him at times. His grace is more than enough, 2 Cor. 12.9, both for this life and to see us safely and happily into a new life and a new home with Him for ever, v. 6. In that place there are no more dangers or problems, Rev. 21.4, but the greatness of His love and care is not diminished one jot. As well as being the Chief Shepherd He will show Himself in that third role as the Great Shepherd, bringing us to the last of the trilogy of Psalms being considered.
But is He who was rejected as King down here, (John 19.13-15), and whose subjects in this world are, generally, so insignificant and despised, (see 1 Cor. 1.26), really able to offer a secure and certain place in heaven? Just how great is the Good Shepherd, the Chief Shepherd? Well, He made the whole world, together with everyone and everything in it, v. 1 & John 1.3. But if He is so powerful and glorious what chance have we of getting into heaven where He is? Every chance, because He has gone there Himself and He promised that we will go to be with Him, John 14.2,3, and His promises are unbreakable or, as the scriptures put it, "Yea and Amen," 2 Cor. 1.20.
Whilst v. 4 and 5 really apply to the Lord Jesus Himself they also show us how believers are fitted to enter heaven. As a result of the cleansing achieved by the death of the Lord Jesus, all our sins, have been washed away, Rev. 1.5.
We may see in the Psalm the return of a Conquering Hero when the Lord Jesus went back to heaven forty days after His resurrection, but as an application and to cheer our hearts we know He is going back a second time, after He has come to collect together all His believing people, 1 Thess. 4.16,17. That time He will not go in alone. He will bring with Him every single one of His redeemed.
We have the promise of the Lord Jesus, "Surely I come quickly," and the heartfelt response of His waiting people, "even so come Lord Jesus," in the last one verse of the whole bible, Rev. 20.21. Then we shall really be able to appreciate just what a Great Shepherd we have.
by The Late W. W. Fereday (written in 1897/98) VOLUME I
Paper 5(b)—The Coming Great Tribulation
Now let us glance down the Lord’s words in Matt. 24. In verses 4-14 the general position during the Lord’s absence is briefly described. His servants must expect to meet trial and suffering in their service, but must persevere to the end. These exhortations are of value to those who serve the Lord Jesus now; but will have their full application in the circumstances of the Jewish witnesses at the time of the end. Then we get something more definite. "When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place (whoso readeth let him understand) : then let them which be in Judea flee into the mountains" (verses 15,16). Here we have a very important sign. What is meant by "the abomination of desolation"? "Abomination" is the Scripture title for an idol. Thus we read of "Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites," and "Chemosh the abomination of Moab" (1 Kings 11.5-7). It is, therefore, an idol set up in the holy place at Jerusalem. This has never happened in the past. True, the temple was defiled by Antichus Epiphanes (Dan. 11.31), but this was long before the Lord’s prophecy. The only event of note in connection with the temple since the Lord Jesus spoke was its destruction by the Roman armies under Titus in A.D. 70; consequently the Lord’s prediction has yet to be fulfilled.
The explanation is as follows. In the closing crisis the Jews will receive the false Christ, as has been shown in a preceding paper. He will keep his word with them for a time, and will appear to be their guardian and friend. But he will change his tactics after a while, and in league with the power of the West will seek to force idolatry upon them. Not only will he himself sit in the temple of God, claiming to be divine, but he will place there the image of the Roman beast. This I believe to be the "abomination of desolation" to which our Lord Jesus here refers. There will be really three false objects of worship in that day— the dragon, the image of the beast, and the Antichrist (Rev. 12.4-15; 2 Thess. 2.4). The mass of the Jewish people will blindly accept this. The Lord warned that wicked generation that the unclean spirit would return with sevenfold malignity at the end (Matt. 12.43-45). The devil-possessed herd of swine furnish us with a solemn picture of them, rushing headlong to destruction (Matt. 8.28-34).
They have kindled their own fire in accepting the false Messiah shall lie down in sorrow; this they shall have at Jehovah’s righteous hand, as the prophet declares (Isa. 50.11).
Those will be terrible times for such as fear God; fearful persecutions will break out more severe in character than anything yet known. The Lord bids them note the signs and take warning. When they behold this daring iniquity in the sanctuary in Jerusalem they are to flee. So urgent is the matter that "Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take anything out of his house: neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes" (Matt. 24.17,18). They are to make for the mountains with all possible haste. All this instruction is plainly for persons living in Judea. Readers of Scripture who persist in seeing the Church of God in this chapter must find themselves beset with
difficulties in every detail of the prophecy. Is the Church of God confined to one land that such signs should be of service? Is not the Church rather to be found in every quarter of the earth? When once it is perceived that the godly in Judea are in view, all is simple and clear.
The Lord bids them pray that they may not have to flee in the winter, or on the Sabbath day. How exceedingly gracious! He is ever-mindful of the circumstances of His beloved saints, however apparently trivial or small. He thought of the suffering involved in a winter flight without time to go into the house for an overcoat! And what a dilemma they would find themselves in if the image happened to be set up on the Sabbath day! Therefore He bids them cry to God that it may not so occur. In such a case they would not know what to do. If a journey of any length were undertaken on the Sabbath day (Acts 1.12) it would involve a breach of the law: yet, if they stayed awhile, for conscience sake, they might lose their lives.
The introduction of the Sabbath day is an additional proof that we are on Jewish, rather than Church, ground in this chapter. Nowhere in the epistles of the New Testament is the Sabbath spoken of in connection with the Church of God save in Col. 2.16 and 17, where the apostle contends for liberty as to it. The Christian’s day is not the seventh day, but the first of the week; which speaks to us of redemption accomplished, of victory won, and of a new creation where all things are of God. It is serious to confound the two days, though commonly done. The principles connected with them are entirely different, and even opposite. The Sabbath day is in abeyance during the present period of grace, but will come into view again when God resumes relations with the people of Israel.
To return. The tribulations will be an unparalleled one. Satan will just then have been cast out of heaven (never more to return), and will be full of fury, knowing that he has but a short time (Rev. 12.7-13). All opposition to his schemes he will endeavour to stamp out by means of his principal tools, the Roman Beast and the man of sin. Still, God holds the reins. The enemy cannot exceed His limits. He has fixed the moment when the sorrow shall cease, and all the rage of Satan cannot prolong it one hour.
What comfort this is for the saints of God! "Except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved; but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened" (verse 22). For three years and a half the tribulation will rage. The period is variously described in Scripture, leaving no real doubt in the mind. In Rev. 11.3; 12.6, we read of "one thousand, two hundred and threescore days;" in Rev. 11.2, of "forty-two months;" and in Dan. 7.25, of "a time, and times and the dividing of time." Dan. 9.27 also confirms this.
Before speaking of the deliverance, the Lord gives another warning of a highly important character. "Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo ! here is Christ, or there; believe it not. For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they would deceive the very elect. Behold, I have told you before. Wherefore, if they shall say unto you. Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth : behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not" (verses 23-26). This word of counsel will doubtless prove to be of great value at that time. The fugitives might easily be duped. When fleeing for their lives, crying out of their agonized Hearts, "Oh Lord, how long;" "Oh that thou wouldest rend the heavens, that thou wouldest come down" (Ps. 79.5 ; Isa. 64.1), how easily might they be deceived by false reports. Suppose someone told them that Christ had come, and had arrived at Bethlehem or elsewhere, it might be believed. There is a vast difference in the hope of the Christian and the hope of the Jew in this respect. Our hope is not the coming of the Lord Jesus to the earth, but into the air. We shall meet Him there, and go with Him into the Father’s house. This is our proper expectation; but it will be otherwise with the waiting Jews. He will come to them where they are. His feet first touching the Mount of Olives, the spot from which He went up (Zech. 14.4; Acts 1.9-12). But the point of the Lord’s warning is that they will not need to be informed when He appears, for his manifestation will be a public display of glory, comparable to the lightning coming out of the east, and shining unto the west : "Every eye shall see Him" (Rev. 1.7).
His advent will bring the Great Tribulation to a close. The righteous Lord will deal with His adversaries, especially the Beast, and the Man of Sin (as we have already shown), and deliver and comfort His oppressed and suffering saints. Such is the testimony of Matt. 24.
We will now consider the testimony of the Old Testament prophets. Read Jer. 30.4-9. The Prophet evidently speaks of the same time as the Lord Jesus in the chapter we have been examining. "Alas ! for that day is great, so that none is like it." This is plainly the well-known time of unparalleled trouble. But who are the sufferers contemplated? Not the Church, of which Jeremiah knew less than the disciples who sat with the Lord on the Mount of Olives. "It is even the time of ‘Jacob’s trouble.’ "These are the words which Jehovah spake concerning Israel and concerning Judah." All this is very simple and intelligible, save to those who are addicted to the habit of "spiritualizing" the prophecies of the Old Testament. Such a mode of interpretation is a grievous mistake, highly injurious in many cases to the soul, which finds itself appropriating as its own merely earthly blessings, when God would have the heart in the enjoyment of the heavenly portion, which He has made ours in the risen Christ. When God says "Israel" and "Judah," we may be assured that He means what He says. Hence, Jeremiah’s prediction speaks of trouble for the earthly people, no others being before his mind. But deliverance shall follow, as Matt. 24 has shown us. Jacob shall be saved out of his tribulation, the yoke of the oppressors shall be broken forever, and Israel shall serve Jehovah their God and the true David their King.
Turn now to Dan. 12.1 : "And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people; and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation, even to that same time; and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book." This exactly corresponds with what has already passed before us. It is the same epoch, for if the preceding verses be examined (chapter 11.36-45) it will be seen that the Angel is speaking to the Prophet of the day of Antichrist’s supremacy in the glorious land (Israel). With this is connected "a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation, even to that same time." This is the familiar period of unparalleled tribulation. But who are the sufferers ? "Thy people." Daniel’s people are the Jews, as I need not stay to prove. Deliverance follows the trouble at least for the elect—those written in God’s book. How harmonious is Scripture in all its parts ! Though Jeremiah, Daniel, and the Lord Jesus wrote and spoke at different times, and under widely different circumstances, they exactly correspond in every little detail. The reverent mind cannot fail to see in this the guiding hand of the One Spirit. He it was Who inspired all the writers in the book of God, giving unity and harmony to the whole. May our confidence in the Spirit of God be deepened in this evil day, when so much unbelief and doubt are around us on every hand.
—to be continued (D.V.)
by the late Albert L. Leckie (Airdrie, Scotland)
(This is the transcript of a message given by our late brother at the London Convention in July 1988. This explains the somewhat colloquial style of the article. – Ed.)
READ-Matt. 5.31-32; 19. 3-9.
This evening I have two matters to deal with: i) The indissolubility of marriage; ii) Are there no exception clauses?
i) THE INDISSOLUBILITY OF MARRIAGE.
Marriage is a divine institution and dated from the time of man’s creation. Thus marriage is not simply a Mosaic ordinance but is, in fact, an essential part of God’s scheme of creation and it is intended for all humanity. Accepting, as every Christian must, the Bible as our final authority, we believe that the marriage bond for the Christian is indissoluble. I want you to look with me at the reasons for such an assertion.
There ought to be no doubt from the record of the 1st marriage in Eden’s garden, that God was establishing from the outset the indissolubility of marriage. Let me remind you that with a spoken word God filled the waters and the seas with whales and fish and also the firmament with fowl. You may remember the language of Gen 1.20, "And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven." Also with a spoken word God introduced the cattle, the creeping thing and the beast of the earth, "And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so. (Gen.1.24). Man, however, was a special creation, Gen. 1.26, "And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness:". My brother, my sister, we must never forget that only man, of God’s creation, was made in God’s likeness and God’s image. How did God make man? Gen.2.7, "And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul."
If man was a special creation, what about the woman? The woman too was unique in her creation, certainly different from the beast of the field and also different from the man. The man was created directly by God but the woman indirectly through the man. The details are given in Gen. 2.21,22 "And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made He a woman, and brought her unto the man."
My dear friend, here we have not only the creation of the woman, but, in fact, the first marriage. Notice the language, "Jehovah God . . . brought her unto the man." There was the first marriage. The man’s first reaction upon being presented with the woman as a help meet for him, or perhaps as it could read, a help mate, his like or counterpart, was this, "This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man." (Gen.2.23). And the scripture adds, "Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be (become) one flesh." We ask the question, "Why did God thus deviate in His ways in creation when He made the woman?" The answer is of course, just this – that there might be in marriage an indissoluble bond, that does not, that cannot take place anywhere else in Gods creation – "they shall be one flesh".
One can understand men who reject creation and accept evolution thus reducing marriage to the level of lifting and laying or entering into marriage with levity, making vows that they will keep only if it suits them and break if it suits them, or as well may be the case ‘ere long, dispensing with marriage altogether. But those who accept a divine and infinite Creator in whose image man was made, who bow to the authority of the word of God, cannot lightly esteem marriage. They cannot say that if a man takes a woman to his home and cohabits then that is equivalent to marriage. It is being taught that that is more of a marriage, than marriage with its vows and what they term non-consummation! Brethren, that does not stand the test of the scriptures and it reduces human behaviour and responsibility to the level of the beast of the field and man is different. Please let us note that man and woman become indissolubly one flesh, not at the moment of consummation, but the moment the man takes and cleaves to his wife, that’s when they become one flesh. When the woman was brought to the man as his help meet then there was the subsequent command to be fruitful and replenish the earth. We can be sure about this, Adam and the woman were, without doubt, one flesh in Eden’s garden before a child was born.
Marriage is a divine institution, it therefore has divine sanction and what takes place at a marriage, here on earth is, in fact, enacted in heaven. It is of course, impossible that there could ever be a repetition of Eden’s first marriage, but the union that was then between the sexes in innocence is mysteriously brought about by the double act of a man taking a wife and God enacting this in heaven by joining them together. God does that in heaven. Hear the word of our Lord, Matt 19.5.6, "For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. WHAT THEREFORE GOD HATH JOINED TOGETHER, LET NOT MAN PUT ASUNDER." Brethren, the child of God who is enlightened by God, knows that Eden’s first marriage was a picture marriage of the church to Christ and we remember that that is a marriage that can never, never be dissolved.
Furthermore, marriage involves a vow. This is of necessity to conform to the laws of this realm. But vows are also made in the sight of God, and they mean that the couple are husband and wife ‘TILL DEATH DO PART’. This is a vow that is made at marriage. Remember Ecc. 5.5, "Better is it that thou shouldest not vow, than that thou shouldest vow and not pay." Let the man of the world, or indeed a mere religionist make a vow not caring whether he keeps it or not – no child of God ought ever to do that. These are simple matters that we are inclined to forget. Of course the Bible also speaks of marriage as a covenant. In Prov 2.17 reference is made to the strange woman, "Which forsaketh the guide of her youth, and forgetteth the covenant of her God." This must not be broken.
There is of course the teaching that adultery cancels the marriage bond. That being joined together in adultery, cancels the one flesh union of marriage. It is evident that this was not the case in patriarchal times, nor indeed under the law. The patriarchs had more than one wife and under the Mosaic law directions were given for a man having more than one wife. Deut. 21.15, "If a man have two wives, one beloved, and another hated, . . ." The second wife relationship did not cancel the first wife relationship. So it was when our Lord was here, did He not say to the woman at Sychar’s well, "thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband:" (John 4:18).
It is of course, contested in support of adultery cancelling the marriage bond that under Mosaic law, where there had been adultery, the parties involved had to die; Deut. 22.2. My dear Christian friend, that cannot be brought forward to support the dissolution of marriage. If we did we would find ourselves in insurmountable difficulties. For example, under the law, if after marriage, a man claimed that his wife whom he took was not a maid and his claim was true and he hated her, then she should be stoned to death; Deut. 22.12-21. Also in the case of a damsel betrothed unto a husband and she becomes guilty of fornication then both parties were to be stoned to death as well; Deut. 22.23-24. Thus you would be on dangerous ground if you suggest death under the law justifies the dissolution of the marriage bond in this our day. My dear Christian friends, without minimising the gravity of adultery, let me say that ADULTERY DOES NOT DISSOLVE THE MARRIAGE BOND.
—(to be continued, DV)
by J. Riddle (Cheshunt)
THE CHURCH AND THE CHURCHES
No. 3 — The Body, the Building, the Bride
So far, we have been thinking about the church in its universal sense. That is, the church in its entirety — above the centuries, above nations, above all human divisions: the church which commenced, as we saw in our last study, on the day of Pentecost, and which will be completed when the Lord Jesus returns as described in 1 Thess. 4.16-18.
Before we begin to think about New Testament teaching in connection with the local church, we must devote one more paper to the way in which the universal church is described in the Bible. The Epistle to the Ephesians deals particularly with this aspect of the church, whilst 1 Cor. and 1 Tim. deal particularly, though not exclusively, with the local aspect of the church. Ephesians uses three figures to describe the church:
A) A Body
"And hath put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fulness of Him that filleth all in all," 1.22. Let’s remember that you won’t find the so-called Church of England in the Bible with its head, the Queen; and you won’t find the so-called Roman Catholic Church in the Bible with its head, the Pope. There is one church in the Bible, and its Head is the risen, glorified and exalted Lord Jesus Christ.
Just as our body is united to our head, so is the church united by the Holy Spirit to the Lord Jesus in heaven. The Holy Spirit unites every believer to the Lord Jesus, and to every other believer. So the figure of a body conveys the important truth of the unity of the church with Christ." As the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ", 1 Cor. 12.12. The church
and its Head have a single name, just as Adam and Eve had a single name. The name of the church is, Christ. The name of Adam and Eve was, Adam: see Gen. 5.2.
The epistle to the Ephesians emphasises the unity of the body with particular reference to the deep division between Jew and Gentile. Notice the following: "For He is our peace, Who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; having abolished in His flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in Himself of twain, one new man, so making peace; and that He might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby", 2.14-16. In Christ, national barriers are abolished. ‘Not only have both been reconciled to each other so that there is no impediment to unity, but both are reconciled to a holy God so that amity exists and peace is enjoyed.’ (A. Leckie, ‘What the Bible Teaches — Ephesians’). Paul sums up the purpose of God, previously unrevealed, as follows: "that the Gentiles should be fellowheirs (i.e. with the Jews) and of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ by the gospel" 3.6.
But let’s think again about the Lord Jesus as Head of the church. His headship emphasises two important matters:
- It emphasises His authority over the church. See 1.22, "And gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fulness of Him that filleth all in all", from which we learn that He has absolute authority. The church takes its instructions from Him, just as our body takes instructions and guidance from our head, and we are therefore to recognise His will and wisdom in every matter by simple obedience to His word.
- It emphasises His care for the church. See 5.23, 29, "For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church; and He is the Saviour (that is, He sustains and preserves) of the body … for no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church." The Head of the church nourishes and cherishes the church by bestowing those gifts necessary "for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ", 4.7-16.
2) A Building
"And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner stone; in Whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: in Whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit," 2.20-22. (It’s worth noticing that whilst some translators render "all the building" as ‘every, or each, several building’, the context supports the AV rendering). So the building is a temple. Compare 1 Peter 2.5: "Ye also as lively (living) stones, are built up an spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ."
In the Old Testament, the temple was God’s dwelling-place. The place where "Thine honour dwelleth," Ps. 26.8. The place where "doth every one speak of His glory," Ps. 29.9. So the emphasis here is on the church as God’s dwelling-place, where He is honoured and glorified. We must never forget either, that the local assembly and the believer’s body are temples, and should therefore be employed for God’s honour and glory. See 1 Cor. 3.16-17, and 6.19-20.
Whilst our human limitations preclude us from observing the church as God sees it, and as the unseen onlookers see it, Eph. 3.10, that does not mean the church does not exist as "an holy temple in the Lord." Every believer since the day of Pentecost is a ‘living stone’ in the ‘spiritual house’, and one day the building will be complete. In the meantime, the Lord Jesus continues His work described in Matt. 16.18, "I will build My church."
3) A Bride
"Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for it . . . that He might present it to Himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing", 5.25-27. These wonderful words occur in a passage addressed to husbands and wives, and which emphasise the Lord’s love for the church. We have seen that in the figure of a body, the divine unity of the church is emphasised; and in the figure of a building, divine presence in the church is emphasised. Now it is the figure of a bride, and divine love for the church is emphasised. (We must, of course,
distinguish between Israel as the wife of Jehovah in the Old Testament, and the church as the bride of Christ in the New Testament).
Even brides lose a little (just a little) of their wedding-day glory and beauty as the years pass by, although it could be strongly argued that the passage of time makes them more beautiful. Think about it! But the church will never lose her glory and beauty. She will be a "glorious church" for ever, and she will be loved by the Lord Jesus for ever. Spots are indicative of something wrong in the body, and wrinkles are indicative of the aging of the body, but the church will be sinless and ageless forever!
by A. D. THROPAY (California)
II. THE BEHAVIOUR OF GOD’S MASTERPIECE 4.1-6.23
E. Walking in wisdom 5.15-6.9
2. Submissive life 5.21-6.9 c. Servants and masters 6.5-9.
Servants: (hoi douloi) This word refers to one that is born into slavery. Only death can break this relationship. This is in contrast to the word (andrapodon) which refers to a person taken in war, or a free man who is kidnapped and made a slave. (Wuest, V.3, P.45) In this word we have "a service which is not a matter of choice for the one who renders it, which he has to perform whether he likes or not, because he is subject as a slave to an alien will, to the will of his owner . . . who not only has no possibility of evading the tasks laid upon him but who also has no right of personal choice, who must rather do what another will have done, and refrain from doing what another will not have done." (TDNT)
be obedient: (hupakouo) As Verse 1. Literally, "To hear under."
It means to listen attentively and obey what is heard. It implies a readiness to hear with careful, responsive attention. The present imperative tense is used here which calls for a long term way of doing something. It is a command to start doing something and to keep on doing it as one’s general habit or life style. He is saying, "Start listening attentively, obeying what you hear and make this the habit of your life."
to them that are your masters: (tois kuriois) lords, owners, possessors.
according to the flesh: (kata sarka) This is in contrast to Jesus who is Lord according to the spirit as in verse 7. Thus they had two lords.
With: (meta) In company with, in association with. It refers especially to the mental disposition with which an action is performed.
fear: (phobos) a. Terror or fright at another’s power or potential (Matthew 14.26; Mark 28.4; John 7.13; 19.38) b. Respect awe and reverence towards the one that holds that power and authority, especially God. (I Peter 1.17) This fear is not towards man, but towards Christ, V.8.
and trembling: (tromos) "Quaking", shaking, trembling." The phrase, "fear and trembling" is used to express the feeling of utter helplessness and inability to fulfill what is required (I Corinthians 2.3; II Corinthians 7.15; Philippians 2.12; See Mark 16.8).
in (en) singleness: (haplofes) a. "Sincerity, purity, singleness." b. "Linerality, as arising from simplicity and frankness of character." (Wigram)
of your heart: (kardia) The source of every thought, emotion, action, and attitude. (See Matthew 12.34, 35; 15.19) "The center of feeling, thinking, willing." (Expositors)
as unto Christ: (Dative case) That is, for Christ and with His interests in view. (Dana & Mantey).
Not with: (me kata) "Not according to." This refers to the principle or rule of action.
eyeservice: (ophthalmodoulos) A compound word, (ophthalmos = "eye"; doulos = "a slave") referring service that is done only when being observed. Actions done only to save appearances and gain undeserved favour. These actions are not done when the master is absent, (this word is only here and Colossians 3.22)
as menpleasers: (anthropareskos) Literally, "To seek favour with man." To seek to gain the pleasure of anyone. (Only used here and Colossians 3.22)
but as servants: (douloi) As verse 5. Those that were born slaves.
of Christ: Genitive of possession, Slaves that belong to Christ by the new birth.
doing: (poieo) A creative performance. A productive action pointing to results. The present tense indicates continuous, uninterrupted habitual action.
the will: (thelema) God graciously executing His desire and decision.
of God from: (ek) out of, from.
the heart: (psuche) Soul. The soul expresses the desires of the heart through the body.
What is the soul?
The word "soul" is translated from the Hebrew word, "Nephesh." It occurs approximately 754 times in the Hebrew Old Testament. It is translated soul in the Revised Version and the King James Version about 472 times. There are forty four various words and phrases that represent the other times that the word nephesh is used.
In one hundred and twenty passages in the Old Testament man is called "Nephesh." Two examples are listed below.
"And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul." (Genesis 2.7)
"For whosoever eateth the fat of the beast, of which men offer an offering made by fire unto the Lord, even the soul that eateth it shall be cut off from his people." (Leviticus 7.25).
In the New Testament, the person is called a soul as well. Peter says, ". . . God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that, eight souls were saved by water." (1 Peter 3.20)
In the other passages where the word is applied to mankind, the soul is referred to as a "possession" of the person. Thus David could relate the following, "As the Lord liveth and hath delivered my soul out of all distresses." (I Kings 1.29) Job could say, "My soul is weary." (Job 10.1) Mary said, "My soul doth magnify the Lord." (Luke 1.46)
The soul is the seat of a person’s emotions. Hence, the soul has life, bitterness, anguish, happiness, pain, hatred, satisfaction, desire, hope, weariness, vexation, discouragement, encouragement, and many other things.
If someone was to ask you "Who is feeling this way?" You would reply, "I am feeling this way."
The soul is the person as seen by others. It is through the soul that the person speaks. (Leviticus 5.4) The soul is the element in man that commits outward sins and trespasses. (Leviticus 5.1,15,17) The soul eats. (Leviticus 76.18,25) The soul does work. (Leviticus 23.30) The soul touches things. (Numbers 19.22)
The body is the vehicle through which the soul expresses itself. The soul is what controls the actions of the body. When a person sees a person act in sorrow, joy, peace, hatred, etc., they are seeing the physical manifestation of the soul. When a person talks, commits good or evil, blesses with his mouth or curses, eats, or does anything with his body, it is the soul revealing itself through the body of the man.
The soul is the person in a very real sense. It is the central area of a person’s response to his environment. It is that which comes in contact with the words and actions of others. It is the vehicle which a person communicates with others. It is what is described to others when you say, "I’m happy," or "I’m hurting." It is what is seen by others when a person does or says anything.
—to be continued (D.V.)
- In a lovely rural district,
- Stands a little gospel hall;
- Where the Christians meet to worship
- Jesus Christ Who is God o’er all [Rom. 9.5]
- Having learned from Holy Scripture,
- How the early church did meet;
- Gathered round the Lord their Centre
- On the first day of the week. [Mat. 18.20]
- Meeting simply to remember,
- All the work that Christ has done;
- On the Cross and in the glory
- Show His death until He come. [I Cor. 11.23-26]
- Other companies gathered likewise,
- Expression of the Church of God;
- Having right as priests to enter
- Heaven, by Christ’s atoning blood. [Heb. 10.19]
- When they gather, none presiding,
- Christ the Lord is in the midst;
- And the Spirit, who is sovereign
- Freely uses whom He will. [I Cor. 12.11]
- In each gathered out assembly,
- There is room for all the gifts;
- Liberty—but no monopoly
- Guided as the Head thinks fit. [I Cor. 12.14-18]
- There is room for exhortation,
- Hymn or psalm as Spirit led;
- All that leads to exaltation
- Of the Christ, the Lamb of God. [I Cor. 14.3-15]
- Bishops rule, and priests do worship,
- Deacons serve the saints of God;
- Room for all that God has given
- All controlled by Christ the Lord. [I Tim. 3]
- May we then whose hearts are opened
- By the Lord, surrender all;
- Give Him back the life we owe Him,
- Truly answer to His call, [Rom. 12.1]
- All our talents gladly give Him;
- His "well done" will amply pay
- For our sacrifice accepted, [Matt. 25.14-23]
- In the coming crowning day.
by the late Hawthorne Bailie (Belfast).
by J. Nesbitt (St. Lucia)
I was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland and had the privilege of being taught the Word of God and its principles. My Father died when I was a boy of five, but my Mother and Grandparents showered both my younger sister and I with all the love and support that was needed in the years to come. Our home in Ligoniel was a typical working class home. In a day when the linen industry thrived and most of the men and woman worked at the many local mills. In general such were a happy, hard working people and laughter often filled the streets, as hundreds of workers made their way to the factory at the sound of the mill horn. The Glenbank bell was the signal for many to return to work from lunch. Our area had their share of churches. Mother and Grandparents attended the Church of Ireland, but because my Father was a Presbyterian my Mother encouraged my sister and I to attend their services. Both my sister and I were taught the junior and senior catechism. In the Sunday School we also had to memorise verses from the Bible and the hymn book. "From a child thou hast known the holy scriptures." 2 Tim 3.15. What a privilege. Yet, like the saintly McCheyne penned in one of his many excellent hymns,
"I oft read with pleasure to soothe or engage, Isaiah’s wild measure or John’s simple page; Yet e’en when they pictured the blood-sprinkled tree Jehovah Tsidkenu meant nothing to me."
I was familiar with the word "converted" and heard of those who said they were "saved", but never really understood their meaning. My mind was blinded by the God of this world. 2 Cor. 4.4. Like many I was convinced that a good life would get you to heaven. A number of streets away from our house the local flute band called ‘The Wee Ritchie’ practised in a building in a field the locals called ‘The Brickyard.’ At the back of this building the older boys and men gambled with cards. Directly beside the building, I was just one of dozens of young boys, who played football for hours each day. Many a great goal was scored between our jackets used as goal posts. This building that some called ‘The Band Hut’ was also used several nights a week for Children’s Meetings and Gospel preaching. These meetings were conducted by men we called ‘The Brethren.’ I was not a frequent attender at the Children’s Meetings. Really why should I? I attended a proper church and not a hut in a field. The clear Gospel was also preached in the open air on our street on many occasions. Yet, I remained uninterested in the message. I remember an occasion when shopping with my Mother at the Coop on York Street. Standing at a window on the top floor and looking across the street at old buildings damaged during the blitz. Written on one wall were five words. "Ye must be born again". I had no idea what such words really meant.
At the age of 14, I began work at a large foundry. Soon I was going to different places with work chums and church was not on our agenda. However my home upbringing and the general teaching of the Word of God restrained me from immorality and other practices. Looking back now, I appreciate those who taught me in Sunday School. Salvation may not have been presented clear at times but they had taught me to fear God.
A work colleague whose parents attended the Gospel Hall and who had recently been saved himself invited me to attend a Gospel Meeting in a tent pitched in downtown Belfast. Mr. Frank Knox was the preacher. I was always suspicious of such gatherings and thought such people were really fanatics. It was also a Thursday night and again I thought that strange. Surely, Sunday was the time for such gatherings. I promised him I would attend a meeting if he did not tell the rest of the boys we worked with in the shop. Earlier that evening as we were both working on the mid night shift, I had joked with my friend when I watched him give thanks for his food. This certainly was taking things much too far. To be sitting beside my lathe to a few cheese sandwiches and hear him give thanks for such.
Such thanksgiving was only for Christmas dinner or perhaps a wedding reception. I commented on such and laughed. He responded by saying, "You will laugh your way into hell, but never laugh your way out." I never heard a rebuke like that before. Death was very real to me and God used this pointed statement to make me think and ponder. I was completely unsure of where I would go after death. One thing I knew there was no coming back later to atone for wrong, or have a second chance. The next two hours were spent in thoughts concerning where I would go after dying. In my mind I hoped there was no such place as hell. Yet, I hoped for heaven.
The Bible teaches that there are two places that the soul goes after dying. Heaven John 14.1-6 or Hell Luke 16. 19-31,1 had to admit that such was true. For nearly three years now I had not attended church, but surely I was not bad enough for hell. Yet, within me a great struggle was going on and uncertainty really got a hold of me. This was much too important a thing to play with and take lightly. Finally, I was persuaded I was bad enough for God to put me in Hell. Yes, I thought, I will go to this meeting. At the tent I was really impressed with the simplicity of the entire meeting. I never heard anyone ever pray like I heard > Mr. Knox pray that evening. His preaching was also pointed and clear. During his preaching that evening, he quoted the words of the Lord Jesus while He was on the cross. "My God my God, why hast Thou forsaken me"? At that moment I knew why. He suffered to save me from hell (1 Pet. 3.18) If you had asked me later, if I was saved? My answer may have been I am not sure, but this I know, I will never be in hell because The Lord Jesus suffered for my sins on the cross. I certainly was saved, but lacked the knowledge of how to express it. My whole life changed that evening and so did my ambitions and interests. The Bible became a living book and I could not read enough from it. One year later I was baptised in the Matchett Street Gospel Hall and later added to the fellowship.
In the year 1963 I immigrated to Canada and was happy to join with likeminded believers in Toronto, Ontario. In the year 1967 I married Kathleen Blair from the assembly in Sarnia. The Lord led us into full time service in 1977 and the following year with our four children we arrived in St. Lucia in the West Indies. We enjoyed the commendation of both the Mimico and Sarnia assemblies. Since my conversion I always tried to help other brethren in Gospel work. God used the words of our Lord Jesus Christ and they spoke to me forcefully. "I must work the works of Him that sent me while it is day; the night cometh, when no man can work," John 9.4.
There is a time for each of us to serve in things that have eternal value. Over the last fifteen years we have sought to preach the Gospel in both St. Lucia and Canada.
Kathleen’s homecall was on the 12th May 1991. Our family lost not only a mother and wife, but a valued spiritual companion. Yet, by the grace of God we carry on, seeing His hand with us daily.
- To Gather in the Name of the Saviour
- There with His Presence blest,
- With what wonder we view the emblems,
- And obey His last request.
- Low at His feet we would worship
- And ponder on matchless grace,
- Which pitied our ruined condition
- And caused Him to die in our place.
- As we follow Him into the garden,
- To Heaven He lifts His eyes
- And pours out His soul to the Father,
- "Not my will, but Thine" He cries.
- What meant this load to the Saviour?
- Tis something we cannot share;
- A spotless, and sinless Saviour,
- God’s awful wrath to bear.
- He did not shrink from suffering,
- A worthless soul to gain,
- The thought of sin to the Sinless One,
- Caused Him such grief and pain.
- Then taken by cruel soldiers,
- Into Pilate’s judgement hall,
- Subjected to cruel mockings,
- He who was Lord of all.
- Though unworthy of death or judgement,
- They nailed Him to a tree,
- ‘Tis there we gaze in wonder
- And amazing love can see.
- The wonder of all the ages,
- The praise for eternity long,
- "Unto Him who loved and saved us,"
- Is the everlasting song.
- We view the bread on the table
- And a cup of outpoured wine;
- We bow our heads and worship,
- As we muse on love divine.
- Lord Jesus our only Saviour,
- God’s wellbeloved Son,
- In Thine own Name we gather,
- ‘Til travelling days are done.
- Then yonder in heavenly glory,
- When faith gives place to sight,
- In the same blessed Name of Jesus,
- We’ll dwell in mansions bright.
- —M. D. Faulkner