THE PROPHECY OF AMOS
by E. R Bower
THE MINISTRY OF THE RISEN LORD
by J. B. Hewitt
STUDIES IN THE LIFE OF AARON
by T. Meekin
by A. D. Thropay
by E. W. Rogers
PERILOUS TIMES OF THE LAST DAYS
by W. J. M’Clure
THE TRINITY IN THE OLD TESTAMENT
by D. M. Clark
ELECTION AND THE GOSPEL
by H. T. Kimber
MY CONVERSION AND CALL
by T. Bentley
THE PROPHECY OF AMOS
by E. R. BOWER, Worcester
THE FIRST DISCOURSE. (Chap. 3. 1-15;)
In these four discourses that follow Amos proceeds to enlarge upon what he has said in chap. 2. 4-16. The word of God here is against Israel as a whole; against the family that He had redeemed out of Egypt. Paul, writing to the church at Rome said (Rom. 8. 13;) "If God be for us, who can be against us?" These are cheering words, but what if God should ever be against us, as with Israel here? One family is in the mind of God, but that family no longer remembered (or, it was convenient for them to forget) their redemption on the day when Jehovah Himself "passed over" the door and held the destroyer at bay (Ex. 12. 23). The covenant relationship of Israel appeared to be just as much in tatters as was their relationship with the nations about them "You have I known of all the families of the earth: THEREFORE I will visit upon you all your iniquities." (v. 2). Again, God directs the attention of Israel to their unique relationship with Him. Amos was not the first of God’s men to reveal the nature of His love for them and, indeed, he would not be the last. Whether in a father-son, or husband-wife relationship the love of God is not in doubt; it has not changed, and will not change. From a purely human standpoint, the wayward son could expect nothing but to be cast off, likewise the wayward wife could expect nothing but a bill of divorcement… They could expect nothing but the penalty of the Law (Deut. 22. 13-30; 24. 1-5;). Our Lord once said, ". . .whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery, and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced commiteth adultery." (Matt. 5. 31-32; 13. 3-12;) Not so with our God. Discipline, yes! A day will come when the love of God will win through to the heart of Israel, and she will be cleansed by confession and repentance. Unfortunately at this time, the relationship was not a happy one for "can two walk together, except they be agreed?" In all their relationship, from Abraham on, God made known to His chosen people, all His ways, His intentions, His counsels and His purposes. Israel was the true confidante of God ? ‘To whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the Law, and the service of God, and the promises: whose are the fathers and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, Who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen." (Rom. 9. 4-5;). As for Israel, so for the Church.
Israel was now in the position of a disobedient son, a son, who had once borne witness to the covenant relationship (Ex. 24;) and when they had entered the Land Moses had set before them in plain words the penalties of disobedience and broken promises. (Deut. 28. 15-68)
"AM I SPEAKING TO YOU IN VAIN?" (vv. 1-6;) Here are seven questions that point to the fact that Israel "My Son" had blatantly defied their Father, God and refused to walk in unity with Him. His warnings were ignored" Jehovah will roar" (1.2;) but will He roar without a reason? Evil does not come from God. (v. 6;) "Evil which is sin the Lord hath not done; evil which is punishment for evil, the Lord bringeth." (Augustine).
I AM WARNING YOU. (vv. 7-8) Adonai Jehovah is the title used by God when He speaks of Himself to the Philistines (1. 8;) and used now to Israel. He who roared was Jehovah ? the I AM ? the covenant God. He is the Lord, the Creator and Ruler of the heavens and earth. Israel could not complain that they had not been warned for as we have seen God did nothing unless He made His purposes known in advance, and through His servants even as Moses, Abraham and many others had done and would do. God had not withheld the "secret things" that belonged to Him. Unfortunately the voices of the prophets had been silenced ? not by God ? but by recalcitrant Israel who did not wish to know (2. 12;). Nevertheless the prophets were not silent, and would not be silenced for the lion would roar (v. 8;) The figure of the roaring lion is maintained (1. 2; 3. 4;) and it was no empty threat but that at which men trembled. The prophets who heard this awful voice were under compulsion to hasten the passing on of its message. In not doing so they would fail in their duty ? a lesson for today! Cf. Jonah. ‘The Lord hath spoken." Cf. v. 1. "I WILL TELL OF YOUR NAUGHTINESS! (vv. 9-15;). Philistia ( the Greek text reads "Assyria") the thorn in the side; Egypt from whence Israel had been taken; were called to witness Israel’s perfidy. They did not know what it was to be straightforward; they were living lies. Their palaces were maintained by the fruits of their perfidy, their robbery and violence. For this, an adversary (a strengthener) would come up against and plunder the Land. This was fulfilled (2 Kings 17. 3-6;). That which was left would be of little value (v. 12;). In v. 13 God sees His people as sons of Jacob and not of Israel. Those who sought to hide themselves in Samaria or in Damascus would not escape the judgments. Note the plural ‘altars’ (v. 14) of Bethel (house of God) where Jacob had set up his altar. (Gen. 28;). It was also the place of Jacob’s vow. (Cf. 1 Kin. 13.2; 2 Kin. 23.15-16;) No refuge would be found at these altars. It has been suggested that vv. 13-15 convey a warning of the earthquake of chap. 1.1. The words are significant ? " The horns of THE ALTAR shall fall to the ground" and houses in town and country would be smitten or struck.
The Ministry of the Risen Lord
by The Late J. B. Hewitt, Chesterfield
9 ? A MINISTRY OF RECOVERY AND RENEWAL John 21
The apostle John contributes the supreme proofs that witness to Christ’s Deity. Christ’s mediation is portrayed under the title "Son of God", accompanied by the sufficiency, superiority and sovereignty of His relationship and the rights they entail. John’s message supplies the widest aspect of a universal ministry. This gospel leaves the Lord with His disciples mediating, directing and controlling. This chapter seems to summarise all. The Life attracting v. 1-14; the Love appealing v. 15-17; and the Light assuring v. 18-25. Eight times "Lord" is mentioned. A fitting title "HE IS LORD".
(A) Lord of labour which He controls v. 1-8 Renewing His Ministry
This is the Lord’s seventh appearance in Resurrection. 7 is the number of spiritual perfection. The Lord is acting as "Head of the Church" and is a picture of how He governs His Church in His ascended glory to-day. What He continues to do.
(a) A Ministry of Revelation ? "He shewed Himself (v. 14). This unique company were in a crisis. The time is between Passover and Pentecost. The Lord deals with them as a group, reassuring them, eventually controlling them (v. 2). What variety here. The two foremost in failure, the doubter and the denier, are recovered to privilege. The undesignated have a place and the undistinguished a part in this closing unveiling. Do not assume that Peter and the others did wrong in going a "fishing." They failed, as we always do without the Lord.
(b) A Ministry of Prevention (v. 3) "that night ? nothing". The Lord often disciplines and educates by failure. Have you ever toiled fruitlessly? Yes, even at fishing, the job Peter thought he could do best! It was not lack of faith or experience on his part. There was design in the divine discipline.
(c) A Ministry of Consolation (v. 4) "In the morning Jesus stood on the shore". They were discouraged, but Jesus was at hand to help. When they obey their Master’s command, how successful they become (v. 6, 11). It is only obedience to the Head of the Church that can make us effective fishers of men (Mark 1 17).
(d) A Ministry of Compassion (v. 5) The Lord is often close by when we are unaware of His presence (v. 4; Luke 24.16). He does care when things go wrong for us. He is interested in our welfare and loves to hear how we fare down here. Tell Him all your troubles as well as your triumphs.
(e) A Ministry of Direction (v. 6) RIGHT is not contrasted with WRONG, but with LEFT. How readily they obeyed, no why’s or wherefore’s and blessing resulted (Psa. 119. 60). There is nothing mystical in the number of fish caught (v. 11). This scene may prefigure the review of service at the Judgement Seat of Christ.
(B) Lord of Light which He generates v. 9-14 He Resumes His Activity
(f) A Ministry of Preparation (v. 9,10). Nothing is so quick as love "it is the Lord". Peter’s zeal and God given strength are impressive (v. 7, 11). What a welcome they had and how sweet their fellowship at breakfast. A fire they never kindled, fish they never caught, bread provided, all by the Master Himself. He presided over this gathering which brought satisfaction to each heart. His general care for His saints inspire us to serve Him.
(C) Lord of Love which He deserves v. 15-17 He Reveals His Ability
"Fire of coals" (v. 9) occurs here and in 18. 18. Peter would be reminded of his failure. The Lord restores and commissions Peter. He humbles Simon by reminding him of his confident boast to love his Master more than the others (Matt. 26. 33). Peter speaks modestly of himself in what follows. The Lord uses two words for "love". He begins by using "agapan" – commonly used of Divine love. Peter only lays claim to lesser love "phileon", human love. "You know that I am your friend" (v. 15). On the third occasion our Lord descends to Peter’s own level. Peter was deeply hurt, only His Lord’s "friend" now. As Simon lost self-confidence, the Lord increased His commission. It is far more difficult to minister to the sheep than to the lambs. The Apostle remembered that when he wrote, "the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls" (1 Pet. 2. 25).
(D) Lord of Life which He determines v. 18-22 He reassures His Authority
The Lord describes Peter’s past and discloses his future (v. 18). He would die violently but John naturally, which, tradition affirms they did. We can "glorify God" by death as well as by life, and this martyrs have done (v. 14). John’s lot was not Peter’s responsibility; that is in the hands of the Sovereign Head of the Church (v. 23). Dr. Graham Scroggie writes, "The Church needs four things (1) Trust (v. 1-14); (2) Love (v. 15-17); True love is always sacrificial. (3) Courage (v. 18,19) and (4) Patience (v. 20-23). It is sometimes more difficult to wait than to work, but it is not an inferior grace.
STUDIES IN THE LIFE OF AARON
by T. Meekin (Glengormley)
3. THE SAINT AND HIS SHAME
For this final study please read Ex. 32. 1-8, 19-29, 35.
It is important to remember that none of God’s servants completed their lives without ever having sinned. While the record given may not highlight their failures we can be sure that all could say,". . . in me (that is in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing:" Rom. 7. 18. There was only One who came to the end of His days on earth of whom it could be said in all truth "this Man has done nothing amiss." Apart from the faultless testimony of our blessed Lord all others were shamed at some time by the scourge of sin.
It is true that the failures of some of the saints of days of old are better known than others and perhaps we are guilty at times of highlighting such events to a point where much of the excellence of the rest of their life is lost. It had never been the mind of God however that failure should be ignored, and the Holy Spirit’s exercise in recording such is ample proof of this. Therefore while we have considered quite largely the greatness of Aaron in past articles it will be also to profit, I trust, to remember one of the darkest days in the great man’s history that he must have bitterly regretted to the end of his life.
Ex. 32 is indeed one of the saddest days in Israel’s chequered history and that Aaron should have a part in it, and a prominent one at that, grieves us at heart. We would have wished him on the mountain with Moses and Joshua, and not in the camp with the rebellious people but we are about to see presented one of the truths that Paul preached to the Corinthians, ie "there must also be heresies (crises) among you that they which are approved may be made manifest." 1 Cor. 11. 19.
The crisis in Ex. 32 takes place in the prolonged absence of the man who had scaled the mount. While he was with them all was well but as he delays his return the hearts of the people are tested. We may doubt whether Aaron was in fact in the same mind totally as the people who clamoured for the idol but he nevertheless stands condemned by his own actions and cannot avoid the blame for his involvement.
There are several pointers in the chapter to the cause of eventual shame and failure to which we would do well to take heed and it may be that our noting of them will be something of a preservative lest our feet slip on similar paths.
i). MISINTERPRETATION OF THE WISDOM OF GOD.
"As for this Moses, we know not what is become of him". Is it not strange that people who had waited for 400 years for a deliverer and 40 years while God trained him should think it unreasonably long to wait forty days while he is in the mount of God? How could the people ever doubt God, you may ask, after an experience like the Red Sea crossing? Yet there are crises in all our lives when the great lessons of the past are all too easily forgotten, and His abundant provisions in past days overlooked when on some occasion the answer to prayer seems slow in coming. Another has said "God’s DELAYS are not DENIALS!"
Delay has always been a great tester to the saints and many and varied have been the reactions to such tests in scripture, eg
- a. In the boat it caused SUSPICION -Mk. 4 "carest thou not that we perish?"
- b. In the home it caused SADNESS -John 11 "if thou hads’t been here my brother had not died".
- c. In the waiting time it caused SLEEP -Mat. 25 "While the bridegroom tarried they all slumbered and slept."
- d. In the world it causes SCOFFING -"Where is the promise of His coming?" 2. Pet. 3.
Whatever be the true thought behind the oft studied passage in 1 John 2. the obvious fact is there for all to see -Shame and the thought of His coming should not be seen in the same setting, ie. "That we may not be ashamed before Him at His coming". Let us not therefore make the mistake that Aaron made and not reckon with the imminent return of the absent man. Surely if Aaron had heard Moses’ footsteps on the mountain he would not have put his hand to the "fashioning" of the calf of Gold. At times we SING but do we really HEAR-
"I can almost hear His footfall on the threshold of the door, And my heart, my heart is longing to be with Him evermore."
ii). MISUSE OF WEALTH.
This was the second source of shame in the passage and how it must afterwards have grieved the heart of Aaron. The day would come when Israel would bring of their gold for the building of the tabernacle, and even as the call goes out to the nation Aaron would surely relive the day when he said "break of your golden ear-rings." The lesson is simple in any language and in any day – What is given to idolatry is lost to God.
Who amongst us will not have been impressed by the philosophy and conviction of Jim Elliott of Equador fame who said "He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose?" What was given to the formation of the golden calf WAS lost! See how well Paul comes through the test-
"what things were gain to me those I counted loss for Christ . ." Is this our assessment of earthly things? there are two mistakes that are commonly made amongst us on the ground of economy.-
- Judas said "why is this waste___?" he would keep OFF the altar that which the Lord LOVED
- Saul thought it a waste to destroy all the flocks of Agag-1 Sam. 15. He would put ON the altar that which God HATED.
Do we not at times keep back that which God would demand from our lives and insist rather on using what God neither needs nor wants in His work – all on the grounds of economy. May we have help to sing and really mean it-
"Take my silver and my gold, not a mite would I withhold."
iii). MISCONDUCT BEFORE THE WORLD.
"Aaron made them naked before their enemies." It is still true that evil communications corrupt good manners and if the heart is not right with God in relation to the absent Lord it will not be long till the life is wrong also. It is this truth which the Lord Himself emphasises in Luke 12. When He speaks of the importance of having "their loins girded and their lights burning. . . Like unto men that wait for their Lord." For the servant who feels that "my Lord delayeth His coming" begins to beat the others and to eat, drink, etc.
Idolatry and sin have always stripped men but the gospel and salvation have clothed them. The man of Gadara was all the more noticeable for being "clothed and in his right mind". Men could not see into his mind whether it was now cured but the clothes he wore gave testimony to a change within. Immodesty and immorality go hand in hand and idolatry is a bosom companion to them both. God clothed Aaron to stand before a golden altar and every time Aaron stood there he likely remembered the day he had stripped men to dance before a golden calf.
Immodest dress in our day as in any other is incompatible with holiness of life. It may be custom, style or fashion of the world to be scantily dressed but such behaviour does not become those who "wait His appearing".
iv). MISHANDLING OF THE WORK.
This is the fourth and final ground of shame we shall presently consider, though others may be found upon a perusal of the chapter. Here was a job in which Aaron could take no pleasure or pride. What a contrast to the balmy days of Bezaleel when objects divinely planned and with divine help skillfully executed, were displayed to "the praise of His glory". Every sculptured work telling of Christ, all made in answer to the Pattern shown in the Mount! Not so the golden calf. Its only pattern was that of Egypt’s idols.
God has ever in mind that His workmen should be "Workmen that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth", as Paul reminded Timothy, but Aaron cannot rise to this standard. His energy and effort have been put into something that is all for the fire. Are we not reminded of the ministry of 1 Cor. 3 in all of this? This calf looked good enough to stand the test of time. It seemed as though it would last the desert journey but its end is near and it is ground into powder and burned in the grinding. Finally it is strewn on the water and the children of Israel are made to drink of it. The fire shall indeed try every man’s work of what sort it is and Aaron’s work will not stand.
"What did this people unto thee?" God asks through Moses. As to Adam He said "what is this that thou hast done?" as to Elijah "what doest thou here?" Thus will the labours of our hands be examined, the places we have occupied, the motives that led us to act. May we have confidence in all that we are doing remembering the words to the seven churches "I know thy works".
Surely Marah’s waters were not so bitter as this draught. They would never forget this taste, but sadly they would not be so easily cured of the malady that produced it?their return to idolatry. It is said that to this day Israel have a saying to this effect, when any terrible catastrophe or judgement comes upon them, that there is always an ounce of the ashes of the golden calf in it.
Thus may we learn from the failure of one so saintly, the high price that must of necessity be paid for mistakes especially in the execution of holy matters for it is not a light thing to assume leadership in the service of God.
"For what shall heal when holy service banes or who may lead o’er desert plains Thy loved yet sinful people wandering wide, If Aaron’s hands unshrinking mould An idol form of earthly gold."
Paper No. 3 2. THE WORK OF CHRIST THE SON. 1.7-12
?In whom: that is the beloved, the Lord Jesus Christ.
?we have: literally, "we are having."
?redemption: Note the article, "the redemption." (apolutrosis) a releasing effected by the payment of a ransom; deliverance or liberation procured by the payment of a ransom.
?through: (dia) by means of
?His blood: The blood of Christ is the price of the ransom (1 Peter 1.18,19). Through the power of His blood, we are being set free from the guilt and power of sin now. Through His blood, we will be liberated from the presence and contaminating influence of sin when the Lord comes and takes us from this world giving us bodies like unto His glorious body.
?the forgiveness: (aphegsis) " a release, the letting them go as if they had not been committed, thus forgiveness, a remission of their penalty." (Thayer) "The letting go of sin, its dismissal and pardon." (Expositors)?Forgiveness does not come cheap. It cost the death of the Lord Jesus, God manifest in flesh. God’s forgiveness is free to the receiver, however. Unlike human forgiveness, God’s is final. He will never bring up the wrongs done that He has already forgiven. Hebrews 8.12 says, "For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more."
?of sins: (paraptoma) literally "a fall beside something," "a falling aside," "falling by the way." (Cp. Kittel, FF Bruce). "It denotes a trespass, a deviation from uprightness and truth." (W. E. Vine) It is used of Adam’s sin (Romans 5.15,17). "It. refers directly to the disruption of man’s relationship with God through his fault." (Kittel) Hence, "trespasses, or offences."?When man sinned, he fell from the position of harmony, peace, and fellowship with God that God had originally intended. Anything that disrupts this relationship with God or maintains that disruption is sin. (Note: another word translated sin more commonly is "hamartia," a missing the mark. The definition for this word is given in 1 John 3.4 "sin is lawlessness" (ie, doing what I want to do). When a person acts independently of God, this is sin). God’s forgiveness covers all sin, regardless of the type.
?according to: (kata) in accord with; being measured and characterized by; hence, in exact proportion to
?the riches: (ploutos) wealth; fullness, mighty measure ?of his grace: as v.2,6 God’s grace is as infinite as Himself.
?Wherein: (hes) which
?He abounded: (periseuo) "To exceed a fixed number or measure; to be over and above a certain number or measure; to exist or be at hand in abundance," Thayer."To exist in superfluity," Wuest. In other words, it means to have far more than enough.
?toward (eis) us in all: (pase) every, each
?wisdom: (sophia) It included the ideas of producing the best end result by using the best means while having insight into the true nature of a thing.
?and prudence: (phronesis) "The practical use of wisdom." (Expositors) "The right use and application of the mind." (Trench)
?Having made known: explanatory of verse 8?Wisdom and prudence were given to us to know God’s will and apply it.
?unto us the mystery: (musterion) A truth which cannot be known except by divine revelation. A secret hid in God until He reveals it.
?of His will: (thelema) God graciously executing His decision or desire
?according to: (kata) as v.7
?His good pleasure: (endokia) "a term of grace, expressing ‘good pleasure, ‘as kind intent, gracious will." (Expositors) Good will which gives happiness and satisfaction.
?which He purposed: (protithemi) to set before oneself and so determine. Used three times only in the New Testament. (1) of human purpose Romans 1.13, (2) of divine action Romans 3.25, and here.
?in Himself: This purpose originated in God’s own gracious Person.
?That in: (eis) with a view to; indicates "direction towards" showing the aim of His purpose; "unto,"
?the dispensation: (oikonomia) (1) Administration, management, or arrangement of a house or property?1 Timothy 1.4 and this epistle. (2) Office of administrator or steward 1 Corinthians 9.7.? Here, it refers to God’s management of history called. . .
?of the fulness: (pleroma) fulness, completeness
?of times: (kairos) times; refers to the various, successive ages of human history in which God deals with mankind in a particular manner. Some have divided these ages up into the following seven categories: the age of innocence, conscience, human government, promise, law, grace, the reign of Christ. The fulness or completeness of these times is when the succession of these ages of earth has come to a close.
?He might gather together in one: (anakephaliaoo) to head up, to sum up, to bring together various things under one head.
?all things in Christ both which are in the heaven, and which are on the earth even in Him: This is God’s grand purpose for His Son. Notice that it does not say things under the earth, referring to infernal beings. Although every knee will bow to Him and acknowledge His Lordship whether they are beings in heaven, earth, or hell (Philippians 2.9-11), not every being will be reconciled to Him. Only those angels who did not fall and those persons who are "in Christ" by the new birth and have their name written in the Book of Life. Revelation 21.27.
?In whom: referring to the Lord Jesus Christ
?also: (kai) in addition to what is stated in verses 8, 9, and 10
?we obtained an inheritance: (eklerothemen) This word can be understood in two ways. (1) We were made partakers of the inheritance. That is, the person who is saved is an heir of heaven and all that belongs to the Lord Jesus Christ. (2) We were made a heritage. That is, the true believers are the inheritance of the Lord Jesus Christ.
?being predestinated: (proorizo) ? from "pro," before, and "horizo," to declare, to mark out. Hence the word means to mark out beforehand; to declare beforehand.
?according to: (kata) in accord with; being measured and characterized by; hence, in exact proportion to
?the purpose: (prothesis) The word means to set something in front of a person. The word is translated "shewbread" in Hebrews 9.2. The word shewbread is literally translated, "the bread of setting before." Like a chart, God has already set before Him on display His eternal plans. We are on His chart. We are part of His plan.
?of Him who worketh: (energeo) To work in, to operate in; to communicate energy and efficiency. To actively put into operation.
?all things: (panta) all inclusive. God is actively put into operation, everything that occurs in His universes. Nothing takes Him by surprise. He is in full control of everything.
?after: (kata) according to
?the counsel: (boule) The word implies intelligence and deliberation behind the making of a resolution or decree. (Kittle) It is the purpose behind an action. What occurs in the kingdom of God is the result of God’s complete information. He sees the total picture. His thinking is complete on every subject and has always been so. He has always known which options are the best for His purposes. They are therefore absolutely correct and unchangeable. God’s actions "are not without reason, but for reasons, hidden it may be from us, yet proper to the Highest Mind and Most Perfect Moral Nature." (Expositors)
?of His own will: (thelema ? as v. 1) Putting His "counsel" or "resolution" into action, graciously, to fulfill His purpose. God is graciously executing His counsel and purpose by the elevation and exaltation of His Son. He wants the Lord Jesus to have the priority and preeminence in everything. Colossians 1.18-20 "that in all things He might have the preeminence. For it pleased the Father that in Him should all fulness dwell; And, having made peace through the blood of His cross, by Him to reconcile all things unto Himself; by Him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven."
?that: (eis) "with a view towards." This word indicates direction towards an object or a goal.
?we should be: indicating what God will ultimately do for every born again Christian. However, the context indicates that this verse refers primarily to the believing Jew (See verse 13).
?to the praise: (epainos) commendation and honour paid to another. Literally, it means to "celebrate or praise over" (someone)
?of His glory: (doxa) the outshining; brightness or splendour; The outward manifestation of God’s attributes. In this case, it is the bright, shining, splendour of His grace.
?who first trusted: (proelpikotas ? perfect active participle of proelpizo) to repose, hope, and have confidence in a person or thing beforehand. This phrase refers to pious Jews in Israel (like Simeon, Mary, Joseph, and the disciples) who cherished a hope beforehand of the coming of Christ. They accepted Him when He came. The perfect tense indicates that their faith has continuing results.
VITAL VERITIES (18)
by E. W. ROGERS
THE understanding of this doctrine of Holy Scripture would be facilitated if it were borne in mind that sanctification does not of itself necessarily effect any change in the thing or in the person sanctified. For example, under the law the seventh day was sanctified, but it was not thereby changed. The Lord Jesus sanctified Himself (John 17:19), but, of course, He was not thereby changed in any way. That which was put on the altar of the tabernacle was sanctified, but though its use was changed, its substance remained the same. Sanctification is the setting apart of a thing or a person for a specific purpose. Reference to the occurrences of the word in both the Old and the New Testaments will make this clear (see, for example, Matt. 6.9; 23.17; John 10.36; 1 Peter 3.15; and 1 Cor. 7.14).
Sanctification is not a synonym for sanctimoniousness. The scriptures know nothing of the latter but they contain many references to the former. God does not encourage sanctimoniousness in His saints for it emanates from the flesh alone.
Moreover, sanctification is not "sinless perfection."The Scriptures make it perfectly plain that, whereas the believer possesses the power within to enable him to overcome the flesh, the flesh in him ever "lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh," so that the believer "may not do the things he would," whether such things be good or bad (Gal. 5.17). This conflict continues throughout life.
Sometimes, Sanctification denotes the act of setting apart for holiness, and includes also full provision for following after it. True sanctification is always accompanied by holiness, and the Greek word is sometimes translated as ‘holiness.’
Sanctification sometimes denotes the position into which the believer is brought, or it may signify the responsibility which devolves upon him. The context of the passage in which the word occurs must determine the particular sense in which it is used by the Holy Spirit.
In 1 Peter 1: 2, the order of the steps is indicated. The saints were ‘elect according to the foreknowledge of God; then they were sanctified in the spirit’; with the view of their ‘obedience’ to the gospel, as the result of which ‘obedience’ the ‘blood of Jesus Christ’ was ‘sprinkled’ upon them, thus rendering them clean. That is to say, God the Father, in a past eternity, foreknew the man who should be saved, and in accordance with that foreknowledge elected him. Pursuant to this election, the Spirit of God set him on one side, as it were, from the mass of mankind with the view of his hearing and believing the gospel. Upon his obeying the gospel the merits of the blood of Jesus Christ were imputed to him.
Paul refers to the same three steps (2 Thess. 2: 13). "God chose us from the beginning unto salvation, in sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth … to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ."
Sanctification is thus an integral part of a process in which each Person of the Godhead is engaged, the grand result of which is the eternal blessing of the believer.
The ‘sanctification of the Spirit,’ therefore, is a moral prerequisite, from one point of view, for salvation of the believer.
It is also true that the Lord Jesus is the ‘Sanctifer.’ He and His people ‘are all of one (Father), for which cause He is not ashamed to call them brethren’ (Heb. 2: 11). His people were sanctified ‘by His blood’ which was shed outside the gate of Jerusalem (Heb. 13:12). The Lord Jesus died there because it was His design to set apart His people from the ‘Ichabod’ system of Judaism which God had abandoned. By that means the saints were separated from religious evil.
According to Paul’s statement to the Corinthians ‘Christ is made unto us wisdom from God, both righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption’ (1 Cor. 1: 30). ‘Righteousness’ has to do with the past :guilt is cancelled. ‘Sanctification’ has to do with the present: holiness is to be pursued. Redemption envisages the future: liberty will be enjoyed. Saints are ‘sanctified in Christ Jesus’ (see 1 Cor. 1: 2; Acts 20: 32; and Heb. 10: 14). Their standing is one of holiness because of Him (1 Cor. 1: 30), and they have been ‘washed, sanctified and justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and in the Spirit of our God’ (1 Cor. 6: 11). For that reason they are called ‘saints.’ To that position they were ‘elect’ or ‘called’ hence they are saints by ‘calling.’ That privileged position must take expression by their ‘perfecting holiness in the fear of God’ (2 Cor. 7: 1). Position must be accompanied by a corresponding condition: holiness in Christ must be evidenced by holiness in life!
Believers cannot, of course, perfect their position because it has already been made perfect (see Heb. 10: 14). Their position is one of deliverance from evil which has been judicially effected by the Lord Jesus. Believers must, however, perfect their deliverance from evil by practical separation therefrom and must ‘cleanse themselves from all defilement of the flesh and spirit.’
It is this which is spoken of in Romans 6: 19. Formerly, those addressed had been in the habit of yielding their members unto uncleanness and to iniquity; but in view of their knowledge of the work of the Spirit and their appreciation of the work of Christ they are expected not to continue living in bondage to sin, but to devote their energies in the pursuit of holiness.
Such practical sanctification is effected by diligent application of the word of God on the part of the saints (John 17: 17). The Lord Jesus sets Himself aside for their sake now, whilst He is in heaven, in order that they may be ‘sanctified in the truth,’ that is, by the action of the word of God upon them. They cleanse their way by ‘taking heed to that word.’ He who loved the assembly and ‘gave Himself for it’ now sanctifies it, having cleansed it, through the washing of the water in the word (Eph. 5: 26). By this means the Father keeps them from the evil that is in the world (John 17: 15). "Sanctification" may therefore signify holiness, for holiness is the setting apart from all evil.
The believer is to "abstain from every form of evil" (1 Thess. 5:22). There are numerous species of evil. One may appeal to the spirit; another to the soul; and another to the body. For this reason Paul prays that the ‘God of Peace’ Himself would ‘sanctify wholly’ the saints at Thessalonica and that their "spirit, and soul and body might be preserved entire, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." The ‘wicked person’ who assembled with the saints at Corinth had not kept his body under control: consequently he was made the subject of disciplinary action in order that the spirit might be saved in the day of Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 5: 5). The believer is in a happy condition when his whole being is sanctified.
Sanctification is mentioned in the Scriptures in three tenses. 1 Cor. 1: 2 relates to the past; Eph. 5: 26 relates to the present; and 1 Thess. 5:23 relates to the future. Sanctification may not only be viewed as a thing already perfected having been brought about "through faith that is in" Christ (Acts 26:18), but also as a process which is going on in the life of the believer, and also as that which will be brought to completion in the future.
A ‘sanctified vessel’ is a believer who purges himself from all iniquity (lawlessness) and such complete purgation can be attained only by constant watchfulness. The Lord Jesus never ceases to do His work on behalf of the saints, and the saints should never cease to work out their own salvation with fear and trembling. It is only those who are practically sanctified who are ‘fit for the Master’s use.’ (Series concluded).
PERILOUS TIMES OF THE LAST DAYS (5)
By The late W. J. M’Clure.
(These articles appeared in 1922 in the Believers’ Magazine, and are still up to date).
THE Christian man of business, who seeks to conduct his affairs in ‘ the fear of God," and to be governed and guided in his commercial life by the principles and precepts of the Book of God, must find his path increasingly difficult in these last days, to "live righteously and godly" (Tit. 2.12), and to maintain "a conscience void of offence toward God and toward men" (Acts 24.10). To all who study to "be approved unto God," and make it their aim to be well pleasing unto Him, He will assuredly "direct their paths" (Prov. 3.6). But those who follow the lead of the world, and adopt ways that are held in honour by those who know not God, will "pierce themselves with many sorrows" (I Tim. 6.10). Christian masters are urged to adopt ways toward those whom they employ, which are opposed to the will of God, and Christian servants are pressed on every hand to enter associations that exist for the purpose of compelling men to cease work at the call of a majority, and they are usually composed of those who have adopted popular Socialistic or Communist principles, with which those who own the Lordship of Christ, can have nothing in common. Again and again, when things have reached a crisis, and there seemed no way of escape for those whose desire is to do the will of God, we have seen the hand of God overturning all the plans of men, and causing something to happen, which has made a way of deliverance to those of His own who were exercised before Him, as to how to act in the hour of testing. And thus it may continue to be, until the Lord’s own are taken up to be with Himself. Then the coming Man, the Lawless One, who will bring the "boycott" to perfection (see Rev. xiii. 16,17), will let the world know how much of its boasted "fraternity" and "equality" he will recognise.
THE SPIRIT OF LAWLESSNESS? Which the great war accelerated?so rampant throughout the whole world, has found its way into the assemblies of the people of God. And the baneful effect of this is manifest in insubordination to godly rule, and lack of reverence toward those who are fitted to guide in the things of God. The mutual subjection enjoined in I Pet. v. 5 is in many, awanting. The demand for "majority" rule in the assembly of God, the readiness with which division can be effected, and coteries, under the leadership of strong-willed men, who must have their way, can be induced to leave the assembly and "set up" new meetings, tell too plainly how far the lawless spirit in the world has invaded the Church. These all clearly point to our being in "the last days." And to the watching saint, they surely tell, that the end is "at hand," and that before the darkest hour of Satan’s power, the "Bright and Morning Star" will appear, and the true people of God taken from the world.?(concluded).
THE TRINITY IN THE OLD TESTAMENT
by D. M. Clark (Stoney Creek)
The very first reference to God in the Scriptures is found in Genesis 1.1, "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth." The word for God in this verse is Elohim, which is the plural of Eloah, the Supreme. In the Hebrew such a word could be in the dual or the plural. The dual means only two but plural means more than two. Hence in the very beginning of the Word we have evidence that there are more than two persons in ihe Godhead. A second member of the Godhead us identified in the next verse and is revealed as "The Spirit of God", Then God speaks. Genesis 1:3, "And God said, Let there be light: and there was light." When God speaks it is His mind expressed in His Word, reminding us of the Lord Jesus Who is the "Word", thus revealing the Third Person of the Trinity.
This is affirmed to us in the New Testament?John 1.1-3, "In the beginning (this is a beginning without a beginning) was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by Him; and without Him was not anything made that was made." And in Col. 1.16, "For by Him were all things created, That are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by Him, and for Him." God the Son was the Creator.
Genesis 1.26, "And God said, Let us make man in our image after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth." Note the words "us" and "our" clearly showing that the Godhead consisted of more than one person. God was not conferring with angels to participate in creation, but was conferring with Himself, for He was about to make man in His image.
Genesis 11.7, "Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech." Once again the Godhead is conferring together and the expression "us" is used. God is a Trinity of persons.
Lord God & Lord God
Before entering upon the scriptures that again show three persons in the Trinity, it is interesting to note that the translators of the Old Testament (KJV) made a distinction between the Lord Jehovah, translated Lord God and Jehovah God translated Lord God. In the first example God is printed with a large capital letter followed by smaller capital letters, this consistently refers to God the Father. In the second example Lord is printed with the large capital letter for "L" followed by smaller capitals. Consistency is maintained as this will be seen to refer to God the Son. We have an example in the following scripture:Isaiah 48.16,17: "Come ye near unto me, hear ye this: I have not spoken in secret from the beginning; from the time that it was, there am I: and now the Lord God, and his Spirit, hath sent me. Thus saith the Lord, thy Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel’ I am the Lord thy God which leadeth thee by the way that thou shouldest go." We can readily identify the three Person ? Lord God is the Father ? His Spirit is the Holy Spirit ? "me" is the Son for the next verse uses the title "Redeemer" confirming that it is the Son.
To have a full testimony as to this statement the following verses will confirm what has been said. Isaiah 61.1,2: "The spirit of the Lord God is upon me: because the Lord (as Godhead) hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn:" Here we have the Spirit identified and the Father, and for "me" we can refer to Luke 4. 18,19: "The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He hath anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord." Here the Lord Jesus quotes this very scripture and applies it to Himself.
Isaiah 63.8-10: "For He said, Surely they are My people, children that will not lie: so He was their Saviour. In all their affliction He was afflicted, and the angel of his presence saved them: in His love and in His pity he redeemed them; and He bare them, and carried them all the days of old. But they rebelled, and vexed His
Holy Spirit: therefore He was turned to be their enemy, and He fought against them. "In verse 8 we have the God of Israel in His covenant relationship addressing His people. The angel of His presence, in verse 9, speaks of the Son, and again, in verse 9, the Holy spirit is brought before us.
As men we are individuals, this seems to create a difficulty in our understanding that God is One, yet He is a Trinity of Persons. Each fulfills His own Office but none acts independently of the Other. There is but one essence or one mind in the Trinity. As everyday example is the use of electricity. From a common outlet we can obtain, light, heat and power. Each can be defined as to its characteristics, and each performs a different function, and still has a common source, so it is with the persons of the Trinity.
"ELECTION AND THE GOSPEL"
by H. T. KIMBER
The impression given by some concerning this important and precious truth is that God "elects" some people to be saved, and He "elects" some people to be lost. Such may not be directly stated, but it is the logical effect of their teaching. The consequence of this misinterpretation concerning "election" is, in effect, to charge God with denying His own clear and unequivocal declarations in His Word, that the Gospel is for every human being without exception with a view to their salvation by faith. To refute the wrong and harmful teaching of "Limited Atonement", it is simply sufficient to state some of the many divine declaration in the Word of God, as follows:
"Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die? saith the Lord God: and not that he should return from his ways, and live?", Ezekiel 18.23.
"The LORD is nigh unto all them that call upon Him, to all that call upon Him in truth," ? Psalm 145. 18.
"Go ye therefore, and teach all nations. . .", Matthew 28. 19.
"Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.. he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned," Mark 16. 15-16.
"For the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them", Luke 9. 56.
"For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost", Luke 19. 56.
"And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name among all nations", Luke 24. 47.
"That ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through His name," John 20. 31.
"… that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish… that the world through Him might be saved. . .he that believeth on Him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed… ", John 3. 16-18.
"He that heareth My word, and believeth on Him that sent Me, hath everlasting life," John 5. 24.
"I am the door: by Me if any man enter in, he shall be saved," John 10. 9.
"For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the LORD our God shall call". "Whereunto He called you by our gospel". Acts 2. 39 with 2 Thess. 2. 14.
"God is no respecter of persons. But in every nation he that feareth Him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with Him", Acts 10. 34-35.
"Through His name whosoever believeth in Him shall receive remission of sins", Acts 10. 43.
"Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ, unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference," Romans 3. 22.
"For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon Him". "Whosoever believeth on Him shall not be ashamed," Romans 10. 12,11.
"And that He died for all, that they which live should henceforth live unto themselves …", 2 Corinthians 5. 15.
"But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe," Galatians 3. 22.
"The gospel.. .which was preached to every creature which is under heaven," Colossians 1. 23.
"God our Saviour .. . Who will have (desireth) all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time," 1 Tim. 2. 3-6.
"We trust in the living God, Who is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe", 1 Timothy 4. 10.
"For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men," Titus 2. 11.
"The Lord is… not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance", 2 Peter 3. 9.
"And He is the propitiation for our sins: and not for our’s only, but also for the sins of the whole world," 1 John 2. 2.
"I am Alpha and Omega.. .1 will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely". "Ho, everyone that thirsteth, Come ye to the waters. . . Come ye, buy and eat; Yea, come buy… wiuSout money and without price,". Revelation 21.6 with Isaiah 55. 1.
"And the Spirit and the bride say, come. And let him that heareth say, come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely," Revelation 22.17.
"Election" is indeed God’s sovereign act in wondrous grace. But it is His act for the blessing and ultimate glory of all the redeemed. It culminates in what lies beyond conversion, beyond salvation. Believers, are "elected" for all "the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him," 1 Corinthians 2. 9 with 1 Peter 1. 2, and Romans 8. 29.
"The God of all grace, Who hath called us unto His eternal glory by Christ Jesus", does not mock people by instructing us to preach the Gospel to the unsaved and burdened sinners, knowing all the time that some cannot be saved because they are not "elected"!
"Ye shall be witnesses unto Me. . .unto the uttermost part of the earth", Acts 1. 8.
"Through His name whosoever believeth in Him shall receive remission of sins," Acts 10. 43.
MY CONVERSION AND CALL (15)
by Thomas Bentley (Malaysia)
Trusting Christ as a boy of eleven, seven weeks before my twelfth birthday, brought to a realisation the deepest longing of my parents, that for me, early in life, the eternal matter would be settled. This joyous event brought to an end a considerable period of soul trouble that had prevailed for months. Gospel meetings by my late Father and the late Mr. Harold Glasgow were held in the month of June 1936, in a tent on the site now occupied by the Finaghy Hall. These were by no means the first such meetings it was my privilege to attend. My parents wisely exposed me to as much Gospel preaching as was possible, so I knew from an early age the way of God’s salvation. At about three years of age I was placed in the ante room used for the infants of the Sunday School in Ebenezer where my first teachers were Mr. Jim Foster and Mr. David Kirk. Often there were stirrings in my heart to know my sins forgiven and to be ready for the Coming of the Lord, a subject that always disturbed my youthful mind. Soul anxiety deepened as nightly I heard the Gospel at the tent meetings just mentioned. One night stands out clearly. Mr. Glasgow spoke on Exodus 12 with such power and conviction, that I was truly awakened. Sleepless nights ensued yet, I shared my concern with no one. Somehow I was shy when it came to this personal issue. The meetings ended on the last Lord’s Day of June without me trusting the Saviour, even though I was convicted and deeply concerned.
Nor was this the first series I had sat through when others trusted Christ, and I to my parents’ distress, remained unsaved. I recall the year before when Mr David Walker (Scotland) had a tremendous time of blessing in Ebenezer and many of my age group were gathered in. And again in the earlier part of 1936 Mr Walter Norris (Wales) had fruitful meetings in Ebenezer. Later at the Easter conference he would tell my Father that he had extended the meetings hoping that I would be saved.
The day after the Tent meetings finished I went on holiday. It was my first time to be away from home without the immediate care of my parents. Before I left, bidding my mother goodbye, I asked her what she would like me to bring her from Kilkeel. Naturally I was thinking of a present. Her reply quickly dimmed the very thought of a holiday as again the most important issue of my life rose in all its stark solemnity before me. My Mother’s words shattered me. Looking me straight in the eye and with all the affection of a devoted and praying mother, she said, "Nothing Son, other than you tell me you got saved." That arrow went directly to its target. The conviction was ever so real. Thank God, ere the week was out, I was able to send a letter in advance, telling my parents that I had trusted Christ.
It happened on July 1st, a Wednesday evening, around 10.30 p.m. Earlier that evening I had listened to a brother from Romania relate the story of his conversion in which he made repeated reference to Revelation 3:20. With deep concern I read and reread many verses familiar to me, but with no result. Then the verse that came before me with power was the one that had been frequently quoted earlier. In childlike simplicity I saw that all I had to do was to admit the Saviour Who was knocking and asking to come in. I saw clearly there was nothing for me to do, Christ had finished the work on the Cross, all that was asked of me was to believe. That very moment I was conscious of peace, the peace of God within. I realised that I had truly trusted the Saviour to the salvation of my soul. The next morning I was charged with doubt. Somehow the Devil said to me that no one heard what you said last night. Which was true in the human sense. But having known the value of the Word of God in such moments of concern, I quickly turned for my first reading on my first morning as a believer in Christ, to John 5:24 and assurance shone out of the verse and dispelled the clouds of doubt from then till now.
I obeyed the Lord in baptism on January 19th 1939 and later on the 29th I was received into the fellowship of the assembly gathered to the Lord’s name in Ebenezer, Oldpark Road, Belfast.
The call of God came to me when I was 20. It was distinct. It has to be distinct, may I add, else great difficulties that necessarily follow can never be overcome. Here again the Word of God wrought the work. I responded most decidedly to the words of Isaiah 44.8. I refer to this text as the passage of the Holy Scriptures God used to convey His Call. This consummated many years of exercise, backed I must say, by activity in every aspect of work that developed our interests and expressed our desires. Early application to the study of the Scriptures was nurtured by sound teaching and encouraged by those who took more than a passing godly concern in our lives.
A year later God give me direction. My prayerful and indeed practical interests gave me concern for Africa and Argentine in particular. Never did I consider the East in any fashion. But at Easter 1945 the Lord in a very real manner directed my interest to China. I remember bowing devotedly to this clear directive. From this very personal experience with God I felt from that time onward I could speak of China as being the ultimate sphere of my service.
I knew it would be wise and not really a sign of doubt, to seek God’s Face for confirmation of both Call and Course. That came in Ebenezer one evening when the late Mr David Walker spoke on the Wednesday of the week he had for ministry in May 1945. Before I went to that meeting, I did something which was my habit, I bowed at my bedside and asked God to bless the ministry to my soul and if He had a word of confirmation, to grant it that night. As he began, Mr. Walker voluntarily indicated he had been strangely led to change his earlier exercise for the meeting. He proceeded to minister on the occurrences of "GO" in Matthew’s Gospel. Pausing in the midst of his address Mr. Walker said, "I feel there is a young man in the audience and before he came to this meeting, he asked God for confirmation on his call." I almost fainted. Certainly my face flushed. He added, "young man, allow me to be the Lord’s Messenger in the Lord’s message, I say unto you, GO!" I bowed at that moment in utter gratitude to God.
Comforted by God’s kindness to my soul I moved for many days in the joy of having come to know the Lord’s will. It was a tremendous power in one’s life just to rest confidently and yet humbly in the knowledge that God had spoken. I had not expected, however, that though I had received a distinct call, and had been granted a directed course after which had come so manifestly a definite confirmation, that there would be decisive chatisement. Gradually I realised I was after all in God’s Hands in a way that somehow I had never known before. Then had not I yielded to Him spirit, soul and body? Could He not treat that offering as He will? It would take me years to discover this and to still believe the "gifts and the calling of God are without repentance".
Later reflecting on this decisive experience I penned words that appear on the flyleaf of this Magazine.
I knew that eventually I must share my exercise with my brethren in Ebenezer. The night I approached a brother in responsibility, I went verily conscious of singular leading, too detailed for this article. But months later I faced refusal and no acknowledgment whatsoever that anything I had said bore traces of being real. A year later the answer was the same. I was wholly cast upon God. Again and again I traced the way He had brought me, making sure I had not missed a step. Then God began to respond to my deeper concern. Where is the evidence of Divine love and am I a true son? It came. What came? you ask. The chastisement came and I was to learn that while I was interested in doing something for God, God was really more interested in doing something in me.
The years passed. Great changes affected my approach in Divine things and in my convictions for God and His truth. China closed long since having been taken over by Communistic hordes. But Malaya was open and in the month of February 1956 my brethren in Ebenezer heartily and without reservation commended me to the grace of God for the work to which He had called me.
My late wife and I with two of a family left Ulster in November 1956 for Malaya as it was then known and from that time until now I have been busily associated with the work of the Lord in this country which is now known as Malaysia.
One of my chiefest mentors, the late and great Mr. Fred Cundick, offered me consoling advice in days when I felt there was never going to be hope of realising the call of God. He said, "Tom, you will not be a year in the work of the Lord when you will realise your probation was too short." I proved the truth of this prophetic statement. I thank God my brethren were used of God to have me wait. I am glad I waited those eleven years. And yet, the probation was too short. God has been faithful and we continue to serve in this land feeling what we have enjoyed for a long time, the value and aptness of Paul’s words in Acts 28:31 (RV).
- Holy Flame consuming, burning,
- Cause Thy fire to burn the whole,
- Let me know that all is taken,
- Spirit, body and my soul.
- All I am in glad devotion,
- I would yield alone to Thee,
- Take it thence upon Thine altar,
- Take it Lord, entirely.
- Bind me Lord, upon that altar,
- Hold me there by cords of love,
- Then allow Thy fire of pleasure
- To consume me from above.
- Let no voice be heard to save me,
- Let the knife, the fire, descend,
- Till at last my all is offered,
- A sweet savour to ascend.
- Help me rise with priestly fervour,
- With the linen breeches on,
- Taking to the place appointed-
- Ashes – proving all is done.
- All consumed and nothing over,
- Only ashes, Lord for me,
- Thus I cannot ever rescue
- All that I have given Thee.
Lev. 6:8-13 T. Bentley.
LOOKING TO JESUS
The moment, we look away from Christ, our experience of His fullness ceases. There is no power to overcome.
Things become important for us which, seen in the light of eternity, are of no consequence. Then the deceiving power of sin bewitches us; and if, in our opinion, we are not properly honoured, or respected, if our own self-will, our desire to possess, our own presumed importance, does not receive satisfaction enough, then we slip into sin. We are easily hurt, become loveless, are filled with an earthly mind, or become fretful and anxious. We have lost our sense of proportion, because of not looking unto Christ. The centre of gravity has been changed, and is no longer in God, but in ourselves. We have lost our way, because we have lost sense of direction in Christ.
In this condition, only one thing can help us: Looking afresh to the Lord Jesus Christ. Repentance and humiliation before Him, and then, continuing stedfastly to keep our eyes upon Him. This purifies and restores us, and only this attitude of mind brings with it growth in grace, and blessed happy sanctification.