BEHOLD YOUR KING
by J. Flanigan
ASSEMBLY TESTIMONY BIBLE CLASS
by J. Riddle
THE KINGS OF JUDAH AND ISRAEL
by G. H. Hutchinson
PAPERS ON PROPHECY
by W. W. Fereday
by J. D. McColl
CHRISTIAN CONDUCT IN A MODERN WORLD
by W. A. Boyd
THE ROLE OF SISTERS IN THE ASSEMBLY
by J. Grant
MY CONVERSION AND CALL
by J. Martin
We have reached a point in the calendar which many thought the church would not see. The great hope of the rapture when all the saved will be caught up to be forever with the Lord, has been to the forefront of our thinking as we approached the end of the millennium. He promised He will come and His promise is sure. We remember the last promise He made, "Surely I come quickly." We cannot doubt His integrity. He who cannot sin and will not forget His own will come and this event cannot be long delayed.
Down through the ages, as difficulties have arisen and the dark days increased, the saints have been longing for His coming. We are no different. We all have our own personal problems which concern our family, our health, our employment and much more. We have collective difficulties as there are many not prepared to walk the path laid out for us in the Holy Scriptures. We lost good men whose advice and counsel were most helpful. We could almost feel like giving up!
Instead of giving up we are encouraged to look up! This the Psalmist did, 5.3, "My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O LORD; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up." When we cannot see things clearly and are wondering what to do, we can come to Him for His touch, Mk.8.25, "After that He put his hands again upon his eyes, and made him look up: and he was restored, and saw every man clearly." We can take to ourselves His encouraging words for a people in the future, Lk.21.28, "look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh." Said Paul, Rom.13.11, "And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed."
Dear saint, as you go through the trials of life, do not look around, do not look to men, do not even look to self, but look up. There is One at God’s right hand who can and will meet every need of His people and will soon come to remove them from every sorrowful situation. Rev.21.4, "And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away." Rev.22.3, "And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and His servants shall serve Him: And they shall see His face; and His name shall be in their foreheads. And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever."
The unequalled glory of this causes John’s cry to echo in our hearts, "Even, so come Lord Jesus."
Not only do we enter another year, but, somewhat to our amazement, we enter a new millennium At such a time we look back and "remember all the way which the Lord thy God led " Deut 8 2 We are bound to give thanks for His unfailing faithfulness who has preserved and blessed us another year But we also look forward and with anticipation, recall the words of Christ to disconsolate disciples, "I will come again " Jn 14 3 "Who shall declare His generation 9" was the sneering question asked concerning the silent Sufferer led from Pilate’s Judgment Hall to be crucified but after two millennia His Name is revered worldwide, "He is leading many sons unto glory" and there is a people on earth who love Him and long to see His blessed face We cannot and will not forget His love
We wish to express our sincere gratitude for all the help we have received from the Lord’s beloved people and acknowledge with a sense of indebtedness the service of prayer that many have maintained on our behalf We thank all who, with exercise, have submitted articles and those who continue so kindly to facilitate distribution The freewill offerings from individuals and assemblies move our hearts in gratitude to our faithful God and the letters of appreciation from dear saints in so many lands are a real encouragement
We are especially grateful to our Editor for his careful selection and screening of material, the Secretary and his wife for their hospitality and labour of love, so cheerfully undertaken and so efficiently carried out, the Accountant for his valued services and our beloved brother John Glenville for his faithfulness and help over many years Our brother’s association with the magazine has been a long and happy one and we pray the Lord’s richest blessing upon him and his dear wife
May we continue to be favoured with your prayerful and practical support and may the Lord graciously continue to bless His own through the publication of the magazine
BEHOLD YOUR KING
(Meditations in Matthew)
by Jim Flanigan (Belfast)
24. The Return to Judea (Ch.19)
Our Lord now leaves Galilee, commencing His final journey to Judea, to Jerusalem, and to Calvary. In great and customary grace He makes time for the multitudes that follow Him and He heals their sick.
It must be conceded that the passage that now follows has been the subject of much controversy among great and godly men, yet there are important and abiding principles concerning marriage which must be agreed by all. It is important to note that the Pharisees who now approach the Saviour with their question have no real interest in His answer, nor would they have any willingness to learn from Him. They came "tempting Him". Their motives were not pure. They were seeking to involve Him in an ongoing debate among the various Rabbinical schools. Among the Rabbis the differing opinions about the grounds for divorce were legion. On the one hand there were those who held strictly to the sanctity of family and the married state, and who spoke with reverence of "the four mothers", Sarah, Rebakah, Leah, and Rachel. With such, divorce was a last and regrettable resource. At the other extreme there were those who treated women with contempt and sanctioned divorce for the most trifling and ridiculous causes. It would not be profitable to enumerate these here.
Our Lord Jesus, as He had done before in what is known as "The Sermon on the Mount", directs the Pharisees, not to tradition or to Rabbinical opinion, or even to the Talmud, the accepted code of Jewish civil and canon law, but to the Scriptures. What an example He has given us when problems arise, that we should resort to the Word itself for answers to those problems. "Have ye not read?", He asks. The Creator who at the beginning made them male and female and instituted the marriage state, purposed that the union of man and wife should be an indissoluble unity which constituted them one flesh. It was never envisaged that this divine arrangement for mankind should be disrupted by divorce.
But the Pharisees now have another question. If this were so, was the teaching of Jesus in conflict with that of Moses who commanded a writing of divorcement when a wife was put away? Moses never commanded divorce. He tolerated it for the hardness of their hearts. He commanded the bill or letter of divorce for the safeguarding of the rights of a divorced wife, but from the beginning such a situation was never the divine intention. Whosoever therefore would put away his wife and marry another woman, committed adultery. In the parallel account in Mark 10:11-12, this is just how it reads but it is well known that in Matthew’s account there is included an exception clause which reads, "except it be for fornication." It is this clause which has occasioned difficulty for some.
The question must be asked, "Why does our Lord use the word "fornication", as distinct from the word "adultery"? There must surely be some reason for Him to distinguish the two words in one sentence. Our Lord never gives consent to divorce for adultery. Fornication is not the same thing. It is to be noted that this clause is in Matthew’s Gospel, the Gospel with a distinctly Jewish readership in view. Jewish culture and marriage custom had a betrothal period before marriage which was not known among Gentiles. Others have written fully on the subject, as Alfred Edersheim who writes, "A distinction is made between betrothal and marriage." But he continues, "From the moment of her betrothal a woman was treated as if she were actually married. The union could not be dissolved except by regular divorce." Any unchastity on the part of the betrothed woman during this period was fornication. It was not adultery, though treated as such. Our Lord uses the distinguishing word. Such fornication during the betrothal period, when it was discovered, dissolved the marriage arrangement by divorce. This was the only ground for divorce, fornication, not adultery.
All this raises the question in the minds of the disciples as to the wisdom of entering into such a binding marriage relationship at all, but the Lord points out that while at times there may be various and valid reasons for celibacy, such a celibate state was not for all men, and the union of man and wife was, after all, a divine institution.
It seems so fitting that immediately following all of this they bring little children to Him. Is it not one of the blessings and privileges of marriage and parenthood, to bring children into the world and then bring them to the Saviour. The disciples rebuke the parents but Jesus gently rebukes the disciples. He lays His hands on the little ones and blesses them and continues His journey southward to Jerusalem and to the cross.
Then there is the sad story of a very rich young man whose riches were unfortunately greater than his desire for Christ. An apparently upright and honourable life there had been, but if a man is not prepared to have Christ before all else, he lacks the real treasure. He went away sorrowful. The cost was too great. Mark says that Jesus, beholding him, loved him. Would the Master really have asked him to give up all? Or was this a divine testing of the reality of the man’s desire after spiritual treasures? He failed the test. It was easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a man to enter heaven either by means of his riches or with his riches.
Peter however, remarks to the Lord that he and his colleagues had not been so. They had forsaken all to follow Him. What recompense would they have? The Lord will occupy them with coming glory. There would be a day of regeneration for Israel. The Son of Man would sit on the throne of His glory, and in that day they would share His glory with Him. If they shared now in His rejection they would share then in His exaltation. They would be recompensed an hundredfold and it would be worth it all. The principle is still the same, as expounded by Paul in 2Tim.2.11-12.
—to be continued (D.V.)
Assembly Testimony Bible Class
by J. Riddle (Cheshunt)
(9) FAVOUR WITH THE KING, Part 1 Read Chapter 5
The three days of fasting are over, and Esther fulfils her promise, "So will I go in unto the king…", 4.16. There are three main paragraphs in this Chapter:
- Esther approaches the throne, v1-2;
- Ahasuerus accepts her invitations, v3-8;
- Haman anticipates victory, v9-14.
1) ESTHER APPROACHES THE THRONE, v1-2
These verses remind us of our approach to another throne. "Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need," Heb.4.16. Ahasuerus "sat upon his royal throne in the royal house." However splendid the scene, it cannot compare with "the throne of the Majesty in the heavens," Heb.8.1. Esther was not at all sure that the throne of Persia would prove to be a throne of grace," but we know that the "throne of the majesty in the heavens" is also a "throne of grace." Notice:
A) Her alarm before the king
- Esther was uncertain. What kind of reception would she receive? Would the golden sceptre be extended to her? She had explained the position to Mordecai in ch.4.11. There was tremendous risk involved: "So will I go into the king, which is not according to the law; and if I perish I perish." It is all far removed from Heb.4.16 and 10.19, "Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace… Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter the holiest…" This does not mean that we approach God irreverently or carelessly: we must never abandon "the fear of the Lord." But we are able to "come boldly." The expression suggests freedom of speech. We can take everything "to the Lord in prayer." We can come "in full assurance of faith." Esther certainly didn’t come that way!
Perhaps this is an opportunity to say that service for God often carries risk. The church at Jerusalem described Barnabus and Paul as "men that have hazarded (‘given up’ JND) their lives for the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ," Acts 15.26. Priscilla and Aquilla certainly exposed themselves to risk: "Who for my life laid down their own necks," Rom.16.4. (‘Who for my life staked — risked, hazarded — their own neck.’ JND. Notice the singular, ‘neck.’)
- Esther was uninvited. "Whosoever… shall come unto the king in the inner court, who is not called, there is one law of his to put him to death… / have not been called to come in unto the king in these thirty days," 4.11. There is no such restriction so far as we are concerned: "In everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God," Phil.4.6. The Lord Jesus taught, "Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you," Matt.7.7. We have an unqualified divine invitation in Heb. 10.22, "Let us draw near…" James says, "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God…", 1.5
- Esther was unenthusiastic. She was willing to approach the king, see 4.16, but you could hardly expect her to relish the task! How about us? Has prayer become a chore, a duty that must be performed? David didn’t think so: "My voice shalt Thou hear in the morning, O Lord; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto Thee, and will look up," Ps.5.3.
B) Her approach to the king
- Where did she come? She came to the throne of Persia, to the highest possible authority in the kingdom. She could not have gone higher. We have already noticed that we approach "the throne of the Majesty in the heavens."
- When did she come? "Now it came to pass on the third day…" You’ll have no difficulty with that! "He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures." We approach God on the basis of Christ’s death and resurrection. We "by Him do believe in God, that raised Him up from the dead, and gave Him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God," lPet.1.21.
- How did she come? "Esther put on her royal apparel…" We too have ‘royal apparel.’ Garments suitable for the presence of God. Once, like Joshua, Zech.3, we were "clothed in filthy garments." But listen to this: "Behold, I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee, and I will clothe thee with a change of raiment…" We have been "made the righteousness of.God in Him," 2Cor.5.21. God has "made us accepted in the Beloved," Eph.1.6.
We must make sure that those garments are always worn. Peter describes God’s people as a "holy priesthood" in offering "spiritual sacrifices" in the "spiritual house." He also uses the expression "royal priesthood" in connection with our testimony before others: "that ye should shew forth the praises of Him Who hath called you out of darkness into His marvellous light", lPet.2.1-10. It is in connection with the latter that we are told: "Put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof," Rom.13.14. But what about the future?
When I stand before the throne, Dressed in beauty not my own; When I see Thee as Thou art, Love Thee with unsinning heart: Then, Lord, shall I fully know, Not till then, how much I owe.
C) Her acceptance by the kin?
"She obtained favour in his sight: and the king held out to Esther the golden sceptre that was in his hand." We have already noticed that Esther had no right to enter the king’s presence, and therefore she was only accepted on the basis of grace. As John C. Whitcomb says: ‘The spiritual application to the gospel message is remarkable. Because of our sin, we cannot enter the presence of an infinitely holy God. But this same God, in His incomparable love and grace, has provided a plan whereby even the worst of sinners may enter His presence and touch, as it were, His golden scepter (American spelling).’ As Whitcomb points out, the picture is imperfect in view of the character of the ruler himself.
The sceptre displayed the right to rule: hence Esther’s acceptance was invested with the highest possible authority. Notice Heb.1.8.
Our acceptance is in Christ Himself. "But of Him are ye in Christ Jesus Who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption", 1Cor.1.30.
—to be continued (D.V.)
The Kings of Judah and Israel
by Graeme Hutchinson (Belfast)
Joash (Paper 10)
Stemming from Jehoshaphat’s compromise with Ahab, 2Chron.l8, and the marriage of his son (Jehoram) to Ahab’s daughter (Athaliah), 2Chron.21, the nation of Judah experienced much departure and sin. It was not until his great-grandson, Joash, was installed as king that the nation began to move in more spiritual paths. Scripture records:
(a) His Background
Sadly for Joash, he was not blessed with a godly home or a stable throne. 2Chron.22.10-12 records two factors, good and bad, that were to have a dramatic impact on his early life:
• Iniquity of a grandmother
Athaliah was all that her own mother, Jezebel, represented. Sinful, in that she evidently exerted a strong influence over her husband and later over her own son (Ahaziah), 2Chron.21.6; 22.3. Moreover, she was driven by Satan in that she attempted to destroy all the seed royal and so eradicate the line that led to Christ. For six years she ruled over the nation of Judah, usurping the divine order and promoting the idolatrous practices of Baal, 2Chron.24.7. As a grandmother to Joash, she was not the best example or model for a young king to follow! Surely this is a testimony, and trophy, to God’s sovereign will; bringing out from such a family a man who, for at least part of his life, served the Lord, 2Chron.24.2.
• Influence of a godly marriage
Thankfully the truth of Rom.5.20 was in operation, for God had, by grace, provided a godly couple that were to save the life of Joash. Whereas Jehoram and
Athaliah epitomise the godless marriage, Jehoshabeath’ and Jehoiada, vll, are representative of a marriage that was spiritual2. In the case of Jehoida, the priest, the record of Scripture would bear testimony to his:
- control (2Chron.23.1-10)
- courage (2Chron.23.14)
- conviction (2Chron.23.18-19; 24.12)
- commitment (2Chron.24.16)
For Jehoshabeath, it appears that when it came to rescuing Joash, she took the lead, 2Chron.22.11. The New Testament parallel would be Aquila and Priscilla who both took Apollos under their wings, Acts 18.24-26, and went to great lengths in their service for Paul and the church, Rom.16.3-4. Therefore, when it comes to the question of marriage both Old and New Testaments concur; we marry in the Lord, lCor.7.39; we marry one who has the same spiritual interests; we marry to improve our service for the Lord.
(b) His Birth
Given his kind aunt and generous uncle, Joash was spared almost certain death from his grandmother, Athaliah. 2Chron.22.12 records that he spent six years of his life dwelling in the house of God. From such a verse we can make two observations:
• The Preparation
Known only to God, Joash was to commence his reign over Judah at the tender age of seven, 2Chron.24.1. What better preparation was possible for one who would soon be charged with the responsibility of ruling the nation and keeping the law, Deut.17.19, than to be brought up in the temple! Perhaps it was here that he observed Jehoiada’s concern for the ‘House’, and this would have been instrumental in forming his own opinions and interests, 2Chron.24.4. If God, by His grace, places us in a home where His name is revered, we should be deeply thankful, it is a tremendous privilege and honour.
• The Picture
Whilst in the Old Testament we have Athaliah, Herod in the New Testament is surely the equivalent, Matt.2.16. Both individuals attempted to thwart God’s will, both were unsuccessful! Although, at this early stage of his life, Joash may remind us of the Lord Jesus, it is not long until sin and departure are in evidence, 2Chron.24.22. Thus, for every present-day Christian, the goal is to be more conformed to the image of the Lord. Sadly for many of us, we too are like Joash, only reaching such lofty standards in a sporadic fashion, never anything of permanence.
(c) His Behaviour
Once installed as king, the reign of Joash was to last for forty years, 2Chron.24.1. During this period we can summarise his activities in the following way:
- Jehoshabeath was daughter of Jehoram and sister of Ahaziah, vl 1, and thus she was an aunt to Joash.
- Notice from verse 12, where Jehoshabeath and Jehoida resided, the house of God. The inclusion of the word ‘them’ would stress the union and solidarity that existed within the marriage.
• Relationship with Jehoiada
Unquestionably, as 2 Chron 24 2, 14 would record, the influence that Jehoiada had over the king was for good During the lifetime of Jehoiada, Joash not only walked before the Lord in a pleasing way, no doubt embracing his marriage, v3, but the nation also enacted the necessary offerings on a continual basis. However, it was clearly Jehoiada that was the driving force Whilst spiritual companionship is a blessing, the test comes when we must stand alone Are we like Joash, liable to falter9 Timothy, despite all his personal inhibitions, lTim 4 12, was fully equipped to continue the work started by his spiritual father and mentor, Paul
• Restoration of the Temple
Following a lengthy period of idolatry, the house of the Lord was in need of repair, 2Chron 24 4,7 After some delay, 2Kgs 12 6, Joash went about raising sufficient money for the rebuilding exercise Initially he ordered the priests and Levites to go throughout the land and collect the temple taxes required by the Law of Moses, Ex 30 12-16 Once this approach had proved fruitless, the king erected a chest, 2Chron 24 8, (or was it Jehoiada9 2Kgs 12 9), and the people had to bring their taxes to the temple The result was that the people gave in ‘abundance’, vll, and the restoration was completed, vl4 In our day, just as in Joash’s, there is a real need for believers who are able to discern the need within the assembly and direct the work (and workers) so that the need is met The application can, of course, be taken literally as well as spiritually1
• Reaction to Jehoiada’s Death
‘Joash seemingly was as easily influenced to do evil after the priest’s death as he was to do good before’ (Merrill, Bible Knowledge Commentary, 1986, p 637) Initially the problems stemmed from his tendency to listen to man rather than God, 2Chron 24 17, and this led again to the introduction of idolatry Whilst the son of Jehoiada, Zechanah, and hence Joash’s own cousin was prepared to speak out against this depravity, he was stoned to death under the instructions of the king in the temple court, v21 The final end of Joash was when he went out to war against a ‘small company’ of Syrians, the nation was defeated, v24, and he was assassinated3, v25 Thus, we have presented the importance of developing spiritual backbones’ Having the right principles, from Scripture, and sticking by them, irrespective of who dies and what contrary advice is offered
(d) His Burial
2Chron 24 25 records that when it came to the question of his burial, Joash had no portion with the kings that had served before him Sad to think that despite a privileged upbringing and a promising start, he ended his life under such depressing circumstances
See paper 1 for details of Bibliography/Figures
—to be continued (D V)
3 Zabad and Jehozabad, the two men who killed Joash were from Ammon and Moab respectively, 2Chron 24 26 Therefore whilst from enemy nations these two men sought to amend the unjust, and sinful treatment that Zechanah suffered at the hands of Joash, v25
PAPERS ON PROPHECY
by The Late W. W. Fereday
(written in 1897/98) VOLUME 2
12(d)—Christ’s Millennial Reign
5. We will now consider briefly what God will do in that day for the CREATION IN GENERAL.
Man, by his sin, has not only brought ruin on himself, but has marred his home, and dragged down all the creatures dependent upon him. Thorns and thistles are marks of man’s sin, much more the groans of the brute creation, Gen.3.18. Man, unlike angels, was constituted by God the centre of a system of things. The whole of this lower creation either suffers or rejoices with its head. This is its time of suffering. "We know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now," Rom.8.22. We who believe groan also in sympathy, our mortal bodies forming a link with the old creation. But we are alone in God’s secret, as to where deliverance will come from, and when. Though it understands it not, "the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God." When Christ comes upon the scene, bringing with Him the whole glorified family cf God, then the creation will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the liberty of the glory of the children of God.
What a change will then pass over this poor earth! Think of the wolf casting aside his savage instincts and dwelling peaceably with the lamb; the leopard lying down with the kid; the calf and the young lion feeding together; and a little child leading them all! Isal 1.6-7; 65.25. Think also of the sucking child playing on the hole of the asp, and of the weaned child putting his hand on the cockatrice’s den, and getting no harm! What days of peace and quietness for man and beast! There will be one solemn exception to this general deliverance-the serpent. "Dust shall be the serpent’s meat," Isa.65.25. The reason is not far to seek. Under this form the tempter seduced our first parents, and thus brought in all the misery; this God will never overlook or forget. The curse pronounced in Eden will not be revoked in this case, Gen.3.14.
There will be physical changes also, at least in the land of Israel. Thus we read of a river flowing from under the threshold of the house of God, parting into two heads, going east and west, and fertilising wherever it goes, Ezek.47. We read also that "the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose," and that "instead of the thorn shall come up the fir-tree, and instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree," Isa.35.1;55.13. Barrenness will be practically unknown in the day of Christ’s supremacy in the earth. Wonderful jubilee for this long-enslaved scene! Well may believers say "Amen. Come, Lord Jesus."
6. Satan will then be placed under restraint. For a thousand years men will be spared temptation from without.
If a sin appears (an exceptional thing, it would seem, Isa.65.20), men will not be able to blame any but their own evil hearts. During the whole period of the reign of Christ, the great adversary will be confined to the bottomless pit (or the abyss, Rev.20.1-3). This should not be confounded with Gehenna — the lake of fire. The one is a place of temporary confinement, the other
is his eternal portion, in common with ungodly men. Satan and his agents well know what is in store for them. When the Lord Jesus was on earth, demons recognised Him as their tormentor, and on one occasion besought Him not to consign them just then to the abyss, Matt.8.29; Lk.8.31. The time for this is Christ’s appearing, and it is in order that the whole earth may know peace and rest under His holy and beneficent sway.
Thus will the tide of blessing roll on. Earth’s deep scars will be divinely effaced, and human sorrows and afflictions will cease. Though the population will enormously increase, there will be plenty for all, for the earth will be prolific as never before. There will be no want for His subjects; every need will be abundantly supplied. Surely such a term of blessedness and peace will convince men that the service of Christ is better than that of Satan! Alas, no! No sooner will Satan be released from his prison than he will succeed in stirring up rebellion. Vast hosts will be got together to make war on the camp of the (earthly) saints and the beloved city (Jerusalem). Divine retribution will fall at once, without warning or mercy, Rev.20.7-10. Nothing remains to be done but the judgment of the dead at the Great White Throne, which will follow in solemn sequence. On this we need not now dwell, having already considered it in an earlier paper.
The reign of Christ as man being over, and all foes having been subjugated, Christ will deliver up the kingdom to Him who is God and Father. "When all things shall be subdued unto Him, then shall the Son also be subject unto Him that put all things under Him, that God may be all in all," lCor.15.24-28. Here we pause. Time is no longer; eternity is come.
A Defence of this important New Testament Ordinance
by J. D. McColl (Australia)
The ultimate and final authority for all Christian practices is the Bible. The traditions and theories of men invariably lead the unwary astray, and always result, more or less, in developments patently foreign both to the letter and to the spirit of the Word of God. Failure to distinguish between matters that differ is a serious fault, while the custom of founding doctrine and procedure on analogies and inferences is eminently unsafe. Rites and ceremonies bolstered by reasonings and deductions have no appeal for the Christian whose solitary guide-book for faith and practice is the Scripture of truth.
One of the most fruitful sources of error is to be found in the confusion which arises from the constant use of such unmeaning terms as, "the church visible and invisible," "the church on earth and the church in heaven," "a sphere of privilege." These terms are labels, coined by men and attached to institutions and ideas for which there is no sanction in the Word of God. A misunderstanding of the phrase, "In a great house," 2.Tim.2.20, has led many astray. "The house" is neither Christendom nor a sphere of profession: it is nothing more than a house used as an illustration to enforce a truth about the value of purity as an asset in service for Christ. We must contend for a simple acceptance of truths found in the Bible, without additions to suit the whims and pride of men, without ceremonial to align believers with the unauthorised paraphernalia of Judaised Christendom, for all that is practised within the misnamed "Christian Church" is not Christian.
". . . Knowing only the baptism of John" (Acts 18.24-28)
Christian baptism is not a continuation of John’s baptism. John’s disciples were baptised on the confession of their sins and in anticipation of a coming Messiah. It was a baptism unto death, the due reward of their deeds, but not to Christ’s death. It was related to repentance as an outward act, in which an inward change found visible expression, but it was quite distinct from Christian baptism.
In Acts 19.4 Paul explains John’s mission and message, he states, "John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on Him, which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus." John’s preaching had two main elements. The first was a call to repent. What is meant is not a merely intellectual change of mind or mere sorrow for sin, still less doing penance, but a fundamental turnaround involving mind, attitude and action relating to God and sin. The second element in his preaching was the nearness of the Messiah’s presentation to the Nation of Israel. Their baptism by John would be an open confession and public acknowledgement of this twofold thrust of his message upon them. This resulted in a moral and spiritual condition suitable to the reception of their rightful King and Messiah, yielding Him full allegiance and obedience.
Baptism in itself did not clear them of their sin nor render them suitable before God. To state that baptism must precede repentance, and must precede remission of sins, is to teach a crude form of salvation by works. Linking Mk.16.16 "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned," with Matt.3.11, "I indeed baptize you in water unto repentance…", also with Acts 2.38, "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins…", also, Acts 19.4, abundantly establish the fact that baptism is linked with the essential requirements of repentance and faith, not as being itself essential to salvation and forgiveness, but as being one of the first evidences of the change which repentance and faith bring about.
John’s baptism in water gave place to baptism by the Lord’s disciples, Jn.3.22; 4.1-2; this took place before the cross, and was the beginning of what later was believers’ baptism in the Lord’s name after the cross. "Then they that gladly received his word were baptized." Acts 2.41 Following the Lord’s resurrection, He instituted a new thing, believers’ baptism, replacing John’s baptism, commanding His disciples to "Make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you," Matt.28.19-20.
"Is Baptism the introductory rite to a new order?"
"Peter said unto them, Repent ye, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins; and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit" Acts 2.38. That these words should not be understood to mean that remission of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit are secured by baptism is clear from comparison with other statements in Acts. For example, in the case of Cornelius and his friends, "the Holy Spirit fell on all them which heard the word," and only thereafter were they baptised, and at Pisidian Antioch Paul declared that "by Him (the Lord Jesus) every one that believeth is justified from all things," without making any reference to baptism at all, Acts 10.44-48; 13.39. These results follow repentance, the change of attitude toward Christ from unbelief to faith, which change is expressed in baptism, and without change baptism is but an empty form. In response to the words of the apostle, some three thousand people were baptized that day, and the condition on which the rite was administered that they "received his word," that is, they responded to his message by trusting in the Lord Jesus Christ, and confessing His name in the way He had appointed, v41.
Throughout the apolistic age baptism is always associated with the preaching of the Gospel. The words of Acts 18.8 are authoritative and explicit: "Many of the Corinthians hearing, believed, and were baptised."
Peter’s words in Acts 2.38 had a special message for his audience for they had with darkened understanding, hatred and self-will condemned and crucified Jesus as a blasphemer. Now He had been revealed as dying not for His own sins, for He had none, but for others. Straightway there followed a genuine repentance, a glad reception of the Word, and a willing submission to baptism as a public confession of the change and an open identification with the death of Christ. The evidence of true repentance was followed by the divine assurance, the gift of the Spirit. Their baptism was ‘in the Name of Jesus Christ,’ meaning, ‘so as to repose their hope and confidence’ in Him. In the case of Saul of Tarsus, the persecutor of Jesus, the divine requirements were similar. ‘Arise and be baptised and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord,’ Acts 22.16. This last expression, so reminiscent of Peter’s words, ‘Whosoever calleth on the name of the Lord shall be saved,’ Acts 2.21, is significant. This calling on the name of Christ, thus closely associated with baptism, and preceding it, necessarily involved belief in Him. "Be baptized and wash away thy sins," not only put the responsibility upon them, but also stressed the need for an open recognition of their national sin in condemning and crucifying their rightful Messiah.
The immediate dependance and sequence of baptism on the confession of faith are made more explicit in the case of the Samaritans, Acts 8.12, of the Ethiopian eunuch, Acts 8.36,37, of Cornelius, Acts 10.47,48; 11.17, of Lydia, Acts 16.14,15, and of the Philippian jailor, Acts 16.31-34, but in these instances there is not the same emphasis on the inter-relationship between repentance and baptism unto the remission of sins. It should be remembered that there was not the same immediate and evident responsibility as with the men of Israel who had crucified the Son of God, or with Saul who shared the national sin of Christ’s rejection and death and who became the very embodiment of Jewish malignity. But in every case baptism was a public confession of faith in Him and a complete renunciation of the past. Let us ever remember that it is faith in the Lord Jesus Christ that introduces us to the new order of things.
—to be continued)
Christian Conduct in a Modern World
by Walter A. Boyd (South Africa)
No.2 — THE CONSECRATED LIFE
(a) The Believer and God
In the previous article we have established the priority of worship in the life of a believer. We will now examine how that priority can be manifested in the modern world. Paul’s epistle to the Christians in the city of Rome is one of the most important documents ever to be written from a Christian’s standpoint. It is outstanding among the writings of the Apostle. Its importance lies, not only in the fact that it is divinely inspired, but also in that it is the most comprehensive explanation we have of the Divine plan and purpose of the gospel of Jesus Christ. In the Acts of the Apostles, we have the proclamation of the gospel concerning the Person who is presented in the four Gospels. In the epistle to the Romans, we have the explanation of the gospel that is preached in the book of Acts. It forms a strategic foundation for the Epistles coming after it in a number of ways.
Romans chs.1-8 deal with the great subject of how a sinner is brought into blessing and what is involved in being thus brought in: condemnation as a sinner; justification as a saint and glorification in a day to come. Chs.9-11 deal with the position of Israel in relation to the gospel of Jesus Christ and God’s dealings with the Gentiles. In these chapters, the reason is given for the delay in fulfilment of the Abrahamic and Davidic covenants. In order to understand what God is doing in’the present age it is necessary to understand something of the various dispensations and the different methods He employed in each. Chs.12-16, which are often’called the practical section, give us the duties and responsibilities of a believer. The Holy Spirit gives an important balance of truth in the epistle; the transition from doctrine to practice is essential, since the Christian’s conduct and behaviour must conform to his standing in Christ. The practical responsibilities of the latter part of the epistle are firmly rooted in the doctrines of the earlier part.
The consecrated life of Ch.12 finds expression as seen in the following breakdown of this section: Ch.13, the Christian Citizen; Ch.14.1 to 15.13, the Considerate Life; Ch.15.14-33, the Consecrated Servant and Ch.16, Concluding Salutations.
Chapter 12- The Consecrated Life
Ch.12 commences by hitting a high point in terms of the demands upon life and then develops into the practical consequences for a believer in right relations with His God. If our life is ordered correctly and God has His deserved place, there will be no problem keeping other areas in harmony.
- Ch.12.1-2 — The believer and God.
- Ch.12.3-8 — The believer and the church.
- Ch.12.9-13 — The believer and fellow Christians
- Ch.12.14-21 — The believer and society.
Ch 12.1,2 — The believer and God
These two verses form a climax as far as responsibility is concerned, for the whole epistle. Everything in the previous argument of the Apostle is leading up to them doctrinally and everything subsequent stems from them practically.
- The Exhortation is addressed to "brethren." Paul recognises their relationship together in Christ and only true Christians can be expected to respond to the call sounded in the mercies of God. When Paul presents the requirement to us, as sinners who have partaken of the rich and abounding mercies of God in salvation, he beseeches, he does not command. The Law said "thou shalt," but here we are in the sphere of grace and the call is to our hearts to respond as we contemplate the favours that God has bestowed upon us.
- The Motivation to respond in obedience is "the mercies of God." The Apostle supports his exhortation with the best of all motives. Not only must we have a motive for what we do but also it must be the right one. Bring together all the blessings enumerated in the earlier chapters, not just chps.1-8, but right through to the end of ch.ll and you have what Paul is describing as the mercies of God. You can detect the Apostle’s modus operandi; meditation becomes motivation, mercies beget motives.
- The Presentation of our bodies is the sacrifice demanded in the light of the mercies of God. We must recognise that we are not our own but have been bought with a price by the death of Christ. Therefore, I should present my whole being to God. This is not presentation for some great missionary exploit but rather consecration as a calculated decision, upon appreciation of the mercies of God.
The presentation seems to be:
- A Physical Sacrifice. The Word of God has some important things to say about our physical body. In Cor.6 it is "the temple of the Holy Spirit." In Rom.8 it will be "quickened" in resurrection. In Phil.4 it will be "fashioned like unto His glorious body." The present world swings between two errors in relation to the body. On one hand it places great emphasis on the preservation, enhancement and care of the physical body to boost the ego, while on the other hand it encourages influences that wreck the physical frame through sinful living. Our concern ought to be its preservation for the glory of God in consecrated living.
- A Living Sacrifice. All the Levitical sacrifices were intended for death, but here it is a sacrifice consisting of a life intended to be lived for God alone. The energy, ability and talents of life are to be used in the service of God. When has there ever been a greater stress laid upon living life to the full and personal enjoyment regardless of how we affect others? This is the age of putting self first. The consecrated believer reserves his life and energy for God, not for self.
- A Holy Sacrifice. The body of a saint, who is consecrated, will be set apart for God and available only to Him. It should be noted that we are not speaking of a holiness that stems from consecration but rather the consecration to God of that which is already holy. The moral defilement and pollution of the world falls to a new low every day. A consecrated life is one that is kept unspotted from the world and presented to God in a sacrifice.
- An Acceptable Sacrifice. A life consecrated and so presented to God will gain His favour and acceptance. The connection between worship and being well pleasing to God as discussed in the first article, "The Priority of Worship," should not be missed. There is no higher objective in Christian living than to be well pleasing to God. We should seek in every matter to "prove what is acceptable to God," Eph.5.10. If we live to be acceptable to God in this life, the review at the Judgment Seat of Christ will produce the reward of eternal blessing for pleasing Him.
The presentation of a consecrated life in sacrifice to God is our reasonable service. Paul is speaking about priestly service to God; the word used is sometimes translated "worship." Here we are getting down to the bedrock foundation of a life of worship and service. There is no service, however noble, that will be fully and completely rendered and accepted, except from a body presented to God. There is no worship, however costly, that will be fully accepted and pleasing to God, except from a life consecrated to God. Scholars have never resolved the problem as to the meaning of the word reasonable; is it rational, the obedience of the heart and mind in contemplation of the mercies of God? Or, is it logical, the only response a right thinking mind can arrive at, in light of the mercies of God? The original word is used elsewhere in both these senses; the conclusion therefore must be drawn from the context. In which case the argument seems to fall in favour of logical, as it is a plea made on the basis of mercies extended to and enjoyed by the child of God.
- The Transformation of our minds is the hidden spring from which separation from the world, v2, flows freely. Inward transformation is a change that affects the outward appearance. If I am inwardly transformed I will not be outwardly conformed to the world. Many today say "as long as the heart is right that is all that matters." That is exactly the point! My outward appearance reveals my inward condition. What is down in the well must come up in the bucket, therefore the appearance of a believer indicates what moulds their life and shapes their thinking. The transformation is affected by the renewing of our mind, that is, the whole person is transformed by the inward change in the mind that is being continually renewed by the Spirit of God. The other occurrences of the word "transform" are very instructive. In the gospels, we have the historical record of the transfiguration of the Lord Jesus (same word as transform), Matt.17.2, Mk.9.2. This does not give much help as to the meaning of the word but the other occurrence in 2Cor.3.18 is very helpful. Paul says, "beholding… the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image, from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord." Two important principles are given here as the secret of the transformed life; contemplation of the Lord and control by the Holy Spirit. Each is of equal force to effect a transformed life and will evidence the balance of life expected of a saint in touch with his God. Observation of Christ and obedience to the Holy Spirit are the life changing factors we find so elusive in this busy world. The old hymn "Take time to be holy, speak oft with thy Lord; abide in Him always and feed on His Word," has caught the essential elements of this practical truth. Meditation upon Christ will affect my attitude to this present evil age and will enhance my worship. Therefore, in meditation upon the Lord Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit will make impressions upon the heart that demand obedience, a change of attitude or action. Obeying Him brings us into closer conformity to the Son of God and precipitates the change or transformation expected in these verses. There are no short-cuts to Christ-likeness and that same Christ-likeness the only route to "proving what is that good and perfect and acceptable will of God," Rom 12.2.
—to be continued (D.V.)
The Role of Sisters in the Assembly
by J. Grant (Scotland)
NO.1 — INTRODUCTION
One of the greatest social changes which has taken place in the twentieth century is the role of women. The movement which started with the suffragettes over ninety years ago was fuelled by the work which women carried out during the 1914-18 war. This produced a change in the attitude of many women that eventually led to the modern feminist movement. Those who supported the drive for what was called "the equality of the sexes" regarded the place given to women as that of inferiors who were forced to perform menial household tasks and be treated merely as servants in their own homes. So effective has the "women’s liberation movement" been that differences between men and women are seen as being merely biological. In every other way it has been decreed that it is only acceptable to view the sexes as equal and similar. Both are suited to fill any of the roles in life and both must have "equal opportunities" in the work place.
It is not our purpose to discuss the issues of this movement in society, but we take note of the fact that some of its ideas have found their way into the thinking of believers. The Scriptural role of sisters is questioned, and in some places, discarded. The teaching of the Word of God is seen as a product of the cultural environment of an earlier age and its application to modern society regarded as a means of keeping sisters in a place of inferiority. We must note that discarding, or seeking to change, any of the teaching of Scripture is a fundamental error. As believers, we treat the Scriptures as our ultimate authority for all that we do. We will examine the role of sisters on the basis of accepting what Scripture teaches as authoritative, and therefore to be heeded and obeyed.
Before looking at our subject it is important to consider the honour which is bestowed on women in the Word of God. In the account of creation we see this bestowed in a number of ways, Gen.2.18-25.
First we observe that there is no separate account of the creation of the females of all other creatures, but there is a separate account of the creation of woman. This immediately sets her apart from all other females created. In the case of animals etc. it may be argued that male and female differ only physically, but with man and woman the differences are far greater and more fundamental. The separate account of her creation marks out the woman as quite distinct and different from all other females and gives her a unique dignity beside the man.
Second we see that she is the only female who is taken from the side of the male. Adam declares that "she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man." She is closer to man than any other female to male. This gives her a unique association with man.
Third we note that she is the only female specifically given a separate task to perform. She is to be a help suitable for the man. This gives her a unique responsibility.
Fourth we note that the Lord God "brought her to the man." The relationship between husband and wife is on a much higher plane than the relationship between male and female of other creatures. As a wife she has a unique companionship with the man.
In the Old Testament Scriptures women often played a decisive part in the work of God. Deborah was a judge who, with Barak, defeated Jabin of Caanan, and delivered Israel. During this conflict, Jael the wife of Heber the Kenite took the opportunity which presented itself to her and slew Sisera, the captain of Jabin’s army, Jud.6.
The widow of Zarephath to whom Elijah was sent, lKgs.17.9, was used of God to preserve the life of the prophet during the days of drought and death. It was her barrel of meal which did not waste and her cruse which never lacked oil.
The great woman of Shunem, 2Kgs.4, offered hospitality to Elisha and refused any reward which the king could have been entreated to give her. When her son died she showed the strength of her faith in the midst of sad circumstances, revealing a stark contrast with the attitude of indifferent coldness shown by her husband. Like so many women before and since, she was more godly than the man she had married.
When the child Moses was born in Egypt, Ex.2.2, it is his mother who is credited with hiding him in the house for three months. It is true that in Acts 7.20 his father seems to get credit, and in Heb.11 both parents play a part in his deliverance. No one could doubt, however, the crucial role played by his mother in this drama worked out in heathen Egypt.
Although Elkanah has some good qualities it is his wife Hannah who shines more brightly in 1 Sam.1-2. Her desire was for a man child. She clearly had the deliverance of Israel in mind and was prepared to give the child to the Lord.
These are some of the great women of the Old Testament, and that brief list is by no means exhaustive. The New Testament also brings to our attention women of faith. The widow who went into the temple clutching two mites in her hands, Mk.12.42, little realised that the Master was watching her every move and assessed her "paltry" gift as worth more than the large amounts deposited by the others out of their riches.
It was another widow, a Gentile, who was commended by the Lord for having "great faith" when she entreated Him for her daughter, Matt.15.21-28. He tested her by His answer; "I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel." Her response revealed a keen spiritual perception beyond the ordinary.
What more could be said of Mary who poured the pure oil of nard on her Lord, Jn.12.1-9, the women who followed from Galilee, and those women who, with Mary the mother of Jesus, are found with the disciples as they wait the fulfilment of the promise that they would be baptised in the Holy Spirit, Acts 1.14.
All these women, and many others, have their part in Scripture and in the work of God in their generation. But what part did they play after the Day of Pentecost, when the church came into being, and what role do women have in the local assembly and in the work of the Lord today? As we consider the issues we will see that the New Testament role of women is vital and important. It has not been given to them to be mere spectators, looking on at the work and having little or no part in it. Their part may differ from that of men, but it is neither less important nor is it confined to what some consider to be "menial" tasks while others engage in what is of greater value. Our study of the Scriptures will show the dignity and glory associated with sisters who seek the mind of God from the word of God and fulfil the important role given to them.
—to be continued (D. V.)
MY CONVERSION AND CALL (62)
by James Martin (Northern Ireland)
The writer was born at Lenaderg, two miles from Banbridge, Co. Down, N. Ireland. I was the youngest of a family of four, three boys and one girl. Our home was strict and religious but my parents were not saved. In 1931 my mother was invited to hear Mr. Joseph Glancey, a converted Roman Catholic, preach the gospel in Victoria Street Gospel Hall, Banbridge. She went on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday and midway through that third meeting she was gloriously saved. About one year later Mr. David Walker, from Aberdeen, came to the same hall for gospel meetings and on the fifth week my father was saved. This entirely changed our home. Morning and night the Bible was read and our parents prayed with us. During the following years I was taken to all the gospel meetings and special efforts in reach of our home.
In 1940 Mr. Walker returned to Banbridge for gospel meetings, for four weeks. During that time my companion got saved and I was very concerned. I spoke to Mr. Walker and asked him to continue the meetings but he replied saying that he had arrangements made for meetings in Aberdeen and I had heard sufficient to lead me to salvation.
In March 1941 Mr. David Craig, Ballymena, came to Banbridge for gospel meetings and I attended nightly, deeply longing to know my parents’ Saviour, but all seemed so dark and I concluded there was no salvation for me. On Tuesday 1st April, I was working in a grocery store and about 9.30 a.m. I got my Bible and began reading, trying to believe, but all to no avail. In my despair I closed the Bible convinced that hell was my destiny. Just then the words of Isa.53.5 came to my mind, ‘But He was wounded for our transgressions.’ I forgot about the believing and was occupied with the One who was wounded and I saw for the first time that I was in the ‘OUR’. It was all for me. Six weeks later I was baptised and received into the assembly at Banbridge.
It was my custom to attend all the midweek meetings and one night in the prayer meeting the late Mr. T. H. McCabe gave out the hymn, ‘Must I go and empty handed,’ and before we sang he described the writer and the conditions under which the hymn was penned and appealing to us all he said, "we should set our hearts on seeing souls saved." All the brethren got down to pray and with my heart greatly touched I asked the Lord to guide me to some soul in need of salvation. About three weeks later I was asked to speak to some children in a Sunday School in a brother’s home. Two days later I was informed of a young mother who was at the Sunday School and she got saved on the Monday. This begot a longing in my heart to see others saved.
In 1946 I left Banbridge to work outside Ballymoney, Co. Antrim, and was in fellowship in the Ballymoney assembly. After a few weeks the late Mr. Edmund Johnston asked me to take the gospel meeting. This was the first time I was responsible for an entire meeting but the Lord gave help. Mr. Johnston phoned on Monday to say that a young woman got saved after the meeting on Lord’s day. This was an answer to prayer. During the next five years I had ten series of gospel meetings with fruit seen in salvation.
In 1951 I was asked to go to Co. Fermanagh for a long weekend and the small assembly of two brothers and two sisters pressed me to come for a series of gospel meetings. I replied that it was a long journey and I could not work in Ballymoney and preach every night nine miles outside Enniskillen. Mr. Bobbie McClean said, "there’s a bed here and a bite to eat and the Lord will care for your future and your job." So I tendered my resignation and worked for six weeks to train a new man for my job.
A brother from Bushmills took me on his motorbike to Currien, Co. Fermanagh, and he stayed a few days with me. The meetings commenced with thirteen on the Lord’s day and five on the Monday. I was very depressed and wondered if I had made a mistake. However, praying earnestly for divine guidance I got around the homes using brother McClean’s car, since I had none of my own. When the meetings commenced I had £7 and as I paid for the petrol and oil for the car I was soon spending my last £1. On the Wednesday of the fourth week I was leaving a home
after praying with them when a young woman called me. She told me she had got saved the previous Lord’s day after the meeting. I prayed with her and thanked God and when I got to the road, sat in the car with a tear in my eye and thanked the Lord again.
That night a brother put something in my hand and a dear sister gave me an envelope containing £5 and the following poem:
- In nothing be anxious.
- For see how tenderly the Lord is guiding thee,
- Does He not hold thy hands with love and understands?
- Listening when thou dost plead — supplying all thy need,
- In nothing be anxious.
So by the middle of the fourth week I had seen a soul saved and my £7 was restored. This assured me that I was in the right way. The next day I promised the Lord that if He wanted me to preach the gospel I would neither write, phone or ask for meetings, and now after 48 years serving the Lord I have not gone back on my promise and I have not been out of work since 1951 and still have invitations to preach the gospel.
In 1952, while in Stornoway, Isle of Lewis, I got a letter from the two brethren of the Currien assembly asking me to return for more meetings. I commenced in October and the meetings continued for nine weeks. Six professed faith in Christ and the assembly increased from four to nine in fellowship.
I was married in 1953 to Elizabeth Sherrard from Coleraine and lived there for seven years. During this time the Lord spoke to me from Prov.24.27, "Prepare thy work without, and make it fit for thyself in the field; and afterwards build thine house." In 1962 I purchased a house in Ballymena and have lived there since. During these years I have had hundreds of series of meetings lasting from five weeks to 23 weeks and ranging through Northern Ireland, Canada, USA, Nova Scotia, Venezuela and Australia. Among those who were saved are a number now serving the Lord in Northern Ireland, Brazil, Eire, South Africa and Zambia.
As one looks back over these many years we can, in measure, join with Paul and say, "Having therefore obtained help of God, I continue unto this day," Acts 26.22. He also spoke of "God, whose I am, and whom I serve," Acts 27.23. We have sought to continue in the pathway of those who said, "We ought to obey God rather than men," Acts 5.29.
I pray that the record of my experience will prove a real blessing to many and be for His own glory.
Good Tidings from Heaven
DO YOU JUMP THE LIGHT?
Last October many people were travelling into Paddington Station, London by train. This was a daily journey for many of the passengers. Another day in the city, in the office, some perhaps on holiday, tourists looking forward to visiting the sights and places of historic interest. It ended in disaster with many dead and scores injured. Such came very suddenly and unexpectedly. The journey was almost over and some were already moving to the doors to be first off when there was a tremendous crash. It is difficult to be definitive as to the real cause of the accident, but many say one of the trains went through a red signal, jumping the light. Some say this was done on previous occasions. Others say the light was obscured by cables and power lines. Whatever the excuse, a warning signal was not heeded and destruction and devastation were the result.
Dear reader, have you ever ignored a warning? Have you ever jumped a red light? I am not speaking about traffic signals that you observe while driving. 1 am speaking about warnings that God has left in His word for us. These are designed to spare us from the disaster of eternal death. Have you ever heeded the warning, "flee from the wrath to come"? Matt.3.7. God has warned us of coming judgment for all who reject His love and His provision of salvation through His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. Jn. 3.16 ‘For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.’ God gave His Son to the awful death of the cross where He bare the judgment of God against sin and all who believe in Him can be saved because of the value of that work to God and His precious blood which He shed.
The warning is in Mk.16.16 ‘he that believeth not shall be damned.’ Jn.3.18 ‘He that believeth on Him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.’ Jn.3.36 ‘He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.’
Those who are saved are expected to raise the warning cry and those who hear are expected to take heed. The Lord said to Ezekiel, ‘warn the people; Then whosoever heareth the sound of the trumpet, and taketh not warning; if the sword come, and take him away, his blood shall be upon his own head.’ Ezk.33.3,4. Heb.11.7 ‘By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house.
You may say, ‘I have heard all that before. I have ignored the warning and so far nothing has happened. I will get saved some time later in life when I have accomplished by ambitions.’ Remember with the train at Paddington station there was a time when ignoring the warning and jumping the light was disastrous. Others may argue and say, ‘I don’t need-that. My spiritual adviser told me there is another way. If I do the best 1 can 1 will get to heaven eventually’ Remember a warning obscured will not avert disaster. Your argument is with God. Why not read your own Bible and check the truth of what is presented in this paper?
God will save, but only on His terms. Acts 16.30,31 ‘What must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.’
- He sits at God’s right hand until
- His enemies are made His stool
‘Till God sends out from Zion’s hill
His sceptre strong with which to rule
Thy people will be willing then,
In holy splendour clothed by Thee
Thyself like youthful morning when
The glist’ning dew on all we see
The Lord swears and will not repent
"Thou art a priest for evermore"
Just as Melchisidec was sent
So Christ will rule from shore to shore
The Kings will know His wrath that day
And places will be filled with dead
He’ll drink of Kedron by the way
Therefore will He lift up His head
Matthew J Cordiner (Kilwinning)
- The "ideal" is our aim but the "actual" is our experience.
- —J. Douglas
- Paul turned this world into a cemetary and passed through it as a corpse. (Gal.6.14).
- —J. Douglas
- I have no time for novel interpretations — cream lies on the surface.
- —J. Darby