ASSEMBLY TESTIMONY BIBLE CLASS
by J. Riddle
TESTIMONY IN TROUBLOUS TIMES
by I. McKee
CHRISTIAN CONDUCT IN A MODERN WORLD
by W. A. Boyd
by J. A. Davidson
by W. W. Fereday
HEBREWS CH9 – THE DAY OF ATONEMENT SURPASSED
by J. C. Gibson
"WHATSOEVER HE SAITH UNTO YOU, DO IT"
by J. Burnett
MY CONVERSION AND CALL
by D. Richards
by J. Riddle (Cheshunt)
Haggai – Paper 8 — "I will fill this house with glory"
Again, Read Chapter 2.1-9
In the last paper we commenced a consideration of the second of Haggai’s messages –
TO RESTORE THEIR CONFIDENCE, 2.1-9.
This we subdivided into the following sections and we dealt with the first two:
A) THE MONTH, v1. The message came at a significant time:
B) THE MEN, v2. The message is addressed individually and collectively:
C) THE MESSAGE, v3-9. It covers past memories, v3; present encouragement, v4-5; and prospective glory, v6-9.
C) THE MESSAGE, v3-9
As we have noticed, the message covers (i) past memories, v3; (ii) present encouragement, v4-5; and (iii) prospective glory, v6-9.
i) Past memories, v3:
"Who is left among you that saw this house in her first glory? And how do ye see it now? Is it not in your eyes in comparison of it as nothing?" It all looked very disappointing. The same people had wept when the foundation was laid. See Ezra 3.12, "But many of the priests and Levites and chief of the fathers, who were ancient men, that had seen the first house, when the foundation of this house was laid before their eyes, wept with a loud voice; and many shouted aloud for joy." (So it was a case of ‘tears and cheers!’). They remembered the ‘good old days!’ This was the third reason for despondency. First of all, it was the seventh month with the "feast of tabernacles," then they were only a "remnant", and now, an inferior building! The old days were so much better! Older people tend to look back, and make comparisons.
Some of us can remember when ‘the assemblies were much larger and much stronger … when there was more evangelism … when … when …’ Well, we must learn the lessons of the past, but it can be very counter-productive to dwell in the past!
Of course, they were looking at it from their point of view. "How do ye see it now?" In comparison with the original temple, it was "as nothing." But that wasn’t how God saw it: "Go up to the mountain, and bring wood, and build the house; and I will take pleasure in it, and I will be glorified, saith the Lord," 1.8. Let’s say, again, that however small and unimpressive, work undertaken sacrificially for God, and out of devotion to Him, will bring Him immense joy and pleasure.
It is worth noticing the expression "this house." At first glance, the wording seems inaccurate: "Who is left among you that saw this house in her first glory?" But it wasn’t the same building!! There is yet another building in v7, and that is also called "this house!" See also v9. Quite obviously, God sees the succession of temples as ‘one house.’ (I Steeds, ‘The Minor Prophets: Their Relevance for Today). They represented different phases of one thing. As we shall see, the "first glory" of "this house" will be totally eclipsed by the ‘latter glory of this house,’ v9 JND.
ii) Present encouragement, v4:
"Yet now be strong, O Zerubbabel, saith the Lord, and be strong, O Joshua, son of Josedech, the high priest; and be strong all ye people of the land, saith the Lord, and work: for I am with you saith the Lord of hosts. According to the word that I covenanted with you when ye came out of Egypt, so My spirit remaineth among you: fear ye not." We must notice (a) Their responsibility, and (b) Their resources.
a) Their responsibility. Years before the enemy had "weakened the hands of the people of Judah, and troubled them in building," Ezra 4.4. Compare Ezra 6.22. But now they were to "be strong," and "work!" They were not to give up because they could not match the ‘good old days!’ They were to get on with the job in hand. They were to be resolute and determined. Joshua was to be "strong and of good courage" in connection with the task before him ("for unto this people shalt thou divide for an inheritance the land"), in connection with the teaching of God’s word ("that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law"), and in connection with the trials that awaited him ("be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed"). We can only "be strong" as we enjoy fellowship and communion with the Lord Jesus. See, for example, Eph.6.10; 2Tim.2.1; 2Cor.12.9. The injunction, "and work", reminds us that we are to be "steadfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord," 1Cor.15.58.
b) Their resources. Whenever God gives instructions to His people, He always provides the necessary resources. They could never have been "strong" and continued to "work" without divine help! Neither can we! Incidentally, it was building work. It was building ‘the house of God.’ We need divine help in assembly building. Notice the words "building", "buildeth", "build", and "built", in 1Cor.3.9-14.
Here are their resources:
His presence: "I am with you, saith the Lord of hosts." Compare 1.5-6 and 1.9-11. He had been against them. But now they enjoyed His presence. See also 1.13, I am with you, saith the Lord."
His power: "I am with you, saith the Lord of hosts." This divine title (Jehovah Sabaoth) emphasises God’s infinite power and resources, together with His leadership. It has been pointed out that this title is used particularly when God’s people were weak. It is first mentioned in 1Sam.1.11.
His promise: "According to the word that I covenanted with you when ye came out of Egypt, so My Spirit remaineth among you." This refers to Ex.29.45-46. "And will be their God. And they shall know that I am the Lord their God, that brought them forth out of the land of Egypt, that I may dwell among them: I am the Lord their God." The words, "So My Spirit remaineth among you," refers to the prophetic office. "Holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost," 2Pet.1.21. See Neh.9.20, "Thou gavest also Thy good Spirit to instruct them." Read Isa.63.10-14, where the Holy Spirit is mentioned three times. With such resources, we can understand the final injunction: "Fear not." "He hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee, so that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me," Heb.10.5-6.
iii) Prospective glory, v6-9:
God had assured His people of His presence and power as they laboured for Him. Now He gives them assurance for the future. The ‘senior citizens’ had looked back: now they are invited to look forward. What a future! "I will fill this house with glory, saith the Lord of hosts … The glory of this latter house (the latter glory of this house) shall be greater than of the former, saith the Lord of hosts." We must notice the three statements: (a) "I will shake," v6-7; (b) "I will fill," v7; "Will I give," v9.
a) "I will shake," v6-7: "For thus saith the Lord of hosts, Yet once, it is a little while (compare Heb.10.3-7 – it is only a "little while" when compared with eternity!), and I will shake the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land; and I will shake all nations." This passage is cited in Heb.12.26-27: "Whose voice then (referring to Mount Sinai) shook the earth: but now hath He promised, saying, "Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven. And this word, yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain."
Quite obviously, this refers to the coming ‘tribulation’ period, which will terminate with the return of the Lord Jesus. The convulsions described here recall Isa.24.19-23, "The earth is utterly broken down, the earth is clean dissolved, the earth is moved exceedingly. The earth shall reel to and fro like a drunkard, and shall be removed like a cottage; and the transgression thereof shall be heavy upon it. And it shall fall, and not rise again … Then the moon shall be confounded, and the sun ashamed, when the Lord of hosts shall reign in mount Zion, and in Jerusalem, and before his ancients gloriously." See also Matt.24.29, Rev.6 (the "seal" judgments), Rev.8-9 (the "trumpet" judgments), Rev.16 (the "vial" judgments). This leads to the return of God’s glory to the temple.
b) "I will fill," v6. "And the desire of all nations shall come: and I will fill this house with glory, saith the Lord of hosts." Since the word "come" is plural, most commentators conclude that this refers to the ‘desirable things of all nations’ (RV) which will be brought to the temple at that time. That is, the silver and gold in v8. The New American Standard Bible (NASB) has ‘And they will come with the wealth of all nations.’ It has, however, been pointed out that when two nouns stand together, as here ("desire" and "nations"), the verb can agree in number with either noun. It is therefore quite legitimate to conclude that the plural verb ("come’) agrees with the plural noun ("nations’), and that "the desire of all nations refers to the Lord Jesus Himself. As M. C. Unger observes, ‘the appellative ("desire of all nations") does not imply that the nations consciously longed or yearned for Him, but rather that He was the only One to satisfy the deepest desires that all felt unconsciously for a Saviour-Deliverer.’ On the other hand, He will certainly be the "desire of all nations" in the millennium. See Zech.14.16. It is significant that when He first came, Israel said, "there is no beauty that we should desire him," Isa.53.2.
The words, "I will fill this house with glory, saith the Lord of hosts," are amplified in Ezek.43.1-5, "Afterward He brought me to the gate, even to the gate that looketh toward the east: and, behold, the glory of the God of Israel came from the way of the east, and His voice was like the voice of many waters: and the earth shined with His glory … And the glory of the Lord came into the house, by the way of the gate whose prospect is towards the east … So the Spirit took me up, and brought me into the inner court; and, behold, the glory of the Lord filled the house." Compare Ezek.10-11. This leads to enduring peace.
c) "Will I give," v9. "The glory of this latter house (JND, ‘the latter glory of this house’) shall be greater than of the former, saith the Lord of hosts: and in this place will I give peace, saith the Lord of hosts." The ‘senior citizens’ looked back to Solomon’s temple. Quite obviously, even they never saw it in its original glory! But the future was going to be even better than the past! This was God’s full answer to their despondency. For us, too, ‘the best is yet to be.’ "Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things that God hath prepared for them that love Him. But (don’t forget to finish the quotation!) God hath revealed them unto us by His Spirit," 1Cor.2.9-10. See also 1Pet.1.3-4, Rom.8-17, Rev.21.1-6, etc.
There wasn’t too much peace around when Haggai preached. The rebuilding project had been interrupted by enemy activity of various sorts, and it wouldn’t be long before Nehemiah was given the same treatment. But the centuries-long opposition to God’s people will not be for ever. "In this place will I give peace, saith the Lord of hosts." The "Prince of peace" will be there! He "shall speak peace unto the heathen; and His dominion shall be from sea to sea, and from the river even to the ends of the earth."
The prospective glory described in these verses is guaranteed by "the Lord of hosts." The divine title occurs five times. God, with infinite resources, is able to fulfil all His promises, and like Abraham, we are "fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform," Rom.4.21.
—to be continued (D.V.)
by Ian McKee (Northern Ireland)
Paper 8 — Difficulties follow delay (Ezra Chapter 4)
Advancement in the things of God (Ezra ch.1-3) soon provokes action from adversaries. Those who had seized the opportunity to serve God soon faced concerted opposition.
False friendship offered (Ezra 4.1-3)
The contrary activity came from close neighbours, Ezra 3.3 and 4.4. These were Samaritans, descendants of foreign colonists that the Assyrians had settled in the land many years before, 2Kgs.17.24. Their offer to assist in the building of the house of the Lord was accompanied with the pious assertion "for we seek your God, as ye do; and we do sacrifice unto Him," Ezra 4.2. What they failed to say was that their assessment of Jehovah was as being equivalent to one of the many gods in their idolatrous system. This led to a self-pleasing religion not far removed from conditions in present day Christendom, including much that professes to be evangelical: "They feared the Lord, and served their own gods," 2Kgs.17.33. So under the guise of plausible friendship, an unequal yoke is offered. The illicit relationship here is of a religious character, but this may as easily be of a commercial, social, political or matrimonial nature.
The leadership of the Jewish returnees judge the Samaritan offer. Their united response is "Ye have nothing to do with us to build an house unto our God; but we ourselves together will build unto the Lord God of Israel," Ezra 4.3. They affirm that Jehovah is "our God," not the Samaritans’, and recognise that only the Lord’s people can engage legitimately in the work of the Lord. To allow others to build would be a denial of the distinctiveness of their relationship with God, which, as we noted in Ezra ch.3, is based and centred upon the altar. Therefore, they refuse the offer of alliance with an unregenerate Samaritan world that has no appreciation of the shed blood. Similar blandishments are offered today to seek to entrap the Lord’s people in compromise. Whether the danger be from unsaved persons, unjust principles or unholy practices, the position is clear. "Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? And what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? Or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols?" All such associations are incongruous for a holy people, who are "the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people," 2Cor.6.14-16.
Not only do we have explicit injunctions in this regard, "Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing," but there are precious promises for those who follow that privileged pathway, "and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be My sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty," 2Cor.6.17,18. Blessed relationships!
Open opposition revealed (Ezra 4.4-24)
The rejection of the Samaritan offer to help build the house of the Lord resulted in them showing their true colours by engaging in outright opposition. At first their opposition takes the form of local action: they "weakened the hands of the people of Judah, and troubled them in building," Ezra 4.4. And it was successful. Careful consideration of the prophecies of Haggai show that the Jewish remnant in their land made little, if any, progress in rebuilding the house of the Lord at Jerusalem after completion of the foundations, Ezra ch.3.
Nevertheless, if the people of God were lethargic, the enemies were untiring in pursuing strategic lobbying of the political powers against the work. Using hired counsellors, they engage in a campaign of widespread denigration, lodging biased accusations and misrepresentations at the Persian court to imply that the returnees harbour seditious intentions in pursuit of Jewish independence.
The Samaritans’ persistent lobbying against the Jews during the remainder of the reign of Cyrus; his successor Cambyses (the Ahasuerus of Ezra 4.6); and that of Pseudo-Smerdis (the Artaxerxes of Ezra 4.7-23) eventually succeed in having a notice served to order the cessation of any rebuilding work at Jerusalem. "Give ye now commandment to cause these men to cease, and that this city be not builded, until another commandment shall be given from me," Ezra 4.21.
However this edict of Artaxerxes was not issued until some 15 years after the laying of the foundation of the Temple! The fact that reconstruction had not been advanced in this period suggests that the faith of the returnees had waned and their enthusiasm had dissipated. Haggai will show that their energies had been channelled toward the pursuit of material comfort and prosperity.
The account of the persistent, ongoing opposition to the work of God in Ezra 4.4-23 is depressing. Not only are we given a detailed insight into malevolent opposition against the testimony of God (which was sustained for 90 years until the time of Nehemiah) but also there is no reference to any exercise or concern on the part of the people of God; no acute feeling of need; and certainly no mention of them being moved to pray! The dispiriting conclusion of Ezra ch.4 is, "Then ceased the work of the house of God which is at Jerusalem."
However, God is not disinterested even though the exercise of His people has reached a low ebb. His purpose will be fulfilled. And what will God use to effect this recovery? Just two men, of diverse temperaments, in fellowship with God! And the practical import of Haggai and Zechariah’s ministry is still pertinent for us.
Could God recover among His people today? The answer is obvious. But will He do it? Will He do it apart from our feeling our deep need of Him and a distinctive, prayerful exercise? Are we prepared for the change that close fellowship with God will require? Are we prepared, dependent on His grace, to implicity obey the detail of His word? The need of our day demands that we ponder this prayerfully.
—to be continued (D.V.)
by Walter A. Boyd (South Africa)
No.5 — THE CONSECRATED SERVANT (Romans 15.14-33)
The benediction of ch.15.13 brings to an end the practical section of the epistle to the Romans. In chs.1-11, the apostle has expounded the truth of God regarding sin, salvation and the Saviour. In our papers we have looked together at ch.12 onwards, where his practical exhortations are based on the doctrine of the earlier chapters. For Paul, the gospel was not religious theory or a philosophy of life – it was a declaration of divine truth that placed significant demands upon the children of God.
Now in the final section of the letter, the apostle gives a practical demonstration of these truths and how their demands have been met in his own life, in the lives of others and in the lives of the saints at Rome. In earlier papers we looked at these demands in relation to;
The Consecrated Life (ch.12.1-21).
The Christian Citizen (ch.13.1-14).
The Considerate Life (ch.14.1-15.13).
In 15.14 – 33 we get an insight into the life of a consecrated servant of God as he writes about himself, his ministry and his plans for the future. There are sections throughout his epistles, in which he speaks of his experiences as an apostle and servant of Christ Jesus, Gal.1; Phil.3; 1 Cor.12; 2 Tim. 4. The passage before us in Rom.15 gives us a look into the heart of the apostle, as he shares with the believers in Rome his thoughts and desires in respect of his past and future service for Christ. This portion of ch.15 can be divided as follows;
1. v14-24 – Paul and his Preaching.
2. v25-29 – Paul and the Poor Saints.
3. v30-33 – Paul and Prayer.
1. Paul and his Preaching, v14-24
Whenever possible, the apostle is keen to commend those to whom he writes. He does so here and then goes on to speak of his apostleship and unique ministry to the Gentiles. In the earlier part of the chapter, v8-13, Paul explained the doctrinal basis for God’s plan in blessing the Gentiles. He now reveals his part as an apostle in the pursuance of that great plan. Paul’s part is all of God and grace. This is not bombastic trumpet blowing, but in deep humility he shows how God, grace and the gospel combined to bring salvation to the dark Gentiles to whom he had preached. How has this been achieved? He demonstrates that sacrificial service is the hallmark of every truly consecrated servant of God. In other words, everything that Paul taught in chapters twelve to fourteen relative to the demands of consecration, he has practised himself. The verses we will consider in this section are divided as follows;
(A) His Happy Persuasion (v14).
(B) His Unique Ministry (v15,16).
(C) His Personal Testimony (v17-19).
(D) His Missionary Objective (v20,21).
(E) His Future Plans (v22-24).
(A) His Happy Persuasion, (v14). Here is evidence of what Paul states in 2 Cor. 11.28; that he carried as a burden "the care of all the churches." Even though the saints in Rome were not the fruit of his labours in the gospel, he had a deep concern for their welfare. Hence his prolonged desire to visit them, 15.23. That desire was likely intensified by the good report about them that had "gone abroad to all," 16.19. The believers at Rome were not circulating stories about themselves – others had noticed their character and service, and made these known. In ch.1.8 their "faith is spoken of throughout the whole world," and in ch.16.19 their "obedience is come abroad unto all men."
Having heard the reports, Paul is persuaded concerning the saints at Rome. The word he uses for "persuaded" tells us that he had carefully evaluated and considered the evidence. That led to him being convinced as to their spiritual condition. They were spiritually healthy and nothing he had heard about them needed to be the subject of investigation or censure. He was persuaded that they were full of goodness. Goodness is a general word for spiritual virtue or beneficence, and is in the active sense. How did they arrive at such a condition? They had been filled up completely with knowledge by the Holy Spirit and were now full of goodness.
This spiritual condition led to spiritual consideration. They were "able to admonish one another." They took into consideration the spiritual needs of one another and were able to give spiritual help in such a way as to contribute to mutual progress. We have met this expression, "one another," in previous studies. It appears in each of the practical chapters in the epistle; 12.10; 13.8; 14.13; 15.7; 15.14; 16.16. These six injunctions in respect of one another need to be reiterated in our day. Selfish living, inconsiderate decision making, harsh criticism and much more, contribute to the spirit of our age and sadly, are found too frequently amongst the Lord’s people. These are not the characteristics of a consecrated servant of the Lord.
(B) His Unique Ministry, (v15,16). In spite of the good report and Paul’s firm
conviction about their spiritual state, he writes to remind them of some things that are important for them, and then of his intention to visit them. They were in a Gentile city and with his unique ministry as the apostle to the Gentiles, 1.5; 11.13; 12.3, he feels a responsibility towards them. Paul sees his apostolic ministry as being three-fold.
(i) His Ministry in Writing. This epistle was an essential and integral part of Paul’s God-given ministry and must be viewed as such in terms of content and tone. Here he is doing more than asserting apostolic authority. In a very particular sense he is establishing his responsibility towards the saints in Rome, as the apostle to the Gentiles. His epistle is dealing with only some aspects of Divine revelation, it is not a comprehensive treatment, it is "in some sort" or in part. He writes with boldness, indicating the urgency and importance of his teaching. He writes by way of reminder – they already knew these things but Paul felt the need to boldly remind them of these truths. This is a tactic used by other writers in the New Testament – they saw the value of reminding saints of things they had learned previously; Paul – Rom.15.15, 1 Cor. 15.1; John – 1Jn.2.2; Peter – 2Pet.1.12,13, 3.1; Jude – v3. Brethren who teach the saints should not undervalue teaching that repeats truths previously taught. There is a constant need for freshness in ministry, but we should not fall prey to the carnal desire to be novel. The basis of effective teaching is repetition.
(ii) His Ministry in the Gospel. Frequently when Paul mentions his service for the Lord, we see that he never compartmentalized his service into preaching to sinners and teaching to saints. He viewed his service for God in the widest possible sense as "ministering the gospel of God." Repentance, conversion and holy living were all connected together in his thinking and preaching. The man was totally absorbed in his ministry; 1.1 – "separated unto the gospel of God;" 15.16 – "ministering the gospel of Christ;" 16.25 "my gospel." Paul views his service in the gospel as priestly service – that is the word he uses for "ministering." God-ward it was priestly – it placed the demands and requirements of priestly service upon him, and as a sacrifice it was acceptable to God. Man-ward it was to the Gentiles. His priestly service found an outlet in the blessing of darkened Gentiles.
(iii) His Ministry to the Gentiles. As Paul preached to the Gentiles, all his gifts and abilities were offered to God as a spiritual sacrifice. Only a man living in the good of the consecration of 12.1 could make such a statement. Those Gentiles who responded to his preaching were an offering to God, which was acceptable, having been sanctified by the Holy Spirit. If Paul thought it necessary to remind the saints in Rome of these truths, how much more so in our day. The only preaching that will be acceptable to God is that which is carried out in the power of the Holy Spirit. Could we not learn that preaching the gospel is not a theatrical performance designed to excite the emotions of the sinner? Preaching that God blesses is not clever homiletics designed to impress the minds of the saints. Plenty of books have been written about effective preaching and soul winning, and while they are helpful in some ways, we must strive in our preaching for what is acceptable to God. We should have little interest in merely what "produces results." The gospel is not a commodity to be subjected to better distribution methods. The power of God in the gospel is not a force, the use of which can be refined or tuned by the preacher to be more effective. It is a God given message to be preached in the fear of God and with the help of His Holy Spirit.
—to be continued (D.V.)
by J. A. Davidson (Northern Ireland)
PAPER 6 — AMBASSADOR : AMBASSADORS FOR CHRIST
"We preach Christ crucified," 1Cor.1.23. "We preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the (as) Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus sake," 2Cor.4.5. Those who carry the glorious message of Christ crucified, 1Cor., and Christ glorified, 2Cor., are defined by the Apostle Paul as ambassadors. "Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God," 2Cor.5.20.
An Ambassador is a representative living abroad promoting the interests of his or her homeland. While absent from home it is the responsibility of the Ambassador to bear the dignity and honour of representing his or her country in a foreign land. The reception of the Ambassador will depend on whether that land is friendly or hostile toward his or her fatherland. The Ambassador will be granted diplomatic immunity but must not while in a foreign land, interfere in its internal politics, marry one of its subjects or practice its religion.
The dignity of the Ministry of Reconciliation to which we are called, 2Cor.4.6-5.21, is seen in the radiance which comes from God Himself. "For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the Glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ," 2Cor.4.6. The seals of office are bestowed upon the Ambassador by the highest authority of his sovereign state. God alone, is the Originator of this illumination, this penetrating light, the revelation of the Father in the Son, the full revelation of true knowledge in the Person and Presence of Jesus Christ. The apostle uses this investiture as the clinching reason why there is no room for pride or self esteem. "But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us," 2Cor.4.7. We have considered the Body and its activities in Paper 5 of this series. Here we have the great ministry of the Gospel, the greatest message in the weakest vessel, the body likened unto an earthenware vase. Human weakness presents no barrier to the purpose of God. It is more important that this vessel be clean than clever.
1) THE MERITS OF THE AMBASSADOR: FOUND "IN" CHRIST. "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new," 2Cor.5.17. The first credentials are what we obtain in Christ at conversion which is manifest in a new nature, new love and new desires as we now represent a new Master and a new Homeland. We rejoice that Heaven is our Fatherland but it has pleased Him to leave us down here, strangers away from home, pilgrims going home, we no longer have citizenship down here. It is sad if we live our lives as earthdwellers.
2) THE MANNERS OF THE AMBASSADOR: ABSENT "FROM" THE LORD. "Whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord," 2Cor.5.6. We are absent from the Lord but as representing His interests down here we will discover that as He was hated so we shall bear reproach. If an Ambassador of Her Majesty’s Government is sent to India or a representative of the U.S. Government is sent to China, he does not become a citizen of India or China. The Ambassador’s language, customs, food and way of living will be in keeping with his standing, status and state. At any formal or civic function it will be obvious by his dress what country he represents. The following chapter, 2Cor.6.14-16, shows that the believer should be separate from the world: the ‘unrighteousness’ of its commercial corruption; the ‘darkness’ of its political crisis; the ‘Belial’ of its material conflicts; the ‘infidel’ (unbeliever) and his moral chaos; the ‘idols’ of the world’s religious confusion.
"We’re not of the world that fadeth away,
We’re not of the night but children of day,
The chains that once bound us by Jesus are riven,
We’re strangers on earth and our home is in Heaven."
3) THE MOTIVE OF THE AMBASSADOR: ACCEPTED "OF" CHRIST. "Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of Him," 2Cor.5.9. The Ambassador representing his country among a foreign people, will share the esteem or hatred of his homeland. We are in a very hostile environment, governed by the god of this world, controlled by the powers of darkness. Its principles are evil, its practices are sinful and its propaganda is vehemently opposed to the Kingdom we represent. It is not for us to accommodate, compromise or try to fit in with such an environment but set our sights with singleness of eye to please Him Who hath called us out of such darkness into His marvellous light.
4) THE MISSION OF THE AMBASSADOR: LIVE "UNTO" CHRIST. "The love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge if one died for all, then were all dead: and that He died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto Him which died for them, and rose again," 2Cor.5.14-15. The Ambassador and his embassy are part of his own country located in a foreign country. His sole function is to represent the interests of his sovereign state and fellow citizens for the entire duration of stay in that country until recalled home. Our service is with single eye to the Glory of our risen Lord.
5) THE MINISTRY OF THE AMBASSADOR: CONVEYED "THROUGH" CHRIST. "All things are of God who hath reconciled us to Himself by (through) Jesus Christ and given us the ministry of reconciliation," 2Cor.5.18. If the Ambassador is to convey messages he must know the mind of his sovereign state. He must keep in constant contact with home, the lines of communication must always be kept open so that there is no confusion or uncertainty as the position of the government he represents on any given matter. We serve through Christ to convey His Wishes, His Will and His Word. The misconceptions, prejudices and enslavements of our former unregenerate life are not to be brought over into the dignified ministry committed unto us. The work we do is to please Him, not others. The words we express have the authority of His commands. The will which we express has the authority of His Throne behind it.
6) THE MESSAGE OF THE AMBASSADOR: CARRIED "FOR" CHRIST. "Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us, we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God," 2Cor.5.20. The Ambassador may be sent to a friendly country and the execution of the diplomatic office will be a formality. On the contrary, we have to convey the message of reconciliation to a hostile world. We confront the powers of darkness, we face the enmity of the wicked, we represent God in a scene of rebellion. We carry the message of reconciliation, that there is an offer of the removal of God’s anger against sin through Jesus Christ. As representatives commissioned and sent by God, the urgent Gospel message to sinners is to accept the reconciliation offered as an answer to man’s mutiny, enmity and rebellion so that conditions of peace can be enjoyed.
7) THE MANIFESTATION OF THE AMBASSADOR: APPEAR "BEFORE" CHRIST. "For we must all appear (be made manifest) before the judgment seat of Christ," 2Cor.5.10. When diplomacy between nations fails and open hostilities are about to break out, the first move by the sovereign government will be the recall of the Ambassador, the withdrawal of the Embassy Staff and the evacuation of nationals. Soon the Day of Grace will close but before the Great Day of His wrath is come, the servants will be called home at the Rapture and the mission of gathering from the Nations a people for His Name, will close. When the service is done, the Ambassadors will be recalled. As identified with Him down here, so faithfulness will be rewarded at the Judgment Seat to reflect His Glory up there.
8) THE MORTALITY OF THE AMBASSADOR: PRESENT "WITH" THE LORD. "For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens," 2Cor.5.1. "We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord," 2Cor.5.8. When our temporary mortal service is completed we are assured of a mansion in keeping with the Service of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, eternal in nature, heavenly in sphere and present with the Lord. In the meantime as Ambassadors for Christ, we should keep in touch with Home.
—to be continued (D.V.)
by W. W. Fereday
Paper 4 — "THE FOURTEENTH DAY"
The lamb was thus to be taken out from the sheep or from the goats on the tenth day of the month; nevertheless is was not to be slain that day. "Ye shall keep it up until the fourteenth day of the same month: and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in the evening," Ex.12.6. Under this arrangement the victim was for three or four days under the immediate observation of those for whom its blood was to be shed. This finds its answer in the years of the public ministry of the Lord Jesus.
During the first thirty years of His earthly pathway He lived in the retirement of Nazareth. His perfections during those years are known to God alone. It was when He emerged into public view that John the Baptist gave utterance to that marvellous word: "Behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world." There before John’s eyes was He to whom the Paschal lamb and every other sacrifice pointed. He had come from heaven to fulfil all the types and shadows of the law. But he did not go to Calvary at that moment. He was indeed on His way thither when John beheld Him but three and a half years of ministry — matchless ministry — ran their course ere "His life was taken from the earth," Acts 8.33. He was thus as it were "taken out" on the tenth day, and "kept up" until the fourteenth. The typical picture is the more complete when we remember that His death actually coincided with the Passover feast of that year. His priestly murderers would fain have had it otherwise, fearing a tumult amongst the people, Matt.26.5; but God’s hour had struck, and the deed must be done at that time and at no other.
During His three and a half years of ministry the Saviour lived in the fierce glare of hostile criticism. No ascetic was He, as John: not in the desert was His home. He moved freely in and out amongst the people. All the facts of His life were therefore fully known. If His foes could have discovered a single flaw in Him, how it would have delighted their evil hearts! But He was God’s Holy One. The Paschal lamb was to be "without blemish;" only thus could it set forth Him who was at once holy in nature, and stainless in all His ways. At the end His judge had to say, "I find no fault in Him," Jn.19.6, and His enemies could only find the semblance of a charge against Him by bribing men to commit perjury in their court, Mk.14.55-60.
His spotless life proclaimed His fitness to die in atonement for the sins of others. Could it be proved that He was ever guilty of the smallest transgression, then salvation is impossible for any of us: for in that case He would have needed a Saviour for Himself. His years of public life demonstrated that death had no possible claim upon Him. He was thus divinely competent to take up the sin question and settle it to the eternal satisfaction of the claims of the throne of God. "Hallelujah! What a Saviour!"
—to be continued (D.V.)
by J. C. Gibson (Scotland)
An eternal redemption was obtained, v12.
What was achieved on the Day of Atonement only lasted for one year. It then had to be repeated the following year. The Saviour’s work, however, is of everlasting consequence and our salvation eternally secure.
The conscience can now be cleansed, v14.
The Old Testament sacrifices could never do this, v9. They were impotent as far as the removal of guilt was concerned. On the other hand the cross purifies our conscience and removes all trace of guilt. Believers have been made servants, v14. This word for service is similar to that used to describe priestly tabernacle service in v1,6. One of the reasons for us having been saved is in order to serve, that is to serve as priests. In 1Pet.2.5 we are described as holy priests who offer up worship to God. 1Pet.2.9 portrays us as royal priests who show forth in gospel testimony the praises of Him who has delivered us from darkness to light.
The new covenant has been established, v15.
We need to refer to Jer.31.31-40 in order to understand who this new covenant is for and what it promises. It was first and foremost for the nation of Israel. It includes the spiritual blessings of God’s law being written on their hearts, knowledge of God being bestowed upon them and the forgiveness of sins being granted. There is also the promise of national perpetuity for Israel, and the reconstruction of the city of Jerusalem. Although this new covenant is therefore primarily for Israel, we as believers in the Lord Jesus Christ anticipate its spiritual blessings. Otherwise, how can we explain the language associated with the cup, 1Cor.11.25?
Past sins were pardoned, v15.
Old testament sacrifices could never remove sins, 10.4, for they had no value in themselves. The only reason they were worth anything was because of what they anticipated — Calvary. So not only does the cross have value that stretches into the eternal future, it also has value for the past. The efficacy of the cross reaches back into the past providing pardon for sins committed under that old economy, Rom.3.25.
An eternal inheritance has been promised, v15.
An inheritance is something left to you by your parents, Pr.13.22; 19.14, but it is very short lived in comparison to what eternal benefits have been granted to us because of the cross of the Lord Jesus, 1Pet.1.4.
The universe has been purged, v23.
It is only perhaps when we begin to realise the awful effects of sin that we can appreciate the magnitude and extent of the cross. If we look at our own lives we know things are not right because of sin. If we look at the world in which we live, we see the same is true. For example, there should be no deserts in the world, Isa.35.1. Sin has affected the planet on which we live. However, according to this verse sin has actually affected the whole universe; even the stars have in some way been defiled and damaged as a result of human sin. The cross makes provision for all that is wrong in the universe because of sin to be put right and purified, Col.1.20. It is no wonder that we read in Rom.8.22, ‘For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.’ Sin was borne, v28. What the Lord Jesus did upon the cross, was to bear sin in His own holy, spotless body, 1Pet.2.24. We can contrast this with the function of the scapegoat in the Day of Atonement: ‘And the goat shall bear upon him all their iniquities into a land not inhabited,’ Lev.16.22.
A new hope was introduced, v28.
On the Day of Atonement the high priest would offer the sacrifice, go into the tabernacle which, as this passage makes abundantly clear, typified heaven, and then he would come out again to the expectant people.
The Lord Jesus Christ has offered the sacrifice, entered into heaven itself, from which we now eagerly await His coming. This verse refers primarily to the earnest expectation of the godly Jewish remnant during the tribulation period, nevertheless this attitude of looking with expectancy should mark believers of this present dispensation as we wait for His return.
2. ITS CHARACTERISTICS:
a) It was bloody — blood is mentioned 12 times in this chapter. Let us never fail to appreciate how awful the cross was. Violent men mistreated our Lord Jesus. His perfect body was battered, bruised and lacerated, after which He was nailed to the cross, experiencing untold pain. Once He had died, a soldier pierced His side, so that blood and water flowed out, Jn.19.34. The cross could certainly be described as a Trinitarian activity, v14. All three persons of the Godhead were intimately involved in the great work of redemption.
b) It was voluntary — the Lord Jesus ‘offered Himself,’ v14. Victims of crucifixion had to heave themselves up, taking all their weight on the legs and feet in order to breathe. To hasten the dying process the soldiers would break their legs so they could no longer lift themselves up any more thus causing suffocation. When they came to the Lord Jesus Christ He was already dead, Jn.19.13, having given up His own life voluntarily. Of course not only His death but all the events leading up to the crucifixion were allowed to take place by Christ. In the garden of Gethsemane He made it quite clear that He went with the soldiers because He willed it and not because of any human force, Jn.18.6.
c) It was necessary, v16,23. The word for covenant doubles up to refer also to a final will or testament. vs16,17 form a parenthesis arguing that if someone leaves a will he must first of all die before the person to whom it is left will benefit. In the same way the Lord had to die for the new covenant to be established.
The work of the Lord Jesus on the cross was in one sense introductory, v24. On the Day of Atonement the high priest entered into the holiest of all on the behalf of Israel. The cross has introduced the Lord to a new work of appearing in the presence of God for us. He ever lives to make intercession for us.
d) There was finality, v25,26. In contrast to the Old Testament high priest having to make atonement freshly every year, the work of Christ was a once and for all work, never needing to be repeated, ‘It is finished,’ Jn.19.30.
e) It was also climatic, v26. All of eternity and history looked forward with eager expectancy to the cross*.
The cross acts as a means of explanation, v26 — ‘He hath appeared.’ The cross explains the incarnation. The Son of God became Man in order to die at Calvary.
* ‘The cross was ever in view in the eternal counsels of God in the past; it is ever before Him, and always will be, in the ages to come … The work of the cross thus forms the pivot of all God’s counsels and acts in regard to man and to creation at large.’ (W.E. Vine).
by Jim Burnett (Scotland)
"Whatsoever He saith unto you, do it." These words are spoken by Mary in Cana of Galilee and can be divided into four sections:
1. "Whatsoever" = VARIETY:
2. "He saith" = AUTHORITY:
3. "Unto you" = INDIVIDUALITY:
4. "Do it" = RESPONSIBILITY.
We note that Mary uttered these words at a wedding. We do not know who the happy couple were but for them it was a new chapter in their lives. Every new beginning requires His approval and it was to their credit that they invited Jesus and His disciples. No better start could have been made. It is vital that all young couples who are about to become, "heirs together of the grace of life," 1Pet.3.7, give Him His rightful place in the home. Make sure the union is blessed and enriched by His presence. Acknowledge the Lordship of Christ and read and pray together daily. They who pray together stay together. Fellowship with the Lord is so necessary to carry us through the joys and sorrows of life. Circumstances in our day have made it necessary to make a few observations about marriage.
A) Marriage must be "in the Lord" — That is really the only qualification for marriage. "In Christ" is good but it is not enough. After salvation it is the greatest decision a person will ever make. The choice of a life’s partner must be made a matter of prayer to ensure we have the mind of the Lord in this matter. To get the right partner will lead to great blessing.
A young girl at school in Scotland was asked to write an essay on marriage. She came to her grandfather and asked, "Is marriage a noun or a verb?" The old man answered, "It is neither, it is a sentence!" While we smile, his answer was right. It is either a sentence of love, joy and unity or one of sorrow and continual bickering. We may well add that it is a life sentence. The only thing that severs the marriage bond is death or the Lord’s coming.
We were taught years ago — before marriage — FIDELITY:
— after marriage — FAITHFULNESS.
This may sound dated in these modern times but it expresses the mind of God.
Let young men in particular, note that there must be no playing the field, no flippant lifting and laying. Please treat young sisters kindly and gently and with the utmost propriety, "the younger as sisters, with all purity," 1Tim.5.2. The former editor of this magazine, our esteemed brother AMS Gooding, once observed that those who flirt before marriage tend to do so after marriage.
B) Marriage is neither a Christian nor a Jewish Institution — it is Creatorial. It was given at the dawn of human history. It does not matter who the person is — a film star, an ordinary person, or one in assembly fellowship, the word of God teaches, "What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder," Matt.19.6, Mk.10.9.
C) Grace never makes an Unrighteous Act Right. There are those who teach that ‘salvation wipes the slate clean.’ They tell us that if divorce took place before salvation then the person is to accepted to the fellowship. We respond on the authority of the word of God "No! A thousand times No!"
Now to our four thoughts on the verse.
1. VARIETY:- "Whatsoever"
Our God is a God of variety. What He wants you to do may be different from what He wants me to do. Some are sent abroad, others remain at home. Some are sent across the sea and other across the street. We will only be fully useful when we are where the Lord wants us to be.
We note the Bible opens with different men with different exercises:
Abraham — he built four ALTARS:
Isaac — he dug four WELLS:
Jacob — he raised four PILLARS:
Joseph — he wore four GARMENTS.
We should not try to mimic anyone else. Just be yourself and serve God in your own sphere.
2. AUTHORITY:- "He saith"
It is worthy of note that in all the writings of John a voice is to be heard.
In the Gospel it is the voice of the Son of God, "Verily, Verily;". In his first epistle it is the voice of the saint of God, "If any man saith … He that saith;" In the Revelation it is the voice of the Spirit of God, "He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith …"
The thing that really matters is what does He say. What others say does not matter. Just to clarify that statement, it is important that we listen to our parents and elders in the assembly and obey them, but in the final analysis it is what the Lord says that overrides all else.
It was a moment of crisis. The wine had run dry and all was left to Him. Mary did not tell Him what to do. He knows best and can handle every situation if we will submit to Him, the Sovereign Lord of Glory, is able to do "all things well."
3. INDIVIDUALITY:- "unto you."
Some times in ministry we hear a timely word of correction, warning or instruction and we look around the company hoping that sister ‘A’ or brother ‘B’ is listening. But what about me? Am I listening to and for the word of God. David said, "Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting," Ps.139.23,24. May we do the same.
When John Nelson Darby asked his father what could be done about the low spiritual tone of his day, his father replied, "Make it better by one man." Let us keep our own doorstep clean.
4. RESPONSIBILITY:- "do it."
The word of God should be obeyed.
When we see a commandment – do it:
When we see an example – follow it:
When we receive instruction – obey it.
Ministry meetings should not become social occasions. While it is good to see the saints and enjoy their company and fellowship, we are there to meet with God. In Ps.19.11 the Psalmist refers to the precepts of God and states, "in keeping of them there is great reward." Note, not in knowing them, but in keeping them. The Saviour said to His disciples, "If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them," Jn.13.17. Spiritual joy is to be realised in the doing of the Word. Jms.1.25, "But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed."
by David Richards (Canada and Russia)
I was born shortly before World War II, in Victoria, BC, Canada. My father was in the Canadian Navy, and was away most of the time, especially once the war started. I can never remember having a father and mother together in the home. After the war my parents divorced, and my father was given custody of my two older sisters and myself. At the end of 1947 he took all three of us to Wales, from where he had come. I would not see my mother again for over 26 years.
In 1956 I joined the British Army, and in 1957 was sent to Cyprus. It was here that I first heard the gospel. I was in Karaolos Camp for over two years. In this camp the MMG (Mission to Mediterranean Garrisons) had a canteen where one could buy food and sit around reading magazines. On Sundays the canteen was closed, and a gospel service was conducted there instead. Eventually someone prevailed on me to attend one of these gospel services. I don’t recall anything that was said, but afterwards we had "tea." This was certainly more enjoyable than anything I could get at the army canteen, so I started attending the gospel meetings regularly. On a Monday evening a Bible study was held in a small trailer, next to the canteen. I never attended these Bible studies, but often went past the trailer on the way to the canteen. One Monday evening, as I was passing the trailer, I noticed a young Irish soldier sitting in the trailer. He had only recently come to the camp, but was already attending the Bible studies. So I felt shamed into going to the Bible studies as well. At the time they were studying John’s Gospel. Little by little the truth of the gospel sank in. One Monday evening, when I would normally be attending the Bible studies, I was put on guard, and in the early hours of Tuesday morning in September 1958, in a radar compound, overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, I got down on my knees, and trusted Christ as my Saviour. Although I actually understood very little at the time, a joy filled my heart at that moment that has never really left me.
In June 1959 I returned home to the UK, and was shortly thereafter demobilised. I returned to Treorchy, in South Wales, where I had been brought up, and returned to a little denominational church that I had joined not long before joining the army. I went there for three consecutive Sundays, and never heard the gospel. So I wrote the church elders a letter, explaining that I was leaving because the gospel was not preached. During the course of that week I had a light meal in a little café. As I bowed to give thanks, I was observed by an older man, who came over and asked if he could sit with me. I soon discovered that he was a Christian, and that he attended the local Gospel Hall. I had come across "Brethren" (as some call them) in the army, and was very attracted by their practices. That Saturday evening a missionary from Cyprus was going to give a report of his work. I had actually met the man in Cyprus. So I went to the meeting that evening, and from then on never went anywhere else. In August that year I was baptised, and very quickly was received into the assembly. The assembly in Treorchy was very small (and still is), but the believers knew why they were where they were, and were very well taught in the Scriptures. I owe a great deal to what they taught me (and especially Mr. Eddie Griffiths) in those early days.
Much could be said about the intervening years, but space will not permit. In March of 1974 I moved, with my wife, Elizabeth, and our three young children, to British Columbia, from whence I had come. I had been exercised about the work of the Lord since I had been saved for about three years. There were times when I thought I was ready to go into the work, but my brethren felt otherwise. I believed in being subject to the overseers of the assembly, so I submitted to their judgment. It was not until I had been saved seventeen years that the Lord opened the door. No doubt there were lessons I had to learn that would stand me in good stead in the future. When we came to Canada I found work in Abbotsford, BC, and we were received into the assembly there. But the following year I found myself unemployed due to the state of the economy at the time. Elizabeth suggested that I speak to the brethren in Abbotsford about my exercise for the Lord’s work. When I expressed my exercise to them they were happy for me to do the Lord’s work, and to give me a letter expressing their approval, but that I was "on my own charges," due to only having been in the assembly just over a year.
We lived in Abbotsford, BC, for 20 months, eventually moving to Kamloops in December 1975. While in the UK I had noticed this place on the map and that there was no assembly there. We had moved to Kamloops with a view to seeing souls saved and an assembly planted. At first the work was very discouraging. In our first nine months in the city I had had many children’s meetings, home Bible studies, a Saturday evening gospel meeting, which was advertised in the local paper, and nine weeks of tent meetings. But we could not speak of a single soul that had trusted Christ, or that was even showing some interest in the gospel. I was asked by a sister in Westbank, where we were then in fellowship, if we were intending to return to Abbotsford. I said, "No, I believe that God has work for us in Kamloops." Shortly after we saw our first soul saved. Then two weeks later another soul was saved (the husband of the first). At the time I had spoken to the sister in Westbank I didn’t even know that these folk existed. Shortly after we saw others saved, and in March 1977 I had the joy of baptising eight believers. In August 1977 ten of us gathered together in our home to remember the Lord for the first time.
It was at this time that I approached the brethren at Westbank about the possibility of receiving a letter commending me to the work of the Lord. They gave their full consent, and shortly thereafter I received a letter of commendation to the work of the Lord. Since coming to Russia I have also received a letter confirming my fitness for the Lord’s work from the assembly in Kamloops.
There are presently 32 believers in the assembly in Kamloops. Again, a great deal could be said about how the Lord enabled us to build our own Hall, with support from many sources, without ever making our needs known to men. By the time the Hall was completed in April 1979 we didn’t owe a penny on it. Praise God!
During the years that followed, I at first spent most of my time trying to build up the little work in Kamloops, but then gradually spent less and less time there, in order for the saints to get used to doing without me. For years I travelled around Canada and the United States, mostly in the west, seeking to teach the Word of God in the various assemblies. I developed the conviction that I should restrict my movements, in order to maximise my usefulness. So I started spending most of my time in BC and the State of Washington. In 1996 I was attending the Easter Conference in Vancouver. During one of the intervals I met the late George Osachoff who asked me If I would go to Siberia with him. After some thought and prayer, and a conversation with Jim Currie of Japan, I decided to go with him. The opportunity did not come until April 1997. George and I spent a month with the little assembly in Surgut, in northern Siberia. I very much enjoyed the time, speaking for the whole month on New Testament Church Principles. However, when we left I still did not know what the future held for me as far as Russia was concerned. The following year I went again, with Louis Smith, of Jackson, MI. This visit was for seven weeks, the first two being spent in Ukraine. Then most of our time was spent in Severouralsk and Volchansk in the Ural mountains. As we were leaving Severouralsk, a number of the believers came to see us off at the railway station. Their expressions of affection changed my life, and I knew that Russia was where the Lord would have me be.
Since 1999 my wife, Elizabeth, has travelled twice a year with me to Ekaterinburg, where we spend most of our time and where we rent an apartment all year round. We have been coming here for three to ten months at a time. At 62 years of age I am trying to learn a foreign language. My interpreter is also my tutor. By the grace of God I want at least another 20 years to serve Him in this land. There is no assembly in Ekaterinburg, a city of 1.5 million souls, but there is a little group of believers I am seeking to teach. Also from September to May I have the privilege of teaching the Bible in two schools, to 6 or 7 grades of children, in the nearby town of Pishma. I also take charity money to three institutions in Pishma (shortly also to one in Ekaterinburg). This has opened doors for the gospel in this area. My wife and I have a close affection with two blind teenage girls from the School For the Sight-Impaired in Pishma. We look to the Lord to see these dear young ladies saved. Please pray that the Lord will completely open the door to Russia, and that we will have complete freedom to preach the gospel and teach the truth of God.
I might add that I saw my father saved when he was 68 years of age, and my mother was saved three months before her 90th birthday, 12 days before she died.
I remember when only a boy, my father calling me to him and challenging me, yea, accusing me of a particular action. I was, of course, guilty, and had brought displeasure to him. Yet, at the time I thought no one knew. I had sought to do my best to conceal the thing. I had not confided in many. However, someone had seen me, reported me and I was found out. I expect there are some reading this paper and your mind is now going back to incidents in your life when you too were found out. To be found out by parents, colleagues, friends, family, etc. may be embarrassing and bring temporary pain but there is a far bigger issue at stake and that is to be found out by God.
The Bible states, "…ye have sinned against the LORD: and be sure your sin will find you out," Numbers 32.33. When he sinned in the garden of Eden, Adam hid among the trees seeking to hide from God but he was found out, see Genesis 3. In Joshua 7 there is the story about a man called Achan who thought he had committed the perfect crime, but he was found out. None can escape being found out. There was a company of men and they had to exclaim, "or how shall we clear ourselves? God hath found out the iniquity of thy servants…" Genesis 44.16. We could continue with such illustrations but when we remember we are dealing with the omnipresent, omnipotent, all wise, all seeing God then we must acknowledge that we too will be found out.
You may think that you can be different and escape any dealings with God, but we are reminded, "Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in His sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of Him with whom we have to do," Hebrews 4.13. His sight is undeterred, undiverted and there is no way we can cover our lives from Him. Three times in the book of Revelation we are told that His eyes are "like unto a flame of fire," 1.14, 2.18, 19.12.
The consequence of being found out is dreadful. We will meet God in our sins and that will demand His judgment which is eternal. The picture is bleak and foreboding. Is there any way that our sins can be covered from His eye? The Psalmist knew a way for he could say, "Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered," Psalm 32.1. Again, "Thou hast forgiven the iniquity of Thy people. Thou hast covered all their sin," Psalm 85.2.
How can this be so? There is only one basis and that is the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, the Son of God who died for our sins upon the cross of Calvary. He had no sins but "Christ died for the ungodly … Christ died for us … Christ died for our sins," Romans 5.6,8; 1 Corinthians 15.3. The possibility of your sins being covered has been provided by God and you are invited to take this to yourself by believing in the Lord Jesus Christ. You can reject it and try to substitute a covering of your own but God says, "Woe to the rebellious children, saith the LORD, that take counsel, but not of me; and that cover with a covering, but not of my spirit, that they may add sin to sin," Isaiah 30.1. Also, Proverbs 28.13, "he that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy."
You can enjoy the blessings of an eternal shelter by trusting in the blessed One who died to bring salvation. Isaiah 32.2, "a man shall be as an hiding place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest; as rivers of water in a dry place, as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land."
He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life
If all the "shalls" in Scripture meant "perhaps,"
And all the "haths" meant simply "hope to have,"
And all the "ares" depended on an "if,"
I well might doubt.
But since our Saviour-God means what He says,
I trust His faithful Word and know that I
Shall surely dwell throughout eternity
With Him whose love led Him for me to die.
"The course of this world." (Ephesians 2:2)
Mark yon broad and rapid stream!
Brilliant though its surface seem,
Mingling in its depths below
Poisonous currents surely flow.
Christian parent, pause to think
On that treacherous river’s brink,
Ere you launch your tiny bark
On those waters deep and dark.
Yours the path of Jesus here;
Seek it for your children dear.
Though you cannot life impart,
Cannot bow the stubborn heart,
Do not help to weave a chain
You would gladly break again.
Shall not He Who for you died
Food and raiment still provide?
He who has your children given,
He can bless for earth and heaven.
Seek then first His holy will,
Seek His pleasure to fulfil,
Constant still in faith and prayer
That this blessing they may share.
And when by the Spirit’s power
Comes the gladly welcomed hour,
When the lips you love so well
Of a Saviour’s grace shall tell,
They will have no cause to say
That you turned their feet astray;
Rather, from their earliest youth
Taught and nurtured in the truth,
May their light unhindered shine,
To the praise of grace divine.
From ‘A Bundle of Myrrh’ by J. Jones
We gather in Thy Name
To celebrate Thy love,
And here to ponder once again
What drew Thee from above.
O thought confounding grace,
What will not love devise?
For Adam’s lost and helpless race
The Lord of Glory dies.
How can we praise the Lord
Or reach this note in song?
The Spirit only strikes the chord
And leads the praise along.
Yet higher still we rise
To worship and adore,
For silent in the tomb He lies
To suffer nevermore.
And forth the Victor comes
With triumphs on His brow,
The highest note our ransomed tongues
Can reach, is sounding now.
Exalted to the height
Of resurrection fame,
His love is all our souls delight
Who gather in His name.
The eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and His ears are open unto their prayers.
1 Peter 3:12
Duties, burdens, worries, troubles:
They may come to me all day;
How can I prepare to meet them,
How, I ask, except to pray?
When I plan fresh undertakings,
Then this warning seems to say,
"Don’t in your own strength begin it;
First of all, about it pray."