ASSEMBLY TESTIMONY BIBLE CLASS
by J. Riddle
by R. Plant
THE RESURRECTION OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST
by J. C. Gibson
by J. Sinclair
SALVATION AND HOW TO POSSESS IT
by J. Ritchie
THE UNEQUAL YOKE – UNTENABLE
by Tony van der Schyff
by E.W. Rogers
by J. Riddle (Cheshunt)
40) "All these curses" (1)
Read Chapter 28.15-48
From "all these blessings" v.2, we now turn to "all these curses" v.15. The former are described in vv.1-14 and the latter in vv.16-68.
1) "ALL THESE BLESSINGS", vv.1-14
The blessings described in these verses rest on simple obedience. "If thou shalt hearken diligently unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to observe and to do His commandments … all these blessings shall come on thee, and overtake thee, if thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God" vv.1-2. Israel’s national life would prosper and flourish where there was obedience to the Lord, reminding us that we are to be "obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance" 1Pet.1.14.
2) "ALL THESE CURSES", vv.15-68
The curses described here result from disobedience. "But it shall come to pass, if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to observe to do all His commandments and His statutes which I command thee this day; that all these curses shall come upon thee, and overtake thee" v.15. This clear statement is expanded in vv.45-48. The passage is not easily analysed and could be regarded as a tapestry displaying recurring themes, including disease, crop failure, invasion and captivity. However, after careful reading and considerable reflection, it does seem that the section may be divided as follows:
- the Extent of the Curses, vv.15-48;
- the Intensity of the Curses, vv.49-68.
The former describes Divine judgment on Israel both before captivity, vv.16-35, and in captivity, vv.36-44. The latter graphically describes Israel’s intense suffering, particularly under siege, vv.49-57, and in dispersion, vv.59-68. While C.H.Mackintosh is undoubtedly correct in saying that this chapter is "dispensational and national", and this is particularly clear in our current verses, we must nevertheless take note of important lessons for ourselves. Rom.15.4 applies as much here as elsewhere.
A) The Extent Of The Curses, vv.15-48
The section commences, v.15, continues, v.20, and concludes, vv.45-48, with the reasons for these "curses".
a) Curses before captivity, vv.16-35
After a general introduction, in which previous blessings are completely reversed, vv.16-19, these cover "cursing, vexation (meaning, according to Gesenius, ‘commotion’ or ‘disturbance’), and rebuke (the word is only used here, and all three carry the definite article)" v.20, both disease-related, vv.21-22, and drought-related, vv.22-24, followed by the baneful effect of invasion, vv.25-35. In other words, national life would be destroyed from both within, vv.20-24, and without, vv.25-35. We must notice:
i) The general reversal, vv.16-19. We cannot avoid the stark lesson here. God is utterly uncompromising. The "blessings" of vv.3-6 are virtually matched word for word by the "cursings" here. There is no middle ground. Everything is ‘black’ or ‘white’. This reminds us that Habakkuk was so right in saying, "Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity" Hab.1.13. As king Saul discovered to his cost, there is no such thing as ‘partial obedience’ 1Sam.15.7-9,22-23. We learn here that there is no such thing as ‘partial obedience’ in national life either, and this is equally true when it comes to local assemblies. They are not free to ‘pick and choose’ when it comes to practising the Word of God, and Paul’s observation can be applied generally: "But if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the churches of God" 1Cor.11.16.
ii) The internal disintegration, vv.20-24. Disease among the people is accompanied by drought in the land. We cannot fail to notice that these are not ‘quirks of fate’ or ‘quirks of nature’, but Divinely-initiated judgments: "the Lord shall send upon thee … The Lord shall make the pestilence cleave unto thee … The Lord shall smite thee with a consumption … The Lord shall make the rain of thy land powder and dust" vv.20,21,22,24. We must also notice their persistence. The word "until" occurs five times: "until thou be destroyed … until thou perish quickly … until he have consumed thee … until thou perish … until thou be destroyed" vv.20,21,22,24. See also vv.45,48,51,52. God is determined. He cannot be deflected. The disease-ridden nation solemnly reminds us that outrageous conduct in the assembly at Corinth resulted in sickness and death, 1Cor.11.30. It would be very unwise to say that ‘this doesn’t happen today’. We must notice the words, "the wickedness of thy doings, whereby thou hast forsaken Me" v.20. To forsake God’s word is to forsake God Himself. Compare Gal.1.6.
With "consumption (‘wasting away’) … fever (rendered ‘burning ague’ in Lev.26.16) … inflammation (‘burning’ or ‘burning fever’: the word is only used here) … extreme burning (the word is only used here: evidently referring again to fever)" comes "the sword … blasting … mildew" with "powder and dust" instead of rain. Instead of opening "His good treasure" (the heavens) "to give the rain unto thy land in his season" v.12, the land would become a dust-bowl. Disobedience can make our lives, and assemblies, just like that: a veritable wilderness bereft of Divine blessing. Only "obedient children" can expect the Lord to "come down like rain upon the mown grass: as showers that water the earth" Ps.72.6.
iii) The external oppression, vv.25-35. Perhaps the reference to "the sword" v.22, hints at what follows. Moses now anticipates defeat, occupation and deportation at the hands of the enemy. "The Lord shall cause thee to be smitten before thine enemies: thou shalt go out one way against them, and flee seven ways before them and shalt be removed into all the kingdoms of the earth" v.25. This was certainly Israel’s experience, for example, in the book of Judges. As a result of their disobedience, "they could not any longer stand before their enemies" Jdg.2.14. The very nation which should have defeated all its enemies to the extent that they fled before them "seven ways" v.7, would leave the battlefield in full flight. Unlike Rizpah, who made sure that the birds did not alight on the bodies of her executed sons, 2Sam.21.10, there would be none to "fray" (frighten) the birds away from the bodies of the slain Israelites, v.26. The invader is helped by the internal weakness of the nation, smitten "with the botch (boil) of Egypt, and with the emerods, and with the scab, and with the itch", together with "madness, and blindness, and astonishment of heart" vv.27-28. No wonder Moses said, "And thou shalt grope at noonday, as the blind gropeth in darkness, and thou shalt not prosper in thy ways: and thou shalt be only oppressed and spoiled evermore. And no man shall save thee" v.9.
Whatever else we may learn from this, it is crystal clear that enemy incursions against God’s people are facilitated by internal weakness. How many assemblies, having forsaken the "old paths", Jer.6.16, of obedience to God’s Word have reeled in disarray when faced with moral and doctrinal evil, or turned tail and fled in the face of mounting worldliness. Not a few of God’s people today can identify with the horrifying picture painted by Moses in vv.30-33, with its result: "So that thou shalt be mad for the sight of thine eyes which thou shalt see" v.34. The hard work and accumulated spiritual wealth of years can so easily be lost. Assemblies which flourished numerically and in spiritual strength, have been successfully invaded by spiritual foes, seen and unseen, whose object, like the thief, is to "steal, and to kill, and to destroy" Jn.10.10. Many eyes "look, and fail with longing" for young people ("thy sons and thy daughters") who have gone elsewhere, v.32, and for the loss of solid and sustaining Bible teaching ("the fruit of thy land") leaving many of God’s people "oppressed and crushed alway" v.33. Failure to maintain "all the counsel of God" can only bring a bitter harvest of deterioration and weakness. The words, "and there shall be no might in thine hand" v.32, say it all. According to Ellicott’s Commentary, this means, literally, ‘thou shalt have no hand toward God’, unlike Moses in the conflict with Amalek: "And it came to pass, when Moses held up his hand, that Israel prevailed …" Ex.17.11. This brings us to:
b) Curses in captivity, vv.36-44
"The Lord shall bring thee, and thy king which thou shalt set over thee, unto a nation which neither thou nor thy fathers have known; and there shalt thou serve other gods, wood and stone" v.36. We should notice:
i) Derision, v37. "And thou shalt become and astonishment, a proverb, and a byword, among all nations whither the Lord shall lead thee." Compare 1Kgs.9.7-9; Jer.42.18; Ezek.36.20-22. We cannot miss the vivid contrast with v.10. "And all people of the earth shall see that thou art called by the name of the Lord; and they shall be afraid of thee." There is no question here of having "a good report of them that are without" 1Tim.3.7. The assembly at Thessalonica had an enviable testimony, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but "in every place" their faith in God was "spread abroad" 1Thess.1.8-10. It is nothing short of disastrous when an assembly loses its good standing in the community. Make no mistake, this can and does happen.
ii) Disappointment, vv38-42. As Ellicott’s Commentary rightly points out, "From the order of the passage it might seem that these particular troubles were to come on Israel after their captivity. And perhaps it is not accidental that something very like a fulfilment of vv.38-40 is found in Hag.1.6-11." This observation is certainly justified when we remember that although the book of Haggai, with Ezra, deals with the affairs of God’s people after their return from exile, Judah was still only a small province under the heel of the Persian Empire. A comparable passage is found in Isa.5.10. The lesson from all three passages is clear: there can be no sense of spiritual satisfaction, fulfilment or enjoyment without simple obedience to God’s Word. It is worth adding that Hag.1.9 states the reason for this disappointment and frustration: "Ye looked for much, and, lo, it came to little; and when ye brought it home, I did blow upon it, Why? saith the Lord of hosts. Because of mine house that is waste, and ye run every man unto his own house".
iii) Domination, vv43-44. "The stranger that is within thee shall get up above thee very high; and thou shalt come down very low. He shall lend to thee, and thou shalt not lend to him: he shall be the head, and thou shalt be the tail." This reverses the happy position described in vv.12-13. No further comment is necessary here, except to say that it is equally tragic when an assembly looks to the world for help, and becomes subject to human wisdom and worldly practices. Disobedience will mean that the world will be in a position to make a successful takeover bid for us.
The lesson is now spelt out in unmistakable language, vv.45-48. "Moreover all these curses shall come upon thee, and shall pursue thee, and overtake thee, till thou be destroyed; because thou hearkenest not unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to keep His commandments and His statutes which He commanded thee: and they shall be upon thee for a sign and for a wonder, and upon thy seed for ever." It is worth pointing out that Ellicott’s Commentary notes that "destroyed" does not mean ‘exterminated’. "The root meaning of the word is connected with ‘smiting’, and the idea seems to be to crush." What follows must be carefully noted. It was not only a case of failing to obey God’s Word, but failing to obey it in the right way: "Because thou servedst not the Lord thy God with joyfulness, and with gladness of heart, for the abundance of all things; therefore shalt thou serve thine enemies which the Lord shall send against thee, in hunger, and in thirst, and in want of all things: and He shall put a yoke of iron upon thy neck, until He have destroyed thee". The lesson is clear: obedience to God’s Word involves more than a sense of duty: it involves devotion as well. The ‘godly man’ finds "his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in His law doth he mediate day and night" Ps.1.2. The godliest Man of all said, "I delight to do Thy will, O My God: yea, Thy law is within My heart" Ps.40.8. As individual believers, and as companies of the Lord’s people, we should be "doing the will of God from the heart" Eph.6.6. Obedience to God’s Word as a duty, and nothing more, will soon become threadbare.
—to be continued (D.V.)
By R. Plant (England)
Paper 9 – The Value of a Special Series
One of the questions that I am often asked is "What is the real value of a special series of children’s meetings" and that would be closely followed by "How long should a special series take"? In this article we hope to outline some of the benefits of special series, perhaps point out some of the difficulties and also discuss a good suitable length of time for such a series.
Of course the main priority in any evangelical work is to try and get the wonderful gospel message to as many people as possible and to see them soundly saved. This, of course, will be much the same with an intensive effort among the children either by using the gift within the assembly or by inviting another speaker for the occasion.
The Possible Benefits
One of the main aims will be to try and recruit new children to the existing children’s work of the assembly. By focusing much of our effort into a week or fortnight of meetings we can encourage children to bring friends. The hope of course is that these new attendees will continue to come to the usual weekly children’s activities once the special series is over.
The more intensive nature of nightly meetings can be used by the Lord to keep before the children their vital need before God of their soul’s salvation and of the work of the Lord Jesus on their behalf. With this occurring nightly there may not be so many distractions crossing their path as happens during the time that passes between weekly meetings. Although the Gospel may seem simple to us, it can take time for children to understand the way of salvation and repetition helps the mind to absorb the truth of the gospel, which the Holy Spirit can use to bring to salvation. Furthermore by holding a concerted effort over a short period of time it gives the opportunity to provide the children with solid consecutive Bible teaching at their level on a nightly basis. This enables a subject to be covered in perhaps more depth than usual over a five or ten night period. Someone may take up the subject "The Person of Christ" or "The problem of sin" or "The inspiration of the Bible" and be able to give the children a really good grasp of the importance of the subject nightly as well as reinforcing what has already been taught in previous night’s lessons.
If the assembly has not yet established a schools’ work, then holding a series of meetings in the Gospel Hall can certainly be a good way to start. Schools can be contacted and informed of what the assembly has planned and enquiries made as to whether a school assembly can be arranged during the period of the meetings. If the head teacher at that time seems positive then further enquiries can be made to see if it is possible to distribute leaflets advertising the meetings to the children in the school just prior to the series commencing. Often the teachers are willing to accommodate such an approach. Hopefully the result will be that other visits to the school can be arranged following the meetings, to conduct school assemblies or get involved in some other aspect of the school’s spiritual life.
Another positive from such a time of intensive activity is that it encourages the saints to pray and results in a real spirit of harmony among the saints. It is always a great thing in any assembly to see the saints working together for the furtherance of the gospel and glory of the Lord.
Further a text can be taught a little at a time until a whole verse has been learned in a week and perhaps two consecutive verses during a fortnight. By the use of repetition the text can be deeply impressed on the child’s memory. In so doing longer or more difficult to understand words can be explained and dealt with in a suitable manner that the children can grasp.
The giving of prizes (dealt with in more detail later) can be another opportunity for the assembly to get in touch with children’s families for a prize night, held usually on the last evening when parents can be invited. Also the prize itself if chosen carefully can be used to bring the gospel right into that child’s home.
One thing that I appreciate when observing a brother taking a series of meetings is the opportunity to learn from the way he conducts the meeting. One never stops learning in any department of life. By observing how others work, how they teach and interact, I have been able to learn how to communicate with children. It is therefore helpful if you are involved in any way with children’s work to always be ready to listen and learn from other people.
Those who are gifted in children’s work and who conduct special meetings should use nothing more than what the saints who normally conduct the children’s work in that assembly can copy, make and use for themselves. The result of doing otherwise is that numbers attending the weekly assembly children’s meeting can drop very radically from the numbers attending the series. This can be because the children become disappointed at not experiencing the same degree of presentation as they had seen during the series. Thus it does behove all of us who are granted the opportunity of taking series of children’s meetings to ensure the materials that we use and the way we conduct the meetings are not done in such a way as to hinder the work because no one is able to take up the reins and carry it on after we have left.
As with any work there are always costs involved and I know this may prohibit some from holding a series of children’s meetings. I believe it a good thing for the children to have something to aim for during the time of the special effort. The thought that they will be rewarded by receiving a prize at the end as a result of collecting points or some other type of token system, usually spurs them on to be regular in attendance, learn the memory verse, bring friends and also participate in the meeting. In this regard we must think of the testimony that will be seen back home when the child arrives with the prize in hand. A poor, cheap, tacky prize reflects badly on the assembly testimony! However a good quality prize suited to the child can be greatly valued and appreciated by interested parents.
Finally, we should consider the start time of the children’s meetings. Generally start times will be somewhere between 6 and 7.00pm however occasionally some assemblies have tried a time straight after school at around 3.30 – 4.00pm. Consideration needs to be given as to whether everyone involved will be able to get to the meetings on time.
There are obviously no hard and fast rules that will answer this question and most will be a cause of assembly exercise and desire. However, I have always found that two weeks of meetings usually far outweigh the times when I have been involved in one! In conducting one week of meetings you are just getting to know the children when the meetings stop. Another thing to appreciate is that often by the end of the first week the numbers attending are increasing and interest around the area growing, when the end comes. With a fortnight you have a far better chance of learning about the children, who they are and what they are thinking, as well as having the first week in which to build up the numbers and the second in which to consolidate your teaching. Therefore may I be so bold as to suggest that assemblies who have only ever tried a one-week special effort should seriously think about the advantages of trying two weeks next time?
It can also be a good idea to have a series of children’s meetings at the same time every year as the children and the parents get used to it being organised at that time and come to expect it. There are often advantages to having meetings during the school holidays. Often a week is sufficient in these cases where parents are all too glad to have a little peace and quiet whilst their children are being catered for at the Gospel Hall.
I suppose the reader should be left to draw his own conclusions in the light of the above and his own experiences. However I believe that if we look at the positive advantages outlined above, in contrast to any difficulties that may arise, I am sure that you would have to agree that in most cases a series of meetings should result in encouragement and blessing.
—to be continued (D.V.)
By J. C. Gibson (England)
The Fourteenth Post-resurrection Appearance –
The Apocalypse (Rev.1.9-20)
A believer’s appreciation of God’s beloved Son should constantly increase, Jn.17.3; 2Pet.3.18. It was, therefore, appropriate for John to receive this revelation of Christ’s glory as an old man. Having been exiled to Patmos, "a small island, rocky and forbidding in its terrain … located in the Aegean Sea southwest of Ephesus … [and perhaps] forced to labour in the mines,"(1) with true humility the aged apostle described himself as "your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ" v.9. The ungodly may shamelessly persecute, imprison and slay believers, Act.14.22; 2Tim.3.12; Heb.11.36-38; Rev.6.9-11, "but the Word of God is not bound" 2Tim.2.9. In fact, so much of God’s revelation has been given in trying circumstances. Moses recorded the Pentateuch during Israel’s wilderness wanderings. David penned many of his psalms during times of great personal distress and the apostle Paul wrote numerous inspired letters whilst imprisoned 2Tim.4.6. Here, while suffering for his faithful testimony, John was enabled by the Holy Spirit to see the glorious resurrected Christ, v.10; Jn.16.14. This was not just for his benefit, but by committing it to writing he brought encouragement and instruction to others, v.11.
1. Walvoord J.F. "The Revelation of Jesus Christ." Moody Press, Chicago, 1966
John’s attention was suddenly arrested by a trumpet-like voice declaring, "I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last" v.11. And having turned, John saw the Lord Jesus as the Son of Man (signifying true manhood and messianic dignity, Dan.7.13) in the midst of "seven golden lamp-stands" v.12 (YLT). Each lamp-stand represented an autonomous local church v.20, precious to Christ, and expected to shine brightly (through high moral standards and gospel witness, Matt.5.14-16; Phil.2.15,) in a dark and sinful world. The Lord’s foot-length garment and girdle were reminiscent of, though not identical to, the clothing of Israel’s high priest, Exodus ch.28. Just as Aaron attended daily to the golden tabernacle lamp-stand, Lev.24.1-4, the Lord Jesus, as our great high priest, keeps a watchful eye over the needs of every local assembly. This overwhelming sight was so beyond human expression that John used a series of similes to describe it.
"His head and His hairs were white like wool, as white as snow" v.14: possibly symbolising purity and eternal wisdom, Dan.7.9. Mary had affectionately anointed His head, Mk.14.3, while others crowned it with thorns, Jn.19.2. Whereas during His itinerant public ministry the Saviour had "not where to lay His head" Matt.8.20, He finally bowed His head in death, Jn.19.30. At His glorious return Messiah will wear many crowns as "King of kings, and Lord of Lords" Rev.19.12,16.
"His eyes were as a flame of fire" v.14, signalling the penetrating gaze of omniscience, Rev.2.18,23. The Lord Jesus had repeatedly showed Himself capable of reading men’s hearts, Jn.2.24,25. He saw faith, Mk.2.5, detected unspoken criticism, Mk.2.6,7, and correctly assessed character, Jn.1.47; even accurately measuring men’s giving, Lk.21.1-4.
"His feet like unto fine brass [chalkolibanos, ‘a special purified brass alloy, almost white, used in the making of military armour and weapons’11] as if they burned in a furnace" v.15 – suggesting unassailable judgment, Rev.2.18,23. Mary "sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard His word" Lk.10.39. Roman soldiers "pierced [His] hands and [His] feet" Ps.22.16. And yet, "He must reign, till He hath put all enemies under his feet" 1Cor.15.25.
"His voice as the sound of many waters" v.15 – emphasising irresistible authority. Just as a waterfall drowns out every sound but its own, the Lord Jesus Christ, who raised the dead with a word, Jn.11.43, will have the final say.
"He had in His right hand seven stars" v.16 – representing "the angels of the seven churches" v.20. It is into these hands, which compassionately healed lepers, Mk.1.40,41, and were cruelly pierced by men, Ps.22.16, that the Father has entrusted His plans for the universe, Jn.13.3.
"Out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword" v.16, denoting the Word of God. With this Word He fights against ungodly elements in local churches, Rev.2.12-16, and will finally smite a rebellious earth, Rev.19.15.
"His countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength" v.16, because Christ outshines everything else.
John who had so comfortably "leaned on His [Jesus’] breast at supper" Jn.13.23; 21.20, now, having seen His glory, "fell at His feet as dead" v.17.
The effects and implications of Christ’s resurrection are immense, not only for the world but also for every individual saint and the collective companies of saints. May our hearts be warmed and our zeal for Him enhanced as we live in the good of this most wonderful fact. "But now is Christ risen from the dead" 1Cor.15.20.
By J. Sinclair (Scotland)
In Paper 1 we noted that the portion from 2.1-6.19 had several sub-sections:
- Prayer in House of God, 2.1-7
- Deportment in House of God, 2.8-15
- Rule in House of God, 3.1-7
- Deacons in House of God, 3.8-13
- Behaviour in House of God, 3.14-16
- Departure in House of God, 4.1-16
- Relationships in House of God, 5.1-6.19
In our studies we have reached the fourth:
iv) Deacons in House of God, 3.8-13
The word "deacon" means a servant and it is used many times for differing aspects of service. When it is used in this passage it is being used in a particular way and it shows that there are certain men in the church who serve in a specific way. From this passage and Acts 6.1-5 it is shown that they are serving in caring for temporal needs where elders care for spiritual needs. This would be seen in that those appointed in Acts 6 had to control the distribution or funds to the widows.
In the early church certain initial qualifications for deacons are listed but here in vv.8-12 the qualifications are more detailed. They have to be "grave", acting in dignity; "not double tongued" meaning that they are consistent to whomsoever they speak; "not given to much wine" and "not greedy of filthy lucre" both of which have been commented upon when dealing with elders. They have also to hold "the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience." The faith is the whole body of divine truth and doctrine, which is a Scriptural mystery, meaning that something previously hidden has now been revealed by God. It has to be held with a pure conscience. Their living has to be in agreement with the doctrine they uphold. They have then to "be proved". The word means proved with a view to approval, that is they display the qualifications and on approval, then let them serve. After scrutiny they are found "blameless" or irreproachable, are approved and so they serve.
In v.11 Paul outlines the qualifications of their wives. They must be "grave" or dignified like their husbands. They must not be "slanderers" or guilty of malicious gossip. They must be sober minded, discreet and sensible. Finally, they have to be "faithful in all things." This not only covers spiritual matters but involves keeping the confidences of individuals. These qualifications of wives of deacons are indicating that the confidential nature of the work of deacons is maintained by their wives.
Paul concludes the qualification of deacons in v.12 with the same conditions attached to elders in relation to being the husband of one wife and ruling well in his own house.
In v.13 Paul deals with the honour attached to this service. They that serve as deacons well, gain for themselves a good standing, that is honourable esteem from the assembly and favour with God. In addition, they gain "great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus." This means having confidence and boldness in making the faith known. This is in agreement with holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience in v.9.
v) Behaviour in House of God, 3.14-16
Here Paul states the overruling reason for writing this epistle. "These things write I unto thee…" All the content of the charge, covering all facets of assembly life, is written to regulate behaviour in God’s house.
He highlights the importance of such behaviour. It does not depend on his presence personally. If he was not able to come to them as he intended, he wrote to ensure that behaviour would be exercised even in his absence. The verse is not a personal instruction or condemnation of Timothy’s behaviour but is an instruction generally to all as to how it is necessary to behave in God’s house.
This behaviour has to be practised in the assembly, pictured here as God’s house. The place where God’s rule has to be maintained and His authority recognised, each local assembly is God’s house. That should govern our behaviour. The solemnity is emphasised by the expression "church of the living God." The church is composed of called out ones who are God’s possession and linked with "the living God". They are the possession of the Living God. God dwells amongst them. He is alive, cares for them and sees all that goes on. The "house of God" has a particular responsibility to the truth of God – it is the "pillar" of truth, as a column supporting the weight of a building. Thus the local assembly supports, upholds or maintains the truth. The truth being all the revelation of God. It is also the "ground" of truth. Here it is the stay or bulwark of the truth. It defends against or wards off all opposition to the truth.
The detail of the truth to be supported and defended by each assembly is taught. He shows that the truth embraces "the mystery of Godliness". It is "without controversy", it cannot be contradicted. It is "great", the truth being enunciated is important, it is weighty. This truth is a Scriptural "mystery." It was made known at a particular time appointed by God and apprehended by Divine revelation. Having shown the truth is "the mystery of Godliness" as embodied in the Lord Jesus Christ, Paul gives the details of that Godliness – it "was manifested in the flesh." Godliness was manifested in His incarnation. He was God manifested in flesh. He was "justified in the Spirit", that is He was vindicated in His Baptism, His Character, His Deeds, His Words, and His Transfiguration. "Seen of Angels", referring particularly to the witness of angels in seeing Him ascending right into the presence of His Father when He carried glorified Manhood right into Heaven itself. "Preached unto the Gentiles" – He who was God incarnate, who rose in triumph was preached by apostles and others as the only way to God not only to Jews but also to Gentiles. "Believed on in the world" – He was preached to all and was received by faith by those who heard and they were fitted for heaven. "Received up in glory" – He has been welcomed by God and given glory. He who is God incarnate has been glorified at God’s right hand.
A true appreciation of Christ is that which governs our behaviour and our responsibility to be the pillar and ground of the truth as assemblies of God’s people.
—to be continued (D.V.)
By J. Ritchie
Some saints are afflicted with doubts regarding the possession of salvation and this new series is designed to highlight the truth of assurance. These papers are taken from an old (undated) book called "Salvation and How to Possess it," published by J. Ritchie
Assurance or, How I know that I am saved
"I do not believe that anybody can know whether they are saved or not, in this life. We must all hope for the best, and wait till the Judgment Day for the result." The speaker was a learned and pious gentleman, a church member, and known throughout the place of his residence as "a sincere Christian." But he did not know whether he was saved or not, nor would he believe that anyone else could know. This is a pretty common condition, even among people who claim to be Christians, and who would be horrified if anyone dared to question their right to the name. But a Christian in the Bible sense of that word, is one who has believed the Gospel, turned to the Lord, has been converted as we say, and is called a Christian, because he is one. This is clearly shown in the Scriptures (see Acts 11.20-26), in which the word "Christians," as applied to disciples of Christ, first appears in the Bible. A Christian, as the Word of God presents him, is one who has Christ as his personal Saviour, who is "in Christ," Rom.8.1, 16.7, who confesses Christ as his Redeemer and Lord, Rom.10.9, and who is saved by Grace, Eph.2.8, here and now. The great mass of professors of Christianity do not claim to be saved; and most of them would sneer if you told them that the Gospel was sent to give all who believe it a present knowledge and assurance of their salvation. Yet they "hope to be saved," somehow, and would be very angry indeed, if any questioned their right to entertain such a hope. The whole subject is "in a fog" to them, and very much of the preaching of the present time tends to keep it there. The Book of God gives a full, definite clear-ring testimony to the following three great facts:
- The Gospel is God’s Message of a present Salvation to all mankind.
- The Way of Salvation is through a personal Faith in Jesus Christ alone, as Redeemer and Saviour.
- The Assurance of Salvation comes by believing what God has said in His Word of all who do thus receive Him.
THE GOSPEL OF SALVATION
The Gospel is God’s Good News of a present Salvation, procured by Christ’s death and resurrection, proclaimed to all, without money and without price. It is for sinners as they are, here and now.
The Way of Salvation is by faith, that is, reliance on the Lord Jesus Christ, who is "mighty to save." None ever relied on Him, and trusted in Him, to perish. And none ever believed the Gospel — God’s good news to sinners — without being saved by grace, Eph.2.8, and set in grace, to rejoice in hope of glory, Rom.5.2. Let the reader apply all this to himself, appropriating Christ as his personal Saviour, believing and receiving the Gospel with the blessings it brings. You are not only invited, but "commanded" 1Jn.4.23, to believe, and besought by God to be reconciled to Him through the death of His Son, Rom.5.9. He will do no more for your salvation than what He has already done. The Gospel is His last message of grace to sinners. Now is His "day of salvation," 2Cor.6.2. To reject, despise, or neglect it is to perish eternally. For after grace, comes the Judgment. And when the Lord Jesus, who is now the Saviour, becomes the Judge, and appears in flaming fire to take vengeance, it will fall first on them that "know not God," and that "obey not the Gospel" 2Thess.1.8.
The Assurance of Salvation comes to the believing soul through the written Word of God, received in faith as the very Word of Him "who cannot lie," without sign, without feeling within, just as "Abraham believed God, and it was counted to Him for righteousness" Rom.4.3.
Let us look at three groups of words from God to all believing sinners, just as true today as they were when first written, and to us as to them. They are true this day of all without exception, whose faith, that is, whose trust, is in the Lord Jesus alone for salvation. The first is
- "By grace ye are saved" Eph.2.8.
- "Your sins are forgiven you" 1Jn.2.12.
- "All that believe are justified" Acts 13.39.
- "Now are we the sons of God," 1Jn.3.2.
The word "are," in these Scriptures, means here and now. It cannot be made to mean sometime still in the future, but a present fact to be believed and enjoyed in personal experience. There is no place for doubt, for God is the Speaker and He surely knows what He has done. For the salvation which is of grace, is "the salvation of God" Acts 28.28. He provided it and He sent it. The justification that the believing soul receives is from Him also, for "it is God that justifieth" Rom.8.33. None else can. And it is God Himself, who says to all who have been born again — "Ye are all the children of God, by faith in Christ Jesus" Gal.3.24. Had it been a man, or an angel who said this, we may well have wondered if it could be true. But when it comes direct from God Himself, there is no room for doubt. If God says to me, sinner as I am, that in virtue of the sacrifice and work of Christ, on which my faith relies, I am saved, I am forgiven, I am His son, I am to believe it, just because He says it, and on the authority of His Word, my soul is assured of it and my lips confess it.
Napoleon I., riding on a spirited horse, reviewing his troops, dropped his rein. The animal dashed wildly across the field, and the emperor was in danger. A private in the ranks, close to where the animal passed, stepped out, seized the rein, passed it to the emperor’s hand, who on receiving it, said, "Thank you, captain" — making the private captain by the word. The soldier, taking the emperor at his word, saluted, and asked, "Of what regiment, sire?" The answer was quickly given, "Of my Guards." That was faith. It took Napoleon at his word, and claimed the position he had given, apart from sign or feeling. So "Let God be true" Rom.3.4. Take Him at His word, and like one of ancient time, say, "I know Whom I have believed" 1Tim.2.12. He "cannot deny Himself."
The next group, around the word "Hath," expresses what God has already given, and of what all believers already have possession.
- "God, who hath saved us" 2Tim.1.8,9.
- "God hath given to us eternal life" 1Jn.5.11.
- "We have redemption through His blood" Eph.1.7.
- "We have peace with God" Rom.5.1.
"Hath" and "have" leave no place for doubt. And it would be perverting God’s truth to make these words mean "may have," at some future time. God hath given life, He hath saved, and the believing sinner has redemption, has peace now, as present possessions. It is no humility to doubt, when God has spoken the word of certainty.
Another great word of assurance in God’s Book is "We know."
- "I know that my Redeemer liveth" Job 19.25.
- "We know that we have passed from death to life" 1Jn.3.14.
- "We know that we are of God" 1Jn.5.19.
It is often said, "I hope," but this is not a word of assurance but of uncertainty, and it is not the will of God that any should be uncertain regarding salvation. His way is "to give the knowledge of salvation to His people" Lk.1.77, and to have them say, "Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid" Isa.12.2.
If the reader desires to be saved by grace, and to have the blissful assurance of it as a present possession, let him lay hold of Christ by relying on Him by trusting in Him, by confession of Him as Saviour and Lord, believing what God says concerning all who do thus believe, and then thanking Him for His "Great Salvation."
– To be continued (D.V.)
By Tony van der Schyff (Wynberg, S. Africa)
Read: 2 Corinthians 6.14-18; 7.1
Looking at the numerics in this passage, there are 4 commands, 5 challenges and 7 promises. The 4 commands contain 2 negatives and 2 positives, namely, "be ye not unequally yoked together" and "touch not the unclean thing" as the negatives. This is followed by the positives, "come out from among them" and "be ye separate". The 5 commands all begin with the word "What" with the 7 promises commencing with the words, "I will".
Were it not that the words Paul spoke were Divinely inspired and "the commandments of the Lord" 1Cor.14.37, it would have seemed strange after assuring the Corinthian believers that his mouth and heart and bowels were open, enlarged and not straitened towards them, and that they by way of return and recompense, should not be straitened but enlarged, that the apostle should immediately proceed with a solemn warning about the dangers and disasters of the unequal yoke.
"Be ye not" comes as a clear-cut call. Not only as a principle by which our lives and our living should be guided, but also as a prohibition by which our lives as the Lord’s people should be governed. A prohibition of pertinent significance contrasted with a principle of practical sanctification. This is the doctrine of separation, not isolation! "Be ye not" v14, is contrasted with "Be ye separate" v17. The verses deal with the teaching concerning the unequal yoke – believers with unbelievers. To be unequally yoked (bound, linked, coupled together) is illustrated in Lev.19.19 and Deut.22.9-11, where the Mosaic law forbids the breeding of hybrid animals (the ox and the ass) and ploughing with such. The image is from the symbolical precept of the Law, Lev.19.19, which states, "Thou shalt not let thy cattle gender with a diverse kind" (which has to do with procreation); or the precept, "thou shalt not plough with an ox and an ass together" Deut.22.10 (which has to do with ploughing). The lesson being that the step and pull of the two beasts is unequal and untenable resulting in constant chafing and friction. Compare Deut.7.3 "forbidding marriages with the heathen (nations)" (which has to do with partnerships) as also 1Cor.7.39.
God has established a good, physical order in the world and it is not to be confounded or disfigured by the mixing of the species. This law is applied in an ethical sense in 2 Cor.6.14-18 where a wholesome, healthy moral order is set forth. The passage is commonly applied to the marriage of believers with unbelievers (Christian with non-Christian), but it undoubtedly goes much wider than this. It encompasses friendships, marriage, business, ecclesiastical associations, partnerships and other affiliations. The text prohibits every kind of union in which the separate character and interest of the believer lose anything of their distinctiveness and integrity. "The unclean thing" which we are enjoined to "touch not" v17, covers all that is in the world that is alien and foreign to God and His Word. We are in the world but not of the world! There always will be things and people to which and to whom the Christian has to say NO! The concluding moral demand, "Let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God" 7.1, will always hold good.
The Scriptural command "be ye not unequally yoked" is based on two ethical or spiritual interests in the world, both fundamentally inconsistent with each other. They imply:
- in choosing the one you must reject the other.
- there are only two kinds of people in the world, namely, those who identify themselves with one of these interests, and those who identify themselves with the other. You cannot identify with both at one and the same time! The Scripture is clear, "Can two walk together except (unless) they be agreed?"
The call to separation from the world, the flesh and the devil has become more and more problematic for professing believers in our modern day and age. Problematic, not because the Scriptures are unclear or unreasonable, but because many choose to see them as a problem and not as something pleasing to God. Many still fail to see how important and imperative this Divine requirement is in the economy of grace. There is the notion that as long as I am saved and on my way to heaven that it matters not what kind of relationships or friendships I entertain, whether in the physical, material, emotional or spiritual spheres of life. No doubt it is a notion that will not find any support in Scripture because it is entirely a conclusion that many believers arrive at themselves. They choose to disagree with Scripture. They choose to depart from the language and line of the Word of God. They choose in some cases to dilute Scripture to selfishly justify their carnal desires. They are quite willing to compromise the Word of God no matter what the consequences! The argument is always "What is wrong with it"! We believe the time has come, indeed long overdue, that the argument should be "What is right with it"! It goes without saying that the need to emphasise the truth of the unequal yoke is not only aimed at the younger generation – although there is undoubtedly a greater need of emphasis in this area of society – but for young and old alike.
Looking at the prohibitions of the unequal yoke, reminds us of the first prohibition placed by the LORD GOD upon our first parents in the garden of Eden with respect to the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, "… thou shalt not eat of it …" Gen.2.17. A prohibition onto which Satan craftily latched and which he assiduously used in all his wiliness to deceive and bring about the fall of Man through the instrumentality of the serpent. Satan has not changed. He continues to use the same tactic to deceive the hearts and minds of the ignorant and unassuming! The challenge of God’s Word is that we be "not ignorant of his devices" 2 Cor.2.11. Therefore with the prohibitions respecting the unequal yoke, Satan will try his utmost to minimise the gravity of them and to play down the seriousness of any unscriptural relationship. This is not only deceptive but disastrous for the spiritual well-being of the believer in Christ.
In the sentence "Be ye not" (Gr. translated "become not"), the emphasis must be placed squarely on the next three words "unequally yoked together". This comes from the Greek word heterozugeo [Strong 2282] unequally yoked, which is from heteros  and which means "another, different" and zugos  "a yoke". To pair together or coordinate what is incongruous, incompatible or irreconcilable (Hebrew-Greek Key Word Study Bible: S. Zodhiates). Or, "become not yoked with one alien in spirit" (Jamieson, Fausset & Brown). It is a great blessing to be yoked together in a relationship where there is equality of professions, equanimity of purpose and equilibrium of principles. Conversely, it is a very sad situation to be unequally yoked together where nothing is the same but where everything is of a different sort, causing friction and even fighting! To be together in a yoke involves walking in the same direction, minding the same things, serving the same purpose and with the same devotion. Stepping out side by side and step by step with no discordant note or dissenting voice, with no chafing and no friction, so that the outcome will ever be one of ongoing unity, harmony and felicity! The warnings about the unequal yoke in 2Corinthians chapter 6 are specifically directed at any yoking together between a believer and an unbeliever. The two are direct opposites to each other. Both are diametrically opposed to each other – or so they ought to be! How can a believer and an unbeliever mind the same things? Impossible! The believer minds the things that pertain to God; the unbeliever the things that pertain to the god of this world, Satan himself. How can a believer and an unbeliever walk by the same rule? Impossible! The believer walks according to the truth of God’s Word; the unbeliever walks according to the course of this world, Eph.2.2. And so we can go on drawing the parallels between what a believer stands for and what an unbeliever stands for. Quite simply and very clearly, the Scriptures teach a decisive separation from the world and its influences.
–To be continued (D.V.)
By E.W. Rogers (England)
It is a thing to be specially marked that prayer for the Lord’s servants is equivalent to helping them actively. Even if it be not possible to do anything more (and, of course, we should do more than pray) sincere prayer to God for them is a great help. Paul says so in 2Cor.1.11: "Ye also helping together by prayer for us." This phrase is found in a context that has to do with Paul’s perilous Asian experiences, which elsewhere he graphically describes as ‘fighting with wild beasts.’ He even despaired of his life, though he knew that if that were lost God is He who raises the dead. Still, deliverance came and the prayers of the Corinthian saints had helped to bring it. Prayer had been proved to be that mighty power "Which moves the hand that moves the world, To bring deliverance down."
The prayers offered up by many saints issued in thanksgiving to God offered by the same many: a volume of prayer had produced a volume of praise.
Paul uses a stronger word in Rom.15.30: "Strive together with me in your prayers." He felt the force of adverse powers who were ever seeking to hinder his prayers and, therefore, he urged the Roman believers to join him in the contest. It was a real contest. He was making a journey to Judea, but wondered what sort of reception he would have by the saints and how he would fare at the hands of his unbelieving fellow-nationals. His desire was that he should be delivered from the hands of the opponents, welcomed by the saints, and be able in due course to come to the saints at Rome with joy. If this programme were to be fulfilled he knew he would have to fight his way through, and he, therefore, besought these Roman believers to join him in the battle of prayer.
See what prayer can do: it can deliver out of menacing circumstances such as those in Asia: it can overcome the devices and activities of hostile foes such as those in Judea. But more, it can even release from prison confinement. Of this Paul was confid ent and, therefore, to the Philippians he wrote, 1.19: "I know that this shall turn to my salvation through your prayer and the supply of the spirit of Jesus Christ." By the word ‘salvation’ he may have had much more in view than deliverance from prison, he may have been thinking of spiritual failure. Certainly the prayers of many a saint have saved many an one from such spiritual shipwreck. But whether it be physical or spiritual, prayer need not be limited to any place or to any state. It is boundless in its scope.
The prayers of the Philippians imparted confidence to the great Apostle Paul, for note the words ‘I know.’ He uses the word that denotes inward conviction, he was confident that God would respond to the prayers of the saints seeing they needed the help of the Apostle. Therefore, later he says: "having this confidence, I know."
It was not only churches which he urged to pray for him. He wrote to Philemon, father, mother, and son, for he expected after his release from prison (to which he had alluded to the Philippians) to go to that Colossian home. The word he used, v22, is stronger than ‘trust,’ it is ‘hope.’ He does not here ask them to pray for him, he knew they were doing that, but he does ask them to supplement those prayers with appropriate action, for their prayers had begotten within his breast the confident assurance that he had procured from the hand of God as an answer of grace the desires of both Philemon and Paul and that each would be together again in due course.
Prayer has been eulogised: many have written on the topic: many sermons have been preached about it. But how many of us are like Epaphras, who did much prayer-business with God in dead earnest? Who can tell what would be accomplished were every reader of this magazine to engage himself thus. Prayer is the first prerequisite of all other aids to missionary enterprise. It will have a salutary effect upon our own spiritual life: it will direct our steps: it will unloose our purse: it will help the Lord’s servants in difficult circumstances: it will smooth their journeys: it will meet their needs: and there is no telling what prayer can do.
Conversely, if we fail in this direction who can measure the loss not only that we ourselves sustain but which we incur for those who "on behalf of the Name" have gone forth. No marvel that they constantly ask "Brethren, pray for us."
The Piper Alpha Disaster
On 6th July 1988, one hundred and sixty seven men aboard the North Sea platform perished in what remains the world’s worst offshore disaster. Just before 10pm on the night of the tragedy, a major gas leak was followed by fire and a series of explosions. The intense heat ruptured a gas pipeline from another platform causing another massive explosion and fireball that engulfed Piper Alpha. It all took just 22 minutes. The memories of that horrendous event are etched indelibly in the minds of the survivors, many of whom bear scars as vivid reminders of a night they would prefer to forget. How thankful those men are that they were saved. Some had tried to escape by plunging some 200 feet into the cold waters of the North Sea but perished.
It is always heartening to hear of people being saved from disasters, especially those dramatic rescues of people for whom hopes were fading and the likelihood of finding anyone alive were very slender.
Dear reader, are you saved? But you say, "I am not in any danger; thankfully I have never been involved in any catastrophes and I don’t need to be saved." The Bible says: "we must be saved" Acts 4.12. But why? It is because of our sin – we were all born in sin and throughout our lives we practise sin that must be punished by a holy God. Our sins have accumulated and God has recorded every one. If these sins are not dealt with righteously, we must bear the consequences. They must be forgiven and we must be pardoned or face eternal punishment, in hell and eternally in the lake of fire. How dreadful the thought!
Probably your next question is: "But, does that not conflict with the fact that God is a God of love as I have always been taught?" Absolutely not! God has devised a plan whereby the punishment we all deserved was borne by another. You may ask, "Who would be able or willing to take our place and become answerable for our misdeeds? Who would care sufficiently to volunteer to bear such a penalty?" There was only One who loved us enough to suffer in our stead and He alone could exhaust the fearful judgment that must otherwise have been our portion forever; He is God’s eternal Son. He left heaven, came to earth and after a perfect life He was nailed to the cross at Calvary and bore the punishment for sins He had not committed and paid the enormous price demanded for our pardon. The Bible confirms this in many places; "Christ died for our sins" 1Corinthians 15.3: "Christ died for the ungodly" Romans 5.6; "Christ died for us" Romans 5.8; "Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the Just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God…" 1Peter 3.18; "But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities …" Isaiah 53.5. At the end of those agonising hours, He cried out, "It is finished!" and died, John 19.30. Three days later God raised His Son from the dead to display His complete satisfaction with the work He accomplished.
Because of that one unparalleled act of sacrificial love, God can righteously offer a free and full pardon to all who are prepared to believe this message, acknowledge their guilt and trust alone the Saviour Who died in our stead. He asks for no favours in return, He demands no payment in exchange; He asks only that you accept the free gift of salvation and thank the Giver.
Then you will be saved! The Bible again confirms this: "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved…" Acts 16.31. Your name will be inscribed in the register of those who escaped eternal damnation – BUT "whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire" Revelation 20.15.
- In Job we are taught how to suffer.
- In the Song of Solomon we are taught how to love.
- (Love sweetens sorrow; sorrow strengthens love.)
- – J Douglas
God’s Shut Out Ones
- See Adam driven out in fallen state,
- Driven out and closed behind him Eden’s gate,
- And to the tree of life the way is barred
- As flaming blade and Cherub stand on guard.
- Not led out he, Driven by a Righteousness God,
- ‘Tis one way traffic on that baneful road,
- Driven out ‘tis not the Shepherd’s way we view,
- He "leads" His flock to pastures steeped in dew.
- Shut out, not one of fallen nature is exempt,
- To pass such guardians who would dare attempt?
- Shut out, love sees how hopeless is their case,
- Pity would fain all "shut out ones" embrace.
- Love could not rest till hope a plan devised,
- Righteous it must be, this justice emphasised,
- No short cuts, every scheme must be approved,
- And every hindrance righteously removed.
- "Shut out ones" need not sink in dark despair,
- Since a "Shut Out One" did not their sentence bear,
- When in darkness He did loudly cry,
- "Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani.
- Think what it meant to God’s own sinless Son,
- To be in that dark hour a "Shut Out One,"
- Darkness that n’er invaded noon before,
- When that "Shut Out One" opened heaven’s door.
- Never before did that "Shut Out One" cry,
- When in abandonment ask the reason why?
- For well He knew when veiling glory by,
- That He "shut out" would be when He would die.
- Great mystery far, far beyond our ken,
- That God should be shut out that shut out men
- Should be shut out in with Him in endless day,
- ‘Tis at such a cost all tears are wiped away.
- Soon shall the sunrise of the rapture dawn,
- When Christ’s "shut ins" shall far outshine the dawn,
- And with the sinless Saviour ever reign,
- And n’er repeat the "farewell" word again.
- Oh, cloudless day when "shut outs" all unite,
- To serve their Master in unsullied light,
- And cast their all down at the nail pierced feet,
- As round the glorified Christ they all meet.
- Now since the only sinless Man has come,
- And in this world as "Shut Out" had no home,
- Then justice for "shut outs" was satisfied
- When Jesus in the "shut outs" place had died.
- And so the loving Holy Trinity,
- Ordained the Son a "Shut Out One"would be,
- Great mystery all human thought transcends,
- That to all "shut outs" God’s free love extends.
- – By the late R. Hull (Belfast)
Scripture Outlines in Sevens
By Howard Barnes (England)
Truths about spiritual edification, i.e., building up
- Peace… wherewith one may edify another, Rom. 14. 19
- Let every one of us please his neighbour… to edification, Rom. 15. 2
- Seek that ye may excel to the edifying of the church, 1 Cor. 14. 12
- Let all things be done unto edifying, 1 Cor. 14. 26
- We do all things… for your edifying, 2 Cor. 12. 19 (also 10. 8; 13. 10)
- [Gifts] for the edifying of the body of Christ, Eph. 4. 12
- [Good] communication… which is good to the use of edifying, Eph. 4. 29
‘For ever’ truths in Hebrews
- Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever, 1. 8
- Jesus Christ the same . . . for ever, 13. 8
- An high priest for ever, 6. 20; 5. 6; 7. 17, 21, 24
- He ever liveth [always living] to make intercession for them, 7. 25
- He had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, 10. 12
- He hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified, 10. 14
- Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever, 13. 21
- It will take a crucified Church to bring before the world a crucified Christ.
- Be truthful and do not trade in unfelt truth.
- – J. Douglas
He shall be great (Luke 1:32)
- Admittedly we see not yet all things ‘neath His sway,
- Rebellious world, rampant with sin, is evident today.
- But faith knows of His coming, in God’s good time and will,
- His Christ Who’ll rule with equity and peace o’er all distil.
- ‘He shall be great’ is written, with reference to God’s Son,
- The One Who stooped, of Whom ‘twas posed, ‘Is not this Joseph’s son?’
- But though this world despised Him, rejecting Him with scorn,
- His greatness yet shall be displayed, to Him all homage borne.
- That ‘corn of wheat’, through dying, will ‘much fruit’ surely bear,
- The psalmist’s lone roof sparrow shall be surrounded there.
- Harvested souls adoring, before Him soon shall throng,
- His greatness manifested, His worth all heaven’s song.
- ‘No room’ had David’s city, in swaddling clothes He lay,
- That This One ever could be great, none could conceive that day.
- Yet room abundant for Him at God’s right hand’s now found,
- His raiment ‘white and glistering’, He sits with glory crowned.
- ‘I am a worm and no man’ the psalmist wrote, inspired,
- Nailed to that tree, accursed, our Saviour He expired.
- He? Yea ‘tis He, He only, Whom God will have supreme,
- ‘He shall be great’ was spoken, ‘twill be th’eternal theme.
- But oh to know His greatness in this God’s day of grace,
- Rejoicing in His mighty power, longing to see His face,
- May God, the Holy Spirit, to all His saints make known
- The vastness of His greatness now, that we such truth may own.
the late Frank Squires, Plymouth, (submitted by his son)