ASSEMBLY TESTIMONY BIBLE CLASS
by J. Riddle
TESTIMONY IN TROUBLOUS TIMES
by I. McKee
CHRISTIAN CONDUCT IN A MODERN WORLD
by W. A. Boyd
THE GARMENTS OF THE SAVIOUR
by J. Flanigan
REASONS FOR WRITING
by D. S. Parrack
FIVE REASONS FOR HOLY LIVING
by J. E. Todd
by S. Walvatne
MY CONVERSION AND CALL
by J. B. Yocum
by J. Riddle (Cheshunt)
8) "The Lord Loved You"
Read Chapter 7
Having reminded Israel of the covenant made with them at Sinai, ch.4-5, and told them how they were to keep it, ch.6, Moses now describes the effect of this on their relationships with the nations. The chapter commences with reference to the possession of the land. This is the recurring theme of Deuteronomy, and emphasises God’s desire for His people to possess and enjoy their inheritance. Notice that the possession of the land was never in question. "When (so there was no doubt) the Lord thy God shall bring thee into the land whither thou goest to possess it." The ongoing enjoyment of the land was a different matter! We can analyse the chapter as follows:
(1) Compromise with the nations, v1-6;
(2) Choice by God, v7-11;
(3) Conditional blessing, v12-16;
(4) Conquering the enemies, v17-26.
1) COMPROMISE WITH THE NATIONS, v1-6
The history of Israel illustrates the danger of compromise, but the pitfalls could have been avoided if due attention had been paid to these verses. God played His part in preserving His people from danger, but Israel had a role to play as well. Both are emphasised here.
A) God’s part, v1-2A
"When the Lord thy God shall bring thee into the land … And when the Lord thy God shall deliver them (the nations) before thee," v1-2. He would bring them into the land, v1, and he would dispossess the inhabitants of the land, v2. God has richly provided for us as well. We "have obtained (‘have received,’ JND) like precious faith … His divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness … whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises," 2Pet.1.14.
B) Israel’s part, v2B-6
"Thou shalt smite them … thus shall ye deal with them," v2,5. We can now complete the quotations from 2Pet.1. We have noticed what God has given. Now we must notice what we are to give. "And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue … knowledge … temperance … patience," v5-7.
Notice the pattern in these verses: i) A directive, v2-3, followed by the reason, v4: "for they will turn away thy son from following me." (ii) A directive, v5, followed by the reason, v6: "for thou art a holy people unto the Lord thy God." The first directive related to the people themselves: the second related to their religion.
i) They were to deal ruthlessly with the people, v2-4. "Thou shalt smite them, and utterly destroy them." We must remember that the "iniquity of the Amorite" was now "full," Gen.15.16. The sword of Joshua was not the sword of military conquest, but the sword of divine judgment on the sinful nations of Canaan. Note the repetition of "Thou shalt." There was to be no compromise with the original life of Canaan, in the same way that there must be no compromise with the old life of the believer. See Col.3.5-8. Israel was to deal with the ‘old life’ of Canaan out of love for God and His Word, but it wasn’t long before they "dwelt among the Canaanites … and they took their daughters to be their wives, and gave their daughters to their sons, and served their gods," Jud.3.5-7.
These solemn instructions include reference to marriage: "neither shalt thou make marriages with them." We must be good stewards of our emotions and affections, and any inclination towards a relationship with an unsaved person must be snuffed out immediately. The reason for the prohibition follows: "For they will turn away thy son from following Me, that they may serve other gods." The books of Ezra and Nehemiah both conclude with reference to this problem. The latter days of Solomon are an eloquent testimony to the danger. See 1Kgs.11.4. Notice that it happened in his old age.
ii) They were to deal ruthlessly with the religion, v5-6. "Ye shall destroy their altars … images … groves." Religion still has its altars and images. Christendom is full of redundant Judaism with its priestly vestments, its incense, and its trained choirs.
The reason for the destruction follows: Israel was (a) "a holy people": (b) a "chosen" people: (c) "a special people (‘a peculiar treasure’)". See Ex.19.5, Deut.14.2, 26.18, Ps.135.4, Ecc.2.8. In short, Israel was to be distinct amongst the nations, because she had a distinctive place in God’s purpose. This passage is cited in the New Testament. "But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people," 1Pet.2.9. But this is no reflection on our personal worthiness, as the next section shows:
2) THE CHOICE OF GOD, v7-11
We should notice here (A) The reasons for His choice, v7-8, and (B) The responsibilities attaching to His choice, v9-11.
A) The reasons for His choice, v7-8
As C. H. Mackintosh observes: ‘It is the settled purpose of God that "no flesh should glory in his presence," 1Cor.1.26. All human pretensions must be set aside … They were, in no wise, better than the nations around them; and therefore, if called to account for their high elevation and moral greatness, they had simply to trace it all up to the free love of God, and His faithfulness to His oath.’ See Ps.115.1. The passage gives two reasons for God’s choice of Israel.
i) His love. "Because the Lord loved you." Compare 23.5. The great statement in Rom.8, "For whom He did foreknow … predestinate … called … justified … glorified," causes Paul to exclaim, "who shall separate us from the love of Christ?" and that nothing "shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." We can say with John, "Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins," 1Jn.4.10.
ii) His promises. "Because He would keep the oath which He had sworn unto your fathers." Israel were a chosen people, secondly, because of God’s promise to the patriarchs. See Rom.11.28-29. God cannot renege on His promises. The ultimate blessing of Israel will not rest on their virtue. God will bless them for His "Holy Name’s sake," Ezek.36.22. God is faithful to His own promise so far as we are concerned. As "God’s elect," we enjoy eternal life "which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began," Tit.1.2.
B) The responsibilities attaching to His choice, v9-11
But divine sovereignty and human responsibility are never separated in Scripture. We must now notice the practical implications of God’s choice. "Know ye therefore that the Lord thy God, He is God, the faithful God which …":
a) "Keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love Him and keep His commandments to a thousand generations." See Ps.105.8. Compare 1Jn.3.21-22. "Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God, and whatsoever we ask, we receive of Him, because we keep His commandments, and do those things which are pleasing in His sight." In the context of Deut.7, to "love Him, and keep His commandments," involves the separation urged in the opening section of the chapter. Compare 2Cor.6.14-7.1. Notice how Paul develops this subject in Rom.6.17-23.
b) "Repayeth them that hate Him to their face, to destroy them: He will not be slack to him that hateth Him, He will repay him to his face." Compare 2Pet.3.9-10, "The Lord is not slack concerning His promise … the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night." For the believer, Gal.6.7 is relevant here.
In both cases, God is faithful. He is faithful to His own character in rewarding both obedience, and disobedience. The conclusion is given in v11: "Thou shalt therefore keep the commandments, and the statutes, and the judgments, which I command thee this day, to do them." In view of God’s love for Israel, obedience to His Word should not have been an onerous duty. God’s faithfulness in rewarding the obedience of His people follows:
3) CONDITIONAL BLESSING, v12-16
"Wherefore it shall come to pass, if ye hearken to do these judgments, and keep, and do them, that the Lord thy God shall keep unto thee the covenant and the mercy which He sware unto thy fathers." Notice two groups of words. Israel was to "hearken," "keep," and "do." God was to "love," "bless," and "multiply." Four results follow:
i) They would enjoy God’s love. "He will love thee, and bless thee," v13. See Jn.14.23, "If a man love Me, he will keep My words: and My Father will love him, and We will come unto him, and make Our abode with him."
ii) They would enjoy fruitfulness. "He will … multiply thee: He will also bless the fruit of thy womb, and the fruit of thy land … Thou shalt be blessed above all people: there shall not be male or female barren among you, or among your cattle," v13-14. God wants us to be fruitful too. See, for example, Col.1.10. Compare 2Pet.1.8.
iii) They would enjoy good health. "And the Lord will take away from thee all sickness, and will put none of the evil diseases of Egypt, which thou knewest, upon thee; but will lay them upon all them that hate thee," v15. As a result, there was "not one feeble person among their tribes," Ps.105.37. This sounds far better than our Health Care Plans! Gaius was a splendid example of robust spiritual health. See 3Jn.2.
iv) They would enjoy victory. "And thou shalt consume all the people which the Lord thy God shall deliver thee; thine eye shall have no pity upon them: neither shalt thou serve their gods; for that will be a snare unto thee," v16. Notice that God-given victory over the enemy involved their utter destruction, see v2-5. This is now developed further:
4) CONQUERING THE ENEMIES, v17-26
"If thou shalt say in thine heart, These nations are more than I; how can I dispossess them? Thou shalt not be afraid of them." See C. H. Mackintosh here: ‘How did Moses seek to encourage the hearts of his brethren?’ "Be not affrighted," he says; but why? Was it because there were no enemies, no difficulties, no dangers? No; but "the Lord thy God is among you, a mighty God and terrible." Compare 2Chron.20.12. It was a case of, "If God be for us, who can be against us?"
Israel could be confident in facing their enemies for two reasons.
(a) Because of what God had done, v18-19. "Thou … shalt well remember what the Lord thy God did unto Pharoah, and unto all Egypt … so shall the Lord thy God do unto all the people of whom thou art afraid."
(b) Because of what God would do, v20-24. Victory was assured. The words "will" and "shall" are repeated, Notice the reference to "the hornet." Compare Ex.23.28 and Jos.24.12. (Some commentators suggest that this is figurative of ‘ills and calamities of various kinds,’ but it makes good sense to take it literally). However great the enemies might seem, God was "mighty" and "terrible," v21. Compare 1Jn.4.4. Note the expressions: He shall deliver," and "thou shalt destroy," v24.
The chapter ends with a strong warning, v25-26. ‘Israel had no need to fear the power of the enemy. Jehovah would see to that. But here was something far more to be dreaded than the enemy’s power, and that was the ensnaring influence of their idolatry,’ C. H. Mackintosh. Idols and idolatry are an "abomination" to God, which gives weight to Eph.5.5 and 1Jn.5.21. Notice that Israel was not to ‘pick and choose’ when it came to idols." Thou shalt not desire the silver or gold that is on them." It is all too easy to give up some things which are wrong, but not others, especially if we can see some advantage in retaining them. Remember that what is "highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God," Lk.16.15. God expects us to make ‘a clean break’ with the evil things which once commanded our attention.
—to be continued (D.V.)
by Ian McKee (Northern Ireland)
Paper 18 — The Turning of the Tide (Ezra Chapter 10.1-4)
We have witnessed Ezra’s intense sorrow in public in the court of the Temple. He wept, he prayed and he confessed. Ezra appreciated the feelings of God in relation to this sin among the people. And he confessed even though he himself was not personally culpable! He recognised "your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid His face from you, that He will not hear", Isa.59.2. Also, that "the sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, Thou wilt not despise", Ps.51.17.
As knowledge of Ezra’s grief circulated in Jerusalem it had a beneficial effect on others and the number of people who assembled at the Temple increased until there was "a very great congregation of men and women and children: for the people wept very sore", Ezra 10.1. But tears, while genuine, were not sufficient. Sorrow alone will not remedy the wrong. There must also be repentance and forsaking of sin. "Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He shall lift you up", Jas.4.10. Action is needed.
The intervention of Shechaniah (Ezra 10.2-4)
A voice then speaks with authority to silence the sound of weeping. It is that of "Shechaniah the son of Jehiel, one of the sons of Elam", Ezra 10.2. He acknowledges, "we have trespassed against our God, and have taken strange wives of the people of the land" and, in so doing, condemns his own father who had also taken a strange wife, Ezra 10.26. It is to their shame that a family so well represented in the return from Babylon under Zerubbabel and Jeshua and, later, under Ezra should be prominent in this sin, Ezra 2.7; 8.7. Shechaniah is not included in the list of names of those implicated, Ezra 10.18-43. However he, like Ezra before him, does not seek to distance himself from this sin.
It should again be noted that these relationships were illegal and illicit from their very commencement. A cursory reading might suggest simply that these Jews had married foreign wives. But the sin is not inter-racial marriage, because the word "taken" used in association with "strange wives" in Ezra 10.2, 10, 14, 17 and 18 is not the usual word for marriage, but rather for causing or making to dwell with. This clarifies what the word for "taking up" in Ezra 9.2, 12 (and 10.44) refers to. The context leads to the meaning that the prevalent sin in the upper strata of Jewish society was therefore cohabitation and concubinage. They had taken mistresses and were living in sin. The fact that so many had done so, evidenced the extent of the moral decadence. Given the inexorable decline in contemporary social standards let no one be in any doubt that the Divine standard has not changed; "marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge", Heb.13.4.
Yet Shechaniah is not despondent. Many others share the grief and confession of Ezra. So Shechaniah says, "yet now there is hope in Israel concerning this thing", Ezra 10.2. But the hope did not rest on feelings and words. It must be followed by a forsaking of the sin and reformation: "and thou shalt return and obey the voice of the Lord, and do all His commandments which I command thee this day", Deut.30.8.
So Shechaniah proposes a plan of action. "Now therefore let us make a covenant with our God to put away all the wives, and such as are born of them, according to the counsel of my Lord, and of those that tremble at the commandment of our God and let it be done according to the law", Ezra 10.3. While Ezra had not yet given advice on remedial action, Shechaniah proposes a covenant, a solemn promise to be ratified by sacrifice, to bind the people irrevocably to its terms. The renunciation is to be complete. Not only are these women to be put away but also any children born of these illicit relationships. And what was to be discontinued was not marriage, but rather cohabitation. The arrangements to effect recovery are to be proposed by Ezra, who has dual authority as a Persian official and as a scribe. However, it is the latter that is important, "let it be done according to the law".
Care has been taken to emphasise that the situation in Ezra’s day related to the acquisition of concubines or mistresses by, mainly, a proportion of the ruling class among the returnees. Nevertheless, for the sake of certainty, it must be stressed that the action to be taken to correct this evil at the heart of Jewish social life does not provide any justification for a professed Christian to divorce an unsaved spouse and, indeed, is unrelated to it. In that context 1 Cor.7.12, 13 is clear: "If any brother have a wife that believeth not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away. And the woman which hath an husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him".
Shechaniah then speaks directly to Ezra. "Arise; for this matter belongeth unto thee: we also will be with thee: be of good courage, and do it", Ezra 10.4. He recognises that Ezra alone has the moral authority and spiritual skill to take this matter to its appropriate conclusion. "He that handleth a matter wisely shall find good", Prov.16.20.
It is evident that Shechaniah is aware that he does not have these qualities but he becomes the staunch supporter and encourager of the man who has. He is marked by resolution and action, which is exactly what Ezra requires to complement his forensic and sensitive insight to the law of God. "Be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper whithersoever thou goest", Josh.1.7.
It is good when men of action recognise their limitations and harness their skills to complement and support the wise teaching ministry of skilled, spiritual men.
—to be continued (D.V.)
by Walter A. Boyd (South Africa)
No. 6 — THE CONCLUDING SALUTATIONS (continued)
(E) The Concluding Benediction (Romans 16.25-27)
As we conclude our considerations in this wonderful epistle, we are lifted to some of the highest truths the apostle gives expression to in any of his writings. Scholars have debated whether v25-27 should be placed at the end of chapter 16, or earlier, at the end of chapter 14. If they considered the contents of this benediction, they would have less doubt that where it is placed in our Authorised Version is correct. The Apostle began his epistle by presenting five great truths as pillars upon which he would build his arguments throughout the sixteen chapters. He proceeds to explain those fundamental truths throughout the chapters of the book; and now in chapter sixteen, by way of a conclusion to the epistle, he presents them again in the benediction. This structured argument demonstrates that the epistle is a complete unit of thought, skilfully pieced together from start to finish by the greatest human mind that ever wrote about the gospel. These truths form the commencement, content, and conclusion of his epistle. If these are set out in tabular form it will help to make the structure clearer.
The gospel of … (1.1; 1.9; 1.16) — GOSPEL — my gospel (16.25)
Jesus Christ our Lord (1.3) — CHRIST — the preaching of Jesus Christ (16.25)
His prophets in — SCRIPTURES — Scriptures of the the holy Scriptures (1.2) prophets (16.26)
Obedience to the faith — FAITH — to all nations for the among all nations (1.5) obedience of faith (16.26)
Power of God unto salvation (1.16) — POWER — Him that is of power (16.25)
Here are the five key words that sum up the epistle. The gospel is about Christ; it has been attested by the Scriptures; if received by faith, it has Divine power to change lives. We don’t have the space here, but it would be a very profitable study to trace these five great themes throughout the epistle, and see how they help to co-ordinate the letter as a whole.
The concluding benediction comprises three parts — The Gospel and its Marvel, Manifestation, and Majesty.
1. The Marvel of the Gospel, v25. In chapter 1.16 Paul is teaching that the gospel has Divine power to save the sinner. Here, in chapter 16, the emphasis is that the gospel has power to to stablish the saint. Paul’s concern for the welfare of his converts is demonstrated by his use of this word ‘stablish’. He uses it here and in 1 & 2 Thessalonians. This concern sprang from his understanding of the Lord’s commission to His disciples, that they should make disciples and teach them to observe all things (Mt. 28.19, 20). The message of the gospel is described variously by Paul as my gospel, the preaching of Jesus Christ, and the revelation of the mystery. My gospel is a reference to that specific message which was Divinely communicated to Paul, described in Gal.1.11, 12. The preaching of Jesus Christ describes the means he used to communicate the gospel to others as preaching, and the message that the gospel embraced, Jesus Christ. He preached it publicly as a herald of the good news. The message he had received and was imparting to others was the mystery. Until then it had been kept secret, but it was now his privilege to make it known throughout the Gentile world. The only way a human mind can be enlightened is by God speaking. If God holds His peace, we remain in darkness! But since eternal times the mystery had been kept secret. The message which Paul preached (my gospel), and the means he used to declare that message (the preaching of Jesus Christ), were according to, or, in keeping with, the revelation of the mystery. The revelation of the mystery implanted a burden within Paul’s heart as well as revealing to his mind the contents of what he should preach There was stewardship in his service. When the mystery was revealed to Paul, that revelation involved not only the message he should declare, but how he was to go about it – by preaching. A grasp of this would elevate in our minds the service of the public preaching of the gospel. It is not old fashioned to stand up before an audience and preach – indeed, it is how God intended the message should be propagated.
2. The Manifestation of the Gospel , v26. In these verses, Paul uses four words to describe how the gospel was unfolded: revelation and preaching, v25; made manifest, and made known, v26. Revelation has the idea of God disclosing what had previously been hidden. The word for preaching indicates how Paul passed on to others what had been revealed to him by the public preaching of the gospel. Made manifest and made known tell us that Paul’s preaching was with a view to making known the truth of the gospel that had previously been hidden; and that it was made known with a view to helping the hearers to understand. The gospel preacher is not to entertain an audience; his objective is to bring people to an understanding of the message. The sphere of the gospel is to all nations. This word ‘to’ entails more than at first reading: it has the meaning of ‘so as to reach’ all nations. Paul’s preaching, as he tells us in ch.9.24, was to be carried out in such a way that the gospel would reach all nations. It was, therefore, in keeping with God’s purpose that all men should hear the gospel. The objective of the gospel was the obedience of faith. Paul uses this word ‘obedience’ more times in the Epistle to the Romans than in any of his other writings. To him, it was a central ingredient in the message that he preached. Obedience is involved in: The Purpose of the Gospel, v1.5, The Power of the Gospel, v6.16, The Praise of the Gospel, v15.18, The Proof of the Gospel, v16.19. The Scriptures of the prophets in ch.16.26 must be a reference to the N.T. prophets and their Scriptures; whereas in ch.1.2 it refers to the O.T. prophets and their writings. In ch.1 he says, "which He had promised afore by His prophets in the holy scriptures." Here in ch.16.26, Paul changes the time period by saying, but now is made manifest and by the scriptures of the prophets … made known to all nations…" Since the Scriptures of the prophets are the means now used to make known to all nations what was previously hidden, it cannot refer to the O.T prophets and Scriptures, otherwise the gospel Paul preached was not a hidden mystery in O.T. days or writings. It is important to see the harmony in these references to the Scriptures. In ch.1, the gospel was promised in the O.T. Scriptures, but in ch.16, that which was promised in the O.T. is now preached in the N.T.
3. The Majesty of the Gospel, v27. As Paul considers the greatness of the message that he preached — how he received it, and what it entails for the sinner — he breaks out in a note of praise to the only wise God. Literally, he says, ‘to the God that is absolutely wise’. In everything that He has thought, declared, and done, God has been absolutely wise. Mankind thought themselves to be wise, ch.1.14, 22; but through the gospel which saves them in their abject need God has demonstrated His wisdom. The absolutely wise God has planned and provided salvation for foolish men. To that wise God, Paul ascribes glory through Jesus Christ for ever. The channel, through which the glory of God was made known in the gospel, was Christ. The mediator, through whom glory is now ascribed to God, is Christ. He is the centre of this great gospel, and the One in whom all our hopes for glory are placed.
Glory is one of the great themes of this epistle.
Ch. 1 — men changed the glory of the uncorruptible God.
Ch. 3 — men have come short of the glory of God.
Ch. 4 — Abraham was strong in faith, giving glory to God.
Ch. 6 — Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father.
Ch. 8 — We are destined for glory as the children of God.
Ch. 9 — Israel were intended to be custodians of the glory of God.
Ch. 9 — Gentiles were prepared unto glory.
Ch. 9 — The gospel was preached so as to make known the riches of God’s glory.
Ch.15 — We are received by Christ to the glory of God the Father.
May we learn the grandeur and the glory of the gospel, and add our Amen to the ascription of praise to the absolutely wise God, whose plan and purpose is behind it all.
by J. Flanigan (Northern Ireland)
6. THE GARMENT OF HUMILITY
For three years and more our Lord had been teaching His disciples the secret of true greatness. It must not be with them as it was in the world. In the world men would strive and conspire for power, and by almost any means, fair or foul, would seek to attain their aims to be greatest. In the kingdom it was not so. To be truly great in the spiritual realm one would have to become little. To be greatest, one would have to become least.
It is sad, that on His last evening with them, in the very shadow of His cross, these men should dispute among themselves as to which of them was the greatest, Lk.22.24. How slow they were to learn. Or unwilling? In the sadness of that Upper Room the Saviour will now demonstrate to them, in such a practical way, just who really was the greatest.
The little company had walked across the dusty Kidron Valley from the Mount of Olives to the Mount Zion where all the residences with upper rooms were located. It is a wearying walk in the heat of the day, and how welcome it would have been if there had been someone there to attend to the bathing of their feet, as was the custom. Had they been guests in another man’s house then a servant would have been summoned immediately and at once the refreshing basin of water would have been brought and the necessary courtesy attended to.
But these men were not another man’s guests. They were a little company of friends who had borrowed the room for the evening. There was no servant in attendance. Who then would stoop to bathe the feet of the others?
The basin was there, and a pitcher of water. The towel was there, a slave’s apron, probably hanging on a peg on the wall. As the basin, the water, and the towel waited, all that was needed was for someone who was great enough to become little enough to wear the apron, go down on his knees, and wash the feet of his colleagues and friends. But none moved.
Doubtless each man would have his reason for not attending to the task which waited. It was such a menial task indeed. Did Peter think to himself, "Well, after all, I am the eldest, it is not really up to me"? Did others think, "We knew the Master before Peter did, and we brought him to Him. Are not we therefore greater"? Whatever their individual reasons may have been for not rising from the table, no one did. The Saviour waited for them. Had they but realised it, He was giving them opportunity to become great, but they missed it.
Then, in the full and conscious knowledge of His own greatness as the Son, into whose hands the Father had committed everything, and equally in the knowledge of His past, present, and future glory, He vacated His seat and walked toward the towel. He laid aside His outer garment, He took the towel and wrapped it about Him. He poured the water into the basin, and began to wash the feet of His disciples.
Girded to serve the Lord of Glory stands,
The basin and the towel in His hands;
Pours out the water, bondman-like, and then
He stoops to wash the feet of fallen men.
What an amazing spectacle it was! The Lord of glory upon His knees, in meekness bathing the feet of His followers. There can be no doubt that even the feet of Judas Iscariot the traitor, were gently bathed by the tender hands of Christ in that Upper Room! The towel, the slave’s apron, had become a garment of humility, but He wore it in splendour on that last evening and showed them by example who really was the greatest among them.
During the days of His sojourn with them, the Saviour had taught them humility, and He had illustrated it. In answer to their question, "Who is the greatest?" He had once taken a little child and set him in the midst of them, Mt.18.1-4, and had exhorted them to childlikeness if they wanted to be truly great. It has been said by another that "the greatness of voluntary humility is a greater greatness than official greatness"! But it is not easy for the natural man to accept this, and so, repeatedly, our Lord had to teach His disciples this principle of the kingdom, that true greatness was humility and humility was true greatness.
Humility was perhaps a despised word until Jesus came. The Pharaohs of Egypt, the Kings of Babylon, the Princes of Persia, and the Caesars of Rome, had no time for humility. To them greatness was power, and power was greatness. Humility was equated with subservience. Meekness was weakness. Then He came who could say, "I am meek and lowly," and He was the greatest!
Of course, the swaddling bands of His nativity were garments of humility at the beginning, as were the humble garments of the carpenter from Nazareth who had moved in gracious ministry among men. It was humility indeed when He humbled Himself and was found in fashion as a Man. It was an immeasurable stoop of condescension. But this, in His last hours in the Upper Room, was the supreme example of humility. The Master wearing the apron of a slave! The Lord of all girded with the towel of the servant!
Perhaps it is not to be wondered at that Peter should object. "Lord, dost Thou wash my feet?" he asks in amazement. "Thou shalt never wash my feet", he protests. The pronouns are emphatic "Thou!" "My feet!" Poor Peter! How often, like so many of us, he said the wrong thing. The Saviour explains, and then adds, "I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you." The word "example" is elsewhere rendered "pattern", Heb.9.23. He had given them a pattern on which they should model themselves as His disciples. The servant was not greater than his Lord. They would be blessed indeed if they would follow His example of humility, for this was the very greatness to which they aspired.
The principle has not changed. Paul exhorts, in that great treatise on the Saviour’s condescension, "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus." "In lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves." "I beseech you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ," Phil.2; 2Cor.10. What a happy company is that, where the only strife is for the lowest place! There the brethren have learned from the example of the Greatest that the way up is really the way down!
Would’st thou be chief? Then lowly serve.
Would’st thou go up? Go down.
But go as low as e’re you will
The Highest has been lower still.
Oh for grace to follow the example of Him who voluntarily wore the slave’s apron, the garment of humility.
—to be continued (D.V.)
by the late W. Trew
(This is a copy of an address given in Shield’s Road, Motherwell in 1954)
(Submitted by J. D. McColl, Australia)
SCRIPTURAL OBJECT OF EVANGELISM
So far we have been thinking of the attitude of the disciples, made that by the preaching of the Gospel. But we must remember that this is a responsibility placed upon the shoulders of the servant. "Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you." That necessarily includes all that the Lord afterwards commanded in the progress of Divine revelation until the Word of God was filled up. So that Paul says, "If anyone think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord," 1Cor.14.36-37.
That consideration brings me to the second passage we read together. Paul is brought before us as our pattern in service. He is our own apostle in a very real sense — Apostle to the Gentiles — "Minister of the Gospel" — "Minister of the Church." Again and again he appeals to us to imitate him, and he is the "Master builder" of assemblies of God. He tells us that, commissioned by the Lord Jesus, Whose steward he was, with heart aglow with a consuming passion for the souls of men, he went forth "testifying the Gospel of the Grace of God," "preaching the Kingdom of God," "declaring all the Counsel of God" and thus building "Churches of God."
"The Gospel of the Grace of God" tells out all the bounty of God in lavish blessing upon all who believe. There the modern evangelist finishes his work. But not so Paul. Inherent in the work of "Testifying the Gospel of the Grace of God" is the setting up of "The Kingdom of God" in the hearts of those who believe. Responsive affection gladly surrenders to the Rule of God and welcomes the Throne of the King to the citadel of life. Henceforth life will be held at the disposal of a loving Lord and lived within the limits of the Will of God. Immediately "All the Counsel of God" becomes a vital necessity. "The Kingdom of God" is the setting up of the Throne of the King in human hearts and lives. That is done by the preaching of "The Gospel of the Grace of God." "All the Counsel of God" is the will of the King made known in obedience to which His loyal subjects gladly order their every step; and by that means and in that way "Churches of God" are built.
Paul would not lead souls to Christ for salvation and deliberately leave them there. Far less would he consent beforehand to limit himself to the Gospel and let his converts do what they pleased afterwards, fearful lest he alienate from himself the sympathy of men. Paul never built anything but Churches of God, and he sought always to leave behind him, as the result of his Gospel labours, a Church of God witness to all the truth of God.
Thus have I briefly outlined the New Testament principles that must govern and guide us in our service for God. For many years we have engaged in pioneer Gospel work, guided by these instructions. We go into a place where there is no assembly of God according to the New Testament, though in existence there is every denomination in Christendom, and we commence our meetings. We preach the Gospel and men and women believe. Christians who have their spiritual home in denominations come to the meetings and hear the Gospel and get established in the Grace of God. We place before them, in systematic teaching, the Will of God that would regulate their lives, and show them the pattern of the New Testament assembly. It has been our great privilege to see some of them receive the Word of God, bow to its authority in willing obedience, and we have left behind us, as we moved on elsewhere, a local assembly of God.
My experience is that those who today work inter-denominationally have never had the exercise to do pioneer work with the object of bringing assemblies of God into being. If they had done so, they would have realised the impossibility of building assemblies and, at the same time, work inter-denominationally.
With all that in mind, I must face another question. It is this: "If I consent to work inter-denominationally can I fulfil the terms of my Master’s commission?" My considered answer is "No." And I have to give you my reasons for that answer.
In my service for God during these 30 years, I have found that one of the greatest stumbling blocks before the unsaved, is the great multitude of parties in Christendom. If the assembly, with which all of us here today are publicly associated, each in our own locality, is but another party in addition to the many, the same constitutionally and essentially as all the rest, we have no right to exist. There are far too many sects already. Let us cease to exist and identify ourselves each with the denomination of our own choice. The only justification of the existence of assemblies is that they are fundamentally constitutionally and essentially different from everything that exists in Christendom. But if that be so, the existence of assemblies according to the teaching of the New Testament, is the condemnation, as being unscripturally constituted, of every religious community. If that be not true, we had no right ever to leave sectarian bodies. If it be true, no child of God has any right in Scripture to be a member of a sectarian body.
—to be continued (D.V.)
by D. S. Parrack (England)
"These things I write unto thee — that" Tim.3.14-15
Whilst we gratefully accept that "all Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable, 2Tim.3.16, there are different portions of Scripture which treat with particular circumstances and varying conditions in the lives and experiences of God’s people. The Proverbs writer requests of God, "Feed me with food convenient for me," Prov.30.8, and Paul told the Corinthians that, "I have fed you with milk and not with meat, for hitherto ye were not able to bear it," 1Cor.3.2. The Hebrews writer, facing a similar situation among his readers, commented "Every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe, but strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age," Heb.5.13-14. One function of the teacher, having discerned the needs of his hearers, is to address those needs with applicable teaching from the Scriptures. Paul did not treat the Corinthians as incorrigible or unteachable but, as he says, "I have fed you with milk." That is all that you are currently capable of assimilating and so that is what I will ensure is available for you. The Hebrews writer, whilst expressing regret that "When for the time ye ought to be teachers," nonetheless accepts that the actual situation with which he has to deal is "Ye have need that one teach you again what be the first principles of the oracles of God, and are such that have need of milk and not strong meat," Heb.5.12. If that is the level of teaching you need, that is the level of teaching to which I will work.
Is there though any reliable guidance for deciding which particular portions of Scripture are most suitable for differing levels of growth and understanding among believers? This question is especially relevant to teachers as they attempt to meet the needs of varying groups with whom they are working. It in turn emphasises the importance of local elders accepting the major responsibility for teaching in their own assemblies, since they are in the best position, or should be, of appreciating the state and needs of the fellowship in which they are exercising a leadership role. While the gift of teaching is not exclusive to elders, it is a necessary qualification for anyone looking to undertake such a task in any local church, (see e.g. Tim.3.2, Tit.1.9).
Fortunately a number of N.T. writers tell us quite explicity why they wrote as they did, what they were aiming to achieve in the development of their readers. Since our needs are very much the same as those of first century believers, we ought to search out for ourselves the Scriptural remedies which proved to be so valuable for them.
Bear in mind though that just as God’s chastening is effective to "them that are exercised thereby," Heb.12.11, so the same is true of the effectiveness of God’s Word. In a somewhat different context but applying the same principle, Paul asks "What if some did not believe, shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect?" His emphatic response to his own question is "God forbid," Rom.3.3-4. The answers, the remedies, to our many differing needs are there, but it is our responsibility to give evidence of our confidence in what God says by the response evoked in our hearts and lives.
It is hoped that we may be able to look at some of the writings of John, Luke, Paul, Peter, Jude and the author of Hebrews, whose identity we do not really know. This is certainly not an attempt to comment in detail on any particular book or books, just to trace out what we are told that the various writers were aiming to achieve and then apply that to our own personal and corporate circumstances.
—to be continued (D.V.)
by J. E. Todd (England)
1. BECAUSE I HAVE REPENTED
The new covenant began with repentance. The task of John the Baptist was to prepare the nation of Israel for the coming of the promised Saviour. This he did by preaching repentance, ‘Saying, repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand,’ Matt.3.2. He gave the people the opportunity to respond by undergoing a baptism of repentance. Then the Lord Himself began His ministry with a call to repentance, "The time is fulfilled, the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel," Mk.1.15. The Lord insisted that repentance was necessary to obtain the salvation He offered, ‘Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish,’ Lk.13.3,5. When the completed gospel was first preached by Peter on the day of Pentecost, in reply to the people’s question, ‘men and brethren, what shall we do?, his reply began with ‘Repent,’ Acts 2.37-38.
What is repentance? The word itself literally means to have a change of mind, and is used in relation to sin. Therefore it is a call to the sinner to have a change of attitude toward his or her sin. No longer to regard it as non-existent, or of no consequence, or something to be approved of or even a joke. All these false attitudes can be found among people in the world. To change an attitude which acknowledges that sin is wrong, as being in one’s own life, as in need of forgiveness, as something to be rejected, both the approval and the practice of it. But above all to regard sin as something God abhors and condemns, and thus separates us from Himself. ‘All unrighteousness is sin," 1Jn.5.17. Therefore repentance is to be sorry for one’s sins leading to a sincere desire to be forgiven past sins and to be done with sin in the future. ‘For godly grief produces repentance that leads to salvation and brings no regret,’ 2Cor.7.10, R.S.V.
But the new attitude must show itself in appropriate actions, ‘Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance,’ demanded John the Baptist, Lk.3.8. ‘And the people asked him, saying, What shall we do then?’ Lk.3.10. John’s answer was, not to be selfish but to share our abundance with the needy, not to be greedy but to be honest, not to steal but to be content with what we have, v11-14.
We have in Scripture examples of repentance. The repentance of Judah the brother of Joseph. ‘And Judah said, What shall we say unto my Lord? What shall we speak? … God hath found out the iniquity of thy servants,’ Gen.44.16. Judah, who had made Joseph a slave was willing to become a slave himself rather than repeat his sin, this time against Benjamin. ‘Now therefore, I pray thee, let thy servant abide instead of the lad a bondman to my lord; and let the lad go up with his brethren,’ Gen.44.33.
The repentance of King David, concerning his sin of adultery and murder against Uriah. This is described in his own words in Ps.51. ‘For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me. Against Thee (God), Thee only have I sinned, and done this evil in Thy sight,’ v3,4. Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me," v10.
The example of the repentance of the men of Nineveh. An example commended by the Lord, Matt.12.41. The characteristics of their repentance were, a deep sorrow shown by fasting and sackcloth and ashes, and prayer to God, and turning from evil, and fear of divine judgment, Jn.3.5-9.
As believers we have repented of our sins in order to be saved. We have obeyed the gospel, ‘repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ,’ Acts 20.21. As a Christian I have turned my back upon sin and thereby turned my face toward holiness. By my repentance I have turned my back upon the sinful works of the flesh, ‘Immorality, impurity, licentiousness (i.e. a disregard of all control), idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, anger, selfishness, dissension, party spirit, envy, murder, drunkenness, carousing (i.e. drunken parties), and the like,’ Gal.5.19-21, R.S.V. Therefore turning my face toward the holy virtues which are the fruit of the HOLY Spirit within, ‘Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control,’ Gal.5.22-23, R.S.V.
Thus my repentance becomes a continuous reason to live a holy life.
—to be continued (D.V.)
by Steve Walvatne (USA)
In Mk.14.3 and Jud.7.20 we have vessels that were broken. The vessel in Mark’s gospel was broken in worship, while the vessel in Judges was broken in warfare. Worship and warfare are vital aspects of Christian experience. In Scripture, vessels are a frequent metaphor for individuals. David could write: "I am like a broken vessel," Ps.31.12. Regarding Saul of Tarsus, the Lord said: "He is a chosen vessel unto Me," Acts 9.15. In 2Tim.2.21 we read of a person being "a vessel unto honour" and in 1Pet.3.7, wives are referred to as "the weaker vessel."
From a human perspective, broken vessels have little value, but when humbly submitted to God, they are of great worth. "The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit," Ps.34.18. Mary and Gideon personified the vessels they broke. Emptied of self, they were "sanctified, and meet for the Master’s use, and prepared unto every good work," 2Tim.2:21.
"Emptied that Thou shouldest fill me,
A clean vessel in Thine hand;
With no power but as Thou givest
Graciously with each command."
We trust a brief contemplation of these portions will yield profitable instruction for us. We shall notice six contrasts and comparisons.
1. In Mark’s gospel a woman breaks the vessel, while in Judges it is a man and his army. This is significant. Two outstanding traits of womanhood are tenderness and compassion, Prov.11.16; 1Pet.3.4 — a heartless woman is repugnant. Manliness however, is distinguished by tenacity and courage, 1Cor.16.13. Worship requires a soft heart while warfare necessitates a strong hand. Three times over David exclaimed, "I will praise Thee, O Lord, with my whole heart", Ps.9.1; 111.1; 138.1. Under Golgotha’s shadow, this devoted woman broke her little flask of spikenard and graciously poured every drop on the Lord Jesus. It was the expression of her whole heart. Regarding Gideon, his hands were strengthened for conflict. Similarly, Paul instructed Timothy to "be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus" and to "endure hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ," 2Tim.2.1,3. Spiritual conflict is taxing and weakness or sympathy dare not be exhibited towards the enemy. We are instructed to "love not the world, neither the things that are in the world," 1Jn.2.15, to flee fleshly lusts, 1Cor.6.18; 10.14; 1Tim.6.11; 2Tim.2.22, and to stand against Satanic attack, Eph.6.13; Jms.4.7. Alas! What coldness so often envelops our worship, what compromise our warfare!
2. As most know, proper names are spiritually significant in Scripture. Mary’s is wondrously fitted for worship. "Myrrh" or "bitterness" is conveyed by it. Myrrh, a chief ingredient in the holy anointing oil, Ex.30.23, was presented by wise men after the birth of the Lord Jesus, Matt.2.11, and by Nicodemus after His death, Jn.19.39. Extracted from a small tree, this resin is "fragrant to the smell, but very bitter to the taste" (S. Ridout). It bespeaks the inestimable aroma that ascends from righteous suffering. Nothing so prepares the heart for worship, as occupation upon the bitter sufferings of Christ. Gideon however, means, "a cutter down." After labouring to cut wheat and thresh it in secret, he was eminently qualified to cut down the altars of Baal and thrash the enemy in public. Paul exhorted Timothy, to be "wholly" engaged in spiritual things, that "thy profiting may appear (be manifest, RV) to all," 1Tim.4.15. Spiritual fitness is often the fruit of secret fidelity to God.
3. Mary broke her vessel by choice, whereas Gideon broke his by command. Worship cannot be legislated; it must flow freely from a grateful heart, Ps.45.1. Twice over with regard to the Lord’s Supper, we have the injunction: "This do in remembrance of Me," Lk.22.19; 1Cor.11.24. Without prior preparation however, our gatherings will regress to mere formality; there will be no "pure nard," no genuine proclamation of our Lord’s death, till He come. "Let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup," 1Cor.11.28. On the other hand, spiritual warfare must only be waged as the Lord wills. In Judges 6, Gideon was ordered to "Go in this thy might," v14, and it was coupled with grand assurance: "Surely I will be with thee, and thou shalt smite the Midianites as one man," v16. Warfare is serious business and the battle should not be joined in haphazard fashion. Moses said, "If Thy presence go not with me, carry us not up hence," Ex.33.15. Gideon cautiously determined that both the assignment and the assurance were of God, before he would make war with Midian ("strife").
4. For worship, Mary came with something costly — spikenard worth 300 pence (equivalent to the yearly salary of a labouring man). For warfare, Gideon came with something contemptible — 300 persons with only trumpets and pitchers and lamps in their hands. God deserves our best in worship. In the first offering of the Old Testament, Abel brought "of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof," Gen.4:4, and God had respect for that. In the first offering of the New Testament, we find wise men coming to worship with treasures of "gold, frankincense, and myrrh," Matt.2.11. We must remember first principles. Is what we offer worthy of the Lord Jesus? Mary’s spikenard was "very precious" (poluteles; Mk. 14:3). This word occurs three times in the New Testament and a woman is in view on every occasion. Women, says Paul, are not to be adorned with "costly" array (poluteles; 1Tim.2:9), but rather as Peter writes, with a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of "great price" (poluteles; 1Pet.3.4). Mary did not approach her Lord with something cheap, but brought that which was "excellent and of surpassing value" (Thayer’s Greek Definitions). Concerning warfare, God can use that which is insignificant. "Little is much if God is in it." Ninety-nine percent of Gideon’s original force was disqualified and only 300 remained to fight against an opponent that "lay along in the valley like grasshoppers for multitude," Jud.7.12. Recall David’s words, when as a stripling he went out to fight the giant Goliath, "The battle is the Lord’s!" 1Sam.17.47. Far too often, undue emphasis is given to methodology for warfare, when in reality, just a broken pitcher is sufficient to God.
5. When Mary’s vessel was broken, fragrance was smelled; when Gideon and his host broke theirs, fulgence was seen. As the spikenard descended upon the Lord Jesus, a sweet aroma filled the room. None could miss it. What delight it brought to Him! "Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached throughout the whole world, this also that she hath done shall be spoken of for a memorial of her," Mk.14.9. When saints gather with gratitude on the first day of the week, the heart of God is touched and a fragrance permeates the entire company. In warfare, the broken vessels radiated light in the night. This world is marked by spiritual darkness, Eph.6.12; Jn.3.19; 2Cor.4.3, 4. The Lord Jesus declared, "As long as I am in the world, I am the Light of the world." Jn.9.5, but now, broken of self, we as Christians have the blessed privilege of uplifting Christ and shining "as lights in the world," Phil.2.15.
6. In both Mark and Judges we have the question "Why?" Why the waste in worship, Mk.14:4? Why the way in warfare, Jud.8.1? In each situation there were those who could not appreciate the Person or the purpose of Christ. This produced antagonism. With respect to Mary, a group led by Judas Iscariot, Jn.12.4, "murmured against her," v5; in Jud.8.1 we read that the men of Ephraim did "chide with him (Gideon) sharply." Both were severely admonished by onlookers. So it is still. Those who seek to honour God with their substance will frequently be maligned by worldly men. The world hated the Lord Jesus and it will hate believers who are moving in Scriptural paths, Jn.17.14; 1Jn.3.13. Regrettably, even professing Christians can succumb to the clamour of ungodly men and oppose that which exalts Christ.
Heavenly commendation will be forthcoming, however. Over the din of angry men, the Lord Jesus righteously asserted: "She hath done what she could," Mk.14.8. May we gain divine approval, as we seek individually and collectively, to be more like a Mary in worship and a Gideon in warfare.
by J. B. Yocum (Canada)
I was not brought up in a Christian home, although my parents were not against religion, just indifferent. Sunday School wasn’t the normal part of the Lord’s Day.
As a lad of eight, I remember peeking into the living room through the french doors. In that room lay my father, in a wooden box. I was very afraid! He was so still and cold. My little heart thought, "Where has he gone?" I was told he was killed in a road accident. That was my first introduction to death. My mother was devastated at his sudden death, and being left with five children. The year was 1944.
I will not go into too many details, but one thing I recall is that we moved many times. Every year we seemed to go to a new school. Later on, a stepfather entered the picture; after about six years and two stepbrothers and one sister, he left us. We were alone once more. Now we were a family of eight and I was the oldest. At 16, I began to apprentice as a mechanic. All my earnings went to help mother and the family. At that time we were living on a farm near Burks Falls.
I came to Toronto in the late 50’s to work. I went home every other weekend, 180 miles. Up to this point, I had not thought about God, heaven, hell or eternity. I attended a few church services, one in particular remains in my memory. It was a Baptist church (we were nominally Baptist) and it just happened to be Communion Sunday. I stayed and partook of the emblems at the end of the service. Then a man arose and quoted 1 Cor. 11:29 "he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself." I could not get out of that building fast enough. I felt that my stomach was burning, so stopped for a coffee. Was it possible that I wouldn’t go to heaven, when I died? I had not fallen into a life of sin, a little gambling but nothing more. When I look back on it, that was the first time I was truly convicted by the Spirit of God.
On Sunday evening, July 3rd, 1960 I found myself on Yonge Street at Dundas Square in Toronto. There was a small group of men and women gathered for, what I later learned, was an Open-air Gospel Meeting. I stood off to the side listening to the various men speak. Toward the end of the meeting a crowd had gathered. Some began to make fun of the preachers and at that point the Lord seemed to speak to me, "Well, what side are you on?" I knew the answer, I belonged to that group of hecklers. Oh, I wasn’t saying anything audible, but my heart was far from God.
I went home without speaking to anyone. At 2.00 a.m. I couldn’t sleep; I got down on my knees and found I couldn’t pray. I stayed there for some time and then a verse I had heard somewhere came to memory — Luke 23:34 "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do." Immediately, I realised that it was my sins that nailed him to the cross: then and there a sinner met the Saviour and was saved for eternity.
I returned to the Open-air the next Sunday evening. After the meeting I told the Christians that I had gotten saved after the open-air the prior week; the saints invited me to Central Gospel Hall on Wednesday evening for the Prayer and Bible Reading. On August 28, 1960 I was baptized. In September I was welcomed into the fellowship of the believers, who gathered to His Name. I remained there and learned much from godly brethren who loved our Lord Jesus Christ. When at home, I went to the Chapman Valley Gospel Hall, about eight miles from the farm, where a number of my family professed Jesus as Lord. I still have good friends and memories in that part of the country.
In April 1962 I requested a letter for Broadview Avenue Gospel Hall, as it was a smaller assembly, and have stayed there until this present day. I began to teach Sunday School, invite people to hear the gospel, help with various duties in the hall, and later worked in the capacity of deacon and then elder.
For some years, I was exercised about going into the work of the Lord in Toronto. To my knowledge, there was no one working full-time in this large city. I prayed and agonized over the decision before approaching the brethren for a letter of commendation. With weakness and trepidation I received their blessing on November 25, 1978 at the age of 42. I had really no idea just how I would approach this rather unusual task but one thing I did know — I wanted to tell people about the Saviour and how they could know their sins forgiven and be on the road to Heaven. I also wanted to acquaint them with the assemblies.
Over the years, I have worked in open-airs, door to door visitation, shopping malls, arranged for various special meetings, city-wide (one night) in auditoria with fellow brethren to help with the preaching. Several years I centred on prophecy with a gospel thrust. A couple of years I rented a tent, had it erected on city property in one of the crime areas and had young men give testimonies and then I would close with a short gospel message. These are just a few of my activities of the past. Weekends are kept for assembly preaching in various halls.
Now Metropolitan Toronto has a population of over three million with large immigrant sections from all over the world — a mission field right at my door! There are so many streets and neighbourhoods, that are still yet to be covered. The Lord’s Coming seems so near; the fields are still white.
ARE YOU SAVED?
On making the gentle descent towards the causeway that leads to La Corbière Lighthouse, in Jersey, I noticed a small monument featuring two clasped hands. It had not been there when I had visited the island previously and I was interested to read the inscription underneath. It informed of the rescue of the passengers and crew of the French catamaran ‘St. Malo’ which began to sink after it struck a rock known as Le Frouquie nine hundred metres north of the lighthouse. This occurred during the morning of Monday the seventeenth of April 1995 whilst on passage from Jersey to Sark. Visibility was good at the time but with a Spring tide ebbing to the west and a westerly Force five wind, the sea conditions were moderate to rough.
The emergency services were hastily scrambled and nearby ships came to the assistance of the stricken vessel. In the goodness of God all three hundred and seven passengers and crew were saved from the partially submerged catamaran.
I walked on and just before commencing the short walk on the causeway I saw another notice on the stone wall on my right. It is ‘in memory of Peter Edwin Larbalestier, assistant keeper at the lighthouse, who on 28th. May 1946 gave his life to rescue a visitor cut off by the incoming tide.’ The first monument told of many who were saved, this inscription told the sad story of a brave man who was lost.
My mind was turned to the intensely real and serious thought of being saved for eternity. My dear friend, if you could only be persuaded of the unspeakable aftermath, the horrendous sequel to a Christless life, you would begin to understand that being saved is a priority, a necessity, transcending every other consideration and greater by far than all your other needs. ‘And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:’ Hebrews 9.27 ‘the rich man also died, and was buried; And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments’ Luke 16.22,23. Truly the title of this article must be the most important question you will ever have to answer.
So, ‘Are you saved?’ If not, let me introduce One who is both able and willing to save you from the endless judgment and unquenchable fire which will envelop your soul forever if you continue as you are. Without Christ and faith in Him, these consequences will be inescapable. The inscription underneath the monument referred to ‘the help of God and many strong arms’ that ensured the rescue and safe return of all on board. But alas, the brave man who attempted to rescue the visitor in danger, discovered that his arms were simply not strong enough to battle the waves and effect the rescue of the stranded tourist.
The Word of God says of Christ in Hebrews 7.25, ‘Wherefore He is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him …’
The Lord Jesus Himself said in Luke 19.10, ‘For the Son of Man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.’
1Timothy 1.15 states that ‘Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners’
‘For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved.’ John 3.17
In John 17.12 we read the Saviour’s own words as He prayed to His Father, ‘those that Thou gavest Me I have kept, and none of them is lost.’
My friend, there is nothing you can do or give to obtain your salvation but you can trust Christ. None but He can save your soul eternally. Fear not then to trust Him.
Romans 5.1 — by H. Bonar
I thought upon my sins, and I was sad,
My soul was troubled sore, and filled with pain:
But then I thought on Jesus, and was glad,
My heavy grief was turned to joy again.
I thought upon the law, the fiery law,
Holy, and just, and good in its decree;
I looked to Jesus, and in Him I saw
That law fulfilled, its curse endured for me.
I thought I saw an angry, frowning God,
Sitting as Judge upon the great white throne;
My soul was overwhelm’d, — then Jesus show’d
His gracious face, and all my dread was gone.
I saw my sad estate, condemned to die;
Then terror seized my heart, and dark despair;
But when to Calvary I turned my eye,
I saw the cross, and read forgiveness there.
I saw that I was lost, far gone astray,
No hope of safe return there seemed to be;
But then I heard that Jesus was the way,
A new and living way prepar’d for me.
Then in that way, so free, so safe, so sure,
Sprinkled all o’er with reconciling blood,
Will I abide, and never wander more,
Walking along in fellowship with God
Seven Precious Things from Peter
the more precious trial of your faith, 1Pet.1.7
the precious blood of Christ, 1Pet.1.19
the precious Lord, 1Pet.2.4
the precious corner stone, 1Pet.2.6
He is precious, 1Pet.2.7
like precious faith, 2Pet.1.1
exceeding great and precious promises, 2Pet.1.4
by H. A. Barnes (England)
Evil speaking is an unmixed evil — it defiles the inventor of it; the hearer of it and the repeater of it.
Seven Spiritual Things
spiritual gifts, 1Cor.14.1
a spiritual body, 1Cor.15.44
all spiritual blessings in heavenly places, Eph.1.3
spiritual wickedness in high places, Eph.6.12
wisdom and spiritual understanding, Col.1.9
psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, Col.3.16
a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, 1Pet.2.5
by H. A. Barnes (England)