BEHOLD YOUR KING
by J. Flanigan
ASSEMBLY TESTIMONY BIBLE CLASS
by J. Riddle
THE KINGS OF JUDAH AND ISRAEL
by G. H. Hutchinson
PROPHETIC PICTURES OF THE LORD
by J. E. Todd
by J. D. McColl
CHRISTIAN CONDUCT IN A MODERN WORLD
by W. A. Boyd
THE ROLE OF SISTERS IN THE ASSEMBLY
by J. Grant
MY CONVERSION AND CALL
by N. Patel
(Meditations in Matthew)
by Jim Flanigan (Belfast)
26. The King, the Village, and the City (Ch.21)
This chapter has the distinction of bringing to us the first mention of Bethany in our Bible. In the heart of the chapter, at vl7, we read of the Saviour that "He went out of the city into Bethany; and He lodged there." This is very significant. As A. C. Gaebelein remarks, "We are now reaching the beginning of the end." The city has no room for Him. It has its temple and its priests, its ceremony and its ritual, and it neither needs nor wants Him. Bethany is different. It may be but a dusty street or two and a few simple homes, but here they will receive Him and love Him and make room for Him. In this chapter our Lord’s movements and ministry lie between Bethany and Jerusalem, between the village and the city.
The early verses portray a fulfilment of a beautiful prophecy of Zechariah, "Jerusalem: Behold thy king cometh unto thee: He is just, and having salvation: Lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass," Zec.9.9. The King now draws near to the city with His disciples, in literal fulfilment of the prophecy. It is often referred to as "the triumphal entry," and such, in a sense, it was. The very acquisition of the ass with its colt was a miracle. The Lord had need of them, and they were granted. The tender grace of the Lord has been noted here in that there were two animals, a mother with her foal, and the Saviour would not have them separated. Although needing but one, He asked for "them". If the pronoun is in italics twice in v2, yet in the two occurrences of it in v3 it is not italicised, and v7 confirms that the disciples "brought the ass, and the colt." Note also our Lord’s omniscience. He who knew just where that fish was, with the silver in its mouth, Matt. 17.27, knew also that over yonder, in the nearby village, there was an ass tied, with its colt.
It was quite a remarkable scene on the Mount of Olives. They put their garments over the animals and strewed the way also with garments and with branches of trees. No costly rugs for this King, but garments and palm leaves to prepare His way. The King was in the midst of them as multitudes went before Him and multitudes followed after. "Hosanna!" they cried, "Blessed is He that cometh in the Name of the Lord." It was Ps.118. "Hosanna" means, "Save now". "Hosanna to the Son of David" was, at least for the moment, a public acknowledgment that He was both Saviour and King.
As the great procession approached Jerusalem the whole city was moved, asking, "Who is this?" The city of the great King did not recognise its King. Jerusalem had been troubled at His birth, when the question was, "Where is He that is born King?" Matt.2.3. Now, thirty-three years later, the question is not "Where" but "Who". Note the answer, "This is Jesus the prophet of Nazareth of Galilee." "Jesus"! It was a confession that there was greatness, but a greatness which perhaps they could not fully understand or explain. "Nazareth"! The town of ill repute where He lived for thirty years. "Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth?" another had asked, Jn.1.46. "Galilee"! The province despised by these more sophisticated Judeans.
Jesus enters the precincts of the temple. It was still called "The temple of God," but men had demeaned it and desecrated its courts. There were money changers and merchants, bartering and bargaining, cheating and defrauding, shouting and arguing. They had made the sacred court a market place and a den of thieves. Now, for a second time, He purged the temple, the first cleansing being at the beginning of His ministry in Jn.2.13-17. What a scene it must have been as the King, with royal authority cast them out and overthrew their tables. Coins would spill all over the pavement, with animals and birds in confusion. Then judgment is blended with mercy, when, having cast out the merchants, He graciously healed the blind and the lame who came to Him. But the wonderful things that He did, and the accompanying "Hosannas" of the children, angered the chief priests and scribes. "Hearest Thou what these say?" they asked. "Yea", He replied, "Have ye never read, Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings Thou has perfected praise?" It was, of course, a quotation from the eighth Psalm. They must have known it. The sword of the Word pierced and silenced them. They had no answer. He left them, and went out of the city. This was symbolic. He crossed the Kidron Valley and went over the Mount of Olives into Bethany. How He must have appreciated the welcome and the hospitality of Bethany. He lodged there. That dusty village was now more to Him than all the pomp and splendour of great Jerusalem.
Next morning the Saviour returns from Bethany to the temple. On the way over the mount He was hungry. What grace! Though He was rich, He had become poor. He was King, proprietor of everything, but yet He is hungry. He observes a fig tree and looks for fruit. There was foliage, so there ought to have been fruit. The fig tree is not like other fruit trees. With the fig, fruit and foliage develop together, and if there are leaves then there should be fruit. "But", says Matthew, there were "leaves only." The Lord pronounced judgment upon it and presently it withered. Is this the only miracle of judgment recorded? There is a parable in the miracle. As J. N. Darby comments, "Israel in fact possessed all the outward forms of religion, and were zealous for the law and the ordinances, but they bore no fruit unto God." The withered fig tree was but a foreshadowing of the future judgment of the nation which professed so much but gave so little. The disciples marvelled at the miracle and were exhorted to have that faith which never doubted but ever received from God what was asked in His will. In the temple court the chief priests and elders question the Lord’s authority to teach. "Who gave Thee this authority?" they ask. He puts a proposition to them. If they will tell Him whether the ministry of John Baptist was from heaven, or of men, then He will tell them about His authority for His ministry. They were in a difficulty, and they knew it. If they said, "From heaven," then He would ask, "Why did ye not then believe him?" If they said, "Of men," they feared the people, who held John to be a prophet. Weakly they replied, "We cannot tell." "Neither tell I you," He said. In their hypocrisy they could not tell. In His judgment of their hypocrisy, He would not tell. But He would give them another parable.
A certain man had two sons. When he requested of them that they should work that day in the vineyard, the first bluntly said, "I will not," but afterward repented and went. The second replied promptly, "I go, sir," but went not. "Which of the two did the will of the father?" Jesus asked them. "The first," they answered correctly. It was just an illustration of the different ways in which John Baptist’s hearers had responded to his ministry of righteousness. These proud and polished leaders of the nation professed righteousness but it was profession only. The publicans and harlots whom they despised, seemed by their lives to be denying obedience, but in repentance came and yielded. They entered the kingdom before the unrepentant, self-righteous priests and elders and scribes.
Then there was another parable. A householder; a vineyard; a winepress in anticipation of fruit; a watch-tower to guard against intruders; husbandmen to labour in the vineyard; and the owner went to a far country. When vintage time came servants were sent to receive the expected fruit. These were beaten and stoned, and another killed. More servants were sent and suffered similarly. Last of all he sent his son, thinking that they would reverence him, but they said, "This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and let us seize on his inheritance." They caught him, cast him out, and slew him. What would the lord of the vineyard do to those husbandmen? "He would miserably destroy those wicked men," they replied. The Saviour used the sword of the Word again, "Did ye never read?" he asked. How such a question would have angered them. They? Chief priests and elders? They who knew the Scriptures so well? "Did ye never read?" He quotes Ps.118 to them, the very Psalm from which the children had quoted when they had cried "Hosanna." Now from the Psalm He reminds them of the stone which the builders rejected, but which became eventually, the head of the corner. The stone of the Psalm was the Son of the parable. They would reject Him, but he would yet be exalted. They rightly perceived that the parables spake of them, and but for fear of the people they would have arrested Him there and then. In the chapter that follows He has yet another parable for them.
—to be continued (D. V.)
by J. Riddle (Cheshunt)
(11) THE MAN WHOM THE KING DELIGHTETH TO HONOUR, Part 1
Read Chapter 6
The words that stand at the head of these notes occur five times in this chapter. The passage signals the beginning of Mordecai’s rise to honour, and the beginning of Haman’s journey to the gallows. We are given a glimpse of Mordecai’s coming glory as "the man whom the king delighteth to honour." It is a foretaste of the day when "Mordecai was next unto king Ashasuerus, and great among the Jews," 10.3. All of which reminds us that "we see Jesus … crowned with glory and honour," and that His glory is soon to be fully displayed. But the beginning of Haman’s downfall reminds us not only that Satan is already a defeated foe, but that ultimately he will be "cast out into the earth … having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time," Rev.12.7-12. Haman’s wife and friends were certainly convinced that he had "but a short time!" vl3.
We will study the chapter under four paragraph headings as follows:
- A man who had not been honoured, v1-3;
- A man who wanted to be honoured, v4-9;
- a man who was publicly honoured, v10-11;
- a man who would never be honoured, v12-14.
1) A MAN WHO HAD NOT BEEN HONOURED, v1-3
"And the king said, What honour and dignity hath been done to Mordecai for this? Then said the king’s servants that ministered unto him, There is nothing done for him," v3.
Notice, first of all, the perfect timing in every detail of the story:
- It was the right night. "On that night could not the king sleep." That is, the night before Esther’s second banquet. If Ahasuerus had suffered a bout of insomnia on any other night, the story might have ended rather differently.
- It was the right book. "He commanded to bring the book of records of the chronicles; and they were read before the king." He could have endeavoured to while away the time in some other way (how about the court musicians?), or asked for a completely different book. It appears from Ezra 6.1-2 that the royal palaces had extensive archives.
- It was the right entry. "And it was found written, that Mordecai had told of Bigthana and Teresh … who sought to lay hand on the king Ahasuerus." They could have read from other parts of "the book of records of the chronicles."
- It was the right question. "What honour and dignity hath been done to Mordecai for this?" The king could have grunted approval, and let them read on!
Notice, secondly, that what had not happened was also perfectly timed. Just suppose Mordecai had been honoured at the time of the incident in question. Or suppose that he had clamoured for some kind of recognition or reward. Events could have turned out very differently. Now let’s notice some important lessons:
A) God’s providence is perfect
We have already noticed this in our studies. Let’s quote J. Sidlow Baxter again: ‘God arranged non-miraculous events to achieve a predetermined outcome – which makes it all the more miraculous."
Now listen to Peter preaching on the day of Pentecost: "Him, being delivered by the determinate counself and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken and by wicked hands have crucified and slain," Acts 2.23. Now it’s Paul writing. "But I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel," Phil.1.12. Aren’t these New Testament examples of divine providence? Just think about your own life now – you should be able to supply a few examples of your own!
B) God’s Son must be honoured
Ahasuerus had failed to honour the man who had delivered him from death. "There is nothing done for him." We know that this was prearranged by God, but could we, even faintly, see ourselves in this picture? The Lord Jesus has delivered us from death at infinite cost, and are we failing to honour Him in our lives? Could it be said of us, "There is nothing done for HIM?" Listen to the New Testament again: "For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: and that He died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto Him which died for them, and rose again," 2Cor.5.14-15. See also lCor.6.20; "For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God …" Read Ecc.9.14-15. It is generally true in the world that "no man remembered that same poor Man." But do WE leave Him out of our calculations?
C) God’s people must be humble
We have already noticed that Mordecai never clamoured for recognition. Solomon observed that "The fear of the Lord is wisdom; and before honour is humility," Prov.15.33. This was preeminently true of the Lord Jesus. He was "obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted Him, and given Him a name which is above every name," Phil.2.8-9. Peter writes: "Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time," lPet.5.5-6.
2) A MAN WHO WANTED TO BE HONOURED. v4-9
Haman was dazzled by his own success. Ahasuerus had "advanced him, and set his seat above all the princes that were with him," ch.3.1, ch.5.11. Everything seemed set fair for him. He had enjoyed a private drink with the king, ch.3.15 and was to accompany the king to the queen’s banquet. So, "Haman thought in his heart,
To whom would the king delight to do honour more than to myself?" v6. It was even better than getting permission to hang Mordecai! He didn’t have time to make that request anyway! Not let’s notice some lessons:
A) He was obsessed with his own importance
You’ll notice that it was an attitude of heart: "Now Haman thought in his heart." The previous reference to his heart reveals the same thing: having been invited to the banquet, "Then went Haman forth that day joyful and with a glad heart," ch.5.9. So Haman entered the king’s presence with a very proud heart. Notice that he observed court etiquette: he was in the "outward court," v4 – as opposed to the "inner court" of ch.5.1; see ch.4.11. But outward ceremony masked inward pride, and inward hatred for Mordecai. It’s very easy to ‘go through the motions,’ especially in assembly life. We like to be as orthodox as possible, and do exactly the right thing. Every ‘i’ is dotted, and every ‘t’ is crossed. But it can mask "anger … malice," Col.3.8, and other evils just waiting to be let loose.
How do we enter the King’s presence? John the Baptist said, "he must increase, but I must decrease," Jn.3.30. There was no decreasing with Haman. We can just imagine how Haman would have responded if Elisha had said to him, "What is to be done for thee? wouldst thou be spoken for to the king, or to the captain of the host?" He would have jumped at the opportunity! But just listen to the lovely answer from the "great woman" of Shunem: "I dwell among mine own people." No wonder she was "a great woman!" 2Kgs.4.8-13. Paul had to remind the proud Christians at Corinth that any ability they possessed was entirely God-given: "What hast thou that thou didst not receive? Now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?" 2Cor.4.7. Whether it’s our position, or gift, or whatever -none of us has any reason to "glory in His presence."
B) He was ambitious for the highest place
Just like Diotrephes: "Who loveth to have the preeminence among them," 3Jn.9., or like the Pharisees, "Ye love the uppermost seats in the synagogues," Lk.11.43. The Lord Jesus taught that "Whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister (servant diakonos); and whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant (doulos)," Matt.20.26-27.
Haman sought recognition on a scale that put him almost on the level of the king himself. Just contrast this with the way Paul describes the status of the apostles in lCor.4.9, where the word "last" is a technical term describing prisoners bringing up the rear of a triumphal procession and destined for the arena. Haman’s aspirations remind us that in the end-time, the "man of sin" will sit "in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God," 2Thess.2.4. How different to the Lord Jesus Who came "not to be ministered unto (to be served), but to minister (to serve), and to give His life a ransom for many," Matt.20.28.
C) He was totally unworthy of promotion
Mordecai had actually done something to benefit the king. But Haman, the king’s favourite, had done nothing of merit. All he had achieved was confusion at Shushan, ch.3.15 and immense distress to Jewish citizens in the Persian Empire, ch.4.3. But then, it’s often true that the greatest chaos is caused by people who seek position and prominence.
—to be continued (D.V.)
by Graeme Hutchinson (Belfast)
Uzziah (Paper 12)
The reign of king Uzziah, Azariah in 2Kgs.l5.1, was noted for its length (52 years upon the throne) and variety. As his father before, Uzziah began his reign with some power and godliness, only to succumb to the problems of pride towards the end. 2Chron.26 records the fact that the king was:
Similar to the help that Jehoida gave to king Joash, 2Chron.24.2, Uzziah was influenced by a man of God, Zechariah, 2Chron.26.5. From the moment he rose to prominence in Judah we can observe how he acted with regards to:
2Chron.26.2-3 reminds us that the king, when only sixteen years of age, restored Eloth to the nation. This place was once the possession of Judah when Solomon was ruler, 2Chron.8.17, however it had fallen into the hands of the enemy1. Upon entering the assembly we may find that certain values or truths have been lost through time, should we not endeavour to restore such things? Perhaps we should take our example from the Lord Himself: ‘I restored that which I took not away,’ (Ps.69.4).
- 1 Perhaps it was under the reign of Jehoram that Eloth (in the land of Edom) was recaptured by the Edomites (2 Chron. 21.8-10).
2Chron.26.6-7 illustrates the king at war. With the help of God he was able to defeat the enemy and enlarge the nation. As soldiers, 2Tim.2.3, may we be as successful in our military campaigns. Contrast 2Chron.26.7, ‘God helped him’ with Ps.108.12, ‘Vain is the help of man.’ Relying on the help of man, whilst natural at times, is bound to fail. Remember the words of the Lord in Jn.15.5, ‘without me ye can do nothing.’
2Chron.26.9 records that Uzziah had a desire to protect the nation against possible attacks. It was good to invade, but how necessary it was to defend against likely reprisals. The Apostle Paul had a similar desire in Acts 20.28-31. Timothy was exhorted in the second epistle to do likewise, 2Tim.3. We live in an age where the child of God is under tremendous pressure for the conflict still rages against the enemy but we need to ‘withstand’, Eph.6.13.
2Chron.26.10 outlines the interests that the king had in things horticultural! The end of the verse is particularly revealing; ‘he loved husbandry’ or ‘he was a lover of the ground’ (Newberry margin). lCor.3.9 reminds us that the assembly is likened to the ground. What a man Uzziah would have been in the assembly, a lover of the assembly, its truth, people and Head! Do we have similar attitudes towards the assembly? See 2Tim. 2.6.
2Chron.26.5 informs us that, whilst not making material possessions his main desire in life, he still was prosperous. Moreover, the verse stresses that it was God who ‘made him to prosper.’ Scripture never criticises those that have riches, but it does caution against making it the motive for living, lTim.6.9, 17. In the spiritual sense, the believer is rich beyond measure but not all believers realise this. For instance, a recent convert will appreciate the blessings of salvation, but it is only when Ephesians is read that they realise the extent: ‘Blessed with all spiritual blessings … in Christ,’ Eph.1.3. The same holds for 2Cor.8.9. In all probability we can make a strong correlation between point (a) and (b). The reason for his prosperity was due to his productivity. The more we explore the Word, the more we shall understand of the ‘treasures’, Col.2.3, and the riches that we have in Christ.
2Chron.26.15 records a solemn statement: ‘marvellously helped till he was strong.’ As with many characters in Scripture, once Uzziah began to sense his own strength the problems started to appear. Verse 16 remarks that ‘his heart was lifted up to his destruction.’ Jer.17.9 stresses the precise nature of the heart, and it was this that was to be the downfall of Uzziah. No matter how good we become on the outside, we must always remember how bad we are on the inside! Contrast Jehoshaphat with Uzziah: the former had his heart ‘lifted up’ for good, 2Chron.l7.6, the latter to destruction. We can further observe:
• His Desire
Uzziah wanted a career break! Perhaps discontent with only being king, he went into the temple to perform the role of priest. We too may, at times, feel that our position within the assembly is unsatisfactory and not maximising our potential. However, ‘godliness with contentment is great gain,’ lTim.6.6. Let us accept the role that the Lord has given and seek to realise all that the Lord wants us to do within that role.
• His Determination
For Uzziah, his desire to act as priest was not something that he merely harboured in his heart, he actually went into the temple to burn incense, 2Chron.26.16-17. However, Old Testament teaching had clearly separated the tribe of Judah as the royal line, Gen.49.10, and the tribe of Levi as the priestly line, Deut.33.10, Ex.28.1, Ex. 4.14. Whilst David was able to combine the role of king, 2Sam.2.4, and Prophet, Acts2.29,30, this was not to be the case with King and Priest. With the exception of Melchisedec (before the establishment of the nation) no king was to perform the role of priest. Why? Such a position was to belong to the Lord Jesus Christ, Zech.6.13. Uzziah then, not only desired something that he was not to have, he also upset a type of Christ.
With Uzziah’s transgression and subsequent anger, the Lord smote him with leprosy, 2 Chron.26.19. Such was the extent of the leprosy that it rose to the area of his forehead, for all to see, and he eventually died of the disease, v21. ‘Cut off from the temple and the throne!
Whilst we may express sorrow at the way in which king Uzziah ended his reign, one that had commenced so promisingly, it is still possible to record some positive features from the narrative. Undoubtedly the principle of Rom.5.20 can be observed: ‘Where sin abounded grace did much more abound.’ Consider the following:
• 2Chron.27.2 records that when his son, Jotham, took control of the throne, he had obviously learnt the lesson that Kingship and the Priesthood must not overlap. May we similarly learn from the mistakes of others and so avoid the pitfalls that others have fallen into.
• When Uzziah died of his leprosy, the prophet at the time, Isaiah, was given a vision of the Lord upon His throne, Isa.6.1. In this vision, Isaiah was reminded that, relative to a Holy God, the entire nation was spiritually leprous, Isa.6.5. Living in an age where sin and iniquity are on every hand, may we live godly lives and so be enabled to stand faithful to Him.
Thus, Uzziah was another king who followed the usual pattern: starting well and finishing badly. May we implement his positive features, be productive in the things of God and enjoy the riches that are in Christ, and avoid the negative points by remaining humble within the assembly and avoiding any desire to take the prominent place. Such a position belongs solely to the Lord, Col.1.18.
See paper 1 for details of Bibliography/Figures —to be continued (D.V.)
by J. E. Todd (England)
2. THE VINE
Sometimes the nation of Israel, God’s earthly people, is likened to a vineyard. God so likens His people in Isaiah’s parable of the vineyard, 5.1-7. A vineyard is brought into being at no little cost of labour. A fertile site must be chosen, vl. The site must be cleared and prepared and planted with choice vines. A watchtower must be built for storage and for the watchman. A winepress dug for the treading of the grapes, v2.
God had chosen the land of Israel to be the site of His spiritual vineyard. The descendants of Jacob (Israel) were His chosen vines, v7. God, at no little labour, had delivered the children of Israel from their Egyptian slavery and preserved them during their journey through the wilderness and finally planted them in the land which flowed with milk and honey. "Thou hast brought a vine out of Egypt: Thou hast cast out the heathen, and planted it," Ps.80.8. But, "What could have been done more to My vineyard, that I have not done in it? wherefore, when I looked that it should bring forth grapes, brought it forth wild grapes?" Isa.5.4. God had looked for the grapes of obedience, worship and love for Himself, also justice and righteousness to one another, v7. But the vineyard of Israel produced the wild grapes of idolatry and sin.
A fruitless vineyard is abandoned, "I will lay it waste," v5-6. Thus God in judgment was to abandon Israel and Judah to their Assyrian and Babylonian enemies. Israel proved to be a false vine.
The nation of Israel had failed to produce a people for God, a people who would love Him and serve Him, and also love one another, So when the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, came into the world, He announced, "I am the true vine", Jn.15.1. He came to call out a people from every nation and form them into a fruitful people for God. "The great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto Himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works," Tit.2.13-14.
As God the Father had planted Israel, the failed vine, so now He sends His own Son to be the true Vine. "Return, we beseech thee, O God of hosts: look down from heaven, and behold, and visit this vine (Israel)," Ps.80.14. "My Father is the vinedresser," Jn.15.1,R.S.V. "The Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world," 1 Jn.4.14.
But the coming of the Christ was to cause a division in Israel. "I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee (Moses), and will put My words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him. And it shall come to pass, that whosoever will not hearken unto My words which he shall speak in My name, I will require it of him," Deut.18.18-19. "But who may abide the day of His coming? and who shall stand when He appeareth?" Mal.3.2. Those Jews who did not repent and receive Him at His coming were to be rejected. For as John the Baptist said, "And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire", Matt.3.10. So the fruitless branches which did not respond to their Messiah were taken away, "Every branch in Me that beareth not fruit He (the Father) taketh away," Jn.15.2. Thus to suffer the prophesied fate of judgment for such people, "When the boughs thereof are withered, they shall be broken off: the women come, and set them on fire: for it is a people (Israel) of no understanding: therefore He that made them will not have mercy on them, and He that formed them will shew them no favour," Isa.27.11. "If a man abide not in Me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned", Jn.15.6.
But those who abide in Christ will produce the fruit pleasing to the Father. "Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except ye abide in Me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in Me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without Me ye can do nothing," Jn.15.4-5. As the life-saving sap flows from the vine into its branches and produces the grapes; so the Lord Jesus Christ, the true vine, gives the life-giving Holy Spirit to each believer to produce in his or her life the fruit that pleases God. "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance (self-control)", Gal.5.22-23.
The Lord Jesus Christ, the true vine, in contrast to the Israel of old, the failed vine, has created a worldwide fruitful people for God, that is the church. For the Lord said of Israel, "The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof", Matt.21.43. Of course, Israel will again bring forth fruit to God in that great and glorious day to come.
—to be continued (D.V.)
A Defence of this important New Testament Ordinance
by J. D. McColl (Australia)
Has the Ordinance of Baptism taken the place of the Rite of Circumcision?
The argument that baptism answers to circumcision and that, therefore, children are to be baptized tells against, not for, the practice. The child of an Israelite was circumcised, not to make him an Israelite, but because he was an Israelite by birth. The order was birth first, then circumcision; and so it is now. First, regeneration, or spiritual birth, then baptism. We read in Acts 16.3 that Timothy was circumcised long after baptism had come, and so strong were some in favour of it, the "apostles, elders and brethren," of the church in Jerusalem had to come together to consider the question of circumcision being forced upon converted Gentiles, as necessary to their salvation. If baptism had come in the place of circumcision, that would have been the time to say so, and finish the controversy. There is not a mention of baptism in the entire discussion that took place in Acts 15.1-29.
Circumcision is essentially a Jewish rite. It was enjoined upon Abraham and his lineal descendants, signifying a covenant relationship existing between the nation of Israel and God, Gen. 17. The administering of the outward sign did not indicate a moral state corresponding with the privileges to which the Israelite was admitted as a member of the Chosen Race. Birth, not circumcision, brought them into those privileges. There is nothing in the N.T. exactly analogous to the language of Gen.17. The most important Scripture is this connection in Col.2.11-12: "In whom (i.e. Christ) also ye were circumcised with a circumcision not made with hands, in putting off the body (of the sins) of the flesh in the circumcision of Christ; buried with Him in baptism, wherein also ye rose with Him through your faith in the working of God who raised Him from the dead." None but a prejudiced theorist could see in these words any indication of a divine intention to associate circumcision with baptism in the manner in which they are connected in the minds of certain interpreters.
".. .The circumcision of Christ". This is not the Jewish rite to which our Lord was subjected as ‘born under law’ for that being only an ordinance in the flesh (body). This is something which meant death, for the next verse speaks of ‘burial’, and refers to us being cut off at the cross, "being crucified with Christ" … We are not sealed with any outward mark, but with the Holy Spirit of Promise within. "Putting off the body of flesh". The word ‘putting off means ‘stripping off and casting away,’ being divested of a piece of filthy clothing. Our standing in Adam was terminated in the death of Christ, but the flesh as a principle of sin remains in the believer and must ever be judged. In the death of Christ we part with all our ruined condition attached to us linked with Adam – the Head of a ruined race.
"Buried with Him in baptism." Our baptism as believers did not remove our ruined state, but it shows forth in figure, what we as believers, as men in Adam, have already passed through, and we count our emergence from the baptismal waters as a figure, too, of our being raised with Christ. Baptism did not effect participation of being "buried" and "raised" with Christ, but our faith in the power of God did. A symbol of the essence of our spiritual experience.
"Uncircumcision of our flesh," vl3. The literal uncircumcision of these Colossian Gentiles was but a symbol of the fact that they were subject to their old state in Adam, until God in grace had brought them into living union with a risen Christ.
Circumcision as a rite is entirely Jewish; baptism as an ordinance is entirely Christian. The former was carried out on those who were already Jews; the latter is administered to those who are already Christian. As administered to others (i.e. to unbelievers, whether young or old) baptism is a mere farce, devoid of meaning, and in many cases at least, a successful device of the devil deluding people into the belief that salvation is secured by an empty ceremonial.
The important place given to Baptism in the great Commission, Matt.28.16-20
"All authority is given unto Me." Rejected and slain by man, He was raised by the glory of the Father, enthroned in the place of highest honour and made "both Lord and Christ". He was invested with absolute authority in every sphere. He used that authority in amazing grace for the spiritual enrichment of all nations, gathering His disciples around Him and giving them their marching orders.
"Make disciples of all the nations." His sovereign grace went beyond the confines of Israel, reaching out to the remotest bounds of Gentile lands. The Gospel preacher tells to all mankind the grand news that there is salvation from Hell for all who will repent and accept the Saviour of sinners. But the terms of His sovereign Master’s commission means more than this, it is, "Make disciples"; bringing believers to the feet of Christ to own Him as Lord and to obey His will no matter what the cost. The faithful servant must have nothing less than this before him, for anything else will not fulfil the terms of his commission.
"Baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you." The place of first importance was given to baptism in the commission, and the N.T. servant acted on those instructions, so that, in the N.T. it is not supposed that any believer would not be baptized. In this act of obedience in baptism the believer demonstrated, in a public manner, a severance of every moral tie that bound them to the world life, the sin life and the self life, making a solemn surrender of themselves to the complete authority of the Lord Jesus Christ. In this they openly declared their allegiance to Christ, and their willingness to "observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you." In the great commission there is equal emphasis placed upon the servant to "teach them to observe all things…," and this includes all that the Lord afterwards commanded in the progress of divine revelation until the Word of God was filled up. Paul reminds the Corinthian believers, "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" ICor. 14.36-37.
Let us note with interest the recurrence of the word "ALL" in the great commission.
- "All authority" — The Power All.
- "Make disciples of all nations" — The Parish All.
- "Teaching them to observe all things" — The Precepts All.
- "Lo, I am with you alway" — The Promise All.
The Lord Jesus had commanded His servants to baptize believers in the name (singular) of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost and these early Christians regarded it as a duty and privilege to conform to His will, considering it an immense honour, and a grave responsibility, to the name of the Triune Godhead called over them. Baptism by immersion was the Lord’s will and way. Is there a true believer who would suggest by his or her neglect that they are wiser than the Lord?
It is well that we constantly remind ourselves of the meaning and implications of our baptism. Are we living as baptised believers should live? Are we living daily in the spiritual power of association with Christ in His death, burial and resurrection?
As J. G. Deck expressed it so admirably-
- "Into Thy death baptised
- We own with Thee we died,
- With Thee, our Life, are risen,
- And shall be glorified.
- From sin, the world, and Satan-
- As ransomed by Thy blood-
- We here would walk as strangers
- Alive with Thee to God."
by Walter A. Boyd (South Africa)
No.2 — THE CONSECRATED LIFE (Continued)
(c) The Believer and Fellow — Christians, Romans 12.9-13
As indicated earlier Rom.12 is all about Christian relationships in various dimensions. By being in the family of God by regeneration, it is expected that instruction be given to guide us in our relationship with the Lord, 12.1, with the world, 12.2, and with the Church, 12.3-8. There has been a change of relationships from our unsaved days, which has brought a change of responsibilities. The apostle has dealt with the truth of the Body of Christ and the variety of gifts within the body, ch.12.3-8. He now returns his attention in ch.12.9-13, to the important matter of relations between fellow-Christians and their attitude to one another within the circle of Christian fellowship. Paul introduces us to the subject from v9 onwards, by stringing together a number of imperatives in rapid succession one after the other. This is not just a general list of Christian qualities that are expected of us as believers. These are the essential principles of Christian living that will enable the members with gifts to function smoothly, for the glory of the Lord and the good of the body.
The Practice of Love is the predominant theme of v9,10. It is interesting that in the other main passage on gifts in the assembly, 1Cor.12, Paul follows it immediately with a discourse on the need for and the principles of love. Now, after highlighting the gifts in v6-8, he elaborates on the principles of love by which those gifts operate efficiently and effectively. He does the same in Eph.4; he lists the gifts in v11 and then stresses the need for love in vl5, "but speaking the truth in love." One thing that is of paramount importance is the practice of love. Love is the basis of fellowship between the members of the body and the means by which they operate in harmony. It is love that lifts our fellowship together on the work of God beyond the camaraderie of earthly associations, it adds dignity to our relationships in the Lord and in the assembly.
Paul not only gives the requirement for love but also explains the characteristics of the love he expects us to practise. Love and sincerity ought to be happy companions. The word "dissimulation" is really hypocrisy. There must be no playacting in the practice of our love. If it is at all insincere, it loses its character and ceases to be love. Our love for one another ought to be patterned on the Lord’s love for us, His is sincere, real and sacrificial. If we strive for this there will be no insincerity but there will be genuine love for each other.
The next characteristic he expects us to manifest with love is purity, v9. In the practice of our love we must abhor that which is evil and cleave to that which is good. True love is pure love and love for goodness. Love that is patterned on our Lord’s love, is a love that hates evil. Love of evil things is not true love, it is nothing more than selfish lust. The word "abhor" used here speaks of a very strong revulsion against evil, a real loathing of anything that is wrong. Why does it follow the command for love? — Because love is often portrayed as blind sentiment with no discernment. Love, which is patterned on the Lord’s love, will not only turn away from evil but will also accept and cling to that which is good. What a challenge this is to our thinking! Love being practised in the fear of God governs our associations in such a way that we turn from evil and cling to good. If we each resolved in our heart, that by the power of God, we are going to implement this principle in life, there would be a dramatic change in personal and assembly testimony.
In v10, Paul adds emphasis to his theme of love, by introducing the word "Philadelphia" to his instructions. Hitherto, he has spoken of love by using the general term "agape", but when direct reference is made to relationships one with another, he intensifies his theme by using that word which appears only six times in our New Testament. It is not a general word for love, but highlights love with family affection. In the practice of our love one to another, we are to develop family affection. The exercise of love in v9 does not necessarily involve human emotions; but "brotherly love" in v10, is human affection for those within the family circle, the family of God. "Kindly affectioned" is the natural love of kindred-members of our family. We are to love brothers and sisters in the Lord as we would love brothers and sisters in the flesh, with a love that is warm, tender and affectionate. Such love will be characterised by loyalty, respect and a sense of responsibility for one another. Love and esteem, v10, "in honour preferring one another" will manifest that respect, which nowadays is often a scarce commodity. This is what Paul speaks of in Phil.2.3, "esteeming others better than ourselves." This is true humility, only a humble person can truly honour others by giving them preference. True humility is the result of true love, (philidelphia) one for another. The natural tendency is to despise those whom we do not like, or whom we see as a threat to our ambitions: we esteem ourselves better than they. This is sinful pride and is a reversal of God’s intention. True love is always unselfish and considerate of others.
In v11, the apostle moves from the practice of love to a new theme, Purpose in Service. The word "business" in the AV is misleading; Paul is not speaking of the business life of the Christian, although this can be included. The whole of the verse deals with the matter of serving the Lord; it should be marked by concentration of purpose, "in diligence not slothful," (RV). It means the whole being is fully alert and concentrated on the task of serving the Lord. It is serving the Lord with whole-heartedness, doing with all our might what our hands find to do. Our service should exhibit enthusiasm of spirit, "fervent in spirit." In our spirits, we ought to be energised fully by the Holy Spirit. It has in view being maintained in peak spiritual condition by the Holy Spirit and thus ready for any task in service of the Lord. Serving the Lord ought to be with willingness of heart, as bond servants "serving the Lord." Our service for the Lord amongst the saints must be characterised by diligence and enthusiasm and must be the exercise of love. When we serve each other in the assembly, we are serving the Lord.
In v12 the apostle continues to deal with the collective responsibility of the Christian and adds three more characteristics of a spiritual believer. The first of these characteristics is joyfulness or "rejoicing in hope." We cannot be aglow for God, serving the Lord with the features of v11, without being full of joy. Our rejoicing will be in the sphere of our hope. Here Paul is taking up a theme expounded in ch.8.24,25; "For we are saved by (to) hope; but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it." In Christ, we await the realisation of a substantial hope, glory with Him. When we are rejoicing in all that this entails, service for the Lord will not be irksome. Rejoicing in this hope is a joy that is independent of our circumstances, we know that our future is secured and assured.
The second characteristic is steadfastness, "patient in tribulation." Rejoicing in "the hope" will enable us to accept patiently whatever tribulation we may have to endure while here and until we enter fully into that hope. There is no doubt that we can use this as a diagnostic instrument to ascertain our spiritual condition. Being impatient in tribulation may be a symptom of one who has lost his grasp on the hope of ch.8.
The third characteristic is prayerfulness, "continuing instant in prayer." In the context of the assembly, those who serve together and suffer together will rejoice together and engage in preserving prayer for one another. The expression "continuing instant" is elsewhere translated as "continuing steadfastly," Acts2.42, or "attending continually," Rom.13.6. With this hope firmly set before us and being patient in tribulation is closely linked to continual prayerfulness. Are we not all rebuked by this simple imperative? How often our prayer life becomes sporadic, enfeebled by the pressures of the modern world with its rush, and quickened pace. Such a view of the Christian life emerges from these exhortations and encourages us to strive for this standard.
Verse 13 brings to our mind the practical outcome in a life lived to the standard God expects. These principles should be manifested in Practical Fellowship. This is a necessary part of the responsibility of Christians one to another. The welfare provisions made by many countries for its citizens have obscured this. True love will be expressed in a multitude of different ways, at the heart of which will be practical fellowship in material things. Two features of this fellowship ought to be prominent: generosity and hospitality. Love will take into account those who are in need and will seek to provide loving help as in the assembly at Jerusalem in the early days of the present dispensation.
"Distributing" means to enter into fellowship with other believers. This is more than mere giving, it means sharing the experience of the need, and results in mutual good. As I give to help another in need, I enter their privations in some measure and am edified thereby. It is the fellowship of the giver and the receiver; the fellowship of sharing what God has entrusted to me is more important than giving to alleviate a need. Hospitality is the practice of an open door towards the saints in a manner similar to distributing, which is having an open hand toward the needy. The need for hospitality is always present and those who accept their responsibility in this great service will find adequate reward to their eternal account. Both distribution and hospitality ought to be characterised by generosity, the Lord loveth a cheerful giver," 2Cor.9.7, this is not so much doing these things with a smile, but rather doing them with a full and willing heart.
—to be continued (D.V.)
by J. Grant (Scotland)
No. 3 — TEACHING
It may be thought strange that the subject of teaching should be introduced in papers dealing with the role of sisters in assembly life. Clearly it is taught that a sister will not speak in the gatherings of the assembly, lCor.14.34, so the teaching to which we refer is not that of publicly addressing the gatherings of the saints. In what way, then, does a sister teach? Although not in the gatherings of the saints, sisters have an important teaching role outwith these gatherings, to educate others who are in the fellowship of the assembly.
Titus addresses the sisters when he writes; "That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, obedient to their own husbands, that the Word of God be not blasphemed," Tit.2.4-5. In the sphere of the home, therefore, there is a vital responsibility to be undertaken by sisters of more mature years. In the climate of society today this is more necessary than ever when the fabric of family life is under attack from the Adversary. Assemblies are underpinned by strong family life, and when the world around us is discarding this and replacing it with immoral relationships, it is of extreme importance that believers hold fast to the teaching of Scripture on this matter.
Teaching on this subject by brethren from the platform must be given, but there are issues, which cannot be aired in the gatherings of the saints, many of which only a sister can tackle. This is where the teaching role of the older sisters comes in. Titus is not envisaging the setting up of "motherhood teaching meetings" in the assembly or "practical housekeeping courses" addressed by sisters. Rather he is teaching that in the home the older sisters, probably mostly on a "one to one" basis, will instruct the young wives in how a godly wife will act. Instruction will be given in all that is involved in loving husbands, loving children, managing the home and displaying kindness in a discrete manner. Older sisters will observe younger sisters with godly care, and will draw alongside with help when they see it is necessary. Younger sisters will not regard this as interference in their life, but will be happy to accept guidance from those who have experience in these matters.
It is important to note that the reason for the need of such instruction is "that the Word of God be not blasphemed". There may be a wayward younger sister, out of ignorance or even out of rebellion against the Word of God, who is bringing the testimony into disrepute. A home which is not properly kept, a family which is not cared for or gossip which is not edifying can all cause damage to the testimony of the local assembly. The world is watching critically and is eager to exploit any weakness, which they see in the home lives of believers. In such a situation the sister will be the subject of gossip and criticism in the locality, and the Word of God will also be spoken against. The sister in question will claim that the gospel has changed her but the world looking on will state that the change cannot be seen.
Particular problems are faced by wives and mothers who are saved and who have unbelieving husbands. When salvation comes, home life changes and the new Christian will be unsure how to deal with some of the issues. What does she do when her husband expects her to accompany her to the places where they previously spent time together? How does she act to enable her to attend the assembly gatherings? When issues arise regarding the bringing up of the children, what does she do? These and many other issues must be faced, and a sister who is willing to help will prove invaluable.
But the work of sisters in relation to the work of the assembly goes beyond that. Into Ephesus came a man from Alexandria, Apollos by name. He was "an eloquent man,-and mighty in the scriptures," Acts 18.24, and engaged with fervour in the work of the Lord. There were, however, important spiritual matters in which he had to be instructed, and Aquila and Priscilla, a husband and wife who had come to Ephesus with Paul, took an interest in him, and "expounded unto him the way of the Lord more perfectly," Acts 18.26. We cannot escape noticing that it was "they", both Aquila and Priscilla, who took him and expounded the way to him. It must be repeated that Priscilla would not do this in the gatherings of the assembly, nor would she take a leading part in the teaching of saints publicly. Clearly, however, she was able to converse with spiritual intelligence on the things of the Lord and help Apollos come to a greater understanding of divine truth. That he took the lessons to heart is obvious, as the brethren gave him a letter of commendation as he left Ephesus to journey into Achaia.
Because sisters do not teach publicly we may fall into the trap of thinking that it is of little importance whether they study the Scriptures. Such an attitude fails to appreciate that growth in Christian life is only possible as we know the Word of God, and therefore it is just as vital that our sisters read and study it as our brethren. How encouraging it is when in conversation sisters show that they have an intelligent grasp of the Book. The writer well remembers a godly, aged sister who sat through the weekly Bible Reading in silence. Walking home in her company she would converse with the young men and show that she was better acquainted with the passage which had been under discussion than many of the brethren who took part during Bible Reading. With a little smile she would sometimes say "I could not tell you in the meeting, but I can mention now…".
The influence, which such well-taught sisters can wield in the assembly, is great. When dealing with domestic matters younger sisters will be given advice which is Scriptural. Indeed guidance given at any time will be soundly based. The writer also remembers that when first attending a Gospel Hall, ignorant of assembly truth, it was another sister, the godly wife of a godly husband, who, as we sat one evening after others had gone home, first spoke to him of the significance of the breaking of bread. This godly couple opened their home to an insignificant and unpromising teenager, and "expounded … the way of God more perfectly".
Let our sisters never think that their role in the work of the assembly is simply a passive one. There is much to which they can turn their hands, and an intelligent appreciation of truth is vital if the work has to be done in a way which pleases Him. In all this work discretion is vital, and a lack of desire to be prominent is consistent with godliness. Godly sisters have much teaching to do and the saints will benefit from devotion to the Lord expressed in this practical way.
—to be continued (D.V.)
by Nitish Patel (London)
I was born in 1963 in East Africa where my grandparents had emigrated from India to find work. We lived in Kenya in a small town in the country. Though living in Africa, the Indians kept their religion and culture and I was brought up in a devout Hindu home where my sister and I were taught to be good and pray to various idols. We were never allowed to eat meat for that was supposed to be a great sin.
Due to turmoil in East Africa we had to leave and settled in London in 1968. It was here that I first went to school. We would have to say the Lord’s prayer every day and sing hymns in assembly such as "Jesus bids us shine with a pure, clear light". I never heard the name "Jesus" before and asked my mother concerning Him. She made up a story and told me that He was a shepherd who lived long ago and looked after sheep. The Romans used to come and kill them for food. He was so angry with people eating meat, that he tried to stop them but they crucified Him! I thank God that I was not left in such darkness concerning the Saviour for long.
Things changed when in 1972 our two cousins came to live with us from Africa. The house was crowded and we made a lot of noise. My father who owned a grocery store was getting a headache! He told his customers he did not know what to do with us! One customer was a sister in fellowship at Clifton Hall, which was at the end of our road. She suggested we were sent to Sunday school. We were promptly ordered to attend by my father!
I did not want to go but remember my cousin telling me "What would God think of you?" I feared God enough to go to this strange building.
To my surprise, I enjoyed Sunday school and heard stories from the Bible for the first time. The one thing I remember most is that we had to memorize Rom 6.23 for the following week to earn points. I enjoyed it so much I never missed a Sunday.
Hinduism with all its confusion soon left my mind for it never made any sense to me but the story of the Saviour made much more sense. The story of the love of God that sent His Son to die at Calvary for sinners was constantly taught as well as our responsibility to repent and receive Him into our hearts as our Saviour.
It was a number of years later, that the Spirit of God began to bring me under conviction and for a number of months I could not get out of my mind that I needed to be saved. At that time I was fearful of what others would think of me and said to myself that when I was older I would become a Christian but the conviction grew greater.
The Lord was to remind me in a strange way. At the end of 1973, I was sick and off school for a week but felt well enough to return one Thursday. However, while in class, I suddenly felt very ill and thought I was going to pass out. In my fear, I knew that the Lord was speaking to me and I prayed that "I will become a Christian, I will put it off no longer". I immediately felt better and was thankful to God.
Soon after, one night in 1974, I felt I could go on no longer as I was. I prayed "Lord Jesus, forgive me of my sin and come into my heart to be my Saviour." That moment a great burden seemed to lift from my heart and I knew that I was saved.
As the days passed, changes took place that can only be attributed to the work of God. I began to detest the pop music I used to listen to though no one told me it was wrong. Any bad language that I had picked up from friends at school had stopped. As the days went by, my life was completely changed. I had been born again!
As the years passed I witnessed to my friends at school though I was often mocked. I began to have a burden for my family who were not saved. I enjoyed the young people’s Bible class and never missed a meeting.
Sadly, due to the Charismatic movement most of the Sunday school teachers left for the denominations where this false teaching was practised, but not before they had tried to get us to join them. I never felt at home anywhere else except Clifton Hall where I had enjoyed the best years of my life.
For a while I became cold of heart and was full of questions that no one seemed to answer such as "how can God punish Hindus who never had the chance to hear the gospel?" The false teaching of Evolution at school also confused me.
I kept on reading the Word of God and praying for help. It was the words of a hymn greatly helped me to keep loyal to the Lord Jesus and kept me attending the assembly — "Trust and obey for there is no other way to be happy in Jesus but to trust and obey."
The Lord restored me to the joy of salvation and I was baptised on the 2nd of October 1983, and received into fellowship. Immediately I began to witness as I did before. I started to study the Scriptures seriously and found that all the answers to my questions were in God’s Word. I began to go to the park to give out tracts and also outside our Gospel Hall which lies on a main road.
At this time, I was at the City University in London, doing a degree in computer engineering but the Lord had other plans. Things did not work out and I dropped out. I sought to look for a job as an engineer but the Lord closed the door. I decided to find a job locally so that I could come home early and go trading. I immediately found a job as a computer operator with a local firm that was involved in oil exploration.
During the three years while I was working and trading, I had the joy of leading several souls to Christ. The Lord kept burdening my heart to go full time into His harvest field looking only to Him to meet my needs. I had a special burden for my own people in their darkness and I took up lessons in the Gujarati language in preparation to go into the work. Though it was my mother tongue, I had lost fluency in it having spent most of my life in this country. I told the brethren of my convictions and sought advice. They were happy to commend me to the grace of God. I left my job in November 1987 and was commended by my assembly for the Lord’s work amongst the Hindu people.
I had a lot of opposition from family and relatives initially. Some told me that I was a disgrace and would be begging on the streets. However, they knew little of our wonderful God who has promised to meet every need. It was a great surprise to them when He did.
I made my first visit to India in 1989 to see the Lord’s work there. It was there that I met my wife, Ellen, who has been a true help to me in the work. I was told that I have found a virtuous woman whose price was above Rupees!
We had both been praying about each other without the other knowing. When we found out, we recognised the hand of God behind it all and we were married a few months later on the 6th of May 1991. It has since been a privilege to visit India several times to help in the work there.
In the early days I laboured amongst the small Gujarati population in my area but the Lord opened a great door of opportunity when I was asked by the assembly in Wembley to come over to them. The Gospel Hall lies on a road, which is the main shopping area for Asians in the South East of England. Thousands come from miles around to do their shopping and we are able to preach the gospel to them.
The Hindu people are very open to the gospel and many invite us into their homes to tell them more of the Saviour. We have had the joy of seeing one Hindu man, Raja, saved who is now in fellowship. He is the first fruits of the work there and we labour on waiting to see the rest of the harvest.
The prayers of the saints will be valued as we continue to serve our beloved Lord Jesus.
DO YOU REALLY WANT PEACE?
The world presently has a great need and that is peace Whether we consider matters internationally, locally or personally, peace is paramount Many are said to be under stress from business and family life and find it impossible to be at rest and have a few moments peace To have a mind in turmoil and never to be able to relax in a congenial atmosphere must be an awful way to live However, all those problems will end when life ends — OR WILL THEY? Those who think death will bring relief often open a forbidden door and commit suicide But what then9 Many will say, "that is the end There will be no more problems After all we just die like the animals "
To know what happens after death we have only one infallible source and that is the Bible, the inspired Word of God This is what we read in Rev 14:11, "the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever and they have no rest day nor night " Dear reader, you could leave the turmoil of this life and open the door to the unending, relentless, eternal judgment of God1 The state of those who die unrepentant is given in Lk 16 and we read the words of a lost soul, v24, "I am tormented in this flame " Some, who should know better, teach there is no hell, no place of torment Such teaching is contrary to the Holy Scriptures and we say, "yea, let God be true, but every man a liar," Rom 3:4
There is only one source for eternal peace Mic 5:5 "this man shall be the peace
" Peace is to be found in a man It is not in a religion, creeds, ordinances, good works, a clean life or anything that man can do for himself We are "without strength," Rom 5:6 and cannot please God or bring ourselves nearer to Him Salvation is all from Him, Eph 2:8,9 "For by grace are ye saved through faith, and that not of yourselves it is the gift of God Not of works, lest any man should boast" How is this procured9 In Col 1:20 we read that God made peace through the work of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ "And, having made peace through the blood of His cross, by Him to reconcile all things unto Himself, by Him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven " Please note there is no reconciliation for those that may be "under the earth" — that is in hell God gave His Son to the death of the cross at Calvary, outside Jerusalem and there He bore the fulness of God’s judgment in order that God could save, forgive or reconcile sinners to Himself Thus we read of the Lord Jesus, "Who His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree," 1Pet 2:24 All that is required to give you peace has been done It is not a matter of you making peace with God, He has made the peace and you must accept the conditions laid down
How is that done? Listen to the invitation of the Saviour, "Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest," Matt 11:28 In this Man you can have eternal peace and that will give peace even in time "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee because he trusteth in Thee," Isa 26:3 Dear friend, take this great gift of peace with God and enjoy it forever "Therefoie being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ," Rom 5:1
- A greater than wise Solomon is here,
- In all His majesty; By far than Abraham, God’s friend more dear,
- From all eternity; Surpassing Jonah in His power to tell
- Thy mind, obediently; Greater than Jacob who gave them the well,
- For Christ gave all for me.
Matthew J. Cordiner
- There is no work of grace in the heart where there are no acts of grace in the life.
- If you are afraid that perhaps the love of money is getting a hold on your soul, start giving some of it away and see how you feel! If you feel glad (cheerful) then you are still safe, but if it almost breaks your heart then it is time to get down on your knees and pray to be freed from this sin of covetousness! It is going to ruin you unless you are delivered from it!
- Nearly four centuries ago, a poor monk bowed down with a sense of sin, might have been seen painfully climbing upon his knees the twenty-eight steps of the Sancta Scala at Rome. Many a time the words of the "Absolvo te" (I forgive thee) had been pronounced in his ears, but coming only from the lips of a fellow-sinner, they brought no ease to his conscience.
- Suddenly, a sentence from God’s Word, "The just shall live by faith," Rom.1.17, flashed upon his mind, and Martin Luther rose from his knees a justified and forgiven man.