ASSEMBLY TESTIMONY BIBLE CLASS
by J. Riddle
by R. Plant
by J. Sinclair
SALVATION AND HOW TO POSSESS IT
by J. Ritchie
THE UNEQUAL YOKE – UNTENABLE
by Tony van der Schyff
by A. Summers
by C. Jones
Assembly Testimony Bible Class
by J. Riddle (Cheshunt)
42) “Keep therefore the words of this covenant”
Read Chapter 29.1-29
In introducing our studies in Deuteronomy we noted that the book is not simply a repetition of previous instructions with particular reference to the new generation of Israelites who had grown up in the wilderness. This is clear from the opening words of chapter 29: “These are the words of the covenant which the Lord commanded Moses to make with the children of Israel in the land of Moab, beside the covenant which He made with them in Horeb” v.1. As we have seen, the book sets out in detail the terms and conditions on which Israel could enjoy their inheritance in Canaan. Chapters 29 and 30 deal with this in summary, and the covenant is then presented to the people by Moses in forthright terms, 30.15-20.
Chapter 29 may be divided as follows:
- the Proof of God’s Ability, vv.2-8;
- the Promise of Prosperity, vv.9-15;
- the Perils of Disobedience, vv.16-29.
1) THE PROOF OF GOD’S ABILITY, vv.2-8
The historical facts given in these verses illustrate the Lord’s ability to perform His covenant promises. In this way He graciously gave Israel every assurance that “what He had promised, He was able also to perform”. We should notice two things here:
a) Natural Observation
With their natural vision, “all that the Lord did before your eyes”, v.2, they had seen and enjoyed some amazing things: redemption vv.2-3; direction v.5; provision vv.5-6; possession vv.7-8. There is no need to amplify these further, save to quote C.H.Mackintosh: “They had no need of wine or strong drink – no need of stimulants. ‘They drank of that spiritual rock that followed them, and the rock was Christ’. That pure stream refreshed them in the dreary desert, and the heavenly manna sustained them day by day."
b) Spiritual Perception
“Yet the Lord hath not given you a heart to perceive, and eyes to see, and ears to hear, unto this day” v.4. So the people had seen all that the Lord had done but, at the same time, they had failed to learn lessons from the events that they had witnessed. Compare Matt.13.13-15. We should remember that Paul distinguished between natural vision and spiritual perception in saying, “Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant …” 1Cor.10.1. He refers here, not to ignorance of the facts of Israel’s history, but to ignorance of the lessons conveyed by their history. Remember Rom. 15.4!
2) THE PROMISE OF PROSPERITY, vv.9-15
The section can be nicely summed up by its first verses: “Keep therefore the words of this covenant, and do them, that ye may prosper in all that ye do” v.9. This is certainly an oft-repeated piece of advice. See, for example, Josh.1.8 and do notice that the Word of God was to impact Joshua’s speaking, “mouth”, thinking, “meditate”, and actions, “observe to do”. The Psalmist describes the "godly man" in similar terms, and adds, “he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper” Ps.1.3. In the New Testament, John actually prayed that Gaius’ material prosperity would match his spiritual prosperity! See 3 Jn.v.2. As C.H.Mackintosh observes, “Simple obedience to the Word of God ever has been, is now, and ever shall be the deep and real secret of all true prosperity”.
The terms of the covenant, under which prosperity is promised, are now set out. We should notice:
a) The Priority Involved, v.10
“Ye stand this day …”. Compare v.12, “That thou shouldest enter into covenant … which the Lord thy God maketh with thee this day”. God’s people were to act immediately. There are certainly times when we have to “sit still … until thou know how the matter will fall” Ruth 3.18, but here must be no delay in obeying the revealed will of God in the Word of God. Perhaps the Lord is saying to us: “Son, go work to day in my vineyard” Matt.21.28.
b) The People Involved, vv.10-11
“Ye stand this day all of you before the Lord your God; your captains of your tribes, your elders, and your officers, with all the men of Israel, your little ones, your wives, and thy stranger that is in thy camp, from the hewer of thy wood unto the drawer of thy water." The prosperity promised under the covenant, always provided that God’s people were obedient to His Word, was for all. It was “not just for a specially favoured, exclusive few. The blessings are for everyone; this agreement binds them all together, whatever their background, status or possessions” (Raymond Brown).
c) The Parties Involved, vv.12-13
The people were to “enter into covenant with the Lord thy God, and into His oath, which the Lord thy God maketh with thee this day…”. This emphasises their part and His part in the covenant. Like the covenant at Sinai, see Ex.19.5-6, there were two parties to the covenant here, whereas God alone undertakes to implement the terms of the new covenant. See Jer.31.31-34. While our salvation rests entirely upon the work of Christ and has the character of the new covenant inasmuch as it is “the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast” Eph.2.8-9, nevertheless Divine blessing in our lives now involves responsibilities on our part. We must heed the injunction “present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God” in order to “prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God” Rom.12.1-2.
d) The Purpose Involved, v.13
“That He may establish thee today for a people unto Himself, and that He may be unto thee a God, as He hath said unto thee, and as He hath sworn unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.” Once again, we should notice their part and His part. His desire was that they should be “a people unto Himself”, and that He would be “unto thee a God”. In this we have a delightful picture of mutual fellowship, joy and devotion. This remains God’s purpose for Israel, and it will ultimately be fulfilled. Indeed, it must be fulfilled, for “He hath sworn unto the fathers”. “I will say to them which were not My people, Thou art My people; and they shall say, Thou art my God” Hos.2.23. Our enjoyment now of such a relationship is dependent on our love and obedience. “If ye keep My commandments, ye shall abide in My love…” Jn.15.10.
e) The Perpetuity Involved, vv.14-15
“Neither with you only do I make this covenant, and this oath; but with him that standeth here with us this day before the Lord our God, and also with him that is not here with us this day”. It is worth noticing that Moses acts as the Lord’s spokesman here. Having frequently reminded the people of “the Lord thy God”, he now says “neither with you only do I make this covenant”, before continuing, “with him that standeth … before the Lord our God”. This is a timely reminder that the Gospel preacher also has an awesome responsibility: “We are ambassadors therefore for Christ, God as [it were] beseeching by us, we entreat for Christ, Be reconciled to God” 2Cor.5.20, JND.
The unchanging word of God must also be noticed. The terms of the covenant encompass the people of God in the centuries ahead, reminding us that although the canon of Holy Scripture was completed centuries ago, its teaching is binding upon us.
3) THE PERILS OF DISOBEDIENCE, vv.16-29
The ultimate result of their disobedience is described in vv.27-28, and the passage now describes the stages by which this dreadful situation would come about:
a) It would Begin with the Eyes, vv.16-17
“For ye know how we have dwelt in the land of Egypt; and how we came through the nations which ye passed by; and ye have seen their abominations, and their idols, wood and stone, silver and gold, which were among them." This was the first stage in David’s downfall, 2Sam.11.2.
b) It would Continue in the Heart, vv.18-19
By remembering the covenant they would be preserved from allowing their eyes to influence their hearts. “Lest there should be among you man, or woman, or family, or tribe, whose heart turneth away this day from the Lord our God … lest there should be among you a root that beareth gall and wormwood” v.18. Prov.4.23 applies here. Do notice that Moses saw immediate danger (with particular reference to idolatry): “whose heart turneth away this day from the Lord our God”. Backsliding is an ever-present peril. “Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall” 1Cor.10.12.
Moses describes it as “a root that beareth gall and wormwood”. Compare Heb.12.15. The idea of the root extending its tendrils under ground is clear in the next two references to the heart: “And it come to pass, when he heareth the words of this curse, that he bless himself in his heart, saying, I shall have peace, though I walk in the imagination of mine heart to add drunkenness to thirst”, meaning to add “the indulgence of the desire to the desire itself” (Ellicott’s Commentary). This describes the man who practises idolatry secretly. He knows the penalty for idolatry, “he heareth the words of this curse”, but takes refuge in the fact that his secrecy means immunity from judgment, failing to remember that “all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of Him with whom we have to do” Heb.4.13.
c) It would be Followed by Judgment, vv.20-21
All the attempts to hide sin come to nothing. “The Lord will not spare him, but then the anger of the Lord and His jealousy shall smoke against that man … and the Lord shall blot out his name from under heaven. And the Lord shall separate him unto evil out of all the tribes of Israel …”
d) It would End with Exposure, vv.22-29
In these verses we should notice:
- the Consequences of Sin, vv.22-23;
- the Commentary by Others, vv.24-28;
- the Clarity of God’s Word, v.29.
i) The Consequences of Sin, vv.22-23. The scale of destruction and desolation described here evidently emphasises the contagion of sin. What began with “the man, or woman, or family, or tribe” v.18, has become national. Hence “the plagues of that land … the whole land thereof is brimstone, and salt, and burning, that is not sown, nor beareth, nor any grass groweth therein …”. Compare Deut.8.7-9; 11.10-15. Both passages are followed by warnings, and they materialise here. Sin in our lives will rob us of the joy of our inheritance.
ii) The Commentary by Others, vv.24-28. Not only “the generation to come of thy children” and “the stranger that shall come from a far land” v.22, but “Even all the nations shall say, Wherefore hath the Lord done thus unto this land? What meaneth the heat of this great anger?” The answer is forthcoming from outside observers: “Then men (non-Jews) shall say, Because they (Jews) have forsaken the covenant of the Lord God of their fathers” vv.24-27, with resultant dispersion and captivity in “another land” v.28. How do people see us? Are we “walking in wisdom toward them that are without?”
iii) The Clarity of God’s Word, v.29. “The secret things belong unto the Lord our God; but those things which are revealed belong unto us, and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law.” While this oft-quoted verse may be applied generally, it makes infinitely better sense to bear in mind the context! C.H.Mackintosh makes it very clear indeed. “The revealed things are what Israel ought to have done, but did not do”, and this is confirmed by Deut.30.11, “For this commandment which I command thee this day, is not hidden from thee, neither is it far off”. C.H.Mackintosh continues: “the secret things are what God would do in spite of Israel’s sad and shameful failure … the counsels of divine grace, the provisions of sovereign mercy to be displayed when Israel shall have thoroughly learnt the lesson of their utter failure under both the Moab and Horeb covenants."
—to be continued (D.V.)
By R. Plant (England)
Paper 11 – Miscellaneous Matters
This paper covers some areas of children’s work that do not require a whole article individually.
The subject of discipline features large in many passages of the Bible and if we are going to conduct any work with children we need to maintain a sense of order in the gatherings. The Scriptural pattern that all things must be done “decently and in order” applies just as much to children’s work as it does to any other area of the Lord’s service. This is not always easy in modern society with its lack of discipline seen on every hand. However, if our work is to succeed we need to take discipline seriously. Sometimes it can be far better and more productive to have ten children listening and eager than one hundred with little interest and paying no attention! With God quality is always far more important than quantity! Therefore, if we are having real problems with unruly or difficult children, it may be better to stop those children from attending, no matter how much we would like to see them saved, so that we can concentrate our efforts on those who are interested and want to learn.
In the meetings I conduct each child has the opportunity of collecting points on a specially printed point’s card and these points can be traded in eventually for a prize, the value of which reflects the number of points earned. At the commencement of the meeting a warning is issued that if I have to stop because of misbehaviour, everyone will lose five points. This usually means the well-behaved children will try and ensure that the more unruly element do not spoil matters for the rest! If I have to stop a second time because of the same person I usually request that the child leaves there and then.
Another lesson I learned from a dear brother who used to be in the army, is the value of voice control! I have quite a loud voice and as a result am able, for the most part, to shout above any din if necessary. Conversely it can be very useful when the decibel level is rising too much, to drop your voice a little at a time, until the children realise that they cannot hear you anymore. It can be a very simple but effective means of controlling the children. However, it may also be necessary on other occasions to raise your voice and speak loudly in order to give a real feeling of authority.
Finally it is good if the adults involved are able to sit among the children during the meeting. This allows the one speaking to concentrate on his message knowing that these can exercise discipline as required. Also everyone involved in the work should be aware of the discipline policy and be willing to implement it fully when necessary.
Unless you are exceptionally gifted and can captivate children without the use of any aids or visuals you will probably have to make use of visual aids of one sort or another at some time. I discovered many years ago that it is best to avoid cartoon type pictures. Children invariably relate cartoons to what they watch on television and tend to believe that all cartoon characters are fictitious, thus undermining the truth of the Bible stories we are seeking to present. It is also good to make sure that whatever pictures you may choose to use are honouring to the Bible character they are supposed to represent. This is very pertinent when we think of our Lord Jesus Christ. My view is that no picture should be used to depict Him.
SPEECH AND HUMOUR
These are linked together since they are related. How we communicate with the children can affect in a large way, the effectiveness of our work. We are representing the Lord and so must always seek to use wholesome words and vocabulary in front of the children. “Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt” Col.4.6. Children do not need to be impressed by our use of their type of language; they need to be impressed with their very real need as sinners and of the Saviour who is ready to save. We need to be careful how we speak when addressing children so that the solemn dignity of the gospel is not undermined.
Yet we also need to appreciate that children enjoy fun! They are children after all and those who work with them should always remember this. Sometimes when working with children funny things will happen or be said. We need to laugh at these things even if we end up laughing at ourselves. This is not to imply that the children’s meeting should be run like a circus or a birthday party.
One thing that really concerns me in the assemblies generally and in children’s work in particular, is the impression that we often give of being very severe and hardhearted! I have observed occasions when outsiders come in and are gazed at by the saints or met with, what they would consider to be, a whole host of hostile questions! In my opinion we do need to work hard in this area and be much more welcoming to the sinner and stranger and to the children. The brother on the platform ought to look welcoming. I am sure that when the Lord sat with the little children He did not wear a scowl or have a frown! Yet so often I see and hear of those who hardly speak to the children as they enter and then will react to every movement, fidget or noise from the children with a word of rebuke or harsh look. Surely these things ought not so to be! Children will be children and we must acknowledge this. No matter how interesting the preacher is there will always be those there who will have difficulties sitting still or keeping quiet for a whole hour! That is part and parcel of children’s work. As has been already stated, discipline is very needful, however I try to allow the children time to settle down and appreciate what is taking place before rebuking any who may require a gentle reminder about their behaviour. I like to greet each child individually and express appreciation for their attendance. Finally, I also find this a most useful time for learning the children’s names which I believe is very important to allow a good relationship to exist between speaker and hearer. It also means that the children will find you much more approachable should they have a question to ask or comment to make following a meeting.
A BIBLE EXHIBITION
A method of reaching children and making contact with schools is a Bible exhibition. I would be the first to admit that we need to be extremely careful that we do not try to introduce into the assembly something that has no Scriptural mandate. However, over a period of around twelve years I have had the privilege of working with the Ayrshire Bible Exhibition in various assemblies around the United Kingdom. The way in which this operates has been well reported elsewhere, but it may be useful to remind readers of its usefulness. The value of such an exhibition may be listed as follows:
- It allows contact to be made with local schools, inviting them to bring classes to the exhibition free of charge in order to be taught about the Word of God and its message.
- Many children who would normally never come into the hall, or are not allowed to come by their parents, will be brought in because it has been sanctioned by the school they attend.
- Many hundreds of children can be taught at least a little of God’s way of salvation on these occasions when the seed of the Word of God is sown. As a result the Holy Spirit can work on what has been placed in their young souls.
- Teachers will, of course, be in attendance on these occasions and will invariably acknowledge that they too have learnt something during the visit. Also when teachers are offered some refreshment whilst their children are engaged in learning about the Bible, important conversations can develop.
- The schools having attended a well organised and informative exhibition will have much more confidence in making known to their pupils any other activities that the assembly may conduct.
- If the children can be encouraged to submit some piece of homework relating to the exhibition for which a prize can be offered, then a time can be arranged for assembly members to enter the school in order to present this prize. This of course can develop into regular visits into local schools in order to conduct assemblies or religious education lessons with all the benefits this entails.
- Upon completion of their visit all the children leave with a copy of John’s gospel and various other items connected with the exhibition like Scripture bookmarks etc. In addition to these, tracts and invitations to the regular children’s work of the assembly can also be included thus raising the profile of the more traditional works the assembly conducts.
- By hosting an exhibition the assembly can advertise locally and open its doors for an extended period during the day and evening during which time local residents can come into the hall and be engaged in personal conversations by members of the assembly. This can of course result in them being invited to and hopefully attending our usual gospel meetings.
- A visitors’ book can be provided and apart from allowing teachers to comment on what their children have learned can allow other visitors to leave their names and addresses which can then be followed up by the assembly at a later time.
- It is an avenue that can assist in getting people to come into the hall.
I am not for a moment suggesting that such a work should replace those regular works of our assemblies such as series of gospel meetings, children’s meetings, Sunday schools, tracting etc. If a Bible Exhibition is to be undertaken it should only be done as an additional work to that already undertaken by the assembly, in the hope that it will advance the testimony in the locality and ultimately feed into its other ongoing activities.
– To be continued (D.V.)
By J. Sinclair (Scotland)
In Paper 1 we noted that the portion from 2.1-6.19 had several sub-sections:
- Prayer in House of God, 2.1-7
- Deportment in House of God, 2.8-15
- Rule in House of God, 3.1-7
- Deacons in House of God, 3.8-13
- Behaviour in House of God, 3.14-16
- Departure in House of God, 4.1-16
- Relationships in House of God, 5.1-6.19
In our studies we have reached the seventh and the last:
vii) Relationships in House of God, 5.1-6.19
This is the longest of the above sections and can be divided into six different areas of behaviour as follows:
- The older in years and younger, 5.1-2
- The widows in the church, 5.3-16
- The elders in the church, 5.17-25
- Servants and Masters, 6.1-10
- Timothy’s personal charge, 6.11-16
- Timothy’s charge to the rich, 6.17-19.
a) The older in years and younger, 5.1-2
Paul commences by detailing the relationship that should exist in the church in their attitude to old and young. As to old men they should not be rebuked or castigated with words but in contrast, they should be “intreated” or appealed to, “as a father” with a respect for age. On the other hand, the “younger men” have to be treated as “brethren”, that is as not being inferior. The “older women” have to be treated as “mothers”, again meaning with respect for age and the younger women “as sisters with all purity". Here it involves no suspicion or wrong motives, with chastity and no impurity of spirit, manner, or act.
b) The widows in the church, 5.3-16
He proceeds to detail relationships between the church and widows. Firstly, “widows indeed” have to be honoured. This word “honour” does not always mean material support but has that meaning here. “Widows indeed” are defined later. Then, in v.4, he deals with the responsibility of children to widows in general. The injunction is to “children” and “nephews” or grandchildren. Their first priority is to show kindness and “piety at home” and to recompense their parents or grandparents. Here filial respect is an element of godliness. This is “acceptable before God” and lifts the instruction above just good moral behaviour but has to be done in the light of the will of God and in the sight of God.
In v.5 Paul defines a “widow indeed” as being “desolate”, that is on her own, and she displays that her hope and trust are set on God as her sole support and she is characterised by continual supplication and prayer. She is a spiritual person. The contrast to a widow indeed is one in v.6 who “liveth in pleasure”, not living a spiritual life and is spiritually dead.
In v.7 Timothy is exhorted to command and teach these things, stressing a warning to widows living in pleasure; the responsibility of the church to widows indeed; and the responsibility of children to their own folks. The objective of such ministry is that the church and the children shall be without reproach and not be open to censure.
In v.8 Paul condemns those who do not support their own relatives. Such behaviour implies he has “denied the faith”, meaning he has failed to fulfil the practical fulfilment of the truth of God “and is worse than an infidel”, meaning he is acting below the standards of unbelievers.
In vv.9-10 Paul gives more instructions regarding “widows indeed". It would appear there was a list kept in each assembly of those for whom it was responsible. Here it is stated that this list should not contain any widows under sixty years of age. Her spirituality stated in v.5 is now detailed to make her eligible to be recognised as a widow indeed and included on the list. She must have “been the wife of one man.” This moral standard was essential in elders, 3.2, and in deacons, 3.12, and here it is essential in widows indeed, because it shows that her married life had been above any reproach or immorality. In addition she has to be “well reported for her good works". She has a reputation for such. She has reared and nourished children in the ways of God. She has shown hospitality to strangers including washing the saints’ feet and “relieved the afflicted” who are sick, sorrowing and in distress and is characterised as one has who “diligently followed every good work".
In vv.11-15 Paul expands on the widows mentioned in v.6. Those under 60 years of age should not be included among the widows indeed. The first reason is they may “wax wanton against Christ” and marry again. This means they can act on impulse of their sexual pursuit and marry even an unbeliever, and so be condemned in that “they have cast off their first faith”, that is, have rejected their first pledge of loyalty to Christ at conversion. He shows that being reckoned widows indeed would leave them unoccupied in fruitful pursuits but on the contrary would make them “idle”, wandering aimlessly “from house to house” as “tattlers”, “busybodies” engaging in irresponsible gossip and causing trouble.
Paul gives, in vv.14-15, an authoritative wish or desire to young widows. He desires that they marry again. This is marriage in the Lord not out of waxing wanton against Christ as in v.11. He continues to exhort them to “bear children, and guide the house". By so doing they will not give “the adversary” occasion “to speak reproachfully” or to revile the things of God. Paul states that what he has said regarding young widows in vv.11-15 has actually taken place in some cases and they have listened to the voice of Satan with the result of vv.11-12.
Paul closes this section in v.16, with a final exhortation on the support of widows. This injunction widens the sphere of responsibility for support from children to a wealthy woman in the family circle. The word is feminine and has in particular a woman in mind but does not exclude a man. She would appear to be wealthy and is being instructed to support widowed relatives, while stressing the responsibility of all in this exercise. This again has in view the relieving of the assembly from the charge to help such widows and to concentrate on widows indeed. The administration or support to widows indeed would be the responsibility of the deacons detailed in 3.8-13.
– To be continued (D.V.)
Salvation And How To Possess It
By J. Ritchie
Some saints are afflicted with doubts regarding the possession of salvation and this new series is designed to highlight the truth of assurance. These papers are taken from an old (undated) book called "Salvation and How to Possess it," published by J. Ritchie
God’s WAY IN GENESIS
By Wm. Rodgers
In that very chapter in which the entrance of sin into the world is described, God sets before us in two ways His provision to meet the need that had arisen. In v.15, He reveals it in a statement He makes when pronouncing judgment on the serpent; and in v.21, He represents it by a picture, or type, the coats of skin which He provided for Adam and Eve by the slaying of an animal. A more important difference between the two references to it is that they give distinct views of what was to be accomplished by the coming Deliverer. In v.15, He is seen triumphing over the Devil; while in v.21, He is pictured as meeting God’s claims on account of sin, by His death.
To understand the need of both, let us remember that amongst the changes which took place when man fell, were these two. On the one hand, he lost the relationship to God, and the standing before Him, which he had previously enjoyed; on the other, he came into a relationship with the Devil, that had not existed before. In order, then, that the latter connection should be abrogated, Satan must be defeated; while in order that man should once more have a standing before God, the claims of His righteousness must be met. That there was One to come by whom both these requirements would be fulfilled, v.15 in the one case, and v.21 in the other make known to us.
Man as a sinner became the very “seed” of the Devil. In Jn.8.44, the Lord Jesus said to the most religious people of that day, “Ye are of your father the Devil;” and in 1Jn.3.8 we read, “He that committeth sin is of the Devil". The latter passage gives also a concrete example, for in v.12 it mentions Cain, “who was of that Wicked One and slew his brother". Thus, in this very epistle which teaches how like the children of God are to their Father, Cain, contrariwise, is seen to resemble his father. Jn.8.44, from which we have already quoted, describes the Devil as a murderer and a liar; and in both these characteristics Cain was like him; for he first murdered his brother, and then told the Lord that he did not know where Abel was. In so doing he also proved the existence of the enmity of which Gen.3.15 speaks, an enmity that has been manifest ever since, on the part of the children of the Devil, against the children of God.
Let it then be clearly understood that every one on earth belongs to one or other of these two families. There can be nothing between. Outside the circle of the children of God there are only the children of Satan; and therefore the question, To which family do I belong? is an exceedingly important one. From many Scriptures it is clear that those only are God’s children who are “born again” into His family, and so the question resolves itself into, How does the new birth take place? Has it taken place with me? The Scriptures reply to the first part of this very plainly, and in so doing make it possible for every one to answer the second honestly before God for himself or herself. In Jn.1.12,13 we read, “As many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name; which were born, not of blood, nor the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” And in Gal.3.26 it is stated, “Ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.” Thus neither baptism, nor any other outward ordinance, can bring about the new birth; but only the reception of Jesus Christ.
But the devil is not only a father; he is a master and king as well. His kingdom is the “Power of Darkness,” Col.1.13, and since the fall, all men in their natural condition are his slaves and subjects. Only those who have been “translated into the Kingdom of God’s dear Son” are free from him, for in this matter there are no neutrals.
Like “a strong man armed”, Satan guarded his palace and his “goods”, Lk.2.20-22. But “a stronger than he” came upon him, even the One who is the woman’s “Seed” of Gen.3.15, and this One took from him his armour wherein he trusted, and divided his spoils. He bruised his head, when through death He destroyed him that had the power of death, Heb.2.14. The mighty King who “opened not the house of his prisoners,” Isa.14.17, has been defeated, and the Lord now proclaims, “the opening of the prison to them that are bound”, Isa.61.1 and Lk.4.18. If the latter, like those in the synagogue of Nazareth, refuse to accept their liberty; if, like the slave in Ex.21.5,6, they say, “I love my master … I will not go out free”; they will have but themselves to blame, when the “acceptable year” shall have passed away, and they find themselves in Satan’s company in the lake of fire for ever.
Such then is the first aspect of the Gospel as presented in Gen.3, a message which says to the captive, “Go forth”, Isa.49.9, and then says to the freed one, “God shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly” Rom.16.20.
A very different side of the truth is illustrated by God’s action in v.21, where He provided Adam and his wife with coats made, not from fig-leaves, but from the skin of an animal. This, of course, implies the killing of the animal, and so took place the first death recorded in the Scriptures; a death which was designed beyond doubt as a type of the death of the Victim of Calvary, through whose work God clothes the sinner in a robe of righteousness, meet for His own eye to rest on.
For, as it has been pointed out, not only was it requisite that Satan’s power over man should be broken, but still more it was necessary that the judgment of a righteous God on sin should be exacted. Prior to the fall man stood before God innocent. He needed “no shedding of blood” in his approach to Him. But having sinned, this was so no more; and Adam’s fear and hiding, when God came down to the garden, proved that he was conscious of the fact. He was no longer innocent, but guilty; and such is now the natural condition of his descendants, as is clear from Rom.3.19, where “all the world” is seen guilty before God. It has ever been the Devil’s aim to get men to ignore this fact; and from Cain downwards he has been remarkably successful in doing so. Abel believed what God had made known, both as to his own need, and as to the remedy required. By faith he approached God on the ground of “shedding of blood,” doubtless copying God’s own act in ch.3.21. But Cain realised no necessity for this, and sought to come before God in his own way, with the result that he was rejected. He has had a multitude of followers, all down through the ages, and those who go in “the way of Cain” Jude 11, are to be found on every hand today. Their end shall be as his was, unless they humble themselves to take their true place as guilty, and while yet there is time, avail themselves of the sacrifice of Calvary, where the innocent One died in the stead of the guilty.
Thus the view of the Gospel which is sown in Gen.3.21 is that of 2Cor.5.21, “He hath made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.” Its message to the sinner who stands without, guilty and condemned, is “Come in”; and that not merely to the outer court, as it were, of God’s favour, but into the very Holiest, by the blood of Jesus, by the old way, which is still the “new and living way” Heb.10.19,20.
Reader, have you ever discovered yourself to be the slave of sin and of the Devil, and gratefully responding to the emancipating message of the Gospel trumpet, gone forth into the liberty wherewith Christ makes men free?
Have you ever learned that you were a guilty sinner, shut out from a holy God, and gladly embracing the provision made to meet your need at the Cross, Come in to a new standing before Him, “accepted in the Beloved”?
– To be continued (D.V.)
The Unequal Yoke – Untenable
By Tony van der Schyff (Wynberg, S. Africa)
Read: 2 Corinthians 6.14-18; 7.1
Look at the sevenfold conclusion in vv. 16-18, which includes a fivefold promise!
- 1. For ye are the temple of the living God
2. As God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them
3. And I will be their God, and they shall be My people
4. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate
5. And touch not the unclean thing, and I will receive you
6. And will be a Father unto you
7. And ye shall be My sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.
The Fivefold Promise
- “I will dwell in them”. Here we have the thought of residency. At the moment of conversion, the Holy Spirit takes up residence within the believer. “In whom ye also trusted after that ye heard (having heard) the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed (having believed), ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise” Eph.1.13-14. The Lord Jesus said of the Holy Spirit, “… the Spirit of truth …, He dwelleth with you and shall be in you” Jn.14.17.
- “And (I will) walk in (among or in the midst of) them”. Here we have the thought of rule. It is always a good thing to be reminded of the vital need for Christ to be “in the midst”, in the central place of absolute control. As far as the local assembly is concerned He is in the midst of the two or three who gather together in His Name, Matt.18.20. He is the One who walks “in the midst of the seven golden lampstands” Rev.1.13. He is the Lamb as it had been freshly slain, seen standing “in the midst of the throne and of the four living creatures, and in the midst of the elders” Rev.5.6. We need to have Him in the midst of our situations and circumstances as far as our personal lives as believers are concerned.
- “And I will be their God, and they shall be My people”. Here we have the thought of reconciliation. The atoning work of Christ on the cross has brought about the glorious result and effect of reconciliation. “We have been reconciled to God by the death of His Son” Rom.5.10. The finished atoning Calvary-work of the Lord Jesus forms the solid basis upon which a just God and a justified sinner can meet together. God and Man are brought together, reconciled on a righteousness basis because peace has been provided and procured on the Cross. “For I am His and He is mine, for ever and for ever” (A. S. Sullivan).
- “Come ye out from among them, and be ye separate, and touch not the unclean thing, and I will receive you”. Here we have the thought of reception. There is mutual reception at the moment of conversion when we receive Christ and He receives us. “For unto as many as received Him, to them gave He the authority to become the children of God, even to them that believe on His name” Jn.1.12. “This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them” Lk.15.2. Every believer is welcomed into the family and flock of God. But there is going to be another glorious reception when Christ returns to the air “to receive you unto Myself, that where I am, there ye may be also” Jn.14.2,3. In the meantime as we walk the path of separation from the world and its evil influences, we are assured of the wide-open arms of the Father in welcome. What a lovely reminder of this in the narrative of the return of the prodigal son who had to leave the world and its wicked ways behind and make his way back to the father and the father’s home where, upon confession and repentance, he was received with joy and rejoicing, Luke chapter 15.
- “And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be My sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty”. Here we have the thought of relationship. The father-child relationship and vice versa. We are able to call God our Father because “we are all the children of God through faith in Christ Jesus” Gal.3.26. Because we have received the Holy Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, “Abba Father” Rom.8.15; Gal.4.6.
Whilst all unequal yoke relationships are serious transgressions for any believer, there is no doubt that the unequal yoke in a marriage relationship is perhaps the most serious of all the unequal yokes in which a believer can become entangled. The reason being that marriage in terms of God’s original intention when He instituted it (which still pertains today, Matt.19.8), was that this bond is for life and only death or the return of the Lord Jesus Christ at the rapture can sever it. An unequal yoke marriage relationship has proven again and again down the passage of time to have the most disappointing consequences and spiritually-disruptive and destructive experience for a believer who has gone against the clear teaching of the Scriptures, and more so when there are children born of the marriage and there is a constant tug-of-war as to what is right and what is wrong for the bringing up of children in such a home.
May the Lord give us the necessary wisdom and willingness to bow to the teaching of Scripture regarding the truth of separation from the world that the lines of distinction so clearly set out in God’s Word, might never be allowed to become blurred or obliterated. “Having therefore [since we have] these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse [purify] ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting [bringing to its desired end] holiness [sanctification] in the fear of [out of reverence for] God” 2 Cor.7.1.
By A. Summers (Scotland)
In the last article it was noted that the Millennial Temple is a huge building compared to the tabernacle or any other temple of Scripture. This article looks at some other contrasts.
The only water in the tabernacle and in subsequent temples was in the laver. In the Millennial temple there is no mention of a laver. Since Scripture describes the Temple in great detail the correct deduction appears to be that there will be no laver in the Millennial Temple. This does not mean however that there will be no water. Instead there will be a spring of water emanating from a spot to the south of the altar, Ezek.47.1. It will run in a narrow channel towards the east gate and pass under it, presumably in a conduit, deepening and widening as it goes until it at last enlarges into a river deep enough to swim in, Ezek.47.2-5. A reconciliation of Zech.14.8 with Ezekiel chapter 47 suggests that after leaving the Temple the river turns southwards towards the city of Jerusalem (which in the Millennium lies to the south of the Temple) and then divides. One river passes west towards the Mediterranean and the other runs down to the Dead Sea. Ezekiel describes the transformation of the Dead Sea into the Living Sea, “Then said he unto me, These waters issue out toward the east country, and go down into the desert, and go into the sea: which being brought forth into the sea, the waters shall be healed. And it shall come to pass, that everything that liveth, which moveth, whithersoever the rivers shall come, shall live: and there shall be a very great multitude of fish, because these waters shall come thither: for they shall be healed; and everything shall live whither the river cometh. And it shall come to pass, that the fishers shall stand upon it from Engedi even unto Eneglaim; they shall be a place to spread forth nets; their fish shall be according to their kinds, as the fish of the great sea, exceeding many” Ezek.47.8-10.
This suggests that in the Millennial Temple the emphasis will be not so much on the cleansing of worshippers in a world defiled by sin but on the life that God has brought to the world through the death of the Lord Jesus Christ. The water springs from the altar, flows out from the court and gushes into the desert. Where there was once salt and aridity new life springs up. Where once life struggled to survive, trees blossom, Ezek.47.12, and the waters teem with “a very great multitude of fish”. This new Eden is sustained and nourished by the water from the altar. Well did the Psalmist write, “There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the most High” Ps.46.4.
The water described by Ezekiel will flow out from the Temple in order to rejuvenate a world blasted by the effects of the tribulation. So too the assembly ought to be a source of spiritual water for a thirsty world. Too often we dam that water within the walls of the assembly when we should let it flood out. All believers ought to be a source of living water, Jn.7.38, to the world but the assembly ought especially to have a desire to spread the gospel. The waters that leave the temple are evidently no trickle but deepen and enlarge until they ultimately become “waters to swim in” Ezek.47.5. It is plain that there is a strong current. The waters are not stagnant but are driven with a mighty power out from the Temple and into the desert. In some assemblies regrettably the flow has become a trickle and the energy of the gospel has been lost.
A PLAIN BUILDING
Another point of contrast is that unlike the Tabernacle or Solomon’s Temple, the temple for the Millennium is a relatively plain building. We are not told the material of which the walls will be made. It seems likely that they will be built of stone. But nothing is said to suggest that the stonework is elaborate or ornate. There is no mention of a golden altar or of a brass laver or sockets of silver. No jewels are mentioned and there is no reference to the varied colours, blue, purple, scarlet used in the Tabernacle. The only parts of the temple which are said to be adorned in any way are the posts of the entranceways, Ezek.40.16, where there are carvings of palm trees and the walls and doors of the Inner Temple, Ezek.41.20,25, where alternating cherubim and palm trees are carved. While it is possible that precious metals and rich fabrics will be used, it seems more likely that in the absence of any reference to such things the Millennial Temple will be a plain structure. This is consistent with the spirit of the New Covenant that will be in operation in its fullness during the Millennial age. It is a covenant that in contrast with the Old Covenant does not dwell on the external or superficial but on the internal and spiritual. The chief glory of the Temple will not be its fittings and fixtures but the fact that the Lord is there. We learn of His entrance in chapter 43 and the glory that will light up the great Temple.
The church is the present day answer to the temple. It is not governed by the Old Covenant but by the New Covenant. The church relies on the promise of forgiveness which is the very heart of the New Covenant, Heb.8.6,10-12; 2 Cor.3.6 et seq. It partakes of the cup in remembrance of the blood of the New Covenant, Matt.26.28; 1 Cor.11.25, and yet it stands apart from those material and physical blessings which are the peculiar legacy of Israel. In a word the spiritual blessings of the New Covenant are for the believer today but its physical blessings await the day of Israel’s glory. It is therefore interesting to see what kind of temple the New Covenant Temple will be and to trace parallels with the church today.
In the N.T. no emphasis is laid on the physical location of the church. The early Christians met wherever was convenient. They were never commanded to adorn or beautify their places of gathering. This is entirely in keeping with the New Covenant which places little stress on the place or location of gathering, Jn.4.20-24, but on the sincerity and spirituality of the people who do the gathering. The Millennial temple is a place where the emphasis is on the presence of Christ in the midst of His people. The assembly should be the same. Christendom confuses the Old Covenant with the New Covenant by erecting ornate buildings and calling them churches. It ignores the difference between the rite and ceremony of the Old Covenant and the emphasis on the spiritual that is the essence of the New Covenant. God could have made the Millennial Temple of solid gold, laid its courts with marble and spun a veil of white linen for the Holy of Holies. Instead in the vision given to Ezekiel He has revealed a structure where simplicity is the order of the day. May God grant to us an appreciation of the simplicity that God desires in His house today and aspire to create a temple whose chief glory is the presence of Christ.
– To be continued (D.V.)
By C. Jones (Wales)
This Messianic Psalm was written by King David and is quoted in the New Testament on a number of occasions. David knew despair and suffering but the Psalm relates primarily to the sufferings and reproach experienced by the Lord Jesus Christ. The words, “upon Shoshannim” appear in the title of the Psalm. “Shoshannim” means “ lilies”. Lilies make us think of beauty, springtime, the Passover, resurrection and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Save Me, O God, vv.1-4
When the Lord was on the cross, God punished Him for the sins of the whole world, 1Jn. 2.2; Jn.1.29. He who is holy and could not sin, 1Jn.3.5, suffered, shed His precious blood and died. His life, substitutionary suffering and death glorified God and made possible the salvation of all who repent and put their faith and trust in Him, Eph.2.8.9; Acts 16.31; Jn.14.6.
The sufferings the Lord experienced on the cross are beyond human imagination, but we get some insight and a limited appreciation of what He went through as we read the Word of God. In this Psalm the Lord prayed, “Save me, O God; for the waters are come in unto my soul” v.1. The Lord felt as if He was sinking in deep water, being sucked down into mud and mire, v.2. He was exhausted by His crying, His throat was dry and the tears came from His eyes as He prayed and waited expectantly for God to deliver Him, v.3. The Lord loved those who caused His physical and mental sufferings. His enemies, the mob, military and ecclesiastical powers, were strong and powerful and they hated Him “without a cause” v.4; Jn15.25
It is good to meditate on the love, suffering and obedience of the Lord, Phil.2.8. How full of meaning are the words “then I restored that which I took not away” v.4. Sin is an affront to God who is holy, Lev.19.2. When Adam sinned God was robbed of the obedience, love, worship, praise and service of men, which would have glorified Him. God suffered an insult to His holy Being and to His honour. Man was robbed of communion with God, of peace, joy, satisfaction and of life itself.
As God laid on His beloved Son the sin of the world, Isa.53.6, the Lord suffered, and through the anguish, sorrow and reproach He experienced He restored what He had not taken and He restored more than was taken from God. This reminds us of the Trespass Offering, Lev.5.14-6.7. When the Trespass Offering was brought for a sin, there was a debt which could be measured and for which restitution could be made. All sin is primarily against God, Ps.51.4, and an Israelite might sin against the Lord and against his neighbour in ways listed in Lev.6.2,3. He might, for example, deal fraudulently or steal. Restitution was to be made to the person who had suffered loss. He was to be given what he had lost plus one-fifth. Once restitution had been made, the offerer would bring his Trespass Offering unto the Lord, “a ram without blemish”. The priest made atonement for him and he was forgiven, Lev6.6,7.
He laid down His holy and beautiful life in death and thereby vindicated God’s honour, His holiness, justice and glory. The Lord obeyed, honoured and glorified His Father, and restored to Him far more glory and honour than He lost through man’s sin. On the cross, the Lord paid in full the debt we owe to God because of our sins and “the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin” 1Jn.1.7. Saved men and women will be in heaven in a much more wonderful and blessed environment than that in which Adam lived before he sinned.
The zeal of Thine house, vv.5-12
David, like all other people, with the blessed exception of the Lord Jesus Christ, was a sinner, Rom.3.23, and he could have spoken the words in v.5 of himself. When the sinless Lord paid the penalty for our sins, God “made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him” 2Cor.5.21. He prayed that no one who sought God would be confused or adversely affected when they saw his sufferings, v.6. The Lord suffered because of His dedication to God His Father, v.7. Even his half-brothers did not believe in Him, v.8;Jn.7.5.
Anything that offended His Father offended the Lord Jesus and when He found the money changers and people selling oxen, sheep and doves in the Temple He drove them out, and His disciples remembered the words of v.9, “the zeal of thine house hath eaten Me up” Jn.2.14-17. The Lord said that those who reproached and blasphemed God reproached Him, v.9; Rom.15.3. The Lord was “full of grace and truth” Jn.1.14, and He always did those things that pleased His Father, Jn.8.29, and yet nothing He did or said pleased His enemies, and He was despised and rejected by the high and low in society, Isa.53.3, and became the song of the drunkards, vv.10-12.
Deliver Me, vv.13-18
When He was on the cross, the Lord cried to His God for deliverance, v.13. He suffered excruciating mental and physical pain and agony. He had been forsaken by His disciples, Matt.26.56, and by the Jewish nation, Jn.19.15, and by God when He was on the cross in the darkness He uttered that terrible cry of abandonment, “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” Ps.22.1; Matt.27.46; Mk.15.34. This was the climax of the Lord’s terrible sufferings in the three hours of darkness. The Lord was forsaken so that believers would never be forsaken, Heb.13.5, but be with Him eternally, Lk.23.43; Phil.1.23; 1Thess.4.17; Jn.17.24.
The Lord cried to His God to deliver Him from the mire into which He felt He was sinking, from His enemies from the deep waters in which He felt as if He was drowning, and from the pit, vv.14.15. God’s perfect servant cried to the God who was racked by loving kindness and tender mercy for deliverance from His sufferings, vv.16-18. God heard the cries of His beloved Son and showed His delight and satisfaction with the Lord’s finished work on the cross, Jn19.30, by raising Him from among the dead, Eph.1.20.
-To be continued (D.V.)
Good Tidings from Heaven
This is the Age
- This is the age of the printed page,
- The age of the film and the fan,
- And it’s also the age of unbelief
- Deep in the heart of man.
- This is the age of the atom bomb,
- The age of radioaction;
- And it’s also the age when the heart of man
- Is searching for satisfaction.
- This is the age of music gone mad,
- The age of rock-n’-roll;
- And it’s also the age when men neglect
- The welfare of their soul.
- This is the age of the powerful jet,
- And supersonic flying;
- The age when men are anxious to live,
- But can’t escape from dying.
- This is the age of Trade Union rule,
- The age of industrial strife;
- And it’s also the age when men forget
- There’s an afterward to life.
- This is the age of multiplied crime,
- The age of increased divorce;
- And few there are who think of Hell
- With its suffering and remorse.
- This is the age when the morals of men
- Sink lower every day;
- The age that is hastening to its doom,
- And soon will pass away.
- For God Himself shall intervene
- To bring this age to an end;
- And only those will escape His wrath
- Who have Jesus as their friend.
- For this is also the Gospel age,
- The age of free salvation;
- When those who trust in Christ the Lord
- Are saved from condemnation.
- So don’t delay, but act today,
- For Heaven make preparation;
- “Behold now is the accepted time,
- Now is the day of salvation”.
Robert Rollie (1914-1982)
Many people fancy they can convince others without holding any sincere