ASSEMBLY TESTIMONY BIBLE CLASS
by J. Riddle
QUESTIONS YOUNG PEOPLE ASK
by A. Summers
EARLY GALILEAN MINISTRY OF THE LORD JESUS
by J. Gibson
by W. Banks
BEHAVIOUR IN THE HOUSE OF GOD
by A. Leckie
by T. Bentley
Each generation of saints finds it hard to maintain faithful, Scriptural testimony to the Lord’s name. This is so in terms of spiritual growth both collectively and individually as well as seeing souls genuinely saved by God’s grace. It was so even in apostolic days. When he wrote his second epistle to Timothy, Paul was aware of the dangers to the testimony and he realised the difficulties that would be faced by the leaders of the assemblies. However, he also knew that God had provided all that was required to maintain Timothy and the generations following walking before Him in faithfulness. Paul’s message was one of encouragement in spiritually dark days.
For the strengthening of our faith Paul refers to eight things that were of God. These are: “the will of God” 1.1; “the gift of God” 1.6; “the power of God” 1.8; “the word of God” 2.9; “the foundation of God” 2.19; “lovers of God” 3.4; “inspiration of God” 3.16; “the man of God” 3.17. What an array of truth; what an armoury! With such weaponry at our disposal we ought to live as overcomers.
There is great comfort and solace in knowing that we walk in “the will of God”. Some may yield to their own will, perhaps that of friends, or even relatives, but the overriding consideration is “that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God”. Only as we move in separation from the world can this be known and enjoyed: “be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” Rom.12.2.
When we perceive the will of God, we know what “gift of God” we have. This cannot be imparted by any educational system: it is “of God”. The Trinity, in Sovereignty, imparts gift as follows: by God, “God hath dealt to every man …” Rom.12.3; by Christ, “according to the measure of the gift of Christ” Eph.4.7; by the Spirit, “that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as He will” 1Cor.12.11.
To exercise gift in the midst of departure requires “the power of God” 1.8. This is the power that saved us. Please note, not helped us, but there was a definite, never to be forgotten experience when He saved us. This was not because we deserved it, “not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace” and in sovereign purpose “was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began” v.9.
To serve in “the will of God”, in accord with the “gift of God” and experiencing the “power of God”, we must know the “the word of God” 2.9. So Paul exhorts, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” It is such sanctified living and Scriptural understanding that allows us to realise “the foundation of God” 2.19. The sure foundation of God stands. It is sure, stable, steadfast, sound and secure. Let us grasp the fact that His foundation is unaffected by the dreadful departure that is around us.
In the A.V. reading of chapter 3 there are some eighteen features listed which will be seen in the last days. At the commencement, men love themselves, v.2, and at the end, they are not lovers of God, v.4. This opposition is from a religious source, “Having a form of godliness …” v.5. How do we react to this? Some say join with them and help them. Paul says, “from such turn away” v.5.
We rely exclusively on a very special Book and not one of man’s devising, but one that is “inspired”, meaning it is God-breathed: “All scripture is given by inspiration of God”. Since this is so, we ought to spend more time with the Bible; it should have priority in our reading. It is the combination of these things “of God” and our diligent pursuit of them that will produce what the testimony requires, a “man of God” 3.17.
May the Lord give us the grace to live in the good of these things that are “of God” and that by so doing we may maintain true Scriptural testimony to His name and for His glory until He comes again.
Each year brings its own changes and challenges. These often come unexpectedly, without invitation and seldom for the better. It would be easy to yield to their unsettling influences and adopt an attitude of unhealthy negativity leading to despair and discouragement. On the other hand it is important to avoid the real danger of falling into the trap of complacency, lest there should arise a false sense of spirituality and well-being similar to that manifested in the days of Malachi and that which characterised the church of the Laodiceans. Whatever the situation, and even though it would be easy to lose sight of it, the fact remains regardless of location or present conditions that “I am the LORD, I change not” Mal.3.6. How precious to be assured that “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee: Because he trusteth in Thee” Isa.26.3.
It is therefore with gratitude and confidence that we move into another year. The increasing darkness enhances the preciousness of His promise to “come again” Jn.14.3, and it is with a growing measure of expectation that we “wait for His Son from heaven” 1Thess.1.10.
We are deeply thankful to the Lord for His unfailing goodness and faithfulness which have enabled all aspects of the work associated with “Assembly Testimony” to continue. This includes the publication of the magazine and other publications including the latest book in the “Glory” series, “The Glory of the Risen Christ”. We would express our thanks to all the contributors who, at great personal sacrifice, have provided suitable, timely and profitable material for the up-building and encouragement of the people of God. This has been endorsed by feedback from recipients near and far. Our thanks also go to the dedicated group of proof readers, printers, distributors of both the magazine and other publications and administrators for their often unrecognised but highly valued and sacrificial input. The part played by the accountant is also highly valued.
It is also necessary and appropriate to express our indebtedness to our editor for his diligence and devotion in the selection and adjudication of material for publication. This is no mean task and we recognise his contribution in ensuring that there is a sound but varied written ministry suitable to address the spiritual need of a broad international readership.
by J. Riddle (Cheshunt)
THE FIRST BOOK OF PSALMS
No.11: PSALM 8 (Part 2)
In our previous study, we noticed that Psalm 7 ends with the words, “I will praise the LORD according to His righteousness: and will sing praise to the name of the LORD Most High“, and that Psalm 8 demonstrates that He really is “the possessor of heaven and earth”: “O LORD our Lord, how excellent is Thy name in all the earth! Who hast set Thy glory above the heavens” v.1.
We have already considered the purpose of God for the earth and the position of man on the earth. This brings us to:
THE POWER OF THE CREATOR OF THE EARTH
In this connection, we should notice that: He owns the universe; He originated the universe; He orders the universe.
He Owns The Universe
“When I consider Thy heavens …” v.3. They belong to God, but so does the earth: “the works of Thy hands” v.6. Rev.11.4 describes Him as “the God of the earth“, alluding to Zech.4.14, and Rev.11.13 as “the God of heaven“. Most of the people who believe in the existence of God, and little more, like the demons, Jms.2.19, are probably quite happy to think of Him as “the God of heaven”, but the fact that He is also “the God of the earth” is, perhaps, alas, a little ‘too close for comfort’.
He Originated The Universe
“The work of Thy fingers“. Having spent years taxing themselves with complicated mathematics and devising mind-blowing computer programmes, astro-physicists (is that the right word?) and other scientists send amazingly complex rockets into space, hopefully to obtain more and more information about the universe, telling us that in the beginning there was nothing, and then it exploded. No wonder we are told, in another connection admittedly, that “He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh” Ps.2.4! Well might God do so: after all, what astronauts and space vehicles explore is actually ‘the work of His fingers’! Just His “fingers”! We rightly sing:
- O Lord my God, when I in awesome wonder
- Consider all the works Thy hands have made;
- I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder,
- Thy power throughout the universe displayed.
- Then sings my soul, my Saviour God to Thee,
- How great Thou art! how great Thou art!
- (Stuart K. Hine)
By the way, have you ever thought about the fingers of God? Here are some references: Ex.31.18 (compare Jn.8.6); Dan.5.5; Lk.11.20. Do remember too that on the day of atonement, “the blood the bullock” and the blood of “the goat of the sin offering” were sprinkled “upon … and before the mercy seat” with the finger of the high priest, Lev.16.14,15. Perhaps we can put it like this: the Divine Person Whose finger wrote the ten commandments, Ex.31.18, was the same Person Whose precious blood met in full the penalty demanded by the law.
- Jesus my great High Priest,
- Offered His blood and died.
- My guilty conscience needs
- No sacrifice beside.
- His precious blood did once atone,
- And now it pleads before the throne.
- (Isaac Watts)
He Organises The Universe
“The moon and the stars, which Thou hast ordained (‘established’, J.N.D.)”. Exit, as already noticed, the ‘big bang’ theory! The beautiful simplicity with which David describes the creation of the heavenly bodies accords with the Genesis record: “And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: He made the stars also” Gen.1.16.
- At His voice creation
- Sprang at once to sight:
- All the angel-faces,
- All the hosts of light,
- Thrones and dominations,
- Stars upon their way,
- All the heavenly orders,
- In their great array.
- (Caroline M. Noel)
In creating the stars, God did not follow a set pattern. He did not make the stars as Henry Ford made motor-cars – all on the same assembly line (no intended pun here). In answering the question “And with what body [resurrection body] do they come?”, Paul refers, amongst other things, to the stars: “There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory” 1Cor.15.35,41. “Arcturus, Orion, and Pleiades” Job 9.9, all have their own unique features.
The question is sometimes asked, ‘Will we recognise each other in heaven?’ Undoubtedly! Isaiah exhorts us: “Lift up your eyes on high, and behold who hath created these things: that bringeth out their host by number: He calleth them all by names, by the greatness of His might, for that He is strong in power; not one faileth” Isa.40.25,26. See also Ps.147.4. The God Who knows and names each star will maintain the individuality of each believer in resurrection! This brings us to:
THE PROGRESS OF GOD’S PLAN FOR EARTH
We should notice: the plan actioned; the plan attacked; the plan accomplished.
The Plan Actioned
“Thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour. Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of Thy hands: Thou hast put all things under his feet” vv.5,6. We should note the following:
“Thou hast made him a little lower than the angels”.
So man has been created. Not evolved. Some difficulty has arisen from the fact that the word “angels” translates elohim. This is, of course, a title of Deity, and is used with particular reference to creation: “In the beginning God [Elohim] created the heaven and the earth” Gen.1.1. It is also used in Ps.97.7: “Worship Him, all ye gods [elohim]”, and in Ex.21.6, together with Ex.22.8,9, of Israel’s judges. The word is therefore used in connection with those of exalted rank: here, in Psalm 8, of exalted beings, “the angels”, and in Psalm 97 of imagined beings of exalted rank. In any case, the quotation of v.5 in the New Testament evidently settles the matter: “Thou madest him a little lower than the angels” Heb.2.7.
The competent authorities differ in explaining the word “little”. Some suggest that it means “little” in degree, and others that it means “for a little while”. When this passage is quoted in Heb.2.7, the word “little” translates brachus, which is also found in Lk.22.58, (“And after a little while another saw him”) and Acts 5.34 (“put the men forth a little while” R.V., see also J.N.D.), and this evidently accounts for the rendering, “Thou madest him for a little while lower than the angels” (R.V. margin).
“Thou … hast crowned him with glory and honour”.
So man has been crowned. Adam was crowned king of creation, and all creation recognised his authority. In the words of J.M. Flanigan: “The creatures obeyed him, and in his authority he gave them names”.1
“Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of Thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet”.
So man has been given custody. “The dominion was threefold. The man could look around, or look up, or look down. The beasts of the field, the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea, were all in his domain”, J.M. Flanigan.1 Very clearly, vv.7,8 refer in the first place to Adam.
1. Flanigan, J.M “What the Bible Teaches – Psalms”. John Ritchie Ltd, Kilmarnock, 2001
Here, then, is God’s purpose for man. If we accept the reading, “thou madest him for a little while lower than the angels” (R.V. margin), then we can add that God’s purpose has yet to be fully completed. The immediate question must be: ‘How is man getting on with the task of administering creation for God, the Creator?’ For the Biblical answer, we must now turn to Heb.2.6-9, which brings us to:
The Plan Attacked
“But now we see not yet all things put under him” Heb.2.8. Something has evidently gone wrong between the words, “He left nothing that is not put under him” and, “But now we see not yet all things put under him”. Well, what has gone wrong? Evidently, Adam had failed; he had been crowned with “glory and honour”, and had lost his crown. Genesis chapter 3 now becomes compulsory reading. Just a cursory glance at creation today will dispel any doubts about the sad state of things on earth: “But now we see not yet all things put under him”. Creation is ‘red in tooth and claw’. In Paul’s words, “the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now” Rom.8.22.
So has God’s purpose for man failed? Has Satan triumphed after all? Is God now obliged to abandon His intentions? Never! Heb.2.8 carefully states, “But now we see not yet all things put under him [under man]”. So they are going to be put under him. Man is going to have the place God intended for him. But how can this possibly take place, in view of man’s sin and failure? The question is fully answered in Heb.2.9, where our attention is drawn to a Man Who never failed: “But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower [for a little time lower] than the angels … crowned with glory and honour”. This brings us to:
The Plan Accomplished
Keep Hebrews chapter 2 open. We all know (hopefully) why the Scripture says, “We see Jesus” v.9, and not the ‘Lord Jesus’, or the ‘Lord Jesus Christ’. It is to emphasise His true humanity: He is a perfect man. Compare 1Thess.4.14; Heb.10.19. All that God intended for man, He will accomplish in a Man, and the Name of that Man is “Jesus“! Man in Eden was crowned with “glory and honour”, and lost it; but this Man is also “crowned with glory and honour” and will never lose it.
Some may ask, ‘hasn’t He always been “crowned with glory and honour”?’ Of course He has, but here He is “crowned with glory and honour” as a man. How has He acquired that “glory and honour”? Read on.
Because He “was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death”.
That is, because of the humble place that He took, even though He is “so much better than the angels” Heb.1.4. We should notice that He became “lower than the angels”, but not inferior to them. He only became “lower than the angels” on account of the “suffering of death”. The angels could never take that place. He was made lower than the angels so that it would be possible for Him to suffer and die. It has been said that ‘God’s way up is down’. This is certainly true in our case, see 1Pet.5.6, but it is pre-eminently so in the case of the Lord Jesus, see Phil.2.5-11. We delight in singing:
- Glory, glory, everlasting,
- Be to Him Who bore the cross
- (Thomas Kelly)
Because, “by the grace of God” He should “taste death for every man”.
The word ‘taste’ conveys the idea of experiencing the reality of something. For the Lord Jesus, ‘tasting death’ was infinitely more than physical death: it was death as demanded by Divine justice. The eternal judgment that we deserved was concentrated upon the Lord Jesus at Calvary. However, there is more. Through the death of the Lord Jesus, now “crowned with glory and honour”, the whole fallen creation will be transformed. He tasted death for “every thing” (J.N.D.), and through His death He made possible the very deliverance of creation itself from the bondage of sin. Compare Col.1.20.
He is indeed worthy to reign as Man over creation; for “all things” to be “put under Him”. He will reign: in fact, “He must reign, till He hath put all enemies under His feet … For He hath put all things under His feet, [quoting Ps.8.6] … and when all things shall be subdued unto Him, then shall the Son also Himself be subject unto Him that put all things under Him, that God may be all in all” 1Cor.15.25-28. When that happy day comes, all creation will say, “How excellent is Thy name in all the earth.”
To be continued, (D.V.)
by Alan Summers (Scotland)
No.9 – Is there a problem with the internet?
The “internet” is the term used to describe the network of computers connected to servers that support the world wide web (WWW). By typing a search term into a piece of software called a browser it searches for and locates material matching the search term. Harmless enough one might think. Sadly the internet or more accurately the material accessible through the internet has become a major threat to morals worldwide. What corrupts the world is also capable of corrupting the young Christian.
The problem with the internet is that is makes pornography and other sexually explicit material accessible and does so in its most graphic and harmful forms. Everywhere a grim harvest is being reaped. Courts in every country are struggling to cope with an exponential rise in paedophilia and other forms of criminal sexual behaviour. Rape, sexual assault, unlawful sexual conduct is on the increase across the world. This social phenomenon parallels the growth of pornography on the internet. Governments round the globe are worried at what the internet is doing to young people. The irony is that in the age of women’s rights, women are being turned into sex objects. Pornography in all its forms exploits women. Far from being worthy of the respect and honour envisaged by Scripture they are treated as objects designed for the gratification of male lust. Violence fuelled by perversion is now on an unprecedented scale.
What does the Christian do in the face of this? He probably uses email to keep in touch with people. He probably uses the internet to buy clothes, check timetables, research essays; even to study his or her Bible. Being a hermit is not really an option these days. While some may decide to disconnect their broadband service and refuse to buy a smart phone, complete disengagement for most young people or adults for that matter, is not possible. In these circumstances it has to be remembered that although the internet is an enemy, its main ally is us! It is easy to blame the people who use the internet to make money out of immorality, but without a market for their filth, they would go out of business.
As with most temptations it is vital to take a vigorous approach. Matt.5.29 records the vivid words of the Lord Jesus, “If thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out”. In other words if what you see causes you to sin, take every available precaution to prevent the sin happening. The Lord Jesus was not of course saying that the “eye” was the problem. The problem lay with the object of gratification and the heart that sought after it. He is saying that if there is something which leads us into sin we should do something about it. Joseph did not negotiate with Potiphar’s wife when she sought to seduce him; he fled, Gen.39.11,12. He got himself out of harm’s way. So with the internet, steps should be taken to remove the source of temptation. Routers with filters can be bought in most countries. Browsers can be configured to screen out harmful content. Some companies offer a service that sends all internet traffic to their servers which blocks access to harmful material such as pornography, online gambling, chat rooms etc. Other practical steps include placing computers in a public space such as a kitchen or living room where the family can see what is on screen and intervene if necessary. A computer in a bedroom or study can be a source of danger.
However, vigour alone will not suffice. The Holy Spirit, as His name suggests, produces practical holiness if He has control of the believer’s life, Eph.4.30. The young Christian should desire holiness, 2Cor.7.1, and draw strength from God’s resources such as the Word of God, Eph.5.26. If these influences are at work the risk of defilement is reduced.
The internet is also a thief of time. Some young Christians spend hours playing online games or watching clips on You Tube. They post and view information on Facebook for hours on end. Again self-discipline is important and an appreciation of how damaging endless hours on the internet can be, Eph.5.16; Col.4.5. Addiction to the internet is a problem to be avoided. Parents should also seek to help their children by curbing the unrestrained use of the internet. Some computers have what are called parental controls. If not, rationing use of the internet may be helpful.
So the internet is a problem. As a poisoned well is scarcely to be distinguished from its poisoned water, so we should be wary of drawing too clear a line between the means of temptation and the temptation itself. While for some people the solution may be to stop using it, for most it will be to seek to control it and not to let it control us. The purity of the Christian is absolutely vital and the threat it poses should not be underestimated but God has given us the resources to overcome the world, 1Jn.4.4.
To be continued, (D.V.)
by Jeremy C. Gibson, England
Paper 8: Plucking corn on the Sabbath.
Read: Matt.12.1-8; Mk.2.23-28; Lk.6.1-5.
Working out the exact chronology of the Gospel records is fraught with difficulties; and where exactly this event fits in is no exception. Since the disciples plucked ripe ears of corn and “in the warmer parts of Palestine the barley ripens about the middle of April, and is reaped in April or the beginning of May, whereas the wheat ripens two or three weeks later”20, it seems likely that it took place in April or May. The fact that it took place on a sabbath sparked the controversy. Luke, with his usual attention to detail, narrowed the time frame further. His expression, “on the second Sabbath after the first” Lk.6.1, N.K.J.V., was a precise and well known time reference to the second sabbath after the passover,21 on the countdown to pentecost, see Lev.23.9-15. It was, therefore, approximately one week after passover that the Lord and His disciples passed through the corn fields.
- 20. Keil & Delitzsch. “Commentary on the Old Testament”, Hendrickson Publishers, Inc, 1996.
- 21. Edersheim, A. “The Life and Times of JESUS THE MESSIAH”, Hendrickson Publishers, Inc, 1993.
If the un-named feast of John chapter five was the second passover of the Lord’s public ministry, it is possible that in response to the controversy that arose about the sabbath at Jerusalem, the Lord and His disciples moved northward again into Galilee. The Pharisees seem to have dogged His northern journey, watching His every step, ready to criticise. This appears to be the context of this particular event, the middle of three sabbath day controversies which occurred in quick succession. The third controversy, which was to take place on a subsequent sabbath, was the healing of the man with the withered hand.
The principle of the sabbath was established in creation’s week, Gen.2.1-3. While it anticipated the rest from labour enjoyed by all of God’s people, Heb.3,4, it was given to Israel alone as an official ordinance to keep, Ex.20.8-11, setting them apart nationally as belonging to Jehovah, Ex.31.12-17. Although the Old Testament banned some specific activities on the sabbath – e.g. kindling fire, Ex.35.3; gathering fuel, Num.15.32-36; conducting business, Neh.10.31; 13.15-22; carrying burdens, Jer.17.19-27, – over the years the Jews added detail upon detail regarding what was and what was not permitted. Sadly, the ordinance of the sabbath, meant to be a blessed rest, had become an intolerable burden. Not only were the Pharisees themselves hidebound by their traditions, they demanded of others total submission to their system of rules. It was this attitude that prompted on this occasion their criticism of the Lord’s disciples.
As they passed through the cornfields, being hungry, the Lord’s “disciples plucked the ears of corn, and did eat, rubbing them in their hands” Lk.6.1. The Pharisees immediately pounced, with the words, “Behold, Thy disciples do that which is not lawful to do upon the sabbath day” Matt.12.2. They did not accuse the disciples of travelling more than a sabbath day’s journey of 2000 cubits, see Acts 1.12, nor of theft, because the law of Moses permitted eating corn in someone else’s field, Deut.23.25. Rather, the Pharisees charged them with contravening the Jewish system of rules which had been added to Mosaic law. They may well have viewed plucking the grain as reaping, rubbing the husks as threshing, and blowing off the chaff as winnowing. Interestingly, not one of the Gospels mentions the Lord eating. Perhaps He did not, ensuring that He Himself remained fully beyond reproach.
But His disciples had done nothing wrong and without any delay the Lord defended them. Using Scripture and arguments that were consistent with current rabbinic thought, He rebutted the Pharisees’ accusation, stamping His unique authority on the sabbath issue. The Lord Jesus drew the Pharisees’ attention to the example of David. Hunted by Saul and desperate for food, David and his men fled to Nob, 1Sam.21.1. This was a priestly city, 1Sam.22.19, where the tabernacle resided, Matt.12.4, the ark at that stage remaining in the house of Abinadab at Kirjath-Jearim, 1Sam.7.2; 2Sam.6.2,3. It appears that Ahimelech the priest had just replaced the shewbread before Jehovah on the sabbath, 1Sam.21.6; see Lev.24.8. Mark’s mention of “the days of Abiathar the high priest” Mk.2.25, cannot be a gross blunder so much as a simple acknowledgement that this event took place in his life-time. Since the law stated that the shewbread was to be eaten alone by the priest and his sons in a holy place, Lev.24.9, when David and his men ate this bread they demonstrated that human need trumps religious ritual, even that established in the law. Even the rabbis acknowledged this principle, arguing that, on the basis of Lev.18.5, “a man was to keep the commandments that he might live; certainly not, that by doing so he might die.”22 Therefore, the Lord’s hungry disciples were right to pluck the corn and to eat it.
David was, of course, in a unique position and, as such, a picture of the Lord Jesus. Both David and Christ were God’s anointed kings, threatened and rejected by Israel’s leaders, yet accompanied by a small band of faithful followers. Something was deeply wrong with the nation both in the time of David and during the Lord’s public ministry if the supporters of God’s appointed kings were going hungry. Just as David put human need before ceremonial law, the Saviour put human need before Jewish traditions.
The Lord Jesus also drew the Pharisees’ attention to the Service of Priests. The sabbath day temple activities of the priests – e.g. changing the shewbread, Lev.24.8, offering burnt offerings, Num.28.9,10, could be viewed as profaning the sabbath. Nevertheless, they remained blameless in this respect. The service of God is more important than a rigid observance of the sabbath. There was also the important point about the Greatness of Christ. In their presence was One Who was “greater than the temple” Matt.12.6. Christ had earlier compared His body to the temple, Jn.2.19, for in Him God had visited His people. If Jewish priests were permitted to serve in the physical Jerusalem temple on the sabbath, free from criticism, how much more should the disciples of the Lord Christ be free to minister to Him on the sabbath? His claim to be the Son of Man, a messianic title, Who was Himself Lord of the sabbath, Matt.12.8, was not only a claim to Deity but an assertion of absolute authority to regulate the beneficent observance of the sabbath day. The Old Testament prophets taught the Importance of Mercy. Jehovah’s words through Hosea, “I will have mercy and not sacrifice” Hos.6.6, showed an unchanging characteristic of the God of Israel. He will always prioritise the showing of mercy over the cold and formal offering of sacrifices, even those established in His own law. If the Pharisees had grasped this principle, they “would not have condemned the guiltless” Matt.12.7. Then there was the Necessity of Rest. The Lord Jesus reminded the Pharisees that the sabbath was designed by God for man’s good, not for his enslavement, Mk.2.27. Even their own writers recognised that “the sabbath is handed over to you; not, ye are handed over to the sabbath.”23 The Lord’s arguments, based on Scripture and thoroughly consistent with their own rabbinic writings, must have caused these Pharisees, quietly in their own hearts, to acknowledge that He was right, as He always was.
To be continued, (D.V.)
by William M. Banks (Scotland)
No.3b: THE CAREER OF SATAN – PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE, THE DETAILED SIN OF SATAN
In Isa.14.12-19, Satan is seen as Lucifer which means “Morning Star” or “son of the morning” v.12. He is evidently the power behind the King of Babylon; “… which didst weaken the nations”. However, he is “fallen from heaven” v.12. The reason for the fall is given in the succeeding verses. These reveal the boasts of Satan, seen in the five “I wills” of vv.13,14. As iniquity was “found” in Ezek.28.15, so God again sees behind the exterior; “For thou hast said in thine heart” v.13a, He is aware of his innermost thoughts!
The five boasts are:
“I will ascend into heaven” – He wanted to take up his abode in the third heaven. It is exclusively for God and the redeemed, 2Cor.12.1-4; Jn.14.3; 17.21-24. The normal angelic sphere is a lower plane as seen by reference to Eph.1.20,21: the Lord Jesus ascends far above them.
“I will exalt my throne above the stars of God” – It seems he wanted a throne of his own over other angels, perhaps “the morning star” over the other “stars”! He was not content to be the guardian of the throne of God, the holy mountain of Ezek.28.14 (cf. Ps.2.8) as “the anointed cherub” Ezek.28.14. This desire appears to have been granted in a limited way; in the heavenly sphere over the demons, see Eph.2.2 and note the plurals referred to earlier; also the “powers” and “rulers” in 6.12; and in the earthly sphere also, see Matt.12.26; Lk.4.5,6; 2Cor.4.4; Jn.12.31, 14.30; 16.11, which had originally been given to man before the fall, Ps.8.5-8; Heb.2.6-8.
“I will sit also upon the mount [seat of Divine government?] of the congregation [Israel?], in the sides of the north [Mount Zion Ps.48.2?]”. This was a claim to rule in the earthly Messianic kingdom from Jerusalem. The idea was ended at the cross when the Lord Jesus; “spoiled principalities and powers, [and] made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it” Col.2.15. In contrast to this the antichrist will reign from Babylon under the power of the dragon. This will replicate to some extent the setting up of the first anti-God world system at Babylon under the first antichrist, Nimrod, in Gen.10,11.
“I will ascend above the heights of the clouds”. Chafer1 has said that “of upwards of 150 references in the Bible to clouds fully 100 are related to the Divine presence and glory” e.g. Ps.104.3; Acts 1.9; Rev.1.7; 1Thess.4.17. Thus in this boast Satan is seeking to secure some of the glory which belongs to God alone, cf. 2Thess.2.4.
“I will be like the most High” – not so much like “God” but “the Most High”; “possessor of heaven and earth” Gen.14.19,22. His boasting now reaches the climax; unwilling to accept his sphere of activity he wants to be like the Most High. He had beguiled Eve with this idea in Gen.3.5, “… ye shall be as gods”, and it is said of the “man of sin” in the future; “… he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God” 2Thess.2.4. It is a boast too far!
In contrast to all of the above God responds with a devastating indictment; “… thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit” v.15. Did he aspire to “the sides of the north”? he would be brought to “the sides of the pit”, and eventually to the eternal lake of fire!
1. Chafer, L. S. “Systematic Theology”, Dallas Seminary Press, 1948.
The Activity of Lucifer in Isaiah 14.12,16,17
A brief six-fold summary of the activity of Lucifer is given in these verses; he “… weaken[s] the nations” v.12b, encouraging them to be opposed to God, Ps.2.1-3, and to embrace his principles. He is the unseen power behind the “cosmos” in direct opposition to the values of God. In addition he “… [makes] the earth to tremble” v.16b; “… shake[s] kingdoms” v.16c; “… [makes] the world as a wilderness” v.17a; “… [destroys] the cities thereof”, v.17b, and refuses to open “… the house of his prisoners” v.17c. While there is a reference to past activity it is certainly reflected in current world movements. In particular it is interesting to observe that the last activity referenced, indicates that those under his influence and control are even unaware that they are his prisoners!
THE CURRENT ACTIVITIES OF SATAN
While the activity of Satan is always under the overall authority and control of God, the fact that he does have a kingdom is asserted by the Lord Jesus in Matt.12.26; “If Satan cast out Satan, he is divided against himself; how shall then his kingdom stand?” It is a kingdom of evil spirits commonly referred to as demons. As was indicated in a previous article there are two kinds of demons, the free and the fettered. It is the free over which Satan exercises control as king. The fettered are out with his control in the present dispensation being imprisoned in Tartarus, but may be part of the demon host subservient to Satan’s rule and involved in diabolical activity after the Rapture.
The Current World Dominion of Satan
This fact is also assumed by the Lord Jesus. In Lk.4.6 during the temptations of the Lord it is stated; “And the devil said unto Him, “All this power will I give Thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it.”” The Lord did not question Satan’s assertion and indeed seemed to accept its validity. In addition, the reality of the temptation in this case depends on the validity of the assertion. Of course there was no possibility of the Lord Jesus succumbing to the temptation, His impeccability (impossible for Him to sin) forbad it, but the temptation and assertion is real nonetheless.
Also Satan is “the god of this world” 2Cor.4.4, and the “prince of this world” Jn.12.31; 14.30; 16.11, and “… the whole world [cosmos] lieth in wickedness” 1Jn.5.19; “lieth in the evil one” (R.V.) This is the world system in alienation from God.
THE FUTURE FOR SATAN
Final judgment for Satan is assured. The words of the Lord Jesus in Matt.25.42 are unequivocal: “Depart from Me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels”. It was effected at the cross, Col.2.14,15; Heb.2.14, though final implementation is to be enacted in the future. His path has always been downward:
- Cast out of the “mountain of God” Ezek.28.16, to the “air” Eph.2.2
- From the “air” to the “earth” Rev.12.7-12
- From the “earth” to the “bottomless pit” Rev.20.1-3, to be incarcerated for 1000 years during the millennial reign of Christ
- From the “abyss” to the “lake of fire and brimstone” Rev.20.10, and that for ever.
To be continued, (D.V.)
by Baiju V. Balan, India
Paper No. 3
Place – Where It Is To Be Observed
Teaching concerning the Lord’s Supper was given to the local assembly in Corinth, 1Corinthians chapter 11. Even though the apostle Paul was in a hurry to go to Jerusalem he waited in Troas until the assembly gathered together to break bread. Paul speaks about it as a collective exercise, not as an individual or family affair. It is the bread which we (in plural) break, and the cup of blessing which we bless. Therefore, it is plain that the local assembly is the place where the breaking of bread is to be observed.
It must be kept in mind that the purpose of the assembly meeting on the first day of the week is to break bread. So many so-called churches (denominations) have ‘worship meetings’ on Sundays but no Breaking of Bread! That is unscriptural. We are asked to break bread in remembrance of the Lord Jesus Christ on the first day of the week, not merely to worship or praise God. In other words, we are not to worship or praise God without breaking of bread on the Lord’s day. It is unscriptural for people to break bread while travelling in trains or ships or while holidaying in places where no assembly testimony exists. We often hear people saying with pride that they broke bread and remembered the Lord under a tree or in a hotel while visiting Jerusalem, the Holy land. It may sound very spiritual but it is an absolute denial of many important teachings concerning the functions of a local assembly and the believer’s responsibility toward it. The present writer makes it a point that he is always in a local assembly on Lord’s Day morning. He never travels on a Lord’s Day and always plans his travelling keeping the Lord’s Day in mind. It is sad to see believers take up jobs, or choose colleges for studies in places where they know they cannot be present in a local assembly on the Lord’s Day morning. There is no point in asking the brethren to pray for the security and welfare of such as they knew well in advance that the place they have chosen to go has no assembly testimony. They have decided to be isolated from assembly fellowship and have considered studies or job of more value than obeying the Lord. We seem to have failed to set our priorities right and many have reaped the consequences of it. Not giving God the honour due unto Him is the first step toward backsliding or even apostasy, Rom.1.21.
Participants – Who Should Observe It
Paul, while speaking about partaking of food offered to idols, uses the breaking of bread as an illustration to teach the inconsistency in partaking from both the Lord’s table and the table of demons, 1Cor.10.20. While breaking bread on the Lord’s day we indirectly profess that “we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread” 10.17. Hence we can conclude that only those who are in the body of Christ can take part in the breaking of bread. Yet not all in the body, but only those who are saved, baptised and are in a Scriptural local assembly fellowship can be participants of it. In case somebody is visiting an assembly on a Lord’s Day, it is mandatory that he carry a recent letter of commendation from the local assembly in which he has been in fellowship.
Pattern – How It Is To Be Observed
While speaking to Corinthians on Christian fellowship Paul takes up the activities of breaking of bread and teaches them certain vital lessons. He says, “The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ?” 1Cor.10.16. He speaks of bread as the bread, the only bread, and of the cup as the cup, the only cup. In applying the lesson, he says, “for we are all partakers of that one bread.” It is plain from this passage that the apostle envisages all the believers to take part of that one bread and drink from that one cup. Concerning the institution of the supper we read, “He took the cup, and when He had given thanks, He gave it to them: and they all drank of it” Mk.14.23. Every one having his own bread or loaf and every one drinking from individual tiny cups is not the apostolic pattern of breaking bread. One bread and one cup and all the believers taking part of it is the commandment of the Lord and the practice and teaching of the apostles.
Another important matter is who should give thanks for the bread and the cup. We have seen already that all the believers are priests, both brothers and sisters. We all give thanks for the bread and we all give thanks for the cup. When it comes to the person leading the collective offering of thanks, certain other passages like 1Corinthians chapter 14; 1Timothy chapter 2, which explain the principles of the order of assembly meetings also play a part. Sisters are asked to keep silence in the assembly meetings, 1Cor.14.34. They are not permitted to teach or usurp authority over men, 1Tim.2.12. In this passage, Paul is giving guidance about the assembly prayer meeting. He says, “I will therefore that men [males] pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting.” It does not mean that sisters are not praying in the meetings. They do pray silently but when it comes to the public leading of the whole assembly in prayer, the males are to do that.
The same principle applies to, announcing a hymn, verbally remembering the Lord in adoration and giving of thanks for the bread and the cup. That leaves men in the congregation free to lead the assembly in thanksgiving. The assembly is the temple of the Holy Spirit. It belongs to Him and He is the Superintendent over every activity in the assembly. The principles Paul laid down in 1Corinthians chapter 14 should apply to every gathering of the assembly. Every brother in the assembly should be prepared to worship audibly and whomsoever the Lord leads has the freedom to give thanks. Pre-appointing men to give thanks and fixed people alone giving thanks for the bread and the cup every Lord’s Day are equally unscriptural.
M.A. Rudge, in his book on 1Corinthians, quoted N. Crawford and said, “An assembly is the residence of the Holy Spirit on earth, 1Cor.3.16, and He must have sovereign control in it. The tendency to human organisation has often stifled the operation of the Spirit. It is possible to quench His work by failing to respond to His leading. This leading is not a vague emotion, but rather it is simple obedience to the Word of God. To be “filled with the Spirit” in Eph.5.18 corresponds to allowing “the word of Christ” to “dwell richly” in us in Col 3:16. The Holy Spirit speaks in the words of Holy Scripture and we must allow His authority to rule in the assembly.”
In the assembly, there should be liberty for the exercised brethren to participate. Again we quote Rudge: “There were no ‘passengers’ i.e. those who relied on others to carry spiritual responsibility. This was normal order. There is also seen to be a need for orderliness, 1Cor.14.27,29,31, which calls for the exercise of self-control, vv.28,32, with due consideration for the limitations placed upon the number of brethren who can take part, vv.27,29, and the exercise of others, v.30. This orderliness cannot be brought about by human arrangement. It is the result of subjection to the sovereign control of the Spirit of God and dependence upon God Himself, vv.30,33,40. The order is designed to develop these important spiritual features and calls for spirituality. Spiritual principles can only be maintained in spiritual power.”
This liberty is most appropriate in the breaking of bread meeting where every exercised brother should have the freedom to lead the assembly in offering of praises in remembrance of the Lord Jesus, to proclaim the virtues of His Person and work or to announce an appropriate hymn and even to give thanks for the bread and the cup. Since the Holy Spirit presides over the whole activity, there is no place for a presiding minister or ‘worship leader’ to occupy a special chair in front of the gathering.
Many have the wrong illusion that giving thanks for the bread and the cup is the duty of elders. Of course, it is not. Then what is the duty of the elders on this occasion? They have to make sure that everything is done decently and in order. They are responsible for the order, decorum and demeanour of the assembly gatherings. They are not to appoint anybody for any service during the breaking of bread meeting. At the same time, they should make sure that every priest in the house of God has the liberty to be used by the Holy Spirit in leading the assembly in this most solemn occasion. They should take care of any inappropriate behaviour, contribution, lack of understanding, unholy enthusiasm and a lack of waiting for one another, and should teach the erring ones but not during the breaking of bread meeting!
To be continued, (D.V.)
by Albert L. Leckie (Scotland)
The last paper concluded with the statement, “Correctness, Prayerfulness, Quietness, Peaceableness, God-fearingness and Seriousness should characterise the assemblies of God’s people”. We shall now consider the second section of 1 Timothy chapter 2, which deals with women in fellowship.
“In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety …” v.9. Perhaps a woman might say, “What has this to do with behaviour in God’s house?” The apostle says, “You’re to adorn yourself as one who professes godliness”. Maybe when buying that hat or coat or dress, the sister never thought that she would have to buy it in the fear of God, adorning herself as one who professes to live in the fear of God.
The apostle addresses this in a twofold way: first positively and then negatively. Notice the positive: “In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety.” “Shamefacedness” is a lovely word and there’s no thought of shame in it at all. It might be rendered, “Bashfulness”. Dear sister, the words of this verse need no exposition. They describe the kind of adornment that’s becoming to God’s house: modesty, bashfulness, and sobriety. We are living in a world where women want to be immodest and anything but bashful; where they are seriously characterised by insobriety. Dear sister, see to it that you adorn yourself in a way that’s becoming of those who profess a fear of God. See that you are marked by modesty, bashfulness, and sobriety.
Then in a negative way Paul writes: “Not with broidered hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array.” The apostle has in mind the conduct of worldly women in his day who wore costly array and broidered their hair, bedecking it with strands of gold and pearls. What is the simple principle he conveys? The simple principle, dear sister, is that you are not to adorn yourself to be seen or attract attention. You should adorn yourself modestly, in a bashful way, and with sobriety.
Paul follows this by speaking of the women in relation to assembly order. “Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence” vv.11,12. As far as the assembly is concerned, women are to be silent and not teach. Paul gives a reason (which is twofold) for this at the end of the chapter, something he always does when exhorting women to silence, so that he might quiet those who think it is merely Pauline teaching. In 1Corinthians chapter 11 he goes back to creation and in 1Corinthians chapter 14, he goes back to the law. Here the reason is twofold: While Adam was first in creation, the woman was first in transgression, therefore, she must not teach, but be in subjection, “Learning in silence with all subjection”.
After reading this, perhaps some sister thinks to herself: “Since I have to be silent and am not allowed to teach, then I don’t need to learn”. But in the same context where Paul tells sisters not to teach, he tells them to learn and that “in silence”. Dear sister, because Scripture says you’re not to teach, it doesn’t mean you don’t need to read your Bible. No, you have to learn. Let the women learn in silence, with all subjection. A sister might say, “Since my public activity is so restricted, then I can afford to sit back and do nothing.” “No,” says the apostle, “You have to work and your works have to be good works”, so v.10, “But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works”. Chapter 5 elaborates on the good works a sister can do.
1TIMOTHY CHAPTER 3
This chapter has two sections also. In vv.1-7, the apostle deals with elders and in vv.8-16, he deals with the deacon and deaconess. It is lovely to think in regard to assembly order that we have both the elder and the deacon. When it came to the tabernacle there was the priest and the Levite. The priest was the man who ministered in the holy place, who attended to the lampstand, the table of shewbread, and the altar of incense. The Levite was the burden-bearer; he carried the boards and the sockets and the curtains. The New Testament elder answers to the priest of the Old Testament and the New Testament deacon to the Levite of the Old Testament.
What is the difference between an elder and deacon? The elder ministers to the souls of the saints, his work is spiritual in character. The deacon ministers to the bodies of the saints; his ministry is more material in its character. It is encouraging to think that the entire need of God’s people is met in a local church. It is met spiritually and materially through the gracious services of the elder and deacon.
The elder is appointed by the Holy Spirit; the deacon, by the church. The appointment of the overseer is permanent, whereas the appointment of the deacon is as the occasion demands. We cannot develop this now.
We observe from these verses that not everyone can be an elder and not everyone can be a deacon. There are weighty qualifications. Says the apostle: “This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work” v.1. I am sure you have noticed that the word “office of a bishop” ought to read “overseership”. “If a man desire overseership, he desireth a good work.” Please note that it is not so much an office, but a work and it is a good work. I believe there should be less emphasis on the office today and more emphasis on the work. Attendance at meetings of the overseeing brethren does not make one an elder, oh no! He’s known for his work’s sake. I am convinced that in many assemblies today, many who would never be recognised as an elder are doing more of the work of an elder than those who are recognised. The true elder is more concerned about getting on with the work than he is with mere recognition. Says the apostle, it’s a good work.
However, the qualifications are weighty. Paul said to the elders of Ephesus in Acts 20.28: “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock”. That is the order: firstly take heed to yourself, and secondly, take heed to all the flock. Paul teaches the same thing here. Before you take heed to the flock, as an elder you must learn to take heed to yourself.
The qualifications are embracive of every part of the elder’s life. They affect his home life, his life in the world, and his life in regard to business. What about his home life? “Given to hospitality … Ruling well his own house” vv.2,4.
“Given to hospitality.” I believe an elder ought to be the most accessible of the brethren. His home is open. Not just when circumstances permit, but he is given to hospitality. Two things are brought together in v.2: “Given to hospitality, apt to teach”. That suggests the elder is one who uses the occasion of hospitality to instruct and teach the saints. His home is open; he is a hospitable man. In Titus, he is to be a lover of it and in 1Timothy he is to be given to it. V.4 says: “One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity.”
With regard to his life in the business world, he’s not to be greedy of gain. He is not a man who wants to work overtime on the prayer meeting and Bible reading night. He is not a man who wants to do business on these meeting nights in order to amass wealth. No, he is not greedy of gain.
What about his life in relation to the world? He has to be blameless and of good report, not one against whom the world can point a finger. There’s much more, but we have not time to continue.
I might add, however, that it is interesting to observe in vv.6,7, that the apostle speaks of the condemnation of the devil and the snare of the devil in connection with the elder. What is meant by “the condemnation of the devil”? The word “condemnation” means the “fault” of the devil. Not a novice, not newly brought to the faith, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the fault of the devil. What was the fault of the devil? His heart was uplifted because of his beauty. Pride filled his heart and he was cast out. Now says the apostle, an elder must not be a novice because there is always this danger with a novice, that he’ll fall into the fault of the devil. His heart will be uplifted with pride and he will fall. That just means that pride, high-handedness, emphasis on position, are marks of immaturity which disqualify a man from being an elder.
“Moreover, he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil” v.7. This word “snare” means the “fall trap” of the devil. The devil is perpetually setting a fall trap before the elder. If the elder does not have a good report of them which are without, the devil will exploit that in order to bring an elder down. I want to say this to the younger folks: No man is an elder in an assembly without becoming the special object of the devil’s attack. For that reason, you must learn to pray for your elders. They need your prayers. The devil continually spreads before their feet a fall trap that he might bring them down.
(This article has been transcribed from a recording of our late brother’s ministry and submitted for publication. This explains its somewhat colloquial style.)
To be continued, (D.V.)
by Thomas Bentley, late of Malaysia
In the previous paper we suggested that we could enjoy the Scriptures under the following three concepts.
- A Source of Food and Fellowship
- A Source for Guidance
- A Source of Strength
We dealt with the first and now we proceed with the remaining two.
A Source for Guidance
One of the most familiar texts on this subject is found in Ps.119.105, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path”. In the same vein, Solomon’s advice is timely, “My son, keep thy father’s commandment … Bind them continually upon thine heart, and tie them about thy neck. When thou goest, it shall lead thee … For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light; and reproofs of instruction are the way of life” Prov.6.20-23. The “commandment” is the Word of God, given as a guide for life’s pathway by our Father. As we read, and wait upon the Lord in earnest prayer, He will lead and guide. May we emulate the prayer of David, ” … O my God, in Thee have I trusted … Shew me Thy ways, O Lord; teach me Thy paths. Guide me in Thy truth and teach me” Ps.25.1-6 (R.V.).
A Source of Strength
A backslider who has withdrawn from fellowship with the Lord’s people, will ultimately and honestly admit that his first step of departure began when he stopped reading his Bible. Communion with his God through His Word, has been broken, and it will not be long till his desires for the things of God will wane and even cease altogether. How then can a believer become a strong and mature Christian? John, the apostle, portrays different stages of maturity in the life of a believer, with valuable emphasis on adherence to the Word of God.
John begins from the very beginning, the origin of eternal life. “And hereby know we that we know Him, if we keep His commandments” 1Jn.2.3 (R.V.). Then there is the development and progression of spiritual life. “I have written unto you, young men, because ye are strong, and the word of God abideth in you, and ye have overcome the evil one, v.14 (R.V.).
In his epistle, John relates back to the earlier ministry of the Lord. “I am the living bread which came down out of heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever …” Jn.6.51 (R.V.). When others left the Lord, Simon Peter acknowledged Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast words of eternal life” Jn.6. 68 (R.V. margin). In the ministry on the vine, the Lord teaches, “Abide in Me and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; so neither can ye, except ye abide in Me” Jn.15.4 (R.V.).
In order to maintain regularity in reading the Bible, a determined, devoted and tenacious resolve is required; for there are many hindrances.
The Hindrances to Reading
In our extremely busy life, too often the day dawns and darkness falls without any recourse to the reading of the Bible and communion with the Lord. In the blush of youth, when possible, it is imperative that we should be disciplined to tenaciously set aside a time for the Lord. The forming of habits in early life can be easier maintained, than to attempt to make a start in our more pressurised mature years.
Men who have made their mark for God are generally those who rose up early for fellowship with their God and to seek His guidance. Abraham “rose up early in the morning” to prepare to sacrifice his son Isaac, Gen.22.3; Joshua “rose early in the morning” for conquest, and to judge sin, Josh.3.1; 6.12,15; 7.16; 8.10. The Lord, the Perfect Servant, rose “a great while before day” to commune with His God in prayer, Mk.1.35.
Spending time to read the Scriptures as we ought, will only be relegated to a bare minimum unless there is heart exercise to overcome the many existing hindrances. These can be the: pressure of business; pull of pleasure; propaganda of the world; programme of study; pursuit of a career; priority of the family; plot and ploy of the enemy.
Sadly, what is rapidly disappearing is the “Family Altar or Quiet Time” when the reading of the Bible and prayer occur. Many marital and parental difficulties and problems can be resolved when the family read and pray together. Let us rise above the hindrances and give God and His Word the rightful place in our homes and hearts. “For them that honour Me I will honour” 1Sam.2.30. God is no man’s debtor.
The Helps for Reading
- A Set Time; either morning or evening, or both, is essential.
- A Sufficient Time; nothing is worse than to have an undignified scramble through the pages of Holy Scripture.
- A Suitable Time; this is entirely left to the discretion and exercise of the person concerned.
- A Systematic Recording of what has been read is most reassuring and edifying for the reader. It will also reveal a measure of progress over the years.
There are numerous and available helps and aids for the purpose of reading and studying the Bible. Let us not miss the unmistakable! There is spiritual progress and profit in reading. May it be our constant source of blessing and joy to commune with the Lord around His Holy Word.
The Happiness of Reading
Observe the lovely word delight that occurs in Ps.119.16,24,35,47,70,77,92; all in relation to the Word of God. “I will delight myself in Thy statutes” v.16. Naturally, we all want to be happy. Nothing is richer than to have a happy home, a happy heart, a happy habit, etc. The Holy Scriptures are our source of happiness. We read, and read, and read the Word of God, and from this habit, we derive our source of constant joy and happiness that is not found in the world.
Our Lord Jesus desires that we read regularly and consistently from His Word for our delight. Observe the searching question the Lord poses in Matthew’s Gospel. “Have ye not read?”
- Matt.12.3, regarding the Sabbath, 1Sam.21.1-6; David eating the shewbread
- Matt.12.5, regarding the Sabbath, Num.28.9,10; offerings for the Sabbath
- Matt.19.4, regarding divorce, Gen.1.27; God’s order in creation
- Matt.21.16, regarding the lauding of praise to the Lord, Ps.8.2
- Matt.21.42, regarding the rejection of the Lord, Ps.118.22,23; the corner stone
- Matt.22.30, regarding the rejection of the resurrection, Ex.3.6
May our resolve to read the Bible be real, regular, refreshing and rewarding. “If ye love Me, keep My commandments” Jn.14.12,21; 1Jn.5.2,3. “And this is love that we walk according to His commandments” 2Jn.6 (Newberry).
May we be able to look into His face and say, “Yea, Lord, I do love Thee. I do with great delight, read Thy Word”.
Have a Good Day
We all have been the recipient of the greeting, “Have a good day.” Did you ever think that you can really have a good day, not only today, but every day?
A GOOD DAY AND A GOOD FOREVER
It is our wish for everyone not only to have a good day, but to have a good forever. How can you have a good day if you are not assured of a good forever? You may try to ignore the future by concentrating on the pleasures of this life. You may be partly successful with this and even say to yourself, “Take your ease, eat, drink and be merry” Luke 12.19. However, if you do not know where you will be when your life is over, thoughts of the future will inevitably return to spoil your present joys.
ONE THING CAN RUIN BOTH
God has provided a way for everyone to have a good forever, but, if you do not avail yourself of that way, then your future is foretold in Hebrews 9.27: “It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment”. Death and judgment are the results of sin for “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God” Romans 3.23. Sin will keep you from having a good forever, and it will keep you from having a good day. If you die in your sins, it will be too late to change your forever, Revelation 20.15.
TODAY CAN MAKE THE DIFFERENCE
Thankfully you can change that future now. “Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation” 2Corinthians 6.2. God, Who is holy and must punish sin, is also a God of love. He has provided a way for sinners to be saved from the consequences of their sin. God is longsuffering toward us, and is “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” 2Peter 3.9. In fact, God never prepared hell for man but for the devil and his angels, Matthew 25.41.
THE PRICE HAS ALREADY BEEN PAID
The salvation that God provided does not set aside His holiness and righteousness. It is summed up for us in Romans 5.8: “But God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Christ, the sinless Son of God, satisfied all of God’s holy and righteous requirements by dying for our sins. God’s wrath and judgment against sin were met by Christ when He suffered the awful agonies of the cross, Matthew 27.46; 1Peter 3.18.
WHAT IS THE WAY?
Yes, God has provided a way for you and me to have a good forever. This way of salvation is open to all who will confess their sins to God in true repentance, believe that Jesus died for them, and receive Him as their Lord and Saviour. If you trust Christ, the power of death will be broken and there will be no judgment ahead for you because Jesus Christ has said, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that heareth My word, and believeth on Him that sent Me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life” John 5.24. Your sins will all be forgiven and your future will be bright and clear with a certainty of being with Christ in heaven.
THE SOURCE OF GOOD DAYS
As a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ you will not only be sure of a good forever, you will also be able to have a good day every day. Jesus will never leave you, and the more you fellowship with Him through prayer and reading the Bible daily, the more you will experience His presence in your life. Even when everything around you seems dark and discouraging, God’s presence in your life brings “fulness of joy” Psalm 16.11.
(With permission from MWTB)