ASSEMBLY TESTIMONY BIBLE CLASS
by J. Riddle
TRAITS OF THE TRIBES
by I. McKee
NOTES ON THE PRISON EPISTLES
by A. Summers
NOTES ON THE PRAYERS OF THE SAVIOUR IN LUKE’S GOSPEL
by K. Buckeridge
by W. Gustafson
COMFORT FOR CHRISTIANS IN A CHANGING WORLD
by R. Reynolds
A RESPONSE TO AN ENQUIRING CALVINIST
by D. McKinley
A Proverb to Ponder — Proverbs 15.3
Assembly Testimony Bible Class
by J. Riddle (England)
THE FIRST BOOK OF PSALMS
No.31: PSALM 22 (Part 2)
We have noticed that Psalm 22 divides into two clear sections, and that the words of 1Pet.5.1 could be placed over each section as follows:
- “The sufferings of Christ” vv.1-21
- “The glory that shall be revealed” vv.22-31
We also noted that with this in mind, the two sections of the Psalm could be entitled:
- Vv.1-21: “Thou hearest not [‘answerest not’ J.N.D.]” v.2
- Vv.22-31: “Thou hast heard Me [‘answered Me’ J.N.D.]” v.21
THE SUFFERINGS OF CHRIST – vv.1-21
In our first meditation (the word ‘study’ seems inappropriate here) on “The Sufferings of Christ”, we pondered the first two of the five paragraphs into which the section may be divided: Christ and God, vv.1-5; Christ and Man, vv.6-8. In connection with the latter, we noted that the Lord Jesus was subject to verbal abuse, and listened to their unpitying sarcasm: “He trusted on the LORD that He would deliver Him: let Him deliver Him, seeing He delighted in Him” v.8. The sarcasm levelled at the Lord Jesus, Matt. 27.39-43, is now answered. The third paragraph, below, shows us that God did delight in Him. He was indeed, “My servant, whom I uphold; Mine elect, in whom My soul delighteth” Isa.42.1.
Christ and God – vv.9-11
The circumstances of His birth proved that God delighted in Him, v.9.
“But Thou art He that took Me out of the womb.” God’s tender care of Christ at His birth showed that God delighted in Him. This was so obviously clear from the words of Gabriel to Mary: “The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee [that is, at the conception of Christ], and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee [that is, between the conception and birth of Christ]: therefore also that holy thing that shall be born [‘that which is begotten holy’ Newberry margin] of thee shall be called the Son of God” Lk.1.35. We should notice the word “therefore” and the statement that it introduces. There was Divine care and protection before His birth and at His birth.
The protection during infancy proved that God delighted in Him, v.9.
“Thou didst make Me hope [‘trust’ J.N.D.] when I was upon My mother’s breasts.” Do notice the Authorised Version margin reading: “Thou keptest Me in safety when …” C.H. Spurgeon cites another rendering as follows: “… gave Me cause to trust by keeping Me safely when …”1 The Lord Jesus entered manhood in the most distressing and deprived circumstances: “And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped Him in swaddling clothes, and laid Him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn” Lk.2.7. But He was preserved through the crisis, and the crisis which followed when Herod sought “the young child to destroy Him …” Matt.2.13-20.
1. Spurgeon, C.H. “The Treasury of David“.
The provision throughout His life proved that God delighted in Him, v.10.
“I was cast upon Thee from the womb.” The words “from the womb” and “from My mother’s belly” describe life from its very beginning: its commencement and its course. There was a continuance throughout His life of that Divine care which surrounded Him at birth and in infancy. The Lord Jesus could say, “As the living Father hath sent Me, and I live by the Father …” Jn.6.57. See Ps.91.10-12, “There shall no evil befall Thee, neither shall any plague come nigh Thy dwelling. For He shall give His angels charge over Thee, to keep Thee in all Thy ways. They shall bear Thee up in their hands, lest Thou dash Thy foot against a stone.”
The devotion that He displayed throughout His life proved that God delighted in Him, vv.10,11.
“Thou art My God from My mother’s belly” v.10. Just as God had protected and preserved Christ throughout His life, so also Christ had honoured and served God throughout His life. We have already (in the previous Paper) noticed Ps.16.8: “I have set the Lord always before Me.” But it was this very fact that emphasised the depths of His suffering. He could say with absolute justification, “Thou art My God from My mother’s belly”, yet cry upon the cross, “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?”
The words “from the womb” and “from My mother’s belly” describe life in its entirety. We acknowledge that His devotion to His God, right from the beginning of His life on earth, is beyond the comprehension of our finite minds. Yet we do get a tiny glimpse of those very early days, in Luke’s account of Mary’s visit to Elisabeth: it has been beautifully suggested, by an elderly sister in Liverpool, that in Lk.1.44, “the unborn prophet saluted the unborn King” (Quoted by the late Albert Leckie).
We must understand that while, as we have seen from v.3, the Lord Jesus entered upon His sufferings with complete understanding, those sufferings wrung His very soul. He had enjoyed God’s presence and protection from birth, and had lived only for God’s honour and glory. But now He was alone. He addresses the very God Who had delighted in Him: “Be not far from Me; for trouble is near; for there is none to help” v.11. God had been constantly “near”, but now He was “far”. There was no consolation elsewhere: “Reproach hath broken My heart; and I am full of heaviness: and I looked for some to take pity, but there was none; and for comforters, but I found none” Ps.69.20. The words “trouble is near” are now amplified, which brings us to:
Christ and Man – vv.12-18
Verbal abuse, vv.6-8, now gives place to physical violence. This is not the time for clever analysis, but the section may be divided with reference to the expressions:
- “Many bulls have compassed Me …” vv.12-15
- “For dogs have compassed Me …” vv.16-18
In both cases, the Lord Jesus is surrounded by enemies, and the reference to “bulls” and “dogs” may signify Jews and Gentiles respectively.
“Many bulls have compassed Me” vv.12-15.
We should notice: their strength, and His weakness.
Bashan was cattle-rearing country. See Amos 4.1 and Ezek.39.18. “These animals are remarkable for the proud, fierce and sullen manner in which they exercise their great strength. Such were the persecutors who now beset our Lord”2 (John Stevenson, quoted by C.H. Spurgeon). The ferocity and single-mindedness of the bull is well known. The “strong bulls of Bashan” demonstrated their hatred and ferocity throughout the life of the Lord Jesus. See, for example, Matt.12.14: “Then the Pharisees went out, and held a council against Him, how they might destroy Him”; Matt.21.46: “they sought to lay hands on Him”; Matt.22.15: they “took counsel how they might entangle Him in His talk”. Now, at long last, their single-minded determination appeared to have succeeded. Their strength had ultimately proved superior; or so it seemed. The hostility and fury of the religious leaders is graphically described: “They gaped upon Me with their mouths, as a ravening and a roaring lion.” The Lord Jesus did not overstate their animosity in saying, “They hated Me without a cause” Jn.15.25.
The transition from bull to lion, both animals illustrating the cruelty and ferocity of the religious leaders, reminds us that their hatred was fuelled by the devil’s hatred. “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning …” Jn.8.44.
In vv.14,15, the Lord Jesus describes the bodily and mental effects of His crucifixion. It seems likely that the Saviour uses physical terms to express His extreme and total weariness upon the cross.
“I am poured out like water.”
The wise woman of Tekoah said, “For we must needs die, and are as water spilt on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again” 2Sam.14.14. Water in quantity can exert tremendous pressure. Water “poured out” is powerless and irrecoverable. It is a picture of utter weakness.
“All My bones are out of joint.”
While “a bone of Him shall not be broken” Jn.19.36, every bone was dislocated. We must remember that the Saviour was upon the cross for six hours with no support other than the nails through hands and feet. The suffering caused by the total dislocation of the joints is beyond imagination. The pain has been compared to the intense suffering caused by the torture of the rack.
“My heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of My bowels.”
If the bones represent outward bodily strength, then the heart suggests inward bodily strength. A man may suffer severe injuries in an accident, but survive because of a ‘good constitution’. We mean by this that his vital organs are strong. But the very inward strength of the Saviour was weakened through the intensity of His pain.
“My strength is dried up like a potsherd.”
The Saviour likens Himself to “a broken piece of earthenware, or an earthen pot, baked in the fire until the last drop of moisture is driven out of the clay” (C.H. Spurgeon).3 This must have been the effect of the scorching sun to which the wounded and bleeding Saviour was exposed for three hours until midday. He must have suffered fearful dehydration.
“My tongue cleaveth to My jaws.”
The Saviour’s words, “I thirst” Jn.19.28, must have been uttered with the utmost difficulty. Only Divine strength enabled Him to cry “with a loud voice” Lk.23.46.
“Thou hast brought Me into the dust of death.”
This statement lies at the heart of a passage in which Christ describes His sufferings at the hands of men. Notice, “They gaped upon Me … They pierced My hands and My feet … They look and stare upon Me … They part My garments among them”. But, “Thou hast brought Me into the dust of death”. We have a sacred commentary in Acts 2.23, “Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain.”
The words “dust of death” emphasise the depths to which the Saviour came in His love for sinful men and women. “The Lord of glory stoops to the dust of death” (C.H. Spurgeon).4
“For dogs have compassed Me” vv.16-18.
Now it is “dogs”. If “strong bulls of Bashan” describes the Jewish leaders, then “dogs” describes the Gentile soldiers. They crucified Him; they watched Him; they divided His garments.
“They pierced My hands and My feet.”
As with the Psalm in general, David writes of things totally beyond his own experience, and completely beyond his own era. Jewish execution was by stoning; Roman execution was by crucifixion: “And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified Him …” Lk.23.33. In one of His post-resurrection appearances, He “shewed them His hands and His feet” Lk.24.39,40.
Paul tells us that He “was crucified through weakness” 2Cor.13.4. In no way was the Saviour weak in the accepted sense of the word. He was the Master of every situation, including His death. It was, on His part, a willing, voluntary submission to death. He deliberately took the place of human weakness.
The following is taken from “A Special Place – The Story of the Garden Tomb, Jerusalem” by Bill White. “There is a very important point to emphasise about Skull Hill. If speculation follows the idea that the crucifixion could have happened in that vicinity of Jerusalem, it should be stated that the cross would not have been erected on the top of the hill, but on the ground somewhere at the foot. This fact surprises many people. The New Testament nowhere speaks of ‘Golgotha’ (Hebrew) or ‘Calvary’ (Latin) as a hill. The Gospels speak of a ‘place’ called Calvary, Golgotha. Most Christians have grown up with a mental picture of three crosses on a hill and have not realised that the religious pictures are the only source for that idea … However there is firm evidence that, whereas the Jews had specific places for execution, the Romans would crucify their victims in any public place so long as it was beside a main thoroughfare. The Gospels imply that this was the case with the crucifixion of Jesus; ‘Those that passed by railed on Him.’ The Romans used this most cruel method of execution as a deterrent. The Roman writer Quintillian clearly indicated the purpose: ‘Whenever we crucify criminals, very crowded highways are chosen so that many may see it, and many may be moved by fear of it.’”5
5. Quintillian, “Declamations” 274.
“They look and stare upon Me.”
Matthew tells us that “sitting down they watched Him there” Matt.27.36. They gazed at the Saviour, Whose “skin and flesh were distended by the position of the body on the cross, that the bones, as through a thin veil, became visible, and might be counted” (George Horne, quoted by C.H. Spurgeon).6
6. Spurgeon, C.H., ibid.
“They part My garments among them, and cast lots upon My vesture.”
“Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took His garments [outer garments], and made four parts, to every soldier a part; and also His coat [inner garment/vest] … that the scripture might be fulfilled, which saith, ‘They parted My raiment among them, and for My vesture they did cast lots.’ These things therefore the soldiers did” Jn.19.23,24. See also Matt.27.35; Mk.15.24; Lk.23.34.
The fearful indignities endured by the Saviour did not deter Him from accomplishing the work He had come to complete. He “endured the cross, despising the shame …” Heb.12.2.
In the final paragraph of the first section of this Psalm, we hear again the Saviour’s cry to God:
Christ and God – vv.19-21
As the enemies encompass and enclose Him, He cries, “But be not Thou far from Me, O LORD: O My strength, haste Thee to help Me.” This section of the Psalm shows that His prayer was answered: “Thou hast heard Me from the horns of the unicorns.” John tells us that “He bowed His head, and gave up the ghost” Jn.19.30. This was a deliberate act: He put His head in a position of rest. Compare Matt.8.20: “the Son of man hath not where to lay His head.” Luke records His words, “Father, into Thy hands I commend My spirit” Lk.23.46. See Ps.31.4,5: “Pull Me out of the net that they have privily laid for Me: for Thou art My strength. Into Thine hand I commit My spirit: Thou hast redeemed Me, O LORD God of truth.”
The Lord Jesus prays for a threefold deliverance:
“From the sword.”
This suggests His sufferings at the hand of God. See Zech.13.7: “Awake, O sword, against My Shepherd, and against the Man that is My fellow, saith the LORD of hosts.”
“From the power of the dog.”
Literally, “from the hand of the dog” J.N.D. margin. This suggests, as we have already noticed, the Gentile powers: “These things therefore the soldiers did” Jn.19.24.
“From the lion’s mouth.”
This suggests, again as already noted, Satan’s malice and hostility, particularly as expressed through the Jewish leaders.
In praying for deliverance, the Lord Jesus says, “Deliver My soul … My darling“. Psalm 35 contains a similar construction: “Lord, how long wilt Thou look on? Rescue My soul from their destructions, My darling from the lions” v.17. The Hebrew word yachid, here translated “darling”, is variously rendered in the Old Testament. For example, it is rendered “desolate” in Ps.25.16; “only” in Gen.22.2,16; “only beloved” in Prov.4.3; “only son” in Amos 8.10 and Zech.12.10; “solitary” in Ps.68.6. The idea, therefore, seems to be ‘one life’. J.N. Darby and the Newberry margin give “only one”, and D. Kidner suggests an expanded rendering: “all I have left, and my dearest possession.”7
7. Kidner, D. “Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries: Psalms 1-72“. Inter-Varsity Press.
His cry was heard: “Yea, from the horns of the buffaloes [‘unicorns’ A.V.] hast Thou answered Me” J.N.D. God exerted His Divine strength on behalf of His Son. See Num.23.22; 24.8: “God brought them out of Egypt; He had as it were the strength of an unicorn.” The Saviour’s sufferings were over: the work was done. The Lord Jesus was at rest, and the remainder of the Psalm describes the blessed consequences of the Saviour’s suffering. God is praised in an ever-widening circle.
To be continued (D.V.)
Traits of the Tribes
by Ian McKee, N. Ireland
Having reviewed the history of the tribe of Judah in the Book of Judges, we come to the Book of Ruth. Although the name “Judah” only occurs twice in this book (1.7; 4.12), and “Bethlehem-judah” only twice (1.1,2), the details narrated in this little volume are pivotal to Judah’s emergence into leadership.
JUDAH IN THE BOOK OF RUTH
This book has many varied and valuable lessons to teach. However, our focus is to note its importance in detailing the transmission of leadership, from the tribe of Levi (Moses and Aaron) in the wilderness and Ephraim (Joshua) in the conquest of Canaan, towards kingship in the tribe of Judah.
The setting of the book is given: “in the days when the judges ruled, that there was a famine in the land” Ruth 1.1. An early date in the history of the Judges is indicated, as Boaz, a principal character in the book, is the son of Salmon and Rahab the harlot, Matt.1.5. Also, it was the Midianite incursion that “left no sustenance for Israel” Judg.6.4. However, we trace the ongoing development of God’s sovereign purpose against the dark background of the days of the Judges, with continuous oscillation between periods of enemy suppression and impoverishment to periods of Divine deliverance and recovery.
The Book of Ruth contrasts two men from Bethlehem-judah, Elimelech and Boaz. They had tribal and family relationships, yet under the trial of famine they acted very differently. Elimelech quit Bethlehem, ‘the house of bread’, for the attractive economic prosperity and ease of Moab. His decision had tragic implications for himself and others. Boaz ‘tightened his belt’ and remained within his inheritance. Again, his decision had implications for others. The true character of men is not necessarily evidenced in days of plenty; but it is certainly revealed, and unmistakeably so, in days of testing, trial and adversity.
The tragic consequences of Elimelech’s departure are well known. The passage of ten years made unforeseen and devastating changes. Three graves in Moab stand mute testament to the fact that “there is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death” Prov.14.12. The parallel ten years in Judah were doubtless difficult for Boaz but he resolutely remained until “the LORD had visited His people in giving them bread” Ruth 1.6. That good news reached the widowed Naomi and she purposed “to return unto the land of Judah” Ruth 1.7. So, after ten years away, Naomi’s every step is retraced and, along with Ruth, her determined daughter-in-law, they enter the land as the nation did initially: “they came to Bethlehem in the beginning of barley harvest” Ruth 1.22. This was the time when “Jordan overfloweth all his banks all the time of harvest” Josh.3.15.
In coming to Bethlehem-judah Ruth meets “a mighty man of wealth, of the family of Elimelech; and his name was Boaz” Ruth 2.1. Boaz is a man of benevolent goodness, a man of principle and honour, with a spirit of sacrificial love. In the purpose of God Ruth’s “hap was to light on a part of the field belonging unto Boaz” Ruth 2.3. There she heard his voice, learned his ways, received of his kindness and bounty. Consideration of the details and practical lessons contained in Ruth chapter 2 will yield great value and encouragement. Ruth worked hard and long, gleaning and gathering in the field of Boaz. Her industry was rewarded by Boaz’s interest and she received water, bread, parched corn and handfuls of purpose. All that she gathered was later beaten out to remove stalks, chaff and any contaminating particles. If Ruth maintained her work rate and return of her first day in the field of Boaz right through barley harvest unto the end of wheat harvest she would acquire sufficient to feed herself and Naomi for a year, given that an ephah was equivalent to ten times the daily manna provision in the wilderness, Ex.16.16,36. We also note that Ruth secured more food from a night at Boaz’s feet, Ruth 3.17, than she ever did from a day at work in his field.
Taking Ruth’s gleaning in the field of Boaz as a metaphor for our daily gleaning, gathering, beating out and assimilating of our spiritual food from the Word of God, how are we doing in feeding ourselves and in providing spiritual food for others? Gleaning in the Scriptures similarly requires time, energy and commitment. Our gleaning will be “precept … upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little” Isa.28.10. When Ruth picked up her first ear of barley she had no idea of God’s plan for her life. Nor have we when we come to apply ourselves to the study of Scripture and its implementation. However, we can be sure of the promise, “When thou goest thy steps shall not be straitened” or, as a free translation has it, “step by step I will open up the way before thee” Prov.4.12. But there must be assimilation and application of Scripture: “The slothful man roasteth not that which he took in hunting: but the substance of a diligent man is precious” Prov.12.27.
In faith Naomi guided Ruth in relation to a sensitive and chaste approach, drawing upon Scriptural precedent, Lev.25.25; Deut.25.5-10, to appeal to Boaz for his protection. Ruth’s character and disparity in age are indicated by Boaz saying “Blessed be thou of the LORD, my daughter: … thou followedst not young men, whether poor or rich. And now, my daughter, fear not; I will do to thee all that thou requirest: for all the city of my people doth know that thou art a virtuous woman” Ruth 3.10,11. We know that in relation to a virtuous woman “her price is far above rubies” Prov.31.10.
The question may be asked as to why Boaz had remained unmarried until now? It was not because he did not have sufficient financial means. He was a considerate and kindly employer; and evidently well respected and socially competent. Could it have been that as the son of Rahab, following her marriage to Salmon, that a certain social stigma associated with his mother’s pre-conversion days had lingered? Did this man of Judah feel he was something of ‘an outsider’? He certainly showed consideration for Ruth the outsider, and Boaz, born to a Gentile mother, will secure a Gentile bride.
Although Boaz is not Ruth’s brother-in-law, and therefore not bound by the precepts of levirate marriage, he is accepting of the principle involved. He understands that marrying Ruth inextricably involves the associated redemption and purchase of the landholding that was Elimelech’s, and the rights of his deceased sons, “of the hand of Naomi” Ruth 4.9. So Ruth chapter 4 details those legal transactions. Ruth’s prior relationship with Mahlon had ended in death; the ten elders indicate that the Law could bear witness but not contribute to Ruth’s benefit; and the nearer kinsman is suggestive that “none … can by any means redeem his brother, nor give to God a ransom for him” Ps.49.7. It is only this mighty man, Boaz, who singularly has the wealth, willingness and right to redeem and provide. In this regard he is a picture of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who also was born into the tribe of Judah.
Boaz receives the land that was formerly Elimelech’s and takes Ruth to wife. He therefore secures more and yet he gives away at the same time: “Moreover Ruth the Moabitess, the wife of Mahlon, have I purchased to be my wife, to raise up the name of the dead upon his inheritance, that the name of the dead be not cut off from among his brethren, and from the gate of his place: ye are witnesses this day” Ruth 4.10. This reminds us of One Who could say, “Then I restored that which I took not away” Ps.69.4. Ruth is never thereafter referred to as “the Moabitess”.
“And all the people that were in the gate, and the elders” gave their blessing that the LORD should make Ruth “like Rachel and like Leah” – interestingly, the only mention of Leah by name outside of Genesis – and that the house of Boaz should “be like the house of Pharez, whom Tamar bare unto Judah” Ruth 4.11,12. Amazing that the whole congregation links Ruth back to Leah, the unloved, the birth mother of this tribe, as well as mentioning Judah, the tribal head, and Tamar!
Not only do we look back, but this book closes with forward generational details. Obed, the little boy subsequently born to Boaz and Ruth, later becomes the father of Jesse who, in turn, is the father of David. So Boaz and Ruth are the great-grandparents of the first king from the tribe of Judah. In turn, Boaz, the bountiful blesser, and Ruth have their place in the genealogy of the Eternal Lover: “and Booz begat Obed of Ruth” Matt.1.5; compare Lk.3.32.
So this little book, which pulsates with principles and promises, provides a contextual bridge between the eras of the Judges and the Kings, and the transference of tribal primacy from Levi and Ephraim on to Judah. The last word in the Book of Ruth is a name, “David”. Looking forward, Judah’s immediate future will acquire fame and glory for this tribe, the result of choices made at Bethlehem.
But let us not forget the graves of three ‘sons of Judah’ that lie unmarked in Moab, which resulted from very different choices made at Bethlehem. For ten years the inheritance of Elimelech was uncultivated at Bethlehem, with self-seeding grain progressively choked by rampant weeds; a sad memorial to ‘what might have been’.
That landholding in Judah surely reminds us that the ‘field of our life’ may either evidence in a coming day that which answers to ‘golden grain’ or ‘perennial weeds’: the end result of all the choices we make. The flesh and the spiritual are as active within each of us as we permit them to be. Elimelech and Boaz each came from Bethlehem-judah, grew up in the same environment, were subject to the same external pressures, each made individual choices; one became a victim, the other a victor. They stand as a metaphor for the full spectrum of life’s possible outcomes based on how one responds to life’s opportunities, pressures and options. All of this is contained in a small book brim-full of domestic details and agricultural activity. God still outworks His purpose in the arena of ordinary life.
To be continued (D.V.)
NOTES ON THE PRISON EPISTLES
By Alan Summers (Scotland)
Paper 15 – COLOSSIANS CHAPTER 4
Paul ends with an encouragement to pray. He began the letter by praying and giving thanks for the Colossians, 1.3,9,12, and now he exhorts the Colossians to do the same for him, 4.2. The issues he is interested in are still issues we pray for today. He asks them to pray that he will be able to communicate the gospel, “the mystery of Christ”. While we may not be in prison we too ought to have a desire to spread the gospel. For Paul his audience was probably the Roman soldiers who guarded him, and prisoners he met while being processed by the Roman legal system. He also encourages them to pray about their everyday life. He knows that Christians are prone to wasting time. Paul realised that time was a valuable commodity which needed to be “redeemed” 4.5. In other words it needed to be bought back from the service of the world or personal interests and put into God’s service. One valuable use of time is to live a godly life, 4.5, and to speak in a way that is God-honouring, 4.6. Christians should not swear or tell doubtful stories. They should always be truthful and where possible express their faith in Christ. This is what makes speech ‘salty’. Salt is used to preserve food, and it also gives flavour to food. So the Christian’s speech should never lead to others being corrupted in any way and should be truthful and honest. This gives Christian conversation a distinctive and palatable flavour.
One of the major differences between Colossians and Ephesians is that Colossians ends with some personal references and a long list of greetings to a variety of people. Ephesians lacks that personal touch. Before launching into the greeting list, Paul refers to Tychicus, who had been sent from Colossae to Rome to meet with him either in his “hired house” Acts 28.30, or if at a later stage of his time in Rome, in his cell in the royal palace, Phil.1.13; 4.22. He may have come with a gift or to pass on the greetings and encouragement of the Colossians. He is now on his way back to Colossae, probably as the bearer of the letter to the church at Colossae. He is commended highly by Paul as a “beloved brother”, which speaks of Paul’s affection for him, a “faithful minister”, which speaks of his fidelity to God and to the church at Colossae and lastly as a “fellowservant”, which speaks of Paul’s fellowship with him in the work of God. Paul also refers to Onesimus. More is said of him in the letter to Philemon, which was also sent back with Tychicus. We will deal with them in the last article on these Notes. During Paul’s various imprisonments he received a variety of support and practical encouragement from Christians. Today Christians are still being imprisoned or martyred for their faith and we should have a desire to support them if we can.
In total ten individuals are mentioned at the close of the letter. Paul often greets people by name or conveys their greetings to his audience. Romans chapter 16 is a prime example of this. Here, in Colossians, he has a comment about nearly everyone. This demonstrates his personal interest in people and his wide circle of friends and acquaintances.
The fact that Aristarchus is a fellow prisoner indicates that Paul was not the only Christian in Rome on criminal charges. Whether Aristarchus had also appealed to Rome in order to determine whether the governors of the Roman province of Judea had jurisdiction to try someone who was a Roman citizen is not stated. He may have faced different charges and a different court. “Marcus” is referred to elsewhere as “Mark”. This reference sheds light on the issue which arose in Acts 15.37-39 between Paul and Barnabas. It seems that even in the work of the Lord ‘blood is thicker than water’. Barnabas may well have been influenced by his family relationship with Mark in wanting to take him on the missionary journey. In either event, rather tragically, Paul and Barnabas fell out and never worked together again. This should be a warning that family ties can lead good men to make bad judgments about spiritual matters.
The reference to Jesus is interesting because it shows that the Lord’s name was not unique to the Lord. It is the Greek form of the Hebrew name Joshua. Some societies today, for example in Brazil and Spain, continue to use the name “Jesus” as a name for children. He may have been re-named Justus because the Christians were not comfortable with someone being known by the same name as their Lord. Paul indicates that all these men are of the “circumcision”, that is, Jews, v.11, and that they were the only Jews who had been of assistance to him during his confinement. We may therefore deduce that the other people he names are Gentiles and that Gentile Christians had become the main source of support for the apostle.
These include Epaphras. The phrase “who is one of you” indicates he was from Colossae. He sends his greetings to the Colossians. It is therefore evident that he was not travelling with Tychicus and had remained in Rome with Paul. Laodicea and Hierapolis were towns that neighboured Colossae. It seems, therefore, his sphere of labour was not only his home assembly but the locality as well.
The reference to Luke provides us with some background information on the man who wrote Luke’s Gospel and the Acts of the Apostles; compare 2Tim.4.11. Due to their length, these two books make Luke the most prolific New Testament writer (if Hebrews was not written by Paul), despite the fact that we know little about him. Here we are told that he was a medical doctor. This would have made him an invaluable help to Paul given the physical pounding he took during his missionary work, Acts 14.19, and the health problems that beset him, 2Cor.12.7. It is noticeable that although he calls Luke “beloved” he says nothing about Demas, v.14. Paul may have had a premonition that Demas would not prove faithful, 2Tim.4.10.
Nymphas (some manuscripts suggest that this is a female name), like other believers in the early days of the Church, used his house as the meeting place for the assembly, Philemon v.2; compare Rom.16.5; 1Cor.16.19. Most Christians leave their home to go to the church, but Nymphas remained at home. No doubt the meetings were disruptive. Rooms would have to be cleared and furniture rearranged. His neighbours would be in no doubt that he was associated with the Christians. Using his home in this way was quite a sacrifice to make.
Paul closes by seeking to secure a wide circulation for the letter, v.16, and refers to another letter he wrote to the assembly at Laodicea. What it said or what became of it is unknown. Paul’s remarks indicate that he did not just intend his letters to be read by their immediate recipients. This is obvious in his letters to Timothy, where many of his comments do not readily apply to the addressee of the letter but are plainly directed to Christians generally. The final comment is addressed to a man called Archippus. He does not state what “ministry” v.17, Archippus had received. Whatever it was Paul desired him to fulfil it. This is true for us all. We have all a role to play in the work of the Lord.
To be continued (D.V.)
Notes On The Prayers Of The Saviour In Luke’s Gospel
by Kenneth Buckeridge
These notes were written to accompany a series taught in the assembly Bible Class at Uxbridge, England. The series was shared by three brethren, which is reflected in the individual styles of writing of the notes.
Praying with Rejoicing
PAPER 7—Luke 10.20-24 (also Matthew 11.25-27)
In the previous verses of Luke chapter 10 (vv.1-20), we read that the seventy disciples have been sent out as “labourers” by “the Lord of the harvest” v.2. They were to show by miracles and preaching that “The kingdom of God is come nigh unto you” v.9. He also pronounces judgment on those that refuse the message, emphasising that the way His servants are treated is the equivalent of treating God in the same way, v.16. Matt.18.10 reminds us about the way we should act towards all: “Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones”; whereas Heb.4.15 gives us great encouragement in all that we face as we serve Him: “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.”
When the seventy disciples return ‘flushed with success’, notice the Lord’s statement in v.18. This would seem to address two matters:
- Pride: the cause of Satan’s fall, and ours too, if we are not careful, Prov.16.18
- Victory: triumph over Satan comes only through the One Who is greater than the devil, 1Jn.4.4
In v.19 assurance is given of the Saviour’s protection as we do His bidding.
The content of this prayer of our Lord covers the subjects of Rejoicing, Revelation and Responsibility.
Rejoicing – vv.20,21
v. 20 emphasises what our priority should be and v.21 the Lord’s priority:
Our Priority – v.20
Our priority is to make sure that pride does not affect our service for the Lord. We should remain humble when we remember that our “names are written in heaven”. We do not rejoice in God-given ability (we are expected to use that in His service, Lk.17.9,10) but we should rejoice in that which only our Lord could do, which was to purchase our place in heaven, Phil.4.4.
The Lord’s Priority – v.21
His priority was to allow a rejoicing heart to overflow in thankful praise to God. “Rejoice” here is to exult (triumphant joy), compared with ‘ordinary’ rejoicing in v.20. Do the things that we rejoice over lead us in thankful praise and prayer to God? Do we have the same priorities as our Saviour?
Using the acrostic of ‘ACTS’ for prayer, notice:
- Adoration – “Lord of heaven and earth”
- Confession – never needed by the Saviour, but always by us, Lk.11.4; 1Jn.1.9
- Thanks – that those who are babes in the learning of the world system understood spiritual matters (but note Heb.5.12-14)
- Supplication – the acknowledgement of God’s sovereignty and a reminder that we can, and should, come to God with thankful hearts, as well as burdened hearts.
“Wise and prudent” refers to those who are knowledgeable about worldly matters but have no discernment of the spiritual, 1Cor.1.20,21; 2.6,7; 3.19.
Revelation – vv.21-24
In these verses we are reminded of some great privileges of this Dispensation:
- Our names are written in heaven, v.20; in contrast to those in Rev.20.15
- We have been blessed, though we are not worthy, v.21
- The Father has been revealed to us, v.22; see also Jn.1.18; 14.8,9
- The blessedness of the eyes and ears of those to whom these things have been made known, vv.23,24; see also Jn.8.56; 20.29.
In conclusion, we should remind ourselves that with the privileges we have, there is always responsibility. We are responsible to pray and go, that is, to tell others: “Therefore said He unto them, ‘The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that He would send forth labourers into His harvest. Go your ways: behold, I send you forth as lambs among wolves’” vv.2,3.
Are we doing this in our local area and individual lives?
To be continued (D.V.)
Comfort for Christians in a Changing World
by Roy Reynolds (N. Ireland)
“My God shall supply all your need …” Philippians 4.19
We have become somewhat accustomed to the austerity which has been imposed upon us since the financial chaos and collapse of recent times. Hardship has been faced by many and even those who were accustomed to a lifestyle of luxury and plenty have found their gains eroded with cruel consequences.
Currencies have been devalued and quantitative easing has been introduced to lessen the harsh effects of these troubling events. Savers have found their interest tumbling and the prospects of many have become bleak.
How reassuring to know that heaven’s bank will never face such ruin and all deposits made there will be eternally secure. Inflation, deflation and recession will never be problems encountered by any who resort to God and there will never be any limits imposed on your withdrawals. “Thou art coming to a King; large petitions with thee bring”, “for every one that asketh receiveth” Matt.7.8.
- Beyond our utmost wants
- His love and power can bless;
- To praying souls He always grants
- More than they can express.
“That I may know Him …” Philippians 3.10
It seems impossible; how can I ever plumb the unfathomable or scale the unreachable? His greatness is unsearchable and His vastness beyond our comprehension. An ocean without shores and seas without a bottom are before me, vast lands unexplored; yet Paul longed to know Him; it became his greatest quest in life. Paul, like the Psalmist, expressed the longing of his heart, “Thou art my God … My soul thirsteth for Thee, My flesh longeth for Thee … To see Thy power and Thy glory” Ps.63.1,2.
Moses had begun to see God’s greatness; the God of glory appeared to Abraham when he dwelt in Mesopotamia; Paul had seen the ascended Christ in His Damascus Road experience and earthly scenes could no longer satisfy.
It is a knowledge that can only be gained by experimental acquaintance, demanding a closer walk with Him and sweeter communion day by day. It is “that good part [portion]” that Mary of Bethany chose, Lk.10.42; may it be ours to quench our deepest thirst at the unfailing fountain of incomparable greatness.
- Christ, its unmingled object, fills the heart
- In blest adoring love – its endless part.
A Response to an Enquiring Calvinist
by David McKinley (Canada)
The letter below was written in response to a man who had received literature from an assembly, and who responded with questions regarding the beliefs of the company. The matters raised in his enquiry can be deduced from the response of brother McKinley, who has forwarded his letter for publication, in the hope and prayer that it will be a help to readers who encounter ‘Calvinistic’ teaching.
Thank you for contacting the assembly that meets in the local Gospel Hall. We appreciate your interest. In response to your questions, we accept the Holy Scriptures as the verbally inspired and inerrant Word of God. It is our ‘Creed’ or ‘Inquire within for Everything’. Thus, we believe what John Calvin taught, in so far as it is in agreement with the Inspired Word.
We therefore hold what the Scriptures teach, that man is a depraved creature due to the sin of Adam passed on to all his posterity. “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned” Rom.5.12. Because God is Creator Who is both the source of natural life and the sustainer of natural life, God has the right to demand that all men repent and turn to Him. “And the times of this ignorance God winked at, but now commandeth all men everywhere to repent: because He hath appointed a day, in the which He will judge the world in righteousness by that Man whom He hath ordained; whereof He hath given assurance unto all men, in that He hath raised Him from the dead” Acts 17.30,31. Total depravity does not therefore mean total inability to turn to God: He commands all men everywhere to repent. We cannot charge the Almighty God with commanding every individual to do something that only a select few are capable of doing and then damning their souls to eternal night for not doing what they could not do! That would be preposterous!
We stand by what the Scripture teaches on election, as the result of a purpose that God purposed in Himself, to have a redeemed company around the throne of glory, yea, around the Throne-Sitter, the blessed Lord Jesus Christ Himself. Everyone in that vast innumerable host will attribute their salvation to the great Triune God: the Father Who planned redemption, the Son Who performed the great work in blood, sweat and tears on Calvary’s cross, bearing our sins in His own body on the tree, and to the Holy Spirit Who strove with them in lifetime’s opportunity, convicting of sin, of righteousness and of judgment and thus turning them in repentance to Christ, the object of faith.
- The countless multitude on high,
- That tune their songs to Jesus’ Name,
- All merit of their own deny,
- And Jesus’ worth alone proclaim.
- Firm on the ground of sovereign grace,
- They stand before Jehovah’s throne;
- The only song in that blest place
- Is “Thou art worthy! Thou alone.”
- (A. Rutherford)
We stand with Scripture in relation to the infinite value of the precious blood of the Lord Jesus Christ in providing unlimited atonement for all of the human race and more, because His death is the basis for the future renovation of the glorious creation that has been despoiled by the fall of Adam. “For it pleased the Father that in Him should all fulness dwell; and, having made peace through the blood of His cross, by Him to reconcile all things unto Himself; by Him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven” Col.1.19,20. “And He shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things” Acts 3.20,21. “That in the dispensation of the fulness of times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in Him” Eph.1.10.
The work of Christ is so valued in the eyes of God that it will be seen as the fulcrum on which the entire purposes of the great Triune Godhead’s eternal plans turn. The fall of man was fully foreknown, but never instigated, by God! Satan, the “covering cherub” who once held such a place of prominence in the third heaven, God’s dwelling place, through pride fell, to become the devil, Satan, “that old serpent” who used insidious lies, deceived Eve and caused the fall of our first parents. He will eventually end in the Lake of Fire, with all his dupes. The death of Christ was the death knell of that arch-enemy of God. “Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to His cross; And having spoiled principalities and powers, He made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it” Col.2.14,15. The triumph attained by Christ on Calvary, proven victorious by His resurrection on the third day, is clearly shown by these Scriptures to extend beyond the redemption of human beings. Even the heavens that are not clean in His sight, Job 15.15, will know the blessed effects of that wondrous sacrifice.
I like the words of William Blane on this point:
- Let none the ransom under-rate,
- Or vainly try to estimate
- What Jesus on the cross endured
- Ere man’s salvation was procured.
- Vain were the task to try to sum
- The sufferings which would have come
- On all mankind lost through the Fall.
- Yet satisfaction for it all
- God has received; and hence He can
- Extend to every fallen man
- Salvation – pardon full and free –
- Which is his own the moment he,
- Lost, ruined, helpless and undone,
- Believes on Jesus, God’s dear Son.
NOTE: it is also evident that while “things under the earth” will be forced, however reluctantly, to own Christ as supreme Lord, they will not be reconciled. “Wherefore God also hath highly exalted Him, and given Him a name which is above every name: that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” Phil.2.9-11.
Grace is a glorious topic, which we revel in. Of Christ’s walk on earth, John declares: “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father;) full of grace and truth” Jn.1.14. The Lord was the perfect revelation of the heart of God: “No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared Him” Jn.1.18. All that He did was in the power of the Holy Spirit: “For He whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God: for God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto Him” Jn.3.34; and again, “But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you” Matt.12.28. Sadly, those Pharisees, despite a full revelation of Jesus as the true Messiah, attributed the power by which He cast out devils to Beelzebub, the prince of the devils, instead of the power of the Holy Spirit, and so resisted the Spirit’s power and put themselves under the unforgivable sin of blasphemy against the Holy Ghost: “But whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come” Matt.12.32. Apart from the gracious activity of the Holy Spirit we would not yield to the truth of the gospel, yet we find that it is possible to resist His gracious entreaties, as seen in those religious bigots of the Lord’s day. We also see that Stephen charged his hearers: “Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye” Acts 7.51. Here was a gracious offer to the nation which had crucified their Messiah, which they steadfastly refused. Saul of Tarsus standing there felt the sharpness of the goads of conscience, but for a time went on madly in his self-will: “being exceedingly mad against them, I persecuted them even unto strange cities” Acts 26.11. The Holy Spirit continued to deal with him despite his misguided thinking, until on the Damascus Road he confessed with his mouth Jesus Christ as Lord and believed in his heart that God had raised Him from the dead, and thus he was saved.
The Scriptures are abundantly clear that the salvation of God is an eternal salvation. With Robert Murray McCheyne we can sing:
- Jehovah Tsidkenu! my treasure and boast,
- Jehovah Tsidkenu! I ne’er can be lost.
The blessed Lord (and what greater authority is there?), speaking of His “sheep”, said, “I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of My hand” Jn.10.28. Every true believer is eternally secure, yet there is ample evidence in the Word as well as in daily experience that “not every one that saith unto Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of My Father which is in heaven” Matt.7.21; and again, “And why call ye Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not the things which I say?” Lk.6.46. You have likely noticed that each time we read the double appellation “Lord, Lord” in Holy Scripture, it is out of the mouths of the insincere and unreal! How solemn! Many we talk to today use the Lord’s name glibly, but in deportment, dress and disregard of many plain commands of the inspired Word, they betray a lack of true love for the Saviour, Whom they profess to know. “Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, ‘The Lord knoweth them that are His.’ And ‘Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity’” 2Tim.2.19.
In conclusion, this has grown to larger proportions than I had envisaged, but I trust I have given you a clear idea as to our convictions, based on a balanced view of the teaching of that inestimable treasure, the Word of God. As Christians gathered to the name of the Lord Jesus Christ alone, we seek to testify to all of the great and eternal blessing of being saved and sure of heaven, as we wait for the promised return of the Lord from heaven.
by Walter Gustafson, USA
William Rodgers1 points out that the four occurrences of the word “godliness” “in 2Peter form an interesting group. First in 1.3 we read that ‘His divine power hath given us all things that pertain unto life and godliness’, a statement that should remind us of the good start we had in the past received in our Christian life, when God granted to us, not only all things pertaining to our life in Christ itself, but also everything that was needful for godly living as well, thus leaving us without excuse for failure. Again in verses 6 and 7 of the same chapter, godliness, amongst other things, is urged upon us as a matter of present experience and growth in the words, ‘add to your … patience godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness.’ The various graces named in this list mutually complement and correct one another; and some measure of each of them will be manifest in any saint who is making real progress. Lastly at 3.11, in a passage occupied with the future, we have the exhortation, ‘Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness’. Here, for the only time in the Scriptures, the word is in the plural (literally ‘godlinesses’), as is true also of its companion word ‘conversation’. By this means, as well as by the ‘all’ that precedes them, the Holy Spirit would emphasise to us that the teachings of the chapter with regard to the future, if rightly held by us, will leave no part of our lives and ways uninfluenced.” “Holy conversation” is ‘holy living’.
1. Rogers, W. “Bible Notes and Expositions”. LM Press Ltd., Lurgan.
We have “godliness” in Titus 1.1, where we read of the truth “which is after godliness”, or, as in the Revised Version, “according to godliness”. There is a parallel in 1Tim.6.3, “the doctrine which is according to godliness”. Either of these two might be used as a title or heading for the three ‘Pastoral epistles’, for it is the burden of each one of them that God’s truth, if rightly taught and held, must necessarily produce godly living. Both in 2Timothy and Titus we have the adverb form, in Greek, of the word. In 2Tim.3.12, we have the warning, that “all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution”; and in Titus 2.12 it is stated that the grace of God instructs us, in order that we may “live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world.”
In 1Tim.4.8 Paul tells us that bodily exercise has some profit, but, in contrast, godliness has far greater profit: “but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come”. Verse 7b, “exercise thyself rather unto godliness”, could be translated ‘keep on exercising thyself unto godliness’, since the verb tense is present imperative. No one attains any degree of godliness without exercise. Paul could say “And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offence toward God, and toward man” Acts 24.16. That also requires exercise.
This exercise will be the result of discipline in the life, meditation on the Word of God and prayerful application by the Holy Spirit to every area of our lives. The first word of v.8a, “for bodily exercise is profitable for a little” R.V., shows that he is explaining the exhortation of v.7b, “exercise thyself … unto godliness”. Paul here is neither encouraging nor excusing participation in worldly games. He is merely telling us that bodily exercise has limited value, but training unto godliness has measureless benefits. “The life that now is” is contrasted with the life “which is to come”. Bodily exercise is good for our bodies and can enable us to live longer, but exercising ourselves unto godliness is not only profitable for our bodies, but it is profitable for our souls and spirits as well. Verse 9 says, “This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation.” Most expositors and commentators believe this primarily refers to what he has written to “exercise thyself … unto godliness”.
These verses correspond to what Paul wrote in 1Tim.6.11: “But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness.” This verse teaches us that in order to be a man of God or a woman of God, godliness is one of the virtues we should follow after.
Love is another virtue that we should follow after. 1Cor.14.1 says, “Follow after love” R.V. “Flee these things” in 1Tim.6.11 especially refers to the “love of money” in v.10 and that goes along with “godliness with contentment is great gain” 1Tim.6.6. Paul could write, “I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, [therewith] to be content” Phil.4.11. The next verse shows that Paul could accommodate himself to an abased condition of poverty without anxious care and he could accommodate himself to an abounding condition of prosperity without pride or carelessness. He gives us the secret in v.13, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” or ‘who continually pours strength into me’. Eph.5.20 also helps us to be content: “Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” One of the conditions to keep us from quenching the Spirit in 1Thess.5.18 is, “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”
Matthew Henry wrote arguably the greatest devotional commentary ever written; not the greatest commentary but the greatest devotional commentary. One day the Lord made 1Thess.5.18 very precious to him. Guess what happened to him later on that same day. He was held up and robbed! This verse came into his mind, and he thought, “How can I give thanks unto God in this?” He thought of three things for which to thank God. First, he thanked God that it had never happened before. Then he thanked God that he did not have much money to give the robber and the robber did not hurt him. And, thirdly, he thanked God that by the grace of God he was not the one doing the robbing!
Good Tidings from Heaven
Have you got the Symptoms?
The outbreak and spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19) has brought about a large measure of panic throughout the world. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), the first case was recorded in Wuhan, China, in December 2019, and since then it has rapidly extended to multiple other countries worldwide, and been declared a global pandemic. It is predicted to have implications upon medical, economical, societal, political and educational spheres on an unprecedented and unparalleled scale.
According to the U.K. National Health Service, symptoms of the virus are similar to those of the common flu, including fever, breathing difficulties, and, in severe cases, pneumonia, and organ failure. The NHS explains that because the Coronavirus is a new illness, there is still much to be learned regarding how it is transmitted, and how it may be treated. As the situation develops, the authorities are continually issuing updates on how best to avoid contamination and respond to signs of infection.
However, there is a disease that is far more concerning and urgent than COVID-19 could ever be; its contamination is more extensive and its consequences are infinitely more extreme. The Bible tells us of a sickness that afflicts every person on earth: “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” Romans 3.23. It is in every single person, for we are all “in sin” from birth, Psalm 51.5. Its symptoms are evident in every aspect of our lives: it infects our thoughts, our words, our actions, our steps, and even the motives of our hearts (see Romans 3.9-19). It is an infection that spreads from head to toe, and it is one that we simply cannot escape from or cure by ourselves, no matter how hard we try. Many people in the world show carelessness and indifference to the seriousness of sin, but this sickness has a one hundred percent mortality rate: the solemn outcome is the same for everyone: “the wages of sin is death” Romans 6.23.
While various treatments and a cure for the Coronavirus are still uncertain and under pressing active research, the Bible thankfully makes it clear that a complete and perfect remedy for the sickness of our sin has been provided. In His death upon the cross, the Lord Jesus Christ “bare our sins in His own body” 1Peter 2.24, and “put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself” Hebrews 9.26. Even though our sin is the most deadly and dangerous disease of all, the blood of Christ can cleanse us from it all: “the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin” 1John 1.7. His love was so great that He was willing to give Himself for us, and take the punishment in our stead. The work is entirely finished, and all we must do is trust Him, Who died for us and rose again, as the Saviour of our souls.
However, time is limited. You need to avail of the cure while there is still opportunity. Would you love to know your sins are completely and eternally forgiven? Because “Christ died for us” Romans 5.8, God can forever forgive and save your soul.
A Proverb to Ponder
- “The eyes of the LORD are in every place, beholding the evil and the good” Proverbs 15.3
- The omniscience of God is clearly set forth here: He sees everyone, and everything that they do. It makes no difference what is the character of the people, or their deeds: whether good or evil, He sees every action, word, and thought. “Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in His sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of Him with whom we have to do” Heb.4.13. In this truth there is, for us as believers, a warning (that we should not be like those who are evil) and a comfort (that God sees, and will reward us if we do good). Let us therefore do good “until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God” 1Cor.4.5.