Truth & Testimony Vol. 1 No. 9, 1992.

Contents

Our Resources in a Day of Departure — An Address on Second Timothy

A Man of God in the Old Testament

The Life of David (2) David's Army

Enoch, or Walking with God

The Armour of God (2)

From our Archive — The Morning Star

News from the Field

Quotations from Scripture are generally taken either from the King James translation or Mr. J.N. Darby's translation. Quotations taken from any other translation will be indicated in the course of the article, or in a footnote to the article.

Our Resources in a Day of Departure

An Address on Second Timothy

I wish to draw your attention to the last epistle written by the apostle Paul, and it has particular reference to the declension and disorder prevailing in the Christian testimony in the last days. It has therefore a special interest for us today, so I would like to emphasise the special features of each chapter in turn.

2 Timothy 1

The Purposes of God in a Day of Defection

Verse 15 stresses the defection that characterised Paul's day and alas our day too. "This thou knowest, that all they which are in Asia be turned away from me; of whom are Phygellus and Hermogenes." How sad that the one who had been used of God to unfold the truth of the heavenly calling and the mystery of Christ and the church should be deserted by those to whom he had brought the truth! It was not that these saints had turned from Christ, but they were not prepared to be associated with the apostle in the outside place of rejection. They were not prepared to share the reproach of one who was then a prisoner for Christ's sake.

But the question is, what is there for us in such a day of defection, a day of turning away from the truth? And surely it is a day of departure, for many who once walked in a path bearing the reproach of Christ have now given it up for a wider path which offers more attraction to the natural heart and has a greater appeal to the flesh. What is there then for us in a day of such extensive departure? First of all, we are exhorted as Timothy was, not to be ashamed of the testimony of the Lord. What is this testimony? It is the testimony of the glorified Lord, the testimony concerning the glorified Man in the supreme place of power on high.

But more than this testimony we have the purpose of God revealed in the gospel, and this remains true and steadfast, as real to us today as ever it was. The apostle bids Timothy not to be ashamed of such a testimony or of him as a prisoner, but to be a "partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God; Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling". It is clear that the two great themes of the gospel are salvation and calling. On the one hand the gospel proclaims the way of salvation: on the other it presents the purpose of God for which we are saved. It is plain that the first great object of the gospel is our salvation, and God would have us to be in no uncertainty as to this. He "hath saved us" — it is a perfect and accomplished work.

But not only has God saved us, He has "called us with an holy calling". It is a heavenly calling in Hebrews 3, in contrast with the earthly calling of the Jew; it is the calling on high in Christ Jesus in Philippians 3 as opposed to those who mind earthly things. But here it is an holy calling: there is no lowering of God's standard in a day of increasing evil.

In the calling of God there is spread before us a vast vista of heavenly blessing, for we are blessed with all spiritual blessings in the heavenlies in Christ. And all this blessing was purposed for us in Christ before the foundation of the world.

This eternal purpose has now been "made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath annulled death, and hath brought life and incorruptibility to light through the gospel." Our very bodies will share the fruits of the mighty victory of our Lord over death and the grave. "For our commonwealth has its existence in the heavens, from which also we await the Lord Jesus Christ as Saviour, who shall transform our body of humiliation into conformity to His body of glory, according to the working of the power which He has even to subdue all things to Himself" (Phil. 3:20-21).

2 Timothy 2

The Path of Separation in a Day of Corruption

It is a day of corruption, for all kinds of false teaching and heretical doctrine are abroad. Two false teachers are actually named: Hymenaeus and Philetus, who declared that the resurrection was already past. That is they were making it a spiritual thing, probably basing their contention on Ephesians 2, where we are said to be quickened with Christ. And are not some so-called church leaders today leading souls astray by denying the virgin birth and the bodily resurrection of the Lord Jesus? Surely these are vessels to dishonour in the professing church today. And as in Paul's day, so in ours, the faith of many is being overthrown.

"Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure", says the apostle. In spite of the ruin and wreck of the outward testimony, what God has established remains firm and immovable. It is not a question here what the foundation is (though there be but one,

namely Christ) but it is rather the fact that there is a foundation of God, which is absolutely beyond the reach of all Satan's devices. This foundation has a double seal, God's sovereignty ("The Lord knoweth them that are His") and man's responsibility ("Let every one who names the name of the Lord withdraw from iniquity").

We are living in a day when the house of God on earth has become like a great house — a sphere in which believers and mere professors have become mixed and indistinguishable. The figure used is that of a great house built by a man of substance, and containing all kinds of vessels for the master's use, some to honour, some to dishonour.

Separation from evil is the first step in God's path. However great the corruption there is never a period in the church's history on earth when the godly are left without direction. God has foreseen the ruin, and He has provided clear directions for us to follow in a day of ruin like the present. We are called upon to separate from iniquity, from all that is unrighteous in the sight of a holy God, and also to separate from persons associated with evil, the vessels to dishonour. Only thus can we be vessels unto honour, sanctified and suitable for the Master's use, and prepared unto every good work. Do we not desire to be clean and sanctified vessels that the Master can take us at any time and use in His service and to His glory?

Then there is the positive side of separation. "Flee also youthful lusts: but follow (or pursue) righteousness, faith, love, peace with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart." Righteousness, practical righteousness, is very important in these days. We need to exercise ourselves, like the apostle, to have a conscience void of offence toward God, and toward men (Acts 24:16). Our practice must go hand in hand with our doctrine. Faith too is very important, for without faith it is impossible to please God. The apostles cried, "Lord, increase our faith", but the increase comes when we put our faith into practice. The more we use our faith in full confidence in God, the more it grows. Then love is essential to a victorious and harmonious Christian life. It is like the oil that keeps the machinery running smoothly and effectually. How important this is in our assembly life! Peter draws an interesting distinction between brotherly love and love: he exhorts us to add to brotherly kindness love (2 Peter 1:7). Brotherly love goes out to those whose qualities appeal to us, we cannot help loving them, but what about that difficult brother or sister with whom we don't seem to get on so well? We must love them because they belong to the Lord equally as ourselves. The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts, and we must let it flow out to all who are the Lord's. Lastly, we are to follow peace, as we are reminded in Hebrews 12:14, "Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord". "Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God" (Matthew 5:9). In the assembly let us aim at being a peacemaker rather than a disturber of the peace!

2 Timothy 3

The Sufficiency of the Holy Scriptures in a Day of Imitation

This third chapter gives a solemn description of the terrible condition into which the Christian profession will fall in the last days, and are not these features true of the present day? — "men shall be lovers of their own selves — lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God". Jannes and Jambres were the magicians who withstood Moses and Aaron in the presence of Pharaoh. When Aaron cast down his rod before Pharaoh, as the Lord had commanded, and it became a serpent, the magicians also did the same with their enchantments (Ex. 7:10-11). Thus they resisted the truth by imitating the action of the Lord's servants; and it is in this way that the truth will be opposed in the perilous times of the last days. But is not this imitation of the truth the great danger of the present day? Satan is busy presenting that which may seem like the truth, but mixed up with it is poisonous error calculated to deceive unwary souls. "Evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived" (verse 13).

So what is our resource in this day of imitation? Our safeguard against error is the inspiration and sufficiency of the holy Scriptures. Paul says to Timothy, "Continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; and that from a child thou hast known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus." Salvation here would be not only the salvation of our souls, but would include the day by day salvation from the wiles of the devil.

Then he goes on to emphasise a most important truth: All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, or is God breathed, that is, given by the operation of the Holy Spirit through human vessels as a revelation of the divine mind. Doubtless the holy Scriptures which Timothy had known from a child would be the Old Testament Scriptures, but when the apostle states that "Every Scripture is divinely inspired" he includes all the writings of the New Testament too. Thus we have in God's holy and inspired Word all that we need to maintain a godly walk down here.

2 Timothy 4

The Lordship of Christ in a Day of Coercion

The aged apostle is at the end of his pilgrim journey. "I am now ready to be offered;", he says, "and the time of my departure is at hand." He is under great pressure. "For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world ... Only Luke is with me ... Alexander the coppersmith did me much evil . . . of whom be thou ware also; for he hath greatly withstood our words. At my first answer no man stood with me, but all men forsook me." There is more to come, but this is sufficient to indicate the intense pressure upon the dear apostle in the closing days of his testimony. What was his resource at such a time? It was the Lordship of Christ. "Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me". Read the chapter through and see how many times the Lordship of Christ is referred to.

Look again at verse 16, "At my first answer no man stood with me, but all men forsook me". I think this refers to his first appearance before the Imperial Tribunal at Rome. No one was found to accompany him to the court, all forsook him. Yet in the face of such bitter desertion he was assured of the Lord's presence, and he could say, "Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me (or gave me power)", so that the effort of the enemy was turned into an occasion for the proclamation of the gospel to the Gentiles who filled the court of trial. And the apostle tells us that he was delivered out of the mouth of the lion: he was delivered out of the hands of the wicked Emperor Nero, who was but the tool of Satan now going about as a roaring lion seeking whom he might devour. Such was the confidence of the apostle that he could say, "The Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto His heavenly kingdom". One has said that the heavenly kingdom may indeed be reached through a martyr's death, but the apostle knew that to die was gain, for it would bring him into the presence of his beloved Lord in His heavenly glory.

Very beautifully Paul closes this epistle to Timothy with the desire that the Lord Jesus Christ may be with his spirit. It has been said that we may be right in doctrine and principle, and even outward conduct, and yet be wrong in spirit. If the Lord Jesus is with us in spirit we shall exhibit, in our words and ways, the very spirit of Jesus Christ our Lord.

A.R.C.

A Man of God in the Old Testament

The expression "man of God" occurs about 76 times in the Old Testament, and only two times in the New. Except where Moses is spoken of, it refers to those who witnessed to God's people in a day of departure. Let's take a brief look at some of those whom Scripture calls "a man of God".

AN ANGEL OF THE LORD

This person announced the birth of Samson, declaring that he would be a Nazarite, set apart for God, in a day when the people of God suffered under the oppression of the Philistines (Judges 13:6, 7).

SAMUEL

As the "seer" he "saw" things as God did and was able to communicate these things to the people of God. He was a forerunner of David, the man after of God's own heart (1 Sam. 9:6, 10).

DAVID

He appointed the service of God for priests, Levites, singers, musicians and doorkeepers in relation to the temple and the city of God (2 Chr. 8:14; Neh. 12:24, 36).

SHEMAIAH

He commanded King Rehoboam not to fight "his brethren", the recently separated ten tribes (1 Kings 12:22; 2 Chr. 11:3).

ANONYMOUS

God sometimes commissioned unnamed men of God to give a word of correction to His backsliding people. He used such men to speak with spiritual power:

- To Eli the high priest because of failures in his family (1 Sam. 2:27).

- To King Jeroboam of Israel for replacing Jehovah's chosen centre with an idolatrous and independent religious centre of his own making. (In this case the prophet is called a man of God 17 times in 1 Kings 13 and 2 Kings 23.)

- To King Amaziah of Judah who obeyed His word by separating from an unholy alliance with Israel (2 Chr. 25:79).

ELIJAH AND ELISHA

In a special day of ruin among the ten tribe kingdom of Israel, God sent these two special witnesses to bring back the heart of the people to Himself; and to bring out the unlimited resources of His sovereign grace (see 1 Kings 17 through to 2 Kings 13). Both of their lives invite detailed study. The expression occurs at least seven times for Elijah and thirty times for Elisha.

HANAN

At a time in Judah's history when departure from God's chosen centre of worship had succeeded a special revival under King Josiah, we meet Hanan (Jer. 35:4). His name (meaning a "gracious giver") reminds us of God's sovereign grace, also available to us. His father's name, Igdaliah (meaning "God will wax great") suggests that we can find a continual remedy and preservative for our hearts in the greatness of God. Note that Jeremiah (meaning "Jehovah is highly exalted") prophesied during the same dismal period, one so similar to our days.

MOSES

Moses was the deliverer of God's people out of Egypt. He was their lawgiver, leader, shepherd and intercessor. He is a type of the Lord Jesus as the great apostle (see Heb. 3:1 6).

God used him to reveal His thoughts to His people.* Deuteronomy 18:15 calls him in that context a prophet. It is striking to see the various Scriptures which denote him as a special man of God:

{*Moses laid down the whole foundation on which the rest of the Scriptures have been built. In Luke 24, the Lord speaks about the writings of Moses as clearly distinguished from the prophets. The latter were used by God to bring the backsliding people back to Himself There is also a reference to the other Scriptures (sometimes under the collective name of "the Psalms"), where we find especially the experiences and feelings of the people of God, under God's discipline and restoration.}

DEUT. 33:1 — In blessing Israel in connection with the land and the purposes of God.

JOSHUA 14:6 — In expressing the value of the promised land to a true overcomer like Caleb.

PSALM 90 — In relation to the wilderness experiences after the people had rejected the promised land. (See the heading of the Psalm.)

EZRA 3:2 In revealing the thoughts of the God of Israel as to His altar and His burnt offerings.

1 CHR 23:14 — In his sons and descendants being named among the tribe of Levi and given a place in the service of the temple.

2 CHR 30:16 In the recovery under Hezekiah the priests and Levites "stood in their place . . . according to the law of Moses the man of God".*

{*In the first three references, the main thought is God's promised land. According to Moses' example, a man of God today is occupied with the things which are of special interest to God's own heart. The people of Israel despised the land of God's choice: likewise, many Christians today have often no idea of our heavenly, spiritual and eternal blessings, which belong to our heavenly calling and position in and with Christ in heaven. In the next three passages the leading thought is recovery and restoration, although only a small remnant was brought back from the Babylonian captivity. Ezra, Nehemiah and the books of Chronicles were written from the perspective of God's sovereign grace, in order to realise a restoration with regard to the things He had given earlier, connected with the man after His own heart.}

CONCLUSION

What does God expect from a "man of God" today?

- To be occupied with the things which are of special interest to His own heart. As Moses valued God's promised land in spite of the indifference of Israel, so we must value our heavenly blessings, calling, and position in spite of the general indifference of Christendom.

- To seek recovery and restoration among God's people in accordance with God's principles. As God's sovereign grace restored things through "men of God" after His own heart in the history of Israel, so it would restore things in our present day of ruin through such "men of God" men who maintain divine principles in a spirit of grace rather than one of legality and formalism.

- To love the One who is the very Centre of everything in God's world . . . to centre all our thoughts and actions around the true Man of God, His beloved, our Lord Jesus Christ.

Alfred E. Bouter.

(An article by the same author on "A Man of God in Our Day" is to follow in the next issue, if the Lord will).

The Life of David (2)

David's Army. 1 Chronicles 12:8 40

A king without a throne has no authority. A king without an army has no power. David, the man after God's own heart, was anointed king over Israel by Samuel the prophet of God (1 Sam. 16:13). He was unable to occupy the throne of Israel because Saul, the rejected king, sat on it. Saul had been rejected by God because he had been disobedient (1 Sam. 15:129). Because of Saul's unjust enmity towards him David had to leave the king's presence and instead of sitting on Israel's throne he lived in a stronghold in a wilderness (1 Chron. 12:8). It was in that situation that David began to gather to himself an army, an army that eventually enabled him to gain the throne of Israel. David, the attractive young man, the conqueror of Goliath, the victor over the Philistines, was the gathering centre of his army. They separated themselves to him (v. 8), they came to him (v. 16, 22, 23), they were with him (v. 39), and they professed "Thine are we David" (v. 18). All this teaches a very solemn, yet encouraging, lesson for our day. Jesus, God's anointed King, is not occupying His regal throne and ruling over the world (Ps. 2:6; Luke 1:30-33; John 19:17-22). His rights are refused and usurped by rebellious and disobedient men who are energised by Satan, the arch enemy of Christ. The Lord Jesus was and is rejected by this world. However, He is the gathering centre for many who love Him and are prepared to uphold His rights in their lives whatever is against Him and them. Willingly they have fellowship in His sufferings and as good soldiers of Jesus Christ they patiently wait the day of Christ's manifestation when those who suffer with Him now will share in His glory.

Jesus, the rightful King of Israel, was rejected by Israel and crucified. God raised Him from the dead and exalted Him to His right hand. In that glorious place He is crowned with glory and honour, as Hebrews 2:9 tells us. He received the victor's crown. In Revelation 19:11-16 where Jesus is depicted coming in power and glory He has on His head many crowns, the emblem of kingly or imperial dignity.*

{*The word for "crowned" in Hebrews 2:9 is stephanoo and in Revelation 19:12 it is diadeema. This shows the accuracy of Scripture. Jesus is King, but He is not yet reigning. See W. E. Vine's Dictionary of Greek Words.}

David's army was not a motley, indisciplined rabble. On the contrary they present a most interesting collection of warriors and a consideration of them will supply important truths for our edification.

Separated and Committed

The Gadites, courageous men of war, separated themselves to David (1 Chr. 12:8-15). The children of Benjamin and Judah committed themselves to David, "Thine are we, David, and on they side, thou son of Jesse" (v. 16-18). T o be separated to David meant separation to him and his interests and separation from Saul and his interests. A very serious and deliberate decision to make. To be committed to David meant the acknowledgement of his complete control over them. These two features are indispensable for an army. Soldiers who have no interests but those of their commander in chief, and who are loyal to his commands, constitute an army that will be formidable in battle. Transfer these principles to believers who follow the Lord Jesus and they present encouragement and also a challenge. When believers in Jesus, the Son of God, were baptised in the early days of the church, they virtually said "If we are Jews we are finished with all that is connected with the synagogue. If we are Gentiles we are finished with all that is connected with pagan myth and idolatry. We are baptised to Christ and desire to live for His interests solely". What was true then is true today. Every baptised person is responsible to rightly support the interests of Christ. Such soldiers of Christ should have no entanglements (2 Tim. 2:4). How many interests interfere with Christ's interests? Too many, perhaps. Separation to Christ is a great honour and privilege. It is also a great and solemn challenge. To confess Jesus Christ as Lord brings salvation to the confessor but it also brings a very great responsibility. When Jesus is confessed as Lord it means that He alone has authority over us and there are no other lords to whom we give our loyalty. He is our "One Lord" (Eph. 4:5; 1 Cor. 8:5, 6). How many loyalties interfere with loyalty to Christ? How much better to be positive soldiers of Christ and in single minded separation and loyalty to Him to serve Him as enabled by the Holy Spirit and in obedience to the Word of God. This will involve our time and talents and bring testings and trials but will earn the Commander's thanks. "Well done, good and faithful soldiers".

Why Fight for David?

History abounds with reasons for warfare. Some wars were waged in order to gain increased power and territory. Others were fought to stop aggressors and evil tyranny. While some nations fought from the urge to kill and plunder, David's army had a cause and it was both good and uncomplicated. The cause was to make David the undisputed king over Israel.

As far as God was concerned Saul was rejected from his kingly position and another, better than him, was chosen to be king (1 Sam. 15:23, 28). That word was final and irrevocable. David's soldiers were in accordance with God's will and sought to make it a reality. Saul had proved incompetent and disobedient. David had justified God's choice. It would be difficult to avoid the teaching of verse 23. The flesh is incapable of pleasing God (Rom. 8:7, 8). Christ is the delight of God's heart (Matt. 3:17; Matt. 12:18). If David's soldiers enlisted to transfer the kingdom from Saul to David, Christians should be concerned to be in line with God's declared will. In Romans 6:6 the old man, the man incapable of pleasing God, has been crucified with Christ. And, according to Romans 8:3, God, in sending His own Son to be a sacrifice for sin, has condemned sin in the flesh. God has completely rejected the old man and his practices in the death of His beloved Son. The Christian, because of the death, resurrection and ascension of Christ and the descent of the Holy Spirit, is, in the sight of God, no longer under the influence and power of the old man and his ways. In Romans 8:14 he is viewed in relation to God's Man, Christ Jesus. He is in Christ Jesus, a new position, no longer in the flesh (Rom. 8:9). He has a new power, the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus. He has a new practice, the righteous requirement of the law is fulfilled in him in the Spirit's power. But soldiers are engaged in conflict and Galatians 5:16-26 is a passage that indicates the kind of conflict a Christian wages against the flesh in the power of the Spirit of God. Who is going to be paramount in our lives? Christ, God's Man, or the man after the flesh whom God has condemned in the death of Christ? A great challenge and one that faces us each day of our lives. How wonderful it would be if all believers in Christ could imitate Paul and say that they are crucified with Christ and Christ lives in them. The cause in our lives will determine the course it takes.

There were those who were expressed by name, to come and make David king (1 Chr. 12:31). Using a well known term "they stood up to be counted", and there were eighteen thousand of them. That was a dangerous and courageous decision for the half tribe of Manasseh to make. If David's bid for the throne failed they could expect Saul's anger to fall upon them. But these loyal soldiers didn't reason that way. Their lives were at the disposal of David and his interests and all and sundry could take account of it. Are our names known to be connected with Christ and His interests? Are we known as practicing Christians to our neighbours, fellow workers, school friends and relatives? The challenge to stand up and be counted is an ongoing one. "The disciples were first called Christians in Antioch" (Acts 11:26). Are we known as Christians in the place where we live?

Verse 38 presents a heart impulse in joining David's army. "All these men of war, that could keep rank, came with a perfect heart to Hebron, to make David king over all Israel: and all the rest also of Israel were of one heart to make David king". These soldiers had a perfect heart (no other object) and a united heart (one will and motive) to make David king over all Israel. Outward order and discipline are extremely important in an army, but it's mettle and spirit are equally important. The undivided affections that motivated these soldiers on David's behalf contributed to the morale of his army. What a lesson for believers in our Lord Jesus Christ! If Christ's Headship of the body had been affectionately guarded and obeyed the appalling divisions and troubles that have afflicted the church would never have occurred. To love Christ is to keep His commandments (John 14:15). To love Christ is to care for His flock (John 21:15-17).

The Equipment of the Army

An army without the necessary equipment to wage war is an army destined for total defeat. David's soldiers were well prepared to fight for him. They had shields and spears; they were armed for war with weapons of war. They were fighters with fighters tools. David's soldiers had the necessary tools and were trained and ready to use them to make David supreme in Israel. Do Christians require armour and weapons? Yes, if they are going to be good soldiers of Jesus Christ (2 Tim. 2:3). The whole armour of God is available for all believers in Christ (Eph. 6:13-18). The armour is necessary, indeed is vital, to engage in the conflict with the unseen forces of Satanic evil. Without the whole armour of God believers in Christ are vulnerable to Satan's power and wiles. Every part of the armour must be put on. Any part that is left off exposes a part of the soldier which the fiery darts of Satan can pierce. The strongholds of the enemy are powerful but the Christians weapons, empowered by God, can topple them to the ground (2 Cor. 10:3-5). No Christian need be afraid of the powerful enemies of the faith. A good Roman believer uses his armour, as does a good Thessalonian believer (Rom. 13:12; 1 Thess. 5:8). Thank God for the abundant and reliable equipment that is available for Christians in their good warfare (1 Tim. 1:18). But do believers enter into the divine armoury and equip themselves to wage warfare? That is a serious problem. If the armour and weapons that are made available for Christians are lying rusty and unused it is certain that many casualties will occur in the daily conflict. Satan is always attacking the truth of Christianity, which involves the honour and glory of Christ. Christians properly clothed with truth and the Holy Spirit's power must be ready to defend and to attack as their great Commander directs. It is very sad and solemn to remember that there was a period in Israel's history when they had no weapons of war (1 Sam. 13:19-22). They had to rely on farm implements and axes to wage warfare with the powerful Philistines. Why was there this unpreparedness? Because for years there had been gross unfaithfulness in the nation. Sin leads to weakness and weakness leads to defeat and dishonour.

Soldiers of Christ, arise, and put your armour on,

Strong in the strength which God supplies through His eternal Son:

Strong in the Lord of Hosts, and in His mighty power,

Who in the strength of Jesus trusts, is more than conqueror.

C. Wesley (1707-88).

F. Wallace.

(The second part of this article will follow in the next issue, if the Lord will).

Enoch, or Walking with God

"And Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him" (Genesis 5:24).

Enoch's name means "initiated" or "taught one", and hence also "teacher". Through walking with God he obtained an insight into God's thoughts and plans, and this enabled him to teach others as well and to act as a prophet of God in an evil world. For we are expressly told in the epistle of Jude, that Enoch prophesied, namely about the coming of the Lord to judge all the ungodly (Jude 14, 15). Yes, God reveals His plans to His servants the prophets, as we read in the book of Amos: "He revealeth His secret unto His servants the prophets" (Amos 3:7). It is in God's heart to share His thoughts with His own, as we also see in the life of Abraham: "And the Lord said, Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do?" (Genesis 18:17).

But this requires true knowledge of God and a walk that is pleasing to Him. How can a sinful man, who is estranged from God, be brought into a position where he is, so to speak, close to His heart and is taught about His intimate secrets? This can only be realised by the new birth and the indwelling of the Spirit of God, which brings man into harmony with God. When we are born of God we know that God hides nothing from His dear children. So we read in 1 Corinthians 2, that it is by God's indwelling Spirit, and the inspired Word, that we know God's intimate thoughts, His plans of love. Just as it is written, "Things which eye has not seen, and ear not heard, and which have not come into man's heart, which God has prepared for them that love Him" (v.9).

This is our present privilege as children of God, while we live in a world that is without God and without hope. Do we know this fellowship, this sweet communion with Him? Do we grow in the knowledge of Him and of His plans and counsels? Let us examine ourselves whether we truly walk with God.

Walking with God was Adam's privilege in the garden of Eden, but it was forfeited by man's fall. God walked in the garden in the cool of the day, but after the fall Adam and Eve hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God. However, it was at any rate enjoyed by Enoch who was taken up from this scene, and also by Noah who was brought safely through the water to reach a new world (Genesis 5:22, 24; Genesis 6:9; cf. Psalm 25:14, "The secret of the Lord is with them that fear Him"). Enoch's rapture from the earth after many years of walking with God is typical of the rapture of the church, while Noah is a type of the believing remnant of Israel that will have to pass through the "waters" of the Great Tribulation.

We as Christians acquire knowledge of God by His own revelation, the Spirit-breathed Word. We learn to know Him as our God and Father through the Lord Jesus Christ. By the Word of God we also acquire knowledge of ourselves, both of our natural condition and of our standing in Christ. We are complete in Him, in the Beloved. We also learn God's thoughts about the world in its present condition — under the rule of the prince of this world, as well as in its future condition under the rule of Christ. And we are taught as to our future portion with Christ, His coming for His own, the rapture of the saints and their introduction into the glory of the Father's house. We also learn about our role in the millennium, when we will rule with Christ over the earth after His appearing in glory and power. But we have to walk with God and only on this condition can we have an understanding of these matters.

The turning point in Enoch's life seems to have been the birth of his own son. "And Enoch walked with God after he begat Methuselah three hundred years" (Genesis 5:22). Perhaps he was impressed with God's majesty as the mighty Creator. The goodness and blessing of God which he experienced in his own family, led him to repentance and a real walk with God. Then he persevered in walking with God, during three hundred years — an enormous span of time. Perhaps I may venture to say that there was not a day in all those many years that Enoch left God's side and refused to walk with Him. When we grow older, and have walked a good many years with the Lord, we tend to turn away from Him and follow our own ways (cf the life of king Solomon, who served strange gods when he grew old). But Enoch clung to the Lord, like Elisha clung to Elijah, and Ruth clung to Naomi. His long life ended in a glorious way, in that he was suddenly taken up. We as Christians have the same bright future.

Now I want to look with you at three aspects of Enoch's life being three important consequences of a walk with God:

1. As to ourselves, we learn from Enoch that we can walk in happy fellowship with God, in sweet communion with His Son. We will be blessed in the presence of the Lord, while waiting for His return from heaven to take us up and to receive us into glory (1 Thessalonians 1:9, 10; 1 Thessalonians 4:15, 18). Yes, we have this blessed hope that we will not see death, but will be taken up, will be translated from this earth, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, to meet the Lord in the air (cf 1 Corinthians 15:22). In Genesis 5 the end of Enoch's life on earth stands in contrast with all the others, of whom it is repeated over and over again, "And he died". In the same way we as believers will be the great exception in this world, which is still subject to death and corruption. When "we which are alive, and remain unto the coming of the Lord," we will not see death but will be taken up to meet the Lord in the air, and thus we shall always be with Him. In the meantime He will bless us in His presence. While we walk with Him through the barren wilderness, we also stand as priests in His presence in the sanctuary (Deuteronomy 10:8), and even recline like John on Jesus' breast in the upper room (John 13:23).

2. Our walk will please the Lord, for a walk with Him will be according to His will and His thoughts. In this way God will find practically His good pleasure in His sons (Ephesians 1:5). Christ Himself is our perfect Model in this respect, for God was well-pleased in Him (Matthew 3:17). In the Septuagint (quoted in Hebrews 11:5) the words that Enoch walked with God, are rendered that he was pleasing to God. Enoch's life contrasted sharply with that of people in the line of Cain, who went out from the presence of the Lord and refused to walk with God (cf. Genesis 4:16, 17). A very important feature of such a walk with God is that it is a life of faith, for "without faith it is impossible to please Him" (Hebrews 11:6). We have been justified by faith, and so we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 5:1). But then as Christians we should continue to live by faith, for the righteous one shall live by faith — not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7; Hebrews 10:38).

3. We will be witnesses to the world, namely of things to come, of the coming judgment over this world, and also over the religious world, nominal Christendom (Jude 14, 15). We will warn the world through preaching the gospel, knowing the terror of the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:11). We who live in the end time — will prophesy, just as Enoch did long ago in the seventh generation from Adam, "Behold, the Lord has come amidst His holy myriads, to execute judgment against all". For He is ready to come and to execute judgment upon all: both upon an unbelieving and rebellious world, and upon apostate Christendom. Then He will introduce true righteousness, peace and happiness on earth.

So let us walk with God, while waiting for His Son from heaven, and witnessing for His Name in this evil world.

H. Bouter Jnr.

The Armour of God

(continued from page 191)

Let us now consider the various pieces of the armour. In Ephesians 5:14 we read:

"Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth."

A good beginning is to gather together a few Scriptures in relation to the loins. "Gird up now thy loins like a man", God said to Job, twice, and to others also. Elijah girded up his loins and ran before Ahab (1 Kings 18:46). There are many other references, Behemoth for example, the dinosaur. We hear a lot about dinosaurs today, well, "his strength is in his loins" (Job 40:16). But the same word precisely is used of the woman of worth (Proverbs 31:17). We don't seem to hear so much about her, perhaps. She girdeth her loins with strength. There are also other references but taken together they certainly confirm what we have always heard that the loins are the seat of strength. There is other teaching also. The loins are connected with the mind. "Gird up the loins of your mind" (1 Peter 1:13). Levi was also in the loins of Abraham (Heb. 7:5), and other references, seem to connect the loins with fruitfulness. These are a few thoughts in relation to the loins, although there is more. Our Scripture now tells us "having your loins girt about with truth". What is truth? Thy Word is truth (John 17:17). The Spirit is truth (1 John 6:6). The Lord Jesus is the truth (John 14:6). We seem to have here what the Old Testament plainly speaks of as "truth in the inward parts" (Ps. 51:6), or, in New Testament language, "the word . . . dwelling (in us) richly, in all wisdom" (Col. 3:16), or again "Christ dwelling in the heart by faith" (Eph. 3:17). We are all challenged by this, doubtless. Is the Word the source of all our strength, our thinking, our fruitfulness? The encouragement of our meditation is this, that when we turn our eyes to the Lord Jesus, at all times, it was so with Him perfectly. He did not live by bread alone but by every Word of God. God's Word was hid in His heart (Ps. 119:11). In the types, the tables of the law were hidden in the ark (Ex. 25:16). It is possible (and some have done it) to build up the whole life of the Lord Jesus from the Scriptures of the Old Testament, His birth, His pathway, His ministry, His death, His resurrection, His glory, His coming again. It is evident that the Scriptures were ever in His heart and on His lips. He referred to about 20 Old Testament characters and about 19 different books in His ministry and as we move on to the close we have not only the facts but the feelings of Jesus, expressed in the very words of Scripture. Indeed on the cross 3 of the 7 sayings of Jesus were Old Testament quotations and He died with Scripture on His lips (Ps. 31:5). Nor is it otherwise in resurrection. It is just the same. On the Emmaus road and in the upper room it was still "Moses, the prophets and the Psalms". In very truth we can say His loins were girt about with truth. We put on this piece of the armour when we walk in His steps. May we do so more and more!

The next words are:

"having on the breastplate of righteousness".

This is not the righteousness of God, before God, as Paul teaches us in Romans. This is practical righteousness when we stand before men. Righteousness, briefly, is what is right, but what is the standard? It is for this reason we spent so long at the beginning in opening up the teaching in Ephesians. The practical life that is looked for in this epistle manifests itself in the features of a heavenly man on earth, not doing dramatic things necessarily, as we have already seen, but bringing the ribband of blue, to use the Old Testament picture (Numbers 15:38), the heavenly colour, into all the relationships and activities of everyday life, the home life, the business life, our relations with one another, our relations with all men. Moreover, since here we have mention of a breastplate it supposes a defensive position when the enemy is looking for points to attack and if there are holes how he will exploit them! Think for a moment then of our blessed Lord in what may be called a battle scene, John 8. Here you will remember He was surrounded by religious leaders, bitter enemies. At the end of the chapter they took up stones to stone Him. Later as we all know, they engineered His death. Well, that is the scene in John 8 and our blessed Lord does not hesitate to unmask them. In a lengthened discourse He shows them their true character: "Ye are of your father the devil" (v. 44). The shaft struck right home, and the response was: "Say we not well that thou art a Samaritan and hast a devil" (v. 48). A tense situation indeed! How the enemy would have loved to find a hole in His armour at such a time. Could they? Certainly not! "Which of you convinceth Me of sin?" (v. 46). Does it not gladden your heart as it does mine that we have such a captain of our salvation? No weapon that was formed against Him could prosper and every tongue that rose against Him did He condemn (Isa. 54:17). It will be just the same in glory. When the heavenly warrior comes (Isa. 59:17) He will wear the breastplate of righteousness. "In righteousness will He judge and make war" (Rev. 19:11). But when He has cleared the scene in judgment (what judgment!) and all His enemies will be dust (Ps. 72:9). He will be justified when He speaks, and clear when He judges (Ps. 51:4). Each one, saint and sinner, will feel that their assigned position in that day will be perfectly just. Our blessed Lord wears and will still wear, the breastplate of righteousness. But what of ourselves? Victory is possible, as Paul shows us in 2 Cor. 6. In defending his apostleship (what a need there is today to defend that apostleship) he could speak of "the armour of righteousness on the right hand and on the left" (v. 7). A hole in the armour is disastrous as even Shakespeare notices "conscience doth make cowards of us all". But "the righteous (that is, those practically righteous) are as bold as a lion" (Prov. 28:1). The breastplate covers our vital organs and how we need it all the time!

The next part for our consideration concerns our feet.

"shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace".

Some beloved brethren say that this is a matter of preaching the gospel. Well, we trust nothing that is now written will discourage any true gospel preachers. "Preach the Word" says the Scripture (2 Tim. 4:2) and may the Lord Himself, the Lord of the harvest, thrust forth His labourers! But when we look a little more closely at this Scripture it would not seem to refer to the preaching of the gospel. Does it not rather speak of the peace which flows into the soul that stands in the good of the gospel of peace? This needs a little explanation. If you consult the dictionary (I mean the ordinary English dictionary) you will find that peace is defined as the absence of war. That is the highest to which dictionaries can reach. But if you read your Bible you get a different thought. Briefly stated, Bible peace is peace in the midst of war. This is very arresting. One could not imagine for a moment that our God is at all disturbed or caught unawares by any storm down here. God's throne is set in heaven and our God is a "God of peace", a description I think we find 6 times in the New Testament. This is what characterised the Lord Jesus in His holy pathway here. Again we must limit ourselves, because of space, but consider Him for a moment in those scenes that we so often ponder at the breaking of bread "when the darkness round did thicken". All Satan's power and more was about to be let loose upon Him, despised, betrayed, forsaken . . .! And what does He say? "Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth (notice, not like the dictionary definition). Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid" (John 14:27). He was not only enjoying peace Himself, He was spreading it abroad to others. It is the same in resurrection, the Lord out of death, and commissioning His own "to be for Him where He had been". Characteristically His word to them as He stands in the midst is, "Peace". And why? "In the world ye shall have tribulation, but be of good cheer ("peace") I have overcome the world" John 16:33. It is abundantly clear from many other Scriptures that our pathway in this world will not be an easy one — suffering, reproach, the cross. "We must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God" (Acts 14:22). But what our Scripture is teaching us is that there is One who delights to stand alongside and breathe peace into our souls and not only into us, but that we should radiate that peace to others. I was very interested in pursuing this study to discover that the Roman soldier (from whom this imagery is taken) had hob nails in his sandals. In other words his sandals gave him a good grip of the ground on which he was standing. I think this is very attractive. We are to have a good grip of our standing in Christ and then we can begin to become helpful to others. We shall be able to bring peace into the situations that we meet, and that is what this Scripture supposes you and I are to do in the midst of some of the many problems that crop up in the present evil day.

Before we move on to the next piece of armour we do well to notice that the first three pieces of the armour seem to stand together — truth, righteousness and peace. Moreover there seems to be a moral order in it. Although the section begins with the word "stand" (v. 11 and v. 13), truth and righteousness precede the consideration of the feet. We cannot adopt a peaceful stance unless first we are established and grounded in truth and righteousness! We now come to a new series of three (v. 16) and the opening word "above all" is translated "besides" or "in addition" in other translations, so we seem justified in regarding the first three as basic matters. Above all then take

"the shield of faith".

In the original language there were two words used for shield. There is the smaller round shield which was used in individual combat but then there is the big shield, either oblong or rectangular. The word here bears resemblance to the word for a door. The Scripture therefore becomes clearer. If you are hiding behind a door you are in a pretty safe situation. But further, if you put down your shield in front of you and the man next to you puts down his shield in front of him and so on and so on, you have a wall, quite an impregnable position. That seems to be the picture here. Now we notice, "Wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked". They are fiery darts, notice, not just darts, but fiery darts. Fire in Scripture often sets forth God in the figure of judgment, "our God is a consuming fire" (Heb. 12:29).

The very worst thing that can happen to any one of us is to allow the enemy to introduce any doubt into our minds as to the love of God which is behind ALL His dealings with us. Let Scripture explain. You will recall the case of Job, that worthy patriarch, "perfect and upright, one that feared God, and eschewed evil". Satan was allowed to tempt him. He lost his possessions, he lost his family, he lost his health. His was an extreme case doubtless, worse to be sure than most of us. But then the enemy shot a fiery dart at him. It was his wife in Job's case, and this gives one to notice that although we wrestle not with flesh and blood (Eph. 6:12) nevertheless sometimes the enemy uses flesh and blood when he attacks us. Well, his wife said to Job "Curse God and die". That was a cruel thrust; but Job, using our present Scripture, met that thrust with the shield of faith "What? shall we receive good at the hand of God and shall we not receive evil?" (Job 2:9-10) and the fiery dart fell to the ground. But we can also think for a moment of an assembly situation, not an individual now but a company. Think of the Thessalonians. They were having an awful time, persecuted, maligned and experiencing suffering such as the church of God has oft times endured and which some of our beloved brethren are proving at the present time. The enemy took advantage of the situation to shoot a fiery dart — "it is the day of the Lord" he said (2 Thess. 2:2). Not at all says the apostle, don't you remember when we were with you we told you "We should suffer tribulation — we are appointed there unto" (1 Thess. 3:34). They were not to go through THE tribulation, they were to be raptured, a communication clothed with all authority, "the Word of the Lord" (1 Thess. 4:15). Thessalonians, put up the shields! Stand firm! All this is rather more practical than some realise. In Hebrews 12 when the saints were suffering, chastened, rebuked, scourged, is it not remarkable and very beautiful, that the Spirit of God changes the description from God to Father. I forget how many references there are to God in Hebrews but it is many, but when you come to this very practical chapter how tenderly the apostle (and the Spirit) deals with the very real sufferings of the saints. He speaks of the Father, precious reminder of a love and care that is unchanging. This is precisely what we see with our blessed Lord. His whole life of course was lived in the "calm unclouded enjoyment of the Father's love" but when the final crisis came, in the garden, with all the mighty issues of the cross (ponder it, my soul) from whom did He receive the cup? From the devil? Certainly not! "The cup which My Father giveth Me, shall I not drink it?" What a moment that was "Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me. Nevertheless, not My will but Thine be done". What a model for us. Oh for grace to walk more closely in His steps and to take to ourselves the shield of faith!

And now,

"the helmet of Salvation".

Well, certainly we all need a helmet, all of us. The helmet protects the head. The enemy is making great attacks today upon our heads, our thinking. What an array there is of false teaching, false prophets, false cults, let alone the tireless energy and volume of the media, from morn till night. It reminds us of Jeremiah's day. He was at the close of God's dealings with Israel just before the deportation. He had more to do with false prophets I suppose than any other but he certainly wore his helmet! There are about 359 references to the phrase "thus saith the Lord" in the Old Testament (so I am told) and about 157 are found in Jeremiah! He knew what it was to "eat" God's Word (Jer. 15:16). This helmet in Eph. 6 is a very interesting helmet. It keeps the head cool! Most helmets make your head hot; this helmet enables you to have cool clear thinking even in the heat of battle. Another feature about this helmet is that it ensures that you hold up your head when engaged in conflict. If you don't hold up your head your helmet will fall off! Perhaps that is why in Thessalonians the helmet is described as the hope of salvation (1 Thess. 5:8). It is a most comforting and sustaining thought that very shortly the whole battle will be over so the conflict won't be long. Naturally we would now like to know why the Lord Jesus also is pictured with a helmet, as we have it in Isaiah 59:17. I am indebted to another for a thought which to me sounds very attractive. The suggestion is that the sight of that helmet would strike terror into the hearts of the enemy. The imagery here is Roman and it is not difficult to imagine that any forces confronted by a band of Roman soldiers might very well be saying to themselves — "Well, there aren't many soldiers here but they are Roman soldiers, and that means that all the power of Rome is behind them. Perhaps we had better send an embassage and desire conditions of peace!" (Luke 14:32). And what of when the rider comes on the white horse (Rev. 19:11)? The Kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men . . . and every bond man and every free man will hide themselves in the dens and in the mountains . . . terror indeed . . . fall on us, and hide us from the face of Him that sitteth upon the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb. In that day we shall ride also, following this rider (Rev. 19:14) but at the present time it is our privilege now to take the helmet of salvation. Very likely the adversaries are more afraid of us (and our Lord) than we are of them. Let us look up!

And now we come to

"the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God."

This also, need it be said, is a most attractive weapon, especially when we view it in relation to the Lord. Again, in the original language, we take account of two words for sword. In Rev. 19:15 a sharp sword goes out of His mouth. This is a great sword, may we say, like a Scottish broad sword, an enormous weapon. When the Lord wields this (and even His arrows are sharp in the heart of the kings enemies. Ps. 45:5), the slain of the Lord shall be many, and Balaam's prophesy will be fulfilled (Numbers 24:23), "Alas, who shall live when God doeth this". But the sword we have in Eph. 6:17 is a short sword for hand to hand encounter with the enemy. How forcible are right words (Job 6:25), the right word, at the right time, delivered in the right spirit, that is, a word coming forth from His presence. Alas too often we feel, minutes after a contact, if only I had this right word, (that is, the word that now comes to remembrance!), I could have met that situation! Well, happily, our business now is to look for encouragement and it is not far to seek. When David met Goliath (1 Sam. 17) he only took 5 stones out of the brook. Doubtless they were all well washed in water, smooth, carefully chosen, perhaps bringing David on to his knees to find them. But those five stones were all that were needed, one for Goliath now, and four for Goliath's brother later (2 Sam. 21:22). When we think of the Lord Jesus many examples could be quoted. I mention only one, a very attractive one in Matt. 22. You remember the occasion, the Lord was surrounded by Pharisees, Sadducees and Herodians, seeking to catch Him in His words. They brought their questions and He answered them, but then He put His question "What think ye of Christ? Whose Son is He?" They marvelled and it wasn't the only occasion that men marvelled at Him! Never man spake like this Man (John 7:46)! Well at the close of Matt. 22:46 no man was able to answer Him a word, neither durst any man from that day forth ask Him any more questions. The Lord Jesus knew how to use the short sword also.

These then are the six pieces of the armour. Opinions differ as to the seventh. Some say prayer is not part of the armour. Bunyan, not so, speaks of the "weapon of all prayer". One thing is certain, none of the other pieces are of any value apart from prayer, real dependence upon God. You may remember Goliath wore greaves of brass upon his legs. The greaves protected the legs from the knees to the ankles. Goliath needed them because he was standing up. The dependent soul doesn't need them because he is kneeling down. How beautifully the Lord Jesus exhibits this feature. "Preserve Me O God for in Thee do I put My trust" (Psalm 16:1). How many times in Luke's gospel, where we find the perfect manhood of the Lord, do we find Him in prayer, sometimes all night in prayer. What a model for us. Help Lord! But before we leave this section could we notice how solemn and imperative is the appeal to prayer in verses 18 and 19. Men ought always to pray, as our Lord taught us (Luke 18:1), everywhere (1 Tim. 2:8), for all men (1 Tim. 2:1), for everything (Phil. 4:6). All this, without ceasing (1 Thess. 5:17). I am not aware that anywhere in the whole Bible is there so solemn and serious an appeal to pray as is found here. It is not only prayer, but also supplication, and the subject is all saints. There are many examples of prayer and intercession in both the O.T. and N.T. but to repeat, subject to correction, I am not aware that anywhere in the whole of the Bible is there so solemn and serious an appeal to prayer as is found here. How relevant this is in Laodicean days. In Laodicea there is need of nothing and hence there is no prayer. May the Lord graciously keep us prayerful. And perhaps we should notice here, before we close, that the apostle also solicits the saints' prayers and in a very specific way for himself. He values the prayers of the saints manifestly but what concerns him here is not what he says but how — "that I may open my mouth boldly". This is utterance of a Divine sort and a voice that will be heard.

This then is the armour, Divinely provided, exemplified in Jesus and it is armour for us to put on. This, and this alone, will enable us to stand and withstand in the evil day. We cannot withstand the enemy ourselves. What folly to try! But the great Captain of our salvation has met him and defeated him and as we are occupied with Him, keeping close to Him, feeding on Him, He will give us the victory and He does.

This paper is not complete however without one more word. Life happily is NOT all battle. There is conflict, in dead earnest too at times, but not always. And at the close of this wonderful epistle the apostle retreats from the battle, if we may so say, to enjoy the "home of the heart". That home is LOVE and in these closing verses there are four references to love. In v. 21 we have Tychicus, a beloved brother. He is faithful too of course but love is mentioned first. And what is he going to do? He will let you know my affairs and how I do. Evidently the apostle could count on the loving interest of the Ephesians in himself, Paul. In these two references we have love on what we might call the horizontal level. In v. 23 we come to the perpendicular "Peace be to the brethren, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Then in v. 24 "Grace be with all them that love our Lord Jesus in sincerity". Perhaps most of us know that Ephesians is really an epistle of love (about 14 times) — an attractive subject in itself. Very shortly every family in heaven and upon earth will be touched by that love — the love of Christ which passeth knowledge (Eph. 3:19). The Lord is looking for hearts to be touched by that love today, here and now. May our meditations make Him increasingly precious to every one of us as we look for His sure and certain soon return. "Grace be with all them that love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity" v. 24.

Amen.

D.W.P.

From Our Archive

"The Morning Star"

Christ Our Hope

(Continued from page 210)

Let us then return to consider the question and answer on which the Lord based the first intimation to His disciples of that which He, as a Builder, was about to do. His first care was to draw, from them all, the confession of what He was, and especially of what He was to GOD. His words were, "whom say ye that I am?" Peter, who answered, had still to learn that what he said was a direct revelation from above, "flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but MY FATHER which is in heaven". The truth embodied in the answer was new to them all: "Thou art the Christ, the SON OF THE LIVING GOD". What could be clearer than, as above remarked, that the heavenly source and character of the revelation centred round the Person of the eternal SON? What that means for the saints of this present economy of grace is unfolded in John's Gospel. The first message sent by the Lord to His disciples, after His resurrection, shows its effect, "My Father, and your Father;" and "My God, and your God." Sonship can only be truly known by us as manifested in the Person of the Son, and as the direct fruit of His death and resurrection (John 1:18; John 12:24; John 20:17). It is made good in our souls by the Holy Spirit (Gal. 4:6).

Furthermore, in considering the formation of the church as the house of God, we see that Christ keeps it in His own hands. He is the foundation, and He constructs it. Every individual believer has his place in it as a "living stone" (1 Peter 2:5, 6). The position given to each one, assigned by the Lord, is also maintained by Him in such sort that "the gates of hades shall not prevail against it". What a comfort it is to be assured that all the efforts and power of Satan are fruitless in the case of the Lord's church!

Peter, in his first epistle, treats of the church as a "spiritual house", in the Lord's keeping, and already in existence, so that worship and praise to God may go on in it, and service go out from it. In the epistle to the Hebrews we find the same figure of the "house"; and besides that, an allusion to the heavenly city "Jerusalem which is above" (see also Gal. 4:26). This was afterwards shown to the apostle John (Rev. 21). It is instructive to notice in all these passages the place that "sonship" has; and that is even carried on to the eternal state (Rev. 21:7).

Let us now refer briefly to another truth revealed to the apostle Paul that of the BODY of Christ. This was the mystery kept secret, "hid in God", and of which we find no indication in Old Testament times. The type of the "bride" was indeed seen in Eve and others (Eph. 5:31); but the figure of the body is different. In this case also, as we have already noticed, the sonship of Christ is prominent.

Paul was the first to preach Him as "the Son of God" (Acts 9:20). We have only to read carefully his epistles to see the effect of the apostle's call on his own soul. In writing to the Corinthians, especially as to church order, he begins with reminding them that they had been called by God into the "fellowship of His SON Jesus Christ our Lord". To the Galatians, who, through Judaising teaching, were in danger of losing this truth, he insists upon it in the most pointed way. (See Gal. 1:16; Gal. 3:26; Gal. 4:47, 28, 29.) And as if to bring home to their consciences what they were giving up, Paul associates with himself "all the brethren" (Gal. 1:2); for indeed the relationship with the Father was the common portion of them all, and by no means confined to any special leaders or labourers amongst them. As to himself he says, "It pleased God . . . to reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him among the heathen". In believers the Holy Spirit is called "The Spirit of His SON".

The great subject of the epistle to the Romans is the gospel from the particular point of view of God's righteousness revealed in it (Rom. 1:16, 17). Yet the opening verses declare that the subject of it is the SON (v. 3); and in Him, and His redeeming work, the love, righteousness, and glory of God are inseparable (Rom. 3:21; Rom. 5:2, 5). God's glory is our "hope", as soon as justification is known, and sonship in its final character and manifestation in glory is largely developed in Romans 8, as well as that personal witness of the Holy Spirit "with our spirit" which makes it effectual in every believer's soul. The end and aim of it is the glory of the SON, that he may be "the firstborn among many brethren" (v. 29).

The epistle to the Ephesians which unfolds the "mystery" of the "body of Christ", subject to the Head in heaven, also opens with this blessed truth of relationship with the Father, who has chosen us in His SON "before the foundation of the world", and "marked us out beforehand for adoption through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will".

In Colossians, we are called to give thanks to the Father, "who has delivered us from the authority of darkness, and translated us into the kingdom of the SON of His love" (Col. 1:12-13).

This truth of sonship so characterised the apostle's early preaching, that in the case of the Thessalonians everybody was speaking of how they had "turned to God from idols, to serve the living and true God; and to wait for HIS SON from heaven . . ." (1 Thess. 1:10). The Lord grant that, with a deepened sense of this blessed relationship, such waiting and watching may become more vivid and habitual with each one of us!

William Joseph Lowe (1838-1927)

(To be continued, if the Lord will.)

News from the Field

NIGERIA

Area: 924,000 sq km

Population: 92,000,000 (Africa's most populous state)

Capital: Lagos, est. 5,000,000

In the 1920s brethren from Jamaica came for employment and began breaking bread in Lagos and other towns, notably Ibadan. J. A. Whitbourne, Noel Moss and P. S. Browning were instrumental in this. In 1948 W. G. Houghton settled in Nigeria and visited various regions and met numerous believers. In the late 50s through to 1967 the Swiss brother G. Hausamann visited Lagos to encourage the believers there. Later the troubles that afflicted Nigeria caused many to be scattered.

The brethren in America and Germany continued to send a very great deal of evangelistic material. Considerable correspondence resulted. In 1979 brothers Baseler and Redekop visited Kaduna and other towns. These visits have been used of the Lord to establish more firmly contacts and links with those seeking to go on with the Lord. Others have visited more recently with happy consequences. From Mushin, Lagos, has come the following from a brother who is labouring to bring the truths of Scripture to his fellow countrymen. He is one of a number of gifted servants of Christ. His understanding of the doctrine regarding the assembly is both instructive and exemplary. May the Lord help us all to appreciate these things better and to walk in His ways.

CHRISTIANS WHO MEET ON THE BASIS OF MATTHEW 18:20.

"for where two or three are gathered together in My Name, there am I in the midst of them".

These are Christians who have sought to be identified with the worthy and preeminent Name of the Lord Jesus Christ. They meet solely in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ as the divine gathering centre. They refuse as unscriptural, all denominational names, and all systems of human devising for church order. Believing that the assembly is one body, composed of all believers, they refuse to assume any name that is not common to all the people of God, and therefore prefer the simple title of "Christians", "brethren", "saints", etc., which apply to all the children of God.

They believe in the absolute and perfect inspiration of the Bible, which they hold to be, not in name only, but in reality, the Word of God (2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 3:16).

Being convinced of the absolute authority of God's Word and of the completeness of its teachings, these Christians believe in the unity of "the church of the living God", which is "the pillar and ground of the truth" (1 Timothy 3:15).

They believe that the one true church of God was formed on earth by the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost and embraces all who are children of God by faith in Christ Jesus, as all believers are sanctified and baptized into the body of Christ by the Holy Spirit (Acts 2; 1 Peter 1:2; 1 Corinthians 12:13).

They believe that the body of Christ is therefore a living organism made up of many members united in an unbreakable union (Romans 12:4-5; Ephesians 4:1-16).

Because these Scriptures and others teach that God Himself has constituted this organism from the beginning they seek to act upon it by meeting simply as members of the body of Christ.

THEY HAVE SOUGHT TO RETURN TO NEW TESTAMENT PRACTICES

and not to form a denomination or ecclesiastical organisation. In fact, many of them have purged themselves from such affiliations to be gathered unto Christ outside the camp bearing His reproach and to give clear expression to this precious truth of the one body (Hebrews 13:13).

They stress that all who have repented and believed the gospel are their brothers and sisters in Christ, and fellow-members of the one body. In as much as the incoming of sectarianism and denominationalism in Corinth was described as carnality by the apostle Paul and was therefore condemned outrightly, these Christians have humbled themselves to heed the appeal of the apostle Paul in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, not to be part of any schisms in Christendom (1 Cor. 1:10-13; 1 Cor. 3:15).

They would therefore love to see all Christians likewise meeting in this simple fashion, giving pre-eminence to the only Head of the body, Our Lord Jesus Christ (Colossians 1:18). In their local assemblies, they endeavour to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Ephesians 4:13) by recognising all other assemblies who likewise seek to gather simply to the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ on the ground of the one body.

They believe in the presence, leadership and guidance of the Holy Spirit in the assembly (John 14:16-17, 26; John 16:13-14). Thankfully recognising that they have been made worshippers and given the dignity of priests they desire to give Him complete liberty in their meetings to use whomsoever He wills as His mouthpiece in prayer, praise and in exhortation (1 Peter 2:5, 9; Rev. 1:6). Understanding that all believers have spiritual gifts given by God, they seek to provide opportunity for the use of these gifts under the guidance of the Holy Spirit for the glory of God (Rom. 12:58; Eph. 4:7-11; 1 Peter 4:10-11).

If one called by the Lord gives his life to the ministry of the Word or some other service, he goes in his work with the approval and fellowship of his local assembly (Acts 13:13; 14:26).

This does not suppress his personal responsibility to the Lord as he walks by faith. He remains subject as is every brother and sister to the care and discipline of the assembly.

LOCAL ASSEMBLY RESPONSIBILITIES

They believe that each local assembly has the responsibility to maintain the holiness of God's house in dependence upon God (Psalm 93:5; 1 Cor. 5:11-13). This includes a concern and care for one another, as well as giving warning, comfort and support as needed (1 Thess. 5:14). It also includes the putting away of those whose walk or doctrine become evil and the restoration of such when they repent (1 Cor. 5:9-13; 2 John 9-11; 2 Cor. 2:5-11).

They believe that each assembly is a local representation of the whole body and recognise its actions in the Name of the Lord and according to the Word of God as authoritative and binding everywhere (Matthew 18:18).

They believe that Scripture teaches that sisters are to be silent in the meetings of the assembly and that they cover their heads in symbolic recognition of the headship of the man and that the Lord's leadership and glory are to be displayed in the assembly (1 Cor. 14:34-35; 1 Cor. 11:3 13; 1 Timothy 2:8-12).

According to Acts 2:42, they have meetings for the ministry of the Word, the breaking of bread and worship, and prayer.

They seek to give attendance to reading, to exhortation, and to doctrine. Therefore they read from the Word of God and allow the Holy Spirit to give the sense of the reading through whomsoever He wills (1 Tim. 4:13; Neh. 8:8).

ON THE LORD'S DAY

The Lord Jesus Christ instituted the Lord's supper shortly before His death and solemnly charged His disciples to partake of the bread and wine in remembrance of Himself. It was further revealed to Paul that "As often as ye shall eat this bread, and drink the cup, ye announce the death of the Lord, until He come" (1 Corinthians 11:26 JND translation).

Therefore these Christians have sought to steadfastly continue in the breaking of bread in remembrance of the Lord Jesus Christ every Lord's Day as practiced in the early church among the disciples: "And the first day of the week, we being assembled to break bread" (Acts 20:7(a) JND).

Therefore, if you enter the modest meeting place of Christians gathered to the Lord's Name on a Lord's day morning you will see them gathered around a table upon which is a loaf of bread and cup of wine. The bread symbolises the body of Christ which was given for us, and the cup symbolises His blood which was shed for us (1 Corinthians 11:23-25). This is the only prominent feature, for there is no presiding clergyman, elder or human being in charge.

If you ask who will dispense the bread and the cup, you will be told that any brother in good standing in the assembly may do so. In this meeting, the believers function as "an holy priesthood" to bring praise and worship to the Lord and to remember Him in His death and offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ (1 Peter 2:5).

A brother may minister the Word of God after the observance of the Lord's supper or at a separate meeting at a convenient time during the day.

RECEPTION TO THE LORD'S TABLE

These Christians desire to joyfully receive for the breaking of bread all believers who desire to walk in godliness and truth according to God's Word (Acts 2:41-42).

This reception is to all privileges and responsibilities of assembly life and fellowship. Such believers are received as members of the body of Christ, not as "members of our church" since all Christians become part of the one true church at conversion, and any further membership is unnecessary and divisive (Acts 2:47b).

Reception to the privilege of partaking in the Lord's supper, is not to an "open" or a "closed" communion, but to a "guarded" table of the Lord in responsibility to the Holy character of Him whose death is commemorated.

They believe that those who partake of the Lord's Supper express in this way their remembrance of the Lord. In this act they also partake of the Lord's table, thereby expressing their fellowship and oneness with all others partaking with them of the bread and the cup (1 Cor. 10:14-22).

Having the understanding of these truths, therefore requires partakers to individually examine themselves before partaking of the Lord's Supper, lest they do so unworthily and bring dishonour upon the Lord Jesus whom they are remembering (1 Corinthians 11:27-34).

Partakers also are to individually partake only in assemblies which meet on the ground of the one body, and not on denominational or independent ground. The desire of those who participate in such assemblies is to do so in accordance with the truth of the one body of Christ, whether in their home assembly or when visiting other places.

While rejecting any suggestion that the tables of professing Christian congregations are tables of demons, they fully accept the principle of association taught in 1 Corinthians 10:18, 20-21, and therefore desire to partake of the Lord's Supper only where the unity of the body of Christ and the holiness of God's house are understood and accepted.

ACCOMPLISHED REDEMPTION

These Christians have no uncertain belief in the doctrines as unfolded in the Scriptures:

The fall and absolute ruin of man, his guilty, lost and helpless condition; the utter worthlessness of works, lawkeeping or reformation as a ground of salvation; the amazing love of God in providing a Saviour in His blessed Son; the spotless perfection of Christ, both in His Divine nature and His true humanity; reconciliation by the shed blood of Christ on the Cross, by which alone redemption has been accomplished; His resurrection as the proof of God's acceptance of that atonement.

There is, therefore, no other Name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved except the Name of the risen Christ, for "to Him give all the prophets witness, that through His Name whosoever believeth in Him shall receive remission of sins" (Acts 10:43).

This is the Man who by His own blood entered in once into the holy place having obtained eternal redemption. "And being made perfect, He became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey Him" (Heb. 5:9).

These Christians therefore see that every believer is warranted to have the fullest assurance of their present and eternal salvation, and that this assurance comes not through feelings or experiences, but by Christ's work once and for all. The believer can never be lost, but is as secure as though he were in heaven already because of Christ's death and resurrection (1 John 3:2, John 10:28-30).

They see however that Scripture guards from abuse of this doctrine by insisting upon good works as the fruit of salvation and strictly taking heed to Titus 2:11-15.

CONCLUSION

The presence in the assembly of the Lord Jesus, who died and rose again from the dead, draws the children of God together by the power of the Holy Spirit. Those gathering together unto His worthy Name affirm by doing so that they recognise His rights and His authority.

They proclaim allegiance to His Word. They confess that He alone is Head of His Church and deserving of preeminence in all things. They also proclaim love to all the children of God — a love measured by the twin standards of obedience to God and care for one another (1 John 5:2).

A welcome is extended to anyone interested in hearing the gospel of God's saving grace and ministry of the Word of God to attend meetings of these Christians. As the answer of the Lord Jesus Christ to perplexed and questioning souls was "come and see" so we say COME AND SEE (John 1:39).

D. S. OMOJOLA