The Time has Come

"Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord" (2 Timothy 1:8).

My appeal is specially and definitely to the young disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ. I am not in this minimizing the importance of those who are older in the faith; a great responsibility rests upon them and theirs is a great privilege. As they increase in the knowledge of God, they give stability to practical Christian fellowship and testimony, but they must be watchful lest they lose their spiritual vigour and zeal for Christ. If they fail in this they will not help but hinder those who are coming after them, and nothing could be more serious than that in these perilous times in which the whole truth of God is being challenged. But my appeal is to the young Christians; to them I say, Rally to the banner of our Lord and be not ashamed of His testimony.

Consider the position, the time has "come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears, and they shall turn away their ears from the truth AND SHALL BE TURNED TO FABLES" (2 Tim. 4:3-4).

God only could have given to Paul that prophetic vision that enabled him to describe so graphically and without mistake what these last days would be like. In this farewell letter to young Timothy, his son in the faith, he tells us all about it. It is a God-inspired letter, as all Scripture is God-inspired; read it and it will keep you from being dismayed and discouraged, for if God foresaw the condition into which Christendom would fall, He has not been taken by surprise by it, nor need you be surprised. To be forewarned is to be forearmed, and God, who foresaw it all, has instructed you how to act in the midst of it. He has given to you the Spirit, not of cowardice, but of love, and power, and of a sound mind; and all the grace that you require is in Christ Jesus for you, so that you need not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord Jesus Christ. Christian, be enthusiastic for Christ, and the faith that is His.

Your choice lies between the testimony of our Lord and fables. The testimony of our Lord is not popular and the fables are. They are labelled is "discoveries," they are propounded by university professors and preached by bishops, and they please the people who love pleasure more than they love God, but they are fables nevertheless — God-dishonouring, soul-damning fables. While they puff up the fleshly mind they save no souls, but your souls have been saved and blessed and made free and glad by the testimony of the Lord; by that testimony you must stand, and in standing by it suffer ridicule if needs be, and be looked down upon as being ignorant and behind the times. You will be told that on the other side are the wise and the mighty and the noble, and that on the side of the testimony are the nobodies. Be it so, that is just what we should expect as we read such a passage as 1 Corinthians 1:26-35. But one thing is certain, one man with God is better than ten thousand without Him, and God will ever be with the testimony of the Lord. Be the one man if necessary.

The perilous times have arrived, and the faith once delivered to the saints is being assaulted and opposed by many evils. There is "organized religion," the mere form of godliness in which the power that convicts men of sin and brings them with repentance to the feet of the great Redeemer, and changes their lives, is denied; leaders of religious thought are turning away from the testimony of the Lord and offering the sacraments instead of the living Lord and Christ as the means of life and blessing, and are drifting back into popish superstitions; and others, drunk with the wine of modernism, have made an unholy alliance with "science falsely so called," and are casting aside the Word of God as an obsolete thing and overthrowing the faith of some. Formalism, Ritualism, Rationalism — these be the gods of an apostatizing Christendom, but they are as false as Baal and Ashtaroth and Chemosh, the gods of the Canaanites! "O Timothy," wrote Paul the aged, in view of these days, "keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babbling; and oppositions of science falsely so called: which some professing have erred from the faith" (1 Tim. 6:20).

But God, who "in the beginning created the heavens and the earth" as Genesis tells us, still reserves to Himself thousands who have not bowed the knee to these modern gods and whose lips have not kissed them, you through the infinite grace of God are among these, and the obligation that is laid upon you is not to be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord. The time has come when you must be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and turn away from those who have turned away from the truth, for the command is clear, "Let every one that names the name of the Lord withdraw from iniquity" (N.Tr.). It is at once your responsibility and privilege to stand for and to preach the word, to be instant in season and out of season.

What is the testimony of our Lord? It is the word of the Lord to men at any given time. The first of which we have any record was given through Enoch, the seventh from Adam, who prophesied saying "Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of His saints to execute judgment," and in that first testimony we have proof enough that evolution is a fable. If man had struggled up through the ages, overcoming the most extraordinary difficulties and rising superior to a baffling environment, until at the last he emerged from an ape ancestry into a noble manhood, why should he be judged? Surely instead of judgment the Almighty might well and righteously congratulate him upon his achievement, and encourage him to still greater efforts. But if, on the other hand, he was created in the image and after the likeness of God, and if he has fallen from his high estate; if he is a degenerate Adam instead of a glorified ape; if he was made a moral being with responsibilities towards his Creator, and if he has broken down in those responsibilities and set at naught the will of God and pleased himself, how just it is that he should be called to account and that judgment should await him. "As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to Me, and every tongue shall confess to God. So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God" (Rom. 14:11). But how great is the mercy of God that warns men of the certainty of judgment before it comes, and calls upon them to repent in view of it. I repeat that the fact of coming judgment exposes the biological doctrine of evolution to be not the truth but a profane and vain imagination of man's mind. It is not the testimony of the Lord.

It may be objected, You are quoting from Genesis, and Genesis is now held by "all scholars" to be unauthentic, and these stories of Enoch and others are legendary, or at the best allegorical. I am not quoting from Genesis at all, but from Jude, a short Epistle written at least 3,000 years after the translation of Enoch to heaven; but Jude corroborates Genesis. If Enoch did not live and walk with God as Genesis tells us, then he did not prophesy as Jude tells us; not did he please God before he was translated, as the author of Hebrews tells us; nor did he begat Methuselah, as Luke tells us. If these three New Testament writers are untrustworthy on one point, we cannot accept them as reliable upon any point; their writings and Genesis stand or fall together, and those who try to hold on to the New Testament and yet discard Genesis in their haste to compromise with these so-called scientific discoveries, and to appear progressive in the eyes of their fellows and congregations, are, to say the least, very inconsistent men.

The testimony that Enoch gave from the Lord has not been cancelled, the judgment of which he spoke will surely come, but it has been postponed, for God is long-suffering to usward, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance; and in the meanwhile the testimony of the Lord is going out to men. It comes from the God who cannot lie, and it tells us what He is; it is a testimony of grace, yet it does not hide the fact of judgment to come. When we come to this testimony we are not dealing with theories, speculations, hypotheses, but with facts, and these facts are three:

1. Christ has been here.

2. He is no longer here.

3. He is coming back again.

John says, "We know that the Son of God has come … this is the true God and eternal life" (1 John 5. 20); and again, "Every spirit which confesseth Jesus Christ come in flesh is of God" (chap. 4:2, N.Tr.); and again, "Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins" (v. 10). The Son of God has come, and His coming was the manifestation of God's love to men. He did not come as a Judge, but God was in Christ, "reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their transgressions to them" (2 Cor. 5:19). He was announced at His birth as a Saviour by heavenly heralds. How did men treat Him when He came? They ought to have hastened to the manger where He was cradled, as the shepherds did, they ought to have brought their worship and their gifts to Him as the wise men from the East did, but they did not. All Jerusalem was troubled at the news of His birth, yet He did not turn back. He had come as the pledge of God's love to men. He was the Father's sent One and the light of the world. He came to show and to tell that "God is love."

But how did He come? Matthew tells us, "She (Mary) shall bring forth a Son, and thou shalt call His name JESUS: for He shall save His people from their sins. Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call His name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us." In many divinity schools it is taught that this is unscientific, and a physical impossibility. It is one of three great things in our Christian faith that are challenged. It is said that —

CREATION according to Genesis 1 is impossible.

INCARNATION according to Matthew 1 is impossible.

RESURRECTION according to 1 Corinthians 1 is impossible.

Impossible with men, yes, but not with God! and GOD is the answer to this three-fold challenge.

"IN THE BEGINNING GOD CREATED" (Genesis 1:1) is enough for faith when CREATION is in question.

"A BODY HAST THOU PREPARED ME" (Heb. 10:5) is enough for faith when INCARNATION is in question.

"GOD GIVETH IT A BODY AS IT PLEASETH HIM" (1 Cor. 15:38) is enough for faith when RESURRECTION is in question.

Men want to get rid of God, it is that that lies behind the denial of these great miracles. In their eyes there is nothing greater than man, and so they oppose themselves to everything outside his range and powers. But in these things God shows Himself to be supreme, He acts as God, and when evil forces arise and combine to thwart His purposes He deals with them in infinite wisdom and power; no enemy — neither sin, nor death, nor the devil — can frustrate His will, He is victorious in Christ Jesus over them all.

But when Christ came He was not wanted. There was no room for Him in man's scheme of things. There was room for Caesar in his Imperial purple, tyrant though he was; there was room for Herod and Pilate, for priests and publicans, for scribes and sinners; there was room for Barabbas, but no roam for Jesus. He was despised and rejected of men. Not rejected only — a man may be rejected because of his proposals and yet respected for his personal qualities — but Jesus was despised, and rejected because He was despised. Men despise that which they think beneath them, something contemptible, despicable — such was Jesus in their eyes. They could not endure perfect goodness, they would not have the Son of God, and with wicked hands they crucified and slew Him.

If the cross of Christ revealed that "God is love" — and it did, for "God commends His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" — it also exposed the heart of man. The cross of Christ was the proof that there is not a chord in man's heart that will respond even to God's tenderest touch. The cross was man's defiant answer to the most blessed advance that God could make to him. The best that God could do only laid bare the incorrigibility of man's nature, and put beyond all controversy for ever the fact that he MUST BE BORN AGAIN. The princes of this world crucified the Lord of glory and they acted for the race, they showed that men loved darkness rather than light and preferred Satan to God, even though God is love.

How wonderful it is that that same cross shows us how God can be a just God and yet a Saviour, who will have all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. If you hold fast to this you may be charged with holding "dry-as-dust" and "out-of-date" theology. But is it dry-as-dust theology? It is the most glorious testimony that ever sounded on mortal ears — "There is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the Man, Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time." Is this testimony out of date? Nay, this is the due time in which it must be made known. A multitude of dying saints have been filled with triumph in the very face of death because they believed it, and were persuaded that nothing could separate them from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. But they could have known nothing about it if the Son of God had not come.

CHRIST IS NO LONGER HERE. He is the Stone that the builders rejected, nevertheless He has become the Head of the corner; this is the Lord's doings and it is marvellous in our eyes. God has intervened for His own glory and raised Him from the dead. This was the dominant note in Peter's gospel in Pentecostal times; it rings triumphantly in Paul's gospel. God has given His answer to man's foul act. He has justified His Son whom men condemned, and Christ risen and exalted is God's new beginning, the beginning of the creation of God. We must stand either with the world that crucified Him or with God who has glorified Him. God has bound us up with Christ in glory by the Holy Spirit whom He has given to us, and by so doing has separated us from the world. God's purpose of blessing for men far exceeds anything that they can imagine for themselves, but this purpose is in Christ Jesus our Lord; not in the first man but the Second, for the first man was made of dust and to dust he goes, but the second man is out of heaven (1 Cor. 15:47, N.Tr.) and in Him God gives to all who believe life and incorruptibility and an inheritance, "incorruptible, and undefiled, and unfading, reserved in heaven for you" (1 Peter 1:4, N.Tr.). "Neither is there salvation in any other; for there is none other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved" (Acts 4:12).

HE IS COMING BACK AGAIN. "The Lord says to my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, until I make thy foes thy footstool" (Ps. 110:1; Acts 2:34-35; Heb. 1:13). The rights that were refused Him when He came in grace, will be secured for Him by the power of God when He comes in glory, "and at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father" (Phil. 2:10-11). The testimony of our Lord is incomplete if we leave out this. The hopes of the saints of God were always centred in Christ and His coming to establish righteousness in the earth. Of this Enoch spoke; the vision of this rejoiced the heart of Abraham; it was part of the testimony that God established in Jacob; that they might set their hope in God and not forget His works (Ps. 78); it has been revealed to us in the testimony of the Lord in its greatness and detail. Man after the flesh who is not subject to the law of God must give way before Christ, who was ever obedient, and He shall be glorified as Redeemer, Judge, and King. HE IS THE FAITHFUL WITNESS (He has been here); THE FIRST BEGOTTEN FROM THE DEAD (He is not here), AND THE PRINCE OF THE KINGS OF THE EARTH (He is coming back again) (Revelation 1).

"We have not followed cunningly devised fables, (that exalt man in his pride, and dishonour Christ, and deny the revelation of God) when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty. For He received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to Him from the excellent glory: This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with Him in the holy mount" (2 Peter 1:16-18).

The fables to which so many have turned make men comfortable without God, they give to them a false hope, and encourage them to trust in themselves and their own efforts. The testimony of the Lord exalts Christ who is the theme of it, in it GOD COMMANDS ALL MEN EVERYWHERE TO REPENT: "because He has appointed a day, in the which He will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom He has ordained; whereof He has given assurance to all men, in that HE HATH RAISED HIM FROM THE DEAD" (Acts 17:30-31). This testimony cannot fail, and the foundation of God stands sure, but on our part we must keep it pure and not mix it with the fables of men. We must "hold fast the form of sound words which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus" (chap. 1:13). Only thus can we be "faithful men." "Consider what I say; and the Lord give thee understanding in all things. Remember Jesus Christ of the seed of David raised from the dead according to my gospel: wherein I suffer trouble, as an evil doer, even to bonds; but the word of God is not bound" (2 Tim. 2:7-9). "Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of the Lord nor of me His prisoner, but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel ACCORDING TO THE POWER OF GOD."

There is another thing of supreme importance, and that is, that while there can be no compromise with evil on the part of those who would be faithful to the Lord, you must watch against all harshness of spirit: "The servant of the Lord must not strive, but be gentle to all, apt to teach, patient; in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth, and that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will" (chap. 2:24-26). And further, the one who has a true care for the interests of Christ will have a deep concern for His beloved flock, so many of which are involved in all the confusion that is showing itself in the church. Many of these are sorely bewildered and distressed; those who care enough for them to be intercessors on their behalf will be blessed of the Lord.