Truth & Testimony Vol. 1 No. 10, 1992.

The Life of David (2) — David's Army (cont'd).
A Man of God in our Day
God's Servant: How is he Recognized?
The Prayer Meeting
The Glories of the Son
A Bible Reading on Colossians 1:13-22
The Old in the New Explained
From Our Archive — The Morning Star
Books Review

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.

The Life of David (2)

David's Army. 1 Chronicles 12:8-40

(Continued from page 225)

A Young Recruit

Verse 28 of Chronicles 12 describes Zadok as "a young man mighty of valour". Young men usually have heroes of one kind or another. David was Zadok's hero and he was prepared to devote his young life to make David undisputed king of Israel. As he is mentioned immediately after the reference to the children of Levi, it is likely that he is the Zadok who became priest to David. See 1 Chr. 29:22; 1 Chr. 15:11; 1 Chr. 16:39; 1 Chr. 18:16; 1 Chr. 24:3, 6, 31; 1 Chr. 27:17. His youthful valour was useful to David in his fight to gain the throne of Israel. His mature priestly services were invaluable to David in later years. Zadok remained faithful to David when Adonijah, David's disloyal son, rebelled against his father (1 Kings 1:18). Zadok was honoured to anoint Solomon, God's choice, and David's choice, king over Israel when David abdicated (1 Kings 1:39). In 1 Samuel 2:34-35 God pronounced His judgment on the sons of Eli, the high priest, and promised to raise up to Himself a faithful priest who would walk before His anointed continually. This promise was fulfilled in Zadok. Zadok was a descendant of a great warrior priest named Phinehas (Num. 25:6 18). God gave to Phinehas a covenant of everlasting priesthood because of his faithfulness to God. It was fulfilled in Zadok and his seed. The seed of Zadok will have the charge of the priesthood in the millennial temple (Ezek. 40:46; Ezek. 43:19; Ezek. 44:15; Ezek. 48:11). It won't be David who will be on the throne of Israel then, but great David's greater Son. Phinehas and Zadok proved the statement that those who honour God will be honoured by Him (1 Sam. 2:30). Fighting seems to be a strange occupation for a priest. Listen to Psalm 149:6 "Let the high praises of God be in their mouth, and a two edged sword in their hand". Does this mean that if we never engage in conflict for Christ's glory we will never know what real praise means? There is plenty of room for valiant youths in the Christian conflict. Their faithful obedience to the Captain of their salvation will lead to promotion in the Captain's interest. Young men, keep close to spiritual men and follow their example. Joshua kept close to Moses. Elisha kept near to Elijah. Timothy had Paul as a spiritual father and served with him. Zadok served David in war and peace. "Remember your leaders" (Heb. 13:7).

Benjaminites Come to David. 1 Chronicles 12:29

It was a great grief to Saul, the king of Israel, that Jonathan, his son, was an admirer and friend of David, his enemy. Equally galling to him was the secession of three thousand of his brethren of the tribe of Benjamin to David. Overcoming the ties and responsibilities of nature, they threw in their lot with the persecuted David. They might have decided to remain with Saul in the apparent safety and strength that belonged to the Lord's anointed.

But the prophet Samuel had pronounced to Saul that his reign as king was under judgment from God. Another would take his place over Israel. David was eventually anointed and God had decreed his success (1 Samuel 15:28). The Benjaminites chose correctly. They were in line with God when they supported David rather than Saul. It wasn't easy for them to break away from tribal loyalties and natural ties. The attraction of David and the purpose of God enabled them to make their choice. Natures ties are very strong. They are perfectly legitimate before God in their proper place, but when they interfere in the things of God they are a hindrance and source of trouble and sorrow. Scripture provides many examples of natures claims opposing God's will. Abraham wanted Ishmael, the son of the bondwoman, to live before Him. God refused His request (Gen. 17:18-19). The behaviour of Eli's sons was an affront to God and he did not restrain them (1 Sam. 3:13). David was more concerned about the death of his son Absalom than the well-being of his own soldiers. He deserved the rebuke that Joab gave him (2 Sam. 19:1-6). A mother asked for places of importance in Christ's kingdom for her sons. Such a request meant, in principle, the exclusion of some other woman's sons from that place (Matt. 20:21). Barnabas separated from Paul because a dispute arose between them over a relative of Barnabas, John Mark (Acts 15:36-41). Let none underestimate the strength of nature and it's appeal when loved one's are involved in disputes. The claims of Christ upon His disciples take precedence over any national or natural claim (Luke 14:26). This doesn't mean that natural and secular relationships are to be ignored by a Christian. Rather the reverse. Scripture is plain as to the responsibilities of husbands, wives, fathers, children, employees and employers. But these relationships are to serve and support the Christian testimony, not hinder it. Jesus was obedient to His parents, but His prime obedience was in relation to His Father's business (Luke 2:49). "Lovest thou Me more than these" is a pertinent question when the claims of nature, or other claims, rival the claims of Christ (John 21:15).

Intelligent Soldiers

Every army is indebted to its intelligence corps. The knowledge of the size of the enemy army and it's ability to wage war is invaluable. Without such knowledge the outcome of a battle or campaign could be doubtful. The men of Issachar in David's army had understanding of the times. They knew what they had to do to make David the undisputed king of Israel. Saul's sun was setting while David's was in the ascendancy. Saul's army was crumbling. David's army was marshalling for victory. Their intelligence governed their motives and actions. We cannot place too high a value on correct understanding. There is no excuse for a Christian's ignorance in relation to the interests of Christ. Paul continually exhorted believers in Christ to be intelligent and not ignorant (Rom. 1:13; Rom. 11:25; 1 Cor. 10:1; 1 Cor. 12:1; 2 Cor. 1:8; 1 Thess. 4:13). Paul prayed that the believers at Colosse might have "spiritual understanding" (Col. 1:9). Obviously this kind of understanding is much more to be desired by a Christian than any other kind of understanding. Solomon was commended by God when he asked for an understanding heart to rule God's people, Israel (1 Kings 3:5-13). What would we ask for if God promised to give it to us? Take time to answer. It isn't as easy as it may appear to be. The Scriptures are an immense source of spiritual understanding. If we want the intelligence that is found in the Scriptures of Truth we need first of all to read them. That seems to be obvious. Secondly, we need the Lord to show us what the Scriptures mean (Luke 24:27, 45; 2 Tim. 2:7). Thirdly, prayer for help in understanding what we read is invaluable for spiritual progress. An important feature of understanding is found in Ephesians 5:17, "understanding what the will of the Lord is". Once we know that for our lives and obey it we are well on the way to upholding the interests of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Soldiers in Step. No Independency

An army without coordinated discipline is destined for defeat. Correct formation in defence or attack is necessary for victory. When the battle is waging it is important to keep together and help one another. It isn't the time to "do things one's own way". See 2 Samuel 10:11-12. Many a well organised but small army has defeated a larger but ill-disciplined group of men. History abounds with examples. There were no waverers in Zebulun's contingent for David's army (verse 33). They kept rank and were not of a double heart. A double heart, like a double mind, will bring instability (James 1:8). There was readiness in Asher's regiments (verse 36). They were set in battle array (see J.N.D. trans.). The enemy could not come upon them unawares. "Be vigilant, watch", writes Peter (1 Peter 5:8). Your great enemy Satan is active to destroy you. The Reubenites, Gadites and some of the tribe of Manasseh presented a solid and disciplined front against the expected oncoming enemy. They kept rank in battle array. A formidable force was under David's command ready to fight for Him. What a difference there would be in the Christian testimony today if followers of the Lord Jesus Christ were presenting such a united front to the many enemies of the Christian faith. Independency, self will, unseemly squabbles, divisions in homes, local assemblies and divisions that have had world wide repercussions have combined to present the sad spectacle of an army with great resources but no discipline. How Satan has laughed! The shame of divided Christendom ought to cause us to weep. Regrettably it does not. We need the spirit of Nehemiah as we contemplate the shambles of Christendom (Neh. 1:4). However, the Bible speaks about fellow soldiers and wherever we can stand shoulder to shoulder with fellow lovers of Christ and His truth, in righteous combat with the enemies of truth, may we do so with all our might (Phil. 2:25, Philemon 2). God delights in order (Num. 24:5-6, 1 Cor. 14:33). Satan is the author of disorder. Obedience to the Word of God will always produce order that is according to God. Colossians 2:5 is a reference to military order "For though I be absent in the flesh, yet am I with you in the spirit, joying and beholding your order, and the steadfastness of your faith in Christ". So too is 1 Corinthians 15:23 "But every man in his own order (in his own rank J.N.D.); Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's, at His coming". Humanly arranged order crumbles and creates greater disorder. May we heed Paul's exhortation in Ephesians 6:10-18. Be strong in the Lord and stand (verses 11 and 14).

Food for David's Army. 1 Chronicles 12:39-40

What a delightful end to the chapter! The army is with David. They are glad to be with him although it is in the wilderness. All other aspirations and pursuits are set aside as they gather together to him and are resolved to make him supreme in Israel. An abundance of food was prepared for the army. From far and near the provision came, from those who could not assist in the fighting but could supply food for the army. "An army marches on its stomach" is a well known expression. David's army had a wonderful variety of good nourishing food. As they ate what was provided for them there was great joy in the ranks. What an encouraging picture! David is the centre of his loyal and devoted army. It is alert and disciplined. It is equipped and intelligent. An air of expectant victory pervades the camp. In some measure these features can be realised among Christians. When the Lord Jesus Christ is the undisputed Centre of His beloved people there will be an ample supply of suitable spiritual food to sustain them in their conflict for His interests. Some may say that this is an excellent ideal but unattainable. Some can reply and say that it has been realised. In weakness, yes, but known and enjoyed. Food is an important feature in the New Testament. See 1 Peter 2:2, Hebrews 5:12-14 and 1 Timothy 4:6. Weak soldiers or underfed soldiers will not survive a long and arduous warfare. Finally, let us listen to Paul. "Stand firm in one spirit, with one soul, labouring together in the same conflict with the faith of the glad tidings" and "Strive earnestly in the good conflict of faith" (Phil. 1:27, 1 Tim. 6:12).

"Stand then in His great might, with all His strength endued;
But take, to arm you in the fight, the Panoply of God:
That having all things done, and all your conflicts passed,
Ye may o'ercome, through Christ alone, and stand entire at last.
C. Wesley
F. Wallace

(Further articles in this series are to follow, as the Lord provides)

A Man of God in Our Day


In order to understand what a "man of God" is, we should study Paul's epistles to Timothy, where we find this expression twice (1 Tim. 6:11 and 2 Tim. 3:17). The only other passage where we find the same term in the New Testament (although in the plural), is 2 Peter 1:21, which refers to Old Testament prophets and saints. We will limit ourselves in this short study to some characteristics of a "man of God," with the prayer and desire that all who read this article may profit from these lessons. In the first reference, Paul writes to Timothy:

"But thou, O man of God, flee these things, and pursue righteousness, piety, faith, love, endurance, meekness of spirit" (1 Tim. 6:11).


The way the apostle Paul addresses Timothy with the words "O man of God" (1 Tim. 6:11), suggests an urgent and a very personal appeal. Urgent, because of the need of the hour; and personal, because of the individual responsibility to meet this need. The Greek word for "man" above is without distinction of sex. It should be the character of men and women who are attached to the Lord Jesus and who love the great truth of the house of God (1 Tim. 3:15), which truth is presented and developed in this epistle in a very practical way.


Our Lord Jesus Christ was the true Man of God here on earth, as He still is in the glory. Despite all failure on the part of God's people, our blessed Lord did everything for the pleasure of God: He came to do God's will (Ps. 40, Heb. 10) and He accomplished the work the Father had given Him to do (John 17:4). Through conflicts and opposition, being misunderstood, despised, rejected, mocked at, and blasphemed, our Lord always continued in faithfulness to be a perfect Witness for God's rights on this earth (see also 1 Tim. 6:13).


This last passage speaks about our Lord Jesus, the anointed Man of God (Matt. 3:16f and parallel passages; Acts 10:38), who testified the good confession in this world. He maintained God's rights in His words, works and walk, as a perfect Witness and Sufferer,* as the true Man of God, long before the day when these rights are going to be established and displayed in the world to come. The glorified Lord Jesus has given His Spirit (John 7:39) to those who believe, in order that they should be a testimony for God in the time of Christ's rejection and absence from this scene. Christians are to be vessels in which Christ is seen, and together they form a collective testimony of Christ, God's anointed Man (1 Cor. 1:6), with which God identifies Himself (cp. 1 Cor. 2:1). Even in a day of ruin (see Phil. 2:21, Phil. 3:18f; 2 Tim. 1:15, 2 Tim. 4:3f; Rev. 2 & Rev. 3), and I would suggest especially then, it is open to every Christian to be a man of God. God's heart will be delighted to have witnesses for Himself in this world under Satan's leadership, where all His rights are formally and/or practically rejected, and which world system already lies under God's judgment! The Lord Jesus was alone when rendering such a testimony, but we may be witnesses together with those who call upon the Name of the Lord out of a pure heart, and we have the help of His Spirit. Such a testimony implies suffering and persecution. As this was the case for the Lord, it is also the same for His witnesses (martyrs), like Stephen (Acts 7), Paul (2 Tim. 4), John (Rev. 1) and for Timothy himself, together with all those who live godly (piously) in Christ Jesus (2 Tim. 3:12). A "man of God" is prepared to pay this price.

{*The Greek word for "witness" is the word from which our English word "martyr" is derived, one who bears "witness" by his death.}


First of all I would like to draw your attention to four F's: Flee, Follow, Faith and Fight. The first is negative, the second positive, the third (linked with other features) gives what is necessary for the fourth.

(1) First, notice how much attention Paul gives to the problem of money (1 Tim. 6:7-10, 17-19). In order to be a man of God, one surely has to flee from the "love of money" and all the things connected with that. This is a real test for most of us, who live in a society where so much is done because of the love of money. A Christian is also to flee from idolatry and fornication (1 Cor. 10:14; 1 Cor. 6:18) and from youthful lusts like pride, arrogance and lack of self-judgment. (2 Tim. 2:22). Sadly many believers are involved with things they should flee from, and fail to resist when they should.

(2) On the positive side, a man of God is attracted to a glorified Christ as He is now in heaven (see Phil. 3:8-12), in order to follow Him in this scene where He endured sufferings (Phil. 2:5-13). When we follow Him, we will also be able to follow diligently after the features which are necessary to be good witnesses and soldiers, and to "Fight the good fight of faith" (1 Tim. 6:12).

(3) One result of this will be practical righteousness, as we see in our theme verse (1 Tim. 6:11). A man of God maintains God's rights, respects what is due to God both as Creator and Redeemer. This moral righteousness ("doing right") is based on the position God has given us in Christ (Rom. 5:1; Rom. 8:1, Phil. 3:8ff).

(4) Godliness or piety follows righteousness. This often repeated feature of godliness, means that a man of God walks in the fear of the Lord, before God, realizing His presence in the minor details of his life. This attitude brings God into every part of his life and testimony. At the same time it brings him into line with the anointed Man of God. This is the moral effect of God's revelation to him (1 Tim. 3:16).

(5) Faith follows godliness. The man or woman of God sees things as God sees them, as the great faith chapter of the Bible, Hebrews 11, demonstrates. He is built up by God, puts his trust in God, and draws all his resources from Him.

(6) Love follows faith in this list, as it does in 1 Corinthians 13, "Faith, hope and love." Since he has received a new nature, the man of God can respond to God's nature, love, and be filled with God's love (in principle, Rom. 5:5, but also practically, as is emphasized in our passage). This gives him at the same time the capacity to show this love as a testimony for God, either to believers, as well as unbelievers, in marriage and family life.

(7) The next feature, patience or endurance, is the capacity to "remain under," [i.e. continue on during] difficult and adverse circumstances, which is certainly a very difficult thing! How much easier it is to defend ourselves and maintain our alleged rights. But what about God's rights? Aren't they important? They are maintained, practically, by showing this attitude of patience and endurance.

(8) The Lord Jesus is the perfect example of "meekness of spirit," our next quality in this list. Here again we may learn from Him, who came as the true King to maintain God's rights and who was rejected in this pathway. See Matt. 11:29ff, 10:24f

(9) "Fight the good fight of faith," follows in the next verse. To be a witness for God is a constant battle for a man of God. This battle is not against sin in himself, nor against flesh and blood, but against Satan's attacks. Although false doctrine may be directly involved in this warfare, we should be aware that poor or wrong practice may indicate that there is something wrong as to principles. We ought not to separate practical Christian living from Christian doctrine. I would submit to you that here we have a link with the good confession (1 Tim. 6:12f), by which the man of God puts forward the claims of the kingdom of God, even in this world which is the domain of another kingdom.

(10) The list concludes with this challenge, "lay hold of eternal life." This does not mean that Timothy did not receive eternal life the moment he believed; John 5:24 assures us that all believers have this. But Paul's desire for Timothy and for "the man of God" was that we should really enjoy the things which God has prepared for us in Christ Jesus, who is The Eternal Life, existing before the foundation of the world. In other words: a "man of God" is living for the things that belong to another world, to the new creation, where Christ is the Head and Centre. He lays hold on these things and is now practically enjoying them. This enables him to render a faithful testimony to and in this world.


The second passage where we find this challenging expression "the man of God," is 2 Tim. 3:10-17. Paul portrays a dark picture of the last days in vs. 1-9. Against this dark background, his own example shines very brightly and it would encourage Timothy to follow along the same path. In studying this Scripture portion, we will find several parallels with the first one, but also a marked progress of evil. Again, we could underline ten important points, but we will leave this to our readers. This passage might also encourage parents to saturate the minds of their (young) children with the Word of God. The inspiration and accuracy, the authority and divinity of the God-breathed holy Scriptures, is of vital importance in a day of ruin. Thus the Bible would have its effect with regard to the presentation of the truth (objective knowledge), as well as in connection with its impact and personal conviction (subjective truth). Where necessary it will also bring correction and restoration (who is beyond failure?), resulting in a holy life of practical righteousness.


In conclusion we can say that a man of God is characterized by the following points (of course, this is not an exhaustive list). He uses God's resources, which are always available to faith. For this point in particular see 2 Tim. 1. He lives entirely for the pleasure of God, and represents God by being a living testimony of His will. He is a vessel filled with the Spirit and with Christ, who says as it were "God is all, I am nothing."

Another thing that characterizes the man of God, is that he is aware of the ruin of the public testimony of Christianity. Nevertheless, he doesn't become bitter or discouraged, but goes on to carry out God's own will in every area of his responsibility. In this way, he has a good understanding of God's thoughts, e.g. with regard to His eternal purpose, the Church according to His counsel, the total depravity of fallen man, God's sovereign grace, the condition of this world. In other words, he knows the pattern which God has shown on the mountain, our position in Christ Jesus. This knowledge is necessary in order to maintain God's thoughts here on earth.

A man of God is also a balanced person, "cutting in a straight line the word of truth" (2 Tim. 2:15), not overestimating certain truths, while underestimating other parts of the truth, but maintaining the whole truth, not deviating to the left, or to the right. This is true Christian maturity, understanding the Scriptures in a correct and spiritual way, and not applying them in a legalistic, carnal or selfish manner (2 Tim. 3:15-17).

It was Paul's burden not only to present the mystery, but also to present every man perfect (mature, full-grown) in Christ Jesus (Col. 1:27f). How many problems occur among Christian people because of lack of balance or lack of maturity. However, a man of God helps other Christians to enjoy the things of God: what a challenge! Thus he is a witness of God, sent to set souls right with God, before God is going to use His power to set things right in this world.


Although seen in relation to the house of God (which is a collective thought), every individual Christian is encouraged in these Epistles to Timothy to follow the path of discipleship as a true man or woman of God. The answer to the general failure of Christendom today is to be found in believers who are overcomers in the challenges of everyday living. Here Paul touches the line of John's ministry which has been given by God to help us practise the truth in a day of ruin. May God help us!

The author of the following article has been a "full time" servant of the Lord for many years

God's Servant: How is he recognized?


The call of God to service is absolutely and exclusively a matter between God and His servant. Moses (Ex. 3:10), Samuel (1 Sam. 3:19-20), Isaiah (Isa. 6:8-9), Jeremiah (Jer. 1:5), Ezekiel (Ezek. 2:38), and John the Baptist (John 1:6) all bear clear witness to the same fact that Paul expresses concerning himself in Galatians 1:1, that he was "an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised Him from the dead)". If one is to be a true servant of God, he must realize this above all else. It is God who gives him orders, God who provides him with the message he is responsible to give simply and plainly, adding nothing to it and taking nothing from it in any degree. For if one seeks to satisfy men, or to please men, then he is not the servant of Christ (Gal. 1:10). Not only did Paul's gift proceed from God, but God alone had authority as to how and where he used that gift; he did not do this "by men," that is, by man's permission. In whatever sphere one desires to serve the Lord, let it be with this settled sense of obeying Him solely and singleheartedly, whether one's full time is so engaged or whether he has other employment by which to pay his expenses. Paul both worked for his own support (1 Thess. 2:9) and received help for his support even from an assembly poor in this world's goods, the Philippians (Phil. 4:10-18). On the other hand, he would receive nothing from the Corinthians who were in good circumstances (2 Cor. 11:9-12), for there were those among them who would accuse him of making money from them if they did this.

The servant receives his support as directly from the Lord, not from men. If men want to take the credit for this, then the servant ought not to accept it. If it is given in honest affection for the Lord, and as to Himself, then the servant is free to receive it as such, with thanksgiving. Let him show no spirit of grasping, nor think at any time of indicating to others what his material needs may be. He is God's servant, not theirs. Let him appeal only to God, and trust God utterly for every need. If God has sent him and he goes in obedience to God, then God will certainly take full care of him, whether it may be by means of his own working or by God's laying it upon the hearts of His people to give to his support. In either case let him accept it as from God and give God thanks.

If it becomes a serious exercise as before God that he should use his entire time in the Lord's service, whether in a foreign country or whether closer to home, again he is to depend entirely upon God in this matter, he is not to ask or to expect anything from man. If it is God who is leading him in this, God will certainly care for all his needs.

But let him be totally certain of God's leading in a matter so serious as this. In Luke 9:57-58 a man who appeared very enthusiastic in his decision to follow the Lord was not at all encouraged by the Lord to do so, but told rather, "The Son of Man hath not where to lay His head." In Luke 14:25-33 the Lord Jesus insists that one should first count the cost before embarking on a path of discipleship. Is he prepared for the persecution, the stern trials of faith, the sorrows and difficulties that must ever attend a true path of service for God? This of course is no mere fleshly preparation involving the natural strength and vigour of the servant, but that of simple, real faith in the Son of God, faith that has learned to depend honestly on Him.

Also, one may be called by God and yet be mistaken as to the time of his going. Moses made this mistake and in doing so did not serve in the God-appointed way (Ex. 2:1115). This led to his humiliation until God sent him forty years later to do His work, at which time Moses was loath to go, rather than forward, as previously.

But God delights also to see exercise as to the Lord's work shared by others who have such concern. Paul mentions in Galatians 2:1-10 his going to Jerusalem and communicating to the other apostles the gospel God had given him, with the result of wholehearted fellowship together in the respective work God had given to each. Such fellowship is seen also in Acts 13:23. Paul was called for a special work and others had no difficulty in discerning this. This is important. It is always wise to communicate with brethren close at hand, and of course specially the local assembly with which one is connected, as regards his exercise in some special service for the Lord. If they are not free to express fellowship in this case, then he ought to seriously consider this; for if they truly seek the mind of God, they should have some discernment as to the fact of his being called by God for that which he proposes.

Not that they decide the matter. It is God who decides this, but God may use the reservations of an assembly as a means of further exercising the servant. Of course it is possible that an assembly may be mistaken in either approving or disapproving of a servant's intentions. If in spite of an assembly's doubts, the servant embarks on the service he proposes, let it be in true humbleness of mind before God and with settled confidence in God alone. He must be prepared for the fact that his assembly will not be likely to contribute to his support and that this too may influence others in their thoughts of his service. But if God has sent him, God will sustain him. If not, then he must expect the shame of having to give up that which will then have proven to be the effort of self-confidence. If he proves diligent and faithful in his work, it is this that will gain the confidence of his assembly and of others in recognizing that God has sent him.

Finally, let every servant pay closest attention to his own personal character and conduct. He must expect this to be watched by both believers and unbelievers, but above all by God. For instance, "the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all, apt to teach, patient" etc. (2 Tim. 2:24). 2 Corinthians 6 is a chapter that should be thoroughly impregnated into his mind and heart.


The viewpoint of the servant and that of the assembly must be kept fully distinct in this matter. While the servant is to be entirely God's servant, and not man's, yet the assembly is called upon to discern as to whether it can have fellowship with him in his work. We have observed that it is only right and considerate that the servant should communicate to his assembly the exercise he may have as to any field of service to which the Lord may call him. Then it becomes a concern of the assembly as to how fully it may be free to express fellowship in this work. They must above all look for the evidence that it is God who has called him. In this is involved the principle mentioned at the time of Timothy's first going forth with Paul, that he "was well reported of by the brethren" (Acts 16:2). There were those who knew him well.

In giving such a report it is necessary that the brethren know:

1. That his moral character and conduct are consistently Christian and above reproach.

2. That he has a working knowledge of Scripture equal to the carrying on of the particular work he proposes.

3. That the Lord has evidently qualified him for the type of work he desires and that he has already manifested some diligence in such work. 4. That he shows convincing evidence that it is God who has called him. This involves a faith that does not look for support from men, nor ask for their commendation, but has a serious sense of dependence utterly upon God.

The assembly is not in any way to assume the responsibility of sending him; this is God's prerogative. They may however wish to express their happy fellowship in his proposed work. Other assemblies may inquire as to him, and his home assembly should be prepared to give the information that will be helpful to them, expressing whatever measure of fellowship they are free to, before the Lord. If, as an assembly, they are not free to express such fellowship, then they must of course communicate information to this effect.

They may point out to the servant the reason for their doubts or reservations, for his consideration and exercise of soul, though they make no decision for him as to his work. Yet his consideration of them and of their exercises will certainly have some bearing on the question of their confidence in him.

The assembly is at all times free to minister temporal support to the Lord's servants or to withhold support, as they are exercised by the Lord. They ought not to consider it a settled matter to minister a certain amount at stated intervals, but be always concerned before the Lord to minister as and when He directs. If the servant is called to walk by faith in dependence only upon the Lord, the assembly, on the other hand, should exercise constant faith and dependence upon the Lord in all their ministering. They give as to the Lord, not to men, and the servant is to receive as from the Lord, not from men.

The genuine exercise of the blessed principle of faith is both of great importance and that which makes for the greatest simplicity in all these matters. Problems and complications will be reduced to a minimum where faith is in true exercise, whether on the part of the servant or of the assembly. There will then be no need of men seeking means of putting any service under proper control as they see it. For God will be in control, as is the only Scriptural principle in every case.

L. M. Grant

The Prayer Meeting

Is the prayer meeting well attended? It has been remarked that the prayer meeting is the barometer of the local assembly. When the dews came back from exile, we read that they all came together, first to hear the law read aloud, and then to spend a fourth part of the day in confession of their sins and in prayer. (Neh. 9:23). In Acts 12, when Herod was seeking to destroy the infant church, having killed James and imprisoned Peter, we read that many were gathered together in the house of Mary, Mark's mother, praying all night. When we think that each of us is entrusted with 168 hours every week, is it too much to employ just one of those hours in corporate prayer?

Surely we are put to shame by many Christians in other lands, where there is persecution and poverty, who walk many miles to be present at the prayer meeting. It requires an effort, certainly, but surely each one should try to be present whenever possible.

In some places where the saints are scattered, and find it difficult to come together during the week, it may be simpler to have the prayer meeting after the Lord's supper, perhaps after a short interval, or else before, or after, the evening meeting. We are not told in the Bible at what hour we must come together, but we are enjoined to pray as an assembly (1 Timothy 2:1-11). See also Acts 2:42 and 4:23-31.

We have no "form of service" laid down in the New Testament, but let us remember that we come together to pray. We may sing one or more hymns, and a suitable portion of Scripture may be read to prepare our hearts to be found in a prayerful and dependent attitude, but prayer is the principal object. The prayers do not have to be long. It is better if each brother prays briefly two or three times, so that others can intelligently add their "amen." There may be an opportunity before we pray to draw attention to special needs, or subjects of thanksgiving. Prayer is not all requests. We may include "giving of thanks."

In what attitude do we pray? Kneeling seems to be Scriptural and was formerly universal but there is a danger, particularly in a large company, of the brother who prays not being heard. In some places a microphone with a long lead is passed to the brother as he begins, in which case all are able to say "amen." I have been to a prayer meeting where we were all so tightly packed in that we could not even stand. The attitude of heart is more important than our physical position.

We are instructed to pray, believing that our prayer will be answered (Matthew 21:22). James also commends the "prayer of faith" (James 5:15). We pray to a loving Father who delights to give us the best. "He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? (Romans 8:32).

"Let us draw near … not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together … so much the more as ye see the day approaching" (Hebrews 10:22, 25).

R. E.A.R.

The Epistle to the Colossians

The Glories of the Son

(A Bible reading at the Kilkeel conference in May 1992)

Colossians 1:13-22

We have here a very wonderful presentation of the Lord Jesus and perhaps the meetings thus far have been preparing us for the consideration of these verses. On the past day we were reminded of the activity of the Holy Spirit who delights to take of the things of Christ and show them to us, and we might add that we are set quite at liberty in the Divine presence for this meditation. In verse 14 we have redemption and the forgiveness of sins. By the forgiveness of sins, our sins and their guilt have been dealt with, and redemption sets us free so that now we are at liberty to be engaged with the One who is presented to us as the Son of the Father's love.

That expression is what He is and what He always was in His position as Son in the Godhead. The Son in the bosom of the Father, the Son in the unchangeable love of the Father. This is essentially His place. Out of this spring the many other glories that are brought before us in this passage.

Yes. He is spoken of as the Son of the Father in the second epistle of John, and the expression Son of the Father's love brings in the atmosphere and fullness of John's writings, even though we are reading Paul in this particular passage. We now come to this expression "Image of the invisible God". Perhaps our thoughts go back to the earlier use of this word, in connection with Adam. Here we get exactly the same expression, but used in connection with the One who is the Son.

Adam began to be, didn't he? This verse begins with "Who is".

Yes. We do well to keep clearly before us the unique glories of the Lord Jesus. Adam was created in the image and after the likeness of God. Scripture doesn't use the word likeness in connection with the Lord Jesus because He is God.

The statement carries with it the idea that if one is going to be image of the invisible God, if one is going to make God fully known, He must Himself be God.

Yes. In connection with this word image there seem to be the dual thoughts of representation and manifestation. In Genesis 1 Adam is described as made in the image and likeness of God. Similarly 1 Corinthians 11:7 speaks of man as God's image and glory. I notice that when the word is used in relation to the Lord Jesus here in Colossians the definite article is used. He is Image of THE God. Similarly, in 2 Corinthians 4:4, we read that the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the Image of THE God, should shine unto them. The article is used in connection with the Lord Jesus, as showing again His distinctive place in contrast with Adam.

Some of us may be used to thinking of an image as something that isn't quite the real thing. This is an idea that we must put out of our minds when we come to the term image in relation to the Lord Jesus. Everything that is said about Him as the Image is true because He is the real thing. He is God.

If Adam was the last to be placed in the first creation, the Lord Jesus is the first to take His place in the new creation. As coming out from among the dead, God now builds a new world around Him, and everything in this new world takes character from Christ.

I learned the message of this phrase perhaps, when I was thinking about the words of the hymn: "Thou wast the image in man's lowly guise of the invisible to mortal eyes". There are things about God that we could never have known unless the Lord Jesus had become man.

So do you think that He was not the Image of the invisible God before incarnation or has He always been Image of the invisible God?

I don't think the invisible God could really be seen in the way that He is presented here until the Lord came into manhood.

I was thinking of the theophanies. There you have the Son in visible form appearing as Image of the invisible God.

Certainly in the Old Testament there were those pre-incarnate manifestations of God. Usually He appeared as the Angel of the Lord, though sometimes, mainly in Genesis 18, as Jehovah.

He did appear before the incarnation, fleetingly and for specific purposes, but there were things not manifested in a sustained way until the Lord Jesus came into manhood. Adam was put in a position where he was to manifest and represent God because of what he was he didn't fill out that position. Here, now, is a Man who filled out in every way everything involved in the term Image of the invisible God. This seems to lead to the conclusion that this manifestation was given, this representation was effected, in manhood.

And this expression applies to Him still, where He is, in the glory. He IS Image of the invisible God.

Whatever we say about this expression it is without any shadow of doubt that the next expression views Him as a Man here below. He is the Firstborn of all creation.

Yes. If the Creator steps into His own creation He must take the first place. Quite often we have heard addresses in which the expression Firstborn has been put alongside the expression Only Begotten. When we speak of Him as the Only Begotten we view Him as the unique One. It is an expression we find mainly in John's writings, though not exclusively so.* In the French Bible I believe it is translated "God's Son unique". We view Him in His unique glory as the Son. In contrast with that, when we get the expression Firstborn, it is always in relation to others. The term is used 7 times in the New Testament.**

{*The word is used in connection with Christ in John 1:14, 18; John 3:16, 18 and 1 John 4:9. It is used of others in Luke 7:12; Luke 8:42; Luke 9:38; and Hebrews 11:17.}

{**The word is used in connection with Christ in Matt. 1:25; Luke 2:7; Rom. 8:29; Col. 1:15, 18; Heb. 1:6 and Rev. 1:5. It is used of others in Heb. 11:28 and Heb. 12:23.}

It is not a question here of the time order, but the expression emphasises rather that He is first in dignity, first in rank. He is preeminent in every sphere. There are many in the Old Testament named as the firstborn who weren't actually the first born in time

It is one of the many gems to follow up in Scripture that in Genesis, the seed plot of the Bible, there are seven pairs of men where the first one born was not the firstborn one. First in time, but not in rank.

We know that creation is attributed to God in Genesis 1 verse 1, and the Hebrew word for God there is in the plural rather than the singular or dual form, indicating the involvement of the whole Godhead. However, if one Person of the Godhead is named in connection with creation it is almost always the Son who is given the glory too of creatorial activity.

There are three things connected with Him, creation, redemption and judgment.

We have here statements in connection with the wide ramifications of His creatorial activity. We get "… by Him were all things created" at the beginning of verse 16 and "all things were created by Him, and for Him" at the end of the verse. The footnotes in the Darby translation show that there are actually three different prepositions used. The fact that all things were created by Him, that His was the instrumental power, and for Him, we can all easily understand, but the first "by" shows that His characteristic power is seen in the whole of creation. It connects with Romans 1:20 where we read that "the invisible things of Him (God) are perceived, being apprehended by the mind through the things that are made, both His eternal power and divinity … ". As we look out on the wide creation we can see the hand of the Saviour.

Am I right when I say that the same preposition is used further down where we read that "by Him all things consist"? It's the same word as the one you have referred to in the beginning of verse 16. We could say "For in Him were all things created". I understand that the latter part of verse 17 could be rendered "… and in Him all things consist".

That's right, His power that brought them into being, keeps them together.

As well as that, though distinct from it, He was the agent, the instrument, in bringing it all into being. John 1, Colossians 1 and Hebrews 1, all meet on this point, that He is the One who has created all things.

In view of the teaching that is brought round from door to door today, it is worth noticing this clause "for Him" at the end of verse 16. They will admit that He was the instrument of creation, but they cannot say that all things were created for Him. They say He created all things for God, as His agent, but this verse shows that He created all things for Himself.

The fourth chapter of Revelation underlines that too. "Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for Thou hast created all things, and for Thy pleasure they are and were created". (verse 11)

Both as to being brought into being and continuing in being, all things exist or have being in virtue of His being. That is not an easy concept for our finite minds to consider, yet it is what the Scripture says, "All things received being through Him, and without Him not one thing received being which has received being" (John 1:3). All things that had a beginning owe their beginning to Him. Verse 17 here in Colossians 1 is perhaps even more staggering. Putting it negatively, if it could be conceived for a moment that the Lord Jesus should cease to exist, all creation would cease to exist at that moment, because all things subsist, hang together, continue to be, in virtue of His being.

As we read down a passage like this it becomes evident why the apostle is driving home these facts. Some of these things are possibly the things that the philosophers were trying to turn them aside to, things invisible, angelic powers and so on. But here he is telling us of One who is greater than all, the Creator and Sustainer of all.

I think we'll come to that again in Colossians 2, where we find Him as Head of all principality and power. Of course, they are unfallen ones, but even the evil ones were originally created by Him according to this chapter.

They weren't evil when He created them, of course. That's why verse 16 makes no reference to "things under the earth".

They all came from His hand good, but when sin came in it invaded even these principalities and authorities, as we know from Ephesians 6. The visible and invisible might be connected with thrones and lordships, which I take to be visible, and principalities and authorities, which I take to be invisible.

We read later on how He has triumphed over the evil ones. ( Colossians 2:15).

I notice that the word for created is in a slightly different tense in verses 16 and 17. It says in verse 16 that "… by Him were all things created". That is a once for all action, but the second reference, at the end of the verse, signifies something accomplished in the past which continues to the present. I think this ties in beautifully with the fact that He sustains the creation He has brought into being.

"And He is before all". What a tremendous statement this is. John the Baptist said "He was before me" (John 1:15). We have the Lord's words in John 8:58. "Before Abraham was, I am". Here we go further back still, "He is before all". We can't go any further back than that, can we?

All the dignitaries mentioned in Scripture have their antecedent. If we think of David, He is the Root of David, and of Melchisedec, he was assimilated to the Son of God. The Scripture says of Adam that he is the figure of Him to come. (Rev. 22:16; Heb. 7:3; Rom. 5:14).

As we read these things we have to keep continually in mind that it is the Son of the Father's love we are speaking about.

Well now, moving on, we come to this expression "And He is the Head of the body, the assembly". The assembly isn't referred to here to show its dignified position but to show the privilege of the body, the assembly, in being in touch with such a Head.

We know that He wasn't the Head of the body until He went on high. He couldn't be the Head of the body until the body came into existence, which it did on the day of Pentecost. This expression puts the emphasis upon His Person. In Ephesians 1 it says that God "gave Him to be Head over all things to the assembly, which is His body … " (Eph. 1:22-23). Here, however, the statement is very emphatic "He is the Head of the body, the assembly …", and that seems to suggest not just His Manhood in glory, but who He is that is Head of the body. The simple solution is that in Ephesians 1:22 He is viewed as Man, whereas here the emphasis is upon His divine Personality.

This little expression keeps coming up "He is".

Doesn't that magnify the Person? When we come lower down to talk about the cross for instance, it says "His cross", which again emphasises the greatness of the Person who is before us in the passage. The next clause "… who is the Beginning, the Firstborn from the dead; that in all things He might have the preeminence", contains the thought of His being preeminent and chief. The verse refers to His being pre-eminent in both the first creation, that we've been speaking about, and here, the new creation.

And our thoughts are now directed to His Manhood. In connection with the first creation we have been thinking of His Godhead glory, but here, as Firstborn from among the dead, we think particularly of His Manhood. He came into manhood, went into death, and now that He is out of death He takes the first place, this dignified place, as a Man. It has always been God's thought that this new creation should be under a man. Here our eyes are turned to that Man.

The term "Firstborn from among the dead" affirms most strongly what has been said about being first in rank rather than first in time. We do know from Scripture that, as well as the Lord Jesus and those spoken of in Matthew 27:52-53, when "many bodies of the saints which slept, arose, and came out of the graves after His resurrection", there are eight persons in Scripture who were raised. That again, being eight, seems to indicate that God intended to make a new start. But there could be no new start, there could be nothing for God, unless one of sufficient rank should institute a new race, and here He is.

And all of those of whom you speak, apart from the Lord Himself, have gone back into death again, but this One is a life giving spirit. Not only is He out of death personally, but He is able to bring into being a new generation who will life with Him. As to the word "Beginning", we do get in Revelation 3:14 that He is "the Beginning of the creation of God", which clearly is new creation.

Yes. It does come between the expressions "He is the Head of the body" and the "Firstborn from among the dead" so the context seems to require what you have said, that it is connected with the new creation sphere.

It ties in again with this word image. He stamps His own character upon everything in this new creation world.

You get in Scripture "Quartus a brother" (Rom. 16:23), "Tertius" (Rom. 16:22), "Secundus" (Acts 20:4), but no Primus. There is one who takes that position in the third epistle of John, and what a lot of trouble he caused, "Diotrephes, who loveth to have the pre-eminence". But the first place belongs to Christ.

Daniel had the third place and Joseph had the second place but Christ has the preeminence (Dan. 5:7, 16, 29; Gen. 41:39-43).

Who is involved, and what is involved, in verse 19?

When we look at it carefully we find that the better translation gives "For in Him all the Fulness was pleased to dwell". The word "Godhead" comes in the second chapter, verse 9, but not here. It refers to the Lord Jesus in Manhood and again we find another aspect of His glory, that in Him all the Fulness was pleased to dwell, and it was with a very definite operation in view.

In this connection we often turn to certain passages, such as John 14:10, where the Lord said that "the words I speak unto you I speak not of Myself: but the Father that dwelleth in Me, He doeth the works", and Matthew 12:28 where He said "I cast out devils by the Spirit of God". It is clear that the Father and the Holy Spirit were pleased to dwell in Him, the Son. I notice that J.N.D. puts the word "Godhead" in to make it a little clearer, though the word isn't in the original.

So really it is the Godhead working for It's own pleasure, and we find here the combined working of Father, Son and Holy Spirit in order to accomplish a very great work.

It is an edifying exercise to trace through the New Testament the more than sixty occasions where Father, Son and Holy Spirit are seen to be in absolute concert, at one, in all that they do.

When did this Fulness dwelling in Him take place?

Surely the Fulness of the Godhead has always dwelt in Him. It did not begin to do so, either at the incarnation or at His baptism. This verse counteracted the ideas of the gnostics who were saying that there was some fulness, some power, apart from Him. Here Paul says in Him was all Fulness.

The term "filled to overflowing" which seems to be involved, is suggestive of that fulness which leads to a work being done.

There was a work to be done and at the Lord's baptism we get for the first time the Trinity in manifestation, and this work was set in motion. 2 Corinthians 5:18 speaks of it, where there is reference to the ministry of reconciliation. That is connected with the Lord in His pathway down here. The word of reconciliation referred to in 2 Corinthians 5:19 is what is continued by the apostles and those who follow them, but the ministry of reconciliation commenced from the time of the Lord's anointing.

It has been pointed out already that there are different works attributed to the Son. One of them is creation. Now we have another one here. He is the Reconciler. We might use the word Redeemer or some other word, but here in this passage He is the Reconciler, and just as we were considering how great the Person is who created all things, we are also made to see how great the Person is who is going to reconcile all things to the Fulness of the Godhead.

And it seems that it is the pleasure of the Fulness, the Godhead, to do it. It doesn't say only that the Fulness dwelt in Him but that "in Him all the Fulness was pleased to dwell, and by Him to reconcile all things to Itself". It brings in the pleasure of the Godhead in doing this.

The end in view will certainly be for the pleasure of the Godhead. Some might say that there isn't much evidence of this reconciliation but in fact there is. When we come down to verse 21 we see that those belonging to the Christian company are the first ones to be reconciled and verse 20 brings before us the basis on which all things will be reconciled. "Having made peace by the blood of His cross, by Him…." There seems to be a certain parallel with Leviticus 16, and the day of atonement. The blood of the sin offering was carried in and put on and before the mercy seat, and then, in the same chapter, we have the wide ramifications of reconciliation clearly stated "And he shall make an atonement for the holy sanctuary, and he shall make an atonement for the tabernacle of the congregation, and for the altar; and he shall make an atonement for the priests, and for all the people of the congregation" (verse 33). The basis was laid through the blood being carried in and put upon the mercy seat. I think that is the point we have reached in this world's history. The work has been done, the blood is upon the mercy seat, but the full results of this work await the coming day for their manifestation. In the meantime there is a company on earth who are reconciled.

The things are future, but the persons are now.

Well, only some of the persons, because we know that in the coming day there are going to be many families in the heavens and on earth. In the meantime there is one company who are already in the gain of reconciliation.

It is things first here, things on the earth and things in the heavens. This is connected with the day when the creation will cease to groan and enter into the liberty of the glory of God.

Why is the earth put first?

Well, happily, there is a company on earth who are already reconciled. We are part of that company, the Christian company.

The wonder of it is that company is a predominantly Gentile company. "And you, that were sometime alienated, and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath He reconciled". You Gentiles.

With regard to ourselves being reconciled, it doesn't say by the blood of His cross, it says "In the body of His flesh through death". That is the way reconciliation has been effected with regard to us. Reconciliation brings us out of the condition of enmity and distance that marks everyone by nature. In other words reconciliation hasn't got so much to do with what we have done, as with what we are. It follows that reconciliation is not a matter of forgiveness. There can be no forgiveness for a condition of enmity towards God. The only way that God could take it up was by death, and by the Lord's death we have been removed from the place of enmity and brought into the place of nearness and acceptance before God. Putting it in other terms "Our old man has been crucified with Him" (Rom. 6:6).

We have His blood shed to meet our guilt, and His body given to meet our state. The truth is that God forgives sins but not sin. He had to condemn sin and He condemned it in the death of His own Son.

What has interested me about this subject of reconciliation is that it occurs in the fifth chapter of Romans at the point where the epistle changes from the consideration of our guilt being dealt with, to what we are being dealt with. It is just at that juncture that he brings in the thought of reconciliation. It seems to be a lead into the second part of the epistle.

Strangely enough none of the ten references in the New Testament to the Lord Jesus as Man, using the word, come in Colossians. However, "In the body of His flesh through death" is one of the phrases which affirms that the Lord Jesus became man in order to effect this reconciliation.

Alienation would be connected with our position as being removed from God. But what were we doing there? We were enemies in our minds by wicked works. The early brethren used to speak about "changing our man", and that is what the middle chapters in Romans are about, changing from Adam to Christ. We measure now our position in nearness by turning our eyes to Christ.

And this statement in verse 22 is true of every believer because it rests on the basis of the blood of His cross, His death.

Irreproachable, as Mr. Darby's footnote shows, is "one against whom no charge can be brought". It is very attractive to see the Christian position, that we are holy and without blame and no charge can be brought against us.

It is a settled matter, before our responsibility is referred to.

The Old in the New Explained

Deuteronomy 6:13; Matthew 4:10

"Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve".

The Father had declared the Lord Jesus to be His beloved Son (Matt. 3:17). In the two temptations already considered the devil sought to induce Him to exercise His own power and will, as Son, but He had shown that the Word of God alone was what governed Him. He would not act either for or from Himself, but was true to the subject place which He had taken.

Having failed by subtlety to breach His defences the enemy presses one final line of attack. As the prince (ruler) of this world the disposing of its kingdoms was in his hands* (John 12:31; John 14:30; John 16:11). They and their glory would be given to Him if He would but offer to the tempter that which is due to God alone (Acts 10:25-26; Rev. 19:10). How many in the place of rule had listened to the tempter's voice, even such as had received their place directly from God (Gen. 1:26-28; Gen. 3:17; Dan. 2:36-38; Dan. 3:1-23). What then of the One "born King of the Jews" who was to be "Ruler in Israel" (Matt. 2:2; Micah 5:2)? He was a King of a different kind, of another moral order, and He would neither receive the kingdoms from the enemy's hand or rule over a people that were subject to his rule (Acts 17:7; John 6:14-15). The path which led up to the throne led Him first to the cross, in order that the foundation of the Kingdom might be laid and those redeemed who were to have a place in it (Matt. 16:21-23; Dan. 9:24; Ps. 22:13, 27-29). As the Son of Man He will receive the Kingdom from God Himself, "the Ancient of days", and then the kingdoms of this world will become "the Kingdoms of our Lord, and of His Christ" (Dan. 7:13-14; Rev. 11:15).

{*We are told in 1 John 5:19 that "the whole world lies in the wicked one" (J.N.D. trans.). Because of the fall the enemy has power over mankind, and can appeal to the passions and lusts of the flesh in order to draw away souls after himself (Col. 1:13; Gen. 3:6; 1 John 2:15-17. Of course, he had nothing in our Lord who had a holy, not a fallen, nature). This does not contradict the fact that authority comes from God, from above, or that the powers that be are ordained of God (Rom. 13:17). Those in positions of authority are responsible to God for the proper exercise of the authority which they wield (John 19:11). Nebuchadnezzar illustrates the two sides very clearly, though in many ways he was an exceptional case for prophetic as well as other reasons. He received his position directly from God but then became an instrument of Satan in enforcing the worship of the idol which he had set up.}

Once again the tempter's proposal was met with words of Scripture taken from the book of Deuteronomy. The directions given in the chapters quoted from were to regulate the children of Israel in the Land they were about to enter (Deut. 6:1; Deut. 8:1; Deut. 9:1). They are warned repeatedly against the idolatry of the nations they were to dispossess and of the evil practices flowing from that idolatry (Deut. 6:14-15; Deut. 7:4-6; Deut. 7:16; Deut. 7:24-26; Deut. 8:19-20). They could have no self confidence in this matter since the worshipping of the golden calf that Aaron made had already shown the propensity of their own hearts (Deut. 9:4-21; Ex. 32). Is it not striking that the very next chapter speaks of the ark of shittim wood and of the two tables of stone placed within it (Deut. 10:15)? The ark speaks of Christ, who could say "Thy law is within My heart" (Ps. 40:8). He had set Jehovah continually before Him and would have no other gods as His God (Ps. 16:4, 8; Ex. 20:3; Deut. 5:7).

In calling upon the Lord to fall down and worship him Satan had unmasked himself (Isa. 14:12-14). What a contrast he presents with the One before whom he stood (John 6:38)! The Word of God having been given in answer, the one who, though a creature, sought the place of God, is dismissed by the One who, being God, had become a Man.


From Our Archive

"The Morning Star"

The Heavenly Call

(Continued from page 239; this paper completes this series)

We have spoken of Peter's confession of Jesus as the Christ, THE SON OF THE LIVING GOD, and noticed how it was the occasion of the Lord's first intimation of what the church was to be, and the divine basis of all subsequent revelation as to the church in its varied aspects. We have also traced rapidly the place that same confession had in Paul's preaching and in his epistles. But the epistle to the Hebrews demands some further examination.

It is this epistle which particularly unfolds the "heavenly calling" of the saints during the present economy of grace, and thus distinguishes them in more than one respect from all those who went before. Of these latter, Abraham was the great example: first as to the character of his faith, which is the same in principle for all believers of every dispensation (Rom. 4:3); secondly, as to his call "to go out" to another land, and the maintenance of the pilgrim character even in the land to which he went. That has also a spiritual application to believers of the present day; but considered as history, it is just there that we learn the contrast between the Old Testament saints and the church of Christ. Abraham's call was earthly, that is, out of Ur of the Chaldees to Canaan, on reaching which he built his first altar (Gen. 11:31; Gen. 12:57; Heb. 11:8-9). Our calling is heavenly from the start, and is maintained in principle by a heavenly priesthood. It is well to note also that, in the description of the "mount Zion" and "heavenly Jerusalem," which is set before us for our encouragement, the "church of the firstborn" (saints), whose names "are written in heaven," is distinguished from the "spirits of just men made perfect," which evidently represent the Old Testament saints (Heb. 12:22-24).

In this epistle to the Hebrews, who were well acquainted with the letter of the Old Testament, the Spirit of God everywhere insists upon the Sonship of Christ; the SON is prominent from beginning to end, in all the aspects of His glory which are touched upon. Types abound, of course, but their object is to bring out in every case the marked contrast between the type and the antitype. If this simple fact be observed, the whole of the epistle becomes luminous for the believer's soul, and the most difficult problems are solved. We are exhorted to look off unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of faith (Heb. 12:2), and thus to "run with patience the race that is set before us."

God has spoken in these last days, in the person of the SON, now hidden from our sight, but visible to the eye of faith, and in Him He speaks now "from heaven" (Heb. 1:2-3; Heb. 2:9; Heb. 12:25). All His work of atonement is accomplished, and He now exercises His priesthood in favour of His redeemed. This priesthood is heavenly in character, and is exercised from heaven, yea, the very highest heaven; for as the high priest of old had to pass from the altar in the court, through the holy place, into the holiest of all, so Jesus has passed through the heavens even to the right hand of the Majesty on high, and His glory is set "far above all heavens" (Ps. 8:1; Eph. 4:10). Thence it is that He watches over His own and intercedes for them (Heb. 4:14; Heb. 7:26; Heb. 8:1-2; Heb. 9:24).

Besides this, as High Priest, consecrated "with an oath," which the sons of Aaron never were, He is pre-eminently the SON (Heb. 4:14; Heb. 5:5, 8; Heb. 7:3, 28.) Those who despise Him are guilty of treading under foot the SON OF GOD (Heb. 6:6; Heb. 10:29).

God's purpose is to have "many sons" in glory. Christ had therefore to become the Captain of their salvation by means of His sufferings and death on their account; but having now taken His place "on the right hand of the Majesty on high," He intercedes for and succours all who, through His finished work, are made heirs of salvation. He receives the "children" from God's hand as a gift to Himself, and looks upon them as having a heavenly character in consequence, though they are still waiting till He comes to fetch them to be with Him where He is; but as belonging to that place in glory, He looks upon them as His companions, or "fellows." It is that character which He desires we should maintain (Heb. 1:9; Heb. 2:14; Heb. 3:1, 14). He has Himself gone through the whole course, and is now in heavenly glory, and from the height and power of that glory, He, as the great High Priest, ministers to all who are called to follow Him in the race which He has run (Heb. 2:18; Heb. 4:15-16; Heb. 5:79; Heb. 6:19-20; Heb. 7:24-28; Heb. 8:1; Heb. 9:24, 28; Heb. 10:35-37, Heb. 12:13). "Seeing then that we have a great High Priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession," and "run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus," waiting in patience until He come!

The character and effect of Paul's preaching the "Son of God" (Acts 9:20) is well set forth in the Thessalonian believers, as shown in the first epistle to them, and which was probably the first portion of the New Testament committed to writing. They were "turned to God from idols, to serve the living and true God; and to wait for His Son from heaven." This remarkable change was wrought, and maintained in them in spite of circumstances so adverse that the apostle himself feared that they might have possibly been turned aside by Satan's continued efforts. Being himself hindered from going to them, he sent Timothy to establish and comfort them, and was greatly cheered by the tidings Timothy brought back to him of their faith and love (1 Thess. 3:1-8). That was the occasion of his writing the epistle, not only to confirm their hope in waiting for the Son of God, but also to impart to them a special revelation from God as to the manner of the Lord's return.

Up to that time they had had no news of the way in which the Lord was about to redeem His promise of coming for His saints to receive them to Himself, as He indeed told His disciples before He left them (John 14:13). The early believers of the gospel, including Peter himself, had connected the Lord's return with the setting up of His millennial kingdom (Acts 3:20-21). And consequently the death of some of the converts filled the others with unwonted sorrow, under the impression that the departed ones would necessarily be deprived of their part in the glory they had expected to share in.

Such was indeed a fitting opportunity for the fresh revelation confided to the apostle, for the comfort and consolation of the saints in all time. While confirming the hope of the Lord's return at any moment, and inspiring the saints in their attitude of waiting with fresh spiritual vigour, it directed their thoughts more definitely than ever to the Lord's Person, and to His portion in His saints for time and eternity.

When He returns to this earth, He will bring His saints with Him. That had been already foretold (Zech. 14:5; Jude 14). But how it was to be accomplished was not made known, until it became needful to answer questions which arose out of the difficulties and trials of the Macedonian converts. They had to be assured first of all that the Lord would take His suffering saints, both dead and living, out of this scene, before establishing His kingdom and glory here below; and secondly, that this certainty was to prevent their supposing that the final manifestation of evil and Satan's power had already begun (1 Thess. 4:14; 2 Thess. 2:1-2).

When the Lord left this earth from the mount of Olives, the cloud concealed Him from the gaze of His disciples (Acts 1:9). Similarly, the clouds will hide from the knowledge of this world the taking up of the saints at the Lord's coming "in the air." As far as the world is concerned, their withdrawal from the earth will usher in the darkness of the "night" which precedes its final judgment (1 Thess. 5:17).

The MORNING STAR is indeed the harbinger of the coming day; but it shines in the night with a heavenly glory of its own, which has very little effect on the earth. Those that recognise it, rejoice in it for its own sake. The Lord grant that we may, each and all, be 80 watching, and occupied with Himself that, as we hear in our inmost souls His assurance, "Surely I come quickly," our hearts may respond with the Spirit and the bride, "Even so, come, Lord Jesus!"

William Joseph Lowe (1838-1927)

Book Review

Primitive Christianity by C. E. Stuart, 105 pp., hardback, £8.95 CHAPTER TWO, London SE18 3AF, reprinted 1992

Primitive Christianity — what do we mean? Is Christianity a religion that has gradually developed or evolved from simple, austere, barbaric, crude origins in days long ago to its present splendid maturity and sophistication? Many sociologists might teach this, but not so Clarence Esme Stuart, well-known among the "early brethren" and author of this little booklet originally published in 1868 as a series of articles in "A Voice to the Faithful." CHAPTER TWO has done well to reprint as part of its Classic Facsimile Series this refreshing little study on some of the practical essentials of Christianity as they are presented in connection with the early church in the New Testament.

Divided into eight parts and a conclusion, the booklet begins with a chapter on 1 Thessalonians 1 entitled "The Effect of the Word of God." The work at Thessalonica, Stuart says, "became a pattern or 'type' of what may be achieved by evangelization, and what those evangelized should exhibit." He goes on with simply written, succinct, practical chapters on "The Evangelist," "The Work of the Evangelist," "The Teacher," "Ministering to the Saints," "Remembering the Poor," "The Service of Women" and "The Public Ministry of Women" before reaching his "Conclusion." The chapters abound with practical examples of true Christianity in action, details beautifully drawn together without being wordy. Especially relevant to us today, "The Service of Women" is a lovely summary of some of the many precious contributions women rendered to Christ and in Christianity. It very fittingly precedes "The Public Ministry of Women," which then firmly but constructively makes plain the differences between the areas in which Christian women can serve God and the areas that He in His sovereign wisdom has reserved for Christian men.

Appended to "Primitive Christianity" proper in this booklet is a companion article on 2 Peter 3 entitled "The Sufficiency of the Written Word and the Use of It." Though written years before the pentecostal movement, charismatic movement, or today's so-called "third wave" of signs and wonders, this paper through its solid emphasis on what the Scripture says well counters their unhealthy influence and that of similar movements founded upon people's subjective experiences or the teachings of the founders of new religions. Stuart attacks no one, but underscores positively the completeness of the revelation God has now given us in His Word. He shows that for us as Christians this is in complete contrast to Israel's situation under law, as on pages 93 to 96 he says:

"The written Word of God, as they [Israel] received it, was liable at any time to be supplemented by fresh revelations communicated to a prophet … Such a condition of things … must have tended to keep them looking around to discover who in their midst might be next used to reveal still further His mind. The written Word was then manifestly an incomplete revelation of God's will, though, as far as it went, the people had to give heed to it, and obey it … With us the case is different. With the departure of the Apostles from earth all additions to the Word of God ceased … The proper position of the Church on earth is that of expectancy not of a fresh prophet to arise, but of the Lord Jesus to come at any moment into the air … it is plain such a hope could never be really embraced as imminent, if we might lawfully look for fresh messengers to be sent to reveal still more of His will."

Being part of a facsimile series, "Primitive Christianity" retains the Roman numerals that were standard in Bible and other chapter references a century ago. While a minor nuisance or a potential handicap to a few readers today, these are a small price to pay for an otherwise clearly printed and excellent little book.

Eugene P. Vedder, Jr.