Although necessarily prepared in advance, by the time this issue of the magazine is in the hands of the reader 1993 will be drawing towards its close. We may wonder at the Lord's longsuffering, but know He is “ … not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance”. We can “ … account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation” (2 Peter 3:15, 9). On the one hand the long centuries have seen a full display of the will of man, and the sin that this entails, while on the other God in His grace has been, and is still working. His will, and what it has purposed, will soon be achieved (Rom. 1:21-3:20; Eph. 1:5, 9, 11). Meanwhile, may we have grace to be faithful to our rejected and absent Lord.
…. Finally, we would like to record our thankfulness to the Lord for the help and encouragement He continues to give in this work. We value your prayers that God may be glorified by it, and the believing reader built up.
How Can I Be Motivated?
At a time when human wisdom and philosophy is trying hard to add to or modify the revealed truth of the Word of God, and this kind of thing becomes attractive to many minds, I want to urge every believer with all my heart to spend much time considering the simple, vital facts of Christianity. If we have grown up with the knowledge of these things, our tendency is to take them for granted. We do not take vitally to heart and enjoy the great significance of every detail God has revealed in relation to the person and work of His beloved Son. There is marvellous power in the right appreciation of all these things, power that only a child of God can know.
Take time to meditate upon the wonder of the incarnation of the living God in the lowly person of the Lord Jesus. Though Himself the infinite, eternal, omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent God of the universe, He has become Man, in marvellous grace (Phil. 2:5-7). A Man of perfect dependence and faith, whose every act, word and thought was beautiful for its simplicity, with grace and truth wonderfully blended in every detail of personal life and in His dealing with others.
Think also of the amazing wonder of the willing sacrifice of this Lord of glory, when He was “led as a lamb to the slaughter”. Everything connected with that unique death at Calvary is worthy of our deepest consideration and meditation. There was His humble dignity in submitting to the bitter enmity of mankind against Him, and the more astounding, awful, bearing of the outpoured judgment of God against our sins (the details of our guilt: 1 Peter 3:18) and against sin (the root principle of evil personified as the horrible enemy of God: 2 Cor. 5:21). Consider too that that sacrifice has totally cleansed every believer from his guilt (1 John 1:7), and has liberated him from the cruel bondage of sin (Romans 6:22). This deliverance is not understood by many Christians, though they have perfect title to it, and none of us properly take in the fullness of its significance.
Another matter for our attentive contemplation is that all believers are “accepted in the Beloved” (Ephesians 1:6). Christ is the Beloved of God, who has been raised from the dead and exalted to God's right hand, and “in Christ” every believer is as perfectly accepted and beloved as He Himself is before God. Let us take time to think deeply of His exaltation and our acceptance in Him. Yet let us refuse utterly the common teaching today of “self-love”, “self-esteem”, and “self-worth”. This is merely confidence in the flesh. “In the flesh” man is worthless: “they that are in the flesh cannot please God” (Romans 8:8). But “in Christ” you are of great value to God, for this is a position of absolute perfection.
Connected with this is the wonderful fact of the Spirit of God having come to indwell every child of God in this present age of grace, to give understanding (1 Cor. 2:12) and power (Acts 1:8) for true Christian life and testimony.
How good to be reminded too that Christ is our Great High Priest at God's right hand, who cares for us in perfect grace, preserving believers from danger, trouble and evil (Hebrews 4:14-16). He is also our Advocate with the Father, mercifully restoring us if we sin (1 John 2:1). We greatly need His intercessory work, yet may too easily forget its significance.
Let us also rejoice that not only are individual believers so greatly blessed by these things, but that Christ is “the Head of the body, the Church” (Colossians 1:18). He is keenly interested in every member of His body, and we ought to be too. He has united believers together in a unity that can never be broken, and expects us to act on this established truth, having real love for His assembly, and understanding the significance of all that is involved in His headship of the body.
What sweet meditation too may be ours of the promised prospect of the coming of the Lord Jesus (John 14:3). This should be just as real to us as those things that are already accomplished facts, for it is just as certain. Its significance and attendant circumstances may well occupy our grateful reflection. If you are not glad to think of welcoming His coming at any moment, then search your heart before the Lord, and have every hindering thing banished, so that you can “rejoice in hope of the glory of God” (Romans 5:2).
In all these simple facts of living truth (and in many more that have not been mentioned here) there is such power as to vitalise and stimulate the believer to wholeheartedly follow and serve the Lord Jesus. We need the pure truth of God for this. Timothy, a young man, was told by Paul, “Meditate on these things; give yourself entirely to them, that your progress may be evident to all” (1 Timothy 4:15 NKJV).
It is clear that at the most we have very little time left us in which to serve the Lord; and to be a true witness for Him we ought to know well the facts concerning which we witness.
The Life of David (7)
The Throne of David
(Continued from page 157)
The Prophecies (2). Isaiah 9:6-7
The passage in Isaiah 9:6-7 presents in superlative language the deity, glory and greatness of great David's greater Son. He will sit upon His throne for a thousand years. His kingdom will not deteriorate or be destroyed by enemies. It will not disintegrate because of internal dissension. When the thousand year period is completed the kingdom in power and glory will be handed over to God, that God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, might be all in all. The sons of David never handed on to their successors a kingdom of power and glory. But the Lord Jesus, the Son of God, will give the kingdom to God intact and in power, a marvellous indication of His righteous reign for God, Israel and the Nations. The church will have the wonderful privilege of sharing the administration of the Son! (1 Cor. 15:24-28). In Revelation 5:12 power, riches, wisdom, strength, honour, glory and blessing are ascribed to the Lamb, who is also the Lion of the tribe of Judah. These features will be manifested in the kingly rule of the Lord Jesus in that day to come.
If it were possible for a man to arise who would solve all the problems that afflict mankind, he would be a wonderful man indeed. That is a forlorn hope. The reason is sin. No plan of man's has ever taken into account the awfulness of sin active in fallen nature. No legislation has ever succeeded in curbing its power, not even the law given to Israel by Moses at Sinai. Sin, operating as greed for power, selfishness, greed for money and fame, has wrecked every good intention, even of sincere men. But Christ dealt with the evil principle of sin when He became the sin offering on the cross of Calvary. Because He satisfied God about His hatred of sin, and has enabled sinners to return to God and be forgiven, He is morally qualified to be the ruler of the world and to rule in righteousness. Poor mortal man cannot bring the world into a state of peace and blessing. But the Man whose Name is Wonderful will accomplish the wonders that are necessary to make the world a fit place to live in. Many people were affected by the wonders that the Lord Jesus accomplished in His pathway. Death, disease, demons and the elements were all subject to Him. Such demonstrated power caused wonderment in those who saw it. The miracles accomplished by the Lord Jesus as recorded in Matthew chapters 8 and 9 are often referred to as “the powers of the kingdom”. It is a little picture of what will take place in the kingdom. (Isa. 35:5-6). A wonder has been described as “A marvel which man's senses are unable to understand”. God has displayed His wonders in judgment. Read Exodus 3:20; Exodus 15:11; Deut. 4:34; Deut. 6:22; Deut. 26:8. The Lord Jesus, who is Jehovah, will execute judgment on Israel and the Nations before He introduces His positive blessings. It is a divine principle, since sin came into the world, that judgment precedes blessing. The One whose Name is Wonderful will work wonders in judgment and blessing. See Psalm 77:14; Psalm 86:10; Psalm 136:4; Job 37:14-16. Prior to the kingdom being set up there will be many attempts by Satan to deceive mankind by lying wonders. These will be swept away in judgment. Divine power and blessing will follow. To read about Satan's attempts read Matthew 24:24; Mark 13:22; 2 Thess. 2:9; Rev. 13:13 and Daniel 8:24.
This word has various meanings: to guide, to advise, to plan, and to purpose. How important it is that the One who is to sit on David's throne should have this Name and all the qualifications that go with the Name. He will be able to guide perfectly and to advise perfectly, and to plan and purpose perfectly. Such a Ruler will have an astounding and transforming influence over the whole earth. The instability and uncertainty of our times is an indictment of man's unhappy failure in government. Praise God that we have a prophecy like Isaiah 9:6 which focuses our attention on a Counsellor who will be able to implement His plans and purposes. In Isaiah 11:2 the Branch out of Jesse shall have the Spirit of counsel and might. His counsel will be given and received in the power of the Holy Spirit. Christ is the power and the wisdom of God (1 Cor. 1:24). The whole passage in Isaiah 11:1-10 is a beautiful and majestic picture of the coming kingdom under the Seed of Jesse. Psalm 73:24 gives the principle of guidance connected with counsel, “Thou shalt guide me with Thy counsel”. Proverbs 20:18 tells us that “Every purpose is established by counsel”. The exquisite language of Isaiah 46:9-10 should be quoted “I am God, (El: the Mighty One) and there is none else: I am God, and there is none like Me, Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure”. All these references, and there are many more of like character, create confidence in the rule of the Seed of David who bears the Name Counsellor. He will have the wisdom, and the power to effect His wisdom, in His reign of blessing.
The Mighty God
This Name of the Messiah indisputably denotes the deity and the omnipotent power that belongs to such a glorious Person. It is in the middle of the five features of the Name of David's greater Son. It guarantees that illimitable power will be available to Him to effect all that the other features represent. “There be god's many”, wrote the apostle Paul, but for the intelligent Christian there is only one living and mighty God (1 Cor. 8:5-6). Dagon, the fish god of the Philistines, was humiliated beside the Ark of God. The gods of Egypt were impotent in the presence of Jehovah's power (Ex. 12:12). Baal and his worshippers were ridiculed by Elijah on mount Carmel (1 Kings 18:21-39). But someone might say “The title The Mighty God is connected with a man, David's seed, who will sit on David's throne. Can a man be The Mighty God?” The answer is an emphatic “yes”. The Man who will fill David's throne is God. The Old and New Testaments bear witness to this fundamental truth. In Micah 5:1-2 the prophet wrote that the ruler who would come from Bethlehem Judah was One whose goings forth are from of old, from the days of eternity. Zechariah prophesied that the coming Shepherd who was to be smitten would be none other than Jehovah's Fellow (Zech. 13:7. See also Mark 14:27). A careful comparison of Isaiah 6:1-5 with John 12:37-41 will reveal that the King, Jehovah of Isaiah 6, is the Jesus of John chapter 12. Three times in the book of Isaiah Jehovah is called the First and the Last (Isa. 41:4; Isa. 44:6; Isa. 48:12. There is a slight difference in Isaiah 41:4). Three times in the book of Revelation the Lord Jesus is called the First and the Last (Rev. 1:17; Rev. 2:8; Rev. 22:13). Compare Exodus 17:9 with Matthew 1:21 (Mr. Darby has a footnote to Ex. 17:9, “Joshua — Jah the Saviour, called Jesus in Greek”). The Jehovah the Saviour of the Old Testament is Jesus, Jehovah the Saviour of the New Testament. In the New Testament the testimony to Jesus being God is abundant and plain. Jesus the Word, is God (John 1:1-4). That unequivocal testimony should be quite sufficient for any unbiased reader. So called “Jehovah's witnesses”, who do not believe that Jesus is God, have attempted to alter the accepted Greek text of this passage to support their denial. Competent scholars have exposed their errors. The Jews were in no doubt that when the Lord Jesus claimed that God was His Own Father He was claiming equality with God (John 5:17-18). When Jesus said, “I and My Father are One” the Jews attempted to stone Him. They accused Him of blasphemy and that He was claiming to be God (John 10:30, 33). Thomas, the doubting apostle, addressed the Lord Jesus as “My Lord and My God” (John 20:28). The Lord Jesus didn't rebuke him, as the angel rebuked the apostle John (Rev. 22:8-9). Jesus is God, but the angel was a creature. Paul worshipped the Lord Jesus in his doxology in Romans 9:5. Christ is God blessed for ever. The fulness of the Godhead was pleased to dwell in Him, the Son of God (Col. 1:19. See also 2:9). That could never be said about a creature. Jesus existed in the form of God and did not grasp to be on an equality with God. He is God (Philip. 2:6). This is the great contrast between the first man and the second Man. The Lord Jesus is the great God and our Saviour who is to appear in glory, the Son of God (Titus 2:13; Heb. 1:7-8). Peter refers to the Lord Jesus as our God and Saviour Jesus Christ (2 Peter 1:1). John ends his first epistle as he began his gospel, with a clear testimony that Jesus is God: “We are in Him that is true, even in His Son Jesus Christ. This (He) is the true God, and eternal life” (1 John 5:20. See also John 17:3). The Lord Jesus is referred to as the Image of God (Col. 1:15; 2 Cor. 4:4). He is never referred to as being in the likeness of God for the simple reason that He is God. A humble contemplation of these Scriptures will provide substance in the soul for worship. What a glorious Man to sit on David's throne. The Mighty God, possessor of omnipotent and irresistible power, will subdue all things to Himself (Philip. 3:21).
THE FATHER OF ETERNITY; THE FATHER OF THE AGE; THE EVERLASTING FATHER.
It must be obvious to intelligent believers in Christ that the Name Father connected with David's seed has no connection with the New Testament revelation of God as Father. The Father is not the Son and the Son is not the Father. Divine Persons cannot be separated but they can be distinguished. We must try to find out what the term Father means in this context.
In Mr. G. V. Wigram's Hebrew and Chaldee concordance the Hebrew word for everlasting is rendered in different ways. Forty one times it is given as “for ever”, twice as “everlasting”, (including the reference here in Isaiah 9:6), and once each as “eternity”, “world without end”, “of old”, “perpetually” and “evermore”. “For ever” seems to be the main idea of the word. Understandably, the context governs its usage. It might be correct to say that for the duration of the one thousand years reign David's Seed will have the character of Father towards Israel and the Gentile nations. In Genesis 17:4 Abraham was promised to be a father of many nations. They could trace their descent from him. In the world to come many nations, along with Israel, will be brought into blessing through the reign of the Lord Jesus (Psalm 72:8-11). “Blessed be Egypt My people, and Assyria the work of My hands, and Israel mine inheritance” (Isa. 19:25). The Son of David will be the originator, the Father, of their blessings. In Genesis 45:8 Joseph is described as a father to Pharaoh. This suggests that he cared for the king's interests: he would advise him, and administer his affairs. Is it unreasonable to believe that the Seed of David will fulfil a similar function for Israel and the Nations? In Job 29:16 Job described himself as a father to the needy. The poor and helpless in the kingdom to come will be helped by the Lord Jesus (Psalm 72:12-14; Isaiah 61:1-2). Perhaps the most interesting reference is in Isaiah 22:21. Eliakim, a type of the Lord Jesus, is prophesied to be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and to the house of Judah. The key of the house of David will be laid upon His shoulder, and government and a throne of glory are to be given to Him. The reference to father would involve protection, provision, love and care. The Lord Jesus, great David's greater Son, will provide all these things when He sits on the throne of His father David. The father character of the Son of David will provide a most impressive array of qualities for the blessing of all concerned. Nor must we forget fatherly discipline when required. The Originator of blessing, the great Advisor, Counsellor, Administrator, Helper of the needy, Protector, Provider, Carer and Lover, will guarantee a reign of blessing for ever.
(To be continued, if the Lord will).
Divine Care (4)
The Care of an Apostle
2 Corinthians 11:23-28
The divine care shown by the Holy Spirit is often exercised through those in whom He dwells. Paul was such a vessel. He laboured unceasingly in fulfilling his service, carrying the gospel to the gentiles (Acts 26:20; Rom. 11:13; Rom. 15:15-17; Gal. 2:7-9; 2 Tim. 1:11). This involved great hardship, as verses 23-27 here in 2 Corinthians 11 show. The writer has counted 23 different ways in which pressure, persecution, privation and peril were experienced by the apostle, and the sufferings he catalogues were yet to be added to. We may wonder that Paul was sustained under the weight of these things. It was manifest that the surpassingness of the power that did sustain him was not from him, but of God (2 Cor. 4:7). Yet there was in addition a burden that was greater perhaps than all he writes about up to verse 27: “Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches” (2 Cor.11:28). The writer has found it helpful to consider this verse in connection with the book of Acts and some of Paul's epistles. In AD 581 Paul wrote to the Galatians. They were getting off the Christian foundation, turning from grace to law (Gal. 1:6-7; 3:1). Paul stood in doubt of them and was afraid lest he had bestowed labour on them in vain (Gal. 4:11, 20). He travailed in birth again, until Christ should be formed in them (Gal. 4:19). In AD 59 he wrote his first epistle to the Corinthians. They had not finished with the things of the flesh, but were carnal (1 Cor. 3:1-4). Instead of walking in self-judgment they were puffed up (1 Cor. 4:6, 18, 19; 1 Cor. 5:2; 1 Cor. 8:1; 1 Cor. 13:4). This had opened the door to the working of party spirit, immorality and idolatry (1 Cor. 1:10-11; 1 Cor. 5:1-5; 1 Cor. 10:19-22). There was confusion at the Lord's supper and some were calling the resurrection of the dead into question (1 Cor. 11:17-34; 1 Cor. 15:12). In AD 60, on his way to Jerusalem, Paul had sent from Miletus for the Ephesian elders. He spoke to them about what would take place after his departure: “grievous wolves (shall) enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them” (Acts 20:29-30). In AD 61-62 he was a prisoner at Caesarea and in AD 63 a prisoner at Rome. He was no longer able to help the saints as present among them. In AD 64 he wrote the epistle to the Colossians. He had great conflict for them and for those at Laodicea (Col. 2:1; Col. 4:13, 16). All fulness is found in Christ, but they were in danger of being beguiled and led away (Col. 1:19; Col. 2:9; Col. 2:4, 8, 18). In AD 65 he wrote to Titus in Crete that Titus might set in order the things that were wanting and ordain elders in every city. The saints there were evidently troubled by law teachers, while at the same time prone to display certain features which called for severe rebuke (Titus 1:10-14; Titus 3:1-2, 9). In AD 66 he wrote the second epistle to Timothy. All those who were in Asia had turned away from him (2 Tim. 1:15). The word for care in verse 28 of 2 Corinthians 11 signifies “anxious, distracting care”. In the light of this brief review can we not understand what a burden this care would have been to his heart? What great concern Paul had for each of these and other companies too. There was care for both the young and mature in the faith (the Thessalonians & the Philippians), as well as for those who had never seen his face (the Romans). It was not the burden of care for one church only, great as that may be, but “the care of all the churches”. From the things from without there would have been respite, but these cares came upon him daily. How was he able to carry such a burden? The epistle to the Philippians furnishes the answer (written in AD 64). In chapter 4 he exhorts them to “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:6-7). How well fitted he was, by personal experience, to pen such words! R.F.W.
(To be continued, if the Lord will).
1 The dates given in this article have been taken from the printed notes in the King James translation. They may not be completely accurate, but are not thought to be far out.
“The Sermon on the Mount” (3)
Blessed are the meek (Matthew 5:5)
This is the third “beatitude” of our Lord: “Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth”. Whereas the promise of the first beatitude is “for theirs is the kingdom of heaven”, it is described more precisely here: “they shall inherit the earth”. For the listeners, whose land was under the rule of the Romans, this was a clear indication of the future time of the millennium (see Ps. 37:11).
“Meek” does also mean “kind, gentle”. In the world meekness is often regarded as weakness, and is therefore often thought little of. The recklessness, daring and lack of consideration shown by the successful of this world are more likely to be admired.
Yet the meekness in our passage is not weakness or ingratiating servility. A meek child of God can bear malice and hardness without having bitter resentment, because he knows he is supported by the One who has more strength. He enables the believer to manifest this characteristic of true discipleship.
The perfect example of meekness is the Lord Jesus Himself. He said in Matthew 11:29, “Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls”. Just before, Israel's leaders had called Him a glutton and wine-bibber, and He had to upbraid the cities wherein most of His mighty works were done (Matt. 11:19-24). Even in such a situation He was able to look up and say, “I praise Thee, Father … ”. The Lord Jesus was meek. We can learn meekness only from Him. If we find ourselves in a situation where we are provoked, we can pray to Him “Lord, let me show Thy mind now!”
Moses, the great man of God in the Old Testament, learned meekness form God during his forty years as a shepherd in Midian. When he was young he had in sudden and righteous anger struck an Egyptian man dead who was ill-treating an Israelite (Ex. 2:11-12; Acts 7:23-24). More than forty years later, when his sister Miriam and his brother Aaron opposed him, the Holy Spirit could bear testimony to him, “Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth” (Num.12:3). This meekness of Moses was the result of his education in God's school, but though he was the meekest man on earth he was not allowed to enter the land of Canaan, in contrast to the meek ones in our verse who will inherit the earth.
Let us remember that it is not said that they will acquire the earth, but that they will inherit it. Certain expositors of the “Sermon on the Mount” refer everything to the natural person, and to the present time and world, suggesting that those who act according to what the “Sermon on the Mount” says will be victorious and possess the earth in peace. That is impossible. The Lord Jesus is here talking of true disciples who have accepted Him in truth and follow Him. He is viewed as having accomplished the work of redemption, on the basis of which His inheritance is granted to them as well (see Ps. 2:7-8; Heb. 1:2; Eph. 1:10-11). The inheritance of the faithful remnant of Jews who will pass through the great tribulation, and who will be protected by God, will be the land of Israel in the millennium. Each one of them “shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree” (Mic. 4:4). The inheritance of believers in that glorious day will be more, that is the whole earth, even the whole creation (Heb. 2:7-8). Those who form the assembly will receive and possess this inheritance in Christ.
It might be difficult for some Christians to understand that they are on the side of the Victor and yet often have to suffer or are treated in an unfair way. Soon we will share His position of power with Him. So the Lord comforts the disciples in our verse, as He also comforted the Thessalonians by the apostle Paul who wrote: “Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you; And to you who are troubled, rest with us; when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels” (2 Thess.1:6-7).
The Lord Jesus went this way. In Isaiah 53:7 Scripture says of Him: “He was oppressed, and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth”. But in verse 12 we see the results: “Therefore will I divide Him a portion with the great, and He shall divide the spoil with the strong”.
1 Corinthians 4:5; 1 Corinthians 15:51-58
(A Bible Reading at the Kilkeel conference in May 1993)
We began this series of meditations on the Lordship of Christ in the epistle to the Corinthians by considering that He, God's Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, is the uniting and unifying bond of the fellowship into which we have been brought. In chapter 1 we considered His personal dignity, His essential deity, the reality of His manhood, the perfection of the work that He has done, and the necessity of yielding to His Lordship. After spending some time seeing how the apostle, by the Spirit, was enabled to deal with various aspects of disorder brought in by man, we have begun to see how God's order in the local assembly is established.
That part of the epistle that deals with the establishment of godly order finishes with a grand summary statement: “Let all things be done decently and in order” (1 Corinthians 14:40). Then the apostle comes back to this matter of the wonder of the work that was accomplished in the death of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to consider the implications of His personal, bodily, resurrection.
We did see, when we studied the detail of the first five verses of chapter 4, that a sense of the coming of the Lord is the proper regulator of any service which is taken up under the Lordship of Christ. We saw in chapter 11 too, how there is a special sense of urgency in remembering the Lord in the Lord's supper, because there is only the opportunity “till He come”. Here, in this final expository chapter before the practical salutations in chapter 16, we find that the apostle again comes back to this matter of the coming of the Lord.
“Behold, I show you a mystery”. There was something coming out in detail which, until the apostle was led to divulge it by the Spirit, had been hitherto hidden.
There was a general understanding of resurrection in the Old Testament. We learn that from Martha's words, for example, in John 11: “I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day” (verse 24). But now there was truth coming out in the New Testament epistles that wasn't known in Old Testament days. In verse 51 the weight seems to rest on the little word “all” — “We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed”. There will be those who are alive on earth who will be changed, but you have to bring into the picture those who have been laid in the grave and who are raised again. The overriding subject of 1 Corinthian 15 is resurrection.
It was stated in an earlier reading that there are four mysteries particularly associated with the apostle Paul. Under the heading of the fourth 1 Corinthians 15 and 1 Thessalonians 4 were counted as one. They are really two parts of the same mystery. The difference between the understanding of resurrection in the Old Testament and the New is highlighted by the expression “out resurrection”. In the Old Testament resurrection was really life again on earth. We will find this lower down in the quotation from Isaiah 25. But it is especially the privilege of the Christian company to know the truth of “out resurrection”. The Lord Jesus was taken out from among the dead and the Christian company likewise will be taken out from among the dead.
Yes. What we are learning about is not selective between believers, but it is selective in that when the first resurrection takes place at the coming of the Lord, it will be out from the mass of the wicked dead.
In verse 12, where the Lord's own resurrection is referred to, and again in verse 20, the preposition “ek” is used, signifying that His resurrection was “out from” among the dead. Paul is telling us here that Christ's resurrection is the pattern of ours. He was raised out from among the dead leaving others still in their graves. When believers are taken out of the grave, those who have fallen asleep, then it will again be a selective resurrection, out from among the dead. In Marks Gospel the Lord used this expression and the disciples didn't understand what He meant (Mark 9:10). It wasn't that they had never heard of such a thing as resurrection, but they didn't understand the Lord's expression, and we have it opened out for us here in 1 Corinthians 15.
You get a little picture of the selectivity of it in John chapter 11, when the Lord said, “Lazarus, come forth” (John 11:43). It was from among the dead.
In the New Testament there are two main words that are used for sleep. Where the word is used in connection with the death of the believer it is clearly an involuntary sleep, a sleep which is induced, as sleep which is caused to come upon one by the power and activity of another. The same Greek word occurs in verse 6, “but some are fallen asleep”, in verse 18, “Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ … ”, in verse 20, “now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept”, as well as here in verse 51, “We shall not all sleep … ” It is used in 1 Thessalonians 4 too: “I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep” (verse 13), “them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with Him” (verse 14), and “we which are alive, and remain unto the coming of the Lord, shall not prevent them which are asleep” (verse 15). The phrase in 1 Thessalonians 4, “asleep through Jesus”, tells us that the death of the believer is no accident (verse 14, J.N.D. translation). The death of the believer occurs as, how and when the Lordship of Christ permits.
It should be pointed out that sleep is connected with the body, and not with the soul or spirit.
We don't find this word for sleep used in relation to the Lord's death.
We have had ministry this week emphasising that there is never any suggestion that the burden or the gravity of His personal death was lessened in any way. While the Scripture speaks of Christ as “the firstfruits of them that slept” as to resurrection, His death and aspects of His resurrection were absolutely unique to Him.
There couldn't be a better figure of resurrection than sleep. Normally if one is sleeping he will awake.
As in natural life we enter sleep with a view to coming out of it in wakefulness, so the believer goes into death with the confident expectation of coming out in life.
The Lord said of Jairus's daughter, “she is not dead, but sleepeth” (Luke 8:52).
Yes. The word for sleep there is the other major word that is used. In general that word is used when the need for moral alertness, as a matter of responsibility, is considered.
“We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed”. When the Lord comes there will only be two kinds of believers, those who are alive, and those who have died. When Paul says “all”, and he refers to those who have died previously, and to those who will still be alive, there is no possibility of any believer being excluded.
This writes off the notion of a partial rapture.
The end of Philippians 3 reminds us of the power that will be exerted in accomplishing this change, “the power which He has even to subdue all things to Himself” (Phil. 3:21, J.N.D. translation). This is a tremendous thing to consider, that the millions of believers who have died, and the millions of believers who will still be on earth, in one moment of divine power are going to receive bodies of glory.
The harvest is guaranteed in quality and quantity by the firstfruits. I came across a good statement some time ago and if you will permit me I'll pass it on. “The sleeper does not cease to exist while his body sleeps. The dead person does not cease to exist while his body is dead. Sleep is known to be a temporary condition. So death will prove to be a temporary condition. Sleep has its waking, so death will have its resurrection”. That seems to sum it up. The apostle goes in to detail: “In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye”. What can we understand by these terms?
It's the shortest division of time that it is possible to conceive. It is a moment, actually even less than that, the twinkling of an eye.
For many years I read this as being the blinking of an eye, but relatively recently I've come to the conclusion that the twinkling of an eye is much more abbreviated. When you know someone well, and the light is falling upon their eyes, you can see just a little change of expression, and then it's gone.
The Greek word for moment is the word from which we get the English word atom. The first letter, a, means “not”, and temnõ means “cut”, so it's a division of time that cannot be further divided. It is an extremely small period of time and that's how long it will take for this change to be accomplished. It might be helpful to put it alongside verses 35 to 38 where we get the sowing of the body. What is sown is bare grain, but what comes up is different. That is a process, and it takes quite a while between sowing and harvesting. Here we get the other side of the picture, where the whole process is compressed into the shortest possible period of time.
Can we just say it's extremely fast.
We need to bear in mind the distinctions given in 1 Thessalonians 4. It doesn't say so here, but it is the Lord who has induced the sleep, and He will wake the saints who are sleeping.
The trumpet here isn't the seventh trumpet that we have in Revelation (Revelation 8:2; 10:7; 11:15). The seventh, the last trumpet in the series in the book of Revelation, is connected with judgment. The trumpet here is rather connected with the voice of the archangel, and the trump of God, in 1 Thessalonians 4.
It may be a reference to the third trumpet in Roman military operations. When they were striking camp the first trumpet signified that they were going to move, the second trumpet called them to get ready, and when the third trumpet sounded they marched.
It is certainly a military term in 1 Thessalonians 4. The voice of the Lord is the voice of the commander.
The alarm has been given, the marshalling has been done, and they're off.
The trumpets referred to in Numbers 10 were silver trumpets, and this is the redemption of the body.
They also blew the trumpets on the feast days as a celebration and a sound of triumph.
The issue of the personal resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ results in victory, and these verses go on to that.
At the end of verse 52 there is a distinction amongst the all, in that there are those who are dead, who will be raised when the Lord comes, while those who are living will be changed. Perhaps the term incorruptible there can be considered in the light of verses 53 and 54.
The end of verse 52 parallels with 1 Thessalonians 4. “The dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain, shall be caught up together with them … ” Here it says “the dead shall be raised incorruptible” and “we”, and I take it that these are those believers who are alive on earth, “and we shall be changed”. What we are reading about will take place when the Lord comes. The earlier verse in the chapter says, “every man in his own order; Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's, at His coming” (verse 23). It is His coming that will bring about this wonderful event.
The hymn we sang at the beginning of this meeting referred to the Lord coming to reign, but what we have here is His coming for His saints.
The coming includes both. We mustn't imagine that there are two second comings. There are two parts to His second coming, but there are not two second comings. In 2 Thessalonians the word parousia is used in connection with His appearing; “whom the Lord shall consume … with the brightness of His coming” (2 Thessalonians 2:8). The word used there for His coming is the same word that is used in verse 23: “they that are Christ's, at His coming”. The word is parousia. It is His presence with the saints.
Would the value of His administration in the church period be demonstrated by the difference between His coming at the incarnation and His coming for the church. When He came in incarnation how few there were who were ready for that, but when He comes at the end, what a tremendous harvest there will be. The value of the Lord's work in relation to His people will be seen.
Yes, and there is a contrast too. Being with Him when He came the first time was very much a matter of personal responsibility for those who lived at the end of that dispensation. Being with Him in His presence when He comes again is not a matter of responsibility, but rather of privilege, and wherever this is referred to in the New Testament it is beyond responsibility. We could never deserve to be in His presence. No doubt there are things connected with His second coming which will highlight how responsible we have been, but what we are considering is not a matter of responsibility.
It is difficult for the human mind to grasp these things because there is an interval of time between the two, between the rapture and the appearing.
If we look at this term presence, it is used of the moment when the Lord Jesus comes for His own, and we are ushered into His presence. It is used of Him when He appears in power and great glory. It is used for intermediate phases and events that we read of in Scripture. We will be with the Lord for ever, but this term presence is used peculiarly for that period beginning with the rapture, and ending with His public appearing, and we need to look at the context to see which particular part or aspect of His coming is referred to.
Titus brings the two of them together: “Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ”.
That's Titus 2 verse 13. You are connecting the “blessed hope” with the rapture, and the “glorious appearing” with that moment when He comes to reign.
The only time that John uses the word parousia is in 1 John 2 verse 28: “And now, little children, abide in Him; that, when He shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before Him at His coming”. That may refer to the judgment seat, a point between the rapture and the appearing, but the whole period is covered by this expression.
When we are ushered into His presence, either by being alive and being changed, or being dead and being raised, that which verses 53 and 54 refer to will have been achieved. We have noticed in previous readings that moral corruption and pollution were rife at Corinth, but having been abstracted from that moral filth, the last touch of corruption to be considered is the effect upon the body. The body is mortal, subject to death, and it is subject to corruption.
So when Paul speaks about this corruptible putting on incorruption, he is referring to the believer's body being raised from the grave. When he speaks about this mortal putting on immortality, he is referring to the believers alive on earth who will be changed. It is exactly the same order as in 1 Thessalonians 4.
A living body is mortal, subject to death. A dead body is subject to corruption.
We ought never to connect mortality with the Lord Jesus. He was not subject to death, but He voluntarily went into death.
And the Scripture says that He saw no corruption, clearly referring to the period after He had died (Acts 2:31).
Clever people seem to change their minds from generation to generation, as to when death actually occurs. Scripture seems to make it clear for the simple believer that death occurs when the immaterial part of the person leaves the material part. Is that correct?
That's right. James says in his epistle, “the body without the spirit is dead” (James 2:26).
When the Lord raised the little girl it says, “her spirit came again” (Luke 8:55).
That's why, when the Lord Jesus went into death He said, “Father, into Thy hands I commend My Spirit” (Luke 23:46).
For the understanding of verses 53 and 54 can we insert the word “body” as understood? “This corruptible (body) … , this mortal (body) … ” This is one of the Scriptures that make it clear that death relates to the physical body.
It will be here in this scene of death that the change takes place. The quotation from Isaiah 25 verse 8, “Death is swallowed up in victory”, really presents a millennial scene. Here in this world of sin and death God is going to triumph. The victory of God will be manifested down here.
Our attention is drawn to that moment before we are taken up to heaven when, in the scene where death has reigned, there will be such a victory that this exclamation can be made.
That is very helpful because resurrection doesn't take us off the earth. It leaves us here and that's as far as 1 Corinthians 15 takes us.
It helps to get death into its right perspective. The triumph is God's doubtless, but we are going to come to the statement “giveth us the victory” (verse 57). We can see that death is completely conquered, and it's our privilege to enter into the victory of God.
I believe that the major subject of chapter 15 is not only the death of the believer, but death itself, and the victory that God will manifest over death. We are used to considering that our blessing is eternal, spiritual and heavenly, and the way we shall be ushered into the enjoyment of that blessing, in the ultimate sense, will be by what is described here. But we need to bear in mind that there will be a full cycle of time, a thousand years, when God will demonstrate His victory over all the opposition that there has ever been: Sin, Satan, death and so on. This will be introduced by a spectacular display of power dealing with death; first of all the death of believers.
The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death (verse 26).
This is why there is such a cry of triumph. It is the beginning of the demonstration of the victory of God.
It is difficult to speak about a progression in this matter, but we could say that 1 Corinthians 15 changes you, but leaves you still on earth. 1 Thessalonians 4 catches you up from this scene, and John 14 introduces you to the Father's house.
That ought to be underlined. In 1 Corinthians 15 we have the change, and in 1 Thessalonians we have the rapture. We have got to see the two to make a complete picture. There may be a very short period between them, but they are dealt with separately in these two passages.
And we have in this chapter “the last trump”, and in 1 Thessalonians 4 “the trump of God”. That's how we can synchronise the two events and know that Paul is speaking about the same period.
We know the Corinthians may have had the letter to the Thessalonians, and they would certainly have known the teaching of it, because Paul wrote it from Corinth.
It says in verse 57 that God has given us the victory, and he goes on to speak about our service, and being immovable in that service. Do you think that in verse 56 the apostle is reverting to the kind of thing he teaches in Romans chapters 6 and 7, and that because of that we have a present victory, and can go on with the service of the Lord? The first statement says, “the sting of death is sin”. The awful stab of sin has brought death into being, but He has triumphed over it. We know ourselves today, according to Romans 6, to be dead to this awful tyrant, that once held sway over us. We also read here, “the strength of sin is the law”, and in Romans 7 this is shown to be what aggravated the sin condition. By His death and resurrection the Lord Jesus has delivered us from the bondage of law.
The victory has been secured, the work has been done. That is past. The time will come when the victory will be celebrated universally. We are intended to live in the moral good of that victory and this gives the energy and the impulse to any work that is done for the Lord now.
It might be useful to add that in verse 57 the word that is translated “which giveth us the victory” is a present participle. This is the character of the God that is before us in the passage. He gives the victory, and I think we are right in seeing the present emphasis.
Any work that is done at the moment is done in the sense of that which God has done, and here we return to where we began. It's not our work, it doesn't even say the work of Christ. It's the work of the Lord, and it's to be done in the Lord. There is the sense that, having been brought into the gain of such a victory, while we wait for the Lord to come, everything that is done is to be done in a proper manner, and for a proper motive, under the Lordship of Christ.
The result of considering this chapter should be that we get on with the work that has been given us to do. In 1 Thessalonians 4 the outcome is comfort. Here it is intended that we should get on with the work of the Lord.
Colossians 2:19. Ephesians 4:16
In the human body joints are mostly for movement. Paul, in the Scriptures quoted above, clearly connects them with supply. The Darby footnote on Ephesians 4 verse 16 tells us that the word supply “has the emphatic article, and the article denotes a known source of supply … Christ, to which the preceding words 'from whom' lend force”. So the question is, how are these two ideas reconciled? In the human body, movement, and with Paul, supply.
Looking at the Greek one scholar offers the suggestion that the expression “joint of supply” may be translated “the joints with which the body is supplied”. This makes easy reading and is also medically satisfying. But is it right? The word for joint in the original is “haphe” and has the basic meaning of touch, or grip, or contact, or point of contact. Keeping the exhortation of Colossians 2 verse 19 in mind, “holding fast the Head”, it is not difficult to see how the spiritual body needs joints — that is, saints who maintain contact with the Head, Christ. In Colossians 2 there are many forces to divert us from Christ: philosophy and vain deceit (rationalism), judaistic religion (ritualism), and oriental mysticism (things not seen), and there is only one safeguard, to hold fast the Head. Likewise in Ephesians 4, where we are exhorted to walk worthy of our vocation, the great end in view is in verse 13: “the measure of the stature of the fulness of the Christ”, i.e., the features mentioned in Ephesians 4 verses 2 and 3. With this in mind we all have grace (verse 7), gifts that operate in the assembly are there (verse 11), but there is also the self building up of the body of Christ (verse 16). All this flows down from the One who died and rose and is now in the position to fill all things (verses 8-10). This is where the joints come in (verse 16). The joints of supply, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, makes increase of the body — its self building up in love. And if this is the exegesis, is it not also true in experience? How refreshing it is for us all, wherever we are, whoever we are, to meet a soul who is in living contact with the Saviour, our blessed living Head. Such a one, consciously or unconsciously, brings Christ home to our souls. They are a source of supply to the whole body, they are a “joint of supply”.
Is there a better expression to convey this truth than the word “joint”? The best I can suggest is “point of contact”, which is directly from the Greek.
Psalm 119 (5)
(Continued from page 138)
2. BETH — HOUSE
The idea this letter gives us is that of a “solid foundation”, the rock on which our house, our lives, are built. In this section of eight verses we have important “foundation” truths. “Beth” means “house”, and occurs in the names Bethel, the “house of God”, and Bethlehem, the “house of bread”. It comes from the root “bana”, meaning “to build”. The numerical value of this letter is two. “B” alone, put in front of any Hebrew word, means “with”, or “in”, and thus has the meaning of “abiding”, “Constancy”.
Verse 9 begins in Hebrew with “Bmeh”, which signifies “With what?” “B” plus “ah” = “Bah”, which means “in her”. As an example see Isaiah 62:4, where God will call His people “Hephzi-bah”. Hephzi means “My delight”, and hence “My delight is in her”. The “ah” ending is usually a feminine ending in Hebrew as well as Arabic.
“B” plus “o”, pronounced boo, means “in him”. Thus the name “Boaz” means “in him is strength” (“az” = strength). We see thus that Boaz is a type of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Section Two: verses 9-16 : “In the Shadows of Doubt”
What is the remedy for doubting? Knowing the truth(s) contained in the Bible. Reading and studying the Bible, and so filling our thoughts with the Word of God, will deliver us from doubting. “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you” (Phil. 4:8-9).
1. The Word of God Purifies
Verse 9: BMEH … “With what …?”
Here is a soul with a question! He has sought to walk in a way that is pleasing to the Lord, but he is conscious of the defiling influences of the world around him. There has been defilement in thought and imagination. Some believers suffer from unclean thoughts or unclean suggestions from the enemy. This young man had been defiled in this way. Now he asks the question: “With what” shall I cleanse my way, my heart, my thought life? This verse gives us the first wonderful fact about the Word: it purifies. There are several New Testament Scriptures we can turn to in this connection: “Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you” (John 15:3). “Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God” (2 Cor.7:1). “Christ … gave Himself … that He might sanctify and cleanse it (the church) with the washing of water by the Word” (Eph. 5:25-26). The Bible gives us light, power and support, but we are responsible to keep ourselves from becoming defiled.
2. The Word of God Keeps
Verse 10: B-KOL … “With all … with my whole heart … ”
This verse shows us that the Word keeps the believer from wandering from the path of obedience. When God's Word is obeyed daily it will keep me from being deceived, and it will purify me from the defilement contracted by having to walk through this world which is so full of uncleanness. “With my whole heart have I sought Thee … ”. We have to be in earnest about it! To rush in and out of the Lord's presence for a little reading and prayer is not what we might properly call a “quiet time”. We must take time to be holy. Notice that the second half of this verse is a prayer: “ … O let me not wander … ”. We have a prayer in verses 5 and 8, and in this verse too. Prayer and Bible study go hand in hand.
3. The Word of God in My Heart
Verse 11: B-LEHVI … “ … in my heart … ”
Someone has said that we have in this verse:
a. The best thing: Thy Word.
b. In the best place: My heart.
c. For the best purpose: That I might not sin against Thee.
What a good thing it is to memorise Scripture, so that we may be able to quench all the fiery darts of the enemy and say, “It is written”.
4. The Word of God in My Thoughts
Verse 12: BA-RACH … “Blessed … ”
This does not mean that mere man can bless God in the sense of imparting something to Him Who is all-sufficient. The sense of the word “blessed”, in the Old as well as in the New Testament, is that He is worthy “to be praised, to celebrate with praises … ”, and thus we acknowledge His goodness, with the desire to glorify Him. The Lord Jesus was that blessed Man on earth, and He could say: “If ye continue in My word, then are ye My disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:31-32).
There are various ways in which we may learn the truth:
a. By faithfully reading and studying God's Word day by day.
b. By the oral ministry of the Word, through God given teachers.
c. By reading commentaries written by gifted and spiritual men.
The Holy Spirit is our Teacher and through these instruments which grace employs, He can teach us the will of God (John 14:26). Let us therefore echo the prayer of the Psalmist to the Lord: “ … teach me Thy statutes”, and remember that the meaning of a statute is “a divine direction to obtain our obedience, and to keep us from disobedience”.
5. The Word of God Upon My Lips
Verse 13: B-SAHPHATI … “With my lips … ”
“With my lips have I declared … ”, the verse begins. The believer may speak in “living echoes of His words … ”, but the Lord must first be able to speak to us, before we can tell others what He has told us. We do well to remember this. Before the Lord Jesus can send us forth “to preach” He calls us first to “be with Him” (Mark 3:14). Perhaps it is good to ask ourselves: “What do I use my lips for?” Surely not for tale-bearing? How we need to pray daily: “ … keep the door of my lips” (Psalm 141:3; Job 27:4).
6. The Word of God is My Joy
Verse 14: B-DEH-RECH … “ … in the way (of) … ”
“I have rejoiced in the way of Thy testimonies … ”. When we remember that the meaning of “testimony” is that which testifies or speaks of Him, of what He is and what we ought to be, we see clearly that the focus is on Him. We rejoice in Him and the way in which He leads and guides us. Is it true that we really delight to please Him and to live for Him? Is reading the Bible a real pleasure for us, or simply a daily duty? How do we profit most from our daily Bible readings? Here are some suggestions that may help. Before we read, we ask for the Lord's help and illumination. When we have finished reading we may ask the following questions:
1. Is there an example in the passage I must follow?
2. Is there a commandment I must obey?
3. Is there any sin mentioned that I must avoid?
4. Is there a promise that I can claim by faith?
5. Is there a new thought concerning the Lord Jesus Christ?
Of course, the list could be added to, but the important thing is that we meditate on what we have read, and take it in.
7. The Word of God for My Contemplation
Verse 15: B-PIK-KOO-DEEMAK … “ … in Thy precepts … ”
Here is a determination expressed: “I will meditate … ”. How important it is to be determined about maintaining a daily Bible study. Most Christians are so disorganised that they cannot find time for Bible study, or rather that is their excuse. We can always find time for something we really want to do! The important thing is that we do find some time each day. The Psalmist wrote: “My voice shalt Thou hear in the morning, O Lord; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto Thee, and will look up” (Ps. 5:3). Here in Psalm 119 the writer continues “ … and have respect unto Thy ways”. It is not enough to be interested and to meditate upon the Word, but this should be followed by putting what we read into practice. To have “respect” is to be willing to obey the Word of God.
8. The Word of God Memorised
Verse 16: B-GHOOK-KAHTAK … “ … in Thy statutes … ”
How important it is that we do not forget what we have read: “ … I will not forget Thy Word”. In verse 11 we saw the need for hiding it in our hearts. To store the mind with the Word of God is the way of victory. It was true of the Lord Jesus that the Word was in His heart. How can the Holy Spirit possibly bring any word from the Bible to our remembrance if we have not first stored it there. Today we say of the computer that it will give you nothing but what you have first stored in its memory yourself! Some Christians take verses of Scripture out of context, Luke 12:12 for instance: “For the Holy Ghost shall teach you in the same hour what ye ought to say”. These believers think this verse means that you do not have to prepare yourself in order to minister the Word of God. They say that no preparation is necessary. I am convinced that the spiritual believer continues in daily Bible study, and that the Holy Spirit prepares him while he stores his mind with the Word of God. Then, when a believer is called upon to minister that Word, the Holy Spirit will bring to his remembrance what he should say. The verse in Luke 12:12 was fulfilled in the apostles when they were persecuted, as we find recorded in the book of Acts. So everything really depends upon our appetite for the Word of God. Our verse says: “I will delight myself … ” The writer of this Psalm certainly gives us a good example to follow. He repeats the fact that he delights in the Word of God at least 8 times: see verses 24, 35, 47, 70, 77, 92, 143, and 174. The young men the apostle John addressed in 1 John 2 are said to “ … have overcome the wicked one … because ye are strong, and the Word of God abideth in you, and ye have overcome the wicked one.” (verses 13 and 14). Notice the activity in verses 15 and 16 of this Psalm:
a. I will meditate.
b. I will have respect.
c. I will delight.
d. I will not forget.
(To be continued, if the Lord will).
The Ark of the Covenant, by Hugo Bouter, published by Chapter Two, price £2.95
This book of 93 pages gives a comprehensive survey of one of the important types of Christ in the Old Testament. Beginning first with the construction of the ark and its meaning for us, its central position in the Tabernacle, it goes on to give an interesting account of its journeys in the wilderness, then in the land where it finds its resting place in Shiloh, the place where the Lord put His Name. Opportunity was missed here to present Shiloh — the Name of the Christ, Genesis 49:10, — as the exclusive gathering centre of the Lord's people, but this truth is touched upon later. After many years, when the priesthood in Shiloh fails, the people lose the ark, but God guards His holiness even when the ark is captured by the Philistines (type of worldly professors). The lack of reverence displayed by the Lord's people when the ark is returned, leads to judgment. The ark rested in mount Zion for a while and the final instalment of the story ends on mount Moriah. Ministry is rarer on this latter part of the ark's history, so one found this part particularly interesting. It is a lesson to the Lord's people who claim to be gathered to the Lord's Name, that His presence is to be treated with the utmost reverence and certainly not taken for granted.
Those Who Love God, by Hugo Bouter, 94 pages, published by Chapter Two, price £2.95
A choice little book concerning the four places in Scripture where the term “those who love God” occurs: namely Romans 8:28-30; 1 Corinthians 2:6-10; James 1:12 and James 2:5. For those who love God, these four Scriptures are presented under the headings 1) God's plan of salvation; 2) God's wisdom; 3) the Life of God; 4) the Kingdom of God.
The book begins by demonstrating who those who love God are — every truly born-again believer. It continues, as can be expected, through a wide range of truth, and becomes a profitable study that will reward the reader.
The Children of God, by Edward Dennett, 205 pages, published by Chapter Two, price £8.95
Really to know God as Father is a great blessing. One of the truths recovered for the enjoyment of the saints in the last century was the Fatherhood of God — not the universal Fatherhood of God which is modern heresy, but the spiritual relationship possessed by all true believers. In these days when we can only walk with a minority of Christians, we should never forget our debt of love to these souls and that the Father's heart is towards them equally.
This book covers quite comprehensively the wonderful privileges, responsibilities and blessings of this family relationship; the purposes of the Father for His children and His ways to bring these purposes to fruition; the felicity of fellowship with the Father and our ultimate Home in the Father's House. All in the family are not in the same stages of maturity and the diversity between fathers, young men and babes is gone into extensively. We recommend this work as a devotional classic.
News from the Field
I am sorry that I have not sent any news of the work for the past two months. I have been tied down attending to the many letters that come, and the other responsibilities of the expanding work here. I thank God for the faithful men He has sent along to help in the work in different parts of India, like brothers Satpal Hans in the Punjab, Anand Prasad in Bihar, Som B. Rai and Hemraj Chettri in Bhutan, Sunil Ghosh in W. Bengal, Bhumeshor Sharma in Manipur, and Daniel Jayaraman in Kerala.
To think that all these brothers were once idolaters and that now they serve the living God and are waiting for His Son from heaven, is an encouragement itself in the work. We can praise God that in all these 6 states we have literature depots from where literature is going out to many precious souls. Many who belong to Christ are receiving sound ministry and large numbers of those who are not Christians are receiving gospel literature. We are seeking to bring out literature in the native languages of these states. We also purchase thousands of Bibles, New Testaments and Gospels from the Bible Society and the Bible League so that we may meet the needs of those who desire the written Word of God in their own language.
Recently we had the joy of having with us our dear brother Daniel Hauber of Canada. We were able to visit Tenali for the opening of the new orphanage-cum-school building on June 15th. There are 65 orphans and 80 day scholars in the school. Please pray that the facilities that the Lord has provided may be used for the blessing of many young hearts.
From Tenali we went to Calcutta and were able to visit brother Sunil Ghosh in his village Jiarah, which is 40kms outside Calcutta — a 2 hour journey by taxi. We are always amazed when we go to Calcutta at the needs there. In a letter it is difficult to explain the conditions under which people live in this city of about 12 million souls. To see the dirt and filth and poverty makes one think about what deliverance there is for these precious souls. In our hearts we realise that the only hope for these souls is the gospel of Christ.
Finally, we were able to visit the saints in Phuntsholing, Bhutan, and then the refugee camps in Nepal. It is always a joy to meet these dear saints, who are living under such uncertain conditions, but are always rejoicing. They also long to hear the Word of God and seek with diligence to obey what they have learnt. Brother Som Bahadur shared with us how the believers were warned that they should give up Christ or be expelled from Bhutan. Brother Tashi, an ethnic Bhutanese believer, also shared how his boss told him that Christians are going to be expelled from Bhutan. We do not know whether this will actually happen, but to see how these dear saints press on encourages and challenges us.
The conditions in the refugee camps are much better now, but the heat was unbearable. Schools and medical facilities are now open and young and old are encouraged to go to school. Because none of them have work they do not have any money in their hands. In this modern age can we imagine life without money? We can praise God for what the relief organisations are doing for these needy people. We were able to take funds to help the saints who are in fellowship, but our hearts ached when we thought about other refugees who we could not help. The believers meet every day in these camps to read the Bible and pray, and we thank God for some young brothers who are visiting the believers in the different camps. As the camps are not close to each other, the young brothers can travel from camp to camp only if they have money, so we are sending them funds for purchasing 15 bicycles, which will be distributed in the camps. Our hearts were touched by the lives of these dear ones, who seek to witness for Christ in the camps. They can identify with each other as they have all lost everything in Bhutan. They can share with their neighbours that only Christ can fill and satisfy the heart, in spite of their circumstances. Brother Yohan and I are planning to go again to the camps in August, as we still have to visit 2 camps we have not visited so far.
Overall our hearts were encouraged to see how this work is growing, but we also feel the responsibility to lay a good foundation, and for this we need wisdom from above. We thank you for your prayers which mean so much to us
We send love in Christ to you and your dear ones, and the saints in the assembly,