"Wholesome Words, Even the Words Of Our Lord Jesus Christ"

1 Timothy 6:3.

"Never man spake like this Man." John 7:46.

"All bare Him witness, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of His mouth." Luke 4:22.

Not only did that which was spoken by the Lord Jesus Christ partake of the character of grace, and truth, and wisdom, at which men marvelled, but, being a divine Person, the very form of language in which His blessed communications were cast, was divinely perfect. Language with Him was what it could not be with any other, viz., the vehicle by which He perfectly conveyed what He desired to communicate. Prophets of the Old Testament, and apostles of the New, though themselves failing men, were also divinely guided and divinely guarded in their writings. "Holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost." (2 Peter 1:21.) In like manner an apostle could lay claim to speaking, "not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth." (1 Cor. 2:13.) And, further, he urged Timothy to "hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me," and again he could write of those things which he taught as "wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ."

The utterances recorded in the Word of God being thus safeguarded as to their divine accuracy, in the very language employed, on our side the responsibility is twofold.

First, that ministry should be in terms of Scripture; interpretation not being so much what is needed, as the spiritual application of terms that are divinely accurate in themselves. The word "interpretation" does not appear to stand anywhere in Scripture in connection with ministry, though frequently found in relation to visions, dreams, languages, or proverbs.

Christendom has suffered for centuries from the insistence by some of a title to interpret Scripture, with disastrous consequences to the individual and to the Church of God: meanings have been read into, and out of, large portions of the Word of God which the terms of Scripture themselves, in the passages concerned, do not authorise or clearly express.

Hence, the servant's responsibility in ministry is to enforce, and spiritually apply, according to the measure of his own discernment, the language in which the divine mind is expressed, a course which both vindicates the accuracy of inspiration and relieves the servant from any possible charge of arbitrary interpretation of the Word of God.

Secondly, the responsibility, as well as the safeguard, of those to whom ministry is addressed, consists in the acceptance of that only which clearly applies, and jealously adheres, to the terms of Scripture.

The facility with which divine words may be misrepresented, by failure to retain them in the form in which they were delivered, is brought before us in a very remarkable and striking manner in John 21:21-23, on the occasion on which the Lord said to Peter, "If I will that he (John) tarry till I come, what is that to thee?" These words came to be interpreted "among the brethren" as meaning, "that that disciple should not die." To the natural mind, this appeared to be the only conclusion from the Lord's words, and their absolute equivalent. But, jealous of the exact words in which the communication was made, yet leaving the meaning of those words undetermined, the Holy Ghost's comment, which amounted to grave rebuke, was, "Yet Jesus said not unto him" (Peter, perhaps pointing to where responsibility lay) "He shall not die; but, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee"; thus recording again with something more than a correction, the precise words which were uttered by the Lord, and emphasizing once and for ever the importance attaching to the unaltered words in which truth is divinely recorded.

"The sincere milk of the word" is thus, and only thus, furnished for the "babes," i.e., the nourishing element of clear and unmistakeable truth in terms of Scripture; and "strong meat" for "them that are of full age" is dispensed and distributed, as with the disciples to the multitude, in the form in which they received it from the Lord, and for us in "wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ," which are life-giving, health-giving, and health-sustaining. M. C. G.

"The written word is the rule which God has given, containing all that He has revealed. It is complete (Col. 1:25). It can, because it is the truth, be the means of communicating the truth to a soul. The Holy Ghost can use it as a means; but at all events it is the perfect rule, the authoritative communication of the will and the mind of God for the assembly."