Truth & Testimony Vol. 1 No. 5, 1991.

Contents

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.

Editorial

By the time this issue of Truth and Testimony is in the hands of the reader the new year will have begun. As it does so it affords the editors' opportunity to express their thankfulness to the Lord for the help He has been pleased to give thus far in connection with this project. We have been encouraged by the interest which the magazine has generated and hope you have found the contents stimulating and helpful. It continues to be our desire that wholesome and digestible spiritual food may be set before the believing reader and we value prayer to this end. It remains to mention the matter of subscription to the magazine for 1992. If the Lord will it is intended that Truth and Testimony will be published bimonthly from this issue onwards. There will be no subscription charge as such, though any wanting to make a contribution will find the approximate annual cost of producing and posting a copy of the magazine on the inside back cover. It would help administratively if everyone who would like to receive the magazine in 1992 would return the form at page 110 as soon as possible.

The Editors.

Partial Obedience

"For whosoever shall keep the whole law and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all" (James 2: 10).

So often we hear people say: "I have done my best. God can surely accept that. None of us is perfect." This seems quite reasonable to men as a whole, but we know that Adam and Eve transgressed the only commandment that God had given to them, and death entered into the world.

Centuries later the children of Israel, in their desire to be "like all the nations" (although this was contrary to God's intentions, since He had chosen them to be a peculiar people for Himself), came to Samuel with the request for a king, who would fight their battles and judge their cause. In spite of Samuel's warnings, they persisted in their demand: "Nay; but we will have a king over us" (1 Samuel 8: 19).

We know how the newly-appointed king appealed to the people. He was tall and handsome, and even modest and self-effacing at first, but he had to be put to the test. Samuel came to the king, and reminded him that it was a divine commission that had put him on the throne. Now he has another message direct from the Lord Himself. God remembered how the Amalekites had laid wait for the children of Israel on their way from Egypt. Now this guilty nation had to be punished. Samuel's message was clear:

"Hearken thou unto the voice of the words of the LORD."

Nothing was left to Saul's imagination. Amalek had to be exterminated, and nothing was to be left over to remind the nations round about that Amalek had existed. Not only the men of war, but the whole nation, and even their flocks and herds, were to be destroyed.

Saul went out, and smote the Amalekites, after first warning the Kenites to separate themselves from the doomed nation, since they, at least, had taken pity on the children of Israel when they were attacked by Amalek. Nevertheless, Saul was only partially obedient. He spared Agag, the king of the Amalekites, and encouraged his followers to preserve the best of the sheep and oxen that they found there. We read that "everything that was vile and refuse, that they destroyed," but the best of the sheep and oxen they would not destroy. No wonder God said to Samuel: "It repenteth Me that I have set up Saul to be king: for he is turned back from following Me, and hath not performed My commandments."

Saul was not the only one to be "partially obedient," though really there is no such thing. To be partially obedient is to be disobedient. How often we may think that we are being obedient to the Word of God, when we have only carried out a portion of the clear commandment of God. Other portions of Scripture remind us that "God hath spoken;" "He left not Himself without witness." More specifically we read that He commands all men to repent. To the believer the commandment is given to "love one another," "give none offence," 'seek those things which are above." In each of Paul's epistles, after the doctrinal outline, we have practical directions about putting the doctrine into operation, with such warnings as "lie not one to another," "fathers, provoke not your children to wrath." So often we may dismiss a commandment that comes too close to us by saying: "That is only Paul speaking," forgetting that Paul himself writes: "If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord" (1 Corinthians 14: 37).

Saul seems to have no idea that he had failed in his task. When he returned to Samuel, he said: "I have performed the commandment of the Lord." He expected Samuel to congratulate him on his obedience, but Samuel said to him: ''What meaneth then this bleating of the sheep in mine ears, and the lowing of the oxen which I hear?"

Saul is ready with his answer: "The people spared the best of the sheep and of the oxen, to sacrifice unto the Lord thy God; and the rest we have utterly destroyed." Samuel's response is often quoted: "Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams" (1 Samuel 15: 22). He went on to point out that rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness ("self-will," J.N.D.) is as iniquity and idolatry. For this reason Saul was no longer regarded as the true king of Israel. God had a man in view, David, who would rule over God's people in the fear of the Lord.

Saul, as we read, was ready to confess his sin, and asked to be pardoned, but we read that he "feared the people, and obeyed their voice," thus pleading "extenuating circumstances," as we should call it now, and so he pleaded with Samuel to go with him as if nothing had happened. It is to be feared that Saul was but a "profane person," as was Esau, who sought forgiveness without true repentance.

To go back in history, we are reminded of Aaron and Moses, of whom we read in Numbers 20, when they were almost within sight of the promised land. At the beginning of the wilderness journey, while Moses was in the mountain receiving details of the tabernacle and the worship of God, Aaron, like Saul, listened to the people, and fashioned a golden calf, and encouraged the children of Israel to worship the idol. Moses later tells us how ''the Lord was very angry with Aaron to have destroyed him: and I prayed for Aaron" (Deuteronomy 9: 20), and Aaron's sin was forgiven. When, however, Moses took his rod, and smote the rock at Kadesh, Aaron did not restrain his brother, and so participated in his disobedience. For this reason Aaron and Moses were not allowed to enter the promised land. We understand that the rock was a type of Christ, who would be smitten once for all. Moses had smitten the rock at the beginning of the wilderness journey. At Kadesh he was told to speak to the rock, but he was disobedient. We should think that the idolatry of Aaron was much more sinful than the hasty action of his brother, but again we are reminded that "self-will" is as the sin of idolatry, since we are pleasing ourselves rather than God.

We have been reminded of Samuel's words to Saul: "The Lord hath rent the kingdom of Israel from thee this day, and hath given it to a neighbour of thine, that is better than thou" (1 Samuel 15: 28), but we must not think that David was always obedient to his God. We know how grievously he sinned in breaking the tenth and sixth commandments. We know that Nathan, the prophet, was sent to him with the parable of the poor man and his ewe lamb. When David rose up in wrath at the injustice of the rich man, and said to Nathan: "The man that hath done this thing shall surely die," he heard the solemn words: "Thou art the man." There is no doubt that David was truly repentant, and God forgave his grievous sin, but the history of his reign from that time reveals that this one sin had undermined his influence for good, and given the enemy an occasion to triumph. In the summing up of David's life in 1 Kings 15 we read: "David did that which was right in the eyes of the Lord, and turned not aside from any thing that He commanded him all the days of his life, save only in the matter of Uriah the Hittite" (verse 5). What a sad epitaph! It reminds us of the words of the apostle to the Galatians: "Ye did run well; who did hinder you, that ye should not obey the truth?" (Galatians 5: 7). May it not be with us that our testimony should be spoilt for the sake of being only "partially obedient"! We have proved that the Lord is gracious, but we must not presume on His grace. We know that there was only One who "did no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth." Nevertheless, we are called to follow Him, and we are reminded in the Scriptures that we have been called to obedience. May it then be true of us, as was said of Joshua and Caleb, that we wholly follow the Lord.

R.E.A.R.

The Gospel Explained

ROMANS 1: 16-17

In Acts 20: 18-35 Paul gives an outline of the ministry our glorified Lord had entrusted to him. The gospel (=good message) of God was an important part of Paul's service, which can easily be seen in the following outline of his fourfold ministry:

1. v. 21 (A) repentance towards God and (B) faith towards our Lord Jesus Christ;

2. v. 24 the testifying of the gospel of the grace of God;

3. v. 25 the preaching of the kingdom of God;

4. v. 27 the declaration of the whole counsel of God, connected with the Church (Assembly) of God, v.28.

It is not now my intention to elaborate on these four basic aspects of Paul's ministry, but rather to try to give in this article a short outline of Romans 1: 16-17 and to encourage the Christian reader with these thoughts, by the grace of God.

In the book of Acts the wonderful good news of the grace of God is preached to lost sinners who repent, but in the epistle to the Romans the gospel of God is explained to believers. In other words: we are first brought into the good of it, accepting God's gospel (historical aspect), in order to understand it afterwards (doctrinal aspect). The same holds true for the Church: the believers were enjoying the light and life connected with the Assembly of the Living God first, according to the obedience of faith (Romans 1: 5), before its doctrine was explained to them.

1. WHO IS THE SOURCE OF THE GOSPEL?

God Himself is the Source and Originator of the good news, and the One who takes the initiative for its proclamation (Romans 1: 1; Romans 15: 16). In Romans we find things examined and presented from God's perspective and for His glory; in our days of humanistic indoctrination one has to train oneself to see everything according to God's standards and purposes.

The gospel of God is sometimes called the gospel of Christ, because it comes from the glorified Man Christ Jesus, and He is also the Theme of the gospel (see point 10). A similar thought we find with regard to God's judgment seat: it is the judgment seat of God as well as of Christ (Romans 14: 10; 2 Corinthians 5: 10).

Paul identifies himself with this gospel of God and Christ and the grace of God, and says it is "my gospel" (Romans 2: 16); he was God's instrument for the revelation and communication of the gospel as connected with Christ in glory.

2. WHAT IS THE NATURE OF THE GOSPEL?

It is the power of God to salvation! The Greek word for power is the same from which our word dynamite is derived. In Romans we see how God blows away, as it were, all arguments, excuses and reasonings (Romans 1: 20; Romans 2: 1; Romans 3: 19f), which should lead man to repentance (see point 1 of the introduction). Then we see how the power of God brings in Another Man, in whom we may put our trust. In 1 Corinthians 1: 18 the word of the cross is God's power to those who are saved; here we notice again the removal of the first man, in order to introduce the Second Man. Paul's message was brought in the same power of God (1 Corinthians 2: 4). In Ephesians 1: 19 we read about the exceeding greatness of the power of God, the Father of glory, which He wrought in raising Christ from among the dead and in giving Him a place at His right hand in the glory. This same power is operating in dead sinners to bring them to life and in giving saved sinners even now a heavenly position in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2: 5f). All through the power of God and for the glory of God, blessed be His Name!

3. WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF THE GOSPEL?

The epistle to the Romans is as it were a systematic study of God's righteousness, showing that God is perfectly righteous in declaring a repentant sinner righteous, i.e. in imputing God's own righteousness to him. Do you realise what this means? It means that God declares the repentant sinner as righteous, as Christ now is in the glory, after He had taken the sinner's place before a righteous and holy God (NOTE: the book also shows God's righteousness as Judge in condemning unrepentant sinners, placing themselves under God's wrath).

In other words the gospel is the declaration of God's righteousness in saving repentant sinners and clothing them in the garments of righteousness, an impeccable justice, as Christ now has in the glory. Therefore, it is also the gospel of the grace of God (Acts 20: 24) and the gospel of the glory of the blessed God (1 Timothy 1: 11).

In the scope of this article one cannot discuss the different aspects of salvation, but I suggest that Romans 18 gives a systematic overview, covering a considerable part of the truth of salvation, in three points:

1. justification; God's righteousness imputed to repentant sinners;

2. sanctification; God's righteousness lived out in called saints;

3. glorification; God's righteousness displayed in glorified sons of God.

In other words salvation in its past, present and future aspects. The gospel presents this wonderful message, according to God's sovereign grace, of the power of God working today in repentant sinners for salvation. The gospel not only declares this purpose,

but it also shows at the same time the outcome. the result power of God working through the good news for salvation.

4. WHAT IS THE SCOPE OF THE GOSPEL?

God's good news is for everyone who believes. On the basis of the accomplished work of our Lord Jesus Christ, to the full satisfaction of the holy and righteous God, the glad tidings can go out to the whole world. This letter shows how the entire human race is guilty towards God, and beyond recovery (the depravity of man), so that there is no difference from a judicial and moral viewpoint between races, nations, Jews or Gentiles. "For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God" (Romans 3: 23). All are condemned, (NOTE: although the actual execution still waits; after death there is no change possible any more, because opportunities for repentance are gone; the final execution takes place at the great white throne, Revelation 20), and stand as it were on the same basis before God, so that God's message of sovereign grace can come to everyone.

Although the extent of God's outreach includes all men, there is still a difference as to the procedure: first to the Jew and also to the Greek. In the book of Acts we find how Paul put this principle into practice. As long as the gospel is God's power for salvation, this order of procedure is to be respected in the proclamation of the good news. The reasons for this are explained elsewhere, but just think of what the Lord said to the Samaritan woman at the well: ''For salvation is of the Jews" (John 4: 22).

5. WHAT ABOUT THE RECEPTION OF THE GOSPEL?

We have seen the universal scope of the gospel (to all) but now we come to the question of who are its recipients. The answer is very clear: every one that believes. In the context of this brief summary (Romans 1: 16-17), the apostle Paul indicates very clearly the principles which he will work out in more detail elsewhere in his letter. Dear reader, do you belong to those who have received God's message by faith? Faith is necessary for the appropriation of God's righteousness, see again Romans 3: 22. Consider also the following statement: "If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation" (Romans 10: 9, 10). See also Philippians 3: 9!

6. THE EFFECT AND EFFICACY OF THE GOSPEL.

In connection with the last references I turn your attention to Romans 1: 17. We could ask ourselves the question: how is it possible that God's power works for salvation, that His good news goes out to all and is received by faith by repentant sinners, without any difference in race, position or status? In this summary Paul mentions that in his message of the good news God's righteousness is revealed and applied. Later on we find how this is possible (Romans 3: 21-31), namely on the basis of the once for all sacrifice of our Lord Jesus. These passages answer Job's question how man can be righteous with God. (Job 9: 2) They also explain that this declaration of righteousness which was impossible under the old covenant, is now made possible and makes us acceptable and precious to God. "Him Who knew not sin He has made sin for us, that we might become God's righteousness in Him" (2 Corinthians 5: 21). Blessed effect of His sacrifice, praise God!

7. THE PROCLAMATION OF THE GOSPEL.

Just as the power of God starts a process, which will come to completion at the rapture and the manifestation of the Church (Philippians 3: 21, Philippians 2: 12; Philippians 1: 6), so faith is at work on a continuous basis. We have seen that faith is necessary to receive the gospel, faith is needed for God's righteousness to be applied, and so faith is a prerequisite for the proclamation of the gospel. This is shown e.g. in Romans 10: 4, 6, 8, 10 and 14-18; Romans 11: 20. The reception of the gospel is on the basis of faith, but so is the whole life of the believer from that moment on. What is received by faith, produces faith. This principle of faith rules out all efforts of the flesh (see also e.g. John 1: 12f), and sets aside (morally) the whole system of sight connected with the first man.

8. WHAT IS THE RESULT OF THE GOSPEL?

The result God's good news brings about is something which was already announced in the Old Testament (Habakkuk 2: 4) and of which faith, even then, would lay hold: "The just shall live by faith." Have you already noticed what an important place this principle has in the New Testament and in our lives as believers? In Romans the emphasis would be on just, answering the question "how can a man be just or righteous with God?" In Galatians the emphasis would be on faith, because of the contrast with works of the law (this element plays also a role in Romans, of course). Whereas in Hebrews 10 the wilderness journey of the present people of God is in view, with the emphasis on every day living by faith. (Romans 1: 17; Galatians 3: 11; Hebrews 10: 38).

9. WHAT IS THE CONTENT OF THE GOSPEL?

Although we have a summary of the gospel and an outline of the epistle in Romans 1: 16-17, I would like to call your attention to 1 Corinthians 15: 18, where Paul shares the basic facts of the gospel: the death, burial, resurrection and glorification of our Lord Jesus. We have to study several Scripture portions in order to grasp the doctrinal and practical implications of these four important facts, like Romans 38; Galatians 3; Colossians 2. First of all that we may grasp more of what our blessed Lord has gone through, but also in order to understand our identification with Him.

10. THE THEME OF THE GOSPEL.

We now come to a point with which we might have started our little study, but it is also well to finish with it. The very Centre of God's good news is a Person; not a doctrine, although this flows from Him; not an organisation, although He is the Head of the Church. Yes, the very Theme of the gospel is our blessed Lord Jesus, the great Creator-Redeemer, the Mediator between God and men. Having accomplished His walk and work here on earth, He is now glorified and seated at God's right hand. He is the Eternal Son (Romans 1: 3), who is also David's seed according to flesh, who is also marked out Son of God in power, according to the Spirit of holiness, by resurrection of (the) dead. What can we add to this? Only our worship and praise!

O Lord, Thy wondrous story

Our inmost soul doth move;

We ponder o'er Thy glory

Thy lonely path of love.

(Spiritual Songs 400: 5)

Do you understand now why Paul introduced his subject with these words: "For I am not ashamed of the glad tidings"?

Alfred E. Bouter

(Quotations in this article are from the New King James Version)

From Our Archive

"The Morning Star."

Christ Our Hope.

(Continued from page 66)

In our introductory remarks our thoughts have been chiefly occupied with some of the prophetic announcements of the personal coming of our blessed Lord to this earth. We may say that this is the central truth of the Old Testament from Genesis to Malachi and well it is for our souls if it has an abiding and increasing place in our hearts. None of God's purposes of grace towards fallen man could possibly have their accomplishment without it. Promises and types all converge around that one blessed truth. The New Testament unfolds what was foretold in the ancient Scriptures: it opens with the account of Christ's first coming and closes with the assurance of His speedy return.

Now this hope can only be kept alive and operative in our hearts through the power of the Holy Ghost, by means of the Scriptures (John 16: 13, 14). The Christian is thus enabled to walk here below in a way that pleases the Lord, "being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God" (Col. 1: 5, 10, 27; Col. 3: 4).

The first portion of the New Testament that was written was directed to the Thessalonians, shortly after the apostle's visit to that city. It speaks in every chapter of the Lord's coming. Paul only had the opportunity of preaching to them on three successive sabbath days, before he was driven away by persecution raised against him and his companion Silas. The effect of his preaching was so marked that all the people in the country round about were informed of it, and the report which rapidly spread abroad testified as to its extraordinary results on those who had "turned to God from idols, to serve the living and true God; and to wait for His Son from heaven" (Acts 17: 15; 1 Thess. 1: 5-10).

The method adopted by the apostle in his preaching is clearly indicated in Acts 17: 13. In the synagogues he found copies of the Law and Prophets, which served his purpose. Consequently he sought out the synagogues and proved to the Jews, by their own Scriptures, that Jesus of Nazareth was indeed the "Christ" to whom they bore witness. He it was who had suffered, as it had been foretold, and was risen again from the dead. Numbers believed the message and in spite of the afflictions that awaited them they were filled with the joy of the Holy Ghost.

It will be of the deepest interest for us now to trace out briefly in the inspired record the way in which "the decree," which the Lord Himself was to declare according to Psalm 2: 7, was eventually carried out.

It is so to speak from the earth, sanctified as never before by His blessed presence, that He does so, and according to the terms of the prophecy, in connection with God's settled purpose then and there expressed, "Yet have I set My King upon My holy hill of Zion." God would set His King there in defiance of all the lawlessness which seeks to set aside and tread under foot every vestige of His authority. He finds delight in His Son alone, and the Son, as born into a world alienated from God, says "I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto Me, Thou art My Son; this day have I begotten Thee. Ask of Me, and I shall give Thee the heathen for Thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for Thy possession."

That prayer has not yet gone up to God. Just before leaving His disciples to go to the cross He poured out His heart to the Father and, in commending to Him all His redeemed whom He owned as the Father's gift to Him, He said, "I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which Thou hast given Me; for they are Thine" (John 17: 9). Judgement must be the portion of the world when the Lord returns, as we have already seen, but in the meantime we learn the riches of God's grace set forth in His love to the Son of His own bosom. Jesus would have His disciples know it, and how deep and full are the words which express it: "As the Father hath loved Me, so have I loved you: continue ye in My love" (John 15: 9).

This is our blessed portion now. In perfect accordance with it we find God working in His own way to carry out the promise He made to Abraham. Heavenly indeed was the promise in its character, but in order that it might be so for sinners, strangers to grace, it had to be carried out, in its most important features, on this earth, where alone the antitype of Abraham's offering of Isaac could take place. Isaac bound and laid upon the altar became a vivid type of Christ upon the cross. When he was replaced by the ram provided as his substitute God gave Abraham the wondrous promise, "In thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed" (Gen. 22: 18; Gal. 3: 16). The seed, says the apostle, is Christ. The promise itself was of such importance that it was repeated both to Isaac and Jacob (Gen. 26: 4; Gen. 28: 14), and surely it was to this that Jesus referred when He said to the Jews "Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day: and he saw it, and was glad" (John 8: 56).

Our minds turn instinctively to the earth when we think of the woman's seed, who was to bruise the serpent's head. In doing it His own "heel" must needs be bruised. The word "heel" * involves a walk on the earth. But we must ever bear in mind that the promise made of God to Abraham, after he had seen Melchisedec, turned his thoughts away from earth to heaven. He had previously heard that the Most High God was possessor of heaven as well as earth and the contrast was great between thinking of his future posterity "as the dust of the earth" and his having now to hear them likened to "the stars of the heaven" (compare Gen. 15: 5 with 13: 1517). The former had been sufficient to give him courage to deliver Lot but it needed the visit and the words of Melchisedec in order to keep him from losing the blessing prepared for those who confess that they are "strangers and pilgrims on the earth" (Heb. 11: 13). God was the "God of heaven" as well as of earth and He would be not only a shield to Abraham, but also his "exceeding great reward." God's estimate of the future seed was to be measured thenceforward according to the glory of His own dwelling-place in heaven, rather than by Abraham's path when walking by the sight of his eyes on earth. For journeying from place to place Abraham needed the light of day but God's further communication to him was made in the darkness of the night, when nothing hindered the manifestation of heavenly glory, in the countless stars which testified of God's mighty power and wisdom.

{*It is sometimes translated "footsteps" and it is used in connection with the iniquity inseparable from man's walk on earth in Psalm 49: 5.}

There was at that time no need for any explanation as to how or when God's Word was to have it's accomplishment: the effect to be produced by it was the faith needed for the walk here. Heavenly aspirations were doubtless produced by the words, "So shall thy seed be," but the faith that was formed by God's Word, and that accepted it, is the faith to which justification is attached (Rom. 4: 3, 5, 9).

As it was for Abraham, so it is for us. Faith, righteousness, grace, and glory all go together and "the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost, which is given unto us" (Rom. 5: 1, 2, 5). How blessed to know God in these three displays of His nature, love, glory and righteousness! But for this to be our portion Jesus must die and at His very entry upon this scene say "Lo, I come to do Thy will, O God" (Ps. 40: 78; Heb. 10: 4-10).

Faith and hope are intimately connected and it has pleased God to illustrate both by Abraham's instructive history, the former more especially in the epistle to the Romans, the latter in that to the Hebrews where our heavenly calling is so prominent: "Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen" (Heb. 11: 1).

We can enter somewhat into Abraham's joy as, in the silence of the night, he gazed upwards on the well-garnished heavens and all the stars in divine chorus seemed to answer "So shall thy seed be." The hidden meaning attached to their shining was not needful for enjoying them, it was reserved to the close of the Old Testament canon after the return of the captives from Babylon to Jerusalem (Dan. 12: 3).

But we must follow the line of revelation. Nearly nine hundred years after God's word to Abraham those same stars thrilled David's soul and he was inspired to write of the glory of the humbled SON OF MAN, now crowned "with glory and honour" (Ps. 8).

Yet another thousand years, or rather more, had to pass before an angel brought the heavenly light down amongst the shepherds of Bethlehem, as they kept watch over their flocks by night, to convey to them the wondrous news that the Christ, the Lord, was at length born, that He was a Saviour for them and might be gazed upon in the most humble place of all, a place which, because of their occupation, belonged especially to shepherds. There they saw Him after they had heard on earth the acclamations of the heavenly host going up in praises to the Most High God (Luke 2: 8-20).

Shortly after that, on another night, a new "star" His own arrested the gaze of Gentiles in the East and in that very quarter of the heavens where the sun is accustomed to rise. It was not at that time to usher in an expected day of glory but to fix their attention on the ONE who was coming and to constrain them to undertake a long and dangerous journey to the West, to see the ''little child" who was "born King" in order to "witness to the truth" (John 18: 37).

Their inquiries for the King of the Jews in Jerusalem, His royal city, awakened consternation instead of joy. But the Scriptures had indicated Bethlehem as the place of His birth and when they sallied forth on another night in obedience to Herod's order, "His star" again appeared to direct them to the very house where they found Him. There, in the quiet of the night, they were enabled to worship Him while laying their treasures at His feet (Matt. 2: 11). And they disappeared from the scene returning to their country another way.

In all these cases it was not the glory which belongs to Christ's manifested power on earth which filled the hearts of those that belonged to Him: it was HIMSELF, His own person, who was their all in all. The aged Simeon, directed by the Holy Ghost into the temple at the critical moment, is another affecting example. He had long waited "for the consolation of Israel" but when he took the little child into his arms he was led to see in Him God's salvation and as to himself, in abounding joy, he could say, "Lord, now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace" (Luke 2: 29, 30). Christ was far more to him than all the glory to which an Israelite could look forward.

Such is our present portion while waiting for His return. It is the same for saints still living as for those who are called to rest before seeing the Lord. The great apostle of the Gentiles was enabled, in view of death, to say, "To depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better," better even than serving Him here below and participating in His sufferings in a scene which cast Him out. The "night" is still running its course but believers are "children of the day" and their aspirations and hopes are formed and maintained by Him who, not only prepared and sent His star on a fitting occasion, but who is Himself, for our hearts, "the bright and morning Star." That truth carries our hearts away from earth to heaven, centering them on our coming Lord.

Before the blessed Lord left His disciples He took care to comfort them in their sorrow by the assurance of His return. He had come forth from the Father in order to make the Father known to them and it was needful that He should go back in order to send the Holy Ghost (John 1: 18; John 16: 7, 28). Their grief was great to learn that He was going but He said, "I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you" (John 16: 5, 6, 22). That hope is still the comfort of His saints at the present time. We are still, to use the words of the apostle, waiting "for His Son from heaven" (Phil. 3: 20; 1 Thess. 1: 10).

We are all naturally more disposed to be occupied with the things which will take place at the Lord's return than with the blessedness of seeing Him and being with Him for ever. But if we read the Scriptures attentively we cannot but be struck with the fact that God's thoughts are concentrated on the Person of His Son, in whom and through whom all His purposes of grace are carried out. And He would have our attention fixed there also so that we may enjoy the communion to which we are all called (1 John 1: 3, 4).

The first promise of the Deliverer was given on the occasion of Adam's fall. The main point in that account is He was to be the woman's SEED. She seemed to remember that word when her son was born however mistaken she was as to his character and being also quite ignorant of the time that was to elapse before the Deliverer came. But her words, "I have gotten a man from the Lord," surely show that, for her, the birth of the son was the chief consideration (Gen. 3: 15; Gen. 4: 1).

Again, in Abraham's case, God allowed him to enjoy Isaac for many years before he was called to give him back and it was at that moment that God gave the promise, "In thy SEED shall all the nations of the earth be blessed" (Gen. 22: 18). The promise was connected with Abraham's obedience. Nothing is said as to how or when the blessing spoken of for the earth was to be realised but Jesus says to the Jews, "Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day: and he saw it, and was glad" (John 8: 56). We have too the divine assurance that the SEED spoken of is Christ (Gal. 3: 16).

Later on, David's desire to build for Jehovah a permanent temple in the midst of His people at Jerusalem was answered by God's assurance that such a work, according to God's intention and estimate of it, could only be carried out by his "SEED," whom God would, in the course of time, raise up after him. He alone was competent to carry out the Father's thoughts in the Father's own way. And when He received from Peter the true confession of who He was He intimated a new kind of building, spiritual in its nature, which alone corresponded to the full revelation of the Father and the Son. "On this rock," He said, "I will build My assembly" (1 Chr. 17: 11-14; Matt. 16: 16-18; Rev. 21: 9, 10).

The Spirit of God would keep our thoughts set upon the Person of Christ in whom the Father found His delight. Only so can we really understand any truth affecting ourselves. With such a key for the right intelligence of all prophecy we are not surprised to find that Christ's second coming is in complete correspondence with His first appearance "born" in this world according to the foreannounced fact, "Unto us a child is born, unto us a SON is given." His names, including that of "the MIGHTY GOD," are noted at the same time (Isa. 9: 6). He was born to be seen and believed in when here (John 6: 40; John 9: 35-38). He it is for whom we wait (1 John 3: 2).

All John's gospel carries the heart on from Christ as seen here to the realisation of the blessed hope of seeing Him again. The interval may effectively be treated as a parenthesis.

A parenthesis is a sentence enclosed between two curved lines in the course of a larger one treating of any particular subject. Though needed for the better understanding of the matter in hand it may, if convenient, be omitted and the sense is not interfered with. The connection between what preceded it and the words which follow it is left unimpaired.

Now this is precisely what we find as to God's ways with the earth and more particularly with His chosen people Israel. His thoughts as to them are unchanged in spite of their being for the time "Lo-ammi," that is, "Not my people" (Hosea 1: 9; Hosea 2: 23; Hosea 3: 4, 5). His thoughts about them are set forth by Moses and by David; they had been taken out from among the nations, separated to God, to be on condition of their obedience His peculiar people (Ex. 19: 5, 6; Deut. 4: 7, 8, 20, 31-38; 1 Chr. 17: 20-22). But they, like Adam, disobeyed (Hosea 6: 7) and they lost their land. Notwithstanding that, after the Captivity, a remnant returned to it and in process of time the promised Messiah was born (Dan. 9: 25). But Christ found them as rebellious as ever. On the way to the cross He wept over Jerusalem and had to leave their house "desolate" (Matt. 23: 37, 38).

On God's side we always find His faithfulness to be unchanging (Ps. 89: 33). Christ came to those that were peculiarly "His own" but "His own received Him not" (John 1: 11). As said the prophet, they smote "the Judge of Israel with a rod upon the cheek," and were in consequence "given up" (Micah 5: 13). Rejecting the counsel of God against themselves and despising their own mercies, they crucified the Son of God and put Him to an open shame (Jonah 2: 8; Matt. 12: 41-45; Luke 7: 30; Heb. 6: 6). Nevertheless Paul, while weeping over them and still praying on their behalf, found comfort in the fact that "the gifts and calling of God are without repentance." He called to mind that "the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises" all belonged to them as God's special gift; the "fathers" too were theirs and of them, as concerning the flesh, "Christ came" (Rom. 9: 45; Rom. 11: 29). All that remains true and God will never forget it, but it is also true that they killed the Prince of Life, whom God raised from the dead (Acts 3: 15).

That act never could be undone. They refused the light, and darkness came upon them: Jesus "did hide Himself from them" (John 12: 35, 36). He never showed Himself to any but His own disciples after He had been laid in the tomb. All distinctively Jewish hopes lay, so to speak, buried there and there they must remain until His earthly people shall say as to Him in a day still future, "Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord" (Matt. 23: 39). When He was here they said, "We will not have this man to reign over us" (Luke 19: 14).

In that coming day they will indeed look on Him whom they pierced and will mourn for Him as for an only a firstborn son (Zech. 12: 10; Isa. 66: 7, 8). But between these two moments of their final rejection of Christ and future reception of Him intervenes the parenthesis we speak of. When it is over the thread of their history will be resumed in connection with the accomplishment on earth of the promises made to Abraham.

The Lord however did not leave the earth immediately after rising from the dead. He showed Himself to His disciples now and again "during forty days," but only to the "witnesses chosen before of God" (Acts 1: 3; Acts 10: 41). And He treated them as altogether apart from the Jewish world, taken out of it in order that they might be sent again into the world in its fuller extent (including Gentiles as well as Jews), even as He Himself had been sent of the Father (John 20: 21). He had already prayed for them as the Father's own gift to Himself and as no longer belonging to the world (John 17: 6-10, 16). It was from their midst that He went up to heaven leaving them still to wait on earth for the promised gift of the Holy Ghost. He fulfilled that promise "when the day of Pentecost was fully come," ten days after His ascension. Thenceforward every saved soul was no longer considered as being on Israelitish or Jewish ground, with earthly hopes, but on the contrary as having heavenly hopes in and with Christ. Belonging to Him who was risen and glorified, they were "added to the Church" (Acts 2: 1, 47).

We may then consider the first curved line of the parenthesis in this world's history as being marked by the cloud which received Jesus out of the sight of His disciples when they stood on the Mount of Olives gazing after Him as He was taken up into heaven (Luke 24: 50-51; Acts 1: 3, 9-11). From that moment dates the special calling and portion of the Church. It belongs to Jesus risen and glorified.

The close of the parenthesis is indicated by another "cloud," which will receive, in like manner, every believing man, woman and child at the moment of the Lord's return. At the same instant every sleeping saint, that is, everyone who has believed and "died in faith," will be raised and all together will be caught up "in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord" (1 Thess. 4: 15-17). Blessed is it to think of it!

As soon as the Church is removed from this scene the remnant of Israel, with their earthly hopes, will come once more into prominence and a call to repentance in connection with those hopes will again go forth (Matt. 10: 23). That will be the time of Zion's "travail" and those who lend a willing ear to the call will be considered as the remnant of Christ's brethren. They, instead of being added to the Church as we are, will then "return unto the children of Israel" and be reckoned with them (Isa. 66: 8-14; Micah 5: 3). They will also be earnestly looking for the rising of the Sun of righteousness with healing in His wings that "Sun" which the disciples saw for a moment on the mount of the transfiguration (Mal. 4: 2; Matt. 17: 2).

The Church will at that time be seen in her proper place in "heaven, for the righteous shall shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father" (Matt. 13: 43; Luke 12: 33). The glory will be ushered in for us by Him who, through grace, is already known to our souls as "THE BRIGHT AND MORNING STAR" (Rev. 22: 16).

William Joseph Lowe (1838-1927) (To be continued, if the Lord will)

News from the Field

REPORT OF VISIT TO INDIA BY ANDREW POOTS (NORTHERN IRELAND) AND DR. FARID ZAKI (EGYPT)

(continued from page 80)

Visit to Tadepalligudem

Tenali is situated along the water basin of the Krishna river. Tadepalligudem is further north along in the West Godavari delta area. Brethren in Europe have been in contact with a work there for several decades. After the home-call of brother Sudarsgabam there were some problems in this work, but now his sons Wilson and Prakesh are seeking to revive the work and instruct the simple believers in the villages, and they are in closer contact with the brethren at Tenali than previously.

We were able to visit (19th and 20th November) and have a one and a half day conference in one of the villages, where we were well received and the Word of God was attentively listened to by upwards of 150 believers. We sought to set forth fundamental gospel truth, and looked at instances of the grace of God in Luke's gospel. Brother Wilson had visited the conference at Tenali with some others, and enjoyed brother Farid's ministry on Paul's pastoral care of the Thessalonians very much. He told me that he had never heard such things before.

There are about eight preaching centres in the West Godavari District, with four village evangelists in addition to Wilson and Prakesh. At four of these places a breaking of bread takes place, and it is the desire of brother Yohan and others that in time full fellowship may be resumed. We need to pray for the continuance of the work here, and the spiritual growth of the believers.

On the second day twenty-two were baptized, and brother Yohan noted that most of them were young an encouraging feature. They have also invited brother Yohan back to preach again, so that links of fellowship are being formed. We were treated very hospitably in the home of brother Wilson, and it was nice to see a photograph of brother Wilts of the Netherlands with his family on the wall. Evidently his stay there has not been forgotten. We were pressed by the brethren to return again. They have two meeting rooms in the villages. They were both extensively damaged by the cyclone in the early part of 1990, and need to be reconstructed. The poor in the villages also have material needs, and many also need to be taught how to read 80 that they can enjoy the Scriptures for themselves.

We made our way back to Vijayawada on the evening of November 20th in preparation for onward travel the following day, and it was our happy privilege to share with brother Yohan in personal conversation on the long journey back, discussing the possibilities and problems of the growing work.

Visit to Punjab

The train from Vijayawada to Hyderabad was delayed "indefinitely," and as we had to catch a connecting flight, we had to make the long tiring journey by road in the hot sun. Once more we learned the uncertainties of Indian travel. We reached Delhi by aeroplane that evening (Wednesday 25th November) where we had a day's rest before taking the long train journey to the Punjab in the very north. Brother Ronny Fernandes accompanied us on our remaining travels in the north of India.

The Punjab, an agriculturally rich part of India, is the homeland of the Sikhs (distinguished by the turbans the men wear) and in recent years there has been much terrorist violence. There were armed police and army at every corner, guarding buildings, travelling with buses even. It was like being at home in Northern Ireland! Indeed on the day we left Jullundur city, sixteen people were murdered there. We were conscious once again of the Lord's safe keeping.

The purpose of our visit was to encourage brother Sat Pal Hans who lives in the village of Tanda about an hour's drive from Jullundur. This brother is a converted Hindu with a most interesting history. He had worshipped different Hindu gods, followed the teaching of gurus (religious teachers), meditated on mantras (prayer formulas or chants), even built a shrine to lord Shiva (one of the chief pagan deities), without finding peace. Then he attended a Pentecostal gospel meeting, was given a Bible, and later through a process of events came to a knowledge of salvation through the Lord Jesus Christ. Later through grace his wife was also converted, and he asked me particularly to pray for his mother and father who are still Hindus, and who live with him. For a time he was with the Pentecostals, but literature received from brother Ronny helped him, and now that he has separated from them, he is almost completely isolated.

Literature Work in Punjab

Sat Pal Hans, in addition to his secular work, has been active in translating books into Punjabi. These include "Beginning with Christ" (now in a second edition of 8,000 copies), "The Book of Ruth" and "Unto Christ" with "Faith Healing" in preparation (all by brother Heijkoop), as well as an excellent gospel booklet "The Reason Why" almost ready. His "Shalom Literature Service" rents two small warehouse stores which are crammed full of books. Many other literature agencies have left the Punjab because of the uncertainties of the political troubles, so he is one of the few suppliers of evangelical literature remaining. To give some idea of the scale of operations, he orders 20,000 New Testaments in Punjabi and Hindi at a time from the Bible Society, and may use 100,000 gospel packets in both these languages within a year.

Breaking of Bread Commenced

Sham, one of Sat Pal Hans' cousins was most unexpectedly converted recently, and took an open stand for the Lord. Earlier in 1990 he was baptized, so Sat Pal now has a coworker. Sat Pal has three children, a boy Sandeep (14), and two girls Shyamly (13) and Saloni (8). They come together every evening as a family with Sham to read the Scriptures, sing and pray together. Recently they commenced to break bread together in fellowship with the brethren in Bombay and Tenali, and we need to pray that this weak and small testimony in the heart of the Punjab may be established and grow. It was truly a privilege to sit down with them to remember the Lord on our third and last Lord's day in India, and to listen to the rich singing in the Punjabi language. The simplicity of it made quite an impression on Farid who is accustomed to somewhat larger meetings in Egypt. In Belfast we have known something of the Lord's presence just as real with the two or three gathered to His name. We were able to spend two days in the Punjab, visiting our brother in his home in Tanda and seeking to study the Scriptures together.

On one occasion another unconverted cousin accompanied him, and we were able to speak of the gospel in his presence. Pray that the word spoken may bear fruit. Despite the political trouble in the Punjab, there is still much demand for literature. We also need to pray that Sat Pal and Sham may be able to visit contacts in the villages around where the literature has gone out. We were given a warm send off by brother Sat Pal and his cousin as we left on the long train journey back to Delhi on the evening of Sunday 25th, ready to fly to Bagdogra early the following morning.

Bhutan

Bhutan (Land of the Thunder Dragon) is a small kingdom in the eastern Himalaya mountains situated between China and northeast India. The state religion is Buddhism, and the country was totally closed to the gospel until 1965. Recently, through Indians working in Bhutan, there have been some conversions, but believers are persecuted, and have to meet secretly in house groups.

In March 1990 I received a letter from brother Jeremiah in Bhutan. He had read one of our publications, "The Christian at Home," by C. H. Mackintosh, and wrote "I cannot express in words the blessings it brought in my life." Accordingly, while in India, we made plans to visit him. It is not permitted for westerners to visit in Bhutan, so brother Ronny wrote for him to meet us at the nearest convenient point in India, which was Bagdogra airport. The intention was that we should then spend some time together at the hill station of Darjeeling in the foothills of the Himalayas.

The night before we were due to fly from Delhi, I had a very disturbed sleep, and one could almost feel the oppression of such a country which has been for so long a stronghold of Satan. A considerable time was spent in prayer, feeling that the adversary would try to prevent our contacts with anyone in this country.

In the event, brother Jeremiah was not able to meet us. We proceeded on our own to Darjeeling where we had opportunity to rest in the refreshing air, surrounded by tea plantations, 2123 metres above sea level. We could also survey the spiritual needs of the teeming multitudes in this part of India, and in fact came in contact with a Christian believer in the market. This was the only real disappointment of our trip to India, but we are assured the contact was not allowed at this time for good and wise purposes, and we are confident that our God overrules in all things. Brother Ronny, being Indian, is permitted to visit within Bhutan, and hopes to be able to contact brother Jeremiah, and the meetings with which he is associated, in the future in the will of the Lord.

West Bengal

After a day and a half in Darjeeling, we again set off on our travels, this time to the teeming city of Calcutta, the capital of West Bengal, with a population of 12 million. Here, amidst the squalor, we saw scenes of human need and degradation that brought tears to the eye. The hostel we stayed in was rundown, to say the least; large cockroaches in the bathroom, no hot water, save what was carried up to you in buckets, and dirty bed linen. Nevertheless, we made the best of it, and had opportunity to visit some who were the Lord's, contacts of Ronny's, even in such a place.

The following morning we set out for the village of Jiarah in the Hooghly district of West Bengal. Here a young brother Sunil Ghosh, who has worked with Ronny in the past, is working as a village evangelist, and has gathered some simple believers together. The village is interesting in that it is known as a potato centre in that part of India, famous for growing potatoes, therefore dear to the heart of an Irishman! Yes, they did prepare

us a meal made with potatoes which was most enjoyable! But more important, in the morning and the afternoon we had opportunity to minister the Word of God to those that Sunil had gathered together, and the men and women listened very attentively. We spoke of the purpose of Christ's first coming, and then went on to speak about the expectancy of His second coming. Evidently the truth (which was new) went home to those present. One old brother said that he had just planted a field of potatoes. What would happen to them if the Lord were to return? So I could tell him that although I too liked potatoes, to eat of the tree of life which is in the midst of the paradise of God was something much better.

We presented the simple truths of gathering to the Lord's Name from Acts 2, and in connection with baptism pointed out how Christian living was entirely different and separate from their previous lives when Hindus. We were very conscious of help and liberty in the ministry of the Word. Afterwards the translator said that we were truly guided of the Lord to take up the subject we had. We received a very appreciative response from the womenfolk also, and were desired on every hand to pay a return visit. We feel that there is potential in these villages of West Bengal for an assembly work to be commenced.

These villagers are very poor, from the lowest caste (strata of society), having scarcely even a change of clothes, and not even plates to eat off. Most of them cannot read or write, and a village teacher is needed to at least teach them to read, so that they can read the Scriptures for themselves. At present they meet in a mud hut which cannot withstand the wet season. Ronny has previously taken some visitors there in the wet season, and they had to take their shoes off and wade knee deep in the mud. Provision of a more permanent meeting-room would be a great help to them. This visit was one of the most challenging of our visit to India.

We returned after dusk, and had not gone very far when the lights failed in the taxi in which we were travelling. The driver commenced to work at the fuses by candlelight, at first without apparent success. We had to travel on congested village roads, the villagers returning from the fields by oxcart, bicycle, and rickshaw, or on foot; then on a busy main road with buses and heavy lorries. There were no garages near by, so all we could do was pray. A piece of wire was patched in, this time it did not blow, and the electrical circuits held all the way back to Calcutta. Once more, as throughout the trip, we had experienced the Lord's gracious answer.

Return to Bombay

The following morning we flew back to Bombay. Preaching in the open air under the hot sun had been quite exhausting. Now, the heat hit us again as we stepped out of the aeroplane. Then the hot sticky taxi drive in traffic to where we were staying. This on top of the fatigue of three weeks in India, travelling sometimes from early morning to late at night, left us rather nauseated. We were now on the homeward journey. Some time remained to rest and pack in Bombay. The following evening (Saturday 1st December) we made our way to the home of brother Ronny Fernandes where some believers had come together to meet us and give us a send off. After a meal together, we had opportunity to again discuss the Scriptures, answer many questions, and have a time of fellowship.

From there it was a short drive to the airport where we checked in and waited to embark. The plane took off, leaving the great subcontinent behind us, leaving us with many thoughts.

We again record our thankfulness to the Lord for watching over us in many ways. Once, when I was feeling very sick in Tenali, brother Farid, who was enjoying his food, remarked, "This is a five star hotel." Brother Yohan, who was there, replied, "No, not five star, seven star, because the Lord is in the midst of the seven stars." The sense of the Lord's care at such a time brought immense cheer. Also we had travelled much on dangerous roads, seeing many serious accidents, and, as brother Farid said, the Lord preserved us from death many times. Once, too, on a flight to Delhi, we hit a particularly bad air pocket, which had the aeroplane falling out of the sky, and the passengers screaming in terror, and later clapping loudly when the plane eventually landed safely.

Most of all, we are thankful to the Lord for giving us such good contacts with the brethren in many places. Besides the ministry of the Word in meetings, many valuable conversations took place. Truly "a great door and effectual is opened" (1 Corinthians 16: 9). New meetings are being formed. We can help with our prayers, by encouraging the workers, by helping to publish and circulate Christian literature, and by meeting the material needs of the poor in various places.

A.J.P.

Book Reviews

Facsimile of an Elizabethan Conference of Serious Christians

Chapter Two Publishers have reprinted in booklet form 'A True Report of a Conference' held in an English town (not named) in 1588. This is a facsimile reprint from the original Geo. Morrish edition. The little work runs to no more than 38 pages but is of more than antiquarian interest. It has much to teach us as it shows the importance we should attach to serious confession of sins with the intention of seeking the power and presence of God to be with us in our life and witness. The spirit of the Report is far removed from the lighthearted and even jocular spirit which marks too many modern meetings for fellowship and even prayer. After blaming their sins four-squarely on themselves alone, the believers, of whose conference this is the record, covenant together for grace to live henceforth a life of deeper consecration and obedience. The Elizabethan spelling is quaint but easily intelligible to the reader today. It is available from: Chapter Two, Booksellers and Publishers of Select Christian Literature, 95 Genesta Road, Plumstead, London, SE18 3EX.

(Banner of Truth Magazine)

Day by Day Daily Notes on Bible Readings covering a period of five years.

Many Christians find that the use of some very simple notes to accompany their daily Bible readings helps in the understanding of the Scriptures, and often contributes to the practical application and challenge of the Word of God.

"Day by Day" provides this in a particularly convenient form. In its new form it is a republication of a work which has already proved its value to many who have used it in its original format. Its history is interesting. It was originally written in French by Jean Koechlin, and published in Valence by La Bonne Semence. It was then translated into English for Grace and Truth, and the second edition was published by Central Bible Hammond Trust, now operating as Scripture Truth Publishers and issued in booklet form. Each booklet covered a quarter of a year, and the whole series covered five years.

It has now been republished in Canada by Believers' Bookshelf Inc., Niagara on the Lake, Ontario, in five volumes, each covering one year's readings. The presentation is very attractive: each volume is a convenient size (about 15 x 11cm) and is well bound in a "permanised" paperback format with an attractive cover featuring scenic photographs in full colour. The full set is packed in a convenient decorated carton. It is available in the U.K. at a price of 9.95 for the set from Scripture Truth Publishers, Wooler, Words of Truth, Belfast, or Chapter Two, London.

It represents very good value.

The notes are well written. Arranged on a daily reading basis, they provide a commentary on the Scriptures which will take the reader through the whole Bible in a period of five years. According to the passage read, the notes are devotional, expository or practical, and because the author has had the courage to tackle every Scripture, they will throw interesting light on many of the more difficult or obscure passages. There is everywhere in these notes a profound acceptance of the authority and sufficiency of the Word of God.

This publication can be sincerely recommended. It has a double usefulness: it is an excellent aid to the reading of the Bible for "Quiet Times" or bedtime reading, but it also provides a readable and convenient commentary on the whole of Scripture in a form suitable to the general Christian reader. It could also be used helpfully in House Study Groups and other group discussion situations.

Gordon Spratt

Behold My Servant Volume One of the Collected Writings of William Hoste.

Mr. William Hoste was one of the spiritual giants that emerged in the recently past generation, ranking alongside others such as W. E. Vine and W. W. Fereday. It is the intention of the publishers to make available most of his written ministry, and the first volume of his collected writings has come to hand.

It is suitable that this first volume should be taken up with matters concerning the Person and work of Christ. On such a subject one must heartily commend the author for his clarity and biblical accuracy.

This volume is a collection of four compositions.

The first is entitled "The Passion Song of Israel." It is a call to Jewish people to examine afresh the claims of the Messiahship of Jesus, the Son of David, with a special reference to Isaiah 53. This careful exposition will warm the hearts of His own, and also it would be helpful to any Jewish seeker that one should encounter.

Next is a short work called "Divine Relations before the Incarnation" which shows clearcut thought and Scriptural insight. One's attention was drawn to his interpretation of the text "Thou art My Son, this day have I begotten Thee" (Ps. 2: 7). His understanding of the text follows the view of early orthodoxy, and he shows how this view conforms to Holy Scripture.

Thirdly comes "Christ, the Interpreter of the Father," showing how the Lord's words and works while He was here upon earth manifested the Father. Incidentally, this reviewer does not share the author's view that "the glory as of the Only Begotten of the Father" in John 1: 14 was moral glory, but believes it was the glory of Deity. Whenever we read of someone confessing His Sonship, it is usually prompted by some manifestation of His Divine glory. The phrase "we beheld His glory, the glory as of the Only Begotten of the Father" is a parenthesis, and the words "full of grace and truth" should refer to His being made flesh and dwelling amongst us. The parenthesis is put in to safeguard the fact that, in spite of His becoming flesh, He did not cease to be truly God.

Lastly there is a choice exposition entitled "The Christ of God," which is mainly ministry on Col. 1: 15-19 and Phil. 2: 6-11. These are well known Scriptures, but we can never exhaust their depths. No doubt this exposition will suggest new thoughts to many of us.

The book is published by John Richie Ltd, Kilmarnock, and is available from Chapter Two. It is hardback and runs to 202 pages. It costs 6.95.

The Old in the New Explained

Isaiah 40: 3. Matthew 3: 3.

"The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make His paths straight".

(This verse is also cited in Mark 1: 3; Luke 3: 4 and John 1: 23. The comments that follow are limited to the occurrence of the verse in Isaiah 40 and Matthew 3).

The Scriptures considered thus far in this series attest the deity of the one "born King of the Jews", and draw attention to the cruel and heartless power of the enemy put forth against Him when a little child. Here in Matthews Gospel the little remnant of which Luke speaks in chapters 1 and 2 are not noticed, in order that the real condition of the nation might stand out in greater starkness. The only ones that rejoice at His birth are wise men from the east, while the city and people that we might have expected to rejoice are troubled by what they hear.

To this condition of the people the ministry of John the Baptist is addressed. He preaches not in the city or towns and villages, but in the wilderness of Judea. He stands apart altogether from the people and is marked by a personal austerity that befits the message he has to preach. The kingdom of the heavens was at hand the kingdom that the God of the heavens was to set up (Dan. 2: 44). But what of the children of the kingdom? Repentance was necessary. Self judgment and the confessing and forsaking of sins were morally essential if blessing and not judgment was to be their portion (v. 12). For the One whose way John was to prepare was Jehovah Himself (the) Lord. What then was John compared to such a glorious Person? He was but a voice. John's previous history is passed over. It was the message that he brought and the right response of his hearers to it, which was all important. In preparation for receiving Jehovah their King they were to make His paths straight. As His people they were to walk in His paths and not paths of their own choosing. Reality and the evidence of it was what was required and not natural claim and empty profession. While there were those who "justified God, being baptised with the baptism of John", and the Lord Jesus in grace identified Himself with these, the "Pharisees and lawyers rejected the counsel of God against themselves, being not baptized of him" (Luke 7: 29-30). The forerunner and his message rejected, it was certain that the King too would be refused (Matt. 17: 10-13).

The setting of the verse in Isa. 40 is most striking. The rejection of the King by Jerusalem is assumed and as a consequence judgment is poured out upon the city (Matt. 23: 37-39; Lam. 1: 817). The judgment is measured according to the righteous government of God but in the reckoning of His grace Jerusalem receives double for all her sins. This of course, is on the basis of the death of Christ for that nation (John 11: 49-51). In the verses referred to in Lamentations chapter 1 we read "Zion spreadeth forth her hands, and there is none to comfort her..." (Lam. 1: 17) but now the word goes forth... "Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God" (Isa. 40: 1). This will be preceded by a testimony which, blessed of God, will produce a moral earthquake in the remnant of the Jews who receive it while at the same time judgment will bring down all that exalts itself against the Lord. (Isa. 40: 34; Malachi 4: 46). This testimony will again announce the coming of the King (this time in glory and not grace only) and stress the absolute stability of God's Word, with all its promises for Israel, in contrast to the frailty and passing nature of flesh. Then will the delivered city, Jerusalem, the city that had refused the claims of its King, itself announce His personal glory as their God (Isa. 40: 9). They will celebrate Him as their Shepherd (Isa. 40: 11), and as Creator (Isa. 40: 12-31).

R.F.W.

Extract

If our souls go on with God, sweet as is the assurance that we, washed in the blood of Christ, belong to God, yet the uppermost thought will in the long run be Himself. We shall come back to His person. We shall in our praises weave with it what He has done, suffered, and won for us; but the first of all thoughts in our souls is, the first of all thoughts in heaven is, not what we have gained, however true, but what He has been for us and what He is to us, yea what He is in Himself.

The Bible Treasury, 1869.

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