Short Articles


Short articles on all aspects of Christianity - both devotional & doctrinal

"They had gathered every man according to the measure of his eating" (Exod. 16: 18).

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The Bible

This book contains the mind of God, the state of man, the way of salvation, the doom of sinners, and the happiness of believers. Its doctrines are holy, its precepts are binding, its histories are true, and its decisions are immutable. Read it to be wise, believe its to be safe, and practise it to be holy.

   It contains light to direct you, food to support you, and comfort to cheer you. It is the traveller’s map, the pilgrim’s staff, the pilot’s compass, the soldier’s sword, and the Christian’s charter.

   Here, Heaven is opened and the gates of Hell disclosed. Christ is its grand subject, our good its design, and the glory of God its end. It shall fill the memory, rule the heart, and guide the feet.

   Read it slowly, frequently, prayerfully. It is a mine of wealth, a paradise of glory, and a river of pleasure. It is given you in life, will be opened at the Judgment, and be remembered for ever.

   It involves the highest responsibility, will reward the greatest labour, and condemn all who trifle with its sacred contents.

Things Which Are Before

Beloved, let us be decided, for its is impossible for us to grasp at things before and behind too. Were we “pressing forward towards the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus”, were we “reaching forth unto those things which are before”, we must be forgetting those behind. Were we looking up, gazing with the eye of faith on our portion above could we be groping in the dirt of this world for what we might find there? Could we be making a god of business, pleasure, riches or reputation? Faith is an anticipating grace. Faith is a substantial reliance on the verities of God, such as makes its possessor count all things else but dross and dung for Christ and the things above. Dear, reader, either give up professing to be guided by the Bible or act as if you believed it. There is such a thing as the obedience of faith, and if we don’t obey, our religion is all pretence and unreality.

Worship (Colossians 2: 21)

What is worship? It is neither praise nor prayer, much less it is listening to an address or a sermon. Worship is the overflow of hearts occupied with Christ. In prayer we are occupied with our wants: in praise we think of our blessings: but in worship the heart is occupied with Himself. To worship God we must be consciously at rest in His presence, enjoying His love. As the Spirit takes of the things of Christ and shows them to us, our hearts are filled to overflowing in our adoration of Him. The very word for worship in Greek in John 4, in that chapter where we have the Lord’s discourse on the subject, is proskuneo meaning not only reverence, but reverence with affection (a word that might be used for instance in the case of a dog licking his master’s hand).

   Worship in its fullest and highest sense is in the assembly, gathered in His Name, with the Lord in the midst (Matt. 18: 20). This place H took amongst His own, immediately He had risen from the dead (John 20: 19). This place He takes still in grace. Thus if He is there, it should be our delight to be united in reverent affection towards Him—that is, the worship of the Assembly.

Three Safeguards

Our only safety is in simple and implicit subjection to the word of God. We are to be governed by the “faith once delivered to the saints” (Jude 1: 3), contained in the Scriptures of truth. For this we need the guidance of the Spirit who wrote it all. But we are never sure of having the directing power of the Spirit with us except the eye by single to Christ. Thus these three safeguards are always together where we are right. If even on is missing then we are not right.

Worldliness

The characteristic of the present world is that it has refused Christ. The characteristic of the Church is that she has been united with the Lord in the day of his rejection. Despite this, the Christian profession and the world delight in keeping company with each other. Worldliness is thus the great dispensational offence against God. The Church’s true position has its type or expression in Zipporah the wife of Moses (see Exod. 2: 21). This gentile woman was united to her husband in the day of his rejection. It is not that she is recorded as doing a great deal or suffering much during that time, for the details of her history are not revealed. The point is that she owned her lord in the day of his rejection.

Our Times

Have you noticed how much the language and spirit of Jeremiah suit our times? Every day the prophet observed iniquity advancing among the people of God, and cried out in grief. His was not merely a silent mourning, however, for he actively testified against the evil––and like his Master in heaven was hated for his testimony. Yet despite all this, he looked for sure and happy days lying beyond the present corruption and the coming judgment. In faith therefore, he purchased the field of Hanameel in the certain hope that “Houses and fields and vineyards shall again be purchased in this land” (Jer. 32: 15). All this is very suggestive––the present sorrow, the certainty of approaching judgment, and the hope of glory at the close––and is a pattern for our spirits now. Yet we must not forget that Jeremiah was not seduced from the conclusions of his faith by developments in the world. The Chaldean army had broken up their camp at the walls of Jerusalem because of the arrival of the Egyptians, and judgment might seem to have passed the city by. Jeremiah, however, was not deceived by the flattering appearances of the moment, and left Jerusalem in the certain knowledge that it was doomed. To the natural eye in our day, the prospect of judgment seems even more remote. Is not man becoming ever more refined, and his world ever more accomplished? All seems quiet, and heaven is silent. To the eye of faith, however, everything is on the downgrade towards an awful conflagration. May we see things as God sees them!

Exposure

Have any of my readers ever carried a bright lamp into a dark barn on a dark night? Immediately all the rats and mice, the unclean creatures to whom darkness is congenial, flee from the light and scatter to their familiar blackness. By contrast, trap a bird in a dark room and what will it do? As a creature of the light it will fly up to the window. Thus the light exposes the true state of all––what they really are, and what their proper place is according to their nature, whether in light or in darkness. It is no different in spiritual things: “For every one that does evil hates the light, and does not come to the light that his works may not be shewn as they are; but he that practises the truth comes to the light, that his works may be manifested that they have been wrought in God” (John 3: 20–21). Christ was that “true light” (John 1: 9), which coming into the world, exposed man for what he is: “And this is the judgment, that light is come into the world, and men have loved darkness rather than light; for their works were evil” (John 3: 19). For all his religious pretensions, man naturally is a creature of the darkness, “estranged from the life of God” (Eph. 4: 18). It is only as a new creature in Christ (see 2 Cor. 5: 17), that he can “walk in the light as he is in the light” (1 John 1: 7).

False Unity

It is not unusual these days for denominations to come together at certain times of the year for a united service. For a day or two they agree to sink their differences, and display to the world a picture (as they think) of Christian unity. I have often said ‘But if your differences are of God, it is a very serious thing to lay them aside at all. And if those differences are not of God, how can you take them up again?’ Working together is not God’s unity––God’s unity is being one. And we can only be one if we face up to the issues that divide us and deal with them as in the presence of God––then, and only then, will there be true unity.

A Great Gospel

When grace is on the throne, (see Rom. 5: 21) what limits can be set to it? If the sin committed at Calvary has not shut the door of mercy, all other sins put together cannot close it. If God can bless in spite of the death of His Son, who may not be blest? Innocence lost, conscience disobeyed and stifled, covenants and promises despised and forfeited, law trampled underfoot, prophets persecuted, and last and unutterably terrible, the Only–begotten Son of the Father slain––and there is mercy still! What a Gospel we preach!

   Yet there is more. It is not just that Calvary has failed to quench the love of God to men, but that is
the very proof and measure of that love! It is not that the death of Christ has failed to shut heaven against the sinner, but that heaven is open to the sinner by virtue of that death. The everlasting doors that lifted up their heads for Him (see Ps. 24: 7) are open for the guiltiest of men, and the blood by which the Lord of glory entered there is their title to approach. The way to heaven is as free as the way to hell. What a Gospel!

The Vileness of Sin

The blind man can see no difference between a masterpiece of Titian or Raphael and the Queen’s head on a village signboard. The deaf man cannot distinguish between a penny whistle and a cathedral organ. The very animals whose smell is most offensive to us have no idea that they are offensive. Likewise man fallen man, can have no idea what a vile thing sin is in the sight of that God whose handiwork is absolutely perfect.

Words

Sometimes people speak of ‘God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit’. This is not the language of Scripture, and the Muslim cannot be blamed for charging such with believing in three Gods. The error is doubtless unintentional, and often flows from a commendable zeal to assert the deity of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. There is only one safe path in these matters - to run our words in the tracks of God’s Word.

All Responsible

It is very easy to put the responsibility of maintaining the truth on those who minister the truth to others. It is certainly not given to every one to minister the truth. Qualification for being occupied in ministry of the Word depends on having a gift for such from Christ, and He is sovereign in the matter. It is thus a privilege to minister the truth. However, I say without any hesitation that it is the responsibility of every one of us without exception to maintain the truth. Now we do not maintain the truth merely by clinging tenaciously to the terms of the truth (as some imagine) - that is lifeless orthodoxy. We maintain it by being ourselves the living exponents of it. You may think that what I say is hard, but I judge that we ought to be prepared to surrender everything we have in this life - the dearest ties and associations, and whatever honour, glory or position we have here - in order to be exponents of the truth, the truth which the Lord Himself has given us to maintain. It is very easy to justify having things agreeable here - and God may allow us to enjoy many things in this world. However, things here may readily become too prominent with us and when they are the truth will only have second place in our hearts. Is this right? What should have the first place with us: the things of this life or the truth? Every one of us knows at heart that the truth must be the first thing and that we are to maintain it at all costs.

Jigsaw Pieces

Scripture has just one interpretation, an interpretation in which every verse in the Bible is essential. If your interpretation would look better if a particular verse was not there, then your interpretation is clearly wrong. In a sense, Scripture is like a jigsaw puzzle - every piece counts. Every piece has just one place, each piece is needed to give the whole picture, and one piece in the wrong place puts other pieces out of place. What comes first in a jigsaw? The edge pieces. Hence we need “an outline of sound words” (2 Tim. 1: 13) before we can fill in the detail.

Transformed

But we all, looking on the glory of the Lord, with unveiled face, are transformed according to the same image from glory to glory, even as by [the] Lord [the] Spirit” (2 Cor. 3: 18). Here is no anxious toiling! Here is no restless labour! Here is no ‘act of consecration’! No ‘act of faith’! No ‘rules for holy living’! No rushing hither and thither! No trying to be changed! ‘But we all, looking … lookinglookingLOOKING on the glory of the Lord … are transformed according to the same image!’ Just as Moses’ face reflected the glory of God (see Ex. 34: 29-35), so will occupation with Christ reflect His image and glory upon all who behold Him. In other words, occupation with the heavenly man will make us heavenly, without any effort on our part to become heavenly. This is God’s own divinely appointed method for our transformation. All other methods proposed by man dishonour God and deceive men - because, on the one hand, those who adopt them practically assert that a better method has been found than the one which God had prescribed; and, on the other, they lead men into self-occupation which ends in self-deception (see 2 Cor. 10: 12). They aim at the end, but neglect the only means which can secure it! They try to be transformed, but fail in the attempt, having ignored the divinely appointed way. They seek the blessing, forgetting that God has conditioned the blessing on beholding the Blesser. No one can grow by trying to grow. “But which of you by carefulness can add to his growth one cubit? … Observe with attention the lilies of the field, how they grow: they toil not, neither do they spin” (Matt. 6: 27-28). No! They lift up their heads to heaven, and drink in heaven’s light, heaven’s warmth, heaven’s air, and heaven’s showers, and they grow without any effort. So it is with spiritual growth. Let us then look up, look away, look off from ourselves unto Christ. Let us occupy ourselves with Him, and we shall be transformed into His image without a thought and without an effort.

Two Enochs

There were two Enochs in the early days of human history: one in the line of Cain, and one in the line of Seth. The former had a great honour conferred upon him (or what men call an honour), in that the earth’s first city was called after him (Gen. 4: 17). This memorial of the man stood for many centuries, keeping his memory fresh in the mind. The Psalmist says of the men of the world “Their inward thought is, that their houses are for ever, their dwelling–places from generation to generation: they call the lands after their own names” (Ps. 49: 11. Thus the Enoch of Cain’s line, by reason of his city, had a standing in the world such as his namesake never aspired to - but of what value was it when the judgement of God fell upon the earth? The city was wiped out.

   By contrast, the Enoch of Seth’s line, by reason of his delight in God, gained for himself an imperishable name. Never will he be forgotten. If the first Enoch had a standing in this world, the second had a standing with God: “By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him; for before [his] translation he has the testimony that he had pleased God.” (Heb. 11: 5). He had the happy sense that all was well between him and his Master. If the first Enoch built a perishable city in a perishing world, the second forged an imperishable link with an imperishable world: “Enoch walked with God” (Gen. 5: 24). Two men with the same name - two men with their eyes on different worlds. The one achieved honour and glory for a season, and then the gloom of darkness for eternity; the other walked here a stranger and a pilgrim, but under the approving eye of God, and for whom He prepared a city (see Heb. 11: 16) that shall stand forever.

Hope in Christ

We may belong to the best of churches, and yet never belong to Christ. We may listen to the greatest sermons and yet never hear His voice. We may be washed in the waters of baptism, and yet know nothing of the water of life. We may break bread every Sunday of our lives, and yet never appropriate for ourselves the immeasurable profit of His death. We may open our Bibles every day, and yet never open our hearts to Him. All, all is worthless unless our hope is in Christ. With Him, you have everything; without Him, you have nothing.


The Mount And The Pit

While the sufferings of Isaac and Joseph both point to the cross, each portrays a different aspect of that great mystery. Isaac goes up to the mount to be offered up (see Gen. 22: 2), Joseph goes down into the pit (see Gen. 37: 24). The mount speaks of the glory of the One offered up. The pit tells of the misery and degradation of those for whom He is offered up. Isaac is the son, the only son, the promised heir, and the beloved of his father. That is the one offered up. When, however, Joseph goes down to the pit, though his moral excellence cannot be hidden, it is not that personal glory that is prominent, but rather the evil and corruption of those who surround him. If at last his brethren are to be brought into blessing and share in the glory of Joseph, then Joseph must take their place of distance and degradation as set forth in the pit. “Without blood–shedding there is no remission,” (Heb. 9: 22) and “Except the grain of wheat falling into the ground die, it abides alone” (John 12: 24).

How To Live


Live as in the sight of God. This is what Abraham did––he walked before Him (see Gen. 24: 40). This is what Enoch did––he walked with Him (see Gen. 5: 22, 24). This is what heaven itself will be––the eternal presence of God. Do nothing you would not like God to see. Say nothing you would not like God to hear. Write nothing you would not like God to read. Go to no place where you would not like God to find you. Read no book of which you would not like God to say ‘Show it to me’. Never spend your time in such a way that you would not like God to say ‘What are you doing?’

Adoration

With each passing day here the Lord should mean more and more to us. It is the whole point and purpose of our lives. Just as Mordecai “became continually greater” (Est. 9: 4) throughout all Persia, so Christ must become “continually greater” in all the provinces of my heart. There must be increase, not only in knowledge, but in adoration. Indeed, real growth in the knowledge of Christ will always lead to an increased appreciation of Christ. So how is it with you and I? Does He mean more to me than yesterday? Am I a little more conscious of His love? Does His glory shine a little brighter? I leave the matter with your conscience and mine.

Matchless

Nothing gives a Christian so much joy as communion with Christ. He may enjoy the pleasures of life common to all––friends and family, love and laughter. He will surely rejoice in what God has given to His people, and how God is working with and through His people. However, even in this he can never find as much true delight as in the person of the Lord Jesus. The Christian has a wine which no vineyard on earth has ever yielded, a bread which the cornfields of Egypt could never bring forth. The joys of earth are no better than husks compared with Christ, the heavenly manna. Better to have one sip of Christ and His communion, than a whole world full of carnal delights. What is chaff to the wheat? What is glass to the diamond? What is a dream to reality? What is time’s greatest enjoyment compared to Christ? There is nothing better.

Tetelestai

When I was a young man, I heard a servant of the Lord speak about the word that forms the title of this article. Tetelestai is a Greek word, and Greek is the language in which the NT was originally written. This servant of the Lord told how this word was used in NT times. He said that when a man bought some goods from a merchant, he would receive a bill for the goods. Later he would return to the merchant with the bill along with the money to pay the bill. The merchant would count the money to make sure it was correct, and then he would write across the bill just one word––Tetelestai––It is finished. The transaction was complete, the price was paid, and the man was no longer in debt.

   Now if you open your Bible, and turn to John 19: 30, you will read these words: “When therefore Jesus had received the vinegar, he said,
It is finished”. It is finished––three words in English, but only one word in Greek. What does it mean? It means that the debt that sin has incurred has been met. The price has been paid, and the matter is forever finished.

   Reader, wherever you are, the Lord Jesus Christ has died for you. Your sins and mine cost Him His suffering and death on the cross. He paid the price and paid it fully, and when that great transaction was done, He cried “
Tetelestai––It is finished!” This is the wonder of the Gospel of the grace of God. The work has been done and completed. The price has been paid so that now “in him every one that believes is justified” (Acts 13: 39). May you be able to say with the hymn–writer: ‘Tis done, the great transaction’s done, I am my Lord’s, and He is mine!”

Christ

A former Hindu was asked to explain what there was in Christianity that he had not found in Hinduism. He answered, “It was Christ!” “But what teaching or doctrine is there that is distinct from your former faith?” he was asked again. “It wasn’t a teaching or doctrine” he replied, “It was the living Christ!” “Perhaps I haven’t made myself clear”, the questioner objected, “What is different in Christianity from the philosophy of Hinduism which caused you to embrace Christianity?” “It was Christ!” was still the answer. Not just a creed, doctrine or philosophy, but a transforming Christ!

Reality

A Moslem friend received us into his home in Morocco. What a lesson he was giving us in hospitality––treating us like kings. Suddenly came the call to prayer from a nearby mosque. Our host arose graciously and said, “Excuse me, but it is time to pray. Please make yourselves at home and I shall return shortly.” With that he went faithfully to his prayers. We wondered how Christians, who neglect the prayer meeting because a relative or friend is visiting them will ever win the world for Christ.

God’s Centre

A young man is converted through the visit of an evangelist. He has no more associations or friends in one place of worship than in another, but now he must attend somewhere. He is recommended to visit the different churches within reach of his home, and settle down where he thinks he will receive the most good. This is the criterion he is to judge by––his own good. Now our own blessing is, no doubt, a most important thing, and ought not to be overlooked, but when it is made the chief thing, rather than the will of God, it will result in darkness of mind and barrenness of soul. Obedience to the Word of God would surely be a deeper spring of blessing to our souls than merely seeking our own good, to the neglect of Christ’s mind about the Church as revealed in the epistles. But, alas, the common saying is “There is good in all denominations, though none are perfect. We must, therefore judge for ourselves, and choose the one we think nearest to Scripture - there is no perfect system”. But this trite saying, however plausible, can only apply to human systems of religion. God’s system must be perfect, and no system will suit Him that is not perfect. The imperfections of those who are in God’s system, or endeavouring to carry it out, do not affect its divine perfection.

   The distinction between a system and those who are in it, is often lost sight of. Supposing that a few weak or even faulty Christians were gathered to God’s centre, that would not make the centre weak or faulty. Yet it is equally true that a company of the best Christians in all Christendom gathered to a human centre do not make it divine! Christ is God’s centre, and those who are gathered to that centre by the power of the Holy Spirit are on God’s ground, in His presence, and will surely receive His blessing. This should be our
chief object - to be where God is, in the full assurance of faith, and to trust Him for the good of our souls. “For where two or three are gathered together unto my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matt. 18: 20).

One Sin

Men will not go to Hell because they are murderers, adulterers or liars. Men will go into a Christ-less eternity because they do not believe. The Spirit of truth has brought demonstration to this world of sin - not because of its outward acts of evil, but “because they do not believe on me” (John 16: 9). That is the sin that will keep men, women and children out of heaven. Salvation is for “Whosoever”, but all will not be saved. The lost will not be lost simply because they were sinners, but because they were sinners who did not believe.

Clever Fools

There are some in the present day who flatter themselves that they have a true hope because they possess a knowledge of religion. They are acquainted with the letter of their Bibles. They can argue and dispute about points of doctrine. They can quote texts by the score in defence of their theological opinions. They are perfect Benjamites in controversy––they can sling stones at a hairs breadth and not miss (see Judges 20: 16). Yet they have no fruit of the Spirit, no love, no meekness, no gentleness, no humility, nothing of the mind that was “in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 2: 5). Have these people a true hope? I fear not. I hold with the apostle Paul: “And if I have prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.” (1 Cor. 13: 2).

For All

It needs to be proclaimed again that God never designed Scripture to be merely for a class of theologians. The treasures of His Word are to be for all the saints––not a thing to be hidden, except from the careless and the indifferent. Yet how few there are who have that eager enthusiasm for the Scriptures that all should have, and how many there are who seem happy to leave these things for others. Just by saying that we do not have ‘clergy’ and ‘laity’ does not mean we do not have them! Of course the Assembly needs teachers––but teachers are only a pledge, on God’s part, of His eagerness to have all to know. Their purpose is to show that there, in the fount from which they drew, is the living water for all, as free for others as for themselves. Their success is shown by their ability to make others independent of them––when men say to them as the Samaritans to the woman of Sychar “[It is] no longer on account of thy saying that we believe” (John 4: 42).

A Unique Book

In one respect, the Bible can be related to a sun–dial. Let me explain. The sun–dial only works with the sun––no other light will do. Earthly lights may bring out the beauties of its structure, its carving, or its decoration, but they cannot show us the one thing for which it exists––they cannot tell us the time of day. No earthly light can do that, no candle, no lamp, not even the most powerful electric light. Nothing but heaven’s light can show us the hour. So it is with the Word of God. Human learning and knowledge can bring out the beauties of language employed in the Bible, and throw light upon its geography and history, but they can never tell us the one thing which it was written to reveal––the mind of God. The wisest “natural man” (1 Cor. 2: 14) cannot discern the true time––the meaning of God’s Word––because these things are “spiritually discerned”. Happy are those who can say “But we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which [is] of God, that we may know the things which have been freely given to us of God” (v12).

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Here is a book written, with just one or two exceptions, by a succession of Israelites, in a little corner of the world, which positively stands alone. Not only were its writers isolated and cut off in a peculiar manner from other nations, but they belonged to a people who have never produced any other book of note except the Bible. There is not the slightest evidence that, unassisted and left to themselves, they were capable of writing anything remarkable like the Greeks and Romans. Yet these men have given the world a volume which for depth, unity, sublimity, accuracy, suitableness to man’s needs, and power of influencing its readers, is perfectly unrivalled. How can this be accounted for? There is only one answer. The writers of the Bible were divinely helped and qualified for the work which they did. The book which they have given to us was written by inspiration of God.

Respect The Work

After the disciples had been forewarned about the Lord’s betrayal, (John 13: 19, 20), a word was needed to prevent the service of Judas Iscariote from being discredited. The twelve had previously gone out two by two, Judas being in the company of Simon the Cananaean (Matt. 10: 4). All of them were given power to heal the infirm, to raise the dead, to cleanse lepers, and to cast out demons, as well as preach the Gospel of the Kingdom. Without doubt, like the others, Judas had worked miracles, had effected cures and had preached (the others would surely have noticed if he had not). He had appeared to be a genuine worker, and was even commissioned and authorised by Christ Himself. So was all he had done as an apostle to be discredited when his real character became known? The Lord here states an important principle applicable to his case: “He who receives whomsoever I shall send receives me; and he that receives me receives him who has sent me” (John 13: 20). Christians would do well to remember this principle. If a labourer breaks down in testimony, how apt are we to discredit all that he has done! Let these wholesome words of Christ have their place and effect. If that principle could be applied in the case of Judas, how much more when a Christian labourer breaks down! Let us look beyond the instrument to the One who sent him. That will keep us clear in a matter of this kind.

The Tolling Bell

Have you ever heard of the great clock of St Paul’s Cathedral in London? At midday, in the roar of business, when cars and taxis, buses and lorries go rumbling through the streets, how many never hear that great clock strike! When the work of the day is over, however, and the bustle of business has died away, when men have gone to sleep, and silence reigns in London, then at twelve, at one, at two, at three, at four, the sound of the clock may be heard for miles around. That clock is just like the conscience of an impenitent soul. While he has health and strength, and goes on in the whirl of business, he will not hear conscience. He drowns and silences its voice by plunging into the world. Yet the time will come when conscience will be heard, whether he likes it or not. One day he must retire from the world, and lie down on the sick bed and look death in the face. Then the clock of conscience, that solemn clock, will sound in his heart, and if he has not repented, will bring wretchedness and misery to his soul. 

Pious Praying

Brethren, do not be so curious as to search into the secrets of God which he has kept for Himself. It is not wise to pick the lock where He has provided no key. He that will inspect every cloud may well be smitten with a thunderbolt, and in the same way those that become too familiar with God’s secrets may be overwhelmed in His judgements. By prying into the ark of God, seventy men of Beth–shemesh lost their lives (1 Sam. 6: 19), an incident recorded “for our instruction” (Rom. 15: 4). God has revealed to me in the Scriptures as much as can bring about my sanctification and happiness, and I am to carefully improve myself thereby––but never am I to inquire into anything which he has reserved for Himself. Let our delight be in “the things concerning himself” (Luke 24: 27), yet at the same time let us shrink from any kind of irreverent curiosity.

So Great Salvation

I am secure. When the rain of God’s wrath descends, and the floods come, and the winds blow, my feet shall not slide and my house shall not fall, for I have built on a rock. When the last judgement is sweeping over all things on this earth, it shall not come near me, for I shall have been caught up, and borne securely above it all. When men are calling to the rocks and the mountains to fall upon them and cover them, then I shall be far away, safe in God’s hiding place, abiding under the shadow of the Almighty.

   I am rich. I have treasure in heaven which cannot be affected by worldly changes. I do not envy the merchants and bankers of this earth. I have a portion that will endure when banknotes are worthless things. I can say, like the Spanish ambassador, when shown the treasury at Venice, “My Master's treasury has
no bottom”.

   I am ready. Banks may break, and governments may be overturned. Famine and disease may rage around me. Sickness and sorrow may visit my fireside. I am ready for life and ready for death. I am ready to go. I am in receipt of an unspeakably wonderful salvation. I have Christ––what more do I need?

Difficulties

Never give up a great principle of doctrine on account of difficulties. Wait patiently on God, and the difficulties may all melt away. Let that be an axiom in your mind. Let me illustrate. Before the discovery of the planet Neptune, there were difficulties which greatly troubled astronomers regarding certain aberrations of the planet Uranus. These aberrations puzzled the minds of the scientists and some of them suggested they might possibly prove the whole Newtonian system to be untrue. At the time, Leverrier, a well–known French astronomer, read a paper before the academy of science in Paris, in which he laid down this great law: that it did not become a scientific man to give up a principle because of difficulties which could not, at that moment, be explained. He said, in effect, “we cannot explain the aberrations of Uranus now, but we may be sure that the Newtonian system will be proved right, sooner or later. Something may be discovered one day which will yet prove that these aberrations can be accounted for, and the Newtonian system remain true and unshaken”. A few years after, the anxious eyes of astronomers discovered Neptune and this planet was shown to be the true cause of all the aberrations of Uranus. What the French astronomer had laid down as a principle in science was proved to be wise and true. The application of the story is obvious.

Baggage

Take with you on your journey to glory what is worth carrying with you - your conscience, faith, hope, patience, meekness, goodness, and brotherly kindness - for such wares as these are of great price in the high and new country for which you are bound. As for other things, which are but the world’s vanity and trash - merely house–sweepings - you will do better not to carry them with you.

Give Thanks

Who has made you to differ from the worldlings around you? Why have you been taught to feel your sins, and nothingness, while others are ignorant and self–righteous? Why have you been taught to look to the Lord Jesus, while others are looking to their own goodness, or resting on some mere form of religion? Why are you longing and striving to be holy, while others are caring for nothing but this world? Why are these things so? There is but one answer - grace. Grace, free grace, sovereign grace, wonderful grace, has done it all. For that grace praise God. For that grace bow your knees in deep and adoring thanks.


Your Own Place

It is not uncommon to be asked for an opinion on whether a particular man or woman, now dead, was saved or not. There is not a lot of profit in such speculations, though the character of their lives can give us some idea: “By their fruits ye shall know them. Do [men] gather a bunch of grapes from thorns, or from thistles figs? So every good tree produces good fruits, but the worthless tree produces bad fruits” (Matt. 7: 16, 17). Or course, we are not infallible, and we do not know men as God knows them. We are also rarely privy to an individual’s last moments on this earth, and thus it is best to avoid being dogmatic in any way. “[The] Lord knows those that are his” (2 Tim. 2: 19).

   A preacher of the Gospel was once told the story of a wicked man who eventually committed suicide. “Where did he go?” was the question put. The preacher replied “That is a very simple question. He went to his own place, where you will go, and I will go. Everybody goes to his won place”. Then the preacher went on, “But I have a friend who has told me that He has prepared a place for me. His place shall be mine. The Lord Jesus has arranged my future home”.

   Judas Iscariote, that sorry case so near to Christ and yet so far, “fell to go to his won place” (Acts 1: 25). He went into eternity alone—he went without Christ. So where is your place? Where are you going? It says of the eternal fire that it was “prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matt. 25: 41). It was never prepared for men—but if you persist on your Christ–rejecting course, you are but furnishing your place there. Solemn thought! Friend, Hell was not prepared for you—it ought not and need not be your place. Another place has been prepared and God wants you to be there. Certainly you have no right to a home in heaven, but the Son of God has bought you the right by His suffering and death at Calvary. Only believe the Gospel, and the place where Christ is will be your place. Hark to the words of the Lord Jesus to his own: “Let not your heart be troubled; ye believe on God, believe also on me. In my Father’s house there are many abodes; were it not so, I had told you: for I go to prepare you a place; and if I go and shall prepare you a place, I am coming again and shall receive you to myself, that where I am ye also may be” (John 14: 1–3). For the believer, His place is my place. Wonderful thought!

God’s Delight

We think a lot about what Calvary means to us, but have you ever considered what God thinks about the Lord Jesus and His obedience unto death? If the Father could say of Him during His life here “This is my beloved Son, in whom I have found my delight” (Matt. 17: 5), how much more now that He has gone even unto death itself, out of love and obedience to the Father. In John 14: 31 we find the two things, His love and His obedience to His Father, both shown in His going on to death: “but that the world may know that I love the Father, and as the Father has commanded me, thus I do. Rise up, let us go hence”. Where was He going? To the Cross!

   Supposing a friend whom we loved very much went through great trouble and suffering to do something we wished to be done—wouldn’t we appreciate his devotion to us? Of course we would. Think then of the Lord Jesus Christ and His devotion to the Father, the One who, at all cost to Himself, and at the awful expense of the agony of the cross, moved in perfect obedience to the will of God. As He, Himself said, “My food is that I should do the will of him that has sent me, and that I should finish his work” (John 4: 34). Of course, the Father always delighted in Him, but now H was going to lay down His life in love and obedience to the Father and He says “On this account the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it again” (John 10: 17). On this account! Did not the Father always love the Son? To be sure he did. Yet the Son says “On this account the Father loves me, because I lay down my life”. There was a fresh cause, a new motive, so to speak, for the Father’s love to flow out towards the Son. Thus when the Lord hung on the cross, never was He personally more the object of the Father’s delight. That was the burnt offering
par excellence, the perfection of his obedience.

Duff Doctors

This world is full of “physicians of no value” (Job 13: 4). The woman with the flux of blood had found this: “who, having spent all her living on physicians, could not be cured by any one” (Luke 8: 43).

   First, we have Dr Atheist who says there is no God, and there is, therefore, no need to worry.

   Second, we have Dr Agnostic who says no man can know anything for sure, and we must just hope for the best.

   Third, we have Dr No Hell who advises that all is sure to be all right in the end. An old gentleman, but often in a very modern suit.

   Fourth, we have Dr False Peace who is sweet faced but oily tongued. He is very good at making people think they are better when they are not.

   Fifth, we have Dr Good Enough who likes to remind his patients that they “never did anyone any harm”.

   Sixth, we have Dr Do Better whose treatment plan can be summed up by the phrase “turning over a new leaf”.

   Seventh, we have Dr Time Enough who specialises in procrastination. With him there is no such thing as an “emergency case”.

   Eighth, we have Dr Too Late, a rather sadistic individual who offers no comfort to his patients and only tells them “You should have sent before––nothing can be done now”.

   In contrast to all these stands THE GREAT PHYSICIAN “who himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, in order that, being dead to sins, we may live to righteousness: by whose stripes ye have been healed” (1 Pet. 2: 24). This is the only doctor that can provide you with a cure––and thus the only doctor of any value. He is the only one who has the welfare of your soul at heart. Why not come to Him?


For Which World?

One of the great Bible teachers of the nineteenth century was also a distinguished Greek scholar. His nephew took the classics course at university, and the professor of Greek there was so impressed with the accuracy, beauty and perfection of his Greek prose that he asked him who helped in his translation. The young man confessed that he had the help of his uncle. “I should like to meet your uncle” said the professor. A meeting was duly arranged, and after introducing them, the nephew left his uncle and the professor together. As they conversed on the Greek language, the professor’s eyes opened wider and wider at the uncle’s profound and extraordinary knowledge of the Greek language. Then he said “And may I enquire what your vocation is, Mr ––?” “Certainly” came the reply, “I am a preacher and travel here and there all over the country ministering the Word of God to groups of Christians”. Taking a deep breath of surprise, the professor exclaimed “Man, you’re a fool. Settle in –– and you will make a fortune”. Quick as a flash came the preacher’s reply “For which world, professor?”

The Cross

   “But far be it from me to boast save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom [the] world is crucified to me, and I to the world” (Gal. 6: 14).

   There is nothing like the Cross. It stands and shall stand forever, in all its solitary greatness and grandeur, in the centre of the circle of eternity, the wonder of every intelligent creature, and the pillar upon which is indelibly inscribed the evil and the hatred of the fallen being, and the goodness and love of God. Out from amid the dim shadows of the past it looms upon the vision, in all its brightness and blackness, truth and treachery, sunshine and shadow, faithfulness and falseness, righteousness and sin, judgement and mercy, compassion and cruelty, love and hatred. By its light the heart of heaven is revealed, and the deepest depths of the abyss of evil are discovered. The blessing and the curse there lift their voices together. There welters foul the inky sea of human guilt, and there the unsullied ocean of divine grace swallows up everything with its swelling tides. Nothing in the past can compare with it, neither can anything in the future arise to rival it. There appears the greatest sin that man ever committed, and there is the mightiest display of infinite mercy on the part of God that ever came to light. It is the place where man was tested in every spring of his moral being, and it is where the compassions of God were sounded to their depths. It is where the hostile fallen creature lifted impious hands, and struck at his Creator with deadly intent, and it is where the answer of the Creator was given in unspeakable and infinite love. It is the witness of wickedness impossible to be exceeded by man, and it is the evidence of favour which God Himself could never repeat. The volume of wrath, curse, judgement, and woe which encircled Golgotha, the regions of the lost could not enclose; and heaven itself shall not be vast enough to circumscribe the love, the grace, and the mercy which have been there expressed.

Waterloo

At the battle of Waterloo an officer galloped up to the Duke of Wellington, reporting on behalf of his superior that they could not hold their position, and that they must have reinforcements. The Iron Duke replied “Tell him to stand”. The soldier galloped back and delivered the message. Presently another officer came with the same request, but the Duke’s answer was the same: “Tell him to stand”. He went back, and soon a third came, begging in the name of his superior for help. “Tell him to stand” said the Duke. The soldier saluted: “You will find us there, Sir” and when the battle was fought and won, there they were, all of them, dead in their place. They were prepared to stand––and to die in their stand. Are we––those who “have not yet resisted unto blood” (Heb. 12: 4)––prepared to stand?

The Peril Of Position

Failure at a crucial moment may mar the entire outcome of a life. A man who has enjoyed special light is made bold to follow in the way of the Lord, and is enabled to guide others therein. He rises to a place of love and respect among the godly, and this in turn gives him a prominence in the eyes of men generally. What then? The temptation is to carefully protect the position he has gained, and to do nothing to endanger it. The man, so recently a faithful servant of Christ, compromises with worldlings, and to silence his own conscience invents a theory by which such compromises are justified, or even commended. He maintains his position of prominence but has, in reality, gone over to the enemy. His god is no longer Christ but place amongst men. Sadly, the whole force of his former life now works for the wrong side. It may be that the Lord will scourge him back to the faithfulness, but if not, he will more than likely grow more and more perverse until he becomes a ring–leader among the opposers of God’s truth (though nominally still a supporter of the cause of Christ). Brethren, let us watch with care lest any of us be found on this downward road to ruin. Position ought to be nothing with us, and Christ everything.

Real Faith

The darker the night, then the brighter faith shines. Under the sunbeams of God’s blessing, when things are prosperous, it is easy to profess a trust in God. It is in an evil day, when heaven is shut up, and the fruitful land has become a barren waste that real faith reveals itself. Thus it was with the prophet Habakkuk. He spoke for God in the days of Josiah when the land was enjoying its final revival, and there was much in the way of blessing. Yet the prophet had been given a vision of what was to come, and he knew that the clouds of judgement were gathering, and that soon all around him would be swept away. What then of the faith of the prophet? Would it fail when the blessing failed? Not at all! The OT can give few examples of faith to match that of his moving declaration: “For though the fig–tree shall not blossom, Neither shall fruit be in the vines; The labour of the olive–tree shall fail, And the fields shall yield no food; The flock shall be cut off from the fold, And there shall be no herd in the stalls: Yet I will rejoice in Jehovah, I will joy in the God of my salvation” (Hab. 3: 17–18). Though the land flowing with milk and honey be reduced to a leafless desert, the faith of the prophet would stand firm. Indeed, not only would he not waver in his trust, but he would rejoice in God! Yes, this is real faith––founded not upon the superficial but on the rock. This is faith that will stand not only in the green tree, but also in the dry. This in reality, is faith in God. Reader, is this your faith?

God’s Heroes

God is a far better historian than man. Many ‘great’ men lived in ‘Bible–times’––kings, warriors, philosophers, travellers––but the Scriptures do not notice them. In God’s eyes they were not particularly important, however loud the praise of men. By contrast, Scripture sees fit to name many an individual long forgotten by history––names that will live forever in the divine record. Zechariah the son of Jehoida––faithful unto death (2 Chron. 24: 20, 21); Onesiphorus––not ashamed of the chain of a rejected apostle 2 Tim. 1: 16; Gaius––holding fast the truth in an evil day (3 John 3). The names go on and on––those “of whom the world was not worthy” (Heb. 11: 38)––and thus whom the world does not remember. God, however, has a “book of remembrance” (Mal. 3: 16) and they are in it.

The Church And The Bible

About 100 years ago a Hebrew scholar was given a special introduction to the chief librarian of the Vatican library with a view to the study of its Hebrew manuscripts. The scholar requested that his friend (who was also learned in the ancient Hebrew language) be allowed to accompany him. During his time in the library, the friend examined the ceiling which was gaudily painted with pictures of all the councils of the Church from the Council of Nicaea to that of Trent. In the first picture, denoting the Council of Nicaea held in 325A.D, he noted that no prelate or potentate occupied the chair. The Bishop of Rome and the Emperor of Rome had both declined to preside over the council. Only the Bible was placed on the chair. In the succeeding pictures of the various councils, man became more and more prominent and the Bible more and more insignificant. In the second picture, the Bible was placed by the side of the chair. In the following pictures the Bible got smaller and smaller until at the Council of Trent in 1545 A.D. it vanished altogether. While this was unintentional, it nonetheless provided a fitting symbolical representation of the relationship between the Church and the Bible. As the one increased in authority, the authority of the other decreased.

A Saviour First

At the close of an address many years ago, a stranger accosted the speaker and said “I don’t like your preaching. I do not care for the cross. I think that instead of preaching the death of Christ, it would be far better to preach Jesus the teacher and example”.

   The preacher replied “Would you be willing to follow Him if I preach Christ as the Example?” “I would” said the stranger “I will follow in His steps”.

   “Then” said the preacher, “let us take the first step––Who did no sin?” (see 1 Pet. 2: 22). “Can you take this step”.

   The stranger looked confused. “No” he said, “I do sin”.

   “Well then”, said the preacher “your first need of Christ is not as an example, but as a Saviour”.

Certainties

Michael Faraday, the distinguished scientist, was asked by some of his students as he neared death, “what are your speculations now?” He immediately replied: “Speculations I have none––I am resting on certainties”. Then he repeated slowly and deliberately, “for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep for that day the deposit I have entrusted to him” (2 Tim. 1: 12).

The Power of The Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit is typified in both Testaments by the wind, and among the numerous effects of the wind, nothing is more strange than the way in which it transforms weak and fragile things into missiles of immense power. I have sometimes seen photographs of straws and feathers, deeply embedded into hard wood by the power of the wind during a tropical tornado. It seems physically impossible for a straw to be driven into oak like a nail; but the wind does it and nothing else can. Nor can any power other than the Holy Spirit make men and women of common–place character and attainments to become instruments of irresistible strength.

Go Home To Thy Friends

Mark it well dear brethren, the injunction of the Lord is not merely, Go to the world, or, Go to every creature; but, “Go home to thy friends” (Mark 5: 19 AV). How comes it that there is such difficulty often in speaking to our friends? Why is it that persons who are bold enough with strangers are so timid before their relatives and friends? It often tells a tale which it is well to bear in mind. We shrink from the comparison which our friends are so apt and sure to make, who test our words––however clear and good––by that which they have abundant means of ascertaining in our daily ways. An inconsistent walk makes a coward, at least, before “our friends”. It would be well if it really had the effect of humbling us before all. Were there genuine lowliness with fidelity before God, there would be courage, not only before strangers, but before “our friends”.

Books

Character is to a great extent formed by the books we read and the people we keep company with. The artificial culture of the day is destroying depth and force of character. A frivolous society and a light literature are forming a superficial race of men and women. Thus the present moment is a rare opportunity for individual character to assert itself and leave its mark for God. Indiscriminate reading, and reading to while away time hanging heavily on your hands, are ruinous to the mind. Thoughts are poured in and run out, leaving no lasting impression––what a waste of time and mind! Shun, as you would the plague, a literature frivolous in character, or, worse still, one which directly or covertly denies the inspiration and the supreme authority of the sacred Scriptures. It ought to be acknowledged that a vile and pernicious literature has wrecked the morals of the country. Sadly, noble men and women, and a pure–minded people, were more general in the past than now. I repeat, mind and character are formed by the literature of the day. For this reason, make the Bible your daily companion, It is the only way to be kept, morally, above the cesspit that is this world. Furthermore, do not simply read it, but study it. Those who say they haven’t the time are often those who find time for all kinds of light reading. If there is no time for God’s book, then there is no time for any other book!

Him

When the bride addresses her beloved, she does not name Him. It is simply “Let him kiss me” (S. of S. 1: 2). Her heart is so full that she supposes every one must know who she means by Him. She sees no need to name the One engaging her loving, longing soul. It is the language of total engrossment with Christ. Mary speaks in the same way: “Sir, if thou hast borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away” (John 20: 15). She does not speak of “Christ” or “Jesus” but Him. The heart is so enthralled with this One, she takes for granted that no one will expect her to speak of anyone else but Him.

   Similar captivation we find elsewhere: “To him who loves us, and has washed us from our sins in his blood, and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father: to him [be] the glory and the might to the ages of ages. Amen” (Rev. 1: 5, 6). That is John, the disciple whom Jesus loved. “To know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being conformed to his death” (Phil. 3: 10). That is Paul, the one changed forever by those words “
I am Jesus, whom thou persecutest” (Acts 9: 5). These men were not mere students of doctrine––theologians in their day––but men utterly absorbed with the Master. Peter, another one such, could say: “Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast words of life eternal” (John 6: 68).

   How engrossed the heart must be to give out such an utterance as “Let him kiss me”! There is only One to whom the bride will accord this intimacy, for He has loved her and given Himself for her, and will shortly present her “to himself glorious, having no spot, or wrinkle, or any of such things” (Eph. 5: 27). How she longs for the tokens of His love: “Let him kiss me”. My friend, do you know anything of this? The lover of Christ has but One in his vision, entrancing his soul and thrilling his heart––
Him.

What Is Permanent

Doubting, inconsistency and unbelief are all to pass away. Sorrow and pain, trials and troubles, are not permanent. A few more turns of the clock and swings of the pendulum, and then farewell forever to sin and failures. Farewell to doubts and fears––a final farewell. We are to be conformed to the image of God’s Son (see Rom. 8: 29). We shall be ushered into the region of light and of eternal realities. Then, goodbye faith and farewell hope. Then, we shall launch out into one great eternal sea of love. Faith and hope make very good companions on the road, but not for eternity. They go with us to the gate, but love is inside. God is love. We shall be plunged into the ocean of love, lost in it, never to come out. It is shoreless, bottomless, and infinite. We shall soon be in a region where we shall know as we are known see (1Cor. 13: 12), and there will not be a thought or a feeling which will be unlike Christ. No trouble or sorrow, for all will have forever passed away. The first thousand years in glory will roll along with hallelujah to the Lamb. Another thousand comes, and we are still praising Him. The pendulum of praise never ceases to swing. He will be the object of our adoring praise and worship forever. Eternity! How long is it? Not too long to gaze on the Lamb. Then the permanent. Nothing but Christ––the Christ of God––forever and forever.

Bereavement

The one who for many years has been walking beside you as a fellow–heir of the grace of life, is now no more with you, and you have to journey on more solitary, and yet still needing care and company every day. You have to feel the need in order that you may look for and enjoy the way in which the Lord will meet it. The more desolate you are here, the more you will find in Christ if your heart truly turns to Him. He in His discipline allows the blank, not that you should sorrow and pine because of it, but in order that He may occupy it Himself. He has removed a partial and a transitory comfort, in order that He might fill the empty space with what is perfect and eternal. He often gives us in the human friend the mould of what He would be to us as the perfect and enduring one. As a mould is used to form gold into shapes and figures approved by the owner, so does the Lord teach us that your dearest friend is only, in comparison, a mould for Himself. Now as the mould is made only of earth, so is there as great a contrast between the human friend and the Lord Himself as between the earthen vessel and the gold. You would not complain of the mould being broken if you were in possession of the One who had only been using the mould to bring Himself into that peculiar nearness to you which the mould expressed. All that was really good in the mould was of Christ––the real attractiveness of it was derived from Christ––very near you and very dear to you––but a greater than the mould is here beside you, and you in spirit are called by Him to enjoy His divine preciousness without any mixture, failure, or cessation. I know you must feel it a very lonely time, but every gourd in time must come down, that the full beauty of Christ may satisfy and delight our hearts. May this be your rich experience.

The Devil’s Advice

The Devil is very interested in Christians and makes it his business to be available to give advice whenever they are perplexed about this or that. In particular the Devil is very interested in Christians who read their Bibles, for it is in that book they learn the will of One who would urge them along in a different way to that championed by himself. Thus it follows that the Devil loves to counsel the saints on how to read God’s Word to ensure that however much or little they read, they are kept from the path of obedience to God’s will.

   Many of God’s people are bewildered by the conflicting doctrinal views so prevalent in the Church today, and distressed by the subsequent division to which these opposing views have led. So what is the remedy? “Why, leave out the ‘views’!” say some––“don’t define”. Thus union is pursued at the expense of truth. Yet suppose Scripture does define? This will mean in that case “Don’t go too deep into Scripture, don’t examine it too closely”. We ought to know whose voice suggests this! It is one and the same voice that says to one person “Be humble: don’t imagine that your opinion has any more credibility than anyone else’s” and to another “Be charitable: good men differ about these things”, and to another “Don’t contend for this: you will make enemies, you will lose friends”, and to another “You are not learned: don’t occupy yourself with what requires a theologian to decide about”, and to yet another “The church has settled this––it was sorted out years ago”, and––getting more and more the Dragon’s voice––“Oh, but surely there are mistakes in the Bible: it is only outdated ignorance that contends for verbal inspiration!” So the form of the argument varies, but the voice throughout is that of the liar from the beginning, him who abode not in the truth. His object is always to discredit God’s Word: “Don’t go too far”, “Don’t be too sure”, “Don’t be dogmatic”, “Don’t be uncharitable”. The Devil knows people well, and what the chord in each that will be most responsive to his touch. He is a good chemist too, and can mix his poisons so that there will be scarcely taste or smell of the principal ingredient, but it will do its work all the same. Let us then, beloved, be on our guard, for the history of Christendom is a solemn witness to the awful consequences of heeding the smooth words of the enemy of souls.

Textless Principles

In all associations of men, whatever they may be, a certain number of concise and stereotyped expressions peculiar to each association is found. Of course these expressions can be useful in that they convey the thoughts of those more gifted in simple language for the benefit of their fellows. Amongst Christians in general the word “Trinity” is perhaps the most well–known example. Each denomination in Christendom ,however, has its own peculiar doctrines and beliefs, and so the vocabulary varies accordingly. Thus the phraseology of the Anglican differs from the Pentecostal, and the Brethren do not use quite the same vocabulary as the Baptists.

   Yet while these expressions have their purpose and cannot easily be avoided, there is a great danger in them for those who do not think for themselves, nor inquire into what they mean. A man may be brought up in a certain religious environment, and become acquainted with a distinct vocabulary from infancy, or perhaps he joins of his own will some religious body, and in time becomes expert in its cut and dried forms of speech. Thus the phrases, which were coined by thoughtful minds to convey to others the great leading principles of their belief, are taken up by these more superficial minds, and bandied about amongst them, as though they knew all that these convenient forms of expression were intended to convey. Then, as so often happens, some crisis arrives, and an upheaval takes place in the little party to which they belong which serves to reveal the fact that they never really knew the meaning of the words they had so constantly used.

   This is a peril of which the child of God should be very much aware. Every saying of this kind, if not understood, is not only valueless but treacherous. It is like a deceitful bow, or a badly tempered sword––useless to him who trusts it in the day of battle. They have a trite and hackneyed phraseology at their finger–tips, but their minds are barren of real knowledge. Words cannot be done without, but we want the things to which the words relate. The danger is to those who will not trouble themselves to search the Scriptures in the fear of God, so that their faith should be in His power and not in man’s wisdom.

The Praying Man

If anyone could have lived without prayer, it was our spotless, perfect Lord. Yet no one was in supplication as often as He! His love for His Father was so great that He needed to be in constant communion with Him, and His love for His people was so strong that He desired to be in constant intercession for them: “And it came to pass in those days that he went out into the mountain to pray, and he spent the night in prayer to God” (Luke 6: 12).

   The time He chose is worthy of our notice. It was evening, the hour of silence, when the crowd would not disturb Him. It was a time of inactivity when everyone but Christ ceased to labour. While sleep made men forget their woes and to cease coming to Him for relief, He interceded for them. While others found rest in sleep, He refreshed Himself with prayer.

   The place the Lord chose is also of interest. He was alone where none could intrude, and none could observe. Those dark and silent hills were a perfect prayer closet for the Son of God. The world below knew nothing of the groans and sighs of this mysterious Stranger of Galilee, this Messenger from an altogether different world. Who can begin to imagine the words that came out from those holy lips as He laboured in the midnight stillness?

   The continuance of His pleadings is remarkable. The long night was not too long for Him. The cold wind did not chill His devotions. The grim darkness did not weaken His committal. The loneliness did not check His intercession. Prayer was something He could not do without, and prayer was what He delighted in.

   The occasion of the prayer is notable - it was after His enemies had been enraged (v11). Prayer was His refuge and solace. If this world could not understand Him, there was One with whom He shared a holy and flawless communion. He prayed before He chose the twelve apostles (v13), though if ever there was a man who had wisdom enough for the task it was He. In everything He turned to hear His Father’s Word, for He was the ever-dependent man.

   This then is the man of Prayer - the One who was never too weary to pray, and the One who never wearied Himself in prayer. What an example for us to follow!

Against the Wind

I’m told that the beautiful birds of Paradise fly only one way––against the wind! If they fly with it, their tapering tails and lovely plumage get filled with the wind; and, tossed and spoiled, they soon fall to the ground.

   Birds of Paradise we are, but our safety lies in flying against “every wind of doctrine” (Eph. 4: 14 AV) and evil elements controlled by “the ruler of the authority of the air” (Eph. 2: 2). If we would retain the beautiful features of grace and holiness and Christ–like virtues, we must fly, not with, but against “the course of this world” (Eph. 2: 2 AV).

Absent Amens

Take note that 1 Cor. 14: 16 supposes that each in the assembly, even the unlearned and inconspicuous, do say ‘Amen’. They say it, and not merely think it. If personal experience is any guide, only a very small percentage in the assembly say ‘Amen’ today. This ought not to be. If a brother really voices our desires let us ratify what he has uttered with a good distinct ‘Amen’. If he has not, honesty compels us to refrain from saying it. If, on the one hand, the earnest, fervent outpouring of our desires were ratified by all of us in the utterance of a hearty ‘Amen’ at the close, and, on the other hand, the wearisome parade of information, and discussion of doctrines with God, which is sometimes inflicted on us at great length as a substitute for prayer, were ended in a rather chilling silence, the offender might possibly be awakened as to what he is doing. When however, every prayer finishes in silence except for a few feeble ‘Amens”, no such discrimination can be felt, and one begins to fear that all may be formalism with little or no meaning or depth. Let us think on these things and cultivate reality. 

Soul Winning

What we want to see in all God’s children is that earnest love for souls, that keenness for soul–winning, that intense love which makes them do anything rather than miss a single soul. We want to see that earnestness which makes one say, ‘I do not care one atom for my reputation so long as I can get down and grasp that soul’. However, souls refuse to be grasped by unloving and tenderless hands. This is where the love of the Spirit is so important in all God’s workers. People must not be looked down on from a pedestal. No, we must get right down to their level, and not only understand their difficulties as far as we can, but get lower than they are, and grasp them with a loving, tender hand. No one cares to go to a tenderless physician. We would prefer to go to a physician who will be gentle and loving and kind towards our defect, and who will tell us how he can put it right. Oh how sad that among Christians––and I daresay you and I have often come across it––there should be that lack of tenderness! Those are the Christians whom God often has to crush, perhaps by some heavy sorrow or by some awful failure in their life or in their service. God puts His hand upon them, not in order that He may cause them to despair, but in order that His love may break into them, and that thereby they may be made vessels really meet for His use.

Christ's Glory

What a story Joseph’s brothers had to tell their father, Jacob. Undoubtedly they would have to confess their sin in his presence, and tell the truth about what really had happened to Joseph. Yet they would get beyond the preoccupation with their sin, and begin to tell Jacob about the glory of Joseph (Gen. 45: 13). So it is when we come into the presence of God in worship. God does not want us to be preoccupied with our sin. God wants us to tell Him about the glory that belongs to His Son, to rejoice with Him in the place that Christ now occupies at His own right hand.

Nothing more odd

Though I have met with odd thoughts, odd words, odd deeds, and odd people, one of the oddest, the strangest, and most unaccountable things in the world to me is this––that a man believing his Bible and knowing that there is but a step between him and death, should employ every power of his body, soul and spirit, to possess himself of the passing shadows of time, and leave unsought the enduring realities of eternity.

How To Read

A preacher once described three things that could be seen in a garden. The first object was a butterfly that alighted on an attractive flower, sat for a second or two, then moved on to another, seeing and touching many lovely blossoms but deriving no benefit from them. Next came a botanist with a large notebook and a microscope. He spent some time over each flower and plant and made copious notes of each. When he had finished, his knowledge was shut away in his notebook: very little of it remained in his mind. Then a busy bee came along, entering a flower here and there and spending some time in each, but emerging from each blossom laden with pollen. It went in empty and came out full.

   There are those who read the Bible, going from one favourite passage to another, but getting little from their reading. Others really study and make notes, but do not get to really know the teachings of the Scriptures. Still others, like the bee, mark and inwardly digest it; and it feeds their minds with wisdom and their lives with heavenly sweetness.

What Price?

Then one of the twelve, he who was called Judas Iscariote, went to the chief priests and said, What are ye willing to give me, and I will deliver him up to you? And they appointed to him thirty pieces of silver” (Matt. 26: 14, 15). What kind of valuation was this? It was but the price of a mere slave, and that of a slave gored to death by an angry bull (Ex. 21: 32). Yet this was how Israel’s leaders evaluated the Son of God––quite unaware that, in divine eyes, they were themselves wild “bulls of Bashan” (Ps 22: 12 AV). Now under the law it was permitted to put such a price on a dead slave, but if a son was gored to death, only the bereaved father was capable of knowing his value. How much more so can the true worth of God’s well–beloved Son be only appreciated by the Father Himself!

On Translations

It is a mistake to attribute to a translation of the Scriptures what belongs to Scripture itself. Scripture, being the Word of God, is without defect. A translation, being the work of man (however godly) can never be similarly perfect. It is not only absurd but dangerous to speak of a particular version as ‘inspired’ (and by implication, ‘infallible’). Inspiration relates to the writing of Scripture (2 Tim. 3: 16), not its translation.

The Prospect

Oh, what enlightenment, what joy, what consolation and what delight of heart is experienced by that man who has learned to feed on Christ, and on Christ alone. Yet the realisation which we have of Christ’s preciousness is, in this life, imperfect at best. As another has said, “It is only a taste!” We have “tasted that the Lord [is] good” (1 Pet. 2: 3), but we do not yet know how good and gracious He is, although what we know of His sweetness makes us long for more. We have enjoyed the first fruits of the Spirit, and they have set us hungering and thirsting for the fulness of the heavenly vintage. We have many ungratified desires at present, but soon every right wish shall be satisfied; and all our powers shall find the sweetest employment in that eternal world of joy. O Christian, within a very little time you will be rid of all your trials and troubles. You will gaze in unimaginable rapture upon the splendour of Him who sits upon the throne. Indeed, upon His throne you will sit. The triumph of His glory will be shared with you; His crown, His joy, His paradise, these shall be yours, and you will be co–heir with Him who is heir of all things. Marvellous prospect!

Pen, Paper and Ink

The apostle John, in writing his second and third epistles, uses the words pen, paper and ink. These words are not used indiscriminately. In writing to a sister in 2 John 12 he says “Having many things to write to you, I would not with paper and ink”––he does not mention the pen.; in writing to a brother in 3 John 13 he says “I had many things to write to thee, but I will not with ink and pen write to thee”––he does not mention the paper. What is common in both cases is the ink. Now the pen is the agent used to make the impression with the ink; the paper is the medium on which the impression is made. What is objective in Scripture is generally identified with the man; what is subjective with the woman. In 2 Cor. 3: 2, Paul says of the Corinthians “Ye are our letter, written in our hearts, known and read of all men, being manifested to be Christ’s epistle ministered by us, written, not with ink, but [the] Spirit of [the] living God; not on stone tables, but on fleshly tables of [the] heart”. Thus the ink (mentioned in both 2 John and 3 John) represents the Spirit of God, the paper is the hearts of the saints and the pen is Paul and the apostles.

Blotted Out

The Hebrew word translated “destroy” in Genesis 7: 4 is the same word as that used for “blotted out” in Isaiah 44: 22. It means to “wipe away” or “rub off”. What God did in physically wiping away a corrupt world in the time of Noah, He has now done with the sins of those who have trusted in Christ. He has wiped the slate completely clean, declaring “their sins and their lawlessnesses I will never remember any more” (Heb. 10: 17).

Christian Service

Connect your service with nothing but God––not with any particular set of persons. You may be comforted by fellowship, and your heart refreshed, but you must work by your own individual faith and energy without leaning on anyone whatever––for if you do, you cannot be a faithful servant. Service must always be based on personal faith and one’s own communion with God. While there are many choice blessings given to us here in fellowship, a man’s service must flow from himself, otherwise there will be weakness. In every age the blessing has been from individual agency, and the moment it has ceased to be this, it has declined into the world. The tendency of association is to make us lean upon one another, but where an individual is in question then it is more than likely that all comes immediately from God.

   When there are great arrangements for carrying on work there is not the recognition of the inherent blessing which “tarrieth not for man, neither waiteth for the sons of men” (Mic. 5: 7). I will not tarry for man if I have faith in God. I will act upon the strength of that faith. Let a man act as God leads him. The Spirit of God is not to be fettered by man.

   All power arises from the direct authoritative energy of the Holy Spirit
in the individual. Paul and Barnabas were sent forth by the Holy Spirit (Acts 13: 4), committed to the grace of God by the Church at Antioch, but they had no communication with that company until they returned, when they “related to them all that God had done with them” (Acts 14: 27). He that had talents went and traded. Thus, on another occasion, Paul “took not counsel with flesh and blood” (Gal. 1: 16). Where there is a desire to act, accompanied by real energy, a man will rise up and walk. If he cannot do this, the energy is not there and the attempt to move is only restlessness and weakness.

Nothing Between

A young believer suddenly called into the presence of her Lord wrote, a few days before her departure, that she had one wish for herself, which was that there might be “nothing between” herself and her Lord. How we ought to echo her words!

   It does not need a mountain to shut out an object from our view. A very small thing, if it be near us, is sufficient. Thus a little affection wrongly placed may shut out from view the deep and mighty love of Christ. In our heavenward course it is not the larger things we have so much to dread as those which, from their very smallness, we are apt to disregard. In Solomon’s Song we read, “Take us the foxes, The little foxes, that spoil the vineyards” (2: 15). They are only “little”, but behold, how much damage they do!

   Communion is what the Lord is seeking from us––such a fellowship and sympathy of love as dwelt in the soul of Mary and led her to leave the service of tables, in which with Martha she had been occupied, for the higher service of holding converse with her Lord. We are slow to learn that the worship of the heart is a higher thing than the service of hands. Do we claim the heart of Christ? Then let Him have ours. He will be content with nothing less. Mary’s history tells us that service must not come between the soul and Christ, but alas there are other much darker things that come between––little unbeliefs, little distrusts, little worldlinesses, little self–pleasings. These may not come into the category of positive transgressions, but they nonetheless shut out the immediate presence of the Lord.

   May our earnest prayer be that nothing may be allowed to come between our souls and Christ. Let us remember that love makes much of what may be called trifles, much of those little straws in life’s history that tell which way the wind is blowing. Such little things if carefully watched would often reveal the sad secret that the wind is not sending us nearer and nearer to Him whom our souls ought to love most, but rather towards that which shuts Him out! May our aim always be “Nothing between”!

Saints or Sinners

Some people talk of a “believing sinner”, or speak of the worship offered to God by “poor sinners”. Many hymns indeed never bring the soul beyond this condition. This is not the language of the Word of God. In Scripture, the term “sinner” means a soul altogether without peace, a soul which may perhaps feel its want of Christ (having been quickened by the Spirit) but which lacks the knowledge of redemption. We who have peace with God should view ourselves as He views us––as saints. Thus, for example, when Paul writes to the Corinthians, he address them not as sinners, although some of them were clearly going on in sin, but as saints (see 1 Cor. 1: 2). If I have failed in anything, will taking the ground of a poor sinner make me feel the sin more? No, not at all. In fact, the effect is quite the opposite. Now take the ground of being a saint. If I am such, blest in God’s beloved Son, made one with Christ, and the Holy Spirit given to dwell in me, then I say, How awful if I have failed, and broken down, and dishonoured the Lord, and been indifferent to His glory! If my state is realised, how I will abhor my coldness and indifference, how great will be the sense of sin! To take the ground of a poor sinner by contrast, is really, though it may not be intended, to make excuses for evil. Which of the two ways would act most powerfully upon the conscience? Which humbles man and exalts God most? Clearly the more that you realise what God has given you, and made you in Christ, the more, if you are walking inconsistently with that, you feel the sin and dishonour of your course. If however, you keep speaking about yourself merely as a sinner, it may seem lowly to those who are superficial, but in reality it only serves as a palliative of your evil. What kind of behaviour, after all, can be expected of a “poor sinner”?

An Old Saying

There is an old saying that if you have the Word and not the Spirit you will dry up. If you have the Spirit and not the Word you will blow up. But if you have the Spirit and the Word you will grow up. This sounds good, but it is not true.

   Whereas it is possible to have the Word (in the sense of reading the Bible without faith), and not the Spirit of God, the converse cannot ever be true. You cannot ‘have the Spirit’ and not the Word. If you have the Spirit without the Word, then it is not the Holy Spirit that you have experienced. The Holy Spirit is never separated from the Word He inspired. Therefore when things happen to people which are outside the Word, they are not caused by God’s Spirit at all, however apparently blessed they may feel.

God’s Free Will

As the prerogative of life and death is vested in the monarch, so the Judge of all the earth has a right to spare or condemn the guilty. Men by their sins have forfeited all claim upon God. They deserve to perish for their sins, and if they all do so, they cannot accuse Him of unfairness. Foolish and impudent are all those arguments about the rights of men deserving consideration by the holy God. Ignorant, if not worse, are those contentions against discriminating grace which are rebellions of proud human nature against the crown and sceptre of Jehovah. When we see our own wickedness and the justice of the divine verdict against sin, we no longer grumble at the truth that the Lord is not bound to save us. If He looks upon us, it will be His own free act of undeserved goodness, for which we shall forever bless His name. There is no more humbling doctrine in Scripture than that of salvation by grace, and none more deserving of our gratitude.

Our Eyes

Satan will do anything to get the eye off Christ. He will occupy the sinner with his sins; the penitent with his repentance; the believer with his faith; the servant with his service; the saint with his holiness; anything to keep him occupied with himself instead of Christ. He will bring any veil between the soul and Christ. It may be the filthy rag of the sinner or the beauteous veil of the saint, but the effect is the same––the eye is not on Christ.

Jesus Wept

All know that the verses of our Bible are merely a human arrangement, and yet who can doubt that the Spirit of God controlled the one who put these two words––“Jesus wept”–– in a single verse (John 11: 25). They indeed should stand alone as they afford such an inlet into the recesses of the Lord’s heart. They have been the comfort of mourners in all ages, and they continue to minister consolation to His people until God Himself shall wipe away all tears from their faces.

Two Words

There are two words employed by the Holy Spirit, in relation to Himself, in the Scriptures which at first sight may be thought of as having little difference between them. I refer to “filled” and “full”. If I speak of a vessel as being filled, then two things are implied by the word “filled”. The first is that it previously was empty, or at any rate it was not full; the second is that the action of filling the vessel was carried out by another. Both implications have reference to its past state. In contrast, the word “full” describes only the present state of the vessel without any reference to its past state whatever.

   There are numerous examples in the NT of persons being filled with the Holy Spirit. John the Baptist was to “be filled with [the] Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb” (Luke 1: 15). Again, on the day of Pentecost, we read “And they were all filled with [the] Holy Spirit” (Acts 2: 4). Saints having been filled are also described, such as Stephen, as “being full of [the] Holy Spirit” (Acts 7: 55).

   However, when we come to that Perfect Man, the Lord Jesus Christ, the language is different. In Luke 4: 1 we read “Jesus, full of [the] Holy Spirit …”, but we
never read of the Lord as being “filled with the Holy Spirit”. Can you see why? For the Spirit of God to speak thus would imply that there was a time when He was not full––it would suggest a flaw in His perfect manhood. Again, who would effect the filling––for He, who as man, is described as full of the Holy Spirit is nevertheless God over all and blessed forever! What minute perfection there is in the Word of God.

Chosen

“According as he has chosen us in him before [the] world’s foundation” (Eph. 1: 4). That expression shows that we have nothing to do with this world––we only pass through it. The earthly people of God are chosen from the foundation of the world (Rev. 13: 8, Matt. 25: 34); the heavenly people of God are chosen before the world began. God thought of us before He thought of Israel and yet we hear of Israel first!

Looking For Him

The Lord Jesus would always keep the hope of His return before the eye of His believing people as the one bright object of their expectation and desire. It is by no means a question of time. Astronomy teaches that there are ninety–five million miles between the Sun and the spectator; but so long as there is nothing between, its brightness and warmth are experienced notwithstanding the distance. Any object intervening however, whether large or small will intercept the brightness and diminish the warmth. Thus it is with the hope of the Lord’s return: so long as it is regarded as the next thing to be expected and the first object of desire, the brightness and the power of the hope are experienced; but anything whatsoever between, whether Antichrist or the tribulation, takes away the brightness and nullifies the power.

Martha’s Fault

Martha’s fault was not that she served. Every Christian must be a servant. Nor was it that she was engaged in much serving. We cannot do too much. Let our head, heart and hands be engaged in the Master’s service. It was no fault of hers that she was busy preparing a feast for the Master. Martha was happy to have an opportunity to entertain her honourable Guest. Her fault was that she became distracted with much serving (Luke 10: 40) so that she forgot Him and only remembered the service. She allowed service to override communion and so presented one duty darkened by the neglect of another. We ought to be Martha and Mary in one. We should do much service and have much communion at the same time. For this we need great grace. It is easier to serve than commune. Joshua never grew weary in fighting the Amalekites, but Moses on the top of the mountain in prayer needed two helpers to sustain his hands. The more spiritual the exercise, the sooner we tire of it. See to it that sitting at the Saviour’s feet is not neglected, even though it may be under the deceptive pretext of doing service for Him. The first thing for our soul’s health, for His glory, and for our own usefulness, is to keep ourselves in constant communion with the Lord Jesus. We must see that the vital spirituality of our faith is maintained above everything else in the world.

Divine Cement

In a day of trial like the present, and in times of pressure, a true friendship is invaluable, and where can we find it except amongst those who love Christ? How needful too to strengthen the friendship by being careful to cherish the love of Christ and to allow nothing to come in and hinder the friendship, or to bring in grit or ill feeling among the friends. There is a great need of the binding power of cement, the cement of divine love. If we remove the cement, the structure will fall. It is a poor thing to be found quarrelling and backbiting, or to be envious and jealous of one another––it is like taking away the cement from the wall. It leads to break up and trouble.

God’s Way Of Giving

God sends the rain and fruitful seasons, but though they come, they never come in the same way in any one year. I find that, as a rule, whenever I need anything that it comes from a quarter that I never expected. Not only that, but it does not now come from the quarter where it had come before. Thus God keeps the eye on Himself and not on the donor.

Values

During World War II, Lord Stamp gave a radio talk in London on the Gold Standard, and ended by saying: “I have not the smallest interest in what I have been talking about tonight, not the slightest in this or any other scale of values, excepting that introduced into this planet by Jesus of Nazareth. His is the one and only scale of values which ultimately matters, and which no man now listening to my voice can ever afford to ignore on peril of his soul.” He died in an air raid shortly after. What values interest you?

True Learning

“Then he opened their understanding to understand the scriptures”, (Luke 24: 45)

The One who opened Scripture also opened the understanding. Many can bring the Scriptures to the mind, but the Lord alone can prepare the mind to receive the Scriptures. Our Lord Jesus differs from all other teachers. They reach the ear, but He instructs the heart. They deal with the outward letter, but He imparts an inward taste for the truth, by which we perceive its savour and spirit. The most unlearned of men become scholars under His teaching. Christ grants the divine anointing by which they are enabled to behold the invisible. How many men of profound learning are ignorant of eternal things! They know the dead letter of revelation, but they cannot discern its living spirit. They have a veil upon their hearts which the eyes of human reason cannot penetrate. We were once as blind as they are. Truth was to us as beauty in the dark, a thing unnoticed and neglected. Had it not been for the love of Christ we would have remained in ignorance. Without His gracious opening of our understanding, we could no more have attained to spiritual knowledge than an infant can climb the pyramids. The School of Christ is the only one in which God’s truth can be learned. Let us sit at the feet of the Lord Jesus, and by earnest prayer let us call upon His blessed aid that our feeble understanding may receive heavenly things.

Judging

We must never forget that, while we stand in grace, we are to walk in holiness. Thus, as regards the assembly, if we refuse to judge bad doctrine and bad morals, then we are not on the ground of the assembly of God at all. People say we must not judge, God says we must: “do not ye judge them that are within? But those without God judges. Remove the wicked person from amongst yourselves” (1 Cor. 5: 12, 13). If the assembly at Corinth had refused to judge that wicked person, it would have forfeited all title to be regarded as the assembly of God, and all who feared the Lord would have had to leave it. It is a very solemn matter indeed to take the ground of the assembly of God. All who do so have to bear in mind that it is not at all a question of whom we can receive, or of what we can tolerate, but what is worthy of God. We hear a great deal nowadays about the broad and the narrow. We have just to be as broad and narrow as the word of God!

A Divine Orchestra

The Bible can be likened to a symphony orchestra. Each instrument has been brought willingly, spontaneously and creatively to play its notes just as the great conductor desired, though none of them could even hear the music as a whole…the point of each part only becomes fully clear when heard in relation to all the rest.

God is for Me

It is impossible for any words to express the full meaning of that delightful phrase, “God is for me” (Ps. 56: 9). He was for us before the worlds were made. He was for us, or He would not have given His beloved Son. He was for us when He wounded the only-begotten and laid the full weight of His wrath upon Him. He was for us when we were ruined in the fall - He loved us anyway. He was for us when we were defiant rebels against Him. He was for us, or He would not have brought us humbly to seek His face. He has been for us in many struggles. We have encountered hosts of dangers. We have been assailed by temptation from without and within. How could we have remained unharmed to this hour if He had not been for us? Arrayed in all His divine attributes, He is eternally and immutably for us. And because He is for us, the voice of prayer will always ensure His help: “Then shall mine enemies return backward in the day when I call: this I know, for God is for me”. This is no uncertain hope: “this I know”, I will direct my prayer to God and look up for the answer, assured that it will come. My enemies will be defeated because God is for me. O believer how happy you are with the King of Kings at your side! If God is for you, who can stand against you?

Living Prayer

Many Christians are in the habit of using forms of prayers. I do not question the piety or propriety of the expressions used, but such a practice does not indicate spiritual vitality. People are often very sincere in using these things, and true piety gets mixed up with them, but you cannot possibly prescribe forms for life, or for the infinitely varied exercises of the soul as divinely taught and led by the Spirit. Life must be free to take its own course; you cannot anticipate its movements. A machine goes on with undeviating exactitude, always the same way; you know exactly how it will go, but it is dead. God would have His people delivered from everything like that.

   Someone may say, I do not use a form of prayer. Perhaps you have not a form printed in a book, but if your prayers always take the same shape it is very much the same thing. They once expressed the living exercises of your soul, but you have got into the way of using them now that the exercises are no longer present. God wants us to be delivered from all that; He wants living material in His house. Nothing has place in the House of God but what is living. There is so much religiousness in us, dead religiousness! I should like to see more and more the effect of the cross of Christ - to see that the man who can take up religious forms has gone from before God. Nothing counts now but what is living and, as I said before, you cannot anticipate the movements of a living thing. It moves in the energy of its own vitality. I feel what a lack of spiritual vitality there is, and yet nothing else really has place in the House of God but what is vital and in the energy of His Spirit. Nothing but living material is found there.

The Devil’s Ally

The Devil never had greater allies than those genial. Amiable, pleasant appeasers who tolerate everything. For them, sharp contrasts are smeared into indefinite grey. The Church never suffered half as much from antagonism as from appeasement. But as someone has said “The most important things are not those about which men are agreed but those for which men will fight.

The Dual Testimony

   “And they came as far as the valley of Eschol, and cut down thence a branch with one bunch of grapes, and they bore it between two upon a pole”, (Num. 13: 23).

   Such was the weight of the fruit of the land of purpose represented in a single bunch of grapes that no one man could carry it. Likewise the testimony of the Old Testament requires the testimony of the New Testament; and conversely the testimony of the New Testament requires the testimony of the Old Testament. It needs both to bear the testimony of what “God has prepared for them that love him”, (1 Cor. 2: 9). God’s purpose of blessing rests on the shoulders of both the Old and New Testaments. It says of the Lord “And having begun from Moses and from all the prophets, he interpreted to them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself”, (Luke 24: 27).

   Those two men both bore the same fragrant fruit, they both went the same way and they would both walk in step. Yet there was a difference. One man walked in front, the other walked behind. The man who went before could not see the fruit that he carried, nor could he see the man who walked behind. Yet even though he could not see the grapes, he knew that he was carrying them. So the Lord Jesus says of those who carried the testimony in Old Testament times “For I say to you that many prophets and kings have desired to see the things which ye behold, and did not see [them]; and to hear the things which ye hear, and did not hear [them]”, (Luke 10: 24; see also 1 Pet. 1: 10–12). The OT prophets testified of God’s purpose for blessing in Christ, even though they understood little. Nonetheless they bore the grapes—their testimony is invaluable.

   The man who walked behind saw the fruit and he saw the man who walked in front. He is like the saint of New Testament times. We see the man in front, we interpret the Old Testament Scriptures in the light of the New. Nor is that all, for we see and understand the testimony that we bear: “We see Jesus”, (Heb. 2: 9)

Behold The Man (John 19: 5)

He never went to Medical School and yet there was not a single disease that He could not cure, (Matt. 4: 23, 9: 35). He never passed through the great universities of learning and yet His wisdom surpassed that of Solomon, (Luke 11: 31). He was never trained in the principles of management and administration and yet He could satisfy the hunger of thousands with a handful of loaves and fishes, (Matt. 14: 20). He never sat on the seats of government and yet He wielded more power than any man, such that the wind and waves and even demons were subject to His command, (Matt. 8: 16, 27). He was never trained in the skills of oratory and yet no man ever spake like this man spake, (John 7: 46). He offered the greatest of gifts, (John 4: 14) and yet asked for the smallest, (John 4: 7). He never learned, (John 7: 15), and yet as a boy His answers astonished the teachers of the day, (Luke 2: 46, 47). He was laid in a manger at birth because there was no room at the inn, (Luke 2: 7), yet He was born a king, (Matt. 2: 22). He did not possess a penny, (Mark 12: 15) and yet He is heir of all things, (Heb. 1: 2). He never wrote a book and yet more books have been written about Him than anyone else. He never had anywhere to lay His head, Luke 9: 58), and yet He inhabits eternity, (Is. 57: 15). Need I say more? Only one man that fits this description—His name is Jesus. Behold the Man!

The Alliance With The World

I believe it was a most serious evil when the Christians accepted an alliance with the world; but it is a totally different and most solemn issue for the world when it casts off all its connections with Christianity. It was a deep loss for Christians when they sought the world’s recognition; it will be an awful day for the world when it is so tired of the union as to throw off Christianity entirely.

The Voice And The Word

 (John 1: 14, 23)

One was the voice; the other the Word. Jesus is the Word here, John is the voice; words which, even partially apprehended, convey a marked difference. This difference is gleaned from natural communication among men. Words are used to convey the thoughts of the mind. The voice is the living means of that communication. The voice is used to speak the words in contrast to their being written. In the act of communication the voice is first, preceding the word, but it is not really before it, for the sense must have been in the mind before it was spoken. So the word, if it has been received, abides in the heart, but the voice passes away. The voice is but the means to an end. Having served to communicate the word, which was in one heart, to other hearts, the voice has done its work. Its use is as a witness, and this being accomplished, the word remains, while the witnessing voice is content to be forgotten. All this, can be applied to Him who is the Word and His forerunner and widened out to all true ministry. Initially a voice is heard which ministers the Word but finally the voice is silent but what was ministered remains embedded in the soul. 

The Three Opposition Currents

Christianity is beset with three powerful currents which insidiously operate to deflect her from her course. Materialism, which denies or ignores the supernatural and concentrates its energies on improving the outward conditions of human life; criticism, which is clever at analysis and dissection but cannot construct a foundation on which the religious faculty may build and rest; and a fine literary taste, which is disposed to judge of power by force of words or by delicacy of expression. There is but one reply to these attempts to undermine the rock bed of our faith in Christ, and that is, the Christ in the lovingness of His all–satisfying love and His almighty grace, dwelling in the heart and life by the active operation of the Holy Spirit, for heaven’s facts are only made known to the faith which is born of Him.

Spiritual Exercises

Every Christian company, both large and small, has at times to face difficult spiritual exercises. The matters being sifted generally add little or nothing to the truth , for very often there is agreement as to points of doctrine. More often than not it is not doctrine that produces conflict but personalities. Alas for those petty matters, those tiny, puny things which sow discord among brethren! There are tale–bearers and back–biters, persons not contending about the Supremacy of Christ, but speaking of what is small and unworthy. Others there may be wanting no trouble, or exercise, just growing fat, like Eglon, king of Moab. Do you seek a path of ease? Is there any one of us who has not at some time coveted it, shrinking from local exercise? Perhaps even agreeing to differ to avoid conflict?

   In contrast to that, there are those “that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters”, (Ps. 107: 23). These are not passengers, these are not the kind of persons that are “only just” in fellowship. These are not persons who have one foot in the world, and still remain outwardly in fellowship with God’s people. No, these are exercised persons, persons who are going to bear the brunt of the exercises. They could have sat at home, they could have had an easy time, they could have said, as some do,
Why all this trouble? You ask, Am I to jeopardise my life and do business in great waters? You would rather be on terra firma, you say. Yet it is “They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters”, that “see the works of Jehovah, and his wonders in the deep”, (vs 23, 24). Nor is this all, “He maketh the storm a calm, and the waves thereof are still: And they rejoice because they are quiet”, (vs 29, 30). Those who get the benefit of a calm, are the persons who have been in the storm, not the persons who sit at home and refuse to shoulder the painful exercises involved in faithfulness to the Lord. The persons who appreciate the calm when it comes are those who have battled with the storm! May we heed this word!

Sacrifice

He was but a lad of nineteen when he left for Africa, an only son. In the little company at the Glasgow station stood his mother. When a friend spoke a word of comfort, she replied, “He spared not His Son”.
   Twenty two years passed before she saw him again. Twenty two years while he toiled in Africa without a break. He had buried his son, and there amid loneliness indescribable fever stricken again and again, time after time nigh unto death, he lived and toiled and suffered. At fifty six he died.

The Morning Without Clouds

   “And [he shall be] as the light of the morning, [like] the rising of the sun, a morning without clouds; [when] from the sunshine, after rain, the green grass springeth from the earth”, (2 Sam. 23: 4). Truly refreshing and soul–reviving is this. How the heart rejoices to turn away from the dark and dreary scene through which we are passing, to contemplate “A morning without clouds”. At the present moment there are no mornings without clouds. How could there be? How could a fallen race, a groaning world, enjoy a cloudless sky? Impossible!

   Wherever you look clouds and darkness meet your view. A groaning creation, a scattered Israel, a broken Church, perverted systems, false profession, corrupt principles—all these things tend to darken the horizon around us, and obscure our vision. How then the heart leaps at the thought of the morning without clouds, of “the sunshine, after rain”! The children of God have always felt this world to be a place of clouds and rain, a vale of tears; but the rising sun of the millennial morning will disperse the clouds, and God Himself shall wipe away all tears from their faces. Bright and happy prospect! Blessed be the grace that has set it before us, and the redemptive work which has secured our title to it.

A Christian

He feels supreme love for one he has never seen, talks familiarly every day to someone he cannot see, expects to go to heaven on the virtue of another, empties himself in order to be full, admits that he is wrong so that he can be declared right, goes down in order to get up, is strongest when he is weakest, richest when he is poorest, and happiest when he feels worst. He dies so that he can live, forsakes in order to have, gives away so that he can keep, sees the invisible, hears the inaudible, and knows that which passeth knowledge. The man who has met Christ is not looking for something—he has found it; he is not searching for light—he is already in it. His religion is not hearsay; he is not a copy, not a facsimile print; he is an original from the hand of the Holy Spirit.

The Death of Eli

 “And it came to pass, when he mentioned the Ark of God, that....he died”, (1 Sam. 4: 18).

   Eli’s death reveals Eli’s heart. It is in his death that we learn what may not have been apparent from Scripture during his life, namely what lay nearest to his heart. He learnt of the judgements upon his house with submission, (see 1 Sam. 2: 27–36, 3: 11–14, 18). He heard of the death of his two sons without a murmur, (1 Sam. 4: 17). Yet when he heard of the capture of the Ark, it was too much for him. Whatever his shortcomings, his weaknesses and his failures, God was precious to Eli. The loss of that which in type spoke of Christ could not fail to make manifest the true state of his heart.

Conversion Essential

Once upon a time, there was a godly Christian couple with one small child. As he grew, they followed the scriptural instruction, and sought to bring him up in the “discipline and admonition of [the] Lord”, (Eph. 6: 4). They read the Bible with him daily, had regular family prayer times and sent him to a well–reported–of Sunday School. As time went by he went to all the church meetings, and was never absent from any church activity. Eventually he expressed an interest to go full–time in Christian service, and became well–known for his preaching, labour and good works. Indeed, he was looked up to by many as a fine Christian gentleman. On his death many years later after a life–time of service there was much lamentation and grief at the passing on of this servant of the Lord.

   One day, the man was called to meet his professed Master, the very Son of God Himself. The books were opened, (Rev. 20: 12), and instead of his many supposed good works being recorded there, the words “whatever [is] not of faith is sin”, (Rom. 14: 23), and “faith without works is dead”, (James 2: 20), were found written. Another book, the book of life was opened, (Rev. 20: 12), but his name was not found, (Rev. 20: 15). He then heard the most awful words that man can ever hear, words that will ever ring in his ears and torment him throughout eternity: “I never knew you. Depart from me, workers of lawlessness”, (Matt. 7: 23).

   “Wait!” we hear the anguished cry, “Lord have we not prophesied through
thy name, and through thy name cast out demons, and through thy name done many works of power?”, (Matt. 7: 22), But the answer came, “I do not know you”, (Matt. 25: 12). He was never converted. Are you converted?

Beyond Measure

Just as an infant’s hand can grasp the acorn which holds “the giant oak” within it, so the youngest child who can recite John 3: 16 may with truth be said to know the gospel, and yet in every word of it there is a depth and mystery of meaning which God alone can fathom. Tell me what it means to perish, and enable me to grasp the thought of a life that is eternal. Measure for me the abyss of man’s wickedness and guilt during all the ages of his black and hateful history, that I may realise in some degree what that world is which God has loved; and then, pausing for a moment in wonder at the thought that such a world could be loved at all, hasten on to speak of love that gave the Son. And when you have enabled me to know this love, which cannot be known, for it passes knowledge, press on still and tell me of the sacrifice by which it has measured and proved itself—His Son, His Only begotten Son. Make me to know, in the fulness of knowledge, Him who declared that the Father alone could know Him. (Matt 11: 27) And when you have achieved all this, I turn again to the words of Christ, and I read that it was GOD who so loved the world, and I crave to know Who and What God is. I can rise to the thought of love, perhaps even to an evil world, and the conception of love giving up an only Son is not beyond me; but when I come to know that it was GOD who loved, that GOD was the giver, and GOD’S Son the gift, I stand as a wondering worshipper in the presence of the infinite, and confess that such knowledge is too high for me.

Unchanging Love

“For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but my loving–kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall my covenant of peace be removed, saith Jehovah, that hath mercy on thee”, (Is. 54: 10).

   One of the most delightful qualities of divine love is its abiding character. The pillars of the earth may be moved out of their places, but the kindness and the covenant of our merciful God will never depart from His people. How happy my soul feels in a firm belief of this inspired declaration! Another year has gone by, and the years of my life are growing few, but time does not change my Lord. New lamps are taking the place of the old; perpetual change is on all things, but our Lord is the same. Force overturns the hills, but no conceivable power can affect the eternal God. Nothing in the past, the present or the future can cause Jehovah to be unkind to me.

   My soul, rest in the
eternal loving–kindness of the Lord, who treats you as one near of kin. Remember also the everlasting covenant. God is ever mindful of it: see that you are mindful of it too. In Christ Jesus the glorious God has pledged Himself to you to be your God, and to hold you as one of His people. Loving–kindness and covenant—dwell on these words as sure and lasting things which eternity itself shall not take from you.

Living With The Living God (1 Sam. 17: 19–54)

David had had to do with the Living God; and now he saw that the name of that Living God was implicated with this challenge of Goliath. Israel looked to Israel’s resources; and what were the resources of Israel compared with those of the Philistines? Here though was one who had the mind of God—one who looked to the resources of the Living God. It was not that David had more natural courage than Saul, but that he had faith. It is true he had been in obscurity in the wilderness; but there he had learnt communion with God. And now he came forth as one fresh from the Living God and viewed all around him according to God; and what he had learnt of God in secret he brought out into the circumstances before him. This was the secret of his strength and of his victory. The circumstances were well considered, their difficulty and danger weighed, but his faith brought God into them, and acted amidst them in his wisdom, and in his power. Thus it is that David here looks on all around him. He views the army of Israel as the army of the Lord of Hosts. He looks at it in the light of Him from whose presence he had just come (1 Sam. 17: 26)

   May I ask whether our failures are not invariably here—that we have not been in secret with the Living God? This is the essential and primary matter. Do we value living with God even more than living before the saints and with the saints? I believe we prefer living before the saints to living before God and with God. We may be comforted when surrounded by the saints; but our strength is in walking in fellowship with the Living God, knowing that we are to endure as seeing Him who is invisible. The flesh itself may seek its own, and find a response, too, among the saints; but the flesh withers, it is truly grass, in the presence of God. Hence it is our security, as well as our joy, to dwell by faith “in the secret place of the Most High”, (Ps. 91: 1), and to come forth into service, in strength gathered up there. Then shall we be able to look at every foe, as David looked at Goliath: “for who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?”, (1 Sam. 17: 26).

The Strength Of Grace

Our weakness should be prized as making room for divine strength. We might never have known the power of grace if we had not felt the weakness of nature. Blessed be the Lord for the thorn for the flesh and the messenger of Satan, when they drive us to the strength of God!

   What a precious word from our Lord’s own lips is 2 Cor. 12: 9: “My grace suffices thee; for [my] power is perfected in weakness”. It has made the writer leap for joy. God’s grace is enough for me! I should think it is. Is not the sky enough for the bird, and the ocean enough for the fish? The all–sufficient is sufficient for my largest need. He who is sufficient for earth and heaven is certainly able to meet the case of one poor worm like me.

   Let us, then, fall back upon our God and His grace. If He does not remove our grief He will enable us to bear it. His strength shall be poured into us till the worm shall thresh the mountains; and a nothing shall be victor over all the high and mighty ones, (see Is. 41: 14–16). It is better for us to have God’s strength than our own; for if we were a thousand times as strong as we are, it would amount to nothing in the face of the enemy; and if we could be weaker than we are, (which is scarcely possible), yet we could do all things through Christ.

Repetition

“Wherefore I will be careful to put you always in mind of these things, although knowing [them] and established in the present truth. But I account it right, as long as I am in this tabernacle, to stir you up by putting [you] in remembrance”, (2 Pet. 1: 12, 13).

   The word repetition conjures up before the mind that which is tedious and boring. Indeed there is nothing so dead as dry repetition of the truth, whereby ministry becomes solely a statement of facts instead of a living display of the Spirit’s power. Nonetheless, we have in this scripture a divine call for truth to be continually brought before the minds of the saints—in short a call to vibrant, Spirit–led repetition.

   Truth needs to be gone over and over again for it to become part and parcel of our souls. Truth includes doctrine, and so there must be expositional ministry as well as devotional, teaching as well as exhortation. There is a great need to be established in the apostles’ doctrine, (Acts 2:42)—that is the fundamental truths of Christianity. Some may find it tiresome to go over what they regard as elementary, thus demonstrating their need, as Peter would say, to be “stirred up.” Repetition is vital if the young are to be firmly rooted in the faith—and the assembly is the place where we expect this teaching to be available. It is a sure thing that if such ministry is lacking, persons will either be content to remain babes, or go elsewhere for food.

   I should not be ashamed to minister what is already known—the question is not
is it new, but is it fresh—that is, in the living power of the Holy Spirit. Those who seek what is novel are invariably disappointed, and those who are content with nice sounding sermons but which lack any clear definite message, invariably remain stunted in growth. Brethren, the School of God is a place of definite lessons, definite growth and definite results!

   We are, at best, poor learners, and very liable to forget. Repetition then of the truth is essential if we are to make any headway in the things of God. As Paul said to his beloved Philippians: “to write the same things to you, to me [is] not irksome, and for you safe” (Phil. 3: 1).

The Seven Fillings Of Stephen (Acts 6–8)

Seven times is Stephen said to be filled: full of the Holy Spirit, (6: 3, 6: 5; 7: 55), full of wisdom,(6: 3), full of faith, (6: 5), and full of grace and power, (6: 8). Seven is a perfect number: he was perfectly filled.

   Full of wisdom: “And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the Spirit with which he spoke”, (6:10), and “they cried out with a loud voice, and held their ears”, (7:57). They hated what he said, but they could find no way to refute it. They knew he spoke the truth, but they resisted the testimony of the Holy Spirit through him, (7::51), holding their ears, and finally extinguishing his testimony in a hail of rocks.

   Full of faith: “having fixed his eyes on heaven, he saw [the] glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God, and said, Lo, I behold the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing at the right hand of God”, (7:55,56). Faith gave him a vista of another world; faith gave him a view of his Master as if he were already in heaven.

   Full of power: “And Stephen....wrought wonders and great signs among the people”, (6: 8), “And they were not able to resist....”, (6: 10). He preached “in demonstration of [the] Spirit and of power”, (1 Cor. 2: 4). Only (!) a server of tables, yet he invoked the wrath of the council of the Jews, destroyed their arguments, convicted their souls and drove them to demonic madness.

   Full of grace: “And kneeling down, he cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge, (7: 60). In the midst of the most adverse of circumstances, and in terrible, extreme suffering he prayed not for himself,
but for others. The others being the very ones smashing stones into his bloodied body!

   Full of wisdom, full of faith, full of power, full of grace—that is what it means to be full of the Holy Spirit. A man may have faith but not wisdom. A man may have power but not grace. The Holy Spirit filled Christian has wisdom and faith and power and grace. He has all, because Christ had all. To be full of the Spirit is to be as like Christ as it is possible for a creature to be on this earth.

Gossip

It is a well–known fact that the British people use the weather to open up a conversation; at office, school, home, or at any gathering, they talk of news, sport, the latest T.V. programme, or the local gossip. Yet what do Christians converse about when together? Are we tainted in our speech by those around us? Do we need to be rebuked like the Colossians: “Have your mind on the things that are above, not on the things that are on the earth.”, (Col. 3: 2)?

   The tongue is a hard thing to master. James comments that “Out of the same mouth goes forth blessing and cursing. It is not right, my brethren, that these things should be thus.”, (James 3: 10). Rumours and gossip are rife amongst us, stories get distorted as they are passed from one to another. How solemn to be found guilty of being “gossipers and meddlers, speaking things not becoming”, (1 Tim. 5: 13). This should not be so, there are far better things to talk about, (see Heb. 2: 5). Of course we need to be aware of news, both locally and world–wide, for prayerful consideration; the point is do we bring Christ to bear upon these things? Or are we like the Athenians, who “spent their time in nothing else than to tell and to hear the news”, (Acts 17: 21). What some call harmless chatter is in many cases nothing but slander. The fact is gossiping and a Christ–like spirit are incompatible. Prov. 11: 13 says “He that goeth about tale–bearing revealeth secrets; but he that is of a faithful spirit concealeth the matter”. Idle talk has destroyed many a relationship, (Prov. 16: 28), and is a frequent source of contention among the saints, (see Prov. 26: 20). While we can’t be always talking about Christ—many very menial matters have to be discussed—conscience tells us some of the things would
never be said if the Lord were standing by. Even if we cannot speak of Christ, let us ensure our speaking is Christ–like! The ancient command is as applicable now as it when delivered: “Thou shalt not go about as a talebearer among thy people”, (Lev. 19: 16).

   There is nothing more refreshing than to meet a believer whose conversation is saturated with Christ. Can you and I say with the Psalmist: “My heart is welling forth [with] a good matter: I say what I have composed touching the king”, (Ps. 45: 1)?

A Stranger Here


It has been well said of the Lord Jesus that “He was the most gracious and accessible of men”. We observe in His ways a tenderness and a kindness never seen in a man, yet we always feel that He was “a stranger”. How true this is! He was “a Stranger Here”—a Stranger as far as a rebellious man was filling the place, but intimately near as far as misery or need demanded Him. The distance He took, and the intimacy He expressed, were perfect. He did more than look on the misery that was around Him. He entered into it with a sympathy that was all His own; and He did more than refuse the pollution that was around Him—He kept the very distance of holiness itself from every touch or stain of it.

   His holiness made Him an utter Stranger in such a polluted world; His grace kept Him ever active in such a needy and afflicted world. And this sets off His life, I may say, in great moral glory; for though forced, by the state of the scene around Him, to be a lonely One, yet He was drawn forth by the need and sorrow of it to be the active One.

   His relationship to the world, when He was here, exhibits this. He was at once a Conqueror, a Sufferer and a Benefactor. What moral glories shine in such an assemblage! He overcame the world, refusing all its attractions and offers; He suffered from it, witnessing for God against its whole course and spirit; He blessed it, dispensing His love and power continually, returning good for evil. Its temptations only made Him a Conqueror; its pollutions and enmities only a Sufferer; its miseries only a Benefactor. What a combination! What moral glories shine in each other’s company there!

The Lord Jesus Christ

The Lord Jesus was weary, yet He called the weary to come unto Himself for rest. He hungered, yet He was “the bread of life”. He thirsted, yet He was the giver of the water of life. He grew and waxed strong in spirit, yet He was from all eternity. He suffered throughout His life, yet He healed all manner of sicknesses and soothed every pain. He was baptised like any other man, yet at the same time God declared Him to be His Son. He declared that He would be put to death just moments after receiving testimony that He was the Christ, the Son of the living God. He cried “My God, my God why hast thou forsaken me?” Yet it was the very same God who was “in Christ, reconciling the world to himself”.

No Side Windows

I have lately very much enjoyed the thought that Noah had only one window in the ark and that was at the top. This was a great mercy for him, for if there had been any windows at the sides, Noah would most likely have been tempted to look out, to see what was going on around; and then he would have seen things which would have filled him with sorrow and alarm. The Lord knew this, and in His love He kept him from doing so; and so provided that he could only look up. This kept Noah in a sweet spirit of dependence and therefore calm and happy.

   What a beautiful picture this is for the believer now while passing through this scene of sin and death: his happy position is to be like Noah, always looking up. If he gets occupied with things around, with that which is going on in the world, or among God’s people, then sorrow and weakness will be sure to follow; and he will be filled with despondency.

   God has given us His Son to be the joy of our souls, and the Object of our hearts, telling us that we shall soon see Him, and be with Him for ever. He is saying, “Behold my servant whom I uphold; mine elect, [in whom] my soul delighteth”, (Is. 42:1). God would have us find our joy where He is finding His, even that precious One at His right hand. God is saying, “Rejoice in [the] Lord always: again I will say, Rejoice”, (Phil. 4: 4). May we know the power and blessedness of this joy at all times, so shall we glorify Him as we pass through this world. Happy ourselves, we shall help others to be happy. Therefore let us be careful that we have no side windows.

The End of Acts

With the Apostle’s voyage to Rome the book of Acts ends, (ch. 28). The strangeness of such an ending has often been commented upon, and perplexed many; especially those who imagine a history of progress on to final triumph for the Church on earth. We expect some correspondence between the history at large and this its specimen page; and to end with a ship–wreck, and the Apostle of the Gentiles in a Roman prison gives an impression of an unfinished fragment instead of the perfect workmanship of the Divine hand. However this proceeds from a wrong conception of what the Church’s course was in fact to be, which all the sorrow and disaster of nearly twenty centuries has for many failed to remove. Allow the Scripture statements their full weight, and the want of correspondence will be no longer felt: for the history is really that of a ship–wreck and a prison; and instead of wondering any longer at the apparent contrast, we shall perhaps suspect that the similarity may be closer than it seems, and begin asking ourselves if the one is not indeed the allegory of the other.

The Deceitfulness of Sin

That none of you be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin”, (Heb. 3: 13). Even among Christians, paralysis of conscience is not rare. Not, indeed general paralysis, which would be as fatal spiritually as it is naturally, but a local paralysis. Touch a man at one point, he is all alive; he can feel acutely; he can denounce earnestly: touch him at another, there is no response; it is not even that he feels the thing, and governs himself to give no answer; no he does not even feel it. Two things may be judged by the Word alike as contrary to God, yet how differently will the minds of even true Christians be affected by them! Take the question of moral evil. In comparison with it how little are the mass of Christians affected by the most serious doctrinal evil! They would readily ally themselves with Unitarians or any others for the suppression of drunkenness, but if you asked them to league with drunkards for the suppression of Unitarianism, they would open their eyes with astonishment. They would be quite right in the latter case, of course, but is the denial of Christ in Unitarian doctrine less serious? If we are to judge by the Word we shall have to say that, if the one is fleshly, the other is devilish; if the truth it is that sanctifies, the denial of the truth is to prohibit sanctification. Who in the light of Christianity will stand up to defend drunkenness? Yet as an angel of light Satan is allowed to promulgate the other! Such is the deceitfulness of Sin.

Focused On Christ

I am going to be like Christ in glory; then I must be as like Him now as ever I can be. Of course we shall all fail along the way, but we are to have our hearts full of it.

   Remember this, that the place you are in is that of an epistle of Christ. We are set for this, that the life of Christ should be manifested in us. Christ has settled the question with God: He appears in the presence of God for us, and we are in the presence of the world for Him. “In that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you.” If I know He is in me, I am to manifest the life of Christ in everything. If He has loved me with unutterable love which passes knowledge, I feel bound in heart to Him; my business is to glorify Him in everything I do. “Bought with a price”—that is settled. If bought, I am
His. But, beloved friends, I press upon you that earnestness of heart which cleaves to Him, especially in these last evil days, when we wait for the Son from heaven. Oh, if Christians were more thoroughly Christians, the world would understand what it was all about. There is a great deal of profession and talk; (as well as activity of the Spirit of God—thank God!); but do you think if a heathen came here to learn what Christianity meant, he would find it out?

   The Lord give you to have such a sense of the love of Christ, that, as bought with a price, the only object of your souls may be to live by Christ and to live for Christ; and for those who do not know Him, that they may learn how he came down in love to seek us, and because righteousness could not pass over sin, died to put it away.

The Character Of A Company

I have learnt by experience that if you are attracted simply by the character of any particular company here upon earth, you will find that company will fail you, you will discover all kinds of flaws on closer acquaintance. But if you are attracted by what Scripture presents, if you get the Scriptural ideal, the effect will be that you will be anxious to constitute one of such a company, and that the power of Scripture will be maintained in you.

What That Man Believed

Back in the late 1800s a well–known and eminent politician, John Morley (later Viscount Morley), was given a Parliamentary Dinner in his honour. General Booth (of the Salvation Army) began his work in those times, and in some circles he was much despised. At the dinner, one of the guests, thinking to raise a laugh, made a sneering remark about General Booth, which was heard by all. Lord Morley said “If I believed what that man believes—that the Son of God came down from heaven, to die on a cross so that I could go to heaven—if I believed that, then I would never write, or think, about anything else”. That was what an unbeliever thought believers should be. I wonder if we think that way. Does this fill our hearts? If so, there’ll be no empty hearts, no empty lives, and (praise God!) no empty nets, when we say “It is the Lord”.

Looking Beyond (Acts 7: 55)

“Having fixed his eyes on heaven”—so occupied was he with the heavenly scene before him, that “all who sat in the council, looking fixedly on him, saw his face as [the] face of an angel, (Acts 6: 15). He had the features of another world. His accusers gnashed their teeth against him, possessed and propelled by demonic hatred, but he, full of the Holy Spirit, and completely untroubled by all around, fixed his eyes on heaven. And what was the source of his peace? Ah! “He saw [the] glory of God, and Jesus!”. Nothing, nothing at all, could detract from the scene that filled his gaze. Full of the Holy Spirit, he was wholly and totally occupied with Jesus. Death did not trouble him—he looked beyond. The stones they threw were not mere pebbles, but rocks—their object was to kill—yet it almost seems as if Stephen did not notice them at all, so taken up was he with the glorious Man in heaven. Nothing pained him save the sin of his enemies, (v.60). One thing only served as a distraction from the sight before him, (though distraction is too strong a word)—and that was concern for their souls: “Lord, lay not this sin to their charge”. Occupied with Christ, he became like Christ. His eyes were fixed on heaven—fixed, immovable, and permanent. At last the end came, and though bloodied and bruised, he goes out in perfect peace: “he fell asleep”. Oh! Reader if we could only be like Stephen, and have our eye fixed on another world! If only we could fix our attention on the Man enthroned there at God’s right hand! Nothing could trouble us here if only we had the faith to look beyond.

More of Him

One sometimes hears a Christian say, generally with a sigh, “I know that God has given me the Holy Spirit, but I suppose that I need to pray for more of Him. Such sentiments may be heartfelt, and genuine, but we must ask ourselves, “are they right?” The real reason for our poor spiritual state is not that we want more of God’s Spirit, but that He wants more, in fact all, of you and me.

   Take an example: A visitor comes to stay at your home for a short while. You treat him well, yet you expect him to confine himself to the section of the house you have introduced him to. Is this how we treat the Holy Spirit? He has come to indwell us, not merely as a visitor or guest, but to take charge of the entire establishment on behalf of the Lord Jesus. Hence we must not have reserves with Him—every part of us must be His. We must hand over to Him, so to speak, the key to every room in the house.

   Stephen was filled with the Holy Spirit, (Acts 6: 5), yet Scripture never suggests that his spiritual state was abnormal. No, it is you and I, who know so little of what it is to be filled, that are abnormal, not he! And is this not because we aim so low? We talk of giving Him more room, forgetting that the Scriptural injunction is “be filled with the Spirit”, (Eph. 5: 18).

   The crying need for the present moment is for believers with faith to claim and enter upon their God–given privileges! Faith does not say “more”, but “ALL”. Do we doubt this? Do we really think it is possible for us? Stephen never wondered whether it could happen to him, never wondered whether he should try to achieve “filling” in stages—in fact he never thought of himself at all! He was full of the Holy Spirit because he was wholly occupied with Christ! What could not the power of God achieve through a band of such world–emptied, Spirit–filled people! Reader, neither you or I can create such a band; but is it not our duty to make sure that we are such?

He Learned Obedience (Heb. 5: 8)

He learned obedience—when we think of whom these words are said, we are filled with wonder and amazement. That the Son should learn obedience. Obedience belongs to servants; but He was Son. The word is not “because he were Son” but “although he were Son”. His obedience is not linked with His Sonship, but contrasted with it. In spite of who He was, He learned obedience. One who had ever exercised authority, was to learn obedience, to experience the feelings and circumstances of that condition. While He learned obedience, He did not learn to obey. The two are not equivalent. If I say of someone, he learnt to obey, it suggests a series of events through which his will is ultimately suppressed and the end result is that he has learnt to obey. This was never true of Him. He learned obedience, what a state of submission was, but there was no independent will. I may say of my child, who wants to go another way, but who yields to me, “It is very pleasant to see such obedience”; but it was not so with Christ. He never had a will to want to go the other way. When the Tempter came to Him and said, “If thou be Son of God, speak to this stone, that it become bread”, what was His answer? It was as though He said, No, I am a servant, I cannot command, I obey; “It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God”, (Luke 4:4). That is the obedience of Christ. The Father’s will was His motive for everything. How did He learn obedience? From whence came the instruction? It says “from the things which he suffered”. What a course was His! How much He went through and endured!

   What of your and I? There are thousands of things we do from habit, and we say we must do them. There is no “must” for me, but Christ’s will. I have to learn what His will is; for we are made epistles of Christ, and the path we are to walk in is to manifest the life of the Lord Jesus in our bodies. Everything I do should be the expression of the allegiance of my heart to Christ; and the manifestation of Him to others.

The Living Christ

The world can quite believe that Christ died—every competent historian would admit the fact—yet for them that is where it all ended. Festus is typical: “concerning a certain Jesus who is dead”, (Act 25: 19). They believe that he existed, that he was a man of profound goodness, and that he died, but they cannot comprehend anything more. To the world, he is still dead.

   What marks a Christian out from the world is his conscious personal knowledge—of a living Christ. He believes that Christ died and lived, but he also knows that Christ has a life now. This is the vital difference. The Christian is able to get beyond Christ’s death, and thus we read that Paul affirmed Jesus to be living, (v19). Every Christian has had a transaction with the Lord on the other side of death, and thus knows, and can testify to, a living Christ.

   The world knows a dead Christ, but knows nothing of Christ living now. Even the physical manifestations of Himself following His resurrection were limited to His own:” having by the Holy Spirit charged the apostles whom he had chosen, he was taken up;
to whom also he presented himself living, (Acts 1: 2–3). The last view the world had of Christ was when they put Him in the grave, (Matt. 27: 60).

   I believe it is absolutely vital that we grasp the reality of Christ living
now. Christianity is not in simply believing that the Lord Jesus lived and died but that He lives today. A dead Christ cannot save. Neither is it mere acceptance of the fact, but knowing He lives because I know Him now. Salvation is in personal acquaintance with Christ—a real link with a real living Person. Can you say “I know that my redeemer liveth”, (Job 19: 25)?

Do the Work of an Evangelist

Such are the words we read towards the close of Paul’s second and final letter to Timothy, his beloved son in the faith. The apostle’s Christian pathway was almost over, his course almost complete, and as he issues his final exhortations to Timothy, he sees fit to include a heart–felt plea for Gospel work to continue. The church would shortly wed herself to the world and lose sight of the eternal realities Paul valued so much. Soon the true Gospel would be lost in a fog of levity and legality. Social concern would usurp the pre–eminent place of soul salvation, and the patient waiting for Christ’s return be replaced by active involvement in politics. It is against this background that the Apostle makes his appeal.

   Timothy was not an evangelist—that is plain—but still he was to do the work. The intimation is that the day would be so dark, and hence the need so great, that all who remained faithful would have to take a part in evangelising. The mass of the church would give up the work, but Timothy and those like him were to help out as best they could. They couldn’t be evangelists if not so gifted—but they could do the work.

   We are not informed whether Timothy heeded the exhortation, that is not our concern. What matters is you and I. Have we heeded the word so clearly recorded for our benefit? Are
we doing the work of an evangelist?

The Reading of Scripture

Some read Scripture very much as others preach it. A few words are taken and are made the motto of a discourse, which perhaps has no real connection with the scope of that passage—perhaps not with any other in the Bible. The thoughts may be true enough abstractly, but what we want is a help to understand the word of God as a whole, as well as the details. If you were to take a letter from a friend and were merely to fasten upon a sentence, or a part of one in the middle of it, and dislocate it from the rest, how could you understand it? We can make Scripture mean what we like, but let us ensure that we get God’s meaning!

The Rainbow

“And it shall come to pass, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow shall be seen in the cloud.” (Gen. 9: 14) Beautiful and most expressive emblem! The beams of the sun, reflected from that which threatens judgement, tranquillize the heart, as telling of God’s covenant, God’s salvation and God’s remembrance. Precious, most precious sunbeams, deriving additional beauty from the very cloud which reflects them! How forcibly does this bow in the cloud remind us of Calvary. There we see a cloud indeed— a dark thick, heavy cloud of judgement, discharging itself upon the sacred head of the Lamb of God— a cloud so dark, that even at mid-day “there was darkness over all the earth”. Blessed be God, faith discerns, in that heaviest cloud that ever gathered, the most brilliant and most beauteous bow that ever appeared, for it sees the bright beams of God’s eternal love darting through the awful gloom, and reflected in the cloud. It hears too the words, “it is finished”, issuing from amid the darkness, and in those words it recognises the perfect ratification of God’s everlasting counsels, not only as to creation, but the tribes of Israel and the Church of God.

The Test is Truth

The test of anything calling itself Christian is not its significance or its success or its power, though these make the test more imperative. The test is truth. For what is the value of a doctrine, however right and Christ exalting it may seem, that does not come out of the Bible?

Saul and Stephen

It is one thing to be a Saul watching Stephen die and be affected by it, (as he later recalls); it is quite another to be a Stephen. It is one thing to look on the loveliness of the spirit of Christ, and quite another to show it in yourself.

The New Testament

The Gospels present Christ personally—as Son of David, as Servant As Son of Man, and Son of God. The ground is being prepared there for the Church of course, but many other things are also dealt with, and so we must take great care in what we apply to Christianity. It is in the Acts and the Epistles that we get Christianity proper—that is the faith of Christ’s followers. Acts shows us the practical working out of the body of Christ (as a consequence of Him becoming the Head in heaven); the Epistles give us the teaching and doctrine that belongs to Christianity. Revelation stands on its own, being the grand summing up of the whole of Scripture, and gives us the final outcome of God’s thoughts. Christ is seen there as the revealer (ch. 1: 1).

Brothers

The sweet fellowship was forever broken—Jonathan had been cruelly slain on Mount Gilboa (1 Sam.31: 2)— yet David never forgot it: “very pleasant wast thou unto me; Thy love to me was wonderful, passing women's love.” (2 Sam.1: 26) Though their ways had been so irrevocably parted, to David, Jonathan was and always would be, his brother. Ponder deeply that word: “I am distressed for thee, my brother Jonathan.”

   Think of Paul and Demas (2 Tim.4:10). Can we imagine that Paul harboured hard and bitter feelings to the one that had forsaken him, having loved the present age? No! Much rather we can picture the tears streaming down the lonely apostle's cheeks as he penned those words.

   Many things may part us here, bitter words may alas be said, but let us never forget that each and every one is
a brother for whom Christ died (1 Cor. 8: 11).

Worship (Colossians 2: 21)

What is worship? It is neither praise nor prayer, much less it is listening to an address or a sermon. Worship is the overflow of hearts occupied with Christ. In prayer we are occupied with our wants: in praise we think of our blessings: but in worship the heart is occupied with Himself. To worship God we must be consciously at rest in His presence, enjoying His love. As the Spirit takes of the things of Christ and shows them to us, our hearts are filled to overflowing in our adoration of Him. The very word for worship in Greek in John 4, in that chapter where we have the Lord’s discourse on the subject, is proskuneo meaning not only reverence, but reverence with affection (a word that might be used for instance in the case of a dog licking his master’s hand).

   Worship in its fullest and highest sense is in the assembly, gathered in His Name, with the Lord in the midst (Matt. 18: 20). This place H took amongst His own, immediately He had risen from the dead (John 20: 19). This place He takes still in grace. Thus if He is there, it should be our delight to be united in reverent affection towards Him—that is, the worship of the Assembly.

Three Safeguards

Our only safety is in simple and implicit subjection to the word of God. We are to be governed by the “faith once delivered to the saints” (Jude 1: 3), contained in the Scriptures of truth. For this we need the guidance of the Spirit who wrote it all. But we are never sure of having the directing power of the Spirit with us except the eye by single to Christ. Thus these three safeguards are always together where we are right. If even on is missing then we are not right.

Belief

Many, alas hardly know what they believe, and thus become wide open to the inroads of error. Partial truths often masquerade as the whole truth, and all error possesses some glimmer of truth. Nor is it sufficient to know and believe the truths of Scripture in the form of doctrine alone, for “faith without works is dead” (James 2: 20). As an old Puritan writer once said, “Truth reforms as well as informs.

Things which are Before

Beloved, let us be decided, for its is impossible for us to grasp at things before and behind too. Were we “pressing forward towards the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus”, were we “reaching forth unto those things which are before”, we must be forgetting those behind. Were we looking up, gazing with the eye of faith on our portion above could we be groping in the dirt of this world for what we might find there? Could we be making a god of business, pleasure, riches or reputation? Faith is an anticipating grace. Faith is a substantial reliance on the verities of God, such as makes its possessor count all things else but dross and dung for Christ and the things above. Dear, reader, either give up professing to be guided by the Bible or act as if you believed it. There is such a thing as the obedience of faith, and if we don’t obey, our religion is all pretence and unreality.

The Bible

This book contains the mind of God, the state of man, the way of salvation, the doom of sinners, and the happiness of believers. Its doctrines are holy, its precepts are binding, its histories are true, and its decisions are immutable. Read it to be wise, believe its to be safe, and practise it to be holy.

   It contains light to direct you, food to support you, and comfort to cheer you. It is the traveller’s map, the pilgrim’s staff, the pilot’s compass, the soldier’s sword, and the Christian’s charter.

   Here, Heaven is opened and the gates of Hell disclosed. Christ is its grand subject, our good its design, and the glory of God its end. It shall fill the memory, rule the heart, and guide the feet.

   Read it slowly, frequently, prayerfully. It is a mine of wealth, a paradise of glory, and a river of pleasure. It is given you in life, will be opened at the Judgment, and be remembered for ever.

   It involves the highest responsibility, will reward the greatest labour, and condemn all who trifle with its sacred contents.

How to Promote Unity

There are two ways to promote unity. One is by outward organisations; that is the sheepdog method. The other is by having one Shepherd. And if only we would think more about the Lord and less about our “isms” and our churches, we should find ourselves, without realising it, at one with our brethren. And what a power it would be!

Poverty and Power

Two church dignitaries were viewing a costly and ornate cathedral. One said to the other, the day is gone when the church can say, as Peter said “Silver and gold have I none”. Yes! Replied the other, and the day is gone when the church can say, as Peter said “In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk”. The poverty has gone and also the power.

A Muslim's Example

Visiting a mountain village in Morocco, I heard the Muslim call to prayer. People disappeared into the mosques. Then I heard a strange noise, and looked out to see an old man without legs slow sly dragging himself down the street. At last he reached the mosque, struggled up the steps, and went inside to pray. And I said “Forgive me, Lord, for the times I’ve said I’m too tired to pray”. Forgive us for saying “Sorry I couldn’t make it to the prayer meeting”. After seeing that old man, there were no more excuses left.

Crystal Clear

On the subject of homosexuality the Word of God is crystal clear: “Do ye not know that unrighteous [persons] shall not inherit [the] kingdom of God? Do not err: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor those who make women of themselves, nor who abuse themselves with men, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor abusive persons, nor [the] rapacious, shall inherit [the] kingdom of God” (1 Cor. 6: 9, 10––my emphasis). The time is no doubt rapidly approaching when to utter such sentiments will be outlawed, but that does not alter the fact that “the word of [the] Lord abides for eternity” (1 Pet. 1: 25)––unchanging in a changing world.

   The people in Paul’s list are described as unrighteous persons, and yet even among professing Christians, homosexuality is no longer looked on as a sin. So has what was unrighteous in the apostle’s day become righteous in our day? Follow this line of reasoning to its logical conclusion:
thieving and drunkenness ought to be no longer frowned on in Christian circles! This is not as startling as it may seem. Why only pick out homosexuality for re–evaluation––why not stealing? After all, it is in the same list! The fact is, the Word of God expressly condemns sexual relations between members of the same sex. “Ye have been bought with a price: glorify now then God in your body” (1 Cor. 6: 20). It is impossible to glorify God in your body if you flout His Word.

The Compass

It has been said that the evangelist should be like a pair of compasses. This consists of a fixed leg and a free leg—the fixed leg remaining stationary in the centre of the circle to be made—the free leg stretching out as far as it can taking in as wide a sweep as its length will permit.

   In the same way, every evangelist should be loyal to the Assembly, give Assembly truth and principles their true place—that is one leg. Then, being true to that place, go out into the world and as led of the Lord to exercise his gifts and finding converts, bring them to the centre from which he works—that is the second leg. How much trouble and conflict would be avoided if this simple principle were remembered!

The Gospels

There is an interest attaching to the four Gospels which belongs to no other part of the Scriptures. The reason for this is that there is a character about what is recorded in them which you cannot find elsewhere—you are brought into the presence of perfection. No other part of Scripture has quite this character. The greater part of the Bible is occupied with the conduct of men, and God’s consequent dealings, while at the same time unfolding the thoughts of God in regard to men. Even when you come to the Epistles you get the exercises of imperfect men. I admire the faithfulness and service of men like Paul or Peter, but I don’t find perfection in them—they themselves make no secret of their own weakness. In the Gospels, however, you are brought into the presence of divine perfection, and that gives a character to those books which no other part of Scripture can have. There is a Man there without a fault or flaw, and whose whole life can be summed up in the words He uttered shortly before His death: “not my will, but thine be done” (Luke 22: 42).

The Work of the Lord

Rejoice in the work of the Lord wherever you find it—whether in a tin chapel or a magnificent monastery. The Word of God is not bound, and the Lord has his witnesses (however feeble) in the most unlikely places—He found them in Thyatira as well as Philadelphia. Acknowledge them, even if you cannot walk with them. Be thankful for their testimony and labour. Do not overlook the mixture of the good with the bad, but do not be fixated with the bad. The Lord had much to criticise in the seven assemblies, but He also found things to commend. Let us walk after His pattern.

Individualism

Our attitude to fellowship must be whole–hearted. We cannot ‘opt in’ on the aspects of fellowship that suit us, and ‘opt out’ on the parts that do not. A moment’s reflection will show that this is not really fellowship at all, but individualism, a state of affairs where what I think, and what I feel is paramount. If I’m really in fellowship, then I’ll attend all the meetings—not just the ‘breaking of bread’ on Sunday morning but the prayer meeting on Monday night as well. I may have other things I could be doing that evening, but if I know anything of fellowship, then I’ll be there. Indeed, if the fellowship is real, I will want to be there.

The Greatest Revival

The history of God’s earthly people is one in which the well-known maxim that ‘History repeats itself’ finds accurate expression. From the times of the Judges through to the return from the Captivity, the children of Israel repeatedly turn away from God, are recovered in some measure, only for them to turn away yet again. Hezekiah and Josiah both stood at the forefront of notable revivals, but both were scarcely buried before their sons undid all that they stood for.

   There is a day coming, however, in which the pattern will be broken forever, and Israel will walk with God in perpetuity. This is the greatest revival of God’s earthly people: “And as for me, this is my covenant with them, saith Jehovah: My spirit that is upon thee, and my words which I have put in thy mouth, shall not depart out of thy mouth, nor out of the mouth of thy seed, nor out of the mouth of thy seed’s seed, saith Jehovah, from henceforth and for ever” (Is. 59: 21). Wonderful revival—and the One at its forefront will be Christ Himself.

Different Fruit

The land into which God brought the children of Israel was “a land of wheat, and barley, and vines, and fig–trees, and pomegranates; a land of olive–trees and honey” (Deut. 8: 8). No such fruits as these were found in Egypt. Indeed, it is remarkable that the children of Israel, when their hearts turned back to that land of bondage, spoke only of “the cucumbers, and the melons, and the leeks, and the onions, and the garlic” (Num. 11: 5), the former two being fruits borne close to the earth, and the latter, roots of the earth. May there not be something significant in this? The dainties of Egypt, and its savoury food are procured from low earthly sources, while the fruits of the land are lifted off the ground, and ripen in the fresh air and sunshine of heaven.

What is Man?

There is something unique about the constitution of man’s being when compared to any other creature on this earth. Is he, as Science confidently assures us, simply an evolved brute, which in turn is an evolved vegetable, and that an evolved clod, and that an evolved atom, and that an evolved—something we know nothing about? Is his being of exactly the same kind as that of his dog or horse, differing only in the degree of development? I do not believe so. Man is in another kingdom altogether. Connected with the mineral by his body, with the animal by his soul, he is linked with the divine by his spirit. He is, as no beast ever was, the “offspring of God” (Acts 17: 29). Inferior in many respects to many of the animal creation, there is not one that he does not dominate. He is puny and weak compared with the mighty creatures of the jungle and the sea. He is short–sighted compared with many of the inhabitants of the earth and air. He is beaten ignominiously by a whole host of creatures in speed. In keenness of scent he is far behind his own dog. And yet, he the inferior, puts his foot as king on the neck of all others. Why? Because of him it is written that  “Jehovah Elohim … breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and Man became a living soul” (Gen. 2: 7). With that breath there was communicated an element, a faculty, that no beast ever had—a spirit, with powers of reasoning, and of recognizing and answering to God. Alone among the creatures of this earth, man is morally responsible, having to explain the use of the life he has been given: “each of us shall give an account concerning himself to God” (Rom. 14: 12). Unrepentant man eagerly accepts the popular teaching that he is only a higher form of beast, and that his life is no more than a part of the natural cycle. It is a popular view because it leaves out God, the God with whom we have to do. 

What is Secure

We live in a day in which the standards by which truth is distinguished from error are being taken away, and every fresh novelty carries off its devotees, who in their ignorance of God’s truth are heaping to themselves teachers “having an itching ear” (2 Tim. 4: 3). Well might we with the Psalmist exclaim “If the foundations be destroyed, what shall the righteous do?” (Ps. 11: 3). We can but look up to heaven for “Jehovah [is] in the temple of his holiness; Jehovah,—his throne is in the heavens: his eyes behold, his eyelids try the children of men” (v4). Everywhere we see the removal of things which only yesterday seemed secure, and the Enemy seems to say “Flee [as] a bird to your mountain” (v1). Faith must look the adversary in the face and say “In Jehovah have I put my trust” (v1, my emphasis). Only there do we find what is secure.

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