The Christian Shepherd: 1998

Table of Contents

1. Another New Year
2. Answers to Last Month's Bible Challenger: 1997 - (l)
3. Answers to Last Month's Bible Challenger: 1998 - (a)
4. Answers to Last Month's Bible Challenger: 1998 - (b)
5. Answers to Last Month's Bible Challenger: 1998 - (c)
6. Answers to Last Month's Bible Challenger: 1998 - (d)
7. Answers to Last Month's Bible Challenger: 1998 - (e)
8. Answers to Last Month's Bible Challenger: 1998 - (f)
9. Answers to Last Month's Bible Challenger: 1998 - (g)
10. Answers to Last Month's Bible Challenger: 1998 - (h)
11. Answers to Last Month's Bible Challenger: 1998 - (i)
12. Answers to Last Month's Bible Challenger: 1998 - (j)
13. Answers to Last Month's Bible Challenger: 1998 - (k)
14. Attachment to Christ - Conflict With the Enemy
15. The Bankrupt Sinner
16. "Being Given up"
17. Bible Challenger: 1998 - (a)
18. Bible Challenger: 1998 - (b)
19. Bible Challenger: 1998 - (c)
20. Bible Challenger: 1998 - (d)
21. Bible Challenger: 1998 - (e)
22. Bible Challenger: 1998 - (f)
23. Bible Challenger: 1998 - (g)
24. Bible Challenger: 1998 - (h)
25. Bible Challenger: 1998 - (i)
26. Bible Challenger: 1998 - (j)
27. Bible Challenger: 1998 - (k)
28. Bible Challenger: 1998 - (l)
29. Book Review: An Exposition of the Acts of the Apostles W. Kelly
30. Book Review: Gathering Up the Fragments by W. Potter
31. Book Review: Gleanings From the Teachings of G. V. Wigram
32. Book Review: Sources for Meanings of Bible Names
33. Book Review: Synopsis of the Books of the Bible by J. N. Darby
34. Book Review: The Best of Books
35. Book Review: The Best of Books
36. Book Review: The Collected Writings of J. N. Darby, Volume 16
37. Book Review: The Life of William Farel by Francis Bevan
38. Book Review: The Moral Glory of the Lord Jesus Christ by J. G. Bellett
39. Book Review: The Son of God by J. G. Bellett
40. Book Reviews
41. Brief Notes on Ephesians Chapter 1
42. Brief Notes on Ephesians Chapter 2
43. Brief Notes on Ephesians Chapter 4:17 - Chapter 5
44. Brief Notes on Ephesians Chapter 6:10-24
45. Brief Notes on Ephesians Chapters 3-4
46. The Calling of the Church
47. Children: The Crown and the Glory
48. Christ Himself: the Ground of All Laws to a Christian
49. Clear Views or Christ?
50. Deliverance or Christ?
51. Dispensationalism: God's Dealings With Man
52. The Dispensations of God: 1 - Introduction
53. The Dispensations of God: 2 - The Past History of Israel
54. The Dispensations of God: 3 - The History of the Remnant
55. The Dispensations of God: 4 - Introduction to the Calling of the Church
56. Divisions: A Timely Word
57. Earnestly Contending
58. Editorial: Drawing Near to Jesus
59. Editorial: Fully Tested
60. Editorial: Honoring Him
61. Editorial: Love and Fidelity for Christ
62. Editorial: Normal Christianity
63. Editorial: Thankfulness
64. Editorial: That Legal Brother
65. Editorial: The Power of Warmth
66. Editorial: "They Shall Run, and Not Be Weary"
67. Editorial: Two Keys to Blessing
68. Editorial: "Who Is My Neighbor?"
69. Educating Our Children
70. Education: Home Schooling
71. Education: Private Schools
72. Education: Public Schools
73. The Eternal Sonship of Our Lord Jesus Christ
74. Extract: Difficulties
75. Extract From a Letter
76. Extract: The Last Days
77. Extract: The Psalms
78. Extract: Unheeded Warning
79. A Farmer's View of Revelation 23 and Mark 4:26-29
80. "Feed My Lambs": A Special Boy and a Special Dog
81. "Feed My Lambs": An Ignored Warning
82. "Feed My Lambs": Bad Company
83. "Feed My Lambs": Be a Testimony for Jesus
84. "Feed My Lambs": It Mattered to Him!
85. "Feed My Lambs": "My Foot Slipped"
86. "Feed My Lambs": Slippery Rocks
87. "Feed My Lambs": Speaking the Truth
88. "Feed My Lambs": The Bible - A Precious Treasure
89. "Feed My Lambs": The Camel's Footprints
90. "Feed My Lambs": The Master's Touch
91. "Feed My Lambs": The Nightingale and the Glowworm
92. Fellowship With His Sorrow
93. Four Opened Things
94. Fragment
95. Fragment
96. Fragment
97. Fragment
98. Fragment
99. Fragment
100. Fragment
101. Fragment
102. Fragment
103. Fragment
104. Fragment
105. Fragment
106. Fragment
107. Fragment
108. Fragment
109. Fragment
110. Fragment
111. Fragment
112. Fragment
113. Fragment
114. Fragment
115. Fragment
116. Fragment
117. Fragment
118. Fragment
119. Fragment
120. Fragment
121. Fragment
122. Fragment
123. Fragment
124. Fragment
125. Fragment
126. Fragment
127. Fragment: Pride
128. Fragment: Restoration
129. Fragments
130. Fragments
131. Future Blessedness (Revelation 21-22)
132. Give God Thanks
133. God Is My Father
134. God's Assembly
135. God's City - Man's City
136. God's Goodness in the Believer's Life
137. God's Plan and God's Man: Behold the Man!
138. The Gospel Paul Preached: Six Revelations Paul Received From Christ in Glory
139. The Gourd and the Worm
140. Grace, Godliness and Glory
141. The Grace of God
142. Hands and Hearts
143. He Is Over All
144. How to Be Heavenly
145. I Have a Saviour
146. "If Any Man Serve Me … "
147. Introduction to Psalm 23
148. "It Is Written"
149. The Joy of the Father
150. The Kingdom of God
151. The Kingdom of God
152. Learning the Lord
153. "Leaving the Natural Use": Part 1
154. "Leaving the Natural Use": Part 2
155. "Leaving the Natural Use": Part 3
156. "Looking Unto Jesus"
157. The Man of God
158. Marks of the Local Assembly
159. Meditations on Psalm 23: 1-2
160. Meditations on Psalm 23: 3
161. Meditations on Psalm 23: 4
162. Meditations on Psalm 23: 5
163. Meditations on Psalm 23: 6
164. Ministry Led by the Spirit
165. Notice to Our Readers
166. Noticing the Ducks
167. On the Assembly
168. One Step at a Time
169. Our Burden-Bearer
170. Our Lord Jesus Christ
171. The Power of the Word
172. Prayer for Children
173. The Presence of the Lord: Coming Into His Presence
174. Present Truth: One
175. Present Truth: Sanctification
176. Present Truth: The Church
177. Present Truth: The Coming of the Lord Jesus
178. Present Truth: The Day of God
179. Proverbs: Chapter 23 (Selected Verses)
180. Proverbs: Chapter 28 (Selected Verses)
181. Proverbs: Chapter 29 (Selected Verses)
182. Proverbs: Chapter 30 (Selected Verses)
183. Proverbs: Chapter 31
184. Proverbs: Chapters 24-25 (Selected Verses)
185. Proverbs: Chapters 26-27 (Selected Verses)
186. Public Ministry: Responsibility to the Lord
187. Recreational Activities: "Wagons" for the Children
188. Redeeming the Time
189. "Redeeming the Time, Because the Days Are Evil."
190. Remembering Him
191. Right and Wrong Anger
192. The Seasons of Man
193. Serving the Lord
194. Sitting at the Saviour's Feet
195. The Son of God
196. Spiritual Pride in Days of Failure
197. Studying Scripture
198. Tables of Devils
199. "Thou Shalt Remember"
200. Thoughts on Psalms
201. Thoughts on the Psalms
202. The Touch of Jesus' Hand
203. Training Children
204. Two Men Walking Together
205. Understanding the Bible
206. Waiting to See Him
207. Walk Before God
208. Walking As a Man of God
209. The Water of the Word and the Bread of God
210. Waters of Blessing
211. The Ways of God: 1 - The Calling of the Church
212. The Ways of God: 2 - The Times of the Gentiles
213. "Where Wilt Thou?"
214. A Word in Season - 1
215. A Word in Season - 2
216. The World and Self-Esteem

Another New Year

For grace another year, we thank Thee,
Lord, Thy name be praised;
No greater theme than this e’er could be
By Thy people raised!
Thy mercies have been multiplied
To us from day to day;
Our every need Thou hast supplied
Along our pilgrim way.
We’ll trust Thee for the coming year
With mercy it to fill;
Thou hast revealed Thyself as near,
That Thou dost love us still;
Thine, Thou wilt us ne’er forsake,
Our cause refuse to own;
Glory with Thee doth us await;
This grace to us Thou’st shown.
In simple faith, we will abide
While here us Thou dost leave;
Though sinners Thy blest name deride,
Our hearts to Thee will cleave;
To come, Thou canst not long delay,
Us home Thou soon must call;
Naught then our spirits will dismay
Whatever us befall.
May be sung to the tune of “Auld lang syne.”
E. Tonn
“The wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23).

Answers to Last Month's Bible Challenger: 1997 - (l)

1. P enny Matt. 20:10
2. R eadiness of mind Acts 17:11
3. O dor of a sweet smell Phil. 4:18
4. M ercy 2 Cor. 4:1
5. I nner prison Acts 16:24
6. S op John 13:30
7. E arth Matt. 25:18
8. S tewards 1 Peter 4:10
“These all died in faith, not having received the PROMISES, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth” (Heb. 11:13).

Answers to Last Month's Bible Challenger: 1998 - (a)

1. M an of God 2 Tim. 3:17
2. A lmsdeeds Acts 9:36
3. N ecessary uses Titus 3:14
4. I niquity Titus 2:14
5. F ruitful Col. 1:10
6. E vildoers 1 Pet. 2:12
7. S hine Matt. 5:16
8. T o do His will Heb. 13:21
“Likewise also the good works of some are MANIFEST beforehand; and they that are otherwise cannot be hid” (1 Tim. 5:25).

Answers to Last Month's Bible Challenger: 1998 - (b)

1. N ame 2 Sam. 18:18
2. E pistle 2 Peter 3:1
3. G ive thanks Psa. 30:4
4. L ois 2 Tim. 1:5
5. I lluminated Heb. 10:32
6. G enerations Psa. 102:12
7. E ars of Joshua Ex. 17:14
8. N ight Psa. 77:6
9. T hought upon His name Mal. 3:16
“Wherefore I will not be NEGLIGENT to put you always in remembrance of these things, though ye know them, and be established in the present truth” (2 Peter 1:12).

Answers to Last Month's Bible Challenger: 1998 - (c)

1. B eards 2 Sam. 10:5
2. R ightly dividing 2 Tim. 2:15
3. E very one that believeth Rom. 1:16
4. T hree days 2 Kings 2:17
5. H ope Rom. 5:5
6. R eproached me Job 19:3
7. E arnest expectation Phil. 1:20
8. N o evil thing to say Titus 2:8
“For both He that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause He is not ashamed to call them BRETHREN ” (Heb. 2:11).

Answers to Last Month's Bible Challenger: 1998 - (d)

1. T hey that mourn Matt. 5:4
2. O mountains Isa. 49:13
3. G rave Gen. 37:35
4. E arring of gold Job 42:11
5. T ormented Luke 16:25
6. H er children Matt. 2:18
7. E xhorted 1 Thess. 2:11
8. R ebekah Gen. 24:67
“That is, that I may be comforted TOGETHER with you by the mutual faith both of you and me” (Rom. 1:12).

Answers to Last Month's Bible Challenger: 1998 - (e)

1. P ersecutor 1 Tim. 1:13
2. R est Heb. 4:11
3. O btained mercy Rom. 11:30
4. M ighty works Matt. 13:58
5. I believe Mark 9:24
6. S eed Matt. 17:20
7. E vil heart Heb. 3:12
“He [Abraham] staggered not at the PROMISE of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God” (Rom. 4:20).

Answers to Last Month's Bible Challenger: 1998 - (f)

1. G oats Matt. 25:33
2. L oving-kindness Psalm 17:7
3. O ffered one sacrifice Heb. 10:12
4. R eed Matt. 27:29
5. I mmediately Acts 3:7
6. O ther gods Deut. 28:14
7. U pon the waters Dan. 12:7
8. S ixscore thousand Jonah 4:11
“Thy right hand, O Lord, is become GLORIOUS in power: thy right hand, O Lord, hath dashed in pieces the enemy” (Ex. 15:6).

Answers to Last Month's Bible Challenger: 1998 - (g)

1. P reach the gospel Luke 4:18
2. R efresh himself Acts 27:3
3. O ccasion to the flesh Gal. 5:13
4. C hildren of God Rom. 8:21
5. L ooketh James 1:25
6. A ppealed unto Caesar Acts 26:32
7. I n the Lord 1 Cor. 7:39
8. M aliciousness 1 Peter 2:16
“And ye shall hallow the fiftieth year, and PROCLAIM liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof: it shall be a jubilee unto you; and ye shall return every man unto his possession, and ye shall return every man unto his family” (Lev. 25:10).

Answers to Last Month's Bible Challenger: 1998 - (h)

1. H ope 1 Thess. 2:19
2. A ll things 2 Cor. 6:10
3. B oastings James 4:16
4. I did eat them Jer. 15:16
5. T o suffer shame Acts 5:41
6. A nointed him 1 Kings 1:45
7. B earing precious seed Psa. 126:6
8. L ips Job 8:21
9. E unuch (of Ethiopia) Acts 8:39
“Rejoicing in the HABITABLE part of His earth; and My delights were with the sons of men” (Prov. 8:31).

Answers to Last Month's Bible Challenger: 1998 - (i)

1. P leasant 2 Chron. 32:27
2. R ich man 2 Sam. 12:2
3. E arth Prov. 30:24
4. C ry Gen. 27:34
5. I ron Dan. 7:19
6. O ath Matt. 14:7
7. U nderstanding 1 Kings 4:29
8. S tar Matt. 2:10
“Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and PRECIOUS promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust” (2 Peter 1:4).

Answers to Last Month's Bible Challenger: 1998 - (j)

1. E nticing words 1 Cor. 2:4
2. A cts 1 Kings 10:6; 2 Chron. 9:5
3. R equire a sign 1 Cor. 1:22
4. T each ye them Ezra 7:25
5. H is hands Mark 6:2
6. L iberally James 1:5
7. Y our adversaries Luke 21:15
“This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is EARTHLY, sensual, devilish” ( James 3:15).

Answers to Last Month's Bible Challenger: 1998 - (k)

1. A uthority over ten cities Luke 19:17
2. B lessed Gal. 3:9
3. I nto the world 1 Tim. 1:15
4. D eath Rev. 2:10
5. E rror or fault Dan. 6:4
6. T rue riches Luke 16:11
7. H arvest Prov. 25:13
“If we believe not, yet He ABIDETH faithful: He cannot deny Himself” (2 Tim. 2:13).

Attachment to Christ - Conflict With the Enemy

“God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved” (John 3:17).
If anyone speaks of separation from evil without being humiliated, let him take care lest his position becomes simply and only that which at all times has constituted sects.
J. N. Darby

The Bankrupt Sinner

He feeds on the riches of divine mercy.
He is clothed in divine righteousness.
He walks in divinely made paths.
He is strengthened with divine joy.
He basks in the sunshine of divine blessing.
He reposes behind the shield of divine favor.
Such are mercy’s boundless stores for the bankrupt sinner who believes in Jesus.
C. H. Mackintosh in Things New and Old

"Being Given up"

“And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David)” (Luke 2:4).
Still we are in a Jewish atmosphere. Promises are being accomplished; the babe must be born in Bethlehem. “The city of David” is nothing to the Christian as such, save as showing prophecy fulfilled; to us the Son comes from heaven. On earth the babe is the object of God’s counsels; angels and all heaven are occupied with His birth, but there is no place in the world for Him! Go where the great world registers every individual go to the little world of an inn, where each is measured by the servant’s knowing eye, and place is accordingly awarded from the garret to the first floor, but there is no room for Jesus. And the manger led, in due time, to the lowest place the cross.
What a lesson for us as to this world! What a difference, too, between giving up the world and the world giving us up! We may do the one with comparative ease, but when we feel the world despises us, as Christ was despised, we shall discover, unless He fills and satisfies the heart, that we had a value for its esteem that we were not aware of. When obedience is as important to us in our measure as obeying was to Christ, we shall go right on whatever be before us, without regarding the world.
J. N. Darby (excerpt from Man of Sorrows)

Bible Challenger: 1998 - (a)

The first letter of each of the following responses will form the word that tells how good works will be “made” when they are clearly seen and enjoyed in this life. [1] The number in brackets indicates the number of words needed in each answer.
1. Someone who is perfectly equipped unto all good works. [3]
2. Something a woman of character with two names abounded in besides her good works, which were declared in a time of sorrow. [1]
3. That which will qualify the need for the good works that we maintain. [2]
4. That which peculiar people are redeemed from, which enables them to have a zeal for good works. [1]
5. That which the doers of good works become when their walk is pleasing to the Lord. [1]
6. A detrimental name, sometimes ascribed to those doing good works, but which will be rectified in the day of visitation. [1]
7 That which the light of individual testimony in the world must do, before men will see whether there be any good works. [1]
8. What should be the motive in each good work that we do as we seek to be well-pleasing in the sight of God? [4]
Answers to these questions will be found in the next issue of Christian Shepherd.
R. Erisman

Bible Challenger: 1998 - (b)

The first letter of each of the following responses will form the word defining something an apostle did not want to be when he put early believers in remembrance as to the present truth. The number in brackets indicates the number of words in each answer.
1. Something, very personal, which a sonless son of a king wanted to be kept in remembrance, that caused him to rear up a pillar. [1]
2. Peter’s second, by which he sought to stir up pure minds by way of remembrance. [1]
3. Something which saints of the Lord should do at the remembrance of His holiness. [2]
4. The name of a mother who, together with her daughter, personified unfeigned faith when brought to remembrance. [1]
5. A word which explains the transformation of a soul brought from darkness to light, and which may also be the time of the onset of affliction’s ways when called to remembrance. [1]
6. An all-inclusive word that tells of all peoples who shall have a remembrance that the Lord endures for all time. [1]
7. The place of rehearsal between a leader and his replacement, concerning the extinguishment of a certain unpleasant remembrance. [3]
8. The time of day, so to speak, when a song was called to remembrance, accompanied by stirrings of heart and spirit. [1]
9. The mental activity of those who are included in a book of remembrance. [4]
Answers to these questions will be found in the next issue of Christian Shepherd.
R. Erisman

Bible Challenger: 1998 - (c)

The first letter of each of the following responses will form the word defining the near relationship, signifying that the greater is not ashamed to be linked with the lesser. [1] The number in brackets indicates the number of words in each answer.
1. Something only half-grown, which caused some royal servants to be greatly ashamed. [1]
2. An exercise, with mathematical connotations, that a studious workman would be doing to avoid being ashamed. [2]
3. The recipients of a display of the power of God in the gospel for which no one needs ever to be ashamed. [4]
4. The duration of a certain time of searching by fifty servants who were deputized only after someone became ashamed. [2]
5. Something which makes not ashamed because of a certain shedding in the hearts of believers. [1]
6. That which Job stated his three friends had. [2]
7. That which sustained an apostle in his zeal to magnify Christ in life or death, that precluded the thought of his ever being ashamed of the One in whom he believed. [2]
8. A “no-no” for contrary people because sound speech has left them ashamed and speechless. [5]
Answers to these questions will be found in the next issue of Christian Shepherd.
R. Erisman

Bible Challenger: 1998 - (d)

The first letter of each of the following responses will form the word that united an apostle with those he comforted by a certain mutuality. [1] The number in brackets indicates the number of words in each answer.
1. How are some who shall be comforted in a coming day identified in this our present day? [3]
2. The way things which are not usually thought to break forth into singing are addressed at a time when the truth that the Lord has comforted His people is universally known. [2]
3. The place of descent a mourning father, who refused to be comforted, anticipated as he wept for his son. [1]
4. One of the gifts that several brothers and sisters brought to a man as they comforted him at the conclusion of a very sore trial that had left him childless and destitute. [3]
5. How a man of considerable means in this life was being treated in “afterlife,” while at the same time, in full view, an acquaintance of his was being comforted. [1]
6. Those for whom a whole nation of mothers were weeping and would not be comforted, as foreseen in an Old Testament prophecy. [2]
7. Besides being comforted and charged, how else had a caring apostle demonstrated the father-children relationship to some early believers? [1]
8. The wife of an early patriarch who was comforted after his mother’s death. [1]
Answers to these questions will be found in the next issue of Christian Shepherd.
R. Erisman

Bible Challenger: 1998 - (e)

The first letter of each of the following responses will form the word that united an apostle with those he comforted by a certain mutuality. [1] The number in brackets indicates the number of words in each answer.
1. One of three words used by an apostle to describe his former life, motivated by ignorance and unbelief, but remarkably changed when he obtained mercy. [1]
2. A place that is entered into through diligence (labor) which many in previous generations could not because of unbelief. [1]
3. Something said of descendants of ancient Israel that opens to them the door of blessing which their forebears were denied, because of their unbelief. [2]
4. Something noticeably absent in the Lord’s ministry in His own country because of unbelief. [2]
5. Something, seemingly contradictory, that a tearful father said as he struggled with unbelief. [2]
6. A minuscule object, reminding us that faith, in the absence of unbelief, can accomplish the impossible. [1]
7. Something, characterized by unbelief, that is the hallmark of those departing from the living God. [2]
Answers to these questions will be found in the next issue of Christian Shepherd.
R. Erisman

Bible Challenger: 1998 - (f)

The first letter of each of the following responses will form the word which tells what the right hand of the Lord became in its display of power for Israel at a crucial time in their history. [1] The number in brackets indicates the number of words in each answer.
1. Figuratively speaking, when sheep will be on the right hand, what will be on the left? [1]
2. Something marvelous that David, as a petitioner, desired to be shown by the One that saves by the right hand. [1]
3. That which a “man” had done, entitling him to take a place of prominence on the right hand of God. [3]
4. That which was placed in the right hand of one who was being mocked and despitefully used. [1]
5. The time frame in which a remarkable cure occurred when a right hand was lifted up. [1]
6. A double injunction for the people of Israel: (1) not to go aside to the right hand (or the left) from the spoken word, and, (2) that which they were not to go after or serve. [2]
7. Where the man clothed in linen was seen who held up his right hand and his left unto heaven. [3]
8. A conservative estimate of the number of persons who could not discern between their right hand and their left hand. [2]

Bible Challenger: 1998 - (g)

The first letter of each of the following responses will form the word once used as an injunction to all Israel to publicly announce liberty throughout the land every fiftieth year. [1] The number in brackets indicates the number of words in each answer.
1. Something the Lord Jesus said He was anointed to do, beside setting at liberty them that are bruised. [3]
2. For what purpose did a centurion courteously entreat a prisoner, giving him liberty to visit friends? [2]
3. A use of liberty that those who are so called could find themselves in a position that is contrary to the Christian pathway. [4]
4. To whom is the glorious liberty imparted which is able to deliver from the bondage of corruption? [3]
5. A necessary prelude to one who continues in the perfect law of liberty. [1]
6. That which a prisoner had done which precluded his immediate release as discussed by two Roman officials. [3]
7. What one “only” should be considered when a Christian widow contemplates remarriage, knowing that Scripture does give her this liberty? [3]
8. What kind of a cloak will result when the servants of God misuse Christian liberty? [1]

Bible Challenger: 1998 - (h)

The first letter of each of the following responses will form the word used to designate the part of God’s earth where rejoicing and delights were once in evidence. [1] The number in brackets indicates the number of words in each answer.
1. One of the personal ingredients in one man’s crown of rejoicing. [1]
2. Something possessed which was not negated by failing resources, transforming sorrow into rejoicing. [2]
3. Something ostentatious but not compatible with true rejoicing, because of its evil connotation. [1]
4. A strange but significant comment concerning the words of the Lord which, upon finding, brought joy and rejoicing to Jeremiah. [4]
5. Something a group of apostles counted with worthiness, as they departed with rejoicing from those who had condemned them. [3]
6. Something the combined efforts of a priest and a prophet did in making Solomon king over Israel amidst much rejoicing. [2]
7. That which precedes the in-gathering of sheaves with rejoicing, when accompanied by weeping (a picture of an evangelist at work). [3]
8. Something that gives expression to rejoicing, as the mouth gives expression to laughing. [1]
9. A foreigner in Israel, that went on his way rejoicing. [1]
Answers to these questions will be found in the next issue of Christian Shepherd.
R. Erisman

Bible Challenger: 1998 - (i)

The first letter of each of the following responses will form a word that describes the exceeding great promises that are given to Christian believers, through which they are partakers of the divine nature. [1] The number in brackets indicates the number of words in each answer.
1. That which jewels were considered by a king who had exceeding much riches and honor. [1]
2. One of two men in an Old Testament parable who had exceeding many flocks and herds. [2]
3. The place whereon four little things are found that are exceeding wise. [1]
4. Something that was great and exceeding and bitter that was uttered by the elder of a set of twins. [1]
5. The composition of the teeth of an exceeding dreadful beast, seen in a vision. [1]
6. Something publicly spoken that constrained a king to do that for which he was exceeding sorry. [1]
7. Something God gave Solomon exceeding much of, besides wisdom. [1]
8. Something seen by certain travelers from the east, for the second time, which caused them to rejoice with exceeding great joy. [1]
Answers to these questions will be found in the next issue of Christian Shepherd.
R. Erisman

Bible Challenger: 1998 - (j)

The first letter of each of the following responses will form the word that characterizes man’s wisdom which is in marked contrast to wisdom that is from above. [1] The number in brackets indicates the number of words in each answer.
1. Something which preachers, relying on man’s wisdom, might use to fascinate hearers, but out of place when there is reliance on the Spirit (of God). [2]
2. Something a visiting queen had heard in her own country that was ascribed to Israel’s king in addition to his renowned wisdom. [1]
3. Something said of the Jews which is in contrast to the statement, “Greeks seek wisdom.” [3]
4. A command given to a ready scribe, who had the wisdom of God in his hand, concerning the people that knew not the laws of God. [3]
5. What did Jesus use when He wrought mighty works that astonished many and caused them to say, “What is the wisdom that is given to Him?” [2]
6. The manner in which a giving God responds when someone, lacking wisdom, makes request from the true source. [1]
7. If God gives wisdom and a mouth to speak it, who are they that will be unable to gainsay or resist? [2]

Bible Challenger: 1998 - (k)

The first letter of each of the following responses will form the word that assures Christians that our Lord continues in His faithful provisions for us, even though we believe not (prove unfaithful). [1] The number in brackets indicates the number of words in each answer.
1. What reward was given to a good servant, who had been faithful in a very little? [4]
2. How are those who are of faith in this our day united with faithful Abraham, the patriarch of long ago? [1]
3. According to the faithful saying, where did Christ Jesus come, in order to be the Saviour? [3]
4. Unto what extent were the believers in Smyrna exhorted to be faithful in order to receive a compensating reward? [1]
5. Something detrimental that presidents and princes vainly sought to find in one who was a faithful man. [3]
6. Something great, which believers will be entrusted with, if they have been found faithful in that which is least (unrighteous mammon). [2]
7. What farming cycle, when enhanced by cold weather, is likened to a faithful messenger? [1]

Bible Challenger: 1998 - (l)

The first letter of each of the following responses will form the word describing that which any man actually knows when measured by what he ought to know, even though he may think he knows much more. [1] The number in brackets indicates the number of words in each answer.
1. The time of rising for someone seeking to understand germination, a process which he knows not at all. [3]
2. Someone even an ox knows: a truism which should have humbled an ancient people. [1]
3. Something vain and invisible, belonging to wise men, which the Lord knows only too well. [1]
4. A character judgment that often results when men justify themselves, but God who knows men’s hearts, rightly ascribes “abomination” to such evaluations. [2]
5. Something a Christian might properly pledge to depart from, as guided by the realization that the Lord knows those that are His. [1]
6. Something written in stone, given to an overcomer, which is quite personal since no one else knows it. [2]
7. That which a certain man, sorely tried in God’s crucible of affliction, expected to compare himself with when the refining process was completed, because of his understanding of what God knows. [1]
Answers to these questions will be found in the next issue of Christian Shepherd.
R. Erisman

Book Review: An Exposition of the Acts of the Apostles W. Kelly

Many years ago, when desiring to begin a serious study of the Word of God, the question came, “Where should I begin?” God graciously directed to the book of Acts and much blessing was received. Along with reading the Word of God, two reference sources proved particularly helpful in this study: the Synopsis by J. N. Darby and this exposition by W. Kelly.
Through this time of personal study, the foundation principles and truths concerning God’s assembly became more clear. Feeling that the book of Acts is a New Testament “Genesis”—presenting the divine account of the formation of the church and the acts of the Spirit of God in its development—it was a joy to find contained in it an inexhaustible treasure chest of principles regarding the assembly.
Mr. Kelly’s helpful exposition is based on his personal translation of Scripture, which is contained in the body of this work.
We feel that a clear understanding of the book of Acts is vital for believers who desire to walk according to the truth of God concerning His church. The doctrines and principles connected with God’s assembly are essential to understand and maintain in the present day, when so much of this truth has been given up by mainstream Christianity.
In Mr. Kelly’s preface to this work we read, “The book [Acts] is rich—everywhere it is the Lord Jesus exalted on high, yet actively working by the Holy Spirit below, whether in the service of individuals or in the assembly as well as the kingdom of God.”
Though Mr. Kelly’s exposition of Acts is large—400 pages in paperback—it is a very readable work. May God richly bless the study of His precious Word to each who have the desire to become, in the things of God, a workman “approved unto God” (2 Tim. 2:15).

Book Review: Gathering Up the Fragments by W. Potter

This book contains choice excerpts of the ministry of our late brother Walter Potter. A cobbler in Chicago in his early years, Mr. Potter later spent time in company with Mr. Darby in England. Though he wrote very little for print, through the efforts of those who took notes in shorthand, excerpts of his simple, practical ministry were preserved. We heartily recommend this volume to our readers.
On page 126, regarding the hope of the Lord’s coming, Mr. Potter purposely misquotes 2 Timothy 4:8: “All them also that believe in His appearing.” Then he writes: “Is that what it says? No! What does it say then? ‘All them that LOVE His appearing.’ What the truth of the second coming of Christ is to your soul is indicative of the state of your soul. Is it a blessed hope? What about the treasure (2 Cor. 4:3-11), and what about the blessed hope? In each case the affection of the heart is involved!”
On pages 248-249, we find very searching words concerning the “sacredness” of the Lord’s Day. He says: “We have little conception, perhaps, of what that event was for God and His Son when He rose from the dead, the beginning of a new creation. That day is still sacred to the thoughts of God and ought to be so in the thoughts of His people.”

Book Review: Gleanings From the Teachings of G. V. Wigram

This wonderful volume contains 416 pages of spiritual gems. Though its excerpts and short essays cover a wide variety of scriptural meditations, the grand theme is suggested in the very first entry which begins: “Christ’s yesterday was the accomplishment of redemption; His tomorrow is having His church with Himself in glory. But He is a living Christ for today.” Our blessed Lord Jesus Christ His Person, His work and His words form the preeminent theme of all Mr. Wigram’s meditations.
Some of the gleanings are but one paragraph in length, while others may cover three or more pages. The reader will find that even a few minutes of perusal will provide a spiritual feast. His meditations furnish sweet, practical ministry, well suited to the morally dark day in which we live.
In a meditation on page 143, Mr. Wigram writes: “If you see any beauty in Christ, and say, ‘I desire to have that,’ God will work it in you.” Then later: “If God is working, there is no distance between the potter and the vessel; it is in the potter’s hand fashioning it, and his hand is very close to the clay.”
We heartily commend this book to our readers, for it contains rich “edification, and exhortation, and comfort” (1 Cor. 14:3).

Book Review: Sources for Meanings of Bible Names

“And they shall call His name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us” (Matt. 1:23).
It has been said that believers ought to be careful in drawing interpretations of Scripture based on the meanings of names found there. On the other hand, the great significance of the meaning of names in the Bible is readily apparent in Matthew 1:23; so too in the case of Abigail when, describing her husband Nabal, she said to David, “For as his name is, so is he” (1 Sam. 25:25). From this example we learn that wherever the Spirit of God has been pleased to record a name in Scripture, its meaning will not be without significance and instruction for us.
There are many sources available to Christians for discovering the various meanings of Biblical names. While it is beyond the scope of this article to review all such sources, the list presented here has been personally very helpful over the years in pursuing such studies. This list should not be considered as an only or a best list but as a personal list which has been found to be both reliable and helpful.
It should be noted that the meanings of some names found in Scripture are subject to a difference of opinion among various Biblical scholars. Thus, it is important for believers to take up such a study in humility and submission to the Spirit of God.
The following, then, are some reliable sources which may be accessed when seeking to determine the meaning of Biblical proper names.
1. A Dictionary of Proper Names, J. B. Jackson.
2. Dictionary of Bible Proper Names, C. A. Potts.
3. Hebrew Proper Names, G. V. Wigram.
4. A Concordance to the Holy Scriptures, C. H. J. Davidson. (This concordance of the J. N. Darby Translation includes an extensive dictionary of names and their meanings, compiled by Mr. Darby.)
5. Young’s Analytical Concordance to the Bible, Robert Young.
6. A New and Concise Bible Dictionary, George A. Morrish. (This is a very helpful source of general Biblical information, including names highly recommended for anyone studying the Bible.)
Generally, the concordances found in the back of Bibles also have the meanings of names included.
There are many computer software editions of the Bible which include Hebrew and Greek lexicons that have the meanings of names provided. The “Online Bible” (Online Bible Software, Ken Hamel) is one of several very good packages available for Macintosh and DOS/Windows computers.
Since there are, as mentioned, times when various scholars have not agreed on the meaning of a Biblical name, we would recommend prayerfully checking multiple sources in seeking to determine what a particular proper name may mean.

Book Review: Synopsis of the Books of the Bible by J. N. Darby

In 2 Timothy 2:15 Paul encourages each believer to “study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” I am thankful for the many, exhaustive Biblical references, dictionaries and concordances that exist to aid the believer in the study of the precious Word of God.
One of the best study guides available is the 5-volume set of the Synopsis by Mr. Darby. It has been a constant source of help and blessing in my personal study of the Bible.
In his preface to the Synopsis, Mr. Darby writes: “[The reader] is not to expect a commentary, nor, on the other hand, to suppose that he has a book which he can read without referring continually to the Word itself in the part treated of.”
As he states, the Synopsis is not to be considered a commentary on Scripture, but rather a help for one who desires to study the Word for himself.
I have found in using the Synopsis that it is indeed important as he states to carefully read the passage of Scripture under study (referring continually back to it) while reading the author’s comments.
The preface closes with these words: “It has not been [the author’s] object to unfold the blessed fruits the Word produces in the mind and ways of him who receives it, nor the feelings produced in his own mind in reading it, but to help the reader in the discovery of that which has produced them.”
Finally, in his introduction to the Synopsis, Mr. Darby writes: “I propose giving in this work a short synopsis of the principal subjects of each book of the Bible, to aid in the study of this precious volume that our God has given to us. I do not at all pretend to give the full contents of each book, but only (as God shall grant to me) a sort of index of the subjects, the divisions of the books by subjects, and (as far as I am enabled) the object of the Spirit of God in each part, hoping that it may aid others in reading the Book of God.”
May we be freshly energized to carefully and prayerfully read and study the Word of God, that each may “hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim. 1:13).
Note: Because it is my understanding that the Synopsis has been printed by several different publishers over the years and that in at least one edition, some unwarranted changes have been made to the original work. I recommend that those considering the purchase of a set do so through the publishing sources listed in the January 1998 issue of the Christian Shepherd.

Book Review: The Best of Books

“Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and Thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by Thy name, O Lord God of hosts” (Jer. 15:16).
Previously, the Christian Shepherd has featured book reviews brief introductions to books particularly worth reading. It is surely fitting that God’s book, the Bible (though beyond comparison with any other book and foremost of all books), should be among the first reviewed. It cannot be reviewed in the same manner as other books, for unlike all others, this living expression of the mind of God may be said to review its reader: “The word of God is living and operative, and sharper than any two-edged sword, and penetrating to the division of soul and spirit, both of joints and marrow, and a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12 JND).
However, there are three issues relating to the Word of God that bear our consideration in this review. The first is appreciation of the Book. Consider the value which Christians in the past have had for the Bible, causing them to endure great hardships in order to obtain and to retain the Word of God. To this end, we recommend that our readers familiarize themselves with the histories of such dear saints of God as William Tyndale, Mary Jones, William Carey and others whose lives demonstrated deep appreciation for this precious, divine Book. Happily, the Bible is probably still the most widely read book in print. Sadly relative to its worth it is the most abjectly neglected Book in the world. If “familiarity breeds contempt,” we may say that with the precious Word of God “availability breeds apathy.”
Why the emphasis on appreciation? Because appreciation is necessary to the second consideration—comprehension. Many complain that the Bible is difficult to understand. In response to this criticism, religious publishers have flooded the market with a multitude of translations and paraphrases (which is a separate issue that merits our serious attention). However, before considering the issue of translations, we need to understand that a proper appreciation of Scripture is essential to its proper comprehension. God’s Word is meant to be believed before it is understood. “Through faith we understand” (Heb. 11:3). “With the heart man believeth” (Rom. 10:10). Speaking to the Jews when He was on earth, our Lord said, “Why do ye not understand My speech? even because ye cannot hear My word.... Ye believe Me not” (John 8:43,45). He also said, “If any man will do His will, he shall know” (John 7:17). The submissive heart is able to discern.
A translation is like a transmitter and our hearts are the receivers. Though transmitters abound, we each have but one receiver. The grand question is, Are we turned on to hear the Word and tuned in to do the will of God? If so, we will understand what we need to understand from the Word of God in order that we may be able to walk with Him in communion and obedience.
“O how I love Thy law! it is my meditation all the day” (Psa. 119:97). “The secret of the Lord is with them that fear Him” (Psa. 25:14).
Next month, Lord willing, we will take a look at a few significant English translations of the Bible.
J. A. Kaiser

Book Review: The Best of Books

“Understandest thou what thou readest? ” (Acts 8:30). “Communicating spiritual things by spiritual means” (1 Cor. 2:13 JND).
Although faith is required for a proper understanding of God’s Word, His mind has been revealed plainly enough that man is still responsible to heed it. The excuse that the Bible is “too hard to understand” is not justifiable. Mark Twain, the famous, unbelieving author, said: “Most people are bothered by those passages in Scripture which they cannot understand. As for me, I notice that the passages in Scripture which trouble me most are those which I do understand.”
Still, the many recent translations of the Bible testify to man’s continual efforts to make the Word of God more understandable. Among these are translations so well-known and so significant that we should be aware of them.
The King James Version (KJV, Authorized Version, AV) is most well-known. After almost four centuries of use, it is still the most-published and widely used translation in the world. It has been singularly and remarkably used by the Spirit of God to convey His truth, and for that reason alone it should not be despised. Virtually all of the best Bible expositions, commentaries and study helps in the English language are based on it, and quotes from it permeate even secular literature as well.
Children who learn to read it at home find that it provides advantages for learning in school. To many believers, it conveys a sense of authority which most modern translations seem to lack. Its most devoted publisher, the Trinitarian Bible Society, has included a glossary a list of words whose meanings have changed in most of their KJV editions. I would encourage you to check your understanding of terms with such a list. I believe that the KJV still the most universally accepted and used translation is the best for general public use.
The JND Translation (JND). I heartily recommend the use of this translation of the Scriptures to any who wish to make a serious study of the Word of God. In his preface, Mr. Darby said, “The purpose [of the translation] is to provide the simple reader with as exact a translation as possible.” Interest in it has been recently increasing, as more believers, disappointed with frivolous modern translations, discover and read it.
The New International Version (NIV) has become very popular. A great deal of literary talent and Christian scholarship was invested in its production. However, the principle of “dynamic equivalence” upon which the translation is based has introduced serious problems for Christians. One Biblical commentator has well said that “in too many instances” the NIV tries to get across the meaning of the author rather than giving a direct translation of the inspired writings. When this is done, the reader is dependent upon the meaning provided by the translator (which may or may not be accurate). This translation is not recommended as a principle source of Scripture reference, for its accuracy cannot be trusted.
The New American Standard Version Bible (NAS, NASB, NASV) is popular with many serious Christians. It has, however, been characterized as “a good translation of a bad text.” I regard it, at best, as a secondary reference source.
The New King James Version (NKJ, NKJV) is the best of recent translations. Its clear and simple language, patterned after the KJV, commends it to many. Its weaknesses (in particular, the distinction between the singular and plural such as thou and ye which is lost by the NKJV’s use of you) distress others. Some have found it useful in ministering to new or less literate believers and to children.
Of course, no translation will profit a soul unless it is read. May we earnestly seek that our lives express a living example of the Word of God. The world ought to see its divine truth lived out in believers’ lives.
“Ye are our epistle... known and read of all men... the epistle of Christ ministered by us... with the Spirit of the living God” (2 Cor. 3:23).
J. A. Kaiser

Book Review: The Collected Writings of J. N. Darby, Volume 16

Ed. Note: Beginning with this issue, each month the “Christian Shepherd” will, Lord willing, include book reviews. These books may be obtained in England and North America at:
Bible Truth Depot 18, Namu Road, P. O. Box 115 Bournemouth, England BH9 3QF
Bible Truth Publishers 59 Industrial Road, P. O. Box 649 Addison, IL 60101
Bible Truth Supply 35 Broadway Cornerbrook, NF Canada A2H 4C6
Bibles and Publications 5706 Monkland we. MontrŽal, PQ Canada H4A 1E6
The rich, practical ministry contained in Volume 16 of the Collected Writings of J. N. Darby is very timely for our day. This volume full of “edification, exhortation, and comfort” presents practical principles for our Christian path. Of the 54 articles included, we would specially recommend a careful reading of “How to Know the Will of the Father” and “I Will Guide Thee With Mine Eye.” The simple exhortations and practical teaching found therein will prove invaluable for those who desire to walk in fellowship “with the Father and the Son.”
In “How to Know the Will of the Father,” the author emphasizes the critical importance of the believer’s walk being pleasing to the Father, showing that it is only in this way one can truly know His will. He writes: “It is then the will of God, and a precious will, that we should be able to discern it [God’s will for the believer] only according to our own spiritual state.”
“Peace My Peace,” “God for Us,” “Christian Devotedness” and “Christian Experience” are some of the other titles found in this volume.
A particularly heart-searching article, “God’s Dwelling with Men,” states: “Let me ask you how you treat this divine guest. How often do you think of it during the day that your bodies are the temples of the Holy Spirit? Where does He dwell? In our bodies and in the church of God. And what kind of persons ought these to be?”
For those who do not have the 32-volume set of J. N. Darby’s Collected Writings (which includes this volume), we are happy to announce that volume 16 has recently been reprinted in separate book form and title. The book is titled Practical Christianity: Papers on Basic Principles.

Book Review: The Life of William Farel by Francis Bevan

William Farel was born in southern France in 1489, just six years after the birth of Martin Luther in Germany. While both men were destined to become mighty servants of God during the time of the reformation, Farel was largely unknown.
Francis Bevan has used many reliable historic sources—including Farel’s own writings and letters—to author this excellent account. In reading her book, it seems apparent that Farel had a clearer and deeper grasp of the truths of God’s Word than many of the better-known reformers.
Farel’s spiritual insight is evidenced in his comment, “Nothing is to be added, nothing to be diminished from that which God has said. His holy and perfect Word is to be kept pure and entire. The Apostle Paul says... that all Scripture is written by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine.... If all could receive this pure truth and give to Christ that honor which belongs to Him, and if the old fathers had, in every single matter, kept to that rule, there would have been no need now to write against evil doctrine and to have such trouble to weed out of the hearts of men such things.”
Of the early church fathers he says, “These holy men were greatly admired for their wisdom and goodness, but for all that they... sinned grievously, in ordering things [in the church] which are not in the Word of God they acted without the commandment of Jesus Christ.”
John Calvin, another mightily used servant of God during the reformation, was a close friend of William Farel. But while Calvin, Martin Luther and others were gaining much public notoriety, Farel was content to serve his Lord, unnoticed and unappreciated by most of the people of his day.
An account recorded near the end of this book gives a striking insight into Farel’s devotedness to the Lord Jesus. “Farel’s faded and tattered suit of clothing told the tale of his hardship and poverty. The council of Geneva ordered that a new suit be given to him. But Farel, desiring to be independent of the council and of all men in order that he might freely speak his mind to them respectfully refused the suit [which was then given to Calvin]. The honors of this world even the religious world had no value or importance to him who lived to serve his Lord and Master.”
Farel tasted severe persecution through much of his life. When 60 years of age, as he was breaking bread with 300 other believers, a group of armed men attacked and severely wounded him. It was some time before he again was able to move about.
He only sought to be a servant, saying, “It is not wealth, honor or the pleasure of this world that are set before us, but to serve the Lord, and that alone.”

Book Review: The Moral Glory of the Lord Jesus Christ by J. G. Bellett

This lovely little volume of ministry should be considered a companion volume to The Son of God (reviewed in the June 1998 Christian Shepherd), written by the same author. Together these two rich and precious meditations on the personal and moral glory of our Lord Jesus Christ answer to the upper and the nether springs which Achsah’s father gave her, in response to her request, to sustain her inheritance (Judges 1:15).
We surely need to be refreshed and sustained by the infinite springs of the person and glory of our Lord Jesus Christ, both as the eternal Son of God and as perfect Man in this world.
In this volume, Mr. Bellett has provided that which warms and draws the affections of the heart to the blessed Lord, as he presents Him in the moral glory attaching to His manhood.
In his meditation, Mr. Bellett touchingly writes, “He asked His disciples, in the hour of Gethsemane, to watch with Him, but He did not ask them to pray for Him. He would claim sympathy would have the hearts of His companions bound to Him. But He could not ask them to stand as in the divine presence on His behalf. He would have them give themselves to Him, but He could not seek them to give themselves to God for Him.”
Later the author considers the Lord Jesus in the ways in which He overcame the power of the wicked one, maintaining and displaying in it all beautiful moral perfection. He writes, “Thus Jesus the Son of God was the bruiser of Satan, as He was his binder and spoiler. But He never allows him to bear witness to Him. He would not be helped in His ministry by that which He came to destroy. He could have no fellowship with darkness, in His service, any more than in His nature.”
Toward the conclusion of his lovely meditation he writes, “I have now traced some of the features of the moral glory of the Lord Jesus Christ. He represented man to God man as he ought to be, and God rested in Him. The moral perfection of the Man Christ Jesus, and God’s acceptance of Him, was signified in the meat offering (Lev. 2).”
The heart is stirred and warmed in reading this volume, and this is a much-needed antidote in the day of coldness and indifference to the person of Christ in which we live. In meditating upon and enjoying His moral glories, we find delight and satisfaction in communion with the Father as we enjoy the sweet incense and the pure, fine meal of His perfect, holy life of obedience and service. May our hearts be deeply affected and our lives morally conformed to our blessed Saviour!

Book Review: The Son of God by J. G. Bellett

We believe this is one of the richest volumes of written ministry available to believers. Its subject is the glorious person of our Lord Jesus Christ as eternal Son, ever dwelling in the bosom of the Father.
The opening paragraph of the first page of these precious meditations begins with this comment: “I am sure that I dread reasonings where affections would animate us withdrawing from the place of living power into a region of theories.”
How needful these words are for believers today! So often the precious, sweet things of Christ which ought to be received and enjoyed in faith and held in love become matters of intellectual debate and mere human reasonings. A striking and solemn example of these sad speculations is seen in the false teachings concerning the eternal Sonship of our blessed Saviour.
The volume, which we are reviewing, wonderfully presents the truth of this vital doctrine. However, Mr. Bellett’s meditation is the result of the “rivers of living water” flowing from his heart’s affections for our Lord Jesus. Thus, we are given the doctrinal truth as rich and sweet ministry, rather than a dry, technically correct dissertation.
Early in the first chapter we read this statement: “We must not, beloved, touch this precious mystery. We should fear to dim the light of that love in which our souls are invited to walk on their way to heaven. And we should fear to admit as faith that which would defraud the divine bosom of its eternal, ineffable delights and which would tell our God that He knew not a Father’s joy in that bosom as He opened it and which would tell our Lord that He knew not a Son’s joy in that bosom as He lay there from all eternity.”
Later Mr. Bellett writes: “Can I be satisfied with the unbelieving thought that... Father, Son and Spirit are only different lights in which the One Person is presented?” He further notes: “It was once asked me, ‘Had the Father no bosom till the Babe was born in Bethlehem?’ Indeed, fully sure I am, as the question suggests, He had from all eternity... the bosom of the Father... the eternal habitation enjoyed by the Son in the ineffable delight of the Father.”
Toward the end of the volume we read: “At this time... there may be a tendency to forget His person—Himself—in the common testimony to His work. Doctrine may be surveyed as with a measuring line and level rather than being eyed with an admiring, worshipping heart as the place of the glories of the Son of God.”
We heartily recommend that our readers obtain a copy and diligently read (and reread) this book.

Book Reviews

“The Institution of Marriage” (P. Wilson)
In the foreword of this book, R. W. Rule writes: “How often would [my wife and I] have profited by the instruction and counsel of such a book, if it had been put into [our] hands and carefully studied, along with the Scriptures, fifty years ago!” We add a hearty “Amen” to this comment!
Written within the past forty years, the subjects covered in this work such as “Choosing a Companion,” “Compatibility” and “A New Home” are practical, simply presented and relevant to the current day in which we live. While moral corruption in the world is increasing at a level that even the author might not have envisioned when he wrote this book, the clear, sound advice given is based on principles of the Word of God which are applicable to every circumstance of life and in every age.
In the chapter “New Responsibilities” we read: “What man can say, I love my wife as myself? Are we not more ready to think of our aches and pains than of our wives? The husband is to be a miniature demonstration of Christ by loving his wife as himself, and as Christ loved the church.”
The last chapter, “Other Problems” concerning the education of our children is especially timely.
“The Family” (G. Hayhoe)
We would specially encourage parents with young families to prayerfully and carefully read this helpful booklet. While we recognize the failures of many parents whose lives are recorded in the Word of God and our own failures, the author points out that all is not hopeless. He says, “God has given us a perfect pattern in His Word. Just as the love of Christ for His church is the pattern for the husband in his love for his wife, so I believe we could say that the way in which God our Father has dealt with us as His children is the perfect pattern for us as fathers with our children. (See Hebrews 12:510.)” In the foreword the author expresses this desire: “May the Lord be pleased to use this little booklet for His own glory and praise and for the blessing of fathers and mothers of many growing families in these difficult days.”
“To the Parents of My Grandchildren” (G. C. Willis)
We are very thankful that this helpful book is available again. If such a thing were possible, we would recommend it as required reading (after the Word of God, of course) for all Christian parents.
The simple, practical teaching which the author provides taken from the lives of many parents recorded in the Bible is an invaluable resource of help and guidance in raising children in this dark day.
In his preface, the author states: “We are in the ‘perilous times’ of 2 Timothy 3:1, and it is not easy to bring up our children. Alas, there is in the hearts of our children (and in us also) that which causes them naturally to turn in the wrong direction only the grace of God is sufficient for the parents’ need. Thank God... He says, ‘My grace is sufficient.’ If these pages should prove an encouragement or a signpost of warning to some young parents, how thankful I would be!”
The author touchingly closes his meditations with: “The words of the grandfather are ended they have made him feel how he has failed and how utterly unqualified he was for such a work. But within these pages are... counsel and encouragement from Him who faileth not. Let us ever and always remember, ‘God is faithful.’ ”
Addresses of suppliers of these publications are listed in the January 1998 Christian Shepherd. They also may be obtained from the Editor.

Brief Notes on Ephesians Chapter 1

We must introduce our meditations on this epistle by returning a little to the ways of God from the beginning, because there is a wonderful unity in His counsels, and the whole volume sets its seal to the divine thought: “Known unto God are all His works from the beginning.” If I come to a moral scripture “Let him that stole steal no more” I may take it and use it at once and alone. But when it is doctrinal or prophetic scripture, I have to ask how it is introduced and what is to come after it, because we are to have divine intelligence: “We have the mind of Christ.”
Now the Epistle to the Hebrews opens and unfolds the heavens and speaks of heavenly calling, putting you in company with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, but it does not open the mystery of the church. The Epistle to the Ephesians opens that mystery, but it does not keep you in company with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. We are advancing, and we are called to distinguish between the heavenly calling and the calling of the church. So there is a fitness in considering the Epistle to the Hebrews before the Epistle to the Ephesians.
Hebrews, which opens the heavenly calling, associates you with Noah, Abraham and Moses. The earth at the beginning was given to the children of men. What did they do with it? They forfeited it. Then what did God do with them? He opened heaven to them! He gave them the earth to enjoy and they soiled it and lost it by sin. So in abounding grace, God opens heaven to them.
What infinite grace! What should I say of one who, when I had abused a gift which he put in my hand, put a better gift in my other hand! This is our God!
Adam was brought back to God, Enoch was taken to heaven and Abraham had the heavenly calling. They looked for a better country, “that is, an heavenly.” Moses bore witness of it from Pisgah. Elijah in a later dispensation did too. From the beginning there has been a heavenly calling, but not a church calling. So when the Apostle addresses the Hebrews, who were brought from a Jewish root, he talks of heavenly calling but does not go beyond it.
When he addresses the Ephesians, once a Gentile people, the worshippers of the goddess Diana, he unfolds the mystery of the church the richest thing in the counsels of God.
How did God unfold His purposes in the earth? He knew a family in the loins of Abraham. They flourished into a nation in Exodus and then under judges and prophets. He goes from step to step till the elect family flourished under Solomon into a kingdom.
So it is with His heavenly purposes. It is not till the apostleship of Paul is set up that they unfold in the bright culminating point of the church. In His heavenly purposes we follow on till we see the church at the highest point in creation, “the fullness of Him that filleth all in all.”
Now, with this preface, we stand before the Epistle to the Ephesians. Let me remind you of a passage in Colossians: “The dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfill the word of God [or, to fill it out]” (Col. 1:25). This is a magnificent commentary on Paul’s ministry to fill out the revelation of God. As Solomon displayed the closing purpose of God in the earth with a throne, so Paul reveals the bright, magnificent point of the heavenly mysteries. He brings us up to the headship of Christ.
The Apostle addresses all the “faithful” in Christ Jesus. So we are called to learn these things. “Who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ.” This could not be said of the patriarchs. “In heavenly places” they would have been associated with us, but these are blessings in company with Christ.
Having put you in this peculiar place, the Apostle unfolds the divine roll of blessings to you. The first blessing is that you were chosen in Him before the world was. Abraham was certainly chosen before the foundation of the world, but you are chosen “in him.”
Then, predestination always follows on election. Election touches the person; predestination, the place or the condition: “Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ... He hath made us accepted in the beloved.” Adam was surely a son of God, but he was not “accepted in the beloved.” This adoption is of the highest order. We have the joy and liberty of the Beloved’s Sonship.
He goes on to say, “In whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.” Who would think of asking a person up in heavenly places, “Are you forgiven?” Observe the parable of the prodigal; the father never says he forgives him. How could he frame his lips to say, “I forgive you”? You and I ought to walk in such a way as to assume forgiveness as a thing at the foot of the hill, while we are up at the heights. Let the music and dancing, the ring and the shoes tell me I am forgiven. So the Father treats the prodigal, and so the Spirit treats us in Ephesians 1.
He abounds towards us in all wisdom and knowledge, having opened to us the bosom secret all things gathered together in Christ. That is a secret never made known before. In the prophet Isaiah we get a beautiful picture of the millennial earth, but do we ever get the millennial heavens with Christ at their head? Did Isaiah ever say that all things in heaven and earth should be headed up in the glorified Man?
“In whom also we have obtained an inheritance.” We are heirs with Him. And till the inheritance comes, we get the Holy Spirit. We get the Spirit here under two titles a seal and an earnest a seal of present salvation and an earnest of future inheritance. When I look at the place of the Holy Spirit, in the mystery of redemption, it is wonderful to see the official glories that attach to Him here on earth. In the Epistle to the Hebrews we have official glories of Christ. Here we are called to witness the official glories of the Holy Spirit in this dispensation. What a blessed, glorious thing to take the secrets of the divine bosom and make them known to us! To seal us by His presence as possessors of present salvation and to be the earnest of our inheritance!
“The purchased possession” here is the whole scene the whole creation. It is purchased, but not yet redeemed. The blood of Christ has purchased the creation as well as you, and while in that condition you have the Holy Spirit as an earnest. When it is redeemed you will be the heir of it. Are you redeemed yet? You are purchased, but you wait for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of your body, and that you will never get till God puts forth power as well as blood. The Apocalypse is the display of redemption; the gospel is the display of purchase, but the purchased thing is not redeemed (that is, fully redeemed) till God puts forth power to rescue it from the hands of the destroyer.
At verse 15 the Apostle ceases to be a teacher and becomes an intercessor and you will find that in prayer he never pulls down what, as a teacher, he had built up. Paul does not ask God to give them this and the other, but he asks Him that they may have the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, that the eyes of their understanding may be enlightened. Oh for a better heart to know these things! If God has lit a candle, I will not ask Him to light it, but to take the film from my eyes that I may see what He has done, what this magnificent purpose is and the power that has brought us there. So he prays that you may have an eye to discern the brightness of the heavenly glory, and the resurrection power that has conducted you from such ruins to such glories.
J. G. Bellett (adapted)

Brief Notes on Ephesians Chapter 2

In Ephesians chapter 1 we found that we must distinguish between the heavenly calling and the church calling. The church has heavenly calling, but it does not follow that all who have heavenly calling have church calling. Heavenly calling arose from divine disappointment in the earth, which was given to Adam. He forfeited it, and the Lord then takes His elect to heaven.
The Lord found another way to bless His elect, for the earth is lost. Where then will He put His saints? “I will put them in heaven,” He says. This is not the repairing of a breach, but bringing something better out of the ruin. The heavenly man finds himself in a better place than if he had never lost the earth.
The two dealings of God with the earth are in strangership and citizenship: citizenship when God is dealing with and settling the earth and strangership when God is calling people out. He has now called the church into strangership. We see how God introduces our thoughts to the present dispensation. The earth is polluted, and God has chosen to take Himself and His people to heaven. But the church is more than a stranger Moses, Abraham and others were taken to heaven as witnesses of heavenly calling. But in Ephesians 1 we are not only in heaven, but in Christ in heaven. See how full of “in” the chapter is. We are blessed in heavenly places in Christ—accepted in the Beloved. God has chosen us in Him. We have obtained an inheritance in Him. We are raised in Christ, seated in Him in heavenly places and a co-inheritor in Christ. That is a new thing; that is the body of Christ. That is one peculiarity of the church.
Soon the Lord will fill the whole face of the earth. All nations will bow to His scepter. The earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea. But is that all we get in the millennial earth? No, we get the twelve tribes in special nearness. We get the land of Israel in special relationship to God. And we get in the midst of the tribes a royal people and a priestly people. No one can read the prophecy and not see that Jerusalem will have a special place, seated in her beauty. “The Lord loveth the gates of Zion more than all the dwellings of Jacob.”
Then we travel to the heavens and find beautiful varieties there the noble army of martyrs and the goodly fellowship of the prophets. But, as Jerusalem will take the chief place on earth, so the church will take the chief place in heaven.
When Israel stood between the Red Sea and the hosts of Egypt, they were told, “Stand still, and see the salvation of Jehovah.” They had gotten out from under the claims of the destroying angel and were in the salvation of God, but God had secrets in the cloud not yet unfolded to them. There was a glory there that could scatter the hosts in the sea, taking the wheels off Egyptian chariots while making crystal walls for the Israelites. So, standing before the Ephesians, we do not come to see justification by blood, but to let the rich purpose of God unfold itself to our gaze. Are we satisfied only to know the blood on the lintel has delivered us? All leans on that but inquire into the cloudy glory before taking up Ephesians in this attitude.
The moment the history of Israel closed in Babylonish captivity, the glory departed it never went to the Gentile. The sword went, but not the glory. In Ezekiel we see that the glory has gone up to heaven and the sword has gone to the Gentiles. Has the glory ever come back? It has not in the sword of Caesar but shrouded in the humiliation of the Man of Nazareth. The sword failed to keep the earth in order and it and the glory are just as much apart now as in the days of Ezekiel. The powers that be are not ordained of Jesus; they are ordained of God as God. All dignities belong to Jesus in title, but we cannot yet see Him as King of kings and Lord of lords. The remnant’s religion is, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”
Now we must recognize God’s domain and Caesar’s domain. Thus we may not say that the glory is returned to link itself with the sword, or He who said, “Who made Me a judge or a divider?” would have been a very different person in this world.
In Ephesians 2 we take up an important truth to see out of what we are called. Verses 16 gives us the subject of death and life, verses 7-9 the subject of good works and verses 10-22 the distance and nearness.
Before we were baptized into the body of Christ, our condition was a profound moral ruin death. In Christ we have life of the highest order imparted to us. Our death state in nature could not be lower; our life state in Christ could not be higher. Our good works as a ground of boasting are shut out by God. But we have been created in such a way that we must be bringing them forth. Our new creation secures them.
Then to the end of chapter 2 we get alienation and nearness. This is just like death and life in our own person either death or life attaches to us. In relation to God, it is either alienation or nearness: “No hope, and without God in the world.” Once so completely cut off from Him, how ineffable is my nearness now in Christ! It could not be more perfect. The value of Christ rests upon every stone in the temple and the Holy Spirit dwells there.
Thus, the first chapter of Ephesians unfolds our position in Christ while the second draws us aside to see how weak and feeble is our nature. Though He is not weak in delineating our condition in nature, He is equally strong when He delineates our condition in Christ Jesus.
J. G. Bellett (adapted)

Brief Notes on Ephesians Chapter 4:17 - Chapter 5

The doctrine of this epistle closes with chapter 4:16. From that point to chapter 6:9, we get practical instructions. From chapter 6:9 to the end, we get conflict.
In Ephesians 5 and 6 we get not only the church, but saints individually. We do not lose our personality. And so it is with gifts: “He gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints.” The first business of gifts was with each individually.
So when we come to practical details, we are also addressed individually. We are told to put away lying, as being members one of another. “Be ye angry, and sin not.” Anger may be as holy a feeling as any other, but do not retain it so as to let it degenerate into nature. Then, resist the devil, and “let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labor... that he may have to give to him that needeth.” This is very beautiful. Ceasing from stealing, he is to become a workman for others. “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth... and grieve not the Holy Spirit of God.” Our works are looked at and our words and now our tempers.
Then, “Forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” I am to measure myself by God.
Chapter 5
“Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; and walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us.” Suppose I was a good neighbor just to keep my conscience a little easy. Would that be meeting the demands of this passage? “Walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us”: that makes kindness, Christian kindness. I take the Lord Jesus as my great prototype. I am to walk in love, because Christ has loved me and given Himself for me.
You know that your renewed conscience would never be satisfied merely by doing what is right. You must have the springs of action purified. Uncleanness does not become saints. But am I to lay it aside because it is uncleanness? No, but because it does not become saints.
The fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, as in the benevolent virtues righteousness, as in integrity and honesty, and all connected with truth. We find these two in the world, but not connected with truth. These things are given to make us practically like Christ. As an old writer says, “Christ Himself is the ground of all laws to a Christian.” He would have us sober, truthful and honest.
Now are you light, and what quality of light? Light “in the Lord.” “Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.” But are you merely an emptied, stripped thing? No; you have put on the new man. As the old man would have made plunder out of what belonged to another, so now you are to work for him whom before you would have plundered.
“See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time.” I am to have an understanding, not of the philosophy of schools, but of the will of the Lord. The Spirit keeps you in company with Christ. He puts Christ upon you. The old man might get drunk with wine, but the new man has the Spirit to fill himself with. If the old man is to be mortified, the new man is to be cultivated.
This filling of the Spirit expresses itself “in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs.” This is a vessel filled with the Spirit. Once filled with wine, now it is bubbling up in melody to the Lord.
Now he addresses husbands and wives. There, I need not say, how deeply we are in company with Christ. Now Christ is called “head” in three aspects. In chapter 1 He is Head over all things to the church. In chapter 4 it is as being Head of influence, dispensing virtue to members. Here in chapter 5 we see Him in another aspect, as the Head of authority. “The husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church.”
Then, the Lord becomes the “new sanction” for children’s obedience to their parents. Under Moses, it was a legal thing.
So with fathers. A father ought to delight in serving his child. At every hour he should be watching that the nurture and admonition of the Lord are ministered to his child. He should minister Christ to him.
As to servants, it is beautiful: They are to be obedient. It matters not the character of their master. They are to be doing service “as unto the Lord.”
Then as to masters do not be guilty of threatening. The lordly ways of masters and mistresses are hateful. How does your Master in heaven treat you?
Here the practical part ends, but I ask, Does it not dignify you? You are in company up there with Jesus, even while carrying on these practical duties. It is the same Jesus who is enfolding, embracing and enriching you in every step of the journey, and that for His own eternity.
J. G. Bellett

Brief Notes on Ephesians Chapter 6:10-24

The doctrine of the Epistle to the Ephesians closes with chapter 4:16. From that point to chapter 6:9, we get practical instructions. From chapter 6:9 to the end, we get conflict. So this epistle naturally distributes itself into three parts teaching, walk and conflict.
The teaching, we remember, was the education of the church the body of Christ. We have constant proof all along the line of Old Testament days of heavenly calling, but only distant, shadowy intimations of the body of Christ. It is not said of Abraham that he was blessed in heavenly places in Christ, incorporated in Christ. This is the grand teaching of this highest of all the epistles.
When we leave the doctrinal part, we get the practical part and there the doctrinal part is gloriously honored. Precepts become, by the Spirit, the expression of the moral virtue of my calling.
In the next place precepts are given a dispensational character. God is not dwelling in the same light now as when He was sitting on the throne in Jerusalem. That was an earthly light. The light that God now dwells in is the awful yet most precious mystery that He has been rejected here in His dear Son and that that Son is now glorified in heaven. Now you must be in the light where God dwells. You must make God’s dispensational truth the rule of your ways. I speak not, of course, of the light in which God dwells, as in His own proper glory as we read in 1 Timothy 6:16.
The difference between chapters 5 and 6 is that in chapter 5 we see the saint walking in the midst of the circumstances of human life. In chapter 6 we see the saint in the field of battle. You are in conflict today and you will be again tomorrow. There is plenty of work for us to do if we are practical, living saints of God.
Now, in opening this third view, he tells us to be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might, taking to us the whole armor of God, that we may withstand in the evil day, and having done all to stand. The Spirit contemplates that it is a war from the beginning to end. There may be specific battles, but you must still stand as in war. Are you prepared for finding human life a war? It is to be incessant war until you have done with this world, this flesh and the devil.
“The evil day” is a specific battle. If we have won the victory, why are we still called to stand? Because war has been proclaimed. You are to recognize that while you are in the body, you are a fighting man. That being your position, you are to put on the whole armor of God, “for we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers,... against spiritual wickedness in high places.” Now, how do you understand this? Do you rest in the thought that wicked spirits are in heavenly places?
But what do these wicked spirits do? They come down with all their wiles and lies and deceivings to practice them in your heart and mine. Paul says, “We are not ignorant of his devices,” and again, “O full of all subtlety and all mischief, thou child of the devil.” All these prove that he acts by wiles. He acts by violence and by persecution also, but that is not contemplated here. If we go over the story of Satan in Scripture, we shall find him an accuser. Was he not an accuser of the brethren in the book of Job? And is not the very same character attached to him in the book of the Revelation? Thus, finding myself in the presence of the enemy, I am to put on the whole armor of God.
Let us inspect each part of this armor. There is not one single piece of this armor which is fitted to battle against flesh and blood. There are no slings or jawbones of asses as with David and Samson. If I have not the armor here, I am not fighting for Christ. Saints may take carnal weapons, but if I do if, for instance, I go into a court of justice to assert my rights do not let me talk of being in the light of God. That is where dispensational truth is so important. I find here that the Spirit sends me into a field of battle, and I find that my security depends on truth, righteousness, faith, peace and the sword of the Spirit.
Now suppose we were to describe a few of these wiles: infidel heresies, superstitious vanities, evil doctrines. We are not here in conflict with our lusts but with the direct attempts of the enemy. We withstand the temptations of our hearts in this world in chapter 5. In chapter 6 we are set face to face with Satan. How could you attach yourself to Jesus and not turn round in the face of the enemy and let him know that you are at war with him?
Then we find that having this armor on us, if a quickened condition of soul be not maintained in communion, the armor will be cumbrous. “Praying always... and for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in bonds.” Did you ever hear of such a thing as the ambassador of one nation being put in bonds by the nation to which he was sent? Why, God has fared worse in this world than any nation in it would! And what message did this ambassador bring? A message of boundless grace. And that is the way He has been treated. The law of nations would not allow it for an instant. Yet that is the way God, for almost two thousand years, in the person of His servants, has consented to be treated.
The Apostle tells them that he sends Tychicus “that he might comfort your hearts.” Oh, if we could be in prison, yet able to comfort others! As a dear believer, a clergyman in the Bishop of London’s coalhole, sent to his wife, “Be merry, dear wife, be merry; we’re all merry here. We weep with Him now, but we shall laugh with Him forever.” That is equal to Paul sending from a prison in Rome a cheering word to his brethren at Ephesus.
God grant that we may be taught by the doctrine, instructed in the morals and put on something of strength for the battle by this closing scene.
J. G. Bellett

Brief Notes on Ephesians Chapters 3-4

“By grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8).
Brief Notes on Ephesians Chapters 3-4
When we meditate on such Scripture as Ephesians we ought to take care that knowledge not be overvalued. Paul refused to bring to the Corinthians the mystery because of their low moral standing. We too ought to approach this epistle cautiously, considering our own moral condition.
In chapter 3 we resume the subject of the mystery, and it is presented as being a parenthesis. The church is more largely opened out to us. The revelation of this mystery was given to one (Paul) who knew only a Christ in glory. “He made known unto me the mystery... which in other ages was not made known... that the Gentiles should be fellow-heirs,” not with the Jews merely, but with Christ. The body will have Jews in it, but still it is characteristically Gentile. He loses sight of the Jews and tells the Gentiles that they are fellow-heirs with Christ.
Now what was the operation of the mystery? “To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God.” What a light we stand in! The multiform, variegated wisdom of God is now told out in all its forms of beauty. We get the high calling into fellow-heirship: one body with the Lord of glory. We have reached the very Head itself, and we sit down in sight of the coronation of Christ and His elect the manifold wisdom of God.
In chapter 3:14, the Apostle again becomes a man of prayer for us. In chapter 1 he prays to the God of our Lord Jesus that we may know the glory that awaits us and the strength that is conducting us there. Here he prays that we may know the love that has destined us there, and he prays to the Father of our Lord Jesus.
When we think of glory and strength, we are in company with the God of the Lord Jesus. When we think of love, we are in company with the Father of the Lord Jesus.
He says, “Of whom the whole family [better rendered, every family].” If we take an intelligent view of the coming millennial heavens, we see various families, as well as on the millennial earth. We see principalities, thrones and dominions, and we see the church as the body of Christ carried and seated above all. There may be the “noble martyrs” and “the prophets” a patriarchal household as well as a prophetic household in the world to come, but the church of the living God, in company with her Head, will be above it all.
Having closed this parenthetic chapter, we enter chapter 4. It is characteristic that Paul, a prisoner, should tell out the high calling of the church. If we walked a natural path and died a natural death, we should go from prisons and stakes to Christ in glory. The saint should be an unresisting witness against the world. Paul unfolds the mystery from a gloomy prison. The church is a martyred thing on the earth.
Now he tells us to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. In the moral history of Christianity, pride has broken that bond of peace. But when we sit down together Jew and Gentile it is one Lord, one faith, one baptism. This Christianity may not break.
In chapter 4 we see the conquest of Christ and the redemption of man. It is the undoing of the mischief of Genesis 3. Christ releases those who were captive to Satan and makes the Devil and his hosts His captives. And what has He done with the old captive? He puts him in a more wonderful place than that out of which Satan took him. We get the captivity of man and the glorification of man and there the doctrinal part ends.
Are we prepared for such magnificent disclosures of God’s mind or are they too weighty for us? Paul prays that we might be strengthened with might by the Spirit in the inner man. The human mind is not able to measure these things. Our hearts ought to be so opened to Him that He not the scene around us may dwell in them, and that we may know His love, which passes knowledge.
J. G. Bellett

The Calling of the Church

What a wonderful thing it is to be associated in this world with the company that Christ loved— “Christ... loved the church.” If we realize how dear the church is to the heart of Christ, we are not going to be careless about church truth. If we are in communion with His mind, the church will be dear to us and we will want God’s thoughts about it.
How much are we willing to give? How much are we willing to suffer in order that others may come into the good of these precious truths? Paul suffered, and, in a secondary way, you and I are given, not only to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, but also to suffer for His name’s sake. This is our privilege, and we ought to throw all our energies into line with His will and seek to go through this world in communion with Him and His thoughts about the church.
C. H. Brown

Children: The Crown and the Glory

“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Prov. 22:6).
Recently, some beloved younger brethren shared memories of how their parents have sought to “bring them up in the nurture and admonition [discipline] of the Lord.” We trust that the following samples will be an encouragement to dear parents who are currently seeking God’s grace to raise their beloved children for His glory and their blessing.
“One thing that I have been raised with since day one is a daily family Bible reading. Every night we sit down as a family and read out loud. Then my dad talks about it.”
“I think the two things that my parents did for me that have helped more than anything else were (1) they impressed on me that when I made a decision, I had to make it before the Lord that if I sinned, it was first of all against Him, and (2) whenever they exercised discipline we always ended on our knees and stayed there till I confessed what I had done to the Lord. I think that was far harder than gritting my teeth for a few seconds while the rod fell.”
“I remember as far back as I can, sitting on my mother’s knee [while she read from the Bible].”
“Learning to pray in the good times and the bad. My mother would kneel with me nightly, ever since I was able to talk, and pray with me, while I was on my knees beside my bed.”
“Another thing my parents did was not to seethe the kid in his mother’s milk (Ex. 23:19). Dad was not into long Bible readings that made us restless. But he didn’t just read a couple verses and dismiss us. He’d try to explain things to us. I remember the day he bought me my first full-sized Bible. I took it into my bedroom, sat on my bed and read until I fell asleep. I didn’t understand most of what I read, but I wanted to do it because of my dad’s good example of spending lots of time reading his Bible.”
“Though my parents were very faithful in discipline, I can clearly remember a strong feeling of love whenever my father or mother spanked me, especially with my father. Afterward, I can remember turning around and giving my dad a big hug with the tears running down my face. Every time I think about this, it brings tears to my eyes. I never ever felt that my dad was angry or frustrated with me. I just knew and had it reinforced each time he punished me how much he loved me.”
“And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4).

Christ Himself: the Ground of All Laws to a Christian

Though holy men of God have left examples of faith for us to follow (see Phil. 3:17), our blessed Lord Jesus Christ Himself shines above all as our one perfect Example.
Adapted from N. Berry

Clear Views or Christ?

While it is needful to “hold fast the form of sound words,” Christians must beware of becoming satisfied with “clear views” of Scripture. If personal communion with Christ is lacking, even “sound words” will leave the heart cold as an icicle. As in nature, when the coldest nights are often the clearest, so with sound truth. Without enjoyment of Christ, truth becomes cold and lifeless.
How vital is our personal walk with God! “Clear views” will leave the heart barren if there is not daily enjoyment of Christ. He died, “the just for the unjust,” not merely to give us “clear views” of Scripture, but to “bring us to God.”
But how are we to enjoy Christ? By the Word. “Search the scriptures.... They are they which testify of Me” (John 5:39). If we seek to think of Christ apart from the Word and the Word apart from the Holy Spirit, all becomes confusion or cold speculation.
It is wonderfully true that we have received a new nature and have been brought into a new position. But more than this, we have been brought to a Person. It is Himself that we want Himself that the heart can understand.
“And they said... Did not our heart burn within us, while He talked with us by the way, and while He opened to us the scriptures?” (Luke 24:32).
Things New and Old
“O taste and see that the Lord is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in Him” (Psalm 34:8).

Deliverance or Christ?

“As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after Thee, O God” (Psa. 42:1).
The one here who is in a deep trial does not seem to be looking for deliverance, nor is he looking to be taken out of [the trial]. It seems that he is just looking to a Person. And that is what we need, brethren. We may not be taken out of the difficulties in which we are, but we can be sure that there is One to whom we can turn who promised that He will never leave us nor forsake us. He is with us in the trial.
In His wonderful ways He may see fit in His time to take us out of trial, but it may not be here. He may see fit to leave us in situations where it seems He is not intervening. But He Himself is able to fill the heart! I am sure that some of us can say that the very happiest times in our lives have been when we were in deep trial, but the Lord has been near us in a way that we had never experienced before a way when He made Himself precious.
Let us ask our hearts if we are just longing for deliverance or are our hearts going out for more and more enjoyment of a Person? Even though He [may not] take us out of our difficulties, just to know that He is there, that He loves us and that the day is coming when full deliverance will be granted in that day when God’s rightful king will have His rightful place will give joy and peace.
G. Hayhoe

Dispensationalism: God's Dealings With Man

Beginning with this issue we plan, Lord willing, to present a series of articles on the vitally important truth of dispensationalism as taught in the Word of God.
During the last 20 years or so, there has been a strong reassertion of classic Amillenialism, a system of teaching which denies the Millennium as a definite period of 1000 years, still in the future. This movement, which seems to be carrying away a large number in professing Christianity, is marked by the giving up of the truth of dispensationalism a truth once held by many Christian leaders. This course is in sharp contrast to an earlier trend among several well-known, conservative evangelicals, who along with some large, evangelical Bible colleges have embraced and taught dispensational truth. The dispensational writings and teachings of J. N. Darby and other brethren of the 1800s were a fundamental tenet in the propagation of this truth.
Current opposition to dispensationalism may be due at least in part to the rapid expansion and increasing popularity of certain Christian radio programs, whose commentators categorically reject the Biblical truth of dispensationalism.
The question may be asked, “Does the move away from a dispensational view of the Scriptures matter all that much?” We believe that the answer is a resounding “Yes, it does matter very much!”
There is potential for much confusion and misunderstanding of Scripture when God’s differing ways of dealing with man down through the ages are not clearly understood. Failure to discern the unique position of the church in the counsels and purposes of God affects almost all aspects of our lives. It affects our goals and how we live our lives more than we might suspect. If we do not clearly understand the dispensational dealings of God with man, there is a real danger that we believers becoming in our ways like “earth-dwellers” with our horizons and hopes connected to this world will forget that our true place is with Christ, as part of His bride, in that glorious world to come.
Though capable and respected brothers have differed as to the number and names of the dispensations, they saw and understood the major change in God’s dealings when Israel was set aside and God began to do something new in taking out of the nations (Gentiles) a people for His name (Acts 15:14). Romans 9-11 examine that line of things in the light of the special place Israel enjoyed in the purposes of God in the previous dispensation or administration.
Understanding God’s dispensational dealings is, we feel, fundamental to our walking as heavenly pilgrims, in a way which is pleasing and glorifying to our Lord Jesus Christ. Confusion or ignorance of this important subject may easily result in believers becoming involved in the politics and social programs of the world. “Ye are not of the world” ( John 15:19). “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world” (1 John 2:15).
R. K. Gorgas

The Dispensations of God: 1 - Introduction

The purpose of the following series of articles (adapted from articles originally authored by F. G. Patterson) is to bring before our readers the general scope of the great dispensational dealings of God as revealed in His prophetic Word. These subjects are presented in general in their consecutive order and represent an overview of the whole dispensational dealings of God, rather than a minutely detailed study.
A large scope of Scripture will be covered with five distinct subjects from the prophetic Old Testament Scriptures specially before us:
1. The corruption ruin of Israel, God’s elect nation.
2. Judgment following this ruin, whether from the hand of the Gentiles or otherwise.
3. The times of the Gentiles and their judgment.
4. The crisis or short period of judgment when the Lord will make “short work... upon the earth”—introducing the age when “the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of Jehovah as the waters cover the sea” (Hab. 2:14 JND).
5. The glory of the kingdom we know as the Millennium.
Prophecy, mainly occupied with earthly events, is silent in the Old Testament as to the mystery revealed to the beloved Apostle Paul Christ and the church. God’s beloved Son, rejected by the Jew and by this world, will have a heavenly bride a church gathered to Him out of Jew and Gentile. His beloved bride will be joint-heir with Him when He assumes openly the headship of all things. Presently He is hidden in the heavens, while the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, is come down (at Pentecost) and indwells the believers individually and the assembly collectively.
Prophecy begins in the mind of God and only in the full display of Himself and the glory perfected and displayed in His beloved Son. It links together two things the counsels of God and their accomplishment in Christ. For this reason it is important to consider all of the prophetic scriptures in regards to the dispensations of God.
General Scope of the Dispensations of God
With regard to this subject we will consider three scriptures: 1. “But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the law” (Gal. 4:4). 2. “In the dispensation of the fullness of times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in Him; in whom also we have obtained an inheritance” (Eph. 1:10-11). 3. “And the angel... sware by Him that liveth forever and ever... that there should be time [delay] no longer: but in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound, the mystery of God should be finished” (Rev. 10:5-7).
These three scriptures present the three great epochs of God’s dealings towards the world. The first of them is past Christ has come into this world. The two others clearly refer to the future yet awaiting their fulfillment.
“The Fullness of the Time”
In order to understand more fully the ways of God to which the expression in Galatians “when the fullness of the time was come” we will begin in Genesis 1 and 2. There we find that God created the man and the woman and bestowed upon them a joint, universal dominion over His creation (Gen. 1:26). In Genesis 3 we find that Satan succeeded in overthrowing man from this universal lordship, and having fallen under Satan’s power, man became estranged from God.
Thus fallen, Adam, hearing the divine promise that the woman’s seed would bruise the head of Satan (Gen. 3:15), passes out of the presence of God and from that state of innocence into which he could never return. God, having placed a barrier to prevent man from gaining access to the tree of life, begins the trial of man in his fallen condition. This trial lasted about 4000 years till “the fullness of the time was come.”
Man on His Own
For the first 1600 years, God left men to themselves (though He always preserved a witness in the world for Himself, such as Enoch) until Noah’s day when the earth was “corrupt before God,... filled with violence” (Gen. 6). God looked upon this condition and said, “The end of all flesh is come before Me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth” (Gen. 6:13).
The Flood
Noah, who had found grace in His sight, and his family are saved through the judgment of the world. He is found then in a cleansed world. In this condition, God places the sword of government in Noah’s hands, saying, “Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made He man” (Gen. 9:6). But Noah soon failed in the responsibility of government, for he, being an husbandman, became drunken and thus morally lost the place God had given him. We will remember that Adam had lordship and Noah had government. Both failed in their responsibilities to God.
The Tower of Babel
The principle of man’s responsibility of governing the world will go on until its judgment by fire. (See 2 Peter 3:6-7.) Men began to worship demons, as we see confirmed in Deuteronomy 32:17 JND and 1 Corinthians 10:20 JND. In such a condition, man’s heart is filled with self-will, showing his independence of God and making himself the center of all his thoughts (the essence of modern-day humanism). Man began to build Babel in order to make a common center of unity: “Let us build us a city and a tower... and let us make us a name” (Gen. 11). God’s judgment on this display of man’s willful pride was to confound his language, preventing him from being able to intelligently interchange his thoughts. This division of languages has ever since proved a hindrance to man’s gaining the common purpose of his heart for world unity.
Abraham—The Nation of Israel—The Law
God called one man—Abraham—out of this condition of idolatry (Gen. 12). In him, God separated a family a nation (Israel) that He might (among other governmental ways) test man on new ground. In the course of time He separated by a typical redemption (Ex. 2-14) this nation from the world (Egypt) to Himself. Having thus separated them, He gave them His law, eventually taking up His dwelling among them between the cherubim on the ark of the covenant (Ex. 19-40).
To man the law represented a test of his responsibility, as a fallen child of Adam, to the authority of God. The nation of Israel, ignorant of the true condition of their hearts, accepted God’s law as a condition of their relationship with Him. But even while Moses the lawgiver went up into Mount Sinai to receive the law, the children of Israel set up a golden calf and worshipped it as their God (Ex. 32). Their actions proved that they had failed under the test of “pure law.”
God then put the tables of the law into the hands of a mediator (Moses) a second time. He added to the conditions of pure law the character of long-suffering mercy, saying, “The Lord, The Lord God merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin” (Ex. 34:6-7).
The Captivity
The history of the nation of Israel, thus set on new ground, gives us the result of this fresh test. This test lasted until the captivity in Babylon. During this time of trial we hear the pleading of the prophets who were striving to bring back the rebellious nation into the observance of the conditions of their relationship with Jehovah and to the keeping of the law, which defined those conditions. But during all this time there was no national response from the people. Finally Israel exhausted the long-suffering and mercy of God, who could no longer allow such dishonor to His holy name. The ten tribes (Israel) were the first to be carried away. In Hosea 1:6 we read, “I will no more have mercy upon the house of Israel; but I will utterly take them away.” Though Judah (the two tribes Judah and Benjamin) were granted a further respite, eventually they too heard the solemn words, “Ye are not My people, and I will not be your God” (Hosea 1:9).
(to be continued)
F. G. Patterson (adapted)

The Dispensations of God: 2 - The Past History of Israel

We will consider now the ways of God as exhibited especially in His government, grace and mercy to the people of Israel. We previously considered the ways of God with man in the days before the flood and afterward in the days of Noah when he began to slip into idolatry, and God in judgment at Babel divided the people for their attempt to make a name for themselves apart from Him. But all this was in the counsels of God and in reference to the nation of Israel, for we read in Deuteronomy 32:89, “When the most High divided to the nations their inheritance, when He separated the sons of Adam, He set the bounds of the people according to the number of the children of Israel. For the Lord’s portion is His people; Jacob is the lot of His inheritance.” The counsels of God were occupied with the children of Jacob.
All the races of man (descended from Noah’s three sons) had become idolaters. Thus God chose one man whom He called to separate himself from his country, associations and family—Abraham. He was to be a witness in the world and against the world for God. God gave him certain promises of temporal and spiritual blessings. Since we are considering Israel, we will pursue only the temporal promises.
In various passages, such as in Genesis 12-15, we find these promises: “Unto thy seed will I give this land.” “Lift up now thine eyes... for all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed forever.” “I am the Lord that brought thee out of Ur of the Chaldees, to give thee this land to inherit it.” “Unto thy seed have I given this land.” “And they shall afflict them... and afterward shall they come out with great substance.”
These promises were entirely unconditional—given by God to Abraham. They are again repeated without condition to Isaac (Gen. 26) and Jacob (Gen. 28). Later, in Exodus 2, these promises are alluded to: “And God heard their groaning, and God remembered His covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. And God looked upon the children of Israel, and God had respect unto them” (Ex. 2:24-25). In Exodus 6:23 God reveals Himself to the people in His covenant name—Jehovah. They had been redeemed, taken out of Egypt (Ex. 12-14) and told of His purpose in doing so: “Unto thee it was showed, that thou mightest know that the Lord [ Jehovah] He is God; there is none else beside Him” (Deut. 4:35). Upon their redemption, God takes up His dwelling among them in the cloud and the glory.
Yet the question remained: Had fallen man any righteousness for God? The people are taken from Egypt through the Red Sea and to Mount Sinai as objects of perfect grace. At Sinai, God proposes certain terms of relationship with them: “Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles’ wings, and brought you unto Myself. Now therefore, if ye will obey My voice indeed, and keep My covenant” (Ex. 19). Sadly, rather than owning that they were incapable of keeping their blessings for even one hour, they say, “All that the Lord hath spoken we will do.” Being ignorant of themselves, they place themselves under law and ere Moses, the lawgiver, had come down from the mount with the covenant, they had corrupted themselves, turning to idolatry (Ex. 32). Thus, all is over for the nation of Israel save for the mediatorial service of Moses. In answer to his prayer, a covenant of long-suffering, patience and mercy is added to the law (Ex. 34).
In Leviticus the terms of approach to God are established through the priesthood. But as soon as it was consecrated, Nadab and Abihu offered strange fire and are destroyed. Numbers records the journey through the wilderness and the revolt of the Levites. In Deuteronomy, when they are about to enter the land, the covenant is renewed and their keeping it as the basis on which they will be able to possess the land. Deuteronomy 27 states the principle of legal righteousness while Deuteronomy 28 states the conditions of their inheritance and blessing in the land.
Thus they enter the land under the leadership of Joshua with the “Lord of all the earth” passing into the land before them. The book of Joshua details their conquests and partial establishment in the land. At the end, Joshua establishes a covenant with the people in which they bind themselves to serve and obey the Lord their God as the condition for retaining their blessing.
All of this clearly establishes an important point: The people never possessed the land or the blessings promised to the fathers (Abraham, Isaac and Jacob) under the unconditional terms given them. They took them under law—they are yet to be accomplished in grace.
Judges shows the results of their efforts to claim the inheritance based on law: “And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord, and served Baalim.” (Please read Judges 2:11-12, 20-22). Their failure is contrasted with the faithfulness of God who, from time to time, raised up judges to deliver them from their enemies.
In 1 Samuel the priesthood—in the family of Eli—fails and Samuel is set up as the first of the prophets (Acts 3:24). The sons of Samuel fail (1 Sam. 8), and the people, rejecting Jehovah, ask a king and receive their choice—Saul the son of Kish.
Upon Saul’s failure, God in faithfulness raises up David, a king of His choice. David’s son Solomon is established on the throne of the kingdom in a wonderful display of glory, prosperity and blessing. (See 1 Samuel 16 and 1 Kings 45.) However, upon Solomon’s failure (1 Kings 11:9-10), the people had failed under prophets, priests and kings.
The kingdom is then divided into two nations, Judah and Israel. The ten tribes of Israel, a tale of evil without a redeeming point, are first carried away into captivity and since that time have never been restored (2 Kings 17).
With Judah, though there were bright spots such as Hezekiah, they, too, in the days of Zedekiah, came under a like judgment. Of the wicked Zedekiah it is written, “And thou, profane wicked prince of Israel, whose day is come, when iniquity shall have an end.... I will overturn, overturn, overturn, it: and it shall be no more, until He come whose right it is; and I will give it Him” (Ezek. 21:25-27).
As soon as Judah was carried into captivity, the “sword” of government was handed over to the Gentiles in the person of Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon. Thus begins the “times of the Gentiles.” Thus too ends, properly speaking, the past history of the nation of Israel. In the language of Hosea, “The children of Israel shall abide many days without a king, and without a prince, and without a sacrifice, and without an image, and without an ephod, and without teraphim” (ch. 3:4). And again, “Call his name Lo-ammi: for ye are not My people, and I will not be your God” (ch. 1:9).
Before considering in more detail “the times of the Gentiles,” we will next consider the return from captivity of a remnant of Judah and Benjamin.
(to be continued)
F. G. Patterson (adapted)

The Dispensations of God: 3 - The History of the Remnant

In closing our brief review of the past history of Israel, we must look at the return from captivity of a remnant part of Judah and Benjamin at the close of Babylonish captivity.
In Jeremiah 25 we find that when they were about to be sent into captivity, they are told by the prophet, “Behold, I will send... Nebuchadrezzar the king of Babylon, my servant, and will bring them against this land, and against the inhabitants thereof... and this whole land shall be a desolation, and an astonishment; and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years.”
In the book of Esther, during this captivity, we see how God secretly watched over His beloved people, without publicly owning them or manifesting Himself to them.
In Daniel 9 we see that as soon as the seventy years had expired and Darius the Mede had taken the kingdom, Daniel understood the prophecy of Jeremiah concerning the captivity. At this time, a remnant of Judah and Benjamin came back, settled in the land, rebuilding the temple (Ezra) and the city (Nehemiah).
The temple in Ezra’s day was an empty temple, however. They had neither the Shekinah (the Glory—the presence of Jehovah) nor the ark nor the Urim and Thummim (the means by which the priest discerned the mind of God). They did not pretend to more than they had, but did what they could in the midst of the ruins of everything around. This was not the promised national restoration, spoken by the prophets, nor was it the inheritance of the land according to the promises to the fathers. Only a remnant of Judah and Benjamin returned under the permissive patronage of the Gentile rulers, to whom they were still subject (Neh. 9:36-37).
The national restoration will yet take place of which God declares, “I will make them one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king to them all: and they shall be no more two nations, neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms any more” (Ezek. 37:22).
This returned remnant remained in the land under their oppressors until the coming of their Messiah and His presentation to them. Only a little band of disciples attached themselves to Him and received Him as the Christ. The mass of people refused Him and chose a murderer (Barabbas) in His stead. He warned them that He had come in His Father’s name and that they would reject Him, and that if another would come in his own name, him they would receive (John 5).
With His own blessed, unwearying love, He pleaded with, yearned over and wept for the people still beloved for their fathers’ sakes, till compelled to say, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!... Ye shall not see Me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord” (Matt. 23:37-39).
The sentence of judicial blindness and hardness of heart, pronounced by the prophet seven hundred years before, but in long-suffering withheld (Isa. 6:9-10), came to pass (Matt. 13; John 12).
The husbandmen (the nation of Israel) “caught him, and cast him out of the vineyard, and slew him.” His love was not turned aside even by this, for the Holy Spirit takes up the voice of Jesus on the cross—“Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” by the mouth of Peter in Acts 3. “And now, brethren, I wot that through ignorance ye did it, as did also your rulers.” If they would repent and be converted, He would return. But they stoned His witness Stephen, sending a message by him after Jesus: “We will not have this man to reign over us.”
This long-suffering patience extended until Acts 28 when Paul pronounced the final carrying out of the sentence: “Hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and not perceive.” (See Acts 28:25-27.)
Not many years after this, the prophecy of Isaiah was fulfilled by the armies of Titus. “The cities be wasted without inhabitant, and the houses without man, and the land be utterly desolate, and the Lord have removed men far away, and there be a great forsaking in the midst of the land” (Isa. 6:11-12).
The great Prophet had come into the midst of His people; to Him they would not hearken. Rejected, He had gone to heaven to be a Priest for those who now believe, and when He comes again as King, He will unite all these glories in His own person, and His kingdom shall have no end!
(to be continued)
F. G. Patterson (adapted)

The Dispensations of God: 4 - Introduction to the Calling of the Church

Having summarized (in the October 1998 Christian Shepherd) the history of the Gentile empires to their conclusion, we mark especially that the fourth empire of iron and clay, which was the Roman empire, will be revived in a coming day (after the church is caught away, out of this world). In this revived imperial form, its leader will be the complete expression of diabolical power. Thus possessed by Satan, it will be instigated in rebellion against God and Christ and so be destroyed.
We will remember that in the past history of Israel we saw that when Christ was presented to the Jews at Jerusalem, He was rejected and received only a little band of disciples. He told them that He had come in His Father’s name and that Him they would not receive. If another came in his own name, they would receive that one.
Now, during the coming time of this crisis of the world’s history, when the Roman empire has been revived, the Jews will have been gathered again into their land. However, the majority of them will be there in a condition of apostasy.
Scripture shows that a false Messiah will present himself to them at that time one who will be received by the mass of the Jews and rejected by the little, faithful remnant. This is just the reverse of what took place when our Lord Himself was there.
The false Messiah is the connecting link between the Gentile powers in a state of apostasy and revolt and the Jews in a similar condition.
Christ was presented to Pilate, who represented the fourth kingdom of iron and clay, and to Caiaphas, the high priest, who spiritually represented the Jewish nation in that day. Both united in crucifying Him, being rejected by the mass of Jews and received by the little band of disciples.
The false Messiah will be received by the mass of Jews in this coming day, and he will be recognized by the imperial head of the restored Roman empire. The hearts of the little remnant of Jews who refuse him will pass through a time of unparalleled tribulation. This tribulation is God’s way of training their hearts for the kingdom which is about to be substituted for that revived empire of the Beast.
This false Messiah is introduced in Daniel 11:36-39. Chapters 10-12 of Daniel are occupied with this subject. The Lord Jesus Himself alludes to the prophecy of Daniel 12 when He is instructing the Jewish remnant in Matthew 24.
He says, “Immediately, after... those days... shall appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven... coming... with power and great glory.” This refers to that coming solemn time of the great tribulation of three and one-half years.
In Daniel 11:36-39 the false Messiah is seen in the eyes of the Jews as “The King.” He does according to his own will, and, exalting himself above every god, he regards not the God of the Jews or the true Messiah. For a time, he speaks against the God of gods and prospers till judgment is accomplished.
In Revelation 13:11 this same person is called “another beast” who comes up “out of the earth” having two horns “like a lamb” (an imitation of Christ) but with a voice like “a dragon.”
In Revelation 16:13-14 we find the three great allies of evil the dragon, the beast and the false prophet through unclean spirits gathering all the kings of the habitable earth to battle in that “great day of the God Almighty.”
In Revelation 19:19-20 Satan’s two great instruments—the beast and the false prophet gather together to make war with the Lamb who is the Lord of lords and King of kings and who is accompanied by His heavenly saints. They are both “cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone.”
But there is yet one link which is wanting in this sad, sorrowful history: How is it that this false Messiah becomes the link between the history of professing Christendom and the Jews at the close of this age and before the ushering in of the blessedness and peace of the millennium?
This brings us to consider the subject of the great Gentile parenthesis, which fills up the space between the time when Israel was the acknowledged earthly people of God and that coming time when they shall be so again.
This subject is the calling of the church. In it is involved the second coming of Christ for His saints, before His manifestation with them to the world in the judgment which we have been partially considering. Also involved in this is the first resurrection. That is the resurrection from among the dead of which Christ was the firstfruits of the saints, “the children of the resurrection.”
This subject is a blessed one, near to the heart of Christ and a secret that was hid in God the eternal purpose which He purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord (Eph. 3:9-11; 5:32).
F. G. Patterson (adapted)
(to be continued)

Divisions: A Timely Word

It is of the deepest importance to see that the basis of Daniel’s supplication is the fact, again and again emphasized in his confession, that it is God Himself who had broken up the people (Dan. 9:7,12,14). Until this fact is faced and owned, without any reserve, there can be no recovery. Once it is faced, we have good ground on which to turn to God and plead for recovering mercy. God is One who can not only break up, but He also can heal. He can scatter and He can gather together.
Refusing to acknowledge that it is God that has broken us up and seeing only the folly that men have wrought, we shut out all hope of recovery for those who desire to be faithful to God. With men before us, we are thinking of those who can break up but have no power to recover, whereas God can break up and God can recover.
Seeing only men as causing divisions has led many sincere people to the false conclusion that, if men cause divisions, men also have the power to remedy them. Hence the efforts that are made to bring the people of God together again are foredoomed to failure and worse than failure, for they only add to the confusion already existing among the people of God.
To bring together is beyond the wisdom of man; it is God’s work. We can destroy, we can scatter, and we can break hearts, but “the Lord doth build up Jerusalem: he gathereth together the outcasts of Israel. He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds” (Psa. 147:23).
J. N. Darby

Earnestly Contending

We are responsible individually and collectively to go by God’s precious Word. Let us be well acquainted with the truth so that we gather according to the Word only to the precious name of the Lord Jesus as members of the body of Christ.
In a day when little things are slipping in, we need to “earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints” (Jude 3). The Apostle was very much concerned in that day of breakdown and ruin that there would be such an exercise. Sometimes we who are older tend to forget that there is constantly a new generation coming up. They see things being done in the assembly and they do not know why.
One time a brother, speaking of a young person who had gone and broken bread at some other place, said to me, “She knew better than that.” I said to the brother, “Perhaps she knew that the brethren disagreed, but I am not sure that she knew why it was wrong, for herself.”
In the Old Testament we find the wall around Jerusalem not built until they had first built the temple. What would separation mean without the temple? It came first that place which spoke of the Lord’s glory and His presence among His people; the wall of separation came after that. Brethren, let us form our standards of what we believe from the Word of God.
G. H. Hayhoe

Editorial: Drawing Near to Jesus

“And Joseph said unto his brethren, I am Joseph.... And his brethren... were troubled at his presence. And Joseph said unto his brethren, Come near to me, I pray you. And they came near” (Gen. 45:3-4).
It is not surprising that Joseph’s brethren were troubled as they stood in his royal presence. Their guilty consciences reminded them of that time years before when, in their wicked jealousy, they had contrived to kill him. Now, as the second ruler in Egypt, he no longer languished in that horrible, dry pit, devoid of any comfort, while the cruel brethren ate bread, indifferent to his sorrow. The despised “slave” was now the ruler.
The brothers realized that the sin they had so carefully tried to cover by the blood of the slain lamb, in which Joseph’s beautiful coat had been dipped, was “naked and opened” to all (Heb. 4:13).
In a later day, the zealous Saul of Tarsus had a similar, yet more glorious revelation from the splendor of heaven, as he heard the words, “I am Jesus.” Immediately the proud, young Pharisee fell trembling on his face in the presence of divine glory. What could Saul so wretched and undone by the guilt of his zealous persecutions of that blessed name expect but swift judgment for his deeds?
Throughout the Word, there are many like examples of undeniable guilt and undeserved grace for example, Mephibosheth, the young Egyptian servant of the Amalekite, and the guilty publican. Each came to a time when they had to confront the hopelessness of their condition. Yet, at these solemn moments, grace and love triumph over judgment.
Saul is told to rise, for he is to serve the One whom he has been persecuting (Acts 9:6). Mephibosheth learns that he will eat continually at the king’s table (2 Sam. 9:7). The Egyptian receives undeserved nourishment and lives (1 Sam. 30:11). The publican goes “down to his house justified” (Luke 18:14), and Joseph’s guilty brothers receive love, forgiveness, freedom and food.
Instead of prison chains or executioner’s sword, they hear a loving invitation: “Come near to me, I pray you.” They finally become the willing recipients of Joseph’s overflowing heart of love an earlier display of the spirit of David weeping with Jonathan, “until David exceeded.” How much more our blessed God has exceeded in His love for us!
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts” (Isa. 55:8-9).
The believer, once “dead in trespasses and sins” and having “no hope, and without God in the world,” has found in the Lord Jesus unconditional, eternal love. The depth of that divine love is seen when He weeps at Lazarus’s grave, while the delight and desire of His heart for His loved ones shines in His prayer to His Father (John 17). The Lord desires that each of His blood-bought own would “draw near... in full assurance of faith,” for He rejoices over each with joy, and “He will rest in His love, He will joy over thee with singing” (Zeph. 3:17).
We are infinitely more blessed than Queen Esther, who in all her glory and beauty still had no personal assurance that she would be welcomed in the king’s presence. All she could say was, I will “go in unto the king... and if I perish, I perish” (Esther 4:16).
Joseph’s brethren receive his tears and kisses. It is just so with the prodigal son, who received the father’s embrace and the father’s kisses. What was their part in such tender displays of love? Their guilt and their drawing “near” to the ones they had offended.
Let us, redeemed saints each one who is part of that which caused Him “the travail of His soul” eagerly rise and open the door at the sound of His tender knock and loving, beseeching voice.
“Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear My voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with Me” (Rev. 3:20).
“With desire I have desired to eat... with you” (Luke 22:15).
“Having loved His own... He loved them unto the end” ( John 13:1).

Editorial: Fully Tested

“And Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost... was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, being forty days tempted of the devil.... And when the devil had ended all the temptation, he departed from Him for a season. And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee” (Luke 4:12,13-14).
I recently sent a 40th-birthday greeting to a dear brother in Christ. After a bit of friendly teasing I mentioned, “So it’s 40 is it? Well, on your birthday you will then have been fully tested as a man in this world—and all you will be able to do is say in agreement with God’s estimation of the flesh: ‘In... my flesh dwelleth no good thing’.”
In replying, the brother said, “Fully tested? I was just thinking this morning about being 40 and feeling not much different than 20. Then it came to me that what we are at 40 is the result of the course we set at 20. We don’t suddenly mature and become what we know we should be if we live our youth doing what we want. Now I’m looking ahead to 60, if the Lord leaves us here, and realizing that we will be at 60 what our course is at 40. That is a very searching thought!”
A very probing thought, indeed! While believers have every reason to expect the immediate return of our blessed Lord Jesus Christ, it is good to consider where the present course we’re taking will end. In Proverbs 14:15 it is the “simple” (one devoid of godly discernment) who believes all he hears, while the “prudent man looketh well to his going.”
The heart is “deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked”; it cannot be trusted! Nor can we believe the world, “for all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world” (1 John 2:16). When the enemy of our soul, Satan, speaks, he “speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own.... He is a liar, and the father of it” (John 8:44).
The “new man” in Christ (Eph. 2:15; 4:24) has the Lord Jesus “the way, the truth, and the life” as his glorious Object. He, ever divine and ever Son from eternity, was “fully tested” as a man in the wilderness (Luke 4:1-13), there showing forth in glorious victory the pure meal of His perfect manhood. Every test He faced only proved that He walked a perfect, unwavering path, always obedient and fully pleasing to His God and Father.
Now He has “given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:3). Thus the only change that the Spirit of God contemplates in the life of a believer is that each should continue to “grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18).

Editorial: Honoring Him

“What shall be done unto the man whom the king delighteth to honor?” (Esther 6:6).
It is ever the delight of the Father to honor His beloved Son. He desires that “all men should honor the Son, even as they honor the Father,” for “he that honoreth not the Son honoreth not the Father which hath sent Him” ( John 5:23). Thus may we with profit direct Ahasuerus’s question to our own hearts: “What shall I do for that blessed Man, Christ Jesus, whom God so delights to honor?”
There are two very different answers to this question—one from the “old man” and one from the “new man” (Eph. 4:22,24). In the enmity and hatred of man’s natural heart, every horrible insult, abuse and ridicule every possible dishonor was heaped upon God’s eternal, well beloved Son. But the joy of the “new man” is to give that blessed Man every honor the redeemed heart is capable of offering. He, infinitely worthy of all honor, has said, “If ye love Me, keep My commandments” ( John 14:15). He has also expressed the loving desire of His heart: remember Me (1 Cor. 11:24). May our hearts individually and collectively respond in love and obedience to give to Him those honors He so richly deserves—honors that He will fully display in a coming day before all creation.

Editorial: Love and Fidelity for Christ

“Lovest thou Me?” ( John 21:15).
“Wherefore wentest not thou with me?” (2 Samuel 19:25).
How these two questions search our hearts!
In John 21, the Lord’s penetrating questions to Peter teach that love for the Lord must come before service to Him. Then, David’s question to Mephibosheth in 2 Samuel 19 pictures the importance of following the Lord before serving Him.
Believers, at times forgetting that “the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak,” may confuse the moral order of love and service for Christ. When this happens, great energy may be spent and grand service performed in Christian undertakings, which in reality are nothing more than the flesh making a display of itself (Gal. 6:12).
The Lord’s evaluation of the condition of the assembly at Ephesus— “thou hast left thy first love”—came soon in their history. Yet in that assembly there was much work, effort and labor being carried on in His name. But the work had become more important to them than their love for Christ. True affection for the Lord grows by walking in fellowship with Him: “Grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18).
While it is true that “love serves” (Gal. 5:13), service cannot be effective if it is not the result of love. Doing does not necessarily prove affection. On the other hand, love does give value to doing, for He has told us that “if ye love Me, keep My commandments” (John 14:15).
The first proof of love for Christ is a true heart desiring to be in His blessed presence. The Apostle John, “leaning on Jesus’ bosom,” was assured of the blessedness of being “one of His disciples, whom Jesus loved” (John 13:23). Mary, sitting at the feet of the Lord Jesus, also found that same sweet love and fellowship that good part which was not to be “taken away from her” (Luke 10:42).
In the Old Testament, we read of those who loved David, King of Israel. Yet when this love for him was tested by his rejection, their fidelity to him failed and they deserted him. Though Jonathan ardently loved David (1 Sam. 18:1), he found it easier to abide in “his house” in “the city” when David was being hunted by Saul. Acceptance of an easy path finally stopped Jonathan’s ability to serve the one he loved. How quickly the desire for a comfortable path in this life can hinder our love and service for the Lord Jesus.
In 1 Samuel 18:16 we read that “all Israel and Judah loved David, because he went out and came in before them.” Later, this same people allowed their hearts to be “stolen” by Absalom, when he tried to overthrow his father. Because their love was based on what David did for them, when Absalom promised to do even more for them, they quickly rejected the rightful king and followed after the one who made these false promises (2 Sam. 15). A love that exists because of what it receives cannot sustain true service for Christ.
In 1 Samuel 18:20, “Michal Saul’s daughter loved David” and she eventually became his wife. As long as he was honored as the mighty warrior who slew Goliath, she was content. But her love, based on the glory that she received, quickly turned to shame and loathing when David had to flee for his life. A desire for personal glory stops love and its resulting service for the Lord.
Mephibosheth also loved David. The great depth of his love is seen in 2 Samuel 19:24. But though his heart was true, he was deceived by his servant Ziba, thus losing the privilege of being with David. Much as he must have longed for David’s company, he could not serve him by staying in Jerusalem.
Is it not often so with us? Jobs, commitments, even recreation things which ought to “serve” us so capture our hearts that, deceived by them, we become unable to wholly follow the Lord in His rejection here. A dear brother often used to remind believers to carefully ponder whether such things were “wings” or “weights.”
Let us allow, then, these two questions, asked of Peter and Mephibosheth, to exercise heart and conscience, that when asked, as Rebekah was, “Wilt thou go with this man?” the answer, in love to our blessed Lord Jesus, will be, “I will go.”

Editorial: Normal Christianity

She is one of the happiest Christians my wife and I have ever known. Yet our sister born years ago to parents who were unable to keep their child has never enjoyed the blessings of full mental faculties that most of us take for granted.
Raised as an orphan by relatives, never married, dependent upon others for her care, at times mistreated by those employed in a government system intended to help her, the victim of some medical and surgical procedures which she was unable to understand or question, she now resides in a nursing care facility, spending most of her day seated in a wheelchair—uncomfortably bowed over due to a severe spinal curvature.
For the present time, her “world” consists of a small room shared with two other elderly ladies. Along with a cloth privacy curtain, her bed, dresser and wheelchair serve as mute borders defining her tiny domain. Normally, the only daily change of scenery she experiences is when she wheels herself to the dining hall where all meals are served.
The nursing center where she lives home to many who are unable to care for themselves is, thankfully, quite clean and well run. Still, the environment is permeated by all the sights, sounds and smells common to such a facility. Certainly, it is not a place that a person in sound mind and body would look forward to living out their life in nor is it an easy place to go to, even for a visit.
Our dear sister’s health needs require that she must daily bear with sometimes impatient, harried nurses staff who on occasion seem as interested in her candy jar as in her comfort. One of her roommates has a television that is often turned on too loud and too long. Her telephone never rings often enough, for she loves to talk to others. Having no earthly family, she eagerly looks forward to visits from her brethren to help pass the lonely hours. Both her hearing and her sight are getting worse, and, at 86, her health problems continue to take their toll.
Yet in the midst of all these adverse circumstances, her daily response to the question, “How are you today?” is, “Very well, thank you. This is the day the Lord hath made, I will be glad and rejoice in it.” The joy radiating from her face gives ample testimony to the heartfelt reality of her utterance.
One of her chief delights is reading her large-print Bible. In an environment where residents’ actions and habits quickly gain unwelcome notoriety among the staff, she has the reputation of being a happy and contented person a commendation which all who bear the name of “Christian” would do well to personally covet.
Every few months, the staff meets individually with its residents and their families, giving them an opportunity to discuss concerns. Our sister’s constant reply to the staff when asked at these meetings how she is getting along is her usual bright and cheery “Very well, thank you.” Her chief concern seems to be that my wife will be sure to bring her a clean dress to wear on the Lord’s Day because it’s the Lord’s Day and just in case she has visitors.
On the morning of a recent meeting, as my wife came to our sister’s room to wheel her to the office, she was greeted by a new sound: Our sister was singing a hymn from the Little Flock Hymn Book.
At that meeting a staff member told my wife, “We have never had anyone as happy and content as she never complaining, always smiling and always cooperative. She is a joy to be around.”
Does the account of our dear sister seem rather surprising or unrealistic? It shouldn’t. She is already tasting the “abundant entrance” spoken about in 2 Peter 1:11. She enjoys, in wonderful simplicity, the “unsearchable riches of Christ” (Eph. 3:8) in a daily and practical way. Her needs are richly supplied from her Father’s unlimited heavenly storehouse (Phil. 4:19). She is a constant, happy recipient of the full, free supply of “all things” from the One who gave His only begotten Son for her (Rom. 8:32).
Indeed, her happiness should not come as a surprise to anyone. After all... she’s simply a living example of normal Christianity.
Note: Our sister loves to receive mail. Any wishing to write may contact the editor for her address.

Editorial: Thankfulness

“And it came to pass, as the camels had done drinking, that the man took a golden earring of half a shekel weight, and two bracelets for her hands of ten shekels weight of gold” (Gen. 24:22).
A dear brother recently asked what might be gleaned for “our learning” (Rom. 15:4) from this verse found in the beautiful story of Rebekah, the bride of Isaac. We feel that there is much practical instruction contained in it instruction particularly suitable for the “perilous times” in which we live—times when “the love of many shall wax cold.”
The servant was observing a normal custom of the people of Ur of the Chaldees when he placed the “earring” (probably a nose jewel) and the two “gold bracelets” on Rebekah. Such gifts were an acceptable expression of thanks for kindnesses or services rendered to another.
But more importantly, this verse shows the value that God places on His children displaying a thankful spirit not only thankfulness to Him for all the grace and blessing He has bestowed (though that is the foundation of it), but a thankful spirit as the normal tenor of life in those called Christians.
All too often, sad to say, believers often forget to say “thank you” to others who have served them in some way. Of course, being thankful does not mean always giving a gift (as the servant gave to Rebekah). A heartfelt “thank you” so pleasing to our Father is the moral equivalent of the earring and bracelets that Rebekah received.
I was quite a young boy when I learned the following poem: There are five little words I’d have you to know; They are “pardon me,” “thank you” and “please.” Oh, use them quite often wherever you go; There are few words more useful than these.
Good advice for all and well worth putting into practice!
We see many examples of thankfulness throughout the Word of God. Elisha gave a wonderful thank-you to the Shunammite (2 Kings 4:11-17). The beloved Apostle Paul thanked those who helped him, had a thankful spirit, and thanked God for all things, while teaching us to do the same (Rom. 16:4; 2 Cor. 1:11; Eph. 5:4; 1 Thess. 5:18).
Another lesson contained in our verse is found in the material of which the gifts given to Rebekah were made: gold (which speaks of purity). There was nothing unseemly in such a gift or in the way it was given. It was an appropriate expression of thanks, both for the giver and the receiver.
The gift was not calculated to gain something from Rebekah. It did not pressure her to compromise her purity or her family honor. The flesh is ever ready to take advantage of every situation even of the way in which a thank-you is expressed. Let us see that “gold” always characterizes our thank-yous.
The servant did not, however, give the gift to her until the “camels had done drinking.” This taught Rebekah a valuable lesson about the God of Abraham one who was loving and generous, but who also valued faithfulness. Thank-yous are an important part of our testimony for the Lord Jesus.
Later, when the servant sought to claim Rebekah as a bride for Isaac, he presented to her “silver... gold... raiment, and... precious things” (vs. 53). When she was serving, her head (earrings) and her hands (bracelets) were involved and rewarded. But when the servant would win her as a bride for his master’s son, he must engage the affections of her heart. These gifts were not given as a reward for service or a bribe to buy her love, for real love can never be bought. (See 2 Samuel 15:6.) It must be won.
These gifts speak of the glorious Person (gold) and work (silver) of the One to whom we are to become united as His beloved bride. Our lives ought to be characterized (raiment) by what is pleasing to Him. Though He has redeemed us with His own precious blood, He does not buy our affection. He, who is worthy of all, seeks to win our love, while He faithfully rewards our service.
As we daily thank Him for all His goodness and ways with us, let us also learn to be thankful to all men. Let’s ask: If saying “thank you” was a crime, would there be enough evidence to convict me?
“And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful” (Col. 3:15).

Editorial: That Legal Brother

“Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again” (Matt. 7:12).
“Who art thou that judgest another man’s servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth” (Rom. 14:4).
I once heard a brother characterized as “the most legal brother I know”! But rather than legal, this very brother has impressed me as having a tender conscience before the Lord and a desire to submit to the Word of God. The Lord alone knows the true motives of each heart, but we ought to be very hesitant about making such characterizations.
Terms such as “legal” or “hard” are often heard being used to describe believers or their spiritual exercises. Though there may be times when this portrayal might prove to be fairly accurate, a subtle danger exists in allowing ourselves the liberty to characterize another believer in this way.
What might be judged as “legality” in a Christian may in reality be the honest desire of that believer’s heart to walk “worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called.” Thus the danger is that there may be a forgetfulness of the most fundamental principle directing the conduct of a believer’s life. We find in 2 Corinthians 5:9 (JND) an eloquently simple and divine motive by which each believer ought to be guided: “Wherefore also we are zealous, whether present or absent, to be agreeable to Him.”
Seeking to please the blessed Lord Jesus is a heart matter, not a head matter. What is done as a result of love for the Lord Jesus may not always seem to be intelligent but the “Lord looketh on the heart.” Surely the Lord will be more pleased with ignorant love than with intelligent condemnation.
We may well ask our hearts if it was a spirit of legality which caused Abram to reject what seemed to be a kind, generous offer of spoils (which by custom of the day were his right to claim) made to him by the King of Sodom, after Abram’s victory.
Was Joseph, who was later sent to seek the welfare of his brethren and to see how they did, displaying a legal, unloving spirit when he brought an “evil report” of them to their father?
Was Moses displaying hardhearted legalism when he pitched the tabernacle outside the camp of the golden-calf-worshipping children of Israel?
Should we characterize Nehemiah’s conduct as legal or faithful when he “chased” the son of Eliashib the high priest from his presence because of the young man’s marriage (Neh. 13:28)?
Do we judge that Daniel was, after all, quite legal and unthankful for refusing to eat the royal bounty that the King of Babylon offered to him?
Examples could be multiplied, but we have a divine and perfect example of this seen in our blessed Lord Jesus when He came into His Father’s house—the temple at Jerusalem (John 2).
No true believer could possibly attach the term legality to the actions of that perfect Man who, overturning the money changers’ tables, driving out the animals marked for sacrifice, and rebuking those who had made His Father’s house one of merchandise, was motivated in His actions by perfect and holy zeal for the honor of His God and Father.
May we tread ever so softly and carefully in any judgments we make of other believers souls redeemed by the precious blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. We indeed ought to enjoy that “liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free,” but let us not use that “liberty for an occasion to the flesh” (Gal. 5:13), allowing it to make harsh judgments and characterizations of our brethren and their ways.
“Walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given Himself for us” (Eph. 5:2).
“Be of the same mind one toward another” (Rom. 12:16).

Editorial: The Power of Warmth

In the grip of August’s hot, humid weather, it is hard to remember the early March blizzard which buried the central U.S. under 14+ inches of heavy, wet snow. Its high winds and below-zero temperatures left many rural roads and city streets impassable. A thick coat of ice underneath the snow made it impossible for snowplows to get roads cleared. The snow, melted into slush by salt and piled in heaps between tire tracks, quickly formed into formidable mounds of frozen, hard-packed ice. To remove these obstructions was a hopeless task. While some hardy souls tried and failed to break up some of the ice with shovels, travel remained treacherous.
Finally one morning—after drivers and pedestrians had spent miserable days sliding and bouncing over these immovable objects—the sun began to shine its bright and warm light on the cold scene. It made no noise and put on no dramatic display of power, but what a difference its warm light made!
On that cold morning people drove to work slowly bouncing and slipping over the hard-frozen piles of ice, dodging around huge potholes and sliding to unsure stops at intersections. Late that same afternoon, they returned home traveling over smooth, wet roads—noticeable for the absence of those frozen obstacles. The quiet warmth of the sun had accomplished in a few hours what men with all their energetic efforts, snowplows, salt and sand had been unable to accomplish in several days.
Too often we find in ourselves or others hearts that have been frozen into hard mounds of ice, due to the wintry effects of this dark, dead world through which we pass. Such coldness produces discouragement within families and assemblies and harms our testimonies to the lost around us.
The words of our Lord Jesus—“By this shall all men know that ye are My disciples, if ye have love one to another” ( John 13:35)—ought to cause us deep exercise of soul, for it is the warmth of divine love (1 Cor. 13) and the display of brotherly love (Heb. 13:1)—not the hammering of “fierce” words (2 Sam. 19:43)—which provide the power to melt the frozen barriers found in our hearts.
The greatest victory ever won over the most difficult obstacle ever known was won at the cross of our blessed Lord Jesus Christ where His divine love—“Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do”—not the mighty power of the “twelve legions of angels,” fully defeated the awful foe and gained eternal satisfaction for God and eternal blessing for us.
“And a great and strong wind rent the mountains... and after the wind an earthquake... and after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the [wind, earthquake and fire]... and after the fire a still small voice” (1 Kings 19:11-12).

Editorial: "They Shall Run, and Not Be Weary"

“And even to your old age I am He; and even to hoar hairs will I carry you:... even I will carry, and will deliver you” (Isa. 46:4).
Some time ago, my wife and I were privileged to enjoy a most wonderful experience. We visited a beloved 92-year-old sister—now with the Lord—who was in a nursing home as a result of a stroke. Walking into her room, we saw her dear husband of over 60 years sitting beside her bed, holding her hand. He told us that he and his beloved wife had prayed many, many times that if it were the Lord’s will, their desire would be to remain together until He comes for His church. The present hope of the Lord’s coming was a very real and comforting truth not just an ecclesiastical theory to these two aged saints of God.
As we stood there, we realized in a new and deeper way the reality of the trials, uncertainties and fears that accompany that time of life referred to by some as the “golden years.” However, the peaceful faces of these two aged pilgrims as they passed through that time of deep trial gave abundant witness that, when walking by faith in the reality of the Lord Jesus’ love and presence, such times are indeed “golden years.” For these two dear ones the trial through which they passed was not able to stifle the comfort of His blessed presence. “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” We observed no evidence of sorrow, unhappiness or fear though surely had it been the Lord’s will to spare them this trial, they would have been thankful. Yet our visit proved to be a time when my wife and I found our hearts being greatly comforted, encouraged and strengthened through this quiet example of the reality of Christian faith.
Our sister’s gentle and peaceful countenance—absolutely devoid of impatience or anger at her condition or at those who were caring for her—was a joy to behold! Not once did we detect any look of discontent on the face of this dear one who had lost partial use of her limbs as well as her ability to speak. Nor did we hear her beloved husband utter one word of questioning of the ways of God in their lives. They both seemed to be confident that the One who had walked with them all their lives was fully sufficient for the trial through which they were presently passing. What a victory of faith!
Before we left, we asked our sister (who could understand what was said to her) if she would like to have us read some verses from the Bible. Her smiling face furnished an eloquent, affirmative answer. The Bible the guide and joy of her life was doing exactly what our blessed God has promised: giving her present peace and comfort. “That we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope” (Rom. 15:4).
What a comfort that visit was to our hearts! We were privileged to witness a living example of the wonderful reality of the presence of the Lord Jesus who has said: “Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world” (Matt. 28:20).
In his closing days, Mr. Darby said, “Christ is my object for life and my joy for eternity,” and at another time, “I can say, though in great feebleness, I have lived for Christ. In life it has been Christ. There is not a cloud between me and the Father.”
This, we believe is the secret of that peace and confidence those experience who pass through such trials in the evening of their lives. Christ is everything to them, and faith claims and enjoys His blessed promise in such times of affliction and weakness: “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint” (Isa. 40:31).
What a heritage of faith our beloved elderly brethren leave us as we see them face trials and difficulties with such joy, peace and confidence. Let us not only earnestly pray for these dear aged saints let us heartily thank God for their testimony to us and seek grace to be followers of their faith!

Editorial: Two Keys to Blessing

“The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here. The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: for she came from the uttermost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and, behold, a greater than Solomon is here” (Matt. 12:41-42).
What was it that saved the people of Nineveh? They acted in faith upon the prophet Jonah’s warning and repented. What was it that brought blessing and joy to the heart of the Queen of Sheba? She submitted to one Solomon whose glory was far greater than her own. These two things repentance and submission are very important keys to happiness in a Christian’s life.
The Lord Jesus, speaking of Himself to the Jews, said, “A greater than Jonas... a greater than Solomon is here.” He, infinitely greater in Person, glory, power and love, was ready to bring the promised time of rich blessing to the suffering nation of Israel. But two things were standing in the way of the promised blessings made to the fathers. The Jews would not repent of their rebellion against Jehovah and His rightful claims over them, and they would not submit their haughty hearts—hearts which desperately sought for earthly glory to the glory (seen by faith) of the Messiah who stood in their midst.
The Lord graciously uttered those probing words that their conscience might be exercised. Though the inhabitants of Nineveh and the Queen of Sheba were despised Gentiles, their repentant and submissive spirits qualified them for the rich blessings they received.
We also see many bright examples of these two principles in the New Testament. The despised publican repented before God, owning what he was a sinner and went home eternally blessed (Luke 18:914). The despised Gentile mother whose daughter was grievously possessed with a demon received the desire of her heart when she humbled herself in the presence of His glory (Matt. 15:21-28).
In Psalm 51:17 David says, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, Thou wilt not despise.”
Today, believers can also enjoy individually, in families and in assemblies the same rich fruits of blessing by walking in a spirit of repentance and submission. Surely God delights in blessing His children who walk in this obedient spirit!
“Prove Me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it” (Mal. 3:10).

Editorial: "Who Is My Neighbor?"

How much may be learned from our blessed Lord Jesus’ answer to the question asked by the unbelieving lawyer: “Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” He thought to trip up the eternal Son of God there sitting (with His Godhead glory veiled) in his very presence. The lawyer seemed quite satisfied that his knowledge of the law and his intellectual grasp of God’s Word had earned him eternal life. In unbelief he dares to tempt the very Law Giver who stood in his presence!
In moral perfection, the Lord Jesus turns the question back on the lawyer: “What is written in the law? how readest thou?”
He recites the words of the law flawlessly and in doing so realizes those very words condemned him. The lawyer well knew his heart had not kept the law perfectly. Here surely is the two-edged sword of the Word of God piercing to the dividing asunder of the soul and spirit.
Sadly, rather than owning his sin, the poor lawyer seeks to justify his failure in keeping the law he knew so well, by asking the Lord Jesus a question he thought impossible to answer: “And who is my neighbor?” But we learn from the divine answer given to the question that a neighbor has two important characteristics: nearness and need.
The wounded man lying half-dead in the ditch—unresponsive, bleeding and dirty was not a convenient object of affection for the lawyer, the priest or the Levite. But he possessed the two characteristics that qualified him as their neighbor he was near them and he had great need of their help. However, in order to reach out to him, they would have to love him as they did themselves.
In the day in which we live, when the love of many shall grow cold (Matt. 24:12), Christians need to have very tender hearts concerning those who are truly neighbors saved or unsaved having needs that in love for Christ ought to be met. We also should remind our hearts that material things, though not excluded, are often the least pressing of those needs that exist among our neighbors.
In Exodus 12:4 an abundance of the passover lamb in one home was to be shared with a neighbor. Do we, dear brethren, so enjoy Christ in our homes that there is an overflowing abundance of the heavenly Lamb to share with those nearby whom we know to be spiritually hungry?
In Zechariah 8:16, there is vital instruction for dealing in love with a neighbor: “Speak ye every man the truth to his neighbor.” This is especially vital in our dealings with one another as brethren. In Ephesians 4:25 this is repeated with the body of Christ in view: “Wherefore... speak every man truth with his neighbor: for we are members one of another.”
How important that a believer speak the truth in love to one who is a neighbor in the family of God! There will be times when the truth of God may not be couched in easy and comforting words “faithful are the wounds of a friend” (Prov. 27:6) but divine truth ought always to be spoken in love.
May God grant our hearts to be exercised afresh to consider those who are near and have need in order that “every one of us” might seek to “please his neighbor for his good to edification” (Rom. 15:2).

Educating Our Children

The world in which we live is caught up in a rapidly increasing cycle of change changes which affect every facet of our lives. Not the least of these is gaining the necessary skills to enable a person to find suitable employment in such a world.
One of the challenges facing Christian parents is determining the appropriate means of educating their children. While believers ought to be expecting the immediate return of the Lord Jesus, should we be left here a little longer, children will need to possess suitable work skills in order to live as “they that use the world” though “not disposing of it as their own” (1 Cor. 7:31 JND).
When Joseph took his father to Egypt, where Pharaoh had promised to freely provide them with the “good of the land” (Gen. 45:18), he still wanted to know what kind of work (Gen. 47:3) they were occupied with. Hearing that they were “shepherds,” he told Joseph that “if thou knowest any men of activity among them, then make them rulers over my cattle” (Gen. 47:6). The Word of God instructs believers to “provide things honest” (Rom. 12:17; 2 Cor. 8:21). Thus the question is not whether children should be educated, but rather how.
Let us thank God for sound educational curricula, excellent equipment and comfortable facilities which exist in many public school systems. An even greater cause of thanksgiving ought to be for those dedicated, public-school instructors—especially Christians—who spend their lives, often in very trying and thankless circumstances, teaching children.
In spite of the vast sum of money and effort spent annually on public education in Western lands, there remain serious, growing problems in public schools—especially in the moral sphere.
In the early 70s when my wife and I were faced with sending our sons to school, we had no alternative choices. We had concerns about the denominational aspects of Christian schools, and, as far as we were aware, at that time in the state of Iowa, home schooling was not an acceptable alternative.
Thus it was a great comfort to find that the principal of our sons’ grade school was an earnest Christian—a brother in Christ who understood why we, at times, expressed concerns about what our sons were being exposed to in their classrooms.
Today Christian parents may not always find such a satisfactory experience with public education. In the 60s and early 70s the seeds of humanism, hedonism, feminism and acceptance of immorality as normal and desirable were actively and subtly being planted in public schools. This same time period also saw the end of all official public school sanction for any activity that was based on “Christian tradition.”
The Bible, outwardly recognized at least at one time as containing true, moral guidance for man, is now officially rejected in all public school classrooms under the guise of “freedom of religion and worship.” These harmful changes have been very subtle, for Satan has worked very effectively in corrupting public education by using the principle of the “little foxes” that “spoil” rather than the “roaring lion” who destroys. Biblical Values Have Been Abandoned Public education often views moral values, issues of right and wrong as they are found in the Bible, as judgmental concepts unacceptable to society.
Individual rights and tolerance are two of the false gods of Western civilization. Children learn to become “tolerant” of corrupt lifestyles, wicked philosophies and idolatrous cultural practices.
Such sad conditions might easily discourage Christian parents, for Satan is today, as his servant Pharaoh was in another day, seeking every means at his disposal to destroy children. The times are dark and the battle is fierce. But what comfort for Christian parents is found in 2 Kings 6:16-17: “Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them.... And... the young man... saw... the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about”!
Elisha’s servant, seeing the enemy, had cried out, “Alas, my master! how shall we do?” Christian parents may ask the same question, in principle, as they face the issue of educating their children.
The Responsibility of Educational Choices
Parents do have choices of alternative means of education available today. While this is a great mercy of God, making such a decision is very serious, for it will have far-reaching consequences for children. “Train up a child in the way he should go” is usually applied (and rightly so) to spiritual training. But the principle is also important for all training. We would earnestly beseech parents to soberly and prayerfully seek the Lord’s mind as to how their children will be educated.
May God grant that those who have school age children share a kindred spirit with dear Amram and Jochebed who, seeing their child Moses as beautiful to God, “were not afraid of the king’s commandment,” but by faith, protecting and nurturing him in the ark and in their home, raised him for God’s glory and service and the blessing of His people.
Lord willing, in future issues, we will consider some principles in the Bible which pertain to three types of education that are commonly available today: “public schooling,” “home schooling” and “private schooling.” It is not the intention of these articles to suggest that one method is better than another—only that parents might have some principles from the Word of God which, Lord willing, will be of help in considering this subject.

Education: Home Schooling

Home Schooling as a Biblical Principle
Home schooling, as a principle of education for children, is frequently found in the Word of God. The children of the patriarchs (and many other Old and New Testament saints) did not go to public schools but learned in their homes and from their parents those skills necessary for living in their world.
In Genesis 14, Abram fought and won a battle to deliver his captive nephew Lot, using “trained servants” that were “born in his house.”
Ishmael had to learn to survive in the wilderness, after he and his mother were cast out by Abraham (Gen. 21:14-21). That was not a place where crops or cattle could thrive, and so Ishmael learned to be an “archer” in order that he could survive by means of his hunting skills.
In 1 Chronicles 25:57 we have another example of home schooling. Heman, a Levite, was one who had been appointed to the service of music during the days of David. We read that God “gave to Heman fourteen sons and three daughters. All these were under the hands of their father for song in the house of the Lord, with cymbals, psalteries, and harps, for the service of the house of God, according to the king’s order to Asaph, Jeduthun, and Heman. So the number of them, with their brethren that were instructed in the songs of the Lord.”
As these children learned to play musical instruments in their father’s house, Heman no doubt would remind them of the privilege, responsibility and joy of praising Jehovah and serving the children of Israel through their music.
In Matthew 4:21 we have yet another example of home schooling where James and John worked as fishermen with their father, Zebedee. They learned this trade in their father’s house as they grew and until called by the Lord Jesus to a far higher work that was their occupation as men.
Though home schooling today is different in its scope, the fundamental principle of parents teaching children “necessary things” within the sphere of the home is the same as it was in Biblical times.
Examples of home schooling need not be multiplied. But we would impress upon parents the seriousness of making this decision and the solemn responsibilities connected with such a decision.
Home Schooling Is Hard Work
Home schooling requires a tremendous amount of energy, planning and work on the part of parents if it is to benefit children. Any effort less than this is not worthy of Christians, for “whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord” (Col. 3:23).
Beloved parents, God has “loaned” you those precious children, and He desires that you oversee their education as “wise stewards.” In home schooling, parents (not the public school system) accept the responsibility of educating their children and in a way which is pleasing to the Lord.
We read in Proverbs 18:9, “He also that is slothful in his work is brother to him that is a great waster.” What a sad waste of children’s abilities and talents home schooling becomes, if parents are slothful in the part they must play in this undertaking. Without intensive parental involvement and oversight, home-schooled children, left without direction, guidance or structure for their studies, run the danger of becoming slothful and unsettled in their habits of life. “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Prov. 22:6).
Romans 12:11 teaches that believers are not to be “slothful in business,” but “fervent in spirit; serving the Lord.” Is not the “business” of our children’s education a most important one?
Finally, parents who home school their children are truly “serving the Lord,” as much as missionaries preaching the gospel in foreign lands. May they faithfully fulfill this critical service!
Home Schooling Needs Careful Planning
Success in any area of our lives doesn’t result from careless planning. “The prudent man looketh well to his going” (Prov. 14:15). “For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it?” (Luke 14:28). “Let all things be done decently and in order” (1 Cor. 14:40).
May beloved parents seek grace from the Lord to be very diligent in planning a learning experience and educational curriculum that will be of real value for their children.
Home Schooling Should Be Orderly
“God is not the author of confusion” (1 Cor. 14:33). How important that children who are schooled at home receive their education in an orderly manner and in an orderly environment! In the more than thirty years that I have been involved in various levels of public education, I have found that the single greatest failing of this vast system has been the loss of firm, fair discipline and allowance of a spirit of irresponsibility and disorder.
In both Mark 6 and Luke 9, where we have accounts of the Lord’s feeding the multitude, He commands them to make the people sit down on the grass in an orderly arrangement, before they were fed.
As to the actual methods of instruction, there is a beautiful principle found in Isaiah 28:10: “For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little.” May God grant parents who decide to home school their children purpose of heart to undertake this task faithfully as before the Lord.
Note: Those who may be interested in home schooling curricula or other information are welcome to contact the editor by email or U.S. mail to receive a list of home schooling resources.

Education: Private Schools

The concept of private schooling is mentioned in various ways in the Word of God. Generallyexcept for those such as Moses and Daniel—these examples usually refer to spiritual rather than secular kinds of education.
Samuel was presented (“lent”) to Jehovah by his mother Hannah, taken into the temple as a child, and there Eli the priest became his “tutor.” The Apostle Paul was “brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, and taught according to the perfect manner of the law of the fathers” (Acts 22:3). The principle of “private schooling” is used as a metaphor by the Apostle when addressing the Galatian believers. He speaks of a “schoolmaster” to illustrate how the law was used to teach men that liberty could not come by the law. It came by faith in Christ rather than by works. (See Gal. 3:24-25.) Both Moses and Daniel were sent (though unwillingly) to private, secular schools in Pharaoh’s and Nebuchadnezzar’s courts.
Because of the godless, immoral environments which exist in many public schools today, Christian parents may have to consider private schooling as an alternative means of education. However, here we repeat what has been mentioned in previous articles: It is vital that parents seek the Lord’s perfect will and wisdom in deciding how their children will be educated.
Some Historical Notes Until the early and middle 1800s, formal education was generally private in nature, a privilege reserved for those who could afford it or whose social position required formal education.
During the 1800s in England, a spiritual exercise developed among some who sought means to educate poor children, unable to afford formal education. Thus was begun what we commonly know as Sunday school. The education given in these early Sunday schools was often the only means by which children were able to learn to read or to hear the precious Word of God.
At the same time brethren were compelled to confront, in light of Scripture, the various systems of education which were being developed both public and private. In 1834, Mr. Darby made this statement to the Irish board of education concerning trends in public schooling: “Shall we as Christians [give in to] such a deliberate exclusion of the Word of God from the [educational system] designed for the instruction of children?” He was opposing proposed changes to the Christian content of the public school curriculum—changes suggested in order to appease leaders of the Roman Catholic clergy.
Another, Mr. Mackintosh, strongly opposed allowing unbelieving public school teachers or private tutors to educate the children of Christian parents. And both he and Mr. E. Dennett also warned Christian parents who were of wealthier means about the dangers of allowing unbelieving governors, governesses or other domestic servants to have contact with their children. It seems evident that many believers of this time were exercised concerning the kind of education and educators their children had and felt that separation from ungodly educational influences was important.
Today, such separation may be more difficult to achieve especially in view of mandatory educational laws. Thus home schooling or private schooling have become the chief methods that believers who choose to separate their children from the influences of public school can use.
Types of Private Schools There are many different types of private schools, ranging from elite, secular academies and military boarding schools to private, parochial schools run by specific church denominations. In between these exist many “flavors” of private schools.
It is critical that parents take time to clearly understand the mission statement and educational objectives of any private school to which they are considering sending their children.
The Issue of Separation
Separation from a climate of immorality and ungodliness causes Christians to consider private schooling. However, we would caution parents that Christian private schools are not infrequently used as a last resort by parents whose children have had serious discipline, moral or substance abuse problems in public schools. Thus the very influences that parents seek to separate their children from are brought into their classrooms in private schools. Parents must assure themselves that the private school they plan to use is not morally like the city in Proverbs 25:28: “Broken down, and without walls.”
Another concern is whether a Christian school is funded and operated by a religious denomination. In such cases, the educational curriculum is often slanted towards certain sectarian doctrines which are not according to the Word of God. Second Timothy 2:20-21 gives believers instructions about separating from that which dishonors Christ in professing Christianity. A climate where doctrinal error thrives can be just as damaging to our children as one where worldliness and ungodliness thrive.
The Issue of Parental Involvement
There are, no doubt, many excellent private, non-denominational schools that are founded on and guided by biblical principles regarding morals and discipline. Such institutions allow and encourage reading the Word of God and prayer in an environment of godly reverence. This is a mercy of God.
But still it is important that in these schools, as in public schools, parents actively involve themselves with the education of their children taking part as classroom volunteers, knowing what their children are being taught, and developing a close working relationship with teachers and administrators. How important that parents—like the shepherds of Luke 2—keep “watch over their flock by night”!
The Issue of Finances
The cost of private schooling, where a suitable institution is available, normally is quite expensive. We would caution parents to carefully count all the costs spiritual and financial before committing to such training. Assuming a large debt load that causes strife, tension and unhappiness in the home is too great a price to pay for private schooling.
We do believe, however, that private schools are appropriate alternatives for those who have the financial means and feel that they have the Lord’s mind in taking such a step.
In Summary
In 1834 Mr. Darby closed his talk (referred to earlier) by saying, “I trust, therefore, that those who have the means will support an institution whose great object is to communicate that instruction which is based on the unmutilated Word of God. This is the day of decision.” We trust that Christian parents will seek the Lord’s mind in making such serious decisions for their dear children.
Note: For further information, contact the editor.

Education: Public Schools

Parental Responsibility
Mandatory public education common in most lands of the Western world seems to afford little choice to Christian parents who have concerns about the system of public schools. However, there are still many decisions which parents will be responsible to make for their children in the fear of the Lord.
God tells parents to “train up a child in the way he should go.” It was about a parent that Jehovah said, “I know... that he [Abraham] will command his children and his household after him.” “Thou... and thy house” is spoken to a parent. And while “Whosoever shall offend one of these little ones” is a solemn warning to all regarding the treatment of children, it is fathers who are commanded to bring up their children “in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.”
In Ezra 8:21 the people of God, about to embark on a long and dangerous journey, came together to “seek of Him a right way for us, and for our little ones.” What a vitally important attitude for those whose children attend public schools!
Parental Diligence
While there are many good things to be found in public education, its primary goals in training children go far beyond teaching them to be “quiet... do [their] own business... work with [their] own hands... that [they] may walk honestly” (1 Thess. 4:11-12).
The chief object of this vast system is the advancement and development of man and his world. And it seeks to gain these objects apart from any thought of responsibility or reference to God.
At one time, the focus of public education was to teach basic skills—n ow it teaches life skills. These are moral concepts intended to provide students with those abilities necessary to “successful living” in the “city” which Cain created (Gen. 4:16-22). Thus, children need to be diligently taught right moral principles in the home before they learn the world’s morals in school.
Another important principle for fathers and mothers is found in Proverbs 27:23: “Be thou diligent to know the state of thy flocks.” Seek to know what your children are learning and hearing at school!
A special word to dear fathers: Take time to listen carefully to what your children tell you about their school activities. Elisha (2 Kings 4:40) listened to those who cried the warning, “There is death in the pot,” and he was able then to neutralize the poisonous gourds with “meal” (Christ). How important that fathers daily add the divine “meal” to that “pot of experiences” which contains the wild gourds of moral poison that their children have unwittingly collected at school.
Parental Preparation
Moses’ story provides parents with important principles for preparing their children for the world they will come in contact with in public schools. They will spend 30-35 hours every week in this world, and parents cannot afford to waste one precious minute in preparing them for that time. See how Moses’ mother spent the short time she had with her infant son, before he was taken to Pharaoh’s court:
1. She hid him from the evil influences of the world. There are many activities available in public schools which are not vital to a child’s education. Seek discernment from the Lord to know when to hide your children from such things.
2. She prepared that which protected him when he was exposed to the world. Be diligent in preparing an ark of protection Christ for your children. Because of its separating influence, true Christianity will be unattractive to the world (covered with “slime and pitch”). But it will also be impervious to its harmful influences (the river).
3. She set a watch (Moses’ sister) over her child at all times. Be observant. Visit your child’s classroom and become familiar with its environment. Get to know the teachers. Volunteer, if possible, when the service of a “teacher’s aide” or “classroom parent” are requested by your child’s teacher.
4. When given the opportunity, she personally nursed the child. (See Exodus 2:29.) Fathers and mothers, spend time, during the years of your children’s schooling, talking to and doing things with them in a nursing spirit of parental love and friendship. Do not let your children think that their teachers are more understanding, concerned or loving to them than you, their parents.
In Acts 7:20, we also learn that Moses was “nourished up in his father’s house three months.” It is a father’s privilege and responsibility to provide a home which is better than anything his children will experience in public schools. How vital that the fruit of the Spirit listed in Galatians 5:22-23 is practically displayed in such a home!
The result of this preparation was that when the time of testing came, Moses chose “rather to suffer affliction with the people of God.” May this be the goal and happy result for each child brought up in a Christian home who is educated in public schools.
Parental Prayer
The story of Daniel provides real comfort for Christian parents whose children attend public schools. Though we know virtually nothing about them, we may say it was surely not the desire of Daniel’s parents to have their son carried away into a heathen environment, there to be taught all of the wisdom and ways of that godless world. What could they do? They could do what all believers of all ages can do: pray to the “God of all comfort.”
Six words in Daniel 1:8 reveal the value and effect of their prayers: “But Daniel purposed in his heart.” We can hardly think of more adverse circumstances than Daniel was subjected to in Babylon as a young boy there to be fed the “king’s meat” and “wine” in order that he might be filled with “the learning and the tongue of the Chaldeans.”
Yet when the testing time came, Daniel a prisoner in Babylon and separated from all godly influence and help said “no” to the defilement that was offered to him. Eternity will reveal how much of this wonderful purpose of heart was due to the prayers of his parents.
In His prayer to the Father, our blessed Lord Jesus uttered these precious words which can be of great comfort to parents whose children attend public schools: “I pray not that Thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that Thou shouldest keep them from the evil” ( John 17:15).
Finally, we would be reminded that as our children go through this life (should the Lord leave us here yet a little while), they will often face adverse circumstances. They will have to learn how to interact and deal with the ungodly especially those who work to provide a living. First Corinthians 5:10 teaches that believers cannot expect to live in total separation from those who are ungodly, “for then must ye needs go out of the world.”
Then too, while parents should be careful not to push their children beyond their capability in telling others about the Lord Jesus, the lives of Christian children can be a wonderful testimony for blessing to those with whom they come in contact in public-school classrooms.
Our loving God and Father has infinite resources of wisdom and strength, all that is needed to preserve our children in this “present evil world”—whether at school, work or home. Only let Christian parents take very seriously this issue that the choice they make for educating their children be made in the fear of God.
Note: Some Christian parents are educating their children through a quasi-public school system called “charter schools.” Any who are interested in learning more about this system are welcome to contact the editor for more information.

The Eternal Sonship of Our Lord Jesus Christ

The doctrine of the eternal sonship of our Lord Jesus Christ is vital. To hold or teach error concerning this divine truth is most solemn. We beseech our readers to carefully consider the following letter written by our late brother Walter Potter. It is simple and clear in its presentation of the fundamental truth of the personal glory of our blessed Lord Jesus Christ.
Mr. Darby once wrote: “I hold it vital to hold the sonship before the worlds. It is the truth.”
We would recommend a careful reading of “The Son of God” by J. G. Bellett, as also being most helpful in presenting the glorious truth of His eternal sonship and Godhead glory.
Dear brother, If the eternal sonship of the Lord Jesus be denied and He only was Son in time, then God had no eternal Son to give and to send into the world as the measure and expression of His love to us.
To deny eternal sonship is to say that He was not in relationship as Son until He was born into this world. It is not His deity which is in question, but His relationship in it namely, His being everlastingly the “only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father.” As eternal Son, He was the supreme Object of the Father’s love. According to this doctrine which denies His eternal sonship, the Father had no “only begotten Son” to give and send into this world, if He was not Son until born of a woman.
We read of beholding His glory, as that of an only begotten of the Father, and of His being the only begotten Son which is in the bosom of the Father, declaring Him (the Father) and that God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son. Is this the Son in time and manhood only?
The love of God toward us and the measure of it is seen in His sending His only begotten Son to us and for us. It was this only begotten One He gave. This, may we not say, is the glory of the gospel of His grace.
I am aware that some have a difficulty as to the word “begotten” in connection with the eternal sonship of the Lord. There is, of course, no thought of beginning, as used of the Lord, as the only begotten. It is the expression of what He is to the Father’s heart, as the Son of His love His only begotten Son in the bosom of the Father. I think this is more clearly seen when translated “an only begotten.”
It is said of Abraham that he offered up his “only begotten son.” Yet Ishmael was as much begotten of him as was Isaac, but Isaac was the son of his love. It is also said, “Thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest.” This is why the Lord Jesus is spoken of and speaks of Himself as “the only begotten Son... in the bosom of the Father.”
It is what He is, and ever was, as the object of God’s love. In Luke 20:13 we read, “I will send My beloved Son.” How could He do this if He had no beloved Son to send? Again and again we read of God sending His Son. How could He do this, if He had no beloved Son, we ask again?
“Neither came I of Myself, but He sent Me.” Is this limited to His incarnation and sonship in time and manhood? Is the Son of John 5 limited in this way, and to this? Is God sending His Son and sparing not His own Son (Rom. 8), His sonship in time only?
It is not a question of His being Son in time: we know He certainly is this. “Thou art My Son, this day have I begotten Thee.” This refers to time His being born of a woman. “That holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God” tells us this. We read of the “book of the generation of Jesus Christ.” As the only begotten Son in the bosom of the Father, there could be no generation. This place of the “only begotten” is His relative place in the eternal Godhead Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
This I take to be the relative places of the Deity, and there He has this place of eternal and beloved Son. Give Him not this place, and we have lost Him as the eternal Son of God, and in our thoughts and faith have taken from the Father the eternal object of His love and delight, and, as such, the object of that bosom we have lost.
And from the Son we have taken the joy of being that object, and He is such no longer to our souls. We no longer think of and adore Him as ever the Son in the bosom of the Father.
“I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world: again, I leave the world, and go to the Father.” Is this sonship in time only? “Father... glorify Thy Son, that Thy Son also may glorify Thee.” Is this too only sonship in time?
In the gospel of John is it not His sonship in deity and manhood? In Colossians 1, is it not as the Son of the Father’s love by whom and for whom all things were created? So also Hebrews 1.
May we have grace to “earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.”
W. Potter

Extract: Difficulties

“We cannot be in a difficulty that Christ is not sufficient for, nor on a dark road where we cannot find Him enough. We may pass through straits and difficult places, but He is not less faithful; only let us look to Him. He is there, even when He seems to forsake us, in order to put faith to the proof and to make us known to ourselves. There is a God above all adverse circumstances and undesirable influences, and our path for power is letting ‘patience have her perfect work.’ May we trust Him. He has power to work when we least expect it.”
From a personal letter

Extract From a Letter

Various other things combine to seek to demoralize the believer, and I believe that this is Satan’s aim today. As I travel around I see those who have health problems, those who are almost unable to rise above family problems, those who have employment problems, assembly problems and the list goes on. But I was much struck and encouraged recently in noting that in 2 Chronicles 35 King Josiah (a godly king in a day of ruin) gave 30,000 lambs out of his own substance so that the people could keep the passover. When others who should have provided their own lambs failed to do so, he provided from his own stock for them. And the resultant passover was such as had not been seen since the days of Samuel! May we have grace from the Lord to receive all from Him and to freely give to those who perhaps do not have the energy or spirituality in themselves to provide.
From a recent letter

Extract: The Last Days

There is a temptation in these times of confusion to consider all [as to the assembly] as hopeless and gone. Then there is the further temptation to say, “Why endlessly and needlessly try to differentiate between ecclesiastical truth and error any longer? The confusion and weakness is too great.”
The last days of the Lord’s life here on earth were, morally, very much like our present day. The blessed Lord walked in the midst of that confusion, though He was not of it, even as He was in the world but not of it. He held His perfect, even, narrow and undistracted way and to God’s glory, through it all. May we be given grace to do so too.
His disciples seemed to be the last to grasp things. Mary seemed far more to enter into His feelings and heart. Oh for such a heart!
From a personal letter

Extract: The Psalms

The Psalms bring in the idea of experience with our Lord. The soul has had to do with Him. There are depth, gravity and dignity—features which can be observed by others.
What choice expressions of soul-appreciation we get. “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against Thee.” “Open Thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of Thy law.” “Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity.”
The Psalms have to do especially with what is moral—showing that all the experiences of life, if gone through with the Lord, would result in moral conformance to Himself and an intense love for the things He loves.
From a personal letter

Extract: Unheeded Warning

The Titanic was warned about the dangers of icebergs. But her builders had mockingly said, “God Himself could not sink the ship.” The warning was not heeded. Who are you listening to—the words of man or the Word of God? “How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation?” (Heb. 2:3).
E. S. Allen (adapted)

A Farmer's View of Revelation 23 and Mark 4:26-29

Ephesus “first love” for the Lord Jesus Christ has been left. Despite all the blessings that were enjoyed by the early church, the time came when the Lord, looking for “fruit to perfection,” found that the very stimulation of life force was missing; first love was gone. As the divine husbandman, He must then go about to secure fruit for His pleasure according to His own purposes of grace.
Smyrna, through great persecution and tribulation, presents a time when He “plows” the ground. After this comes Pergamos when He casts the seed on the earth (Mark 4:26). The “good seed” of the gospel Christianity was spread far and wide in the days of Constantine and others.
The result of sowing the seed is the “blade” (Mark 4:28) seen next in the Lord’s mention of a company in Thyatira called “the rest in Thyatira.” A farmer enjoys watching the fresh, verdant little blades popping out of the ground, giving a wonderful expression of life. How precious to the heart of the Lord must have been the devotedness of companies of believers such as the Huguenots, Waldensians and others as they suffered the wintry blasts of persecution from the church in Rome. These dear brethren did not know much truth, but in love they clung with all their hearts to that which they did know.
Then came Sardis the spring that joyful time of the reformation when God sovereignly raised up vessels who, through the reading of the Scriptures, saw once again the wonderful truths of grace without works truths that had been lost during the dark ages of the church’s history. Apparently some of the reformers even saw the truth of the “one body” but didn’t know how it could be expressed practically. In fact, it seems that between all of them (the reformers), not a single truth of Scripture was missed with the exception of the rapture!
This is the “ear” of Mark 4:28 that time when each kernel of wheat, though undeveloped, has formed. The Lord speaks of a company in Sardis who “have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with Me in white: for they are worthy.”
“The full corn in the ear” is seen in Philadelphia—the assembly which needed no word of correction from the Lord Jesus. The kernels were fully developed, for truth was not only seen from Scripture, but godly souls sought grace to carry it out in the fear of God. “Thou... hast kept My word.”
Although, at this stage, the grain is fully developed and will not grow any more, it cannot yet be harvested, for it is still green. Thus Mark 4:29 says, “But when the fruit is ripe [margin], immediately he putteth in the sickle, because the harvest is come.” Here we see the last days of the assembly on earth the days of Laodicea.
In Philadelphia the latter rain has already fallen, and now in Laodicea a period marked by dryness and intense heat begins. Thus this ripening process prepares the grain for harvest. The Lord spoke to a company in Laodicea: “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten.” Hence the assembly today experiences the intense heat of sore trials difficulties in which we all have had our part. Yet what comfort and encouragement to realize that the Lord in perfect love and wisdom uses such things to ripen the “fruit” (in the measure that we “are exercised thereby”) for which He as the husbandman with “long patience” is awaiting.
He has assured believers that “He which hath begun a good work in you, will finish it [margin] until the day of Jesus Christ” (Phil. 1:6). The present day is not so much characterized by famine or drought as it is by that time when we see that God’s “purposes will ripen fast” (Little Flock Hymn Book #44 appendix). And then how blessed! “Immediately” (He’ll not wait a moment longer!) “he putteth in the sickle, because the harvest is come” (Mark 4:29). Then the shout of victory and we shall see Him face to face (1 Thess. 4:13-18)!
R. Klassen, Jr.

"Feed My Lambs": A Special Boy and a Special Dog

Ted was a lively boy with a broad, quick smile and a happy attitude, which won him many friends. When he was about nine years old, his dad’s employer transferred him, and Ted’s family had to move to a new home. Though he tried not to let anyone know it, Ted felt sad and lonely after the move.
One day soon after the move, Ted’s grandma took him shopping for some new clothes for his birthday. On the way they passed a pet store which had several puppies in the window. As he went inside to pet them, his grandma saw the old, familiar smile shining on his face once again.
That evening at supper, Ted’s dad and mom heard all about the puppies and his wish to have a dog. After talking it over, it was decided that he could go to the store the next day to pick out a puppy.
Ted excitedly said, “I already know just the dog I want, but it’s not one of them. I saw this note and this is the one I want.” The note, with a phone number, simply read, “Dog Needs Special Home.”
The next day after being gone about an hour, Ted and his dad returned. Everyone who was waiting expected to see the car door fly open and a dog followed by a boy come tumbling out.
Instead the door opened slowly and Ted carefully and gently lifted a cute Dalmatian puppy out, tenderly placing it on the ground. Its tail constantly wagged and its tongue never seemed to stop trying to lick Ted. Reaching down, he put on a leash and quietly said, “Come on fella.”
Ten minutes later, the two had still not made it to the front porch where everyone was standing, watching. As the two companions explored the yard, Grampa, with tears in his eyes, said, “That note should have read ‘Dog Needs a Special Boy’!”
The little Dalmatian puppy, now contentedly searching the yard with his new master, had been born missing one of his legs just like Ted, who had been born missing a foot.
The Lord Jesus left heaven to come to this world in order to save those who are lost in sin a far worse problem than a puppy born with only three legs or a boy born with one foot. (See Romans 3:23; 5:12.) In order to be able to be our Saviour, Jesus had to become like us, and so He was born a little baby in Bethlehem. But there is one very important difference: He was perfect. He never had a bad, sinful nature like we do, nor did He ever do any sin; He always pleased God. (See Hebrews 4:15; John 8:29.)
But because He became like us, the Lord Jesus knows exactly what it’s like to live in this world. Christians can always go to Him to get help with problems. He understands and knows exactly how we feel. What a wonderful “friend we have in Jesus”!

"Feed My Lambs": An Ignored Warning

Many of those who boarded the sleek passenger train in Vancouver that Monday evening were expecting to enjoy the trip of a lifetime. The people were looking forward to traveling across Canada, enjoying its varied landscapes and charm. By late that night, the train had already traveled up the Fraser valley, across the Coastal and the Rocky Mountains and through the eastern foothills.
However, for many their vacation ended in the dark of night when a terrible wreck jolted them from their sleep. At 1:50 a.m. two locomotives and ten of the train’s passenger cars jumped the tracks and came to a grinding, tangled halt in a wheat field on the open prairie. Many of the passengers were thrown from their seats. Sixty-five were injured and one died as a result of the derailment.
Within 15 minutes, rescue workers arrived and quickly evacuated the people, rushing the injured to a nearby hospital. Dawn was just breaking over the desolate scene when officials announced that the derailment was caused by a broken axle of the second locomotive. It was determined that two hours out of Vancouver, a warning device called a “hot-bearing detection system” had signaled that an axle bearing on one of the locomotives was dangerously overheating. Rather than heed the warning, the crew instead disconnected the warning device! Later during a stop, the crew was unable to “see” any sign of damage to the locomotive’s wheels and so the passenger train continued on its fateful journey.
The crewmen were foolish and wrong to disconnect the very warning device that was installed in order to prevent such a tragic accident. How much sorrow, pain and even loss of life happened because its faithful warning was ignored!
It is far more important to heed the warnings that God gives. It isn’t His desire to have any of His own suffer. But we might be like the children of Israel, who, when warned because of their disobedience, “mocked the messengers of God, and despised His words, and misused His prophets.” What sorrow resulted from not listening to God’s warnings. “The wrath of the Lord arose against His people, till there was no remedy” (2 Chron. 36:16).
The dead and injured on the train had trusted the crew (who were unhurt) to take them safely to their destination. Let’s remember that if we disregard the Lord’s warnings to us, others may also have to suffer.
Noah is a wonderful example of the blessing that results from heeding God’s loving, gracious warnings. “By faith Noah, being warned of God... moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house” (Heb. 11:7).
From a story by K. Heslop

"Feed My Lambs": Bad Company

A farm family had a pet parrot they called Polly. It was very good at talking mimicking many of the words it heard spoken. Though a great favorite of the house, it was the special pet of the farmer’s little daughter, Sarah. She spent hours talking to and lovingly caring for Polly. It was never allowed to leave its cage, unless someone held it. And even then all the windows and doors were kept closed.
Near the house, Sarah’s parents kept a large garden which supplied much of their fruit and vegetables each year. Unfortunately, there were thieves a large flock of black crows in the area, who frequently stole from the garden.
Sarah’s dad tried many things to keep the robbers away, but scarecrows (no matter how scary they looked) failed. Their dog, tied near the garden, did not help, for the crows learned that he could not get into the garden. Since it was impossible for anyone to guard it each day, the crows kept stealing.
One day, when Sarah was holding Polly outside of its cage, the parrot managed to escape. Flying through the house, it found an open window and was gone.
Searching for Polly proved futile, and though Sarah left the cage door open on the porch with plenty of food, never once did Polly come near it.
One morning after this happened, Sarah’s father, exasperated at seeing the large flock of crows back in the garden, took his shotgun into the yard and fired it at them. The flock wildly took flight, with the exception of one poor bird who lay on the ground slowly flapping its broken wing. Beginning to feel a bit bad about what he had done, Sarah’s dad walked over to the bird, and to his surprise and grief saw that it was none other than Polly, the lost parrot! Gently picking the wounded bird up and placing it inside his jacket, he said sadly, “Poor, poor, foolish Polly! See what comes of keeping bad company!”
Seeing what had happened, Sarah came running to meet her dad, crying, “Oh Daddy, how could Polly have gotten hurt like that? How could it have happened?” Her dad was about to answer when Polly slowly poked its head out of his jacket and squawked: “Bad company... bad company!”
God’s Word says, “Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners” (1 Cor. 15:33). If Christians walk with those who do not love the Lord Jesus, their “good manners” will soon be changed into naughty ways. Christian habits do not change the wicked heart of men. Instead, unbelievers’ bad manners spoil the good conduct of Christians.
You may want to read all of Psalm 1, which begins, “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.”

"Feed My Lambs": Be a Testimony for Jesus

Ed. Note: These words of our blessed Lord Jesus, spoken to Simon Peter, show how important His “lambs” are to His blessed heart. Beginning this month we plan to include short articles which, we trust, will be of help and interest to the children His “lambs.”
Be a Testimony for Jesus
“Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house” (Matt. 5:15).
Elana, a Christian woman, told this story of her father, Anatoly, who was a four-year-old boy when soldiers of the Nazi German army swept into the tiny village where his family lived near Mogilve, Belarus. Little Anatoly had a special, brown cap with a bright red Russian star on its front, which he liked to wear. He was very proud of it because his daddy, the head of the local Communist party, had given it to him. But he did not understand the great danger attached to this cap.
That very day, Anatoly’s daddy had been captured by the feared German SS troops, and, because he was the local political leader, had been taken away to be executed. Terrified by this, Anatoly’s family was expecting that enemy soldiers would appear at their home at any moment. And, indeed, it was not long before the door to their house flew open and in marched a German SS trooper, his rifle in hand. At the very same time, to the horror of the rest of his family, another door opened and into the same room marched Anatoly very proudly wearing his brown hat with its red star! The German soldier looked intently at him for a moment and then motioned for Anatoly to come to him. Without fear or hesitation, the little boy walked up to the soldier.
Reaching into his pocket, the SS trooper took out a piece of candy, handed it to Anatoly, then turned and left the house! A bit later, Anatoly’s father came home too! The people of the village loved his father very much and had pleaded with the German soldiers not to take his life. To everyone’s amazement, they had released him and then left the village!
Christians have Someone far more wonderful and important than Anatoly’s father as their Leader. The Lord Jesus has not given us a “cap with a star” to wear so that others know that we belong to Him. But He does say, “Who is he that will harm you, if ye be followers of that which is good? But and if ye suffer for righteousness’ sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled” (1 Peter 3:1314).
Let’s be like David when “he was but a youth” and show that we belong to “the armies of the living God,” as a “good soldier of Jesus Christ” (2 Tim. 2:3). Perhaps you would like to read the story of David in 1 Samuel 17.
“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matt. 5:16).
Story told to H. Short

"Feed My Lambs": It Mattered to Him!

A man vacationing on a beautiful island in the Pacific Ocean was walking one morning on a lovely, quiet, white sand beach. As he strolled, enjoying the beauty of the seashore, he noticed, in the distance, another man a native of that island moving very slowly towards him, acting in a very odd manner.
As the native islander walked, he would often stop, stoop over and pick something up from the sand. Then he carefully tossed it back into the ocean. This continued for quite some time until, eventually, the two men finally met each other.
The vacationer asked the native what he was so carefully and painstakingly picking up and throwing into the sea. He replied that the tide had washed a vast number of starfish onto the sandy beach and, when it retreated, had left them stranded there. “If they are left on the sand,” he said, “they will die before the tide comes back in.”
“Surely,” countered the surprised vacationer, “there must be untold thousands of the starfish all along this beach as well as the other beaches on this island. You can’t possibly pick them all up and throw them back!” But the native quietly repeated, “If they are left on the sand, they will die.”
“But,” said the perplexed vacationer, “in spite of your efforts, the great majority of them will die anyway! Man! think how little effect on the multitude of stranded starfish your efforts and hard work are having! How can what you’re doing matter?”
Without answering the question, the islander once again bent over and picked up another starfish from the sandy beach. He carefully tossed it back into the ocean and then, turning to the puzzled vacationer, he said, “Well, it mattered to him!”
Perhaps you have tried to tell someone about the Lord Jesus or maybe left a gospel tract at a restaurant or helped a neighbor with their yard work all because you wanted to please the Lord Jesus. But then you may have felt that what you tried to do wasn’t very important, and like the vacationer in our story perhaps you wondered, “Does it really matter?” The answer is “Yes!” Anything done in love for the Lord Jesus matters whether big or little.
Just imagine how much it mattered to the mighty warrior Naaman (2 Kings 5) that his wife’s little servant girl told someone about a man, Elisha, who served the true God and could cure him of his terrible disease of leprosy!
We are told in Galatians 6:10 to “do good unto all” and especially to other believers. Though “doing good” may be as simple as giving someone a drink of cold water (Matt. 10:42), the Lord values such efforts.
Let’s not get discouraged or give up seeking to please the Lord. It matters to Him and it matters to those we seek to serve! “But ye, brethren, be not weary in well doing” (2 Thess. 3:13).

"Feed My Lambs": "My Foot Slipped"

Patrick, a 29-year-old, bright and athletic civil engineer who spent his spare time climbing mountains, cherished a special dream: He wanted to climb 14,411 ft. Mt. Rainier. In preparation for this adventure, Patrick had spent many weekends climbing in the Adirondack Mountains.
Some months later, the long-awaited day for his climb to the top of Rainier arrived, warm and sunny. To many mountain climbers, however, the bright, warm sun was not a welcome sight. They knew its warmth—as great as 80 degrees near the summit—could create very dangerous avalanche conditions.
But Patrick and 15 other student climbers (who had spent the previous 5 days training in climbing school), along with 7 guides, started off in high spirits. Hours later, tired and happy they reached the majestic summit of Rainier.
During their descent, Tyler, a new guide in Patrick’s group, was moving across a particularly dangerous ice face called “Disappointment Cleaver.” Without warning, Tyler’s foot slipped, triggering an avalanche of melting ice and snow.
Some who were not caught in the avalanche yelled warnings to Patrick and others who were further below. But they were unable to get out of the way of the onrushing snow. Patrick and three others were swept 100 ft. down the mountain towards a deep crevasse. Even though the lead climber in his group was able to use an ice pick to break their slide towards certain death, Patrick, the last on the rope, ended up dangling over the edge of the crevasse.
Rescuers were soon on the scene. After several hours, all of the party with the exception of Patrick were safe. By the time the rescuers had reached him, hypothermia due to the torrent of icy snowmelt which had continually poured down on him from above the crevasse had taken his life.
Later, a sorrowful Tyler was only able to say, “My foot slipped, and I triggered the avalanche. My world is all turned upside down.”
The Bible tells those who are believers in the Lord Jesus to “make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way” (Heb. 12:13). Let’s be careful not to stumble other Christians by the way we live our lives (Rom. 14:13)!
The Lord Jesus described the Jewish religious leaders of His day as “blind leaders of the blind” because of their hatred and rejection of Him (Matt. 15:14). What sad consequences resulted in the lives of those who followed these blind “guides.”
Paul, the beloved Apostle, tells us in 1 Corinthians 11:1 to be “followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.” We can only be good guides for others as we are faithfully following the Lord Jesus ourselves.
D. Thonney (adapted)

"Feed My Lambs": Slippery Rocks

Clouds shrouded the peak of Mt. Baker, making it pointless to drive to the end of the road in hopes of getting a glimpse of its scenic beauty. However, the park warden had told us to drive on to Nooksack Falls on the western edge of Mt. Baker Wilderness Park. There the North Fork of the Nooksack River plunges over a rock ledge, casting up a spray and mist from far below. Standing behind chain-link fences that surround this viewpoint, I was awed by the power that a normal, small river acquired as it cascaded down the face of the sheer rock wall.
More impressive, however, were the signs posted everywhere: “DANGER Slippery Rocks” and “Stay behind the barricades.” The rocks at the edge of the falls were wet and slippery. Nothing existed between them and the riverbed lying over a hundred feet below.
As I stood there watching the water crash over jagged rocks far below holding my young son’s hand firmly in my own I first felt panic, then shock upon hearing voices coming from below the edge of the cliff we were standing on! Working our way along the edge, we came to a place where we could see a young couple who had ignored the many warnings just to get a better view of the falls. Not satisfied with that view, still ignoring the danger, they moved to an even more dangerous perch on the wet rocks at the brink of the falls.
Not wanting my children to witness a potential tragedy, I took them to a different viewpoint where we could enjoy the beauty of our Lord’s creation. But for me, all was marred by thoughts of the frightful danger in which those two young people had willingly placed themselves.
What benefit, I thought, were the warning signs? Placed there for our good and protection, we were safe only as long as we obeyed them. They were useless if not heeded, for they had no power to protect any who refused their warning.
Our Lord has not left us without similar “warning signs.” The Apostle Paul wrote this warning: “Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity [love], peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart” (2 Tim. 2:22). We are to flee the ever-slippery rocks of youthful lusts and follow these things with those whose lives are marked by faith in action and motivated from pure hearts. In such company, there is fellowship and safety as we view passing scenes while traveling together on the way home to the Father’s house in glory. May God preserve each from taking even one small step out onto those slippery rocks of youthful lust a step which might be the last step taken before being dashed upon the jagged rocks of moral ruin below!
K. Heslop

"Feed My Lambs": Speaking the Truth

Years ago a woman (we will call her Miss Lansing) had a reputation in her little town of being quite a gossip. One day she began to spread a particularly naughty story she had heard about her next-door neighbor, widow Pell.
Soon poor widow Pell could not even go to the local market without noticing the angry stares and whispered comments of her neighbors. Before long, this sad treatment caused her to fall seriously ill.
About this time Miss Lansing, who had delighted in telling everyone she met the awful story of widow Pell, found out, much to her sorrow and embarrassment, that every word of the story she had heard and had been telling others was a lie.
Now oddly enough, Miss Lansing was a Christian—or at least so she told others. When she learned the truth about widow Pell, Miss Lansing began to feel very uncomfortable about what she had done.
Day after day, Miss Lansing’s conscience troubled her. Nothing she tried to do made her feel any better. She had even taken a basket of fresh baked pastries to Mrs. Pell’s house, but the doctor met her and sternly turned her away, without allowing her to leave the basket. Finally, feeling very bad, she went to see a Christian man who knew her quite well.
“Brother Dawson,” she said, “I feel terrible about a false story I have spread about widow Pell. Will you please tell me what I can do to make things right?”
He thought for a moment and then said, “Go fill a pillowcase with feathers. Then climb to the top of the bell tower in the church and shake all the feathers out. After you have done that come back.”
Miss Lansing quickly did as she was told. As she shook the bag, the feathers caught by the wind—were scattered far into the countryside. She came back to Mr. Dawson saying, “I did just as you told me, but I don’t feel any better. Isn’t there anything else I can do to make things right?”
“Yes,” he replied. “Go pick up all the feathers.”
“But brother Dawson,” cried Miss Lansing, “that’s impossible! They’re scattered everywhere over the countryside! I could never get them all back!”
“That’s true,” said Mr. Dawson, “and neither can you collect back all of the false words that you have spread about widow Pell.”
In James 3:1-12 we read about how hard it is to control the tongue. Though very small it can cause us very big problems. “The tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity:... It... defileth the whole body” (James 3:6). Those of us who belong to the Lord Jesus should ask Him to help us each day to control the words we speak. How sad if what we say causes people to wonder if we are really saved!
“Let the words of my mouth... be acceptable in Thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer” (Psalm 19:14).

"Feed My Lambs": The Bible - A Precious Treasure

When Whang Pam Oh was a little boy, he became sick with smallpox and lost his eyesight. Due to this blindness, Whang (like many other blind Korean children a hundred years ago) was trained in sorcery and became a successful witch doctor. About that time, the gospel was preached in the place where he lived. Whang listened, believed and accepted the Lord Jesus as his personal Saviour. After this, having destroyed all of the things he used as a witch doctor, he began to long to be able to read the Bible the Word of God. Though he knew nothing of Braille (a means by which blind people can read, using their fingers to feel raised patterns of dots), he was familiar with a device similar to an abacus (an Oriental counting machine). Whang gathered some used tin cans and cut thousands of small metal squares out of them. He put patterns of dents representing the different letters of the Korean alphabet in each piece. Then, while a friend read slowly to him from the Bible, he threaded them on strings to make up sentences and paragraphs (using wooden squares as end markers). Once he had “written” a few chapters, using this crude system, he began to memorize them.
One day Whang heard that three hundred miles from where he lived, there was a school that taught the Braille system, and he determined to go. A kind person gave him some money for the train fare. However, since he had to leave his wife and children behind, he gave them the money instead. In order to get to the school he began to walk, groping for the way as he went. Again, other kind Christians gave him money for train fare, and again he sent the money home. Finally, more dear Christians, having bought a ticket for him, made sure he got on the train.
It took Whang only one month to master Braille, and then he was ready to head for home. Once again he was provided train fare but this time he did walk the entire three hundred miles! As he went home, he preached the wonderful gospel message and led his brother to the Lord. Whang’s great desire to be able to read the Bible was thus used in blessing not only to himself, but others as well.
Let us ask the Lord to give us a deep desire, like Whang had, to read and think about the wonderful things He has told us in His precious Book, the Bible. In this way we can be like Samuel who, when he was little, heard the Lord speak and “did let none of His words fall to the ground” (1 Sam. 3:19). How important to carefully and attentively read the Bible!
“I have esteemed the words of His mouth more than my necessary food” (Job 23:12).
“Thy word have I hid in mine heart” (Psa. 119:11).
“Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path” (Psa. 119:105).
Story supplied by J. A. Kaiser

"Feed My Lambs": The Camel's Footprints

Many years ago, a brilliant, well-known scientist was on an expedition in one of the vast wilderness areas of the Middle East. One of his most trusted servants was a young Arab guide an earnest-hearted Christian. The scientist, who claimed to believe that God does not exist would often challenge the young man’s personal faith in God.
One day after the guide had finished praying, the scientist, who had overheard his prayer, once again challenged him.
“Did you ever see God?”
“No,” said the guide.
“Did you ever hear God?”
Again he replied, “No.”
“Did you ever put out your hand and touch God and feel Him?”
Once again the quiet reply, “No.”
“Then,” said the scientist arrogantly, “you are a great fool to believe in a God you have never seen, a God you have never heard, and a God you have never put out your hand and touched.”
The young Christian said nothing, and they retired to their tents for the night. Arising early the next morning, just before the sunrise, the scientist met the guide outside his tent and said to him, “There was a camel around your tent last night!”
Looking intently at the great scientist, the guide quietly asked him, “Did you see the camel?”
“No,” came the reply.
“Did you hear the camel?”
Again the reply, “No.”
“Did your hand touch and feel the camel?”
And once more the reply, “No.”
“Well,” continued the guide, “you are a very strange man of science to believe in a camel you never saw, never heard and never touched!”
“Oh,” countered the self-assured scientist, “but the camel’s footsteps are all around the tent!”
At that moment the sun was just beginning to rise in the eastern sky in all of its early morning splendor. The guide, with a graceful wave of his hand at that beautiful scene, said, “Behold, sir, the footprints of the Creator, and know that there is God!”
Twice in the Psalms we read that “the fool hath said in his heart, There is no God” (Psa. 14:1; 53:1). We also read in the Bible that “without faith it is impossible to please Him [God]” (Heb. 11:6).
Faith does not try to reason about God, nor does it seek for proof that He exists. Faith trusts what God’s Word says, and thus the one who has faith knows that God “is” and that “He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.” Let us seek to be like Abraham who “believed God,” for “it [his faith] was counted unto him for righteousness” (Rom. 4:3; Gal. 3:6; James 2:23).

"Feed My Lambs": The Master's Touch

Eight-year-old David’s dad and mom wanted to motivate him to practice his piano lessons more diligently. They finally decided to take him to a performance by the famous pianist Paderewski. The evening of the performance came and, arriving at the auditorium, the family found their seats near the front of the hall. David seemed quite awed as he eyed the stage with its majestic Steinway grand piano, awaiting the appearance of the master.
David’s dad and mom, busily engaged in chatting with friends, did not notice that he had slipped away from his seat. A few minutes later, promptly at eight o’clock, the lights in the auditorium began to dim and the spotlights came on. To his parents’ surprise and dismay, there sat David on stage in front of the shiny grand piano, innocently plinking out the tune “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.”
Feeling no little embarrassment, David’s dad started up to retrieve his son. But at that very moment, Paderewski appeared on the stage and quickly moved to the keyboard. Leaning over, he whispered to the boy, “Don’t quit. Keep playing.” Then the master reached down with his left hand and began filling in the bass part of the song. A moment later, with his right arm around the other side of the child, he completed the delightful obbligato. Together, the old master and the young novice held the crowd mesmerized with their charming duet but it was the master’s touch which gave the rich and beautiful sound to the tune.
It is wonderful to know that when we do something for the Lord Jesus, “we are laborers together with God” (1 Cor. 3:9). Perhaps you don’t feel that your service is important, or maybe you think what you do isn’t very good. But the Lord tells us in 2 Thessalonians 3:13 that we are not to become “weary in well doing.”
Do you remember when God sent Moses to Egypt to deliver His beloved people? Moses didn’t think he could do what God had asked of him, for he said, “O my Lord, I am not eloquent.... I am slow of speech, and of a slow tongue” (Ex. 4:10).
The Lord’s answer proves that He will always be with His servants to help them. “Who hath made man’s mouth?... Have not I the Lord? Now therefore go, and I will be with thy mouth, and teach thee what thou shalt say” (Ex. 4:11-12).
The Lord Jesus says that He will “never leave” a believer (Heb. 13:5). Isn’t it nice to know that when we do something for Him it is as if He is right there with His arms around us helping and saying, “Don’t quit. Keep playing.” In this way God our Father receives glory and those we serve are blessed.

"Feed My Lambs": The Nightingale and the Glowworm

A Nightingale, that all day long
Had cheered the village with his song,
Nor yet at dusk his note suspended,
Not even when the dusk was ended,
Began to feel, as well he might,
The keen demands of appetite;
When, looking eagerly around,
He spied far off, upon the ground,
A shining something in the dark,
And knew the glowworm by his spark;
So swooping down from hawthorn top,
He thought to put him in his crop.
The worm, aware of his intent,
Rebuked him thus, quite eloquent:
“Did you admire my lamp,” said he,
“As much as I your minstrelsy,
You would abhor to do me wrong,
As much as I to spoil your song;
For’twas the selfsame power divine
Taught you to sing, and me to shine.
That you with music, I with light,
Might beautify and cheer the night.”
The songster, hearing this short oration,
Warbled out his acceptation.
Then released him, as my story tells,
And found a supper somewhere else.
Hence clashing brethren ought to learn
The real intent they should discern –
That brother should not war with brother,
Nor worry, bite or consume each other;
But sing and shine with sweet consent,
Till life’s short fleeting night is spent,
Respecting in each other’s case
The gifts of nature and of grace.
Those who best fulfill the Christian name
Are they who diligently make peace their aim;
Peace both the duty and the prize –
Of him that creeps and him that flies.
William Cowper (adapted)
This little poem teaches an important lesson: “In lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves” (Phil. 2:3). We should appreciate, rather than envy, the abilities and gifts that the Lord has given to others. How it must please the heart of our Father when He sees His children expressing, by word and action, appreciation for each other.
Jealousy can cause a Christian to despise another Christian. How important for each one to obey God’s Word which says, “Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honor preferring one another” (Rom. 12:10).
Our loving Father desires that His children live in peace with one another. (See Psalm 133:1.) Let us always remember the words of our Lord Jesus in Matthew 5:9, “Blessed are the peacemakers.”

Fellowship With His Sorrow

“And He sighed deeply in His spirit” (Mark 8:12).
It is very touching to distinguish some various sources which caused such sighs (groans) of sorrow from our blessed Lord Jesus. Though we can never fully know the depths of the sorrows that He felt, I have enjoyed another’s differentiation of three sources of sorrow that the Lord Jesus felt: (1) the sorrow caused by the unbelief of man, (2) the sorrow caused by sympathy with man, burdened by sin, and (3) the sorrow caused by the anticipation of Calvary.
In Mark 8:12 the Lord Jesus is faced with the unbelief of His people, and it draws forth from Him a deep sigh (“groan”). Compare this with Mark 3:5, where He is “grieved” at the hard hearts of His beloved people, and Luke 19:41, where Jerusalem’s unbelief draws forth His tears.
This sequence has application to believers today. As a young believer, I was often moved to anger or grief when confronting open unbelief. As I have grown in my Christian life, I realize that a more appropriate response would be one of sorrow and sympathy. And if I had more of the Saviour’s heart, my response would be one of tears. The Apostle Paul spoke of “great heaviness and continual sorrow” when contemplating the continued unbelief of the people he loved. Oh! for more of this lovely attitude of heart!
In Mark 7:34 the Lord’s sympathy for the deaf man brings forth a similar sigh. It has been suggested: “It was no lighthearted remedy that the Lord applied: He perfectly felt in His spirit what He took away in His power.” The Lord Jesus truly feels the effects that sin has brought on those He loves. Compare this with John 11:33,35, where the sorrow others are feeling over the death of Lazarus causes His blessed heart to groan, and then He weeps divine tears over the awful effects of sin.
“The whole creation groans together and travails” under the bondage of sin; how much do we feel it? Sometimes I sigh due to my weakness and my bondage to sin. But do I feel its effects deeply enough to draw forth my tears, longing for the day when we shall enter the fullness of the glory for which we now await and all creation with us (the glorious liberty of the sons of God)? Even further, do I sympathize with my brethren who are similarly suffering? “Weep with them that weep” (Rom. 12:15).
We who are believers have the wonderful privilege of sharing in fellowship with our Lord’s heart—sharing His grief caused by sin. May we know more of the spirit of “Jesus wept” (John 11:35) and enjoy the admonition, “Rejoice evermore” (1 Thess. 5:16).
S. Barr

Four Opened Things

In Luke 24 we find four things that were “opened.” “And they found the stone rolled away from the sepulcher. And they entered in, and found not the body of the Lord Jesus” (Luke 24:23).
The opened tomb revealed that He was risen! The Jews had not ceased to offer sacrifices daily in the temple. “But this man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins,” God raised from the dead, “and [they] found not the body of the Lord Jesus.” Every other “great” man who walked the face of this earth is now in his grave, but this Man is risen! “Why seek [we] the living among the dead?” (Luke 24:5). Do we daily, by faith “see” Him as the risen and glorified Lord, ever living to make intercession for us? Let us praise and thank God for that opened tomb!
“Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into His glory? And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, He expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning Himself ” (Luke 24:26-27). Until the tomb was opened, the Scriptures could not be fully opened to our hearts. But now the Scriptures are opened by Jesus Himself to these disheartened travelers. He reveals from all the Scriptures the “things concerning Himself.” Is it any wonder they exclaimed later that their hearts had burned within them as He opened to them the Scriptures? Do we see Christ in all Scripture? May our hearts, too, burn within us as the Spirit reveals Him to us.
Their hearts thus warmed, they desire Him to abide with them for the night. They opened their home to Him. And what blessing He brought, for it was there that He broke bread with them. What blessing we may miss in those times when our hearts and homes are closed to Him.
Then, finally, their eyes were opened, and they knew Him! Was it His gracious manner or the power and authority with which He taught which opened their eyes? No. He was known to them when He broke the bread. May we treasure the privilege of answering to His request, “Remember Me,” and when thus gathered having our eyes opened to see Him in the midst.
When we by faith see the opened tomb empty (our Lord having risen into glory for us) and have the Scriptures opened to our understanding (that we might see all of His glory foretold and have a sure hope of His coming again), then let us open our homes to Him with our eyes opened and our hearts burning. We have His promise that He will come in to us and sup with us and we with Him (Rev. 3:20). Has this world anything to compare with that?
K. Heslop


The bosom secret: all things gathered together in Christ.


General principles of Scripture are very blessed, but the individual application of truth to the heart and conscience is still more happy.


The law is the strength of sin, but grace is the power of holiness.
C. Hendricks


Ephesians: the rich purpose of God unfolding itself to our gazes.


Satan does not desire to persecute where he can corrupt, for his persecutions only brighten the soul up for God. His seducing corruptions imperceptibly separate the soul from God.
J. N. Darby


The use that a Christian makes of the things of the world that he possesses shows where his heart is.
Words of Truth, 1870


At the brazen altar, we see the lowly Jesus presenting Himself, of His own voluntary will, through the eternal Spirit, without spot to God. Infinite holiness and justice feed upon the ascending offering and boundless grace flows out from the God of righteousness to the chief of sinners. It is a sweet savor of rest to God “God is glorified in Him.” And it is the ground of the believer’s relationship, acceptance and fellowship with God and the Father.
C. H. Mackintosh


It is all very well to get the heavenly side of truth, but let me remind you that this alone will not do, for nothing will compensate for lack of walking with God.
G. V. Wigram


The Lord never can descend below His own measure in dealing with evil, whether in the church or with an individual. If He gives a standard, it is that by which He must judge. The church must be judged according to the resources it has at its disposal. God never goes below this in looking for an answer to what He has done. Therefore we have to ask ourselves whether, as individuals, we are showing to the world the holiness that we are made partakers of and the love we are the objects of. There are very many who profess Christ, while there are comparatively few who live Christ.
J. N. Darby


Let us never offer to God a sacrifice which comes from the neglect of the just and right claims of family or business responsibilities.
Things New and Old, Vol. 2


An overcomer is one who “comes over” an obstacle. In the Christian pathway, this calls for faith and spiritual energy. The power is not natural and involves the forgetting of, not only past victories, but also past breakdowns and failures. Do we despise, in our hearts, a believer who has failed? Do we hold, in our mind, their failures (or our own failures)? There cannot be true “overcoming” if this is the case.
All this is involved in “forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:13-14).
M. Priestly


Grace applies what is in God to the need which is produced by the ruin we are in.
N. Berry


Humility of mind, contriteness of spirit and much patience are all required in our day, in seeking the peace of the assemblies.
H. Short


If our walk does not agree with our words, we should say very little.
A narrow path is a simple one, if you are ready to serve others and do what is given you to do.
There is nothing more dangerous than handling the Word of God apart from the Spirit of God.
Oh! Cultivate intimacy with Him; it keeps the conscience alive and the heart happy and healthy.
From Spiritual Gems for the Path of Faith
(compiled by R. D. Klassen)


Prophecy: the display of God’s glory in Christ
“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved” (Acts 16:31).


Everyone that does not have Christ has either a disappointed heart or a heart seeking for that which in the end will disappoint it.
When knowledge enters my head, it exalts me; when knowledge enters my heart, it humbles me.
From Spiritual Gems for the Path of Faith


The word of our Lord and the attentive ear of a true servant are all that is needed to carry us safely and happily onward.
Words of Truth, Vol. 1


“All that Jesus began both to do and teach” (Acts 1:1).
There are only two characters of testimony—the lip and the life. The lip should be the expression of what has first been produced in the life. What we should desire is intense reality—to be possessed and controlled by the truth we profess to hold.
From Spiritual Gems for the Path of Faith


Where there is the fear of the Lord, there will be the understanding of His Word and mind but the Word of God will not be simple without subjection to Him.
From Spiritual Gems for the Path of Faith


It was through humiliation, abasement and nothingness that David was brought into the “large place” of Psalm 18:19.
From Spiritual Gems for the Path of Faith


Psalm 110 gives us the answer to Christ having glorified God perfectly all through His earthly path.
From Spiritual Gems for the Path of Faith


Where there is merely a discussion of points of doctrine without affection for Christ, only the withering of intellect (rather than unction) is found. I’d rather minister from one felt thought, than from a volume arranged and digested in my mind.
From Spiritual Gems for the Path of Faith


Knowledge is power and must be used in love—but love must always be controlled by knowledge. (See Philippians 1:9-11.)
From Spiritual Gems for the Path of Faith


There is no measure for sin but the cross. There alone can you form any idea of what the intolerance of God is to sin. If looking up by faith to the One crucified, the cross will be the mark by which to measure everything in you. There is no charge against me, for Christ has met it all and perfected me forever. His blood, shed for sinners, ever pleads in the presence of God. I am perfectly free from guilt and God delights to give me all that Christ has and is.
G. V. Wigram


“People may seek to spoil our reputation outwardly, but only we can spoil our true moral character inwardly.”
E. Wilson


Even while chastening, God is more loving, more faithful, more worthy of confidence than any other.
J. N. Darby (Synopsis, 2 Samuel)


In Isaiah we read of the little remnant in Israel that they trembled at God’s Word (Isa. 66:5). They were afraid. When we are traveling in an area we are not acquainted with, we watch the signs carefully, for we are afraid we might miss our way. Sometimes you might have to go many miles out of the way because you were not watchful. The signs are posted there for our good. And, brethren, God has written His Word for our good. His divine power has given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness. Dear young people, search the Word and go by this blessed Book in forming the pathway of your life.
G. H. Hayhoe


Scripture treats man as a sinner to be restored to God or judged. Rationalists treat man as a race to be educated.
From Spiritual Gems for the Path of Faith


“Thou... hast loved them, as Thou hast loved Me” (John 17:23).
There is nothing in all the thoughts of God more wondrous than that God can love such as we are with the same love wherewith He loves His Son. And He does so love us. If He says it, is it not that I may believe it and take it home to my heart and enjoy it now in this world? He loves us as He loved Him.
W. Kelly


“We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive... according to that he hath done” (2 Cor. 5:10).
Everything will come out there! Nothing will be hidden in the pure, bright light before the throne of the discernment of Christ. There the full intelligence of His mind will beam out on His people.
It is not a question of being saved, but of how we, as saved ones, have been walking. It is as though He will say there, “Let us see whether they have walked according to My Father’s thoughts.”
His desire is that His sons and daughters walk as those separated unto Him by the blood of His dear Son. Those “bought with a price,” did they walk worthy of it?
G. V. Wigram


Normal Christianity: Enjoying the unsearchable riches of Christ


“Renouncing Egypt is not sloth. Advantages in life are surrendered and opportunities of worldly promise are not used because the heart has understood the path of companionship with a rejected Lord.”
J. G. Bellett


The enjoyment of the fruit of our sin undeceives us. It is the pursuit of it which allures our hearts. When Satan has succeeded in inducing the children of God to commit the evil to which he tempts them, he cares no longer to conceal from them its emptiness and folly. Happily, where there is life, conscience resumes its power in such a case.

Fragment: Pride

Pride is the fuel that runs the engine of self-will.
E. Wilson

Fragment: Restoration

Our God is just as much a God of restoration as He is a God of salvation.
D. Bilisoly


“God is far more interested in the work that He is doing in me (Eph. 2:10) than in the work that He does by me.”
J. N. Darby


We die because we must the Lord Jesus died because He chose to.
We ought not to be satisfied with a bargain-counter relationship with our Lord Jesus Christ.
Loose walk causes a spiritually narrow heart.
From Spiritual Gems for the Path of Faith

Future Blessedness (Revelation 21-22)

With eyes turned up in longing I got a view today
Of glory, with my Saviour,
The realm where I will stay
Throughout the endless ages.
Oh, such a glimpse as this
Is filling me with wonder,
My every thought with bliss!
The restlessness of nations(ch. 21:1)
Is gone from off the scene,
And in its place is calmness
Where turmoil once had been.
And, lo, I hear like thunder(vs. 3)
A voice that fills the sky,
Announcing that God’s dwelling
With man is ever nigh.
I knew that pearls were costly,(vs. 21)
But, oh, I never knew
What beauteous transformation
My Saviour had in view.
Each gate, each gate is one pearl!
Oh, Lord, the cost was high
That lured Thee from the glory
That precious pearl to buy!
All glorified and risen –
The Lamb for me once slain.
Oh, Lord! Thy grievous travail
Has brought eternal gain!
There is no other city(ch. 22:2)
That could with this compare.
The tree of life, all verdant,
I find is everywhere!
Abloom with sweetest comfort,
Yielding each month her fruit,
Variety and healing
Inherent in each shoot.
Glad will I be to serve Him(vss. 45)
Whose service is delight,
Viewing His face so lovely
Through eons without night.
My candle that was lighted
And feebly gleamed on earth
Shall lose itself in glory
In the blaze of Jesus’ worth!
Safe, safe at last! What triumph!
Exultant, glad and free,
My spirit shall be ever
At home, O Lord, with Thee!
Excerpts from a poem by Mrs. A. M. Totems (1987)
Note: Those who may wish to receive the complete copy of our sister’s poem, comprising 13 verses, should contact the editor.

Give God Thanks

Give God thanks in times of trial;
Give Him thanks with a smile.
Remember His great love for you;
Give Him thanks in all you do.
He is the sinner’s only Friend;
He the broken heart can mend;
His forever is a love that is true;
Give God thanks for His love for you.
He never promised a bed of roses,
But He our every tear feels and knows.
He will give strength through every trial;
Give God thanks with a smile.
He sent His Son to die for sins;
Through that work victory He did win.
Sing aloud praises of Him;
Give Jesus thanks who died for all sin.
The cross: it is a milestone;
There the love of Jesus Christ was shown;
Praise God for His mercy and grace;
Give God thanks with a smiling face.
Give God thanks when things go wrong;
Give God thanks when against you rages a worldly throng.
Stand firm and do not give up;
Constantly thank Him with an overflowing cup.
Let ceaseless praises of our God abound;
Let out thanks with a joyful sound.
Remember God’s great love for you;
Give Him thanks in all you do.
Rose Ann Ruga (2/26/95)
We want to specially thank our dear brother and sister, Josh and Calista Ruga, for sending the preceding poem to us. It was written by their daughter, our late, young sister Rose Ruga, less than three weeks before the Lord Jesus took her home to Himself. Brother Josh was given grace to read it at her funeral service.

God Is My Father

He is almighty in power; He is perfect in His ways; He has understanding of all things; He is the God of all grace; He is light He sees all things; He is love He loves because He is love; He rules all things in perfect wisdom; Love is the spring of all His ways, Wisdom the course they pursue; No power can stay His hand, Thus all things work together for good, And all things are ordered with That end in view.
H. E. Hayhoe

God's Assembly

The desire is, or should be, in the heart of every true believer to remember the Lord in His death by partaking of the Lord’s supper each first day of the week (1 Cor. 11:26; Acts 20:7). What a privilege this is, until He comes! How can we but respond to love like His? Surely it ought to constrain our hearts more and more. However, it is noticeable that, because of its importance, the truth as to the Lord’s table precedes the instructions as to the Lord’s supper in the epistle to the Corinthians.
The Lord’s table is that which has been set up according to His Word (1 Cor. 10:21), where His authority is owned (Matt. 18:16-18; 1 Cor. 5:4) and where the unity of the body is expressed by the one loaf on the table. The local assembly is the expression of this, meeting in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ alone, holding the whole truth of God and also maintaining the holiness of God’s house.
What a privilege it is to remember the Lord in His own appointed way! Though we are not told to invite believers to His table, yet we know they are all represented in the one loaf, and we can teach them the truth of it, receiving them gladly, when we can do so to the glory of God (Rom. 15:6-7). The Lord Himself invites them, but let us bear in mind that although it is the responsibility of each believer who breaks bread to examine himself (1 Cor. 11:28), it is also the responsibility of the assembly to judge evil in its midst (1 Cor. 5:12-13).
God’s assembly is the pillar and ground of the truth, and soundness in faith as to the person and work of Christ are of vital importance as well as a godly walk (1 Tim. 3:15; Psalm 93:5).
The assembly then is responsible to maintain the holiness of God’s house, and when evil has been manifested, whether moral or doctrinal, they have authority and also the responsibility to deal with it. “Put away from among yourselves that wicked person” (1 Cor. 5:13).
Having proof as to the guilt of the person involved, the assembly then acts in obedience to the Word of God in judging it. Each assembly, meeting according to the Word of God, acknowledges the Lord’s authority by bowing to that decision (Matt. 18:18), for God’s assembly in any locality is the local expression of the whole testimony.
Even though an individual Christian may be sound in the faith and godly as to his own personal walk, yet if he knowingly remains in a group where moral or doctrinal evil is allowed, he is having fellowship with the evil and is defiled thereby, for “a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump” (1 Cor. 5:6).
The act of breaking bread is the expression of fellowship with the table where one breaks bread (1 Cor. 10:18-22), and so the Word of God calls upon each believer to purge himself from “vessels... to dishonor” and to “depart from iniquity” (2 Tim. 2:18-22).
The Scripture says, “By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep His commandments” (1 John 5:2). The proof of our love for the Lord and His people is obedience, and so He says, “If ye love Me, keep My commandments” (John 14:15). How precious are those words, “Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself for it” (Eph. 5:25). When we give expression to this truth in breaking bread as members of His body in His appointed way, we give honor to Him, our precious Saviour. May He keep us for His glory till He comes!
Till Thou shalt come in glory,
And call us hence away,
To rest in all the brightness
Of that unclouded day,
We show Thy death, Lord Jesus,
And here would seek to be
More to Thy death conformed,
Whilst we remember Thee
G. H. Hayhoe

God's City - Man's City

“But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for He hath prepared for them a city” (Heb. 11:16).
“For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come” (Heb. 13:14).
The writer of Hebrews is seeking to lift the Jewish believers’ view from those earthly things that they had in Judaism. They gloried in the earthly city Jerusalem, where God had placed His name. But the Apostle seeks to lift them from anything they might look at on this earth (even the city of Jerusalem) to heaven where, as believers, all their blessings exist. As seen in Deuteronomy 28:2-13, God promised earthly, temporal blessings to Israel if they were obedient to Him. But in the present dispensation (the “day of grace”), believers’ blessings are spiritual and heavenly and are contrasted with those material blessings promised to Israel.
What is the thought of the city? It is a place where man has concentrated all the business, education, entertainment, sports, cultural arts and sciences and everything else that he has produced. It is all concentrated in the “city.” You don’t find that kind of thing in the “country” you must go to the city. There you find the place where at night the lights are glittering, bright and inviting. And contained there in man’s city is something for everyone.
God has prepared for us (believers) a city. It too is concentrated with “things” but these things are all the blessings, the glories and the joys that He has for us. However, it is a city that is out of this world—a heavenly city. Abraham was promised this earthly land, but he went through it as a stranger and a pilgrim. By faith he looked for something far better than this earthly scene could give. “He looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.”
So we get heavenly blessings all through Hebrews—a heavenly calling (ch. 3:1), a heavenly gift (ch. 6:4), heavenly things (ch. 9:23), heavenly substance (ch. 10:34), heavenly country (ch. 11:13-16), heavenly Jerusalem (ch. 12:22), heavenly message (ch. 12:25), and the heavenly city (ch. 13:14). We belong to a heavenly city. It’s not a specific place. It refers to the general character of Christianity as contrasted with Judaism. And all the concentrated blessings, which God has spoken of, are found there in that heavenly city.
All too often believers, by our own actions, teach our children that there are some parts of man’s city which are all right to dwell in. Believers have put a value on some of those elements which are contained in man’s city. When this happens it tells our children, “That’s OK that’s all right. I’ve put my stamp of approval on that thing and so it’s all right for you too.” Well, we can see what’s happened because of our unfaithfulness and because, in so many ways, we have promoted the city that man has built. Let each of us search our hearts and see what we are sowing, by promoting that which is contained in man’s city. What kind of magazines do we read what kinds of activities interest us? All this projects a message to our children that’s all right, that’s acceptable. I’m not pointing fingers. We know we have all failed in these things. Let’s ask ourselves: “Why has Johnny or Susie turned out like that?” Maybe by looking in the mirror we’ll get the answer. \
C. Hendricks

God's Goodness in the Believer's Life

I have been struck by the contrast of [the painful exercises] through which Mephibosheth and Job learned the goodness of God and the simple faith and yieldedness of Joseph [as he passed through trials]. I am afraid that many of us are not simple and yielded enough for the Heavenly Potter to have His way with His clay. Thus, we learn our lessons slower and in much pain. God is infinitely able to accomplish His purposes in the lives of His people, for “all things serve His might,” but oh! how much happier for us to yield to Him to willingly “humble [ourselves]... under the mighty hand of God” (1 Peter 5:6).
B. Jones

God's Plan and God's Man: Behold the Man!

God has a plan for every one of us. In God’s plan you have a work to do that no one else can do. Oh, He loves His children. Christ was put out of this world, but we are ambassadors for Christ. The wonderful privilege of being down here in this world to represent Christ while He represents us up there is God’s plan for us.
First Corinthians 15:47 says, “The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven.” The Bible is the story of two men, the first man and the second man. Before there could be a second, there had to be a first. God created Adam, a moral being, and gave him dominion over the lower creation in this world. Man, being a moral creature, had to be tested to see if he could abide in that position of innocence. As part of that test, Satan was allowed into the garden. Man sinned; all was spoiled in that place, and from that time until the second man, it looked as though God was defeated but God is never defeated!
Before the first man, in a past eternity, there was the Man of God’s counsel the second Man, the Lord out of heaven. What a tremendous plan God has—not just to have an unfallen creation down here living in a garden, but to bring man up to heaven and there, suited to His holy presence, to enjoy God. All this is involved in God’s plan for God’s man.
In John 19 when the Lord Jesus was brought up before Pilate, oh, what a scene it was! There are two short statements that are very impressive. “Then came Jesus forth” a mock trial “wearing the crown,” not of gold and precious jewels, but “of thorns, and the purple robe. And Pilate saith unto them, Behold the man!” What a tremendous statement! Behold the Man, the Man Christ Jesus. Christ came into this world, manifest in the flesh, and here He is at His trial. But the statement was made in verse 14, “And about the sixth hour: and he [Pilate] saith unto the Jews, Behold your King!” Now that is in God’s plan too, “King of kings, and Lord of lords.”
We will look at scriptures which present this in a way that I think we can understand. In the first words of the New Testament we have an introduction to this Man, the Man of God’s counsel: “The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.” This is the kingly line into which Jesus Christ was born.
Now going on down to His birth in verses 20-21: “The angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call His name Jesus: for He shall save His people from their sins.” Here we have the Man of God’s counsels introduced as being born of a woman. “Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call His name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.” This is about the birth of Jesus Christ.
John’s gospel begins with Him as “the Word.” “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” And then in verse 14 it says that the “Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us... full of grace and truth.” Now we have the bringing in of God’s Man into this world as a man. The second Man came into the world as being born and growing up here. Adam, the first man, was created a full-grown man he never was a boy. However, both were tested. I don’t suppose it was very long before Satan got into the garden and tempted Adam and Eve, and they sinned.
In Matthew 3, Jesus being a grown man, came to John the Baptist, the forerunner, who was preaching repentance for the remission of sins. His message was that the King was coming and that they were to prepare to receive Him when He came.
“Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him. But John forbade Him, saying, I have need to be baptized of Thee, and comest Thou to me?” What John said was the truth.
“And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now.” There was a time for this because Jesus was come and had identified Himself with the guilty remnant of the Jews who had repented at the preaching of John the Baptist. Jesus entered into the fold of the sheep by the door that the Holy Spirit opened up for Him (John 10:23).
So Jesus was baptized, and it is such an interesting sight that is before us in verses 16-17: “And Jesus, when He was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon Him: and lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”
Never before this Man was there ever a man on this earth upon whom the heavens opened and God’s delight in Him was announced. But it was God’s plan that this Man His beloved Son would be that Man in whom He could find His delight and satisfaction and the Man who would fulfill perfectly God’s plan of blessing and redemption for His fallen creature, man, and for all creation.
C. Buchanan

The Gospel Paul Preached: Six Revelations Paul Received From Christ in Glory

1. We learn in Paul’s gospel that the believer is “justified from all things” (Acts 13:38-39). The JND translation shows the correct reading: “in Him,” rather than “by Him” (vs. 39). Paul alone teaches that the believer is “in Christ” (Rom. 6:23; Rom. 8:1 JND).
2. We learn from Paul’s ministry the truth of the “one body.” Christ and His church are one (Eph. 3:16; 1 Cor. 12:12-13).
3. We also learn an added truth as to the Lord’s supper. Previous to Paul’s revelation, believers were breaking bread, thus commemorating the Lord’s death (Acts 2:42). Now Paul gives the added blessed truth that the one loaf is a symbol of our oneness with Christ. He received it “of the Lord,” that is, by revelation (1 Cor. 10:15-17; 1 Cor. 11:23-26).
4. We learn from Paul’s gospel the truth of “the rapture”: the coming of the Lord to receive us to Himself before the day of tribulation (1 Thess. 4:13-18). This is the first revelation of the Lord’s coming for us before the day of glory for Israel.
5. We also learn from Paul’s gospel that the believer who passes through death is “absent from the body, and... present with the Lord” (2 Cor. 5:8). There was no revelation of this truth until Paul gave it. No Old Testament scripture reveals this precious truth. The dying thief was the first of which we have any record, and he had it for himself only. Paul received it for the church.
6. Paul alone tells us that in resurrection we will have incorruptible and immortal bodies. Added to this he also tells that our bodies will be like Christ (1 Cor. 15:35-54; Phil. 3:21).
It is very important to see that Paul alone gives us all the above teaching, which he received, not by reading the Old Testament, but by revelation. It was not the fulfilling of Old Testament promises (of which Peter speaks), but new revelations from Christ in glory. It is all connected with our heavenly calling. Peter links the chain in 1 Peter 1, by contrasting our heavenly hope with that of Israel’s hope, but goes no further. Peter never gives the ministry committed to Paul, though he commends the teaching of Paul, and there is no doubt that Peter learned it from Paul (Eph. 3:5; 2 Pet. 3:15-16).
H. E. Hayhoe (from The Gospel Paul Preached)

The Gourd and the Worm

“So Jonah was exceeding glad of the gourd” (Jonah 4:6). Not only was he “glad,” but he was “exceeding glad,” even as he had been “exceedingly... displeased” because of God’s mercy. How we delight today in those temporal mercies that add to our comfort comforts which are often to us what Jonah’s gourd was to him the cause of exceeding gladness.
“But God prepared a worm when the morning rose the next day, and it smote the gourd that it withered” (Jonah 4:7). Whether a fish or a worm, God “prepared” them both. As we see things which have added to our temporal comfort fade and die, we do well to consider whether it is our own loving God who Himself has prepared the worm to make them pass away. We often learn lessons in adversity, scorching suns, poverty and want that we never could have learned in prosperity, ease and luxury.
G. C. Willis

Grace, Godliness and Glory

“The grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:11-13).
Grace brings salvation to lost man. Grace gives power for a godly walk in separation from evil to saved man. Grace gives the hope of seeing the Saviour in glory to believing man.
Things New and Old, Vol. 2

The Grace of God

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He hath anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor” (Luke 4:18). It was the characteristic of grace to come to such. The great business of Christ was to preach, that is, to present God. The Holy Spirit gives the right word at the right time and in the right way.
“This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears” (Luke 4:21). The Lord does not reason; He says, Here it is. The way of God is to present what we want. You want salvation; there it is. You want mercy, and there it is. God alone can have us come, by grace, into the place of a sinner. They wonder at His precious words, but soon ask, Is not this Joseph’s son? Was He ashamed of being the carpenter? Grace goes down to the lowest need. But man will take occasion to despise grace, because it is clothed in humiliation. He cannot but see God, but he steps aside to look at the humiliation and so show out the hatred of his heart.
God’s grace is despised and His sovereignty is hated. God did not despise Nazareth, but man despises Jesus because He came out of Nazareth. Even the guileless Nathaniel asks, “Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth?” How little appreciation of the way of grace there is even in the godly!
Christ comes into man’s misery and finds him where he is. Could an angel? No; he stays in his proper position, doing the Lord’s commandments and hearkening to the voice of His word. An angel ought not to come down to me in my sins; God only can in His grace. And man despises the lowliness to which grace brought Him wretched man!
“But I tell you of a truth, many widows were in Israel in the days of Elias, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, when great famine was throughout all the land; but unto none of them was Elias sent, save unto Sarepta, a city of Sidon, unto a woman that was a widow. And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Eliseus the prophet; and none of them was cleansed, saving Naaman the Syrian” (Luke 4:25-27).
But Israel ever resisted grace, and yet it was ever the way of God’s delight. Witness the widow of Sarepta in Sidon and Naaman, the Syrian leper. Grace overleaped the bounds of Israel. They might be enraged, but grace does overstep their limits. They rose up to thrust Him down who had denied their privileges, but He passed through (vs. 30) to renew the work of grace elsewhere.
J. N. Darby (from The Man of Sorrows)

Hands and Hearts

If I allow my work to get between my heart and the Master, it will be worth little. We can only effectually serve Christ as we are enjoying Him. It is while the heart dwells upon His person that the hands perform the most acceptable service to His name. None can minister Christ with power and freshness to others, if he is not feeding upon Christ for his own soul. Though he preach sermons, deliver lectures, utter prayers, write a book going through the entire routine of outward service if not occupied with Christ for himself, he will not minister Christ to others.
Happy is the man who ministers thus, whatever be the reception of his ministry. Should his ministry fail to attract attention or produce apparent results, he has not lost his sweet portion in Christ. But the man who is merely feeding upon the fruits of his ministry or delighting in the gratification and attention which it affords is nothing more than a mere pipe, conveying water to others and retaining only rust for itself. This is a sad condition to be in, and yet it is the condition of every servant who is more occupied with his work and its results than with the Master and His glory.
C. H. Mackintosh (adapted from Notes on the Pentateuch Exodus)

He Is Over All

He is over all, God blessed forevermore,
For He came to this earth,
This land of drought and dearth,
And He shed His precious blood
To bring us back to God.
He is over all, God blessed forevermore.
He is over all, God blessed forevermore.
Oh Saviour, what will it be,
When Thou hast home with Thee,
The children that Thou dost love,
There in Thy home above,
Thou art over all, God blessed forevermore.
He is over all, God blessed forevermore.
For this earth is yet to see
When He rules in equity,
For every knee will bow
Even if they do not now,
For He’s over all, God blessed forevermore.
E. Wilson
“God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).

How to Be Heavenly

Knowing what the heavenly calling is will not make me heavenly. The twelve had the personal experience of what Christ was for over three years. They had seen Him go up to heaven the Magnet that had drawn their hearts had gone up there.
In thought and affection, they knew that heaven was now the scene for them. He, being the center of their hearts, their affections follow Him there.
How am I to get heavenly? Get firm hold of the fact that Christ has gone up into heaven and has not come back. What do I possess if I have not Christ? Where have I got Him? In heaven!
G. V. Wigram

I Have a Saviour

I have a Saviour. He is in heaven and I upon earth. He has saved, is saving and will save me from all that He can find to save me from, until, having saved me from and through all, He will safely deliver me faithfully to Him who entrusted me to Him, to be my Saviour, even His Father and God. Possessed of such a One, I need to have nothing in my own hand.
I have a Saviour! Yes! I have not only a Saviour God, but God has given to me the Christ, His Christ, and He is my Saviour.
G. V. Wigram

"If Any Man Serve Me … "

How important then that the Lord’s servants be vigilant, prayerful, sober and that they habitually walk in the Spirit. Christ will then be their Object and will form the motives of life and service. They will be able to say in some sense, “For to me to live is Christ.”
Satan will not miss an opportunity for sifting such, but God allows the sifting in order to humble. The discovery is made that there is not the spirituality and devotedness as the servants had thought. This leads to a deeper sense of what divine grace has wrought in them, and this is what God can use.
They (and we all) need to beware of the decline in appreciation of divine love the weakening of affectionate fidelity to Christ. Once slipping away—“thou hast left thy first love” (Rev. 2:4)—the tendency is to accelerate this weakened condition.
They must not look for any position of outward public approval or to be anything other than poor and afflicted.
From a personal letter

Introduction to Psalm 23

This psalm may be read as a meditation of the Lord Jesus as He walked by faith in this world. He perfected the life of faith He was the author and finisher of it, so that we may read Him in this psalm.
It may be, however, also used as the language or experience of any believer. We who are weak in faith may long to realize such precious joy and liberty more and more richly.
J. G. Bellett

"It Is Written"

It is the written Word He ever uses, and Satan is powerless. What amazing importance Jesus gives the Scriptures! God now acts by the Word, and Satan is resisted morally in this way. A man cannot be touched by Satan while the Word is simply used in obedience. “He that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not” (1 John 5:18). It was not as an exercise of divine authority He dismissed Satan, but the enemy is proved unable to grapple with obedience to the Word of God. If he cannot take out of the path of obedience, he has no power. What more simple? Every child of God has the Holy Spirit acting by the Word to keep him.
Jesus does not reason with Satan. A single text silences when used in the power of the Spirit. The whole secret of strength in conflict is using the Word of God in the right way. One may say, I am not like this perfect Man. It might be so with Christ, but how can I expect the same result? True, we are ignorant and the flesh is in us, but God is always behind us, and He is faithful and will not suffer us to be tempted above that we are able. Temptations may be simply a trial of our obedience, as in Abraham’s case, not a snare to lead us astray. Satan presents what has no appearance of evil. The evil would be doing one’s own will. Now it solves every difficulty to ask, not, What harm is there in doing this or that, but, Why am I doing it? Is it for God or myself? What! am I to be always under this restraint? Ah! there the secret of our nature comes out. We do not like the restraint of doing what God will approve. It is restraint to do God’s will. We want to do our own will. To act merely because one must is law and not the guidance of the Spirit. The Word of God was the motive of Christ, and such is Christ’s guidance. Not fencing [in by law] the old man, but the new man living on the Word is our defense against Satan.
J. N. Darby (from The Man of Sorrows)

The Joy of the Father

God does not say, “Let him eat and be merry.” This would never do. God has His own joy in redemption. This sweet lesson is beautifully taught in Luke 15. The shepherd was glad to find his sheep. The woman was glad to find her piece of silver. The father was glad to embrace his son. God is glad to get back the lost one. The tide of joy that rolls through the hosts above, when a sinner returns, finds its exhaustless source in the bosom of God.
Who could listen to the words, “Let us eat and be merry,” issuing from the Father’s heart, and continue to doubt His love?
Things New and Old, Vol. 2

The Kingdom of God

The expression “kingdom of God” must be taken in its context to decide just what the Spirit of God has before Him in the passage of Scripture in which it is found. We have the setting up of the kingdom of God in its heavenly aspect in Luke 13:28 and in its earthly aspect in Mark 15:43. See also Luke 17:20; 19:11; 21:31.
We have its moral character in Romans 14:17. This moral character that began so blessedly at Pentecost has become corrupt. This the Lord alludes to in Luke 13:20-21. In its true character, one must be “born again” to enter it (John 3:3).
Paul preached the “kingdom of God”; that is, Paul preached the moral character of the kingdom, exhorting those who believed the gospel to walk worthy of God who had called them to His kingdom and glory (1 Thess. 2:12).
The eternal state will witness its true character in full display. “God... all in all” means that the true character of God will be seen in the whole of the new creation. How blessed and glorious that eternity of rest!
“Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness” (2 Pet. 3:11).
H. E. Hayhoe

The Kingdom of God

In the New Testament we find four aspects of the kingdom: (1) the kingdom of God, (2) the kingdom of heaven, (3) the kingdom of the Son of Man and (4) the kingdom of the Father. It is helpful for the believer to understand the significance of each of these terms. The kingdom of God is a general term including the other three aspects mentioned.
The Lord Jesus Christ is the center of all of God’s purposes for blessing. Ephesians 1:10 tells us that “all things... both which are in heaven, and which are on earth” are to be gathered “in one... in Christ.” So it will be in the coming day of the kingdom. The different aspects of the kingdom of God are related to God’s purposes for this earth and the place the Lord Jesus has, or will have, on the earth. Let us consider each of these four aspects in order to better understand them.
The Kingdom of God. The Lord Jesus was presented to Israel as their king. Matthew 12:28 reads, “The kingdom of God is come unto you.” This refers to the fact that the Lord Jesus was in their midst and was casting out devils (demons) by the Spirit of God. To the question of the Pharisees, “When is the kingdom of God coming?” the Lord Jesus answers, “The kingdom of God is in the midst of you” (Luke 17:21 JND). Because He was among them, the kingdom of God had come.
Notice here that the gospel of the kingdom was preached at this time and had as its subject Christ the king and His reign on earth. See Matthew 4:23; 9:35; Luke 4:43; 8:1 and Mark 1:14. Sadly, His earthly people Israel rejected this message. They also rejected the One the message was about, the Lord Jesus, the king of Israel, delivering Him instead into the hands of the Gentiles who crucified Him. We can see in Matthew 12:2430 that Israel, having accused Him of casting out demons by the power of the Devil, were subsequently set aside. Then the grace of God reaches out to all men in Matthew 13.
The Kingdom of Heaven. The king (Christ) is rejected and rules from heaven. This is the present state of the kingdom. The king has been rejected, crucified and received up into heaven. The Lord Jesus told His disciples at various times that the kingdom of heaven was at hand. By that He meant that it was coming soon. The kingdom of God, on the other hand, was in the midst of them. See Luke 17:21; Matthew 12:28; 4:17; 10:7. Matthew 11:11 is another proof that the kingdom of heaven was not yet come during our Lord’s life on earth because John the Baptist was not part of the kingdom of heaven. In Matthew 16:19 the Lord gives the keys to the kingdom of heaven to Peter. In Acts, Peter uses these keys to open its door to the Jews and to the Gentiles. Thus, it is after the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus that the kingdom of heaven begins.
The kingdom of heaven is the kingdom during the absence of the king. It includes all who make a profession of Christianity. We learn from Matthew 13 that some who are in the kingdom of heaven are real, while others are not. The kingdom of heaven is larger than the church because the church consists only of true believers. In the parable in Matthew 13:30 “the good” and “the bad” grow side by side, with the bad being judged at the end. “Thus it shall be in the completion of the age” (Matt. 13:40 JND).
There are ten parables in Matthew that are similitudes (or illustrations) of the kingdom of heaven. Six of these are in Matthew 13 (the first parable in this chapter is not a similitude of the kingdom of heaven), while the other four are in Matthew 18:23; 20:1; 22:2 and 25:1. The subjects of these last four are forgiveness, serving the Master, the refusal of the Jews to accept the gospel and bringing in the Gentiles (the beggars), and finally the coming of the Bridegroom and the blessing of true believers. All this has special importance in application to men living today. For example, if we know our sins forgiven, are we showing a spirit of forgiveness? Are we diligently laboring for Him in the vineyard? What is the individual’s attitude toward the invitation of the gospel? Are those who profess Christianity like the five wise virgins, or are they among the foolish virgins?
The Kingdom of the Son of Man. Christ personally returns and reigns over the earth. In the kingdom of the Son of Man, Christ (the Son of Man) comes in power and glory (Matt. 25:31; 24:30) and reigns for 1000 years. The judgments that fall upon the earth prior to the 1000-year reign of Christ are part of the kingdom of the Son of Man.
The Kingdom of the Father. This is the heavenly and eternal kingdom. This will be the portion of all true believers, and it begins after the kingdom of heaven draws to a close. While the kingdom of the Son of Man is being shaped and runs its course on earth, the kingdom of the Father simultaneously occurs in heaven. Those who were real during the time of the kingdom of heaven will be in the enjoyment of these two aspects of the kingdom.
In the kingdom of the Father those who are true believers during the time of the kingdom of heaven are gathered into His barn in heaven as good seed (Matt. 13:30) and will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father (Matt. 13:43). After the kingdom of the Son of Man comes to an end, the Son of Man turns the kingdom over to His Father (1 Cor. 15:24). The kingdom continues as the kingdom of the Father for eternity.
H. Brinkmann

Learning the Lord

You may learn “about” the Lord from many sources, including other believers. But to really “know” Him depends entirely on your individual walk with the Lord Jesus. How little we really “know” the Lord in our daily lives! Oh! to simply “know” Him as One to walk with, and that for His own company.
While it is true that we each have needs that He alone can meet, “knowing” Him in this way goes beyond simply having One that is “serving” us. Knowing Him in this way is more the thought of contentedness of companionship with Himself.
It is similar with our children. A child “knows” his father from its earliest days, but it grows in understanding. It is especially so with a son as he shares his father’s pathway, walking in the same steps his father walks in. I have noticed, too, that with sons there is a deepening appreciation of their father after their marriage and family life has begun.
In a similar way it is so with our walk with the Lord. He was yea, is a Man now and for eternity. If we “follow in His steps,” we walk with Him, coming to know the same feelings He experienced, learning to understand more of Him.
H. Short

"Leaving the Natural Use": Part 1

My opinion, like that of any, is of little importance, save as it might express God’s judgment of a matter. I have had upon my heart to pen “leaving the natural use” (Rom. 1:27), because I am persuaded that the misunderstanding, misplacement and misuse of nature is a paramount contributor to assemblies growing smaller and our spiritual state weakening.
I shall seek to consider, in this article, these three failures in the natural relationships associated with marriage. I write, not to reprove, but to awaken us to an awareness of the important role I believe nature has in relationship to spiritual development.
For many, our time of participation in this life is drawing to a close. What we have seen, or not seen, from the Word regarding nature, has had its effect already. I write with the desire that the younger Christians may see the principle of this subject in the Word and, by the grace and wisdom of God, benefit from this wonderful help we have in nature. “Doth not even nature itself teach you?” (1 Cor. 11:14).
All men, with the exception of Christ, have their first relationship with God in the realm of what Scripture calls “nature” (Rom. 1:26; 1 Cor. 11:14). In that relationship with God, man is identified as a “natural man” (1 Cor. 2:14). This is the kind of man the Lord God created when “the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” This was man’s original or first kind of relationship with the Lord God. Man had no existence before his creation in this manner. The earth we live on is the natural habitat of the natural man (Psa. 115:16). He was created “male and female” (Gen. 1:27), both together being called “man.” “The first man is of the earth, earthy” (1 Cor. 15:47). Sin entered into the world by that man, and one consequence of his sinning was death, and after death, “the judgment” (Heb. 9:27). Sin and death now mar man and his natural habitat (Rom. 8:22).
Responsibilities of Nature
As man (male and female) still on earth in this realm of nature, we have responsibilities that are proper to that condition of manhood, even though, through faith in Christ, we now belong to a new creation. “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature [or, there is a new creation ( JND)]” (2 Cor. 5:17). Of the believer it is said, “For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.... There is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:26-28). How we recognize and respond to those claims of nature affects, in a very great measure, our spiritual progress in what pertains to the new creation into which we now have been brought as children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. It is of grave consequence how we address the responsibilities of nature. They clearly have an influence on spiritual progress, both in ourselves and in those that know us. I do not speak of gaining entrance into the new creation by natural means. This cannot be done, for “flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Cor. 15:50).
Marriage: A Relationship of Nature
The subject before me is vast and found repeatedly in Scripture. I would like to emphasize family relationships in the realm of nature, considering marriage first. We see that the Spirit of God requires our giving attention to this relationship with our spiritual understanding. “Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is” (Eph. 5:17). “Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them [wives] according to knowledge” (1 Peter 3:7). Responsibilities relating to nature will exist until the passing away of the present heavens and earth and the ushering in of the new. “I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away.... For the former things are passed away” (Rev. 21:14).
A respected servant of Christ wrote regarding the natural relationship of marriage: “God had instituted marriage woe to him who should speak ill of it! But sin has come in, and all that is of nature, of the creature, is marred. God has introduced a power altogether above and outside nature that of the Spirit. To walk according to that power is the best thing; it is to walk outside the sphere in which sin acts. But it is rare; and positive sins are for the most part the effect of standing apart from that which God has ordained according to nature” (Synopsis, 1 Cor. 7, J. N. Darby).
Our failure to understand our roles in the realm of nature and not attending to the responsibilities proper to those roles have resulted in many sorrows in Christian lives and also hampered our spiritual progress. Once a believer marries, there are obligations pertaining to that relationship that cannot be neglected without serious consequences. When we, as believers, enter into this relationship of marriage, we are acknowledging we do not have the gift Paul spoke of in 1 Corinthians 7:7, nor the ability to walk altogether above and outside nature. I might add, in 1 Corinthians 7, the subject is chiefly a certain need men and women may have that can only be met in the marriage union. To meet that need outside of the marriage union is sin. What is before me is not confined to that particular need, but of the many needs of nature.
Nature As a Subject in Scripture
We will see that Paul himself was properly concerned about the realm of nature, and frequently addresses it, both as regards himself and as concerns all believers. It formed an important part of his ministry. We cannot live entirely above and outside the realm of nature as long as we are alive on this earth. We still bear the image of the earthy as we shall bear the image of the heavenly one (1 Cor. 15:49 JND).
Even our Lord Jesus Christ as He lived here on earth, prior to His resurrection, met the needs of the natural claims of others. He said concerning Himself, not “man shall not live by bread,” but that “man shall not live by bread alone.” He hungered as a man and, because He was a man, had that natural need. But such a natural need must be fulfilled with understanding as to its proper time and place according to the Father’s will. Would to God that this might be true of ourselves also.
H. Short
(to be continued)

"Leaving the Natural Use": Part 2

The following is the second in a series on the subject of the “misunderstanding, misplacement and misuse of natural relationships” begun in the October 1998 Christian Shepherd.
Misunderstanding in Marriage Relationships
We will now consider the “misunderstanding” of roles in nature. We will begin with Adam and his wife in the garden of Eden. Here all was pure, undefiled nature, and until it was neglected, man and his wife were to enjoy, not only Eden, but also visits with their God, who was a Spirit. “God is a spirit” (John 4:24). Adam was to “dress and keep it” (guard and till). This was his responsibility in this realm of nature as being the “first Adam,” its head. His failure as head was devastating, the tragic consequences still being felt by the human race today, not only upon nature, but it also has affected man’s relationship with his God. How did this failure by Adam as the “head” and his wife as his “body” display itself? (See Ephesians 5:23-33.)
Man’s and Woman’s Special Needs
Adam had a special need of a wife, even in his unfallen condition, as created by the Lord God. To meet this need of Adam, the woman was created. “Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man” (1 Cor. 11:9). However, the woman also had need of her mate. “Nevertheless neither is... the woman without the man, in the Lord.” The foundation truth of marriage is that it is a relationship based upon our need of each other in our proper marriage roles the man as head and the woman as the body. It was failure relating to these relationships that led to the fall of man in Eden (meaning “delight”). Consequently, instead of enjoying the fruit of this place of delight in properly held relationships, they were driven out of Eden. Misunderstanding of and failure to fulfill their roles in nature led to sin, resulting in travail, unspeakable sorrow and eventually death. Also lost was some form of communion and joy with their Creator God. I would now desire to consider their story, which was “written for our learning” (Rom. 15:4).
The Beautiful Oneness of Marriage
Upon woman’s creation, she was brought to the Man. He, as her head, named her, as he had the lower creation, for which he was also responsible. He said, “She shall be called Woman.” He entered into God’s mind concerning her, for “the Lord God... made... a woman.” Adam said, “Woman, because she was taken out of man” (Gen. 2). She was, practically, his body; he was her head. Then the precious truth relating to the marriage union is spoken by the Lord God: “They shall be one flesh.” Such harmony and beauty! And in nothing were they ashamed, for they were “one flesh.”
Testing and Failure
This first “revealed” truth of “oneness” is to be tested. After stating, “They shall be one flesh,” it immediately says, “And they were both naked.” The oneness had to do with the man being the head and the woman being the body the two roles composing one man (Gen. 1:27).
In the marriage relationship it is so, as it is so also with Christ and the church. They are looked at as one flesh (Eph. 5): Christ the head, the church His body, one flesh. The subtle serpent approaches the woman as if she were a responsible head unto whom God had spoken. He says, “Yea, hath God said, Ye [plural] shall not eat?” The Lord God had commanded the man, “Thou [singular] shalt not eat.” What might have been the result had the woman simply said, “The Lord God gave my husband those instructions; ask him”! She left her role as being his body, needing him as her head the “saviour of ” her “body” (Eph. 5:23). She left her place and was deceived—or, she was deceived and left her place.
The antitype, Christ and the church, as spoken of in Ephesians 5 is drawn from this portion in Genesis, which we are here considering. Was Adam the “saviour of the body” (Eph. 5:23)? Did he use God’s Word, which was given to him by God, to preserve his beloved wife his body blameless (Eph. 5:27)?
Oh! how he failed in his role as head in providing for the need that Eve had of him as saviour of the body. He did not provide the care that she, as his body, required to be preserved blameless. He failed, also, by allowing the serpent access into that garden he was responsible to guard and, how solemn, access to his beloved wife.
Beloved brethren, may we realize this work of the serpent was not a one-time act, nor is it now confined to the woman. “But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled [deceived] Eve through his subtlety , so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ [or, as to the Christ]” (2 Cor. 11:3). This, notice, was in connection with our being “espoused... to one husband” (2 Cor. 11:2).
Failure of Maintaining Roles in Marriage
Now consider the one named “Woman” by her husband. He had authority to name her, as being her head. Her mind having been corrupted (2 Cor. 11:3), she leaves her special place as having been taken from her husband’s body. She, being Adam’s body, did not need the tree that was “desired to make one wise [intelligent].” She had a head to look to, but she lost her sense of needing him as such and wanted, for herself, to become as a god, “knowing” that is, to have her own intelligence. The thought of “god” is a place of authority. (See Psalm 82.) It was unto gods “the word of God came” ( John 10:35).
This was, in truth, the role her husband had before God. He spoke to the man alone. Based on her order in creation, the Spirit of God through Paul writes, “Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve” (1 Tim. 2:11-13). As a result of her not keeping her place as Adam’s body and needing him as her head, it says, “The woman being deceived was in the transgression.” Her mind had been corrupted. She had not “the mind of Christ” (I speak of the antitype). Once there was this leaving of her place in nature, sin against their God soon followed. Failure in the realm of nature affected their proper relationship, work and communion with their God.
The Spiritual Effects of Failure
Can we, as men, relate to this? When we as husbands do not care for our beloved wives as our own bodies, allowing separation to come into this intimate relationship and broken communion with our wives, does this not affect our usefulness to the Lord? With both elders and deacons you find the expression “husband of one wife.” Beloved, this is not the same as saying “having one wife.” A man might be married and know nothing of what it means to be a husband.
If one did not know what being a husband meant, in the reality of life, he could not be given the spiritual responsibility of an elder, nor even the responsibility of a deacon, in God’s assembly.
Violations in the realm of nature hinder one in service to the house of God. One walking disorderly in the realm of nature was to be noted, and believers were to “have no company with him, that he may be ashamed” (2 Thess. 3). One who provides not for his own house “hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel” (1 Tim. 5:8). Again, we see failure in the realm of nature has an affect upon our spiritual state.
The Critical Necessity of Love in Marriage
In the next article, I would like to consider one thing that a man who is a husband is to provide the one who is his “one wife.” The foremost provision for a wife by her husband is love: “Husbands, love” (Eph. 5:25). Yes, for a husband to fulfill his responsibility in nature to his wife, he must love her.
H. Short (to be continued)

"Leaving the Natural Use": Part 3

The following is the third in a series on the subject of the “misunderstanding, misplacement and misuse of natural relationships,” begun in the October 1998 Christian Shepherd.
Christ’s Love A Pattern for Husbands
Let us consider the consequences of a husband not providing this love (Eph. 5:25) to his wife.
“Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity [love], I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal” (1 Cor. 13:1). To have the tongue of an “angel” is to speak as one who belongs to heaven. The truth of Christ and the church, of which Christ’s love is the pattern and the standard for husbands (Eph. 5), is connected with “heavenly places” (Eph. 13). In nature, marriage pictures this wonderful heavenly truth. “This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife” (Eph. 5:32-33). Were a husband to minister with the tongue of an “angel” these heavenly truths, while his own wife was not being loved, his ministry would be as “tinkling brass,” not more than “discordant” sound.
Oh beloved, could we expect our households to embrace the high heavenly truths which we seek to teach them when they see that the very “heart” and “motive” for the existence of these truths love is missing in the husband who is ministering them?
Then, should we understand all mysteries one being Christ and the church and all knowledge and “have not [love], I am nothing.” Beloved, as we seek to provide for our own household these wonderful truths we have come to “understand” and have “knowledge” of, let us remember that if our houses do not see the husband loving his wife, we will be as “nothing.” “Nothing” has no value to anyone. Truth we minister but deny in practice has little effect for good upon our families. Lot is a solemn testimony to us of this.
The Role of Wives in Marriage
Now we will consider the God-ordained place of wives, their role in nature and how it must affect others. “The husband is the head of the wife.... Therefore as the church is subject [subjected] unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything” (Eph. 5:23-24). Accompanying this submission, there is to be a meek and quiet spirit. For others to see the absence of a meek and quiet spirit in your professed subjection to your husband in the realm of nature has a devastating effect upon them in regards to the spiritual realm. “Teach... women... to be... obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed [evil spoken of]” (Titus 2:45).
“Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation [manner of life] of the wives; while they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear. Whose adorning... let it be the hidden man of the heart... even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price” (1 Peter 3:14).
Blessing Results From a Wife’s Obedience
Oh what a solemn thing for a Christian wife to weigh! Her failure in her role as wife can actually cause the precious Word of God to be evil spoken of and also can be a hindrance to her husband being “won.” That is, by fulfilling her role properly, her husband may be brought into obedience to the Word. Add to this the very solemn thought that a Christian wife’s behavior in her marriage can actually be used to the salvation of her husband, should she have one who is not saved. Subjected and Subject Then there is one more consideration that is of importance to the beloved wives mothers. I noted that the church was “subjected,” not necessarily “subject.” Surely we know the church has been anything but subject to Christ and, oh, what solemn consequences.
Should you choose not to be “subject” in your given role of “subjection,” consider the effect upon your house the house you are responsible to “build” (Prov. 14:1). You teach your “house” that disobedience to God’s Word is without consequence. Consider, beloved wife and mother, where did the woman’s being deceived lead her firstborn child? Does it not sober our hearts to have it recorded in God’s Word: “Cain, who was of that wicked one [the devil], and slew his brother.” What a price she paid to take the lead in the realm of nature!
Maintaining, not Misunderstanding Marriage
Finally, beloved ones, let us hear this word from God to those of us who have entered into this natural relationship of marriage. “Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them [our wives] according to knowledge, giving honor unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.” To be careless in maintaining the marriage relationship in its intended beauty, that beauty of expressing the wonderful spiritual relationship of Christ and the church, is to have our “prayers hindered.”
Yes, nature misunderstood and not properly held seriously affects our spiritual life. May we soberly weigh the consequences of misunderstanding our roles in nature.
H. Short
Lord willing, in the January 1999 issue of the Christian Shepherd we will continue this series with the subject of “misplaced marriages.”

"Looking Unto Jesus"

Only three words, but in those three words is the whole secret of life.
Looking Unto Jesus... in the Scriptures to learn what He is, what He has done, what He gives, what He desires; to find in His character our pattern, in His teachings our instruction, in His precepts our law, in His promises our support, in His person and in His work a full satisfaction provided for every need of our souls.
Looking Unto Jesus... crucified to find in His shed blood our ransom, our pardon, our peace.
Looking Unto Jesus... risen to find in Him the righteousness which alone makes us righteous, and permits us, all unworthy as we are, to draw near with boldness in His name to Him who is His Father and our Father, His God and our God.
Looking Unto Jesus... glorified to find in Him our heavenly advocate completing by His intercession the work inspired by His loving-kindness for our salvation (1 John 2:1), who even now is appearing for us before the face of God (Heb. 9:24), the kingly Priest, the spotless victim, continually bearing the iniquity of our holy things (Ex. 28:38).
Looking Unto Jesus... who gives repentance as well as forgiveness of sins (Acts 5:31), because He gives us the grace to recognize, to deplore, to confess and to forsake our transgressions.
Looking Unto Jesus... as long as we remain on the earth unto Jesus from moment to moment, without allowing ourselves to be distracted by memories of a past which we should leave behind us, nor by occupation with a future of which we know nothing.
T. Monod

The Man of God

We should not assume every believer to be a man of God. Even in the days of Timothy, many bore the Christian name who did not live as God’s men. Thus we find in 2 Timothy ample provision for the man of God in a perilous day, when all who will live godly must keep their eye steady on Christ—His name, person and Word—if they are to overcome. The epistle is also intensely individual. Its opening address is characteristic: “I thank God, whom I serve from my forefathers with pure conscience, that without ceasing I have remembrance of thee in my prayers night and day.”
The Apostle felt chilling influences fast creeping over the professing church. He himself had been deserted by many who had once walked with him in his service for the Lord. They had not abandoned the Christian profession, but they had left him—ashamed of “the testimony of our Lord” and of “his prisoner.”
Under such circumstances, the heart seeks individual faithfulness and affection. When surrounded by a large army of “good soldier[s] of Jesus Christ,” one is not so dependent upon individual fellowship. But as the general condition lowers—the majority proving faithless—individual grace and true affection are specially valued.
In 2 Timothy, it is interesting to notice that, both in reference to his own history and that of his beloved Timothy, Paul goes back to facts in their own individual paths—before they met one another—prior to their church associations. Paul had served God from his forefathers with pure conscience before he had known a fellow Christian. Now, deserted by his Christian companions, he continues on. So with Timothy: “I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice; and I am persuaded that in thee also.”
We see the “pure conscience” of Paul and the “unfeigned faith” of Timothy, indicating two grand moral qualities which all men of God must possess. A “pure conscience” leads us to walk before God while “unfeigned faith” enables us to walk with Him. Together, both are indispensable in forming the character of the true man of God.
Keeping a pure conscience before God in all our ways is vital. It leads us to refer everything to God and keeps us from being tossed hither and thither by every wave and current of human opinion.
If you take your tone from fellow man, being formed in a merely human mold, if your faith stands only in the wisdom of man, or if your object is to please men, then instead of being a man of God, you will become a member of a sect.
Many who might have proved useful workmen in His vineyard have failed by not maintaining the integrity of their individual character. They started on their course in the exercise of a pure conscience before God, pursuing the path marked out by a divine hand. They drew near to the fountain of holy Scripture and drank for themselves. But then, getting under human influence, truth was received secondhand and they became vendors of other men’s thoughts. Instead of supplying “rivers of living water,” they dropped into cold, systematized religion.
To maintain a “pure conscience” we must walk in communion with God and in a sense of our own personal responsibility to Him. This will not lessen real fellowship with all those who are true to Christ. If every “man in Christ” were acquitting himself thoroughly as “a man of God,” what blessed fellowship there would be!
The term “fellowship” is commonly used and little understood. Often it means nominal membership in a religious denomination, a fact which gives no guarantee of living communion with Christ or personal devotedness to His cause.
What is fellowship? It is having one common object with God—Christ known and enjoyed through the Spirit. What privilege, dignity and blessedness! To be allowed to have a common object with God Himself! To delight in the One in whom He delights! There can be nothing higher or more precious than this. It is now, as it shall be then, “with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ.”
Regarding fellowship one with another, it is, “If we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin” (1 John 1:7). We can only enjoy such fellowship as we walk in the presence of God. When we individually walk in communion with God, true fellowship one with another, in real heart enjoyment of Christ as our one common object and portion, is the happy result.
Fellowship is not discussing favorite doctrines or associating only with those who think and feel with us in some favorite dogma. It is delighting in Christ, in common with all those who are walking in the light. It is joint consecration of heart and soul to that blessed One who “loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood,” and thus, bringing us into the light of God’s presence, we walk with Him and one another. This is true Christian fellowship.
The man of God has to work amid all sorts of difficulties, sorrows and controversies. He has his niche to fill and, come what may, he must serve. The enemy may oppose, the world frown and the church be in ruins—still the man of God must move on regardless of all this. He must work in the sphere in which God has placed him and according to the gift bestowed upon him. How is this to be done? By listening to the exhortation, “Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands.”
The gift must be stirred up, else it may become useless. There is great danger of letting the gift drop into disuse through various discouraging circumstances. But a gift unused will become useless, while a gift stirred up grows and expands. It is not enough to possess a gift; the man of God must cultivate it and exercise it.
C. H. Mackintosh (adapted)

Marks of the Local Assembly

In Matthew 16:18 Christ builds His church. In John 11:52 He gathers together in one the children of God. In 1 Corinthians 12:13 all believers are baptized by one Spirit into one body. In Ephesians 4:4, “There is one body, and one Spirit.” All this speaks of unity. The church which Christ builds is one; the children of God which He gathers are one; the body is one. This is what God, in the power of the Spirit, has worked through Christ.
We find, too, in Scripture that the assembly in a city or a country place was a local representation of this one body, the church. It was the assembly of God in that place, and gathered on the principle that the assembly of God is one. The name of the Lord Jesus was that to which the saints were gathered. They were gathered to this name in the power of the Spirit and in obedience to the Word, and when gathered, Christ was in the midst of them (Matt. 18:20; 1 Cor. 12:12-13; Eph. 4:34).
Such was the local assembly as set up of God at the beginning. The marks are plain, and they show that in no sense was it a mere voluntary assembly formed by man’s will. Man’s will has no place in it, except as it may be introduced by the working of the flesh and contrary to the Spirit of God.
An assembly formed by man’s will would not be an assembly of God at all, even though a perfect imitation as to outward form and action. Alas, we know well the flesh may display itself in a shocking way, even in God’s assembly! But our failures do not mean that voluntary associations are God’s assembly.
Now we know that God allowed the assembly to be tested, and it was not long till sad failure came in. The flesh displayed itself in various ways and in schisms growing out of the worldly state which was allowed to go unjudged in the assembly.
These schisms were connected with heresies—schools of opinion allowed of God to arise in the assemblies to test their state. “For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you” (1 Cor. 11:19). Such schisms and heresies are in no way the fruit of the Spirit, manifested in the assembly.
A. H. Rule

Meditations on Psalm 23: 1-2

“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want” (vs. 1).
The first verse of this psalm gives us the all-sufficiency of Christ. No matter what the need or pressure, spiritual or physical, He is enough. We are learning this day by day. In Luke 22:35 He “said unto them, When I sent you without purse, and scrip, and shoes, lacked ye anything? And they said, Nothing.” In that coming day of glory, when we are in His presence, I believe He will ask us the same, “Lacked ye anything?” Our answer will be the overflow of our hearts as we exclaim, “Nothing!” As He sent the disciples in Luke, at times He sends us “without purse, and scrip, and shoes” so that He can show us His own fullness and love for us.
And it is more than “I do not want”; it is, “I shall not want.” This is His personal commitment to us for the path of faith! This gives rest from every fear, worry and “fret” (Psa. 37).
“He maketh me to lie down in green pastures” (vs. 2).
Conquered by His divine love, confident of His divine, never-failing supply, all our searching and wanderings are over. Mary who sat at the blessed Saviour’s feet (Luke 10:39) had found what she sought for. She was a captive of His love. The pastures are His, what He chooses, and thus all is well. It is not the green pastures that meet my need; it is Himself. We need not to seek to do anything to make ourselves happy. The Lord will do (and He alone can) that for us.
“He leadeth me beside the still waters” (vs. 2).
The sheep, thus happy and confident, is “led.” There is no question of “Where are we going?” only, “Who is leading?” Abraham went out “not knowing whither he went” (Heb. 11:8). The Lord Jesus says that Abraham “rejoiced to see My day: and he saw it, and was glad” ( John 8:56). We, too, will see and be glad! “Even so, come, Lord Jesus.”
(to be continued)
W. M. Warr

Meditations on Psalm 23: 3

“He restoreth my soul.”
I shall not want restoration! Forgetting His love and all that HE is for us, I sin and need restoration of soul: This we have in Him. Untiring, never-failing faithfulness at a time when we need it most, when we have sinned. He will never let us go. We are His forever.
“He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.”
Never wearying, He leads, restores and leads again. Yet He never changes; He is never other than what He is. His love and care for us are according to righteousness. His name is on us and He will be glorified in us as He leads us through this place where sin is.
B. Warr

Meditations on Psalm 23: 4

“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death” (vs. 4).
The path of righteousness leads through the valley of the shadow of death. “Valley” speaks of a low place, where we learn to look above the ominous, surrounding mountains unto the Lord for everything (Psa. 121). The “shadow” of death is that exposure to death which is the ultimate, needed trial for the flesh. “For we which live are alway delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh” (2 Cor. 4:11).
The flesh in us intrudes into the Lord’s things when we are not even aware of it. He righteously deals with its intrusion and triumphs over it, working blessings through His dealings. “I die daily,” says the Apostle Paul as he stood in jeopardy every hour, but he was encouraged by the blessings that the Lord wrought through his sufferings even the Corinthian believers (1 Cor. 15:31).
“I will fear no evil: for Thou art with me” (vs. 4).
Walking with Him in the valley we have no fear. “Thou art with me” is the sustaining comfort for our poor hearts. Before, we have spoken of Him (“The Lord is my shepherd”), but here we need to speak to Him (“Thou art with me”). Personal communion with Himself is the only thing that supports the heart in the valley of the shadow of death. It is for this that He leads us there, so that He can be everything to us and we can enjoy Him as He is enjoying us. Here we do not read of deliverance from the valley but of sustenance in it from Him who comforts us in all our tribulations.
“Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me” (vs. 4).
Thy rod: discipline. Thy staff: help, encouragement. Both are a comfort. Both are a token of His personal attention to each of His own. Satan wanted to try all of the disciples, but the Lord Jesus only granted him Peter (Luke 22:31-32), and He prayed that Peter’s faith would not fail even before it began.
W. Warr

Meditations on Psalm 23: 5

“Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies” (vs. 5).
The table of the Lord is in the valley of the shadow of death. His table is found where all that the flesh is, and can be, is relegated to the place of death. Likewise, we indicate that His table could be elsewhere when something of the flesh is resurrected and valued among us as acceptable before Him.
Communion with Him in the presence of my enemies would bring to mind the twelve spies sent into the enemy’s land by Moses, carrying the cluster of grapes between two men on a staff (Num. 13:23). The added burden would have exposed them to greater danger, but they valued the treasure and brought it all the way back for the benefit of their brethren.
“Thou anointest my head with oil.”
Here there is power to walk in intelligent joy. There is something extra needed to enjoy His table in the presence of our enemies, and He provides it. To the church at Philadelphia the Lord not only says, “Hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches,” but also, “Hold that fast which thou hast” something extra (Rev. 3). May this distinction be a warning to us who by His grace are gathered unto His name.
“My cup runneth over.”
There is a joy overflowing that cannot be contained a heart intelligently at His table, trusting Him as to the enemies, enjoying Him there. One has described us as often “half full, trying to run over.” Only the Spirit of God can correct this. Only He can fill to overflowing can pour in more than can be contained. This He does where He has liberty to direct the heart to Christ. Every thought of Christ fills to overflowing.
B. Warr

Meditations on Psalm 23: 6

“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life” (vs. 6).
“Surely.” There is no word like this out there in the whole world; it only belongs to us believers. It underlies our entire path, putting a smile on our lips in the midst of trials and difficulties. Among the greater lessons learned in the path of faith is that of the Spirit of God giving us to say and sing “surely.” Nothing past, present or future can change this certainty to faith, nor is there anything that can dampen the assurance that it gives.
Goodness and mercy have been likened to the sheepdogs that the shepherd uses. When a sheep wanders away, the shepherd sends one out to drive it back to himself. Our Shepherd has two sheepdogs, and He uses them to bring us back to Himself. His sheepdogs are goodness and mercy, though they are often cloaked as trials and afflictions.
Our lives here, being tried in this place where sin is, are very precious to the Lord. He does not lump them up into a bundle. He divides our path into days, and He values and delights in every one of them. Soon, at His feet, we’ll review each one with Him. Each day of the path will afford new occasions of communion with Him in eternity (2 Cor. 4:17).
“And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”
We will dwell in the house of the Lord as familiar friends, not as visitors or servants, but as sons. He has made His house our house forever. Here, for us Christians, we have more than the kingdom in view. Where the queen dwells in the kingdom, there will we be with Him. But without Him neither the house nor the kingdom nor all the glory of eternity would delight our hearts.
Here is the end and aim of the psalm: we enjoying Him as He enjoys us. All the pathway is to this end.
B. Warr

Ministry Led by the Spirit

The [general meetings] continue to be well attended, and the saints seem to feel benefited by them. However, we are getting away from the prophetic ministry and substituting teaching for it. 1 Corinthians 14 shows ministry of the character of prophecy speaking to the consciences of the saints by the Holy Spirit to be of great importance, and in time past we used to have it before us more largely.
Have the fleshly activities of some on previous occasions made us distrustful of this kind of ministry in [assemblies and general meetings]? Should we not be exercised for the suppression of the flesh rather than to limit God’s ministry in the general meetings to teaching? [Such a thing] emphasizes the evil days in which we live. My recollection is that general meetings were happiest when so called “open meetings” were more frequent, and prophetic ministry was most refreshing.
I quite understand that the flesh is present in every meeting, whether teaching or prophetic. But there should be exercise of soul and discipline, if need be, to curb the flesh. Above all, the Spirit should be free to guide as He will.
C. R. Kohler

Notice to Our Readers

“Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord” (Eph. 5:19).
We want to encourage our readers to send hymns and poetry, which they have written, to the Christian Shepherd. While we love and value the many beautiful hymns and poetry written in the past by brethren now home with the Lord we feel sure that there exist many beautiful and comforting hymns and spiritual songs written by brethren living today.
Lord willing, as soon as a suitable number of hymns or poems (see this month for an example) have been received, we will begin to include one in each future issue of the Christian Shepherd. We encourage brothers and sisters to send what they have written.
Please send directly to the editor (by U.S. mail or email) at the address listed below.

Noticing the Ducks

“Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him” (Gen. 5:24).
“Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together... but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching” (Heb. 10:25).
Have you noticed the ducks lately? Up here in Canada, as they do every fall, when the days get colder and darker, the ducks begin gathering more and more in groups and start flying in formation. While they are flying, they talk to each other by “honking.” Yet, when they settle down on the ground, they don’t talk to each other.
As it gets colder and darker, the ducks fly higher and higher until one day they’re gone! No one observes them go they’re just gone!
Let us talk of heavenly things together, and then—one day—we too will be gone!
D. B. Hayhoe

On the Assembly

The Gospel of Matthew presents, as we know, the Lord Jesus Christ as the Messiah, the Sent One, to Israel. However, He is rejected by the nation, and thus in this same gospel, after His rejection, He begins to speak of that which was to be established His assembly. In Matthew 16:16-18 the Lord speaks of what He is about to build and that “upon this rock [which is the Christ, the Son of the living God] I will build My church.”
He is speaking here of His universal assembly (“ekklesia,” which in the KJV is always rendered “church”) during the entire period between Pentecost (Acts 2) and His return to this earth.
It is remarkable that in this same gospel, the Lord also gives us His thoughts concerning a “local” assembly, though it may be composed of only two or three persons (Matt. 18:15-20). The time would come when He would make known to His brethren, as their present portion, the Father whom He came to reveal, when also these same redeemed ones would be gathered together in His name upon the earth. These words of the Lord reveal the character and duty of the local assembly, upon which He confers His authority to act on His behalf and in His name, so that the acts of the assembly are ratified in heaven. The epistles of Paul contain the development and application of Matthew 18:20.
The Lord’s words in Matthew 18 refer to a Christian assembly rather than a Jewish synagogue. He is speaking of a “local assembly,” not the “church universal.” This “local assembly” would be comprised (and should be so today) of all saints living in a locality.
An assembly decision is very serious: “Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven.” The assembly derives its authority from the Lord, is governed by His authority and administers according to the authority which He has conferred on it. What it binds or looses on earth is bound or loosed in heaven. The assembly binds and looses nothing in heaven its actions on earth are held in heaven as so done and are consequently to be considered so done by those who acknowledge the Lord’s presence in the midst.
In apostolic times, there were two authorities that of the assembly and that of the apostles. (See 1 Corinthians 5 as an example.) Today, only the authority of the “two or three” gathered in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ still exists as it will until He comes.
An assembly of God is shown to be so by the Lord’s table spread in its midst. Christians gathered together without the Lord’s table would not constitute an assembly because the Lord’s authority for administration is found in connection with the ordinance which calls Him to mind.
The truth of the unity of the body of Christ on earth is expressed in the Lord’s table, for we read, “We being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread” (1 Cor. 10:17). The oneness of the body is given practical, public expression by those who partake of the broken loaf in remembrance of Himself.
The Lord’s table is not the saint’s table. Because He alone has authority at His table, it is the solemn responsibility of each local assembly to watch and see that the Lord’s rights over His own table are maintained.
There can no more be many kinds of assemblies of God than there could exist two bodies of Christ upon the earth. For this reason, it is impossible that there should be many tables of the Lord, meeting and acting independently of each other. By breaking bread together, members of His body express the unity of that body. There is no other Scriptural way of breaking bread. A table spread without recognizing this principle is not “the Lord’s table.”
Believers do not sufficiently realize the gravity of an independent table. Such a table denies the unity of the body. The children of God are members of the body of Christ and cannot partake of the Lord’s supper at their pleasure. It is important that the collective action in taking this supper express the unity of the body otherwise such could not rightly be called the Lord’s table. Thus, actions taken in a local assembly of God must be so recognized in all the assemblies of God. Assemblies which so recognize local actions are not merely a confederacy, but rather give collective, public expression to the body of Christ.
In summary, let us consider this example: Suppose that all the assemblies of God upon the earth number 5,000 and that according to God’s thought all of His children in the world are found in these 5,000 assemblies. The Lord has given His authority (connected with His table) to each of these 5,000 assemblies. The Lord is Lord over them all (Eph. 4:5) and the Spirit acts and directs in each local assembly. While spiritual capacity and responsibility are in each assembly, there is universal, joint responsibility in which the actions of one assembly are accepted by all the others.
Suppose, however, that one of the 5,000 assemblies refuses to accept the action of another of the assemblies. By this sad circumstance, that assembly immediately becomes schismatic and sectarian, forfeiting its character as an assembly of God. By its actions, it has put itself out of communion with the rest of the assemblies, breaking fellowship with them.
If a person, free of all moral evil and perfectly upright in his personal Christian walk, comes from this schismatic assembly and visits one of those assemblies still gathered in fellowship, should he be received? We must answer, “No,” for unless he can prove to the contrary, he has endorsed and is in fellowship with the independent and schismatic position of the assembly from which he comes.
To receive such a person would be to receive the position of the assembly with whom he is in fellowship, which in turn would cause the receiving assembly to also be in fellowship with division.
The only way in which such an individual could be received would be for him to publicly disavow the independent action of the assembly from which he comes and remove himself personally from its fellowship.
We recognize that because of the sad ruin of professing Christianity, all of the children of God are not today found in assemblies. But the principle remains true and is applicable to all assemblies of those who gather to the name of the Lord Jesus, owning the truth of the one body of Christ and their individual responsibility as connected with this precious testimony.
F. Prod’hom Berthet (adapted from The Local Assembly and Its Responsibilities)

One Step at a Time

A year ago, when the present editor assumed the happy responsibility of editing the Christian Shepherd, beloved brother Gordon Hayhoe sent a poem as an encouragement in the work. I pasted it above my office computer screen where I am frequently reminded and comforted by it. Excerpts are printed below.
One Step at a Time
The New Year begins a new journey,
Just one step ahead we may see,
But looking to Jesus for guidance,
The way will be opened for thee.
One step at a time simply trusting
The One who is holding thy hand,
The One who with infinite wisdom
Each step of thy pathway has planned.
The Shepherd has marked out the pathway,
The end from beginning He knows;
But light He will give “as thou goest” –
One step at a time Jesus shows.
Faith rests on the One who is guiding,
And trusts Him who goeth before,
Whose love cheers and brightens the journey,
Whose presence gives joy evermore.

Our Burden-Bearer

When a problem overwhelms you
And you cannot see the way,
Find a quiet place to listen...
Hear what Jesus has to say.
There are times we overlook Him –
Times when we forget He’s there;
But He never will forsake us,
For He holds us all most dear.
Every single bit of worry,
Every single bit of grief,
If unburdened to our Saviour,
Will be blessed with sweet relief.
C. Mackewich

Our Lord Jesus Christ

His person is unknowable (Matt. 11:27).
His character is impeccable (Luke 1:35).
His wisdom is unassailable (Prov. 21:30).
His ways are indiscernible (Rom. 11:33).
His love is immeasurable ( John 15:13).
His glory is indescribable (1 Tim. 6:16).
His praise is ineffable (Rev. 5:11).
E. Tonn

The Power of the Word

It is interesting to know the progressive power of the Word of God. The Lord was preaching, as related at the close of Luke 4, and in so doing, as well as in the miracles He wrought, He was manifesting the power of goodness. Thus, in performing miracles, two purposes had to be accomplished: confirmation of the testimony given and present deliverance from the power of Satan. But His great business was preaching the kingdom of God. He will set up the kingdom in power by and by, but His great object then was, and is, to bring the heart into contact with God, and the Word does this more than miracles.
“The people pressed upon Him to hear the word of God” (Luke 5:1). In a measure even the unconverted are sensible of the presence of God. Adam was when he tried to hide himself. When the gospel is preached with power, crowds may be gathered together by it, touched, perhaps, by something new, but without fruit. So it was with the Lord’s preaching and miracles. We know their [the crowds’] motives were selfish often, yet He went on all the same. Come for the blessing of man, He would associate others with Himself in this work of grace, but He calls them in such a way as leaves no glory to man.
J. N. Darby (from The Man of Sorrows)

Prayer for Children

Gracious Lord, our children see,
By Thy mercy we are free,
But shall these, alas, remain
Subjects still of Satan’s reign?
Israel’s young ones, when of old
Pharaoh threatened to withhold,
Then Thy messenger said, “No;
Let the children also go.”
When in righteous ire the Lord
Drawing forth His dreadful sword,
Slew, with an avenging hand,
All the firstborn of the land,
Then Thy people’s doors He passed,
Where the bloody sign was placed;
Hear us now upon our knees
Plead the blood of Christ for these!
Lord, we tremble, for we know
How the fierce, malicious foe,
Wheeling round his watchful flight,
Keeps them ever in his sight.
Spread Thy pinions, King of kings!
Hide them safe beneath Thy wings;
Lest the ravenous bird of prey
Swoop and bear the brood away.
William Cowper
“The Son of Man is come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10).

The Presence of the Lord: Coming Into His Presence

Genesis 35:15
God said unto Jacob, Arise, go up to Bethel [house of God].... Then Jacob said unto his household, and to all that were with him, Put away the strange gods that are among you, and be clean, and change your garments: and let us arise, and go up to Bethel; and I will make there an altar unto God, who answered me in the day of my distress, and was with me in the way which I went.
The thought of going into the presence of God exercised Jacob’s conscience. The instructions he gave to his household in view of meeting Jehovah have much instruction for us. “Where two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matt. 18:20). Should we not be, as Jacob was, exercised about how we come into His blessed presence?
The first principle is, “Put away the strange gods that are among you.” Believers can be so occupied with this life its cares and its pleasures that thoughts of God are left out of the mind during the week. But when coming together to meet in His presence, the repairs on the car, the upcoming exam all such things which are right in their place are to be put away that the praise due Him be not hindered.
Next he says, “Be clean,” or, “Cleanse yourselves.” This ought to be a daily exercise rather than a Saturday night affair. Has the flesh been allowed in covetous thoughts, displays of anger or stubbornness? Let all such be confessed and forsaken. Then according to 1 Corinthians 11:28, where we are told to examine ourselves and then eat the Lord’s supper, we may come into His presence with a good conscience.
Then Jacob says, “Change your garments.” He would not think of coming into the presence of the Lord in his work clothes. The women busy with the children and the household needed to change too. Though there is no dress code for coming into the presence of the Lord, ought there not to be a conscience about how we appear before Him? Ought we not to have a higher standard of appearing in His blessed presence than how we would appear for a job interview before the world?
After all this preparation and only then does he say, “And let us arise, and go up to Bethel.” Jacob would not go until all was suitable for the presence of Jehovah. While Jacob was going to an altar to sacrifice, believers have the knowledge of a perfect and accomplished work for the sacrifice for sin at the cross. We go to a table where is placed what reminds us of what took place at the cross. The loaf first speaks of the one body of Christ composed of all believers. When broken it symbolizes the Lord’s body given for us in death. The cup, separate from the loaf, reminds us of His blood shed for us.
At last Jacob says, “God, who answered me in the day of my distress, and was with me in the way which I went.” This recalls to our minds the distress of our sins when we were weak and heavy laden. He came to us with salvation and has been with us ever since. “He hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee” (Heb. 13:5).
“They journeyed: and the terror of God was upon the cities that were round about them” (Gen. 35:5). “Who is he that will harm you, if ye be followers of that which is good?” (1 Peter 3:13). He gives peace to those who honor Him in these matters of which we have been speaking. Though we come to give Him the praise of which He is so worthy, there are times when we have come away with supreme joy in our own hearts. “Them that honor Me I will honor” (1 Sam. 2:30). “Without all contradiction the less is blessed of the better” (Heb. 7:7).
T. Roach

Present Truth: One

The church as “the house” and as “the body of Christ” began on the day of Pentecost. Acts 2 records the way in which it took place, and 1 Corinthians 12:13 tells us that all were then baptized by one Spirit into one body.
This was a “saved remnant” from among the Jews, to which were afterward added the Gentiles in Acts 10. This was fulfilling the word in John 10:16, which is correctly rendered “one flock,” and also the word in chapter 11:52, which speaks of the gathering together “in one” of the children of God that were scattered abroad.
Paul received by revelation the wondrous mystery of what had taken place: Christ and we are one (Eph. 3:17)!
We may get bad material when the church is viewed as the house, for man may add that which is not real, but all is good material when it is the body, for it is the Holy Spirit that unites to Christ in glory.
The “one loaf ” on the table in the breaking of bread is the precious symbol of this unity formed by the Spirit (1 Cor. 10:17). Such an assembly is an assembly “of the saints” (1 Cor. 14:33 JND).
H. E. Hayhoe

Present Truth: Sanctification

Sanctification precedes justification (1 Cor. 6:11). A person or a vessel sanctified is set apart to God absolutely and perfectly. “By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ” (Heb. 10:10).
This is our position always before God as the fruit of the work of Christ upon the cross. This is “positional sanctification” and never changes.
To sanctify the Lord of hosts is to have Him before us to the exclusion of all others. We give Him credit for all that He is as He has revealed Himself to us (Isa. 8:13).
Thy Word, Thyself reflecting,
Doth sanctify by truth,
Still leading on Thy children
With gentle heavenly growth.
Thus still the work proceedeth,
The work begun by grace,
For each is meet, and training,
Father, to see Thy face.
In the above verse it says “meet” that is, positionally sanctified and “training” that is, progressive sanctification, which is the practical application of the truth to our daily lives. Every believer is “positionally sanctified.”

Present Truth: The Church

The House of God
The word “church” means “called-out ones.” The first time the church is mentioned in Scripture is in Matthew 16:18. Here it is the “house of God” with Christ as the builder (Eph. 2:19-22; 1 Pet. 2:4-5). The “Rock” upon which it is built is Christ (1 Cor. 10:4).
When man builds, he has the warning as to bad material and its consequent judgment (1 Cor. 3:9-17). Peter does not get the keys of the church, nor of heaven, but of the kingdom of heaven. Thus Peter uses these keys to open the door of grace in the gospel to the Jews in Acts 2 and to the Gentiles in Acts 10. Peter refers to this in respect of the Gentiles in Acts 15:7.
To be a “living stone,” one must be born again, as Peter tells us in 1 Peter 1:23. In Peter’s second epistle, he shows the coming judgment upon those who are in the house, but not having life, they fall into corruption and are judged with the world.
The Christian is exhorted to have Christ as his pattern, as one in the house of God (1 Tim. 3:15). May we be exercised to show the true character of God as His children!
H. E. Hayhoe

Present Truth: The Coming of the Lord Jesus

The coming of the Lord Jesus is the Christian’s proper hope. This we see in 1 Thessalonians 1:9-10. We wait for God’s Son from heaven.
First Thessalonians 4:13-18 unfolds for the first time the manner in which it will take place. First Corinthians 15:51-57 unfolds the blessed revelation of an incorruptible and immortal body received in that day. Philippians 3:21 unfolds the truth that we shall have bodies of glory like Christ.
Every Old Testament scripture, without any exception whatsoever, mentioning the future coming of the Lord refers to the setting up of the kingdom on earth. When His coming in that character is spoken about, we come with Him, having previously been caught up to meet Him in the air (Zech. 14:5; Jude 14; Rev. 17:14).
“The Spirit and the bride say, Come.” May our hearts respond and say, “Even so, come, Lord Jesus” (Rev. 22:17,20).
H. E. Hayhoe

Present Truth: The Day of God

The expression “the day of God” in 2 Peter 3:12 refers to the eternal state. In the millennial reign of Christ, righteousness “reigns,” but in the eternal state, righteousness “dwells.” (See 2 Peter 3:13.)
First Corinthians 15:28 refers to the eternal state when Christ, as Son of Man, is head over all things.
Revelation 21:18 refers also to the eternal state—the first 5 verses, the state of the blessed; verses 6-7, the call in view of this; and verse 8, the awful state of the unbelieving.
First John 3:8 tells us that “for this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy [“undo,” JND] the works of the devil.” This will be the eternal state when all evil will be done away from the new creation.
The wicked are under the judgment of God still evil in their nature. In Revelation 22:11, they are unable to enter the new creation of manifested glory. The solemn, awful thought given of the Lord Himself is this: “The wrath of God abideth on him” (John 3:36).
Paul could find no words to convey the blessedness of coming glory for the believer, but the awful future of the unsaved is very solemn eternal punishment (Matt. 25:46).
The Lord’s Coming in Judgment
Every Old Testament scripture that speaks of the Lord’s coming reveals judgment. The prophetic page of Scripture is full of such warnings. The Lord in His ministry while on earth often referred to these coming judgments. This can be seen from Matthew 24, Mark 13 and Luke 17 and 20. He will then purge out of His earthly kingdom all things that offend and those who do iniquity (Matt. 13:41). Then earthly Jerusalem will be the center of government and the witness of righteousness and glory (Jer. 3:17; Ezek. 48:35; Joel 3:20-21; Amos 9:15).
Psalm 99:14 tells of the righteous judgment on the earth in that day. This will be the beginning of the day of the Lord, and its fruit will be millennial rest for a thousand years.
The New Jerusalem of Revelation 21 must not be confounded with the above. It is the “heavenly bride” and comes down from God out of heaven. It is seen above the earth not on it. This heavenly city is the church with Christ in glory the “better thing” of Hebrews 11:40.
H. E. Hayhoe

Proverbs: Chapter 23 (Selected Verses)

4. “Labor not to be rich: cease from thine own wisdom.” Do not trouble thyself with restless and tiresome labors to get a great estate: be not too thoughtfull, nor let thy cares be endless, about such matters; much less use any ill contrivances, which they may suggest to thee: no, nor depend so much upon thy own prudent management for the success of thy honest undertakings, as upon God’s blessing.
23. “Buy the truth, and sell it not; also wisdom, and instruction, and understanding.” Spare no cost nor pains to acquire the knowledge of what is true and false, good and bad; and do not think there is anything of equal price unto it: and therefore neglect not the study of it, though it were to get never so much money, or the highest honors; but prefer wisedom and vertue, and the means that instruct thee how to attain it, and to make thee able to doe good to others.
24-25. “The father of the righteous shall greatly rejoice: and he that begetteth a wise child shall have joy of him. Thy father and thy mother shall be glad, and she that bare thee shall rejoice.” Let not thy Father and Mother want this singular pleasure; but by thy well-doing fill the heart of her that bare thee with joy and triumph: who for all the pains and care she hath had in thy birth and about thy education, desires no other requital [repayment].
S. Patrick (1683)

Proverbs: Chapter 28 (Selected Verses)

13. “He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.” He that studies to hide or extenuate, rather than to leave his sins, shall be so far from escaping by his impudent denial, that he shall make himself obnoxious to severer punishments: but he that ingenuously acknowledges he hath done amiss; and not onely promises to doe so no more, but gives some proof of his amendment, shall obtain pardon both from God and man.
14. “Happy is the man that feareth alway: but he that hardeneth his heart shall fall into mischief.” From which happiness if he would not relapse, let him constantly preserve a pious fear and dread of God and of His displeasure in his mind; and be cautious and circumspect in all his actions: for if he be presumptuously confident and careless, and because God is so gracious regard neither His commands nor His threatnings; he will fall back into deeper guilt, and misery.
26. “He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool: but whoso walketh wisely, he shall be delivered.” He that relies wholly upon his own judgment, is like to miscarry; because he follows the conduct of a fool: but he that, distrusting himself, takes good advice and follows it, escapes many mischiefs, into which the other rashly runs; and is delivered out of many dangers, in which the other perishes.
S. Patrick (1683)

Proverbs: Chapter 29 (Selected Verses)

18. “Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.” Where there are none to instruct the people, and expound the will of God unto them, they first grow idle and careless, and then run into all licentiousness; till, growing refractory and ungovernable, they be abandoned by God to destruction: but when they are not only well taught, but also strictly observe the Laws of God, they remain in a prosperous and happy condition.
23. “A man’s pride shall bring him low: but honor shall uphold the humble in spirit.” Proud and contumelious behavior, instead of procuring men respect, throws them into the contempt and hatred of all; and at last into destruction: but he whose meek and lowly mind makes him kind and obliging, shall be highly esteemed; and the esteem he hath shall be his support, when others fall to ruin.
25. “The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the Lord shall be safe.” As all inordinate fear bereaves a man of counsel and power to help himself; so he that stands in too great fear of what men can doe unto him, will be insnared in many sins, and perils also, to avoid their displeasure: but he that confides in the Lord, hath his wits always about him, and, being raised above such low considerations, preserves his integrity; and that, by God’s good providence over him, will preserve him in safety.
S. Patrick (1683)

Proverbs: Chapter 30 (Selected Verses)

5. “Every word of God is pure: He is a shield unto them that put their trust in Him.” The most that any man can doe for thy satisfaction, is this; to send thee to the Book of God, and bid thee be content with what He hath there revealed of Himself, and of his Will; which in every part of it is so sincere, and free from all mixture of deceit, that thou mayst safely rely upon it; and take his word, that He will protect and defend all those, who, in obedience to his commands, trust Him for what He hath promised.
6. “Add thou not unto His words, lest He reprove thee, and thou be found a liar.” Let this suffice thee; and do not pretend to greater acquaintance with his will, than really thou hast; by adding anything of thy own to God’s word, and vouching it for his.
32. “If thou hast done foolishly in lifting up thyself, or if thou hast thought evil, lay thine hand upon thy mouth.” If thy pride or thy passion hath engaged thee, in some foolish action, whereby thou hast disgraced thy self; or made thee contrive and endeavor anything that is unwarrantable; do not add one fault to another, by excusing it, or blaming any body but thy self for it; much less by quarreling at those that admonish thee of it, and reprehend thee for it: but stop at the first motion to this, and silently acknowledge thy error.
S. Patrick (1683)

Proverbs: Chapter 31

And now, next to this, I shall commend a good Wife unto thee: In the choice of whom, a singular care ought to be employed. But alas! Such a woman as I would have is scarce, and hard to be found. One that is not onely industrious, but pious, and can command herself, as well as govern her family: being inricht with all those vertuous qualities, which make her far more valuable, than all the pearls or precious stones, that women love to be adorned withall.
I can onely give the character of her (which may serve to direct others as well as thee, in their search after such a person) in whose chastity, as well as prudence, frugality, and fidelity in ordering all affairs at home, her Husband hath such a confidence, that he may go abroad, and attend the publick affairs; without the least care or solicitude what will become of his domestick concerns.
She will not onely indeavour to answer his love, with an equal affection, but to provoke and excite it, by pleasing him in everything; and avoiding whatsoever is ungratefull to him: nay, by deserving well of him, and studying to promote the interest of him and of his family, and to maintain his honor and reputation; and that not onely by fits and in a good humor, but all the days of her life.
Idleness is so hatefull to her, that she need not be desired to employ her self in some piece of good houswifery: but of her own accord sets up a Linen and Woolen Manufacture; to which she applies her own hands so willingly, as well as dextrously, that it appears she delights in the work.
And therewith she maintains her family without expence, by carrying on as gainfull a traffic for foreign commodities (which she gets in exchange for these) as if her husband set out a Fleet of Merchant Ships; to fetch them from far distant Countries.
Nor doth she indulge her self in over much sleep, but is an early riser before the break of day; to make provision for those that are to go abroad to work in the fields; and to set her maidens their several tasks at home.
So far she is from wasting her husbands estate, that by her prudent management she continually increases it: first purchasing a field for corn, when she meets with one, that she judges worth her money; and then, out of the mere product of her own labors, adding a vineyard to it, which she causes to be well planted.
And as her diligence is unwearied, so she is neither slow in her dispatches, nor refuses any pains: but nimbly bestirs her self, and goes roundly (as we say) about her business: nay, exercises her arms to the strongest labors, both within doors and without. And she doth not think it beneath her quality to put her own hands to the spindle: but twists the thred or the yarn with her own fingers; and winds them with her own hands. Which she stretches out with no less forwardness to relieve the poor: being not onely for getting all she can, but for giving liberally, out of her gains, to needy people; whom she supplies cheerfully as well as bountifully; and extends her charity not onely to those who are near, but to those who are afar.
Yet such is her prudence withall, that her own Family and domestick Servants are in no danger to suffer hereby, in the hardest winter: for she provides them with change of raiment, and with double garments when the weather is cold.
And so are her husbands robes; which make him noted, when he comes into the Courts of Judicature, and sits among the Senatours of the Country: who call him a happy man in such a wife. Her wisedom, diligence and prudent management, gives him leasure to attend to such matters.
Her principal ornaments are, the firmness, constancy and vigor of her mind; her modest, comely and decent behavior; her generous and honorable way of dealing with every one: which (accompanied with the forenamed diligence, etc.) make her so happy, that they free her from all fear of what may be hereafter; and prepare her to meet old age, and death it self, with joyfull satisfaction.
Unto which add, this singular grace; that as she is neither silent nor talkative, so she loves not to talk of frivolous, but of serious things; of which, when occasion serves, she discourses pertinently and judiciously, not expressing her passion but her wisedom: which shows it self, not onely in the constant softness and sweetness of her unprovoking language; but in the instructions and exhortations she gives unto doing good.
But especially in her own family, where she narrowly observes the motions and manners of every one; whom she neither suffers to gad abroad at their pleasure, nor to labor at home without good instructions: but teaches them how to live as they ought; and by this, if she did nothing else, deserves the bread she eates.
Happy are the Sons of such a mother, whose care, both of their good Education, and to make provision for them, excites them, when they are grown up, to extoll her vertues: happy is the husband of such a wife, whom he can never sufficiently commend.
Daughters may doe much by their houswifry, but nothing like to the care of a vertuous wife; and of all the wives that have done worthily, and mightily advanced the state of their family, there were never any comparable unto thee.
A hansome shape and gracefull behavior is very taking; and so is a good complexion and lovely features: but, alas! as the greatest beauty soon fades and vanishes, so many ill qualities may lie concealed under goodly looks (which will utterly spoil all the happiness that a man promised himself, in such a choice) and therefore a truly religious woman, who dare not any way offend the Lord, is that amiable person, and she alone, who will please a man always, and deserve perpetual praises.
Let every one extoll her vertue, for I cannot do it enough; let her not want the just commendations of her pious labors: but while some are magnified for the nobleness of the stock from whence they spring, others for their fortune, others for their beauty; let the good deeds which she her self hath done be publickly praised; where if all men should be silent, her own works will declare her excellent worth.
S. Patrick (1683)

Proverbs: Chapters 24-25 (Selected Verses)

24:4. “And by knowledge shall the chambers be filled with all precious and pleasant riches.” For as true learning and knowledge is the best furniture of the mind; so it is best able to furnish every room in the house; not onely with all things necessary, but with what may serve for ornament and for the pleasure of life.
24:23. “These things also belong to the wise. It is not good to have respect of persons in judgment.” These things also that follow, belong to the wise and vertuous conduct of thy life. It is a very evil thing, if thou art a Judge, to consider the quality of the person (either his greatness, or his relation, or the friendship thou hast with him) and not the merits of the cause, that is brought before thee.
25:2. “It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honor of kings is to search out a matter.” The Almighty Creator and Sovereign of the world declares his supereminent Majesty, Authority and Wisdom (which cannot be ignorant of anything) and procures to himself the greatest veneration, by concealing the reasons of his decrees, and of his judgments: But earthly Princes, whose knowledge is very imperfect, doe themselves the greatest honor, when they decree and judge nothing but after the strictest search and examination; and give the clearest reason for their proceedings.
25:14. “Whoso boasteth himself of a false gift is like clouds and wind without rain.” He that raiseth high expectations by promising much, and then deceives them by performing little or nothing; leaves him, that depended on these promises, as sad as the Country people are; after the clouds have made a great show, and the wind a great sound, but are followed by no showers of rain.
S. Patrick (1683)

Proverbs: Chapters 26-27 (Selected Verses)

26:12. “Seest thou a man wise in his own conceit? there is more hope of a fool than of him.” Such a sottish person is hardly curable: and yet, if he be not altogether insensible of his folly, nor refuse admonition; there is more hope of his amendment, than of his who takes himself to be so wise and vertuous, that he despises his betters, and thinks he is above instruction.
27:2. “Let another man praise thee, and not thine own mouth; a stranger, and not thine own lips.” Be not so blinded with self-love, as to praise thy self; which is both indecent and imprudent, for others will onely the more undervalue thee: but take care to doe praiseworthy things, which will force commendations even from strangers and foreigners, who cannot be thought too partial to thee; for this will make thee truly honorable.
27:9. “Ointment and perfume rejoice the heart: so doth the sweetness of a man’s friend by hearty counsel.” As balsom and fragrant perfumes marvelously refresh and comfort the natural spirits, when they droop and are tired: so doth the very presence of a true-hearted Friend, and much more his faithful counsel, rejoyce a man’s soul; especially when he is at such a loss, that he knows not how to advise himself.
S. Patrick (1683)

Public Ministry: Responsibility to the Lord

(Editor’s Note: In these “perilous times,” it’s good to be reminded of the responsibility of those who minister publicly among Christians. Failure to follow the principles of Scripture can hurt the beloved sheep and lambs of Christ. The following adapted excerpts from an article by our late brother J. L. Erisman are presented with the desire that they might be a help and encouragement.)
Ephesians 2:20 teaches us that the church was built “upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner stone.” After the apostles left this scene the canon of Scripture being thus completed their ministry is seen as continuing until the Lord comes, through the Bible, the written Word of God.
When the Apostle Paul took his leave of the Ephesian elders (Acts 20:32), he does not commit them to the care of those who had associated with him in his ministry such as Timothy or Silas but to “God, and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified.”
Peter, speaking of his great exercise in writing, desired that believers might be “always in remembrance of these things, though ye know them, and be established in the present truth” (2 Peter 1:12-21).
Jude also teaches the necessity of having the Word, spoken by the apostles, before us (vs. 17), to fortify against the time when mockers should come, “who... walk after their own ungodly lusts.”
The Lord has given gifts to the church as a whole not to the local assembly showing that the one who has received the gift is responsible to the Giver as to where and when he is to go and what he is to give out. Also there is the servant’s responsibility regarding the right time, place and suitable state for ministry he gives (John 16:12; 1 Cor. 3:13).
There are times, too, when the desire of the servant may not be the Lord’s will. Even the beloved Apostle Paul was “forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia.” And “after they were come to Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithynia: but the Spirit suffered them not” (Acts 16:6-7).
Ephesians 4:15-16 teaches us the great importance of “speaking the truth in love” that there might be supplied the “effectual working in the measure of every part,” which “maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.” Thus, gifts used apart from love become nothing more than “sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal” (1 Cor. 13:1). The Lord is in the midst of His assembly and all are to be subject to Him those locally gathered as well as a visiting servant of the Lord.
In a letter dated January 31, 1839, J. N. Darby mentions: “With regard to speaking, those who speak in error ought to be stopped and those speaking from the flesh ought to be [lovingly] warned.... I could never understand why the church of God is to be the only place where flesh is to have its way unrestrained. I desire fullest liberty for the Spirit, but not the least for the flesh.”
Years later in 1867, Mr. Darby wrote: “Real subjection to the Holy Spirit with a sense of the Lord’s presence would at once put a stop to the thought of ‘exercising gift.’ A sense of His presence at once displaces all thoughts of self. It is indeed most grievous, when we go to wait upon the Lord and to enjoy His presence, to find some forward, all-sufficient one, making himself the center of the meeting, occupying the time, filling the minds of the brethren with painful thoughts about himself instead of happy thoughts about Christ, thus marring communion, interrupting worship and hindering blessing in every way.”
It is possible for one to mistakenly think he has a gift or to not be in a suited state of soul to use a real gift. This shows the great importance and value of having the fellowship of one’s brethren in such a path of service.
J. L. Erisman

Recreational Activities: "Wagons" for the Children

Recently, a dear Christian couple asked for suggestions for appropriate Christian recreational activities which they might enjoy together with their children, ages 10 and 11. This is an important issue requiring much parental discernment. Unfortunately today many activities that parents and children used to enjoy together are often available only in morally questionable or physically unsafe public environments.
Yet it is vital that Christian parents enjoy fun and recreation with their children, with the end in view that the hearts of these precious treasures be turned towards and won for the blessed Lord Jesus. The Spirit of God, through Paul the Apostle, teaches us that there is a time when a child is properly occupied with the things which “belonged to the child” (1 Cor. 13:11 JND). The world will always be ready to substitute its “things,” if parents become lax in meeting their children’s natural and right needs for recreational fun and activities.
For many Christian families, living with limited financial resources in larger metropolitan areas where yards and houses are small and conditions are crowded, healthy recreational activities may seem a difficult objective to attain. But while Scripture does not encourage believers to look for improvements in the moral conditions of this world, there never has been and never will be a time when God’s Word cannot give light and counsel for every detail of our lives. (See Psalm 119:105.)
“Then I proclaimed a fast there, at the river of Ahava, that we might afflict ourselves before our God, to seek of Him a right way for us, and for our little ones, and for all our substance” (Ezra 8:21).
The little remnant of captives desired to return to the place of God’s appointment Jerusalem and the land of God’s promises Israel. How sweet and instructive to notice that they realized that the children were going to need special care, and so they were specifically mentioned in their prayers.
The account of Joseph provides another lovely example of meeting special needs of children. Pharaoh had commanded him, “Take you wagons out of the land of Egypt for your little ones, and for your wives, and bring your father, and come.... And Joseph gave them wagons... and gave them provision for the way” (Gen. 45:19,21).
“Wagons for the little ones”! Ah! How important that parents learn to use the wagons that God has provided for them, as the means of bringing their beloved little ones into the presence of the Lord Jesus where they may be fed and preserved!
Such wagons may be natural or spiritual. Family Bible readings, hymn sings and visiting other believers are some of the spiritual wagons which parents have available for their use. But they also have the wagons of recreation, hobbies and other activities, which are found in nature’s realm.
While these natural activities should never become an “end” in themselves, they do provide a helpful “means” of conveying the “little ones” to Jesus. The “fathers” who led them through the wilderness to Egypt brought those in the wagons to Joseph. In moral application, today it is parents who bear the responsibility of making use of all means provided by the Lord for conveying their “little ones” into His blessed presence.
What then are some examples of children’s activities? In answer, one father said, “Start when they are young. Try biking, blind man’s bluff, hide-and-seek, and going to an inexpensive place to eat with a child. Do things that allow you to share yourself and your time with your children.”
In the realm of nature, parents cannot give anything more precious to their children than themselves and their time.
Another father said, “Though at times our schedule changes, we try to make Saturday evenings ‘games night.’ After supper we get out a game. Our 5-year-old favors ‘UNO.’ For our 13-year-old, games requiring more skill, such as ‘Crokinole’ or ‘Caroms,’ are fun.
“Because we are isolated, some Friday evenings one of the brothers will rent the gym at a school, inviting parents in the assembly to bring their children there for an evening of games and fellowship. At times one of the brothers also has a short talk from the Word of God. This is a good opportunity to build bonds of Christian friendship.”
Another father offered this: “Be a child like them. When he was five, one of my sons and I used to play a flight game on an old computer. In order to play ‘with’ him, I had to become a child in spirit. We both would put on our ‘flight helmets’ he was the pilot and I the navigator. The game was unimportant to me, but the imagination used and the time spent together was priceless.”
The principle is found with Elisha. “He went up, and lay upon the child, and put his mouth upon his mouth, and his eyes upon his eyes, and his hands upon his hands: and he stretched himself upon the child; and the flesh of the child waxed warm” (2 Kings 4:34). Though not easy, Elisha fully identified with that child where he was.
The last father further added, “If children like their home, they’ll not be looking elsewhere for fun. One day my son, with whom I played the computer flying game, came from school sad. ‘Dad, all my friends at school have a TV at home. They were surprised when I told them we don’t have one.’ I asked him, ‘How many of your friends have a computer game that needs their dad as copilot?’ He smiled, realizing he had something most of his friends at school didn’t have!”
The believers in Corinth had many teachers, but not many fathers. Let’s pray for grace to be more fathers for our children than teachers of them. “For though ye have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers” (1 Cor. 4:15).
In closing, let’s remember that God “heard the voice of the lad [Ishmael] where he [was]” (Gen. 21:17) in that harsh wilderness. Should not parents also be very attentive to their children’s needs, where they are, and seek in love to meet them?

Redeeming the Time

“And as thy servant was busy here and there, he was gone” (1 Kings 20:40).
An application of the word “he” in this passage would be an “opportunity” given to us by the Lord. He gives to each our own little service to do for Himself. One has a line of work different from that of another each having unique abilities or positions of service. Each believer touches the lives of others in distinctive ways. Each servant of the Lord meets with different situations and opportunities.
May we be encouraged, as the Lord may present such to us, to take them up faithfully, thus dispensing and receiving the intended blessings. How sad it would be to be so “busy here and there” that we neglect or do not take the time to do those things the Lord has marked out for us.
Communion with the Lord is vital if we are to properly balance daily “duties” and “responsibilities” with those special services which He may give each to do. Let us not be so busy about our daily tasks that the opportunity to provide some little service for the Lord “was gone.”
“Redeeming the time, because the days are evil” (Eph. 5:16).
W. Porter

"Redeeming the Time, Because the Days Are Evil."

Amazing scientific discoveries, extraordinary displays of human athletic ability, rapid advances in knowledge, spectacular architectural achievements, extraordinary technological advances the golden years of the sixth century before Christ had it all.
During one period of these years of exciting development and discovery, we have the account of a captive member of an outcast race, living in exile in a foreign land. However, it is obvious that he was not caught up in the “spirit” of that age of discovery. It seems very doubtful that the great social and moral philosophies of that day developed by Confucius, Zoroaster, Esop and Buddha were of the least interest to him. What we do know is that he diligently occupied himself with gaining a thorough knowledge of that which was despised by the world in which he lived the law of Jehovah given to Moses.
The world applauded Pythagoras when he introduced his system of mathematics, reverenced Nebuchadnezzar who built one of the “seven wonders of the world” (the hanging gardens of Babylon) and a half-mile tunnel under the river Euphrates, benefited from the system of banking and coinage existing in Babylon, and cheered athletes competing in the Olympic games in Athens. But it had no interest in the goals, interests or accomplishments of Ezra, the young man who was a direct descendent of Aaron, the high priest of Jehovah, the God of the nation of Israel.
There were no schools in Babylon where Ezra could learn the law of God. Nobody, except his own countrymen despised outcasts and exiles like himself had any interest in or appreciation of Scripture. Babylon, in all of its efforts at gaining knowledge and making advances in culture and technology, saw nothing of value in the “oracles of God” nothing which would help to achieve its goals.
What kept Ezra from giving up his faith in view of such obstacles? Why didn’t he, an obviously intelligent and gifted man, take the easy and popular path and join in the prevailing spirit of the world in which he lived? The answer is both beautiful and encouraging: “Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the law of the Lord, and to do it” (Ezra 7:10).
When, by the Spirit, Ezra heard that lovely, divine entreaty from Proverbs 23:26 “My son, give Me thine heart” he obeyed. Faith gave him to see that the “present evil world” was not worthy of his heart’s affections. Ezra saw what Abraham, the father of the faithful, had seen a city “whose builder and maker is God.” This he embraced, happily confessing that he was but a “pilgrim and stranger” in the world of Babylon with its vast ocean of human intelligence.
Ezra’s purpose of heart caused the great Persian monarch, Artaxerxes, to confess that “the wisdom of... God” was in his hand (Ezra 7:25). The books of Ezra and Nehemiah record the great blessing to God’s people which resulted from his faithfulness to God and his purpose of heart in obedience to the Word of God.
Today, believers live in times that are strikingly similar to Ezra’s. Current advances made in science, technology, medicine, telecommunications, engineering and all other areas of the human life are almost beyond comprehension. Knowledge is increasing at such an explosive rate that much of what a student has learned during four years of college training is outdated by the time he or she graduates!
In view of this, how important that Christians lay hold of what is really lasting that which is of eternal value! Faith alone can give eyes to see and purpose of heart to follow a path which realizes that the present world with all its grandeur and glory is a quickly passing and divinely judged scene. It recognizes, values and lays hold of that which is eternal and unchanging the Word of our blessed, unchanging God (Mal. 3:6; Matt. 24:35). May God grant that each believer, with renewed purpose of heart, follow the wonderful example of Ezra! “Whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation” (Heb. 13:7).
Ed. (historical information supplied by N. Berry)

Remembering Him

“Then spake the chief butler... I do remember my faults this day” (Gen. 41:9).
Joseph had not asked the butler to remember his faults, but to remember himself. Thankfulness to and love for Joseph should have motivated him to take advantage of the first opportunity to carry out his kind benefactor’s request. Instead, self-satisfaction and self-importance caused sad forgetfulness.
How much the butler lost! He lost a wonderful opportunity to comfort Joseph’s heart, a tremendous opportunity to speak well of Joseph in Pharaoh’s presence, and the butler’s forgetfulness kept Joseph in prison a place where he was hindered in blessing the people of Egypt.
Happily, the butler finally did remember Joseph. Confessing his “faults,” the butler began a course of events which through Joseph brought blessing to the world and to Jacob and his family.
May our blessed God exercise our hearts that we not forget our blessed Lord Jesus Christ. He said, “This do in remembrance of Me.” Should it not be the delight of each heart to answer that request as often as possible? Is not His worthiness and His joy at our remembrance of Himself motive enough for us?
“But think on me when it shall be well with thee, and show kindness, I pray thee, unto me, and make mention of me unto Pharaoh, and bring me out of this house” (Gen. 40:14).

Right and Wrong Anger

Anger is spoken of in two ways in Scripture the one a wrong fleshly response and the other a right and righteous reaction to sin.
In Cain (Gen. 4:6) and Esau (Gen. 27:41) we see fleshly anger resulting from envy and jealousy. Both Moses (Num. 20:10-11) and Jonah (Jonah 4:1) became impatient, which in turn caused them to become angry. Naaman’s anger (2 Kings 5:11) was caused by pride, while Asa (2 Chron. 16:10) and Uzziah (2 Chron. 26:19) were angered because of their own troubled consciences.
What sad, tragic consequences resulted from these fleshly displays of anger! The treatment, by man, of the Lord Jesus is the supreme example of such results. Envy, hatred and disbelief caused wicked men to murder the only perfect, spotless man who ever walked through this world!
Romans 12:19 and Matthew 5:22 forbid such anger. It is a characteristic of the flesh (Gal. 5:20) and of fools (Prov. 12:16; 27:3). It brings its own punishment (Job 5:2; Prov. 19:19) and bad words often stir it up (2 Sam. 19:43).
Ephesians 4:26 exhorts us to “be ye angry, and sin not” do not treasure up anger and malice in the heart. The Lord Jesus gives a perfect example of righteous anger in Mark 3:5. He was angry, “being grieved for the hardness of their hearts.” Desire for God’s glory is the foundation of righteous anger.
The Young Christian (adapted)

The Seasons of Man

When Jehovah, grieved in heart, destroyed the earth (save Noah’s ark), He smelled of sacrifice’s sweet savor, turned to man in gracious favor; And spreading sky with prismed bow, recorded words so all would know That seed and harvest, heat and cold, would never cease while time should hold. So, in this cycle (seasons four), we’ll find, no doubt, a treasured store, Reminder and a promise sure, o’er sin God’s grace shall e’er endure. For though sin brings each man’s demise, the dead in Christ shall surely rise; And though the winter death will bring, we see new life each following spring.
The life of man in freshness starts, and soon the plow rich soil parts. Each seed is planted, some with care, and some are scattered here and there. But each will grow and come to fruit, the good and bad will both take root; And as the season fades away, his seedtime yields to summer’s day.
The summer vine yields tender grape (if foxes small we rightly take, And sweet communion is maintained), for joy untold can be attained Where heart and mind are singly placed on Him who’s saved us by His grace. But men in prime cannot be blessed, if little sins are not confessed.
As autumn comes (and time to reap), two tales unfold to those who seek To know how days for them will close; One tells of brilliant trees and rows Of harvest’s richest, boundless store, of blessed days on yonder shore; The other of months without fruit, plucked up, in autumn, by the root.
Now winter comes to one and all, reminder cold of Adam’s fall. And, as all seasons seem as two, first—death is sad, and happy, too. For those in sin, a fast-locked door through which they’ll pass to live no more. But death can never have a sting for those whose souls to heaven it brings. So as you live your life this day, consider all your journey’s way. Your God will every moment keep, and what you sow, you’ll also reap: For good seed blessed, for bad seed cursed, when on your eyes His vision bursts, His praises you’ll leap forth and tell, or spend eternity in hell.
B. Short

Serving the Lord

As to our service, we have seen our precious Lord and Master, in profound self-abasement, wash the feet of His disciples, making Himself an example—for whom? For us, surely. Now I know, at the present time, of no service which is worthy of Him or agreeable to Him if it is not done in humiliation. This is not the time to speak of a place for ourselves. If the church of God, so dear to Christ, is dishonored in this world, if it is scattered, ignorant and afflicted, he who has the mind of Christ will always take the lowest place. True service of love will seek to give according to the need, and, because of their need, he will never think of slighting the objects of the Master’s love because of their necessity. Men taught of God, for His service, go forth from a place of strength where they have learned their own weakness and their own nothingness. They find that Jesus is everything in the presence of God, and Jesus is everything for them in all things and everywhere. Such men in the hands of the Holy Spirit are real helps for the children of God, and they will not contend for a place or a distinction or for authority among the scattered flock. The communion of a man with God about the church will show itself in a willingness to be nothing in himself, and such a one will rejoice in his heart to spend and to be spent.
J. N. Darby

Sitting at the Saviour's Feet

“Mary... sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard His word.”
Luke 10:39
Sitting at the Saviour’s feet,
Listening to His words so sweet:
Words of life and truth and grace,
Words that every fear erase.
At His feet we take our place,
From life’s hurried, busy pace;
Resting there Himself our joy –
Jesus Christ our hearts employ.
That good part we gladly choose,
In His presence thus to muse;
Drinking in each wise precept,
In our hearts each saying kept.
Thus may we continue there,
Meditating on His care,
Find a quiet, glad retreat,
Full resource at Jesus’ feet.
When we see Christ face to face,
At His feet we’ll take our place;
Of His ways forever learn;
Lord, we long for Thy return!
J. Hyland

The Son of God

In Matthew 26-27 we have the Lord Jesus Christ presented as both the Son of God and the King of the Jews. He was not put to death for any false witness. God would not allow that. His enemies could not agree anyway. But God would have the truth brought out about Him who is the truth (John 14:6). It is noteworthy that it is the Jews who ask Jesus: “Tell us whether Thou be the Christ, the Son of God.” Our blessed Lord Jesus responded, “Thou hast said” (ch. 26:63-68). That is, He acknowledged the truth, and for this they condemned Him to death. They spit in His face, struck Him and despitefully used Him, mocking Him all the while.
When standing before the Roman governor, Pilate asked Him, “Art Thou the King of the Jews?... Jesus said unto him, Thou sayest” (ch. 27:11). Again the blessed Saviour acknowledges that Pilate had spoken the truth as to His Person. The mockery of the Gentiles was based on this: “Hail, King of the Jews!” (vs. 29). Then the mocking of the Jewish priests, scribes and elders was, “He trusted in God; let Him deliver Him now, if He will have Him: for He said, I am the Son of God” (vs. 43). Neither group truly recognized who He was or they would not have acted as they did (1 Cor. 2:8).
“Now when the centurion... watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, [he] feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God” (vs. 54). What a refreshing example of faith exhibited in this Gentile soldier! He did not use the title, “King of the Jews,” but expressed the truth of the Lord Jesus’ Godhead glory: “the Son of God.”
What brought forth this wonderful confession from the Centurion? “Those things that were done.” This included hearing all that the blessed Lord said from the cross words uttered without a trace of bitterness or complaint: “Father, forgive them.... Today shalt thou be with Me in paradise.... My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?... Father, into Thy hands I commend My spirit.” What grace! What love! What beautiful submission! The centurion had witnessed the hours of darkness, the loud cry of victory just before He died all these things and their testimony was accepted by him in faith, for his eternal blessing.
T. Roach

Spiritual Pride in Days of Failure

Let us remember that we are living in a day of ruin the last days of the history of the church of God on earth. It is the day of the “great house” of 2 Timothy. In such a time let us see that we, as it were, eat the sin offering. Let us beware of setting ourselves up as those who have not failed. I tremble when I see a tendency to exalt ourselves by saying that we have kept the truth. If we say this, we have not learned our lesson well.
We are part of the ruin, and we need to be in the spirit of Daniel who prayed, “O Lord, the great and dreadful God, keeping the covenant and mercy to them that love Him, and to them that keep His commandments; we have sinned, and have committed iniquity, and have done wickedly, and have rebelled, even by departing from Thy precepts and from Thy judgments” (Dan. 9:45).
I am persuaded that if we set ourselves up to be something, God will show us that we are nothing. Let us beware of claiming to be superior to someone else. May we walk in the path of faith conscious of the fact that we are part of the failure that has come in among the Christian testimony. There is a way of maintaining the truth of the remnant testimony in these last days, but we need bowed heads, realizing that we are a part of Christendom’s failure.
P. Wilson

Studying Scripture

Before a believer begins to study Scripture as a lifetime pursuit, there must be a felt need in the soul. Then, Scripture can be taken up in fellowship with God, as life’s guide. Coming to God, finding his needs met, tasting that God is good, there is an increasing desire to know Him through the Scriptures (Phil. 3:716; 1 John 2:13-14).
The study of Scripture requires the illumination of the Holy Spirit. The Scriptures were not written to dazzle the intellect or to serve as a textbook on various subjects. They were not written exclusively for scholars, for man’s natural mind does not comprehend God’s revelation ( John 16:13-14; 1 John 2:20,27; 1 Cor. 2:14; Rom. 8:7; Job 33:14; John 3:35).
The study of Scripture requires the recognition of its divine inspiration, infallibility and absolute authority (2 Tim. 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:19-21; John 10:35).
The study of Scripture will cause the Christian to judge himself. It has been said that “when I read a book, I judge it. But when I read Scripture, it judges me.” The Bible deals directly with the state of soul before a holy God. Thus it is more difficult to learn than becoming proficient in some branch of natural wisdom. See Daniel 9:2 for an example of this.
In learning the Scriptures, patient and diligent study is required. (See Acts 17:11 and 1 Timothy 4:15-16.)
D. Newby

Tables of Devils

I have heard some rash people say that the various sectarian celebrations of the supper are tables of devils. But this proves only the unbrokenness and ignorance of him who says it. The heathen altars are called tables of devils because, and expressly because, what they offered, they offered to devils and not to God (Deut. 32:17). But to call Christian assemblies by profession, ignorant it may be of ecclesiastical truth and hence meeting wrongly, tables of devils is monstrous nonsense and shows the bad state of him who so talks. No sober man, no honest man, can deny that Scripture means something totally different.
There is no membership of brethren. Membership of an assembly is unknown in Scripture. It is members of Christ’s body. If people must be all of you, it is practically membership of your body. The Lord keep us from it.
J. N. Darby

"Thou Shalt Remember"

Deuteronomy 8:2
Shall we call to remembrance the days of our life
And not give Him praise for His care?
Shall we think of the heat and the dark of the way
But forget that the pillar was there?
Shall we speak of the thirst we endured in the heat,
Or the waters that flowed from the rock?
Of the leeks and the garlic which we left behind,
Or should we of the sweet manna talk?
Shall we think of the length of the path He marked out,
And not of the shoes that He gave?
How our feet did not swell, and our clothes waxed not old;
What a wonderful Father we have!
When serpents were sent to chasten us sore
For murmuring over our food,
Yet healing was found in a look at the cross,
And thus all things worked for our good.
His presence before us, His presence behind us,
The Ark in our midst day by day;
How shall we not thank Him and praise Him and bless Him
For every last step of the way
L. F. Jacobsen (11/91)
Jesus said: “Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).

Thoughts on Psalms

The book of Psalms starts with the word “Blessed.” The names “Messiah” and “Jehovah” (Lord) appear 270 times in the Psalms. This shows how much the “Person” occupied and filled David’s affections.
Because of their prophetic character, the Psalms are the expression of the Holy Spirit’s operation in the soul before it finds peace.
Psalms 1-41
This first book (division) is similar to Genesis: the Man, Christ associating Himself with the remnant of the latter days. Much personal history of the Messiah is found therein. This book ends with adoring worship (Psa. 41:13).
Psalms 42-72
This book is similar to Exodus: redemption work and Messiah identifying Himself with the godly of the land in the last days. Very few distinctly Kingdom or Messianic psalms are found in this second division. The faithful remnant call upon God as they are being taunted by apostates. Korah is mentioned 11 times. The second division ends with wondering worship (Psa. 72:18).
Psalms 73-89
The third division is like Leviticus, suggesting the sanctuary. Asaph is preeminently mentioned in this division. The third book tells of the history of all Israel from her rise in Egypt until her blessing under the rule of the Messiah in millennial glory and blessing. This division ends in ceaseless worship (Psa. 89:52).
Psalms 90-106
The fourth division is like Numbers. Moses and the wilderness are suggested to the heart. Successive announcements of Jehovah’s (Christ’s) coming and the blessing of His reign, His person and presence. These are joyous psalms. Jehovah’s relationship restored with restored Israel and the coming of Jehovah (Messiah) for the blessing of Israel and the whole creation is anticipated. The fourth book ends in submissive worship (Psa. 106:48).
Psalms 107-150
Somewhat similar to Deuteronomy—the law and land. David is often mentioned, and moral truths are contained in these chapters. There are many songs and much universal praise. Only in this book is there reference to Melchisedec. It closes in perfected worship (Psa. 150:6).
The three first divisions end with “Amen, and Amen,” while the two last divisions close with “Praise ye the Lord.”
N. Berry

Thoughts on the Psalms

The Book of Psalms is a collection of meditations, prayers and praises, uttered by various persons under various circumstances all, surely, under the moving of the Holy Spirit. It bears this title, “The Book of Psalms,” by inspired authority (Acts 1:20).
The psalms themselves are commemorative or prophetic or expressive of the present passage of the soul. They have all the variety of confession, supplication and praise; of doctrine, history and prophecy.
The Lord Jesus is seen and heard in them, either personally or mystically. Among them there are some to which we can attach a time and place in the history of the Lord, reading them, therefore, as the utterances of His heart under some given occasion. Such, for instance, is Psalm 22. Others are not so distinct in character, being meditations or experiences more undefined. Not all the psalms are utterances of the Lord Jesus. Psalm 1, for instance, is not His language, but God’s description of the blessed man. Jesus is, I doubt not, in the complete and perfect sense, the One described there.
Though the Psalms are properly spoken of as David’s, others such as Moses and Ezra may have been the penmen of some of them. David’s songs were “the songs of the Lord,” and by them he prophesied according to the mind of the Spirit. His tongue was “the pen of a ready writer.” The Lord, as the Apostle speaks, was “saying in David” (Heb. 4:7).
These “songs of the Lord” have great moral value in learning prophetic truths through the Psalms. They are not there treated as mere doctrines, but as the varied passions of the soul.
We tend to learn truth as an object by the mind, and then just talk about it. But in the Psalms, truth is delivered in company with the passions of the soul. The Psalms are, if I may so speak, the heart of the Divine Volume. There the affections of the renewed man find their seat and exercise.
Some of the psalms are dialogs between two or more individuals or a soliloquy. Some follow in order as chapters in a book, while others are to be read singly. Thus in reading the Psalms, the spiritual senses need to be exercised, for the mind of God can only be known by the Spirit of God.
J. G. Bellett (adapted from Short Meditations on the Psalms)

The Touch of Jesus' Hand

The leper came and worshipped too,
Humble, he could not stand,
To ask the Lord for cleansing through
The touch of Jesus’ hand.
He came just then, her health was dim,
Her fever to command.
She had no strength to ask of Him,
The touch of Jesus’ hand.
For two blind men mercy would be,
Their eyesight in demand.
By faith it was that they could see
The touch of Jesus’ hand.
The prayer of faith shall save the sick,
Belief held by a strand,
His will be done we can’t predict
The touch of Jesus’ hand.
T. P. Roach

Training Children

Many Christian parents, through a wrong application of the doctrines of grace, have allowed their children to grow up around them in willfulness and worldliness, and while so doing they have comforted themselves with the thought that they, as parents, could do nothing and that in God’s time their children would, if included in the eternal purpose, be gathered in. They have lost sight of the practical truth that the One who has decreed the end has fixed the means of reaching it, and it is the height of folly to think of gaining the end while neglecting the means.
Thou and Thy House
There are two things involved in it. In the first place, there is a precious privilege, and in the second place, a great responsibility. It is unquestionably the privilege of all Christian parents to count on God for their children, but it is also their solemn responsibility to bring up their children in “the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” And what does this “bringing up” involve? Perhaps very few parents understand what Christian training means or how it is to be carried on. One thing is certain: Christian training means a great deal more than drilling religion into our children, making the Bible a task-book, teaching our children to repeat texts and hymns like a parrot and turning the family circle into a school. It is very good to store the memory of a child with Scripture and hymns no one would think of calling this in question. But too frequently the reality is that religion is made weariness to the child, and the Bible becomes nothing more than a dreary schoolbook.
This will never do. What is really needed is to surround our children with a thoroughly Christian atmosphere, from their earliest moments let them breathe the pure air of the new creation let them see in their parents the genuine fruits of spiritual life: love, joy, peace, purity, tenderness, kindness, unselfishness and thoughtfulness of others. These characteristics have a mighty moral influence upon the plastic mind of the child, and the Spirit of God can assuredly use such in drawing the heart to Christ—the center and the source of all these beauteous graces and heavenly influences.
Parental Inconsistency: A Real Danger
On the other hand, who can describe the detrimental effect produced upon children by our inconsistencies, bad temper, selfish ways, worldliness and covetousness? While on this subject of training children we would, in true brotherly love, offer a suggestion to all Christian parents as to the immense importance of instilling a spirit of obedience. Are we then to be continually jerking the reins and brandishing the rod? By no means. This would be to break the spirit of the child, instead of subduing his will. Where parental authority is thoroughly established, the reins may lie gently on the neck and the rod be allowed to stand in the corner.
The real secret of successful training lies in the appropriate balance of firmness and tenderness. If from the very beginning parents establish their authority, they may exercise all the loving tenderness their hearts can desire or display. When the child is really made to feel that the reins and rod are under the direct control of wisdom and love not sour temper and arbitrary will there will be little difficulty in training the child.
Two Essential Ingredients in Education
Firmness and tenderness are the two essential ingredients in all sound education a firmness which the child will not dare to question and a tenderness which takes account of the child’s wants and desires. It is sad indeed if the idea which children form of parental authority be that of an arbitrary interference with, or a cold indifference to, their wishes and wants. It is not thus that our heavenly Father deals with us, and He is to be our model in this as in all else.
It is written, “Children, obey your parents in all things,” and, in beautiful balance, it is also written, “Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged.” Again, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right,” and, “Ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” The child must be taught to obey, but the obedient child must be allowed to breathe an atmosphere of tenderness and parental affection. This is the spirit of Christian education.
C. H. Mackintosh
(from Jehovah’s Demand and Satan’s Objections; supplied by P. Hadley)

Two Men Walking Together

Two men—Joshua and Caleb—walked together for 40 years, under the most trying circumstances imaginable. These two had seven things in common: the same faith, the same conflict, the same courage, the same starting point, the same path, the same purpose of heart and the same goal. Their trip across the desert with God’s people redeemed from the slavery of Pharaoh to the “promised land”—should have been a short trip, for the distance between Egypt and Canaan is only 120 miles. However, God’s dear people had many important lessons which would take 40 years for them to learn.
Their story should energize believers to walk through this world in faith and dependence upon the Lord. “Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples [types]: and they are written for our admonition” (1 Cor. 10:11). Peter writes to encourage us “that ye should follow His steps” (1 Peter 2:21). The day in which Joshua and Caleb lived (a picture of believers walking together with Christ through this world on our way to glory) is very much like our day a time of testing.
God had promised in Exodus 3:8, “I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them... unto a good land and a large, unto a land flowing with milk and honey.” And so, in Numbers 13, after a relatively quick crossing of the desert, the people arrive near the promised land. Because the people doubted what God said, He patiently allowed Moses to send twelve men (including Joshua and Caleb) to search out the land.
They searched the land in a complete circle by way of Hebron and Eschol and returned to the camp carrying its fruit (Num. 13:21-22). Hebron caught the eye and captivated the heart of Caleb. He walked upon it, in accordance with Joshua 14:9, “Surely the land whereon thy feet have trodden shall be thine inheritance.”
Hebron (which means “communion”) was notorious, for its inhabitants were giants. Though a fearful place to the natural eye, it was for Caleb a place of remembrance and desire all through the long wilderness journey that lay ahead.
What was so important that he should remember Hebron all those years? It was the place of the sepulcher of his fathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob—and because it spoke of death, there was no natural attraction to it. But for Caleb, the man of faith, it contained a glorious promise the promise of possessing God’s blessings by faith, which could never be enjoyed through the fathers, now dead.
Christ’s death on the cross is, for believers, the end of our old life. Colossians 3:3 says, “For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.”
Faith in the Midst of Unbelief
The twelve spies returned to the people who were awaiting their report. All twelve declared that it was a good land flowing with milk and honey. The fruits they carried back proved the truth of their report. But ten of the spies because they did not see the land with the eye of faith in unbelief said, “Nevertheless.” To them, the people were “strong....The cities are walled, and very great.... We saw the children of Anak [giants] there....The Amorites, dwell in the mountains....The Canaanites dwell by the sea.”
But Caleb, whose courage and faith in God “stilled the people,” spoke, “Let us go up at once, and possess it; for we are well able to overcome it.” The ten contradicted, saying, “We be not able to go up against the people; for they are stronger than we.”
Joshua and Caleb then spoke as one, “If the Lord delight in us, then He will bring us into this land, and give it us.” But the people, having given in to fear and unbelief, picked up stones to stop the voices of the faithful witnesses. God then intervened with the solemn message: Since the people refused to go, they must turn back to the desert, there to wander until every man over 20 years of age had died!
Long Years in the Wilderness
Back into the wilderness they went for those 40 long years. But Caleb carried in his heart an indelible print of Hebron. No discomfort of the wilderness journey could dim his vision, discourage his hope nor slacken his footsteps during all that time. Hebron was his one object. His thoughts were like King David’s: “Early will I seek Thee: my soul thirsteth for Thee, my flesh longeth for Thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is” (Psa. 63:1).
Like Caleb, believers today are to have their eye of faith fixed on glory: “While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen” (2 Cor. 4:18).
Entering Into Their Inheritance
The children of all who died finally entered the land. Only Joshua and Caleb were over 60 years of age. When the land was divided among the 12 tribes of Israel, only Joshua and Caleb received a personal inheritance: Hebron for Caleb (Josh. 14:13) and Timnath-serah for Joshua ( Josh. 19:49-50).
This pictures that coming day of glory when the Lord Jesus will receive His own personal inheritance (Psa. 16:56) and those who have by faith trusted in Him will enter into the full enjoyment of their promised blessings “an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you” (1 Peter 1:4). Colossians 3:24 assures us: “Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance.”
Lessons for Today
This Old Testament account has a powerful message for believers. It encourages us to walk by faith the heavenly road, which leads to glory. To the extent that we make this journey near to and in communion with the Lord Jesus, the world will lose its attraction. Through occupation with Christ in His death on the cross and His risen place in glory, our affections and energies will be stirred.
May we “wholly follow” the Lord as did Caleb! The Spirit of God mentions Caleb’s following by faith six times in Scripture a delight to God’s heart and a wonderful testimony to our hearts!
“Can two walk together, except they be agreed?” (Amos 3:3). “And they shall walk with Me in white: for they are worthy” (Rev. 3:4).
N. Berry (adapted)

Understanding the Bible

There is no book so remarkable as the Bible in this respect: no learning, no brightness of mind or imagination will ever, without the Holy Spirit’s power, enable any soul to seize, enjoy and [properly] use its communications. [People] may, no doubt, perceive one fact here and another there, but how to employ even these for good will never be known unless the Spirit of God gives us to look straight to Christ.
W. Kelly

Waiting to See Him

I believe that if I am near the Lord Jesus Christ, I shall find in His heart a special affection about a people down here who are waiting for Him not waiting for glory, but for Him, which is quite a different thing.
Do I love Him? Do I not know He was my Substitute? Do I not want to see Him? Has He not taken from my mind everything that harassed and perplexed me? Do I know that for [more than] eighteen hundred years He has been sitting at the right hand of God, with everything His own, but with a craving in His heart that will never be satisfied till He has us till He has me home with Himself?
Knowing this in nearness to Himself, can I be satisfied till I see Him face to face in the glory of all divine, uncreated light?
I do not so much think of the glory we shall enter into, but what my heart recognizes is the sweet truth that it is the Lord and myself that are to be in companionship together. Our going and His coming, though different things, are both connected with the deep consciousness formed in the heart that we are to be in Christ’s own individual presence and not till then, not till there satisfied.
G. V. Wigram

Walk Before God

Walk before God, and perfect be;
Care not for human eyes,
Which only what is outward see;
To heaven’s standard rise.
Be not afraid to let thy ways –
Each thought, each word, each deed –
Be tested by the searching rays
Which from His throne proceed.
Walk before God: be often where
No human eye can see;
And all thy heart to Him make bare;
From secret sins be free.
Thus all thine actions and thy ways
Shall His approval meet:
Thy life shall be a life of praise,
Its end a triumph sweet.
Walk before God: be not at ease
Though saints may think you right;
Be careful that Himself you please;
Be perfect in His sight.
The fear of man brings but a snare –
Care not for smile nor frown,
Misunderstood, still do and dare,
“That no man take thy crown.”
Walk before God: obey His word,
And yield to His demands;
Beware of calling Jesus Lord,
And slighting His commands.
Live for that moment when, unveiled,
Each secret thing shall be,
Which every eye but His has failed
Within thy breast to see.

Walking As a Man of God

“And she said unto her husband, Behold now, I perceive that this is an holy man of God, which passeth by us continually. Let us make a little chamber, I pray thee, on the wall; and let us set for him there a bed, and a table, and a stool, and a candlestick: and it shall be, when he cometh to us, that he shall turn in thither” (2 Kings 4:9-10).
It should be the desire of each renewed heart to walk in this dark world in the spirit of holiness and the character of a man of God. In the portion above, we read, “I perceive that this is an holy man of God.” There was that about Elisha’s life which bore public testimony that he was indeed a holy man of God. Today, in order to manifest the moral traits and characteristics of a “holy man of God,” believers need to employ spiritually the six physical elements that are mentioned in verse 10.
A Little Chamber
The Lord said in Matthew 6:6, “When thou prayest, enter into thy closet.” No matter how busy our schedules or how much pressure we feel, we must employ the little chamber. J. N. Darby said, “In prayer God is ours: power is put in motion.” The assembly prayer meeting is very important, but personal, prevailing intercession is vital to a holy man of God.
On the Wall
The wall in Scripture speaks of separation. James 4:4 tells us that “the friendship of the world is enmity with God.” Though separation is not a popular path, who can properly estimate the value and necessity of separation from “a wicked and adulterous generation” a “perverse nation”?
An excellent definition of holiness is abhorrence of that which is evil and delight in that which is good and of God. “Blessed are the undefiled in the way” (Psa. 119:1). The principle of separation is vital for believers who desire to be kept from the terribly defiling scene through which we walk.
Let Us Set for Him There a Bed
Though the bed at times in Scripture is used in a negative sense, here we find a positive application: “Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him” (Psalm 37:7). How sweet, how blessed amidst a tumultuous world to enjoy the quiet repose that the beloved Apostle John enjoyed as one who leaned on Jesus’ bosom. No matter how dark and dismal our present circumstances may be, we can use the bed and enjoy in His blessed presence sweet peace that “passeth all understanding.”
And a Table
The table would bring before us the thought of personal communion with our Lord. “I will come in to him, and will sup with him” (Rev. 3:20). It is a most precious privilege to be able to enjoy the sweet communion of the Lord’s table collectively. But how vital to also enjoy personal, intimate communion with our God sharing, in His blessed presence, common thoughts about His well-beloved Son.
And a Stool
The stool reminds me of the famous sculpture of a man, seated on a stool, deep in thought, entitled, “The Thinker.” I’d like to make application of the stool in that way. Paul instructed Timothy, “Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them” (1 Tim. 4:15).
Though meditation seems to be a “lost art,” it is vital that a holy man of God be characterized by meditation on the Word. Philippians 4:8 is the divine blueprint for our thoughts. How quickly our minds resort to carnal things or to negative things among the saints. Let us persevere and overcome by using the stool to dwell on the glories of the blessed Man seated on the right hand of God. Such occupation will foster also proper thoughts of our brethren as well. “Draw me, we will run after Thee” (Song of Sol. 1:4).
And a Candlestick
The candlestick would bring before us the thought of light and testimony. “A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid” (Matt. 5:14). “We do not well: this day is a day of good tidings, and we hold our peace” (2 Kings 7:9). How we need to let our light—the light of our precious Saviour who identified Himself as “the light of the world”—shine in this dark world!
Ephesians 5:8 tells us, “Ye were sometime darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light.” The children of Israel had “light in their dwellings.” For all eternity we will walk in the light of the Lamb (Rev. 21:23). May “we walk in the light, as He is in the light” walking as holy men of God—even now!
R. Ruga

The Water of the Word and the Bread of God

In order to produce milk, the average cow needs to drink at least 30 liters of water per day and must spend at least 8 hours each day eating.
As Christians, we can learn much from the humble cow. Are we satisfied with quickly reading a few verses each day from the Word of God, expecting that this will provide enough “food” and “water” to make us productive servants for our blessed Lord Jesus Christ?
“In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto Me, and drink” (John 7:37).
“Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to Me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on Me shall never thirst” (John 6:35).
K. Heslop

Waters of Blessing

In Ezekiel 47:1-12 the waters of blessing are seen issuing out of the temple. This time looks forward to the millennium.
But the Lord has already gone into the temple and imparted life to those who hear. Now they who believe are satisfied and replace (for the present day) the temple as the place from which these waters of “healing and blessing” flow out to the world. “He that believeth on Me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water” (John 7:38).
H. Short

The Ways of God: 1 - The Calling of the Church

In Ephesians 1 we find that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ (looked upon here as the exalted and glorified Man) had raised Him from among the dead and “set Him at His own right hand in the [heavenlies]... and hath put all things [in subjection] under His feet, and given Him to be the head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him that filleth all in all.” Thus we find Him raised and seated in the heavenlies, as the glorified Man, all things not yet visibly put under Him, but His title declared, and while, as the expectant Heir, He is seated there, a work is going on of quickening, raising up and seating together with Him the second Adam in the heavenly places, the joint-heirs of all His glory. What a magnificent work that not only are we blessed through Him and His work on the cross, but we are blessed with Him! He has conferred upon us every dignity, glory and honor that has been conferred upon Christ Himself.
God is the source of such infinite blessings, our Lord Jesus Christ is the measure of them, and we—believers who were dead in trespasses and sins—are the objects of them.
The work of quickening, raising up and uniting to Him as joint-heirs is the work of the Holy Spirit since His descent at Pentecost. Though, since the fall of man, sinners have been born again by the Holy Spirit through the Word of God, such individual salvation is not the same as the church of God.
The Place Occupied by the Church
Collectively, the church occupies a place beyond all that which went before and is peculiar to the interval in which we live. It was reserved for the time of Christ’s humiliation, death, resurrection and ascension as man to God’s right hand in glory to bring out the mystery which from the beginning of the ages had been hid in God the mystery of “Christ and the church.”
In Matthew 16 the Lord declares the foundation of this work in Himself, as Son of the living God. He speaks of the church as that which was to come. Though Peter, to whom the Lord was speaking, learned afterward the true meaning of the foundation He had declared (see 1 Peter 2:5), the revelation of the mystery of Christ and the church is entrusted alone to the Apostle Paul.
When the Lord was here, He had disciples. But they were not yet baptized into one body (and that with Gentiles) and united by the Holy Spirit to a glorified Man in heaven. Until the cross, the middle wall of partition between the Jew and the Gentile had not been removed.
The Church in the Counsels of God
In Ephesians 1 Paul speaks of the purpose and counsel of God and adds His future purpose to be executed in the dispensation of the fullness of times when all things have been gathered together in heaven and earth under the headship of Christ.
In Ephesians 2 Paul sees both Jew and Gentile dead in trespasses and sins, as children of the first Adam and, speaking of the favored Jew, writes, “Among whom also we... were... children of wrath, even as others.” Going on we find that Christ “hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition... for to make in Himself of twain one new man, so making peace; and that He might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby.” Thus we find that the cross itself is the foundation of this unity of Jew and Gentile in one body by the presence of the Holy Spirit come down from heaven. By the presence of the Holy Spirit indwelling individually every believer, He unites all Christ’s members collectively in one body in Christ.
The Work of the Holy Spirit in the Church
It is important to understand that the Holy Spirit wrought before He came. He came at Pentecost, having never dwelt here until redemption was accomplished. Though there were believers before His descent, still it was on believers, as such, that the Holy Spirit was to be bestowed. (See John 7:37-39.)
We find an example of this in Acts 19. Long after the Pentecostal gift of the Holy Spirit, Paul finds certain disciples at Ephesus. He asks them, “Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed?” They reply, “We did not even hear if the Holy Spirit was come” (vs. 2 JND). After learning that they had been baptized to John’s baptism of repentance that they were believers as far as they had heard, though they had not as yet received the Holy Spirit Paul lays his hands on them and the Holy Spirit comes upon them.
The Holy Spirit Indwelling and Presence
Not understanding the difference between the Holy Spirit’s presence upon earth and His indwelling each believer, uniting them to Christ in glory, is the reason for the low spiritual state of many Christians. Many think that Christianity is a sort of spiritualized Judaism and that saints, as to their state, are only a little in advance of those before the descent of the Holy Spirit.
Such misunderstanding leads many true believers today to wrongly (though in earnest reality) utter the prayer of David, “Take not Thy holy spirit from me.” Other true believers today are continually praying for the Holy Spirit to be poured out upon them.
But a saint truly instructed in Christianity could not use such prayers. He knows that he has received the Spirit now as he has eternal life from God and by faith and consequent upon redemption.
Though a Christian, by unfaithfulness, might grieve the Holy Spirit very much (even so as to think he had never had the Spirit at all), he could never with the least intelligence in Christianity say, “Take not Thy holy spirit from me.” We see in Romans 8 that the Spirit is the principle of our relationship with God. Christian life is life in the Spirit life dependent upon accomplished redemption.
F. G. Patterson (adapted)
(to be continued)

The Ways of God: 2 - The Times of the Gentiles

We have previously noted that the “times of the Gentiles” began when God pronounced “Lo-ammi” (Hosea 1:9) on the Jews and the Glory (the symbol of Jehovah’s presence) departed from their midst.
Just before the time when the two tribes Judah and Benjamin were carried into captivity, God sent His prophet to Zedekiah, king of Judah, and to the kings of Moab and Edom, for they were plotting to throw off the yoke of the king of Babylon.
But God’s message to them was, “I have made the earth, the man and the beast that are upon the ground, by My great power and by My outstretched arm, and have given it unto whom it seemed meet unto Me. And now have I given all these lands into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, My servant.... Bring your necks under the yoke of the king of Babylon, and serve him and his people, and live” (Jer. 27:5-12).
It is with this Gentile power and those which succeed him until the end of their times that we have now to do.
Four Gentile Powers
In Daniel 2:31-45 we read of the interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream. The image whose head was gold, breast and arms silver, belly and thighs brass, legs of iron and feet of iron and clay typifies Gentile power from the days of Nebuchadnezzar till its close when the Gentile kingdom is broken to pieces and destroyed.
That which is used to smite it thus is a stone “cut... without hands” (a picture of Christ). His kingdom, set up by the God of heaven, smites the image which Nebuchadnezzar saw, inflicting such crushing judgment that it becomes like chaff and is carried away by the wind. The “stone” that executed this judgment then becomes a “great mountain” and fills the whole earth.
Character of the Gentile Powers
These Gentile powers exist in different stages, each one being inferior to the previous. The “head of gold” was Babylon. The king ruled as absolute monarch with full, unquestioned authority.
The “breast and... arms of silver” refer to the Medo-Persian empire and ushered in an inferior power whose authority was not absolute. The rule of this kingdom was divided between the “satraps” and “princes” who were under the king (Dan. 6:1 JND; Esther 1).
The third kingdom of brass refers to the even more inferior Grecian power and the fourth kingdom of iron and clay, which was yet more inferior, was the Roman Empire.
The great point to understand is that the great power given to these Gentile kingdoms runs on till one great, crushing act of complete judgment (yet to be executed) carries it all away, leaving not a trace of it. The “stone... cut out without hands” replaces it and then fills the whole earth.
Christ’s Kingdom Is Not the Gospel of Grace
It should be emphasized that it is “yet to be executed” because often this kingdom yet to come, which destroys the others, filling the earth is misapplied to the gospel message. But grace or the gospel of God’s grace is never represented in Scripture as carrying out such a solemn judgment. In the first place, the image did not exist in its last state (iron and clay feet) in the beginning of the gospel-day. In the next, it is on them the blow is struck a crushing act of judgment, not grace. Further, the first act of the Stone is an act of judgment before beginning to grow and fill the earth.
Prophecy Concerning the Gentile Powers
In Daniel 7 we have prophecies relating to these four powers, previously mentioned. There they are given the character of ravening beasts. From this passage, and others, we learn that the fourth power, characterized by “iron and clay,” has not yet completely fulfilled the prophecies given of it in Daniel 7.
In summary, from Scripture we see that four great kingdoms arose, the last of which was the Roman empire, which was in existence when John the Apostle wrote the Revelation.
This empire existed, more or less, for hundreds of years until it was finally broken up. We learn that in a coming day, this Latin empire (presently no longer in existence) will be restored and, in its new form, will be the ready tool of Satan. At the end, this power will openly rebel against Christ, who will have come to take possession of His world-kingdom. The Lord Himself will put an end to this Gentile power. It is here that the history of the times of the Gentiles is closed.
F. G. Patterson (adapted)
(to be continued)

"Where Wilt Thou?"

When I was a freshman in Queens College, I became very concerned about matters of fellowship and decided the best way to get the Lord’s mind about where to break bread was to study thoroughly the history of the “brethren” movement. Accordingly, I wrote my freshman term paper for English on that very subject. To prepare myself, I read every book and pamphlet I could lay my hands on all expressing a wide diversity of viewpoints. The result was that I ended up more in the dark than when I started!
Then one morning, when reading in Luke 22, I noted that Peter and John asked the Lord, “Where wilt Thou that we prepare?” I was intrigued that the Lord gave them very specific directions. Suddenly it dawned on me that I had NEVER ASKED HIM! So I did, and I believe He showed me just as clearly as Peter and John were shown where He is in the midst.
R. K. Gorgas

A Word in Season - 1

“And all bare Him witness, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of His mouth” (Luke 4:22).
“But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into Him in all things, which is the head, even Christ” (Eph. 4:15).
The following excerpt from an 1870 letter of Mr. Darby is particularly appropriate and applicable for believers to consider in a time when “the love of many” is becoming “cold.” He writes in part: “Regarding souls just coming out, the speaking or praying (so to speak) against denominations does harm. I fear one laborer was driven away by doing so.”
May God give us grace and wisdom! “He giveth more grace” (James 4:6).
“If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally” (James 1:5).
“Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man” (Col. 4:6).

A Word in Season - 2

I am thankful a resting-place has been reached after the struggle against evil and the assaults of the enemy. What I would seek now is that, as we cannot expect a peace of long duration, we may individually test ourselves as to the part we have taken in the matter how far we have been using carnal weapons in our warfare.
Through God’s grace there was a decision to stand against the evil. Then the enemy sought to turn the attention from the real point to the manner and ways of those who were acting....So much was made of the way the thing was dealt with. Those who made that a prominent point seemed to forget that in such struggles, not surprisingly, the weakness of the flesh should be seen, but what does it prove?
Why, how incapable we were to meet such an attack and that... there had not been a “redeeming the time,” a “gathering up of strength so as to be ready,” a “being clad with the whole armor of God.”
Has there been the attention to that part of the armor, “the breastplate of righteousness,” and have “the loins been girt about with truth”? Has there been that attitude of dependence which is shown by “praying always” and “watching thereunto”? Do not these [present] circumstances exhibit failure in these respects?
No real profit can accrue to us by dwelling on this or that failure, for we get insensibly assimilated to it by so doing. The spiritual eye discerns evil and failure by progressing in the knowledge of that which is holy and true, as in spirit John: The untrue is made apparent by the true, what is of darkness is understood in the light, and what is of Satan by what is of God.
I do not desire to show error by dissecting writings. I believe and trust that God will in His grace enable all to do that for themselves in quiet converse with Himself. We never get into a struggle with the enemy in which all who have been professedly on the Lord’s side are found of exactly the same mind. Again, there is a greater energy of faith in some than in others.... Whoever is finally victorious is also vanquished to a certain extent, as a conflict among brethren is injurious to both, if the flesh is aroused, which is too frequently the case. Of all this the enemy takes advantage.
In the book of Judges when it was deemed right to go against Benjamin for sin, which that tribe had linked itself with by refusing to deliver up to judgment the sinners, they are both smitten in turn, and when those who had completely vanquished their brethren had settled down, they found that victory had sorrow for its accompaniment. There was one tribe lacking in Israel, and they had in their zeal “sworn in Mizpeh” about it. Now they get into God’s presence and humble themselves for Benjamin their brother.
When there is real love to the brethren, this must ever be, that however we may have had to oppose a course, and God may have given us the victory, yet He repents Himself when He sees their trouble.
The enemy is not vanquished, but we have learned how powerless we were to cope with the difficulty how the flesh sought to enter into it and how much it had to be restrained. May we be humbled about it all, yet thankful to our God that He has not allowed the enemy to crush us, weak though we are (Psa. 124:6).
And now, leaving details of heated discussions with harsh, unkind or unholy expressions whether real or imaginary, let us look to our armor so as to be prepared for the next onslaught of Satan, for come it surely will. Was there not pride and haughtiness of spirit? or our God would not have allowed this.
When He brought Israel out of Egypt, He led them not through the land of the Philistines, that they should not see war (Ex. 13), but He led them another way. How different is Exodus 14 where they were haughty in spirit, and He allowed them to learn their weakness in a struggle with His enemies.
If this present conflict has taught us weakness or that we have been exalted with the idea that we are Philadelphia, however sad the way we have learned it, we can still bless God who has not failed us.
Where sin is manifested, there must be no compromise with it, but in these days individuals have to bear in mind that if the assembly is unable to clear itself from evil, through fleshly hindrances, and to act upon the Word for it (1 Cor. 5:13), the same voice that speaks to the assembly addresses the individual saint in 2 Timothy 2:19: “Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.” If the flesh in an assembly is such that evil cannot be put out, each individual is responsible to God for himself.
In quarreling I do not manifest the God of peace. I certainly can help no one by remaining in association with evil. My coming out may exercise souls, and so I go on in peace; to remain with sin I must not. The difficulty is to keep the motives clear; if we get into debates as 2 Corinthians 12:20 shows, we may end in tumult. To be with God in all these matters, the only desire should be the keeping each other in a right path and bringing back any who may have erred from it (James 5:19-20).
J. N. Darby (excerpts from a letter)

The World and Self-Esteem

The world’s view (as a moral system opposed to God) of self-esteem is always wrong. When the world exalts man, it merely exalts self. This leads to pride, which is the worst of sins, because it gives to man the glory that belongs to God. On the other hand, when the world demeans self, it demeans man. This is also wrong, for it demeans that which God created in His image and likeness. Since the fall, man has lost the likeness to God, but he is still here in the image of God.
True Christianity exalts man, but not self. This is because it exalts man in Christ—“that I may win Christ”—and thus self is kept in the place of death. In Philippians 3 Paul recognized that everything that gave self a place of honor must be counted loss. But in Psalm 8 we find man exalted, because it is Christ that is in view. In having Christ as our object, the Christian walks in all the dignity of a man in Christ, but without pride, for Christ gets all the glory.
W. J. Prost