The Christian Shepherd: 2002

Table of Contents

1. Announcement and Errata
2. Answers to Last Month's Bible Challenger: 2001 - (l)
3. Answers to Last Month's Bible Challenger: 2002 - (a)
4. Answers to Last Month's Bible Challenger: 2002 - (b)
5. Answers to Last Month's Bible Challenger: 2002 - (c)
6. Answers to Last Month's Bible Challenger: 2002 - (d)
7. Answers to Last Month's Bible Challenger: 2002 - (e)
8. Answers to Last Month's Bible Challenger: 2002 - (f)
9. Answers to Last Month's Bible Challenger: 2002 - (g)
10. Answers to Last Month's Bible Challenger: 2002 - (h)
11. Answers to Last Month's Bible Challenger: 2002 - (i)
12. Answers to Last Month's Bible Challenger: 2002 - (j)
13. Answers to Last Month's Bible Challenger: 2002 - (k)
14. Are the Ranks Being Filled?
15. The Beloved Physician
16. Bible Challenger: 2002 - (a)
17. Bible Challenger: 2002 - (b)
18. Bible Challenger: 2002 - (c)
19. Bible Challenger: 2002 - (d)
20. Bible Challenger: 2002 - (e)
21. Bible Challenger: 2002 - (f)
22. Bible Challenger: 2002 - (g)
23. Bible Challenger: 2002 - (h)
24. Bible Challenger: 2002 - (i)
25. Bible Challenger: 2002 - (j)
26. Bible Challenger: 2002 - (k)
27. Bible Challenger: 2002 - (l)
28. "Born Again"
29. Brief Thoughts on Eternal Security
30. Christ Is All
31. Christ Is My Life
32. Christian Intolerance
33. Christian Shepherd Web Site
34. Christ's Glory and Care
35. The Church and Prophecy
36. The Church in Ruins
37. Conqueror of Death
38. David's Spirit
39. Discerning the Lord's Mind
40. Drinking
41. Editorial: After Life or Afterlife?
42. Editorial: Conflict and Courage
43. Editorial: Dangerous Christian Fiction
44. Editorial: Darkness Increasing
45. Editorial: Disillusionment
46. Editorial: Do You Know Where They Are?
47. Editorial: Half Right or Half Wrong?
48. Editorial: "I Just Want to Do Something to Help"
49. Editorial: "Look but Don't Touch"
50. Editorial: "Oh No! Do I Hafta . . . ?"
51. Editorial: Soft Skills
52. Editorial: What's so Hard to Understand?
53. The Eternal Son and the Prodigal Son
54. Extract
55. Extract
56. Extract
57. Fault Finding
58. "Feed the Flock": A Birdbrained Idea
59. "Feed the Flock": Beauty From Broken Pieces
60. "Feed the Flock": Discouraged or Excited?
61. "Feed the Flock": Encouragement
62. "Feed the Flock": Expensive Embarrassment
63. "Feed the Flock": Forgotten Warning
64. "Feed the Flock": In the King's Presence
65. "Feed the Flock": Riptide!
66. "Feed the Flock": The Emperor's Problem
67. "Feed the Flock": What's Really Important?
68. "Feed the Flock": Who Moved?
69. "Feed the Flock": Wrong Number - Right Advice
70. For Dads
71. Fragment
72. Fragment
73. Fragment
74. Fragment
75. Fragment
76. Fragment
77. Fragment
78. Fragment
79. Fragment
80. Fragment
81. Fragment
82. Fragment
83. Fragment
84. Fragment
85. Full of Christ
86. God's Love and the Conscience
87. Grace in Discipline
88. "Greater Love Hath No Man Than This"
89. Happy Children
90. Has the Church Age Ended? Review of a Growing Heresy
91. Have You Reread the Love Letter?
92. A Holy, Moral Balance
93. The Holy Scriptures
94. The Holy Scriptures
95. The Holy Scriptures
96. The Holy Scriptures
97. The Holy Scriptures
98. The Holy Scriptures
99. The Holy Scriptures
100. The Holy Scriptures
101. The Holy Scriptures
102. The Holy Scriptures
103. The Holy Scriptures
104. The Holy Scriptures
105. How Good Is the God We Adore
106. How Much Is a Soul Worth?
107. "How Readest Thou?"
108. Humble or Humbled?
109. I Beseech You
110. Indifference, Diligence, Interference
111. Keeping Rank
112. Leave God Room to Act
113. Light in Dark Times
114. Looking Into the Face of Jesus
115. "Looking Upon Jesus As He Walked": Luke 24:1-12
116. "Looking Upon Jesus As He Walked": Luke 24:13-32
117. Lord Jesus - Our Endless Theme
118. "Master, Where Dwellest Thou?"
119. "Master, Where Dwellest Thou?"
120. "Master, Where Dwellest Thou?"
121. "Master, Where Dwellest Thou?"
122. "Master, Where Dwellest Thou?"
123. "Master, Where Dwellest Thou?"
124. "Master, Where Dwellest Thou?"
125. "Master, Where Dwellest Thou?"
126. Meditations on Galatians 5
127. Meditations on the Man of Sorrows
128. Memories of a Grandmother
129. Memories of Pearl Harbor
130. Mine
131. More on Success
132. The Name of Jesus - 1
133. The Name of Jesus - 2
134. The Name of Jesus - 3
135. Night-Watches
136. No Reason for Fear
137. Not Ashamed
138. Not Ashamed
139. The Ointment of Worship
140. On Reading Scripture
141. On Success
142. On Vineyards
143. An Oracle of God
144. Our Affections
145. Our Pattern in Everything
146. Our Substitute
147. Our Word and Our Hearts
148. Overcoming and Pressing on
149. Past, Present and Future
150. Pastors and Teachers
151. Personal Forgiveness
152. The Potter's Will
153. Practical Reflections on Acts - 13:40-52
154. Practical Reflections on Acts - 14:1-14
155. Practical Reflections on Acts - 14:15-28
156. Practical Reflections on Acts - 15:1-11
157. Practical Reflections on Acts - 15:12-27
158. Practical Reflections on Acts - 15:28-41
159. Practical Reflections on Acts - 16:1-13
160. Practical Reflections on Acts - 16:14-24
161. Practical Reflections on Acts - 16:25-40
162. Practical Reflections on Acts - 17:1-14
163. Practical Reflections on Acts - 17:15-26
164. Practical Reflections on Acts - 17:27-18:2
165. Praising the Lord
166. Psalm 42:7
167. Raindrops
168. Repentance
169. The Sea to Cross
170. Searching Our Hearts
171. Self or Christ?
172. Setting Personal Wrongs Right
173. Sharing in His Sorrows
174. Spend Time With Them!
175. The Sunshine of His Love
176. "The Lord Is My Shepherd"
177. Thoughts on Christian Fasting
178. Thoughts on Self-Esteem
179. Thoughts on Separation
180. Thoughts on the Present Day
181. Three Aspects of Forgiveness
182. Three Things the Lord Desires
183. Too Deep for Words
184. Transparency Without Fear
185. Trials
186. The True Secret of Ministry
187. Trusting in Christ
188. Two Essentials for Our Wilderness Path
189. Unchanging Church Truths
190. Victory Over Discouragement
191. Visual Temptations
192. The Wall of Truth and Some Gaps
193. What Is Love?
194. What Shall We Ask for Our Little Child?
195. The Whole Body
196. Why Did You Do That?
197. A Word of Comfort
198. A Word of Encouragement
199. A Word of Encouragement to the Young
200. A Word to Brothers
201. A Word to Disciples
202. A Word to Young Believers
203. Words of Exhortation to a Father
204. The World and the Heart
205. Your Temporal Business

Announcement and Errata

Announcement: Several have requested reprints of the article which appeared in the December 2000 Christian Shepherd on the “Harry Potter” children’s fantasy books. Reprints are available from the following address: CS Reprints, P.  O. Box 57471, Pleasant Hill, Iowa 50327. Please do not send your requests to Bible Truth Publishers.
Errata: In the December 2001 Christian Shepherd, in “The Holy Scriptures” series it was mentioned that Deuteronomy “is most frequently quoted in the New Testament.” It should read that it “is the most frequently quoted book of the law (Pentateuch).”

Answers to Last Month's Bible Challenger: 2001 - (l)

1. H ousehold Ex. 12:4
2. E dification Rom. 15:2
3. A s thyself Gal. 5:14
4. R aiment Ex. 3:22
5. T ruth Eph. 4:25
6. S amaritan Luke 10:2937
“I will put My laws into their mind, and write them in their HEARTS: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to Me a people: and they shall not teach every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know Me, from the least to the greatest” (Heb. 8:10-11).

Answers to Last Month's Bible Challenger: 2002 - (a)

1. Z ebulun Gen. 49:13
2. E very three years 2 Chron. 9:21
3. B ringeth her food from afar Prov. 31:14
4. E uroclydon Acts 27:14
5. D esired haven Psa. 107:30
6. E agle Prov. 30:19
7. E ight 1 Peter 3:20
“Going on from thence, He saw other two brethren, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in a ship with ZEBEDEE their father, mending their nets, and He called them” (Matt. 4:21).

Answers to Last Month's Bible Challenger: 2002 - (b)

1. G ood things Matt. 12:35
2. R aised Him from the dead Rom. 10:9
3. I ssues of life Prov. 4:23
4. E vil continually Gen. 6:5
5. V ain James 1:26
6. E stablished with grace Heb. 13:9
7. D avid 1 Sam. 13:14; Acts 13:22
“It repented the Lord that He had made man on the earth, and it GRIEVED Him at His heart” (Gen. 6:6).

Answers to Last Month's Bible Challenger: 2002 - (c)

1. J oy in the Holy Ghost Rom. 14:17
2. U nity of the Spirit Eph. 4:3
3. S hepherds Luke 2:8-14
4. T emperance Gal. 5:22-23
5. I ncrease of His government Isa. 9:6-7
6. F eet Rom. 10:15
7. I nherit the earth Psa. 37:11
8. E nmity Eph. 2:14-17
9. D ivision Luke 12:51
“Therefore being JUSTIFIED by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 5:1).

Answers to Last Month's Bible Challenger: 2002 - (d)

1. S ound doctrine 2 Tim. 4:34
2. L ove Ex. 21:26
3. U ncircumcised Acts 7:51
4. M eat Job 34:3
5. B y His Spirit 1 Cor. 2:910
6. E phphatha Mark 7:34
7. R epent in dust and ashes Job 42:56
“(According as it is written, God hath given them the spirit of SLUMBER, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear), unto this day” (Rom. 11:8).

Answers to Last Month's Bible Challenger: 2002 - (e)

1. L ying Prov. 6:1617
2. E stablished for ever Prov. 12:19
3. A aron Ex. 4:10-16
4. R efrain his tongue from evil 1 Peter 3:10
5. N ame of Jesus Phil. 2:10-11
6. E vil Psa. 34:13
7. D eadly poison James 3:8
“The Lord God hath given me the tongue of the LEARNED, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary: He wakeneth morning by morning, He wakeneth mine ear to hear as the learned” (Isa. 50:4).

Answers to Last Month's Bible Challenger: 2002 - (f)

If you used a Bible printed by the American Bible Society, omit #7, as the spelling is different.
1. B eam Matt. 7:5
2. A braham Gen. 22:4
3. R achel Gen. 29:17
4. T winkling of an eye 1 Cor. 15:52
5. I have no need of thee 1 Cor. 12:21
6. M oses Deut. 34:7
7. A nointed John 9:6
8. E li 1 Sam. 4:15,18
9. U nto the hills Psa. 121:1
10. S amson Judg. 16:21-30
“Blind BARTIMAEUS, the son of Timaeus, sat by the highway side begging.  .  .  .  And Jesus said unto him, Go thy way; thy faith hath made thee whole. And immediately he received his sight, and followed Jesus in the way” (Mark 10:46-52).

Answers to Last Month's Bible Challenger: 2002 - (g)

1. H oly 1 Tim. 2:8
2. O ffend thee Mark 9:43
3. N eedy Prov. 31:20
4. E xalt you 1 Peter 5:6
5. S teal Eph. 4:28
6. T homas John 20:24-25
7. L ift up Heb. 12:12
8. Y oung children Lam. 2:19
“Study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you, that ye may walk HONESTLY toward them that are without, and that ye may have lack of nothing” (1 Thess. 4:11-12).

Answers to Last Month's Bible Challenger: 2002 - (h)

1. J udah Gen. 49:10
2. O intment of spikenard John 12:3
3. S traight paths Heb. 12:13
4. E nemies 1 Cor. 15:25
5. P reparation of the gospel of peace Eph. 6:15
6. H oly ground Ex. 3:5
“He sent a man before them, even JOSEPH, who was sold for a servant: whose feet they hurt with fetters, he was laid in iron” (Psa. 105:17-18).

Answers to Last Month's Bible Challenger: 2002 - (i)

1. D eath 1 Cor. 15:26
2. E arthly things Phil. 3:18-19
3. L ove Matt. 5:44
4. I n the presence of mine enemies Psa. 23:5
5. V ain Psa. 60:11-12
6. E lymas Acts 13:8-10
7. R econciled Col. 1:21
8. E nmity James 4:4
9. R oaring lion 1 Peter 5:8
“David spake unto the Lord the words of this song in the day that the Lord had delivered him out of the hand of all his enemies, and out of the hand of Saul: and he said, The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my DELIVERER” (2 Sam. 22:12).

Answers to Last Month's Bible Challenger: 2002 - (j)

1. D eath 1 Cor. 15:26
2. E arthly things Phil. 3:18-19
3. L ove Matt. 5:44
4. I n the presence of mine enemies Psa. 23:5
5. V ain Psa. 60:11-12
6. E lymas Acts 13:8-10
7. R econciled Col. 1:21
8. E nmity James 4:4
9. R oaring lion 1 Peter 5:8
“David spake unto the Lord the words of this song in the day that the Lord had delivered him out of the hand of all his enemies, and out of the hand of Saul: and he said, The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my DELIVERER” (2 Sam. 22:12).

Answers to Last Month's Bible Challenger: 2002 - (k)

1. B enhadad 1 Kings 20:10-11
2. Y our words Ezek. 35:13
3. G od Rom. 1:28,30
4. R edeem his brother Psa. 49:67
5. A ll the day long Psa. 44:8
6. C ross of our Lord Jesus Christ Gal. 6:14
7. E ver learning 2 Tim. 3:7
By grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast” (Eph. 2:8-9).

Are the Ranks Being Filled?

“The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that He would send forth laborers into His harvest” (Luke 10:2).
A few months ago, our all-wise and loving God called home another beloved spiritual father and shepherd—dear brother Don Bilisoly. His quiet, gentle and loving ministry (carried on with his beloved wife) will be greatly missed—and that at the very time when it is so desperately needed.
We don’t question the ways of our blessed Lord who does “all things well,” but we trust that our brother’s home-call will exercise all to pray earnestly that more spiritual fathers and mothers might be raised up for our blessing. We need them!
We also have recently experienced the unexpected loss from our ranks of others—a dear brother and father with a shepherd’s heart, leaving a dear wife and five children, as well as a young brother under twenty years of age who in his life had been an encouragement to other young believers.
May the loss we feel at the home-call of these dear ones (and others too) cause us to sense more deeply our great need. Also, may each be exercised to fulfill the ministry given to them (see Col. 4:17).
Laodicea felt no need, though she was in great need of what the Lord alone could give (Rev. 3:17).
How good to feel our need and pray earnestly that the Lord would fill the ranks with fathers, young men and children till He come.

The Beloved Physician

“Luke, the beloved physician” (Col. 4:14).
“Why then is not the health of the daughter of My people recovered?” (Jer. 8:22).
Jeremiah laments the condition, or health, of the people of God. There was no physician there. In the Gospels of Matthew and Mark, the Lord proclaims that the “whole need not a physician; but they that are sick” (Luke 5:31). His people do not respond and consequently are lost as a nation. In Luke we find the Lord making the same pronouncement (Matt. 9:12; Mark 2:17; Luke 5:31). But Luke gives us a repentant remnant, those who recognize their condition. Beloved Luke brings that remnant into the assembly. In writing his second letter to Timothy (ch. 4:11), Paul said, “Only Luke is with me.” Oh what a comfort what Luke represents is to the Lord—a remnant healed!
H. Short

Bible Challenger: 2002 - (a)

The first letters of the following responses form a word that tells us who was with his sons in a ship, mending nets, when the brothers received a life-changing calling. [1] The number in brackets indicates the number of words in each answer.
1. Which tribe of Israel is referred to as being a haven of ships? [1]
2. How often did King Solomon’s ships come from Tarshish bringing gold, silver, ivory, apes and peacocks? [3]
3. What does a virtuous woman do that inspires a likeness to the merchants’ ships? [5]
4. The name given to the tempestuous wind that led to shipwreck on Paul’s journey to Rome. [1]
5. Where does the Lord bring those who go down to the sea in ships, when they cry out to Him in stormy times? [2]
6. A serpent, a ship and a man. What else belongs in this group? [1]
7. The number of souls saved in the ark that Noah prepared. [1]

Bible Challenger: 2002 - (b)

The first letter of each of the following responses gives the answer to the following question: How is the Lord’s heart portrayed the first time it is mentioned in the Word of God? [1] The number in brackets indicates the number of words in each answer.
1. What will a good man bring forth out of the good treasure of his heart? [2]
2. Something God has done concerning His Son that must be believed in the heart in order to be saved. [5]
3. What flows from the heart, giving impetus to the exhortation to keep it with all diligence? [3]
4. The first time the thoughts of the heart of man are mentioned in the Word of God, how are they depicted? [2]
5. What word is used to describe a man’s religion if he has not bridled his tongue, deceiving his own heart? [1]
6. A “heart condition” that is good, much better than to be occupied with meats or with what is eaten. [3]
7. One who was often called “a man after [the Lord’s] own heart.” [1]

Bible Challenger: 2002 - (c)

The first letter of the following responses gives us a word that describes a believer who has peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. [1] The number in brackets indicates the number of words in each answer.
1. Rather than meat and drink, what does the kingdom of God consist of, besides righteousness and peace? [5]
2. Something that should be kept in the bond of peace. [4]
3. Who witnessed a heavenly host crying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men” ? [1]
4. A fruit of the Spirit, in addition to love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith and meekness. [1]
5. In addition to peace, of what will there be no end, when the one called the “Prince of Peace” reigns? [4]
6. Wherein does the beauty lie of those who preach the gospel of peace? [1]
7. In addition to delighting themselves in the abundance of peace, the portion of the meek is to what? [3]
8. Something that once stood between Jew and Gentile but was abolished by Christ at the cross, thus making peace and reconciling both to God. [1]
9. As His rejection became apparent, what did the Lord Jesus tell His disciples to expect rather than peace? [1]

Bible Challenger: 2002 - (d)

The first letter of the following responses gives us a word that describes what type of spirit God has given some who have eyes that don’t see and ears that don’t hear. [1] The number in brackets indicates the number of words in each answer.
1. Something that will not be endured by those who turn away their itching ears from the truth. [2]
2. What motive might a Hebrew servant have that would cause him to give up his freedom forever, signified by having his ear bored through with an awl? [1]
3. A word Stephen used to describe the heart and ears of his accusers. [1]
4. The ear trieth words, as the mouth tasteth what? [1]
5. How has God revealed the things He has prepared for those that love Him, things that eyes have not seen, nor ears heard, nor even have entered man’s heart? [3]
6. The word Jesus spoke to a deaf man, whose ears were then immediately opened. [1]
7. The one who said “I have heard of Thee by the hearing of the ear; but now mine eye seeth Thee” was led to abhor himself and do what? [5]

Bible Challenger: 2002 - (e)

The first letter of the following responses gives us a word that describes the sort of tongue the Lord God had given one who knew how to speak a seasonable word to the weary. [1] The number in brackets indicates the number of words in each answer.
1. What type of tongue is spoken of as an abomination and hated of the Lord? [1]
2. Though a lying tongue will endure but for a moment, what is the prospect given for the lip of truth? [3]
3. The spokesman for one who complained of having a slow tongue. [1]
4. Advice for the tongue of one who will love life and see good days. [5]
5. Every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. Likewise, before what will every knee bow? [3]
6. In addition to keeping the lips from speaking guile, what should the tongue be kept from? [1]
7. Something the untamed and evil tongue is said to be full of. [2]

Bible Challenger: 2002 - (f)

The first letter of the following responses gives the name of a blind beggar whose eyes received sight through faith in Jesus. [1] The number in brackets indicates the number of words in each answer. (In some Bibles the answer is spelled with nine letters, so you may not need question 7 for your answer.)
1. Something that must be cast out of the eye in order to see clearly and be able to help someone else. [1]
2. One who lifted up his eyes and saw an appointed place afar off. [1]
3. One who had a sister who was described as tender-eyed. [1]
4. Believers should be expecting a big change at any moment. What phrase is used, in connection with the eye, that gives some idea of the swiftness with which it will take place? [3]
5. Something the eye cannot say to the hand. [6]
6. One whose eye was not dim at the time of his death, though he was an old man. [1]
7. What Jesus did to the eyes of a blind man, with clay He had made, in order that he could receive his sight. [1]
8. One whose eyes were dim at the time of his death; he was also a heavy man. [1]
9. Where was the psalmist going to lift up his eyes, recognizing his help came from the Lord, which made heaven and earth? [3]
10. Who ended his life as a prisoner, having his eyes put out, but accomplished more in his death than he had in his life? [1]
Answers to these questions will be found, Lord willing, in the next issue of Christian Shepherd.
J. Short

Bible Challenger: 2002 - (g)

The first letter of the following responses gives us a word that others might use to describe the way we walk, if we have learned to quietly do our own business and work with our own hands. [1] The number in brackets indicates the number of words in each answer.
1. What sort of hands should be lifted up in prayer, without wrath and doubting? [1]
2. What might your hand do, in which case it would be best to cut it off, rather than suffer eternal consequences? [2]
3. To whom will a virtuous woman reach forth her hands? [1]
4. Something God is able to do in due time, if you have humbled yourself under His mighty hand. [2]
5. Something a thief who has put on the new man should no longer do, but, in contrast, work good with his hands, that he may have something to give to the needy. [1]
6. The doubter who insisted on seeing the nail prints in Jesus’ hands before he would believe that He was alive. [1]
7. What directive is given for the hands that are hanging down and the feeble knees? [2]
8. For whom was the plea given to “pour out thine heart like water before the face of the Lord” and “lift up thy hands toward Him” for their life, as they were fainting for hunger? [2]

Bible Challenger: 2002 - (h)

The first letter of the following responses tells us the name of one whose feet were hurt with fetters. [1] The number in brackets indicates the number of words in each answer.
1. The one of whom it was said that the scepter would not depart from, nor a lawgiver from between his feet. [1]
2. A pound of what was used to anoint the feet of a special guest? [3]
3. Something that should be made for the feet, in order to preserve one who is lame from being turned aside, and the opportunity for healing lost. [2]
4. What will be put under the feet of the reigning Christ? [1]
5. Something a believer’s feet should be shod with. [6]
6. Something a man was standing on when he was ordered to remove the shoes from off his feet. [2]

Bible Challenger: 2002 - (i)

The first letter of the following responses gives us a title that David applied to the Lord in the day that He delivered him from all his enemies. [1] The number in brackets indicates the number of words in each answer.
1. The last enemy to be destroyed, when all enemies are put under Christ’s feet. [1]
2. Something that occupies the thoughts of those who are called “enemies of the cross of Christ.” [2]
3. What did the Lord Jesus teach His disciples to show to their enemies? [1]
4. Where did the Lord prepare a table for one who knew Him as his shepherd? [6]
5. A word the psalmist used to describe the help of man, for it was God that would tread down their enemies and through Him they would do valiantly. [1]
6. Who was called an “enemy of all righteous-ness”? [1]
7. Something God’s Son has done for those who were in time past alienated and enemies. [1]
8. One who desires to be a friend of the world is the enemy of God, since friendship with the world is what with God? [1]
9. The metaphor used to describe one of a believer’s adversaries, causing the need for sobriety and watchfulness. [2]

Bible Challenger: 2002 - (j)

The first letter of the following responses tells us the name of one who admonished his friend that “they that plow iniquity, and sow wickedness, reap the same.” [1] The number in brackets indicates the number of words in each answer.
1. One who thought he deserved a feast with his friends more than his brother did. [2]
2. One who was described as a friend who was sleeping. [1]
3. One who the Lord identified as “my servant,” a descendant of one whom he called “my friend.” [1]
4. One who became friends with Herod, though at odds in the past. [1]
5. A friend of Judah. [1]
6. This man had a subtle or shrewd friend named Jonadab. [1]
7. One who reminded his friend that “the triumphing of the wicked is short, and the joy of the hypocrite but for a moment.” [1]
Answers to these questions will be found, Lord willing, in the next issue of Christian Shepherd.
J. Short

Bible Challenger: 2002 - (k)

The first letter of the following responses tells us by what means we are saved, which excludes any man from boasting. [2] The number in brackets indicates the number of words in each answer.
1. Who was given the caveat, “Let not him that girdeth on his harness [or, armor] boast himself as he that putteth it off”? [1]
2. When berating some who had boasted against him with their mouth, what did the Lord tell them He had heard, something that they had multiplied against Him? [2]
3. What some who are described as “boasters” did not like to retain in their knowledge, and in fact hate. [1]
4. Something those who boast in the multitude of their riches are unable to do by any means. [3]
5. The time period for which the psalmist was going to boast in God. [4]
6. The one thing a New Testament writer would glory or boast in. [6]
7. Something boasters of the last days are doing, though never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. [2]

Bible Challenger: 2002 - (l)

The first letters of the following responses give the name of the place in which God chose to place His name. [1] The number in brackets indicates the number of words in each answer.
1. Who challenged his compatriots with these words: “Choose you this day whom ye will serve”? [1]
2. The direction Lot traveled after choosing the well-watered plain of Jordan as his dwelling-place. [1]
3. Emmanuel, the Son of a virgin, was to have a diet of butter and honey. What would He know how to do, besides to choose the good? [3]
4. Something to be chosen even over silver. [1]
5. Something the Lord’s beloved have, from the beginning, been chosen to, through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth. [1]
6. Something God chose as evidenced by buds, blossoms and almonds. [2]
7. The emblem used to represent one who was disallowed of men but chosen of God and precious. [2]
8. Something a soldier doesn’t do, in order to please the one who has chosen him to be a soldier. [8]
9. One who chose something good, which would not be taken away from her, though her sister was upset by it. [1]

"Born Again"

Conversion, repentance, being born again and faith all go together, yet I must believe in order to get it, and still they all go together. “Ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus”; to be a child you must believe.
A blow and pain are identical as to time, though I must give the blow in order to [have] the pain. Where there is not that settled estimate of the will and mind that looks back and judges everything under grace in the power of the Word, there is repentance and judgment of self all one’s life.
J. N. Darby (from Notes on Second Corinthians)

Brief Thoughts on Eternal Security

Perhaps the reason some Christians doubt the eternal security of the believer in Christ is that they doubt the efficacy [value] of the work of Christ at the cross. They may think like the one who said, “He is rowing on one side of the boat and I must row on the other side to get to heaven.” But such sad thinking suggests that our Lord did not do a complete work at Calvary. The Apostle Paul presents the truth. “When we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly” (Rom. 5:6).
Grace or Works?
Other believers allow that the work of redemption was completed by Christ, but they still think their salvation depends on their own ability to measure up and maintain it. These folks don’t see that redemption is a finished work and is a free gift by grace (Rom. 6:23; Eph. 2:4-9; 2 Tim. 1:9; Titus 3:5), something none can ever measure up to or maintain.
God tells us that man is helpless, corrupted and dead in sin (Rom. 3:10-12; Eph. 2:17)—down in a horrible pit (Psa. 40:2). It should be apparent that he can do nothing to achieve or earn salvation by his own works (Isa. 64:6-8). Only God can redeem a soul, and that by grace (unmerited favor, gratis). We must receive the gift with thanksgiving and by faith make it good to our own soul.
Holding on or Being Held?
Failing to appreciate the difference between the believer’s standing (depends on Christ) and state (depends on the believer) results in thinking that whenever the flesh acts salvation might be lost.
Our standing depends on the finished and perfect work of Christ on the cross, not on ourselves. We must not discredit that holy work.
Our state, on the other hand, depends on our obedience and faithfulness. Standing is redemption and the gift of eternal life. Faithfulness has to do with rewards in heaven, not our going to heaven.
Salvation and Restoration
Consider a child who is born into a family or adopted. (Believers are both; see John 3:3; Rom. 8:15; Gal. 4:4-6.) If such a child is disobedient to his parents, he is not put out of the family for sins, but he loses the favor of the parents until repentant and restored. The prodigal son did not cease to be the son because he sinned, but he had to repent and return to enjoy restoration to happy fellowship with his father and receive blessings (Luke 15:11-24).
Believers must confess their sins in order to continue in happy fellowship with our God (1 John 1:9). We also ought to know that believers are the children of God and He is our Father forever (1 John 2:16; 1 John 3:12).
R. DeWitt (adapted)
Ed. Note: The above excerpt has been taken from a pamphlet written by our brother on this subject. For a complete list of available pamphlets on various Christian subjects, please contact the author.

Christ Is All

God has given us the work of Christ for our consciences. How blessed it is that that work is so complete that Hebrews 10 tells us there is “no more conscience of sins.” Every work of God is a perfect work. So He has given us the work of Christ for our consciences. He has given us the Person of Christ for our meditation, and He has given us the moral glories of Christ to occupy our hearts and minds. Thus we have our hearts drawn out to Him in contemplation of Himself.
The Apostle Paul, who knew Him better than any other man on earth, said, “That I may know Him.” Why? Because the infinite glory of that blessed Man filled the heart of the Apostle to overflowing. Yet he could not take in the full blessedness of that Man. It will take eternity for us to meditate upon Him, and then we shall find the fullness that dwells in Him.
Then we need the love of Christ to warm our hearts. Do not try to love the Lord more than you do. Get occupied with His love toward you.
We also need the wisdom of the Word of God to guide us through the labyrinth of evil that confronts us in our pilgrim path. We should be afraid to take a step without the light and wisdom of the Word.
H. E. Hayhoe (from an address)

Christ Is My Life

If you have Christ, you have Him not only for atonement, but as your very life. As born into this world, I have got an old, natural life that loves evil and grows in strength and capacity for self-will.
In Christ there is this new life produced which develops in proportion as Christ is the object on which I feed and look to for every step of my life.
As I meditate upon Christ’s words and ways, the Holy Spirit communicates power to my life as a believer. The words of our blessed Lord Jesus are spirit and life. His words not only produce life, but they sustain life, giving it energy and vigor.
W. Kelly (Christian Truth; adapted)

Christian Intolerance

“The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us  .  .  .  full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).
Professing Christianity increasingly embraces the concept of tolerance as a proof of Christian love. But this tolerance is wicked, for it encourages acceptance of abominable lifestyles, false religions, and, worst of all, doctrines which dishonor the person and work of our Lord Jesus Christ. Sadly, Christians who refuse to yield to this spirit of apostasy are accused of being unloving, ungracious and arrogant.
Our blessed Saviour—very God and perfect Man—was full of “grace and truth.” Those who heard Him talk wondered “at the gracious words which proceeded out of His mouth.” Yet He always speaks truth, which allows for no argument or compromise: “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me” (John 14:6). This is truth which tolerates no other religion or philosophy.
But grace is given “to the humble” so that they might speak “the truth in love,” being “gentle unto all.” Let us be careful that our right intolerance of evil never be expressed in a harsh, un-Christlike spirit. Even when the Lord Jesus in holy indignation cleansed the temple (John 2:14-17), He used a scourge of small cords. May we act in this same blessed spirit!

Christian Shepherd Web Site

We now have a Christian Shepherd online web site available on the Internet. Our site (which is not intended to replace this publication) will carry excerpts from each month’s issue. We trust that our blessed God will be pleased to use this effort to reach many souls with His truth. To access the site, the address is

Christ's Glory and Care

Can I connect all the sorrows of the wilderness with Christ’s glory? Have I set up as my banner, “To me to live is Christ” ? Do I devote myself and all I have to Christ’s glory, turning everything into an occasion for magnifying Him?
If my heart is breaking, what matters it, if I have Christ? He loves a broken heart. His heart cares for me, as no mother cares for her child. Every throb of your heart is known to Him, and He beautifully knows how to show you how all—able He is to give you rest and peace that passes all understanding.
If you are broken down bit by bit, it is only to fit you for the place He has prepared for you. There is, for the heart that is resting in Christ’s love, perfect repose and divine peace that Satan cannot shake. You can say of things that destroy the dearest hopes of your heart, “I thank God.”
Have you cultivated an acquaintance with Him who looks down into the very bottom of your heart, discovering the first budding of everything wrong and putting His hand to stop it?
G. V. Wigram

The Church and Prophecy

The church was not, and is not, the subject of prophecy. Prophecy is occupied with God’s dealing in government on the earth, at the center of which is Israel. It is important for believers to understand this, else much in the Bible will cause confusion. The church is an entity quite distinct from Israel: “Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God” (1 Cor. 10:32).
In Matthew we find that the church was a future thing. Peter was but a stone (“Peter” in Greek is petros, a “stone”); Christ is the Rock. He is the builder, and the building is His. It is perfect; the gates of hell cannot prevail against it (Matt. 16:15-18).
Scripture also presents a view of the church in relation to human responsibility. Paul as a wise master-builder laid the foundation—Jesus Christ—upon which others build, not only gold, silver and precious stones, but also wood, hay and stubble (1 Cor. 3:10-12).
The decay that has come in is spoken of in the Epistles of John, Jude and 2 Peter. In the addresses to the seven churches in Revelation we have a view of the church in its various phases of decline. However, it is not the church itself that is the subject of prophecy, but the moral ruin of Christendom in this earthly scene. While the bride, “a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing” (Eph. 5:27), will be called away at the rapture, the empty profession that remains (the great harlot; Rev. 17:1 JnD) will be spewed out of His mouth (Rev. 3:16). The Lord will then again take up Israel—the natural branches (Israel) being grafted into their own olive tree (Rom. 11:24).
N. Simon

The Church in Ruins

Recent correspondence received has included strong objections to the use of the phrase “the church in ruins.” The Lord’s words (Matt. 16:18) to Peter, “I will build My church; and the gates of hell [hades; JND] shall not prevail against it,” were cited as supposedly proving this phrase wrong.
I have reflected on this and considered it in the light of the many passages in the epistles which indicate that the end-state of the testimony on earth would indeed be utter ruin and failure. In doing so, I have come to realize that we must be careful not to confound the church as formed (built) by the Lord with its state as a responsible testimony.
Seen from the Lord’s perspective, He will certainly present the church to Himself “glorious  .  .  .  not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing” (Eph. 5:25-27). We must not lose sight of this when speaking of the church in ruins.
A principle of the Word is that everything God has committed to the hands of man has ended in failure and ruin. The church itself has not been committed to man, but the maintenance of a public testimony has. Who can deny the complete breakdown and failure of that testimony?
It ought to bow our hearts in shame as we reflect on our utter failure to maintain a testimony according to God’s thoughts (and honoring to our blessed Head in heaven) concerning the church’s unity, purity and love for one another. Doctrinal and moral contamination, worldliness, bickering with one another, and spiritual pride in which we have walked when separation from others has been necessary are all a sad testimony to this ruin.
May we take diligent heed to our blessed Lord’s words in Revelation 3:2: “Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die.”
“Hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown” (Rev. 3:11).
R. K. Gorgas

Conqueror of Death

“Unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write; These things saith the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive” (Rev. 2:8).
Though Judge, the Lord never forgets His people; in trial and suffering He is still with them. But His care is not shown now as in the Old Testament. Then He was not known as the Conqueror of death. His way of intervening for His saints was to save them from death, delivering them out of the furnace or shutting the mouths of the lions. Satan might try Job, but a limit was imposed: “Behold, he is in thine hand; but save his life” (Job 2:6).
Here, however, is no such restriction; they were to be faithful unto death. No deliverance on this side of the grave is promised. And why? Because a believer now knows Christ, not only as able to save from death, but as having triumphed over death. He is the First and the Last—God having all power in Himself. He is also the One which was dead and is alive, for He, as man, has borne death in our place and has been “raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father” (Rom. 6:4). The believer is therefore totally secure. The death of the body is but a door which opens into Christ’s presence. From the second death, the lake of fire, he is already delivered.
T. B. Baines

David's Spirit

“The Lord forbid that I should stretch forth mine hand against the Lord’s anointed” (1 Sam. 26:11).
What a heart of love David had for the Lord—so much so that whatever and whoever had His mark and His unction was of great value to David—so much value, in fact, that David feared to raise his hand in such a way as to do him (King Saul) harm—even though he wrongly was David’s enemy. In David’s view, whatever touched the Lord’s anointed touched the Lord Himself. Is it any wonder that the Lord called David a man after His own heart (Acts 13:22)?
On the road to Damascus the Lord Jesus said to Saul of Tarsus, “Why persecutest thou Me?” In that solemn question, Saul realized that Jesus views His own dear children and Himself as one. What touches and affects them, affects Him (1 Cor. 12:12,27).
Do we approach one another in this same spirit and love? Is He so sanctified in our hearts that we deal with whatever is His with meekness and fear? From the mountaintop (in a figure, from God’s viewpoint) even Balaam must say, “How goodly are thy tents, O Jacob, and thy tabernacles, O Israel!” (Num. 24:5; see also Num. 23:21).
Beloved, if I realize that you belong to Him and have infinite value to Him, then you will be precious to me. I will deal with you carefully—though firmly at times. “Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another” (1 John 4:11). May we have David’s spirit in dealing one with another!
D. Martens (adapted)

Discerning the Lord's Mind

“Be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Rom. 12:2).
As to discerning the Lord’s mind, it is largely a question of the state of soul. “The secret of the Lord is with them that fear Him” (Psa. 25:14). Is the eye single? Do I desire only His will? Am I not blinded through self-interest or self-will in some way? Do I refer all to the Lord and wait on Him to know His will? If so, He will guide.
We do not expect any revelation or anything extraordinary, but He, by laying on the mind what is pleasing to Him or by some providential way, will indicate His will. This may be so distinct that it virtually amounts to a certainty in the mind, though we may not be able to prove it to another.
The great thing is nearness to the Lord and a subject mind, with the desire, “Show me Thy ways” (Psa. 25:4). He sets before us an open door with something to indicate that we may enter. We see His hand in it, recognize it and act accordingly.
“I will guide thee with Mine eye” (Psa. 32:8).
“I have set the Lord always before me” (Psa. 16:8).
A. H. Rule (from a letter)


“If any man thirst, let him come unto Me, and drink. He that believeth on Me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water” (John 7:37-38).
The Lord did not say “draw”—He said “drink.” The true spring and power of all ministry in the church will ever be found in drinking for our own souls, not in drawing for others. We must abide close to the eternal fountain, the heart of Christ. Drink deeply; drink continually. Thus our own souls shall be refreshed and enriched; rivers shall flow for the refreshment of others, and streams of praise shall ascend to the throne and to the heart of God by Jesus Christ.
C. H. Mackintosh (adapted)

Editorial: After Life or Afterlife?

This past July the Lord took home to Himself my beloved mother, nearly 95 years old. When going to make the necessary memorial arrangements, I was struck by the funeral home sign, which proclaimed, “Funeral & After Life Services.”
After Life?!
My! what a hopeless expression—life and then nothing but an end of existence! What darkness to be without Christ—“having no hope, and without God in the world” (Eph. 2:12). What comfort can the most elegant memorial service with the grandest flowers, the most magnificent casket, the most moving music and crowds of mourners provide for those whose loved one is in a condition of after life?
Thankfully that expression is not really meaningful for a believer in Jesus. Having received the gift of eternal life (Rom. 6:23) from God, through Jesus Christ, there will never be an after to the believer’s life (John 6:51). A Christian’s life may come to a close here (but even that is not a certainty; 1 Thess. 4:13-17), but death is no longer a robber or an enemy to be feared (1 Cor. 15:55). It is but a servant ushering the believer from this world into that bright glory with Christ which is far better. “Whether  .  .  .  life, or death  .  .  .  all are yours” (1 Cor. 3:22).
No doubt the funeral home was seeking to convey to the public their caring and quality service for families after the life of a loved one has ended, for the world would hardly consider it acceptable if a mortuary advertised “Services for the Dead.” The words “After Life” are less gloomy, more acceptable.
But still, this expression is rooted in the fear man by nature rightly has of death. He tries to hide and disguise the melancholy reality of the king of terrors. The funeral hearse at one time was black—now many are white. The morbid finality of death is cloaked in many other ways because people without hope after life don’t like to talk or think about its gloomy certainty—a reality each must eventually face. To the lost, death is sure and unwelcome—a reality to be shunned until its unwanted presence can no longer be evaded.
The reality of what this means for a believer gives joy and peace in the presence of death. It will never be a question with the child of God of after life, for this life is but the beginning of unending peace and bliss in the presence of the Lord Jesus—eternal life.
Our afterlife is all light—uninterrupted joy—consciously in the presence of our precious Lord Jesus Christ in heaven. The believer who has fallen asleep is “absent from the body  .  .  .  present with the Lord” (2 Cor. 5:8). He has assured us that “because I live, ye shall live also” (John 14:19). How blessed and comforting—what joyful expectation!
We may not enter that glorious scene through death (1 Thess. 4:13-18). We are encouraged to be watching and waiting the sure return of our Saviour and Lord who has promised, “Surely I come quickly. Amen.” Let us with joy answer, “Even so, come, Lord Jesus” (Rev. 22:20).

Editorial: Conflict and Courage

“It came to pass, that when Sanballat, and Tobiah, and the Arabians, and the Ammonites, and the Ashdodites, heard that the walls of Jerusalem were made up, and that the breaches began to be stopped, then they were very wroth, and conspired all of them together to come and to fight against Jerusalem, and to hinder it” (Neh. 4:7-8).
Nehemiah’s day was indeed a time of trouble, rebuke and blasphemy (Isa. 37:3). His faith in and love for Jehovah and His people were often tested. He was “pressed out of measure, above strength,” so that he could have despaired of his life (2 Cor. 1:8).
Many Christians find it so today.
From the moment Nehemiah heard of the sad condition of the beloved people of God and Jerusalem, he set his heart on delivering them (Neh. 1). From that moment, he became a special target of ridicule, violence and the subtle deceit of the enemy.
Many Christians find similar opposition today.
Courage to Face the Enemy
The accounts given in Ezra, Nehemiah and Esther of God’s sovereign mercy and grace in stirring up His people and preserving them in such dark times present a striking picture of the day in which we live.
It is a day of felt weakness, breakdown and ruin in the professing Christian testimony—a time when Satan is making unprecedented assaults to destroy the divine institutions of God—marriage, family and assembly. Indeed, all that is of God is under constant attack—by physical violence or by the more deceptive (but equally destructive) attacks of evil doctrines and worldly lifestyles.
Faith and courage are needed for those who, like Nehemiah, weep and mourn (Neh. 1:4) for the condition of God’s beloved people. Strengthening “the things which remain, that are ready to die” in loving faithfulness to God will certainly result in unrelenting, vicious onslaughts of the devil.
Nehemiah’s faith, moral courage and love caused him to make an almost unthinkable request of the Gentile king he served. But God honored his faith and the desires of his heart just as He will for those who seek in sacrificial love to serve Him today.
Recognizing the Enemy
When Sanballat and Tobiah’s mocking failed to hinder Nehemiah’s work, a larger force committed to violence and warfare gathered against him. Five enemies are specially mentioned in Nehemiah 4:7.
Sanballat was a Moabite, and Tobiah was an Ammonite. Both were related to Israel (see Gen. 19:37-38), though they are usually seen in conflict. They are excluded from entering the congregation of Israel until the tenth generation (that is, forever).
There are many today who profess to be brethren—they claim Christianity as their religion, but in reality are “enemies of the cross of Christ.” Whether real or professing, their ways turn the “grace of our God into lasciviousness,” thus destroying the separation we must have to protect our marriages, families and assemblies from their corrupting influences.
ArabiansIshmael’s descendents—resulted from Abraham’s attempt to secure Jehovah’s promises through his own efforts, rather than waiting on the Lord in faith. How often we allow the flesh to war against our marriages, families and assemblies!
Next the Ammonites are mentioned. When King David (2 Sam. 10:14) sent messengers to show kindness to Hanun the Ammonite king, they were mocked and insulted by the unbelieving people.
Today there is a pervasive spirit in Christianity which mocks and ridicules the sovereign grace of God and those messengers who walk in His reverence and fear—derisively calling them legalists or fundamentalists. Along with this, a terrible spirit of irreverent lightness increasingly characterizes Christianity. Oh! be careful about allowing such a spirit in marriages, homes and assemblies!
The Ashdodites resided in a Philistine city. It was the place where the ark of God was kept (see 1 Sam. 5) after the Philistines had conquered Israel and taken it as spoil. In much earlier days, the Philistines contended with Abraham and Isaac for wells of water in the land of Canaan.
We must ever war against anything that robs our sources of spiritual refreshment and our enjoyment of the Lord’s presence individually and collectively.
Defending Against the Enemy
Faithful Nehemiah did not give in to the various attacks of the enemy, nor was he discouraged by the faithlessness of his own people. (Read Nehemiah 4.)
Those engaged in spiritual conflict will find Nehemiah’s actions in protecting against their attack most instructive. “I set in the lower places behind the wall in exposed places, I even set the people, according to their families, with their swords, their spears and their bows” (Neh. 4:13 JnD).
First, Nehemiah, realizing the critical importance of unity in Jerusalem’s defence, placed families who were united together in their hearts.
“United we stand, divided we fall” has recently become a popular expression in the world. But do we Christians believe the divine truth that a “house divided against itself shall not stand” ? How will our marriages, homes and assemblies stand if we aren’t united as one (families) against the enemy’s attacks?
Nehemiah also made sure that those who defended Jerusalem had three weapons at their disposal: swords, spears and bows. We too must have these same three weapons to use in our spiritual battle.
The sword morally suggests the Word of God— “quick [living], and powerful”—always our defense against Satan, even as it was the Lord’s (Matt. 4:1-11).
The spear morally suggests the power and discernment given by the Spirit of God to wage war against the enemy (Rom. 15:19; 1 Cor. 2:4).
The bow morally suggests the vital necessity of dependence on God expressed through prayer. How many spiritual battles have been won with the bow of prayer (James 5:16)—and how many more have been lost where that weapon was not used!
May we, in the spirit of Nehemiah, “strengthen [our] hands” and “rise up and build,” ever remembering that our “God shall fight for us” (Neh. 2:18; 4:20).
“Fight the good fight of faith” (1 Tim. 6:12).

Editorial: Dangerous Christian Fiction

Recently, a series of Christian fictional novels has become very popular in the secular world and among professing Christians as well. Sadly, vital and fundamental doctrines of the Word of God are undermined by this series, widely known by the title of the first novel: Left Behind.
Satan is increasingly working through professing Christianity to corrupt and confuse God’s truth. Christian lands have been deluged by Satanically inspired forms of entertainment which, at first glance, seem harmless. But what appears innocent fun in reality directly attacks the “faith which was once delivered unto the saints” (Jude 3).
The Foundations of Delusion
Around 1996 a harmless-appearing fantasy card game for little children—Pokemon (short for “Pocket Demons”)—was introduced in the U.S. This cleverly disguised evil deadened tender hearts to the fearful, malignant reality of wicked spirits. It also planted in their impressionable young minds a greater interest and awareness of such Satanic role-playing games as Dungeons and Dragons.t
A further assault on children’s and young people’s hearts has come through the immensely popular witchcraft fantasy stories—Harry Potter.t
While some Christian parents have tried to protect their children from the dangers connected with such things, they have not been nearly so diligent in protecting against the errors and confusion hidden in Christian fiction, such as the Left Behind series. This religious fantasy undermines some of the most essential and solemn tenets of biblical New Testament truth.
As those waiting for the promised return of our blessed Lord Jesus Christ, we must take heed to these dangers, following the example of the wise man who sees coming evil and “hideth himself” while the “simple pass on, and are punished” (Prov. 22:3).
The Authors
Many assume that the author of Left Behind is Tim LaHaye, a well-known Christian leader. However, the real author is a professional writer, Jerry Jenkins (also a professed Christian). Mr. LaHaye has served as Mr. Jenkins’ resource for interpreting the biblical prophecies and events recorded in Revelation. Then, using these interpretations, he has written the fiction. Thus far, seven novels have been published, with three or four more planned to complete the series.
The Story Plot
The Left Behind series is a fictionalization of the prophetic and symbolic events recorded in the book of Revelation. The first novel begins with the rapture of believers, leaving behind a world filled with frightened and confused unbelievers. The last novel—yet to be published—will purportedly deal with events surrounding the return and reign of the Lord Jesus Christ in Jerusalem, ushering in the Millennium.
Between these two events readers are introduced to people who were unbelievers when the rapture occurred. Afterwards, realizing their terrible mistake, they become true believers and form a cadre called the Tribulation Force. This group preaches the same gospel they had once rejected, while fighting against the Antichrist! Such awful twisting of God’s truth effectively plants the seeds of confusion and doctrinal error in the minds of readers.
Truth or Fiction?
We feel the most dangerous principle of the Left Behind series is its using divine truth to create fiction. God has solemnly warned man never to tamper with or change His Word. Illustrating biblical events and truth as fiction in order to entertain unbelievers is an awful and solemn dishonor to Him.
Fictionalizing Scripture also subtly plants seeds of doubt as to the full truth and accuracy of the Bible. Questions are raised as to whether the Scriptures—divine, absolute and inerrant truth—may not, after all, contain some fictional accounts. Fictionalizing Scripture results from man’s foolish and ignorant imagination, not from the Spirit’s leading.
The very book—Revelation—which the authors have used in their fictional series contains solemn warnings against adding to or taking away from God’s holy Word (Rev. 22:18-19).
Confusing Two Gospels
Blurring the difference between the gospel of God’s grace and the gospel of the kingdom is another serious error propagated by these books. It is true that after the Lord takes us home (the rapture of the church; 1 Thess. 4:13-18) the kingdom gospel message will again be preached. But that is not the gospel being preached today.
The gospel of the kingdom announced that Israel’s king (the Messiah) was about to appear to set up His kingdom. Those who believed that message gave evidence by repenting and being baptized in Jordan (Matt. 3:26). When John the Baptist was cast into prison, the Lord Jesus (Himself the Messiah) began to preach this gospel (Mark 1:14-15).
After the rapture of the church (Matt. 24:14), it will again be preached. But the gospel of the grace of God will then never again be presented to man.
Some Jews and Gentiles left on earth after the rapture will repent and believe this gospel and will be blessed. But none who have previously heard and rejected the gospel of the grace of God (John 3:16; Rom. 6:23; Eph. 2:8) will be included in this number.
By confusing the two gospels, the Left Behind fiction wrongly teaches that rejectors of the gospel of the grace of God will be given a second chance to receive the Christ they rejected. How sad that professed Christians are perpetrating such confusion!
The Word of God is solemn and clear: There is no second chance after the rapture for rejectors of the gospel. “With all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: that they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness” (2 Thess. 2:9-12).
The Lord Jesus is patiently beseeching sinners to come now (Prov. 29:1; Isa. 1:18; Heb. 3:8,15; 4:7), warning of the solemn consequences of waiting. “Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (2 Cor. 6:2). We fear that Satan is using the errors taught in Left Behind to lull unbelievers into waiting. “Well,” one might reason, “I’ll just wait to see if this Christianity is really true. If it is, I’ll still have a chance to be saved.” What a deadly mistake bearing awful, eternal consequences!
Believers’ Heavenly Calling
The truth of the church’s calling as the heavenly (not earthly) bride of Christ has been largely lost to Christianity. This fiction perpetuates that error.
Many dear Christians have been wrongly taught that the church has replaced Israel—that the blessings it lost through disobedience to Jehovah the church has gained by the work of Christ at Calvary.
Such error attaches believers’ hearts to this world, encouraging us to become involved in politics and schemes here to improve the present evil world by “Christianizing” it. Thus, the hope of His return and our heavenly calling are lost as a result.
Those who (after the rapture of the church) really do experience the tribulation and believe the gospel of the kingdom will either suffer martyrdom or will live through the trials of that terrible time of Jacob’s trouble (Jer. 30:7). Those who do live through that awful time will enjoy the millennial reign of Christ and will live forever in this world.
Though happy, they are not as blessed as we who have believed the gospel of the grace of God—by the Spirit made members of the body of the Christ (1 Cor. 12:27), the Bride of Christ—dwelling with Him in glory for eternity. “Even so, come, Lord Jesus”!

Editorial: Darkness Increasing

“Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” (Isa. 5:20).
Though it’s not our desire to dwell on negative issues, we do feel a word of warning to beloved parents of school-age children is in order in view of a recent NEA policy statement.
The National Education Association (composed of 2.6 million public school educators) has announced a new effort directed at mandating tolerance training of homosexual lifestyles in all public schools. The goal is that school districts nationwide will make available in each classroom NEA-prepared “factual materials” for use in student-teacher discussions concerning that lifestyle God calls “abomination” (Lev. 20:13).
A Terrible Attack
This malicious attack is being made against the innocence and purity of defenseless little children—hardening their tender, young hearts to this depraved, immoral lifestyle.
Such “factual materials” as the NEA intends to place in the hands of students and teachers will amount to manuals detailing unspeakable details of the debauchery and wickedness of homosexuality while portraying it as a perfectly “normal, alternative lifestyle.”
Further, this “tolerance-training material” will serve to entice the tender minds of children to develop an unnatural interest in that of which it is a “shame even to speak” (Eph. 5:12)—the sin for which Sodom and Gomorrah were so solemnly judged by God.
A Subtle Attack
But this malignant effort of the “angel of light” (2 Cor. 11:14) is not simply intended to teach children tolerance of homosexuality. That is but a cloak of acceptability used to mask far darker designs.
A more dangerous effect is the attempt to subtly instill in the minds of our lambs respect for fellow-students and teachers who brazenly engage in (and publicly advertise) these abhorrent lifestyles.
It is only natural for children who have been taught respect for someone to want to imitate that person’s habits. The Word of God warns us that “evil communications corrupt good manners” (1 Cor. 15:33). Such perverse “educational efforts” will serve to entice children to emulate such abominable, God-dishonoring lifestyles.
Defending Against Attack
In the face of increasing attacks of the enemy, let’s follow the example of Timothy’s grandmother and mother so that it may be said of our children as it was said of Timothy, “From a child thou hast known the holy Scriptures.” Filling children’s hearts with the knowledge of the Saviour’s love, with the richness and sweetness of the Word of God, and with the joy of obedience to His Word is the best defense against such horrible wickedness. Dad and Mom! Is Christ the precious and chief object of your heart? He can’t be that to your children, if He is not that to you!
“They saw no man  .  .  .  save Jesus only” (Mark 9:8).

Editorial: Disillusionment

Ed. Note: Recently, a dear young brother wrote an email to some other believers on an Internet forum. His subject was “disillusionment,” especially in regards to the marketing hype and secular excitement that the Christianized world attaches to so-called religious observances at certain times of the year.
He mentioned that “the key to living in reality and avoiding disillusion [is found] by being born into the family of God through [faith in the Lord Jesus Christ] and then by living in the light of God’s Word. All this world has to offer is [mere] illusion. ”
The following reply, in reference to our brother’s timely comments, was also made on that forum.
The prodigal learned a brutal, simple and unforgettable lesson about disillusionment. As long as he had something to give, the world made a place and had time for him—at least, it spent enough time to take what he had to give. But the moment it had sucked the prodigal dry and he had nothing more to hand out, it relegated him from being the life of the party to life in the pigpen.
Now think for a moment just how defiling it would be for a Jew to have to work in a pigpen! (Pigs were unclean animals to them—not to be eaten or touched.) Yet that’s all the world had to offer this young Jewish man as “thanks” for all the energy and riches he had spent partying with them.
The world cared not about his personal religious beliefs. Such things were only important as long as observing them gave it the needed opportunity to spoil (acquire) all his resources and energy—financial, physical, mental and even spiritual.
The world got everything the prodigal had, giving nothing in return. It left him in a rotten, stinking pigpen, with only swine’s food to sustain his life.
That’s exactly what the world is seeking to do to each one of us, dear young people. It sees in each believer a source—a supply of something it covets. God has given to each Christian talents, abilities and resources (the “talent” of Jesus’ parable; Matt. 25:15) to use for Himself. But if we are unprofitable servants, we will instead bury them in the earth.
The world presents a grand illusion of bright, sparkly, exciting promises and fun if you will but give your talents and energies to its causes.
But, like the prodigal, once having believed the world’s lies—allowing our hearts to be stolen, just like Absalom “stole the hearts of the men of Israel” away from David (2 Sam. 15:6)—we will sadly find that it no longer has any interest in or time for us. And then we will learn the painful lesson of what disillusionment is all about, for all that will be left of the once-promising-looking world will be the view we have from the filth of a moral pigpen as we muck around trying to find food enough to satisfy our longing hearts—and no man will give to us!
Now none but Christ can satisfy.
No other name for me.
There’s love and life and lasting joy,
Lord Jesus found in Thee.
Friendship or Disillusionment
Let us not let slip the valuable moral lesson found in the actions of Pharaoh’s daughter either.
It was she who saved Moses’ life when her father wanted to kill him.
It was she who brought Moses into her court of splendor and honor when her father would have thrown him into the river.
It was she who was responsible for his education and easy, comfortable life when her father would have, at best, made him a slave.
Her father tried to kill Moses with violence; she would have killed him with kindness.
Neither intended that Moses become a deliverer of the people they ruled over as slaves in their land. However, when Moses was come to years (the time of responsibility), he had to decide whether to give his time and talents to Egypt or to Jehovah.
Moses made the right choice.
Was Moses disillusioned as he stood with the blessed Lord Jesus Christ on the mount of transfiguration? As others have pointed out, the real disillusionment would have been for Moses to have become a mummy in some museum—nothing more than a decaying, dusty symbol of Egypt’s lost glory.
May we be kept from allowing ourselves to become disillusioned by this present evil world and its broken cisterns, thinking to find in them the joy and refreshment that Christ alone can give.
May the Lord bless and keep each one of you dear young people and all of His own from being sadly disillusioned by this world’s fleeting illusions!

Editorial: Do You Know Where They Are?

“Be thou diligent to know the state of thy flocks, and look well to thy herds” (Prov. 27:23).
An unexpected, late night phone call does nothing to sooth the nerves of parents, especially if one of their teenagers happens to still be “out” when the phone rings.
My wife and I experienced such discomfiture several years ago when a phone call startled us both out of a deep sleep at 1:45 a.m. Still groggy, my heart pounding with surprise, I grabbed for the receiver.
“Mr. Nicolet?”
“This is Ernie at Otto’s Towing Service. The sheriff just called us to tow a burgundy Chevy Cavalier that was found outside Polk City registered to your son  .  .  .  ”
Trembling, I felt a wave of terror flood over me as the caller continued, repeating our son’s name and address, apparently read from his car registration.
“The deputy thought we should check to see if you know where your son might be and where you want the car towed.”
Though still shaking, I was by this time thinking more clearly and my panic was beginning to subside.
“There must be a mistake. My son’s car is parked in our driveway and he’s asleep in bed.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yes. I can see his car out our window right now.”
“Oh. Okay, thanks.” Click. The line went dead.
Knowing our son was in his bedroom sound asleep still didn’t keep us from shuddering at the thought of receiving that prank call had our son not been home and had we not known where he was.
Dangerous Freedom
For many years, society, motivated by the enemy of our souls, has actively encouraged children to demand freedom from parental constraints under the plea of “We need our space! We’re mature enough to make our own decisions!” Parents who rightly insist that their teenagers observe reasonable curfews, notifying them where they will be and with whom, are wrongly considered fussy, overly strict, or, worst of all, abusers of parental authority.
The Importance of “Knowing”
Jacob, an Old Testament parent, painfully learned the results of not being “diligent to know the state of [his] flocks.” Oh, it’s true, that clever schemer was well acquainted with the physical condition of his cattle. But he seemed little interested in the spiritual condition of most of his family—a sad parental shortcoming which brought him awful grief and shame.
Dinah, the daughter of Jacob and Leah, grew up realizing that her father did not love her mother (Gen. 29:31) and apparently had little interest in her. But she was aware that there were some things—his animals, his other wife Rachel and her half-brother Joseph—that were very important to her father.
Jacob evidently failed to set limits and boundaries for Dinah, or perhaps he left that task to others. Thus the girl felt quite at liberty to go where she wanted, evidently free of parental restrictions and warnings. Poor Dinah! She used her personal space to go out and visit the Hivite daughters, seeking in their seemingly harmless company fellowship that she lacked at home. Tragically, rather than experiencing wholesome friendship with the daughters of the land, she experienced moral defilement by a prince of the land (Gen. 34).
The Importance of “No-Ing”
We find another solemn example in the life of an otherwise mighty man of God—David. In 1 Kings 1:5-6 we read that “Adonijah  .  .  .  exalted himself, saying, I will be king.  .  .  .  And his father [David] had not displeased him at any time in saying, Why hast thou done so?”
David evidently did not have enough love and care for his son Adonijah to tell him “no.” In this he is an example of the folly of following the pattern of child-rearing which allows the child to do as he pleases in order to allow his personality to develop. This terrible pattern has resulted in a demanding, humanistic generation of “give me, please me, satisfy me” people who refuse to take responsibility for their actions.
The awful result of David’s failure in spoiling his son was Adonijah’s death (1 Kings 2:24).
Beloved, let us as parents (and grandparents too!) be watchful, loving and firm with those exceedingly precious treasures that God has entrusted to our care.
And dear dads and moms, never be afraid to say to your dear children (even if they don’t display, at the time, appreciation for your concerns), “I want to know” and “no!”

Editorial: Half Right or Half Wrong?

The two rules were simple and had a reasonable basis for their existence: The green grass outside the house had bare areas of dusty, brown soil which was easily tracked inside. Also, the new, clean carpet that made the interior of the home so pleasant was a light beige color. In order to keep it in a condition that the family could enjoy playing and relaxing on it, Dad and Mom had two simple rules:
1. Remove shoes when entering the home.
2. Place rubber boots in the boot box.
The kids enjoyed exploring and playing on the 30+ acres of land comprising their ranch home. But their daily excursions often took them through areas of water which turned dust into very sticky mud. Rubber boots obviously were the easiest, most sensible footwear when the grass was wet or a trip to the pond was planned.
One morning their four-year-old popped in the door after an early morning expedition, rubber boots covered with mud. Dad watched as his boy carefully slipped out of the muddy, wet boots, leaving them on the tiled entryway floor.
Obviously, the little guy had done things half-right  .  .  .  or he had done them half-wrong. Dad would have to decide in what spirit to view the situation.
He chose the right one and won his boy’s heart.
“You really did well to remember to take off your boots. That was very good and Daddy and Mommy are very happy.”
The boy’s smiling, eager face showed the positive effect of Daddy’s words.
Then Dad continued, “Now would you take your boots to the box and put them back inside?”
Still smiling, the little guy immediately picked them up and put them in their proper place.
A frowning face or harsh reprimand from Dad would have produced the same results—the muddy boots would have ended up in the box where they belonged. But there would have been no happy little boy who, confident in Daddy’s love, ran off to play.
The Spirit of Christ
The spirit in which we act towards each other can make or break an assembly, our families or our marriages. We ought ever to look at ourselves as ten thousand talent debtors (see Matt. 18:24) while viewing our brethren as one hundred pence debtors. This will result in our being “kind  .  .  .  tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you” (Eph. 4:32).
The Spirit of a Scorpion
One of the most glaring failures of the spirit in which we deal with each other is seen in the life of Rehoboam (1 Kings 12). The people may well have been wrong and ungrateful when they came to Solomon’s son demanding that he make “the grievous service of thy father, and his heavy yoke which he put upon us, lighter, and we will serve thee.”
Rehoboam, like our little boy’s daddy, had two options in giving his answer: a gentle, empowering, positive spirit (“If thou wilt be a servant unto this people this day, and wilt serve them  .  .  .  speak good words to them”) or a harsh, demanding, negative spirit (“I will chastise you with scorpions”).
He chose the wrong one and lost most of Israel.
Which Spirit?
No matter what circumstances we may face, the spirit we display in our earthly relationships ought to always exhibit the grace of Christ (Phil. 1:25).
Sadly, too often, like dear Peter in trying to defend our Lord’s honor, the Word of God is wielded as a sword rather than being applied as balm—cutting off ears rather than comforting and encouraging hearts.
The Word of God is indeed a sword (Eph. 6:17), which is to be used in our spiritual battle. But that battle is against “spiritual wickedness in high places,” not against spouses, children, brethren or the unsaved living around us. Further, we are not to take the “sword of the Spirit” in hand before our feet (our walk) have first been “shod with the  .  .  .  gospel of peace.”
Remember, in all relationships of life, swords make pieces; peacemakers make unity and joy.
“He giveth more grace” (James 4:6).

Editorial: "I Just Want to Do Something to Help"

(Note: This was written a few days after the tragic events that took place in New York City, Washington, D. C., and Pennsylvania on September 11, 2001.)
An uncharacteristically somber group of young people gathered this morning in my Sunday school class. A few days before, they had experienced the harsh reality of what once seemed impossible; in a few terrible moments on September 11, America’s valued freedom and vaunted might were tested by a terrorist strike and “found wanting.”
Sober-minded Christians realize that this tragic occurrence, coupled with increasing violence in the Middle East, is proof of the “perilous times” in which we live (2 Tim. 3:1). While we “know neither the day nor the hour,” we see increasing indications all around that “the coming of the Lord draweth nigh” (James 5:8).
Our Peace
In the midst of such tumult, peace enjoyed by the children of God remains unchanged because the God of peace and the peace of God remain unchanged. As a beloved brother once said, “I am not afraid as long as He lives and is Jesus.”
The Lord has told us: “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27). Thus, even in such unsettled times, we may rest on our God’s promise: “Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:6-7).
Heart Response
Help came to New York City from all quarters, and it is touching to see the genuine outpouring of sympathy shown by so many. We have heard of those who, without being asked, traveled long distances at their own expense to get to the disaster site. When asked why they came, invariably their answer has been, “I just want to do something to help.” Such touching selflessness ought to stir our hearts as believers to consider that very same question: What can I, a Christian, do to help?
The Lord’s Grief
In answer, let’s consider first our blessed Saviour’s example. He, ever full of perfect love and compassion, became wearied (John 4:6) and He wept (John 11:35) because of the suffering, sorrow and ruin man’s sin brought into His creation.
Something would be sadly wrong if we who are indwelt by the Spirit of God did not know how to sigh and grieve at the havoc Satan has brought into this world. And though we are heavenly citizens with a bright future, if our spirits (in fellowship with the Lord) are truly wearied with such ruin, our words and ways will be seasoned with tenderness and grace.
The Lord’s Tears
The Jews that followed Mary and the Lord Jesus to Lazarus’ grave were amazed at His tears. Seeing His grief, their words bore simple, eloquent testimony: “Behold how He loved him.” If we, in spirit, “weep with them that weep,” will that not bear powerful testimony to the love of God that has been “shed abroad in our hearts” ? Souls spoken to in a spirit of heartfelt compassion and concern are far more likely to listen to the gospel message.
Doing Good to All
In writing to the Philippians, Paul gives a wonderful, simple pattern for how Christians can most effectively do good in a world that is in such desperate need. We read: “Do all things without murmurings and reasonings: that ye may be harmless and simple, irreproachable children of God in the midst of a crooked and perverted generation; among whom ye appear as lights in the world, holding forth the word of life” (Phil. 2:14-16 JND).
If we want to do good as children of God, we are to act first—“appear as lights”—and after we are to speak“the word of life.” In these dark days the world desperately needs to see the light shining from our lives and hear “the words of this life” (Acts 5:20).
Acting Like What We Are
Peter calls us “strangers and pilgrims” (1 Peter 2:11). But does the world see a daily confession by our actions that as strangers and pilgrims we are looking for that which cannot be shaken—“a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God” ? May the light brightly shine into the darkness.
If, instead, our lives morally give testimony that this world is the horizon of our hopes, how will the light of that which is eternal, sure and unchanging shine out? And will our words of warning then carry any more power than did Lot’s? May our spirits, actions and words tell out “the glorious gospel of Christ,” both “in season” and “out of season.”
But Don’t Be Fooled
“The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord, and against his Christ” (Acts 4:26).
The attacks have generated a tremendous effort by governments to form coalitions against global terrorism. Though such unity sounds good, these alliances attack Christian truth by actively encouraging acceptance and toleration of false gods as equal with the true God who is revealed in Christianity.
This was solemnly seen at the national prayer service (held shortly after the attacks) attended by the President and other political dignitaries. There, the first person invited to lead the huge congregation in prayer to God was an Islamic cleric. Yet, no government has issued a call for prayer in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ—God the Son and Creator!
Political expediency (rather than divine truth) will cause increased persecution to those who “will live godly in Christ Jesus.” Christians who desire to walk in moral separation from all man-made coalitions will be accused of being intolerant and unpatriotic.
Don’t be fooled. The real war waged in this world today is not civilized societies against terrorists. It is Satan and those under his control against “the Lord, and against His Christ” and those who belong to Christ.
Let us heed the Lord’s words: “Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house cometh .  .  . and what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch” (Mark 13:35-37).

Editorial: "Look but Don't Touch"

We recently visited an old restored fortress, now a museum, containing clothing, furniture, cooking utensils, rifles and other things from an era well over two hundred years ago, when it was used. Many of those interesting items, which made up the fabric of daily life then, are now quite valuable. Each individual room was roped off to keep visitors from touching or handling the antiques. Everywhere we looked, whether in the fortress’s private living quarters or its large public rooms, we noticed signs displaying the same warning: “Look, But Don’t Touch.”
Those signs, wise and reasonable, were meant to protect that historic environment and its artifacts.
Unfortunately, twenty-first-century Western culture uses these very same words as one of its guides for morality—becoming a kind of mantra for a godless, licentious lifestyle increasingly marked by unrestrained violence and corruption (see Gen. 6:5).
Moral Darkness on Display
Western lands, once guided by the light of Christianity, are presently engulfed in hedonistic (pleasure-seeking), materialistic (possession-seeking) and humanistic (self-seeking) lifestyles all using “look, but don’t touch” as a common tenet. The abandoned morality of these philosophies, marking almost every facet of life, is specially evident in much of the clothing fashions available for women.
Unclothed Idols
In cultures previously regulated by Christian morals, the female has been made the supreme idol of unbridled lust. Many styles of women’s clothing display the female form with the express purpose of causing men to look at that which they are tacitly forbidden to touch.
Reaping the Results of Idolatry
North America is daily reaping the appalling results of such blatant godlessness (Gal. 6:7). Over half of all marriages are ending in divorce, adultery is rampant, and many couples now live together outside the marriage union. Physical intimacy (a wonderful delight God has reserved for marriage; Heb. 13:4) is accepted as normal, expected conduct within casual male-female relationships.
Worse yet, “look, but don’t touch” as a moral code has spawned unspeakable crimes of violence and lust against women and children—awful, abominable debauchery which victimizes even little boys and girls—while at the same time society is flooded with pornography glorifying wanton nakedness.
Gods and Goddesses of Immorality
Though the natural heart of man—“deceitful above all things and desperately wicked”—is the root of such decadence, we firmly believe the entertainment industry, especially movie and rock stars, have taken the lead in promoting the debased standards of immoral conduct and immodest dress prevalent today. Sadly for many, they have become twenty-first-century role models (though some are young teenagers themselves), promoting vile standards of dress and conduct for young people and children. Satan seeks to use their abandoned licentiousness to destroy the people of God today, even as he used Pharaoh’s violence to destroy them in Moses’ day.
A Loving Entreaty
Without their realizing the potential dangers and consequences, dear Christian sisters’ attire may also be affected by the “look, but don’t touch” code. This is not said critically or to propose rules concerning acceptable sisters’ clothing. But in view of unseeming and suggestive clothing common today, we lovingly beseech beloved sisters to prayerfully, in God’s presence, consider the manner of clothing they wear so “that the younger [women]  .  .  .  give no occasion to the adversary in respect of reproach” (1 Tim. 5:14 JND), and “the aged women likewise  .  .  .  be in behavior as becometh holiness” (Titus 2:3).
Dishonor and Danger
Wearing immodest clothing renders public dishonor to the Lord of glory, while for sisters, especially, such attire presents another great danger.
Scripture is clear that in the last days of professing Christianity the spirit of apostasy causes man to act as “natural brute beasts” (2 Peter 2:12; Jude 10). No intelligent person would light a match by an open container of gasoline, yet dear sisters who wear provocative, revealing clothing risk igniting an uncontrollable explosion of passion—becoming victims of unspeakable brutality and depravity.
Pride in Nakedness
Let us soberly consider what Scripture says as to the roots which have produced seductive clothing—styles which promote and glorify nakedness. Before they sinned, Adam and Eve in innocence were naked and were not ashamed (Gen. 2:25). But they sinned, and the “eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and  .  .  .  made themselves aprons” (Gen. 3:7). Having lost their innocence, they realized it was now wrong to be uncovered. And the death of an animal to provide them suitable coverings proved nakedness was no longer acceptable before God. Yet today man delights in uncovering as much of the female body as current social standards will allow.
The Shame of Nakedness
How solemn to consider the Lord’s assessment of Laodicea’s moral condition—so spiritually dead they didn’t feel their “wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked” state. His remedy was that they buy from Him (not the world) clothing “that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear” (Rev. 3:17-18). Oh! what an awful insult to God’s holiness is immodesty and nakedness—what sad dishonor by it is done to that blessed name of Jesus that we bear!
A Word to Sisters
Beloved sisters, there will be a cost to you if you submit to God’s desire that you clothe yourself in modest apparel (1 Tim. 2:9)—a real, felt and painful sense of reproach and scorn from the world. But is not the Lord Jesus, who “became poor, that ye through His poverty might be rich,” infinitely worth the world’s reproach for dressing modestly to honor Him? Surely the intensity of His suffering for you demands nothing less than such a response.
A Word to Parents
By example and by command, see that your daughters are taught from their earliest years to dress modestly (Prov. 22:6). Be especially careful of the seemingly harmless heroes and heroines of fantasy presented by entertainment giants such as Walt Disney. The clothing that the Hunchback of Notre Dame’s Esmeralda or the Indian maiden Pocahantas or The Little Mermaid wear shamelessly accentuates those parts of the female body that godly modesty would cover. It is in such seemingly innocent, harmless fiction that tender, impressionable little ones quickly learn to accept and desire (as normal) corrupt Babylonish garments (Josh. 7:21).
A Word to Brothers
Brothers, what do we feed on in our private, daily lives—the new man in Christ or the flesh? What do our eyes see when no one else notices—Christ in glory or an immodestly dressed woman? Regardless of age, we all have the flesh with its lusts. Let us be careful that we do not feed its desires, for what we feed on will have a marked effect on others too—our wives, our daughters and our sisters in Christ. Act like men—men of God (see 1 Cor. 16:13). Let us individually appreciate the beauty of holiness characterized by modest, Christ-honoring clothing and seek grace to help others learn to value it too.
“I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes” (Psa. 101:3). “Mine eye affecteth mine heart, because of all the daughters of my city” (Lam. 3:51).
Let us not submit to “look, but don’t touch”; rather, may the world see “the name of our Lord Jesus Christ  .  .  .  glorified in you” (2 Thess. 1:12).

Editorial: "Oh No! Do I Hafta . . . ?"

It was a beautiful, warm, sunny spring day which, no doubt, prompted a moaning response from a seven-year-old, “Oh no! Do I hafta  .  .  .  ?” She was expressing her feelings of injustice at being expected to complete her schoolwork after lunch was over, rather than being allowed to go outside to play.
Her mom gave a wise answer, one perhaps used often by parents facing similar circumstances.
“When I get up in the morning to fix breakfast, do you hear me moan, ‘Oh no! Do I have to fix food and wash dishes again today?’  ”
There was no response from the little complainer, so mom continued, “When I vacuum the carpet, scrub the kitchen floor, and wash your clothes, do I wail, ‘Oh no! Why do I have to do this? It’s such a nice day; I’d rather go for a walk’?”
By this time, the beginning of a sheepish grin was appearing on the reluctant little girl’s face. But even though she well knew the answer to her mom’s questions, she was still rather unwilling to apply mom’s lesson to herself.
Does this apply to us? Are we willing, eager servants of the Lord, or begrudging givers and doers?
Running and Hastening
Throughout the Word of God we have examples of those who were willing and eager to be of service—to the Lord or to others. One of the very first is seen in the life of Abraham, the “father of all them that believe” (Rom. 4:11). Sitting in the door of his tent in the heat of the day, Abraham looked up to see three men standing by him (Gen. 18). With a sense of who these visitors were, he “ran to meet them.” They accepted his earnest invitation of hospitality and waited while he “hastened” to the tent and told Sarah to “quickly” knead bread to serve them.
But Abraham’s eagerness to prepare for and serve the Lord did not stop. He “ran [to] the herd,” selected a suitable animal, then “hastened” to prepare it for his heavenly guests. Only after he had served was he still: “He stood by them under the tree, and they did eat.”
But Abraham’s eager willingness was to experience a much more severe test. We only understand a little of what it must have meant to Abraham’s heart when the Lord told him to offer up his beloved and “only son Isaac” (Gen. 22:2). Our hearts, naturally speaking, would not have been surprised if the divine record had suggested some hesitancy or slowness in obeying on Abraham’s part. Instead, we read that Abraham “rose up early in the morning” to start on that solemn journey to Mt. Moriah.
A Young Woman’s Eagerness
The young woman who was to become Abraham’s daughter-in-law showed the same sweet trait of a ready, willing spirit. When his servant asked her for a drink of water, Rebekah “hasted” to let down her pitcher. Her lovely spirit further displayed itself when she “hasted” to draw water for his camels and “ran” to fill the watering trough. Then, telling him that her home certainly had enough to supply his needs and the needs of his animals, she “ran” to tell her mother.
We have a further example of Rebekah’s willing, eager spirit. Upon arriving back at Abraham’s home, Rebekah sees a man coming to meet them. When she learns that it was Isaac, the man she was to marry, we read that she “sprang” (JND) off her camel.
A Willing Spirit
In Exodus 35:5, when materials were offered to build the tabernacle, the Lord told Moses that they were to come from those who had “willing” hearts.
Thus it was that when the people came to offer materials and to help, the Spirit of God records that it was those who had “willing” spirits that brought to the Lord (Ex. 35:21). Over and over we learn in Exodus 35 that both men and women who had “willing” hearts made and brought for the tabernacle. The Lord, we may say, was not interested in begrudging giving—He desired free-hearted, willing liberality for the place where He would dwell among His people.
The Greatest Example of Willingness
The greatest example of a willing heart is our blessed Lord. “I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me” (Isa. 6:8). In Hebrews 10:9 this prophetic utterance is fulfilled: “Lo, I come to do Thy will, O God.” How perfectly willing and eager, we may say, He was to fulfill His Father’s will and gain a bride!
In this day of spiritual apathy, may our hearts and spirits also be eager—willing to serve our Lord. He deserves and longs for such a response from each.
“Without thy mind would I do nothing; that thy benefit should not be as it were of necessity, but willingly” (Philemon 14).

Editorial: Soft Skills

Soft skills are among the most sought-after qualifications in Corporate America today—abilities for which there is great need and rapidly growing demand. Corporate giants such as General Motors and McDonalds as well as local small businesses are diligently searching for workers who possess these skills.
Yet institutions of higher learning, which produce brilliant students with amazing technical abilities and qualifications for demanding careers, apparently are not effectively infusing these skills into their graduates.
Soldiers in the nation’s demanding, specialized, high-tech armed services may actually find these skills diminished through their military training.
Public schools—where moral and ethical areas are now gray rather than black and white—appear incapable of developing soft skills in their students.
People in professional sports—indeed, the whole entertainment industry—do not need or want them.
Consumers dealing with government or private corporation service sectors often experience the painful lack of these skills in employees.
What Are They?
In their simplest terms, soft skills mainly refer to qualities people display in the workplace: courtesy, sympathy, cooperation, dependability and honesty.
But surely everyone has these, right?
Wrong. They are very rare.
Consider this: These five simple skills are so difficult to find in employees that a recent search of the Internet revealed over 300,000 Web sites dealing with information, training and principles concerning workplace soft skills for the corporate world!
Do Christians Have Soft Skills?
Yes! We have them, through our blessed Lord Jesus, because we have “all things that pertain unto life and godliness.”  We’ve also been “called  .  .  .  to glory and virtue” and have been given “exceeding great and precious promises” (2 Peter 1:3-4). We—right now—have the necessary skills to be a blessing in this life and honor God in doing so.
There is not one blessing which God has held back from His dear children—“blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ” (Eph. 1:3). Not only this, but our Father “spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all” so that He can “with Him also freely give us all things” (Rom. 8:32). Through the Spirit we have the power needed to use those qualities—seen perfectly displayed in that blessed Man, our Lord Jesus Christ.
What Are Christian Soft Skills?
The fruit of the Spirit produced in the believer describes some of these beautiful Christian soft skills—“love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance” (Gal. 5:22-23).
First Corinthians 13 gives more of them, adding that their root is love (agape—divine love). The list begins with love which “suffereth long, and is kind,” and it ends with love that “endureth all things” and “never faileth” (vss. 4-8). What would an employer give to have employees with these wonderful qualities working for him!
Paul admonished Timothy—his beloved son in the faith—to be “an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity” (1 Tim. 4:12). To be “an example” required that Timothy put his Christian soft skills to use in each circumstance of his daily life.
Though many other similar precious passages might be noted, the question is not whether believers possess these skills, but, rather, do we use them?
The Need for Soft Skills
Every day, believers have (just like Timothy) numerous opportunities to represent the Lord Jesus Christ by displaying these qualities—at home, work, school, neighborhood and in many other places.
What effect will a shepherd (1 Peter 5:2) have who does not use soft skills with sick, straying sheep?
How can a believer effectively “do the work of an evangelist” if he does not use Christian soft skills?
How can Christian fathers effectively “bring [their children] up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” if soft skills are not used?
How will a wife and mother be able to emulate the beautiful pattern of the virtuous woman in Proverbs 31 (see especially verses 20,26-27) without using them?
How will brethren (elders; 1 Tim. 5:17) who have the oversight of the local assembly see it strengthened if they do not use soft skills in their ministry?
Rewards and Reaping
The haughty Ephraimites in Gideon’s day present two striking examples of soft skills—once when they were used, and once when they were not.
In Judges 8:13, Gideon returns in victory and is met by the Ephraimites, whom he had not called to battle first. They angrily strive with him about why (Judg. 7:23-24), causing a situation ripe for strife—a time that called for soft skills. And dear Gideon used them beautifully. He who had won the battle with a handful of men humbles himself, speaking softly and graciously to his arrogant brethren. Ephraim (though still proud) was conciliated and peace ensued.
But in Judges 12:16, the proud, indolent Ephraimites again feel slighted and this time confront Jephthah, who had won a great victory at great personal cost. But Jephthah didn’t know how or wasn’t interested in using soft skills to defuse the situation. He truthfully (but in anger) pointed out that the fault lay with Ephraim, not with himself. The threats and words became more intense, and the sad result was the death of 42,000 men of Ephraim.
What a terrible slaughter that might have been averted by using soft skills!
Use Them!
The next time, dear husband, that your beloved wife doesn’t react in the way you wish, try using soft skills rather than setting her straight.
The next time, dear wife, your husband gets mud on your newly vacuumed carpet, try using soft skills instead of telling him how thoughtless he is.
The next time, dear brother or sister, that you are offended by unkind words from another believer, see how soft skills can change harsh, unloving spirits.
Let’s put to use what God has given us in Christ!
“Be ye kind  .  .  .  tenderhearted” (Eph. 4:32). “Great grace was upon them all” (Acts 4:33).

Editorial: What's so Hard to Understand?

When teaching computer graphics in college, I found it important to prepare carefully detailed, step-by-step instructions for each assigned project. Many students were older and unemployed. Others, immigrants from foreign lands, had problems communicating in English. But most all of them were earnestly trying to gain new, marketable skills.
Lack of computer skills, the inherent difficulty of mastering professional-level graphics software, and verbal communication difficulties made it requisite that the students have understandable instructions. So, countless hours were invested over those years preparing and revising detailed “project packets.” Most of my students appreciated and carefully followed these written guides. But there were always some who wouldn’t make the necessary effort required to read and follow the instructions.
I remember one young graduate from a local high school who would spend perhaps five minutes disinterestedly glancing at her packet before beginning to work. Moments later she would throw the material down with a grimace of disgust, demanding that I walk her through each step because “your instructions are just too hard to understand.”
Interestingly, in a nearby cubicle sat a young South East Asian student who, though unable to effectively communicate in English, could read the language very well. He carefully studied his packet, rarely asked a question, yet always completed his work perfectly and ahead of published deadlines.
The written instructions weren’t hard to understand, but they did require desire and effort to read.
A Spiritual Application
A similar thing may happen in our spiritual lives. The eye of faith may lose sight of the Lord Jesus in glory (Heb. 2:9) or, like the Ephesian believers, the heart may lose first love for His person (Rev. 2:4). It is then that the soul becomes attracted (like Demas) in love for this present world (2 Tim. 4:10). Enjoyment of the person and work of the Lord Jesus and the desire to be found diligently reading His precious Word begins to fade. The inclination is then to look to others considered spiritually gifted or knowledgeable of the Word as the source of personal joy in the things of God because the Bible has begun to seem hard to understand .  .  . but is it?
Consider the Gospel of John where our blessed Lord is presented in His highest Godhead glory—the “only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father.” One might think that such a sublime passage, revealing the eternal Word as God the eternal Son, would be couched in such majestic language that it would indeed be hard to understand.
But let us hear some of those exalted, divinely inspired words found in John’s Gospel and see if anyone could truly and fairly say of inspired Scripture, “This is too hard to understand.”
“Behold the Lamb of God!” (John 1:36)
Dear Christian, ponder these words uttered by John Baptist as he contemplated the One who was “full of grace and truth.” These simple words are the key to understanding the Bible. The Holy Spirit desires first to direct each redeemed heart into worshipful reflection of the infinitely lovely person of Christ. As the heart becomes more engaged with the Word made flesh, the written Word will open in understanding to the heart. “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him.  .  .  .  God hath revealed them unto us by His Spirit” (1 Cor. 2:9-10).
“What Seek Ye?”—a Searching Question
John’s words had an effect on his disciples. Two of them leave John to follow Jesus, and it is then we find the first recorded utterance of the eternal Word (in this Gospel). Seeing them following Him, the Lord asks, “What seek ye?” This divine question, so infinitely full of meaning and instruction, requires but three words—none containing more than four letters. Simple, beautiful, yet profound question!
One who is beholding the Lamb of God and following Him who has won their heart’s affections will hear the Word made flesh tenderly, graciously asking the same question. If we find our hearts desiring an object before Himself, something we assume will give joy and satisfaction that He cannot give, may we quickly seek grace to lay it aside. Is this not a vital, searching, yet easy to understand question our blessed Lord asks? May our hearts joyfully answer, “Lord Jesus, I am seeking Thy blessed company—nothing more and nothing less.”
“Come and See”—a Gracious Invitation
Here are three more divinely spoken, easy to understand words given in answer to those who wanted to know where the Lord Jesus dwelt. Being in the presence of His person was now important to them—it had become the chief desire of their hearts, even as it was to Mary, who “sat at Jesus’ feet.”
But notice that our blessed Lord did not say, “Come and do.” Heart-satisfying enjoyment of His blessed person requires nothing more than willingness to accept His loving invitation. For the two who did that, there was far more, for “of His fullness have all we received, and grace [upon] grace.” They not only saw where He dwelt, but His abounding grace welcomed them to stay there with Him.
The objects of this world that capture the heart require tremendous energy, effort and expense from those who would gain them. The world never gives to an empty heart—but it ever demands and takes.
Are not the Lord’s words truly the divine answer to hollow, aching hearts—to be enjoying His presence while delighting in faith’s view of His glories?
“Follow Me”—Instructions for Happiness
Two simple, divinely uttered words hold the key to what every human heart craves—satisfaction and happiness. None other save our blessed Lord, who is “the way, the truth, and the life,” can be trusted to freely supply (Rom. 8:32) what each heart by nature lacks and what so many are desperately seeking.
Are these, His words, hard to understand? No, they are easy to understand, but hard to obey unless He is the supreme Object and delight of our hearts. “They saw no man, save Jesus only” (Matt. 17:8).

The Eternal Son and the Prodigal Son

Give Me
In Luke 15 we can see the heart of the younger son manifested by his demand, “Father, give me.” His heart was such that he could not wait for the inheritance that he would expect to receive upon the death of his father—he wanted it now.
Evidently he was not happy in his father’s house, though he came from a wealthy family. There was a longing for something that he did not have at home, and he felt that the answer was out in the world. How like our poor hearts, not content with what we have in Christ—just like the Israelites who said of the heavenly manna, “Wherefore have ye brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? for there is no bread, neither is there any water; and our soul loatheth this light bread” (Num. 21:5).
Perhaps we sometimes are not sure what we desire or if it is out there, but because our hearts are cold towards the Lord, we aren’t satisfied. The father, no doubt with an aching heart, yielded to his younger son and divided to him his living. Now the stage was set for him to travel to a far country.
Send Me
How unlike our precious Saviour when addressing His Father! In contrast to the prodigal, our blessed Lord Jesus was ever with His Father—“the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father” (John 1:18). Proverbs 8:22-31 gives another lovely picture of that divine fellowship together. Yet in Isaiah 6:8 we have a glimpse of past eternity in the prophetic utterance: “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” How sweet to our hearts is the response, “Here am I; send Me.”
Whose Will?
What contrasts we see between the Son and the prodigal! The prodigal went away in self-will; the Son of God always did His Father’s will. Our Saviour came willing to do the will of His Father—“I do always those things that please Him” (John 8:29). Never was there one cloud of doubt as to the Son of (the Father’s) love in that eternal, divine fellowship.
Though the prodigal found it an easy path to leave his father’s house, it was not an easy pathway for our blessed Lord to leave His Father’s house. “Though He were a Son, yet learned He obedience by the things which He suffered” (Heb. 5:8).
Our blessed Lord’s journey was infinitely longer than the one the prodigal son took. But the eternal Son’s work was to do the will of His Father (John 5:30). “Lo, I come to do Thy will, O God” (Heb. 10:9).
Grief and Delight
How the heart of the prodigal’s father must have sunk as he saw his son walking into the distance. The son’s place at the father’s table was now empty. What thoughts must have run through the heart of that dear grieving father’s mind: Where was he? How was he doing? What was he doing?
Yet consider what thoughts were in the heart of the Father when His beloved Son was crucified and “made  .  .  .  sin for us, who knew no sin” (2 Cor. 5:21). The work of the Lord Jesus was to do the work of Him that sent Him (John 4:34). And thus in John 17:4 He could say, “I have finished the work which Thou gavest Me to do.” What satisfaction, what delight to the heart of God the Father. “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matt. 3:17).
Unlike the prodigal who was given the task of feeding the swine—which would have been a deep grief to his father—the eternal Son came to gather, guide, care for and feed the sheep (Psa. 23; John 10).
Joy, Feasting and Reward
What joy must have filled all heaven when the risen, eternal Son, as Man, ascended to the Father’s right hand! There was joy, too, in that father’s house when the prodigal returned—“they began to be merry.” There is no record of that joyful time ending, nor will there be an end to the eternity of glory and joy when we shall be found in the Father’s house, there to look upon the face of the blessed One who was “so marred more than any man.” His name will be in our foreheads (Rev. 22:4), and we shall see the wounds in that blessed side that secured forever our eternal blessing (Rev. 5:6).
The prodigal received the father’s kisses, the best robe, a ring and shoes for his feet. Our blessed Lord received the kiss of Judas, a scarlet robe of mockery and nails to pierce His hands and feet. But we shall see Him in that coming day of glory, “crowned with glory and honor” (Heb. 2:9), even as we see Him now by faith.
What an eternity of glory and rejoicing will be ours to share with our blessed Saviour! May our hearts give praise and worship to Him.
R. Mackewich (adapted)


“Be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Rom. 12:2).
The case of a Christian acting without knowing the will of God should never exist. The only rule that can be given is never to act when we do not know what is the Lord’s will. If you act in this ignorance, you are at the mercy of circumstances. However, God may turn all to the good of His children. But why act when we are ignorant of His will? Is the necessity of acting always so extremely pressing?
J. N. Darby (from Gems From My Reading)


“Thou shalt rise up before the hoary head, and honor the face of the old man, and fear thy God: I am the Lord” (Lev. 19:32).
I just appreciate a place of respect [when] given to the hoary head as Scripture says. I don’t understand young people who call their parents by their first names, even if, sad to say, they were brought up that way.
When someone gets to the point of having raised some children and gotten along in life and [gone on] with the Lord a bit, they typically have acquired some wisdom—spiritual and natural. That fact and the respect due is acknowledged in one way by the manner of addressing such an older one.
One of the marks of the last days is the lack of respect shown for every institution of God. Giving up the truth of God has resulted in terrible moral breakdown in Christian lands. It is vitally important to hold fast the precious truth of God in these dark days, and we see that the Word of God plainly talks of honor and respect that is to be shown to those who are older.
From a letter (adapted)


“I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, even where Satan’s seat is: and thou holdest fast My name, and hast not denied My faith” (Rev. 2:13).
The church of Pergamos had settled down into the world, the scene of Satan’s authority. This implies no outward or gross wickedness. Satan is quite content to see Christians becoming worldly. As long as they are untrue to Christ by admitting the world into their hearts, his object is gained quite as effectually as if he had betrayed them into the most abhorrent sin. When the religious world or any other takes the place to which Christ is entitled, the ardent love for His Person and the bright hope of His return disappear. Coldness, deadness, toleration of evil and indifference to His claims are sure to result. Open evil may or may not follow, but the mischief is done whether this is the case or not.
Gems From My Reading

Fault Finding

“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things” (Phil. 4:8).
I have never seen a family where the open discussion of the faults of saints (or their difficulties) did not have an adverse effect on their children.
“Let the words of my mouth  .  .  .  be acceptable in Thy sight, O Lord” (Psa. 19:14).
J. Greenway

"Feed the Flock": A Birdbrained Idea

Perhaps you’ve heard a person or an idea unkindly characterized as being “birdbrained.” This past spring I observed a truly “birdbrained idea.”
One March day—which in Iowa can be deceptively warm or genuinely cold and miserable—we were treated to a lovely spring-like day. So, though I didn’t use our grill, I removed its winter cover. Two months later we finally decided to barbecue. Opening the cover, I was shocked to find a large bird’s nest formed from leaves, twigs, grass and other debris.
To the pair of starlings, it must have appeared an excellent location for their nest. Its sturdy metal cover kept out the rain, wind and hail of spring storms, and its entrance opening was too small to admit egg-stealing squirrels. What a great place for a family!
Unfortunately, the birds didn’t understand the danger and significance of the metal tube at the bottom of the grill containing a row of small holes which was attached to a white propane tank below.
Had I not opened the grill lid prior to turning on the propane and clicking the starter button that day, both the birds and I would have received a very warm and unwelcome surprise.
I left the lid open while getting some things needed to clean the grill. Looking through the patio door, I could see the starlings landing on the exposed nest. The open lid told them that though their nest seemed undisturbed, something strange had happened. For several more minutes, they nervously flew back and forth, lighting on their nest, peering at the open lid and the interior, and then flying away. I removed the nest materials and then turned the burner on high, allowing the fire to do its cleansing.
The starlings, now seeing the lid closed, flew back to their home! This time they tried entering the nest through the gap in the lid they had previously used. Though the fire drove them back, they perched helplessly on the grill shelf, heads cocked, still unwilling to leave. Finally, convinced their nest was lost, they flew away, and I haven’t seen them since.
We may think it unfortunate that the birds spent so much effort building in a place soon to be destroyed. But we who are heavenly citizens ought to consider whether we may be doing the very same thing.
“The day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night  .  .  .  the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up” (2 Peter 3:10). The infallible Word of God could not be more clear: Everything we see around us will be destroyed by that fire of divine judgment. The Spirit then asks, “What manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness” (2 Peter 3:11). If we really believed a solemn judgment of God is soon to fall on this world, would we spend our time and energy trying to build a place of rest and safety in it?
For one hundred twenty years, Noah built a place of safety against coming judgment. We have no record he spent any of that time fixing up or building something secure outside the ark. May we—Christians—be as wise! “I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock” (Matt. 7:24).

"Feed the Flock": Beauty From Broken Pieces

The Royal Palace of Tehran, Iran, displays one of the most beautiful mosaic works in the world. Its ceilings and walls flash with awesome brilliance as though faced with thousands of diamonds sparkling with multifaceted reflections.
The architect’s original design of the palace specified huge glass sheets of mirrors be fitted to cover the walls. However, when the workmen opened the first shipment, they were stunned to find that the mirrors had been shattered. The contractor had them thrown into the trash, and then broke the sad news to the architect.
Surprisingly, the architect ordered all of the broken pieces of mirrors collected. He then had them smashed into tiny pieces and glued to the ceiling and wall surfaces, thereby creating a stunning mosaic of sparkling bits of broken mirrors.
How many “prodigal sons,” experiencing the heartache of a ruined life, have, amid the filth and despair of the pigpen, finally come to themselves, finding that their once-promising life now seems nothing more than a worthless pile of broken, useless fragments of mirrored glass. It appears impossible that anything beautiful, satisfying or rewarding could be rebuilt from such chaos.
But God  .  .  .  
Our blessed God—all-perfect, all-wise, all-loving, all-good and all-powerful—is the divine Architect. He is near those who have broken, contrite hearts. It is to the one who confesses and forsakes the path of self-will to whom God shows Himself “ready to forgive; and plenteous in mercy.”
David had run from Saul’s threats against his life to the enemies of God’s people, seeking there to find protection. All the faith that he exhibited against the mighty giant Goliath now seemed nothing more than a shattered pile of broken glass. Then, in the very midst of his seemingly ruined life (when all that he and his followers loved had been stolen), when his own men, because of their great grief, “spake of stoning him,” we read that “David encouraged himself in the Lord” (1 Sam. 30).
After this, the shattered pieces of failure were put back together by the divine Architect. When David asked the Lord what he should do (after encouraging himself in the Lord), we read, “And David enquired at the Lord, saying, Shall I pursue after this troop? shall I overtake them? And He answered him, Pursue: for thou shalt surely overtake them, and without fail recover all” (1 Sam. 30:8).
And what a bountiful recovery it was! “David recovered all that the Amalekites had carried away: and David rescued his two wives. And there was nothing lacking to them, neither small nor great, neither sons nor daughters, neither spoil, nor anything that they had taken to them: David recovered all” (1 Sam. 30:18-19). Beauty out of ruin!
Our God “is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think” (Eph. 3:20).

"Feed the Flock": Discouraged or Excited?

On a walk through a park, a man stopped to watch a “T-ball” baseball game being played by two teams of young boys. The air was filled with excitement as the coaches, parents and players from both teams shouted encouragement to each other.
“What’s the score,” the man asked an animated young player, as he sat down behind the team bench on the first-base side of the ball diamond.
Without hesitation, his voice tinged with anticipation and excitement, the little ball player turned to him grinning, “We’re behind fourteen to nothing!”
“Really?” the man answered in surprise. “Wow! You sure don’t look very discouraged.”
The little boy seemed puzzled by that comment. “Discouraged?” he said questioningly. “Why should we be discouraged? We haven’t batted yet!”
Discouragement is a weapon Satan frequently seems to wield against the people of God. But discouragement generally is the fruit produced from our unbelief in the goodness of God and His desire for our greatest joy and blessing.
It was so with the children of Israel who had been delivered from the awful bondage and sorrow of Pharaoh’s Egypt. After seeing the mighty arm of the Lord extended on their behalf in judgment on the Egyptians, protecting them through the Red Sea and then tenderly caring for their every need, they still complain in unbelief.
“They journeyed from mount Hor by the way of the Red sea, to compass the land of Edom: and the soul of the people was much discouraged because of the way” (Num. 21:4).
This spirit of unbelief in Jehovah’s love and goodness caused them to commit a terrible sin. “The people spake against God, and against Moses, Wherefore have ye brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? for there is no bread, neither is there any water; and our soul loatheth this light bread” (Num. 21:5).
Instead of being thankful for their deliverance from the bondage of Egypt, they accuse the Lord and His servant Moses of bringing them into the wilderness to die! Further, they despised God’s gracious provision for them of bread from heaven.
On the other hand, we see the opposite spirit with dear Nehemiah. Though deeply feeling the condition of the people of God in his day, dear Nehemiah did not give in to discouragement. He wept, fasted and prayed, but he did not become discouraged.
When the Lord allowed him to return to Jerusalem to rebuild the city, his enthusiasm and trust in the Lord are evidenced by his words to the elders: “Ye see the distress that we are in, how Jerusalem lieth waste, and the gates thereof are burned with fire: come, and let us build up the wall of Jerusalem, that we be no more a reproach. Then I told them of the hand of my God which was good upon me” (Neh. 2:17-18). The rulers’ answer shows the effect of Nehemiah’s encouragement: “They said, Let us rise up and build.” Let us, too, be encouragers!

"Feed the Flock": Encouragement

Many years ago, an elderly man knocked on the studio door of a world-famous artist. Known for his kindness and compassion, the artist admitted the old gentleman and inquired how he could help him.
Opening a packet of drawings he had made, the elderly man asked the artist to tell him if they were good, or, at the least, if they showed artistic potential.
After looking at the first few, the master knew they were worthless, showing little talent, and he, as gently as possible, gave the elderly man his opinion.
The visitor, though obviously disappointed, seemed to expect such an opinion. Apologizing for taking up more of the master’s time, he begged him to look at just one other set of drawings—these created by a young art student.
The great artist carefully looked them over and immediately became excited. The set of drawings showed great ability, sensitivity and artistic promise.
“These,” he enthused, “are incredible, excellent! This young person possesses great talent and extraordinary potential. Give him every possible help and encouragement to develop his art.
“Tell me,” the master continued, “is this young artist your son?”
Tears filling his eyes, the old man replied, “No. These also are my drawings. I did them over forty years ago. When I was learning to draw, my family and friends only criticized my efforts. I finally became discouraged and gave up. If only someone had said to me then what you have said to me now!”
Too often Christians do the very same thing to each other. We overlook opportunities to encourage one another. Hearing the world talk about paying compliments, we hesitate to do such a thing to another believer because it might cause pride. Instead we say nothing and others are discouraged.
Pride is indeed a hateful thing to God (see Prov. 8:13). But a compliment, in the form of an encouraging word, given to another Christian is not wrong. In fact, it may well be the very thing needed to help them continue in the path of faith.
Think how often the Lord gives each of His children a private, needed word of encouragement, and always at just the right time (Acts 27:23-24)!
Paul reminded Timothy that he was given a gift. But it was to encourage that timid disciple to stir it up and put it to use, not to puff him up in pride.
The Apostle also told Timothy to bring the once-unfaithful John Mark (see Acts 13:5,13) with him because he was now profitable to Paul. How many, through the ages, have read of the restoration of John Mark to service with the Apostle and have been encouraged!
The Apostle John’s expression of joy in Gaius’ faithfulness (3 John 3) was meant, not to cause him pride, but to encourage his heart to go on.
The Spirit of God calls Judas and Silas “chief men among the brethren” (Acts 15:22), not to cause pride, but to encourage all believers to be faithful. Are we seeking to do the same for each other in these dark, discouraging days?

"Feed the Flock": Expensive Embarrassment

Old Joe had lived all his life in the foothills of a mountain range where he had spent his hermit-like existence prospecting for gold. He was an embarrassment to his socially prominent family, each one wealthy and successful. They shunned their recluse brother, never visiting him at his shack in the woods nor having any contact with him.
Year after year, the prospector worked alone, without a friend except for another “loner,” a poor rancher who, with his small family, ran a few head of cattle on a little spread not far away. The rancher and his family were Joe’s only visitors.
One day the rancher stopped for a visit with the old prospector and found that he had died in his sleep. The family was notified and burial arrangements were hurriedly made.
A few days later an expensive car pulled up to the prospector’s shack. Several well-dressed, uncomfortable people—the prospector’s brothers and sisters—entered the shack. As they searched through the meager, decrepit belongings of their deceased sibling, the rancher knocked at the door.
“Didn’t know Joe had any family,” he said introducing himself.
“Our brother wasted his life. None of us tried to keep in contact with him because, frankly, he was an embarrassment to us. We didn’t have time to bother with him and his foolishness” came the haughty reply.
The rest nodded in agreement.
After a few more minutes examining the old shack, an exasperated sister said, “There’s nothing here but a pile of useless junk—just like Joe’s life—absolutely worthless. Let’s leave it, put the place up for sale, and let the new owner clean it up.”
The rest again nodded their agreement.
At that point they were interrupted by the rancher, who had been silently watching.
“If you folks ain’t gonna want any of Joe’s stuff here, would ya’ mind if I helped m’self?”
With a sneering laugh one of the brothers said, “You can have any of this trash you want.”
After they left, the rancher went to the huge, thick, rough-hewn table in the middle of the shack. He carefully lifted the heavy wooden planks to reveal a hidden opening which was filled with a fortune in gold nuggets. After staring at it a moment, he turned and looked out the door at the disappearing car.
“Too bad they didn’t take time to git to know ’im better,” he said shaking his head.
“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).
This was written to believers for a time when professing Christianity will publicly be ashamed of His glorious Person and His precious name. The Lord Jesus is looking for individual fellowship with each one of His blood-bought own—and what infinite riches He has to share with those who will open the door! Do you have time to get to know Him better?

"Feed the Flock": Forgotten Warning

Bill was unafraid of heights. As a boy, he liked to climb trees. In total disregard of the danger, Bill would find the tallest trees in his neighborhood and would climb right to their top. He also decided it would be fun to build tree houses. Soon he was constructing elaborate structures complete with walls, railings and roofs. But the ladders he built to reach them left a lot to be desired, for they were nothing more than short pieces of wood, nailed with two or three nails to the tree trunk.
These steps quickly worked loose. The great danger of stepping on them was painfully realized when a neighborhood friend tried climbing on them to reach the tree house. The cross piece he was holding suddenly came loose from the tree trunk, and he fell to the ground, breaking both his wrists.
Bill felt so miserable about his friend’s accident that he stopped building tree houses and ladders. That incident seemed to leave a strong warning about being careful of the danger from heights.
But the years passed, and Bill eventually forgot all about the incident and the warning. He began to build houses after he was married, and, still unafraid of heights, he scampered up and down roofs and stepped across open ceiling rafters (a very dangerous practice) without once thinking of danger.
A number of years later, Bill was working one day, helping his son build a house. Perched on a ladder twelve feet in the air, nailing loose rafters to the main cross beam of the roof, Bill thoughtlessly removed his foot from the safety of his ladder and placed it on the beam while he reached for a loose rafter. An instant later Bill was falling.
Poor Bill! He landed on his back, right on the edge of the brick fireplace opening. Dazed, in great pain from a broken back and unable to breathe well, Bill too late remembered the warning of the loose tree house step he had received long before.
The Bible speaks solemnly to those who continually reject God’s gracious warning regarding their responsibility to Him. “He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy” (Prov. 29:1).
God is very patient and long-suffering with rebellious man. He sends many warnings in a “soft gentle voice” (1 Kings 19:12 JnD), not delighting in judgment, for it is His strange work. Rather, we hear the beseeching words, “Today if ye will hear His voice, harden not your hearts” (Heb. 3:15).
But too often, like young King Zedekiah in 2 Chronicles 36:15, the spirit of self-will or indifference refuses to hear the gentle warnings. Rather than submitting to them, the natural heart is all too prone to mock the messengers of God and despise His words. How solemn to refuse to hear the Word of God delivered by the messengers of God!
“They mocked the messengers of God, and despised His words, and misused His prophets, until the wrath of the Lord arose  .  .  .  till there was no remedy” (2 Chron. 36:16).
L. Macy (excerpted)

"Feed the Flock": In the King's Presence

Mary, Queen of Scots (1542-1587), was known to have had a terrible temper, which at times made her angry and vengeful. When in this spirit, any who called upon her did so at considerable personal risk to their happiness and well-being.
John Knox, a student of John Calvin and a leader of the Protestant Reformation in Scotland, was an outspoken foe of the staunch Roman Catholic Queen Mary. Until 1567, when Mary was deposed from the throne, she and Knox had many fierce conflicts.
Once, at a time when she was in a particularly foul, angry mood, Knox was called into the presence of the Queen. One of her servants who himself was secretly a Protestant believer, knowing of her extremely bad spirit, rushed to Knox to warn him.
“Whatever you do, stay away from that woman. Don’t keep that appointment,” he cried frantically.
Knox is said to have calmly replied, “Why should I be afraid of spending a few minutes in the presence of the Queen, when I have just spent four hours in the presence of the King?”
We live in a dark world, ruled by its prince, Satan, who ever seeks to destroy the believer’s joy and testimony if he can. In order to walk free of his traps and obstacles, is it not vitally important that each child of God spend much time in earnest prayer? What strength, wisdom, peace and liberty may we have as we avail ourselves daily and often of the “throne of grace” (Heb. 4:16)!

"Feed the Flock": Riptide!

It was a beautiful summer morning at the beach. I stepped into the cool ocean water amazed that its surface seemed so calm. I looked forward to a happy day in the water without worrying about the safety of the children, but I didn’t realize that what was beneath the surface was different from what I saw.
We have an unseen enemy of our souls who is quietly working behind the scenes to make people think that all is well with their souls. But Satan is a liar and a deceiver who seeks to hide the seriousness, dangers and eternal consequences of sin.
Though I couldn’t see it, something was terribly wrong under the ocean’s surface that beautiful morning. I saw my granddaughter far ahead of me, already up to her neck in the water. She was not yet a good swimmer, so I called to her to come back. She cried out to me, “I can’t get back, Grampa!”
When I reached her, I felt a strong current pulling us out to sea. I was puzzled, because I’d never had any experience with a riptide. Thankfully, we were able to get into shallow, safe water where the others were who were warned to stay out of deep water.
But then I noticed that my brother-in-law (who was not a strong swimmer) was already very far out, struggling in the water. Wide-eyed with concern, he told me he couldn’t get back to shore. With a silent cry to the Lord Jesus for help, I swam to him. I took his arm, and, with both of us swimming as hard as we could, we finally got back to the shallow water.
But then it was my turn to need help, for I now had a terrible pain in my chest. My brother-in-law helped me to the shore where I sat in the cool water resting. I had been denying for a long time that I had a heart problem, but now it was obvious. Shortly afterwards, I was in a hospital and there received the necessary medical attention my heart required.
There are many thousands of men, women and children who are refusing to admit that they have a heart problem—one that is very different from my physical one, for their problem is sin. They may think, “I’m a good person—better than many. I’ve done my best, so when I die, I’ll go to heaven.”
They ignore God’s Word, which tells us in Jeremiah 17:9, “The heart is deceitful [dishonest] above all things, and desperately wicked.” We also read in Romans 3:10-11 That “there is none righteous, no, not one.  .  .  .  There is none that seeketh after God.” And Romans 3:23 sums it all up: “All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.”
But God has supplied a remedy for the heart problem of sin: “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son” (John 3:16) to die on Calvary’s cross, where He shed His precious blood that “cleanseth us from all sin” (1 John 1:7).
How foolish it would have been if I had said “no” to the medical treatment I needed!
Have you said “no” to the Lord Jesus? Where you spend eternity depends on your decision.
“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved” (Acts 16:31).
L. Macy (adapted)

"Feed the Flock": The Emperor's Problem

“We shall not find any occasion against this Daniel, except we find it against him concerning the law of his God” (Dan. 6:5).
Many centuries ago, a highly respected, much loved and faithful Christian was arrested and imprisoned by order of a heathen Roman emperor. The emperor, wishing to make an example of the believer, was in a quandary as to what punishment inflicted would be the most painful and cruel.
Sending for a leading pagan philosopher, he asked him, “What shall I do with this Christian? Shall I confiscate his goods?”
“It would be no use” was the reply, “for he says he possesses ‘the unsearchable riches of Christ.  ’  
“Well then, shall I imprison him for life in the darkest, foulest dungeon I have available?”
“No, imprisonment won’t work, for he says he has a ‘Friend that sticketh closer than a brother’ who has promised ‘never to leave or forsake him.  ’  
“Should I condemn him to banishment in a desert province?” cried the incredulous emperor.
“That will have no effect, for he already considers himself but a ‘stranger and a pilgrim’ in this world.”
With an angry exclamation, the emperor demanded, “What then shall I do with him? Shall I cut off his head, burn him, or throw him to the lions?”
“Most certainly not,” replied his adviser. “That is the very thing he would like, for he says to ‘die is gain.’ He actually desires, he says, to ‘depart and be with Christ, which is far better.  ’  ”
The frustrated emperor shouted, “Well, what then do you advise I order as the worst punishment—one that will cause him the most pain and suffering?”
The heathen philosopher paused, and then he looked at the emperor with a cunning smile. “As far as I can tell, mighty Caesar, there is but one—and only one—thing which will cause the Christian great pain and suffering. Entice him to sin.”
Peace of conscience and happiness of heart are entirely the responsibility of the believer. Our blessed Lord Jesus said in John 13:17, “If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.”
For the Christian, happiness and obedience can never be separated, and they are found in communion with the Father and the Son (John 14:23). We also read, “Blessed [happy] is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein” (Rev. 1:3).
The Lord Jesus was perfectly obedient in every step of His pathway. He said, “I do always those things that please Him [the Father]” (John 8:29). As man, save for those three terrible hours on Calvary when He was made sin for us, the Lord Jesus enjoyed the full light and joy of unbroken communion with God.
In John 15 the Lord connects the keeping of His word with abiding in His love. He desired that His disciples would be obedient to His Word in order that His joy might remain in them and they might know its fullness. Oh! How important is obedience! May we ever walk as “obedient children” (1 Peter 1:14).
Gems From My Reading (adapted)

"Feed the Flock": What's Really Important?

On a little brick building in an English village where Christians met, a sign proclaimed: “We Preach Christ Crucified.” For years, the gospel, presenting a crucified Saviour as the only means of salvation, was faithfully preached there.
But that generation passed on and the next, who considered the cross of Christ not as socially acceptable to the community, began preaching salvation by the Lord’s example rather than through His shed blood. Meanwhile ivy had begun to grow, creeping up the wall and covering the word crucified. The sign now read, “We Preach Christ.”
More time passed and eventually those who met there felt it was no longer religiously correct to confine the gospel strictly to the Person and work of Christ. Thus the sermons included politics, social issues, philosophy and morals—but not much of Christ.
All this time the ivy quietly continued to grow over the sign until, having covered the next word, it now proclaimed but two words: “We Preach.”
May we be ever found, as a dear brother often exhorted us, making much of Christ!
“The Spirit of truth  .  .  .  will guide you into all truth.  .  .  .  He shall glorify Me.  .  .  .  He shall receive of Mine, and shall show it unto you” (John 16:13-14).
“He that honoreth not the Son honoreth not the Father which hath sent Him” (John 5:23).
“God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Gal. 6:14).

"Feed the Flock": Who Moved?

Before they were married, the young couple, so deeply in love, couldn’t sit close enough to each other when riding in his car. Now, driving down the road over twenty-five years later, his wife sits against the passenger door. She seems pensive as she stares out the window. It is as though something is bothering her, but she can’t find words to express her feelings. From time to time she glances at her husband, begins to say something, but then lapses into silence. Finally, with a deep, longing sigh, she turns to her husband, saying, “Do you remember those days when we used to sit so close to each other that we looked like a two-headed driver? What’s happened?”
He glances back at her with a look of love that has grown deeper over the years. Then, with a sad smile, the answer comes back, “Yes, I do remember, honey. But I’m not the one who moved.”
“Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love (Rev. 2:4).
Can’t we hear our Saviour’s loving rebuke to our hearts today? Are our hearts stirred by His blessed voice lovingly rebuking us: “I’ve not moved. I am still the same yesterday, today and forever. You’ve moved from Me, and I feel it far more deeply than you.”
Our lives today are so full of bustling, rushing, demanding tasks that we rarely have time to enjoy communion with Christ. The green grass and “still waters” of fellowship with Him are lost to us in the hurried pace of the necessities of everyday life.
As daily individual time with the Lord is crowded out, time to gather together around Him in the midst with those that have “obtained like precious faith” is also pushed aside. The practical result is that we forsake “the assembling of ourselves together” (Heb. 10:25).
The furious pace of this technologically advanced world exacts a terrible price—private, individual time with the Lord Jesus, precious time gathered together with those of His beloved people for prayer and reading of His Word, and even the precious and all-too-short time that parents have to mold and train their children for Christ (Prov. 22:6). What a cost!
Most of all, however, our precious Saviour, who “loved His own which were in the world” (John 13:1) and who “gave Himself for us” (Titus 2:14), feels our waning affections. It is what brought that loving yet solemn rebuke to the Ephesian believers. They were outwardly going on well, apparently faithful, involved and active in the life of faith. Yet something was lacking—their personal love for Himself had diminished, and He felt it very deeply.
He didn’t move away from them, for His love is the same—divine, eternal, never changing. But they had moved away from Him.
Personal communion with and enjoyment of the blessed Lord Jesus is the necessary, vital spring of our Christian life and joy. Satan will do everything in His power to hinder or stop that flow of fellowship.
Yet the Lord Jesus will never move away from us. Have we moved away from Him (see Rev. 3:20)?

"Feed the Flock": Wrong Number - Right Advice

Awakened out of a deep sleep, the mother of a 16-year-old daughter shakily answered the phone.
She could barely hear a frightened girl’s voice whispering “Mom?” But as she grabbed her husband’s wrist, the sobbing voice became louder.
“Mom, I know it’s way late. But just let me finish before you say anything. I’ve been drinking and  .  .  . and I ran off the road a few blocks back and  .  .  .  ”
Holding her breath and pressing her hand against her forehead, the mother fought back panic and the urge to say something.
“And I got so scared. The car almost rolled over. I know I was wrong to run away, Mom. I want  .  .  .  to come home. I should have called you days ago, but I was afraid  .  .  .  ” The hurried words were interrupted by sobs.
Picturing her daughter’s face, the mother began to speak, “I’m afraid  .  .  .  ”
“No! Mom  .  .  .  please  .  .  .  you’ve got to let me talk! Please, let me finish!” the urgent voice pleaded.
“I’m in bad trouble, Mom. I think I might be pregnant and that’s why I ran away. I know I was wrong, but I was scared you’d get really mad at me.”
Her husband, now awake too, had grabbed the portable phone and the girl heard the click in the line. “Are you still there? Mom? Please don’t hang up on me! Please don’t be mad. I need you!”
After a moment, the mother, controlling her tears, managed to say, “I’m still here. I won’t hang up.”
“Mom, I know I should have told you  .  .  .  but I got so scared ’cause I didn’t think you’d listen to me  .  .  .  ”
As the voice trailed away, the mother whispered, “Honey, I’m listening now. ”
“The car’s not far from this phone booth. I walked back here and called a taxi and  .  .  .  uh  .  .  .  would you let me come home? Please, Mom?”
“Yes, honey, you come home. I’m not mad.”
There was a short silence. Then the girl’s relieved voice said, “You know, Mom, I think I could drive.”
“No! Do this for your mom, honey. Just wait for the taxi to come, and don’t hang up till it does.”
After a long, tense silence, “There’s the taxi. I’m coming home now, Mom, ” and the phone clicked off.
As though needing reassurance, the parents softly opened the door of their daughter’s bedroom and gazed with relief at their peacefully sleeping child.
“Wonder what’ll happen when the girl realizes she called our number by mistake?” whispered her dad.
What sorrow can result when vital lines of communication between parents and children are broken.
In Proverbs, divine wisdom for this life is often communicated to children. It begins with a father’s plea to “my son” (ch. 1:8) to hear, and it ends with the same earnest entreaty from a mother (ch. 31:2).
Abraham had a prompt “Here am I, my son” for his son Isaac’s question. Hebrew fathers were to have a ready answer whenever “thy son asketh thee. ”
May parents diligently and prayerfully always be in a listening attitude—first to God, then to their children. “Mine ears hast Thou opened” (Psa. 40:6).

For Dads

“All our days pass.  .  .  .  We spend our years as a passing thought.  .  .  .  And if, by reason of strength, they be fourscore years, yet  .  .  .  it is soon cut off, and we fly away” (Psa. 90:9-10 JND).
With a sense of urgency regarding the very short time parents have to be with their beloved children, bringing them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, we share the following poem. We urge dads and moms—especially those with little ones still at home—to read it prayerfully.
A little girl with shining eyes,
Her sweet little face aglow,
Said, “Daddy, it’s almost time for
Sunday school. Come on! Please, let’s go!
They teach us there of Jesus’ love,
Of how He died for all,
To save all people from their sins,
Each one on Him who call.”
“Oh, no!” said Daddy. “Not today.
I’ve worked hard the whole long week.
This is my day to have some fun;
I’m going to the creek.
For there I can relax and rest;
The fishing’s fine they say.
Run along, dear; don’t bother me;
We’ll go to church someday.”
The months and years have passed away;
Now Daddy hears that plea no more—
“Let’s go to Sunday school”;
Those days of childhood are o’er.
And now Daddy’s growing old;
His parenting work is nearly through,
When He finally finds time to go to church,
But what does his daughter do?
She says, “O Daddy, not today;
I stayed up almost all the night;
I’ve just got to get some sleep;
Besides, I look a fright.”
Then Daddy lifts a trembling hand
To brush away the tears,
As again he hears the pleading voice,
Come distinctly from past years.
Again He sees a small girl’s shining face,
Upturned with eyes aglow,
As she says, “It’s time for Sunday school,
Please, Daddy, won’t you go?”
Beloved dad and mom! You only have now with your little ones—only the present moment to teach them of the blessed Lord Jesus, to give them an appetite for His lovely Person. You have only today to win their hearts for Jesus, so that when they grow older (as they quickly will), He and His assembly will be increasingly precious to them. Is Jesus Christ precious to you? Is His assembly precious to you? Let your actions first bear witness—then your words!
“Redeeming the time” (Eph. 5:16).


Where do you get practical holiness? From being with God. It’s the poor, broken, self-judged creature who says, “I am not worthy to go unto You,” and yet goes anyway—thus reflecting the One you’ve been with.
Spiritual Gems for the Path of Faith


Whenever you feel anger or bitterness within you at the failure of another believer, it is a sure proof that you have never really judged that thing in yourself—the very thing in your brother that angers you.
Spiritual Gems for the Path of Faith


The truest witness will be the greatest sufferer.
Spiritual Gems for the Path of Faith


We can’t work our way to heaven, but we ought to work on our way to heaven.
Spiritual Gems for the Path of Faith


A wise balance: having a lot to say and not saying it.
“In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin.  .  .  .  He that refraineth his lips is wise” (Prov. 10:19).


You cannot hold the truth that has been steeped in the sufferings and sorrows of the blessed Lord Jesus Christ as dry doctrine. Every bit of such divine truth cost Him untold agonies.
Spiritual Gems for the Path of Faith


If Christ is your Saviour and He left you just as you were before you were saved and right where you were before you were saved, from what has He saved you? “If anyone be in Christ, there is a new creation.  .  .  . Behold all things have become new” (2 Cor. 5:17 JND).


Take the narrowest ground with yourself and the widest possible ground with others.
J. N. Darby (adapted from a letter)


Love your brethren. Serve them faithfully. Overlook all the faults you can, but make none of them the object of your Christian life. Let that be Christ.
H. E. Hayhoe


We should trust the Lord to make things plain in His time and seek to go on in happy fellowship with each other and the Lord (see 1 Cor. 16:12). Of course, we don’t do this to allow moral evil or bad doctrine. But whenever we can, we do it for the respect of the other’s conscience (see Rom. 14). May we each personally take heed to the Apostle’s beseeching and not go on any longer being at odds and of a different mind with our brethren. That cannot be in the Lord!
M. Payette (adapted)


We have to seek that communion with Christ be as strong as all the doctrines we hold or teach. Without that, the doctrine itself will have no force. And besides, we shall not be with God in it, and that is everything.
Spiritual Gems for the Path of Faith


If I present Christ to the soul and plead His claims with the heart, I raise the standard of devotedness and service for Him. But if the mind only is occupied, there will not be produced the needed light, freedom and affection.
The Present Testimony


“He then lying on Jesus’ breast saith unto Him, Lord” (John 13:25).
We get right impressions by living with Christ. John did not go and get a place near Christ in order to know His secrets, but he had a place near Christ, and then the secrets were given to Him.
J. N. Darby


Prevent truth decay—read your Bible daily!
From an outdoor sign

Full of Christ

“Hath put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be the head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him that filleth all in all” (Eph. 1:22-23).
One who wanted to be to the praise of God could do no better than to be full of the Lord Jesus Christ. I meet aged saints full of Christ, saying, “I’m done with this world, but I have Christ. He is the only thing I have to speak of—He is all.” Nothing is better than that. If I look around, I see in saints, not want of intelligence or lack of knowledge or want of activity, but lacking affections full of Christ. There is plenty of oil in the machine that is full of Christ. If the heart is full of Christ and joy in the Holy Spirit, we have our real portion. The early Christians were so full of Christ that all their trials were nothing. Why is it not so with us?
G. V. Wigram

God's Love and the Conscience

“We have known and believed the love that God hath to us” (1 John 4:16).
Love cannot be enjoyed if there is a bad conscience. You must get the conscience purged. Satan may act on the conscience, as well as the Spirit of God—Satan always acts in the way of despair, while the Spirit of God always points to a resource in God.
The distressed soul feels there is goodness in God, if it can only get at it. The prodigal knew his need—there is “bread enough and to spare” in my father’s house (Luke 15:17). Thus the soul knows and believes God’s love. When the Father is on the neck of the prodigal, that settles every question.
Having peace with God, we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand. “God is love” (1 John 4:16)—not a word of what man is. God is love—that is the only God I know and the only way that I can know Him. I have sins, but they have all been judged in Christ; God will not judge them again.
What difficulty we have in believing what God really is!
J. N. Darby (Gems From My Reading; adapted)

Grace in Discipline

In the closing chapters of the book of Judges (read Judges 19-21), there is an account given which very forcefully reveals the truth of Jeremiah 17: “The [human] heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it.”
Judging the Sin
The sin described in Judges 19 was perpetrated by the tribe of Benjamin, and it was so grievous that Benjamin’s brothers (the eleven other tribes) were of one mind to administer judgment against him. Reading the details of this shocking trespass (Judg. 19:22-30) is sufficient to know that the eleven tribes were right in seeing that judgment should fall.
The eleven tribes had yet to learn that those who undertake to wield the rod of judgment (God’s strange work; Isa. 28:21) must do so in a spirit of meekness, not in one of self-aggrandizement (Gal. 6:1). The eleven tribes had to learn this lesson painfully, for after the ensuing battles were ended, they had lost 40,000 men while Benjamin had lost only 26,000. This comparison, however, doesn’t tell the complete story, because the tribe of Benjamin was practically obliterated, having only 600 survivors.
Feeling the Sin
The eleven tribes also had to feel the full burden of what had taken place. They made great lamentations for their brother. They wept and cried out, “Why  .  .  . should [there] be today, one tribe lacking in Israel?” (Judg. 20:26; 21:23,6). It will be noted that there was much weeping and repenting before the Lord. This is the necessary prerequisite to fulfill the prophecy of Psalm 30:5, “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.” There is also the testimony of Nineveh’s king, who rightly ascribed to Israel’s God a prospect of mercy when His judgment seemed imminent (Jonah 3:9-10).
Mercy for the Guilty
And so with the knowledge of these Scriptures, some might wonder if God’s mercy could possibly prevail in the case of Benjamin, whose sin was so great that it defies human imagination. The question becomes not only could Benjamin be restored in God’s sight, but would he ever be able to once again win back the respect of his brethren?
Grace Abounding
The answer is found in 1 Samuel 9:15-17. It is stated here that when the time came for Israel to be ruled by a king, their very first king was Saul of the tribe of Benjamin. He reigned over the twelve tribes of Israel for forty years. And in Romans 11:1 it is recorded that the Apostle Paul was also of the tribe of Benjamin. He labored some thirty years, unifying and strengthening the early churches that sprang up in Europe and Asia Minor. And so it is evident that God’s mercy did indeed reach down to the depths of despair, and not only restored the tribe of Benjamin, but placed them in a position of prominence with their brethren. “Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound” (Rom. 5:20).
An Example for Our Learning
The example of Benjamin’s restoration may serve as a source of encouragement when discipline must be inflicted in the local assembly. It is well to remember that the Lord has allowed the breach, for “the cause was from the Lord” (1 Kings 12:15). The first concern should be that one of the members of Christ’s body is now lacking from the assembly. Surely this is “a time to weep” (Eccl. 3:4). It is also a time to acknowledge a lack of diligence in warning of the enemy’s desire to make inroads into our very midst. It is a time to encourage repentance and restoration. And, finally, it is a time to remember that “with God all things are possible” (Matt. 19:26) and that “He is plenteous in mercy” (Psa. 86:5).
R. Erisman

"Greater Love Hath No Man Than This"

“Then said He, Lo, I come to do Thy will, O God” (Heb. 10:9).
“Therefore doth My Father love Me, because I lay down My life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again” (John 10:17-18).
On September 11, 2001, United Airlines flight 93 was hijacked, apparently headed for an unknown destination in Washington D.C. The passengers on board had learned via cell phones that two other hijacked flights had been deliberately flown into the World Trade Center towers in New York. One of the men on board is quoted as saying to his wife on the cell phone, “I know we’re all going to die. There’s three of us who are going to do something about it.”
The brave passengers on board did just that, and flight 93 crashed into the ground in Pennsylvania. Although forty-five people lost their lives in that crash, who can tell how many hundreds or even thousands of lives their heroic act may have saved?
We would not detract from the bravery of those on flight 93, but we must say that they were in a situation beyond their control. They knew that more than likely they would die, so they acted according to the dictates of those circumstances.
But it was not so with our blessed Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ! He was not a victim of circumstance. He was fully in control and perfectly knew what must be done.
He willingly put Himself in harm’s way, though none could take His life from Him. He laid it down of Himself, having power to lay it down and power to take it again (John 10:18). The Son came from God’s eternal counsels (before earth’s foundations were laid) to suffer and die that we—sinners—might live.
What a God and Saviour! Because of what the Lord Jesus Christ did, each believer can say, “I am forgiven. His blood has washed my sins, with all their terrible guilt, away.” We now have a new life fit for heaven and a blessed hope for the future!
How can we express gratitude for such infinite love and grace? How can our thoughts or words tell out the value or plumb the depths of who He is and what He has accomplished? Though beyond our abilities, He has provided a way—simple, yet profound: a loaf and a cup on a table—His table—and a request that we remember Him in His death (Luke 22:14-20). What wonderful provision!
“The Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me” (Gal. 2:20).
D. Martens

Happy Children

“Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ” (Col. 3:24).
Parents, do you wish to see your children happy? Take care then that you train them to obey when they are spoken to—to do as they are bid immediately. We are not made for independence; we are not fit for it. Even Christ’s freemen have a yoke to wear: They serve the Lord Christ (1 Cor. 7:22; Col. 3:24).
Children cannot learn too soon that this is a world in which Christians are not intended to rule and that believers are never in their right place until they know how to obey.
Teach them to obey while young, or else they will be fretting against God all their lives long and will wear themselves out with the vain idea of being independent of His control.
You will see many in this day who allow their children to choose and think for themselves long before they are able, and they even make excuses for their disobedience, as if such a sad thing was something not to be blamed.
To my eyes, a parent always yielding and a child always having its own way is a most painful sight-painful because I see God’s appointed order of things inverted and turned upside down and painful because I feel sure the consequence to that child’s character in the end will be unhappiness, self-will and self-conceit.
“Children, obey” (Eph. 6:1; Col. 3:20).
From Gems From My Reading

Has the Church Age Ended? Review of a Growing Heresy

Whether we should be or not, it is a fact that many of us have been listening to the programming of Family RadioE, a professedly Christian network of forty-one stations throughout the U.S.A. and on short-wave and the Internet.
Recently, Harold Camping, the President and General Manager of Family RadioE has been teaching that the church age is over and that the work of evangelism has been given to institutions such as his network. He also has been teaching that believers should “depart out” of their churches, that the Lord’s supper is a thing of the past, not to be celebrated, and that pastors and deacons no longer can function.
His forceful teaching, which contains elements of truth, is propagated about twenty-five hours a week, and his skewed, convoluted and wicked doctrines are promoted in free books offered throughout the day. Unfortunately, he has a very loyal following of real believers who are being deceived by his teaching.
To put things in perspective, he is the “false prophet” who wrote a book dogmatically stating that the end of the world would come in September 1994. He explained and justified his colossal error by citing Jonah’s preaching: “Yet forty days and Nineveh shall be overthrown!”
I feel compelled to warn the beloved saints against Mr. Camping’s false teachings, and I strongly suggest turning him and his network off in your household. “Take heed what ye hear” was the Lord’s advice when He was here on earth.
The church goes on to the coming of the Lord, while the gifts He has given are for the edification of the body, until “we all come in the unity of the faith” (Eph. 4:13).
Mr. Camping also teaches the wicked doctrine of reprobation (that God chose some to be lost) and that the Lord went to the cross with our sins upon Him. “Who His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree” (1 Peter 2:24).
He further denies the biblical doctrine of propitiation and limits John 3:16 to the elect. Confounding Israel and the church, it is not surprising that he also denies any future blessing or restoration for the nation of Israel, thus robbing the Lord Jesus of the joy pictured in Genesis 45, when Joseph’s brethren were reconciled to him—as well as the wonderful time prophesied in Zechariah 12-13.
Despite some very good material being broadcast, Family RadioE is systematically eliminating any programs which counter Mr. Camping’s errors (such as the Pacific Garden Mission’s true story series of conversions to Christ— “Unshackled!”). Even hymns referring to the church are being eliminated.
For these reasons, I lovingly urge my dear brethren not to listen to or financially support Family RadioE. Further, let’s pray for the many employees of this network that are confused as to the path the Lord would have them follow. May the Lord, in His own perfect way, show the folly of this wicked teaching and bring an “acknowledging of the truth” (2 Tim. 2:25).
R. K. Gorgas (May 2002)

Have You Reread the Love Letter?

A dear brother, recently speaking to a group of children and young people, recalled the time when he had to leave a very special young lady who had won his heart and enter the armed services. While he was away on active duty, he wrote a letter to her every day. One time she wrote that she had not received a letter from him one day, but the next day she received two of them. She told him she had reread his previous letters while waiting for a new one. The brother then asked the children and young people why they thought she would reread a letter when she already knew what it said! After a pause, a dear teenage believer, with a knowing grin, answered, “Because she loved you.”
What a simple and sweet object lesson! We have received a divine and perfect love letter—the Holy Scriptures—from One who loves us with an infinite and eternal love. Do we show our love to Him by continually reading and rereading His Word? May our hearts be exercised to be found always reading the living Letter from His heart of love to us!
“How sweet are Thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” (Psa. 119:103).
“I have esteemed the words of His mouth more than my necessary food” (Job 23:12).
L. Renaud (from a children’s talk)

A Holy, Moral Balance

“When He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth” (John 16:13).
It is always well to avoid an ultra one-sided way of stating things. It damages truth and stumbles souls. It perplexes the anxious and gives a plea to the caviler (to one who raises trivial or frivolous objections). The full truth of God should always be unfolded, and thus all will be right. Truth puts men and things in their right places and maintains a holy, moral balance which is absolutely priceless.
C. H. Mackintosh

The Holy Scriptures

The book of Joshua begins where Deuteronomy ends. Moses having died on mount Pisgah, it is now Joshua who will, by divine appointment (Num. 27:18-23; Deut. 1:38; 3:28), lead the children of Israel into the Promised Land—“unto the land which I do give to them” (Josh. 1:2). It was not for the lawgiver Moses to bring them into the land of Canaan. They would not claim the land on the ground of their righteousness, but according to the promises made to their fathers (Josh. 1:6).
Born in Egypt, Joshua pictures to us Christ as the leader or captain of His saints. In Hebrew, Joshua means “Jehovah is salvation” and is translated in the Greek as Jesus (Acts 7:45). While the passage through the Red Sea typifies Christ’s death for the believer, the passage through the Jordan typifies the believer’s death with Christ and being raised with Him.
Before conflict begins, they eat of the old corn of the land (Josh. 5:11)—a picture to us of a heavenly Christ, upon whom those who have spiritually passed through Jordan feed. The manna—heavenly grace for wilderness circumstances—ceased on the next day, and from that day forward they ate of the fruit of the land (Josh. 5:12).
Joshua is a book of victorious power; Judges, a book of failure and weakness. Gilgal—circumcision (death to the flesh)—is exchanged for Bochim, a place of weeping (Judg. 2). But the angel of the Lord is there (Judg. 2:1). The children of Israel had been told, “Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you” (Josh. 1:3). Nevertheless the energy of faith quickly gave way to complacency and unbelief.
Having failed to secure for themselves the land that God had given them, they made leagues with its inhabitants in direct disobedience to God (Deut. 7:2). These inhabitants, allowed to remain of God to prove them (Judg. 2:3,21-22), quickly became a snare.
Upon the death of Joshua we find no successor. Rather, God in mercy raises up judges with authority over a limited portion of the country. Thirteen judges are recorded by name. During these times of revival, the children of Israel repent and are delivered, only to return to their evil ways upon the death of that judge—corrupting themselves worse than their fathers (Judg. 2:13-19).
It was a time in which every man did that which was right in his own eyes (Judg. 21:25). It is helpful to note that chapters 17-21 are not chronological, but rather follow a moral order.
The opening verse of the book of Ruth gives us the time and setting of this brief narrative, historically and morally. “Now it came to pass in the days when the judges ruled, that there was a famine in the land” (Ruth 1:1). Ruin and failure characterize the book of Judges, while grace and life are characteristic of Ruth, as well as faith that lays hold of that grace and appropriates it.
The meanings of names have great importance in this book which takes up the family of Elimelech (“my God is King”), his wife Naomi (“my pleasantness”), and their two sons Mahlon (“sickness”) and Chilion (“consumption”).
Living in Bethlehem (“house of bread”), a famine sends them to the country of Moab for refuge. There the sons marry, and Elimelech, Mahlon, and Chilion all die, leaving three widows. Ruth returns with her mother-in-law to Bethlehem, and by faith and through Boaz (“in him is strength”) is brought into blessing.
Naomi, who had requested that she be called Mara (“bitterness”) when returning, now receives Boaz and Ruth’s child into her own bosom: “There is a son born to Naomi; and they called his name Obed” (Ruth 4:17). Obed is the grandfather of David (Ruth 4:17).
Prophetically, Ruth represents the future Jewish remnant. Portrayed as a Gentile destitute of right or title, she identifies herself with the desolate and afflicted people (Mara). Boaz, a figure of Christ, undertakes the cause of Ruth, marries her, redeems the inheritance (the land of Palestine), and raises up the lost memorial of Israel.
1 Samuel
First Samuel is a continuation of the historic account of Judges, with the book of Ruth forming an important link between the two, for it introduces the royal linage descending from Judah. The two books of Samuel (which originally formed a single volume) take us to the establishment of the kingdom in David.
Before David, we have a transitional period. In Eli and his sons the priesthood fails (1 Sam. 2:12-36). The priesthood had been the immediate link between the people and God. With the ark taken by the Philistines (1 Sam. 4), there is a total breach.
God comes in His own sovereign way, introducing the prophet (1 Sam. 3:1921). Samuel becomes the first in a long list of prophets continuing until John the Baptist. The people cry, “Make us a king to judge us like all the nations” (1 Sam. 8:5), and are given Saul (1 Sam. 12:13). However, God’s kingdom cannot be established on the ground of the flesh, and Saul is unable to stand before the enemy. This brings in David, a man after God’s own heart (1 Sam. 13:14), who is rejected by Saul and the people.
2 Samuel
David’s kingdom is finally established in power, first in Hebron over Judah for seven and a half years (2 Sam. 14) and then over all Israel (2 Sam. 5).
David, who was not man’s choice but the sovereign election of God, reigned forty years. His life and reign present, in type, Christ and the establishment of His kingdom.
But as with all men, David fails. Second Samuel closes with judgment from Dan even to Beer-sheba (2 Sam. 24:15). Jehovah, acting in mercy, stays the hand of the angel from destroying Jerusalem, while David intercedes for the people, owning the sin as his own (2 Sam. 24:17).
Sacrifice is offered on Moriah (where Abraham offered up Isaac) and atonement is made. This presents a vivid, prophetic picture of God’s dealings with Israel and of their restoration in a coming day.
N. Simon

The Holy Scriptures

1 & 2 Kings
The two books of Kings, like those of Samuel, originally formed a single volume. Beginning with Solomon’s reign of righteousness, peace and glory, they end with Israel in captivity and all in ruin. In the Kings, as with Samuel, we have man in responsibility. Sadly we find that Solomon himself—blessed by Jehovah more than any other in wisdom, glory and riches—sows the seeds for the ruin. “King Solomon loved many strange women.  .  .  .  When Solomon was old  .  .  . his wives turned away his heart after other gods” (1 Kings 11:1,4).
Upon the death of Solomon the kingdom is divided into two. Ten tribes are given into the hand of Jeroboam, a ruler over the house of Joseph (1 Kings 11:28), while Rehoboam, Solomon’s son, is left with just two tribes, Judah and Benjamin. The two kingdoms (to be united again in a future day under Christ the King) are known as Israel (ten tribes) and Judah (two tribes).
Fearing lest the people should return to Jerusalem to sacrifice, Jeroboam established a false religion (1 Kings 12:25-33). Making two golden calves, he placed one in the southern town of Bethel and the other in Dan in the north, declaring, “Behold thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt” (1 Kings 12:28). This counterfeit religion displaced the true, to which Israel never returned (2 Kings 17:22).
From the twelfth chapter of 1 Kings to the first chapter of 2 Kings we have the ministry of the prophet Elijah, while from the second chapter to the thirteenth chapter we have that of Elisha. Miracles (especially reserved for Israel) that had not been seen since the day of Moses were performed. Israel’s apostasy culminates with their being taken captive by the Assyrians in 2 Kings 17. The Assyrians replace the displaced people with men from other lands; these became known as the Samaritans. After the captivity of Israel, the closing days of Judah’s history under the kings is taken up.
Until this time, the books of Kings have been chiefly occupied with the history of Israel. Though there were kings of Judah that “did that which was right in the sight of the Lord,” as a nation they failed to heed the warning of Israel’s captivity and forsook the Lord, falling into the same sin of idolatry (Jeremiah 3:8). The book of 2 Kings concludes with the captivity of Judah under the Chaldeans. That which the prophet Hosea forewarned them is fulfilled (Hosea 1:9).
1 & 2 Chronicles
To the natural mind, Chronicles may appear to be a rather incomplete adjunct to the book of Kings. However, nothing could be farther from the truth. We have moved from a historic account of the decline and captivity of Israel and Judah to a new division, a different time and a new subject.
Though grouped with Kings in the familiar Old Testament arrangement, this book falls within that part of Scripture called the “Writings,” and it was written after the captivity (1 Chron. 6:15; 3:17-24). Whereas man in responsibility was the subject of Samuel and Kings, here we have God’s sovereignty acting in grace to fulfill His promises and accomplish His purposes. David and Solomon are specially seen as types of Christ. It is Israel’s history as God delighted to see it.
The first nine chapters of 1 Chronicles consist of genealogies—particularly important to a Jew returning from captivity (see Ezra 2:5-9). In just one chapter, the tenth, we have Saul’s reign introduced and dismissed. Immediately then the kingdom is established in David. We do not read of David’s sin with Bathsheba or of Absalom’s rebellion, nor are Solomon’s failures recorded.
However, in Chronicles, as in Samuel, David’s sin in numbering the people is mentioned. But in Chronicles it is not, “Let us fall now into the hand of the Lord” (2 Sam. 24:14); rather, “let me fall now into the hand of the Lord” (1 Chron. 21:13).
We don’t read in Chronicles of David buying the threshing floor and the oxen for fifty shekels of silver (2 Sam. 24:24); rather, David gives to Ornan six hundred shekels of gold by weight (1 Chron. 21:25). One is for the threshing floor and the other for the place—not just the treasure now, but the whole field (see Matt. 13:44). It is not measured in silver—the price of redemption—which is consistent with the book of Samuel. Rather, here it is measured in gold, the inestimable value of Christ’s work at Calvary as seen in the eyes of God.
N. Simon

The Holy Scriptures

Ezra, Nehemiah and Esther are the last historical books of the Old Testament. All three are post-captivity. Ezra and Nehemiah consider the remnant of Jews that returned to Judah, while Esther takes place in the land of their exile. This was the “times of the Gentiles” (Luke 21:24). The book of Ezra describes the construction of the temple; Nehemiah, the restoration of the city of Jerusalem. Ezra, the priest and a ready scribe, was concerned with the ecclesiastical state of things, while Nehemiah, the King’s cupbearer and governor of Judah, was occupied with the civil. In these books we see faith displayed in the day of ruin.
Ezra begins in the time of Cyrus (Ezra 1:1) and continues through the reigns of Ahasuerus (Cambyses; ch. 4:6), Artaxerxes (Smerdis; ch. 4:7), and Darius (Darius Hystaspis; ch. 4:24), during the second year of whose reign Haggai and Zechariah prophesy (Hag. 1:1; Zech. 1:1). The events of Esther follow, taking place during the reign of Ahasuerus (Xerxes), while the latter part of Ezra and the entire book of Nehemiah occur during the reign of his son, Artaxerxes—Artaxerxes Longimanus (Ezra 7; Neh. 2:1).
The return to Jerusalem of the Jews from captivity was not a random event at the whim of the king, but rather one whose precise time had been prophesied by Jeremiah: “For thus saith the Lord, That after seventy years be accomplished at Babylon I will visit you, and perform My good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place” (Jer. 29:10). Further, the very sovereign under whose hand this would take place, Cyrus, was named long before (Isa. 44:28).
Before the foundation of the temple was laid, the altar was raised up, for therein was their refuge. But the enemy is always ready to hinder. Seeking first to join with them, then in open opposition, he sought to bring the work to a halt (Ezra 4). Discouragement set in and the work ceased—long before Artaxerxes’s edict (ch. 4:17-24). The condition of the people had to be addressed before God moved the king, and the prophets Haggai and Zechariah were raised up to this end (Ezra 5:1). The temple was finally completed—though without the ark it was an empty house.
The book of Nehemiah commences in the twentieth year of Artaxerxes—a very important date, for it begins the prophetic seventy weeks of Daniel (Dan. 9:25). In that year the command to build and restore Jerusalem was given to Nehemiah (Neh. 12). Again, the enemy tried to hinder the work, for these were troublous times. There were enemies not only without but also within. With a weapon in one hand, they built with the other (Neh. 4:17) until the work was complete, for it was wrought by God (Neh. 3-6).
In Nehemiah 9 the people bind themselves by a covenant, only to prove again that there is no power within man to keep what he promises. At the end of the twelve years, after a brief visit to Artaxerxes (Neh. 13:6), Nehemiah returns to find the enemy dwelling within the courts of the house of God, the Levites neglected, the Sabbath violated, and the people again united with the strangers of the land (Neh. 13:7-28). Such is the continual failure of the first Adam—fully proven at Calvary.
The events described in the book of Esther occurred during the reign of Ahasuerus (Xerxes), the father of the Artaxerxes of Ezra 7. The mass of Jews had remained in their land of captivity, even though the proclamation of Cyrus (Ezra 1:1) had gone out more than half a century earlier. The name of God is not once mentioned in this book, but God’s ways are sure. Though hidden, He will deliver His people, even when He can no longer publicly own them.
As a result of Queen Vashti’s rebellion (Esther 1:11-12), she is set aside and her royal estate is given unto another better than she (Esther 1:19)—Esther—the cousin of Mordecai, a captive of the tribe of Benjamin. Esther was an orphaned Jewess, very beautiful, and was as a daughter to Mordecai (Esther 2:7).
When Esther becomes queen, Mordecai stays, a despised Jew, in the king’s gate. Haman the Agagite (an Amalekite; 1 Samuel 15:8) plots the destruction of Mordecai and all Jews. But Mordecai is exalted; the adversary of the Jews (Haman) is exposed and destroyed, as well as the Jews’ enemies (Esther 6-7). The book closes with Mordecai promoted to the second place in the kingdom (Esther 10:3).
There are many practical lessons found in Esther, but the primary subject of this book is God’s earthly people. The church has failed to show her beauty (Rom. 11:21-24), and the Jewish bride will supersede her. The Gentile opposer of the Jews must be judged, and the despised Mordecai—a picture of Christ—must be exalted as the Head over all things.
In our Old Testament arrangement, the book of Job marks the beginning of the poetic books. Chronologically it would appear to fall during the latter portion of Genesis—after the flood and before the law. Job, an actual person (Ezekiel 14:14; James 5:11), lived in the land of Uz, generally understood to be in Arabia. He was one who, by God’s own testimony, was perfect and upright, “one that feareth God, and escheweth evil” (Job 1:8). The entire account is about Job’s extraordinary trial.
This book has been widely misunderstood, and many fall into the same trap as Job’s friends—that Job brought his suffering upon himself because of his sins.
Man by nature views his prosperity as God’s approval and affliction as His disapproval—yet clearly there are instances where the wicked prosper (ch. 21) and, as in this case, where the righteous suffer. This view of God has terrible implications.
There was a needs-be in Job’s life. However, the question was not, “What is this that thou hast done?” (Gen. 3:13), but rather, “Where art thou?” (Gen. 3:9). The book considers man’s state in nature quite apart from any question of sins committed. Man would seek to justify himself before God—and surely such a man as Job had plenty to rest upon—but he does not know that he is entirely at enmity with God.
Aside from the first two chapters in which we learn the origin of Job’s trial, the remaining chapters are a dialogue between Job and his three friends (Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar; ch. 3-31), Elihu (ch. 32-37), and finally the Lord Himself (ch. 38-42).
Eliphaz speaks from experience (ch. 4:8; 15:10). But God cannot be found by experience, and this is reflected in his comments (ch. 22:3). We only know God by the revelation that He makes of Himself.
Bildad speaks from the conscience (ch. 8:6). But conscience condemns man without remedy. Like his friends, Bildad views the government of God as the full measure and display of His righteousness, a doctrine that proves our utter ignorance of God.
Zophar is a legalist—do and you will live (ch. 11:13-15). But man has no power to please God through good deeds.
In Elihu, we have in type the mediator, of whom Christ is the fulfillment. Elihu points Job’s thoughts away from himself towards God. In his trial Job failed to see that God was for him. Elihu’s heart yearned for Job (ch. 32:19).
Job finally hears the Lord answer him out of the whirlwind (ch. 38:1). With his eye now fixed on God and His glorious power revealed in creation, Job can only say, “I have heard of Thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth Thee. Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes” (ch. 42:56). Therein is Job’s deliverance in the measure that he could know it—God is the justifier; He has found a ransom (ch. 33:24).
N. Simon

The Holy Scriptures

The Book of Psalms
The Book of Psalms is a collection of meditations, prayers and praises. While the book has a distinctly prophetic character, it is not a formal declaration of future events, neither is it history or doctrine, though it contains both. David wrote many of the psalms (Luke 20:42). Some can be related to specific circumstances in his life.
Nevertheless, these are not simply the cries of David, nor mere human sentiment. Rather, they are the language of the Spirit of Christ (1 Peter 1:11). Some, such as Psalm 22, can be identified with a particular time and place in the history of the Lord Jesus. In others, we find Christ in association with the godly remnant in Judah and Israel: afflicted in the land, out of the land, the place He took among them when on earth, and in the full blessing of millennial days. No other book expresses the thoughts of the Lord’s heart in such a manner.
The psalms are occupied with Judah and Israel. They are the experiences of a people under law. The blessings and position that we as Christians—members of the body of Christ—enjoy weren’t known.
Prophecy and Psalms
An understanding of the prophetic future of Judah and Israel is helpful in understanding the Psalms. At the close of the historic books, both Judah and Israel are in captivity. Judah’s post-captivity history has differed from that of Israel, whose identity as a people has been lost.
As we are witnessing even today, Judah will be restored to her land in unbelief (Isa. 18) and will ultimately rebuild her temple (Isa. 66:16; 2 Thess. 2:4; Psa. 74). With the church having been taken out of this scene, a period of tremendous trial will come upon the whole habitable world (Rev. 3:10). Lasting for seven years (Dan. 9:24-27), the first 3½ years are known as the beginning of sorrows (Matt. 24:8; first book of the Psalms), while the last 3½ years are a period of great tribulation (Matt. 24:15-24; second book of the Psalms).
The 75-day period following the great tribulation is called the indignation (Isa. 10:24-25; 26:20; 34:12; Dan. 11:36). During this time, many nations will attempt to crush Israel, challenging even the Lord Himself. A remnant of Judah will be preserved (Zech. 13:9). The experiences of this remnant under the chastening hand and governmental discipline of God, suffering for and confessing the national guilt of a broken law and the still more awful burden of crucifying their Messiah, are very fully detailed in the Psalms. The Lord will gather the ten tribes back into the land (Matt. 24:31; Deut. 30:1-10; fourth book of the Psalms), causing them to pass under the rod, purging out the rebels at the border (Eze. 20:35-37).
With the close of the indignation, the Lord’s kingdom will have been established and He will reign over the earth in righteousness for a period of 1000 years—the Millennium (Psa. 72; Isa. 35; Zech. 14:9; Rev. 20:16). Those that remain of the Gentile nations will go up year by year to Jerusalem to worship the King, the Lord of hosts (Zech. 14:16).
Divisions of Psalms
The Book of Psalms is not divided into chapters; rather, each psalm is known by its position—for example, the second psalm (Acts 13:33). The headings that are found above many of the psalms appear in the Septuagint and other manuscripts and are of a very ancient date. In the Hebrew, the Book of Psalms is divided into five books, each with a distinct character: Psalms 141 form the first book, 42-72 The second, 73-89 the third, 90-106 the fourth, and 107-150 the fifth. The closing of each book is distinctly marked, as may be observed by reading the last few verses of each. Their order is moral, never chronological.
Overview of the Five Books of Psalms
In the first book of the Psalms we have Christ in association with a suffering but faithful remnant in Judea. Jehovah is the most frequent title used in this portion, being His title of covenant relation with Israel. “To the saints that are on the earth, and to the excellent Thou hast said, In them is all My delight” (Psa. 16:3 JnD). The first two psalms are introductory to the whole collection: They introduce the godly remnant and the Messiah (the Lord’s anointed; Psa. 2:2).
In the second book the remnant is viewed as driven from the land but cheered and sustained by the presence and promises of their Messiah. God does not publicly own this remnant and so “God” (Elohim), the creation title, is used in preference to “Jehovah.” “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Psa. 46:1).
The whole nation in the last days is spoken of in the third book. Their history and God’s dealings with them are referred to (for example, Psalm 78). The subject is taken up in a general fashion; it is not Christ in association with the remnant. We see equally references to “God” and “Jehovah.”
In the fourth book we have the coming of the Messiah, the relationship between Israel and God having being restored. Jerusalem is the setting. Here we have His reign and the blessing associated with His personal presence. These are joyous psalms. Jehovah is again the preferred title. “O sing unto the Lord a new song; for He hath done marvelous things: His right hand, and His holy arm, hath gotten Him the victory” (Psa. 98:1).
The psalms that make up the fifth book are moral rather than prophetic, dealing with Israel’s return to Jehovah and His ways with His people (for example, the fifteen Songs of Degrees; Psalms 120-134). They end in praise.
N. Simon

The Holy Scriptures

Proverbs—Song of Solomon
Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and the Song of Solomon are the writings of King Solomon, the wisest of men. Though he received wisdom and understanding from God (heavenly wisdom for an earthly pathway—Proverbs), he also received riches and honor. At the end of his earthly pathway, Solomon reflects on his experiences and declares all is vanity (Eccl. 1:2). His writings, however, conclude with the triumph of love: “Who is this that cometh up from the wilderness, leaning upon her beloved?” (Song of Sol. 8:5).
Proverbs treats of this world and God’s government: “Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap” (Gal. 6:7). The book may be divided into four parts, with chapters 1-9 forming the first. Wisdom is seen, not as the faculty of man, but something he is to diligently seek. It is frequently personified. We see this very distinctly brought out in chapter 8, with Christ introduced in verse 22 as the wisdom of God.
Chapters 10-24 are the proverbs of Solomon. For the one that listens, they provide a path to follow. These are the proverbs according to the principles of the first nine chapters: “The mouth of strange women is a deep pit: he that is abhorred of the Lord shall fall therein” (Prov. 22:14).
Chapters 25-29 form a supplement to what has gone before. “These are also proverbs of Solomon, which the men of Hezekiah king of Judah copied out” (Prov. 25:1). In chapter 30 we have “the words of Agur the son of Jakeh, even the prophecy: the man spake unto Ithiel, even unto Ithiel and Ucal” (Prov. 30:1).
Chapter 31 Concludes with the words of king Lemuel, the prophecy that his mother taught him (Prov. 31:1). The first nine verses consist of advice from a mother to her son the king, while the remaining verses present the “virtuous woman”: “Favor is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised” (Prov. 31:30).
In understanding Ecclesiastes, it is important to see that the extent of the individual’s experience is under the sun, a phrase repeated twenty-nine times. There is recognition of God, but no revelation from Him. Whereas the name Jehovah—the name of covenant relationship—is characteristic of Proverbs, it is not once used in Ecclesiastes.
Its conclusions are truthful, yet often far from the truth, for they are the extent of man’s knowledge. (See Ecclesiastes 3:19, for example.) Another has said this book is the “sigh of sighs.” Many seek the elusive goal of happiness in this materialistic world, only to discover that what little they find lasts a fleeting moment and cannot satisfy. Further, man finds that he is nothing but a decaying mortal; death is his inevitable end (Eccl. 12:17). All is “vanity and vexation of spirit” (Eccl. 1:14).
The book concludes where Proverbs begins: “Fear God, and keep His commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil” (Eccl. 12:13-14). Man, however, knowing the judgments of God, has chosen to walk without regard for God (Rom. 1:32).
Job in his deep trial sought an answer to the question of human suffering. The Preacher through indulgence sought to know the answer to human happiness. Without divine revelation, man cannot deduce the answer to either. There is but One, whose glory is above the brightness of the sun, even Jesus, who alone can fill the heart and satisfy the deepest longings of the soul.
Song of Solomon
Of Solomon’s 1005 songs (1 Kings 4:32), only one is to be found in the canon of Scripture. It is the Song of Songs, as the book so titles itself (Song of Sol. 1:1). The song is a dialogue between the spouse and the King, though the daughters of Jerusalem may also be heard. The King without question is Christ, the One who will reign in Zion, but the spouse is not the church. Rather, it is the Jewish remnant, and the daughters of Jerusalem are the faithful of Israel.
The song is progressive. It records the drawing out and anticipation of the love between the spouse and the King. If the book is rightly applied, we can see principles in common with God’s dealing with each one of us. Christ loves His assembly, He loves His earthly people, and He loves the soul that He draws to Himself, so that there is a moral application to ourselves which is very precious.
A helpful aid in understanding this book is to mark the verses according to their speaker. The Concise Bible Dictionary contains such a summary. These divisions may be seen in the original Hebrew, a language inflected by gender.
The song may be divided into six sections: The Assurance of Love (ch. 1:2-2:7), The Awakening of Love (ch. 2:8-3:5), The Communion of Love (ch. 3:6-5:1), The Restoration of Love (ch. 5:2-6:12), The Witness of Love (ch. 6:13-8:4), and The Triumph of Love (ch. 8:5-8:14).
It is clear that all three books—Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and the Song of Solomon—have a prophetic character. In them we have, respectively, Israel in covenant relationship, the covenant relationship broken, and, finally, restoration.
N. Simon

The Holy Scriptures

The Major Prophets—Introduction
The book of Isaiah marks the beginning of the so-called Major Prophets, a division that also takes in Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Daniel.
The Minor Prophets (minor merely because they are shorter) follow, from Hosea to Malachi. With the failure of the priesthood (1 Sam. 14), the prophet, by God’s sovereign appointment, became the means whereby He could address Himself to the conscience of His people. The priest was the people’s representative before Jehovah; the prophet was Jehovah’s mouthpiece to the people.
Prophecy presents the mind of God, not just with respect to future events, but also as to present state. It is for this reason that the books of Joshua through Kings are to be found in the Hebrew Scriptures within the portion known as “The Prophets” (Luke 24:44).
Prophecy is two-sided. On the one hand, it reveals the sinful state of the people and God’s judgment—His strange work (Isa. 28:21). On the other hand, it reveals His heart in love, in particular the promise of the coming of the Messiah. One cannot be without the other.
The opening verse of Isaiah gives us the name of the prophet, the subject of his vision, and the time when it was received. Isaiah was a prophet of Judah during the final years of Israel’s history (the ten tribes), when the Assyrian threatened and finally took that nation captive and besieged Jerusalem (2 Kings 15-20).
Chapters 36-39 are a historic account of this period, and, as is frequently the case, present conditions are used as an illustration of God’s future dealings. Jerusalem’s deliverance from the Assyrian and Hezekiah’s recovery from sickness are types and signs to Israel of their deliverance and restoration.
The first prophetic section, chapters 1-35, gives the external history of Israel with respect to the surrounding nations. The final section, chapters 40-66, presents Israel’s internal history. Kings and peoples are no longer prominent; rather, this is God’s controversy with His people. While Isaiah addresses many nations, the prophecies are centered on Judah and Jerusalem (Isa. 1:1). The prophecies of Isaiah are the most comprehensive and His statements concerning Christ the most full.
Within this broad outline there are further divisions. In chapters 1-12 we have Judah’s sinful condition. Two subjects of supreme importance are introduced: Christ Immanuel (Isa. 7:14), and the Assyrian, the rod of Mine anger (Isa. 10:5). The section ends in a song of triumph.
In chapters 13-27 judgment is pronounced on Israel’s enemies. Beginning with the surrounding nations, it goes on to address the host of the high ones that are on high and the kings of the earth upon the earth (ch. 24:21), death is swallowed up in victory (ch. 25:8), His indignation is poured out on inhabitants of the earth (ch. 26:20), and the dragon that is in the sea is slain (ch. 27:1). The portion concludes with worship (ch. 27:13).
In chapters 28-35 Israel and Jerusalem are again the focus; five woes are declared on Israel (Isa. 28:1; 29:1; 29:15; 30:1; 31:1), followed by Jerusalem’s deliverance from the Assyrian (Isa. 31:8), God’s intervention and its blessed result (ch. 32), the destruction of Gog (ch. 33), judgment of Edom Idumea (ch. 34), and the joy of the kingdom (ch. 35).
Chapters 40-48 give us God’s controversy with Israel because of their idolatry. Cyrus is a type of the Deliverer; he was the executor of judgment upon idolatrous Babylon (ch. 45).
Then in chapters 49-57 we have God’s controversy with Israel because of their having rejected the Messiah.
Finally, in chapters 58-66 we have the deliverance and blessing of the remnant.
N. Simon

The Holy Scriptures

Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, Daniel
Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Daniel all prophesied during the final turbulent years of the kingdom of Judah. While Jeremiah remained among the poor of the land dwelling at Jerusalem (Jer. 40:6), Ezekiel is found dwelling among the captives (Ezek. 1:1), and Daniel is in the courts of Nebuchadnezzar. How beautiful it is to see each in their appointed place, faithfully proclaiming the message given them of Jehovah. Jeremiah and Ezekiel were priests (Jer. 1:1; Ezek. 1:3); Daniel was of royal descent (Dan. 1:3).
The entire period from Josiah to the destruction of Jerusalem is a little over fifty years. There were five kings who reigned during this time. The first was Josiah—slain by Pharaoh-nechoh (2 Kings 23:29).
Next came Jehoahaz (Shallum) the son of Josiah—made king by the people (2 Kings 23:30) and taken captive by the king of Egypt (2 Kings 23:33).
Jehoiakim (Eliakim), another son of Josiah, was third—made king by Pharaoh-nechoh (2 Kings 23:34), and later a vassal of the king of Babylon (2 Kings 24:1). Daniel was captive during this time.
Fourth was Jehoiachin (or Jechoniah or Coniah), a grandson of Josiah, the son of Jehoiakim—taken captive by Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon (2 Kings 24:15). Ezekiel was taken captive at this time (Ezek. 1:2).
The fifth king was Zedekiah (Mattaniah), a third son of Josiah and the last king of Judah—made king by Nebuchadnezzar and taken captive by him (2 Kings 24:17; 25:7). It was a time of profound change during which God was setting aside Israel and placing His government in the hands of a Gentile nation. Understanding this is key to understanding these books.
Outward Appearances
Outwardly things appeared to be very good in the days of Josiah. However, while the king zealously followed the Lord, the hearts of the people were unchanged, and the recovery to Jehovah was feigned (Jer. 3:6-11).
Jeremiah had the task of prophesying to a nation that refused to hear—to a people that would soon be subdued by a foreign power as ordered by the government of God. False prophets, whose words pleased the people, constantly opposed him.
Jeremiah enters into all this personally. His love for the people and his jealousy for a holy God produced a tremendous conflict in his soul and resulted in physical suffering. He is known as the weeping prophet (Jer. 9:1), standing in the breach, pleading for the people. Jeremiah’s life is woven into the fabric of his prophecies.
The book consists of a number of distinct prophecies. Since they are not ordered chronologically, a moral order must be understood.
In the first twenty-four chapters Jeremiah pleads with the people, appealing to their heart and conscience, taking us to the siege of Nebuchadrezzar (Jer. 21-24).
In chapter 25 we have a general summary of God’s judgments by the hand Nebuchadrezzar (ch. 25:8-11), the punishment of the king of Babylon after seventy years (ch. 25:12), and the judgment of the nations (ch. 25:31).
The remaining prophecies have much more to do with historic events. In chapters 30-33 we are taken prophetically to the future time of Jacob’s trouble. It looks forward to a coming day when God will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and Judah (ch. 31:31), restore the land to them again, and “cause the Branch of righteousness to grow up unto David; and He shall execute judgment and righteousness in the land” (ch. 33:15).
In chapters 40-44 we have the final history of the remnant in the land and their escape into Egypt contrary to the word of the Lord by Jeremiah (ch. 42:7-22). Chapters 46-51 give the judgment of the nations, beginning with Egypt and ending with Babylon.
The book of Lamentations contains the lament of Jeremiah over Jerusalem—once great among the nations—now solitary and desolate (Lam. 1:1). The Lord had done righteously, but understanding God’s government against that city only deepened Jeremiah’s sorrow (vs. 18).
Jeremiah confessed the sin of the city as his own, and he felt what it was to be rejected by the very ones for whom he wept. In his sorrow we see expressed something of the sorrow so fully felt by the rejected Christ (vs. 12).
Chapters one, two and four each have twenty-two verses commencing with the letters of the Hebrew alphabet. Similarly, chapter 3 has twenty-two stanzas of three verses each. The fifth chapter, while having twenty-two verses, is not constrained by this arrangement, for it is a prayer. With confession made, Jeremiah can bring that which has afflicted the people before a compassionate (ch. 3:22-36) and unchanging God (ch. 5:19).
Ezekiel’s prophecy takes in all Israel (Ezek. 2:3). The book does not concern itself with the times of the Gentiles. This period is to be found fully detailed in the book of Daniel. Rather, this interval is skipped over and Ezekiel’s prophecy resumes with the millennium, when Jerusalem will again be the center of God’s government. Ezekiel’s prophecies are full of symbols and imagery.
The book may be divided into four parts. Chapters 1-24—the rebellious house of Israel (ch. 3:9). These are arranged chronologically and tell of the impending Chaldean invasion and the destruction of Jerusalem (ch. 24).
Chapters 25-32—the judgment of the seven Gentile nations—Ammon (ch. 25:1), Moab (ch. 25:8), Edom (ch. 25:12), Philistia (ch. 25:15), Tyre (ch. 26-28:19), Zidon (ch. 28:20), and Egypt (ch. 29-32).
Chapters 33-39—the return of the remnant, which of necessity includes judgment on Israel and those that oppose that restoration.
Chapters 40-48—the future millennial temple.
Of all the Old Testament prophets, Daniel is the one with whom we are most familiar. There are numerous practical lessons to be learned from his life. His faithfulness is recorded by Ezekiel (Ezek. 14:14), and as a faithful one amidst a Gentile nation, he is a picture to us of the Jewish remnant of the later day.
As a prophet in the court of Gentile kings, he is occupied with the “times of the Gentiles” (Luke 21:24). The book may be divided into two. The first six chapters give us the history of the monarchs from Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon to Cyrus the Persian (Dan. 6:28) and Daniel’s interaction with them. Here are to be found general principles concerning the times of the Gentiles. The details of this period are covered in the remaining six chapters in Daniel’s visions.
There are four Gentile nations beginning with the Babylonian empire (Nebuchadnezzar). That kingdom would be succeeded by the Persian (under Cyrus), which in turn would be overtaken by the Grecian (Alexander the Great). A final empire, the Roman, would conquer the Greeks.
Though the Roman Empire declined and collapsed, no superseding kingdom rose in its place. In a coming day the Roman Empire will reappear in its final form as a ten-nation confederacy—a beast—dreadful and terrible (Dan. 7:7).
In this book we also find that seventy weeks (or periods of seven) are determined upon Daniel’s people (the Jews) and upon the holy city (Jerusalem; ch. 9:24). From the commandment to restore and build Jerusalem (Neh. 2) until Messiah the Prince would be sixty-nine weeks (seven plus sixty-two; Dan. 9:25-26). When each week is taken as seven years, we find that the 69 weeks, or 483 years, has been fulfilled precisely.
Further, a prince will come—of the people that would destroy Jerusalem (the Romans)—and will confirm a covenant with the many for one week. This is the final and seventieth week (Dan. 9:26-27).
The seventy weeks close with the bringing in of everlasting righteousness (Dan. 9:24)—still future. The final terrifying week, a seven-year period, is also future (Dan. 9:27; 7:25). This present day of grace in which we live, from Christ to the Rapture, is omitted in this timeline, for the “seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city (Dan. 9:24).
N. Simon

The Holy Scriptures

The Minor Prophets
The last twelve books of the Old Testament are commonly designated The Minor Prophets. Though shorter, they are nonetheless full of vital details not found elsewhere in Scripture. Their subject is clearly prophetic; however, they each contain much for practical meditation. In them we read of God’s ways with His earthly people, His tender love, holiness, patience, judgment, compassion, mercy and grace.
Hosea and Amos prophesied during the days of Uzziah, king of Judah, and Jeroboam the son of Joash, king of Israel (Hos. 1; Amos 1). Hosea continued on during the reign of the next three kings of Judah—Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah—making him a contemporary of Micah, who also prophesied during this period (Mic. 1:1), as did Isaiah (Isa. 1:1).
The ever-threatening Assyrian in the North overshadowed the day in which they prophesied. This was just prior to the captivity of Israel (the ten tribes; 1 Kings 17), and 150 years or so before the captivity of Judah. No date can be given to Joel, though clearly it is pre-captivity.
Although Habakkuk cannot be placed precisely in time, it is the invasion of the Chaldean, not the Assyrian, which threatens an iniquitous Judah (Hab. 1:6). This places the book with Zephaniah (Zeph. 1:1) and Jeremiah (Jer. 1:2), both of whom prophesied in the days of Josiah just before the captivity of Judah.
Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi are post-captivity. Haggai and Zechariah prophesied in the days of Zerubbabel when the temple was being rebuilt (Ezra 5), while Malachi comes later and records the corrupt moral condition of the returned captives.
Jonah, Nahum and Obadiah announce judgment on the Gentile world. The Assyrian is the subject of the first two books, and Edom is the subject of the third. Jonah prophesied prior to the captivity of Israel (2 Kings 14:25) and Nahum some 150 years after Jonah. Obadiah prophesied subsequent to the captivity of Judah (Obad. 10-12).
While a chronology helps our understanding of these books, we must remember that they all look forward to a future day. Calamities were used of God to reach the conscience of the people and as an opportunity to present future events as if already seen.
Though prophets such as Haggai and Zechariah or Habakkuk and Zephaniah prophesied at similar times, it would be a mistake to assume that their prophecies bore a similar character, the examples cited being particularly diverse.
Hosea’s message is to both Israel and Judah. As the house of Ahab had been judged in Jezreel (2 Kings 10:11), so would Israel be judged (Hos. 1:4). Israel’s judgment would be final; they would not obtain mercy (Lo-ruhamah; vs. 6).
Mercy was withheld from Israel, but the judgment of Judah would bring the whole nation under a worse sentence: “Then said God, Call his name Lo-ammi: for ye are not My people, and I will not be your God” (vs. 9).
Today Israel is without king or prince, sacrifice or priest, but neither is she idolatrous (ch. 3:4). Although not owned of God (Rom. 11:1), she will be restored. She will learn to call Jehovah “My Husband” and no longer “My Master” (Hos. 2:16, marginal reading).
The children of Israel will return and seek the Lord their God and David their king (ch. 3:5). In chapter 2 a remnant—Ammi (My people) and Ruhamah (having obtained mercy)—is distinguished from their mother, a harlot from the beginning (ch. 1:2).
In chapters 4-12, the moral corruption of the nation is exposed as Hosea appeals to the conscience of the people. The book closes with words they were to take to Jehovah (ch. 14:2), who would respond in mercy (vss. 4-8; see also vs. 9).
Joel brings before us the day of the Lord (Joel 1:15; 2:1; 2:11,31; 3:14). A terrible plague of insects used to stir the conscience of the people (ch. 1) is an alarm for a more terrible day—“a day of darkness and of gloominess, a day of clouds and of thick darkness” (ch. 2:12). A great, strong people (vs. 2), the Northern army (vs. 20), will overrun the land (vss. 7-10)—executing His word (vs. 11), the rod of His anger (Isa. 10:5). Like David of 2 Samuel 24:14, faith seizes hold and takes hope.
A second trumpet sounds (Joel 2:15)—a call to a solemn assembly (Num. 10:7)—a call to repentance in view of the chastisements hanging over them. The Lord will respond to the contrite spirit and broken heart of the remnant. He will drive away the Northern army on account of their pride (Joel 2:20). He will restore that which the locust has eaten (vs. 25). In grace He would pour out His Spirit upon all flesh (vs. 28), and “whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be delivered: for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the Lord hath said, and in the remnant whom the Lord shall call” (vs. 32). Peter in Acts 2—the day of Pentecost—makes an application of this in view of the coming destruction of Jerusalem (Titus, 70 A.D.).
Chapter 3 gives the judgment of the nations, gathered together in the valley of Jehoshaphat (vs. 2), where the harvest takes place—the separation of the good from the wicked (vs. 12; Matt. 25:32). There the Lord will execute His vengeance in the pressing of the vintage (Joel 3:13). Joel closes with a promise of coming blessing for Judah and Jerusalem (vss. 18-21).
N. Simon

The Holy Scriptures

The Minor Prophets: Amos—Micah
Amos was a herdsman and a gatherer of sycamore fruit, not a prophet. The Lord took him from following the flock and instructed him to prophesy “unto My people Israel” (Amos 7:14-15).
Amos speaks of judgment, but if God is going to judge, He will warn His people first. “Shall a trumpet be blown in the city, and the people not be afraid? shall there be evil in a city, and the Lord hath not done it? Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but He revealeth His secret unto His servants the prophets” (ch. 3:6-7). In keeping with this message, Amos begins his prophecy two years before the earthquake (ch. 1:1), doubtless the same event mentioned by Zechariah (Zech. 14:5).
The first two chapters comprise a single prophecy; the remaining chapters are separate prophecies. Beginning with the nations that have occupied the land of Israel—Syria, Gaza and Philistia, Tyre, Edom, Ammon, and Moab—and ending with Israel and Judah, judgment is pronounced. The nations are judged for their treatment of Israel. Judah is judged for having despised the law of the Lord (Amos 2:4) and Israel for not walking in the fear of the Lord and having profaned His holy name (vss. 6-8). Our walk should agree with our position: “Can two walk together, except they be agreed?” (ch. 3:3). Though Amos prophesied in Israel—the ten tribes (ch. 7:10-13)—both Israel and Judah are addressed: “The whole family which I brought up from the land of Egypt” (ch. 3:1).
God had borne with them in patience; He could no longer (ch. 7:8), for the fruits of the summer must be consumed when ripe. Judgment could be delayed no longer (ch. 8:12). A righteous remnant preserved (ch. 3:12; 9:9-10), God would raise them up again. He would plant them in the land, and they would no more be pulled up (ch. 9:14-15).
The vision of Obadiah concerns Edom, a people that hated Israel and were the descendants of Esau (Gen. 36:1), Jacob’s brother. Their hand has always been against Israel (Gen. 27:41). See Psalm 83:48, 137:7, and Ezekiel 35:10,15. Doeg was an Edomite (1 Sam. 21-22), as was Haman (Esther 3:1; 1 Sam. 15:8; Gen. 36:9,12).
While Edom, along with several other nations, may be found in the prophets as coming under the judgment of God, such is the importance of the subject that the entire book, though brief, is dedicated to Edom alone.
Edom’s disposition towards Jacob is again noticed when Jerusalem was sacked. Esau was among the enemy standing in the crossway to cut off those who tried to escape (Obad. 11,14). God judges this small, proud nation (vs. 18) so that none remain. “For thy violence against thy brother Jacob shame shall cover thee, and thou shalt be cut off forever” (vs. 10). “The house of Jacob will possess their possessions” (vs. 17).
Whereas prophets such as Ezekiel and Hosea were called upon to live out their prophecies, in Jonah we have one whose very life is the sign itself (Matt. 12:39). The message that Jonah was to carry was simple enough: “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before Me” (Jonah 1:2).
Nineveh was the capital of Assyria, Israel’s enemy, and before that message was preached, Jonah had to pass through the very depths of the ocean where he acknowledges, “Salvation is of the Lord” (ch. 2:9).
The life of Jonah is a prophetic picture of Israel. It is the history of the unfaithful witness and God’s governmental dealings with him. Jonah is also a type of the Lord Jesus—His rejection, death and resurrection. He is the faithful Witness, the One who spent three days and three nights in the grave, the firstborn from the dead (Matt. 12:40; Rev. 1:5).
Through Jonah’s unfaithfulness, the name of Jehovah was known and worshipped among the Gentiles (Jonah 1:16), and it is through Israel’s fall that salvation is come to us (Rom. 11:11-15). In a coming day, Israel will again be raised up to witness to the nations (Matt. 24:14).
Though Jonah fulfilled his mission to preach to Nineveh, he had to go through many things to learn the ways of God’s action in grace. So it will be with Israel, and so it is with each one of us. The very existence of this book and its unflattering account of the author are proof to us of the lesson learned.
The Lord speaks in this book from His holy temple, addressing all people of the earth (Mic. 1:2). We have similar expressions in Psalm 11, Habakkuk 2 and Revelation 1516. When the Lord speaks from His holy temple, “let all the earth keep silence before Him” (Hab. 2:20).
Jehovah will not always remain on high; He will come forth out of His place to tread upon the “high places of the earth” (Mic. 1:36). Samaria would become a heap and evil would come down from the Lord unto the gate of Jerusalem—the Assyrian invasion as detailed in Isaiah.
The second chapter addresses the moral state of the people, while the third takes up the princes and prophets of Israel. Zion would be plowed as a field, and Jerusalem would become heaps (ch. 3:12)—as was the case upon its destruction by Titus.
In the fourth chapter we move from the destruction of Jerusalem to her millennial glory! In the fifth chapter we have introduced the Judge of Israel (ch. 5:1; verses one and three are continuous, while verse two is parenthetical).
Because the Judge of Israel was smitten on the cheek with a rod, Israel must be given up for a time. She must pass through deep travail and be brought to a state suited for the manifestation of their King. In that day He will feed His flock, and when the latter-day Assyrian—the king of the North—comes into the land, He will be their peace (ch. 5:5).
In this parenthesis we have a detail concerning the Messiah not found elsewhere in Scripture: “But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall He come forth unto Me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting” (ch. 5:2; Matt. 2:5).
In the final two chapters, Jehovah resumes His pleading with His people: “Hear ye now what the Lord saith.  .  .  .  For the Lord hath a controversy with His people, and He will plead with Israel” (Mic. 6:12).
Chapter 6 begins as a dialog between Jehovah and the remnant, and in the seventh chapter the prophet speaks for the remnant: “I will bear the indignation of the Lord, because I have sinned against Him, until He plead my cause, and execute judgment for me: He will bring me forth to the light, and I shall behold His righteousness” (ch. 7:9).
N. Simon

The Holy Scriptures

The Minor Prophets: Nahum—Haggai
Nahum’s vision concerned Nineveh (Nah. 1:1). Less than 150 years had elapsed since Jonah, and it had become a city of blood, full of lies and robbery, lording its sovereignty over its conquered peoples (ch. 3:14). Founded by Nimrod, a descendent of Ham (Gen. 10:11, margin; Mic. 5:6), Nineveh is a picture of usurped authority and independence from God. Nimrod flaunted his might and power before the Lord— “he began to be a mighty one in the earth. He was a mighty hunter before the Lord” (Gen. 10:8-9). This is the character of the Assyrian. Though used by God as the rod of His anger, the Assyrian must be punished for his high looks and proud heart, “for he saith, By the strength of my hand I have done it, and by my wisdom; for I am prudent” (Isa. 10:12-13).
Nahum looks forward to a future day when the King of the North will again imagine vain things against Jehovah (Nah. 1:11). Having passed through the land of Israel, Assyria—the King of the North—will be cut down, never to pass through it again—he is utterly cut off (ch. 1:12,15; Dan. 11:40-41).
Yet in Nahum, a book of judgment, we find a most comforting verse for the day of trouble: “The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; and He knoweth them that trust in Him” (Nah. 1:7). The second chapter details the capture of Nineveh. The book closes with the solemn declaration: “There is no healing of thy bruise; thy wound is grievous” (ch. 3:19).
The character of Habakkuk is very different from other prophecies. In Nahum, we have the “burden of Nineveh” (Nah. 1:1), in Zechariah, “the burden of the word of Jehovah” (Zech. 9:1 JnD; 12:1 JnD), but here we have “the burden which Habakkuk the prophet did see” (Hab. 1:1). His was a burden that deeply felt the iniquity of the people and the overwhelming calamity about to consume them. In Habakkuk the point is not so much the unfolding of events, but rather a message to the heart of the faithful in the midst of those events. In this, Habakkuk presents the faithful remnant in Israel.
As a consequence of their wickedness, God would raise up the Chaldean, “that bitter and hasty nation” (ch. 1:6). Their overthrow would be complete, the Chaldean absolutely devastating in their violence. Faith knows that God established the Chaldean for correction (ch. 1:12), but here was one more wicked than they (ch. 1:13). Could God allow them to continue gathering men into their net as if they were fish, burning incense to the god of their success (ch. 1:15-17)?
Habakkuk awaits his answer from his watchtower (ch. 2:1). Faith must wait in patience; God’s Word will not and cannot fail (ch. 2:3). The heart of the oppressor was lifted up in pride; it will not be overlooked, but the portion of the just is to live by faith (ch. 2:4). Five woes are pronounced on the oppressor of the nations for their wickedness. Jehovah is in His holy temple; all the earth should keep silence before Him (ch. 2:20).
The book concludes with the prayer of Habakkuk in response to the Lord’s reply. This is a prayer of faith, of full confidence in Jehovah. It recalls the glory and power of God when He brought them out of Egypt and established them in the land of Canaan. While waiting, the heart of faith can rejoice in the Lord; he can joy in the God of his salvation (ch. 3:18).
The book of Zephaniah is preeminently a book of judgment; its subject, the day of Jehovah (Zeph. 1:7 JND). “That day is a day of wrath, a day of trouble and distress, a day of wasteness and desolation, a day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness” (ch. 1:15). Despite revival during Josiah’s reign, Judah was unchanged. Baal worship continued and idolatrous priests—Chemarim (ch. 1:4; 2 Kings 23:5, margin)—served in the temple.
The second chapter begins with a plea to Judah, a nation without shame (Zeph. 2:1 JnD). The meek of the land are exhorted to seek the Lord, for “it may be ye shall be hid in the day of the Lord’s anger” (ch. 2:3).
The Philistines (Gaza, Ashkelon, Ashdod, Ekron, and the Cherethites; ch. 2:4-7), Moab and Ammon (ch. 2:8), the Ethiopians (Cushites; Nimrod was a descendent of Cush—Gen. 10:7-8), Assyria and Nineveh (Zeph. 2:12-15) all come under judgment. These nations reviled Israel, delighting in her downfall, possessing her borders (ch. 2:8).
The third chapter begins with an address to Jerusalem—that filthy and polluted city (ch. 3:1). In the midst of this fearful darkness, a remnant is very clearly recognized (ch. 2:3,7; 3:12-13).
In Zephaniah, Christ is not introduced as the Messiah, but as Jehovah. “Jehovah hath taken away thy judgments, He hath cast out thine enemy; the King of Israel, Jehovah, is in the midst of thee; thou shalt not see evil any more” (ch. 3:15 JND). The language with which He comforts the remnant recalls that of the Song of Solomon—“Jehovah thy God is in thy midst, a mighty one that will save: He will rejoice over thee with joy; He will rest in His love; He will exult over thee with singing” (ch. 3:17 JND). The book begins with “the word of Jehovah” and ends with “Jehovah”—a name that speaks of relationship.
Haggai is the first of the post-captivity prophets. His prophecy consists of five messages received over the space of four months. Though God had permitted a remnant of Judah to return to Jerusalem, the former relationship had not been restored. There was no throne; a Gentile ruled over the land; things were literally and figuratively in a state of ruin. The people who had returned to the land, with such joy and energy having laid the foundation of the temple, were now discouraged.
For the returned remnant there was tranquility enough to build their own houses. Faith was not required for this and the world offered no resistance (Hag. 1:4). When faith is lacking, circumstances and our own will dictate our doings (ch. 1:2). In neglecting the Lord’s house, they had really neglected the Lord, and as a result discipline had to come in—such too is God’s heart in love (ch. 1:5-11). Stirred up by the message, the work resumed (ch. 1:14).
Faith in the day of ruin is not pretentious and acknowledges the condition of things. This day was not that bright day when they were brought up out of the land of Egypt—but the same Lord was with them (ch. 2:5). A day is coming when the latter glory of the house—still the same house in the eye of God—will exceed the former (ch. 2:9). But this cannot happen until “the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land” are all shaken and then there will be peace (ch. 2:6).
The fourth prophecy states what the priests understood—the unclean defiles the holy (ch. 2:10-19). They and the work of their hands were unclean (ch. 2:14). Their present work did not change that. Only when there is a response to His discipline—for then the work is His—can blessing flow (ch. 2:19).
The final message addresses itself to Zerubbabel, the leader of those that returned and a descendant of David (Matt. 1:12). With the shaking of nations, God would establish His throne in the true seed of David, Christ, the Lord’s anointed. “In that day, saith the Lord of hosts, will I take thee, O Zerubbabel, My servant, the son of Shealtiel, saith the Lord, and will make thee as a signet: for I have chosen thee, saith the Lord of hosts” (Hag. 2:23).
N. Simon

The Holy Scriptures

The Minor Prophets: Zechariah and Malachi
Though Haggai and Zechariah both prophesied in the second year of Darius (Ezra 5:1; Hag. 1:1; Zech. 1:1), Haggai’s focus is the temple and its reconstruction, while Zechariah’s message is broader both in scope and time. Zechariah is occupied with Jerusalem and its history from the captivity to the last days.
God is jealous for Jerusalem and for Zion with a great jealousy, and He is sore displeased with the heathen (Zech. 1:14-15). He has executed His government upon Israel through the Gentiles, but each nation has offended and must be judged (vss. 18-21). The rebuilding of the temple and ultimately the city walls were but a forerunner of a better deliverance, the glorious restoration of Jerusalem in a future day. Zechariah lifts the eyes of the feeble remnant, setting their hope on Jehovah. What an encouragement for us as we look “for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13).
In chapters 2-6 (each a distinct vision) we have the reestablishment of Jerusalem (ch. 2), the cleansing of the people (ch. 3), the perfection of that future administration (ch. 4), the judgment of the wicked (ch. 5), and God’s providential government, bringing us to Christ the Branch who will build the temple and rule in righteousness (ch. 6).
Chapter 7 begins with the fourth year of king Darius’ reign. In the remainder we have the Messiah and the consequences of His rejection. Judah is scattered (ch. 7), but Jehovah will return (ch. 8) and dwell in the midst of Jerusalem, “and they shall be My people, and I will be their God, in truth and in righteousness” (ch. 8:8).
In chapters 9-10, God’s vengeance is poured out upon the nations. Messiah is introduced as the lowly One: “Behold, thy King cometh unto thee: He is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass” (ch. 9:9). But He was rejected. “He hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see Him, there is no beauty that we should desire Him” (Isa. 53:2). He will yet make good His claims through judgment. He will bring peace to Israel—both Judah and Joseph (Zech. 10:6)—the basis of which is the covenant of blood (ch. 9:11).
Having rejected the Messiah, the Jews will receive another who will come in his own name (John 5:43), the Antichrist, the foolish and idol shepherd (Zech. 11:15-17). While the nation values the true Shepherd at just thirty pieces of silver, the faithful remnant (the poor of the flock) observe and see that it is all according to the word of the Lord (vss. 11-12).
The subject of the Antichrist introduces the times of the end. Nations will besiege Jerusalem for a final time, only to be destroyed (ch. 12). Judah will look upon Him whom they have pierced and will be filled with great sorrow (vs. 10). All will be cleansed and the false prophet and idol purged (ch. 13:14).
Christ was the Prophet (Deut. 18:15)—in contrast to the false prophets—but was rejected. He became a servant of man (Zech. 13:5 JND) and He was wounded in the house of His friends (beloved; vs. 6). But this humble Man, smitten of God, is perfect in atonement, perfect in sympathy (vs. 7). Judah’s judgment will be severe (vs. 9).
Chapter 14 takes us back to Jerusalem and the day of the Lord. God will gather all nations against Jerusalem and the city will be taken (vs. 2)—the overflowing scourge (Isa. 28:15). But Jehovah will come forth to fight and deliver. He will stand upon the Mount of Olives, which will cleave in two (Zech. 14:4).
Plagues will smite the nations that fight against Jerusalem now gathered for a second time (vs. 12). They will slay one another, with Judah joining the fight (vss. 13-14). “And the Lord shall be King over all the earth: in that day shall there be one Lord, and His name one” (vs. 9). Those that remain of the nations will go up to Jerusalem “from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles” (vs. 16).
Malachi, the last of the Minor Prophets, closes the Old Testament. It also closes the testimony of Jehovah to the Jews until the coming of John the Baptist. Malachi prophesied after the rebuilding of the temple. The people were indifferent and insensible to the Lord—their moral condition had never been worse. Though professing to carry on, they lacked all spiritual discernment, and Malachi’s message is directly addressed to this condition.
The book opens with an expression of Jehovah’s love for Israel, “I have loved you, saith the Lord” (Mal. 1:2)—but where was His honor? They offered that which the law prohibited, completely insensible to and weary of Jehovah’s rightful claims (vs. 13).
Chapter 3 begins with the promise of the Lord’s return, heralded by His messenger, John the Baptist. “Behold, I will send My messenger, and he shall prepare the way before Me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to His temple” (Mal. 3:1; Matt. 11:10). Before that great and dreadful day of the Lord, Elijah would come and complete his mission to call back an apostate Israel (Mal. 4:5-6). John came in the spirit and power of Elias (Luke 1:17) but was rejected (Matt. 11:14; 17:12).
Even in the midst of all this evil, there is a remnant. “Then they that feared the Lord spake often one to another: and the Lord hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before Him for them that feared the Lord, and that thought upon His name” (Mal. 3:16).
The lukewarm state of Christendom today is not unlike Malachi’s time, morally. Philadelphia is likewise commended for having thought upon His name: “Thou  .  .  .  hast kept My word, and hast not denied My name” (Rev. 3:8). This is a very needful exhortation as we await the coming of, not the Sun of Righteousness (Mal. 4:2), but the bright and morning star, our blessed Lord Jesus (Rev. 22:16).
N. Simon

The Holy Scriptures

The New Testament: Introduction to the Gospels
From beginning to end, the Old Testament exposes man’s rebellious heart. The first Adam has proven himself to be entirely a reprobate. Israel, unto whom were committed the oracles of God, brought forth nothing but wild grapes (Rom. 3:2; Isa. 5:2). What more could God do for man? Why, He sends forth His Son! “When the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts” (Gal. 4:4-6).
We joy in our God, and we sing of that love,
So sovereign and free which did His heart move!
When lost our condition, all ruined, undone,
He saw with compassion, and spared not His Son!
(Little Flock Hymnbook, #135)
The four Gospels present something of a dilemma to man. As a philosophical text, he is disappointed. As a historic account, much is omitted. Select events are recorded, sometimes in one Gospel, sometimes in all four. We find nothing in the Gospels to satisfy mere curiosity. Chronology is dispensed with in Matthew and Luke and is generally followed in Mark and, where applicable, in John. While Matthew and John were apostles, eyewitnesses to the life and resurrection of the Lord, God also chose two writers, Mark and Luke, that were not.
A great deal of effort has been wasted in attempting to reconcile so-called discrepancies between the Gospels when no reconciliation is required. If we accept God as the author of each and that He has chosen to present the glory of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, according to four distinct and special viewpoints, we find no difficulties at all.
In Matthew we have the fulfillment of prophecy and of promise. Here we find the Lord Jesus presented first as the Son of David to Israel—the Messiah, the Lord’s anointed—and then, on His rejection, the Son of Abraham, the depositary of promise—“in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed” (Gen. 12:3). The first verse therefore gives us an outline of the entire book. Matthew is especially adapted to meet the need of the Jew—then and now. It is no surprise, therefore, to find that it contains many more Old Testament quotations than the other Gospels.
Divisions of Matthew
Matthew may be divided into the following sections: chapters 1-4, the birth and divinity of Jesus; chapters 5-7, the principles of the kingdom, its rejection supposed, and the character of its subjects; chapters 8-12, His grace and power displayed in the midst of Israel and His rejection by the leaders and the nation; chapters 13-17, the kingdom rejected by Israel, He publicly breaks the bonds that naturally existed between Himself and the people after the flesh, and as the sower He goes forth to sow; when He acts thus in grace on the basis of promise, the way is opened up to the Gentile; chapter 18 through chapter 20:28, principles belonging to the new order of things; chapter 20:29 through chapter 25, His final presentation to Israel as the Son of David, the true King of Israel; chapters 26-28, His death and resurrection.
The genealogy of the first chapter begins with Abraham and ends with “Jesus, who is called Christ” (Matt. 1:16) or “Messiah”—both words, the one Greek and the other Hebrew, may be translated “Anointed.” Matthew alone refers to Emmanuel (Matt. 1:23; Isa. 7:14) and “He that is born King of the Jews” (Matt. 2:2). He was indeed Jehovah come down to dwell among His people, and He was rightly their King. Remarkably, it is the wise men from the east, Gentiles, that bear testimony of this to the Jews—yet another detail only to be found in Matthew.
Israel expected the Messiah—the prophecies of the Old Testament were known (Matt. 2:45)—but their expectation was entirely selfish; they looked forward to the restoration and exaltation of their nation (Luke 24:21). They felt nothing of their own wretched condition (Matt. 3:7-9). Though Matthew presents Jesus as the Messiah, His rejection by the nation underscores the entire book. To this day, Israel as a nation is unable to accept the character of the Lord’s first coming, though fully detailed by the prophets (Luke 24:26-27; Isa. 53).
When we do find Jesus identified with the people, it is always with the remnant. In chapter 3 we see the remnant separated by John, and Jesus with them (Psa. 16:3). In chapter 4, with John now in prison, Jesus returns into Galilee to the poor and despised of the flock (Zech. 11:11; John 1:46). John himself, though the messenger, must receive Him as one of the remnant, on the testimony that the Lord bore to Himself (Matt. 11:4). Unlike Mark and Luke, at the close of the book, we do not read of His ascension; rather, we find the Lord in Galilee with His own.
Kingdom of Heaven
While the “kingdom of God” is frequently mentioned in Mark and Luke, the expression occurs just five times in Matthew. Conversely, the phrase “kingdom of heaven” occurs thirty-two times in Matthew and not once in the other Gospels. This latter expression brings before us the heavenly character of the kingdom: “The Lord hath prepared His throne in the heavens; and His kingdom ruleth over all” (Psa. 103:19). Given the earthly aspirations of the Jew, this is particularly important. There is also a distinct dispensational significance. With Christ rejected, the earthly aspect of the kingdom has been delayed, and the kingdom has taken on a mystical form—the spiritual and invisible rule of God in the hearts of believers (Matt. 13:11). Though His throne is not yet established in this earth, there is a sphere where His authority is owned, where there is a response to the testimony of His Word.
The Church
Matthew is the only gospel that mentions the church. In chapter 15, man and what he has made of the law is set aside, and God acts in grace (Matt. 15:21-28). Chapter 16 lets us see the blessed result of God acting in grace—the church—something that was yet to be. The law governed Israel, but the church’s foundation is divine, unmovable, a Person, the Son of the living God. With the church introduced, His disciples were no longer to tell anyone that He was the Christ, the Messiah (Matt. 16:20). He also begins to show them how He must “go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day” (Matt. 16:21), all of which is necessarily connected with the building of the church. Even when the Lord returns, it will not be as the Messiah, but as Son of Man (Dan. 7; Matt. 10:23; 16:27). The Lord will come in with great power and glory, to be displayed in a much wider sphere. As Son of Man, He is the heir of all things.
N. Simon

How Good Is the God We Adore

“How good is the God we adore”—
As children we sang the refrain;
Our lot with God’s people was cast,
And we sang it again and again.
“Our faithful, unchangeable Friend”—
How little we knew of His love,
Nor had proved that He keeps to the end,
With tenderest care from above.
“Whose love is as great as His power”—
We have learned through the years to depend
On His arm and His heart and His way,
Our Saviour and Shepherd and Friend.
“And knows neither measure nor end”—
Oh, how we have tempted and tried
The Patient and Holy and True,
The Living who once for us died!
“’Tis Jesus, the First and the Last”—
We sing it not now without tears,
As we think of the sins of the past,
And the barren, the bitter, lost years.
“Whose Spirit shall guide us safe home”—
Oh, yes, though we stumble and stray,
The Comforter still will abide,
To keep us and point to the Way.
“We’ll praise Him for all that is past”—
The sorrows and the losses and pain;
The oil, and the staff and the rod
That restored us to Him once again.
“And trust Him for all that’s to come”—
The glory shines bright and more fair
As the darkness and sin still abound—
Soon, soon, we’ll meet Him in the air!
E. Light (1971)
Jesus said: “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me” (John 14:6).

How Much Is a Soul Worth?

In 2001, advertisers paid an average of $2,000,000 for thirty seconds of television time during the Super Bowl (Wall Street Journal, 1/28/02)!
On the way to work yesterday, while stuck in traffic, I thought about how effective a Christian bumper sticker can be—even though it won’t reach the estimated 84 million people that TV does.
Unlike a TV commercial, a bumper sticker costs but a few dollars. It lasts longer than thirty seconds, and if it’s a Bible verse, God’s Word “shall not return  .  .  .  void.”
Bumper stickers are noticed. If an average of ten people a day read its message, God’s Word will have reached over 3,600 people in one year.
A bumper sticker shares the gospel with all. Young and old. Rich and poor. All nationalities—the educated and uneducated. Come rain or shine, day or night, anywhere and everywhere there are roads to drive.
Corporations spend big money advertising, and one of the main places they advertise is on vehicles. Professional auto racing, commercial vehicles of all kinds—all are used as moving billboards.
These companies aren’t ashamed of their product or service. They want others to know about what they have. Ford, for instance, has a new advertising slogan: “Take it to the streets.”
What about us Christians? Isn’t our Lord Jesus Christ worth sharing? How much is a soul worth? On the road of life, bumper stickers can be a wonderful means of spreading the gospel message.
“Do the work of an evangelist” (2 Tim. 4:5).
D. Mackewich (adapted from the Y.P. Forum)

"How Readest Thou?"

“He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou?” (Luke 10:26).
Christ’s question must concern
Each eager, praying one who would discern
The real meaning of the Book of books,
When through its pages he with patience looks.
Some read to bring themselves into repute,
While showing others how they can dispute,
And others read it with uncommon care,
But all to find some contradiction there.
Some read to prove a pre-adopted creed,
Thus understand but little what they read,
And every passage of the book they bend
To make it suit their own determined end.
’Tis one thing, friend, to read the Bible through;
Another thing to read to learn and do;
’Tis one thing, too, to read it with delight
And quite another thing to read aright.
Author unknown
“God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).

Humble or Humbled?

There is a difference between being humble before God and being humbled before God. I am humbled before God because I have not been humble, and thus I sin. If, however, I had been humble, I should have had grace given me to prevent the sin, for “God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace to the humble.”
Things New and Old (adapted)

I Beseech You

“I beseech Euodias, and I beseech Syntyche, that they be of the same mind in the Lord” (Phil. 4:2).
It does not say, “I beseech Euodias and Syntyche,” but the Apostle (the Spirit through him) beseeches each sister personally. It is a personal appeal to you and a personal appeal to me to reconsider our views and our attitude of heart towards one with whom we may be having difficulty.
It does not say, “I beseech Euodias to be of the same mind as Syntyche,” or, “I beseech Syntyche to be of the same mind as Euodias” either. Rather, “Be of the same mind in the Lord.” This is truly searching for each. Why would we not be of the same mind in the Lord? There must be an obstacle with one or the other personally! We may have differing views about some Scriptures or some matter, but we can still be of the same mind about them. That is, we can leave the other room for exercise and liberty of soul in many things in which we differ.

Indifference, Diligence, Interference

“Mind your own business!” or “That’s none of your business!” are expressions often heard in the world, which don’t have their place among the children of God. The Word of God exhorts us not to be busybodies in others’ affairs (1 Peter 4:15). In 1 Thessalonians 4:11 we are exhorted to “mind [our] own affairs” (JND). This is good advice for us all.
However, the Word also presents verses for a balance. Tychicus, a dearly beloved brother, seemed to possess a certain delicacy or tact in communicating the affairs of saints. In Ephesians 6:21-22 Paul sent him to the brethren to inform them of his affairs. There were those things the Apostle wanted the brethren to know and for which, no doubt, he valued their prayers, intercessions and thanksgiving to the Lord.
In addition, in Colossians 4:7, Tychicus, while coming to inform the saints of the affairs concerning Paul (vss. 78), was also to take account of the affairs of the saints there—to pray for them intelligently and to help in any way Paul and others could.
In these examples, we see that among members of the body of Christ, the concerns of one are the concerns of the other—shared in discretion, mutual respect and free exchange with a view to being a help. May we, by God’s grace and as taught by the Spirit, be full of love for one another, taking account of each other’s business, yet walking the narrow line of diligent concern—between the extremes of indifference and interference (Phil. 2:21).
May our interest in one another be the outflow of divine love. Oh that we would be kept from trespassing into unwholesome curiosity and carnal activity as that of the idle women who wandered about as busybodies in the affairs of others (1 Tim. 5:13).
My affairs are your affairs and yours are mine in the measure that they are the affairs of Jesus Christ and that we are ready to do something for each other in this respect, caring “with genuine feeling” how we mutually get on (Phil. 2:20 JND).
“Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Gal. 6:2).
M. Payette

Keeping Rank

“All these men of war, that could keep rank, came with a perfect heart to Hebron, to make David king over all Israel” (1 Chron. 12:38).
Fellow-Christian, if you and I are to “keep rank,” we will have to be in company with those who are marching under the commands of our great “Head-General.” You’ll not be able to keep rank with stragglers, but with those who are in the battle line.
We don’t want to drop out of the ranks or lag behind. We don’t want to get out of step and join the stragglers. How sad that would be.
Dear brother and sister in Christ, are you, in your local gathering, keeping rank? Are you keeping step with those who are going on with God? Or do you lag behind and by your example become a hindrance, discouraging those who would keep rank?
These who followed David didn’t learn to do that all in one moment—it took energy and effort to learn.
There is something wrong when we cannot keep rank with our brethren—when we find ourselves superior to all the rest of our brethren. There is something wrong with a condition like that.
God expects us to go on with our brethren, not, of course, in what is wrong—never!—but there is such a thing as being found going on with the saints of God.
When we find ourselves going off to ourselves, taking the ground of superior holiness—all our brethren are wrong and we alone are right—there is something fundamentally wrong with us.
C. H. Brown (Christian Truth)

Leave God Room to Act

“We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves” (Rom. 15:1).
To press our own convictions is neither the divine nor the human way to convince: not the human, because will only provokes will and defers the end we most desire; not the divine, because it is not the way of faith either on our part or on theirs whom we hurry. How much better to walk in faith and leave God room to act! He can and will give efficacy (effectiveness) to His own grace and truth.
W. Kelly

Light in Dark Times

“Thus saith the Lord; Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the Lord” (Jer. 17:5).
Their danger was in trusting in man and the arm of flesh. When the state of things becomes thoroughly evil and corrupt, the only object of trust is God. We must look to Him, and such is the blessing of the Lord that, if we only confide in Him, no day is so dark but what God can give us the richest blessings and the light of His presence.
W. Kelly

Looking Into the Face of Jesus

God knows the fruitless efforts,
The wasted hours, the sinning and remorse;
I leave them all with Him who blots the record
And graciously forgives as our Resource.
I look not forward—God sees all the future,
The road that, short or long, will lead me home,
And He will face with me its every trial,
And bear for me the burden that may come.
I look not round me—then would fears assail me,
So wild the tumult of life’s restless seas;
So dark the world, so filled with war and evil,
So vain the hope of comfort and of ease.
I look not inward—that would make me wretched,
For I have naught on which to stay my trust;
Nothing I see but failures and shortcomings,
And weak endeavors crumbling into dust.
But I look up—into the face of Jesus!
For there my heart can rest, my fears are stilled,
And there is joy, and love, and light for darkness,
And perfect peace, and every hope fulfilled.
“The blood of Jesus Christ His [God’s] Son cleanseth us from all sin” (1 John 1:7).

"Looking Upon Jesus As He Walked": Luke 24:1-12

In Luke 24 we see Jesus in resurrection, and we find many things here to invite attention. In the opening verses, as soon as the Jewish Sabbath was over, the women came with spices which they had prepared, and they found the stone rolled away from the sepulchre, but they found not the body of Jesus.
Do we not find something exceedingly comforting in all that mix of ignorance and affection? It was ignorance that took them to look for the living among the dead, while it was affection that counted the dead body of the Lord Jesus worth more than all else around.
What did Christ do with it? He appreciated it but was not satisfied with it. He will not have love in the place of faith. Love is the principle that gives; faith is the principle that takes.
Christ will have us debtors, for He will occupy the place of the more blessed. Another has said, “Faith is the principle that lets God think for us. If I come naked and empty and make God everything, that is faith.”
The law makes man the principal and God secondary. Man is to be doing this and that, while God is passive. But the gospel changes sides altogether. Here God is the giver and you are the receiver. But with these, it was not faith but rather ignorant love. They had affection but did not understand the victory He had gained on their behalf. It is Christ that has visited me in my grave, not I that have visited Him in His grave. He is the living One; I am the dead one.
So they bring their spices looking for a dead body and were startled by a glittering stranger. The word from the angelic messengers is, “Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen: remember how He spake unto you when He was yet in Galilee.” That was a rebuke, because though they were about the business of love, it was also the business of unbelief. God stands vindicated in all.
Then they remembered the words. Oh! how much mischief we get into by not remembering God’s words! When the blessed Lord Jesus was tempted, He had the Word of God at hand, and by that Word He gained the victory in battle.
They had acted so because they had not remembered the simplest words that could have fallen on their ears. Yet, how sweet to see the grace of God in communicating with us, even in our mistakes! The rebuke was well meant and well deserved, but it was an excellent oil that would not break their heads (Psa. 141:5).
Their mistakes now put them in company with Jesus. How much better that my mistakes put me there too, rather than my not being in company with Him at all!
J. G. Bellett (adapted from Notes on the Gospel of Luke)

"Looking Upon Jesus As He Walked": Luke 24:13-32

We now find the Lord joining the two disciples on the road with their gloomy hearts and reasonings. What made them sad? It was unbelief. Their sadness was attractive to Jesus, for if the affection that took the spices to His tomb was delightful to Him, the sadness that gathered round their clouded hearts was also delightful to Him. It was reality.
The Gospels give us little displays of eternity, and here you have communion between the Lord of glory and poor sinners—the same communion that will be found in glory. It is worth everything to have an intimate eternity with Christ! Our hearts are prepared for it through the Gospels.
The two disciples found their confidence won and retained, though the Lord never made an effort about it. He just threw Himself out on their hearts, and they took Him up as He was.
They tell Him of the reason of their sadness and He returns a loving rebuke: “O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken.” That was the cure, and that was where they came short. Oh! how should that bind round your heart and mine every jot and tittle of God’s Word! Then He showed them how Christ should suffer, and expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.
Now their unbelieving reasonings turned into faith’s kindlings. How did that happen? Jesus had interpreted Himself. How natural then that He should make as though He would go farther! He was hiding Himself under a veil, and, as a stranger, He would not intrude on them. “But they constrained Him.” What wonderful kindlings they were enjoying—and that caused this piece of courtesy. Let us thank, then, the One to whom thanks is due, not they who constrained Him.
Be sure, the joy of eternity will never weary you. Kindlings will be there in seraphic order. Give me a seraphim mind within and the glories of Jesus around—that will be heaven.
J. G. Bellett (from Notes on the Gospel of Luke)

Lord Jesus - Our Endless Theme

O wondrous Saviour, Jesus Lord!
Worthy alone to be adored,
We worship Thee!
Thou holy, spotless Son of God,
To Thee th’ incarnate living Word,
All glory be! All glory be!
In Thee all human graces blend,
And to Thy Father e’er ascend
As incense rare;
Fragrant to Him Thou ever art,
Source of rejoicing to His heart,
Most sweet and fair! Most sweet and fair!
Fairer than all the sons of men,
Beyond all praise of tongue or pen,
Thou peerless one!
In grace, in patient tenderness,
In truth, in holy faithfulness,
Thine equal none! Thine equal none!
Matchless, incomparable, divine!
In Jesus all perfections shine—
Oh, blessed name!
How shall we tell its worth abroad,
How tell the praises of our Lord,
Or spread His fame? Or spread His fame?
This, this shall be our endless theme,
When glorified we share with Him,
The Father’s home;
And see in blessed, wondrous grace
Our God revealed in Jesus’ face:
Lord Jesus, come! Lord Jesus, come!
Mss S. M. Walker (1848-1918)
“Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Romans 10:13).

"Master, Where Dwellest Thou?"

“Rabbi, (which is to say, being interpreted, Master,) where dwellest Thou? He saith unto them, Come and see. They came and saw where He dwelt, and abode with Him” (John 1:38-39).
A Perfect Life
“God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with Him” (Acts 10:38). Here, in a few words, is a simple summary of the public life of the Lord Jesus in this world. He “went about doing good,” anointed with the Holy Spirit and ever displaying the heart of God in the midst of the people. What a marvelous testimony to the Trinity!
After a few, short years of such a life of perfection and service to God, man’s hatred of perfect love and goodness reaches its climax. Satan concentrates his efforts to motivate and support man in his evil intent to crucify the Son of God. There’s a mock trial, and eventually the governor, Pilate, delivers Jesus “to their will” (Luke 23:25). As if to reinforce their wicked assessment of Jesus’ worth, they make sure that He hangs between two of their worst criminals.
Where is God in all of this? Can any of these proceedings catch Him by surprise? Ah, blessed be His holy name! Absolutely not! In eternity the Godhead determines the sublime purpose that the Son would come to accomplish redemption. He is “delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God” (Acts 2:23). The Son offers Himself: “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us? Then said I, Here am I; send Me” (Isa. 6:8). “When He cometh into the world, He saith, Sacrifice and offering Thou wouldest not, but a body hast Thou prepared Me: In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin Thou hast had no pleasure. Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of Me,) to do Thy will, O God” (Heb. 10:5-7).
The Martyr Sufferings
Here at the cross, the will of God and the will of man converge. Here the love in the heart of God and the evil in the heart of man meet. Here, too, the power of God and the power of Satan come into full display.
Who can tell the horror of the martyr sufferings of our Lord Jesus Christ—what He endured from the hands of His creature man? He weaves a crown out of thorns and puts it on His head; he then beats Him on the head with a reed. He spits on Him. He gives Him vinegar mixed with gall to drink. In many ways he mocks and reviles this blessed One, perhaps the worst of which is that wicked, ignorant taunt, “He trusted in God; let Him deliver Him now, if He will have Him: for He said, I am the Son of God” (Matt. 27:43). In every way possible, Satan leads man to vent the cruelty and hatred that are in his heart against perfect goodness.
The Atoning Sufferings
Then comes “the sixth hour”—the very middle of the day—and “there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour” (Matt. 27:45). The transaction that then takes place must be between God and the Lord Jesus Christ alone. “He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities;  .  .  . Jehovah hath laid upon Him the iniquity of us all.  .  .  .  It pleased Jehovah to bruise Him; He hath subjected Him to suffering.  .  .  .  Thou shalt make His soul an offering for sin.  .  .  .  He bore the sin of many” (Isa. 53:56,10,12 JnD). “Him who knew not sin He has made sin for us” (2 Cor. 5:21 JnD). “Who His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree” (1 Peter 2:24).
In this mighty work He is utterly alone. Not only has all human support fled—indeed, the scene is completely beyond man’s ability to comprehend or endure—but even God, in His abhorrence of sin, must turn His back on this holy Sufferer. “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” (Psa. 22:1). Only this blessed One—God and Man in one Person—can sustain this load, fully bear the suffering that it entails and complete it to the glory of God.
The Finished Work
At the end of those three hours of darkness, we hear those peace-giving words of victory: “It is finished” (John 19:30). Being a divine Person, He pronounces His own statement concerning the work that He has just accomplished. Then “He bowed His head, and gave up the ghost” (vs. 30).
After the darkness has ended, the heart of man is unchanged. He continues on in his course of outward religion while his heart is empty and cold toward God and His beloved Son. “The Jews therefore, because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remain [or, abide—same word] upon the cross on the sabbath day, (for that sabbath day was an high day,) besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away” (John 19:31).
Without dwelling on man’s side of this verse, let’s apply what it says in this way: We want to learn where the Lord Jesus dwells—or abides—and one place where we will not find Him is on the cross. The glorious work of redemption is finished. He Himself says, “I have glorified Thee on the earth: I have finished the work which Thou gavest Me to do” (John 17:4). He’s not on the cross; He’s not in the grave. “Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father” (Rom. 6:4). “This man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down on the right hand of God” (Heb. 10:12).
What peace it gives to our souls to know that the work that the Lord Jesus did on Calvary is entirely to God’s satisfaction. It completely answers what God’s holiness demands and completely pays what our sins deserve. It never can be or will be repeated. Hallelujah! What a Saviour!
D. R. Macy

"Master, Where Dwellest Thou?"

“Rabbi, (which is to say, being interpreted, Master,) where dwellest Thou? He saith unto them, Come and see. They came and saw where He dwelt, and abode with Him” (John 1:38-39).
Anticipation of the Cross
Let us go ahead to the garden of Gethsemane. While in point of time this happened before the cross, the moral lesson we wish to learn in the garden follows the cross—follows that time when we put our faith in the finished work of Christ for ourselves—and ought to remain with us for our entire Christian life in this world.
“Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and saith unto the disciples, Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder. And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and very heavy. Then saith He unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry [or, abide] ye here, and watch with Me” (Matt. 26:36-38).
In the garden, the Lord Jesus anticipates all that is going to transpire on the cross. He knows the counsels of eternity in which the Son offers to accomplish all that the love of God purposes for the blessing of man. His holy soul enters into the horror that it will mean to be made sin and to suffer the wrath of God against sin.
He looks for some to stand with Him. “Behold, and see if there be any sorrow like unto My sorrow” (Lam. 1:12). “I looked for some to take pity, but there was none; and for comforters, but I found none” (Psa. 69:20). In Gethsemane He takes three of His disciples “with Him”; He says to them, “Watch with Me.”
The work of atonement was entirely His own. None but He could endure the weight of judgment that was due for our sins. Hence, God clothed the whole scene with darkness.
But now that the mighty work is finished and we have come into blessing as “fruit of the travail of His soul” (Isa. 53:11 JnD), He expresses the desire of His soul: “Remain here and watch with Me” (Matt. 26:38 JND). It is as though He says to us, “Leave your heart here in sight of the cross. Keep the sufferings of Calvary ever fresh before your soul. Remember and meditate on what I did for you there and don’t ever leave this place.”
Response in Worship
On that same night in which He was betrayed, the Lord Jesus was together with His disciples one more time. He took bread and a cup, and with those simple elements He instituted a memorial supper—the Lord’s supper. He said, “This do in remembrance of Me” (Luke 22:19). The Apostle Paul repeats our Lord’s words (1 Cor. 11:23-25) and shows us His desire that His assembly—His body, the church—gather around Himself at His table and, by partaking of His supper, remember Him in His death. Isn’t this where we collectively abide with Him and watch—remember—with Him?
But in addition to this collective side to our Christian lives, there is also an individual side. “By Him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to His name” (Heb. 13:15). Doesn’t He deserve praise and adoration and worship from our hearts every day? In fact, our thanksgiving will be scant and our worship barren when we sit in His presence collectively if we have waited till then to collect our thoughts about Him. Let us follow the psalmist’s example: “Every day will I bless thee; and I will praise Thy name forever and ever” (Psa. 145:2).
Overcoming Temptation
How often are we like the disciples—asleep in the presence of His passion, just as they were, at an earlier occasion, asleep at the display of His glory (Luke 9:32). Multitudes of cares of life and other distractions crowd our best moments. As a result, our baskets of firstfruits (Deut. 26:2)—where we store our meditations of the Person and work of Christ to offer back to God what He has given us by His Spirit to enjoy of His Son—remain rather empty from day to day. But He has said, “None shall appear before Me empty” (Ex. 23:15). Oh, may we be stirred to revive the priority of meditation in our daily, personal lives so that our hearts are full to overflowing with His praise and worship when we meet together with Him at His table.
Abiding with the Lord in this place, we learn that the key to overcoming temptation is staying alert to His sufferings and keeping them fresh before our souls. “Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matt. 26:41). We are unable to resist temptation in our own strength; how painfully true we know this to be. But when we look to Christ, we see that He has vanquished Satan and all his power at the cross. We see the One who shed His precious blood to redeem us—to buy us back to Himself. In the sight of such sufferings, are we going to act carelessly and give in to the alluring snares of this wicked world?
There’s one more, most important lesson that we should learn while we abide with our Lord here: submission. Listen to His prayer: “O My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me: nevertheless not as I will, but as Thou wilt” (Matt. 26:39). The second time He prays, is His attitude any different? “O My Father, if this cup may not pass away from Me, except I drink it, Thy will be done” (vs. 42). A third time He prays, “saying the same words” (vs. 44). As a man, the Lord Jesus has only one motive and purpose—to do the will of Him who sent Him. Absolute submission to the directions from His Father characterizes every thought, every word and every action of this blessed Man, even to the death of the cross.
Doesn’t love for Christ constrain our hearts to “follow in His steps” (1 Peter 2:21 JnD)? Could there be anything more important to usurp this preeminent place that the Person and the work of Christ should have to our souls? No! He alone is worthy to be our hearts’ sole Object.
D. R. Macy

"Master, Where Dwellest Thou?"

“Rabbi, (which is to say, being interpreted, Master,) where dwellest Thou? He saith unto them, Come and see. They came and saw where He dwelt, and abode with Him” (John 1:38-39).
Building Relationships With Individuals
“And Jesus entered and passed through Jericho” (Luke 19:1). Jericho is a city that lies under a curse pronounced by God (Josh. 6:26). What an apt picture of this world—under a curse for its sin and doomed to destruction. Into such a world Jesus comes, in order to bring the love of God to lost, ruined man. But He comes to build one-on-one relationships with individuals, not just with the race of mankind as a whole.
“And, behold, there was a man named Zaccheus, which was the chief among the publicans, and he was rich. And he sought to see Jesus who He was; and could not for the press, because he was little of stature” (Luke 19:23). Here is one of those individuals upon whom Jesus sets His eye. Out of the masses that constantly surround Him, the Lord Jesus shows the tender compassion and interest of His heart to individual people.
Zaccheus has plenty of hindrances. First, his occupation classes him, in the world’s view, as a sinner (vs. 7), and he is a chief among them. Second, he is wealthy, and the Lord Jesus had just taught His disciples, “How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God!” (ch. 18:24). And third, he is “little of stature,” reminding us of the truth of that well-known verse, “All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23).
But one other feature marks Zaccheus: his heart longs to see Jesus, who He is, and he isn’t going to let any of his natural hindrances get in the way of this deep desire. “He ran before, and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see Him: for He was to pass that way” (Luke 19:4).
With the press of people around Him, does the Lord Jesus have time to attend to the needs and desires of one anxious heart? Yes! That is just the purpose for which He came into this sad world.
Faith Recognized
“When Jesus came to the place, He looked up, and saw him, and said unto him, Zaccheus, make haste, and come down; for today I must abide at thy house” (vs. 5). It has been said that He may test faith, but He’ll never disappoint it. Zaccheus might have thought he had an inconspicuous spot from which to get a passing glance at this important Person, but Jesus would not be satisfied till He could “abide” with Zaccheus.
“And he made haste, and came down, and received Him joyfully” (vs. 6). How eagerly and how joyfully faith obeys. How “exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think” (Eph. 3:20) does our God delight to respond to the slightest motions of faith in our hearts.
Faith Tested
We soon learn that part of the test of faith comes from opposition from others. In this case they complain about the unworthiness of the object on whom the Lord was focusing His attention. “When they saw it, they all murmured, saying, That He was gone to be guest with a man that is a sinner” (vs. 7). As a matter of fact, we are utterly unworthy. Isn’t our condition as sinners the only ground on which the Saviour can bestow His abundant blessing on us? The Lord Jesus said, “I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance” (Matt. 9:13).
Usually our first reaction to accusations is to try to justify ourselves. We don’t want our self-righteousness to go unnoticed. “Zaccheus stood, and said unto the Lord; Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken anything from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold” (vs. 8). That word, “I am not come to call the righteous,” is for us too. “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us” (Titus 3:5). “Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us” (Rom. 8:33-34).
Faith Rewarded
“Jesus said unto him, This day is salvation come to this house, forasmuch as he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man is come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:9-10). What does it mean to be “a son of Abraham”? Abraham was a man characterized by faith in God, and “they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham” (Gal. 3:9). Not only is faith tested, it is rewarded. When we come to where Jesus dwells, we find salvation—“eternal salvation” (Heb. 5:9)—for our sinful, lost hearts. Nothing else—nothing less—will give rest and peace and joy to our souls.
D. R. Macy

"Master, Where Dwellest Thou?"

“Rabbi, (which is to say, being interpreted, Master,) where dwellest Thou? He saith unto them, Come and see. They came and saw where He dwelt, and abode with Him” (John 1:38-39).
Eternal Security
Now we move on to another scene where the Lord Jesus is the center of a discussion with some Jews at Jerusalem. Perhaps these are not the same people who find fault with Him for having anything to do with a sinner like Zaccheus, but the spirit is the same nonetheless. “It was at Jerusalem the feast of the dedication, and it was winter” (John 10:22). Their cold, harsh spirit of criticism and opposition is unrelenting.
In the middle of their discussion, we hear Jesus utter those words that have given the absolute assurance of the eternal security of salvation to you and me and many others besides. “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me: and I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of My hand. My Father, which gave them Me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of My Father’s hand. I and My Father are one” (vss. 27-30).
But to “an evil heart of unbelief” (Heb. 3:12), those words only suggest blasphemy. Not only does their heart think it; their lips express such a wicked charge. The Lord Jesus patiently, humbly answers their foolish reasoning, ever maintaining the dignity of His Person as God and His relationship with the Father. “Say ye of Him, whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God? If I do not the works of My Father, believe Me not. But if I do, though ye believe not Me, believe the works: that ye may know, and believe, that the Father is in Me, and I in Him” (John 10:36-38).
Do His words produce any change in their hearts? No, their minds are determined, and they will not alter their course. As the Lord Jesus said on another occasion, “Ye will not come to Me, that ye might have life” (John 5:40).
John the Baptist’s Ministry
“Therefore they sought again to take Him: but He escaped out of their hand, and went away again beyond Jordan into the place where John at first baptized; and there He abode (John 10:39-40). Here the dwelling-place of our Lord connects us with John the Baptist’s ministry. What is that? John is a voice “crying in the wilderness, Prepare the way of the Lord, make His paths straight” (Mark 1:3 JnD). John baptizes in the Jordan those who come to him “confessing their sins” (Matt. 3:6). These repentant souls separate from the unbelieving Jewish nation. In this same spirit Peter later preaches on the day of Pentecost: “Save yourselves from this untoward generation” (Acts 2:40).
The nation’s leaders attempt to join this group that John is preparing for the advent of Christ. Pharisees and Sadducees go to John’s baptism, but he at once detects their hypocrisy. “O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance: and think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham” (Matt. 3:7-9). True repentance is marked by fruit—the humble spirit of contrition before God and the fruit of the Holy Spirit. Haven’t we met one example of this fruit already in Zaccheus—“a son of Abraham” (Luke 19:9)? Hasn’t God also raised up from the stones—Gentiles, “dead in trespasses and sins” (Eph. 2:1)—fruit for His praise and glory?
The Meek, Humble Man
The Lord Jesus, the meek and lowly Man, takes His place alongside this repentant remnant. These are the ones whom He delights to encourage with His presence—those separated from the systems and pride of man, with a true heart for God. “Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him” (Matt. 3:13). John forbids Him. He knows the glory of this Person—one “mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear” (vs. 11)—and he suggests that their roles should be reversed; Jesus ought to be baptizing John. But Jesus gently explains the need “to fulfill all righteousness” (vs. 15)—to demonstrate the true position of separation that He was taking away from the organization of the Jewish nation.
The Father’s Delight
After John baptizes Jesus, the heavens open for God to declare His thoughts concerning His beloved Son. If, as a Man, He takes a lowly place before the great of this world, He who is the Highest tells to all that this is the Man—the only man—who delights His soul. “Jesus, having been baptized, went up straightway from the water, and lo, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove, and coming upon Him: and behold, a voice out of the heavens saying, This is My beloved Son, in whom I have found My delight” (vss. 16-17 JND).
Now, in John 10, the Lord Jesus goes back to this place—the place of separation from man’s system of religion, the place of association with a humble remnant whose hearts have responded to the call for repentance, and the place of the Father’s expressed delight in His Son. Is this the place for me? Is this the place for you? Are we willing to abide with Him there?
“Many resorted unto Him, and said, John did no miracle: but all things that John spake of this Man were true. And many believed on Him there” (John 10:41-42). The Lord Jesus is the truth (John 14:6), and as we abide with Him we will be enlightened with the truth. He is the living Word, and we have the written Word, “the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15). Only by dwelling with Him will we be able to bear a proper testimony for Him to others. Those who come to Jesus and believe on Him happily acknowledge, “All things that John spake of this Man were true. ” May the same be true of our testimony for Christ today.
D. R. Macy

"Master, Where Dwellest Thou?"

“Rabbi, (which is to say, being interpreted, Master,) where dwellest Thou? He saith unto them, Come and see. They came and saw where He dwelt, and abode with Him” (John 1:38-39).
The Object of Man’s Enmity
“After these things Jesus walked in Galilee: for He would not walk in Jewry, because the Jews sought to kill Him” (John 7:1). We have already encountered the leadership of the Jewish nation. We have seen their staunch opposition to the Son of God who is in their midst. Now their enmity reaches the point that they are bent on murdering this blessed Man.
“Now the Jews’ feast of tabernacles was at hand” (vs. 2). What a paradox! The feast of tabernacles is the last of the seven feasts of Jehovah (Lev. 23). It prefigures the day of peace and rest for the children of Israel under the glorious reign of their Messiah. How can they celebrate the anticipation of such a day of righteousness and glory when they are busy plotting to kill the King? That’s why it must be called “the Jews’ feast of tabernacles”; at this time in John’s Gospel, it cannot be a feast that God honors.
“His brethren therefore said unto Him, Depart hence, and go into Judea, that Thy disciples also may see the works that Thou doest. For there is no man that doeth anything in secret, and he himself seeketh to be known openly. If Thou do these things, show Thyself to the world” (vss. 3-4). How little the mind of man enters into the thoughts of God! Man ever seeks the honor that comes from man, “not the honor that cometh from God only” (John 5:44). Man must capitalize on every opportunity for self-exaltation, so he expects Jesus to act the same way and would even help push Him into the limelight.
Unbelief Dishonors God
However, the Spirit of God sheds the true light on their hearts. He reveals the real root of their suggestions: unbelief. “Neither did His brethren believe in Him” (ch. 7:5). Unbelief will always misjudge God. By not thinking correctly concerning man’s true place before God, it does not honor Him with that trust and confidence that become His creature. Only the Spirit of God can give us proper thoughts about God and about man.
The Lord Jesus always was led by the Holy Spirit in every thought, every word and every action. Such suggestions of self-exaltation never distract Him for one moment from His perfect path of obedience to His Father’s will. They only provide a clearer display of His perfection as man.
“Then Jesus said unto them, My time is not yet come: but your time is always ready. The world cannot hate you; but Me it hateth, because I testify of it, that the works thereof are evil. Go ye up unto this feast: I go not up yet unto this feast; for My time is not yet full come” (vss. 68). He ever remembers the work that He had come to accomplish. Every footstep must move Him in that direction alone, according to God’s timetable, not man’s.
The Place of Humility
Sometimes this means remaining right where He is. “When He had said these words unto them, He abode still in Galilee” (vs. 9). Judea is the place of importance, to man’s way of thinking; Galilee is despised. Nazareth, “where He had been brought up” (Luke 4:16), is a town of Galilee, and Nathanael, when Philip tells him that they had found Jesus of Nazareth, expresses the popular opinion of the day about that place: “Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth?” (John 1:46).
Philip answers Nathanael with the words of his Master: “Come and see.” Jesus is there. He is “meek and lowly in heart” (Matt. 11:29). “He is despised and rejected of men” (Isa. 53:3). “He humbled Himself” (Phil. 2:8). In the face of the hatred of man’s heart on the one hand and the pride of self-exaltation on the other, where will we find the Lord Jesus? In the place of humility.
Where do we dwell, if we want to abide with Him? In this same place of humility. As we stay with Him, we shall become more like Him. “Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me” (Matt. 11:29 JND). “The fear of the Lord is the instruction of wisdom; and before honor is humility” (Prov. 15:33). “Be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God” (1 Peter 5:5-6).
May we have grace to abide in His company and to develop and display this character trait that was so perfectly exemplified in the life of our blessed Saviour, “the Lord of glory” (1 Cor. 2:8) who went down to the lowest place.
D. R. Macy

"Master, Where Dwellest Thou?"

“Rabbi, (which is to say, being interpreted, Master,) where dwellest Thou? He saith unto them, Come and see. They came and saw where He dwelt, and abode with Him” (John 1:38-39).
Looking for Refreshment
Now let’s move along in our journey to Jacob’s well. It’s noon and a weary Traveler has just arrived. Then a Samaritan woman comes. She’s there to draw water; perhaps she can satisfy the Traveler’s thirst. He asks her for a drink: Will she use her waterpot to draw water for this Man? No, she shows her national prejudice by telling Him that He must have His own bucket for this deep well.
He says to her, “If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give Me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of Him, and He would have given thee living water” (John 4:10). Who is it that is speaking to this woman? None other than Jesus, “the gift of God.” He reveals to her that God is the Giver, and He wants to give to this poor woman something of incomparably greater value than the water that she could have offered to Him.
But her heart’s not ready for “the gift of God [which] is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord”; she must first learn that “the wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23). The mention of “God” and “living water” suggest religion to her mind, so she engages her Visitor in a discussion about the worship of the Jews in contrast to that of her Samaritan ancestors. In perfect wisdom and discernment, the Lord Jesus steers the conversation through a series of questions and answers that clearly bring the truth to light.
Life Through the Spirit
She asks, “Art Thou greater than our father Jacob?” (John 4:12). He answers her, “Whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life” (vs. 14). “Water” is a picture of eternal life, and the “well” He refers to is the Holy Spirit. He is the same One who later says, “I am the resurrection, and the life” (ch. 11:25). “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me” (ch. 14:6).
Acknowledging the Truth
She says, “Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw” (ch. 4:15). By coming to the well at this peculiar hour, she testifies to the shame of her sinful lifestyle. “Jesus saith unto her, Go, call thy husband, and come hither” (vs. 16). When she answers, “I have no husband,” He replies, “Thou hast well said, I have no husband: for thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband: in that saidst thou truly” (vss. 17-18). There can be no blessing until we acknowledge the truth of the sinful condition of our hearts before the holy eye of God.
Proper Worship
She then tries the subject of worship, but she still wants to argue from the viewpoint of her Samaritan heritage. The Lord Jesus reveals to her the true character of worship that God will accept. “Salvation is of the Jews. But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship Him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth” (vss. 22-24). What a wealth of truth He tells this woman in a few, short sentences: salvation (in the Person of the One who is speaking to her), God known as Father, and His seeking worshippers according to His own revealed character.
Possessing the Blessings Now
She has one final comment. “I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ: when He is come, He will tell us all things” (vs. 25). She suggests that these things are too difficult to understand but that sometime in the future the Messiah will come to explain it all to them. He says, as it were, “No, I don’t want you to have to wait till then. I want you to possess and enjoy all these blessings right now.” “Jesus saith unto her, I that speak unto thee am He” (vs. 26).
At this point her heart has been won. She has felt her soul’s need as a sinner, and she has seen the One who can satisfy that need and give her “exceeding abundantly above all that [she could] ask or think” (Eph. 3:20). She leaves her waterpot; she now has “in [her] a well of water springing up into everlasting life” (John 4:14).
Getting the Refreshment He Desired
What about Jesus: Is He still thirsty? Isn’t this the “drink” that He desired to receive from this poor sinner? Debtors to mercy, sinners saved by matchless grace, captives in the chains of love—these are the ones who give refreshment to His heart.
The woman can’t help but open her mouth in testimony of this blessed Man to others. She goes back to the city and says to the men, “Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ?” (vs. 29).
Her former life might well have caused bitterness and alienation between her and some of the men of the city, but this witness to the power of grace abounding over all her sin is irresistible. “They went out of the city, and came unto Him (vs. 30). And what is the result? “Many of the Samaritans of that city believed on Him” (vs. 39).
The Whole Day of Grace
They are not satisfied with a hasty visit. “They besought Him that He would tarry [or, abide] with them: and He abode there two days” (vs. 40). Isn’t this a picture of this present day of grace? “One day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day” (2 Peter 3:8). The testimony to the saving power of God’s grace through the finished work of the cross has been proclaimed for approximately two thousand years. As we make known this good news to a thirsty world, we do so in fellowship with Him who “is long-suffering  .  .  .  not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).
And we can count on Him for results that give glory and honor to His Person and His work. “Many more believed because of His own word; and said unto the woman, Now we believe, not because of thy saying: for we have heard Him ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world” (John 4:41-42).
D. R. Macy

"Master, Where Dwellest Thou?"

“Rabbi, (which is to say, being interpreted, Master,) where dwellest Thou? He saith unto them, Come and see. They came and saw where He dwelt, and abode with Him” (John 1:38-39).
Disappointed, Discouraged Disciples
Two of the disciples leave Jerusalem to walk about seven miles to their home in Emmaus. Along the way they discuss the momentous events that had occurred in Jerusalem over the past few days. The whole city was in turmoil. All the people seemed to turn against one man, and the outcome for him was not what they had hoped or expected. As a result, they are disappointed, and they are discouraged.
“It came to pass, that, while they communed together and reasoned, Jesus Himself drew near, and went with them. But their eyes were holden that they should not know Him” (Luke 24:15-16). They continue their discussion, but they soon conclude, from the questions that He is asking them, that this new person who has just joined them must be “a stranger in Jerusalem” (vs. 18) and unfamiliar with the recent commotion there.
Well might we probe our own consciences by His question: “What manner of communications are these that ye have one to another, as ye walk, and are sad?” (vs. 17). As we walk—as we travel along our path through life—are we sad? Do we interpret events around us—whether they be in our family, the assembly or the world—from the perspective of man’s intelligence and reasoning or from the light and wisdom of the Word of God? We are sure to become discouraged and downcast if we allow the thinking of this world to influence and form the state of our hearts.
He asks them what things are giving them such an agitated and animated discussion. They tell Him that they concern one “Jesus of Nazareth, which was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people” (vs. 19). They complain against their religious and political leaders who condemned Him and then crucified Him. They repeat the testimony of certain women of the group with whom they had been meeting, who claimed that He is alive, risen from among the dead. And they confirm that others of their group, having gone to His grave, report that it is indeed empty.
Power and Glory Without Repentance?
But the crux of their disappointment they express to Him in these words: “We trusted that it had been He which should have redeemed Israel” (vs. 21). They are looking for a king to appear in power to release them from the oppression of the Roman Empire, to which they are currently subject, and establish them in a glorious kingdom at the head of all the nations. They would overlook the sin and rebellion of Israel against God, the reason for their present condition of servitude to other nations, and ignore repentance, an essential precursor to the blessings of the kingdom.
Their companion takes this up with them. “Then He said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into His glory?” (vss. 25-26). Peter speaks about “the sufferings which belonged to Christ, and the glories after these” (1 Peter 1:11 JnD). Later on he says that he was a “witness of the sufferings of the Christ, who also am partaker of the glory about to be revealed” (1 Peter 5:1 JnD). The pattern in the Scriptures is always suffering and then glory. Our blessed Lord was perfect in His going down to the lowest depths, “even the death of the cross,” before being exalted to the highest place (Phil. 2:5-11).
The Living Word Teaches
“Beginning at Moses and all the prophets, He expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning Himself” (Luke 24:27). What a wonderful teaching meeting that must have been! The living Word of God interprets the written Word of God to their eager, listening hearts. And we learn a vitally important truth too: All the Scriptures, including the books of Moses and all the prophets, speak “concerning Himself. The one grand theme of the whole Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, is God’s beloved Son. “Christ is everything, and in all” (Col. 3:11 JnD).
Is restoration taking place in the souls of these two discouraged travelers? We might not be able to see much evidence of it at first, but it is happening nonetheless. Just like the activity of the Spirit of God for salvation (John 3:8), so the Spirit’s work in a soul to restore it to the joy of salvation (Psa. 51:12) is often hidden but no less real. The Spirit of God ministers the person and work of Christ through the Word of God—remember that “every scripture is divinely inspired, and profitable for teaching, for conviction, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2 Tim. 3:16 JND)—to lead a soul through repentance of its wayward course back into communion with Himself once again.
These two walking to Emmaus later share with one another, “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). They have become absorbed with the One who deigned to walk those miles with them. Where once they had been discouraged and walking away from Jerusalem, now their hearts are on fire and they can’t have enough of Himself.
Personal Fellowship With Him
When they approach their village, “He made as though He would have gone further” (vs. 28). He does not force Himself on anyone; He longs for our hearts to display their response of love to His and to express our desire for His presence. “They constrained Him, saying, Abide with us: for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent. And He went in to tarry [or, abide] with them” (vs. 29). Restored, uplifted and encouraged once again, their hearts are now in a suitable state to realize and enjoy His presence. He responds to their invitation and turns in to abide with them, for He loves to be constrained in this way.
Undoubtedly they are hungry after such a long walk. They sit down to supper together, and during the meal their guest assumes the place of host. He takes a loaf of bread, blesses it, breaks it and gives it to them. Then “their eyes were opened, and they knew Him (vs. 31). Only then do they learn who this glorious person is who has been walking and talking with them. While this is an ordinary supper that they eat in their home, it reminds us of the Lord’s supper, that memorial of His death and finished work on the cross. The person and the work of our Lord Jesus Christ are inseparable, and God would have us never to lose sight of or diminish the value of either the one or the other.
Collective Fellowship With Him
At this point the Lord Jesus leaves these two. Why would He do that? Because they don’t belong all by themselves in their house seven miles from Jerusalem. Their hearts are burning and they have immensely enjoyed His presence, but they need to be gathering with others of “like precious faith” (2 Peter 1:1) around Himself for collective fellowship. So complete is the work of restoration that He has accomplished in their hearts that He knows they will not remain where they are. “They rose up the same hour, and returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven gathered together, and them that were with them” (vs. 33).
There they enjoyed His presence in their midst. “Jesus Himself stood in the midst of them.” There, too, they were privileged to hear the Lord Jesus’ resurrection message, proving that He had accomplished redemption to God’s satisfaction and glory: “Peace be unto you” (vs. 36).
D. R. Macy

"Master, Where Dwellest Thou?"

“Rabbi, (which is to say, being interpreted, Master,) where dwellest Thou? He saith unto them, Come and see. They came and saw where He dwelt, and abode with Him” (John 1:38-39).
A Home Where Christ Is Welcome
One further incident in the life of our Lord Jesus Christ calls for our attention. This time our thoughts travel to Bethany. Mary, Martha and Lazarus, who live in that village, have consistently furnished a refreshing home for the Son of Man. He is always welcome there, and they always appreciate and value His company with them. Away from the tension and animosity that He constantly encounters from the leaders of the Jewish nation in Jerusalem, Jesus can always count on the peace and quiet of a solid, warm friendship whenever He visits this home.
Then one day Lazarus gets sick. His sisters’ first thought is to call for Jesus. He is not there at the time, but they are confident that He would want to know that His friend is not well. More than that, they are sure that Jesus would heal their brother if He were there.
“Therefore his sisters sent unto Him, saying, Lord, behold, he whom Thou lovest is sick” (John 11:3). They present their brother’s need to the Lord on the basis of a known and enjoyed relationship of love. Surely that will tug at His heartstrings and move Him to come to their home, and that quickly. Wouldn’t the Lord desire His friend to be well and able to serve Him once again?
What does Jesus do? “When He had heard therefore that he was sick, He abode two days still in the same place where He was” (vs. 6). Are we surprised—maybe even disturbed—by Jesus’ behavior? Doesn’t it say, “Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus” (vs. 5)? Didn’t we expect that He would drop everything the moment He heard of Lazarus’s illness and rush to his side to heal him? Why then does He remain right where He is when He receives such saddening news?
All for the Glory of God
We’ll find the secret in the previous verse. “When Jesus heard that, He said, This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby” (vs. 4). The Lord Jesus always does everything—every movement, every word spoken, and every thought—for the glory of God. He never takes one step or utters one word except in complete communion and harmony with His Father. At the same time, God the Father is ever jealous for the glory and honor of God the Son.
We read in Isaiah, “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” (ch. 55:8-9). We look on the outward appearance; so often we judge events by sight—by what is outwardly visible to our natural understanding. And thereby we fall so far short of communion with our God and His thoughts concerning the circumstances of life. In fact, sometimes we completely misjudge Him and His thoughts of pure love towards us, and we attribute ill motives to Him who says He is working “all things” for good (Rom. 8:28).
The Ultimate Purpose for Our Lives
What is the purpose for which all things work together for good? “Whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren” (vs. 29). Isn’t this the very reason why we desire to abide with Him—so that we might learn from Him those moral characteristics that are befitting to His presence and that we might be more conformed to His image morally even now?
The End of the Journey
This path, on which we have embarked with Him, ends in glory. That is the promise of God, and without a doubt all of His promises come to fruition. “Moreover whom He did predestinate, them He also called: and whom He called, them He also justified: and whom He justified, them He also glorified” (ch. 8:30). “We know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him” (1 John 3:2).
As we wait for that glorious moment—that “day” that shall never end—may the Lord deepen in our souls the earnest desire to abide with Him. May we treasure nothing so much as nearness of heart to Him and fellowship with His mind in everything. And may those around us, with whom we have contact from day to day, readily discern in our speech and in our behavior that we have “been with Jesus” (Acts 4:13).
“He that abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit; for without Me ye can do nothing.  .  .  .  As the Father has loved Me, I also have loved you: abide in My love” (John 15:5,9 JND).
D. R. Macy

Meditations on Galatians 5

What we have here in Galatians is an error so serious that it takes one off the ground of Christianity altogether. All that Paul had to do to escape the persecution and the opposition of the established ways of Judaism was to circumcise the Gentiles. This would put them under law.
“Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing” (Gal. 5:2). When you’ve been circumcised (as a religious ritual observance), you’ve abandoned Christian ground for Jewish ground.
“For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law” (vs. 3). He’s taken himself off Christian ground—which is grace—and put himself under law.
The Apostle goes on in verse 11, “And I, brethren, if I yet preach circumcision, why do I yet suffer persecution? then is the offense of the cross ceased.” The Jews thought themselves superior to the Gentiles because they had the law, they had the promises, and they were the circumcised. The Gentiles, on the other hand, were uncircumcised—unclean dogs. Jewish brethren were trying to elevate the Gentiles in the assembly up to their supposedly higher spiritual level (by putting them on the principle of law through circumcision). That was absolutely wrong, because there aren’t two levels in the assembly. We are all members one of another—no member is superior to the other (see 1 Cor. 12:21-26).
When He saves us and gives us a new life in Christ, all of those distinctions that existed in the Old Testament are obliterated by the cross. He’s taken it out of the way (Col. 2:14) and now we stand in an altogether new relationship to God, and that is in grace and by virtue of the finished work of Christ.
A Higher Level of Christianity?
If I, a Gentile, submit to circumcision (as seen in Galatians 5), then I am, in principle, seeking a higher level of Christianity. Now, if we promote that kind of spirit among ourselves, we allow the idea that there can be a group that, because of certain practices, are more spiritual than others. That is absolutely unscriptural and it ministers to the flesh. In Galatians 6:12, the Apostle says, “As many as desire to make a fair show in the flesh, they constrain you to be circumcised; only lest they should suffer persecution for the cross of Christ.” Paul refused circumcision for Gentiles because that would deny the ground upon which they stand before God—the ground of grace.
He also says in Galatians 4:9, “But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage?” They (the Gentiles) were previously in bondage to a system of their own religion. Their religious practices consisted of worshipping false gods. They never worshipped the true God as did the Jew, nor were they ever under the law of Moses. They had their idolatrous laws and regulations as to what they could do and what they couldn’t do—their own rules on how to offer sacrifices to the gods they worshipped—constituting their idolatrous bondage.
Now the Jew was putting the Galatian believers under the same kind of religious bondage (in principle) by putting them under a different kind of law from what they had known in idolatry, though it is not exactly the same thing because one who worshipped under Judaism was worshipping the true God and the Gentiles worshipped false gods. But in principle it amounts to doing something after a ritualistic fashion to gain favor with the deity—that is Judaism; that’s the principal of law.
In Galatians 4:10-11 he says, “Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years. I am afraid of you.” Now Christendom has got that today. It has days and months, times and years, and religious holidays. The Roman church has even added more, observing official holidays throughout the year, all of which is supposed to give them an even higher standing before God. But it is a total falsification of the truth of Christian position, which is pure grace.
Grace is God bringing us into favor based upon the finished work of Christ, not based upon anything that we do.
Any Good in the Flesh?
In Leviticus 13-14, where you have the law of the leper, there was one case where the leper was totally covered with leprosy. The priest might look at many cases where sores broke out in the arm, the forehead or some other place in the body. He may have to look at it and see how deep it is and whether it grows or not. But here’s one case where the whole man is full of leprosy and that is the very one who is pronounced clean.
That’s a type of a man who couldn’t say, “Ah, there’s some good flesh. I’m not completely covered. I’m not completely bad. I’ve got some good in me. There’s a piece of good flesh.”
But the man that was completely covered with leprosy saw himself as vile and totally leprous. This is a picture of one who has judged himself before God as being totally sinful. When we come to that, that’s the total denial of self.
“For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing” (Rom. 7:18).
Grace or Law?
We’re no longer in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwells in us (Rom. 8:9). Circumcision is something that we could do that we might glory in the flesh. But if there’s anything that we can glory of in the flesh, then we’re totally off Christian ground. That’s what we have got to get hold of. They just wanted Paul to consent to the circumcision of the Gentiles, that’s all. But Paul says, “If you do that, you are a debtor to do the whole law.” In seeking to keep one point of the law, they were condemned by all the law. Further, those that did were off the ground of grace and back on the ground of law.
It’s the principle of law that is deadly, not the law itself. The law is holy and just and good. But we’re not under law; we’re under grace, and to get a hold of that is so important. Mr. Darby once said that the hardest thing for us to get a hold of is grace—pure grace.
“By grace are ye saved” (Eph. 2:8). “The true grace of God wherein ye stand” (1 Peter 5:12).
C. J. Hendricks (from a reading)

Meditations on the Man of Sorrows

“Their words seemed to them as idle tales, and they believed them not” (Luke 24:11).
How do we account for the apostles’ lack of belief in the Lord’s resurrection? We would not call them Corinthians, who, by intellectual workings, denied the resurrection, nor Sadducees, a depraved sect who denied it. Ah, but is it not hard to believe that God is doing your business in this world? It is much easier for us to do Christ’s business than to believe that He has done ours. Not one form of human religion takes up that thought. And it was so with the disciples. They could bring their spices and their ointments, but they were not yet able to believe the mighty fact that He had been doing their business.
We think of Him as hard and exacting and watching above the clouds to find occasion against us. Their hearts had been as leaking vessels of the words of Christ, and they came as the living to the dead instead of believing that He, as the living, has come down to us, the dead. We will spend our days in penances, but we will not trust Him.
Then we see Peter in the same plight. Peter! Is it possible—he that had made the very confession on which the church is founded! When Peter had to live the confession, he failed. The one among the eleven that ought eminently to have blushed was Peter. How you can distinguish a man from himself at times—his condition from his experience! If he had known what he was confessing, he never would have thought of “the Son of the living God” as among the dead.
J. G. Bellett (from Notes on the Gospel of Luke)

Memories of a Grandmother

“In the last few days, I’ve spent a lot of time remembering things about my grandma. I’m so thankful to have had nearly thirty-five years to share with her, for she left me with so many good memories and examples.
“The apron she always wore as she served Sunday dinner. The way she wiped her hands on it as she would come back to the table from the sink, checking to see if anyone needed anything else.
“The image of her on her hands and knees, faithfully scrubbing the meeting room floors, yet never saying a word.
“The way she loved and cared for Grandpa as he was dying of cancer—a shadow in the background, not asking sympathy for herself at the very time she needed it most.
“The way she stood in the covered walkway of her apartment, holding her purse and Bible, waiting for our family to pick her up for meeting.
“Her key chain which on one side said, ‘STOP—have you prayed about it?’ and on the other, ‘GO in the name of the Lord.’
“The well-worn Bible she kept close by her.
“The hand-drawn birthday cards with the Bible calendar verses taped inside—parts of the verses double underlined.
“The last time I kneeled and prayed with her, the way she squeezed my hand and smiled as I told her good-bye.
“Grandma, there’s no more work to be done now. No one to serve. No sparrows to feed. No time to keep track of. No worries or fears. No pain, no sadness or loneliness now. No loved ones to leave you—we’ll all soon be there. You are finally resting at peace with the Lord.
“Grandma, you were satisfied with having nothing in this world—now you’re satisfied with having everything there.
“May I follow your example of service until I join you in heaven with our Saviour and Lord.”
B. Nicolet
Ed. Note: The above is an excerpt from our son’s comments made at my mother’s memorial service.

Memories of Pearl Harbor

As we were eating breakfast that morning (Dec. 7, 1941), we heard explosions and saw bombers flying past Diamond Head. My father commented how unusual it was for the military to hold maneuvers on the Lord’s Day, as they ordinarily respected it in those days. The bombers were unarmed U.S. planes—stripped of all extra weight—that could only fly the 2500 miles from the mainland.
Dad, with my brother and me, drove around the corner where two girls waited for a ride to Sunday school. Instead of the girls standing on the curb, their mother, Mrs. Shida, was waiting for us. She said, “Go home. There’s war on and you are supposed to stay off the street!”
We went back home again, but later that day we went to my aunt’s house. From there we could see Honolulu Harbor and Pearl Harbor. A great pall of smoke was rising over Pearl Harbor, eleven miles distant.
Dad had recently received a letter from his friend in New Jersey, brother Gilford Christensen, with whom he corresponded regularly. At the end of the letter was a reference to Deuteronomy 33:27. We boys did not apprehend the seriousness of war, but we did sense the deep concern of the adults. We knew they were greatly alarmed. There was no meeting that day, but in the afternoon they read the verse together: “The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms: and He shall thrust out the enemy from before thee.”
What comfort that brought as many rumors were abroad, like troop ships ready for soldiers to invade the land. The fact was there were no troop ships. The enemy had turned around and was fleeing back to Japan after the attack. The Lord had preserved us.
Dad’s younger brother, my Uncle Bill, was in the Navy’s CBs, the “Construction Battalion.” They followed an invasion to build roads and runways. Although they were not in the forefront of the battle, they were often in danger.
Each time the Navy left for an invasion, Dad had a verse for Uncle Bill for his comfort in the Lord, such as Isaiah 43:2, “When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.”
At one invasion site Uncle Bill fell overboard. He could not swim but was rescued from drowning. One night, with other Navy men, he was intending to sleep on the beach, as the Army men were doing, rather than on the ship. The soldiers told the Navy men to get back to their ship where they belonged. This they did, and during the night a shell exploded on the beach, and the soldiers were killed. So Uncle Bill was saved from both watery and fiery death.
After the invasions, they came back to Pearl Harbor to prepare for the next assignment. On one occasion before they left for another destination, Dad said, “I don’t understand it, Bill, but I have no verse for you this time.” The ships left, and before they reached their destination the war was over!
T. Roach


“A certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him” (Luke 10:33).
The thief would say, “Thine is mine—I’ll take it!”
The priest and Levite would say, “Mine is mine—I’ll keep it!”
But the Samaritan would say, “Mine is thine—I’ll give it!”
“Ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that ye through His poverty might be rich” (2 Cor. 8:9).

More on Success

Ed Note: The following is an excerpt of a speech given by a young believer at a public high school graduation ceremony this last May.
I want to tell you about a Friend of mine whose life and success are told out time [and] again in the successful lives of others. My Friend was born and raised in a small rural town much like the one we have grown up in. Because His father was only a poor carpenter, my Friend spent most of His life helping with the family business rather than going to school.
At age thirty, He left home to follow a higher call. He went into ministry and made it His business to see to the physical and spiritual welfare of others.
His orations stirred His countrymen and alienated those in power. After three years of service, caring for the sick and dying, government authorities arrested Him for blasphemy. He was brought before the highest court of the land, though He was the most innocent Man that ever walked this earth. Jesus Christ was convicted and sentenced to death on a cross. He died alone—rejected by the very people He had served and cared so passionately for.
Many might say His life ended in failure. He did great things for His people while He was alive, but what was it all for? If He had lived longer, He may have had a very successful life, but His life seemed just wasted in the end. He died—end of story.
But that’s not the end of the story. Three days after His death, God raised Jesus Christ from the dead—the stamp of His approval that what Christ did here on earth and, more importantly, on the cross was indeed successful.
And it is through Christ’s death on the cross that we can be successful in our lives down here. By knowing Him as your personal Lord and Saviour—claiming His success as your own—you can trust in Him to guide your pathway through life. As His child, He only wants the best for you. And though you may not become the CEO of a multimillion dollar company, you will have the assurance that at the end of your life, you will hear those words, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.”
A. Lunden

The Name of Jesus - 1

The Significance of His Name
Meditating on the name of Jesus brings blessings to each believer, while drawing forth worship from our hearts. The name “Jesus” means “Jehovah the Saviour.” God named Him, telling Mary, through the angel Gabriel, what her child was to be named. Thus His name signified that Jehovah was in the midst of His people, in the person of the Lord Jesus, God’s Son (Luke 1:31-35). Though receiving this name as Man, God, as it were, tells us, “This is Jehovah the Saviour. Don’t ever look at My Son as a mere man, for He is God manifested in the flesh.” We see this truth in Luke 5:24 (JND): “That ye may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins, He said to the paralyzed man, I say to thee, Arise, and take up thy little couch and go to thine house.” We find Him there as the Jehovah “who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases” (Psa. 103:3).
Salvation Through His Name
The gospel was preached in the name of Jesus (Acts 4:12). What does it mean to preach in the name of Jesus? First, that the ones who preach are authorized to do so by the One in whose name they preach. It also shows the purpose of their preaching—to make Him, in whose name they preach, known.
To preach in the name of Jesus is not just to do something by His authority, but also to make Him known. When the Lord Jesus went to glory, after finishing the glorious work of redemption, the Spirit was sent down in the name of the Lord Jesus (John 14:26), and His purpose in coming is stated in John 16:14 (JND): “He shall glorify Me, for He shall receive of Mine and shall announce it to you.”
While this refers to His work in connection with saints, He also works in the world (John 16:9-11). His very presence and work here on earth demonstrate to the world its sin in their unbelief and rejection of the Lord Jesus. The Holy Spirit also gives them a demonstration of righteousness in the resurrection and exaltation, by God, of the One they rejected and crucified. Thus the Spirit of God brings everything into connection with the One the world knows as Jesus of Nazareth, making Him known to both saint and sinner—though not to both in the same way.
Preaching the Gospel in His Name
It is a blessed occupation to preach the gospel in the name of the Lord Jesus—to make Him known in the power of the Spirit and to seek to lead souls to accept Him as Saviour.
“Salvation is in none other, for neither is there another name under heaven which is given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12 JnD). “These [things] are written, that ye may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing ye might have life in His name” (John 20:31 JnD).
The day is coming when every knee must bow at the name of Jesus (Phil. 2:10; Rom. 14:11), but for those who have rejected Him as Saviour, that will in no way change their eternal destiny.
H. Brinkmann (from a pamphlet)

The Name of Jesus - 2

Prayer in His Name
While we preach to the lost in the name of Jesus, there are other things—vitally important—which we do as Christians in His blessed name.
We pray in His name. When the time was come that the Saviour would leave His own, He comforted them by pointing out (see John 14-16) the exhaustless resource and blessing found in the privilege of prayer in His name. How thankful we should be for being able to pray in the Spirit in His name.
One thing necessary for prayer in His name is the indwelling of the Spirit of God in the believer. The Spirit gives us the intimate relationship to God the Father that is ours in Christ.
Another thing we learn from 1 John 3:21-22 is that communion with the One in whose name we pray is necessary. Disobedience disrupts communion and then there is no liberty to pray. If our state of soul is bad and we ignore it, we can’t expect answers.
But when we pray in the Spirit and in the name of Jesus, we pray according to His mind, and we receive an answer. It is not always as we hope, but we will receive an answer to prayer in His way and time.
In John 14 it is the Lord Jesus who answers prayers in His name, that the Father might be glorified. In John 15 our prayers are in connection with fruit-bearing, while in John 16 we find the personal affection the Father has for us as we pray directly to Him.
But let us not forget that it is still in the name of Jesus that we pray. To mention the name of Jesus before the Father reminds Him of all the beauty He finds in His Son and of all He has done on our behalf, so that to make our petitions in that name secures us the answer.
H. Brinkmann (adapted)

The Name of Jesus - 3

“Where two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matt. 18:20).
There is a truth of great importance connected with the name of Jesus, which is much ignored, even by so-called fundamental Christians. It is the precious truth of gathering together in the name of the Lord Jesus alone.
Many realize the importance of the name of Jesus as the only name whereby the sinner must be saved. And they realize too that we ought to pray in that name. Yet they give little heed to the truth of gathering together in that precious name.
To gather in His name means to own His rights and to give Him His place in the assembly. It means to accept His way of gathering together as an assembly and to go by His directions and instructions. When Christians gather thus, they are “holding the head” (Col. 2:19) and have the promise of the Lord’s presence in the midst.
We do not gather around principles; we gather around the Person of the Lord Jesus. But we do desire to gather according to His Word in order that we may have His collective presence in the midst.
In these dark and confusing days, we must contend earnestly for the truth of gathering together as members of His body, depending on the leading of the Spirit for worship, prayer and ministry.
When there is failure, our gracious Lord does not disown an assembly, but labors with it in love, seeking to set those gathered there right. An assembly does not cease to be an assembly as soon as evil manifests itself, but it ceases to be an assembly if it refuses to judge the evil.
“Everything, whatever ye may do in word or in deed, do all things in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father by Him” (Col. 3:17 JND).
H. Brinkmann


“When I remember Thee upon my bed, I meditate on Thee in the night-watches: for Thou hast been my help, and in the shadow of Thy wings will I sing for joy” (Psa. 63:67 JND).
I couldn’t sleep last night, yet did not toss
And fret and worry till the morning came,
And count my wakefulness a dreadful loss
And seek some circumstance that I might blame!
Oh, no! I was quite glad to lose my sleep:
I had such wondrous company to keep!
I couldn’t sleep last night, because the King
Desired to come and hold long conversation,
And tell His love again, and sweetly sing
And bless my soul with loving jubilation;
And I am glad, so glad, I did not yawn
And ask my Lord to come again at dawn!
I couldn’t sleep last night, but through the years
I’ve slept each night that I might save my life;
And then each day I’ve wasted it with fears,
And useless laboring, and fruitless strife,
But now I’ve learned my life is in His keep,
And He’ll be faithful, though I lose my sleep!
I couldn’t sleep last night; so shall it be
In that dark night when others shall be dead
Forever to all hope of liberty;
I’ll be forever with Him, as He said;
And through eternal ages we will keep
Our joyous fellowship, and never sleep!
T. M. Seller
“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved” (Acts 16:31).

No Reason for Fear

“Entering into the sepulchre, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a long white garment; and they were affrighted. And he said unto them, be not affrighted: Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth which was crucified; He is risen; He is not here: Behold the place where they laid Him” (Mark 16:5-6).
Their terror vanishes: Such is the use the angels make of the resurrection of Christ. Fear is natural to man in a ruined world where sin reigns. Adam had no reason for fear till the fall. What just ground has a believer now for fear, since Christ who died for him is risen? He has ample grounds to judge self and its ways, but none to doubt the triumphant results of Christ’s work.
J. N. Darby

Not Ashamed

“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).
Not ashamed! Tell it out that earth and heaven may hear! This glorified Man is a brother of the elect of God. He is not ashamed because of their dignity—not merely because of His grace, but because of their personal dignity. He has appointed me a share of His own throne. Is He ashamed of His own doings?
Do not get creeping, cold thoughts as you read Scripture. Our thoughts of Christ should be such as to bear us on eagles’ wings. “In the midst of the church will I sing praise unto Thee” (Heb. 2:12). Christ raises and leads the song of the ransomed ones, and He is not ashamed to be found in their company. “And again, I will put My trust in Him” (Heb. 2:13). He did that when He was here, and we do it now.
J. G. Bellett (from Gems From My Reading)

Not Ashamed

“I am not ashamed” (2 Tim. 1:12).
Not only was Paul not ashamed, but he was not cast down, nor does one word of resentful anger escape his lips because of the unrighteousness of the world and the desertions, ingratitude and even opposition on the part of many Christians.
Paul is lifted above all depression, all resentment and all rancor, inasmuch as he is persuaded that Christ is able to keep that which he has committed unto Him against that day.
When Christ was reviled, He reviled not again, when He suffered, He threatened not, but committed Himself to Him that judges righteously. In the spirit of his Master, Paul, in the presence of suffering, desertion and insults, commits everything into the hands of Christ. His honor, his reputation, his character, his vindication and his happiness all are committed to Christ, knowing that, though the saints may desert and even oppose him, Christ will never fail him. He is persuaded that Christ is able to care for his interests, vindicate his honor and right every wrong in that day.
H. Smith (from Gems From My Reading)

The Ointment of Worship

“While the King sitteth at his table, my spikenard sendeth forth the smell thereof. A bundle of myrrh is my well-beloved unto me; he shall lie all night betwixt my breasts. My beloved is unto me as a cluster of camphire in the vineyards of Engedi. ”
The glowing thoughts of the bridegroom for the bride call forth her immediate response. While the King sits at his table, the worship of her heart ascends as a sweet odor.
The King at his table gives us a lovely picture of Christ in the midst of His own—not Christ with the girded loins, in lowly service, washing sin-soiled feet; not Christ as the Captain of the Lord’s host leading His own in the fight with the powers of evil; not Christ with the tears of divine compassion comforting a sorrowing heart, but Christ at rest, finding joy and delight in the midst of His own. It is not Bethany with its sorrow, but Bethany with its feasting—that happy moment when loving hearts made Him a supper.
It was not often in this sad world that anyone made a supper for Him. Once in the house of Levi a feast was made that Christ might bless poor sinners, and once in the home at Bethany that Christ might commune with saints. There at last they spread a feast for Him who spread a feast for all the world. There the King sat at His table, and there the spikenard of the bride sent forth its fragrance.
It was blessed to sit at His feet as a learner and hear His word, but Mary’s spikenard sent forth no fragrance there. It was blessed to fall at His feet in the day of sorrow and receive the comfort of His tears, but it drew no fragrant spikenard from Mary’s broken heart. But when the King sat at His table in the midst of His own—resting in His love in holy communion and intimacy with His own—then indeed the suited moment had come to bring forth the alabaster box and pour out the precious spikenard upon the King, and the house was filled with the odor of the ointment.
It is the presence of the King at His table that calls forth the worship of His own. Only a heart set free from its sorrows, its exercises, and busy service can worship in the presence of the King.
H. Smith (adapted)

On Reading Scripture

The Lord told the Pharisees that they ought to have known the meaning of the words of Scripture. They had the letter of Scripture, but they did not comprehend its meaning or application.
This is an important consideration for us. We strongly maintain the value of the very words of Scripture, being inspired, and therefore a divine and unimpeachable foundation for faith. Yet, it is possible to have an intellectual acquaintance with the letter and not understand the things which are freely given to us of God.
Christ, not self, must be our object. If any desires to do God’s will, he will know of the doctrine (John 7:17). But God’s will (not ours) must be the motive spring. Thus, when there is a true desire to learn, God gives the wisdom and understanding needed, and the Scripture becomes daily more precious.
Christian Truth, March 1948

On Success

My thoughts have been exercised recently about what it means to be a success, since success in the material and financial world [seems] so important in our day—even to [some of] those who are dear to [us]. As believers, we should have as our object the Lord Jesus Christ, as Paul did and as he expressed in Philippians 3:8, “That I may win Christ.” “Lay hold on eternal life” is another exhortation that [we need] to live by. May God give all His own grace to live in the light of eternity and not to have, as a goal, a life of comfort and ease [success] in this scene.
J. Kulp

On Vineyards

“They made me the keeper of the vineyards; but mine own vineyard have I not kept” (Song of Sol. 1:6).
Beloved parents, God has given you a vineyard—a place that is to provide fruit for Him and joy for you. That vineyard is your spouse and children. See that you care for them first. A thousand other needs may press on you—do care for them when you can. But never neglect your own vineyard to care for others.

An Oracle of God

“If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God” (1 Peter 4:11).
It is not merely speaking according to Scripture, an all-important and essential matter. A man may rise and address the brethren for an hour, and, from beginning to end, not utter so much as a single unscriptural sentence, yet, all the while, he may not have been God’s oracle for that time—he may not have been God’s mouthpiece or the present channel of His mind to the souls to whom he is speaking.
This demands the grave consideration of all who feel exercised to minister in the midst of God’s beloved people. It is one thing to utter a certain amount of true sentiment, and quite another to be the living channel of communication between the heart of God and the souls of God’s people.
It is this alone that constitutes true ministry. A man who speaks as an oracle of God will bring the conscience of the hearer so into the very light of the divine Presence that every chamber of the heart is laid open and every moral spring touched.
“Moreover He said unto me  .  .  .  all My words that I shall speak unto thee receive in thine heart, and hear with thine ears. And go  .  .  .  unto the children of thy people, and speak unto them” (Ezek. 3:10-11).
C. H. Mackintosh (Gems From My Reading)

Our Affections

“The Father Himself has affection for you” (John 16:27 JND).
Every believer must hold fast the precious truth that the family of God is one and that the hearts of the children of God must never move in a narrower circle than the heart of the Father Himself—while joyfully remembering that all who are dear to the Father must also be dear to us.
We must at the same time not forget that the Father Himself must have the first place in our affections—that true love for His children can only flow out when we are in obedience to His Word.
J. N. Darby

Our Pattern in Everything

“Master, speak to my brother, that he divide the inheritance with me” (Luke 12:13).
Self is the spring of everything, and not God, so if there is righteousness in the things of men, righteousness in the things of God is altogether left out, and God must call that horrid unrighteousness which is called honor in the world.
We should be thankful for government, but when the young man in the Gospel came to Jesus and said, “Speak to my brother, that he divide the inheritance with me,” He replied, “Who made Me a judge or a divider?” He leaves the question of right according to man (for it was right that he should have that which belonged to him) and shows what is under the surface: “Beware of covetousness.”
The Lord is our pattern in everything, and when the Lord is the pattern, it detects the motives of the heart. The one desired to have it; the other desired not to give it up. Take care that the motive and spring of conduct is God and not self. There He strikes at the principles of covetousness; there must be that state of heart in which God is the spring of the will. (See 1 John 2:29.)
J. N. Darby (from Gems From My Reading)

Our Substitute

“Who His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed” (1 Peter 2:24).
In connection with Christ as our Substitute, what a thought is His divine glory! What! the Man before whom every knee shall bow—the Man before whom all shall stand in the day of judgment—that Man is my Substitute!
There is no place in the dust low enough, no word adequate to express what I feel, that such a Man should have taken my place and borne my judgment! He, as my Substitute, is my wellspring of life, and I am an adopted son in Him.
I am also His servant, and I may share His sufferings as the Servant. Ours may seem a very insignificant path of service, but He may have the thought of its being just the path in which we may share His sufferings.
G. V. Wigram

Our Word and Our Hearts

“Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh” (Matt. 12:34).
When we find men occupied with any one thing more than another, we may be certain that that thing is the object of the heart. We are always characterized by what we seek, hence the importance of our words. If we are honest, our words are the expression of our minds. (I do not speak of dishonest people.) But when people are sincere—and we trust they seek with all their hearts thus to be—the words of the mouth disclose the state of the heart.
When we speak of ourselves [or of our interests in the world], it is evident what is before us. When we are filled with the Lord Jesus, the mouth bears testimony. It is the appreciation of Christ in His nearness to God, rather than in His immediate bearing upon us, that marks the difference between spirituality and the want of it.
W. Kelly

Overcoming and Pressing on

“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).
Peter was encouraged and inspired as he observed the Lord walking on water, but he was dismayed when he noticed the boisterous wind (Matt. 14:28-30). It seems remarkable that he became distracted as he came close to his Lord, that is, until we consider how distracted we become by the wind and waves in our lives as our Lord’s coming approaches.
As we near our heavenly goal, Satan increases his attacks. Such “storms” in our personal, professional and assembly lives threaten to discourage us constantly. These attacks affect our enjoyment and liberty and may cause absence or departure from the very place where the Lord is found.
Elkanah and Hannah experienced similar attacks as they drew near to the Lord (1 Sam. 12). When they made their annual trip to worship the Lord, they confronted incredible evil. Outward immorality at the gates and willful disregard for the sanctity of the offerings by the priests characterized the general testimony. The effect was that “men abhorred the offering of the Lord” (1 Sam. 2:17).
Though these conditions may have kept many away, Elkanah and Hannah came—even though, for Hannah, there were other disappointments in her life. The Lord had shut up her womb and her adversary provoked her about it (1 Sam. 1:5-6). Despite all these things, she came with her husband to the place where the Lord could be found.
In our homes, workplaces and assemblies, we may not see evil as obvious as that practiced by Hophni and Phinehas, but there will be something to discourage. Satan will see to that. He will ever suggest that “things are really bad—you should stay away.” He diverts our gaze in the wrong direction—around (like Peter) rather than up.
Elkanah and Hannah were blessed in the end, for Hannah received a son, Samuel, dedicated him to the Lord and was rewarded with more sons and daughters.
It was not an easy time for Samuel either. The wicked Hophni and Phinehas were still priests during his younger years. Yet he did not leave the place where the Lord was, and there the Lord revealed Himself to Samuel and began to use him (1 Sam. 3:20).
In later years Samuel’s sons did not follow his path of faith (1 Sam. 8:3). He experienced rejection from the people he served (ch. 8:6-7), and he was compelled to appoint a king who wanted only to use Samuel as a connection with Jehovah. Yet He served the Lord without giving up.
Rich blessings are promised for those who overcome. Even in the condition described in Laodicea, where all had fallen into a lukewarm condition, we have this promise: “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with Me in My throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with My Father in His throne” (Rev. 3:21).
In these days—as in the days of Hannah, Samuel and Peter—there is much to discourage. Let us acknowledge that we, too, become distracted by our environment, rather than having our eyes fixed on the One who alone can encourage, inspire and keep us. Let us ever remember that “He that is in you” is greater than “he that is in the world” (1 John 4:4).
Let us not, because of dark, stormy conditions, failure or weakness, give up, thereby “forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching” (Heb. 10:25). Peter encourages and exhorts us to “humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time: casting all your care upon Him; for He careth for you” (1 Peter 5:6-7).
D. Lamb (adapted)

Past, Present and Future

I’ve been thinking some lately of how we sometimes say, “A day’s march nearer home.” “Now is our salvation nearer than when we believed” (Rom. 13:11). That is the future salvation of our bodies—our translation to heaven at the rapture.
The past, present, and future are all brought out in the verse: “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and forever” (Heb. 13:8). It’s very personal when we consider who it is of whom it speaks.
The past is “the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me” (Gal. 2:20). The present is “Jesus Himself drew near, and went with them” (Luke 24:15). And the future is “the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout” (1 Thess. 4:16).
In a more general way we have:
The Past: “Thou shalt remember all the way which the Lord thy God led thee” (Deut. 8:2). “Hitherto hath the Lord helped us” (1 Sam. 7:12). “The Lord thy God hath been with thee” (Deut. 2:7).
The Present: “The Lord thy God is with thee” (Josh. 1:9). “I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world” (Matt. 28:20).
The Future: “Boast not thyself of tomorrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth” (Prov. 27:1). “The Lord God  .  .  .  will be with thee” (1 Chron. 28:20). “He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it unto the day of Jesus Christ” (Phil. 1:6).
Salvation in the Scriptures can be considered in three ways. (1) We have been saved from the penalty of sin (when we first accepted Christ as our own personal Saviour; Acts 16:31; Rom. 1:16). (2) We are being saved from the power of sin (daily kept from evil and harm; Heb. 7:25; Rom. 5:10). (3) We will yet be saved from the presence of sin (taken to heaven; Rom. 13:11).
Salvation can also be considered as a deliverance. “God which raiseth the dead: who delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver: in whom we trust that He will yet deliver us” (2 Cor. 1:9-10).
These three deliverances can be connected with the three appearings of Hebrews 9. The first chronologically is in verse 26: “Now once in the end of the world hath He appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself . ” The second is in verse 24: “Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us. ” Finally, in verse 28 we have the third appearing: “Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for Him shall He appear the second time without sin unto salvation. ”
So, taken together, we see that Christ is an all-the-way-home Saviour! Praise be to His name!
“Being confident of this very thing, that He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Phil. 1:6).
K. Fournier (from a letter)

Pastors and Teachers

“He has given some apostles, and some prophets, and some evangelists, and some shepherds [pastors] and teachers” (Eph. 4:11 JnD).
We learn from Ephesians 4:11 That the pastor and the teacher are closely connected—one is not without the other. It is vitally important that this connection be understood and maintained. The apostles have passed off the scene and the dark, confusing day in which we live requires faithful, diligent pastoring and teaching.
A teacher unfolds truth while the pastor applies the truth unfolded. Teaching provides Scriptural understanding; pastoring requires understanding of the state of soul. A teacher is occupied with the Word—a pastor with the soul. The teacher’s work is often public—the pastor’s private.
Notice that in the verse quoted, the moral order places pastoring before teaching. If teaching is done without knowing the moral and spiritual state of those being taught, it will tend to be discouraging to the taught, resulting in fruitlessness. “Be thou diligent to know the state of thy flocks” (Prov. 27:23).
On the other hand, if one pastoring has not a clear understanding of the doctrine and principles of the Word of God, those he seeks to shepherd and guide will end in spiritual confusion and disaster.
Another has said, “Teaching imparts immense moral power to the pastor, while pastoring imparts affectionate tenderness to the teacher.”
Christian Truth (adapted)

Personal Forgiveness

Personal forgiveness refers to offenses against us by believers (or others), which we forgive. Administrative forgiveness has to do with that which is done before God when we cancel the debt owed by another. The assembly also does that when judging the matter of an offending believer—seeing repentance and then effecting restoration (Matt. 18:18).
If the offender asks our forgiveness, it is a happy thing. But if not, it is of no profit to dwell on the matter. (“Vengeance is Mine; I will repay, saith the Lord”; Rom. 12:17-21.) One can minimize contact with an unrepentant offender if it is defiling or unprofitable. Regarding “forgiveness” (which may be difficult), we need to look in our heart and know the power and ugliness of sin. We can then leave all evil done against us with the Lord.
The Lord’s Instructions
The Lord Jesus tells the Jews that they were to forgive their enemies and not hold to “an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth” attitude of revenge (Matt. 5:43-44). He instructed them rather to be willing to forgive (understand and overlook) their enemies’ behavior—not kill them. So, too, a disciple of Christ is to emulate the Lord Jesus in not retaliating. We ought never to pursue vengeance.
The dictionary says forgiveness is, literally, “extreme or uttermost giving, ceasing to feel resentment, and granting pardon or canceling debt.” This can be done by saying, “I am not the avenger in this matter. ” A child of God can certainly leave all such affairs with his or her Father (see Rom. 12:17-21) and, instead, minister good for a witness.
God’s Forgiveness
God forgives individual sinners who repent. Our Lord on the cross showed the spirit of forgiveness in beautiful perfection when He said, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” Now each individual sinner may seek God’s full and free forgiveness for his sins.
Christian Humility
The Christian should realize that the evil towards them was generated from the sinful nature of man—by the flesh of another. It is also good to realize that “but for the grace of God, there go I.” A Christian is one who has a new nature—the very life of Christ—though the flesh is ever ready to act.
God forgives and restores a believer who sins when he humbles himself and confesses (1 John 1:9). We, by the power of the life of Christ in us, have the ability to act in that spirit of forgiveness towards one who has offended us. And certainly we ought always to pray for the offender (Luke 6:28).
Limits of Personal Forgiveness
It is important, however, to understand that a believer cannot forgive one for offenses done to another. That forgiveness can only be carried out by the offended party. Our responsibility to forgive concerns offenses done to ourselves.
Some Aspects of Personal Forgiveness
“Be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you” (Eph. 4:32). There are some helpful aspects to remember about personal forgiveness.
1. We ought to show forgiveness in restoring a relationship with one who repents and begs recovery (Luke 17:34).
2. We can show forgiveness in simply overlooking a matter (if it is inconsequential—the result of the flesh, which we all have, acting; see Col. 3:13). It then remains only a matter between the offender and God.
3. We can show forgiveness in absolving an offender by canceling the debt which the offender may not be able to pay (Matt. 18:26-27). Showing grace in this manner is often a practical matter, but God will make up the difference or loss.
R. L. DeWitt

The Potter's Will

“Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus?” (Rom. 9:20).
When sorrows deep and burdens mount,
And tears well up as from a fount,
My child’s heart is wont to say,
”Wherein hast Thou Thy love displayed?”
Thy rod I feel; the pressure builds;
My Potter’s hand its strength does wield,
And I, an unformed lump of clay,
Ask, “Why hast Thou formed me this way?”
My Father’s heart, how must it ache,
When I His love and grace mistake
For vengeance or a pleasure vain,
When He does keenly feel my pain?
How dare I reason—feeble mind!
Or doubt the plan, wise and divine,
Which, using pressure, fire or flood,
Would form a vessel honoring God?
R. Short (2002)
“O taste and see that the Lord is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in Him” (Psalm 34:8).
“Repentance Toward God”; “Faith Toward Our Lord Jesus Christ”

Practical Reflections on Acts - 13:40-52

40-41. “Beware therefore, lest that come upon you, which is spoken of in the prophets; Behold, ye despisers, and wonder, and perish: for I work a work in your days, a work which ye shall in no wise believe, though a man declare it unto you.”
The Jews had received full and complete testimony through the prophets, from the Lord Jesus Himself, and now from His disciples of His person and work and of their guilt in rejecting the Messiah. Paul, having declared to them the truth, solemnly warns of the serious consequences of their rejections.
May we allow this same spirit of godly fear and reverence in reading the Old Testament Scriptures. They are part of the Word of God and, as such, contain vital principles which, if we are to be happy, must be put to practical use in our lives.
42. “And when the Jews were gone out of the synagogue, the Gentiles besought that these words might be preached to them the next sabbath.”
If God’s people (the Jews) would not listen, there are still those who will (the Gentiles). Here we find a most vital principle: God will never disappoint earnest seekers of the truth. Oh! that we may earnestly seek and buy the precious truth of God, that we might daily walk in its divine light.
43-44. “Now when the congregation was broken up, many of the Jews and religious proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas: who, speaking to them, persuaded them to continue in the grace of God. And the next sabbath day came almost the whole city together to hear the word of God.”
This is one of the manifest differences between keeping the law and continuing in the grace of God. The whole city desired to hear the Word of God.
The grace of God is a wonderful and deep subject. May we learn, in our measure, what His matchless grace has made us (sons of God) and where it has placed us (in boldness with confident access into the presence of God), that we might walk in the enjoyment of His divine love and favor.
45. “But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy, and spake against those things which were spoken by Paul, contradicting and blaspheming.”
When Jesus saw the multitude, “He was moved with compassion” (Matt. 9:36); when the Jews saw the multitude, they were filled with envy.
When Jesus saw the lame, blind, dumb, maimed multitude, He healed them (Matt. 15:30); the Jews withstood the very truth that would have healed.
When Jesus saw the hungry multitude, He “blessed, and brake the loaves, and gave them to His disciples to set before them” (Mark 6:41); the Jews blasphemed the truth which satisfies the heart.
This same spirit may overtake believers.
Do we envy a servant being used in blessing, criticizing his service rather than rejoicing?
Do we begrudge caring for the Lord’s servants, resulting in hindering the truth that brings healing and comfort?
Do we allow spiritual jealousy of the way in which others are being used, resulting in spiritual starvation for the masses of hungry souls around us?
May God give each to prayerfully and unsparingly consider our spirits in view of these things.
46. “Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles.”
Opposition did not discourage the Lord’s servants. If He has given us a work to do, what does it matter if others don’t encourage or understand our service? It is enough that He has bidden us serve Him.
47. “For so hath the Lord commanded us, saying, I have set thee to be a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldest be for salvation unto the ends of the earth.”
Here we have the lovely, simple principle upon which each carries out his service for the Lord Jesus: “For so hath the Lord commanded us.” Further, it was not just their personal desire; rather, they had the Lord’s command for their service.
48. “And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed.”
What a contrast! Gladness and glorifying the Word of God, rather than contradicting and blaspheming the truth! Let us judge our hearts unsparingly before Him!
49. “And the word of the Lord was published throughout all the region.”
Blessing and liberty freely and abundantly flow where there is submission to the Word of God.
50. “But the Jews stirred up the devout and honorable women, and the chief men of the city, and raised persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them out of their coasts.”
When faced with God’s truth, which makes nothing of man, finding him lost, guilty and helpless (Eph. 2:1,5; Col. 1:21), cultural sophistication and political correctness quickly throw off their veneer of respectability, violently opposing the truth.
The elite of society—religious, benevolent, responsible people—are incited by the enemies of Christ to banish those who preached the “words of this life.”
51-52. “But they shook off the dust of their feet against them, and came unto Iconium. And the disciples were filled with joy, and with the Holy Ghost.”
What a solemn condemnation of these who spurned and opposed the truth of God. The richest, highest levels of society were marked as condemned rejectors of the gospel by dust—the most insignificant thing in God’s creation.
However, man’s hatred and opposition of the gospel of the grace of God cannot touch either the joy of the disciples or the wonderful reality of the indwelling of the Spirit of God. May it be so with us that we be found praying, preaching and persevering, in spite of all the opposition which the enemy would use to discourage and turn us aside.

Practical Reflections on Acts - 14:1-14

1. “And it came to pass in Iconium, that they went both together into the synagogue of the Jews, and so spake, that a great multitude both of the Jews and also of the Greeks believed.”
The way in which the apostles spoke was used by the Spirit of God in great blessing. While it is always the Spirit of God that brings fruit (God “giveth the increase” ), let us in our spirit and words follow the pattern Paul gives in Colossians 4:6: “Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt.”
2. “But the unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles, and made their minds evil affected against the brethren.”
Man’s sad history has ever been a contest between mind and heart. Christ has, by the Spirit, worked in and won our hearts. The enemy, as he did with Eve, seeks to affect our mind by reasoning. Faith does not reason; it loves, trusts and obeys.
3. “Long time therefore abode they speaking boldly in the Lord, which gave testimony unto the word of His grace, and granted signs and wonders to be done by their hands.”
The Spirit opens the way for the gospel in spite of the severe opposition. The words of grace and truth preached by the apostles were given witness and support by the works of signs and wonders. Though this is not a day of miracles, our words as believers should always be supported by our actions.
4. “But the multitude of the city was divided: and part held with the Jews, and part with the apostles.”
What a sad but accurate picture of the condition of man today regarding God and His truth. There is no neutral ground—no gray area—regarding Christ. Every soul is either for Him, owning Him as Lord (Mark 9:40), or acting in enmity against Him (Col. 1:21).
5. “And when there was an assault made both of the Gentiles, and also of the Jews with their rulers, to use them despitefully, and to stone them.”
What is in man’s heart eventually comes out in his actions (Matt. 7:20). Those who, under normal circumstances, would have nothing to do with each other join together in seeking to stamp out the words of life they had heard. Sometimes we are fooled into thinking that the world accepts us, but in whatever measure believers live for Christ, so they will feel His rejection and persecution (2 Tim. 3:12).
6. “They were ware of it, and fled unto Lystra and Derbe, cities of Lycaonia, and unto the region that lieth round about.”
The gospel was the “word of His grace” (vs. 3). Fighting against violence was not in keeping with the message they preached, and the apostles fled. Christians must ever guard against a spirit of fighting to set things right—whether against persecution or in the world. “Vengeance is Mine; I will repay saith the Lord” (Rom. 12:19). “If My kingdom were of this world, then would My servants fight” (John 18:36).
7. “And there they preached the gospel.”
Today, like those here, servants guided by the Spirit can find full liberty to preach the gospel.
8. “And there sat a certain man at Lystra, impotent in his feet, being a cripple from his mother’s womb, who never had walked.”
What a picture of the condition of man—unable from birth to walk for the glory of God! May we diligently seek out those who, sensing their need, desire to receive blessing through the gospel.
9. “The same heard Paul speak: who steadfastly beholding him, and perceiving that he had faith to be healed.”
Those who “do the work of an evangelist” need to act as Paul did: (1) Have lost souls steadfastly on their heart and, (2) discern, by the Spirit, their true condition. Paul did both—he beheld the cripple’s condition and perceived the reality of his faith.
10. “Said with a loud voice, Stand upright on thy feet. And he leaped and walked.”
Where reality of heart before God exists, blessing follows. It will be clearly a work of God. Physical rehabilitation, gradually learning to walk, did not heal the cripple. He immediately leaped and walked—giving clear evidence of a divine answer to faith.
11. “And when the people saw what Paul had done, they lifted up their voices, saying in the speech of Lycaonia, The gods are come down to us in the likeness of men.”
They heard the gospel, but the Lycaonians had no faith and didn’t see, as the cripple did, “Jesus only.” They only saw “men as trees walking,” their darkened, idolatrous hearts making men objects of worship.
12. “And they called Barnabas, Jupiter; and Paul, Mercurius, because he was the chief speaker.”
In Antioch believers were scornfully called Christians (Acts 11:26). Here they are respectfully named after heathen gods. Bearing testimony to the true God and His Son, Jesus Christ, always brings opposition, whether by insult or flattery. But this is far more dangerous, for it exalts the Christian rather than the Christ—puts man in the place of God.
13. “Then the priest of Jupiter, which was before their city, brought oxen and garlands unto the gates, and would have done sacrifice with the people.”
Man’s religious leaders and his religion lead them to worship and serve “the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.” His false religion always leads man away from God, glorifying himself.
14. “Which when the apostles, Barnabas and Paul, heard of, they rent their clothes, and ran in among the people, crying out.”
When the apostles were beaten and cast in prison, they sang hymns at midnight (Acts 16:23-25). But here they cry out, expressing their sorrow and grief that they were being made objects of worship, rather than the Lord Jesus Christ. There is a time for Christians to bear with suffering and a time to cry out against wickedness. God alone gives the wisdom to know when to sing out and when to cry out.

Practical Reflections on Acts - 14:15-28

15. “And saying, Sirs, why do ye these things? We also are men of like passions with you, and preach unto you that ye should turn from these vanities unto the living God, which made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein.”
The people of Lystra, seeing a power they had never before witnessed in their “dumb idols” (1 Cor. 12:2), foolishly prepare to offer sacrifices to mere men. The apostles, rightly in great distress because of this, describe the true character of such wickedness (1 Cor. 10:20) as vanity (useless, devoid of truth).
How much religious energy and zeal is expended today under the banner of Christianity which must, sadly, be characterized in the same way—vanity.
Our Christian service should be energetic, full of zeal (“do it heartily, as to the Lord”; Col. 3:23), but ever guided by “whatsoever He saith unto you, do it.”
16-17. “Who in times past suffered all nations to walk in their own ways. Nevertheless He left not Himself without witness, in that He did good, and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness.”
Every natural blessing they enjoyed gave witness to and came from—not their false, worthless idols—but the true God made known in the gospel Paul and Barnabas preached. But, being unthankful, they “became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened” (Rom. 1:21).
May we heed the warning in Proverbs 4:23 lest we fall into the spirit of idolatry (anything that takes the place of Christ in our heart): “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.”
18. “And with these sayings scarce restrained they the people, that they had not done sacrifice unto them.”
Their hearts were so steeped in the dark wickedness of idolatry, that even the Lord’s apostles could barely keep them from doing sacrifice. How hopeless the condition of man’s heart apart from God!
19. “And there came thither certain Jews from Antioch and Iconium, who persuaded the people, and, having stoned Paul, drew him out of the city, supposing he had been dead.”
If the enemy cannot destroy the message of the grace of God through the corruption of idolatry, he will stir up violence through hatred of the truth.
The light of God’s truth (Paul and Barnabas’s message) could scarce restrain the heathens from offering sacrifice to the apostles. The darkness of the Jew’s hatred of Christ quickly moved them to kill God’s messenger. What an indictment of our hearts!
20. “Howbeit, as the disciples stood round about him, he rose up, and came into the city: and the next day he departed with Barnabas to Derbe.”
But those (the disciples) who had been “called  .  .  . out of darkness into His marvellous light” (1 Peter 2:9) surrounded the Apostle and received him back. May we be found, as it were, surrounding and supporting the apostles’ doctrine in a world that seeks to destroy the precious truth of God it teaches.
21. “And when they had preached the gospel to that city, and had taught many, they returned again to Lystra, and to Iconium, and Antioch.”
What a display of the grace of God! The apostles return first to the very place where they had met so much spiritual and physical opposition—Lystra! Here is a wonderful example of a principle of God’s Word: “The Lord is on my side; I will not fear: what can man do unto me?” (Psa. 118:6).
22. “Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.”
Paul and Barnabas’s return to Lystra was by no means a fleshly challenge to those who had earlier misused them. Their purpose was the edification (building up), exhortation (stirring up) and comfort (binding up) of the believers (1 Cor. 14:3).
23. “And when they had ordained them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed.”
Apostolic power could (and did) appoint overseers in each assembly to look after the spiritual welfare of the local gatherings. But the apostles also taught that the Lord (not men as gods) was the only source of all power and care, and the believers were (and are) to depend on Him alone.
24-25. “And after they had passed throughout Pisidia, they came to Pamphylia. And when they had preached the word in Perga, they went down into Attalia.”
The opposition of Satan, the ill-treatment of the heathen, the hatred of the Jews—none of it turned aside Paul and Barnabas from completing the service to which they had been called by the Spirit of God.
God fully and perfectly supplies all that is needed for the service to which He calls each of His own.
26. “And thence sailed to Antioch, from whence they had been recommended to the grace of God for the work which they fulfilled.”
The JND translation reads “committed” in the place of “recommended.” It is important to remember two things about the Lord’s servants: (1) They are the Lord’s servants and receive their directions from Himself, not from man. (2) Their service for the Lord ought to be carried out in the conscious sense of having been happily committed, by the brethren, to the grace of God in their service.
In this aspect, the assembly—the conscience of brethren—plays an important part in a servant’s labor. May we be found in deep, earnest prayer (and fasting) for each servant of the Lord.
27-28. “And when they were come, and had gathered the church together, they rehearsed all that God had done with them, and how He had opened the door of faith unto the Gentiles. And there they abode long time with the disciples.”
Servants are nothing more than channels of God’s blessing—what is important is what God does.
Paul and Barnabas not only served by preaching the gospel to others, but they served the local assembly where they willingly abode a long time.

Practical Reflections on Acts - 15:1-11

1. “And certain men which came down from Judea taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved. ”
A severe test—from their “brethren”—confronts the young Gentile assembly in Antioch. It is often easier to deal with open opposition from the world than the subtle dangers involved in bad teaching disseminated by professed or real Christians.
This particular teaching was appalling, for it added to the infinitely precious, finished work of our Lord Jesus Christ at Calvary’s cross.
The Spirit and the flesh, law and grace, old wine (Judaism) and new wine (Christianity)—none of these can be successfully united. Although believers today may not literally confront men from Jerusalem, the doctrine that we must do something to earn God’s grace is, sadly, very prevalent in Christianity. Such false doctrine is terribly dishonoring to the Lord Jesus.
2. “When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question. ”
This verse would better read, “A commotion therefore having taken place, and no small discussion on the part of Paul and Barnabas against them” (vs. 2 JnD). Paul and Barnabas did not cause dissension by arguing or debating about the precious doctrines of Christianity they had received, but they vigorously defended the truth, and we should do the same.
The early believers endeavored to “keep the unity of the Spirit” by sending Paul, Barnabas and other brethren to Jerusalem to settle this serious question.
Let us always settle every question concerning the precious truth of God by referring to the “apostles’ doctrine”—never by the efforts of man’s intellect.
3. “And being brought on their way by the church, they passed through Phenice and Samaria, declaring the conversion of the Gentiles: and they caused great joy unto all the brethren. ”
This is a vitally important principle to follow in these present days of confusion! Though beset with a most serious controversy, Paul and Barnabas didn’t spread the difficulty to other brethren. Rather, they “caused great joy” and enjoyed sweet fellowship.
Spreading sad and serious local difficulties to other believers is a poor way to build “up yourselves on your most holy faith. ”
4. “And when they were come to Jerusalem, they were received of the church, and of the apostles and elders, and they declared all things that God had done with them. ”
Here are two more helpful principles! (1) The assembly, not a select group of men, is mentioned first as receiving the brethren from Antioch. (2) It is to the assembly (along with the apostles and elders) that they declare, not the problem introduced by Judaizing teachers, but how God used them.
The assembly (not individuals) extends fellowship and receives an accounting from the Lord’s servants.
5-6. “But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses. And the apostles and elders came together for to consider of this matter . ”
We find a fourth vital assembly principle. When dissension arises within the assembly, responsible brothers (apostles and elders)—not the collective assembly—gather to consider the details of the problem.
Today when there are no longer living apostles, it is responsible brethren (elders—overseers) using the Word of God (the apostles’ doctrine)—not the whole assembly—who come together to consider problems which may confront the local assembly.
7. “And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up, and said unto them, Men and brethren, ye know how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe. ”
The word disputing is better rendered discussion (vs. 7 JND). There is never an excuse for fleshly disputing or arguing within the assembly or within the brothers’ care meeting. “Let all things be done comelily and with order” (1 Cor. 14:40 JND). “Follow after the things which make for peace” (Rom. 14:19).
8-9. “And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as He did unto us; and put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith. ”
In halting the wrong teaching of the overly-zealous Jewish believers, Peter (who himself could be swayed by strong Jewish prejudice; see Gal. 2:11) shows that there is no difference in the way God was now working with Jews and Gentiles in grace. The foundation of God’s blessing among both races of people was faith, not works.
10. “Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?”
The law had not brought the Jewish nation into blessing, and it could never do so for the Gentiles. May we never forget the absolute futility of our efforts and the all-sufficiency of His sovereign grace.
Further, seeking to obtain blessing through human efforts is not only fruitless, but it is still trying (tempting) to do what God has already judged as worthless. If the most divinely favored earthly race of people (the Jews) were unable to obtain blessing through works, why do Christians think they can gain God’s blessings through those means? Religious labor, so valued by the flesh, is, in fact, nothing more than an intolerable yoke which none could ever bear to God’s glory.
11. “But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they. ”
The Jewish nation had failed in their responsibility of keeping the law. Grace alone suited such a condition. The Gentile had never been in such a privileged and responsible place as the Jew; grace alone could suit his condition. Only the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ can save those who are responsible for sinning against God.

Practical Reflections on Acts - 15:12-27

12. “Then all the multitude kept silence, and gave audience to Barnabas and Paul, declaring what miracles and wonders God had wrought among the Gentiles by them.”
Peter had just reminded the Jewish believers of Israel’s failure in keeping the law (vss. 7-11). Now Barnabas and Paul, rather than continuing to remind them of their failures, turn their thoughts to the blessings and efficacy of God’s sovereign grace.
13. “And after they had held their peace, James answered, saying, Men and brethren, hearken unto me.”
Beautiful spirit on the part of James! He was perhaps the most influential brother in the assembly at Jerusalem. Yet he does not interrupt the others, demanding to be heard first. Instead, humbly waiting until the others had finished, he then gives his mind.
14-15. “Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for His name. And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written.”
All that was spoken must be judged by the Word of God. It didn’t matter what one even so prominent as the Apostle Peter might say concerning God’s blessing reaching out to the Gentiles. It was James, perhaps the most ardent Jewish apostle, who submits to Scripture, laying aside personal feelings.
16-17. “After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up: that the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom My name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things.”
Man’s sin and failure can never hinder God’s sovereign counsels of blessing. But it is the Lord who brings blessing to all mankind through sovereign grace—not Jews through keeping the law. Scripture, applied by the Spirit from Amos 9:11-12, sets at rest the hearts of the Jewish disciples.
18. “Known unto God are all His works from the beginning of the world.”
It is lovely to see how James takes the Jewish believers beyond their understanding and rests in the infinite wisdom of God. How important that we, as believers, ever rest in God’s wisdom rather than our understanding in every circumstance of our life.
19-20. “Wherefore my sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God: but that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood.”
Each believer must live up to the light of truth he has received, while not demanding that others do so (troubling one for whom Christ died).
There are, however, things that are fundamental to the doctrine of Christianity. These must always be insisted upon—such are the four things James notes.
21. “For Moses of old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every sabbath day.”
While James did not impose Jewish exercises on the Gentile conscience, neither did he deny the honest exercise of Jewish believers. Their consciences would have been troubled by completely doing away with the synagogues and the sabbath.
22. “Then pleased it the apostles and elders, with the whole church, to send chosen men of their own company to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas; namely, Judas surnamed Barsabas, and Silas, chief men among the brethren.”
The apostles and elders were given (by the ascended Lord Jesus) a place of special care over His assembly. But the church (assembly) was in happy fellowship with their guidance and decisions.
Today the assembly does not have apostles or officially appointed overseers. But it is important that believers happily submit to the apostles’ doctrine (found specially in the epistles) for Christian doctrine and practice and seek to obey those who morally are shepherds and guides (Heb. 13:17).
We also see a beautiful expression of unity expressed by the assembly in Jerusalem with the Gentile assembly in Antioch. Brethren from Jerusalem are sent back to Antioch with Paul and Silas in order to express this oneness in the Lord and to bear witness to the communications which they carried.
23. “And they wrote letters by them after this manner; The apostles and elders and brethren send greeting unto the brethren which are of the Gentiles in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia.”
Marvelous grace of God—the letters are addressed to the brethren! The Jewish assembly in Jerusalem thus expresses complete unity with the Gentile assembly in Antioch, as well as Gentile believers nearby. The salutation is a proof that those in Jerusalem now fully accepted that the grace of God had reached beyond the nation of Israel.
How sweet to find those believers with whom we can express fellowship and unity simply as members of the body of Christ.
24. “Forasmuch as we have heard, that certain which went out from us have troubled you with words, subverting your souls, saying, Ye must be circumcised, and keep the law: to whom we gave no such commandment.”
The apostles, elders and assembly’s gracious communication to the saints in Antioch provides vitally important principles for guiding communications between assemblies today.
(1) Paul and Barnabas’ testimony was accepted as adequate witness (“we have heard”).
(2) They displayed full fellowship as members one of another (“went out from us”).
(3) They expressed genuine concern for the brethren in Antioch (“subverting your souls”).
(4) They gave clear, immediate apostolic judgment (“to whom we gave no such commandment”) in order that the believers in Antioch might continue steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine.
25. “It seemed good unto us, being assembled with one accord, to send chosen men unto you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul.”
Here are some more necessary principles for interaction between assemblies!
(1) The assembly displays unity. They have endeavored to keep the unity of the Spirit.
(2) Though the apostles and their direct representatives (see Titus) had authority to make official appointments, the whole assembly as gathered together (guided by the apostles’ doctrine) chose men according to moral power (chief men among the brethren).
(3) The assembly at Jerusalem expresses to Antioch the perfect oneness of the body of Christ (“our beloved Barnabas and Paul”; see 1 Cor. 12:12,20).
26. “Men that have hazarded their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
How much we need to follow the example of the apostles in this verse! They willingly and rightly recognized and appreciated the ministry of others.
However, they valued what they had done for the Lord, not how it had been done. That would have made Paul and Barnabas the focus of attention rather than the Lord Jesus.
27. “We have sent therefore Judas and Silas, who shall also tell you the same things by mouth.”
The letter served as one witness and the words of Judas and Silas (Jewish brethren) served as a second. In perilous times we must ever act on this principle.
“In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established” (2 Cor. 13:1).

Practical Reflections on Acts - 15:28-41

28. “For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things.”
The apostles, elders and assembly at Jerusalem fully submitted to the Spirit of truth, and they did so in oneness of heart. This single-minded submission and oneness with the mind of God is the key to Christian happiness today—individually and collectively.
29. “That ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication: from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well. Fare ye well.”
These four things are moral principles that go beyond Judaism. To observe them would in no way put the Gentile assembly under Jewish law, and, in fact, they ought always—in reality and in moral application—to be seen in each believer’s life: Purity in relation to God, in relation to life and in relation to God’s institutions, especially marriage.
30. “So when they were dismissed, they came to Antioch: and when they had gathered the multitude together, they delivered the epistle.”
It is beautiful to see the submission of spirit in Paul and Barnabas who had earnestly and rightfully contended for the faith against bad doctrine. Yet they take the humble place and wait at Jerusalem until they “were dismissed” (“let go”; JND). They did not lord it over those they had contended with and whom they had proven wrong. Oh! that God would grant us to have such a humble, quiet spirit today! How much sorrow and bitter feelings could be avoided among brethren by a quiet, humble spirit.
31. “Which when they had read, they rejoiced for the consolation.”
The lovely spirit of submission to the mind of God through the Apostles and the oneness of mind of all the saints in Jerusalem have their happy effect on the Gentile believers in Antioch. There is no debating or questioning the apostolic decision—rather joy and comfort in the judgment.
32. “And Judas and Silas, being prophets also themselves, exhorted the brethren with many words, and confirmed them.”
The apostolic epistle carried few words for the believers in Antioch. The prophets brought many words of exercise and comfort to them. How good to be able to visit brethren face to face, strengthening the vital bonds of love and unity.
33. “And after they had tarried there a space, they were let go in peace from the brethren unto the apostles.”
When the Spirit had used them according to His will, Judas and Silas were submissive. They submitted to the assembly conscience as led by the Spirit, staying until the assembly let them go. They didn’t assume a superior attitude (as brethren from Jerusalem) to force their wills. Displaying submission to the will of the Antioch assembly, there was peace.
34. “Notwithstanding it pleased Silas to abide there still.” This verse is not found in the most reliable biblical manuscripts, and both Mr. Darby and Mr. Kelly leave it out of their translations.
35. “Paul also and Barnabas continued in Antioch, teaching and preaching the word of the Lord, with many others also.”
Paul and Barnabas taught and proclaimed the Word “with many others.” Though unnamed, these brethren also were doing the Lord’s work. May we be found daily doing whatever it is the Lord has given us to do. Eternity will reveal the blessings resulting from the efforts of the myriad of unnamed laborers. Let each one labor today in view of the coming day of revelation.
36. “And some days after Paul said unto Barnabas, Let us go again and visit our brethren in every city where we have preached the word of the Lord, and see how they do.”
Five words describe the heart of a shepherd: “And see how they do.” May each of us who have been redeemed with the precious blood of Christ have that heart’s desire to see how our brethren are getting on in this dark wilderness!
37. “And Barnabas determined to take with them John, whose surname was Mark.”
We read that “in the multitude of counsellors there is safety” (Prov. 11:14). Barnabas made a personal decision, and immediately his spirit and willingness to submit to the counsel of others is tested. We cannot go on happily in our service or with each other if our spirit refuses to hear others’ advice. We must allow the possibility that the Lord is sending counsellors to help rather than hinder us.
38. “But Paul thought not good to take him with them, who departed from them from Pamphylia, and went not with them to the work.”
Paul had no personal animosity towards or jealousy of John Mark. Rather, he was able to see what Barnabas evidently missed: Dear Mark’s faith was not yet strong enough for what would be required on the proposed journey.
One who engages in the work of shepherding (pastoring) cannot allow discouragement or opposition to turn him aside.
39. “And the contention was so sharp between them, that they departed asunder one from the other: and so Barnabas took Mark, and sailed unto Cyprus.”
How sad that dear Barnabas, who was known as “the son of consolation” (Acts 4:36), ends his happy fellowship and service with Paul in a spirit of “contention.” The Spirit of God is, from this time, silent as to Barnabas’ ministry. May the Lord give us a spirit of lowliness and submission, following after “things which make for peace” and seeking “as much as lieth in you” to walk in fellowship with one another.
40-41. “And Paul chose Silas, and departed, being recommended by the brethren unto the grace of God. And he went through Syria and Cilicia, confirming the churches.”
Paul was commended by the assembly to the grace of God needed for his ministry. Assembly fellowship in a servant’s work is vitally important and ought to be coveted by the servant of the Lord.

Practical Reflections on Acts - 16:1-13

1. “Then came he to Derbe and Lystra: and, behold, a certain disciple was there, named Timotheus, the son of a certain woman, which was a Jewess, and believed; but his father was a Greek.”
To natural sight, Timothy didn’t possess the qualifications seemingly needed for ministering to the beloved Apostle Paul. He was timid by nature, coming from an ethnically divided home—Hebrew mother and Greek father—having a saved mother and, probably, an unsaved father.
Yet this vessel would later be characterized by the Apostle as one ministering among the people of God who would “naturally care for your state.” What a wonderful encouragement for a godly parent, yearning for a child, but who feels their family circumstances are not all they ought to be.
2. “Which was well reported of by the brethren that were at Lystra and Iconium.”
A nice commendation of those who knew Timothy best! They saw him daily. “Even a child is known by his doings, whether his work be pure, and whether it be right” (Prov. 20:11). One who would serve Christ needs to be commended to the consciences of brethren. How grave to undertake Christian ministry when believers who know us best have serious reservations about our testimony or qualifications.
3. “Him would Paul have to go forth with him; and took and circumcised him because of the Jews which were in those quarters: for they knew all that his father was a Greek.”
Jewish law (and certainly Jewish prejudice) would seem to deny circumcision to the son of a mixed marriage (see especially Ezra and Nehemiah, where the wives of mixed marriages were sent away). But Paul acts in the liberty of the Spirit, showing grace to the Jews of that place. May it be that every act of our lives is marked by grace.
4. “And as they went through the cities, they delivered them the decrees for to keep, that were ordained of the apostles and elders which were at Jerusalem.”
Though on a “pastoring” journey (see Acts 15:36), the “apostles’ doctrine” is the foundation of their visits. Every ministry undertaken by a Christian ought to be founded on the truth and principles of the “apostles’ doctrine” (Acts 2:42).
5. “And so were the churches established in the faith, and increased in number daily.”
When our heart’s desire is to shepherd the people of God, doing so according to the truth of God, the saints of God will be strengthened and encouraged.
6-8. “Now when they had gone throughout Phrygia and the region of Galatia, and were forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia, after they were come to Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithynia: but the Spirit suffered them not. And they passing by Mysia came down to Troas.”
A servant of Christ must ever be submitted and sensitive to the Spirit’s leading. Otherwise, service becomes a matter of self-will and self-pleasing. Paul may have seen many opportunities to preach the gospel in Asia and Bithynia, and evidently he desired to do so, but the Spirit of God did not allow him go there at this time.
We should not be discouraged in service for the Lord just because things don’t seem to work out as we had intended or thought they would. When forbidden of the Spirit to go to one place, Paul submits and goes to another. For a time it may have seemed to Paul that he had missed the Lord’s mind, but, by faith, he does not give up in discouragement—nor should we. “Wait on the Lord” (Psa. 27:14).
9. “And a vision appeared to Paul in the night; There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us.”
Having submitted and waited, the Apostle receives a clear direction from the Lord by means of the vision. If submitted to His will and waiting for His direction, the Lord will, in His perfect time and perfect way, make the path plain to the servant. What happy words for a servant to hear! “Come over  .  .  .  and help us.” Paul received an invitation, the direction, and a purpose for his ministry. All was now plain.
10. “And after he had seen the vision, immediately we endeavored to go into Macedonia, assuredly gathering that the Lord had called us for to preach the gospel unto them.”
With a sense of the Lord’s leading, Paul and his company immediately acted. Faith both waits and acts. We often get the order mixed up—acting when we should be waiting, or waiting when we should be acting. The Lord grant us to trust Him fully!
11-12. “Therefore loosing from Troas, we came with a straight course to Samothracia, and the next day to Neapolis; and from thence to Philippi, which is the chief city of that part of Macedonia, and a colony: and we were in that city abiding certain days.”
As far as we know, the vision that Paul had received gave no specifics concerning the location at which he was to arrive. What is very clear is that the Apostle and his company went to Macedonia as quickly as possible and, evidently, by the shortest route possible.
Perhaps all too often when the Lord has laid an exercise of service on our hearts, we hesitate, wanting to know ahead of time how all the details will be worked out. But such reasoning is not faith. Once there is the assurance of the Lord’s command to go, let us do so by faith, trusting Him for each step of the way.
13. “And on the sabbath we went out of the city by a river side, where prayer was wont to be made; and we sat down, and spake unto the women which resorted thither.”
A man had called Paul in the vision, but his company was evidently content to be found with that which speaks of weakness rather than power—the “women which” came to pray. The city of Philippi may have seemed to have offered far more possibilities for a large and active service, but Paul was content to be identified with those who acted in dependence on God. How good for each who seeks to serve the Lord to be found in the attitude of prayerful dependence.

Practical Reflections on Acts - 16:14-24

14. “And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard us: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul.”
Though Paul’s visit to Thyatira was outwardly characterized by great weakness (sitting outside the city, preaching to the women who had assembled to pray), he was faithful in “that which is least.” God blessed the Apostle’s words to the heart of Lydia, and, from that seemingly insignificant beginning, a mighty work began to unfold, and thus Paul was found “faithful in that which is  .  .  .  much” (Luke 16:10).
May each believer—young and old—be faithful in the special ministry the Lord desires each one to carry out for Himself!
15. “And when she was baptized, and her household, she besought us, saying, If ye have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house, and abide there. And she constrained us.”
Lydia’s faith was personal (as it must be for each one). She could not save her family, but she did, by faith, place them on the same ground as she, in reality, occupied—dead to this world and risen with Christ. Each one in her house would have to make that outward position of blessing good by personal faith in Christ. (Baptism does not impart eternal life.)
Lydia then learned the joy of fellowship with the “apostles’ doctrine.” She invited Paul and his company into her house. The Apostle’s presence (a picture of the blessings the truth of God brings to believers) was based on her walk (faithful) and her desire for the truth taught by Paul (“she constrained us”).
May we, like dear Lydia, desire that our lives, families, and, indeed, all that is ours be guided and blessed by the divine principles of the “apostles’ doctrine.”
16. “And it came to pass, as we went to prayer, a certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination met us, which brought her masters much gain by soothsaying.”
Another has said that prayer is a mighty engine. The enemy well knows the power of prayer and will use any means at his disposal to disrupt it, seeking to stop a true work of God. As the “angel of light,” Satan uses guile (“a certain damsel possessed”) rather than violence to hinder this particular work.
17. “The same followed Paul and us, and cried, saying, These men are the servants of the most high God, which show unto us the way of salvation.”
Using partial truth, the enemy attacks the truth by seeking to associate with and confuse it. The gospel that Paul preached (the gospel of the grace of God) does not reveal the “most High God”—a revelation suited to the gospel of the kingdom and the millennium.
Paul’s gospel shows to man Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God who reveals God as Father (John 20:17). Those who have been “redeemed with the precious blood of Christ,” call God, by the Spirit, “Abba, Father” (Rom. 8:15; Gal. 4:6). Let us preach the gospel in truth, simplicity and clarity!
18. “And this did she many days. But Paul, being grieved, turned and said to the spirit, I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her. And he came out the same hour. ”
The enemy doesn’t give up, but he must ever give in to the infinite power of the name of Jesus Christ. What preciousness, power and value are in His name!
19. “And when her masters saw that the hope of their gains was gone, they caught Paul and Silas, and drew them into the marketplace unto the rulers.”
The owners of this poor girl had but one use for her—to make financial gain of her demonic bondage. They would tolerate Paul and his gospel only so long as it allowed them to use her to gain riches.
When she was truly set free (John 8:36), they seek to imprison Paul, having no use for the gospel.
20. “And brought them to the magistrates, saying, These men, being Jews, do exceedingly trouble our city.”
What hypocrisy! Those who thought nothing of enslaving and troubling the very soul of a poor, helpless girl dare to accuse those who brought her peace and liberty through the name of Jesus. Believers ought never to expect more uprightness from the world than was shown to our blessed Lord. His name will bring reproach in the measure we who bear it are used to bring blessing to lost souls.
21. “And teach customs, which are not lawful for us to receive, neither to observe, being Romans.”
How subtle is the enemy! Christian liberty in Christ has nothing to do with the bondage of Judaism. But the men, in order to get rid of that influence which had denied them part, at least, of their ill-gotten gains, set the Jews and their religious customs at odds with imperial Rome and its pagan traditions.
The gospel of the grace of God through Jesus Christ sets the soul free from both systems. How good if believers today would live in the full enjoyment of the “liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free.”
22. “And the multitude rose up together against them: and the magistrates rent off their clothes, and commanded to beat them.”
The multitude, so proud of their rights and freedoms as Roman citizens, rise up together, united against those who brought them the message of true freedom. The servants of the Lord are subjected to humiliation (“rent off their clothes”) and suffering (“commanded to beat them”).
Paul and Barnabas, who were being so cruelly and unrighteously treated, are not recorded as uttering one word in their own defense or in an attempt to escape suffering for Christ. Beautiful submission!
23. “And when they had laid many stripes upon them, they cast them into prison, charging the jailor to keep them safely.”
Having vented the rage Satan had inspired in them against the apostles, the people now seek to insure that their preaching is also stopped.
24. “Who, having received such a charge, thrust them into the inner prison, and made their feet fast in the stocks.”
Man sought to restrain the truth. God was about to show the utter futility of man’s hatred of the gospel.

Practical Reflections on Acts - 16:25-40

25. “And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them.”
The darkest part of the night found voices raised to God in praise and thanksgiving. What does this poor, dark world today hear from us? They who are without Christ are prisoners. How beautiful to note that Paul and Silas are not referred to as prisoners, for the Son had made them free. What liberty we have in Christ—liberty to sing in the darkest, most painful and depressing circumstances of life.
26. “And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one’s bands were loosed.”
All of man’s monumental efforts to impede and thwart the gospel of the grace of God are quickly proven worthless against His infinite power. Not only was the prison shaken, but Paul’s and Silas’s songs of praise triggered events leading to the prisoners’ freedom. Are we singing in this dark prison—the world (Col. 3:16)? The Lord Jesus commanded those around the now living Lazarus to “loose him, and let him go.” Let us also loose prisoners into the liberty “wherewith Christ hath made us free” (Gal. 5:1).
27. “And the keeper of the prison awaking out of his sleep, and seeing the prison doors open, he drew out his sword, and would have killed himself, supposing that the prisoners had been fled.”
This poor world knows nothing of the liberating power and grace of God. We live in a world whose only answer to seeming failure is hopeless death. May our lights, as those possessing eternal life, shine brightly in this poor, dark scene of failure and death!
28. “But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, Do thyself no harm: for we are all here.”
What a beautiful example of grace and truth—grace to give hope and help to the guilty, and truth to reveal the true condition of things in a world blinded by the lies of the devil. As long as we are still here, dear believer, there is hope—salvation—for the lost.
29. “Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas.”
Light is so desperately needed in this morally dark world. We are “children of light” (1 Thess. 5:5). Let us be found walking in that glorious light, letting it shine for those still trapped in the darkness of sin.
30. “And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”
The jailor turns to God, doing “works meet for repentance” (Acts 26:20). His first act is to set at liberty God’s truth, as represented by Paul and Silas. May we strive for that happy condition in souls—repentance which accepts (rather than imprisons) the truth of God presented to them.
Where there is true heart repentance, there will, of necessity, follow the earnest question, “What must I do to be saved?”
31. “And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.”
Here is the simple and yet profound answer upon which eternal issues of life hang! How simple, beautiful and full of hope is the gospel message. The jailor knew death awaited him at the hands of the Roman government for failing in his duty to keep the prisoners; instead, the trembling jailor hears words of life both for himself and his family.
32. “And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house.”
This is more than the gospel—it is the revelation of God through His Son, Jesus Christ. May we not be content with only seeing souls saved (vital and wonderful as that is), but also with seeing them grounded in the truth of God.
The question is not, Does God desire to bless our families (households)? Rather, it is, Do we want the truth of God (pictured by Paul and Silas) in our homes and lives? Is the truth not only welcome, but do we desire to live it? Oh! may we willingly listen to the living, life-changing Word of the Lord.
33. “And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway.”
The reality of the jailor’s conversion is plainly proven. “By their fruits ye shall know them.” He uses water to give public testimony of the change in his heart—repentance (washing their stripes) and identification (he was baptized and all his).
34. “And when he had brought them into his house, he set meat before them, and rejoiced, believing in God with all his house.”
Having identified with Christ through repentance and baptism, the jailor now identifies with the Lord’s servants by showing them Christian hospitality and love. Real faith evidenced by the jailor’s actions was rewarded with real joy in his heart and home.
35. “And when it was day, the magistrates sent the sergeants, saying, Let those men go.”
The magistrates perhaps realized that they had gone “too far” in allowing innocent men to be so beaten. But they were not repentant towards God for their wicked actions, proven by their haughty dispatching of underlings to release those they had so wrongly and cruelly treated.
36-37. “And the keeper of the prison told this saying to Paul, The magistrates have sent to let you go: now therefore depart, and go in peace. But Paul said unto them, They have beaten us openly uncondemned, being Romans, and have cast us into prison; and now do they thrust us out privily? nay verily; but let them come themselves and fetch us out.”
Yes, they could go in peace, but would that leave a proper testimony to the glory, honor and majesty of the One they preached at Philippi? Were they to steal away as though they were simply common criminals, thus casting dishonor on the Lord’s name?
They would bear, without complaint, personal insult and injury, but the Lord’s name must be cleared if their preaching was to remain effective.
38. “And the sergeants told these words unto the magistrates: and they feared, when they heard that they were Romans.”
Foolish men! They fear what the Roman government would do to them for their treatment of two of its citizens, but they display no fear of what God will require of them for their wicked treatment of His beloved servants.
39. “And they came and besought them, and brought them out, and desired them to depart out of the city.”
A clear testimony is rendered to the purity of the gospel and the person of Christ. Those who publicly beat innocent servants of Christ now give public testimony that they were wrong and the gospel right. “Let God be true, but every man a liar” (Rom. 3:4).
40. “And they went out of the prison, and entered into the house of Lydia: and when they had seen the brethren, they comforted them, and departed.”
Having passed through such a fiery trial of unjust treatment, these dear servants of Christ are now fit vessels to be a comfort to the new believers in Philippi. May we use the trials we are allowed to pass through in life as a means to encourage others.

Practical Reflections on Acts - 17:1-14

12. “Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where was a synagogue of the Jews: and Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the Scriptures.”
How lovely to see that the source and foundation of Paul’s “reasoning” was the divine, unchangeable Word of God—not the puny mind of man. His reasoning was far different from the great reasoning that the unbelieving Jews had among themselves in Acts 28:29 concerning Paul’s message to them.
Faith in the Word of God gives assurance, but man’s wisdom can never find out God’s truth, for “the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God  .  .  .  neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Cor. 2:14).
What is the guiding principle upon which we preach Christ and defend our faith—“what saith the Scripture” or the “enticing words of man’s wisdom”?
3. “Opening and alleging, that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus, whom I preach unto you, is Christ.”
A suffering, dying and risen Messiah who was Jesus of Nazareth—this was the intense, personal message of Paul to the Jews. May that same fervent spirit characterize our communications as believers!
4. “And some of them believed, and consorted with Paul and Silas; and of the devout Greeks a great multitude, and of the chief women not a few.”
In Acts 13:50, the Jews were able to stir up the religious “women of the upper classes” (JND Trans.) to get rid of Paul and Barnabas. Here, the “chief women” became true worshippers of the Lord Jesus.
Only the reality of faith in Christ (not religion or position in society) can bring a real change of heart. In the western world, especially in North America, there is a danger of placing emphasis on being religious, being successful, and being popular, seeking to make the gospel of Christ more acceptable by connecting and mixing it with those things.
5. “But the Jews which believed not, moved with envy, took unto them certain lewd fellows of the baser sort, and gathered a company, and set all the city on an uproar, and assaulted the house of Jason, and sought to bring them out to the people.”
How religious flesh hates to be denied when the Spirit acts! The Jews saw their numbers (even among the “devout Greeks” and “the chief women” ) dwindle. Realizing they had lost the upper classes of society as effective tools of hostility towards the gospel of Christ, they unite with the lowest rabble—a part of society from which they would normally separate.
Though we see the Jews’ guilt in their awful spirit, what about our own spirits? Do we become jealous or even openly oppose the efforts and energies of those who are being used to bring lost souls to Christ through ways with which we may not agree? Let us be careful of our spirits!
6. “And when they found them not, they drew Jason and certain brethren unto the rulers of the city, crying, These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also.”
What a confession of the power of the gospel comes from these haters of the name of Jesus! They had done their best to destroy (Matt. 27:20), to hide (Matt. 28:11-15), and to stamp out (Acts 8:1) that way. But now, according to their very own admission, the followers of Jesus had changed the world!
Christians—pilgrims and strangers—are not here to change this present evil world by becoming involved in its politics. But we individually and the church collectively ought to bear testimony to our rejected, risen Head in glory. In the measure a believer walks in love for the Lord Jesus and faithfulness to Him, the world will be positively impacted—turned upside down—by his walk.
7. “Whom Jason hath received: and these all do contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, one Jesus.”
The human heart’s deceitfulness is strikingly displayed by the guile and hostility of the Jews’ twisted accusations against Paul. They knew that calling into question Caesar’s supreme authority would cause an uproar among the Greeks, arousing the patriotic fervor of Caesar’s citizens. Yet the Jews truly hated Caesar and His domination over their nation almost as much as they hated Christianity.
Let us never act in a spirit which would use this world or its political systems to seek to gain that for which God would have us depend upon Him alone.
8-9. “And they troubled the people and the rulers of the city, when they heard these things. And when they had taken security of Jason, and of the others, they let them go.”
Dear Jason and the others who had been saved in Thessalonica learned a lesson that each believer who desires to walk in fellowship with the Lord must learn: The truth costs (Prov. 23:23; 2 Tim. 3:12). Oh! to be willing to pay the price of holding fast the truth of God against all the attacks of the enemy.
10. “And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews.”
The night was not only the time when, to avoid further confrontation, Paul and Silas left, but it also described the Jews’ moral condition—as it does for those today who reject the truth in Christ. It has been said, “Light rejected brings night.” May we ever walk in the light of the truth of God.
11. “These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.”
This remarkable commendation of the Spirit—“more noble”—was not due to the Bereans’ social or financial status. They are commended because, for them, the Word of God was the ultimate and final judge of all—even the message of an apostle of Jesus Christ. May we too allow the Word of God always to be the final judge and guide for every detail of life. “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against Thee” (Psa. 119:11).
12-13. “Therefore many of them believed; also of honorable women which were Greeks, and of men, not a few. But when the Jews of Thessalonica had knowledge that the word of God was preached of Paul at Berea, they came thither also, and stirred up the people.”
Should we be surprised that when the Spirit of God blesses (individual souls, families, our marriages, or in the assembly), the enemy immediately sends his agents to stop the blessing? Knowing this should not discourage our hearts in any little service the Lord has entrusted to us. “Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed.  .  .  .  The Lord thy God is with thee” (Josh. 1:9).
14. “And then immediately the brethren sent away Paul to go as it were to the sea: but Silas and Timotheus abode there still.”
The ways of our God are past finding out! The enemy seemed to succeed in getting rid of Paul. But faithful men remained to strengthen the Berean believers. May we individually morally answer to faithful men while praying that God will be pleased to raise up such for the blessing of His church.

Practical Reflections on Acts - 17:15-26

15. “And they that conducted Paul brought him unto Athens: and receiving a commandment unto Silas and Timotheus for to come to him with all speed, they departed.”
Are we conducting Paul through this world? That is, are we a living testimony of the doctrines given to him for the church by our ascended and glorified Saviour? The modern day “Athens” in which we live is still full of man’s intelligence and philosophy, yet ignorant of the true God. May we bear Paul and his gospel of our risen Lord and Saviour into “Athens.”
16. “Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was stirred in him, when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry.”
What an apt picture of the world that we live in today. In the Western world, idolatry has more to do with material possessions and sensual pleasures, while perhaps in other parts of the world it has more to do with false religion. But whatever the reasons, man has a multitude of idols—those things which take the place that God alone ought to have in each heart. May we be careful that our lives as believers do not slip away from our precious Saviour so that we too become “wholly given to idolatry.”
17. “Therefore disputed he in the synagogue with the Jews, and with the devout persons, and in the market daily with them that met with him.”
Paul did something about that which caused such deep stirrings in his heart. May we not only see the condition of things around us, but seek in divine love to bring the liberating gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ to those who are captives of Satan and his minions. Everywhere Paul went, he preached the gospel. May our lives—every aspect of them—preach the gospel to those around us.
18. “Then certain philosophers of the Epicureans, and of the Stoics, encountered him. And some said, What will this babbler say? other some, He seemeth to be a setter forth of strange gods: because he preached unto them Jesus, and the resurrection.”
The Epicureans and the Stoics were at opposite ends of the philosophical scale—the one addicted to enjoying every kind of human pleasure and delight, and the other dedicated to absolute refusal to allow human emotions of joy or sorrow to effect their lives. Christ alone can bring lasting joy, and He alone can give peace in the midst of sorrows and trials. To the philosophically blinded Athenians, the truth of Christ’s death and resurrection only added one more strange god to their pantheon. But let us, like Paul, be faithful in preaching “Jesus, and the resurrection.”
19-20. “And they took him, and brought him unto Areopagus, saying, May we know what this new doctrine, whereof thou speakest, is? For thou bringest certain strange things to our ears: we would know therefore what these things mean.”
The God who loves man so much that He sent His only begotten Son to become a man, willingly die, then rise from the dead, all so that men who have no thought of or care for Him might be saved, blessed and made eternally happy, was the essence of the new doctrine which so confused the intelligent and philosophical Athenians.
What a comment on the moral bankruptcy and darkness of man’s natural wisdom! It judged the truth of God—a crucified, now-living, risen Christ—to be nothing more than strange things!
21. “(For all the Athenians and strangers which were there, spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell or to hear some new thing.)”
Here is the reason why the Athenians were “ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” (2 Tim. 3:7). They were always eager to hear something new—a new line of reasoning, a new philosophy. May we be content with the divine, unchanging truth of God. Though “old,” it is living, ever “new” and always applicable to our current life.
22. “Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars’ hill, and said, Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious.”
The Athenians were totally given up to the worship of demons. The place (the Areopagus in Athens) boasting the very pinnacle of man’s wisdom and philosophy resulted only in their being sunk in the depths of satanic delusions! What glory and light are found in the One who is “the way, the truth, and the life.” Our God is light and love. Let us walk as “children of light , and  .  .  .  the day” (1 Thess. 5:5).
23. “For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, Him declare I unto you.”
Let us remember that “the world by wisdom knew not God” (1 Cor. 1:21). Man, so very proud of his wisdom and intelligence, has, by it, sunk into the lowest possible religious darkness, a total slave of satanic delusion and at infinite distance from the God who created him. May we be willing to bear the reproach of being thought “fools for Christ’s sake” (1 Cor. 4:10) as we live and preach the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
24. “God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that He is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands.”
Paul begins his message to the Athenians by telling them the truth about themselves—they were totally given over to the worship of demons and were completely ignorant of the one true God. This was a characterization impossible to accept apart from a humbled, repentant heart.
The only true God, which their wisdom and philosophy failed to reveal, was infinitely greater than the philosophies propounded in the Athenian Areopagus. The architectural beauty of those temples still causes wonder and admiration today. Yet, the unknown God they ignorantly worshipped—infinitely greater in majesty—fills all creation with His glory but is the object of man’s hatred, unbelief and scorn!
25. “Neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though He needed anything, seeing He giveth to all life, and breath, and all things.”
Cain tried to give the best of his efforts to God, but he and his offering were rejected. Yet the very life and breath that he expended to bring the “fruit of the ground” as an offering to God came from the very One who could never accept anything from the sinner, save his repentance and faith in the Saviour. The approach to God and eternal blessing is “repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 20:21)—not beautiful buildings or man’s philosophies or his supposedly great wisdom.
26. “And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation.”
The Athenians (mankind today as well) thought that by their wisdom they were the masters of their destinies. What foolishness! God created them and has appointed their time and place, and it is to Him they are responsible. Oh! what a solemn message we have to present to this Christ-rejecting world. But are we doing it—through our actions and words?

Practical Reflections on Acts - 17:27-18:2

27-28. “That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after Him, and find Him, though He be not far from every one of us: for in Him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also His offspring.”
A person who is blind feels after a thing, seeking to find it by touch. What an indictment of the Athenians, so proud of their intellect and philosophical abilities! Paul could not have been more plain: Their wisdom and philosophy was less than worthless in gaining knowledge of the true God. The reality was that they were reduced to feeling—searching for God as those blinded by their minds (see 2 Cor. 4:4). But in this very thing, the grace of God is clearly proclaimed by the Apostle: “Though He be not far from every one of us.”
What a difference it would make in our daily walk and joy as believers if we really, in faith, laid hold of how close our blessed God is—so close that at any moment we are welcome into His presence before “the throne of grace,” so close that His Spirit dwells within each believer and so close that our blessed Jesus will “never leave  .  .  .  nor forsake” His own!
29. “Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device.”
Their own celebrated poets had at least been able to discern that their origins were not from a piece of slime, as evolution would teach today. But though admitting a Superior Being, the Athenian idolaters thought their puny minds could conceive objects of worship from the artistry of man.
How far below the infinite glory, holiness and dignity of the divine were their foolish, man-made attempts to recreate God in gold and silver images!
30. “And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men everywhere to repent.”
There was a time when God in long-suffering grace overlooked such foolish ignorance because He had not yet been revealed in Son (Heb. 1:2). Now all that can be known of God by man has been fully and perfectly revealed in and by the Lord Jesus. “He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father.”
Because of this infinite revelation in His eternal, well-beloved Son, God no longer overlooks man’s self-willed, proud and ignorant thoughts. His command has gone forth, not to build temples and idols to the unknown God in order to worship what cannot be seen, but to repent for what man has done to God when He made Himself to be seen in Son.
31. “Because He hath appointed a day, in the which He will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom He hath ordained; whereof He hath given assurance unto all men, in that He hath raised Him from the dead.”
If mankind will not have the Saviour’s love, they will have His judgment. Solemn thought. How long-suffering He is—how much He desires that man would come now, receiving blessing and pardon—full and abundant.
The principle is just the same for believers. God desires to show grace. His loving heart is to bless; judgment is His strange work. But His children may miss the blessings He would give if they do not walk in self-judgment with the eye of faith firmly fixed on Himself, their hearts in communion with His.
32. “And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked: and others said, We will hear thee again of this matter. ”
That one should arise from among the dead was beyond the ability of their vaunted reasoning to understand or accept. What an apt picture of our natural hearts, so deceitful and wicked (Jer. 17:9). In that pinnacle of man’s intelligence (the Athenian Areopagus), God’s wonderful truth is mocked by some and discounted by others. What do we do with the precious Word of God—infinitely beyond our reason—when it reveals to our hearts that which our mind is not capable of understanding? Oh! for a spirit of unquestioned submission!
33. “So Paul departed from among them.”
Solemn fact! Paul might spend “a year and six months” with the worldly Corinthians, turning them by the Spirit from darkness to light. But when man’s mind begins to reason and dispute the indisputable truth of God, Paul will not stay. Vital principle! Honest questions concerning the Person and work of Christ require our greatest patience. Mere intellectual reasoning and debating with the truth of God is not to be encouraged or tolerated.
34. “Howbeit certain men clave unto him, and believed: among the which was Dionysius the Areopagite, and a woman named Damaris, and others with them.”
At least one of those lofty reasoners submitted to an infinitely superior truth—as well as a dear sister and others. Thank God for the other—“unknown, and yet well-known”—lights for God in a place of intellectual darkness and superstition. May our light shine brightly for Christ in this dark world!
Chapter 18
1. “After these things Paul departed from Athens, and came to Corinth.”
Leaving those few in Athens to bear testimony there, Paul moves on to preach elsewhere. Eternity will reveal the results of those who heard, believed and preached the gospel in the Areopagus and in the streets of Athens. May we, too, be more faithful in proclaiming the gospel where we are.
2. “And found a certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, lately come from Italy, with his wife Priscilla; (because that Claudius had commanded all Jews to depart from Rome,) and came unto them.”
How often have we seen in Acts that when the enemy seeks to get rid of any testimony to the truth of God, greater blessing results. Aquila and Priscilla are, through the edict of Claudius, introduced to the Apostle Paul. What happy times they must have enjoyed together as Paul taught them from the Scriptures! How true—“all things work together for good to them that love God” (Rom. 8:28)!

Praising the Lord

“Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised” (Psa. 48:1; 145:3).
May we be stirred by the Spirit of God to truly give our God the praise of which He is so worthy. It is so wonderful to be in His presence. But may we also think on all His greatness—great in His glorious Person, great in His power, great in His love, great in His wisdom, and great in His mercy. The more we think of Him, the more the praises will flow.
What dries up the stream of praise to Him is thinking about ourselves. We live in such a humanistic age that often we are more affected by its spirit than we realize. Silent pauses in our meetings to truly worship at His feet are certainly good—we do not always have to be speaking or singing. But, sadly, at times our minds are far away on other things, and then there is no praise to our glorious God.
Two verses have searched my soul. The first is Luke 19:40. The Lord Jesus in His triumphal entry was being praised by the disciples with a loud voice. The Pharisees asked Him to rebuke them. He replied, “If these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out.” We are the “stones” (living ones) recorded in 1 Peter 2:5 that have been chosen to offer up spiritual sacrifices of praise. If we will not do it, He will raise up others to praise His Son.
The second is found in Exodus 23:15; 34:20: “None shall appear before Me empty.” God is such a giving God that He has filled our lives with so many spiritual blessings and material things. If one does not feel blessed, sit down, get out a piece of paper and start listing the many blessings that are ours in Christ. It will take quite a while.
Now in response to having received so much, we ought to have full hearts to praise Him. How unbecoming it is to sit in the Lord’s presence and not open our mouths and pour out our praises to His most blessed name.
Sometimes we like to talk about being a testimony for the Lord. But the testimony will be most vivid if we are not thinking about ourselves at all—but rather about Him. When we sing His praise, we will unconsciously be a testimony to Him.
May the Lord encourage us to sing His praise each day (the Scripture says “continually”), and then the praise will flow more freely when we come together in His presence to remember Him.
R. Thonney (from a letter)

Psalm 42:7

Deep calleth unto deep, the sound
Of all God’s waterfalls and waves,
In billows were unbound!
The deep called out, “I cannot bear
The sting that fills my guilty graves,
And all that hides down here.”
A roaring flood of wrath was heard
That human ear could not abide,
Nor tongue could frame in word;
It was for sin that I had done,
As God Almighty poured that tide
On Christ, the sinless One.
“Deep calleth unto deep,” again,
In answer to each wave that rolled,
As deep as all my stain;
The “deep” of all that I had done,
In shame and woe, repulsive, bold,
Christ’s “deep” of love made known.
And deeper still that love has gone,
So deep that all the world should know
That all the work is done;
”Thy billows are gone over Me”;
”I’ve gone where none could ever go
To set the sinner free.”
Deep calleth unto deep, my friend,
And waits for you as you stand by,
Your broken heart to mend;
If life would end for you today,
Would “lost forever” be your cry?
Or, “Jesus paid my way”?
Deep calleth unto deep, I see;
Eternity will there unfold
What Christ has paid for me;
Till then my steps, Lord, Thou wilt keep,
And love’s great trophy ever hold,
For “deep” has answered “deep”!
M. Breman
“He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life” (1 John 5:12).


As they softly fall,
They so very small,
Those tiny wee drops of rain;
To do any good,
They surely should
Be just twice as big again!
Yet it is not so,
Because you know,
’Twas God made those raindrops small;
He uses them too,
His work to do;
E’en the smallest drop of all.
They have work to do,
And so do you,
Never mind if it is small;
The raindrops don’t ask
For a greater task,
For their work is just to fall.
No matter the size,
In God’s loving eyes,
That’s not what He looks to see;
What He asks of you
Is His will to do;
He needs only your service free.
He settles the place
On earth’s dry face
Where each raindrop is to fall;
So for you and me,
A place there’ll be;
Our part, to fill it, that’s all!
Author unknown
“By grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8).


The Work of Christ
The Lord Jesus, after He had completed the blessed and glorious work of redemption on Calvary’s cross, was buried and rose again on the third day. The Scripture has recorded the various occasions on which He met with His own after His resurrection, giving them abundant proof that the work of redemption had been completed. “Who was delivered for our offenses, and raised again for our justification. Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 4:25-5:1).
The Word of God
Before His ascension to heaven, He told them of the coming of the Holy Spirit, which took place on the day of Pentecost, and He commissioned them to carry the blessed message of salvation to “whosoever will” in the whole world (see Mark 16:15). He said that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name among all nations” (Luke 24:47). The Apostle Peter called upon those of the nation of Israel to repent (Acts 2:38), and Paul, later on, when preaching to Gentiles (Acts 17:30-31), told them that “God  .  .  .  now commandeth all men everywhere to repent: because He hath appointed a day in the which He will judge the world in righteousness by that Man whom He hath ordained; whereof He hath given assurance unto all men, in that He hath raised Him from the dead.” Also, when Paul gave charges to those at Ephesus, he said that his message in the gospel was the necessity of repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 20:21).
Repentance and the Gospel
With the Lord’s help I would like to consider, in the light of Scripture, the subject of repentance and its importance in the proclamation of the gospel message. The real meaning of repentance is a “change of mind,” and so God calls upon men and women to have a change of mind about their real condition in the presence of a holy God who hates sin. We read in the Bible, which is God’s Word, “Thou [God] art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity” (Hab. 1:13). Many people look very lightly on sin and laugh about it as though it were nothing and even are entertained by jokes about sin. They are like a man who has cancer and does not know the seriousness of his condition. He gets a real change of mind when he visits the doctor and the doctor tells him his true condition. If he thinks the doctor is only joking, he might laugh, but if he believes the doctor, he is very seriously concerned and wants to hear about a remedy.
God has very clearly told us about our true condition as sinners. He tells us that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). He tells us that “the wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23) and that “it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment” (Heb. 9:27).
God’s Remedy for Sin
God not only tells us of our true condition, but He tells us that there is a sure remedy. Listen to these lovely verses that tell us of God’s remedy. In wondrous love He sent His own Son to bear the full penalty for our sins on Calvary’s cross. “Who His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree” (1 Peter 2:24). “Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many” (Heb. 9:28). “The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin” (1 John 1:7). The question is, If you have truly repented and had a change of mind about your true condition, will you accept the remedy God has provided? It is offered as a gift, if you are ready to take your place as a guilty sinner before Him.
How Much Repentance?
Some are concerned as to whether they have repented enough and if they have felt and confessed every sin. Now the Bible says, “They that are in the flesh cannot please God” (Rom. 8:8). Until a sinner comes to the Lord Jesus, his whole life is sinful before God. He is called upon to own his true condition—not a question of whether he has repented enough. The man who got the blessing in Luke 18:13 simply acknowledged his guilt and said, “God be merciful to me a sinner.”
We read in Job 33:27-28, “He looketh upon men, and if any say, I have sinned, and perverted that which was right, and it profited me not; He will deliver his soul from going into the pit, and his life shall see the light.” “Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and He will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon” (Isa. 55:7).
True Repentance
True repentance is then a real change of mind. It is when you accept what God says about your true condition as lost and guilty before Him. Then are you now willing to accept His free offer of forgiveness and salvation through the atoning work of redemption accomplished by the Lord Jesus on the cross of Calvary when He bore “our sins in His own body on the tree” (1 Peter 2:24)? Salvation is “not of works lest any man should boast” (Eph. 2:9). If you will just take God’s offer of salvation as a free gift (Rom. 6:23), you will then have peace with God and the assurance of your salvation by just resting on His unfailing Word. “These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life” (1 John 5:13). It is not a question of feeling you are saved, but it is taking God at His word. Then you can say, “I know I am saved,” “for I believe God, that it shall be even as it was told me” (Acts 27:25). “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 5:1).
G. H. Hayhoe
Ed. Note: Copies of this tract are available from the author as well as from Bible Truth Publishers, Bibles & Publications and other tract depots.

The Sea to Cross

Life is truly a struggle and trial,
A sea to cross for a little while;
The course is set on a chart by trust
And the journey we take is a journey we must.
The storm will rage and ships go down,
And souls may float or swim and drown;
Some may sail through peril and blast
And see a shore appear at last.
And if by rocky shoals they land,
They find the ground is sinking sand.
Could it be as some suppose
While in the ship below repose,
That the chart is true and the ship is sound,
And the course will lead to richer ground?
Or is it so as the Word declares
That the only hope is to prepare,
And to trust in God to navigate
And lead on to a better state?
One might trust the godly chart
And not the reasoning of the heart.
And when the Saviour takes the helm,
There’s peace on board throughout the realm;
A heavenly place His care will afford,
When the Captain is Jesus Christ the Lord.
R. DeWitt (July 1994)
“The Son of Man is come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10).

Searching Our Hearts

The Lord Jesus was the reader of all hearts when down here. He is doing the same in heaven, now. He does it in connection with His own people, and often they shrink from it. He is the searcher-out of all things in us, but if it makes us know what we are, it is only to make us cling more to Him.
He brings us into the light, makes it shine into us, in order to show out and make us see the things that are wanting in us. And we never learn what there is in Him, contrasted with self, without its making us loathe our vessel.
The Revelation of the Father
The revelation of Father goes far beyond that of God. As a son, I am brought where I can have fellowship with the thoughts of the Father and of the Son— “I in them, and Thou in Me.” Is that true of you individually? You in your littleness, put into Christ; all that Christ is, giving you value before God. It makes one feel one’s exceeding littleness. A zero, a thing utterly valueless, made by the figure put before it to be of exceeding value.
We do not like to suffer. But the world was a wilderness to Him and must be to us also. If you make for yourself some little path where you feel you can serve with comfort and know where to put your foot so as to avoid every little stone or roughness, He will not let you stay there. He will change your lot. He still means this world to be the wilderness all the way home.
Gleanings of G. V. Wigram (excerpts)

Self or Christ?

Do you think we shall want to talk about self when we get to heaven? I am sure that when the glory shines into our hearts, we can talk of nothing but Christ. If in sorrow and one comes in and talks about the world, does it cheer the heart? No! But if he talks of Christ and all His glory, the heart gets comfort directly.
Why talk about self so much now? Why so vexed about self, so troubled in spirit? And why is there so little to be heard of this Christ, who has brought us where we get all the mind of God and of heaven? I should like to get the thought of the living Christ in heaven the only object before the soul, so that when we meet one another, we may be occupied only with Christ, as perfectly satisfied with Him.
Can there be any lack of joy? Oh no! Christ died for me. Any lack of glory? Oh no! I am one with Him at the right hand of God. But often, even when a large place is given Christ, people forget that it must be only Christ, and not self. If occupied with Christ, where are my own thoughts and my own plannings?
If you are quickened, you must expect to die daily, to let all your own plans and energies die. What has my energy to do with Christ? Human energy connects me with things around me down here, but never drives me to Christ.
From The Gleanings of G. V. Wigram

Setting Personal Wrongs Right

“When Ahithophel saw that his counsel was not followed, he  .  .  .  gat him home to his house, to his city, and put his household in order, and hanged himself, and died, and was buried in the sepulchre of his father” (2 Sam. 17:23).
What a sad end for Ahithophel, who was the king’s counsellor (1 Chron. 27:33). His counsel which he counselled in those days was as if a man had enquired at the oracle of God (2 Sam. 16:23). Evidently he was a man of unusual ability and usefulness to David, occupying a key position in the kingdom, and greatly respected for his wisdom. What then had happened to bring him to such a low point? When Absalom had wanted to usurp the throne, we find that he sent for Ahithophel (2 Sam. 15:12), who evidently came readily and with full support for Absalom. More than this, when he was asked to give counsel as to the best means of defeating David, Ahithophel not only counselled against David, but wanted personally to lead an army against him (2 Sam. 17:13). Why did this man, so close to David, turn so completely against him? I believe the answer is found in comparing 2 Samuel 11:3 and chapter 23:34.
Family Relationships and Snares
Ahithophel was the grandfather of Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah the Hittite. He was probably one of the few who knew the whole truth of David’s sin with Bathsheba and his subsequent attempt to cover it up by arranging for the death of her husband Uriah. We can only imagine the disillusionment and anger that so easily must have filled his soul. Doubtless he felt that David’s sin made him unfit to be king any longer. When Absalom, who seemed to be more righteous, came along, Ahithophel readily lent his support to him against David.
How keenly we feel it when a serious wrong is done, perhaps by those whom we have respected and trusted the most! When the wrong affects a member of our own family, we feel it all the more. Righteous anger arises in our hearts and perhaps our first thought is to avenge the wrong. Unhappily such things have happened many times in the history of God’s people, whether in Israel or in the history of the church.
We cannot defend David’s actions, and we find that the Lord dealt with them most solemnly. The first child born to David and Bathsheba died, and David was also told by Nathan the prophet that the sword would never depart from his house. It is clear that God did not pass over what David had done, although He did put away his sin (2 Sam. 12:13).
Setting Things Straight
Yet how often have we, like Ahithophel, taken matters into our own hands instead of counting on God to set things right! Ahithophel seemed to have plenty of reason for his attitude and actions, but he acted without God’s mind and thus rebelled against God’s rightful king. As David would not lift up his hand against Saul, because he was the Lord’s anointed, so Ahithophel was wrong to support rebellion against David.
Sowing and Reaping
As a result, God allowed Ahithophel’s good counsel to be rejected in favor of that given by Hushai. Knowing full well that the result would be certain defeat for Absalom, Ahithophel commits suicide. May this be a lesson to our own hearts, if we are tempted to try righting a wrong! This does not mean that we are to condone evil, either individually or in the assembly. But let us be careful not to use human energy to accomplish what only the Lord can do.
Forgiving and Serving
Contrast the history of Ahithophel with that of his son Eliam. We are not told much about him, although he was the father of Bathsheba, as we learn from 2 Samuel 11:3. We do not hear of him again until the record is given of David’s mighty men in 2 Samuel 23. It is evident that he remained faithful to David, although he had even more reason to be upset than Ahithophel.
He is not mentioned in connection with Absalom’s rebellion, but he is mentioned in the list of David’s mighty men. Though, no doubt, feeling the harm done to his daughter, he evidently submitted to what God had allowed and continued to serve David. As a result, he occupies a place of honor in a very select list of those who distinguished themselves in David’s service. The wrong done to Eliam remained, and surely he could not forget it. The presence of Bathsheba in David’s court would be a continual reminder of what had happened.
Wrongs Righted Here or There?
It is not until the end of David’s life that Eliam is mentioned and his name honored. So wrongs may be done down here, serious wrongs, yet we may have to wait until the judgment seat of Christ for them to be set right. Surely it will be worth it all in that day, when we receive the approval of our blessed Master for our service to Him. It is easy to be tempted to take another path that might seem to be dealing with the wrong, but if done without the mind of the Lord, it will not prosper. We may well find ourselves like Ahithophel, losing further opportunity to serve our David because we have not left matters with the Lord.
Blessing Out of Failures
It is encouraging to see how God brings blessing even out of such serious failure. We know that Solomon, David’s heir to the throne, was born of Bathsheba, and it is recorded that the Lord loved him (2 Sam. 12:24). Also, we notice that David had other sons by Bathsheba, among them one named Nathan (1 Chron. 3:5). We may well suppose that he was named after Nathan the prophet who had faithfully spoken to David about his failure. This is likely the same Nathan named in Luke 3:31.
It is generally accepted that the genealogy in Matthew through Solomon is Joseph’s genealogy, being the lineage of the rightful king. That given in Luke is probably Mary’s genealogy, and it is striking that she too is descended from a son of Bathsheba, although not one who sat on the throne.
Well might we say with the Apostle Paul, “How unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past finding out!” (Rom. 11:33). May God give us the grace to submit to His ways, knowing that they are not our ways and that true blessing is always in submitting to Him. In that day it will be worth it all!
W. J. Prost

Sharing in His Sorrows

“O My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me: nevertheless not as I will, but as Thou wilt” (Matt. 26:39).
If you go through the world as a child of God and mark the sorrows of Christ with the thought of sharing them in some small measure, you will see if they do not in this aspect also become very precious to you, showing that what His life was down here, yours is to be. Are we to expect better fare, a smoother path, than our blessed Lord? If the thousandth part of His sorrows came on one of us, we could not bear it—it would destroy us—but we can, in our little measure, follow after and taste of His cup of sorrow.
G. V. Wigram

Spend Time With Them!

Twenty-first-century pressures require parents to exercise great care in raising children in the “nurture and admonition of the Lord.” The world’s demands will, if allowed, rob parents of precious, private moments spent with their children. Such quiet times are especially necessary in this unloving world. Dear Dad and Mom, your beloved lambs need more than discipline—they need your time! While it’s true that free time is a rare commodity, can you think of anything better to spend it on than those irreplaceable treasures that God has entrusted to your care?
The father speaking in Proverbs 23:26 says, “My son, give me thine heart, and let thine eyes observe my ways.” Notice it does not say my children—no, it is individual—a one-on-one relationship. The father is seeking to win his son’s heart, not just his mind.
Parents, if you don’t win your child’s heart in love, you’ll have great difficulty gaining that ear in training. And one of the most effective ways to win a child’s heart is to spend private time with them as often as possible—preferably, each day.
Dad, you may not be terribly interested in playing with your daughter’s dolls, but ten minutes of such private play time will produce a lasting bond of love.
Mom, you might not think that sitting on the floor driving toy cars with your little boy is the most profitable way to spend your valuable time—but gaining his love and trust is worth the expense. Oh! spend time with them now while there’s opportunity!
“A right way for us, and for our little ones” (Ezra 8:21).

The Sunshine of His Love

Ed. Note: Five months after my Grandma Nicolet went home to be with the Lord and two months before he went home to be with the Lord, my Grandpa Nicolet wrote the following verses which he included in a letter to an acquaintance.
I have been alone with Jesus,
With my head upon His breast,
For I was so very weary
That I wanted there to rest.
Then He bade me stay awhile,
And I found it very precious
In the sunshine of His love.
Shall I tell you what He told me
While I still was waiting there?
For it took away my trouble,
And it took away my care.
Oh! He told me that He loves me
And I was so very happy,
As He looked on me and smiled.
Then He bade me stay awhile,
And I felt it very precious
In the sunshine of His love.
C. Nicolet
Jesus said: “Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).

"The Lord Is My Shepherd"

It is not what He gives which assures the heart, but Himself. “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want” (Psa. 23). Power, grace, goodness, interest in the faithful One, all assure—and assure in all circumstances and forever and always. He has undertaken and has charged Himself with the care of His faithful ones. These cannot want. We have not to think of what may come or what means may be employed. The Shepherd’s care is our assurance.
The natural fruit of His care is fresh and green pastures in security and the peaceful enjoyment of the sure refreshings of goodness.
Man, specially the remnant, and Christ Himself are in the midst of oppressing sorrow and death and in presence of mighty enemies. Is the soul troubled and bowed down? He restores it. Does it go through the valley of the shadow of death? Does death cast its dark gloom over the spirit that must go down into its shade? He is there, greater than death, to guide and sustain. Are powerful and relentless enemies there to alarm and threaten? They are powerless before Him.
He dresses a table for His beloved, where they sit down in safety and secure. Divine unction is the seal of power, when all is against us. Human weakness, death and spiritual powers of wickedness all are only the occasions to show most evidently that the Lord, the Shepherd, is the infallible safeguard of His people.
J. N. Darby

Thoughts on Christian Fasting

Fasting is publicly practiced in many Christian groups, but it seems to me by what the Lord Jesus says in Matthew 6:16-18 that it is meant to be something done privately [without a public display]. In Acts 13 there were several doing it together, but even there it did not seem to be the whole assembly that was involved—only individuals are mentioned.
Fasting means to deny yourself something that is not wrong in itself. The Lord Jesus said, “If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.” It’s not necessarily only food that we deny ourselves; it may be many other things—a recreational activity, time spent in some sort of relaxation, or, perhaps, a shopping trip. None of those things are morally wrong in themselves. But when there is some particular need, we deny ourselves those things for the Lord’s sake. The whole Christian life is denying ourselves that Christ may be seen. See 1 Peter 2:11.
This is why fasting is almost always mentioned in conjunction with prayer or ministering to the Lord. Prayer is the major part of fasting—so important that eating [or anything else] becomes insignificant. If your brother or sister were sick to the point of death and someone offered you a big meal, would you feel like eating? There’s nothing wrong with eating; it’s just that there is something so much more important and you give yourself to that.
It is so easy to get under the power of things around. Food can be something that we enjoy so much that we get under the power of it. The same can happen easily with music, sports or other things. These things can become just as addicting as even strong drink or drugs. We have to learn to say no.
Paul said that he would not be brought under the power of any (1 Cor. 6:12). I think it might be good for us to test ourselves whether we can really do without what we think to be so important. I believe we might find that these things have much more power over us than we realize.
In Isaiah 58:3-12 we find that real fasting, which is pleasing to God, is to help those under heavy burdens, to share your bread with the hungry, or to cover those that don’t have covering. Instead of having a whole piece of bread, I share it with someone who is needy. I still eat, but only half a piece now. I am denying myself what I would normally eat. Seeing a person who has no clothes, I give him one of my shirts. Now, instead of two I have only one shirt, so that he can be covered.
Maybe instead of going to a ball game, I go to see some elderly shut-in who needs encouragement. I may think that going to a ball game isn’t wrong, but I go there to please myself. Going to visit that old sister or brother wasn’t what I would have chosen naturally. But I deny myself for the Lord’s sake.
In our affluent culture, denying ourselves does not seem necessary or feasible. We can find all sorts of excuses not to deny ourselves. We have to go against the current of this world’s philosophy, which is (specially in the Western world) self-pleasing. The characteristic of true Christianity is self-denial.
R. Thonney (adapted from the YP Forum)

Thoughts on Self-Esteem

The world’s view 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 surely 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 He gets all the glory.
W. J. Prost
Ed. Note: This excerpt is taken from a booklet on the subject of self-esteem that is available from Bible Truth Publishers (Addison, Illinois) and Bibles & Publications (Montreal, Quebec).

Thoughts on Separation

“Come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord” (2 Cor. 6:17).
“What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder” (Mark 10:9).
Good Separation
In Genesis 1:4, we find the first mention of separation: “God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.” This gives a vital moral principle seen throughout Scripture—separation from evil. This is the path of happiness for those in Christ, and it is the only path of joy and communion. May our hearts be exercised to walk in separation from all that is of this “present evil world.”
Bad Separation
But the enemy of our souls would seek to bring in separation where God has never intended it to be—marriage, home, family and assembly.
Pharaoh wanted to destroy the strength of God’s people (Ex. 1:16, 22). Even after experiencing some of the awful plagues, he only consented to let the men leave (Ex. 10:9-11). Pharaoh wanted to separate the children from the influence of their fathers—to separate the wives from the love of their husbands—to separate families from fathers’ guidance.
Dear dads and moms! Let nothing take away those precious times you have now with your spouses, your children, and your home. While we do have work responsibilities in life, we too often allow frivolous things to steal precious free time—separating us from our families and brethren. May it not be so!

Thoughts on the Present Day

“Now unto Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think” (Eph. 3:20).
“James  .  .  .  to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad” (James 1:1).
“All seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ’s” (Phil. 2:21).
We could hardly find a more appropriate expression to describe the glorious results of the finished work of our Lord Jesus Christ than exceeding abundantly above all we ask or think, nor one to describe the present state of Christendom under the governing hand of God than scattered abroad, nor one more descriptive of the path of Christendom’s decline than all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ’s.
Although the spiritual state of those to whom James writes would not admit the unfolding of the truths of our common salvation as Paul does, he addresses them as a kind of firstfruits of His [God’s] creatures—the first and most excellent witnesses of that power of good which will shine forth hereafter in the new creation.
God began this church day [dispensation] by uniting some from among those scattered ones in singleness of heart—of one heart and of one soul (Acts 2,4). None spoke of their own things (Acts 4), for they were as “those that possessed not” (1 Cor. 7:30). There was an Object before their affections which surpassed all, and He laid claim to all, even to their words and opinions (1 Cor. 1:10). They had seen the Lord Jesus, the Man in the glory.
How sad when the apostles must later speak of those who sought their own things: The assembly was theirs (1 Peter 5:3 JnD), the world was theirs (1 Cor. 7:31), their spiritual gift was theirs (1 Cor. 9:18), and their life was theirs (Phil. 2:21). We indeed have all things, but it is with Him—that One who in love would have nothing that was not for the benefit of others (Rom. 8:32). Nothing so scatters as treating the things of Christ as my own things.
W. Warr

Three Aspects of Forgiveness

Having known the forgiveness of God and being called of Him to forgive as He does, it is important that we be familiar with three different aspects of forgiveness. To make them easy to remember, we have called them eternal forgiveness, paternal forgiveness and fraternal forgiveness.
Eternal Forgiveness
This is the pardon that the soul receives when it receives the Lord Jesus Christ as personal Saviour. It is a complete and eternal pardon of all our sins righteously given by God who is forever satisfied by the work of Christ on the cross. This forgiveness forever shelters us from the eternal consequences which our sins deserved. It will never have to be repeated for one who has received Christ as personal Saviour. See Luke 23:34, Romans 4:7, and Colossians 2:13.
Paternal Forgiveness
Once we have received eternal forgiveness, we are in the family of God. It is possible, however, that, even being sons of God, we might sin. These sins do not jeopardize our eternal salvation, but they do affect, each time, our fellowship with God. As a believer, we must confess to God the sin committed to receive the Father’s forgiveness and be restored to happy fellowship with the Father and the Son. This answers to 1 John 1:8-10 and chapter 2:12 (see also Luke 15:11-32). Eternal forgiveness establishes our relationship with God as Father; the Father’s paternal forgiveness enables us to resume the enjoyment of that relationship.
Fraternal Forgiveness
There are two main aspects of brotherly forgiveness: individual forgiveness and collective forgiveness. If we have sinned against another, this failure needs to be confessed to God to obtain fatherly forgiveness and then it must also be confessed to the one against whom we have sinned in order to obtain their personal forgiveness and thus restore fellowship with them.
If the two are at fault, then mutual forgiveness is in order. Fraternal or brotherly forgiveness applies to all our relationships with other believers (and unbelievers too), as well as our relationships in our family circle. This aspect of forgiveness is presented in Matthew 5:23-26; 18:15-18; 18:21-35, Ephesians 4:32, Colossians 3:13 and James 5:16.
A sin bringing great dishonor on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ should exercise the consciences of the brethren in the assembly. Such sin is covered, as all others, by the precious blood of Christ, but the believer needs not only to confess this sin to the Father, but he must also confess it to his brethren that they may also forgive him collectively.
If the erring one has been placed under assembly discipline, now, being restored, they can enjoy anew the full fellowship in the assembly (1 Cor. 5:1,13; 2 Cor. 2:5-11; John 20:23; Matt. 18:18). Our God is a God of pardon and forgiveness (Neh. 9:17; Psa. 130:4; Dan. 9:9; Micah 7:18).
In summary, in the first we have the forgiveness the Son has obtained for us while we were yet sinners. In the second we have the forgiveness the Father gives His children, while in the third, we have the forgiveness the Spirit gives between the saints themselves. May we in this be imitators of our loving God and Father, that we forgive one another also.
“Forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye” (Col. 3:13).
“This is My commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you” (John 15:12).
M. Payette (adapted)

Three Things the Lord Desires

During the little while, the interval of waiting until the Lord Jesus Christ comes for us, what does our Lord expect of us here? Revelation 22 gives the answer. Verse 7: “Behold, I come quickly: blessed is he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this Book.” Thus He teaches us [first] that obedience is what He prizes in His own while they await His coming. Obedience, as we know from John 14, is proof of our love.
He then speaks again [secondly]: “Behold, I come quickly; and My reward is with Me, to give every man according as his work shall be” (vs. 12). Here we are taught that He looks for faithfulness in His servants and, moreover, that He will recompense them accordingly (compare Luke 19:12-26).
Again, and for the last time, He speaks: “He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly” (vs. 20). The response of John is, “Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus”—a response which should flow spontaneously from the heart of every saint. Thus we are taught [thirdly] that during the little while we wait, our affections are very precious to Him.
These, then, are the three things which He looks for from us now: obedience, faithfulness and affection.
“Then they that feared the Lord spake often one to another: and the Lord hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before Him for them that feared the Lord, and that thought upon His name” (Mal. 3:16).
E. Dennett (adapted from a letter)

Too Deep for Words

“As one whom his mother comforteth, so will I comfort you” (Isa. 66:13). “Blessed be God  .  .  . the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort” (2 Cor. 1:3).
A mother comforts in at least three ways—when her child has been (1) disappointed, (2) injured, or (3) some treasure has been lost. She takes the child in her arms and presses it to her heart. It may be no word is spoken. The sorrow is too deep for words and words too poor, at present, to soothe. And so the only thing is to draw the child as close to her as she can and make it feel that the grief is understood and shared—that whatever has happened, a mother’s love remains, better than all.
And so with God. “As one whom his mother comforteth, so will I comfort you.” He overshadows us with His presence; He makes us lean upon His arm; He allows us to find a place upon His bosom; He hides us near His heart. Here again, no word is spoken either by Him or us. He only makes us conscious that He is near and we are in His presence. We realize that He covers us “with His feathers,” and “under His wings” (Psa. 91:4) we can trust, because we “abide under the shadow of the Almighty” (Psa. 91:1).
Excerpt from Gems From My Reading

Transparency Without Fear

“Jehovah, Thou hast searched me, and known me” (Psa. 139:1 JnD).
“Giving thanks to the Father, who has made us fit for sharing the portion of the saints in light” (Col. 1:12 JnD).
This morning I was enjoying the thought in Colossians 1:12 when I realized how hard we labor at times to hide who we really are from friends, brethren, and, saddest of all, even from our spouses. We sometimes live in fear that some past, private failure in our life (which has been confessed to the Lord and forgiven by the Lord) might suddenly become public knowledge, causing even those who love us most to be at least temporarily stumbled or disillusioned by knowing of such things.
But, how liberating to know that all the blaze of the coming glory will never discover anything that the blood of Christ has not put away to the eternal glory of the Father. I can come with total liberty into His holy presence. He knows my downsitting and uprising and is acquainted with all my ways. He didn’t save me because of what I tried to appear to be before men, but because He knew all about the darkest secrets of my life and yet sovereignly loved me and gave His Son to provide a righteous basis on which He could make me fit for His holy presence.
So at the end of Psalm 139, David says, “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts” (Psa. 139:23).
R. K. Gorgas (adapted)


“They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters; these see the works of the Lord, and His wonders in the deep” (Psa. 107:23-24).
It is in the day of trial that the soul experiences something of the deep and untold blessedness of being able to count on God. Were all to go on smoothly, this would not be so. It is not in gliding along the surface of a tranquil lake that the reality of the Master’s presence is felt, but actually when the tempest roars and the waves roll over the ship.
The Lord does not hold out to us the prospect of exemption from trial. He tells us we shall have to meet such, but He promises to be with us in trials, and this is infinitely better.
The Master’s presence with His faithful servants while passing through the furnace was better far than the display of His power to keep them out of it (Dan. 3). We would frequently desire to be allowed to pass on our way without trial, but this would involve serious loss. The Lord’s presence is never so sweet as in moments of appalling difficulty.
C. H. Mackintosh (from Gems From My Reading)

The True Secret of Ministry

“Take ye no thought how or what thing ye shall answer, or what ye shall say: for the Holy Ghost shall teach you in the same hour what ye ought to say” (Luke 12:11-12). “Settle it therefore in your hearts, not to meditate before what ye shall answer: for I will give you a mouth and wisdom” (Luke 21:14-15).
The true secret of ministry is spiritual power. It is not man’s genius or man’s intellect or man’s energy. A ministry which flows from abiding dependence upon the Holy Spirit can never become barren.
If a man is drawing upon his own resources, he will soon run dry. It matters not what his powers may be or how extensive his reading or how vast his stores of information; if the Holy Spirit be not the spring and power of his ministry, it must, sooner or later, lose its freshness and its effectiveness.
W. Kelly (from Gems From My Reading)

Trusting in Christ

“Thus saith the Lord; Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the Lord” (Jer. 17:5).
Their danger was in trusting in man and the arm of flesh. When the state of things becomes thoroughly evil and corrupt, the only object of trust is God. We must look to Him, and such is the blessing of the Lord that if we only confide in Him, no day is so dark but what God can give us the richest blessings and the light of His presence.
W. Kelly (from Gems From My Reading)

Two Essentials for Our Wilderness Path

We have the priesthood of Christ above and the Word of God here. The priesthood of Christ, at the Father’s right hand, applies to all our infirmities, failure, trials and weakness, but not our flesh. Our High Priest is full of tenderness and mercy (see Heb. 4:15-16). He sustains us according to the blessing, which is given us entirely out of the reach of the flesh.
His fitness for this work is the title of His person (Heb. 5:5-6), and God says He is worthy: “Thou art My Son” (Heb. 1:5). In the title for office as priest, He is forever after the order of Melchisedec.
The Word of God is living and powerful (Heb. 4:12). The believer’s life through this world is the judgment of the flesh by the Word.
N. Berry

Unchanging Church Truths

Today the word “church” is often used for a collection of “Christian” people who have formed an organization and are known by the name they have chosen for it. Also, it often refers to the building where the people meet. Scripture does not use the word in the sense of a building. It does use the word to refer to a collection or assembly of people. But “the church of God” and the churches of men are not the same thing.
The Greek word “ecclesia” has been translated into English as “church” and as “assembly.” Since the word “church” has been so misused, we will use the word “assembly” instead, and Scripture quotations are from the JND translation.
An assembly is a collection of people. “Speak unto all the assembly of the children of Israel” (Lev. 19:2). “Having said these things, he dismissed the assembly” (Acts 19:41). “When ye come together in assembly” (1 Cor. 11:18).
God’s Assembly
God has formed His assembly of people who before His calling were Jews or Gentiles. “Give no occasion to stumbling, whether to Jews, or Greeks, or the assembly of God” (1 Cor. 10:32). He has purchased them with the blood of His own Son (Acts 20:28). He, not man, adds to the assembly. “The Lord added [to the assembly] daily those that were to be saved” (Acts 2:47).
God’s assembly exists all the time, even when those in it are not gathered together. “If therefore the whole assembly come together in one place” (1 Cor. 14:23). When gathered together, they are “in assembly” (1 Cor. 11:18). Only when so gathered does the assembly act. “Being gathered together, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 5:4).
God’s assembly is one whole. Those in a geographical location may be distinguished from the whole, but they are not to be separated in thought or action from the whole. Those in a place represent and are viewed as the whole in that place. “To the assembly of God which is in Corinth.” “Ye are Christ’s body, and members in particular” (1 Cor. 1:2; 1 Cor. 12:27).
The Body and Bride of Christ
God has formed His assembly as “the bride” for His Son. Christ, the head, and she, the body, form “the Christ” (1 Cor. 6:15), just as God created the male and female and blessed them and “called their name Adam” (Gen. 5:2).
The Dwelling-Place of God
God is preparing His assembly to be an eternal dwelling-place for Himself.
“Yourselves also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house” (1 Peter 2:5). “Jesus Christ Himself being the corner-stone, in whom all [the] building fitted together increases to a holy temple in the Lord; in whom ye also are built together for a habitation of God in [the] Spirit” (Eph. 2:20-22).
The House of God
The place where God dwells among His people and where they come to meet Him is His house. (Notice 2 Samuel 7:6 and Leviticus 17:5-9.) Those in the house are to be behave in a manner which honors the house owner. As God is true, so His house is responsible to be the pillar and support of truth. Paul wrote to Timothy to “know how one ought to conduct oneself in God’s house, which is [the] assembly of [the] living God, [the] pillar and base of the truth” (1 Tim. 3:15). The assembly is a responsible “candlestick” to display the light and love of God in this present world (Rev. 2-3).
The Lord
God has appointed His Son as head over all things (Heb. 3:46; Eph. 1:22). He is head over His body, the assembly, and He is Lord of each individual in it. As Lord, He has a table, His table, where His own are to sit down with Him to partake of His supper in remembrance of Him (1 Cor. 10-11). When one partakes of the bread and wine, he expresses that he is part of the one body of Christ.
Within and Without
God speaks of a “within” and a “without” in respect to His assembly (1 Cor. 5:12; 1 Thess. 4:12). “Without God judges” (1 Cor. 5:13). For those “within,” God has given directions dealing with all matters concerning the order, conduct and maintenance of truth. Christ is in charge of all, and He directs all by the guidance and power of the Spirit, which indwells each member of the body. If one teaches or practices evil, it must be judged, and such a one must be removed from among those within (1 Cor. 5).
God and Man As Builders
When God is a builder, the materials and workmanship are perfect, and so “all [the] building fitted together increases to a holy temple in the Lord” (Eph. 2:21). Also, God has made man a builder and he is warned to take care “how he builds upon” the foundation (1 Cor. 3:10). All the work and the materials used in the construction will be tested by fire, which shall destroy all that is not of God.
A Great House
The foundation of God’s house is Christ, and “other foundation can no man lay besides that which [is] laid” (1 Cor. 3:11). Sadly, man has introduced bad material into God’s house, and it now contains vessels of wood and earth (unbelievers). In fact, the house has become so contaminated that God no longer calls it His, but instead He calls it “a great house.” Today this house is often called Christendom or the house of profession.
If one belongs to Christ, he is not to leave the house, for no other foundation can be laid. But, instead, God gives careful instructions for how one is to live in this house as a clean vessel, useful to the Master (2 Tim. 14).
Formation, History, Destiny
When Christ was on earth, the assembly did not yet exist. Before His death, Christ declared to the disciples, “I will build my church.” Fifty days after the Lord’s resurrection (the day of Pentecost), God formed His assembly as “one body” by the Holy Spirit (Acts 2).
By God’s workmen the “good news” is presented to men. When they believe the gospel of their salvation, they are redeemed, cleansed, indwelt by the Spirit of God, added to God’s assembly, and so become living stones in His building and vessels of value in His house. Today that building is “increasing.”
The bride now lives in a world that must be judged for its rebellion against God and rejection of His Son, the Bridegroom. Soon the Father will send His Son to fetch home His bride for the wedding (1 Thess. 4; Rev. 19). Then, He, with His wife at His side, will execute the necessary judgments decreed by God upon the rebellious inhabitants of the earth. As King of kings and Lord of lords, He will reign over all created things in heaven, on earth and under the earth, to God the Father’s glory.
The Assembly Today
While men may form many organizations and call them churches, God has just one—one assembly, one building, one habitation, one house, one body—and that one body is united to her one Head to form the one “Christ.”
Today, the assembly, as responsible to God and for God, has become a great house and a miserable failure. As a candlestick for God, it will be put aside. In mercy, God has provided instructions so that each individual may still walk in obedience to the Word, may do so with others, and may still, by the guidance and power of the Spirit, sit down with the Lord at His table until He come.
Today, the Bridegroom, Christ, “nourishes and cherishes” the assembly. He is the Saviour of the body. He has delivered Himself up for it, and He is sanctifying it and purifying it that He might present it to Himself glorious, holy and blameless. The result of His work will be a perfect bride on the wedding day (Eph. 5:24-31).
D. F. Rule

Victory Over Discouragement

“They journeyed  .  .  .  by way of the Red sea, to compass the land of Edom: and the soul of the people was much discouraged because of the way” (Num. 21:4).
There are two things that seem to characterize Christians in this closing time of the day of grace: weariness and discouragement. We find these also existed among the children of Israel in Numbers.
In the verses that follow, because of the people’s sin, fiery serpents come among the people and many die. But there was a remedy—only look upon the brass serpent (a type of Christ) and they would live. So, too, the remedy for our sin is found in Christ.
However, I would like to suggest another application of this portion. In Scripture, a serpent often pictures the enemy—Satan. Perhaps the people became vulnerable to the attacks of the enemy when their condition was one of discouragement and they no longer appreciated or enjoyed God’s gracious and full provision for them.
Attacks of the Enemy
So, too, I believe we Christians are more vulnerable to the attacks of the enemy when we get weary or discouraged. And though we still walk in flesh (2 Cor. 10:3), we have to realize that our enemy will always try to give us wrong thoughts of God and the path of faith—the very thoughts that are prone to make us weary and discouraged. But let us remember that while we cannot prevent wrong thoughts from entering our minds, we can reject them—we can keep them from finding a place in our hearts and minds to take root.
Remember, too, the enemy may even try to fool us by using Scripture wrongly, as he did to the Lord Jesus (Matt. 4; Luke 4). If Scriptures that come to our minds are from the Lord, they ought to provide peace. Satan will never provide us with true peace. “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27).
Beloved brethren, let us consider, in view of our circumstances, the source of our thoughts related to them. Perhaps one may agonize over the future or have been hurt in a relationship. Maybe one has been stumbled by other believers. Perhaps you’re being tempted and pressured by the world. We read in 1 Peter 5:8, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour. ” There is a reason Scripture compares our enemy to the king of beasts. If you belong to the Lord, Satan will seek, at every opportunity, to destroy your testimony and your life. But there is every reason for encouragement, even in the darkest of times through which a believer may pass.
The Impossible Is Possible
How good to remember that “greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world” (1 John 4:4). It is not our portion to fight this enemy. “Ye shall not need to fight in this battle.  .  .  .  Stand  .  .  .  still, and see the salvation of the Lord” (2 Chron. 20:17). We are to stand against his attacks of guile and subtlety by putting on the whole armor of God (see Eph. 6). In resisting the devil, he flees from us (James 4:7). But it is our Lord that will fight the battle for us. “Be not afraid nor dismayed by reason of this great multitude; for the battle is not yours, but God’s” (2 Chron. 20:15).
“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).
M. Bruce (adapted)

Visual Temptations

What has recently impressed me is how fiction [and its visual presentation through electronic media] is mixed with nonfiction in our culture. It is to the point that it seems that some people’s minds operate almost entirely in the realm of the unreal. That is dangerous. I read sometime ago a debate about whether what we watch with our eyes affects us, and a larger percentage of those that participated thought that it did not—but God’s Word says, “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.” In other words, we indeed are what we think about. It is interesting how much Scripture has to say about our thinking.
Here are a few examples: “Be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Rom. 12:2). “Bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (2 Cor. 10:5). “Be renewed in the spirit of your mind” (Eph. 4:23). “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 2:5). “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest  .  .  . think on these things” (Phil. 4:8). “Set your affection [margin: mind] on things above” (Col. 3:2).
“Gird up the loins of your mind (1 Peter 1:13).
R. Thonney

The Wall of Truth and Some Gaps

It’s true that a wall [or a “fence”], like a chain, is only as strong as its weakest place or link. We have valuable lessons in Isaiah 22:5-14 regarding Israel’s wall around Jerusalem.
Like our present day, “It is a day of trouble  .  .  .  and of perplexity” (vs. 5). But notice who was causing it —the Lord! Instead of Israel’s realizing this, what did they look at? Their own strength, for they looked “that day to the armor of the house of the forest” (vs. 8).
Are we not doing the same today? Looking at the circumstances and at our holiness and strength? They were even breaking down the houses to fix up the wall. What were they missing? The mind of the Lord. Let us look at three details.
1. They were not realizing that the gaps in the wall and the enemy at the gate were “by” or from “the Lord God of hosts.” What a mistake we are making when we forget that the Lord is allowing our distresses because of our own willfulness.
2. They were spending their energy to repair the breaks which the enemy had made, but they weren’t looking at the One who made the armor.
3. The Lord had something better for them—He told them to try weeping and mourning (vs. 12). Now look to see what they did instead, saying, “We shall die” (vs. 13). Depression set in. We are living in the very last, difficult days which Paul speaks of in 2 Timothy 3:1. May we turn our eyes upon Christ to be changed into His image (2 Cor. 3:18) and turn our eyes on ourselves to judge our pride and self-importance.
N. Berry

What Is Love?

One day while working on the
As workers played their radios
I heard some words, in wail
and sob,
Sung forth by one before his
The singer’s plea, in anguished
Rang in my ears long past his
The cries seemed deeper than
my bones;
I feared for those who sang
“I want to know what love is!”
”I want you to show me!” was
the appeal,
That caused my spirit thus to
The shouts, the cry, seemed all
too real.
It seemed to me the uncon-
scious cry
Of every soul without the Lord;
Longing for love until they die,
Blindly they reach but miss the
The first that struck me like a
The fact that “God is love” and
To know this deep within your
To know that Jesus died for
Yes, Love came down,
Became a man, from glory high
to cross so low!
Infinite Love was stronger than
That was dealt by every blow!
True love is stronger by far
than death;
It drew the blood that flows to
Yes, Christ surrendered up His
To conquer sin and death and
I wish for you, my friend, to
This Love which died to save
your soul,
And have the peace that you
will go
To be with Christ at heaven’s
“I want you to show me!” hit
real hard!
This second line that gripped
my thought;
In walk and talk and all regard,
My life must show, oh yes, it
For all, Love came and stooped
so low,
The world around us in its
How will they know if we
don’t show
Each day while working on the
M. Breman
“God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved” (John 3:17).

What Shall We Ask for Our Little Child?

What shall we ask for our little child?
Shall we ask for fame in this world defiled?
For the dear-bought wisdom of earthly springs?
Or a skillful hand in the use of things?
Oh no, our wishes much higher go
Than the highest mount with its cap of snow,
And the heart’s desire must wider be
Than the utmost stretch of the boundless sea.
We ask for the blessing of God above
And an early sense of the Saviour’s love,
An early share of His wondrous grace
And an early start to seek His face.
A soul that is cleansed by the Saviour’s blood,
A heart that is kept by the peace of God,
Where the very God of peace may dwell,
His holy secrets of love to tell.
Feet that shall walk in the path of life
And follow the Lamb through stress and strife,
That, following on through pain and loss,
It may learn the worth of the Saviour’s cross.
A place in the heart for the words of truth
And Jesus for guide from the earliest youth;
Great things we ask for our little child—
A place in God’s universe undefiled.
A home in the place where His Son supreme
And His wondrous cross are the dearest theme.
“The wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23).

The Whole Body

The believer’s heart is waiting for the Lord from heaven (1 Thess. 1:10).
The believer’s eyes are watching for His appearing (Heb. 10:25).
The believer’s hands are working, abounding in “every good work” (2 Cor. 9:8).
The believer’s feet are walking—in love (Eph. 5:2).
The believer’s ears are listening. Jesus said, “Hear, and understand” (Matt. 15:10).
The believer’s mouth is glorifying God. “With one mind and one mouth glorify God” (Rom. 15:6).
N. Berry

Why Did You Do That?

“When thy son asketh thee in time to come, saying, What is this?” (Ex. 13:14).
“When your children ask their fathers in time to come, saying, What mean ye?” (Josh. 4:6).
Beloved parents, mark well the vitally important moral principle found in these two passages!
Children are very accurate observers of all they see you do. Your actions in daily life, dear Dad and Mom, tell them if you’re loving and living for Christ. They will ask, “What is this?” regarding everything they see you do.
If you live in love for Him, then your words about Him will carry real moral power with your children, causing them to further ask, “What do you mean?”
Dad and Mom, don’t let this world’s life and career responsibilities or its recreations and attractions so capture your heart that your children see there is something more important to you in life than Jesus Christ!

A Word of Comfort

In times of devastating tragedy, how comforting to recline in faith upon the unchanging Word of God. We trust that the following from Gems From My Reading may provide fresh solace to each of our dear readers.

A Word of Encouragement

“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).
We see first that “they shall mount up with wings as eagles.” You say, “There are a lot of problems in my life, and I can’t seem to get above them.” The Lord can help you to rise above them. But you say, “Well, I haven’t yet risen above them.”
But it next says, “They shall run, and not be weary.” Maybe you can’t get above them, but you can run. “Lord, Thou hast drawn us after Thee; now let us run, and never tire” (Little Flock Hymnbook, #166). But you say, “I can’t even run; I’m just walking.”
But, then, isn’t it lovely, “They shall walk, and not faint.” Another may say, “I can’t seem to run. I see other Christians happy and enjoying these things, but it just doesn’t seem to be my portion, I guess.” Well, perhaps you are just walking, but don’t faint.
The Lord will give you the strength. He understands you and He loves you. Even when we get slowed down—and sometimes we do in our Christian pathway—isn’t it blessed to know that He gives us the strength even just to walk along.
But don’t stop—don’t give in to the thought, “Well, I’m just going to give up.” No, it says that “they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength.” He is able to give you the strength that you need in whatever circumstances of life you may find yourself.
“Jesus Himself drew near, and went with them” (Luke 24:15).
G. H. Hayhoe (adapted)

A Word of Encouragement to the Young

“Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward” (Gen. 15:1).
Abram had taken a stand (in Genesis 14) and the Lord knew he was going to need encouragement. We need to be encouraged in these last days when it is so easy to say things which discourage. But the Lord comes to Abram after his conflict and rejection of the king of Sodom and tells him that He will protect him.
The Lord will protect you, dear young person. You will never lose anything worthwhile while seeking to follow Christ.
Though it is not right to flatter one another, how often do we fail to speak a little word of encouragement to one another. The enemy will always try to discourage you after you have tried to do something for the Lord. Let’s not fail to try to encourage one another in the path of faith.
Jonathan went out to fight and he was apparently about to turn back when his armor-bearer spoke a little word of encouragement. He went forward and won a great victory (1 Sam. 14).
When the Apostle Paul was arrested and thrown in prison, he might have been discouraged! But we read “the Lord stood by him, and said, Be of good cheer, Paul: for as thou hast testified of Me in Jerusalem, so must thou bear witness also at Rome” (Acts 23:11).
The Lord encouraged the beloved Apostle for the days that lay ahead, for he would be in prison for a long time—yet he never would forget that the Lord “stood by him.”
G. H. Hayhoe (from an address)

A Word to Brothers

I beg you earnestly, dear brother, to be diligent about your temporal business. I am very far from wishing to see you leave your work, but what our hand finds to do we are to do it with our might. Limit your expenses at once, if they exceed your income, and arrange your business as a good steward of the Lord.
Disorder in one’s business is dishonoring to the gospel, as being careful to increase our wealth like the world which dries up the soul. The Word has told us that it is the way and the root of every sort of evil (1 Tim. 6:10). The principles are simple: Live simply in order to be able to give of what one has, and to be faithful in one’s own things, making use of them as having been entrusted to us to have in order to use them according to the Lord. The Book of Proverbs teaches us clearly in detail about these things.
J. N. Darby (Letters; 1850)

A Word to Disciples

If God has called you to be like Jesus, He will draw you into a life of self-denial and humility. God’s call will put such demands of obedience on you that you will not be able to follow other people or measure yourself by other Christians. At times others will do things which He will not let you do.
Other Christians may push themselves forward and work schemes to carry out their plans. You cannot, and if you attempt it, you will meet with failure and rebuke from the Lord.
Others may boast of themselves, their work and their successes, but the Holy Spirit will not allow you to do any such thing, and if you begin, He will bring you to despise yourself and all your good works.
Others may succeed in making money, but God may keep you poor, wanting you to have a helpless dependence upon Him. Then He will demonstrate His love for you in supplying your needs day by day.
The Holy Spirit will watch you with a jealous love. He will rebuke the petty words and feelings. Make up your mind that God is sovereign and has the right to do as He pleases with His own. He does not owe you an explanation of these mysteries.
Settle it that the Spirit may use you in ways He does not seem to use with others. Remember that God does everything in perfect love and wisdom.
“Jesus saith unto him, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? follow thou Me” (John 21:22). “Whosoever will lose his life for My sake, the same shall save it” (Luke 9:24).
Adapted from a tract

A Word to Young Believers

“When much time was spent, and sailing was now dangerous, because the fast was now already past, Paul admonished them” (Acts 27:9).
When you’re young, it seems like it takes almost forever to get old enough to have the freedom to make your own choices. It’s as though you have spent much time in Fair Havens. But don’t make the mistake of hurrying to get away from safe, godly environments, just so you can be on your own.
“The fast was now already past.” What does that mean? Simply put, as you grow older, there will come a time when parental and other Christian constraints are loosened. Those constraints are like a fast (a time when a person denies themselves something).
The very time when you begin to experience your new liberty (a time when you do not have to deny yourself anything you want) is one of the most dangerous points in your journey of life.
As long as there have been limits (a fast)—boundaries and rules of right and wrong—you’ve been, in a measure, kept from moving according to your own will. You may little realize the wickedness, sorrow and corruption of this present evil world from which those restraining influences have spared you. But now the fast is past and sailing according to your own will has become very dangerous.
Allow your parents, your brethren and, above all, the precious Word of God to admonish you as to the dangers that lie along life’s pathway.
Not only listen, but fully submit to the Word of God. And give prayerful attention to words of warning and advice you may receive from parents and godly brethren. Ever remember that “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction” (Prov. 1:7).
From The Journey of Life (adapted)

Words of Exhortation to a Father

I hope you have learned to nurse your baby. We heard bad accounts of you in this respect. It is a charge the Lord has given you for higher purposes than this world. A child’s thorough confidence in the parents comes by tender care and laying oneself out a little for them under God’s goodness, though, of course, your little one is too young to be much in your care now, but affection begins early.
J. N. Darby (Letters, Vol. 3)

The World and the Heart

“Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?” (2 Cor. 6:14).
If a Christian gets into the world, the heart gets narrowed and then into deeper sin. The world is a great system, which the devil has built up around man, to give men their sphere of enjoyment.
J. N. Darby (from Gems From My Reading)

Your Temporal Business

I beg you earnestly, dear brother, to be diligent about your temporal business. You know well that I am very far from wishing to see you leave your work, but remember, what our hand finds to do we are to do it with our might (Eccl. 9:10).
Limit your expenses at once, if they exceed your income, and arrange your business as a good steward of the Lord. Disorder in one’s business is dishonoring to the gospel. Also, being careful to increase our wealth like the world dries up the soul. It is the root of every sort of evil (1 Tim. 6:10).
The principles are simple—live simply in order to be able to give of what one has. Be faithful in one’s own things, making use of them as having been entrusted to us to have in order to use them according to the Lord. Proverbs teaches us clearly in detail about these things.
J. N. Darby (from a letter; 1850)