To the Children of God Take Heed What Ye Hear Mark 4:24

Never were words more needed than the above — at this present time. When on the one hand the claims of a clergy to be exclusively heard meet us, and on the other hand man’s will runs rampant, and anybody and everybody claims to be heard; it is well to get away for a while from the Babel of tongues heard in Christendom, and take our seat at the feet of Jesus, and listen to what He would say to us as to the course we should take in the midst of it all, so as to be able to discern His voice and His messengers, from the voice of a stranger. At His feet once, His own dear disciples were warned,
In Mark, He adds,
The leaven of Herod (Mark. 8:15).
This leaven is explained to be the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees. The Pharisees may be said to have been the exponents of correct Jewish Ritualism, which was in truth a religion composed of rites and ceremonies ordained of God, till the heavenly things themselves came in, of which the former were a type. The Pharisees, said the Lord, sit in Moses’ seat (Matt. 23:22Saying, The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat: (Matthew 23:2)). They claimed to be the correct exponents of Moses’ law, adding, however, to it a number of their own traditions, and so (as the Lord said) making the Word of God of none effect by their tradition. (See Mark 7:9-139And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition. 10For Moses said, Honor thy father and thy mother; and, Whoso curseth father or mother, let him die the death: 11But ye say, If a man shall say to his father or mother, It is Corban, that is to say, a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; he shall be free. 12And ye suffer him no more to do ought for his father or his mother; 13Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye. (Mark 7:9‑13).) The Sadducees, on the other hand, denied resurrection, angels, and spirits (Acts 23:88For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, neither angel, nor spirit: but the Pharisees confess both. (Acts 23:8)). The Herodians were the followers of a Gentile worldly king who reigned in the land. Here we have, I have no doubt, the three principles at work in the present day. On the one side, we have a clergy claiming direct descent from the apostles, and standing up for what they call the correct idea of the Church, possessing apostolic succession, clergy and sacraments; at the same time, adding a multitude of traditions and rules to be observed, which practically take the place of, and set aside God’s Word. On the other, we are surrounded by a Rationalism which would take just as much of the Word of God as it likes, and make it bow to human reason. And in the third place, we have worldliness running rampant, a letting Pharisees and Sadducees settle their own disputes, and men giving themselves up to worldly grandeur, ease and luxury. Alas, also, amongst the narrower circle of the real people of God, we are sensible too of men arising, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them (Acts 20:3030Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. (Acts 20:30)). In the midst of it all, we have the Lord also speaking, by His own messengers, sent by Himself. How blessed to learn at His feet whom and what we are to hear! From Him, and from Him alone, can we learn how to make our way amid this Babel of tongues.
If we turn to the Word of God, we find two kinds of ministry in the Church of God, namely, “Gift” and “Office.” I quote two scriptures to make this plain.
When He ascended up on high, He led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men, . . . And He gave some apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ; till we all come, in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ (Eph. 4:8, 118Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. (Ephesians 4:8)
11And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; (Ephesians 4:11)
).
Now, here we find that the gifts of ministry have their Source in an ascended Christ; who, after He was exalted on high, sent down the Holy Ghost, and believers were all baptized into one body. The gifts were for the edifying of that body till it grew up into a perfect man when Christ came again. Thus the gifts of ministry, composed of evangelists, pastors and teachers, (for the apostles and prophets were the foundations,) were to continue for the edifying of the Church till Christ came.
On the other hand, there were the offices of bishop and deacon, mentioned in Timothy and Titus.
This is a faithful saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work (1 Tim. 3:11This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work. (1 Timothy 3:1)).
These were appointed by apostles (Acts 14:2323And when they had ordained them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed. (Acts 14:23)), or by Titus and Timothy, who were sent out by the apostles to do this work. (See Titus 1:5, 75For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee: (Titus 1:5)
7For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre; (Titus 1:7)
.) The bishops and elders were one and the same (Acts 20:17, 2817And from Miletus he sent to Ephesus, and called the elders of the church. (Acts 20:17)
28Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. (Acts 20:28)
). Thus the gifts went out direct from Christ, the Head of His body, and were to continue to the end. The official elders and deacons were appointed by apostles or their delegates, ordinarily accompanied by the laying on of hands. The clergy claim their title to be exclusively heard from the latter position. They claim, (at least the Episcopalians,) to have a direct descent from the apostles; that the line descended from Paul or Peter through Timothy and Titus, who sent out others, and so on, the right of appointing elders and deacons being vested in the present bishop. Well, supposing we allow them their claim, let us now look into the Word of God, and see with which order of ministers the truth of God remains.
We turn to the epistle to the Galatians, and what do we find there? An apostle speaks, who claims to be an apostle not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ (Gal. 1:11Paul, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead;) (Galatians 1:1)). He holds his commission as sent out from a glorified Christ, who had died out of the world, and had been raised from the dead by the glory of the Father. And this too in opposition to Judaizing teachers who were claiming connection with the twelve apostles at Jerusalem, and by it, pressing the law of Moses as binding on the Christians. On whose side was the truth? On the side of the minister who claimed to be not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, the glorified Man and Son of God: and what does he insist on? Why, that justification was by faith, without the deeds of the law; that Abraham’s example proved it (Gal. 3:6, 76Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness. 7Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham. (Galatians 3:6‑7)). That the law did not come in till 430 years after the promise of Christ made to Abraham, and that it could not annul this promise (ver. 17). It was not given for that purpose. It could give neither life nor righteousness, but only the knowledge of sin (ver. 21, 22). It was thus only a schoolmaster till Christ came, and then came the dispensation of faith setting it aside (ver. 23, 25). We are sons of God by faith in Christ, adopted out of the family of Adam, into the family of God; besides God had sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts crying, Abba Father (Gal. 4:4-64But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, 5To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. 6And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. (Galatians 4:4‑6)). Thus, justification, life, sonship and the seal of the Spirit are all shown to be received by grace through faith. The Christians (Gal. 5) were exhorted to stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ had made them free, walking by faith, and being led of the Spirit (Gal. 5:5, 6, 165For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. 6For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love. (Galatians 5:5‑6)
16This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. (Galatians 5:16)
). If they did so they were not under the law. Thus he insists on the blessed truths of justification by faith, life in Christ, adoption, and the seal of the Spirit, as well as a walk by faith, and in the Spirit (Gal. chapters 3, 4, 5), against the claims of these Judaizing teachers; and thus links all the blessed foundation truths we have in Christianity with a ministry that is not of man, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ.
We turn now to the Epistle to the Ephesians, and there we have all the counsels of God unveiled to us in regard to Christ, the Second Man, and our place in Him; 1st, as members of the family of God; 2ndly, as the body of Christ; and 3rdly, as the habitation of God through the Spirit (Eph. 1, 2). The Christians were to walk worthy of that vocation (Eph. 4:l), and were to be strengthened in their walk, by the supply of gifts from the Head, apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers (4:11). Here again we have the blessed fact of the highest truths ever unveiled to man, connected for their maintenance with a ministry not of man, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, for the gifts came direct from Him. And let me ask any candid reader whether this is not a fact in the present day, that the highest truths of God revealed in His Word are kept and held dear amongst the people that own such a ministry, who receive all the gifts Christ the Head sends, and who refuse to bear the assumptions of a man-ordained clergy, who although they claim descent from the apostles, cannot find any scripture to establish their claim.
This at once clears the ground from numbers who would claim us to go and hear them. We have seen that all the most blessed truths of Christianity as to justification, life in Christ, the presence of the Holy Ghost, and our position as members of the body of Christ, with the walk resulting therefrom, are connected with the gifts of ministry and not with the offices. In the Epistles to Timothy and Titus, the great subject treated of is the order and government of the house of God. The offices of elders and deacons are connected with this; the position which the clergy claim. But the highest truths brought out in these Epistles, are those of salvation having its Source in a Saviour-God (1 Tim. 1:11Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the commandment of God our Saviour, and Lord Jesus Christ, which is our hope; (1 Timothy 1:1)), and acting through one Mediator between God and man, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all (1 Tim. 2:3-63For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; 4Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. 5For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; 6Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time. (1 Timothy 2:3‑6)), and applied by the Holy Ghost (Titus 3:4-74But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, 5Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; 6Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; 7That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. (Titus 3:4‑7)). Thus the order and government of the Church are founded on grace and flow from God as its source. There was no house of God, no church but for this. Elders and deacons, were not channels for this grace to flow down, but for the maintenance of order in the Church in regard to its government. Thus the clergy, in taking the position of elders and deacons, are totally wrong in making themselves the channels of grace to the people, for these officials were not appointed for this at all, but for order and government in the Church, which indeed the clergy are always talking about, and which is necessary, but not in any way to be substituted for the foundation truths of Christianity.
We will turn back now for a moment to the Epistle to the Galatians (ch. 1:6, 7). There the Christians are warned against the teachers who would press upon them any other gospel than that which Paul preached. If a preacher were to press the law as binding on Christians, either for justification, deliverance from the power of sin, or walk, it is not the gospel of Paul, and the man who preached it was accursed. Let him come with what claims he likes, he is anathema. (Cp. ch. 1:8, 9, with 3:11, 21, 22; 5:5, 6, 16, 18.) Surely the Saviour’s word,
would come in here!
Again (Rom. 16:1717Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. (Romans 16:17)), we are to beware of those that cause divisions and contentions contrary to the doctrine we have learnt, and avoid them. What was the doctrine? Why, the good old doctrine that Jew and Gentile were all under sin, but that now the righteousness of God by faith of Jesus dead, risen and glorified was declared for their justification, and that apart from law (Rom. 3:9, 21, 22). That on their reception of Him by faith they were justified from all their sins (Rom. 4:19-2519And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sara's womb: 20He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; 21And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform. 22And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness. 23Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; 24But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; 25Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification. (Romans 4:19‑25)), reconciled to God (Rom. 5:1111And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement. (Romans 5:11)); delivered from the dominion of sin (Rom. 6), and their Adam condition, getting a new place in Him (Rom. 8:11There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. (Romans 8:1)) before God, who was their righteousness, peace (Rom. 5:1, 17, 181Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: (Romans 5:1)
17For if by one man's offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.) 18Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. (Romans 5:17‑18)
) and eternal life (Rom. 6:2323For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 6:23)); and the immediate seal of the Holy Ghost (Rom. 8:l6), who bore witness with their spirit that they were sons of God; and on that ground they were to present their bodies a living sacrifice to God (Rom. 12:11I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. (Romans 12:1)). The law, on the other hand, could neither justify, nor deliver from sin’s power: it could only prove guilty (Rom. 3), and give the knowledge of sin (Rom. 7). Now what do we find in Christendom generally? The utmost truth held is justification by faith, and that only from sins (Rom. 3, 4), and the law brought in afterwards, as binding, either to make perfect, or as a rule of life, instead of Christians seeing their place in Christ, (Rom. 8:11There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. (Romans 8:1)), they having died to sin, and having been made alive to God in Him (6:11). Thus by the word are we made to take heed again what we hear.
In Col. 2:88Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. (Colossians 2:8), the Christians were warned lest any man should spoil them through philosophy and vain deceit, after the traditions of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. Gentile philosophy, with its claims to superior knowledge, and which expressed itself in a voluntary humility and worshiping of angels (Col. 2:1818Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind, (Colossians 2:18)), and Jewish Ritualism, with its meats and drinks, and observances of days, were making inroads amongst them. But the Christians were shown their place as dead and risen with Christ, and as being complete in Him who was the Head of the assembly, as well as of all things; so that why was it, if they had died with Christ out of the world, that they were subject to these ordinances as though they were living in it? There were none of these strange doctrines and rites and ceremonies in heaven, and if they were risen with Christ, they were to seek those things which were above where Christ sat at the right hand of God (Col. 2:20; 3:1, 220Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances, (Colossians 2:20)
1If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. 2Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. (Colossians 3:1‑2)
). How blessedly simply it is, dear believers, to see that the death of Christ has delivered us from this Babel of strange tongues, and that by His resurrection, ascension, and the descent of the Holy Ghost, we are introduced into a scene where Christ reigns supreme, the Head and Center of a new creation, supplying us with the gifts of ministry He sends for our edification.
If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according, to godliness, he is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh evil, strife, railings, evil surmisings; perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness; from such withdraw thyself.
This no doubt is in connection with the truth brought out in the Epistle. Timothy had been left at Ephesus to charge certain people to hold no other doctrine than that Paul had taught (1 Tim. 1:33As I besought thee to abide still at Ephesus, when I went into Macedonia, that thou mightest charge some that they teach no other doctrine, (1 Timothy 1:3)). The end of the charge was, 1ove out of a pure heart and a good conscience and faith unfeigned (ver. 5). Some were turning away from this to Judaism, desiring to be teachers of the law ( ver. 6, 7). The true use of the law is then given, as it may be used always, even now that Christianity has been introduced, showing it was not made for a righteous man, but for the ungodly, etc., and contrasting it with grace, of which the apostle was an example ( ver. 8-17). Timothy was to hold fast faith and a good conscience, and then the charge is developed. Intercessions were to be made for all men, for kings and those in authority, on the ground that God was the Saviour-God, willing that all should be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth (1 Tim. 2:1-71I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; 2For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. 3For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; 4Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. 5For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; 6Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time. 7Whereunto I am ordained a preacher, and an apostle, (I speak the truth in Christ, and lie not;) a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and verity. (1 Timothy 2:1‑7)). God’s dealings with the world were on the basis of pure grace, but this was also the foundation for the order of the house of God which is now taken up. The man and the woman were to keep their proper place (ver. 8-15). The qualifications for bishops and deacons are shown. Timothy was thus to know how to behave himself in the house of God, the pillar and ground of the truth. Christ was the Center of all this, and of the truth according to godliness (l Tim. 3). There would be departure from this faith in the latter days (1 Tim. 4), fables and genealogies would come in, but Timothy was to hold fast this godliness, or piety, which was profitable for this life as well as for the next. If anybody speaks without regard to the doctrine which is according to godliness, as brought out in this Epistle, he is in danger of coming under the warning of ch. 6:3-5, by subverting the order of the house of God.
In regard to those causing sects and divisions, we have the rule in Titus 3:1010A man that is an heretick after the first and second admonition reject; (Titus 3:10): A man that is an heretic (or a man making sects, or a party in the Assembly), after the first and second admonition reject, knowing that he that is such is subverted and sinneth, being condemned of himself.
In 2 Pet. 2:11But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. (2 Peter 2:1), we are warned likewise against false teachers who privily would bring in damnable sects, even denying the Lord that bought them. This is evidenced around us, in men pressing a certain amount of truth perhaps as to the Lord’s coming, and then connecting their victims with the damnable doctrines of the denial of the everlasting punishment of the wicked, universal salvation, as well as the denial of the adorable Lord’s Person, either as to His deity or manhood or work of atonement. Fire is not fire, such men say; everlasting does not mean everlasting! Thus the evil begins. But as to these we have the comfort of knowing that the Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptation and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished (ver. 9). The two great marks of evil in connection with such teachers are, walking in uncleanness and despising government, rule, and authority (ver. 10).
The apostle John also warns the little children against the many antichrists who had already appeared; who either denied the Person of Christ according to the Jewish form of unbelief which denied that Jesus was the Christ, i.e. the Anointed (Prophet, Priest and King); or the Gentile form which denied the Father and the Son, who as God was the revealer of God in this character (1 John 2:22, 2322Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son. 23Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father: (but) he that acknowledgeth the Son hath the Father also. (1 John 2:22‑23)), or else they denied Him in His manhood (1 John 4:33And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world. (1 John 4:3)). A woman was forbidden to receive any one not bringing the doctrine of the Christ into her house. If she did she was partaker with him of his evil deeds (2 John 10-1310If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: 11For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds. 12Having many things to write unto you, I would not write with paper and ink: but I trust to come unto you, and speak face to face, that our joy may be full. 13The children of thy elect sister greet thee. Amen. (2 John 10‑13)). Gaius on the other hand is commended for receiving the brethren who preached the truth, and who went forth receiving nothing of the Gentiles, whilst the clerical claims of Diotrephes who would hot receive them and would cast such out of the Assembly (3 John 5-105Beloved, thou doest faithfully whatsoever thou doest to the brethren, and to strangers; 6Which have borne witness of thy charity before the church: whom if thou bring forward on their journey after a godly sort, thou shalt do well: 7Because that for his name's sake they went forth, taking nothing of the Gentiles. 8We therefore ought to receive such, that we might be fellowhelpers to the truth. 9I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not. 10Wherefore, if I come, I will remember his deeds which he doeth, prating against us with malicious words: and not content therewith, neither doth he himself receive the brethren, and forbiddeth them that would, and casteth them out of the church. (3 John 5‑10)) are disallowed.
Lastly, the Christians are found fault with in Rev. 2:1414But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication. (Revelation 2:14), for allowing those who held the doctrine of Balaam to be amongst them, as well as that of the Nicolaitanes. Balaam was a prophet who was hired for pay by Balak, a worldly king, to curse the people of God, and failing in that (God turning the curse into a blessing), he taught the king how to mix up Israel and Midian together; which in principle is joining the world and the Assembly together. This is called spiritual fornication, by God; for she who was espoused as a chaste virgin to Christ has been taught by her teachers that it is no sin for the Assembly and the world to be joined together in its worship and ordinances. (Cp. Num. 22–25 and 31:1-8.) The doctrine of the Nicolaitanes was most likely the turning the grace of God into lasciviousness. If any one makes use of the grace of God to give him license to sin, he is denying the only Master and Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, as Jude says (ver. 4). So the Assembly in Thyatira (Rev. 2:1818And unto the angel of the church in Thyatira write; These things saith the Son of God, who hath his eyes like unto a flame of fire, and his feet are like fine brass; (Revelation 2:18)) are found fault with, for suffering that woman Jezebel who called herself a prophetess to teach and seduce God’s servants to commit fornication and to eat things offered to idols. Jezebel was a foreign queen, daughter of the king of Sidon, whom Ahab, king of Israel, took to wife, and was led with the priests, by her influence, into the idolatrous worship of Baal. (See 1 Kings 16:30-3330And Ahab the son of Omri did evil in the sight of the Lord above all that were before him. 31And it came to pass, as if it had been a light thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, that he took to wife Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal king of the Zidonians, and went and served Baal, and worshipped him. 32And he reared up an altar for Baal in the house of Baal, which he had built in Samaria. 33And Ahab made a grove; and Ahab did more to provoke the Lord God of Israel to anger than all the kings of Israel that were before him. (1 Kings 16:30‑33).) This is mostly exhibited in the Roman Catholic system.
Thus, beloved, we have been sitting at the feet of Jesus for a while, and do not let any one say it has been waste of time. Our path by it has doubtless been much narrowed, but if it be to draw us closer to our Head, and to make us satisfied with His care for His members, we shall not have got harm. I don’t forget the danger of narrow sectarianism, which under plea of Christ’s honour would drive us only to receive some of Christ’s gifts, as was evidenced in the Corinthian church, and against which Paul speaks in 1 Cor. 3. No, I have no fear of putting before the saints, with the Word of God in their hands,
but on the other hand if those gifts would connect us with, or draw us into a position which is contrary to God’s Word, and bring us under any such teaching of which we are to beware, we, for Christ’s honour, are bound to beware; and to remember the simple rule given us in Jeremiah who walked in the midst of the ruin of Israel;
And now in conclusion let me remind the saints in a few words of the glorious truth which belongs to them. There are three chief points I would press: first, Christ’s redemptive work, His death and resurrection. Secondly, His place at the right hand of God, and the descent of the Holy Ghost. Thirdly, His coming again. Beloved have you made good in your own souls, such a Christ? First, as called of God, do you know the value of Christ’s death and resurrection for you? Are you justified? Have you peace with God? (Rom. 5:1, 21Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: 2By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. (Romans 5:1‑2).) Have you at any time of your life seen yourself to be nothing but a guilty sinner? And then, having been brought face to face with God’s justice, have you found that that righteousness was for you as displayed in the glorified Christ, justifying you freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Him (Rom. 3:19-2419Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. 20Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin. 21But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; 22Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: 23For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; 24Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: (Romans 3:19‑24)). Have you seen how you are justified on your side by simple faith in His Person and work, and consequently not by the works of the law (ver. 27, 28), so that now you are among the blessed ones whose iniquities are forgiven, whose sins are covered, and amongst those to whom the Lord will not impute sin (Rom. 4:6, 86Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, (Romans 4:6)
8Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin. (Romans 4:8)
). Yes, dear believers, Christ was delivered up to death for our offences and was raised for our justification. If the righteous Judge has cleared our Substitute from all charge, of course we are cleared through Him, and the result is peace, access into a new place in the risen Christ, and we boast in hope of the glory of God (Rom. 4:25; 5:1, 225Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification. (Romans 4:25)
1Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: 2By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. (Romans 5:1‑2)
).
Secondly, do you know the value of Christ’s ascension as man to the right hand of God, given you from thence as God’s gift of righteousness and eternal life, and of the descent of the Holy Ghost, which on the one hand gives you a positive righteousness before God, and on the other hand unites you in a new nature (given to you when first called to God,) to Him who is gone up there, so that you are in Christ, and Christ in you by the Holy Ghost? (Rom. 8:1, 2, 91There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. 2For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. (Romans 8:1‑2)
9But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. (Romans 8:9)
; Eph. 2.) Three chief blessings result from this. First, Christ is in you, and you are not in the flesh (Rom. 8:9, 109But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. 10And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. (Romans 8:9‑10)). Secondly, the Holy Ghost gives you the knowledge of the Father and of the Son, and of your place in Him, He being the promise of the Father (cp. Acts 1:44And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. (Acts 1:4); Rom. 8:1616The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: (Romans 8:16)). Thirdly, He baptizes all believers into one body, so that they are members of Christ and of nothing less (1 Cor. 12:1212For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. (1 Corinthians 12:12); compare with Acts 1:5; 2:1-35For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence. (Acts 1:5)
1And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. 2And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. 3And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. (Acts 2:1‑3)
). Oh, believers, let me repeat the question, Do you know that God has given you another gift besides the gift of His Son, and that the gift of the Holy Ghost? The one, His Son, entirely outside you; the second inside you, and making good in your very soul all the blessings that you have by faith in the other gift. Yes, believer, if you have received Christ in glory, you are not only cleared from all guilt and have peace with God through His dying for your sins and rising for your justification, but you have a positive present heavenly place in Him, whom God has glorified as man; and the Holy Ghost having come down from heaven, you are united to Christ; you are not only in Christ, but Christ is in you; you are dead and risen with Him (for that ascended Christ brought into your soul by the Holy Ghost is the dead and risen One); you have the knowledge of all things freely given to you of God (1 Cor. 2:1212Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. (1 Corinthians 2:12)); of sins having been put away forever (Heb. 10:15, 1715Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us: for after that he had said before, (Hebrews 10:15)
17And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. (Hebrews 10:17)
); sonship, adoption (Rom. 8:15, 1615For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. 16The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: (Romans 8:15‑16)), besides, He makes you a member of the body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:1212For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. (1 Corinthians 12:12)). You walk by faith on the Son of God (Gal. 2:2020I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)); and by the Spirit you are led (Gal. 5:1818But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law. (Galatians 5:18)), who gives you power also to mortify the deeds of the flesh, which still remains in you, though now you reckon it dead (Rom. 8:13, 1413For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. 14For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. (Romans 8:13‑14)); besides, the same Spirit is the sure earnest to you that you will have a raised body like the Lord Jesus, for He dwelt in Him as man, and now dwells in you to raise you up should you die as He raised Christ up. (See Rom. 8:1111But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you. (Romans 8:11).) Oh, may God give every dear believer to see his union with Christ by the Holy Ghost!
There is an additional point of truth which is important in connection with the Son of God’s glorified place at the right hand of God; and that is our sanctification as seen in the Epistle to the Hebrews. He in that new place sets aside the claim of angels, who were the dispensers of the law, and of every other man; and communicating His resurrection Life, gives the believers the place of sanctfied brethren, having delivered them by His death from the power of Satan, and made propitiation for their sins (Heb. 1, 2). He is then displayed as their Heavenly Captain leading them across this world to the heavenly rest of God; their High Priest acting for them by His Word, sympathy, and intercession (Heb. 3, 5); as High Priest after the order of Melchisedec  setting aside the Aaronic priesthood (Heb. 5–7); ministering in the heavenly sanctuary, and so setting aside the earthly one. From thence He displays the ministry and blessings of the new testament in spirit, on the ground of the blood of His one sacrifice which has once and for ever taken away our sins, perfected the conscience of all who believe, of which the Holy Ghost is the witness (Heb. 8–10). Thus Christians are sanctified priests, set apart from the earthly priesthood, earthly sanctuary, the law and its sacrifices, which could not take away sins nor perfect the conscience of believers. Our path as the result is to walk in practical sanctification as children of the Father, going to Christ outside the camp of Judaism, bearing His reproach (Heb. 12–13).
Thirdly, Christ is coming again.
There are three chief points I would press in regard to it. First, it is a personal coming. Jesus Himself the Son of God, as the Bright and Morning Star, is coming (Rev. 22:7, 12, 167Behold, I come quickly: blessed is he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this book. (Revelation 22:7)
12And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be. (Revelation 22:12)
16I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star. (Revelation 22:16)
; 1 Thess. 1:1010And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come. (1 Thessalonians 1:10)). Secondly, the resurrection of the body of the saints then takes place (1 Thess. 4:1616For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: (1 Thessalonians 4:16)), but it is a resurrection from amongst the dead, as Christ’s was; the rest of the dead (the wicked) are left behind in their tombs (1 Cor. 15:20, 2320But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. (1 Corinthians 15:20)
23But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming. (1 Corinthians 15:23)
; Phil. 3:1111If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. (Philippians 3:11) ). Thirdly, it is a resurrection of life and not of judgment (John 5:24, 2924Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life. (John 5:24)
29And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation. (John 5:29)
), of salvation and not of damnation (1 Thess. 5:99For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, (1 Thessalonians 5:9)), so that when we appear before the judgment seat of Christ, which will take place afterwards, to receive our rewards or to suffer loss (1 Cor. 3:1515If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire. (1 Corinthians 3:15)), we shall be as perfect as Christ is perfect (2 Cor. 5:1-101For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 2For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven: 3If so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked. 4For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life. 5Now he that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit. 6Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord: 7(For we walk by faith, not by sight:) 8We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord. 9Wherefore we labor, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him. 10For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. (2 Corinthians 5:1‑10)). Christian, this is your glorious hope! (Titus 2:1313Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; (Titus 2:13)). Yes, Christ is coming again! Then the dead saints shall be raised, the living shall changed, and we shall be all caught up together to meet the Lord in the air, and so be for ever with the Lord (1 Thess. 4:14-1814For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. 15For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. 16For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 17Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. 18Wherefore comfort one another with these words. (1 Thessalonians 4:14‑18)), to return with Him to judge the world. (Cp. 1 Thess. 5:1-91But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you. 2For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. 3For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. 4But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. 5Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. 6Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober. 7For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night. 8But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation. 9For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, (1 Thessalonians 5:1‑9), with 1 Cor. 6:2, 32Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters? 3Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life? (1 Corinthians 6:2‑3).) Oh, dear believers, think of it! Christ, a real Person, the same Jesus who lived down here and died, who rose and went up on high, is coming again. I verily believe many saints have no idea that Christ is a real Man at the right hand of God, and coming again! A Christian said to me the other day, that he only thought of the risen Christ as a spirit! Oh, the darkness that is abroad! May God wake the saints up and make them take heed what they hear! Yes, dear saints, Jesus is coming, and coming as the Saviour of the body for every saint. No judgment for us. That is all settled at the cross. Unto them that look for Him shall He appear the second time without sin unto salvation. I Jesus am the Bright and Morning star, and the Spirit and the bride say, Come (Rev. 22:16, 1716I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star. 17And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely. (Revelation 22:16‑17)). May the Lord lead His dear saints fully to accept such a Christ, and to test those they hear more by the doctrine they bring, and less by a position in the Church given them by man.