Archives for the month of: June, 2012

Diversity and Unity

By:  C H Mackintosh

It is at once interesting and instructive to mark the varied lines of truth presented in the New Testament, all finding their common centre in that blessed One who is the truth. We see this, both in the Gospels and in the Epistles. Each of the four Evangelists, under the direct guidance and power of the Holy Ghost, gives us a distinct view of Christ. Matthew presents Him in His Jewish relations—as the Messiah, the Son of David, Son of Abraham—heir of the promises made to the fathers. Mark presents Him as the earnest workman, the diligent servant, the laborious minister, the incessant preacher and teacher. Luke gives us “The Man Christ Jesus,” in His human relations, Son of man, Son of Adam. John is occupied with the Son of God, Son of the Father, the heavenly Man, in His heavenly relationships.

Thus each one has his own specific line. No two are alike, but all agree. There is lovely variety, but the most perfect harmony; there is diversity and unity. Matthew does not interfere with Mark; nor Mark with Luke; nor Luke with John. There is no collision, because each moves in his own proper orbit, and all revolve round the one grand centre.

Nor could we do without any one of the four. There would be a serious blank if one were missing; and it is the Holy Spirit’s purpose and joy to set forth every ray of the moral glory of the Son of God. Each Gospel fulfils his own service, under the guiding hand of the Holy Ghost.

So also is it in the Epistles. Paul’s line of things is as distinct from Peter’s, as Peter’s is from John’s, or John’s from James’. No two are alike, but all agree. There is no collision, because, like the four Evangelists, each moves in his own appointed orbit, and all revolve round the one common centre. The orbit is distinct, but the centre is one. Paul gives us the great truth of man’s relation with God, on the ground of accomplished redemption, together with the counsels of God as to Israel and the Church. Peter gives us the Christian pilgrimage and God’s government of the world. James insists upon practical righteousness. John opens up the grand theme of eternal life; first with the Father, then manifested in the Son, communicated unto us, and finally displayed in the glorious future.

Now, it would be the very height of folly on our part to institute any invidious comparison between those varied lines of truth, or the beloved and honoured instruments by whom those lines are presented to us. How silly it would be to set up Matthew against Mark, Mark against Luke, Luke against John, or John against all the rest! How puerile it would be for any one to say, “I go in for Paul’s line of things, only. James seems below the mark. Peter and John I do not appreciate. Paul is the man for me. His ministry suits me.”

All this we should, at once, denounce as sinful folly, not to be tolerated for a moment. The varied lines of truth all converge upon one glorious and blessed centre. The varied instruments are all employed by one and the self-same inspiring Spirit, for the one grand object of presenting the varied moral glories of Christ. We want them all. We could no more afford to do without Matthew or Mark than we could do without Luke or John; and it is no part of our business to undervalue Peter or James, because they do not give such a lofty or comprehensive range of truth as Paul or John. Each is needful in his place. Each has his work to do, his appointed line of things to attend to, and we should be doing serious damage to our own souls, as well as marring the integrity of divine revelation, if we were to confine ourselves to any one particular line of truth, or attach ourselves exclusively to any one particular instrument or vessel.

The early Corinthians fell into this grave error, and thus called forth a sharp rebuke from the blessed Apostle Paul. Some were of Paul; some of Apollos, some of Cephas; some of Christ. All were wrong; and those who said they were of Christ were quite as wrong as any of the others. They were carnal, and walked as men. It was a grievous folly to be puffed up for one against another, inasmuch as they were all Christ’s servants, and all belonged to the whole Church.

Nor is it otherwise now in the Church of God. There are varied kinds of workmen, and varied lines of truth; and it is our happy privilege, not to say our holy duty, to recognize and rejoice in them all. To be puffed up for one against another, is to be “carnal and walk as men.” To depreciate any of Christ’s servants is to depreciate the truth which he carries, and to forsake our own mercies. “All things are yours; whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours; and ye are Christ’s; and Christ is God’s.”

This is the true and the divine way to look at the matter; and this, too, is the way to avoid sects, parties, cliques and coteries in the Church of God. There is one body, one Head, one Spirit, one divine and perfect revelation—the Holy Scriptures. There are many members, many gifts, many lines of truth, many distinct characters of ministry. We need them all, and therefore God has given them all.

But, most surely, God has not given the various gifts and ministries for us to set one against another, but that we may humbly and thankfully avail ourselves of all, and profit by them according to His gracious purpose in giving them. If all were Pauls, where were the Peters? If all were Peters, where were the Johns?

Nor this only; but what must be the effect of going in for any one particular line of truth, or character of ministry? What but to produce an imperfect Christian character? We are all sadly prone to one-sidedness, and nothing more ministers to this evil than an inordinate attachment to some one particular branch of truth, to the exclusion of other branches equally important. It is by“the truth” we are sanctified—by all, not by some truth.

We should delight in every department of truth, and give a cordial welcome to each vessel or instrument which our God may be pleased to use in ministering His truth to our souls. To be puffed up for one against another is to be more occupied with the vessel than with the truth which the vessel contains, more occupied with man than with God—a grievous mistake! “Who then is Paul, or who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man.”

Here lies the grand principle. God has various instruments for His work, and we should value them all as His instruments, and nothing more. It has ever been Satan’s object to lead the Lord’s people to set up heads of schools, leaders of parties, centres of cliques, thus splitting up the Church of God into sects, and destroying its visible unity. Let us not be ignorant of his devices; but in every possible way “endeavour to keep the unity of the Spirit in the uniting bond of peace.”

How is this great object to be attained? By keeping near the Centre—by abiding in Christ—by habitual occupation with Himself—by drinking deeply into His spirit, and walking in His footsteps—by lying at His feet, in true brokenness of spirit and humility of mind—by thorough consecration to His service, the furtherance of His cause, the promotion of His glory, the prosperity and blessing of every beloved member of His body.

Thus shall we be delivered from strife and contention, from the discussion of profitless questions and baseless theories, from partiality, prejudice, and predilection. We shall be able to see and appreciate all the varied lines of truth converging upon the one divine Centre, the varied rays of light emanating from the one eternal Source. We shall rejoice in the great fact that, in all the ways and works of God, in every department of nature and grace, in things on earth and things in Heaven, in time and eternity, it is not a dull uniformity but a delightful variety. In a word, God’s universal and eternal principle is DIVERSITY AND UNITY.”

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Inside the Veil

by: C H Mackintosh

“Having, therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus,…let us draw near…”

Hebrews 10:9-16.

The power of our path—of our walk in this world is the understanding, through the Holy Ghost, of our identification with Christ in all our ways, and our being set in the world to manifest Him, not merely to know that we have salvation, and the purging of our consciences through His most precious blood. The testimony of a Christian bears this character, he is treading in the footsteps of Christ. “To me, to live is Christ:” again, “I 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 faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” — (faith not in but “of the Son of God,” that is, the same faith by which Jesus walked up and down in the world, is the faith by which we are called to live.) That puts each of us in the place of responsibility as to our ways, our habits, our feelings, and objects. Are we realising the responsibility of living Christ? That is really what the church of God is set in the world for—to be the expression of Christ in His absence. A Christian’s conscience often satisfies itself with handing to the unconverted man the Bible, so that he may read what Christ was; but this is not the object for which Christ has left us here,— “Ye are the epistles of Christ, known and read of all men.” Are we such an epistle as persons can read? It is not a person’s coming to me, and saying, What is your creed? What views do you hold? and the like. If I am not an expression of the ways and feelings of Christ, I am a stumbling block, rather than otherwise. The Christian should be the living breathing expression of Christ—of the principles, features, graces, of the character of Christ. Alas! The whole of Christianity is often made to consist in a set of opinions: one gets his place and is characterised by what opinions he holds. We are called upon necessarily to live the Christ in whom we believe; we are one with Him, and are called to shew forth what He is. But the whole power, by which I am to act , and to shew that, is the understanding that I am one with Him.

There are two great stages of Christ’s path, and of the believer’s, as identified with him, presented to us in the Epistle to the Hebrews. The first ends (chap. 10) where the soul is set in “the holiest.” Up to that the Holy Ghost is conducting us along, step by step; there He sets us down in this blessed place, “having boldness to enter into the holiest, by the blood of Jesus by the new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh.”

The power of intelligent devotedness is the understanding of the perfect purging of our consciences. Many do not understand this; they are aiming at getting it, and that is a complete reversing of God’s order. I have a purged conscience; I go on, not to obtain it, but because I have it. How do I get it? Not by anything that I have done, by my frames or feelings, as a matter of attainment or experience; the Holy Ghost teaches us, that it is by the blood of Jesus.

He shews the glory of the Person of Christ, as contrasted with angels and with Moses; that of His priesthood, as contrasted with Aaron’s; that of His sacrifice, as contrasted with the sacrifices under the law. And what is the result? We have a purged conscience. He has set us down within the veil. It is not what one Christian has, and what another is struggling after but the common platform of all—we all have a purged conscience. Some suppose that the blood of Christ has put away our sins before conversion; and then as to what becomes of those after, they are met by the priesthood of Christ; but this is not what He says, it is by the blood of Christ; we are within the holiest with a perfectly purged conscience, with “no more conscience of sins.” It is just worthy of the sacrifice of Christ to put me in possession of this, and nothing short of it;all my sins, not some of them, blotted out. There, where the high priest could go in once every year, and only then, the simplest believer is set down.

When one comes to deal closely with souls, one discovers what doubts, fears, and anxieties take possession of and distress them. If the blood of Christ does anything for us, it sets us there without spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing. “Having, therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus,…let us draw near,” &c. There is no difference here between apostles and others; the Apostle Paul and the thief on the cross: in other words, all alike have a common place within the veil.

The priesthood of Christ comes in to maintain me practically where the blood of Christ has set me. As in the expression in the Epistle of John, “if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous [Jesus Christ is at God’s right hand on all principles of righteousness], and He is the propitiation [the mercy-seat] for our sins.” We are never told , in the New Testament, that we are to ask for the pardon of sins, there is not such an expression as this. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Nor is this distinction unimportant. It is a much easier thing for a child to ask for pardon for some fault than to confess it. We may be asking for pardon for any special sin, and we have no scripture warrant to know that it is put away; but when we confess it, it is a matter of faith to know that it is put away. I am speaking now of a believer: were it the question of the unconverted person, the blood of Christ meets that. God is “faithful and just (not gracious and merciful merely,) to forgive us our sins,” &c. The moment I have judged myself about it, I am entitled to know that it is gone.

What a very wondrous place to set the believer in at the very outset of his course of discipleship!—washed from his sins, his conscience purged, set down in the unclouded sense of the light of God’s own countenance! But what to do? To rest there? No—that is the foundation on which the superstructure of practical devotedness is based. Legalism and antinomianism are alike met. What does the system of legalism say? You must work yourself up into this place of acceptance. The gospel says, Christ has put me there. I never could get there ; the law has proved that. When God gave the law, what was He doing? ‘You shall do this,’ ‘You shall not do that,’ brought out what man’s heart was; it was impossible he could do what God was telling him he ought to do and impossible he should not be what God was telling him not to be: — “As many as are of the works of the law are under the curse.” I can never, by works of law, get into the holiest of all. I am put there as the result of what Christ has accomplished for me on the cross; and this is stated at the very outset of the epistle: “When he had by himself purged our sins, he sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high.” (Chapter I, 3.) Why does it say “sat down”? To evidence the completion of the work. Aaron never sat down; there was no seat prepared for the priest in the tabernacle or the temple.

What does the error lead men to say? ‘I have it, I possess it all in Christ,’ and there it ends. But no! the gospel puts me there, to run the blessed race that is set before me in ardent, earnest breathing of soul to become like Christ.

If the first division sets me down within the holiest, the second places me without the camp.I find Christ as it regards my conscience, “inside the veil.” I find Christ, as it regards my heart, “outside the camp.”

It does not become us to take only the comfort, which flows from our knowing Christ to be within the veil—the comfort, His sacrifice gives us; I must seek practical identification with Him outside the camp. Christ within the veil tranquillises my conscience. Christ outside the camp quickens, energizes my soul to run more devotedly the race set before me. “The bodies of those beasts, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burned without the camp. Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate. Let us go forth, therefore, unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach.” (Vers. 11-13.) No two points are morally more remote than inside the veil and outside the camp, and yet they are brought together here. Inside the veil was the place where the shekinah of God’s glory dwelt; outside the camp the place where the sin-offering was burned—no place gives such an idea of distance from God as that. It is blessed to know, that the Holy Ghost presents to me Jesus filling up all that is between these two points. I have nothing to do whatever with the camp. The camp was the place of ostensible profession (in type, the camp of Israel; in antitype, the city of Jerusalem). Why did Christ suffer without the gate? In order to shew the setting aside of the mere machinery of Israel’s outward profession.

We may be clear as to the work of Christ being done for us (and God forbid there should be a cloud cast across the blessedness of that), knowing the conscience to be made perfect; but is tranquility of conscience all I want? Is there no responsibility? Is Christ’s voice from within the veil all? Has He no voice outside the camp? It will be found that, after all, the joy, peace, liberty, flowing from our hearing Christ’s voice inside the veil, is very much dependent on our listening to His voice outside the camp. Those who know most of suffering with Him, and bearing His reproach, will know most of the blessedness of His place within the veil. Our conduct, our ways, our path through the earth, must be tested by Christ. “Would Christ be there? Would Christ do this?” The Holy Ghost must be grieved if the saint pursues a course contrary to that which Christ would have pursued; and then the soul must be lean. How can a grieved Spirit testify of Christ—how can He give the soul comfort and joy, and peace of His testimony to Him? How can I be enjoying Christ if I am not walking in company with Him? We know that we cannot enjoy the company of a person unless we are where that person iswhere then is Christ? “Outside the camp.”

“Let us go forth , therefore, unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach.” This is not to go forth to men, or to opinions, to a church, or to a creed, but to Christ Himself. We are not of the world—Why? Because Christ is not of the world; the measure of our separation from the world is the measure of Christ’s separation. “For here have we no continuing city;” do our hearts seek one?—some set of circumstances or the like, a something on which to lean? Are we saying, as it were, “Oh do leave me something?” like Lot pleading for Zoar, “Is it not a little one? Do not take it all away, “is it not a little one; and my soul shall live!” Lot’s was a heart going out after a little of the world still. When the heart is filled with Christ it can give up the world, there is no difficulty in doing it then. The mere saying, ‘Give up this’ or ‘give up that, ‘ to one loving the world, will be of no avail; what I have to do is to seek to minister to that soul more of Christ.

I am outside the camp, I am seeking a city that is to come, I am waiting for Him who is to come. In this position, of dislodgement from the world and from its system, I find myself in two positions—one toward God, and the other towards man. The first, “By him , therefore let us offer the sacrifices of praise to God continually, that is the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to his name.” (Ver. 15.) The second, the lovely development of the spirit of active benevolence of the next verse, “But to do good and to communicate, forget not; for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.” (Ver. 16.)

I am within the veil with Christ—outside the camp in the world, “bearing his reproach;” and, whilst thus delivered from the profession around me, that is not of Him, I am engaged in worship and doing good to all.

In regard to my hope, it is not as people say, the “holding the doctrine of the second advent,” but “waiting for God’s Son from heaven.” This is not a dead, dry doctrine. If we are really waiting for God’s Son from heaven, we shall be sitting loose to the world.

have Christ for my soul’s need, and I am only waiting for God’s Son from heaven, for Christ to come from heaven, to take His Church unto Himself, that where He is we may be also, and that may be this night. I am not looking for antichrist, for signs, for movement amongst the nations, but for this one holy, happy thing, I am waiting for God’s Son from heaven. Oh do not let us be inconsistent, do not let us contradict that, seeking to grasp Christ with one hand, and hold fast the world with the other.

If we know our position “within the veil,” we must know our position “outside the camp,” reproached, it may be, scorned, hated, suspected, of all who are not outside, but in the joy of fellowship with Him. “When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, we also, then shall appear with him in glory.”

Christ In the Vessel

By C H Mackintosh

“Man’s extremity is God’s opportunity.” This is a very familiar saying. It often passes among us; and no doubt, we fully believe it; but yet, when we find ourselves brought to our extremity, we are often very little prepared to count on God’s opportunity. It is one thing to utter or hearken to a truth, and another thing to realize the power of that truth. It is one thing, when sailing over a calm sea, to speak of God’s ability to keep us in the storm, and it is another thing altogether to prove that ability when the storm is actually raging around us. And yet God is ever the same. In the storm and in the calm, in sickness and in health, in pressure and in ease, in poverty and in abundance, “the same yesterday, and today, and forever” — the same grand reality for faith to cling to and draw upon, at all times for under all circumstances.

But always, we are unbelieving! Here lies the source of weakness and failure. We are perplexed and agitated, when we ought to be calm and confiding; we are casting about, when we ought to be counting on God; we are “beckoning to our partners,” when we ought to be “looking unto Jesus.” Thus it is we lose immensely, and dishonour the Lord in our ways. Doubtless there are few things for which we have to be more deeply humbled than our tendency to distrust the Lord when difficulties and trials present themselves; and assuredly we grieve the heart of Jesus by thus distrusting Him, for distrust must always wound a loving heart. Look, for example, at the scene between Joseph and his brethren in Gen. 50.

“And when Joseph’s brethren saw that their father was dead, they said, Joseph will peradventure hate us, and will certainly requite us all the evil which we did unto him. And they sent a messenger to Joseph, saying, thy father did command before he died, saying, So shall he say unto Joseph, Forgive, I pray thee now, the trespass of they brethren, and their sin, for they did unto thee evil: and now, we pray thee, forgive the trespass of the servants of the God of thy father. And Joseph wept when they spake unto him.”

It was a sad return for the love and tender care which Joseph had exercised towards them. How could they suppose that one who had so freely and fully forgiven them, and spared their lives when they were entirely in his power, would, after so many years of kindness, turn upon them in anger and revenge? it was indeed a grievous wrong, and it was no marvel that “Joseph wept when they spake unto him.” What an answer to all their unworthy fear and dark suspicion! A flood of tears! Such is love! “And Joseph said unto them, Fear not: for I am in the place of God? But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive. Now therefore, fear ye not: I will nourish you, and your little ones. and he comforted them, and spake kindly unto them.”

Thus it was with the disciples on the occasion to which our paper refers. Let us meditate a little on the passage.

“And the same day, when the even was come, Jesus saith unto them, Let us pass over unto the other side. And when they had sent away the multitude, they took Him even as He was on the ship; and there were also with Him other little ships. And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat onto the ship, so that is was now full. And He was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow.”

Here then we have an interesting and instructive scene. The poor disciples are brought to their extremeity. They are at their wits’ end. A violent storm—the ship full of water—the Master asleep. This was a trying moment indeed, and assuredly we, if we look at ourselves, need not marvel at the fear and agitation of the disciples. It is not likely that we should have done better had we been there. Still, we cannot but see wherein they failed. The narrative has been penned for our learning, and we are bound to study it, and seek to learn the lesson which it reads out to us.

There is nothing more absurd and irrational than unbelief when we come to look at it calmly. In the scene before us this absurdity is very apparent; for what could be more absurd than to suppose that the vessel could possibly sink with the son of God on board? and yet this was what they feared. It may be said they did not just think of the Son of God at that moment. True, they thought of the storm, the waves, the filling vessel, and after judging after the manner of men, it seemed a hopeless case. Thus it is the unbelieving heart ever reasons. It looks only at the circumstances, and leaves God out. Faith, on the contrary, looks only at God, and leaves circumstances out.

What a difference! Faith delights in man’s extremity, simply because it is God’s opportunity. It delights in being “shut up” to God—in having the platform thoroughly cleared of the creature, in order that God may display His glory—in the multiplying of “empty vessels,” in order that God may fill them. Such is faith. It would, we may surely say, have enabled the disciples to lie down and sleep beside their Master in the midst of the storm. Unbelief, on the other hand, rendered them uneasy; they could not rest themselves, and they actually aroused the blessed Lord out of His sleep by their unbelieving apprehensions. He, weary with incessant toil, was snatching a few moments’ repose while the vessel was crossing the sea. He knew what fatigue was; He had come down into all our circumstances. He made Himself acquainted with all our feelings and all our infirmities, being in all points tempted like as we are, sin excepted.

He was found as a man in every respect, and as such He slept on a pillow, rocked by the waves of the sea. The storm and the billows beat upon the vessel, although the Creator was on board, in the person of that weary, sleeping Workman.

Profound mystery! the One who made the sea, and could hold the winds in His almighty grasp, lay sleeping in the hinder part of the ship, and allowed the sea and wind to treat Him as unceremoniously as though He were an ordinary man. Such was the reality of the human nature of our blessed Lord. he was weary—He slept, being tossed on the bosom of that sea which His hands had made. O pause and meditate on this wondrous sight. Look closely, think upon it. We cannot expatiate upon the scene; we can only muse and worship.

But as we have said, unbelief roused the blessed Lord out of His sleep. “They awake Him, and say unto Him, Master, carest Thou not that we perish?” What a question! Carest Thou not?”how it must have wounded the sensitive heart of the Lord! How could they ever think that He was indifferent to their trouble and danger? How completely must they have lost sight of His love, to say nothing of His power, when they could bring themselves to say, “Carest Thou not?”

And yet, have we not in all this a mirror in which to see ourselves reflected? Assuredly we have. How often, in moments of pressure and trial, do our hearts conceive, if our lips do not utter the question, “Carest Thou not?” It may be we are laid on a bed of sickness and pain, and we know that one word from the God of all power and might could chase away the malady and raise us up; and yet the word is with held. Or perhaps we are in need of temporal supplies, and we know that the silver and gold, and the cattle upon a thousand hills, belong to God—yea, that the treasures of the universe are under His hand—and yet day after day rolls on, and our need is not supplied. In a word, we are passing through deep waters, in some way or another; the storm rages, wave after wave rolls over our tiny vessel, and we are brought to our extremity, we are at our wits’ end, and our hearts often feel ready to send up that terrible question, “Carest Thou not?” The thought of this is deeply humbling. To think of our grieving the loving heart of Jesus by our unbelief and suspicion should fill us with the deepest contrition.

And then the absurdity of unbelief! How can that One who gave His life for us—who left His glory and came down into this world of toil and misery and died a shameful death to deliver us from eternal wrath—how can such a One ever fail to care for us? But yet we are ready to doubt, or we grow impatient under the trial of our faith, forgetting that the very trial from which we so shrink and under which we so wince is far more precious than gold, for the former in an imperishable reality, whereas the latter must perish in the using. The more genuine faith is tried, the brighter it shines; and hence the trial, however severe, is sure to issue in praise and honour and glory to Him who not only implants the faith, but also passes it through the furnace and sedulously watches it therein.

But the poor disciples failed in the moment of trial. Their confidence gave way, they roused their Master from His slumber with that most unworthy question, “Carest Thou not that we perish?” Alsas, what creatures we are! We are ready to forget ten thousand mercies in the presence of a single difficulty. David could say, “I shall one day perish by the hand of Saul”; and how did it turn out? Saul fell on mount Gilboa, and David was established on the throne of Israel. Elijah fled for his life at the threat of Jezebel; and Jezebel was dashed to pieces on the pavement, and Elijah was taken to heaven in a chariot of fire. So here, the disciples thought they were going to be lost, with the Son of God on board; and what was the result? The storm was hushed into silence, and the sea became as glass, by that Voice which of old had called worlds into existence. “And He arose and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.”

What a combination of grace and majesty is here! Instead of rebuking them for having disturbed His repose, He rebukes those elements which had terrified them. It was thus He replied to their question, “Carest Thou not?” Blessed master! Who would not adore Thee for Thy patient grace and unfailing love?

There is something perfectly beautiful in the way in which our blessed Lord rises, without an effort, from the repose of perfect humanity into the activity of essential deity. As man, wearied with His work, He slept on a pillow; as God, He rises, and with His almighty voice, hushes the storm and calms the sea.

Such was Jesus—very God and very man—and such He is now, ever ready to meet His people’s need, to hush their anxieties and remove their fears. Oh that we trusted him more simply! We have little idea of how much we lose by not leaning more on the arm of Jesus day by day. We are so easily terrified. Every breath of wind, every wave, every cloud, agitates and depresses us. Instead of calmly lying down and reposing beside our Lord, we are full of terror and perplexity. Instead of using the storm as an occasion for trust on Him, we make it an occasion for doubting Him. No sooner does some trifling trouble arise than we think we are going to perish, although He assures us that He has numbered the very hairs of our head. Well may He say to us as He said to His disciples, “Why are ye so fearful? How is it that ye have no faith?”

It would indeed seem at times as though we had no faith. But oh, His tender love! He is ever near to shield and succor us, even though our unbelieving hearts are so ready to doubt His Word. He does not deal with us according to our poor thoughts of Him, but according to His own perfect love toward us. This is the solace and stay of our souls in passing across life’s stormy sea homeward to our eternal rest. Christ is in the vessel. Let this ever suffice. Let us calmly rely on Him. May there ever be, at the very centre of our hearts, that deep repose which springs from real trust in Jesus! and then, though the storm rage and the sea run mountains high, we shall not be led to say, “Carest Thou not that we perish?” Is it possible we can perish with the Master on board? or can we ever think so with Christ in our hearts? May the Holy Spirit teach us to make a fuller, freer, bolder use of Christ! We really want this just now, and shall want it more and more. It must be Christ Himself, laid hold of and enjoyed in the heart by faith. thus may it be to His praise and our abiding peace and joy!

We may just notice, in conclusion, the way in which the disciples react. Instead of the calm worship of those whose faith had been answered, they manifest the amazement of those whose fears had been rebuked. “They feared exceedingly, and said one to another, What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey Him?” Surely they ought to have known Him better. Yes, and so should we.

Divine Titles

C H Macintosh

 

It is at once interesting, instructive, and edifying to mark the various titles under which God appears in the Holy Scriptures. These titles are expressive of certain characters and relationships in which God has been pleased to reveal Himself to man’ and we are persuaded that the Christian reader will find solid profit and real spiritual refreshment and blessing in the study of this subject. We can do little more in this brief paper than offer a suggestion or two, leaving the reader to search the Scriptures for himself, in order to obtain a full understanding of the true meaning and proper application of the various titles.

In the first chapter of Genesis we have the first great title–“God” (Elohim): “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” This presents God in unapproachable, incomprehensible Deity. “No man hath seen God at any time.” We hear His voice and see His work in creating; but Himself no man hath seen or can see. He dwelleth in the light which no man can approach unto.

But in Genesis 2, we have another title added to God, namely, “Lord” (Jehovah). Why is this? Because man is now on the scene, and “Lord” is expressive of the divine relation with man. Precious truth! It is impossible to read these two chapters and not be struck with the difference of the titles “God” and “the Lord God”–“Elohim” and “Jehovah Elohim”; and the difference is at once beautiful and instructive.

Gen. 7:16 presents an interesting example. “And they went in, went in male and female of all flesh, as God had commanded him: and the Lord shut him in.” God, in His government, was about to destroy the human race, and every living thing. But Jehovah, in infinite grace, shut Noah in. Mark the distinction. If a mere man were writing the history, he might transpose the titles, not seeing what was involved. Not so the Holy Spirit. He brings out the lovely point of Jehovah’s relationship with Noah. Elohim was going to judge the world; but as Jehovah He had His eye upon His beloved servant Noah, and graciously sheltered him in the vessel of mercy. How perfect is Scripture! How edifying and refreshing to trace the moral glories of the divine volume!

Let us turn to a passage in 1 Sam. 17, where we have the record of David’s encounter with Goliath. He boldly tells the giant what he is about to do, both to him and to the host of the Philistines, in order “that all the earth may know that there is a God (Elohim) in Israel. And all this assembly shall know that the Lord (Jehovah) saveth not with the sword and spear; for the battle is Jehovah’s, and He will give you into our hands” (verse. 46-47).

“All the earth” was to know and own the presence of God in the midst of His people. They could know nothing of the precious relationship involved in the title “Jehovah.” This latter was for the assembly of Israel alone. They were to know not only His presence in their midst, but His blessed mode of acting. To the world He was Elohim, to His beloved people He was Jehovah.

Well may these exquisite touches command our heart’s admiration. Oh, the living depths, the moral glories, of that peerless Revelation which our Father has graciously penned for our comfort and edification! We must confess it gives us unspeakable delight to dwell on these things and point them out to the reader, in this infidel day when the divine inspiration of Holy Scripture is boldly called in question, in puarts where we should least expect it. But we have something better to do just now that replying to the contemptible assaults of infidelity. We are thoroughly persuaded that the most effective safeguard against all such assaults is to have the Word of Christ dwelling in us richly, in all its living, formative power. To the heart thus filled and fortified, the most plausible and powerful arguments of all infidel writers are but as the pattering of rain on the window.

We shall give the reader only one more illustration of our subject from the Old Testament. It occurs in the interesting history of Jehoshaphat (2 Chron. 18:31). “And it came to pass, when the captains of the chariots saw Jehoshaphat, that they said, It is the king of Israel. Therefore they compassed about him to fight: but Jehoshaphat cried out, and the Lord (Jehovah) helped him; and God (Elohim) moved them to depart from him.”

This is deeply affecting. Jehoshaphat had put himself into an utterly false position. He had linked himself with the most ungodly of Israel’s kings. He had even gone so far as to say to the wicked Ahab, “I am as though art, and my people as they people; and we will be with thee in the war.” No marvel, therefore, if the Syrian captains mistook him for Ahab. It was only taking him at his word. But when brought down to the very lowest point–into the very shadow of death– “he cried out”; and that cry went up to the gracious and ever-attentive ear of Jehovah, who had said, “Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver thee.” Precious grace!

But mark the lovely accuracy in the application of the divine titles–for this is our thesis. “He cried out, and Jehovah helped him;” and–what then? A mere human author would doubtless have put it thus: “Jehovah helped him, and moved them.” But no; Jehovah had, as such, nothing to do with the uncircumcised Syrians. His eye was upon his dear, though erring, servant; His heart was toward him, and His everlasting arms around him. There was no link between Jehovah and the Syrians; but Elohim, whom they knew not, moved them away.

Who can fail to see the beauty and perfection of all this? Is it not plain that the stamp of a divine hand is visible upon the three passages which we have culled for consideration” Yes, and so it is upon every clause, from cover to cover, of the divine volume. Let no one suppose for a moment that we want to occupy our readers with curious points, nice distinctions, or learned criticisms. Nothing is further from our thoughts. We would not pen a line for any or all of these objects. As God is our witness, our one great object in writing this paper is to deepen in the hearts of our readers the sense of the preciousness, the beauty and excellence of the Holy Scriptures, given of God for the guidance, help and blessing of His people in the dark world. If this object be gained, we have our full reward.

But we cannot close without referring, for a moment, to the precious pages of the New Testament. We shall ask the reader to turn to Rom. 15, in which we have God presented to us under three distinct titles, each one of which is in perfect and beautiful keeping with the immediate subject in hand. Thus, in the opening verses of the chapter, which properly belong to chapter 14, the inspired apostle is urging upon us the necessity of patience, forbearance, and kindly consideration one of another.

And to whom does he direct us for power to respond to those holy and much-needed exhortations? “To the God of patience and consolation.” He presents God in the very character in which we need Him. Our small stock of patience would soon be exhausted in seeking to meet the varied characters which cross our path, even in intercourse with our brethren. There are constant claims upon our patience and forbearance; and most surely others have need of patience and forbearance with us. Where are we all to get the means of meeting all of these claims”? At the exhaustless treasure of “the God of patience and consolation.” Our tiny springs would soon dry up if not kept in unbroken connection with that ever-flowing Fountain. The weight of a feather would be an overmatch for our patience; how much more the ten thousand things that come before us even in the Church of God!

Hence the need of the beautiful prayer of the apostle, “Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be likeminded one toward another, according to Christ Jesus; that ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even with the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Wherefore receive ye one another, as Christ also received us to the glory of God.”

Here lies the grand secret, the divine power of receiving one another, and going together in holy love, heavenly patience, and tender consideration. We cannot get on otherwise. It is only by habitual communion with the God of patience and consolation that we shall be able to rise above the numberless hindrances to confidence and fellowship that continually present themselves, and walk in fervent love to all who love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity.

But we must draw this paper to a close, and shall merely glance at the other divine titles presented in our chapter. When the apostle speaks of the future of glory, his heart at once turns to God in the very character suited to the subject before him. “Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.” If we would have the hope of glory heightened in our souls–and truly we need it–we must turn our eyes to “the God of hope.”

How marked and striking is the application of the divine titles, wherever we turn! Whatever may be the character of our need, God presents himself to our hearts in the very way adapted to meet it. Thus, at the close of the chapter, when the apostle turns his eyes towards Judaea, and the difficulties and the dangers awaiting him, his heart springs up to the God of peace.” Precious resource in all our varied exercises, anxieties, sorrows, and cares!

In a word, whatever we want, we have just to turn in simple faith to God, and find it all in Him. God–blessed forever be His name–is the one grand and all-sufficient answer to our every need, from the starting point to the goal of our Christian career. Oh for artless faith to use Him!

The period during which our blessed Lord lay in the tomb must needs have proved a dark and bewildering moment to many of those who looked for redemption in Israel. It would demand a calm, clear and vigorous faith to raise the heart above the heavy clouds which gathered just then upon the horizon of God’s people, and it does not appear that many possessed such a faith at that trying moment.

We may doubtless look upon the two disciples who travelled together to Emmaus as illustrating the condition of many, if not all, the beloved saints of God during the three days and three nights that our beloved Lord lay in the heart of the earth. They were thoroughly bewildered and at their wits’ end. “They talked together of all these things which had happened. And it came to pass that, while they communed together and reasoned, Jesus Himself drew near, and went with them. But their eyes were holden (restrained) that they should not know Him.”  (Lk 24:14–16)

Their minds were full of surrounding circumstances. All hope seemed gone. Their fondly cherished expectations were blasted, apparently. The whole scene was overcast by the dark shadow of death, and their poor hearts were sad.

But mark how the risen Savior’s challenge falls upon their drooping spirits! “And He said unto them, What manner of communications are these that ye have one to another, as ye walk, and are sad?” (verse 17)

Surely this was a reasonable and weighty question for those dear disciples – a question eminently calculated to recall them, as we say, to their senses. It was precisely what they wanted at the moment, occupied as they were with circumstances instead of resting in the eternal and immutable truth of God. Scripture was clear and plain enough had they only hearkened to its voice. But instead of listening only to the distinct testimony of the eternal Spirit in the Word they had allowed their minds to get thoroughly down under the action and influences of outward circumstances. Instead of standing with firm foot on the everlasting rock of divine revelation, they were struggling amid the billows of life’s stormy ocean. In a word, they had for a moment fallen under the power of death so far as their minds were concerned, and no marvel if their hearts were sad and their communications gloomy.

And does it not sometimes happen that you and I in like manner get down under the power  of things seen and temporal, instead of living by faith in the light of things unseen and eternal? Yes, even we who profess to know and believe in a risen Savior –  who believe that we are dead and risen with Him – who have the Holy Spirit dwelling in us, do not we at times sink and cower? Has not that precious, loving Savior offtimes occasion to put the question to our hearts, “What manner of communications are these that ye have one to another?”

Does it not often happen that when we come together or when we walk by the way our “communications” are anything but what they ought to be? It may be gloomily moping together over the depressing circumstances which surround us – the weather – the prospects of the country – the state of trade – our poor health – the difficulty of making both ends meet – anything and everything, in short, but the right thing.

Yes, and so occupied do we become with such things that our spiritual eyes are holden (restrained), and we do not take knowledge of the blessed One who in His tender faithful love is at our side, and He has to challenge our vagrant hearts with His pointed and powerful question, “What manner of communications are these that ye have?”

Let us think of this. It really demands our consideration. We are all far too apt to allow our minds to fall under the power and pressure of circumstances, instead of living in the power of faith. We get occupied with our surroundings instead of dwelling upon “things above” – those bright and blessed realities which are ours in Christ.

And what is the result? Do we better our circumstances, or brighten our prospects by gloomily moping over them? Not in the smallest degree. What then? We simply make ourselves miserable and our communications depressing; and, worst of all, we bring dishonor on the cause of Christ.
Christians forget how much is involved in their temper, manner, look, and deportment in daily life. We forget that the Lord’s glory is intimately bound up with our daily deportments. We all know that, in social life, we judge the character of the head of a household by what we see of his children and servants. If we observed the children looking miserable and downcast, we should be disposed to pronounce their father morose, severe and arbitrary. If we see the servants crushed and overwrought, we consider the master hard–hearted and grinding. In short, as a rule, you can form a tolerably fair estimate of the head of a house by the tone, spirit, style and manner of the members of his household.

How earnestly, then, should we seek, as members of the household of God,  to give a right impression of what He is by our temper, spirit, style and manner! If men of the world – those with whom we come in contact from day to day in the practical details of life – if they see us looking sour, morose, downcast – if they hear us giving utterance to doleful complaints about this, that and the other – if they see us occupied about our own things – grasping, griping, and driving hard bargains like others – if they see us grinding our servants with heavy work, low wages, and poor fare – what estimate can they form of Him whom we call our Father and our Master in Heaven?

Let us not despise and turn away from such homely words. Depend upon it, there is need of such in this day of much profession. There is a vast amount of intellectual traffic in truth which leaves the conscience unreached, the heart untouched, the life unaffected. We know we are dead and risen; but when anything occurs to touch us,  either in our persons, in our relations, or in our interests, we speedily show how little power that precious truth has upon us.

May the Lord give us grace to apply our hearts very seriously and earnestly to these things, so that there may be, in our daily course, a more faithful exhibition of a genuine Christianity – such an exhibition as shall glorify our own most gracious God and Father, and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ – and such, too, as shall afford to those who come in contact with us a fair specimen of what pure religion really is in its action upon the entire course and character.

May we all realize more a risen Savior’s presence, and find therein a triumphant answer to all the dark suggestions of the enemy, the depressing reasonings of our own hearts, and the deadening influence of surrounding circumstances. God, in His infinite mercy, grant it, for Jesus’ sake.
It is impossible to read this charming section of inspiration (Luke 24) and not be struck with what we may venture to call the rallying power of a risen Savior’s voice and presence. We see the dear disciples scattered hither and thither in doubt and perplexity, fear and despondency – some running to the sepulchre; some coming from it; some going to Emmaus, and some crowded together at Jerusalem, in various states and conditions.

But the voice and realized presence of Jesus rallied, reassured, and encouraged them all, and brought all together around His own blessed Person in worship, love, and praise. There was an indescribable power in His presence to meet every condition of heart and mind. Thus it was; thus it is; thus it ever must be, blessed and praised be His precious name! There is power in the presence of a risen Savior to solve our difficulties, remove our perplexities, calm our fears, ease our burdens, dry our tears, meet our every need, tranquilize our minds and satisfy every craving of our hearts.

Jesus! Thou are enough,
The mind and heart to fill;
Thy life – to calm the anxious soul,
Thy love – its fear dispel.

The two disciples going to Emmaus proved something of this, if we are to judge from their own glowing words to 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?” (verse 32)  Yes, here lay the deep and precious secret: “He  talked with us” – and “He  opened to us the Scriptures!”  What seraphic moments! what high communion! what loving ministry! A risen Savior rallying their hearts by His marvelous words and mighty exposition of the Scriptures.

What was the effect – what the necessary result? The two travellers instantly returned to Jerusalem to seek their brethren. It could not be otherwise. If we lose sight of a risen Savior we are sure to get away from our brethren, sure to get occupied with our own things; to pursue our own way – to get into coldness, deadness, darkness, and selfishness. But, on the other hand, the moment we get really into the presence of Christ, when we hear His voice and feel the sweetness and power of His love, when our hearts are brought under the mighty moral influence of His most precious loving ministry, then we are led out in true affection and interest after all our brethren and in earnest desire to find our place in their midst in order that we may communicate to them the deep joy that is filling our own souls.

We may lay it down as a fixed principle – a spiritual axiom – that it is utterly impossible to breathe the atmosphere of a risen Savior’s presence and remain in an isolated, independent, or fragmentary condition. The necessary effect of His dear presence is to melt the heart and cause it to flow out in streams of tender affection toward all that belong to Him.

But let us pursue our chapter.

“And they rose up the same hour” of the night (verse 33) – thus proving they had but little business at Emmaus, or how paramount was the blessed object now before them, “and returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven gathered together, and them that were with them, saying, The Lord is risen indeed, and hath appeared to Simon. And they told what things were done in the way, and how He was known of them in breaking of bread. And as they thus spake, Jesus Himself stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you. But they were terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they had seen a spirit.” (verses 33–37)

They, too, needed a risen Savior’s challenge to bring them to their senses – to calm their fears and raise their drooping spirits. They needed to realize the power of His presence as the risen One. They had just declared to their two brethren from Emmaus that “The Lord is risen indeed”; but yet when their risen Lord appeared to them they did not know Him, and He had to challenge their hearts with His stirring words, “Why are ye troubled? and why do thoughts arise in your hearts? Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself; handle Me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see Me have. And when He had thus spoken, He showed them His hands and His feet. And while they yet believed not for joy, and wondered, He said unto them, Have ye here any meat? And they gave Him a piece of a broiled fish, and of an honeycomb. And He took it, and did eat before them.” (verses 38–43)

What tender love! What gracious condescension to their weakness and need! What compassionate entrance into all their feelings, in spite of their folly and unbelief! Gracious Savior! Who would not love Thee? Who would not trust Thee? May the whole  heart be absorbed with Thee! May the whole life be cordially devoted to Thy blessed service! May Thy cause command all our energies! May all we have and all we love be laid on Thine altar as a reasonable service! May the eternal Spirit work in us for the accomplishment of these grand and longed for objects!
But before closing this brief article there is one point  of special interest and value to which we must call attention, and that is, the way in which the risen Savior puts honor upon the written Word. He rebuked the two travellers for their slowness of heart to believe the Scriptures. “And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, He expounded unto them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.” (verse 27)

So also in His interview with the eleven and the rest at Jerusalem. No sooner had He satisfied them as to His identity than He sought to conduct their souls to the same divine authority – the Holy Scriptures. “And He said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written  in the law of Moses, and in the Prophets, and in the Psalms, concerning Me. Then opened He their understanding that they might understand the Scriptures,  and said unto them, Thus it is written,  and thus it behoved (was necessary for) Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day; and that repentance and remission of sins would be preached in His name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.” (verses 44–47)

All this is of the deepest possible importance at the present moment. We feel persuaded that professing Christians everywhere need to have their hearts stirred up in reference to the paramount claims of the Word of God, its absolute authority over the conscience, its formative power, its complete sway over the entire course, character and conduct.

It is to be feared, greatly feared, that Holy Scripture is fast losing its divine place in the hearts of those who profess to take it as the divine rule of faith and morals. We have often heard that watchword sounded in our ears, “The Bible, and the Bible alone, is the religion of Protestants.” Alas! if this motto were ever really true we fear that its truth at this moment is more than questionable.

Very few, comparatively, even of those who occupy the very highest platform of profession seem to admit, and still fewer actually acknowledge practically, that in all things,  whether of faith or morals, in all the practical details of life, in the Church, in the family, in the business, and in our private walk from day to day – we are to be governed absolutely by that commanding, that mighty, that morally glorious sentence, “It is written” –  a sentence enhanced exceedingly in value and heightened in its moral glory by the telling fact that it was used thrice by our adorable Lord at the opening of His public career, in His conflict with the adversary, and sounded in the ears of His loved ones just as He was about to ascend into the heavens.

Yes, “It is written” was a favorite sentence with our divine Master and Lord. He ever obeyed the Word. He yielded a hearty and unqualified submission to its holy authority in all things. He lived on it and by it from first to last. He walked according to it  and never acted without it. He did not reason or question, imply or infer. He did not add or diminish, or qualify in any one way – He obeyed.  Yes; He, the eternal Son of the Father – Himself God over all blessed forever – having become a man, lived on the Holy Scriptures and walked by their rule continually. He made them the food of His soul, the material and the basis of His marvelous ministry – the divine authority of His perfect path.

In all this He was our great Exemplar. Oh, may we follow His blessed footsteps! May we bring ourselves, our ways, our habits, our associations, our surroundings, to the test of Holy Scripture, and reject with whole–hearted decision everything, no matter what or by whom propounded, that will not bear that searching light.

We are most thoroughly persuaded that in hundreds of thousands of cases the first grand point to be gained is to recall the heart to that delightful attitude in which the Word of God is fully owned and submitted to as an absolute authority. It is positively labor lost to be arguing and disputing with a man who does not give Scripture the self–same place that our Lord Jesus Christ gave it. And when a man does this there is no need of argument. What is really needed is to make the Word of God the basis of our individual peace and authority of our individual path. May we all do so!

By C H Mackintosh

Nothing can be more dishonoring to the pure grace of the gospel than the supposition that a man may belong to God while his conduct and character exhibit not the fair traces of practical holiness. “Known unto God are all His works,” no doubt; but He has given us, in His holy Word, those evidences by which we can discern those that belong to Him. “The foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, ‘The Lord knoweth them that are His.’ And, ‘Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.”‘ (2 Tim. 2:19). We have no right to suppose that an evil-doer belongs to God. The holy instincts of the divine nature are shocked by the mention of such a thing. People sometimes express much difficulty in accounting for such and such evil practices on the part of those whom they cannot help regarding in the light of Christians. The Word of God settles the matter so clearly and so authoritatively, as to leave no possible ground for any such difficulty. – “In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother.” It is well to remember this, in this day of laxity and self-indulgence. There is a fearful amount of easy, uninfluential profession abroad, against which the genuine Christian is called upon to make a firm stand, and bear a severe testimony – a testimony resulting from the steady exhibition of “the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ unto the glory and praise of God.” It is most deplorable to see so many going along the beaten path – the well- trodden highway of religious profession, and yet manifesting not a trace of love or holiness in their conduct. Christian reader, let us be faithful; let us rebuke, by a life of self-denial and genuine benevolence, the self-indulgence and culpable inactivity of evangelical, yet worldly, profession. May God grant unto all His true-hearted people abundant grace for these things!

“What shall we say then? Shall We continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?” (Rom. 6:1,2).

Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time:

 

C. H. McIntosh

The Furtherance of the Gospel
June 1, 2012

“But I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel.” (Philippians 1:12)

The infrequently used word “furtherance” (meaning simply “advancement”) occurs elsewhere only in Philippians 1:25, where Paul speaks of the “furtherance and joy of faith,” which he hoped to see in the Christians at Philippi, and in 1 Timothy 4:15, where it is translated “profiting.” There, Paul urged young Timothy to continue studying the things of God “that thy profiting may appear to all.”

Paul wrote this epistle while he was unjustly imprisoned in a Roman jail, and no doubt he remembered the time when he had first met many of his Philippian Christian friends as a result of being imprisoned and beaten in a Philippian jail (Acts 16:12-40). In fact he had often been imprisoned (2 Corinthians 11:23) and had suffered severely in many other ways for “the furtherance of the gospel.”

Indeed, during the two years or more he was a prisoner in Rome, he not only taught God’s Word to many who visited him there (Acts 28:30-31) but also wrote at least four of his inspired epistles there (Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, Philemon–possibly even Hebrews). And these have been of untold blessing to millions down through the years. In ways which Paul could never have imagined, it was true indeed that these things which had happened to him had “fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel.”

The apostle Paul had the spiritual insight to realize that what seemed like great problems and difficulties could be used by God to the “advancement” of the gospel. Rather than complaining or even quitting when the Christian life gets hard, we must remember that God can make even “the wrath of man” to bring praise to Him (Psalm 76:10). HMM

The Redeemed of the Lord
June 2, 2012

“Let the redeemed of the LORD say so, whom he hath redeemed from the hand of the enemy.” (Psalm 107:2)

This hymn of praise for God’s providence centers around four examples of God’s deliverance from particular problems. The four situations are as follows: Lost travelers who are out of provisions far from a city (vv. 4-5), prisoners imprisoned for their own rebelliousness (vv. 1-12), those who have been brought to physical illness due to their sin (vv. 17-18), and sailors who face shipwreck on stormy seas (vv. 23-27). In each case, the individuals prayed for deliverance which resulted in God’s miraculous rescue and a response of praise.

This cycle reminds us of the pattern during the time of the Judges when “every man did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25). Due to their rebelliousness, God brought the people of Israel into captivity over and over again. Each time, in the midst of their oppression, they cried unto the Lord, who raised up a judge and empowered him to vanquish the enemy and free the people.

The exact same pattern can be found in Solomon’s prayer of dedication for the temple. He recognized man’s tendency to rebel and forget the Lord’s provision when things are going well, thus eliciting God’s judgment. But God has always used times of trouble to bring men and women back to Himself. He is a God of grace and mercy and love, desiring to forgive and restore those who repent and call to Him for deliverance (2 Kings 8).

The same truth applies today. We still tend to rebel, and He remains long-suffering, willing to forgive and restore upon repentance. “That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:7). JDM

Today In The WORD

Priority concern!  

Verse for Today: Thursday, May 31, 2012

Matthew 6:25b – Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?

Jesus commands us not to worry about our future needs because He provides these basic needs to all His children at the right time. But He is concerned that we think seriously about our inner person. What we do for our bodies will last only this life time, but what we do for our souls has eternal implications. So we must think about how we would feed our souls so that our inner person will grow and become healthier. Our inner person needs strength to face the attacks of the enemy. The tests that we pass through demand spiritual vitality and vigor. In order to exercise our faith in the Lord, we must look after our spiritual health. Jesus has given His Word as our spiritual food. The enemy of our souls will try to hinder us from devouring or craving for spiritual food. So we must fight battles to see to it that we eat spiritual food in adequate quantity so that our inner person will grow and become stronger to exercise faith. Jesus also reminds us that it is more important for us to be properly clothed with the robe of His righteousness that He has given us to wear all the time. If we claim the righteousness of God by faith, and live with brokenness in our spirits, we would be properly clothed by the righteousness of God. When we thus appropriate the divine robe of righteousness by faith and brokenness, we will be protected against guilt. But sadly we all worry far more about physical food and outward clothes rather than the spiritual food and the robe of righteousness for which we must depend on the Lord. Thus when we take spiritual food and cover ourselves with the robe of righteousness of God, we would enjoy spiritual health and growth lest we will become spiritually sick and retarded. As we live by eating the right spiritual food and wearing the robe of God, He will also lead us to meet all mundane needs through His means.

Dear friend, are you mostly concerned about the basic needs and wants of your current and future life? Are you bothered much about food, clothing, transport, shelter, retirement and amassing wealth for your future generations? The pulls of our flesh, the lust of our eyes and the pride of life lead us to think more about the physical needs and wants. Our distorted priorities tend make us give much less importance to the needs of our soul and spirit. When we thus ignore food for our souls and robe for our spiritual person, we slowly become cold-hearted and miss the zeal of our first love to the Lord. If we do not feed our souls with heavenly manna, it is impossible for our souls to grow and become strong in our faith and trust in the Lord. When our intake of spiritual food increase, we become more concerned about serving the Lord and not the world. The more we drink from the fountain of the Word, the more will be our desire for His Word which will cool us off from the heat of our sojourn through the desert. We must also live a life of repentance so that we would always cover ourselves with the robe of righteousness of God. Thus when we mind the Lord’s business with the strength we draw from His presence and His Word, He sees to it that our mundane needs of food, clothing and shelter will be met according to His riches in glory. This is the formula for living without anxiety and burden in life. Our Lord calls us to live without anxiety about earthly needs by putting all our cares on Him and relax in His presence. He wants us to make Him our greatest priority in life. When He cares for us, we do not have any reason to carry burdens for the mundane. Today we have another opportunity to live by faith and please Him as we look after His service here on earth while we live to enjoy the goodness that He imparts.

Psalms 37:4 – Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.

Thought for Today

God wants His children to be more concerned about the needs of the inner person.