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Word of Truth Scripture Ministry
Wednesday, 9 February 2005
Are you Happy today ?
Now Playing: What is it that gives us happiness and joy in life ?
Topic: Happy
HAPPY is the man that findeth wisdom. Proverbs 3.13
Whoso trusteth in the Lord, HAPPY is he. Proverbs 16.20
HAPPY art thou. . . O people saved by the Lord. Deut.33.29
HAPPY is the man whom God correcteth. Job 5.17
HAPPY is that people, whose God is the Lord. Psalm 144.15
The Christian's Daily, Saturday, September 18, 2004
John 13.17
"If ye know these things, HAPPY are ye if ye DO them."

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Posted by dondegr8 at 2:34 PM EST
Updated: Saturday, 11 November 2006 3:45 PM EST
Wednesday, 19 January 2005
Christ in the New Testament
Now Playing: How much does Christ mean to us in our daily life ?
Topic: Scripture
CHRIST AS SEEN IN THE BOOKS OF THE NEW TESTAMENT

Matthew - The King in Christ.

2:2 - Saying, Where is He that is born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the east, and are come to worship Him.

Mark - The Servant in Christ.

10:45 - For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for many.

Luke - The Man in Christ.

5:24 - But that ye may know that the Son of Man hath power upon earth to forgive sine, (He said unto the sick of the palsy,) I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy couch, and go into thine house.

John - God in Christ.

1:1 - In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

Acts - Power in Christ.

3:16 - And His name through faith in His name hath made this man strong, whom ye see and know: yea, the faith which is by Him hath given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all.

Romans - Justification in Christ.

4:25 - Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.

I Corinthians - Enriched in Christ.

1:5 - That in every thing ye are enriched by Him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge.

II Corinthians - Comforted in Christ.

1:5 - For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ.

Galatians - Liberty in Christ.

And that because of false brethren unawares brought in, who came in privily to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage.

Ephesians - Raised and Seated in Christ.

2:6 - And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.

Philippians - Rejoicing in Christ.

3:3 - For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.

Colossians - Complete in Christ.

2:10 - And ye are complete in Him, which is the head of all principality and power.

I Thessalonians - Hope in Christ.

1:3 - Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father.

II Thessalonians - Glorified in Christ.

2:14 - Whereunto He called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.

I Timothy - Faith in Christ.

3:13 - For they that have used the office of a deacon well purchase to themselves a good degree, and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus.

II Timothy - Grace in Christ.

2:1 - Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.

Titus - Order in Christ.

1:5 - For 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.

Philemon - Refreshing in Christ.

:20 - Yea, brother, let me have joy of thee in the Lord: refresh my bowels in the Lord.

Hebrews - Better in Christ.

7:22 - By so much was Jesus made a surety of a better testament.

James - Doing in Christ.

2:16 - And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; not withstanding ye give them not those thing which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?

I Peter - Suffering in Christ.

4:13 - But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when His glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.

II Peter - Knowledge in Christ.

1:8 - For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

I John - Love in Christ.

4:17 - Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the Day of Judgment: because as He is, so are we in this world.

II John - Truth in Christ.

:3 - Grace be with you, mercy, and peace, from God the Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love.

III John - Walking in Christ.

:3 - For I rejoiced greatly, when the brethren came and testified of the truth that is in thee, even as thou walkest in the truth.

Jude - Preserved in Christ.

:1 - Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, to them that are sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ, and called.

Revelation - Glorying in Christ.

1:5 - And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the king of the earth. Unto Him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood,

1:6 - And hath made us kings and priests unto God and His Father; to Him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

(selected from N. Berry)

Posted by dondegr8 at 11:29 AM EST
Friday, 7 January 2005
Mercy and Comfort
Now Playing: To what or to whom are we looking for comfort ?
Topic: Comfort
Mercy

Then (ver. 2) we have, "mercy unto you, and peace and love be multiplied." This is the only place where mercy is wished to the saints generally. When writing to individuals, to Timothy and Titus for instance, the apostle says "Mercy," but when to the saints generally, "Grace and peace."

Why does Jude bring "mercy" in here? Because they deeply needed the comfort. An individual ought always to feel the deep need of mercy, especially in the face of danger, and also in the sense of personal unworthiness; and now Jude gives the comfort of it to all these saints because of their imminent danger. I do not know any saints more in danger than ourselves, because grace has given us to feel for Christ's honour and name, and to have confidence in the scriptures as the word of God.

We should not look at a single word in them as a dead letter. I do not suppose that there is a single person here present brother or sister that has a doubt of a single word that God has written. It would be difficult nowadays to find yourself in such a company generally. People think inspiration is a very lively term, and that we must allow for the errors of those good men who wrote the Bible. What could we expect from such men even if learned? They judge by themselves, not by God, nor by the Holy Ghost.

Many of these men have not, I think, abandoned Christianity; but they are darkened by the spirit of unbelief. The spirit of the present day is as bad or worse as in any age since the Lord died and rose. There is one thing that marks it, and, that is lawlessness. A want of respect for everything that is above self, and a determination to have one's own way that is lawlessness. I do not know anything worse. It is what will characterise the whole of Christendom.

Now it works in individuals, and it also works largely in whole companies, but it will soon become the reigning spirit. And that is the distinctive name of the antichrist, "the lawless one." Christ was the Man of righteousness, Christ is the Man that gives everything its place according to God, and Christ is the One that gives God His place. As to everything and every person, He was the Man of righteousness; lawlessness has nothing but self as its great ambition, a fallen self man fallen from God.

The danger is great in the present day, and so it was when Jude wrote his Epistle. Therefore it is "mercy," not only "peace and love," but mercy unto you and peace and love be multiplied.&&&

Jude 20, Jude 21.

Well, now we come to a very comforting word. "But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in [the] Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in [the] love of God, awaiting the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto life eternal" (vers. 20, 21).

So then we are not to be cast down, we are not to be disheartened, even by these terrible pictures of evil. They are revealed in order that we should not be deceived, that we may really know what the actual state of Christianity is before the eye of God, instead of yielding to false expectations and wrong and imperfect judgments of our own. But even in the face of all that, there is this call to these beloved saints to build up themselves on their most holy faith. This is very carefully worded.

There is nothing at all said in this Epistle about leaders, or guides, or rulers, or preachers, or teachers either. In a general way, as far as there were any, they have a very bad character, not of course that all who preached or taught were so, but that there were many of this class that were so especially. The saints themselves are here exhorted directly.

And he further adds, "Looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life." I think that mercy is brought in here especially because of the great need, because of the distress, because of the weakness, because of everything that tended to cast people down. No, he says, do not be downcast, look for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ. Is it only by the way? No, it is all along the way, to the very end "unto life eternal," the great consummation. This could not be unless they already had life eternal in Christ now; but this mercy of God, "of our Lord Jesus Christ unto life eternal," looks at the full heavenly consummation.
Jude, William Kelly

(selected by D. Hopkins)

Posted by dondegr8 at 8:37 AM EST
Friday, 17 December 2004
The Spirit of God
Now Playing: Is the Holy Spirit being allowed to work in our life ?
Topic: Exposition
"ANOTHER COMFORTER"

Seven actions of the Spirit of God

JOHN 14:16

And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, (1) that He may abide with you forever;

(Example;

"....ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise, Which is the *earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of His glory. Ephesians 1:13-14)

JOHN 14:26

But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name,

(2) He shall teach you all things,

(Example;

But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him." 1John 2:27)

(3) and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.

(Example:

"I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive." Acts 20:35)

JOHN 15:26

But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, (4) He shall testify of me:

(Example;

"Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow." 1 Peter 1:11)

JOHN 16:13

Howbeit when He, the Spirit of truth, is come, (5) He will guide you into all truth:

(Example;

"But as it is written, "Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him." But God hath revealed them unto us by His Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God." 1 Corinthians 2:9-10)

for He shall not speak of Himself; but whatsoever He shall hear, that shall He speak: and (6) He will shew you things to come.

(Example;

"Come up hither, and I will show thee things which must be hereafter.

And immediately I was in the Spirit....:" Revelation 4:1-2)


JOHN 16:14

(7) He shall glorify me: for He shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you.

(Example;

"If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part He is glorified." 1 Peter 4:14)

"Now 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.
Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual." 1Corinthians 2:12-13

(* The Greek word for "earnest" of the Spirit, in modern Greek means, "engagement ring", given while we await the Bridegrooms descent.)

(selected from D. Hopkins, New Brunswick)

Posted by dondegr8 at 12:14 PM EST
Updated: Friday, 17 December 2004 12:31 PM EST
Thursday, 2 December 2004
Revealing the true spiritual state
Now Playing: Do our lives reflect spiritual weakness or spiritual power ?
Topic: Spiritual State
If, however, their souls had been in a good state, God would have manifested the hidden evil in their midst. The power of an ungrieved Spirit in the assembly brings to light all that dishonours Christ amongst His own.

The reason it was not so with Israel, was that there was something unjudged in the people and their leader. The hidden evil of Achan is the means of bringing out the hidden evil in the heart of the people.

When the assembly is in a good state, although always answerable for the sin of one of its members, it is made aware of it by the Holy Spirit, and finds itself in a position to put away the evil from its midst, and, as the case may be, to put out the wicked person.* It was thus in the early days of the church, in the case of the cutting off of Ananias and Sapphira; the power of the Spirit of God discovered and judged the evil immediately.

But here in Israel, hearts had to be brought by self-judgment to bear the sin of one as the sin of all before God. {*See Deut. 13: 6; Deut. 19: 19; Deut. 21: 18, 21; Deut. 24: 7; 1 Cor. 5: 13. It is well to observe that the cases where a man may be designated as a wicked person are not all specified in the word of God. No mention is made of a murderer, etc. The judgment being left to the spirituality of the assembly.}

Is it thus with us in these days of ruin? Do we feel the evil in the church? Do we recognise our responsibility as to all the corruption which has been introduced? Or are we self confident enough, in the presence of the rubbish, to think that we could do better than others, and that the ruin of the church is not our doing?

If our hearts are not habitually thus before God, we are sectarian; and, more than this, we may have to be reminded by a terrible defeat of the humility which becomes those who ought to have remained at Gilgal.

See how differently from our miserable hearts God judges. He says: "Israel hath sinned, and they have also transgressed my covenant which I commanded them; for they have even taken of the accursed thing; and have also stolen and dissembled also, and they have put it even among their own stuff." (v. 11)

Dr. H.L.Rossier


Posted by dondegr8 at 12:02 PM EST
Updated: Thursday, 27 January 2005 10:20 AM EST
Wednesday, 17 November 2004
God's Gracious Messenger
Now Playing: Have we learned God's ways
Topic: Guidance
ELIHU: God's Gracious Messenger

"There is that speaketh like the piercings of a sword: but the tongue of the wise is heath."

In one of the oldest books of the Bible, the book of Job, we find a fascinating insight into God's ways with man. Of particular interest in this respect is the discourse of Elihu, the fourth (and last) person to respond to Job's complaint.

When the words of Job had ended, and his three friends ceased to answer him, one who had waited for their words, and given ear to their reasonings, finally began to speak. Elihu the son of Barachel would also now show his opinion. There are those who have felt that his words were marred by self-assertiveness, that he was a dogmatist, and that Jehovah's rebuke (Who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge?) was directed at him. However, I believe we find in Elihu a true prophet, one who spoke as God's mouth, directly addressing Job's present state, and, more importantly, his standing before God. As such he is a beautiful type, or foreshadow, of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. On the way to Emmaus (in Luke 24) the Lord expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself. Could it have been that these speeches of Elihu's were referenced in that profound discourse?



In the 32nd chapter of Job, when men have run out of words to say, or even thoughts to think, a new and different character in displayed in the fourth and youngest responder. Elihu's "sonship" is noted, as if to indicate that here was one who came as his father's representative, who would not speak "from himself" (John 7:18). He was angered with Job because he justified himself rather than God, and with the three because they condemned yet had found no answer. In respect for their age he had waited on them and they had all spoken many true and wonderful words. But they all seemed to forget that there is a spirit in man, and it is the inspiration of the Almighty that gives understanding. (v.8) Experience, tradition and mere knowledge can often keep men from going directly into the presence of God for answers to their questions and problems. As God's mouthpiece (prophet), Elihu pointed out this failure, and "they were amazed, they answered no more".

Here was one in whom there was not only truth, but power: a foreshadow of the Master, "who taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes". Matt.7:29. "And no man after that durst ask him any more question." Mark 12:34.

Elihu describes the burden of his prophecy. And he had not contrived his words; instead he says, "I am full of matter, the spirit within me constraineth me." He uses the image of new wine bubbling as it ferments. He had good news. Wine in scripture has two capabilities: to purify, and to bring joy and soothing comfort. The words bottled up within Elihu had both effects, in due time in Job. So, too, the Lord Jesus is the mediator of a new covenant, or alliance, which is like new wine that cannot be put in old skins.

In the beginning of chapter 33, Elihu assures Job of the grace with which he comes. Job had cried out for a mediator, one to stand in the breach between a man and God. Although made out of clay, just like Job, here is a sent one, a messenger, one in a thousand, an interpreter to show man the upright way. The Spirit of God made him, and the breath of the Almighty had given him life. What a beautiful foreshadow of Christ! In Luke 4:18 the Lord stands up and declares, "the Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor: He hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives..." This is just what Job needed, and though Elihu gave him several chances to answer back, Job quietly listened to these words of "grace and truth". According to Job's wish, here was one "to stand in God?s stead". v.6 He comforts him (v.7), "behold, my terror shall not make thee afraid, neither shall my hand be heavy upon thee"

Elihu speaks to Job's conscience and pinpoints Job's particular area of offense toward God. In verse 8 he uses an unusual phrase, "...I have heard the voice of thy words, saying..." Elihu had been listening, not only to what Job said, but how he said it. While others were occupied only with what they might say next, and how they would show Job to be at fault, only Elihu was listening closely to him and noticed his tone of voice. In so doing he was given discernment to be of a help to this older saint. The voice of Job's words betrayed the attitude of his heart. He believed that he was innocent, neither was there iniquity in him. Therefore, he felt, God was unjust in bringing these trials on him.

But Job was mistaken on two counts, and Elihu confronts him in verse 12, "Behold in this thou are not just; I will answer thee, that God is greater than man." He was wrong to presume his innocence before God, though neither Satan nor his fellow man could find any fault on which to indict him. He was also wrong to assume that God was acting in judgment or vengeance in bringing these hard times upon him. God is called into account by no man. God is greater than man. God speaks to man in mercy and in grace, yet man is dull and does not perceive it. In dreams, in visions, in the midst of deep sleep, in all kinds of ways God speaks to men. Then he opens their ears and seals their instruction. Why? To draw back man from his purpose, and to hide pride from him. Job was a branch that had borne fruit for God. He was being pruned so that he would bear even more fruit. God was not dealing in angry vengeance, but in love correcting him to keep back his soul from the pit... v.18

So God allowed Job to be brought to the depth of despair. v.19-22 His soul did draw near to the grave, and his life to the destroyers. So too, "we have the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God..." 2 Cor.1:9 But, if there be a messenger with him, an interpreter, one among a thousand...Then He is gracious to him, and says, "Deliver him from going down to the pit: I have found a ransom." Elihu points our eyes forward to the coming of the Lamb of God, the Seed of the woman, who would give His life a ransom for many. He then tells of coming blessing on account of that ransom. Verse 25 is earthly blessing foretold, verse 26 brings in after-life. In the first, he is told that his flesh would become fresh, his youthful vigor return. The latter goes further. God would accept him, and he would see His face. Redeeming grace will be Job's song. v.27&28.

In verse 29 Elihu unfolds that not only is God doing this with Job, but "Lo, all these things worketh God oftentimes with man." What an insight into the ways of our God as He gently deals with the fallen sons of Adam! It is good to remember that the story of Job transpired before the book of Genesis was written. God had spoken in various times and in different ways to mankind. Enoch was a prophet and a teacher. The spirit of Christ went and preached first to Noah, and then through him, warning the spirits which are now in prison of the coming judgment. In Job's time there was not yet the written Word of God. Thanks must be given to God that He has given us this book, so rich in insights into His ways and dealings with the souls of the elect. According to His own ways, counsels, and purposes, He works these things oftentimes with man, to bring back his soul from the pit, that he may be enlightened with the light of life. And so, when the Word became flesh and tabernacled among us, John bore witness of Him, that He is the true light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man. John 1:4,9.

Elihu's desire towards Job was not to condemn him, but rather to justify him. Job had justified himself rather than God. Job had said (34:5), I am righteous, but God has taken away my right. The Lord Jesus Christ came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. Job did not have the third, fourth and fifth chapters of Romans to read. Christ had not yet suffered for our sins and been raised from the dead for our justification. But Elihu, unfolding the heart of God toward ruined Job, shares in God's desire to justify him. How different from Job's friends, who were really tormentors.1

Job said, "God is unfair to me. He has taken away the portion that was rightly mine. He has stricken me past the point of recovery, even though I'm blameless. Nobody ever had it so bad. There is absolutely no point in trying to be pleasing to God. There is no point, no profit, in trying to live a godly life." Job had sinned with his mouth. Satan's horrible attacks had not made him sin, nor had his wife's foolish contentions. It was the wearying accusations of his most trusted friend that had been used to bring to the surface what was always in Job's heart, though he had not known it.

"Now listen to me, you men of understanding!" We can almost hear Elihu's voice rising in verse 10. "Far be it from God to do wickedness! And the Almighty to do wrong!" God would be fair in paying to man according to his work, but that is not the end of the matter. John's gospel tells us plainly that, "All things came into being by Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being." Again, in Revelation 4:11, "Worthy art thou, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power: for Thou didst create all things, and because of Thy will they existed, and were created." So too, in Ephesians chapter 1 it is confirmed that God has made known to us the mystery of His will, according to the kind intention which He purposed in Christ...that is, the summing up of all things in Christ. We know that it is according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will. Eph. 1:11

Elihu takes up an expanding view of God's workings from verse 12 on. No one appointed authority to God. He has made the earth, the heavens, the angels, Satan, man, the demons, all things. Everything that happens, the believer can rest assured, every single thing, not only is working for my good, but will be shown at the end of history to be part of God's plan to head up all things in His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.

Verse 14. "If He should determine to do so, if He should gather to Himself His spirit and His breath, all flesh would perish together, and man would return to dust." When Jesus stood before Pontius Pilate, Pilate asked Him, "Don't you know that I have authority to release you, and I have authority to crucify you?"Jesus answered, "You would have no authority over Me, unless it had been given you from above..." John 19:10,11. Nebuchadnezzar learned this after living as an animal for an appointed period. He says of God, "For His dominion is an everlasting dominion, and His kingdom endures from generation to generation. And all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, but He does according to His will in the host of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and no one can ward off His hand or say to Him, What hast thou done?" This sentence was passed on him by angelic decree in order that the living might know that the Most High is ruler over the realm of mankind. All authority that men have is delegated authority, but God's authority is intrinsic. He is both the Creator and the Sustainer of all things. He sets up and tears down kingdoms. God's eyes are upon the ways of a man, and He sees all his steps. v.21. James 1:17 refers to God as the "Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, nor shadow of turning."

Elihu points out that there is no darkness or deep shadow where workers of iniquity can hide themselves. When we speak of God testing man under various administrations, it is not that God needs to know anything about us. Verse 23 tells us He does not need to consider a man further, that man should go before God in judgment. All the tests, all the trials, are for the benefit of the elect. God needs nothing from man to exist. He is the Self-Existing One Who Does Not Change. We, on the other hand, need His power constantly on us and toward us in order to survive, let alone prosper, second by second. When He keeps quiet, who than can condemn? When He hides His face, who then can behold Him? This principle holds true in regard to both nations and individuals. v.29. The point cannot be overemphasized. God is sovereign. He is over all creation.

In verse 31 Elihu asks as interesting question, "Has any one said to God, I have borne chastisement: I will offend no more?" Well, the answer is yes. Most of us who are believers have at one time or another prayed and asked God to show us our secret faults. We sing, "Search me, O God. Try me." If we have asked God to do this cleansing work with us, and to produce practical sanctification in us according to His word and will, is He then bound to do it according to our terms? What a foolish thought, dear Job, says Elihu. "If I told men of understanding what you've said, they would tell me, Job speaks without knowledge... Job ought to be tried to the limit, because he answers like wicked men..." v.34-37. Note that in correct translations it is not Elihu who is accusing Job here, rather he is pointing out to him that if he were to tell any one with wisdom, this is what they would say. The Lord Jesus is our advocate with the Father. He pleads, He intercedes on our behalf. In Ezekiel 22:30, Jehovah `searched for a man among them who should build up the wall and stand in the breach for Me for the land, that I should not destroy it." Pilate, so unaware of what he was saying, proclaimed "Behold the man!"

In chapter 35 Elihu's reproof becomes sharper as he guidedly grapples with the soul of this dear saint. Do you really think this is right, Job, that you should say, "My righteousness in greater than God's?? But God was working in Job. Elihu's words were entering into Job's soul. Knowledge was pleasant to it. The oil and the wine were beginning to have their desired effect, so there is no answering back from Job, no justifying himself.

Job had earlier asked, not expecting such an answer, "What advantage will it be to Thee? What profit shall I have, more than if I had sinned?" Elihu says, "Now I'm going to answer you, Job, you and your three friends." He points their eyes up toward heaven; He speaks for God. That is the role of the prophet. He speaks for God and directs man's gaze heavenward.

v.5 "Look at the heavens and see: and behold the clouds, they are higher than you." I believe that at this point a storm was forming. But this was a blessed storm, as God would appear to him from it. He makes clouds His chariots. He walks on the wings of the wind. Psalm 104. Look up, troubled saints of God! The very storm clouds that hide the brightness and warmth of the sunshine are the chariot of your God, the ruler of heaven and earth. It was the whirlwind that took the lives of Job's dear children. It would be out of the whirlwind that God would speak to Job. As the heavens are high above the earth, so are His ways above our ways.

Elihu goes into more detail explaining God being above man, then in v.14 "the case is before Him, and you must wait for Him". God is the Judge, not the defendant in any dealing with the sons of men. Some have dismissed Elihu's ministry by saying that God did not need any one to speak for Him. If that were the case here, it would also have to be true in all other times when a man spoke for God. The apostle Paul says, "I have believed therefore have I spoken". God loves to use empty, broken vessels to speak for Him, to declare His glorious truth to needy men. What a privilege to be used for the perfecting of the saints.

Elihu points out, however, in verse 15 another side of his ministry. God had spared Job "because He has not visited in His anger, nor has He acknowledged transgressions well." The Jews despised the Lord Jesus because He came as the meek and lowly One, not to set up the kingdom, but to preach forgiveness of sins, and to bring the dawn of the day of grace. Had He come then as King of kings and Lord of lords, they all would have been consumed out of the earth. The Jewish leaders, like Job, opened their mouths emptily, and multiplied words without knowledge.(v.16) Chapter 36 begins with Elihu's final body of principles before he completely turns Job's attention to the storm that has now developed around them. The messenger knows that he still has more to say on God's behalf before exiting the stage to get out of his master's way. Elihu was a faithful messenger; had he not delivered the whole message, he would have been like a broken tooth or a foot out of joint. As cold waters to a thirsty soul, so is good news from a far country. So Elihu had fetched his knowledge from afar. (v.3) And what is the good news? That although God is mighty He does not despise any. v.5 God's eternal power and His divine nature are clearly seen from creation, but it is only in the cross of Christ, looking by faith at God's only begotten Son hanging on the tree, that I can know that God is love. He is mighty in strength of understanding. Since Cain and Abel, God has spoken of mankind in two groups: the righteous and the wicked. The Lord has made everything for His own purpose, even the wicked for the day of evil. The Lord does not keep the wicked alive past the use He had for them (v.6), but He does not withdraw His eyes from the righteous (v.7). Elihu, as did the New Testament prophets, presents Job with his standing before addressing his present afflicted state. With kings on the throne, God has seated you, Job,forever, and they are exalted.

If at present the righteous are bound with fetters and caught with cords of affliction, God has lovingly brought them to this place so that He can declare to them their work, and their transgressions that they have magnified themselves. And He opens their ear to instruction, and commands that they return from evil. Those whom the Lord loves He disciplines, and He scourges every son whom He receives. "Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep they word." Ps.119:67 "It is good for me that I have been afflicted, that I may learn thy statutes." v.75 "I know O Lord, that Thy judgments are righteous, and that in faithfulness Thou hast afflicted me." Job did not have those blessed portions to read as we do today, but God sent His servant, an interpreter, one in a thousand to show Job the upright way. God has never left Himself without witness. It may be that this portion was of great comfort to the apostle Paul as he traveled in chains aboard the ship on his way to Rome. There again the Lord answered out of the storm.

v.11 If one hears reproof, and turns and serves Him, he will finish his days in pleasures, and his years in prosperity. If not, well, all that one can expect is to perish by the sword. The Lord's sheep hear His voice; He knows them; they follow Him. They will be like a tree planted by the rivers of water. The ungodly are not so, but are like the chaff driven away by the wind. They die without knowledge. There is no bowing to God when trouble comes. They do not cry for help (v.13), so their soul dies and their life perishes among the unclean. Solemn, warning! Awful, hopeless condition! How much better to have my ear opened in the time of adversity. Indeed, He has enticed us out of the mouth of distress; instead of distress He gives a broad place with no constraint. And that which He sets on our table is full of fatness. This is God's way of dealing in absolute grace with His elect. "Therefore, behold, I will allure her, bring her into the wilderness, and speak kindly to her. Then will I give her her vineyards from there, and the valley of Achor as a door of hope." Hosea 2:14,15

God had in times past filled Job's table with fatness. God had lavished temporal mercies upon him. Job saw the fruits of God's unmerited favor and mistakenly thought that what he was seeing was the fruits of his own righteousness! Now everything was taken away, everything was laid bare. It always had been in God's sight. Now Job lay naked, and covered with sores upon a heap of ashes. He had been full of judgment on the wicked, now judgment and justice had taken hold of him! A solemn warning from Elihu's lips. "Beware." v.18 "Be careful, do not turn to evil; for this you have chosen rather than affliction." Satan loves to tell mankind that evil is better than troubles. Our hearts naturally look for the broad road that leads to destruction. Only when we walk in the Spirit, we choose the upright way. Only in "the new man" are we willing to suffer in the flesh with a view towards ceasing to sin. Elihu sums up this section by exclaiming in verse 22, "Behold, God is exalted in His power; who is a teacher like Him? Who has appointed Him his way, and who has said, Thou doest wrong?"

From verse 24 to the end of the next chapter the prophet turns all eyes and ears to the intensifying storm, for out of it his Master will appear. We live in an insulated world. Our houses, joined to one another, have layers of fiberglass and Styrofoam to block out cold and sound. Our cars have shock absorbers so that we don't feel the bumps in the road. Everywhere there are lights to keep us from feeling the darkness. All manner of machines and devices cushion our every moment and desensitizes us from God's creation. "Remember that you should exalt His work of which men have sung. All men have seen it; man beholds from afar." Their line goes out into all the earth. Knowledge, falsely so-called, has sought to deny the Creator, who is God over all, blessed forever. The world by wisdom knew not God. Men of science are ever learning but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth. It is God who draws water up in drops. He is the One who sends the weather. "Look, Job, behold, see the clouds coming. Hear the thunder of God's voice. Watch as He comes with the lightning." He makes clouds His chariot, He walks on the wings of the wind. He makes His angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire.

The very storms of trouble that upset us and caused us to fear are the source of the rain that fills the streams and brooks and waters God's plants so that they bring forth sweet and useful fruit. God has given us first that which is natural, afterwards that which is spiritual. Our present bodies are suited and tied to this earth. As the lightening begins to strike, Elihu points out to Job that God has gathered it up in His hand and commanded it that it would strike the target that He has picked out for it. Nothing happens by chance. The fire from above that had entered into Job's bones was sent by God. The terrifying noise declares His presence. The cattle also, concerning what is coming.

Chapter 37 continues: "At this also my heart trembles." God wants men to tremble at His word. Doctors give men medication to keep them from trembling when God speaks. They take drugs or drink to excess to keep from trembling. Elihu said that his heart leapt from its place. You can almost hear the excitement building in the servant's voice. "Listen closely to the thunder of His voice, and the rumbling that goes out from His mouth. Under the whole heaven He lets it loose, and His lightning to the end of the earth. After it a voice roars; He thunders with His majestic voice; and He does not restrain the lightning when His voice is heard."

He is doing great things, much more than we, little finite beings, can ever comprehend. He tells the snow to fall. He commands the rain. Both the gentle shower and the mighty deluge come at His specific command. Why complain against the weather which He has sent? When God sends cold and snow from out of the north, the animals retreat into their dens and wait. It is the north and the south winds blowing on the Lord's garden which produces the lovely fragrances He loves to smell. The trial of faith is more precious to Him than gold that perishes.

After the flood the Lord sent a very strong wind to bind up a large portion of the waters. From His breath ice is made, and the expanse of the waters (polar caps) is frozen. Lord, give us child-like faith to worship Thee in the beauty of holiness! He gathers up the water, loads up the thick cloud (v.11). It changes direction under his guidance, that it may do whatever He commands. He has the whole world in His hands.

All this takes place constantly on the whole face of the earth (v.12). Verse 13 brings out a very important principle. These things happen, "whether for correction, or for His earth, or for lovingkindness", He causes it to happen. God sends storms, both literal and figurative, for various reasons. Sometimes we never know the reasons why in this life. It may be for correction. It may be as a loving and wise provider, as He brings forth grass for the cattle, and herbs for the service of man. How hard, even impossible, for fallen man, who has followed Satan's lies, to believe that in every trouble, every stormy wind, he can trust the wise and tender planning of the One whom faith now addresses as "Abba, Father".

We are told to judge nothing before the time. We must be content to let the all-knowing God be in complete control. How our natural hearts resist this truth!

Verse 14. Elihu speaks boldly now.

Listen to this, O Job, stand and consider the wonders of God. God shines His sun on you for a brief moment, He sends his south wind and your garments become hot...Can you, with Him, spread out the skies? Make them strong like a molten mirror? When our hearts realize just how brazen our words have been, how foolishly we have lifted up ourselves, we acknowledge "we cannot arrange our case because of darkness". God does not need to be told when man speaks. He speaks to men once, yea twice, and we do not perceive it. But before the word is even in our mouth, He knows it.

v. 21 Even though the sun is always shining, there are times when we do not see it. The wind, however, sent from God, clears away the clouds. We all with unveiled face, beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed. Out of the north, from that empty expanse, comes the golden splendor. Around God is awesome majesty. v.22 By searching we cannot find out God. He is found of those that sought Him not. God is not unrighteous toward man, but a man trusting in his own righteousness, his own wisdom, must be brought low to fear Him, so that GRACE may be poured out. To be found in Him, not having my own righteousness...Thank God for His pure grace.

Now Job's heart is bowed. The glories appear. As the clouds lift, the whirlwind comes. Job is ready to hear God, who answers him out of the whirlwind. There is still much that God may say, and Job has much more to learn. Elihu, the servant, quietly disappears. Like Melchisedec, he has no recorded beginning nor end. He delivers up his place to God, just as in a coming day the Lord Jesus will deliver up His kingdom to God, that God will be all in all.

KRG 1994

1 In referring to Job's tormentors, I am not speaking of the men (Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite), rather what they represent. Past or present experience, traditions of men (even good ones), and least of all, legalistic knowledge, are not in tune with the ways and gracious heart of God. They have no power but to accuse and torment the soul. They are used and allowed of God to make our lost and ruined condition manifest. They caused the sin in Job's natural heart to come out through his words.

Additional thoughts:

The story of Job does not end here. The Lord challenged Job to look at the elements and array himself. Job tells the Lord, "You speak, I'll listen." Then, in the closing 3 chapters we get deeper insight into the way God deals with us. Two characters are refered to: Behemoth and Leviathan. Behemoth is "chief over the ways of God", and Leviathan is ruler over all the children of pride.

The Lord has them both at His beck and call. We might take it that, while both may have been "dinosaurs" still living in Job's day, they represent the arch angel Gabriel (Behemoth) and Satan (Levithan). If we read the first chapter of Job, we find their regular presence before the Lord, and involvement in the affairs of His people. Providentially, Behemoth stopped the Jordan river with his tail to allow the children of Isreal to enter into the land of Canaan. In Job's life, and in ours, the Lord binds Satan for His service. He plays with him as a bird within a cage. A great lesson is that Satan has no power in the life of a believer except as used as a rod of correction for our good. There was one miracle repeated 3 times in early Exodus; the rod became a serpent, and then became a rod again. This miracle was shown to Moses personally, to the elders of Isreal, and lastly before Pharaoh. The same rod that became a serpent divided the Red Sea and brought water from the rock. His rod and His staff still comfort us.

KRG 2004

Posted by dondegr8 at 12:50 PM EST
Friday, 12 November 2004
Gethsemane
Now Playing: He was crushed for US, how much does it mean to us?
Topic: Sacrifice
Gethsemane:

Gethsemane was an orchard or garden, meaning, "oil press", the place olives were crushed, providing the rich ancient oil for the anointing of the High Priest in order to enter the presence of God to make atonement, with oil Kings were anointed by prophets to rule the people of God, olive oil provided light, warmth and food. Ezekiel proclaims it to be a sign of God's blessing upon His people, 16:13.

Olives were harvested by beating the olive tree, Deut 24:20 just as our Lord Jesus was beaten by our hearts at the hands of Roman authority. Micah speaks of treading the olives by foot, Micah 6:15. 1 Kings 5:11, 2 Chronicles 2:10, olive oil was an indication of great wealth. The olive tree was considered a symbol of peace, Gen 8:11

Gethsemane, was the place, the fruit would be crushed.

Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane... And he took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee.... and began to be sorrowful and very heavy.... My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death:... And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt. And he cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them asleep, and saith unto Peter, What, could ye not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done. And he came and found them asleep again: for their eyes were heavy. And he left them, and went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words. Matthew 26: 36-44

And he was withdrawn from them about a stone's cast, and kneeled down, and prayed, Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done. And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him. And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground. Luke 22: 41-44

And they came to a place which was named Gethsemane: and he saith to his disciples, Sit ye here, while I shall pray. And he taketh with him Peter and James and John, and began to be sore amazed, and to be very heavy; And saith unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful unto death: tarry ye here, and watch. And he went forward a little, and fell on the ground, and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. And he said, Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt. Mark 14: 32-36

"Sorrowful and deeply depressed"
" heavy", (distressed or sore troubled.)
" Exceeding sorrowful"(intense sadness or deeply grieved)
"sore amazed" (The root word signifies, to render immovable, and associated with "terror" or to be "struck in mind".)

Being in an " agony", (severe emotional strain and anguish.)
"Great drops of blood" (literally, large thick, drops of clotted blood,
The word is etymologically akin to "curdle")
Gethsemane is the press crushing our Saviour, I can only calculate, and quite inadequately, His sufferings based upon the evidence of His physical pain, being thoroughly unable to comprehend the sufferings at the Hand of the Holy God. We see our Lord Jesus anticipating the press, crushing from Him sweat, great drops of blood.

What did He feel there? Facing the press to be crushed.

The fruit has been crushed and the Holy Dove presents us with the olive branch, His Peace,and notification the Lord Jesus has procured an habitation, in His Fathers house for us. The waters of judgement having exhausted their fury upon Him and the regeneration is ours for Eternity. I am astonished as I consider what He has accomplished.

"He hath done this"

Psalm 22:31


There is a place where mercy sheds

The oil of gladness on our heads;

A place than all beside more sweet--

It is the heavenly mercy-seat.

Poet (Poet ink)

Posted by dondegr8 at 12:47 PM EST
Wednesday, 22 September 2004
Proper Response
Now Playing: How do we respond to severe troubles ?
Topic: Spiritual State
Midian's Attacks and Our Proper Response

This morning, I was reading in Judges 6, and I was reminded of thoughts I believe the Lord gave me about this chapter some years ago in an "open" ministry meeting in a conference.

As we find a number of times in the book of Judges, Israel's sin resulted in the Lord delivering them into the hand of this or that enemy. In this case, it is Midian, that speaks of strife. It is the government of God on them for their sin. I was thinking how applicable that is to those of us gathered together to the Lord's name alone.

In the 50 years I have been among those thus gathered, I do not remember a time when there was more strife among the beloved saints.

What is the result when strife overcomes us? Sadly, we read that "Israel was greatly impoverished because of Midian". No sustenance was left. What they sowed was destroyed. What a discouraging time!

Some made for themselves dens and caves to "get away from it all". Can we really blame them? Going off and isolating oneself from all the strife has an appeal to the sensative soul. And yet, it was not God's remedy.

Feeling their impoverishment, they cried to the Lord. Have we done that in earnest, beloved brothers and sisters? Conferences which have often provided nourishment for us and our young people are cancelled, but have we come together instead to humble ourselves in His presence and to hear the prophetic word from God Himself?

When they cry to the Lord, He faithfully sends a prophet to them, but have you noticed this prophet has no word of encouragement for them? He simply, as God's mouthpiece or spokesperson, delineates their sin for them, and ends his message with the solemn pronouncement, "ye have not hearkened to my voice."

But then, our attention is directed to a most interesting scene. The Angel of the Lord (a pre-incarnate appearance of the Son of God) comes and sits, unseen and unnoticed, observing Gideon threshing wheat (in type, getting for himself and perhaps for others something of Christ) in the winepress (the place of self-judgment), to secure it from the Midianites.

Gideon is not running to a cave or den or stronghold, but he is concerned that what he has gleaned be secured from the Midianites

At this point, the Angel of the Lord appears to him and assures him that the Lord is with him and calls him a "mighty man of valour." Gideon takes his place with the people of God and asks, "Oh my Lord, if the LORD be with us, why then is all this befallen us?" He recognises the hand of the Lord in what has come upon Israel, and that becomes his strength and the basis on which the Lord uses him to deliver Israel from the hand of the Midianites. "Go in this thy might, and thou shalt save Israel from the hand of the Midianites: have not I sent thee?"

But Gideon then confesses his natural inability and the poverty of his family (verse 15). The Lord's answer is so assuring: "Surely I will be with thee, and thou shalt smite the Midianites as one man." That is the ULTIMATE assurance, that He will be with Gideon.

Brave Gideon had three humdred men--

The Midianites had a host--

But Gideon had the LORD with him,

And so he had the most

(from Selections by R.K.G.)

Posted by dondegr8 at 11:59 AM EDT
Updated: Friday, 17 December 2004 12:30 PM EST
Wednesday, 8 September 2004
Devotion to Him
Now Playing: How devoted are we to our Saviour ?
Topic: Spiritual State
"I Love Thee Still"

F. C. Blount

That there is a growing tendency to looseness and laxity must be apparent to any who are taking account of things, and especially does this take the form of worldliness in amusements, dress, furnishing of our homes, our affiliations and companionships.

The cross, in which we once gloried, as crucified with Christ, seeing on the one side a dead world and on the other a dead self, we view as the transaction in which our sins were put away, and there we pause, disinclined to accept it as the end of ourselves for the world and the end of the world for us (Gal. 6:14). "God forbid that I should glory" has ceased to be our prayer. We do not want the world rendered an object of contempt and shame to us, nor do we want to be rendered this to the world; and yet, this is where the cross leaves us.

We have lost CHRIST, maybe not as the object of faith, but as the object of affection. All declension begins here. With many of us it would seem to be enough to know Him as a Saviour. We are quite willing to use His sorrows and sufferings to separate us from our sins, but we do not want these to separate us from ourselves and our surroundings. With the individual as with the Assembly, we are under the charge of "Thou has left thy first love," and solemnly called to "Remember therefore from whence thou has fallen." There may be much in us that He can commend, but if He has lost His place in our hearts, if affections are alienated, we are "fallen." Searching and solemn indictment! And what is His word to us? "Repent!"

It is not enough to be "on the ground," and to "have the truth." We but repeat the sin of the Pharisees when we become content and complacent with externals. The truth must give us a state that comports and agrees with the place we are in. If this is effected, we will not "walk in the manners" of that world from which His cross has separated us.

Has the blessed Spirit been so grieved that He can no longer make good to us what is true of us in Christ? Have we lost the sense of His preciousness in our souls? (1 Peter 2:7)? What disposition or desire can be satisfied apart from CHRIST in whom every beauty, every charm and every glory meet? All must be disappointing, ephemeral, and empty. The joy we are looking for, we are leaving behind in turning away from HIM. Once its passions and pleasures, its gold and its glory, we counted but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus your Lord. "Where is then the blessedness we speak of?" Iniquity abounds, and the love of many waxes cold.

But HE is the same, and our failure has not diminished His fullness; it is for us still. However chilled in heart or wayward in walk, I hear Him saying, "I love thee still." Is there not a message from the cross, where love's sweetest story was so fully told, where we became His at such awful cost, where He bought us so dearly?



"I gave it all for thee;

What has thou given for Me?"


How much we are missing by leaving Him out of our lives! And how much He is missing! The next thing to being with Him there is to have Him with us here, to have His conscious presence, and so have a part with Him. When everything was slipping, Paul wrote to Timothy, "The Lord Jesus Christ be with thy spirit."

Do we catch this? It is the first movement toward being already in heaven. He was given for us. Glory to His name! But have we lost Him as the One who gave Himself for us? Oh, what a loss, since, "Christ is all." He the exalted One, far above all heavens," and we, not only the object of His consideration, but of His love!

Do we begin to grasp that height to which HE has been carried; "far above all heavens?" HE has the pre-eminence in all things; and "I am His, and His desire is towards me." What a secret to be in; a secret angels cannot know. Wait before HIM until He fills us with His own fullness. For one look at HIM there, Paul, "counted all things but loss." No wonder he passed into an ecstasy, and was "beside himself." Stephen, occupied with Him and His glory, wore an angel's face. Look long and lingeringly in that face that streams with the light of His glory, and it will cast a shade on all below.

And are we passing it all by? It is our loss now, and eternally. Once in the secret of what CHRIST is, earth's joys will become stale, and as HIS COMING casts the light of the nearing glory across this "little while," it will take the burden from our cross, and the sharpness from the thorns as we "haste to meet Him with a bridal hymn."

Posted by dondegr8 at 12:37 PM EDT
Thursday, 26 August 2004
The Old Paths
Now Playing: Are we walkings as He would have us to ?
Topic: Obedience
THE OLD PATHS

J Muller

"Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where [is] the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk [therein]." Jeremiah 6: 16

"Remove not the ancient landmark, which thy fathers have set." Proverbs 22: 28

"But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned [them];" 2 Timothy 3: 14

We live in the distressing times of the last days, during which the power of godliness would be enfeebled to the profit of external forms (2 Tim 3: 1, 5). The danger for us lies in doing everyone that which is right in our own eyes (Judges 21: 25), in neglecting the testimony that God has confided to His assembly on earth (1 Timothy 3: 15).

The lines that follow recall some of the things that we have learned, in order to exhort us to walk together in the old paths for the rest of our souls and for the joy of Christ.



1. THE AUTHORITY OF THE WORD

The complete expression of the thought of God, the inspired Scripture has an absolute authority. The rule of our Christian life as of the life of the assembly, it is the word of the grace of God; by it God builds us up (Acts 20: 32). Obedience to the Word is the sole road of blessing. There does not exist a formal text to answer every one of our circumstannces; but the thought of the Saviour is always known by the heart (Prov 2: 10) and the conscience, in submission to the Scriptures.

2. THE BELIEVER AND THE TWO NATURES

Every human being born into this world is a lost sinner (Romans 5: 12); the evil is neither in the material itself, nor in the human organism and its faculties. But in a man, descendant of Adam, all is misery and filthiness (Isaiah 1: 6). God declares that that state is hopeless (Isaiah 2: 22).

By faith in Christ and His work, the believer receives as a gift of God eternal life, which is Christ himself (1 John 5: 11). Having put off the "old man", the believer puts on the "new man" (Ephesians 4: 23). He becomes a child of God (John 1: 12), and is made part of the family
of God (1 John 3: 1).

From that point on, the human being of the believer (spirit, soul and body), with all its faculties, carries in him two natures, that which is "spirit" and that which is "flesh" (John 3: 6). The coexistence of the two natures in the believer involves an internal conflict between the flesh and the Spirit (of which the body of the believer is the temple).

If he is negligent, he can produce the sad "works of the flesh", instead of offering to God "the fruit of the Spirit" (Galatians 5: 19, 22).

3. THE HOUSE OF GOD ON EARTH AND THE BODY OF CHRIST

Each believer (born anew and sealed with the Holy Spirit) is a living stone in the house of God on earth (1 Peter 2: 5), as well as a member of the body of Christ. That vital link of the body of Christ can not be broken, or even altered. On the other hand, the initial thought of God with regard to His house on the earth has been lost by the unfaithfulness of man. Christendom has become a great house where only "the Lord knows them that are His" (2 Timothy 2: 19).

The first characteristic of the house of God, temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 3: 16) is holiness (Psalm 93: 5; 1 Peter 1: 15, 16). Now that which is holy does not do away with defilement, and defilement always profanes that which is holy (Haggai 2: 12, 13). Leaven (figure of moral or doctrinal evil) corrupts the whole mass (1 Corinthians 5.6; Galatians 5: 9).

Thus all believers who desire to be faithful to their Lord are called to separate themselves for Him (2 Timothy 2: 19, 21, 22) and to go forth unto Him (Hebrews 13: 13). Those who call upon Him out of a pure heart then find themselves together in order to realize the promise of the Lord to be in the midst of them (Matthew 18: 20).

4. THE LOCAL ASSEMBLY - ITS NATURE AND ITS RESPONSIBILITIES

In a locality, those Christians, separated from iniquity and gathered to the name of the Lord, are - if they realize the thought of God with regard to His assembly - the local _expression of the assembly, the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12: 12, 27). Such gatherings of believers are not independent one of the other: their unity is that of the body of Christ, represented locally by each one of them.

Christ is the source of all the activity of the saints, Who works through the Holy Spirit, for the edification of the body, the assembly.

All the believers, members one of the other, are exhorted to "keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace" (Ephesians 4: 3).

The local assembly is the sphere of the collective life of the saints.

It is there where worship is rendered to the Father and to the Son, there where is presented the prayer of the assembly. There also the spiritual nourishment of Christ for His body is received (through the gifts). Any activity exercised in a spirit of independence vis-a-vis the assembly cannot be blessed in the long run, even if it appears useful for a time!!

The assembly possesses furthermore the prerogative of binding or loosing on earth (Matthew 18: 18). An assembly decision, taken in the name of the Lord, in one place, by those who are gathered around Him, is ratified in heaven; all the gatherings who represent the body of Christ recognise it. This practical solidarity of the assemblies is an essential truth. It flows from their very existence.

5. THE TWO MINISTRIES OF THE GOSPEL AND THE ASSEMBLY

During the present period of grace, God calls (out of the world) a people for His name (Acts 15: 14). The thought of Christ is of realizing the "increase of His body to the edifying of itself in love" (Ephesians 4: 16. To this end, He gives some evangelists for bringing souls to Him, joining them to His body which grows in number. He gives also some pastors and teachers in the assembly, for the perfecting of the saints; the body thus grows in the knowledge of Christ.

The apostle Paul was a servant of the gospel and servant of the assembly (Colossians 1: 23, 25); his two minitries were exercised in harmony in order to accomplish the design of God. In turn, we are invited to cooperate together in the two aspects of this work, "according to the effectual working by which every part does its share" (Ephesians 4: 16).

6. DISCIPLINE IN THE ASSEMBLY

The responsibility of the assembly is exercised in the sphere that the Word calls the "within" (1 Corinthians 5: 12), there where effectively the rights of the Lord are recognised, that is to say at His table. The solemn authority conferred by the Lord to His assembly on earth ought to be exercised with fear, in seeking the mind of the Lord, and the profound conviction of His approval. The assembly is not infallible; a decision, even if taken by the many (2 Corinthians 2: 6), can be erroneous. He who feels himself to be the object of an injustice ought to commit his cause with confidence to the Lord (Psalm 37: 5, 6).

Humility, patience and softness of spirit are necessary for all. The Lord will not fail to intervene when our "obedience has been fulfilled" (2 Corinthians 10: 6).

An assembly that refuses to judge evil by discipline looses its character as an assembly of God. On the other hand, grace alone wins souls and picks up the fallen; and discipline (where the purpose is always the healing of plagues) is precisely the prerogative of love.

The Word invites us to moderation in our judgements. With regard to believers, the term "evildoer" is only employed for one who is in a persistant state of grave evil, moral or doctrinal. The table of demons (1 Corinthians 10: 21) characterizes idolatry and cannot be applied to any Christian gathering. The _expression is applied by the apostle (with regard to things sacrificed to idols) to illustrate a very important general principle: to participate in a table involves communion with all that is in fellowship with that table. Thus, many pious Christians are connected ecclesiastically with errors, without presenting the character of evildoer, and even less participating in a table of demons. Still, despite the vital link that unites us in Christ, we cannot have communion with them at the table of the Lord.

7. THE SUPPER AND TABLE OF THE LORD

The supper is the precious remembrance of the death of the Lord during His absence (1 Corinthians 11: 26). Each Christian ought to respond from his heart to the touching invitation of His Saviour. At the same time, to partake of the one broken bread (symbol of the death of Christ, Man, in His body given for us) expresses on the earth the unity of the body (spiritual) of Christ (1 Corinthians 10:17).

The supper (the memorial) and the table of the Lord (the communion) are distinguished in Scripture but are inseparably tied together. To respond to the desire of the Lord (in participating of the supper) implies the recognition of His rights over our personal life (1 Corinthians 11: 27-32) and in the assembly (at the table of the Lord).

There, the believers are subject to the discipline of the assembly under its various forms; they are in practise "submitting to one another in the fear of Christ" (Ephesians 5: 21).

8. THE TABLE OF THE LORD AND THE UNITY OF THE SPIRIT

To take the supper of the Lord in being gathered at His table is a collective act done in the consciousness that the saints gathered in assembly are a local _expression of the entire body of Christ.

The Lord invites us then to receive at His table every believer sound in his walk and in the doctrine of Christ. He who desires to approach ought nevertheless to be conscious of the path to which he commits himself, as also of the character of the collective testimony. He enters into the domain where the discipline of the assembly is exercised.

This same truth of the unity of the body involves other practical consequences:

(a) No Christian can participate in the supper on his individual responsibility alone in evaluating his own state. He is not free to break bread at his own will in any Christian place of his choice.

One brother alone has no authority for deciding who can participate in the supper.

(b) To receive a believer occasionally at the table of the Lord cannot be done except with great prudence, under the profound conviction of engaging the conscience. This ought never to be the deliberate sanction of a state of independence of one who desires to keep liberty to come and go.

(c)Finally, an assembly gathered to the name of the Lord may not allow that the supper be taken by a person who presents himself on his testimony alone. The letter of commendation (2 Corinthians 3: 1) is the scriptural means of maintaining in practise fellowship among the assemblies.

9. THE GOOD OF THE FLOCK OF THE LORD

In times of decline, separation from evil remains the divine principle of the unity realized around Christ. Gates to the city of Jerusalem were missing in the times of Nehemiah, as were also watchmen on the walls (Isaiah 62: 6). Applying all to us in realizing this separation with sorrow and humiliation, let us think of the good of the Lord's flock; let us preach grace, which attaches our souls to Christ, and directs the desire of our hearts toward Him, in awaiting His coming.

10. AN APPEAL TO OUR HEARTS

Well-beloved brothers and sisters, the Lord has revealed to us His thought with regard to the heavenly destiny of His assembly, but also with regard to its walk and its testimony on earth. To keep the good deposit of these truths (2 Timothy 1: 14) is a charge that we are together invited to maintain (Malachi 3: 14). Contrary to the thought expressed in the time of the prophet, there is profit in walking mournfully before God, and it is not vain to serve Him in fearing Him.

Have we not abandoned our "first love" (Revelation 2: 4) for Christ? He calls us to repent, to "strengthen that which remains" (Revelation 3: 2), in keeping His word and in not denying His name (Revelation 3: 8).

Together, then, may we hear His voice, with a tender heart (2 Chronicles 34: 27), with a broken and humble heart (Psalm 51: 17), but confident in the resources of His grace and the full sufficiency of His name that gathers.

Jean Muller

Translated from the French by Richard K Gorgas and taken from the January 1994 issue of "le messager Evangelique," a monthly publication now in its 135th year. Used by the author's permission.

Posted by dondegr8 at 8:13 AM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, 31 August 2004 12:49 PM EDT
Saturday, 21 August 2004
His Side
Now Playing: Are we following His claims on us ?
Topic: Holiness
Joshua 5.13 ? And it came to pass when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, there stood a man before him with his sword drawn in his hand. And Joshua went to him, and said to him: "Art thou for us, or for our enemies?"

14 And he said, "No; for as captain of the army of Jehovah am I now come". Then Joshua fell upon his face to the earth, and worshipped, and said to him, "What saith my lord unto his servant?"

15 And the captain of Jehovah's army said to Joshua, "Loose thy sandal from off thy foot: for the place whereon thou standest is holy." And Joshua did so.

How often we claim the Lord is for us, or on our side in an issue! Joshua had to learn that the man with the drawn sword he saw was not taking sides, but coming as the captain of Jehovah's host. Joshua's place was to fall on his face to the earth, and to ask "What saith my lord unto his servant?"

A sense of the holiness of the ground we stand on becomes us, not claims of the Lord being for us, and not for others.

Posted by dondegr8 at 6:41 PM EDT
Updated: Thursday, 27 January 2005 10:19 AM EST
Friday, 6 August 2004
Obedience and Submission
Now Playing: Have we considered God's healing principles ?
Topic: Obedience
Obedience and Submission; healing principles.

J.H. Smith

OBEDIENCE and submission are the healing principles of humanity. How constantly they were exemplified in the life of our Saviour! Through grace we are taught of God to bow. I do not say "to approve" always, but to respect divinely constituted authority in its place, in reverence toward HIM who gave it, while waiting patiently on the Lord, if He sees an abuse of authority, to correct the one at fault in His own time and way. "All power is given unto" HIM "in heaven and in earth."

In the Word, the delegation of authority is revealed in at least five aspects, namely: to the husband, to the father, to the "powers that be," to the master, and to the assembly.

The Husband's Authority

The formal _expression of the husband's authority was made to Adam's wife immediately after the fall. It was revealed to the one who was to be in the subject place. "Thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee."

Will any husband be bold enough to assert that he has never abused his authority as husband? I'm sure not. Did not the Spirit of God foresee that Christian husbands would often fail in their exercise of authority, when He indited these pointed words, "Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them"? Col. 3:19. When does the God-given authority of a husband over a wife cease? When he fails in the exercise of it? No! Only when death intervenes is she loosed from the law of her husband. What is the divine remedy prescribed by the Lord for our wives when we have abused our authority? SUBMISSION! (Eph. 5:22-33.) That heals! Insubjection leads to a divorce court.

The Father's Authority

The father's authority is supplementary to a husband's, and combined with it invests a man with authority as the head of a house. Its existence is assumed and its exercise is clearly portrayed from the early chapters of Genesis on to the time of the giving of the law (Exodus 20). Then children were formally commanded to honor their father and their mother (she being viewed as one with the father in their joint care of their children). This in itself implies subjection, which is enjoined on the children of Christian parents (and on other children, too, who read or hear God's Word). "Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well-pleasing unto the Lord." Col. 3:20.

What is the divine remedy prescribed by the Lord for our children when we have abused our authority?

SUBMISSION!

Is any father bold enough to assert that he has never abused his authority as a father? I'm sure not. Did not the Spirit of God foresee that Christian fathers would often fail in their exercise of authority, when He caused these searching words to be written, "Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged"? Col. 3:21. When does the God-given authority of a father over his children cease? When he fails in the exercise of it? No, only when the children leave father and mother to take up new relationships owned of God in nature. What is the divine remedy prescribed by the Lord for our children when we have abused our authority? SUBMISSION! "We have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence. . . . They verily . . . chastened us after their own pleasure." Heb. 12:9,10. Insubjection is a moral characteristic of the "last days," as it is written, "Disobedient to parents." 2 Tim. 3:2.

The Authority of the "Powers that Be"

Authority to deal with violence against the life of man, is found in Genesis 9:6: "Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made He man." God-given authority to punish the greatest violence done to one's fellow man includes authority to deal with all lesser acts of lawlessness. With the advent of Christianity, it became necessary to define the obligations of believers in this world, a people taken out from among the Jews and the Gentiles for God's name, toward the "powers that be." Toward the civil authorities, what was the responsibility of a people who had been made partakers of a heavenly calling, whose associations of life were in heaven, and whose walk in this world (in the thoughts of God) was to be a living _expression of that calling? Romans 13:1-7 gives us this instruction (note that it is the subject party that is addressed): "Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God." In Titus 3:1, the charge is reiterated: "Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates", and again in 1 Peter 2:13: "Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake."

What is to be our attitude when an abuse of God-given authority of this character takes place and we are the ones who suffer wrongfully? To take an extreme case (which, for the principle at stake, embraces all others), suppose that I am arrested by a man in a policeman's uniform whose badge of authority and whose warrant for my arrest are not to my certain knowledge bona fide; furthermore, he is partially intoxicated. I am absolutely innocent of the alleged crime. What shall I do? Shall I remind him that he is drunk? Shall I tell him that I do not feel obliged to obey his summons inasmuch as I am not sure that he really represents his professed jurisdiction? Shall I plead my innocence? No, I am to SUBMIT, leaving the policeman with his full responsibility toward his superiors to answer for himself, committing my own case into the hands of the judge. Surely none of us has any difficulty as to what the real character of authority is under conditions such as this, nor as to the rightness of submitting to the authority.

The Master's Authority

Sin had not been long in the world until an abnormal relationship developed: that of slavery, men with their wives and children becoming the property of masters, who did with them as they pleased. In the wisdom of a sovereign God He permitted this abnormal relationship to continue to subsist. Abram had no less than 318 menservants alone, "born in his own house." Gen. 14:14. It is not recorded in Scripture that the Lord said anything to him about setting them at liberty. The law (Ex. 21) recognized the condition of bondslavery, making a provision for the slave bought with money to go out free in the seventh year by himself, which was seldom the case.

The very place of subjection has been glorified by our Lord Himself, who "took upon Him the form of a servant."

Under grace, the same condition of slavery is taken cognizance of, but not set aside. Considering, however, the difficulties encountered by a Christian slave seeking to reconcile the will of God with that of a heathen master, if opportunity to obtain his freedom presented itself, he was to take advantage of it (1 Cor. 7:21), but this also was seldom the case. Christian bondmen, therefore, have a more numerous list of instructions addressed to them than are given to any other persons placed by God in the position of subjection.

From the instructions given to bondslaves, we see how fully we should recognize and respect a master's authority. While not bondslaves, most of us in our employment are in the servant position to our employers. How profitable these instructions are for our own souls because of the divine principles they set forth! "Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart; with good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men: knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive." Eph. 6:5-8. "Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh." Col. 3:22-25. "Let as many servants as are under the yoke count their own masters worthy of all honor, that the name of God and His doctrine be not blasphemed. And they that have believing masters, let them not despise them, because they are brethren; but rather do them service, because they are faithful and beloved, partakers of the benefit." 1 Tim. 6:1,2. "Exhort servants to be obedient unto their own masters, and to please them well in all things; not answering again; not purloining, but showing all good fidelity; that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things." Tit. 2:9,10. "Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward. For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully. . . . Because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow His steps: who did no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth: who, when He was reviled, reviled not again; when He suffered, He threatened not; but committed Himself to Him that judgeth righteously." 1 Pet. 2:18-23. How clearly and blessedly these scriptures indicate that glory redounds to God through whole-hearted submission by those in the most trying relationship of all in this world, that of bondslaves! Indeed, the very place of subjection has been glorified by our Lord Himself, who "took upon Him the form of a servant." Phil. 2:7.

Truly, are not obedience and submission the healing principles of humanity? Obedience to the revealed will of God results in submission to divinely recognized authority. A subject wife wins a disobedient husband by her chaste conversation coupled with fear! (1 Pet. 3:1,2.) A subject Child has His ministry interrupted, so to speak, by "His parents" (Luke 2:41) who did not know that He must do His Father's business, but He "went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them"! Luke 2:51. A subject Christian apostle, captive and sport of the "powers that be," styles himself the "prisoner of the Lord"! Eph. 4:1. He thus had a door opened to proclaim the gospel of the grace of God to Agrippa and to Nero, whose abuse of their God-given authority is overruled of God in sovereign goodness to spread the truth abroad! "The Lord stood with me, and strengthened me; that by me the preaching might be fully known, and that all the Gentiles might hear: and I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion." 2 Tim. 4:17. A subject Christian servant endures grief, suffering wrongfully (1 Pet. 2:19). He thus commends Christ to a froward master and has the joy of communion in his own soul with the blessed One in whose footsteps he walks!

Authority Vested in the Assembly

As I have already stated, the delegation of authority by God presupposes the activity of the evil nature in fallen man in its manifold forms of _expression. Galatians 5:19-21 gives us an appalling list of things which each of us not walking in the Spirit is capable of doing! "Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are fornication, uncleanness, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, strifes, jealousies, angers, contentions, disputes, schools of opinion, envyings, murders, drunkennesses, revels, and things like these; as to which I tell you beforehand, even as I also have said before, that they who do such things shall not inherit God's kingdom." (JND.) Therefore (even though we are a new creation in Christ and members in particular of the one body of Christ, vitally united by one Spirit to Him our living Head in heaven), the ever-present capability in us, individually and collectively, of giving way to the lusts of the flesh when out of communion with the Lord, makes it necessary for the Christ, as "Son over His own house" (Heb. 3:6), to make the assembly responsible for its behavior as "the house of God" (1 Tim. 3:15) here on earth. Accordingly He invested the assembly (in its local _expression) with authority to deal with "whatsoever" it judged to be inconsistent with its position as representative of Christ in this world.

An immense responsibility was thus placed upon the assembly as a responsible body! Where, in the various forms of delegated authority previously considered, whether to the husband, father, civil authority or master, do we find so solemn and so sweeping an investiture of divinely constituted authority as the Lord enunciates here? Indeed, in the former cases, the authority is assumed to be operative, and those subject to it are addressed. Wives, children, saints, and servants are acquainted with, or reminded of, their respective places of subjection. But now there is to be a new thing on earth, a church, one with Christ its Head! And through the local _expression of it, divine title is given to exercise authority.

The Lord, prefacing with His solemn "verily" this irrefutable grant to the assembly, defines its scope and character: "Verily, I say unto you, whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven." Matt. 18:18. He that challenges the authority vested thus in the saints gathered together (be they only two or three) by the Spirit of God unto Christ's name, challenges the LORD HIMSELF, for HE is in the midst of them!

Binding and Loosing

The objection has often been raised that to hold that the Lord binds in heaven an unrighteous act bound on earth is sheer popery. Such an objection arises, I believe, because the nature of authority is not understood. Delegated authority (in this case from the Lord to the local assembly) is confounded with infallibility. Nothing can be farther from the truth. Binding, or loosing, in heaven does not in itself mean approving. Had the blessed Lord meant "Whatsoever ye shall bind or loose shall be approved in heaven," He would have said so, but He did not!

We naturally like to set aside authority in order to gratify a course of self-will and insubjection

Let us look at a scripture which gives us the principle involved in the Lord's binding of an unrighteous act (not approving it); it also shows us the profitable use to which He turns all in His divine sovereignty! "And Sarai said unto Abram, My wrong be upon thee . . . the Lord judge between me and thee. But Abram said unto Sarai, Behold, thy maid is in thy hand; do to her as it pleaseth thee. And when Sarai dealt hardly with her, she fled from her face. And the angel of the Lord found her by a fountain of water in the wilderness, by the fountain in the way to Shur. And he said, Hagar, Sarai's maid, whence camest thou? and whither wilt thou go? And she said, I flee from the face of my mistress Sarai. And the angel of the Lord said unto her, Return to thy mistress, and submit thyself under her hands. . . . And she called the name of the Lord that spake unto her, Thou God seest me." Gen. 16: 5-9,13. This is the first occurrence of the word "submit" in the Scriptures! Was Sarai's act a righteous one? No. Did the Lord set her act aside and her authority with it? He did not; He bound it! Hagar is addressed by the Lord (for verse 13 shows us who the angel in reality was!) as "Sarai's maid" at a time when she had disowned that claim under persecution. She is told to return to her mistress, and to submit herself under her hands, by the Lord Himself!

Was the Lord unrighteous in this? Of course not! But appearances are against Him, as they often are in this present evil world where the self-will of ungodly men and (sad to say) of saints themselves expresses itself. If we are walking according to man (1 Cor. 3:3), we might think thus: "How can the Lord be Himself, be righteous, be the God of light in whom is no darkness at all, and yet compel poor Hagar to submit to Sarai's harsh actions?" But "My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, saith the Lord." Isa. 55:8. As to Sarai, the Lord brings about a disciplinary action for the good of her soul (He ever acts in sovereign goodness!) by means of the submissive action of Hagar which placed her again in the presence of Sarai, thus daily affording Sarai a reminder that she had brought all the sorrow in this situation upon herself by her own act of unbelief in the first place. (Gen. 16:3.) What a chastening of soul, certainly not joyous, this was for Sarai! Do we not plainly see in all this that the Lord knew how to discipline Sarai without for one moment setting aside her authority to "guide the house" (1 Tim. 5:14) as mistress there? But we naturally like (and are little aware how far the evil propensity is allowed in us) to set aside authority in order to gratify a course of self-will and insubjection.

Please bear with me while I refer again to other familiar scriptures which also give the principle of the Lord's binding an overbearing act, not approving it, also using it in His ways with His people as a judgment of their state; all of this too is in connection with the preservation of a testimony by the Lord Himself to that which He had set up, and as to which He said through the prophet Ahijah, "That David My servant may have a light alway before Me in Jerusalem, the city which I have chosen Me to put My name there." 1 Kings 11:36. "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable

for doctrine,

for reproof,

for correction,

for instruction in righteousness:

that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works." 2 Tim. 3:16,17.

The Lord's Dealings with Failure

In the history of the Lord's dealings with His earthly people (and surely we are agreed that God's moral principles never change), while sovereignly maintaining "a light alway before [Him] in Jerusalem," I believe that we should discern that the Lord acted on the principle of Matthew 18:18 long before He ever enunciated it for the maintenance of a heavenly testimony in this dispensation. Let us look at this history briefly. In 1 Kings 11:1-10, we have the saddening account of the departure of heart of the wisest man on earth, King Solomon, from the Lord. In verse 33, the apostasy of the tribes of Israel is also disclosed. The Church, too, has long since left its first love (Rev. 2:4). Furthermore, those whom God mercifully delivered from spiritual Babylon a few generations back, and to whom He recovered "all the counsel of God," have alas! also left their first love. The Lord personally tells Solomon (vv. 11-13) that his kingdom is to be divided, only one tribe being spared for David His servant's sake, and for Jerusalem's sake which He had chosen. The Lord, through Paul, has warned the Church most solemnly that His discriminating judgments would sift the saints on the earth: "For first of all, when ye come together in the church, I hear that there be divisions among you; and I partly believe it. For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you." 1 Cor. 11:18,19. But in Revelation 3:7-13, He marks out a spared remnant, for it is Himself that keeps the door opened! For the sake of David, the man after God's own heart, and for the sake of Jerusalem which He had chosen as His divine, earthly center, the Lord spared a tribe in Israel. For Jesus' sake, for the sake of Him who has bought the Church with His own blood, and for the sake of a little corporate testimony to and _expression of the one body (of which He is the Head) on earth, the Lord will sovereignly spare twos and threes gathered to His name. In either case, it is sovereign grace acting for itself and for the glory of Christ (Jehovah of the Old Testament). It is not on the ground of human merit, for on that basis all was lost in Israel and has been in the Church.

Why have saints gone into division in every generation? They have not had the person of Christ . . . in power before their souls!

The Lord then told Jeroboam, by the prophet Ahijah (1 Kings 11:29-38) that he was to get ten tribes; He told him why, "Because that they have forsaken Me." v. 33. Nevertheless, in His sovereignty He preserved a tribe, twice repeating what in substance He had already told King Solomon, namely, that Rehoboam should have one tribe for David His servant's sake, and for Jerusalem's sake, the city which He had chosen out of all the tribes of Israel to put His name there. The Lord plainly informed all parties concerned that He was about to bring a judgment of scattering upon Israel and upon its king, but that He would sovereignly maintain a testimony for Himself nevertheless!

How was the Lord's judgment executed? But more important still, on what principle does the tribe act which is sovereignly preserved? We have the account in 1 Kings 12:1-24. Rehoboam rashly wielded his newly acquired authority as "the power," as the king of all Israel, and boasted before the people of the oppressions he would impose. His abuse of his divinely constituted authority directly resulted in the rebellion of the ten tribes. But this manifested (what God knew beforehand, namely) the state of their hearts! They had not valued David! This state was not a new one; it was there in the bud when David returned to Jerusalem after the death of Absalom. See 2 Samuel 19:41 to 20:2. The person of him who was a man after God's own heart was nothing to them. Notice that the ten tribes said nothing about Rehoboam, but this: "What portion have we in David? neither have we inheritance in the son of Jesse: to your tents, O Israel: now see to thine own house, David." 1 Kings 12:16.

Why have saints gone into division in every generation (for God sifts His people) since the truth was recovered to them and acted upon over a century ago? They have not rightly valued the true David! They have not had the person of Christ, the Head of the Church, which is His body, in power before their souls! They have not held the Head (Col. 2:19). In consequence (as with the ten tribes of Israel) the Lord in His discipline has His instrument ready, and when He allows that which crosses their will to develop into a trial of testing, these saints have found a man ready to lead them away, and to keep them away, from the true Center which they have left, Christ in the midst of those gathered unto His name; a Man whom God has marked out beforehand to those who really own the Lord in the midst and bow to His authority.

Did the Lord set aside the authority of Rehoboam now that he had abused it? No! 1 Kings 12:23, makes that plain. "Speak unto Rehoboam, the son of Solomon, king of Judah, and unto all the house of Judah and Benjamin, and to the remnant of the people."

On what principle was Judah (and little Benjamin reckoned with it) preserved from abandonment of the divine center in Jerusalem, where the Lord's name had been placed? On the simple principle, or principles, of obedience and submission. They saw through Rehoboam the king and beyond to Jehovah the God of Israel! In obedience to Him they submitted to the unrighteous act of the king. "But as for the children of Israel which dwelt in the cities of Judah, Rehoboam reigned over them." v. 17. "There was none that followed the house of David, but the tribe of Judah only." v. 20. By bowing under Rehoboam's unrighteous exercise of his authority, they remained on divine ground. They cherished the place which the Lord had chosen to put His name there, the place where the ark was and where He dwelt between the cherubim! "There am I in the midst of them." The principle on which Judah acted, then, was the principle of submission to an unrighteous act committed by the man invested with regal authority by God at His true center on earth.

How, then, did the Lord in His governmental ways deal with Rehoboam? Did he reap what he had sown? Indeed he did! A very casual reading of his history shows that he was in continual trouble, from within and from without. "And there was war between Rehoboam and Jeroboam all their days." 1 Kings 14:30. "And it came to pass, that in the fifth year of king Rehoboam, Shishak king of Egypt came up against Jerusalem, because they had transgressed against the Lord." 2 Chron. 12:2. Does not this show that the Lord knows how to discipline a king without for one moment setting aside his authority? Moreover, since the divinely chosen center of worship was at the same place as the king's seat of government, is it not highly significant that the Lord's determined maintenance of the place which He had chosen out of all the tribes of Israel to put His name there is carefully mentioned right in the middle of the summary of Rehoboam's history? "Rehoboam was forty and one years old when he began to reign . . . in Jerusalem, the city which the Lord did choose out of all the tribes of Israel, to put His name there. And his mother's name was Naamah an Ammonitess." 1 Kings 14:21. (See also 2 Chron. 12:13.)

"The Lord uses our brethren to heat the furnace in which He tries our faith."

The Lord does not abrogate or negate divinely constituted authority because of abuse, and that in the very place which He has chosen to place His name there (to use Old Testament language), "where two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of them" (to use New Testament language). Questions like these bring matters to a focal point. The Lord's "whatsoever" of Matthew 18:18 is no new principle with Him, but the very one He has always acted upon (both as the bestower and maintainer of authority, and also as subject to authority in the "days of His flesh").

The blessed Lord of all (Acts 10:36), "both theirs and ours" (1 Cor. 1:2), submitted when one of His creatures who possessed divinely constituted authority as a ruler in this world wickedly wielded that very power against Him, the "Lord of glory"! 1 Cor. 2:8. Please read John 19:10,11. While telling Pilate where his grant of authority originated, that its origin was from above, the Lord Jesus submits to its wrong use, committing His cause to Him that judgeth righteously! Are we not told in 1 Peter 2:21 that Christ has left us an example, that we should follow His steps? What better opportunity than when under discipline from our brethren? It has often been quoted: "The Lord uses our brethren to heat the furnace in which He tries our faith."

Submission and Restoration

As to restoration of some individuals, however, to the divine Center of gathering, we notice the following in the history of the ten tribes: "And after them, out of all the tribes of Israel, such as set their hearts to seek the Lord God of Israel" (not of Judah merely, note!) "came to Jerusalem, to sacrifice unto the Lord God of their fathers." 2 Chron. 11:16. This is restoration after a divine sort, as also a later one in Hezekiah's day, long after the division had taken place in Israel; Hezekiah "sent to all Israel and Judah, and wrote letters also to Ephraim and Manasseh, that they should come to the house of the Lord at Jerusalem, to keep the passover unto the Lord God of Israel. . . . So the posts passed from city to city, through the country of Ephraim and Manasseh, even unto Zebulun: but they laughed them to scorn, and mocked them. Nevertheless, divers of Asher and Manasseh and of Zebulun humbled themselves, and came to Jerusalem. . . . So there was great joy in Jerusalem." 2 Chron. 30. Thus the Lord graciously used Hezekiah's faithful letters of entreaty, words of "grace, seasoned with salt," to recover individuals to His true and only center of worship at Jerusalem, where Jehovah Himself dwelt between the cherubim. May the Lord graciously grant a like recovery with individuals in this our day of weakness!

By weakness and defeat

He won the meed and crown,

Trod all our foes beneath His feet

By being trodden down.

Bless, bless the Conqueror slain,

Slain in His victory;

Who lived, who died, who lives again --

For thee, His church, for thee!


While we chafe under the flesh intruding into the disciplinary acts of an assembly which has divine authority, do we forget that the flesh may also act in an individual, who does not have authority?

I believe that at the bottom there is always a measure of unbelief along with insubjection. We do not believe the grand truth that

"God is for us."

In the wisdom of God He deigns to use our very failures as a means of chastening (which for the present does not seem joyous, but grievous) to some of His dear children who are the objects of assembly discipline. And is not this one of the ways in which He makes manifest the hidden state of our hearts? Here in the wilderness He brings out, for both ourselves and others to discover, whether we are really "meek and lowly in heart," or unbroken in will. Submission, and obedience to God in it, are what He looks for. Another has written as follows:

"Circumstances would not trouble if they did not find something in us contrary to God; they would rustle by as the wind.

"Until the will has been crushed in the presence of the majesty of God, there cannot be a right state before God."

I believe that at the bottom there is always a measure of unbelief along with insubjection. We do not believe the grand truth that "God is for us," ready and able, if He sees fit, to vindicate us Himself, if we have been in any way wronged by individuals or assemblies. In general, however, instead of ordering circumstances to vindicate us, He lets us suffer wrongfully. Later on, when we have grasped the lesson He is teaching, we discover that He has vindicated Himself, though through the instrumentality of the very ones who wronged us!

"Even so, Father; for so it seemed good in Thy sight" was the heart-language of the Lord Jesus when everything was going against Him here. He was content to commit His cause to Him that judgeth righteously, never lifting a finger to vindicate Himself! Are we?

The Lord pledges His keeping power (Rev. 3:10) to those who keep the word of His patience. To seek to hold fast to divine principles when they are being given up all around puts patience to the test. To be content to have His approval alone, though but few are found to walk with, is the fruit of God's work in the soul.

The Lord holds forth wonderful encouragement to His tried saints: "Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown." They have something which the Lord values. "Hold it," He says, "until I come!" Furthermore, these despised ones here are to have the preeminent place there in the glory: made "a pillar" in the temple of His God! (Rev. 3:12.)

James H. Smith



We Ought to Obey God

What if man uses his God-given authority to try and make us do something contrary to God's instructions? The disciples in Acts 5 faced this situation and their actions show us God's will in the matter.

The high priest and those with him put the apostles in prison for teaching and healing in the Lord's name. The angel of the Lord opens the prison doors and says to the apostles, "Go, stand and speak in the temple to the people all the words of this life." This the disciples do. They are arrested and brought before the high priest who says: "Did not we straitly command you that ye should not teach in this name?" Peter and the apostles respond, "We ought to obey God rather than men." After discussing the matter among themselves, the authorities beat the disciples and again command them not to speak in the name of Jesus. They let them go and the disciples continue to teach and to preach Jesus Christ.

God is the ultimate authority. If man abuses his God-given authority and commands a person to disobey God, then the instruction for the person is -- we obey God rather than man. This does not give liberty to refuse authority because one does not agree with the judgment of the authority or because the authority is acting unjustly. We do not submit if the act of submission would make us disobey God, that is, make us sin.

The perfect example of submission to the cruel, unjust abuse of authority is the Lord's submission to Pilate. He could and did submit (without disobeying God) to Pilate's abuse of authority in unrighteously condemning him to death. May His example ever guard our hearts and consciences from rebellion against the authorities He has established and lead us into the healing path of obedience and submission.

JHS

Posted by dondegr8 at 12:44 PM EDT
Tuesday, 20 July 2004
Tone of Meetings
Now Playing: Are we in a right state of soul before the Lord ?
Topic: Spiritual State
Where the tone of things is felt to be low, and meetings to be unprofitable, and some things repeatedly out of place, let all who feel it wait on God continually, believing, and He will assuredly hear and answer. These very trials and exercises which are peculiar to the Assembly of God will have the happy effect of casting us more on Him, and thus the eater will yield meat and the strong sweetness.

These trials and difficulties can be expected in the assembly beause it is right and divine. The devil will put forth every effort to drive us from that true and holy ground. He will try our patience, hurt our feelings and cause offense in numberless ways: anything to make us forsake the assembly.

Divine ground can only be held by faith. This marks the assembly of God and distinguishes it from every human system.

C H Mackintosh

Posted by dondegr8 at 12:14 PM EDT
Saturday, 10 July 2004
Sound of the Trumpet
Now Playing: Are we building for Him and with His people ?
Topic: Laboring
The sound of the trumpet

Numbers 10:9:
"And if ye go to war in your land against the enemy that oppresseth you, then ye shall blow an alarm with the trumpets; and ye shall be remembered before the LORD your God, and ye shall be saved from your enemies."

2 Corinthians 7:5
"...but we were troubled on every side; without were fightings, within were fears..."

"But even this is not enough. Nehemiah tells the nobles: "The work is great and extended, and we are scattered upon the wall, one far from another: in what place ye hear the sound of the trumpet, thither shall ye assemble to us; our God will fight for us" (vv. 19, 20).

To be effective, the work must be a combined effort. When the enemy appears, believers must not be found scattered, and if there is no combined resistance at the point of attack, they are sure to succumb. The adversary takes advantage of the scattered condition of the children of God, and their gathering together is what is most contrary to him, because he knows that this multiplies their strength. And so his first concern, when he attacks them, is to sow discord and divisions among them.

That is the reason why this call of God: "Assemble to us", still resounds on every side, as in the days of Nehemiah. We have a center of gathering. Let us gather together around our Head. The trumpet has already resounded so as to be heard by one and all. Let us make haste; let us not say: My work is enough for me. No, our Head says, it is not enough, for if the enemy finds you isolated, he will destroy both you and your work. The danger is threatening.

Let us gather together instead of scattering. May we have ears to hear what the Spirit is saying to the assemblies. It is all very well to build in front of one's home, but it is the general interests of the people of God which claim all our energy in view of our brothers. That is why the trumpet calls us together. Soon, when the battle is over, the trumpet will gather us for the last time where there is no more question of building or of self-defense, but where we will enjoy eternal rest in peace!"

Dr H L Rossier

Posted by dondegr8 at 12:04 PM EDT
Updated: Monday, 4 April 2005 4:48 PM EDT
Tuesday, 6 July 2004
On What ?
Now Playing: What are we "On" in our daily walk?
Topic: Spiritual State
"How encouraging to trace the way in which Habakkuk is led from being on his face in anguish of soul before God because of the failure of His people (ch. 1); to take his stand on the watch-tower, to hear the words of the Lord, (ch. 2). Then, having learned the mind of the Lord, to see him on his knees in prayer, with the result that finally he walks on high places with joy in his heart and praise on his lips." (ch.3)
(excerpted from Hamilton Smith)

Posted by dondegr8 at 9:10 AM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, 6 July 2004 9:57 AM EDT

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