Truth & Testimony Vol. 2, No. 1, 1993.

Contents
In the Wrong Place
Consider your Ways
From our Archive — The Place which the Lord shall Choose
Genesis 14
The Life of David (3) — David and the Holy Spirit
Hymn
Book Review
News from the Field

Quotations from Scripture are generally taken either from the King James translation or Mr. J.N. Darby's translation. Quotations taken from any other translation will be indicated in the course of the article, or in a footnote to the article.

In The Wrong Place
1. Abram in Egypt   Gen. 12:10  Anxiety
2. Lot in Sodom   Gen. 19:1  Ambition
3. Jacob in Shechem   Gen. 33:18-20 Half-heartedness
4. David on the housetop  2 Sam. 11:2 Indolence
5. Man of God under an oak  1 Kings 13:14 Self-complacence
6. Elijah under a juniper  1 Kings 19:4  Discouragement
7. Jonah in the ship   Jonah 1:5  Self-will
8. Peter at the fire   Luke 22:55  Fear
9. Paul in Jerusalem   Acts 21:15-26 Spiritual Zeal

How easily we may discern the grave mistakes of these beloved saints of God, in being where they were, and the positive harm that resulted. Yet, can our hearts possibly ignore the sad fact that these same alarming motives noted in the last column have had far too great an influence in leading us also astray? What formidable enemies are these, against which we have no real protection unless armed with "the whole armour of God." If "the shield of faith" is only briefly dropped, Satan will use his "fiery darts" to full advantage. If we quietly analyse all of these motives, every one will be seen to stem from personal pride, which is the one principle in man that will respond to the cunning deceit of the enemy, who himself fell through pride. But it is good to have these things so broken down for us that we may be able to discern the working of such motives in our own hearts, and to judge them unsparingly.

1. Who has not known something of Abram's anxiety, not only for himself, but for his loved ones, when famine struck the land of promise? Led by sight, he goes where he sees the food is. Faith had wavered, for God had brought him to the land, and would He not sustain him, famine or not? Shall we leave the place of God's testimony because apprehensive of the future, and seek other fields that appear greener? Whether for material or spiritual need, let us "Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God" (Phil. 4:6). It is this that brings "the peace of God," not seeking elsewhere some provision that seems attractive. If there are stern tests of faith, they are intended to test us. But "the trial of your faith" is "much more precious than of gold that perisheth" (1 Peter 1:7). Why should we be content to fail the test — and suffer for it?

2. From this backsliding, however, Abram was fully recovered: Egypt's attractions deceived him only for a time. Not so with Lot. Rather than being recovered from a spirit of anxiety, he allowed it to grow into worldly ambition. We may sincerely insist that it is necessary for us to make a living on earth; but how many who do so are very soon trapped by the snare of seeking worldly advantage and position! Lot may have persuaded himself that he was really trying to improve the condition of Sodom, as certain Christians endeavour to improve the world; but is this thoroughly honest? He sat as a judge in the gate. Could he dare to say that it was really Sodom's improvement he was seeking, with no concern about his own earthly circumstances? O no, he was ambitious for himself, and he lost everything. What a warning for the child of God!

3. In Jacob something of this same spirit is evident in Haran, and he laboured hard to "provide for his own house," yet in his case he did not forget that he owed much to the grace of God. God indeed seeks by this same grace to fully restore him, when He tells him to return to Bethel, "God's house." But Jacob lingered on the way, and at Shechem "bought a parcel of a field," and settled down. Instead of leaving the world fully behind, he bought a little part of it, and the price he paid later was far higher than silver or gold. How easily we too, because of divided affections, may be content with a half-way house, instead of being in God's place for us, "God's house." But the results here, in Jacob's family, were the most shamefully evil in his history. Let us beware of a divided heart, partly for the Lord, partly for the world; but rather pray in earnest with the Psalmist, "Teach me Thy way, O Lord; I will walk in Thy truth: unite my heart to fear Thy name" (Ps. 86:11).

4. However, on the other hand, supposing we do learn to refuse worldly ambition, does this mean we may give ourselves up to a lazy existence? Can it be that such a thought as this influenced David at a time "when kings go forth to battle." If there was no need to gain anything for himself, did he forget that there was yet much to gain for God? Indolence will lead to positive sin. David, energetic, devoted man of God as he had been, found himself now with nothing to do but to walk upon the roof of his house, though Israel had gone forth to war. Are we in vital exercise as to the things of God? — not settling down in selfish contentment, but using leisure time in storing our souls with the truth of the Word of God, and going forth to bear a consistent witness to the Lord Jesus, as good soldiers of His? If we are willing to allow indolence in our lives, the world has its thousands of attractions to excite our natural senses, for which, if we were properly engaged, we should have neither time, or inclination. Can the eternal God of glory not supply us with enough to profitably occupy our time? Let us make no excuse for failing to serve Him.

5. Yet another danger presents itself even to those whom the Lord may use in faithful service. The man of God in 1 Kings 13 had obeyed the voice of the Lord in bearing solemn witness against Jeroboam and his idolatrous altar at Bethel, and obediently began his return journey, going by another route. Why did he stop to sit down under an oak tree? It was here that he was deceived by the old prophet, and fell into the snare of which God's Word had solemnly forewarned him, and he was killed by a lion. If the horror of the evil of Bethel had had its due weight with him, as attested by the solemn Word of God, certainly he would not have lingered for a moment. But allowing himself some pleasant satisfaction at having faithfully spoken the Word of God, instead of feeling still the force of that Word in his own soul, he was in a state fit to be deceived. What a warning! Let us indulge in but a little self-complacency, and we too may be deceived into actual disobedience to the Word of God. Though the old prophet was guilty of deliberate deception, yet it was the man of God who was guilty of being deceived, and it was he who suffered. How good to take to heart the words of the Lord Jesus, "So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do" (Luke 17:10).

6. Elijah illustrates another very real danger in connection with the service of the Lord. Here is another man of God who had, after deep exercise of soul, stood firmly, alone, for the living God, had brought down fire from heaven, had destroyed the prophets of Baal, and whose prayer brought rain to a desolate land. Yet immediately after he is found under a juniper tree, fleeing from Jezebel, and in utter discouragement asking God to take away his life. Of course he thought that through God showing such mighty works of power, Israel would be brought back to God, and now found that no such moral and spiritual effects had taken place. He feels his efforts have not been appreciated: he is despised and alone. Has not every true servant of God had to feel this in some measure at least? But can discouragement ever be right? Never! It is God who decides the value of our service for Him, not man. If the service has been done for the Lord, the results may be left fully with Him. It is not easy for us to apply this in real simplicity of faith, but we must remember that we are only servants, and the same truth of God for which Elijah could stand before Ahab is really sufficient to sustain Elijah when he is utterly rejected and despised. Let us have our eyes simply upon our holy Lord, and discouragement will not overwhelm us. "Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord" (1 Cor. 15:58).

7. As though this were not enough, there is yet a worse evil that may attack a servant of the Lord, and it must not be forgotten that today every child of God is a servant of God and intended to serve him "acceptably with reverence and godly fear" (Heb. 12:28). Jonah writes concerning himself, and exposes his own motives, which seems a clear indication that in his judging such motives, God did in grace recover his soul. Instead of going to Nineveh when God had sent him, Jonah is found in a ship, asleep, which led to an experience of intense anguish in the belly of a great fish. The reason for his disobedience he himself reveals in Jonah 4:1, 2. He felt that if he went and warned Nineveh of the awesome judgment of God, Nineveh might repent, and God's judgment be averted, for he knew that God is gracious! When this actually happened, he was very angry, possibly because he felt his reputation as a prophet would suffer, or else because he would rather see Gentiles perish than repent! Can it be that the motives of a child of God can descend so low? Sadly, it is true. In order that I may be something, it is possible I may cruelly desire to have others put down. Do we honestly pray for all men — the lowest, the vilest? Do we rejoice in the thought of guilty sinners turning in repentance to God? May our hearts go out in true, active love for souls, and we shall be preserved from this cold-hearted self-will that does what one prefers rather than obey God. Ought not Jonah to have rejoiced that his preaching was used by God to turn a whole city in repentance to cry to Him for mercy? But if we know nothing of a repentant spirit ourselves, then the repentance of others will fail to move our hearts with thankfulness.

8. The case of Peter is a more common one, however, for have we not all too frequently found ourselves in his company as regards the sadness of his failure when his Master faced the cruelest hour of man's persecution? What powerful enemy so weakened this fervent, affectionate follower of the Lord Jesus? Simply "the fear of man," which "bringeth a snare." Can it be that this man, so naturally bold and courageous, will cringe and speak falsehood when confronted by a woman? Alas, how weak are our hearts! But why should he be afraid? He had before assured the Lord he was ready to go with Him to prison and to death (Luke 22:33). At that moment, though, the Lord must go first to the garden of Gethsemane, where His soul was poured out in agonizing prayer to God, in holy preparation for the deeper agony of the cross. Peter neglected such preparation, and was asleep. What a lesson for us! In the things of God, natural courage will fail. Only God's divine power and grace can sustain us and preserve us from fear. "What time I am afraid, I will trust in Thee" (Ps. 56:3). "I will trust, and not be afraid" (Isa. 12:2). Most strikingly, Isaiah 51:12-13 shows that fear, no less than the other evils we have noted, is the product of mere pride, little as we might it think so: "Who art thou, that thou shouldest be afraid of a man that shall die, and of the son of man which shall be made as grass; and forgettest the Lord thy Maker, that hath stretched forth the heavens, and laid the foundations of the earth?" Is this not a stern and righteous reproof to our foolish fear of man? The results of Peter's fear were humiliating in the extreme, nor shall we escape reaping what we sow. Yet divine grace did, and does, wonderfully restore.

9. However, this element of fear has no place whatever in Paul's going up to Jerusalem when the Spirit of God had plainly warned him against it. But he was certainly not in the right place, however bold he may have been. In fact, it was a consuming love for his own people Israel, and a desire for their salvation, that moved him so powerfully in seeking to attract their ears to the gospel. But the truest spiritual desire cannot be substituted for the guidance of God, who knew that Paul's testimony would not be received at Jerusalem. This is a lesson not easy to be learned in practice, a most humbling lesson, and necessary for the most earnest servants of God. The fact that Paul had been so greatly used by God in the salvation of Gentiles in other lands was no indication that he would be so used in Jerusalem with his own people, the Jews. How can we escape the sad conclusion that there was some element of pride in his feeling that he could persuade these Jews, and specially after God had told him he could not? How we need the clear Word of God for every step! Not that spiritual zeal itself is an evil: it is not; but if we depend on this, we shall find it will mislead us, and we shall reap the results. Constant, consistent communion with God and submission to His Word is our only real protection, and of all these cases this last no doubt is intended to press this upon us most positively.

These are by no means all the cases of saints in wrong places recorded in the Word of God, and we should do well to consider such histories as those of Abraham's going down to Abimelech the Philistine, of Samson's many compromises with the Philistines, of Elimelech and Naomi going down to Moab, of David's sojourn at Gath, and later at Ziklag, of Jonathan's choosing the court of his father Saul when David was in rejection, of Jehoshaphat's going down to visit the wicked king Ahab on friendly terms, and of Obadiah the servant of the Lord found serving Ahab. So numerous being the cases of such failure, they are surely serious warnings. Certainly they are not intended to provide us with any excuse for our own failure, but as warning signposts that we may avoid the same pitfalls, and rather find in the Lord Jesus the strength and grace necessary to meet these things, cultivating the positive motives of faith in the blessed Son of God, and of love for Himself and for others.

"Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and, having done all, to stand" (Eph. 6:13).

L. M. Grant

Consider Your Ways

The prophet Haggai was raised up by God at a time in Israel's history very similar to that in which we live. We know practically nothing of the prophet himself. His name means "festive," and Ezra refers to him simply as "Haggai the prophet." We know from Ezra's record that the Jews' enemies had written to King Artaxerxes, suggesting that the rebuilding of the temple constituted a threat to his authority. Consequently the work ceased until the second year of Darius' reign, when enquiries were made, the decree of Cyrus was produced, and the rebuilding was once more put in hand. It was easy to blame the enemies, and the political climate, for ceasing to work, but the real trouble was with the Jews themselves. That is why God raised up faithful men, Haggai and Zechariah, to encourage the people to carry out the task that had been abandoned.

In the first place they were

UNWILLING TO WORK.

They had returned to the promised land. God had been faithful and gracious to them, but they were settling down in comfort while God's house still lay waste. No wonder things went wrong! God's Word to them, and perhaps also to us, is "Consider your ways." They sowed much, and reaped little. They ate and drank, but were not satisfied. They earned good money, but it trickled away as in a bag full of holes. No doubt they blamed the recession, the political instability of the time, the abnormal weather conditions. It never occurred to them that God was trying to get through to them. "Why? saith the Lord of hosts. Because of Mine house that is waste."

It is noteworthy that in this book God refers to Himself as "the Lord of hosts." We find this title originally in the first book of Samuel, in the time of the judges, when every man did that which was right in his own eyes, much as is the case today. In that difficult time we read of Elkanah and Hannah, who went to Shiloh to worship "the Lord of hosts." The name is used by many of the prophets, particularly in days of weakness and failure. It is good to know that, in spite of man's failure, there is an all-sufficient God, who has unlimited resources at His disposal.

A HEARING EAR

Happily, the leaders of the people listened to Haggai's words, and obeyed the Word of the Lord. We read also that they "did fear before the Lord," that is, they revered Him. Seeing this, the Lord gave them a reassuring message, "I am with you." Thus encouraged, they set to work with a will, and the Lord stirred up the spirits of the leaders and all the people.

THE WORK WAS COMPLETED

Four weeks later the prophet was given another message to the leaders of the people. Some of the older ones could remember the glorious temple that Solomon had built. How small and insignificant was this new temple by contrast. In Ezra 3 we read that they wept with a loud voice. Some of the older ones among us may remember conferences with many hundreds

of brethren present and local gatherings too that were not only large, but of spiritual significance. Some may weep to see a decline on every hand. Nevertheless, God had a message even for these older ones, "Yet now be strong," leaders and people, "for I am with you, saith the Lord of hosts." Moreover, the Word and the Spirit of God, remained with them. They were still the people of God. He could say to them, and to us, "Fear ye not."

Before there could be complete restoration, the people had to be reminded that divine principles were unchanged. In Haggai's fourth message to the people he is instructed to ask the priests "If one bear holy flesh in the skirt of his garment, and with his skirt do touch bread, or pottage, or wine, or oil, or any meat, shall it be holy? And the priests answered and said, No." On the other hand, "If one that is unclean by a dead body touch any of these, shall it be unclean? And the priests answered and said, It shall be unclean." "So is this nation before Me, saith the Lord; and so is every work of their hands." All that they offered was polluted.

But the God of all grace will not leave the people there. He pleads with them to consider once more. If they will be obedient, He will bless them.

I HAVE CHOSEN THEE

The prophecy of Haggai concludes with a personal message of encouragement to Zerubbabel, the representative of the house of David. Thrones and kingdoms would be destroyed, but Zerubbabel would be as a signet on the Lord's hand, "for I have chosen thee." Today the weakest saint can say:

'Tis not that I did choose Thee,
For, Lord, that could not be;
This heart would still refuse Thee,
But Thou hast chosen me."
J. Conder

May we also take to heart the warnings and the promises found in this little prophecy, and thus live fruitful lives to the glory of our God and Father!

R.E.A.R.

From Our Archive

"The Place which the Lord shall Choose"

Deuteronomy 12 and Deuteronomy 16

The most cursory reader, and still more the diligent Bible student, must be impressed with the frequent recurrence of the words which we have selected as the title for this paper. We refer to them because "Whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope" (Rom. 15:4). We trust we shall see as we proceed that as the Lord gave guidance to His people in that day, so He makes known His mind to "His own" in this day and as there was "the place" then, so there is "the place" now.

Turning then to Deuteronomy 12 we find, in the first instance, that when the children of Israel came into the land, their attitude to the existing religion thereof was to be one of uncompromising separation from it and they were to be characterized by unflinching fidelity to Jehovah.

Their enemies had had "places" where they had "served their gods," but for them there should be only "The place which the Lord shall choose." They were not to choose for themselves; the Lord was to choose for them. The place which He should choose was to be the place of "His habitation" (verse 5). In other words, His house would be there, His Name would be there, and there was He to be known. They were warned against following the bent of their own will or preferring what they might have chosen (verses 13, 14) and they were instructed that the place of the Lord's choice was to be the rallying point for them. Herein there is for us a lesson of the first importance.

We are living in days when the word "toleration" is the slogan of the religious world. It is said, in effect: "It does not really matter to what we belong, where, how, or with whom we worship; we are all bound for the same place and it will be all right in the end." Then there are those who have got light beyond this, who look abroad and see many different companies of true Christians sincerely seeking to answer to the revealed truth of Holy Scripture and they say: "They seem to be all pretty much alike and it makes little difference where we are found." Had an Israelite been tempted to argue thus he would have heard a voice saying to him: "Take heed to thyself that thou offer not thy burnt-offerings in every place that thou seest: but in the place which the Lord shall choose in one of thy tribes, there thou shalt offer thy burnt-offerings, and there thou shalt do all that I command thee" (verses 13, 14). We judge that the Lord is no less careful, and our path is no less clear, in this day.

Why should this be insisted upon and repeated with such constant reiteration? We may be sure the Holy Spirit never indulges in needless repetition. If "the place" was to be "His habitation," that meant that the Lord would find pleasure in surrounding Himself with those whom He loved and whom He had chosen to be "a special people unto Himself" (7:6, 8). So now our blessed Lord loves to gather "His own" around Himself and to take His place amongst them. We wish to give Him that joy; but where? "In the place which the Lord shall choose."

Verses 21 to 25 show the gracious and tender consideration of the Lord. Some might, from various legitimate causes, be prevented from reaching that place. Such might enjoy communion with Him where they were, but a limit was put upon that. The "holy things," the "burnt offerings," had to be offered at "the place which the Lord shall choose." There are devoted saints in these days who are bedridden or who in other ways are prevented from being gathered with their fellow-believers and such may know the sweetness of communion where they are. It is, however, when assembled together around the Lord Himself that, as nowhere else, His love is apprehended, His preciousness is appreciated, and true Spirit-begotten worship rises through Him to God the Father. Some say, "We can enjoy the Lord at home; we can worship in our own room." We have known those who living in a spot where the Lord had "much people" preferred isolation to fellowship: for such, verses 26-28 have a solemn admonition.

In chapter 16 there is again the injunction to adhere to "the place which the Lord thy God shall choose to place His Name in" (verses 5, 6). This chapter may be summed up by verses 16 and 17. The males were looked upon representatively. The three feasts were the outstanding feasts in the Israelitish calendar and have a very real significance for us. As we consider them we are at once reminded of the Lord's Supper and of that which the Lord would have us to learn from that sacred feast. "The feast of unleavened bread" is inseparably connected with "the passover." We begin with redemption. So in the Lord's Supper we remember a dead Christ. We recall the settling of the great sin question, the accomplishment of the mighty redemptive work; we see how God's glory has been maintained, the majesty of His throne has been upheld, the righteousness of His character has been vindicated, the love of His heart has been revealed, the basis has been laid for all His purposes to be fulfilled and our adorable Lord has secured for Himself that upon which His love was set. There is, however, the "unleavened bread" connected with this and in this chapter it is called "the bread of affliction" (verse 3). Never must we forget that it was our sins that made that work a necessity. This will prevent flippancy in manner and in language when gathered to remember Him.

"The feast of tabernacles" points on to Israel's glorious future; it indicates the ultimate triumph of our Lord Jesus Christ. In eating the Lord's Supper we contemplate His victory in all its fulness — not simply as applying to Israel, but as that which will be consummated by His delivering up the kingdom to God, even the Father . . . "that God may be all in all" (1 Cor. 15:24, 28). We announce His death "till He come" (1 Cor. 11:26), which means not only that this precious remembrance will go on "till He come," but that we have in view His coming to put the top stone to the work, the foundation of which He laid at the cross (Rev. 21:1-8).

The central feast was "the feast of weeks." That is figurative of Pentecost and speaks to us of the coming of the Holy Spirit to take up His abode in God's house and in the hearts of God's children. When we eat the Lord's Supper the Holy Spirit carries our thoughts backward, leads us into the ever deepening apprehension of all that the work of Christ has secured for God and for us; and He carries our minds forward to the coming day of glory. When He has His own way with us we cannot be "empty"; we shall give to the Lord of that which He has given to us; we will realize that it is a "feast" and our souls will rejoice. Surely all this is a great incentive for us to seek the place of the Lord's choice, to know

THE PLACE AND THE PURPOSE

We will now turn to the last book in the Old Testament(Malachi 3:16, 17). A thousand years had elapsed between the time of the instructions which we have been considering and the period herein indicated. Alas! ruin had come in. The people who professed His Name had turned away from the Lord and so completely had they been lulled to sleep by the enemy that they were unconscious of their deplorable condition. It seemed as if all had gone and there was nothing left for God. Yet amid the darkness there is a glimmer of light. "Then" — with all the emphasis upon the "then" "Then they that feared the Lord spake often one to another." It is doubtful if the word "often" should be there; it is omitted in the Revised Version and also in the French Edition of the excellent translation by the late J. N. Darby. It would appear to have been characteristic of those that feared the Lord to speak one to another. They may have been very few, very likely they were feeble and probably they were despised, but they "feared the Lord," they "thought upon His Name" and so grateful was this to Him that He "hearkened." He stooped to listen — "and heard." He ordered a "book of remembrance" to be written and He said, "they shall be Mine."

Closely connected with this is Luke 2:25-38. Fifteen hundred years or thereabouts had rolled by since that of which we read in Deuteronomy. There had been from the day that Malachi wrote no intercourse between God and the mass of His people. The failure, to all outward appearance, was complete. Two are named in these verses. They were in "the place," and they revered "the Name" of the Lord. Had they been asked, "Why do you cling to the place?" would they not have replied, "Because it is the place which the Lord has chosen to place His Name there"? They "feared the Lord," they "thought upon His Name," nor were they without companions, for Anna "spake of Him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem." "The secret of the Lord" was with them; they were waiting for the first coming of Christ and when He came they constituted the true worshippers. All this confirms the fact that God never leaves Himself without a witness.

When we think of the present-day application of that which we have been considering, our thoughts turn to that very familiar but priceless word in Matthew 18:20: "For where two or three are gathered together in [or unto] My Name, there am I in the midst of them."

Here we still have "the place" — "where" — and the Name "My Name." Whereas in that which we have been considering we have the place and the purpose, here we have

THE PLACE, THE PERSON AND THE PURPOSE

May not our blessed Lord have had in view a day of declension and departure such as the present when He uttered these words? They are equally true of two or three hundred, or two or three score, but He came down to the minimum when He said "two or three." Why do we see here and there two or three passing by grand religious edifices, not mingling with the crowds who resort thither, not invoking the aid of college-bred men, not adopting a form of service, but coming together in the simplest possible way? They may suffer in work, in business and in other ways. They may be lightly esteemed even by those who profess faith in Christ. What is the secret? Is it not that the Lord has attracted them to Himself, that His Name is the only Name that they seek to own, that they desire to respond to His gathering call, that they wish to give Him the joy that He seeks in this way and that they long to have the joy of His company.

Some person may say, "That sounds all very nice, but in the confusion that exists can we insist that there is a place?" There was in the olden times, when they came into the land with flying colours and all was well with them; there was in Malachi's day when the failure was great and the sky was black; there was in the day of Simeon and Anna when the night was at its darkest. There was also in the day of the assembly's pristine freshness and purity; there was in the day of failure at Corinth and, as we have already remarked, our Lord's word recorded in Matthew 18:20 lead us to expect that there will ever be a place where His Name shall be placed and where He Himself shall be found.

Does some one ask — where? We venture to reply that if we are moved by the affection and actuated by the desire of the inquirer in the Song of Solomon, we shall learn where. "Tell me, O Thou whom my soul loveth, where Thou feedest, where Thou makest Thy flock to rest at noon" (Cant. 1:7). When we find the Person we shall reach the place and we shall find Him not by our intellect, but as our feet follow our heart, the heart being set upon Him and Him alone.

In closing we invite attention to the last book in the New Testament (Rev. 3:7-13). If we accept the review of the seven churches in Asia as being a survey of the entire church period from the day of Pentecost until the coming of the Lord, may we not assume that amid the corruption of Romanism (Thyatira), the deadness of Protestantism (Sardis), and the utter ruin of Christendom generally, (Laodicea), Philadelphia stands out as representing those who will be found just before the Lord's return, who fear Him, who think upon His Name, who speak of Him and who will be found watching when He returns? They are marked by "a little power," but the Lord takes account of them and He is able to say to them, "Thou ... hast kept My word, and hast not denied My Name" (verse 8). To them, Himself, His Name and His Word are everything and if despised and looked down upon here, He assures them that He will yet demonstrate that they are the objects of His love (verse 9). We may be sure such will not escape the notice of the enemy. If he can induce them to give up and to go with the majority, how glad will he be. If he can make the road seem rough, the night of Christ's absence long and the difficulties great, some may drop out by the way. To counteract this there comes the encouraging word of the Lord Himself: "I come quickly: hold fast what thou hast, that no one take thy crown" (verse 11, J.N.D. trans.). No need to say, "Behold." They are expecting Him, waiting and watching for Him. This hope it is that has separated them from the world in every shape and form and that has called them to the outside place in company with Himself.

Only a few more steps, only a little more roughing and then travelling days are done; He Himself shall be our Object, His Name our boast, His love our theme for ever and ever.

What then is the conclusion of the whole matter?
1. The Lord calls us to entire separation from the world and its religious systems.
2. He has chosen a place where He has placed His Name, where He seeks for Himself the joy of calling His own together around Himself.
3. His Name is to be the only rallying point, His Name is to be the bond, and His Word the only recognized authority.
4. His fear ever before them, love for His Name filling their heart, those who are attracted to Him will find delight in speaking of Him to one another.
5. No matter how dark the night, how difficult the path, or how small the number, such can at all times count upon His support.
6. The Holy Spirit is here to guide such into and maintain such in the path of His will.
7. The promise of His speedy return will encourage such to be true to His Word and loyal to His Name.

We are persuaded that in these closing moments of the church's history, nearly twenty centuries after its inception, the Lord would seek to revive this in the hearts of His own, so that there may be a real gathering out to Himself now. Surely we all desire to answer to His call, to have His approval here and His smile when we see Him face to face. May it be so for His Name's sake.

W. Bramwell Dick

Musings on Genesis chapter 14

The first battle recorded in Scripture is but a picture of the last great battle, yet to come. Here in Genesis 14 some remarkable features come to light. We read of four kings, and four suggests what is universal (v. 1, 9). These make war with the five kings, and five is the number of human weakness (v. 2, 8, 9b). The kings represent the natural strength of man, boasted of universally, on the one hand,* and the real and underlying condition of weakness on the other. The battle is the issue of rebellion, a picture of the great rebellion of the future when men will be fighting against God and the Lamb (Rev. 17:12-14; Rev. 19:19). Then will Joel 3:2 be fulfilled "I will also gather all nations, and will bring them down into the valley of Jehoshaphat".

{*Although there is some uncertainty as to the meanings of many of the names, J. B. Jackson and C. A. Potts both give "Lion like" for Arioch.}

In the picture of Genesis 14 lovely details emerge. "Most High God" occurs four times, God's Name in universal government (v. 18, 19, 20 & 22). In the exercise of His government we see Israel recovered from among the Nations, as seen in Lot, and Israel blessed by the Mediator of the New Covenant, as seen in Abram blessed by Melchizedek. Then Israel, recovered and blessed, are found responsive to their God, as seen in the tithes of the spoil given by Abram to Melchizedek (v. 20; Heb. 7:8-10). What a picture! The Nations put down, Israel blessed and blessing their God! This is effected because Melchizedek has the memorials of sacrifice, bread and wine, the witness of a sacrifice already accomplished and by which righteousness has been upheld and vindicated. This work Christ accomplished at the cross. Righteousness ever precedes peace. "The work of righteousness shall be peace", and "Righteousness and peace have kissed each other" (Isa. 32:17; Ps. 85:10). The One who is the King of righteousness becomes the King of peace, Priest of the Most High God (Heb. 1:8-9; Heb. 7:13). "He . . . shall sit and rule upon His throne; and He shall be a priest upon His throne" (Zech. 6:13). As a royal Priest He will prevail for God before men. As a holy Priest He will prevail for men before God.

What a Man!

What a King!

What a Priest!

What a God we have!

Blessed be His Name!!

In the section beginning at Hebrews 6:13 to the end of chapter 7, the name "Melchisedec" occurs seven times.* In the same section there are seven references to Christ as One who lives for ever.** How wonderful that we, the church, are in the light of the fact that Christ is Priest after the order of Melchisedec. In line with Leviticus 16, we know Him as the Priest that has gone in. Israel's blessing awaits His coming out. Meanwhile we get the benefit of His priestly function after the pattern of the Aaronic order.

A. Lindsay

{*The references to Melchisedec in this section are in Heb. 6:20 and Heb. 7:1, 10, 11, 15, 17 and 21.}

{**He is "made an High Priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec" (Heb. 6:20). "Here men that die receive tithes; but there he receiveth them, of who it is witnessed that he liveth" (Heb. 7:8). "For that after the similitude of Melchisedec there ariseth another priest, who is made, not after the law of a carnal commandment, but after the power of an endless life'' (Heb. 7:15-16). "Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec" (Heb. 7:17 and 21). "But this man, because He continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood" (Heb. 7:24). "He is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them" (Heb. 7:25). "But the word of the oath, which was since the law, maketh the Son (High Priest), who is consecrated for evermore" (Heb. 7:28). This gives seven if we do not count the reference to Melchisedec, quoted above, in Hebrews 7:8. The word at the end of Hebrews 7:3 "abideth a priest continually" is "continuing uninterruptedness, more than there being no end, though it may so continue" (footnote to Hebrews 5:6 in the J. N. Darby translation).}

The Life of David (3)

David and the Holy Spirit. 1 Samuel 16:11-13; 2 Samuel 23:1, 2; 1 Chronicles 28:11, 12, 19; Psalm 139:7-10; Psalm 143:10; Psalm 51:11, 12.

David, the man of God, was a man with a vast experience of life. As a son, a brother, husband and father, he had plenty of family experience. In single combat and army warfare he knew what was involved in dangerous situations. When he became undisputed king of Israel he experienced the ups and downs of royal responsibilities. As a poet he has left a legacy of psalms, hymns and songs which have stood the test of time and have been a blessing to saints in Old Testament and New Testament times. This is not surprising; they were the product of the Holy Spirit's inspiration. The careful preparations that he made to provide materials for his son, Solomon, to build a temple for God, are perhaps the highlight of his amazing life. It is not surprising that in such a life there should be many references to the Holy Spirit. The power and inspiration of the Holy Spirit permeated his varied experiences and, indeed, was the secret of the success of this remarkable man of God. The Holy Spirit in his life is one of the outstanding features that make him an interesting type of his Greater son, the Lord Jesus Christ, the anointed of God. A close look at each reference to the Holy Spirit in the life of David will produce many helpful and important truths for the days in which we live. "He, being dead, yet speaketh".

The Anointing. 1 Samuel 16:11-13

There cannot be any doubt that David's anointing with oil by Samuel, the judge and prophet of Israel, was a most important event in his life. Saul, the reigning king, was rejected, and by a process of elimination, David's brothers were rejected. David was manifested as God's choice and God directed Samuel to anoint him. David was the man of God's heart and purpose. By being anointed David was set apart as God's king to rule His people Israel. But more important than the symbolic anointing was the anointing of the Holy Spirit. The symbolic anointing gave him the royal position. The Spirit coming upon him gave him the power to fulfil his very great responsibilities to God and Israel. The unfolding life of David shows how well he fulfilled his God appointed task in spite of many failures and determined opposition.

Anointing has an important place in the Old Testament and also in the New Testament. In the Old Testament kings were anointed for their office as were priests (1 Kings 1:39; Leviticus 8:12,30). The Tabernacle was anointed (Leviticus 8:10). Prophets were anointed (1 Kings 19:16). Cleansed lepers were anointed (Leviticus 14:28). The anointing indicated God's approval of these persons and the Tabernacle as His dwelling place. It was a beautiful type of the anointing of the Holy Spirit.

In Acts 10:38 Peter showed the importance of the anointing with the Holy Spirit. When Jesus of Nazareth was anointed with the Spirit and with power He went about doing good. God was with him (Luke 14:18; Acts 4:27). All that Jesus did and said was in the power of the anointing of the Holy Spirit. His Name, Christ, means anointed as does the name Messiah. In l Corinthians 12:12, 13, the name Christ, the anointed, is connected with the believers in Corinth who are viewed as the body of Christ in that place. The Spirit baptized them into one body in Christ. The body of Christ was formed when the Holy Spirit came to indwell believers on the day of Pentecost and never requires to be repeated. Everyone who truly believes in the Lord Jesus for the forgiveness of their sins receives the gift of the Holy Spirit (John 7:37-39). They become members of the body of Christ (Romans 12:5). This is a corporate truth. In 2 Corinthians 1:21, 22, Paul presents the same truth in its bearing to the individual Christian. Each believer is anointed with the Holy Spirit. The anointing with the Spirit enables a collective and an individual response to God and to Christ in worship and in testimony. The two references to the anointing with the Spirit in 1 John 2:20, 27, refer to the ability which the Spirit gives to know the truth of God. There are many other references to anointing in the New Testament which are not relevant to the subject in hand.

It is of the utmost importance to understand the truth of the anointing with the Holy Spirit. He is the indispensable power for every believer to enjoy all the privileges of the Christian position and to fulfil every obligation of the Christian testimony.

David spake by the Spirit. 2 Samuel 23:1, 2.

It is no surprise to learn that a man of God like David was led to speak by the Holy Spirit. He said "The Spirit of the Lord spake by me, and His word was in my tongue." No doubt he is included in those referred to by Peter when he wrote "Holy men of God spake under the power of the Holy Ghost" (2 Peter 1:21). The proof of the Spirit's speaking through David is seen in the value of David's many compositions and utterances. We are still listening to David's Spirit inspired sayings when we read his Psalms. Many believers up to the time that Christ came would derive comfort and encouragement from David's writings. Since the Lord Jesus, the Son of God, died, rose from among the dead, and ascended to God's right hand, these same writings have an important part in the New Testament Scriptures, being often quoted there. While the Psalms of David are not strictly speaking Christian doctrine (the implicatory prayers in them are not Christian prayers) they are a means of blessing in many ways and provide much comfort.

The versatility of David's speaking by the Spirit is seen in the way he is quoted by the Lord Jesus and the New Testament writers. In Matthew 22:43 and Mark 12:36 the Lord Jesus quotes from Psalm 110 which is a reference to His exaltation to God's right hand. In Acts 1:16-20 Peter quotes David's words in Psalm 69:25 and in Psalm 109:8 as a reference to the judgment on Judas Iscariot who lost his place as an apostle of the Lord Jesus. Peter, preaching on the day of Pentecost in the city of Jerusalem, quoted David's words from Psalm 16:8-11 concerning the life, death, resurrection and ascension to God's right hand of Jesus of Nazareth (Acts 2:25-32). At a prayer meeting in Jerusalem the believers in the Lord Jesus who were being persecuted by the leaders of Israel quoted Psalm 2:1-2. It referred to the confederacy of evil against the Lord's anointed (Acts 4:25-28). Paul explains how righteousness without works is obtained by quoting David's words in Psalm 32:1-2 (Romans 4:6-8). In Romans 11:9-10 Paul quotes David's words in Psalm 69:22-23 to show Israel's failure to obey God. Psalm 95:7-8 is quoted by Paul in Hebrews 4:7 to exhort Jewish believers to receive God's message in faith and not to harden their hearts. A careful study of these references shows the extent of the Holy Spirit's speaking through David. What a great honour and blessing to speak in the Spirit's power and inspiration.

The New Testament writers were inspired by the Spirit to use precise words to convey spiritual truths. The gospel was preached effectively in the Spirit's power (1 Thessalonians 1:5; 1 Peter 1:12). Appropriate ministry for the benefit of local assemblies is to be given in the power of the Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:7). Worship pleasing to God must be in the Spirit's power and utterance (Philippians 3:3). The Spirit is always speaking to the assemblies (Revelation 2 and 3). Praise God that in these last days of the Christian testimony the Holy Spirit is still speaking. He speaks principally through the Holy Scriptures.

The Spirit gave David the pattern of the Temple.

1 Chronicles 28:11-19

The crowning act of David's eventful life was the giving of directions to his son Solomon, for the building of a Temple for God. These directions he received from the Spirit of God. When the Tabernacle was built God gave instructions to Moses about its construction. Nothing was left to man's imagination or ingenuity. It was God who initiated the matter. It was David who had the desire to have a permanent building for God, an excellent exercise. God, by giving a plan of the Temple to David by His Spirit, made sure that His will, not man's, would be expressed. The meticulous directions such as God gave to Moses in the book of Exodus for the construction of the Tabernacle, are not given in 1 Chronicles 28 for the building of the Temple. However, when Solomon built the temple it is evident that a plan was adhered to. That plan was given by the Spirit of God. Verses 11-19 catalogue all that was to be arranged for this great house for God. David said "the house that is to be built for Jehovah must be exceeding great in fame and in beauty in all lands" (1 Chronicles 22:5). David's directions from the Spirit of God regarding the Temple were obeyed in the day of Israel's glory and power. They were also followed in the day of recovery and restoration. Because of Israel's unfaithfulness the Temple had been destroyed and desecrated. Read the first ten chapters of Ezekiel, and Daniel's prayer in Daniel chapter nine. But God in His mercy began a movement of revival and the walls of Jerusalem and the temple were rebuilt. Read the books of Ezra and Nehemiah. In those days of recovery David's directions for the praise of Jehovah were remembered and put into function (Ezra 3:10, 11). In Nehemiah 12:24, 45 we read of singers, doorkeepers and praise according to the commandments of David, the man of God, being established. Divine arrangements are good for days of prosperity and for days of weakness and recovery.

These are important lessons for Christians. It is a true saying that "God's principles never change". God's order for His presence and praise must be maintained. He delights in order and is not the author of disorder. When man thinks that he knows how to do things better than God, he creates disorder. It might be asked "Does man think that he can do better than God? Is there any evidence of such a suggestion?" The answer is "yes, whenever the plain instructions of God are substituted by human arrangements, man is virtually saying I know how to do things better than God". God's directions for His people are for the duration of the dispensation, whether they find themselves in good days or bad days. The Holy Spirit spoke plainly and powerfully through the apostle Paul, particularly in relation to assembly order. In 1 Corinthians 3:16 Paul instructed the believers in that city that they constituted the Temple of God. The numerous instructions he gave to them are summed up in 1 Corinthians 14:37. They were the commandment of the Lord. How audacious of anyone to say that these instructions are only Paul's! The Spirit speaks expressly of the weakness and unfaithfulness that mark the latter times (1 Timothy 4:1-3). Timothy, and by extension ourselves, is exhorted to hold fast to the truths presented by Paul. If Paul the apostle could rejoice in seeing the order of the Colossian believers how much more does God rejoice in men and women who obey the pattern that He gives for assembly order (Colossians 2:5).

David recognizes the omnipresence of the Spirit.

Psalm 139:7

It is questionable whether David knew of such an expression as "the omnipresent Spirit". However his statement "Whither shall I go from Thy Spirit?" expresses that truth. David realized that there is no hiding place from God. His Spirit knew exactly where he was, what he was thinking, saying and doing. A most sobering consideration. David's sin with Bathsheba and other failures would never have occurred had he remembered the omnipresence of the Spirit of God. Needless to say the same applies to all believers in Christ.

Does Scripture support David's assertion that it is impossible to be outside of the Spirit's cognizance? In Revelation 5:6 the Spirit of God is presented in the figure of seven spirits which are sent into ALL the earth. There is no place in this world where the Spirit cannot move or operate. The Spirit is omnipresent. The habitation of God in the Spirit refers to the dwelling place of God and this consists of all believers in Christ in every place upon earth at any given moment (Ephesians 2:22). It is another expression of the omnipresence of the Holy Spirit. When it is remembered that the Holy Spirit is a Divine Person, co-equal with the Father and the Son, it will be realized that He cannot be confined to a particular company or place. The Lord Jesus referred to Him in figure as wind "The wind blows where it will, and thou hearest its voice, but knowest not whence it comes and where it goes . . ." (John 3:8).

The Lord Jesus Christ corporeally is at the right hand of God (Acts 2:33). It is obvious that, at the present time, He does not present Himself in His body to His own, as He did to His disciples before He ascended to the Father's right hand (Acts 1:3, 4). When bodily on earth He could speak of Himself as "The Son of Man who is in heaven" (John 3:13). Though now bodily in heaven He is in Spirit in the midst of those who are gathered unto His Name (John 4:24; Matt. 18:20). On our side it is by the omnipresent Holy Spirit that the presence of the Lord Jesus is known. He is the Spirit of Jesus (Acts 16:7, J.N.D. trans.). The Spirit of Jesus Christ (Phil. 1:19). The Spirit of His Son (Gal. 4:6). Because of who He is the Holy Spirit enables believers in Christ to know and enjoy the presence and power of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit is with the Christians and in the Christians to the end of the dispensation. He may be grieved or quenched but He remains in His omnipresence to maintain what is due to God and to the Lord Jesus Christ (Ephesians 4:30; 1 Thessalonians 5:19).

David asks to be led by God's Spirit.

Psalm 143:10

When David asked God to teach him to do His will, he immediately asked to be led by God's good Spirit. He could not have asked for better guidance than that. To learn God's will is one thing but to do it is quite another. David's desires were important for him. They are important for every Christian anxious to please God. It means the setting aside of one's own will, and by the Spirit's help and guidance following the will of God. As always, the Lord Jesus is the perfect example. In Luke 4:1 the Spirit led Jesus, the Son of God, into the wilderness. The perfect Man was about to be subjected to intense temptation by Satan, but He overcame the evil wiles of His great adversary. He won the victory by dependence on God and repeatedly quoting His Word. That is the pattern for every follower of the Lord Jesus. Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles, always desired to do the will of God. It was his life and joy to serve the living God and his Master, the Lord Jesus Christ. On one occasion, while involved in service for the Lord, he was forbidden by the Spirit to speak in Asia. Thinking that it would be alright to go to Bithynia, he and his companions set off to go there. The Spirit of Jesus did not allow them (Acts 16:6-9). It wasn't long before a vision appeared to Paul and he and his company set out for Macedonia and Greece. The Spirit was leading them as they sought to do the will of God. What was the result? Assemblies were formed at Philippi, Thessalonica, Corinth and Ephesus. The will of God and the Spirit's leading produced positive results for the glory of God and for the blessing of many precious souls. Another great benefit of lasting profit from that leading of the Spirit are the letters that Paul wrote to these assemblies. There is help and comfort in modem times from past triumphant exercises.

It was according to the will of God that the Galatian believers should be delivered from this evil world (Galatians 1:4). But they were in grave danger of returning to the bondage of the law. Paul in his epistle to the Galatians, corrected their erroneous tendencies. In chapter five of his epistle, the great conflict between the flesh and the Spirit is dealt with. Paul specifically stated "if ye are led by the Spirit, ye are not under law" (Galatians 5:18). The law was given to a nation of men and women in the flesh, i.e. with a fallen nature inherited from Adam's fall, and incapable of pleasing God. The leading of the Spirit enables Christians to suppress the evil tendencies of the flesh, and to express the nine-fold fruit of the Spirit which is pleasing to God and honouring to Christ.

In Romans 8:14-17 there is an exalted feature of the leading of the Spirit. It is sons of God who are led by Him. These sons, having the Spirit of sonship (adoption) are enabled of the Spirit to speak to their Father and say "Abba, Father" (Galatians 4:6). Exactly the words the Lord Jesus addressed to His Father in the Garden of Gethsemane (Mark 14:36). How wonderful! To be able to address our Father in the same way as His perfect unique Son. David's desire to be led by God's good Spirit is an integral part of Christian life and response to God.

David asks God not to take His Holy Spirit from him.

Psalm 51:11

When David's sorrowful sin of adultery with Bathsheba was brought home to him by Nathan the prophet, he was smitten in his conscience and immediately repented of his evil deeds (2 Samuel 12:7). Not only did he repent but he left a record for all to read about the reality of his repentance toward God. Would anyone like to write about their failure in such an open way? Psalm 51 is a laying bare of the heart and conscience of a penitent man of God. It was against God that he had sinned. It was to God that he made his confession of guilt. The danger of losing the presence, help and power of the Holy Spirit was a very real one. King Saul, Israel's first king, had known the power of the Spirit in his life, but because of his failures the Spirit of God left him (1 Samuel 10:6, 10; 1 Samuel 11:6; 1 Samuel 16:14). It was the remembrance of this that caused David to pray as he did. It is of interest to note that the Spirit of God wrought mightily in Samson, a judge of Israel (Judges 13:25; Judges 14:6, 19; Judges 15:14). From the time that Samson betrayed his Nazarite vow to the cunning Delilah and lost his strength, there are no more references to the Spirit working in him (Judges 16:17). When devotion and reparation to God were slighted the Spirit's help was withdrawn.

It is important to keep in mind that David's prayer was in keeping with the day in which he lived. It was the day of obedience to the Mosaic law. It is not a valid prayer for a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ. Since the day of Pentecost, when the Lord Jesus received the Holy Spirit from the Father to give to His followers upon earth, the Holy Spirit has remained in the bodies of believers, these believers forming the Christian testimony on earth at any given moment (Acts 2:32, 33). He will be with them forever. The Lord Jesus said so (John 14:16). The believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is sealed with the Holy Spirit UNTIL the day of redemption (Ephesians 1:14). That is the day when all believers in Christ, those who have died, and those alive at His coming, shall receive glorified bodies (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; Philippians 3:20, 21; 1 Corinthians 15:42-58). When God seals a believer with the Holy Spirit no power can destroy that seal, neither can unfaithfulness on the part of the believer cause the seal to be removed or broken (2 Corinthians 1:21, 22). The seal of king Ahasuerus could not be reversed (Esther 8:8). The seal of God in giving the Holy Spirit to believers is yet more irreversible than the ancient king's seal. A seal has different aspects in Scripture. The Corinthian assembly was the authentic indication (seal) that Paul was an apostle (1 Corinthians 9:2). The seal in 2 Timothy 2:19 is a seal of possession. It indicates that God knows those that belong to Him. In Revelation 20:3, when the seal is placed on Satan's prison, he will be secure and restrained from evil for 1,000 years. The king's seal in Esther 8:8 was permanent. When these aspects are considered in connection with the seal of the Holy Spirit it will be seen what an important truth it is.

While the Holy Spirit will never be taken from a true believer (unbelievers are not sealed with the Spirit) that does not encourage careless living, far from it. The characteristic name of the Spirit in the New Testament is the Holy Spirit. For power in response to God and Christ in worship, and for power in any feature of Christian service, it is necessary and vital to have an ungrieved Spirit of God. It is easy in this modern age to become insensitive to evil in its many forms. The Holy Spirit will never countenance any unconfessed sin in the lives of Christians. True communion with the Father and the Son and true profitable service largely depend on our practical consistency with the indwelling Spirit of God. Great blessings demand a conduct that is worthy of them.

F. Wallace.

Hymn

Lord Jesus, 'tis our joy to know Thy love

The following hymn came from the pen of William Kelly. Written prior to 1894 it was used among the Lord's people until about 1928 but since then has not been included in any hymnal that Chapter Two is aware of. Although better remembered for his scholarship and as a prime gift to the church as a Bible teacher Mr. Kelly wrote several hymns all of which are characterised by clarity of thought, doctrinal precision and devotion to Christ. “In a hymn one looks for the elevated expression of communion rising from true and deep spirituality, or the charming simplicity in celebrating grace and truth, which is due in homage and gratitude to God and His Son” (Bible Treasury volume 20, W. Kelly).

An anthology of his hymns and poems is being prepared for publication. Chapter Two plan to issue this during the summer of 1993, if the Lord will.

A new biography of William Kelly is also in preparation but the heavy workload has delayed this project considerably. The publication dates of these new titles will be in future issues of this magazine.

LORD Jesus, 'tis our joy to know
Thy love, that rests upon us now,
Is ours for evermore;
Not this the manner of vain man-
Thou lovest as God only can
Ages on ages o'er.

Before a creature lived or died,
Before God's sons rejoicing cried
At sight of all things made,
Man was the object of Thy heart,
With him to take Thy destined part,
By Satan undismayed.

O blessed Lord, Thy love did then
Pass angels by for sons of men,
For beings of the dust!
Thyself the Father's chief delight,
Eternal Wisdom, Life, and Light.
How worthy of all trust!

Yet man, alas! a rebel turned
And soon with every evil burned,
The slave of Thy worst foe;
How wondrously this drew Thy love
To reconcile with God above
Our alien hearts, we know!

Lords, 'tis the virtue of Thy blood
To wash us spotless for our God:
Was ever love like this?
Yes, Thou would'st have us now enjoy
The tidings glad without alloy,
Waiting for heavenly bliss.

But far, far more; Thy love that came
So low to bear sin's doom and shame
Has raised us to Thy height;
For Thou hast made us one with Thee
In heavenly glory all shall see
When Thou dost come in might.
W. Kelly (1820-1906).

Book Review

“The Assembly Of God” by H. L. Heijkoop. 141pp., paperback

Available through Believers' Bookshelf (U.S.A. and Canada) or Chapter Two

In the foreword the author mentions that the book is an adaptation and translation of addresses which he gave in Germany and Switzerland more than a decade ago. The book is divided into nine chapters and readily divides into two major parts, though this is not mentioned as such in the book. The first part presents God's counsel and how He has realized it in the course of time and will accomplish it to perfection. The second part underlines our responsibility as Christians to put God's thoughts into practice.

Chapter one shows how the assembly was formed as a result of the incarnation of the Eternal Son and on His death, resurrection and exaltation. The assembly of God is a company of called-out ones, just as Abraham was called out of an idolatrous system. These called ones belong to Christ, the Anointed Man of God who is now in the glory and they have Christ as their life. The Scriptures never use the word church (or assembly) to refer to anything either wider or narrower than this company of true believers. The second chapter speaks about the love of Christ for His assembly His bride, in the past, present and future. What a wonderful reality! The third chapter presents the body of Christ as His complement. Just as Eve made Adam “complete,” so that together they are called “Adam,” so in the counsels of God the assembly makes Christ “complete” and both together are called “the Christ.” Here we see how the Father gave the risen and glorified Christ as Head to the assembly.*

{*I would add here a second thought, namely that the body is also the expression of the Head. Christ, the glorified Man in heaven, is expressed in the members of His body on this earth. I think both sides of the truth are equally important and the one should not be stressed at the expense of the other.}

Chapter four deals with the assembly as the house of God, again according to God's purpose; here the Holy Spirit comes into prominence. On the one hand the house is growing until the rapture and on the other it is a suitable dwelling place for God through the Spirit. The universal aspect of this house finds its expression locally and therefore in this chapter of the book man's responsibility with regard to the house of God is also discussed, with special emphasis on 1 Cor. 3, 1 Tim. 3:15 and 2 Tim. 2. Here, actually, the second major part begins, with the focus on man's response to God's plans. Chapter five presents the greatness of the Head and our need to be refreshed and stimulated again and again in our affections towards Christ, who is the Head. Chapter six shows how Christ is building up, edifying the assembly in order to realize God's counsel. Chapters seven and eight explain how the many members form one body and how this truth is expressed in local assemblies.

The last chapter challenges us to get involved in God's interests on this earth. He wants to have a dwelling place on earth on the basis of redemption and He wants to use you and me to realize this wonderful desire. All of us, brothers, sisters, young people, children, need to put God's thoughts into practice and prepare an habitation for him. The author refers to Exodus 35 where we have beautiful illustrations to help us to carry out God's thoughts with regard to His dwelling place on earth. We must begin to contribute in a positive way rather than to criticize.

The Assembly of God is a book to read prayerfully and study, not merely to be used for reference material.

Alfred E. Bouter

Copies of “The Assembly Of God” by Mr. Heijkoop are available to subscribers free of charge on application to Chapter Two. This offer is limited to one copy per applicant, while stocks last.

News from the Field

Republic of Malawi

Area: 118,500 sq km

Population: 8,000,000 (48% under 15 years old)

Capital: Lilongwe (since 1975)

Official languages: Chichewa and English. Tumbuku is spoken in the North and Yao in the South East.

Religion: Religious freedom but Russellites (J.W's) were banned in 1969. 68% claim to be Christian. The Yao are Muslim, 16%. The remainder are mainly animist African tribal religions. Christianity came through the famous work of David Livingstone in the last century.

REPORT OF A VISIT TO MALAWI

After some years of interesting correspondence with believers in Malawi it was felt by those engaged in the literature work that a visit might prove useful. With the encouragement of our colleagues in North America and Europe it was determined to go in mid October for two weeks. The Lord enabled brother Hilvert Wijnholds to join me for this trip. His considerable experience in Cameroon and elsewhere in Africa proved a significant additional asset. We left London on 10 October and arrived 12 hours later in Lilongwe. Two local Christians, Howard Ngwira and Stephen Nyrango, met us at the airport. The next leg of the journey was a 7 hour bus trip to the town of Mzuzu, which is towards the north. We arrived at Howard's simple house, safe but tired, at midnight. It has no electricity and no running water and it lies at a considerable distance from a metalled road. We were made very welcome and as comfortable as possible by Howard and his wife Florence.

We spent the next day resting and talking about the Lord's interests in Malawi. Numerous local Christians also came and made themselves known. They had all left the religious systems of men to be identified with the company in Mzuzu. The next day we set off for Rumphi (Stephen's home). We arrived and found a group of believers awaiting us. Besides locals a few had come from nearby Mphompha. The meeting was followed by questions. The truths we enjoy are hardly known, but their desire to walk in the Lord's will is extremely cheering. On Wednesday we travelled to Karonga which is in the far north near Tanzania. Here a cotton farmer had built a nice meeting room. We could preach in the shade to a good sized congregation. After Hilvert and I had each given a word we could break off for a dish of tea and a hot meal. Some while through the meal a believer from Zimbabwe came in. He had heard of the “new doctrine” that was on everyone's lips and desired to know more. We will be writing to him in due course and praying the Lord will show him the truth. After the meeting we went to visit one of Howard's brothers who had been a few days in hospital. When we arrived we learnt the tragic news that his brother had died that morning of dysentery. We went to the family home to find a funeral meeting in progress with many mourners. A preacher for the CCAP was exhorting the hearers to be prepared for death by trusting Christ. We left Howard to attend the burial which would take place the next day.

The next visit on our itinerary was to the Kaboko area which lies not far from Mzuzu. Here the local believers had built a mud meeting room with a guest room. There are a number of men here who are very keen to learn. We sensed however that their grasp of the gospel of the grace of God was very poor. Our stress was on presenting basic gospel truths and seeking that these might be embraced with saving faith. There is much to be done here in order to establish the believers in grace. Brother Mwenda seeks to gather the saints but lacks sufficient knowledge of the fundamental truths to be much help. He was, in spite of his strong personality, eager to receive adjustment from the Scriptures. Among the local Christians were a number of widows — one in particular, with nine children, has been very faithful in supporting the little testimony. The whole company received us very kindly and gave us a huge basket full of bananas. We really appreciated this as it was the first fruit we had eaten since arriving. We are quite sure the value of this gift was a sacrifice for them.

Friday, Saturday and Lord's Day were reserved for a three day conference. About 70 believers came together from all the places we had previously visited. Some had travelled long distances. One brother, Lucas Banda, had taken three days to come up from Monkey Bay. He had a good acquaintance with the Word of God and could bring to our conversations the appropriate text and reference on varied scriptural subjects. His quietness and keen interest in the truth of the assembly commended itself to us. In his area, he reported, there may be 15 meeting places where the Word is proclaimed and prayer made, but as yet no breaking of bread. The conference consisted of a study of Acts chapters l and 2. There were many questions of a practical nature which we sought to answer from the Word. Our overall impression was that these believers were very teachable and desired to learn the way of God more accurately. On the Lord's Day we observed them breaking bread. We refrained from expressing fellowship with them because of various matters that need to be dealt with. They had so far let anyone break bread so long as they desired to do so. The responsible brethren had not however considered the necessary moral conditions or spiritual state of the applicants for fellowship. Young children had also been admitted to the Lord's supper, without them having any understanding of what it meant. A deeper consciousness of personal and corporate responsibility is needed in relation to the holiness of the Lord's table. It is also imperative that when new assemblies and groups desire fellowship a conscientious investigation is made to ensure the maintenance of an uncontaminated fellowship. In so short a visit we could not establish to what degree they had judged their former connections with the unfruitful works of darkness. The last meeting of the conference was with one or two older brothers of each meeting place. During this they sought counsel on various matters and help.

On the day after the conference we flew to Blantyre and visited the Bible Society to arrange for discounts on Bible purchases which we intend making. If we buy more than 760 copies we can secure a 30% reduction in cost. The next day we went on towards Zomba, the old capital. On the way there is a small country meeting at Masuku, some 3/4 of a mile off the main road. Some of the people had come 200 kms. to be present for the meeting. Again we were constrained to present the foundation truths of the gospel of our salvation. One of the local brothers is a very energetic farmer and ekes out a livelihood from the parched land. He had built a decent sized mud meeting room with a thatched roof. One of the brothers labouring among these is Godfrey from Nyamlomso Village, Chikwawa. That evening we went to visit kinsfolk of brother Howard, where we learnt that his aged father of 80 was now suffering from dysentery. Hilvert and I gave him what medicines we had brought with us. The next day we went on to Ncheu where we visited a Dutch doctor —  a real child of God of the reformed tradition. He was willing to take some of our books and showed interest in our visit. To get to him and his wife we passed the Mozambique border. The west side of the road was completely devoid of signs of life. Fine buildings had been destroyed. The contrast with the Malawi side of the road was great. For some miles there were large villages of Mozambique refugees dwelling in mud huts. Occasionally these people will cross the road to tend fields in Mozambique, but they will not venture far because of the terrible civil war still raging there. Here in the south there are many refugees swelling the ranks of hungry people needing help. The refugees are of the same tribe as the Malawian, but have Portuguese as a second language instead of English. It may be that literature in Portuguese could be distributed profitably. The brethren in Malawi certainly would like to receive small quantities to see what could be done.

On our last day in Malawi we visited the Christian bookshop in the capital, and rested prior to our long homeward flight. We spent much of the time reflecting on what we had been privileged to see and hear. Our prayer is still that these lambs of Christ might be encouraged to walk and feed in His green pastures. Their needs are many and great, but He is sufficient for all.

H. Wijnholds and E. N. Cross