Truth & Testimony Vol. 1 No. 7, 1992.

There is One Body
The Suffering Servant
Studies in Luke's Gospel — The Path of the Disciple and the Transfiguration of Christ
On the Prophetic Word
From Our Archive The Morning Star
The Old in the New Explained
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.

There Is One Body


When the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, ascended to glory He sent down the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost to indwell the bodies of those who believed on Him. They were united to Him by the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:17), and to each other in the power of the same Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:13). The body of Christ was formed then and has continued until the present moment. Only those who are real believers, born again and possessing the indwelling Spirit of God, are members of the body of Christ. They are ONE body in Christ (Romans 12:5). Only those who are real are IN CHRIST. God has set the members, each one of them, in the body as it has pleased Him. It is inconceivable that God would put in the body any who are not genuine believers in Christ (1 Corinthians 12:18). The body is OF CHRIST and derives FROM Him (Colossians 2:17 19). The body of Christ is not the sphere of profession. It is a living organism, the fruit of the work and service of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

When the body of Christ was first formed there were two great religious systems existing, Judaism and Paganism. A member of Christ could not be a member of either of those systems (Acts 15:7-11; 1 Corinthians 10:19-21). A member of the body of Christ should not belong to any other membership. The body of Christ includes all who belong to Christ. Religious memberships are connected with the name that they bear and regrettably there are many in Christendom.

The true and only Scriptural gathering point is Christ. He is absent in glory and believers gather to His Name. His Name involves all that is true of Him (1 Kings 8:27-30, 1 Kings 9:3; Matthew 18:20; 1 Corinthians 1:2). Every believer who gathers to the Name of Christ is privileged to enjoy all that His Name involves. They are also responsible to be true to all that this Name represents. His Name represents His love for His own and therefore all true believers can gather to His Name. His Name also represents His holiness and truth. All that is evil and erroneous is excluded in gathering to His Name. Fellowship, ministry and care operate for the benefit of all who gather to the Lord's Name. Discipline is exercised to protect the honour of the Name to which they gather.

The Bible has many names for believers. Members of the body, saints, brethren, elect, children of God, sons of God, priests, and many more. It does not present any Name to gather to except that of Christ. All those who were in the Upper Room at Jerusalem when the Spirit descended upon them at Pentecost would remember that experience for the rest of their lives but they were not called PENTECOSTALISTS. The New Testament instructions for the care of assemblies mentions the functions of elders (presbytery — 1 Timothy 4:14; Titus 1:5), but the assemblies were not called PRESBYTERIAN. The believers in the early days of the church believed in and practised baptism (Acts 8:38), but the churches were not called BAPTIST. There are instructions for bishops (overseers Philippians 1:1; 1 Timothy 3:1) in the writings of Paul but the churches were not called EPISCOPALIAN.* Elders and bishops (overseers) are names for the same persons in Scripture. See Acts 20:17, 28; Titus 1:5, 7; 1 Peter 5:1-2. The believers in Colosse were commended by Paul for the order (method) that existed among them, but they were not called METHODISTS. The believers in New Testament times believed in the indwelling Holy Spirit and the name of friends (Romans 8:9; John 15:14; 3 John 14), but their gatherings were not called THE SOCIETY OF FRIENDS (QUAKERS). Believers at the beginning gathered together (congregated 1 Corinthians 11:20) and heard letters read mutually. They were not independent of other companies composed of members of the body of Christ (Colossians 4:16), but they were not called CONGREGATIONALISTS. All believers in the early days were referred to as brethren. But not BRETHREN with a name attached to it or with a capital B. Believers in Rome were called saints (Romans 1:7). Believers in Corinth or Galatia or Thessalonica were not called Roman Christians.

{*Episcopalian denotes governed by or relating to a bishop or bishops.}

The body, all true believers in Christ, is denominated (to give a name to) the body of Christ. It is derived from Him. It is sustained by Him. It is joined to Him. A denomination, a collection of individuals called by the same name, is a sect. Interdenominationalism is the mutual embracing of all denominations.

When believers were enlightened to the truth of Christ's Headship and His body at the beginning of the last century these truths led them out of the systems of men and the denominations too. They owned no name except Christ's. They owned no membership except that of the body. They met in homes and rooms which bore no distinctive name or title. It was impossible for them to call themselves the church of God in any place. Such a title would have excluded those who did not meet with them. They believed in churches because the New Testament speaks of such but they did not call themselves THE CHURCHES OF CHRIST or THE CHURCHES OF GOD. They met simply as members of the body of Christ. Scripture did not teach them any other name or membership. These brethren did not attempt to set up a unity of the body. They believed rightly that the unity existed unbroken in spite of the confusion. All they endeavoured to do was to humbly and dependently express the unity that existed. The movement of the Spirit of God was such that companies of believers were formed all over the world. These companies sought to move together as one. There was no thought of independent companies although each company was responsible to maintain the truth revealed. There was no recognised universal leader but spiritual men were honoured for their service. No governing body formulated rules and regulations. Christ was recognised as Head and The Leader. The Scriptures of truth were the sole authority for all matters pertaining to assembly functions.

Alas! Satan could not allow such a wonderful expression of Christ's Headship and blessing to continue. Soon sorrow and division wrecked the revival of the truth. Today the movement known as Brethren is broken into many fragments. Some are reasonably strong and active. Some are weak and dying out. What is the path for those who desire to be true to the truth that remains in spite of the sad failure?

First of all, and perhaps the most important, a true and contrite humiliation for all the failure of the past and present. Personal and collective failure must be recognised and confessed in truth. God appreciates wholesome confession and readily responds to it in blessing. Independency, individual and collective, replaced by corporate activities. Walking shoulder to shoulder with one objective Christ's honour and glory. Where this is done there will be blessing in the companies and more zeal for the unconverted.

A home divided against itself cannot stand and a company of believers which is divided in loyalties and activities cannot make progress. The truth of the body teaches that all believers need each other. Where the truth of the body regulates the believers there will be increase. The Scriptures say this (Ephesians 4:7-16). This section of God's Word teaches the supremacy and glory of Christ, the Head. His wisdom in giving gifts to whom He will, the spiritual growth of believers which enables them to detect and refuse error and the whole body working together to the mutual benefit of all the members and to its increase.

The Lord is coming soon. That is a fact that many believers now recognise. May God in His great mercy enable those who are exercised about moral and spiritual conditions to devote themselves to prayer, exercise and obedience. The truth remains. It cannot be destroyed. The Spirit remains. He will be here until the end of the dispensation. These are our great and unfailing resources in the last days. May there be a revival of interest and devotion that will remain until the coming of the Lord.

F. Wallace

The Suffering Servant

In Isaiah 49 we read of God's servant Israel; but as we find references to this same Servant in Isaiah 42 and Isaiah 52 applied in the New Testament to our blessed Lord, there seems to be no reason why this chapter should not also be applied to Him. It is true that others, such as John the Baptist and Paul, were called from before their birth for a special task, yet one feels that this applied in a unique way to the Lord Jesus. In verse 2 we read: "He hath made My mouth like a sharp sword." In the description of the glorious Overcomer in Revelation 19 we read that "out of His mouth goeth a sharp sword", and we know how He could silence His enemies with a word: "But I say unto you … "

Israel as a nation failed to be the witness that God had intended them to be, but this blessed One fulfilled the third verse of our chapter: "Thou art My servant … in whom I will be glorified." The next verse, however, sees a remarkable contrast: "I have laboured in vain, I have spent My strength for nought, and in vain." This could well describe that terrible scene "when God's plans seemed all confounded in Thee on the tree seen dead" (hymn 478 in "Spiritual Songs"). Even the disciples, who had said: "Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life," forsook Him and fled, as He had foretold. Even Peter, the boldest of all, denied Him three times. It is good to read the rest of our verse: "Yet surely My judgement is with the Lord, and My work with My God." It could not be otherwise. He had come to glorify the Father, knowing from the beginning the awful price that would have to be paid. In the hours of darkness He could say: "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?" but His last words were: "Father, into Thy hands I commend My spirit." The work of redemption was completed, and, as a result, He "was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father".

When the Lord was presented in the temple as a child, Simeon could say: "Mine eyes have seen Thy salvation." While He was there as the witness to God's earthly people, as He reminded His disciples more than once, yet Simeon could recognise Him as "a light to lighten the Gentiles". That is what we find in our chapter. In verse 5 the Lord says: "Though Israel be not gathered, yet shall I be glorious in the eyes of the Lord, and My God shall be My strength." This is answered in the next verse: "It is a light thing that Thou shouldest be My servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob … I will also give Thee for a light to the Gentiles, that Thou mayest be My salvation unto the end of the earth."

It is remarkable that God reveals Himself now as the Redeemer of Israel. He was this at the very beginning of their national history, but now it must have seemed to the godly ones left in Jerusalem that He had ceased to be a redeeming God. Here, too, He couples Himself with His Holy One, which could be no other than our blessed Lord, which is confirmed by the next description of Him: "Him whom man despiseth, … whom the nation abhorreth" (verse 7). This anticipates the well-known words in chapter 53: "He is despised and rejected of men." Such was men's reception of God's well-beloved, but as the chapter proceeds, we see that there is to be a glorious climax as a result of His redemptive work. In verse 12 we read of people coming from far, even from the land of Sinim (China). No doubt the ultimate fulfilment of this will be when "all Israel shall be saved", but we already see something of the fruit of the travail of His soul in all that hear the good news, and turn to the Saviour in this day of grace.

No doubt the words used in verses 20 and 21 will have their fulfilment when Israel is back in the land, but surely we can recognise the contrast between the loneliness of the Lord when deserted by all His followers, and the coming day of glory, when He will say: "Who hath begotten Me these? … Behold, I was left alone; these, where had they been?" As we read at the end of Isaiah 53: "He shall see of the travail of His soul, and shall be satisfied." An earlier chapter is quoted in Hebrews 2:13: "Behold I and the children which God hath given Me." As we are reminded in Hebrews 12: "For the joy that was set before Him" He "endured the cross, despising the shame." As Henri Rossier expressed it:

"Thou wilt behold the object of Thy choice,
Thy spotless bride for whom Thou, Lord, hast died;
And in the travail of Thy soul rejoice,
Thy perfect love for ever satisfied."

Studies in Luke's Gospel

The Path of the Disciple and the Transfiguration of Christ

(A Bible reading at the Findochty conference in September 1991)

Luke 9:21-36

This afternoon our subject is mainly concerned with the event in the Lord's life which in Matthew and Mark's Gospels is referred to as the transfiguration. It is only recorded in what we call the synoptic Gospels, Matthew, Mark and Luke. Having said that, I am anticipating someone saying something about a verse in John's Gospel chapter one. In our reading we have started, not with the transfiguration, but with the passage leading up to it. It is striking that in each of the three places where this event is brought before us it is preceded by a call to discipleship. One would come to the conclusion that there is a definite link between the two incidents. His followers were called to a pathway of discipleship and one feels that the mount of transfiguration was brought before them to encourage their hearts in that pathway.

That would indicate that the path of discipleship is very closely connected with the kingdom. The mount of transfiguration is a preview of the kingdom manifested in glory and discipleship here determines ones position in the kingdom then. This would be one of the great levers for our taking up discipleship now, in view of whats to come.

In comparing the accounts one notices that Luke puts in a word that Matthew and Mark do not. He says, "If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me". Discipleship is a daily thing. Luke impresses this upon us.

This teaching occurs at least six times in the Gospels, so it must have great significance.*

{*Matt. 10:38; Matt. 16:24; Mark 8:34; Mark 10:21; Luke 9:23; Luke 14:27.}

It is well worth stressing because there are those today who speak about loving oneself as if it were a right thing, whereas in second Timothy it is noted as a feature that marks corrupt Christian profession in the last days "Men shall be lovers of their own selves" (2 Tim. 3:2).

The path of discipleship has been marked out by the Lord. His path to glory was a pathway of suffering. It is noticeable that the first thing that is said here about the disciple is "if any man will come after Me". We would all be very happy to be identified with the Lord in the coming day of glory and display but plainly these verses say it is our responsibility to be identified with Him in the day of His rejection and this will involve suffering and sacrifice.

Yes. The Lord seems to base this call to discipleship and the suffering connected with it on the fact that He Himself as the Son of man was going to suffer and be killed and raised again the third day. He was going to have a pathway of rejection so the disciple will have a pathway of rejection too. The disciple takes up his cross. This speaks of rejection with Christ. He takes it up daily and follows the Lord.

Is that the reason why He commands them in verse 21 to tell no man that He was "The Christ of God", the Messiah connected with Israel? He speaks of Himself instead as the Son of man.

It was obvious that He was going to be refused as the Messiah and hence He takes up this wider glory, but it meant going into death.

We shouldn't mistake the cross for a thorn in the flesh.

No. People sometimes say if they've got some kind of illness, "that's my cross to bear". People sometimes use that expression but that is not what we have here. This is following the rejected Christ, a Christ that died here and we follow Him by taking up the cross.

It is "taking up" his cross. It shows that it is a voluntary act which is done every day. We can lay it down or we can take it up.

Is this the acceptance of the reproach and the stigma that is connected with the cross?

I'm sure it is. It is a pathway of following Him daily.

Is it an individual thing?

It is. It says, "if any man".

In those days if anyone was seen carrying a cross it meant that he was going into death. I notice that He doesn't say take up My cross.

No, but one has thought that His cross becomes ours as we walk in the pathway following Him. We take up the same course and we meet with rejection as He met with rejection.

I think the statement in Peter comes very near to it. "Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind" (1 Peter 4:1). That of course is not the atoning sufferings.

You are not saying that if you don't do this you cannot be saved?

Oh no. This is discipleship. This is the course of the believer after conversion. If we have trusted the Lord Jesus Christ as our Saviour then what are we doing with our lives? How are we using our time? Are we spending it on self? Has self become the object of our lives? Is it me first? Paul wasn't like that, he was Christ first. "For to me to live is Christ." Put into practise by brothers and sisters, old and young alike, this would fill the meetings with freshness and vitality.

In Romans Paul says, "If so be that we suffer with Him, that we may be also glorified together" (Rom. 8:17).

This is always the order. If we suffer we shall reign, and that is the line we are noticing here. There is the call to discipleship and then the transfiguration scene.

Is this one act or is one consequent upon the other, denying oneself and taking up the cross?

It is one act, one commitment. I know that the word commitment isn't in the Bible but it is a good word. I think this would all be included when we make a definite commitment to the Lord. Have we made a definite commitment to the Lord, have we all done it?

We are to render to God the things that are God's. In Romans 12 Paul beseeches that we present our bodies a living sacrifice.

Is the reward for this only in the millenial kingdom or do we get a present reward? Is it part of the life we enjoy now or do we have to wait until the Lord comes?

In the main it is in the future, though of course there is a present happiness and joy in taking up the cross and following Him.

There is a promise to the overcomer in Thyatira that seems to answer the question. The Lord says … "he that overcometh … to him will I give power over the nations: And he shall rule them with a rod of iron" and shortly afterwards He says, "And I will give him the morning star. " Clearly ruling the nations with a rod of iron is being associated with Christ in the day when His glory shall be universally displayed, but in referring to the morning star the Lord is saying you will have in your heart now the bliss that will fill the world to come when I have My rightful place.

We need to examine ourselves in the light of what we are saying. The disciples were speaking in terms of what they had left behind physically, but we have to leave self behind and live in the light of another day. Self has no part in this. This isn't an easy pathway. It is a pathway of reproach, of suffering and of shame and self-denial, but Christ really captures the affections and through Him we are sustained.

On that particular line, it is possible to deny oneself and yet not take up one's cross. There is many a Christian who has denied himself, who has spent his life in the service of others, but does not know the reproach of Christ. The two must go together.

In verse 26 he writes about the day when the Lord shall come. This is the day of His appearing, when He shall come "in His own glory, and in His Father's, and of the holy angels". This seems to be connected with our pathway here. "Whosoever shall be ashamed of Me and of My words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when He shall come." Here we have the day when there will be rewards and the kingdom. When faithfulness to Him will be rewarded. I notice that in both Matthew and Mark He speaks about His coming in His Father's glory and with the angels, but only Luke says "in His own glory". It is only Luke that says in regard to the transfiguration that "they saw His glory". What is preeminent in this account of the transfiguration is His glory.

That would give the opportunity to say something about the verse referred to in John's Gospel chapter 1. "And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth" (John 1:14). In the middle of the verse there is a parenthesis and in the parenthesis it says "and we have contemplated His glory, a glory as of an only-begotten with a Father". We have no details of the transfiguration in John as we have in the other Gospels, but there is just a suggestion here, "we have contemplated His glory".

It may be included in it. It seems to me that the glory that shone from the mount of transfiguration was of an official character, regal glory. John seems to take a wider view of all that he saw. He wrote many years afterwards, when he looked back and he says, "we have contemplated His glory, a glory as of an only-begotten with a Father". That seems to sum up all that he saw in that blessed life lived down here for the pleasure of God. I would be quite happy to say that perhaps the transfiguration is included in it, though John is mainly concerned with the personal glory of Christ whereas the mount of transfiguration is chiefly His official glory.

One suggestion for the non-inclusion of the event in John is that no exaltation is possible or conceivable for Him who ever dwells in the bosom of the Father.

There is a link in that the King is the Son and that is the thing that is stated in the parenthetical reference in John 1. Peter emphasises it when he says we "were eyewitnesses of His majesty". What shone was regal glory but when the testimony came from heaven, the testimony was "This is My beloved Son."

Don't you think that when you get some office filled by the Lord Jesus the Spirit of God is very careful to tell us who it is that holds the office? As in the epistle to the Hebrews. It is the person who is the Son of God who fills out every official position.

Would that reference in John be about His moral glory?

I don't think so. His moral glory is that which came out in His life. When I think about moral glory I think of His righteousness, and His grace, and His love, and a blending together of all that ought to have marked man. It all came out in Him. When John says, "we have contemplated His glory, a glory as of an only-begotten", a unique Son, "with a Father", that is personal glory.

Why does Luke speak about the kingdom of God?

In Matthews Gospel it's "the Son of man coming in His kingdom".

In Mark it's the kingdom of God come with power. In Luke it just says the kingdom of God (v. 27). There may be points connected with the present character of the kingdom though Peter says that the transfiguration looks on to the coming kingdom of the Lord Jesus (2 Peter 1). That would be the way they would see the kingdom of God before they tasted death. They saw it in a miniature form. They saw a little picture of what is going to be in the day of the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ. This was to be an encouragement to His disciples at that moment when He was going to the cross. He was going to leave them and they were shown this picture of the coming kingdom to encourage their hearts in the path of Christ's rejection.

Is this the same as when the dying thief said "Remember me when Thou comest into Thy kingdom?" (Luke 23:42).

There is a connection. Because of the use of the preposition the words "into Thy kingdom" could be translated "in kingly glory" and that is obviously what we are reading here. You could speak of it as the kingdom in miniature because they saw the regal glory of the king shining.

I note that after the call to discipleship, Matthew and Mark say "after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James and John" but Luke says "about an eight days after". Why is there this difference?

One would say that, as being found in Luke's Gospel, there is a moral reason. There may be two part days included at the beginning and end of the period to make up the eight, but I think there may be significance in the eighth day inasmuch as it marks a new beginning.

There is no real numerical discrepancy anyway because the modern equivalent of saying "about an eight days" is to say about a week. The actual number of days must have been six but that's about a week. I agree that the moral reason is the one you have given. There is an indication that God is about to bring in something new and that gives added pertinence to the rest of the text.

Eight is the number of resurrection. Matthew and Mark bring out the millenial glory of the Lord Jesus on earth whereas in Luke the emphasis is more on His heavenly glory which we shall see, and even now, following on from His resurrection, He is in it.

Yes. In Luke's Gospel the account is a little different. We have the expression "they feared as they entered into the cloud", which is a very significant expression and seems to belong in many ways to the present day in which we live. In Matthew it is "the Son of man coming in His kingdom", and when they saw Him it says that "His face did shine as the sun." It also speaks of His garments being "white as the light". In Mark it says that His garments were so white "as no fuller on earth can white them". Today our wives have all kinds of ways to get the clothes as white as they possibly can but there isn't any fuller on earth, no cleansing agent anywhere, to make them as white as His garments. Wonderful isn't it. That is found in the Gospel that tells us about the perfect Servant. In that day there will be an answer to that perfect life. Here in Luke we are told His raiment was "white and glistering". Darby uses the word effulgent. The word has to do with a flash of lightning and the revised version translates it "dazzling".

Outshining is the idea.

Yes, it is a dazzling light. That is what we have in Luke. The sun in Matthew's Gospel is connected with kingly glory and majesty. The Son of man coming in His kingdom looks forward to the day of His kingdom in power and glory. "The Son of man, o'er all supreme" as we sometimes sing.

This glory emanated from Himself.

What was within began to shine out. At a reading some two years ago a brother asked what the difference was between the word for change in Phil. 3:21 "Who shall change our vile body" and the word for change or transfigure which is used in Matthew 17 and Mark 9. The answer given was worth its weight in gold. It was stated that the word used in Philippians indicates the influence of an outside agent. Something being done from outside, just as a person who is highly skilled with a lathe can produce a beautiful piece of work. The brother went on to say that the change which is spoken about in Matt. 17 and hence here is not something that is done from the outside but rather the shining out of what is inside. It is like the beauty of a flower, no hand touches it from the outside but what unfolds from the inside is beautiful to behold. That is the transfiguration. It was inherent glory which began to manifest itself.

David spoke about it before he died. Malachi spoke about it before the Old Testament closes. "And He shall be as the light of the morning, when the sun riseth, even a morning without clouds" (2 Sam. 23:4). "The Sun of righteousness (shall) arise with healing in His wings" (Mal. 4:2). He will fill the universe with glory, shining to the corners of the earth.

One can't help but connect that with Matthew's point of view where you have His face shining like the sun. Again in this passage, the Lord is praying and His dependence comes out. Isn't that a wonderful blending of glories. Here He is on the mount of transfiguration and if we do think of the kingdom of God as having a present bearing here, how happy it is that as He was praying the fashion of His countenance was altered. That has been put forward as a proof that what is here is the present character of the kingdom of God but one only goes along so far with that suggestion. Actually the word transfiguration doesn't occur here in Luke's account. It does occur in Matthew and Mark. What it does say here is that "the fashion of His countenance was altered". That means that the emphasis is on what shone out, upon what was outward. I quite agree with what has been said about what was inward, inherent, but the word transfiguration is not used here and the emphasis seems to be on what is outward. His glory is emphasised here, and it was that which was outwardly seen and manifested to them. The fashion of His countenance was altered.

There are a great many Scriptures which make it apparent that as the Lord passed through a sad and sullied world it left its impact on Him. He was a Man of sorrows and Isaiah says very plainly "His visage was so marred more than any man." But there came a time when not what was outward but what was inward had its effect upon His face. Whilst it was glory that shone, it was a result of what was inward, and that was absolute perfection. With us circumstances and crises often expose us, but with the Lord, every crisis brought out the absolute perfection that was in Him.

Before we talk about Moses and Elias can we consider briefly the passage referred to in the first chapter of 2 Peter. Peter says when he writes about the transfiguration, we "were eyewitnesses of His majesty. For He received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to Him" and then he says, "We have also a more sure Word of prophecy." How gracious the Lord is to supplement what we know of the Old Testament Scriptures by what we see on the holy mount. Those to whom Peter was writing had all the Old Testament Scriptures about the coming kingdom of the Lord Jesus. But he says we have the prophetic Word made surer by what we've seen on the holy mount. For what they saw, as we've been saying, was a little picture of the coming kingdom of the Lord Jesus.

Doesn't he couple the "Word of prophecy" with "a light that shineth in a dark place"?

Yes, that's what prophecy is, and we are to take heed to it. There are some who would tell us that we don't need to bother about the prophetic Word, but to study the prophetic Word is a worthwhile occupation. It is a light to us in a murky place.

It didn't come by the will of man, but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.

Yes. We have emphasised there the truth of inspiration. It may be that the day dawn refers to the coming kingdom, while the morning star arising is the heavenly hope which burns in our hearts now while we wait for the coming of the Lord. That's really all I wanted to say about 2 Peter 1.

Peter, James and John seem here to represent the earthly company, while Moses and Elias are representative of those who have been raptured to glory.

Yes, and Moses and Elias were talking with Him. Matthew and Mark tell us this but only Luke tells us what they were talking about. They were talking about His decease, His leaving the world at Jerusalem, a reference of course to His cross.

Like several other things in Luke, the decease is spoken of not as an accident or an incident, but as an accomplishment.

And the coming kingdom rests on the immutable foundation of the death of Christ.

The word exodus (decease) indicates His going out and although He went out by way of the cross, He was carried up into heaven and I think that would be included here.

Yes, in fact both Moses and Elijah had outstanding exits from the world. Moses died and we have the remarkable statement that God buried him (Deut. 34:5-6). Elijah was raptured up (2 Kings 2:11). Yet they were speaking of His exodus. They were recognisable and able to talk to one another. They knew more than the disciples knew too. What the Lord had told the disciples about His death didn't sink down into their hearts until after His resurrection, but these two men who lived hundreds of years before them knew that He was about to give His life at the cross. If they were talking with the Lord about His decease, they knew about it from their own writings. As has been said already Moses died and was buried. Elijah was raptured up. He was caught up to heaven without seeing death at all, and it is because of this that one has thought that Moses and Elijah here prefigure the heavenly company in the kingdom. We know from the fourth chapter of 1 Thessalonians that at the coming of the Lord for His saints the dead in Christ shall rise first then we which are alive and remain, shall be caught up together with them. Moses is a picture of one who has fallen asleep and Elijah one who was still alive.

How did Peter, James and John know who they were?

I once heard someone say that we'll know each other up there as we've known each other in Christ down here. If that is right, it certainly means that we ought to do all we can to strengthen our spiritual links with one another down here. Of course the disciples hadn't met Moses and Elijah but through the Scriptures they had gained some acquaintance with them and hence recognised them on the mount.

Do we learn from this portion that as Moses and Elias were talking about our Lord's decease, so this will be the theme in heaven. As Mr. Darby's hymn puts it "With Thee in garments white, Lord Jesus, we shall walk; And spotless in that heavenly light, Of all Thy suffering's talk."

I'm sure that Mr. Darby had this passage in mind when he wrote those words.

This is an example of what will happen to all of us. One day we shall open our eyes and we shall see His glory.

Before we close we should say a little about the words of the Father. Peter says that "there came such a voice to Him from the excellent glory". That would be the glory which had filled the tabernacle and the temple. The voice came from the excellent glory, but we have the words as well "This is My beloved Son: hear Him". It has been said that these words were for Peter. Peter had put these three all on the same level, Moses, Elijah and the Lord. But the Lord must have the preeminence. He is the One to whom Moses and Elijah always looked and wrote about.

When he recounts it in his second epistle the whole incident seems to have grown in his appreciation. He speaks about the holy mount, such a voice, the excellent glory. But what about ourselves? When we listen to ministry does it enlarge our souls? Peter never forgot this. It affected him deeply and he recounted it for the sake of the saints.

We need also to have an appreciation of what the Father thought. We have here the Father's voice. He could not hold back from declaring His delight in this Person.

Yes, and don't you think that we need to have an appreciation of that as well? Whoever it was who entered into the cloud, they suggest those who are taken in to enjoy and to know something of the Father's thoughts of the Son. It seems to me that while we have regal glory in the transfiguration we are taken in to the inside place. We hear the voice from out of the cloud and we learn something of the Father's delight in the Son.

A Few Simple Thoughts on the Prophetic Word


"Blessed [is] he that reads, and they that hear the words of the prophecy, and keep the things written in it; for the time [is] near" (Rev. 1:3). This verse is an encouragement as well as an incentive for every Christian. Dear reader, what about your interest in the prophetic Word? Or are you just curious to know what will happen tomorrow? There are three messages in this verse.

1. For the one who reads. If I have an interest in the prophetic Word, I should read the whole Bible, in order to take in God's thoughts gradually and systematically. Many people today want instant answers to their questions, without realising that God's Word is higher than man's thoughts.

2. For the one who hears. This verse does not mean that you have to know and understand all the prophecies of the Bible before you can be blessed. To hear the words of prophecy means to take in by faith that which God presents to us through His Word. It is His plan to glorify His Son in the same world where He has been rejected and crucified. Is it not a blessing to be occupied with the coming public glories of our Saviour?

3. For the one who keeps. In other words, the one who gives heed to the things written. This implies for example the respecting of God's authority and sovereignty. To the world system we are living in this is an unbearable thought and it is therefore even more challenging for Christians to honour God. Do we also realise His goodness towards all men, despite all the things happening? Do we understand that God is faithful to His promises, towards us but also, in relation to the prophetic Word, towards Abraham and his descendants, the Jews, the nation of Israel? Do we respect God's holiness and righteousness in our daily lives? Then we will be able to grasp the moral principles of the prophetic Word and thus be blessed!

Prophecy is for bondmen of God

"Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave to Him, to shew to his bondmen what must shortly take place; and he signified [it], sending by His angel, to His bondman John" (Rev. 1:1).

This verse is a healthy and sobering introduction to the Word of prophecy. It addresses bondmen of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ. This passage of Scripture confronts us with this question: am I a bondman, a slave of God? In Romans 6 we are instructed how every Christian has become a bondman of God, having been delivered from the slavery of sin. But do I practically realise the Redeemer's claims? This book, and even this one verse, puts things in the proper perspective. Only when I am practically His slave/bondman, will I be able to grasp the meaning of this book and of the prophetic Word in general. We should therefore ask ourselves the following questions. Do I accept His rights as Creator. In this book of Revelation and in the prophetic Word in general, we find how these rights are maintained through the period of judgments. Do I accept His rights as Upholder and Sustainer of the universe and thus also of the minutest details of my life? Do I accept His rights in my individual life as the Ruler of the history of the nations, as we see Him to be in this book. If I do I will have no difficulty in honouring His claims as Saviour (1 Cor. 6:20) and Judge (Acts 17:31). Are you His bondman, am I?

"Poor and feeble though we be,
Saviour, we belong to Thee;
Thine we are, Thou Son of God,
Thine, the purchase of Thy blood."
Anna Dober tr. J. Wesley

Prophecy's purpose

"For we have not made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, following cleverly imagined fables, but having been eyewitnesses of His majesty. And we have the prophetic Word [made] surer, to which ye do well taking heed" (2 Peter 1:16, 19).

What is the purpose of prophecy? It has a moral and spiritual goal, which is to introduce Christ, either morally or publicly. Besides these verses in 2 Peter 1, Rev. 19:10 would be a wonderful passage to meditate upon: "For the spirit of prophecy is the testimony of Jesus." All parts of the prophetic Word in one way or another refer to the person of Christ. Prophecy is not just a manual of events. However, there is a definite plan, of which He is the centre, as we find for example in Eph. 1:10, with regard to the administration of the fullness of times, when all things will be publicly placed under Christ's headship. What a time that will be! Do you look forward to it? Paul did, and he wanted to share his desire with all believers who would love the Lord's appearing (2 Tim. 4:8).

All these verses, especially 2 Peter 1, show at the same time important principles for interpretation. The whole prophetic Word is one complete unity and all parts are put together in a well-balanced, harmonious system. This is one of the reasons to study the whole Word of God, in order to gradually grasp the meaning of the individual passages. There is no room for speculation, or for interpretation in self-will. All the passages are grouped together around the Centre, our blessed Lord, who is the lamp of the prophetic Word, as well as the light of the day to come and the morning star. What is He for your heart? The character of prophecy in our days, according to 1 Cor. 14 and Rom. 12, only underlines this moral dimension of prophecy as related to world events.

Prophecy's centre

"For prophecy was not ever uttered by [the] will of man, but holy men of God spake under the power of [the] Holy Spirit" (2 Peter 1:21).

What is a prophet? According to the original meaning, somebody who speaks on behalf of someone else. Thus Abraham was a prophet, Gen. 20:7 and Aaron was Moses' prophet, according to Ex. 7:1.

The further biblical meaning which is developed gradually, has to do with the introduction of God's Anointed One, when there is a time of decline, in order to bring God's people back to Himself. See for this, Acts 3:20-24; Acts 13:20. What is the perspective of prophecy and where do we find this in Scripture? It is God's Anointed, introduced into this world. Thus Christ is the very Centre of prophecy (as well as of all God's truth). A right understanding of this will lead us to praise and worship, Rev. 4 and 5. We find different aspects of the scope and centre of prophecy in historic events, types, feasts, the Psalms, as well as of course, in the books of the prophets, written by those holy men of God.

Prophecy has to do with this earth in God's counsel from the foundation of the world and with Israel, which is the centre of God's ways with the earth and with the nations (Deut. 32:8). The calling and rapture of the church is in itself not part of prophecy: the last trumpet of 1 Cor. 15:52 has nothing to do with the last trumpet in Rev. 11. Likewise the Lord's day in Rev. 1 has not much in common with the prophetic day of Jehovah. Our understanding of prophetic events will be greatly stimulated once we see the difference in position between Israel and the church. The church is rather related to God's eternal purpose. What we see happening today could be compared with the pieces being put together on the chess board. The "game" itself will be "played" after the rapture (compare Rev. 4-6) and under God's full control (Dan. 10, Rev. 13).

Prophecy and providence

"The kingdom of the world of our Lord and of His Christ is come, and He shall reign to the ages of ages" (Rev. 11:15).

Compare this verse with Psalm 2, where we learn how God is in charge of the events in heaven and on earth. Although God seems to be silent and even entirely absent, all details are in His hand, as another passage graphically suggests, Isaiah 18. Thus, in His providence, God has used World War I in order to give the land (in part) back to Israel. World War 2 caused many Jews to return to their country. The events in our days may ultimately lead to the reconstruction of the temple.

Along these lines many preparations may take place, while the true church is still on earth. The professing and later apostate church will continue on the earth after the rapture and till the days of judgment. However, the definite fulfillment of prophecy will take place after the rapture of the saints. That does not mean that there will be no believers left on earth. God will form different companies of believers (one discerns seven groups in Revelation), whereas in the day of grace in which we live all believers form one Body in Christ.

Some key passages for the study of prophecy

A key passage for the study of prophecy is Daniel 2, which teaches us that historic events cast their shadows long. This chapter speaks of the ultimate and definite change of world order, when the Stone will destroy man's kingdoms, in order to introduce a reign according to God's thoughts, through the

Man of His choice. See also Ps. 80; Rev. 17-19; Dan. 7; Dan. 9:24-27; Dan. 11:36-45; 2 Thess. 2; Rev. 13-14; 19-20. The book of Revelation gives the framework in which all the Old Testament prophecies fit beautifully together.

A. E. Bouter.

From Our Archive

"The Morning Star"

Christ Our Hope

(Continued from page 146)

The assembling of so large a multitude on the occasion of the miraculous effects accompanying the descent of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost made it necessary that Peter should show the Jews that their own Scriptures were accomplished by what had taken place. For the Lord's death, resurrection and ascension to the Father's right hand had all been set forth in so many words a thousand years previously.* Peter's preaching was in the power of the Holy Spirit which he had received, an evident token of God's gracious purpose to lead His rebellious people to repentance, so that they might learn the fullness of His grace in the forgiveness of their sins. Let us, however, not lose sight of the fact that the forgiveness they needed was the Father's answer to the prayer of His blessed Son at the moment when He was nailed to the cross (Luke 23:34).

{*The Scriptures quoted by Peter from Ps. 16 and 110 furnished the needed proof His sermon was an example of what is stated in Ps. 68:18; compare Eph. 4:7-11.}

Their reception of the gospel message was followed by baptism. It was only right that they should thus testify to a complete and definite change of position, involving their giving up Jewish privileges and boasts in order to own the lordship of the Messiah they had confessed. God had made Him "both Lord and Christ", and they must needs confess it by being baptised unto His death.

The repentance of the Jews, thus marked, made a distinct change between them and the leaders of their nation who, persisting in their unbelief, soon began to persecute the followers of Jesus of Nazareth (Acts 4:1-22; Acts 5:17-18, 28, 40). The Lord's words in John 15:17-21, both as to the hatred shown towards His disciples, and the persecution of which they were to be the objects, were very soon fulfilled. Those that believed were "added to the church"; those that refused the proffered forgiveness maintained their place and position in the world which hated the Father and the Son (see also Rom. 8:7).

The importance of such an inevitable separation of the church from the world is too great to be overlooked, all the more so because of the increasing tendency in the present day to obliterate this distinction. The climax of the foretold "strong delusion" will be reached when Christianity is reduced to an outward improvement of the world with a view to finally getting rid of the name of Christ altogether and substituting for Him a political and a religious leader, all whose power, in both cases, will be derived directly from Satan himself (2 Thess. 2:9; Rev. 13:4-12). And consequently, wherever God works in His longsuffering grace, a persecution of all who are faithful to Him must necessarily follow. It has often been so in the history of the church, though with less pretension to universal success than at present. But the enemy outwits himself and the supposed emancipation of mankind so much in vogue will end in a slavery far worse than any which they think they have a right to complain of When the church is gone persecution will burst out in a fresh direction namely, against the Jews who will then once again be God's messengers to a Christless and Christ-hating world.

But let us pursue the history. After the descent of the Holy Spirit God's work prospered in Jerusalem for a time. The numerous converts to Christianity felt the necessity of being together and of having "all things common". The outward unity of the church was thus borne witness to, but they had much to learn as to the faith they professed. That was the case even with Peter himself and with the others who were all slow to understand and carry out their commission to go to "Samaria and unto the uttermost part of the earth" (Acts 1:8). Though seven deacons were chosen to look after the temporal administration and care of so large a multitude of believers, in order that the apostles might be free for the ministry of the Word, God made use of two of these very deacons to carry out the ministry first confided to the apostles. One of them, Stephen, gave the last and crushing denunciation of Jewish apostasy; the other, Philip, was the first to visit Samaria with the gospel. Later on Peter, much against his Jewish thoughts, received a special call to carry the gospel to Gentiles at Caesarea, after which he was severely taken to task for it by the leading converts at Jerusalem (Acts 10:9-21; Acts 11:2-3, 18).

The true character of Christianity was only apprehended by degrees. Peter, led of the Holy Spirit, had spoken of "the Father" on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:33), but present relationship with Him, according to the Lord's first message after His resurrection, "My Father, and your Father", was not entered into (John 20:17). Nor does it appear in their prayers, recorded in the early chapters of the Acts. They address God as "Jehovah", which is represented by the Greek word "Lord", and once (Acts 4:24) as Master or "Sovereign Ruler" (as in Jude 1:4), and they speak of the Saviour as God's holy "child" or "servant".* They had not yet realised what the apostle John afterwards described as the Father's "manner of love" (1 John 3:12). Jewish aspirations and Jewish hopes filled all hearts, engrafted on a sense of forgiveness by the accomplished sacrifice of Christ, such as had never been known under John the Baptist's preaching, or since. Peter's stirring call to repentance in Acts 3 was based, as already remarked, upon the realisation in the near future of national hopes inspired by the prophets of Israel when they foretold the earthly blessings to be inaugurated on Christ's return.

{*"Son" in Acts 3:13, 26, should be "child" or "servant", as elsewhere, and Acts 8:37 is known to be an interpolation.}

A further testimony was needed of a wholly new character in order that these hopes might become heavenly in accordance with Christ's present seat at God's right hand in glory whither He had gone to prepare a place for those whom the Father had given to Him (John 14:2). This special testimony God, in His sovereign mercy, was now about to bestow. And that it might be effective in every way three conditions were satisfied: the witness had to be a pharisee of pharisees thoroughly versed in Jewish modes of thought and withal a man of spotless life (Acts 26:5; Phil. 3:5-6); secondly, the most desperate persecutor of those who followed what they esteemed to be a delusive novelty (Gal. 1:13-14); thirdly, he was to be admitted to see the personal glory of the Lord (1 Cor. 9:1; 1 Cor. 15:8). By such means God not only operated his conversion, but also gave to his ministry the needed power. This witness was Saul of Tarsus, afterwards known as the apostle Paul. He had never seen Jesus on earth and consequently his start on the Christian career bore the stamp of what he saw and heard when, as persecutor, he "drew near to Damascus" (Acts 9:3 6). The person of Christ in the glory was everything to him, accompanied by the deepest self-judgment (1 Cor. 15:9-10); and he was the first to preach Jesus in the synagogues that "He is the SON OF GOD" (Acts 9:20).

To Paul were confided truths of a peculiarly Christian character and of which we find little or no mention in other writers of the New Testament but which have their source and living expression in a glorified Christ and this explains the fact of the glory being such a remarkable feature in the epistles he wrote, as for instance in Rom 5:2; Col. 1:27; Heb. 2:10; 1 Thess. 2:12, &c.

The first particular communication was made to him at the time he wrote the first Epistle to the Thessalonians, explaining how it was that the Lord will bring His glorified saints with Him when He returns to this earth. The fact is stated in Zech. 14:5 and Jude refers to it as Enoch's prophecy (though in this case "saints" might refer to angels). But no explanation had as yet been given as to a previous removal from this earth of both sleeping and living believers.

The next became the subject of the Epistle to the Romans which unfolds "the righteousness of God" in forgiving sins on the ground of Christ's sacrifice and the character of the glory which is to be revealed in those who are made the "sons of God", so that Christ may be "the firstborn among many brethren", all of them being "conformed to the image of HIS SON" (Rom. 8:19, 29-30; Gal. 3:26).

Another truth was the freshly established ordinance of the Lord for His church on earth, to show His death "till He come" and that is intimately connected with the glory as we find in both Epistles to the Corinthians (1 Cor. 10:17; 1 Cor. 11:23-26; 1 Cor. 15:20, 23, 49-57; 2 Cor. 4:17-18; 2 Cor. 5:19).

Lastly, the full revelation of the "mystery" of the body of Christ (unfolded in the Epistle to the Ephesians and referred to at the end of the Epistle to the Romans and in that to the Colossians) was confided to Paul alone and gave colour to the gospel he preached (Acts 20:27; Col. 1:25-26).

A very little reflection suffices to convince the attentive reader that all these truths, peculiar to Paul's writings, depend upon what Christ is in His own Person, now seated "on the right hand of the Majesty on high", after having by Himself purged our sins when He suffered on the cross (Heb. 1:3).

And how infinitely precious it is for us to know that Christ must needs, in the first instance, satisfy His own heart, not by a public display of His power in this world, but rather in presenting to Himself His bride-elect, the Church which He has purchased with His own blood (Acts 20:28; Eph. 5:25-27). The more we meditate upon these special revelations made to the apostle the more our hearts are drawn out to the blessed Person of the SON OF GOD, which Paul was the first to preach. He began at once in the synagogue at Damascus. The persecutions he had been a chief means of carrying out necessarily recoiled upon himself when he preached the faith he had previously sought to destroy (Gal. 1:23). But had he not heard from heaven the underlying truth of all his future ministry when Jesus, whom he persecuted, intimated the marvelous identification of His saints with Himself in the glory, in those words of pity and love, "Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou ME?" (Acts 9:4).

Paul's ministry has a character of its own. It is distinctly "heavenly" and is largely illustrated by his life which forms the subject of more than half of "The Acts". Luke, who was the author of the book, became Paul's companion when he left Troas to go into Macedonia, and thus take the gospel for the first time into Europe. We may well say that his peculiar testimony had its source in heaven, from whence the Lord revealed Himself to him, when he was intent on persecuting the saints in foreign parts and was approaching the city of Damascus furnished with authority from the chief priests at Jerusalem to deliver the saints to prison or to death (Acts 26:10-12). The Lord arrested him with the words, "Saul, Saul, why persecutest though ME?" Did not these words contain the essence of the "mystery" afterwards more definitely revealed to him the mystical union of Christ and the church, "which is His Body" (Eph. 1:20-23)?

Furthermore, Paul received for his own soul a wonderful accession of power, granted to no one else, when he was "caught up into paradise", whither the Lord took the repentant thief crucified at His side (2 Cor. 12:1-10). On that occasion the Lord gave His servant a "thorn in the flesh" to keep him humble, and to maintain in him a deepened sense of his own weakness — the proper condition for not merely knowing but feeling that all true power is from the Lord alone. There was real danger lest, through the abundance of the revelations, he should "be exalted above measure". Dependence upon the Lord is constantly needed for all true ministry and particularly for such as Paul's.

Besides that, the Lord's word to Ananias had to be fulfilled in regard to the apostle: "I will show him how great things he must suffer for My name's sake" (Acts 9:16). Without the suffering here there can be little spiritual power for entering into the glory set before us; it would be shorn of its true incentive and energy in the soul through not being linked, as it should be, with the blessed Lord's pathway and life on earth. Consequently the apostle's evangelistic service was a continuous series of bitter persecutions, especially from the Jews. On his many journeys he had to brave every kind of danger on land and sea and was often in peril of his life, to say nothing of bonds and imprisonment (2 Cor. 11:23-27). No other witness of the truth was called to suffer in the same degree and thus "fill up", or complete what might be lacking in those outward afflictions which served to show how the church's course on earth is practically identified with Christ's (Col. 1:24). Every Christian has in some way thus to learn by experience how hostile is the world which nailed Christ to the cross. "Unto you it is given," says the apostle, "in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on Him, but also to suffer for His sake; having the same conflict which ye saw in me, and now hear to be in me" (Phil. 1:29-30).

The Lord Himself, after His resurrection, showed to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus how intimately connected are "the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow" (1 Peter 1:11). Such indeed is one of the chief burdens of the Old Testament Scriptures (Luke 24:25-27, 32, 44-47). Is it not precisely on this principle that Christ's present place in glory, after having suffered, indicates the believer's hope? A little serious consideration will surely make this plain and first as to life possessed.

The Lord, in answering the cavils of the Jews, shows that every living soul must know the Son of God in one of two ways: either as the life-giving Spirit at the present time (1 Cor. 15:45), or else as the Son of man to whom all judgment has been committed by the Father (John 5:19-29). Now the believer, through grace, does not look for judgment, Christ having already borne that for him and met every claim against him in righteousness when He bore "our sins in His own body on the tree". The assured portion of every redeemed soul is consequently to be with the Saviour in glory and there to enjoy the rest that remaineth to the people of God (Heb. 4:9). Those who do not thus know Christ through the gospel have before them all the terrors of awaiting the judgment and fiery indignation which shall devour the adversaries (Heb. 10:26-31). From that judgment to come there is no escape for one who refuses the gospel of God's grace offered to every one NOW. But judgement is deferred till Christ's return.

In other words for a believer the present age is characterised by the Lord's absence from this world as He said to his disciples, "I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world: again, I leave the world, and go to the Father … And ye now therefore have sorrow: but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you" (John 16:5-6, 22, 28). The gospel has gone forth and it is still being proclaimed. The gospel net has been cast by the Lord Himself into the sea and the work of the fishermen ever since has been gathering "the good into vessels" (Matt. 13:47-48). Presently the reverse will take place for at the end of this age "the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just; and shall cast them into the furnace of fire". The preparatory work of binding the tares "in bundles", is already going on (Matt. 13:30, 49, 50). But the saints that form the church have nothing to do with judgment; they await the Lord's return.

God is still speaking in the SON (Heb. 1:1). Judgment is, however, rendered necessary by the lifting up of the Son of man upon the cross. It was in view of His death that Jesus said, "Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out" (John 12:31-36). But previously to the judgment, that is before He begins to carry it out, Jesus will come to take all His redeemed to be with Himself for ever in the Father's house (John 14:2-3). For that we are now waiting. Paul bears constant testimony to the same truth (see Rom. 8:18-19, 29-30; Phil. 3:20-21). The Thessalonians, who had only heard the gospel on three successive Sabbath days, were converted — turned to God from idols — "to serve the living and true God, and to wait for His Son from heaven" (1 Thess. 1:9-10). They were characterised by their work of faith, labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father. There were no printed Bibles in those days; no part of the New Testament had then been even written. Notwithstanding this does not the energy of their faith put us to shame when we think of the advantages we enjoy? Is the Lord Jesus Christ "our HOPE" (1 Tim. 1:1)? Are we all earnestly looking forward to be with Him? Do our ways and walk prove it to those who know us?

We do well to ask ourselves a further question. Is Christ, in this sense, the "anchor of the soul"? Is it not a fact that the Lord is as it were anticipating the heavenly hope even now, by appearing for us in the very presence of God? (Heb. 2:10, 13; Heb. 6:19-20; Heb. 9:24). His prayer to the Father on behalf of His redeemed must have its fulfilment: "Father, I will that they also, whom Thou hast given Me, be with Me where I am … " (John 17:24). By all these passages is our place shown to be for ever with the Lord. Even a believer who dies in this present time departs to be "with Christ", which is far better even than serving Him on the earth (2 Cor. 5:6 8; Phil. 1:23). Jesus who is already in the glory is our "forerunner", which He could not be if none were to follow Him there. We should be looking forward at any moment to meet Him in the air (1 Thess. 4:17-18). He will never fail us. Does He find us faithful?

Paul's ministry came early to a close in martyrdom. But the Lord took care that it should receive a final and authoritative confirmation from both Peter and John who survived him and who had both seen the blessed Lord on earth and were also present at the transfiguration scene. The importance of what they then saw and heard "in the holy mount" cannot be exaggerated. We have already referred to it on page 142. There were three witnesses whom Jesus expressly called aside and Satan's object was evidently to get rid of them. Herod put James to the sword but when he was, as he thought, keeping Peter safely shut up in prison for the same purpose, the Lord sent His angel by night to open the prison doors (Acts 12:1-11).

Both Peter and John were preserved to the end of apostolic history. Peter's mission was to explain the import of the transfiguration as related by Matthew "the Son of man coming in His kingdom" (Matt. 16:28). In other words, that is from the point of view of God's governmental dealing with His saints at the present time of suffering in view of the Lord's return. This is also pointed out in its moral features in Mark and Luke. John, on the other hand, does not mention the occurrence, but is really occupied with the voice heard "from the excellent glory". For both in his gospel and in his first epistle he unfolds Christianity from the special standpoint of present relationship with the Father as set forth in the Lord's message confided to Mary Magdalene: "My Father, and your Father" (John 20:17). The Gospel of John unfolds this relationship as seen in the person of the SON (John 1-12), and made good in our souls by the power of the Holy Spirit (John 13-17). The epistle deals with the effects of sonship in believers, both as to their life and hope. Finally, the closing page of the Revelation emphasises the hope by confirming the promise made by "the Son of God" to the overcomer in the address written to the church of Thyatira: "I will give him THE MORNING STAR" (Rev. 2:18, 28).

Peter calls it the "day star", literally a "lightbearer" or "lightbringer", evidently referring to its moral character and intimating that darkness still reigns at the time of its rising. We have only to compare the closing chapter of the Old Testament in order to be penetrated by the complete contrast between the Jewish hope, only to be realised after the church is gone and the Christian's portion in an actually glorified Christ. The "Sun of righteousness" (Mal. 4:2) speaks of outwardly manifested blessing on this earth, the attendant effects being shown in the expression "healing in His wings", whereas the "day star" is evidently a call away from this earth, only seen by those who are watching in the night. The saints should be ever watching. How much the Lord insisted upon it shortly before His death! (Mark 13:34-37). In full accordance with this attitude of watching Peter's desire is that the day star should be as it were already risen in our hearts, with all its sanctifying power and the day time of Christ's glory be dawning there.* In his first epistle this is called "the revelation of Jesus Christ" fraught with the final grace of completed salvation (1 Peter 1:5, 7, 13).

{*The passage, 2 Peter 1:19, is somewhat obscure in our Authorised Version on account of the position given to the words "more sure". This is corrected in the Revised Version. The meaning is that the transfiguration confirmed in an extraordinary way, and thus mode more sure the "word of prophecy" with which the Jews were more or less familiar. Once this is understood much light is thrown upon the passage. The Father's voice heard on the mount not only confirms all prophecies relating to the Son but imparts to them a fresh and deeper signification with an accompanying effect on the believer's heart similar to that of putting aside a candle because the day is dawning. Prophecy refers to future blessing on this earth but it also speaks largely of Christ's personal sufferings and coming glory. Its scope is therefore not to be limited to the special circumstances or events which gave rise to it in any particular case. In this sense it is not of any private or restricted interpretation, like a human sentence, for "holy men of God spake under the power of the Holy Spirit".}

William Joseph Lowe (1838-1927).

(To be continued, if the Lord will).

The Old in the New Explained

Deuteronomy 8:3; Matthew 4:4

"Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God."

At Sinai the children of Israel had said "All that Jehovah has spoken we will do" (Ex. 19:12). These were their words both before and after the terms of the legal covenant were made known to them (Ex. 19:8; Ex. 24:3, 7). As a consequence their blessing and unique place as a people with Jehovah became conditional on their obedience (Ex. 19:5

6)* This foolish self confidence was tested when they were "led these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thy heart, whether thou wouldest keep His commandments or not" (Deut. 8:2). The results of this testing are well documented in Scripture. They were shown to be "a stubborn and rebellious generation; a generation that set not their heart aright, and whose spirit was not stedfast with God" and few indeed of those that crossed the Red Sea entered in to the promised land (Ps. 78:8; Num. 32:10-12). Addressing the people Moses speaks of them as having "rebelled against the Word of Jehovah" their God (Deut. 1:26, 43).

{*In making such a statement it is necessary to guard against the unscriptural idea that the nation as such has now been cast off forever. See Romans 11.}

The section here in Deuteronomy 8 focuses upon one particular test the provision of the manna. It was given that "He might make thee know that man doth not live by bread alone, but by everything that goeth out of the mouth of Jehovah doth man live" (Deut. 8:3). Only as the manna was gathered according to the divine directions given could the food provided be appropriated (Ex. 16:4-5, 13-19, 21-26). Those who disobeyed found none (Ex. 16:20, 27-29). In this way the lesson that life and obedience to the Word of the Lord are intimately connected was brought before the people. It is remarkable that the lesson seems to have gone unheeded. The manna was first given before Sinai had been reached. The unbelief and disobedience of the people had already been manifested, yet at Sinai they still asserted their readiness to be obedient (Ex. 16:1; Ex. 19:12). As before, so subsequently, what was in their hearts was laid bare, while at the same time Jehovah's faithful care was shown (Deut. 8:3-6). Sadly, what "types of us" we find in all this (1 Cor. 10:6 J.N.D. translation).

When we turn to the Lord Jesus what a contrast we see. His words by the mouth of David were "I delight to do Thy will, O My God: yea Thy law is within My heart", yet He too was to be tested (Ps. 40:8). For this purpose He was "carried up into the wilderness by the Spirit to be tempted of the devil (Matt. 4:1). He fasted forty days and forty nights, and was afterwards an hungered. In His hunger there was no murmuring, as there had been with the people before Him, but only absolute dependence (Matt. 4:2; Ex. 16:23). Born under the law, He kept it perfectly and needed no chastening, as the nation did, because they broke it (Gal. 4:4; Deut. 8:5). Where the people had failed He did "magnify the law, and make it honourable (Isa. 42:21). Yet how far beyond the requirements of the law His obedience went (Philip. 2:8). As the eternal Son of God He had title to do as He pleased but in becoming flesh He took the place of one from whom obedience was due (Ps. 115:3; Ps. 135:6; Ps. 40:7-8). He did the will of His Father, and not His own will, cost Him what it might (John 4:34; Matt. 26:39; Heb. 5:7-8). Could He be drawn out of this position? Called upon by the devil to "command that these stones be made bread" the perfection of His dependence and obedience once again shines out. The thrust of the adversary was turned aside by the use of that which was His meditation day and night (Ps. 1:2). May it be that, as the congregation of the children of Israel beheld the glory of the Lord when they looked towards the wilderness, we too may have our eyes opened to His glory and excellence more and more, as we consider Him in this temptation scene.


News from the Field


On arrival in Bergen, Norway, I was met by two brothers, Jarle Anderson and Cato Haukeland. It was a joy to see these face to face and get to know them. Jarle had been ordering books from Chapter Two since 1989 and had entered into correspondence on various spiritual subjects. In his letter inviting me to visit, he had warned me that they were a poor expression of the assembly but that they desired further help. We spent the first evening reviewing their struggles and exercises. On Lord's Day the first part was spent in private meditation on the Word of God. After a meal with Jarle's parents there was a time of fellowship opening up the Word and answering many questions. They are still under exercise since leaving an independent Pentecostal group and do not as yet break bread. They are eager to be instructed in the way of God more accurately and we trust that with the Lord's help they will know establishment in Divine things. Jarle's sister is troubled about assurance and the depth of reality of her faith. She expressed the desire to see meetings according to New Testament principles in Bergen. The believers need much help and encouragement as well as instruction. They read much and value the books written by John Nelson Darby and William Kelly. But regular spoken ministry of Christ would feed them as well. There are other contacts in Bergen who I trust will meet up with each other and be a help in standing together for the Lord.

On Monday after visiting three Christian bookshops in Bergen I travelled to Sandnes where I stayed with Mike and Audrey Vienot from the USA. They have been in Guildford, England, for a number of years and fly back periodically for the breaking of bread and fellowship. It was my desire to acquaint them with the exercises of these Norwegian believers with the view of possibly being an encouragement to the Norwegians. We enjoyed a very happy evening of Christian fellowship together. I was very thankful to the Lord for their loving hospitality and to have the opportunity to talk together about the Lord's interests with like-minded brethren.

On Tuesday morning I moved on to the southernmost town of Mandal. I had missed the train and the bus, so my only alternative was to hitchhike. The first few miles I walked carrying my luggage wondering if I'd ever get a lift. This anxiety was brought to the Lord and after a little while a farmer offered me a lift. He spoke no English so this put me to the test. It was my first attempt at conversation in Norwegian. After a few miles he reached his destination and accepted a "Rent Gull" (Pure Gold) tract. The next driver to give me a lift refused the tract and was very much hardened to the gospel but he gave me his address for further contact. The stretch of road he left me on was very deserted. The rain clouds were gathering, so I began to wonder how I'd manage if it poured down. The last lift was from a very interesting fellow. He had various questions and doubts but was very receptive to the gospel. Do pray for Rolf Davidsen. It may be the Lord will work in his heart. He drove me all the way to Mandal (a journey of 2 hours) where I was met by Kjell Dahlene.

Kjell Dahlene has studied the influence of brethren upon Norwegian church life and has bought many books from Chapter Two. He found a copy of a hymn book used by the former Norwegian meetings and sent it to me. It was edited by Georg Johansen in Oslo in 1941. The last brother of that locality in fellowship with us was Carl Prydz. He died in the 1980s. Although these faithful men were few yet their influence was great. On Tuesday evening Kjell and his wife arranged for a group of ten or so to come together to hear the preaching of the Word. The merciful Samaritan in Luke 10 was the theme taken up. Kjell translated for me. They kindly expressed appreciation and asked for Rent Gull (Pure Gold) to distribute to their families and neighbours. That evening a storm had begun and on our return to Kjell's home we could feel the wind buffeting the house. His house is perched high on a great rock. News had come that the ferry service to Karmoy had been withdrawn due to the gale. I wondered if I would be able to accomplish the next part of the journey. The Lord has these matters in His hands. The next morning I awoke at 6 o'clock to a calm day. The sun shone, the storm had abated.

The train journey took me along the Southernmost coast of Norway. Sometimes through long tunnels carved out of the mountains, sometimes through beautiful valleys with waterfalls rushing down the rocks into swift rivers. The scenery can be quite dramatic. The train journey took 3 hours. At Stavanger I searched for the two Christian bookshops in the town and then proceeded to the ferry for Karmoy. The hour crossing was uncomfortable but uneventful. On arriving brother Henrik Gautesen collected me and we drove to his house at Aakrehamn. We had very positive conversations about the faith and also our mutual love for books. The responsible brethren in Karmoy have read much of assembly authors. They have also translated Ruth by Hamilton Smith, Unto Christ by H. L. Heijkoop, as well as his book Faith Healing, Speaking in Tongues, Signs and Wonders in the Light of Scripture. We would also like to see a start on The Watching Servant by J. N. Darby and one or two others by this writer. We also discussed possibilities of getting more done in Norwegian, especially a good selection of gospel tracts. Perhaps it will be possible to get Pure Gold, A Letter for You and The House of Gold into Norwegian. Getting Christians Gathered in the Name of the Lord Jesus translated would also be useful. They have a small publishing depot and issue Norwegian literature. They have also published Russian booklets and have been distributing Bibles and books in Russia. They publish their own magazine Lys pa Vegen (Light for the Way). Brother Henrik indicated that 1,500 were circulated.

The meeting for ministry began at 7.30 and was very well attended with over 60 present. Together we considered the vital features that should mark the assembly in these last days. The believers here appreciate expository ministry but have lacked it for some years now. As with us all there is need for adjustment and I am sure that with the Lord's help they will bow to His Word in such areas where help might be needed. I stayed two days with these brethren and was greatly refreshed by their kindness and devotedness to the Lord.

There are 3 or 4 other locations up the coast where similar believers can be found but time failed me to visit any others. If the Lord has not returned it may be possible to go further north to Trondheim next summer and see how it is with these somewhat isolated saints. In former times Edward Dennett, W. T. P. Wolston, James Boyd and A. J. Pollock visited Scandinavia. We desire to see the Lord at work. The seed may be dormant for a long time but God gives the increase and we look for His gracious work in the hearts of these believers. Meanwhile do pray for these dear believers. Eighty years ago Norwegian brethren were fined or thrown into jail for breaking bread without an "ordained Priest". The enemy was a roaring lion then but now he is working as a subtle serpent or an angel of light. The world has had its effect on the children of God but in the past two years the Spirit of God has worked in the lives of many and so we are encouraged to look up for the Lord's blessing.