[The design above was used for a Childrens Day Service at Terrace Row Presbyterian Church: the word Life was initially placed inside the green circle, and is now replaced by the word Prize. Note the word for underneath the crown symbol: an alternative heading for several of these tracts could be:- Training For A Crown: The Christian Prize.]
HOW PRIVATE IS PRIVATE
WHEN GOD KNOWS*
[* The following Thought for the Week was published in The Leader, June 15, 2012.]
This morning I had to get up at
the unearthly hour of 3.30am to drive my son and a couple of friends to
It is quite amazing the number of people who were on the road at that time of the day. If only the wee man in the white van* had have been out this morning, he would have caught one or two boys doing quite substantial speeds on his camera.
[* NOTE. The wee man in the white van probably refers to an ex-Traffic Branch, R.U.C. police officer now employed to operate equipment designed to catch speeding motorists breaking the law.]
But it may be it was because these folk knew that the wee white van man would be tucked up in his bed dreaming of catching a Porsche doing 120 mph, that they felt quite at ease to go so fast themselves!
Of course there were very few people on the road, it was early morning, they werent bothering anyone and do the rules of the road really apply at that time of day? Whos watching anyway?
So often in our lives what we think is different, from what we do because we can think in private and people cannot read our thoughts!
Sometimes what we do in private is very different from what we do in public, because we believe no one can see our secret actions.
Sometimes our words might make people think one thing about us, but our attitude of heart might be very different. But then who cares, who can see anyway?
And from a human point of view that it quite right. What we think is completely our thoughts. Our actions can be completely our own too, when no one else is looking and only we can know the real reason why we do things.
But the Bible teaches us, that God knows our thoughts, He sees what we do in private, He knows the attitude of our hearts. So how private is private when God knows? If others knew what God knew how embarrassed would we be? And yet it doesnt bother us in the slightest that God does know. What can He do about it anyway?
Well it bothered King David because he recognised that God knew everything about him. So much so that he said, you know when I sit down and when I rise up, you discern my thoughts from afar; even before a word is on my tongue, behold O Lord you know it altogether.
That may seem awfully oppressive, that we cant do anything that God doesnt know about it. But it is also wonderfully assuring. Because God knows, if anyone understands God does, because God knows, God sees and God cares. When we believe that, then it makes every aspect of our lives so much richer and people will truly see what kind of person we are. Now theres a thought! Have a good week.*
[* Now theres a thought! Have a good week. What an ending to all that has gone before! It gives us the impression that there is nothing to be too worried about! Not a word about the loss that a regenerate believer can incur through unrepented sin and disobedience! We are left with the impression that a just recompense of reward means nothing to one who is eternally saved by grace through faith in Christ Jesus! Is it any wonder that our church buildings are being vacated, when we hear only a half-truths? Is it any wonder the Lords redeemed people are fast asleep dreaming of going to heaven when they die; and, with a clear conscience that Christ has paid the full price for the sins of His redeemed people!
Is there not something very important that most Bible teachers have left out, or possibly forgotten to mention? Yes! There is; and the apostle Paul reminds us of it in the following words:-
Do you NOT know (many at Corinth may not have known because, (1) they were never told; or, (2) those who did know, conveniently forgot; or (3) some were ignorant, because those who were enlightened, were afraid to tell them; or finally, (4) some did not know, because Satan had blinded the minds of unbelievers - (i.e., A-Millennialists who disbelieve the time when our Lords GLORY will cover the earth as the waters cover the sea, Isa. 11: 9; Hab. 2: 14, must be included amongst the unbelievers) - to the gospel of the glory of Christ [2 Cor. 4: 4, NIV]). - that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the PRIZE? Run in such a way at to get the PRIZE. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but WE the apostles and all who see the importance of OBEDIENCE (Acts 5: 32; cf. 1 Cor. 5: 9, 10), to the precepts of our Lord Jesus Christ do it that is, train ourselves daily, in order to be competitive in the Arena of Faith TO GET A CROWN THAT WILL LAST FOREVER.
Therefore because we know how the importance these responsibility truths are, we are aware of the consequences of personal failure to reach the required standard of personal righteousness required for an entrance into the kingdom of the heavens(Matt. 5: 20). cf. Luke 20: 35; 14: 22: 28, 29, etc.), - I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight - in Gods appointed way- like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body I ask God daily for strength to subdue its sinful lusts and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself - Paul includes himself- will not be DISQUALIFIED FOR THE PRIZE: (1 Cor. 9: 24-27).
How many times have you heard this section of Holy Scripture faithfully expounded from your pulpit? In all my days as a member of the congregation, I have not heard it even once! I wonder why? Because, I believe, we are now living at a time when Pauls prophetic words are being literally fulfilled before our very eyes:- Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth (Acts 20: 30); For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. They will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths: (2 Tim. 4: 3, 4). Their teaching will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, who have wandered away from the truth. They say that the resurrection has already taken place, and they deny the faith of some: (2 Tim. 3: 17, 18). Ed.]
Always keep in mind: Nothing is hid from God Who is omnipresent, and He will JUDGE us - (now and in the future) : and He REWARDS us exactly as our deeds deserve.
* * *
THE GREAT UNVEILING
Paul teaches us a vital, yet sadly neglected truth. For we that is all Christians must all appear before the Judgment seat of Christ.
By using the word we Paul points to the church, For ... judgment must begin at the house of God (1 Pet. 4: 17).
We must - the judgment is inevitable, and so unavoidable by desire or accident. All - the judgment is comprehensive. The word all makes the word we emphatic; it is all believers whether living or dead; none escapes through special sanctity or sin; all whether Jew or Gentile according to the flesh.
All appear or
manifested - the judgment is
illuminating. Here will be an end of all
secrets. Many things which have been
kept from fellow-believers will lose their secrecy as they receive the full
blaze of Divine Light. Paul has in mind
no private examination but a full public trial.
Now we see the reason why Paul was ambitious to be well pleasing to
Christ - he knew that he would be publicly exhibited before the assembled
saints. Paul was misunderstood and
misrepresented by the Church at
Now we can see why our Lord encouraged us to pray, to fast, and to give our alms in secret. Those who do everything for public attention receive praise from men for their goodness and piety; that is their reward and they will receive but little in the coming day. Our Lord says, When thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: That thine alms may, be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly (Matt. 6: 3, 4).
We must all appear before the judgment seat - the judgment is impartial. The word used is the technical name for the seat of the Roman magistrate - Bema. It was the official seat of the judge and the place of a formal trial. This Judgment Seat is that of no Roman Governor but of Christ. God as Sovereign over the universe had appointed His Own Son to be judge of quick and dead, believer and unbeliever. John sees Christ, with eyes as a flame of fire - indicating a searching and penetrating gaze (Rev. 1: 14). The effect of Christ being the judge is seen in His words to the church at Thyatira. All the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works (Rev. 2: 23). Christ the Judge will act in perfect wisdom, with true justice, power over all, and with strictest impartiality.
That everyone may receive a recompense - the judgment is individual. There will be no mass trial, but each will be tried separately. Every one of us shall give account of himself to God (Rom. 14: 12). We should not expect mass trials in our earthly courts of law, and Christ could not have them. One by one we shall stand before Him, and He will determine what is our due. That we may receive - this word is the technical word for receiving as wages. It is something which will be received because it has been earned. As Lange says:- Every action of Gods children during their bodily life must be judged according to the strict law of righteousness and each believer must be rewarded according to his good or evil conduct. Nothing is said here about names being in the Lambs Book of Life or of justification, for there will be none there but those who are saved. As the first Psalm (1: 5) says, The ungodly shall not stand (or rise) in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. It is not a question of eternal life but of reaping the fruit of our works. We find in the parable of the talents that after our Lord had returned, He asked His servants to give an account of their stewardship. After a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them (Matt. 25: 19). He then apportioned their wages; one who had gained five talents was rewarded with rule over five cities; another who had gained two talents was rewarded with authority over two cities. The third had profited nothing because he had not used his talent, and so that one talent was taken from him.
Each is rewarded according to what he deserves. He will receive the things done in his body. We must do all the good that we can while we enjoy this life for after it is over there is no further opportunity for service. Lazarus might have been willing to cool the rich mans tongue with a drop of cold water, but he was not allowed to do so. According to that he hath done - the judgment is by exact measure.
In other words it will be reward according to works. It is not according to what Christ has done for us but rather according to what we have done for Christ. Before our conversion our works at their best were as filthy rags. We were then in the employ of another master and served sin. Since our conversion we are servants of the Most High, answerable to our Lord. Works are divided into two categories, good and bad. It is delightful to realise that the little good that we have done will be recognised as it is done in the name of Christ. He that receiveth a prophet in the name of the prophet shall receive a prophets reward; and he that receiveth a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous mans reward. And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I sat unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward (Matt. 10: 41, 42). There is such a great variety of service which can be done for Christ that none of us need lack opportunity. We may be able to do little because we have little strength, but if we devote to Christ that which we have, it will be rewarded. We may have little of this worlds goods, but if we give that which we have, then we shall be rewarded in the day to come. We are reminded of the incident in which our Lord watched the people as they were putting their gifts into the treasury. It was not the rich making munificent gifts from their abundance which caught the eye of Christ, but the widow putting in her two mites. Reward is one incentive held out to believers so that they should not grow weary in well-doing. Christ closes the Bible with these words, Behold, I come quickly, and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be (Rev. 22: 12).
Then there is the unpopular side, evil works. It is clear that a judge couldnt reward evil with good. We cannot deliberately practise something which we know to be wrong and expect our Lord to overlook it. We know that Paul realised that Christians did sin from the injunctions which he gives. Let him that stole steal no more (Eph. 4: 28). Lie not one to another, seeing that we have put off the old man with his deeds (Col. 3: 9). Now we know that all our sins before conversion are under the blood and so pardoned, never to be remembered against us again. But what of our sins committed since we were converted, are they all pardoned? Of course they can be, but it all depends. John says, If we confess our sins - and forgiveness hinges on confession He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1: 9). As pardon depends upon our confession, only unconfessed sins can come before the Judgment Seat. Concerning wilful sin a very strong statement is made. If we sin wilfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries (Heb. 10: 26, 27). This view that there can be bad works for which a [regenerate] Christian has to answer is confirmed by another passage. He that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong which he hath done: and there is no respect of persons (Col. 3: 25). The only possible recompense for [deliberate] wrong doing is punishment. Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap (Gal. 6: 7). Though in this life a man may sow evil and appear to reap good, in the coming day he will reap exactly as he has sown; the harvest will follow the pattern of the sowing. The Lord gives us an example of a believer who had fallen very low, but who said that he was rich and increased with goods and had need of nothing. In contrast to his own judgment, Christ says of him, Thou knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked (Rev. 3: 17). Here we find a [regenerate] believer who did not even know that he was in the wrong. He, far from being well-pleasing to Christ, was completely ignorant of his own spiritual condition. Can such a one expect to hear from the lips of Christ, Well done, thou good and faithful servant? If ye - children of God live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye - the same people through the Spirit do mortify [put to death] the deeds of the body, ye shall live (Rom. 8: 13). In certain cases a [regenerate] believer must suffer loss at the Judgment Seat. It has been known for a believer to live in known sin and die unrepentant; can God overlook that sin? No! He must receive the things done in his body whether good or bad. Paul was forsaken of his fellow believers when he most needed their help and comfort. In love he says, I pray God that it may not be laid to their charge (2 Tim. 4: 16). If all sin were to be forgiven in the coming day Paul, inspired as he was by the Holy Spirit, need never have prayed such a prayer. If we are surprised that a record is kept of the wrong doings of a child of God, we have only to look at the Old Testament, and there we shall see the sins of outstanding men like Abraham, Noah and David painted in the blackest colours.
The position is summarised as follows: All sin committed before conversion is pardoned when we come to Christ: all sin after conversion which is confessed and abandoned is forgiven: deliberate sin goes to the Judgment Seat there to receive due recompense in the coming day.
Our Lord is still silent. How anxious is the feeling of knowing that a judgment has been formed of us, and waiting, not knowing what it will turn out to be. So let us take heed to the words of John. And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming (1 John 2: 28).
- GORDON CHILVERS
* * *
THE FIVE CROWNS
And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me to give every man according as his work shall be. - Rev. 22: 12.
We find that the Word speaks of five crowns to be given by the Lord to certain of His own. Though this is an old subject it should stir our hearts afresh as we draw near the closing moments of the age, and all but see the goal at the end of the race. May the Holy Spirit who has been given to us, guide us in our study of the Word and bring much joy and blessing to our hearts and lives in Christ Jesus our Lord.
First is what is called The Crown Incorruptible. We find it mentioned in 1 Corinthians 9: 24-27: Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: but I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway. Solemn words these! May we gather somewhat for our hearts meditation and to help us to so run that we may win the promised crown.
background here would be familiar to every believer at
striving here is connected with the many things that are perfectly lawful, and
even necessary, yet the lawful and
necessary things, if indulged in, too far, may hinder the running of the
believer. Godly self-control that is
prompted by love for God, the love of the heart that really knows Him, is the
test of what would help or hinder. The
query is, does my eating and drinking glorify God or simply satisfy self? The
Word pierces to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and
marrow. What would be perfectly
legitimate up to a certain point, beyond
that hinders, and may rob us of the coveted prize. The word castaway has
nothing to do with the loss of eternal life.
It means disapproved as to the
reward; because of not keeping under the body. Such a runner was Lot, who vexed his righteous soul in
Next we read of  a Crown of Rejoicing. For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His Coming? For ye: are our glory and joy (1 Thess. 2: 19, 20).
The work of Paul and his fellows at Thessalonica throws light upon these words. With what faithfulness had he proclaimed the truth in Jesus Christ to them is shown clearly in this whole chapter, and it is summed up in the verses 7 and 8.
But we were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherisheth her children: so being affectionately desirous of you, we were willing to have imparted unto you, not the Gospel of God only, but also our own souls, because ye were dear unto us.
What a blessed faithful worker for the Lord; practically giving himself and his life for the people to whom he ministered. The results are seen in the fact that many of that city were saved and brought into blessed fellowship with the Lord and His own. They were really Pauls spiritual children and this is as it ever should be with the true Christian workers. The testimony in the Spirit should ever result in the saving of men and women. True these results may be hidden from us for the time, but they are, nevertheless, very real and blessed. And next the joy of being saved ourselves and knowing the Lord as our personal Saviour and Redeemer is the joy of being used to bring the Gospel of grace to the hearts and minds of the men and women of the day, to their eternal salvation.
The reward for this work here spoken of is the crown of rejoicing. It looks forward to the Rapture to gather all the saints home, the happy meeting of the redeemed in His presence, the greetings of the saved to each other, and of the deep joy of the heart in meeting there those we led to Christ. There is joy for all the saints, but specially will it be the portion of the worker to know somewhat of the joy of the Lord Himself, who shall then see of the travail of His soul, and be satisfied. What joy to greet those who are our spiritual children there! Remember, too, that our ministry may be at the throne of grace on the behalf of the unsaved rather than by letter or speech. What an opportunity the present time affords the true worker who heralds forth the simple Gospel of Jesus Christ, in sharp contrast with all the dead religiousness of the day. True, it may mean shame and reproach to him; but what of that! All modern methods break down and fall while the old story of the Cross is as effectual as ever. Yet must it be told out from the heart that really and truly knows Him, otherwise it is of no value or power. As we near the end of the age it would be well to search our hearts, minds and ways to see if we are giving a testimony to lost souls, so as to win the crown of rejoicing. I should ask myself the question, Have I any spiritual children in Christ Jesus? If not there is something absolutely wrong about my life and testimony; and I would better have the Lord straighten it out. Remember the words of the Lord in Daniel 11: 32, 33; 12: 3.
Next we have  The Crown of Righteousness spoken of by the inspired Paul in 2 Timothy 4: 7, 8:- I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love His Appearing.
is about to accomplish his exodus, so he states in verse
6, For I
am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure (exodus) is at hand. Blessed home-going for this faithful man of God. He comes to this glowing sunset of his life
as a victor in the long, long battle that had been waged the many years since
his Lord stopped him at high noon on the
Ever as he went on in the life God had planned for him he had been loving more and more the Appearing of the Lord - longing and looking for Him whom he loved and served. Now is he clearly seeing the reward ahead, the crown of righteousness which is then to be his. To the one who loves His Appearing is this crown given.
Not so difficult, you say? Perhaps not, but in the present apostasy from the faith in high places within the professing church it is no easy warfare to wage the fight for the truth of God as it is in Jesus.
This presupposes the keeping of the faith both in the heart and in the life; the holding to the truth as in Jesus, in spite of all departure from the faith. This finds its root in the heart fully believing in and trusting the Lord Jesus. Only as a life is fully yielded to Him can there be a real true heart-love for the Appearing of Christ. For all such, not for Paul alone, there is laid up a crown of righteousness; to be given by a righteous Judge. Remember that - Paul had not yet received his crown, nor has any believer yet been crowned. All, all awaits the Coming of Christ [and resurrection] and then together in that [millennial] day shall the victorious ones be crowned by the Lord Himself. What a day it will be! What concerns us now, and what demands our patient, thoughtful heart-searching before God is this. Is this true of me? Do I really and truly love His Appearing? Am I so labouring in the work of the Lord and so living for Him that with Paul I too can really say, I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith? Well for me if I can speak thus. This needs heart-searching before the Lord.
Then comes  The Crown of Life, as spoken of in at least two passages. Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love Him (James 1: 12). Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life (Rev. 2: 10).
In noting the setting of the words in James there is some precious truth concerning our being tried and tested. Verse 2 reads thus, My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations. As though one had taken a journey alone, and on the road had met with some companions who were found to be most agreeable and helpful, although at first they were not very agreeable. So the Divinely-sent trials of life are really good companions after all, if we only have the faith to discern them as sent from our God, to accompany us on our walk through this scene. Of course, they often come in unexpected ways and at unlooked for times; and not always dressed as perhaps we would wish them to be. Nevertheless are they good companions; for rightly received and rightly entertained and used they are but the Divine harbingers of crowns just ahead. Might we not then note how to treat them? This is set before us in the verse that follows, Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. And then the Lord says, If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, who giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not, and it shall be given him. We need wisdom as to the source of the trial, and as to its real purpose, also how one can properly apply them. All this has to do with the coming crown that God has promised to the one who thus endures. Of course we can stop the blessing by rebelling against the trial; or by refusing to go to the Lord concerning the matter. So we should miss the precious fullness of blessing, future honour and glory of the crown is just what the Lord would keep us from if possible. So when the trial is ours, He would write good upon it; and tells us to unlock the fullness of blessing by the way in the trial by the key of joy. To this same purpose are the words in Revelation 2: 10. These saints are told of their having to suffer tribulation for ten days; and for some of them it would mean the stake, the arena, the block - death in its most dreadful forms. But faithfulness unto death in the path of the trial and suffering would surely bring the crown of life. Life eternal every believer has in Christ, but these suffering, tried, tempted, pressed ones who are thus walking with the Lord amid the furnace are to be specially distinguished by the Crown of Life.
Lastly, we have  the Crown of Glory as mentioned by the [Holy] Spirit in 1 Peter 5: 1-4. The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed; feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; neither as being lords over Gods heritage, but being ensamples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.
Shall we recur to the Lord
commission to Peter as serving to help us in our study of this precious word
about the Crown of Righteousness? It is recorded in John 21: 15-7, So when they had dined,
Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou Me
more than these? He saith unto Him, Yea,
Lord; Thou knowest that I love Thee. He
saith unto him, Feed My lambs. He saith
to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest
thou Me? He
saith unto Him, Yea, Lord; Thou knowest that I love Thee. He saith unto him, Feed My sheep. He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son
of Jonas, lovest thou Me? Peter was grieved because He said unto him
the third time, Lovest thou Me? And he said unto Him, Lord, Thou knowest all
things; Thou knowest that I love Thee.
Jesus saith unto him, Feed My Sheep (shepherd
My flock). Our Lord had work to be done in the feeding
of the lambs (vs.
15), in the feeding of the sheep (vs. 16), in the shepherding of the flock (vs. 17). But He would not have other than loving
hands and hearts attempt to do any work. Hence the persistent
questioning of Peter. Then as an
under shepherd and elder saint He sends him forth to the work. And when the Chief Shepherd inspires him
through the Holy Spirit to write concerning this work that is to devolve upon
others as he is about to leave the scene, he tells us that the same requisite
of heart love is sought, and the same work is given to be done, feed the flock of God which
is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly;
not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind.
Neither as being lords over Gods heritage, but
ensamples to the flock. None but a
loving regenerate heart full of Divine love (
Inasmuch as this is only for saved people it is of prime importance that we settle the matter of our [eternal] salvation of first importance. This is done solely by faith in Christ. The word is, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved. Please dwell in mind and heart upon the Person who saves and not upon the faith that but makes the vital connection with Christ. When [eternally] saved, then the path is open for the effort of any to win one or all of the crowns promised by the Lord. Nor should any of us be content to sit down satisfied with [initial] salvation merely; or with some attainment of experience or of arriving at some true position, or holding of a creed. On, on, to the goal for the prize. Let not the judgment, seat of Christ proclaim our shame! Rather let it reveal that we have not been running in vain, neither labouring in vain.
‑The Bible Scholar
- GEORGE L. ALRICH.
* * *
A CHRISTIAN MANIFESTO
(This has been issued by a number of leading Evangelical Christians)
Deeply moved by, and increasingly concerned with, the great crisis which our world now faces, and not a little surprised and disquieted that the Church of Christ, as a whole, seems almost silent as to the significance of this crisis in the light of the Word of God, or, gives voice to many plans and programs not revealed in the Word of God, we have been led to compose the following statement, praying that God may use it, in part or in whole - to encourage, quicken and establish fellow believers around the world. We do hereby affirm it to be our personal and mutual conviction:
1. That we are living in an hour confessed by statesmen, scientists, economists and leaders of thought everywhere to be the supreme crisis of mans history, so acute that, for example, Englands greatest poet says the world is at the edge of the abyss; and another at the closing session of the United States Commission for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, April, 1949, said, I am making no political statement when I note the incontestable scientific fact that we live today in the most crucial period of the worlds history. This crisis is world-wide in its extent, intensified by the invention of weapons of frightful destructiveness, and penetrates into the very foundations of thought and principles of conduct, increasing in intensity because of the determination of one super-power, atheistic and materialistic, to rule the world.
2. That such an hour as this in which we are living was long ago foreseen in the Holy Scriptures by the prophets of the Old Testament, by our Lord in His Olivet discourse, by the apostles as uttered in their speeches and letters and, with great detail, in the closing book of the New Testament, the Apocalypse. Because such predictions are therein made to relate to that period of time known generally as the end of the age, when the second advent of our Lord Jesus Christ will take place, we believe that unless the powerful forces now sweeping our civilization on to an hour of awful catastrophe are, by the hand of God, for a time arrested, the end of this age and the return of Christ are near at hand.
3. That the establishment of Israel as an independent nation, May, 1948, by which, for the first time in over 2,500 years she now enjoys complete freedom from all external sovereignties, accompanied by the entrance into Palestine since the beginning of our century of over 1,000,000 Jews, is certainly of vast significance in the partial fulfilment of many prophecies concerning Israel in the last day. Her present occupation of the outskirts of Jerusalem, and her growing insistence that she must be allowed to occupy and rule from that city, would surely seem to indicate the possible near fulfilment of our Lords prophecy Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled (Luke 21: 24).
4. That the return of Christ, as the New Testament often affirms, is the only hope for this world; that when He comes, all who are His will then be clothed in resurrection bodies, incorruptible and glorious, dwelling with Him forever in joy and holiness; that His return and no other event will bring an end to all war; that at His return, peace, justice and righteousness will prevail, when all enemies will be under His feet, for according to His promise, we look for new heavens and a new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness (2 Pet. 3: 13).
5. That in the whole history of the Christian Church, this seems to be the supreme hour when every follower of Christ should anew dedicate himself to a fresh study of the Holy Scriptures, that we might remember the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Saviour through the apostles (2 Pet. 3: 2; Luke 24: 25). We are encouraged to undertake such a renewed study of the Scriptures at this particular time: (1) that we may know the meaning of what is taking place in this world crisis, the events of which can but fulfil the Word of God (Rev. 17: 17); (2) that we may not ourselves be deceived by the increasing delusions, deceptions and false teachings predicted for the last days; (3) that we may be delivered from the evil, brutality, pride and selfishness which will more and more characterize unregenerate humanity (compare 2 Tim. 3: 13-17 with 3: 1-13); (4) because of the confusion which seems to prevail among so many of Gods children regarding prophetic truth; (5) because we may expect, as we draw near to the end of this age, that the Spirit of God will let increasing light shine upon the pages of His Holy Word.
6. That the Church, which has in large part grown strangely silent regarding the great truths of the prophetic Scriptures and the second advent of our Lord, particularly in the last three decades, in spite of the fact that the unbelieving world refers to this time as apocalyptic, should unitedly return to. a Spirit-controlled, Scripture-guided proclamation of the blessed hope, the coming again of our Lord Jesus Christ. This should be done that in this day by such preaching, as many in the Apostle Pauls day from such preaching, many may turn unto God from idols to serve a living and true God, and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus, who delivered us from the wrath to come (1 Thess. 1: 9, 10), daily praying the last prayer of the inspired records, and the prayer of every generation since, Come, Lord Jesus (Rev. 22: 20).
7. That all who love the Lord Jesus should, with new fervour pray for, sacrificially support and actively participate in, every effort now being made to bring men to confess Jesus Christ as their Saviour: the regular preaching services of the church, missionary activity which honours the Gospel, radio preaching which centres in Christ, revivals in which the Holy Spirit reaches great masses of people, personal testimony and worthy literature warning every man to flee from the wrath to come. This must be done knowing that God hath appointed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained, even Jesus whom he raised from the dead (Acts 17: 30, 31), convinced that those who do not believe are eternally condemned and realizing that doors are fast closing in many areas against the true preaching of the Gospel.
8. That in this hour (1) when the concepts involved in dialectical materialism embrace millions of new adherents every year through the enforced teachings of communistic societies, (2) when naturalism and humanism, uncompromising enemies of the Christian faith, predominate in most of our universities, (3) when increasing preoccupation with the pursuit of science is drawing so many of our best manhood into an attitude of indifference to Christ and His salvation, (4) when each recent decade finds the Western world knowing less and less of the Word of God (the recent decision of our own Supreme Court giving encouragement to this ignorance) and (5) when there is every reason to expect new and more powerful attacks to be launched against the Christian faith, we believe Christian ministers everywhere should more earnestly than ever engage in the defence and confirmation of the faith (Phil. 1: 7, 16).
We believe that there should be undertaken in every church where the Gospel is preached, classes for the intensive training of young Christians, that they might be as thoroughly equipped in giving reasons for the hope that is in them (1 Pet. 3: 15) for the great battle which now draws near between the falsehoods of the evil one and the truth as it is in Christ, as the young men and women of Russia are being prepared to engage in the promotion of atheism.
We believe that those to whom God has given gifts for such work should seek to unite their efforts in the production of trenchant, Christ-centred Bible-interpreting literature, explaining simply the plan of salvation and showing the reasonableness of our faith, which can be widely distributed among those millions who today know not that Christ died for their sins.
9. That, finally, because we are members of Christs body, indwelt by the same Spirit, acknowledging the same Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, we should walk worthy of the calling wherewith we were called, with all lowliness and meekness, with long suffering, forbearing one another in love, giving diligence to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace, refraining from speaking one against another (James 4), being all likeminded, compassionate, loving as brethren, tender-hearted, humble-minded (1 Pet. 3: 8) and thus labourers sent forth by the Lord of the harvest (Matt. 9: 38).
‑The Christian Fundamentalist.
* * *
[* NOTE. This tract has been edited.]
The translation of the saints will be an event so stupendous and so alarming that the whole world will be in a panic. No merely human being will be able to cope with the terror and confusion that shall then arise. But Satans man, the antichrist, will assume dictatorial power over the earth: He will have supreme control over the nations for three and a half years (Rev. 13: 5-8).
The disappearance of so many people from the earth will be such a mystery that it will be the chief topic of conversation and investigation. So suddenly and so mysteriously shall His chosen ones* vanish from the earth, that consternation shall seize the hearts of men. Out of the store and office some have vanished; out of the home some have gone; out of the field, out of the factory, out of every church and out of every school; in fact out of every city and countryside; out of every nation and village the world over, some have so quickly and so mysteriously disappeared.
* NOTE. To disregard the divinely stated conditions for rapture before the Great tribulation (Luke 21: 34-36; Rev. 3: 10), is to bury ones head in the sand! It has been rightly said: While Judgment will be very much in evidence during the Great Tribulation, and even during the Millennium, Grace will not be absent.
On the other hand, after the thousand years, when Hades is emptied, and all the remaining souls of the dead are resurrected - (by being reunited to immortal, glorified bodies from the grave) - we find a book of life opened: and those whose names are not found written in the Book of Life are cast into the lake of fire the eternal state and place of eternally lost resurrected and immortal souls. To suggest that those who names will be found written in the book of Life are not saved individuals, shows a prejudice toward the plain statement of Holy Scripture which can also be described as a deliberate burying of ones head in sand! A wilful closing the mind and understanding of the truth in this portion of Gods Holy Word!
Preachers are left behind who failed to warn the people, regenerate believers are left who become careless and prayerless. Husbands are left and wives taken, wives are left and husbands taken, parents are left and children taken, children are left and parents taken. Dear regenerate and unregenerate believer: Will you be among the left ones? Well, the Bible is full of warnings and entreaties to be ready. How often Jesus stressed the need of preparing for His coming. If every regenerate person will be ready then His emphasis on preparation becomes meaningless. His warnings and exhortations were addressed to His redeemed people. Eternal life and salvation is free, it is a free gift, but the right to escape the Great Tribulation will depend on our obedience to His repeated entreaties and warnings.
It is very clear by the illumination of the Holy Spirit that, when Jesus says lest coming suddenly He find you sleeping. He is referring to regenerate, not nominal Christians who will be left behind; and also when He says The one shall be taken, and the other left: the left ones will be careless, disobedient and lethargic Christians who are not ready. Everybody knows that unsaved people will not be caught up to heaven. His warning here is clearly to His own redeemed people, many of whom will be left behind: many are now being called few will then be amongst those chosen!
It would violate scripture to say that every saved person is an overcomer. In 1 Cor. 3: 15 we see a man who is saved as by fire, but loses his reward. His works are burned up How could he be rated as an overcomer? The thief on the cross before his conversion, could not be classed with overcomers. Jesus said To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my Throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in His Throne (Rev. 3: 21). Only trustworthy saints will qualify for rulership in the coming millennial kingdom; no backslider (spiritual weakling) or deceived saint, - blinded by Satan to the manifested glory of God in the age to come - could meet the requirements of the throne. 2 Cor. 4: 4; Luke 20: 35.
The last book of the Bible reveals how the Lord deals with various groups of Gentiles and Jewish saints. It is Gods own classification based on their rating in the Kingdom. He shows in Rev. 4: 4 the crowned elders sitting on thrones up in heaven before the tribulation plagues begin. And then tells us who they are in Rev. 5: 9, 10. The elders say to Jesus Thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by the blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation: and hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth. They are Gentile saints from every tongue and nation. Then we see in 7: 13 a great company, that cannot be numbered who have come up out of great tribulation, standing before the throne with palms in their hands. Both are Gentile saints. One group reached heaven before the tribulation began. The latter company is much larger as they cannot be numbered. Yes, more of the saints will reach heaven out of the tribulation than those who are caught up in the first rapture, (Rev. 3: 10; Luke 21: 36).
Let us be glad and rejoice: ... for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and His wife has made herself ready (19: 7). Many saved people give no thought to preparation for this wedding, but here it says that it is the responsibility of the bride to make herself ready. It is an individual responsibility, which should not be neglected. The bride will purify herself even as He is pure in anticipation of that glorious wedding. In the next verse we read, Blessed are they that are called (invited) to the marriage. The bride selected from redeemed family members, (Gen. ch. 24) - never has to be invited. Who then will be invited? Other redeemed saints who are friends of the bride.
In 1 Th. 4: 16, we see that the saints in the grave will rise and be caught up with the living saints. There are companies and ranks in resurrection just as there will be companies and ranks among those living when Jesus comes. Those - (whose souls are in Hades and whose bodies are in the grave) - who were in the ready company will rise first, others will be resurrected later. In 1 Cor. 15: 22 we read, As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive, but every man in his own order. Each group will rise in its own order and rank. They will come up in an orderly and majestic manner, rank upon rank, as the regimented brigades of a vast army. How do we know? Because God always does everything in an orderly and majestic manner. In l Cor.15: 41, 42 we read, There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory: so also is the resurrection of the dead. The first rank to rise will shine like the sun, the second rank like the moon, the third rank like the stars of the first magnitude, and the remaining ranks like the stars of lesser magnitudes.
To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches: (Rev. 3: 21, 22, NIV).
* * *
WILL SOULS BE SAVED
DURING THE GREAT TIBULATION?
D. M. RUSSELL-JONES
In this article we come to what is the burning problem among many Christians. Will souls be saved after the Church* has gone? Many earnest believers, while yearning to see the Lord coming, long to see their loved ones saved before that great event takes place. They are under the impression that after the Advent of Christ no further opportunities will be given to men and women to get saved. Our task is to reveal how unscriptural is this attitude.
[* That is, after those able to escape (Luke 21: 36, NIV) are removed.]
The Word of God provides us with a wonderful revelation of Gods passion for the souls of men. Consider the outburst recorded in Ezekiel 33: 11: As I live saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live; turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel? His passion is not a mere thing of words, but of action. In the Cross of Calvary we see the length God is prepared to go to save sinful man, God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son. We must avoid bringing Gods great passion down to the level of our own puny, parochial [i.e., restricted and confined narrow limits], and selfish affection.
It is thought in some quarters that souls cannot be saved after the Church has been raptured to glory. Those who advocate this view base their belief on the following grounds:
1. It offers a second chance.
2. The Age of Grace closes with the Rapture.
3. The Holy Spirit has been withdrawn.
Each one of these reasons is fallacious, revealing a shallow knowledge of Gods word and an inadequate conception of the mighty Love of God. The Word clearly reveals that souls will be saved during the Great Tribulation, as well as during the Millennial reign of Christ.
This does not mean that a second chance is given to men and women after the [accounted worthy members of the] Church has gone. The Bible gives us no warrant for believing that there will be a second chance after death; when a soul enters Eternity, then its destiny is fixed forever - [i.e., in the lake of fire]. But while men are alive they may have many opportunities of responding to the Gospel invitation. Even after [some members of] the Church has gone there will be many opportunities given to men to get saved.
All souls who are saved are saved by Grace. Even in the previous ages, men were saved by grace alone. There will not be one soul in Eternity saved by his own merits. The matchless grace of God will be the theme song of all the redeemed. While Judgment will be very much in evidence during the Great Tribulation, and even during the Millennium, Grace will not be absent. It is perfectly true that Rev. 4, 5 tells us that out of the Throne proceeded lightnings and thunderings, and voices: let us never forget that there was a rainbow round about the Throne. Grace is there! On the other hand, there is no rainbow around the Great White Throne, in Revelation 20: 11-15. That is the Throne of Judgment - [i.e., after all in Hades are resurrected, (Rev. 20: 13)].
As for the Holy Spirit completely withdrawing His saving influence from the world after [watchful members of] the Church has gone, we are unable to find any evidence of this in the Word of God. We shall have more to say of this later.
1. The Channels of Salvation during the Tribulation
(1) The Effect of the Rapture
It is impossible to estimate the impact of the Rapture on the lives of the relatives of those who have been caught up. Think of the unsaved children who find their parents have gone! Such an event will undoubtedly drive them to their knees before God. Let us forget for the moment the many interpretations we have on the parable of the Ten Virgins, this fact is obvious; when the five wise virgins were admitted into the banquet it roused within the hearts of the five foolish virgins a passionate desire to enter as well. We are firmly convinced that the rapture of the Church will be used of God to the salvation of multitudes.
(2) The Power of the Word
Even in these days we have known of individuals who have been led to Christ simply through the reading of the Scriptures. Although the Church will have been caught up, there will be numerous Bibles left on the earth. No doubt the Antichrist will endeavour to destroy the Scriptures, but he will never succeed. There can be no shadow of doubt that the remarkable events of that period will drive many to read the Word to the salvation of their souls.
(3) The Impact of Divine Judgments
period under discussion will be a time when Gods judgments will be
abroad. The world will know that these
judgments are coming from God, just as the Egyptians did when Moses brought the
[* NOTE. Eternal conditions of the lost in the lake of fire can hardly be described as conditions to be hereafter!]
(4) The Testimony of the Two Witnesses
God will not be without His messengers during this period. Foremost among them will be the two witnesses mentioned in Revelation 11. The Antichrist will not have it all his own way, the powerful preaching of these two men, backed by remarkable signs and wonders, will win many to God. Furthermore, it is quite obvious that the Commission given in Matthew 10, will be finally fulfilled during this very period. At last the Antichrist will appear to win the day, the two witnesses will be slain, but after three and a half days, they will be resurrected and raptured in the sight of the inhabitants of Jerusalem; this will cause multitudes to give glory to the God of Heaven.
(5) The Ministry of the Holy Spirit
May we again point out that the Holy Spirit has been convicting and converting all down through the ages. The Antedeluvians were able to resist His efforts to save, Gen. 6: 3. Even the Children of Israel rebelled and vexed His Holy Spirit (Isaiah 63: 10). When the Church age began it also saw the commencement of a new and unique ministry, He now indwells, and is able to anoint every [obedient] believer. When this age draws to a close, this unique ministry to the Church will come to an end, but the task of saving souls will go on. If we grant that souls will be saved during the Great Tribulation, then we must concede the fact that that work must be done by the Holy Spirit, for He alone has the power to regenerate man. To say that the Holy Spirit withdraws His Presence from the earth, is to make a statement that finds no foundation in the Scriptures.* His peculiar work in and upon the Church comes to an end, but He will still be here to win souls.
[* NOTE. Many believe, the one who now holds back (2 Thess. 2: 7, NIV), is not a reference to the Holy Spirit, but to an Angel placed by God in authority over all the disembodied souls of the dead in the underworld of Hades, (Matt. 16: 18). It is a dangerous practice to read into Gods inspired words something which has not been said; and yet multitudes of regenerate believers point to this text and claim the one restraining is the Holy Spirit: but this is not stated in the text and we are warned not to go beyond what is written.]
(6) The Effect of Persecution
persecution has never succeeded in crushing the Truth,
it only purifies the believer, and causes the Message to spread. When we turn to the Book of Acts we find that
the opposition of the Jews failed completely to prevent the growth of the
We have briefly referred to the possible channels of salvation during the Great Tribulation. Will these methods be successful? Let Rev. 7: 14-15 and 14: 1-4 supply us with the answer. John saw a tremendous company of people in heaven, he could not identify them. The Elder informed him thus These are they which came out of Great Tribulation, and have washed their robes and made them white in the Blood of the Lamb. In Chapter 14, he sees another Company, but they are the Firstfruits from the Jewish Nation. When a Jew is saved today, he becomes a Christian, but when a Jew gets saved during the Great Tribulation, he will not become a member of the Church,* for the Church has gone, he will be the firstfruits of that Nation, the remainder of which will turn to the Lord when they shall see Him Return in Glory.
[* On the contrary, if the Church
consists of all the saved from all ages, then those of the out-calling - the Church - from the world by the Holy
Spirit are true, regenerate members of that church of God. But it should be noted, that the Church of the firstborn, (Heb. 12: 23), would appear to consist of those
inheritance rights. That is, an
inheritance in the millennial
2. The Cost of Salvation during the Great Tribulation
While souls will be saved during this period, nevertheless they will sustain a great loss. We must urge men and women to yield now. Many are reluctant to yield to Christ now, but it will cost them infinitely more when the Church has gone. We can only mention three reasons why it is best to yield to Christ now.
(1) Diabolical Atmosphere
Churches will be closed. Sundays will be completely discarded. Evangelistic campaigns will be prohibited. The Antichrist will introduce all kinds of laws to make it difficult for true believers to meet for worship.
(2) Definite Loss
will be saved, but they will lose the great opportunity of being linked to the
Church. Have we taken into full
consideration the full implication of Christs commendation of John? Verily I say unto
you, Among them that are born of women there hath not
risen a greater than John the Baptist, notwithstanding he that is the least in
[* Refusal to yield to Christ during the Great Tribulation, will most certainly lead to a short life and defeat under Antichrists short reign here; but, those who yield to Christ, will win the martyrs crown here after the First Resurrection.]
(3) Difficult Choice
Please read carefully Rev. 13: 15-17, and 14: 9-13. There will be no middle choice, no compromise; to become a believer may cost life itself. How much easier it is to accept Christ today! There will be no hypocrites when Antichrist reigns. Those who are unsaved, we would urge them to take Christ as Saviour now. May the Lord stir up His Church to true evangelism.
‑The Midnight Cry.
* * *
PRECIOUS IN HIS SIGHT
By RICHARD A. BELSHAM
Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints - Psalm 116: 15
In opening the Scriptures of truth, the inspired word of the living God, and reading their statements concerning persons, things, and happenings, we are confronted with the fact that the prophet Isaiah so definitely declared: For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. It is well then for us to look carefully at things and happenings as God looks at them, and to think of them as God thinks of them. In the light of this it is good for us to ponder the words of the text above, not easy at first to take them in as the ordinary mind would comprehend them. They tell us that the death of His saints, whatever that may mean to us who suffer the loss of them here below, is precious in His sight. There must be some real reason for this; let us seek to discover it for our good and satisfaction.
The opening word Precious means Valuable, dear, much set by, greatly esteemed. And this applies to His saints. Their death is precious because they are precious, as those who have been bought with precious blood, saved through precious faith, blest with a precious Saviour, and sustained with precious promises. Their saintship, or separation unto God from all that is contrary to the will of God, has brought them into such close relationship to God as to mark them out among their fellow men as belonging to Him - His people. Know ye that the Lord hath set apart him that is godly for Himself; and that The Lords portion is His people; His inheritance in the saints. And they are Precious in His sight because of seven things mentioned in His infallible word of truth. Consider then:-
1. The Price paid for them. Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. What! know ye not that your bodies are the temple of the Holy Ghost? and that ye are bought with a price, even the blood of Jesus Christ. And you are a member of the Church which He has purchased with His own blood. What a price! You can, in the light of that fact understand how valuable, dear, much set by, and greatly esteemed they are. How delighted and overflowing with gratitude we ought to be! Praise Him!
Presence abiding with them. An
holy temple in the Lord: in Whom ye are builded together for an habitation of
God through the Spirit. As God hath said: I will dwell in them, and
walk in them, and they shall be My people, and I will
be their God. The Christians at
3. The Privileges extended to them. They have access to Himself at all times, seeing the holiest of all is ever open to them, and the welcome to come boldly to the throne of grace is theirs unceasingly. They also have fellowship with the Father and with the Son, and are truly one with them. They have the inestimable privilege to use the name of Jesus in their approach to the Father: Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in My name, He will give it you. Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full. This is an abiding blessing throughout life for His saints, and they who take the fullest advantage of it are those who enjoy the privilege; for even after death their asking often finds a belated answer. Praise His name!
4. The Protection exercised over them. The eternal God is thy refuge; and underneath are the everlasting arms. The Lord shall preserve thee from all evil; He shall preserve thy soul. The Lord shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore. He shall give His angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. His presence is salvation - salvation from all evil and harm, as well as from all the power of the enemy. He is our shield and buckler - our sure defence.
Provision made for them. My God shall supply all your
need, according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. He has provided
for their present and eternal salvation through the one sacrifice of
6. The Purpose revealed for them. And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose. And that follows; His purpose is clearly stated: For whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. What a future! Sinless, immortal, glorified; to be companions with the glorified One. No wonder they are precious in His sight when death is the prelude to it all, to be perfected at His coming. For our citizenship is in heaven, from whence we look for the Saviour, our Lord Jesus Christ; Who shall change our vile body (the body of the fall) and make it like unto His own glorious body (the body of His glory) according to the working whereby He is able to subdue all things unto Himself.
Place prepared for them. Let not your hearts be troubled; ye believe in God, believe
also in Me. In
My Fathers house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you (obtain the right for you to be there). And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto Myself;
that where I am ye may be also.
Yes, the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with
the voice of the
With all these seven things we are well enabled to see that His saints, even in death, whenever it comes, are precious in His sight. For though absent from the body, they are present [in Sheol / Hades, (Psa. 139: 8b] with the Lord awaiting the moment of re-union with the loved ones left behind for a little longer. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.
‑The Evangelical Christian.
* * *
THE FIRST LAST AND THE LAST FIRST
(Reprinted by request).
A momentous principle uttered by no one but our Lord there are last that shall be first, and there are first that shall be last (Luke 13: 29) - is embodied for ever in Esau and Jacob, the two patriarchs who are set and studied incarnation of interchange of destiny. For God had foretold the interchange ninety years before their birth (Gen. 25: 23); they were born twins and, in the very act of birth Jacob sought to supplant Esau by a grip on the heel; the interplay of their later life fills a large part of the Old Testament drama; the birthright - a Throne: let nations bow down to thee (Gen. 27: 29) - was the shifting prize; and Esau, to whom it belonged, lost it, and Jacob, whose it was not, gains it. This is the concrete example for all time of a dramatic interchange of position - the first last, and the last first - possible, and perhaps frequent, among the children of God [today]; and what reinforces our Lords words with tremendous emphasis is that the Holy Spirit applies the type, and on its dark and dangerous side, to Christian believers. Look carefully, He says, lest there be anyone [among you] that falleth short of the grace of God; lest there be any fornicator or profane person, as Esau, who for one mess of meat sold his own birthright (Heb. 11: 15). All down the ages, and in every camp of the saints, Esau and Jacob reappear, and will to the end of time.
Now we have the Holy Spirits own analysis of Esau: a profane person, as Esau. Bluff, generous, impulsive, daring; an athlete, living in the open; a man of quick emotions and strong passions: Esau had a large and loveable character; and, as the eldest son of the sole God-chosen family on earth, what a primacy was his! But the Holy Spirit says he was profane - unhallowed, unsanctified, defiled, polluted, common. In the crisis of his life his inferiority, his un-sanctity, sprang to light. For one mess of meat he sold his own birthright. With tremendous irony and perfect truthfulness all earths transient passions are catalogued under a mess of meat. It is the bartering, for present passion, of future glory: it is mortgaging the [Millennial] Kingdom for worldly gain: it is counting Gods conditional promises cheap Esau despised his birthright (Gen. 25: 34) - and present advantage dear. Esau disobeyed his wisest descendants law: Buy the truth, and sell it not (Prov. 23: 23).
Both Esau and
Jacob awake at last; but Esau wakes only after the Prize is irrevocably forfeited.
cried with an exceeding great and bitter cry, Bless
me, even me also, O my father (Gen. 27: 34).
was the bitter cry of Mirabeau:
- If I had not degraded my life by sensuality, and my
youth by evil passion, I might have saved
Now therefore the
Lords principle, namely, the first slipping back last - comes into operation. The moment comes when an oath of God makes the
forfeiture irrevocable. Millions of
Christians have sung, every Sunday for centuries, the actual warning words which
the Spirit applies (Heb. 3: 11) to
Now we turn to the other twin in the great race. All down the years Jacob - the word means supplanter - has seen visions, but never lived them: the most defective of all Bible saints, he is the man whose unsanctified subtlety amounts to craft: now, in the last lap, when ninety-seven years of age, we find him the only character in the Bible a suddenly complete victor in his sunset. For Jacob had originally bought what Esau sold: that is, all his life, faultful and stumbling though it was, he coveted Gods highest, he acted on the prophecies, and never lost the heavenly vision: exactly reversing the action of Esau, he barters earthly passion for coming royalty, and sacrifices the body to the spirit, the present to the future, time to eternity.
Jacob is the embodiment of all the wrestlers who through the midnight of this dark Age reach the dawn, and supremely of racers who started badly. Through the midnight at Peniel he wrestles until the dawn, with tears (Hos. 12: 4), a soul suddenly and forever awake. The literal in a type is the spiritual in the antitype: the clenched fist, the taut muscle, the ceaseless vigilance, the unyielding grip - it is not only strength, but concentration; not only concentration, but intensity; not only intensity, but endurance. [Eternal] Salvation is received by resting, not wrestling: the Prize is won by wrestling, not resting. It is holy tenacity (obstinacy, resolution, retentiveness) of purpose, dogged refusal to be beaten, quick recovery when knocked out. Gods tremendous earnestness - the wrestling Angel - must be matched by an earnestness as tremendous by all who would be Godlike and God-crowned.
Parabolically we are next shown what invariably follows the great awakening and the complete consecration. And when the angel saw that he prevailed not against him - that no block, no barrier, not even the guillotine or wild beasts in the Colosseum, could throw the wrestler he touched the hollow of his thigh -he shrivelled the sciatic nerve: and Jacob halted upon his thigh - carried for ever the withering touch. God asks of His victors not medals or ribbons, but scars. I bear in my body, says Paul, Christs stigmata, the weals of the floggings. Exactly as Esaus sin pampers the body, so Jacobs devotion withers it. As rocks are scarred and grooved with the convulsions of long ago, so the saint carries the wounds of a lifetime of holiness: it is better, says the Saviour, to enter into life halt, like Jacob, rather than having two feet to be cast into Gehenna (Mark 9: 45). Both Esau and Jacob had seen the vision: the one, clutching at earthly pride and power, sells his glory; the other, wrestling through the midnight, reaches the Dawn, (Gen. 32: 31).
So now the Jehovah
Angel sets His seal on the victorious wrestler.
said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob supplanter,
layer of snares; for the old insanctity has died in
the midnight wrestle but
All down the ages
it is an ever repeated story. The Cardinal of Lorraine, Charles de Guise, First Peer of France,
and Pierre Ramas,
a fellow-student whom he loved, so exchanged destinies. Among all the favours you have heaped upon me, Ramus writes to the Cardinal, telling his fidele et devoue protecteur that he must cast in his lot with the
Huguenots, there is one I shall ever remember, and
that is your saying at Poissy that of the fifteen
centuries since Christ the first was truly the age of gold, while the others
became poorer and more worthless in proportion as they receded. When the time came for me to make my choice, I
chose the golden age. The
first orator of his age, with princely gifts to use of God or to sacrifice for
Christ, the Cardinal goes to