DAWN SELECTION VOLUME 17
THE JEW AND
non-Christian observer watching the agony of the Jew has some very difficult
questions to answer, such as these.
Remembering how God used to avenge every insult offered to
are met at once by one tremendous fact as plain as history can make it. It all dates
from Calvary. And a fact no less decisive is that at Calvary
the great stumbling-block to the Jew is the blood atonement of
now the sharp clash explains itself. Two
thousand years of judgment are exactly balanced by two thousand years of
passionate refusal of
So the agony of the Jew is solved. “We preach a crucified Messiah, to the Jews a stumbling-block” (1 Cor. 1: 23). The Jew has accepted no less than twenty-four Messiahs, all of whom have turned out either impostors or else self-deluded fanatics. Can a nation which has made the gigantic mistake of accepting twenty-four false Messiahs be infallible in rejecting the twenty-fifth? What accentuates the crime, and explains the agony, is that all these Messiahs have appeared since Christ, except Judas of Galilee, who was a contemporary of our Lord; the last in 1872. It has been a studied rejection and acceptance.
for all the Incarnate Son of God died to redeem man kind, and thereafter death
had no more dominion over Him. To make Good Friday commemorate only the brutal
ending of a holy life would be to debase it immeasurably. Many saints have ennobled history, yet none
was sinless; many martyrs have surrendered their lives, yet none by dying could
win forgiveness and eternal hope for the guilty human race. To turn to the Cross is to look upon an
example of perfect holiness, the greatest of teachers, the bravest and most patient of sufferers.
Yet something more, something wholly different, is needed by men and
women crushingly burdened by the weight of sin, their own and the world’s, by feelings of remorse, and impotence, and what has
seemed like vain desire. A pattern of
goodness, a teacher of wisdom, is welcome enough; yet no one less than the
Divine Saviour can satisfy a soul when once it has become conscious of its
ultimate need. Those therefore who in
spirit turn to
- The Times, March 21, 1940.
* * *
THE MUSTARD TREE
By D. M. PANTON, B.A.
Lord felt acutely the difficulty of finding in nature a parallel to what was to
happen to the
* The invariable exposition of the parable - the conversion of the world by Christian principles - contradicts all our Lord’s own unparabolic teaching, and makes any difficulty in finding a simile absurd. Any seed and any tree would be sufficient. The legitimate expansion of the Seed has already (immediately preceding, Mark 4: 26) had a parable devoted to it. Moreover, our Lord had said (Matt. 13: 35) that He was about to reveal “things hidden from the foundation of the world”. Messiah’s coming universal Reign over all the earth was no secret: on the contrary, the absorption of literal world-empire springing from the Gospel He first - then history - revealed.
first decisive factor, the key to the lock, is the symbol which the Holy Spirit
makes throughout Scripture of Trees. The
Holy Spirit’s utterances and Christ’s are one; and a tree is,
throughout, the symbol of a Kingdom: earth is over-shaded by the
forest of the kingdoms of the world. In
the Book of Judges (9: 8) we have the Fig, the Olive, the Cedar, and the
Bramble, all explained as kingdoms. “The trees went forth on a
time, to anoint a king over them; and they said unto the olive tree” –
if kingdoms are trees, the seeds of the tree are manifestly the germinal
principles, the hidden roots, out of which a kingdom grows; and these, in the
kingdoms of the world, may be expressed as wealth, population, power and glory
- the root facts which alone make powerful nations. Finance creates armaments; armaments are vast
according to population; population creates power; and power - in wealth, arms,
population - crowns a nation with glory.
These bedrock principles of national power can be righteously used in
God-blessed nations, such as in
Next, the Lord, to show the germinal principles of the Church of God - principles He Himself had sown - takes, as it were, mustard seed in his hand: “which, when it is sown upon the earth, [is] less than all the seeds that are upon the earth” (Mark 4: 31): that is, the principles at the root of the Church are tiny, powdered ash as compared with the principles on which the nations are built. Instead of riches, poverty - “Woe unto you that are rich, for ye have received your consolation” (Luke 6: 24): instead of numbers, paucity - “Few be they that find it” (Matt. 7: 14): instead of power, harmlessness - “Resist not him that is evil” (Matt. 5: 39): instead of glory, humility - “Whosoever would become great among you shall be your servant” (Matt. 20: 26). No monarch or statesman ever dreamed of founding a kingdom on principles so humbling and self-denying on every point of human greatness as did our Lord; and from such mustard-seed nothing could normally grow but the tiniest of herbs.
THE MUSTARD TREE
But now what has historically happened? Exactly what our Lord foresaw. “Yet, when it is sown, it groweth up, and becometh greater than all the herbs” (Mark 4: 32), “and became a tree” (Luke 13: 19). It went in minute; it comes out gigantic: it has sucked out of the earth - that is, the world - a greatness not belonging to it: it has broken the law of its growth, and the pot-plant, or shrub, has become a forest giant.* Out of the powdered mustard-seed, says a traveller in Palestine, Dr. Thomson, “I have seen, in the Plain of Acre, a mustard tree as tall as a horse and its rider.”
* “The seed of the moss is microscopic; so is the plant that springs from it” (Govett).
THE ROMAN CHURCH*
[* We would be justified in applying some of what here follows to a large section of today’s apostate PROTESTANT church also!]
we see history’s startling confirmation of the parable. The Church, sown of God to be a lovely but
despised shrub, expands, consciously and purposely, into a forest monarch. Take point by point. (1) Wealth. Up to the
date of the War, the annual income of the
detail still more closely photographs the facts. “It becometh greater than all the herbs, and putteth out great branches”
32). Great Sacerdotal and
The final phase, consequent on the tree’s full growth, completes the picture. The Church develops into a spiritual empire so magnificent, so worldly, as to become a lodging place for the sower’s deadliest enemies: “so that the birds of the heaven can lodge under the shadow thereof”. Our Lord reveals that the ‘birds’, which He had just described (Mark 4: 15) as evil spirits, are thieves of the seed, which (He says) is the Word of God: birds, not always visible or audible within a tree’s leafage, especially when lodging there at night, but secretly watching to remove the seed - the Scriptures of God.
THE ROMAN TRUNK
One of the most amazing admissions ever made in the history of controversy is that of Father Hugh Benson, the son of an Archbishop of Canterbury who became a Roman priest, in which he identifies Roman ‘miracles’ with Spiritualism. He says:- “It would be possible to multiply parallels [between Roman Catholicism and Spiritualism] almost indefinitely. Communications made at a distance by other than physical means; phantasms of the living (called by the Church ‘bi-location’) and the dead; faith-healing; the psychical effect of monotonous repetition; the value of what the Church calls ‘sacramentals’; that is, of suggestive articles (such as water) in which there is no intrinsic value; the levitation of heavy bodies [as the known and recorded ‘spirit levitations’ of St. Theresa and Ignatius Loyola]; even the capacity of inanimate objects to retain a kind of emotional or spiritual aroma of the person who was once in relation to them, as in the case of relics” (Atlantic Monthly, Aug., 1910). So also here is an actual spirit communication, confirming the identity from the side of the Spiritualists:- “What is every celebration of the Mass but a materializing séance carried to the highest Spiritualistic point? And what is the teaching of the Church as to the invocation of all Saints but Spiritualism pure and simple?” - (Contemporary Review, Oct., 1910).
THE ANGLICAN BRANCH
A still more startling development, nearer home, reveals the birds twittering even in the Branches. As far back as Feb. 10, 1916 The Guardian, after a careful defence of intercourse with the dead, wrote:- “Men and women all over the country have been made more certain of the fact that their dead are speaking to them than they are of their own existence. It behoves us not to be content with ‘warning’ them, out of our ignorance, of ‘grave dangers’ which we have imagined for them, but to find out the grounds of their conversion.” But a far graver portent is now here. Three years ago, on the suggestion of the Archbishop of York, a Committee was appointed by the Archbishops to investigate and report on Spiritualism. The result was reached a year ago, and it has been communicated to the Bishops, but so far it has been withheld from publication: a majority report of 7 to 3 endorses Spiritualism, and among the signatures in favour of Spiritualism are the Bishop of Bath and Wells, Dr. Matthews, Dean of St. Paul’s, and Canon Anson, Master of the Temple. It is little wonder that Psychic News (Mar. 9, 1940), the world’s most widely circulated Spiritualist paper, acclaims it “Spiritualism’s great triumph”, and says (Mar. 23, 1940):- “The majority has decided that Spiritualism has proved communication with the dead, and suggest a closer working between the Church and Spiritualism.” Thus the Church of England, if we assume (as the majority report does), that Spiritualism is intercourse with the dead and not with demons, is on the verge of officially endorsing Necromancy, of which Jehovah says,- “WHOSOEVER DOETH THESE THINGS IS AN ABOMINATION UNTO THE LORD” (Deut. 18: 12).*
* In 1920 the Church of Scotland appointed a Committee to investigate Spiritualism which reported two years later. In the words of Dr. Norman Maclean, an ex-Moderator:- “The Church decided that psychical research was not contrary to the teachings of the Christian faith, and that members of the Church were not forbidden to exercise their minds in this field.”
The Baptist Union of Great Britain and Ireland is the first Christian group to support, officially, the coming World-Empire, in the teeth of prophecy. Its Council says:- “There must be an international organization enjoying the support of peoples as well as governments. To ensure this, some surrender of national sovereignty is indispensable. Such an organization must not be regarded as a mere experiment, but as a necessary expression of permanent human relations. The international body must have its appropriate organs, including courts of law and equity and an adequate force to ensure respect of decisions. The exercise of force should be limited to action taken by or with the approval of the international body.”
It is deeply gratifying to note
the rousing shock of current events. Professor Karl Barth
has just written:- “Even if human calculation gave a
hundred per cent, certainty, we as Christians have to remind ourselves that
there are such things as ‘miracles of the antichrist’,
absolutely unexpected and astonishing achievements of the ‘beast out of the
abyss’, which God has His own grounds for
permitting, the occurrence of which could for the time being bring to naught
all the calculations, not only of the ‘rational’ portion of mankind but also of
the Church and of Christians, be these calculations never so well-grounded. We do not know whether Hitlerism
is not capable of such a miracle - there is much in its development hitherto
which tends in this direction. Perhaps
the nations of Europe may be destined to resist this enemy in vain, and finally to have to live a life of dishonour under
the rule of undisguised Lie, a life comparable to that of men and Christians in
Nevertheless all things point to the climax; and one certainty is, there are Christians who have never known, or have totally rejected, the Coming of our Lord who will be shocked into faith. It happened in a past generation. Near the end of his life Bishop Gore wrote a review in the International Review of Missions, in which he said that he had been accustomed to hold the view that the world would be gradually converted through the preaching of the gospel. But recent events had caused a profound change in his outlook; large tracts of the world that had been Christian for centuries had become pagan, and the deliverance he looked for, instead of being gradual, would be apocalyptic, through the revelation of God’s Son from heaven.
4 THE RETURN
An Anglo-Catholic Brother Edward thus writes to the Guardian (Feb. 17, 1940):- “May not a good deal of the bewilderment in men’s minds
to-day be due to a mistaken idea of God’s purposes? Have we studied them? From whence comes this
expectation of ‘a better world’, ‘a world won to Christ’, in this present age? Is it not true that from Christ’s own lips we
have a different expectation? Verily
humbly, and conscious that I am going contrary to much modern teaching, I would
suggest that Christ’s charge to His Church was to bear witness to every
nation; further, that He implied that the result of that witness would be that
from every nation some would respond, but the majority would reject,
and that the normal result of Christian witness would be persecution and
martyrdom. Apostasy, tribulation and the
reign of Anti-christ – these were the expectations of
the Apostles and of the
5 THE PRIZE OF OUR CALLING
The problems connected with our Lord’s return become even more thrilling as the event draws nearer; and Mr. Lang, in his usual careful thinking, challenges the current view – an extraordinary example of ‘wishful thinking’ – that all believers, including the grossest backslider, will escape all coming judgments and at once ascend with Christ the throne of the world. It is most difficult to understand how the grave warnings of our Lord and the Apostles, constantly repeated, could have been so ignored, and can still remain so unheeded. The issue at stake is far graver than a mere divergence in exposition: it is the fearfully practical issue of our plunge into Great Tribulation, or our escape; the inconceivable glory of enthronement over the world, possibly only a few years hence, or a lost crown and throne.
Mr. Lang, although there will be differences of judgment on subordinate points, handles the main issue with grace and understanding, and leads us toward the highest. “LET NO MAN TAKE THY CROWN” (Rev 3: 11).
* * *
LET THE JEW EXPLAIN
By FREDERICK ERDMAN, D.D.
1. A Jew should be able to explain why so many of the best Gentiles have chosen for their Saviour, their Messiah, their God, a despised, rejected, and crucified member of a race which the Gentiles themselves have oppressed and persecuted. This is the most incredible and supernatural fact in the world.
2. A Jew should he able to explain, since his own ritual for the Day of Atonement says he has “no mediator…”, where he expects to find one. Would a just God have caused the sacrifice and oblation to cease, if He had not offered his chosen people His Perfect Sacrifice? He did not so treat Abraham.
3. A Jew should be able to explain what hope he can have of the forgiveness of his sins or of God’s acceptance of him, if as the Law demands, sacrifices are required. (“It is the blood that maketh atonement by reason of the soul” - Leviticus, the 3rd Book of Moses, ch. 17: 2). If he thinks that his own meritorious acts or the acts of other Israelites can justify him in the sight of God, how can he find an unblemished life, as the Law demands?
4. A Jew should be able to explain
the words of Jacob in Genesis
“The sceptre shall not depart from
5. A Jew should be able to explain
why the Jews were driven from their promised land 2,000 years ago. All through the
Law and the Prophets it is repeatedly said, if they were driven out, that it
would be because of sin. See Deut. Chap. 4.,
Chap. 28: 30; Jer 11. and most of the book. Daniel’s prayer repeats very clearly why the
Jews were carried off to
6. How can there ever again be the necessary historical setting for the Messiah to fulfil all Old Testament predictions? Example - The form of capital punishment necessary to fulfil Psalm 22: 16, “They pierced my hands and feet,” is [now] obsolete.
7. In Zechariah 12: 10 in the account of the final siege of Jerusalem and its deliverance from its enemies, we read, “And they shall look unto me whom they have pierced; and they shall mourn for Him as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for His first-born.”
8. A Jew should be able to explain Psalm 110. Jesus said: “How say the scribes that Christ is the son of David? For David himself said by the Holy Spirit, “The lord said to my Lord, ‘Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool.’ David, therefore, himself calleth him Lord; and whence is he then his son?” (Mark 12: 35-37).
9. A Jew should be able to explain how any Jew, who spends his time in the pursuit of money and pleasure, can have any hope of salvation when the Law says, “Thou shalt love the Lord, thy God, with all thy heart and with all thy soul and with all thy might” (Deut. 6: 5). Making money one’s God is daily breaking the first two [greatest, and most important of God’s] Commandments.
10. A Jew should be able to explain how Isaiah 53, which describes a perfectly holy and unblemished Person can possibly refer to a nation which confesses its extreme guilt in its own ritual every day of Atonement and in its sacred writings.
11. A Jew should be able to explain why the Rabbis, in translating the Law and the Prophets into English, did not translate such a prophecy about the Messiah as Isaiah 9: 5. Why did they, as their own advertisements said, avoid anything to appear in the translation contrary to the canons of the synagogue? Is the synagogue greater than the Prophets?
12. A Jew should be able to explain
how by any mere accident so many prophecies in the Law
and the Prophets and the Psalms were unfulfilled by Jesus of
* * *
A SELECT RESURRECTION
FROM THE DEAD
It is unutterably wonderful to realize what we are quite likely to live to see - broken tombs;* and we are only too slow to realize that a select resurrection from the dead has already taken place, and exactly forestalls what is coming. “Behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and earth did quake; and the rocks were rent; and the tombs were opened” (Matt. 27: 51). The moment the Veil split, the tombs were rent: the offered Sacrifice saves the dead, backward: “I will ransom them from the power of the grave” (Hos. 13: 14), and instantly the ransom is paid, the power of the grave snaps.
[* Surely the tombs need not be broken! For a body, like that of our Lord’s, will simply pass through the tombs!]
earthquakes are coming, and such have occurred all down history. Frank Brangwyn, R.A., who visited
But the earthquake, at the Crucifixion reveals a portent much more wonderful. Earthquakes can be the travail-pangs of that with which earth labours - the holy dead - are to be born afresh out of death; and it is immediately after the immense earthquake in the Sixth of Revelation that we find the countless multitude in the heavens. So it has already happened. “The tombs were opened; and many bodies of the saints that had fallen asleep were raised; and coming forth out of the tombs after his resurrection they entered into the holy city.” It happened only after our Lord, the First of the Firstfruits, had risen. While the earthquake burst open the graves themselves, our Lord’s unlocking the Gates of Hades, as He came up, liberated the souls of the dead. The graves were unlocked by the Crucifixion: the occupants were summoned up after the resurrection.
So now we see one of the most wonderful historical examples of what is foretold in prophecy as still to come to pass - a select resurrection from among the dead. “And many” - not all saints: it was a select resurrection - “bodies of saints” - the only place in the Gospel where the disciples are called ‘saints’, because “blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection” (Rev. 20: 6); and so only on distinguished saints, distinguished for their saintliness, could the honour of rising immediately after the Son of God be conferred - “that had fallen asleep were raised”. It was a resurrection in which there not only were no wicked, but a resurrection in which there were not all the saints - the vaster multitude of saints were missing. “The words ‘after His resurrection’ belong to the whole sentence, not merely to ‘coming forth’” (Alford): for our Lord alone is ‘the first-begotten from the dead’ (Rev. 1: 5).
Thus we learn, by a vivid example before our eyes, that Resurrection is graded: after Christ’s resurrection, these; after these, resurrections yet to come: for whilst the Incarnation ensures the ultimate resurrection of the whole of mankind, priority in blessing involves priority in rising from the dead. Observe the extraordinary emphasis laid by the Holy Spirit on resurrection being physical. Not, “saints that had fallen asleep were raised”, but, “the bodies of saints that had fallen asleep were raised”: no phantoms, no ghosts, no unsubstantial visitants from the spirit-world - such as Spiritualists have daily contact with, and are pressing upon us as if they were resurrections - but the bodies which had been laid in the tomb; the same bodies that had died, rose. And note here a lovely fact. Is anything more pathetically fragile than human beauty, or more frail and transient than human bodily vigour? We are waiting for the full beauty and bloom that is imperishable: if men would only wait God’s time, and seek His gifts in God’s way, they would get at last all that the world holds dearest - wealth, glory, power, beauty, health.
So now we are able to see that prophecy is a mere continuation of what has already happened in history. “For coming forth out of the tombs they entered into the holy city” - an exquisite forecast of the coming flight upward of the risen saints into the Holy City above: the veil of the Temple had just been rent, so admitting into the Holy of Holies - “and appeared unto many” - to whom our Lord, after His resurrection, had probably not appeared. The evidential value of this is extraordinary. Many human beings have already actually witnessed the first section of the First Resurrection: it is no longer merely a prophecy: what we are waiting for, and what may occur at any moment - the completion of later sections of resurrection - has already physically and actually (in part) occurred, and been seen by human witnesses. And it is exceedingly characteristic of God’s action in these matters that we are wholly ignorant who personally these saints were; not one is named; their catalogue remains a secret in the Book of God - exactly as none can, until the actual event occurs, tell who first will now rise in rapture and resurrection. Even Paul did not know it of himself. “Brethren, I count not myself yet to have apprehended: if by any means I may attain unto the resurrection from the dead” (Phil. 3: 13). But this actual experience, an historical fact, makes all difficulty to prophecy vanish. Permitted to show themselves openly to those whom they loved and knew, their bodily contact not only proved our Lord’s resurrection and its enormous saving effects on both the living and the dead, but actually demonstrated the coming physical rising of the saints. A cluster of firstfruits has already broken from the tombs.
Suddenly the curtain drops: no word is uttered of the next step in their history: they are simply gone. To imagine that they died again would make this rising no true proof of our Lord’s resurrection; nor would it have been a true sample of the First Resurrection – incorruptibility - had they died afresh; nor, as a matter of fact, were their bodies ever found on earth as corpses, like that of Lazarus, when he died finally; nor is there any record of God having buried them, as He buried Moses. Moreover all cases of mere resuscitation, the temporary suspension of death - and nothing else was ever known before our Lord’s resurrection - lived out (like Lazarus) their restored life on earth, and amongst men; and it is hardly conceivable - and there is no adequate purpose visible - that these died again when our Lord ascended, not many days after their resurrection. Moreover, it was as saints they rose, in honour and glory - not as Lazarus, merely to show forth the power of Christ: they were Enochs, “who was not, for God took him.” So in some spot in the heavens from where Elijah came for the Transfiguration, thither doubtless these saints were rapt; and the very discussion of what became of them reminds us exactly of the search that was made for Elijah by the Sons of the Prophets (2 Kings 2: 27); and of Enoch, who was “not found” (Heb. 11: 5), though sought for; and it is exactly the speculation which will again fill the world. Augustine supposes they died again; Origen and Jerome, and the majority of the Early Fathers, believe that they ascended with Christ to glory. As Dean Alford puts it:- “Having appeared to many after His resurrection, - possibly during the forty days, - they went up with Him into His glory.” *
* This also
solves a minor problem. Our Lord’s
resurrection and ascension were, in the Old Testament type, the solitary sheaf
gathered even before the firstfruits, and carried into the
The conclusion is overwhelming - the summons that we concentrate on our own preparation for the rending rocks. We say, with Paul:- “If by any means I may attain unto the out-resurrection from among the dead [See Greek text…] “Not that I have already obtained, or am already made perfect: but I press on” (Phil. 3: 11). As Bishop Ellicott says:- “If ‘by any means’: in this formula the idea of an attempt is conveyed, which may or may not be successful: [See Greek …] the resurrection from the dead; i.e., as the context suggests, the first resurrection (Rev. 20: 5).” Distinguished saints were chosen, as examples of earth’s future kings, for the Transfiguration, which was a designed forecast of the [Millennial] Kingdom (Matt. 16: 28; 17: 1) - Elijah from among the living, and Moses from among the dead; and our Lord had already defined who will reign:- “they that are accounted worthy to attain to that age, and the resurrection which is out of the dead” – [See Greek …] (Luke 20: 35).*
* The graves will not only be open but empty. The present head of the “I Am” movement, a blasphemous cult which parodies the Rapture, claims that the founder, Guy Ballard, was rapt; but the undertaker says that he embalmed “the body of a good-sized man and that man was identified by the attending physician as Ballard.”
Follow light, and do the right, for man can half control his doom,
Till you find the deathless angel seated in the vacant tomb.
Warfare and Controversy
1. WARFARE. The tragedy of Christians fighting one
another deepens. Forty-two
per cent. of
2. CONTROVERSY. But, nearer home, there is another warfare
to be avoided. It is our
daily prayer that Grace may control and permeate this magazine, and we would
deeply value our readers’ co-operation in this prayer. For the dangers of controversy - inevitable
as controversy is - are acute for us all.
An apt illustration has just been sent us. Accompanying a quotation from Rapture by the Editor of the DAWN, Dr. T. T. Shields, the chief Baptist minister of
* Thus Govett, Pember, Seiss, John Wilkinson and Hudson Taylor - three of whom are the greatest students of prophecy
the modern age has produced, and two are founders of two of the greatest
Missions to Jew and Gentile share with our Lord
(Mark 3: 21) and Paul (Acts 26: 24) the
ascription of insanity, though in this case from a
fellow-believer. We stress
the point in order to wake ourselves and our readers to our own peril: as lawlessness
increases, it is certain to infect even the most unexpected sections of the
* * *
THE COMING DEPARTURE
OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
By D. M. PANTON, B.A.
It seems certain that not until the Church is in the immediate neighbourhood of the removal of the Holy Spirit from the world shall we realize the enormousness of the fact of His personal presence now on earth; and that moment is drawing near. We are so apt to assume, coolly and casually, all that His presence means, that only His withdrawal can make us realize what it is, and what that departure involves. For He is about to leave the earth. While always omnipresent as God throughout the universe, in the sense that He came at Pentecost - the sole representative of Deity personally in the world, fulfilling all the mighty purposes of God among men for two thousand years - in that same sense He departs, the work for which He descended being over; and it is only when the enormous vacuum is at the doors that we shall begin to realize that His departure necessarily cancels all the specific activity for which He came.
The actual descent of “the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven” (1 Pet. 1: 12) is vividly described. “Suddenly there came from heaven a sound as of the rushing of a mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting” (Acts 2: 2). Our Lord had said,- “If I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you” (John 16: 7): ten days after the Lord’s ascension, when the whole process of a satisfied Law had been accomplished, and our High Priest had taken the Blood into the Holy of Holies on high, the [Holy] Spirit descends to dwell with the Lord’s people, and to spread throughout the whole world the infinite blessings of the Gospel. In the words of N. F. Douty:- “Pentecost is absolutely unique, positively unparalleled in the Church’s experience, in respect of the Holy Spirit’s manner - appealing to the physical senses, appealing to ears and eyes. I say this is absolutely unique. It stands out alone and apart from all the rest of the Scriptures.” But it is extraordinarily significant that Pentecost is linked, both in Joel and in Peter’s quotation of Joel, with the judgment terrors of the Day of the Lord - that is, with His coming absence. “I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, before the great and the terrible day of the Lord come” (Joel 2: 28).
THE SPIRIT’S WORK FOR THE CHURCH
Our Lord Himself carefully describes the world-wide work of the [Holy] Spirit: therefore we begin to realize at once what must happen when that work ceases. To the Church He is the Paraclete, the Comforter in the place of Christ; and He does three main things. (1) “When he, the Spirit of truth, is come” not before: therefore it ceases when He is re-called - “he shall guide you into all the truth” (John 16: 13). The truths of nature are only God’s surface thoughts, which can be mastered by a created intellect; but the far profounder designs of God are “revealed through the Spirit for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God” (1 Cor. 2: 10). The studied official falsehood of great nations to-day will give birth to something still graver: the Guide into all truth will be gone. How unutterably solemn! how we ought, at this moment, to yield to the Spirit’s leading into any and every truth! (2) “He shall declare unto you the things that are to come.” One of the great functions of the Holy Ghost on earth is to wake the Church, and to warn the world, on all that is coming: hence His departure will be a dense fog, a universal doubt, just before the dawn. “For behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the peoples” (Isa. 60: 2). (3) “He shall glorify me; for he shall take of mine, and declare it unto you.” The Spirit floodlights Christ, as our Lord walks among the Lampstands of the Churches: “all the forces of the Incarnation are in the Church through the presence of the Spirit of God” (Gwilyn). So again we see what will happen. A seven-branched Lampstand, fed with the Oil of the Spirit, pictures the one, catholic Church (Zech. 4: 2): when the oil ceases, the lights go out: Church-standing is over when the Spirit departs, and the Church, as the Church, is no more on earth; and all spiritual comfort departs with the Comforter.
THE SPIRIT’S WORK FOR THE WORLD
The Spirit’s activity in the world, as distinct from the Church, is summed up as the Gospel in brief. “He, when he is come, will convict the world in respect of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they believe not on me” - a damning fact peculiar to this dispensation; “of righteousness, because I go to the Father” - so proving God’s acceptance of an imputed righteousness offered to all; “of judgment, because the prince of this world hath been judged” - and therefore a coming Hell is a fact. The work on the world which will cease is conviction of sin, at this end; judgment, hopeless and final, at the other end; and in between a perfect righteousness offered to all. The three thousand conversions on His arrival on earth were a sample, a forecast, of all revivals down the Christian ages, created wherever the Spirit moves. This will cease. Behind all saving evangelism, all missionary activity, all vast spiritual movements is the Holy Ghost, the sole power of it all; and He will have gone. The unutterably solemn consequence our Lord Himself states:- “When the Son of Man cometh, shall he find [the] faith on the earth?” (Luke 18: 8).
So Paul presents the Holy Ghost as the barrier that blocks the fierce pressures of Hell. “For the mystery of lawless ness doth already work” - moral anarchy has threatened the world from Paul’s day; “but there is ONE THAT RESTRAINETH”* - the enormous activity of the Spirit in Church and world efficiently curbs Hell - “now” - that is, only so long as the Spirit is on earth. When the dam breaks, the flood bursts. There can be no question at all as to who this Restrainer is: if one Person, and one alone, is to be described as the blocker of Hell, it can only be the Holy Ghost. In the words of Bishop Ellicott:- “All that mass of un-combined, and so to say, unorganized ‘lawlessness’, which, though at present seen only in detail, and not revealed in its true proportions, is even now aggregating and energizing, and will hereafter find its complete development and organization in the person and power of Antichrist.” So long as the Holy Ghost is on earth, the appearance of Antichrist is impossible; and therefore Paul drops a most studied warning, which will be increasingly needed. “Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day” - the Great Tribulation – “shall not come except the man of sin be revealed”; and he can be revealed only when the Restrainer is gone – “then shall that wicked one be revealed”: all anticipation of the Tribulation before the Spirit's departure is an error.
* 2 Thess. 2: 7. The old English word ‘let’, meaning a hindrance, we still have in the phrase “without let or hindrance”.
The words Paul uses are peculiarly fitted to express the disappearance of Deity. “There is one that restraineth now, until he be” - not rapt, nor, like the human Christ, ‘carried up’ into heaven (Luke 24: 51), but simply - “until he become out of the midst”; [See Greek, …] that is, self-removed, gone; “leaving the manner of the removal wholly undefined” (Ellicott). And simultaneous with the Spirit’s departure from the earth is Satan’s descent on to the earth, where he remains the most powerful spirit for three and a half years, giving all his authority to the Antichrist. The consequences are awful. “Then shall be revealed* the lawless one, even he whose coming is according to the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders.” The block hindering the avalanche is removed; and the return, later on, of the Holy Spirit in a fresh descent - when “the seven Spirits of God” are “sent forth into all the earth” (Rev. 5: 6) - is not for grace, but for judgment. The Two Witnesses, so charged with the Spirit as to be the two Olive trees, two Lampstands, use that power to “smite the earth with every plague” (Rev. 11: 6).
* Before the disappearance of the Spirit, Antichrist is not known as Antichrist, nor is his true character fully revealed: on the other hand, if the Ten Kings first create his power (Rev. 17: 13) by putting their dominions under him, he must not only be a familiar public personage but must already be known as an exactly suited World Emperor. But his ‘revelation’ comes later. “BE REVEALED: appears unveiled in all his naked deformity; no longer working secretly, but openly, and in an undisguised form; no longer the mystery, but the revelation, of lawlessness” (F. J. Gloag, D.D.).
Paul reveals that there is another block to Hell which is yet to be removed,
and which is expressed in a neuter not a masculine - not “one that restraineth”, but, “that
which restraineth”; and as it is named before, in this passage, he
refers to the Spirit at all, it cannot be merely the Spirit’s activity. “And now ye know”
- through what he has just said: they now realize what the restraint is – “THAT WHICH RESTRAINETH”, to the end that Antichrist may be revealed by its
removal. What then had Paul said? “We beseech you, brethren, touching the coming of our Lord
Jesus Christ, and our gathering together unto him” (ver 1). As the only conceivable
solitary masculine - therefore a person - blocking evil is the Holy Spirit, so
the only conceivable solitary neuter - therefore an institution or group of persons - blocking evil is
the Church, or more exactly the body of sanctified saints. The Hinderer and the Hindrance disappear
together.* Paul has described those whom he is addressing as the Restraint. “Ye became imitators of us, and of the Lord, having received the
word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost; so that ye became an
ensample to all that believe in
* Paul is careful not to name the Church: for to do so would be to proclaim ‘the rapture of the Church’ - an expression which never occurs in Scripture. The ‘hindrance’ which is purposely removed as such, closely resembles the ‘Hinderer’: unsanctified believers, notorious backsliders, so far from being restraints on iniquity. are one of the world’s most powerful stumbling-blocks.
One day Robert Murray McCheyne, while preparing his diary and memoirs, wrote:- “Oh, God, help me to live so as to be missed.”
WORSHIP OF AN ANTICHRIST
A Swedish friend of mine (writes Mr. J. N. Harris in the Daily Telegraph, May 22, 1940), one of the principal engineers of the Swedish Cellulose Co., said to a German that many Swedes thought the Germans wanted to make Hitler another Napoleon. This annoyed the German, who said: “Napoleon? oh no! Much greater than Napoleon. Why, sir, I would like you and your countrymen to know that we are creating a great religion around Herr Hitler.” “Then,” said the Swede, “I suppose you want to make him another Christ?” Instantly the whole manner of the German changed. He jumped to his feet, his face all aglow with intense fervour, and said: “No, no; not Christ; but much greater than Christ.”
* * *
AN EXPOSITION OF THE EPISTLE
TO THE HEBREWS
By ROBERT GOVETT, M.A.
(From pages 156-160 and 204. Heb. 4: 6-9)
6. “Since therefore it remaineth that some should enter therein, and those to whom the good news were first proclaimed entered not in because of disobedience, He a second time defineth a day - saying by David - ‘Today’ - after so long a time, as has been before said – ‘To-day, if ye will hear His voice, harden not your hearts.’”
rest of God, offered to
The principle here is the same as in the parables of the Great Supper, and the Wedding Garment. Those first invited would not come to the King’s feast. “Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage” (Matt. 22: 8, 9). The first invited were rejected through their disobedience; those who enter shall enter as the obedient men of faith.
God has now announced another day of invitation “into the kingdom of the Christ and God.” [see Eph. 5: 5.] “His rest shall be glory” (Isa. 11: 10). God will see to it, that His Son shall have companions in His millennial kingdom. He defines this period of the call as, “To-day”. To impress the present force of the invitation, the time is named “TO-DAY.” And to attract to it the more attention, and to show its present force, the word ‘TO-DAY’ is repeated, after some words of introduction have been thrown in.
is the writer, so long after Moses and Joshua.
David though seated in the land of promise, and on the throne of
Jehovah’s kingdom over
“He defineth a day.”
The “day” of the wilderness was “forty years”. This new day has been greatly prolonged since David’s time; yet it shall have an end. It is the day of God’s testing His people, whether they will believe His testimony to the coming glory, and obey Him, as the way to enter it. ‘Hear [and obey] His voice, and you shall enter.’ ‘Harden your heart, and you shall be shut out.’
A period is now near, when the day of grace and invitation shall close. It is called “the end of the age”. It is to be a day of visitation of vengeance, and of judgment, cutting off the foes of God and His Christ (Rom. 9: 28). If the day of patience in the wilderness ended so sadly, this of the world’s sorer trial will end worse still.
It is still “to-day”.
It is God’s part to define the “times and seasons”, and to close them when He wills. Be it ours to labour on for God, looking for His glory as our reward. The six thousand years of redemption-work are still running on. ’Tis the day of good news, of mercy still, and the throne of grace. For the [regenerate] believer the world is still the desert; and the fight with the spiritual rulers of the darkness of this world (Eph. 6.) still goes on.
days, and Solomon’s, though they brought the glory of the kingdom, and rest from foes in
the land of promise, were still not “the rest of God”. God could not rest even in David; much
less in Solomon, who turned to idolatry.
8. “For if Joshua had given them rest, He [God] would not have spoken of another day after these things.”
words set aside an objection of great plausibility against the argument. For it might be said by
Now this is partly true. Joshua’s partial clearing of the land by the
sword, and settling the children of
“If Joshua had given them rest, he would not have spoken of another day after these things.”
Joshua’s was an attempt, under God’s hand, to see if there could be rest for (1) the fallen flesh under its best-form, (2) in the old and blighted creation. But it could not be. “The Lord gave them rest round about according to all that He sware unto their fathers” (Josh. 21: 44). But while they rejoiced in the gifts of Jehovah, they did not rejoice and rest in Jehovah. Much less could Jehovah rest in them. And here is the turning-point of the matter, for the coming rest is God’s [millennial] rest.
‘If, [argues Paul], as you
pleaded, both God’s call and His rest are long past, there would be no new day
of invitation to the rest, or of warning against loss of it, as now.’ But God is
us to His own kingdom and glory” (1 Thess. 2: 12). “Seek first the
“He would not have spoken of another day.”
That is, of another day of good news; of the listening to God’s invitation and obeying it - in order that you may enter the joy of God’s rest. The days, both of redemption-labour, and of redemption-rest are “limited” [See Greek …]. The eternal day comes after the seventh-day rest of millennial glory.
9. “There remaineth therefore the keeping of
a sabbath-day’s rest for the people of God.”
we have reached the close of the argument which began with the first verse of
this chapter. The objection was that
both the time of God’s call, and of His rest, had long
ago been completed. It was admitted by
Paul that this was true of the works of creation. But the ninety-fifth psalm had spoken of a future rest of God, and had called all who heard the
invitation to seek that coming day of glory. To this it has been objected,
that the rest of God had been enjoyed by the tribes of
The Apostle here changes the word for “rest”.* He now uses the uncommon word “sabbatism”. Why? On purpose to knit his present argument with what is testified of God’s creation-rest in Genesis 2., and with the feasts of the Law.
The coming day of sabbath-keeping is a special form of rest, of which God hath from the first given the type. Thus Moses is again constituted a witness to us, in this Epistle.
The coming rest is to be:-
1. A sabbath day of “holy convocation”. The ransomed of the Lord shall assemble, His approved ones of past generations. They shall come together to keep the feast of resurrection. There shall no “servile work” then be done by these anointed priests and kings. The Christ, the Creator, the better Joshua, the Redeemer, shall institute the feast, shall bless and hallow it: it shall be a time of rest after toil; when disturbers shall be imprisoned, and earth and heaven rest.
2. It shall be “the seventh day”, the “great day” of God’s appointing; and upon the same scale of length as the six previous redemption-days.
3. It shall be the day of God’s complacency in His works, both of creation and of redemption. For after the work was complete we read: “And God saw everything that He had made, and, behold, it was very good” (Gen. 1: 31).” “In six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day He rested and was refreshed” (Exod. 31: 17).
Therefore God shall, before the coming day of His rest, remove those works in which He cannot feel pleasure. Therefore, O [redeemed] people of God, provoke Him not now, in this day of trial in the wilderness. For if He be grieved and angry with you, you will not then rest with Him. “The righteous, by faith, shall [then] live; but if he draw back, My soul hath no pleasure in Him” (Heb. 10: 38). Paul himself therefore feared, lest he should, in reference to that reward, prove rejected (1 Cor. 9: 27). “Wherefore we are ambitious, that whether present or absent, we may he well-pleasing to Him” (Greek) (2 Cor. 5: 9; Heb. 11: 5, 6).
4. God, and they who attain
the kingdom, “shall rest together, after working together.” (1) Under the Law, rest was to be furnished
Jehovah by man. He was bound over to work and to rest
with his God. (2) Under the Gospel, the
Lord has bestowed on us a better rest of soul in justification, than
SANCTIFICATION FOR GLORY
The Apostle prays for his converts:- “The God of peace himself sanctify you wholly, and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved entire, without blame, at the presence (in the air) of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Thess. 5: 23). This is progressive sanctification, a life-long process and growth, and in those cases where it is accomplished will win its possessors a share in the First Resurrection and the reigning with Christ in His Millennial Kingdom. “If we endure we shall reign with Him” (2 Tim. 2: 12).
is “able to guard us from stumbling and to set us before
the presence of His glory without blemish in exceeding joy,” (Jude 24); and will also do it provided we are trusting and
obeying, and feed continuously upon the Holy Scriptures, praying without
ceasing. As Bonar
says, “Nothing but constant intercourse will carry on
the soul”; or
The teaching held by many and taught for nigh a century that if one be a child of God, a member of the Body, sin, worldliness, pleasure, and money-making, etc., will only entail “loss”, and that all Christians without exception will be “caught up” at the same moment when the Lord arrives in the air, has wrought immeasurable mischief, and violates as well as misapplies those Scriptures the Lord has mercifully given for the [regenerate] believers’ guidance, counsel, and warning. Let us remember that the proof of our faith is more precious than gold, and shall be found unto praise and glory and honour at the revelation of Jesus Christ. (1 Pet. 1: 7). We must be acquiescent to His will, and then be quiescent in His will.
- CHAS. S. UTTING.
* * *
THE REVIVAL UNDER HEZEKIAH
“Sanctify yourselves, and sanctify the house of the Lord,
and carry forth the filthiness out of the holy place” (2 Chron. 29: 5).
doors (verse 7) - fitful attendance;
extinguished lamps - worldly walk; un-offered incense - prayerlessness;
abandoned sacrifices - a worship without joy or praise or thanksgiving. In one church in the Indian revival one
hundred and ten believers confessed to sins unknown except to God: among them
was an orphanage matron who confessed to falsification of accounts, and restored
hundreds of rupees; and nearly all
acknowledged sins against the seventh Commandment. A certain woman in that church had
refused to obey God by confessing Christ; she was also said to have had a
vision of our Lord, and disregarded it.
Then came the smitten conscience. She writhed on the ground in agony, and her
supplications for pardon were most pitiful: moving away through the
congregation, she cried that she saw Hell opening after her, ready to engulf.
But the discovery of the filth ended in its removal: with a boundless joy she
realized the pardoning mercy of God, and in after days that woman was a burning
light in the
2. DIVINE VISITATION.
“Hezekiah rejoiced, and all the people, because of that which God had prepared for the people; for the thing was done suddenly” (29: 36).
One match exploded the gunpowder, but it was God who had laid the train: every revival is produced by the local arrival (as at Pentecost) of the [Holy] Spirit of God. In an American revival a couple of centuries ago, Jonathan Edwards tells us that the mere naming of the Holy Spirit in certain districts of the Revival would overwhelm souls with transports of joy, even to unconsciousness. An old-time preacher was once preaching on Christ, and he paused and said, “The Lamb - bless His Name! - not the Lion, but the Lamb of God”; and all the people burst into tears. When the Wesleys and Whitfield, with some sixty brethren, were continuing instant in prayer, about three in the morning the power of God so came upon them that many cried out for exceeding joy, and many fell to the ground. “Often,” says Whitfield, “I have, seen these meetings overwhelmed with the Divine Presence.” Says C. G. Finney:- “This power seems sometimes to pervade the atmosphere of one who is highly charged with it. Many times great numbers of persons in a community will be clothed with this power, when the very atmosphere of the whole place seems to be charged with the life of God. Strangers coming into it, and passing through the place, will be instantly smitten with conviction of sin, and in many instances converted to Christ.”
“The posts” - announcing the great awakening – “passed from city to city; but
they laughed them to scorn, and mocked them” (30:
10). God’s arrival
in power rouses the sharpest crisis with Hell: the wedge of life He drives in
sharply sunders and divides. A
correspondent wrote in the Welsh Revival:- “This is to me the saddest after-experience of those wonderful
days of power and blessing. Hundreds
have been excommunicated, or told directly or indirectly they were not wanted,
some because they were baptized, some because they started a Sunday school in a
benighted neighbourhood without first securing the sanction of the minister and
the local Church Union, some because in the society meetings they would give
expression to the joy and delight they found in Christ Jesus. Others have left because the minister preached
against what had become divine realities to them since their eyes were opened,
or were ‘New Theologians’; others because they found the atmosphere of the
chapels intolerable.” We do well to heed the solemn warning of
lest that befall you, which is spoken in the prophets; Behold, ye despisers,
and wonder, and perish ; for I work a work in your days, a work which ye shall in no wise
believe, if one declare it
unto you” (Acts 13: 41). Nevertheless,
doubters can become believers. In the
Japanese Revival, one night, in the College
at Doshisha, the whole of the one hundred and
fifty students did not sleep at all.
There were scores of anxious souls among them crying for mercy all over
the college, and the consequence was that most of them were definitely brought
out into the light, became real evangelists, went out and took the fire into
neighbouring towns and villages. “When I first went to
“Nevertheless divers humbled themselves, and came to
“So there was great joy in
OUTLOOK OF THE HOUR
Perilous times are upon us, and evil men and seducers are waxing worse and worse: may it be mine to watch and pray always, that I may be counted worthy to escape all these things that are coming on the earth, and to stand before the Son of Man
- JOHN WILKINSON, founder of the Mildmay Mission to the Jews.
For this is to be our divine model in still graver issues than a pre-Tribulation rapture of some or all or none. Mr. Hugh Miller, writing in the Record (April 19, 1940), says of the Second Advent:- “On the minds of what percentage of professing Christians does the possibility or even probability of such a happening actually occurring in their lifetime make a profoundly permanent impression? From summing up opinions expressed by all sorts and conditions of men and women to a skilled investigator, would he be justified in putting the figure at more than one-half per cent? Is it not more likely that one eighth per cent. would be too liberal a reckoning? It would appear so.” How anyone, in view of these figures, can suppose that the Church as a whole is so “watching and praying” as “to escape all these things that shall come to pass” (Luke 21: 36) is, to us, a mystery. Nevertheless, love and patience grant, even to deniers of any Advent, what God grants us all - liberty of judgment. Divisions on non-fundamentals, which need never cleave asunder Christian fellowship, are inevitable: “there must be divisions among YOU, THAT THEY WHICH ARE APPROVED MAY BE MADE MANIFEST” (1 Cor. 11: 19). No approval or disapproval really matters but that of the Judgment Seat of Christ.
Meanwhile the shock of to-day’s events unveils the Advent in unexpected quarters. Christian Victory records one more unlikely discoverer of a near climax. The former Editor of The American Mercury, H. L. Mencken,
a man not known as a Fundamentalist, declared:- “The silence of the theologians is one of the incredible phenomena of these dangerous days. What I desire to point out is that the New Testament offers precise and elaborate specifications of the events preceding the inevitable end of the world, and that a fair reading of them must lead any rational man to conclude that the events are now upon us.”
Grace can re-kindle flames that seem completely dead. Francis Newman, the brother of the Cardinal, who, though in his early manhood among the Brethren, became for the rest of his life an open apostate, on his deathbed declared that once more Christ was everything to him. From a daughter-in-law of Canon Mozley Mr. G. H. Lang learned that her husband, returning from Newman’s funeral, told her that it had been stated over his grave, by his request, that he died trusting for salvation to the precious blood of Christ. Mr. Lang’s comment is just (Anthony Norris Groves, p. 266):- “The most pronounced, prolonged repudiation of the Faith, and public opposition thereto, is no sufficient proof that the opposer never was a true believer. This bears directly upon the right application of those passages of the New Testament which deal with the backsliding, moral and intellectual, of persons treated in these passages as believers.”
I KNOW NOT
I know not now why doubts and cares
Should dim my faith by haunting fears;
I know not why when needing rest
My heart remains still sore opprest;
I know not now when seeking aid
The answer is so long delay’d;
I know not now why burning tears
My heart should harass through the years.
I know not now why life should be
A school of discipline for me;
I know not now why grief and pain
Should check one’s course and should remain:
I know not now why sore distress
The heart should fill with weariness;
I know not now why He should show
On me such marvellous grace below:
All this some day I’ll understand
When I have reach’d
- DORIS GOREHAM.
Faith to go forward in the dark,
Faith, Lord Jesus, to embark
Once more on life’s wild, troubled sea,
In the nidst of earth’s calamity.
Faith to know that Thou dost still
Look down in mercy; at Thy will
Outstretched Thine arms, and fill’d with love,
Ready the hearts of men to move.
Faith to ‘press on’* with Thee our Guide,
For Thou art with us by our side;
Thou seest, what we cannot see;
By faith we follow only Thee.
* Phil. 3: 3: 14, R.V.
Faith to look above earth’s night,
Away from lawlessness and man’s might,
Away from struggle, sadness, war,
To Thee, the Bright, the Morning Star.
- HETTIE K..PAYNE
The Lord is coming! The Word testifies it; the Spirit has spoken it; holy men have written it; the Church has been looking for it; the Saints to-day are longing for it; the redeemed in glory wait for it; the Devil and all the evil spirits know it to be a fact, that Jesus is coming again [to rule this earth in righteousness and peace*]. Only the Churches do not seem to know it.
[*Isa. 9: 6, 7: Rev. 15: 4.]
- A. ERDMAN.
What Charles Wesley
foresaw is now patently nearer. A
preacher on the National Day of Fasting in February, 1756, said:- “One disappointment and defeat
has succeeded upon another. Our enemies
have scarce failed of success in any of their schemes. Perhaps there was never a period in which not
Come, thou Conqueror of the nations,
Now on Thy White Horse appear:
Earthquakes, deaths, and desolations
Signify Thy kingdom near:
True and faithful,
’Stablish Thy dominion here.
It is painful to note how
un-shocked earthquake sufferers can be. “Thus saith the Lord of hosts, They
shall build, but I will throw down”
(Mal. 1: 4).
Some years ago a citizen in
A recent writer expresses a real comfort for souls perplexed over the world situation. “Once I decided that I could not believe in the goodness of God in the presence of the world’s evil; and then I discovered that I had run headlong into another and even more difficult problem: What do you do about all the world’s goodness on the basis of no God? All the victories of good over evil how can we, thinking of these on the basis of no God, explain them as the casual, accidental, by-products of physical forces going it blind? I think it cannot be done. The mystery of evil is very great upon the basis of a good God, but the mystery of goodness is impossible upon the basis of no God.”
Antinomianism – the refusal of all law as now associated with Christ – is characteristic of an anaemic Church. Dr. R. J. Campbell totally denies War as judgment. “That the war, with all its slaughter and misery,” he says, “is a judgment of God upon the nations for their wickedness and disregard of His laws are false, and if meant literally is almost blasphemous.” So our Lord’s descent, for the most awful war of all, yet to be, is regarded as impossible. “Any kind of literal ‘coming on the clouds of heaven’,” writes Professor J. A. Findlay (British Weekly, Sept. 29, 1938), “by which a kind of submission might conceivably be forced from a reluctant world, would involve an appeal to naked force utterly out of keeping with all that we know of Jesus of Nazareth. The fact that so many thoughtful Christians are hesitant about the doctrine of the Second Coming is not due to innate unbelief, but to the conviction that they would be denying all that they had learned about God and Jesus either in the Gospels or in experience.” Vast multitudes will soon have cause to cry:- “Hide us from THE WRATH OF THE LAMB!” (Rev. 6: 16).
The Advent holds the master-key to the world problem. Mr. F. Baily, the secretary of the Guild of Prayer for the Return of our Lord, writes (Guardian, June 21st, 1940): “Those who do possess this hope of divine intervention are the only happy people in the world to-day, because they see beyond its immediate turmoil the glory of the [Millennial] Kingdom we may expect Christ so soon to set up. For, assuming that victory has been achieved, how is a bankrupt, famine-stricken, diseased European continent to be reconstructed (coming so soon after another major war) unless some manifested divine power is available?”
If we obey Christ and please Him in this present age, we shall receive the Age to Come. He will raise us from the dead, and we shall live and reign with Him. The saints shall judge the world.
- POLYCARP, early in the second century.
He drew a circle, that shut me out,
Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout:
But Love and I had the wit to win;
He drew a circle that took me in.
- EDWIN MARKHAM