A SERMON BY A LOST SOUL
By D. M. PANTON*
[*NOTE. This writing was first published on December 15th, 1932.]
It is one thing to ponder the horrors of the coming Tribulation, which may yet be decades distant, or the judgment of the Great White Throne, occurring at least ten centuries from now: it is altogether another to contemplate what may be the fate of any or all of us in a few minutes from the moment that this is read. The boundary between this world and the next* is so slight, and the arrival in the beyond can be so sudden, that it may actually be experienced by any one of us in a moment. It is among the amazing things of revelation, which we so little realize, that, reported by the Lips in which dwelt all wisdom and knowledge, a man is overheard speaking in Hell* for the only time in the history of the world. Two men suddenly arrive in Hades - that waiting-room of souls whose tickets have already been taken for eternity; each soul is shifted, with hardly a perceptible break by death, into the other world; and our Lord** reports an actual conversation - the only authentic report of a conversation of the dead ever recorded - not to satisfy curiosity, or to reveal secrets, but to show us, who at any moment may be there, that the decision of eternity is now.
[* i.e., in the underworld of Hades, (Luke 16: 23, 30, 31. cf. 1 Sam. 28: 11-20.)
** The Speaker was to be an exception, and a miraculous exception, in His body. It was not to see corruption. It is implied therefore, that the rule, as it regards men in general, is, that their bodies should turn to corruption; and this all are willing to allow. But the Speaker in the Psalm (16) was to be an exception, also in His soul. It was not to be LEFT in Hades; therefore the general rule is, that the SOULS of men are LEFT in HADES, (R. Govett): that is, until the time of their Resurrection at the return of our Lord Jesus Christ, (1 Thess. 4: 16).]
The first awful fact that bursts
upon us is that hell-fire is already an actual experience, and is deliberately
so stated by the tenderest Lips in all history.
In Hades he lifted up his eyes - up,
for the inner circle of earths centre is the lower circle being in torments (Luke
16: 23). Hell is not
Hades, but it begins there:
* It would appear from this that the fire of the
The whole emphasis throughout Christ lays on a physical contrast, here and hereafter, beneath which lies a far profounder spiritual contrast, in two men who exchange positions in the world to come. Abrahams answer sums it up:- Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things - reached your own ideal of wealth, prosperity, power and Lazarus - a name which, pathetically, means God is my help likewise evil things; but now here - in the world of eternal reversal - he is comforted, and thou art in anguish. If the world could, by economics, make everybody a Dives, it would feel that it had reached an ideal higher than its highest dreams. The extraordinary thing is that not a single sin is laid to the charge of the Rich Man by Abraham: nowhere does Christ Himself say that he was a vicious man, or a criminal, or irreligious, or possessed of ill-gotten wealth:* he perished merely of worldliness. Thy good things ease, comfort, pleasure, with sin: Lazarus evil things - scorn, poverty, disease, with God: therefore Dives has pall-bearers, Lazarus has angels. The reversal is appalling. Here, Lazarus is the beggar, and Dives the refuser - there, Dives is the beggar, and Lazarus the refuser: here, Dives refuses a crumb on the tongue - there, Lazarus refuses a drop of water on the tongue: Dives saw the suffering beggar, and did not relieve him; Lazarus sees the tormented Dives, and cannot relieve him. And the moral gulf, in the world to come, becomes as impassable a physical gulf - a gulf fixed that (see Gk.) for the very purpose that none may pass. Gods myriad warnings crystallize at last into an impassable gulf. Lazarus lost everything in the world, but he lost Worldliness with it: Dives dies in worldliness, and wakes up in fire.
* That wealth does not necessarily ruin is proved by the fact that of the two men, Dives and Abraham, it is almost certain that Abraham was by far the richer man.
Now what does a man, who finds himself there, say in Hell? What he does not say is overwhelming: unutterable volumes lie in the sudden silence of the soul who, on the other side, knows. (1) It never crosses the rich mans lips, for apparently it never crosses his mind, to cry Let me out! The clanging of the Gates behind him, the awful locking of the Keys of Death and of Hades, require no further argument and admit of no further doubt. Dives has to be told that no spirit can cross the Gulf that divides the good from the evil dead; and he has to be told that a good spirit sent out on to the earth would not convince; but he needs no one to tell him that there is no escape out of the place of the lost for one who has died unrepentant. (2) There is one word which we can hardly imagine a soul, thus plunged into catastrophe, and involved in fearful ruin, not uttering; one word that embraces and controls the universe; one word in which hope alone can survive: yet in all the dialogue in those fateful shades the word God never escapes his lips. The man who lives without God, dies without God; and lips that never pray on earth are mute in Hell. (3) His only other cry, beside that of pain, is a cry that involves complete self-despair:- Send to my fathers house. The dead say that there is hope for the living, but none for the dead. Dives knows, without question put or complaint made or appeal lodged, that he is eternally doomed.*
[* It may well be the case that the rich man (Dives) before the time of his death, was a regenerate soul and therefore not eternally doomed: but presumably he is judged by Christ as being not accounted worthy to rise from the dead at the time of the First Resurrection (Rev. 20: 5) - a resurrection of REWARD, Luke 14: 14; 20: 35; Phil 3: 11; Heb. 11: 35b. If this is the case and it probable is - he lost his Crown and inheritance - all of which are necessary for ruling with Christ in the age to come: (Rev. 3: 11; Heb. 12: 14-17; Rev. 3: 21; Gal. 5: 21; Eph. 5: 5; Luke 20: 35.)]
Now the sermon of a lost soul issues from the Rich Mans lips. Send [Lazarus] - how remarkably he does not say, Send me: he knows the Gates are locked to my fathers house, lest they also come into this place of torment: if one go to them from the dead, they will repent.* Dives is anxious his brothers should repent; not once does he speak of his own repentance: he is keenly aware that repentance will keep his brothers from Hell, but he never dreams that repentance will pluck a man out of Hell. It is impossible, to carry our sins into Heaven, and the moment we are in the other world we shall know it. Dives suffers from remorse, not from repentance. Not one word of admission of sin; not one word of regret for sin; not one thought for the cleansing from sin; not one cry for the pardon of sin:- Hell holds no sense of sin, and therefore no absolution from sin. Dives manifestly had himself never believed that there is a Hell**: in it, he infers that all who conceal or deny the fact are doing men a fearful wrong; and his one appeal for his brothers is that they should be told that Hell is a fact. And that they may escape it he concentrates all on one word - REPENT! That is what a dead man thinks every living man ought to do. It is sin that fills Hell, and it is only repentance that can escape it. Dives was sure that if only his brothers knew the facts of the other world, they would move heaven and earth to avoid the torment. O what weird hands, which lay in the same cradle with ours, are waving us off from the very same fire at this moment, crying with parched throats - Repent! The Saviour Himself has warned us in words that could not be more clear or sure, and no lost soul who ever entered the gloomy portals but knows that they are true:- Except ye repent, YE SHALL ALL LIKEWISE PERISH (Luke 13: 5).
[* They might have anticipated that the Christ or Messiah must die, if they had only attended to their own prophetic writings. In proof of which he (Peter) cites a passage from the Psalms which evidently implied upon its very face, the death and resurrection of a certain Holy One specified therein. It implied His death for his body should not see corruption, nor His soul be left in hades. R. Govett.
** It is (we hope)
unnecessary to say that Hades in the underworld and the
Now the startling fact in
Abrahams answer is that the five brothers had in their hands something more
convincing, more saving, than would be an evangelist walking straight into
their house from out of a ruptured tomb. If they
hear not Moses and the prophets, he says, neither will they be persuaded, if one rise from the dead. Abrahams reply reveals what alone save any
man, in any epoch of the world, anywhere.
God Himself can give no more than He has given. Christ Himself never once appeared to an unbeliever
after His resurrection. I do not want
news from Hell, but pardon from Heaven: could a messenger from Hades cleanse my
foul soul? But the
Scriptures can. No messenger from the other world could
make goodness more lovable, or Hell more terrible, or
The disclosure of our Lord - perfectly unique in the history of the world - focusses everything on immediate decision.* How few words our Lord devotes to these two mens lives: how He concentrates all on their hereafter! Two men, travelling the same earthly way, pass at once into opposite abodes, as surely as vapour rises and water falls; between them is fixed a gulf which no reasoning can hide, no time can heal, no angel can bridge, no eternity can destroy; traffic across is impossible, for the good will not cross when the day of mercy is closed, and the bad may not, when the day of opportunity is gone; and all around are walls unscalable, unpierceable, immovable. Now is the accepted time, NOW is the day of salvation. At any moment we may be there. I knew a man, says John Wesley, who had greatly signalled himself as an enemy to all serious inward religion. He was going on pleasure as usual. His foot slipped, and as he was falling a thought came, What if instead of falling to the earth thou hadst now died, and fallen into hell? That thought brought him to a sense of sin, to repentance and to God.
* Bishop Samuel Wilberforce says:- The experience of many death-beds has convinced me that, so far from the death-bed being the place where you will see the greatest sincerity, there are few places where you will oftener see men hypocrites, very few times and very few places where men are more desperately striving to deceive themselves, because they feel that now it is almost hopeless to turn.
* * *
THE PULPIT COMMENTARY
ON THE FIRST RESURRECTION
Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the
first resurrection. It
is a common remark that we are to learn much concerning the Divine administration
Now the resurrection [out] from the dead which St. Paul speaks of as the prize of his high calling, and after which he strove, if by any means he might attain unto it - for as yet he had not attained to it, and therefore he still pressed, as an eager racer, towards the goal - this resurrection could not be the general one, for he knew that he would rise again; nor either does it mean simply being saved, for he knew that he was saved already. It must mean, therefore, a special resurrection - this of which our text tells: a prize - the prize, indeed.
What should be the influence of this doctrine of the first resurrection upon us? Surely we should have respect unto the recompense of the reward. If Christ has put this reward before us, we should have respect to it. Is it fitting, some may ask, that Christs servants should serve Him with their eyes on the reward? Was it fitting that any reward which Christ promised to bestow should be without appreciation? Is this a recompense of reward for which we need have no respect? Should it not rouse our energies and call forth our most strenuous endeavours? Holiness, conformity to the mind and will of God, is the condition of this blessedness. The rewards of Christ are not mere external things, but inward and spiritual possessions. Therefore to say that we shall be content with the lowest place in heaven [or during the coming millennium], as many do say, may sound like humility and Christian meekness; but it means being content with less of likeness to Christ, less of His spirit, less of His love. Priority and privilege in heaven, the share in this first resurrection, are according to these things; and how can we be content with but little of them? It is not humility, it is not self-denial, it is wrong to Christ Himself, to be indifferent to this reward. Whilst low in the dust as regards yourself, have a lofty ambition in regard to this. Oh, then, seek, strive, pray, for this holiness of heart and life, that you may be of those blessed ones who have part in the first resurrection!
* * *
Dr. James H. Gray, the principal of the Moody Bible Institute, Chicago, in a very gracious letter writes to us on the attitude of Mr. Moody and Dr. Pierson on rapture:- These men were intimately known to me, and I was in their company off and on quite constantly during the latter years of their lives, and if they had changed their views, it seems almost incredible to me that it should not have been known to us. On such a point - especially as it relates to Mr. Moody - we feel that Dr. Grays testimony is decisive. In a clash of evidence this holds the field. But the important point for us all (as we would all agree) is not what beloved leaders have held (helpful though that is) such as Moody and Pierson and Scofield; or Tregelles and Muller and Baron; or Seiss and Pember and Govett: but what saith the Scripture? We are in days of profound challenge, and every doctrine that cannot prove itself by Holy Writ must go by the board, whatever the names with which it has been established.
* * *
Some one I love went home to-day,
Went home to God. I cannot say
How I can live the years until
I see her face again, how fill
The empty days. I only know,
Yes, know, that some day I shall go
To her, and hear her voice again,
And touch her hand. Ah, Love! ... Till then,
My chart upon this lonely sea,
Those last faint words she spoke to me!
Dear, keep the home together, and
The boys in school. Sacred command,
My task until the prize is won, -
Her smile, her words, Belovd, well done!
Some One I love went home one day,
Went home to God. He did not say
How long He would be gone, nor when
He would be coming back again.
I only know that He has gone
To make a place for me. Some dawn
Or evening light Hell come for me!
Till then there is a task that He
Has set for me, His last command, -
To preach the Word! 0 heart and hand,
Be consecrated to His cause,
Spend strength and purse and store, nor pause
Until that wondrous prize is won, -
His tender words, Belovd, well done!*
MARTHA S. NICHOLSON. * The Jewish Missionary Magazine.
* * *
THE THOUSAND YEARS REIGN
By D. M. PANTON, B.A.
One extraordinary characteristic proves that the Kingdom of the Thousand Years belongs neither to our present Age, nor yet to Eternity, but is the hinge, the junction, between earth as it has existed for six thousand years and the vast Eternal Ages of which we know so little. The characteristic is this:- the signal of its birth is the arrest and imprisonment of Satan; and its death-symptom is Satans release: these are the two events between which the Holy Spirit sets it. That Satan is paralyzed throughout it proves that the Millennium is not our Age of Grace; and that Satan is liberated after it for full activity proves that the Millennium is not the sinless Eternity beyond. Thus Christs Kingdom on earth is the bridge between time and eternity, partaking of the nature of both. It is Gods triumph on the old battlefield where He had seemed most defeated; and it is a last trial granted to the old earth before, on a fresh ruin, the present universe is swept out of existence for a new heavens and a new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness.
An immense change of dispensation bursts at once upon our
gaze. And I saw
THRONES; but not empty
thrones; and [men] sat on them (Rev. 20: 4). The
thrones, as Lange says, constitute the foreground of the picture: they are the
beginning of the Church Triumphant in this world - the visible appearance of
* What disaster has been
wrought by the
Still move explicit and decisive is the function allotted them, making the new royalties no mere spectators in a royal pageant, but monarchs in full responsibility and power. And JUDGMENT - full authorization to act as judges in a final court of appeal - was given unto them. This stamps as false all attempts to find fulfilment for the Millennium now; for both the throne and the judiciary are forbidden to the disciples of Christ throughout our age of grace: whereas the moment the monarchs and judges of earth are dispossessed by the descending Christ, necessity compels reappointments, and the establishment of officers qualified to act. Know ye not, Paul asks, that the saints shall JUDGE the world? (1 Cor. 6: 2). This granted judgment is the characteristic word of the Age to Come. For all judgment falls in the Millennial epoch; its triple tribunal - the Bema, the Throne of the Living Nations, and the Great White Throne - exhausts all judgment; and judgment, or justice, reigns from end to end of the Kingdom on earth. Our Lord revealed this explicitly to the Thyatiran Church:- He that overcometh and he that keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give authority over the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron, as the vessels of the potter are broken to shivers; as I also have received of my Father (Rev. 2: 26).
The Spirit next strikes the
fundamental chord of millennial music.
The whole body of martyrs suddenly rises before us:-
and I saw the souls of them that had been BEHEADED, that
is, the martyrs of all ages. Why is it
that a single class of Gods servants so fills the foreground that many in the
A THOUSAND YEARS
So now the Kingdom opens on our vision. And they lived - came to life, rose from the dead; attained to life before my eyes (Hengstenberg) and reigned with Christ - whose is the central throne A THOUSAND YEARS. John either saw the souls rise, or else saw that they rose; but the rest of the dead lived not - they remained dead - until the thousand years should be finished. An ineradicable defect in all attempts to erect the Kingdom without the King, a devastating fact which forever wrecks all man-made millenniums, is that it perforce excludes all the dead, including those who most deserve it - the martyrs: only the Master of resurrection can be the Creator of the Kingdom, and even He can do it only by raising the dead. So therefore what the Kingdom of God is, - in all literal passages, the Spirit has put beyond all doubt:- Flesh and blood [the unchanged living] cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption [the unrisen dead] inherit incorruption (1 Cor. 15: 50).* The Kingdoms exact limit, a thousand years, is named six times, so as to put its literality and duration beyond all question for ever.* It is not said where John saw the thrones located: probably in the Holy City, hovering over the earth (Rev. 19: 7, 8): even as King George, though Emperor of India, and occasionally holding a Durbar in Delhi, resides, habitually, in London, the Empires central city, so earths new Monarchs, visiting earth, nevertheless actually dwell in their Metropolis.
[* Keep in mind this divine truth:- Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, but flesh and bones can; and will after the time of the salvation of souls at their Resurrection. See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself; handle me, and see; for a spirit has not flesh and bones as you see that I have: (Luke 24: 39, R.S.V.) 1 Pet. 1: 9.]
* Thus it is the Sabbath-rest - the seventh of seven millenniums since the Creation. And it is covered by an unchanging exhortation:- Let us therefore labour to enter into that rest, lest any [of us: see ver. 1] fall after the same example of disobedience (Heb. 4: 11).
THE FIRST RESURRECTION
So now the glory of it all is
counter-signed by God Himself. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he - for it is all sharpened down to
a personal recompense that hath part in THE FIRST RESURRECTION.* Here is the culmination
of all the golden promises that centre in an earlier breaking of the
tombs. The last great orthodox German
said:- Paul spoke of a resurrection to
which he strove to attain (Phil. 3: 8, 11), and to which he was with all his might pressing forward,
as the high prize to gain which he was agonizing, and for which he counted all
else loss (Lange). So our Saviour indicates the peculiar
capacities of these Priestly Kings. They that are accounted worthy of that age, and the
resurrection from among the dead, are as the angels (Luke 20:
36): as angels appear among men, on behalf of God, or disappear,
or as the risen in
* Blessed and holy must be emphatic here, for they can hardly bear the simple and ordinary meaning. All saints of every age are blessed and holy in reality and to a certain extent, let them live or die where or when they may. The phrase in our text, therefore, must be employed in an emphatic sense, in a sense which drew the writers special attention, and which he intended should also he specially noted by the reader (Moses Stuart).
A FINAL MILLENNIUM
Once again, and for the last
time, the crowning reward of all the servants of God of all ages is emphasized
ere it vanishes. Over these the second death hath no power;* but they
shall be PRIESTS OF GOD AND OF CHRIST,
and shall reign with him a thousand years. Godward they represent man, and manward they
represent God: they rule for God, they intercede for man. It is the intermediate Age between time and
eternity. The Curse is controlled, but not lifted; death is rare, but not
unknown; war is banished, yet whole nations are broken or even consumed;** the
Devil is in chains, but not in the
* This needs to be stated, because the Millennial
epoch is the period of the exact recoil of a believers works, the worst as
well as the best: in the
** It is hardly necessary to say that the subjects ruled over are, at the start the Sheep of the Parable - regenerate (Matt. 25: 34) men in the flesh who, unhampered by disease or death (Isa. 33: 24), will restock the earth after the judgments with enormous rapidity. But all fresh births are unregenerate (Isa. 65: 20), and on these Satan ultimately works. There can be no uncrowned saints in the Millennium, for all who lived, reigned: coronation is an essential of kingship.
* * *
THE PERIL OF THE CHURCH
By D. M. PANTON, B.A.
It is one of the marvels of
prophecy (amazingly unstressed, if not unknown) that Pauls Letter to the Roman
Church forestalls - and, if heeded, had safeguarded - every main dread
development of the Church of Rome. Every mountain
* So also (6) the
Church that has restored images and (7)
holy days and asceticism is admonished on
idolatry (Rom. 2: 22) and foods (
The Holy Spirit begins the gravest and most fundamental warning ever addressed to the Church as existent on earth by picturing the life-stock of the world, redemption all down the ages, as an OLIVE; the Root of which is Abraham, who, technically, was neither Jew nor Gentile, but the father (or root) of both, which believed;* and the hidden root, and the life-trunk, and the branches, natural or grafted, are, all together, the community-life of the saved through all dispensations; that institutional life which, alone on earth, carries with it the Oil of the Spirit - the perennial fatness of the Olive.** Faith gives a right to the full pulse-beat of the vitality of God, and to the full sap of grace in the oil-ducts of God.
* Our Lord makes it clear (John 8: 39) that Abraham is no father of the Tribes in unbelief.
** It is important to note that the Holy Spirit is dealing, not with the individual believer, his standing and destiny, but the life-stock among the tribes of men, down which travels the regenerations of the Holy Ghost.
So the Church enters; and the
great outstanding fact of our dispensation, a fact which controls the
life-current of two millenniums, and which discloses the danger the Apostle is
handling, is that the Church springs out of the partial ruin of the Jew. When
The Apostle now, therefore, uncovers the danger. If some of the branches were broken off, and thou, being a wild olive, wast grafted in among them, glory not over the branches:* but if thou gloriest - if you assume that the high purposes of election, before times eternal, rejected them for thee - [remember that] it is not thou that bearest the root, but the root thee (Rom. 11: 17). It is not the Patriarchal Faith which is set, as a postscript, to the Church, but the Church which, without the Patriarchs, had never had any existence at all. We are, not stock, only grafts.
* There is immutable election of a believer, but no immutable election of a local assembly, nor of the Catholic Church as an institution on earth. It is only the church of the firstborn in heaven (Heb. 12: 23) which is imperishable.
Apostle foresees the objection still pressed, and definitely crystallized into
a dogma. Thou wilt say then, Branches
were broken off, that I might be grafted in: that is, so exalted is the Church,
so purely a creation of God, so sovereign an election of grace that Israel, in
unbelief, was swept out of our path to make room for us, by decrees of
irresistible grace. The Apostle counters
at once with a pregnant hint, a dawning fear:- Well:* there is truth in what you say,
in substance it is admitted; but remember - by their
unbelief they were broken off - not
by election forcing a path for you - and thou standest
[retainest thy standing] by thy faith. So a fear rises on the horizon. The
*Perhaps the [Greek ] and its context are best rendered in our idiom by Yes, but; or Very well, only remember.
** The inflated self-confidence of
An entirely new horizon thus suddenly broadens on our vision, and a new emotion quickens in the breast, as we listen to this most solemn prophecy. Two extremes, Papalism and hyper-Calvinism, which have united in asserting the absolute indefectibility and ultimate triumph of the Church on earth, both assert the irrevocable super-session of Israel and the unalterable enthronement of the Church; the Roman Catholic meaning the Papal Communion, and the Calvinist the body of Reformed Churches: to both of whom, therefore, the one impossible emotion, the one fundamental betrayal, fear, is exactly what the Apostle now commands. Be not high-minded, but FEAR: for if God spared not the natural branches, neither will He spare thee* - the abnormal branches. The Church is planted in the ruin of the Jew, but identical causes (the Apostle says) can, and will, produce an identical ruin. So far from the Church being an imperishable institution on earth, with an immutable faith guaranteed, and a consequent triumphant future in the world assured, the ruin that befell Israel, if unfaithful, awaits her.**
* In cases where it is supposed a thing actually exists or will exist, the Indicative mood is employed to indicate this. Here evidently the Apostle believes that God would not spare Gentile unbelievers (Moses Stuart).
** It is extraordinarily significant that the Sacerdotalist (e.g., Bishop Wordsworth, a beloved child of God) is totally silent on the passage; the hyper-Calvinist (e.g., Mr. J. N. Darby. a greatly taught saint) denies its application to the true Church in toto; the old-fashioned nonconformist (expecting the conversion of the world) assumes that the danger is surmounted; and the Modernist regards it as a Pauline phantasy: that is, great sections of the Church of God simply refuse the warning. The striking command of God - Fear! - is the one command they find reasons for thinking it to His honour to disobey.
So therefore, lest there be any mistake at all, and to cut off all possible evasion, the Holy Spirit closes in words as specific as they are final. Behold then the goodness and severity of God: toward them that fell, severity - involving excision, amputation, death; but toward thee, Gods goodness, if thou continue in his goodness - both the trust in grace alone, and the corresponding conduct that proves that trust; otherwise, THOU ALSO SHALT BE CUT OFF. Could any word to the Church of Rome, the most powerful Gentile branch ever grafted into the life-stock, be more solemn? In the diverse imagery of the Apocalypse, our Lord Himself states in little the peril which Paul presents here in toto. Remember, therefore, He says to a local church, from whence thou art fallen, and repent: or else I will move thy lampstand out of its place, except thou repent (Rev. 2: 5). If banishment from heaven has happened to one lampstand, with consequent obliteration of that churchs standing on earth, it can happen to many, and could happen to all.
A DYING DISPENSATION
So, then, as we stand on the threshold of the end, there bursts upon us the full significance of this extraordinary prophecy. As the ingrafting of Gentiles was the creation of the Church, so their de-grafting must be the Churchs annihilation. The Church is an amalgam of Jew and Gentile, and if there is no such amalgam, there is no Church. For God to stop converting Gentiles would be a death-blow to all Church expansion; but the peril is greater still the surviving Church itself, if grown infidel, collapses. If we fail to continue in His goodness, not only will Gentile branches cease to be grafted in, but the Gentile branches already in the trunk will be cut off: that is, all missionary activities will cease throughout the world, and the Church at home will become apostate. This is exactly what is beginning to happen. And the unutterably solemn parable of the Olive, the fundamental principle on which the action of God turns throughout, resumes its activity. The call one refuses, another hears; the crown one loses, another gains; the salvation one rejects passes to another; the standing one forfeits, God transfers to others. A socket out of which a branch is wrenched is never left empty. And they also [the normal branches], if they continue not in their unbelief, shall be grafted in. The day rapidly approaches when there will be no churches on earth; when church-standing will have ceased, and individual believers on earth will be pathetic remnants of a ruined dispensation; and a re-engrafted Israel will signal the breaking of the tombs. For if the casting away of them is the reconciling of the world - the possibility of the ingrafting of all races into the life-stock what shall the receiving of them be, but LIFE FROM THE DEAD?* - the burst of resurrection for the Kingdom.
* It is obvious that the two
events are synchronous, for it is at the vision of the descending Christ that
* * *
THE GREAT DEMONIAC
Converging lines of testimony enforce the emphatic statements of our Lord on demoniacal possession. Dr. C. Williams, a mental specialist, says:- I venture to predict that just as scientific men no longer consider it unscientific to admit that people in the body can hypnotize, influence, and control other people in the body, so very shortly it will no longer be considered unscientific to admit that disembodied beings can, and do, act upon and control, in a somewhat similar way, beings in the flesh. I have devoted the very best years of my life to the subject, and have arrived at the conclusion that disembodied beings can, and often do, obsess the fleshly inhabitants who people the earths surface.* A psychical researcher second to none, Mr. F. W. H. Myers, says:- These phenomena of possession are the most amply attested in our whole repertory.** The Christian teacher also grows increasingly conscious of the fact. I have myself become aware, says Canon McClure, of cases which amount to possession, or, at any rate, are alarmingly akin to it. This is a matter which needs to be strongly impressed on people of a morbid curiosity, and on that section of the public who, with a levity that is nothing less than revolting, intrude on regions beset with extreme danger. The dabbler may with ominous facility become a miserable victim; the follower of what he or she thinks to be a fashionable quest is setting out on a path whence the retracing of steps may be found a struggle of terrible intensity.***
* Demoniacal Obsession and Possession, PP. 4.34. ** Human Personality, p. 298. *** Spiritism, p. 8.
Now our Lord pictures this generation - the moral generation that is running still, and which will not pass until the Second Advent (Matt. 24: 34)* - as a demoniac; laying bare, in a few drastic touches, the history of two thousand years. The forecast falls into three stages. In the first stage, the world is sunk in barbarity and world-wide paganism, and filled with an evil, restless, cruel spirit. Then our Lord appeared. The first influence of Christ was marvellous. The bitter, blood-thirsty spirit of the world gave place to a profession of the Christian Faith; its fiercely evil dispositions went out and in place of idolatry, gross ignorance, and vice, there gradually arose reason, and science, and literature, and civilization - all was swept and garnished. But there was one fatal defect. It was also empty; empty of its old vices, but also empty of God: and finally, back into the old emptiness comes, in the last days, an idolatry, a blood-thirstiness, a vice sevenfold more awful than anything the old world has ever known. A wicked generation fits itself for seven spirits more wicked. EVEN so also shall it be unto this evil generation (Matt. 12: 45).
*For this use of generation, see DAWN, vol. 3, P. 26.
But the narrative, which in neither Gospel is called a parable, also foreshadows literal fact. Not only did the presence of Christ, and not His word only, silence and expel demons wherever He arrived, but the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, and His arrival anywhere with the Gospel since, has invariably silenced oracles, paralyzed demonism, destroyed witchcraft, and dispossessed demoniacs. But, so far as the generation in general is concerned, it is reformation, not regeneration; it is a swept house, but an empty house; the first vile disposition has gone out, but God has not come in: in the awful picturing of our Lord, it is the lucid interval of a demoniac. Thus he saith, I will return - this proves that he had never been cast out by Christ, for our Lords ejections were final; go out, and enter no more into him (Mark 9: 17) - to my house whence I came out. The forecast corresponds exactly with past history and present experience. It has been put thus:- There are, roughly speaking three ages of man - the barbaric, the civilized, and the decadent; and in the first and third of these occultism is invariably present. There is no savage tribe that does not believe in it; there is no large modern society in which it is not practised. The Melanesians and the Red Indians at one end, modern Parisians and a large section of Londoners at the other, different in all else - in their vices, their philosophy, their manner of life - are united in this. And the actual thing is coming, and now hovers over the world. And the great dragon was cast down TO THE EARTH, and his angels were cast down with him (Rev. 12: 9).
So then we learn what kind of
generation Satan will find on his final descent. When he
is come, he findeth it empty, swept, and
garnished; all which had happened in his absence - moral reformation
without spiritual regeneration. Not only
is the restless spirit gone, but the house, emptied of its first wickedness, is
open, free of access to any evil, unguarded, in a false security; it has been swept, cleaned up of old vices -
without a tenant, and yet ripe for one; and garnished, made pleasant with a measure of
sobriety, truthfulness, business honesty, and general uprightness of conduct,
and an art, a science, a culture unknown in the history of mankind. But as it is with the unregenerate
individual, so it is with an unregenerate generation. All unregenerate civilization is but a
garnished palace for the habitation of devils, even as all seven deadly sins overpower the soul that is abandoned
to Hell. Even the shrewd man of the
world forecasts it:-
We are threatened to-day with the
possibility of a reversion to barbarism, with all the resources of science,
skill, and modem knowledge used to carry out the aims of the wild beasts of the
jungle and of the untutored savage. All
the long ages through which man has been struggling to gain knowledge, to
substitute law for anarchy, have had no other purpose (it would seem) than to
bring the race back to a barbarism more awful than that from which, with
infinite effort, it has been slowly emerging. The founder of modern military science, Clausewitz, says:- Should barbarity again be thought
advantageous, it should be resorted to without compunction, with the murder of civilians
and the burning of churches.
The collapse of civilization, now so dreaded by all the statesmen of the
world, our Lord foretold two thousand years ago. And the lawyers of the world add their
warning. Before the jurists of twenty
nations in the International Law Association at
So the sevenfold possession now approaches. Then goeth he and taketh with himself seven other spirits more evil than himself: and the last state of that man becometh worse than the first. It is worse from every point of view. Its emptiness is its peril. As Dr. R. H. Glover says:- It must be kept in mind that the ever-widening open door which we rejoice in for missionary effort, is no less an open door for the devils forces, and he is taking fullest advantage of his opportunity, and is importing into these lands in a steady stream all the moral vices of a godless civilization, all the deadly poison of perverted religions, and all the subtle fallacies of modern cults. The sweeping and the garnishing have proved a failure; there is less hope now even for reformation, because truths that have once lost their power rarely move a soul again; the old disposition has never been eradicated, and now fresh and fiercer outbursts of evil, never experienced before, burst up like volcanoes in the heart. It is one of the most appalling facts about sin that we cannot stop it when we wish. The slavery of the demoniac is a God-given picture of the final thraldom of sin, and the fearful demon-controlled world that approaches. With these disclosures, the control had commenced a system of almost diabolical torture. It would, for instance, arouse him in the middle of the night and rehearse to him the immoral deeds and unclean thoughts of his past life; repeating the story over and over again, and driving him almost to distraction. At another time it would, in some very plausible and dangerous manner, show its power over his physical organs, and only desist after he had fully admitted his own helplessness, and his utter inability to resist the extraordinary invasion.* As even our Lords exorcisms were ultimately futile because they received not Himself, so the heavenly expulsions of the Gospel have but expanded the powers of an un-God-possessed generation, making it capable of vast extensions and refinements of iniquity.
* Geoffrey Rauperts Dangers of Spiritualum, p. 87.
Thus the key to world-progress
is the disablement of Satan and the Saviour foreshadows the great triumph when,
a demon having been expelled, He says:- If I by the finger of God cast out
demons, then is the Kingdom of God come upon you (Luke 11: 20). The fatal obstacle to
the Kingdom (as He immediately adds) is the Strong Spirit, armed with invisible
legions, who holds his palace - the world - undisturbed, unmolested: therefore
only by a personal encounter between Himself and Satan, a death-grapple, and a
shackling of the Usurper, can the Lord Jesus divide his spoils (Luke 11: 2) - overthrow his world-dominion; in the day when Christ shall divide the spoil with the strong (Isa. 53: 12) - the fellows of the Christ (Heb. 1: 9) who enter on world -
rule by overcoming strength. And I saw an angel having a great
chain in his hand, and he bound Satan (Rev.
20: 1); and immediately the
* Presumably all other evil spirits are incarcerated with Satan
in the Abyss. In
that day I will cause the unclean spirit to pass out of the land [earth] (Zech. 13: 2). It was to the Abyss that they even then
expected to be sent (Luke 8: 31) when they encounted our Lord at the first Advent. How increasingly invisible spirits are
pushing men into crime is evident on the confession of criminals
tried for days, says Paul Gorguloff, the murderer of the French President, M. Doumer, to ward off the evil spirit which constantly urged me on to
murder. Silvester Matuska, the Hungarian who wrecked a
* * *
THE CRUCIFIED THREE
By ROBERT GOVETT.
Amidst the circumstances of our Lords crucifixion, the account of the two dying robbers* stands conspicuous. We will give it in the Evangelists own words:-
[*They are commonly called the two thieves, but this gives a mistaken idea of their crime. It was open armed robbery; and the translators have, in some instances, rendered it robber. Now Barabbas was a robber. So John 10: 1, 8. (Thus our Lord was actually executed with armed bandits, or what we now call gunmen, or gangsters. - D. M. Panton.)]
And one of the malefactors which were hanged, railed on him, saying, If thou be the Christ, save thyself and us. But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not even thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss. And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest in* thy kingdom. And Jesus said unto him, Verily, I say unto thee, to-day shalt thou be with me in paradise (Luke 23: 39-43)
[* (See the Greek.) Not into but in thy kingdom, as it is rightly translated in Matthew 16: 28.]
The impenitent robber is first presented to our notice. He taunts the crucified Jesus with his weakness. If thou be the Messiah, save thyself and us. With the rest of his, countrymen, he expects that the Messiah should at once display himself in his royal majesty and power. He argues, that he, therefore, is no Messiah, who could submit to such treatment. How can you be the long-expected King, and tamely submit to your foes? Have not the prophets foretold Messiah as the Mighty One treading the winepress in his, fury, and stained with the blood of his enemies? Who then can believe that thou art aught but an impostor, if thou so weakly submit thyself to death?
The man of unbelief knows no higher salvation than rescue from the death of the world. His eye is upon this life only, and could he escape from the grasp of punishment now fixed upon him, he would be content. Unchanged of heart, he would be off to his den and his ambush, his oaths and dice, his quarrels and debauchery, and midnight carousals again. Death is before him, and heavy guilt upon him, but neither awes him Pain and anguish are eating into his soul, but he will jest in despite of them, and his jest shall be at the expense of a fellow-sufferer.
He was brought into a situation the most thrilling and subduing that could be devised. Death was assailing him, on the one hand, and the Messiah, the Lord of Life, was on the other - the one frowning him into terror, the Other inviting him with the meekness of mercy. In what more startling, challenging position could the soul of man be placed? He stands like a mariner on a narrow rock, the breakers dashing over him their spray, ready with lion-leap to drag him down to the deeps of ocean; but reined in a moment to spare him on his slippery foot-hold, to see if he will step on board the gallant vessel alongside, that has breasted the storm to save him. He spurns it away with his foot, and sinks into the billows!
Trust not, sinner, to a death-bed hour! Pain has no power to change a man, nor death to convert. As the robber lived, he died. Jesus is close to him, Gods well-beloved Son. But he demands of him a proof never to be given, before he will believe in him. If thou be the Christ. He avows his unbelief, and perishes. He that believeth not, shall be damned!
But turn we joyfully to the penitent, or rather the believing robber. Let us listen to his reproof of his comrade. If the multitude around us, who are better men than we are, and in no danger of death, can afford to reproach Jesus the Nazarite, yet ought not you nor I. A sense of the nearness of judgment and of death should at least restrain your tongue. Experience of the agonies which you are suffering, should teach you compassion toward one in like case. Fear you not the wrath of God too much to utter reproach? When Death knocks at the door, is it a time to jeer at another? Doth he not say Look to yourself Such is the tenor of his speech. In it we may observe,
First - The fear of God; Dost not even thou fear God?
Secondly - Confession of guilt. He was a sinner, and he knew it: he was a great sinner, and he confesses it. We are receiving the due reward of what we have done. Here is no excuse for his sins, no attempt to diminish his guilt: he had deserved death, and he acknowledges it.
Thirdly - There is also an assertion of the innocence of Jesus. This man hath done nothing amiss. All around were reviling the Lord of glory, but the robber defends his character. Pilate had condemned him on the charge of sedition, Caiaphas on the charge of blasphemy, but the believing robber affirms his purity. It was needful. Only a spotless sacrifice can atone for crimson crimes. Only a High Priest untainted with sins of his own, can enter the presence of the Majesty on high, to be accepted for us.
But the best part of his words has yet to be
noticed. He had rebuked his fellow, and maintained to him the character
of Jesus. But many can set others right, who go wrong themselves: many
know the way of life, who perseveringly walk the broad road of destruction.
But the believing robber turns to Jesus: turns to him in prayer.
Lord, remember me when thou comest in thy kingdom! Thus does he
acknowledge Jesus to be Messiah, the King of
But what answer did this appeal draw from the Lord Jesus?
Caiaphas and his witnesses had accused, and Jesus was
silent. Pilate had questioned, and Jesus held his peace. He
had jestingly inquired - What is truth? but no answer was given. The
unbelieving robber scoffs, and Jesus is mute. But faith speaks, and Jesus cannot forbear. Faith prays, and the
reply comes instantly. Do you pray, reader. Have you ever
prayed? You may have said your prayers, but have you ever prayed to the sufferer on the cross of
And Jesus said unto him, To-day shalt thou he with me in paradise.*
You have asked me for a distant blessing, you have requested mercy when my kingdom comes, and I shall shine forth in the clouds with my saints. An unknown time must elapse before that. But I promise you a place with my saints and with myself this very day. To-day your soul will have left the body: the executioners hammer will hasten your death before the usual term of the decease of the crucified. Thus is the robbers petition more than answered: paradise [in Hades] his portion at death, and eternal life when resurrection unites the soul and body.
Behold in this picture the mercy of God: willingness to save to the uttermost. That none might doubt the power of Jesus to pardon sin, this dying robber was forgiven. He was one trebly condemned: condemned first by the law of Rome, as seditious and a murderer; condemned next by the law given to Noah Whoso sheddeth mans blood, by man shall his blood be shed; condemned, thirdly, by the law of Moses, and now under its very curse, for Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree. Here is one too bad for human society. Though earth be full of evil, here is one too bad for earth. Sinner, let the dying robber speak to you a burning, thrilling word on Gods readiness to forgive the worst that comes to him through Christ Jesus! The gore-dyed bandit is saved at the last hour. In the morning a murderer, by noon a reviler of the Saviour,* before eve an accepted saint, at midnight in paradise.
[* Matthew 27: 44; Mark 15: 32.]
The Saviours forgiveness is instant his promises are immediate To-day shalt thou be with me in paradise. He does not, with the Romanist, bid him faintly hope, that by the fire of purgatory, his sins might perhaps, after some hundreds or thousands of years, be purged away. No perhaps, no if, no conditions dim the glory of the pardon. He believes, he is forgiven! No more is needed for forgiveness. JESUS ATONES. Gods justice is satisfied in him. To him that believes mercy is free, frank, instantaneous. And when he saw their faith, he said unto the sick of the palsy, Man, thy sins are forgiven thee!
This mercy is not such as man would have proclaimed. Had the moralist been in Jesus place, his reply would have been far different. Would he not have said, Forgive you, vile ruffian, with the purple stain of murder upon your breast? You, grim outlaw, that have mocked at justice, till it has overtaken you with its richly merited arrest of death? Mercy were outraged by such a grant! Or if we suppose one of milder mood, a preacher who thinks that man is to be accepted before God by his deeds, could he, on his principles, have given such an one any hope? Here was no time for reformation, no opening for recovering the bandit to virtuous habits, and the slowly won respect and confidence of his fellows, by an amended life. Here was no opportunity for reparation; no good works, as a set-off in his favour, were here. Slow justice has at length fixed on him her stern death-grip. Blood for blood! Who shall wrench him from her iron hand? from the grasp of a death-warrant signed and sealed both by God and man?
Many a one that bears the name of Christian, had he been consulted, would have besought the Lord to leave him to his fate Nay, Lord, save not such a ruffian! Keep thy mercy the respectable of society, for the kind and gentle, the generous, the warm-hearted. This sinner, Lord, is too great! Forgive him not, lest thy mercy be presumed upon, and transgressors are emboldened thereby to sin. But Jesus halts not. The mercy of God is not mans narrowed thought. It is high above ours, as the heaven above the earth.
With such an example before you, sinner, say not My sins are too great. I am all unworthiness. True, you are so, but you could not be saved, if you were not unworthy. Christ came not to call the righteous. Is not worthiness out of the question, when a gibbeted felon at his last hour is saved?
Yes, mighty were thy sins, thou man of blood and rapine! But was not thy Saviour mightier? Foul the stains of thy inky breast, but the Lamb of God - didst thou not find him able to purge them away? Innocent blood cried out against thee for death; what could silence the accusing voice? what but the blood that speaketh better things than Abels?
But do you ask, How was he saved? This scene informs us well, both how he was not saved, and how he was.
1. It is evident that he was not saved by works. Up to his last hour he was stained with guilt. Till his hands were nailed, his feet knit to the cursed cross-beams, he had used his members only for evil. If God judges men, as many fancy, according to their works, putting the good deeds in one scale, the evil in another, the bandit before us could not be saved. He received eternal life then, not from his merits. His deserts were far different. The wages of sin is death, but the [free]* gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
[* Rom. 6: 23, R.V.]
2. Again, some will tell you, that salvation lies in the mysterious virtue of the sacraments. At baptism, they say, the new life is imparted; and the Lords Supper, duly received, fans the sacred flame. Before baptism, no one is regenerate and born anew; after it, when administered in due form and order, all are. How, then, was the unbaptized robber rescued from eternal death? How did he take his place among the saints, who had never tasted the sacrament of Christs body?
3. Others, again, think, that by repentance we are saved: meaning, thereby, great anguish and sorrow for sin. They suppose that it makes up a part of the reason why God forgives, and that, till it is paid, the sinner is not fit to come. Where do you find it here? None can be saved without repentance, in the Scripture sense, of a changed heart and mind, but here, and in the Philippian jailor, behold one saved by faith, without any recorded anguish for sin; and, therefore, I prefer calling him the believing robber, to the title usually given him the penitent thief.
But while we have seen how he was not saved, we can behold, in this mirror of God, how he was saved:‑. He was saved by faith, manifesting itself in prayer For, whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. And he called upon the name of the Lord, and found the Holy One true.
2. He is saved by faith in Jesus as the Messiah - Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: 1 John 5: 1. He was saved by faith in the resurrection of Jesus, and confession of him - the terms mentioned by Paul If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shall be saved: (Rom. 10: 9).
Mark, I beseech you, that Jesus is the turning point of salvation: to receive him (in whatever weakness) is life, to reject him is eternal death. The Saviour was presented to both alike, but one only was saved. One only looked to the brazen serpent, and was healed. Before both the ark of mercy stood open, but, though the floods of death were out, and the curse begun, but one entered in. But one waked the joy of angels.
How, then, do you stand? Do you most resemble the believing robber or the unbelieving one? How do you regard Jesus? This is the core of the matter. Is he your hope - your mediator with the Father - your door of entrance the Most High? I am the door, through me if any man enter in, he shall be saved. Have you ever, like the saved bandit, turned to him in prayer? Having neglected to do it hitherto, ARE YOU WILLING TO GO NOW? A prayer, as short and simple as the robbers, will suffice Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.
Who is this that thus forgives crimes uncounted; that while himself numbered with the transgressors, and under the heavy pall and darkness of the curse, dispenses pardon? It is the Son of Man, made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death, that he, by the grace of God, should taste death for every man. It is the Son of God, that opens and none shuts, that has the key of hell and of death, that even on earth hath power to forgive sins. Did Jesus save while on the cross, when the dark shadow of sins eclipse was covering the orb of the Sun of Righteousness? At the lowest point of his humiliation, does he dispense pardon to the most guilty? Then how much more, now that fully acquitted of the Father, he is seated at the right hand of the Majesty on high! Here is a Saviour able to deliver, though justice had pierced with her nails the forfeit body of the culprit-robber, and clenched with indignant hammer his guilty members to her stern weapon of death. Here is one that saves, not only without merit, but against it, that plucks from the very grasp of the strong and holy law. Here is one that saves, not after years of sorrow, and amended life, but at the first lispings of the returning prodigal. Sinner, will you venture? Will you try his mercy? Is not this the Saviour that you need? The Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.
Good news, sinner! Will you trust it? The plank is nigh thee, drowning mariner! Wilt thou cast thyself upon it, ere the flood engulf thee? The avenger is behind thee! Lo, the gates of the city of refuge! Is not safety within its walls? Enter and rejoice!
* * *
THE GLORIES OF
As hate of the Jew universally deepens, and his unrelaxing tenacity of lucre never ceases to provoke it, we are naturally challenged to know what is unchangeable in Israels destiny, and the more so as Gods wrath has yet to search more fiercely the Wandering Tribes; and so it is very wonderful that no sooner has Paul scaled the Mount Everest of the Churchs heavenly heights, than he turns (Rom. 9: 3-5) to portray the indestructible foundations, the inextinguishable glories, of the People on earth. These glories are (in their very nature) eternal, and are expressed as permanent by the present tense; they are all matters of historic fact, and so indisputable they are unique; they are all spiritual, but all on earth though in abeyance, they are unforfeitable; and while all infer Jehovahs unchanging blessing, one - the promises explicitly reveals a Destiny of eternal bliss. These titles of dignity are testimonies of love (Calvin).
1. - ISRAELITES. It is high praise
from the Son of God when He says:- Behold, an Israelite indeed! (John 1: 47).
2. - THE ADOPTION. The Church receives an
adoption as sons (Gal. 4: 5);
3. - THE GLORY. Gods
Shekinah Fires never dwelt in the midst of any nation except
4. - THE COVENANTS. Apart from Noah, God has never entered into a covenant with any man but a Jew. Eight covenants were made with Abraham; one with Moses; at least two with Israel; and the New Covenant, the blood of which has been shed (Luke 22: 20), and the ministers of which have been appointed (2 Cor. 3: 6), has yet to be made with the Houses of Israel and Judah (Heb. 8: 8).
5. - THE LAW. Jehovahs descent in
person on Sinai, with a Decalogue written by the fingers of Deity, is a unique
6. - THE WORSHIP. Jew means praise; and
Gods liturgy, the sole mode of ritual access into His presence under the Law,
was revealed to the Jew only. If thou bearest the name of a Jew, [thou] restest upon the law, and gloriest in God, and
knowest His will, being instructed out of the law (Rom. 2: 17). All heathen worship - at its best, a wreck of
unrecoverable primitive revelation; at its worst, an inspiration of demons and
a fraudulent priesthood - worships it knows
not what (John 4: 22). The host of
7. - THE PROMISES. All
promises avant-couriers of the favours themselves - are held in
germ in one promise to Abraham:- In thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed
(Gen. 22: 18). Thy seed is a Jew: whether, therefore, by way of
circumcision, or through faith, salvation is of the Jews, because salvation is
from a Jew. So also the promise of the
Spirit was first given to the Jew (Gal.
3: 14; Acts 2: 39). Nearly the whole of
the promises relating to the
8. - THE FATHERS. Gods providence never
leaves the Jew because His love never leaves their fathers. Because
He loved thy fathers, therefore He chose their seed after
them (Deut. 4: 37). No man ever gave God a name but a Jew: He is
not known as the God of Adam, or the God of Noah; but - I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac,
and the God of Jacob (Ex. 3: 6). No nation ever had divine priests but
9. - THE CHRIST. In
It is painfully true (as Paul is
compelled to say later) that the higher the pedestal, the deeper the guilt, and
* * *
WORLD REFORM AND
The modern world is making a desperate attempt to put itself right. The Disarmament Conference, which the Times (Mar. 18, 1932) pronounces perhaps the largest international Conference of Governments ever held, is a stupendous proof. Delegates from 64 nations are assembled, representing 1,700,000,000 of mankind. The disarmament declaration, the greatest public petition ever addressed to the rulers of the world, carries 2,071,944 signatures; and the 8,000,000 petitions in general, from all over the earth, are signed by 2o,000,000. A veritable geographical film, says an eyewitness, unrolled itself in the Delegations issuing from the fine new station, all day long. Ethiopians moved across the screen, Turkish Beys from Angora, Russians came from Moscow; Dutchmen, South Americans, noblemen from Persia and princes from Siam, while the Balkan States, the Italians and the Norse peoples came in with Portugal and Spain, Haiti and Liberia.
* A document signed (among others) by the Archbishop of Canterbury (Dr. Davidson), Dr. F. B. Meyer, a Unitarian, a Theosophist, and a Jesuit, says (Times, Feb. 23, 1918):- In the name of the Prince of Peace we would call on Christian people at large openly to welcome a Lague of Nations that shall have power to constrain by economic pressure or armed force.
World reform insists on judicial equity and administrative
* The enforcement of righteousness is terrible:- their flesh shall consume away while they stand upon their feet, and their eyes shall consume away in their sockets, and their tongue shall consume away in their mouth (Zech. 14: 12).
World reform lays an immense
emphasis on environment. The doctrine of environment, as Dr. Campbell Morgan says, had its death-blow in the Garden of Eden; man is
made or unmade from inside, not outside (Mark
7: 15): nevertheless a changed environment - in a lifted curse,
vanished disease, and an imprisoned Hell - is
essential for human bliss. (1) Men of science say that the tigers
fangs and claws are not original, but acquired: certain it is that a
restoration of the conditions of
World reform works for universal education; but the education
of God begins with the heart: so the
earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord - that is, saving knowledge - as completely as the
ocean covers the sea-basin and He will destroy the veil that is spread over all
nations (Isa. 25: 7).*
2 Cor. 4: 3, 4. Thus the Kingdom starts wholly regenerate:
its kings - the co-heirs of Christ, saints of tried ability and tested
holiness; its viceroys -
* In answer to an inquiry
by Augustine Birrell,
John Morley stated that he did not
remember a single occasion on which the Cabinet had considered any measure from
the Christian standpoint. We learn from
this how ineffective, though sincere, is the sentiment of a
reform agitates for disarmament with profound conviction. It has been pointed out at the Disarmament
Conference that £2,600,000 are spent daily in preparation for war: what
could this not alleviate, poured through the poverty of the world! But the controversy between God and the
nations over the crucifixion of the Son of God has never been settled:- there is no peace to the wicked, saith my God (Isa. 57: 21;
Rev. 6: 4; Jer. 25: 27, 28). Regeneration is the sole secret of
disarmament, and a regenerated world can only be made of regenerated men. Philosophers (it has been said) are too apt to forget that their plans are laid for a race
of logical, reasonable, faultless creatures, but they must be worked out by a
seething, struggling rabble of capricious, weak, and roguish schemers and
dreamers, whose principles are wax, whose blood is hot, and whose very breath
of life is folly. Whence come wars and whence come fightings among you?
Come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in
your members? (Jas. 4: 1). The sword is first forged in an evil heart:
wrench it out of the hand, and the heart only forges another. But when the true
It is a fact which illuminates the whole problem as with a lightning-flash that the noun regeneration occurs only twice in Scripture: once of the human individual (Titus 3: 3, 5), and once of the human community (Matt. 19: 28): both, therefore, are the effects of the action of God, and both are changes so transcendent as to be, spiritually, new creations. Men seek to create the Golden Age by legislative enactments or social reconstruction or economic revolution: God will create it by angelic agency introducing a regenerate humanity under the control of a Divine government; IN THE REGENERATION, when the Son of man shall sit on the throne of his glory (Matt. 19: 28). It will be, in reality, what John Bright saw, in vision:- It may be but a vision, but I will cherish it; I see one vast federation stretch from the frozen north in unbroken line to the glowing south, and from the wild billows of the Atlantic westward to the calmer waters of the Pacific main. And I see one people and one language, and one law and one faith, and over all that white continent the home of freedom and a refuge for the oppressed of every race and every clime.
* * *
By EDGAR E. H. KING
The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto Him, to shew unto His servants things which must shortly come to pass, is unique. THE SOUNDEST EXPOSITORS OF THE APOCALYPSE (unveiling) ARE THE OLD AND NEW TESTAMENTS AND THE HOLY SPIRIT. Inversely, if the book be rightly expounded it illuminates the whole Bible, for it is the clasp which grips the threads of unfulfilled prophecy.
The first three chapters of the book consist of seven letters, personally addressed to the angel (chief pastor I presume) of the local church, but generally addressed to the church itself (Rev. 2: 7; 1: 11). Since the letters are not addressed to congregations, but to churches, the warnings are to Christians. Some of the warnings are very grave.
Prophecy fills the remaining chapters. Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand (Rev. 1: 3).
Literal and Future
This prophecy is literal, and therefore future. Miracle is the great agent fulfilling the purposes of God, for the time is short both for Satan (Rev. 12: 12) and for God. Are the plagues of this book literal? It says:- For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book (Rev. 22: 18). Since the plagues are a threatened punishment to the individual, it logically follows that they must be literal. Do the men of that day recognize the plagues to be miracle? They are so convinced that a miracle-working God is at war with them that they cry out for annihilation by miracle, saying to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of Him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb (Rev. 6: 16).
The Throne of God dominates the whole book, as it will dominate the universe when the book of God is fulfilled. In the midst of the throne and round about the throne are four living creatures. These are the Cherubim, described in Isaiah and Ezekiel, and they represent the animate creation, being always found with the august assembly of the throne of God. They rest not day and night, saying, Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come (Rev. 4: 8). The four and twenty elders (kings of angels) fall down before the sitter on the throne, casting their crowns before Him in worship (Rev. 4: 11). Round about the throne are ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands of angels (Rev. 5: 2). The personal agent of the throne is the Divine Son of God. In various rules He directs the activities of Heaven on behalf of Almighty God. Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power (Rev. 5: 12). As the mystery of God (Rev. 10: 7) vanishes He is revealed as the Word of God (Rev. 19: 13), leading the armies of Heaven as King of kings and Lord of lords (Rev. 19: 16), in the great day of vengeance of God Almighty. The Holy Spirit is represented before the throne as Seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God (Rev. 4: 5). Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, men and angels all appear as the servants of God. The Church is not mentioned in the prophecy of this book, and the figure of the Bride, used in the Pauline epistles to represent the church, is herein used to represent a city (Rev. 21: 9, 10). How will you fare, Christian brother, in that day when you will be regarded as the servant of God? Behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be (Rev. 22: 12; 2 Cor. 5: 10).
First Men in Heaven
The latter half of the seventh chapter describes the first great company of the saved in Heaven (Rev. 7: 10, 14). There is no incident before the catching away of these from earth to Heaven, for John beheld them already in Heaven. Secret rapture had taken place (this incident is, of course, still future) in the twinkling of an eye. Behold I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame (Rev. 16: 15).
Earth a Sacrifice
Casting of fire upon the earth (Rev. 8: 5), and the sounding of trumpets (Rev. 8: 2, 7), is most grave, for God is regarding earth as a burnt offering (2 Chron. 29: 27-29), great sections being destroyed. This foreshadows the greater eternal sacrifice - the lake of fire (Rev. 20: 13-15; Rev. 21: 8).
Empire of Sin
Satan is cast down to the earth (Rev. 12: 9). This results in the empire of sin. All secret tactics on the part of Satan are thrown aside in his desperate bid for world supremacy in the short time (Rev. 12: 12) left. Miracle is at Satans right hand (Rev. 13: 13-15). The man of sin (2 Thess. 2: 3) who is the wild beast (Rev. 13: 2), in whose mouth is blasphemy (Rev. 13: 5-6), is worshipped world-wide (2 Thess. 2: 4). UPON THIS AWFUL SCENE DESCENDS CHRIST WITH HEAVENS ARMIES (Rev. 19: 11-21).
cast into the abyss (Rev. 20: 1-3), for the kingdom of this world is become that of our
Lord and of His Christ (Rev. 11: 15).
How characteristic of our Heavenly Father that the closing chapters of this book should say of the redeemed God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes, and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away (Rev. 21: 4). Surely I come quickly. Even so come Lord Jesus (Rev. 22: 20).
* * *
Our Lord on Olivet
Our Lords great prophecy, evoked by questions that embraced the world, covers, as we should therefore expect, the totality of mankind; for it unfolds, in three deeply serrated sections, the destiny of the three inspired divisions of mankind - THE JEWS, THE GENTILES, AND THE CHURCH OF GOD (1 Cor. 10: 32), all of whom remain in the world up to the closing of the Age. Four is the world-number (Dan. 7: 2, 3; Rev. 7: 1, 9, etc.): so four apostles are selected to receive and transmit this world-utterance; and the revelation is fourfold, revealing, in answer to the disciples first question (1) the destiny of the Temple, and the extinction of the Legal Age; and then, in answer to their two further questions, the destiny of (2) the Jew, (3) the Church, and (4) the Gentile:- thus covering all nations and tribes and peoples and tongues.
Thus each main section, radically distinct from the rest, is peculiarly characteristic of the group of mankind whose destiny it reveals. In the Jewish and Gentile sections all is literal - in the Church section all is figurative: words of sight, not faith, occur in the Jewish and Gentile sections, and their signs are signs obvious to the senses, for they walk by sight, not faith; whereas the signs presented to the Church are, as throughout Scripture, moral: in the Jewish and Gentile sections no reference is made to servants, for Gods servants in this Age are Christian: and lessons are drawn for the Apostles in the Church section only, for it alone concerns them and us. All three sections are radically distinct in phraseology and theological import.
Matt. 24: 7-31. Thus, after the first question of the apostles has been met by the announcement of the Roman destruction (Matt. 24: 1-6), and separated by a great gulf from the rest But the End [concerning which the disciples asked, the consummation of the Age] is not yet; the Jewish section - uttered for them that are in Judea (24: 16) - at once deals with a literal holy place, or rebuilt temple; salvation is used in the sense of physical deliverance; the Gospel named is the Gospel of the Kingdom; escape is by physical flight to the mountains; prayer is to be offered that the sabbath be not violated by the flight falling on that day; false Christs are especially emphasized, for the Jew is still in danger from messiahs in inner chambers; and the tribes of the land, beholding Messiahs descent in glory, and penitent, are gathered as Gods earthly elect, not from Heaven, but from the four winds. All is Jewish throughout.
Matt. 24: 32, 33; 25: 30. The Church section is wholly diverse. Parables immediately begin, and compose the
whole section; for to us it is given to know the mysteries of the
Kingdom. Thus the first section is local, and directed to
Matt. 25: 31-46. The Gentile section gives the last act of the old Age before the actual establishment of the Kingdom, and covers the last remaining portion of mankind at the End. It is wholly silent on the Church, and its reference to the Jew - the least brethren - is veiled: in it all the nations - the mass of Gentiles - are gathered before Christ. In all three sections Christ appears in His universal title as Son of Man; and, in the Jewish section, as Son of Man only; but in the Christian, as Lord of the Household, and also as Bridegroom; and in the Gentile, as King, and as a King unknown (25: 37) to the Gentile world. So for the Gentile alive at the Advent, saved in a later epoch, and elect from the foundation of the world (25: 34), unlike the Church elect before (Eph. 1: 4), judgment is not by faith, but by a law of works inasmuch as ye did it; but it is neither the Law of Moses, nor works done after faith in Christ; but a law of works peculiar to the Gentile world immediately before the Advent, and based upon Christ as the Jehovah of the Jews. All is Gentile throughout.
Thus our Lord, as Universal Prophet, unfolds the destiny of all mankind; the faithful Israelite finding safety in the wilderness, the watchful believer finding safety in rapture, and the redeemed Gentile finding safety through his kindness to the Jew. To each group our Lord portrays its peculiar peril, and reveals its sole avenue of escape: (1) for the Jew, instantaneous flight, on a given signal; (2) for the Christian, perpetual watchfulness and prayer for ripeness to be reaped; and (3) for the Gentile, grace shown to the miraculously gifted (Mark 13: 11) ambassadors of Israel, which Christ will accept as grace shown to Himself. Worldwide questions, covering the time of the End, our Lord thus answers by revealing the destiny of the whole world at the consummation of the Age.
* * *
THE GOSPEL - A PERSON
AND AN ACT
By D. M. PANTON, B.A.
The Letter to the Hebrew Christians is a blaze of light on the great Blood-offering of Calvary, the old-time symbols of which were given to the Jew alone, and the divinest treatise on which ever given is again delivered to Hebrews; and in the forefront of it, facing all that follows, is set the Gospel summarized as a Person and an act. The Gospel could not be put more briefly, nor more pregnantly; and its extraordinary simplicity, making it so easy to accept, is only matched by its background of transcendent wonder.
The Apostle first presents the Person who is held up to the gaze of humanity; and there opens before our sight as lofty and shining a table-land as any ever given of the original Deity of Christ. Five great characteristics embody Him. (1) Heir of all things (Heb. 1: 2), appointed so originally, before creation, as the Infinite Son for an infinite inheritance; He is already Omega, before ever we see Him as Alpha: (2) through whom also he made the worlds - for no world was ever made that was not made by Christ: (3) the effulgence of his glory - the flashing forth, the coming into sight, of God: (4) the very image of his substance - the perfect, not the imperfect, presentation of what God actually is: (5) upholding all things by the word of his power - no Atlas staggering under the dead weight of a world, but the enormous upthrust that keeps the whole universe in motion and life. What a Person! It is an absolute affirmation of the original Godhead, of our Lord.
The Apostle next lifts up a
solitary act:- when he
had PURGED OUR SINS - when
He had made purification for (no article) sins - all sins, of all men - sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high. The Person is revealed as infinite and Divine: the act, in startling contrast, is the act of a
dying man. Since expiation must be in
the nature that sinned, expiation by angel or animal, for human sin, would be
legally worthless, and a pure fiction;* therefore sin could not be purged, except by a man: on the other hand, it is only because He is
God that Christs blood-offering can save - not a man, but man. It is an
infinite Person as a substitute for all but infinite sin. So, with this in view, all our Lords life on
earth shrinks and shrivels into a single act.
* A striking proof of this lies in the fact that while the entire sin is purged of the humanity He took, the sin of evil angels remains un-expiated to this day; for verily not of angels doth he take hold, to make propitiation for sins (Heb. 2: 16 17).
But the problem is still transcendently greater. Did the Incarnation impair or alter the Divine Sonship; or only enrich it? For as we ponder the Person and the act, it dawns upon us that the crux of the Gospel is not the act, but the Person. None but God manifest in the flesh could be a substitute for the whole world. For we can imagine a thousand men banding themselves together to die for humanity, yet the effect is nil, for they are sinners themselves; and we could conceive of a sinless man - like Adam before the Fall - offering himself, but none such has ever existed, for sin is hereditary and has blighted the entire race. So the crux of the Gospel is, Who was it that offered himself for the purgation of sin? and is He God manifest in the flesh from first to last? For a work so gigantic the problem is not whether Jesus has an equal or superior on earth, but whether in all the universe, in fathomless space where are the highest created intelligences, is He who was made a little lower than the angels (Heb. 2: 7) the Sacrifice, nevertheless, on the cross of absolute Deity?
So therefore the Spirit swings the searchlight of God through the most distant worlds, to show that through all their invisible legions there is no equal or superior Christ - nay, no other Christ; for He is now the Eternal Son in whom is eternal Deity; and so all the quotations that follow carefully deal with Christ after His life on earth is over. And the first is this. For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art MY SON, this day have I begotten thee? On this passage Paul says (Acts 13: 33):- God hath fulfilled the same, in that he raised up Jesus. The resurrection (it has been said) was Gods Amen to the cry - It is finished. Before the Incarnation Jesus was the only begotten Son - a Sonship therefore unique, eternal, divine which is in the bosom of the Father (John 1: 18); during His earthly life, after birth of the Virgin, three times God spoke audibly out of heaven, saying - This is my Son; and, once more, by the act of resurrection Jesus was constituted Son of God in power (Rom. 1: 4). In this name there is a depth of significance, a height of dignity, and a fulness of glory of which at present we have little or no conception (W. Jones).
The Spirit now mounts to a still higher plateau, And when he again bringeth in the firstborn - that is, the first Man ever to rise in the power of an endless life - into the world - again, that is, at the Second Advent - he saith, And let all the angels of God WORSHIP Him. As God has been careful never to address any single angel as Son, so now it is God Himself who commands the Angels, without exception, to worship the human Christ. Let all the angels worship him: no intellect so great as to be exempt, no rank so stupendous as to be excepted: thrones and dominions, principalities and powers - to Christ every knee must bow.* Isaiah heard even the Seraphim, that uphold the Throne of Deity, crying, Holy, holy, holy; and John says that Isaiah saw his [Christs] glory and spake of him (John 12: 41).
* A chief Angel selected for the Apocalyptic drama not only refuses Johns worship, but isolates all worship on God alone (Rev. 22: 9): therefore when God Himself says: Let all the angels of God worship him, the Person worshipped must be God.
The [Holy] Spirit now reaches the directest possible statement of our Saviours essential Deity, and His Deity since the Incarnation. Who maketh his angels - they are creations: but of the Son he saith - and what follows proves that God says it of the incarnate Son - Thy throne, O God, is for ever. Nothing could be more overwhelming: the Father addresses the Son as God; He asserts that the Lords throne is, in itself, an eternal throne - for it was out of Bethlehem that One was to come whose goings forth are from everlasting (Mic. 5: 2); on that Throne He rules, and the angels are His flame of fire; and all is in consequence, not in spite, of the earthly life - THEREFORE God, thy God - for He is man - hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.
The Spirit closes on the Deity which functioned in original creation as now enthroned in Divine session. Again it is God who speaks, addressing the Son: first as creator - Thou, Lord, in the beginning, hast laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the works of thy hands; then as the Man that is my fellow - Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies the footstool of thy feet. The hand that was pierced is the hand that made the worlds; and He who made all things is God (Heb. 3: 4). The present universe no finite mind can grasp; no mortal mind has ever heard any detail of the universe yet to be: yet the human Christ is creator of all, and, with God the Father, is now enthroned as the ruler of all. If Christ is Creator, He is the only possible Redeemer of creation, for the universe is one; and in Christ alone the natural and supernatural, nature and revelation, become one block, one entity, one truth. And it is overwhelming that in every one of these quotations it is the Father addressing the Son and overheard by the world; every utterance is an utterance of God to Christ: a slip or a falsehood here is inconceivable, if there is any truth in Christianity at all: on the other hand, if God has ever spoken, it is here. The Person is shown as the Godhead before the act; and after the act He is shown as unchanged and immutable Godhead.
Thus the Gospel is established out of the mouth of God; and with the Person unveiled and the Act proved, the whole of the Christian Faith follows. On the face of it, acceptance of it must carry with it salvation, and rejection of it must carry with it damnation. It is a deliverance so exhaustive, so stupendous, so final, that any other salvation is impossible, inconceivable; and, if it fails, all other deliverance is utterly hopeless. So infinite was the cost that the purging can never be duplicated, and will never be repeated. So then the Apostle closes with a solemn warning. Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things that were heard, lest we drift away from - float past - them: for how shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation? If, the Person and the Act having been embraced, we let them slip - the Apostle says, Lest we drift from them - or if, having heard, we have never accepted, how is it possible to escape the judgment of God? Floating on a tide is so silent that we are totally unaware that we are moving, until we are startled by the disappearing landmarks, and find ourselves far out at sea. If we drift past Christ, we drift into eternal night.
* * *
ETERNAL LIFE AND
By CHAS. S. UTTING
In order to avoid the confusion which exists with so many of Gods children in the reading of the New Testament, it is necessary to distinguish carefully between things that differ; also to observe who is being addressed, whether the Christian or the Jew, the Church or the World, etc. Again, it is of highest importance that we recognize that signal and important little word IF, and note the conditions imposed by it and dependent on it, or it will be impossible to rightly divide the Word of God.
ETERNAL LIFE is the free gift of God, Rom. 6: 23. It is gratis, to faith. The legal and righteous ability for God to
offer this free gift was produced by the ransom-paying of Jesus Christ who made
full compensation for sin by His, blood-shedding and death on
Quite different from all this is
the truth of the
The entrance into the
Beloved, we have but one little life to live; it is a tragedy what a
miscarriage most of us make through not seeing that it is the vantage-ground
from which honours and glory may be won, in addition to the common salvation,
the new-birthright of all believers.
Hear the finest athlete Christ ever had perhaps, Every man that striveth in the games is temperate in all
things. Now they do it to receive a
corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.
I therefore so run, as not uncertainly: so box I,
as not beating the air; but I buffet my body, and bring it into bondage; lest
by any means, after that I have been a herald to others [as to
the Kingdom], I myself should be disqualified [from
the crown and prize] (1 Cor.
9: 25-27). [See also
* * *
WHERE ARE THE
* This letter, sent to a friend after attending a lecture on the subject to which the writer was invited, may prove helpful to a wider circle. - [D. M. PANTON.]
It was really very kind of you to send a word of appreciation about my Bible Class for the boys at school, and also to endeavour to help me with the right presentation of the Truth. There is, indeed, a lot of error about, and we may assume, justly rather than generously, that those in error are nearly all unaware of it.
Honest before God, and having my senses exercised, I believe, as you do, that I hold nothing but the truth. You and I are bound to believe that of ourselves; we are quite unable (even were we willing) to believe it of one another. Because, however sincere we may be, we do differ, and where differences are contradictions - mutually exclusive - they obviously cannot both be correct of the same thing at the same time.
We know only in part at present, and that part is obscure in places. Hence we must all be willing to learn, and, if need be, to unlearn; but above all we must not cease to love one another with a pure heart fervently. All we are brethren, and the Lords Word to us is not merely - See that ye fall not out by the way; but, if we do - First be reconciled to thy brother. For by this shall all men know that ye are My disciples.
I am prepared, upon proof, to believe I am in error. For we are all probably in error somewhere - but who and what shall convince us? You are not in error because you differ from me, and I am not necessarily in error because I differ from you - or from anybody or any group. The Scripture is the only criterion, standard, and guide; and not merely one verse of it, but the whole tenor and canon of Scripture.
No one is completely in error - even Satan feathers his arrows with truth. Some of our worst enemies may hold some truth, some of our best friends may hold some error; and it is doubly difficult to recognize error among our acquaintances and truth among those unknown to us.
the danger of using a label, whether denominational or personal. For in spite of their admitted error, you and
I both believe quite a lot that is shared by Roman Catholics and Bullingerites
- though I am, of course, aware that those names represent to us distinctive
errors. My point here is that we must
not necessarily reject certain teaching just because it may be held by those
who for other reasons are our opponents or adversaries. This was precisely the error of Luther and of other Reformers who, while they won for us the right of private
interpretation - for which, under God, we are infinitely grateful - were thus
at times misled into choosing not always what the Word said, but merely the opposite
of what their enemies believed and held.
The Romanists emphasize works,
therefore works are wrong; but James too emphasizes works - then James is wrong
as well. By such false
reasoning did Luther come to decry the letter of James as an epistle of straw.
But our concern should be, not what
There are those who declare that certain teaching about Hades or
The Holy Spirit will lead us into all truth, and the whole of the truth, if only we are brave enough to go forward with Him, and responsive enough to believe all that the prophets have spoken - both the pleasant and the distasteful (for to the carnal Christian - and we all in measure have the flesh with us - quite a lot of Gods Word is unpalatable); but this may mean our leaving friends behind, as well as traditions, preconceptions, reputations. We might say that for three or four hundred years hardly any fresh light broke forth from His prophetic word until God moved the early Brethren, a century or so ago. Upon corresponding darkness correspondingly fresh light is breaking, thank God, to-day.
Well, I must apologise for this lengthy introduction, but I trust it will serve to clear the air and the issue. Summed up, it comes to this: we are vitally one with all who love our Lord Jesus, and it is Gods Word alone, - not our own or our friends interpretation - that is our sole guide to its own understanding and meaning.
The preacher you kindly invited me to come and hear had a clear-cut and vigorous style, and one agreed with practically all he said in connection with the latter part of Luke 16., which I do not look upon as a parable, though I agree with you that the implications would still be the same if it were. His exposition was faithful and illuminating. As he himself suggested, there are certain difficulties even in connection with the parable - the question of consciousness, for instance, in relation to the Old Testament references to Sheol (e.g. Eccles. 9: 10 no knowledge ... in the grave, whither thou goest), and in relation to the literal Bosom of the undoubtedly literal Abraham. But of course this is not what we are mainly here concerned with - the place and state of the Blessed Dead.
Here, I think you will grant, your preacher did little more than quote two somewhat (as we may see) ambiguous passages - and by ambiguous, I mean, for the moment, passages reasonably capable, in the light of other Scriptures, of a different interpretation. The two well-known passages are:
(1) He led captivity captive (Ephes. 4: 8), and
(2) To be with Christ; which is far better (Phil. 1: 23).
The speaker sought to make capital out of the fact that the Luke 16. narrative of Dives and Lazarus relates to the time before our Lords resurrection, whereas the Ephesian and Philippian revelations were made known subsequently, Hades being meanwhile emptied of its saved inhabitants. But one may well ask whether this distinction is warrantable in view of the confirming words of Matthew 28: 20: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you; and of Luke 24: 44:- these are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you. All pre-resurrection declarations apparently still hold good, everything being thus corroborated and reinforced. And one may well enquire whether such an emptying could be possible in view of what the apostle said about David at Pentecost (Acts 2: 29).
I am, etc.,
A. G. TILNEY.
Coming now, finally, to the first of the two references advanced as proof-texts to answer the lecturers and our
title question, it will doubtless be conceded that in any case some sort of captivity persists, the passage meaning either (a) that the captors are captured,* or (b) that the captives are transferred to a new captivity. If the latter be the true meaning, is the implication of all the captives or of just some of them? If a host or multitude of captives is intended, might not the solution he satisfactorily found in Matthew 27: 53, where we read:- Many bodies of the saints which slept, arose ... after His resurrection?
* Dr. Weymouths rendering of the seemingly parallel revelation in Col. 5. 13 is suggestively a propos! And the hostile princes and rulers He shook off from Himself, and boldly displayed them as His conquests, when by the Cross He triumphed over them.
But did they go straight away to heaven, or, like Lazarus of Bethany, probably, die again? - their resurrection being, in view of the once appointed of Hebrew 9: 27, more of the nature of a resuscitation, or temporary recall?
Thank God, knees of things under the earth (and therefore, presumably, in Hades too) shall bow at the name of Jesus, and the gates (not of hell but) of the subterranean stronghold of Hades shall not succeed in keeping His church prisoners, albeit of hope, for ever (Matt. 16: 18).
Now if David is not ascended, his tomb being still unbroken after the Saviours ascension (Acts 2: 34, 39) - for that certainly seems the force of the declaration with us unto this day - what right have I to assume that my own believing and beloved parents have ascended into the heavens? Yet my comfort is not lost, for Asleep in Christ gives both security and repose, and a sure promise of awakening.
Had one the time, it might be possible to show that this teaching of going straight to heaven at death arose partly, through inadequate examination of Scripture; in part, through over-eagerness to guarantee too much at once to the bereaved; through, further, a too facile and hasty contrasting of black and white, saved and unsaved, heaven and earth, etc; and finally, through fear of the doctrinal implications which are, of course, considerable and very important for our accurate understanding of Christian resurrection.
And lastly, where is Christ? Evidently, in three places: (1) first of all on earth, for Lo, I am with you alway, and where two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst; (2) secondly, in Sheol (that is, Hades), for If I make my bed in Sheol, behold Thou art there - said David, who, Peter implies, is sleeping [and resident]* there still (Ps. 139: 8).**
* Better to include resident as well! The Lips in which dwelt all wisdom and knowledge a man is overheard speaking in Hades the only authentic report of a conversation of the dead ever recorded not to satisfy curiosity, or to reveal secrets, but to show us, who at any moment may be there. (Panton.) Luke 16: 24-31. See also 1 Sam. 28: 15-19.
** Both Job (25: 6) and Solomon (Prov. 15: 11) declare that the eyes of the Lord are upon this underworld with its precious freight (Ps. 116: 15), and it was into that Left Hand in which are the deep places of the earth (Ps. 95: 4) that our Lord committed His departing Spirit (Luke 23: 46; Eph. 4: 9).
(3) Thirdly, He is, in His risen body, at the right Hand of the Majesty on high (Acts 7: 55; Heb. 1: 3).
From these considerations it should be clear that a glib and easy syllogism of the form: Christ is in heaven, my father is with Christ, therefore my father is in heaven, is neither satisfactory nor sufficient. We must not shun to declare the whole counsel of God - a mechanism or rather an organism with no spare parts, or parts to spare.
The Authorized Version, even with an English Concordance, is often an incompetent guide to sound and detailed Bible study, upon which God does after all put a premium, that ignorance and prejudice must not be allowed to rob us of. It is up to every Christian teacher, at all events, to search out all that and exactly what the Lord Himself has been pleased to reveal to us, and not to remain content with beautiful though sometimes imperfect translations.
Now in French, German and Latin, as well as in the Greek original of Phillipians 1: 23, the preposition with differs, in spite of its being unaltered in the English, from a word of another meaning and use. If I am in my house with your preacher, the French is avec, the German mit, the Latin cum, and the Greek sun (syn); but if I am with the preacher in his house, the French is chez, the German bei, the Latin apud, and the Greek para - which is not the preposition employed in our text. Surely this Divine distinction cannot be without purpose and significance?* Must it not mean that Christ is with us in our place, at death, rather than that we are with Him in His place - this latter presence in His abode being dependent upon His return, and rapture. I will come again and receive you unto Myself; that where I am there ye may be also? (John 14: 3).
* Reference to a Greek concordance (Youngs, for instance) - and without even knowing the alphabet, the eye can see where different words are used by their Creator and Master - will show how distinct and how consistent is, as in everything else, the Scriptural usage of these two simple prepositions.
The Word which tells us of our Lords being in three places at once - and light, His creature, can travel seven times round the earth in one second of time - also informs us of three Paradises, a heavenly (Ezek. 28: 13), an earthly (Gen. 2.), and a subterranean - in the heart of the earth (Luke 23: 43; Matt. 12: 40), but a Paradise, an Eden, all the same, and therefore nothing fearful or distasteful, especially with our Lord there, for the blessed dead die in the Lord (Rev. 14: 13), sleeping in Jesus (1 Thess. 4: 14), in Christ (1 Cor. 15: 18), and shall first rise (1 Thess. 4: 16).
There are, too, the heavens, and the heaven of heavens, so that, notwithstanding the ascension of Enoch and Elijah, our Lord could say (Jno. 3: 13): No man hath ascended up into heaven- and add, illuminating the mystery of His being in more than one place at a time: No man hath ascended ... but He that came down ... even the Son of man which is in heaven.*
* A glance at the Greek, the French, the Revised, Darby, etc., will show that the us of Rev. 5: 9-10 is a copyists error, the heavenly harpers with the prayers of the saints not being men at all.
Now let us ask the question Why do Christians die? Why do Christians, saved, redeemed, still die? (rapture not having yet begun). The answer must be that death is a judicial stripping and exposure, undoing and unclothing, because of sin - as the apostle makes clear in 2 Corinthians 5: 2-4; and though Gods kings and priests were not to appear before Him unclothed (Exod. 28: 42-43), Paul makes it equally clear in the same passage in his epistle that we shall not be clothed upon till resurrection, when we receive a clothing from heaven. This being suitably clad and appropriately attired for the Royal Presence is doubtless in the change of 1 Corinthians 15: 51, for language almost identical is used in both places (1 Cor. 15: 53-54; 2 Cor. 5: 4.).
The Law of God prohibited contact with a dead body (Num. 19: 16) and with a departed spirit (Deut. 18: 11, forbidding necromancy,), for death, in all its parts, is legal uncleanness. For a naked spirit, judicially disembodied, to enter the presence of God on high would be to approach Him in the shrouds of the Curse. In spite of a number of our hymns, there is no such thing referred to in Scripture as a glorified human spirit - only persons, complete in spirit, soul and body; and this renewed entirety and reintegration, this reunion, is not until the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Thess. 5: 23), Who shall summon us, not from the skies, but from the tombs, to hear His voice (John 5: 28); for the dead in Christ shall first rise, not descend, to meet the Lord in the air (1 Thess. 4: 16).
This will be when our High Priest
comes out, of His heavenly
*Again let it be reminded that the Elders around the Throne (Rev. 5: 9-10) are not men but angelic dignities.
I have referred to the
implications of a
And now let one familiar and ultimate word decide for us all that our being with our Lord in His heaven is dependent upon His return to rapture or resurrect us thither: I will come again, AND receive you unto Myself; that where I am, there ye may be also (John 14: 3).
Let us watch and pray that we may be accounted worthy to be set before the Son of man (Luke 21: 36).
I am, etc.,
A. G. TILNEY.
* * *
It is a tragic mystery how the
But far graver and more dynamic
is a Church of England unaltered in position and power, but subtly and
fundamentally changed. In figures
compiled by Anglo-Catholics themselves, - in 1882 there were 2,581
Anglo-Catholic churches, in 1901, 8,689; in 1882 vestments were used in 336
churches in 1901 2,158; in 1882 altar lights appeared in 581 churches, in 1901,
in 4,765; and the Eastward Position was assumed in 1882, in 1,662 churches, but
in 1901, in 7,397.* Dr. H. D. A. Major,
Principal of Ripon Hall, states that 8,000 out of the 22,000 clergy are
Anglo-Catholic. Twenty years ago 30
churches practised Reservation of the Sacrament, to-day it is reserved by
700. What all this unveils in rectories
throughout the land staggers the imagination. Father Hugh Benson, a son of a late Archbishop of Canterbury, and
formerly a Cowley Father, says:-
For years before I became a Catholic I recited my
rosary every day. On practically every
point, except the supremacy of the Pope, we believed the teachings of the
Catholic Church, and taught most of her doctrines, as thousands of Anglican
clergymen are doing to-day. And it is
*Tourists Church Guide, 1901, and Church Review, Sept. 19, 1901. What is even more significant since 1901 all such figures (so far as we can discover) have been suppressed.
A dread issue lies ahead. The Thirty-nine Articles are the Evangelical
core and citadel of the
Nor does the leaven cease for a moment its subtle and all-pervading penetration. Father Marshall thus reminds the English Church Union of Anglo-Catholic progress:- Not so long ago we could have candles as long as we did not light them. Then we might light them, but must not use the mixed chalice or wafers. Next, we might use these, but must not wear the vestments. Then these were allowed but incense must not be used. Then incense was permitted as long as it was not used in the traditional way. Then the ceremonial use of incense was sanctioned as long as we did not reserve. Now Reservation is freely permitted if we only abstain from adoration! In view of all this there is solid ground for the virtue of hope in reference to the Church of England. Mr. A. Linwood Wright, secretary of a 1300 group of Anglo-Catholic priests, says:- In a few years time the 1928 Prayer Book will be largely in use amongst Catholic priests; and the more I study it, the more I am convinced that it is a living witness that the Catholic standpoint has captured the Church of England.
The Reformation was a violent revulsion to some degree expelling the leaven, but the death of the Reformation within the Church of England will restore an organism which, even when insurgent from the Papacy, can kill. If there had been any chance of staying in England and remaining in peace, as Professor Plooij of Amsterdam has just said, if not in actual communion, with the Church of England, they certainly would not have fled; but all the separatists, as they were called, fell under the Act of April, 1593, which decrees that if any person above sixteen years of age should obstinately refuse to go to some authorised church he should be committed to prison, and be kept there three months, and, if still obstinate, he should then, upon his corporeal oath, abjure the realm of England and all other the Queens Majestys dominions for ever, and if he returned without Her Majestys special licence, he should be adjudged a felon and die a felons death.
* * *
ROMAN LEAVEN IN THE
The right pessimism is never blacker than at the moment when the only true optimism is about to be justified in a blaze of dawn. But the blackest murk is now at hand; and there is no darker saying than that of our Lord when, describing the Romanizing of all Churches, He says (Matt. 13: 33): - IT WAS ALL LEAVENED.* The very incredibility of the prophecies, as the Saviour implies (John 14: 29), proves their divinity; and that the Churches of the Puritans should become Roman is so monstrously incredible that the event will once again leave the Bible unapproachable, and our Lord Divine.
* For the Parable of the Leaven see DAWN, vol. i., p. 323.
For the process
is already much more than begun. Non-conformist worship
changes. Dr. Orchard, a master of the subject, says:- In chancel arrangements, which suggest, to the eye at least,
the centrality and finality of the altar; stained-glass windows; approximations
to and attempts at liturgies; the introduction of robed choirs and
ecclesiastical drapings for pulpit desk and communion
table; the revival of a type of music, in chant, hymn and anthem, which owes
its inspiration to Catholic worship; the wearing of a gown in the pulpit, and
the change from recognition to ordination in Congregationalism, imply
profound changes. Mr. E. R. Roberts, reviewing a manual of Nonconformist worship,
many movements that may be observed in the Free Churches to-day, none is more
remarkable than that which affects their mode of worship. The result is revolutionary, but the way of
its attainment is happily pacific. Many
of the most characteristic features of Free Church worship are being abandoned,
and there is in process a steady advance towards the use of liturgy and the
adoption of theological tenets and ecclesiastical usage, which were anathema to
the old Puritans. Mrs. E. Hermon,
a Presbyterian ministers wife who was strangely prominent in Evangelical circles
some years ago, writes:- Until we have the courage to restore the Cross and the Altar
to their primary and central place in our life we shall remain ineffective
among men and ineffective in prayer.
It is symptomatic of the change that the
Modification in worship necessarily implies a shifting of doctrinal basis. A Scots Presbyterian writes:- A new and portentous development in the ecclesiastical history of our country is the advocacy of prayers for the dead by some of the leading ministers in the Church of Scotland such as Dr. Archibald Fleming and Dr. Norman Maclean. It is the doctrine which created Purgatory. Many people in the War with no religious convictions fell back on Spiritualism for comfort, others it would appear were encouraged to pray for the dead on the assumption that even if they were lost they would eventually be restored to Gods favour. So the Times (Nov. 3, 1917) says:- The early Independents, if they could see their successors, the Congregationalists and Baptists, would observe important changes from the strict individualism of the past. In each case a central organization exerts a vital influence on the denomination. It stipulates who should be recognized as an accredited minister; and both the Congregational and Baptist official headquarters possess now the power of the purse and can decide what ministers are to receive grants from Sustentation Funds. And the changes are all, consciously or unconsciously, Romeward. The Confessional, says Dr. Fosdick approvingly, which Protestantism threw out the door, is coming back through the window, in utterly new forms, to be sure, with new methods and with an entirely new intellectual explanation.
Moreover, all shock seems to have passed concerning the central
Roman dogmas. It is the Mass,
Bishop Westcott predicted that reunion would come from the circumference
rather than the centre; and a sapped and sagging Protestantism will end in
capitulation and submission to
* * *
SALVATION BY EARTHQUAKE
By HORACE R. A. PHILP, M.B., CH.B.
On January 6, 1928, an earthquake
shock occurred in Kenya Colony, coincident with earth disturbances elsewhere,
e.g. the tidal wave in the Thames and the flooding in
It was a solemn hour - we were conscious of our puniness, and frailty, of our utter helplessness in face of the power of the forces of nature. But the God of Nature was our God, and we were in His keeping. Should this be the last hour for us and ours, we would go into the presence of our Master and not alone, but with a goodly company of those who had been redeemed by His blood from out of an African heathen community - a company who were singing their creed, in the hour of this dread danger. Yes, Christians in all ages sing in earthquakes (Acts 16: 25), and they are the only people who can sing then.
Down in the
Twenty miles further on, a still
more wonderful thing was happening. Two
men were in earnest conversation. One was Charles
Muhoro, employed as Government interpreter and
senior clerk, not a particularly strong member of our own Church, we used to
think, but one who has grown spiritually with the years, and one who has since
surrendered a promising career in Government service, to train for the
Charles was pleading with this man to surrender himself to Christ, when the earthquake occurred. Yes, even in the twentieth century, God times His earthquakes. There and then, Stephano vowed that if God but spared his life, he would abandon his evil ways and turn anew to God. And he was as good as his word. Early next morning he arranged to put away the two wives he had taken after his lapse from Christian profession. They were to return to their respective fathers homes - free to marry again, and he refused to ask back a single sheep that he had paid for them. He then took the matter before his master, the Assistant District Commissioner of the district, and got the position legalised before him, to the astonishment of the old native tribal elders. For wives to be returned it was understood, but for it to be done without the equivalent being paid in sheep was a new thing.
This being settled, Stephano started to make amends in other ways. His conscience told him that he had been the means of leading others astray by his words and deeds, and at once he started to atone for this, by witnessing to them of Christ. Within a few months he twice voluntarily appeared before the Tumutumu Kirk Session, to testify to his sincere repentance and to the restitution he had made. The elders welcomed him back, but, with the caution born of long experience, they put him on a lengthy probation before readmitting him to Church fellowship. They allowed him to make a public statement in the Church, as to his repentance and conversion. As his misdeeds had been done also in that part of the Government district that is with the territory of the C.M.S., to the Missionary in charge there, too, he repaired to request leave to testify to his conversion in their local Church - which request was readily complied with.
There was abundant evidence of the reality of his conversion, and the sincerity of his repentance. It cost him serious financial loss, which is an acid test to a Kikuyu tribesman, in view of the terrible sense of the value of money, which is so characteristic of the race. It was indeed a case of salvation by earthquake, and we give God the glory, that even those manifestations of His power that seem to be most terrifying, can also be the channels of His richest grace.
* * *
THE AGE TO COME
The Church next to the Apostles was unanimous on the Lords coming personal reign on earth. Gibbon, the infidel historian, says:- The assurance [of Christs personal reign upon the earth] was carefully inculcated by men who had conversed with the immediate disciples of the apostles, and appears to have been the reigning sentiment of orthodox believers. This prevailing opinion, says Mosheim, met with no opposition previous to the time of Origen. No one can hesitate, says Dr. Geisler, to consider this doctrine as universal in the first and second centuries. The doctrine, says Archbishop Chillingworth, was believed and taught by the most eminent fathers of the age next after the Apostles, and by none of that age opposed or condemned, it was the catholic doctrine of those times.
* * * * * * *
How men who profess loyalty to the Scriptures, and hold themselves in conscience bound to the Word of God, can reduce the whole picture of this glorious enthronement of the saints to what they call special respect to their principles, their memory, and their character rendered by mortal men, or to a mere revival of the martyr spirit and faith in times of glory for the Church on earth when there is no more room for martyrs, is utterly beyond my comprehension. It upturns all acknowledged principles of interpretation from their very foundations. It opens the door for the explaining away of every distinctive feature of the Christian Faith. The Bible tells us unmistakably that the Apostles do not get their thrones till the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit on the throne of His glory (Matt. 19: 28); and yet men would teach us that some of their disciples in the flesh shall sit on exactly such thrones and reign with Christ a thousand years, as if they were apostles raised from the dead, while yet those Apostles themselves are all the while still sleeping unrewarded in their graves! The holy martyrs we know do not get their recompense till the resurrection of the just; and yet we are to accept it as the revelation of God that mortal men, who are not martyrs at all, and have no chance of becoming martyrs, ascend martyr thrones, and sit and reign with Christ as kings for ten centuries as if they were martyrs raised from the dead, whilst the martyrs themselves are meanwhile left in the ashes beneath the Altar, crying, How long, 0 Lord? Apart from all the linguistic and exegetical arguments, which stand out against such notions as a continent against the sea, the very absurdity of the implications ought to be enough to satisfy everyone that such anomalies cannot belong to the administration of a just and holy God. - J. A. SEISS, D.D.
* * * * * * *
Of this I am satisfied, that the next coming of Christ will be a coming, not to final judgment, but a coming to usher in the Millennium. I utterly despair of the universal prevalence of Christianity as the result of a missionary process. I look for its conclusive establishment through a widening passage of desolations and judgments, with the demolition of our civil and ecclesiastical structures. Overturn, Overturn, Overturn, is the watchword of our coming Lord. I desire to cherish a more habitual and practical faith than heretofore in that coming which even the first Christians were called to hope for with all earnestness, even though many centuries were to elapse ere the hope could be realized; and how much more we who are so much nearer this great fulfilment than at the time when we believed! - DR. CHALMERS, Edinburgh, 1850.
* * * * * * *
If I am to judge the world then, God would not have me meddling with the world now. This was the very argument that the Apostle Paul used (1 Cor. 6: 1, 2) when blaming the Corinthian believers because they went before the judgment-seat of men. It is beneath the Christian calling. Of course, I do not mean by this in any way to slight the powers that be. A Christian ought to be ready any day and in all things to show them respect. He can afford to be the humblest man in the world, because he is the highest one. He has got a better exaltation that will shine most when this world has come to nothing. - WILLIAM KELLY.
* * * * * * *
Can it be a low or carnal thing for Christ to reign on the earth? Does it become them who are spiritual to despise that dominion as mean and carnal which God the Father promised to confer on His beloved Son, as the meet reward of His matchless humiliation and obedience? Can that be unworthy of the esteem of His spouse which is not below the dignity of Christ Himself? It constitutes an important part of that gracious reward which shall be conferred on the faithful soldiers of Jesus, after they overcome. The saints shall reign with various different degrees of authority, in proportion to their religious attainments and sufferings while in the body. The cross is the way to the crown. Those who suffer with Jesus shall reign with Him. Exells Biblical Illustrator.
* * * * * * *
These share with Christ in His judging and shepherdising of the nations; but it is only to those who have overcome, and been crowned by the great judge of all as victors - to the Manchild born into immortality and caught up to God and His throne - that this power over the nations thus to rule or shepherdise is given. - J. A. SEISS, D.D.
* * * * * * *
The truly perfected Christians, the eschatological Christians, the approved ones of the end-time, with all the martyrs, are, through the first resurrection, not only exempted from the judgment, but also called to share in its administration. Those not pre-eminently animated by the principle of the life of Christ, not led toward the first resurrection, are, therefore, a whole aeon deeper under the power of death. - J. P. LANGE, D.D.
* * * * * * *
The only key of Phil. 3: 11, 12 is this, that the Apostle Paul did believe that there would be a special resurrection of the more eminent resurrection servants of Christ, which would include a very peculiar reward; and that this resurrection would be long before the general and last resurrection.* - ROBERT FLEMMING.
* Quoted by Dr. Horatius Bonar.
* * * * * * *
Is it not worth some inconvenience to avert our loss of Millennial glories? Is it not worth a struggle, worth many labours and pains, and much endurance of neglect and the slight of the world, if we may so become priests of God and of Christ and reign with Him? To some these words (Heb. 4: 11) may, perhaps, seem little more than vague sentiment. But they are not to be so regarded: we shall find them a stern and inexorable truth when we stand before the judgment Seat of Christ. - G. H. PEMBER, M.A
* * *
THE BELIEVERS JUDGMENT
The extreme severity of Church discipline maintained by many of the opponents of reward according to works bears silent testimony against them. For the Church is the nursery for the Kingdom. The disciples exclusion of an offending brother from communion with the Church, and putting him into the world again, is a silent witness of the Lords future exclusion from the Kingdom. The sins which ought to exclude from the Church will exclude, as the Apostle tells us, from the Kingdom: 1 Cor. 5. & 6. The two chapters touch each other; so close also is their real connexion. Does the disciple then, for even a mistaken opinion, thrust out his fellow believer from the Church into the world? Much more shall the Lord exclude from the Kingdom for open and flagrant sin, against which even natural conscience bears testimony.
All the results of this great doctrine it is impossible to foresee. But some important ones may be traced.
If its opponents maintain their hold on the doctrine of the Millennium, it will drive them to strange extremities.
The usual attitude of most assailants is this:
1. We admit, that there will be rewards.
2. We confess, that the believer sins, and as a consequence receives chastisement. But it is only in this life.
3. Some go further, and allow that offending believers will suffer loss at Christs coming. But it will not amount to exclusion from the Kingdom.
But the outcry against the doctrine is so sharp, that those who admit so much will find themselves in a very awkward position. Impartial Christians aroused at the stir, and learning the state of the case, will say to such: What! are you crying out that this man is subverting the truth, and unfit for communion, while you are holding the very principle he affirms, and differ only in the extent to which it shall be pushed? Christ, you admit, will call believers before His judgment-seat. You think that negation of reward alone will ensue. He, that in extreme cases, positive punishment will be awarded. Is that all the difference about which this loud hue and cry is raised? You agree in the principle, you differ only in its extent. Such assailants, too, will be looked on with suspicion by the stouter-hearted opponents of the doctrine, as almost traitors to the truth.
Most then will take up the ground - Chastisement, but only in this life. Your proofs, friend? The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin; 1 John 1: 7. Ours is no half-Saviour.
But you admit, that, in spite of Jesus atonement, the chastisements of God descend on the offending believer in this life. It is no bar then to their falling on him in the next age. What Scriptures are there which assert that chastisements shall not befall an offending disciple when our Lord appears? No such passages are forthcoming. Proofs to the contrary are many and plain. Take those from a single Gospel: Matt. 5: 22-30; 7: 21-27; 10: 32, 33, 39; 16: 25; 18: 7-9, 21-35; 24: 45-51; 25: 1-30.
This will be felt then to be not very tenable ground. The reasons why chastisement must end with this life, will be very hard to find, very hard to establish. Many believers have died out of the communion of Churches from which they have been justly excluded for sin. Will they he accounted worthy of a place in the Kingdom, who were put out as unworthy of a place in the Church?
Lastly, you admit, friend, that there will be rewards for the saints good deeds, at Jesus appearing. There must then be punishment for their evil deeds, if the coming day be the day of justice (judgment). Shall we give account only of our right expenditure as stewards? or of thriftless and extravagant expenditure also? We may wish it otherwise: but is it not written - that each will receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be GOOD or BAD: 2 Cor. 5: 10. He that doeth WRONG shall RECEIVE FOR THE WRONG WHICH HE HATH DONE, AND THERE IS NO RESPECT OF PERSONS: Col. 3: 25.
Those then who will be quit of this doctrine at all hazards will scarcely feel any position a safe one, but that which asserts: (1) that there is no precept given to the elect of God; (2) and, by consequence, that they never sin, nor ever receive chastisement. This awful position of unbelief I shall not here assail. My only object is to show the main bearings of the controversy, and to urge believers to study prayerfully, submitting themselves to the Word of God. ROBERT GOVETT.
* * *
THE GREAT ESCAPE
By ROBERT GOVETT, M.A.
Too little do we realize the joyous fact, almost too joyous to be conceived, that before earths night closes in the moral horror and bloody persecution and anti-God fury we already see approaching, it is the design of God that we should escape, bodily and altogether from the earth. It is almost incredible it is so wonderful. And it is (if possible) heightened by this, that after He has drawn the curtain from the coming nightmare, our Lord sets the escape as the apex of all, the spearhead of His eschatological teaching, the last sentence which embodies the crisis and the wonder:- WATCH YE THEREFORE, AND PRAY ALWAYS, THAT YE MAY BE ACCOUNTED WORTHY* TO ESCAPE ALL THESE THINGS THAT SHALL COME TO PASS, AND TO STAND BEFORE THE SON OF MAN (Luke 21: 36). And this is not only the climax of His revelations before He suffered, but the controlling river-head of New Testament apocalypse. As it was an utterance made at least years, in some cases decades, before any Epistle was written by an Apostle, nothing can conflict with its studied plainness, and it must rule all later statements. The revelation on rapture, as all other revelations, is but one, and the Masters utterance is supreme.
*To have the upper hand, succeed, prevail (Liddell and Scott). The word contains the same thought as our Lords frequent he that overcometh.
What makes the escape the more wonderful, even startling, is the fact that beyond a shadow of doubt there are Christians in the Great Tribulation, already photographed for us in the Apocalypse. For there can be no question but that the testimony of Jesus - the testimony concerning Jesus and the testimony given by Jesus - is the Apocalyptic description of the Christian Faith. John so defines both that with which he was commissioned as an Apostle (Rev. 1: 2), and that for which he was imprisoned in Patmos as a Christian (Rev. 1: 9); when the Angel would describe the Apostles fellow-Christians he calls them thy brethren that hold the testimony of Jesus (Rev. 19: 10) and the phrase distinguishes pre-Church martyrs - for the word of God - and post-Church martyrs - under Antichrist - from the martyrs of the Church (Rev. 20: 4).* The Apocalypse, in its judgment sections, has no other formula for the Christian Faith, and therefore for the creed of the Church. Hence the immense significance of this verse:- And the dragon waxed wroth with the woman [who had escaped into the wilderness], and went away to make war with the rest [plural: the remainders] of her seed, (1) which keep the commandments of God, and (2) HOLD THE TESTIMONY OF JESUS (Rev. 12: 17). For part or all of the forty-two months these suffer Satans rage on earth, the reign of Antichrist; they are one of two remnants - remainders left derelict, after one flight into the heavens (Rev. 12: 5; 7: 9), and another flight into the wilderness (Rev. 12: 6; 7: 4)** and no miraculous escape delivers them from the Satanic rage. That these two groups are but remnants, remainders, proves that their riper sections, are gone.
* If these are not Christian martyrs, then the Christian martyrs are not named in the martyr list, and so are completely omitted in the day of reward - which is incredible.
** The English word conceals what the plural Greek ( ) expresses - that they which keep the commandments of God - a characteristic description of God-accepted Jews - are quite distinct from those that hold the testimony of Jesus - than which it would be impossible to get a description of the Christian Faith simpler or more exact.
But an alternative understanding of the Saviours words, which completely exonerates the Church from all liability to the command and frees her from all danger of the Tribulation, demands attention. Our Lords words manifestly mean an escape: the only conceivable way, therefore, in which we might evade its full force is by supposing another escape of a body of disciples not the Church; and such a body exists in the godly Israelites who escape into the Wilderness (Matt 24: 16). But (1) it is fatal to this view that all these things to be escaped are world-wide, and no mere Palestinian flight. They are crowding and disastrous miracles:- terrors from heaven (Luke 21: 11); signs in sun and moon and stars (ver. 25); the powers of the heaven shaken (ver. 26): for these will be the days of vengeance (ver. 22), of persecution (ver. 17), of distress of nations, men fainting for fear (ver. 25). No peril so awful has ever demanded an escape so great; and since the distress is universal it can only be an escape into the heavens [by selective rapture]. (2) The Jewish escape is active: this escape is passive. The faithful Jew is to flee to the mountains (Matt. 24: 16): the faithful disciple here is to pray to be removed - to be set [by angels, Alford] before the Son of Man. Of two asleep in one bed (Luke 17: 34), the one shall be taken, and the other shall be left, in an escape so purely passive as to occur in sleep.* The believer un-rapt is paralleled by the Israelite (Matt. 24: 18) who delays in order to fetch his cloak; but the Christian is so helpless in rapture that he can do nothing except watch and pray. (3) The Jewish escape is purely muscular, and on physical grounds,- if he instantly sets his face to the mountains, whatever his exact moral condition, he escapes: this deliverance is moral, and turns crucially on a spiritual acceptability, in which flight is never even named. Instantaneousness of action and rapidity of flight rule the one: prayer and a vigilant life decide the other. (4) The presence on earth in the Tribulation of those who hold the testimony of Jesus, on whom Satan turns his descended rage (Rev. 12: 17), is a final proof. Beyond these two escapes there is no third, and it is certain that this escape is Christian.
* Nor is the Son of man, before whom the watcher is set, ever said to be in the wilderness, but on the clouds of heaven. The one is a flight from Antichrist, who is already present (Matt. 24: 15): the other is a flight before the wrath of God, which brings the Antichrist.
Other Scriptures are equally conclusive. (1) To the head of a Christian church is the promise:- Because thou didst keep the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of trial, that hour which is to come upon the whole world (Rev. 3: 10). The Lords reason - because thou didst keep - is, on the face of it, fatal to the theory of a universal escape. (2) To the head of a Christian church is also our Lords warning:- If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will arrive over [see Greek] thee;(Rev. 3: 3). (3) The Type exquisitely confirms it. The Field is the world; the Wheat is the church; the Reapers are angels (Matt. 13: 39):- a lonely Sheaf (the only wheat offered without leaven) is carried up enormously earlier, the Reapers then gather the Firstfruits (with leaven), afterwards garner the Harvest, and finally glean the Corners of the Field which had been deliberately left un-reaped (Lev. 23: 10-22). The type is quite un-escapable as a proof of multiple rapture. So firstfruits are found in the Heavenlies before the harvest (Rev. 14: 4); and after the harvest (Rev. 14: 15) the warning to watchfulness still goes forth (Rev. 16: 15).
So then if it be admitted that our Lord is addressing the [regenerate members of His] Church - and His own words at the Ascension (Matt. 28: 20) bind these instructions on the Church of all ages - the conclusion is clampt on us like iron that escape is no matter of standing, but of walk, and the disciple devoid of the vigilance and prayer must enter the dread storm. Unconditional escape would neutralize our Lords incessant warnings, and directly reverse His use of the Advent. If all escape, the sleep which He so vividly foresees is either impossible to a [regenerate] believer; or else will never actually happen; or else does not carry the consequences He states: whichever be chosen, the Lords carefully planted fears become senseless panic; nor could they have produced the (alleged and imaginary) universal watchfulness, since this is already (as assumed) the product of saving faith. That the main mass of the regenerate are not watching - since even the Advent itself is denied - is an obvious fact too trite for comment.*
* The Salt, the real salt, when it is become savourless - when it is no longer effective as salt - is cast out and trodden underfoot of man (Matt. 5: 13).
So the command descends like a thunderbolt on our souls. Watchfulness is acute alertness exercising every faculty for God. No command is more frequent, none more solemnly impressed (Dean Alford). Watchfulness invokes all our powers for God,- prayer invokes all Gods powers for us; but more than that,- watchfulness devotes our works to God,- prayer devotes ourselves. Praying that (Gk. , so that, in order that) ye may escape would necessarily remove the escape out of the region of a gift already possessed; but praying that ye may PREVAIL to escape discloses formidable barriers that will not be surmounted by prayer alone. Thus Jacob prevailed with God, so becoming a prince with God.
This alone solves the inexplicable problem of men of deep prayer and arduous study of the Scriptures sharply divided on rapture into a mutual negation. On the one hand are such men as Darby, Kelly, Scofield, and Torrey, maintaining that the whole Church escapes the whole Tribulation; and on the other, such men as Tregelles, B. W. Newton, George Muller, and David Baron, maintaining that the whole Church passes through the whole Tribulation. As in the case of Calvinism and Arminianism, in such a clash of ripe and gracious intellects anything else than a mutual (though un-admitted) sharing of truth is unthinkable; and the very bitterness too often felt between the two convictions proves how really each sees a truth, though both see with blinkers. It seems inevitable that the younger generation of prophetical students must come to see that not only have both sides a strong case, stiffened with a measure of truth, but that the reconciliation lies in the via media of multiple [or of one selective] rapture, which, by accepting both sets of Scripture un-forcedly and at their full value, distils as the voice of the collected Scriptures, and alone enforces the fact of the Advent in its full moral effect.
Thus the crisis is upon us. To
withhold the warning is to rob the Church of the very truth which is to deliver
from the peril. No more powerful lever can be
imagined for overturning our natural sluggishness. Facts are more moving than a
whole library of exhortation. Lukewarm Laodiceans can be roused before it is too
late: Christ is standing at the door - (G. H. Pember). It is the one command that has been made
infinitely more urgent by the lapse of nineteen centuries. Escape for thy life (Gen.
19: 17). Remember
* * * * * * *
* By the budding fig-tree the Saviour forecasts the Kingdom (Mark 13: 28); and the almond-blossom, the first bloom after the death of winter, is the symbol (Num. 17: 8, Jer. 1: 11, 12) of earliest resurrection and rapture. (D.M. Panton.)
A young upstanding man of not
more than 22 years told me he had visited his mother in Germany last year and
been pressed to stay, but that his one thought had been to return to Palestine,
that he would rather plough the fields here and create something new, reclaim a
portion of the soil to fertility, than practise at the Bar in Berlin. There is
the irresistible energy and growth of spring in the minds and hearts of these
young people in
WATCH AND PRAY
SOME FACTS OF THE SPIRIT WORLD*
[* See Spiritism a Foe to Christianity, By R. Govett.]
SPIRITS OF DECEIT
Sir A. Conan Doyle, who (with Sir Oliver Lodge) is the foremost Spiritualist of the modern age, and who gave £200,000 out of his own pocket for Spiritualistic propaganda, does not conceal (Sunday Times, Oct. 28, 1917) the studied deceit of the spirits with whom literally millions of mankind now have daily intercourse. He says:- The same circle may assemble with the same medium in the same room and under the same physical conditions to meet with utter failure upon the Monday and complete success upon the Tuesday. Still more embarrassing is the fact that the same medium may upon one day deliver a message which proves to be absolutely true, and on the next day, or even in some cases at the same sitting, will deliver another which is a detailed fabrication. Dr. Van Geden, not (so far as we know) a Christian man, confirms it in Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research. Nothing in all the experiments, he says, gave me so vivid an impression that the medium is merely a tool, temporarily in the power of beings who live and can even jest in regions beyond space and time. I doubt, however, not only the veracity but the identity of the so-called spirit controls; to me it seems not improbable that they are lying an pretending Demons.
In August, 1918, I read Sir A. Conan Doyles New Revelation in which he says, in effect:- Every woman is an undeveloped medium; let her sit for automatic writing. I sat for automatic writing, and within a few days I was writing at top speed, impelled by a force outside myself, so that my arm ached. My control purported to be (1) a friend, who, went down on the Titanic; (2) the dead brother of another friend, whose full name was given; and (3) a Hindu physician. By this time my hand, my actions, my will, my very being were controlled by this evil entity. Within, week I became clairaudient. The demon put into me a torturing force, and, but for the grace of God, I should now be hopelessly insane.* - JULIANA MORTON.
* The Morning post, April 19, 1926.
A DRAMA STAGED BY SPIRITS
Old Scott and young Scott were known to one another in life, and both of them were known to me, one of them quite intimately. Now comes the mix-up which took place at the third sitting, when old Scott appeared the instant the medium was entranced. He began by mentioning certain objects to which I knew he had attached great importance while he was living, a very good identification of him. His communication proceeded quite intelligibly for a long time, and I was able to recognize the characteristic relevance of almost everything he said. It was all in keeping with his character, when suddenly it all went wrong. His talk veered to another subject, and so far as I knew had no connection whatever with me, and he began to talk about people whom I could not recognize, and mentioned people as his friends who I knew were not his friends, and the whole thing began to go wrong after having gone right, and surprisingly right, up to a certain point. In my bewilderment I began to ask questions of the control. This, I said, cannot be old Scott who is talking to me now; who is it? Then came the answer, Yes, it is still Scott, but it is young Scott. I had heard nothing of young Scott at all; he had not appeared before. Now for a moment I could not think who this young Scott might be, then it suddenly flashed upon me that I had known a young Scott who had been killed in the war, and looking back on the communications which had just passed, which seemed so out of keeping with old Scott, I was able to ascertain that they were all quite in keeping with young Scott. What had happened was that this spirit who began by being one person, old Scott, ended up by being quite another person, young Scott, and this without the medium being aware of the change that had taken place. The one character passed into the other without the medium knowing anything at all about it, or the control. As soon as young Scott began to manifest, it became quite clear who he was, just as it had been clear who old Scott was, but the transition from one to the other without any warning, without any awareness on the part of the control, seemed to me a very remarkable and puzzling phenomenon.* - L. P. JACKS, D.D., D.Litt.
* This is a most remarkable example of one spirit playing two parts, and either confusing them through sheer inadvertence in play-acting, or else clumsily attempting to delude the inquirer by a fresh personation. The former is much the more probable. Christians need to be thoroughly awake to the fact of spirit personation.
AN UNGUARDED ATTITUDE
The unguarded attitude of many believers concerning the spirit world, as though there was no fearful peril of deceit, is seen, in but one of a thousand examples, in the Report of the Archbishops Committee on the Evangelistic Work of the Church:- There are some who believe that they see signs that we are approaching an age of the Spirit. The wider recognition of the Divine indwelling in the soul of man, the longing for the development of latent spiritual powers, the reaction from the materialistic influences of the nineteenth century towards all forms of religion which offer men experience of the spiritual world, the increasing perception of the operation of the Holy Spirit in all that ministers to the artistic and imaginative side of life, to the health of the body and to the light of the mind, would seem to be preparing the way for an Epiphany of the Holy Ghost.
A DEMONIC BAPTISM AND AN IMAGINARY TEST
God did not disappoint me. The power of the Holy Ghost came down as a bright cloud. It was brighter than the sun. I was covered and wrapped up in it. My body was light as the air. It seemed that heaven came down. I was baptized with the Holy Ghost, and fire, and power which has never left me. Oh, praise the Lord! There was liquid fire, and the angels were all around in the fire and glory. It is through the Lord Jesus Christ, and by this power that I have stood before hundreds of thousands of men and women, proclaiming the unsearchable riches of Christ.
A woman asked the Lord to show her if we were teaching the doctrine of Christ. The Lord showed her in a vision. The platform we used for a pulpit, and the mourners bench, were pure white. She saw me and those who were with me clothed in pure white. On the platform she saw some earthen vessels, white as snow, and over all these was a soft cloud of glory, whiter than the driven snow. Over all the vessels she saw in shining letters: These are my chosen vessels bearing the pure gospel of Christ in power. Everything you see is pure white, the symbol of purity. She told the vision to the congregation.* - MRS. WOODWORM ETTER.
* Signs and Wonders, pp. 17, 42.
THE SIGN OF THE CROSS
Here is a trance utterance of a powerful Demon now speaking in London which - while it may be pure jargon, since we have no means whereby to correct its statements on the unseen nevertheless lights up the superstition and spiritism of the Church of Rome (Rev. 18: 2):- A person comes obsessed. I have had them brought into my healing room fighting and screaming - forced into the room and they stand or are held in front of the Altar. Sometimes they throw themselves down on their backs on the floor in front of the Altar. They may be speaking in some language that is unknown to them. Sometimes they curse. What we do is this: we have special guides for that special work and the obsessing spirit is demanded to leave in the Name of Jesus Christ. The Sign of The Cross is made over the body. Not the short Sign but six inches above the body down to the ground and four or five inches either side of the shoulders. The hand is dipped in water and the Cross is made at the back and the front. The higher spiritual entities who deal with the particular case cannot see the physical body or the etheric of a person that is under obsession, but they can see that Cross and they gather round and gradually - sometimes instantaneously - drive out the obsessing spirit.*
* Beyond, Aug. 1931.
Deceiving spirits carefully adapt their suggestions and leadings to the idiosyncrasies of the believer, so that they do not get found out; i.e., no leading will be suggested contrary to any strong truth of God firmly rooted in the mind, or contrary to any special bias of the mind. If the mind has a practical bent, no visibly foolish leading will be given; if the Scriptures are well known, nothing contrary, to Scripture will be said; if the believer feels strongly on any point, the leadings will be harmonized to suit that point; and, wherever possible, will be so adapted to previously true guidance of God, as to appear to be the continuance of the same guidance. - War on the Saints, p. 141.*
[* Read more from this book, it on this website. Ed.]
Beloved, [the Apostle] John
interjects, dont be believing
every spirit, but test the spirits, to see whether they are of God. It is a common and perilous mistake, occurring even in books of
Christian evidence, to treat the supernatural as synonymous with the Divine. One is amazed at the facility with which many
religious-minded people fall into the meshes of spiritualism. Let them be persuaded that they are
witnessing manifestations from another world, and they bow to them at once as
Divine revelation, without considering their intrinsic character, their moral
worth, their agreement with Scripture, and established truth.*
The false spirits are of the world, John
says (1 John 4.) - animated by its spirit and tastes, therefore they speak of the world - they
utter what it prompts, they give back to the world its own ideas, and tickle
its ear with its vain fancies; and the world
heareth them. To confess Jesus Christ come in the flesh is to
declare the oneness of His Divine-human person as an abiding certainty, not
from His baptism, but from His birth and onwards. (Note the force of the Greek perfect,
arrived, come for good and all). In the latter negative clause (verse 3a) it is to be observed that the
Apostle writes Jesus with
the Greek definite article, as much as to say, this
Jesus - the Jesus thus defined -
Jesus as the Church knows. Him and the Apostles preached Him, He it is whom the spirit
of error rejects, and whose person it would dissolve and destroy. - G. G.
* The injunction of John equally overthrows the opposite error that nothing miraculous can now be Divine. It is thus expressed by Dr. J. Lindsay:- All the truths are promulgated which it concerns us to know; and all the miracles have been performed which were necessary to convince us that they are truths of God. To look after this for new revelations, new prophets, new miracles, is to despise the Gospel of Christ, and to turn His grace into wantonness. This makes any test totally unnecessary. D. M. Panton.
* * *
WAITING FOR THE HOLY SPIRIT
Nearly twenty years have now passed away, since I became acquainted with the individual of whom I am now to speak. At certain revival meetings I preached a sermon on the influences of the Holy Spirit. It was a time of revival in the church; and the truths of the Gospel, preached at such a time, when the [Holy] Spirit of God was poured out, and when people were peculiarly attentive and solemn, were not likely to be entirely forgotten, even by those who were mere hearers of the Word.
Some months after this I entered the same village again. I preached a short sermon, and accompanied the clergyman to his home.
We were not seated in the parlour, before a servant entered, and said, a lady in the hall wished to see me. I immediately stepped into the hall, and a very genteel woman, about forty years of age, addressed me, with evident agitation:- I beg your pardon for troubling you to-night, sir, but I cannot help it. I have longed to see you ever since you preached here in August. I have often felt that I would give anything to see you, for even five minutes. I have prayed for that privilege. I am very glad to see you, Madam; but I suspect you have taken all this trouble in vain. Why, sir, cannot you talk with me one minute? cannot you answer me one question? said she, her eyes overflowing with tears. Certainly, certainly, Madam; I can talk with you as long as you please to favour me with your company, and will answer any questions you choose to ask, as well as I can; but I suspect you need an aid which I cannot give you.
Sir, I want only one thing of you. I want you to tell me how I shall procure the Holy Spirit. I have wanted to ask you this question for months. If you will only tell me, I will not intrude myself upon you any longer. (Entirely overcome with her emotions, she wept like a child.) Intrude! my dear lady. I thank you, with all my hearrt, for coming to me. I beg you to do me the justice to believe it, and feel yourself perfectly at ease. Ask me anything, or tell me anything you will, with entire freedom. I will not abuse your confidence.
She stood before me, trembling and weeping, as if her heart would break. And as she aimed to repress her emotions, and removed her handkerchief from her eyes, the light of the hall-lamp shone full upon her face, and I was surprised at the deep solemnity and determination, which appeared in one of the most intelligent and beautiful countenances, that I ever beheld. Her intelligence and the elegance of her language surprised me. She was in middle life, a married woman, having a husband still living, and two small children. Her husband was not a pious man; and her thoughts about her own salvation had led her to think much of his, and of the duty she owed to her children. Her first serious impressions arose from the thought that in her unbelief she could not fitly train them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
Oh! sir, said she; (the tears streaming from her eyes, and her sensations almost choking utterance;) I would give all the world to be a Christian! I know I am a sinner, an undone sinner! I have a vile and wicked heart. I have sinned all my life! I wonder God has spared me so long! But he has spared you, Madam; when you did not deserve it. And what has he spared you for, but that you should repent of sin and flee to Christ for pardon? I would repent, if I could. I want to be a Christian. But my hard, wicked heart is stronger than I! For years I have read my Bible, and struggled and prayed; and it has done me no good! I am afraid I shall be cast off for ever! God has not given me his Spirit! I too am afraid you will be cast off for ever. Probably your danger is greater than you think. But there is mercy in Christ for the chief of sinners. His blood cleanseth from - I know it, sir; I know all that, from my Bible. I have read it a thousand times. But I cannot come to Christ without the Holy Spirit.
Madam, the text is plain, if ye being evil know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to But I am not one of his children, sir. The text does not say, to his children, my dear Madam; it says, to them that ask him. Ask and ye shall receive. Oh! I have prayed - I do, pray. Allow me to ask you, Madam, how long you have been in this state of mind?
About three years. I was first brought to think of my salvation, soon after the birth of my first child; what troubled me was that I could not do my duty to it, for I was not a child of God. And have you been accustomed, for so long a time, to read your Bible carefully? Oh! I have read it all, again and again! I read it daily. I have prayed and wept over this subject, for long years and have waited for the Holy Spirit to renew my heart. And have you been waiting for the Holy Spirit for three years, in this state of mind? Indeed, sir, I have. Then for three years you have been waiting for what God gave you three years ago. It was the Holy Spirit which first led you to feel you were a sinner and needed Christ. The Holy Spirit has been striving with you all along, and you did not know it. He led you the Bible. He led you to prayer. He sent you here to-night. He strives with you now, to lead you to Christ for forgiveness and peace. Do you think so? said she with astonishment. I know so, said I. God has been better to you, than you have thought. He has done what you have never given him credit for. He has called, and you have refused. He has invited, and you have held back. You thought you must not come, and could not. You may, on the spot. The Holy Spirit has not left you yet. The Holy Spirit is with you. Do not resist him any longer. You have stayed away from Christ, because you supposed you must. You wanted the Holy Spirit first; and thought you must not come to Christ, till your heart was better. The dispensation of the Spirit is in his hands. Go to the fountain.
Pardon me, sir, I must ask you again, if you really think, Holy Spirit is striving with me? Yes, my dear friend, I know he is. He has been for years. He offers you his aid, calls you to Christ now. Go to Christ. Repent to-night. Accept and rest on Christ now. The Holy Ghost saith, To-day, if ye will hear his voice, harden not your heart. And is that all you have to say to me, about the Holy Spirit? Yes, that is all. The Holy Spirit this moment strives with you. God is willing to save you. Nothing but your own unbelief and impenitence can ruin you. Has the Spirit been striving with me? and I did not know it? (said she, in the manner of meditation, the tears streaming from her eyes). She left me, and returned to her home.
Early the next morning, before the sun rose, as I looked from my window, I beheld her. Said she, the moment she saw me; her eyes streaming with tears and her countenance beaming with joy:- It was all true. I have found it true. I can rejoice in Christ now. I am happy, sir, oh, I am happy. I thought I must come and thank you. I thought you could tell me something about obtaining the gift of the Holy Spirit, and when I asked you about it last night, I was very much disappointed by what you said. I was amazed and confounded. You did not say what I expected. But I believed you. I spent the night over this subject. Happy night for me! And now, I know you told me the truth. Pardon me, sir; I must ask you, to tell other sinners, that Christ is waiting for them. I bless you for telling me, I need not wait. Weeping for joy, she continued to talk to me in this manner, for some minutes. I have not seen her since. But I have learned, that she publicly professed her faith, and has lived for years, as a reputable and happy believer.
* * * * * * *
The subtlety of the adversary is wonderful. The want of the Holy Spirit was this womans obstacle. The devil had led her to believe, that she was forsaken of the Spirit; and if she was, she knew from the Bible, that there was no other help for her. Instead of going to Christ, therefore, in faith, she miserably supposed that she must wait. She did not know, that the very urgency and influence of the Holy Spirit consist in bringing sinners to embrace Jesus Christ, as he is offered to us in the gospel. The very thing that God wanted her to do, was the very thing that she supposed she must not do; and thus she was compelled to wait in darkness and fear, by a subtle device of the adversary. It is important for convicted sinners to know, that the case of their irreligion is not, that Christ is not willing to receive them, but that they are not willing to trust in him.*
* Dr. Spencers narrative is a beautiful correction of the unbeliever waiting for the Holy Spirit in conversion, for the Spirit is to be had immediately through Christ; but the [regenerate] believers waiting for the Holy Spirit - whether rightly or wrongly - for the enduement of power (Luke 24: 49) at once exposes him to the peril of deceitful spirits requiring tests. The Apostle John combines the two in one breath. Hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he gave us. Beloved, believe not every spirit, but prove the spirits whether they are of God (1 John 3: 24, 4: 1). Nothing could prove more clearly that the mere fact of the indwelling Spirit is not sufficient, alone, to deliver from alien spirits masquerading as the Holy Ghost.‑ D. M. PANTON.**
[** Disobedience and wilful sin in a regenerate person, can also be the cause of the Holy Spirits departing: We must obey God rather than men. We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit whom God has given TO THOSE WHO OBEY HIM: (Acts 5: 29, 32, R.S.V.). See also 1 Sam. 16: 14; 19: 9; Judges 16: 20. See The Personal Indwelling of the Holy Spirit by G. H. LANG. Ed.]
* * *
THE PHILADELPHIAN LETTER
churches of Asia are not an accidental aggregation, which might just as
conveniently have been eight of six, or any other number; on the contrary,
there is a fitness in this number, and
these seven do in some sort represent the Universal Church: so that we
have a right to contemplate the seven as offering to us the great and leading
aspects, moral and spiritual, which churches gathered in the name of Christ out
of the world will assume; and the great
Head of the Church contemplates them as symbolic of the
- ARCHBISHOP TRENCH.
THE HOLY AND TRUE
Christ here claims
to be the Holy
One and therefore God (ch. 6: 10; ch. 4: 8; John 17: 11). In the
Old Testament the Holy One is a frequent
name of God, especially in Isaiah 1: 4; 5: 19, 24; 10: 7, 20; 12: 6, etc.; Job 6: 10; Jer.
1: 29; 51: 5; Ezek. 39: 7; Hos. 11; 9; Hab. 3: 3, etc. The Holy One has a very distinct meaning of its own. Varax, is true. As
opposed to lying; verus, is (as here) true as opposed to spurious,
Christ is the True One as opposed to
the false gods of the heathen; they are spurious gods. Both
adjectives are characteristic of
- PRINCIPAL A. PLUMMER,
THE KEY OF DAVID
In Isaiah 55., where Jesus is addressing Himself to all that would
listen, whether Jew or Gentile, He promises, I will make an everlasting covenant with you,
even the sure mercies of David. Now the
promise of the eternal throne to David and to his Son could only be accomplished in resurrection (Luke 1: 32; Jer. 30: 9; Ezek. 34: 23, 24). Therefore the apostle Paul, in his sermon at
But the opening
of Hades is in order to the
- R. GOVETT, M. A.
This announcement of the speedy coming of the Lord, the ever-recurring key-note of this Book (cf. 22: 7, 12, 20), is sometimes used as a word of fear for those who are abusing the Messiahs absence, wasting His goods, and ill-treating their fellow-servants; careless and secure as those for whom no day of reckoning should ever arrive (Matt. 24: 48-51; 2 Thess. 1: 7-9; 1 Pet. 4: 5; cf. Jas. 5: 9; Rev. 2: 5, 16);* but sometimes as a word of infinite comfort for those with difficulty and painfulness holding their ground; He that should bring the long contest at once to an end; who should at once turn the scale, and for ever, in favour of righteousness and truth, is even at the door (Jas. 5: 8; Phil. 4; 5; 2 Thess. 1: 20; Heb. 10: 37; 2 Pet. 3: 14).
- ARCHBISHIP TRENCH.
* Thus the current prophetical view that the Advent is a crisis of pure joy to all believers, irrespective of their attitude or conduct, is quite untrue. But the most crucial disproof the Archbishop has overlooked. To the Sardian Angel, unwatchful, back-slidden, the Lord Himself makes His arrival a direct threat, and therefore one that cannot be denied as a church threat. If thou shalt not watch, I will come as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon [arrive over] thee" (Rev. 3: 3): the Parousia will have begun, and the un-rapt Angel will not even know it. - D. M. PANTON, M. A.
AN IMMOVABLE PILLAR
This passage is but one of many which set forth the pre-eminence of the
victorious saints of the present dispensation, in the future aeon of
blessedness and glory. They are the firstfruits
(Jas. 1: 18; Rev. 14; 4); the bride (Rev. 21: 9); kings in the Kingdom then
to be established (Rev. 2: 26; 3: 22); priests in the holy congregation (Rev. 1: 6; 5: 10; 20: 6); pillars in the heavenly
- E. R. CRAVEN,
The word of Christ, as the Philadelphians knew it, was not a word calling them to easy and luxurious and applauded entrance into the Kingdom, but to much tribulation first, with the Kingdom and the glory of it afterwards.
- A. PLUMMER,
HE THAT SHUTTETH AND NONE OPENETH
Lord, open to us; and he shall answer, Depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity (Luke 13: 25). A little boy was sent away from the table for some misdemeanour and told to stand outside the dining-room door for five minutes as a punishment. He obeyed with tears streaming down his cheeks. When the time of his punishment expired, his little sister was sent out to bring him back. The father held out his arms, and the boy ran to them. As he was enfolded in his fathers embrace he said:- I am so sorry I was naughty. The father kissed him, and wiped away his tears, and then told him about the text in the Bible; And the door was shut. The boy thought he never would get the picture of the naughty ones who were shut out of heaven, but he did.
Years passed, he became an engineer, and was in a mine when a fearful explosion occurred. He ordered all the one hundred and twenty men who were with him to remain behind the closed iron door, as it would keep out the fire-damp and poisonous gases until they were rescued. Whilst the long hours passed, the memory of the shut door came to him, and with it a knowledge of the safety of those who were shut in with Christ. In that time he gave himself at last to Christ, and told the men what he was doing, and why. Not a few followed his example.
AN OPEN DOOR
It is unutterably wonderful that we have actual Letters from our Lord sent to us long after He returned to Heaven; Letters (if possible) infinitely more precious because they are the last communications from Him, and because He has maintained an unbroken silence ever since. They (with the whole Apocalypse) must be of crowning and finishing value for our dispensation. And it is still more impressive, and it brings it closer home to ourselves, that to each of these Letters the Lord Jesus adds a postscript which transmutes the Seven into an Encyclical address to the Universal Church - hear what the Spirit saith TO THE CHURCHES, everywhere, in every age; so that here and now - not a whit less than nineteen centuries ago - the Lord is actually speaking to us. And what is most thrilling of all is that in each case it is a believer standing alone before his Lord, as each of us must do before long; that the Lords analysis in these seven cases is a forecast of the investigation of us all, the Apocalypse being the book of judgment, and judgment beginning at the House of God (1 Pet. 4: 17); that therefore the Letters are judical throughout, grace, salvation, atonement, justification, being never once named, for all are assumed;* and so, therefore, if each of us is Sardinian or Philadelphian or Laodicean in character, exactly such shall be the words, and no other, we shall receive from the Lord on His Judgment Seat.
* The whole standing of the Churches has already been defined once for all (Rev. 1: 5,) in the magnificent doxology on which the Lord erects the entire superstructure of the Seven Letters.
Christ opens every
Letter by blocking the vision with Himself; and His presentment of Himself to
AN OPEN DOOR
Now the Lord reveals His estimate of the Angels character. I know thy works, that thou hast a little power, AND DIDST KEEP MY WORD, and didst not deny my name. The central fact is that, against a thousand odds, the Angel obeyed the Scriptures. Jesus Himself makes clear that to have and to keep are totally distinct:- He that hath my commandments, and KEEPETH them, he it is that loveth me (John 14: 21). Truth we do not live, we lose; and the supreme quality in the Angel on which Christ seizes is both his Scriptural creed and its embodiment in his life. He lived what Christ uttered. Here is our own golden opportunity. Every doctrine to-day has to fight for its life; and so for the prayerful, the studious, the wide-awake the opportunity is rich and rare, for all such have been divorced by the modern earthquake from the merely conventional, and breathes wider air as they stand on the precipices of the end; while for somnambulists in the Church the cries will be certain shipwreck. All turns on that which Christ finds in the Philadelphian - integrity of heart-devotion to the Scriptures, and ceaseless squaring of the life to the Book.
Our Lord now casts
His shield over a persecuted Angel. Behold, I will make them [the
synagogue of Satan] to know
that I have loved thee. The Church immediately
after the Apostles had no more bitter enemy than the Jew, and twice in these
Letters our Lord uses the terrible expression that ought to pull up abruptly
all who would, under any conditions whatever, amalgamate the synagogue and the
Church. To collaborate with Satans
Synagogue is only less sinful than it will be to collaborate with Antichrists
* It is noteworthy that twenty years later the Philadelphian Church was more in danger of Judaizing Christians than from Jews (Dr. Swete). Christ states that what He says, the Spirit says; so conversely therefore what the Spirit says, He says - and this covers the whole Bible: but obviously My word includes, and specially accentuates, our Lords own personal utterances. He thus here affirms His Ascension charge (Matt. 28: 20) decades after Pauls death, and the revelation of the mystery. All teaching therefore, whatever its source, which pronounces our Lords words as Jewish, or relegates them to another dispensation, must be resisted with our whole strength, if ours is to be the Philadelphians praise.
Christ now gives the only direct personal promise given to an Angel (with the promise in the verse preceding) in the whole Seven Letters; and in doing so He narrows down the kept word to a section of it, and bases His promise on that kept section. It is most striking than no sooner has our Lord commended the most faithful servant of the seven than His thoughts turn, first to deliverance from the Great Tribulation, and then to coronation in the Kingdom beyond. Because thou didst keep* and He addresses His Word so specifically to the church that it is impossible to challenge it as a Church revelation on how alone escape from the Tribulation is possible for ourselves; and it is equally indisputable that Christ bases the Philadelphians exemption, not on his standing in grace, but four-square on a specific attitude in his Christian conduct. Nor could the Lord Jesus more closely interlock the two. If we keep his Advent word as an intact jewel, as an intact jewel He will keep us out of earths last awful storm.** This critical utterance of Christ is a sword double-edged (Rev. 2: 16) cutting right and left: on the one hand, it excludes from deliverance all believers who do not share the Angels attitude; on the other, his deliverance from the hour, and not from the trial only, makes it impossible for any such ever to see the Tribulation at all.*** If the Angel had not escaped by death, he would have escaped by rapture. It is the Divine lex ialionis, which has been beautifully called here the lex benigna - the gracious retort, the love-recoil, of fidelity.****
* The Greek word is:- In the sense of obeyed, watchfully observed (Dr. Swete). The word of Christs patience - the doctrine concerning a delayed Advent - is the patient waiting for Christ, till He, the waited-for so long, shall at length appear (Archbishop Trench).
** Because thou hast kept my word, therefore in return I will keep thee (Trench). As the Philadelphians had continued steadfast throughout the period of ordinary testing, they were to be exempted from these extraordinary trials which were to come upon the world (Dr. E. R. K. Craven). It is a special reward assured by our Lord to a special excellence (Govett).
*** One school of interpreters habitually overlooks a point which, to say the least, makes their interpretation extremely difficult, if not impossible. The deliverance promised is not from a place, but from a time: Jesus does not say he will keep the Philadelephian out of the Tribulation, but out of its hour: that is, when the hour strikes, the Angel - either by death or rapture - will not be on earth at all. How can a man be kept from a given hour if, with everybody else, he has to pass through that hour? Equally fatal is it that, as a matter of fact, the Angel is dead, and so cannot conceivably be kept through the Tribulation: if that is what the promise meant, it has failed.
**** It is extraordinary how the simultaneous rapture of all could be built on these words; yet Mr. William Kelly, voicing many, says, - So the Church will be kept from the coming hour. It ought to be obvious that the whole Church can be so kept only if the whole Church is, without exception, Philadelphian; and he who imagines this is watching a desert mirage. The principal idea is plain, and very striking. The promise is special on the ground that the virtues in question are special (Moses Stuart). Christ on His part pledges Himself to keep those who have kept His word (Dr. Swete).]
Our Lord now passes to coronation. He separates sharply between rapture and the Kingdom, revealing that escape from the coming horrors does not, by itself, ensure coronation at the Coming. I come quickly: hold fast that which thou hast, that no one take thy crown: he that overcometh,* I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God. The Philadelphians escape from earths horrors was certain; his crown is still in jeopardy: the one is dependent on Advent attitude; the other, on unswerving fidelity to our last breath.** The Lord concentrates everything on our holding fast against a thousand countering storms. Amiel wrote in his journal, for no eyes but his own, these words:- He who is silent is forgotten; he who abstains is taken at his word; he who does not advance falls back; he who stops is overwhelmed, distanced, crushed; he who ceases to grow greater becomes smaller; he who leaves off gives up; the stationary condition is the beginning of the end - it is the terrible symptom which produces death. The very brevity of the battle is our appeal. In the Russo-Japanese war, just before a Russian admirals flag-ship was blown to pieces, and while, among the falling shells, mens heads are said to have grown grey in a few minutes, the Admiral turned to his men and cried, - This is our last fight, men: be brave! So once again the Crown (and therefore the [millennial] Kingdom) *** is declared not of grace, but conditional, dependent on conduct, forfeitable; and as the Kingdom looms nearer in the King, Jesus signals - Hold out: I come quickly!
* The conqueror, the victorious member of the Church as such (Dr. Swete).
** The idea is that perseverance is essential to the final reward of Christians (Moses Stuart).
*** - That which is at once the wreath of the victor and the crown of the king (Dr. E. R. Craven).
THE HEARING EAR
The words with which the Lord closes every Letter are far more solemn than the Churches of God seem to realize. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith to the Churches: that is, since the Spirit is addressing the Churches only, the hearing ear and the unhearing ear are both inside the Church. Spiritual truth needs a spiritual organ to receive it. When our Lord addresses John at the close of the Book, after the whole volume has been dictated in Patmos, and says, - I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify these things FOR THE CHURCHES (Rev. 22: 16), it is obvious that the churches must include those then existing: equally certain is it, therefore, that when here, at the opening of the Book, He says to John, - "Hear what the Spirit saith TO THE CHURCHES," these must equally include the Churches then existing on earth, and they can be no imaginary assemblies yet to arise in the Tribulation. He who dictates each Epistle allows of no limitation to one Church alone, or one Angel alone, or one century alone: the contents of every Letter are for every believer everywhere. BLESSED IS HE THAT KEEPETH THE SAYINGS - and supremely the sayings to the Churches - OF THE PROPHECY OF THIS BOOK (Rev. 22: 7). His church may perish, but the individual believer can triumph; or his church may triumph, while he passes into the shadows.
* * *
BAPTISM AND REGENERATION
By D. M. PANTON, B.A.
Whether we like it or no, we are met to-day with a tremendous challenge that rocks the very foundations of the Faith. For 430,000,000 of professed Christians, out of a total of 630,000,000 - or two out of every three Christians in the world - tell us that the water in baptism regenerates, and - since it is exclusively infant baptism - that the water regenerates an unconscious infant that can have no faith; that is, that faith and regeneration, in such cases, are totally sundered. And the mightiest Communion of all, numbering some 310,000,000, bans all who deny this under curse: If any one shall say that in the Romish Church, which is the mother and mistress of all churches, there is not the true doctrine concerning the sacrament of baptism, let him be anathema.* It is a challenge that not one of us can evade.
* Canons of the Council of
THEORY AND FACT
Now comparison of theory with
fact can be annihilating. During 1930 there were 420,281 infant baptisms in the Anglican Churches in
SIN AND GRACE
But still more silencing - if that be possible - is the utterance of God which defines and expounds the nature of baptism; and Paul begins by asking a critical question at a critical moment. In his opening chapters addressed to the Church of Rome, he has expounded exhaustively Gods Righteousness - what it is, what kind of men it is designed for, Who wrought it, and who have it: namely Christs obedience to God wrought on behalf of desperately sinful man, a righteousness which is imputed, and which is received on simple faith. A question instantly arises startlingly more germane to modern evangelical thought than might be supposed. If salvation is solely by grace, and the pardon of sin is the glory of grace, is not post-conversion sin also covered by grace, and therefore negligible, or even advantageous, since it magnifies grace? What shall we say then - after the imputed Righteousness has been appropriated? shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? (Rom. 6: 1).
THE CRUCIFIXION OF THE BELIEVER
Now the first answer Paul gives is the crucifixion of the believer. We who died to sin - in the person of our Lord upon the cross - how shall we any longer live therein? knowing this, that our old man was crucified WITH him (ver. 6). All humanity was potentially crucified on the cross with Christ, who tasted death for every man (Heb. 2: 9); but he who is vitally united with Christ has been spiritually crucified with Him on the cross, legally sharing all the experiences of Him with whom he is now experimentally and organically one. If a man has died for a crime, and, by some miracle, is raised from the dead, will he commit that crime again? Thus, before baptism rises on the horizon at all, the sole object presented to us by the Spirit is a man already so radically saved that his further sinning is as unnatural as would be action on the part of a dead man.
But Paul now introduces baptism; and by introducing baptism as that which silences the objection the Apostle meets baptismal regeneration with a fundamental and final overthrow, while at the same time a flood of light is poured on baptism itself. Or are ye ignorant - for we may never have mastered the meaning of a ritual which we have quite sincerely and rightly undergone - that all we who are baptized - for even so early as Pauls day not all Christians had obeyed the command - into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? that is, by baptism, in its Divinely commanded confession, in its ritual evidence, our identity with Christ in a crucified death is exhibited before angels and men. But baptism is more than a spiritual decease. We were BURIED therefore with Him through baptism [not through faith] into death. Crucifixion with Christ, a fact true of all the children of God, passes by baptism, which is as separate from conversion as burial is distinct from death, into a public funeral with the Lord.* So the baptistry shines forth in its marvellous symbolism: a trench in the earth ten feet by four, dug for a corpse, and filled with a judgment-flood; a picture so close to reality that if the baptized man were kept under that judgment-flood for five minutes, he would be, a corpse; and so essentially a grave that no man can baptize himself, but must be laid by other hands in his tomb.**
* So clear is this Scripture that it is all but universally admitted that as originally instituted, and as here described, baptism is the ritual burial of an already converted man, and nothing else. All commentators of note (except Stuart and Hodge) expressly admit or take it for granted that in this verse the ancient prevailing mode of baptism by immersion and emersion is implied, as giving additional force to the idea of the going down of the old and the rising up of the new man (Lange). Baptism is the answer of a good conscience toward God (1 Pet. 3: 21), and therefore if there is no answer, there is no baptism.
** It is true that here the Apostle, also and simultaneously, implies the figure of a voluntary drowning, a self-immersion of the soul under the judgment that overwhelmed Calvary, a voluntary death and burial, exactly as our Lord was both active and passive in His death and resurrection. So, like Noah - in whose experience another Apostle (1 Pet. 3: 21) locates one of the types of baptism - we pass safely through the Flood, for we are lodged in the wrath-proof, blood-pitched Righteousness of Christ, into which we entered of our own free will. Both figures are a death-blow to baptismal regeneration, for both are false without conscious faith in the baptized before the ritual act. Nor is there such a thing as substitutionary faith. He who believes by proxy will he damned in person (Henry Rogers).
So then the answer to baptismal regeneration is overwhelming.* As only he may be buried who is already dead, so baptismal regeneration - which professes to crucify with Christ the soul it buries - is a spiritual deceit. So far from baptism creating regeneration, regeneration is the one indispensable condition for baptism: only the dead can be buried: Scripture regards the baptized as the saved (Mark 16: 16; 1 Pet. 3: 21) because it is the saved that are baptized: we died to sin; we were buried THEREFORE. To bury a man alive is a crime; and to baptize an unbeliever of any age - a soul alive to the world and to sin, one who has never been put to death on the Cross - is in the spiritual realm exactly what, in the physical realm, is the burying of a man who has never died. Only a corpse can be entombed. And conversely: a corpse has no right above ground; as proper and fitting as it is that a dead body should be buried, so proper and fitting is it that the old man should be buried out of sight in baptism. Repent ye [death to the old] and be baptized [burial and resurrection to the new] EVERY ONE OF YOU (Acts 2: 38) is the Spirits word to all believers in the first throb of the Pentecostal power.
* It is tragic to remember that out of the 630,000,000 professed Christians, only the 12,000,000 Baptists (together with the Open Brethren, whatever their number) can use the Divine argument; for if the baptized person is not a believer, and if the baptism is not a ritual grave, the argument is meaningless, and false both in ritual and in fact. The un-baptized believer does not escape the obligation, but merely doubles his liability.
Baptism therefore, the ritual of consecration, is an exquisite picture of Gods design for our un-sinning sanctity. The hard, deep, black trench which God draws between the Church and the world is nothing short of a grave: the flood-filled tomb drowns the old life, and smothers and suffocates the past: it is the putting of the old man, and every part of the old man, out of sight for ever, as completely as a corpse is engulfed and obliterated under earth. We not only bury our past, but we bury ourselves. Baptism is the seal of the death, the certificate of the decease; and as a corpse is poor company, repulsive to the living, so the man whose life corresponds with his baptism the world shuns and boycotts.
But the lovelier side of Gods ritual is a radiant revelation. Baptism embodies much more than a funeral: fellowship in death passes into fellowship in life: our passivity under redemption is awakened into intensest activity: death is swallowed up of life. That like as Christ was raised from the dead - See Gk - out of dead ones, in a selective resurrection - by the glory of the Father, so we also - ascending out of an open grave, and abandoning the moth-eaten garments of a forgotten life - should walk - for we are corpses no more; for our standing in Christ is created with the sole purpose of our walk with God - in NEWNESS OF LIFE - in the clean-washed conduct of the sanctified. The baptized man has risen out of a dead world, a world which he has abandoned to death and doom: dead manward, he is now a-quiver with life Godward. Our Lord, after resurrection, visited earth, but He lived in heaven; and so in baptism - its immersion and emersion, its burial and resurrection, its bath and cleansing, its identification with a passive righteousness and its arousal to an active righteousness, a newness of life out of an emptied tomb - we have a triumphant reply to acquiescence in a sin-stained life. Even so reckon ye also yourselves to be dead unto sin, but ALIVE UNTO GOD.
THE FIRST RESURRECTION
Finally, the Spirit slips in a warning and an incentive for an ear sensitive enough to hear it. For if we have become united with Him - if we have become His, fellow-plants - in the likeness of His death - that is, in baptism, the ritual photograph, the baptismal plunge (Bishop Moule) - we shall be also - we shall be correspondingly, on a future date, fellow-plants, fellow-partakers - of His resurrection - the First:* that is, if the ritual burial and resurrection has its corresponding spiritual reality, and if the spiritual reality has its corresponding ritual, ours shall be the First Resurrection, of which Christ is already the Firstfruits. Seeds sown together, spring together. The if marks the resurrection to be the prize of our calling, not attained by all believers, but dependent on the holiness called for by God - the contrast to the continuance in sin of the proposal (Govett).**
* Among those who have seen it is literal resurrection are Tertullian, Chrysostom, Olshausen, Tholuck, Wordsworth and Govett.
** So Pauls passion for himself (Phil. 3: 11) is an identical emergence from the mass of the unrisen; and our Lord warns Nicodemus (John 3: 5), that birth out of water, as well as conception by the Spirit, is a condition for entrance into the [Millennial] Kingdom.
REGENERATION OF THE SPIRIT
Two mighty conclusions issue from this unparalleled portrayal of baptism. (1) So far from a believers sin being covered by grace, and so comparatively negligible, it is as abnormal and hideous as a corpse, un-resurrected, rising out of its grave and returning to its old haunts to startle the world. Professor Devaranne quotes a Christian Chinamans reply to the question - How do you differ from the heathen? The Chinaman replied:- We Christians wear a white robe on which every spot is visible. But (2) a far graver conclusion, a conclusion indeed of overwhelming gravity, stands out for ever in baptism as portrayed by this Letter from God to the Church of Rome. Regeneration by water is a colossal falsehood; but, far worse than that, since 430,000,000 of mankind are relying on it for eternal salvation, it is a fearful camouflage of truth - a false cheque, a spurious coin, a rotten raft, a poisoned medicine. Certain Divine truths, imbibed, create the new man: without these truths, thus imbibed, he cannot be created: therefore the new man in Christ may be simulated and parodied and assiduously preached, but, whether baptized or un-baptized, without these birth-producing truths he is simply non-existent. He that BELIEVETH on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; BUT THE WRATH OF GOD ABIDETH ON HIM (John 3: 36).
* * *
THE IDENTITY OF CHRIST
By D. M. PANTON, B.A.
In Caesarea Philippi we stand at
the very fountain of the
So therefore we do well, first of all, to observe with extreme care exactly what the question is: Who - not what - do men say that I the Son of man am? (Matt. 16: 13). The question is not, what do men say of my character, or conduct, or influence, or history; but, what do they say of my nature, my origin, my identity, my hereafter? Who am I? whence am I? out of what world? by what birth? The character of Christ is not the challenge: the question infinitely mote critical, infinitely more momentous, and the only question the Lord asks, is - Who? not What? Even such a judgment as Tennysons - The spiritual character of Christ is more wonderful than the greatest miracle - may infer the answer, but it is not the answer, for it is not the question.
THE WORLDS ANSWER
The Lord first probes the worlds judgment. Who do men say that I am? and the Apostles address themselves exactly to the question. Mutatis mutandis, it is the answer of two thousand years. Men place the Lord on a pedestal the sublimity of which could not be higher as a man: beyond that they never travel:- John the Baptist, the greatest born of woman; Elijah, the forerunner of the Second Advent; Jeremiah, or one of the Prophets - the mightiest human instruments God has ever used. He is so wondrous (the world says) as to be a man supremely great: but to nobody in the world is He more:* He differs from other men not in kind, but only in degree; and so completely did this answer reveal no regeneration, so absolutely dead is the soul it lays bare, that the men who thus praise Him are the men who murdered Him.
* Swedenborg, a powerful Spiritualistic medium before Spiritualism was born, brought it from the spirit world that Jesus was the only God, so that while He was on earth there was no God in Heaven; but this has never been the answer of humanity.
A CLOSER QUESTION
But now our Lord comes closer home. You and I are now involved. Another mans unbelief can no more damn me than his faith can save me: so the Lord probes again into every breast But who say YE that I am? Observe most carefully, the Saviour offers no comment, makes no correction, on the worlds wild guesses: all He does is to draw out the general opinion as to His identity so as to learn - by a still closer inquiry - what I think, what you think. It is not enough for you (He says) to know the convictions of others: what is yours?
Now this supreme question always forces a soul into the open; and its very gravity, the awful chasm it opens, the fearful danger it can involve, makes the answer the more tremendous. For the Lord Jesus was very careful to state His humanity most studiedly: who do men say that I the Son of man - the very embodiment of the human am? But now He has so drawn out the worlds judgment upon Himself that if He be far more than man, we realize at once that the authority of the world is against Him; and that therefore each soul must now either advance infinitely beyond the world in its estimate, or else fall back into the world, sharing both its estimate and its doom. And the question forces us all completely into the open. For the question is not, Who am I? but, Who do YOU SAY - for our Lord assumes that we are sincere, truthful, honest - that I am? What is your considered judgment? and what is your open confession? what is in your soul as to my identity, and therefore what is upon your lips? Whatever one gets drowned in, fills the mouth (Schweitzer).
THE CHURCHS [i.e., THE REGENERATE BELIEVERS] ANSWER
Now how critical it all is appears in the Apostles answer. THOU ART THE CHRIST, THE SON OF THE LIVING GOD. See how pregnant an answer:- Christ in time, Son of God in eternity; Christ in function, Son of God in identity; an effective Christ (or Messiah), because Son of God come into the world; as Christ human, as Son of God divine. The Old Testament lodged all salvation in the coming Christ, and the New Testament discloses that the Christ is no other than the Son of God. The Word was with God, and the Word was God; and the Word became flesh (John 1, 14) - the God-man. Peter simply takes up our Lords own statements concerning Himself (John 4: 25; 9: 35), and says, Thou art who Thyself hast said, for Thou art the Truth. Now this is the one answer the world has never given, and which it never will give: it is the whole Christian creed packed into a single phrase: it is the answer which cost Peter, and has cost millions since, their life. The worlds estimate never soars higher than the tableland of a mighty prophet: the Churchs estimate never falls below Incarnate Deity.**
* The criterion of Christ - which the writer, apart from two or three cases of conscious fraud, has never known to fail - is of great value for inquiry room workers. If a soul is silent when confronted with the question Who is Jesus Christ? while he is given no hint of the right answer, and remains silent, or gives an answer which is neither Peters nor its equivalent, it is unsaved.
[*Jehovahs Witnesses may say, Jesus is the son of God: but when asked if He is God the son, there is an open denial of His Incarnate Deity.]
So our Lord, as the critical investigator, at once passes judgment on the only creed which has ever been submitted to Him. On the worlds creed He is utterly silent, for the lauding of Christ, with no acknowledgment of His identity, is, so far as salvation is concerned, quite valueless: on the other hand, all beatitude, all regeneration, all revelation Jesus instantly lodges in the only answer the Church has ever given, and ever will give. BLESSED art thou, Simon bar-Jonah:- blessed, and therefore passed out from under the Curse: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto, thee, but my Father which is in heaven. The Lords statement is most wonderful. So transcendently true is this truth that no human brain conceived it, no human logic inferred it, no human tongue taught it, but only God reveals it. So concealed is the humble Jesus, so hidden is the Godhead in the Man of Sorrows, so blind is man to goodness, so unfamiliar with the Divine, that only God can reveal it. So loaded is the dice in the fallen heart, so instinctive the revolt against what the truth demands, that no accumulation of knowledge, no penetration of intellect, no maturity of study can show this truth, but only God can reveal it. Books, or ministers, or evangelists, or parents can be like the burning-glass, that so focuses the light on something inflammable that it suddenly bursts into flame; but it is the light, not the burning-glass, that creates the fire. Thus the truth is also revealed negatively: as out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh, so out of the emptiness of the heart the mouth is silent: if the Son of God - [i.e., meaning God Himself as the Fathers only begotten Son, for angels are sons of God; Adam was a son of God] - does not cross the lips, it is because the Son of God is not in the soul. Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, GOD DWELLETH, IN HIM, and he in God (1 John 4: 15). Nothing else, and nothing less is saving truth. Christian ethics and Christian atmosphere never yet saved a soul, and never will.
So now the whole Church of the living God springs at once out of the confession of Peter. Upon this rock - the massive Lord so confessed, but also the confession itself, the first great apostles creed I will build MY CHURCH. For the first time in the Bible the word church occurs; and it is still in the future - I will build my church: the Church had its birth at Pentecost, but it has its conception, in Caesarea Philippi. It is impossible in words so brief, so, pregnant, so momentous, but that Bar-Jonah is fraught with meaning: and it carries its meaning on its face - a son of the Dove is a man regenerate of the Holy Ghost it is the heavenly character photographed in the earthly patronymic: it states what the Holy Spirit said later Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is BEGOTTEN OF GOD (1 John 5: 1). The Lord, having proved what is the substance in the laboratory trough, at once lays it bare: it is a regenerate soul, and therefore the whole Church of God: it is the mass of the regenerate: all Bar-Jonahs, irrespective of name or group, clime or age, race or nation, are the holy, catholic, apostolic Church.
AN ANSWER OF DOOM
So then we reach the grand climax. Our Lords question is the watershed that for ever divides the Church from the world. The worlds answer is a babel, a discord, for they do not know who Jesus is: the millions of the regenerate have never given any answer but the one, for to their souls who Jesus is has been revealed by God. On the one side is conjecture, doubt, uncertainty, discord: on the other, unity, consistency, revelation, [eternal] life. It remains the one vital, unchanging, all-exposing question that confronts every human soul - unless they are to learn the answer too late. And in this answer alone is an eternity of bliss. This is life eternal, to know thee, THE ONLY TRUE GOD, and him whom thou didst send, EVEN JESUS CHRIST (John 17: 3).
God has decreed that He will be unknown except in Christ. - LUTHER.
* * *
OUR CROWN OF ASSURANCE
By D. M. PANTON, B.A.
The most golden (perhaps) of all the promises - felt to so by countless myriads of saints all down the ages - is embedded in the very nature of God, and springs equally from the very nature of things. Paul begins his climb up the last summit of Christian assurance with these words:- We know - for it is not opinion, or conjecture, or inference but fact - that all things - the entire mechanism of the universe - work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose (Rom. 8: 28). For as in nature, so in grace, divine mathematics - albeit invisible - underlie all things. That an acorn never becomes anything but an oak is predestination. All nature is a marvellous mass of co-operating forces duplicating a divine design: so infinite love, co-working with infinite power has stamped upon all things a single design, so that the co-ordinate to achieve a single effect - the ultimate perfection of the child of God. Did I not believe in absolute predestination, King William III said to Bishop Burnett, I could not believe in a providence; for it would be most absurd to suppose a Being of infinite wisdom to act without a plan, for which plan predestination is only another name.
A CHAIN OF GOLD
Five links, wrought of the eternal purposes of God, and looped between eternity and eternity, fasten us to the Eternal Throne; and on those Paul establishes his proof for ever. Two of the links are in the eternity behind; the two middle links lie on the earth, as the chain falls and catches us up with it; the last link is fastened again, out of sight, to the throne of God in the eternity beyond. Here are the five : Whom He foreknew - this is the starting link, forged before times eternal; whom He foreordained - here is the choice, still hidden in the breast of God before the foundation of the world; whom He called - the chain looping down, now lies on the earth, within touch of men; whom He justified - the link that is fastening round each soul as it is saved; whom He glorified - the chain has sprung out of sight, and fastens itself once again on the throne of God in the eternity beyond.
The chain starts from the secret recesses of the mind of God in the eternal ages before creation. Whom He foreknew - in that Divine foreknowledge which is memory reversed, He foreknew not the mass merely, but mentally isolated and recorded its individual units: those on whom His eye fixed from all eternity with love; whom He eternally contemplated and discerned as His (Godet). The vision of the whole of the redeemed rises before God far down through the unborn ages. It is no mere foreknowledge of what they would do, but rather of what He would do for them (Moule). Elect, says Peter, according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ (1 Pet. 1: 2). The eternity before us is based on the eternity behind us, in which everyone of us rose up before the eye of God - not one was wanting there: our future eternity rests, not on time or anything in time, but on the eternity before the creation of man: from the throne of the Almighty in the eternal ages the ordered procession arose, in its endless stream of apostles, prophets, martyrs, witnesses, down to the last child of God that shall ever be born.
The second link in the chain is still out of sight in the eternity behind. Whom He foreknew, He also foreordained - so that He had each fixed in mind, and visibly before Him, as He pronounced the saving decree - to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. This lets us into the profoundest secret of election. God sets the mighty machinery in motion from all eternity, and predestines by Divine decree, not so much to glorify us, as to glorify Christ: our selection is a means to an end, and that end is a group of mirrors set round a central Light - CHRIST thronged with a family of identical holiness. So that election is not so much an election to an escape from hell [i.e., the lake of fire - Ed.], as a fore-ordaining to holiness and Godlike character, for the purpose of creating companions for Christ. He chose us in Him BEFORE THE FOUNDATION OF THE WORLD, that we should be holy - the purpose of election is the manufacture of brothers for Christ - and without blemish before Him in love (Eph. 1: 4). So that election is not Fate, or Destiny, or a hard mechanical act of arbitrary choice; but the creation, by a loving God, of a people as holy (at last) as Christ is, for the glory of Christ: the means is our glory: the end is Christs. No proof of our absolute security could be more overwhelming than that our glory is essential to Christs.
Now the first golden link appears within human sight, for all that God had foreseen and fore-decided must now be wrought out by Him in actual fact, since He Who wills the end, wills also the means. So an enormous task immediately opened up before the Most High. Whom He fore-ordained, them He also called - summoned, invited; putting apostles and prophets and evangelists to His lips as trumpets for the summons. Brethren, beloved of the Lord, God chose you from the beginning unto salvation, whereunto He called you through our Gospel (2 Thess. 2: 13). Not one of the foreknown is forgotten; each link is rooted in the link before, and so every one whom God saw, God now calls: in attic, or nursery, or sick chamber, or Sunday School class, or on the battlefield, or in the sinking warship, or in the death-throes comes the low sweet call of the Bridegroom to the Bride; and none who ever hears that call says No. For it is not only the outward call of the Gospel, but the inward call of the [Holy] Spirit: so we read in the Acts - As many as were ordained to eternal life, BELIEVED (Acts 13: 48).
The fourth link, springing into sight the moment the call is heard, is the only other link mortal eyes have ever seen. Whom He called, them He also justified. How extraordinarily the view-point of God alone is given! Only what God does comes into sight in the whole passage. Faith is not named: holiness is not named: though between the calling and the justification comes faith; and between justification and glory comes sanctification: for it is Gods telescope we have got in our hands, and what alone we are watching is the eternal and irresistible march of the everlasting purposes of God. On all the called - those who have given the inner response to the outward call - falls instantly the garment of a perfect [imputed] righteousness; they are accounted righteous, justified, put in the catalogue of those who have committed no evil and omitted no good; a justification [by faith alone] that carries with it the regeneration of their nature, and the immediate beginning to make holy what has been judicially accounted holy; for all regeneration holds in it the promise of complete ultimate sanctification. This link is now fastening around every soul as it is called.
The last link now disappears again, as the chain returns to God in the vast eternity beyond. Whom He justified, them He also glorified: the inner change to holiness becomes at last the outer change to glory; for all heavenly glory is only goodness shining. This, as Bishop Moule says, is a marvellous past tense looking through Gods telescope, we suddenly see the things that are not, as though they were: God regards as done what, in His irresistible purpose, is done: so unerring is the fore-knowledge, so sure is the fore-ordination, so effectual is the calling, so flawless is the justification, that the consequent glory of every child of God, however it may be delayed, is a foregone conclusion; its title deeds are in our hands; it is so certain as to be equivalent to past history; it is as inevitable as God. For it is not only that if the Head is crowned, so is the Body; but more than that - as a whole oak is in the acorn, so a whole heaven lies for ever in the justification of a single soul. What extraordinary restfulness the truth gives! If souls continually baffle us, we remember that we cannot enrol them in the Lambs Book of Life; we can only find them there: however hell may rage, and Antichrist triumph, the saved will not be diminished by a single soul, or heaven be deferred by a single moment: so also, in spite even of our own sins, the biggest obstacle God has got to overcome, all we who believe shall triumph at last. Though all devils descend upon me, and all kings, emperors, heaven and earth be against me, I nevertheless know that I shall conquer at last (Luther).*
* That sanctification is not once named, nor its consequent rewards, gives us the keynote of the passage:- It is God that justifieth, The glory given here to all the redeemed is set four-square on justification [by faith] alone, an eternal glory, as granted on the infinite imputations of Christ for all who have (it may be) no more than a name in the Book, and on that ground alone, shall reign for ever and ever (Rev. 22: 5). This glory which our Lord gives to all His own is the glory He had before the world was (John 17: 5, 22), not the glory which, obtained on the ground of His conduct as a Man (Heb. 2: 9), He shares with the overcomer alone (Rev. 3: 21); and the Kingdom He went away to obtain because He had not yet got it (Luke 19: 12) is manifestly not the Eternal, but the Millennial, which even to our Lord is granted only in virtue of a lifetime of self-emptied service (Phil. 2: 8, 9).
So now we
understand why all things work together for good to them that love God.
The manufacture of the Gobelin tapestry in
So Paul, after pausing for a moment on the last plateau of justification, scales the crowning peak of assurance. Who shall lay anything to the charge of Gods elect?* It is Christ Jesus - not we - that died. If any would lodge a valid accusation against Gods elect, he must establish a flaw in Christs atonement, or in Christs resurrection, or in Christs ascension, or in Christs intercession: he must prove a flaw in Christ: for it is in Christ that the justification, freeing us from all flaw, has been pronounced once for all by God. So therefore the swan-song of the un-risen redeemed pours from apostolic lips. For I am persuaded - it is safe to make our own a persuasion of the man who wrote half the New Testament - that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers - not all the forces of Hell acting on the mind of God to wean us from Him - nor things present - such as my worst transgressions - nor things to come - not even the judgment Seat with its awful possibilities - nor height nor depth - not all the infinities that stretch between God and my soul nor any other creation**- worlds beyond worlds, in any fresh universe that God may ever make - shall be able - no, not if all these put forth their combined power to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Thus in standing Gods [redeemed] people are without a flaw. In reply to Balaks
attempted curse on
** The translation creature (Rom. 8: 39) hardly suits the (Greek) ... which signifies different, and not merely other (Godet).
* * *
THE RAPTURE IN
By ROBERT GOVETT
It will be observed, that Paul is silent as to the multiple rapture, or the discriminating of the saints. Can such omission then be accounted for, or does not Pauls omission throw discredit upon the doctrine?
To which it must be replied - First, that, if a doctrine be once made out from Scripture, the silence of the other sacred writers does not in the least weaken it.
Secondly, we may discern why the apostle omitted to notice it. For the questions treated of by him are mainly two, and they are consolations addressed to quiet certain vain fears. (1) The first of these was, a fear lest the dead saints should have no part in the [coming millennial] kingdom. (2) The second was a fear that the living saints were already in the day of the Lord, and would have to make their way through the tempest.
(1) Now in order to answer the first it was enough to reply, that, as death did not hinder Jesus, the head of the coming kingdom, from entering upon it, so neither would it prevent the saints, who were one with Jesus, from entering it also. He appends also further intelligence respecting the mode of the resurrection; which proves that the living, far from being alone in the kingdom, would not be even first in it.
Such a mode of reply then did not require, and could hardly admit, any notice of distinguishing rapture. Whether the rapture takes place at thrice or at once, the same assertion holds good, that the living and dead will be jointly partakers of the ascent.
(2) But with regard to the other fear, the case was different. The apostle might have treated the question so as to bring the discrimination into view. He might have said The watchful saint will escape that day of terrors; the unwatchful will have to pass through it. But then it must be remembered that he had to meet the alarm of saints, who were persuaded that, though they were watchful, the day of dread had come upon them. To tell them, then, that some of the saints would have to endure the perils and sorrows of that day, would hardly, have tended to allay their fears. All at Thessalonica were not only watchful, but in full expectation; and therefore the cautionary view would manifestly be less needed, than where the saints were ignorant or asleep on this momentous topic.
Again, it was not proposed to Paul, as an
inquiry, whether any of the
Even the unruly of the Thessalonians were still watchful, and would be partakers of the first rapture, though, if they continued in their unruliness, they would be subject to rebuke after their ascent. For every distinct offence of the saints has its answering and distinct recompense.
The main subject of Paul is the Presence, and this is but one, however many the saints entrances into it may be. He takes up the raptures only as relating to, and introducing to, the Presence; and he treats of the Presence only as referring to the life or death of the saints (1 Thess. 4.), or as taking the watchful saint out of the Day of the Lord.
Thus we may see the reasons why our Lord brings it forward; and why his Apostle does not. Paul viewed only the physical difficulties; and thence gives the rapture only as seen from the point of Gods Power to surmount them. These difficulties abide the same, however often the rapture may be repeated. But Jesus presents the moral aspect of the rapture or Gods requirements from man. Jesus puts forth warning to the careless ; Paul, comfort to the terrified. Thus the one wisely omits what the other had as wisely disclosed.
Pauls omission on this point is paralleled by another omission of a like kind. Jesus views both the Church and the Jews as of two classes: and presents the escape of the one, the trials and woe of the other. Paul recognizes but one class of the Jews, and but one of the [watchful portion within] Church. The Jews with him are wholly impenitent; the Church wholly watchful.
Yet, in spite of the acknowledged omission, an attentive eye may, I believe, gather hints confirmatory of the doctrine even from the Epistles before us. For what says the fifth chapter of the First Epistle? The Apostle there is setting forth at one view the contrasted positions of the Church and the world. The Church is awake and sober, the world is sleeping and drunken; and answerably thereto, the one is seized on by the Day as by a thief, the other escapes. But would it not follow from such a principle, that if the believer have left the, characteristic and holy position of safety in which the Church is to stand, that he also might be overtaken by that day as a thief? After describing the terrors of the day of the Lord, Paul warns the saint to be unlike those on whom that day will come; 5: 6-8. And he winds up the epistle with a prayer, that they might be found blameless in body, soul, and spirit, in the Presence (ver. 23). He does not assume, as it constantly is assumed by many, that all the Church will be ready. All the Thessalonian Christians indeed were awake to the return of the Lord. But that is not true of all [regenerate] believers now; and even to these Paul drops a word of exhortation, not to resemble the world in its slumbers and drunkenness. Else, it is implied, if they were so overtaken, they would be dealt with as of the world.
But he closes on a note of reassurance. Who died for us, in order that whether we keep awake or lie down to sleep, we may together live with him (1 Thess. 5: 10). Many Christians, especially of those who despise prophecy, are spiritually asleep. They are pursuing, with full bent of soul, the worlds prizes. And thus they are blind to the effects of the Saviours return. Here, then, we obtain a reply to the momentous question: Is it perdition for such to give themselves up to spiritual slumber? And the reply, in grace, is: No! The Saviour has died; and disobedience to this command will not be their destruction. Those spiritually alive in Christ shall not be for ever mixed up with the spiritually dead.
* * *
By J. P. LANGE, D.D.
It is of high significance that our Lord ends His prophetical office, immediately before His last suffering, with such an eschatological discourse (Luke 21: 5-36), which may be considered as the type of a fitting and edifying treatment of future things for all preachers. It lies in the nature of the case that Christian eschatology, the more the course of time advances, must become less and less an unimportant appendix, and more and more a locus primarius of doctrine.
The Lord Jesus, above all, delivers this teaching not for the satisfaction of an idle curiosity, but uses it directly for the admonition, for the consolation, and for the sanctification of His own. It admits of no doubt that had the impending end of the history of the world been always written of and spoken of in this way, much less offence would have been taken, and also, much less offence would have been given.
He warns them that their hearts be not burdened as by a spirit of deep sleep; for the great day was to be, even for them, the servants of the Lord, an unexpected one, requiring an unremitting watch. The tertium comparationis (ver. 34) lies as well in the unexpectedness as in the ruinousness of such snares as are commonly used for ravening beasts. As acondition of standing before the Son of man the escaping of all the tribulations is named: to be accounted worthy,* sensu forensi, gigni habiti atque declarati a Deo. This is not only the beginning, but also the substance, of the highest happiness. It is God alone that can make us worthy and ready for the enjoyment of His everlasting* glory.
* The word occurs in the same sense in Acts 5: 41. Justin Martyr records an alleged saying of our Lord:- In that in which I shall find you, therein will I judge you. (D. M. Panton.)
[* In this context, where the millennial
Those that would escape the wrath to come must make watchfulness and prayer the constant business of their lives; and those shall be accounted worthy to live a life of praise in the other world that live a life of prayer in this. - M. HENRY.
* * *
THE COMING RULERS
OF THE WORLD
By W. F. ROADHOUSE
Seeing the Revelation* is the third work on the Apocalypse,** within little more than
a year, to embody the tremendous truth that a [regenerate] believers conduct ensures, or else jeopardizes,
both his rapture and reign. The Scripture statements are too
plain to be for ever obscured; and love to their fellow-believers should compel
those who know it to urge a truth which opens the highest to all, but
ignorance or neglect of which may mean a loss that can never be repaired. Mr. Roadhouse, who has filled the presidency
of the chief prophetical society in
*By W. F. Roadhouse; The
Overcomer Publishers, 187,
**The other two are Mr. Samuel Hurnards Revelation and Mr. Van Lenneps Measured Times of the Book of Revelation; Marshall, Morgan & Scott.
There can be no [Messianic] Kingdom without raised saints. Flesh and blood cannot inherit the
* This shows where a Christian who falls into immorality, or other shame, ends up. How many are stranded!
And we would also suggest that the Sermon on the Mount - Matthew 5. to 7 be read afresh, to catch Christs high standard. What about the righteousness He will require, the forgiveness, the purity? Surely there is need for constant display of Divine love, avoiding in the things of God even so-called Fundamentalist bitterness. Or, His word about Lay not up treasures upon earth. His standards are absolutely the mould for those of Paul, and his writings ever affirm that only such see God, and inherit the Kingdom (Dan. 7: 13, 14, 18). It is all the same message, whether from the lips of our Lord, or from His Apostles. God forgive our clumsy reading of it, so much so that we have lowered His required conditions for entrance upon His glorious reign.
One formula John ever uses to describe the Overcomers, And they overcame him [Satan] by the blood of the Lamb, and because of the word of their testimony, and they loved not their lives unto the death - a three-fold qualification. And these Overcomers were already, in some degree, taken up into the heavenly place of regency. Together with their Great Overcomer, the First-born out of the dead (1: 5) these firstfruits were already caught up unto God and His throne. Those not barred by the disqualifications that each of the Apostles and our Lord Jesus Christ clearly point out (as Gal. 5: 19-21, etc.), will have position and rulership in that coming Kingdom,- those who suffer with Him (2 Tim. 2: 12; Rom. 8: 17); those who are counted worthy (Luke 21: 36); those who are approved (1 Cor. 9: 27, Gr.); those who are faithful stewards (Matt. 25: 21, 30). All these qualifications are experimental and personal - and the whole subject needs a revised study by Gods faithful servants and teachers. May He wake us up!
Thus, to summarize, those who reign during the Millennial days must be (1) Overcomers of some period; (Rev. 2: 10, cf. Jas. 1: 12); (2) blessed as in Christs beatitudes, Matt. 5: 1-12; (3) holy, or saints of God, 1 Thess. 4: 3; 5: 23; and to be such, assuredly must be God-filled and God-possessed followers of the Lamb whithersoever He goeth. Contrary to nearly all our favourite teaching, these only shall reign with Christ a thousand years. The rest of the dead lived not [in resurrection, of course,] until the thousand years were finished (R.V.). Gods highest honour for redeemed lives non-overcomers fail to receive. Each one of them might have so drawn upon Gods offered grace, upon the Spirits enduement, that they too might have attained! The Lord of His stewards never suggests that any servant of His needs to have failed to receive His Well done, good and faithful servant; enter thou into the joy of thy Lord. Never. And God is able to bestow every blessing on you in abundance, so that richly enjoying all sufficiency at all times, you may have ample means for all good works (2 Cor. 9: 8 Wym.).
In all this, do not forget Pauls striving straining - stretching, If by any means I may attain unto the out-resurrection (ex-anastasia) from among the dead (Phil. 3: 11). The Greek , translated if by any means, is used three times in the New Testament (Rom. 1: 10; 11: 14; Phil. 3: 11), each passage denoting the possibility of failure. But in a fourth passage, Acts 27: 12, 13, it is actual failure. And hence, the Apostle Paul felt that he - think of it, he - could miss the out-resurrection and not attain unto that supreme honour! Study those strenuous verses again (Phil. 3: 10-14) - they may well be a touchstone of our loyalty and fidelity. I follow after that I may lay hold of that for which I have also been laid hold of by Christ Jesus. May this be the undying incentive of all who love our Lord Jesus Christ. As an athlete watching unceasingly and pressing on to reach his goal and crown, so may His followers win through to reign with Him in that coming [millennial] day!
Earnestly, as before God, I appeal to my fellow-ministerial brethren to do this service - what if your ministerial reputation in some quarters will be torn to tatters? Some of us have paid that price! But oh, the joy of going out into holy separation - and fellowship, with Him! Unseal the book, brethren, to your people! Theyll bless you in the day that you stand before Him! One wonders how far even misled teachers may come under the penalties? (Rev. 22: 18). To eviscerate its strong, searching, stringent messages; to dilute its solemn warnings; to over-magnify its grace and minimize its required obedience - all these may take away from the words of the prophecy.
In the light of the closing book of the Bible, in such a Scripture as Luke 21: 36 there is definite suggestion of a first fruits followed by harvest. There is promised here an escape from certain these things. But to whom? To those meeting the necessary qualifications, namely to those who watch and pray, and are thus accounted worthy. It is manifestly an experimental, personal, subjective worthiness. Indeed, at least twenty-eight times are such qualifications as watch ... wait ... work ... love, etc., designated as attitude-requisites in order to share in the coming [millennial] glory of the Lord Jesus.
When a concluding work such as this long-simmering, long-brooded-over book of the last of the Apostles of Christ comes forth with its mature, refined, pure gold of holy Revelation, we ought assuredly to give it precedence over our own partial, imperfect, lop-sided, fitted-together programmes. Let us humbly hear and then keep its sacred message for ourselves, and then minister its challenging or comforting word to others.
* * *
As hate of the Jew universally deepens, and his unrelaxing tenacity of lucre never ceases to provoke it, we are naturally challenged to know what is unchangeable in Israels destiny, and the more so as Gods wrath has yet to search more fiercely the Wandering Tribes; and so it is very wonderful that no sooner has Paul scaled the Mount Everest of the Churchs heavenly heights, than he turns (Rom. 9: 3-5) to portray the indestructible foundations, the inextinguishable glories, of the People on earth. These glories are (in their very nature) eternal, and are expressed as permanent by the present tense; they are all matters of historic fact, and so indisputable; they are unique; they are all spiritual, but all on earth; though in abeyance, they are unforfeitable; and while all infer Jehovahs unchanging blessing, one - the promises - explicitly reveals a Destiny of eternal bliss. These titles of dignity are testimonies of love (Calvin).
1. - ISRAELITES. It is high praise from
the Son of God when He says:- Behold, an Israelite indeed! (John 1: 47).
2. - THE ADOPTION. The
Church receives an adoption as sons (Gal. 4: 5);
3. - THE GLORY. Gods Shekinah Fires never dwelt
in the midst of any nation except
4. - THE COVENANTS. Apart from Noah, God has never entered into a covenant with any man but a Jew. Eight covenants were made with Abraham; one with Moses; at least two with Israel; and the New Covenant, the blood of which has been shed (Luke 22: 20), and the ministers of which have been appointed (2 Cor. 3: 6), has yet to be made with the Houses of Israel and Judah (Heb. 8: 8).
5. - THE LAW. Jehovahs descent in
person on Sinai, with a Decalogue written by the fingers of Deity, is a unique
6. - THE WORSHIP. Jew means praise;
and Gods liturgy, the sole mode of ritual access into His presence under the
Law, was revealed to the Jew only. If thou bearest the name of a Jew, [thou] restest upon the law, and gloriest in God, and
knowest His will, being instructed out of the law (Rom. 2: 17). All heathen worship - at its best, a wreck of
unrecoverable primitive revelation; at its worst, an inspiration of demons and
a fraudulent priesthood - worships it knows
not what (John 4: 22). The host of
7. - THE PROMISES. All
promises - avant-couriers of the favours themselves - are held in germ
in one promise to Abraham:- In thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed
(Gen. 22: 18). Thy seed is a Jew: whether, therefore, by way of
circumcision, or through faith, salvation is of the Jews, because salvation is
from a Jew. So also the promise of the
Spirit was first given to the Jew (Gal.
3: 14; Acts 2: 39). Nearly
the whole of the promises relating to
8. - THE FATHERS. Gods providence never
leaves the Jew because His love never leaves their fathers. Because He loved thy fathers, therefore He chose their
seed after them (Deut. 4: 37). No man ever gave God a name but a Jew: He is
not known as the God of Adam, or the God of Noah but - I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac,
and the God of Jacob (Ex. 3: 6). No nation ever had divine priests but
9. - THE CHRIST. In
painfully true (as Paul is compelled to say later) that the higher the
pedestal, the deeper the guilt, and
* * *
THE CRY OF THE JEW
(Written by a Jew)
There is no Face in pity bent
When by the way I fall,
No anxious, loving Shepherd comes
In answer to my call;
There are no tender eyes to seek,
No gentle arms to hold,
No nail-pierced hands to take me up
And bring me to the fold.
And when on naked, bleeding feet
And stagger, crushd, beneath the Cross
Theres none to heed or know;
Theres none to lift the cruel weight,
Theres none to even share -
0 Thou Who climbd the Hill before
Look down and help me bear.