When one is handed kingdom tracts or a Business Card with www.themillennialkingdom.org.uk in bold type printed on it, there sometimes appears to be a feeling that it must contain false teachings by unregenerate people who have not yet received eternal salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ: for, Neither is there any other name under heaven, that is given among men, wherein we must be saved (Eph. 2: 8, 9; Acts 4: 11, 12, R. V.).
The following selection may be of some assistance to clarify
my beliefs as a disciple of Christ, and the nature of the work to
which He has called me. That is, (1) to speak and educate regenerate believers in things concerning the
* Acts 1: 3. cf. 1 Thess. 2; 12 **Col. 3: 23. cf. 1 Cor. 15: 58.). ***Heb. 4: 11. cf. Heb. 4: 9; Rom. 8: 19-21; Num. 14: 30; Psa. 95: 11.
Sincere and Earnest
Sincere and earnest: is that all? come search The Word, and see;
For some have been sincerely wrong John 16: 2 and 3.
Paul thought it right Acts 26 to kill the saints verse 9.
Till God appeared and changed his heart verse 4 - 6, Acts 9.
Many will say in that Great Day, What wonders did we do!
I know you not, says Matthew 7, verse 21, 22.
Some run with zeal the downward road, yet hope theyre climbing heaven
By way of Proverbs 14: 12. How vain! says Mark 7: 7.
By nature blind Ephesians 2: 2 to wrath inclined verse 3,
To seeing again 1 Peter 1: 22 and John 3: 13.
Except ye be as John 3: 3, whateer your faith, or zeal,
You please not God Romans 8: 8 nor understand His will.
Sincerity alone cant save; it must with truth combine;
The faith that saves us is Romans 10, verse 7, and 1 Pet.1: 5, 9.
The Word, The Spirit, God alone Acts 20: 32,
Can shed the light of Rev. 3; 11 and 21, on all we think and do.
By C C Morris (
Definition of Terms
The term millennium itself simply means a thousand-year period. The Bible mentions a thousand years nine times, six of which are found in Revelation 20. It is from this chapter that the millennial views (a-millennialism, post-millennialism, and pre-millennialism) begin. To save time and space, those who write or speak on prophecy sometimes abbreviate these three terms as a-mill, post-mill, and pre-mill respectively. A term used by Mr Bonar referring to all systems opposed to the pre-millennial view (a-millennialism, preterism, post-millennialism, etc.) is anti-millenarian.
Important to note: The prefixes a, post, and pre refer to the time when these various schools of thought believe Christ will return in relation to the thousand-year millennium of Revelation 20.
The prefix a means no. An atheist believes in no God (a = no, + theos = God; atheist = no God). An agnostic believes one has no knowledge (a = no, + gnosis know, or knowledge; agnostic = no knowledge).
A-millennialists believe there will be no literal 1000-year millennium as such. Therefore, discussing whether Christ will return before or after something they do not believe literally exists or will exist is irrelevant to them.
The a-millennialists believe the
church is now in the millennium, which only figuratively represents (to them) a
long time. Their thousand years is
already nearly two thousand years long, but to them that is only figurative
anyway. A-millennialism teaches that the
If the present church age is the prophesied millennium as a-millennialists believe, and Christ will return after the church age as they evidently believe, then I cannot see why a-millennialists are not all post-millennialist. Perhaps this is my problem alone; one of the a-millennialists might give me a simple explanation.
A-millennialists ask, Where does the Bible mention a thousand-year reign? We have the same Scripture for the thousand-year reign of Christ that anyone else has for the final judgment of mankind - Revelation 20. We can honestly ask them, Other than Revelation 20, where else does the Bible mention the Great White Throne judgment?
The prefix post simply means after. The post-millennialists believe Christ will return after the millennium. They believe the church is in the process of converting the world now, and that the church will gradually lead the world into a millennium of a thousand years of peace and prosperity, after which Christ will return, judge the world, and usher in the eternal state.
By the very nature of this idea, post-millennialists believe the world is getting increasingly better and will continue doing so until the whole world will eventually be Christianised.
Post-millennialism fits nicely with Arminian soul-winning, foreign missions, the gospel regeneration theory, the modernists socio-political social gospel (including governmental faith-based initiatives, with federal grants in participating churches), and the general belief that it is up to mans free will and efforts to convert the world.
What A-millennialism and Post-millennialism Have in Common
Both believe the 1000 year millennium is figurative and not necessarily limited to exactly 1000 years. A-millennialists see the church age as being the millennium. They say we are in the millennium now; but many a-mills also say we are in the tribulation period now; some say with the preterists that we are in the New Jerusalem now - such are the vagaries of substituting figurative applications to plain language.
Post-millennialism says that the church is at present converting the world to Christ, after which we will have a thousand year millennium of universal peace and prosperity, and after that, Christ will return to judge the world.
Both a-millennialism and post-millennialism are highly figurative and allegorical in their interpretation of Scripture. There is a strong element of Sadduceeism in their belief, For the Sadducees (and many anti-millenarians) say that there is no resurrection (of the physical body), neither angel, nor spirit (Acts 23: 8).
Thereby, the anti-millenarians furnish a starting-point for modernists, who might pretend to justify their existence from the Bible. Yes, some modernists do quote Scripture, of sorts. That is why they have their modem Bible versions. Even Satan had a try at misapplying Scripture (see Matthew 4: 6 and Luke 4: 10).
The prefix pre means before. One definition of predestination is a destiny or destination that is fixed before (pre = before + destiny or destination).
Pre-millennialists believe Christ will return before the millennium of Revelation 20. Indeed, they believe that a major reason for the return of the Saviour will be to institute His reign as King on the [this] earth, literally and visibly during the millennium, which will be the seventh millennium from Adam.
The pre-millennialist believes the world is getting worse, not better, as Paul said, But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived (2 Timothy 3: 13).
Every previous age since the creation has ended in apostasy, and this present age is no exception to this. Indeed, it is a decree of God in His absolute predestination of all things, and that is for the express purpose of demonstrating to all sentient beings that without Me ye can do nothing (John 15: 5). Since Adam, we have been living in a divine demonstration programme proving that man cannot meet any conditions of law or works (conditionalism) to merit salvation, either temporal or eternal. The experience of those taught of God has always been, So by experience I do know, theres nothing good that I can do; I cannot satisfy the law, nor hope nor comfort from it draw. My nature is so prone to sin, which makes my duty so unclean, that when I count up all the cost, if not free grace, then I am lost.
Only those who have been quickened by the sovereign grace of our Lord Jesus Christ can make such an admission with all their hearts, souls, and spirits. All others will try innumerable Satanic and man-made schemes to save themselves, to no avail. There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death (Proverbs 14: 12; 16: 25).
Pre-millennialists believe this present age will end in apostasy, as have all previous ages, and that our only hope is the shed blood and imputed righteousness of Christ, and the literal return of the Lord Jesus Christ Who, at His return, will raise and glorify His saints from all previous ages, put down all overt sin and rebellion throughout the entire world, and establish His literal reign of the thousand years on this earth spoken of six times in Revelation 20: 2-7.
Pre-millennial but not Dispensational
The terms dispensation, dispensational, and dispensationalist are nowadays used as prejudicial words. Opponents of pre-millennialism enforce a double standard - A-millennialists can use the word dispensation freely. Modern a-millennial preachers and writers regularly refer to the church dispensation, and the law dispensation, but any pre-millennialist who does so, risks using the D word to his own detriment. It is like politics. If an establishment newscaster calls a man an extremist or a racist, the conditioned masses must automatically fear and shun that man. Likewise, call a man a dispensationalist and immediately everyone is supposed to fear him.
Cyrus Ingerson Scofield
popularised dispensationalism in his Reference Bible first published in
1909. His theory divided Bible history
into seven periods he called dispensations:
Innocency, Conscience, Human Government, Promise, Law, Grace, and
Kingdom. The latter, Kingdom, refers to
The truth is, one can be, as I am, a pre-millennialist without following the dispensationalism set forth in Scofields system. My view is pre-millennial; I am not a dispensationalist.
There is a fourth view, preterism, which should be addressed here. Preterists believe all prophecies were fulfilled in apostolic times. As far as I can tell, their sole justification for this belief is Christs statement, Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled (Matthew 24: 34), or, as it is worded in Luke 21: 32, Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away, till all be fulfilled. They say, All prophecy will be fulfilled in this generation! All prophecy means ALL PROPHECY. This generation means the generation that was alive on the earth when Christ uttered these words. Nothing remains to be fulfilled, because it has ALL already been fulfilled in that generation.
A current book about the Book of the Revelation, advertised in a pro-preterist website, has this to say in its promotional blurb - With 22 chapters of symbolism, mysterious characters, and apocalyptic drama, all told in picture language unmatched in the rest of Scripture, the Book of Revelation is difficult enough on its own.
That is the way commentators love to present Revelation. To prejudice their readers into accepting their misleading interpretations, preterists and others convince the unwary to think Revelation is anything but a Revelation (which means a revealing or an unveiling). Revelation, they imply, is impossible to understand; so they predispose a gullible public to believe any preposterous theory their writers later espouse.
The preterists learned their lesson well from a-mllennialism, carrying the figurative or allegorical approach to Bible interpretation to its most ridiculous extreme.
The Book of the Revelation Itself
Because so many commentators have presumed that Revelation is highly symbolic, figurative, mysterious, and extremely difficult to understand (which is because so many writers and speakers insist on saying that Bible language is figurative), many saints who would like to read the Book of the Revelation are frightened away from this wonderful book. Yet this is the only book in the Bible that the Lord Jesus Christ Himself directly recommends to be read. Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things that are written therein: for the time is at hand (Revelation 1: 3).
In spite of this endorsement from our Lord, many would-be readers of the Revelation have been convinced they cannot understand it. They either assume they cannot understand it or that it is useless to try. Consequently, questions abound about Revelations contents. Perhaps no question has bothered Bible readers more than the twin issues of (1) whether the term a thousand years is figurative or literal, and (2) whether those thousand years are past, present, or yet in the future.
The problem is compounded by those who hold to a historic interpretation (historicism), saying that Revelations seals, trumpets, vials, angels, locusts, earthquakes, and plagues represent everything from Napoleons defeat at Waterloo to obscure events involving the Goths and Visigoths warring against Rome, to Genghis Khan and the Mongolian hordes, to the Crusades, to Mohammedanism, to Hannibals crossing of the Alps. Vint says Charlemagne bound Satan in AD 814. Brown says the church will bind Satan during the Millennium.
If such an approach were valid, it would be no wonder that those of us who struggled with medieval European history in high school are a bit hesitant to tackle the Revelation.
Figurative, Literal, and Spiritual Application
My approach to Bible reading is simple and uncomplicated. I wholeheartedly believe the Bible is the inspired Word of God, and that every word, every individual letter, means something. That something is exactly what God intended for each word to say and mean.
Because pre-millennialists take the Bible literally, we are often falsely accused of believing there is no figurative language in the Bible. We have been ridiculed as believing anything from Gods literally having feathers and wings (Psalm 91: 4) to believing the dragon coming out of the sea (Isaiah 27: 1) will be like Godzilla surfacing in San Francisco Bay.
Of course, this ridicule is false. We fully recognise figurative biblical language exists. That to which we object is the trying to make anything and everything a sign or symbol of something else, a subtle and easy step to unbelief. The modernists saying that the resurrection of Christ only means the teachings of Jesus live in our hearts is a case in point not so very far removed from the so-called spiritual interpretations of the anti-millenarians.
* * *
By John Cox
(This is continued from the article in the April-June issue of Watching and Waiting, pages 88‑93.
It is an extract from a booklet published in 1897)
The Order in Which Prophecy is Written
Prophecy is not written in the order of occurrence. It is not, therefore, consecutive and chronological. It cannot be represented by a straight horizontal line having a beginning and going on unbroken until the end, but it is written in the order best calculated to instruct the student, and to impress the mind and heart with the solemn truth and facts of revelation. Instead of a continuous and unbroken record the instruction conveyed is by separate visions or sections, each dealing with the same period.
But while each line of prophecy refers to the same period there is a great difference between them. The earlier visions or sections of prophecy are wider and more general, while the later are more specific, and contain details which are called for by enquiries arising from the consideration of the earlier visions or sections. The later often contain instruction respecting things that take place before those which are revealed in the early visions or sections. The mode of instruction is similar to that in which geography is sometimes taught by a series of maps, the first of which is a mere outline of a country, and the succeeding maps showing its rivers, mountains, cities, etc. By this method of recurrence many aspects of the same truth are given which could not be so well supplied in any other form.
The narrative of the creation will afford an illustration of this principle upon which all Scripture is written. It is not chronological. The first verse of Genesis 1 tells of a completed creation. Then the following verses describe the order in which all things were created, and the Rest of God in them. In Chapter 2 the narrative recurs, and added details are supplied as to the creation of Eve and other things which are not found in their order in Chapter 1.
The prophecies of Isaiah, Daniel, Zechariah, etc., are manifestly written on this principle. The early prophecies in each book cover the same period as the later. The events foretold are not given in the order of occurrence.
There is also another important key principle which must be observed in order that prophecy might be rightly read and understood. Not only are the visions or sections in relation to each other not consecutive and chronological, but oftentimes the order of each vision or section is also not the order of occurrence but of instruction, for each begins with a revelation, the fulfilment of which does not take place until the succeeding events are fulfilled; e.g., the blessing of Israel in the millennium is described in Isaiah 2: 24, before reference is made to the preceding sins and sorrows; and the advent of the Lord in His conquering might is symbolically foretold in Revelation 6: 2, before the preceding judgments are described.
We have seen that Prophecy has revealed the coming apostasy of the Jew, the Gentile, and Christendom, and the judgments which will overtake those three bodies at the close of this present Dispensation. Sad indeed is their present condition!
The great Gentile nations are increasingly misusing the governmental power committed to them by God. What terrible inhumanities have been for ages, and are still being, perpetrated by Turkey (written in 1897 ‑ Ed.), one of those nations, while receiving sustainment from other nations, who have done little more than make unavailing protests against the fiendish tortures, outrages, and wholesale butcheries, and the destruction of the homes of hundreds of thousands of defenceless men and women and children who would not embrace Islamism.
Then there is guilty Christendom with its Greek, Roman, and Anglican idolatries; its compromised and enfeebled Protestantism, so weak because so worldly and tolerant of evil, and so worldly because it has not been mindful of the separating words of God by His holy prophets. What great need is there at the present time, for those who have ears to hear His words, to take their stand outside the Camp of worldly Christianity, and separate from those so called national Protestant Churches in which Baptismal Regeneration, Transubstantiation, Auricular Confession, and other Popish and unscriptural doctrines and practices have become legalised; and also from those religious bodies where false doctrines are taught, and worldliness is manifested in the character of their buildings, in the form of their services, and in various expedients for raising money, and for attracting and amusing the people, by means of bazaars and so called sacred oratorios, concerts, cantatas, passion plays, organ voluntaries, fruit and floral decorations, festivals, secular lectures, bands, banners, processions, and other like worldly things, which loudly proclaim that those who resort to them believe that, for the present time at least, the Word of God and the Spirit of God and the Gospel of His Grace are, of themselves, insufficient for the conversion and instruction of souls. Then there is a sorrowful need to separate also from those who while abstaining from such worldly expedients, reject the foundation doctrine of the imputation of the Righteousness of Christ; who exclude the Old Testament saints from the Church of God in Glory; who hold that the moral law is not now a rule of life for believers; who teach that there are two gospels, two ways, and two ends of salvation; who divide the New Testament into Christian and Jewish Scriptures and who strongly hold that the Coming of the Lord, and the rapture of the [whole] Church, may take place at any moment, and must precede the appearing of the antichrist, and the judgment of the great tribulation.
A new Reformation, based wholly on Gods neglected Word, is now greatly needed; the words of the prophets must be heeded and no longer ignored or perverted; false doctrine no longer tolerated; worldly expediency, alliance, and compromise be given up; and the whole truth of God be made the basis of union.
May many hearts be exercised as to these things, and earnestly pray for wisdom and grace to separate from evil, to cleave to the truth, to walk in all holy conversation and godliness, and to grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and for ever. Amen.
* * *
Believe Gods Prophets
By Benjamin Wills
(The following is taken from Mr Newtons preface to the third edition of
We may be very sure that the careless and erroneous way in which Christendom has interpreted Prophetic Scripture, has greatly tended to increase the Infidelity that now prevails so widely.
Chronicles 20: 20, we read of Jehoshaphat saying: Hear me, 0 Judah, and ye inhabitants of
Accordingly, I find that there has been sent into the world a Book that claims to come with the authority of God. Its claim is founded on evidence, partly external, partly internal. Amongst men, there are no accepted writings of their fellow-men that have for their genuineness and authenticity, external evidence so strong as that on which the Scripture rests: but the external evidence is as nothing compared with the internal. No one, however, who is not brought, either by the consideration of the external evidence of the Scripture, or by other means, to receive the Bible as the Word of God, and to search it in His fear, will ever apprehend the demonstrative character of the evidence which the Scripture itself supplies of its Divine origin.
The woman of Samaria, when the Lord Jesus spoke to her conscience, and disclosed the facts of her personal history, instantly acknowledged His mission, and said to others, Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ? So likewise, the written Word of God proves itself to be discernitive of the thoughts and intents of the heart, and those who become conscious of its power of doing this, ask for no further evidence of its being Divine. The like, too, may be said of the light that it sheds on human history, past, present, and to come. When any one has used Prophetic Scripture and realised the accuracy of its past fulfilments, and discerned the present signs indicative of the approach of those predicted events which yet remain to he accomplished, he will no more doubt that the Scripture illumines, than that the sun shines.
Moreover, God by His Spirit, Who dwells in the hearts of His [obedient]* people, ratifies and maintains the knowledge that He gives. The figments of the sceptic or the scoffer no more affect such an one than the drifting flakes of a snowstorm affect a castles wall. They who consorted with the Lord Jesus, received hourly evidence of His being what He was: but it was evidence about which strangers in the distance knew nothing.
[* Acts 5: 32. cf. 1 Sam. 16: 14; Judges 16: 20.]
Yet the carelessness of the
human heart and its innate antipathy to Truth, may be
fearfully worked on by sin and by Satan, and cause evidences, that God has
mercifully afforded to momentous facts, to be thrust aside or buried. A remarkable example of this is afforded in
the history of the rejection of the Lord Jesus.
No fact was more notorious than that of His birth at
Can we say that we have not
showed like carelessness? Infidels have
declared that the Lord Jesus was a deceiver, for that He said that He would appear in glory IMMEDIATELY after
the destruction of
Our error in stating the
unequalled season of tribulation to be past, is the
result of unpardonable carelessness; for the words used by our Lord respecting
it are virtually quoted from Daniel 12: 1 -
a verse demonstrated by its context to be unfulfilled. It is no little sin thus to nullify the
solemn prophecy of our Lord in Matthew 24,
and to feed Infidelity by our folly. Yet this we have done, and this, not only in the case
of Matthew 24, but generally throughout all
the Prophetic Scripture.
A large mass of the Prophetic Writings refer to
In Isaiah we read,
The fact is that we have been in the habit of saying things that are not true respecting all these places; and thereby we have greatly strengthened the enemies of Scripture. Infidelity cannot be silenced by falsehood: but it may bow, under Gods blessing, to the voice of Truth. Several instances of this have come within my own knowledge.
To every argument, urged by
Scripture respecting these things, the one same answer is to be given. The predictions that are
referred to have not been fulfilled. Foreshadowing
fulfilments there may have been, but foreshadowment is not fulfilment. The period of their accomplishment is not only marked as future, but it is declared to be at the
time when God shall forgive Israel, His nation; restore them to His favour;
place them under the shelter of the Blood of Jesus, and make them a blessing to
the whole earth. The judgments spoken of
will be inflicted in the Day of the LORDs
vengeance, and the year of recompenses for the controversies of
saith thy Lord the LORD, and thy God
that pleadeth the cause of His people, Behold, I have taken out of thine hand
the cup of trembling, even the dregs of the cup of my fury, thou shalt no more
drink it again: but I will put it into the hand of them that afflict thee;
which have said to thy soul, Bow down, that we may go over: and thou hast laid
thy body as the ground, and as the street, to them that went over (Isaiah 51: 22-23).
Nor must we hide from ourselves the sinfulness of explaining away the force of the descriptions of Scripture under the pretext that the language is poetic, exaggerated, and virtually untrue. If we say that the predictions of Psalm 18, or the closing verses of Revelation 6, or Isaiah 13: 9-11, or Joel 3: 9-10, etc. have been fulfilled in any past events in the history of Earth, we open wide the door to the reckless impiety of Neologianism, and the dishonesty of Non-naturalism, in all its forms.
Satan, no doubt, desires that we should hide from ourselves, and from others, all that Scripture has revealed respecting both the glories, and the terrors, and the judgments of the great Day of visitation. Shall we voluntarily enter his snares? Shall we deliberately nullify that which God has said respecting the great Day of the Coming of our God and Saviour? Figurative language, and symbolic visions, can convey to us the knowledge of literal facts, quite as well as simple language.
They who may kindly condescend to consider this matter will, I think, admit that, if those statements be true, the teaching of Christendom since the apostles died, has been on these subjects fearfully false; and that a rectification of doctrine is urgently required. Such a rectification would, no doubt, involve a vast change in our present habits of thought and action. If, on the other hand, these statements be false, they cannot be too strongly denounced, or too strenuously resisted. These are subjects that do not admit of compromise, or qualification.
My earnest desire is that not one self-conceived thought of my own should have any influence. I desire that all who fear God should be brought nearer to God and to His ways, and be truly enabled to say, By the Word of Thy lips I have kept me from the paths of the Destroyer. The bright blaze of the light of concentrated Anti-Christianism will soon be seen in avowed contrast with the light sent forth by God, through His prophets and apostles, to guide unto His holy hill and to His Tabernacles. Which shall we follow? The one leads surely to the Pit; the other to Christ, and to His glory.
* * *
The Hope of the Church
By William de Burgh
(This is the last in a series of tracts on the Church written by Mr de Burgh
in the early part of the 19th century).
And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ: if so be that we suffer with Him, that we may be also glorified together (Romans 8: 17).
What is the Christians hope? This is a question which, in one acceptation, receives for the most part in the present day a definite and scriptural answer: that is, understanding by hope the ground of hope. Happily Christ is now by many preached as the ground - the only ground of hope for man as a lost sinner: the only Name given under heaven among men whereby we must be saved (Acts 4: 12), and, as such, an anchor of hope ‑ an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast (Hebrews 6: 19), in Whom, whosoever believeth shall not be confounded (1 Peter 2: 6).
But this is not the only meaning of hope. There is also that which we hope for, and this is its prevailing acceptation in Scripture; in which sense also it is a distinguishing characteristic of salvation as at present enjoyed by the believer: for, as the apostle says, We are saved by (or in) hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it (Romans 8: 24-25).
What then, in this sense, is the Christians hope - for what does he thus with patience wait? And this question the apostle answers in this same chapter, in the passage taken as the ground of these remarks, and on the same principle by which is brought out the calling of the church, and also its position in the world - namely, union and identification with Christ. It is thus, by God sending the Spirit of His Son into our hearts - that we are made children: and here the apostle argues, And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ: if so be that we suffer with Him, that we may be also glorified together (verse 17), mark, joint-heirs with Christ, [on condition of our suffering with him] and glorified together. The question, then, as to the churchs hope is answered by another - when does Christ inherit, when is He glorified as here? For in like manner, and at the same time, shall those who are Christs inherit and be glorified.
1. The inheritance of Christ as Son of God and Saviour is defined. Psalm 2: 7-8, I will declare the decree: Jehovah hath said unto Me, Thou art My Son; this day have I begotten Thee. Ask of Me, and I shall give Thee THE HEATHEN (the nations) for Thine inheritance, and THE UTTERMOST PARTS OF THE EARTH for Thy possession. And how He shall obtain possession the Psalm goes on to state, verse 9, Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; Thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potters vessel. That is - it is by judgment, and not grace, the Redeemer shall, in the first instance, proceed to recover the inheritance; and establish His claim as king on the holy hill of Zion (verse 6). And who shall be the objects of the judgment? The kings of the earth at that time confederated in opposition to His pretensions (verses 1-5). Turn to Revelation 19 and we find that the time is at the SECOND ADVENT of the Lord, when heaven is opened, and He comes forth in righteousness judging and making war: His eyes as a flame of fire, and on His head many crowns and clothed in a vesture dipped in blood (verses 11 - 13); the reference to the second Psalm being marked by the words, And out of His mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it He should smite the nations; and He shall rule them with a rod of iron (verse 15); and further by the description of the opposing confederacy, verse 19 - I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against Him that sat on the horse, and against His army. (Compare chapter 16: 13-14, as to the means whereby they have been so gathered together). And the [selected] portion of the saints in this as joint-heirs with Christ, is stated chapter 2: 26-27, and still in reference to this same Psalm, - And he that overcometh, and keepeth My works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations; and he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of My Father, or, as in chapter 3: 21, To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with Me in MY THRONE; even as I also overcame, and am set down with My Father in HIS THRONE: where it should be observed there is mention of two thrones - one, the throne of the Father, in which, Christ is since His ascension set down, and which it is His only to participate as the only-begotten Son: the other, His own throne, namely, the throne of the kingdoms of this world, which is that in which [the overcomers from amongst] His redeemed participate with Him, as it is obtained by Him for them - the travail of His soul, the fruit of His sufferings as their Saviour and Redeemer, the purchased possession, for the redemption of which - that is, its recovery out of the hands of the usurper - they wait (Ephesians 1: 14).
The same definition of the inheritance of Christ we have, Hebrews 2, where the apostle, (having first stated that God had appointed His Son HEIR of all things, chapter 1: 2), proceeds to define His inheritance as follows, verses 5‑9, For unto the angels hath He not put in subjection the world [inhabited earth] to come, whereof we speak. But one in a certain place testified, saying, what is man, that Thou art mindful of him? or the son of man that thou visitest him? Thou madest him a little lower than the angels; Thou crownedst him with glory and honour, and didst set him over the work of Thy hands: Thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet, quoting from Psalm 8. On which He thus reasons, For in that He put ALL in subjection under him, He left nothing that is not put under him. But now we see not yet all things put under Him. But we see Jesus, Who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour. A reference to the 8th Psalm will shew that the dominion here given to the Son is, (as the world to come implies) the dominion which Adam was found unequal to sustain, but which Christ as the last Adam has purchased, and will in due time have subjected to Him.
Again, the same is declared in the 110th Psalm verse 1, Jehovah said unto my Lord, sit Thou at My right hand, until I make Thine enemies Thy footstool, not in order that I may make Thine enemies Thy footstool, as though this subjection of Christs enemies began from His ascension, as it is generally explained: but until, till the time comes for doing this; as the apostle explains it, Hebrews 10: 12-13, This Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down at the right hand of God, (rather, connecting for ever with the sacrifice, as verses 1 and 14, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down at the right hand of God, not for ever, but) from henceforth expecting (waiting) till His enemies be made His footstool. Compare Acts 3: 21, Whom the heaven must receive UNTIL the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began.
And as this position of waiting or expectancy represents the relation in which the Saviour at present stands in reference to His [millennial] inheritance, so does it that of His [redeemed] people; and as well after death [in Hades the place of the dead, (Rev. 6: 11)], as while living in the world. They wait for [the First Resurrection and] His appearing, that they may appear with Him in glory: the promise to them being, that, when the earth shall be given to Christ for His inheritance, they shall be joint-heirs with Him: when the converted nations shall be His kingdom, they shall reign with Him; when the world shall be ruled by Him in judgment, and its people with equity, they shall be His assessors, exercising judgment and rule under Him, administering the ordinances, and dispensing the blessings of His government to the subject nations of the world. Compare Matthew 19: 28; 1 Corinthians 6: 3; Revelation 20: 4-6; Daniel 7: 13-14, 17-18, 26-27. And, as to the [present] position and expectation of the departed saints, see Revelation 5: 9-10, and 6: 9-11, and 19: 14*, compared with Colossians 3: 4, 2 Timothy 4: 6-8, etc.
[* This verse refers to watchful saints, who will prevail to escape the Great Tribulation. See Luke 21: 34-36. cf. Rev. 3: 10.]
This is but an outline of the HOPE of the church, the kingdom and inheritance for which the people of Christ, in common with Christ Himself, still wait: but it is enough to shew what is the time the apostle peculiarly intends in the passage before us, when the children of God shall be joint-heirs with Christ, and glorified together with Him. And it is enough, also, to shew that which makes it especially important to have the Christians attention drawn to this subject at present - namely,
2. The character of the children of God, which the apostle subjoins as the condition of the glory, in the words, if so be we suffer with Him, that we may be also glorified together.
The evils resulting from the prevailing view of the kingdom of Christ, - which dates it from His ascension and represents it as in being established in the earth to the present time, and so to proceed till the world is completely evangelized, - are many: but the greatest is, that it leads the church to mistake its position in the world in this dispensation, as well as the object of the dispensation itself. The latter, so far from the evangelizing of the world and general conversion of the nations, we are expressly told (Acts 15: 14) is, to take out of the Gentiles a people for the Name of God: and such, we know, has been the only result hitherto, after a period of eighteen hundred years and upwards. And the object for which this people is so taken out, is declared with equal plainness in other Scriptures, namely, to WITNFSS for Christ in the world while held by another power; and during the progress to consummation, not of the kingdom of Christ, but of a MYSTERY OF INIQUITY, which should only be matured and fully developed at the eve of the Lords appearing, when it shall be judged and extirpated (2 Thessalonians 2). The position in the world of the elect church up to the coming of Christ is consequently militancy and suffering, without any intermission - it being the time in which the disciples of the Lord are to be conformed to Him in His humiliation, as they have the prospect of being conformed to Him in His glory at His coming. But the effect of the prevailing expectation is completely to alter this position, as it also plainly inverts this order: for, wherever Christianity is established, there, it says, Christ reigns. And verily, the church has concluded, that if He reigns in the world, she should reign with Him in it; and accordingly she has sought to make it her own, and enjoy herself in it, anticipating in practice her millennium, as many of her expositors have done in theory, who have written to prove that we are now in the millennium - that it commenced with the Christian era, since which time the world is in process of alteration! Well may we take up the keen reproof of the apostle, and say to such - Now ye are full, now ye are rich, ye have reigned as kings without us; and I would to God ye did reign, that we also might reign with you; while he goes on to draw the contrast in his own and the other apostles case - We are fools for Christs sake, but ye are wise in Christ; we are weak, but ye are strong; ye are honourable, but we are despised. (1 Corinthians 4: 8, 10). And it is not only the church, collectively speaking, which has fallen into the mistake, but her members individually: who, we can everywhere see, are for the most part endeavouring to unite the profession of Christianity with a creditable appearance in the world, and the enjoyment of its good things. And this, we are to believe, is to suffer with Christ!
But how do such read their Bibles? Some writer has said, that the truth of the doctrine of Christs pre-millennial advent, or in other words, that his kingdom on earth will not come till He Himself comes - was forced upon his mind by the consideration, that, if His kingdom were to be gradually established in the way usually imagined, the Bible, and especially the Scriptures of the New Testament, would fall into disuse, inasmuch as they would no longer apply to this altered state of the world: for in them the world has uniformly but one character - that of opposition to Christ; and the church also [should have] but one character - militancy and suffering: while all the exhortations to the Christian are worded accordingly. Important argument this, not only as proving this truth, but also as showing its practical influence. Would that it came home to the heart of every professing Christian in this our day, with all the force of a fact so undeniable, so plain and self-evident!
What, then, is it to suffer with Christ? First, it is to sympathize with Christ: so is the word in the original - sumpascho. To sympathize with Him in His present rejection by the world: to know no joy in it so long as he is disowned in it: to make His cause ours: to be separate from the world, as He is, in mind and feeling, living out of it with Him in Spirit. And truly this will be a position of sorrow, knowing no comfort but the comfort of the Spirit, Who in His absence testifies and reminds of Him - no joy but the hope of His appearing, when, as He Himself says, I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you (John 16: 22); when the character of the world shall indeed be altered, because it will then own Him as king; when the meek shall inherit the earth, and delight themselves in the abundance of peace.
But is this all? Will it be confined to mere sympathy - to that which is in the mind and spirit only? No! it will be an actual suffering with Christ, as it will be an actual separation from the world - from ALL that is in the world: for soon will the Christian find, that thus to track the path of Christ through the world, thus to follow Him fully, will make us partakers of His cross, and bearers of His reproach.
Finally - without this we are not [overcoming] Christians. If we suffer, we shall also reign with Him; if we deny Him, He also will deny us (2 Timothy 2: 12). And it is to deny Him, to go in any respect with the course of this world. It is apostasy from the hope of His appearing and kingdom - that hope which, in the scriptural apprehension of it, will ever be found to be the regulator of the Christians position in the world.
* * *
By H J Gamston
(This message was given at a meeting of the Sovereign Grace Advent
Testimony held in
It was recorded and cassettes can be obtained at £1.20 each).
I was once asked what the reason
was for the millennial reign of Christ.
It is a fair question, and one which requires an answer. The Lord Jesus Christ will come again to this
earth, where He will reign for a thousand years. He will reign as King of kings and Lord of lords. But why? What is the purpose? The subject before us is that of
Many are the texts in Scripture
which speak of this glorious future, and which reveal great blessings for the
nations, and in particular for the nation of
This new covenant clearly states in verses 31-34, Behold, the days come (literally, the time is coming), saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which My covenant they brake, although I was a husband unto them, saith the LORD: but this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; after those days, saith the LORD, I will put My law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be My people. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know Me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.
where these verses fit in.
At the end of the previous chapter and the beginning of this chapter,
you will see a wonderful promise had been made to
Then notice in 31: 1, At the same time (the latter days), saith the LORD, will I be the God of all the families of
It is after these things that
God finally establishes this new covenant with the whole nation of
Dr Charles L Feinberg in referring to these verses has said, This mountain-peak Old Testament passage stands in a real sense as the climax of Jeremiahs teaching. Every one of its phrases and clauses is vital.
These verses teach that the re-establishment of the nation of Israel as the people of God reaches its completion in the making of a new covenant, according to which the law of God is written in the hearts of the people; and the knowledge of God founded on the experience of the forgiveness of sins is such that there is no further need of any external means like mutual teaching about God.
The words the time is coming have been used elsewhere by
Jeremiah. They are an eschatological
formula that places the prophecy in Messianic times - in the day of the
Lord. That is, at the consummation
When Jeremiah foretold this new covenant, by implication the Mosaic Covenant became the old one (Hebrews 8: 13). Moreover, this new covenant is an eternal one.
necessitated the Work of a Mediator. It is therefore based
upon the full and eternal atonement secured by the death of Christ. The old Mosaic Covenant spoke of a great
physical deliverance from
little wonder that at the end of verse 34, we
read this wonderful promise from God, made to
2. A New
Covenant can only be fulfilled literally by those with whom it has been made. In verse 31, the covenant brings to mind the cleavage of the nation into
two kingdoms, that is, the house of
It therefore follows that the new covenant will be fulfilled in the millennium, and not in this present age, during which time God is calling out a people to Himself from among both Jew and Gentile. I must hasten to add that whilst the new covenant secures for Israel their perpetuity and future conversion and blessing, it also secures in this our day, the eternal blessing for all who believe and call upon the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins.
one final observation regarding this new covenant before we move on to Gods
as I have said, there are numerous references to future blessings for
The invasion of
1. The Overwhelming Miracle of Divine Prophecy (10: 28-32).
All that is predicted here by
the prophet, when properly interpreted, has been literally fulfilled, although
there will, of course, be a more complete fulfilment in the future. The Assyrian did come from the north in order
to conquer. Their planned march from one
Jewish stronghold to another actually did take place, but they did not reckon with
the Mighty God of Israel. They halted at
Nob, a hill that rises to the north of
We have here also a prophecy of
the end time battle referred to in Zechariah 14. Zechariah speaks of the time which is yet to
come, when God Himself will gather all nations against
2. The Overpowering Might of Divine
the Lord, the LORD of hosts, shall lop
the bough with terror: and the high ones of stature shall be hewn down, and the
haughty shall be humbled. And He shall
cut down the thickets of the forest with iron, and
At this point of time, Israel will have been exhorted in Joel 2: 12-13 to turn to the LORD, with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning: and render your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the LORD your God: for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth Him of the evil.
The command is given by the Lord as further prophesied by Joel in verses 15-19, Blow the trumpet in Zion, sanctify a fast, call a solemn assembly: gather the people, sanctify the congregation, assemble the elders, gather the children, and those that suck the breasts let the bridegroom go forth of his chamber, end the bride out of her closet. Let the priests, the ministers of the LORD, weep between the porch and the altar, and let them say, Spare Thy people, 0 LORD, and give not Thine heritage to reproach, that the heathen should rule over them: wherefore should they say among the people, Where is their God? Then will the LORD be jealous for His Land, and pity His people. Yea, the LORD will answer and say unto His people, Behold, I will send you corn, and wine, and oil, and ye shall be satisfied therewith: and I will no more make you a reproach among the heathen.
Coming back to our verses in Isaiah 10: 28-34, we can see that the image used here most appropriately prepares the way for the introduction (in the next and connected chapter) of the Messiah, the Rod out of the stem of Jesse, and the fruitful Branch to grow from his roots.
This is a very wonderful passage of Scripture! In contrast with the destruction of the high and haughty Assyrian, and as predicted, any future imperial power of the world under the stroke of the LORD, we have in this chapter a remarkable and full description of the Messiah of Israel. In verse 1 we see His Acknowledged Royalty. Then in verses 2-3, we see His Accepted Responsibility.
We note that this responsibility
Secondly, we note that this
a) All laws pertaining to His Kingdom will be Adjudicated by Him, because upon Him rests the Spirit of the LORD, the Spirit of Wisdom, and the Spirit of Understanding.
b) All laws pertaining to His Kingdom will be Administered by Him, because upon Him is the Spirit of Counsel, and the Spirit of Might.
c) All laws pertaining to His Kingdom will be Adopted by Him, because upon Him is the Spirit of Knowledge, and the Spirit of the Fear of the LORD.
The description given to us by
The Bible makes it quite clear
that there are three aspects to the
Was it not for this reason that He came the first time? Did not The Spirit of the LORD rest upon Him when He came to this earth 2000 years ago, to deal with the problem of sin? Did not the LORD anoint Him then that He might preach good tidings (the gospel, good news) unto the meek? And was He not sent to bind up the broken hearted, to proclaim liberty to those enslaved by sin?
The entire strain of the chapters 10 and 11, closes with a suited song of praise (chapter 12) in the lips of Israel in the millennial day with their Holy One in their midst.
Summing up these verses, someone
has clearly stated that no Old Testament prophet paints
The actual rebirth of the nation
This chapter 11: 6-16, which we are considering, reveals a time of distinctive
1. The Redemption of a once-ruined Planet (verses 6-9)
This will take place under the Messiahs active righteous and faithful rule. Under this redemption, two remarkable things are going to happen! Both are spoken of in these four verses:
a) All Nature will be Transformed (verses 6-8)
The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice den.
To spiritualise this passage as some have done is sheer folly. Some early Church fathers, Luther, Calvin, and others, have taken these figures from the animal world as symbolical. Modern rationalists regard them as a beautiful dream and wish. I cannot possibly believe, as some do, that this passage refers to that time when the Lord Jesus Christ was crucified, and that the wolf, the leopard, the bear, and the adder represent His infuriated enemies around the cross on Golgothas hill. Nor can I possibly believe that the lamb, the kid, the calf, the cow, and the young child represent the Christians who would have to live with these enemies.
These verses, taken as they should be, quite literally refer to a time which is yet future a time when the whole of nature, literally ruined by the fall, will be literally transformed.
b) All Nations will be Transformed (verse 9).
They (that is the animals mentioned in the previous verses) shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.
The meaning of the earth, says Delitzsch, is determined by that of all My holy mountain. If the whole of the animal kingdom is to be transformed, it follows that the whole earth will also be transformed. Delitzsch goes on to say that the land of Israel, the dominion of the Son of David in the more restricted sense, will from this time forward be the paradisiacal centre, as it were, of the whole earth, which will be filled with the knowledge of the LORD.
What a transformation this will
be! Under the direct rule and reign of
Yes! the whole earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD (Habakkuk 2:14). That is, the knowledge of the excellencies of Him Who is over all blessed for ever, and is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
2. The Restoration of a once-rebellious People (verses 10-16).
This is seen by what we read in verse 10. Let me give it as it
is rendered in the Hebrew; And it will come to pass in that day: the root-sprout of Jesse,
which stands as a banner of the peoples, for it will nations ask, and its place
of rest is glory. This is a very
precious verse! It reveals something of
the restricted blessings of a peaceful rule to
But now, as Delitzsch points out, the new David is the root-sprout of Jesse, and is therefore in a certain sense the root itself, because the latter would long ago have perished if it had not been borne within itself from the very commencement of Him Who was now about to issue from it.
This is confirmed by the apostle John in Revelation 22:16; I Jesus have sent Mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the Bright and Morning Star. Delitzsch goes on to point out, But when He Who had been concealed in the root of Jesse as its sap and strength should have become the rejuvenated root of Jesse itself (Revelation 22: 16), He would be exalted from this low beginning into a banner summoning the nations to assemble, and uniting them around Himself.
So to it (Him) shall the Gentiles seek (or, ask, for): and His rest shall be glorious (verse 10). Thus being visible to all the world, He will attract the attention of the heathen to Himself, and they on their part, will turn to Him with zeal, and to the place where He settles down to rule and to reign (that is, in the rebuilt temple in Jerusalem).
The nation out of which and for which this King will primarily arise, will, before this finally happens, be redeemed and restored to its own land, as we see from verses 11-12. It therefore follows, that throughout the millennium it will continually be said of Israel, The LORD hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people unto Himself, above all the nations that are upon the face of the earth (Deuteronomy 14: 2).
There is much more we could say
of this nation. Many are the verses which confirm
d) Israel will be made all righteous (Isaiah 1: 25; 2: 4; 44: 22-24; 45: 17-25; 48: 17; 55: 7; 57: 18-19; 63: 16; Jeremiah 31: 11; 33: 8; 50: 20; Ezekiel 36: 25-26; Hosea 14: 4; Joel 3: 21; Micah 7: 18-19; Zechariah 13: 9; Malachi 3: 2-3).
What message are we to learn from this today? I say with the words of one of old, Short of Gods glory established and manifested on earth, no true believer in Christ should ever rest. It is excellent to serve the living God and our Lord Jesus Christ; it is better still to worship in Spirit and in truth as we await Gods Son from heaven. But best of all will be when He comes and in due time sets up the displayed kingdom, Himself the Heir of all things, and we [if accounted worthy will be] joint-heirs with Him.
This will surely be Gods glory below as well as above. Preaching may win souls for heaven; but Christ must come from thence to restore all things to Gods glory. Is not this the chorus which unites all the prophetic choir? Most of all, should not the true believer in Christ have it at heart: for many prophets and kings have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them (Luke 10: 24)? What it is to be a member of His body, to be part of His bride! Should we rest satisfied with anything but Christ exalted over His universe to Gods glory?
* * *
The Testimony of Apostles
By Adolph Saphir, D.D.
(This article is taken from Dr Saphirs book, Christ and the Scriptures).
Let us look at the Gospels, Epistles, and the Book of the Revelation, and notice their relation to the Jewish Scripture.
Here I cannot but express grief and astonishment at the prevalent neglect of the Jewish Scripture. The term Old Testament may partly have contributed to this, people imagining that what is old is antiquated. These Scriptures are full of Christ; and were it but for the circumstance that they are the only writings of which we know that Christ used and loved them, they ought to be most precious to us. Christs favourite book! Christs only book! The book He always read, always quoted; His guide and companion during life; His meditation and comfort in His sufferings and on His cross. If you love Jesus, you ought dearly to love and diligently read this book.
But the thought of many is, I can read all about Jesus and more fully, in the New Testament. I believe this to be erroneous, and in part bordering on superstition.
Take the Gospels. How can we understand them without Moses and the prophets? The very first verse of Matthew is unintelligible: The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. Who is David? Who is Abraham? What meaning is there in this genealogy? And yet we know that it is full of the most blessed meaning, viz., that Jesus is the Seed of Abraham, in Whom all nations are to be blessed; and the Son of David, the Beloved, the King of the Jews, and the Shepherd of the flock.
The name Jesus refers to Joshua; the name Christ to the anointing, the significance of which
was well known to
The expression Lamb of God does not refer exclusively, or even primarily, to the meekness of Christ. The natural symbolism of the lamb was, indeed the substratum; but the real symbol is that lamb of which we read in Exodus, and which finds its perfect and minute fulfilment in Jesus, in His death on the cross, in the sprinkling of blood on the conscience, in the believers partaking of Christ, in the spirit of repentance and separation unto God with which faith is accompanied. Therefore is Christ called the Lamb of God. Bearing sin is an expression based upon Leviticus, and illumined by Isaiah 53.
When we read the words, generation of vipers, we are unable to understand
their real import, and are in danger of viewing them as the expressions of an
unrestrained anger and abhorrence except by referring to Genesis 3: 15, Psalm 91: 13, and
other Scriptures; where we are taught that there are two seeds, two generations;
that of the serpent and the children of God, the seed of a woman. If we wish to understand the Gospels, the
life and teaching of Jesus, we require the same preparation as
The evangelist Luke gives a lovely description of that garden of prepared Israelites who received the Saviour with joy. Notice, in the first place, Mary, the blessed virgin. The angel had announced to her the birth of the true David, and his words (an echo of 2 Samuel 7: 11-12; Isaiah 9: 6-7; Daniel 2: 44) sufficiently show that the prophetic word is known and believed in the angelic world. Marys song is full of allusions to the promises of God as given to the fathers.
So is the song of Zacharias,
who, being filled with the Holy Ghost, praises God for His gracious fulfilment
of His Word, spoken by the mouth of His holy prophets,
which have been since the world began. Simeon, who according to Luke, waited for the consolation of
Again, how did John the Baptist prepare the way of the Lord? He preached, according to the Scripture, of a change of mind, of the kingdom of God, of the great harvest, and the separation between wheat and chaff, of baptism with the Holy Ghost, of the Lamb of God (Jeremiah 3: 12-14; Isaiah 58: 6-7; Psalm 1; Isaiah 2; Ezekiel 36; Exodus 12; Isaiah 53). To prove that the Gospels cannot be fully understood without the Scriptures of Moses and the prophets would be to go through the whole fourfold narrative. It is not sufficient to say that many of our Lords actions were performed expressly with a view to the fulfilment of prophecy (Matthew 4: 13-16; 12: 16-21; 13: 34-35; 21: 4-5); it is not sufficient to recognise His references to the written Word.
The whole picture of Jesus given
us in the Gospels is the fulfilment of that outline which was sketched in word,
and sign, and fact, in
Consider, moreover, who were the
Saviours first disciples. Andrew said
to Simon, We have found the Messiah. Philip said to Nathanael, We have found Him, of Whom Moses in the law, and the
prophets, did write.
Nathanael welcomed Jesus as the Son of God, the King of Israel. These men knew the Scriptures. They were
waiting for the promised Messiah, the Anointed One. They had studied Moses and the prophets, and
recognised the fulfilment. Nathanael
knew that God had a Son; he had learned so from Psalm 2, from Proverbs 30: 4; he knew that
Thus we ought to enter on the study of the Gospels, on the contemplation of the life and words of Him Whose going forth are from of old; and then we shall see that it is He.
And in like manner the apostles preached Jesus, not from their own writings, which did not exist then, but from the Scriptures. What was Peters sermon on the day of Pentecost? He announced (1) the outpouring of the Spirit according to Joel 2; (2) the resurrection of Jesus according to Psalm 16; (3) His ascension according to Psalm 110; and on this he bases (4) the lordship of Jesus as the Messiah.
When Peter is before the Jewish rulers he preaches Jesus from Psalm 118; and when the apostles return to the company of believers, the Church is of good comfort, because it knows (from Psalm 2) that Christ, and not it, is the object of mans persecution. It is on the ground of Scripture that the apostles decide the great question concerning the Gentiles and the law (Acts 15), even as it was the prophetic word which Peter had preached to Cornelius (Acts 10).
What did the evangelist Philip declare to the Ethiopian? He expounded to him Isaiah 53, and the eunuch believed, and went on his way rejoicing.
What did Stephen testify? Behold him, his countenance like the countenance of an angel; in the face of death his last word is a summary of Moses and the prophets! How clear was this word to his mind! How near to his memory and mouth! How dear to his heart!
What was Pauls preaching? He proved from the Scripture that Jesus is the Christ; he opened the meaning of the prophetic word concerning the Messiah; he asked not merely the Jews, but also King Agrippa, Believest thou the prophets? He sums up his teaching in these words, that Christ died for our sins, according to the Scriptures; and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures (1 Corinthians 15: 34). Apollos also was mighty in the Scriptures.
All the apostles preached Jesus from Moses and the prophets. The book of Acts is a continuous unfolding of the ancient Scripture. The Bereans are commended because they compared apostolic teaching with the Scripture; from which we learn not merely that the apostles based their preaching on Scripture, but that they were anxious their hearers should believe the message, because it was in accordance with the infallible Word of God.
The Epistles of Paul
Look at the Epistles. What are they but the unfolding of the gospel of Scripture?
Take that most important Epistle to the Romans. All Christians regard it as a very fundamental epistle, our great defence and bulwark, the basis of our instruction; containing so clearly the doctrine of justification by faith which we teach in our schools and congregations. Now, analyse the epistle. From the very outset Paul announces as his text and thesis the words of Habakkuk, The just shall live by faith (Yet for a hundred people who read Romans, is there one who reads the prophet Habakkuk?). He then proceeds to prove, from the Psalms, the sinfulness of man. Then he shows justification. But how? By referring to the mercy cover, in Leviticus.
If we understand the tabernacle, the meaning of the ark, of the testimony of the law against us which it contained, of the mercy cover, of the sprinkling of blood, we see the force of Pauls words, that God hath set forth Jesus to be a mercy cover (Hilasterion), through faith in His Blood (Romans 3: 24-25). He goes on to explain the way in which the sinner is justified, by the Scriptures concerning Abram (Genesis 15: 6) and David (Psalm 32). He derives an additional argument from the date and meaning of circumcision.
In Romans 5, he shows how sin and death are connected with Adam, and
righteousness and life with Christ. Is
this chapter not inseparable from Genesis 3? If you know not the history of the fall, can
you understand the teaching of Paul? In chapters 9-11, he explains the doctrine of election, the position of
Take the Epistle to the Hebrews, and its most striking points. Christs divinity is proved from various Scriptures, His humanity and future glory from Psalm 2, the glory of His priesthood from the history of Melchisedec. Hebrews is a commentary on Leviticus. It is a book in a foreign tongue, unless read in the light of the Scripture.
Look at the Epistle to the Galatians, a Gentile church, only of recent date in their experience of Christian Truth. Pauls argument is about Isaac and Ishmael, about Sarah and Hagar. This most fundamental, evangelical defence of the liberty of the children of God rests upon Genesis.
So with all the apostolic epistles. In 1 Corinthians, Paul shows from Isaiah and Jeremiah the true character of the worlds wisdom, and that eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered in to the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him (2: 9). His exercise of discipline (chapter 5) he founds on Deuteronomy 13: 5. In chapter 10, he explains the history of the wilderness, and from the law of Moses he urges the duty and privilege of the support of the ministry.
I will only add his references to the creation of the woman out of Adam (chapter 11), and his exposition of the resurrection (chapter 15), so full of Scripture. How striking and powerful is his quotation in 2 Corinthians 6 of four different passages (Leviticus 26: 11-12; Isaiah 52: 11; Jeremiah 31: 33 and 32: 38), introducing them with the words, As God hath said! And it is truly the voice of God speaking to us to be separate unto Him.
How beautifully does Paul explain in the Epistle to the Ephesians (this most characteristic portion of the book of the Church) the words of Psalm 68. How emphatic is his testimony concerning the Scriptures in his Epistles to Timothy, possessed of special solemnity in the prospect of his departure, and of perilous times.
Equally rich in Scripture quotation and illustration is Peter in his Epistles; indeed, no apostle speaks more decidedly and clearly on the authority and Divine inspiration and fullness of Scripture, even as no one uses more beautifully and abundantly the Scriptures for our instruction and comfort. The Rock on which this rock was founded was Christ and Christ according to the Scripture.
The little Epistle of Jude
refers to Cain, to
The Epistles of John are a powerful exposition of the history of Cain and Abel (Kohlbrugge).
James speaks of Abraham offering up Isaac, of the faith of Rahab, of Elijah and his prayer, of Jobs patience and the Lords dealings with him, of the law in its unity; and his epistle abounds in allusions to Scripture thoughts and words.
The Book of the Revelation is a compendium of Moses and the prophets, referring especially to Isaiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, and Zechariah; a summary of all the preceding revelation of God, the beautiful culminating point of the whole record.
The New Testament as a Whole
It is not too much to say, that as a dictionary is necessary to explain the words of a new language, so the words and facts of the Gospels and Epistles require the explanation of Moses and the prophets. You cannot read the New Testament without using the Old as a dictionary.
Martin Luther said, The most beautiful exposition of Moses, the prophets, and the Psalms is the New Testament, and especially John and Paul; even as the Old Testament is the foundation and fortress of the New Testament. If I were younger, I would seek all the words of the New Testament in Moses and the prophets. By placing expressions and texts of the two together, grand and wonderful expositions of Scripture would be obtained.
It is a very superficial view to think that, because we see the word Jesus, and the word Lamb, and the words blood and mercyseat, we have therefore clear and full views, and solid and substantial ground of confidence, comfort, and hope. Unless we know the meaning which is explained in the history, the types, the institutions, and the prophecy given to Israel, we do not rest on a solid basis; we are not feeding on nourishing food; we are not growing by the sincere milk of the Word.
Oh that we were wise and read the Scripture, the whole Scripture from Genesis to Malachi, and the inspired commentary from Matthew to the Revelation! That we went into Gods school, learning His ideas and language, and explaining His Word, not out of the dictionary of reason, the opinions of men, and the traditions of the Church, but out of the dictionary He Himself has graciously provided! That we used a wholesome frugality in our reading of uninspired books and tracts, and that we possessed a healthy appetite for the nutritious and strengthening Word of God! That we would not confine ourselves to our favourite chapters, but launch out into the free, majestic, infinite ocean of Scripture! That we fed on the green pastures, so spacious and so varied!
Let me entreat the young especially to read the whole Scripture, copiously, regularly, and systematically. The older people among us enjoyed a training in systematic theology, according to catechisms (written over a century ago ‑ Ed.). It is not the best way, but it is far preferable to what alas! is too much the state of things now - that is, the absence of systematic spiritual training. Scripture knowledge derived from Scripture itself is the best. But what is to be feared at present is, that our young people, fully sharing in the general and somewhat exaggerated dread of catechisms and systematic manuals, live chiefly on popular sermons and tracts.
Of too many it must be said, they are not convinced by Scripture. They do not possess an insight into the scope of the Bible. They know little of Moses, and still less of the prophets. They do not understand the drift of an epistle. And therefore they may easily be tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine. A good flow of language, solemnity of manner, and plausible philosophy, carry them away. Our armour is the Word. Read the Scripture, and prayerfully and diligently study the whole counsel of God.
* * *
The Day of the Lord
By H G
(This niessage was given at a meeting of the Sovereign Grace Advent Testimony
The Prophecies of Zechariah and Malachi are a part of that more sure word of prophecy whereunto we do well to take heed as unto a light shining in a dark place - this evil world of sin, darkness, and woe.
Now to begin with, it is well to
have in our minds a little outline concerning the prophets of
Jeremiah prophesied before the
seventy years of the Babylonian captivity; Ezekiel and Daniel prophesied during
that period; and Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi prophesied after the return from
captivity. Ezra and Nehemiah are the
historical books relating to the resettlement of
We learn from these historical
books how that after the return of
Because of this, the Prophets Haggai And Zechariah were sent to stir up the people to complete the Lords house, and although the Temple which they had started to build was insignificant as compared with Solomons Temple, Haggai and Zechariah assured the people that God would take pleasure in their labours, and they were given rich promises of restoration and of blessing if they continued faithful.
The Structure of the Prophecy of Zechariah
Regarding the structure of this book of the Prophecy of
Zechariah, there are eight visions which God gave to the prophet to record, and
these are found in chapters 1-6, while chapters 7-14 record more direct statements of prophecy. We also find in the visions and the promises
connected with them, that they go beyond their immediate
It is always important to remember that sometimes prophecies have a double fulfilment. We see this in connection with the prophecy in Joel 2. Peter referred to this on the day of Pentecost. Truly, Pentecost was an earnest of this, but how brief! And the final or complete fulfilment is to be in the Day of the Lord, when the Lord will be once again in the midst of His people Israel, and when they as Gods priests and ministers will dispense justice and truth and healing in the earth.
Its Opening Message
In the opening words of the Prophet
Zechariah, before the visions are enlarged upon, we find how God, through His
servant, first called the people to repentance (verse 3). And this is exactly how both John the Baptist
and the Lord Jesus began their message and ministry to the nation of
We also read in verse 1 of the actual time when the prophet received this Word of the Lord. It was in the eighth month, in the second year of Darius the king; and it was exactly two months earlier, in the sixth month of the second year of the same king that Haggai began to prophesy.
In Zechariah 1: 3, we have the term The LORD of Hosts, and in passing I would just state that this majestic Name is used no fewer than eighty times by these last three Prophets - Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi. And note also that it is Thus saith the LORD of hosts. It is evidently to inspire the people with confidence that God was mightier than all their outward circumstances - however great and powerful their enemies were.
Then in verses 5 and 6 we have the questions, Your fathers, where are they? And the prophets, do they live for ever? Their lives were of short duration, but Gods words and Gods statutes, in contrast, remain. Did they (these are Gods words) not overtake your fathers? Yes truly, and in judgment, and they turned, but not in repentance; only to acknowledge that their afflictions were from the hand of God. The literality of the judgment was too apparent to deny; they recognised that they had reaped what they had sown, and said, according to our doings so hath He dealt with us.
Now since my subject is the Day of the Lord which is yet to dawn, I must pass over the visions which are described from verse 7 of chapter 1 to the end of chapter 6, and concentrate our thoughts more upon chapters 7-14 and also briefly refer to the prophet Malachi. This, of course, is a vast subject and therefore one can only summarise some of the most important details of these latter chapters.
In chapter 7 we find that nearly two years had elapsed since that memorable night on which the series of the eight visions were shown to the Prophet - in which were unfolded in a wonderful panorama the thoughts and purposes of God concerning Israel and the nations from the beginning to the very end of this age. Then the word of Jehovah came again to Zechariah.
Again the day, the month and the year of the Divine Oracle are clearly given as being the fourth year of King Darius. Thus it would be about two years after Haggai had stirred up the people to recommence the building of the Lords house, and about two years before the house was finished (Ezra 6: 15; Haggai 1: 1-15).
At this time, a deputation came
Their enquiry was, need the people continue to keep these fasts and afflict
their souls in memory of their former calamities, namely the invasion of their
land and destruction of their
Promise of Future Blessing
The Prophet Zechariah however,
who spoke to them in the Name of the Lord did not answer them directly, and the
first part of the prophetic discourse as contained in chapter
7 was intended to bring home to them and the nation the cause of their
former and present sad and reduced circumstances. The cause of their low estate was moral, the
perverting of justice, oppression of the poor, and their hardness of
heart. It was because of these things
that they had been scattered with a whirlwind, and their land made
desolate. The causes were divinely
reiterated. It was of their
own making. So with Gods
condemnation of the nation the chapter ends, but as it is seen so often in
these prophetical passages, after the condemnation of His people
And this prophetical discourse continues in chapter 8 with gracious promises that He will yet save His people and be their God in Truth and Righteousness, resulting in world-wide blessings.
This same climax of blessing is found in earlier chapters 1-6, and in later chapters 9-10, and 12-14; in other words, throughout the whole Book. In wrath, God ever remembers mercy.
Restoration and Blessing
And so we have the closing words
in chapter 8 declaring It shall yet come to pass, that there shall come people(s),
and the inhabitants of many cities ... saying,
Let us go speedily to pray ... and seek the LORD of hosts in Jerusalem ... In those days ... ten men out
of all languages of the nations, even shall take hold of the skirt of him that
is a Jew, saying, We will go with you: for we have heard that God is with you
(8: 20-23). Such words imply eagerness and
assurance for the Lord will take away the reproach of His people
The nations will then realise that
their fathers have inherited lies and vanities, and that Gods favour rests
We pass on to chapter 9 and here it is reiterated, like each of the passages already noted, that much is beyond the then present circumstances or contemporary history, and culminates in the time when Israel shall be brought to true repentance and will return unto the Lord never more to be forsaken, neither their land again made desolate.
some of the expressions in this chapter, as indeed in other chapters in this
book, may seem somewhat obscure, yet the general trend of events is clear, and
especially as they accord with the prophetical passages in the New Testament
concerning the end of this age.
Take such words as we have in verse 10, And I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim, and the horse
True Peace and Rest
shall speak peace unto the nations (9: 10). How
parallel are such words with Isaiah 2: 14, They
shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks
... neither shall they learn war any more. And Psalm 86: 9,
All nations whom Thou hast made shall come and worship
Thee, 0 Lord; and shall glorify Thy Name. He shall have
dominion also from sea to sea and from the river (
And as to spiritual life, it
will still be peace through the Blood of His Cross, and through
Verse 14. And the LORD shall be seen over them, and His arrow shall go forth as lightning. And in the Isaiah 63 context with Zechariah 14: 3 we read of how the Lord will fight for them, when He comes from heaven glorious in apparel, the day of vengeance in His heart for the year of His redeemed is come.
And the LORD God shall blow the trumpet (9: 14). How fitting are such words with the New Testament passages, The trump of God (1 Thessalonians 4: 15-18) and the last trump (1 Corinthians 15: 52), linked with Revelation 11: 15-18 when resurrection and reward to saints takes place and Gods wrath follows on the ungodly and the kingdoms of this world ... become the kingdom of our Lord, and of His Christ.
And shall go with whirlwinds of the south (9: 14). The elements of nature shall be used to effect Gods judgments. The sun darkened, the moon as blood, the heavens departing as a scroll, mountains and islands removed out of their places are accompaniments of the Lords second advent as confirmed by Revelation 6 and 7 and Hebrews 12.
great is His goodness, and how great is His beauty (9: 17). Such will be the words used by converted
True Contrition and Confidence in the Messiah
But in that Day, Israel, when
they look on Him Whom their nation once pierced and despised, shall be brought
to mourn and lament for Him, with deep contrition of heart as the words of chapter 12: 10-14 state. But their mourning shall be turned to
rejoicing, for the Lord shall preserve them during the brief time following His
glorious coming, while the vials of wrath are poured out on the wicked. Then He will make Himself known to His
brethren in everlasting embrace, nevermore to be pulled out of their land. And I
will bring again the captivity of My people of
Now may I just draw your
attention to chapter 10: 4-7.
In verse 4 we read Out of (literally, from) him (that is, from
From him (Judah the royal tribe from which our Lord sprang), the One Whom God laid in Zion for a foundation stone, a tried stone, a precious Corner Stone, a sure foundation. These are expressions giving varied aspects of the dignity and glory that belong to the Lord Jesus Christ (Isaiah. 28: 16). We may also call to mind the somewhat similar figure given in Daniel 2: 44-45 - the Stone cut out without hands which shall destroy and consume all the kingdoms of this world, so that His Kingdom of peace and righteousness shall stand for ever.
From him (Judah) the Nail fastened in a sure place and upon Whom shall hang all the glory of His Fathers house (Isaiah 22: 20-25).
From him (Judah) the Battle-Bow. The Lord is a man of war. He will not let the wicked go unpunished. He will come in all His strength to save all the meek of the earth (Psalm 76: 7-9). His wrath will be poured out (Isaiah 63: 1) upon the ungodly, upon Antichrist and all his evil hosts.
From him (Judah) every Exactor or Ruler together. All ruling power and authority united in Himself - both Kingship and royal Priesthood, as Psalm 110 makes clear, and all who do not submit themselves shall perish.
And they (
They of Ephraim, shall be like a mighty man ... yea their children shall see it, and be glad; their heart shall rejoice in the LORD (10: 7) on account of His mercies and deliverance.
Verse 12, I will strengthen them in the LORD. On this bright note the chapter ends. And they shall walk up and down in His Name saith the LORD, subdued and conscious of Gods mercy, and none shall make them afraid (Micah 4: 14).
Divine Events in that Future Day
We thus arrive at the last three chapters of this prophecy. These chapters (12-14), link together events connected with That Day, the expression so often used in the prophetic Scriptures in reference to The Day of the LORD, which embraces the 1,000 years of sabbattic rest in contrast to Mans day of misrule and oppression which has now continued nearly 6,000 years. It is the last day spoken of in John 6 (mentioned four times); the day of resurrection unto life when the Lord takes control, and saints enter into their rest, and judgment follows upon the ungodly (2 Thessalonians 1). We can only give a very brief outline of these three last chapters.
Chapter 12 sets
forth Gods Sovereignty over all creation, and reminds us of the
immutability of His promises to
reveals that in this Day of the Lord there will be a fountain opened for sin
and uncleanness to the house of David and to the inhabitants of
And this brings us to the last
chapter wherein is brought before us how all nations will be gathered against
The True King
And the LORD shall be King over all the earth: in that Day shall there be One Lord, and His Name One (verse 9). No longer, gods many and lords many 1 Corinthians 8: 5).
The nations shall realise that their idols are vanity and less than vanity and that they have inherited lies. The satanic veil of superstition and idolatry shall be taken away (Isaiah 25: 7).
The Session of the Ancient of Days will have taken place, and the Son of Man given dominion and glory and a kingdom that will not pass away, that all peoples and nations and languages shall serve Him (Daniel 7: 13-14). Truly, then, will a King be reigning in perfect righteousness as Isaiah 32:1 states and it shall be fulfilled, The Lord God shall give unto Him the throne of His father David: and He shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of His kingdom there shall be no end (Luke 1: 32-33). Verse 21: And in that Day there shall be no more the Canaanite (or merchant) in the house of the LORD, for then will be designated everything as Holiness unto the LORD, when Israel as a nation will be conscious of Gods grace, loving Truth and Righteousness.
Now, I refer to the Prophet Malachi. The name Malachi means My Messenger. This is the last of the Old Testament prophecies and Malachi was to Nehemiah what Haggai and Zechariah were to Zerrubbabel.
Following a period of revival
after the return from captivity in
And chapter 4 continues, For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be as stubble; and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the LORD of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch. But unto you that fear My Name shall the Sun of Righteousness arise with healing in His wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall. And ye shall tread down the wicked; for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet in the day that I shall do this, saith the LORD of hosts.
As already mentioned,
All these consolatory announcements given to Israel show clearly that Jehovah is jealous for Zion with great jealousy and will return to Jerusalem with mercies; and that not only will the people be restored and the land rebuilt, but that He Himself will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem which shall be known as the City of Truth and The Holy Mountain - the centre to which the Gentile nations shall come to seek Jehovah and be taught His way.
* * *
A Message to Preachers
By A W Pink
In this message we purpose to treat of those things which have a particular bearing upon those whom God has called to preach and teach His Word: those whose whole time and energies are to be devoted unto seeking the spiritual and eternal welfare of souls, and the better equipping of themselves for that most blessed, solemn and important work. Their principal tasks are to proclaim Gods Truth and to exemplify and commend their message by diligently endeavouring to practise what they preach, and setting before their hearers a personal example of practical godliness. Since it be the Truth they are to preach, no pains must be spared in seeing to it that no error be intermingled therewith, that it is the pure milk of the Word they are giving forth. To preach Error instead of Truth is not only grievously to dishonour God and His Word, but will mislead and poison the minds of the hearers or readers.
The preachers task is both the most honourable and the most solemn of any calling, the most privileged and at the same time the most responsible one. He professes to be a servant of the Lord Jesus Christ, a messenger sent forth by the Most High. To misrepresent his Master, to preach any other gospel than His, to falsify the message which God has committed to his trust is the sin of sins which brings down upon him the anathema of heaven (Galatians 1:8), and will be visited with the sorest punishment awaiting any creature. Scripture is plain that the heaviest measure of Divine wrath is reserved for unfaithful preachers (Matthew 23: 14; Jude 13). Therefore the warning is given, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation (James 3: 1) if unfaithful to our trust. Every minister of the Gospel will yet have to render a full account of his stewardship unto the One Whom he claims called him to feed His sheep (Hebrews 13: 17), to answer for the souls who were committed to his charge. If he fails to diligently warn the wicked, and he dies in his iniquity, God declares his blood will I require at thine hand (Ezekiel 3:18).
Thus the chief and constant duty of the preacher is to conform unto that injunction, Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth (2 Timothy 2: 15). In the whole Scripture there is no exhortation addressed to preachers which is of greater import than that one, and few equal. Doubtless that is why Satan has been so active in seeking to obscure its first two clauses by raising such a cloud of dust over the last one. The Greek word for study here signifies give diligence; spare no efforts, but make it your paramount concern and constant endeavour to please your Master. Seek not the smiles and flatteries of worms of the earth, but the approbation of the Lord. That is to take precedence of everything else: unless it is, attention to the second thing mentioned will be in vain. Entirely subordinate all other aims to commending thyself unto God - thine own heart and character, thy dealing with and walk before Him, ordering all thy ways according to His revealed will. What are your service, your ministrations, worth if He be displeased with thee?
A workman that needeth not to be ashamed. Be conscientious, diligent, faithful, in the use you make of your time and the talents God has entrusted to you. Give unremitting heed to that precept, Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might (Ecclesiastes 9: 10) - put your very best into it. Be industrious and assiduous, not careless and slovenly. See how well you can do each thing, not how quickly. The Greek word for workman is also translated labourer, and in twentieth century English might well be rendered toiler. The ministry is no place for triflers and idlers, but for those who are prepared to spend and be spent in the cause of Christ. The preacher ought to work harder than the miner, and to spend more hours per week in his study than does the man of business in his office. A workman is the very opposite of a shirker. If the preacher is to show himself approved unto God and be a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, then he will have to labour while others sleep, and do so until he sweats mentally.
Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all. Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them; for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee (1 Timothy 4 : 15-16). This is another part of the mandate which Christ has laid upon His official servants, and a most comprehending and exacting one it is. He requires them to put their hearts into the work, to give the whole of their thoughts to it, to lay themselves completely out in it, to devote all their time and strength thereto. They are to keep clear of all secular affairs and worldly employments, and to show all diligence in the task assigned them. That it is an arduous task appears from the different designations given them. They are called soldiers to denote the exertions and fatigue which attend the proper discharge of their calling; overseers and watchmen to intimate the care and concern which accompany their office, shepherds and teachers to signify the various duties of leading and feeding those committed to their charge. But first and foremost they are to take heed to their personal growth in grace and piety, if they would minister effectually unto others.
Particularly does the minister need to attend unto this injunction take heed unto thyself in his study of the Scriptures, reading them devotionally ere he does so professionally, that is, seeking their application and blessing to his own soul before searching for sermonic materials. As the saintly Hervey expressed it, Thus may we always be affected when we study the Oracles of Truth. Study them not as cold critics, who are only to judge of their meaning, but as persons deeply interested in all they contain; who are particularly addressed in every exhortation, and directed in every precept; whose are the promises and to whom belong the precious privileges. When we are enabled thus to realise and appropriate the contents of that invaluable Book, then shall we taste the sweetness and feel the power of the Scriptures. Then shall we know by happy experience that our Divine Masters words are not barely sounds and syllables, but that they are spirit and they are life. No man can be constantly giving out - that which is fresh and savoury - unless he be continually taking in. That which he is to declare unto others is what his own ears have first heard, his own eyes seen, his own hands have handled (1 John 1: 1-2).
The mere quoting of Scripture in the pulpit is not sufficient - people can become familiar with the letter of the Word by reading it at home; it is the expounding and application of it which is so much needed. And Paul, as his manner was ... reasoned with them out of the Scriptures, opening and alleging, that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again [out] from the dead (Acts 17: 2‑3). But to open the Scriptures helpfully to the saints requires something more than a few months training in a Bible Institute, or a year or two in a seminary. None but those who have been personally taught of God in the hard school of experience are qualified to so open the Word that Divine light is cast upon the spiritual problems of the believer, for while Scripture interprets experience, experience is often the best interpreter of Scripture. The heart of the wise teacheth his mouth, and addeth learning to his lips (Proverbs 16: 23), and that learning cannot be acquired in any mans school. No one can learn what humility is by means of the concordance, nor secure more faith by studying certain passages of Scripture. The one is acquired through painful discoveries of the plague of our hearts, and the other is increased by a deepening acquaintance with God. We must ourselves be comforted of Him before we can comfort others (2 Corinthians 1: 4).
To seek after mere notions of Truth, without an endeavour after an experience of its power in our hearts, is not the way to increase our understanding in spiritual things. He alone is in a posture to learn from God, who sincerely gives up his mind, conscience, and affections to the power and rule of what is revealed unto him. Men may have in their study of the Scriptures other ends also, as the profit and edification of others. But if this conforming of their own souls unto the power of the Word be not fixed in the first place in their minds they do not strive lawfully, nor will they be crowned. And if at any time, when we study the Word, we have not this design expressly in our minds, yet if upon the discovery of any truth we endeavour not to have the likeness of it in our own hearts, we lose our principal advantage by it (John Owen).
It is much to be feared that many preachers will have reason to lament in the day to come, They made me the keeper of the vineyards; but mine own vineyard have I not kept (Song of Solomon 1: 6) - like a chef preparing meals for others and himself starved.
While the preacher is to ponder the Word devotionally, he is also to read it studiously. If he is to become able to feed his flock with the finest of the wheat (Psalm 81:16), then he must needs study it diligently and daily and that to the end of his life. Alas, that so many preachers abandon their habit of study as soon as they are ordained! The Bible is an inexhaustible mine of spiritual treasure, and the more its riches are opened to us (by hard digging) the more we realise how much there is yet unpossessed, and how little we really understand what has been received. If any man think that he knoweth any thing, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know (1 Corinthians 8: 2).
The Word of God cannot be understood without a constant and laborious study, without a careful and prayerful scrutiny of its contents. This is not to say that it is recondite and obscure. No, it is as plain and intelligible as in the nature of things it can he, adopted in the best possible manner to give instruction in the holy and profound things of which it treats. But none can be instructed by the best possible means of instruction who will not take pains with the same. Promise of understanding is not made to the dilatory and indolent, but to the diligent and earnest, to those who seek for spiritual treasure (Proverbs 2: 33). The Scriptures have to be searched; searched daily, persistently and perseveringly, if the minister is to become thoroughly familiar with the whole of what God has revealed, and if he is to set before his hearers a feast of fat things. Of the wise preacher it is said, he still taught the people knowledge; yea, he gave good heed, and sought to find out, even sought to find out acceptable words (Ecclesiastes 12: 9-10), as if his whole soul was engaged in the discovery of the best mode as well as the best substance of instruction.
No preacher should be content with being anything less than a man mighty in the Scriptures (Acts 18: 24). But to attain thereunto he must subordinate all other interests. As an old writer quaintly said, The preacher should be with his time as the miser is with his gold - saving it with care, and spending it with caution. He must also remind himself constantly Whose Book it is he is about to take up, so that he ever handles it with the utmost reverence, and can aver my heart standeth in awe of Thy Word (Psalm 119: 161). He must approach it in lowly-mindedness, for it is only unto such that the Lord giveth more grace. He must ever come to it in the spirit of prayer, crying that which I see not teach Thou me (Job 34: 32): the enlightening grace of the [Holy] Spirit will often open mysteries to the meek and dependent which remain closed to the most learned and scholarly. A holy heart is equally indispensable for the reception of supernatural truth, for the understanding is clarified by the purifying of the heart. Let there also be a humble expectation of Divine help, for according to your faith be it unto you holds good here, too.
It is only by giving heed to the things which have been pointed out in the preceding paragraphs that the necessary foundations are laid for any mans becoming a competent expositor. The task before him is to unfold, with clearness and accuracy, the Word of God. His business is entirely exegetical - to bring out the true meaning of each passage he deals with, whether it accords with his own preconceptions or no. As it is the work of the translator to convey the real sense of the Hebrew and Greek into English, so the interpreters is to apprehend and communicate the precise ideas which the language of the Bible was meant to impart. As the renowned Bengel so well expressed it, An expositor should be like the maker of a well: who puts no water into it, but makes it his object to let the water flow, without diversion, stoppage, or defilement. In other words, he must not take the slightest liberty with the sacred text, nor give it a meaning which it will not legitimately bear; neither modifying its force nor superimposing upon it anything of his own, but seeking to give out its true import.
To comply with what has just been said calls for an unbiased approach, an honest heart, and a spirit of fidelity on the part of the interpreter. Nothing should be elicited from the text but what is yielded by the fair and grammatical explanation of its language (Patrick Fairbaim). It is easy to assent to that dictum, but often difficult to put into practice. A personal shrinking from what condemns the preacher, a sectarian bias of mind, the desire to please his hearers, have caused not a few to evade the plain force of certain passages, and to foist on them significations which are often quite foreign to their meaning. Said Luther, We must not make Gods Word mean what we wish. We must not bend it, but allow it to bend us, and give it the honour of being better than we can make it. Anything other than that is highly reprehensible. Great care needs ever to be taken that we do not expound our own mind instead of Gods. Nothing can be more blameworthy than for a man to profess to be uttering a Thus saith the Lord when he is merely expressing his own thoughts. Yet who is there who has not, unwittingly, done so?
If the druggist is required by
law to follow exactly the doctors prescription, if military officers must
transmit the orders of their commanders verbatim or suffer severe penalties,
how much more incumbent it is for one dealing with Divine and eternal things to
adhere strictly to his text book! The
interpreters task is to emulate those described in Nehemiah
8: 8, of whom it is said they
read in the book of the law of God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused
them to understand the reading.
The reference is unto those who had returned to
* * *
The Spiritual Nature of
By J A Green
(This message was given at a Sovereign Grace
Advent Testimony meeting in
Cassette tapes and CDs are available).
The Kingdom of God Always Spiritual
We do not accept the charge of our a-millennial brethren that we hold
a carnal, materialistic
or slavishly literal idea about the
In Mark 1 we read that we have the beginning of the gospel of Jesus
Christ, the Son of God, and in verses 14-15, our
Lord introduces His public ministry. It
says, after John was cast into prison, Jesus
came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, The
time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand (or
has drawn near): repent ye and believe the gospel. That was the commencement of His public
ministry. But prior to that, the Lord
Jesus had given an earlier exposition of the
What are those basic essentials? That man must needs be the subject of an almighty operation of the Spirit of God in the exceeding greatness of His power to lift him out of the realm of nature and to put him into Christ. That man must experience a birth from heaven, a rebirth, and that that rebirth by the sovereign operations of the Spirit of God, as sovereign as the wind blows in its circuit, would be based upon the death of our Lord Jesus as the One Who was lifted on Calvarys cross as the Son of man, the Lord from heaven, the Last Adam, the second man, the Life-giving Spirit, the Head of the new creation of God, the Life-giver. As those Israelites of old looked to the brazen serpent lifted on that standard by Moses, in Numbers 21, to escape the fatal issues of their situation, so must man look to the life-giving Christ and discover that there is life not for, but in a look at the crucified One. Man is the subject of a birth by water and the Spirit, by the mighty operations of the Spirit of God. As the Lord said, the kingdom of God is within you (Luke 17: 21); and we must experience what Paul said in Colossians 1 - we must be transported or translated out of the jurisdiction and the power and the authority of darkness, and into the kingdom of the Son of Gods love, and made meet to be made partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light.
This is the basic essential and it matters not whether it is the Old Testament in type and promise or the kingdom inaugurated by Christ, as He said, when He came as the suffering Messiah, The kingdom of God is come unto (or, come upon) you (Matthew 12: 28). It matters not whether it be in this present age, where the kingdom of God comes to manifestation and expression by those who are born again and translated into the kingdom of the Son of Gods love, who follow the laws of the king and honour His Word and dispense His ordinances, and are the companions of all them who keep His precepts diligently (that is how the kingdom comes into expression today); or whether it be millennial saints, born again and brought to Christ in the millennium. The basic essential is that it is God ruling and reigning and holding sovereignty by new birth [regeneration] in the hearts of His people.
Further, that will obtain in the
eternal kingdom, when the interregnum is finished, when the thousand year intermediate,
mediatorial kingdom of our Lord Jesus has run its course for those one thousand
years that we read about six times, three times with the article, the thousand years (Tregelles says in his text that
it is four times), to make it specific, it is an allotted portion of time. When that interregnum, intermediate,
mediatorial kingdom has served its purpose and run its course, the Son will
deliver the kingdom to the Father, that God, the Three
in One, the sacred Trinity, may be all in all.
And in Christs millennial kingdom - despite the charges that come
against us, whilst we believe that there will be outward blessing; whilst we
believe that the curse will be taken off creation and it will be released from
the thraldom and the bondage of corruption and futility and that there will be
widespread blessing in the natural realm, basic to it all will be the spiritual
quality of Christs millennial reign through His saints. So, this we repeat is the basic essential of
Destiny of the Church,
In Acts 15: 13-18, there is what we can call, in the parlance of today, a road map. It
is not another human road map to peace.
It is a divinely given one. James
the apostle at the council at
Functions of the
Now I do not suppose anybody would challenge that when the church of the firstborn is completed, when it is transfigured, by rapture or resurrection and we are in risen glory performing the functions of priesthood unto God and Christ for a thousand years, that that is spiritual. I would point out what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15, that we are the spiritual seed of the Last Adam, the Life-giving spirit, the Head of the new creation and that in resurrection. Paul states there the resurrection order is, Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christs at His coming (verse 23). And, to give us suitability and capacity to function as priests unto God and His Christ and to reign with Them for a thousand years and then for ever and ever, we are going to have glorified bodies. Paul says these bodies will be bodies of power and of glory, and they will be spiritual bodies, and they will also be immortal, and incorruptible, and imperishable. And it is in those bodies [of flesh and bones], as part of the integrity of our humanity, that we will be capacitated to minister as priests unto God and unto Christ for a thousand years.
I particularly want you to notice that we will have spiritual bodies. We speak of steam engines and petrol engines and diesel engines. We do not mean that they are made or formed of that; but that they are driven, or empowered, by steam, petrol, or diesel. And when we speak of a milk bottle, nobody, not even the youngest, thinks we mean a bottle made of milk. We mean a container suitable for containing milk. And that is what our bodies will be; vessels completely indwelt and empowered. When we begin to function in that risen glory when we are the transfigured church of the firstborn, when we need no more discipline, when we need no more wilderness intercession, no more temple, and no more commemorative ordinances, what we shall do perfectly is to function spiritually. However, those bodies of ours they will be substantially physical, like the Lord said, Handle Me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see Me have (Luke 24: 39). A spiritual body is a body which is adapted to the Spirit of God, actuated and empowered by the Spirit of God, as He will suffuse all of that risen state into which we shall be brought, for remember that glory is not a place. People speak as if it was. They say, he or she has gone to glory. But glory really is a state and in that state of glory we shall function as priests unto God and to His Christ for a thousand years.
I want you to look at what there
will be then for believers, the blessings that we shall receive and those
things in which we shall participate. We
read in Revelation 21 of that city, the heavenly
Thereafter, in verse 9, we have what we may call an appendix, or a glance back at the relations and the connections of the new Jerusalem and the Bride of the Lamb to the millennial earth, and the administration and the ministry of the risen saints towards the millennial earth. And in that wonderful time, as depicted in Revelation 21: 9 - 22: 6, we are going to have a divine energy. John sees the water of life springing out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. The sacrificial Lamb is brought onto the scene with that river of water of life, pure as crystal, which is, of course, a symbol (we believe in symbols and figurative language; but they convey specific truth; they are not poetic exaggeration). Here, as elsewhere, where we have the seven spirits of God, where the almighty power and the divine wisdom of the Spirit of God are depicted, we have His life-giving energies flowing from beneath a satisfied throne. And it is in the energy of the Spirit of God that we shall minister and reign with Christ in the thousand years, and then, of course, for ever and ever. That is why these bodies will be spiritual bodies; they will be adapted to, actuated by the Spirit of God. They will be empowered for the highest spiritual worship. So we see that there is this life-giving energy which will pervade the whole scene in that time of risen glory.
Then we see that there will [then] be perfect government for it is the throne of God and of the Lamb. There will be the highest spiritual service His servants shall serve Him (22: 3). That is a very interesting word. This word and its cognates are used in the Scripture, for instance, in Hebrews to show us what the divine service of the priests of the tabernacle was (8: 5). It is used for a person who has had the Blood of Christ applied to purge the conscience from dead works that such might serve the Living God (9: 14). It depicts those who have received a kingdom that cannot be moved and who seek grace to serve God with reverence and godly fear (12: 28). It is used of purged worshippers in Hebrews 10: 2 without any more conscience of sin, in the holiest of all, shut in with God, far above this restless world that wars below, seeking all His wisdom and His grace to know, and they are purged worshippers, purged and sanctified and perfected for ever (in perpetuity) by the hallowing efficacy of the Blood of Jesus. Thus it is, that in that coming day it will be the same, that same Blood will place us before God in total acceptance, accepted in the Beloved.
It is used elsewhere in the New Testament for the presentation of our bodies as a living sacrifice which is our intelligent and priestly service (Romans 12: 1). It is used of the presentation of our persons, of our praises, of our possessions and of serving God in the gospel of His Son in a spiritual manner, serving Him in the Spirit in the gospel of His Son, disseminating His light and truth in His glorious and blessed gospel of grace far and wide. And there will also be these spiritual exercises in that coming day. And these wonderful truths pertaining to the glorified saints of God, in full acceptance before God, now transfigured, translated and at home with God.
Also, there will be open vision for they shall see His face (Revelation 22: 4), like those Persian princes who had access to the kings presence and to the kings face (Esther 1: 14). And so shall we, without a cloud between, because we are accepted and perfected in perpetuity, for ever, in the person and work of our Lord Jesus gaze on the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
And then there will be an acquired glory as well as a manifested ownership for it says His Name will be in their foreheads (Revelation 22: 4). A name denotes person, or character, and although we try to now and fall short, in that day we shall fully express the name and the character of our Master, and His ownership of us will be manifested to wondering worlds. Many years ago, I asked Mr George Fromow when the unity will be manifest that our Lord Jesus prayed for in John 17 in the high priestly prayer. His answer was immediate. He said, In the New Jerusalem. The Lord in His wonderful prayer, said. The glory which Thou gavest Me I have given them (verse 22) - this is not godhead glory; this is His acquired glory, His earned glory as a man.
There was a godhead glory that pertained to our Lord Jesus in eternity past and He never left it: not even when He became incarnate. There was also moral glory when He walked this scene. He has gone now up to the Throne of God and as man He has an acquired glory. And He says, the glory which Thou gavest Me I have given them. He had prayed earlier for a vital oneness. He asked the Father that they may be one as We are (John 17: 11).
That is vital oneness. Then He prayed for the practical oneness. He said, that they also may be (made) one in us; that the world may believe (verse 21); the world looking on may see the unity and believe. But then He went further than that. In verses 22-23, He said, The glory which Thou gavest Me I have given them that they may be one (perfected into one). That is at the great consummation. That is in the New Jerusalem. That the world may know (that is, without gainsaying) that Thou hast sent Me.
Listen to this. What a word where everything is divine! He says, that
Thou hast sent Me, and hast loved them,
as Thou hast loved
Yes, we are taking the
prophecies literally; not slavishly literally, but taking them literally. We understand them in their grammatical,
historical sense, the only way that a rational being can really arrive at an
understanding. And there will be this
temporal deliverance for
John referred to this chapter in
Revelation 1: 7, Every
eye shall see Him, and they also which pierced Him, and all
the tribes in the land shall mourn because of Him, there shall be a great
Mr David Baron said that those words echo Numbers 19, where
the water of separation flowed over the ashes of the sacrificial heifer which
was given to atone for those who were defiled by death. So it will be in that day that the Spirit of
God will convey the saving virtues of the redemptive power of Calvarys cross
and will apply it to the brethren of Christ, and they will say, He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our
iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him, and with (by) His stripes we are healed
(Isaiah 53) - the passion song of
Israel. Then the idols shall be swept
from the land, and the traffickers from the house of Jehovah, and the very
meanest task will be weighed in the light of eternity, spiritual worship will
have returned to the land, and from the highest to the lowest, the very common
round and common task will be marked by spirituality, by the worship of the
Lord. There shall be one
Jehovah, and His Name shall be one, and He shall be King in all the earth
(Zechariah 14:9), and a pure worship will be
Now it is not otherwise in Ezekiel. We cannot read all the Scriptures involved although we like to give place to the Word of God, but I would recommend, especially to the younger people, the reading of Ezekiel 36 and 37.
In chapter 36 there is a wonderful work
done by God in restoring
In chapter 37 there
is another miracle. There is a national resurrection and they
are placed in their own land, and they have a new polity. The divided tribes are brought together as
one stick under their one Shepherd, their one King, their Prince, the second
David upon Whose head the crown shall flourish for
ever. And with all these spiritual
blessings and with the national resurrection, there will be a new national
polity and we read that the seed of the earth shall be productive, that the
earth and the meadow and the field and the tree, shall yield their increase,
and they shall be fruitful, and there will be vast and widespread outward
blessing hand in hand with these spiritual truths which we have been
expounding. So it will be a wonderful
Spiritual Blessings For All Nations in the Millennial Kingdom
Let us think of the saved nations. We read in Zephaniah that after God has judged the nations He will bless them. After He has disciplined them, He will save them, and He said, I will. It should be strictly plural in 3: 9, Then will I turn to the peoples a pure language, or, a pure lip, because it is not merely the vehicle, the language, that is in view. What is indicated is that God has cleansed the person, like Isaiah when he was in the midst of a people of unclean lips, that seraph flew with the living coal from off the altar of sacrifice, and he said, Lo, this has touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin is atoned for, thy sin purged. He was blessed, and he was sanctified, and his lips were cleansed and that is what will happen to the nations in a coming day when God saves them.
Why will the peoples be turned to a pure language? That they may all call upon Jehovah (call upon Him for salvation, call upon Him in worship, call upon Him in prayer), to serve Him (Jehovah) with one consent, literally in the Hebrew, with one shoulder. There will be unanimity of service, oneness of shoulder. In that coming day the nations will serve the Lord.
They will have a connection with
So it is that those nations will
have a connection with
He diffuses His light throughout
that glorious scene but, as ever in the Word of God, when you have the glory of
God and the light of God concentrated, it is the Lamb Who is the light
thereof. The glory of God is always concentrated in our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, He Who is the effulgence, the radiance of
Gods glory, the Light of the world, the Sun of righteousness, Who shall soon
arise with healing in His wings. So we
see that we have produced evidence that we have no carnal concept of the
We are not going to fall into the error of some which is the ancient heterodoxy of Gnosticism, which says that everything material is necessarily evil, for the Lord can deal with those things, and He can and will bring the whole of nature, and renovate it, and place it under the headship of the Lord Jesus. He can make the natural and the temporal and the outward the instrument for blessing with the spiritual that is at the back of it, for the good of all, and that God may be all in all.
* * *
Why Study Biblical Prophecy?
By Henry T Hudson (
Why study Biblical prophecy? Why not? A negative attitude is, more often than not, the result of either anti-supernaturalism, or a reaction to sensationalism which tends to run rough shod over those passages of Holy Scripture that are predictive in nature. On the other hand, a positive approach usually springs from curiosity, and from acknowledgement that prophecy forms a prominent part of Holy Scripture, and therefore must be profitable in coming to a fuller appreciation of the overall plan and purpose of God.
Paul reminded Timothy that, All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable (2 Timothy 3: 16). Peter, likewise, informed his readers that scriptural prophecy could be likened unto a light that shineth in a dark place, and that his readers would do well to pay attention to it. His words, Knowing this first make it clear that he was giving counsel which was of primary importance. He then went on to explain that the prophetic word did not originate of itself or by the will of man, but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. (2 Peter 1: 20-21). Hence, the prophetic word, of which he was speaking, was a more sure word, that is, it was more sure than any mans word, and more reliable than any human experience, and therefore was a word that should be heeded.
With this in mind, why would any Christian deliberately neglect biblical prophecy? Added to what was said above about sensationalism, there are at least four other basic reasons: (1) It uses a lot of symbolism, and related figurative language, (2) It frequently becomes an end in itself without any practical application, (3) It is sometimes assumed that the truths associated with the revelation of the mystery, which are delineated in the epistles of Paul, rule out the value of prophetic studies, and (4) It seems to produce a lot of controversy; especially among those who make it their business to study and speak about it. In other words, as far as this last point is concerned, if the experts and professionals cannot agree among themselves, what chance do rank and file Christians have?
Symbolism and Figurative Language?
As to the first point, suffice to say that figurative language is a valid means of communication, and can serve vividly to intensify meaning. Some cultures use it more than others, but it seems to be a part of every known language, and therefore, one might readily expect to find it in Holy Scripture.
Even English, a language which
tends to be prosaic, is not without its own peculiar repository of graphic
imagery. Often I have heard people
talking about smelling a rat, putting on the Ritz, hauling
Sometimes, when culture and context are ignored, the door is opened to all manner of distortion and sensationalism. Be this as it may, misuse of truth, should never be allowed to detract from the proper understanding and application of truth. Distortion is as old as the Father of lies (John 8: 44), but nevertheless, truth has survived, and is still discoverable by those who have the noble disposition of the Bereans, who received the Word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily. Such noble people, possessed the appropriate spiritual attitude of mind to hear and to believe (i.e. accept and act upon) what was confirmed through their searchings (Acts 17: 11, 12; Revelation 3: 11).
One oft-recurring illustration
of the misuse and abuse of the prophetic Scripture can be seen in the perennial
attempts to set dates for the return of the Lord Jesus Christ. This, in the face of the fact that the Lord
Jesus Christ said categorically, that, of that
day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven,
neither the Son, but the Father. (Mark. 13:
32). When the disciples
heard the post-resurrection teaching of the Lord Jesus concerning the
The twentieth century has had its share of date-setting predictions for the Second Coming of Christ. All kinds of Biblical scholars have brazenly published their assured findings. For example, Charles Taze Russell set the year 1914; Gratten Guinness picked 1930; and Bell Dawson, the year 1934 (The Millennial Hope, by S. J. Case). A recent attempt, which caused a great stir in evangelical circles, was made by a certain Edgar Whisenant. His little booklet was entitled, 88 Reasons why the Rapture Will Be in 1988. Some 2,000,000 copies were printed and distributed. Not only did Whisenant pick the year, but he also was bold enough to declare the exact date, namely, September 12th When the event did not take place he consequently apologised, and admitted that he had made a mistake in his reckoning by one year, and that it would really take place September 1st., 1989. Again he was wrong, but still he was not daunted, for in a booklet which was co-authored by Whisenant and Greg Brewer, entitled, Rapture Report - 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993 (published in 1989), there is yet another prediction, only this time somewhat more flexible, stating that, Jesus is coming and I would give it at least a 50% chance in 1989; if not then, an abundance of Scriptures point to 1992. However, if the birth of Christ is off one or two years, then it could be 1990 or 1991. There seems to be a lot more evidence for 89 and 92 than any other time for the Rapture. One cannot help but wonder if Whisenant and Brewer have learned anything from their attempted predictions, or if there is another report already at the printers.
No Practical Application?
The second point mentioned as a possible negative influence in causing Christians to neglect the study of the prophetic scriptures most likely arises from a misunderstanding of the basic nature of biblical prophecy. In other words, the problem is not in the Bible itself, but in some false assumptions about the purpose of prophecy. That the prophetic scriptures were intended to have practical application is obvious in a number of references, even beyond the two already cited (i.e. 2 Timothy 3: 16, 17; 2 Pet. 1: 19-21).
For example, there are the words of Peter, where, after having discussed the future coming of the day of the Lord, and some of the events related thereto, he made practical application no less than three times. Seeing then that all these things shall be. Seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of Him in peace, without spot, and blameless. Ye therefore, beloved, seeing that ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own steadfastness (2 Peter 3: 11, 14, 17).
Let me suggest two basic things to keep in mind when approaching any study of Biblical prophecy. The first concerns the meaning of the word prophet, and the second involves a formula which should help to promote balance with regard to interpretation, and application.
Most of the time, when English-speaking people use the word prophet, they are thinking of someone who claims to have the ability to predict the future. In the Greek language, the word prophetes was used to describe a person who spoke on behalf of someone else, which meaning, comes closer to the Biblical use of the word. When Moses objected to the LORD that he lacked eloquence, and hence could not be a spokesman unto the people, the LORD said unto him that Aaron, his brother, would be to him instead of a mouth, and thou shalt be to him instead of God (Exodus 4: 16). In other words, as Exodus 7: 1 makes clear, Aaron became the mouthpiece of Moses, and hence became his prophet. Therefore, in Biblical usage, as the parallel would indicate, a prophet is primarily a mouthpiece, or a spokesman for God, that is, he is someone who speaks, or who interprets the will of God. While fore-telling (i.e. predictions) could be involved, the emphasis needs to fall more on the forth telling (i.e. the telling forth) of a message which comes from God.
With this in mind, the student of Biblical prophecy should study every prophecy looking for at least three things: (1) A Primary Association, (2) A Prophetic Anticipation, and (3) A Practical Application. This formula, when apprehended, will go a long way toward making interpretation easier, and will help make application more intelligent. The idea behind Primary Association involves the thought that the prophecies of Holy Scripture should be viewed in relation to their historico-grammatical contexts. In other words, they did have some practical significance for those who first heard them.
In this connection, a few words are in order concerning the phenomena sometimes referred to as the foreshortening of prophetic horizons, when in actual reality there are prolonged gaps, or intervals between prediction and fulfilment. The phenomenon is not unlike the function of a telescope which takes an object on the distant horizon, and brings it into closer purview. For those who might be at a loss to comprehend what exactly this phenomenon involves, a few references could be of some help - Genesis 3: 15; Isaiah 7:14; 9: 6; 61:1, 2; Luke 4: 18,19; 1 Peter 1: 10, 11.
A number of years ago, I ran across the word apotelesmatie. Etymologically, it comes from two Greek words, apo, a preposition which carries the connotation away from, and telos, which signifies end, fulfilment, or completion. In other words, certain Biblical prophecies, while they deal particularly with the end times, or the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the establishment of His [millennial and eternal] Kingdom[s], can nevertheless, have practical bearings on those who first heard them, and on those in subsequent generations who study them. Such is the very nature of biblical prophecy, for like a telescope, it brings that which may be distant into closer perspective, and thus makes possible, profitable and practical application.
Revelation of the Mystery?
The third impediment sometimes hindering a constructive study of prophetic scripture comes from a bent of mind which is regulated by a premise that acts as a sort of master-key to the understanding of all Holy Scripture. In short, the premise holds that the revelation of the mystery, given to the apostle Paul, is of such a nature that it excludes prophecy. In fact, the distinction between the two (i.e. between prophecy and mystery), as is stated in C. R. Starns book (page 47), Things that Differ, is seen as being the most important division in the Bible! The two become, in the words of S. Craig MacDonald, mutually exclusive. (Understanding Your Bible, page 54).
If the premise be true (i.e. that prophecy excludes mystery, and mystery excludes prophecy), then it is not difficult to understand how deductive reasoning could conclude that the prophetic passages of Holy Scripture, which speak particularly of Israel, and a coming Messiah, have little or nothing to do with Gentile Christians, and why there would then be a consequent degree of neglect of interest in the study of the prophetic scriptures. Let Pauls words to Timothy serve as a warning signal to anyone who might unquestionably accept the aforementioned premise, and who consequently might disparage any serious study of the prophetic scriptures. Paul declared categorically (and it can hardly be doubted that he had the Old Testament scriptures in mind), that All scripture (i.e. every separate portion forms a part of the whole) is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable (2 Timothy 3:16).
The fourth negative influence, as far as discouraging Christians in their attempts to study and understand the prophetic scriptures, springs from the extensive controversy that seems to plague the subject. Of course, it might be exclaimed, So, what else is new? Does not all biblical doctrine elicit some degree of controversy? While there might be an element of truth here, the fact remains that there does seem to be a disproportionate degree of controversy related to the doctrines associated with prophecy.
Since I myself have experienced destructive backwash from controversy over prophecy, I can sympathise with those who have problems in this regard. However, be this as it may, controversy or not, 2 Timothy 3: 16-17, and 2 Peter 1: 15-21 can hardly be ignored. Moreover, if I am to take heed to the word of prophecy, then I must know the word of prophecy. At the same time, I must remind myself that I need to make a qualitative distinction between the word of God, and the word of men. (1 Thessalonians 2: 13). Here, once again, is where genuine Bereanism enters the scene. True, I cannot escape the use of my reasoning powers, but they must be submissive to the authority of Holy Scripture. I must receive the word with all readiness of mind, and I must search the scriptures daily, whether those things, which I hear are really so. Regardless, of any controversy, I must continuously be guided by one foundational question: WHAT SAITH THE SCRIPTURES?
* * *
The First Resurrection
By Horatius Bonar
Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death bath no power, but they shall be priests of God and Of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years (Revelation 20: 6).
Resurrection, not death, is our
hope. It has always been
the Churchs hope, - the hope of patriarchs and kings and prophets. Martha only uttered the confession of the
Church universal when she said, I know
that he shall rise again.
It is not the putting off this vile body (or this body of our humiliation), but the putting on of the immortal and incorruptible that is our hope; not our going to Christ, but His coming to us; not merely our victory over sin and its spiritual consequences, but victory over death and the grave. This hope grew brighter as the ages went on, till it was fully revealed in Him Who is the resurrection and the life. But still more was needed; and it was reserved for Paul and John fully to unfold the hope.
This twentieth chapter of the Revelation is a very wonderful one, and specially valuable as giving us details of the resurrection-hope.
An angel is seen descending out of heaven; he has the key of the bottomless pit, or abyss, and a great chain in his hand. He seizes the dragon, the old serpent (the murderer and liar from the beginning, John 8: 44), who is the devil, and Satan; binds him for a thousand years; casts him into the abyss; shuts him up; sets a seal above upon him, to hinder his escaping and deceiving the nations for a thousand years. Then thrones are set up (Daniel 7: 9); and there are sitters upon then, to whom judgment is given (1 Corinthians 6: 2); the souls (Acts 2: 41; 7: 14) of the martyrs and the non-worshippers of the beast are made to live again; and being thus raised, they reign with Christ (chapter 5: 10). But the rest of the dead are not raised till the end of the thousand years. This is the first resurrection.
It gets the designation of first, not because of its pre-eminence and glory, but because it is before another. Properly speaking, the great resurrection-fact is but one, - all that are in their graves shall arise; but it divides itself into two parts or acts, separated from each other by a considerable interval, - an interval (like that between the Lords two comings) not at first revealed. But here the interval is explicitly announced, - a thousand years. The righteous rise to glory at the beginning of that period, and during it they live and reign with Christ. At its close, the wicked rise, and are judged. This resurrection of the wicked at the close of the thousand years, sets aside the doctrine of annihilation entirely. They do not rise in order to be annihilated. They do not get new bodies merely in order to have these new bodies destroyed.
[* NOTE. Always keep in mind the fact that in scripture, the word wicked is sometimes used to describe some of the Lords redeemed people!]
When Is It To Be?
It is when the Lord comes the second time. In the preceding chapter He is described as coming with the hosts of heaven for the destruction of His enemies (see also 1 Corinthians 15: 23; 1 Thessalonians 4: 16; 2 Thessalonians 2: 1). He comes as the Resurrection and the Life; the Abolisher of death, the Spoiler of the grave, the Raiser of His saints.
Of Whom It Is To Consist
This passage speaks only of the martyrs and the non-worshippers of the beast; but other passages show that all His saints are to be partakers of this reward. This honour have all His saints; all who have followed Christ, or suffered for Him, from Abel downwards. They have suffered with Him here, and they shall reign with Him here.* They have fought the good fight; they have overcome the world, and the god of this world. The conflict and the tribulation have been sore, but the recompense is glorious. Oneness with Christ now secures for us the glory of that day.
What It Does For Those Who Share It
It brings to those who share it such things as the following:
1. Blessedness. Peculiar blessedness is to be theirs. God only knoweth how much that word implies, as spoken by Him Who cannot lie, Who exaggerates nothing, and Whose simplest words are His greatest.
2. Holiness. They are pre-eminently the saints of God; set apart for Him; consecrated and purified, both outwardly and inwardly; dwelt in by Him Whose name is the Holy Ghost; and called to special service in virtue of their consecration. Priestly-royal service is to be theirs throughout the [millennium and] eternal ages.
3. Preservation from the second death. They rise to an immortality which shall never be recalled. No dying again, in any sense of the word; not a fragment of mortality about them, nothing of this vile body, and nothing of that corruption or darkness or anguish which shall be the portion of those who rise at the close of the thousand years. Neither can they die any more (Luke 20: 36). They shall not be hurt of the second death (Revelation 2: 11), but shall feed upon the tree of life. Their connection with death, in every sense, is done for ever.
4. The possession of a heavenly priesthood. They are made priests
unto God and Christ - both to the Father and the Son. Priestly nearness and access; priestly power
and honour and service; priestly glory and dignity; - this is their
recompense. They, with their glorified
and reigning Head, form the link between creation above and creation below,
between the Creator and the creature, carrying up the incense of prayer and
praise and service from all parts of a holy universe, now linked to Godhead for
ever, beyond the possibility of fall.
They maintain the communication between God and His world, between
Paradise gained and the
5. The possession of the kingdom. They shall reign for a thousand years over a renewed earth, where there are traces still of the fall, and on which Satan is for a brief season to be let loose; and they shall reign for ever and ever over a world thoroughly restored and purified, into which Satan shall never again find entrance. They are kings as well as priests, both in one; Gods Melchizedeks, wearing the priestly mitre, and wielding the royal sceptre. Having their home and place; and throne in the new Jerusalem, they rule over a delivered creation, over the converted nations, over a world now filled with the Holy Spirit in all its nations.
Such are our [overcomers] prospects; let us live accordingly. Let [the hope of] our coming honours influence us now; making us self-denied, consistent, heavenly; quickening us to zeal and love.
(Dr Bonar wrote a series of books entitled Light and Truth; or, Bible Thoughts and Themes. The series includes The Old Testament, The Gospels, The Acts and Epistles, The Lesser Epistles, and The Revelation. The above article is taken from the last mentioned book, which was published in 1872).
* * *
By Mrs M A Chaplin
(This poem is taken from a collection of poems in a book entitled Chimes for the Times. It was written in the last century, the book having been published in 1891. These are not the only verses written by Mrs Chaplin on this particular subject. Being over 100 years old, and written a long while before the State of Israel was set up in 1948, and even before 1917, it reminds us that those who, like Mrs Chaplin, understand that God means what He has said concerning the Jewish people, can always be confident that God will fulfil His Word ‑ Ed.).
Queen of the cities of earth, oh when
Shall thy glory gladden the eyes of men?
All Kings, all peoples look with pain
To see thee desolate remain.
The heathen adore who were wont to deride thee;
Thy beautiful garments are lying beside thee;
Fling them about thee. Rise from the dust;
God, thy Redeemer, is mighty and true.
Soon shall thy children with penitence view
Him Whom they pierced on yon fair hill,
Despised - yet the Messiah still.
And their keen self-reproach shall break forth into sighing,
(Like the wail of the East when the firstborn is dying;
Like home-yearning exiles, heart broken and sore),
They shall kneel to the King they have learned to adore.
Sad is the spell which has held for so long
The children of that land of song.
It suited not their native pride
That the King of the Jews should be crucified.
But to call them forsaken of God is a libel,
The Jew shall return to the land of the Bible.
And a crucified God be the souls only stay
Beautiful land! Our eyes would see
The glory yet in reserve for thee.
The Gentile world will rejoice to share.
In the rivers of blessing rising there.
The hearts cased with pride as with stone shall be broken,
And only the language of penitence spoken;
Shall be crowned by all nations the Queen of the earth.
* * *
The Reasons for Our Belief in the Literal
Reign of Christ over the Existent Earth
By James Payne
(This message was given at a Conference of the Sovereign Grace Advent Testimony held in Highgate Road Chapel, London, in April, 1947).
The reasons for our belief must be based upon the Word of God. What God has said we rest upon by faith, and faith is the foundation of our hope, so that in giving the reasons for our hope, we must always come back to the Word of God to ascertain what God has said concerning the matter. I want to call your attention first of all to some direct scriptural statements concerning the literal reign of our Lord over this present earth. Then I want also to give some reasons for our belief, based upon scriptural inferences.
Direct Scriptural Statements of the
Fact of Christs Literal Reign over the Earth
The Scripture teems with expressions concerning His reign, but some of our opponents may say that many of these references are not to be understood literally. The right way to understand the Word of God is to understand it in its literal sense unless there is something in the context to show that it is obviously to be taken in a symbolic sense. I want to draw your attention to passages of Scripture concerning this subject which cannot be understood other than in a literal sense, and those passages are the basis of the reason of our hope in the literal reign of Christ over this earth.
Zechariah (chapters 12-14) is an Outstanding Example
I want to bring you first of all
to the prophecy of Zechariah 14: 4. The prophet is speaking of the coming of our
Lord. He refers to Him here under the
title of Jehovah. In the third verse he
says, Then shall Jehovah go forth, and
fight against those nations, as when He fought in the day of battle. This is when He appears for
Now he does not simply say the
Lord is going to appear on the mount of Olives. If that were so it might have been assumed
that He would appear in a representative way, in the way in which He appeared
in the Shekinah glory between the cherubim on the ark of the
covenant. The literal coming of
the Lord is emphasised in the expression that His
feet shall stand in that day upon the
When He went up from His
disciples, the two angels which stood by said, Ye men of
In verse 16, And it shall come to pass, that
every one that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall
even go up from year to year to worship the King - the
great King over all the earth the LORD of hosts, and to keep the feast of
tabernacles. The prophet goes on to
say that in
Plain Utterances of the Psalter
Now, keeping that passage in
mind, let us turn to one or two of the psalms, which emphasise the same truth. In Psalm 2, David is speaking concerning the Lord Jesus
Christ, and he says, in verse 6, Yet have I set My King upon My holy hill of Zion,* or, as the margin has it, I have set My King upon Zion, the hill of My holiness. That is where Jesus will reign; and then Jehovah
says to Him, Ask of Me, and I
shall give Thee the heathen for Thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of
the earth for Thy possession. Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; Thou
shalt dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel. Here is the King on
[* NOTE. On the
Sunday morning - August 4, 2013 - I heard the minister of a Presbyterian Church
say: Mount Zion EQUALS Heaven! Of course this spiritual interpretation from one
of the psalms can only come from someone who doesnt believe in a
Now let us run on from Psalm 2 to Psalm 47. It is a song of joy and triumph. O clap your hands, all ye people; shout unto God with the voice of triumph. For the LORD Most High is terrible; He is a great King over all the earth. I need not remind you that Jesus is Jehovah. There are many passages in the Old and New Testaments which would prove that conclusively, but I cannot go into that now. He is a great King, says the psalmist, Sing praises, for God (for Jesus) is the King of all the earth; sing ye praises with understanding. God reigneth over the heathen. He has asked for them for His inheritance and He has been given them. God (Jesus) reigneth over the heathen: God sitteth upon the throne of His holiness, where everything will be, as we have seen, holiness unto the Lord.
Then in the following psalm, which is speaking of
Then, if we pass on again to Psalm 72, the psalmist begins: Give
the king Thy judgments, O God, and Thy righteousness unto the kings son.
He looks forward very clearly to the
coming of the Lord Jesus, and in verse 8 he
says, He shall have dominion also from sea
to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth. They that dwell in the
wilderness shall bow before Him; and His enemies shall lick the dust. The kings of Tarshish and of the isles shall
bring presents: the kings of
The Temple of Ezekiels Vision
I want now to lead you along a
somewhat similar line of thought from a few other passages of Scripture. In the prophecy of Ezekiel, in the last
chapters where Ezekiel describes that wonderful temple which is yet to be built
in Jerusalem, in vision Ezekiel stood at the door of the temple, and he saw the
glory of the Lord enter in and fill the temple, and out from the temple there
came a voice speaking thus: Son of man, the place of My throne, and the place of the soles of My feet (here again the literality of it is
emphasised by the
soles of My feet) where I will dwell in the midst of the children of
Israel for ever ... (43: 7). There, in the holy of holies of
that restored temple, is Jehovahs throne.
When our Lord Jesus Christ was born of the virgin in
Come back to the prophecy of
Zechariah, and in chapter 6 he speaks again of this
glorious king (verses 12-13): And speak unto him (that
is, Joshua, the high priest), saying, Thus speaketh the LORD
of hosts, saying, Behold the Man Whose Name is The BRANCH. The Man Whose Name
is The BRANCH is clearly our Lord
Jesus Christ. And He shall grow up out of His place, and He shall build the
temple of the LORD; even He shall
build the temple of the LORD; and He
shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon His throne: and He shall be a
priest upon His throne: and the counsel of peace shall be between them both. That is between the kingship and the
priesthood, which will both centre in the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. He, then, is to sit and rule as a priest upon
His throne, the throne which
He Himself shall establish in
The Prophecy of Micah (chapter 4)
The prophet begins with that wonderful prophecy of the days of peace. But in the last days it shall come to pass, that the mountain of the house of the LORD shall be established in the top of the mountains, and it shall be exalted above the hills; and people shall flow unto it. And Isaiah enlarges on it and says, They shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more (2: 4).
Micah goes on, in verse 7, And I will make her that halted a
remnant, and her that was cast far off a strong nation; and the LORD shall reign over them in Mount Zion from
henceforth, even for ever. And thou, 0
tower of the flock, the strong hold of the daughter of
David and His Seed
And now another similar line of thought. It is recorded in 2 Samuel 23: 3 that when David went into his house to muse upon God and His goodness, he said, He that ruleth over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God. And he shall be as the light of the morning, when the sun riseth, even a morning without clouds; as the tender grass springing out of the earth by clear shining after rain. He looks forward to One Who shall rule in justice, but he mourns over his own rule when he says, My house is not so with God. He knew he had not exercised absolute righteousness and justice in his kingdom, but he says, Although my house be not so with God; yet He hath made with me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things, and sure.
Gods covenant with David was that his seed should rule with that justice and righteousness which David himself had failed to exercise; and Isaiah says concerning Israel, Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon His shoulder: and His Name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this (9: 6-7). What David could not do, God has ordained that his seed upon his throne shall do.
Then, if we turn over again from that chapter to chapter 11 of that prophecy, And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots: and the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon Him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD: and shall make Him of quick understanding in the fear of the LORD; and He shall not judge after the sight of His eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of His ears: but with righteousness shall He judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth. The word reprove in the margin is argue. The Lord, when He was here said, Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth (Matthew 5: 5), and the time is coming when He is going to argue before all kingdoms and nations for the meek of the earth, to give them the blessing He pronounced upon them in the days of His rejection.
How will He do it? He shall
smite the earth with the rod of His mouth, and with the breath of His lips
shall He slay the wicked (the Wicked One) (Isaiah 11: 4). Those who have risen up against the meek will
be slain with the breath of His mouth while He argues with equity for the meek
of the earth. We see the nature of the
kingdom in that chapter. The animal
kingdom shall be placid and peaceful, the lion shall
lie down with the lamb. In the following
chapter, Isaiah goes on, And
in that day thou shalt say, O LORD, I will praise Thee: though Thou wast angry
with me, Thine anger is turned away, and Thou comfortedst me. And in the last verse, Cry
out and shout, thou inhabitant of
So much for the direct scriptural utterances concerning the literal reign of our Lord Jesus Christ upon [this] earth.
Some Forceful Inferences from Scripture
In the gospel by Luke, the Lord Jesus Christ said that if any are ashamed of Him in this sinful and adulterous generation, of him shall the Son of Man be ashamed when He shall come in all His glory, and in the glory of the Father, and in the glory of all the holy angels (9: 26). That is how He is coming, and if He is coming in all the glory of heaven, surely it will be to exercise His supremacy and to put down all rule and all authority that is in opposition to Him.
In the prophecy of Micah, to which we have already had
occasion to refer, in chapter 5 we have that well-known passage, But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the
thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall He come forth unto Me that is to be ruler in Israel; Whose
goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting. That passage is quoted as having been
fulfilled, or at least commenced to be fulfilled, at the birth of our Lord
Jesus Christ, for He was born King of the Jews. That was literally true. He was sole heir to the throne of
Zechariah, long years ago, predicted, Thy
King cometh unto thee; He is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon
an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass. This was literally fulfilled when He rode
You will remember what our Lord
Jesus Christ said when he was brought before Pilate, Pilate asked Him, Art Thou the King of the Jews? Our Lords reply was, Thou sayest (Matthew 27:
11), simply meaning, What you say is the
truth. We use a similar
expression today when someone says something with which we agree. We say, You have
said it! We mean we agree
perfectly with what has been said, and that is the meaning of our Lords words. He acknowledged that what Pilate had said was
true; He was the King of the Jews. And
what happened when He had acknowledged that, and
Pilate handed Him over to the soldiers to be crucified? They took Him and put a crown of thorns on
His head, and put a purple robe on Him and a reed in His hand and bowed the
knee before Him, mocking Him and saying, Hail,
King of the Jews. And then
they hung Him upon a cross, and the soldiers who did it said, If Thou be the King of the Jews, save Thyself. Likewise
the chief priests said If He be the King of
Satan had used that if before.
He used it to our Lord in the wilderness when there had come a voice
from heaven saying, This is My Beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased. Satan said, If Thou be
the Son of God... but Paul says, He is declared
to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the
resurrection [out] from the dead (Romans 1: 4). Satans challenge is answered by the
from the dead. Is this mockery of men concerning
His claim to be the King of the Jews - is this challenge of Satan at the cross
- to go for ever unanswered? God
forbid! The same God Who
answered the challenge of Satan in the wilderness will answer the challenge of
Satan upon the cross. Our Saviour was
declared to be the Son of God with power by His resurrection, and will be declared to be the King of
The Saviour of the World
Just one more thought. Our Lord Jesus Christ created this
world. He was in the world and the world
was made by Him. The world, the Kosmos, was made by Him, and the world knew Him not (John 1: 10). Again, it is said that when He separated the
sons of Adam, when He drove asunder the nations, He fixed their bounds according
to the number of the children of
Is Jesus Christ never to come and assert His rightful claim, to wrest this world out of the hands of the usurper? How can He be the Saviour of it unless He comes to the earth to take His great power and reign? The nations then will no longer be deceived by Satan. Antichrist will be cast into the lake of fire, and the kingdoms of this world will [then] become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ (Revelation 11: 15). When John speaks of this in the Revelation he says, This is the first resurrection (20: 5). When the dead in Christ shall rise at His coming, it is then that the Lord is to be manifest as King of kings, and Lord of lords, when He is to take the government upon His shoulder, and reign with justice and judgment. He shall reign for ever and ever. HALLELUIA!
(Mr Payne, in this message, referred to the
* * *
By JAMES STALKER, D.D.
It is no good sign of the times that
controversy should be looked down upon. In the records of the life of Jesus we have pages upon pages of
controversy. It may have been
far from the work in which He delighted most to be engaged; but He had to undertake it all through His life, and especially towards the
close. The most eminent of
His servants in every age have had to do the same.
The spirit of the true controversialist is the joyful and certain sense of possessing the truth, and the conviction of its value to all men, which makes error hateful and inspires the determination to sweep it away. It was as the King of Truth (John 18: 37) that Christ carried on controversy, and He was borne along by the generous passion to cut His fellowmen out from their imprisonment in the labyrinth of error. Excessive aversion to controversy may be an indication that a Church has no keen sense of possessing truth which is of any great worth, and that it has lost appreciation for the infinite difference in value between truth and error.
There are differences, indeed,
in the present feeling of the public mind to different kinds of
controversy. One of the tasks of
controversy is to combat error outside of the Church. Christianity is incessantly assailed by forms
of unbelief which arise one after another and have their day. At one time it is Deism which requires to be
refuted, at another Pantheism, another
Materialism. To defend the
It is controversy within the Church which excites alarm and aversion. Yet the controversy which our Lord waged was inside the Church; and so has that been carried on by the most eminent of His followers. It would, indeed, be well if the sound of controversial weapons were never heard in the temple of peace; but only on condition that it is also a temple of truth.
In the time of Christ the Church was the stronghold of error; and not once or twice since then it has been the same. Jesus had to assail nearly the whole ecclesiastical system of His time and a large body of the Churchs doctrines. To do so must, to a thoughtful mind, in any circumstances be an extremely painful task; for the faith reposed in their spiritual guides by the mass of men who have little leisure or ability to think out vast subjects to the bottom, is one of the most sacred pillars of the edifice of human life, and nothing can be more criminal than wantonly to shake it. But it sometimes needs to be shaken, and Jesus did so.
Of course the opposite case may easily occur; the Church may have the truth, and the innovator may be in error. Then the true place of the Christian controversialist is on the side of the Church against him who is trying to mislead her. This also is a delicate task, requiring the utmost Christian wisdom and sometimes likely to be repaid with little thanks; for, while he who defends the Church against error coming from THE OUTSIDE is loaded with honours as a saviour of the faith, he who attempts to preserve her from more menacing danger WITHIN may be dismissed with the odious and withering title of heresy-hunter.
* * *
PHASES OF CRUCIFIXION
By W. P. CLARK
In the Epistle to the Galatians five phases of crucifixion occur. The first in order of date is found in chapter 3. verse 1:- Jesus Christ openly set forth crucified. The most amazing spectacle the world has ever witnessed! The incarnate Son of God hanging on a gibbet for the sins of a lost world! When I survey the wondrous Cross on which the Prince of Glory died, I count my richest gain but loss and pour contempt on all my pride.
The second phase occurs in the preceding chapter, verse 20:- Crucified with Christ. The [regenerate] believer is judicially reckoned so, and the resultant effect is a life of faith in the One Who loved me and gave Himself for me. Wondrous love. Our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away, that so we should no longer be in bondage to sin (Rom. 6: 6).
This is Gods side of our crucifixion: our side of it (the third phase) is set out in chapter 5. verse 24:- They that are of Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts thereof: it is self-crucifixion. The lusts of the flesh are enumerated in the preceding verses, 19-21, the deadly result of the practice of which excludes from the [Millennial] Kingdom of God. What the affections of the flesh are is more difficult of definition. May we say, anything and all things which, though possibly right in themselves, hinder us in the race set before us, and may, therefore, forfeit to us the Prize.
Two illustrations in real life
may be helpful. An old gentleman of over
70 years of age, completely blind, whose pipe was his solace in hours of
loneliness, deliberately put it away after years of use, because, as he said,
he found it hindered him in prayer. The
second illustration is that of two girls who were the
champion players of lawn tennis in the
surrender, a presentation of our bodies as living sacrifices, holy, acceptable
to God is enjoined on the Christian believer; but crucifixion must precede surrender. The Holy Spirit cannot fall on
un-crucified flesh. In the
cleansing from leprosy - Gods own type of sin, in the Book of Leviticus - the oil
- a type of the Holy Spirit - might only be placed on those parts of the
lepers body on which the blood had first been put. A missionary in
The fourth and fifth phases of Crucifixion are - crucified unto the world, and the world crucified to the believer; and they form part of the concluding portion of the Epistle, chapter 6, verse 14. By the world, of course, is meant the aims, principles, spirit and society of the world, and our crucifixion thereto, not from any pharisaic conceit of our moral superiority, but for our safety and usefulness and for the honour of God. It has been somewhat humorously said that the world is the Devil external; the flesh the Devil internal; and the Devil himself, the Devil infernal. Certain it is that the world, the flesh and the Devil will combine to drag us down, and trail our Christian profession in the dust if given way to. Many Christians profess to go into the world to win worldlings to Christ, but do they ever succeed in doing so? It is easier far, as in the physical realm, to be dragged down than to lift others up in any such attempt. The Greek in the text implies not only that the world has been crucified, but remains a crucified thing. Henceforth, we are dead each to the other (Lightfoot). Let self be crucified and slain, and buried deep, and all in vain may efforts be to rise again.
Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast
Save in the Cross of Christ my God;
All the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to his Blood.
* * *
THE FIRST RESURRECTION
By G. H. LANG
Devout Jews of the time of our Lord looked for a general resurrection - in the last day (John 11: 24). Christ had confirmed this belief, declaring Himself to be the One who would effect this resurrection (John 6: 39, 40, 44). But neither the Old Testament nor Himself had as yet taught clearly that some would rise earlier than that general resurrection, though we now see this to have been involved in Daniel 12: 2 and John 5: 28, 29.
But at the very close of His public ministry (Luke 20: 34, 35), the Lord said that the sons of this age marry and are given in marriage; but they that are accounted worthy to attain to that age, and the resurrection which is from among the dead, neither marry nor are given in marriage, etc. As the provisions of an Act of Parliament must be read in the light of its preamble, so must all subsequent teaching upon the First Resurrection be construed consistently with this primary statement.
That age to follow this age cannot be eternity, for that will not be one age but ages of ages. It is the age, of the thousand years of Revelation 20., the era of the [millennial] reign of Christ. Only those who are raised from the dead at the First Resurrection can share that era and reign with the Lord. The rest who have died will remain [in Hades the place of the dead] until the second Resurrection at the close of that era (Rev. 20: 5). No dead persons are yet, or could be, in the glory of the heavenly world.
Only by resurrection or translation can that be reached (1 Cor. 15: 50-55, cannot must; 1 Thess. 4: 17, so, not otherwise).
In the words quoted, the Lord stated unequivocally that sharing in the First Resurrection is a matter of being accounted worthy and of attaining. These terms standing together are the antithesis of being accounted worthy in disregard of attainment.
When Paul wrote to the Philippians, and referred to the same event, he quoted those words of Christ, speaking of the resurrection which is out from among the dead (3: 11). If the prefix exanastasis has any special force, it can only strengthen the idea of a select resurrection; and so Lightfoot, but see Ellicotts note.) And the Holy Spirit through Paul strongly emphasizes the thought that this resurrection must be won, by the words if by any means I may attain unto (or arrive at) the resurrection, etc.
On this if by any means Ellicott says: The idea of an attempt is conveyed, which may or may not be successful. Lightfoot remarks: The Apostle states not a positive assurance but a modest hope. Alford says of the expression: It is used when an end is proposed, but failure is presumed to be possible. The New Testament itself puts the force of Pauls words beyond doubt by using the exact expression in a historical narrative where the sense is unmistakable (Acts 27: 12): The more part advised to put to sea thence, if by any means they could reach Phoenix, which we know they did not reach.
The attempt to make these words
mean that Paul, now nearing the end
of his long and wonderful career, was still only endeavouring to reach that
moral union with Christ of which long before he had written to the Romans (ch. 6.) is unworthy of his sanctified
life, for without having already known that union, he could not possibly have
lived as he had done. Moreover, it is
not sound practical theology. Freedom
from enslavement to sin is to be gained only by an act of faith, by which the believer accepts once for
which God says took place in the past at the Cross: your old man was crucified;
whereas Paul is speaking of a goal to be reached in the future by a course
of practical fellowship with
Christ in His sufferings, by which means the believer becomes more and more
outwardly conformed to the death of his Lord.
The present participle (summorphizomenos, becoming conformed),
carries clearly this progressive sense.
Moreover, only one already by faith in the moral power of Christs
resurrection is able to endure a perpetual sharing of His sufferings. Romans 6. must be
first an experience before Phil. 3. can begin to be known experimentally. Any reference here
to a merely ethical resurrection is wholly out of the question, says Ellicott, when referring the passage to
the First Resurrection. The application
of this passage to the resurrection of the body has ample support. It was the view of Alford, Lightfoot, Ellicott, Bengel, Wordsworth,
Thus the goal, to reach which Paul was straining every fibre, was the out-resurrection. Hence for the Thessalonians he prayed that our God would count you worthy of your calling: that is, not to salvation from hell, but ye should walk worthily of God who calleth you into His own kingdom and glory (1 Thess. 2: 11, 12; 2 Thess. 2: 12). If this calling is assured to every one justified in Christ, solely on the ground of His righteousness imputed to the believer, why should Paul need to pray that God would count them worthy, for in that case they were already worthy? Our prayers add nothing to the justification of fellow-believers, but they do help them to walk godly and worthily, and so to attain to the recompense of thus living.
The possibility of missing the First Resurrection, and therefore of reigning in the [Millennial] Kingdom, explains a staple of Pauls ministry, that believers may be disinherited (1 Cor. 6: 9, 10; Gal. 5: 21 ; Eph. 5: 5). Inheriting a kingdom means sovereignty in it. Thou art come to the kingdom was said of a queen (Esth. 4: 14). The ordinary subjects of a monarch are not heirs of his kingdom. That is the right of the firstborn son; and we are warned by the case of Esau not to forfeit our rights as the firstborn (Heb. 12: 16, 17). Esau was Isaacs legitimate son and heir; he did not lose his sonship or his life through his sin, but he lost his priority as the firstborn to inherit the rule of the clan, with the accompanying dignities of being its priest to lead its worship, and of the double portion of the inheritance (Comp. Rev. 1: 6). Moreover, there is no such middle ground as that all believers rise but only some reign, for all who then rise reign (Rev. 20: 4, 6); therefore, those not worthy to reign do not rise.
The view also gives clear sense to the teaching that the sabbath rest of God must be reached by diligence and may be missed (Heb. 4,); for Gods eternal rest (which all the saved must share at last or they would not be saved) is not a sabbath rest, because the latter is rest after labour. On this rest being future see Alford, Delitzsch, and especially William Kelly (Hebrews, pp. 65-74). It is the millennial rest as in Zeph. 3: 17: He will rest in His love.
Thus it becomes simple that redeemed
Israelites not reaching their inheritance is solemnly and repeatedly urged as a
warning upon Christians, some of whom had given remarkable proofs of their
faith (Heb. 10: 32, et seq.). That Hebrews is
Jewish is negatived by the application of
the same history and argument and warning to the believers at
Not one redeemed Israelite ever got back to his former place or state prior to the sprinkling of the blood in Egypt and his baptism in the sea; but many did not get on to their inheritance. Their title to the land came by grace through Abraham; their possession, however, depended upon efforts of faith which they refused to make. Calvinism is right in its assertion that no saved person can ever become unsaved, but wrong in attaching the same security to post-conversion privileges. Arminianism is wrong in applying uncertainty to final [eternal] salvation instead of to post-conversion possibilities only.
If the last chapters of the Book of God be approached along this line, it will be found simple and consistent that it is said that blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection (Rev. 20: 6). The statement And I saw thrones and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them is readily explained by the law of former reference. Those who should conquer in the wars of faith, had been before assured that they should sit down with Christ on His throne and rule the nations (Rev. 3: 21; 2: 26, 27). Still earlier the Lord had given a similar promise to the Apostles in connection with their fidelity to Himself under severe trials (Luke 22: 28-30); and later it was declared that the saints should judge the world and angels (1 Cor. 6: 2, 3). It is the amplification of Daniel 7: 18, 22, 27.
The bride who shall share her sovereigns throne and glory must array
herself suitably. It is her royal husbands bounty that makes
this possible, so it is all of His grace: nevertheless every bride makes up her
own trousseau and herself puts it on (see Esth. 2). The fine linen
(of the queen) is the righteous acts of the saints (Rev. 19: 7, 8): it is not that imputed
righteousness in which all saved persons share equally through faith
apart from works. In one New Testament passage at
least (Rev. 19: 8) dikaiomata appears to mean a righteous act or course of acts (Moule, Camb.
The bridal glory of the queen pictures the highest position and glory that any subject of the crown can possibly reach. If that is absolutely secure to every believer utterly irrespective of conduct, as I have heard asserted, then nothing can be lost, for as the greater includes the less, the greatest includes everything. This nullifies entirely the whole doctrine of rewards and prizes, and the theory which does this is self-condemned as not scriptural.
But it has been generally taught that, whereas eternal life is a free gift (Rom. 6: 23), i.e., free of conditions, as well as of purchase-price, rewards in the Kingdom may be lost and must be won. It is no more than an extension of this undeniable principle that the millennial kingdom is itself a reward and that attaining it is subject to the same rule. And by as much as the reward is made more magnificent the incentive to attain to it by grace becomes the more regnant, and the pursuit of holiness the more urgent. The Christian athlete will cry: Not that I have already obtained (the prize), or am already made perfect; but I press on, if so be that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus (Phil. 3: 12).
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So then let us not sleep, as do the rest, but let us watch and be sober. For God appointed us not unto wrath, but unto the obtaining of salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Thess. 5: 6, 9); cf. 1 Pet. 1: 5, 9.