THIRTY PIECES OF SILVER
[This tract is based on the writings of D. M. Panton, M. A.]
Covetousness is laid down by the Holy Spirit as one of the sins for which a believer is to be excluded from the Church of God (1 Cor. 5: 11); covetousness caused the instant death of the first church members ever dealt with judically (Acts 5: 5); and covetousness is a sin for which the penalty at the Judgment Seat is LOSS OF THE MILLENNIAL KINGDOM(1 Cor. 6: 10). But one unique incident uncovers covetousness like lightning. The only one of Christ’s twelve Apostles to fall (without restoration), fell through covetousness; for covetousness he committed the most despicable sin in the history of the world; and his covetousness brought him to suicide: yet what brings it home to us all, and makes it appallingly real, is the amount which wrought all this ruin was no colossal fortune. No fact could paint in such letters of fire the power, the folly, and the ruin of sin. Judas misses a foundation name in the Holy City for a small sum of money.
In Judas is summed up for all time, and supremely for the last days, the heart of the apostate, who was once high in the councils of the Church; for he is the studied type, presented once for all, of a host of regenerate souls at the close of this age. Judas reveals the fearful peril of an unbelief in God’s prophecies. It is inconceivable that our Lord would have made Judas an Apostle had there been in him no possibilities of the highest. He had joined a rejected Christ, and incurred all the peril that had fallen on the other Apostles. But, as Judas slowly revealed his heart, the best that can be said for him is that, while glutting his own greed, he also sought to force the hand of Christ, to compel Him - if He were the Messiah - to grasp the Kingdom, which he and other Apostles would then share. Any failure to do this on the part of Christ (so Judas must have argued in his own mind) would prove that He was not the Messiah. Therefore the Lord’s own prophecies - Calvary, an empty tomb, then a far-off returning King - if not frauds, were gigantic errors. So when the desperate storm broke, and Judas saw that, now that the triumphal entry had collapsed, nothing could save Jesus, his master-passion - covetousness - rose to its natural dominance, and the betrayal of a foolish though innocent enthusiast became (in his imagination) a trivial sin. It is exactly so today. When on the lovely vision of a converted world and a triumphant Church there breaks the dread tornado which will wreck all such dreams, faith will collapse, and the apostate’s natural passion - whatever it may be - will recreate Judas in countless hosts. "In the last days," says Paul (2 Tim. 3: 4), "men shall be "TRAITORS".
Our Lord’s warning to Judas (and every other disciple) is most wonderful. Jesus makes perfectly plain the future which lies before any regenerate man/woman who betrays Him. "Woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born. Then Judas, the one who would betray him said. ‘Surely not I, Rabbi?’ " (Matt. 26: 24). So pure in heart were the Eleven, that when Jesus said, "One of you will betray me," the disciples "stared at one another, at a loss to know which of them he meant" (John 13: 22), none concentrating his gaze or thinking specifically of Judas. The complete unsuspiciousness of the other Apostles proves that Judas’s life seemed to square with his profession. But he does a most dangerous thing. He says, "Surely not I, Rabbi?" (Matt. 16: 25). If the Lord had not miraculously revealed it, Judas would never have been unmasked at all. No sin is ever recorded of Judas except a hand put surreptitiously into a money bag (John 12: 6), an act which none had seen but God: yet the Lord knows all, and He makes all as plain as day. Justice might well have been angry; prudence might well have been silent; wrath might have instantly struck: love warns, so as to give a last chance for repentance; and Jesus hands him the bread, so identifying the traitor. "As soon as Judas took the bread, Satan entered into him" (John 13: 27). No Christian [i.e., no regenerate believer] knows when he quenches the Spirit for the last time. Judas left the room an Apostate. It is a fearful revelation of what every regenerate believer can become. ¹ The greatest demoniac of all ages, and the worst demon possession ever recorded, occurred at the Lord’s Table, and was a prelude to the Last Supper.
Now the awful character which we shall more and more live to see - the apostate - rises on the horizon. The interview of Judas with the Chief Priests had hardly taken place, before the Supper, and he may have had the money on him at the table. * He had said:- "What are you willing to give me if I hand him over to you" (Matt 26: 15). In a few hours the moment had arrived for him to pay the awful price for his thirty silver shekels: he barters away his inheritance in the Kingdom for so little; he robs himself of life in the Age to Come: like Esau he loses his birthright for so small a price. In Gethsemanie is seen a thing incredible. At the head of the mob approaching to arrest Jesus is an Apostle, a disciple - now an apostate, a traitor; and as it is night, and the gloom is the deeper for the olive-trees, Judas has arranged a covert signal in which treacherous apostasy is for ever summed: all the covetousness, all the cowardice, all the treachery of Judas meet in a kiss.**
[* "During my London ministry," says Dr. R. J. Campbell, "I found to my amazement that pickpockets and bag-snatchers made a practice of attending all services with the object of stealing. At Holy Communion such persons have more opportunity than at other times for obvious reasons."]
[** Most significantly, Jesus addresses Judas (Matt. 26: 50) by the very word the Communist most affects - ‘Comrade,’ ‘mate’; and, equally significantly, throughout Judas addresses Christ as ‘Rabbi’, never as ‘Lord’.]
So the dread drama moves to its inexorable close. Judas suddenly hurries back, with his conscience all on fire, ² and casts the thirty pieces of silver past the outer Temple barrier at the feet of the Priests within. The Lord’s predictions slowly fulfilling before his eyes showed him his own doom which they had also foretold. "When Judas, who had betrayed him, saw that Jesus was condemned, he was seized with remorse and returned the thirty coins to the chief priests and the elders. ‘I have sinned,’ he said, ‘for I have betrayed innocent blood.’ "(Matt. 27: 3,4). Conscience is all powerful to convict: it is utterly powerless to save. ² There is here a desire of human absolution - he comes to the priests: there is a confession of sin - "I have sinned" : there is a horror of crime - "I have betrayed innocent blood": there is an attempt at reparation - he casts the money back at the Priests. But all to no avail: he repents but finds no repentance with God: the inheritance in the Millennial Kingdom is lost. And how infinitely pathetic is the reply of the Priests as they refuse him all absolution:- " ‘What is that to us?’ they replied. ‘That’s your responsibility.’ (Matt. 27:4). Forgiveness can come from only One; and Him (so far as the divine record shows) Judas never again sought.
The final stage is sin’s inevitable goal - black despair. "With the reward Judas got for his wickedness, Judas bought a field; there he fell headlong, his body burst open and all his intestines spilled out" (Acts 1: 18). It would appear that Judas left the Temple, approached the valley of El Hinnom, [i.e., Gehenna] and roped himself to a tree jutting from an overhanging craig; and either the rope snapped, or the branch split, and falling headlong, he burst asunder below on the Field of Blood. * It is the principle on which the Devil acts that he tells souls before they sin, ‘Hope,’ but after they sin, ‘Despair’: he first blinds the eyes to sin’s guilt, and then he opens them to its enormity. Satan had entered into Judas, but when the end came he gave him not a word of aid or counsel or comfort: his victim lies at the cliff’s foot without one word of love or one tear of farewell. If Satan cannot succeed in preventing a saved soul from finding eternal life through faith in Christ; he will seek to prevent him/her from inheriting the Kingdom, (1 Cor. 6: 9, 10; Gal. 5: 19-21; Eph. 5: 5, 6). No baptism could be more Divine than the baptism of the twelve Apostles, and Judas had been baptized; he was actually an Apostle, and so in the loftiest spiritual position ever known on earth; miraculously gifted, with the Eleven: "When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick" (Luke 9: 1, 2). He was a preacher of the truth with them; frequently speaking to Christ - that is praying: yet the sum total of all was - a Judas. The greater our knowledge the greater is our responsibility to disclose it to others; and the greater the spiritual gifts, the greater the need to use them wisely for the glory of God. Hence the possibility for us (like Judas) of becoming apostate.**
[* Dr. H. B. Hackett says:- "As I stood in the valley of Hinnom, I measured the precipitous, almost perpendicular, walls, in different places; and I found the height to be variously forty, thirty-six, thirty-three, thirty, and twenty-five feet. At the bottom of these precipices are rocky ledges, on which a person would fall from above; and in that case not only would life be destroyed, but the body almost inevitably bruised and mangled."]
[** The Writer of Hebrews calls attention to this same thing in Heb. 3: 12: "Take heed brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing ['apostatizing'] from the living God." Paul states in 2 Thess. 2:3, "Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day [the Day of the Lord] shall not come except there comes a falling away [Greek - 'the apostasy'] first . . ." Paul, again in 1Tim. 4: 1 states, "Now ['But'] the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart [Greek - 'apostatize'] from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of deamons.]
1. "The English word "apostasy" is actually a transliterated form of the Greek word apostasia, a compound word formed from apo and stasis. Apo means "from," and stasis means "to stand." When used together, forming the word apostasia, the meaning is "to stand away from." This "standing away from" pertains to a position previously occupied and refers to standing away from "the faith which was once delivered unto the saints" (cf. 1 Tim. 4: 1; Jude 3).
In the true sense of the word, no one can stand away from something he has never been associated. This can be illustrated by the use of the Greek word apostasion (neuter form of apostasia) im Matt. 5: 31; 19: 7; Mark 10; 4. In each instance the word is translated "divorcement." It is one person "standing away from" another person. There could be no "divorcement," "standing away from," unless there had previously been a marriage. In like manner, no one could "stand away from" the faith (apostatize) unless he had previously been associated with the faith. Believers alone occupy a position of this nature from which they can "stand away." Unbelievers have never come in to such a position, and, in the true sense of the word, are not associated with the latter-day apostasy in Scripture."
"Those who apostatize from "the faith" are Christians, not those of the world. It is not possible for an unsaved person to stand away from the faith, for he has never come into a position from which he can stand away. Only the saved have come into this position, and only the saved can enter into this latter-day apostasy."
"I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge" - that is, no crowns are awarded to those are not "accounted worthy" - "will award to me on that day" (2 Tim. 4: 7). "The "contest" here, as in 1 Tim. 6: 12, has to do with the faith. The contest or race here is the same race set forth in 1 Cor. 9: 24-27, with one or more crowns in view at the end of the race. And successful completion of the race will result in the runner being crowned, anticipating the coming rule from the heavens over the earth as a joint-heir with Christ (called "life for the age" in 1 Tim. 6: 12).
"Never in the history of the Church has it been more important than during the present time for Christians to understand the true nature and course of apostasy, along with the Christian’s only recourse to avoid being engulfed, to some degree, in this apostasy. We’re living very near the close of this present age, during the time when the Laodicean period of Church history is rapidly nearing completion. Throughout the remainder of this age, according to Scripture, there can only be a further deterioration of existing conditions. There will be no great awakening, great revival in Christendom during days ahead. Rather, deteriorating conditions will only intensify, producing instead, the great apostasy to culminate the age in which we live."
- Dr. A. L. CHITWOOD.
2. The salvation here is the salvation of the human spirit. "Hand this man (the sexually immoral believer) over to Satan, so that his body may be destroyed" - (Satan is God’s executioner) - and his spirit saved on the day of the Lord" (Acts 5: 5) That is, he will, at the time when Christ returns to reward His faithful followers, have a different spirit and will realize his great loss. His spirit presently disobedient to responsibility truths, conditional promises of God, and faith in the Millennial Reign of Christ on earth, will then be saved. That is, his spirit will be released from blindness relative to above mentioned truths.
Caleb and Joshua were allowed to inherit the land of promise, because they had a different spirit than those redeemed in Egypt, but later apostatized and were overthrown in the desert: "Not one of the men who saw my glory" - Christ’s reign on earth is the time when His glory will be openly displayed (Isaiah 35;cf. Rom. 8: 18 [See Greek])- "and the miraculous signs I performed in Egypt, and in the desert but who disobeyed me and tested me ten times - not one of them will ever see the land I promised ON EARTH TO THEIR FOREFATHERS. No one who has treated me with contempt will ever see it. But because my servant Caleb HAS A DIFFERENT SPIRIT" - that is, a spirit alive, responsive, and able to see and realize the dire consequences of disbelieving and disobeying God, and the danger of losing His promised inheritance- "and follows me whole-heartedly, I will bring him into the land he went to, and his descendants will inherit it" (Num 22-24). "These things happened to them as examples and were written down AS WARNING FOR US," - the Apostle Paul includes himself in the "us" - "on whom the fulfilment of the ages has come" (1 Cor. 10; 11). - Ed.
"The moment we trust God is the first moment that God begins to trust us. "He called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods" (Matt. 25: 14). How ought our whole hearts to be poured out to justify such a trust! A thief who had been in prison twenty times, and twice in penal servitude, was received into a Christian employer’s service, and sent to America; but his record followed him, and he had to come back. He found work in Manchester, and become a trusted servant. One day the manager of the works was removing his goods to a new house, and the mistress - who did not know the man’s old record - called him, saying:- "John, this basket contains all our silver; please be very careful, and carry it across safely." A friend said to him:- "And what did you do?" He said:- "When I got outside, I looked into the basket, and saw the shining silver; and I lifted it, and felt how heavy it was." "And what did you do then?" his friend asked. "I cried, because I was trusted."
If ‘mid the gathering storms of doubt
Our hearts grow faint and cold,
The strength we cannot live without
Thy love will not withhold.
Our prayers accept; our sins forgive;
Our youthful zeal renew:
Shape for us holier lives to live,
And nobler work to do.
- W. O. HOLMES
"The overcomer is manifestly the one who endures to the end; he is not a temporary. The second death hath no power to hurt them; they will take part in the first resurrection. They will eat of the hidden manna; that is, they will be secretly sustained; we are now sustained from sources of which the world knows nothing. These will be granted liberty to rule; thus we shall be like Christ, for only as we have conquered or ruled ourselves are we qualified to rule others. We need to be clad in white raiment, and so fit to appear before God and inscribed on the citizen’s roll. The overcomer will be a pillar on the Temple of God; if you have been a scatterer, one who pulled down and not built up, you cannot be established in God’s Temple. You will reign with Christ; if you suffer you will be privileged to be in the Sovereignty with Him, and a glorious heritage awaits those who have given up earthly heritage; they will possess a heavenly, for they will inherit all things. May the Lord make us overcomers!"
- Jessie Sayer, D. D.
A LAST REVIVAL
When current events are studied in the light of fulfilled prophecy, there can be no doubt about the impending crash which Jesus referred to as ‘the great tribulation.’ Spiritual insight is required to grasp this truth because an attitude of dark expectancy is revolting to the average person. Human nature is prone toward silly optimism. No matter if it is as revolutionary to modern thinking as Noah’s prophetic voice was to the antediluvians, Armageddon will come! But, true to history and prophecy, there will first come a spontaneous outburst of spiritual religion. The coming revival will not last very long, but will sweep the earth like lighting. And as a result, the world will be evangelized. The prophecy of Matthew 24: 14 will then come to pass. "And this gospel [good news] of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come." This great awakening will overthrow the beaten paths of denominationalism and standardized missionary endeavour. It will be spontaneous, cyclonic, dynamic, world-wide! It will not be the result of any humanly devised programme, but an outpouring of the Holy Spirit."
- GERALD B. WINROD.