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A few thoughts on the Trinity

Understanding the trinity is difficult. Human minds, I believe, are not capable of a complete understanding of the trinity, whilst on this earth. Many have used various illusions to explain who is the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, but these fall far short of reality. Humans deal well with three dimensions, and cope reasonably with the added dimension of time, but add any other dimension, the field become extremely technical and difficult to comprehend. Physicists may deal in seven or more dimensions, but none of these dimensions explore the spiritual realm. The physical character of God, which humans have much desire to understand, since they are very visual beings, is beyond their grasp. Indeed humans cannot even look upon the face of God for in doing so they would die, as explained to Moses; [God] said, “you cannot see my face, for man shall not see me and live.” Exodus 33:20.

We have a glimpse of the character of God, as portrayed in scripture, but even then, as Paul put it, it is like looking in a poor mirror (as they were in Biblical times) under dim light. In the future in heaven we will fully know (“For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.” 1 Corinthians 13:12). We will in heaven as Gill put it “see God, the perfections and glory of his nature, the riches of his grace and goodness, as displayed in Christ; they behold the glory of Christ, as full of grace and truth, and are filled with love to him; the desires of their souls are after him, and they are changed into the same image by his Spirit; they discern the things of the Spirit of God;” (John Gill – Notes on 1 Corinthians 13:12).

Christians (and Jews) worship one God. We do not worship three. The Jew learns this from an early age: “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.” Deuteronomy 6:4. This verse is one of the axiomatic verses of every Jew and Christian; yet the Christian knows God as the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The notion expressed that God is one is repeated in Scripture; eg King Solomon wanted his words to go out to ensure “all the peoples of the earth may know that the LORD is God; there is no other.” 1 Kings 8:60. Isaiah wrote: “Thus says the LORD, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the LORD of hosts: ‘I am the first and I am the last; besides me there is no god.’” (Isaiah 44:6).

We are reminded that the Hebrew word “one” in the verse “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.” Is 'echâd and means “united” denoting a plurality within a unity, as Thomas Simcox and others put it[1]. This might be hard to understand at first, but scripture gives a few examples. When a man and woman marry they, according to Scriptures, become one flesh: “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” Genesis 2:24 (NKJV). The verse literally means a man and woman “are united as one ['echâd] flesh”. Also in Genesis the first day is described as “evening and morning” – the uniting of night and day, forms 24 hours, that is one day – the two become one 'echâd. Thomas Simcox also gives the example of the cluster of grapes brought home by the spies that went to the Promised Land (Number 13:23). They returned with one ('echâd) cluster of grapes.

This is an important concept – and deals with the issues raised by many. God is plural in his unity – that is plurality co-exists in unity. Right from the beginning of Scriptures God refers to himself in plural – Elohim e.g. Genesis 1:26, 3:22, and 11:7. God speaking of himself uses Elohim then says ‘let us’; plurality as unity. This is not always brought out in English – eg Ecclesiastes 12:1 – where the plural creators (בוראיך) is intended: “And remember thy Creator in the days of thy youth” (Ecclesiastes 12:1a).

Christians worship one God – this is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. It was Moses who first referred to God in this way, at the burning bush, which Jesus quotes (Luke 20:37), as does Peter (Acts 3:13) and Stephen (Acts 7:32). Yet we know that that Jesus is God, for Jesus said: “And yet if I do judge, My judgment is true; for I am not alone, but I am with the Father who sent Me.” John 8:16. Jesus goes on and says “I and My Father are one.” (John 10:30). God told Moses His name was “I Am Who I Am” when asked (Exodus 3:14). Jesus also uses the same illustration: “Jesus said to them, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.’”John 8:58.

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Throughout Scriptures the triune God is assumed; three separate persons of the Godhead, yet the same Godhead. They speak to each other which is best illustrated by the Psalms where the each member of the trinity express themselves. For example take Psalm 2- God the Father speaks, the Son speaks and the Holy Spirit speaks.

Firstly the Holy Spirit speaks: He speaks of the God (Father) and his (Jehovah’s) anointed which can only be the son: “Why do the nations rage, And the people plot a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, And the rulers take counsel together, Against the LORD and against His Anointed” (v 1-2). The speaker talks about two people – the Jehovah and His Anointed. It is the Son who is anointed by the Jehovah.

In verse 7 it is clearly the Father speaking: “I will declare the decree: The LORD has said to Me, ‘You are My Son, Today I have begotten You.’” since it speaks about ‘my’ son it must be the Father speaking.

The Son speaks in verses 10 and 11, with the exhortation that kings (rulers) are to serve Jehovah with fear. The Holy Spirit responds with ‘kiss the son!’ – clearly not the Father, else it would be ‘my son’ as it is in verse 7, and is not the son speaking else it would be ‘kiss me’.

Isaiah writes, acknowledging the trinity: “Listen to Me, O Jacob, And Israel, My called: I am He, I am the First, I am also the Last. Indeed My hand has laid the foundation of the earth, And My right hand has stretched out the heavens; When I call to them, They stand up together.” (Isaiah 48:12-13). This is clearly the Father speaking. But in verse 16 the Son speaks: “Come near to Me, hear this: I have not spoken in secret from the beginning; From the time that it was, I was there. And now the Lord GOD and His Spirit Have sent Me.” This verse cannot be the Father (Lord GOD) or the Holy Spirit speaking, as it speaks in the first person about them – therefore the speaker must be the Son, and the Son must be God, because the passage is about the First and Last – who is God. Hence, we view the trinity: “And now the Lord GOD [the Father] and His Spirit [the Holy Spirit], Have sent Me [the Son].” To make doubly sure that we understand it is the Son who speaks, Isaiah writes in verse 17: “Thus says the LORD, your Redeemer, The Holy One of Israel: ‘I am the LORD your God, Who teaches you to profit, Who leads you by the way you should go.’” Isaiah 48:17. Who is this Redeemer – it is the Messiah – the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

We know that Jesus was the Son of God, because this is the purpose of John’s gospel, where he sets out an exact argument that the one who came is indeed the Son of God: “these [words] are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.” (John 20:31).

In the passage quoted from Isaiah we note the use of the terms “I am the First, I am also the Last”. These words are repeated in Revelation by Jesus Christ – the Messiah and redeemer: “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End," says the Lord, ‘who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.’” Revelation 1:8. Again we note Scripture assumes the trinity, and therefore it is logical to reference the passage to the Lord God, when the Son is intended. We know this speaks of Jesus Christ, as John sets this out in verses 1-7 (e.g. “Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth” verse 5). The same words are used in Revelation 22:13: “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last” which identifies the writer as the Messiah, the second person of the trinity.

Jesus first spoke of the Holy Spirit in John 14:16 when he indicated he would pray the father would send the Holy Spirit – referred to as Comforter or Advocate (παρακλητος). This we see came to fruition and reported upon in Acts chapter 2. In John 14 we see all three of the Godhead – the triune God as the Son in human nature praying to the Father, the Father is being prayed to as God, that the Holy Spirit being prayed to be sent, for the purpose of “teach(ing) you all things and bring(ing) to your remembrance all that I (the Son) have said to you” (John 14:26). The son is distinct from the Father, and not the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit takes the work of Christ and reveals them to his own, that is, those who believe in the Son. One other task of the Holy Spirit, sent at Pentecost, was to: “convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment” John 16:8.

We read in Colossians 1:15-19 that the Messiah – Jesus Christ is “the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.  For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence. For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell.” Note the last sentence: The Father places all the characteristics of God (omnipotence, omniscience, omnipresence etc) on the Son, and who created the universe, and in him the universe exists; this is God’s will and good pleasure. What this means is all the fullness of the Godhead dwells in Christ bodily – whatever the divine excellence of the Father. Yet along with the Holy Spirit are one.

[1] Thomas Simcox (2014) Can three be one? Friends of Israel, November/December 2014, pg 10

PDF A few thoughts on the Trinity

 

David L Simon
Updated: 14 Dec 2014

 

What is the Gospel?

A sermon preached by Harry A Ironside Pastor of Moody Memorial Church, Chicago

"Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the Gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; by which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how 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.15:1-4)

It might seem almost a work of supererogation to answer a question like this. We hear the word, "Gospel" used so many times. People talk of this and of that as being "as true as the Gospel," and I often wonder what they really mean by it.

Contents

 

FIRST I SHOULD LIKE TO INDICATE WHAT THE GOSPEL IS NOT

The Gospel is Not the Bible

In the first place, the Gospel is not the Bible. Often when I inquire, "What do you think the Gospel is?" people reply, "Why, it is the Bible, and the Bible is the Word of God." Undoubtedly the Bible is the Word of God, but there is a great deal in that Book that is not Gospel.
"The wicked shall be turned into Hell with all the nations that forget God." That is in the Bible, and it is terribly true; but it is not Gospel.
"It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God." That is in the Bible, but it is not the Gospel.
Our English word, "gospel" just means the "good spell," and the word "spell," is the old Anglo-Saxon word for, "tidings", the good tidings, the good news. The original word translated. "Gospel," which we have taken over into the English with little alteration is the word, "evangel," and it has the same meaning, the good news. The Gospel is God's good news for sinners. The Bible contains the Gospel, but there is a great deal in the Bible which is not Gospel.

Not the Commandments

The Gospel is not just any message from God telling man how he should behave. "What is the Gospel?" I asked a man this question some time ago, and he answered, "Why I should say it is the Ten Commandments and the Sermon on the Mount, and I think if a man lives up to them he is allright." Well, I fancy he would be; but did you ever know anybody who lived up to them? The Sermon on the Mount demands a righteousness which no unregenerate man has been able to produce. The law is not the Gospel; it is the very antitheses of the Gospel. In fact, the law was given by God to show men their need of the Gospel.
"The law," says the Apostle Paul, speaking as a Jewish convert, "was our schoolmaster to bring us to Christ. But after that Christ is come we are no longer under the schoolmaster."

The Gospel is Not Repentance

The Gospel is not a call to repentance, or to amendment of our ways, to make restitution for past sins, or to promise to do better in the future. These things are proper in their place, but they do not constitute the Gospel; for the Gospel is not good advice to be obeyed, it is good news to be believed. Do not make the mistake then of thinking that the Gospel is a call to duty or a call to reformation, a call to better your condition, to behave yourself in a more perfect way than you have been doing in the past.

The Gospel is Not Giving up the World

Nor is the Gospel a demand that you give up the world, that you give up your sins, that you break off bad habits, and try to cultivate good ones. You may do all these things, and yet never believe the Gospel and consequently never be saved at all.
There are seven designations of the gospel in the New Testament, but over and above all these, let me draw your attention to the fact that when this blessed message is mentioned, it is invariably accompanied by the definite article. Over and over and over again in the New Testament we read of the Gospel. It is the Gospel not a Gospel.
People tell us there are a great many different Gospels; but there is only ONE. When certain teachers came to the Galatians and tried to turn them away from the simplicity that was in Christ Jesus by teaching "another Gospel" the apostle said that it was a different gospel, but not another; for there is none other than the Gospel. It is downright exclusive; it is God's revelation to sinful man.

The Gospel is Not Comparative Religion

The scholars of this world talk of the Science of Comparative Religions, and it is very popular now-a-days to say, "We cannot any longer go to heathen nations [or indeed call them that, although it is what they are – Editor] and preach to them as in the days gone by, because we are learning that their religions are just as good as ours, and the thing to do now is to share with them, to study the different religions, take the good out of them all, and in this way lead the world into a sense of brotherhood and unity."
So in our great universities and colleges men study this Science of Comparative Religions and they compare all these different religious systems one with another. There is a Science of Comparative Religions, but the Gospel is not one of them. All the different religions in the world may well be studied comparatively, for at rock-bottom they are all alike; they all set men at trying to earn his own salvation. They may be called by different names, and the things that men are called to do maybe different in each case, but they all set men trying to save their own souls and earn their way into the favour of God. In this they stand in vivid contrast with the Gospel, for the Gospel is that glorious message that tells us what God has done for us in order that guilty sinners maybe saved.

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THE SEVEN DESIGNATIONS OF THIS GOSPEL

1. The Gospel of the Kingdom

The Gospel of the Kingdom, and when I use that term I am not thinking particularly of any dispensational application, but of this blessed truth that it is only through believing the Gospel that men are born into the Kingdom of God; We sing: "A ruler once came to Jesus by night, To ask Him the way of salvation and light; The Master made answer in words true and plain, 'ye must be born again.' " But neither Nicodemus, nor you, nor I, could ever bring this about ourselves. We had nothing to with our first birth, and can have nothing to do with our second birth. It must be the work of God, and it is wrought through the Gospel. That is why the Gospel is called the Gospel of the Kingdom, for, "Except a man be born again he cannot see the Kingdom of God" (John 3:3,7). "Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the Word of God, which liveth and abideth forever. . . And this is the word which by the Gospel is preached unto you" (1 Peter 1:23-25. Everywhere that Paul and his companion apostles went they preached the Gospel of the Kingdom of God, and they showed that the only way to get into that Kingdom was by a second birth, and that the only way whereby the second birth could be brought about was through believing the Gospel. It is the Gospel of the Kingdom.

2. The Gospel of God

It also called the Gospel of God, because God is the source of it, and it is altogether of Himself. No man ever thought of a Gospel like this. The very fact that all the religions of the world set man to try to work for his own salvation indicates the fact that no man would ever have dreamed of such a Gospel as that which is revealed in this Book. It came from the heart of God; it was God who "so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." "In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He first loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins" (1John 4:9,10). And because it is the Gospel of God, God is very jealous of it. He wants it kept pure. He does not want it mixed with any of man's theories or laws; He does not want it mixed up with religious ordinances or anything of that kind. The Gospel is God's own pure message to sinful man. God grant that you and I may receive it as in very truth the Gospel of God.

3. The Gospel of His Son

And then it is called the gospel of His son, not merely because the Son went everywhere preaching the Gospel, but because He is the theme of it. "When it pleased God," says the apostle, "who called me by His grace, to reveal His Son in me that I might preach Him among the nations; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood"(Galatians 1:15,16). "We preach Christ crucified . . . the power of God, and the wisdom of God" (1 Corinthians 1:23, 24). No man preaches the Gospel who is not exalting the Lord Jesus. It is God's wonderful message about His Son. How often I have gone to meetings where they told me I would hear the Gospel, and instead of that I have heard some bewildered preacher talk to a bewildered audience about everything and anything, but the Lord Jesus Christ. The Gospel has to do with nothing else but Christ. It is the Gospel of God's Son.

4. The Gospel of Christ

And so, linked with this it is called gospel of Christ. The Apostle Peter preaching on the day of Pentecost of the risen Saviour, says, "God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ." And He speaks of Him as the anointed One, exalted at God's right hand. The Gospel is the Gospel of the Risen Christ. There would be no Gospel for sinners if Christ had not been raised. So the apostle says, "If Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins" (1 Corinthians 15:17). A great New York preacher, great in his impertinence, at least, said some years ago, preaching a so-called Easter sermon, "The body of Jesus still sleeps in a Syrian tomb, but His soul goes marching on. That is not the Gospel of Christ. We are not preaching the Gospel of a dead Christ, but of a living Christ who sits exalted at the Father's right hand, and is living to save all who put their trust in Him. That is why those of us who really know the Gospel never have any crucifixes around our churches or in our homes. The crucifix represents a dead Christ hanging languid on a cross of shame. But we are not pointing men to a dead Christ; we are preaching a living Christ. He lives exalted at God's right hand, and He "saves to the uttermost all who come to God by Him."

5. The Gospel of the Grace of God

The Gospel is also called the Gospel of the Grace of God because it leaves no room whatever for human merit. It just brushes away all man's pretension to any goodness, to any desert excepting judgment. It is the Gospel of grace, and grace is God's free unmerited favour to those who have merited the very opposite. It is as opposite to works as oil is to water." If by grace,"says the Spirit of God, "then it is no more works. . . but if it be of works, then is it no more grace" (Rom.11:6). People say, "But you must have both." I have heard it put like this; there was a boatman and two theologians in a boat, and one was arguing that salvation was by faith and the other by works. The boatman listened, and then said, "Let me tell you how it looks to me. Suppose I call this oar Faith and this one Works. If I pull on this one, the boat goes around; if I pull on this other one, it goes around the other way, but if I pull on both oars, I get you across the river." I have heard many preachers use that illustration to prove that we are saved by faith and works. That might do if we were going to Heaven in a rowboat, but we are not. We are carried on the shoulders of the Shepherd, who came seeking lost sheep When He finds them He carries them home on His shoulders. But there are some other names used.

6. The Gospel of the Glory of God

It is called the gospel of the glory of God. I love that name. It is the Gospel of the Glory of God because it comes from the place where our Lord Jesus has entered. The veil has been rent, and now the glory shines out; and whenever this Gospel is proclaimed, it tells of a way into the glory for sinful man, a way to come before the Mercy Seat purged from every stain. It is the Gospel of the Glory of God, because, until Christ had entered into the Glory, it could not be preached in its fullness, but, after the glory received Him, then the message went out to a lost world.

7. The Everlasting Gospel

It is also called the Everlasting Gospel because it will never be superseded by another. No other ever went before it, and no other shall ever come after it. One of the professors of the University of Chicago wrote a book a few years ago in which he tried to point out that some of these days Jesus would be superseded by a greater teacher; then He and the Gospel that He taught would have to give way to a message which would be more suited to the intelligence of the cultivated men of the later centuries. No, no! Were it possible for this world to go on a million years, it would never need any other Gospel than this preached by the Apostle Paul and confirmed with signs following; the Gospel which, throughout the centuries has been saving guilty sinners.

THE GOSPEL DECLARED

What is the Gospel?

What then is the content of this Gospel? We are told right here, "I declare unto you the Gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; by which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain." There is such a thing as merely believing with the intelligence and crediting some doctrine with the mind when the heart has not been reached. But wherever men believe this Gospel in real faith, they are saved thru the message.
What is it that brings this wonderful result? It is a simple story, and yet how rich, how full. "I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received." I think his heart must have been stirred as he wrote those words, for he went back in memory to nearly thirty years before, and thought of that day when hurrying down the Damascus turnpike, with his heart filled with hatred toward the Lord Jesus Christ and His people, he was thrown to the ground, and a light shone, and he heard a voice saying, "Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?" (Acts 9:4) And he cried, "Who art thou Lord?" And the voice said, "I am Jesus whom thou persecutest." (Acts 9:5) And that day Saul learned the Gospel; he learned that He who died on the Cross had been raised from the dead, and that He was living in the Glory. At that moment his soul was saved, and Saul of Tarsus was changed to Paul the Apostle.
And now he says, "I am going to tell you what I have received; it is a real thing with me, and I know it will work the same wonderful change in you. If you will believe it; first of all, that "Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures." (1 Corinthians 15:3) Then, "that He was buried." (1 Corinthians 15:4) Then, "that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures." (1 Corinthians 15:4)  The Gospel was no new thing in God's mind. It had been predicted throughout the Old Testament times. Every time the coming Saviour was mentioned, there was proclamation of the Gospel. It began in Eden when the Lord said, "The seed of the woman shall bruise thy head." (Genesis 3:15) It was typified in every sacrifice that was offered. It was portrayed in the wonderful Tabernacle, and later in the Temple. We have it in the proclamation of Isaiah, "He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities, the chastisement of our peace was upon Him: and with His stripes we are healed." (Isaiah 53:5) It was preached by Jeremiah when he said, "This is His Name whereby He shall be called, the Lord our Righteousness" (Jeremiah 23:6). It was declared by Zechariah when he exclaimed, "Awake, O sword, against My Shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered: and I will turn mine hand upon the little ones: (Zecharhiah13:7) All through those Old Testament dispensations, the Gospel was predicted, and when Jesus came, the Gospel came with Him. When He died, when He was buried, and when He rose again, the Gospel could be fully told out to a poor lost world. Observe it says, "Christ died for our sins." (1 Corinthians 15:3) No man preaches the Gospel, no matter what nice things he may say about Jesus, if he leaves out His vicarious death on Calvary's cross.

Christ's Death - Not His Life

I was preaching in a church in Virginia, and a minister prayed, "Lord, grant Thy blessing as the Word is preached tonight. May it be the means of causing people to fall in love with the Christ-life, that they may begin to live the Christ-life." I felt like saying, "Brother, sit down; don't insult God like that" but then I felt I had to be courteous, and I knew that my turn would come, when I could get up and give them the truth. The Gospel is not asking men to live the Christ-life. If your salvation depends upon your doing that, you are just as good as checked for Hell, for you never can live it in yourself. It is utterly impossible. But the very first message of the Gospel is the story of the vicarious atonement of Christ. He did not come to tell men how to live in order that they might save themselves; He did not come to save men by living His beautiful life. That, apart from His death, would never have saved one poor sinner. He came to die; He "was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death." Christ Jesus gave Himself a ransom for all. When He instituted the Lord's Supper He said, "Take, eat: this is My body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of Me. . . This cup is the new covenant in My Blood" (1 Corinthians. 11:24, 25). There is no Gospel if the vicarious death of Jesus is left out, and there is no other way whereby you can be saved than through the death of the blessed spotless Son of God.
Someone says, "But I do not understand it." That is a terrible confession to make, for "If our Gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: (2 Corinthians 4:3). If you do not see that there is no other way of salvation for you, save through the death of the Lord Jesus, then that just tells the sad story that you are among the lost. You are not merely in danger of being lost in the Day of Judgement; but you are lost now. But, thank God, "the Son of Man is come to seek and to save that which was lost," and seeking the lost He went to the cross. "None of the ransomed ever knew how deep were the water's crossed; Nor how dark was the night that the Lord passed through, Ere He found the sheep that was lost."  [The Ninety and Nine, Ira D. Sankey]

The Necessity of Death

HE HAD TO DIE, to go down into the dark waters of death, that you might be saved. Can you think of any ingratitude more base than that of a man or woman who passes by the life offered by the Saviour who died on the Cross for them? Jesus died for you, and can it be that you have never even trusted Him, never even come to Him and told Him you were a poor, lost, ruined, guilty sinner; but since He died for you, you would take Him as your Saviour? HIS DEATH WAS REAL. He was buried three days in the tomb. He died, He was buried, and that was God's witness that it was not a merely pretended death, but He, the Lord of life, had to go down into death. He was held by the bars of death for those three days and nights, until God's appointed time had come. Then, "Death could not keep its prey, He tore the bars away." And so the third point of the Gospel is this, "He was raised again the third day according to the Scriptures." That is the Gospel, and nothing can be added to that. Some people say, "Well, but must I repent?" Yes, you may well repent, but that is not the Gospel. "Must I not be baptized?" If you are a Christian, you ought to be baptized, but baptism is not the Gospel. Paul said, "Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the Gospel" (1 Corinthians 1:17) He did baptize people, but he did not consider that was the Gospel, and the Gospel was the great message that he was sent to carry to the world. This is all there is to it. "Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and was buried, and rose again the third day according to the Scriptures."

The Gospel Accepted

Look at the result of believing the Gospel. Go back to verse two, "By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain." That is, if you believe the Gospel, you are saved; if you believe that Christ died for your sins, that He was buried, and that He rose again, God says you are saved. Do you believe it? No man ever believed that except by the Holy Ghost. It is the Spirit of God that overcomes the natural unbelief of the human heart and enables a man to put his trust in that message. And this is not mere intellectual credence, but it is that one comes to the place where he is ready to stake his whole eternity on the fact that Christ died, and was buried, and rose again. When Jesus said, "IT IS FINISHED" the work of salvation was completed. A dear saint was dying, and looking up he said, "It is finished; on that I can cast my eternity." Upon a life I did not live, Upon a death I did not die; Another's life, another's death, Is take my whole eternity." Can you say that, and say it in faith?

The Gospel Rejected

What about the man who does not believe the Gospel? The Lord Jesus said to His disciples, "Go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned" (Mark 16:15,16). He that believeth not shall be devoted to judgment, condemned, lost. So you see, God has shut us up to the Gospel. Have you believed it? Have you put your trust in it; is it the confidence of your soul? Or have you been trusting in something else? If you have been resting in anything short of the Christ who died, who was buried, who rose again, I plead with you, turn from every other fancied refuge, and flee to Christ today. Repent ye, and believe the Gospel.


"O, do not let the word depart,
And close thine eyes against the light;
Poor sinner, harden not thy heart,
Be saved, O tonight." [For you do not know when the master…comes Elizabeth H. Reed]

 

PDF What Is The Gospel? Harry A Ironside (1876–1951).pdf

 

Harry A Ironside (1876-1951) A sermon preached by Harry A Ironside Pastor of Moody Memorial Church, Chicago
Updated: 30 Nov 2014

 

Christian Marriage

Marriage possesses the unique feature of being an institution established by God from the very beginning of human history. God's authority is, therefore, behind the prominent place it occupies in man's social life. The first marriage was ordained in the Garden of Eden for the increase of Adam's comfort and the consummation of his bliss.

The Marriage of Adam

Adam was created in sinless perfection, and was surrounded in Eden with everything he needed for his satisfaction and delight. The whole scene, animate and inanimate, was subject to his will and pleasure; but he himself was alone, and the isolation made inevitable by his supremacy was a drawback to his perfect felicity. “And Jehovah Elohim said, It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helpmate, his like (or counterpart).”

Accordingly, the woman was formed by Divine handiwork, not from the dust of the ground as Adam had been, but out of Adam himself, so that literally the woman was bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh. Eve was the Creator's provision for Adam. Discerning the incompleteness of Adam in his solitude, God provided for him a consort designed exactly to meet his deficiencies. Accordingly, in their marriage the two became one flesh, each being the complement of the other.

The marriage of Adam is the prototype of the marriage of all his sons. In every case of true matrimony, God arranges the union. Divine wisdom observes the moment when the loneliness of the man is no longer good for him, and He provides a bride who is the complement of his nature with its personal characteristics. Adam had no choice of brides; there was but the one that would suit him, and she was prepared of God especially for him. Adam had no rivals for the possession of Eve. Nor can such a thing be imagined in Eden, where each of the two found in the other everything required to complete their enjoyment and to perfect their capacities. There was no alternative that either could have chosen or found.

The primitive marriage in Eden was remarkably simple and exclusive. Two only shared the delights of the occasion. And this mutual reserve is a character marriage still retains. In matrimony two hearts, two lives become one exclusively in each other. At every wedding a new little world is formed with a total population of two numerically, but administratively of one only. How happy the new experience, and how momentous!

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Instituted before the Fall

It is a fact of the highest significance that the marriage relationship was established between Adam and Eve while they were still in a state of innocence. At the time of their union, sin had not entered the world, nor its just penalty, death, incurred. But the entrance of sin through their disobedience did not set aside the holy character of marriage which its divine origin and sanction had originally imparted to it.

This, indeed, was the ground upon which the Lord Jesus long afterwards vindicated the primeval institution and affirmed the abiding sanctity of marriage. It was not a relationship introduced by the law of Moses, for instance; but wedlock was God's purpose for man from the very start of his history. So the Lord in replying to the cavils of the Pharisees, said to them, “Have ye not read that He Who made them, from the beginning made them male and female?” (Matt. 19:4). And had they not also read in the same connection, “And the two (man and wife) shall be one flesh”?

It is true that, having been united in wedded bonds, Adam and Eve jointly disobeyed the commandment of the Lord, and fell into and under sin. Nevertheless, the holy and divinely-sanctioned character of marriage which it received in the state of sinlessness remained after the entrance of sin. God had made the single pair, and He made them the one for the other exclusively. As our Lord said, God had joined them together by bonds that are indissoluble by man. This character of permanence attaches to marriage still, as it ever has done. In every union under divine superintendence, God binds together the two hearts and lives by a tie that none can sever.

The Human Credentials of Marriage

Another aspect of the marriage tie may now be considered. As a relationship established by God in the original circumstances of man's creation, it possesses a pure and holy character. It is obvious, however, that in Eden there were necessarily no human witnesses to the first marriage contract. But with the multiplication of the human species, there arose the necessity that each matrimonial alliance should have a propriety in the eyes of men generally, and should receive public confirmation and approval.

From the days of Noah, God set up among men forms of government for the maintenance of civil order and social well-being. The “powers that be” in the community are ordained of God, and their regulations are to be recognised and obeyed by the Christian (Rom. 13:1-7; 1 Peter 2:13, 14). It is seemly, therefore, that Christian marriage should conform to the requirements of the law of the land. Indeed, it is expressly enjoined upon the believer to “be subject unto the higher powers,” and to submit “to every ordinance of man, for the Lord's sake.” Where this is done in the case of marriage, the act of union is formally and legally recognised, and its validity established in the eyes of all men.

The Invocation of God's Blessing

The ceremony of marriage required by civil laws to bestow a wedded status upon the persons concerned is altogether distinct from the spiritual union of husband and wife which results from the exercise of God's own will and guidance upon the hearts of the same two persons. The latter is the most serious and yet the most happy side of the undertaking. For this reason, the married couple, realising the solemn nature of the initial step they have taken in the united life to which they have committed themselves, seek the fellowship and prayers of the assembly of God on their behalf. Thereby, they openly confess that in their new relationship, their joint desire is to receive divine help that they may walk together in the fear of the Lord, in obedience to His word, and in the furtherance of the glory of His name.

On the Wife's Part, Submission

In Ephesians 5:22-33, there is given to those who are married much advice, embodying the leading principles which should govern their new and peculiar relations to one another.

The injunction laid upon the wife in this passage is that of submission to her husband: “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.” This habit of feminine subjection is unpopular in this twentieth century, nevertheless the Christian wife is exhorted by the highest authority to practise it; and, however unfashionable in worldly society such obedience may be, she cannot escape her responsibility to render it as unto the Lord to Whom she is accountable for her conduct.

But the submission thus solemnly enjoined is not the blind mechanical obedience of a slave to the owner, such, for instance, as that of an Israelite to an Egyptian taskmaster. Rather is it the glad subjection which springs involuntarily from a passionate devotion to the loved one, a ready submission to the will of the beloved man, needing no compulsion, nor even prompting.

“As unto the Lord”

To a believing woman there is one authority from which there is no appeal. Hence the apostle brings the Lord Himself before the wife in the matter of her submission in her married relationship. She must submit to her own husband “as unto the Lord.”

The Lord Jesus is the pattern to all His own of that perfect obedience which is well-pleasing to God. “Though He were a Son, yet learned He obedience by the things which He suffered.” Though continually accompanied by sorrow and suffering in the course of His subjection, it was a joy to Him to obey. Our Lord ever delighted to do the will of Him Who sent Him. Love to His Father was the mainspring of everything He did as the obedient Servant. In like manner, the believing wife should in her love, devotedly fulfil the “law” of her husband.

But the injunction here is coupled with the name of the Lord, not so much as the pattern of obedience, as the One from Whom her husband's authority is derived. She is to submit to her husband “as unto the Lord.” She is exhorted to recognize the Lord Jesus behind her husband as the directing, governing authority in family life. As the “head of the woman is the man,” so the Head of every man is Christ (1 Cor. 11:3). Thus the godly decisions of the husband will express the will of the Lord for her, and to these she will render obedience with all readiness and cheerfulness. “As the church is subject unto Christ”, so will the devout Christian wife be subject to her own husband in everything (verse 24).

On the Husband's Part, Affection

As the distinguishing feature of the wife's conduct should be subjection, so that of the husband's should be love. “Husbands, love your wives.” The form in the original tongue of both exhortations to the married pair indicates that the act enjoined is to be constant and characteristic. Both the submission of the wife and the love of the husband must be a continuous habit, not an occasional occurrence.

In these guiding principles of piety in the two pillars of the home, it is significant that love is particularly enjoined upon the husband, and not, as might almost have been expected, upon the more tender and susceptible partner, the wife. The husband, therefore, needs, in entering upon his new responsibilities, to consider this distinction carefully in order to grasp the special force of the exhortation addressed to him.

It is clear that, while the wife should regard her husband as the fountain of authority in the affairs of the household and in the conduct of their joint lives, the husband in the exercise of that authority should express his advice and judgment to her in the terms of love and endearment befitting a channel of the divine will. The real unity of married life will be most fittingly displayed by this blending of authority and affection. The authority of the husband will be conveyed by the expressions of his love, and the obedience of the wife will be prompted by the impulses of her affection.

Christ's Love for the Church the Husband's Model

In this passage, the husband is instructed to regard the intimate relation of Christ to His church upon which the apostle dwells, as the model of his own relation to his wife. Two features of this relation may be mentioned specially in this connection, viz.: (1) Christ's self-sacrifice, and (2) Christ's devoted care.

In the first place, the husband is to practise his love in the form of entire self-surrender in order to secure his wife's highest welfare, for, “Christ also loved the church, and delivered Himself up for it.” The blessed Lord surrendered up Himself altogether, without reserve, to promote the best interests of His church. And this whole-hearted sacrifice to ensure the present blessing and future glory of the church of His choice is set up as the model for the husband's imitation.

In the ideal marriage of scripture, therefore, the wife becomes the enthralling object of her spouse's affection and devotion to a degree which deepens in intensity as the years pass. Self is set aside in the home-life, and he that is married is solicitous in everyday matters how he may please his wife rather than himself. And while he may forget his own little lordship in the absorbing self-sacrifice of his love, he finds that his wife does not forget his authority over her nor omit her ready obedience to him, just because he is so lavish in his love toward her.

But, secondly, the husband's love should be manifested by a continual care for the well-being of his wife. This pleasant duty is impressed upon him by the present service of the love of Christ in sanctifying and cleansing the church with the washing of water by the word (ver. 26). Whatever the behaviour of the church towards her Lord, Christ is faithful and unremitting in the activities of His love that she may be purified from everything that is inconsistent with her new status as His chosen bride and the sharer of His coming glories.

Guided by the lofty standard of Christ's concern for His church, the husband studies to promote the welfare of his wife, as his own body (ver. 28). He helps her, first of all in her spiritual life, in the exercises of worship and prayer and service in the home. He lightens her labours in household affairs, shoulders her burdens of family responsibility, shields her from anxieties and fears, comforts her in hours of sorrow, and ministers help to her weakness without telling her so. Neither will he forget to note her acts of devotion to himself in response to his love, nor to praise her many excellences, as the scripture enjoins (Prov. 31:28, 29) if he should be so negligent as to need this injunction.

Making a New Home

Another feature of pious marriage life made prominent in this passage is that matrimonial union involves the establishment of a new household. The apostle says, “Because of this a man shall leave his father and mother and shall be united to his wife, and the two shall be one flesh” (ver. 31). By entrance into the marriage relationship, two parental homes are vacated, and a new Christian home set up by the married pair.

The advantages and far-reaching influence of a truly pious dwelling-place cannot easily be over-rated. As a national feature, home life is not cultivated on scriptural lines now to the degree that it was formerly. Families thoroughly united in the bonds of piety and walking together in the fear of the Lord are not found so frequently as they should be.

It is a striking testimony to the value in the divine estimation of the home that in the scriptural history of man, family life is given precedence to national life. A great part of the Book of Genesis is devoted to the record of family life set apart in the world as a witness for the living and true God against the corrupting influence of idolatry; while national history begins in the Book of Exodus.

This form of effective witness for God is sorely needed today. And it devolves upon the newly-married couple to organize a home which shall in its primary purpose be entirely controlled by the will of the Lord. Under such management, the home will become a centre from which the light of God's truth will shine upon the darkness and ungodliness of the surrounding world. Its occupants will be recognized as the servants of Christ.

A home is not to be confused with a house. An architect plans the house, but love and order construct the home. It is important that in the new Christian home an agreed policy between husband and wife should predominate; “and they two shall be one flesh.” Particularly in things God-ward concerted action should prevail. The former spiritual habits and activities hitherto practised by each need not cease, only they may now be prayerfully pursued with the enhanced energy that concord and consultation supply to Christian service. The two happy persons will unite as they never could before in “labour for and with the Lord.” And the former effect for good and blessing will not diminish, but will rather be increased by the intimate wedded union of two hearts devoted to the Lord.

Joys Doubled

The shepherd in our Lord's parable sought in solitary places for the sheep which was lost, and his success in finding it was a joy to him. But in the loneliness of the wilderness this joy was restricted. He wanted some hearts to share his joy. And “when he cometh home”, he called his friends together, saying, “Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost”.

Home is the sphere of joy, especially of private and personal joy. The joys of married life are more than doubled in intensity just because they are shared by the two who have become one, and who are now everything to one another. Small matters bring great joys in the intimacies of home life, in which strangers may not meddle.

The daily offering of praise and thanksgiving to God, no longer strictly personal to each, has fresh fervour to which each contributes from a grateful heart. The joint prayers of husband and wife are the more powerful in their intercession, seeing they are offered from the hearts of those whom God has joined together. These devotional exercises carry with them their own peculiar and almost inexpressible joys, which are all the sweeter to the taste because they are shared together in the new home.

In service to the Lord each is strengthened by the other, and what otherwise might be lacking in either is supplied. New forms of service become possible through joint desires and efforts. When an Apollos needed instruction in the things of the Lord, the house of Aquila and Priscilla was opened to receive him; and the husband and wife united in expounding the way of God to him more perfectly (Acts 18:24-28).

They agreed to use the convenience of their house for the spiritual benefit of one who, though not lacking in zeal and ability, was immature in the faith. And the pious pair had the joy of finding that the hospitality and the Christian atmosphere of their home was turned to good account in the after-life of Apollos. The newly-married might well seek to emulate the home service of Aquila, of Gaius, and of Lydia, as recorded in the New Testament. It will be a new form of service for them, and is well within their reach.

Sorrows Halved

New homes are so bright and fresh and joyous that it may seem churlish to suggest that some day sorrow will be an uninvited visitor. But it must be so. Tribulation of some sort is inevitable in every household; but if the Lord is there, the inmates will have His peace. Dark thunder-clouds may steal across the bright blue above, but the believer knows that the sun still shines in the heavens, and that the rainbow is in the rain.

Moreover, in married life there are two hearts to bear one sorrow, and each striving to take the greater share of grief and loss. The strong man shields his partner from the impending stroke, and the loving wife hides in her bosom many a pang lest her dear man should have still more to bear. But sharing is better than concealment. Men and women are made strong in hours of sorrow by sympathy; and there is no sympathy so choice and so effective as that which dwells in the Christian home-life.

William J Hocking (1864-1953)
Updated: 16 Nov 2014

 

I know whom I have believed

I know not why God’s wondrous grace
To me He hath made known,
Nor why, unworthy, Christ in love
Redeemed me for His own.

Refrain

But I know Whom I have believèd,
And am persuaded that He is able
To keep that which I’ve committed
Unto Him against that day.

I know not how this saving faith
To me He did impart,
Nor how believing in His Word
Wrought peace within my heart.

I know not how the Spirit moves,
Convincing us of sin,
Revealing Jesus through the Word,
Creating faith in Him.

I know not what of good or ill
May be reserved for me,
Of weary ways or golden days,
Before His face I see.

I know not when my Lord may come,
At night or noonday fair,
Nor if I walk the vale with Him,
Or meet Him in the air.

Daniel Whittle Reference
Updated: 02 Nov 2014

 

I know whom I have believed

A Christian’s faith is not in faith itself, for this cannot save. A Christian knows Christ, the Son of God, and it is in Him we have faith. Paul was confident of his salvation – he knew Christ. To have faith, one needs knowledge. One can have faith in an unseen God, but we cannot have faith in one whom we have no knowledge for we read “… faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Romans 10:17)  Faith is the ‘substance’ of the thing we hope for, as the writer to the Hebrews put it (Hebrews 11:1).

Having faith in someone who may or may not fulfil his promises leads to a lack of confidence – we cannot have trust in such a person. If we are unsure that someone is able to fulfil a promise, or does not have the wherewithal to do so, or simply does not keep promises we would not trust such a person. Someone who has let us down once is difficult to trust the next time. On the other hand someone who always keeps his promises, never lets us down, has shown he is capable and has the wherewithal to do what he promises, he is the one whom we would put our trust. Christ is such a person: “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”. 1 Timothy 1:15.

Paul here is able to express exactly his trust in Christ Jesus and his explicit confidence in Him; “for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.” (2 Timothy 1:12) Paul’s life’s experience and knowledge of God (provided by the Holy Spirit) persuades him that Christ is able to do exactly what he promises, that is, Christ is able to deal with the wrath of God upon sinners, provide a propitiation for our sins (2 John 2:2, also Romans 3:25) and therefore he able to obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus (2 Timothy 2:10). Thus Paul knows that when passes from this life to the next, on death, his soul will be taken into God’s presence. He therefore is able to express confidently: “Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.” (2 Timothy 4:8).

Paul not only expresses his confidence in the Lord Jesus Christ, but acts out those expressions. Paul is in prison because he preached the gospel, and writes a letter of exhortation to his friend Timothy. The gospel is clear to him: “God ..who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began, but has now been revealed by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel,”
2 Timothy 1:9-10. Paul preaches this gospel because he knows it is true and although he may suffer a little while on this earth, far greater things awaits him – he is able to write: “there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness”.

John summed this up thus: “And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life.” 1 John 5:20

David L Simon
Updated: 02 Nov 2014

 

One-sided Theology: Calvinism and Arminianism

We have lately received a long letter, furnishing a very striking proof of the bewildering effect of one-sided theology. Our correspondent is evidently under the influence of what is styled the high school of doctrine. Hence, he cannot see the rightness of calling upon the unconverted to "come," to "hear," to "repent," or to "believe." It seems to him like telling a crab-tree to bear some apples in order that it may become an apple-tree.

Now, we thoroughly believe that faith is the gift of God, and that it is not according to man's will or by human power. And further, we believe that not a single soul would ever come to Christ if not drawn, yea, compelled by divine grace so to do; and therefore all who are saved have to thank the free and sovereign grace of God for it; their song is, and ever shall be, "Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto Thy name give glory, for Thy mercy, and for Thy truth's sake."

And this we believe not as part of a certain system of doctrine, but as the revealed truth of God. But, on the other hand, we believe, just as fully, in the solemn truth of man's moral responsibility, inasmuch as it is plainly taught in Scripture, though we do not find it amongst what are called "the five points of the faith of God's elect." We believe these five points, so far as they go; but they are very far indeed from containing the faith of God's elect. There are wide fields of divine revelation which this stunted and one-sided system does not touch upon, or even hint at, in the most remote manner. Where do we find the heavenly calling? Where, the glorious truth of the Church as the body and bride of Christ? Where, the precious sanctifying hope of the coming of Christ to receive His people to Himself? Where have we the grand scope of prophecy opened to the vision of our souls, in that which is so pompously styled "the faith of God's elect"? We look in vain for a single trace of them in the entire system to which our friend is attached.

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Now, can we suppose for a moment that the blessed apostle Paul would accept as "the faith of God's elect" a system which leaves out that glorious mystery of the Church of which he was specially made the minister? Suppose any one had shown Paul "the five points" of Calvinism, as a statement of the truth of God, what would he have said? What! "The whole truth of God;" "the faith of God's elect;" "all that is essential to be believed;" and yet not a syllable about the real position of the Church — its calling, its standing, its hopes, its privileges! And not a word about Israel's future! A complete ignoring, or at best a thorough alienation, of the promises made to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and David! The whole body of prophetic teaching subjected to a system of spiritualizing, falsely so called, whereby Israel is robbed of its proper portion, and Christians dragged down to an earthly level — and this presented to us with the lofty pretension of "The faith of God's elect!"

Thank God it is not so. He, blessed be His name, has not confined Himself within the narrow limits of any school of doctrine, high, low, or moderate. He has revealed Himself. He has told out the deep and precious secrets of His heart. He has unfolded His eternal counsels, as to the Church, as to Israel, the Gentiles, and the wide creation. Men might as well attempt to confine the ocean in buckets of their own formation as to confine the vast range of divine revelation within the feeble enclosures of human systems of doctrine. It cannot be done, and it ought not to be attempted. Better far to set aside the systems of theology and schools of divinity, and come like a little child to the eternal fountain of Holy Scripture, and there drink in the living teachings of God's Spirit.

Nothing is more damaging to the truth of God, more withering to the soul, or more subversive of all spiritual growth and progress than mere theology, high or low — Calvinistic or Arminian. It is impossible for the soul to make progress beyond the boundaries of the system to which it is attached. If I am taught to regard "the five points" as "the faith of God's elect," I shall not think of looking beyond them; and then a most glorious field of heavenly truth is shut out from the vision of my soul. I am stunted, narrowed, one-sided; and I am in danger of getting into that hard, dry state of soul which results from being occupied with mere points of doctrine instead of with Christ. A disciple of the high school of doctrine will not hear of a world-wide gospel — of God's love to the world — of glad tidings to every creature under Heaven. He has only gotten a gospel for the elect. On the other hand, a disciple of the low or Arminian school will not hear of the eternal security of God's people. Their salvation depends partly upon Christ, and partly upon themselves. According to this system, the song of the redeemed should be changed. Instead of "Worthy is the Lamb," we should have to add, "and worthy are we." We may be saved today, and lost tomorrow. All this dishonours God, and robs the Christian of all true peace.

We do not write to offend the reader. Nothing is further from our thoughts. We are dealing not with persons, but with schools of doctrine and systems of divinity which we would, most earnestly, entreat our beloved readers to abandon, at once, and for ever. Not one of them contains the full, entire truth of God. There are certain elements of truth in all of them; but the truth is often neutralized by the error; and even if we could find a system which contains, so far is it goes, nothing but the truth, yet if it does not contain the whole truth, its effect upon the soul is most pernicious, because it leads a person to plume himself on having the truth of God when, in reality, he has only laid hold of a one-sided system of man.

Then again we rarely find a mere disciple of any school of doctrine who can face scripture as a whole. Favourite texts will be quoted, and continually reiterated; but a large body of scripture is left almost wholly unappropriated. For example; take such passages as the following, "But now God commandeth all men everywhere to repent." (Acts 17:30.) And again, "Who will have all men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth." (1 Tim. 2.) So also, in 2 Peter, "The Lord .... is long-suffering to usward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance." (2 Peter 3:9.) And, in the very closing section of the volume, we read, "Whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely."

Are these passages to be taken as they stand? or are we to introduce qualifying or modifying words to make them fit in with our system? The fact is, they set forth the largeness of the heart of God, the gracious activities of His nature, the wide aspect of His love. It is not according to the loving heart of God that any of His creatures should perish. There is no such thing set forth in scripture as any decree of God consigning a certain number of the human race to eternal damnation. Some may be judicially given over to blindness because of deliberate rejection of the light. (See Rom. 9:17; Heb. 6:4-6; 10:26, 27; 2 Thess. 2:11, 12; 1 Peter 2:8.) All who perish will have only themselves to blame. All who reach heaven will have to thank God.

If we are to be taught by scripture we must believe that every man is responsible according to his light. The Gentile is responsible to listen to the voice of creation. The Jew is responsible on the ground of the law. Christendom is responsible on the ground of the full-orbed revelation contained in the whole word of God. If God commands all men, everywhere to repent, does He mean what He says, or merely all the elect? What right have we to add to, or alter, to pare down, or to accommodate the word of God? None whatever. Let us face scripture as it stands, and reject everything which will not stand the test. We may well call in question the soundness of a system which cannot meet the full force of the word of God as a whole. If passages of scripture seem to clash, it is only because of our ignorance. Let us humbly own this, and wait on God for further light. This, we may depend upon it, is safe moral ground to occupy. Instead of endeavouring to reconcile apparent discrepancies, let us bow at the Master's feet and justify Him in all His sayings. Thus shall we reap a harvest of blessing and grow in the knowledge of God and His word as a whole.

A few days since, a friend put into our hands a sermon recently preached by an eminent clergyman belonging to the high school of doctrine. We have found in this sermon, quite as much as in the letter of our American correspondent, the effects of one-sided theology. For instance, in referring to that magnificent statement of the Baptist in John 1:29, the preacher quotes it thus, "The Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the whole world of God's chosen people."

Reader, think of this. "The world of God's chosen people!" There is not a word about people in the passage. It refers to the great propitiatory work of Christ, in virtue of which every trace of sin shall yet be obliterated from the wide creation of God. We shall only see the full application of that blessed scripture in the new heavens and the new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness. To confine it to the sin of God's elect can only be viewed as the fruit of theological bias. There is no such expression in scripture as "Taking away the sin of God's elect." Whenever God's people are referred to we have the bearing of sins — the propitiation for our sins — the forgiveness of sins. Scripture never confounds these things; and nothing can be more important for our souls than to be exclusively taught by scripture itself, and not by the warping, stunting, withering dogmas of one-sided theology.

We sometimes hear John 1:29 quoted, or rather misquoted by disciples of the low school of doctrine in this way, "The Lamb of God which taketh away the sins of the world." If this were so, no one could ever be lost. Such a statement would furnish a basis for the terrible heresy of universal salvation. The same may be said of the rendering of 1 John 2:2, "The sins of the whole world." This is not scripture but fatally false doctrine, which we doubt not our translators would have repudiated as strongly as any. Whenever the word "sins" occurs, it refers to persons. Christ is a propitiation for the whole world. He was the substitute for His people.

NOTE It is deeply interesting to mark the way in which scripture guards against the repulsive doctrine of reprobation. Look, for example, at Matthew 25:34. Here, the King, in addressing those on His right hand, says, "Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world." Contrast with this the address to those on his left hand: "Depart from me ye cursed [He does not say 'of my Father'] into everlasting fire, prepared [not for you, but]for the devil and his angels." So also, in Romans 9. In speaking of the "vessels of wrath," He says "fitted to destruction" — fitted not by God surely, but by themselves. On the other hand, when He speaks of the "vessels of mercy," he says, "which He had afore prepared unto glory." The grand truth of election is fully established; the repulsive error of reprobation, sedulously avoided.

 

C H M Mackintosh
Updated: 26 Oct 2014

 

I serve a living saviour

I serve a risen Savior, He's in the world today;
I know that He is living, whatever men may say;
I see His hand of mercy, I hear His voice of cheer,
And just the time I need Him He's always near.

Chorus:
He lives, He lives, Christ Jesus lives today!
He walks with me and talks with me along life's narrow way.
He lives, He lives, salvation to impart!
You ask me how I know He lives?
He lives within my heart.

In all the world around me I see His loving care,
And tho' my heart grows weary, I never will despair;
I know that He is leading thro' all the stormy blast,
The day of His appearing will come at last. (Chorus)

Rejoice, rejoice, O Christian, lift up your voice and sing
Eternal hallelujahs to Jesus Christ the King!
The Hope of all who seek Him, the Help of all who find,
None other is so loving, so good and kind. (Chorus)

Alfred H Ackley (1887-1960)
Updated: 26 Oct 2014

 

Application of Old Testement Prophecy to the Church

There will be no lasting peace on earth until God openly take up the reins of government; in that day He will set up a throne of righteousness on which the Son of Man shall sit and rule over all nations. The present state of the world is not an adequate witness of God's active government; for the moment He remains apparently silent. What would happen to those who give Him no place in their thoughts and ways if He were to make His presence fully known as a judge and ruler? If He were to appear in judgment, He would, deal with the evil so evident on every hand and put it out of the world.

Even now there are certain infallible consequences attached to behaviour as effects follow the cause, “For whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap” (Galatians 6: 7). But the day is coming when sin will not be allowed, the hand of divine authority will be seen and recognized, and the evil-doer will be quickly cut (Isaiah 55: 20).

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Meanwhile the providential government of God goes on in the world whatever outward appearances may be; every hair of our head is numbered, and not a sparrow falls to the ground without the Father's knowledge. Providence is a concealed form of God's government, but a day is coming when He will govern the world openly and directly by Christ. In the past Israel was the centre of His authority on earth, but because of their failure to walk in the law of Jehovah, which was the expression of the terms of His government, the throne of Jehovah was removed from Jerusalem; and Israel became a captive to the Gentile powers raised up as chastening rods of judgment. In the mind of God Israel ever remains the centre of His public earthly dealings. All Israel will again be restored to the land of their inheritance through the mercy of God, according to His unconditional promise made to Abraham, and confirmed to his Seed, of which Isaac as one given back from death was a type. The Jews will first return, for they, were the people who joined hands with the Gentile power to reject and crucify the Messiah when He came to His own, and to them He will appear that they may be the first to repent and not lose their place amongst the tribes (Zechariah12: 7). Then the ten tribes will be gathered and the LORD will reign in Zion and govern the earth from amidst His people.

Prophecy is not occupied with providence, in which the ordering of the divine will is secretly brought to pass; but it speaks of the direct government of God in His immediate dealings with men on the earth with reference to their conduct, and His direct interference in human affairs revealing His ways on earth. The Jews are the central point of His displayed government on earth, and the Gentiles have their place in connection with God's ways as they have to do with God's people.

God is not now governing the world in a manner that all may learn His ways from the outward course of events. His providence governs everything, but the day is coming when His King will reign in righteousness and He will openly manifest His presence by His judgments, and right will receive its just recompense. At the moment, while Christ is sitting at the right hand of the Majesty on high, God is gathering out a people for heaven to reign with Christ, and to be joint-heirs with Him; in the meantime they are joint-sufferers.

The Church is not the subject of prophecy; it is given the light of prophecy, so that it will know what is coming upon the    world when God rises up in judgment to remove from His sight those whom He judges, and bring His earthly people into full blessing. The Church belongs to heaven; it is the body of Christ while He is seated there. A picture of the Church as a body in its external and active life in the world, covering the whole period of its history down here, is given in the book of Revelation. In divine wisdom seven assemblies are selected, and these serve to present a complete view of the moral character of the state into which the body on earth would successively fall. The moral judgment of the Lord is pressed on them, for what He judges cannot be in any way as His heavenly body. The Church, will never be set up on earth by the government of God to reign in peace. When Christ reigns the Church will sit with Him in His throne and reign with Him from above. Those who make Christ their confession will have to leave all that is in the world or perish with it. Christians must sooner or later give it up, and they may do so as taught by God in the truth, doing it with joy in the sense of His grace in Christ, or they will know the pain of broken ties that hold them bound to the earth. Grace working in the heart will make the feet willing to turn from, and flee the scene of coming judgment; if the heart is not free from the world, judgment will compel the break.

In New Testament prophecy judgment is pronounced against that which has taken the name of the Church, but which has the character of Babylon, and is the power of evil in the world. The Church proper belongs to heaven and will be taken away to heaven to be with Christ before the day of judgment.

The apostle Paul was given the revelation of the Church in its heavenly relationship with Christ in present spiritual union, and he does not speak of believers going to heaven, but of going to be with Christ. He speaks of the Church's heavenly calling; and by the Spirit says that believers are blessed with every spiritual blessing in heavenly places in Christ; and adds that their present conflict is against spiritual wickednesses in the heavenlies. He lived morally in the new creation, and waited “to be clothed upon with our house from heaven”: so much did his mind already live in heaven.

The scene of God’s government is the earth, and prophecy is the expression of God's politics with regard to it. Israel is the pivot on which revolves His whole earthly system of government. When God begins to separate His people from among the nations, and judge them for their departure from Him, and also for their allegiance which they give to the Antichrist—the false Christ who will arise amount them in the last days—He then looks on all the nations and brings them into the land for judgment.

Christians have grown familiar with the prophecies which speak of the times of the Gentiles, which began when Jerusalem ceased to be the centre of Jehovah's government as it was in Old Testament times. After the failure of the house of David, the glory left Jerusalem ( Ezekiel 11), and God ceased to exercise sovereign power on earth; He gave it into the hands of the Gentiles, king Nebuchadnezzar being raised up by God to hold the world in subjection. The imperial system was to run its course, and God, who knows the end from the beginning, foretells its breakdown and ultimate apostate state, which brings down upon the whole system the wrath, and judgment of heaven. The Roman Empire was the last of the four empires of which Daniel speaks; and both Daniel in the Old Testament, and the book of Revelation in the New, give details of the rise and fall of the last form of Rome in its apostate character, allied with the Antichrist who leads Jewry at the end. The Church began its history on earth in the early days of Rome’s imperial power, and it will be taken away from the scene of coming judgment just a few years before the final destruction of “that great city, which reigneth over the kings of the earth” (Revelation 17: 18), and which has earned for itself the name of Babylon because of its religious corruption.

There are two divisions of prophecy, one that deals with Israel when owned of God, and the other when Israel is no longer owned as “My people”, and even the last tribe—Judah with its capital Jerusalem is in captivity to a Gentile power. There are two classes of enemies of Israel mentioned in these two divisions of prophecy. The prophecies addressed to Israel when owned of God, speak of one class of enemies; those spoken by the prophets of Judah, prophesying of the time when Jerusalem would be taken, and God's government no longer for the present be seen in the midst of the Jews, indicate quite another enemy.

Daniel in the Old Testament, and the book of Revelation in the New, together give the complete history in prophecy of the Gentile empires, to which was confided sovereign power during the period known as “the times of the Gentiles”, when Israel, including those called Jews, are not owned by God as “My people”. (See Hosea chapters 1 and 2). They will not again be publicly owned until the last form of Gentile imperial power is broken and destroyed for ever. Providentially the Jews have been preserved and are to-day coming into the forefront of world news; the nation is stirring, but nothing that is taking place to-day is a witness to the open government of God on earth. Much that is going on is godless and destructive. Only when His people are repentant through grace, and the enemies of Christ are made His footstool, will He introduce His reign of righteousness and peace will pervade the earth.

Frederick A Blair An Exposition on Nahum (see this website for whole book)
Updated: 10 Aug 2014

 

Is Israel Rejected?

The question not asked by the modern church, was asked by the early church – is Israel rejected? The answer is very important, as it sets out the answer to the most important question of Romans – how is one imputed righteousness by grace alone? That is, Paul in chapters 9-11 of Romans, (forgotten by most Christians today), demonstrates that God is trustworthy in his promises. These chapters are a defence of God’s sovereignty. That is, if the sovereign God promises to save Christians based on his mercy and grace towards us (Romans 3:23-25), is this a trustworthy promise? It appears Israel has been abandoned – so are the promises to Abraham not going to be fulfilled, and if these aren’t going to be fulfilled, what hope do we have of God’s promise to us – “believe on me and you will be saved”?

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The answer to "Is Israel rejected?" is NO! Indeed the Greek is emphatic: μὴ γένοιτο and usually transliterated as “God Forbid”. John Darby writes: “Hereupon the question is immediately raised, has God then rejected His people? To this Chapter 11 is the answer. The apostle gives three proofs that it is by no means the case.

  1. Firstly, he is himself is an Israelite; [proving] there is a remnant whom God has reserved, as in the days of [Elijah] — a proof of the constant favour of the Lord, of the interest He takes in His people, even when they are unfaithful; so that when the prophet, the most faithful and energetic among them, knew not where to find one who was true to God besides himself, God had His eyes upon the remnant who had not bowed the knee to Baal.
  2. Secondly, the call of the Gentiles, and their substitution for Israel, was not the definitive rejection of the latter in the counsels of God; for God had done it to provoke Israel to jealousy. It was not, then, for their rejection.
  3. Thirdly, the Lord would come forth out of Zion and turn away the iniquities of Jacob” (Romans, JN Darby).

What is Paul saying?

  1. If Israel was cast off or put aside by God for ever, Paul could not possibly have saved, being a Jew of the Jews, persecuting those saved; yet he was miraculously saved.
  2. As in the days of Elijah, so today [2014] there is exists a remnant of saved Jews, who have believe Jesua is the Son of God. We often get into a state believing we are the only righteous in a church, community or town, yet God always has a remnant. We may not see them, but they exist and are working. There is a remnant in Israel – hard to see – but present. (Noting that most of the nation of Israel are unbelievers).
  3. God’s call to the Gentiles is not a rejection of Israel, but a method to provoke Israel to action, through jealousy (Romans 11:14). Seeing the blessings of the Gentiles, some Israel will respond, and put their faith in Jesus Christ, the Messiah.
  4. The deliver would come from Zion (Jerusalem) which surely happened. Peter spoke of this in Acts 2, and the remnant (3000) went out to evangelise the world. "Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ." Acts 2:36

Note the failure of Israel was due to ‘lack of knowledge’. Paul uses repetitively the phrase ‘do you not know’ what the Scripture says. The question I ask you is: do you know the Bible?

  • Those that believe the Church is Israel have this problem. The Church is not Israel; God’s promises to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob will be fulfilled.
  • Those who want to add works to the grace afforded to them by God have this problem. We are saved by grace ONLY through faith. Righteousness cannot be gained by anything a human can do – we can never do enough perfectly to reach the standard required by God. Indeed working for righteousness is accounted as a debt not credit!
  • Those that reject God have this problem: the wages of sin is death.

Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, Whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man to whom the LORD does not impute iniquity, And in whose spirit there is no deceit. Psalm of David 32:1-2

David L Simon
Updated: 13 Jul 2014

 

Do not worry about tomorrow

Do we worry about tomorrow? Jesus stated: “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” [Matthew 6:34]. One glance at the news bulletin either on TV or internet one could be mistaken in believing that this verse does to belong to our time. Putting aside the violent attacks on marriage and those married, along with violence against those that believe sex belongs only to the estate of marriage (and therefore only between one man and one woman) as the Bible commands, the corruption wherever we turn let alone the abject greed of our society, willing to place out great grandchildren into debt for a few pleasures today; and along with in evitable crash of the Australian economy built on the presumption that greed is good – where commodities are purchased and discarded with total disregard to the economic and environmental costs to this and the next generation – putting this to one side - we look with utter horror of the violence (the horror more pungent, since the advent of the internet) in Africa, the Middle East and much of south east Asia[1].

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Materially, socially and politically the west is where everyone wants to be – but for those with any spiritual discernment, the west is absolutely spiritually dead. It has completely replaced a relationship with God (and indeed any god) with a relationship composed of pleasure and material wealth. The former is fleeting, the latter, is discarded as rapidly as the new model is produced.[2] God stated: “So I gave them up unto their own hearts' lust: and they walked in their own counsels.” [Psalms 81:12]. This being reason why the world is in such a mess.

The backdrop to this is the abject cruelty of man being played out, yet again, in the theatre of community – and also yet again it is men and not women, and it is not soldiers but evil men of a regime that cares nothing for life (of a religion that does not acknowledge love, but built from the very beginning on violence). And it’s not a theatre of war, but the ordinary streets and fields of Iraq. And yet we westerners are very quick to forget the same atrocities were played out by ‘decent and civilized’ men in Warsaw, to name but one place of the holocaust, which took place in our parent’s life-time. It has also been played out in Russia, China and Rwanda to name a few in recent times. Yet for a Christian none of this should be surprising. One only needs to read the Bible to understand that "the heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it? (Jeremiah 17:9). The same awful things we see on our internet were played out in the land of Canaan some 2500 years ago, by those who knew but rejected God and who swapped the truth for a lie.

For a safe and functional civic society, two rules must be obeyed: The community must love the Lord God Most High (with all the understanding, with all the soul, and with all the strength), and each must love one’s neighbour as one’s self. These are the golden rules that Jesus Christ, the son of God gave. This of course requires the acknowledgement of God; which is not going to happen – the purpose of Darwin’s theory was to provide the world with an acceptable framework in order to create a philosophy that did not need to acknowledge God, and in particular Yewah. This was forewarned more than 3000 years ago: as the Psalmist writes, in recording a conversation between the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit: “Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed [Psalms 2:1-2].

The civil war in Syria, Iraq, Somalia, the Sudan, and Nigeria etc. is against the Lord God Most High; being played out in the name of religion. In every single case, there is no acknowledgement of the Holy One. This will however come, but it will take the coming of the Judge to reveal the hearts of people for what they are, and those who have (note the tense) rejected the Son of God will be thrown into hell, that is, cast into outer darkness in a place called hell where “there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth” [Matthew 25:30].

I draw your attention to the tense – to be saved from the coming wrath of God, who will come to deal with the greed of the west, the abject cruelty and lack of acknowledgement of Yewah and His Son by Islam and the wickedness of all men who reject the Lord Jesus Christ the Messiah, we must acknowledge that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, now, before it is too late: “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” [Romans 10:9]. The offer of salvation by Jesus Christ is time limited – eventually (and soon, I believe) God will withdraw the offer and punish those who have refused it.

I am saved: I know this and am certain of this – indeed guaranteed of this (something no other religion can boast), and therefore I have no need to worry about tomorrow. Tomorrow is but an infinitesimal portion of time – those that are saved from the coming wrath of God are assured of heaven, so what happens materially in the coming 24 hours is nothing compared with the eternity with God the Father. Furthermore, God the Father, although surely pained by the abject spiritual poverty of the world, will give strength to all who love Him to get through the next 24 hours – He might not take away the pain, nor the suffering (the sin of man assures us of suffering), and noting “indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” [2 Timothy 3:12] - but like a true father, He will walk the next 24 hours with me and you, if you let him, each step of the way.

Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. Matthew 6:34

A hymn I heard a few moments ago gives refreshing hope for the next 24 hours

There’s Not A Friend Like The Lowly Jesus

There’s not a Friend like the lowly Jesus:
No, not one! no, not one!
None else could heal all our souls’ diseases:
No, not one! no, not one!

Refrain:

Jesus knows all about our struggles;
He will guide ’til the day is done:
There’s not a Friend like the lowly Jesus:
No, not one! no, not one!

No friend like Him is so high and holy,
No, not one! no, not one!
And yet no friend is so meek and lowly,
No, not one! no, not one!

There’s not an hour that He is not near us,
No, not one! no, not one!
No night so dark, but His love can cheer us,
No, not one! no, not one!

Did ever saint find this Friend forsake him?
No, not one! no, not one!
Or sinner find that He would not take him?
No, not one! no, not one!

Was e’er a gift like the Saviour given?
No, not one! no, not one!
Will He refuse us the bliss of heaven?
No, not one! no, not one!

Johnson Oatman (1856-1922)


[1] The posturing by Russia is not part of the same agitation found in the equatorial belt, the latter being peculiar to Islam, the former to Russia – both situations however are spoken of in the Bible.

[2] As an aside, it is noted the latter is not possible when our debts become too burdensome – the cost of housing has consumed the ability of Australians to purchase and discard motor vehicles in the way they do with mobile phones, leading to a crash and total demise of the motorcar industry in the country – structured in a way that relied on the cycle of purchase and casting off in order to keep up with fashion. As a scientist familiar with dynamics, I believe our economy is incredibly unstable, and chaotic – and only by the grace of God has Australia circumvented, till now, the woes of the 2008 crisis.

David L Simon
Updated: 22 Jun 2014

 

Only Belief in Jesus Christ can Save

Jesus answered them and said, "Most assuredly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled. Do not labour for the food which perishes [and you need this bread every day], but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal on Him." Then they said to Him, "What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?" Jesus answered and said to them, "This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent. [that is there is nothing you can do]" John 6:26-29

For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day." John 6:40

Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. "If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; and from now on you know Him and have seen Him." John 14:6-7

Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved." Acts 4:12

Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; Philippians 3:8-9

But these [book of John] are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His.

ταῦτα δὲ γέγραπται ἵνα πιστεύσητε ὅτι ᾿Ιησοῦς ἐστιν ὁ Χριστὸς ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ Θεοῦ, καὶ ἵνα πιστεύοντες ζωὴν ἔχητε ἐν τῷ ὀνόματι αὐτοῦ.

David L Simon
Updated: 15 Jun 2014

 

Jesus meets a Samaritan Woman by the well

And now Jesus, being driven away by the jealousy of the Jews, begins His ministry outside that people, while still acknowledging their true position in the dealings of God. He goes away into Galilee; but His road led Him by Samaria, in which dwelt a mingled race of strangers and of Israel — a race who had forsaken the idolatry of the strangers, but who, while following the law of Moses and calling themselves by the name of Jacob, had set up a worship of their own at Gerizim. Jesus does not enter the town. Being weary He sits down outside the town on the brink of the well — for He must needs go that way; but this necessity was an occasion for the acting of that divine grace which was in the fulness of His Person, and which overflowed the narrow limits of Judaism.

There are some preliminary details to remark before entering on the subject of this chapter. Jesus did not Himself baptise, for He knew the whole extent of the counsels of God in grace, the true object of His coming. He could not bind souls by baptism to a living Christ. The disciples were right in so doing. They had so to receive Christ. It was faith on their part.

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When rejected by the Jews, the Lord does not contend. He leaves them; and, coming to Sychar, He found Himself in the most interesting associations as regards the history of Israel, but in Samaria: sad testimony of Israel's ruin. Jacob's well was in the hands of people who called themselves of Israel, but the greater part of whom were not so, and who worshipped they knew not what, although pretending to be of the stock of Israel. Those who were really Jews had driven away the Messiah by their jealousy. He — a man despised by the people — had gone away from among them. We see Him sharing the sufferings of humanity, and, weary with His journey, finding only the side of a well on which to rest at noon. He contents Himself with it. He seeks nothing but the will of His God: it brought Him thither. The disciples were away; and God brought thither at that unusual hour a woman by herself. It was not the hour at which women went out to draw water; but, in the ordering of God, a poor sinful woman and the Judge of quick and dead thus met together.

The Lord, weary and thirsty, had no means even to quench His thirst. He is dependent as man, on this poor woman to have a little water for His thirst. He asks it of her. The woman, seeing that He is a Jew, is surprised; and now the divine scene unfolds itself, in which the heart of the Saviour, rejected by men and oppressed by the unbelief of His people, opens to let that fulness of grace flow out which finds its occasion in the necessities and not in the righteousness of men. Now this grace did not limit itself to the rights of Israel, nor lend itself to national jealousy. It was a question of the gift of God, of God Himself who was there in grace, and of God come down so low, that, being born among His people, He was dependent, as to His human position, on a Samaritan woman for a drop of water to quench His thirst. "If thou knewest the gift of God, and [not, who I am, but] who it is that saith unto thee, Give me to drink"; that is to say, If thou hadst known that God gives freely, and the glory of His Person who was there, and how deeply He had humbled Himself, His love would have been revealed to thy heart, and would have filled it with perfect confidence, in regard even to the wants which a grace like this would have awakened in thy heart. "Thou wouldest have asked," said the divine Saviour, "and he would have given thee" the living water that springeth up into everlasting life. Such is the heavenly fruit of the mission of Christ, wherever He is received.

His heart lays it open (it was revealing Himself), pours it out into the heart of one who was its object; consoling itself for the unbelief of the Jews (rejecting the end of promise) by presenting the true consolation of grace to the misery that needed it. This is the true comfort of love, which is pained when unable to act. The floodgates of grace are lifted up by the misery which that grace waters. He makes manifest that which God is in grace; and the God of grace was there. Alas! the heart of man, withered up and selfish, and pre-occupied with its own miseries (the fruits of sin), cannot at all understand this. The woman sees something extraordinary in Jesus; she is curious to know what it means — is struck with His manner, so that she has a measure of faith in His words; but her desires are limited to the relief of the toils of her sorrowful life, in which an ardent heart found no answer to the misery it had acquired for its portion through sin.

A few words on the character of this woman. I believe the Lord would shew that there is need, that the fields were ready for the harvest; and that if the wretched self-righteousness of the Jews rejected Him, the stream of grace would find its channel elsewhere, God having prepared hearts to hail it with joy and thanksgiving, because it answered their misery and need — not the righteous. The channel of grace was dug by the need and the misery which the grace itself caused to be felt.

J N Darby John 4:9-14
Updated: 18 May 2014

 

What is the Cross of Christ all About?

The deepest note of the Cross is not what our Lord suffered as seeing the sin and degradation of men, great as that was, but what He suffered in His own person at the hands of a holy God when, to accomplish propitiation (which means "God, be merciful to me a sinner" (Luke 18: 13) ed.), "His soul" was made "an offering for sin." He saw indeed how men opposed the light He brought and ruined themselves, but far beyond that. He "poured out His soul unto death. He was numbered with the transgressors and He bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors." THAT IS THE CROSS.

F B Hole Scripture Truth, 1916, Vol. 8.
Updated: 02 May 2014

 

Jesus Christ our Saviour and Redeemer

I, even I, am the Lord, And besides Me there is no saviour. (Isaiah 43:11)

And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Saviour of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. (1 John 4:14 ESV)

 

Introduction

We note four things:

  1. There is one God. He is the Lord God Jehovah who is also called The Lord God Saves . If you are a Jew, His name is I Am . If you are not a Jew, “He is the God who made the world and everything in it”: He is the Lord of heaven and earth.
  2. God is Holy: And Moses said to Aaron, “This is what the Lord spoke, saying: ‘By those who come near Me I must be regarded as holy; And before all the people I must be glorified.'” Leviticus 10:3 (NKJV)
  3. Adam (and Eve) sinned and from this everyone has sinned, even the most holy pious person.
  4. The punishment for Sin is death: for the wages of sin is death. God demands holiness.

There is need of salvation

Hence we have a problem: All of humanity was destined for death after Adam sinned. The hardest thing for any person to accept is that there is nothing good whatsoever in him or her. That is if we compare ourselves with God, His glory would so overwhelm us that we would die looking at Him.

  1. The Old Testament shows the principle of the acceptable method to deal with sin.
  2. The Bible teaches that sin cannot be glossed over: God has to deal with it because he is holy.
  3. Once you have sinned you have been stained for ever: stained by corrupt flesh as the book of Jude put it. Hence sin must be dealt with; both intentional sin and un-intentional sin.
  4. Sin can only be dealt with by the shedding of blood.

And according to the law almost all things are purified with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no remission. Hebrews 9:22 (NKJV)

Satan's biggest lie these days is the notion that there is no here-after: that at death we are turned into dust. Yet we all have souls – the very nature of each one us resides in the soul. At death your soul (that is the bit this is really you) is either lost to an eternity separated from God, or saved:

.. cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth.” Matthew 13:50 (NKJV)

God came in the flesh

Human's required a sacrifice that could be the substitute for himself. This was Jesus Christ, God in the flesh.

If God became flesh, there are some very special characteristics about Him. We are not left in the dark concerning his nature and character: in the old testament there are at least two, if not three characters what are types of Christ: these are shadows of what and who the Messiah actually was , but nevertheless gives us evidence of the character of the person of Jesus

God came in the flesh as the Son

God was manifested in the flesh (KJV) or He appeared in a body, (NIV)

  1. Jesus is the Son of God
  2. Jesus Christ is the Messiah
  3. Jesus is God who came in flesh. (we will know He came and was crucified because He still bares the marks of the Cross - see The Revelation))
  4. Jesus Christ the Messiah came to save us from our sins
  5. He redeemed us from the curse of the law, which we could never keep
  6. He has died for our sin, and hence if will allow him to bear our punishment we are saved.
  7. Jesus Christ the risen Son of God is acting as our mediator between us and God, if you accept him as our mediator

 Salvation is only in Jesus

Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:12 (NKJV)

But there is a hope in Christ Jesus. No-one need fall into the clutches of hell. Hell was built for Satan and his angels, not humans – but billions will be cast into hell because they have rejected the Lord God Jehovah (Yahweh).

  • You need to submit: if you rule your life you have no hope, because a ruler of his own life must provide the means to deal with sin, and the wages of sin is death.
  • You need to accept the Lord Jesus Christ as the Son of God.
  • You need to let Christ rule your life – because as rule he provides, through his own suffering, the passage to salvation.

 

For to this end Christ died and rose and lived again, that He might be Lord of [rule over] both the dead and the living. Romans 14:9 (NKJV)

What must I do to be saved?

So they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.” Acts 16:31 (NKJV)

If you are saved

and He [Christ] died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again. 2 Corinthians 5:15 (NKJV)

Jesus Christ Our Saviour

David L Simon
Updated: 21 Dec 2013

 

Landmarks and Stumblingblocks: The Doctrine of Election Misplaced

I found this very helpful from CH Mackintosh in explaining where election belonged and how it was executed.

"Thou shalt not remove thy neighbour's landmark, which they of old have set in thine inheritance." (Deut. 19:14)

"Take up the stumblingblock out of the way of My people." (Isa. 57:14)

What tender care, what gracious considerateness, breathe in the above passages! The ancient landmarks were not to be removed; but the stumblingblocks were to be taken up. The inheritance of God's people was to stand entire and unchanged, while the stumblingblocks were to be sedulously removed out of their pathway. Such was the grace and care of God for His people! The portion which God had given to each was to be enjoyed, while, at the same time, the path in which each was called to walk should be kept free from every occasion of stumbling.

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Now, judging from recent communications, we believe we are called upon to give attention to the spirit of those ancient enactments. Some of our friends have, in their letters to us, opened their minds very freely as to their spiritual condition. They have told us of their doubts and fears, their difficulties and dangers, their conflicts and exercises. We are truly grateful for such confidence; and it is our earnest desire to be used of God to help our readers by pointing out the landmarks which He, by His Spirit, has set up, and thus remove the stumblingblocks which the enemy diligently flings in their path.

In pondering the cases which have lately been submitted to us, we have found some in which the enemy was manifestly using as a stumblingblock the doctrine of election misplaced. The doctrine of election, in its right place, instead of being a stumblingblock in the pathway of anxious inquirers, will be found to be a landmark set by them of old time, even by the inspired apostles of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, in the inheritance of God's spiritual Israel.

But we all know that misplaced truth is more dangerous than positive error. If a man were to stand up, and boldly declare that the doctrine of election is false, we should without hesitation reject his words; but we might not be quite so well prepared to meet one who, while admitting the doctrine to be true and important, puts it out of its divinely appointed place. This latter is the very thing which is so constantly done, to the damaging of the truth of God, and the darkening of the souls of men.

What, then, is the true place of the doctrine of election? Its true, its divinely appointed place, is for those within the house — for the establishment of true believers. Instead of this, the enemy puts it outside the house, for the stumbling of anxious inquirers. Hearken to the following language of a deeply exercised soul: "If I only knew that I was one of the elect I should be quite happy, inasmuch as I could then confidently apply to myself the benefits of the death of Christ."

Doubtless, this would be the language of many, were they only to tell out the feelings of their hearts. They are making a wrong use of the doctrine of election — a doctrine blessedly true in itself — a most valuable "landmark," but made a "stumblingblock" by the enemy. It is very needful for the anxious inquirer to bear in mind that it is as a lost sinner, and not as "one of the elect," that he can apply to himself the benefits of the death of Christ.

The proper stand-point from which to get a saving view of the death of Christ is not election, but the consciousness of our ruin. This is an unspeakable mercy, inasmuch as I know I am a lost sinner; but I do not know that I am one of the elect, until I have received, through the Spirit's testimony and teaching, the glad tidings of salvation through the blood of the Lamb. Salvation —  free as the sunbeams, full as the ocean, permanent as the throne of the eternal God —  is preached to me, not as one of the elect, but as one utterly lost, guilty, and undone; and when I have received this salvation there is conclusive evidence of my election.

"Knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God; for our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance." (1 Thess. 1:4-5) Election is not my warrant for accepting salvation; but the reception of salvation is the proof of election. For how is any sinner to know that he is one of the elect? Where is he to find it? It must be a matter of divine revelation, else it cannot be a matter of faith. But where is it revealed? Where is the knowledge of election made an indispensable prerequisite, an essential preliminary, to the acceptance of salvation? Nowhere, in the Word of God. My only title to salvation is, that I am a poor guilty, hell-deserving sinner. If I wait for any other title, I am only removing a most valuable landmark from its proper place, and putting it as a stumblingblock in my way. This, to say the least of it, is very unwise.

But it is more than unwise. It is positive opposition to the Word of God; not only to the quotations which stand at the head of this paper, but to the spirit and teaching of the entire volume. Hearken to the risen Saviour's commission to His first heralds: "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature." (Mark 16:15) Is there so much as a single point, in these words, on which to base a question about election? Is any one, to whom this glorious gospel is preached, called to settle a prior question about his election? Assuredly not.

"All the world" and "every creature" are expressions which set aside every difficulty, and render salvation as free as the air, and as wide as the human family. It is not said, "Go ye into a given section of the world, and preach the gospel to a certain number." No; this would not be in keeping with that grace which was to be proclaimed to the wide, wide world. When the law was in question, it was addressed to a certain number, in a given section; but when the gospel was to be proclaimed, its mighty range was to be, "All the world," and its object, "Every creature."

Again, hear what the Holy Ghost saith, by the apostle Paul: "This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners." (1 Tim. 1:15) Is there any room here for raising a question as to one's title to salvation? None whatever. If Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, and if I am a sinner, then I am entitled to apply to my own soul the benefits of His precious sacrifice. Ere I can possibly exclude myself therefrom I must be something else than a sinner. If it were anywhere declared in Scripture that Christ Jesus came to save only the elect, then clearly I should, in some way or another, prove myself one of that number, ere I could make my own the benefits of His death. But, thanks be to God, there is nothing the least like this in the whole gospel scheme.

"The Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost." (Luke 19:10) And is not that just what I am? Truly so. Well then, is it not from the standpoint of a lost one that I am to look at the death of Christ? Doubtless. And can I not, while contemplating that precious mystery from thence, adopt the language of faith, and say, "He loved me, and gave Himself for me"? Yes, as unreservedly and unconditionally as though I were the only sinner on the surface of the globe.

Nothing can be more soothing and tranquillising to the spirit of an anxious inquirer than to mark the way in which salvation is brought to him in the very condition in which he is, and on the very ground which he occupies. There is not so much as a single stumblingblock along the entire path leading to the glorious inheritance of the saints — an inheritance settled by landmarks which neither men nor devils can ever remove.

The God of all grace has left nothing undone, nothing unsaid, which could possibly give rest, assurance, and perfect satisfaction to the soul. He has set forth the very condition and character of those for whom Christ died, in such terms as to leave no room for any demur or hesitation. Listen to the following glowing words: "For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly." "But God commendeth His love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." "For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son," etc. (Rom. 5:6, 8, 10)

Can anything be plainer or more pointed than these passages? Is there a single term made use of which could possibly raise a question in the heart of any sinner as to his full and undisputed title to the benefits of the death of Christ? Not one. Am I "ungodly?" It was for such Christ died. Am I "a sinner?" It is to such that God commendeth His love. Am I "an enemy?" It is such God reconciles by the death of His Son.

Thus all is made as plain as a sunbeam; and as for the theological stumblingblock caused by misplacing the doctrine of election, it is entirely removed. It is as a sinner I get the benefit of Christ's death. It is as a lost one I get a salvation which is as free as it is permanent, and as permanent as it is free. All I want, in order to apply to myself the value of the blood of Jesus, is to know myself a guilty sinner. It would not help me the least in this matter to be told that I am one of the elect, inasmuch as it is not in that character God addresses me in the gospel, but in another character altogether, even as a lost sinner.

But then, some may feel disposed to ask, "Do you want to set aside the doctrine of election?" God forbid. We only want to see it in its right place. We want it as a landmark, not as a stumblingblock. We believe the evangelist has no business to preach election. Paul never preached election. He taught election, but he preached Christ. This makes all the difference. We believe that no one can be a proper evangelist who is, in any wise, hampered by the doctrine of election misplaced. We have seen serious damage done to two classes of people by preaching election instead of preaching Christ. Careless sinners are made more careless still, while anxious souls have had their anxiety intensified.

These, surely, are sad results, and they ought to be sufficient to awaken very serious thoughts in the minds of all who desire to be successful preachers of that free and full salvation which shines in the gospel of Christ, and leaves all who hear it without a shadow of an excuse. The grand business of the evangelist is to set forth, in his preaching, the perfect love of God, the efficacy of the blood of Christ, and the faithful record of the Holy Ghost. His spirit should be entirely untrammelled, and his gospel unclouded. He should preach a present salvation, free to all, and stable as the pillars which support the throne of God. The gospel is the unfolding of the heart of God as expressed in the death of His Son, recorded by the Holy Spirit.

Were this more carefully attended to, there would be more power in replying to the oft-repeated objection of the careless, as well as in hushing the deep anxieties of exercised and burdened souls. The former would have no just ground of objection; the latter, no reason to fear. When persons reject the gospel on the ground of God's eternal decrees, they are rejecting what is revealed on the ground of what is hidden. What can they possibly know about God's decrees? Just nothing. How then can that which is secret be urged as a reason for rejecting what is revealed? Why refuse what can be known, on the ground of what cannot? It is obvious that men do not act thus in cases where they wish to believe a matter. Only let a man be willing to believe a thing, and you will not find him anxiously looking for a ground of objection. But alas! men do not want to believe God. They reject His precious testimony which is as clear as the sun in meridian brightness, and urge, as their plea for so doing, His decrees which are wrapped in impenetrable darkness. What folly! What blindness! What guilt!

And then as to anxious souls who harass themselves with questions about election, we long to show them that it is not in accordance with the divine mind that they should raise any such difficulty. God addresses them in the exact state in which He sees them and in which they can see themselves. He addresses them as sinners, and this is exactly what they are. There is nothing but salvation for any sinner, the moment he takes his true place as a sinner. This is simple enough for any simple soul. To raise questions about election is sheer unbelief. It is, in another way, to reject what is revealed on the ground of what is hidden; it is to refuse what I can know, on the ground of what I cannot.

God has revealed Himself in the face of Jesus Christ, so that we may know Him and trust Him. Moreover, He has made full provision in the atonement of the cross for all our need and all our guilt. Hence, therefore instead of perplexing myself with the question, "Am I one of the elect?" it is my happy privilege to rest in the perfect love of God, the all-sufficiency of Christ, and the faithful record of the Holy Ghost.

We must close, though there are other stumblingblocks which we long to see removed out of the way of God's people, as well as landmarks which are sadly lost sight of.

C H Mackintosh Found on-line and in Miscellaneous Writings of C. H. Mackintosh
Updated: 10 Jul 2013

 

The Aim of this Website

 

Bible teaching is the essence of any assembly, congregation or church. The Bible, so we are told by the Apostle Paul, is useful for "doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness" (KJV) or put another way for "teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness" (NIV).

Over the years I have produced a number of sermons or messages which include, in some cases, notes and handouts. These range from headings through to fully formed notes plus a few Microsoft Power Point presentations. Some have been produced by Stephen Simon and these can be found under "messages" as well.

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I am working through these, doing some editing and rearranging, and then placing them on this web site in the hope they may be of some help to one searching the Scriptures, precept upon precept. As with all written material produced by a person, it is not infallible but I hope it is a pointer to the truth, which is found in Scripture. Hence, the author humbly beseeches the reader of these web pages to use the notes and messages as a guide only, and use Scripture to find the truth. This must be done in all prayer and supplication, for it is the Holy Spirit that will reveal the truth to you.

The most recent material can be found under "messages" which should include the most recent sermon notes. Some have been contributed by others which is acknowledged.


Updated: 16 Apr 2011

 

Using this website

The weakness of any Christian website is the failure of the author to truly know the mind of God - his weakness due to sin (and there will be weaknesses) can always be revealed if checked against the Bible. Therefore, it is urged that anyone using this site must check the information against the Holy Scriptures - for the test of any such information, by any person, is against the Canon. For this reason the Canon is called simply that - deriving its name from 'cane' meaning measuring stick. Even the early Christians checked what the Apostle Paul had spoken against Scripture in order to test its veracity. You need to do the same.

Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. Acts 17:11 (NIV)

Furthermore, we must test all things:

Test [prove] all things; hold fast what is good. 1 Thessalonians 5:22


Updated: 16 Apr 2011

 

What's in the title of this website

The heading comes from John 3:16, perhaps the most famous verse in the Bible. It indicates that salvation is by faith and not by works. That is, one cannot ever achieve rightness before God by one's own effort. What one cannot forget is the rest of the text - John 3:16 does not stand alone:

For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.

He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

And this is the condemnation, that light [Jesus Christ] is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.

For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.

But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.


Updated: 16 Apr 2011

 

Contact the author

If you find a grammatical error, spelling error, broken hyperlink or some other error on these pages please contact me mentioning the page title and location.


Updated: 16 Apr 2011

 

Bibles used in this website

KJV = King James Version of the Bible
NIV = New International Version of the Bible original work copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society
NKJV = New King James Version original work copyright 1979, 1980, 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc

ESV = The Holy Bible, English Standard Version copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles

Others used

JND = New Translation by John Nelson Darby (1890)
Interlinear Greek-English New Testament (Literal, Textus Receptus, King James Version), Baker Books, Michigan, 1980
Strong's = Strong's Concordance, Hebrew and Greek Lexicon (either Riverside Book and Bible House, or an on-line version)


Updated: 16 Apr 2011