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A Song of Compassion

With a soul blood bought and a heart aglow.

Redeemed of the Lord and free,

I ask as I pass down the busy street,

Is it only a crowd I see;

Do I lift my eyes with a careless gaze,

That pieces no deep down woe,

Have I naught to give to the teeming throng

Of the wealth of the love I know?

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Fools

I remember the case of a young man who married a moneyless girl and then sailed for Australia, taking with him his bride and what little money he could scrape together; it was only about £600. When the two families heard that he had used his capital in buying some land in an out of the way place, they said he ought to be shut up in a lunatic asylum. But there was gold in that piece of land, and when, some years later, I met him in London, he was very rich; and the relatives had given up talking about lunatic asylums.

The Christian is a follower of Him who likened Himself to a man that parts with all that he has in order to buy a field, because he knows there is treasure hidden in it. The Christian acts in the present with a view to the future. For he knows while the things which are seen are temporal, the things which are not seen are eternal.

– an excerpt from The Way by Sir Robert Anderson

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Holy Ambition

In Philippians chapter three Paul frames life in terms of winning and losing. ‘But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,…’ 3:7-8. In fact the idea looms large in his thinking as seen by his statement in chapter 1 and verse 21 ‘For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.’ 

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Prerequisites To Worship

Worship is not some difficult, complex, sophisticated religious activity which is limited to a few elite saints. It is to be the portion of all believers. Worship is simply bowing before the Lord and expressing His worthiness to be worshipped. (Rev. 5:8). Now worship goes beyond the wonderful fact that Jesus died for us. While we should never forget this amazing fact, and the wonderful love of Christ, there is much more for which He can be worshipped.

Rather than being solely occupied with our blessings, we can think upon His beauties as seen through the eyes of the Father, to Whom He always brought delight. As the hymn writer has so nicely put it, “Loved with love which knows no measure, Save the Father’s love to Thee. All His joy, His rest, His pleasure – All His deep delight in Thee – Lord, Thy heart alone can measure what Thy Father found in Thee.” If we would see some of what the Father saw in Him, we will find ourselves at His feet, and we will be worshippers!

Worship has been called the Christian’s “highest occupation.” If this is true, and it is, then the Church is sadly failing to fulfill its highest calling. Much of what is called worship is not really worship at all. Listening to sermons and choirs falls far short of Biblical worship. Saints in many circles rarely, if ever, come together to simply be occupied with Christ and to exalt Him together.

Others come together specifically for this purpose, but often there is little worship. Many have given little thought to Christ during the week and the best they can muster is singing someone else’s thoughts penned in a hymn – this is not to say that singing hymns that honour and exalt the Lord are not worship, but they can become a substitute for real worship.

In the Bible there were two things that characterized those who were worshippers. It seems to be true of them, regardless of what dispensation they lived in. Perhaps we could view them as prerequisites to worship, and test our hearts accordingly as we come together to worship the Lord Jesus Christ.

The first thing that characterizes those saints in Scripture that worshipped was that they had a right view of the Lord. They understood to some degree, and were often overcome by, the majesty of His person, the greatness of His power, and the glory that is His. They never came into His presence in some casual way, but with great reverence – a reverence that is often missing in our casual day!

We see this in David’s prayer regarding the materials for the temple and the offering of the people. “Blessed be thou, LORD God of Israel our Father, for ever and ever. Thine, O LORD, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty: for all that is in the Heavens and in the earth is Thine; Thine is the kingdom, O LORD, and Thou art exalted as head above all.” (1 Chron. 29: 10-11)

Isaiah records, “…I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and His train filled the temple… And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of His glory.” (Isa. 6:1-3)

Thomas uttered that short, but wonderful expression when he realized he was in the presence of the risen Christ, “My Lord and my God.” (John 20:28) Scripture records many expressions which indicate that the worshippers had a right view of the Lord.

The second thing that characterized those who worshipped was that they had a right view of themselves. After expressing his worship, David asked, “But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able to offer so willingly after this sort?” (1 Chron. 29:14) Isaiah cries out, “Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.” (Isa. 6:5) Seeing the Lord, John writes, “And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead.” (Rev. 1:17)

Those who found themselves in the presence of the Lord were fully aware of the vast difference between the One they worshipped and the one worshipping. They were humbled to think that such creatures could be so privileged as to be in the presence of the Lord Himself. Are we aware of this great difference and the grace that has brought us to this place of acceptance and privilege? Do we with little thought of such things gather together to worship? If so, is it any wonder than we worship so little?

As accepted in Christ, we may come boldly into His presence (Eph. 1:6; Heb. 10:19), but this does not negate the need for a right view of the Lord, and a right view of ourselves as we come into His presence to worship.

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Impeccability: Was Christ Able to Sin?

Impeccability: Was Christ Able to Sin?

Orthodox theologians have universally agreed that Jesus Christ never committed any sin. He was sinless, blameless, and holy. The sinlessness of the Lord Jesus Christ is an absolute necessity for the efficacy of His penal, substitutionary death and is a decisive proof of His deity. Any moral failure on the part of Christ would compromise His deity and nullify His finished work on the cross. While few evangelical Bible teachers doubt His sinlessness, some have questioned whether Christ was able to sin? The question of whether Christ was able to sin is not merely a debate for theologians, but one that is important and critical to all, for it touches upon the person and the work of Christ.

Those who argue that Christ was able to sin assert that He could only have been truly human if He were able to sin. If He were unable to sin, then He was also unable to be tempted. Therefore, His humanity would not be the kind of humanity that would be able to truly sympathize with mankind. This viewpoint seems to be attractive and biblical to many fine scholars, past and present. Among conservative evangelical leaders who have taught this view are Charles Hodge, Everett F. Harrison, and Dr. Martin R. DeHaan. Additionally, Ellen G. White, of Seventh-day Adventism, also strongly advocated this view.

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God’s Plan of Salvation

But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.” Galatians 4:4-5

I cannot think of any where else in the sacred Text where there is such a comprehensive yet concise exposition of the Gospel of God concerning His Son and its ultimate outcome as outlined in the six short unambiguous statements recorded by an inspired apostle Paul. The following Meditation deals in summary form with each of these, trusting that it will lead to a greater appreciation of Whose we are and Whom we serve.

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Editorial: Young Men Arise!

In designing the local church the Lord provided for the care and protection of the flock through elders. These men are also referred to as overseers (poorly translated in the KJV and NKJV as bishops) or shepherds. Overseers, elders and shepherds refer to the same person but each word emphasizes a different aspect of his work.

Elders are part of a mature fellowship of believers and was an important part of the establishing of local churches in apostolic times.1 We take this New Testament example to be our binding authority in the present day and make every effort to copy this.

It is important to notice that elders were always in a plurality in the New Testament. Wm. Hoste writes: ‘In apostolic times one church had several bishops. In Christendom one bishop has several Churches.’2 This can be substantiated by noticing the plural reference every time elders are mentioned in the New Testament.

The plurality of overseers has proven to be a blessing to the local church. The variety of age, temperament, personality, maturity and experience combine to give the flock a rich resource in the function of shepherding.  The shared responsibility enables men to continue to function year after year and avoid the mental, emotional and spiritual exhaustion that may overtake one man responsible for everything.

The flock is not at risk when one elder is no longer able to carry out his work as others are already in place. There is safety and security in a ‘multitude of counsellors’ (Pro. 11:14). “Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counsellors there is safety.” (Pro. 15:22). “Without counsel purposes are disappointed: but in the multitude of counsellors they are established.” (Pro. 24:6). “For by wise counsel thou shalt make thy war: and in multitude of counsellors there is safety.”

Today however we notice that in many assemblies few seem willing to rise to challenge of oversight work.  The reasons for this are not easy to identify but some of these might be the explanation.

It could be that some, particularly younger men, feel inadequate or unqualified for the task at hand. The qualifications of oversight are not light. A review of those qualifications given in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1 are enough to set any man back.  No serious minded candidate for shepherd work would easily rate himself as meeting the qualifications. But those qualifications, while a necessity, were not given to potential elders to assess themselves, but to others who would identify elders. No man doing oversight work that I ever met boldly claims himself to be qualified, he leaves that for others to assess.

Perhaps another reason some are not willing to rise to the occasion of elder work is a feeling of not having sufficient time to do the work. It is a good sign when a young man thinking of oversight work has a sober assessment of the fact that it will take time and work. In the present time in Western economies the working world places big demands on working men. The technology that promises saving of time and labour seems to be running us more and more. The work day seems to be operating 24 hours a day, 7 days a week with constant work contact. A young man considering oversight work has to make some hard decisions in perhaps foregoing big opportunities in business or career. This is not an easy decision to make and limiting one’s time in earning income is not as simple as working less hours. But accepting big responsibilities, promotions and advancements may have to be curtailed if God’s people are going to be cared for. To gain in this world and to lose out on God’s calling is the height of folly.

It is possible that in some cases assemblies have suffered with a dysfunctional group of elders. This may prevent a young man from joining such a group. In such cases the potential shepherd must be in prayer and seek the counsel of wiser believers. It may be the assembly needs some additional shepherds to correct the dysfunctional nature of the present oversight.  It will not be easy, but it may be necessary to endure some difficulties until things can be put right.

I have always tried to point out to candidates for oversight work that elders are made by the Holy Spirit. (Acts 20:28) “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.”  In other words, if God has made a man an elder, he really has no choice in the matter. It is not a question of deciding whether I want to be an elder, it is a question of am I going to be obedient to the call of God upon my life. This making of shepherds by the Holy Spirit is as significant as God calling a man or women to full time missionary or other service.

Young men, arise!

Endnotes

1 Acts 14:23; Titus 1:5

2 Wm. Hoste, Bishops, Priests and Deacons, John Ritchie Limited, pg. 29

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Isaiah 53:1-3 God’s Servant Will be Despised Part 2 of 5

The second stanza in this servant song deals with the attitude of the nation of Israel towards God’s servant when He came. We can consider it in three parts:

1. How they responded to Him: 53:1

Who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?” Many of the Jewish prophets might have felt that way about their ministry, but twice in the New Testament this text is quoted with reference to the Jews’ response to the Lord Jesus.

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Some Thoughts on Congregational Singing

Some time ago I was asked to write an article about singing in the church. Before I do, let me quickly give you some personal background, so you will know from what perspective I am writing. I became Christian at age 19, and for the first 20 years after my salvation attended a lively non-denominational church, where I also functioned as piano/bass player, choir director, and where at times I would lead congregational singing. Most songs we sang were contemporary choruses, many of which contained much scripture. From there my family moved on to a more traditional church, where the majority of the songs consisted of hymns, many written during the 18th and 19thcenturies. Here I also directed a choir, and have been frequently involved in worship and song-leading.

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What is the meaning of the Heart in the Scriptures?

When David Livingston died on May 1, 1873 his heart was removed and buried in the African soil. He was so beloved that the Africans wanted his heart to remain in their land. His body was prepared and shipped back to England. There he was interned in Westminster Abbey.

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