J B Catterall -The Spirit is Getting the Saints Ready for Christ.

 

 Everything that makes much of Christ, washes the saints’ feet.

J B Catterall (1879-1927)’ feet.

 

It is possible to have a very great amount of light, and be very clear in our minds as to divine truth, and yet not be following Christ.

The greatest thing open to us in the assembly of God’s people, is to be like Christ.

The time has come when the Spirit is, so to speak, packing up.  He is getting the saints ready for the rapture.  He would convince our souls that the most urgent thought of His mind is to get the saints ready for Christ.

(Memorials of J B Catterall’s Ministry)

Golden Nugget Number 296 

Golden Nuggets are published by Saville Street Distribution, Venture, Princes Esplanade, Walton-on-the-Naze, CO14 8QD  UK

Spiritual Apathy – A Plague worse than Coronavirus

Why are you indifferent to that which is of vastly greater importance than plagues like coronavirus — your eternal salvation?

Please God, the worst of Corvid-19 may be over.  The death rate is falling; in many countries lockdown is being eased – hopefully soon in Britain where at the time of writing over 30,000 people have died.  But there is a deadening plague which continues and by its very nature is ignored – spiritual apathy.  How many millions have it – and those of us who have a living relationship with the Lord, how many of us just acquiesce?
This is an abridged version of a paper by Charles Coates[i].  It is undated, but indications are that it was in the late 1930’s.  Britain had come through the great depression and things were pretty good.  There were worrying developments in Germany, but they were not causing problems in Britain.  Chamberlain had a meeting with Hitler, signed a treaty and said, ‘It’s peace in our time’ (See 2 Kings 2:19).  How can you make peace with an evil man?  Yesterday we celebrated the 75th anniversary of VE Day.  Coates was taken to be with the Lord five months after VE Day;  I was born four weeks after that day.

Coates said:

Charles Coates

It has been estimated that over seventy-five per cent of the inhabitants of this country have no concern about the salvation of their souls. They are not atheists or infidels, nor do they make any profession of being saved; they are simply indifferent to the whole matter. If the thought of having to do with God comes into their minds, they solace themselves by a comparison of their own state with that of their fellows, and they conclude that as they are not worse than others, and perhaps better than many, there is no reason why they should have any concern as to their spiritual state. Any occasional alarm is speedily stilled by the thought that God is merciful — a sentiment which in the mind of an indifferent sinner means that he likes to think of God as One whose judgment of sin is not much more severe than his own. It is to this large body of people, and to each individual in it, that the following plain words are addressed.

Then why so indifferent to that which is of vastly greater importance than all these things put together — your eternal salvation? A friendly voice asks you the question which once rang on the startled ear of Jonah — ‘What meanest thou, O sleeper?’ (Jonah 1:6).
Beware! The signals of Holy Scripture are all against you, and another warning reaches you now as you speed along to eternity. ‘When they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them … and they shall not escape’ (1 Thessalonians 5: 3).
In the year of the Great Plague (1665) 90,000 persons died in London. With the earliest symptoms of the disease all indifference fled. Many went mad with terror and ran screaming through the grass-grown deserted streets, as if to escape from the pursuit of death. Have you no symptoms that might justly fill your conscience with alarm? ‘The thought of foolishness is sin’ (Proverbs 24:9).  ‘To him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin’  (James 4:17). ‘God shall judge the secrets of men’ (Romans 2:16). The plague of sin is in your heart; your members are yielded as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin; and the end of these things is death. Have you never been astounded at the evil thoughts of your own heart? or are you so thoroughly accustomed to them as to be ‘abominable and filthy’, and to drink ‘iniquity like water’? (Job 15: 16). In any case it is high time for indifference to be thrown off as a dangerous and deadly thing.
Sad, sad, that bitter wail — ‘The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved’ (Jeremiah 8:20).
‘God now commandeth all men everywhere to repent’ (Acts 17: 30).
‘God … will have all men to be saved’ (1 Timothy 2: 4). It is at an infinite cost that God has secured for Himself in righteousness the title of SAVIOUR GOD. The Son has been given; Jesus has died; and the whole universe can see at the cross of Christ that God is neither indifferent to sin, nor to the need of His poor creature who has fallen under its power. Then let indifference be banished from your heart. Turn in true repentance to God, and receive by faith the Lord Jesus Christ as your Saviour. For your life hangs on a thread; the record of your sins is on high; and the blackest midnight is brighter than the darkness of a Christless grave. ‘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).

My Comments

If 75% of Britons were not concerned about salvation in the 1930’s.  What is the percentage of spiritual apathy now?
What word is going out to people?  Are they hearing the gospel?  We don’t hear much, but then almost all the media is secular, liberal and anti-Christian.  But concerned Christians are speaking out.  They see the gospel under attack, and they are not afraid to say so.  Of course, I have not seen or read every message, but a surprisingly large group of voices are from within the Church of England – even from bishops and members of the Synod.  Others are from evangelicals – Baptists and Free Church.  What I don’t see are similar messages from charismatics and community churches.  Like Sardis (Protestantism) – ‘Thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead’ (Revelation 3:1) – concerned with form, liturgy, organisation and outward works.  I have just listened to a well-known American preacher[ii]. describing the Church of Scotland as an ecclesiastical corpse.  Thank God that in Sardis there were a few genuine Christians who had not defiled their garments.
We hear platitudes.  Yes, by all means talk about the love of God.  But first lay the conviction of the need of man – lost, sinful and deserving eternal judgment.  Met by the One who died – not just a sacrifice for our sins, but to settle the whole question, knowing that man in the flesh cannot please God.
Some preacher pointed out – Preachers say ‘Chose for Jesus and pray’ – No! ‘Cry to Jesus in faith and repent’.  ‘There is joy is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth’ (Luke 15:10).

Some interesting articles:

Crisis of faith – Damian Thompson – The Spectator 13 June 2015
Andrea Williams ‘What has become of the Church of England?’  – You-tube video – Andrea Williams, chief executive of Christian Concern and general synod lay member
 

Beliefs and stand of Rod Thomas, Bishop of Maidstone –  I have spoken to Mr Thomas personally.  He told me of his early life – see Wikipedia.

–       See also. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kpo8Z8SwwLo – Revd. Stephen Rae explains why in a context of increasing theological liberalism, he posted the Southwark Declaration on Canterbury Cathedral.
–       https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h69JRixrNhI – A Ugandan Bishop (Alfred Olwa) commits his Diocese to the One True Gospel

Some Good News

We can thank God that there are indications that Covid 19 is causing some to turn to God.  Here are a few snippets from, the press
The number of searches on Google for the word “prayer” have greatly increased over the past few weeks as the coronavirus has garnered headlines -Jeanet Sinding Bentzen- In Crisis, We Pray: Religiosity and the COVID-19 Pandemic.
More Christians worshiped, prayed, and shared Scripture online in the past week than ever before, as COVID-19 precautions shut down in-person church gatherings across the US and around the globe. – When God Closes a Church Door, He Opens a Browser Window  – Christianity Today 15 March 2020
In the thick of COVID-19 concerns, Bible publishing companies report increased sales . . . yndale reports that engagement on its New Living Translations Facebook page – home to Bible verse memes – has tripled since last March and is up 72% from just last month.  LifeWay Christian Resources also saw an increase in sales of 62 percent last week compared to the previous year.  “We believe this is no accident, as people often go to the Bible as a source of hope in times of crisis and uncertainty,” said Ben Mandrell, LifeWay CEO. “People draw hope from Scripture because in it they see a God who is with us during our suffering – Christian Headlines 8 April 2020

Christian Zoom Meetings

In these very unusual times, we cannot gather together normally.  But the Lord

loves His church and will not let His sheep go unfed.   My wife and I have found blessing in attending ‘Zoom meetings’. They cannot be regarded as formally constituted assembly occasions according to 1 Cor 14:23 – ‘The whole church be come together into one place’ – (of course, due to the breakdown it can only be a few Christians gathering in the light of the whole).  We enjoy bible readings with up to 20 screens, or larger scale preachings.  Many recipients of this letter attend a preaching of the gospel (16:30 BST Lord’s Days) arranged by some in Warrenpoint, Northern Ireland where last week about 120 screens (maybe 300 persons) streamed in, and we were able to see one another over several pages.  Some we had not seen for a few years, from the UK and Continental Europe, North America and even Australia and New Zealand.  Also audio only –  Preachers Corner, arranged by some in Worthing, Sussex (18:00 BST Lords Day.   If you are interested in the ‘Zoom meetings, please send me a private email (daniel@roberts.at).

I trust you have found these thoughts encouraging – and comforting.  May you be kept well, and free of Covid 19.
Your brother in Christ
Sosthenes
[i] ‘What Meanest Thou’. CAC – Volume 21 – 21 A Sure Foundation and other Gospel Papers and Addresses page 7

G V Wigram – I have a Saviour

G V Wigram (1805-1879)

I have a Saviour. He is in heaven and I upon earth. He has saved, is saving, and will save me from all that He can find to save me from, until, having saved me from and through all, He will safely deliver me up faithfully to Him who entrusted me to Him, to be my Saviour, even His Father and God. Possessed of such an One, I need to have nothing in mine own hand.

I have a Saviour! Yes! I have not only a Saviour God, but God has given to me the Christ, His Christ, and He is my Saviour.

In what details, O God! my God! (in and through Jesus Christ), wilt Thou this day enable me to work out with fear and awe, the deep sense of Thy presence and nearness upon me, mine own deliverance.

For verily it is Thou only that energisest in us the being, willing, and acting energetically, according to Thine own good pleasure. (See Phil. 2:13)

Golden Nugget Number 284

(Memorials of the Ministry of G V Wigram Vol I)

Golden Nuggets are published by Saville Street Distribution, Venture, Princes Esplanade, Walton-on-the-Naze, CO14 8QD UK

J B Stoney Condensed – Establishment in Liberty

We will not make spiritual progress till we know establishment in liberty. The Corinthians and Galatians had fallen from liberty. It was the natural mind in Corinthians and religiousness in Galatians.

James Butler Stoney

We might admire truth, but we will not make spiritual progress till we know establishment in liberty. The Corinthians and Galatians had fallen from liberty. It was the natural mind in Corinthians and religiousness in Galatians.

The Natural Mind – Corinthians

Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart. And such trust have we through Christ to God-ward: Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God; Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.

But if the ministration of death, written and engraven in stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not stedfastly behold the face of Moses for the glory of his countenance; which glory was to be done away: How shall not the ministration of the spirit be rather glorious? For if the ministration of condemnation be glory, much more doth the ministration of righteousness exceed in glory. For even that which was made glorious had no glory in this respect, by reason of the glory that excelleth. For if that which is done away was glorious, much more that which remaineth is glorious.

Seeing then that we have such hope, we use great plainness of speech: And not as Moses, which put a vail over his face, that the children of Israel could not stedfastly look to the end of that which is abolished: But their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same vail untaken away in the reading of the old testament; which vail is done away in Christ. But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the vail is upon their heart. Nevertheless when it shall turn to the Lord, the vail shall be taken away. Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord

2 Corinthians 3: 7 – 18

The Corinthians were led away by their natural minds, they gloried in their own wisdom, were not beholding the glory and were not in liberty.

Our Saviour is in glory, and we are drawn out of the ruin here to Christ where He is. That is the gospel of the glory. It is a ministration of righteousness from the glory. The glory of God is the expression of all His attributes. In much of Christendom the gospel does not go beyond the Passover – pardon for sins – Christ’s death on the cross. But being in the food resurrection is a step further. When I see Christ risen, I am justified and have peace with God. In Romans, the apostle brings me to the Person – that is deliverance:

As I look on the Lord’s glory we are transformed (2 Cor 3:18). Now, seeing Christ in glory, we brought into moral correspondence with Him. I cannot enjoy the gospel of the glory unless I am in liberty. The word transformed (μεταμορφούμεθα/metamorphoumetha/Strong 3339) – changed into another form or metamorphosised[i]. When I behold Him in the assembly, His things totally absorb me. It is like the queen of Sheba: when she came to Solomon and saw his glory, she was so entranced that there was no spirit left in her. So it is in beholding the Lord’s glory, self is displaced.

Merely reading the Bible will not conform me to be like Him. The two disciples going to Emmaus had a wonderful exposition of Scripture, but it was not which changed their course. Everything changed when the Lord made Himself known to them. Scripture corroborates our enjoyment.

Religiousness – Galatians

Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise. But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now. Nevertheless what saith the scripture? Cast out the bondwoman and her son: for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman. So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman, but of the free. Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.

Galatians 4: 28 – 5: 1

In Galatians it was religiousness. They had put themselves back under the law. They had begun in the Spirit, but were now seeking to be made perfect in the flesh. That is religiousness.

When Isaac was weaned, Abraham made a feast: all in the house were doing honour to Isaac – that is all except Ishmael, a youth of fourteen, who mocked. Sarah says he must be cast out. The first great thing in is that If Christ is to have an acknowledged right to everything that I have, I have to get rid of the religious man. Nobody has liberty till he has parted with one man (Adam), and is in another (Christ). Then he is able to say, ‘I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me’ (Gal 2:20). Nothing is more difficult than to say honestly that I have done with the old man – he is eclipsed. Man tries to improve himself, he does not like to be eclipsed.

Traditional doctrine says in effect, ‘Get Isaac to improve Ishmael’. There are beautiful traits in man but none of them acknowledge Christ. Ishmael was Abraham’s son, brought up in Abraham’s house, but he persecuted the heir of promise. Finding hat the best quality in my nature does not like Christ, is an even more painful experience than that of Romans 7,. Flesh will always be flesh: I cannot improve it . As J.G. Bellett said, ‘You may sublimate the flesh as much as you like, it will never yield spirit.’[i]

There are two things:
1. I acknowledge Christ – the true Isaac – in His place.
2. I do not tolerate Ishmael.

A person in liberty rejoices in Christ Jesus and has no confidence in the flesh; he shrinks from the flesh. Everything must come divinely. The more effective a man is, the more correctly will he quote Scripture.

I might say, If I put Ishmael out of the door he will come in at the window. However, I have the Holy Spirit within me, resisting the flesh, so as not to do fleshly things. I have a power in me that keeps the door like a policeman. It is more than self-control. It is positive: ‘God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ’ (Galatians 6:14). There is not a word about sins in this passage, it is pure liberty – a new creation.

Conclusion

Now I can say, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me“. And now comes the practical course – “the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God“, etc. It is transcendent!


[i] I cannot find the citation of this from Bellett. According to Stem Publishing, the expression was used by Charles Mackintosh and Walter Woolston . Both must have been quotes but this was not acknowledged. John Gifford Bellett predated both of the above by 25 and 50 years respectively.

[i] Strong’s note to this word: STRONGS NT 3339: μεταμορφόω

μεταμορφόω, μεταμόρφω: passive, present μεταμορφοῦμαι; 1 aorist μετεμορφώθη; to change into another form (cf. μετά, III. 2), to transfigure, transform: μετεμορφώθη, of Christ, his appearance was changed (A. V. he was transfigured), i. e. was resplendent with a divine brightness, Matthew 17:2; Mark 9:2 (for which Luke 9:29 gives ἐγένετο τόεἶδος τοῦ προσώπου αὐτοῦ ἕτερον); of Christians: τήν αὐτήν εἰκόνα μεταμορφούμεθα, we are transformed into the same image (of consummate excellence that shines in Christ), reproduce the same image, 2 Corinthians 3:18;

Coronavirus – A Personal Message and Coronavirus Video Testimonies

Coronavirus is giving us time to do things we would not be able to otherwise. A few days ago I got talking to a gentleman from the close opposite, He was a self-employed shoplifter so had no work. I remarked that we do not need to fear because God is in control.

Coronavirus is giving us time to do things we would not be able to otherwise. A few days ago I got talking to a gentleman from the close opposite, He was a self-employed shoplifter so had no work. I remarked that we do not need to fear because God is in control. He agreed and said that the whole affair said had brought him back to God. He was a lapsed Irish Roman Catholic, but had now realised that he needed a direct relationship with God. That really got us on to the gospel. Would that I were more evangelical!

Have you been able to meet up with Christians on-line?  Last week we ‘zoomed’ into a bible reading in Chelmsford, and to a preaching in Warrenpoint N Ireland. In this there were about 70 screens and over 200 people.

May you keep safely within the restrictions the government lays down (See Romans 13:1) – and preserve you from this awful virus.

What are your experiences?

God’s Blessings

Daniel (or Sosthenes)

Some Good Videos

Our Christian friends have been sending round videos – from You tube, on WhatsApp, Instagram – or whatever.  I have found a few myself.   Some are from people in high places – some just ordinary people, many in the health service.   If you have one you think I should post, email me or use the contact form.

Rep. Randy Weber Tearfully Begs God To Forgive America For The Sins Of Abortion & Gay Marriage

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fuvXgFOyn-I

Andrea Williams Christian Concern (The Church must repent of being just another club)

The Church must repent of being ‘just another club’

Scott Morrison – Prime Minister of Australia – prayer

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aPFxE4ykLZA

Also:

https://facebook.com/stevechong/videos/10156995176090887/?t=0

Ear nose and throat specialist Audrey tells what to do in the light of coronavirus. – Look to Jesus, trust in God and pray, pray, pray
The Day God sent a Cleaner Covid 19 Pastor Lee McClelland

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mk2EnOJ9P5g

There’s also a second testimony in which McClelland encourages Christians to praise God in the midst of difficult circumstances.

https://www.faithpot.com/atheist-doctor-finds-god-covid-19/

Millions dying through Famine (or Coronavirus)

Dreadful straits; millions dying through [the Sudan] famine. [like the Coronavirus epedemic in 2020 – Sosthenes]  Is God unmindful?  He is not.  You may be assured, He will get His harvest through grace

…the masses of humanity, everyone needing a Saviour…and let our hearts share God’s feelings for men.  Dreadful straits; millions dying through [the Sudan] famine. [like the Coronavirus epidemic in 2020 – Sosthenes]  Is God unmindful?  He is not.  You may be assured, He will get His harvest through grace in all these calamities; it must be, in all things he has the pre-eminence; it is a great comfort to think of that.  God allows these things to happen and we should not do other than reflect His feelings.  We should never live remote from the needs of men.  A calamity should bring out in us sympathies and express God in them.

Oh, the relief of a living faith in a living Man who bore that load for me.  Why did He do it?  Oh that “why”;  “why hast Thou forsaken me?”  Who can answer that “why”?  We would have to tell you of the ocean of the love that lay behind the reason why Jesus died.  Love held Him there.  He could have come down.  He could have called on all those angels.  He did not.  He was obedient unto death, even the death of the cross…But more than that, as my substitute He bore the judgement  due to me because of my sins. Oh, do you not know and love a Saviour like that?  Thank God I do and I commend Him to you.

 

(Extracts from a preaching by Brian Deck, Adelaide,

1986)

From

The Love of the Truth and Other Ministry

Edited by Andrew Burr – available from Lulu

Golden Nugget Number 278

Golden Nuggets are published by Saville Street Distribution, Venture, Princes Esplanade, Walton-on-the-Naze, CO14 8QD  UK

C H Mackintosh

C.H.Mackintosh

Charles Henry Mackintosh was born in October 1820, at Glenmalure Barricks, County Wicklow, Ireland, the son of the captain of a Highland regiment. Mackintosh was converted at the age of eighteen through the letters of a devout sister, and the prayerful reading of J. N. Darby’s Operations of the Spirit. When he was twenty-four years of age, he opened a private school at Westport, but it was not long before he concluded he must give himself entirely to the ministry of the Word of God, in writing and in public speaking. Soon thereafter he felt led to establish a periodical, which he continued to edit for twenty-one years, Things New and Old.

Mr. Mackintosh took a great interest in, and actively participated in, the great revival of 1859 and 1860. He died on November 2, 1896, and was buried in Cheltenham Cemetery, awaiting the resurrection morn.

From Stem Publishing

 

Some of the last words of J.G. Bellet.

Some of the last words of J.G. Bellet.

John Gifford Bellett 

Sadly altered was the poor worn-out body pillowed in an easy chair, but his spirit rejoicing in his much loved Lord.  He said, “Two months ago, when I felt this sickness was unto death, I asked Him to reveal Himself to me in increased loveliness and nearness.  He did.  He filled me with Himself.  I know the blood has done its blessed, blessed work for my soul; it is His love, His beauty, His perfection, that fill my heart and vision”.  He then spoke of feeling a little better that day.  “But ah! That is no pleasure to me.”  Then clasping his dear thin hands together, he said, while tears flowed down his face, “My precious Lord Jesus, Thou knowest how fully I can say with Paul, to depart and to be with Thee is far better!  I long for it.  They come and talk to me of a crown of glory, — I bid them cease; of the glory of the heaven, — I bid them stop.  I am not wanting crowns – I have HIMSELF! HIMSELF!  Ah! With the Man of Sychar; with Him who stayed to call Zacchaeus!  With the Man of the 8th of John; with the Man who hung upon the cross; with the Man who died!  Oh, to be with Him before the glories, the crown, or the kingdom appear.  It’s wonderful, – wonderful!  With the Man of Sychar alone; the Man of the gate of Nain; and I am going to be with Him for ever!  Exchange this sad, sad scene for His Presence, the scene which cast Him out.  Oh, the Man of Sychar.”

Golden Nuggets are published by Saville Street Distribution, Venture, Princes Esplanade, Walton-on-the-Naze, CO14 8QD  UK

The Church and the Gospel – The Church does not Teach or Preach

The Church – the Body of Christ here on earth is to serve Him. Christians preach and teach. The Church itself does not.

Why I am Saying that the Church does not Preach

I was born in 1945 so they call me an ‘early baby boomer’.  (1945 to 1960).  I was writing a letter from my generation to Millennials, also known as Generation Y (born 1981 to 1996), but all, the intervening generation as well would be interested.

Things were very different for those of us who grew up immediately after WW2, easier times I would say, and that affected our spiritual development.  Now as we are getting older we have to see many wasted years – reminding us of that scripture:  Tell ye your children of it, and let your children tell their children, and their children another generation.  That which the palmerworm hath left hath the locust eaten; and that which the locust hath left hath the cankerworm eaten; and that which the cankerworm hath left hath the caterpiller eaten’ (Joel 1:3-4).  God in His mercy goes on,  And I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten, the cankerworm, and the caterpiller, and the palmerworm, my great army which I sent among you. And ye shall eat in plenty, and be satisfied, and praise the name of the LORD your God’ (ch 2:15-26).  So, we have to redeem the time because the days are evil (see Eph 5:16).  That applies to my generation, and to all, including those left of the pre-war generations.

The world is evil now – it always has been, but there are certain pressures unique to the 21st century.  On the positive side we are generally better off, and benefit from modern communications, technology and ease of travel.  When I was young mobile phones were science fiction, and the world-wide-web had not even been conceived.  We had our bikes and a lot more freedom, which I think made us happier and healthier.

We admire our Younger Brethren and their Testimony

So:

      Peer pressure was nothing like what it is now.  You did not have to have the latest gizmo, and your status was not available for the world to see 24/7 on Facebook or Instagram.

      Social liberal attitudes had not developed: ‘Gay’ meant ‘living merrily’ (not necessarily happily), divorce and abortion were frowned upon, if not illegal, and people would be horrified by the idea of selecting one’s sex (I don’t use the word ‘gender’). Whilst you could be mocked for standing for what was right as a Christian, there was not that militant secularism.

      People regarded evolution as a theory not a fact, though most accepted it.

      You could get a good job without having to go to university (You still had to study) – and if you did go to uni, there were no tuition fees and you could get a grant towards living expenses

      It was easier to get on the property ladder.

I could go on.

Under these circumstances, I admire the way that many young brothers and sisters are applying themselves to the Lord’s things and studying the scriptures. I hear of meet-ups for prayer, study and evangelisation.  In the break at meetings I have seen (and sometimes entered) into discussion groups on spiritual matters and I witnessed a group of young sisters with their study bibles out.

Younger people in many places are enthusiastic – and for the things of the Lord they should be.  But so often the enthusiasm is ‘church-centred’ not ‘Christ centred’. 

At a recent meeting the subject was our preaching the glad tidings.  What was emphasised was that preaching was an individual, not an assembly matter.  I heard an aside remark suggesting that what we were talking about were ‘technicalities’.  Sorry, I see these things as being pretty fundamental.

In the early days preaching started in the open air.  Peter’s first preaching was such.  Paul would go into a synagogue and preach there (if he was allowed to) – not a Christian assembly.  John Wesley and others were renowned for open air preaching.  His preaching was individual – because the church as an entity does not preach.

Brian Parr Open-air ChesterThe Church and the Gospel

I fully understand the concerns of my younger brethren.  My generation was not active enough in preaching to others.  I think that we – brothers and sisters – are coming to recognise that we had gone on with a line that put the collective position, not the Lord, at the centre.  We ended up smugly in a socially happy group of white middle-class Christians, content with a stack of ministry, claiming (some would even say exclusively) to represent the assembly in a broken day.  If you ask me, that was pretty Laodicean.  Looking back, we had probably been let down by our parents’ and grandparents’ generations when we were young.  Where I was brought up, Godly influential and gifted men, whom we looked up to, tolerated the 1960’s Taylor Exclusive system.  As a result we were  coloured by it, even if as young people, we rebelled against it. 

This was not unique to one company of Christians.  Formalism and authoritarianism permeated Christendom.  Well organised, successfully managed operations, be they churches or businesses, have outward success – one may be measured in ‘converts’, the other in profit.  But who are the measurers and who is determining the criteria for success?

Some Preaching is like Entertanment

Alongside this, there has been a line which matches Christian service with worldly entertainment.   Many Catholic and Protestant establishments put on spectacular performances and processions with wonderful form, clothing, pomp and circumstance. Elsewhere the show may be more modern and charismatic, helped by the latest technology – sound and light systems, a good band (modern music) and a church hall which is more like a theatre or music-hall than anything else.  Is this to the glory of God?

So, where does that leave us?  Paul, when he came to Corinth (Maybe the entertainment hub of the Mediterranean) said, ‘And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God.  For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.  And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling.  And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: that your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God’ (1 Cor 2:1-5).  Paul would not have been successful by worldly standards.  Small wonder that sober Christians are not either.

I believe that in the early 1800’s there was a line of scripturally correct teaching which had a strong influence among evangelically-minded Christians worldwide.  I have little doubt that this was a movement of the Holy Spirit similar in character to the Reformation.  Brethren and other evangelicals departed from that, some institutionalising the teaching, and others taking certain aspects only. Both were wrong. 

 

Important Truths

Here are some of the scriptural truths to which Christians were recovered:

1.     The understanding that the church (ἐκκλησία/ekklésia/Strong 1577) is heavenly in origin and destiny.  It is not part of the world system and is here comprising all believers.  Christ is its Head (See Eph 1:22 – 2:6) – Christ has been made Head over all things to the church, and we have been made to sit in the heavenly places in Christ). 

2.     That the hope of the church is the coming of Christ to call us to be with Him (See 1 Thess 4:13-18, Rev 22:17)

3.     That the church publicly is in ruins, having departed from the Lord and the teaching of the apostles.  This was already anticipated by Paul in Acts 20:19-30, and when it had taken place, we have a path for the believer in 2 Tim 2:19-22.

Some of us who are older, and therefore more responsible, are concerned to get back to basics.  Our worlds have been turned upside down.  The more we look at our histories, the more we realise that we had departed from what we really knew (or sometimes misunderstood).  Small wonder that we want to get back to fundamentals with the Lord’s help and the direction of the Holy Spirit.

 

Preaching and Teaching

Now, to get back to our subject of the relationship of the church to the preaching of the glad tidings, I need to make two things clear:

1.     THE CHURCH DOES NOT TEACH!

2.     THE CHURCH DOES NOT PREACH!

Of course, this is contrary to what might be accepted generally in churches who regard themselves as authoritative corporate entities.  These bodies cannot be the church – the body and bride of Christ, whatever their intention, they are man-made organisations.  If you look at church websites, they usually emphasise what they are in the community, and include a ‘canned’ statement of faith. What is more, they usually have a single leader – pastor, vicar or whatever, and run on human management lines.  That person will have a line of teaching, partly related to his ecclesiastical hierarchy, and partly his (or her) understanding.  Hence you hear people say, ‘What does your church teach about XYZ?’.

We must be thankful that many places preach Christ as the one and only Saviour for sinners.  He bore our sins on the cross and shed His blood.  (I trust every reader of this letter is fully in the enjoyment of the certainty of these things).  You find many devout souls who love the Lord everywhere.  However, they are often defective in several ways:

Some Error in Evangelical Christendom

1.     Often (in Pentecostal, Adventist and Methodist) establishments there is Arminian error, for example – saved today and lost tomorrow, despite what the Lord says as to His sheep in John 10.

2.     In very few cases there is no real expectation of the Lord’s coming.  Many are striving to make this world a better place, with a view to the kingdom being established here (into which the Lord can come).

3.     Many deny the rapture despite its being clear in 1 Thess 4.

4.     Few understand that the church is heavenly in origin and destiny, typified in the sheet in Acts 11 – it came from heaven and went back.  It is the body of Christ here caring for His interests.  

5.     There is much confusion as to the millennium, with some thinking we are there already – not the period between the first and second resurrections (see Rev 20:4-6)

The fact they are teaching and preaching different things, often not in accordance with scripture, just emphasises this.

When a company of Christians assumes – officially or unofficially – a corporate identity, it is time to leave.  This may be painful, as my wife and I found in 2017.  But the Lord promised a hundredfold (see Matt 19:29).   We have met other Christians leaving other man-made organisations too.  The Lord knows those that are His’ ( 2 Tim 2:19).

Having left one company there is a temptation to look round and borrow things from elsewhere.  One could say ‘Where we were, we got things wrong – elsewhere they might be right’. This is the human way.  I know there are some exciting things going on in many churches, but you and your work will be truly effective if you are with the Lord individually.

I have attended several meetings recently in which the Lord has given a distinct word as to the maintenance of what has been established (the ancient landmarks) and doing things according to the due order (not like David in 2 Sam 6).  We all have to take this to heart.

Iranian Christians – from the Joel Group

Finally, I would like to reproduce something I read a few weeks ago, concerning a group of Christians with whom, I guess no reader of A Day of Small Things enjoys practical fellowship.  I get emails from the Joel Group, which I like because they give a positive view about what God is doing, in this case, in Iran.  Over the years the ayatollahs have descried churches and nominal Christians have given in.  The writer says, ‘The fastest-growing church in the world has taken root in one of the most unexpected and radicalized nations on earth, according to ‘Sheep Among Wolves’, an outstanding two-hour documentary about revival. The Iranian awakening is a rapidly reproducing discipleship movement that owns no property or buildings, has no central leadership, and is predominantly led by women.  He goes on:

Efforts by the ayatollahs to destroy Christianity have backfired but have served to refine and purify the church. “What persecution did was destroy the churches that were only about converts,” the Iranian church leader noted. “Converts run away from persecution, but disciples are willing to die for the Lord in persecution.”  Often a disciple-making movement begins the first moment someone comes into contact with an unbeliever. “Everything is founded on prayer. We find people of peace through prayer. We even find locations through prayer,” the Iranian church leader noted. “Jesus has gone faster than us. He has come in their dreams or he’s come miraculously in their lives. When we hear this, we know that Jesus has gone ahead of us.”

I can relate to this.  Read it.  Watch that video, or read George Thomas’s account.

Sosthenes Hoadelphos

January 2020 

One Pearl of great Price

Golden Nugget Number 252

 

…”the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls; who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it.” (Matt 13:46).  It is a merchant, a man who knows his business.  He is seeking goodly pearls, something that is not spurious.  It says,”when he had found one pearl,” not a string of pearls, one pearl of great price.  It speaks of the peculiar beauty that attaches to the assembly as having but one object for her affections.  It is the beauty of undivided affection for Christ.  That was of great value in the Lord’s sight…and He was prepared to surrender all that was His legitimately with a view to securing this one object of His affections.  Think of what joy it was to the Lord to live here as a Man ministering to the heart of God every day of His life, and conscious of His pleasure!  Yet He would surrender that—He would go down into death for the sake of the pearl.

(A J Gardiner,  Clacton,  1938)

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