Christianity – Process of Transformation (2)


Broad Overview of Geography Relevant to Paul o...

Broad Overview of Geography Relevant to Paul of Tarsus (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

INTELLECTUALISM

Now what is this natural category, this natural species? Look at the Letter again. First of all, the dominance, ascendancy, control of intellectualism, the wisdom of this world. That is the thing that is being marked and underscored as a part of the trouble in Corinth; the control of intellectualism, the natural reason, the natural mind, the idea that you are going to solve the problems of life along intellectual lines. Will you tell me that that is not a peril of Christianity today? Why, it is everywhere! It shouts at you from the religious press. You may not read so much of it, but it is my business to be familiar with what is happening in the Christian theological world, and I tell you, friends, that as I read certain theological magazines I find DEATH. They are wearisome to the spirit. All this terrific effort to solve the problems of Christianity by the human intellect; the research, argument, discussion and debate, theses, etc.; philosophical Christianity trying to solve spiritual problems; what a weariness it is! I have to put these papers down sometimes! I cannot finish them, for they are so dead, so utterly lifeless. And that sort of thing is everywhere. It is thought that if you go to our seats and seminaries of learning with a clever brain, able to put out a convincing argument, you are going to save souls. There never was a greater fallacy!
This Letter to the Corinthians says that. Read this second chapter again and you will find that Paul is saying that. Paul was an educated man, so much so that for two thousand years the best scholars have found him defeating them, and they have not mastered him yet! Come to the religious bookshops and look at the shelves on the exposition of the New Testament, and you will find that Paul predominates. I got a book by one of our leading professors of theology in the universities and it was called A Portrait of Peter. This man, with all his learning, set out to give us a portrait of Peter. I opened the book and found that the first few pages were wholly occupied with Paul! He could not get to Peter because Paul was in the way, and the issue of his attempt was: ‘Well, Peter was a great man, but Paul was very much greater!’ Yes, this man Paul was an educated man, an intellectual man, a learned man. You cannot discredit Paul along that line at all, for he will beat you every time in that realm – but listen! ‘You Corinthians, when I came to you I came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, but in fear and in much trembling. I had determined that I would know nothing amongst you intellectual Corinthians save Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.’ What was Paul’s conclusion? ‘It is no use, however much I may have of the schools, whatever I may know, however I might be able to argue with the Corinthians or the Athenians on Mars Hill, I will get nowhere along that line with a spiritual situation like this. I have made up my mind about that.’ It is part of the natural man to think that you are going to be able to build up something by intellectual, scholastic, academic acumen. The fact is that what intellect can build up, intellect can pull down!

POWERISM

Then look at this prominent word: power. It is there in the chapter: wisdom… power; and at Corinth there was a worshipping of natural power, ability to conquer by natural strength. You can call it ‘powerism’, for it was an ‘ism’ there. Crush by your superior strength, impose something forceful, mighty, upon people, and you will win. Only be strong enough and you can solve all the problems and change all the situations. ‘Powerism’ is the natural man’s idea of how it is going to be done.

EMOTIONALISM

Then emotionalism has a large place with these Corinthians. Going to capture, captivate and master, and gain your end by force of emotion stirring up people’s feelings, playing upon them, working upon them until they make an almost hysterical response. If you do that well and thoroughly you will get some Christians! The Apostle says: ‘Not at all!’ It is evident that these Corinthians were very emotional people.

FOOLISHNESS

What does the Apostle put over against these three aspects of the natural man? Over against wisdom he puts ‘foolishness’. In the first chapter he speaks of “the foolishness of the preaching”. You find that ‘foolishness’ was a great thing with the Apostle Paul! “We are fools for Christ’s sake” (1 Corinthians 4:10). What did he mean? Well, he did not mean: ‘Be simpletons!’, which is what we immediately take to be the meaning of being foolish. What Paul meant by foolishness was the denial that intellectualism could find out God. ‘The princes of this world, and the wisdom of this world did not find out God’, said Paul, ‘and they could not find Him out. They could not find out anything to do with God.’ “The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: and he cannot know them.” Foolishness is the denial that all the wisdom and all the philosophy of the Greeks there in Corinth, where they boasted of this thing so much, could get through the barrier to find God; and that all this power of mind and will projected and asserted in any way whatever will come up against the barrier and not get through, will not find God, nor the things of God. It is all written off as foolishness when the quest for God is pursued along that line. How foolish it is! And Paul gives a wonderful, almost startling, example of this: “God’s wisdom… which none of the rulers of this world knoweth: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.” There is not much sense in that wisdom, is there? Not much logic or philosophy in that!
So Paul puts what he calls ‘foolishness’ over against their wisdom, meaning a positive denial registered by the Cross of the Lord Jesus that mere intellectualism can find God and the things of God. It cannot, for the natural man cannot!

WEAKNESS

Over against the powerism of this mentality of the natural man, the Apostle almost glories in using the word ‘weakness’. He says even that Christ was crucified through weakness, and he is always speaking about, and glorying in, his own weakness. What does he mean? The denial that this kind of human force, assertiveness, can achieve anything in the spiritual world. What a building we are tearing down!
You know, that has been the test of man right from the beginning. Was it not the test of Abraham to let go even of what God had given him in Isaac? The test of this man’s real spirituality was the ability to let go. Was it true of Jacob? Was he not a man of tenacity, of determination, a man who would get what he wanted at any price, at the cost of anyone else’s convenience and wellbeing? Was that not the issue of Peniel, or Jabbok? “I will not let thee go!” That is Jacob! He had been like that all his life, holding on tenaciously to what he wanted, what he had or what he wanted to have. But the finger of God touched the hollow of his thigh, and after that you can see that he is a cringing man! See how he meets his brother Esau!
You are not, whether you are Abraham or Jacob or any of the others whom we might mention, going to get through with God fully and finally by your own natural determination and tenacity. One of the great lessons of the Christian life is to learn how to let go to God. Oh, all the exhortation to be strong in the Lord, to endure, to acquit you like men and be strong, does not mean with this natural strength. It is another kind of strength, and a very different kind, a strength which is only seen by our ability to let other people sometimes have their way, to get what they are after and set us at nought. They hold, grip, maintain things in their hands to our disadvantage, and our real strength is in our weakness. The Apostle Paul put this into words. Read the second chapter of the Letter to the Philippians: “Christ Jesus, who, being in the form or God, counted it not a prize to be on equality with God, but emptied himself, taking the form of a bondservant… becoming obedient, even unto death, yea, the death of the cross.” Well, has it proved to be the right thing? ‘We are being changed…’ Do you see the point now?

(..to be continued..)

Reference T A Spark

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Undeveloped Lives – Undeveloped Talent (1)


English: A corn field in Liechtenstein. Keywor...

English: A corn field in Liechtenstein. Keywords: Field, corn, Liechtenstein, Mountains, Alps, Vaduz, sky, clouds, landscape. Español: Una plantación de maíz en Liechtenstein. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone — Joh_12:24

Waste in Nature

In the summer, when the world is at its fairest, one thing that impresses us very strongly is what I might call the prodigality of nature. Every flower is busy fashioning its seeds; there are trees with thousands of seed pods on them; and we know that of all these millions of seeds being formed, not one in ten thousand will ever come to anything. Now, I am not going to speak of the problems suggested by that wastefulness. I wish rather to say a word or two upon the subject of undeveloped lives. In every corn of wheat that finds no congenial soil, there are undeveloped possibilities of harvest; and that suggests to me the question that often confronts us, is the question of undeveloped lives.

The Possibilities of Life Often Overwhelm Us

There are some seasons when we feel this more acutely. Allow me to recall some of these times to you. One is the hour when we are brought into contact with a strong and radiant personality. There is something very stimulating in such company, but often there is something strangely depressing too. Most of us have felt some sinking of the heart in the presence of exuberant vitality. I do not mean that we are repressed or chilled; it is not the great souls, it is the little souls, that chill us. But I mean that the possibilities of life so overwhelm us, in the splendid outflow of a radiant nature, that we feel immediately, perhaps to the point of heart-sinking, how undeveloped our own life must be.

Again, we feel it in these rarer moments that come to us all sometimes, we know not how—moments when life ceases to be a tangle, and flashes up into a glorious unity. In such hours it is a joy to be alive; thought is intense; things quiver with significance. There is a passing expansion of every power and faculty, touched by mysterious influences we cannot gauge. I think that for Jesus every hour was like that. For us, such hours are like angels’ visits. But when they come they bring such visions of the possible, that we feel bitterly how poor are our common days. If this is our measure we are not living to scale. If this is our waking, is not our life a sleep? It is in the rarer and loftier moments, then, that we apprehend the meaning of undeveloped life.

Early Death Brings Sorrow of Undeveloped Lives

But perhaps it is in the presence of early death that the thought reaches us with its full pressure. For the tragedy of early death is not its suffering; it is the blighted promise and the hope that is never crowned. I scarcely wonder that in well-nigh every cemetery you shall see a broken column as a monument. It is hardly Christian, but it is very human, and I do not think God will be hard on what is human. Wherever death is, you have mystery. But in the death of the young the mystery is doubled. And where there were high gifts of heart and intellect, the mystery is deepened a thousand fold. Why all this promise? Why this noble overture? Why, when the pattern is just beginning to show comes the blind fury with the abhorred shears and slits the thin-spun life? The great mystery of the early grave is the sorrow of undeveloped lives.

(to be continued..)

Unwarrantable Interferences 11


Times We Must Leave Men Alone

If there are times when we must leave God alone, there are times when we must let men alone. And that is our second thought; there are times when we must let men alone.

And here again, as was the case with God, these times are rarely the times when men would like it. The very hour when a man cries to be let alone may be the very hour when I dare not do so. The Bible is full of instances of that. One notable one springs up, and it is this. It is the morning when Jesus entered the synagogue at Capernaum, and there was a man with an unclean spirit there. And the man cried, “Let us alone, what have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth?” And Jesus? Jesus rebuked him saying, “Hold thy peace and come out of him.” It was impossible for Christ, just because He was the Christ, to let that devil-ridden soul alone. And wherever men are living on in sin, helpless and bound, strangers to peace and God, the Church of Jesus Christ cannot let them be. A sinful soul may cry, Let me alone! But with a sweet and masterful intolerance, Christ is still deaf to that; and we must help, and we must save mankind, even against their own wishes.

This grace, then, of letting alone, frees no man from his moral responsibility either towards his wandered or his heathen brother. Where, then, does it enter into human life? We shall take another Gospel incident and see. I find Christ sitting at Simon the leper‘s table, and the woman who was a sinner is kneeling there, and she has broken the alabaster box and is pouring the precious ointment on the feet of Jesus. And the disciples murmur and are indignant. They cannot understand this gross extravagance. “Might not this ointment have been sold for three hundred pence and given to the poor?” Let her alone, says Jesus, why trouble ye the woman? Let her alone, you do not understand. She is serving with a service of her own, moved by the passion of an all-pardoning love: there is one work; there is one character for her; there is another service and another life for you.

And that is one glory of the Gospel. It does not crush men into one common mould, but it gives the greatest freedom to individuality and perfects and crowns each struggling soul uniquely. You are never yourself till you are Christ’s, and woe to that preaching of an exalted Lord that forces men’s service into a common type! It is not because I want to be original, it is because I want to be a Christian, that I say to all murmuring disciples, let me alone; I have my box to break; it is not yours. I want to see the keen man, the man who is honorable and Christian in his business. And I want to see the philanthropist, the man who is eagerly bent on doing good. And I want to see the dreamer, the man who feels the beauty of the world, and never does anything, perhaps, except reflect it. And I wish to say to the philanthropist, Do not upbraid the merchant. And I wish to say to the keen man of business, Do not despise the dreamer. Let him alone. He too is serving God. There is need for the purification of the market. There is need for heroic work among the poor. There is need that the beautiful should be interpreted. And when all is over and the morning breaks and the manifold service of a million hearts is unified in Christ, you will be thankful that you let others alone, for there will be more “well done” than you have ever dreamed!

In the meantime, let us all and individually work out our own salvation with fear and trembling.

Pray That God Never Lets You Alone

There are times, then, when we must leave God alone. There are times when we must let man alone. I just want to say this in closing: Heaven grant it that God never lets you or me alone.

There is a terrible text in the Old Testament: “Ephraim is joined to his idols: let him alone.” I have pleaded with Ephraim, says God, for years. I have pleaded with Ephraim as a father with his child. But Ephraim has spurned Me; he has given his heart to his idols; and Ephraim is reprobate. His day of grace has set. “Ephraim is joined to his idols: let him alone.” Drive on thy chariot, Ephraim, to thy hell. There is a terrible text in the New Testament. It is when Jesus says to Judas, “What thou doest, do quickly.” For I have pleaded with thee, O Judas; I have prayed with thee. And now his doom is sealed; let him alone. Out, Judas, get it over, get it done, and to thine own place, hastily.

The hour then comes when God really lets us alone. May that not be your portion.

Do you say that hour will never come to you? Watch! For it is not by a desperate career, and it is not by one black and awful deed, that a man shall sin away the grace of God. It is by the silent hardening of our common days, the almost unnoticed tampering with conscience, the steady dying-out of what is best under the pressure of a worldly and adulterous city; it is by that the spiritual dies, it is by that men become castaways.

Better the harshest discipline than that.

Great God of mercy, let none of us alone! Deal with us, lead us, chasten us as Thou wilt, if only we be sanctified, ennobled, and drawn out of self into the light of Him who is chiefest among ten thousand and altogether lovely.

As I close, I pray that the eyes of our understanding may be enlightened and may we desire the patience and mind of Christ Amen.

Rebecca Ajibola

The Man Who Does No Miracle


Tomb of St. John the Baptist at a Coptic monas...

Tomb of St. John the Baptist at a Coptic monastery in Lower Egypt. The bones of St. John the Baptist were said to have been found here. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

John did no miracle: but all things that John spake of this man were true— Joh_10:41

The Brilliant and the Average

The kind of man who does no miracle is the kind we are meeting every day. He is the man who never makes us marvel. There are men like Shakespeare who cannot take up a pen without enriching us with miracles of wisdom. There are women who delight us with miracles of song. But the average man is different from that. One can reckon on the thing that he will do. It is the sort of thing that we can do ourselves. Now, brilliance may be perilous; but mediocrity also has perils. Remember that in the Master’s story it was the man of the one talent who made shipwreck. So it may help us to consider briefly what Scripture has to teach about a man who never did a miracle.

Even Though John Didn’t Do Any Miracles. He Had a Lofty Character

First, the Baptist did no miracle, yet he had a lofty character. Perhaps we should be aware of that more vividly if the Baptist did not stand so close to Jesus. A flower is apt to blossom unobserved if it be near one that is altogether lovely. And our blessed Lord, in that perfect poise of His, was “altogether lovely.” So that often we are likely to miss, from its very proximity to what was perfect, the grandeur of the character of John. How true he was in every relationship! How wise in the midst of tumultuous excitements! How brave both in the desert and the dungeon! How exquisitely and gloriously humble!—and all this loftiness and moral worth found, not in the child of genius, but in the man who never did a miracle. Character does not demand great gifts. Character can ripen in the commonplace. Men who have no wonder-working genius can “come smiling from the world’s great snare uncaught.” And to do that, when life is difficult, and skies are dark and temptations are insistent is to reach the sunrise and the crown.

John Had a Special Work to Do

Again, the Baptist did no miracle, yet God gave him a special work to do. It was the work of witnessing to Christ, and John fulfilled it in the noblest way. Others dreamed that the Messiah would come in splendor: John witnessed that He was in their midst. Others dreamed that He would appear in sovereignty: John witnessed that He was the Lamb of God. And this great mission, of such supreme importance in the loving purposes of heaven, was given to a man who did no miracle. We are so apt to think that special service is only given to very special people, that great tasks are not for common folk but for men of wonder-working gifts. And the beautiful lesson of our text is this, that though you may have no power to do a miracle, for you, too, there is a special service-something that only you can do; something that won’t be done unless you do it; something the world needs, which you and you only can supply—you, not dowered with any gift of miracle. Business men in a humble way of business, mothers in undistinguished homes, riveters working in the shipyards, clerks and typists in the city offices—such do no miracles and never will save the one miracle of patient drudgery; yet God for each has a special work to do.

John’s Influence

Then the Baptist did no miracle, yet he exercised a deep and lasting influence. It was of that, in part, our Lord was thinking when He said that John was greater than the prophets. In the long history of Israel none were more influential than the prophets. They stirred the conscience; they revived the state; they brought God to bear on daily life. But even greater than that prophetic influence was the influence of John the Baptist—yet John was a man who never did a miracle. Is not that true of human life? Most of us in our journey through the years have met with some who had the gift of miracle—some who could take a common thing and touch it, and it would blossom into a world of beauty. And for all these wonderful gifts we shall be grateful, for every good and perfect gift is from above, but—are these the folk who have influenced us most? Is it not far more often common, humble people, dowered with no extraordinary gifts?—a wife or mother, a wise and faithful friend, a minister whom none would call a genius? It is one of life’s most perfect compensations that influence does not depend on brilliance but comes to those (like John) who do no miracle.

God’s “Well Done” Is for the Faithful Man

Lastly, the Baptist did no miracle, yet he won the highest praise of Christ. “Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John.” A man may lead a false and rotten life and yet win the praise of men. The acid test of the successful life is this: does it win the praise of Christ? And the fine thing is that to win that praise one does not need to be wonderful or striking: it is given to those who may do no miracle—to those who trust Him when everything is dark; to those who keep their faces towards the morning; to those who, through headache and through heartache, quietly and doggedly do their appointed bit; to those who “endure” with a smile upon their lips; to those who help a brother by the way; to those who look for a city which hath foundations. In this big world there is room for every gift and for every genius who has the power of miracle. But in this big world there is room and power and victory for the great multitude who do no miracle. It is not “Well done, thou good and brilliant servant,” else would there be little hope for millions. It is “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.”

 

Celebrated Christ – The New Man


The celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ is a proof that He is not an ordinary person.

I tell you, not only was He born into this world but there is something special about Him. His birth was the coming of someone who delivered us from sin and reconciled us back to God so that we can be who God purposed us to be.

God said that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us. This is the demonstration of God’s love towards us (mankind). The birth of Jesus Christ was the birth of the only Saviour sent by God Himself to deliver us from sin and eternal destruction. It was also the birth of the Him who alone can deliver us from the present problems of this present world.

The terrible state of this world is caused by the sinful nature of man and this sinful nature is a nature inherited from the first created man called Adam. If you sin it is because of your nature, and you can only stop sinning by changing your nature. But nature cannot be changed, it can only be stopped through death. This is why Jesus Christ died in your place. Every man dies because of disobedience to God but Jesus died because of obedience to God who sent Him to save us and because of His love for us.

Do you know that nobody learns your nature ? NO. Your nature is WHO YOU ARE. For example, Dogs bark because it is their nature. Also man sins and is corrupt because it is his nature but not because God created him like that but because the first man called Adam sinned thereby corrupting the good nature God gave him and since then, man has been reproducing and populating the world with men according to himself through birth.

Sinful man can only reproduce sinful children. Just as a child born into a family looks like a member of that family.

To solve this problem, God sent Jesus Christ, the Son of God, a Man who cannot sin because He was born of a virgin woman by the supernatural power of the Almighty God so that the sinful nature of man would not be transferred into Him. Therefore we know that He was born of a righteous and Holy nature without sin.

This was why He lived in this same world and did not sin. He became qualified to represent us all. His death was your death, I mean the death of your sinful nature and His resurrection was your resurrection, I mean being raised up as a new kind of man which is righteous before God. This is the only way out of this world’s problems. Sickness, Poverty, Nightmares, Diseases, Famine, Earthquakes, Natural disasters, Wars, Killings, Murder etc are all consequences of having the sinful nature.

But once the sin nature is dealt with, all the above stated problems in this world and others not mention will have no ground to stand any more. And I am telling you now that Jesus Christ has already dealt with the sin nature. But to enjoy what He has done, you have to believe in Him and invite Him into your life. This is called PERSONAL DECISION. You know God is Love. And love is not forceful, and is not controlling neither is it intimidating. But love gives chances to personal decision but with personal decisions comes responsibilities for decisions made.

This is only a plead to you from a fellow man who has the same weaknesses and sinful nature as you but I have experienced the grace of God and what Jesus Christ did has totally transformed my life and many others all over the world. I can tell you, this message of Jesus Christ is true and it works.

If sin was inherited through one man, then righteousness and holiness which is the nature of God can also be inherited if there is a man who has it. That Man is Jesus Christ , the Son of God.

When He was crucified on the cross and died, it was because of all our sins. Please dear friends, all your sins has already being paid for through the suffering of Jesus Christ and His resurrection is also your resurrection into a new kind of life of peace, righteousness, and complete reconciliation to God.

Remember through the first man, you became a sinner by nature and now another Man Jesus Christ the righteous has paid the price for your sins and through Him you can also inherit the righteous nature of God and become a new person in Christ, if you will only believe in Him and give Him your life by acknowledging before God that you are a sinner and ask Jesus Christ the only Saviour to be your Lord.

Shalom

How can I begin to break the silence and be open about being sexually abused as a child?


Every time my stepfather touched me, I felt as if I was losing a small piece of me. As I got smaller and smaller, our secret seemed to grow bigger and bigger. The silence was cramming all the small, shattered pieces of me into some secret, shameful box that I hoped no one would ever open.

I am not alone. Every day I receive e-mails from people who have been sexually abused and have kept silent about it. Many survivors who have lived in silence falsely believe that talking about their abuse will not only do nothing to reduce their shame and isolation, but that it will actually make things worse.

Survivors of childhood sexual abuse long to be accepted for who we are. As children, we never felt accepted because we believed something was wrong with us. We thought something about us was bad and deserved punishment. Now, as adults, it doesn’t make sense that someone would accept us just because we’re not being abused anymore. So we decide to become someone else—someone others will accept and maybe even love.

But even though our façade helps win us the acceptance of others, we feel exactly the same inside. Contrary to what we believed, we do not feel better. We still can’t accept ourselves, for we don’t even know the real us. We long to know who we really are. But we find we fear it just as much as we long for it. It seems easier to just keep faking it.

When I decided to get real, I took small, quick breaths of fresh air. A little trust here. A little openness there. I kept the blanket off just long enough to know I was making progress. But as I kept working at getting real, I began to realize what I was looking for was a community where I could heal, where I could find acceptance, love, purpose and hope. I was looking for a circle of inspiration.

Creating your own circle can take a while. Most of the time, no one will know that you even need this kind of support until you speak up about it. Hence my passion and focus on empowering survivors to break the silence. It also takes time to build relationships by learning to trust again and allowing others to know you.

Your circle may seem small or even nonexistent at this point. You may still be holding your breath, too afraid to breathe. But just as Jesus got to choose the men He wanted in His circle, you get to choose the people you want in yours. You’re the only one who decides who will get to hear your story and have the high honor of getting to know the real you.

We need to find people we trust—or people we can begin to try to trust—and share our story with them. This is where our healing journey begins and where our circle of inspiration starts to grow. So to begin to form your circle, start with someone you feel you can trust. Chances are, this person will be caring and compassionate, someone who is willing to reach out to you in your pain.

(Help is out there, you dont have to tolerate or accept any nonsense because that is what sexual abuse is, please do not suffer in silence. No man has the right to Lord over another human being. It is not acceptable. Contact us or simple email us for counsel; Pastor Rebecca).

The Servant of God


First page of the Gospel of Mark, by Sargis Pi...

First page of the Gospel of Mark, by Sargis Pitsak, a Medieval Armenian scribe and miniaturist (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In choosing a model of a servant of Christ, we instinctively turn to St. Paul. He seems to us to be the most outstanding in every way, and from the greatness of his achievements, the success of his methods, the amazement of his endurance, and his dominating objective, we must get back to his own conception of himself as a worker.

He has given us that conception in many significant and suggestive phrases, some of which we select at once. Not once only, but frequently, he refers to himself as “the servant of Jesus Christ.”

Now I venture to say that a right understanding and apprehension of that word “servant” – as Paul used it – is calculated, without other designations, to revolutionize all of our work for the Master.
The actual word used by Paul was “bondslave,” and by it we are thrown back into the social conditions of the world in those days. Slavery was a part of the social life of that time, and the readers of Paul’s letters were all quite well acquainted with the ideas and customs connected with that system; indeed, some of those readers were slaves themselves. Paul looked upon himself as having been bought by Christ. He gloried in that ownership, and whenever opportunity presented itself he boasted that he was Christ’s. To him that ownership was permanent. The slave was bound for life, and there could be no termination of the relationship or obligations.

The transaction was permanently marked by branding (“I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus”). Professor Mahaffy says:
“In the numerous records of manumissions found at Delphi and at other shrines in Greece, we have learned the legal process by which a slave gained his liberty. He did not bring his master his earnings and obtain his freedom with his receipt for the money, but went to the temple of the god and there paid in his money to the priests; who then with the money bought the slave from his master on the part of the god, and he became for the rest of his life a slave of the god. If at any future time his master or his master’s heirs reclaimed him, he had the record of the transaction in the temple…. If he travelled from home and were seized as a runaway slave, what security could he have? Paul gives us the answer. When liberated at the temple, the priest branded him with the ‘stigmata’ of his new master, Apollo. Now Paul’s words acquire a new and striking application. He had been the slave of sin; but he had been purchased by Christ, and his new liberty consisted in his being the slave of Christ. Henceforth, he says, let no man attempt to reclaim me; I have been marked with the brand of my new master, Jesus Christ.”

On the one hand, this Pauline conception of the absolute and indelible proprietorship of Christ throws much of our modern “service” into striking contrast. Rather than being in willing, full, and free servitude, vassalage, and slavery to Christ, we often regard our service as a kind of religious holiday affair. We may be interested, we may be philanthropic, we may be condescending, or we may be dutiful, but we are certainly not under any compulsion. We can do pretty much as we like about it, and if things do not suit us, we can either “throw up” our work altogether or go where we shall be more appreciated or where things are smoother sailing.

So today, the “worker” too often makes the cause serve him or her instead of being the servant of the cause. Paul took his directions as to sphere, time, and kind of work from his Master, Christ, and relegated every concern to Him. He was not his own, and he could not use either his powers or his time as directed by the flesh.

But on the other hand, he was fully aware and convinced that this “slavery” to Christ was for him the greatest thing in the world. He had caught the true significance of the Master’s invitation to “Take my yoke… and you shall find rest unto your souls.” That, to Paul, meant control and direction for the most serviceable life.

The stream rushes aimlessly, frivolously, and noisily on until it is yoked by a water-wheel, and then – by its arrest – it grinds the grain to feed mankind. The wind blows wildly to no purpose on the sea until the mariner yokes it with his sail, and thus it is harnessed to bear the enriching cargoes from shore to shore. To capture the electricity which would otherwise be lost, we suspend our telegraph wires and direct it intelligently along them, bringing the whole world into an intimate association. And so, as in these and many other ways, the yoke is the symbol of useful control and serviceable direction. Paul knew that the yoke of Christ’s service and association would make his life more fruitful than his own independence. There is a liberty which leads to havoc, ruin, uselessness, and remorse.

But the supreme element in Paul’s abandonment to Christ was a strong, clear sense of what Christ had done for him… and a perpetual consciousness of what Christ was to him. There is nothing which makes slaves of us more than love, and it is an ecstatic and sublime slavery which never wants release, and only dreads that a breach might at some time come. In the captivity of Christ’s love, Paul would ever be found doing everything which would preserve it from suffering hunger in his life, and he would ever be found praying that the “marks” might be burnt more and more deeply into his soul.
“Who that one moment has the least descried Him, Dimly and faintly, hidden and afar, Doth not despise all excellence beside Him, Pleasures and powers that are not and that are.

“I am persuaded that nothing shall sunder Us from the love that saveth us from sin, Lift it or lose hereover or hereunder, Pluck it hereout or strangle it herein.”

For effectual Christian service and the more powerful corporate testimony of the Church, it must be realized that the Divine calling and equipment for the prophetic, or pastoral, or teaching, or evangelistic, or apostolic work is not centered in one man in any given community, but that these personal gifts are distributed over the whole Church. Every true disciple of Christ is called to be a “servant of the Lord,” and he should prayerfully seek to know in what specific capacity He calls him to serve – not taking up work at random, but having sought His guidance he should give himself earnestly, devotedly, and vigorously to his special ministry… and regard his calling as from God.

The “marks” of Christ must be seen upon His servants whether in the place where the Lord’s people assemble, the business, the home, or the social circle; and he must ever be proud to say of Him: “Whose I am, and Whom I serve.”
A vital relationship with Christ born of a deep personal appreciation of what He has done for… and daily is to… our souls, and a clear understanding with a profound conviction of what He wishes to do through our instrumentality – these, covered by a complete and utter abandonment to Him, are the only legitimate grounds for His service. Of such servants the world and the Church stand in tragic and pathetic need, and by such all problems of ineffectiveness and failure are solved. Such never take up the work lightly, and therefore never give it up easily – if at all.
Every Christian must conceive of himself or herself as being definitely called by God into the “fellowship of His Son,” and as “workers together with Him.” He must know that this calling is a solemn and irrevocable ordination to “the work of the ministry.”

To be Christ’s own purchased possession… and to be Christ’s own controlled, directed, and equipped servant… is to have the strength of a great assurance that nothing can separate you from Him; that you work under supreme authority; that all the resources of Christ are at your disposal; and that while doing His work there can be no ultimate failure – unless He is ultimately to fail, an eventuality which is impossible.

This is a service which is eternal and supreme; yet it is only the probation for “higher service” where and when “His servants shall serve Him… and they shall see His face.”

“Christ! I am Christ’s! And let the name suffice you; Ay, for me, too, He greatly hath sufficed. Lo, with no winning words I would entice you, Paul has no honor and no friend but Christ.

“Yea, through life, death, through sorrow and through sinning, He shall suffice me, for He hath sufficed: Christ is the end, for Christ is the beginning, Christ the beginning, for the end is Christ.”

It is so important, beloved, that we should be clear on this matter of service, and it will save us so much sorrow and heartbreak if we have this right as early as possible. We do not want to spend time in pointing out the tremendous mistakenness which prevails far and wide in this respect. “Christian service” has come to be a realm in which all the acquisitive, ambitious, obtrusive, assertive, self-seeking, and numerous other elements of the natural man have been vented and taken hold. It has created a system in which human distinctions are the order of the day. Yes, and much more which it is too painful to mention.

We need an adjustment of our minds by a true spiritual perception of the real nature of service, and it will be well for us ever to remember that all work for Christ is not service to Christ. A child may be very well-meaning and industrious in its “helping mother” (?), but poor mother may find rather more work created than done.

Now let us say right away… with emphasis… that the indispensable and basic thing to real service is THE SERVANT-SPIRIT AND THE SERVANT-MIND. The matter of service is infinitely more than busy-ness in religious causes, earthly activities in Christian interests; it is the accomplishment of a heavenly will and Divine purpose which registers its impact in the breaking of another, foreign will and destroying the works of the devil. This is the force of “obedience” and the “not my will” …and this is the servant-mind and servant-spirit.

When a slave in Israel had fulfilled his time and could claim his liberty but preferred to remain with his master, he was taken on to the threshold and his ear was bored with an awl. The blood fell on the threshold, and he and his master stepped across that blood; by so doing, a covenant of service – now the service of love – was entered upon. To have stepped UPON the blood and “trodden it under foot” would have been to have “counted it an unholy thing,” but passing over (“passover”) it hand in hand was a covenant too sacred ever to be broken. So we are reminded that “we are not our own; we are bought with a price, even the precious blood.”

The basic vision of all true service is that of “the Lord high and lifted up,” His train filling “the Temple,” resulting in ourselves being smitten to the ground with a realization of our own worthlessness. Such a vision makes us forever not masters but slaves… and necessitates an abiding application of blood-soaked, fire-impregnated coal from the altar if we are to be sent-ones – His servants.

Might it not be laid to our charge that our vision of service held ourselves high and lifted up and filling the frame as the goal… until we saw the Lord, and then – in that light – saw ourselves as worthless?
The Lord’s need is to have bond-servants – such as… even though the extreme pressure at some time might make them say that they would “no more speak in this Name” …find that they cannot forbear for long; but cost what it may, they must be in it and at it – the fire is in their bones and zeal of His House eats them up. May we be such, and may the true ground and motive of this fellowship in service be:
“I love, I love my Master, I will not go out free! For He is my Redeemer, He paid the price for me. I would not leave His service, It is so sweet and blest; And in the weariest moments He gives the truest rest.
“My Master shed His life-blood My vassal life to win, And save me from the bondage Of tyrant self and sin. He chose me for His service, And gave me power to choose That blessed, perfect freedom Which I shall never lose.
“I would not halve my service, His only it must be! His only, Who so loved me And gave Himself for me. Rejoicing and adoring, Henceforth my song shall be ‘I love, I love my Master, I will not go out free!'”

For the work of God a wisdom and a skill different from… and far transcending… that of man at his best is essential. A wisdom which is the gift of God. A wisdom, however, which is very often foolishness to men, and yet which – when the work is done – makes the wisdom of men look like foolishness.

Many things are being constructed to which the Name of the Lord is being affixed – things which appear fine and great and like “the Church,” but which are destined to collapse when God’s hurricane and fire test every man’s work. Good works – philanthropy, hospitality, reform, education, religion, relief, etc. – may be the products, or byproducts, of what is called “Christian civilization” …and things for which to be profoundly grateful… but let us not confuse these with “a new creation,” regeneration, a being “born from above.”

The Church is nothing which man can build by any resource in himself personally or collectively. The Church is an organism, not an organization: “Behold, I show you a mystery – we are members of His flesh and of His bones.” Build that, if you can! Launch that; organize that; “run” that! It cannot be done. It is the spontaneous outworking of spiritual forces released… in the acceptance by faith of tremendous facts concerning Christ – facts which are proclaimed out of experience in the power of the Holy Ghost. Not the theological Christ; not the doctrinal Christ; not the Christ of the letter; much less the Jesus of history; but the Christ of Eternity in all the meaning of His death, burial, resurrection, and ascension into the Throne of God revealed in the heart by the Holy Spirit – this alone is authority to preach, to serve, to occupy position, to “build” in relation to the House of God. It is folly to spend time and strength otherwise. It is wisdom to labor on this foundation.

Many inquiries have been set up as to the unsatisfactory situation which exists for so great an area in relation to the gospel and Christian life – questions concerning widespread indifference, gospel-hardening, wholesale backsliding, disappointing “converts,” ineffective Christians, low level of spiritual life, worldliness in the “Church,” the misleading of believers by false doctrine and deceiving spirits, spiritual immaturity, etc., etc.

To some extent such conditions existed from the beginning, even in the great apostolic days, but it was then much more the exception than now. It was then something in the midst of the greater and better conditions which made the apostolic Church so mighty in the world. Now it would seem to be the other way round. The genuine thing is the smaller company in the midst of the more general failure.

Far be it from us to join in the tirade against that which bears “His” name, but we are so constantly confronted with the heartbreaking story of the difficulties of service, the disappointment of workers, the despair of Christians, that we must enter the inquiry and seek to help.

Now without pressing it as our conviction – which it certainly is – we would present it as a question:
May not this state be largely due to an inadequate gospel?
Is the means used such as is calculated to achieve the tremendous end in view?
Have we an adequate conception of what that end is?
May it not be that such an inadequate conception has resulted in the eliminating or neglecting of essentials on the one hand, and the laboring of certain unworthy factors on the other?

With regard to the latter: Is fear of hell and gain of heaven really worthy of the “so great salvation”? Is the horror of being doomed to eternal punishment – giving rise to all the sensational means and methods by which fear is meant to be produced – really a sufficient motive? Is the personal going to heaven, with all the personal gains and pleasures associated therewith – producing all the sentimental appeals intended to capture by pathos, emotion, excitement, pleasure, etc. – really mighty enough to bring through the eternal purpose? The gospel of “escape from hell and going to heaven,” with all the cheap elements of its proclamation which has nauseated so many and turned them away in disgust – may it not be this gospel which prejudices the true and has become played out in the emotions of many who can no longer be appealed to along these lines, setting up a gospel deadlock?

It is absolutely essential that if all the great purpose of God with its vast inclusions is to be entered into, and if there is to be an adequate impact upon men, there must be the sufficient background of the New Testament evangel. It would be very salutary if every “Christian worker” were to sit down… or kneel down… and prayerfully consider the background of New Testament preaching, exhortation, admonition, entreaty, appeal, instruction.

It will be discovered that that background begins in eternity past, before times eternal, in the eternal counsels of God. It will reveal a conception and design with which every movement and gesture of God throughout the ages is related. It will explain the existence of the universe and the purpose of the whole creation. It will set the sovereignty of the Son at the center and make it also the circumference. It will reveal that each soul saved is a vindication of the wisdom of God in plan and creation… and the justification of the existence of the world.

Salvation – conversion – is never something in itself. An ultra-individualism in being saved or in seeking the salvation of others is contrary to the Scriptures… and is baneful. The “therefores” and the “wherefores” of the New Testament are pegs upon which hang vast ranges and mighty weights of spiritual significance and reason.

Why should men be saved? Why should I be utterly abandoned to Christ? Why should I accept the Cross of Christ in its total application to all the elements of my natural life? Why should I leave all for the Gospel’s sake? These and many other such questions must be answered in the light of that infinite background of “the eternal purpose” in the first place.
True it is that conversions take place from the preaching of the immediate issues of sin and hell… and salvation from these. But so often such remains for a long time with but the personal salvation and the immediate issue and a single note. Why should maturity be so long delayed – the nursery so long occupied? Why not the full compass of Divine Meaning from the beginning? Again we ask, may not the widespread failure of a certain evangelism be due to an inadequate motive?
Then in the next place there must be an ADEQUATE DYNAMIC. There is no subject which concerns the servants of the Lord more than that of spiritual power and effectiveness. We have prayed about this until we despaired. We have read books upon it until we were sick. Yes, we have spoken about it ourselves until shame has silenced us.

We see the apostolic example and demonstration. We know the Master’s promise. We know the doctrine and teaching basic to power. But what of the power itself?

Far be it from us to think that we can improve upon, or profitably add to, all that has been written. But if the Lord has taken us through an experience which has made possible an unfolding of His secrets, it will not be conceit on our part if we humbly place such at the service of His children.
It is not sufficient that we recognize the need for power and pray for it. Indeed, it might be very unsafe for the gospel and for the Name of the Lord if it were given. It is of primary importance that we should know the nature and the basis of power. It is equally important that we should recognize that it is that power which has as its object the building of the “House” – the “Temple” of God.

From Genesis to Revelation, resurrection is invariably the basis upon which the direct purpose of God is carried forward. Every instrument which is used in that direct purpose has to be wrought on to a basis of resurrection. The experimental spiritual ground upon which the Church stood at Pentecost was the Resurrection. Paul’s whole life and work rested upon his own experience of the Resurrection. The basis of power is Resurrection union with Christ. The principle of “the eternal purpose” is Resurrection Life in Christ. The Holy Spirit comes only upon Resurrection ground. Power is to “know Him and the power of His Resurrection….” By that Life the Holy Spirit constitutes the believer a personal demonstration of the Resurrection, and the word of testimony thereto is only a consequence… but it is a consequence.

In the meantime, “the eternal purpose” proceeds, but it proceeds only in those and through those who have firstly recognized the death of Jesus as their death… and then accepted it in one all-inclusive reckoning of faith, trusting God to make it actual. They have claimed and apprehended by faith their inheritance in the Risen Lord, even Resurrection Life. It becomes the exclusive basis of all the activities of God within and through His children relative to the eternal purpose. But it is Resurrection Life – mighty, unconquerable, indestructible, deathless. The Holy Spirit is the seal of the Resurrection, and the Holy Spirit’s law of operation is Divine Life.

The Riches of HIS Grace


“In whom we have our redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace” (Eph. 1:7).
In his Letters the Apostle Paul uses the word ‘riches’ some thirteen times. Each occasion has a context which is deeply valuable. From these we take this one: “The riches of His grace”, and we are going to let David and Solomon be our example of this superlative grace. I would just like that you look at one or two fragments in the first book of the Chronicles, chapter 28, verses 1-6:

“And David assembled all the princes of Israel, the princes of the tribes, and the captains of the companies that served the king by course, and the captains of thousands, and the captains of hundreds, and the rulers over all the substance and possessions of the king, and of his sons, with the officers and the mighty men, even all the mighty men of valour, unto Jerusalem. Then David the king stood up upon his feet, and said, Hear me, my brethren, and my people: as for me, it was in mine heart to build an house of rest for the ark of the covenant of the Lord, and for the footstool of our God; and I had made ready for the building. But God said unto me, Thou shalt not build an house for my name, because thou art a man of war, and hast shed blood. Howbeit the Lord, the God of Israel, chose me out of all the house of my father to be king over Israel for ever: for he hath chosen Judah to be prince; and in the house of Judah, the house of my father: and among the sons of my father he took pleasure in me to make me king over all Israel: and of all my sons, (for the Lord hath given me many sons) he hath chosen Solomon my son to sit upon the throne of the kingdom of the Lord over Israel. And he said unto me, Solomon thy son, he shall build my house and my courts: for I have chosen him to be my son, and I will be his father.”
“Then Solomon began to build the house of the Lord” (2 Chronicles 3:1).
“And Solomon the son of David was strengthened in his kingdom, and the Lord his God was with him, and magnified him exceedingly” (2 Chronicles 1:1).


We have said that the summit of Old Testament fullness was reached in Solomon, and we shall find that Solomon will lead us to Christ, and then Solomon will be eclipsed, as out of view, when the Greater than Solomon is here. Solomon’s wealth and wisdom and glory and heritage are proverbial and fabulous, renowned, and far famed. He does represent the summit of kingship and glory in the Old Testament. Jesus Himself acknowledged the greatness of Solomon on two occasions, you remember. He pointed to the flowers in the field and said: “Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: yet I say unto you, that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.” Solomon in all his glory was proverbial, even in those days; Jesus Himself acknowledged it. On another occasion He said: “The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgment with this generation and shall condemn it; for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon,” acknowledging the great place that Solomon had in the world of wisdom. But then Jesus added after that, “Solomon in all his glory”, and ‘Solomon in all his wisdom’, that “a greater than Solomon is here”. Solomon fades when Jesus arrives. The unsearchable riches of Christ! We have, then, to consider how in various respects Jesus is greater than Solomon.

One thing that we have been saying, and that is in our hearts in this time together, is our great need for a new apprehension of the Lord Jesus to adjust everything for us. But there are two preliminary considerations before we can proceed with this matter. Why did God magnify Solomon? For it says that “the Lord magnified Solomon above all that have been before him”. The Lord endowed Solomon with this fabulous, proverbial greatness of wealth, dominion and wisdom. Why did He do it? God from eternity has only one person in view, and that person was not Solomon, nor any other one but His Son, and if the Lord so magnified Solomon, it was to bring His Son, the still greater, into view. Through the greatest thing He could do here on this earth to lead on to the much greater of the heavenly. God had His Son in view, the other One, the Greater than Solomon, and that is why He did it. I wish Solomon had known that! It would have saved him a great deal of historic tragedy. If we really saw that, and this One, this only One, were ever filling our vision, all these tragedies, mistakes and blunders that we make – or that Solomon did later – would be obviated.

Oh, the wonderful things that God said seemingly about Solomon could never possibly have been fulfilled in Solomon himself. They were quite beyond him! God was reaching beyond this man in the things that He seemingly said about him, and to him, and you have to pick up your New Testament in order to discover to Whom they really applied. Well, we may come on that as we go on, but the point is that we must not see Solomon as just the end in himself. We must look through him to Another and see that God in His sovereignty magnified and glorified this Solomon only with another One in view, and in the long run we shall see the Greater than Solomon, the Greater than the greatest that God has ever done on this earth.

Another thing we must remember in this preliminary consideration is that Solomon was not really himself. I mean this: Solomon was his father, David. Solomon was the fullness of his father, David, and you can never see Solomon without seeing David. That is, it was not so much the person as the significance of the person that is present in contemplating Solomon. When you turn to the New Testament, Solomon is only referred to, at most a half a dozen times, almost in a casual way, but David is referred to in a very positive way over thirty times. That is a statement you must dwell upon, of course, to verify. When you open your New Testament at the first book, the Gospel by Matthew, you find that you have read but a few words and you are on David. He comes there, in that place of priority, right at the beginning of the New Testament. You go through the New Testament and, as I have said, you will find yourself with David more than thirty times. Right on the last page, in the twenty-second chapter of the book of the Revelation, David creeps up again. This man is something very wonderful, very full, and he has a very large place. There is one clause in Isaiah 55, and repeated in the New Testament, which defines this as “the sure mercies of David”. Oh, to be able to plumb the depth of that! This morning we shall see a little of it – “the sure mercies of David”.

All that pertained to Solomon was “the sure mercies of David”, and that brings us to the first of the greatnesses, the first of the “unsearchable riches of Christ”, the first in Ephesians, and everywhere and always: The riches of His grace. Have you seen the riches of His grace as conveyed to us by Solomon? Having seen the great eminence of glory, of wealth, of wisdom to which God brought this man Solomon, we have to look to see where it all began. Where did all that begin?

There is a very dark background indeed to Solomon’s birth and life. We have said that he was the fullness of his father, David. Solomon was the son of David’s old age. He was not the only son – we read: “God hath given me many sons”. We know some of them, and one in particular – Absalom. But Solomon was the son of David’s old age, and it was an old age full of shadows: the shadows of tragedies, of sorrows, and of great mistakes. Solomon was related to the darkest clouds in David’s life.

We know the story of David’s great sin with Bathsheba and her husband, Uriah. David, relaxing wrongly at the time when kings go out to battle, went up to the housetop (there are relaxations which are very dangerous!) and from the housetop he espied that beautiful woman, Bathsheba, and coveted her. His passions rose and he said: ‘I must have her.’ Passion is a very, very fertile thing in evil, and so he schemed to get her. You know the rest of the story – how he planned, plotted, to get her husband, Uriah, in the forefront of the battle, and then told the other fighters to retire and leave him alone to the enemy, which they did. Uriah was left and slain according to David’s precalculated plan, and they came back to David and told him: ‘It has succeeded. Uriah is dead.’ Then David sent to fetch Bathsheba, and he took her. The child born of that iniquitous union was smitten by God. He languished for days and then he died. Nathan, the prophet, went to David with a message from God and wrapped it up in a parable about something that happened in the city, and he painted it in such lurid pictures that David rose in anger, in wrath, and said: ‘The man who has done such a thing shall die.’ Nathan pointed at him and said: “Thou art the man!” Nathan brought home the accusation in a smashing, crushing blow, and then added: “Thou shalt not die.” We will see the point of that in a moment.

The depth and greatness of David’s sin is seen in those terrible confessions, heart-brokenness and sorrows. We have to look at the Psalms, for they are touched here and there with this. In Psalm 32: “I acknowledged my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the Lord.” Psalm 38 verse 18: “For I will declare mine iniquity; I will be sorry for my sin.” And then a whole Psalm – Psalm 51 – one of the most terrible bits of literature in existence. Look at the heading of this Psalm: “A Psalm of David, when Nathan the prophet came unto him after he had gone in to Bathsheba.” … “Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according to the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me. Against thee, thee only, have I sinned and done that which is evil in thy sight.” So the whole Psalm, which we will not read, but one more fragment: “Deliver me, O God, from bloodguiltiness.” Here we are; broken-hearted, penitent, standing at God’s tribunal, pleading for mercy, full of self-condemnation, a conscience stained with iniquity, and God’s face turned away, a desolation of heart. He cries: “Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation, have mercy upon me.”

David had sinned the sin which put him beyond the pale of the virtue of all the Levitical sacrifices. If you read the sacrifices and the conditions, you will find that they do not cover this sin, they have no provision for this. Even the cities of refuge which provided for the man-slayer would not take in David, because the man-slayer who found refuge there was the man who had caused someone to die inadvertently, without premeditation, by accident. So there was no provision for him, a man who had premeditated, planned, schemed, and brought about a death; the city of refuge had no place for him. No sacrifice is provided for him, therefore. In this Psalm 51, David says: “Sacrifice and offering and burnt offering thou desirest not” – ‘It is no good. I have not any.’ He was out of the pale of all their sacrifices and their virtue by premeditation. Oh, how far this man had gone! No wonder his conscience made him cry out like this! Uriah’s death – murder – lies at David’s door, and the little innocent babe’s death lies at his door. What are you going to do with a man like that? What are you going to do with a sin like that? It is outside the pale of all God’s Mosaic prescribing. What answer have we got to this? How can this man escape? How can glory be the end of that? There is only one answer, and there is an answer: Grace! Grace goes beyond all Old Testament limits.

David is the greatest Old Testament example of pardon through Grace. Remember that! That is why he is brought into view so much. That is the meaning of “the sure mercies of David”. Why of David? Unsearchable riches of His grace! The son gathers into himself all that meaning of Divine grace, what grace can do in relation to a situation like that. How glorious! Glory can follow grace. “The glory of HIS grace” is a phrase in Ephesians. My, how deep!

You ask: Can there be anything greater, a greater demonstration of grace than that toward David represented in a temporal way in Solomon? (Underline that word ‘temporal’.) Can there be anything greater than that? Is there greater grace than that represented by Solomon? Oh, yes: “A greater than Solomon is here!” As Son of Man, God’s Son came into the inky darkness and blackness of the sin of the whole race, not of one man. He bore the judgment of that sin upon the whole race and brought God’s infinite grace to the world – to the world!

Look again at that cross on Calvary’s hill! Take another look, and listen. Listen to that bitter, heartbroken cry: “Eli, Eli, lama sabach-thani?” … “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” The word embracing all time and eternity: “forsaken… forsaken”, David may have tasted something of that. Dear friends, when you look at that cross and hear that cry, you touch the deepest, deepest depth of human tragedy, that is, that the race, but for the grace of God, is God-forsaken eternally. If you have ever tasted a deep, deep sorrow within the compass of human capacity, you know that that hour of darkness is like an eternity. It is not momentary; it is like an eternity. It seems that an end of things for ever has been touched. In that moment when Jesus cried “forsaken, forsaken”, He touched the eternity of man’s destiny outside of God. That cry with that word “forsaken” is the measure of human depravity. We have yet to feel the tremendous impact of the Cross in this sense – that if Jesus had not gone there for us, we would be eternally forsaken of God. The face of God is turned away. The blackness and darkness of eternal doom rests upon the race – but for the Cross of Jesus Christ and what He has done there as forsaken.

Have you ever tasted the slightest drop of death? Oh, yes, it is possible, even in our Christian, spiritual life. I confess that there have been times when I wondered if the Lord had gone out of my universe, if He was really still alive and if He had not forgotten me. I cried: ‘Has the Lord forgotten to be gracious?’ It was as though the Lord had gone. I could not find Him. I would pray, but I could not touch Him. A little experience like that is not God forsaking us, thank God! It never is, for He said: “I will never forsake you”, but a little consciousness of the remoteness of the Lord from us is the worst experience of tragedy in our life. Oh, it is the most awful thing to have to go for a little while without the realization of the Lord, to be groping for the Lord and not finding Him, like Job, a righteous man: “I go on the right hand, he is not there; on the left, he is not there; I go forward, he is not there. Oh, that I knew where I might find him!” Have you had any experience at all like that? I do not want you to have it if you have not. Do not covet it. But some of you might just know a day, or a few days or more, of: ‘Oh, where is the Lord? Where is the Lord?’ It may be that the Lord lets us know something about that to bring us into that fellowship of His suffering and to make us understand how great a thing He has done for us, for He does not believe in theories and doctrines. The Lord is very practical. Experience is His school, and He will teach us in that heavy school of experience.

Yes, a greater than Solomon or David is here. He came, and He touched the deepest depth of human depravity which is found in that word “forsaken”. Anybody who does not believe in the depravity of human nature, and a total depravity, has not yet seen the Cross of the Lord Jesus, and seen us there, forsaken of God, on the one side. Yes, grace reaches the deepest point of human tragedy, and that is man’s forsakenness, but for Christ. Grace! What a word this is! If Solomon, in all his glory, was brought out of that terrible iniquity, judgment, outside of the pale of Levitical provision; if all his glory comes out of that, what can you say about it? What word is there to explain it? Only this one: Grace! We will go around that word for all time and all eternity.

Dr. J. H. Jowett, who was one of the greatest preachers of the last century, said this: “There is a word I have wrestled with so much. There is no word with which I have wrestled more than this one: Grace! It is like expressing a great American forest in a word. No phrase can express the meaning of grace. Grace is more than mercy, it is more than tender mercy, it is more than a multitude of tender mercies. Grace is more than love, it is more than innocent love. Grace is holy love, but it is holy love instantaneously going out in eager quest toward the unholy and the unlovely. It is the ministry of a great sacrifice, to redeem the unholy and unlovely into the beauty of God. The grace of God is holy love on the move to thee and to me and the like of me and thee. It is God’s unmerited, undeserved going out toward the children of man that He might bring them into the glory and brightness of His own likeness.” Well, that is an attempt to define this word.

Was not Paul right in speaking of the unsearchable riches of His grace? And Paul knew what he was talking about. There was a background to this man’s life. ‘I am not worthy,’ said he, ‘to be called an apostle. I persecuted the church.’ He was on his knees before the Lord, and the Lord was showing him His grace and His mercy. He said: ‘But, Lord, when Your servant Stephen was martyred, I was there, giving my consent. What ground have I for apostleship? What ground have I to be anything at all? My hands are stained with bloodguiltiness, all premeditated, designed and enacted with terrific force. How dare I look up into Thy face and be a disciple, a child of God, to say nothing about being an apostle!’ “But unto me, who am less than the least of all the saints, was this grace given to preach among the nations the unsearchable riches of Christ.”
If you cannot comprehend me, may the Lord register the impression upon us!

Prayer: How easily, with facile speech, we repeat: “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ!” Oh, Lord, challenge us with that word, lift us with that word, save us with that word. Can we dare to say, glorify us with that word? Oh, if all the words are forgotten, and our human efforts to convey it fail entirely, leave the impression! The grace of God is indeed the greatest thing in this universe for humans such as we are. We commit it to Thee; oh, give us to glory in Thy grace, for Thy Name’s sake. Amen.

Philip and the Ethiopian


And the angel of the Lord spake unto Philip, saying, Arise and go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza, which is desert— Act_8:26

God Removed Philip from the Middle of Evangelistic Success

Philip was in the full tides of work for Christ when the message came from God that he must leave it. He had been preaching in Sebaste, the old city of Samaria, and his preaching had been crowned with wonderful success when suddenly there came the angel of the Lord with this summons to get southward towards Gaza. It was a strange command, swiftly and well obeyed. There was nothing of the spirit of Jonah about Philip. Perhaps Philip remembered Jesus in the desert and thought he was going to meet his Master there. Then came the hour when the chariot rolled by. It was a very picturesque and lordly equipage. Its occupant was the chancellor of the Nubian exchequer, and he was reading aloud, as the Eastern custom is. A few broken syllables fell on Philip’s ear in the brief respite of the jolting and the jarring, and Philip (to whom the Old Testament was doubly precious now) recognized the priceless chapter of Isaiah. Did he remember the prophecy of the psalms, Ethiopia soon shall stretch out her hands to God” (Psa_68:31). Here was the stretched-out hand of Ethiopia, and God had so ordered it that it was not stretched in vain. Philip ran up to the side of the chariot— it was going very slowly on that rough desert road. He asked the courtier if he understood the chapter. The answer came, “How can I, without a guide?” And the passage closes with the preaching of a Savior, and with the conversion, baptism, and joy of this true seeker from afar for God.

From Crowds to an Individual: the Value of an Individual

Note then the value of a single soul. It must have seemed very strange and dark to Philip that he should be summoned from his Samaritan work. The tide was with him; enthusiasm was heightening vast crowds were moved by the preaching of Christ crucified. It would have been hard to leave all that through sickness; it was doubly hard to do it when well and strong. Could no one else be found for that desert work? Was it right to leave the thousands in Samaria for the single chariot of a southern courtier? I am sure that Philip had many a thought like that, for he was a man of like passions with ourselves. Then gradually it would grow very clear to him that a single soul must be very dear to God. He would remember how the shepherd had left the ninety and nine that the one sheep in the desert might be found. From that hour on to the day he died, Philip held fast in all his work for Christ to the infinite worth, in the eyes of Christ, of one. We must never forget that in a busy city. Where God is, we are not lost in any crowd. We are separately precious and separately sought. In the love of Jesus we all stand alone. One by one we are found and led and humbled till the day break and the shadows flee away.

Disappointed in Jerusalem, the Courtier Did Not Quit

Again observe that the earnest do not despair when disappointed. There is something very noble in this courtier. There is a touch of true greatness in the man. In a heathen court and with everything against him, his life had grown into a great cry for God. Somehow, he had got his hands on the Old Testament. Never a Jewish trader came to Meroe but the chancellor had earnest converse with him until at last nothing would ease his heart but the resolve to journey to Jerusalem. The Temple was there, and the priests and scribes were there—would he not learn all that he craved for there? And now he is returning homeward, a weary, baffled, disappointed man. He had craved for bread— they had given him a stone. He had cried, like Luther when he first saw Rome, “Hail, Holy City“; and the holy city had brought no solace to him. How many a man, in such a disappointment, would have cast his Scripture to the winds of heaven? But the eunuch was of another mould than that. His was too great a heart to nurse despair. He must still seek; he must still read; he must still study. He was deep in Isaiah on that desert road. And it was in that hour when his journey seemed so useless and his hope was quenched and his heart was sick and weary— it was then that he stepped into the light of Christ. We must remember there are disappointments in all seeking  There come times when we all seem baffled in our quest. We are tempted to ask,  What is the use of it? Is it worth while? Had we not better give in? We are often brought to the point of losing heart. In such moods recall the Ethiopian. He would still hold to it in spite of all failure. And on the day when everything seemed vain, the footsteps of the dawn were on the hills.

God Ordained What He Thought a Chance Meeting

Then lastly, God is behind many a chance meeting. I think that the driver of this Nubian chariot was not a little startled to see Philip; it was an unlikely place to light on any traveler. And when he got home to the stables of his master and told the story by the fire at night, all would agree that this accidental meeting had been one of the strange chances of the road. But we know that the meeting was not that. The hand of God had ordered and prepared it. It had been arranged for in the plans of heaven, though it seemed an accident to the dusky charioteer. We must believe that it is often so. Our friendships and comradeship’s do not begin haphazard. We seem to be thrown across each other’s path, but the hand of God has been ordering the way. Two people meet— we call the meeting chance. But life will be different evermore for both. It were well to strike out chance from our vocabulary, and in its place to put the will of God.

Welcome !


Welcome to The Fragrant Oil Manna blog.

This site is developed as a spiritual feed for those who are thirsty, needy and long for an understanding of the scriptures, their part in God’s plan of things and the Kingdom of God.

The Fragrant Oil Manna will focus on the following themes from the biblical standpoint:

  1. Counsel and Mentoring.
  2. The Upward Call – a spiritual meat for the body of Christ
  3. Health and Wealth
  4. Spiritual Growth
  5. Finances
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  7. Questions and Answer forum .

Your comments, feedback are all welcome as we all strive towards the perfecting of the saints.

God bless you

Rebecca

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