DISAPPOINTMENT……J.B. Stoney

Then all the elders of Israel gathered themselves together, and came to
Samuel unto Ramah, and said unto him, Behold, thou art old, and thy sons walk
not in thy ways; now make us a king to judge us like all the nations (1 Sam.
8:4,5).

This is a great trying moment for Samuel, but one of great
instruction for him, and for us through him. When the one who has known the
blessing of dependence on God has been drawn aside into thinking and acting for
himself, no greater mercy can be vouchsafed to him than that he should be
involved in such straits that nothing but the return to dependence on God can
afford any relief. There were two painful truths in the petition of the elders
which must have greatly tried Samuel.

  1. The failure of his policy through his own sons.
    This is the point where every man would feel most, and the better the man, the
    more would he feel it. It was clearly nature in Samuel to make his sons judges
    in the land when he was old. He had enjoyed for a long period of his life the
    fruits of his first great and deep exercises of dependence; but now, when he is
    old, he seems to lapse into worldly arrangements, in making his sons judges.
  2. The wilfulness and ungodliness of the nation in
    asking for a king.
     Poor Samuel! His family had disappointed him, and his
    nation had grievously requited all his labors and service.What a moment! What
    could the aged Samuel do?

We read, And Samuel prayed unto the Lord (8:6). The
perplexing strait has been used to restore his soul into the old and well-known
channel of dependence. Samuel illustrates to us how blessed dependence on God
is, and how great are the deliverances which flow from it. Samuel was the link
between the judges and the kingdom, or the type of the faithful in the interval
between the manifested failure of Israel, as a people governed by God, and the
setting up of the kingdom. He also connects us with the kingdom, and is himself
superseded by God’s anointed king, even David.

God answered him in a most gracious way. They have not
rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them
(8:7)
. Samuel is now educated in a very different line from that in which
his public history opened. Now an old man, and at the close of his life, and of
his testimony to the blessedness of dependence on God, he must endure with
patience, and cooperate, as long as he can. While this experiment is being
carried out, he must suppress all the sad and bitter feelings which might crowd
on his mind. He must wait on God, and wait for the end, until God brings it to
an end.

The people refused to obey the voice of Samuel and Samuel
receives further instruction.
 And the Lord said to Samuel, Hearken unto
their voice, and make them a king (8:22)
. Samuel, in obedience to the Lord,
submits to the trial of man’s king and owning him as acknowledged of God,
until the contrary was manifested. But, at the same time, Samuel observes two
lines of action.

  1. Faithfulness to the people, in warning them of their
    apostasy, and the retribution due to it.
     Ye shall cry out in that day
    because of your king which ye shall have chosen you; and the Lord will not hear
    you in that day (8:18)
    . Samuel fully and explicitly expounds to the people
    their apostasy and its consequences; but, at the same time, he equally commends
    himself to us by his ready help and forbearance with Saul, so long as it was
    possible. His sons a failure and reproach, the nation renouncing dependence on
    God, seeking a king who should supersede himself, and yet Samuel moves on
    through it all.
  2. Faithfulness to God, which led Him to disown the
    king the moment he relinquished the principles ordained of God.
     Samuel
    said unto Saul, I will not return with thee; for thou hast rejected the word of
    the Lord, and the Lord hath rejected thee from being king over Israel (15:26)
    . It
    is charity to bear with man as long as it is permitted by God’s Word; but
    charity must cease when any inroad is made on God’s commandment; every feeling
    for man must give way in order to vindicate the decrees of God. And the one who,
    like Samuel, has learned to walk in forbearance and charity towards a Saul,
    while at the same time protesting against the principle of independence, will at
    length be given an opportunity of exposing the assumption of the flesh.

Regarding knowing the will of God we read these quotes:

“It is then the will of God, and a precious will, that we should be able to discernGod’s will only according to our own spiritual state.  Our business is to keep
close to Him.  The wisdom of God conducts us into the way of God’s will.”J.N. Darby

“It would be not only ridiculous, but presumptuous for a believer to attemptto know the will of God about a specific matter in his or her own life when they
are  in a low state of spirituality which their own folly has precipitated.  His will for such is without question, to humble themselves, judge their willfulness andreturn to Him at once. (1 John 1:9).  I list …the order of greater significance tothe lesser [ways by which God communicates the knowledge of His will to us.].1. By His Eye (Psalm 32:8).  2. By His Word (Proverbs 2:6; 1 Peter 1:25).3.  By His communion with us through prayer. 4.  By His silence; 5.  By thebit and the bridle. (Psalm 32: 9).  ”  For this cause we also, since the day weheard of it, do not cease to pray for you, and desire that ye may be filled with theknowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding, that ye might walkworthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and
increasing in the knowledge of God.”  
(Colossians 1:9)  The Gleaner, the Willof God, Keith Sartorius

there is no set formula ….We would lose a great deal…simply because we sought
His will for its sake alone and not the One whose will it was.  To know or to attemptto know His will without a better knowledge of Himself…would be a slight to Him.”The Gleaner

Be assured that, if we are near enough to God, we shall not be at a loss to know His will.”  J. N. Darby“

What is the Church, and in what sense is it now in ruin?

or, the Church cannot be Reconstructed

Based on a reading with J N Derby, London September 1847

J N Darby (1800-82)

Many dear brethren have understandably been troubled at the expression “the ruin of the church”. They jealously hold that the church cannot fail, and in one sense this is correct.  However, we must distinguish between God’s purposes and the present situation where a man is placed in responsibility. As regards the purpose of God the church cannot be ruined, a testimony for God on earth it is in ruin.

We may ask, ‘Is there a church now on earth or not?’

Well, we may say ‘Is there an army or not?’ Suppose an army is not destroyed but scattered to the four winds, there is still an army, but also there is not an army: it has lost its corporate character.

We might think that we cannot do anything about the ruin: we should just ignore it, satisfied that we are saved by grace.  We are content to live in the ruin.  That demonstrates a lack of faith in God’s promises.  I should feel it to be a very sad effect if the expression “ruin of the church” were to dishearten a soul about the operation of the Spirit in bringing blessing to the church.

God’s purpose is unfailing, so the Church cannot fail as it exists in God’s purpose.  It follows that there are the resources in God to meet the circumstances of every Christian.  Knowing this we can look beyond our failure and the simple application of faith to the working of God’s power and blessing to glorify Christ.  Having the Spirit of Christ I cannot rest in the thought that a Christian is secure in Christ, with a present relationship with Him: I must and endeavour to instruct and exhort him and lead him on.

Thankfully, the Lord is awakening in the souls of many saints everywhere the question – “What is the church of God, and what is its relationship with Christ?”  At the same time they are being awakened as to the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Satan opposes this using past testimony to hinder the present.  We get tired; our minds get distracted but the Lord always has the upper hand.

There are many saints, sound in the faith, who are not prepared to accept what the church of God is as set forth in the word of God. If it is meant that all the saints ever saved will in the end be in company in glory, in redemption and life through Him, and they call that the Assembly of God, I have no objection. The second Adam will have all around Him in glory, as the first Adam had all around him in sin.  In our place we have both privileges and responsibilities.  The Church of the living God is brought into the testimony by the Spirit of God and has a special relationship to God.

The church of the living God is the body of saints formed on earth in unity with Christ in heaven as the Head, by the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven to form them into unity with Christ at the right hand of God.  Some say that this includes all saints since Adam. But the Lord said to Peter, ‘On this rock I will build my church’ (Matt 16:18). If there is to be a testimony the church must be visible, so now it is formed of those who are alive at the present time.

We read in Ephesians that God has set Christ above all principality and power in the heavenly places, consequent on his death and humiliation. The church is in association with him in heaven.  Christ is the righteous One in glory. God has set up a people in union with Christ as their head by the power of the Holy Spirit, formed of Jew and Gentile.  We now have to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

When I look at the Church in glory, I look at it as a body securely and infallibly perfect in God.  When man fails, God brings in an alternative. Adam failed; God brought in Christ. Israel failed; God brought in the assembly.  The Jewish priesthood failed and we see the same thing in the public church. But God fulfils his thoughts in a kingly priesthood.  In the Church I see the bride of Christ engaging an affectionate relationship.

So what do we mean by the ruin of the church?  Who will shew me the manifestation of the unity of the body of Christ? I cannot find it; but I can find saints that will be saved, manifest tokens of His faithfulness, ‘For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst’ (Matt 18:20) – what blessing!  Israel failed before and after the captivity. Nevertheless, His attitude towards His people never changed.  He said, ‘Fear ye not’ (Isa 44:8).

Now bringing it down to our day we find divisions and disagreements among Christians. Does this mean that Christ loves the church less, or is less powerful?  That sorrows us, but we are not to be discouraged.  A truly humble man is not discouraged because he knows his nothingness.

Some years after my conversion I looked around to find where the church was, but I could not find it. I could find plenty of saints better than myself, but not the church set up with power on the earth.  Then I say the church as thus set up is ruined: I could not find a better word for it. The church was founded on the earth in the spirit of the new covenant, and if it fails, there is no judgment as there was with Israel as a nation. No judgment has been executed on the Church of God: we must not confound ruin with cutting off.

Obedience is the only thing in which a Christian should be rigid, it would keep us from latitudinarianism; and there should be nearness to Christ which would keep us from sectarianism.  Sectarianism is getting an interest in a little circle round ourselves

At home and abroad I find this question, What is the church of God? One says, The church is visible. What is its testimony?  Is it to Christ its heavenly Head, separate from sinners?  Another says, It is invisible. It is only invisible because in sin. The false church is visible; the true one invisible.

When in the early 1800s, a few exercised Christians separated from mainline churches, they did not take any official standing.”   Blessing followed and numbers increased. Then trouble came in, and so that their little group became their circle, not the church of the living God. People say, we have been too narrow, we must mix up a little. I cannot be that. ‘If I build again the things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor’ (Gal 2:18). I desire the Church’s entire separation to Christ to whom she belongs – espoused as a chaste virgin. My feet in the narrow way – my heart as large as Christ’s.

The Church of God is responsible in walk and affection towards God, the conscience acknowledging the ruin. ‘I remember thee, the love of thine espousals’ (Jer 2:2).  Note that this is not love for Israel but the love of the state of the people. We have one sole object before our souls, Christ’s coming. If I have the spirit of the bride I shall desire the Bridegroom.  ‘The Spirit and the bride say, Come’ (Rev 22:17).

The question arises as to how much one should  labour and pray for the restoration of the public church.  Ministry is not reconstruction.  I should feel disappointment at the thought of reconstruction: if I have the Spirit of Christ I should be sensible of the loss of suitability in the bride to Him, and wish to become fitted for Him.  The bride is looking for the Bridegroom and will seek to be purified for Him through “the washing of water by the word” (Eph 5:26), as she ought to ne.  We are for Him alone.

Reconstruction is not the object of pursuit. E man might have a desire to be in God’s service.  Howeever, if he has not entirely God’s object, he will succeed, but it will be something else, like the real thing, but quite another thingPaul had to admit that he did not succeed when he said, ‘All seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ’s’ (Phil 2:21).  When a man has God’s object, and is thoroughly working for God, he must be a man of sorrows. Paul never got the faith of his fellow labourers nor the church up to his own.

Now I must guard against any thought that I undervalue order. Subjection to the Spirit of God is shown in subjection to what the Spirit of God gives.  I am not pursuing that as an object; I am looking for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Still, I do not doubt but that all my service to the saints down here will come in as ministry.

A Story of Eternal Perspective

BY AGGIE HURST  FEBRUARY 18, 1986

Aggie HurstBack in 1921, a missionary couple named David and Svea Flood went with their two-year-old son from Sweden to the heart of Africa—to what was then called the Belgian Congo. They met up with another young Scandinavian couple, the Ericksons, and the four of them sought God for direction. In those days of much tenderness and devotion and sacrifice, they felt led of the Lord to go out from the main mission station and take the gospel to a remote area.

This was a huge step of faith. At the village of N’dolera they were rebuffed by the chief, who would not let them enter his town for fear of alienating the local gods. The two couples opted to go half a mile up the slope and build their own mud huts.

They prayed for a spiritual breakthrough, but there was none. The only contact with the villagers was a young boy, who was allowed to sell them chickens and eggs twice a week. Svea Flood—a tiny woman of only four feet, eight inches tall—decided that if this was the only African she could talk to, she would try to lead the boy to Jesus. And in fact, she succeeded.

But there were no other encouragements. Meanwhile, malaria continued to strike one member of the little band after another. In time the Ericksons decided they had had enough suffering and left to return to the central mission station. David and Svea Flood remained near N’dolera to go on alone.

Then, of all things, Svea found herself pregnant in the middle of the primitive wilderness. When the time came for her to give birth, the village chief softened enough to allow a midwife to help her. A little girl was born, whom they named Aina.

The delivery, however, was exhausting, and Svea Flood was already weak from bouts of malaria. The birth process was a heavy blow to her stamina. She lasted only another seventeen days.

Inside David Flood, something snapped in that moment. He dug a crude grave, buried his twenty-seven-year-old wife, and then took his children back down the mountain to the mission station. Giving his newborn daughter to the Ericksons, he snarled, “I’m going back to Sweden. I’ve lost my wife, and I obviously can’t take care of this baby. God has ruined my life.” With that, he headed for the port, rejecting not only his calling, but God himself.

Within eight months both the Ericksons were stricken with a mysterious malady and died within days of each other. The baby was then turned over to some American missionaries, who adjusted her Swedish name to “Aggie” and eventually brought her back to the United States at age three.

This family loved the little girl and was afraid that if they tried to return to Africa, some legal obstacle might separate her from them. So they decided to stay in their home country and switch from missionary work to pastoral ministry. And that is how Aggie grew up in South Dakota. As a young woman, she attended North Central Bible college in Minneapolis. There she met and married a young man named Dewey Hurst.

Years passed. The Hursts enjoyed a fruitful ministry. Aggie gave birth first to a daughter, then a son. In time her husband became president of a Christian college in the Seattle area, and Aggie was intrigued to find so much Scandinavian heritage there.

One day a Swedish religious magazine appeared in her mailbox. She had no idea who had sent it, and of course she couldn’t read the words. But as she turned the pages, all of a sudden a photo stopped her cold. There in a primitive setting was a grave with a white cross-and on the cross were the words SVEA FLOOD.

Aggie jumped in her car and went straight to a college faculty member who, she knew, could translate the article. “What does this say?” she demanded.

The instructor summarized the story: It was about missionaries who had come to N’dolera long ago…the birth of a white baby…the death of the young mother…the one little African boy who had been led to Christ…and how, after the whites had all left, the boy had grown up and finally persuaded the chief to let him build a school in the village. The article said that gradually he won all his students to Christ…the children led their parents to Christ…even the chief had become a Christian. Today there were six hundred Christian believers in that one village…

All because of the sacrifice of David and Svea Flood.

For the Hursts’ twenty-fifth wedding anniversary, the college presented them with the gift of a vacation to Sweden. There Aggie sought to find her real father. An old man now, David Flood had remarried, fathered four more children, and generally dissipated his life with alcohol. He had recently suffered a stroke. Still bitter, he had one rule in his family: “Never mention the name of God-because God took everything from me.”

After an emotional reunion with her half brothers and half sister, Aggie brought up the subject of seeing her father. The others hesitated. “You can talk to him,” they replied, “even though he’s very ill now. But you need to know that whenever he hears the name of God, he flies into a rage.”

Aggie was not to be deterred. She walked into the squalid apartment, with liquor bottles everywhere, and approached the seventy-three-year-old man lying in a rumpled bed.

“Papa?” she said tentatively.

He turned and began to cry. “Aina,” he said, “I never meant to give you away.”

“It’s all right Papa,” she replied, taking him gently in her arms. “God took care of me.”

The man instantly stiffened. The tears stopped.

“God forgot all of us. Our lives have been like this because of Him.” He turned his face back to the wall.

Aggie stroked his face and then continued, undaunted.

“Papa, I’ve got a little story to tell you, and it’s a true one. You didn’t go to Africa in vain. Mama didn’t die in vain. The little boy you won to the Lord grew up to win that whole village to Jesus Christ. The one seed you planted just kept growing and growing. Today there are six hundred African people serving the Lord because you were faithful to the call of God in your life…

“Papa, Jesus loves you. He has never hated you.”

The old man turned back to look into his daughter’s eyes. His body relaxed. He began to talk. And by the end of the afternoon, he had come back to the God he had resented for so many decades.

Over the next few days, father and daughter enjoyed warm moments together. Aggie and her husband soon had to return to America—and within a few weeks, David Flood had gone into eternity.

A few years later, the Hursts were attending a high-level evangelism conference in London, England, where a report was given from the nation of Zaire (the former Belgian Congo). The superintendent of the national church, representing some 110,000 baptized believers, spoke eloquently of the gospel’s spread in his nation. Aggie could not help going to ask him afterward if he had ever heard of David and Svea Flood.

“Yes, madam,” the man replied in French, his words then being translated into English. “It was Svea Flood who led me to Jesus Christ. I was the boy who brought food to your parents before you were born. In fact, to this day your mother’s grave and her memory are honored by all of us.”

He embraced her in a long, sobbing hug. Then he continued, “You must come to Africa to see, because your mother is the most famous person in our history.”

In time that is exactly what Aggie Hurst and her husband did. They were welcomed by cheering throngs of villagers. She even met the man who had been hired by her father many years before to carry her back down the mountain in a hammock-cradle.

The most dramatic moment, of course, was when the pastor escorted Aggie to see her mother’s white cross for herself. She knelt in the soil to pray and give thanks. Later that day, in the church, the pastor read from John 12:24: “I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.” He then followed with Psalm 126:5: “Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy.”

(An excerpt from Aggie Hurst, Aggie: The Inspiring Story of A Girl Without A Country [Springfield, MO: Gospel Publishing House, 1986].)

JB Stoney – We all, Looking on the Glory of the Lord

I consider that the most wonderful verse in Scripture.  “But we all, looking on the glory of the Lord, with unveiled face, are transformed according to the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Lord the Spirit.”  People ask for guidance for one thing or another.  I say, if they would spend ten minutes in the Lord’s presence beholding His glory, they would be so outside themselves that they would be transformed; they would get His mind.  Of course His mind would be according to the Scripture; but it is not by reading Scripture, but by being in His presence that you get it.

(J B Stoney, NS vol. 6 p373)

Golden Nugget Number 366

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

GOD THINKS OF US……John Nelson Darby

John Nelson Darby (1800-1882)

What a comfort it is to know that God thinks of us, and arranges all for us, though we fail to think of Him! There is not a day, not a moment, but God is thinking of us, and He is above all the plotting of Satan. He will take care of His people. Do they want food? He sends them manna. Guidance? There is the pillar going before them. Do they come to the Jordan? There is the ark there. Have they enemies in the land? There is Joshua to overcome for them. He deals with them in the way of discipline when they need it, as He did with Jacob. He humbled him, but gave him the blessing in the end. What a thought this ought to give us of the love of God, when we thus see His activity in goodness to us all the way through! What comfort to know He is for us, out of the spring and principle of His own love.

(J N Darby, Collected Writings vol.27, p.29)

He is our peace……lkp

“He is our peace…”. Hebrews 12:25-28. Especially: “that those things  which cannot be shaken may remain.”  He remains..His promises remain. We may lose everything dear..but never lose Him.  Thus, we have everything  when we have Him.  I remember an experience Isabel Kuhn had in China. Her only child, a daughter, was going away across China to start school. The school was run by wonderful missionaries so she would be in good hands but it was a sore trial for Isobel to let her go.  The Lord taught her surrender…she gave a picture of our open palms with our dearest treasure  held there.  She learned that fingers clenched tight around the treasures meant a painful trial for those fingers to release..one by one.  Rather should we always keep that open palm.  He teaches us this lesson in one way or another…death of loved one, a prodigal child, etc.  But we make that turn toward Him..we never lose Him.  Years ago most of a group of friends we enjoyed fellowship with moved away.  I wrote an older believer about this loss…he wrote back saying God is a jealous God..He wants fellowship with each of His children.  Through the years many more things were shaken in my life..but He remains.  He is our life..our peace.

In Christ I find my Life, my Strength, and my Object…… J.N. Darby

There are three things the law could not do.  It could not give life, and, even supposing we got life, it does not give strength; and, another thing of deepest moment for our souls, it does not give us an object.  But in Christ I find my life, my strength, and my object.  “They that are after the Spirit, do mind the things of the Spirit”; they have the true object.  I get in Christ an object that is sufficient to delight God Himself.