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.

“BROKEN VESSELS FOR CHRIST……Harry A. Ironside

Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. For we which live are alway delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh. (2 Corinthians 4:10,11)

This fourth chapter of 2 Corinthians is the apostle Paul’s statement of power for ministry. He  shows us in these stirring verses that God is not looking for brilliant men, is not depending upon eloquent men, is not shut up to the use of talented men in sending His Gospel out in the world.

God is looking for broken men, for men who have judged themselves in the light of the Cross of Christ. When He wants anything done, He takes up men who have come to an end of  themselves, and whose trust and confidence is not in themselves but in God.

There were those who were calling in to question the apostleship of Paul himself, for he did not  seem to them to be what an apostle, according to their estimation of the office, ought to be. There was not the pomp nor the dignity they would expect; he did not come to them with great swelling words, there was no making anything of what he was after the flesh, no drawing attention to his natural ability or education; and in this the method of the apostle Paul was in very vivid contrast to the method pursued by many today who pose as servants of our Lord Jesus Christ. This man went through the world a broken man, a lowly man, a man seeking only the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ and the blessing of souls, a man who might have occupied a very high place among the great and distinguished of earth. But he was a man who for Jesus’ sake had turned his back upon all that and could say:

God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world. (Galatians 6:14)

That Cross spoke of the deepest shame and ignominy, and Paul gloried in it because through the work that took place upon it, his soul had been saved, and he had learned that the preaching of the Cross, while it is “to them that perish foolishness,” is “unto us which are saved . . . the power of God” (1 Corinthians 1:18). And so he went forth, content to be broken in order that the light of the grace of God might shine out. You will notice in verse 6 that

. . . God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. (2 Corinthians 4:6,7)

It is easy to see what he has in mind. He is thinking  undoubtedly of that very striking incident of which we read in Judges, when Gideon and his three hundred men took their lives in their hands, were delivered unto death, as it were, and  went forth against the vast armies of the Midianites. Surely, no other army was accoutered [equipped] as this one. They carried in one hand a trumpet and in the other a pitcher, and in this pitcher was a lamp. The light of the lamp was not seen though it was already lit. It was not seen as long as it was in the earthen jar. They surrounded the army of the Midianites in the middle of the night, and suddenly at the command of their leader, the jars were crashed to earth, and the light shone out, and the Midianites sprang up startled. They heard the crash and saw the light, and thought they were surrounded by a tremendous army, and they turned their swords upon one another. It was God through Gideon that led the army to victory. A broken pitcher in order that light might shine out! The apostle says, as it were, “That is it! If you want to be a light for God in a world like this, be content to be broken, to have your hopes, your ambitions, all dashed to pieces, and then God can take you up and use you in order to carry the light of Christ to darkened hearts.”

How are we broken? By affliction, by trouble, by the discipline of the Lord, sometimes by sickness, by pain, and anguish. All these are the divine methods for breaking God’s pitchers in order that the light may shine out to His praise and glory. Men may misjudge us, misrepresent us, persecute us bitterly; we may not have enough food to eat or water to drink; we may be cast down; we may suffer all kinds of sorrows; but it is all right if it breaks us in order that God may be able the better to use us. And so he says, “We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed” (2 Corinthians 4:8,9); for in all these experiences, we are simply “bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus may be made manifest in our body.” He “came from Godhead’s fullest glory down to Calvary’s depth of woe.”

We sometimes sing a little hymn that always stirs the heart. I remember hearing Dr. Torrey say  he believed of all the hymns that were used in his meetings around the world, it was the one that seemed to be most blessed of God to the people. It is:

I surrender all,
I surrender all,
All to Thee, my blessed Savior,
I surrender all.

But that hymn never had the appeal it ought to have for my own heart until one day I found myself changing that chorus. I was thinking of Him who though He was

. . . in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. (Philippians 2:6-8)

He surrendered all,
He surrendered all,
All for me, my blessed Savior,
He surrendered all.

And then my heart said, “O Lord, it will be easy to sing it the other way now, for what have I to give up, to surrender, in comparison with what Thou didst give up in order to redeem my guilty soul from going down to the pit?” It is as you and I realize from day to day what it all meant to Him that we can bear about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus. Dying day by day to our own hopes and ambitions, dying to the good opinion of people, dying to human praise and adulation, to everything that the natural heart grasps, dying in the death of Jesus to it all,  because He died for us in order that “the life of Jesus may be made manifest in our body.”

You will notice that in 2 Corinthians 4, verses 10 and 11 are very much alike, and yet the great difference is this: verse 10 suggests something that we do deliberately, consciously, whereas verse 11 is something that God does for us. What is it we are called upon to do? “Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus”—reminding ourselves every day that Jesus died for us, “bearing about in the body” and because He died for us, we are gladly to put ourselves in the place of death for Him.

Looking back to the Cross, the apostle Paul could say:

I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)

But this has to be put into practice daily by putting my tastes and ambitions in the place of death. That is my part. But here is God’s part:

We which live are always delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh. (2 Corinthians 4:11)

You tell God that you are willing to take the place of death with Christ, and He will see that it is made good; you tell God you are going to trust Him, and He will test your faith and show you what it means to trust Him; you tell Him that you are ready to surrender everything to Him, and He will put you in the place where you will begin to find out what full surrender really means. I do not know of anything that it seems should have such an appeal to the Christian heart along this line as the frequent remembrance of our Lord Jesus Christ in His death, and I think it is because He realized it is so easy for us to forget that He said to His disciples when He gave them this memorial feast,

This do in remembrance of me. (Luke 22:19)

And the Holy Spirit said:

As  often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till He come. (1 Corinthians 11:26)

Every time we are called upon thus to remember the Lord, it is a new challenge to ask  ourselves, “Am I simply remembering Him in a cold, formal, intellectual way because it is customary, or am I truly in my heart remembering the One who went down beneath the dark waters of death for me, and am I truly ready now to always bear about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus?”

What a poor thing it is to come together in assemblies to participate in the communion of the Lord’s Supper and then go out from the building and forget what it all really means, forget that our Savior died, that we are linked up with the One who died, and that He has left us an example that we should follow His steps—that is, we should always bear about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus. This seems to me to be linked very intimately with several Old Testament references to which our attention is drawn in Hebrews 11. We read:

By faith Joseph, when he died, made mention of the departing of the children of Israel; and gave commandment concerning his bones. (Hebrews 11:22)

Did you ever stop and ask why the Holy Spirit selected that particular incident to dwell upon? He has instanced something that you and I would probably have passed over altogether. What did Joseph do? “Gave commandment concerning his bones.” In Genesis 50:25, we read where Joseph, talking to the children of Israel, says:

God will surely visit you, and ye shall carry up my bones from hence. So Joseph died, being an hundred and ten years old: and they embalmed him, and he was put in a coffin in Egypt.

That is the close of Genesis. What an odd way to close the book! But God wants us to think about the bones of Joseph. They are there in a coffin in Egypt, but they are to be carried to Canaan.

In Exodus 13, we find that the children of Israel who have been sheltered by the blood of the Passover lamb are starting out for Canaan, and we read:

Moses took the bones of Joseph with him: for he had straitly sworn the children of Israel, saying, God will surely visit you; and ye shall carry up my bones away hence with you. (Exodus 13:19)

Who was Joseph? He was the savior of Israel. If it had not been for him, they had all been destroyed in the famine, but he was their savior, and now he says, “When you leave Egypt to go to Canaan, you carry my bones with you.” When they left, they were very careful to do as they were told, and all the way across the sands of the desert wherever that great caravan went, they were always bearing about in the body the dying of Joseph.

I think I see that great procession winding its way up over the hills; and the Amalekites and the Midianites looking at them in wonder say, “What is that strange dark casket?”

Presently, they call an Israelite and ask him, and he says, “We were once in greatest distress; if God had not had mercy upon us we would have been left to die, but He raised up a savior for us, one of our own people; his name was Joseph and he delivered us; Joseph saved us. But our savior died, and we are marching on to the land that our God has given us, and until we get there, we carry with us the memorial of death, the bones of Joseph. We can never forget him; he died, but we have the memorials still.” And by-and-by when they reached the land, when they arrived at the place that God Himself had selected for them, we are told that after everything else was properly attended to,

The bones of Joseph, which the children of Israel brought out of Egypt, buried they in Shechem, in a parcel of ground which Jacob bought of the sons of Hamor, the father of Shechem for an hundred pieces of silver: and it became the inheritance of the children of Joseph. (Joshua 24:32)

There was no need to carry the bones of Joseph through the wilderness any more, for they were at home now. And, beloved, you and I are passing on through the wilderness of this world, we will soon be at Home, but until we reach there, we are called upon to bear about in the body the dying of Jesus, and as we remember Him in the breaking of bread and the drinking of the cup, we should challenge our own hearts: Are we simply looking objectively toward that Cross and saying, “There our Savior died,” or are we seeking day by day to practically make it manifest that His death means more to us than all that this world glories in?


PEACE BY JESUS CHRIST……H.A. Ironside

“That in me ye might have peace” (John 16:33).
HOW long it takes many of us to learn that peace is found in Christ
alone. We seek for it everywhere else, but seek in vain, until at last,
disappointed, disheartened and distressed in soul, we come to the Lord
Jesus, and lo, at His feet our quest is ended!
Peace Better Than Happiness
Peace is far better than happiness. Happiness is primarily that which
comes from a good “hap.” “Hap” is an old English word for chance.
Tennyson wrote of one “who grasps the skirts of happy chance.” This
expresses it exactly. If the “haps” are good, the worldling is happy; if
evil “haps” befall him, he is unhappy. But peace is something deeper.
It is the opposite of struggling, of warfare and of soul unrest. It is
freedom from strife, or from mental agitation. It is spiritual content
such as the Lord promised to the heavy laden, when He said: “Come
unto me and I will give you rest.”
“O God,” said Augustine, “Thou hast made us for Thyself, and our
souls will never be at rest until they rest in Thee.” And yet most of us
spend years in restless seeking before we learn this lesson.
No Peace to the Wicked
This message is twice repeated in the book of Isaiah; “There is no
peace, saith the Lord, unto the wicked.” In chapters forty to forty-eight
of this marvelous book, we have Jehovah’s controversy with idolatry.
His people had sought in vain for peace, because they turned from
Him, the true and living God, unto the senseless works of their own
hands. Jehovah, the covenant-keeping God, stands in contrast to all the
idols of the heathen. Therefore at the end of the forty-eighth chapter,
there is this plain statement: “There is no peace, saith the Lord, unto
the wicked.” Then in chapters forty-nine to fifty-seven we have the
great Messianic section of Isaiah, and we see the true Servant of
Jehovah, the anointed Saviour, coming in lowly grace to His own, to
open prison doors, to unstop deaf ears, to impart strength to feeble
knees, and to give new life to those who are dead in trespasses and
sins. But, also, we see Him spurned and rejected by those whom He
loved so dearly, and in chapter fifty-seven, we hear the grave
pronouncement: “There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked.”
How solemn all this is! No peace for the man who puts aught else in
place of the Lord Jehovah in his heart and life! No peace for the selfwilled rejecter of God’s blessed Son! In the New Testament, where we
have the entire world brought in guilty before God, the solemn
declaration concerning all who turn away from the Word of the Lord is
this: “The way of peace have they not known.”
A False Peace
There is also a false peace by which many are deceived. They mistake
their ease of mind for peace of heart. Deluded by a false peace, and
daubing their consciences with the untempered mortar of their own
vain imaginings, they cry: “Peace, peace, when there is no peace.”
These are they who drift down the river of time, unaware of the awful
precipice over which it will sweep them at last into the great sea of
eternity, where they will be forever without peace and without hope.
Of all such it is written: “When they shall say, Peace and safety; then
sudden destruction cometh upon them…and they shall not escape” (I
Thessalonians 5:3).
If you try to awaken such from their deadly sleep and their false
security, they are likely to turn on you with indignation. They do not
want to be disturbed. Like the slothful man in the book of Proverbs,
they cry: “Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the
hands to sleep.” Alas, alas! If not awakened soon they will find out too
late the folly of their assumed self-confidence.
One day, when walking along Broadway in Oakland, California, I saw
ahead of me a man whom I knew was blind, making his way through
the crowds with remarkable dexterity. He did not even have a stick, or
a dog, to guide him. He had been over the same route so often that he
felt sure he needed no help. Suddenly, I saw a cellarway opened just in
front of him. In another moment he would have stepped down into the
yawning mouth of a store basement. I sprang forward, caught him by
the shoulder, and told him of his danger. Do you think he was angry
with me for disturbing his false peace? Not at all! He thanked me
profusely. But how different it often is with the unsaved man and
woman. They go on heedless of their danger, and often resent the
warnings of God’s servants, until the Spirit of God awakens them to a
realization of their true condition, and leads them to accept peace
through the Lord Jesus Christ.
Two Aspects of Peace
In the fourteenth chapter of John, we learn that our blessed Lord,
before He left this earth, said to His disciples: “Peace I leave with you,
my peace I give unto you.” Here we have two very distinct aspects of
peace. One is that which He left as a settled thing when He went to the
Father’s right hand, and is the result of His sacrificial work upon the
cross, while the other is that which He imparts from day to day to
those believers who live in fellowship with Him.
Sometimes people use expressions that will not always bear the test of
Scripture. Let me give an instance of this: A number of years ago an
earnest young Christian and I went to a mission in San Francisco. At
the close of the meeting, a kind, motherly woman came to me, and
asked: “Are you a Christian, sir?”
I replied immediately, “Yes, I am.”
“Thank God,” she said, and then turning to my friend, she asked: “And
have you made your peace with God, sir?”
Rather to my astonishment, he answered, “No, madam, I have not.”
I knew he was a Christian, and I wondered at his replying in that way.
She said to him rather severely, “Well, if you don’t make your peace
with God, you will be lost forever.”
With a bright, happy smile on his face, he replied, “Madam, I can
never make my peace with God, and I never expect to try; but I am
thankful that the Lord Jesus Christ has settled that for me, and through
what He did for me I shall be in heaven for all eternity.” He then put
the question to her, “Have you never read that remarkable passage:
‘Having made peace through the blood of his cross’?”
As he went on to explain it to her, the truth gripped my own soul. I
saw then, and have realized it ever since, that sinners are saved
through the “peace” which He made at the cross. And so we read in
Romans 5:1, “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with
God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” This peace is not of our making,
and is not of our keeping either. We enjoy the peace He made as we
accept by faith the testimony of His Word.
His Peace is Given
But we also read, “My peace I give unto you.” What does the Lord
Jesus mean by this? It is another aspect of peace altogether. It is that
quiet rest of soul which was ever His in the midst of the most trying
circumstances. He shares His peace with us. It is of this we read in
Philippians 4:6, 7: “Be careful for nothing [or, In nothing be anxious,
R. V.]; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving
let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God,
which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds
through Christ Jesus.” “The peace of God,” you see, is very different
from “peace with God.” The latter has to do with the sin question, the
former with the trials of the way. It is the believer’s privilege to bring
everything that troubles and distresses his soul to God in prayer; to lay
down every burden at the feet of the blessed Lord, and to exchange
them all for this wonderful “peace” which is the portion of all who live
in communion with Him.
“Oh, the peace my Saviour gives,
Peace I never knew before;
And the way has brighter grown,
Since I learned to trust Him more.”

PEACE AND JOY: John 16:33

“These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace.  In the world ye shall have tribulation [trouble]: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” 

John 16:33

J. Vernon McGee on this verse:
“the child of God can have peace in this life.  And that peace is only found in Christ.
The child of God can find peace in no other place.  You are not going to find peace today
even in Christian service, in a church,  you are not going to find peace in teaching a Sunday
school class or being active.  You are not going to find peace except in the person of
Jesus Christ.  That is so important for the child of God to see in this day.  This world
is the place of trouble.  “but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”
Learn to identify ourselves with Him;  come into close fellowship with Him.
Then you and I will begin to experience the peace of God in our hearts and we also

begin the experience of good cheer and that means there will be joy in our lives.  Peace & joy.”