“As we apprehend God’s grace, we have ever lower thoughts of self and higher thoughts of Christ. The work of repentance is deepened daily in the believer’s heart.”
“”If ye, then, be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above,
where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.” (Col.3:1)
THE BOOK OF JOB gives us the saga of a saint in patriarchal days the
account of his trials through which he was to learn the common lesson
according to the common calling that we are a dead and risen people.
Although Job came before Abraham, he did not come before this lesson,
for it had been taught from the beginning; Adam and Abel, and the line
of Seth through Enoch and Noah, had already learned it. And Job, after
them, is set down to the same lesson, only engraved in deeper and darker
The Book of Job exhibits a soul set to learn through trials and sorrows
the common lesson, the power of our calling; that our hopes are neither
in this world nor from the flesh, but in living position with the Lord Jesus
Christ—beyond all that is here.
The events themselves are deeply touching, but they are all ordinary,
or such as are “common to man.” Thieves carry off his oxen and
asses. Lightening destroys his flocks. A high wind blows down his
house and kills his children. And, at last, a sore disease breaks out on
his body from head to foot.
Each of these might have happened to his ungodly neighbor as well
as to him. In the mere matter of these afflictions, there was nothing
that distinguished him as a child of God. They were not the sufferings
of a martyr. but still they were all under the exactest inspection and
measured control of his heavenly Father, all in the way of appointment
and of discipline flowing from heavenly interests and divine relationships.
Resurrection has from the beginning been an article of the faith of God’s
people; and being such, it was also the lesson they had to learn and to
experience–the principle of their life out of death. The Genesis fathers
had learnt the lesson, Moses learnt it, David was in the power of it,
the whole nation of Israel were taught it, again and again.
The Lord Jesus, “the Author and Finisher of our faith,” in His day, realised
this lesson to all perfection. And each of His growing ones is set down
to it every day, that we may “know Him, and the power of his resurrection,
and the fellowship of his sufferings being made conformable unto his
death.” (Phil. 3:10)
The leading purpose of the Book of Job sets forth a child of resurrection,
in early patriarchal days, learning the lesson of resurrection–life out of death.
His confession tells us that the resurrection was understood by him as a
doctrine, while the whole account tells us that he had still to know the
reality of it in his life. It was an article of his faith, but not yet the principle
of his life.
And a sore trial it was to him, hard indeed to learn and digest. He did not like
(and which of us does?) to take the sentence of death into himself, that he
might not trust in himself, nor in his circumstances in life, nor his condition
by nature—but in God who raises the dead. “I shall die in my nest” (Job 29:18)
was his thought and hope. But he was to see his nest rifled of all with which
nature had filled it, and with which circumstances had adorned it.
This honored and cherished saint had to learn the power of the calling of
all the elect, practically and personally–the life of faith, or the lesson of
resurrection. And it may be a consolation for those of us who know our-
selves to be little among them, to read in the records which we have
of them that all have not been equally apt and bright scholars in that
school; and that all, in different measures, have failed in it as well as
made progress in it.
How unworthily of it, for instance, did Abraham behave; how little like a
dead and risen man, a man of faith, when he denied his wife to the
Egyptian. Yet how beautifully did he carry himself, as such, when he
surrendered the choice of the land to his younger kinsman, Lot.
We are encouraged and consoled to know that our present lesson, as
those who have died and whose life is hid with Christ in God, has been
the lesson of the elect from the beginning–that on many a bright and
hallowed occasion they matriculated in that lesson to the glory of their Lord;
that at times they found it hard, and at times failed in it. This tale of the
soul is well known to us. Only we, living in New Testament truth, are
learning the same lesson in the still ampler page and after the clearer
method in which it is now taught us in our death and resurrection with
the Lord Jesus Christ.
There is some difference (and distance) between a righteous and devoted
believer. The measure of devotedness may be said to be according
to the energy one is exercising as being dead and risen with Lord Jesus.
At the beginning of his history, Job was a righteous man. He was well
spoken of again and again, in the very face of his accuser. But he was
not yet a devoted man. Accepted he was as a sinner who knew his
living and triumphant Redeemer; godly and upright beyond his fellows,
but as to the life that wrought in his soul, he was not a dead and risen
Such also was the writer of Proverbs 20:1-9. He was godly and of a
lowly, self-judging spirit. He makes a good confession of human
blindness and depravity, of the unsearchable glories of God, the
purity and preciousness of His Word, and of the security of all who
trust in Him.
He was a man of God and walked in a good spirit, but he was not a
devoted man. He did not know how to abound and how to suffer need.
He dreaded poverty lest he should steal, and riches lest he should
deny God. He was not prepared for changes. Neither was Job. But
Paul was. He surrendered himself to the Lord Jesus, as they had not.
He was ready to be “emptied from vessel to vessel.” He was instructed
both to be full and to be hungry. He could do all things through Christ
See that devoted man, that dead and risen man in the closing chapters
of Acts (20 to 28). He is in the midst of a weeping company of brethren
at Miletus, and in the bosom of a loving Christian household at Tyre.
But were those able to detain him? No. Even there he carried a heart
thoroughly surrendered to the Lord Jesus Christ.
He could not be held, and on from thence he goes, along the coast of
Syria up to Jerusalem and then for two long years, apart from the brethren,
in perils by sea and land, under insults and wrongs, a single heart and
devoted affection bearing him through all. Mere righteousness will
not take such a journey. There must be that singleness of eye to the
Lord Jesus, that principle of devotedness which reckons upon our
death and resurrection in Him.
Job was righteous but he was not prepared for such shifting scenery as
this. He loved the green spot and the feathered nest. Changes come,
and changes are too much for him. But God, in the love wherewith He
loved him as his heavenly Father , puts him in school to learn the lesson
of a child of resurrection–to be a partaker of His holiness, the holiness
not merely of a right or pure-minded man, but the holiness that suits
the call of God, the holiness of a dead and risen man; one of the pilgrim
family, one of God’s strangers in the world. (Heb. 12:9,10)
Job was chastened to be partaker of such a holiness as this. Not that
trials and troubles, like this, are essential to the learning of this lesson.
A very common method it is with our heavenly Father in His love and
wisdom. But Paul set himself daily to learn and live that lesson,
without the instructions of griefs and losses in either body or estate. (Phil.3)
A dead and risen believer will have neither his springs nor his objects here.
His principles of action will be found in the Lord Jesus. He is taken out
of all the advantages and adornings of the flesh into the righteousness
and life of God in Christ–and then, livingly and practically, progresses
up the hill, having in spirit left the low level of the world. He has taken leave
of the course of the world. He has taken leave of the plain beneath, and
has ascended in spirit above–hid with Christ in God.
He lets the world know that it could never provide him with his object. In
the midst of its kingdoms and delights he is a stranger still. He can, like
his Master, hide the glory to which God has appointed him and be nothing
in the present scene here below. Abraham did not tell every Canaanite
whom he chanced to meet that he was the heir of the country.
–J.G. BELLETT (Selections from the Patriarchs)
The circumstances in which we learn most are those which most expose our weaknesses. As a rule we are placed in circumstances which demand that which we are most defective in. We are set in such and such situations, not because we can handle them, or behave in them better than anyone else; but on the contrary, because we need to be invigorated by grace in the defects which they are fitted to expose. They disclose to us where we need grace, so that constantly we are failing where we are expected to excel. We are put there to cast us on the Lord, and to teach us that we can do nothing of ourselves.
If we could excel there, we should glory in our success, but when we find that we are placed in the very circumstances that, perhaps, more than any others expose our weakness, we then see that we have no hope of being able to stand or succeed, unless we obtain grace to do so. I am not placed where I could excel most, but subjected to those difficulties in which I can best know my need of grace, and best learn dependence.
If I could get on without grace, I should grow elated with myself. But when I find that unless the Lord maintains me I shall surely fail, then I am humbled as to myself while at the same time deepened in dependence which the demand of my circumstances has, in a way, forced on me; and having learned the blessing of dependence, instead of regretting the difficulties which made it necessary to seek help, I am the more cheered and encouraged to go on in them.
For learning or service every one is placed where there is demand on him. The boy at school is not in the easy circumstances of home or the playground. The horse in harness is not in the ease of being in the stable or at grass.
The situations we are subjected to are the ones in which we can best learn and be most useful. It is not because we have nothing to learn or nothing to do for others. If we had naught to learn, there would be no difficulty in the lessons required of us every day. The fact that there is difficulty in them proves that we are not proficient, and that it is necessary that we should be subjected to that which discloses to us what we require to learn, or to draw from us what we can render.
Your weakness is exposed that you may acquire strength, and having received of the Lord, you will then be called on to render unto others — to comfort others, as you have been comforted of God; so that whether learner or servant, you are always set in circumstances where there is exaction, and not ease. If the learner were to keep at the same lesson always he might feel his difficulty over, but so would his learning be over.
Are you learning? Are you useful? Whenever you are either, you will find that you are in exacting circumstances, and therefore not those where you are most at home and at your ease; but the more you turn them to profit, the more you are learning of grace, and the more useful you are in sharing what you have acquired.
“We are not in heaven, but we are going on to get possession of it.
The Holy Spirit is down here, and we are highly favored. We must
be captivated by Him ( Jesus Christ). He is not One who will not
attend to our small matters. No, He comes down to the smallest
thing, and helps us out that we may be in company ( communion)
with Him, and now I shrink from anything that would hinder my
communion with Him. I am acquainted with Him now, and having
got the taste of heaven, then I come out in a new way to face every
obstruction between me and heaven, and the only thing I dread
is myself; therefore I have to lay aside every weight and sin which
doth so easily beset (Hebrews 12:1). I do not doubt the power. The
Lord grant that we may be as attached to Him as Peter was (Matt.14).”
Note: I believe it was Tommy Ice who mentioned that God’s people showed such adesire for expository preaching that they flooded the conferences in the early 1900s.It was this pursuit of God’s Word that eventually caused the need for more Bible teachersand preachers and brought about the founding of Dallas Theological Seminary and otherlike- Bible schools. As Dr. John Mitchell said, God will provide truth to feed His people. lkp“The faithful exposition of the Word of God powerfully transforms lives. This was never more true than in the preaching ministry by the so-called “Plymouth Brethren” 150 years ago. Men of God such as Henry Moorhouse, William Kelly, C.H. Macintosh, and R.C. Chapman were exceptionally gifted expositors of the Bible. C.H. Spurgeon commented that R.C. Chapman, was one of the godliest and most gifted expositors in England. “Brethren” Bible conferences in North America and Great Britain attracted overflowing crowds of serious Christians.The Legacy of Expository PreachingOf all the contributions of the so-called “Plymouth Brethren” movement to the evangelical church, it may be that expository preaching is its most enduring legacy. Expository preaching had fallen into disfavor at this time. Most ministers preached topically or textually, using one text or verse and then building a sermon around the theme of the verse. The “Plymouth Brethren” did not follow this method, but introduced a verse-by-verse, chapter-by-chapter consecutivemethod of Scripture exposition. Moreover, they preached the Bible as one unified book. Theydemonstrated that the prophecies of the Old Testament and the teaching of the New Testament could not be isolated from one another; rather, both were essential to a proper understanding of the Bible. They took seriously the historical-grammatic method of interpretation of Scripture, and labored in the exposition of types, dispensations, and prophecies of the Bible. They were recognized as authorities on the original languages of the Scriptures, trends within theology, and biblicalhistory and culture. This style of preaching was a refreshing change, stimulating spiritual growth and stirring great interest in the Scriptures. This unique approach virtually transformed the method in which the Bible was proclaimed and has influenced expository preaching well into our present day. The efforts of these Brethren expositors had a significant impact on L.S. Chafer, H.A. Ironside,and the founders of Dallas Theological Seminary and Moody Bible Institute, influencing the expository preaching of a whole new generation.The Importance of Expository PreachingAs expository preaching was given great emphasis by the early “Plymouth Brethren,” leading evangelical preachers on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean were quick to see its great importance. As expository preaching began to gain acceptance, the spiritual lives of many Christians were revitalized. This expository preaching movement may have contributed in part to the deep interest in the Scofield Reference Bible, the surge in missionary interest, and the Bible ProphecyConference Movement of the late 1800s. How does expository preaching transform lives?Why is expository preaching so important? Alfred P. Gibbs, the author of The Preavcher and His Preaching, explains the importance of expository preaching:“Expository preaching puts the supreme emphasis on the Word of God. It magnifies the Word of God, and gives it the place of supreme authority…this type of preaching serves the far better purpose of edifying the people of God as the Scriptures are applied to their everyday lives. It provides an opportunity for speaking on many passages that would otherwise be neglected. By means of this method of preaching little known truths will be given their rightful place, and it will be demonstratedthat all Scripture is essential to furnish the man of God. The well-placed emphasis on expository preaching is a great tool in the hand of God for spiritual renewal.”The Challenge of Expository PreachingThese human messengers of the oracles of God were powerfully gripped by the realization that they were handling divine truth. Therefore, faithfulness and spiritual care were essential in setting forth the truths of the Scriptures. Many hours of careful study were devoted to understandingthe truth of God. These expositors, armed with the Word of God in their hearts and skilled with gift from above, brought untold blessing to many. Many were challenged by the godliness of their character, the breadth of their knowledge of the holy Word, and their commitment to the truth of God at all costs. Many who heard their ministry were changed forever. Expository preaching is theappointed way of bringing men and women face to face with the truths of God’s Word. It is God’smethod of faithfully proclaiming the whole counsel of God and fully furnishing believers for service. The apostle Paul exhorts Timothy, “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine”(2 Tim. 4:2). May we take up this important challenge to passionately preach the Word of God, to proclaim it expositionally, and to faithfullymake the truth of God known to a new generation!(from Cornerstone magazine, July-Aug 2017)
It was in that very spot, sir,” said a working shoemaker, pointing to a place in his little workshop, “Yes, in that very place, sir, six years ago, that the Lord spoke peace to my troubled soul; and how good and gracious He is.” Such was almost the beginning of our happy and profitable intercourse on paying a visit to this dear servant of the Lord Jesus. . . . .
After talking generally together, and having had sweet fellowship in the things of our precious Savior and Lord, and we were about to leave, he said, “I should like to let you know something about the exercises of soul I have been lately passing through.” To this we readily assented.
He then said something like this: “When I was converted to God, and knew the Lord Jesus Christ His Son as my Savior, I thought I shall now surely prosper in my little business; but in this I was sadly mistaken, for my earnings very soon fell off. The first year I earned three shillings a week less, the second year three shillings a week less, the third year four shillings a week less, and of late my earnings have been so little that I thought I must give it up, and seek some other employment, though I have so enjoyed the Lord’s presence with me in this little place. Accordingly, knowing Mr. M. to be a kind christian man, and that he held a good situation in a large factory near this, I asked him if he thought he could procure me employment of any kind in his place of business, and he promised to let me know when there was a vacancy.
“But after this I became deeply exercised before the Lord as to what I was about. Is this that I am seeking according to my own will or the Lord’s will? Is He bidding me to give up my present calling and seek another? for I have had much of the Lord’s presence, and enjoyed His sweet company when working alone in this corner. And just then the Lord seemed to say to me, Which will you have? Will you go into the factory, and mix with the ungodly multitude with large wages, or remain in this corner and enjoy my presence with small earnings; which will you have? I assure you, sir, it was a serious moment. I turned it well over in my mind. I considered how weak I am, how easily turned aside, and began to think that if I went into that factory to work, I might soon be drawn away, and lose my blessed Lord’s sweet company. So I said, ‘Lord, let me have Thy company even if it must be with small earnings; I’d rather suffer loss, than not enjoy Thy presence with me.’ From that time I became perfectly settled, and told Mr. M. not to think anything more about procuring a situation for me. Now, sir, it is remarkable that from that time work began to come in more than for a long time before.”
We could not help thinking that the result was just what we should have expected. We believe that one of the greatest hindrances to souls is their being so taken up with desire for worldly prosperity. The consequence is that the Lord has not got His rightful place in their hearts; and, however many excuses they may make, the question really is, “Am I seeking earthly gain, or the enjoyment of the Lord’s presence? Is communion with Him the uppermost desire of my heart?” Perhaps no point is of more importance for us really to settle in the presence of God. If
worldly advantage, to say nothing of the accumulation of wealth, has the first consideration, let it not surprise us, if such go further and further away from the Lord; but if we are willing to suffer loss, and to lay aside everything that hinders our enjoyment of His sweet company, then we may be sure that He will not forsake us as to food and raiment. We believe the scripture is as true as ever,
Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you (Matt. 6:33).
We do well to remember that to the believer it is said,
Unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake (Phil. 1:29).
Things New and Old 25:330-332.
Articles from Things New and Old 377