IT is surely a matter of the first importance that all believers – and especially those young in the faith – should be crystal clear in regard to all that the Scriptures teach concerning the collective life and witness of the people of God, in the present day of confusion and difficulty. Only thus shall we be delivered from the twin evils of ritualism and “ rutualism."
So we shall attempt, in this and succeeding articles, D. V., to place before our readers a brief sketch of a gracious movement of the Spirit of God that restored to the people of God, many, if not most, of those glorious truths incorporated in the teaching of the Holy Scriptures.
Certainly we do not overlook, in writing thus, those memorable days of the Reformation period when Martin Luther, and others, re-discovered the truth of” Justification by Faith alone “; with kindred facts of New Testament teaching. Nay, rather we recognize, fully and gratefully, the good hand of God in thus enlightening and empowering His servants to throw aside the curtain of superstition (corrupt in teaching and practice) that so long shrouded these soul-liberating truths during the period of the Dark Ages. Countless thousands of the people of God were brought to a new experience in the spiritual understanding of these truths.
Yet we have before us, just now, the facts concerning a recovery of truth that went even further than the above, bringing out from under the rubble and rubbish of accepted tradition those glorious scriptural teachings relating to the calling, character, order, and destiny of the Church of God ; also the coming of the Lord, with its many implications.In these matters, we all
WHETHER YOUNGERS OR ELDERS
should be well informed. It is quite obviously all too easy to accept a “ church position “ without knowing the “ why," and therefore having but little concern about the “ wherefore.” To have spiritual convictions based upon scriptural teachings, imparted to us by the Holy Spirit and wrought out in our lives by His gracious enabling, that is the ideal; all else is, comparatively, a hollow mockery. Have we not heard of the man who, when interrogated as to what he believed, replied, naively, “ Just what the Church believes.” And when asked for an explanation of what the Church believed, he said, “ Just what I believe.” In other words, his theological concepts resembled the inner content of a vacuum-cleaner !
But we must sound a warning note – differing views of that very movement of which we are writing have bulked so largely in the minds of some as to become a base for contention, tending rather to scatter than to
UNITE THE PEOPLE OF GOD.
This is entirely wrong, and we should hope that all our readers are clear of this form of religious plague.
Really, we must have a scriptural basis for every spiritual action in our life and ways. True allegiance to assembly fellowship, or indeed, to any phase of the teaching of Scripture, cannot be produced by the mere acceptance of historical facts.
With this thought in view, we ask the reader to turn to the book of Nehemiah and find therein the refreshing record of a wonderful revival and restoration. It will be unnecessary to labour the theme of this interesting book, since we may assume that those who read these pages are well acquainted with the salient facts.
In the day in which Nehemiah lived, the people of God were found in captivity in Babylon, and had been so for many years. Jerusalem was inhabited by a remnant, its walls broken down and its gates burned with fire (Neh. 1.3). The condition of those in exile is graphically described in Psa. 137.But
THERE WAS A MAN
of Israel’s scattered race in whose heart were the ways of Zion – a devout servant of God, with a self-sacrificing love for His land and His people. His name was Nehemiah and, while in Babylon, he was “ cupbearer “ to the Persian King. Despite his position in the royal palace, he longed like Moses before him, to be the deliverer of his brethren. To him the dust of Jerusalem was of more value than the gold of Babylon. He would exchange the palace of Babylon for the rubbish of an overthrown city, and sought per¬mission from his monarch master to return to Jerusalem. Thus would he link himself with those “ feeble Jews “ (Neh. 4. 2), in order to give effect to the call of God and the spiritual exercise that had fitted him for the work of res¬toration.
In reading the Book, note how earnestly they prayed and how devotedly they toiled. Despite the opposition, the wall was rebuilt in the very short time of 52 days (Neh. 6. 15). “ The strength of the bearers of burdens (was) decayed, and there (was) much rubbish” (Neh. 4. 10). Humanly speaking, the completion of such a task was an impossibility, but
” THE JOY OF THE LORD “
was their strength (Neh. 8. 10).Every man stood in his place, and how happily and unitedly they toiled in the work.
And what gave impulse and direction to all this ? Surely it was obedience to the revealed will of God. “ They found written “ (Neh. 8. 14) the mind of God concerning His city and His people, and this provided impetus and direction for their sanctified activity. The “ rubbish “ must go !
In the application of all this in the experience of the Church of God, we shall write?, D.V., in the next issue of this magazine, concerning the ways of God with His people ; granting to them, about the year 1827, a visitation of reviving grace, thus recovering long-forgotten truths, overlaid by human traditions, resulting from a neglect of His Word.