The Bible Truth Review
Issue No. 14 (May/June 10, 1991)
In This Issue
“The Joy of Faith.” by Charles H. Welch in The Berean Expositor circa 1912-13. Do we know experimentally the joy of faith? Here’s how.
“Judging #5. Who Should Be Judged?” by J. McEown in Bible Explorations, Vol. 1 No. 11, Nov. 1987. An interesting conclusion is drawn from the epistles of Paul.
“Love No. 1” by Charles H. Welch in The Berean Expositor circa 1914-15. First in a series on the grace and fruit of love.
“The Parables. No. 9. Matt. xv. 10-20.” by Charles H. Welch in The Berean Expositor circa 1914-15. Things which defile a man.
“The Sovereignty of God #8” by Oscar M. Baker in Truth For Today, Vol. 40 No. 12, April 1991. The place of the Lord in the sovereignty of God.
Subscription Information and Permission to Distribute by Leo Wierzbowski, editor of The Bible Truth Review.
“The Joy of Faith” by Charles H. Welch in The Berean Expositor.
We have heard of the “work of faith,” and realize increasingly the necessity there is to remember that “faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.” We have heard that “faith worketh patience,” and can understand even by our own small experiences that as we realize by faith all the goodness, grace and glory laid up by virtue of redemption, patience is no effort, but is rather one of the precious fruits of faith.
We seem, however, to hear little of the “joy of faith.” All Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable. All Scripture comes to us with a demand for conformity to its teaching. What of the “joy of faith”? Can we have the real faith of the epistles if it is a joyless faith? We know the “faiths” or “creeds” of man’s construction (even though framed with the Word in view) often become grievous burdens, and shackle those who subscribe to them as with fetters of iron. We want none of these joyless creeds, but still let us ask, Do we know experimentally “the joy of faith”?
The expression is found in Phil. i.25. The apostle writes, “I know that I shall abide and continue with you all, for your furtherance and joy of the faith.” J. N. Darby in a note says, “Progress and joy go together, not ‘progress — and joy in faith.'” Whatever the exact meaning of the apostle may be in this passage, the truth which we feel we must emphasize is that to believe the truth of the mystery, to realize the fact of acceptance in the Beloved, to know that we have been raised together and made to sit together in the heavenlies, in Christ, to know that we have been delivered out of the authority of darkness, and translated into the kingdom of the beloved Son of God, this “faith” surely must bring “joy” with it (the very writing of the words stirs our heart with joy), and a furtherance or progress in this faith, while it may deepen our love, increase our sympathy, perhaps cause us much conflict and many tears, yet seeing of Whom it speaks, and the untold riches of grace and glory that it reveals, cannot but bring with it joy.
Already in Rom. xv.13, with reference to other things, the apostle had written, “Now the God of the hope (namely of verse 12, trust being hope) fill you with all joy and peace in believing.” Or again, in 2 Cor. i.24, he had written, “Not for that we have dominion over your faith, but are fellow workers of your joy, for by faith ye stand.” “Joy” is a fruit of the Spirit mentioned early in the wondrous cluster, “love, joy, peace,” &c. Peter was not a stranger to the “joy of faith,” for speaking of the Lord Jesus Christ he said, “Whom having not seen, ye love, in Whom, though now ye see Him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable, and full of glory.”
What is the ground of this joy? A reading of either Philippians, or I Peter, will dispel the idea that external circumstances contributed to this joy of faith. In both epistles suffering and sorrow are emphatic, yet in the midst of it all there breathes a pure unconquerable joy. “Joy” and “rejoice” are keywords of Philippians.
One point of deepest significance, which must not pass unnoticed, arises out of the connection of the theme of the “joy of the faith” with the peculiar object of this epistle. “Philippians” assumes that the blessed teaching of “Ephesians” is known and believed. On that basis the apostle speaks of working out our own salvation with fear and trembling (working out, not working for), and has in prospect a prize not attained but sought. It is not until he wrote 2 Timothy that he knew he had finished his course, and that henceforth there was laid up for him a crown. In Acts xx. he had said that he counted not his life dear unto himself, but that he desired to finish his course with joy. This therefore is the reason why in Philippians the apostle passes from salvation by faith, or justification by faith, to speak of the joy of faith, the anticipation of the crown or prize. The idea may be found in the well-known words of Matt. xxv.:-
“Well done, good and faithful servant, thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things; enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.”
This joy, connected as it is with reward for faithfulness, may be seen in Heb. xii.1,2:-
“Let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, Who for the joy that was set before Him endured a cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
When the apostle spoke of the fulfilling of his joy it was in respect to the good of others,and not of his own ease or comfort. “Fulfill ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord” (Phil. ii.2). Or again in iv.1, “Therefore, my brethren, dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved.” Look at the first six occurrences in the prison epistles of the word “rejoice.”
“What then? Notwithstanding every way (and some of these ways were humanly hard to endure), whether in pretense or in truth: CHRIST is preached, and therein I do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice” (Phil. i.18).
Had the apostle thought of himself, thought upon the baseness and ingratitude that moved some in their preaching to suppose they thereby added affliction to his bonds, what cause would he have found for rejoicing? He had learned, however, a little of the mind that was in Christ Jesus, he thought of others rather than of himself. He who could say, “Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life or death,” could rejoice in the fact that Christ was preached, even though some who preached sought his injury. Again, this utter regardlessness of self is manifested in his words of ii.17,18:-
“Yea, and if I be offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy and rejoice with you all. For this cause also do ye joy and rejoice with me.”
What words are here! The apostle willing to be poured out as a drink offering over the sacrifice and service of their faith, and they, seeing his utter abandonment to the service and glory of his Lord, rejoicing together with him. Can earth furnish such joy as this? A joy which no tears can blind, but which, the rather, through those tears will take on added lustre as the rainbow from the storm. His “finally” is still the same blessed theme, “Finally, my brethren rejoice in the Lord” (iii.1); “and again I say, rejoice” (iv.4). If we rejoice in our attainments we shall fall into grievous error and sorrow. If we rejoice even in the increased light shed upon the Word we must remember the One Who alone is to be praised for the opened eye to see. Let our rejoicing be “in the Lord,” then it will be real and full.
Are we joyful enough? We seek grace to manifest the fact that we are fellow-members of the One Body, we seek grace to exhibit all lowliness and meekness, to walk worthy of the calling, but let us not forget “joy.” We may in times past have been misled into believing that a solemn face, a funereal air, a joyless, sunless, rigid demeanour, glorified the Lord. Thanks be to God for deliverance from such things. Let us be glad and rejoice in the Lord. The faith which is ours to hold is full enough to fill us all to the brim with “joy unspeakable.” We need not be trivial, frivolous or emotional to experience and shed abroad something of the radiance that should be evident in those who “rejoice in the Lord alway,” and who have received the truth in the love of it, and the faith in some measure of its joy.
Moses “wist not that his face shone,” but it was evident he had been with the Lord. So, in like manner, may it be ours to reflect something of the radiance of the “joy of faith.”
“Judging #5. Who Should Be Judged?” by J. McEown in Bible Explorations.
In Scripture, the word judge is from the Greek word meaning to sift or separate, and man has had to separate (judge) good from evil ever since his first parents took in knowledge of both. He can easily be deceived in judging, but God has provided a new mind and His Word so that His children can discern between the two. But what are they to judge and what are they to do with what they discern?
At first glance, Scripture seems to give opposing commands, saying in some places to judge others and in other places saying not to judge others. Each reference must be examined in its immediate context and in the greater context of all Scripture. Sometimes hypocrites are addressed and sometimes sincere saints are addressed. Sometimes God’s kingdom on earth is the subject and sometimes His kingdom above the heavens is the subject. Because examining each reference would take more time and space than feasible for this paper, we shall consider two principles about judging which are constant throughout God’s Word. Firstly, we will consider the believer’s judging of himself and secondly his judging of others.
Since the unregenerate, without the new mind, cannot understand God’s Word and distinguish right from wrong, he is not accountable. He is judged already for failure to believe on the Son of God (Jn 3:18). But we who have believed on the Son of God, can understand God’s Word and are accountable for our handling of that Word and for lives lived equal to our knowledge of it. Paul said, “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith.” (ICo 11:28). And again, “if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.” He wrote to believers whose behavior was wrong by God’s commands. Later he prayed that the Philippians would, “approve things that are excellent.” (Php 1:10). A rendering of this, closer to the Greek is, “distinguish things that differ.” They had entered a new and different administration of God and needed to sift the instructions and promises to Israel which they had embraced before from the instructions to the church of all nations to which they now were called. Finally, to us also, members of that church, it is written, “For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light…Proving (testing) what is acceptable unto the Lord.” (Eph 5:8,10). Learning what is acceptable to the Lord today is each individual’s responsibility. No one can discern for us. We alone can sift our own beliefs and wrong behavior by testing them by the Scriptures and “approving things that are excellent.”
As to what others believe in their hearts, only the Lord can judge. He knows how much understanding they have, what intents and desires they have, and what barriers befront them. But the believer with the new mind and God’s Word as his guide, can detect good from evil in acts and words and he has a responsibility to respond to such. The Apostle Paul said to follow him as an example as he followed Christ (ICo 4:11). We find his manner was to encourage the good he found and endeavor to dispel the evil. His epistles show that when he knew of other’s wrong doing his first effort was prayer, then he wrote letters, sent messengers, spoke face to face at times and finally he withdrew from those who repeatedly refused to hear warnings. He spent three years with the Ephesians where he said, “…I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears.” (Acts 20:31). Rather than condemning wrong doers we find him beseeching and warning of the consequences of evil, as one who loved them would.
In his letter to the Romans, Paul first said he gave thanks, “that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world.” (Rom 1:3). But he also addressed a segment there and told them they were inexcusable for condemning fellow saints for the very things they did themselves (Rom 2:1).
He wrote the Corinthians that he longed to teach truths which he could not because of their envy and bickering, and he sent Timothy to them, “…who shall bring you into remembrance of my ways which be in Christ…” (ICo 4:7). The Corinthian saints were also told not to keep company with any who claimed to follow Christ and lived in immorality; and we are told in IITi 2:19, “Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.”
Judging the words and acts of others as Paul did, should then evoke prayer, encouragement, beseeching, warning and even withdrawing on our part, but never may we speak evil of a saint (Tit 3:12). Michael, Israel’s archangel, dared not make an evil judgment on the devil (who so obviously deserved it), but he left that to the Lord (Jude 9). How much less are we qualified to condemn one of our family members in the Body of Christ.
Who should be judged? We conclude that no person should be judged, but rather, our own beliefs need sifting sometimes, and the words and acts of all God’s children need separating sometimes by that living instrument, the Word of God.
“Love No. 1” by Charles H. Welch in The Berean Expositor.
“Though I . . . . understand all mysteries . . . . and have not love, I am nothing” (I Cor. iii. 2).
We are daily adding to our knowledge of the deeper teaching of the Word; fresh beauties shine forth from the sacred page; we seek increasingly “rightly to divide the Word of truth,” and with this increased knowledge and light one might be led to imagine that spiritually nothing much was left to be desired. As we read the Scriptures, however, light and knowledge are not put fortmost, love is first and greatest and must be in all times the criterion of our true spiritual advancement. When the Lord was questioned by the lawyer as to which was the great commandment in the law, He replied:-
“Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it. Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets” (Matt. xxii. 37-40).
It should be observed that heart love comes before that of the soul, or of the mind. It is comparatively easy to love with the mind, to love in “word,” or in “tongue,” but to love “in deed and in truth” (I John iii. 18) necessitates the activity of the heart. When we notice the prayers of the apostle Paul in Ephesians i. and iii., we find that while “the knowledge of Him” and “to know what is the hope of His calling” are prominent in the first prayer, love figures very largely in the second, “rooted and grounded in love,” and “to know the knowledgesurpassing love of Christ.” In the practical section of Ephesians (iv.-vi.) the apostle exhorts the believer to a worthy walk, and the central occurrence of the word “walk” in that section is the exhortation to:-
“Walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given Himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour” (Eph. v. 2).
This high standard is the basis of the apostle’s appeal in Eph. v. 25, “Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church, and gave Himself for it.” When the apostle would pray for the advancement of the Philippians, although he desired them to have “discernment” and ability to “try the things that differ,” these were not the initial petitions. The Spirit of God knew only too well that discernment without love is withering and harsh, and knowledge without love but ministers to pride; therefore the apostle was led to pray first and foremost for the overflowing of their love, “And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more” (Phil. i. 9). In the Epistle to the Colossians the apostle speaks of putting on the new man, and as a climax says, “And above all these things, put on love, which is the bond of perfectness” (Col. iii. 14).
Let it be the earnest desire of every reader that our love shall keep pace with our advance in knowledge, otherwise our words must be written off as “sounding brass,” and our knowledge as nothing worth. As space allows in subsequent issues we hope to consider some of the aspects of this chief of graces, and first of the Spirit’s fruits, “ABOVE ALL . . . . LOVE.”
“The Parables No. 9” by Charles H. Welch in The Berean Expositor.
We have now concluded our consideration of the parables of Matt. xiii. As we have seen,these parables of the mysteries of the kingdom form a complete line of teaching by themselves. After this series of parables was concluded the Lord Jesus revealed the fact that He must not only be rejected, but be crucified, die, and be raised again the third day. The parables of the second section accordingly take a somewhat different turn. One parable is spoken after chapter xiii. before the revelation of the Lord’s death in Matt. xvi. After this the second series of parables follows, ending in the prophetic words of Matt. xxiv. and xxv. This series makes a complete set marked by a special aspect of dispensational teaching, just in the same way that the parables of Matt. xiii. are marked by a special aspect of dispensational truth.
Before considering this group, however, we will look at the parable recorded in Matt. xv. 10-20. It throws light upon the nature of the opposition, and the forces at work which had rejected the kingdom and finally would crucify the King. It arose out of the question of the Scribes and Pharisees concerning eating with unwashen hands. The Lord does not here, as He does in Matt. xxiii., fully and unreservedly strip off their mask of hypocrisy, for His hour had not yet come. In parable form, however, He enforces the lesson of the previous words addressed to the Scribes and Pharisees. These formalists were far more concerned about ceremonial washings, than about fruit of heart love. The transgression of some minute point of rabbinical tradition was far more serious in their eyes than the breaking of the law of God.
In answer to the question, “Why do Thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders?” the Lord said, “Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition?” Opposition had been gathering, and many attempts to entrap the Lord had been made. His free intermingling with the publicans and sinners wounded the pride of the teachers of the law. His freedom regarding the sabbath was much resented and opposed. It appears that on some occasion the Pharisees had noticed that the disciples had not observed the tradition regarding washings before meals, and this supplied them with a weapon of attack. The oral tradition laid peculiar emphasis upon these ceremonial ablutions. No doubt we have all heard of Rabbi Akiba, who when imprisoned and supplied with only enough water to maintain life, chose rather to perish with thirst and hunger than to eat without the necessary washings. What a pitiable misconception! What a God these people had invented! We can imagine the feelings with which these men came down with this charge upon the disciples of the Lord. They did not expect the Lord to reveal the superficial nature of their teaching, which He did so incisively by his reference to their despicable gloss in relation to “the first commandment with promise :-
“Ye hypocrites, well did Isaiah prophesy of you saying, This people draweth nigh with their mouth, and honoureth Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. But in vain they do worship Me (solemn words for all dispensations), teaching for doctrines the commandments of men” (Matt v. 7-9).
Turning from these votaries of littleness, the Lord called the people together and said:-
“Hear and understand. Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man, but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man” (Matt. xv. 10, 11).
In these few words the Lord brushed aside the external and the ceremonial, establishing in their place the real and the essential. The record in Mark vii. 15 should be compared:-
“There is nothing from without a man that, entering into him can defile him, but the things which come out of him, these are they that defile a man”
These words were sufficiently understood by the Pharisees to offend them, but the Lord in His reply shows how little He thought of man’s judgment, “Let them alone; they be blind leaders of the blind.” Peter now asks for an explanation of the parable, and Matt. xv. 16-20 contains the Lord’s answer:-
“And Jesus said, Are ye also yet without understanding, that whatsoever entereth in at the mouth goeth into the belly, and is cast into the draught? but those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. These are the things which defile a man, but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man.”
Mark gives one or two additional statements which are too important to pass over unnoticed:-
“Do ye not perceive, that whatsoever thing from without entereth into the man, it cannot defile him, because it entereth not into his heart” (Mark vii. 18).
Thus the whole subject revolves around the words “not into his heart” and “out of the heart.” “Their heart is far from Me.” The A.V. continues, “but into the belly, and goeth into the draught, purging all meats.” The last clause has caused a great amount of unprofitable matter to be written. The true meaning is given in the R.V., “This He said, making all meats clean,” i.e., abolishing for ever the scrupulosities of mere ceremonial distinctions. The list of evil things is different from that given in Matt. xv.:-
“Evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness” (Mark vii. 21, 22).
We would now draw attention to one or two important words and expressions used in this parable, and then show the light it casts upon the times and circumstances of this closing section of Matthew’s Gospel.
DEFILED (koinos).–It must be remembered that the subject of defilement or uncleanness in this parable is ceremonial, it in no wise touches upon the desirability of having clean hands at meal times, neither does it teach that we may eat anything with impunity. If we perceive the truth nothing can make us ceremonially unclean, but some things may do us a deal of harm physically. The word koinos has nothing whatever to do with uncleanness in a physical sense; it means defilement only in a ceremonial sense. The following are its occurrences:-
“*Defiled* (That is to say unwashen) hands” (Mark vii. 2).
“All things *common*” (Acts ii. 44; iv. 32).
“*Common* or unclean” (Acts x. 14, 28; xi. 8).
“There is nothing unclean of itself, but to him that esteemeth anything to be *unclean*, to him it is *unclean*” (Rom. xiv. 14).
“The *common* faith” (Titus i. 4).
“An *unholy* thing” (Heb x. 29).
“The *common* salvation” (Jude 3).
“*Defile* a man” (Matt. iv. 11, 18, 20; Mark vii. 15, 18, 20, 23).
“Call not thou *common*” (Acts x. 15; xi. 9).
“Brought Greeks also into the temple, and hath *polluted* this holy place” (Acts xxi. 28).
“Sprinkling the *unclean*” (Heb. ix. 13).
“There shall in no wise enter into it any thing that *defileth*” (Rev. xi. 27).
It will be seen by the above passages that the idea defile must be considered from the ceremonial standpoint. The apostle does not hesitate to speak of the “common faith,” not because there was anything unclean about it, but because it was not the exclusive possession of a privileged few, it being now proclaimed to the Gentile as well as the Jew. The ceremonial ablutions were jealously guarded and observed not so much out of a desire for holiness or personal cleanliness, but out of a cramped, narrow and bigoted pride. To the pharisaic mind there was but one class, “the elect,” all others were either “Gentile dogs,” or “the people who know not the law” who are cursed. This narrow exclusive spirit was a fundamental cause of the great rejection, for in Matt. xxiii. 13 the first woe uttered by our Lord touches this very point:-
“But woe unto you Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men, for ye neither go in yourselves, neither do ye suffer them that are entering to go in.”
Luke xi. 52 adds another weighty word:-
“Woe unto you lawyers! for ye took away the key of knowledge, ye entered not in yourselves, and them that were entering in ye hindered.”
The reference to “the blind guides” in Matt. xxiii. 16 is a further link with Matt. xv. So also the sentiment of verses 23- 27. The charge is very severe, and must have caused, as indeed we know it did, intense hatred. These men, who were so scrupulous about the outside as in Matt. xv., were within “full of all uncleanness.”
HEART.–The way in which the Lord uses the word “heart” is full of deep teaching. In the Beatitudes He had said, “Blessed are the pure in heart,” the word “pure” being the Greek word katharos. The next time the Lord uses the word in Matthew it is in direct continuance of this passage in Matt. v. :-
“Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also” (Matt. xxiii. 26).
The clean in heart, not the ceremonially and externally clean, not as the whitewashed sepulchres, these and these alone should see the kingdom. So superficial had become the ideas of men at the time of Christ, that He early disturbed the self-righteous complacency of those who thought that they were safe:-
“Ye have, heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery, but I say unto you, that whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart” (Matt. v. 28).
“The tree is known by his fruit. O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh” (Matt. xii. 33, 34).
Thus the Lord would teach that just as the fruit of a tree indicates the nature of the tree itself, so the fruit of the lips will show the nature of the heart which gives that fruit origin. Once again, in answer to the lawyer’s question, the Lord puts the heart in the first place:-
“Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind” (Matt xxii. 37).
Heart first, mind last. The mere intellectualism which always accompanies a pharisaical spirit is placed by its advocates foremost, while the heart is placed last. Not so, in the Lord’s estimate. He does not call upon us to quibble over the petty details which occupied the little minds of these formalists, but urges love of heart first and foremost.
The words of the R.V. of Mark vii. 19, “This he said, making all meats clean,” should be noted. These words are the inspired comment upon the Lord’s teaching. It indicated the trend of His teaching and the effect of His work. It lifted the one who believed Him above the sphere wherein such observances were of service. It entirely discountenanced the teaching of the Pharisees. The spirit of the lesson is echoed in an apocryphal addition to Luke vi. 5 found in the Codex Bezae:-
“On the same day, seeing one working on the Sabbath, He said to him, O man, if indeed thou knowest what thou doest, thou art blessed, but if thou knowest not, thou art accursed and a transgressor of the Law.”
Let us now examine the list of sins which the Lord said did defile a man, coming as they did out of the heart.
EVIL THOUGHTS.–The word “thought” is dialogismos:Ä
“When Jesus perceived their *thoughts*, He answering said unto them, What *reason ye* in your hearts?” (Luke v. 22).
“The Scribes and Pharisees watched Him, whether He would heal on the Sabbath day, that they might find an accusation against Him, but He knew their *thoughts*” (Luke vi. 7, 8).
So also Luke ii. 35; ix. 46, 47; xxiv. 38; and James ii. 4. The word “evil” is poneros:Ä
“Wherefore think ye *evil* in your hearts” (Matt. ix. 4).
“O generation of vipers, how can ye (Pharisees, see verse 24), being *evil* speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh . . . . An *evil* and adulterous generation” (Matt. xii. 34, 39).
It seems fairly clear that the Lord had the Pharisees and Scribes in view when He uttered the words in the parable concerning evil thoughts.
MURDERS (phonos).–The word occurs in connection with Barabbas in Mark xv. 7 and Luke xxiii. 19, 25. “Destroyed those murderers, and burnt up their city” (Matt. xxii. 7). Refer back to the related parable in Matt. xxi. 38, 39 for the full force of this passage: note verses 45 and 46, and xxii. 15, and see how the Pharisees realize that the Lord meant to indicate them under this awful title. Matt. v. 21 has already made it clear how “murder” may be charged against these plotting enemies of the Lord. The Pharisees and Scribes are again charged with this foul crime in Matt. xxiii. 31-39.
ADULTERERS (moicheia).–“The Scribes and Pharisees brought unto Him a woman taken in adultery” (John viii. 3). These hypocrites were not concerned about the evil of the act (for they were guilty themselves, see verse 9), they simply desired to catch the Lord and involve Him in His words (verse 6). The exceeding looseness with which many of the Pharisees held the marriage tie involved them in the sin of adultery before God (see Matt. v. 31, 32, and xix. 3-9). As with murder, so with adultery, the desire of the heart constituted guilt (see Matt. v. 27, 28). On several occasions the Lord denounced these evil men as “a wicked and adulterous generation” (see Matt. xii. 39 and xvi. 4).
FORNICATIONS (porneia).–It is a remarkable fact that this plague figures more conspicuously in the Epistles and in the Revelation than in the Gospels. Once the enemies of the Lord use it (John viii. 41), an insult which His holy nature must have felt keenly, but how gracious and calm was His reply! Although specific instances of this sin are not given in the Gospels, we know the Lord sufficiently to imagine that He would not use a word so foul, unless He knew only too well that the charge was actually true. Its prominence in the Apocalypse, and the practical absence of adultery, throw a vivid light on the character of the last days.
THEFTS (klope).–This word occurs nowhere else except in the parallel passage of Mark. The cognate word kleptes (“thief”) is used in John x. 1, 8, 1O, and includes the Scribes and Pharisees, as the context shows. The devouring of widows’ houses (Matt. xxiii. 14; Mark xii. 40; and Luke xx. 47), the traditions (Matt. xv. 5, 6), and the turning of the House of Prayer into a den of thieves (Matt. xi. 13), involve the Pharisees in this sin.
FALSE WITNESS.–This word in all its hideous nakedness is written against the “chief priests, and elders, and all the council” (Matt. xxvi. 59) in relation to the deep-laid plot against the life of the Lord Jesus Christ. This is the more significant when we consider the fact that these two passages contain all the occurrences of the word in the N.T.
BLASPHEMY.–Mark iii. 29 shows that the Scribes were guilty of the most unpardonable blasphemy.
We will not go through the list given in Mark, readers should make a study of the words there given. One thing is prominent in this parable. The Pharisees were guilty of breaking the very law in which they boasted so much. Listen to our Lord’s summary of the Law:-
“Jesus said (observe the order here and in Matt. xv.), Thou shalt do no *murder*, thou shalt not commit *adultery*, thou shalt not *steal*, thou shalt not bear *false witness*. Honour thy father and thy mother (cf. Matt, xv. 4-6), and thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself (Matt. xix. 18, 19).
How weak, how beggarly, the petty observances and mere trifling externals of the Pharisees appear when seen from the standpoint of love. The apostle Paul, writing to the Romans, seems to have the pharisaical spirit before him. First in Rom. ii. we read:-
“For wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself . . . . Behold, thou art called a Jew, and restest in the law, and makest thy boast of God, and knowest His will, and approvest the things that are more excellent, being instructed out of the law, and art confident that thou thyself art a guide of the blind (cf. Matt. xv. 14), a light of them which are in darkness, an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of babes, which have the FORM of knowledge and of the truth in the law (cf. 2 Tim. iii. 5); thou therefore that TEACHEST another, *teachest thou not thyself*? thou that PREACHEST a man should not steal, *dost thou steal*? thou that SAYEST a man should not commit adultery, *dost thou commit adultery*? thou that abhorrest idols, *dost thou commit sacrilege*? thou that makest thy boast in the law, through breaking the law *dishonourest thou God* . . . . who by the *letter* and *circumcision* dost transgress the law? (Matt. xv. 3). For he is not a Jew who is one *outwardly* (see Matt. xiii. 28) . . . . circumcision is that of the HEART in the spirit, and not in the letter (cf. 2 Cor. iii. 6), whose praise is not of men, but of God.”
The sequel is found in Rom. xiii. 8-1O:-
“Owe no man anything, but to love one another; for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. For this, thou shalt not commit adultery, thou shalt not kill, thou shalt not steal, thou shalt not bear false witness, thou shalt not covet, and if there be any other commandment it is briefly comprehended in this saying, ‘Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself'”
Returning to the parable of Matt. xv. with the knowledge we have now gained, do we not see that it foreshadowed that spirit which manifested itself in all its hollowness and sham, and whose loveless creed culminated in the basest act that the world has ever witnessed. The second set of parables in Matthew’s Gospel becomes luminous in the light of this one. Into what a ditch these blind guides led that poor blinded people! The Lord disowns them, they were never planted by Him, they were sown by the Devil, they shall be rooted up (Matt. xiii. 29). They are the tares, the children of the wicked one. The burden of guilt rested chiefly upon the rulers and leaders of the people. They neither entered into the kingdom of the heavens themselves, nor allowed the common people, who desired to enter, to do so.
While it is of the utmost importance to realize the dispensational setting and bearing of this parable, it is essential to our joy and peace that we take to heart the solemn teaching for ourselves. May we remember that the mere observance of ceremonies is nothing. Love is the fulfilling of the law. Our walk is to be “in love.” Let us take heed and beware of the “leaven of the Pharisees, and of the Sadducees.”
“The Sovereignty of God #8” by Oscar M. Baker in Truth For Today.
In all our study we must be careful that we give due honor to the Son, for if one does not honor the Son, then he does not honor God. We understand from the Scriptures that the Son is none other than God in flesh.
In Genesis 1 we learn that Adam was made in the likeness of the image of God. This image is Christ (Col. 1:15; 2 Cor. 4:4; Heb. 1:3). According to Daniel 2, an image in the likeness of man was used to show forth the idea of dominion. And so in Genesis 1 we see that man was given dominion over the creatures of the earth. In the matter of dominion, Adam was a figure of Him that was to come, the One who will have all dominion (Romans 5:14).
This dominion is further spoken of in Psa. 8 where it still refers to man and the earth. But this same passage is quoted in Heb. 2:5-8 and we see that there it refers to Christ. The dominion is universal.
This universal dominion of our Lord is further expanded in many other passages. In 1 Cor. 15:27 we learn that all things are put under His feet with the dispensational addition that He is the Head of the church.
Our Lord is able to subdue all things unto Himself (Ph’p.3:21). This is His power. And in Matt 28:18 He claims that all power was given Him in heaven and in earth. So the subjection is to be universal, for we do not see all things subdued to Him as yet (Heb. 2:8). The student must be very careful here not to include too much. At the time that He takes His power He will subdue all things to Himself which are existing at that time. There is no promise of resurrection in this statement.
In Matthew 11:27 the Lord claimed that all things were delivered unto Him of the Father. The context is judgment, revelation of truth, and an invitation to come unto Him.
Another angle is presented in Eph. 1:10. There all things are to be made a unity of which Christ is to be the Head. This is more than the church. It again is a universal dominion.
But we have been speaking primarily of power, not sovereignty. Does the Lord have sovereignty as well as God? Surely that is so. In Ph’p. 2:10 we discover that to this Jesus of Nazareth is given a name that is above every name (this name can only be Jehovah if it is to fit this description) and that to Him every knee shall bow and every tongue confess in that day (this is what the Jehovah says of Himself in Isa. 45:23). And in the next verse in Ph’p.2 we find Lordship ascribed to Christ. Surely Lordship and sovereignty are not too far apart. And the fulfillment of this passage may be found in Rev 5:13 where every creature in heaven and earth will confess His Lordship. And this sovereignty extends to the right and the power to give life to whomsoever He will (John 5:21,26).
The sovereignty of God cannot be known except due honor is given the Son.
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