Seeking The God Of Love And Peace
"The Church Is to Reflect the Glory of Christ" Ė this title of the front-page article should delight each of us who has the privilege of being a member of the Church, the body of Christ. What a high and holy calling Ė to reflect the glory of our beloved Christ! Truly we are called by God for a noble purpose. Yet as we think seriously about this, our delight is somewhat subdued, and some of us will have feelings of sorrow and shame as we consider how much the Church as a whole is failing to measure up to that calling.
Coming to our minds are dismal failures like local church splits, or individual members withdrawing in anger because of people or happenings in their local church. These folk may fall away from following Christ altogether, taking their families with them. We all contact people who have a story to tell as to why they are disinterested in our witness for Christ because of an unfortunate happening when they were earlier involved in a church where they were slighted or displeased. Sadder still, we read statistics stating that some grievous sins found in the world today are found to the same degree in the Church. Instead of reflecting Christís glory, such behavior invites scorn and reproach on the Church of Jesus Christ.
The great hope of our being able to reflect the glory of Christ is to get more of God and His Son Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit into our midst. When the Church in Corinth was struggling with dissensions and divisions, the Apostle Paul urged them, "Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you" (2 Cor. 13:11). The articles in this issue are helpful in their encouragement to the Church in bringing "the God of love and peace" into the midst of the Church in a greater way. What a difference it would make to a world of perishing sinners in this day of deepening darkness if the Church truly glowed with divine glory! Oh, that our hearts longed for more of God, more of His holiness, more of His love and power, until it became a fervent prayer ever on our hearts for the Church worldwide, as Andrew Murray urges in his article! Oh that there be less of our self lives and more of His glorious Self, less self-assertiveness and more submitting one to another in love, less of the natural and more of Godís supernatural, life-changing power.
The true Church is indeed a supernatural body. Who else but our God in His supernatural power is able to bring forth a body of people whom He has made to be "new creatures" or "new creations" as some versions state it? Who else could so work in our hearts as to cause old things to pass away and all things to become new? (2 Cor. 5:17). The Word clearly tells us that these workings "are of God" (v. 18).
Every member of the body influences the whole, however insignificant we might feel in the worldwide body of Christ. A. B. Simpson reminds us that we are each a building block in the temple God is working to perfect. A missionary describing the deserted building which they plan to fix up for the housing of homeless children, spoke of the sturdy, foot-thick walls in which each stone had been hand-hewn to fit perfectly into its place in the wall. God, the Master Builder, is skilled to "hew" each "stone" to fit well with the others to build an indestructible structure for His glory. The hammering and chiseling and smoothing processes may cause some to crumble, but our Lordís careful, able hand does not crush nor does He discard unless there is stubborn resistance or a deliberate falling out of His caring hands through distrust or disobedience.
The Church, the Bride of Christ
A. B. Simpson beautifully presents the picture of the Church as the Bride of Christ. In His Word, God associates a bride with joy and beauty and love, her garments spotless. This seems to speak of how dear the Church is to God and to His Son, a Bride made spotless by the blood of the Son, who suffered immeasurably for her. The Father desires a bride for the fulfillment of the joy of His Son, and in this the Father shall find joy also. By yielding humbly to Godís workings Ė to what someone has called Godís "fine needlework" on our bridal garments, perfecting our righteousness in His sight and adorning us with the jewels of the fruit of the Holy Spirit Ė we can bring pleasure to the Father and the Son. We can show forth His glory. Do not our hearts greatly aspire to this?
"I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for He hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, He hath covered me with the robe of righteousnessÖas a bride adorneth herself with her jewels" (Isa. 61:10).
"There shall be heard in this placeÖthe voice of joy, and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom, and the voice of the bride, the voice of them that shall say, Praise the Lord of hosts: for the Lord is good; for His mercy endureth for ever; and of them that shall bring the sacrifice of praise into the house of the Lord" (Jer. 33:10).
John the Baptist pictures Christ as the bridegroom, and himself as a friend of the bridegroom: "He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroomís voice. This my joy therefore is fulfilled. He must increase, but I must decrease" (John 3:29-30).
"Humble Thyself and the Lord Will Draw Near Thee"
A humbling of self with confession and putting away of sin makes way for God to come into our midst in a greater way. I recall one particular session of the Herald prayer group that took place some years ago. One of the workers had been outspoken in points wherein he differed from Brother and Sister Moore, who were leaders of the ministry. While he was a valued worker and was faithful in meeting with the group for prayer, a dissenting spirit manifested itself from time to time. At this particular prayer session, he confessed this to the group and asked for forgiveness, which was freely granted. A sweet, sweet spirit came into the group and with it a joy that overflowed our hearts. After the meeting ended, we did not want to part but lingered to share the joy and love that flowed one to another. The manifestation of Godís presence in our midst was precious.
We all face occasions when we do not agree with one another. Might we get grace from God to disagree in a humble way and not a hurtful way. Fellowship need not be broken. When the Apostle Paul had to deal with "envying, and strife, and divisions" in the Corinthian church, he was grieved that they were walking "as men" (1 Cor. 3:3). How much more the Holy Spirit was grieved.
The Apostle Paul reminded the Corinthians that they were not to defile the temple of God (1 Cor. 3:16-17). He reminded them that we are accountable to God for our behavior. The Church is precious to Him. Woe to the man who exerts the carnal nature and is not under the control of the Holy Spirit! The Holy Spirit is a Spirit of unity and peace. Jesus refers to peacemakers as "children of God" (Matt. 5:9). Is not this for which we want to be known? Paul beseeches us to "walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, with all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace" (Eph. 4:4). To do this requires diligent effort on our part as well as the mighty help of God. Love to God constrains us to seek and lay hold of Godís grace to do our part to further Godís purpose of reflecting the glory of Christ through the Church.
United in Service to God
We ever thank God for you friends who are taking a part in the Herald fellowship. We are scattered widely geographically and we differ in nationality, but we are united in heart through our blessed Lord Jesus Christ. We all bow at His feet and all lift our voices in praise to Him. We all owe our eternal salvation to Him for He took our sins upon Himself at Calvary and purchased our redemption. He has reconciled us to our dear Father in Heaven, and He has sent the Holy Spirit to make real His presence in these vessels of clay. In the words of a chorus, "How we love Him, adore Him, do praise Him, live for Him; Oh, how much Jesus means to us!"
For His sake, in obedience to His bidding, we unite our efforts to spread His blessed Gospel. Some of you friends are able to give of your finances to send out Herald of His Coming papers. In far-off places these papers come to hands that are able to spread them farther, to people we could not reach in person. A pastor in Uganda writes:
"Thank you for your faithfulness and sacrifice in sending us regularly twelve copies of Herald of His Coming. As a pastor and district overseer serving the Lord in an area where Christian literature is very scarce, I can testify that the content therein is inspiring, nourishing and timely, and because of this, more pastors have asked me to keep supplying them. So please add eight copies to make twenty copiesÖWe wish to give our financial support, but we are not able, but we promise our prayer commitment support. Thank you."
What a joy to freely give forth what God has freely given us! Opportunities such as the above are plentiful. Together we can meet them. We will be grateful for your continued financial support, and also for your prayers, so vital in bringing Godís help. It is Godís blessing which makes the Word living and effective. Below we list prayer items for your remembrance. Thank you for joining us.
Praise God Ė
*For friends who helped during the slack summer months so that mailings are up-to-date!
*For His precious blessing on the messages in Herald of His Coming so that readers are nourished in their souls and strengthened to continue serving Him, and stirred to watch and prepare for our Lordís coming again.
Please Pray Ė
*That Godís people will increasingly desire and seek to practice the unity that our God of love and peace needs to see in His Church before full blessings fall upon us.
*For clear direction from the Lord and for protection of the Lord in all Herald affairs and for all personnel.
*For God to bring into the Herald fellowship of supporting friends more who are able to send monthly gifts, to replace some very faithful friends who are being called above, and thank Him for those whom He has already led to help fill up the ranks.
*For all Christians, and Herald readers in particular, who are suffering persecution for the sake of Christ, for faith and strength to endure victoriously.
*That God will use Herald of His Coming to arouse new volumes of prayer for revival in the Church and for the evangelization of the lost around the world.