“Unto us a child is born;” in our nature, born of a woman: “Unto us a Son is given,” not merely a man-child, but, emphatically, a Son, the Son of God. This was the most precious gift, the highest proof and testimony of Divine love. The distinction and union of these widely-distant natures, which constitute the person of Christ, the God-man, the Mediator, is, in the judgment and language of the Apostle, the “great mystery of godliness,” the pillar and ground of truth….It is the central truth of revelation, which, like the sun, diffuses a light upon the whole system, no part of which can be rightly understood without it. Thus, the Lord of all humbled Himself, to appear in the form of a servant, for the sake of sinners.
“The government shall be upon His shoulder.” In our nature He suffered and in the same nature He reigns. When He had overcome the sharpness, the sting of death, He took possession of the Kingdom of Glory as His own – and opened it to all who believe in Him. Now we can say, He who governs in Heaven and on earth, and whom all things obey, is “the child who was born, the Son who was given for us”… [Those united to Him by faith] have, in one respect, an appropriate honour, in which the angels cannot share. Their best friend, related to them in the same nature, is seated upon the throne of glory. Since He is “for them, who can be against them?” What may they not expect, when He who has so loved them as to redeem them with His own blood “has all power committed unto Him, both in Heaven and on earth!”<
“But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles;
they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk and not faint.”
The promises of God are all ‘yea’ and ‘amen’ in a precious Jesus; and revealed to the new-born soul by the Spirit of all truth, who takes up His ‘abode’ in that new creature for the very purpose of making manifest Christ formed in that heart, the hope of glory. And the first evidence is a cry unto the Lord for mercy, under the conviction of sin. And, however long or short a time it may be that the soul is in that condition – according to the sovereign pleasure of an all-wise Father – yet, sooner or later, that cry will be answered by the ‘Word which is spirit and life,’ in drawing it to a glorious Mediator, and also opening the sensible sinner’s ears to hear that all is accomplished by that ever-precious Redeemer; and begetting an earnest longing to know if his sins were laid upon Him, who hath blotted out the transgressions of His people with His own most precious blood; having first fulfilled God’s most holy and righteous law; yea, magnified it and made it honourable!
The next work of God the Holy Ghost is to open the eyes to behold glorious things in that ‘law of loving-kindness,’ grace and truth by Jesus Christ. The ‘eyes of the understanding’ being enlightened, this (new) creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God – ‘because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God’ (Rom. 8:19, 21). The heart is also opened to receive Him as the whole of salvation; this being the work of faith with power – faith which worketh by love (or Christ), because the love of God is shed abroad in the heart by the power of the Holy Ghost. Now, then, to come to the gracious declaration: ‘But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength’ (or change, margin). From hearing, by the ear of faith, and seeing, by the eye of faith, they are now enabled to receive (or believe) with their whole (or new) heart, unto righteousness; according to another sweet promise: ‘They shall go from strength to strength.’ And that is not all: ‘everyone shall appear in Zion’; by living faith shall know that they are in the ‘city’ of the living God; and shall come with everlasting songs. One of these is, ‘In the Lord have I righteousness and strength.’ Another, ‘Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the Lord Jehovah is my strength, and my song; He also is become my salvation.’
Solemn words by J. C. Philpot in 1853 – based upon Joel 1
Where in our day, with all this material prosperity, is real religion and vital godliness, which are the evidence of grace? Does it flourish? Is the church, the Lamb’s wife, growing in grace and in knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ? Do ministers preach with power and savour? Is God deeply feared, are His promises firmly believed, are His precepts carefully obeyed and His ordinances highly prized. Is His Word dearly loved, His honour and glory earnestly sought? Are those who profess the truth humble, prayerful, watchful and spiritually minded? Are they walking as living witnesses for God and testifying to an ungodly world that they are children and servants of the Most High? Is the line of separation between the church and the world clear and distinct? And does she shine forth, “fair as the moon, clear as the sun and terrible as an army with banners”(S of S 6:10)?
Who can say it is so? Who can say of the church that she is flourishing and that her prosperity runs parallel with that of the world? We may rather take up Joel’s lament in verses 10 – 12 of the chapter we read, “The field is wasted, the land mourneth; for the corn is wasted; the new wine is dried up, the oil languisheth. Be ye ashamed, O ye husbandmen; howl O ye vine dressers, for the wheat and for the barley; because the harvest of the field is perished. The vine is dried up, and the fig tree languisheth; the pomegranate tree, the palm tree also, and the apple tree even all the trees of the field are withered”.
Reflections on the significance and implications of the
By: Pev. Peter Simpson
(Pastor of Penn Free Methodist Church and CW Committee Member)
As we prepare for the Coronation of King Charles III in May 2023, we cannot over-emphasise the importance of this event with respect to our nation’s Bible-based constitution. The key element in the coronation service is the fact that it takes place in the sight of the Trinitarian God, and it involves specific promises made before Him, rendering the one who makes the promises, and the government which he represents, liable to the judgment of God, if such promises are broken.
The awesome solemnity of oath-taking is made clear in the book of Numbers, “If a man vow a vow unto the Lord, or swear an oath to bind his soul with a bond, he shall not break his word; he shall do according to all that proceedeth out of his mouth” (Num. 30:2). So the Coronation Service must never be viewed as some kind of delightful, quaint, but relatively meaningless ancient ceremony, nor can it be dismissed as mere pageantry. It is a deadly serious transaction with significance for the well-being of the whole nation.
The Coronation Oath Act 1688, which William and Mary swore to commences, ‘Will you solemnly promise and swear to govern the people of this kingdom of England and the dominions thereto belonging according to the statutes in Parliament agreed on and the laws and customs of the same?’ King Charles will have to swear to the same with the likely amendment to reflect the current state of Great Britain and the Commonwealth.
(This article is written in the knowledge that there is a broad range of opinion amongst evangelical Christians on the coronavirus and on how society should react to it. It is therefore offered for consideration in a humble and deferential manner – and in a spirit of brotherly love).
Britain is in desperate need of spiritual direction. Liberal secularism has fashioned the national mindset in such a way that responses to national crises are now totally different in character to, say, those which prevailed during World War Two.
Let us examine the current response to the coronavirus in the light of how the nation once dealt with the affliction of war. Covid-19 has, in fact, exposed the deep spiritual void in our contemporary national life; whereas during the Second World War, although the nation’s spiritual condition was far from thriving, there was still a general acceptance of the concept of God’s providence overruling in the affairs of men.
So, faced with a powerful enemy in the form of Nazi Germany, society understood that military might and strategy were not the only answers, but that there was also a need to seek the aid of the Almighty, He who determined the outcome of wars. Even the politicians publicly acknowledged this. As a result, the war witnessed no less than 12 national days of prayer, all widely supported throughout the land – and this revealed that society still broadly appreciated the words of Psalm 20:7 – “Some trust in chariots, and some in horses; but we will remember the Name of the Lord our God”.
All in a matter of a few weeks, a virulent virus spreads over the globe. The pandemic Coronavirus – Covid 19 – has caused widespread disruption in every nation it has visited, many are calling these ‘unprecedented times’, times when the medical services have been stretched, often beyond capacity, in terms of hospital beds, staff and equipment. The price of oil, man’s liquid gold, has for the first time in its history reached negative territory. To add to these calamities the world’s economies are in danger of a great, possibly the greatest, recession ever.
When the Bible, the Word of the Living God, in the book of Amos speaks of the “lion roaring”; what does this mean? It means that God by The Lord Jesus Christ who is also called in Scripture “The Lion of the Tribe of Judah”, has roared out a warning to the inhabitants of the earth. How? By His acts of Providence in temporal judgements, we may say chastisements. Amos which speaks much of these Divine acts declares: “the lion has roared, who will not fear?”
It should be remembered that Almighty God who has sent out this warning holds in the hollow of His Hand all His creation and all events be they great or small. Lest any should ascribe these things to chance or the ‘natural way of things’, He asks by Amos: “Shall there be evil in a city, and the Lord hath not done it?” The Puritans in the time of the black death had no doubt as to who had sent such a plague!
Many, including the Prime Minister, have likened the current coronavirus pandemic to the crisis faced by the nation in World War 2.
There is certainly one key area where at the present time we would do well to emulate what happened during the wartime years, and that is in respect of a corporate turning to God by means of national days of prayer.
In WW2, as various crises and turning points came into being, some 12 national days of prayer were held. This was reflecting an historic and long established tradition in which between 1535 and 1939 this country had conducted no less than 536 such occasions of public prayer and ‘humiliation’ in respect of national calamities, including outbreaks of plague and cholera and poor harvests.
During the course of the Second World War Britain was very dependent upon the importation of food by sea in order to feed the population. It was more than ever vital that the nation grew as much of its own food as possible. Christians were therefore praying that He would mightily bless the produce of the fields. The harvest in 1942 in fact brought forth one of the most abundant yields on record, so much so that the then Minister of Agriculture, R. S. Hudson, on the BBC News of October 10th, openly attributed the harvest to the intervention of the Trinitarian God in answering the people’s prayers.
ADOLF Hitler committed suicide in his Berlin bunker on April 30, 1945. On May 4, at Luneberg Heath in Lower Saxony, representatives of the armed forces of the Third Reich went to General Montgomery’s headquarters and signed a paper accepting the Allies’ terms of unconditional surrender. The German delegation was led by Generaladmiral von Friedeburg, Commander-in-Chief of the German Navy.
On May 8, Prime Minister Winston Churchill addressed the Speaker of the House of Commons and requested that the House adjourn in order to cross the road to St Margaret’s Church to give thanks to God for the rescuing of the nation. Later that day King George VI went out on to the balcony of Buckingham Palace and again offered thanks to the Lord, as he addressed the crowds in front of him.
That same evening the King further addressed the nation, and concluded his speech stating, ‘In the hour of danger we humbly committed our cause into the hand of God and He has been our strength and shield. Let us thank Him for His mercies and in this hour of victory commit ourselves and our new task to the guidance of that same strong hand.’
Not even viruses occur outside of the providence of God
Regarding the national and indeed worldwide calamity of the coronavirus, this pandemic must be viewed as a call to the nation to humble itself before the Trinitarian God who controls the advent of all diseases. We must as a people cry out to the Lord in prayer, for He is able to deliver us, both on an individual and a national level.
Believers in Christ experience God’s special protection in their physical and material affairs, as well as in matters of the soul. This is clearly taught in Matthew 6:33, and in Psalm 91:1 we are told that believers
“dwell in the secret place of the most High … (and) abide under the shadow of the Almighty”.
The ‘secret place’ and the shadow’ speak of the special protection which the Lord is able to grant to those who honour Him even in times of common calamity. This of course is not to say that Christians will not contract diseases or suffer the negative effects of a widespread affliction along with all other people – we all live in the same fallen world – but the difference is that believers always remain under God’s special providential care. This gives them a security and a peace of mind which those outside of God’s kingdom simply do not possess.