Dear friends and believers in Christ,
Greetings to all of you at the closing of another momentous year, full of significance to the believer watching God's control over the affairs of man, in a world that denies His existence!
I often listen to "Thought for the day" on radio 4 in the morning. I was astonished to hear an Islamic Professor detail the account of the Hajj festival that Muslims celebrate at least once in their lifetime, and stating that it is based on the lives of Abraham, Hagar and Ishmael. The lives of Sarah and Isaac are never given even the slightest mention, even though the name of Abraham as opposed to his birth name of Abram is acknowledged. It dawned on me on further reflection that this is exactly why there is so much rejection and unwillingness for either Christendom or Islam to ever have a compatible appreciation of Abraham, who is not only the father of all the faithful, but rightly so of the Arabic speaking peoples and the Jews, plus those that are His through Abraham being the father of all the faithful!
Paul had this great tussle with the Galatians, for indeed he knew exactly what attempting to keep the law meant, for as a Pharisee he had first hand knowledge of it. In Galatians 4 Paul is now showing that Abraham's enjoyment of an allotment is based solely on God's promise, and therefore is in Grace. These believing Israelites were once enslaved to the elements of the Mosaic system, but that now under the jurisdiction of the law Christ reclaims them, giving them the place of a son, which was the nearest and dearest to God's own heart! (Read Gal 4 v 21-31!)
These Galatians were preoccupied in law keeping in order to more fully enhance their salvation, having initially accepted Paul's message of Grace, they were now accepting a return to a form of slavery, which in effect was a new form of law keeping. In possible dismay, Paul decides to relate an allegory to them concerning Hagar, Sarah, Ishmael and Isaac.
Since the Galatians were already "in Christ", they lacked the knowledge that they had been liberated from any necessity of following "law for righteousness"! Now, since the law is not out of faith (Gal 3v12) it cannot accord with Grace, and therefore has no place in relation to the evangel brought by Paul, which alone bestows the transcendent grace of justification apart from law, on all who are believing. (Romans 3v21)
In Galatians 5v1 is the most heart warming statement for all believers today, including those who have been duped and misled into "salvation by works", for Paul almost cries out the words "FOR FREEDOM CHRIST FREES US"! If only all believers today could fully accept and revel in those astounding words that entail so much. In Christ Jesus, who has become wisdom to us from God, we are fully exempted from law keeping, for Christ is the consummation of law for righteousness. Romans 10v4!
This freedom , allegorically speaking is the freedom of not being the child of the maid (Hagar), but of the free woman Sarah, which is indeed that of Isaac being the child of promise. Galatians 4v28-31. It is the freedom of "At this season I shall come and for Sarah there shall be a son." Ishmael was Abraham's son as well as Isaac, but was born of the flesh not of the promise. This demonstrates that flesh descendancy is not enough to give a title to the blessing of Abraham, for Ishmael physically had this as well as Isaac. (Romans 9v6-8) It is repeated in the case of Esau and Jacob.
God did not take any of us today as a consequence of our acceptance of Christ, for indeed that would not have been a choice but an obligation! Instead dear friends, He chose us in Christ before the disruption of the world, and all of this is consequent to Christ having become Head over all through His obedience whereby God conciliates us to Himself, not because we have faith, but by the cross of Christ bearing the actual death of God's Son for the whole of creation!
Bearing in mind the enormity of the sacrifice of the Son of God, He grants faith to all of us through that one act, that "choice" only fully substantiates. Therefore, the believers faith does not constitute an entitlement to salvation, but an absolute assurance of it, which is the peace of mind that all believers today can share, despite the frailty and weakness of our own flesh in so many ways that we experience and abhor, but can do little about in these bodies of mortality and disease! In spite of all this, which often weighs us down with doubts that the adversary plays on if pursued, you and I are complete in Christ (Colossians 2v10) within which all of our failings and shortcomings are more than completely eliminated in the assurance of choice and life in Christ that can never be forfeited!
The renewal fee for 2014 will remain at £10. It has been reduced to four copies a year, and you can send your subscription to me. For those of you interested, you can go onto the www.concordant.org website, where 90 volumes of U R's can be read or downloaded. On entering the site, under Expositions is a very timely and interesting article you should read on "The Mystery of Babylon," which will yet appear in the transforming Middle East!
The new address of the Concordant Publishing Concern is: P.O. BOX 449, ALMONT, MICHIGAN 48003 USA.
PLEASE INFORM ME OF ANY ADDRESS CHANGE!
CONCORDANT FELLOWSHIP WEEKEND AT BAWTRY HALL. (LAST ONE)
Around 36 of us enjoyed a very warm fellowship weekend this year! C D's of the weekend are available.
The date for next year is booked for 3- 5th October 2014 .I was informed by phone and letter in July of this year that Bawtry Hall had financial difficulties and would be closing in December. Therefore our booking for 2014 was refunded and we have had to find an alternative after 16 years!
We have located Willersley Castle Hotel in Cromford near Matlock Derbyshire DE4 5JH. The price would normally be £145 but we have managed to reduce it to 1£20 for 2014. Because these places book up well ahead, we have had to accept a date later than we normally would have. Most of our group have shown a positive interest in attending, and I shall be writing a fellowship letter out in May of next year.
I have a good stock of most of the current literature, which includes the Concordant version of the Greek scriptures, plus some of the individual copies of the Hebrew scriptures if you do not want them in the five complete format, plus most of the current articles and booklets that we regularly stock. My colleague and brother in Christ Andrew Maclarty has many interesting articles and booklets that complement our mutual teachings, at Grace and Truth,28 Burlington Rd, Sherwood, Nottingham NG5 2GS. I have ordered the Vocabulary Index to the Concordant OT available soon.
A GENERAL REFLECTION.
We are living in times of ever increasing apostasy, that was already taking a firm hold in the days of Paul. You might refresh your appreciation of what Paul battled against by reading Acts 20 v28 onwards where Paul stopped off on his way to Jerusalem at Miletus and called the elders of the Ephesian ecclesia, realising in all probability that his three year residence in Ephesus was now to be the last time there, and that his later revelations would lift believers to unheard of spiritual blessings that his prison epistles would enlighten them to!
He pulls no punches in warning the elders and the entire flock that after he was out of reach, burdensome wolves would be entering the flock not sparing them. He then warns of men from amongst that very body of believers that would arise, speaking perverse things to pull away disciples after themselves. In verse 33 he clearly states that he coveted no one's silver, gold or vesture, for his own hands had subserved his needs, having the trade of a tentmaker.
Skipping forward around five or six years we now find Paul imprisoned in Rome and unable to have fellowship with those in Ephesus that he had shed tears over, knowing in advance through Holy spirit that the wiles of crafty men sought their own ends primarily, dragging to them a following into their illicit creeds and false doctrines!
The prison epistles bring the very zenith of Paul's writings, presenting such spiritual blessings within the riches of God's grace into a complement of the eras which was to head up all in Christ. Turn to 2 Timothy 1 v 15 and it appears that ALL those in Asia had been turned from him, which included Ephesus!
Dear friends, I mention this so that we today are aware of those that give lip service to the evangel of grace, but attempt to take the credit to themselves and are nothing more than plagiarists, seeking personal gain for themselves! Paul warns us in 2 Thessalonians 3 v 10 that "if anyone is not willing to work, neither let him eat"!!
We should be continually aware that in these last days, there are many of these around perverting the pure evangel of grace, the evangel that needs no building , no false ministry, simply faith in the blood and life of Christ our Head!
In His love and service,
GLOS. GL14 2NL