Thursday, July 25, 2013

Listen online

Latest sermons by Rev. Aaron Lewis available online:

Following the Shepherd, on John 10 v 27, preached on the evening of Sunday 26th May 2013.

The Resurrection, on Luke 20 v 35, preached on the morning of Sunday 2nd June 2013.

What is that to thee, follow thou me, on John 21 v 22, preached on Wednesday 19th June 2013.

The Precious Meeting for Prayer,  on Acts 3 v 1, preached on Wednesday 2nd July 2013.

Friday, July 19, 2013

The unchanging definition of Marriage

“Marriage is honourable in all” Hebrews 13 : 4

by Aaron J. Lewis

The Greek word, which is translated as honourable, τιμιος, speaks of that which is 'most precious', 'had in reputation,' held in honour'. The Bible declares; 'marriage is honourable!' The Lord Jesus Christ, who is God, King, and head of His Church, said in Matthew 19 : 4 – 6, “Have ye not read, that He which made them at the beginning made them male and female, And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.” In the beginning, recorded for us in the first book of the Bible, which the Lord cites here in Matthew, God instituted marriage. Now as we see, plainly, marriage is between one man and one woman; marriage would cease to be marriage if it were other wise. Many in Parliament including our Prime Minister, seem intent on seeking to redefine, the unchanging definition of marriage. It is my prayer that marriage would not be 'redefined'. Defending marriage has nothing to do with hatred to others, but is about love to God and love to our neighbour; that is, to others in this world. In the sight of God our Maker, no matter what governments legislate around this world, marriage will remain, the union of one man and one woman.” It is my prayer, that this nation would turn back to God's Word the Bible, which in times past, was held in great respect. It is also my concern and prayer, that, the glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ would have such an effect upon this nation, that many would turn to the Lord in faith and repentance, and know that precious friend, the Lord Jesus Christ, of which the Rev J C Ryle, the Evangelical curate in the New Forest, made known all those years ago.

This is my friend

Song of Solomon 5 v 16

by Rev J.C. Ryle, Curate of Exbury, situated in the New Forest, Hampshire, from 1841 till 1843

A friend is one of the greatest blessings on earth. Tell me not of money: affection is better than gold; sympathy is better than lands. He is the poor man who has no friends.

This world is full of sorrow because it is full of sin. It is a dark place. It is a lonely place. It is a disappointing place. The brightest sunbeam in it is a friend. Friendship halves our troubles and doubles our joys.

A real friend is scarce and rare. There are many who will eat, and drink, and laugh with us in the sunshine of prosperity. There are few who will stand by us in the days of darkness--few who will love us when we are sick, helpless, and poor--few, above all, who will care for our souls.

Does any reader of this paper want a real friend? I write to recommend one to you this day. I know of One "Who sticketh closer than a brother" (Proverbs 18:24). I know of One who is ready to be your friend for time and for eternity, if you will receive Him. Hear me, while I try to tell you something about Him.

The friend I want you to know is Jesus Christ. Happy is that family in which Christ has the foremost place! Happy is that person whose chief friend is Christ!

Do we want a friend in need? Such a friend is the Lord Jesus Christ.

Man is the neediest creature on God's earth, because he is a sinner. There is no need so great as that of sinners: poverty, hunger, thirst, cold, sickness, are all nothing in comparison. Sinners need pardon, and they are utterly unable to provide it for themselves; they need deliverance from a guilty conscience and the fear of death, and they have no power of their own to obtain it. This is the need the Lord Jesus Christ came into the world to relieve. "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners." 1 Timothy 1:15

The Proclaimer, Summer 2013

Magazine of Crosslanes Chapel

News of the fellowship
Where is the Lord?
Recommended Books
Christ's Treasures Opened by Himself - Ralph Erskine
Preface to The Down-Grade Controversy - C.H. Spurgeon
Metrical Psalm 25  - Notes by John Brown of Haddington
Ebenezer - C.H. Spurgeon


Sermon Concluding Part

Delivered on Sunday Morning, March 15th, 1863, by the Rev. C. H. SPURGEON, At the Metropolitan Tabernacle.

"Then Samuel took a stone, and set it between Mizpeh and Shen, and called the name of it Eben-ezer, saying, Hitherto hath the Lord helped us."1 Samuel 7: 12.

You must read first of all its central word, the word on which all the sense depends, where the fullness of it gathers. "Hitherto the LORD hath helped us." Note, beloved, that they did not stand still and refuse to use their weapons, but while God was thundering they were fighting, and while the lightnings were dashing in the foeman's eyes they were making them feel the potency of their steel. So that while we glorify God we are not to deny or to discard human agency. We must fight because God fighteth for us. We must strike, but the power to strike and the result of striking must all come from him. You see they did not say, "Hitherto our sword hath helped us, hitherto Samuel has encouraged us." No, no-"hitherto the Lord has helped us." Now you must admit that everything truly great must be of the Lord. You cannot suppose a thing so great as the conversion of sinners, the revival of a Church can ever be man's work. You see the Thames when the tide is ebbing what a long reach of foul, putrid mud, but the tide returns. Poor unbeliever, you who thought the river would run out till it was all dry and the ships be left aground, see, the flood comes back again, joyfully filling up the stream once more. But you are quite certain that so large a river as the Thames is not to be flooded except by ocean's tides. So you cannot see great results and ascribe them to man. Where there is little worlk done men often take the credit themselves, but where there is great work done, they dare not. If Simon Peter had been angling over the side of his ship and had caught a fine fish, he might have said, "Well done fisherman!" But when the boat was full of fish, so that it began to sink, he could not think of himself then. No, down he goes with "Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord." The greatness of our work compels us to confess that it must be of God, it must be of the Lord alone. And, dear friends, it must be so if we consider the little with which we began. Jacob said as he came over Jordan, "With my staff I crossed this Jordan, but now am I become two bands." Surely his becoming two bands must be of God, for he had nothing but his staff. And do you not remember some few of you here present one morning when we crossed this Jordan with a staff? Were we a hundred when first I addressed you? What hosts of empty pews, what a miserable handful of hearers. With the staff we crossed that Jordan. But God has multiphed the people and multiphed the joy, till we have become not only two bands but many bands; and many this day are gathering to hear the gospel preached by the sons of this church, begotten of us, and sent forth by us to minister the word of life in many towns and villages throughout these three kingdoms. Glory be unto God, this cannot be man's work. What effort made by the unaided strength of man will equal this which has been accomplished by God. Let the name of the Lord, therefore, be inscribed upon the pillar of the memorial. I am always very jealous about this matter. If we do not as a Church and a congregation, if we do not as individuals, always give God the glory, it is utterly impossible that God should work by us. Many wonders I have seen, but I never saw yet a man who arrogated the honor of his work to himself, whom God did not leave sooner or later. Nebuchadnezzar said, "Behold this great Babylon that I have builded." Behold that poor lunatic whose hair has grown like eagle's feathers, and his nails like bird's claws - that is Nebuchadnezzar. And that must be you, and that must be me, each in our own way, unless we are content always to give all the glory unto God. Surely, brethren, we shall be a stench in the nostrils of the Most High, an offense, even like carrion, before the Lord of Hosts, if we arrogate to ourselves any honor. What doth God send his saints for? That they may be demigods? Did God make men strong that they may exalt themselves into his throne? What, doth the King of kings crown you with mercies that you may pretend to lord it over him? What, doth he dignify you that you may usurp the prerogatives of his throne? No: you must come with all the favors and honors that God has put upon you, and creep to the foot of his throne and say, What am I, and what is my father's house that thou hast remembered me. "Hitherto the Lord hath helped us."

I said this text might be read three ways. We have read it once by laying stress upon the center word. Now it ought to be read looking backward. The word "hitherto" seems like a hand pointing in that direction. Look back, look back. Twenty years -thirty-forty-fifty-sixty-seventy-eighty-"hitherto ! " say that each of you. Through poverty-through wealth- through sickness-through health-at home-abroad-on the land-on the sea-in honor-in dishonor-in perplexity-in joy-in trial-in triumph-in prayer-in temptation- hitherto. Put the whole together. I like sometimes to look down a long avenue of trees. It is very delightful to gaze from end to end of the long vista, a sort of leafy temple with its branching pillars and its arches of leaves. Cannot you look down the long aisles of your years, look at the green boughs of mercy overhead, and the strong pillars of lovingkindness and faithfulness which bear your joys? Are there no birds in yonder branches singing? Surely, there must be many. And the bright sunshine and the blue sky are yonder; and if you turn round in the far distance, you may see heaven's brightness and a throne of gold. "Hitherto ! hitherto ! "

Then the text may be read a third way,-looking forward. For when a man gets up to a certain mark and writes "hitherto," he looks back upon much that is past, but "hitherto" is not the end, there is yet a distance to be traversed. More trials, more joys: more temptations, more triumphs: more prayers, more answers: more toils, more strength: more fights, more victories: more slanders, more comforts: more hons and bears to be fought, more tearings of the hon for God's Davids, more deep waters, more high mountains: more troops of devils, more hosts of angels yet. And then come sickness, old age, disease, death. Is it over now? No, no, no! We will raise one stone more when we get into the river, we will shout Ebenezer there: "hitherto the Lord hath helped us," for there is more to come. An awakening in his likeness, climbing of starry spheres, harps, songs, palms, white raiment, the face of Jesus, the society of saints, the glory of God, the fullness of eternity, the infinity of bliss. Yes, as sure as God has helped so far as to-day, he will help us to the close. "I will never leave thee, I will never forsake thee: I have been with thee, and I will be with thee to the end." Courage, brethren, then; and as we pile the stones, saying, "Hitherto the Lord hath helped us," let us just gird up the loins of our mind, and be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be revealed in us, for as it has been, so it shall be world without end.

I want some oil to pour on this pillar-I want some oil. Jacob poured oil upon it and called upon the name of the Lord. Where shall I get my oil. Grateful hearts, have ye any oil? Prayerful spirits, have ye any? Companions of Jesus, have ye any? Ye that commune with him day and night, have ye any? Pour it out, then. Break your alabaster boxes, oh ye Mary's. Pour out your prayers this morning with mine. Offer your thanksgivings with my grateful expressions of thanks. Come each of you, pour this oil upon the top of this Ebenezer to-day, I want some oil, I wonder whether I shall get it from yonder heart. Oh, says one, my heart is as a flinty rock. I read in scripture that the Lord brought oil out of the flinty rock. Oh, if there should be a soul led to believe in Christ this morning, if some heart would give itself up to Christ to-day! Why not so? why not? The Holy Ghost can melt flint and move mountains. Young man, how long are we to preach to you, how long to invite you, how long to pain you, how long to entreat you, to implore you? Shall this be the day that you will yield? Dost thou say, "I am nothing?" Then Christ is everything. Take him, trust him. I know not a better way of celebrating this day of Ebenezer and thanksgiving, than by some hearts this day accepting the marriage ring of Christ's love, and being affianced unto the Son of God for ever and ever. God grant it may be so. It shall be so if you pray for it, O true hearts. And unto God be glory for ever. Amen.

Metrical Psalm 25

Notes by Rev John Brown Haddington

A Psalm of David.

In singing this psalm, let me observe, (1.) What serious work prayer is; what lifting up of soul, what directing of eyes to God, and fixing them on him, must be in it! ver. 1-15. (2.) What mercies ought to be prayed for Pardon of sin, ver. 6, 7-18; direction in duty, ver. 4-5; familiar intimacy with God, ver. 10; deliverance from trouble, ver. 17-18; preservation from adversaries, ver. 20-21; and, in fine, safety and deliverance to the church, ver. 22. (3.)What pleas are proper to be used in prayer; as, the trust we have reposed in God, ver. 2-3, 5-21; our own divinely affected sincerity in the Lord's way, ver. 21; our distress, and the malice of our enemies, ver. 2, 16-19; but chiefly, the mercy that is in God, and the glory which redounds to his name from his bestowing of new-covenant favours, ver. 6-11. (4.) Strong encouragements to prayer taken from the perfections of God's nature; from his promises of instruction and direction; from the fulness and grace of his covenant; and from his delight in allowing men familiar intimacy and fellowship with himself, ver. 8-14. Let these things, my soul, be the object of thy strictest care and attention, in all thy addresses to God.

1 To thee I lift my soul:
2 O Lord, I trust in thee
My God, let me not be asham'd,
nor foes triumph o'er me.

3 Let none that wait on thee
be put to shame at all;
But those that without cause transgress,
let shame upon them fall.

4 Shew me thy ways, O Lord;
thy paths, O teach thou me:
5 And do thou lead me in thy truth,
therein my teacher be:

For thou art God that dost
to me salvation send,
And I upon thee all the day
expecting do attend.

6 Thy tender mercies, Lord,
I pray thee to remember,
And lovingkindnesses;
for they have been of old for ever.

7 My sins and faults of youth
do thou, O Lord, forget:
After thy mercy think on me,
and for thy goodness great.

8 God good and upright is:
the way he'll sinners show.
9 The meek in judgment he will guide,
and make his path to know.

10 The whole paths of the Lord
are truth and mercy sure,
To those that do his cov'nant keep
and testimonies pure.

The Down-Grade Controversy, Preface

by CH Spurgeon

WHEN the reader receives this number of the magazine, the Editor hopes to be travelling along the Corniche Road, which in some places winds its wondrous way far above the sea. One gazes down from above, and draws his breath. During the past year we have often had to look down from the royal road of the truth upon those craggy paths which others have chosen, which we fear will lead them to destruction. We have had enough of The Down-Grade for ourselves when we have looked down upon it. What havoc false doctrine is making no tongue can tell. Assuredly the New Theology can do no good towards God or man; it, has no adaptation for it. If it were preached for a thousand years by all the most earnest men of theschool, it would never renew a soul, nor overcome pride in a single human heart. We look down into the abyss of error, and it almost makes our head swim to think of the perilous descent: but the road of the gospel, to which we hope to keep by divine grace, is a safe and happy way. Oh, that all would travel it! Oh, that our earnest pleadings, which have brought upon our devoted head so much of obloquy, would recall the churches to the good old way!
Many of the papers in this volume have been reprinted, because friends have thought them specially useful, and many more have been translated to other magazines, which annexation we accept as a compliment, even where the name of The Sword and the Trowel has been inadvertently omitted. At the same time, borrowed articles should be acknowledged as distinctly as possible, and the paper in which they first appear should have the credit of them. In America, in all sorts of newspapers and magazines, we find pieces of our work, and we think, therefore, that our subscribers are not badly catered for. Our band of friends and helpers has suffered serious diminution by death during the last few months. The gaps in our ranks are many and wide. We earnestly pray that others may be moved to take the places of those who have gone home. Of course, our unflinching faithfulness may have driven away a few friends, though we are sure it has brought us more. Hitherto nothing has flagged. The Orphanage, and its half a thousand children, has had its table always supplied: the College has gone on educating men to preach the faith once delivered to the saints: the Evangelists have traveled from place to place, and God has made them as clouds that water the earth: the Colporteurs have kept steadily to their useful toil: and Mrs. Spurgeon's Book Fund has stocked poor ministers' libraries in thousands of cases. To a large extent these works are kept going by the generosity of friends who read the weekly sermons and The Sword and the Trowel. Thanks, hearty and many, to them all for their loving aid. They would do us great service if they could increase the number of our subscribers, by inducing friends to take in the magazine. Ask them to begin in January. The sword and trowel have both been used this year with all our might. We have built up the wall of the city, and we have tried to smite the King's enemies. How could we help it? No loyal soldier could endure to see his Lord's cause so grievously wronged by traitors. Something will come of the struggle over The Down-Grade. The Lord has designs in connection therewith which his adversaries little dream of. Meanwhile, it behoves all who love the Lord Jesus and his gospel to keep close together, and make common cause against deadly error. There are thousands who are of one mind in the Lord: let them break through all the separating lines of sect, and show their unity in Christ, both by prayer and action. Especially do we beg for the fervent prayers of all the faithful in Christ Jesus. If our readers have hitherto counted us worthy, we again beg for their loving, practical sympathy, as we have enjoyed it these many years. The relationship between us and many of our readers is such as will outlast life itself. Very tenderly have our friends loved us. In the cup of human sympathy our God has brought us draughts of heavenly consolation. The Lord recompense our faithful helpers, and grant them mercy in that day! So prays the reader's willing servant,

Christ's Treasures Opened by Himself

Extract from sermon "Christ's Treasures Opened by Himself, Declaring He hat All Things that God the Father hath" - Ralph Erskine's Works, Volume 6, page 180 (Free Presbyterian Publications).

Now, O believer, improve the doctrine delivered out of Christ's mouth, saying, "All things that the Father hath are mine:" and therein see the new covenant and the superiority of the second Adam to the first: we have all things in the second Adam to greater advantage than ever we could have had, if the stock had remained in the hands of the first Adam. Why, we have all things in Christ.

1. More gloriously, he being the glorious God, the brightness of the Father's glory: hence the new covenant ministration is said to exceed in glory, 2 Cor. 3:9, and the gospel is called the glorious gospel: because therein the glory of God shines more brightly than ever it did under the law, or could have done in the first covenant.

2. In Christ we have all things more abundantly, John 10:10. "He came to give life, and to give it more abundantly:" he came to give grace, and to give it more abundantly: he came to give glory, and to give it more abundantly: he came to give obedience to the law more abundantly, even to magnify the law: to give satisfaction to justice more abundantly: to give satisfaction to all the attributes of God more abundantly than could have been done any other way.

3. In Christ we have all things more safely, all the stock being so well secured in his hand: the bonds of provision being all sealed with his blood: for, all the promises of God are so many bonds and obligations faith hath to rely upon: they are all Yea and Amen in Christ Jesus to the glory of God, 2 Cor. 1:20.

4. In Christ we have all things more comfortably. This is the comfort as well as the honour of all the saints, that now their store is lodged in the hand of the Father's Beloved, and their Beloved: in whom God is well pleased, and they are well pleased: and that their supply runs in such a sweet channel: for, thus "We enjoy God, through Jesus Christ, by whom we have received the atonement," Rom. 5:11.

5. In Christ we have all things more wonderfully, to the surprise and admiration of men and angels. Christ's name is wonderful to all the rational world, that are enlightened in the knowledge of him; "Great is the mystery of godliness." Angels desire to look into it: and new scenes of wonder will open out of this contrivance of infinite wisdom to all eternity.

6. In Christ we have all things more durably: I have said, Mercy shall be built up for ever," Psalm 89:2. The covenant of grace and mercy is an everlasting covenant: it stands fast in Christ. The covenant of works was properly betwixt God and man, like a bridge over a river, the one end built with firm stone, the other of fading clay, and so the weak end fell down: and there is no passing to heaven by any such bridge: by any such covenant: Such is the Arminian's covenant, that makes God's will one end of it, and man's free will another: but no wonder that the weak end fall down, and there be no passage that way. But the covenant of grace is better ordered, and better built: it is made betwixt God and Christ, two divine and everlasting persons: therefore, "Mercy shall be built up for ever." If it be asked, What is our part of the covenant? Indeed we make no part of the bridge at all: we are only called by faith to pass along by this bridge: this faith is properly no part of the bridge itself, but a taking the bridge, when, in a day of power, we are persuaded to take it: that is, to embrace Christ and receive him, and then to walk in him: and so to walk along the bridge till we come to heaven, and thus to live a life of faith and gospel obedience.

7. In Christ we have all things more freely. As the new covenant bridge is firm, so it is free to all passengers. At some bridges there is money to pay before you be allowed to pass: but there is none here; whosoever will, may come and pass. But the old covenant bridge is still the old price: it requires more money of personal obedience, to the law than you are able to give it: whereas the new covenant bridge is such a free passage that it requires less money than you are willing to give, Isaiah, 55:1,2,3, till God, by a work of humiliation let you see your empty purse, and make you willing to be saved by free grace, and content to be obliged to Christ for all things and that because all things that the Father hath are his. You that have a full purse, and are rich and increased in goods, and stand in need of nothing, valuing yourselves upon your good hearts, your good duties, your good endeavours and meanings, your privileges, performances, and attainments, you mistake if you expect passage for your money by the old bridge of the covenant of works: know, that you and your money will perish: that bridge will fail you: for "By the deeds of the law no flesh can be justified, All your righteousness are as filthy rags:" you will fall into the gulf of wrath. But, for you that are poor, miserable, wretched, blind, and naked, having no money, no grace, no good qualifications that you can see, which indeed is the case with all, though all have not their eyes open to see it: here is a good passage to you, free passage: and the poorer you come, the welcomer. As Christ hath laid himself like a bridge over the gulf of God's wrath and terrible justice, over which we may pass to the enjoyment of God: so, he hath all things provided for the poorest passenger. Christ is the way to the Father: and there is no fear of lack of provision for them that take this way: for, "All things that the Father hath are his."

8. In Christ we have all things more honourably: and this is the honour of all the saints, that Christ is their all: and that of God they are in Christ Jesus, who of God also is made unto them, wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption, and all things. Here is divine plenty and variety; for, in him, as a Prophet, they have all things necessary for their instruction and illumination: in him, is a Priest, they have all things necessary for their justification: in him as a King, all things needful for their sanctification: in him, as a Physician, they have all things needful for their healing: in him, as a Surety, they have all things necessary for paying their debt in him, as a Treasurer, all things necessary for supplying their needs: in him, is a Counsellor, all things necessary for their direction in him, is a Commander, all things necessary for their protection in him, as in everlasting Father, all things necessary for their everlasting provision. Here, indeed, is royal provision, and honourable accommodations. Nothing is wanting where all things are: and surely, if you be a gospel believer, who are a hearer of these glad tidings, you will not be standing on dishonourable terms with God. It were dishonourable to a great man to offer money for a free feast, to which he invites his guests: how dishonourable to the great God is it to stand upon terms and conditions with him? He stands upon no terms with us who have nothing, when he invites us to come and share of all things freely.

Book Recommendations

A number of books, which are warmly recommended by myself written by the Rev Malcolm Watts and the Rev Maurice Roberts. They are Christ centred, and God glorifying material, and so therefore they are well worth purchasing, if you have not done so already. Not only is there much pastoral and experimental writing, but also that to direct us in vital important areas, which have been neglected, or, are currently under attack in the Church of God.

Books by Maurice Roberts

Great God of Wonders
Publisher: Banner of Truth (2003)
ISBN-10: 0851518370
ISBN-13: 978-0851518374

The Christian's High Calling
Publisher: Banner of Truth (2000)
ISBN-10: 0851517927
ISBN-13: 978-0851517926

Can we know God?
Publisher: Banner of Truth (2006)
ISBN-10: 0851510334
ISBN-13: 978-0851519333

The Thought of God
Publisher: Banner of Truth (1994)
ISBN-10: 0851516580
ISBN-13: 978-851516585

Union and Communion with Christ
Publisher: Reformation Heritage Books (2008)
ISBN-10: 1601780427
ISBN-13: 978-1601780423

The Mysteries of God
Publisher: Reformation Heritage Books (2012)
ISBN-10: 1601781741
ISBN-13: 978-1601781741

Books by Malcolm Watts

What is a Reformed Church?
Publisher: Reformation Heritage Books (2011)
ISBN-10: 1601781571
ISBN-13: 978-1601781574

God's Hymnbook for the Christian Church
Publisher: James Begg Society (2003)
ISBN-10: 0953924181
ISBN-13: 978-0953924189

Where is the Lord?

The following, is the first part of a sermon preached on the 8th May 2013, at Crosslanes Chapel. The Text was John 21 verse 4 & 7.

Tonight, we have a few verses, found in the Gospel according to John, John 21 : 4, 7: "But when the morning was now come, Jesus stood on the shore: but the disciples knew not that it was Jesus." "Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved saith unto Peter, It is the Lord. Now when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he girt his fisher's coat unto him, (for he was naked,) and did cast himself into the sea."

These were now better days for Peter. After His resurrection, our Lord made Himself known to His disciples, having a special concern for Peter. Those two who had come from Emmaus brought news to brethren who were at gathered in Jerusalem. "The Lord is risen indeed, and hath appeared to Simon," Luke 24 : 34.

There was still sorrow in Peter's heart, as the day had began: he had failed his Lord, he had sinned grievously against Him, but now, what joy in meeting with Him, knowing that all was well:

Peter would be not a little comforted in that, Christ had revealed afresh His love to him, that he was forgiven, and that now he enjoyed sweet communion with Him. However, soon, as we see here in this chapter, when our Lord was near, he and the other disciples did not recognize Christ: they did not sense His presence. Sometimes we do not recognize Him, and we are not aware of His presence, yet in time, have we not like these disciples: suddenly become aware of Him!

Consider here the scene. We have, in this chapter the appearance of Christ to His disciples, at the Sea of Tiberius after His resurrection. In verse 14 we read, "This is now the third time that Jesus shewed Himself to His disciples, after that He was risen from the dead.". In verses 1 ‚Äî 4 we read, "After these things Jesus shewed Himself again to the disciples at the sea of Tiberias: and on this wise shewed He Himself. There were together Simon Peter, and Thomas called Didymus, and Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, and the sons of Zebedee, and two other of his disciples. Simon Peter saith unto them, I go a fishing. They say unto him, we also go with thee. They went forth, and entered into a ship immediately: and that night they caught nothing. But when the morning was now come, Jesus stood on the shore: but the disciples knew not that it was Jesus." They had a long fruitless night, and were tired as they came in. On the shore, the Lord was waiting for them, but they did not discern that it was Him.

Tonight, consider two things,

lstly Christ not recognised
These close disciples knew our Lord so well, yet they did not recognize Him on this occasion. Dear brethren, Christ can be near, yet it is possible for believers, even some very godly believers not to recognize Him. Matthew Henry wrote, commenting on these words, "Christ is often nearer to us than we think."

Particularly, consider those times when we gather for worship. In Matthew 18:20 we read: "For where two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of them." Over in, Hebrews 2 : 12, the apostle writes, concerning Christ, in reference to Psalm 22: 22, "Saying, I will declare Thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee." In the midst! In heaven we will know His immediate presence: we will see Him, and we will never be not conscious of His presence, how wonderful, how precious that will be! There we shall know His immediate presence, here upon earth we know His presence, which is seen as special, when we gather together, in that public way. Our Lord is in the midst: that is an amazing thing, Christ is here! He was watching as we came in, He was singing with us, as we sang the Psalms: "in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee." John Owen wrote, "...the mediator, sets forth the praise of God in the midst of the congregation,' Christ is here, and He sings from His own hymn book.

The Lord graciously draws near, and yet there may be times when we do not recognise His presence. In the presence of Christ, but not aware of it. You recall that occasion recorded in Genesis 28, when Jacob laid down to sleep and had a dream of, that which is commonly called "Jacob's ladder," in verses 16 & 17 we read, "And Jacob awaked out of his sleep, and he said, Surely the LORD is in this place: and I knew it not. And he was afraid, and said, How dreadful is this place! this is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven." To begin with, however, when he had stopped on his journey, and laid down, he was not aware. This can be the situation we find ourselves in.

Dear brethren, there can be a number of reasons for this.

lstly Forgetfulness. This can be a frequent problem. We come in, we sit down, and our minds can wander, and we forget.

2ndly Tiredness. The disciples were tired as they came in, and when Christ was near. The previous week was long, in which there was much hard toil. Maybe there was upset, or difficulties, and now it has all caught up on us. As a result we may begin to slumber in the services, and we are unaware of Him.

3rdly Distraction. We must be careful, for it easy to be distracted. The mind can wander, and we can be fixed on something else, which, may be something that is lawful in and of itself. On the Sabbath mornings, we may have thoughts of what happened in the past week, or, simply the dinner that awaits: hunger can strike! On Sabbath evenings, the things of the next day can come upon us. Distractions can easily arise, and as a result, we can struggle to concentrate. Here in countryside animals have often been a cause of distraction: mice coming through holes in the skirting boards in the hall, (thankfully now they have all been sealed!), Hornets diving around the congregation. We have, at times, been not a little distracted, such distraction can cause us to forget. Consider further that pain and sickness can cause difficulties in the worship of God.

4thly Actual sin. This is most serious, one can be engaged in some sin, it has gripped them, even in the worship of God, and has resulted in them being unaware of the Lord's presence. Beware of 'thought sins'. It may be bitterness welling up in the heart against someone. What a solemn and fearful thing to be the presence of Christ, and not to be aware of it, because of some sin.

As we have see, there are times when Christ is near, but we do not recognize Him.

We have confined our thoughts particularly to public worship, but now, let us consider further, that in our lives we can forget that the Lord is with us. Not always are we conscious of this. Sometimes, but not always, in a great trial we do not realise how near Christ is, that; "His left hand is under my head, and his right hand doth embrace me," Song of Solomon 2 : 6. We may not be aware of Him, and that He is about to help and deliver. As a child at night, I was not always aware of my parents being in the house even though they were. We as God's children may, at times even though He may be so near, be unaware of this wonderful truth.

Now, before we move on, let us consider that Christ can be near, and then withdraw. Turn we with to Song of Solomon 5 : 2 - 6 "I sleep, but my heart waketh: it is the voice of my beloved that knocketh, saying, Open to me, my sister, my love, my dove, my undefiled: for my head is filled with dew, and my locks with the drops of the night. I have put off my coat: how shall I put it on? I have washed my feet: how shall I defile them? My beloved put in his hand by the hole of the door, and my bowels were moved for him. I rose up to open to my beloved: and my hands dropped with myrrh, and my fingers with sweet smelling myrrh, upon the handles of the lock. I opened to my beloved: but my beloved had withdrawn himself, and was gone: my soul failed when he spake: I sought him, but I could not find him: I called him, but he gave me no answer. The watchmen that went about the city found me, they smote me, they wounded me: the keepers of the walls took away my veil from me." Note those words "My beloved had withdrawn himself." Some Christians think this will never happen, take note, it has, and may happen! We are not talking about a complete withdrawal, that is impossible, blessings are lodged in His hand, He will never leave us, nor forsake us, but Christ may withdraw to some distance. Now why may this happen? Come with me to verse 3.

"I have put off my coat: how shall I put it on? I have washed my feet: how shall I defile them?" Spiritual declension, coldness has taken its grip. I have no time for Him. A withdrawal then takes place.

Dear brethren, through this He will chastise us, and further, in time, because of His pity, cause us to long for Him, having now missed Him . Dr John Gill wrote: " a sad disappointment this! She expected to have seen him, and been received in his arms and embraced in his bosom: but instead of that, He was gone out of sight and hearing: this withdrawing was to chastise her for her former carriage, and to show her more the evil of her sin." Rev John Brown of Haddington writes, "to humble my soul , to endear His presence, to try and execise my grace, to inflame my love, He had justly and quickly and fearfully withdrawn."

So quickly He can withdraw to a distance, and we may not to realise it. How solemn it is for a believer not to realise that the Lord has withdrawn and is at a distance. However, in time, suddenly the believer begins to question, Where is He? Turn with me to Song of Solomon 3 : 1 "By night on my bed I sought him whom my soul loveth: I sought him, but I found him not." O where, O where is Emmanuel! Take comfort brethren in time, in a io

gracious and merciful way, He will draw near. At times there can be a withdrawal because of some sin. However particularly consider, that other possibility, as we see in this chapter, we may not sense the Lord's presence, and yet He is so near

To be continued

News of the fellowship

Since our last "Proclaimer" we have been able to distribute Trinitarian Bible Society Calendars around the village. We have begun our open-air witness, and door to door visiting in Ringwood. Bible tables have been set up in Fordingbridge and Ringwood, and Gospel tracts have been distributed in the St. Ives area. Also, schools have requested Bibles, as has Brockenhurst College.

Our Annual New Year Luncheon was held on January 10th and was very well attended. Our Pastor gave the epilogue from the Word of God.

On January 12th we were delighted to receive Mrs. Naomi Adamson into our membership at Crosslanes. We pray God's blessing upon her and her husband, Mark.

The young people's work continues. How this young generation needs the Saviour in this dark world today!

The Church's 168th Anniversary took place May 11th & 12th Rev. Malcolm Watts of Emmanuel Church, Salisbury, was our guest preacher. We were greatly blessed and enriched by his ministry. On the Saturday the Word of God was expounded from Isaiah 61: 1-3, and a goodly number attended.

On the Lord's Day, Pastor Watts preached from Leviticus 8:33-35, the charge that was given to the Lord's people, to glorify God, to provide for our own souls, to spread the Gospel, to assist the Church, to preserve spiritual health, to seek things that are needful, and to grow in the knowledge of God.

In the evening, Psalm 142:4 was expounded. "No man careth for my soul". The soul is capable of knowing God. The soul is made in His image. God assists our souls, therefore we must keep our souls diligently. The Lord Jesus cares for our souls.

We are so thankful to every one who is working hard in the fellowship. We are very grateful for the improvements made in the hall and kitchen, by Mr Robert James and Mr Nathan Davis.

Last year over the Spring Bank Holiday at the end of May, it was our privilege and joy to see the church packed with visitors from different parts of the country and meet old friends and new. This was also the case this year. Amongst the visiters a large number came from Spring Road Evangelical Church, on a camp, which included many young men and women and children.