A Comforting Scripture from the Pen of Peter

In his first epistle, Peter writes many precious things to encourage those Christians to whom he wrote. They were exposed to the malice and scorn of the world. God’s people in our day may also suffer for their Christian profession.

One of the glorious truths Peter writes is found in chapter 5 and verse 7 “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.”

Let us look at the latter part of the verse first. “…He careth for you.” Doubtless Peter cared for them, but of course he does not refer to himself, but to God. In verse 6 he had said, “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time:” Thus we know, that the One who cares for believers is none other than the Most High God. One who is of infinite power and majesty. What a privilege to have God to care for us. This is the blessing of the believer in Christ! The mighty hand of God strengthens and protects the child of God. No real evil can befall such. Yes, like Stephen, their life may be taken from them, but, as with Stephen, shall they not be then ushered into glory? Matthew Henry writes, “…all shall be so ordered that no hurt but good, shall come unto you.”

Is it any wonder then, that such as could be assured that God cared for them, could also be encouraged to cast all their care upon Him? What a happy duty. What a great privilege. All kinds of care, to be cast upon God. Small or great. Pressing and immediate or of long continuance. That endured by ourselves, or burdens we are mindful of in our loved ones’ providence, but which weigh on us. As Matthew Henry writes, “The best remedy against immoderate care is to cast our care upon God, and resign every event to the wise and gracious determination.”

How happy they are who, having Christ as their Mediator, can cast their care upon the Most High, ever coming unto God through Christ and finding great relief in the thought, “…he careth for you.”

G B Macdonald

sydneyfpchurch.org.au

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More Than Conquerors

In Romans chapter 8, among other comforting words, the inspired apostle Paul writes, “…we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.” With this superlative expression, “more than conquerors,” Paul indicates the tremendous degree of comfort that he and and his readers in Rome could take, even in times of great persecution, in the hope of their overcoming adversity through Christ.

Christians in this world have suffered and still do suffer. The world hates the true Church of Christ. In verse 35 of Romans 8, Paul poses the question, Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? These were the kinds of difficulties Paul and those to whom he addressed his epistle suffered. Doubtless, Christians suffering such like things in our day can take a measure of comfort in the knowledge that Paul, and those addressed in Rome, trod the same path. Suffering for Christ’s sake is no indication that one is not a true disciple. In our day too, the Lord’s people may still be accounted by some wicked persons as no more than ‘sheep for the slaughter.’ To outward appearance in may seem that the persecutors are triumphant, but in reality, it is not so. Robert Haldane, in commenting on this passage writes, ‘In the world, persecutors and oppressors are judged as the conquerors; but here, those are pronounced to be such, who are oppressed and persecuted.’ (Haldane Exposition of the Epistle to the Romans p.422 Banner of Truth Trust)

In God’s word we may safely rest. It is through Christ that the tried saint triumphs. As Robert Haldane notes, ‘It is not by our own loyalty and resolution, but through Him that loved us, that we are more than conquerors’ (Haldane Exposition of the Epistle to the Romans p.423 Banner of Truth Trust). What rich comfort this passage then affords to the distressed and persecuted Christian, who is troubled for Christ’s sake, perhaps even daily at times. He or she is more than a conqueror, through Him that loved them.

Paul notes in verse 39 that even ‘things to come’ would not be able to separate the true Christian from “…the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” At that point in time, such persecuting influences as we see manifested in our own day were not known (though others were). Thus it is a comfort, that whatever things may be, or may yet come to be, the promise is sure to the true believer that:

“…we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.

G B Macdonald

sydneyfpchurch.org.au

 

 

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Simon Peter’s Commitment to Christ

Towards the end of John chapter 6 we read of a very sad event. Some, who had been disciples of Jesus, went back and walked no more with Him. A sad sight indeed, when we consider that the One whom they left had just said of Himself, “I am the bread of life.” There was nothing wrong with the doctrine of the Saviour. There was nothing wrong with the moral uprightness of His character. There was of course, no fault in Him at all. Yet they left Him. It is quite solemn to think that some among them may well have partaken of the loaves and fishes, when the multitude were fed by Jesus. Perhaps they had said with others at that time, “This is of a truth that prophet that should come into the world” (John 6:14). Yet they went back and walked no more with Jesus.

In commenting upon this passage, Matthew Henry notes, “When we admit into our minds hard thoughts of the word and works of Christ, and conceive insinuations tending to their reproach, we are entering into temptation.”

Instead of going after those who left Him, the Saviour turned to those that remained and asked a serious question, “Will ye also go away?” This brought forth a wonderful statement from the lips of Simon Peter. He replied, “Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.” Peter recognised that what he found in Christ – The Bread of Life, he could find nowhere else. There was no other Christ, than Jesus of Nazareth. There was no other who could save his soul and feed his soul than the Saviour, who said in John 6:37

“All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.”

Is our response that of Simon Peter?

G B Macdonald

sydneyfpchurch.org.au

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New Zealand Youth Conference

In January 2019, the Asia Pacific Presbytery organised a youth conference which was held at the scenic location of Hunua Falls Camp south of Auckland. Around 20 young people from Australia and New Zealand attended. I was privileged to attend as a speaker.

 

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(Hunua Falls Camp, New Zealand – G B Macdonald)

The following is a brief summary of the papers which were presented:

The first paper was from Mr Hank Optland, on Lessons from the Life of Joseph. Mr Optland presented the information by way of a talk and some attractive slides on PowerPoint. The history of Joseph has many lessons, especially for young people. We can learn the great blessing of having been taught from our youth about the One living and true God, as Joseph was. We can also be reminded how vital it is to have the Lord with us in the trials of life, as He was with Joseph. Again and again we read of Joseph, that ‘the LORD was with Joseph’, thus he was favoured and upheld in difficult trials. One of the richest lessons from Joseph’s life is to recognise him as a wonderful type and foreshadowing of the Saviour.

The second paper was presented by the writer. This was a look at The Rev Alexander Duff – the First Church of Scotland Missionary to India. Even as a young boy, Alexander Duff was taught about the spread of the gospel. Converted at 12 years old, he knew from a young age the value of the atoning blood of Christ and the preciousness of the message of the Christian gospel. At university, Duff was influenced by Rev Thomas Chalmers and was instrumental in the St Andrews University mission society. Ultimately, in the providence of God, Duff was to labour in Calcutta, India. His work there met with a degree of success in the conversion of a number of Hindu youths. One solemn and striking providence that affected Duff was a shipwreck off South Africa, where his only possessions that were recoverable, having washed ashore were a carefully wrapped Bible and psalm book. Duff took this as a sign he should go on to India and should make especially sure in educating the young that the Bible would be the chief source of instruction.

The third paper, was a talk on the important place of Creeds and Confessions by Rev C Hembd. Whilst some may decry the need for such statements of faith, the Church has a duty to be forthright in setting forth its belief in the doctrines of the Bible. One great example of an eminently useful confession is the Westminster Confession of Faith. We are to confess the Christian Faith and confessions and creeds may serve a useful purpose in witnessing to the world and also within the visible Church. Confessional statements can serve a useful purpose in holding ministers and elders to doctrinal account.

The fourth paper was presented by Rev D Ross, a deputy of the Synod appointed Overseas Committee. His subject was Resisting Temptation. As fallen creatures, we are subject to temptation and trial in this life. Joseph when tempted fled from the place where the temptation was. Mr Ross spent some time examining the Fall of man and acknowledged the mystery of Adam sinning against God by succumbing to temptation. he also looked at different kinds of temptation that we may be faced with in this life. Self-trust is a great danger. The Saviour’s words to his disciples in the garden remain relevant to us, ‘Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.‘ (Matthew 26:41)

The final paper of the conference was given by Rev C Hembd. It was on The Covenanters: What they Teach us Today. Mr Hembd began by recounting the example of the renowned Scottish martyr Margaret Wilson, who was drowned with her friend Margaret McLachlan in the Solway Firth of South West Scotland in 1685. They had refused to acknowledge James VII as head of the Church and take the Abjuration Oath renouncing the Covenant. Mr Hembd went on to note that¬† personal covenanting is a long established practice. In two nations, Israel and Scotland, there have been national covenants. The Covenanters in Scotland were determined in their faith. One reason appears to be the very fact they had covenanted and were given grace to hold to these promises made to God. In the so-called ‘Killing Times’ many were put to death for their refusal to deny the Kingship and Headship of Christ in His Church. Given that persecuting times may arise again, in Scotland and elsewhere, the example of the Covenanters, which has been much studied, is to be treasured.

The question and answer sessions following the papers provided an opportunity for more analysis of the topics.

Thanks are especially due to Rev J D Smith who acted as Chairman and the housemothers who kindly gave of their time to attend and perform this important role. We pray that those who attended may lay to heart the lessons noted and be raised up in their own lands to be faithful witnesses on the side of the Christ.

G B Macdonald

sydneyfpchurch.org.au

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A Miracle and a Mystery

In John chapter 6 we read of a miracle that is recorded by all four gospel writers – the feeding of the five thousand. Here is a miracle that testified to the fact that Jesus was the Christ – the bread of life.

From five barley loaves and two small fishes, which was clearly that which was to be sufficient for the child whose they were, Jesus fed a multitude of hungry men. Interestingly, it is stressed in John 6 that he gave thanks. Indeed mention is made of this fact twice. We ought to do as Jesus did and give thanks for our daily bread. One fears that grace at mealtimes is not practiced by many in our day, but following the example of Christ, and out of a sense of gratitude to God for the food we receive, we should give thanks.

What a blessing followed – the five thousand were fed. Notice that the Lord gave to the disciples and they to the multitude. As Matthew Henry observes, ‘It was distributed from the hand of Christ by the hands of his disciples, Note, all our comforts come to us originally from the hand of Christ; whoever brings them, it is he that sends them, he distributes to those who distribute to us.’ Following the eating of the meal, we read that twelve baskets full of fragments were retained. There was more left over, than there was to begin with. What a testimony to the divine power of the Saviour!

Those who witnessed the the events were greatly affected. They said, “This is of a truth that prophet that should come into the world.” Yet when Jesus later spoke of His being the bread of life, many went back and walked no more with Him. Perhaps some of these had even eaten of the loaves and fishes. It can be one thing to say of Jesus, “This is of a truth that prophet that should come into the world” and another to believe His words.

Instead of submitting the the wish of the men to make him a king, Jesus walked away. Here is a mystery. A mystery which is of course understood only when we appreciate that Jesus had not come to usher in an earthy rule and kingdom. He had not come to save the Jews from the Romans, but to save sinners from the due reward of their deeds. He is the bread of life. The heavenly manna. But only through His being willing to suffer and die in the room and place of His people. In John 10:11 we read Him declaring “I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.”

But have we believed in Him as our Saviour? In verse 47 of John 6 He says, Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life.” Followed by the words that should mean so much in light of the feeding of the five thousand:

“I am that bread of life.”

G B Macdonald

sydneyfpchurch.org.au

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Creation and Praise

In the psalms we meet with many different subjects that encourage us to praise God. One of these is the fact that He is the Creator. In Psalm 8 we get the impression that David was one who was observant of God’s work of creation. In verse 3 we read David saying, ‘When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained…’ No doubt David often looked up at the night sky over Israel, which on a clear night would be a wonderful sight!

Notice that David in mediating upon the heavens above, called them not ‘the heavens’, but ‘Thy heavens.’ Matthew Henry makes the simple but interesting point, ‘we must always consider the heavens as God’s heavens, not only as all the world is his, even the earth and the fulness thereof, but in a more peculiar manner. The heavens, even the heavens, are the Lord’s (Ps. 115:16)…’ Indeed the sky on a clear night, free from the light pollution of our major cities, is a sight which should teach us to be in awe at the handiwork of our Creator.

Thus, a due consideration of the wonder of God’s creation should teach us that the One who made the heavens above, is a God of infinite power, glory, wisdom and majesty.

David, was affected by what he saw. He reflected on the wonder that such a Creator God should condescend to think upon man, so he writes, ‘What is man that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitedst him?’

In Hebrews chapter 2, the apostle quotes from this psalm when referring to Christ. And what a great wonder it is that the Lord Jesus Christ, God’s dear Son, should look up to the heavens, whilst he was upon this earth! In 1 Timothy 3:16 we read, And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.

So, when next we look at the moon and the stars which God has ordained, let us think, not only of the Creator, but of the Redeemer. Let us wonder that the Lord Jesus Christ, when he looked upon the moon and the stars, did look upon these as those which He, as the Son of God, had ordained. In writing to believers in Corinth, Paul notes, For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.

G B Macdonald

www.sydneyfpchurch.org.au

 

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A Call To Praise God

In a number of the Psalms, the Spirit-inspired Psalmist calls us to praise God. We know that we are to praise the Most High, but two questions arise – Why? and How?

In Psalm 95 we have instruction that may help us to addresses these two questions. In verse 1 and 2 we read ‘O come, let us sing unto the LORD: let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation. Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms.’¬†

Here we have a call to ‘sing unto the LORD’. Thus, we have a warrant here in the Word of God for the singing of praise. Why are we to praise God? Well, are we not told to do so? In singing to His praise, we are showing forth our obedience to His revealed will. Furthermore, He is the LORD. He is a Being of infinite power and majesty. He is eminently worthy of all praise. From everlasting to everlasting He is God. We are also encouraged to praise Him as He is described as, ‘the rock of our savlation‘. He is the Saviour of His people and His redeemed are to praise Him for the glorious Saviour and salvation by which they are saved. We are also to praise Him because, as we read in verse 3, He is a ‘great God and a great King above all gods.’ He is Great above all the gods of the heathen, which are vain and of no power. He is also great above all the mighty men of this world, in whatever generation they may arise. Another reason why we are to praise God is found in verses 5 and 6 – for He is ‘our maker.‘ Ought not the responsible and rational creature to praise his or her Maker? Moreover, as we see from verse 7 of the psalm, God’s people are to praise Him for, He is their covenant God. There we read, ‘For he is our God; and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand.’ In verses 8 -11 One more reason is that He is supremely just. We must not harden our hearts as did Israel in the wilderness. They murmured and complained against Him and His dealings with them, which was evidently, not the spirit of praise. So we see even within this psalm we have a number of reasons why we are to praise God.

The next question is – How are we to praise God? Again, we find interesting material in Psalm 95 to help us answer this question. We are to praise God by singing. Not only in our hearts but with our lips in an audible sound. Such singing should be in a language we understand. We are told to ‘make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation.’ And indeed what a joy there should be in the heart when we view Him in this light! Thus heart and lip are to be engaged in praise to God. In verse 2 we read that we are to ‘come before his presence with thanksgiving…’ Does this not suggest that in praising God, there ought to be a thoughtfulness, devotion and reflection on who He is and what He has done for us? And finally, where can we find suitable material with which to praise Him? We have the answer in this psalm too – ‘make a joyful noise unto him with psalms.’

G B Macdonald

sydneyfpchurch.org.au

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