It was a real privilege to have the help of Rev Caleb Hembd at our recent communion season. I am grateful to him for taking the time to come all the way from Gisborne, New Zealand to be with us.
On the Thursday morning we were directed, through the preaching of the word, to consider the case of Jonah. In particular, we noted the conflict between sense and faith in his soul, as he wondered at his own sinful rebellion and God’s preserving mercies. The language of sense was, “I am cast out of thy sight,” whilst the language of faith was, “yet I will look again toward thy holy temple.” It is interesting to observe that, though he believed in the God of creation and providence, yet it was to God (as revealing Himself as a just God and a Saviour) that Jonah looked, when convinced of his sinful unworthiness. He looked by faith to God’s holy temple – the place of sacrifice and offering, which of course, typified the Christ to come.
In the evening, we were directed to 2 Samuel 14:14. Here the wise woman directed her appeal to David by way of a parable. The context to this parable was noted, together with its teaching and application. The minister observed the solemn thought, that every sin that has ever been committed must be punished, for God is just. Sin must be punished – either in the sinner – or the sacrifice. We cannot hope to atone for our own sin, but ‘Christ died for the ungodly’, and it is to that Saviour we must look for pardon and acceptance with God, through Him.
On Friday morning, the duty of self-examination was before us. The portion preached upon was found in John 6:66-68. There we find many disciples going back from Jesus. This was very strange as the Saviour was speaking to such about very precious and spiritual things. Sadly of course, this may be so in our day when some may well, and do, take offense at the gospel.The three points which the minister wanted us to note were i. Those who went back ii. The character of one who held fast to Christ and iii. The confession of this one. What a remarkable confession that was, “Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.” One very clear mark of grace in God’s people is the grace of perseverance. Whilst Judas was one who for a time continued with Christ, even when others at this time went back, ultimately, he too fell away. What need we have of the prayer, “Lord keep me, for I trust in Thee.”
On Friday evening at the fellowship meeting, the brethren were directed to consider marks of grace from the same portion of divine truth preached upon in the morning. Helpful marks of grace were brought forth by the men who spoke. Like Peter, the true believer is brought back again and again to this very point, “Lord, to whom shall I go? thou hast the words of eternal life…”
On Saturday, in view of preparation for the Communion Sabbath, the minister wished us to be reminded of the value of the means of grace. To this end, the case of Lydia in Acts 16 was meditated upon. Her attendance at the means of grace was considered, together with the benefit she received and the lessons for ourselves on the Saturday of the Communion. Five lessons were suggested – That we use the means of grace – seriously, diligently, prayerfully, charitably (desiring the good of others in communion) and hopefully.
In the action sermon on Sabbath morning, we looked at Psalm 69:9 ‘For the zeal of thine house hath eaten me up; and the reproaches of them that reproached thee are fallen upon me.’ The minister preached on: i. The Father’s house ii. The Zeal of Christ for the Father’s house and iii. The reproach that He endured for it. The Saviour was reproached in His offices of a prophet, of a priest and of a king. All of this was in the course of His doing the will of the Father and saving a number that no man can number of the lost race of Adam. Following the Fencing of the Table, once again, the Lord’s Table was served in our congregation and witness given to the Saviour, who loved His people even unto death.
On Sabbath evening we were asked the question “Whose disciples are we?” This was in connection with John 9:27-28. In that passage, the man born blind whose sight was given him by Jesus asked the Pharisees, “will you also be his disciples.” the application was made to the gospel hearer. How often we have heard the good news of the gospel, but must not some of us not face up to that sinful unwillingness to become the disciples of Jesus? No matter how many times the once blind man told the Pharisees how he was blessed by the Lord Jesus, yet he feared, they would remain unwilling to become His disciples.
On Monday evening, we concluded a most pleasant communion season with a service of thanksgiving. The truth we considered was found in Luke 17:15-16. Only one leper returned to give God thanks and he was a Samaritan. The question was asked, “what is true thankfulness in the eyes of God?” It was suggested that this was when our thankfulness, like that of the Samaritan, takes us back to Christ who has blessed us. It is when we, like him, make an unashamed profession of Christ. Finally, it is when our thankfulness, like his, is accompanied by humility. His reward for a thankful spirit – “Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole.” Surely this must have given him an assurance of His interest in Christ.
So, it now becomes us, to pray that the Holy Spirit would be pleased to follow the Word preached and Sacrament administered with his own divine blessing.
‘Unto thee, O God, do we give thanks, unto thee do we give thanks: for that thy name is near thy wondrous works declare.‘ (Psalm 75:1)
G B Macdonald