At our recent communion here in Sydney, we had the privilege of the ministry of Rev C J Hembd from our Gisborne congregation in New Zealand. I am grateful to him for his assistance.
On Thursday morning, we looked at the notable case of Saul of Tarsus in Acts 9. He was one who was going on in great sin, persecuting the Church of Christ. We considered the journey he took and why he took it. Sadly, he thought that he did God service, even when he was actually greatly dishonouring the Lord by persecuting His people. But Jesus Christ, the risen and exalted Saviour, met with him and turned him from this ruinous course. As a result of this meeting, Saul was a profoundly changed man. So we were reminded that we all need to have personal dealings with Christ for He only can save us from our sins.
On Thursday evening, Psalm 43:2 was brought before our attention as a congregation by Rev Hembd. ‘For thou art the God of my strength: why dost thou cast me off? why go I mourning because of the oppression of the enemy? O send out thy light and thy truth: let them lead me; let them bring me unto thy holy hill, and to thy tabernacles.’ The Enemy, the Question, and the Petition, were the three heads of the sermon. A world that crucified Christ, will be inclined to persecute His people, except so far as it may be restrained by God. But the great enemy of the Christian is sin. The believer may question whether God has cast him off, so great is his struggle at times against sin, ‘For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh…’ (Galatians 5:17). Surely the believer should pray for the leading and guidance of God, as David did in the text preached upon.
On Friday morning, we were encouraged in the duty of self-examination. The case of David in 2 Samuel 23:5 was cited. Firstly, his confession, that his house was not so with God as he might have wished. David was conscious of sin and fault in himself and in his family. Nevertheless, David had confidence, secondly, that in spite of this, God had made with him ‘…an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things, and sure…’. Everything necessary for his salvation was provided by God. So too with the Christian. The chain of blessings in Romans 8 was referred to as applicable to the Lord’s people, ‘Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.‘
On Friday evening, a fellowship meeting was held and the portion meditated upon was from Exodus 15:2 ‘The Lord is my strength and song, and he is become my salvation: he is my God, and I will prepare him an habitation; my father’s God, and I will exalt him.’ This is part of the song of Moses and the children of Israel, which they sang at the Red Sea, when they recognised the deliverance God had given them from Pharaoh and his hosts, who had been utterly destroyed. Marks of grace were identified in those who, by God’s grace, have been saved from wrath through Christ.
On Saturday, by way of preparation, we looked at Luke 10:38-42 where we meet with Martha and her sister Mary, who were disciples of Jesus. The actions of Martha and Mary as disciples were considered and the verdict of Jesus was noted, in which he commended Mary. Application was made to the will of Christ expressed to His disciples in respect to the Lord’s Supper – “This do in remembrance of me.” It is their duty and privilege to obey.
On the Sabbath morning, the congregation was directed to Luke 24:25-27 where we read of the two on the way to Emmaus. The minister noted that this was an unusual sermon in that it was preached to but two people, on a journey, and for a time the preacher was a stranger to them. The exhortation to believe all that the prophets had spoken was stressed in the first place. We are to appreciate that the Old Testament prophets had prophesied of the sufferings of Christ. Secondly, the minister showed how very necessary these sufferings were. The doctrine of substitutionary atonement was highlighted. Then, in the third place, we were to consider the sufferings themselves. Jesus began at Moses and all the prophets and showed them these things. Having the New Testament as well as the Old, we can see how the Old Testament prophesies were fulfilled. Jesus did suffer for the sins of His people. And he secured redemption for them as the Lamb of God.
Following the fencing of the Table, the Lord’s Supper was held again in the congregation. We should be thankful as a congregation for the remembrance of the death of Christ once more in our midst.
On the evening of the Lord’s Day, our attention was drawn to the rebellious speech of Pharaoh king of Egypt. In Exodus 5:1-2 we read of his refusal to let Israel go from serving him. This rebellion against God was a ruinous one for ultimately he was drowned at the Red Sea, whilst still determined to rebel against the will of God. His example serves for a sober warning to us as gospel hearers.
On Monday evening, Rev Hembd preached from Nehemiah 10:28-29 and spoke of the revival, regression and renewal seen in the days of Ezra and Nehemiah. One detects that when God grants a gracious resolution to His people this is a good sign of His quickening influence.
So we pray that the Lord may be pleased to follow the preaching of His word and the remembrance of the death of Christ with His blessing.
G B Macdonald