UNION IN CHRIST-5
A Testimony is a visible outward act with a symbolic spiritual meaning. The Old Testament is full of such testimonies. Literally a testimony as in the Hebrew is "something recorded" or "something spoken again and again" .For example, circumcision was a testimony that the works of the flesh were not acceptable to God. The feasts were called testimonies because God was speaking to His people through them. The Sabbath was a testimony that there was a spiritual rest into which God wanted to lead His people.
In the New Testament also we have testimonies. Baptism is a testimony that we have been united with the Lord Jesus Christ in His death, burial and resurrection. The Lord's Table is a testimony that our fellowship is with Him Who died for us and rose again from the dead and is coming again to take us to Himself, and that it is also with all who wait for His coming. Through these testimonies God explains and reminds us again and again of the deeper things of God which the natural mind of man refuses to understand and retain.
We have seen in the previous articles how important is this fact that we have been united in Christ as members in His Body, through which His power and glory are to be revealed now and in the ages to come. This is so important that God in His wisdom has appointed a testimony through which we express and acknowledge and at the same time are reminded again and again, of this our union with Christ and our fellow - believers. This is the testimony of the laying on of hands. This testimony of the laying on of hands Is found both in the Old and in the New Testament periods. If we look carefully at them one by one we shall be able to see within all the different details and contexts in which they appear, there runs an identity in meaning. This we shall see in the coming issues. In the New Testament we find this testimony used in different connections; but at the time of baptism we find it used in four places. We shall examine these first.
At the outset we have to acknowledge that there is no explicit command to testify in this way to signify our union in the Body of Christ; - not explicit enough as to rule out all possibility of evasion. But to those who seek to please the Lord in all things there are sufficient hints to draw our attention and leave us restless in spirit until we have received full light from the Lord concerning the matter.
"For as yet he (the Holy Ghost) was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then laid they (Peter and John) their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost" (Acts 8:16,17).
These men and women of Samaria had heard the Gospel through Philip and believed it (vs. 5-17). They were baptized also. Yet they had not received the Holy Ghost. Why? We can understand why the hundred and twenty disciples had to wait for the day of Pentecost to receive the Holy Spirit. But after Pentecost in this dispensation of the Church we know that believers have no need to wait; they receive the gift of the Holy Spirit the moment they are born again. Then why had these believers to wait until Peter and John came and laid hands upon them?
Some would suggest that God had given some special power to the apostles so that when they laid their hands upon any one they would receive the Holy Spirit. Simon, who had been a sorcerer before and believed, thought so himself. We read, "And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles' hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money, Saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost" (Acts 8:18,19). It is true that in this case Peter and John laid hands upon the Samaritan believers and they received the Holy Sprit. But it is not correct to infer that God had given such power to the apostles. The explanation seems to be different.
We must remember what a strong prejudice as fixed through centuries in the hearts of the Jews against Samaritans and Gentiles. In John chapter 4 we read how the Samaritan woman mentions that "the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans even to the drinking of water. Now this barrier was broken down by the cross. The Samaritans had believed. But the Lord delayed the giving of the Holy Spirit until Peter and John come and lay their hands upon them. It seemed as if God was waiting for them to come and acknowledge the Samaritan believers as brethren, and be eyewitnesses when God baptized them also into the Body.
God was leading the apostles gently but strongly into this wonderful revelation that in Christ, all national and social barriers had been broken down and there was now a new relationship because of a common indwelling Holy Spirit. We can read in Acts chapter 11, how the national feelings of the disciples who had been Jews, was rebelling against this revelation. The vision given to Peter (Acts chapter 10) was not only to help break this new revelation upon him, but also to help him break it upon others.
The laying on of the hands was not something new or something casual to Peter and John. They would at once remember how the Israelite offering laid his hands upon his offering, this especially being of frequent occurrence. They would also remember how Jacob laid his hands upon Manasseh and Ephraim; Moses upon Joshua; the children of Israel upon the Levites; and Aaron upon the scape - goat on the Day of Atonement. The laying on of hands would have meant to them an act signifying identification of two parties. It would have been with great significance that the Holy Spirit of God constrained Peter and John to lay their hands upon the erstwhile outcast Samaritans. And immediately these two apostles take this definite and revolutionary step and break away from their old stand, the Lord puts His seal upon it and gives the gift of the Holy Spirit to these Samaritan believers also. What a deep impression this incident would have made upon them! They now had clear ground to declare with boldness and conviction to their fellow-believers how the Lord led them into a larger place, how the Lord had enlarged their hearts to receive the Samaritans also in the Name of Christ (Acts 11:17).
In this connection we can remember how Joseph had been many years in Egypt and had married an Egyptian wife and had two sons Manasseh and Ephraim, by her. When Jacob in his old age comes later to Egypt, he sees them and says, "...thy two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, which were born unto thee in the land of Egypt before I came unto thee into Egypt, are mine; as Reuben and Simeon, they shall be mine" (Gen. 48:5). Then he lays his hands upon them and blesses them, saying, "... let my name be named on them, and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac..." (vs. 14,16). So the matter became very clear that these sons of Joseph who had been separated from his brethren, were not to be strangers from the covenants of promise.
Putting the two together it becomes easy to understand that when Peter and John laid their hands upon the Samaritan believers, they were also saying that they were no more to be outcasts but had become equal members in the Body of Christ along with their Jewish brethren, and they were no more to be Jew and Samaritan but one in the family of God. So also we testify in the laying on of hands that the new believer is an equal member in the Body of Christ along with all the other believers throughout the world and with those who have gone to be with the Lord and with those who are yet to be added to the Church.
II "And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost.., and he ... arose, and was baptized" (Acts 9:17,18)
Here again we see that Saul had believed and yet had not received the Holy Spirit until Ananias laid his hands upon him. It is significant that at the time of the baptism of the Lord Jesus a voice came from heaven, "...Son..."; and now at the time of the laying on of hands there comes a voice from a fellow-believer, "...Brother...". When a child is born in a household, the parents say, "We have another son". But the other children say, "We have another brother". At the time of your baptisth, you can hear by faith the Father acknowledging you asa beloved son; and at the time when hands are laid upon you, you can hear by faith the multitude of believers who cannot be numbered, acknowledging you as a beloved brother or sister in the Lord. Thus these two testimonies ought to be a very happy occasion, a spontaneous expression of our faith and our love.
(To be contd.) C.E.D.
LETTER FOR PRAISE AND PRAYER
Hyderabad - 500020
Telephone No: 27613066
March 22, 2006
Dear Fellow-Believers in Christ,
Greetings in the precious Name of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, of Whom and through Whom and to Whom, are all things: "to whom be glory forever, Amen" (Rom. 11:36). The Lord grant that we may be led into an increasing recognition of this fact experientially, and hence render our exalted Lord Jesus the preeminence in all things - in the family and fellowship life of the church. It should be much more so, let us pray, in our labouring together in the up building of His Church and the furtherance of His Testimony in the land and regions beyond.
Now continuing our thoughts in relation to the building of God's House, we may receive further revelation and instruction from the life and service of David.
"All this, said David, the LORD made me understand in writing by his hand upon me, even all the works of this pattern" (1 Chro. 28:19). At this time the Lord had given David rest from his enemies. He had conquered and subdued all. These victories of his, within and without, were all for a divine purpose. They led to the revelation of God's House. David's sufferings and his battles brought him to the place where God could show him something of tremendous value. Nor did it stop with vision only. The pattern of the House was given to him in writing. Here was a tangible blueprint for him to follow for God's building on earth. In it there was to be nothing of human scheme and pl This was God's building, and the pattern was to be according to His own heavenly mind and thought.
It is this heavenly aspect, which is emphasised by the apostle Paul in relation to the Church of which His House shown to David was so symbolic. The Lord's Church was in the mind of God "before the foundation of the world" (Eph. 1:4). The plan therefore was heavenly, from God. The Church was to be an expression on earth of all the love and harmony of the heavens and of the government of God there. The Church is not an institution to display natural gifts of man, nor is it a clubhouse for the gathering of the socially respectable. "...the palace is not for man, but for the/LORD God" (1 Chro. 29:1) - that is, it is not something to show forth what man is, but a spiritual building to be filled with the fullness of God and to exhibit His glory.
The temple of God was to be built on mount Zion. Zion was a high elevation. "Beautiful for situation (elevation), the joy of the whole earth, is mount Zion" (Psalm 48:2). The heights of Zion were symbolical of our heavenly position in Christ. Sinai, where the Law was given, was in the wilderness. Zion was in the Promised Land. It jutted out of the world, though it was in the world. And a place in Christ in the heavenlies is the true position of the redeemed of the Lord, for God "...hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus" (Eph. 2:6). The Lord's satisfaction is in seeing His people in that position experientially.
There was a strange feature about the chambers attached to the temple. There was to be growth and enlargement as they were built upward. There was, as Ezekiel saw in his vision, "an enlarging... still upward" (Ezekiel 41:7). So with the pattern given to David : the bottom "was five cubits... the middle ... six ... and third (upper)...seven" (1 Kings 6:6). It was an enlargement upward, a pointer surely to the intent that believers were to be enlarged in Christ and "to grow up into Christ in all things". God willing we will continue in our next issue, further aspects concerning David's preparation for the building of God's House.
T he Lord granted me the opportunity of fellowship and brief ministry of the Word on the life and times of David at Oak Flats, about 100 kms. from Padstow Heights. The testimony in Oak Flats was raised almost 14 years ago. Bro. Grant Hayman, the senior minister and elder was blessed by the fellowship and ministry of His honoured servant, late Bra. Bakht Singh in his early visits to Australia more than three decades ago.
On Monday the 6th March, Bro. Kenneth Timothy and myself reached with a few other brothers to visit Bro. Golsworthy wháis in the aged care home at Salvin Park. Though he has become frail, seeing us he raised his hands saying Jai Masih (Praise the Lord). To bring him into remembrance of Jehovah - Shammah, I sang the chorus, "He said, I will do marvels..." which had been his favourite chorus while in the ministry at Jehovah-Shammah, more than six decades ago, with his honoured servant, late Bro. Bakht Singh and other co-workers. With joy he continued singing the whole chorus with a smile on his face. Later, with Bra. Graham Zerk from the assembly there, we broke bread, Bra. Golsworthy also participating in the bread and wine. Later, Bra. Golsworthy prayed for India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and other places and lifting both arms, he bid us farewell. Bra. Kuruvilla was also able to visit him about two Weeks before. He will be leaving for India via Singapore on the 16th March, halting there for the weekend.
On 12th March, the Lord's Day, I had the opportunity of fellowship and ministry with Dr. Paul McAuley in the church at Marrickville. The majority of the congregation is Greek and Armenian. The same evening I had the final gathering at Padstow Heights where saints from different assemblies in Sydney also gathered. They all covet our prayers for their effective continuance in the ongoing purpose of God, for the upbuilding of His glorious Church.
Pray for Bro. Koshy who will be in New Zealand God willing, on 23rd March and later in Sydney on the 3rd April to minister at the Easter convention on the 14th April.
It pleased the Lord to call Home to Glory Sis. (Mrs.) Lydiamma. Augustine on the 20th March, at the age of 84. The Lord helped her to be a mother in Israel, as she laboured with her late husband, God's servant Bro. K N. Augustine from the inception of this Testimony in Hyderabad for more than five decades. She rests from her labours and her works do follow her according to Rev. 14:13. The funeral was held on the 22nd March, in which a large number of saints and fellow-servants from Andhra Pradesh participated. Please pray for the comfort of all her children.
Praying that the Lord may give us a new burden of prayer for Sydney, Melbourne and New Zealand where many young families from the assemblies in India have gone for study and work and that the Lord may be pleased to use them for raising local testimonies there,
Jer. 33:3 I remain,
Psa. 2:8 Yours in His grace,
Acts 1:8 K. PHILLIP,
OUR HEAVENLY INHERITANCE
We want to share with you from God's Word the spiritual significance of the name "Hebron". Then Abram removed his tent, and came and dwelt in the plain of Mamre, which is in Hebron, and built there an altar unto the LORD" (Gen. 13:18). God had spoken to Abraham very clearly, to leave the Ur of Chaldees and to go into a strange land, because he had desired and purposed to give him much blessing. "In blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thee" was His promise. God planned to give him much more than he had ever imagined. So he obeyed God, but not fully. That is why the fulfillment of the blessing and the promises was hindered. The Lord has promised, "from this day will I bless you" (Haggai 2:19). Whatever His command, charge and responsibility He might have given you, or howsoever heavy the burden He might have put upon you, if you do not question Him but accept and beer it joyfully, or whatever God has commanded you to give, if you do so cheerfully and joyfully, even from the day you obey the Lord, He will bless you. If you go on postponing your day of obedience, then your blessing also will be delayed. If you obey after one or two months, then the Lord Will bless you from that day. You begin to receive the blessings the day you obey Him and not earlier or later.
Abraham took with him Lot his nephew for whom God had not given any command He allowed him to go with him solely for sentimental reasons God had a greater vocation for Abraham, and Lot was very eager to accompany his uncle But God had told him clearly not to take anyone else except his own family. Feeling sorry for Lot, Abraham had allowed him to go with him. The result was, there were difficulties. There came a strife between the herdsmen of Abraham and the herdsmen of Lot. So Abraham said: "...Let there be no strife, I pray thee, between me and thee, and between my herdsmen and thy herdsmen for we be brethren Is not the whole land before thee? Separate thyself, I pray thee from me if thou wilt take the left hand then I will go to the right; or it thou depart to the right hand then I will go to the left (Gen 13 8 9) The time had come for them to be separated. Lot saw the well-watered plains of Jordan, was attracted by them, and chose the plain and moved on. Aft that God met Abraham (Gen. 13:14). If a man does not obey God fully, he becomes blind spiritually. Partial obedience brings spiritual blindness. Unknown to Abraham he became blind. Even though he was walking on the land, which had been given to him, he did not know it belonged to him because of his failure to obey God fully. Now that Lot was separated from him, God told Abraham to "look ...northward and southward, and eastward, and westward," and promised to give him "all the land". He had been blind and was unable to see the boundaries, but the separation opened his eyes and God said, "Now you will see how much I have planned and purposed to give you':
There may be similar instances in our lives when we also like Abraham, become blind spiritually. Sometimes we do not know it, because we are so much governed by our feelings. Like Abraham we feel sorry for some of our friends, relations, brothers, sisters, uncles or aunts and because of human sympathy, we do not obey God. Because of some affection for someone o because of some relationship we disobey God's commands Now humanly speaking, Abraham was only doing his duty towards his nephew.
(To be contd.)