Featured Items Ritchie Christian Media

April 2005

From the editor: Character Studies in the Assembly (2)
J Grant

Jacob’s Gift to the Ruler of all Egypt (4)
T Ratcliffe

Poetry: The Burial
Ian Campbell

Follow Me (6)
M Wilkie

Book Review

Words from the Cross (4)
C Jones

Question Box

The Call to Serve
W Hoste

Be not ignorant (2)
R Catchpole

Notebook: A Chronology of the life of the Apostle Paul
J Grant

The First Epistle of John (11)
S Whitmore

Abimelech the Ambitious
J Gibson

Whose faith follow: Hawthorne Baillie (Called home 1964)
J G Hutchinson

With Christ

The Lord’s Work & Workers


Question Box

Can the presence of the Lord Jesus at the gathering of the assembly be guaranteed no matter the spiritual conditions in the assembly? When is He outside as He was at Laodicea?

The realised sense of the Lord’s presence cannot be guaranteed if there are conditions in the assembly which grieve the Lord. In Matthew 18.20 we have the seed kernel of the truth of an assembly. This verse makes it plain that Christians should only gather in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Lord says of such companies, "There am I in the midst of them". It is good to observe that the blessing of the Lord’s presence is not dependent on numbers, but what should be pointed out is that while the Lord’s Name is a gathering Name and a displacing Name (for it excludes all other names and man-made ceremonies and ritual), it is also a sanctifying Name. This means the mere fact of gathering according to Scripture is not enough, but the believers in the assembly should gather in a state agreeable to the Lord’s presence. There is a difference between the fact of His presence and the enjoyment of His presence. Scripture would not allow us to say, "Once an assembly always an assembly", for conditions may develop of such a serious nature that His presence is withdrawn and the lampstand removed. On the other hand many assemblies today are not sufficiently characterized by the enjoyed sense of the Lord’s presence. This may be due to carnality, legality, a fault-finding spirit, and a host of other things.

The Lord is outside and His presence withdrawn when a company of believers has ceased to be an assembly. If Laodicea as a whole did not repent then the Lord would reject them as a testimony (Rev 3.16). Sad though the conditions were, it is important to note that they are still addressed as an "assembly". I do not think we can say that the Lord Jesus presented Himself as outside this assembly. The door at which He knocks is not the door of the assembly, but the door of the heart of individuals in that assembly. The Lord desired fellowship with these believers and wanted them to be overcomers. One can be in assembly fellowship, and yet not enjoy personal communion with the Lord.

John J Stubbs

Where was the Lord Jesus between His death and His resurrection? Does Acts 2.27 indicate that He was in hell?

The Lord Jesus, as to His humanity, is tripartite, i.e. spirit, soul and body. Thus we read, "he sighed deeply in his spirit" (Mk 8.12), then He could say, "My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death" (Mt 26.38), and, concerning the woman who poured the very precious ointment on His head in the house of Simon the leper, He said, "She hath poured this ointment on my body" (Mt 26.12).

It was in His body on the tree that Christ bore our sins, "who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree" (1 Pet 2.24), and only while bearing sins was He forsaken of God. After the death of the Lord Jesus, "a rich man of Arimathaea, named Joseph…went to Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded the body to be delivered. And when Joseph had taken the body, he…laid it in his own new tomb" (Mt 27.57-60). Thus His body was buried.

The AV of Acts 2.27 reads, "thou wilt not leave my soul in hell"; however, the present writer is given to understand that the idea conveyed by the original Greek is that His soul was not left to go in the direction of hell and could be rendered, "thou wilt not abandon my soul to hades". The Hebrew of Psalm 16.10 apparently has a similar force, where the RV gives, "Thou wilt not leave my soul to Sheol".

The last of the Lord’s words from the cross were, "Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost" (Lk 23.46), i.e. He dismissed His spirit. Thus His spirit went to the Father in heaven.

Whilst the soul and the spirit are distinguishable, they are inseparable, except by the act of divine power (Heb 4.12). The promise given to the repentant thief was, "Today shalt thou be with me in paradise"(Lk 23.43), and this assures us that the Lord Jesus was in paradise that very day. Paul, in 2 Corinthians 12.2,4 shows us that paradise and the third heaven are one and the same place. Thus on His death, the spirit and soul of the Lord Jesus went to the Father in heaven.

David E West


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