SGAT CENTENARY SERVICE – NEWTOWNABBEY FPC. Saturday 3rd November, 2018.
Scripture: “And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him,” Matthew 25:6.
We meet together this evening in humble acknowledgement of the Lord’s favour to us in these last days that He has preserved His truth concerning His second advent and that He has reawakened amongst His people an awareness of just what He has said by all His prophets on this glorious and blessed truth.
It was Peter who told us that the second advent of Christ was the subject of the preaching of all of God’s prophets. “Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; and he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began,” Acts 3:19-21. And it was Jude who gave us an example of just what it was that the prophets preached since the dawn of time. He quotes Enoch, the seventh from Adam, who said, “Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, to execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him,” Jude 1:14-15. I believe that it was most likely that Adam heard such preaching.
The restitution of all things at the return of the Lord Jesus Christ has then been the subject of the ALL the prophets.
The return of Christ, universally spoken of by the prophets throughout the ages from the very beginning and yet how neglected it is by so many of God’s servants today and not only today but, to a large degree, for centuries! At this time we meet to bless God for His stirring of the hearts of some men and opening their eyes to this great truth in the last 180 years approximately.
As it was at the time of Reformation, when there was a re-discovering of the teachings of Holy Scripture on the central truths of the gospel, there was a recovering of the Bible’s teaching on the Second Advent of Christ amongst a number of men in the early part of the 19th century. Andrew Bonar and his brother Horatio, Benjamin Wills Newton, George Mueller, S P Tregelles, Dr C.Y. Biss, David Baron and others gave leadership in the proclamation of the truth of Holy Scripture on this most vital of subjects. There were those, who through the dark times that went before, had proclaimed the truth of a pre-millennial, post-tribulation return of Christ. The London Baptist Confession of 1660 along with the writings of some of the Westminster Divines, bear witness of this fact.
Because the men, whose names I have listed and whose writings feature amongst the publications of the SGAT, rejected the long-held notion of A-millennialism, that is, that there is no Millennial Kingdom of Christ taught in the Bible, they were mocked and despised by those who clung to this view, which had its origins in the heretical teachings of Origen, 184-253 AD. Origen wrote hundreds of homilies covering almost the entire Bible, interpreting many passages as allegorical. His method of interpretation became increasingly the norm for most preachers, even after the Reformation. One has only to consider the exposition of prophecy in the writings of most commentators and expositors, found in fundamentalist preachers’ libraries, to see that this is so.
Some years ago, Dr John Douglas printed a leaflet in which he drew a parallel between the principle of exegesis adhered to by those we have come to call ‘Modernists and Liberals’ and the A-millennialists. Both rely heavily on the thesis of Origen, spiritualising prophecy rather than taking it as it is literally stated in God’s Word. It did not cause much joy amongst our A-millennialist brethren but no one came forward to refute what Dr Douglas stated!
This evening, we salute the memories of those whose testimony and witness gave rise to the formation of the SGAT 100 years ago and also those whose labours have kept the flame of truth burning brightly over the last 100 years, principally Mr George Fromow, the first SGAT Secretary, and his successor and the present Secretary, Mr Stephen Toms. We owe much to their incessant and selfless labours. I must mention Mrs Jean Toms as well. She has been a stalwart helper in every aspect of the SGAT witness. She has aided in the posting out of each edition of the “The Watching & Waiting” magazine. She has been a faithful attender at all the public meetings of the SGAT, providing refreshments at the end of meetings and often hosting guest speakers who needed overnight accommodation.
My wife, Ann, and I have enjoyed the hospitality of the Toms’ home on many occasions. I salute them both as do many here tonight. I know that Dr John Douglas would wish to be associated with these words.
May it please the Lord to so bless the witness of the SGAT that henceforth we may see more and more of God’s people enjoying the truths that have been long neglected
Tonight, I wish to speak upon just such an awakening as set forth by the Lord Jesus.
“And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him,” Matthew 25:6.
I want us to notice the time of this cry, then the substance of this cry and finally the effects of this cry.
I. THE TIME OF THIS CRY.
“At midnight there was a cry made.”
1. The hour of deepest darkness. ‘Midnight’ means the middle of the night. The sun is at its furthermost point from the land. 1 Thess 5:2.
2. The hour when darkness is about to give way to dawn. From that ‘middle of the night’ moment the time advances toward dawn.
3. It is the time an army is roused for battle. This was the time of Gideon’s attack, Judges 7:19. God is pleased to stir His people and awaken them to the need of the hour. Without grace, none would know the character of the times in which we live. Isa 22:12-13. 1 Chron 12:1-22 (Israel beginning to awaken to David). Among them were the men of Issachar, “men that had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do,” verse 32. I believe that such understanding will be granted at the close of this age as the time for great David’s Greater Son, draws near. Something of that imparting of understanding may be seen in Daniel 9. “In the first year of his reign I Daniel understood by books the number of the years, whereof the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah the prophet, that he would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem,” verse 2. The word ‘understand’ means ‘discerned’, ‘give regard.’ Daniel most certainly would have known Jeremiah’s prophecy but it took on particular significance at this time.
II. THE SUBSTANCE OF THE CRY
1. Behold. The word is translated ‘lo’ or ‘see’ in a number of places. Matt 24:23. It refers to deceivers claiming that Christ has come. But when the Lord has this cry sounded to announce His coming (1 Thess 4:16) none shall mistake it!
2. The Bridegroom. He is the One taken away (Mark 2:20). The word means ‘carried away’! Something of the sense of loss seen in Acts 1:10.-11. He is One longed for. 1 Thess 1:10.
3. Cometh. Believers have experienced many things coming to them from Heaven. James 1:17. But what a ‘coming’ this will be! “And I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come: and I will fill this house with glory, saith the LORD of hosts,” Haggai 2:7.
4. Go ye out to meet Him. These will be our final mortal steps and the first of our immortality! “Behold, . . every eye shall see him,” Revelation 1:7.
III. THE EFFECTS OF THE CRY
“Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps.”
1. The word ‘arose’ illustrated for us. The word is akin to the base of another word which means “to collect one’s faculties.” It must be like the experience of the “Prodigal” when he “came to himself.” Before he came home to his father’s house he came to himself! Another illustration of the meaning is found in Matthew 8:15. “And he touched her hand, and the fever left her: and she arose, and ministered unto them,” Surely after a bout of fever, Peter’s mother-in-law “collected her wits.” Peter’s mother-in-law would have been in a state of confusion and delusion but when the fever left she came to her senses. I believe that something similar will happen to the Church just before Christ returns! The ‘feverish hallucinations’ that many have for centuries entertained regarding the Bible’s teaching about the return of Christ will then evaporate!
How defenceless were the sleepers! They were open to any assault the enemy wished to make. So it is with a sleeping Church!
2. There is a returning to their long-neglected duties! The duties the 1st Century Church engaged in, aye and many before them! Jude 14-15; Job 18:25, Isaiah 29:9; Luke 2:25; Roms 8:23. Shedding light abroad and walking in it as they joyfully expect their Saviour.
3. The impact of their restoration. A realisation by the ungodly that they do not have oil! They were made to see their need by the actions of the restored virgins!
There is a lesson here for us today. Would we see our friends and loved ones awakened to their need? Then let us seek to live as will these virgins when aroused and awakened by the voice from heaven!
Conference Speakers and Chairman
Panel discussion under way in the afternoon.
Some whom attended the day of conference.