“The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun,” Ecclesiastes 1:9.
This is the second part of a three-part study in which we are seeking to discover the parallels between what it was the Saviour encountered during His ministry on earth and how those events mirrored what it is the child of God may expect to face in this age that has followed His ascension.
THE EARLY TIMES OF SUCCESS SEEN IN THE SAVIOUR’S MINISTRY
We see further evidence of the parallel between the experiences of the Saviour and those of His people in the ages subsequent to His ascension.
1. At the first, multitudes gathered to hear Him. “And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee: and there went out a fame of him through all the region round about. And he taught in their synagogues, being glorified of all. . . . . And in the synagogue there was a man, which had a spirit of an unclean devil, and cried out with a loud voice, Saying, Let us alone; what have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth? art thou come to destroy us? I know thee who thou art; the Holy One of God. And Jesus rebuked him, saying, Hold thy peace, and come out of him. And when the devil had thrown him in the midst, he came out of him, and hurt him not. And they were all amazed, and spake among themselves, saying, What a word is this! for with authority and power he commandeth the unclean spirits, and they come out. And the fame of him went out into every place of the country round about,” Luke 4:14-15; 33-37.
That was how it was at the first but that attitude did not last! “Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it? . . . . From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him,” John 6:60, 66. Soon enthusiastic hearing of Christ was ended and a very different frame of mind had developed. “ After these things Jesus walked in Galilee: for he would not walk in Jewry, because the Jews sought to kill him,” John 7:1.
In like manner, the earlier welcome given to the gospel preached by the apostles waned. Great success marked the beginning of the apostles’ witness. This was the case following the preaching on the day of Pentecost. “Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles. And all that believed were together, and had all things common; And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need,” Acts 2:41-45. This continued for a time. “And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved,” Acts 2:47. “And believers were the more added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women.) Insomuch that they brought forth the sick into the streets, and laid them on beds and couches, that at the least the shadow of Peter passing by might overshadow some of them. There came also a multitude out of the cities round about unto Jerusalem, bringing sick folks, and them which were vexed with unclean spirits: and they were healed every one,” Acts 5:14-16.
However, this success stirred the opposition of wicked men just as it was with the Saviour. Of Him we read: “The people therefore that was with him when he called Lazarus out of his grave, and raised him from the dead, bare record. For this cause the people also met him, for that they heard that he had done this miracle. The Pharisees therefore said among themselves, Perceive ye how ye prevail nothing? behold, the world is gone after him,” John 12:17-19. This His enemies could not tolerate. The Saviour was aware of this. “For he taught his disciples, and said unto them, The Son of man is delivered into the hands of men, and they shall kill him; and after that he is killed, he shall rise the third day,”Mark 9:31.
2. Despite the growing of opposition of wicked men, there was wonderful good wrought amongst the people. John wrote those wonderful statements which summarised the fruitfulness of Christ’s ministry. “And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name. . . . And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen,” John 20:30-31; 21:25.
THE FINAL MANIFESTATION OF OUT AND OUT REBELLION AND DEFIANCE
1. A plan to murder the Saviour was devised. This the Saviour told His disciples of but they were most slow to believe Him. “And they departed thence, and passed through Galilee; and he would not that any man should know it. For he taught his disciples, and said unto them, The Son of man is delivered into the hands of men, and they shall kill him; and after that he is killed, he shall rise the third day. But they understood not that saying, and were afraid to ask him,” Mark 9:30-32.
It is only now dawning on many believers what the real disposition and attitude of the world is toward Christ, His Word and His people. We see all around us the ever increasing revelation of man’s animosity toward God and His people.
It was recently put to me that right on our own doorstep, for all to see, is this hostility manifested and that in a place where words such as ‘tolerance’, ‘liberality’, ‘live and let live’ are frequently heard. I refer to Queen’s University Belfast.
QUB have leaflets on ‘GAY PRIDE’ and sodomite bunting and flags are on prominent display. Within the post-graduate school some 2% to 6% of students are perhaps sodomites or allied to that perversion, yet within the same school perhaps 50% of post-graduate students come from nominal Christian backgrounds, yet never would you see in the Queen’s campus quotations from the Bible our be handed a gospel tract!
There is an ever more evident conspiracy to ‘kill off’ the gospel in Northern Ireland, not to mention, many other places in the world.
2. It was led by the chief religionists. The conspiracy against Christ was fomented amongst the ecclesiastical leaders of Israel. “From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day,” Matthew 16:21.
Have we not seen that exact same spirit of opposition and that springing up within the churches? I need not mention Romanism and its opposition for it was but the first fruits of the apostasy that is sweeping the world today.
The ‘Ecumenical Movement’, the ‘World Council of Churches’ — these religious systems, amongst others, were the seedbed of today’s rebellion against all things holy. From tentative steps taken toward closer ties with Popery we have seen the tide of evil swell until it is now openly seeking conformity to Sodom and Babylon of old!
Some churches have gone over completely to the wickedness of Sodom and where that has not happened, there is but heard the faintest bleatings of protest from a compromising ‘Lot’ within!
The greatest threat the gospel faces in Ulster today is not from Sinn fein or the IRA or Irish Republicans, but from the ecumenical and modernist churches which have cast aside Bible morality and embraced the ‘new morality’ which is but the ‘old immorality’!
3. It required a traitor and deceiver. The spirit of Judas is alive and well in the ecumenical churches here. The average pulpiteer professes to be a servant of God and publicly has sworn in some form or other to be faithful to God’s Word. In truth, they have used the wages they have received to overthrow the Bible. It was said long ago by a faithful contender for the gospel that these men ‘took orthodox money to destroy orthodox faith’!
Here in Ulster, the names of men such as those of the ilk of Professor J E Davey, who was undoubtedly a blaspheming heretic, but was exonerated by his church, the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, in 1927, from charges of heresy and further honoured by that church when he was made moderator in 1953, ought to be held in greater ignominy than the great traitor of the siege of Londonderry, Robert Lundy, whose name lives on as a byword for treachery.
As was the case with Judas, so it was with Davey and all like him, “Satan entered into him,” John 13:27.
The night of ‘treachery’ has been deepening in Ulster ever since.
END OF PART 2