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will find much help, except in 1, New Translations of the scriptures ; 2, Concordances; 3, “The Synopsis” ; 4, Bible Dictionaries. &c.—Ed.]
WAS THE "CHURCH" CHOSEN ? DEAR BROTHER IN THE LORD,
I was somewhat surprised to hear Ephesians i. 4, expounded thus, “that God chose the church in Jesus before the foundation of the world." So far as I have light (although yet a learner) I thought individuals were the object of God's choice before the foundation of the world.
If such a thought is correct, should not we read " saints” instead of "church,” in the hymn
“ Abba's purpose gave us being,
When in Christ, in that vast plan,
Long before the world began”? The above explanation was given by a dear Christian at the morning meeting ; some of the young Christians that attend the Bible class on the Lord's day afternoon were present; the teacher of the class was not. One of the young people asked if what she had heard in the morning was correct, or what I had told her some time previous ? I must tell you that the speaker did not know what I had said on the subject. Her answer to the question was, she thought individuals were the object of God's choice before the foundation of the world. Hence the above question. Please answer through the “Worker." Most affectionately yours in the Lord,
If we fully understand the question, we cannot help thinking that this is being too nice. We never met with a Christian who denied or called in question that individuals were chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world; but then because these individuals, or a portion of them, form the church, we cannot see the impropriety of saying that the church was chosen before the foundation of the world.
Let us take an illustration. Suppose a new regiment of a department of the army was formed during the year 1876, would it be wrong to say that such a company of that regiment was enlisted in the year 1876? A person using such language would in no way deny that individuals were enlisted ; all he would mean is that all who compose the company to which he referred had been enlisted during that particular year.
But we have a good illustration from scripture itself. The apostle Paul says of the Son of God, He“ loved me, and gave himself for me.” (Gal. ii. 29.) From which we are quite sure that the love of Christ to His saints is individual. Not only Paul could say this, but all and each of those forming the church are able, by the grace of God, to say, He loved me and gave Himself for me.
From this some might imply that it would be wrong to say that Christ loved the church, and one ought to say He loved the saints; that individuals were the objects of Christ's love. But this would be fully answered by another passage that distinctly states that “ Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it.” Ephesians v. 25. Here too we get another example. Paul said, gave
himself for me.' Christ gave Himself for Paul individually; and if so, He gave Himself
for each saint individually; and yet this passage in Ephesians uses the exact expression-Christ gave Himself for the church.
This being so, we cannot help thinking that the distinction is over-nice, and that individuals being chosen in no way clashes with the statement that
“ Abba chose the church in Jesus,
THE VOICE AT SAUL'S CONVERSION.
Acts ix. 7 says that the men with Saul “stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man; and chapter xxii. 9 says, the men were afraid,
but heard not the voice of him that spake to me. I have somewhere seen this explained as referring to Saul's voice in chapter ix., but to Jesus' voice in chapter xxii. Is that correct ?
G. R. We think that an attentive perusal of the passage in Acts ix. will shew that the above is not the true explanation. It will be seen that the words hearing a voice are linked with seeing no man.' We cannot suppose that the men heard the voice of Saul, but could not see him! There is not the least hint that Saul became invisible, and yet the two must go together : the voice was heard, but the speaker was not seen.
On the other hand, there are two senses in which we commonly speak of hearing a voice. We may
often say we heard some one's voice; but if
anyone asked us what had been said, we should be obliged to say, “I did not hear.” In the
. former case we mean we heard the voice or sound;
and in the latter, we did not hear so as to understand it.
We have other examples in scripture : thus, in John xii. 28, 29, when there was a voice from heaven, saying, “ I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again,” we read “the people therefore, that stood by, and heard it, said that it thundered; others said, An angel spake to him.” Here clearly the voice was heard (and our Lord declared that it came for their sakes), and yet they did not understand it.
That the word in the original will bear the meaning of understand' as well as 'hear' is plain from 1 Corinthians xiv. 2: "he that speaketh in an unknown tongue speaketh not unto men but unto God : for no man understandeth him.' Of course they heard the unknown tongues, but did not understand them.
The learned point out that it should read in Acts ix., the voice'—the voice of the One who spoke to Paul; and also that the grammatical construction is different in chapter xxii., so as to favour the thought of its being the question there of understanding the voice.
The question raised is an important one, because of rationalistic writers pointing the passages out as a contradiction. It would have been strange, indeed, if Luke, a physician, should have given a flat contradiction to what he had written a few pages off-to say nothing of inspiration—and only shews how ready men are to find fault with that living word which touches their conscience, and makes little of man and his boasted reason.
NOTES ON SCRIPTURE.
VERSES 1, 2. Christ finally departs from the temple, and their house is left to them desolate. He said to them your house." (Chap. xxiii. 38.) He had previously called it “my house."
His disciples point out to Him the buildings of the temple ("how it was adorned with goodly stones and gifts,” in Luke), but He said, “There shall not be left here one stone upon another that shall not be thrown down." As is well-known, this prophecy was literally fulfilled. The temple was effectually destroyed. It does not remain as a majestic ruin-as many older buildings in Egypt remain to this day, but it has been swept away as well as destroyed.
Verses 3-14. As Christ sat on the Mount of Olives, His disciples privately put the following questions. 1, When shall these things be? 2, What shall be the sign of Thy coming ? 3, And of the end of the age ?
It will be remarked that Christ's coming for His saints is not named here; and also that the disciples are addressed not as the church, but as the Jewish remnant of that day, though taking up also the remnant of a future day. One expression at the end of verse 6 makes it plain that we do not get here the hope of the Christian : “All these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet." For the Christian it is already “the consummation of the ages.” (Heb. ix. 26.)
Our Lord then first warns them against false Christs : Christians are not warned of this, they