A People in Continuance
By Pastor Peter Bond
A glance back through history and through scripture may seem to indicate that, against the background of repeated drifting and decline amongst God's people, the Lord is ever having to make a new beginning in accordance with His own divinely - revealed pattern.
Jesus’ promise in (Matt.16:18) “I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it”, is sufficient to allay all fears that God's purpose has been placed ‘on hold’; though the evidences of its grand progress (at least here in the British Isles) may appear to be sparse indeed.
The Lord is ever working, and working unswervingly, to bring that great purpose to its completion. What may appear at first to be a sequence of new beginnings is, in point of fact, a series of landmarks in a work which, in God's mind, has continued unceasingly.
I do not believe that the Lord has ever simply withdrawn His hand, and allowed the devil to prosper unhindered. I do not believe that the Lord Jesus has ever been forced to interrupt or revise His plan signalled in (Matt.16:18), and launched with the enduement of His power on the day of Pentecost. Nothing has changed; and nothing ever will change. The Son of God is going to build, accomplish His work through, and finally rapture the church which He paid so dearly for at Calvary, and which was in the mind of God before Satan fell, and before man ever set foot on the earth. All, in all its fulness, is going to be brought to completion in accordance with God's will, and exactly in His appointed time.
A scripture that has greatly confirmed my own heart in these things can be found in the 64th chapter of Isaiah's prophecy. Between the prophet's plea for God's intervention in reviving power, and His lament over the conditions of widespread spiritual decline, we find a verse that assures us that God's plan brooks no interruption, and survives (as it will outlive) all the upheavals of secular and spiritual history.
This verse, (Is.64:5), speaks to us of a meeting point between God and His people. That is the unassailable guarantee that His work will be finished, and finished on time. “Thou meetest him that rejoiceth and worketh righteousness, those that remember thee in thy ways: behold, thou art wroth for we have sinned: in those is continuance, and we shall be saved.”
The key to this verse is the word “continuance”. There have been, and always will be, such a people. I think sometimes we too readily accept the historic view of the church as synonymous with God’s view. Our perceptions must always be governed by the Word of God, and not by the chroniclers of the past, even godly ones.
The Lord has always had such a people; and their characteristics are, in broad outline, always the same.
Firstly, they are a rejoicing people. “Thou meetest Him that rejoiceth”. They are a people who have learned that their joy is in the Lord Jesus Christ regardless of varying conditions: prosperity or lack of it, sickness, health, persecution or liberty. God is never drawn to miserable, murmuring Christians; He looks for the man and the woman who knows, and lives in the victory of Christ's work on the cross, and in a joyous affirmation of faith exercised from day to day. 1 John 5:4 declares “... and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith”. “The world”, the poet said, “'is too much with us, soon or late”. The immediate world around us is affected positively by seasons of heaven-sent revival, and likewise adversely by seasons of spiritual decline; but as season gives way to season we know that, nonetheless, the world system grinds inexorably onward towards its ghastly climax in the reign of antichrist, and no revival will either halt or reverse that process. It behoves us, therefore, to be, by the grace of God, men and women ‘for all seasons’: rejoicing in the Lord, rejoicing in hope, rejoicing in this great salvation, and fully persuaded that God has pledged to meet with such a people.
Secondly, they are a people who demonstrate the reality of the kingdom of God in lives of practical and biblical righteousness. Righteousness is something. “Thou meetest him that rejoiceth and worketh righteousness.” It is not something nebulous or abstract, assumed to be the property of all Christians; it is something to be demonstrated, worked out in daily life. It is observable, recordable, and an evident fruit of the Spirit. (Rom.14:17) bringing the balance in its context says, “For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but [it is] righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.” It is something: and our sin-ridden society urgently needs to witness the return of such a clear testimony among God's people.
Before God sent judgment in the form of a flood, He sent Noah, 'a preacher of righteousness' (II Pet.2:5).
Before God sent salvation in the person of His Son, He sent John the Baptist who “came... in the way of righteousness” (Matt 21:32).
And before He shall “appear the second time without sin unto salvation…unto them that look for Him” (Heb.9:28), triggering the outpouring of God's judgments on the earth, I believe the Lord is going to send abroad a Holy Ghost race of preachers of righteousness!
They are a people who demonstrate the reality of the kingdom of God in lives of practical and biblical righteousness.
But thirdly, they are a people who remember and abide in the ways of God – “those who remember Thee in Thy ways”. In (Jer.2:32) the Lord plainly asserts, “yet my people have forgotten me days without number”. No doubt the routine of religious sacrifices continued, no doubt the customary religious claims and clichés were still being bandied around; yet here was a people, encumbered with the machinery of religion, who had lost contact with the Lord Himself - they no longer remembered HIM! in His ways. How nearly this approximates so much of the professing church's activity at this time. Jesus assured His disciples in (Jn.15:5) “... Without me ye can do nothing”. We might reflect soberly on how much has been attempted in recent decades that has amounted to ‘nothing’, simply because Jesus Christ was not the true source and centre of the endeavour.
Let me close by saying this: (i) God has always had a people such as I have described in this brief article. (ii) “... in those is continuance”. Through them the purpose of God has continued without interruption. There has never been a moment in all history when such a people, somewhere, have not graced this dark world of ours. (iii) “... and we shall be saved”. It is through them that the spreading influence of the work God began on the day of Pentecost will reach its glorious fulfilment ‘in the clouds’ of glory - there is going to be a meeting in the air!
I pray that all who may read this little message will join with me in seeking the Lord for a renewed desire, “if by any means” we might find our place among that people in ‘continuance’ as this last and great hour of opportunity is presented to us, to glorify the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen
Pastor Peter Bond
The Lighthouse Christian Fellowship in Burnham-on-Sea, Somerset, England.
Brother Peter Bond has been an itinerent Preacher and Evangelist for some years and more recently Pastor of a new work in Burnham-on-Sea. His heart burns to see again in England what was accomplished through the traveling ministry of John Wesley and a host of other Methodist preachers in the 18th century.
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