Ken Rudge, St. Austell, England
‘The scribes and the Pharisees . . . whatsoever they bid you observe that observe and do; but do ye not after their works’, Matt. 23. 2, 3.
The Lord’s warning to the disciples with regard to the religious leaders of the day was to do what they said so long as it came from scripture. His stern condemnation of them was that they knew the scriptures, taught the scriptures, but did not practise the scriptures in their lives while telling others to do so. One oft repeated word in His withering eight-woe exposure that followed is the word hypocrite.
These men clearly made horrific blunders in what they taught to be the will of God for His people and the source and supply of their errors was their habitual non-practise of the word of God. It lead them into every avenue of false religion that you could go down and the Lord Jesus, here as in no other place, vehemently condemns them in the most ferocious terms, Matt. 23. 13-33.
That the followers of the Lord Jesus and the profession of Christianity could come anywhere near to doing what they did in their day is hard to believe possible but as we look back at the two thousand years of Christian profession we find every facet of their error has been duly followed and practised. The scribes and Pharisees of that day moved from that which was divinely revealed to manufacture their own religion yet still claiming it to be from God. They then bound men to conform to it, bringing thousands into their darkness and ultimate condemnation.
The Lord reveals their three main errors as:
Firstly, they emphasized pattern and not the personal, Matt. 23. vv. 14, 15. Secondly, they used distortion and not distinction of the word of God, Matt. 23. vv. 16-24. Thirdly, they used every means to accept cover up rather than honest confession preferring to impress men rather than God, Matt. 23. vv. 25-28. For all their efforts it produced nothing except that which God hated and the Lord had to call them a generation of vipers and one that would not escape the damnation of hell, Matt. 23. 33.
As we enter a new year of testimony, a reflection upon this tragic failure by the supposed leaders of God’s people, has made me realize afresh that it is so easy to let things slip and to fail to keep life and testimony pure and powerful before God. Things that once would have sounded alarm bells in days gone by are now passed over as not important anymore. Certain behaviours are now tolerated, truths neglected and conformity considered just for the sake of peace but bringing a slow and sure pathway to a world of grey where no distinctions are to be drawn. Remember that recovery in scripture is most often a return to the original revelation of God thus indicating a departure from it in the past. We have not long to go now surely, it is the eleventh hour, may the Lord come and find us watching and waiting as those that look for their Lord! Even so come Lord Jesus!
It is in that need for a ‘spirit of readiness’ that we commend to you another issue of Precious Seed magazine, the first of another year. We commence a new subject for our ‘centre page pull-out’ in the form of studies in the parables of the Lord Jesus. Our brother Malcolm Horlock has kindly taken up his pen again for us in this and it is challenging material. Our Keynote Article tackles the rather difficult subject of abortion and related issues. We do not profess to have all the answers but are most grateful to Michael Wilkie for being willing to give us some insights into this dark area of moral soup. Our purpose, as always, is to encourage and strengthen God’s people; may this issue fulfil that desire.