Notes On Titus (28)

“Trouble-Shooting With Titus”

The way, the truth and the life!
The way, the truth and the life!

“Use of Manpower” (3:12-15)

Paul is writing from somewhere in Macedonia (1Timothy 1:3). He intends to spend the winter in Nicopolis, the one on the west coast of Greece, that is. It was an important, and major city. Doubtless he will have work to do there. He requires the assistance of Titus v12. Two other brothers, Artemas and Tychicus will replace Titus on Crete. This helps Titus to schedule his work on Crete, he knows exactly how long he has. Notice Paul’s dynamic leadership in these closing verses. He plans and he delegates and distributes the manpower available to him and the churches throughout Asia  Minor. Doubtless he places the right men in the right places, prayerfully, of course. Who was Artemas? We don’t know. But Tychicus is mentioned by Paul a few times, a loved and trusted brother and fellow-worker. Zenas? Unknown also. But he is a lawyer. This indicates that all the gifts and abilities within the church are put to good use. Nothing wasted.

Of course the needs would have been huge just as they are today v14. All these workers needed to be provided for, they can’t live on fresh air. No doubt in their sacrificial service they will be willing to live on little. But, that raises a question, why should Ministers and Missionaries live on less? Don’t they have the same needs as other Christians. Families to provide for, children to feed and school? Well Titus himself cannot meet all these needs. So obviously Paul expects the churches to meet the need. Here was an opportunity for them to stand in the frontline of missionary work. God’s people must learn to take the lead where good works are concerned. It is all part of our worship (Romans 12:1-2).

All, of course, is done in love v15. Those who love us? Some we know from other parts of the New Testament were not disposed to love Paul. Some owed, on the human level, their salvation to his costly ministry. The rejection must have hurt, but deep love and loyalty of others would have compensated to some degree. The grace of God was always sufficient for Paul. It is, after all, only by grace than any of us can live to this standard that God, through the inspired writings of the apostle has set for. Grace makes us God-like, which is what it is all about, restoring men and women broken by sin, to the image of God in Christ. The one thing the world out there needs today is to see grace at work in God’s people. That ultimately, is the big drawing power.

THE END

(© James R Hamilton, written September, 1998)

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Notes On Mark’s Gospel (31)

“On Your Mark”

The way, the truth and the life!
The way, the truth and the life!



The Sabbath Revisited (Chapter 2 Verses 23-28)

But is it not true to say that the behaviour and practices of many Christians is no different to that of the world? The Lord’s Day, the Christian Sabbath, Sunday, it is a positive blessing. It is time to spend with the Lord, in worship, in prayer, in meditation, in fellowship with the Lord’s people. Yes, we need to guard against the tendency to allow it to become slavish, a formality that denies all humanity. Like the fasting in the previous incident. Jesus’ disciples will fast, they will also keep the Sabbath, but in a proper spiritual fashion. The Sabbath was made for man says Jesus (v27), not the other way round. When the welfare of man and the Sabbath rest clashes, the latter must yield. There is another important point here (v28). The Lord declares his rightful control over the Sabbath day and law. He rises here to an even higher principle. Even if his disciples had broken the Sabbath law, they would not be guilty of sin. Because the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath, and has it at his disposal, and they are in his service. But the Son of Man, along with his Father, and the Holy Spirit, who equally, harmoniously instituted the law in its entirety for man’s benefit, would be the last to violate, or allow any violation of that supreme law.

The revelation of Jesus’ sovereign authority over not only the Sabbath, but in every area, we have seen throughout the chapter. With supreme authority over demons and over disease. The ability to read the hearts of men, the very intentions and motives. We have seen something of the awful state of men’s hearts in relation to Jesus Christ the Son God. As he looks into your heart today what does Jesus the Lord see there for him? Do you love him? We have seen his own declaration of how he would be torn from amongst his disciples, the wedding feast rudely and violently interrupted. Which speaks to us of his death, not for sins he committed, because the charge of Sabbath breaking was totally unfounded, he never broke one single Divine law. He was spotless, sinless (1John 3:5). He died for our sins (1Peter 3:18), to free us (Hebrew 2:14-15), to reconcile us (2Corinthians 5:18-21), to give us life (John 12.24), to renew us (2Corinthians 5:17). What a glorious Saviour! What good news! We have something to rejoice in if he is ours! Bow down before him and worship him!

(© James R Hamilton, written September, 1996)

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The Hanoverians: German Rulers and Scotland’s Glory!

The way, the truth and the life!
The way, the truth and the life!

The Hanoverians were the most successful of all Britain’s dynasties: German monarchs chosen by the British people. When George I became King exactly three hundred years ago, it was not by divine right but by the Act of Settlement of 1701, passed by both the English and the Scottish Parliaments. This Act had led inexorably to the Parliamentary Union of 1707 that fully united Scotland with England and Wales to ensure that there would be no remnant of support for the displaced Stuarts. The attempt by James II’s son,the Old Pretender, to supplant George I by invading North Britain, the home of his Scottish ancestors, in 1715, ended in farce. The Union is a corollary of the Hanoverian succession and the Hanoverian era was the time of England’s long and productive love affair with those two models of Protestant probity and intellectual eminence, the Germans and the Scots.

In 1714 Britain was a small, unimportant, offshore island on the edge of Europe. It had only recently emerged from decades of internal strife and political instability. But by 1837 when Queen Victoria came to the throne Britain was the world’s first superpower. Britain dominated the trade of the entire globe and her powerful navy, as big as that of any two of her rivals put together, policed the oceans. When Queen Victoria died the British Empire was the largest ever seen, with a bigger population than China and a bigger land mass than Russia, an empire with a reach and impact that made those of Macedon, Rome or Spain seem trivial. Under the Hanoverians Britain became the world’s very first modern commercial and industrial nation by the end of the eighteenth century and went on to be the workshop of the world in the first half of the nineteenth century and the world’s great banker and investor in the second. The Hanoverians were our golden age. Everything before them was provincial and everything since then has been decline. The Hanoverian monarchs were successful not because of what they did but because of what they did not do. They refrained from meddling in the lives of ordinary people and allowed them freedom to trade and manufacture, to speak their minds, to travel and to create their own institutions. The great merit of the first Hanoverian, George I, was that he was a German who could speak no English and was more interested in his native Hanover than in Britain. He did nothing and the British people did everything. George I knew full well that the terms of his being chosen as King in preference to the descendants of James II were to guarantee that Britain would have a Protestant monarch who accepted the constitutional limits on his power and he very sensibly kept out of things. George II was also born in Germany; he spoke English, but as his third or possibly fourth language. He spent his summers in Hanover where he proved to be a capable soldier, took little interest in British domestic politics and followed the advice of his sensible and intelligent German wife Caroline of Brandenburg-Anspach. She was Regent when he was away and worked closely with the leaders of the British parliament. German hands-off meant good and minimal government for Britain.

The reigns of the first four Georges were good for England but even better for Scotland. Had there been no Hanoverian stability and prosperity there would have been no Scottish Enlightenment, no great age of Adam Smith, David Hume, Colin Maclaurin, Robert Adam, Joseph Black, James Hutton and Allan Ramsay. It was an age of remarkable Scottish achievement rooted in the Scots’ distinctive systems of education and religion (now long defunct) but it required English governance and German kings to allow it to emerge and flourish.

George II’s German-speaking younger son and godson of the King of Prussia was William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland. By his victory at Culloden in 1746 and the forceful Prussian pacification of the Highlands that followed he made God-fearing, civilized, thriving, commercial Lowland Scotland safe for ever from the raiders, plunderers and extortionists of the wild North. The last remnants of tribal and feudal Britain had been extirpated and Britain in its entirety became a modern market-based society. Culloden and Adam Smith made Mrs Thatcher not just possible but inevitable.

George III was not really German enough and his strong British patriotism and sincere Anglicanism caused problems. Yet as a man he embodied the virtues of his age through his passionate interest in agriculture and science. Farmer George was a keen sheep breeder, who had Spanish merinos illegally smuggled out of their native country to cross with British sheep and improve their genetic stock, and he wrote about improving the land for agricultural periodicals. He founded the Royal Academy of Arts and his vast collection of books today forms the heart of the British Library. He was well-educated in the arts and the sciences, could mend a watch and turn a lathe, and had his own astronomical observatory. George III’s virtues are summed up in a single portrait, Johann Zoffany’s John Cuff and his Assistant, 1772, showing the king’s telescope and microscope maker grinding a lens in his workshop. How many kings of that era would have honoured a scientific craftsman in this way? We should cherish the memory of the quiet and frugal domestic life of George III, a king with no mistresses, no bastards and no debts. It was in George III’s reign that James Watt’s improved steam engine with its condenser made possible the industrial revolution. Watt was a pure Scottish genius but it took the Englishman Matthew Boulton’s entrepreneurship and capital to bring his invention to market. It was another Anglo-Scottish triumph and today Boulton and Watt appear on the Bank of England’s £50 note while their godfather Adam Smith is there on the twenty, a tribute to the Hanoverian Scots.

The culmination of Britain’s greatness occurred under Queen Victoria. It was our final era of Caledonian and Teutonic glory. Queen Victoria herself was a strong upholder of the cult of the Germans and the Scots. Most of Victoria’s ancestors were German, since the little kingdoms of Germany provided the only sizeable reservoir of Protestant princesses and princelings who alone were suitable spouses for British royalty. Victoria’s mother was a German princess and her governess the daughter of a Lutheran pastor. It was not entirely surprising when at the age of twenty Victoria fell in love with, proposed to and married her most worthy cousin, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg Gotha, Albert the Good, with whom she always spoke German at home. Albert was the very embodiment of German industriousness and earnestness, well shown in his planning of the Great Exhibition of 1851 that celebrated Britain’s industrial supremacy. King in all but name, Albert was a keen supporter of science and technical education and had he lived longer would have helped to head off many of the problems that now haunt us.

Victoria and Albert were obsessed with the Scottish Highlands and made a home at Balmoral with tartan linoleum and a full-sized statue of Albert in a kilt. Albert the German loved shooting and he loved Scotland. The descendants of the hapless crofters, evicted from their holdings by their old clan chieftains, who after 1746 had turned into profit-seeking landlords, now found new employment as stalkers and ghillies, gamekeepers and beaters. These new tame Highlanders had been converted by Lowland missionaries to a strict Calvinism and proved enthusiasts for the creation of the Free Church in 1843. Their fundamentalist adherence to the Bible was to lead to the heresy trial of William Robertson Smith and his retreat to Cambridge. They were rigidly sabbatarian and foes to all ungodly fun. They were the most Scottish of the Scots and the Scots were in turn the most Victorian of the Victorians, the most British of the British in their fierce adherence to Protestant morality. Scotland, the very embodiment of Max Weber’s Protestant ethic, produced engineers, missionaries and doctors and provided the world with ships, locomotives and cotton thread. The British Empire was thoroughly Scottish from Nova Scotia to Otago. Scots ran commerce from the jute trade in Bengal to the fur trade in Canada. The Scots saw themselves as confidently superior and loudly proclaimed the fact whenever given the chance. ‘Here’s tae us; Wha’s like us.’

It is no accident that one of the greatest Scotsmen of all time, James Clerk Maxwell (1831-1879), a born-again Christian, flourished in this golden afternoon of the Hanoverian era. Maxwell explained the rings of Saturn, made thermodynamics precise and invented colour photography. The whole of modern science and technology is based on Maxwell’s equations, which unified our understanding of electricity, magnetism and light in a single system. The equations predicted the existence of radio waves and X-rays and the constancy of the speed of light in a vacuum, the basis, as Einstein himself recognized, of the theory of relativity. The Nobel prize-winner Richard Feynman has written that ten thousand years from now ‘there can be little doubt that the most significant event of the 19th century will be judged as Maxwell’s discovery of the laws of electrodynamics’. Yet it took England to nurture Maxwell, who when a student at Edinburgh University was seen as a teuchter, a dumb rustic, and was later sacked from his professorship by the unappreciative University of Aberdeen, which forced him to move first to King’s College London and then to Cambridge. A leading poet writing in Scots in our own time, Professor Keith Moffatt, has lamented that:

They ca’d him ‘dafty’ at the scule,
An’ that, we’ld think was awfie cruel…
Redundant in the granite city
An’ spurned by En’bro’, mair’s the pity,
He ended up awa’ doon South.

Without England Scotland is nothing. With England it has been everything. The union of the two countries during the Hanoverian years was the most fruitful in human history. Today the political leaders of an enfeebled Scotland with its collapsing national church,
predicted to die in 2033, and a bankrupt economy are seeking to turn its back on the glorious days of Hanover and go back to where it was in 1700. Scottish nationalism is both an admission of Scotland’s failure and an attempt to deny it.

Within thirteen years of the death of Queen Victoria, the grandmother of Kaiser Wilhelm II, Britain was at war with Germany, a fratricidal war that ruined both countries. Behind it lay the malice of the wayward and decadent Edward VII, who earlier in life had wilfully dropped out of the moral and intellectual educational programme designed for him by his wise German father Albert the Good. Edward was jealous of Germany’s economic and scientific success and loathed his nephew. He was a lover of the decadent culture of Paris where in his favourite brothel, Le Chabanais, he liked having sex with two women at once, though on account of his excessive portliness only with the help of a special chair and ropes and pulleys. It was Edward VII, a great meddler in foreign affairs, who was mainly responsible for the alliance with France, the Entente Cordiale of 1904, the details of which were not debated in parliament or revealed to the public. How much better for the world it would have been if Edward had been gay and sought the company of the Kaiser’s confidential associates, his camarilla of cinnaedi, who were very much that way inclined. As it was, Edward’s intrigues led Britain into the FirstWorld War, the first conflict since the Hundred Years War to lead to debt and decline.

Today Britain is back where it was in 1714, a tiny offshore island whose share of the world’s total trade and production is about what it was three hundred years ago. The official state newspaper of China, the Beijing Global Times, forcibly pointed this out to our chief commercial drummer, Mr Cameron, on his visit to the world’s new leading country when it called Britain ‘just an old European country, fit only for tourists and students’. The Hanoverian glory has gone and political correctness decrees that past greatness should not be mentioned, which is why we should now make a point of celebrating their memory – our memory.

(This article by Christie Davies, published in ‘The Salisbury Review’ Spring 2014, is reproduced with permission)

 

Notes On Mark’s Gospel (30)

“On Your Mark”

The way, the truth and the life!
The way, the truth and the life!

 

 

The Spiritual Sabbath (Chapter 2 Verses 23-28)

The next attack comes as an accusation of violating God’s Sabbath law. Of course all the time it is the Person of Jesus, his authority, his uniqueness, as the full and final revelation of God, and their fear of him, which blossoms into full hatred. They, the disciples were picking corn on the Sabbath (v23), which was not stealing (Deuteronomy 23.25), but contrary to Pharisaism, and its many rules. You could not, plough, sow, reap, bind, thresh, winnow, grind, powder and many other things on the Sabbath. It was this code the disciples had transgressed and because Jesus refuses to restrain them, he is guilty too. The accusation (v24), is made with inward delight, they have him dead to rights now. The answer Jesus gives, draws out the fullness of the principle involved, an illustration from the Old Testament (1Samuel 21). Have you never read? No probably not. Plenty of Rabbinical reading and quotations, but not much of God’s word, and little understanding of the inward reality of it. Only a fractional view of what the Bible says on any subject is less than adequate, that is how cults and sects begin, building doctrines on single verses, or with just a smattering of truth.

Well what did David do? He ate what was unlawful. Why? What was his excuse? No excuse, when the moral obligation and the ceremonial law clash, the latter must yield to the former. This crazy Pharisaism was always giving priority to the means, the rite, the outward. In other words God cares more about the condition of the heart than he does about the ceremonial rite. Well if David’s hunger sets aside the Divine principle shall not the hunger of Jesus disciples set aside their mere Rabbinical notions. Of course they did it when it suited them (Luke 13.11ff). The Sabbath law Jesus goes on to point out, was a positive blessing, not a negative principle (v27). Long before being set apart as part of God’s holy law, it was part of the creation mandate (Genesis 2.1-3; Exodus 20.11). Now for the Jews it was a glorious opportunity to show to the nations around them that they belonged to God, by a proper spiritual Sabbath obedience. Is not such a testimony needed in our own day, in a society that is morally, and spiritually bankrupt? When one day blends into another, no time for God, no time for Church, no time to live. There’s a time for everything. To die? And a time to get right with God?

(© James R Hamilton, written September, 1996)

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Notes On Titus (27)

“Trouble-Shooting With Titus”

The way, the truth and the life!
The way, the truth and the life!

“Assured of the Source” (3:11)

There is one thing Titus can sure of, that is where this evil is coming from. For this person is warped, bent. You are dealing with a perverted sinful mind of one whose father is the devil, the father of lies, as Jesus calls him. And it is this person himself who is responsible for the separation ultimately, not the church. For he has separated himself from divine truth and therefore from the fellowship of the saints. He has resisted every effort to change his mind and bring to or back to the truth. So it is he who is the separatist. His heresy has separated him from the truth. Therefore he bears his own guilt. He stands self-condemned. He has again and again been confronted with the truth. So having been confronted and presented with the truth and rejected it, the church has no need whatever to condemn itself. The heretic does so himself. And do keep in mind the extensive experience the man has in many churches, in many difficult situations, who is giving this counsel to Titus, and to us today.

(© James R Hamilton, written September, 1998)

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Notes On Titus (26)

“Trouble-Shooting With Titus”

The way, the truth and the life!
The way, the truth and the life!

“Wise Separation” (3:10)

Paul is only too aware that there will be those who will persist in their evil ways. Who will be factious, divisive. It is heretics he is talking about here. The warning is sobering and stern, but we must be clear on this. See the stern action that is taken with a person who is hindering the conversion of another (Acts 13:6-12). Note the disciplinary measures taken against the deniers of the resurrection (1Timothy 1:19-20). As Christians we are warned about the influence that is bad (2Timothy 2:14, 16-18). The apostle of love, John, warns us not receive certain persons over the threshold of our homes (2John 10-11). Else we share in their wickedness. For when it comes to the truth of gospel and the fellowship of God’s people, there is far too much at stake.

The trouble is wrong teaching is so damaging, and so hard to get rid of. It is normally harder to unlearn something than it is to learn something afresh. So what are we to do with such people as these? It is clear, you warn them once, you warn them twice, after which if there is no repentance, separation, you avoid them. If the church fails to do so it must suffer the consequences (Matthew 12:25). If we truly believe that the church is the greatest kingdom of all, it will be precious to us, we will put it before the ramblings of heretics. O yes, I hear the voices of the liberals crying, unloving, unkind, intolerant! No, it is a lack of love on the part of the heretic that is the problem, they love not the truth. The unkindness lies with them also, they would infect the church with their soul-damning poison. We must not tolerate their damnable heresies at any cost. The souls of men, our children and grandchildren are at stake,

(© James R Hamilton, written September, 1998)

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