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A Word In Season

Many of our readers will welcome the article commencing on page 76, "Girding on the Armour", by our beloved co-editor, John Drain of Belfast, who is slowly recovering from serious illness. Those of us who have benefited from our brother's oral ministry will recognize the blend of sound exposition and practical encouragement we have come to expect from him. The message is opportune, and echoes with characteristic clarity the exercise of many who are concerned about the maintenance of the work of the Lord in our generation. We are sure readers will follow with appreciation our brother's stirring message, and will continue to pray for his complete recovery so that he may be able to resume the ministry which is so close to his heart.

We hear much these days of the 'generation gap'. In the service of the Lord no such ideas are relevant. The combination of youthful enthusiasm with mature spiritual experience is the divine ideal. A classic example of this was the close co-operation between the apostle Paul and his son in the faith, Timothy - a great partnership in service which brought much blessing to the Lord's people. In the pastoral Epistles Paul stresses the great importance of a proper relationship between the various age groups of disciples in churches of God. He uses the family as the model for the assembly. Those who care for the effective use of potential in the assemblies will value the wisdom of these instructions and turn to them again and again for guidance.

The main thrust of brother Drain's article is concern for the continuity of the Lord's work. This was Paul's concern, too, and also of discerning leaders of God's people in past days. Recently, during some reminiscences of an early Fellowship pioneer, Dr C. M. Luxmoore, it was mentioned that after his death in 1922 a pocket book was found in which were listed the names of a number of young men. Alongside their names was noted their year of birth. Here was a leader with foresight and concern for the progress of the Lord's work after his decease. This was his private prayer-list and these young men were the subject of his daily supplications. Many of them have done useful service in the local assemblies and in wider spheres and have now passed on to their rest. A few remain, but in general that generation has passed on; they have put off their armour. A new generation is girding it on.

It is not without significance that in the closing paragraph of the article, "The Glory Departs" (p.71), brother Alan Toms also refers to the importance of the continuity of the work of the Lord, and the responsibility of this generation to pass on the precious heritage of truth which has been handed down by faithful men of former days.

Nothing is worth contending for so much as the Faith once delivered. The struggle intensifies as the end-time approaches. But in spite of the formidable array against us the issue is never in doubt. "Who is on the Lord's side?" is the challenge to our generation. It is echoed by our two brethren; "The battle is the Lord's" - the honour to serve is our's.

"In the power of His might,

Who was made through weakness strong,

Ye shall overcome in the fearful fight

And sing His victory song.

By the blood of the Lamb,

By the faithful witness word,

Not loving your lives unto death for Him,

Ye shall triumph with your Lord."

Communicating the Gospel

Among the items listed on the Prayer Card issued for use during the Fellowship-wide Week of Prayer was "the need of wisdom to communicate the gospel of Christ more effectively to modern man". Doubtless, concern regarding ineffective communication is widespread and is the cause of much searching of heart. There is no easy answer to the problem. The subject is one for deep thought and careful discrimination. The gospel is unchangeable; its power undiminished. We dare not tamper with its terms, neither must we be indifferent to its meaningful propagation. There are many facets to this subject. One of them is posed in the following comment which I noted some time ago:

"How shall the Christian message be focused for people of our time? The question cannot be, How do we communicate the gospel so that others may accept it? For this there is no method. To communicate the gospel means putting it before the people so that they are able to decide for or against it. The Christian gospel is a matter for decision. It is to be accepted or rejected. All we can do is to make possible a genuine decision."

There is food for thought there. We submit the extract for this purpose.