many designations given to responsible servants of God in the
Bible is that of 'Watchman'. The function of the Watchman is so
well understood that the time need not be taken to describe it.
In a word, it is to be aware of both movements and their
portents, and to make these known for the well-being of those for
whom he has a responsibility. This was one of the functions of
the Old Testament Prophets, and this aspect of prophetic ministry
is implicit in the anointing of all servants of God at all times.
particular aspect has meant, and will always mean, that the
Watchman lives before the time when that which he sees will
eventuate or materialise. The New Testament Apostles were of this
kind. They truly lived for their own hour and day, but they lived
even more for a day to come. As Watchmen they saw the trend and
significance of certain 'signs' or portents, and in this respect
they lived before their time, and were only vindicated long after
their departure from this earth.
We make no
claim to prophetic foresight or Apostolic prevision or
inspiration, but there are at the present time certain signs and
indications, the significance of which, for various reasons, may
not be immediately recognised; and it could be that the
declaration of their meaning, as by a faithful watchman, might
mean the difference between salvation and disaster for multitudes
If there is
one thing upon which the Bible is clear and emphatic, it is that,
in all His sovereign government, God works toward reality at
the end. The end of every phase of the progressive purpose
of God has been marked by a sifting, challenging, and testing of
things as to their reality.
easily be seen as the eye is cast over the various stages of the
Old Testament. It is manifest again in the crisis of Christ's
first advent, which, in the first instance, was a consummation of
the whole Old Testament dispensation, and His judgment of that is
found most pronouncedly on the very face of His life on earth.
The test was that of reality, and in the balances of reality that
whole system, as represented by its official class, was found so
wanting as to be 'cast into the fire and burned'. The end of the
New Testament sees an exact and final repetition of this
judgment, this time beginning with Christianity - if you like,
with the Church.
the 'eyes which are as a flame of fire' are looking for reality.
They pierce through many things.
the first place, they pierce through traditional and formal
religion or 'Christianity'. Their interrogation is - Is your
religion a matter of attachment or adherance to a system, a
historical tradition, a family inheritance; and so on? Or is it
born - is it a birth in you; is it something that has
happened to you; is it your very life, your very being?
- and I concentrate more especially upon this for the moment -
they pierce through temperament and disposition. They demand to
know whether the reason why you are where you are, are concerned
for what you are concerned for, are connected with what you are
connected with, and are disposed as you are, is because your
particular temperament leans that way. You are artistic and
mystical in your tastes and constitution: therefore you choose or
make your religion after your own image. Your temperament is
melancholic, and so the more abstract, profound, serious,
intense, introspective, and speculative, appeals to you and finds
a natural response in you. You make God, Christianity,
Christ, the Bible, after your image.
again, you are of the practical temperament. To you everything is
only of value as it is 'practical'. You have no patience with
these contemplative people. You are irritated by the 'Marys', for
'many dishes' are your concern. To you, how the end is reached is
of much less importance than the end itself. You are not bothered
much with imagination, and you would put all the value on things
done - how much there is actually to show for your day. Your God
and your Christianity are entirely, or almost entirely, of
the practical kind, after your own image. And so we could
go on with all the other temperaments.
this will not do, for Christ is not any one of these; He is
different. He may combine the good in all, but that does not
wholly mean Divine nature. He is different. All this is
the human soul, but the essential nature of Christ and true
Christianity is of the Divine Spirit - it is heavenly! If new
birth means anything, it means this, that another nature and
disposition is born into the believer, so that he or she is 'carried
whither they (naturally) would not'. In the hands of the Holy
Spirit one thing becomes increasingly clear: it is that our
temperaments or dispositions cannot carry us through the terrific
testings and adversities which come peculiarly to Christians; and
that another life, power, grace, is absolutely essential to our
survival. The greatest, strongest, and most richly endowed
servants of God have ever found this to be true.
with God, is more than sincerity, earnestness, devoutness. It is
not our reaction to God at all. There could be no greater
mistake, no more serious misdirection, no more mischievous
counsel than to advise people to select the church association
which best suits their temperament.
and man (naturally) belong to two orders, and there is no passing
from the one to the other by 'selection', or choice, or
preference. And certainly not by natural affinity, for there is
no such thing! With God, Christ is the only Reality, and that is
not temperamental, mystical, not a matter of plain or ornate,
ritualistic and ceremonial, or bare and simple. Christ, revealed
by the Holy Spirit in the heart, as by a Divine fiat,
corresponding to the "let there be light" of creation,
is the only Reality!
the present my space is gone. But I return to the governing
issue. The end will be marked by an intensifying sifting,
testing, fiery ordeal to find out what is real - that is, what is
truly Christ - and to expose what are the artificial accretions
and appendages of Christianity. This ultimate
"judgment" has commenced and is verily moving over the
earth. May there be found a maximum of "gold",
"silver", "precious stones", and a minimum of
"wood", "hay", "stubble".
Editorial letter published in "A Witness and A
Testimony" magazine, Mar-Apr 1958, Vol 36-2