To witness the saving grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and bring many souls into the kingdom of God. To shepherd and build up the believers in the faith and facilitate their growth in the grace and the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ through various ministries of the church. To prepare the church for the glorious second appearing of the Lord Jesus Christ.
The church, which is the body of Christ, is a living organism and not a mere organization. It is formed by the gathering together of born again believers in a given locality as the “Lord adds to the church such as should be saved.” It functions under the headship and lordship of the Lord Jesus Christ as believers gather together steadfastly for worship, breaking of bread, studying the word of God, fellowship and prayers. (Acts 2:42) thereby to show forth His fullness, unity, love, wisdom and power. God is after a worshipping community John 4:23. Therefore sufficient time is allocated for individual worship before the observance of Lord’s Table every Sunday. Witnessing and gospel outreach activity in surrounding areas is constantly carried out.
For about ten years between 1932 to 1941 Br.Bakht Singh was mightily used of the Lord to bring revival in various churches all over India and many were born again. But sadly due to the traditionalism and liberalism prevalent in the nominal Christendom of the day, these souls were unable to grow spiritually and were backsliding into the old life. This gave a great prayer burden to Br.Bakht Singh and co-workers to seek the Lord’s mind to make provision for the growth of these souls coming to know the Lord. The Lord clearly and definitely led them to start the NewTestament pattern churches based on Acts 2:42. As they obeyed the Lord enabled them to begin the first such church at Jehovah Shammah, Madras in 1941. The Lord began to bless the work and it soon spread to many cities towns and villages in the country and abroad.
We believe in the authority of the Bible, as the complete Word of God. We believe in the trinity, God’s plan of salvation for mankind as planned by God the Father, executed by God the Son by His atoning death on the cross and His resurrection and applied and worked out in the life of the believers by God the Holy Spirit. We believe in the Body Of Christ the universal church composed of all the Born again Believers all over the world and the local expression of that body in every place where believers meet together for worship and breaking of bread, fellowship and Bible study and prayer.
We believe in the equality of the believers in the body of Christ being equally precious as they are redeemed by the precious blood of Christ, being equally important and useful as indwelt by the Holy Spirit to contribute to the building up of the church, the spiritual house and God’s holy habitation to show forth His fullness, unity, love, wisdom and power. We believe in the preparation of the Church for the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ for which the worship is an important part of that preparation. Therefore we encourage individual worship of believers in spirit and in truth around the Lord’s Table every Sunday, enabling them to declare the preciousness of the Lord as experienced by them.
We warn and encourage believers to take part in the Lord’s Table worthily to be prepared for the glorious appearing of the Lord. This exercise is important as the “Father seeks for such worshippers.” (John 4: 23). We believe in the stewardship of the church in preaching the gospel to all peoples regularly so that souls are saved and added to the church, disciples so that the kingdom of God is built. Every Opportunity to proclaim the Gospel is taken and every believer is encouraged to participate in the various outreach programs. We believe in the autonomy of local churches under the headship and lordship of the Lord Jesus Christ based on the New- Testament pattern and functioning according to the principles revealed in the word of God.
A Tribute to Bro.Bakht Singh
He Taught Us to Pray
By C.R. Golsworthy
Our best teachers are those who teach us to pray, and specially so when their teaching is supported and proved by their personal example. Such a teacher was our Lord Jesus Christ himself. Not only were there those special seasons when He withdrew Himself to be alone with His Father, –often all through the night, but in His daily communion also, –for He was perpetually in touch with the throne. How often He would lift up His eyes to heaven, to give thanks or to receive from Him any counsels or comforts He might be needing. He seemed to carry The Presence with Him, and it was all around Him like a cloud of glory.
There is a verse in 1 Chronicles. 4, which speaks of certain “potters” in the tribe of Judah who “dwelt with the king for his work” (v. 23). No actual details are given, but the phrase, as it stands, could be taken as an apt description of ALL TRUE SERVANTS OF THE ORD; –they, too, “dwell with the King for His work.” Such a servant for the Lord was our dear “Brother,” taken away so recently from us, and now enjoying his great reward. It can truly be said of him that “He dwelt with the king for his work.”
It is more than sixty years since I first met our Brother, and had the privilege of being numbered amongst his co-workers. In those days we lived in very close proximity to each other, and we got to know each other intimately. We lived together under the same roof for weeks on end, and had all our meals together. We traveled together in the same trains and buses, and often walked from village to village together. For much of the time, when we were in Madras, four (or more) of us shared the large “upper room” at “Jehovah- Shammah”;–each in his corner, as it were. Often, when going to bed after a tiring day we would see our Brother wrap his Kashmir shawl around his shoulders, and kneel down at his bedside for his “time of prayer,” and, no doubt, to go over the events of the day with his Master. If we looked up much later, we looked across the room, we would usually see our Brother in the same position and with his lips still moving as he continued his communion with God. Whatever other gifts our Brother might, or might not, have had, everybody knew him as, –above all else, a man of prayer, and an example to us all.
During those very early days I had the privilege of accompanying our Brother to Karachi, and sharing in weeks of morning and evening meetings at the large “Anglican Church.” In spite of very difficult situations there, God’s anointing was very evidently on our Brother, and large numbers were being challenged and blessed. Then, early one morning, Brother said to me, “Let us go to pray together down on the sea-shore.” I readily agreed, and off we went. Brother seemed to be no stranger to the area, and he took me straight to a stretch of beach that seemed to be more or less unknown to others, –and we immediately knelt down in the sand. It was cold season in Karachi, and, to this day I remember how the warmth of the sand was very welcoming and comforting. Then Brother Bakht Singh began to pray, — sometimes in English and sometimes in Urdu. I found myself sharing deeply in his burden as he spread out the need of the whole area before God, and pleaded for a merciful entrance of God’s light. Also, as the Holy Spirit moved him, he remembered, by name, those countless individuals who had asked him to pray for certain particular personal needs. His intercessions were sometimes interspersed by pauses, and I had the sense that Brother was somehow “watching God,” and listening for His responses. I knelt along side our Brother all through that day, occasionally praying myself, and trying to express what was on my own heart at that time. It was, indeed, a day I shall never forget, –and to God be the praise.
All who know Brother Bakht Singh will agree that this was typical of his whole “manner of life.” WHATEVER were the pressures of the work, our Brother above all, to be close to his Lord. I, myself, shall never be able to describe the “glow” and the “glory” that came upon us that day, as we knelt, hour after hour, in the sand. I only knew that I had been brought very near to God, –for His work.
What I have been describing is drawn from what is now a distant PAST, but it was always the same through the years that followed. These are just standing portraits our Brother’s whole “way of life,” – for as long as he was physically able for it. He was always “with the king for his work.” And we could say, too, that he was a true “potter,” –ever seeking to secure “vessels meet for the Master’s use” (2 Tim. 2:21), — be they individual (sanctified Christians), or corporate (sanctified local churches), but all of them “meet for the Master’s use.” I dare say that the degree to which we NOW respond to his example will determine the nature and quality of God’s on-going “testimony” in India. Our response can be the right one as we yield to the powers of the out-poured life of our risen and ascended Lord (1 Tim. 6: 12; John 1: 16).
To my younger brethren who do wish to “GO ON” with the Lord, at ANY cost I recommend Hebrews 10: 19-25. Here, the writer gives three suggestions:
1. vs. 19-22 Cultivate a life within the veil. We may use the “Way” that has been opened for us (Christ’s own blood), and we will be welcomed by the presiding priest Himself, –Christ “Alive for evermore.”
2. vs. 23 Tell out the full truth of God’s Word, without wavering, and live it out for all to see.
3. vs. 24, 25 Live the kind of life that provokes LOVE in others, relishing constant fellowship.
AND let us note the predominating emphasis (FOUR verses!) is the one on drawing NEAR TO GOD. It comes first, and, only when it is in its place, will the others be possible, and effective. In other words, LET US “dwell with the king for his work!”
BROTHER BAKHT SINGH—A SAINT OF GOD AN OVERVIEW OF HIS LIFE AND MINISTRY
“If any man serve Me, him will my Father honor.” John 12:26 “. . . he being dead, yet speaketh.” Hebrews 11:4b
On Friday, September 22, 2000, the city of Hyderabad came to a stand still– the Hebron, Hermon compounds, all adjacent roads and the main road (Chikkadapalli) between Golconda Cross Roads and Narayanaguda Cemetery, were like a sea of saints, numbering according to some estimates, a quarter of a million (two and one half lakhs). Shops and offices were closed. Traffic was diverted. Police and law enforcement officers struggled in vain to control the wave of multitudes that participated in the funeral procession. It took about three hours for the procession to cover the distance of three kilometers from Hebron to the cemetery. The funeral procession turned out to be the largest gospel procession Hyderabad had ever witnessed, where the weeping saints inched forward holding Bibles and Scripture banners, singing and praising God. What a witness for Christ and Him crucified. It was not a typical funeral procession but it was a victory parade for Christ triumphant, in honor of His humble servant who served Him so faithfully for about 70 years. It seemed as though the Lord had accomplished so much even through the death of His beloved servant. The Lord was greatly glorified and magnified as an unprecedented throng of saints shook the city for Christ by proclaiming the gospel as they went. It was so awesome and glorious. People desiring to take a last glimpse of the casket containing the body of Bro. Bakht Singh climbed on trees, balconies and roofs of offices and houses along the three-kilometer stretch of Chikkadapalli Road. Hyderabad has never seen anything like it and probably never will. Even in church history a funeral procession of this magnitude has seldom occurred. The unusual occurrences in nature before and after his homecall reminded us that he was a man sent from God for the edification of His body and for His eternal glory. For example, just a few hours before he slept in Christ on Sunday, September 17th at 6:05 AM, there was an earthquake in and around Hyderabad coupled with continuous and unusual thundering and lightening. Lights were out and darkness blanketed the area for a while. Then on Friday, September 22nd, just before his funeral as the casket was being carried out from Hebron at about 11:30 AM while the sun was shining brightly, a rainbow circled the sun for a short time. As the rainbow disappeared, a shining ring, which looked like a “crown,” appeared around the sun. Then suddenly scores and scores of pigeons flew over Hebron as the funeral procession proceeded to the cemetery.
People came from all over India and from around the world to pay their last homage and tribute to their spiritual father and saint of God, Bro. Bakht Singh. Weeping saints from across denominational barriers, languages, tribes and colors gathered together, praising God for every remembrance of this man of God who was indeed God’s gift to the church of the Lord Jesus Christ world wide. News of his homecall spread like wildfire and over 600,000 came to pay their last tribute to him from Sunday, September 17th through Friday September 22nd. His passing away brought an end to an era. Future church historians may refer to this period as Bro. Bakht Singh’s era.
What is the reason for such an outpouring of love, tears and honor for this simple man of God who began his ministry as an unknown itinerant preacher about 70 years ago in Colonial India? There are many reasons, but let me cite at least seven for this unprecedented honor showered upon him by God. His life and ministry exemplified the life and ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ as well as the Apostle Paul. John 12:24-26 says, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal. If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honor.” Acts 20:24 says, “But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.”
1) He was a grain of wheat that was willing to fall into the ground and die.
2) He followed the footsteps of his Master.
3) He loved the Lord more than his own life.
4) He did not count his life dear unto himself.
5) He finished the race with joy.
6) He fulfilled the ministry, which he received from the Lord.
7) He demonstrated the grace of God by his life and example.
Brother Bakht Singh was the spiritual father of tens of thousands in Asia as well as a spiritual role model and inspiration to believers across the world. He was India’s foremost evangelist, revivalist and indigenous church planter who founded churches based on New Testament principles. In many respects all the five gifts mentioned in Ephesians 4:11 were evident in him. “And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers.” No other saint of God was used more mightily than this man of God to turn many to righteousness in India. No other man of God had been used of God to spiritually impact his generation more than Brother Bakht Singh. Being a man he too had his flaws and frailties, but his spiritual strengths far outweighed his human weaknesses. Like the Apostle Paul he could say, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.”” II Timothy 4:7
Brother Bakht Singh was born to Hindu parents in Punjab (which is now part of Pakistan). He was raised as a Sikh . After graduating from Punjab University he went to England as a student of Agricultural Engineering. Bakht Singh miraculously accepted Christ in 1929 while in the West. In 1933 following his studies he returned to Colonial India with a clear call from God to be a witness for Christ among his own people in India. The Lord received him for his ministry on three conditions:
1. Do not join any organizations— serve all equally.
2. Do not make your own plan. Let Me guide you and lead you every step of the way.
3. Do not make your needs known to any human being. Ask Me only and I shall provide for your needs.
Brother Bakht Singh agreed. He resolved to trust God to guide him through prayer alone in carrying out that purpose. In seeking to obey God’s call in various parts of undivided India, he underwent many trials and testings, but God sustained him through them all. After serving as an itinerant evangelist for a few years in Karachi and other parts of Punjab, God brought about a mighty revival through him in Martinpur (now part of Pakistan) and other places in Punjab. In 1937 he was a speaker at the Sialkot Convention, which was primarily organized by the Presbyterian Church and other major denominations. He spoke from Luke 24:5 “Why seek ye the living among the dead?” His preaching electrified the participants and organizers alike, both clergy and laity. In the words of Dr. J. Edwin Orr, British Church Historian, “Brother Bakht Singh is an Indian equivalent of the greater Western evangelists, as skillful as Finney and as direct as Moody. He is a first-class Bible teacher of the order of Campbell Morgan or Graham Scroggie.”
Soon Bakht Singh became a household name among Protestant Christians throughout India. News of his extraordinary life and ministry flashed across the world through missionary magazines and newsletters. He was one of the most sought after young evangelists in India at that time. In one month alone he received more than 400 invitations from all over India. In 1938 he went to Madras and then on to Kerala and other parts of South India. Tens of thousands turned to Christ.
“The arrival of Bakht Singh turned the churches of Madras upside down. . . Crowds gathered in the open air, as many as 12,000 on one occasion to hear this man of God. Many seriously ill were healed when Bakht Singh prayed for them, even deaf and dumb began to hear and speak.” – Dave Hunt, author and writer
Whenever the church – the Body of the Lord Jesus Christ — goes through spiritual decline, the Lord who is the Head of the church raises up His chosen vessels to bring back spiritual vitality. Bro. Bakht Singh was such a vessel chosen by God to bring back the glory of God in the Body of Christ throughout the world. Even though many turned to Christ through his preaching, they were not being discipled or built up spiritually by the lukewarm denominational churches. He fasted and prayed and sought the Lord’s mind to do His will at any cost to remedy the problem. The Lord then led him and some of his co-workers to spend all night in prayer seeking His will for the future ministry.
After a time of fasting and prayer the Lord led him and his coworkers to establish a local church to fulfill the four-fold purposes of the church on the basis of Acts 2:42. These principles can be applied in any country in any culture without compromising the revealed Word of God. The four-fold purposes of the church are:
1) To show forth Christ’s fullness (Eph 1:22-23)
2) To show forth Christ’s unity – the unity of all believers (Eph 2:14-19)
3) To show forth His wisdom (Eph 3:9- 11)
4) To show forth His glory ( Eph 3:21) and (Acts 2:42)—“And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.”
The first church was established in Madras, Tamilnadu, called Jehovah Shammah on July 12, 1941 and the Lord began to multiply these churches across Andra Pradesh and other parts of India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Australia and other parts of the world, now numbering into the thousands. Indeed Brother Bakht Singh can be called the father of the indigenous churches of India and abroad.
The center of his ministry moved from Madras to Hyderabad.
Brother Bakht Singh and some of his coworkers moved to Elim, Hyderabad on September 25, 1950. In the mid 1950’s the Lord provided new facilities to house the local and extra local church ministry. He called the new place Hebron. The work of the Lord grew and multiplied. From the 1950’s to the 1970’s the local churches established by Brother Bakht Sing and his coworkers were the fastest growing local churches in India. These churches grew both qualitatively and quantitatively trying to show forth the four-fold purposes of the church.
In the year 1946 Brother Bakht Singh left India for ministry in Europe, UK, USA and Canada. The Lord used him mightily in every place, particularly at the Inter Varsity students’ missions conference (now known as Urbana Convention) in Toronto, Canada, where he was one of the plenary speakers. Among those who attended the conference was Jim Elliott who was martyred in Ecuador in the 1950’s along with four of his fellow American missionaries. In the 1950’s Brother Bakht Singh ministered in Australia, various parts of Asia, Africa and the United States of America. Wherever he went the Lord used him to spread His fragrance. He was indeed a breath of fresh air in the midst of lukewarm churches and Christians who had a form of godliness yet denying the power thereof.
In Australia through his ministry the Lord constrained some believers to gather together on the basis of Acts 2:42. There are now several Assemblies, particularly in the Sydney area still gathering together as a result of Brother Bakht Singh’s ministry there in the 1950’s and 60’s.
In 1969-70 Dr. Bob Finley of International Students Inc. invited Brother Bakht Singh to speak at the Indigenous Missions Institute which was held in Washington, DC. The main purpose of the Institute was to give the returning Christian international students and scholars the vision of the New Testament church based on the New Testament principles already practiced by Brother Bakht Singh. During those years he also traveled extensively in various parts of the United States and Canada ministering in churches of different denominations. In 1969 and 1970 during his visit to the United States, he also spent time with us in Syracuse, New York, and encouraged us to start a local church based on Acts 2:42. In 1970 the Lord constrained us to start International Assembly which still continues today. In 1974, following his visit to Lausanne Congress on World Evangelism in Lausanne, Switzerland, Brother Bakht Singh visited various parts of Europe, the United Kingdom, and the United States. During that visit he advised me to hold a Holy Convocation in Syracuse, New York. The Lord led us to have the first Holy Convocation on October 18-22, 1974. The Lord blessed it so richly for the blessing of all who attended. The Lord enabled us to continue the Convocation until 1983. Brother Bakht Singh and his senior fellow workers came year after year for these Holy Convocations. We discontinued the Holy Convocation for some years and started again from 1993 onwards.
On his way back from the United States Brother Bakht Singh used to visit the UK and Europe, particularly France and the Middle East. Brother Bakht Singh shared with Brother E. Verborne and his fellow workers in France the importance of having a Holy Convocation to build up the Body of Christ. After much prayer Brother Verborne and his fellow saints were constrained by the Lord to start a Holy Convocation in Sarcelles, France in 1977?????. The Lord used these Holy Convocations to edify the scattered believers from various parts of Europe, the Middle East and other places.
The Lord used Brother Bakht Singh as His chosen vessel to enrich and enhance the spiritual life of many around the world. He ministered Christ and the vision of the Church. Many asked him the secret of his spiritual life, as he was very unique in many areas of his life. Let me share at least a few.
1) His total dependence upon the living God.
2) He accepted the Bible as the Word of God and encouraged every believer to have his or her own Bible and to live in total obedience to the revealed Word of God. His insight into the Word of God and his photographic memory of the Scriptures are legendary. According to Robert Finley, President of Christian Aid Mission, “ I have never seen a man who has a greater knowledge and understanding of the Bible than Bakht Singh. All our Western preachers and teachers seem to be children before this great man of God, Bakht Singh of India.” During Brother Bakht Singh’s visit to England in 1965 Dr. Martin Lloyd- Jones, the famed expositor and Bible teacher and Rev. Keith Samuel, one of the speakers at Keswick Convention met with Brother Bakht Singh. I was present at the meeting. They spent several hours with Brother Bakht Singh asking him questions from the Word of God. Brother Bakht Singh’s answers challenged and surprised these men. Then Martin Lloyd-Jones asked Brother Bakht Singh how he got such insight into and knowledge of the Word of God. To that Brother Bakht Singh answered simply by reading and meditating on the Word of God upon His knees. Most of his life, until he became sick, he read the Bible upon his knees and meditated upon it for hours. The Holy Spirit of God revealed wondrous things out of His Word to him.
3) He sought and did God’s will at any cost.
4) He had a passion for God and compassion for souls.
5) He discovered and practiced Biblical worship and encouraged all the saints both male and female to worship the Lord in spirit and in truth.
6) He encouraged fellowship among saints by introducing the love feast.
7) One of his greatest contributions was the annual Holy Convocations. The first Holy Convocation was held in Jehovah Shammah in Madras in December 1941, which lasted for 19 days. These Holy Convocations have been one of the hallmarks of Brother Bakht Singh’s work and ministry. Norman Grubb, who was the International Director of World Evangelization Crusade, had this to say about his visit to the Holy Convocation in Hyderabad, “To us Westerners, the most striking part of the whole work with Brother Bakht Singh are the Holy Convocations held annually at Hyderabad. . . Brother Bakht Singh puts on these Holy Convocations yearly where several thousand people are massed together in close quarters and all fed by the Lord for a week with no appeals to men. . . here is an Indian proving God.”
8) Indigenization of New Testament principles in the local churches. After visiting Hyderabad in the 1950’s, Norman Grubb had this to say, “But in all my ministry experience I think these churches on their New Testament foundations are the nearest I have seen to a replica of the early church and a pattern for the birth and growth of the young churches in all the countries which we used to talk about as the mission fields.” (Once Caught, No Escape by Norman Grubb).
9) The life of faith. Brother Bakht Singh was a man of faith. He trusted the Lord for all his needs throughout his life. The Lord honored his faith and not only provided for his needs and for the ministry but also used him mightily to challenge the people of God about the importance of trusting God for their needs.
10)The gospel processions testifying of Christ. During his gospel campaigns in every place he went, he held gospel processions going around the city/town turning them upside down for Christ. But the largest of all the gospel processions was the one that followed his casket to the cemetery where hundreds of thousands marched before and after the casket singing and praising God. Even though he died, his work and ministry follow him.
11)Life of prayer. Brother Bakht Singh was a man of prayer. He spent hours upon his knees in communion with the Lord seeking the Lord’s mind regarding His will concerning the work and ministry. Therefore, the Lord also honored him and blessed him beyond any human understanding. This is one of the reasons why the Lord has used him so mightily for the edification of His Body and for the extension of His glorious kingdom both in India and abroad.
Even though he is dead yet he still speaks. We are richer for having known him and having been taught by him. The work that the Lord began through His servant and his early coworkers, such as Brother Fred Flack, Brother Raymond Golsworthy , Brother John Carter, Brother Dorairaj, Brother Rajamani and several others, may not only continue, but be multiplied till the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. Let us rededicate ourselves to carry out his teachings and his vision so that local churches based on the New Testament pattern may be raised up all over the world for the edification of His Body and for His eternal glory.
T. E. Koshy
(Bro. Bakht Singh – Balance of Truth July, Aug 1957)
On the precious occasion we noticed how God has taken His chosen saints and savants at different times to mountain tops that He might reveal His plan for them. It is good to study each of such cases individually and we shall begin spending some time on Mount Moriah.
We read from the word of God that God first appeared to Abraham in Gen 12. But he took him on Mount Moraiah about 46 years later. God had to take Abraham through many different experiences during those 46 years, before he was ready to come on Mount Moriah. Whenever we desire to get a mountain-top experience of the power of grace of God, then we must be prepared to go through the many experiences by which God in His perfect wisdom prepares His children. It may not be necessary for everyone to go through such experiences for 46 years, but you will find that certain periods of such experiences from God are necessary. Even though we may read the Bible prayerfully and carefully every day, even though we may have the privilege to attend Bible Studies by the best teachers available, and also the privilege of fellowship with the saints of God in a living assembly, and also the privilege of having had spiritual parents, yet you can see that for your spiritual education and maturity there is a time factor. God has a plan which may extend over a period of less years or more. Whatever it may be, it is very necessary to pas through these painful and trying experiences, in order to be prepared for the Mountain of God.
We know God had planned from eternity to make Abraham His friend. In Isaiah 41:8 God calls him “Abraham my friend”, but for Abraham to be the friend of God, he had to be prepared that he might be able to enjoy the friendship of God. Mount Moriah might also be called the Mount of God’s friendship. Down the 46 years God had been preparing Abraham step by step to make him His friend. In every human heart is the longing to have a friend. Small children at the age of one or two show their desire to have a companion or friend, because of that inward longing. In your school days also each one had his own special friend. Again in college there are special friends, and in later life it is a peculiar joy to meet old school and college friends.
Recently I passed through Calcutta and there I met a very old friend of mine whom I have not seen for 31 years. He never knew where I was even though we had been thick friends in college days. But somehow when I went to England, we lost touch, but a few months ago he saw my name in the news paper and wrote to me. So we began to correspond, and some weeks ago I visited him in Calcutta, and what joy it was to see him and the whole family. He called his wife and children to meet me his old friend, and I had the great joy of giving them the gospel for two hours. This illustrates my point that in the heart of every man there is a longing to have a friend. But it is not very easy to have good friends, and that is why may are disappointed. Some have been friends for two or three years and I am sure that there are many here that have been sadly disappointed because of broken friendship. But here God was speaking to Abraham as His true friend.
If you want to have a real true friend in your life, or to be a real true friend to others, first learn to cultivate real friendship with the living Saviour, and you will find out as you begin to grow in the friendship of the Lord Jesus Christ that God will give you many many loving friends everywhere. Before that, you may have spent your money on certain friends, and have wasted much affection and, in order to show your friendship, have written very long letters. You may even have sat up at night and exhausted all your vocabulary to show your affection, yet when the reply came after three or four days and when you opened it with trembling hands, and found nothing but a few formal lines, thanking you for your letter, and apologizing for the delay in replying, your whole face fell down, and after seeing it you had no desire to eat or drink. That is human nature. When, however, you have learned by experience to be the friend of God you will see that He Himself will give you most loving friends who will give you love unspeakable. Whenever our Lord was trying to show His great love to His disciples, and the disciples were feeling very very sad because the Lord had told them in a very plain way how He was going to be betrayed and crucified, and they were all feeling downcast, they did not know even what to say, and as they walked in the dark night in the small path leading to Gethsemane, our Lord began to say something and those words are found in the fourteenth chapter of the Gospel of John, and during that time He said, “Henceforth, I call you not servants but friends” They thought they were being left alone and forsaken, but He said, “All things I have heard of my Father, I have made known unto you.”
Servants cannot understand anything about the master. But a friend can, and that is how you know divine friendship. God was trying to show the very same friendship to Abraham. Gen. 18:17. What a wonder this is! God had every right to do what He wished. God’s time had come to judge the inhabitants of those wicked cities called Sodom and Gomorrah and He was about to do so. But He said: “How can I hide it from Abraham?” Abraham was not saying: “Oh God! You must tell me everything,” because he had not yet understood the heart of God for him. No doubt he had been obeying God as far as he could, but so far he had not entered into the heart of God. Now God was saying about him: “How can I hide my counsel from Abraham?” This is God’s purpose also for you and me and we are redeemed and purchased and washed and cleansed by His blood. We are not cleansed and washed to live as we like. No, we have been called to be friends of God the most high and living God. God wants you to climb that Mountain of Friendship and then you will know how God, as your friend, reveals and shows you many many truths and mysteries. If you are really a child of God and if you are truly born-again, then in your heart will be a great longing to know the Bible. This was my longing, and I went on reading the Bible sometimes 12 to 14 hours a day. But that did not solve my problem. Bible knowledge itself does not satisfy your hunger. Similarly I thought that by spending many hours in prayer I would be satisfied. I tried that too and whenever and wherever possible I spent hours in prayers, but even there I could see defeat in my life. Then I began to long for some miracles in life and through prayer and by God’s grace, I have seen many miracles also. But even that did not satisfy me, till I learned God’s purpose to make me His friend, and how to enter pure friendship with the holy, just, mighty and great God? Now God Himself began to speak to me and told me things which I could not learn from any man, in other words how to be God’s co-labourer and partner and friend. Thus we see from the life of Abraham, how we can climb the mountain top of friendship with the Lord. (August issue)
Let us consider a few points abut the friendship of God with Abraham. Gen. 22:1. First of all God tempted Abraham, i.e. He proved or tested him. Now if you want to climb the mountain or if you want to enjoy the friendship of God, then be prepared to be proved and tried by God’s own testings. Suppose a watch maker wants to use a piece of steel for a watch spring, he has to put the steel through many tests before using it. Only the watchmaker can know what kind of
spring is required for the watch. In the same way if men are going to use any metal for an aero plane that piece of metal is going to be first proved by may tests. It is only then that the metal will be fit for use in the aero plane. In the same way God, who only knows our real ministry on earth in heaven, has to apply every kind of test in our lives that we may be found fit worthy. We as believers should never question or doubt God, demanding of Him as to why this has happened and why that? Believe me, every test, however severe, is very necessary to one who desires to be a friend of God. Some of the tests are very painful, and the Enemy will try to suggest that you are being punished by God for failure in the past. If, however, you have understood God’s purpose, then remember you are forgiven completely, and when you have confessed your sins and have put things right with God and man, then your sins are forgiven, covered and washed. His grace will never dig them up again. Your part is to be faithful and sincere in your repentance and confession, and obey God, putting all things right, with your fellowmen. Afterwards let God try and prove you by any test. The saints of God, all down the worlds’ history, have been proved in different ways, and were found faithful. We read that, when God called Abraham on Mount Moriah, he said, “Behold here am I!” He could not have said that so quickly at the beginning, but he had been prepared by God down these 46 years, till his ears had become sensitive to the voice of God. God spoke and he heard and responded immediately. He did not say “Lord give me five or ten minutes!” So many people hear God speaking in a meeting or in their quiet time or in prayer time, but they answer, “God! Please give me ten minutes, I will consult my darling wife and give you a definite reply. She is very good wife and the best woman in the whole world. Please God, just wait for a few minutes and I will ask her permission and then come.” But Abraham is not saying, “Let me call Sarah and then I will come to you,” for he has been truly prepared by God. In a subtle way the devil has deceived many of God’s servants, and many teachers and believers. They bring some man, some woman, some relation between God and themselves. But the answer of Abraham is: “Behold, here am I”, which means, “Oh God! I am fully ready and prepared. You tell me and I will do it.” If you are not clear as to God’s voice, then wait. Because in some case it takes a month or two months or more to know God’s will. But when God has spoken and God has commanded you must say at once: “Behold, I am here.” In Gen. 22:2 Abraham rose up early in the morning. Isaac was also the son of Sarah and no doubt his mother must have loved him more dearly than even Abraham did. But without consulting Sarah, Abraham was ready to take Isaac as God
had commanded. Some may say that the customs in India and America are different. You may say that American wives are different from Indian wives. They demand everything! – and to keep the peace men have to tell everything to their wives! It may be an American wife, or an English wife or an Indian wife or a graduate wife or an illiterate wife. But the divine law is the same for every country. In the work of God, and the things of God, it is the same divine law that is operative. If you make any alteration in any divine law, you will bring great weakness into your testimony and loss into your ministry. You could never say that Abraham did not love Sarah, or that Sarah did not love Abraham. Now when God came he came first to Abraham, but Abraham, however much he loved Sarah, had already learned better than to listen to his wife before obeying God. It was Sarah who advised him to go to Hagar, and without consulting God he had obeyed her, and the mistake of that day is now being seen and felt in the whole world in the seed of Ishmael. Divine laws are not to be trifled with, and Abraham had learned that lesson, – that when God speaks, He must be obeyed so, without consulting with any person, he obeyed God immediately. We must never try to change divine laws by human wisdom.
By God’s command Abraham had to go on a journey (vs.4). On the third day he did not tell even Isaac what he was going to do. Even though he loved he commanded him, and we do not find the least anxiety in the heart of Abraham. Verse 7. When Isaac questioned him about the offering he said: “The Lord willprovide.” He is not avoiding Isaac’s question. When he said that God would provide, he actually believed that the Lord would provide. Literally the meaning of Moriah is: “God will provide.” In this story we see the kind of faith that had been created and developed in the heart of Abraham. The true friendship that God demands is a strong, living and simple faith, and alas! for most of us, we have no faith. Even though we talk about faith, and preach and sing about faith, when the test is actually given, we know how the devil again and again has brought some doubt into our hearts. Even though we have proved God on many occasions and He has given victory over the enemy’s devices, we have seen how many times doubts still come into our hearts. We ask ourselves: What will happen tomorrow? We have prepared for only a thousand guests for Holy Convocation. Suddenly panic comes in. What about Wednesday? What about Thursday? And for a short time there will be panic and doubt. Then we remember that for the past ten years we have been having many convocations and every year God has not only met every need but also
allowed us never to keep any bill waiting for payment, nor have we refused anybody. God meets every need without hints of any kind. Even so at times we have known that for a few minutes a little doubt may come in, till the Lord reassures us with promise that He will surely provide.
In the same way we often find that when we are asked to give a message we feel so dry, empty and weak, the throat may be dry and the brains tired but even then He provides His message if we seek it and you will find the same way in every test; I know it in my own experience, He is faithful. I have seen some people very worried as their families increase. The very number eight paralyses them. They begin to wonder how they will clothe their children, or educate them, or who is going to marry them. Supposing they are girls, the problem is still worse. I am talking about believing parents, who are also God’s servants, and yet in their lives is a fear all the same. Yet surely if God can provide for one, He can provide for ten children. Many rich parents do not have more than three children. Where is your faith? Whenever God blesses, He provides, and what-so-ever burden we as men may have to bear, He gives abundant grace extra for that burden. Abraham knew these words were spoken by God and not by man. That is why he was prepared to do as God told him. God said, “Take your son”! and he took him. He took wood also. Then God told him to build an altar, and he built it, without any question or doubt in his mind. That is real friendship with the mighty God. When God says, “Yes!”, I say, “Yes,” and when God says, “No!” I say “No” and when God says, “Go!”, I go, and when He says, “Stay,” I stay, and when He says, “Speak,” I will speak. You find that such friendship will carry you up every mountain. Your sufferings are sufferings of trial, and trials and sufferings are all preparation.
In the first instance God told Abraham how He was going to judge Sodom and Gomorrah. But now God wanted to tell him what was going to happen through his seed, in blessing to all the nations of the earth. Verse 17. That seed is the Lord Jesus Christ and Abraham would thus be also a partaker of all blessings which were to come through that seed. He would enjoy the fruits of the victory of that seed over all the enemies of God, and over all the powers of darkness. We too have the right in Him to enjoy the fruits of His victory, which will ensure not only a happy life upon the earth, but a share of His triumphant victory over all the powers of darkness in heavenly places. That is what it means to be a friend of God.
Verse 13 reveals something further of what the friendship of God has for Abraham. The ram was caught in the thicket, not because it would run away somewhere. God could have made that very same ram to appear right before Abraham without being bound in a thicket. But God was teaching Abraham some important lessons. After he had passed the final test, he saw the ram caught in the bush. This ram is a type of the Lord Jesus Christ. God was saying to Abraham, “You have obeyed my voice. Now I am bound for blessing to you and your seed. Now command Me. Continue to command Me. Concerning the work of My hands,’ command ye me’. God is willing to work in blessing for us if we obey Him. Most of us want God to listen to us and work for us. But we won’t obey Him. The Lord Jesus has been bound for blessing to us that we may be able to command Him in the days to come; that we may command the blessing of God for all nations, and also victory over all enemies. God took Abraham on the mountain top; that Abraham might learn how to command the best things from God for all the generations to come. Have you a desire to climb that mountain of God’s friendship? Do you want to be a friend of God? If you want to be a friend of God, you will find the whole secret revealed in the life of Abraham and especially in Genesis chapter 22.