A Scriptural Study Newsletter edited by Elder Vernon Johnson

How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!

 

 

 

 The Four Horses in Revelation

 As we continue our study of the association between the bible number four and the work of the Holy Spirit, we next consider the four horses in the sixth chapter of the book of Revelation.  6:1  And I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals, and I heard, as it were the noise of thunder, one of the four beasts saying, Come and see.

2  And I saw, and behold a white horse: and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him: and he went forth conquering, and to conquer.

3  And when he had opened the second seal, I heard the second beast say, Come and see.

4  And there went out another horse that was red: and power was given to him that sat thereon to take peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another: and there was given unto him a great sword.

5  And when he had opened the third seal, I heard the third beast say, Come and see. And I beheld, and lo a black horse; and he that sat on him had a pair of balances in his hand.

6  And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts say, A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny; and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine.

7  And when he had opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth beast say, Come and see.

8  And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth.

In the 5th chapter of Revelation we read of a book sealed with seven seals that only the Lamb could open.  In the 6th chapter we see the Lamb as he opens the first four seals and we see four horses and a rider or riders on the four horses.  In Zechariah chapter 6 we see a somewhat similar set of four horses and the meaning of the horses is given to us in verse 5:

5  And the angel answered and said unto me, These are the four spirits of the heavens, which go forth from standing before the Lord of all the earth.

Therefore we can conclude that the four horses in Revelation as well as the four horses in Zechariah represent the “four spirits of the heavens.”  Also we will note but not now prove that bible colors are also associated with specific bible subjects.  The color white is associated with righteousness.  The color red is associated with war.  The color black is associated with sin.  The “pale” horse in verse 8 we are told is associated with Death and Hell.  Based on the above we are brought to understand that the four spirits that the four horses in Revelation represent are the spirits of righteousness (white), warfare (red), sin (black), and death and hell (pale).

While I am not an experienced horseman (I have spent less that 5 min. on the back of a horse in my lifetime), it seems to me that there are at least two very important things that you want to do when you ride a horse.  You want to stay on the horse without falling off and you want to complete your task(s).  Staying on your horse and completing your task would seem to make for a successful ride on a horse.

We will now look at possible riders of the horses.  It is easy to see where Adam rode all four horses, however, he didn’t ride them successfully.  Adam began by riding the horse of righteousness, for God made man upright in the beginning.  Adam, in a sense, went forth conquering and to conquer as he was given dominion of the fish of the sea, and the fowl of the air, and the beast of the field.  He gave names to all the creatures that God had made.  He was doing okay in riding this horse for a short time, until the serpent engaged him in warfare, first, indirectly (thru the woman) and then directly. 

When Adam ate of the tree of knowledge of good and evil he fell off the horse of righteousness.  He went immediately to the black horse of sin.  He, however, could not complete the task of the rider of this horse as he could not balance the scale of justice or keep from hurting the healing ointments.  Thus Adam failed to stay on the horse of righteousness and he failed to perform the assigned tasks.  Subsequently, none of Adam multiplied can successfully ride the horses as Rom. 3:10 tells us, “There is none righteous, no, not one.”  Since we all fell under the law of sin and death, we cannot, in our natural state, ride the horse of righteousness.

There remains only one who can and did ride all four horses successfully.  That one is the Lord Jesus Christ.  According to the scriptures, Jesus was holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners.  He was born of a virgin and thus was born without sin, being conceived of the Holy Ghost.  He kept the law to a jot and a tittle.  He fulfilled all that was written of him.  He rode the white horse of righteousness successfully.  He also rode the red horse of warfare as he was engaged in the greatest of all wars.  He fought successfully against sin, Satan, death, hell, and the grave.  He successfully withstood the assault of the devil and his angels in all the temptations and trails hurled at him. He did this by taking the great sword of God’s word and yielding it against all our enemies.   He did all this while successfully continuing to ride the white horse of righteousness. 

Next, he mounted the black horse of sin, not that he ever sinned (he never did), but the scriptures say that he was “made to be sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.”  On the cross Jesus took our sins upon himself and became sin for us.  He rode this black horse successfully as he maintained the balance of God’s justice (a measure of wheat for a penny and three measures of barley for a penny), satisfying God’s justice on our account.  He also “hurt not the oil and the wine,” that is the healing ointments as he healed us from our sins thru his atoning sacrifice.  As he mounted the black horse, he also mounted the pale horse and suffered the wrathful judgment of God to atone for our sins.  God executed his judgment of our sins on our sin-bearer, Jesus Christ.  Thankfully, our Saviour successfully rode all four horses on our behalf and has made us righteous thru his atoning sacrifice.

In our next installment we will consider the four horses in Zechariah chapter 6.

 Elder Vernon Johnson


 

Friends

Prov. 18:24 reads, “A man that hath friends must show himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.”  There are several characteristics or qualities that go into making up a good friend.  As we study these characteristics we want to consider that we have one friend who is above all other friends, that is, the Lord Jesus Christ.  He is that friend that sticketh closer than a brother.  In the scriptures we see him called the friend of publicans and sinners.  I for one am glad that he is the sinner’s friend. 

In Prov. 17:17 we read, “A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.”  I have had friends in high school, in college, at the various work places, and at different locations where we have lived.  In most cases when we separated ourselves from those institutions or locations we have, in effect, lost contact with those who had been our friends.  I have had a few friends, especially amongst the old Baptists who though separated by distance have continued to be good friends.  Many things can separate friends such as location, marriage, work environment, sickness, financial status, social status, and other interests.  A true friend will love at all times, regardless of our physical or financial condition, location, status, age, or other interests.  Jesus loved us even when we were dead in trespasses and sins.  He loves us even though we are sinners and he is perfect.  He loved us before the foundation of the world and he loved us when he suffered and died on the cross and he will still be loving us when he comes again to claim our bodies in the resurrection.  He will never leave us or forsake us.  He tells us to cast our care upon him for he careth for us.  We can rest assured that regardless of our physical or financial condition or social status that Jesus will still be loving us.  Paul wrote in Rom. 8:35, “ Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?

36  As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.

37  Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.

38  For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,

39  Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

In Prov. 27:6 we read, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.”   It is desirable in a friend that he not just tell us what we want to hear, but that he tell us the truth even when it wounds us.  A true friend will tell us when our attitude stinks or when what we do or propose to do is wrong.  He will tell us when we are hurting his or someone else’s feelings.  He will reprove or rebuke us when we need it.  He will admonish or encourage us when that is needed.  We all at times need to be reproved, rebuked or admonished.  We all need to be told when we are hurting peoples feelings or when we are doing something wrong.  It is a true friend who will not be deceitful, but will tell us the truth, even when it hurts.  Jesus is that friend who will always be honest with us and will reprove us or rebuke us when that is needed.  He will chastise us because he loves us.  He cares for us and therefore will wound us when we need to be wounded.  Never will he be deceitful toward us. 

 

In Prov. 27:9 we read, “Ointment and perfume rejoice the heart: so doth the sweetness of a man's friend by hearty counsel.”  One of the characteristics of friends is that they will share one another’s counsel.  There have been times in my life that I needed to know how to do something or what to say to someone or how to present something, or what am I doing wrong, etc.  A friend will readily and heartily give you his counsel.  Friends are there to share with one another and to help one another.  Life would be a whole lot more difficult if it weren’t for friends who have shared with me their counsel.  No one has shared with us more counsel than the Lord Jesus Christ.  He has given us his word.  He has revealed to us his truths.  According to John 15:15 Jesus said, “Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.”   Jesus word is a thorough furnisher unto all good works.  There just isn’t anything missing that we need.  His counsel is also always correct and best for us.  Furthermore, we can go to him in prayer and ask for his guidance and leadership in our lives and he will give it and it will be the very best for us.  He is indeed our best counselor. 

In Song 5:16 we read, “His mouth is most sweet: yea, he is altogether lovely. This is my beloved, and this is my friend, O daughters of Jerusalem.”  Other than Jesus, the best friend I have had in this life is my beloved wife.  It is indeed a joy when one is both your beloved and your best friend.  Jesus has taken us to be his bride or beloved and he is also our best friend.  We have the privilege of telling “the daughters of Jerusalem” what a friend we have in Jesus and how he has loved us with an everlasting love.  We have the privilege, as the man who had the legions of unclean spirits cast out of him by the Lord, to go home and tell our friends what great things the Lord has done for us and loved us.

In John 15:13 we read, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”  Perhaps volumes could be and have been written on this, but Jesus is the greatest example ever of one who laid down his life for his friends.  In Rom. 5:6 we read, “For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.

7  For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die.

8  But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”   According to this passage of scripture Christ died for us when we were helpless, ungodly sinners.  Jesus not only died for us, but he also lived for us.  He came into the world to save his people from their sins.  He came not to do his own will, but the will of him that sent him, and this is the Father’s will which sent him, that he should lose nothing, but raise it all up again the last day.  Jesus is that great example of how a friend should love.  We should also lay down our lives for our friends, especially as we live our lives.  There are two ways that we can live our lives.  We can live them selfishly for ourselves or we can live them unselfishly for others.  Jesus example is total unselfishness.

In John 15:14 we read, “Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.”   Abraham was called the friend of God as was Moses.  Jesus has said that we also are his friends if we do whatsoever he commands us.  I don’t know a better name to be called than Jesus’ friend.  We all should strive to be the friend of Jesus.  His commands we are told are not grevious.  His commands are all about love.  We should love the Lord our God with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our strength, and with all our mind.  We should also love our neighbour as ourself.  A third commandment he gave us was to love one another as he loved us.  Lord help us to be thy friends.

Finally, the church is to be made up of friends.  John wrote in 3 John 1:14, “But I trust I shall shortly see thee, and we shall speak face to face. Peace be to thee. Our friends salute thee. Greet the friends by name.”   In the church we are to be one another’s friends.  This requires that we get to know one another, that we share our lives with one another, that we reprove, rebuke and exhort one another, that we counsel one another, that we pray one for another, that we bear one another’s burdens, that we lay down our lives for one another, that we love one another at all times, that we show ourselves friendly to one another.  It is much harder for Satan to destroy or disrupt a church full of true friends.  Lord help us all to be true friends to one another.

 Elder Vernon Johnson


 

Led of the Spirit

Rom. 8:14, “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.”  It is evident that this verse teaches us that being led of the Spirit of God is not the cause of one being a son of God, but is the evidence of one being a son of God.

To the elect child of God there are two types of leadership of the Holy Spirit.  There is the “effectual” leadership and there is a timely guidance of the Holy Spirit.

All of the elect of God are drawn of the Holy Spirit in regeneration or the new birth.  We read in John 6:37, “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.”  There are some who will argue that this coming to Jesus is something the sinner must do thru his efforts.  However, John 6:44 tells us, “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.”  The word “draw” in this verse comes from a Greek word meaning “to drag.”  This would be similar to a horse drawn carriage.  The carriage does nothing to move itself.  The horse does all the work and puts forth all the effort to move the carriage.  Similarly, we come to Jesus in regeneration, because the Father draws us to Jesus.  The Father in the person of the Holy Spirit draws or drags us to Jesus thru the new birth.  In this work of God we are completely passive.  God does all the work.

As Spirit born children of God we need something in our lives that can only come thru the timely guidance or leadership of the Holy Spirit.  We are all faced with problems, trials, tribulations, persecutions, failings, and shortcomings and often have not the knowledge or understanding on how to deal with our problems.  These problems can be relationship problems, workplace problems, church problems, family problems, or health problems.  Thanks be to God that he has not left us comfortless.

The children of Israel were led throughout there wilderness journeying.  Ex. 13:21 reads,   “And the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; to go by day and night:” Whenever, the cloud came and abode above the tabernacle the children of Israel made camp and rested in their tents until such time as the cloud removed from above the tabernacle and went forth.  Then the children of Israel broke camp and followed the cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night.  This continued for the 40 years of their wilderness journeying. 

Today we are not led by a cloud or a pillar of fire, but the leadership of the Holy Spirit that we have today is even better than what the children of Israel had.  God’s people are each led by the Holy Spirit.  A wonderful illustration of that leadership is found in Gen. 24:12, “And he said, O LORD God of my master Abraham, I pray thee, send me good speed this day, and show kindness unto my master Abraham.

13  Behold, I stand here by the well of water; and the daughters of the men of the city come out to draw water:

14  And let it come to pass, that the damsel to whom I shall say, Let down thy pitcher, I pray thee, that I may drink; and she shall say, Drink, and I will give thy camels drink also: let the same be she that thou hast appointed for thy servant Isaac; and thereby shall I know that thou hast showed kindness unto my master.

 

15  And it came to pass, before he had done speaking, that, behold, Rebekah came out, who was born to Bethuel, son of Milcah, the wife of Nahor, Abraham's brother, with her pitcher upon her shoulder.”  The servant had the experience of his prayer being answered even before he had finished his prayer. 

There are several ways that we can see the leadership of the Spirit in our lives.  Before we explore those ways, we need to remember to ask for that leadership.  The Lord said, “Seek and ye shall find, Ask and it shall be given you, and Knock and it shall be opened unto you.”  James said, “Ye have not because ye ask not.”  One of the great reasons that we don’t see more of the leadership of the Spirit in our lives is because we fail to ask for it.  James also said, “Ye ask and have not, because ye ask amiss, that ye might consume it upon your lust.”  Often we ask for things selfishly and don’t receive the leadership of the Spirit.  If we ask for things unselfishly, but for the benefit and furtherance of service in the kingdom of God, then the Lord has promised he will give it to us.  Thus it is important that we pray that the Lord’s will be done.

One of the ways we see the leadership of the Spirit in our lives is thru the circumstances of life.  We need to remember that the Lord opens doors and no man can shut and he closes doors and no man can open.  Young people should remember this when seeking a spouse.  We should also remember this when we are seeking employment or where the Lord would have us live or what Primitive Baptist church the Lord would have us attend.  Many of God’s people have found that when seeking a job and praying that God would direct them, that all job possibilities but the one that the Lord had in mind for them was closed and the one was opened especially for them.

Next, we find the Spirits leadership in the preaching of the gospel.  I know of no preacher that knows what each member of the congregation needs.  However, God knows what we need better than even we know.  How many times I have experienced and I am sure many of the readers have experienced that when I have had questions or problems that I was seeking answers to that the preacher was led to preach on the very thing that I was needing help with.  This happens many times with the Lord’s people and is an assurance of the leadership of the Spirit in their lives.

The most common way that many of God’s people are led by the Spirit is thru the word.  Ps. 119:105 reads, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.”  Also Ps. 73:24 reads, “Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory.”  David believed so strongly in the leadership of the Spirit through the word of God that he said in Ps. 119:11 “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.”  Job believed in this principle also as he wrote in Job 23:12 “Neither have I gone back from the commandment of his lips; I have esteemed the words of his mouth more than my necessary food.”  It has been my experience that when faced with the problems and troubles of life and when needing to make decisions that I was uncertain of that often after I had prayed about the problem or decision that the answer has come to me thru the Spirit directing my mind to a verse of scripture.  Obviously the more that we know of the word of God the more that we will experience the Spirit’s leadership through the word in our lives.

There are means by which we see people in the scriptures led by the Spirit such as through dreams and trances, etc.  These, however, would seem to be the exceptional cases and not the rule.  There are, therefore, several ways that the Spirit leads us and we should be thankful for each one and for each time the Spirit has led us, for it is indeed a blessing to us to be led of the Spirit.

Elder Vernon Johnson

Primitive Baptist