Written by Elder Arnold H. Bellows.
The Lexington-Roxbury Old School Baptist Association, now in session with the Olive and Hurley Old School Baptist Church, at Shokan, New York, September 16th and 17th, 1936, to the churches composing the same, sends greeting.
DEAR BRETHREN: - Pursuant to a commendable custom, we are assuming the task of writing a Circular Letter, not so much to conform to precedent, but more to edify the brethren, confirm them in their holy faith, present experimental truth encompassed by sound and enduring doctrine. In this age, when darkness has covered the land and gross darkness the people, when there have been many divisions among brethren and many perversions of the faith delivered unto the saints as men have followed human reason or blind tradition a Circular Letter is of greater relevant worth. Feeling our dependence upon God, who giveth liberally and upbraideth not, who is the fountain head of all wisdom, power, understanding and grace, we would present a few thoughts from the sixth verse of the twenty-fifth chapter of Isaiah, which reads as follows: “And in this mountain shall the Lord of hosts make unto all people a feast of fat things, a feast of wines on the lees, of fat things full of marrow, of wines on the lees well refined.” The prophet Isaiah in preceding verses had referred to the glorious majesty of the kingdom of God. Whatever literal meaning these verses may have to the destruction of Babylon and the overthrow of the enemies of Israel and the deliverance of the Jews from their long captivity, they are pregnant with an experimental application to the children of God in this present church dispensation, and in this light we choose to present our views, being fully aware that many Scriptures have a literal historical significance, a future prophetic fulfillment, and an experimental realization by those that constitute the bride of Jesus Christ. The words chose for our subject follow expressions of praise rendered unto God for the performance of wonderful things, assuring those to whom they were written that in a certain mountain the Lord wold make unto all people a feast of fat things and a feast of wines on the lees well refined. The word “shall” denotes power, certainty, purpose, predestination, foreknowledge and unconditionalism, all centering around the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ which saves for time and eternity. The word “mountain” doubtless refers to Mount Zion in figure, which was the stronghold of the ancient city of Jerusalem, and has been often used to symbolize the church of God. Mount Zion is spoken of as the perfection of beauty out of which God hath shined, and the church is truly beautiful and glorious in the matchless comeliness of her Redeemer. Sometimes the church is spoken of as the mountain of God's holiness, for those that comprise the church have the imputed righteousness of Christ and are unto him a holy nation and a peculiar people. The expression “this mountain” denotes a special mountain, singled out from all others, hence implying choice, electing love, reigning grace, continued mercies and divine favor, since it is the Lord who makes this feast in this mountain. Man has no part in that which the Lord does, for He will not divide his honor with sinful, fallen, helpless man. Therefore an unconditional salvation is encompassed in the expression “unto all people,” Jew and Gentile believers taught of God constituting the spiritual seed of Abraham.
Because of Adam transgression death has entered the world, and sin reigned unto death with all its pitiless penalty until Jesus Christ by his stainless birth, his sinless life, his holy offering of his prepared body on the cross, his ignominious death, glorious resurrection, triumphant ascension and Melchisedec priesthood brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. Even the decalogue delivered unto Moses, and all the legal ceremonies, which were just and good, could give no life, nor make the comer thereunto perfect, for man is by nature a sinner, being united to his fleshly head Adam, and having the nature of sin will act out his nature, being of the earth earthy, filled with foolish thoughts, and in and of himself cannot rise higher than his source in being born of sinful parents with the curse of God upon him and the sentence of death in him. Even the thought of foolishness is declared to be sin. Before the bar of divine justice transgressing man is indicted under a holy law. Justice and judgment are ever executed by a changeless God before his throne before mercy and truth can be realized comfortingly by the guilty sinner. The demands of the inflexible righteousness of God require a holy offering, and a holy offerer. The earth and its fruits being under the curse with fallen man, and sin separating the sinner from a thrice holy God, man could not offer himself as an acceptable sacrifice nor anything acceptable unto Deity from a sin-cursed earth. But in the councils of eternal wisdom before man was formed of the dust of the earth God found a way and ordained it whereby his inexorable justice would be satisfied, judgment executed, sin expiated, an intercessor provided in the person of his only beloved Son, who in the fullness of time was to be born of a woman and made under the law, with a holy human nature because God was his Father, and therefore he would have the life, power, holiness and wisdom of God. Under the law mercy could not be shown else God's justice would be set at naught, and God would thereby cease to be God. The law must be enforced, satisfied, fulfilled. This was done by Jesus Christ, who is the end of the law unto all believers. The law given by God through Moses embraced Israel primarily as a nation, yet when the Gentiles, who have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these having not the law, are a law unto themselves, showing forth the works of the law written in their hearts as God judges the secrets of men by the gospel. The decalogue manifests the wound of sin and the ceremonial law with its numerous ordinances points to Christ, the law being a school-master unto Christ. The Israelites had the covenants and the oracles of God directly and were of the circumcision in the flesh as a nation and unto them as a nation Christ came after the flesh, was rejected by them, condemned and crucified on false charges. The believing Gentiles were embraced spiritually in the promises of God as well as the believing Jews, but the handwriting of ordinances which was against the believing Gentiles had to be removed and nailed to the cross, as the crucifixion of Christ abolished all that was written against believing Jew and believing Gentile, making of the twain one new man in Christ. In this sense all people, that is, all believers, being chosen in Christ are justified by his blood, receive pardon, which is released from punishment, and also justification, which is released from guild, and stand in Christ before God as a holy nation and a peculiar people. Therefore in the expression “unto all people” in the subject taken for this article all the members of the family of God are included, whether Jew or Gentile, as the veil of darkness and legalism that has been spread over all nations is taken away as God shines in the heart and gives the light of the knowledge of his glory in the face of Jesus Christ.
The poor guilty sinner who has felt within his soul the fiery wrath of God because of his sins, which reach up to heaven and cast him down to hell, leaving him in himself justly without hope of eternal life and consigned by the righteous judgment of God to endless woe, finds a feast of fat things for him when Jesus is revealed to him by the Holy Ghost. He has felt the sighs and groans of the cross, realized the exceeding sinfulness of sin, hated it, loathed himself as the one in whom sin dwells, and tried in vain all human means to relieve his distressed condition. But when in his experience ready to perish, and already perishing, he was raised unto a comfortable Hope, as he discerned with the anointed eye of faith Jesus Christ on the cross between him and his sins, between him and the judgment of an offended God. A new life, a new love, and the spirit of prayer and supplication have been given unto him with the revelation of the Christ of God. No longer does he trust his own filthy fleshly righteousness as before. No longer does he depend as before upon creature effort and the wisdom of man, but feeds upon the precious promises of the gospel, fellowships the saints of old testament times and new testament times in his experience. He realizes, as never before, warfare between flesh and Spirit, finds himself unable to do the good that he would, and so leans upon Jesus. He finds himself crucified with Christ, yet living, and as he mortifies the deeds of the flesh as he daily sins, he finds a daily Savior as he washes his hands and feet in the laver of the word of God. He feels with unspeakable joy the cleansing power and merit of atoning blood. In all this there is a feast of fat things. It is also a feast of fat things full of marrow. In the natural human body the bone of marrow plays an important part in making blood that provides tissue for the body. Spiritually speaking, in the Old Testament it was said that in the blood is the life of the soul. So in new testament times there is marrow spiritually in this feast of fat things, providing nourishment for the saved sinner who is renewed day by day. What a feast of fat things in redeeming love, in pardoning love, in justifying love as the streams of that river which makes glad the city of our God flow into the soul! The partaker of this feast realizes new beauties in the types and shadows setting forth Jesus in suffering as well as in his dispensation of glory.
There were three great feasts that the Jews held among others, known as the feast of the Passover, the feast of Pentecost and the feast of Tabernacles. All of these three feasts set forth in type the work of the Trinity, God the Son, God the Holy Ghost and God the Father. The feast of Passover particularly emblemizes the death of Jesus Christ as the believer's passover, for God, witnessing the efficacy of the blood of the Lamb of God, passes over the sins of the redeemed sinner and abolishes them forever in the realm of eternal forgetfulness. The feast of Pentecost refers tot he descent of the Holy Ghost and the establishment of the church of God, as the saved sinner realizes his joint heirship with Christ. The feast of Tabernacles typifies God tabernacling with man as the Holy Spirit makes him alive from the dead. The last mentioned feast was the last one of the three great feasts of the Israelites, and so God tabernacles in man as a result of the work of the Son and of the Holy Ghost.
It is also a feast of wines on the lees when the believer discerns no life in the old testament wine and that it has been exhausted, and that the water of the word fills the empty vessel to the brim, is made unto gospel wine, and is kept until now, refreshing and supplying and satisfying the new born child of God who thirsts after righteousness, is often made to feel sad and heavy-hearted because of the adversary Satan. Jesus turned water into wine at the wedding feast at Cana, the first of his many miracles. This occurred on the third day, signifying the gospel day, as well as life from the dead, for Jesus rose from the dead the third day. The church is espoused as a chaste virgin unto Christ, and it is appropriate that this wedding was graced by Christ's presence. It is the church that tastes of the wine that Wisdom (Jesus the wisdom of God in a mystery) has mingled, and it is good wine, kept until now. It is never exhausted. The subject of grace has felt the lifelessness of the old testament wine with its condemnation, and has longed for that sparkling, invigorating, soul-cheering wine of the gospel dispensation. One must feel lost before realizing salvation, must feel the need of Christ before comprehending his mercy, so there is in the mingling of the wine in the mountain of God's holiness a sense of need supplied and grace provided. The first miracle that a child of God knows anything about is when he is made to sip gospel wine and finds his heavy-heartedness gone and hope renewed and faith strengthened. This wine is well refined, being on the lees, with strength and virtue in it. As the poor sinners experiences many trials and is refined by them and conformed to the image of God, he is made often to partake of this wine, of wines well refined. As the wine made from the water at Cana's wedding feast filled the vessels to the brim, so there is fullness of joy and glory for the believer as he feasts in the fellowship of the saints in this mountain upon the precious things prepared by the Lord of hosts.
Arnold H. Bellows, Moderator
Orville Winchell, Clerk.
Signs of the Times
Volume 104, No. 12