Part 5 of a five part series based on Psalm 22
By Philip L. POWELL
CWM-Fellowship in Brisbane recently introduced an open time of ministry as is normally practised in Brethren Assemblies. Men of the congregation are welcome to spontaneously bring short didactic exhortations from the Word of God on the topic of Christ's death and our Communion with Him around His table. We also encourage sisters to share by way of testimony, the reading of the scripture and by prayer or prophecy, as was clearly practised in the early New Testament Church.
It would be hard to argue that women are totally precluded from the general instruction of 1 Corinthians 14: 26:
How is it then, brethren? Whenever you come together, each of you has a psalm, has a teaching, has a tongue, has a revelation, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification.
Based on 1 Timothy 2:12 (“I do not permit a woman to teach ..”) they may indeed have been banned from “teaching”. By the same token, based on 1 Corinthians 11:5 (“… every woman who prays or prophesies …”), they most certainly were permitted to participate in other public functions in the NT fellowships. Modesty of dress was the one requirement imposed by Paul when a woman engages in public prayer in the Assembly cf. 1 Timothy 2:8-9 (“ … I desire therefore that the men pray … in like manner also, that the women adorn themselves in modest apparel …”). The Greek (Strong 5615 - hosautos) translated “in like manner” is redundant if one argues that public prayer was the exclusive right of men in a NT Christian assembly. It simply was not so and should not be a requirement in our time.
On Sunday March 15, 2009 a sister in the fellowship shared the following collation of Scripture readings, which obviously reflects the sentiments of Psalm 22 and is a reasonable summary of our series of articles. We were all stirred as she read it and then took her seat without additional comment:
Jesus on the Cross
O Lord, do not forsake me, be not far from me O my God. Come quickly to help me. Ruthless witnesses oppressed me and afflicted me, yet I did not open my mouth. I was silent. They rose up against me breathing out violence. They slander me without ceasing and repay me evil for good. They maliciously mock and gnash their teeth at me. O Lord, how long will you look on? O Lord do not be silent. Do not be far from me.
My back is filled with searing pain, there is no health in my body. I am feeble and utterly crushed. I groan in anguish of heart.
A twisted crown of thorns pierces my head. My heart pounds, my strength fails me, even the light has gone from my eyes. O Lord do not forsake me, be not far from me O my God. Come quickly to help me.
Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not require, then I said: “Here I am, I have come - it is written about me in the scroll. I desire to do your will, O my God.”
Even my close friend, whom I trusted, he who shared my bread has lifted up his heel against me. Those who hate me without reason are numerous.
Vindicate me O Lord for I have led a blameless life. I have trusted in you without wavering for your love is ever before me. I proclaim aloud your praise and tell of all your wonderful deeds. I love the house where you live, O God, the place where your glory dwells.
Be merciful to me Lord, for I am faint; O Lord heal me, for my bones are in agony. My soul is in anguish. How long, O Lord, how long?
My heart says of you “Seek His face!” Your face Lord I will seek. Do not turn your face from me. Do not reject me or forsake me O God.
My eyes grow weak with sorrow. They give me wine vinegar for my thirst.
You said to me “You are my Son, today I have become your Father.”
Forgive them Father for they know not what they do.
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from the words of my groaning?
All who see me mock me; they hurl insults, shaking their heads: They call out "He trusts in the LORD; let the LORD rescue him. Let him deliver him, since he delights in him." Do not be far from me, for trouble is near and there is no one to help.
Many bulls surround me; strong bulls of Bashan encircle me. Roaring lions tearing their prey open their mouths wide against me. I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint. My heart has turned to wax; it has melted away within me. My strength is dried up and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth; you lay me in the dust of death.
A band of evil men has encircled me, they have pierced my hands and my feet. I can count all my bones; people stare and gloat over me. They divide my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing. But you, O LORD, be not far off; O my Strength, come quickly to help me. Deliver my life. Rescue me. Save me.
I will declare your name to my brothers; in the congregation I will praise you, honour you, revere you. For you have not despised or disdained the suffering of your afflicted one; you have not hidden your face from me but have listened to my cry for help.
Future generations will be told about me. They will proclaim my righteousness to a people yet unborn.
The waves of death swirl about me; the torrents of destruction overwhelm me. The cords of the grave coil around me; the snares of death confront me. In my distress I call to the LORD; I call out to my God. "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"
From His temple He heard my voice; my cry came to His ears. Awake, and rise to my defence! Contend for me, my God and Lord.
The earth trembled and quaked, the foundations of the heavens shook; they trembled because He was angry. Smoke rose from His nostrils; consuming fire came from His mouth, burning coals blazed out of it. He parted the heavens and came down; dark clouds were under his feet. He mounted the cherubim and flew; he soared on the wings of the wind. He made darkness his covering, his canopy around him - the dark rain clouds of the sky.
Out of the brightness of his presence clouds advanced, with hailstones and bolts of lightning. The LORD thundered from heaven; the voice of the Most High resounded. He shot his arrows and scattered the enemies, great bolts of lightning and routed them. The curtain of the temple tore in two from top to bottom. The earth shook and the rocks split.
"Father, into your hands I commit my spirit."
He reached down from on high and took hold of me; He drew me out of deep waters.
It is finished.
The Total Message of the Psalm and its Application Today
Save Me from the lion's mouth and from the horns of the wild oxen! You have answered Me. I will declare Your name to My brethren; In the midst of the assembly I will praise You – Psa 22: 21- 22.
C H Spurgeon (CHS) sees verse 21 as a sort of fulcrum—a turning point—of this Psalm. The natural divide at this point supports Spurgeon's introductory analysis:
From the commencement to the twenty-first verse is a most pitiful cry for help, and from verse 21 to 31 is a most precious foretaste of deliverance.
Commenting on verse 22 CHS observes:
The transition is very marked; from a horrible tempest all is changed into calm. The darkness of Calvary at length passed away from the face of nature, and from the soul of the Redeemer, and, beholding the light of his triumph and its future results, the Saviour smiled.
Even casual readers of this Psalm must surely notice the change. Verses 22 to 31 contain no prayer. They are filled with praise and promise. A note of victory sounds throughout this last section of King David's song. No one brings this “change” out better than Mr Spurgeon in his masterly The Treasury of David, which can be conveniently read on-line at:
To develop my thoughts fully would require a verse-by-verse exposition, which space forbids. God willing I hope to attempt that in a book if I can find the time. Suffice it at this point to note an aspect of the major change that occurs at verse 21. In the first section of this sacred soliloquy the order of our Saviour's gaze in four directions seems clear as we have suggested. He looks up to God, back to history, down to His sufferings, and out to His enemies. However, there are random changes of emphases in verses 1 to 21 as the Psalmist describes the eternal transaction being worked out upon the cross. That is not so in the second section. From verse 22 everything is in one direction only—forward looking.
Looking Forward Christ Embraced Victory
Obviously the Word of Faith (WoF) preachers such as Kenneth Copeland have not grasped this, with their false, totally heretical and virtually blasphemous teachings about the failures of God and of Christ's work on the Cross. Here are two quotations from Kenneth Copeland that bear this out:
God is the greatest failure in the Universe:
I was shocked when I found out who the biggest failure in the Bible actually is. ... The biggest one is God. ... I mean, He lost His top-ranking, most anointed angel; the first man He ever created; the first woman He ever created; the whole earth and all the Fullness therein; a third of the angels, at least—that's a big loss, man ... Now, the reason you don't think of God as a failure is He never said He's a failure. And you're not a failure till you say you are. (Praise-a-Thon program on TBN [April 1988])
Ransom paid to Satan (theory):
He [Jesus Christ] allowed the devil to drag Him into the depths of hell as if He were the most wicked sinner who ever lived ... Every demon in hell came down on Him to annihilate Him ... [They] tortured Him beyond anything that anybody has ever conceived ... In a thunder of spiritual force, the voice of God spoke to the death-whipped, broken, punished spirit of Jesus ... [in] the pit of destruction, and charged the spirit of Jesus with resurrection power! Suddenly His twisted, death-wracked spirit began to fill out and come back to life ... He was literally being reborn before the devil's very eyes. He began to flex His spiritual muscles ... Jesus Christ dragged Satan up and down the halls of hell ... Jesus ... was raised up a born-again man ... The day I realized that a born-again man had defeated Satan, hell, and death, I got so excited ... !" ("The Price of it All," Believer's Voice of Victory, September 1991, p. 4).
Sadly these false non-biblical doctrines and many others have found fertile soil in denominations such as Assemblies of God and have virtually corrupted entire one time godly movements. In Australia I blame Andrew Evans, the late David Cartledge, Philip Hills, Danny Guglielmucci, Brian Houston et al, who if not fully embracing these false doctrines and their heretical promoters, have given passive endorsement by opening their platforms to them. This has had the effect of allowing this evil to permeate the entire AoG movement worldwide.
Did Christ suffer in hell (hades)? The answer is no. He suffered fully for our sins on the Cross. Did He win the victory over sin in hell? The answer again is NO. Did He go to hell (hades)? The answer is YES. He went there not as one who was dragged by Satan, but as God's great champion who had already triumphed and there He proclaimed the triumph and victory of the Cross:
Therefore He says: "When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive, and gave gifts to men." (Now this, "He ascended" —what does it mean but that He also first descended into the lower parts of the earth? He who descended is also the One who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things.) - Eph 4:8-10.
For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit, by whom also He went and preached to the spirits in prison – 1 Pet 3:18-19.
“Hades” (STRONG 86) in the New Testament and “sheol” (STRONG 07585) in the Old Testament are used to describe the two compartment waiting place of the departed. The lower compartment (cf. Psalm 86: 13 with Luke 16:23,26) was the place of the unrighteous dead, while the upper compartment was that of the righteous dead (Luke 23:43). It was to this latter compartment that Christ “descended” to proclaim (preach) The Triumph of the Cross, from which He announced “It is FINISHED (STRONG 5055 teleo)” (John 19:30) i.e. PAID IN FULL, which according to Spurgeon is a permissible alternative rendering of the words – “That He has done this” in the last verse of Psalm 22.