My early years were spent in Sunday School and Christian Endeavour in the Methodist church, where my father was the Secretary and my mother the Sunday School Superintendent. Because my parents were seeking deeper teaching, they moved to an interdenominational fellowship in the city of Perth, when I was in my teenage years. From this fellowship many missionaries and Christian workers were sent out and supported.
My mother, who struggled greatly with ill-health, was always sitting on the lounge reading her Bible, and that is the picture I have of her in my mind. One day she said to me, ‘we should be taking more note of what Paul says, and not just stay in the Gospels.’ These words have stayed in my mind.
Although I had more scriptural training than most, having deep teaching at this fellowship, and later in a missionary training school, I would read in Ephesians and the following epistles such things that were so above my experience and teaching – there had to be something more – there were wonderful things spoken about in these writings.
My father had always subscribed to the Christian newspaper ‘New Life’ and would pass it on to me. One day, many years later, as an adult, I noticed a very small advert which simply said ‘Why Paul?’ with an address for a pamphlet to be sent. That hit me, remembering what my mother had said. I asked for that and what came was the pamphlet with extra booklets, sent from the Berean Bible Fellowship. I devoured these, sent for the set of ‘An Alphabetical Analysis’ by Charles H Welch, read them right through, then re-read them – and the principle of right division dropped into my mind and heart, and settled there.
I believe my mother came to see this principle without putting words to it like we would now, of right division, apportioning the Scriptures to whom it was written, and what is for us today. Sadly she died aged 51 in 1968, too soon to have revelled in learning more, and having access to the teaching that we have today.
On a visit to Perth many years later, and in talking to my father about these things, he said he had often wondered how we could be both the body and the bride, and other puzzling contradictions. But he was becoming too frail to be able to do much study and reading for himself.
So I am thankful for having Christian parents, who faithfully lived out their Christian lives, to what they knew at the time, and were prepared to seek out deeper teaching. And I cannot imagine going back to the previous way of listening to preachers and teachers and reading the Bible myself, and not having the understanding to apportion scripture to what is meant for us today. It all makes so much more sense now.
I find the whole thing of us blessed with Christ in heavenly places quite amazing.