God was pleased in the beginning to take up human instruments to give us by inspired, or “God-breathed” words, the only reliable account of Creation, the origin of man, the fall through sin, God’s dealings with men, and by types, shadows, and prophecies, not only proved the guilt of the human race, but God’s great Redemption through the Coming One. Outstanding servants of God were later raised up to add to the testimonies already given in the earlier books of the Bible, foretelling the humble birth and suffering of the One who was to be called Emmanuel, and to tell of the glories of His coming Kingdom. The Old Testament closes with this all still unfulfilled, but during the four hundred years when the voice of inspiration was silent many events transpired which had been predicted in Daniel Chapter 8, especially the fall of Medo-Persia, the rise to power of the third great Gentile Kingdom—Greece—along with the awful persecution of the holy people, the godly among the Jews of that day. As the old dispensation closes with Rome the fourth world-power in evidence, we can easily see how Greece had arisen, shone, and passed into decay.
With the opening of the New Testament” once more the pen of inspiration is taken up to write the Book of the generation of Jesus Christ. That inspired history continued until the closing words of Revelation, in which the risen, glorified Lord proclaims, “Surely I come quickly”, and the Bride responds, “Amen, Even so, come, Lord Jesus.” The book closes thus and the Church still awaits the fulfillment of His promise.
It has pleased God to give in the Old Testament the biographies of a number of His honored servants, who obeyed and followed Him wholeheartedly at different times and under different circumstances. Some of these lives are summed up in a few verses, but others require chapters to describe their faithful testimonies and the victories they won for God. Moreover, their failures are not ignored, for mention is made of these and the grave consequences that followed. In Hebrews Chapter 11, where name after name is given of Old Testament worthies and what they accomplished through faith, we note that some did much, others did less, but all the recorded deeds were said to have been done by faith. Their failures however are not mentioned in that chapter and this is not without significance. God gives them their place in that great picture gallery so that they shine out in splendor in contrast to the darkness of their day. These honored servants of God are held up in the New Testament as a cloud of witnesses to encourage the saints of today to lay aside every weight and run with patience the race set before them. In 1 Corinthians 4:9, Paul refers to himself and his fellow laborers as “a spectacle (a theater) to the world, both to angels and to men” (Revised version), thus revealing to us the mighty conflict that is going on in the lives of saints, which angels as well as men can behold.
Although the canon of Holy Scripture is complete and the pen of inspiration has been laid down, the work of God has still gone on. Men down the centuries have been raised up who did exploits for God in their day and passed on to their reward, and some who knew them and their work have written accounts of their lives and labours. Inaccurate indeed may be the biographies written by the most godly men and women, as there is always the desire to eulogize the servant of Christ and speak only of the bright side, while the days of darkness and apparent barreness, which really were the means used by God to prepare His servant for His holy service, go unmentioned. But as Job said long ago, “My record is on high”. These words of his should be very forceful to each of us for in that true record of our lives all the deeds are faithfully recorded, as they will be seen at the Judgment Seat of Christ.
With the passing of Mr. W. J. McClure into the presence of the Lord on December 6, 1941, a long and devoted life in the service of Christ was brought to a close. He was a very outstanding servant of God, a bright and a shining light, whose ministry, oral and written, has been highly esteemed by the Lord’s people in many lands. We have known him intimately, have travelled with him, labored with him, and have been counselled by him. Yet, in undertaking this work of giving a condensed account of his life and labours, we feel much cast upon the Lord for guidance, so that the light which shone from God’s workmanship, as seen in this servant, might not be dimmed by words directed only to the man, and that his Lord whom he sought to exalt might alone get the glory. The Gospel received in his early life, wrought so effectually in him throughout the many years which followed, that it made him an “epistle known and read of all men”, and many through his godly testimony were stimulated and encouraged to pursue fellowship with God. If the Holy Spirit should graciously be pleased to use this little book, to the comfort and blessing of saints, and to the conversion of those still in darkness, it will give us unspeakable joy, for the Name of our Lord Jesus will be exalted thereby.