ZWT - 1912 - R4943 thru R5152 / R5088 (269) - September 1, 1912
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VOL. XXXIII SEPTEMBER 1 No. 17
A.D. 1912--A.M. 6040
The New Creature's Responsibility to
Condition of Heart Tested Continuously........271
The Two-Fold Trial of the New Creature........271
Purpose of Our Lord's Suffering...............273
Feet Washing as a Lesson in Humility..............273
Selfishness Even in Love......................274
The Act, Not the Institution of a
"Cast Not Away Your Confidence"...................275
Positive Character Necessary..................275
Increasing Severity of Trials.................276
"Another Voice From Heaven".......................277
Babylon--Mother and Daughters.................277
Who May Fall From Grace...........................278
Characteristics of a Sound Mind...................279
"It Is I, Be Not Afraid"..........................281
The Three Fault-Finders.......................282
God's Word, Not Man's.............................282
"Cup of Cold Water"...............................283
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THE NEW CREATURE'S RESPONSIBILITY TO DIVINE LAW
THE LAW COVENANT was a Covenant that God made with Israel, based upon the keeping of the Law, which was briefly expressed in the Ten Commandments. The Apostle Paul says that our Lord was born under the Law (`Gal. 4:4`); not under the Ten Commandments merely, but under the Law Covenant. This Law Covenant, the Apostle elsewhere shows, was that addition to the Abrahamic Covenant which was typified by Hagar and not by Sarah. Our Lord was under this Hagar Covenant, then--under the Law Covenant, the Covenant of the flesh--up to the time when He was thirty years of age.
We have no record whatever respecting our Lord's obedience to the Law before He became of age, although we have every reason to believe that He kept the Law Covenant. But the time of His special trial began at His baptism. The fact that God was willing to enter into a Covenant of sacrifice with our Lord shows that He was perfect at that time. Our Lord persisted in keeping the
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Law during the time of His ministry, and at the same time sacrificed those rights which were His because of keeping the Law.
With our Lord it was the same as with Adam. Jesus was perfect at the time of His baptism; therefore, no one could question His right to life. Consequently, God dealt with Him as with One who had life rights. But as Adam was placed on trial to see whether he would prove faithful, so our Lord Jesus was on trial during the three and a half years of His ministry, to prove His worthiness to retain His life rights. If He had failed to keep the Law any time during His ministry, He would have failed to have Divine approval. Likewise if He had failed to keep His Covenant of sacrifice He would have failed to make His calling and election sure.
CONDITION OF HEART TESTED CONTINUOUSLY
What our Lord did in this matter is on a parity with what each one of us does. We come to the Lord in the beginning and present ourselves living sacrifices; His acceptance of us and the imputation of His merit to us makes us perfect beings from the Divine standpoint. Everyone who is perfect in the flesh has a right to life, according to the Divine Law. But the fact that we have a right to life for the moment, does not prove that it will be everlasting.
At the end of the thousand years of Christ's reign the world will be actually perfect. They will then be subjected to a testing to prove whether or not this perfection is deep and abiding, whether or not it is the permanent condition of their hearts. So it was with our Lord. Before His consecration He certainly had no such trials and contradictions of sinners against Himself as He had afterwards. "Consider Him that endured such contradiction of sinners against Himself?" (`Heb. 12:3`.) Practically all His trials began at the time of His consecration. We have no reason to suppose that our Lord was undergoing a trial for life or death before His consecration.
When our Lord was thirty years old, He was holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners. His trial, which was to prove His worthiness, began at His consecration and continued until His death. For three years and a half the spirit of His mind was being tested. If during that time He had committed any sin whatever, would He have been accepted of God then? Surely not! He was on trial, not as an old creature, but as a New Creature, and His trial did not end until on the cross He cried, "It is finished!" This did not alter the fact, however, that He was still under the Law. The Law had dominion over Him as long as He lived. As a New Creature He did not have a body of the spirit kind. He had a human body, and was, therefore, responsible for everything that His human body would do.
It is just so with us. The body is reckoned dead in one sense of the word. As the Apostle says, "If ye be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above." Does this refer to us merely as New Creatures? Yes. Is not our flesh reckoned dead? Yes, but we are figuratively raised from the dead. (`Rom. 6:4,5`; `Col. 3:1`.) To whatever extent our bodies fall short of perfect obedience, Christ, as the great Advocate, makes good. So if any of us sin, we have an Advocate with the Father. No matter how trivial the sin may be, it is a sin. God keeps no accounts with the flesh, but holds the New Creature responsible. It is for these weaknesses of the flesh that the New Creature goes daily to the Lord and says, "Forgive us our trespasses." We have an Advocate with God, and if we sin we may come to God and obtain grace in every time of need.--`I John 2:1`; `Heb. 4:16`.
THE TWO-FOLD TRIAL OF THE NEW CREATURE
As we have seen, when our Lord made His consecration at His baptism, He was a perfect human being. When the Father accepted His sacrifice, He was begotten again; and He was to this degree a new soul, a New Creature--spirit. But He had this treasure of the new mind in an earthen vessel, and the New Creature was responsible for all that the old creature did. If the old
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creature had gotten Him into trouble, the New Creature would have been responsible.
As previously stated, our Lord was under the domination of the Law as long as He lived. The question then arises, How long did He live as a man? Our answer is that in a very important sense of the word He died at the time of His baptism; that is to say, He died so far as His human will was concerned, but His human body did not die. His human body, therefore, was still as liable to every Law as it had been before. He became a New Creature in the spirit of His mind, but a New Creature without a new body; and in the Divine arrangement the New Creature accepted and used the old earthly body, with all the responsibilities of that earthly body, whatever they might be.
In other words, the flesh has its law and its responsibilities. But as a New Creature our Lord was under an additional law. We are not to understand that as a New Creature He was released from the Ten Commandments. In his flesh He was a perfect human being, under the Law. As a New Creature He undertook to do more than merely keep the Law; and so the New Creature was on trial--not merely to prove whether the flesh would live up to the requirements of the Law, but whether the flesh should be brought into subjection to the higher law of the New Creation. Thus our Lord more than kept the Law--not less than kept the Law.
Jesus died to the Law Covenant, but not to the Law, at the time that He made His consecration. He was not relieved from His responsibility to the Law according to the flesh, but as a New Creature He gave up all hope, all anticipation, as respects that Law Covenant. When He gave up the human nature He would have no use for that which applied to the human nature, which He was giving up in order to get something better. Therefore, He died to the Law Covenant, not because He could not keep it, but because by becoming dead to that Covenant He might become alive to the Covenant of sacrifice. The blessings of that Law Covenant would have been merely earthly life. So when our Lord consecrated Himself, He sacrificed everything that went with the Law Covenant.
NO ADVOCATE FOR OUR LORD
If our Lord's human nature had failed to keep the Law, the New Creature would have been held responsible. It is the same with us, as we have illustrated before in the case of a man and his dog. The New Creature is like the man and the old creature like the dog. But the man is responsible for the dog. If the dog does damage or bites anyone, the owner is responsible. God has made a special arrangement for us, however, by which we may go to the throne of heavenly grace for the imperfections of the flesh, because we have an Advocate. But Jesus had no Advocate; and therefore any misdeed on the part of His flesh would be charged to Him directly, as He would be responsible for all the flesh might do.
As we have seen, our Lord at thirty years of age was a perfect man, accountable under the Law Covenant. When He had made a consecration and when that consecration had been accepted by the Father, He was counted alive as a New Creature and reckoned dead as an old creature. These facts should not cause us to lose sight of the other fact that He was not really a New Creature, but merely begotten to a new nature, and that He would not be entirely free from the earthly nature until He was actually dead.
So, then, as a New Creature our Lord was responsible for all of God's laws that applied to Him as a man. The fact that He had given up all the earthly hopes and ambitions and privileges did not give Him liberty to violate the Law of God; and therefore His passing from under the Law Covenant did not give Him liberty to break the Law.
Even so with us. We cannot trespass against our neighbor in any degree. The fact that we have become New Creatures in Christ makes us still more responsible for good behavior. We have need of the Lord's covering merit for every fleshly imperfection that we have. The very fact that we have need of that covering for our fleshly imperfections shows that our every thought, word and action are taken cognizance of by God; and since we are still imperfect, an arrangement is provided for us by which we may go to the Throne of Grace and have our weaknesses covered by our Lord's merit.
GRAVE RESPONSIBILITY RESTING ON OUR LORD
But our Lord had nothing to shield Him. Although He had given up all hope of human life, that He might have the spiritual blessings, yet He was responsible for every feature of the Divine Law.
The Divine Law has always existed. God always had certain laws of right and wrong; He Himself is under a law of righteousness. Our Lord Jesus and all the holy angels are subject to a law of righteousness. What ceased at our Lord's consecration was the Covenant promise of life which was based upon that Law and which had been won by our Lord. Since no imperfect being can keep that Law, another arrangement is made for us --a sacrificial arrangement, based upon our Lord's merit, imputed to us. "Gather My saints together unto Me; those who have made a Covenant with Me by sacrifice." --`Psa. 50:5`.
From the Divine standpoint our Lord kept the Law as a New Creature; from the human standpoint He kept it as an earthly creature. To God we are one thing; to men we are another. Before God Jesus had the standing of the New Creature. But He did not keep the Law merely in the spirit; He kept it in the letter as well. As for ourselves, we cannot keep the letter of the Law, but we must keep the spirit of it. Our Lord, being perfect,
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kept the Law both in spirit and in letter. Every act of obedience to the Law was credited to the New Creature, and any failure would have brought death. Even though the account was entered in the name of the New Creature, these acts of obedience were only credited to it. Just as a parent might put into the bank money for a child, the child does not have the money and cannot receive it until he becomes of age; so with our Lord. Everything that He did was put to His credit. And if He had done anything wrong, it would have been charged to the New Creature. "The wages of sin is death."--`Rom. 6:23`.
CHANGE OF NATURE A GRADUAL PROCESS
But had our Lord remained under the Law Covenant, He would not have become the heir; for the child of the bondwoman could not become heir with the son of the freewoman. (`Gal. 4:30`.) The son of the freewoman was the New Creature.
When our Lord made the Covenant of sacrifice at Jordan He passed from His position under the Law Covenant and from His fleshly relationship to Abraham, into the spiritual relationship and became the spiritual "Seed" of Abraham; for there He sacrificed all the blessings and favors which were His under the Law Covenant.
But we are to remember that in our Lord's case, this change of nature required three and a half years. He did not pass instantaneously from one relationship to the other, but by a process in which He was dying daily and
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also becoming alive daily. He had accepted the terms of the Covenant of sacrifice. During those three and one-half years, He was in the process of transfer from the Law Covenant to the Sacrificial Covenant. After He had fulfilled the terms of that Covenant, He was put to death in the flesh, and quickened in the spirit. (`I Peter 3:18`. R.V.) But He did not enter into the glorious station typified by Isaac until after His resurrection from the dead.
So it is with us. We renounce the earthly that we may share in the heavenly. But the change requires a period of time, during which we are dying daily and becoming more alive daily. We shall be made fully alive only in our resurrection, for flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God. (`I Cor. 15:50`.) While this change is not instantaneous, but by degrees, yet the Father dealt with our Lord from the moment of His consecration, and so He deals with us. We have the foretaste of the blessing now, but it will not be ours completely until the sacrifice shall have been finished. Our Lord's baptism did not constitute Him The Christ in the full sense of the word, but He was declared to be The Christ with power when He was raised upon the spirit plane.--`Rom. 1:4`.
PURPOSE OF OUR LORD'S SUFFERING
The Scriptures give us to understand that our Lord's sufferings produced a variety of results. First of all, those sufferings were in fulfilment of the Law, and by them He testified His obedience to the Law of God. He suffered for well-doing and not for evil-doing. Second, it was appropriate that He should prove to God His loyalty and faithfulness, so as to establish His worthiness to be made the great Messiah and to be granted the great power and glory which Messiah will exercise.
The Apostle Paul gives us this particular thought, when he says that it pleased God to make the Captain of our salvation perfect through suffering. (`Heb. 2:10`.) At the same time this suffering would demonstrate our Lord to be the great Messiah who would eventually lead the people out of sin and death. The Apostle also intimates that His sufferings were expedient and wise for the assistance of those who would be His followers, when he says that this High Priest was touched with a feeling of our infirmities, that He might be able to sympathize with those who are in trouble. He was faithful Himself, having gone through various trials and testings.-- `Heb. 4:15`.
When mankind come to know how it was that Messiah assumed control of the world, all humanity will have full confidence in Him--not only in the power with which He will rule His Kingdom, but also in His justice, His love and His mercy. He has been tempted in all points as the Church is, and therefore, not only can we have the benefit resulting from His experience, but the whole world in the future may also have an opportunity to appreciate it.
The sufferings of Jesus became a witness both to angels and to men. He gave the demonstration of the full extent of loyalty even unto death. As a reward the Father did not give Him merely the high position that He had at first, but exalted Him to His own right hand in the heavenly places, "Far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named" (`Eph. 1:21`); even to the divine nature. All this was a part of the Father's great Plan; and by our Lord's experiences we see that the Heavenly Father has demonstrated His Justice, His Power and His Love in a most marvelous way.
THE CHURCH'S EXPERIENCES SIMILAR TO OUR LORD'S
Our Lord's perfecting, indeed, was a little different from ours, and yet there is a similarity between the two. He was perfect before He humbled Himself; He was still perfect as the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself; but as a result of His consecration He received a begetting of the Holy Spirit to the divine nature, and His development as a New Creature required that He faithfully carry out His vow, or Covenant, of sacrifice, in the doing of the will of the Heavenly Father. By such faithfulness He perfected Himself on the divine plane--that is, He proved Himself worthy according to the Covenant-- "Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and blessing."--`Rev. 5:12`.
Similarly the followers of Jesus are to be sharers with Him of the sufferings of this present time and in the glories which shall follow, for "If we suffer [with Him] we shall also reign with Him." (`2 Tim. 2:12`.) Although we are imperfect in the flesh, while He was perfect, yet the Robe of His Righteousness, the merit of His sacrifice, covers all of our blemishes and makes us, as His footstep followers, holy and acceptable before the Father, as joint-sacrificers with Jesus.
The begetting of the Holy Spirit starts us in the life divine. We are not to be perfected in the flesh, but in the spirit; and our perfection and acceptance with the Father will be demonstrated by our loyalty of heart and the fulness and thoroughness with which we submit our all to the Divine will and seek to glorify God in our bodies and spirits, which are His. Our justification comes to us as a reward of faith, regardless of works, but our glorification will follow only as a reward for faithfulness--"Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life."--`Rev. 2:10`.
(Continued in next issue.)
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FEET-WASHING AS A LESSON IN HUMILITY
"Ye also ought to wash one another's feet."--`John 13:14`.
WE REMEMBER the occasion on which our Lord washed the feet of His disciples. The Lord and His twelve Apostles had met in the upper room to commemorate the Passover Supper. This feast was followed by the inauguration of the Memorial Supper, the bread and wine of which represented the body and the blood of our Lord Jesus. The disciples, full of the enthusiasm which had been incited for some days previous, were all at a loss to understand the sadness of our Lord Jesus. While He was saying, "My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death" (`Matt. 26:38`) and desiring that His baptism might be accomplished, they were inclined to think that He was taking a pessimistic view of matters.
During the five preceding days the disciples had witnessed the feast in the house of Lazarus, Martha and Mary, the breaking of the alabaster box of ointment, the riding on the ass, and the spreading of palm branches for the little animal to walk on, and the demonstration of the people, who had cried, "Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest!" (`Matt. 21:9`.) They had heard the Pharisees ask Jesus to put a stop to this demonstration. But He had said to them that if these people should hold their peace the very stones would cry out. (`Luke 19:40`.) To fulfil the
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prophecy (`Zech. 9:9`) there must be a shout, and there was a shout.
We remember that the little company went to the Temple, that the whole city was in commotion, that the rulers were impressed, and that they were afraid of the people. We remember that Jesus had gone into the Temple and had driven out those who sold merchandise; that when the Pharisees, the Sadducees and others tried to make Jesus appear confused, He had wisely turned all their arguments upon themselves; and that they dared not ask Him any more questions, for by so doing they would only make a bad matter worse.
From all these things it must have seemed to the Apostles that they were on the eve of attaining great prominence and that Jesus would be exalted. Therefore, they could not understand His attitude of sorrow. As an evidence, we have the fact that James and John went to Jesus and asked about the place they might occupy in the Kingdom. Could they be next to Him? There was no doubt in their minds that the Kingdom was near. They specially loved Him and would like to have the
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favor of being near Him. Others might not care so much where they were placed, but James and John would like to be close to the Master.
These were the thoughts uppermost in their minds. As a result, when they came to the upper room, they had not the humility of mind to take thought of serving. No doubt it was the custom of the Jews to have a servant to minister to the comfort of the guests. But there was no servant here and not one of them had the humility of mind to offer to be the servant. Apparently they not only did not have the disposition to serve one another, but they did not desire to wash even the Master's feet.
SELFISHNESS EVEN IN LOVE
Since it is difficult for us to gage our own hearts thoroughly, we should use great charity in measuring the hearts and intentions of others, and should err on the side of too great sympathy and leniency rather than on that of too strong condemnation. Doubtless had the Apostles been asked as to their motives and conduct, they would have denied that these were selfish, and would have spoken only of their zeal for the Lord and their desire to be near Him. This illustrates to us what the Scriptures declare, that the human heart is exceedingly deceitful, and that it requires careful scrutiny, lest under the cloak of good motives, it harbor qualities which, if recognized, it would spurn.
Apparently our Lord let the matter go to its full limit to see whether or not any of His followers would improve the opportunity to make himself servant of all. He waited until supper was being served (not ended as in our common Version); then, arising from the table, He laid aside His mantle and got a basin and a towel. Then, girding up His garments to keep them from getting into the water, He proceeded to wash their feet.
We can well imagine the consternation of the Apostles as they watched the procedure, and then saw the Lord go from the feet of one to those of another, as they protruded from the couches on which the Apostles reclined. The method of feet-washing at that time was different from that of today. The water was poured from a pitcher in a small stream upon the feet, which were washed and rinsed. The basin was merely a receptacle for receiving the soiled water.
OUR LORD'S ACT A DEEP SPIRITUAL LESSON
This act was a pointed reproof for their neglect to wash His feet and one another's. They were all silent until He came to St. Peter. When our Lord paused before him, St. Peter said, "Thou shalt never wash my feet!" St. Peter had too much reverence to wish the Lord to be his servant. He had as a natural trait, more than had some of the others, that courage, or boldness, which led him to speak out. But the Lord said to him, "If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with Me." (`John 13:8`.) St. Peter did not understand how this washing would give him a part with the Lord, but he said eagerly, "Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head," if this gives me a more particular part with You. The Lord answered him, "He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit." I am doing all that is necessary. What I am doing you do not understand now, but you shall understand hereafter.--See `verses 7-10`.
In all this the Lord was giving a deep spiritual lesson --that no one is naturally fit for the Kingdom. Each one needs to be washed, to be cleansed, before he can be a joint-sufferer, before he can be a joint-heir. He must be a joint-sacrificer in order to become a member of The Christ. Jesus said to His disciples, You have witnessed My humility in this matter, and now I want to tell you that you ought to have this attitude toward one another. You should have been careful for even the humblest one in your number. Whether or not it was by washing My feet and those of all the others, you should have done whatever was necessary for the refreshment of the company.
THE ACT NOT THE INSTITUTION OF A CEREMONY
We are to remember that things were different then from what they are today. Because of the wearing of sandals, the feet would be considerably soiled even after only a short journey and would, therefore, need refreshing. It was the custom that the servant should come forth and make the guests comfortable--not to the inconvenience of the traveler, but to his further comfort. This was a menial service, which afforded Jesus the opportunity to impress upon His Apostles the lesson of the necessity of humility in all the members of the Body of Christ.
We do not get a lesson of the institution of a formal ceremony. It was only a case of necessity, of which the Lord took advantage to give a lesson of humility. No such need exists with us today. Our streets are paved and we wear shoes that are closely laced and are sufficient protection. So there is no necessity to wash each other's feet, at a public gathering, to have a public exhibition of feet-washing.
The incident affords a lesson in humility to us as well as it afforded one to the Apostles. We should be glad to do any service, even to the humblest of the members of Christ, in whatever way the opportunity may come. There is no suggestion in the Scriptures that feet-washing was ever done as a ceremony. We have an intimation, however, that feet-washing was a custom in Palestine. In `I Tim. 5:9-16`, we read that if a widowed sister had washed the saints' feet, meaning that if she had shown such a disposition, St. Paul would advocate a special care for such a sister in need; for she had manifested a loyal and true spirit.
There are some very good Christian people who have adopted feet-washing as a religious custom. We are not to berate them unnecessarily for following their consciences. Rather we should say to them that so long as they think they are doing the Lord's will, they are right to follow the custom; but that the Scriptures relate only this one case where the feet-washing was done in public, and it was very unlikely, therefore, that it was ever done in public by the Church except on this occasion. As the
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commandment, "Thou shalt not kill," has a deeper meaning than that one shall not take the life of another, so this washing of feet has a deeper meaning. Throughout His ministry Jesus indicated the deeper thought by His treatment of others; He lightened the burden and happified the condition of those with whom He came in contact. So we should do all in our power for the consecrated ones, members of Christ's Body.
OUR RESPONSIBILITY TO ONE ANOTHER
This lesson suggests that the members of Christ's Body should have a mutual watch-care over one another's welfare; to keep each other pure, holy, clean and to assist one another in overcoming the trials, temptations and besetments of this present evil world, arising from the three sources of temptation--the world, the flesh and the Devil. Only as we cultivate the various graces of the Spirit--meekness, gentleness, patience, brotherly-kindness, love--can we hope to be specially helpful to others in putting on these adornments of character and purities of life, and in getting rid of the defilements of the world and of the flesh.
It requires peculiar qualifications to enable us to assist each other in this respect. Before we can help others to cleanse their way of life in every little particular, so that every thought, word and deed shall be brought into subjection to the Divine will, it is necessary that we have experience along the same lines. Only as we cultivate purity of thought, word and deed in our own lives, only as we put on the various graces of the Spirit, can we wash the feet of the saints.
Many who would reject well-meant criticism of conduct, who would resent well-meant offers of assistance to a higher standard of character, as interferences with their private business, would be very amenable to the influence of the same person if he approached them with such evidences of true devotion and loving interest as would be indicated by the performance of some menial act. It is the sympathetic ones who are most successful in helping the various members of the Body of Christ out of the besetments and difficulties incident to the following of the Lord in the present time. Oh, let us study and strive and pray that we may be very successful in obeying the Master's injunction, "Ye also ought to wash one another's feet!"
How many opportunities we have for comforting, refreshing, consoling and assisting one another in some of the humblest affairs of daily living or in respect to some of the unpleasant duties, experiences or trials of life! By love we are to serve one another, but not as a mere formality. Any service done or attempted to be done in love, with the desire to do good to one of the Lord's people, has, we may be sure, the approval of the Head of the Church.
Let us lose no opportunities of this kind; let us remember the Master's example. Let us not merely assume the guise of humility, but let us actually have that grace of character which will enable us to do kindnesses and service to all with whom we come in contact. Then we shall all the more enjoy this privilege as we find the needy ones to be members of the Body of Christ--The Christ.
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"CAST NOT AWAY YOUR CONFIDENCE"
"Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompense of reward."--`Hebrews 10:35`.
WITH VERY MANY of God's people, as well as with the world's people, the ideal Christian life is one of constant peace and tranquility. They have never learned that "the peace of God which passeth all [worldly] understanding," promised to the Christian, is to rule in and keep his heart (`Phil. 4:7`; `Col. 3:15`), but does not apply to his outward life. They forget, or perhaps never learned, that our Master's words were, "In the world ye shall have tribulation, but in Me ye shall have peace" [in your hearts]. "If the world hate you, ye know that it hated Me before it hated you." "If they have called the Master of the house Beelzebub, how much more them of His household?" "Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus [in this present world, or dispensation], shall suffer persecution." It is of a wicked class, and not of the saints, that the Prophet declared, "They are not in trouble as other men."--`John 16:33`; `15:18`; `Matt. 10:25`; `2 Tim. 3:12`; `Psa. 73:5`.
Only to those who have some knowledge of God's great Plan is His dealing with His people understandable and readable. The world marvels that those whom God receives into His family, as sons by redemption and adoption, should be required or even permitted to suffer afflictions. But to the well-instructed saint the Apostle says, "Think it not strange concerning the fiery trial that shall try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you." (`I Pet. 4:12`.) And this saint may now clearly discern the object and utility of present trials, afflictions and persecutions. He sees that these are in fullest accord with his high calling, his heavenly calling --to be an heir of God and a joint-heir with Jesus Christ our Lord, "if so be that we suffer with Him, that we may be also glorified together."--`Rom. 8:17`.
But why should a share in the coming glory be made dependent upon present sufferings? We answer, For two reasons:
POSITIVE CHARACTER NECESSARY
(1) Severe trials and testings of our love for God and for His Truth, and of our faith in Him and in His promises, are only a wise provision on God's part, in view of the very high honor and responsibility of the great office to which He has called us. If it was proper that our Lord and Redeemer should be tested in all points as to faith and obedience before His exaltation to the excellent glory and power of the divine nature, much more so it is fitting that we, who were once aliens and strangers, far from God, and children of wrath even as others, should be thoroughly tested.
We are not tested as to the perfection of our earthen vessels, for God and we well know that in our fallen flesh dwelleth no perfection; but tested as to our new minds, our consecrated wills, whether or not these are fully consecrated to the Lord, firmly established in the love of truth, purity and righteousness in general. We are also tested to see whether we will compromise any of the principles of righteousness for worldly favor, selfish ambition, or for any of "the pleasures of sin for a season." Those who love righteousness and hate iniquity, who develop positive characters, these are the "overcomers" who shall, as members of Christ, inherit all things. The undecided, the lukewarm--neither cold nor hot--are far from having the spirit of the Kingdom class, and will surely be rejected--"spewed out."--`Rev. 3:16`.
LOVE, NOT SELFISHNESS, THE RULING PRINCIPLE
(2) A share in the coming glory is dependent upon present sufferings, for the reason that the coming glories are to be bestowed only upon those who have the Spirit
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of Christ, the spirit of holiness. And whoever has received this Holy Spirit, or disposition, and has been transformed by the renewing of his mind, or will, so that no longer selfishness but love shall rule over his thoughts and words and deeds, that person, if in the world at all, could not avoid present suffering. His love for God, his zeal for God's service and people, his faith in God's Word and his uncompromising attitude respecting everything relating to these, would be so greatly in contrast with the prevalent spirit of doubt, selfishness and compromise that he would be thought peculiar, called an extremist and a fanatic, if not a hypocrite.
Evil surmisings, out of hearts not fully consecrated, will attribute every good deed to some selfish or evil motive, and, therefore, "Ye shall be hated of all men for My [Christ's] name's sake"; for "the world knoweth [understandeth] us not, because it knew Him not." (`Luke 21:17`; `I John 3:1`.) The reason for all this is evident: it is because "the god of this world hath blinded the eyes" of the vast majority of men; because the faithful, who appreciate the Truth, who have new hearts (wills) and the right spirit on these subjects, are but a "little flock."
PRESENT CONDITIONS MOST FAVORABLE FOR
These conditions will not be changed until the testing of the "little flock" is finished. God will permit evil to be in the ascendancy until that testing, sifting, refining and polishing of the Bride of Christ is fully accomplished. Then Satan shall be bound for a thousand years, and not be permitted to blind and deceive the nations during the Millennial Age of blessing; but, on the contrary, the "little flock" of overcomers, with Christ, their Lord and Head, will bless all the families of the earth with a full knowledge of the Truth.
Therefore, dear brethren and sisters, let us give heed to the Apostle's words, and not cast away our confidence --confidence in God, in the outworking of His great Plan, and in all who trust in the precious blood and are bringing forth the fruits of the Spirit in their daily lives --meekness, patience, brotherly kindness, love.
CONFIDENCE THE BASIS OF CHRISTIAN EFFORT
With some of the Lord's people, however, there is a tendency to become discouraged, to think that they may have been unfaithful and thus to lose their peace of mind. In some instances, this feeling of discouragement leads to such fear and distress that the Second Death is apprehended. The Apostle seems to have in mind this condition. We are surrounded with imperfection of both judgment and conduct; and those who have a proper estimate of themselves must know that they come far short of the Divine standard and of their own vow of consecration. This knowledge should tend to make all very humble, and very generous in considering others, but not to discourage us.
St. Paul exhorts all such, saying, "Cast not away your confidence." Let such remember that the fact that they have received this Divine favor is an indication that their offering has had Divine acceptance. Faith, or confidence, in God and in the "great and precious promises" is the very basis of all Christian endeavor. Without this faith one cannot fight a good fight. In proportion as the promises are before our minds, in that proportion we have strength and courage to run the narrow way.
If a follower of the Lord has been thus discouraged or has felt that his expectations have not been realized, he should not be weary in well doing. He should go to the Lord in prayer and renew his vow of consecration. He should rise from the ashes of discouragement and lift the cross with renewed zeal. He should endeavor to walk on a higher plane than ever. If he lose confidence, lose faith, he will easily be overcome by the Adversary.
The very ones whom God will approve are those who walk by faith. The rewards are for those who hold the faith even unto death. We must beware of everything that tends to weaken or destroy our faith. The Lord deals graciously and generously with us. He will do for us whatever is right. Knowing this we can have confidence in God, even though the decision of Divine Justice should bar us out of Divine favor. Those whose hearts are right are submissive to the Divine will. The Lord wants us to have a faith that will continue in sorrow and in sunshine; that will trust where it cannot see, that will continue under all the leadings of Divine providence.
COMMUNION WITH CHRIST IN SUFFERING
In `Hebrews 10:32-39` the Apostle clearly shows that there are two ways of enduring the afflictions of Christ: (1) to be made a gazing-stock both by afflictions and reproaches, and (2) by avowing our sympathy for the reproached ones and thus sharing their reproaches and afflictions. For if one member suffer, all the members of the Body of Christ suffer with it.
"Call to remembrance the former days," and note that your afflictions and trials came principally after you had been illuminated with the light of the knowledge of God, shining in the face of Jesus Christ our Lord; and that they have increased as the light of Present Truth has increased with you. It is not difficult to discern the reason for this. The great Adversary is not interested in disturbing those who are "asleep in Zion"; but he is ever on the alert to mislead and entangle those who are awake. And the more active we become in the service of the Lord and the Truth, and, consequently, the more actively opposed to Satan and error, the more he will fight against us. And the more faithfully and vigorously we fight the good fight, as good soldiers of the Lord Jesus Christ, the more we shall have of the Master's approval now, and the greater will be our reward in the Kingdom.
INCREASING SEVERITY OF TRIALS
No doubt there are many and more severe trials just before us. From God's standpoint, having been blest with greater light, we should be able to endure greater trials and afflictions. From Satan's standpoint we, as a Gideon's band, armed with the Truth, are more injurious to his cause than all others combined. The only wonder to us is that he has not assailed us still more fiercely in the past. Perhaps he was hindered; perhaps he will be granted yet more liberty to buffet us, as the night draws on. Such is our expectation, based upon the direct statements and the types of Scripture.
But such reflections should bring us no sadness, no fear; for He that is on our part is more than all that be against us. (`I John 4:4`; `Rom. 8:31`.) His promises, as well as His providences, are walls of salvation and protection on every hand. What shall separate us from the love of God in Christ? Shall tribulation? No! it shall but cause us to draw closer to Him; and under His protecting care we shall rest. His grace is sufficient for us. His strength is made manifest in our weakness. When we feel weak in ourselves, then we are strong in Him. He will never leave us nor forsake us.
"Watchman, what of the night?" "The morning cometh, and also the night."--`Isa. 21:11,12`.
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"ANOTHER VOICE FROM HEAVEN"
"Come out of her, My people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues."--`Rev. 18:4`.
THE REVELATION of our Lord to St. John is a Book of signs, in which the things stated symbolize the things meant. To illustrate: In this Book a woman is used to represent a Church--a pure woman a pure Church, a false woman an apostate Church. In `Rev. 17:1-6` a picture is given of a false woman, disloyal to her engagement, and therefore no longer worthy to be the Bride of Messiah. This unfaithful woman is branded "Babylon." We read that she sat upon a beast, a symbolic statement of her control of the power at Rome.
In her hand this woman held a golden cup full of abominations, and thus symbolically she is represented as making all nations drunk with the wine of false doctrine. The cup suggests that the unfaithful Church, symbolized by this woman, had once been the receptacle of Divine Truth--"Babylon hath been a golden cup in the Lord's hands." (`Jer. 51:7`.) In `Revelation 17:5` she is called "The Mother of Harlots"--a term suggesting a mother church, and daughter churches which are said to closely resemble the mother. As the mother was called "Babylon," the daughters--so like their mother--bear also the family name.
BABYLON--MOTHER AND DAUGHTERS
All about us we see the fulfilment of this prophecy. We see that the daughter systems have proceeded out of the mother system; that they are all developed from her. In Pittsburgh, some years ago, a very prominent Presbyterian minister said, "Wince as you will, you must admit that this [the Catholic Church] is the Mother Church. She possesses an unbroken history extending back to the times of the Apostles. For every fragment of religious truth which we prize, we are indebted to her as the depository. If she has no claim to being the true Church, then are we bastards and not sons."
A fair examination of the denominations shows that they are more or less in sympathy with the mother system. `Revelation 18` traces the history of the Apostate Church and foretells that Babylon--both Papal and Protestant systems--will fall. But the Lord has a true Church, to which He says, "Come out of her, My people!" In other words, the saints of God are scattered throughout the denominations. But now, in the closing of the Age, God sends forth the Message that His people shall no longer remain in the denominations; for the time is coming when the doom of Babylon will be upon her and she will fall.--`Isa. 13:1-22`.
PROPHECY A GRAPHIC PICTURE OF HISTORY
When we examine the Scriptures with the purpose of understanding prophecy, we find that during the Jewish Age, God made various types and pictures. The Jews themselves were typical. The Scriptures also show that there are two Israels, one of which is to be as the "stars of heaven" and the other as the "sand of the seashore." (`Gen. 22:17`; `Isa. 8:14`; `I Cor. 10:18`; `Gal. 6:16`.) Natural Israel was used of God to make types of the spiritual things--the "better things." Their Jubilee years were types of the antitypical Jubilee of better times; their Levitical priesthood was a type of the Priesthood in glory, etc.
During the great Babylonian captivity the Jews were compelled to live in Babylon, to be a part of her, to support her, although their bondage was not severe. So today God's people are required to stay in Mystical Babylon, be a part and parcel of Babylon; to support some of her wards and denominations. Therefore it becomes a difficult matter to flee out of Babylon. But we find in the Scriptures graphic pictures of what is coming upon Mystic Babylon, and those who would escape must flee. As Cyrus, a type of Christ, overthrew Babylon, so a part of the work of the Second Advent will be the overthrow of antitypical Babylon.--`Jer. 51:6`; `Rev. 18:21`.
BABYLON THE SYMBOL OF CONFUSION
Originally "Babylon" signified "Gate of God." But the word came subsequently to have the meaning of confusion, mixture; and in this sense it is used in the Revelation. Babylon is a symbol of confusion. God's people in Babylon are dishonored; they are held in restraint. Now, through the prophecy we hear the command, "Come out of her, My people!" This call applies not only to those in Babylon the Great, but to those in other denominations --mother and daughters. "Come out of her, My people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues." (`Rev. 18:4`.) Be not of those who cannot see the errors of Babylon and who, consequently, are not of the called ones.
The object of the call to come out is not for people merely to withdraw from a nominal Church; but whenever any true Christian comes to see the error in which he has been held, and which Babylon has taught, he will see that he will misrepresent not only himself and the denomination to which he belongs, but also the Heavenly Father and the Word of God, if he remains connected with what he sees to be error. As he realizes his position, the voice of the Lord through His Word tells him that he must stand for truth and righteousness.
No one is called out of Babylon until he sees her true condition. So then, never urge anyone to come out of Babylon; for if they have "ears to hear," God's voice tells them plainly to take this step, and gives the reason why they should do so. This Book of Revelation shows us by symbols that dire trouble is coming upon Babylon. The nominal Church claims that Christ's Kingdom was set up hundreds of years ago. Consequently, they are not looking for Christ to come to establish His Kingdom, for they think that He set up His Kingdom at the time of His First Advent.
"GATHER MY SAINTS TOGETHER UNTO ME"
The expression, "Come out of her," signifies that the Lord's people are to separate from all things which are in conflict with the Divine Word. We are to come out of the errors and systems of error which are contrary to the Word of God. But we are not to organize another denomination, for the original call was to membership in the Body of Christ.
"Come out of her, My people," is a call to associate with Christ, with Messiah. This call is given by the Lord through the Prophet when He says, "Gather My saints together unto Me; those that have made a Covenant with Me by sacrifice." (`Psa. 50:5`.) They were to be gathered, not to the Roman or other systems, but to the Lord, to become one with Him. Therefore they could not be gathered to all these different denominations, nor to any one of them. Those who hear the call should come out of Babylon and take their stand with the Lord. They are no longer to be mis-representatives of God and of themselves.
Those who see these things and have sufficient courage will come out. Those who see these things and lack the courage to come out are more responsible than are the
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majority of people who are in Babylon, but who do not see. If those who see do not have sufficient courage to obey the Lord, they will surely receive of her plagues by remaining in, and will probably have a large share in the punishments of the day of vengeance.
MANY BECOMING IRRELIGIOUS
Many people who have been identified with the different denominations are not coming into the Truth, but are becoming irreligious. They are by no means bad people; and they feel convinced that there has been a great error connected with Christianity. They repudiate much that Babylon does and says. Babylon claims that she has civilized the world; but she forgets that civilization existed before Christianity began. She forgets that Jews are just as civilized as Christians; and that Mohammedans are more temperate than many so-called Christians. By no means do we wish to say anything against whatever good people have received from her. If they get a still further blessing, they will probably find that while the blessing which they previously had was better than a message from heathendom, yet Babylon's best is far inferior to the Truth, the Light.
Dearly beloved, we are permitted to enjoy wonderful things! By the grace of God, we are privileged to see the meaning of things that were once mysterious, not only to us, but to our parents. While some in Babylon are going into infidelity, some out of Babylon are becoming stronger spiritually, entering by hope "into that which is within the veil." If Christ is our Forerunner, we shall enter there with Him. To do so will mean to become partakers of The Messiah, by becoming the Bride of Messiah, as symbolically represented. The true Church is to become associated with Christ in His Kingdom. Then will come the promised blessings to "all the families of the earth."
As we perceive the consistency of the Divine Plan of the Ages, our hearts are full of thanksgiving to God. We see that the New Dispensation will be ushered in with "a Time of Trouble such as never was"; and that this Time of Trouble is located, among other ways, by that prophecy which tells that "Many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased"; that there will be a time of trouble; but that "the wise shall understand." From what source do the wise receive their instruction? They will understand according to the wisdom from on high-- in humility accepting the Divine Word and being blessed in so doing.--`Dan. 12:4,10`.
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WHO MAY FALL FROM GRACE
ONE WHO is down cannot fall. Originally Father Adam was up; that is to say, he was perfect, created in God's likeness, free from sin. He was in God's favor, and while in that condition, he was on trial for life or death. He sinned and fell from favor into disfavor--condemnation, death. His posterity, the whole human race, have been born in God's disfavor. They are fallen. As we read, "I was shapen in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me." (`Psa. 51:5`.) By nature mankind are all children of wrath. They cannot fall any further down; for as it is written, "The whole world lieth in the Evil One."--`I John 5:19`. --Diaglott.
But something occurred which has raised a portion of the race of mankind from the fallen condition. Christ came into the world, gave His life a Ransom-price, and ascended into heaven "to appear in the presence of God." (`Heb. 9:24`.) Thus far, however, He has appeared only for us, not for the world, but for all those who have trusted in the precious blood of Christ. His appearance for these enables them to approach God, to become disciples of Christ and to receive the begetting of the Holy Spirit.
This is the attitude in which we stand: we have accepted the Redeemer, we are seeking to walk in His steps, we are lifted up out of condemnation, we are no longer dead in Adam. "You hath He quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins." (`Eph. 2:1,2`.) Once we were strangers and foreigners, but having been "made nigh by the blood of Christ" we are now members of the Body of Christ. (`Eph. 2:12,13`.) So, then, we are children of God by adoption.
After Adam had fallen, he was regarded as an enemy of God. But we have come near to God through Christ. We are "accepted in the Beloved," accounted worthy of life everlasting, if we are faithful; for eternal life is the gift of God. (`Eph. 1:6`; `Rom. 6:23`.) The Church, then, have come back from the fallen state; but the world remains in that condition and, therefore, cannot fall. The only ones who can do so are those who are the recipients of the Holy Spirit.
The manner of life here during the present existence may indeed affect the opportunity and future destiny of the world. If they knowingly violate obligations, they sin against light and they injure their characters; but they cannot sin away their share of the merit of Christ's sacrifice, for they have not yet received that share. Only the consecrated children of God are in the position to do so; as the Apostle points out, "It is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good Word of God and the powers of the world to come, if they shall fall away, to renew them again to repentance."--`Heb. 6:4-6`.
This thought will well bear repetition: The only class that can fall away are those who have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit; but if any of those who have been brought into full harmony with God, through the begetting of the Holy Spirit, neglect or misuse their blessed privilege, there remains for them no more an interest in the great Atonement; because they have received their portion in Christ's redemptive work.
KNOWLEDGE BRINGS RESPONSIBILITY
The only evidence there is at the present time that we are begotten of the Holy Spirit is the fact that we have "received the spirit of adoption whereby we cry, Abba, Father." (`Rom. 8:15`.) The world, having had no life in them, cannot lose what they never possessed. But as for us, "If we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the Truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. He that despised Moses' Law died without mercy under two or three witnesses. Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy who hath trodden the Son of God under foot and hath counted the blood of the Covenant wherewith he was sanctified an unholy thing and hath done despite unto the spirit of grace?"--`Heb. 10:26-29`.
Only those who have been sanctified through the blood of the Covenant can do despite to it. Only those who have a knowledge of the Son of God can "trample Him under foot." The world in its ignorance cannot do these
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things. So, "If we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the Truth" (not if the world sin wilfully, but if we sin wilfully), there remaineth no longer a share for us in the sacrifice of Christ.
For the others, there would still remain their share in the sacrifice of Christ, and their responsibility will be in proportion to their knowledge. We have large responsibility, because we have large knowledge. We have tasted of the Holy Spirit, we have been made partakers of it. The Apostle says that "those who despised Moses' Law died without mercy." There was nothing more for them then. They did not get eternal torment for disobedience to Moses, but theirs was the death penalty. Those who thus died will, nevertheless, have their share in the redemptive work of Christ.
Those who died under the Law will eventually have an opportunity to receive God's grace in Christ Jesus. But if they were cut off from life under the typical penalty of death, how much more severe would the penalty be upon those who have the understanding and enlightenment through the antitypical Moses--Christ! The intimation of the Scriptures is that such will die the Second Death for wilful disobedience. For such there is no hope of recovery whatever. Let this solemn thought be made emphatic. There will be a recovery from the death by Moses' Law. But for those who die the Second Death, there will be nothing further. They have had their share in the Atonement. They have counted the blood of the Covenant with which they were sealed an unholy thing. "Christ...dieth no more!"--`Rom. 6:9`.
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CHARACTERISTICS OF A SOUND MIND
"God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind."--`2 Tim. 1:7`.
IN THIS TEXT St. Paul is addressing the children of God--those who have left the world, who have turned their backs upon the things of sin and selfishness, who have been begotten of the Holy Spirit because of full consecration to God and to whom the Advocate has imputed His merit. They have received of His Spirit, the new mind, and so have the spirit of a sound mind.
In the beginning of the Gospel Age there were marked manifestations of the Holy Spirit, known as "the gifts of the Spirit" (`I Cor. 12:4-11`), such as knowledge, healing, miracles, tongues, etc. These gifts were bestowed at that time for two reasons: first, to witness who were God's people; and second, to confirm the faith of the early Church. They were necessary that the Church might have a start, so to speak.
The Apostle says that these miraculous gifts were to continue only for a time, but that the fruits of the spirit were to abide--meekness, patience, gentleness, brotherly kindness, faith, hope and love, the greatest of all. (`I Cor. 13`.) The gifts of the Spirit died out with the death of the Apostles and of those also upon whom they had conferred the gifts. But the fruits and graces remain to this day.
Just as soon as we have been begotten of the Holy Spirit a transforming work begins with us. But in general the reception of the Spirit is at first without marked manifestation. We grow in knowledge, love and all the fruits of the Spirit, in proportion as we have received the Holy Spirit, which is given in order to develop our minds and hearts and to do a transforming work, bringing forth the fruitage of the spirit in our characters and our lives. With some of us the fruitage develops rapidly; with others, slowly.
The grape-vine gives us gifts in that it bears grapes. As fruit-bearing in nature is in one sense of the word a miracle, so also are the fruits and graces of the Spirit which show in our lives, but which are such a gradual development that they do not seem to be miraculous.
The Lord is the true Vine and His true disciples are the branches. The Spirit of the Vine must permeate all the branches, and the fruit of the Vine must appear on every branch. The one thing necessary to remember is that our ultimate blessing and acceptance of the Father depends upon our abiding continually in this blessed relationship of branches in the Vine and our bearing fruit. If we fail to do this, we shall not remain in this relationship. But if we bear the fruits of the Spirit abundantly, we shall some day be branches in the glorified Vine--The Christ of God.
FEAR A FORM OF SELFISHNESS
In our text the Apostle is discussing the character of this Spirit which God has given us. It is not the spirit of fear, not the spirit of dread, not the spirit of timidity. Where the spirit of selfishness goes, there is more or less fear accompanying it. We can realize that with our first parents the spirit of fear led them to hide themselves from the Lord. We recall that Cain feared and fled. (`Gen. 3:10`; `4:14`.) So all down through the ages, the spirit of fear has exerted a powerful influence upon mankind. If a storm comes up, many people act as if they feared that
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it was something sent especially after them.
All fear, being a manifestation of one form of selfishness, is made up of the elements of self-love. People fear lest they may lose some of the things which they selfishly desire to retain. The spirit of many of the heathen as well as of many in Christian lands is a spirit of fear. They are serving God, not from a desire to be co-laborers in His work, but from fear. They have been taught that they ought to go to Church. They know not what God might do to them if they were to neglect to go. Some ministers have said, "If I believed, as you do, that there is no eternal torture, I would do all the wicked things imaginable." They show by these words that they are not impulsed by a Holy Spirit, but by a spirit of fear, a spirit that belongs to sin. The spirit of fear does not come from God.
There is, of course, a holy fear--a fear to do anything to offend God or to offend a friend. And we ought to be afraid of offending a friend, afraid of hurting or injuring a friend or anybody. If we love our Heavenly Father, we ought to fear to do anything to displease Him.
In `Hebrews 4:1` the Apostle says, "Let us fear, lest a promise being left us of entering into His rest, any of you should seem to come short of it." Let us not fear evil-- but let us fear lest we fail to attain the blessings promised to the overcomers. God will give those blessings only to those who reach a certain development of character. But the fear of the world is wholly improper. If any of the Lord's people have that fear, they have received it from some other source than the spirit of Truth.
TRANSFORMING INFLUENCE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
The Apostle proceeds to tell us what this Spirit of the Lord has brought to us. It has been a spirit of power, of strength. All who are seeking to walk after the Spirit and have a knowledge of the Lord's love--these He will not
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forsake, but will deliver them from evil. These have a courageous spirit, or influence of mind proceeding from this spirit of power. It gives them such energy that they are able to do more than otherwise they could. They astonish themselves. They have the peace of God to work in them to will and to do His good pleasure.-- `Phil. 2:13`.
Those who receive the Truth are very different from what they were before they had received its spirit; and as a rule their neighbors and friends discern the change. Where a wife comes to the knowledge of the Truth, her husband is often surprised to find how much more firmness she has for everything that is right. This firmness is not a spirit of arrogance, but a spirit of assurance that God is able and willing to work things together for good. It is the same with the husband. Many wives have seen how much the Truth has strengthened the husband. This change is due to the spirit of power which the Lord has given His people. In proportion as we get this spirit, we get this power. Of course, some characters are naturally strong, but the Truth will make them stronger. Others naturally weak are made so much stronger that they surprise their friends and neighbors.
All who have been in the School of Christ seem to make like development. They become better people than they have ever been before. They are not necessarily better looking, but the Spirit of the Lord helps them to keep their clothes tidy and neat. It helps them to be more particular as to what they say and how they say it. It influences their words, actions, conduct--everything. It makes them more patient, brotherly-kind. All these qualities are manifested increasingly.
Some who have been a little while in the Lord's service have been remarked upon by others. They say, "These are a very intelligent people. Where did they get their vocabulary? They are not well educated, yet how much they know of affairs in the world! They seem to have a general knowledge of everything." God's Word gives this broad knowledge, and His Spirit gives us power to use this knowledge and to appropriate it to ourselves, for we see it to be the Word of the Lord.
We receive the spirit of love also. The Apostle says that the Spirit of God is the spirit of love, because "God is Love." (`I John 4:8`.) God's Spirit is God's mind, God's disposition, God's influence. Since God is love, His Spirit must partake of all the qualities which go to make up love.
In proportion to the measure of the Holy Spirit which we have, we shall have love--first, toward God; secondly, to the children of God; thirdly, to our neighbors and friends, and lastly it will extend even to our enemies. It would lead us to be considerate of birds and beasts also. The spirit of love has a generally benevolent influence. Whatever affects the thoughts is sure to affect the words. Whoever has the spirit of love will manifest its influences and will become more loving and more lovable as that spirit increases.
DISREGARD FOR THE RIGHTS OF OTHERS A FORM OF
Finally, the Apostle brings in the spirit of a sound mind. Man was created with a well-balanced mind. Adam and Eve did not need an outward record of God's Law. They had the sense of right and wrong so well defined in their minds that they knew right from wrong intuitively. But when they fell, they lost this balance of mind.
As we come down the centuries from their day to ours, we find that this keen sense of right and wrong has become dull. Thus in cannibal lands the inhabitants believe it right to eat each other. They think that if they feed on enemies who are strong, they will be made strong. This utter disregard for the rights of others is the spirit of selfishness. We see this spirit manifested in civilized lands also, where they do not eat up the enemy literally, but eat up his fortune, his reputation.
Our Lord said that while the Pharisees were very particular to give a full tenth of the mint, anise and cummin, yet they had omitted the weightier matters of the Law-- judgment, mercy and faith. He showed that the Law which says, "Love thy neighbor as thyself," is more important than the giving of tithes. He also said that the Pharisees were full of extortion and excess, and that they strained at a gnat and swallowed a camel, that they devoured widows' houses.--`Matt. 23:23-25,14`.
By this our Lord meant that when a widow was left alone, with no one to look after her interests, some of these professors of religion would get possession of her property if they could. So in our day there are people who scheme to discover how they can injure their neighbor. They do not eat the persons of their neighbors, but they eat their substance, their property. These people are cannibals in spirit.
CHARACTERISTICS OF A SOUND MIND
In proportion as we get the spirit of love, we get the spirit of a sound mind. This spirit leads us to consider what is right and what is wrong, in all the affairs of life. Not only have we the spirit of the Law, but in addition we have the spirit of the Lord to instruct us. The Law says, "Thou shalt have no other gods before Me." The spirit of the Law says that we shall not permit wealth or anything else to take away our minds from the Lord. We today find people worshipping bonds, stocks, giving the best of their time to the worship of Mammon. They do not know what they are doing.
These people are very well illustrated by Bunyan's picture. You remember that when the pilgrims were in the house of the Interpreter, he took them into a room where there was a man with a muck-rake in his hand, drawing to himself straws, small sticks and the dust of the floor. Above his head was one with a celestial crown in his hand. This crown he proffered to the man in exchange for the muck-rake. But the man neither looked up, nor regarded what was said.
Today we see some who use muck-rakes, gathering all the trinkets of life, not knowing what to do with them after they have been accumulated. When such people die, perhaps these things will be injurious to those to whom they are left. The pilgrims had sound minds, but the man who was raking for sticks and straws and dust had an unsound mind. More or less we see all around us the spirit of an unsound mind, overlooking the things that are really valuable and grasping at trifles.
As we develop the spirit of a sound mind we get to see what things are valuable, and we look at other things as being insignificant. More and more we desire the heavenly things. But the world thinks, "Look at this dust! Is not this fine straw?" or what not. They say, "Get some of these sticks and worm-eaten fruits that we have here." But what they strive for is all illusion.
They say of us that we are of unsound mind because we care for the better things, the heavenly things. So they said of Jesus, "He hath a devil and is mad." (`John 10:20`.) As the Apostle said, "Whether we be beside ourselves, it is to God." (`2 Cor. 5:13`.) Others think it strange that we run not to the same excess of riot. (`I Peter 4:4`.) And it is true today that whoever will live godly will be misunderstood, slandered. (`2 Tim. 3:12`.) But it is for us to show our courage, our faith and our loyalty to the Lord and to manifest His Spirit "of power
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and of love and of a sound mind." (`2 Tim. 1:7`.) The manifestation of His Spirit will help those who are His to become "more than conquerors." (`Romans 8:37`.) Thus, even if we are not helping the world, we build one another up in our most holy faith.--`Jude 20,21`.
The spirit of a sound mind is a most wonderful manifestation of the Holy Spirit in the Lord's people. It gives them much advantage every way over the remainder of mankind. It sees in the present life opportunities for the attainment of character. It broadens and deepens the mind along all good lines. It makes one less touchy in respect to his own rights, privileges and preferences, and more considerate of the rights and feelings of others.
The spirit of a sound mind makes one's judgment clearer, truer, more trustworthy than before, for it impels him to accept the instructions of the Word of God in respect to what he should and should not do, and to reject his own faulty judgment. The meek will He guide in judgment. Whatever may be the imperfection of mind and body resulting from the fall, those who receive the spirit of a sound mind are thereby made purer, kinder, gentler, less selfish and more thoughtful in regard to others. Those who are thus rightly exercised will develop the spirit of love increasingly until that which is perfect shall have come and that which is in part shall have been done away. --`I Cor. 13:10`.
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"IT IS I, BE NOT AFRAID"
--`MARK 6:45-56`.--OCTOBER 6.--
Text:--"Straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer, it is I; be not afraid."--`Matt. 14:27`.
TODAY'S STUDY shows us how interested people become in anything that will relieve them of sickness and ailments, which cause our race to be, as St. Paul described it, "a groaning creation." The crowds continued to gather wherever Jesus went, partly for hearing, partly from curiosity, and partly because the Message that He gave was one of consolation, comfort, hope. He was not forever blaming them for not keeping the Law, but, on the contrary, He was continually expressing sympathy for them in their weaknesses, and helping them out of them and encouraging them to "go and sin no more."
After the feeding of the five thousand, Jesus urged His disciples to leave Him and to return to the other side of the Lake. He dismissed the multitude and went into the solitude of the hills for prayer. It is noteworthy that nearly all of the Great Teacher's prayers that are recorded are simple and brief. Whenever He wished to make long prayers He went to the Father alone, by Himself. Undoubtedly this would be a good example for all of His followers to observe. Long prayers are frequently a weariness to the flesh, and so far as we can discern are likely to contain many vain repetitions, or to be attempts to instruct the Lord and counsel Him concerning matters which He understands much better than do any of His children.
WALKING ON THE SEA
The disciples in their fishing boat experienced contrary winds and found the rowing toilsome. In the night they saw what they supposed to be an apparition, a spirit manifestation in human form, walking on the water, and apparently intending to pass by their boat. They cried out, for all saw it and felt troubled. Then they heard a voice saying, "It is I, be not afraid." Jesus got into the boat with them, and the wind ceased, to their amazement, for they had already forgotten the lesson of the previous afternoon--the feeding of the five thousand with the five loaves and two fishes.
In addition to seeing in this a further manifestation of Divine power operating through the Redeemer, we may see a further suggestion of a spiritual lesson. No doubt, after the Master's ascension, the disciples felt themselves very much alone in the midst of a contrary people, and found progress difficult and all of their experiences stormy. No doubt it helped them to look back to this occasion and to remember the Master's ability to come to them on the troubled seas, and how His coming brought peace and quiet.
Thus their hearts may have been led to look for Him who instructed them, "I will never leave nor forsake thee;" and again, "Lo, I am with you alway, even to the end of the Age." And this precious lesson still holds good for all who are truly the Lord's people--all who have made a Covenant by sacrifice with the Lord, all who have presented their bodies living sacrifices through the merit of Jesus. He is with them continually, to sanctify to them their deepest distress.
"LORD, SAVE, OR I PERISH!"
St. Matthew gives an additional feature of this lesson not recorded by St. Mark. He tells us that when St. Peter learned that it was Jesus who walked upon the sea, he requested the Lord to sanction his walking on the water to Him. The Lord consented, and St. Peter had the wonderful courage to make the effort. Had his faith continued, doubtless he would have been sustained, but the Lord's rule with His people seems to be, "According to thy faith be it unto thee." We are not to encourage credulity in ourselves or others, but we are to remember that faith which has a true foundation is very precious in the Lord's sight.
In St. Peter's case it was entirely proper that he should attempt to go to the Lord, because the effort had been sanctioned. It would have been credulity for him to have supposed himself able to walk on the water, without the Lord's sanction and invitation. But when he saw the boisterous waves his faith failed, he began to sink; and then it was that he cried, "Save, or I perish!" How true it is of all God's people that like St. Peter they would like to do some wonderful thing to show their faith in the Lord! And how like St. Peter's are their experiences, often! They would utterly fail did not the Lord interpose for their rescue. However, as the Lord found no
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fault with St. Peter for his effort, we are bound to admire the degree of faith and courage which he manifested.
ST. PETER THE TEACHABLE
Much has been said respecting St. Peter's rashness and the difficulties he repeatedly got into. The criticism is surely to some extent justified, but we are to remember that the Master loved him greatly, partly on account of his zeal, partly on account of the energy which on several occasions got him into difficulty. One thing should always be remembered in his favor, that although he was the oldest of the Apostles he was evidently one of the most meek and most teachable of them all. Of his mistakes he made a mirror, and thus, learning to know himself more particularly, he was safeguarded through the many dangers natural to his temperament; and he stands
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forth in the Scriptures as one of the very noblest of the Apostles. The wisdom of St. Peter's course is illustrated in a little verse published in the New York Sun.
THE THREE FAULT FINDERS
The poem tells that the three fault-finders were provided each with a crystal, to do with as he pleased; and this was the result:
"The fool contrived of his a lens,
Wherein, to gloating eyes,
The smallest blot that could be found
Was magnified in size.
"The just man made of his a pane,
All clear without a flaw;
Nor summer sun nor winter rain
Affected what he saw.
"The wise man pondered long and well
How best to search, to aid,
Then, taking up the crystal given,
Of his a mirror made."
There must have been a great strain continually upon the Great Teacher and Healer, for He was continually expending His vitality in both directions at once. In healing the sick, virtue, or vitality, went out from Him and He healed them all, we read. And all His public teaching cost considerable vitality, especially when He addressed large multitudes. Thus was fulfilled in part the saying of the Prophet respecting Him, "Himself took our sicknesses and bore our infirmities."
Nevertheless, we find Him ever ready, ever alert about the Father's business, and looking after the welfare of, and instructing all who gave evidence of being, or of ever becoming, children of God.
When the ship reached shore in the morning, the people recognized Him and ran round-about that whole region, and began to carry about on beds those that were sick, to where they heard Jesus was. And wheresoever he entered, into villages, or into cities, or into the country, they laid the sick in the public places, and besought Him that these might touch if it were but the corner of His garment; "and as many as touched Him were made whole."
The healings which our Lord gave forth during His ministry were physical. As we have already seen, none but Himself had yet received of the Holy Spirit in its begetting power. But did we not hear His word saying, "Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the Age"? And have not God's consecrated people throughout the past eighteen centuries realized a blessing also--a spiritual blessing--as Jesus passed their way, as they came to a knowledge of Him, as by faith they reached out and touched the hem of His garment, realizing Him to be the Son of the Highest, the Redeemer of the world, the Head of the Church which is His Body, and shortly to be the King of Glory, reigning for the blessing of all the families of the earth?
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GOD'S WORD NOT MAN'S
--OCTOBER 13.--`MARK 7:1-13`.--
"For the Kingdom of God is not meat and drink, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit."--`Rom. 14:17`.
THE STUDY TODAY shows that the Pharisees of eighteen centuries ago, while professing to keep carefully the Divine Law, and while even boasting of faithfulness in this respect, had gradually gotten away from God's Word and become followers of human tradition. It is so with the Jews today. Although they read the Holy Scriptures of the Old Testament it is regarded as a sealed Book which they cannot understand; instead of endeavoring to comprehend it they study and shape the course of their lives by the Talmud. The latter admittedly contains both wise and unwise statements, sound and foolish advice; but according to it the orthodox Jews shape all their religious sentiments.
And surely the same is true of Christians today. The Bible is the recognized Authority and Standard, but each denomination of Christians has its own theory, its own proof-texts, its own catechism. When the Bible is read the gloss or interpretation of the accepted creed is before the mind and veils it. Thus it is that with Bibles in our hands and with reverence in our hearts Christians are divided into six hundred different sects, with very little prospect of coming together, because each one insists upon using his own creedal spectacles in the study of the Bible.
If truly wise would not all Christians cast aside and destroy these creed spectacles which have so long separated us, given false coloring to various passages of God's Word and confused our minds in general? Would it not be following Heavenly counsel and Heavenly wisdom to take a different course and to begin a study of the Word of God afresh in the light which shines from one page upon another? We surely will all agree to this theoretically; shall we not put our agreement and resolution into practice?
EATING WITH UNWASHED HANDS
The Pharisees would have liked nothing better than to have had so very able a person as Jesus to be one of their number--to conform to their usages and thus to mark them with His approval. They could not fail to note the lofty character of His teachings along the lines of Justice, Mercy and Love. They could have forgiven Him for some of the truths which He uttered and made them wince, if only He had enforced their formalism. As it was, He really suited nobody. To the impure He was too pure; to those of loud, hypocritical profession He was too sincere; to the worldly-wise He was too frank, too truthful.
In this lesson the Pharisees inquired why the followers of Jesus were not instructed along the lines of the Talmud --to be very careful to always wash their hands before eating, as a religious duty. We may be sure that Jesus set His followers no example of filthiness or impurity. Indeed, we know that in proportion as truth enters the heart it has a cleansing and purifying effect upon the entire life, upon the whole person--mental, moral and physical. What the Pharisees meant was a ceremonial washing, whether the hands were clean or unclean--to make a formal washing a part of their religion. This was what Jesus objected to. He could not so teach because it would have been ceremonial hypocrisy. As He said on another occasion, These customs of the Pharisees, of wonderful washings of their persons and of the vessels in a perfunctory and ceremonial way, consumed much of their time and were burdensome upon the poor, who had no servants to do these things for them, and not doing them were considered unclean, unholy, out of accord with the Divine arrangements, not true Jews.
Answering the Pharisees on these points, Jesus said to them, You are the holy people mentioned by Isaiah the Prophet saying, "This people seeketh Me with their
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lips, but their heart is far from Me. But in vain do ye worship Me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men," for ye leave the commandments of God and hold fast the traditions of men.
Jesus gave them an example of how they neglected the Divine commandments while giving so much attention to ceremonial washings, which were commanded, not of God, but of the Talmud. The illustration was that the Mosaic Law commanded that father and mother should be honored and that he that spoke evil of either of them should be put to death. But this command had been changed by the Talmud and any man might be free from his parents by consecrating himself and substance to God and religious uses. Having done so, according to the Talmud, he was freed from all obligations to his parents. Thus they had made God's direct commandment on this subject null and void, which they had no right to do.
This was the conflict between the teachings of Jesus and the teachings of the Pharisees. Both claimed holiness and strict observance of the Divine Law, but Jesus held to the Word of God and rejected the Talmud, the traditions of the Elders, and the Pharisees neglected the
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Word of God and held to the traditions. What are we as Christians doing today? "Let us hold fast the faithful Word," "The Word of God, which is able to make us wise." Let us search the Scriptures daily and critically, and let us abandon everything which conflicts therewith.
WHAT IS GOD'S KINGDOM?
Our text is frequently misunderstood to mean that God's Kingdom consists in righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. The context shows that this is entirely a wrong thought. Let us follow the context and see.
Let us bear in mind what we have already seen respecting the Kingdom mentioned in the Bible--that it is the glorious reign of Messiah for a thousand years, for the uplift of the human family, and that during that reign the Church will be associated with Jesus in His Kingdom glory, power and honor. The call of this Gospel Age is to select this Bride class and to develop them and make them "meet for the inheritance of the saints in light."
We have seen that in the present time these called out ones--called to be the "Bride, the Lamb's Wife"--are the Kingdom in embryo or in an undeveloped state. These probationary members of the Kingdom, the Scriptures tell us, are not under the Law of Moses, expressed in the Ten Commandments; they are not hoping for eternal life through them, but they are under Grace-- under a gracious arrangement which God has made for them through the merit of Christ's death. St. Paul points out that while these are free from the various commands of the Jewish Law they are not without Law, but under the great Divine Law, as members of the Body of Christ. He says that thus we, as New Creatures, do fulfil the real meaning of the Divine Law when we "walk, not after the flesh, but after the spirit," even though we be not able to walk fully up to the spirit of the Law because of weaknesses of our flesh. It is the New Creature, the desire, that is being judged and not the flesh.
Accordingly the Gentiles who came into membership in the Body of Christ were not required to conform themselves to the demands of the Jewish Law. For instance, a Jew, according to the Law, might not eat fish that had no scales, mackerel, etc., neither might he eat rabbit meat, nor pork, etc., and in a variety of other ways he was restrained and limited in his eating and drinking. But none of these restraints apply to Christians who had come from amongst the Gentiles and who never had been under the Law Covenant.
In our text St. Paul urges that these liberties respecting what they might eat and drink were not to be esteemed as the real blessings of this embryo Kingdom class in the present life. Far from it; the real blessings of this class consisted in their enjoyment of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. Transformed by the renewing of their minds, they had come to appreciate and love righteousness and truth; good things rather than evil things; pure things rather than impure things; spiritual things rather than earthly things; their citizenship now was in Heaven instead of being an earthly one. They had come to appreciate "the peace of God which passeth all understanding," and its rule in their hearts was one of the grand blessings which they enjoyed as members of the embryo Kingdom class.
"There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked." "The wicked are like a troubled sea which cannot rest." Our heavenly peace and confidence in God are the result of our union with Christ as members of His Kingdom class. This we prize and not specially the privilege of eating pork or some other thing forbidden to the Jews. Joy in the Holy Spirit--fellowship with the Father and with the Son and with all who possess the spirit of righteousness --is the blessed privilege of every member of the embryo Kingdom class, every member of "the Church which is the Body of Christ."
Thus the Apostle would have his hearers place a proper valuation upon the various favors which they had received, so that if the interests of the Lord's cause or the interests of the brethren in Christ should ever require them to forego their liberties in respect to food and drink, they would count such self-denials for Christ's sake and for the brethren's sake as nothing--as sacrifices they could make with joy, because they would not interfere with or disturb in the least the real value of the blessings and privileges which are ours in Christ.
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"A CUP OF COLD WATER"
"The Lord of the Harvest walked forth one day,
Where the fields were white with the ripening wheat,
Where those He had sent in the early morn
Were reaping the grain in the noonday heat.
He had chosen a place for every one,
And bidden them work till the day was done.
"Apart from the others, with troubled voice,
Spake one who had gathered no golden grain:
'The Master hath given no work to me,
And my coming hither hath been in vain;
The reapers with gladness and song will come,
But no sheaves will be mine in the harvest home.'
"He heard the complaint, and He called her name:
'Dear child, why standest thou idle here?
Go fill the cup from the hillside stream,
And bring it to those who are toiling near;
I will bless thy labor, and it shall be
Kept in remembrance as done for Me.'
"'Twas a little service, but grateful hearts
Thanked God for the water so cold and clear;
And some who were fainting with thirst and heat,
Went forth with new strength to the work so dear;
And many a weary soul looked up,
Revived and cheered by the little cup."