Studies in the Scriptures
Zion's Watch Tower
The Son of Man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister. Matthew 20:28
IF the consecration be to the Lord, then every sacrifice of our just rights and interests on behalf of ourselves as New Creatures, on behalf of husband or children, father or mother, neighbors or friends, brethren in Christ, is counted of the Lord as so much done to Him; whereas if the very same services were rendered from any other standpoint--by any one unjustified, and not consecrated to the Lord, or merely done to the individuals and not as a sacrifice unto the Lord--these things would not count to us as priests, as our sacrifices.
All that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. 2 Timothy 3:12
OPPOSITION is to be expected, and will, doubtless, continue until we finish our course in death. To submit patiently to this opposition is to sacrifice our own
preferences for the friendship and the pleasures of the present life, and to endure hardness as good soldiers for the Truth's sake, in whatever shape that hardness may come, in our effort to do the Lord's will and work of advancing the interests of His Kingdom. To be really in the Lord's service involves, first, the careful and continual study of God's plan; second, the imbibing of its spirit; leading, thirdly, to an enthusiastic zeal for its accomplishment, and to activity to the extent of ability in its service, at whatever cost or sacrifice it may require.
Strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. Hebrews 5:14
THOSE who have real and sincere faith in God are willing to take Him at His word: and with these the first principles of the doctrine should long ago have been established; much of the superstructure of gold and silver and precious stones should already be erected, and the work be steadily progressing. Such are able, if they are loyal and true to God, to discern between truth and error. We ought to
what we believe and why we believe it, and then should be bold and uncompromising in declaring it; for "if the trumpet give an uncertain sound who shall prepare himself to the battle?"
The Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart. 1 Samuel 16:7
IF we lose sight of the fact that God regards us from the standpoint of the will, if we get to thinking of ourselves and God's estimate of us according to the flesh, we are sure to get proportionately into darkness and confusion and discouragement. But let us not forget on the other hand, that the spirit, or will, is counted alive because of its righteousness, because it is in harmony with God. Let us, therefore, never be slack in respect to the will, or intention governing the conduct of our lives, but remember that any laxity will mean the proportionate loss of spiritual life. To will right is always possible to us, and nothing less than an absolutely loyal will could be acceptable to God in Christ.
If ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. Romans 8:13
THE conditions upon which we may continue our relationship to the Lord, and our hope for a share in the glories of the First Resurrection are thus definitely stated to include mortification of the deeds of the body --restraining the fleshly inclinations, putting them to death, crucifying them, using them up in the service of the Lord and His cause. Such mortification of the deeds of the body, such a battle against the weaknesses of the flesh, is what the apostle elsewhere speaks of as the "warfare," when he tells us that the flesh warreth against the spirit, and the spirit in turn warreth against the flesh, for the two are contrary, and will be opponents to the end of life; and if the spirit has been willing, and has fought to the best of its ability against the weaknesses of the flesh, the Lord will count the victory complete, through the merit of the Redeemer.
As many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. Romans 8:14
THIS, then, is the guide by which we may know our true position, not only at the beginning of the race, but to the end of it, viz., if we are led by the Spirit of God --if that is the direction in which we are following, if that is what we are seeking--then we are sons of God; He owns and accepts all who have come unto Him through Christ, and who are trusting in the merit of the wedding garment, and who continue in this attitude of heart.
Woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel. 1 Corinthians 9:16
WE should be prompt to tell others the best tidings we have; sympathy with the groaning creation in the various trials of life should lead us to point to the Lord's promises respecting the coming Kingdom and the blessings that should then be to all the families of the earth. Whoever does not thus proclaim daily, on every suitable opportunity, gives evidence either of lack of knowledge or of faith in the revelation, or of selfishness, which the Lord cannot approve, and which, if persisted in, will ultimately debar him from a share in the Kingdom.
And this is the promise that He hath promised us, even eternal life. 1 John 2:25
WE all should understand that we have something to do in realizing the gracious promises of God to us. In connection with the affairs of this present life He has promised that our bread and water shall be sure, but this does not imply that we shall neglect reasonable opportunities for securing these. He has promised us also a share in the Kingdom by and by; but it is for us to make our calling and election sure. God is thoroughly capable and thoroughly willing to perform all of His part in connection with every matter, but it is to our advantage that He calls us to show our faith by our works--by our co-operation with Him in all reasonable ways.
As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in Him; rooted and built up in Him, and established in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving. Colossians 2:6,7
THE general sentiment among the teachers of false doctrines, who think it is neither necessary nor advisable to be established in the faith is...that to be established is to be a bigot. And so it is if one is so unfair in mind as to accept and tenaciously hold that which he has never proved either by sound logic or Bible authority. But he is not an unreasoning bigot who, in simple faith, on the authority of God, accepts the Word of God. And such, and only such, as do so are established in the Truth. The difference between a strong and steadfast Christian and a bigot is that the one is established in the Truth, while the other is established in error.
Thou anointest my head with oil, my cup runneth over. Psalm 23:5
THE fulness of the cup, running over, has a double significance. It is a cup of joy and a cup of sorrow, and in both respects it overflows. He who would partake of the joys of the Lord must also partake of His cup of suffering; we must suffer with Him if we would reign with Him. But we count the sufferings of this present time as not worthy to be compared with the glories that shall be revealed in us, and hence we are enabled to rejoice in tribulation, so that as the tribulations will overflow the rejoicing likewise overflows, and with the apostle we can say, Rejoice, and again I say Rejoice!
For Thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are counted as sheep for the slaughter. Psalm 44:22
WE are to remember that we have each but one sacrifice; that it is to be rendered to the Lord day by day in the improvement of every opportunity as it comes to us, to serve Him and His. We are to remember that while it consists of many little sacrifices, some of them too small to mention or even to consider, nevertheless it will require all of these to complete the one sacrifice which we made at the beginning of our induction into His family. When we gave our wills, we gave our all; and any holding back in any of the little affairs of life --any refusal to sacrifice that which we think would please the Lord--is a keeping back of that much of what we have devoted to Him.
Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of the Lord. 2 Corinthians 7:1
HOW many of the prospective members of the Royal Priesthood find that they have defilements along this line, malice, guile, hypocrisy, envy, evil speaking! It is safe to say that every one has some, if not all, of these weaknesses in the flesh to contend with--especially at the beginning of his entrance upon the priestly vocation. How carefully all should seek to put all these away! How each should scrutinize not only every act of life and every word and every thought, but, additionally, every motive underlying his words, thoughts and actions, so that they may be more and more purified from the earth defilements and be more and more acceptable to the Lord!
Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. 1 Samuel 15:22
OUR heavenly Father wishes us to be very attentive to His Word, and not to think for a moment that we can improve thereon, or that times and circumstances will alter the propriety of our obedience to Him....Let us hearken to the Word of the Lord and keep close to it, not fearing the results, but having faith that He who keeps us never slumbers nor sleeps, and is too wise to err, as well as competent to meet every emergency that could possibly come upon us as a result of our obedience.
Speaking the truth in love,...grow up into Him in all things, which is the head, even Christ. Ephesians 4:15
WHAT is it to grow in grace? It is to grow in favor with the Lord through an intimate personal acquaintance and fellowship of spirit with Him...To grow thus in grace and not grow in knowledge is impossible; for the very object of such communion is to build us up in a more perfect knowledge and acquaintance with the Lord--to bring us into closer fellowship with the divine plan, and to give us the privilege of being "workers together with Him" in executing that plan. If, therefore, we love and obey the Lord and desire to grow in His favor, His written Word is our daily meditation and study; and thus we grow in knowledge.
Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labor of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat: the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation. Habakkuk 3:17,18
WE see that God permits evil in the
that the world may learn certain lessons of bitter experience as to the natural rewards of evil doing, but we see also a ministry of evil in respect to the
--in their testing and polishing and refining; making them ready, and proving them worthy, as overcomers, to inherit the wonderful things which God has in reservation for the faithful.
...Thou shalt be called by a new name,...thou shalt also be a crown of glory in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of thy God. Isaiah 62:2,3
LET us never forget that we are a "peculiar people," separate from the great body of nominal Christians, as well as from the world, having higher hopes, aims and ambitions and favored with a clearer insight into the deep things of God, having been called out of our former darkness into His marvelous light. And if thus separate from the world and from Christians who partake largely of the worldly spirit, what wonder if we find them all out of harmony with us, and either ignoring or opposing us.
They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service. John 16:2
THE persecutions of today are more refined than in any previous period. The faithful today are not stoned with literal stones or shot with literal arrows or literally beheaded, but it is still true that the wicked shoot out arrows at the righteous, "even bitter words," and many because of faithfulness are reproved and slandered and cut off from fellowship--"beheaded for the testimony of Jesus." Let all such emulate Stephen, the first Christian martyr. Let their testimonies be given with radiant faces like his. Let their eyes of faith perceive Jesus at the right hand of the Majesty on High as their Advocate and Deliverer. Let their words be with moderation as were Stephen's, and let it be true of them, as written of him, "full of grace and power" and "filled with the Holy Spirit."
We which have believed do enter into rest. Hebrews 4:3
OUR rest in the Lord is as complete as is our belief in Him. He who believes fully
fully; he who believes only partially
but partially. The ideal condition of the spiritual Israelite is the attainment of a perfect rest, a perfect Sabbath-keeping, in his present experience, and a waiting and laboring for another and still more complete rest--the actual rest of the perfected condition--the rest that remains for the people of God. "Let us therefore labor to enter into that rest [Sabbath], lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief" [of fleshly Israel].--
We that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Romans 15:1
PRINCIPLES may never be abandoned for any consideration; but liberties and personal rights may be ignored in the interest of others frequently and to divine pleasing. The Apostle Paul was ready to go to any length in defense of principle (
), but in the sacrifice of his earthly rights and privileges and liberties for the sake of Christ and the church, the apostle evidently came next to our Lord Jesus, and is a noble example to all the church.
A peculiar people, zealous of good works. Titus 2:14
A "peculiar people,"--not peculiar in dress, nor in manners, nor in language, nor in foolish, senseless forms and idiosyncrasies; but peculiar in that it is separate from the world and the spirit of the world. It has the Spirit of Christ--a spirit of full consecration to the Lord, and separateness from the world and its selfish aims. It is peculiar in its adherence to the Word of the Lord as its only law. It is peculiar in that it rejects worldly wisdom when it conflicts with the divine revelation. It is peculiar in that it is in the world, but not of the world. It is peculiar in that it has a decided faith and acts in harmony with its faith, and with zeal. It is peculiar in that it is self-sacrificing and knows no will but the will of its King. It is peculiar in that it knows the Truth and is able to give a reason for the hope within while others merely speculate and wonder and doubt.
All Scripture, given by inspiration of God, is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works. 2 Timothy 3:16,17
IT will be well for us all to remember that all the graces of the Spirit, all the progress in the knowledge of divine things to which we have already attained, that may have helped us nearer to God and to holiness, have come to us through the Scriptures of the Old Testament and through the words of our Lord and His inspired apostles: nor will it ever be necessary to go to other channels for the true wisdom which would prepare us for the salvation promised.
God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power and of love, and of a sound mind. 2 Timothy 1:7
THE spirit of the Lord imparted to His people is not a spirit of fear, but on the contrary a spirit of power, energy, zeal awakened by love;--loving devotion to God, and a desire to please and serve Him; loving devotion to the Truth, and a loving devotion to God's people and a desire to build them up in holy things, and to do good unto all men as we have opportunity,... a spirit of a "sound mind;" a mind that is fortified and strengthened by the Word of the Lord on every subject, and hence, while thoroughly fearless of man, is wise in judging of times, seasons and methods for using the energy of love which burns as a fire within the consecrated heart.
Ye also ought to wash one another's feet. John 13:14
THIS would signify that the members of Christ's body should have a mutual watch-care over one another's welfare; to keep each other clean, holy, pure, and to assist one another in overcoming the trials and 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, patience, gentleness, brotherly kindness, love--can we hope to be specially helpful to others in putting on these adornments of character and purities of life, and to get rid of defilements of the world, and the flesh.
Love...is not easily provoked. 1 Corinthians 13:5
HOWEVER natural depravity, and heredity, and nervous disorders may tend toward the spirit of fretfulness, taciturnity, and touchiness, every heart filled with the Lord's Spirit must oppose this disposition to evil in his flesh, and must wage a good warfare against it. It will not do to say, "It is my way;" for all the ways of the fallen nature are bad: it is the business of the new nature to overcome the old nature in this as well as other works of the flesh and the devil: and few show to our friends and households more than this of the power of the grace of Love. This grace as it grows should make every child of God sweet-tempered.
Be not overcome of evil. Romans 12:21
WE are never to take up or to use evil words or methods or manners. To do so is temporarily to join the enemy, or to admit that his implements and methods are better than those of the Captain to whom we belong. To answer anger with anger, evil report with evil report, bitter words with bitter words, slander with slander, persecution with persecution, blow with blow, or any of these, would be to endeavor to overcome evil with evil. This, which is natural to our fallen natures, is what we are commanded to avoid, that we may the more thoroughly cultivate the new nature. To be misled by the adversary to use his methods in any of these ways is to be overcome of evil.
Knowledge puffeth up, but love buildeth up. 1 Corinthians 8:1
ALL who seek to teach the divine plan to others are exposed to peculiar temptations, so that the honor of serving the Lord and His people demands a correspondingly larger measure of the graces of the Holy Spirit, as well as of knowledge....Whoever, therefore, would be an instructor of others, a mouth-piece of the Lord, should cultivate all the various graces of the Holy Spirit, including meekness; that these combined (Love) with knowledge, may build up himself as well as build up those to whom he ministers.
In lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Philippians 2:3
PAUL exhorts that all shall cultivate the grace of humility, and that in every affair each shall take heed that "nothing be done through strife or vain glory," that self-laudation and strivings for pre-eminence be thoroughly put away as the greatest enemies to the Spirit of the Lord and the blessing of the church. On the contrary, each should have that lowliness of mind which can see the good qualities of fellow members and appreciate some of these qualities at least as superior to his own. All the talents, and all the abilities, need never be expected in any one person in any congregation. So, then, each may, if he be of lowly mind, see in others certain good qualities or graces superior to his own, and should delight to recognize these and to esteem their possessor accordingly.
Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body [so long as we feel entirely contented with present conditions --ourselves and our surroundings], we are absent from the Lord. 2 Corinthians 5:6
IF we were living near to Him, "walking with God," we would not feel perfectly satisfied with present attainments, conditions, etc.; but would feel like pilgrims and strangers, seeking a better rest, a better home, "which God hath in reservation for them that love Him." But this, as the apostle explains (verse 7), is true only of those who walk by faith and not by sight. "But we are confident [full of faith toward God, we rejoice to walk by faith], and are well pleased rather to be from home [homeless, pilgrims and strangers on the earth], and to be at home with the Lord" in the spirit of our fellowship.
Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you:...Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. John 14:27
THE more we overcome the world, the flesh and the devil, the more we seek to do the will of our Father who is in heaven, the more we seek for the fellowship and communion of our dear Redeemer, the more we seek to do those things which are pleasing in His sight, so much the more will we have of the joy and peace which no man taketh from us, and which trials, difficulties and persecutions can only make the more sweet and precious.
"Ye now therefore have sorrow; but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you."--
Rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation. Romans 12:12
HERE is an important part of the great battle of the Christian's life. He must fight the natural tendencies of the old nature and confidently anticipate the victory in the strength of the great Captain of his Salvation. He must not succumb to the flattering and deceptive influences of prosperity, nor faint under the burdens of adversity. He must not allow the trials of life to sour and harden his disposition, to make him morose, or surly, or bitter, or unkind. Nor may he allow pride or ostentation or self-righteousness to grow and feed upon the temporal good things which the Lord's providence has granted him to test his faithfulness as a steward.
It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor anything whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak. Romans 14:21
IT is a very serious crime against the law of love and against the Lord's injunction, to cause one of His brethren to stumble (
), but it would also be a crime in His sight for us to stumble others,--to hinder them from becoming brethren, and of the household of faith. Hence, it is clear that although knowledge might remove all prohibition of our consciences and all restraints of our liberty, yet love must first come in and approve the liberty before we can exercise it. Love places a firm command upon us, saying, --Thou shalt love the Lord with all thine heart, and thy neighbor as thyself. Love, therefore, and not knowledge, not liberty, must finally decide every question.