Studies in the Scriptures
Zion's Watch Tower
But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto Me, to bear My name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel. Acts 9:15
IT is because we see Jesus to be the Father's choice that we unite ourselves to Him; because we see the Father's character manifested in Him that we leave all to follow Him. Similarly, if we lend our aid, our support to any human being in connection with the divine plan and service, it should be simply upon this ground--not merely a personal magnetism or favoritism, but because our hearts are touched by the Lord with a realization of the leader being of His appointment.
Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the Truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently. 1 Peter 1:22
KNOWLEDGE is to be highly esteemed in the church, and to be regarded as an evidence of progress, of growth; for none can grow strong in the Lord and in the power of His might--in grace--unless he grows also in knowledge. We properly esteem most highly those whose love for the Lord and for His Truth are evidenced by zeal in the study of His Word, and whose favor with God is evidenced by their being guided more and more into the deep things of God. Nevertheless, as in the earthly family we love and care for the babes and immature, so also in the household of faith the little ones and the dwarfs are to be cared for and loved and helped that they may grow strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.
I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings. Hosea 6:6
HE who gives his will, his heart, to the Lord, gives all; he who gives not his will, who comes not in obedience of heart unto the Lord, can offer no sacrifice to the Lord that could be acceptable. "Behold to obey is better than sacrifice," is a lesson which should be deeply engraved upon the hearts of all the sanctified in Christ Jesus. To have the spirit of obedience is necessary too, and whoever has the spirit of obedience will not only obey the divine will, but will seek to know the divine will more and more that he may obey it. It is of this class that the Scriptures declare, "His word was found and I did eat it;" and again, in the words of our Lord, "I delight to do Thy will, O My God: Thy law is written in My heart."
There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear, because fear hath torment. 1 John 4:18
MIGHTY, imposing and terrifying indeed is the influence of fear, except upon those who have learned to know the Lord through previous experiences, and to trust Him even where they cannot trace Him. The giant of fear and despair must be met with the pebble from the brook, "It is written." The sling of faith must propel the word of promise with such force as to slay the adversary and to deliver us from his domination ....Thus armed only with the Word of God, and trusting in His rod and staff, we may well be courageous and answer imposing sectarianism as David answered the Philistine, "Thou comest to me with a sword and a spear and a javelin: but I come to thee in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of... Israel, which thou hast defiled."
Jealousy is cruel as the grave: the coals thereof are coals of fire, which hath a most vehement flame. Canticles 8:6
JEALOUSY is one of the great foes that confronts every Christian. It should be slain on sight as an enemy of God and man and of every good principle; and to the extent that its presence has defiled the heart even for a moment, a cleansing of the spirit of holiness and love should be invoked. Jealousy is not only a cruel monster of itself, but its poisonous fangs are almost certain to inflict pain and trouble upon others, as well as to bring general woe and, ultimately, destruction upon those who harbor it. Jealousy is sin in thought, wickedness in thought, and is very apt to lead speedily to sin and wickedness in action. The mind, if once poisoned with jealousy, can with great difficulty ever be cleansed from it entirely, so rapidly does it bring everything within its environment to its own color and character.
There shall no evil befall thee. Psalm 91:10
NOTHING shall by any means hurt us. Things may interfere with our fleshly interests or comfort or course of affairs; but when we remember that we are not in the flesh but in the spirit, that it is as New Creatures that the Lord has promised us the Kingdom in His due time, we can realize that no outside influence can interfere with our real interests, our spiritual interests, nor hinder our attaining to the glories of the Kingdom which the Lord has promised to His faithful ones. Only our loss of confidence in the Lord and our unfaithfulness to Him could separate us from His love and His promises.
If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. 2 Corinthians 5:17
THESE New Creatures in Christ Jesus know each other not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. In each other's spirits or new minds there are the noblest sentiments, the highest aspirations, that which is good, true, noble, pure--whatever may be their weaknesses according to the flesh. They love each other from the new standpoint of intention, will, harmony with God, and their friendship for one another grows increasingly as they perceive each other's energy in fighting the good fight of faith against the evil influences of the world, the flesh and the adversary. Nor tongue nor pen can properly express the love, the friendship, which subsists between these New Creatures in Christ Jesus, to whom old things have passed away, and all things have become new.
Know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God. James 4:4
GOD has purposely placed the matter in such a position that His people must take their choice, and lose either the divine friendship and fellowship, or the worldly friendship and fellowship; because those things which the Lord loves are distasteful to the worldly, and those things which the worldly love, evil deeds and evil thoughts, evil-speaking, are an abomination in the sight of the Lord, and those who love and practice such things lose His fellowship-- they are not of His Spirit. "If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His."
That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; holding forth the word of life. Philippians 2:15,16
IT is the duty of every child of God to be very active in the dissemination of the Truth--in letting his light shine, and in keeping it trimmed and burning. "Trimmed and burning!" what does it mean? It means that we must give very close attention to the words of life that we may come to an exact knowledge of the Truth, and that we must carefully and faithfully trim away every vestige of error as fast as it becomes apparent to us--whether it be an error in doctrine or in our daily walk and conversation--so that the pure light of divine truth may shine out with as little obstruction as possible through the medium of a clear and transparent character.
Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. Ephesians 4:29
THE depraved taste hedges itself behind conscience, and declares that it is always right to speak the truth, and hence God cannot have meant that speaking the truth would be slander; but that in condemning evil speaking and slander, as works of the flesh and the devil, He must have meant the speaking of that which is false, untrue. This is a great mistake: a slander is equally a slander, whether it be true or whether it be false, and is so regarded, not only in the law of God, but also in the laws of civilized men. A slander is anything which is uttered with the intention of injury to another, whether true or false, and the laws of men agree with the law of God, that such injury to another is wrong.
Whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after Me, cannot be My disciple. Luke 14:27
THE Lord's cross-bearing consisted in
the doing of the Father's will under unfavorable conditions
. This course brought upon Him the envy, hatred, malice, strife, persecution, etc., of those who thought themselves to be God's people, but whom our Lord, who read their hearts, declared to be of their father, the devil....Since we are walking in the same "narrow way" that our Master walked, we may reasonably expect that our crosses will be of similar kind to His--oppositions to our doing the will of our Father in heaven--oppositions to our serving His cause and letting the light shine out as our Master and Leader directed.
In your patience possess ye your souls. Luke 21:19
"LET patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing," the apostle explains. Very evidently patience, therefore, includes other graces of character--implies their possession to a certain extent. Amongst the Lord's people patience surely must be preceded by faith, and the degree of patience very generally measures the amount of faith. The Christian who finds himself impatient and restless evidently is lacking in faith toward the Lord; for otherwise he would be able to rest in the Lord's gracious promises, and wait for their fulfilment. After using reasonable diligence and energy he should be content to leave the results and times and seasons with the Lord.
Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity. Psalm 133:1
LIKE our Lord, let us seek to be peacemakers, and to dwell together with all the brethren in the unity of the Spirit, in the bonds of peace. Let our activities, our combativeness, etc., be engaged against the great enemy and all the works of sin,--including those in our members, our own fallen flesh. We, and all the brethren, will thus find sufficient engagement for every combative element of our nature, in ways well pleasing to the Lord, and employment for every lovable and helpful quality we possess, in building one another up, and doing good unto all men as we have opportunity, especially to the household of faith.
Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation. For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully. 1 Peter 2:12,19
WE may be evil reported of and slandered, but all who know us, who have dealings with us, should find from experience our loyalty to principle, our endeavor that the words of our mouths as well as the meditations of our hearts and the conduct of life should be pleasing to the Lord and an honor to His name and cause, that God may be glorified through Christ, to whom belongs the glory and the Kingdom forever.
Come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you. 2 Corinthians 6:17
THOSE who conscientiously live separate from the world in spiritual matters, and recognize as brethren only those who confess to circumcision of the heart and adoption into God's family, will find themselves opposed by moralists, liberalists and higher critics, as well as by the masses, who hate the light, because it condemns their darkness--doctrinal and otherwise. Nevertheless, this is the only good and safe course to pursue. Better far is it that only true Israelites should be recognized as brethren, and thus the true wheat be separated from the tares.
The Lord will give strength unto His people; the Lord will bless His people with peace. Psalm 29:11
IF you have trials and temptations which you are able to overcome, and which are working out in your character patience, experience, brotherly-kindness, sympathy and love, rejoice and offer the prayer of thanksgiving and acknowledgment of divine mercy and help. If your trials seem heavier than you can bear, and likely to crush you, take the matter to the great Burden-bearer, and ask His help in bearing whatever would do you good, and release from all that would do you no good, but which would injure you.
Christ in you, the hope of glory. Colossians 1:27
EVERY true child of God must have a definite individual Christian character which is not dependent for its existence upon the spiritual life of any other Christian. He must from the Word of Truth, proclaimed and exemplified by other Christians, draw those principles of life, etc., which give him an established character, a spiritual individuality of his own. So positive and definite should be the spiritual individuality of every one, that, should even the beloved brother or sister whose spiritual life first nourished ours and brought us forward to completeness of character fall away (which the apostle shows is not impossible--
), we would still live, being able to appropriate for ourselves the Spirit of Truth.
My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest. Exodus 33:14
THE Lord is ever present with His people. He is always thinking of us, looking out for our interests, guarding us in danger, providing for us in temporal and spiritual things, reading our hearts, marking every impulse of loving devotion to Him, shaping the influences around us for our discipline and refining, and hearkening to our faintest call for aid or sympathy or fellowship with Him. He is never for a moment off guard, whether we call Him in the busy noon hours or in the silent watches of the night. How blessed the realization of such abiding faithfulness! And no real child of God is devoid of this evidence of his adoption.
Sanctify them through Thy Truth: Thy Word is Truth. John 17:17
OUR Lord always links the progress and development of our spiritual life with our receiving and obeying the Truth, and every child of God should beware of that teaching which claims to be in advance of the Word, and that Christ or the Holy Spirit speaks to such advanced Christians independently of the Word. It cultivates spiritual pride and boastfulness, and renders powerless the warnings and expostulations of the sacred Scriptures because the deluded ones think they have a higher teacher dwelling in them. And Satan, taking advantage of the delusion, leads them captive at his will.
Thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place,...to revive the spirit of the humble, and the heart of the contrite ones. Isaiah 57:15
LET us ever keep in memory that a broken and contrite heart the Lord never despises, will never spurn. Therefore, into whatever difficulty any of the Lord's people of the New Creation may stumble, if they find themselves hungering for the Lord's fellowship and forgiveness, if they find their hearts contrite and broken, let them not despair, but remember that God has made a provision through the merit of Christ which enables Him to accept and justify freely from all sin all that come unto Him through Jesus-- through faith in His blood....Those who have broken and contrite hearts on account of their sins may know that they have not committed "the sin unto death," for their condition of heart proves this, as the apostle declares: "It is impossible to renew again unto
" any who have committed the sin unto death.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil. Psalm 23:4
THE sheep of the little flock fear no evil because of the Lord's favor, because He is with them, on their side, and has shown His favor in the redemption price already paid. He is with them, too, in His word of promise--His assurance that death shall not mean extinction of life, but merely until the resurrection, an undisturbed sleep in Jesus. What wonder that these can walk through the valley of the shadow of death singing and making melody in their hearts to the Lord, calling upon their souls with all that is within them to praise and laud and magnify His great and holy name, who loved us and bought us with His precious blood, and has called us to joint-heirship with our dear Redeemer.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. Psalm 23:6
THE goodness and mercy which we anticipate beyond the veil has its beginning here already and is thus to be appreciated. Whoever knows nothing of the joys of the Lord in the present time will evidently not be prepared for the joys of the Lord in the Kingdom, whatever blessings and joys he may attain to under the administration of the Kingdom during the Millennial Age. There is then joy and rejoicing granted to the Lord's faithful ones, not a momentary matter connected with their first acceptance of the Lord and their consecration of themselves to Him. The goodness and mercy of the Lord is not to be looked back to as a thing of the remote past, but is to be recognized and appreciated as a thing of the present. Day by day God's goodness and mercy follow us, refresh us, strengthen us, bless us.
Ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. Jude 3
OUR good fight of faith consists in a considerable measure in our defense of the Word of God, which includes also our defense of the character of God. This will mean our willingness to stand for the Truth at any cost and against any number of assailants-- against the creeds and theories of men, which would misrepresent the good tidings of great joy which the Lord and the apostles have announced, and which shall, thank God, yet be unto all people. As the apostle again says, "I am set for the defense of the Truth." We can do no less than defend the Truth. The Truth is God's representative, Christ's representative, and hence our standard, and as true soldiers we must defend our standard, even unto death.
I keep my body under, and bring it unto subjection: lest...I myself should be a castaway. 1 Corinthians 9:27
THERE is a tendency for the body, the flesh, to arise from its condition of reckoned deadness, hence the new nature needs to be continually on the alert to maintain its ascendancy, to fight the good fight of faith and to gain the prize as an overcomer. These battlings of the new mind against the flesh are a good fight in the sense that they are fightings against sins and weaknesses that belong to the fallen nature. They are a fight of faith in the sense that the entire course of the New Creature is a course of faith, as the apostle says, "We walk by faith and not by sight."... It is a fight of faith in the sense that no one could keep up this battle against his own flesh and its propensities and desires, except as he can exercise faith in the promises and in the Lord as his helper.
Who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness [justification], and sanctification, and redemption [deliverance]. 1 Corinthians 1:30
HE who redeemed us, or bought us with the sacrifice of His own life, gives us, as our Prophet or Teacher,
by His Gospel, to see our fallen state and Himself as our helper; as our Priest, He first
us and then
or consecrates us, as His under priesthood; and finally, as King, He will
the faithful from the dominion of sin and death, to the glory, honor and immortality of the divine nature; --for "God will raise up [from the dead] us also,
." "Hallelujah! What a Savior!" Truly He is able and willing to save to the uttermost all that come unto God by Him.
Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner stone; in whom all the building fitly framed together groweth into an holy temple in the Lord: in whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit. Ephesians 2:20-22
LET us, as day after day rolls by, remember our three-fold relationship to this Temple: (1) We are still in process of preparation as living stones. (2) AS members of the Royal Priesthood carrying the Ark we are marching from the Tabernacle into the Temple condition; some of our number have already entered in and some are still on the way. (3) As the Lord's people the time has come for us to know, to sing with the spirit and understanding, the new song of divine mercy, justice, love and truth. Let us be faithful in each of these respects, fulfilling our parts, and ere long our course will be ended and the glory of the Lord will fill the Temple.
Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God. Matthew 4:7
TEMPTATIONS continually assail the Lord's people --suggestions to do some wonderful works in His name, and to thus prove to themselves and to others that they are heaven's favorites. The lesson for us to learn is that the work which the Father has given us to do is not a work of convincing the world or of showing His favor toward us and our greatness in Him, but rather that we should quietly and humbly, yet as effectively as reason and propriety will permit, let our lights shine, and show forth the praises of Him who hath called us from darkness into His marvelous light, and from a desire to be wonder-workers to the reasonable position of servants, ministers of the Truth.
Your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: whom resist steadfast in the faith. 1 Peter 5:8,9
THIS thought of Satan's opposition to us, and that we are contending not merely with flesh and blood but with principalities and powers and wicked spirits in high positions of power, would be appalling to us did we not on the other hand realize that by positiveness of decision we acquire great helps and assistances by other unseen powers. From the moment of our positive resistance of temptation and positive standing up for the Lord and His cause, we become stronger in the Lord and in the power of His might, and greater is He that is for us than all that be against us.
Hesitancy after the wrong is seen increases the power of the temptation.
Every one that is proud in heart is an abomination to the Lord. Proverbs 16:5
ONE of the severe ordeals of the New Creature is the conquering of the love of the spirit of worldliness under the leadership of pride. Worldly pride challenges faith in God and obedience to Him, and only those who are of good courage and full of confidence in the Lord can overcome this giant. It is necessary, too, that the victory should be made complete--that pride should be thoroughly humiliated, killed, so that it can never rise up again to destroy us. It is an individual battle, and the only proper armament against this giant is a stone from the brook, the message of the Lord, showing us what is pleasing and acceptable in His sight, and assuring us that he that humbleth himself shall be exalted and he that exalteth himself shall be abased. As the poet has expressed it:-- "Where boasting ends, true dignity begins."
The love of Christ constraineth us. 2 Corinthians 5:14
IT seems impossible to describe love itself; the best we can do is to describe its conduct. Those who possess a love with such characteristics are able to appreciate it, but not able otherwise to explain it--it is of God, Godlikeness in heart, in the tongue, in the hands, in the thoughts--supervising all the human attributes and seeking fully to control them.... As disciples or pupils of Christ, we are in His school, and the great lesson which He is teaching us day by day, and the lesson which we must learn thoroughly if we would attain the mark of the prize of our high calling in all its various features and ramifications, is the lesson of love. It takes hold upon and relates to all the words and thoughts and doings of our daily lives. As the poet has said, "As every lovely hue is light,--so every grace is love."