Studies in the Scriptures
Zion's Watch Tower
The peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:7
IT is not our own peace that is here referred to. It is the peace of God--the peace which comes to us from a realization of God's power and goodness and willingness to hold us by His right hand as His children. The thought is that this peace stands guard continually, as a sentinel, to challenge every hostile or worrying thought or fear. It keeps the Christian's mind so that he at heart has peace with the Lord, fellowship, communion--and it guards his mind also, his reasoning faculties, instructing him and assuring him respecting the divine power and wisdom and love.
Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest,...think on these things. Philippians 4:8
WHOEVER sympathizes with falsehood or exaggeration is more or less defiling himself. Whoever cleanses his thoughts, and avoids exaggeration, etc., is in that degree purifying his mind and his entire character. Nor is it sufficient that we are sure of the truth of matters. We are to test them further, and discern to what extent they are honorable, noble; for, although the Lord has covered the ignoble features of our characters, and proposes to cover them to the end with His own merit, nevertheless we cannot be in sympathy with our fallen condition, but on the contrary must desire true nobility and the highest standards of honor in our hearts, in our thoughts, in all our dealings with our God and with our fellows.
Whatsoever things are just,...think on these things. Philippians 4:8
WE are not to allow our minds to run along lines that would be unjust, and we are to learn to apply this test of justice to every thought and word and act of ours, while learning at the same time to view the conduct of others from a different standpoint--so far as reason will permit, from the standpoint of mercy, forgiveness, pity, helpfulness. But we cannot be too careful how we criticize every thought we entertain, every plan we mature, that the lines of justice shall in no sense of the word be infringed by us with our hearts' approval.
Whatsoever things are pure, lovely, and of good report,...think on these things. Philippians 4:8
WE are to love and cultivate that which is pure to such an extent that that which is impure will become painful to us, distressing, and we will desire to drop it from memory, and this will only be accomplished by continually thinking upon those things that are pure, and avoiding the giving of thought to the things that are impure. We are to recognize true loveliness, and to esteem it. When we would think on the purest of things we must of necessity lift our mental vision to as high a point as possible, and, as nearly as we may be able, discern the loveliness of the perfect character of our God and of our Lord Jesus Christ, and proportionately the loveliness manifested in one or another of the followers of Jesus, who walk closely in His footsteps.
If there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Philippians 4:8
THINGS of any virtue or value, things in any degree praiseworthy--the noble words or noble deeds or noble sentiments of anybody--we may safely meditate upon, and as a consequence find ourselves growing toward those ideals upon which our minds, our new natures, thus feed. We will become more and more transformed by the renewing of our minds, and approach nearer and nearer to the glorious likeness of our Lord and Master, being changed from glory to glory, inch by inch, step by step, little by little, during the present life; and our thoughts being in this attitude and our union with the Lord maintained, we shall have part in the First Resurrection, which will perfect us forever in the Lord's image and likeness.
I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Philippians 4:11,12
IF we find our experiences in life very checkered we may conclude that the Lord sees that we need both the heights and depths of prosperity and adversity to properly instruct us and qualify us for the position He designs for us in the future. Let us, then, as the apostle did, learn how to abound, not allowing the abundance of earthly good things to swerve us from our consecration vows; and learn also how to be in want (need) and yet not to want anything beyond what the Lord's wisdom and providence see best to give--to be content.
If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and His love is perfected in us. 1 John 4:12
WHETHER I am something or nothing in God's estimation is to be measured by
for Him, for His brethren, for His cause, for the world in general, and even for my enemies,--rather than by my knowledge or fame or oratory.... In the measurement of character, therefore, we are to put love first, and to consider it the chief test of our nearness and acceptance to the Lord.... Those begotten of the Holy Spirit should all be good tempered. In no way can we better show forth the praises of Him who hath called us out of darkness into His marvelous light than by the exhibition of the spirit of love in the daily affairs of life.
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God hath set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased Him. 1 Corinthians 12:18
NO member of the body of Christ can say that he has no need for another member, and no member may say that there is nothing whatever that he can do in the service of the body. Under the guidance of our glorious Head each member who is filled with His Spirit, and desirous of serving Him, may do so. When the time for rewards shall have come, who knows how much of the usefulness of Paul and Apollos may be accredited to some of the humble ones, such as Aquila and Priscilla, who in various ways ministered to and encouraged and supported their abler brethren in the Lord's work.
God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labor of love, which ye have shewed toward His name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister. Hebrews 6:10
NO child of the Lord should be content to let the days of the present harvest time go by with their golden opportunities for service and co-operation without seeking each day to lift the royal banner himself, and to publicly show forth the praises of Him who hath called him out of darkness into light, or without assisting and co-operating with others whom the Lord in His providence has placed in more advantageous positions for public service.
Exhort one another daily, while it is called Today; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. Hebrews 3:13
IF...we realize that a spiritual lethargy has to any extent been creeping over us, imperceptibly benumbing our spiritual senses, so that the truth is losing its inspiring power upon us, our first duty is to betake ourselves to prayer and to communion with God and His Word, that its sanctifying power may be realized. (
"For we are made partakers of Christ, if we
the beginning of our confidence
steadfast unto the end.
Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us. Hebrews 12:1
YOU that discern the prize of your high calling, and who are endeavoring to press along the line toward the mark, "gird up the loins of your mind";... strengthen and fortify your purposes and efforts; renew your determination; redouble your diligence; cast aside the weights of unnecessary worldly cares; increase your zeal; and, as the Apostle Paul also urges, run with patience the race set before you. Run, not like one who is merely beating the air, but like one who has a purpose in view, and who, in desperate earnest, is
to make his calling and election sure.
The end of the commandment is love from a pure heart, and a good conscience, and an undissembled faith. 1 Timothy 1:5 (Diaglott)
WE are therefore to have clearly before our minds the fact that the
of all the divine dealings for us and with us, and the ultimate significance of all the divine promises made to us, is the development of love, which is Godlikeness, for God is love. And to have this love developed in us, in the sense and to the degree intended by the Lord, it is necessary that it shall come from a
heart, in full accord with the Lord, and His law of love, and wholly antagonistic to the Adversary and his law of selfishness.
As many, therefore, as are perfect, should be of this mind; and if in any thing you think differently, God will also reveal this to you; but to what we have attained, let us walk by the same line. Philippians 3:15-17 (Diaglott)
IT is indispensable to those who have reached the mark of perfect love that they shall keep actively engaged in the service of the Lord, laying down their lives for the brethren....Such must stand, not only as representatives of God and of the principles of righteousness, but as representatives of those strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might, and in the faith of His Word,--ready and willing and efficient in the encouragement of other runners in the race-course, that they likewise may attain to the "mark".
He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city. Proverbs 16:32
WHILE anger, in the nature of hatred, malice, strife, envy, should be put away by all who are seeking to be copies of God's dear Son, anger in the sense of righteous indignation against wrongdoing, sin in its various forms, is proper; and although it should be used with great moderation, backed by love, there are circumstances in which it would be wrong not to have righteous anger and use it.
The just shall live by faith. Hebrews 10:38
IT is not enough that, by faith, we receive the first impulse of life, but, having passed from death unto life, by the same means, we must continue to receive and appropriate spiritual nourishment, that we may grow thereby: we must walk by faith, following the leading of the Holy Spirit through the Word of truth. The life of faith is an individual matter, as well of the heart as of the head. It is far more than an acceptance of doctrines which we consider Scriptural and therefore true; it is the
of that which we have proved to be the Truth, so that its principles become our principles, and its promises our inspiration.
We know that we have passed from death unto life because we love the brethren,...and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. 1 John 3:14,16
ONE of the final and most searching tests of these "brethren," and the one under which probably the most of those once awakened and armed will fall, will be--love for the brethren. Seemingly many will fail at this point and be therefore accounted unworthy of an abundant entrance into the Kingdom on this score. Should any be specially weak and liable to stumble, the true soldier of the cross will not despise him, nor revile him, even as the elder brother, the Captain, would not do so. On the contrary, he will be the more watchful and helpful toward the weaker even though he most enjoy himself in the company of the stronger.
Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents. For unto every one that hath shall be given and he shall have abundance; but from him that hath not, shall be taken away even that which he hath. Matthew 25:28,29
WHY is the one-talented man chosen as an illustration of these talent-burials? It is to show the responsibility of those who have least--that the Lord expects even the least of His consecrated people to know of and to use the talents he has in his possession, and that He will not hold guiltless even those who have the smallest ability to serve Him and His brethren and His truth, and who neglect to use it.
Gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 1:13
HAVING..."girded up the loins of your mind" for a long, steady and determined effort, "be sober"; do not allow yourself to become excited and, under the spur of excitement, to exhaust all your spiritual vitality in a very short time, and then to suffer a relapse into coldness or discouragement; but thoughtfully to consider and prepare for a long and patient endurance of all the discipline and trial of faith and patience necessary to prove an overcomer and worthy of the blessed reward promised "to him that overcometh." The race before us is not one to be run by fits and starts, but by
in well doing."
As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance; but as He which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation. 1 Peter 1:14,15
SOME Christians have the erroneous idea that God does all the fashioning, and that His children are to be merely passive in His hand; but Peter does not so express it. He exhorts us to fashion ourselves according to the divine instructions. There is work to be done in us and about us, and those who are not up and doing, but who passively sit and wait for the Lord to work miracles in their behalf, are greatly deceived and are giving the enemy great advantage over them, which he will certainly use to bind them hand and foot and cast them into outer darkness, unless they bestir themselves to work out their own salvation with fear and trembling.
If ye continue in My Word, then are ye My disciples indeed; and ye shall know the Truth, and the Truth shall make you free. John 8:31,32
DIVINE truth is never found except in the divinely appointed channels: and those channels are the Lord and the apostles and prophets. To continue in the doctrine set forth in their inspired writings, to study and meditate upon them, to trust implicity in them, and faithfully to conform our characters to them, is what is implied in continuing in the Word of the Lord. If we thus continue in the Word of the Lord, as earnest and sincere disciples, we shall indeed "know the Truth;," we shall be "firm in the faith," and "able to give a reason for the hope that is in us," to "earnestly contend for the faith once delivered to the saints," to "war a good warfare," to "witness a good confession," and firmly to "endure hardship as good soldiers of Jesus Christ," even unto the end of our course.
Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you and persecute you. Matthew 5:44
HERE is a way to examine the real disposition of your own heart toward such. Would you cheerfully do them kindness and help them to the extent of your ability to see the error of their way and to overcome it? Can you tenderly pray for them and patiently bear with their weakness, their ignorance and lack of development, and try by a noble example to show them a more excellent way? If such be the case, then it is the sin that you despise, and not the sinner. The sin you should hate, but the sinner, never. Not until God's unerring judgment declares that the sin and the sinner are inseparably linked together may love let go its hold upon a brother man.
If we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world. 1 Corinthians 11:31,32
THE ascertainment of gains and losses as New Creatures, and how and when and where these came to us in the constant battle with the world, the flesh and the devil, will surely profit all who make such reckonings with an eye single to the pleasement of the Lord. Spiritual Israelites...are to live a daily and hourly life of nearness to the High Priest. The
of the dear Redeemer is to be continually invoked for the cleansing of the slightest defilement of conscience, that thus the wedding garment of our Lord's imputed righteousness may not become draggled, but that the slightest spot being removed, we may have it "without spot or wrinkle or any such thing."
Ye endured a great fight of afflictions; partly, whilst ye were made a gazingstock, both by reproaches and afflictions, and partly whilst ye became the companions of them that were so used. Hebrews 10:32,33
THE strongest of the brethren need the help, the encouragement, the assistance of others. The Lord has so arranged it that we may not feel ourselves entirely self-sufficient, and that even our proper leaning upon the Lord shall seem to require also the cooperation, encouragement, sympathy and love of the fellow-laborers in the vineyard. Who that has borne any measure of the labor and heat of the day in the gospel service cannot sympathize with this thought? Here, then, is a way in which many of the Lord's dear people, who have not themselves the largest amount of talent or opportunity for service, may be co-laborers and assistants in the Gospel work.
I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. Hebrews 13:5
WHY, then, should we fear what man may do unto us, or be distressed in regard to the Lord's work, as though Satan or any other evil power could prevail against it? Nevertheless, it is for us to show our devotion, not only by our zeal, but also by our prudence, ...therefore we are to proceed in the Lord's work as though the entire responsibility rested upon us, but in our hearts are to recognize that the entire weight and responsibility rest with the Lord. Long ago some one said, "I am immortal until my work is finished;" and we may rely upon it that this is practically true of all engaged in the Lord's service --that "Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints."
Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own steadfastness. But grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. 2 Peter 3:17,18
We grow in knowledge as we take note of the promises of God, and by faith apply them to ourselves, and seek to discern in our lives the fulfilment of those promises; we grow in grace simultaneously, for unless each item of knowledge be received into a good and honest heart, and bring forth its measure of obedience and righteousness (grace), we will not be prepared for the next step of knowledge, and would thus be stopped, or possibly turned back. And as a loss of knowledge would mean a measurable loss of grace, so also a loss of grace would mean a corresponding loss of knowledge--going into darkness, the promises of the Lord's Word becoming more and more dim and obscured, in proportion as our goodness or grace would be lost in worldliness or sin.
We are not of the night, nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as do others. 1 Thessalonians 5:5,6
THE Christian, as a disciple of the Lord, as a pupil in the school of Christ, is being fitted for a place in the Millennial kingdom--for a share in its glory, honor and immortality....Hence, we see the necessity for the frequent admonitions of the Scriptures, that the Lord's people shall be awake;--not of those who slumber; not of those who are idle; not of those who are overcharged with the cares of this life; but that they be fervent in spirit, serving the Lord. Their service toward the Lord is primarily the bringing of themselves into as close harmony with the Lord's will, and into as close likeness to the divine pattern as possible; and secondly, it is that by precept and example they may help others of the called ones in the same narrow way.
I pray for them...that they all may be one... that they may be made perfect in one...that the world may know that Thou hast...loved them, as Thou hast loved Me. John 17:9,20-23
IN amazement we inquire, How can this be? Our Lord Jesus was always in perfect harmony with the Father--a son who gloriously reflected His likeness; but it has not been so with us; we were sinners and had nothing worthy of love. Yes, but we have been washed and cleansed, and, however imperfect our earthen vessels may still be, our hearts are perfect in His sight who is able to read the heart. And, as He sees us with a perfect heart--a perfect purpose and intention--striving to overcome the weaknesses and disabilities of our imperfect flesh, and with painful, yet determined effort to do His will, and humbly trusting in the provisions which He has made for our redemption from the fall, God recognizes in us that which is worthy of His love.
Endure hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. 2 Timothy 2:3
THE true soldier does not debate his cause. He is rightly supposed to have settled upon its justice and righteousness before he enlisted to serve it. Thereafter he avouches it and defies contradiction of it. He is ready to spend all and be all spent in its defense. It is glorious to serve Christ in honesty and in fullness of fidelity. There is an ineffable joy in being on the right side, in knowing that beyond the field of blood and the valley of shadows is an abundant entrance into the joys and peace of the triumphant King of kings. For that hope none should shrink from the hardness of battle, none quail before the rage of the enemy, and none tremble before the certainty of hunger, thirst, nakedness, wounds or death.
By grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God. Ephesians 2:8
AS members of the fallen race we were incapable of doing any work which our holy God could accept... Our present standing, therefore, as New Creatures, is not the result of anything that the old creature did, or could have done. It is not of ourselves; it is the gift of God. This lesson must be thoroughly appreciated, else we will be continually in danger of falling. ...So far from considering the New Creature as an evolution of the old creature, the apostle would have us understand distinctly that it is a new and separate creation. We were created in Christ Jesus, God's workmanship--prepared
good works, but not
Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness. 2 Peter 3:11
GOD-LIKENESS certainly cannot include any harmful gossip, any unclean or unholy conversation, any disloyal or rebellious words. Let such things be put far away from all who name the name of Christ in sincerity and truth. And let us remember daily to settle our accounts with the Lord, to make sure that no record of idle words, unrepented of, and consequently unforgiven, stands against us....If daily we render up our accounts to God and seek His grace for greater overcoming power with each succeeding day, we shall be acquitted in judgment and stand approved before God through Christ, having the testimony of His Holy Spirit with our spirits that we are pleasing and acceptable to Him.
Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses. 1 Timothy 6:12
WHETHER our warfare be of the more public kind or of the more private sort, there must be warfare; and, more than this, there must be progress and victory, else we can never be accepted of the Lord as "overcomers." Another thought should be borne in mind by us all....The Lord in making His estimate will take knowledge of the spirit which actuated us, rather than of the results secured by our efforts....In view of this, let us see to it, not only that we do with our might what our hands find to do, but also that our every sacrifice and gift to the Lord and His cause is so full of love and devotion that the Lord will surely approve it; as done from love for Him and His, and not from vain glory.