Studies in the Scriptures
Zion's Watch Tower
Death and life are in the power of the tongue. Proverbs 18:21
THE tongue's influence exceeds that of all our other members combined: and to control it, therefore, in the Lord's service, is the most important work of the Lord's people in respect to their mortal bodies and the service of these rendered to the Lord. A few words of love, kindness, helpfulness,--how often have such changed the entire course of a human life!-- yea, how much they have had to do with moulding the destiny of nations! And how often have evil words, unkind words, slanderous words, done gross injustice, assassinated reputations, etc.! or, as the apostle declares, "set on fire the course of nature"-- awakening passions, strifes, enmities, at first unthought of. No wonder he declares such tongues "set on fire of
"--the Second Death!
O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the Lord our Maker. Psalm 95:6
OUR judgment is that it is impossible for any Christian to maintain a proper, consistent walk in life, and to build up such a character and faith structure as are represented by the apostle as composed of "gold, silver and precious stones," without prayer; more than this, without regularity in prayer--we would almost be inclined to say, without
in prayer: and we believe that the experiences and testimonies of the truest and best of the Lord's people who have ever lived will corroborate this.
Separate yourselves from the people of the land. Ezra 10:11
SOMEONE has well said:--"The Christian in the world is like a ship in the ocean. The ship is safe in the ocean so long as the ocean is not in the ship." One of the great difficulties with Christianity today is that it has admitted the strangers, the "people of the land," and recognized them as Christians. It does injury, not only to the Christians, by lowering their standards (for the
will be considered the standard), but it also injures the "strangers," by causing many of them to believe themselves thoroughly safe and needing no conversion, because they are outwardly respectable, and perhaps frequently attendants at public worship.
The servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves. 2 Timothy 2:24,25
SOME of the Lord's dear people have greatly injured their influence in the Truth by display of too large a degree of self-confidence,
, in speaking of the divine plan to others--especially to the learned. Meekness is a jewel wherever found, and is especially desirable as an adjunct and sling for the Truth. Let the Truth be shot forth with all the force it can carry, but always with meekness and humility; and the question form of suggesting Truth will often be found the most forceful.
We know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28
REMEMBERING this, all the Lord's people should be content with the lot which Providence seems to mark out for them--not indolent, but content, when they have done all that their hands find to do,--not restless, peevish, dissatisfied, complainers against God and His providence. It may be that the Lord is fitting and preparing us individually for some special service, and that the permitted experiences alone will prepare us for that service....We are to remember also that we are incompetent to judge of our own imperfections, and hence incompetent to judge of the experiences which would be most helpful to us.
Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. James 4:7
IF we are positive in our rejection of temptation it increases our strength of character, not only for that time, but also for subsequent temptations; and it disconcerts to some extent our adversary, who, noting our positiveness, knows well that it is useless to discuss the matter with persons of strong convictions and positive characters; whereas if the question were parleyed over, the result would surely be an advancing of further reasons and arguments on the adversary's part, and a danger on our part that we would be overmatched in argument, for, as the apostle declares, the Devil is a wily adversary, and "we are not ignorant of his devices." Prompt and positive obedience to the Word and Spirit of the Lord is the only safe course for any of the "brethren".
If a man contend in the games, he is not crowned unless he strive lawfully. 2 Timothy 2:5
JESUS observed God's times and seasons and methods. He never recklessly exposow His life until from the prophets He recognized that His hour had come to be delivered into the hands of His enemies. He did not make long prayers on the street corners to be heard of men, nor exhort the multitude with noisy harangue; as the prophet indicated, He did not lift up His voice nor cry aloud in the streets. (
) He choso God's methods, which are rational and wise, and which are effective in selecting from among men the class which He desires to be heirs of the promised Kingdom. Let those who would so run as to obtain the prize, mark these footprints of the Master, and be filled more and more with His Spirit.
Into whatsoever house ye enter, first say, Peace be to this house. And if the son of peace be there, your peace shall rest upon it: if not, it shall turn to you again. Luke 10:5,6
EACH laborer in the present harvest should note well the Lord's instruction in these verses. Wherever the Lord's representatives go peace should go, not strife, confusion, turmoil, quarreling. True, the Truth will prove to be a sword that will arouse opposition, yet it should be the Truth that causes the opposition and division and not any rudeness or unkindness of word or action on the part of the Lord's representatives. There are plenty of things to aggravate mankind in this our busy day, and all who have received the Truth should receive also its spirit "speaking peace through Jesus Christ."
If the light that is in thee be [come] darkness, how great is that darkness! Matthew 6:23
THE "harvest" is a time for winnowing the "wheat" --a sifting, a separating time, and it is for each of us to prove our characters: "Having done all, stand!" The tests of this "harvest" must be like those of the Jewish or typical "harvest." One of them is the
, another is the
of Christ, another is
, another is
. The Jews were reproved because they "knew not
." The matter is doubly distressing for thoso who have once seen the light of Present Truth, and afterward go into the "outer darkness." It implies unfaithfulness.
If there be any consolation [comfort] in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of spirit, if any bowels and mercies, fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Philippians 2:1,2
WHAT exhortations these are to unity, peace, brotherly kindness! How they suggest to us patience, forbearance, gentleness, helpfulness and
one toward another in the church; that thus the Spirit of the Lord may abound in all, that each may make the greatest possible progress in the right way. Dear brethren and sisters, let us more and more be worthy of the name of Barnabas--Comforter of the brethren. Let us have the Holy Spirit abounding in us more and more, for this is the Lord's good pleasure; that with it dwelling in us richly we may be all sons and daughters of comfort in Zion, representatives of our Father, and channels of the Holy Spirit, as well as of the Truth.
Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life. Revelation 2:10
WE are to anticipate a second attack upon the true church (not upon the nominal system), and this may mean, as in the case of John the Baptist, a second and a seemingly complete victory of the Babylonish woman and her paramour, the world, over the faithful members of the body of Christ in the flesh. We shall certainly not be surprised if the matter so result; but this and all things must work together for good to thoso who love the Lord. We must all die to win our heavenly prize beyond the veil. The Elijah class this side of the veil must and will be vanquished, but the apparent defeat only hastens the Kingdom glories.
Cleanse Thou me from secret faults. Keep back Thy servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me....Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in Thy sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer. Psalm 19:12-14
IT would appear that every intelligent Christian would continually pray this inspired prayer, for cleansing from secret faults, that he might thus be restrained from presumptuous sins; and thus praying heartily, he would also watch against these beginnings of sin and keep his heart in a cleansed and pure condition, by going continually to the fountain of grace for help in every time of need. He who seeks to live a life of holiness and nearness to the Lord by merely guarding against
or presumptuous sins, and who neglects the beginnings of sin in the secrets of his own mind, is attempting a right thing in a very foolish and unreasonable way.
We are ambassadors for Christ. 2 Corinthians 5:20
IF we as Christians could keep this thought always prominent before our minds what a dignity it would add to our character! what a transforming power it would be! what an assistance to the new nature in its battle with the low and groveling tendencies of the old nature now disowned by us and reckoned dead! "Our citizenship is in heaven," says the apostle....While still living in the world we are not of it, but have transferred our allegiance and citizenship to the heavenly Kingdom....And now, as appointees of our Kingdom, while still living in the world amongst aliens and strangers, we as representatives and ambassadors should feel both the dignity and the honor of the position and the weighty responsibilities, and ever keep in memory the apostle's words, "Whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus."
It is enough for the disciple that he be as his Master, and the servant as his Lord. If they have called the Master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of His household? Matthew 10:25
HOWEVER graciously stated, the Truth is a sword which penetrates in every direction, and which as our Lord foretold, frequently sets parents against children and children against parents, because the darkness hateth the light and opposeth it in every possible manner....In view of the Lord's teachings regarding this subject, and of how the wisest presentation of it may be ultimately misconstrued, it behooves every one who would serve the Truth faithfully to be as careful as possible not to be misunderstood;--to let it be clearly understood that we neither participate in nor advocate anarchy of any kind; but on the contrary, are standing for righteousness and the highest of laws, the divine law.
Now we exhort you, brethren,...be patient toward all. 1 Thessalonians 5:14
THIS seems to imply that the better balanced amongst the Lord's people should look with sympathy upon and exercise patient forbearance not only toward the weak and thoso who lack courage, but toward
; including thoso who have too much courage and self-push.... Growth in knowledge helps us to grow in this grace of patience, for as we appreciate more and more the heavenly Father's patience with us it helps us to apply the same principle toward others. ...The thought that our heavenly Father has favored and called any one should make us extremely careful how we would co-operate with the Lord in respect to the call, and be as helpful as possible to all thoso who are seeking to walk with us in the footsteps of our Lord in the narrow way.
In everything give thanks. 1 Thessalonians 5:18
HAVING the condition of heart which is in fellowship with the Lord and fully devoted to the doing of His will, the Lord's people not only implore His blessing at the beginning of each day, and present their thanks at the closo of each day, but in all of life's affairs they seek to remember that they have consecrated their all to the Lord, and by faith look up to Him in all the affairs of life;--and in proportion to the importance of their undertakings they, by faith, realize the association of God's providence with all the interests of life and give thanks accordingly. This is the will of God concerning us;--He wills that we live in such an attitude of constant regard for His will and for His blessing;--and He wills it in respect to us because it will be the condition most favorable to our progress in the narrow way, and which will best assist us in making our calling and election sure.
Quench not the Spirit. 1 Thessalonians 5:19
THE Spirit of the Lord amongst His people is compared to "a flame of sacred love" for the Lord and all connected with His cause: this flame is enkindled through the divine message in each one individually, when begotten of the Holy Spirit, and appertains, therefore, to the church collectively, under the guidance of that Spirit. In proportion as the church grows in knowledge and in love and in fellowship with the Lord this "flame of sacred love" will make it a light in the world,--a city set on a hill, which cannot be hid.
Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. 1 Thessalonians 5:21
HOWEVER much they should ever come to respect prophesying, or public speaking, the Lord's people should learn proportionately not to receive what they might hear without proper examination and criticism: they should prove all things that they hear, should exercise discrimination of mind, as to what is logically and scripturally supported, and what is mere conjecture and possibly sophistry. They should prove what they hear with a view to holding fast everything that stands the test of the divine Word, and shows itself to be in accordance with the Holy Spirit; and they should as promptly reject whatever will not stand these tests.
Abstain from every form of evil.
1 Thessalonians 5:22
THE exhortation is that everything that is evil, whether it have a good form or a bad form, is to be resisted and opposed....To abstain from every
of evil is another thought--a different one from what the apostle's words in the original would warrant; nevertheless, they represent a sound principle. We surely should abstain not only from evil things, whatever their form or garb, but we should abstain so far as possible from doing things that we know to be good, which our friends or neighbors might misunderstand and consider to be evil things. The spirit of a sound mind dictates that not only evil in its every form, but everything that has an evil appearance even, should be avoided--that our influence for the Lord and the Truth may be the greater.
Whom therefore, ye ignorantly worship, Him declare I unto you. Acts 17:23
is worthy of imitation. All wise people distrust novelty, and incline to say that whatever is valuable has long been. We, like the apostle, should endeavor to show that the true gospel is not a new theology, but the old theology; not a new gospel, but the old gospel,--the one foretold to Abraham;...the one declared by the Lord Jesus Himself and by all His apostles. In proportion as we would show that errors prevail today, which had their origin in the "dark ages", we must show that we are not forging a new theory equally erroneous, but that we have discarded the errors of the dark ages, and have gone back to the first principles and precepts and instructions of the gospel, as announced by the Lord and His authorized representatives, the apostles.
Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness. Matthew 6:33
THE Lord's people of spiritual Israel will do well to bear this thought continually in mind--that spiritual interests are to be given the preference always; that temporal affairs are to be managed and controlled from the standpoint of the everlasting welfare;-- from the standpoint of spiritual growth and development and prosperity;--from the standpoint of the best interests and influences upon their children. They should not only hesitate to follow any suggestion that would take themselves and their families into unfavorable, godless surroundings, but they should determine that not under any consideration would they follow such a suggestion;--that on the contrary the Lord's people should be their people, even though this meant less of the comforts and luxuries of this present life.
Wist ye not that I must be about My Father's business? Luke 2:49
SHOULD we not all have the Master's Spirit, expressed by His words?...The Lord's true saints have no business of their
, for they gave their all to the Lord at consecration. Their business they manage as trustees for the Lord--not to be turned over at their death, in prosperous condition, to their children or their friends, possibly to their injury. It is to be used by the trustee as wisely as he knows how before death; for then his trusteeship ends, and he must render his account.
And now abideth faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:13
AS love is the most excellent thing, so is it the most enduring,...for will not faith practically come to an end when we shall see and know thoroughly? And will not hope practically be at an end when we shall reach the fruition of all our hopes and be possessors of the fullness of our heavenly Father's promises? Love, however, will never fail, even as it had no beginning. God is love, and since He was without beginning, so love was without beginning; because it is His character, His disposition; and as He endureth forever, so love will endure forever.
Holy Father, keep through Thine own name those whom Thou hast given Me, that they may be one, as we are. John 17:11
AS we come to consider this beautiful expression of the Lord's sentiments with reference to the church, we catch a glimpse of the glory of the blessed oneness of the divine family. It is a oneness of purposo, a oneness of confidence, a oneness of sympathy, a oneness of love, a oneness of honor, and a oneness of mutual possession. This oneness our Lord described as already existing between Himself and the Father, but so far as His disciples are concerned it was and still is prospective; and its full accomplishment is the ideal goal toward which we are taught to aspire.
We know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him: for we shall see Him as He is. 1 John 3:2
LET the hope that we shall soon experience our resurrection change, and be made like our dear Redeemer, and see Him as He is, and share His glory in the great "epiphania," or shining forth of the sons of God in the glory of the Kingdom, enthuse us--let this energize our hearts, loose our lips, and strengthen us for every duty, privilege and opportunity--to serve our Master and the household of faith. If this hope has been an anchor to the Lord's people for so many centuries, how much more does it mean to us who are living now in the very time of His presence, waiting for His
--His revealing in the glory of the Kingdom!
Love...is kind. 1 Corinthians 13:4
IT is no more obligatory upon the Lord's people to denounce every wrongdoer whom they may meet in the street than it is for them to tell all homely persons they may see of their lack along the lines of beauty. ...Politeness is always a part of Christian character. In the world it may be a polish, but in the Christian it is not merely a veneer, but represents the true sentiments of the heart, developed along the lines of the spirit of life--love. Love leads to gentleness, patience, kindness, etc., and even in the case of disobedience it will hesitate to utter an unkind word, and will avoid the same so far as duty will permit.
Henceforth know we no man after the flesh. 2 Corinthians 5:16
THE apostle did not mean that we should pay no attention to the shortcomings of the flesh, either in ourselves or in other members of the body. All fleshly weaknesses should be striven against, and they may frequently demand rigorous treatment in the interest of the New Creature; but nevertheless, we are to distinctly differentiate between the New Creature and his weak mortal body, and are to love and sympathize with the brother, while it may be necessary for us, in his interest, and also in the interest of the church, to reprove or rebuke or otherwise correct his wrong course. The apostle's definition as to how we are to know the two classes apart is that the unregenerate will mind the things of the flesh, while the regenerate will mind the things of the Spirit.
Preach the Word; be instant in season, out of season. 2 Timothy 4:2
THIS cannot mean that we are to violate the laws of reason and decency by intruding the good tidings upon others at times inconvenient and unseasonable to them; but it does mean that we are to have such a love for the Truth, such an earnest desire to serve it, that we will gladly accept the opportunity to do so, however inconvenient it may be for ourselves. It is the chief business of our lives, to which life itself even is subservient, and hence, no opportunity for service must be laid aside.
Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss. James 4:3
LET us learn to pray aright, as well as to labor and to hope aright; and in order to do so let us be swift to hear, slow to speak, swift to hearken to the Word of the Lord and to the lesson which He has already given us, and to His method of instructing us and guiding us and blessing us. Let us be slow to tell Him what our preferences are; indeed let us seek to attain that development of Christian character which will permit us always not to seek our own wills, but the will and the way of our Father in heaven.
Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. Matthew 5:16
NOT only shall it be true that the Lord's Anointed One shall be head and shoulders above all others, "the chiefest among ten thousand, the one altogether lovely," but it should also be true to a considerable extent that all thoso who are intimately associated with the members of the body of Christ in the present life--before He is proclaimed King of the whole world--should be able to recognize the largeness and grandeur of character in thoso whom the Lord is choosing for this place of honor in the affairs of men. They should be able to take knowledge of them that they have been with Jesus, should see their largeness of heart, their moral heights--should discern in them the spirit of a sound mind.
If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the fiery furnace, and He will deliver us out of thy hand, O king; but if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up. Daniel 3:17,18
THE answer of the Hebrews to Nebuchadnezzar,-- "Our God whom we serve," is worthy of note. They not only acknowledged God and worshipped Him but they additionally
Him, according as they had opportunity....Let us resolve, dear brethren, as did the three Hebrews, that we will worship and serve only the Lord our God--that we will neither worship nor serve sectarianism, in any of its many forms, nor mammon, with its enticements and rewards, nor fame, nor friends, nor self. God "seeketh such to worship Him as worship Him in spirit and in truth," is the declaration of our Lord and Head.