Studies in the Scriptures
Zion's Watch Tower
DEVELOPMENT OF CHRIST-LIKENESS
"As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good
unto all men, especially unto them who are of the Household
Development of character-likeness to our Lord Jesus Christ is the first duty of every consecrated child of God.
"Hereunto we were called," as the Apostle suggests, not especially to do something for somebody else, but especially to develop our own individual character—to fight a good fight, to lay hold on eternal life, to get the blessings which God has invited us to have. Nothing that we can possibly do for others should be considered as appropriate for taking the place of the work which He has given us to do for ourselves individually.
Apparently many good people make a mistake along this line. We see the great institutions of the various denominations arranging for the world’s conversion and entertainment, but at the same time there is a lamentable neglect to provide for their own growth in grace and in knowledge of the Word of God. All this is contrary to the teachings of the Bible. What God’s people are to do for the world is to be merely secondary, merely what opportunity may offer. Their chief work is to be for
It is important that we get this thought well grounded in our minds. Otherwise it might be with us as St. Paul points out—that while preaching to others, we might ourselves become castaways.—
But while we are developing ourselves, and while assured by the Scriptures that in due time we shall reap if we faint not, there is, nevertheless, something we can do beyond ourselves. As we have opportunity, we may do good to anybody, to everybody. These opportunities
are various. But in choosing what we shall do, we should remember the Apostle’s injunction, "As we have opportunity, therefore, let us do good unto all men,
unto them that are of the Household of Faith."
To our understanding, the Household of Faith is composed of those who have "the faith once delivered unto the saints." (Jude 3.) To accept that faith means much more than to say, "Good Master, what good thing shall I do?" It means that one who has the faith as set forth in the Word of God would take the steps which the Master indicated as necessary for membership in the Household. Therefore there are a great many people who have not entered the Lord’s Household at all. The Master did not say, "If you wish to be numbered amongst My disciples, you may do thus; or, if you prefer, you may do so-and-so." On the contrary, He said, "If any man will come after Me, let Him deny Himself, take up his cross, and FOLLOW ME."—
Addressing the Household of Faith, St. Paul declared, "Ye are called in ONE HOPE of your calling." (
.) The invitation given to the Church of the Gospel Age was but
invitation; and those who accepted it are declared to be a Royal Priesthood, a Holy Nation, a Peculiar People. (
.) We learn, however, from other Scriptures that amongst those who accept the invitation and consecrate themselves to God there are two classes, the Little Flock, and the Great Company, the antitypical Priests and Levites. The one class faithfully perform their consecration vow. The other class lose their first love in a measure. While they do not become enemies of God, they live an indifferent life.
They are not overcomers. Although they serve in many ways, and although on the whole they are good people, yet they do not come up to the standard set for admission into the priestly class. Therefore they will not have an abundant entrance into the Messianic Kingdom, but must "wash their robes and make them white in the blood of
the Lamb"; for to some degree they have been derelict. (
.) They will constitute the antitypical Levite class, who will have a future service to perform in connection with the Royal Priesthood.
WHO CONSTITUTE THE HOUSEHOLD OF FAITH?
In seeking for opportunities of service, the Lord’s people are to recognize that they are to discriminate in favor of the Household of Faith rather than the world of mankind. Whatever time we do not need for ourselves should be used in connection with the members of the Household of Faith. Should any one ask, "Why should you not give all your time to those who are not of that Household? Why should you not do slum work, etc.?" we reply that those who are engaged in such work are a class who do not understand the Divine Plan. We are not finding fault with them, however; for we sympathize with everything that makes for human uplift.
But first of all should be our own personal uplift; and next should be our work for the Household of Faith.
The reason this order of procedure should be followed, is that God Himself is dealing only with that Household at this time.
Those who are doing slum work, etc., have the thought in mind that God is dealing with mankind in general now, and that now is the world’s only opportunity for getting eternal life. With the erroneous thought that mankind are in danger of eternal torment, this class feel that they are doing right to neglect themselves and everything else in order to do this work amongst the degraded. If they had the knowledge of God’s plans which the Bible gives, they would know that the Lord is not now dealing with the world, but only with the Household of Faith.
This statement is in harmony with the words of Jesus, who prayed not for the world, but for those whom the Father had given Him. (
.) Those who came from the sinner class He received—those who had
an ear to hear His message. Whoever accepted that message was treated as a member of the Household of Faith. To such our Lord ministered especially, even neglecting His own temporal interests to do so. We may be sure, however, that He never neglected His own spiritual needs; for the development of Himself as a New Creature was His first obligation—as it is our first consideration.—
#2Pe 1:4-11; 3:18
In the strictest sense of the word, the Household of Faith is the Family of God; those who have offered their bodies to God in sacrifice and have been accepted by Him and have been begotten of His Holy Spirit. All such belong to God’s Family. Some of them are making good progress, growing strong, tall, broad; others are merely "babes in Christ." We might, however, make a distinction between the Household of God and the Household of Faith. The latter seems to be a broader term which includes those who are drawing near to "the faith once delivered to the saints" and are seeking to attain it; those who are prospective members of the Family of God, who will finally become so strong in faith and zeal that they will render a reasonable service and will present their bodies as living sacrifices, "holy, acceptable to God."—
We perceive this to be the proper course for development in character-likeness to Christ. First, we are to make our own calling and election sure by cultivating all the fruits and graces of the Holy Spirit; then we are to keep on the alert to note and to gladly avail ourselves of all opportunities in the service of God which in His providence are opened up to us. These we are to use primarily in favor of the necessities of the Household of Faith, and then on behalf of anybody and everybody who may need assistance. The helping of those in need does not mean, however, that we should give them luxurious things or enough to last them the remainder of life, but that we should give them enough to assist them
through their stress—a coat, a hat, a dress—whatever we could spare that they might need. If we see anyone who apparently is in condition to have the eyes of his understanding opened to the Truth of God’s Word, we might well consider it a good opportunity for us to assist him. Thus we might neglect our temporal interests and spare the time to help such a person. But under no conditions should we neglect our own spiritual growth.
"STUDY TO SHOW THYSELF APPROVED UNTO GOD"
In order to grow in the fruits and graces of the Holy Spirit, it is necessary that we study the Word of God.
Furthermore, since we have the treasure of the new mind in earthen vessels that are leaky by nature, it is necessary that we study continually. No true Christian, therefore, would think for a moment of ceasing to study the Word, whether by direct reading of the Bible or by reading THE STUDIES IN THE SCRIPTURES, which put the Word of God into a form especially arranged for topical study.
A certain amount of spiritual refreshment comes also in connection with the morning hymn, the Manna text and the Vow. This refreshment we recommend to be partaken of every morning before breakfast—if possible as a family; if not, then individually. A few minutes spent in thinking of Heavenly things, in returning thanks to God and in singing a song of praise should result very profitably spiritually. In some way the Lord’s people should keep in touch with His Word continually; otherwise the New Creature life will wither.
There is also another kind of study which seems to be overlooked, even by those who study His Word faithfully.
The study to which we now refer should be in progress from the moment when we awaken in the morning until we fall asleep at night. We should continually study to
what we already know respecting God, respecting the Bible, respecting His will, respecting our duty toward others and toward ourselves, respecting the
Golden Rule, etc. In other words, every Christian should daily, hourly, continually, be studying more and more how to
anger, malice, hatred, envy, strife, evil-speaking, and all other works of the fallen flesh and of the Adversary; and with equal perseverance he should be studying diligently how to
the graces of the Holy Spirit—meekness, gentleness, patience, long-suffering, brotherly-kindness, love.
All of the Bible, all that we learn respecting it, all the lessons taught us by Divine providences, and all the advantages we receive from fellowship with the brethren—all these are merely preparations for the great study of life—how best to perform the will of God in thought, word and deed. We emphasize this kind of study for the reason that we perceive that many of the Lord’s people do not understand the matter. They seem to think that their spirituality depends upon the number of hours which they spend in Bible study. Thus they are grasping only a fraction of the Truth. The great blessings come from our efforts to
the principles which we have already learned from the Bible. This study requires, not that we should have our Bibles ever in hand, but that we should continually bear in mind the things which we have already studied from God’s Word, in order to make practical application of them in the affairs of life, in our thoughts, words and doings toward God, toward our fellowmen, toward ourselves.
If to the right or left I stray, That moment, Lord, reprove; And let Thy goodness chase away All hindrance to Thy love.
Oh, may the least omission pain My well-instructed soul, And send me to the blood again, Which makes and keeps me whole.