Matthew 14:22-33 – How To Walk On Water

Jesus walks on water - Matthew 14

And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water. And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus. Matthew 14:28, 29

Very early in that morning, Jesus’ disciples were in their little boat on the sea of Galilee. A strong, contrary wind whipped boisterous waves against them. There was almost something personal about this adverse gale.

A Joyous Multitude

It had been a remarkable day. Thousands had come to hear Jesus. The disciples felt honored to be associated with the wonderful Teacher. The crowds hung on his gracious words. His doctrines and manner of teaching were delightful. There was a thrilling challenge in his message that searched the depths of their hearts.

Every hearer had some notion of the kingdom hope and the part Israel was to play in it. Most were natural, even carnal, concepts, appealing to human pride; were they not the people of God? But Jesus’ kingdom was beautiful—the Lord’s hallowed presence enthroned in every heart.

Blessing Now, Blessing Later

The throng was hungry for His teachings. They forgot their hunger for food. But the disciples became aware of practicalities. They noticed the descending sun, and became uneasy. They interrupted Jesus, whispering that he should dismiss his audience.

Then followed an experience that would make their minds tingle on every future recollection. They became instruments in an amazing demonstration of power: one lad’s supper fed the multitude. What a climax to the day! They witnessed a portrayal of that blessed time when all human needs would be divinely satisfied and they would again be the instruments used of the Lord to convey blessings to mankind. They were learning to live with the power of God.

This is essential to the preparation of the future ministers of the kingdom. Each was a vessel of divine grace, a channel of divine love, an instrument through which the Lord would exhibit the glory of his power to give life abundant to whosoever will.

A Need for Quiet

Finally, the crowds dispersed, and Jesus was left alone with his disciples—but not before another wonderful moment occurred. The people were so elated by the experience that groups gathered, rallying the support of all. The disciples realized that the hopeful congregation wanted to proclaim Jesus their king!

Knowing the people’s intent, Jesus motioned to his disciples, climbing higher up the mountain trail to be alone with God. He longed for that future day when men would respond to divine love in a way more enduring than the fervor of that crowd.

Their Stormy Challenge

He told the apostles to proceed to Bethsaida, leaving him alone with his Father in prayer. The disciples in the midst of the sea, and Jesus on high with the Father, depicted the Gospel age night of weary toil for the Church.

It was hard for them. A hazardous storm had risen. They strained at the oars, their struggles seeming to avail nothing. Their Master’s presence seemed remote. For hours they toiled, the journey taking much longer than they had anticipated. They longed for the sight of dawn and the shoreline.

But Jesus knew. From his vantage point on high, he saw their plight. The watches of the night passed. In the fourth watch, they glimpsed a sight which frightened them. It was Jesus, but a Jesus they had yet to know. He was now demonstrating divine abilities.

Winds and waves threatened their ship;

               yet there was Jesus,

                                                     walking on that troubled water as though it was solid rock.

Consider their fear: Here was a being with superhuman power—power above that of the storm. Even earth’s gravity was impotent beneath his feet.

Our Stormy Challenges

This parallels the mighty power of One whose presence is now recognized by saints on earth. Can we comprehend the vast resources of divine power now available to our returned Lord? He is exercising in this earth’s atmosphere, in the midst of the storms that bring fear into human hearts, the power of the victor over sin, the conqueror of every evil force released on earth.

We do not cry out in fear, but let us shout in worship and praise to our returned King, no longer bound by flesh but glorious in majesty.

“Gird thy sword upon thy thigh, O most mighty, with thy glory and thy majesty. And in thy majesty ride prosperously on behalf of truth and meekness and righteousness” (Psalm 45:3, 4).

The disciples feared because they glimpsed a being with powers of another world. This recognition of spirit realm was awesome. Blessed are our eyes that see beyond human sight to celestial glory. In awe we see that One who today stands here amidst the earthly scene.

We Learn from Peter

We were not with him on Galilee. We cannot feel the might of battering waves, the force of gale, the surrounding darkness. But our proxy was there, Peter. How we love his earnest heart!

In Peter we see ourselves. His lessons were enjoyed by saints throughout the age. Yet now, the lessons are for us. When Jesus and the disciples were united in the boat, the storm abated, the wind dropped, the sea became a great calm. Soon they reached the other shore.

The time of trouble will not end, nor the testing of the saints, until the last is gathered to be with the Lord. That is the dispensational message. There is also a personal message for each saint, pertaining to their walk this side of the veil. It has special meaning for us, in this time of the Master’s presence in the very midst of earth’s troubled scenes.

Peter was reassured by the Master’s voice,

Take courage. It is I! Do not be afraid!”

 What comfort we find in recognizing One who stands before us now endowed with wondrous powers. The earth hears and trembles; Zion hears and is glad. In the midst of so much disturbance, so many demonstrations of the powers of darkness, when all human existence on this earth is threatened, what comfort to our hearts to hear the voice of our Beloved saying,

Be not afraid. It is I!”

 Peter was stirred. He saw that Jesus’ powers could overcome all limitations of flesh. He glimpsed a higher realm. A blessed truth confronted him, and dear, impulsive Peter, wanted to taste that power divine.

Water-walking

The Lord created a scenario, teaching us what Peter sought to learn—how to walk on water.

When Jesus walked upon that sea, he was upheld by an invisible force superior to any power on earth. Here was faith in its fulness, faith-fulness that finds the rock on which to walk throughout life.

Peter asked, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.”

We should not presume, but meekly ask. The invitation comes from him, “Come. Follow me.”

Peter was not testing God. He was asking for the Master’s power to resist the downward force that gravitates the mind to earth. Peter wanted to experience the power of God.

It was an impulsive request. He had not learned that long-sighted vision which the Spirit would later endow. That Spirit recognizes that a heavenly purpose is working on a grand scale. It is our privilege to co-work with God toward that goal. And the Lord utilized Peter’s impulse to teach us lessons.

First we request the Lord’s help to follow him. He does not ask us to do the impossible. God makes ALL things possible.

We are called to walk in Jesus’ steps. How can we do that? He was holy; we are corrupt. Then Peter had to believe that if Jesus gave the word, Jesus had the power. Believe!

Step out of the rocking boat into the stormy sea.

The power is there. This means more than believing when comfortable, in good health. It means to put ALL our confidence and trust on Someone truly worthyto accept him as our TOTAL means of support.

PSALM 20, 7

Jesus walked on water with no visible support. Our visible support refers to job, home, health, family, friends, position, income, material possessions. We cannot depend on them for our peace of mind.

PSALM 118-8

Our Rocky Boats

Believing meant stepping out of the boat. Even a rocky boat is some means of support. Each human strength is like that rocky boat. Stepping out of the boat requires faith.

HEBREWS-11-1-6

Are we then at the mercy of the waves? No, we are abandoning the things that can be shaken and placing our feet on solid rock. Matthew 14:30 records the situation: “When he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord save me! And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?”

No one can see what supports the child of faith through tribulation and weakness. But the visible effect of faith can be seenpeace, confidence, joy, at times when the world would expect utter dejection and expect us to sink!

The window of the heart opens to heaven when this body of death is locked in its prison.

PSALM 61, 1-2

The attitude of prayerful praise is the visible evidence of the rock of faith. The confining of the body quickens the spirit of perception that enjoys glorious liberty as God’s sons.

Paul, too, stepped out of a boat and walked on water: “Bonds and afflictions wait for me, but none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto me.” We look not at the things that are seen, but at the things that are unseen. No overcomer cowers in the boat. How frightening, when poor Peter found himself sinking!

Our failures teach us deep and permanent lessons.

All saints experience boisterous winds and waves, dark and threatening contradictions to our faith.

Every step of walking on water is a test of faith.

PSALM 73-26

There is no retirement from the life of faith. As the years advance, we become like Enoch: this walk with the Lord becomes so absorbing to our mind that we do not see death, only the victorious Lord at the side of God’s throne, his voice ringing out, “Come!” This is the victory . . . your faith.”

At Golgotha, visible evidence indicated that Jesus had been abandoned. Yet that ultimate contradiction to his faith proved its very reality, faith FULL unto death. Faith is knowing our Father’s abiding faithfulness. We know he is there, he is for us, he knows every detail required to bring us to himself in the bond of perfect trust.

When Peter stepped out, he needed something more sure than the rocking ship made with human hands. He needed the most dependable power that exists. To reach for it, he needed faith that can let go, as surely as it can cling!

Reaching to Jesus

Matthew 14, Mark 6, and John 6, each add some precious detail. We read in Mark 6:48, that as the wonderful Master walked upon those waves, he seemed to be passing them by, proceeding towards the shore. It was this realization that spurred Peter on to request the Lord’s command to follow him.

Peter did not want the Lord to pass him by. He wanted to walk with Jesus. We do not want the Lord to pass us by. We cannot merely watch him from the uncertain safety of our storm-dashed ship.

We are not arm-chair saints.

Our faith is on trial NOW.

THIS is the hour to realize the power of total trust.

Why wait for that hour of tribulation when our ship may break on the rocks? The truth is staring at us today. Jesus defies that which is seen by natural sight. Contradictions are real. This body of humiliation contradicts the high aspirations of the new mind. It humiliates our pure desire for a holy life. Let our clay vessels manifest the miracle of God’s power.

2 COR. 4, 16

Everyone, not just the Lord’s people, eventually lose the things on which human security depends—health, strength, partner, friends. All have a coded date-stamp beyond which corruption will set in. How vital to our peace that we learn to walk on water NOW, before that evil day.

Then shall we know the triumph of faith that conquers the fury of every storm. Then shall we say:

Let the chill mists gather round me.
Let the lights of earth grow dim.
Leave me Jesus, only Jesus.
I am Satisfied with him.

*****

HEB. 10, 23

 

Acknowledgment

Br. Donald Holliday — for the above study.

*****

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1 THESSALONIANS 5:18 – Give Thanks In All Circumstances

love.jpg

Thankfulness for the Heavenly Father’s limitless love and mercy aids in the growth in grace and develop “the fruits” of God’s character — “(22) love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, (23) gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law” (Galatians 5:22-23).

Some one has suggested that these fruits of the spirit of God might be defined as the following:

  1. Joy — is Love exultant;
  2. Peace — is Love in repose;
  3. Longsuffering — is Love enduring;
  4. Gentleness — is Love in society;
  5. Goodness — is Love in action;
  6. Faithfulness — is Love on the battlefield of life.
  7. Meekness — is Love in resignation.
  8. Temperance — is Love in training.

[See “Studies in the Scriptures” Volume 6, page 186.]

Praising God for Your Current Situation

“Since as Christians we have learned that it is our privilege to be always rejoicing — to rejoice evermore and in everything give thanks — we need not, like the world, wait for special manifestations of Divine favor to call forth our praise, our homage of heart and our grateful obedience to the Lord. Rather, learning that Divine providence is in all of our affairs, ready to shape them for our good, we may rejoice ‘whatever lot we see, since ’tis God’s hand that leadeth us.’ Someone has well said: ‘If we are not ready to praise God where we are, and with our conditions and circumstances as they are, we should not be likely to praise Him if we were differently circumstanced and our conditions just that which now seems to us most desirable. Daniel could sleep better in the den of lions than Darius in the royal palace; he who could not find rest in a lion’s den, when that was the place for him, could not gain rest by a mere removal to a palace’ ” (“From Philippi To Athens,” The Herald of Christ’s Kingdom, Aug. 1921).

It is our own self which must be changed, not our circumstances or our possessions, in order to for us to have a heart that overflows with joy and praise.

How do you change self? 

(1) ASK God for help —

James 1:5 says: “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.

Before reading any further, please take a moment now, to pray to the Heavenly Father through Christ, asking for God’s Divine help in your matter … concerning your current situation — asking for God’s help to be pleasing to Him, thankful for your current circumstances as ALL THINGS are WORKING OUT FOR YOUR GOOD according to Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

(2) APPLY EFFORT

Attaining a crown of glory is dependent upon our progress in Christ. Effort is required, as indicated in the following Scriptures:

  • “(13) Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, (14) I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13,14).
  • “But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway” (1 Corinthians 9:27).
  • “Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness;” (Colossians 1:11).

What Should We Be Thankful For?

For a start, we have an eternal gratefulness for being blessed with the richest favors of divine grace in that knowledge of Divine Truth which reveals to us the high privilege of becoming sons and heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Jesus Christ to an inheritance incorruptible, undefiled and that does not fade away, and which is reserved in heaven for the called and chosen and faithful according to God’s purpose.

God’s favour toward us revealed to us the hope of everlasting life, as justified, human sons of God and, we understand we have access to full restitution to the divine favor and likeness, as was at first possessed by our father Adam.

And how great was our joy when first, by faith, we claimed this precious promise for ourselves and realized that legally, through merit of the precious blood of Christ shed for our redemption, we had passed from death unto life, and that in God’s appointed time the everlasting treasure with all its attendant glory and blessing would actually be ours! But! Beyond even this, are the “exceeding great and precious promises” to those of this justified class who have been called, according to God’s purpose, to become the bride and joint-heir of his dear Son!

What a grand aspiration to attain to, that is still available to all who seek to know and please our Divine Father in every single aspect of their existence — who are seeking to fill up their void of loneliness and pain and despair with that peace of God which surpasses all understanding found from finding the best vocation in the world — offering their lives as living sacrifice unto God, and walking as Christ did, being trained to become empathetic priests of God to uplift mankind during the Millennium! To be the “spot lights” which magnify and illuminate God’s love, justice, wisdom and power is truly even now, the most joyful moments of this carnality!

What a perfect goal to aim for!

Then, in addition to all these blessings of hope and promise, we had the blessed realization during all the year, and with some of us for many years past, that though we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, as the Psalmist aptly represents the present life, our blessed Shepherd’s rod and staff have been our comfort and our safeguard.

How often has the friendly crook of the Shepherd’s staff protected us from wandering off into by paths and kept us in the narrow way; how his chastening rod has from time to time aroused us from dreamy lethargy and urged us on our way. And at such times we have recalled the comforting words:

“My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him; for whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards and not sons.” (Hebrews 12:5-8)

“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies” (Psalm 23:5). Spiritually, we have feasted on the bounties of divine favor; while in things temporal, under whatsoever circumstances we have been placed, having the assurance that all things work together for good to them that love God, we have realized that Godliness with contentment is great gain, having promise of the life that now is (so long as God wills us to remain here), and also of that which is to come.

Let us give Jehovah not only the praise of our lips, but also the incense of truly consecrated lives, throughout the year upon which we are just entering.

Dearly beloved!

With the start of this New Year, let us consecrate ourselves anew to the Lord in the sense of re-affirming and emphasizing that covenant. Tell our dear Lord that it is still our purpose to keep our ALL upon the Altar of Sacrifice during 2018 and until it is wholly consumed in His service. Then, let us proceed with studious care from day to day to pay these, our vows of Full Consecration, unto the Most High.

As we look back and with sorrow view the imperfections of even our best efforts, and then forward and see the lion-like difficulties that seem to obstruct our onward course, we will need greatly to reinforce our waning Courage with the special promises of Divine Grace to help in every time of need. We have the blessed assurance that the Lord will give strength unto his people(Psalm 29:11). “And call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me” (Psalm 50:15).

As soldiers under our great Captain, we have enlisted in no uncertain struggle, except our own faint-heartedness or unfaithfulness should make it so. We are fully supplied with the whole armor of God, and will be amply protected against all the fiery darts of the adversary if we accept it and carefully buckle it on; we are forewarned of all the snares and dangers that beset our onward way, so that we may avoid and overcome them; we are fully informed as to the policy and course of the Captain under whose banner we have enlisted, and of the part we are to take under his leading.

We have our Beloved Jesus’ constant presence with us, even to the end of our course. His inspiring voice may always be heard above the clash and din of battle—

  • Fear not, little flock, it is your Father’s good pleasure to GIVE YOU the kingdom!” (Luke 12:32)
  • Be of good cheer; I have overcome!” (John 16:33)
  • Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid!” (John 14:1)
  • Greater is he that is IN you, than he that is in the world.” (1 John 4:4)

If we are weak and incline to faint-heartedness we have only to remember the blessed promise, “The Lord will give strength unto his people;” and by our faithfulness in the service we shall glorify God and he will deliver us gloriously from all our foes, both seen and unseen.

How To Pay Our Vows?

When we consecrated ourselves fully to the Lord, we made a promise to God that we would hold nothing back for self.

Our consecration to God, includes:

ALL our possessions, our time, our physical energies and our mental attainments; the sacrifice of ALL our former earthly ambitions, hopes and aims, so that we should no longer pursue them to any extent. This, and nothing less, is what our vow of Full Consecration signifies.

It also signifies, further, that these possessions or personal qualifications, which the Lord terms talents, are not only to be released from the service of the worldly ambitions, etc., but that they are to be so released, not for aimless inactivity, but for the purpose of being utilized in an opposite direction—in the service of God, of his plan and of his children.

In the parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30), the Lord illustrated very clearly how we are expected to pay our vows of consecration to the Most High. He says, “It is like a man who, intending to travel, called his own servants and delivered unto them his goods. And to one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to each according to his respective capacity; and straightway took his journey.”

Here are some Bible verses that teach us something important about thankfulness.

Psalm 100 (ESV)

His Steadfast Love Endures Forever. A Psalm for giving thanks.

(1) Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth!
(2) Serve the Lord with gladness! Come into his presence with singing!
(3) Know that the Lord, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
(4) Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name!
(5) For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.

1 Thessalonians 5:18 (KJV)  — “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”

Ephesians 5:18-20 (ASV) —”Be filled with the Spirit; speaking one to another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; giving thanks always for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father.”

Psalm 136:26 (KJV) — “O give thanks unto the God of heaven: for his mercy endureth for ever.”

Psalm 106:1 (KJV) — “Praise ye the Lord. O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.”

Psalm 107:1 (KJV) — “O give thanks unto the Lord, for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.”

Philippians 4:6-7 (KJV) — “(6) Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. (7) And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

John 6:11 (KJV) — “And Jesus took the loaves; and when he had given thanks, he distributed to the disciples, and the disciples to them that were set down; and likewise of the fishes as much as they would.”

Colossians 4:2 (KJV) — “Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving;”

Psalm 28:7 (KJV) — “The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in him, and I am helped: therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth; and with my song will I praise him.”

Psalm 116:17 (KJV) — “I will offer to thee the sacrifice of thanksgiving, and will call upon the name of the Lord.

Colossians 3:17 (KJV) — “And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.”

2 Corinthians 9:15 (KJV) — “Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift.”

1 Corinthians 15:57 (KJV) — “But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Psalm 95:2 (KJV) — “Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms.”

Psalm 92:1 (KJV) — “It is a good thing to give thanks unto the Lord, and to sing praises unto thy name, O Most High:”

Revelation 11:17 (KJV) — “Saying, We give thee thanks, O Lord God Almighty, which art, and wast, and art to come; because thou hast taken to thee thy great power, and hast reigned.”

Colossians 3:15 (KJV) — “And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.”

1 Chronicles 29:13 (KJV) — “Now therefore, our God, we thank thee, and praise thy glorious name.”

2 Corinthians 2:14 (KJV) — “Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place.”

Psalm 105:1-2 (KJV)“(1) O give thanks unto the Lord; call upon his name: make known his deeds among the people. (2) Sing unto him, sing psalms unto him: talk ye of all his wondrous works.”

Psalm 30:4 (KJV) — “Sing unto the Lord, O ye saints of his, and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness.”

Psalm 69:30 (KJV) — “I will praise the name of God with a song, and will magnify him with thanksgiving.”

Acknowledgment/References:

The Watch Tower and Herald of Christ’s PresenceReprint 3695
http://www.htdbv8.com/1906/r3695.htm

The Watch Tower and Herald of Christ’s PresenceReprint 3135-3138 http://www.htdbv8.com/1903/r3135.htm

“From Philippi To Athens,” The Herald of Christ’s Kingdom, Aug. 1921
http://www.heraldmag.org/archives/1921_8.htm#_Toc517709610

The Harvest Truth Data Base: http://www.htdb.one/

Suggested Further Reading

“1 THESSALONIANS 5:16-18 – Prayer – The ‘Oxygen’ for the New Creature in Christ.” BIBLE Students DAILY post: https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2017/11/04/1-thessalonians-516-18-prayer-the-oxygen-for-the-new-creature-in-christ/

“The Joy of the Lord Is Your Strength.” BIBLE Students DAILY post. https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2016/12/20/nehemiah-810-the-joy-of-the-lord-is-your-strength/

“Thanksgiving in our Hearts” — Adapted, David Steindl-Rast, “Before Turning out the Lights.” The Beauties of the Truth Periodical, Nov. 2003. http://www.beautiesofthetruth.org/Archive/Library/Doctrine/Mags/Bot/90s/2003nov.pdf

“Thanksgiving For Spiritual Blessings” by Br. Jerry Moore in The Herald of Christ’s Kingdom.
http://www.heraldmag.org/2009/09nd_3.htm

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Phileo & Agape Love – Helpful Reminders

1 JOHN 4, 8.jpg

Love is …

perfection of character.

“So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.” – 1 John 4:16

The LOVE that our Heavenly Father seeks to have us develop is a love which is in full harmony and in total surrender to God’s will. When we please our Divine Father of Life, He will bless with eternal life,

“To those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor an immortality, he will give eternal life” (Romans 2:7).

You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48).

One element of Love is MEEKNESS.

Meekness does not mean weakness.

Consider Moses. He was a meek man and did he have a weak character? Not at all. He was humble-minded, not boastful, not proud or haughty.

“Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men who were upon the face of the earth” (Numbers 12:3).

So the New Creatures in Christ, must develop and maintain this quality of meekness, from the divine standpoint.

Another element of love is GENTLENESS.

Does this signify weakness or fear? No.

Gentleness is part of a character of love.

Jesus said, “take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls” (Matthew 11:29).

In Galatians 5:22-23, the Apostle Paul writes, that the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”

To the Ephesians, the Apostle Paul writes, “I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all” (Ephesians 4:1-6).

“Let your moderation be known unto all men” (Philippians 4:5).

“Moderation”reasonableness, gentleness—the spirit of a sound mind, of gentleness, meekness.

This attitude of mind comes in large measure as a result of knowledge of God and his plans (R5840:3). Surely there never was a time when this counsel was so much needed as now!

Let the fact that we know only in part and understand only in part keep us humble and moderate in word and deed and thought (R5249:6).
Temperance, self-control—let men see by our thoughtful (not rash and hasty), careful and considerate demeanor in every affair of life, that we honor our profession (R4809:1, R2460:4).

Here is a practical example:

If we feel the leader of a meeting is not following the best Scriptural course, we must show moderation in our approach—approving what we can, objecting in kindness, meekness, and brotherly love. R3866:2 The Greek seems to carry the thought of reasonableness, of not exacting our rights too rigorouslymercy and leniency (R3128:2). Keep yourselves well in hand, subject and obedient to the will of God.

In 2 Timothy 3:3-5, the Apostle Paul warns against those “in the last days” (today) who he describes as “lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power.” The Apostle Paul then states, “have nothing to do with such people.”

Even in discussing the time of trouble, emphasis should be laid upon the glorious Kingdom which will be inaugurated (R5716:4). We should be using the knowledge we possess, doing with our might what our hands find to do (R5249:3).
Let us be specially on guard that the influence of every word and act should be in accord with law, order and peace—“live peaceably with all men” (Romans 12:18).

Our gentleness toward all men would begin at home—more particularly in the Church—but should be manifested toward all with whom we have dealings (R5840:6).
Messiah’s Kingdom is shortly to be established—this should help the Lord’s people in living an exemplary life (R5840:6). This clause implies the exhortation belongs specially to the closing of this Gospel age—thus, to this time period we are currently living in.

We are expecting great changes soon and can well afford to be generous and liberal in our sentiments toward others (R3128:3).

PATIENCE is another element of love and a part of the true Christian character.

“With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love” (Ephesians 4:2).

Patience is an element of character. We read in Revelation 3:10,

“Because thou hast kept the word of my patience I will also keep thee from the hour of temptation which shall come upon all the world to try them that dwell upon the earth.”

When examining the word “patience” we find that two quite distinct words in the Greek are translated by our English word patience in the New Testament:

  • hupomonee: this is used in the Revelation text quoted above which has a much deeper and fuller significance than attaches to our English word patience. It signifies rather constancy,—the thought being :

An endurance of evil in a cheerful, willing, patient manner. It represents, therefore, an element of character, and not merely a temporary condition or restraint of feeling or action.

For instance, a worldly man might have a great deal of patience in connection with the running of his business;—he might be very attentive to his customers, very obliging, very painstaking, and show no dissatisfaction in connection with the inconsiderateness of his customers; and “patience,” in its ordinary sense, might be ascribed to his conduct.

But the word in the Revelation text rendered patience” signifies such a development of heart and character as manifests itself in an endurance of wrong or affliction with contentment, without rebellion of will, with full acquiescence in the divine wisdom and love.

In Luke 8:15, in the parable of the sower, we read:

“That [sown] on the good ground are they which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience [with cheerful endurance, constancy].”

The thought here is that in order to be of the fruit-bearing class which the Lord will approve and accept to his Kingdom, it is necessary TO DO MORE than to receive the word of his testimony, even thou we receive it with joy—for that class in the parable is represented by the stony ground, which at first gave evidence of great fruitfulness and vigor, but which, when the sun of persecution arose, withered, because of lack of depth of soil. That stony, shallow soil represents, the Lord explains, a class of hearers who rejoice greatly in the truth, but do not endure, such as cannot withstand persecution or opposition, but wither under it, become discouraged. Such cannot be of the Kingdom class, all of whom must be overcomers.

In this parable our Lord shows us that patient endurance, constancy, is the final test, following after the readiness of preparation to receive the seed; following after the seed has been received and has sprouted; following after love and hope and joy and faith have caused it to spring forth and to give fruitage (R.2791).

Patient endurance, then, is necessary, in order that the grain may be developed and thoroughly ripened, and made fit for the garner.

Ah! how important patient endurance seems to be, in the light of this our Lord’s word—cheerful endurance; for we cannot suppose that he who judges the thoughts and intents of the heart would be pleased with his children, even if he saw them enduring much for his sake, if they endured in an impatient or dissatisfied or unhappy frame of mind. They would not, in that event, be copies of God’s dear Son, our Lord, whose sentiment is expressed in the words,

“I delight to do thy will, O God!” (Psalm 40:8)

All of the Royal Priesthood are sacrificers, as was the Chief Priest, our Redeemer and example, who offered up himself: we, as the under priests, have also presented our bodies living sacrifices, and are to lay down our lives for the brethren—in the service of the truth. And God, who accepts these sacrifices through the merit of Christ, informs us that he appreciates or loves the cheerful giver, those who perform their sacrifices of a willing heart, cheerfully.

The other instance in which our Lord used the word “patience” during his ministry is recorded in Luke 21:19. He had just been telling his followers what they must expect as the result of being his disciples during the present time, when sin abounds, and when Satan is the prince of this world—they must expect tribulation, opposition from various quarters; but he assures them that they would nevertheless be fully and completely under divine care and protection, even though the persecutions would be permitted to reach and to affect them. Then follow the words,

“In your patience [patient endurance, cheerful constancy] possess ye your souls” (Luke 21:19).

BROTHERLY KINDNESS is another element of love.

And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; (6) And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; (7) And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. (8) For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:5-8).

The Greek word “Philadelpia” signifies brotherly love (R3949:4; Q449:1).
“Phileo”—is duty love, a love which has a cause or demand upon it (R2807:4).
Phileo love is evidenced in the natural family relationship, and also in the spiritual family, the Church. We may not love our brethren’s peculiarities, their features, but we love them as brethren, whether black or white, bond or free, because they are brethren, comrades in the same race (Q449:1).

Phileo love means to make due allowance for inherited weaknesses and circumstantial misfortunes of others—to deal patiently and helpfully so far as wisdom may dictate, with a view to the correction of those faults, even at the expense of self-interest, if necessary and prudent (R4809:2, 1114:5).

Phileo love means to meekly bear reproof, determining to overcome deformities of character, and prove a help rather than a hindrance to others; no longer fostering old dispositions (R4809).

Phileo love allows one to exercise and manifest the principles of the divine character toward our fellow-men (R3090:2, 1628:2).

Phileo is a love for all who are brethren and yoke fellows in the cause of righteousness and truth, the cause of God (R2037:3).

Instead of disdaining those who are ignoble, instead of putting them away, treat them kindly (R448:2). This of necessity grows out of godliness. As god-likeness presupposes the other graces mentioned, so its development implies an enlargement of our hearts to all who are of the household of faith (R2155:5).

There is also “AGAPE” LOVE…

This is known as Charity (R5693:1, 5208:5).

Greek, agape, is the higher grade of disinterested love; the broader, more comprehensive, or divine love (R3949:4;Q449:1).

Love as a general expression covers all the elements of character which are really parts of love (F186).

We might divide the race-course into four quarters:

(1) duty-love;

(2) love for the Lord because we see something of the glorious majesty of his character;

(3) love for the brethren;

(4) perfect love—for all, even our enemies. (F187-189)

As we get agape love it means that we love all (Q449:1). We must reach this climax of love before we can be counted worthy of a place in the new creation (F190).

Agape Love:

  • Is deep, pure and true.
  • Thinketh no evil.
  • Does not puff itself up.
  • Is not easily offended;
  • Rejoiceth always in the truth and never in iniquity;
  • Is the climax of Christian attainment in the present life, the grace of all graces, which never fades, and which will be perfected when we receive the new resurrection body (R2037:3, 2155:5).
  • Is sincere love for the unrighteous and unlovely, as well as for the good and beautiful (R4809:3, 1114:5).
  • Is a love which is ever ready to manifest itself in wise and helpful activity for saint and sinner; and which pities, helps, comforts, cheers and blesses all within its reach—manifesting and cultivating the disposition which must be found in every member of the Christ company (R4809:3, 1114:5).
  • Is a broad, generous love, taking in the whole world, even our enemies (R5678:2, 5757:2, 5460:1).

We do not attain to the perfection of love at the beginning of our course, but it is the mark or standard which indicates the end of the course (F186).

Love is the chief of all graces.

Acts of kindness will gradually lead to an attitude of love, even where the subject does not seem to deserve it (1628:2).

Love is an experience, and includes in it an earnest desire for the well-being of the object loved (R78:5).

Love excels all the other virtues, because it is the most enduring (R4732:4).

True love on our part will manifest itself in obediencedisobedience is an evidence of the loss of love as viewed from the Lord’s standpoint (R2466:5).

“WITHOUT LOVE I AM NOTHING”

If we could speak all the languages known amongst men and even the angelic tongue as well, and if we were to use these talents in preaching, if we were to preach without being inspired by love, it would be completely unprofitable.

God would esteem it no more than the sound proceeding from cymbals or any brass instrument. Does GOD want to give cymbals and brass horns glory, honor and immortality? Of course not!

If man were to preach the whole Truth in all its grandeur, and have the ability to comprehend it even through the holy Spirit yet if there be a weakness in character development of love towards the brethren, then we could not be fit enough for divine favor and a share in the Kingdom, just like that brass horn would not be.

What a glorious lesson as we attempt to sound forth the praises of Him who has called us from darkness to light! How necessary it is that we speak the Truth in the love of it, with hearts full of devotion and appreciation!

By quieting the mind… and heading to the voice of our Heavenly Father through the inspired words of God in Bible and through prayer, we may learn to absorb and appreciate each lesson step by step as God unfolds it to us. God is the ultimate example of PATIENCE, waiting perhaps billions of years before finally confronting the pain of watching His own firstborn Son being sacrificed on Calvary and be the ransom for all mankind.

And Jesus… has been waiting for the completion of His Bride… His Body members of 144,000 since 33 A.D!

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Everyone knows the saying “take time to smell the roses.”

And in the same way let’s remember to TAKE TIME TO HEAR GOD SPEAK
digest it…
absorb it…
and grow from it…

The Apostle suggests that if he had mountain-moving faith, if his knowledge of Divine mysteries were very great, superior to those of all other men, and even if in his zeal for man or for God he should become a martyr and permit his body to be burned, yet, notwithstanding all this, if the primary influence in these matters were not love, all the sacrifice, all the self-denials, all the labors, even the burning, would profit nothing.

Dear friends,

When we come to get the Divine standpoint of things we find indeed that we have a very high standard to achieve; and yet our judgment assures us that it is right, that it is just, that it is proper, that God should thus set the standard of love as the only standard by which we shall ultimately be measured. But whoever thinks to have this perfect love for God and for man and make no manifestations of it is equally mistaken.

Wherever love is in the heart words, works, thoughts and looks will testify to it, so that he who loves much will serve much.

If we love the Lord we shall delight in His service regardless of failures, regardless of fame, regardless of any earthly consideration; yea, even though the service of the Lord should cause us the loss of human approbation, fellowship, etc…

Hence every true Christian may link the two words love and service, and be sure that his love will manifest itself in zeal. Similarly, love of the brethren will mean a desire to serve the brethren; love of the home and family will mean a desire to do good to them; love of our neighbor will signify a desire to do for his interests according to our knowledge and limitations.

THE RESTRAINTS OF LOVE

The Apostle points out some of the restraints of love.

It cannot be quick, irascible; for “love SUFFERS LONG and is kind” (1 Corinthians 13:4).

  • He who is loving cannot be envious of others, nor covetous of the blessings and favors they are enjoying; for “Love envieth not.”
  • He who is loving cannot be boastful and proud; for “love vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up.”
  • He who is controlled by the spirit of love will not be ungracious, unkind, rude; for “love doth not behave itself unseemly.”
  • He who is full of the spirit of love will not be selfish, grasping, neglectful of the interests of others; for “Love does not seeks its own” (1 Corinthians 13:5).
  • The truly loving one will not be quickly angered, will not be easily offended; for “Love is not easily provoked.”

The one controlled by the spirit of love will not be imagining unkindness and rudeness nor seeking to interpret the words or conduct of others unkindly; for “Love thinketh no evil”.

What a beautiful example we see in our Master’s words to Simon:

“Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat; but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.”(Luke 22:32).

Let us not neglect to pray for our fellow brethren in CHRIST always.

“LOVE NEVER FAILS” (1 Corinthians 13:8).

Reference

The Reprints of the Original Watchtower and Herald of Christ’s Presence, http://www.htdbv8.com

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No GOD No Peace, Know GOD Know Peace

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Let us go on a journey where we shall find PERFECT PEACE. Are you ready?

Our destiny is the mountain top of serene peace and joy, with hope driving our heart towards faith in receiving what one seeks to find.

Let us stick together, with the good things seeping in and immediately clearing our mind of any negative thoughts before our first step upward and onward till we reach our destination.

As we begin our climb, we “breathe in” some thoughts about heavenly peace, quizzing our mind with questions that arise:

WHERE can perfect peace be found? WHO is actually perfect? HOW can we understand God-Jehovah’s perfection?

Here are some answers:

“As for GOD, his way is perfect: the word of the LORD is tried: he is a buckler to all those that trust in him” (Psalm 18:30).

“The Rock! His work is perfect, For all His ways are just; A GOD of faithfulness and without injustice, Righteous and upright is He” (Deuteronomy 32:4).

“The law of the LORD is perfect, restoring the soul; The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple” (Psalm 19:7).

The LORD is righteous in all His ways And kind in all His deeds” (Psalm 145:17).

“As for GOD, His way is blameless; The word of the LORD is tested; He is a shield to all who take refuge in Him” (2 Samuel 22:31).

Your word is very pure: therefore your servant loves it” (Psalm 119:140).

Every word of GOD is pure: he is a shield to them that put their trust in him” (Proverbs 30:5).

The above responses from the Bible writers, whose words were all divinely inspired by God, are all about God-Jehovah.

Now what about Jesus? Is God’s only begotten and firstborn son Jesus—the Messiah—also perfect, and was Jesus perfect when the Heavenly Father, Jehovah, sent him to redeem mankind from the sentence of Adamic death by paying the exact ransom (corresponding price) to be fulfilled in due time?

Here are some quotes from the Bible where we may find answers to these questions:

“Who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in his mouth” (1 Peter 2:22).

“For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin (Hebrews 4:15).

“You know that He appeared in order to take away sins; and in Him there is no sin(1 John 3:5).

“When Pilate saw that he was accomplishing nothing, but rather that a riot was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd, saying, ‘I am innocent of this Man’s blood; see to that yourselves’(Matthew 27:24).

Why did Pilate say this?

Here is why:

“Pilate came out again and said to them, ‘Behold, I am bringing Him out to you so that you may know that I find no guilt in him’” (John 19:4).

Jesus said: “And He who sent me is with me; He has not left me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to Him (John 8:29).

About Jesus, it is written: “His grave was assigned with wicked men, Yet he was with a rich man in his death, because he had done no violence, nor was there any deceit in his mouth.(Isaiah 53:9).

In 1 Peter 1:18-19, Jesus is described as “unblemished” and “spotless”: “We knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ.”

The Apostle Paul explains, He made him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21).

What do the words to be sin on our behalf” mean?

The Apostle Peter explains what it means: that Jesus “himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed” (1 Peter 2:24).

How then can we as humans have peace if we are not perfect? Are we perfect in some way or another?

Jesus taught usBe ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:48).

How then, can we “be… perfect,” if we were already born in sin?

From the second a human is born, we have the curse of Adamitis on us, which is the death sentence. A baby who is even a few seconds old, can die. If we were perfect, death could not touch any human and everyone could live forever as their perfect life would allow no disease nor any harm to take their life. Thus, if we are already born imperfect, how can we find perfect peace?

Let us explain.

We might not of course be able to achieve perfect peace all the time in the current imperfect bodies we have, yet we are to “be perfect” in intentions, as all fully consecrated Spirit begotten individuals are reckoned in God’s eyes as perfect, through faith in the precious blood of Christ’s righteousness and through showing God-Jehovah through one’s thoughts, words and actions just how much there is a desire to DO what is good, righteous, perfect, pure and blameless in God’s sight, to please the Heavenly Father.

It is one’s faith in believing that God can do the impossible—that He could even move an entire mountain, and trusting in God’s perfect love, justice, power and wisdom implicitly.

This isn’t just blind faith.

This isn’t just following tradition.

This isn’t an unwilling, forced upon believing for self-gain or professing faith in God to just to please someone.

In Romans 10:17, the Apostle Paul explains that faith in God and faith in all that is Godly and righteous and pure and perfect, comes from “hearing the word of God,” and once we hear it, then we are instructed to actually examine and study it (1 Thessalonians 5:21). By studying the inspired words of God in the Bible (2 Timothy 2:15) handed down through God’s holy Prophets of old and the Apostles of the first Church (after Pentecost), and by praying to the Heavenly Father with thanksgiving and earnestness of the heart (Hebrews 5:7, Matthew 6:4-6, James 5:16), striving to please God by doing His will (Romans 12:2), then maturity in the faith can be attained and maintained.

“But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil” (Hebrews 5:14).

What do the Scriptures say about the faith of some?

In Romans 4:3,5 we read,

“(3) Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness. (5) And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness.”

Now back to our question: Can we as mortals be classified as perfect and hence even qualify to receive perfect peace?

Here are some answers from the Bible:

“Therefore, beloved, since we have these promises, let us cleanse ourselves from everything that defiles body and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God” (2 Corinthians 7:1).

“Be imitators of God, therefore, as beloved children” (Ephesians 5:1).

How are we doing on our climb? Let us continue taking refreshing sips of pure “water” from the purifying Word of God (Matthew 5:6) for by thinking on “whatever is true… honorable… just… pure… lovely… commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise” (Philippians 4:8) we can take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5).

As we ascend, step by step, going from strength to strength (Psalm 84:7), we look ahead to what is before us (Proverbs 4:25,26, Hebrews 12:2) and patiently (Romans 12:12) with joy, press forward, towards our destination. We are reminded of the words of the Apostle Paul in Philippians 3:13-21:-

(13) Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,

(14) I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

(15) Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you.

(16) Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing.

(17) Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample.

(18) For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ:

(19) Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.)

(20) For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ:

(21) Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.

Let us get to the point of our original question. Where can we find perfect peace in a world surrounded by pain, sickness, tragedy and death?

The short answer is: We can find perfect peace when we stick to the path set out by God—walking in accordance to God’s rule.

What is God’s rule?

It is the commandment that Jesus taught—as a summary of all 10 commandments under the Old Law given to the nation of Israel via Moses in the Old Testament—recorded in the Gospel of John 13:34. Here Jesus said:

“(34) A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love [Strongs #25, agapao] one another; as I have loved [Strongs #25, agapao] you, that ye also love [Strongs #25, agapao] one another. (35) By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love  [Strongs #26, agape] one to another.”

There are three different types of “love” in the world around us and in the Greek language, they are described as: agape, phileo and eros.

The word “love” here in John 13:34, 35, is translated from the Greek word “agape, which is an unconditional goodwill towards all men; love, benevolence, and feeling sincere kindness and good will towards our enemies and those who do harm to us, whether we classify this harm as from ignorance or not.

Agape love, thinks of others as better than one’s own self (Philippians 2:3).

In 1 John 3:15 we are explained that “Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.”

What a pleasure it is to be in the midst of such who speak kindly to and about others. These are described in Psalm 92 who “flourish like the palm tree” …. whostill bring forth fruit in old age.

In Titus 3:2 we are reminded, “to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people.”

Here we are taught to rather hate the sin and AGAPE our brother and sister in Christ,  since we do not have a perfect mind in the same sense that our Beloved, Christ Jesus had when he was in the flesh during his human existence.

Through meditation upon the word of God, unceasing prayer and praise to the Heavenly Father, as well as through the experiences of life, we have a privilege to learn, by God’s grace and mercy, to speak the pure language of God. The Apostle Paul exhorts us in Colossians 4:6, “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.” “Not only should our speech be liberal [i.e. free from prejudice, tolerant], temperate [marked by self-control], courteous [i.e. polite, respectful towards and considerate of others], but it should also be seasoned with salt. Salt is a figure for truth. Truth, like salt, has the power of preserving from decay that which is good and pure.We should, therefore, be well established in the truth of God’s Word, that we may be able to answer every one, giving a good Scriptural reason for both our faith and our practice” (Br. Charles T. Russell, R756).

There is a saying: “Positive begets positive.” Let positivity rule our mind by feasting on the beauties of divine Truth in the Bible— keeping our hope in Christ.

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Positivity is a quality possessed in kings. How can a king rule without a vision? (Proverbs 29:18). A king has a vision and such a vision must be possessed by those developing in the School of Christ to be faithful unto death—a vision that sees the positive (Titus 1:15). We have many gloriously positive things to look forward to, which the Bible outlines: no more oppression; no more money issues in the future to cause jealousy or the need to have power; no more killing; no more struggles for food or a shelter or to feel safe or perfectly understood and loved; no more pain or sickness and no more death!

The Heavenly Father has promised a glorious future to ALL mankind as we are told in Revelation 21:4, (4) And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes, and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain; for the former things are passed away.”

There are passages of holy Scripture that talk about the necessity of words of warning. Here are some good examples:

“Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them [Strongs #3560, noutheteō—to caution or warn gently] that are unruly [“idle” (ESV), “lazy” (NLT), “undisciplined” (NET), “idle” and “disruptive” (NIV), “disorderly” (Rotherham’s)] comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men (1 Thessalonians 5:14).

“So watch yourselves. If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him” (Luke 17:3).

We are taught in Scripture to recognize who is a True Christian by their “fruits” of character (Matthew 7:16).

The more one sees their own failures and mistakes of actions, the more one can have compassion, we hope, towards others, realizing that often the more we (agape) love, the more we share in the sufferings of Christ… and this makes the heart long more for that which the Bible promises: the day of perfection in all things when God shall be ALL in ALL and all pain, sorrow and misunderstanding shall be no more.

The Apostle Paul speaks of this time in 1 Corinthians 15:28, “And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.”

How do we agape others and ourselves ?

HERE is where the hardest (upon the flesh) but most glorious (for the New mind in Christ) challenges lie. It is the HARDEST part of our climb up this mountain (1 Timothy 6:12)

It requires our dependency on God’s help through Christ, “and we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Philippians 4:13, Romans 8:28).

A righteous love towards all men is developed from learning to love the Heavenly Father supremely as manifested in the surrendering of one’s life rights and the acquiescence and obedience to God’s will. Obedience is learnt by fixing our eyes on Christ Jesus (Hebrews 12:2)—God’s only begotten, firstborn, perfect son, who died as a ransom for ALL humanity to pay the corresponding perfect price for Adam’s sin and all of Adam’s progeny (1 Corinthians 15:22). If we compare our trials as mortals to our Lord Jesus’ trials—who was sinless yet suffered the harshest mental and physical ignomy and pain—then one’s own experiences seem trivial.

Love (agape) towards our neighbour is all about loving our brethren in Christ as if they were our own body (Romans 12:5). These are the ones who are now in training to be part of the body of Christ—the footstep followers of Christ, and members of the 144,000 and Elect Bride of CHRIST (Revelation 7:4).

If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us (1 John 1:8).

May we seek to have a character like our Lord Jesus; to have a CHRIST JESUS’ ATTITUDE.

In 1 John 2:6 we read, “The one who says he resides in God ought himself to walk just as Jesus walked.”

The Apostle Paul describes numerous Christ-like qualities of character in Philippians 2:1-11:-

“(1) Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion,

(2) make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same (agape) love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose.

(3) Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves;

(4) do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.

(5) Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus,

(6) who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped,

(7) but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.

(8) Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

(9) For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name,

(10) so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth 

(11) and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

The above words are also beautifully summarized in Galatians 5:22-23“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.”

We are finally approaching our destination, so let us cheer each other onward and upward as to our goal we proceed with great joy and full faith, that we shall see with our eyes what we have longed to see! (1 John 3:2,3, 1 Corinthians 13:12, 13)

In Galatians 6:16 we are told, And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them and mercy.”

Again we ask, what “rule” is the Apostle Paul talking about, which he teaches us, may give us perfect peaceand not only peace but also mercy form God?

It is the rule of a new mind… a “new creature” in Christ mentioned in the preceding verse“For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.

You see forms and ceremonies (just following blindly a religious ritual or offering sacrifices year after year, or week after week) are not the rule, but the new life in Christ, the new creature filled with the holy spirit of God and led of the spirit.

The rule is to “walk in the spirit,” says the Apostle, “and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh; for the flesh lusteth against the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other” (Galatians 5:16,17).

Those who walk by this rule are promised peace (Philippians 4:7) and mercy. Our best efforts to walk after the leading of the holy Spirit will be imperfect in the flesh but God who judges our heart’s, desires, and efforts is merciful and will not allow us to experience one second more than what we’re able to bear (Romans 8:28).

Now if any man be in Christ, a new creature, he has put away the old man—the carnal nature, which is enmity against God and is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be—with all his evil deeds, which the apostle thus enumerates in Galatians 5:19-21,

“Now the works of the flesh [the carnal nature] are manifest, which are these: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings and such like, of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.”

The Apostle gives fair warning that those who do such things, no matter how loud may be their professions, have no inheritance in the Kingdom of God; and therefore they have no right to the fellowship of the saints upon whom, and the cause of Christ in general, they bring only DIS-grace.

They that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and desires.

If we are living according to the rule of the new nature, following the leading of the spirit of God, then we must have these fruits in some measure, even from the very start of our Christian experience; and if we are following on to know the Lord and to walk in the spirit, these fruits are surely growing and becoming more and more manifest to all with whom we are associated.

If those who are in Christ would observe this principle, and deal with each other as new creatures, much discord would be avoided; for the motives and endeavors of the “new creature” would be considered, and not the frailties or mistakes of the “earthen vessel.” (Reprints of the Original Watchtower 1840)

Reaching the Summit!

Friends, here we are at last! Here is the spectacular panoramic view from the summit top! Like an eagle (Isaiah 40:31) majestically soaring the lofy heights of grandeur that surround, so too, the fully consecrated of the Lord “soar” above the storms of life… their resting place is in the shelter of the Most High—God’s “throne of grace” which is approached with confidence to receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need (Hebrews 4:16).

“And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us” (1 John 5:14).

God’s perfect peace comes from sweet communion with the Heavenly Father and His Son, Christ Jesus.

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The peace of God that surpasses all understanding is a truly blessed gift from God which stems from an appreciation of God’s character and striving to copy these same qualities of character and dispositions of mind and heart, in order to gain God’s approval.

It is true to say that all men have lost much of the original likeness of God, but this does not alter the fact that they still crave the happiness and peace which can never be found except under the natural, original relations to his Creator.

Dear friends,

No matter how deep we may sink in sin …
No matter how far we may stray from the path of rectitude…
No matter how low and vile we may have become…

We still need to remember that we are all members of that noble though fallen human race and that God-Jehovah created us in His own likeness, and God knows and feels our degradation. He knows that He made us for higher and nobler ends than those toward which He is ever tending.

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In this painful realization of the absence of true happiness and peace of mind and heart, we humans tend to seek happiness and peace in ways in harmony with the more or less depraved tendencies of the fallen nature—in the poor substitutes which pride, ambition, strife, rivalry, wealth, fame, power, etc., have to offer; but we find that the happiness in these is only delusive, and at most VERY SHORT-LIVED!

The bubble of success may burst in an instant, and the peace and happiness built upon it be utterly wrecked.

“There is no peace, therefore, to any man except in the reestablished relationship between himself and his God. And since this relationship of sons can ONLY be reestablished through Christ, there is no peace to any man out of Christ. ”

Pastor Charles Taze Russell.

“There is no peace, saith the Lord, to the wicked” (Isaiah 48:22).

“Let us follow the things that make for peace.”

(Romans 14:19)

Isaiah 26.3

 

Acknowledgment

Br Charles T. Russell, Reprint 1840

Suggested Further Reading

What is LOVE?https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2016/03/20/what-is-love/

THE BIBLE – The World’s Best Novel. Here is Why.https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2017/07/26/the-bible-the-worlds-best-novel-here-is-why/

His Loving Kindness https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2018/06/19/his-loving-kindness-hymns-of-dawn-no-19/

HAGGAI 2:7—The Desire of All Nations Shall Comehttps://biblestudentsdaily.com/2017/08/29/haggai-27-the-desire-of-all-nations-shall-come/

 

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What is Love?

1 JOHN 4, 8.jpg

Love is …

perfection of character.

“So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him” (1 John 4:16).

The love that our heavenly Father seeks to have us develop is a love which is in full harmony and in total surrender to God’s will. When we please our Divine Father of Life, He will bless with eternal life.

“To those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor an immortality, he will give eternal life” (Romans 2:7).

You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48).

One element of Love is MEEKNESS.

Meekness does not mean weakness.

Consider Moses. He was a meek man and did he have a weak character? Not at all. He was humble-minded, not boastful, not proud or haughty.

“Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men who were upon the face of the earth” (Numbers 12:3).

So the New Creatures in Christ, must develop and maintain this quality of meekness, from the divine standpoint.

Another element of love is GENTLENESS.

Does this signify weakness or fear? No.

Gentleness is part of a character of love.

Jesus said, “take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls” (Matthew 11:29).

In Galatians 5:22, 23, the Apostle Paul writes, that the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”

To the Ephesians, the Apostle Paul writes, ” (1) I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. (2) Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. (3) Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. (4) There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; (5) one Lord, one faith, one baptism; (6) one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all” (Ephesians 4:1-6).

“Let your moderation be known unto all men” (Philippians 4:5).

“Moderation”reasonableness, gentleness—the spirit of a sound mind, of gentleness, meekness.

This attitude of mind comes in large measure as a result of knowledge of God and his plans (R5840). Surely there never was a time when this counsel was so much needed as now!

Let the fact that we know only in part and understand only in part keep us humble and moderate in word and deed and thought (R5249).

Temperance, self-control—let men see by our thoughtful (not rash and hasty), careful and considerate demeanor in every affair of life, that we honor our profession (R4809, R2460).

Here is a practical example:

If we feel the leader of a meeting is not following the best Scriptural course, we must show moderation in our approach—approving what we can, objecting in kindness, meekness, and brotherly love (R3866). The Greek seems to carry the thought of reasonableness, of not exacting our rights too rigorouslymercy and leniency (R3128:2). Keep yourselves well in hand, subject and obedient to the will of God.

In 2 Timothy 3:2-5, the Apostle Paul warns against those “in the last days” (today) who he describes as “(2) lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, (3) without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, (4) treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— (5) having a form of godliness but denying its power.” The Apostle Paul then states, “have nothing to do with such people.”

Even in discussing the time of trouble, emphasis should be laid upon the glorious Kingdom which will be inaugurated (R5716:4). We should be using the knowledge we possess, doing with our might what our hands find to do (R5249). Let us be specially on guard that the influence of every word and act should be in accord with law, order and peace—“live peaceably with all men.” (Romans 12:18).

Our gentleness toward all men would begin at home—more particularly in the Church—but should be manifested toward all with whom we have dealings (R5840).
Messiah’s Kingdom is shortly to be established—this should help the Lord’s people in living an exemplary life (R5840). This clause implies the exhortation belongs specially to the closing of this Gospel age—thus, to this time period we are currently living in.

We are expecting great changes soon and can well afford to be generous and liberal in our sentiments toward others (R3128:3).

PATIENCE is another element of love and a part of the true Christian character.

“With all lowliness and meekness, with long-suffering, forbearing one another in love” (Ephesians 4:2).

Patience is an element of character. We read in Revelation 3:10,

Because thou hast kept the word of my patience I will also keep thee from the hour of temptation which shall come upon all the world to try them that dwell upon the earth.”

When examining the word “patience” we find that two quite distinct words in the Greek are translated by our English word patience in the New Testament:

  • hupomoneethis is used in the Revelation text quoted above which has a much deeper and fuller significance than attaches to our English word patience. It signifies rather constancy,—the thought being an endurance of evil in a cheerful, willing, patient manner. It represents, therefore, an element of character, and not merely a temporary condition or restraint of feeling or action.

For instance, a worldly man might have a great deal of patience in connection with the running of his business;—he might be very attentive to his customers, very obliging, very painstaking, and show no dissatisfaction in connection with the inconsiderateness of his customers; and “patience,” in its ordinary sense, might be ascribed to his conduct.

But the word in the Revelation text rendered patience” signifies such a development of heart and character as manifests itself in an endurance of wrong or affliction with contentment, without rebellion of will, with full acquiescence in the divine wisdom and love.

In Luke 8:15, in the parable of the sower, we read:

“That [sown] on the good ground are they which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience [with cheerful endurance, constancy].”

The thought here is that in order to be of the fruit-bearing class which the Lord will approve and accept to his Kingdom, it is necessary to do more than to receive the word of his testimony, even thou we receive it with joy—for that class in the parable is represented by the stony ground, which at first gave evidence of great fruitfulness and vigor, but which, when the sun of persecution arose, withered, because of lack of depth of soil. That stony, shallow soil represents, the Lord explains, a class of hearers who rejoice greatly in the truth, but do not endure, such as cannot withstand persecution or opposition, but wither under it, become discouraged. Such cannot be of the Kingdom class, all of whom must be overcomers.

In this parable our Lord shows us that patient endurance, constancy, is the final test, following after the readiness of preparation to receive the seed; following after the seed has been received and has sprouted; following after love and hope and joy and faith have caused it to spring forth and to give fruitage (R2791).

Patient endurance, then, is necessary, in order that the grain may be developed and thoroughly ripened, and made fit for the garner.

Ah! how important patient endurance seems to be, in the light of this our Lord’s word—cheerful endurance; for we cannot suppose that he who judges the thoughts and intents of the heart would be pleased with his children, even if he saw them enduring much for his sake, if they endured in an impatient or dissatisfied or unhappy frame of mind. They would not, in that event, be copies of God’s dear Son, our Lord, whose sentiment is expressed in the words,

“I delight to do thy will, O God!” (Psalm 40:8)

All of the Royal Priesthood are sacrificers, as was the Chief Priest, our Redeemer and example, who offered up himself: we, as the under priests, have also presented our bodies living sacrifices, and are to lay down our lives for the brethren—in the service of the truth. And God, who accepts these sacrifices through the merit of Christ, informs us that he appreciates or loves the cheerful giver, those who perform their sacrifices of a willing heart, cheerfully.

The other instance in which our Lord used the word “patience” during his ministry is recorded in Luke 21:19. He had just been telling his followers what they must expect as the result of being his disciples during the present time, when sin abounds, and when Satan is the prince of this world—they must expect tribulation, opposition from various quarters; but he assures them that they would nevertheless be fully and completely under divine care and protection, even tho the persecutions would be permitted to reach and to affect them. Then follow the words,

“In your patience [patient endurance, cheerful constancy] possess ye your souls” (Luke 21:19).

BROTHERLY KINDNESS is another element of love.

“(5) And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; (6) And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; (7) And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. (8) For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:5-8).

The Greek word “Philadelpia” signifies brotherly love. “Phileo”—is duty love, a love which has a cause or demand upon it (R2807).

Phileo love is evidenced in the natural family relationship, and also in the spiritual family, the Church. We may not love our brethren’s peculiarities, their features, but we love them as brethren, whether black or white, bond or free, because they are brethren, comrades in the same race (Q449).

Phileo love means to make due allowance for inherited weaknesses and circumstantial misfortunes of others—to deal patiently and helpfully so far as wisdom may dictate, with a view to the correction of those faults, even at the expense of self-interest, if necessary and prudent (R4809, R1114).

Phileo love means to meekly bear reproof, determining to overcome deformities of character, and prove a help rather than a hindrance to others; no longer fostering old dispositions (R4809).

Phileo love allows one to exercise and manifest the principles of the divine character toward our fellow-men (R3090, R1628:2).

Phileo is a love for all who are brethren and yoke fellows in the cause of righteousness and truth, the cause of God (R2037).

Instead of disdaining those who are ignoble, instead of putting them away, treat them kindly (R448). This of necessity grows out of godliness. As god-likeness presupposes the other graces mentioned, so its development implies an enlargement of our hearts to all who are of the household of faith (R2155).

There is also “AGAPE” LOVE…

This is known as charity (R5693, R5208).

Greek, agape, is the higher grade of disinterested love; the broader, more comprehensive, or divine love (R3949; Q449).

Love as a general expression covers all the elements of character which are really parts of love (F186).

We might divide the race-course into four quarters:

(1) duty-love;

(2) love for the Lord because we see something of the glorious majesty of his character;

(3) love for the brethren;

(4) perfect love—for all, even our enemies (F187-189).

As we get agape love it means that we love all (Q449) We must reach this climax of love before we can be counted worthy of a place in the new creation (F190).

Agape Love:

  • Is deep, pure and true.
  • Thinketh no evil.
  • Does not puff itself up.
  • Is not easily offended;
  • Rejoiceth always in the truth and never in iniquity;
  • Is the climax of Christian attainment in the present life, the grace of all graces, which never fades, and which will be perfected when we receive the new resurrection body (R2037, R2155).
  • Is sincere love for the unrighteous and unlovely, as well as for the good and beautiful (R4809, R1114).
  • Is a love which is ever ready to manifest itself in wise and helpful activity for saint and sinner; and which pities, helps, comforts, cheers and blesses all within its reach—manifesting and cultivating the disposition which must be found in every member of the Christ company (R4809, R1114).
  • Is a broad, generous love, taking in the whole world, even our enemies (R5678, R5757, R5460).

We do not attain to the perfection of love at the beginning of our course, but it is the mark or standard which indicates the end of the course

(F186).

Love is the chief of all graces.

Acts of kindness will gradually lead to an attitude of love, even where the subject does not seem to deserve it (R1628).

Love is an experience, and includes in it an earnest desire for the well-being of the object loved (R78:5).

Love excels all the other virtues, because it is the most enduring (R4732).

True love on our part will manifest itself in obediencedisobedience is an evidence of the loss of love as viewed from the Lord’s standpoint

(R2466).

“WITHOUT LOVE I AM NOTHING”

If we could speak all the languages known amongst men and even the angelic tongue as well, and if we were to use these talents in preaching, if we were to preach without being inspired by love, it would be completely unprofitable.

God would esteem it no more than the sound proceeding from cymbals or any brass instrument. Does God want to give cymbals and brass horns glory, honor and immortality? Of course not!

If man were to preach the whole Truth in all its grandeur, and have the ability to comprehend it even through the holy Spirit yet if there be a weakness in character development of love towards the brethren, then we could not be fit enough for divine favor and a share in the Kingdom, just like that brass horn would not be.

What a glorious lesson as we attempt to sound forth the praises of Him who has called us from darkness to light! How necessary it is that we speak the Truth in the love of it, with hearts full of devotion and appreciation!

By quieting the mind… and heading to the voice of our Heavenly Father through the inspired words of God in Bible and through prayer, we may learn to absorb and appreciate each lesson step by step as God unfolds it to us. God is the ultimate example of patience, waiting perhaps billions of years before finally confronting the pain of watching His own firstborn Son being sacrificed on Calvary and be the ransom for all mankind.

And Jesus… has been waiting for the completion of His BrideHis Body members of 144,000 since AD 33!

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There is a saying “take time to smell the roses.”

And in the same way let’s remember to take time to hear God-Jehovah speak…
digest it…
absorb it…
and grow from it…

The Apostle suggests that if he had mountain-moving faith, if his knowledge of Divine mysteries were very great, superior to those of all other men, and even if in his zeal for man or for God he should become a martyr and permit his body to be burned, yet, notwithstanding all this, if the primary influence in these matters were not love, all the sacrifice, all the self-denials, all the labors, even the burning, would profit nothing.

Dear friends,

When we come to get the Divine standpoint of things we find indeed that we have a very high standard to achieve; and yet our judgment assures us that it is right, that it is just, that it is proper, that God should thus set the standard of love as the only standard by which we shall ultimately be measured. But whoever thinks to have this perfect love for God and for man and make no manifestations of it is equally mistaken.

Wherever love is in the heart … words, works, thoughts and looks will testify to it, so that he who loves much will serve much.

If we love the Lord we shall delight in His service regardless of failures, regardless of fame, regardless of any earthly consideration; yea, even though the service of the Lord should cause us the loss of human approbation, fellowship, etc…

Hence every true Christian may link the two words love and service, and be sure that his love will manifest itself in zeal. Similarly, love of the brethren will mean a desire to serve the brethren; love of the home and family will mean a desire to do good to them; love of our neighbor will signify a desire to do for his interests according to our knowledge and limitations.

THE RESTRAINTS OF LOVE

The Apostle points out some of the restraints of love.

It cannot be quick, irascible; for “love suffers long and is kind” (1 Corinthians 13:4).

  • He who is loving cannot be envious of others, nor covetous of the blessings and favors they are enjoying; for “love envieth not.”
  • He who is loving cannot be boastful and proud; for “love vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up.”
  • He who is controlled by the spirit of love will not be ungracious, unkind, rude; for “love doth not behave itself unseemly.”
  • He who is full of the spirit of love will not be selfish, grasping, neglectful of the interests of others; for “love does not seeks its own” (1 Corinthians 13:5).
  • The truly loving one will not be quickly angered, will not be easily offended; for “love is not easily provoked.”

“The one controlled by the spirit of love will not be imagining unkindness and rudeness nor seeking to interpret the words or conduct of others unkindly; for ‘love thinketh no evil’ “

(Pastor Russell’s Sermons, pages SM272-SM285).

What a beautiful example we see in our Master’s words to Simon:

“Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat; but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers” (Luke 22:32).

Let us not neglect to pray for our fellow brethren in Christ, always while we are in this carnal abode.

“LOVE NEVER FAILS.”

(1 Corinthians 13:8)


The following is from “What Pastor Russell Said – Question Book”

QUESTION (1910) 1 At what point of character development can we say, the crown is ours, and that we are overcomers?

“ANSWER. — I think, dear friends, that the proper point at which we could say that, would be when we reach the mark of perfect love. For instance, you came to the Lord and made your consecration, you entered the School of Christ and began to learn of him. That was about the time you found out how short you were of the proper measure. Will the Lord ever be able to make anything out of me? Now the Lord is going to measure you according to your mind and is waiting for you to get to the mark of perfect love, which is the standard of a perfect character, for none will be worthy of a place in the kingdom or eternal life except those that reach this mark, either now or in the Millennial Age. God has nothing for anyone except those that reach that standard in his mind and heart. He may have weaknesses, etc., and you may speak things that you are sorry for, and must apologize for, but your heart is at the mark–perfect love—and that is the reason you want to apologize, because you have reached the mark of perfect love. You love God, and all mankind, and wish to do good to all, as you have an opportunity. After a person gets where he can love his enemies, he is at the mark of perfect love. He will not be perfect in flesh, for that will not be possible in this age. Many still have to put a bridle upon their tongues, etc., you must hold in the old nature. This I have often illustrated by a bad dog which would represent our old nature, and for which the new creature is responsible. We must hold him in. Our intentions are good, as is shown by the fact that when the heat or excitement of the moment is passed, then the heart goes back to the principles of righteousness, and asks for forgiveness from the Father. He will ask for forgiveness for anything he has done. You might say, it will be harder to rectify this, than not to have done it in the first place. Surely. But that is what you must do, if you want [Q51] to prove to the Lord that your heart is for righteousness, and whenever you find you have made a mistake, you must rectify it. Now, then, if you get to that place, you have gotten to the place where, to my understanding, you are at the mark of perfect love, toward God, men, etc. You desire good for all and injury toward none. From that moment, I understand, the Lord counts you as one having a crown apportioned to you. That is one thing, but seeing that no man take your crown is another thing. After granted to you it still remains that if you are moved from the mark, pressed aside by difficulties, you are not standing this test, and you will not be worthy of being an overcomer. So you see there is a mark of character, without which none will be acceptable in the kingdom, spiritual or earthly. Now we must demonstrate our love and devotion, that is what we live for today and tomorrow, and in all your Christian experience, from the time you enter the school of Christ, for you are to learn of him as quickly as possible and get to the mark of perfect love toward all.


The words below are from Reprint No. 4470 from “ZWT” (www.htdb.one).

STANDING AT THE MARK

WE HAVE heretofore suggested what we now wish to further, if possible, emphasize; namely, the fact that there is a Divine standard of holiness, of righteousness, which, if it be not attained, will mean our non-acceptance by the Lord as members of his Elect Church; and, more than this, our unfitness for eternal life upon any plane. This standard of character, or mark of perfection, as we have pointed out, is not a standard or mark of fleshly perfection, because the Lord accepts amongst his consecrated disciples those of various degrees of mental, moral and physical degeneracy. The justification which he provides makes up for the blemishes of each, for the more blemished as well as for the less blemished. The robe of his righteousness imputed is as necessary to the noblest as to the most degraded, and renders the latter as acceptable as the former.

From this standpoint it is recognized that the heart, the renewed mind, the renewed will, is the spirit-begotten New Creature which is on trial before God. It has professed a thorough consecration to righteousness and opposition to sin, a complete deadness to it, and a determination to mortify, to deaden, the will of the flesh to the extent of its ability. From the very start this condition is pleasing and acceptable to the Lord. Nevertheless, it is Scripturally represented at first as being merely a “babe” condition, according to one illustration, and according to another merely a “begotten” condition. Progress must be made, character must be developed, and then, further, it must be tested. “Not every one who saith, Lord, Lord, shall enter the Kingdom.” Not every one who professes consecration, and newness of life, and self-sacrifice in the interests of truth and righteousness, can be accepted as a joint-heir with Christ. Time must be given for development and for proving.

Love for God they have, from the very outset. But it is not love of the highest type. As already shown, it is largely, if not entirely, duty love. The “babe” in Christ must feed upon the sincere milk of the Word, that he may grow strong. As the spiritual food is appropriated, and spiritual exercise is taken, strength of character comes in, the eyes of our understanding open more widely, and lengths and breadths and heights and depths of the Divine character are discerned which were not visible at the first. This brings us to a higher type of love for God—a love for his glorious character.

Meantime, also, a sympathetic love for the world is gradually developing in the spiritual “babe.” As the principles of the Divine character are seen and appreciated, the New Creature begins to apply these to everything in life, and hence increases in sympathetic love toward man and beast, friend and foe. Another element of love is gradually attained also: At first the “babe” in Christ loves some of the brethren—the nobler, the gentler, the better educated ones, etc.; but gradually, as the Divine character is discerned, and the Divine love becomes shed abroad in the heart, this love broadens out so that it includes every member of the family of God and every member of the fallen race—yea, even enemies. With this development comes spiritual activity, called in the Scriptures quickening—”You hath he quickened.” This quickening implies activity in the service of God, and the service of the brethren, and if outside opportunity beyond this permit, it would mean an activity in the service of all needing assistance such as we could give.

The Christian life here illustrated, which began as a “babe in Christ,” has by this time reached the standard of manhood in Christ, and is at the Mark of Perfect Love—for God, for the brethren, for the neighbor and for the enemies. Not until this point shall have been reached could such a person be considered fit for heaven, or for eternal life on any plane.

We are to bear in mind that there is no development in heaven, and hence perfection of character must be attained by the saints before they die. And, similarly, the world during the Millennium must attain this perfect development before the close of the age in order to be fit for eternal life according to the Divine promise and standards.

Is it asked to what extent will this standard of perfect love in the heart manifest itself in the flesh? We answer, that during the Millennial Age it will manifest itself perfectly in the flesh, for the world then will be judged according to the actual attainments in their flesh, and perfection by restitution will be not only possible, but required. But as for us of the Gospel Age, we who are being judged not according to the flesh but according to the spirit, to what extent will the new mind, the new nature, when at the Mark of Perfect Love, be able to govern and control the flesh? Our answer is, that the degrees of control will vary much, according to the degrees of imperfection with which the mortal body is afflicted.

The only standard which we can set forth is that the new nature, new mind, new will, would be very regretful, very sorrowful, in respect to any laches, or errors, of its mortal body. The Lord would know (and perhaps the brethren also to some extent) of the New Creature’s endeavor to control the mortal body by the degree of its grief in connection with every error, and its continually renewed effort to bring every power of the body, and even every thought, into complete subjection to the will of God in Christ. Any sympathy with sin is an evidence that the New Creature is not at the Mark. And no sympathy with sin, but constant endeavor for righteousness, is evidence that it is at the Mark.

Some may be at this Mark for a longer and some for a shorter period. Our Lord was surely at it from the beginning of his ministry. He was tested there, while at the Mark of perfect love. All the besetments of the Adversary and of the world failed to move him from that position of perfect love. He laid down his life at this Mark. St. Paul was surely at this Mark for many years before his actual death. He was continually laying down his life for the brethren, continually serving his enemies and praying for them; and surely he was continually loving and serving the Lord with his every power and talent.

No Christian should be satisfied with a long delay in reaching the Mark. The milk of the Word should be received, its strength should be appropriated, spiritual sight and spiritual energy should quickly follow, and strong meat of Divine Truth should speedily bring to full maturity the Christian character. And once attained, it should be held at any cost through all the trials and difficulties which the Adversary, and the world, and the flesh, might be permitted to bring against us. The severest temptations come after we have reached the Mark—temptations to slackness in service of God; temptations to withhold parts of our sacrifice; temptations to deal unkindly, uncharitably, unlovingly with the brethren, or unjustly with our neighbor, or ungenerously with our enemies. All of these must be resisted as we prize our eternal life, as we prize the promise of joint-heirship and fellowship with our Redeemer in His Kingdom.

Whoever sees this subject clearly must realize that as a Christian he has to do with a great proposition which will thoroughly test his loyalty, his courage, his zeal, [R4470, page 271] his love. He will need to remember the Lord’s comforting assurances of grace to help in every time of need if he would come off a victor and not be dismayed, nor have his courage beaten down by the Adversary’s attacks.

 

References:

Br. Charles Russell. “Pastor Russell’s Sermons,” and “What Pastor Russell Said – Question Book.”

The Reprints of the Original Watchtower and Herald of Christ’s Presence. These Reprints can be accessed here: http://www.htdbv8.com

Suggested Further Reading

“Lovest Thou Me More Than These?”JOHN 21:15-22. Reprint 2806. The Reprints of the Original Watch Tower and Herald of Christ’s Kingdom.
http://www.htdbv8.com/1901/r2806.htm

A Practical Self-Examination On Lovehttp://www.biblestudents.org/a-practical-self-examination-on-love/

Agape by Br. Mark Grillo
http://www.heraldmag.org/2012/12nd_11.htm

Brotherly Kindness by Br. Ed Byrd
http://www.heraldmag.org/2012/12nd_10.htm

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