1 CORINTHIANS 3:21,23 – A Precious & Very Great Promise

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“For all things are yours; … And ye are Christ’s; and Christ is God’s.” 1 Corinthians 3:21,23

These have more enjoyment of the earth now than have others; while others are grasping, these are enjoying. As the apostle declares, God hath given “us richly all things to enjoy” (1 Timothy 6:17.) Freed from the grasping spirit, we can pass through the streets and observe the rich displays of the shop windows without covetousness, without wishing that we had the various works of art and beauty under our special care and control. We can feast our eyes upon them and be without the care of them at a time when all of our talents are consecrated to the LORD and His service, and when we have more important things to do than caring for earthly trinkets called works of art.  R. 3734, c.2. p.4.


Reprint No. 3733-3737 of the Original Watchtower & Herald of Christ’s Presence

BLESSEDNESS SUPERIOR TO HAPPINESS.

“Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.” Matthew 5:1-16

HAPPINESS describes the joyful moods which come to mankind from time to time, but blessedness relates to that permanent joy and comfort which are the result of the attunement of character to harmony with the divine. The people of the world may at times be happy, and at other times downcast, mournful and troubled; but to those who become followers of the Lord Jesus, and who as pupils in the school of Christ are taught of him, there is a peace of God which passes all understanding ruling in their hearts, bringing comfort and rest even under most adverse outward conditions. The lesson we are now considering describes to us the condition of heart necessary to the possession of the peace of God. In proportion as we get before our mental eyes the true conception and then strive to attain that ideal, in the same proportion will be the degree or progress of blessedness which will come into our hearts and lives to rule there and to keep us in the love of God.

Our Lord and his disciples were on an elevated plane of the mountain side, and crowds of people were coming to hear the message of the great Teacher respecting the Kingdom so long anticipated and which he declared was nigh. His miracles had attested his divine authority as a Teacher, [R3733 : page 71] and this drew the people to him “who spake as never man spake.” (John 7:46) …

The teaching was addressed primarily to those nearest to the Lord, namely, his special disciples, the multitude interestedly watching for any items in the address that would specially enlighten them. It must have seemed strange to all the hearers that our Lord did not talk more about the Kingdom itself, explaining when and how it would be established, etc. But he knew that he must first suffer for the redemption of the world before the Kingdom could come and the divine will be done on earth as it is done in heaven. He knew, too, that the first work in preparing for the establishment of the Kingdom would be the gathering of the Church class, the elect, to be his Bride and joint-heir in the Kingdom. His discourse, therefore, was so directed as to divide the hearers into two classes—some would be disappointed because they were interested more in the glories and honors and dignities of the Kingdom hoped for than in the condition of heart necessary to a place in it. These probably went their way saying that doubtless Jesus was a great Teacher to those who liked his kind of philosophy, but to them it was a very dry and unsatisfactory portion.

Others, though disappointed in the character of the teaching, found something in it which satisfied their longings as nothing else could do—found in it nourishment, comfort, upbuilding qualities. The same is true today: some hear the good tidings of great joy with interest merely in those features which relate to restitution. They are glad to know that there is no eternal torment in the divine plan, but that, on the contrary, times of refreshing are coming to the world, and times of restitution of all things spoken by the mouth of all the holy prophets since the world began. (Acts 3:19-21.) But aside from this, all discussion respecting consecration to the Lord and terms of discipleship, all descriptions of characteristic conditions that would fit them for the Kingdom, are wearisome to them, distasteful. Thus does the Truth always separate.

“THE POOR IN SPIRIT”

The message of this great Teacher differed from all others, and was especially attractive to the humble, the lowly. Whereas others would have said, Blessed are the rich, the learned, the prominent, the rulers, this great Teacher reversed the matter, saying, “Blessed are the poor in spirit”—blessed are those who are not self-conceited, who do not think very highly of themselves, who appreciate their own littleness and imperfection. Astounding! How are such blessed? Surely the world thinks little of those who do not think much of themselves! Surely they will make less progress in the world! Ah, yes! But, says the Master, their blessedness consists in the fact that they are of the Kingdom—of those from whom the Kingdom of heaven class will be selected.

Self-confidence, self-esteem, may win for its possessor a high and honorable place in the present time, but is disesteemed of the Lord; and those who have such a spirit will be the less prepared for the tests and conditions which the Lord will impose in selecting the heirs of the Kingdom, the joint-heirs with Christ. Yes, indeed!—there is a favor and blessedness associated with being little in one’s own estimation: it preserves from many a false step into which egotism would lead. All who are seeking to follow the instructions of the great Teacher, who naturally are poor in spirit, humble-minded, deficient in self-esteem, have much advantage every way over others as respects this particular element of character. And those who are not naturally humble should take heed to the Master’s instruction, and humble themselves under the mighty hand of God, that they may be exalted in due time. (1 Pet. 5:6.) The Lord’s followers, then, should continually [R3734 : page 71] practise humility and be especially on guard against pride, self-conceit, etc.; they should know on the great Teacher’s authority through the Apostle that God resisteth the proud and shows his favor to the humble, the poor in spirit, to such an extent that only the humble will share with the Lord in the inheritance of the Kingdom.—1 Pet. 5:5; Jas. 4:6.

MOURNERS BLESSED AND COMFORTED

Again it seems strange, contrary to the usual thought, to say “Blessed are they that mourn.” The general thought is that those who mourn are to be specially commiserated. What principle lies behind the Master’s assurance that there is a blessedness connected with mourning? We reply that we cannot suppose that there is mourning in heaven—we must suppose that there is happiness, blessedness there. Hence the blessedness of mourning must in some way relate to our present imperfect, sinful conditions and surroundings. Sin is in the world, and death, the wages of sin, is being paid out to the entire human family, carrying into every home more or less disappointment, sorrow, trouble. Where these are appreciated rightly there must surely be mourning. The world is sick and dying; … he who is “merry” must surely be correspondingly irrational. Who but a foolish person could be merry in the shadow of such a charnel-house! Those who are merry under such conditions give evidence of so wrong a condition of heart and mind that we may know that they will require rigid disciplinary instructions (such as will be accorded to the majority of mankind during the Millennium) in order to bring them to their proper senses.

On the contrary, those who do mourn because of a realization of their own imperfections, their own fallen condition, and who to any extent mourn in sympathy with the poor, groaning creation, these have corresponding advantages because of their saner condition of mind; they will be the more ready for the heavenly message, telling of the glorious blessing that is to come through redemption in Jesus and through his Kingdom, which, as the rising of the Sun of Righteousness, shall bring in health, healing, life and comfort to all the families of the earth. Blessed are these mourners now, because they are in that much more favorable condition to hear the voice of him who speaketh from heaven—speaking peace through Jesus Christ our Lord. They shall be comforted. Their comfort shall not wait either until the new [R3734 : page 72] dispensation of the Kingdom shall be fully inaugurated and bring in the blessings of restitution: their comforting will begin at once, for their mourning will bring a readiness of mind to hearken for the Lord’s favor. So to these he will be pleased to make known something of the riches of his grace and lovingkindness through Jesus. They will have therefore the best opportunity for attaining the peace of God which passeth all understanding through the holy Spirit in this present time, and also in the dispensation to come.

Sorrow may be associated with sin and imperfection. It is proper that we should realize our fallen condition and be sorry for it, but this sorrow may be healed at once through the knowledge of the great redemption sacrifice and through our acceptance of a share in the merit of the same. But there is another sorrow or mourning which is not because of sin but because of sympathy. Our Lord, who was separate from sinners, had this spirit of mourning. It was this mourning in sympathy that led to his tears at the tomb of Lazarus, and the same that led to his being called “the man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.”—Isa. 53:3.

In our imperfect fallen condition, even after our hearts are fully consecrated to the Lord and imbued with his Spirit, it will not be possible for us to enter so fully into sympathy with others as did our dear Master; but we are to cultivate this spirit of sympathy, which is a part of the spirit of love, and the more we grow in grace and in character-likeness to the great Teacher the more we will have of the spirit of sympathy, the more sorrow and mourning will appeal to us.

On the other hand, however, the more we receive of this same holy Spirit proportionately we will have the greater peace, the greater joy in the Lord and the greater rejoicing, because of what we will be increasingly permitted to discern in the unfolding of the great plan of salvation under which all who mourn in Zion shall be comforted. So, then, the most advanced Christians, who have the deepest and most holy joy, should be the ones who at the same time would have the deepest sympathy with mourning and sorrow. Who has not already noticed this, that as our Lord and Teacher is the exemplar of perfection, so those who most nearly imitate him are usually such as have had deep experiences in the school of sorrow and mourning, and in whose hearts and characters deep spiritual lessons and characteristics have been engraved?

The word comfort does not contain the thought of relief, but rather that of strengthen together, or added strength. In other words, the Lord does not propose to take from us that noble quality of sympathy which we receive in the school of experience, but he does propose for all those who become his true followers that they shall be comforted or strengthened together, that he will give them a blessing of strength to endure, which will compensate their mourning and spirit of heaviness. He gives this through the promises of his Word and the glorious hopes which he sets before us, and he gives it also through the living epistles of the dear members of the household of faith. Note how the Apostle calls this to our attention in 2 Corinthians 1:4, where many times over he repeats the thought of our comforting one another with the comfort wherewith the Lord has already comforted us. Oh, what a privilege we enjoy, not only of being comforted by the Lord through his Word, but of being used of him as channels for comforting or strengthening or upholding one another during this mourning time, when some, more than others, have in themselves weaknesses and frailties to cause mourning to themselves and to others. Blessed are those who, being comforted themselves, shall be used of the Lord in the comforting of the other members of his body.

“BLESSED ARE THE MEEK”

The poor in spirit or humble minded, who do not think highly of themselves, are unquestionably the same as the meek, the gentle.

The Century Dictionary defines the word meek as “self-controlled and gentle; not easily provoked or irritated; forbearing under injury or annoyance.” Webster defines meekness as “submission to the divine will; patience and gentleness from moral and religious motives.” As we look about us in the world and note the meek of the earth we do not see them more prosperous than others, and our Lord’s words that such shall inherit the earth would astonish us and seem quite untrue if we did not understand that he referred to blessings beyond the present life. Surely the millionaires of earth, that own the larger portion of it and its riches, valleys and slopes, are very rarely to be counted as the meek. And so we see that the Master did not say, Blessed are the meek, for they do inherit the earth, but “they shall inherit the earth.”

When, Lord?

Answer: When God’s Kingdom shall come and his will be done on earth as it is done in heaven—then the meek shall inherit the earth. So, then, if we perceive that the rude, the unjust, the self-assertive, are grasping the bounties of earth in the present time, and if we find ourselves rather crowded out because of meekness, let us remember our Lord’s Word that we are especially blessed, and let us cultivate this quality of meekness more and more, and let us not think to exchange it for a spirit of arrogance and self-assertion and vindictiveness, to grasp earthly fame and name and riches. Let us rather be content to cultivate this spirit which the Lord assures us he approves, and let us wait for the time when this class shall inherit the earth. We perceive that the inheritance will be with a view to giving it to the human family under the terms and conditions instituted during the Millennial age. Then the meek of the restitution class will inherit the earth; they will be given the advantage everyway, and eventually all who are not meek will be utterly destroyed from amongst the people in the Second Death.

The meek ones of the Lord’s followers even now in a measure receive the fulfilment of this promise, as the Apostle declared, “All things are yours, for ye are Christ’s and Christ is God’s.” (1 Cor. 3:22,23.) These have more enjoyment of the earth now than have others; while others are grasping these are enjoying. As the Apostle declares, “God hath given us all things richly to enjoy.” (1 Tim. 6:17.) Freed from the grasping spirit, we can pass through the streets and observe the rich displays of the shop windows without covetousness, without wishing that we had the various works of art and beauty under our special care and control. We can feast our eyes upon them and be without the care of them at a time when all of our talents are consecrated to the Lord and his service, and when we have more important things to do than caring for earthly trinkets called works of art. [R3735 : page 73]

BLESSED THE HUNGRY AND THIRSTY

Our Lord refers to two of the most potent influences known amongst men. To what activity will not hunger and thirst spur us? Similarly there is in some a heart-hunger and thirst for that which is right, that which is true. The majority of people evidently do not have much of this hunger of the soul: natural eating and natural drinking are their special attractions. But all are not so, and there is a special blessing for those who have the soul-hunger to which our Lord refers. “They shall be filled”—they shall be satisfied.

Nothing in this promise implies a miraculous filling or satisfying: the thought connected with the illustration rather is that, hungering and thirsting,they will make use of their time, knowledge and opportunities for seeking the bread of eternal life, which satisfies, and the water of life, which truly refreshes; and that in proportion as these are sought and found and used will be the blessing. We have the Lord’s guarantee of the blessing for all who are in the attitude of mind to seek and to use the spiritual refreshments he provides.

Righteousness here applies to right in every matter—Truth. God is the great standard of righteousness, and he communicates it through his Word, his exceeding great and precious promises delivered to us through Jesus and his apostles. The majority of the world, careful for the meat that perishes, think little of the Truth and get little of it; the few hungering and thirsting for it are filled, refreshed, sanctified by it, and in word and in deed and in thought are being fitted and prepared for still further blessings in God’s due time—participation with the Redeemer in the Kingdom and a share with him in the work of blessing and uplifting mankind.

“BLESSED ARE THE MERCIFUL”

Mercy is akin to love, and in proportion as the fall has effaced love from any heart in that proportion mercy will be lacking. Of course we cannot always judge by the outward appearance, as there are outward forms and expressions of love without the heart. So sometimes mercy is extended without the real spirit of mercy prompting it. Sometimes it is to be seen through the recognition of a principle without a sympathy with that principle. The true Christian learns in the school of Christ not only of his imperfections and his need of divine mercy, but having found that mercy and having entered the school of Christ it becomes one of the most important lessons he can learn to extend similar mercy toward others. The Apostle declares that “Mercy rejoices against Judgment”—against the execution of justice. (James. 2:13.) Strange as it may appear, those who have most need of mercy for themselves appear usually to be the ones least ready to accord mercy to the failures of others.

Contrariwise, those who grow most in the spirit of the Lord grow proportionately merciful and compassionate. Some of the Lord’s people have more to overcome in this direction than have others, and may therefore show less development in proportion to their efforts; but the thought should be continually before the minds of all that it is very unbecoming for those who themselves have need of divine mercy to be sticklers in the last degree in their requirements of justice for others, in their refusal to exercise mercy toward others. Not only so, but this lesson which our Lord so frequently emphasized he intensified when he said, You do not from the heart forgive those who trespass against you, neither will your heavenly Father forgive your trespasses.

… Our mercy must be more than formal, more than an outward forgiveness and reconciliation—it must be from the heart, sincere. In proportion, therefore, as we each realize our need of divine mercy through Jesus, in that same proportion let us be very merciful to others—especially toward the brethren and all who in any sense or degree demonstrate their desire for righteousness.

“BLESSED ARE THE PURE IN HEART”

The word pure is very comprehensive—without adulteration, sincere, unsullied. No member of the human family is by nature in this condition. On the contrary, the Scriptures assure us that the heart of the natural man is exceedingly deceitful and desperately wicked. (Jer. 17:9.) The heart in this text and in general conversation is used not as the name of one of the organs of the human system, but as indicating the inner mind, will, intention of the person. As originally created man was the image of God, and hence was then pure in heart, sincere, honest, truthful, perfect-intentioned; but, by reason of disobedience, sin and selfishness have been developed in the human heart and will, and the God-like qualities originally there have been to a considerable degree obliterated. Hence it is that those who become the Lord’s people are said to have a new heart, a new will, new ambitions, new desires. Where the conversion from sin to righteousness is thorough it is truthfully said, “Old things have passed away, all things have become new.”—2 Cor. 5:17.

To accomplish so radical a change of will, of intention, requires a powerful influence. It may be of fear and it may be of love, but we are assured that the results of fear are imperfect, and that only love produces the lasting, perfect, acceptable conditions. Fear may have to do with the beginning of a change of heart, but it certainly cannot carry the conversion to completion, for, as the Scriptures declare, “Fear hath torment,” and the peace of God cannot rule in the heart that is subject to such distress. (1 John 4:18.) Hence the Scriptures set before us the heart conversion which results from the knowledge of God and love for him, saying, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart,” and again assuring us that “perfect love casteth out fear.”Mark 12:30; 1 John 4:18.

Our Lord’s words intimate that there may be various degrees of impurity of heart, and so we find it: there are some who at heart are really black, devilish; others are drab or gray or speckled. But the Lord singles out the kind of heart that would be acceptable to the Father—the pure in heart. We are all witnesses that we could not claim purity of heart, of intention, of motive, of desire for very many of our friends and neighbors of Christendom, and that so far as we know in the heathen world the proportion would be still fewer. Yet the intimation of our text is that only such as attain to heart purity can hope ever to see God, to enjoy this evidence of his love.

But lest some should be discouraged through supposing that purity of heart means absolute perfection of thought and word and deed, we hasten to correct that thought and to point out that the intention is not always supported by the words and conduct. To will right, to will perfectly, to be [R3735 : page 74] pure in heart, is quite possible, yea, quite necessary to all who would have divine approval; yet how to perform all that they will is sometimes beyond the ability of the Lord’s most earnest followers. The new will, the new heart, must act and speak through the medium of the old body, whose affections are continually in opposition and must be battled against. Hence so long as we are in the flesh, so long as we are obliged to reason, speak and act through the imperfect medium of our fallen flesh, that long will we have need of the merit of Christ to continually cover its blemishes; that thus the new will, the new heart and not the flesh, may be judged of the Lord and tested as to its worthiness or unworthiness of the eternal life and blessings which he has proffered us.

How precious the thought, then, that we may attain to absolute purity of intention, of love, etc., toward all mankind as well as toward the Lord, and that God will thus accept us in his Beloved One, not counting to us the unintentional weaknesses and blemishes which we realize and which others realize perhaps still more than we. How blessed the thought that such will see God, that such have the clearest views of God’s character and plan now, that such shall see him shortly when changed in the resurrection, when they shall have awakened in the likeness of their dear Redeemer.

BLESSED THE PEACEMAKERS

Never was there a time when this statement of our Lord deserved more consideration than at present. We live at a time when envy and strife are in evidence on every hand, amongst all classes, amongst nations, in politics, in business, in homes and families, in nominal churches and amongst the fully consecrated of the true Church. The tendency toward strife is evidently somewhat associated with the strenuous times in which we live; but all the more those who are true members of the body of Christ are to remember the Scriptural injunction, “Follow peace with all men;” and again, “Be at peace amongst yourselves.” (Heb. 12:14; 1 Thess. 5:13.) Some of the best people in the world have the organ of combativeness large, but proportionately they need to have love to control it, so that they shall combat only those things which are evil and injurious, so that they shall think generously, kindly, lovingly of all who take a different view of matters; and while standing always firm for principle, they should take note of the fact that principle enters into remarkably few of their conflicts, contentions, etc.

Each of the Lord’s children should be learning day by day to cultivate the fruits and graces of the holy Spirit, amongst which prominently are patience, long-suffering, [R3736 : page 74] brotherly kindness, love. These things dwelling in us and abounding we shall be more and more pleasing to the Lord and able to assist others in the same direction—to be peacemakers. For who can properly be a peacemaker who is not himself at heart a peace lover?

There seems to be in the majority of humanity a contentious streak, which not only leads the possessor to be quarrelsome and contentious, irritable and irritating to others, but additionally this trait seems in many to be inclined to stir up disturbances in others, when the first principle of decency—minding one’s own businesswould be favorable to peace. As the Lord’s people more and more come to realize the selfishness and quarrelsomeness which the whole world has inherited through sin and depravity, and how this is all opposed to the Spirit of the Lord and of meekness, gentleness, patience, long-suffering, love, they should not only strive to develop peace in their own hearts and lives but to be peacemakers amongst men.

“Blessed are the peace-makers, for they shall be called the children of God.” Yes, truly, the peace lovers, peace promoters, manifest that in this particular at least they are the possessors of the holy Spirit—the Spirit of God. Let us not only merit this title, sons of God, now amongst men who, seeing our good works and peaceable dispositions, will glorify our Father in heaven on this behalf, but let us by the continued cultivation of this same quality of love, under the guidance of the great Redeemer, merit the distinction of being sons of God on a higher plane in the Kingdom.

BLESSED THE PERSECUTED

Not all the persecuted, but merely the persecuted for righteousness’ sake. Many bring upon themselves persecutions for foolishness’ sake and for being busybodies in other men’s affairs. Let us heed the Apostle’s word along this line and avoid persecutions or sufferings for evil doing of any kind; but, as again it is declared, if any man suffer as a Christian let him glorify God on this behalf. (1 Pet. 4:16.) It is well, too, that we preserve in this matter as in all others the spirit of a sound mind. There are, for instance, some that evidently imagine themselves persecuted when really they are very kindly treated, and are the victims of their own morbid imaginations. The Lord’s people should be so filled with the spirit of thankfulness and gratitude and appreciation that they would be in no danger of erring in this matter. They should be so generous in their thoughts of the motives and intentions of their friends and neighbors that they would be in no danger of misapprehending them and feeling persecuted by those who are really their well-wishers.

As perfect love casts out fear, so also it casts out these false impressions of evil doing or intention toward us. The benevolent heart, full of love for others, will rather prefer to suppose that slights are unintentional oversights, or to put some other similar good construction upon the conduct of their friends, only yielding to an appreciation of persecution when its intention is unmistakable. Even then it should think generously of the persecutor, realize his share in the fall and be disposed to pray for those who despitefully use them and persecute them. Blessed are such ones who thus hold to righteousness and the spirit of love toward their enemies and persecutors, and who may be sure, therefore, that they are being persecuted for their fidelity to truth and righteousness and not for personal idiosyncrasies and peculiarities. Blessed are they, for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven. The Lord is looking for those who are so faithful to the principles of righteousness that they will exercise it toward their enemies even when being persecuted by them and on its account. If the Kingdom of heaven is for such it is assuredly but a little flock. Let us strive the more diligently to be of that little flockto make our calling and election sure.

REVILED FOR CHRIST’S SAKE

The Lord’s people are not to revile [criticize in an abusive or angrily insulting manner] each other or anybody under any circumstances, but are to remember that they are pupils, followers of him who when reviled reviled not [R3736 : page 75] again. Whatever evil others may say or insinuate about us we must be faithful to our Teacher and not return evil for evil, reviling for reviling, nor insinuation for insinuation, but contrariwise must speak evil of no man and be pleased to notice and to mention any good qualities which even our enemies may possess.

Our Lord’s words, however, warrant us in expecting that those who will be faithful to him will share his experiences of being evil spoken of. With his words before our minds we should not be surprised at false charges and false insinuations made against his true followers, and that in proportion to their prominence as his servants and followers. The expression, “all manner of evil,” is very comprehensive, while “for his sake,” is worthy of notice. It does not imply that those who strike with the fist or weapon or tongue and who shoot out arrows, even bitter words, will say, We do this to you for Christ’s sake and because you are one of his. We have never heard of any one persecuted in that manner along those lines, and this cannot therefore be what the Lord meant.

What he did mean evidently is that his followers, like himself, honorable, moderate, possessing the spirit of a sound mind, truthful, honest, virtuous, would naturally be highly esteemed amongst the Scribes and Pharisees, the nominally good; they would have a high place, were it not for their fidelity to the Lord and to his Word. Because of loyalty to truths contradictory of popular errors, because of their faithfulness to the Word of the Lord, they are unpopular, and, like the Master, are hated by those prominent in Churchianity. These conditions bring a double test:

(1) They test the adherents of Churchianity along the lines of the Golden Rule, and when they speak evil through malice, through hatred, through strife, through opposition, they are judging themselves, condemning themselves under the Golden Rule, for well they know that they would not wish others thus to speak evil of them;—either through malice or a concocted lie or through hearsay.

(2) It becomes a test also to the faithful ones—Are they willing to endure these persecutions and oppositions cheerfully as a part of the cost of being the Lord’s disciples? If under the pressure they yield and revile in return, and slander and backbite, they are proving themselves unworthy of a place in the Kingdom. If on the other hand they receive these lessons and experiences with patience and long-suffering, these serve to develop in them more and more of the character-likeness of their Redeemer and tend the more to fit and prepare them for a share with him in his glorious Kingdom. Our Lord’s assurance is that those who are thus tested and who stand such a test will have the greater reward in heaven, and reminds them that similar persecutions from the Lord’s professed people came to all the holy prophets of the past.

THE SALT OF THE EARTH

The declarations, “Ye are the salt of the earth,” and “the light of the world,” may be very properly applied to such of the Lord’s followers as give heed to his teachings and cultivate the blessed states he has described foregoing. All such blessed ones in proportion as they have attained such conditions are indeed the salt of the earth and the light of the world. As salt is useful in arresting decomposition, so the influence of these, though they be few in the world, is preservative. Looking back along the aisles of history, we can see that a good influence extended from the Law Covenant God made with Israel.

As the Jews scattered more or less amongst other nationalities they carried with them more or less clear conceptions of the divine standards as represented in the Law, and these wherever they went had a preservative and corrective influence amongst men. But it was Jesus and his higher Law of Love, exemplified in his own life and in the lives of his apostles and all his followers, who became the real salt of the earth, in a period when without it we know not what might have been the result. As it is not only the spot upon which the candle or lamp rests that is enlightened by it, but as the rays extend out in every direction, so is the influence extending from every true Christian. It touches not merely his own person or home but to some extent radiates throughout his vicinity. Similarly it is not merely the spot that is touched by the lump of salt that is preserved, but the influence of that lump spreads over a considerable space round about it, and all with preservative influence.

At the time of our Lord’s first advent the world was in a condition in which it would probably have hastened to degeneracy and corruption, but the introduction of the body of Christ and the beneficial influence extending from each member of that body were potent for the arrest of the demoralizing tendency of the times. The light which shone out from Jesus, the Light of the world, and from his followers, had undoubtedly a beneficial effect upon the then center of the civilized world. That influence is still manifest in so-called Christendom. And even today, although the truly consecrated believers in the great Redeemer are confessedly very few in number, yet the general influence, the saltiness from the teachings of the Savior, exercise a wide influence throughout Christendom. Without this, doubtless, corruption and a complete collapse would have come long ago. In spite of it we see very corrupting and corrupt influences at work in every direction and the wider our horizon, [R3737 : page 75] the more general our information, the more this fact will be appreciated.

Before very long we expect that all of the overcoming members of the body of Christ will be changed, glorified, and the body completed on the other side the vail will be without members on this side. The lights will have gone and the darkness will hold fuller sway than ever; the salt will be gone and the corruption will take hold swiftly, and the result will be the great time of trouble such as was not since there was a nation.

Meantime we are to let our lights shine and thus to glorify the Father, whether men heed or forbear to heed; we are to exercise our salt or preservative influence, our influence for righteousness and truth, whether men hear or forbear, though we clearly see that it is not God’s purpose to enlighten the world through the Church in its present humble position. The matter will test us and prove whether or not we are worthy to be members of the glorified body of Christ, which shortly shall shine forth as the Sun in the glory of the Father, and enlighten the whole world in a manner with which our little lamps of the present time will in no sense compare. [R3737 : page 76]

HO, PRODIGAL RETURN!

“Return, return! thy Father’s voice is pleading,
Thy robe is rent, thy tender feet are bleeding,
Return, my child: a welcome here awaits thee:
Resist the cruel tempter that belates thee,

“Return, return! Thy Father’s loving-kindness
Yet in his touch is healing for thy blindness,
Return in all thy rags of sin’s defilement;
Thy Father’s voice bespeaks his reconcilement:

“Return, return! Thy substance hath been wasted—
Yet art thou longing for the bread once tasted,
Return, for why shouldst thou delay the pardon
Arise and go, before thy doubts shall harden

“Return, return! Leave thou the swine and famine
Why dost thou toil among the husks of mammon,
Return thou to his arms, his kiss, his blessing,
After thy sinfulness and guilt confessing,

“Return, return! The angel-hosts bend o’er thee—
They have beheld the Savior dying for thee,
Return, for he will heal all thy backsliding—
Come, weary soul, rest in his love abiding, 

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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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A Little While – Hymns of Dawn No. 7

A Little While – Hymns of Dawn No. 7

Lyrics

“A little while;” now he has come;
The hour draws on apace—
The blessed hour, the glorious morn,
When we shall see his face.
How light our trials then will seem!
How short our pilgrim way!
The life of earth a fitful dream,
Dispelled by dawning day!

Chorus

Then, O Lord Jesus, quickly show
Thy glory and thy light,
And take God’s longing children home,
And end earth’s weary night.

A little while; with patience, Lord,
I fain would ask, “How long?”
For how can I, with such a hope
Of glory and of home,
With such a joy awaiting me,
Not wish the hour were come?
How can I keep the longing back,
And how suppress the groan?

Yet peace, my heart! and hush, my tongue!
Be calm my troubled breast!
Each passing hour prepares thee more
For everlasting rest.
Thou knowest well, the time thy God
Appoints for thee is best.
The morning star already shines;
The glow is in the east.

Bible Scriptures Associated With This Hymn

  • 1 Corinthians 13:12-13 (ESV) —

“12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. 13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”

  • 1 Corinthians 15:50-58 (RVIC) —

“(50) Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption. (51) Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall all fall asleep, but we shall not all be changed (52) in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, in the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. (53) For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. (54) But when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written, Death was swallowed up in victory. (55) O death, where is thy victory? O death, where is thy sting? (56) But the sting of death is sin; and the power of sin is the law: (57) but thanks be to God, who giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (58) Wherefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not vain in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 15:50-58, RVIC – The American Revised Version Improved and Corrected, 2000).

  • Song of Songs (“Canticles”) 8:14 (NAS) —

“Hurry, my beloved, And be like a gazelle or a young stag On the mountains of spices.”

The comments below, are a direct quote from “Notes on The Song of Solomon” by Anton Frey in the Bible Student Library CD:

Solomon, expecting to be gone from her immediate presence, though within hearing and speaking range, admonishes her to remain in the beautiful and fragrant gardens. It would be from these that she should be able to maintain communications with him, though not able to actually see him. He went to make the final preparations for the taking of her to her new home; there, to make her his bride, his wife! Already, some of her belongings have been transported to the Palace—the treasures, which she wishes to keep with her, forever and a day! As she now waves to him, she says, very earnestly, “Make haste, my dearly beloved, be like the roe, or the young hart upon the mountains of spices”—return speedily for me, for I can scarcely wait!

The words of the “espoused virgin” at this time, are not any different from those she has uttered to her beloved “Solomon,” from the very beginning of the Gospel age; for they do most beautifully express her hopes—“Come quickly, Lord.” She would have Him be swift, like the roe, or the young hart. She has already told him that she would eagerly be awaiting him—his return to take her to her heavenly home, where he will make of her, his bride, the Lamb’s wife! How she does look forward to the day when he shall change her name to his—“Jehovah Tsidkenu”—the Righteousness of Jehovah (Jeremiah 33:16; 23:6). Her bridal garments are all in readiness (Psalm 45:13, 14) and, already, some of her treasures (tokens of his love given to her during their period of courtship) have been transported to the Royal Palace! Is this not also, the significance of the Master’s words, “I go to prepare a place for you”? (John 14:2) “Come quickly, Lord,” she says… He responds, “I (shall indeed) come quickly” (Rev. 3:11, 22:7); and to which, her final salutation is, “Even so, come, Lord Jesus.”

Let us strive to be worthy of a love so great and tender as His [Christ’s]. Let us seek ever and always to glorify Him before others; and, never, no, never, prove ourselves unworthy! Contemplate… the transcendency of His love; think upon what He has declared He thinks of His beloved: then, endeavor, more and more, to grow into the image and likeness—His “Ideal”!

  • Hebrews 10:35-39 —

“35 Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompence of reward. 36 For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise. 37 For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry. 38 Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him. 39 But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul.”

  • 2 Peter 1:12 —

“Wherefore I will not be negligent to put you always in remembrance of these things, though ye know them, and be established in the present truth.”

The three “stepping stones” to understanding Christ’s invisible presence and “parousia” which IS (part of) “the present truth” which the Apostle Peter was talking about in 2 Peter 1:12 are: 1260, 1290, and 1335 and these numbers are prophetic markers all found in both the Book of Revelation and the Book of Daniel.

For further reading about Christ’s Presence please go to the following post: “Christ’s Parousia (Second Presence) In 1874” [URL: https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2017/11/10/christs-parousia-second-presence-in-1874/%5D.

More about CHRIST’s PAROUSIA (presence) can be read about here:

i-will-come-again

Hymn Book Purchase

The Hymns Of Dawn (hymn book) can be purchased at:

Acknowledgment & References

Br. Charles Taze Russell

Charles-Taze-Russell-Laodicean-Messenger7.jpg

Br. Charles Russell—the founder of the Bible Students movement, who is the compiler of “Poems and Hymns of Millennial Dawn” which was published in Allegheny, Pa., in 1890. This Bible Students’ devotional originally contained a total of 151 poems and 333 hymns.

Later on, the hymns from this book formed a basis for the hymnal titled ““Hymns of Dawn” which was published by the Dawn Bible Students Association in East Rutherford, New Jersey (USA) and the 1999 edition contains a total of 361 hymns.

Suggested Further Reading

Click on the links below for the specified article/content matter.

“Daniel: Conclusion” by Br. David Rice. Faithbuilders Fellowship — “Journal” section, May-June 2009 edition (at 2043ad.com / button “Journal.”) Here is the direct link to this article:
http://2043ad.com/journal/2009/2009c.pdf

“The Prophetic Date – 1874”. The Herald of Christ’s Kingdom Magazine, Nov-Dec. 2003 issue.
http://www.heraldmag.org/2003/03nd_5.htm

“Coming Blessings” by Br. David Rice (www2043ad.com). The Herald of Christ’s Kingdom Magazine, Sept-Oct. 2012 issue.
http://www.heraldmag.org/2012/12so_9.htm

“An Important Greek Word – Parousia” by Br. David Rice. The Herald of Christ’s Kingdom Magazine, Nov-Dec. 2003 issue.
http://www.heraldmag.org/2003/03nd_8.htm

“Every Eye Shall See Him” by Br. Gilbert Rice. The Herald of Christ’s Kingdom Magazine, Nov-Dec. 2003 issue.
http://www.heraldmag.org/2003/03nd_4.htm

“The Harvest — The End of the Age” by Br. Carl Hagensick. The Herald of Christ’s Kingdom Magazine, Nov-Dec. 2003 issue.
http://www.heraldmag.org/2003/03nd_2.htm

“A Secret Coming – A Thief In the Night.” The Herald of Christ’s Kingdom Magazine, Nov-Dec. 2003 issue.
http://www.heraldmag.org/2003/03nd_9.htm

“Times and Seasons — The Seventh Trumpet” by Br. Michael Brann. The Herald of Christ’s Kingdom Magazine, Nov-Dec. 2003 issue.
http://www.heraldmag.org/2003/03nd_3.htm

“Chronos and Kairos – Times and Seasons.” The Herald of Christ’s Kingdom Magazine, Nov-Dec. 2003 issue.
http://www.heraldmag.org/2003/03nd_7.htm

Epoch Periods In God’s Plan. BIBLE Students DAILY.
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2017/08/16/epoch-periods-in-gods-plan/

Is the “Sabbath Day” a Saturday, Sunday or any Day of the Week? BIBLE Students DAILY.
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2017/10/19/is-the-sabbath-day-a-saturday-sunday-or-any-day-of-the-week/

Only A Little While
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2017/01/24/only-a-little-while/

The Time Is Short
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2016/03/08/the-time-is-short-surrender-all/

ACTS 23:6 – The Resurrection Process – Part (A), (B), and (C):

(A) https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2016/11/03/acts-236-hope-resurrection-part-a-what-is-jesus-all-about/

(B) https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2016/11/05/acts-236-hope-resurrection-part-b-will-mankind-resurrect-with-the-same-mind/

(C) https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2016/11/11/acts-236-hope-resurrection-part-c-the-order-of-the-resurrection-process/

Wait O Thou Weary One A Little Longer https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2016/11/19/wait-o-thou-weary-one-a-little-longer/

Links and Bible Resources. BIBLE Students DAILY.
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/category/links/

 

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Wait, O Thou Weary One, A Little Longer

  PHILIPPIANS 4, 13.jpg

WAIT, O thou weary one, a little longer,
A few more years – it may be only days;
Thy patient waiting makes thee all the stronger;
Eternity will balance all delays.

Wait, O thou suffering one, thy days of sorrow
Bring to thy weary soul its richest gain;
If thou a Christian art, a brighter morrow
Will give thee ten-fold joy for all thy pain.

Wait, O thou anxious one; the cloud that hovers
In gathering gloom above thine aching head
Is sent of God in mercy, and He covers
Thee with His heavenly mantle overspread.

Be patient and submissive; each disaster
Will bring thee nearer to thy loving Lord.
These trials make thee like thy blessed Master,
Who knows them all, and will His grace afford.

Be patient and submissive; strength is given
For every step along the weary way.
And for it all thou’lt render praise to Heaven,
When dreary night gives place to perfect day.

Yes, perfect day, the day of God eternal,
When not a shadow shall flit o’er the scene
In that fair land where all is bright and vernal,
And we will be with Christ, and naught between.

Wait, then, dear heart; control thy sad emotion;
God will subdue each angry wind and wave,
And when the voyage ends across life’s ocean,
Within the haven of sweet rest will save.

From “Poems of Dawn”

 

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Save

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2 Corinthians 5:20 – What Does Being “Ambassadors for Christ” Mean ?

2 COR. 5, 20

What is an ambassador ?

According to Wikipedia, an ambassador is :

“an official envoy, especially a highest ranking diplomat who represents a state and is usually accredited to another sovereign state, or to an international organization as the resident representative of their own government or sovereign or appointed for a special and often temporary diplomatic assignment… They are stationed in a foreign country and they as well as the embassy staff are granted diplomatic immunity and personal safety while living abroad.”

Apostle Paul made it clear to us that those who are accepted of God and begotten of the holy spirit are ambassadors of another country:

“For our citizenship is in heaven; whence also we wait for a Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Philippians 3:20, ASV).

“For he has delivered us out of the dominion of the darkness, and transplanted us into the kingdom of his dear Son” (Colossians 11:13).

The Apostle Paul

Apostle Paul referred to himself as an “ambassador in chains” (Ephesians 6:20). This is hardly the view we take of diplomatic ambassadors today. But Paul does not say this to elicit pity. Rather he tells the Church not to lose heart over what he is suffering because it is for the Church’s glory.

Truly Apostle Paul was a great ambassador!

Should we not also represent our head, Christ Jesus and SHINE like stars in the sky, being blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation”? (Philippians 2:15)

YES we MUST do so… not tomorrow… BUT NOWright NOW… the High Calling of the Gospel Age is soon to end and Christ’s Bride composed of 144,000 members, shall hath made herself ready!

Dear Brethren, we will not miss out for the chance of eternal eternities and forevermore to belong to the BODY of Christ… to be counted worthy of the prize of the High Calling… of bringing our Heavenly Father grandest JOY and who shall present the Bride as the most righteous gift to Christ!

Let us “trim our lamps” as the “wise virgins” (Matthew 25:7) and stay separate from this world (2 Corinthians 6:17); and be “peculiar people” renouncing the world and its evil desires!

“14 Do all things without murmurings and disputings:15 That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world…” (Philippians 2:14-15).

Prepare yourselves through strict training and discipline to belong to the ONE BRIDEGROOM ONLYlet JESUS BE YOUR HEAD–SEEK him; SEARCH for him; COPY him; make him proud; REPRESENT him in spite of ALL RIDICULE and SUFFERING in this world.

“24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it.
25 Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.
26 So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air.
27 But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified” (1 Corinthians 9:24-27, ESV).

The Apostle Paul encourages us: “Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God” (2 Corinthians 5:20, KJV).

Qualifications of an Ambassador

As ambassadors of Christ, how should we conduct ourselves? What is our role?
Let’s consider the following characteristics of an ideal ambassador:

  1. PATIENCE

An ambassador listens carefully to the citizens of the countries he is involved in helping to understand their needs and situation so that any conflicts or disagreements can be resolved in peace. The Apostle Paul was so patient through his experiences as a prisoner and in his dealings with rulers he sought to bring about mutual understanding concerning the Truth.

  1. WISDOM

An ambassador uses his knowledge of people to (as far as possible) resolve conflicts between any parties involved. We have an example of this by the Apostle Paul–when question by rulers and confronted by hostile Jews and Greeks, he used Godly wisdom to answer.

“Now when Paul perceived that one part were Sadducees and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council, “Brothers, I am a Pharisee, a son of Pharisees. It is with respect to the hope and the resurrection of the dead that I am on trial” (Acts 23:6, ESV).

  1. GRACIOUS SPEECH

As a spokesperson for his country, an ambassador is one who encourages and entreats with his words rather than causing any offence or hostility, as well as seeking the good of all. We see this in Apostle Paul’s conduct here:

“32Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God: 33Even as I please all men in all things, not seeking mine own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved” (1 Corinthians 10:32-33, KJV).

Apostle Peter explains: 11Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul; 12Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation” (1 Peter 2:11-12, KJV).

  1. GENEROUSAn ambassador will use his time and talents to help others, especially as it promotes the interests of his home government, even at personal sacrifice and we note how Apostle Paul laid down his life for kingdom interests  in Philippians 2:4:-

Phil. 2, 4.jpg

  1. REASONABLENESS

An ambassador will try to help those in his host country and persuade them to appreciate the benefit of his counsel. Paul continually appealed to others to accept his counsel concerning Christ’s kingdom and the blessing it will be to all.

  1. HONESTY

An ambassador tells the truth and uses facts to persuade others. He neither deceives nor exaggerates to achieve his way. Paul was forthright, even on occasion calling the attention of Peter and others to what appeared to be a misleading example.

11 But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. 12 For before certain men came from James, he was eating with the Gentiles; but when they came he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party.13 And the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with him, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy. 14 But when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, “If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you force the Gentiles to live like Jews?” (Galatians 2:11-14, ESV).

  1. UNDER READINESS OF MIND

An ambassador is ever alert to represent and promote the interest of his government even at the risk of personal benefit or gain.

Apostle Paul did not let opportunities slip by him, to regret latter. He embraced his appointed service with diligence. As Jesus, “for the joy set before him” endured ALL manner of rebuff and persecution, so Apostle Paul followed the example of Jesus (1 Corinthians 4:11-13).

  1. HUMILITY

An ambassador recognizes that he has no personal authority apart from the country he represents. Further, as he provides instruction and direction, he explains the laws of his home country.

Though Apostle Paul was a leading light in the early church, he considered himself the “least of the apostles” (1 Corinthians 15:9, Ephesians 3:8).

“If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable” (1 Corinthians 15:9).

“To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ (Ephesians 3:8, ESV).

Philippians-2-3.jpg

If we as Christians could keep these thoughts always prominent before our minds, what a dignity it would add to our character! What a transforming power it would be!

What an assistance to the new nature in its battle with the low and grovelling tendencies of the old nature now disowned by us and reckoned dead!

Dear friends, let us remember that “our citizenship is in heaven” (Philippians 3:20).

While still living in the world, we are not of it but have transferred our allegiance and citizenship to the Kingdom. And now, as appointees of our Kingdom, while still living in the world among aliens and strangers, we as representatives and ambassadors should feel both the dignity and the honor of the position and the weighty responsibilities and keep in memory the Apostle’s words,

Whatsoever ye do in word or deed do all in the name of the Lord Jesus(Colossians 3:23).

(Refer to Reprints of the Original Watch Tower page 3329 for a lovely article titled “Do All in the Name of the Lord Jesus.“)

We can learn by Apostle Paul’s wonderful example of ambassadorship and demonstrate, as he did, a ministry of reconciliation now.

Our Christ-like behavior in this world brings a certain amount of help and healing to a world that needs deliverance.

“A wicked messenger falleth into unhappiness; but a faithful ambassador bringeth healing
(Proverbs 13:17, Leeser).

This will prepare us well for the greater reconciliation of all mankind in which we will participate, no longer as ambassadors, but rather as kings and priests with Jesus.

What a hope is ours!

May we do ALL in our power to glorify our Heavenly Father Jehovah through Jesus Christ, GOD’s Son–in our bodies and our spirit which belong to our Head—Jesus CHRIST.

Reference:

Special thanks to Br. David Stein for source material from the article Paul the Ambassador“, The Herald of Christ’s Kingdom, August/September 2011.

 

The URL for this post is: https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2016/10/20/2-corinthians-520-what-does-being-ambassadors-for-christ-mean/

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A Little While

JAMES 5, 7-8.jpg

How long, O Lord, till I am meet
To hold with Thee communion sweet?
How long until Thine eyes shall see
The Spirit’s fruits complete in me?

When shall I come to Thee, my Lord,
As promised in Thy blessed Word?
When shall I see Thee as Thou art,
And satisfy my longing heart?

Ah, then, how mean will seem these toys,
These transitory, earthly joys!
How short appear this dreary way,
When night hath turned to endless day!

Then, peace, my soul, be strong, my heart,
And bravely strive to do thy part;
“A little while,” He soon shall come,
And say, “Enough, my child, come home!”

 Gertrude W. Seibert (1914)

https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2016/08/10/a-little-while/

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2 PETER 1:5-11 – Is Mere FAITH IN GOD Enough?

2 Peter 1, 5-11 - C&C.jpg

The following post is an extract from “Epistles of Peter” by Bro. Frank Shallieu.

2 PETER 1:5: “And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge.”

“Add to your faith virtue.”

The next step in the Apostle Peter’s evaluation is virtue.

The Apostle Paul breaks down the various fruits leading up to love, but Peter is talking from the standpoint of making one’s calling and election sure and his listing gives a sequential development. The Apostle Peter, the fisherman, is now a mature Christian feeding the lambs as well as the sheep. Having been qualified with a wealth of experience, he knows that death is imminent. Likewise, Paul realized the end of his life was approaching when he said, “Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day” (2 Timothy 4:8).
We are not reading a textbook but a very valuable, sobering account by one who speaks from experience as well as under the guidance of the holy Spirit.

Comment: Instead of the King James wording “And beside this,” the New International
Version has “For this very reason.” The NIV makes clearer the tie-in with the “exceeding
great and precious promises” of the preceding verse. In other words, “Because of the great and precious promises–for this very reason–you need to add to your faith virtue, etc.”

“Giving all diligence” is an important phrase, and it applies to all of the steps.
Give all diligence to add to your faith virtue.
Give all diligence to add to your virtue knowledge.
Give all diligence to add to your knowledge temperance, and so forth.

The great majority of Christians are immature seed.

In the parable, seed that falls in good ground and develops to maturity brings forth “some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty” (Matthew 13:23). In other words, full capacity is reached according to the content of the individual vessel. Some have
a 30 percent vessel, some have a 60 percent vessel, and the ten-talented person has a 100
percent vessel—and hence more responsibility. All three categories picture the Little Flock, children of the Kingdom in the real sense of the word.

Virtue means fortitude, strength of character.
Question: Doesn’t “virtue” also convey a morality aspect?

Answer: Yes, the breastplate of righteousness is part of virtue. From the simple rudiments of faith
and the milk of the Word, one now starts to get food that is a little stronger, and the body
grows proportionately stronger as well. The child grows, spiritually speaking, with moral
development and strength of character based on an outgrowth of faith.

Following initial faith, virtue is the first development of one who believes into Christ and starts to grow.

Many, thinking that knowledge follows faith, try to bypass virtue and want to teach and
write books when they are still babes. In the enthusiasm of our early days, we tend to be
overconfident. Those who talk that way are not mature Christians, and they betray
themselves by their immaturity of conduct, immaturity of reasoning, and immaturity in an assumed familiarity with Scripture. Thus the flesh tends to jump over virtue and go
straight to knowledge. However, Peter shows our need to go step by step by step.

Faith is the substratum of an entire Christian’s life. The just shall live by faith (Romans 1:17).
Faith in Jesus is the bottom line–faith that he is the Redeemer. We are to add to that faith, in successive order, the seven steps that Peter enumerates.

“Add … to virtue knowledge.” “Knowledge” is a broad term, for there are all kinds of knowledge.

2 PETER 1:6: “And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness.”

Peter continues to enumerate the various steps in the progression to maturity.

At the Last Supper, Jesus remarked to Peter, “I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren” (Luke 22:32).

After Jesus’ resurrection he gently rebuked Peter three times for the three denials. At that time Jesus said to Peter, “Feed my lambs.” The second time the Master said, “Feed my sheep.” And the third time was “Feed my sheep,” after which Peter said, “Thou knowest that I love thee” (John 21:15–17). Notice the progression: (1) “feed my lambs,” and then (2) “feed my sheep” and (3) “feed my sheep.” In other words, Peter was not in the position to feed mature adults at the time of our Lord’s ascension or even after Pentecost. At Pentecost, Peter possessed the first two qualities: faith and virtue. Peter had faith: “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16). Also, he and John spoke very boldly on the Day of Pentecost.

“Virtue” means strength, courage, fortitude.

Now when we study Peter’s epistles, we see a very different Peter from the impulsive one in the Gospels.

Peter tells us to add to or supplement our faith with virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness, and charity. In other words, Peter adds seven different qualities to the basic substratum of faith.
Let us consider “knowledge.”

Remember, Peter is speaking about character development. Regardless of the subsequent lack or fullness of development, we all start our Christian walk as babes with faith in Jesus. In his first epistle, Peter said that “as newborn babes, [we should] desire the sincere milk of the word, … [so that we] may grow thereby” (1 Peter 2:2). As the babe feeds on milk, his bones grow and he gets a little stronger so that, spiritually speaking, he can withstand opposition and persecution. This would be adding virtue to our faith.

To add knowledge, the babe needs milk for growth. “Milk” includes the knowledge of
God’s Word, for how can we instruct others if we have not been instructed ourselves?

To knowledge, we are to add temperance or self-control.

The growth of Peter in the area of self-control is amazing! He underwent a remarkable change from his earlier impulsiveness.

Jesus said to Peter, “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, When thou wast young, thou girdedst thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest: but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not [to death in crucifixion]” (John 21:18). Jesus was referring to the manner in which Peter would die. When Jesus asked, “Who do men say that I am?” impulsive Peter responded, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:13–16).

Peter was a natural leader, but he needed to be instructed himself. The very fact Peter was naked in the boat after Jesus’ resurrection gives us an insight into his character. He did not want any restraints. He impulsively girt himself with his coat and jumped into the water to swim to Jesus, who was frying fish on the shore.

This same man, but a mature and developed Peter at the end of his life, said, “Add to your knowledge self-control and self-restraint.”

This self-restraint must come after knowledge.

Both of Peter’s epistles were written in the last years of his life, just before his death. How valuable is the instruction of Peter in his maturity!

When Paul discusses the various graces of the holy Spirit, he does not necessarily
enumerate them in succession. For instance, in describing love, he does not follow any
particular sequence, but Peter says, “Add to your faith virtue. Add to your virtue knowledge. Add to your knowledge temperance.” Thus Peter gives a sequence and Paul does not. The point is that the instruction of the two apostles does not conflict. Paul gives more detail but lists the graces of the holy Spirit in random fashion. (An exception would be Paul’s discussion of faith, hope, and love, which are in succession.)

Comment: It was Peter who lopped off the ear of Malchus in the Garden of Gethsemane at the arrest of Jesus. This act is another example of his impetuosity and impulsiveness.

Comment: In a practical sense, temperance could be along both material and spiritual lines. We need to have self-control over our life-style and how we expend our resources. Along spiritual lines, temperance would affect how we witness and preach the gospel. For example, as a general rule we would not deliberately make a spectacle of ourselves.

Comment: A comment in the Berean Manual says, “Moderation, self-restraint in all things–we are not to be hasty and hot-tempered, or rash and thoughtless, but evenly balanced, thoughtful and considerate.” We get this moderation through the knowledge of God’s Word.

Reply: Yes, “he that ruleth his spirit [is better] than he that taketh a city” (Proverbs 16:32).

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

We should be temperate in language, money-getting, money saving, eating, drinking, joy, sorrow, at work, in the store, home, church, and schoolroom–everywhere.

Comment: On the other side of the coin, there is a danger in becoming too temperate and thus not having enough zeal for the truth, the Lord, and His service.

Reply: If we have too much self-control, we will be mute when we should speak. The other extreme is being so out of hand and rambunctious that we destroy whatever good we might do. The proper amount of self-control makes us much more effective.

Add “to temperance patience.” What is this “patience”?

The Greek word is hupomone, which means “endurance.” Hupomone conveys the thought of bearing under a burden, of enduring it and not chafing, of remaining under the burden and not giving up. The same word is used in Hebrews 12:1, “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us.” Of course a lot depends on the makeup of the individual, for we are all different. Some brethren under trial may react without a lot of apparent cheerful endurance and yet be faithful. The circumstances must be considered. Those who run a marathon race are not very cheerful when they near the end of the race, for they are pressing on to the utmost. Those who win have an extremely strong
desire to excel and be a champion.

Comment: James 5:11, in referring to Job, uses this same Greek word for “patience.”
“Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and
have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.”

We are all familiar with Job and the conditions under which he endured.

Comment: “Patience” would be meekly submitting to discipline in every case. Add “to patience godliness.” “Godliness” is the wrong word, for that quality should be the
end, the highest step. Godliness and love are synonymous. The thought here should be
love and reverence for God, God-likeness. Thus the word “piety” is a better translation, for piety is a form of reverence. Piety can also be considered decorum, as in 1 Timothy 3:15, “Behave thyself in the house of God.”

Comment: Strong’s and the Diaglott use the word “piety.”
Reply: The Greek word is eusebeia, and a famous historian was Eusebius, a name meaning piety, a reverent one.

Comment: Reprint 2155 states that God-likeness, piety, is “that devout controlling reverence for God which yields a hearty, cheerful, loving conformity to his will–fervency of spirit in serving the Lord.”

Reply: Piety is especially fervency in spirit in obeying the Lord. He is looking for obedience in us–that is the bottom line.

Works by themselves are meaningless.

“To obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams [which is offered in sacrifice and may cost a little money]” (1 Samuel 15:22).

Obedience supersedes works.

2 PETER 1:7: “And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity” 

Add to piety “brotherly kindness.” There are occasions where it is difficult to love all
brethren completely and indiscriminately. In other words, there are cases where we cannot manifest love to others because of their disobedience. For instance, 1 Corinthians 5:11 says, “I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat.”

The individual may not have even consecrated, but if he thinks he is a brother in truth and is a drunkard, a brawler, a fornicator, etc., we are to refrain from fellowship with him. Treating him in this manner is doing him a favor, for if he truly loves God, the truth, and the Lord’s people, he will feel he has done something wrong and will repent.

The Greek word for “brotherly kindness” is philadelphian. Some translations use “love of
the brotherhood,” and that is a better term.

We love those who fervently love God. We are drawn to such because they are of the brotherhood. Jesus particularly favored Peter, James, and John because they manifested a greater zeal for God. The incident in which Jesus raised the daughter of Jairus illustrates this favoritism (Mark 5:35–43). Another example is Jesus’ transfiguration (Matthew 17:1–9). That is the type of love we should have for the brotherhood.

We love those who love God, and the more they love Him, the more we love them.

Moreover, we are helped by their example. In the hymn “Onward, Christian Soldiers,”
when we sing the words “All one body we,” we are thinking not of individuals but of the
brotherhood, of those who love Christ and are trying to serve God.

Add “to brotherly kindness charity [love]. If the previous step was love for the brotherhood, what is this highest type of love? It is agape love.

Comment: We love those who love God and have a special affinity for them because of our common bond, but our love must go beyond that point to where we love mankind.

Comment: This would be a principled love versus phileo love with an emotional basis.

Comment: We love the Lord, the brethren, humanity, our enemies, and also the brute
creation.

Reply: That is true, for principled agape love is broad. The Law shows how we should treat the animals; for example, they should not be unequally yoked in plowing. Agape love includes love for our enemies and doing good to them that despitefully use us (Matthew 5:44).

With this principled love, “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son”
(John 3:16). Those who obey in the future will be saved, for God has made provision for the restitution of mankind. In other words, He will open the opportunity for salvation toothers besides the brotherhood. His love goes from the brotherhood to mankind and even to those who are enemies now but may not be once their eyes are opened in the Kingdom.

Only those who are incorrigible in iniquity will go into Second Death.

Remember that before Peter started the enumeration of the seven graces of the holy Spirit, he said, “And beside this, giving all diligence,” add to your faith, etc. (2 Peter 1:5).

Because we live in the world with its responsibilities and experiences, our time becomes important–the little time we have left after doing that which is right for family, employer, and others. We must give all diligence to add these seven qualities. Isn’t it remarkable that the impulsive Peter is like a statesman or a father in these epistles? True, he was a leader in the beginning of his Christian walk, but now he is more than that. In his first epistle, which was written only a couple of years before the second epistle, he called Marcus “my son” (1 Peter 5:13). Paul used the same terminology with Timothy, and that epistle was written near the end of Paul’s life. As the apostles aged in the truth, they matured. Peter underwent a radical, miraculous, almost unbelievable change from his days as a fisherman. True, he speaks according to the holy Spirit, but his own life is in harmony with that holy Spirit. He experienced these steps himself, and he is passing on the information to us. Later he says, “I am going to remind you of these things until the day I die, and the Lord Jesus has informed me that my death will occur soon.”

Comment: The verses being alluded to are quite touching: “Yea, I think it meet, as long as I am in this tabernacle, to stir you up by putting you in remembrance; Knowing that shortly I must put off this my tabernacle, even as our Lord Jesus Christ hath shown me” (2 Peter 1:13,14).

2 PETER 1:8: “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.”

Comment: If “these things” (the seven steps above faith in verses 5–7) are in us and abound, we will make our calling and election sure. The fact that Peter uses the term “these things” five times in this chapter (verses 8–10, 12, 15) shows how important they are.

Reply: Yes, Peter is inclined to repeat words and references. For instance, the use of the
word “divine” twice in this chapter is unusual, for that word appears only three times in
the whole New Testament. The reason is that Peter recognized his own faults and weaknesses and how the Lord changed his life. He is admitting, as it were, that what God
did for him, He can do for us. Accordingly, Peter mentions the importance of developing
character and the various steps of grace that are required if we are to win a crown. We must have diligently tried to add the seven graces to our faith.

Comment: If the words “and abound” had been omitted, the meaning of the verse would have been a little different. All who get life on the spirit plane, including the Great
Company, must have these qualities, but to attain the Little Flock, to get an “abundant
entrance,” these qualities must abound in us and must increase more and more.

Reply: For example, when people do acts of kindness, are patient, etc., there is often a lack of consistency. With knowledge, some are satisfied with a certain level and stop there. These qualities must be diligently practiced if we would be more than overcomers.

Question: Is the “knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” in verse 8 the same “knowledge” that is in verse 5?

Answer: The Greek gnosis is used in verses 5 and 6, and epignosis (full knowledge) is used in verses 2, 3, and 8. The words are the same except that epignosis is expressed more powerfully, i.e. with more fullness. By faith we know (gnosis) that Jesus is the Savior, that he died for our sins, and through this knowledge we are forgiven for our sins. In addition, we should also know in more fullness (epignosis) his sermons and parables, his life and character, and how he lived to please the Father.

The “knowledge” (gnosis) of verses 5 and 6 is the second step in the various graces of the holy Spirit, but epignosis embraces all seven steps, which would include a comparison and study of Jesus’ statements and teachings. However, epignosis has nothing to do with the depth of our understanding, which is not always the same. If we have not searched the Scriptures daily, if we have not habitually familiarized ourselves with the Word of God, with the life of Jesus, with the Old Testament, etc., we will be lacking.

Comment: In the footnote for the text “If these things be in you, and abound … ye shall
neither be barren nor unfruitful,” “barren” means “idle.”

2 PETER 1:9: “But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins.”

To be “blind” in this sense is to be nearsighted, meaning the individual “cannot see afar
off.”

Question: What is the relationship between the first part of verse 9 and the second part? What does lacking the graces of the holy Spirit have to do with forgetting that we were purged from our old sins?

Answer: The object of our being purged from old sins is to grow in character. We are nearsighted if we do not always keep this goal in mind. Peter is saying, “It is not enough to just believe Jesus is the Savior and to be willing to suffer for him. We must have more understanding in order to please God.” Since we are imperfect and by nature fallen–our humanity is depraved–we must frequently occupy our minds with pure thoughts. Paul said, “Think on these things.” “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things” (Philippians 4:8).

If we do not feed on pure thoughts, our minds will naturally gravitate to unspiritual things.

Those who neglect or do not see the necessity of developing the fruits of the holy Spirit, are “blind,” nearsighted. Far-sighted vision would be making our calling and election sure. We are not at the goal yet, so we must keep running.

We cannot let ourselves drift in our thinking or in our actions, but must school ourselves with God’s Word.

Comment: If we stagnate and do not grow in character, we stay in the sins from which we were supposed to be purged.

Reply: We must try to distance ourselves from the old man as far as possible. Of course we cannot do this completely, for he is saddled on our backs, but we must separate as far as possible from our own reasoning and our own will.

2 PETER 1:10: “Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall:”

The objective is to make our calling and election sure.

If we take our eyes off the goal, we will gravitate to our natural tendencies instead of to the supernatural tendencies of the Holy Spirit.

“If ye do these things, ye shall never fall.” The thought is that if we develop these fruits of the holy Spirit and they abound in us, we will never fail but will succeed in attaining the Bride class.

Comment: The Great Company will fall or fail to a certain extent.

2 PETER 1:11: “For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the
everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.”

If we give all diligence to developing the fruits of the holy Spirit, if we have the right heart attitude and diligently practice Christianity throughout our Christian walk, we will get an abundant entrance into the Kingdom, for we will be obeying the promptings of God’s holy Spirit.

We are given “exceeding great and precious promises” so that we might inherit the divine nature.

The “everlasting kingdom” would be the age-lasting Kingdom (Greek aionian). The 144,000 will be on the throne and reign throughout the Kingdom Age.

 

Acknowledgment:

Bro. Frank Shallieu–for the content above which was an extract from “Epistles of Peter” The full study is on the Bible Study Library CD which can be accessed at the following link: https://herald-magazine.com/bookstore-2/#!/Bible-Study-Library/p/38387237/category=0

 

URL of this post: https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2016/08/06/2-peter-15-11-is-mere-faith-in-god-enough/

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Hebrews 10:25 – Not Forsaking the Assembling of Ourselves Together

 

Heb 10, 25 with address

Dear friends,

“Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together as the manner of some is, but exhorting one another, and so much more as ye see the day approaching. For if ye sin willfully after ye have received a knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sin” (Hebrews 10:25-26).

It seems to me that there is a most astounding connection between those two verses, as though the Apostle were explaining that a time would come when communion and fellowship with the people of GOD would be more essential than it had been before, and if we would ignore and neglect that PRIVILEGE there would be great danger that the final results might be the loss of everything.

You will notice, too, the Apostle uses the word “forsake” here. He did not say, “Do not ignore the assembling of yourselves together.” If you and I have never met with the people of GOD, and knew nothing of the blessing and benefits of that fellowship, the Lord would never have made the statement quite so strong; and you and I would not be quite so well able to discern the necessity or value of meeting with the people of GOD. And, the thought is, if you have once tasted of this blessing, if you have once enjoyed this fellowship, if you have once participated in this communion, now do not forsake it; NEVER GIVE IT UP; forsake not the assembling of yourselves together as the manner of some is.

Why is this made such an important matter to not forsake the assembling together ?

Why does the Apostle lay such stress on it?

Why should you and I be so careful about meeting with the children of God?

Here are some reasons:

1.

You and I should do this thing on the basis of FAITH, because the Lord says so, even if we could not see one single benefit to be derived, even if we could not see one single advantage to be gained; the very fact the Lord said so ought to settle the whole matter, and we should say, “Lord, I respect your Word; you have said it, and I am going to abide by that.”

I think there is not the confident faith in many of the statements of the Word of GOD, even among some of his children, that there ought to be.

Do you remember the faith that Abraham had? Do you remember the time when GOD came to Abraham and said to him, “Abraham, leave thine own house, and thy father’s house and come out into this land that I will show you?” Do you remember how Abraham never stopped to question the wisdom of GOD’s advice? He did not say, “Well, LORD, your desire is clear to me, but I cannot see why you want me to go out there? Don’t you think, LORD, this is a pretty good place where I am living? Why cannot I stay here and serve you? How is that land that you want me to go out into? Is it a pretty good land for farming purposes? Do you think I would be able to raise a crop to support myself and my family?  Abraham did not say one word. GOD told Abraham to go, and he was ready to go. Even when he got there he found nothing but a barren wilderness. Dear friends, that was faith, and that is the faith that you and I want to have.

When we find the advice in the Word of GOD that we should not forsake the assembling of ourselves together, then when we find the people that have GOD’s spirit, when we find the people who give evidence of living close to the LORD, then, whether you find the measure of profit in associating with them you expect or not, you should meet with them, because GOD has said so.

Some might say, “Well, but do not situations alter the matter?” I am sure if there is no one in your neighborhood who does give evidence of having love for GOD and his Truth, then of course matters would be altered, but even in that case you would have to hold fellowship in your mind and heart with the people of GOD, even though visible fellowship was impossible. But if you are located where there is a company of GOD’s children, then your course is clear from that statement.

I am afraid that there are some of the Lord’s people who say, “Well, I know the Scriptures say we should not forsake the assembling of ourselves together, but I have some trials and some obstacles in the way, now don’t you think I am justified in not attending ecclesia meetings?

“Sister, the LORD said forsake not the assembling of yourselves together.”

“But now wait, I want to show you from this standpoint: I live quite a ways from the meeting, and I have not the very best of health. Now don’t you think I would be justified in staying home and not assembling with the LORD’s people?”

“The LORD has said, Sister, forsake not the assembling of yourselves together. It does not matter how you view it, the matter is settled. ”

Let us not be of that class that are seeking some excuse that they may not have to act on what GOD has advised, but let us be of the class that are determined to overcome every obstacle in order to adhere to the advice and abide by the suggestions GOD has made. I think it is a dangerous thing when we get into the position where we want some excuse for ignoring the Word of GOD. I believe that Satan realizes our weaknesses along that line and he knows how to take advantage of them. It seems as if the devil has a big excuse department, and if anybody wants any excuse for anything-anything that would be contrary to the Word of GOD, he will get the excuse up for them. All you have to do is to have a half a wish in your heart that you do not have to go to the bible study meeting tomorrow, and he will send you a box of excuses right away. If he finds in your heart or in my heart the least inclination to ignore the admonition of the LORD, he will find some way of taking advantage of that inclination, and you and I are going to be trapped.

2.

Where GOD’s people are gathered, there GOD is, and where the church is, there the head (Jesus) of the church is. The Savior himself says, “Where two or three are met together in my name there will I be” (Matthew 18:20).

It would be absurd for any of GOD’s children to gather together without the Lord being present if they really are his children. How absurd to think of someone coming to these meetings and leaving their head at home? Indeed if they come they have to bring their head with them. If you are one of the children of GOD, and if Jesus is your head, if you have given up your own head, your own will, to do the will of your Master, then wherever you go your Master goes; and you will say, “Where there is a company under the control of the Spirit of the Master there I want to be; I want to be where he is, and I know he is there in a special and peculiar sense over and above what he is with me when I am alone in connection with my daily employment.”

3.

When we meet with the LORD’s people, we realize that these are the people who love to talk about the things that we love to talk about; they love to dwell on the topics that are dearest to our hearts. If we are amongst the people of the world, and if all our interests and all our desires are along worldly lines, then we would rather go where our neighbors go-we would rather go to places of amusement, we would rather go to places that would to some degree benefit us along worldly lines; and if your heart has been given to the LORD you want to go to the place where these things are talked about that you are most deeply interested in, the things of the LORD, where his will is in control.

And yet this does not mean that when the people of GOD meet together they always do confine their discussions and conversations to the subject that means the most to them. Let us be careful all along that line.

When we meet with the LORD’s people let us keep our minds focused on the things of the Lord; let us keep our hearts centered upon spiritual matters. And you might misuse the LORD’s time in talking about the things that do not profit you as respects the edification of the new creature.

I think it is very much like the Jewish Tabernacle. You know how when you went into the Holy if you would look up there on that curtain overhead you could see all of those figures of cherubim wrought in needle work. To me that illustrates the way you and I, when we are in that condition, begotten of GOD’s holy Spirit, as we look up we see GOD’s providences, we see his wisdom, his love, his power and his justice, and by the eye of faith we behold the very angels as ministering spirits sent forth to minister to the people of GOD.

Do you remember when the high priest, or the under priests either, were in the Holy, if they looked up they could see these angels, these cherubim, everywhere on that curtain wrought with needle work? But suppose instead of looking up, the priest just looked down, and kept his eyes on the earth, what would he see? Nothing but dirt, just ground. You remember there was no special floor made in that Tabernacle, it just stood on the earth. This gives us the thought that even though you and I have been begotten of GOD’s Holy Spirit, even though we have been brought to the place where we are new creatures in Christ Jesus, yet we have to keep our eyes up, as it were-lift up our heads. On the contrary, if we are looking down in the worldly direction we will see earthly things; we will just see dirt, nothing but dirt.

4.

When we meet together with the LORD’s people, we talk about the things that will help them toward the kingdom, help them to make their calling and election sure, things that will give them an abundant entrance into the everlasting kingdom of GOD.

In the 3rd chapter of the Book of Philippians, we read “Forgetting the things that are behind.” We want to learn to set our affections on the things above and forget those things that are behind. We want to seek the things that will edify, and especially let us beware of boastfulness along these lines. I find so often we are inclined to cultivate a little boastful spirit, we like to talk about the different people we have engaged in conversation, and how we have downed them in our argument, and how they could not answer us, how we were able to cover them with confusion, etc. Dear friends, I think it would be well for us if we would not talk quite so much along those lines. We do not want to have that boastful spirit that will go around boasting of the victories gained, or anything of that kind. We do not want to merely pull the faith of others down. Rather we want to build their faith up in the right direction. So I would suggest that we talk more along the line that would draw us towards the Lord, and less along the lines that would draw us away from the Lord.

5.

In meeting with the people of God we will find grace and strength to prepare us for the hard experiences that are coming.

In 2 Corinthians 12:9, the LORD, through the Apostle Paul, uttered these words:

“My GRACE is sufficient for you.”

By these words, our LORD did not mean that we would always have grace sufficient for every trial. It may be possible some of the LORD’s people have found themselves in trials sometimes, and they have had to confess that they did not have grace enough. They said, “Oh, I know if I had sufficiency of grace I could bear this trial better than I do. There is something wrong; the LORD said his grace would be sufficient, but it is not.” Has the LORD broken the promise? Not at all. Here is the thought:

The LORD promised he will supply sufficient grace, but you and I, in order to make use of that supply, we will have to go to the source of supply in the right way, as it were. Perhaps in going to a particular Bible Student Convention or an ecclesia meeting, GOD has arranged that you will obtain grace to prepare you for trials you are going to have, in the nearest future.

Now suppose you say to yourself, “Well, I know the LORD has told me I should not forsake the assembling of myself with you people, but it is a long distance to the meeting place, and I do not like the brethren altogether there. I think some of them have very peculiar and eccentric ways about them, and I just think I will stay at home instead”…

What about going to BE A BLESSING? Or going for the sake of even that ONE who may benefit? Ill health or lack of money may be the case but if one prays in faith about it, then GOD does indicate His will and often what seems impossible GOD makes possible if the desire is to DO HIS WILL (Luke 18:27).

What is the result of not going to that convention or that ecclesia meeting?

You are not obtaining the grace that you needed for the trial when it comes and the consequence is when the trial arises, you will be lacking, but not because GOD failed in the keeping of his word; GOD has done his part, he is supplying the grace, but you just as much as told him, “LORD, I know there is grace at that meeting, but I do not want it that way; you have just got to inject the grace into me; that is the way I want it.”

Dear friends, we cannot afford to miss one single opportunity for service, or one single opportunity that is reasonable and proper for us to make use of in connection with associating with those who love the Lord, without it being to our detriment spiritually, so that some trial will come and we will be unprepared for that trial.

So I say, we want to be ready for those trials coming; we want to have that preparation of heart and mind that will enable us to pass through trials victoriously, and that is the reason why we do not wish to forsake the assembling of ourselves together.

6.

We also want to meet with the people of GOD because we recognize these are the people we are going to spend eternity with; we want to get acquainted beforehand. If you are one of the faithful followers of the Lord Jesus Christ, and if I am one of those who may prove true to him, then we will be among those who will have to be associated through all the boundless ages of the future. I feel, therefore, that if I am at all unwilling to associate with you today, if I feel that I would rather live without physically meeting with the people of GOD, that I would rather spend my time dealing with business associations or ways of worldly pleasure, the consequence of that would be that I would be unfit to spend those ages of eternity in your company, and in the company of others that are making their calling and election sure.

7.

In assembling with the people of GOD, they help us, and we are able to help them. Do they help us? They certainly do if our heart is in the right attitude.

In going to a convention or ecclesia meeting, is your attitude such that you think you will get no benefit from going because you feel there will not be anything said which you did not know and you think you are pretty well informed and well up on the Scripture?

If that was the spirit in which you go to meeting or to a convention, then to the extent you entertained that inclination, that spirit, to that extent you have lost a blessing; but if on the other hand you go in a teachable attitude, with a desire to learn-not merely to learn something new, but to learn something that will draw you closer to the Lord, then I know you will go away spiritually enriched, you will go away feeling as though you were nearer to our Lord than you ever have been before.

If we are in the attitude where we simply want to hear only something new, where we come to the conventions not to hear about brotherly love, and not to hear about patience, and not to have our spirit of zeal encouraged, and not to be impressed with the glories of the kingdom so much, but we come to hear only something new, something that has never been said before, something that will just make our blood tingle to hear, because of its novelty, then we realize that we will also go away to some extent disappointed, because that is not the LORD’s purpose. It is not GOD’s intention that His people should be built up and strengthened by the amount of new things that should be said, but on the other hand it is the frequent reiteration of the old things that is likely to strengthen us and to enable us to make our calling and election sure.

So now when you go to your little home bible study meetings and you find that the brother who took the leading part in that meeting never has anything very original to say, and you find that the other friends in the class seem to have very little novelty in their statements, then, dear friends, the fault is not with the class, the fault is with you; you are not in the proper attitude. Just think, if we are one of those faithful ones who will be united with our Lord in the ages to come, what is going to be your work and my work? Will we have all of that thousand years for something new to say to the world every day? I think not. It seems to me that when the world comes up from the tomb in the near future, if we are one of that honored company associated with our Lord Jesus, we will have to repeat the plan just so many times that if you do not love it very dearly you will get tired of it then; and that is why the Lord is not going to have one in that class who does not love the “old, old story” so dearly that he can sing it from the heart; and “those who know it best seem hungering and thirsting to hear it like the rest.”

I have come across brethren and sisters who sometimes go to a Berean study and they only half listen. Brother so and so says something, and they think of something else because they know that brother never says anything new… then another brother speaks up, and they pay a little attention to what he is saying, because they know already what he is going to say. And consequently when the meeting is over they think it is strange they do not get much benefit from the meeting. But the fact is, that if we had paid attention to what that brother said, instead of allowing the spirit of pride to make us feel we knew it already and did not have anything to learn from him, it would have done us good and been refreshing. Then we listened to the next brother, and he made a statement and we would probably see a connection between what he said and what that other brother said that was especially helpful; and the third brother would follow with a little statement, and there would be some helpful point in what he said that would fit in with the statement made by the other, and when the meeting was all over we would say, “Gee… that was such a profitable meeting we had today! Oh, how much benefit I received; how much help I derived from this little Berean study!” Let us remember that frequently it is pride that causes us to be inattentive when another is speaking.

What did Apostle Paul mean from the following words:

“For though ye have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel” (1 Corinthians 4:15).

Well, possibly at that time, there may have been about ten thousand consecrated believers, as far as the Apostle Paul would judge, and he wanted this number to realize that every consecrated child of GOD was in a position to some extent to be an instructor. I will have to say that I have gotten an indescribable measure of benefit from just observing the conduct, the speech and the deportment of those I come in contact with in my travels.

May I also suggest that we cannot only learn from others, and instruct others by the words that are spoken, but by our example, by the deeds we perform. I think a great many must fail to appreciate what examples we ought to be.

We often say, “Well, you must not take me for an example.” But, dear friends, if you claim to be a consecrated Christian you ought to be an example-you must be an example.

To be a Christian means to be an example; not an example of perfection, but an example of what the grace of GOD can do.

Do you mean to say you have been under the influence of GOD’s grace for five years or ten years or fifteen years, and yet the LORD has done nothing in your life that ought to be an example, a benefit, a blessing to those who come in contact with you?

It would be something to be very much ashamed of, if we would have to say that we have resisted the influences of GOD’s spirit to such a degree that we are not an example of what our Heavenly Father can do at all-even though the LORD has thus been dealing with us so long.

If we are living epistles, as we ought to be in our homes, we will be careful there just as truly as anywhere else. But sometimes even friends who are very careful how they act amongst others when they are in a public place, when it comes to their own home it is rather a matter of indifference to them. You cannot help but sometimes observe it.

I remember I was in one home where there was a little sister there who was in many respects a grand consecrated character. Her husband did not make very much religious profession at all, but I will never forget the impression made upon me. At the table, for instance, if I would ask for a thing that sister would go to any amount of trouble to have it at my plate right on the instant; if her husband asked for anything she did not seem to care whether she heard him or not; he would have to wait until the thing got around to him. If I asked a question, she would take ten minutes to explain and tell me all about how to get to the post office, or whatever it was; if her husband asked her a question she would cut him off in such a snappy sort of way that it made me wonder why he ever wanted to ask her anything much.

I could not help but realize that sister was not showing the spirit the Lord desired in his people, and I could not help but think if possibly I stayed at that home for six months she would not be quite so beautiful in her treatment of me as she had been in the few days I was there.

Now, dear friends, let us be careful along those lines. Let us remember that we can just put it on when we have company for a day or two, but what we really are, and what is actually in our hearts, manifests itself by the daily lives we live in our home, and amongst those with whom we are accustomed to associate day after day.

Also, we can set an example to others on very simple lines, in ordinary things, that will have an influence over them in very important matters.

E.g. Suppose in your ecclesia you find there is a lack of thoughtfulness; for instance when the song service is going on there is some brother or sister that has no song book; nobody ever seems to think of looking around to see whether others have hymn books or not; the rest of you sing and this one is allowed to sit there without an opportunity to look on a book at all. Now that would be an indication that there was a lack of consideration, and a measure of selfishness probably, amongst the friends. But if that is the case you ought to keep the thought in your mind that you are partly to blame for it, because if you set the proper example, it does not matter who you are, you might be a very unimportant personage apparently, and yet at the same time your influence in helping to overcome that condition would be valuable. So if you see a brother without a book, you would immediately hand your book to that one, and then let’s say… the next time you were at a meeting you did the same thing… well, the result would be that by and by the members of the class would notice those things, and they would begin to see the spirit of consideration in you, and you would begin to find them doing likewise; and soon, there would be such a spirit of considerate unselfishness in that class that it would do anybody’s heart good to meet with them. So then, if the little company with whom you meet is not in the condition you think it ought to be, do not blame them but begin to blame yourself, and think,

“Should not I set a different example?

Should not I have been showing a different spirit, and in doing so would it not be found a benefit to the other members of this class?”

Our influence will count most in proportion to the thorough spirit of humility we possess.

Whoever tries to be conspicuous, will injure their influence to that extent, I would say that especially with regard to the elders of the various classes. If a brother is permitted to occupy the position of an elder, it seems to me he ought to perform the duties that devolve on an elder in a spirit that is so permeated with humility that others would get a blessing from his service, and yet at the same time would hardly be aware of the fact that he was the elder of the class.

I remember one class where I went where they all seemed to be fairly humble, but there was one brother that I am afraid-well, wanted to be a little prominent, to be rather conspicuous, and I remember at first this brother went ahead and opened the meeting, and at the second meeting the same brother took charge of the meeting, and just before the third meeting began I said, “Brother, who will open the meeting this morning?”-Sunday morning it was.

He said, “I think I will, Brother Barton.”

“Well, are there any other elders in the class, brother?”

“Oh, yes, we have four elders.”

“Well,” I said, “suppose brother, you take your turns; I think it looks much nicer if all the elders take their turns in matters of this kind. Suppose you have one of the other brethren open the meeting this morning.”

“Well, Brother Barton, I know they will not want to do it; they put it off on me, and tell me I ought to do it; I know they will refuse.”

“Well,” I said, “you go and ask them anyhow.”

He went to one of the brothers and asked him if he would open the meeting. The brother apparently refused, and this brother came back to me and said, “He tells me he would rather I would open the meeting, he does not want to do it.”

I said, “Wait, I will go and speak to him.”

I said, “Brother, you are one of the elders of this class?”

“Yes.”

“Well now, could not you open the meeting this morning?”

“Well, but I think Brother So and So could probably do it much better.”

“Well, but brother, I think if the class elected you as one of the elders it would be proper for you to take your turn.”

“Well, if you think so, it will be all right.”

That brother opened the meeting, and I got another brother to open another meeting, and a third brother the next meeting, and I think if I am not mistaken possibly all the elders of the class had a turn in opening those meetings before the conclusion of our visit.

Now the thought is this: These brethren apparently had the spirit of humility, but there was one brother that was too willing that he should be prominent. He ought to have impressed on the minds of the others the fact that they had a work to do, too; they had an opportunity, according to the Lord’s voice as expressed through the class; and I would suggest that brethren who are elders of the classes be especially careful that they do not assume too much of the responsibilities and ignore the other elders in the class. And where there is only one elder, how careful that brother ought to be!

Another thing: the elder that exerts the greatest influence over the class is the elder who performs the duties developing upon him in such a way the others would hardly know he was an elder. He does not feel boastful about the matter, he does not have much inclination to put himself forward.

So, by not forsake the assembling of ourselves together, we get HUGE opportunities to assist in the building up of the Body of Christ.

8.

We find especially helpful opportunities for spiritual development which we do not find out in the world amongst those who do not profess Jesus Christ as the son of GOD Yahweh, Jehovah. Hence, when we come to the people of GOD, we do expect something better, and the consequence is, when we find that GOD’s people are imperfect, when we find that they sometimes do things we would rather they should not do or sometimes say things we would rather they should not say, it helps to develop in us a larger measure of spirituality, a larger measure of the graces of the Holy Spirit than would possibly have been developed in us if it had been a worldly person that had treated us that way.

I think we are all inclined to expect too much of the people of God. We realize we are in the flesh, and we know that as long as we are in the flesh we are imperfect, we all have our failings; but we are thankful that the failings and imperfections and blemishes are not of the new nature, but the old nature-not in the hearts but rather in the flesh. And I think if we would keep that in mind we would be ready to make greater allowances for those who we come in contact with; we would have great allowances for our dear brethren and sisters when they do something that is not altogether to our liking.

In the Book of Romans 15:24, the Apostle Paul writes:

“Whensoever I take my journey into Spain, I will come to you: for I trust to see you in my journey, and to be brought on my way thitherward by you, if first I be somewhat filled with your company.” 

Here the Apostle Paul told us about the journey he hoped to make to Spain, and he said he expected he would go by way of Rome, and he would stop and visit the Roman brethren for awhile, and he said he hoped that when he met those brethren in Rome he would be somewhat filled with them. Another translation  reads: he hoped he would be ‘partly satisfied’ with them. What? Why only ‘partly satisfied’ with the brethren at Rome? Did he not expect to be entirely satisfied? No. You see, if he was not entirely satisfied with himself, how could he be entirely satisfied with them?

I know I have been acquainted with myself a great deal longer than I have been acquainted with you, and I know I have had opportunities to understand my motives better than I could possibly understand your motives, because I can not read your hearts, and I know furthermore I have had plenty of time to get accustomed to my own peculiarities and idiosyncrasies, and so on, while I have not had much opportunity to get acquainted with yours. It must be so then, that if after all of these years I am not satisfied with myself, how can I possibly be satisfied with you? I know that in you there are things I do not like; if I do not know what they are it is simply because I have not been with you long enough. If you and I could live under the same roof for about six months probably I would know something about your weaknesses, and probably you would know something about mine; and therefore the thing for us to do is to not cultivate the spirit that would readily find fault because a brother is weak, but rather the spirit which seeks to be strengthened and benefited and helped by the weaknesses of the brethren.

How can these weaknesses help us?

By developing in us more of the spirit of patience, of compassion, etc.—the spirit that would make allowances for that brother.

Here is one illustration of this:

A certain brother in Christ who was on his way to one of the conventions; he got on the train; there was quite a company going to the convention, and he went through one of the coaches talking to a number of friends there, and he sat down beside another brother to talk to him, and he said he was one of the most disagreeable brethren he had ever met; he did not like his ways; he did not like his way of talking, he did not like some of his manners, etc., and the consequence was the brother terminated that conversation in a very short time and got up and said to himself, “Well, I feel so sorry for this poor brother, but I would not want to be with him during the convention.” And he said he had taken a few steps when the thought came to him, “Look here; that is the very brother that will give you an opportunity to humble yourself. Do you think the Lord has accepted him, and now you can turn your back on him? It is your duty to show a better spirit than that toward that brother.” He said he went back and sat down beside that brother and talked to him for quite a while.

In fact, when they got to the convention, they got a room together, and the greatest part of the convention to him was the communion with that disagreeable brother who was his greatest blessing during the time spent together.

Now, that is the way with us.

If we meet with those who seem to show some disagreeable traits, the thing is not to run away from them, but to look at the new nature; do not look at the old nature; we cannot see much of the new nature, but it is there. We have got to think of that one as walking after the Spirit rather than what we see of the flesh.

“Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more” (2 Corinthians 5:16).

Dear Friends, let us not then forsake the assembling of ourselves together. Let us be among those who appreciate fully this opportunity for communion.

May are ecclesias be strengthened and helped, not merely by what we are able to say, but by the spirit we show, the life we live; and if a Bible Study meeting or a Bible Student Convention has lifted us to a little higher plane than we had been on before, our suggestion is, stay on that plane; do not go back to the old plane-indeed, do not stay on that higher plane, but try to go to a still higher one, until by and by in GOD’s providence, having enjoyed the blessings of our meetings with the brethren, we may all be prepared and fitted for a place we hope to share with our Lord and master, Jesus Christ.

“Speaking the truth in (agape)love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work” (Ephesians 4:15-16).

Acknowledgement:
Content from a discourse by Br. Benjamin Barton (in his book, “Pilgrim Echoes,”) has been used to create this post.

A Testimony
The reason behind the creation of this post was such, that it was a Sunday morning here in Australia, and the night before, an email had been sent to one of the Elder’s of the Ecclesia expressing a request to kindly have several answers emailed back after they were discussed at the Revelation Study on the Sunday and explaining that one’s presence will not be there due to some major “road blocks” … and the next morning a chapter from a book was opened up and begun to be read during the breakfast meal for the spiritual benefit of the listeners intended … but it actually turned out to be a personally “hand-delivered” GOD sent letter to the reader only thanks to divine providence—our Heavenly Father’s inspiration—which immediately changed the day’s decision, from one not going to ecclesia meeting, to one going. The words that were read that Sunday morning, were like blinding white lights from heaven with, as if a voice saying, “GO TO THE ECCLESIA MEETING… YOU ARE NOT TO STAY HOME WHATEVER THE EXCUSE!”… and the following thought immediately illuminated the mind like a most joyous revelation never thought of before…. that is, that let us just say one were faced with a life threatening situation (we are not saying this is the case here), then one should not think they are a burden to others and hence not want to go to meet with their Brothers and Sisters in Christ, but rather think:

Would it not be a grand privilege to be finally taken home by our Heavenly Father while in active service being BOTH PHYSICALLY and MENTALLY PRESENT amongst one’s brethren in Christ Jesus ?

YES—Of course it would!

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How Can we Handle Our Sufferings in Christ, in a Jesus Way?

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Let us begin with a zap of JOY … that Jesus kind of joy that a child of God can feel from the words of Hebrews 12:11, which provide great reassurance that any painful experience allowed by God (which may include the pain endured from the sufferings in Christ), will actually NOT HARM the New Creature in Christ begotten within us, but rather, it will work out something wonderfully beneficial to the Old Mind (i.e. it will destroy it even more) and to the New Mind it will actually be a stepping stone to maturity and growth in Christ.

So here are the apostle Paul’s edifying words to us from Hebrew 12:11:

For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”

How positively encouraging!

Do we suffer for preaching about Christ’s Gospel?

Are we ridiculed at work for speaking up for the Truth?

Perhaps we have lost our job because of it?

Do we fear standing up for Jesus?

Do we fear being ridiculed by what others think of our interpretation of Bible Scriptures, hence we remain the quiet ones to keep in a comfort zone?

Are we embarrassed to be seen by all as Christ’s representatives?

Are we laughed at and labelled as “crazy” or “brainwashed” or “unbalanced” when we speak of the Gospel of Christ?

Or perhaps we are labelled by names from our past failures which we later recognized, grew from and changed our course of behaviour?

Do we fear being passionate about the Truth because of feeling we won’t cope when told we are going overboard or that we spend too much time on studying the Bible?

Do we too, not experience attacks from the Adversary? 

Do we not all experience the works of ignorance. Because of our imperfections of the flesh, we are not able to perfectly understand nor perfectly be understood.

Would you all not agree, that if we could read the hearts of each other, much unkind judgment would be prevented.

Since we cannot read the heart, it is good to err on the side of love between our brethren and pray (even more perhaps than use words) about the details which only the Heavenly Father perfectly understand and will never distort.

God is the perfect judge as we are not perfect yet in the full sense of the word “perfect;” only “reckoned” as righteous through Christ’s robe of imputed righteousness (Romans 4:22, 23).

Often the scripture is quoted “you will recognize them by their fruit” (Matthew 7:16), but have you experienced a situation where we in all sincerity of heart, give a testimony about the Gospel of Christ, yet it would seem that one, perhaps in an ecclesia meeting cannot see the fruits of God’s character in us and we are told to stop speaking?

If we prayerfully and patiently endure with a sincere purity of heart intention, in seeking for righteous communication and to share the joys of the gospel, then GOD OPENS A DOOR OF BLESSINGS TOO NUMEROUS TO COUNT, (even if the flesh does experience sufferings for righteousness sake) from which the new mind in Christ rejoices in, thanking the Heavenly Father for each test of our faith, obedience and loyalty to Him.

In Hebrews 5:7-10 we read,

In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him, 10 being designated by God a high priest after the order of Melchizedek.”

Let us not think that the comments of others are to intentionally harm us.

It is good to remember that WE HAVE ALL SINNED (Romans 3:23) and to remove first the plank in our own eyes before we try to remove it in our brothers.

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

“Surely there is not a righteous man on earth who does good and never sins” (Ecclesiastes 7:20).

If we feel wronged by our brother’s words, let us not retaliate with words of defense, but after taking it to our Heavenly Father in prayer, silently watch our Heavenly Father work things out PERFECTLY, praying for their victory and ours, in Christ—since we each have professed to belong ONLY to Christ, and wish ONLY THE BEST towards all our brethren in Christ, knowing that each of our beloved brethren struggle in their own unique ways to more than overcome the flesh, the world, and the adversary.

GOD is our best defender who can read the hearts of all, and allows each experience to work out perfectly what He so desires, in us.

The apostle Paul encourages our thoughts to be on “whatever is TRUE, whatever is HONORABLE, whatever is JUST, whatever is PURE, whatever is LOVELY, whatever is COMMENDABLE, on that which is EXCELLENT and on anything WORTHY OF PRAISE” (Philippians 4:8).

The above verse is a wonderfully perfect tool to remember using to clean out our minds from any negative thoughts!

Something about Fault-Finders

Are we fault finders?

In Titus 1:15,16 we are given a description of such.

“Unto the pure all things are pure; but unto them that are defiled and unfaithful is nothing pure; but both their mind and conscience are defiled. They profess to have known God, but by their works they renounce Him, being abominable and disobedient, and to every good work worthless” (Titus 1:15,16).

The “pure” can see the true, pure hearts of God’s sincere “little ones,” in spite of the weaknesses of the fallen flesh. They can see righteousness in the Divine law and arrangement. While “the defiled” may identify with the cause of God, but whose doctrines and manner of life are in conflict with the gospel because they are fault-finders and unbelieving — “and unfaithful” (Diaglott).

Can we ever fall into a fault-finder category and be labelled as unfaithful too?

We sure can, IF our consciences become perverted, where we end up being unable to see anything or anybody in a proper light. This leads to losing the spirit of love which thinketh no evil!

In Reprint 5746 of “The Original Watchtower and Herald of Christ’s Presence,” Brother Charles Taze Russell describes these fault-finders in the following words:

They could find fault with everything–nobody could do anything just right, no doctrines were right. We have all met people of this character—people who see nothing pure, nothing good, anywhere, and who are denouncing others all the time and this is how their consciences become defiled. At first the conscience of such would to some extent reprove them. But gradually, if they yield to this wrong heart attitude, their consciences become corrupt and hardened, so that they do not realize that they are prevaricating, misjudging, do not see how unjust, impure and blind they have become. “They profess to have known God,” says the Apostle—knowing something in an intellectual way about His Plan and Word—”but by their works they deny Him.” Their works are contrary to God’s Word, which instructs that all should seek to do all the good they can, to see all the good they can, and to give generous judgment to others.

The Apostle is not saying here that such have necessarily become immoral and vile in that they have become delvers into all kinds of sin and vice. We are not to read into his words anything that is not there. But he does say that so far as any good work is concerned they will defile it, injure it. Better would it be that they keep away from the Lord’s work entirely. They have allowed the bitter spirit to work in them until everything takes on the color of their own minds. They do not recognize to what an extent they are unjust, unrighteous, in their thoughts, their words, their conduct. They are injurious to every good work.

There are lessons of warning here for all of us, lest we should be led astray by the spirit of the Wicked One and become mere fault-finders, accusers of the brethren—not giving our time, our hands, our feet, our tongues, to doing good, to blessing and UPBUILDING the brethren, but rather to tearing down. In proportion as any one does this, he is worthless, yea, worse than worthless, to the Lord and to His Cause!”

The above words by Pastor Charles Russell are truly a GREAT WAKE UP CALL to every true Christian. They are humbling thoughts and truths to apply to each of us as we ALL fall into the trap at one time or another with thoughts that should rather be positive towards all our brethren in Christ, but which the flesh often prefers to ignore.

Here is also a lovely verse about our beloved Elders in Christ :-

“Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labour in preaching and teaching(1 Timothy 5:17).

Here are a list of suggestions in preventing and overcoming the evil surrounding fault-finding:

1. Thank our Heavenly Father for the experience as it is the “fiery trials” that test our loyalty to God best and develop AGAPE love most. (See text for “Songs in the Night,” March 12th.)

2. Focus on the Christ-like qualities we see in our brethren, just like we would wish others to focus on the Christ-likeness they see in us (Philippians 2:3; 4:8).

3. ListenJesus also remained silent when Pilate questioned him (Matthew 26:63).

4. Continually ask God for His help (Psalm 121).

5. Wait for God. Trust in God to deliver and bring justice (Exodus 14:14; 2 Chronicles 20:17).

6. If God inspires the conscience to do so, reply using gentle, kind words (Isaiah 30:21).

“Speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people” (Titus 3:2).

A beneficial reply to criticism:

“Thank you Sister/ Brother. Please pray for me.”

This statement shows not only our appreciation for our fellow brethren in Christ communicating their best interests for our highest spiritual welfare, it also reflects our faith in God’s power through prayer as well our joy and gratefulness in the sacrificial offerings of our fellow yoke-bearers in Christ, keeping them also in our fervent prayer (1 Peter 3:17).

7. Let us ask ourselves what would bring our Heavenly Father grandest JOY? What words and what actions would best represent our Head–the Captain of our Salvation? (Hebrews 12:2).

8. Saturate our mind with spiritually edifying and positive Scriptures, which are filled with the precious promises of God so that we continuously seek the highest welfare of our co-laborers in the Vineyard of our Master and Head, our Lord Jesus. Some wonderfully beneficial Holy Scriptures to meditate upon, include:

  • “Love your neighbour as yourself” (Mark 12:31).
  • “Think of others as better than yourself” (Philippians 2:3).
  • “Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor” (1 Corinthians 10:24).
  • “Pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44).

9. Consider our Brethren in Christ as are “our joy”, “our crown” and “our hope” as did the apostle Paul (1 Thessalonians 2:19).

10. Realize our own shortcomings (Matthew 7:1-5), and copy the forgiveness that our Lord, Jesus Christ had towards all (Ephesians 4:32).

We “ALL fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).

May we rest in the assurance that if we do our very best to keep a pure conscience before God and seek to only do what is righteous and pure and loving and just, GOD will deliver us in due time.

It is far better to boast about one’s own weaknesses (2 Corinthians 11:30) and make the strengths in our brethren shine out gloriously if in their presence.

With kind and gentle words, prayers, patience and even at times silence towards those who may attack us for Truth sake, let our confidence be in our trust in the LORD’s strength which HE DOES gives us, and let us defend the Truth where it warrants this, just like Christ Jesus did.

May we not let our hearts turn bitter or cold.

“A soft [gentle] answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Proverbs 15:1).

The fallen angels know if they cannot harm us by using those in the world, they surely will try to plant discord amongst our closest within the Church. Our prayers for each other is so important.

Having agape love towards all our brethren in Christ is necessary to be of the body of Christ. Our Lord Jesus is the best example of this, laying down his life as a ransom for ALL; being crucified by the ignorant actions of his very own (John 1:11).

We all need encouragement from each other.

“Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing” (1 Thessalonians 5:11).

By asking God to daily show us His will, we may be lead to glorious faith-building and faith strengthening experiences. Here are some examples of how we may edify each other:

  • Share Scriptures from the Word of God with those in your own home;
  • Send an email or card sharing some of the precious promises of God in it from Scripture;
  • Volunteer your time in the gospel witnessing work;
  • Write a poem and share it at the next Testimony Meeting in your ecclesia to edify those present;
  • Go to the local supermarket and hand out some tracts or booklets sharing the Good News about the Kingdom and God’s divine plan for mankind;
  • Be a Daniel. Dare to stand alone. Dare to start a project and finish it which would be spiritually edifying those who have a listening ear to the Word of God.

All for Jesus! The time is short!

The more tests that are overcome now, the grander the shine! To become the shiniest diamonds in character then the tests of character development in Christ are to be passed in often unfavourable conditions for the flesh. The members of the high calling are in training to be kings and priests who belong to their head—Christ Jesus, and they will help the world of mankind up the highway of holiness so each lesson learned now and each experience that is overcome now, is a lesson that will be most beneficial for the future.

May our presence have a most pleasantly refreshing, calm, soothing effect on all in Christ who would be in our midst so that Jesus’ presence may be what is felt by all.

Suffering – Learning from our Savior

Since Christ suffered for us (1 Peter 2:18-25), the saints are also exhorted to suffer and accept trials with the same spirit as did Jesus. Our Lord, who committed no sin, was in all respects perfectly holy. He was entirely innocent and suffered without having committed any crime. As Jesus suffered unjustly, his body members should regard it as being no strange thing when they too undergo similar sufferings and persecutions.

The scriptures tell us that there was no guile, deceit, hypocrisy or insincerity found in Jesus’ mouth, for he was in all respects what he professed to be. Though he was condemned as an impostor, that charge was wholly untrue. Jesus was reviled and spoken of as a deceiver, charged with being in league with Beelzebub, “the prince of devils,” and accused as a blasphemer against God (Luke 11:15). Although he was falsely accused by his malefactors, Jesus did not revile those who reproached him.

Jesus seldom used harsh language and showed no anger. He calmly stood and bore it all, for he came to endure all kinds of sufferings in order that he might set an example for us and make an atonement for our sins. Such should be our course as well when faced with similar attacks.

The words in 1 Peter 2:25“Ye were as sheep going astray,” alludes us to the words in Isaiah 53:6, “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned everyone to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.” This thought in a broader sense expresses the condition of the human race before God recovers them through the plan of salvation. A flock wandering without a shepherd or guide is in a pathetic condition, and so was it for the prospective body of Christ before being sought out and brought into the true fold by accepting the value of the shed blood of the Good Shepherd.
In 1 Peter 4:12-17, the apostle warned his readers about the coming of a more intense period of persecution, stressing the importance of patience and mental readiness.

Peter intimates that the Church should not regard it as being strange or unusual for the people of God to suffer as did Christ, because later they will be glorified together with him in God’s coming kingdom. He also admonishes the Church not to become perturbed concerning matters unrelated to Christ, but to rejoice in their afflictions, knowing they will be counted as a blessing.

The people of God should always place their lives completely in God’s hand, believing that because God is their Creator, He will be their preserver.

God withholds no good thing from those who love Him and walk uprightly. He who is employed in God’s service will always have God’s protection.

This post’s URL: https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2016/05/30/how-do-we-handle-sufferings-in-christ-in-a-jesus-way/

TIS SO SWEET TO TRUST IN JESUS

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