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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SONG OF SOLOMON 2:1, 2, 16; 4:5 – The Rose of Sharon & the Lily of the Valleys

roses and liies in the bible-bsd

What is the “rose of Sharon” and who is “the lily of the valleys” as mentioned in the Song of Solomon? We begin with some background.

The Song of Solomon

The “Song of Solomon” (also titled the “Song of Songs” or “Canticles”) was written by King Solomon, who represents Jesus as King after his ascent to the Divine realm. Here Christ Jesus, our prospective bridegroom (Matthew 25:6), speaks in the form of a melodic song, to his “Bride,” “the elect” (2 Timothy 2:10, Romans 8:33) who answers him as his “Love.”

The “rose of Sharon”likely is not a rose as we know the flower. It may have been a crocus, tulip, hibiscus, lily, white daisy or some other flower that grows in a field. (We include a brief discussion about this with flower images later in the post.) Jesus may have spoken of this when he referred to the “lilies of the field” (Luke 12:27,28), meaning some humbler but delicate flower.

Song of Solomon 2:1 (RSV) — “I am a rose of Sharon, a lily of the valleys.”

In the above verse, the prospective Bride of Christ is speaking. Notice that in the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, the text says not “the rose,” but “a rose,” and it is likewise in the NIV. This indicates humility. In other words, “I am a common, lowly flower of the low lands.”

“It is the bride, then, who is here declaring that she is as one of these common or ordinary flowers of which there were so many. She says, in effect, ‘I am no different and no better than my companions, my sisters, in this great floral throng’ ” (F. A. Shuttleworth, Scot., “The Song of Songs A short series of devotional meditations – No. 1”).

The rose and the lily are to be thought of in the collective sense: the “valleys” (plural) would have more than one lily, for example. Many flowers, a class of flowers, is referred to. The virgin class, these common little flowers, realize that God has called them as individuals into His family, and perhaps in time they see why He has picked them because they are poor in spirit, meek, though rich in faith. When they realize that they have this faith, they have a measure of confidence and hope that He really has called them. The HOLY ONE who inhabiteth eternity dwells with the lowly and contrite in heart (Br. Frank Shallieu, Notes on the Song of Solomon, in the Bible Students Library CD).

Song of Solomon 2:2 — “As the lily among thorns, so is my love among the daughters.”

As mentioned earlier, in verse 1 the virgin class has said “I am the lily of the valleys.” Now, in verse 2, Christ Jesus is, as if, responding, Yes, you are as the lily, but you are amidst thorns.

“He proceeds once again to tell her of what and how he thinks of her… ‘As the lily among thorns’ she is seen in harmlessness, simplicity, and irreproachableness in the midst of a crooked and perverted generation (Philippians 2:15) … She isin moral contrast with all her surroundings; He adds no more; His words, though few, give her heart to know that He is content with her; she is what He can delight in; no more is needed.

“The Lord would have her follow in His footsteps; as she beholds Him in His beauty, in His fragrance, and His humility, she hears Him say: ‘As I am, so are ye in the world. He that saith He abideth in Me ought himself also to walk even as I walked.’ [See 1 John 2:6.] To be like unto him, she must go down into the fertile Valleys, and there must she abide. She must draw strength and nourishment from the hidden springs and the rich soil of His Word, and His life must flow into her until she blossoms out in His likeness” (Br. Anton Frey, Notes on the Song of Solomon, in the Bible Students Library CD).

The beautiful lily has no thorns growing upon her. In her words, there is nothing which is sharp, to wound her Lord or those around her. There are no unkind actions growing upon this plant that is being prepared for the Garden of Heaven. There are no unworthy, uplifted attributes found upon the one whom God will choose as the bride of His Son. She [her character] must be:

  • harmless, yet steadfast,
  • humble, yet standing in pure dignity,
  • upright and beautiful,
  • maintaining the Faith once for all delivered unto the saints,
  • spotless and fragrant.

“Each lily in the company stands for His glory and His delight alone. He has invited many to be the bride; but though many have received the invitation, only a few will He choose” (Br. Anton Frey, Notes on the Song of Solomon).

The Thorns– Who or what do these represent?

“The ‘thorns’ would be not only worldly people but professed Christians. The ‘daughters’ are the same ‘daughters of Jerusalem’ in Song of Solomon 1:5 and 2:7. Even among nominal Christians who have similar hopes,the virgin class appear as fanatics and oddballs. ‘So is my love among the daughters.’ The word ‘love’ is ‘friend’ in the Hebrew, but of course it has a much deeper meaning than our English word. We sing, ‘What a friend we have in Jesus,’ but he is singing, ‘What a friend I have in my consecrated followers’ ” (Br. Frank Shallieu, Notes on the Song of Solomon).

Song of Solomon 2:16 — “My beloved is mine, and I am his: he feedeth among the lilies.

The Bride calls Christ her “beloved.” She is saying that Christ feeds among the lilies.

“The ‘lily’ is the common little flower of the lowlands, so Jesus ‘feeds’ (has communion and fellowship) among this humble, meek class. In olden times, receiving hospitality gave one a feeling of security and protection. If you could get into the tent of an enemy and converse with him and plead for mercy, he would never kill you. The safest place would be in the house of the enemy. George Washington, with all of his problems, had a rule that during dinner no strife or unpleasantness could mar the peace or be discussed. A principle of ancient times was not to bring problems to the table of fellowship” (Br. Frank Shallieu, Notes on the Songs of Solomon).

“Having once again turned her face toward her dearly beloved Bridegroom‑to‑be, she feels herself reassured, and very happy, yet still too possessive; for she says, as it were, to herself, ‘My Beloved is mine.’ But she is destined to grow both in grace and in the knowledge of her Lord (2 Peter 3:18), until she is able to say I am my beloved’s; and my beloved is mine’ (Song of Solomon 6:3). In the meantime she will have to strive earnestly to make herself really worthy of becoming one day, the Lamb’s wife! True, she has been ‘called’; yea, she has even been ‘chosen’ so to speak; but to be with Him as His Beloved, throughout all the ages of eternity, will depend uponher being‘faithful’(Revelation 17:14). This is a faithfulness in her love of,and for, Him; to have doves’ eyes, to see none other, ever, but ever and always Jesus only!” (Br. Anton Frey, Notes on the Song of Solomon).

“She now beholds Him ‘feeding among the lilies.’ In her soliloquy she mentions this, noting that He is almost invariably found ‘feeding among the lilies.’ Regardless of what the flower here referred to may have been, it was undoubtedly intended to represent the ‘pure in heart’ who shall one day see God (Matthew 5:8) — those, who like the wild flowers of the field neither toil nor spin[with distressful anxiety] but who, in accepting whatever divine providence may permitto come unto them, are arrayed even now, in garments whose glory and beauty transcend that of Solomon’s (Matthew 6:28‑29). The espoused virgin seems now to sense the fact that like unto Jehovah of old, who was fed by way of the willing sacrifices of His people upon His altar (See Leviticus 21:17‑21, Psalm 50:14, Hebrews 13:15), so too, her beloved was ‘feeding’ upon the loving consecrations and dedications of the pure in heart. The ‘sweet fragrance’ of these ‘lilies’ is to her beloved, as was the ‘sweet savor’ of the burnt‑offerings and peace‑offerings to Jehovah of old! He gathers the lilies in chapter 6. He delights to gather the saints (who are called lilies) together, and then He comes down to feed among them. He comes into the companies of His saints, when they are thus gathered, to get something for Himself” (Br. Anton Frey, Notes on the Song of Solomon, page 31).

Song of Solomon 4:5 — “Thy two breasts are like two fawns, twins of a gazelle, which feed among the lilies.”

The suggestion that the roes “feed among the lilies” is a most beautiful one. The roes are enriched in life and health by what they feed upon; and this shows in their beauty and grace, as well as in the fleetness of foot.

roe.jpg

The roe or gazelle is the smallest animal of the antelope kind; it is only about two feet in height, and not more than half the size of the fallow‑deer. Its eyes are remarkably soft and expressive. It is noted for its swiftness in 1 Chronicles 12:8, speaking of men who were “as swift as the roes upon the mountains.” In 2 Samuel 2:18, “Asahel was as light of foot as a wild roe.” In the Song of Solomon 2:9, “The voice of my beloved! behold he cometh leaping upon the mountains, skipping upon the hills: my beloved is like a roe or a young hart.”

two roes.jpg

Whatever goodness and cheer can flow out of the fully consecrated child of God into the lives of others, is but the outgrowth, the result, of what one in Christ feeds upon “among the lilies,” among the consecrated saints of God, in their gatherings, when and wherever these fellowship in the Lord. And, of course, this is what shows, for not only are her “breasts” beautiful and graceful, but they are full of wholesome “nourishment” for others. We cannot help but here think of an expression used by the Apostle Paul when writing to the beloved at Thessalonica:

“I was like a mother that lovingly nurses her children” (1 Thessalonians 2:7, Way’s Translation).

“The ‘two breasts’ speak of affections that are balanced. They set forth symbolically the tenderness and sensitiveness of spiritual affections. Grace governing the heart, would secure this; the one who loves God would love his brother also; and there would be no partialities as to the truth, no attaching ourselves to one aspect of the truth in such a way as to lose interest in the whole circle of truth” (Br. Anton Frey, Notes on the Song of Solomon, page 41).

The fleetness of foot, and the sensitivity to anything unwholesome or harmful, reflects the disposition in the character of the espoused virgin. In order to love, and to do good unto others, regardless as to who or what they may be (Galatians 6:10), she must not allow herself to remain for any length of time in an atmosphere that might cause the flow of her loving kindness toward any to be stopped, or even retarded. To this end, all professing to be saints of God should guard themselves against “bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and evil speaking” so as to remain “kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another” (Ephesians 4:31,32). The prayer that should ever remain on the lips of the espoused virgin should be:

“I want a principle within
Of jealous godly fear;
A sensitivity of sin,
A pain to feel it near.
“Quick as the apple of an eye,
O God, my conscience make:
Awake my soul, when sin is nigh,
And keep my soul awake.”

Roes are timid creatures, sensitive to any disturbance and ready to flee from it on swift foot. The Lord wishes us to cultivate and exhibit affections that are delicately sensitive, that are quickly alarmed by the approach of anything that is of the world or the flesh or the devil. This holy sensitiveness can only be preserved as it is nourished upon appropriate food. The garbage of the world is fatal to it. The fawns “feed among the lilies.” This is where He feeds His flock (Song of Solomon 2:16, 6:3). If the spouse is herself a “lily among the thorns,” her affections must feed in conditions that correspond with her true character. How refined the purity of such a feeding‑place! A place where one is surrounded by a beauty and glory that has been directly conferred by God. Where all is in contrast to the thorns around, and is marked by harmlessness, simplicity, and irreproachableness. (See Philippians 2:12‑15.) In such conditions spiritual affections can be suitably nourished. They are conditions which do not pertain to the world nor to nature; they belong to a sphere where all is the product of grace [God’s loving kindness; unmerited/undeserved favor] (Br. Anton Frey, Notes on the Song of Solomon, page 41).

“Still blushing profusely under the barrage of the sweet things He has been saying to her, she fain would change the subject. She, therefore, interrupts Him, to tell Him that it will not be too long to wait ere she shall be His forever — to have and to hold! “Until the day break, and the shadows flee away, I will get me to the mountain of myrrh, and to the hill of frankincense” (Br. Anton Frey, Notes on the Song of Solomon, page 41).

“It is still night, and the time of His rejection, but we are not children of the night. As children of the day we ardently long for it to come, but there can be no day until He appears who alone can usher it in. Then we shall have done with the night and shadows. Until then, the bride will seek those things which are above, and set her affections on things above, not on things on earth. She wants to be above this world (Br. Anton Frey, Notes on the Song of Solomon, page 41).

Meaning of “Rose of Sharon”

From an Old Testament place name, “Sharon” in Hebrew means “plain,” referring to the fertile plain near the coast of Israel.

Here are two maps of the Plain of Sharon in Israel. The area is fertile and is near the Golan Heights, which belongs to Israel since 1967. (Some think it contains high oil reserves —more oil here, than in all of Saudi Arabia. If so, perhaps this will be a factor inducing Gog’s attack on Israel in the future.)

Flowers growing in such a low‑lying terrain aptly reflect the “beauty” and the “fragrance” of Him, who, though once in the form of God, emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, made in the likeness of man. “Being found in fashion as a man, [he] humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the [humiliating] death of the cross” (Philippians 2:6‑8).

“Our Lord Jesus, ‘the beginning of the creation of God,’ was willing in harmony with the Father’s plan to humble himself, to take a lower nature and to do a work which would imply not only a great deal of humiliation, but also a great deal of pain and suffering. The Apostle points out how the ‘Only Begotten’ proved his willingness and humility by complying with this arrangement; and that after he became a man he continued of the same humble spirit, willing to carry out the divine plan to the very letter, by dying as man’s ransom‑price; and not only so — when it pleased the Father to require that the death should be a most ignominious one in every respect, perhaps beyond the requirements of the ransom merely, he did not draw back, but said: ‘Thy will not mine be done,’ and stooped even to the ignominious ‘death of the cross’ ” (R2228:2).

What kind of flower was the “rose of Sharon” and the “lily of the valleys”?

The “rose of Sharon” is a name that has been applied to several different species of flowering plants that are valued in different parts of the world. The identity of the plant referred to in the Bible is unclear and is disputed among biblical scholars. Wikipedia says that it does not refer to actual roses, although one of the species it refers to in modern usage is a member of Rosaceae.

The Hebrew phrase was translated by the KJV editors as “rose of Sharon.” However, the Septuagint and the Vulgate render it simply as “the flower of the field.”The Hebrew word occurs three times in the scriptures (here in the Song of Solomon, Isaiah 65:10,Isaiah 35:1). The last one reads “the desert shall rejoice and bloom as the rose.” Here, the word rendered “rose” in the KJV is rendered “lily” (Septuagint, Vulgate and Wycliffe), “jonquil” (Jerusalem Bible), and “crocus” (RSV). Varying scholars have suggested that the biblical “rose of Sharon” may be one of the following plants:

(1) A crocus — “a kind of crocus growing as a lily among the brambles” (“Sharon,” Harper’s Bible Dictionary) or a crocus that grows in the coastal plain of Sharon (New Oxford Annotated Bible). Gesenius has no doubt that the plant denoted is the Colchicum autumnale (Smith’s Dictionary of the Bible).

Colchicum Autumnale.jpg

(2) A tulip — “a bright red tulip‑like flower… today prolific in the hills of Sharon” (“Rose”, Harper’s Bible Dictionary).

tulip.jpg

(3) Tulipa agenensis — the Sharon tulip, a species of tulip suggested by a few botanists.

Tulipa Agenensis - Sharon Tulip.jpg

(4) A lily, Lilium candidum, more commonly known as the Madonna lily, a species of lily suggested by some botanists, thought likely to refer to the “lily of the valleys” mentioned in the second part of Song of Solomon 2:1.

Lilium Candidum.jpg

(5) (Polyanthus) Narcissus — “Rose,” Cyclopaedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature.

Polyanthus Narcissus

Etymologists have tentatively linked the biblical חבצלת to the words בצל beṣel, meaning “bulb,” and חמץ ḥāmaṣ, which is understood as meaning either “pungent” or “splendid” (The Analytical Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon).

From Smith’s Dictionary: “It appears to us more probable that the narcissus is intended than the crocus. The narcissus and the lily (Lilium candidum) would be in blossom together in the early spring, while the Colchicum is an autumn plant.”

(6) Marshmallows — “W.M. Thomson, in The Land and the Book suggests that what is really referred to by the rose of Sharon is the marsh‑mallow” (Br. Anton Frey, Notes on the Song of Solomon).

Rose of Sharon - Hibiscus

“The Lilies of the Field” (Luke 12:27, 28)

(7) Anthemis palestina — Better known as the common daisy, dots the fields of Palestine after the rains. Dr. Ha‑Reubeni (Professor of Biblical Botany, at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem) points out (Nature Magazine, December 1934) that it is “beautiful at all hours of the day, even when old and drying. When it has dried up, it is gathered with the dried grass and cast into the furnace.” He adds “the daisy has a crown, which gives special aptitude to the comparison with Solomon, the crowned King.”

Anthemis Palestina.jpg

(8) AnemoneAccording to F. A. Shuttleworth (in “The Song of Songs A short series of devotional meditations – No. 1,” The Herald of Christ’s Kingdom Magazine, April 1958) in the Eastern world, the lily of the valleys is that flower known in the West as the anemone with its rich petals of red and purple. Here is an image of these (below).

anemone flower.jpg

What do all these flowers have in common?

All these flowers have things in common: simplicity, in natural beauty that reflects God’s perfect love (1 John 4:18); sweet fragrance (2 Corinthians 2:14, 15), that reflects the sweetness of cheerful, willing, patiently enduring sacrifice to bring glory to God by accepting and doing the Heavenly Father’s will; joy, which is infectious, as it brings joy to all who look at their beauty of colour. Their head is either bowed low, reminding us of humble reverence in seeking to know and do the Heavenly Father’s will through Christian servitude in the School of Christ, or held high, reflecting saints who hold high our “head,” Christ Jesus. May God be praised, honored, and glorified in all that is done to please Him through Christ (Matthew 5:16).

References

Br. Charles Taze Russell, Reprints (R) of the Original Watch Tower and Herald of Christ’s Presence. These Reprints can be read online at The Harvest Truth Data Base (Version 9) website here: www.htdb.one

Br. Anton Frey, “Notes on the Song of Solomon.” These study notes are from the “BIBLE STUDY LIBRARY” CD which can be purchased from The Herald of Christ’s Kingdom Bookstore at the following link: https://herald-magazine.com/bookstore-2/

Br. Frank Shallieu, “Notes on the Song of Solomon.” These study notes are also from the “BIBLE STUDY LIBRARY” CD. (Same link as above.)

F. A. Shuttleworth, Scot., “The Song of Songs A short series of devotional meditations – No. 1,” The Herald of Christ’s Kingdom, April 1958. Here is the direct link: http://www.heraldmag.org/archives/1958_4.htm#_Toc36391359

Suggested Further Reading

“The Song of Solomon” by Br. David Rice. The Beauties of the Truth Periodical http://www.beautiesofthetruth.org/Archive/Library/Doctrine/Mags/Bot/90s/BOTMAY02.PDF

“I Am My Beloved’s, and My Beloved Is Mine.” The Dawn Magazine, Sept. 1989, in the Christian Life and Doctrine section.
http://www.dawnbible.com/1989/8909cl-4.htm

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ROMANS 12:1 – What Does Being CONSECRATED TO THE LORD mean?

Psalm 1,1-2.jpg

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service” (Romans 12:1).

Dear fellow Brethren and friends in CHRIST,

“Are you consecrated to the LORD?” 

What is your first reaction to this question?

Is it a question you have been asked before or perhaps you have asked others?

Which word in that question stands out the most?

If your answer is “consecration” … then stay tuned! If not, stay tuned anyway as we wish all who read this post to God willing, receive a spiritual blessing.

What does the word consecration really mean in relation to a Christian’s calling?

Is consecration a means of escaping horrible punishment in the afterlife, where just a simple profession of faith, and reasonably moral conduct are enough to avoid the jeopardy and secure a place in heaven?

Of course not.

God is not merely saving a few before He destroys (or worse) the vast majority…

Rather, God is selecting from among men and women of faith an “elect” class (Matthew 24:24, Romans 8:33, 2 Peter 1:10) for a special honour during the coming 1000 year reign of Christ with his “Bride” (consisting of 144,000 members — the more than overcomers from the Gospel Age) — who with Christ, their “Head”, will be the spiritual rulers of the world. They will help lead mankind — that is all the human  race from Adam who will be resurrected — up the “Highway of Holiness”, teaching them godliness and truth, so that righteousness will flourish through the Universe and the eradication of evil and the evil ones will lead to everlasting joy and pain-less-ness and sin-less-ness! (Isaiah 35:8)

What a MARVELLOUS PLAN!

What an incredibly unfathomable Creator of ALL we have!

God’s timing is perfectly precise to work out everything for the ultimate purpose of bringing everlasting JOY to all and in all for eternal eternities (Habakkuk 2:3, Galatians 4:4-5, Romans 5:6, Psalm 27:14, Ecclesiastes 3:11, Romans 11:25, Genesis 18:14).

Romans 5, 6-8.jpg

Can you imagine what glorious harmony and unity in all things will occur amongst every soul that lives once Christ and his saints lead the world into obedience and understanding?! WOW! It will be like ONE MIND made up of trillions of bodies united in thought, action and purpose bring the Heavenly Father JOY in all things (Revelation 20:1-3, 6).

How High are God’s Standards?

By understanding the high honour associated with the saintly class called by God during this Gospel Age as his “royal priesthood” training as the under-priests of a heavenly government soon to commence—then we can better appreciate the high standards which are expected of them by God.

These standards may be considered in four parts:

(1) Godly conduct, (2) Character Development, (3) Study of the Truth, (4) Service and Sacrifice.

  1. Godly Conduct

Paul clearly explains in 1 Corinthians 6:10 in Corinth, Greece, he knew some of them had practiced the darker sins of the world. He listed these in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 (ESV) what our conduct MUST BE:

“9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”

We learn from these words of the Apostle Paul to the “called of God” in the church of Corinth in Greece, that once we have been washed,” we are not to return to any immoral ways of conduct of the past.

What then, do you think is the pre-requisite for consecration?

It is REPENTANCE.

Repentance means turning completely 160 degrees away from past ways of living for the flesh to now living to feed the New Creation—the New Mind in Christ.

It means COMPLETELY being DEAD to sin and ALIVE IN CHRIST.

It means soaring like an eagle towards the SUN…

isaiah-40-31

Who does the sun represent in the Bible?

It represents JESUS. Yes, our Lord and Saviour who’s wings are of healing soon to come to all the nations of the earth!

By focusing on JESUS… and by being considered a FOOL IN CHRIST by many if not most, we will not be caught in the VISIBLE spider web spun by the most evil one of all in this dark world — the one who is described in 1 Peter 5:8 as “a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour.”

He wants most to deceive “the best of the best”! Watch out and BE ON THE ALERT!

Is a spider web visible in the day?:-

NO — if you are rushing around and careless…

YES — if you tread with CAUTION and are FOCUSED ON WHAT IS AHEAD—a mind fixed on Jesus.

By inquiring “What is your will Father? Please show me” we are at a “safe speed” of zealous action moving forward with Christ who has promised to never leave us nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5).

—– LET US PRAY FOR EACH OTHER AND BE ON THE ALERT. —–

DO NOT SLUMBER even for a moment away from spiritual alertness of the New Mind in CHRIST!

Let our thoughts be on Jesus and the faithful ones of the Bible — the Apostles and the Ancient Worthies — our “cloud of witnesses” talked about by the Apostle Paul in the Book of Hebrews, and the prophets of the Old Testament.

May we be HOT (not lukewarm) for the Truth (Revelation 3:16)… because if we are not careful of GROWTH and PROGRESS in the School of Christ, slipping towards the gates of perhaps no return… means slipping towards second death! To be by these “gates” is emptiness in the fullest sense and a loneliness and rejection and loss of …

EVERYTHING!

Jesus explains to us what should characterize a Christian’s character in his words spoken in his Sermon on the Mount:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons[a] of God.

10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11 “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.

12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you (Matthew 5:3-11, ESV).

  1. Character Development

Actions are a result of thoughts. Likewise, one’s outward conduct is the result of one’s inward character. Our character is like a mirror that reflects hidden within principles and qualities that are in our heart and mind (Proverbs 23:7, Proverbs 4:23).

How reassuring it is though, that God knows the intent of our heart even when our conduct does not express our intents, or when our conduct is misunderstood or misrepresented by others. “Man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).

How do we live in this world but not be of the world? (John 17:16)

How do we not become friends of this world and thus enemies of God? (James 4:4):-

  • By feasting on the Words of God.
  • By prayer.
  • By disciplining the flesh.
  • By feeding the spiritual mind.
  • By going AGAINST the tide of the world — STARVING the fleshly minds and FEEDING the spiritual mind.
  • Literally saturating the mind with Divine Beauties of Truth and thus feasting on the Word of God and communing with the Heavenly Father moment by moment (Romans 12:1).

The result of these actions is a clear conscience before God which is the only way to righteous peace… a peace unlike that which the world knows… It is a peace that knows only JOY in the spirit for the flesh is counted as dead as one lives in newness of life feeding that which is spiritual — the embryonic New Creature within (Psalm 97:11).

Christian character can be defined by “the fruits of the Spirit” which the Apostle Paul so brilliantly explains in Galatians 5:22-23.

Galatians 5, 22.jpg

Another list of Christian character is given to us by Apostle Peter in 2 Peter 1:5-12:

5Make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. 10 Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. 11 For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. 12 Therefore I intend always to remind you of these qualities, though you know them and are established in the truth that you have.

Colossians 3, 2.jpg

  1. Study of the Truth

The Apostle Paul wrote to “the saints and faithful brothers in Christ at Colossae” including in this letter, the following words:

“from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10 so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God…”

To the Philippian brethren, the Apostle Paul wrote:

“And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment (Philippians 1:9).

Why is studying the Word of God in the Bible so important for the consecrated in the Lord?

Because by doing so, we can learn to understand the plans and purposes of God in part (1 Corinthians 13:9), so that we can be in harmony with Him, and work in sympathy with Him.

Some of the Jews in the Apostle Paul’s day had “a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge” (Romans 10:2). This was because the brethren back then were transiting from the old Jewish Age to the new Gospel Age and the labours of Apostle Paul were in this direction.

We should be zealous as they, but our zeal should be directed by an accurate knowledge of the Divine Plan. One method of reasoning upon Holy Scriptures which the Apostle Paul teaches us from his methods of reasoning, is to understand the types, or pictures, used in the Old Testament.

E.g. The Apostle Paul cited:

(1) the spiritual meaning of the wives of Abraham (Galatians 4:21-31),
(2) the meaning of Israel’s Day of Atonement (Hebrews 9:1-14, 10:1-10),
(3) the meaning of Melchizedek as a figure of Christ (Hebrews chapters 5 & 7).

Other methods of studying the Bible include: drawing lessons from the prophets (e.g. Romans 9:23-33), topical and chronological.

“No work is more noble and ennobling than the reverent study of the revealed purposes of God.”

(Studies in the Scriptures, Volume 1, page 13).

  1. Service and Sacrifice

Does our consecrated life include active service in the cause of Christ? It must.

Why?

Because this is a way of sacrificing our earthly interests for our spiritual work by using our time, strength, energy, talents, or any other means for the Lord’s cause.

A great way of seeking out opportunities in this way is to inquire of the Lord:

“Heavenly Father, please show me, what is your will for me today. Where do you wish I be sent? To whom do you wish me to minister unto? Who may I spiritually edify? Please use me to bring you joy so that your Holy Name may be glorified, and your Son Jesus may shine through into the hearts of whomever you wish requires this.”

Some examples of active service in the cause of Christ include:

  • Opening our home for fellowship with the brethren.
  • Attending meetings of the Lord’s people rather than spending time in pursuing hobbies and things of this world.
  • Preparing answers to Biblical questions asked by others or in preparation for Bible Studies.
  • Travelling to serve the brethren (Acts 15:25, 26).
  • Preach the Truth in favourable or non-favourable circumstances.
  • Visiting/assisting the sick, bereaved, widows, orphans.
  • Accepting physical and/or mental abuse and/or imprisonment. (Note: According to traditions and the Bible, eight of the Apostles died as martyrs. At least two of the Apostles, Peter and Andrew, were crucified.)

Even when on beds of sickness, one can lie in bed and when mentally alert, send prayers of petitions and supplications to the Heavenly father for others as well as for self. This is the GREATEST of gifts perhaps that one can give another!

The Apostle Paul wrote that he was “being poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrifice and service of” the faith of the Philippian brethren, which made him rejoice and be filled with joy. He urged the Philippian brethren to “rejoice in the same way and share your joy” with him. (Philippians 2:17).

In 1 Corinthians 16:15-16 the household of Stephanas is praised by the Apostle Paul because they “devoted themselves to the service of the saints”. Paul encourages the brethren in Corinth to be subject to such as these, and to every fellow worker and laborer.”

The Word “Consecration”

There are eight different Hebrew words in the Old Testament which are rendered consecrate, consecrated, consecration, or consecrations.

  1. “Nazar” (Strong’s Concordance #5144) means to set apart (for sacred purposes) and this word is in Numbers 6:12 – a text referring to the Nazarite vow, which is a picture of the consecration of Christians to God. (See Study 6 – The Levites). The worshipper taking this vow was to consecrate [nazar, set apart] unto Jehovah the days of his separation..

Are we continuously keeping our earthly life SET APART for the sacred purposes of devotion to God?

  1. “Nezer” (Strong’s # 5145) means something set apart and this word is found in Numbers 6:7 and also refers to the Nazarite vow:

“7 He shall not make himself unclean for his father, or for his mother, for his brother, or for his sister, when they die: because the consecration [separation] of his God is upon his head.”

  1. “Charam” (Strong’s #2763) means to seclude, by a ban, to devote to religious use and this word is found in Micah 4:13, “I will consecrate their gain unto the Lord.”

This refers to the wealth of gentile nations after the judgments of God. It is not directly relevant to our present study.

  1. “Godesh” (Strong’s 6944) means a sacred place or thing and this word is found in Joshua 6:19, “all the silver, and gold, and vessels of brass and iron are consecrated unto the Lord.”

This refers to the precious things of the gentile nations conquered by Joshua which would come into the treasury of Jehovah. These precious items of “silver and gold” taken from the world might represent the Church Class (the Elect of the Gospel Age).

[Note: Compare Haggai 2:7, 8, where God will “shake the nations,” and the silver and gold may here too represent the saints of God who will glorify God’s spiritual temple.

  1. “Qadash” (Strong’s # 6942) means to make, pronounce, or observe as clean. This is used three times of the priests. See: Exodus 28:3, 30:30; 2 Chronicles 26:18.
  1. The most frequent Hebrew term rendered consecrate is actually a pair of words used together, “mala” (Strong’s #4390) meaning to fill and “yad” (Strong’s #3027) meaning open hand.

To fill an open hand, in this context, means for the priests to be devoted to their sacred duty to God and ministering to others. In English there is an expression, “my hands are full,” meaning one is fully occupied. So it should be with those consecrated to God during this age. We should have our hands full in the sacred service which is our privilege.

  1. “Millu” (Strongs #4394) means a filling, or consecration.

In Exodus 29 and Leviticus 8 this word is used of the offerings by which the priests were consecrated to their office. In Leviticus 8:33 it is once used in reference to days of consecration of the priests.

In what way is this consecration in relation to the Priests, significant to us?

It is fitting to us since we are called to be priests of God to reconcile the world back to God during the Kingdom.

So actually, we should be consecrated to God even more deeply than the priests under the Old Law were.

In the New Testament, the term “consecration” is found in the following 2 places:

  • Hebrews 7:28 (ESV) – “For the law appoints men in their weakness as high priests, but the word of the oath, which came later than the law, appoints a Son who has been made perfect forever.”

Here it speaks of Jesus consecrated as a priest to serve God, and “the oath” refers to the oath given by God to King David in Psalms 110:4, “The LORD hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek.” Prophetically, this refers to Jesus Christ, who was descended from the line of David.  Melchizedek was a king of Jerusalem who was also a priest (Genesis 14:18). Paul says Melchizedek was a picture of Jesus, who in heaven, after his glorification, is also a King and Priest. (See further words on Melchizedek in the post: Study 7 – The Priests.)

Jesus is now our high priest, but during the Millennium we will join with him as priests for the world (Revelation 20:6).

By being consecrated unto death now in the entire service of and for God, we will be, God willing, qualified, tested and proven worthy and ready to serve with him to uplift the world.

  • Hebrews 10:20 (KJV) — refers to the “new and living way which he [Christ] hath consecrated [inaugurated] for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh.”

Here the Apostle Paul reminds us about how remarkably, the thick veil in Solomon’s Temple was rent from top to bottom when Jesus died on the cross (Matthew 27:51).

The present heavenly calling of the Gospel Age to consecrate our lives to God, was never even extended to the righteous of past ages. This call is unique, and was opened up (inaugurated) through Christ’s death on the cross.

Those who consecrate their lives to God now receive the redemption provided by this ransom now, whereas the world will receive the redemption later, during the Millennial Age.

Are All Christians Consecrated?

We hope they will be as not all now are.

One may believe in God, believe in Jesus as their Saviour, appreciate what God has provide, strive to refrain from sin and evil as best one can, commit to works of kindness and charity, attend worship services but if there is no full personally commitment, then there is no valid consecration .

A step in the direction of full consecration involves showing by an outward sign of God’s invisible grace (the holy Spirit) one’s full commitment to their consecration vow through water baptism — a testimony to others.

If you have still not done so please take some time to thoughtfully consider consecrating your all to the Lord — the benefits in this life, far outweigh any other joy that any other person, thing and place can give!

What will it cost?

A good answer is in Luke 14:26-33. Jesus explains this best!

(See Post: “The Cost of Discipleship.”)

In the earlier verses Jesus spoke of humility (verse 11), and of giving without having any thought of getting back in return (verse 14). Jesus also gave a parable about a great supper prepared by a good man, who sent his servants to invite his guests. It represents God’s invitation through Christ to come into the spiritual kingdom of God. Since most of those invited declined, (giving one excuse or another), the man decided to open the invitation to any who would be interested for he insisted, “my house [will] be filled.” (verse 23).

Are you one of the interested? Are you ready to accept the blessings of “a gracious God [who is] merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love?” (Jonah 4:2)

You know… the fastest way to happiness is BEING A GIVER and what better way than to give the Creator of ALL your ALL?

To the already consecrated brethren in Christ, are you rejoicing in your testing of patient continuance in well doing and seeking for glory and honour and immortality?

Acknowledgment:

We thank the author(s) of the article titled “Consecration”  in the publication “Faithbuilders Fellowship-Proclaiming Christ’s Parousia and the coming Millennial Kingdom,” February 2006 (www.2043ad.com) for content material used in creating this post.

 

This post’s URL:
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2017/01/01/romans-121-what-does-being-consecrated-to-the-lord-mean/

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