VOL. XXVI NOVEMBER 1943
Word reaches us that the pilgrimage our of well beloved Brother L. F. Zink has ended, death having dome to him on October, 11th. We are confident of our Brother's faithfulness, and that he is accorded a place among the "more than overcomers." In a later issue of this journal we hope to publish a few items and particulars regarding his live.
"Be not drunk with wine,
wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; speaking to yourselves in psalms and
hymns and spiritual songs,
THERE SHOULD be a very close relationship between heart and lips when offering praise and thanks unto God; for true thanksgiving must spring from the inner grace of heartfelt appreciation. The words of Paul in Romans 10:10 find application here, in that they set forth a principle which is true in all our relationships to God: "With the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation."
As we grow in appreciation of the character and attributes of God, we will feel constrained to give expression to His goodness, not only in words, but in acts and mode of life. This attitude on our part is pleasing unto the Father and is necessary to our own spiritual well being.
There can be no true praise and thanks apart from heart appreciation; and so, if this inner grace is lacking, all outward expression becomes mere idle service and mockery, and as such, is an abomination. God hates hypocrisy, and His Word expresses condemnation of those who draw near with their lips only. To some such Jesus said, "Ye hypocrites, well did Isaiah prophesy of you, saying, This people honoreth Me with their lips; but their heart is far from Me. But in vain do they worship Me, teaching as their doctrines the precepts of men." (Matt. 15:7-9.) Both the houses of Israel are declared to be guilty of this abomination, and lest we partake of "the leaven of the Pharisees," we should continually join with David in the prayer that we may so live that "The words of our mouths, and the meditation of our hearts may be acceptable unto the Lord." -Psa. 19:14.
When we come to Jesus as our Savior and are accepted of Him as 'probationary members -of His Body, a great change takes place in us, but this change does not at once do away with our natural tendencies; consequently, these are carried over into the new life, where we undergo the refining process, the transformation into the image of our Lord and Master.
Some of us in our natural tendencies are too much under the control of sentiment and impulse; others too coldly intellectual and phlegmatic; and so 'the Word furnishes us with mental and spiritual tonics and exercises to build. up that which is lacking, for the well developed Christian must have both. 'And who is that Christian' that does not, especially when he makes an honest comparison between himself and the perfect pattern of our Lord, find himself lacking? Most of us find that we are deficient both in understanding and feeling as respects worship of the heavenly Father.
WINE-DRUNK VERSUS SPIRIT-FILLED
Seemingly there was need for admonition respecting the unrestrained use of wine among' the early Christians, for we find warnings concerning it in a number of places. (Luke 21:34; Rom. 13:13; 14:21;Gal. 5:21; 1 Tim. 3:8; Titus 2:3.) Palestine was a grape producing region, and wine was in general use. John the Baptist was peculiar in that he did not drink wine; but Jesus evidently did partake thereof on occasion, for the hypocritical Pharisees, who accused John of having a demon because of his abstemiousness, reversed their criticism of Jesus and called him a "wine bibber and a friend of publicans and sinners." - Luke 1:15; Matt. 11:18, 19.
John 2:1-11 tells us that the first sign wrought by Jesus was in Cana of Galilee when' he turned water into wine at a wedding feast; and so common was its use even among Christians that the Apostle felt it necessary to advise that only those brethren who were moderate in their drinking be considered for the position of Eldership. (1 Tim. 3:8.) Some in the Corinthian Church even went to the extreme of getting drunk at the Memorial observance. (1 Cor. 11:21.) Therefore, in our text, the Apostle again warns against the tendency to intemperance, but urges the unrestrained filling with the Spirit. In this respect it is impossible to go to excess.
In much of his writings Paul stresses the importance of a correct understanding of truth, but here in our text he is emphasizing the need for emotional release by the expression of the heart's gratitude in psalms; hymns, and songs of thanksgiving. A person who is drunk with wine, is often sentimentally foolish and not rational in giving vent to the emotions; but one "filled with the Spirit" is keenly aware of what he does, and so benefits in the stirring of his emotions through the beauties of verse and melody, which, in turn help to deepen the sense of appreciation.
PRAISE IN PSALMS AND HYMNS
We all know by experience how this emotional release, through the expressing of gratitude and praise in songs and. testimonies of thanksgiving, brings an uplift that causes us to forget the difficulties and trials that attend our way. How much good we derive therefrom, we have no way of determining, but we know that it must be great else the Lord would not have provided so many psalms and hymns of praise, and admonished us in their frequent use.
When King Saul was low in spirit and could not rest, he would call for David and his harp, and the music eased his troubled mind and enabled him to rest. When the Apostles were chained in prison and were in pain and misery from being beaten, they sang songs and forgot their troubles. Many-hospitals and curative institutions, especially those for the insane, now use music as a therapeutic in the healing of mind and body and have found that its soothing strains are often efficacious when nothing else seems to help.
A man that is completely under the influence of alcohol, has all his senses affected, and his thoughts, speech, and actions show his condition. The same is true of one who is filled with the Spirit; he too, is under a powerful influence. But instead of its being an influence that first excites and then numbs, as is the case with wine, it is a quickening, uplifting, and upbuilding experience. One who becomes drunk with wine usually enjoys the first effects of the stimulation, but the afterward is a headache and nausea, a weakening and breaking down of the physical and mental powers. But "The blessing of the Lord [being filled with His Spirit-the greatest blessing we can receive in this life], it maketh rich; and He addeth no sorrow therewith." - Prov. 10:22.
We have observed that drunkards have a tendency to talk to themselves and to sing maudlin songs. Paul suggests that, being filled with the Spirit, we speak to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, and that we not only make melody with our lips, but in our hearts. Some singers are so able in their art that they can convey sentiments with their lips that give impression to the listener of deep feeling, when in reality there is no real sentiment there. God, however, is not deceived by mere lip service, no matter how real it may seem to us, for He looketh upon the heart and judges not by the seeing of the eye or hearing of the ear.
When the Church was established on the day of Pentecost, and God's Holy Spirit came upon the waiting disciples, the record is that "They were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance." This was evidently a loud sound and quite a demonstration, for we read that "When this sound was heard, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man ["devout Jews from every nation under heaven"] heard them speaking in his own tongue, and they were amazed and marveled, saying, Behold, are not all these that speak Galileans? . . But others mocking said, They are filled with new wine." - Acts 2:5-13.
These who were filled with the Spirit rather than with new wine, as Peter points out, were not speaking to one another so much as they were unto the multitude, for the context shows that it was in witness of the fulfillment of the prophecy of Joel, and of the power of God through Jesus Christ to give salvation by faith rather than through works of the Law that they spoke. This witness of the Spirit through the disciples was very effective in convincing these devout Jews that the Christ of whom they were in expectation had indeed come, for about three thousand were added to the Church that day. The gifts of the Spirit granted to the early Church, did much toward its establishment, but were not intended to aid much toward its growth in character-likeness unto the Lord, for as gifts, they were bestowed apart from any effort toward Christlikeness.
The fruit of the Spirit is a matter of development, and this filling of which our text speaks has to do with fruitage. Hence it is a different and much more valuable filling than that which was bestowed in a miraculous way at Pentecost. We are not told just what the message was that the Holy Spirit uttered through the disciples, but reasoning from Peter's line of thought which follows, we would think it had to do with testimony concerning Jesus and His mission. The-disciples, however, could have had but little, if any, volition in what was uttered.
We, on the other hand, exercise volition in the message we speak to ourselves; and so did they after they had experienced the development of fruit by the Holy Spirit. And while we also speak of Jesus, yet it is more in praise of His grace and beauty of character, and in heart appreciation of the love and fellowship of both the Son and the Father. The hymns we sing, especially those we choose as we become ripened in character, are largely designed to express to ourselves and to one another audibly and in rhythmic cadence, the sentiments of our hearts in thankful praise. Just note, if you will, how much this is true of such hymns as "Abide, Sweet Spirit"; "My Goal is Christ"; "His Loving-Kindness"; "Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing"; "I've Found a Friend"; "Sun of My Soul"; "The Gate Ajar"; "What a Friend We Have in Jesus."
The following hymn is well suited to the Apostle's admonition:
And what could be more inspiring than the twenty third Psalm? These and many more of equal worth give expression to our joy and gratitude, and voice for us in words better than we could choose, the praise and thanks we would offer unto God.
THANKS FOR ALL THINGS
In the last verse of our text, the Apostle admonishes us to "Give thanks always for all things unto God, even the Father [R. V.], in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ." To be able to do this indicates a well developed Christian-one who has really come to know that "All things work together for good to them that love God." Only those who actually believe that God's providences are over all their ways-that He directs their path, and withholds no good thing from them that walk uprightly, can thus give thanks.
But what does the Apostle mean by "all things"? Naturally, there would be no question about the things we consider to be good-our daily bread, our comforts of home, the bed upon which we ease our tired bodies at night, pleasant surroundings and associations, time for study, opportunity for fellowship, and a thousand other things we could name-we would readily agree that we should give thanks for these. But how about the multitude of things that are hard, unpleasant, monotonous, disagreeable, disquieting, trying, painful, dishonoring, unjust, inhuman and even detestable: must we give thanks for these?
No, God will not compel us to give thanks, not even for those things for which we ask; nor will He force us to make our calling and election sure. But, if the question be asked, Should we give thanks for these things? then the answer is, Yes. Have we not made a covenant under which these bodies, reckoned holy through Christ, are committed to sacrifice, even unto death? Have we not placed ourselves under the control of the Father's will in order that His wisdom and power may be exercised on our behalf to perfect us as New Creatures? And has He not told us that through much tribulation lies the way into the Kingdom, and that He scourgeth every son He receiveth?
How could we be conformed to the image of Christ and become like God if we did not have the means of developing long-suffering, kindness, compassion, generosity, mercy, patience, and sympathy? And how could the means be provided except through- contacts that are hard, unpleasant, monotonous, disagreeable, etc.? Even Christ Jesus Himself was made perfect through the things which- He suffered, "For it became [was fitting] Him, for whom, are all things, and through whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the author of; their salvation perfect through sufferings." (Heb. 2:10.) Therefore, no matter what experiences come to us in any of our associations, whether it be family, business, social contacts or Church, we should give thanks; for all things are for our sakes and are permitted of God-in order to work in us that which is pleasing in His, sight.,We cannot give thanks and at the same time murmur or complain; we cannot give thanks and at the same time feel impatient and resentful.
Jesus knew full well the hardness and suffering we would have to endure, but did He commiserate us because of it? No, He says, "Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say, all manner of evil against you falsely, for My sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven." Again He says, "Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you." But why, Lord? why give us this hard task? "That," says Jesus, "ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven.'"
And so the multitude of things which are to try us, call for our thanks just as sincerely as do the things we enjoy, for "all things work together for good to them that love God." If the "all things" work for our good, then we should give thanks for the "all things.
But how about the weaknesses and tendencies of our own fleshly minds and bodies-do not these often, cause, us to stumble? And how about Satan and the principalities and powers arrayed against us to entrap us and bring to naught God's purpose concerning us? Are we to give thanks for these? Yes, we can even be thankful for these; not because they have become what they are, but because,, under God's overruling providence, -they become invaluable in our-development. If the deed of Joseph's brethren,- which they meant for evil, could become (under the providence of God) an' experience for good, (Gen. 45:5-8) , and if all of Satan's power and cunning, exercised directly and indirectly,, against Jesus could become the cup poured out by His, Father, is it too much to believe that God scan work the same wonders for us? "Moab is my washpot." - Psa. 108:9.
The text concludes with a statement most important to us, a statement which, if it always continues the expression of our hearts, will make all our efforts and prayers and thanksgiving acceptable unto God; but if rejected, nothing we can do will be acceptable. May God help us always to recognize and remember, that only "in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ and in the merit of His, blood is there any possibility of salvation or reward for our endeavors -to serve and praise Him.
"Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits." - J. T. Read.
GENESIS 18, 19
"If any man love Me, he will keep My words: and My Father will love him, and We will come unto him, and make our abode with him." - John 14:23.
IN THE previous studies of Abraham, "the father I of the faithful," it was noted that he is called the "friend of God." Three times (2 Chron. 20:7; James 2:23; Isa. 41:8) is he honored with this title of friendship. It shows the intimacy that existed and that may yet exist between God and His true-hearted, faithful saints. Our Lord said of those of this Age, "Henceforth h call you not servants; but I have called you friends." We cannot merit this friendship, but it is freely offered to us through Jesus. What a wondrous privilege within the reach of all "called to be saints"! The angels may be ministers, flames of fire, but the "called according to His purpose" may be friends of God. Oh, that we might rise to our exalted privileges in Christ and live on this higher ground of faith! Why do we not make more of our advantages in Christ? We read that "Abraham fell on his face; and God talked with' him." If only we get low enough and are still enough, we too may hear God speak to us more distinctly and personally through His Word; but this privilege is only for those who love Him supremely and who wait for Him.
There are, however, conditions which must be fulfilled before we can enjoy this intimacy. There must be separation; there must be purity; there must be obedience. These were all prefigured in the rite of circumcision, which was commanded of Abraham. (See the previous article on this, "Herald," Feb. 1939.) And it is only as we know of the spiritual meaning of this circumcision that we can enter into and joyfully experience this friendship with God. "Come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you." (2 Cor. 6:17, 18.) "Putting off the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ"-walking with unspotted garments even amid the defiling atmosphere of the present evil world. We remember our Lord's words, "Ye are My friends if ye do whatsoever I command you." It might have seemed to Abraham that this rite was less necessary for him than for some in his camp. But note his prompt obedience: "In the self-same day was Abraham circumcised, and Ishmael his son." "Instant obedience to known duty is an indispensable condition to all intimacy with God: and if the duty be irksome and difficult, then remember to claim all the more of the divine grace, for there is no duty 'to which we are called, for the discharge of which there is not strength enough within' reach, if only we will put forth our hands to take it."
This eighteenth chapter of Genesis gives a beautiful illustration of the results of an obedient, separated walk. Again the Lord visited Abraham "in the plains of Mamre" and became his guest. "If any man hear My voice, and open the door, I will come in to him and will sup with him, and he with Me." "If a man love Me, he will keep My words; and My Father will love him, and We will come unto him, and make our abode with him." (Rev. 3:20; John 14:23.) These Scriptures, taken in connection with our chapter, teach that the obedient enjoy a character of communion unknown to those who live in a worldly atmosphere. It is one thing to be a child, and another to be an obedient child. In Abraham we see one who, while not without imperfections, was "characterized by a close, simple, and elevated walk with God. We find him now enjoying special privileges "providing refreshment for the 'Lord; enjoying full communion with the Lord, and interceding for others before the Lord." On this occasion it was that he had the promise confirmed that he should have a son. And it was on this occasion also, when the Lord was about to destroy Sodom, that He said, '.'Shall :I hide from Abraham that thing which I do? Yes, "The secret of the Lord is with them that fear Him." As our Lord said to His disciples: "I have called you friends; for. all things that 1 have heard of My Father I have made known unto you. Those who live near to the Lord have many things revealed to them--that are hid from the wise and prudent.
"THE WISE SHALL UNDERSTAND"
"The way to know the divine purposes about this present evil world, is not to be mixed up with it, in its schemes and speculations, but to be entirely separated from it. The more closely we walk with God, and the more subject we are to His Word, the more we shall know of His mind about everything. God's Word reveals all we want to know. In its pure and sanctifying pages we learn all about the character, the course, and the destiny of the world: Had Abraham visited Sodom in order to obtain information about its facts, had he applied to some of its leading intelligent men, to know what they thought of Sodom's present condition and future prospects, how would he have been answered? Doubtless they would have called his attention to their agricultural and architectural schemes, the vast resources of the country; they would have placed before his eyes one. vast, mingled scene of buying and selling, building and planting, eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage. . . It is plain that Sodom was not the place in which to learn about Sodom's end. No; the place where 'Abraham stood before the Lord,' afforded the only, proper point from whence to take in the whole prospect... And what use did he make of his knowledge and his elevated position? . . He was enabled t plead for those who were mixed up in Sodom's defilement, and in danger of being involved in Sodom's judgment. This was a happy and a holy use to make of his place of nearness to God." And so it is today. Those who can draw near to God in full assurance of faith, having their conscience perfectly at rest, and who are able to repose in God for the past, present, and future, will be in a condition to intercede for others. Happy they whose hearts can enter into all this-hearts enlarged by personal communion with God and the Study of His Word and character.
A PASSION FOR THE GLORY OF GOD
This revelation of the destruction of Sodom brought anxiety to the mind of Abraham. His nephew, Lot, lived there. His first question was: "Wilt Thou also destroy the righteous with the wicked?" "Shall not the judge of all the earth do right?" Abraham also feared lest the surrounding nations would misunderstand God's justice in destroying the righteous with the wicked. "The character of God has ever been dear to His true-hearted servants of every age. Moses was prepared to forego the honor of being the ancestor of the chosen people, rather than that the nations which had heard of the divine fame should be able to say that God was not able to bring them into the Land of Promise. (Exod. 32:10; Num. 14:12.) And when the men fled before Ai, Joshua and the elders appear to have thought less of the danger of an immediate rising to cut them off than of what God would do for His great name. Oh for more of this chivalrous devotion to thee interests and glory of our God! Would. that we were so absorbed in all that touches the honor of the divine name amongst men, that this might be the supreme element in our anxiety, as we view the drift of human opinion concerning, the enactments of divine providence. This passion for the glory of God burnt with a clear strong flame in Abraham's heart; and it was out of this that there arose his wondrous intercession. And when we become as closely identified with the interests of God as he was, we shall come to feel as he did; and shall be eager that the divine character should be vindicated amongst the children of men."
Abraham's prayer was humble. "Behold, now, I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord, which am but dust and ashes." "Oh,' let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak." "Behold, I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord." "Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak yet but this once. The nearer we are to God, the more conscious we are of our imperfections and unworthiness. The man who is in touch with God is prostrate in His presence. Our sense of weakness is one of our strongest arguments with God. "He forgetteth not the cry of the humble." "To that man will I look who trembleth." Abraham pleaded with God, and God was not angry with.his pleading. He was persevering-six times he, returned "Wilt Thou." It was only by degrees that Abraham learned the extent of God's mercy, which was beyond what he even thought of asking at the first, and beyond what he thought of asking even at the last, for God not only would not destroy the city "for ten's sake," but in His long-suffering mercy He warned the few righteous He found in Sodom and gave them time to flee from the city. And because Lot lingered, the angels "laid hold upon his hand, and upon the hand of his wife, and upon the hand of his two daughters; the Lord being merciful unto him: and they brought him forth, and set him without the city."
We see in this that however blessed was Abraham's intercession, it was limited. He said, "I will speak yet but this once," as if afraid of presenting too large a request to Infinite Grace. There was abundance of grace and patience with God; but the" servant was limited. And so again, it is with us today. "According to your faith be it unto you,'' is God's law; and it is our unbelief that limits Him. "He is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us."
It is interesting to note that in response to Abraham's prayer; the Lord said, "I will not destroy it for ten's' sake." If ten righteous had been found, a whole city would have been spared. The ungodly little realize how much they owe to the presence of the children of God in their midst. How often has judgment upon the wicked been restrained because God would not do anything while the righteous were found amongst them. "Impatient servants have often asked if they should not gather out the tares.. But the answer of the righteous Lord has ever been: 'Nay, lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up the wheat also with them.' Ah,' how little the world' realizes the debt it owes to its saints, the salt to stay its corruption, the light to arrest the re-institution of the reign of chaos and night! We cannot but yearn over the world, as it rolls on its way towards its sad destruction." "Watch ye and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man."
THE TEST REVEALS THE FORMER LIFE
The Lord had said to Abraham, "Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin- is very grievous; I will go down now, and see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of -it, which is come unto Me and if not, I will know. And while the Lord communed with Abraham the two angels 'went on their way to Sodom. It was to have its last test, its last opportunity to show its real character. Apparently the angels did not take flight and arrive early in the afternoon at the gate of the city, but they observed the law of their assumed human form and took the usual route and descend\ed the hills which separated Abraham's camp from the plains of Jordan, reaching Sodom "at even." There they found Lot sitting "in the gate." The account given conveys the thought of quietness. and the ordinary appearance of circumstancess and conditions all is going on as usual in Sodom. "There is nothing in the setting sun to say that for the last time it has shone on these rich meadows, or that in twelve hours its rising will be dimmed by the smoke of the burning cities. The ministers of so appalling a justice as was here displayed enter the city as ordinary travelers. When a crisis comes, men do not suddenly acquire an intelligence and insight they have not habitually cultivated. They cannot suddenly put forth an energy nor exhibit an apt helpfulness which only character can give. When the test comes, we stand or fall not, according to what we would wish to be and now see the necessity of being, but according to what former self-discipline or self-indulgence has made us.
"How then shall this angelic commission of inquiry proceed? Shall it call together the elders of Sodom or. shall it take Lot outside the city, and cross-examine him, setting down names and dates and seeking to come to a fair judgment? Not at all-there is a much surer way of detecting character than by any process of examination by question and answer. To each of us God says:
"It is thus these angels proceed. They do not startle the inhabitants of Sodom into any abnormal virtue nor present opportunity for any unwonted iniquity. They give them opportunity to act in their usual way. Nothing could well be more ordinary than the entrance to the city of two strangers at sunset. There is nothing in this to excite, to throw men off their guard, to overbalance the daily habit, or give exaggerated expression to some special feature of character. It is thus we are all judged-by the insignificant circumstances in which we act without reflection, without conscious remembrance of an impending judgment, with heart and soul and full enjoyment."
Sodom was having her last test, and we realize how sufficient a test of their morality the presence of the angels was. The inhabitants quickly gave evidence that they were ripe for judgment. They did nothing worse than their habitual conduct led them to do; and it was not for this one crime they were punished, but for their general course, which led to destruction. So much for Sodom. Let us turn now to Lot.
The Lord graciously adopts two methods to draw our hearts away from the world. First, by setting before us the attractiveness and enduring substance of "things above"; and second, by declaring and teaching us by experience the vanity, the shakable nature of "things of the earth." It is much better to be drawn by the joys beyond, the "things above," than to be driven by the sorrows of earth. We too often wait to be shaken out of present things. There is little difficulty of giving up the world if by faith we lay hold of Christ and get a vision of our future inheritance.
"WHATSOEVER IS NOT OF FAITH IS SIN"
In Abraham and Lot we have two characters we do well to consider. Of Abraham we read: "By faith Abraham sojourned in the land of promise as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles." But there is no such statement -of Lot. -He first "pitched his tent toward Sodom,", then we find him "dwelling" there, and finally he is "sitting in the, gate" as judge. But it is not stated that he did so "by faith." He is not mentioned among the cloud, of witnesses to the power, of faith. No, ' he was ensnared by the world. He looked at things which are seen and temporal; Abraham looked at "the things which are unseen and eternal." Though they started out together, on the same road, with similar experiences, "not knowing whither they went," there was such a difference in, the two that their ways soon parted and their lives became vastly different. Instead of enjoying communion with the Lord, as did Abraham, Lot was afar off, enjoying the prosperity of the world. The Lord remained to commune with Abraham, but merely sent the angels to Sodom to rescue Lot. And it was with difficulty that Lot induced, the angels to accept of his hospitality. How different from the willing acceptance of Abraham's invitation as expressed in the words: "So do as thou hast said." The Lord will sup with those only who are faithful to Him. And further it was because of. Abraham that Lot was delivered: "And it came, to pass, when God destroyed the cities of the plain, that God remembered Abraham, and sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow,. when He overthrew the cities in which Lot dwelt." It was for Abraham's sake. The Lord has no sympathy with a worldly mind. It was such a mind that led Lot to settle down in the midst of that wicked city. Faith did not lead him there.
"It would furnish a very searching question for the heart in reference to every undertaking, were we to ask, Am I doing this by faith? 'Whatsoever is not of faith is sin'; and 'without faith it is impossible to please God.' It is a bitter thing to seek to manage for ourselves. We are sure to make the most grievous mistakes. It is infinitely better to let God choose our way to commit all to Him in the spirit of a little child, to Him who is willing and able to manage for us. "Be content with such things as ye have." Why? Because you are prospering in this world's goods?' Because you have all that heart could wish? Because everything is going well? Is this the ground for our contentment? Ah, no! Rather it is because "He hath said, I will never leave thee nor forsake thee." What more blessed portion could we wish for than this? "The Lord is thy inheritance."
As we consider further we see that Lot gained neither happiness nor contentment by his sojourn in Sodom. His "righteous soul was vexed" with the wickedness, but he was unable to bear efficient testimony against the wickedness'. They said, "This one fellow came in to sojourn, and he will needs be a judge." "To attempt to reprove the world's ways while we profit by association with it is vanity; the world will attach very little weight to such reproof, and such testimony. Thus it was, too, with Lot's testimony to his sons-in-law: 'He seemed as one that mocked.' It is in vain to speak of approaching judgment while finding our place, our portion, and our enjoyment in the very scene which is to be judged. Abraham was in a far better position to speak of judgment, inasmuch as he was entirely outside the sphere thereof. The tent of the stranger of Mamre was in no danger, though Sodom were in flames."
"BLESSED ARE THE MERCIFUL"
But what was Abraham's attitude in. all this? Was it one of judging and condemning Lot for his worldliness, and Sodom in its wickedness? Ah, no. Abraham was living on too exalted a plane for this. He left the judging where it belonged-with God. "Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?" All we are given to know concerning Abraham's attitude toward Lot and toward Sodom is in his pleading with God. And this is sufficient to furnish a lesson worthy of our consideration. It is not ours to call down fire from heaven, to condemn, or to judge. Being so much in need of mercy ourselves it is more -fitting that we take the place of pleaders for those who have gone out of the way, an attitude of pity and of mercy, and to leave the judging altogether with God. "Judge not that, ye be not judged."
Let us then seek to pursue the path of holy separation from the world. May we like Abraham get up into the presence of God, and from that elevated ground look upon the widespread ruin and desolation. All that about which the world is so intensely interested and anxious; all that after which they are grasping, and for which they are so fiercely contending, mill be destroyed. God's judgment now hangs heavy over this guilty world. Happy they who can say with the Psalmist, "The Lord is my refuge, and my fortress; my God; in Him will I trust." "God, is the strength of my life, and my portion forever. Happy they who like faithful Abraham, "Look for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God."
"Ephraim is a cake not turned." - Hosea 7:8.
A cake not turned is uncooked on one side; and so Ephraim was in many respects, untouched by divine grace; though there was some partial obedience, there was very much rebellion left. My soul, I charge thee, see whether this be thy case. Art thou thorough in the things of God? Has grace gone through the very center of thy being so as to be felt in its divine operations, in all thy powers, . thy actions, thy words, and thy thoughts? To be sanctified, . . should be thing aim and prayer;, and although sanctification may not be perfect in thee anywhere in degree, yet it must be universal-in its action; there must not be the appearance of holiness in one place and reigning sin in another, else thou, too, wilt be a cake not turned.
A cake not turned is soon burnt on the side nearest the fire, and although no man can have too much religion, there are some who seem burnt black with bigoted zeal for that part of truth which they have received, or are charred to a cinder with a vainglorious Pharisaic ostentation of those religious performances which suit their humor. The assumed appearances of superior sanctity frequently accompany a total absence of all vital godliness. The saint in public is a devil in private. He deals in flour' by day and in soot by night. The cake which is burned on one side is dough on the other.
If it be so with me, 0 Lord, turn met Turn my unsanctified nature to the fire of Thy love and let it feel the sacred glow, and let my burnt side cool a little, while I learn my own weakness and want of heat when I am removed from Thy heavenly flame. Let me not be found a double-minded man, but one entirely under the powerful influence of reigning grace." - C. H. Spurgeon.
"The Lord will be the place of repair of His people."
Joel 2:16 Margin
Scripture Reading: Psalm 105:17-23; Genesis chapters 37; 39-50.
An Interpreter for God
THE LIGHT which shines from this story of Joseph ought to shine into a great many lives today with its beam of cheer and hope for those who are waiting amid discouraging circumstances.
At last came the time for Joseph's deliverance and exaltation. Pharaoh had a double dream. It was not an ordinary dream: it was God's way of revealing the future to the king, that he might be a true father to his people. Seven fat cows feeding in meadow; seven lean and poor cows standing by the Nile. The seven fat cattle eaten up by the seven lean, which are lean as ever, afterwards. Seven rank, good ears of corn; seven thin, blasted ears. The thin ears devour the rank ears and are thin as ever.
The dream troubled the king. He sent for Egypt's famed wise men, dream-interpreters, but they gave him no light. Now, at last, after two years of ungrateful forgetting, the butler remembered his fault and told Pharaoh the story of the Hebrew slave in the prison who had interpreted his own dream. Swiftly runs the messenger to the prison, and Joseph is called into the presence of the king. He is thirty years old. He has been thirteen years in Egypt, as slave and prisoner. This is the hour, and here the duty for which all his former life has been a preparation.
Pharaoh tells his dreams. A vain man would have had his head turned, and have spoken boastfully. But Joseph speaks with the humility of a child. "It is not in me; God shall give Pharaoh an answer of peace." They who teach others find a lesson here: None should seek to show his own wisdom, but should hide himself, and point to God as the source of whatever wisdom his lips shall speak-. "It is not in me; God will give you an answer."
Then Joseph told the king what the dream meant. It was God's message to Pharaoh, a glimpse into the future. There would be seven years of great plenty in Egypt, and after these, seven years of sore famine. And the famine would be so grievous that it would eat up all the food of the abundant years. Joseph went on to advise the king what to do: to find a wise man and let him gather the extra food of the seven years of plenty and lay it up in great storehouses to meet the needs of the coming years of famine.
LET NO ONE GROW IMPATIENT IN GOD'S SCHOOL
At once the king appointed Joseph himself to this place of honor and trust. He took off his signet ring and put it on Joseph's hand, thus giving him almost royal authority. He arrayed him in vestures of fine linen,, and put a gold chain about his neck-insignia. of princely rank. He caused, him to ride in a chariot next to the king's own, in a royal procession. He gave him a new name, Zaphnath-paaneah; which means "bread of life" in allusion to Joseph's great service in saving the land from famine. He gave him also in marriage a daughter of one of Egypt's priests, thus elevating him into the priestly caste.
All this honor came suddenly to Joseph. Was it not worth waiting for? The way seemed long from the pit at Dothan to the steps of Egypt's throne, yet in all these years God was training him for his work. The butler's dream; came true in three days, but there was not much to it when it was fulfilled. It took thirteen years for Joseph's dreams to be realized. If a man's work is of small importance he can be prepared for it in a little while. But when he has a great mission to fulfill, it requires a long time to fit him for it. Let no one grow impatient in God's school, however slow the advancement may be. The longer time God takes with your training, and the harder the discipline, the larger may be your opportunity when the work is completed.
No doubt Joseph, believed in God's providences in, all those slow years when he was being prepared for his mission, and that this was the secret of his unconquerable hope and courage. He knew he was in God's school, and providence was a Bible to him. The same may become just as true in our life as it was in his. We may accept our condition as God's appointment for us, and if we do, we will accept it uncomplainingly. Then we may read God's will for us as clearly in each day's unfoldings as if the divine finger wrote it out for us on a sheet of paper under our eye. We shall cease' then our restless struggling. We shall no longer fight for our own way, but will gladly take God's way.
Thus, and thus only, can any one be what God made him to be and do what God made him to do in this world. God has a plan for the life of every one of His children; but we can fulfill that plan only by reading daily the little page of God's Bible which He writes for us on the tablet of the day's providences. To be able to say always in disappointment; in sorrow, in loss, in the suffering of injuries at the hands of others, in the midst of pain and trial, "God is teaching me some new lesson, training me for some new duty, bringing out in me some new beauty of character, is to live as we should live. One incident left out in Joseph's career would have broken the chain and spoiled all. So it is in our lives: all the events are necessary to fit us for the place for which God is preparing us.
Joseph was an interpreter for God. In him we see shadowed forth God's purposes in Christ. Like our Lord, he was his father's' beloved son. He was sent by his father to visit his brothers on: an errand of love; so Jesus was sent. He was seized by his brothers and sold by them for silver; so was the Son of God. Through his bondage and humiliation he became the deliverer, the savior in an earthly sense, of his brothers and of the world; Jesus crucified became the Savior of the whole human family. Joseph as an interpreter for God was again typical of Christ, the Great Interpreter. In the largest sense Jesus is the interpreter who alone has made plain the nature and the will of God. It is only in Christ that we can know God. "No man bath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared Him." As Jesus walked among men and was asked to reveal the Father, He said, "He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father." He was the love of God 'made visible on the earth. Joseph interpreted men's dreams in which God's' words were wrapped up. Jesus made plain and clear, the meaning of the divine teachings. The mysteries are dispelled as we sit at Christ's feet. He is the great interpreter for God.
Joseph was an interpreter for God. Two instances are recorded in which he made known the meaning of dreams. The first was in the prison in Egypt-that of the two officials from the king's palace, the butler and the baker. The other was that of Pharaoh. We know how important was the message of God that Joseph read in Pharaoh's dreams. He read the divine meaning that was enfolded in the dreams, and the king was enabled by gathering the surplus of the harvests in the years of plenty to feed his people and the starving people of other lands in the years of famine which followed.
There is a sense in which we who know God's love, are called to be interpreters. When Joseph came to the cell of the prisoners from Pharaoh's palace, he saw a deep gloom on their faces. When he asked why they looked so sad, he learned that the cause was - their uninterpreted dreams. They were sure that the dreams had a meaning which concerned their future, and they were burdened and anxious to know what the meaning was. So it is with people all about us. There is sadness in their faces. There are lines that tell of perplexed thought, of earnest questionings which get no answers; of deep cravings to know, which they cannot satisfy. It is the old story of these prisoners-unanswered questions, uninterpreted mysteries, unexplained trials, unsolved perplexities. Only a knowledge of the love of God and of His Plan of salvation for all-the knowledge which He has entrusted to us as His ambassadors-can answer their perplexities and dispel their gloom.
THERE ARE MYSTERIES OF GOD'S PROVIDENCE
Take another viewpoint: We all need an interpreter. We bend over the Bible and find texts we' cannot understand. The Ethiopian treasurer sitting in his chariot, and reading the words of the ancient prophet-reading with deep interest, but not knowing what the words meant, illustrates the position of many. "Understandest thou what thou readest?" asked the interpreter who stood beside the chariot. "How can I, except some one shall guide me?" answered the puzzled reader. Then the Evangelist sat beside him and showed him a blessed revelation of the Christ in the words which he had not been able to understand. Who of us has not bent over what seemed obscure Bible texts, unable to find out their sense, until some -interpreter came and made the meaning plain?
But it is not alone for, the words of God which are written in the Bible that we need interpreters. There are mysteries in providence; they come into every life at some time. There are dark days in which no light breaks through the clouds. There are nights in which no star shines. We sit with sad, heart, and with gloom in our face. All things seem to be against us. We cry out with pain- and fear. Yet in these very providences there are words of God hidden good words, words of love, words of mercy. God gives His messages in many forms: in nature; in the lives of others; in His providences for us; in history; in circumstances. But how often does the writing baffle us! We need interpreters to read for us the mysterious handwriting.
OTHERS WHO HAVE INTERPRETED GOD
All of us in our turn are to be interpreters to others. Joseph found the two prisoners sad and. his heart was touched with sympathy. He became eager to comfort them. That showed the noble spirit within him he had a warm, gentle heart. No one can ever be greatly useful in this world who does not enter into the world's experiences. Christ was moved with compassion when He saw human pain, sorrow, sin. At once His love went out to, the sufferer and He desired to help and to save.
Take the treasures of spiritual truth which we possess today, and see how they have come to us through God's interpreters. God took Moses up into the mount, and talked with him as a man talks with his friend, speaking to him great truths about Himself and His Son, and giving him statutes and laws for the guidance of men; then Moses became an interpreter to the world of the things God had shown him. David was an interpreter for God. God drew him close to. His own heart and breathed heavenly songs into is soul; then David went forth, struck his harp, and sang, and the music is still cheering the world. John was an interpreter for God. He lay in Jesus' bosom and heard the beatings of that great heart of love, and learned the secrets of friendship with his Lord; then he passed out among men and told the world what he had heard and felt and seen; and the air of the world has been warmer ever since and more of love has been beating in human hearts. Paul was an interpreter for God. Christ took him away from men and revealed Himself to him, opened to him the mystery of redemption as to no other man, and Paul wrote the thirteen or fourteen letters we have of his, which have been marvelous in their influence all these centuries. Another disciple in recent years, dissatisfied with the theories and creeds of men, set himself to discover anew- the truths of God's Plan of salvation hid, away in the Bible, and by God's grace became an index finger pointing men to such a coordination and harmony of divine truth as had not appeared since the days of the Apostles. He too was an interpreter for God.
MUST LIVE NEAR GOD TO INTERPRET HIM
God gives to every one of us some message to speak out to others. To every one of us, even the lowliest, God gives some secret of truth which He wants us to interpret in word or act to others. We cannot all make books, or write poems or, hymns which shall bless men; but if we live close to Christ, there is not one to whom He will not give some revealing of grace or love; or to whom He will not give some experience of comfort in sorrow, some glimpse of light in darkness, some glimmering of heaven's glory in the midst of the world's care. That becomes your message, God's own peculiar word to you, to tell again to the world. Let each one speak out what God has given him to tell, that it may be a blessing in the earth.
It is the interpretation of life that makes for most in blessing others. Our doctrines may be good, but unless we interpret their terms into sweet, beautiful living, our orthodoxy will, count for little. If we would try to get men to know of the love of Christ, we never can do it in sermons and lessons alone; we must do it in deeds, in living, in ministry, in love that interprets itself in kindly helpfulness, and in truth that is wrought into honesty; integrity, uprightness and holiness. If we, like Joseph, are to be interpreters for God, we must live near to God, so as to hear what He has to say to us; we must study His truth that His words may become plain to us. Like Joseph, we must keep our heart gentle and warm, our hands clean, our faith strong, our character right, if we would be God's interpreters to others. Let us seek for the key to God's strange providences, that when we are beside those who are perplexed and in darkness, we may speak to them the interpreting word 'of divine peace. Let us get into our heart so much of the word, the spirit, and the love of Christ, that we may show in our daily life the beauty of Christ.
(To be continued)
- B. H. Barton.
- Sue H. McLane.
"If we died with Christ." - Col. 2:20.
THE PART of the Epistle pertaining to controversy is now coming to an end. We pass in the next chapter, after a transitional paragraph, to simple moral precepts which, with personal details, fill up the remainder of the letter. The antagonist errors appear for the last time in the words which we have now to consider. In these the Apostle seems to gather up all his strength to strike two straight, final blows, which annihilate the theoretical positions and practical precepts of the heretical teachers. First, he puts in the form of an unanswerable demand for the reason for their teachings, their radical inconsistency with the Christian's death with Christ, which is the very secret of his life. Then, by a contemptuous concession of their apparent value to people who will not look an inch below the surface, he makes more emphatic their final condemnation as worthless-less than nothing and vanity -- for the suppression, of 'the flesh' . . . So we have here two great tests by their conformity to which we may try all teachings which assume to regulate life, and all Christian teaching about the place and necessity for ritual and outward prescriptions of conduct. 'Ye are dead with Christ.' All must fit in with that great fact. (The Expositor's Bible.) Only one mind will then be accepted as the authorized regulator of our lives, the "mind of Christ"; and it will manifest itself as of "value against the indulgence of the flesh." - R. V.
In studying this passage we have to consider first the great truth of the Christian's death with Christ, using it as a touchstone as to our actual spiritual condition.
"In Him" is a favorite phrase with the Apostle in the preceding verses as in all his writings. It speaks of the closeness of union of the Christian with his Lord, with whom however there can be no union for the one who is "living after the flesh." Therefore the . day of our being joined to Him is the day of our death with Christ. It must be borne in mind, however, that this death is considered in the Scriptures from two standpoints: (1) The moment of consecration at which the will agrees to death, from which time we are counted as "dead with Him."; (2) the bringing to the death all human desires, "dying daily." The symbol of baptism, to which the Apostle has already pointed, while lasting but a moment, represents this death in both aspects.
"DEAD WITH CHRIST"
Through all Paul's teachings there runs the scarlet thread of Christ's death, and along side of it our death with Him. On the lips of those who do not know the reality, this is mere rhetoric or mysticism. To Paul, and all who follow him as he followed the Lord, death to self and the world is the rule of life, the miracle by which the disciple becomes one with his Lord.
Death is a symbol of finality and completeness, a "great gulf" fixed, between us' and those things which by it are relegated to a forgotten past. What more apt figure could there be of this "forgetting the things behind" than the white face beneath the sheet. The intense, interests of the past are, now "as though they had not been." "His sons come to honor and he knoweth it not." How impossible 'for any cries of love and desire to pass this chasm!
This spiritual experience is not without other physical counterparts. It is no unusual thing- for one's emotions to so occupy his mind that he becomes insensible to all else, even intense physical pain. The horror of warfare is not so much in the sufferings of the battle-field, where in fact excitement deadens many of the sensibilities, but in the hours of waiting for the blow to strike. So if we are filled with Christ, and the glories of the new life are begun "in Him," we readily become insensible to the things that shortly before occupied all our thought. The test should be easily applied: Do I find myself so engrossed in the things this life has to offer that I forget the spiritual realities, or have the glories of my present spiritual experiences so great a hold upon my life that they can make me largely oblivious to physical joys and often even to necessities? Perhaps both are true. Then the question is, Which is the more effective? Which is the more frequent experience? Has the cleansing stream of His love' and truth washed from the channel of my life the rubbish gathered there in the years of living after the flesh? For however righteous that former life had endeavored to be, it was regulated by the flesh' and could never be countenanced by Him in whom we now live.
"Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof." (Rom. 6:12.) "He died for all, that 'they which live should no longer live unto themselves." (2 Cor. 5:14,15.) For the Jew the -cross means first, death to the law, but for the Gentile Christian that same cross means death to self and the world. "I am crucified with Christ." (Gal. 2:20.) "Our old man is crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin." (Rom. 6:6.) "Those that belong to Christ Jesus, have crucified the flesh, with the passions and desires." Therefore ."it is not for me to boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world." - Gal. 5:24; 6:14, Diaglott.
LIFE, A DAILY DYING
Separation from the world and deliverance from the bondage of selfish desires is not instantly complete, but if we are Christians in any genuine sense, that state is entered on the day of our consecration to Him, and from that day our life is a process of "dying daily." To the end of the earthly pilgrimage we will be in the flesh without being ruled by its dictates and desires, and therefore "in the world but not of it." For the "more than overcomers" this is not a mere phrase but a tremendously valuable reality, won in many hard-fought battles, from which all, may emerge, thanks to His mercy, without even the smell of the conflict on their garments. Not even a tear-drop will be left to stain their garments.
To the Christian, as it will be to the world in the Age to come, the doctrine of the ransom towers in importance far above all others, but "Let us all note well this point-'This is the will of God [concerning you], even your sanctification.' Let nothing becloud or obscure this truth; neither other truths nor errors." (Manna, July 1.) And he who hopes that the process of sanctification will progress in a life where selfwill has not been ordered from the field is like a general advancing against an enemy while there is mutiny in his own ranks. A great army that went before us went down in defeat on this account. "Israel, following after a law of righteousness, did not arrive at that law. Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by works." (Rom. 9:31, 32, R. V.) If we are to give way to the will of the flesh in any particular, to let it dictate in any degree, or take any credit to itself for any portion of the "strength sufficient for every time of need," defeat is surely ours, and as ignominious a defeat as theirs. As the few men of faith in their ranks stand out, so the "Little Flock" of trusting ones of this Age will, to the glory of the One who has given them the 'victory, "shine forever, as the stars of the firmament.'' The shame of our -failure goes to the self-will that insisted on entering the fray; the praise for every conquest won, to the cross of Christ. If the cross is not victorious in our-lives, it is not in them. We have not "died with Christ."
The endeavor of commentators to determine whether the "world" referred to in Paul's phrase, "the rudiments [the A B C's] of the world," is Jewish or Gentile, need not particularly concern us. Our great concern is to know Christ and Him crucified, and we with-Him. There is salvation in nothing that either world has to offer. Paul's unanswerable argument therefore is, "Why subject yourself to ordinances." "There is none other name under heaven, given among men, whereby we must be saved." - Acts 4:12.
ADDITIONS TO THE WORD OF GOD
For centuries the rabbis had endeavored to make explicit the Mosaic instructions, that all might know their duties to God. It is reasonable to suppose that nothing more than this was in the minds of the early teachers, but soon the process became one of additions to instead of explanations of the Word. And though the additions have been provided by the thousands, no Jew, or Bible Student, has yet added anything of value to that precious Word.
The precepts of the Essenes especially abound in injunctions of the kind alluded to by the Apostle Schoetgen says:; "They allowed themselves no food that was pleasant to the taste, but ate dry, coarse bread, and drank only water. Many of them ate nothing until sunset, and, if any one touched them who did not belong to their sect, they washed themselves as if they. had been deeply defiled. There is a quaint passage in Maccoth regarding the Nazarite restrictions: "If they say to a Nazarite,- Don't drink, don't drink; and he, notwithstanding, drinks, he is guilty. If they say, Don't shave, don't shave; and he shaves, notwithstanding, he is guilty. If they say, Don't put on these clothes, don't put on these clothes; and he, notwithstanding, puts on heterogeneous garments, he is guilty." Let us to whom these restrictions sound so foolish guard well our minds to assure ourselves that we are adding nothing to the Gospel as our hope of salvation or for the regulation of the lives of our brethren. Any of our additions would in reality be more foolish because of our enlightenment. Ignorant zeal is always capable of 'perpetrations just as foolish as any that have gone before.
One of the greatest testimonials to the purity of the inspired Word is that intolerance always has to turn, not to the Word, but to the 'rabbinical additions for its support; and if none is found ready-made, a demon-emulating desire to exclude others from the Kingdom privileges can soon produce something satisfactory out of its own ingenuity. Sadly enough, no truth is too sacred for such to make their carnal additions to, that their unholy purpose may be accomplished.
Christianity is a religion of principles rather than of prescriptions. It prefers to say, "Thou shalt," rather than "Thou shalt not. "Love, and thou fulfillest the law." It cleans the inside of the platter, with the assurance that the outside will then be; presentable. Should the outside give no evidence of the washing of the water of the Word, the assumption then is safe that that water has not been freely enough applied to the "inner man." Pray with all earnestness "That He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might by His spirit in the inner man" (Eph. 3:17) and the indwelling Christ will lift us above the precepts of men, yea will assist to a rooting and grounding not just in the doctrine, though it reveals Him, but also in the "love" which He is. Any standard lower than this must result as pomegranates fastened on the thorns of a brier bush, soon to fade and lose their beauty. As physical decomposition is the lot of all we touch or taste or handle, so will "perish with the using" every modern so-called improvement in the "Way" a loving Father has provided for our safe journey to the heavenly courts.
There were "touch not, taste not, handle not" rules in the Law given through Moses, and while Paul has already pointed out that the Christian is not to look to these for his salvation, it is not with these that he is dealing in this discussion, but restrictions which are "after the commandments and doctrines [teachings] of men (Verse 22; Isa. 29:13), additions which men even up to our, day dare to make to the inspired Word, instilling fear instead of confidence. The things which are after the commandment of God, instead of perishing with the using, increase with use, a treasure which faileth not, kept in bags which grow not old. The Scribes and Pharisees of an earlier era failed of attaining His riches because of hypocrisy, for though honoring Him with their mouth they were "teaching for doctrines the precepts of men." - Matt. 15:7-9.
"I BROW-BEAT MY BODY"
The Revised Versions render the twenty-third verse: "Which things have indeed a show of wisdom in will-worship, and humility, and severity to the body; but are not of any value against the indulgence of the flesh." It was after Paul had left behind the man-made "highway of holiness and had entered upon the God-given "narrow way to life," that he learned effectively to "keep under" his "body and bring it into subjection." - Diaglott: "brow-beat"; Thayer: "beat black and blue."
Note that a religious life may have a great "show of wisdom" and yet be valueless. Paul noted three points on which the false religion of his day appealed to the eye: (1) It claimed to be the worship of a free will, voluntary service-or does he mean that it consisted in self-imposed tasks-a burning of incense to themselves? Then (2) these teachers, commentators presume, boasted that' their devotions were the outcome of great humility on their part, a humility so great that they must look to angel mediators for -their contacts with God. To have taken God at His Word would have shown real humility. (3) The strongest, claim for wisdom in their "systematic' theology," however, was the severities it placed on the body, an asceticism in reality much more to men's liking than the abandoning of self. By making themselves uncomfortable, thousands in both heathen and civilized lands have thought that they were making themselves' more acceptable to God. It is hardly possible that a fallacy so widely prevalent, both among heathen and Christian devotees, is not traceable to one source-the Father of lies. For the Christian it has surely been an inexcusable travesty of the Master's injunction to "deny" ourselves and take up our cross and follow Him.
There are some things in which the heart judges better than the head. A mere "show of wisdom" does too frequently deceive the latter. Safety is assured for the one who walks the Narrow Way, if to a heart set on righteousness there is added the protection of a head unreservedly given over to the guidance of the One who alone can be trusted to make no errors of judgment. This is safety, not merely for the brief space of this life, but it works a transformation into Christ's likeness that gives assurance of being and working with Him for eternity. Let us learn well the lessons that death with Him has to teach, in order that there may be a life devoted to Him and His righteousness, the influence of which will bear a fruitage in the "home missionary field" far beyond anything that money could finance. Let our motto be, "Where He leads me, I will follow," and others will take note of us that "we have been with Jesus and learned of Him." There is no mistaking one who is enrolled in that school. However far he be from graduation, the robe of that school unmistakably identifies him as of it. But this figure is much too feeble for the purpose of expressing the closeness of the relation we are privileged to sustain with Him, yes, in Him. To live with Him is intimacy; to be dead with Him, this is ultimate oneness with Him. This is deliverance from every deception of Satan, participation in every blessing of Christ.
- P. E. Thomson.