VOL. XXVI MAY 1943 NO. 5
"The fruit of the spirit is
love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness,
DURING THE closing days of our Lord's earthly life He gave His disciples assurance that after His departure they would not be left desolate. "I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, . . . the spirit of truth, which . . . abides with you, and will be in you." - John 14:16, 17, Diaglott.
This gracious promise was confirmed to them during the forty days in which He was seen of them after His passion. "John, indeed, immersed in water, but you will be immersed in Holy Spirit, after a few days. - Acts 1:5, Diaglott.
For the fulfillment of this promise they were to "wait" at Jerusalem. "Behold, I send the promise of My Father upon you; but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high. (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4,8.) They had not long to wait. When ten days had passed-as soon as "the day of Pentecost had fully come," the promise of the Father was fulfilled. - Acts 2:1.
ISRAEL'S SEVEN FEASTS
The Feast of Pentecost was one of the seven "feasts" or "appointed seasons"-, or. "holy convocations" of Israel, all of which occurred in the first seven months of their ecclesiastical year. (Lev. 23:4, margin.) First came the Feast of Passover, on Nisan 14. Next came the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which lasted seven days. On the second day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, Nisan 16, the Feast of Omer, or presentation to Jehovah of the Sheaf of First-fruits, took place. Fifty days thereafter came Pentecost, the very word "pentecost" meaning fifty. The remaining three festivals were all appointed for the seventh month, and were, respectively, those of Trumpets, Atonement, and Tabernacles.
WAITING FOR THE PROMISE
Elsewhere* we have considered in some detail the typical significance of. Pentecost. Here we content ourselves with observing that Pentecost had long pointed to the time when, in the Father's great plan of redemption, the offering of the Church as "a kind of first-fruits of His creatures" would be made and God's acceptance thereof manifested. (James 1:18; Rev. 14:4.)
* "Herald" May 1937, pages 67-70.
And now that time had come, and to these early followers of the Master was to be given the privilege of representing the whole Church in its anointing experience. The antitypical Passover Lamb (Christ Jesus) had been sacrificed; the true Feast of Unleavened Bread could now be kept. Already Christ Jesus, as prefigured in the Omer Sheaf, had been "raised from the dead and become the first-fruits of them that slept." (1 Cor. 15:20.) They had conversed with Him during the space of forty days following His resurrection and had watched Him ascend to heaven. (Acts 1:3, 9.) What yet remained ere they, too, though in lesser measure, would be endued with that, "power from on high" which had possessed Him so completely and had operated in Him so mightily? What must have been their thoughts and emotions, as in obedience to His word they had waited at Jerusalem? This we can only surmise. Their days and evenings, we know, had been passed in "the" upper room in which they had last communed with Him. (Acts 1:13.) Certain it is that such a company of sincere-hearted ones, meeting together thus, with "one accord," could not but have been blessed. (Acts 2:1.) By prayer and supplication with thanksgiving they had sought to prepare themselves to receive the "promise." (Acts 1:14.) First, perhaps, they would earnestly plead for its fulfillment. Next, perhaps, they would recall some of the Master's teachings, the grace of His countenance, His habit of thanks at meal-times. Doubtless there would come at times a keen sense of shame and regret at some of their own past conduct. Following quickly upon this mood would come the happy memory of His grace in forgiving, and they would be relieved of their compunctions. Then, perhaps, would follow a sense of feebleness, of utter helplessness without the Lord-as sheep, indeed, without a Shepherd. (Zech. 13:7.) As day after day followed without event or sign, perhaps they would give way to a sense of disappointment at God's delay; possibly, (since they were men and women of like passions and frailties with us) to a feeling of doubt that the promise would ever be fulfilled. Shame at their doubt and disappointment would follow, and then a willingness to wait God's own time and to accept God's own way. Perhaps, as God's time drew near, there may have arisen in the hearts of some of them the thought: "The Feast of Pentecost draws near; can it be that the Father will fulfill His promise then?
THE SPIRIT DISPENSATION
The day came at last; they were as earthen vessels cleansed by prayer, emptied and waiting for the outpouring of the Spirit, when "suddenly" it came. just as at His baptism the Holy Spirit descended upon the Lord Jesus, so now it descended upon all them that were His, and they were all filled with it. - Acts 2:1-4.
In the case of our Lord the descent of the Spirit upon Him was manifested by an outward sign. To the Baptist it seemed "like a dove" (note: not a dove, but the appearance of one). (John 1:32-34.) So also, at Pentecost, the outpouring of the Spirit on the waiting Church was accompanied by outward manifestations. A sound like a rushing mighty wind filled the place where they were sitting (note: not a wind, but a sound like wind). Tongues, not of fire. but "like as of fire" sat upon them. Evidently these manifestations, as also the "gift of tongues" (which seems to have been bestowed on the whole company) were for signs. The appearance of a dove on the occasion of our Lord's baptism gave the Baptist the confirmation be needed in identifying and heralding Jesus as the long-promised Messiah. The "sound," the "tongues of fire," and the gift of "speaking with tongues," likewise served to call the attention of all to the great change of dispensation then being inaugurated. Doubtless, too, when at the close of the seventy weeks of Jewish special favor (three and a half years after Pentecost) the Holy Spirit was poured out on Cornelius and his associates, some similar gift was granted them as a sign, an evidence, that Gentiles, too, were now to be privileged to share in the high calling of God extended to consecrated believers of every nation during this Gospel Age. - Dan. 9:25-27; Acts 10:45-48; 11:15-17; 15:8, 9.
How eminently suitable these signs were for the purposes intended! The dove, the emblem of peace and purity, fitly represented the fullness of Jehovah's spirit of love in Jesus; as the tongues of fire, fitly represented the mission of the Apostles to be, under the Holy Spirit, that of testifying as "witnesses."
Nor was the "gift of tongues" without its special meaning. It may well be understood as a sign, we think, that the confusions of Babel are to be reduced to order; that the separations induced by the various languages of men are to be healed, as gradually men are drawn, some in the Gospel Age and others in the Millennial Age, into the Kingdom and fellowship of Christ. On the plain of Shinar, thinking to raise themselves above the reach of divine judgment, to build a tower which no flood could drown, men had been smitten with a divine judgment; their one language was - broken into many dialects; they were divided and scattered over the whole earth. This curse is to be conquered by the powerful influence of the Holy Spirit poured out at Pentecost, which Spirit is yet to be poured out on all flesh. In the perfection of the Kingdom none is to be unintelligible to his brother, or separated from him; the whole earth- is to be of one mind and heart. - Zeph. 3:9; Joel 2:28; Acts 2:16.
"They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues" "the wonderful works of God." (Acts 2:11.) Ah! gracious omen! when will it be wholly fulfilled? For let us not forget that just as the Omer presented on the morrow after the Passover, setting forth' Christ Jesus as "the first-fruits of them that slept" was a pledge and earnest of the two loaves presented on Pentecost, which prefigured the Church in its elective character as the first-fruits from among men, so also the second first-fruits are themselves a prophecy and a pledge of the fuller harvest yet to be gathered in the coming Age, of which, in the Scriptures, all God's holy Prophets have spoken since the world began. - Acts 3:19.
Thank God, though this glorious vision tarry, it will come; it will not fail of fulfillment. (Hab. 2:3.) True -- we must "wait out" this promise of the Father; but we may wait in the strength and patience of hope. For, just as that little company in Jerusalem chanted in many tongues the wonderful works of God, so in the end, the whole world, with its myriad tongues, will, when the Spirit has been poured out on all flesh, sing and give praise for the redemption God has wrought through Christ.
THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT
Meantime, while waiting the Lord's time and way, we are not to be idle, but to occupy ourselves with those things which pertain to life and godliness. (2 Pet. 1:3.) Our chief occupation is to be the cultivation of the fruit of the Spirit. Valuable though they were, the miraculous gifts vouchsafed to the early Church were but transient. The gift of tongues, along with the rest, was destined to pass away, as St. Paul plainly indicates. (1 Cor. 13:9.) Even when bestowed, it needed to be supplemented by another gift, that of "interpretation" before it could be exercised with profit and to edification. In discussing this gift of tongues, St. Paul affirms that many could speak in a tongue who could not interpret, and declares that for himself he would rather speak five words with the understanding than ten thousand words in a tongue. Its chief importance, lie says, was as a sign, "not to them that believe but to them that believe not." The brethren were not to despise any of these miraculously bestowed gifts; on the contrary they were to esteem them. Nevertheless there was a more excellent way-expounded by St. Paul in the 13th chapter of 1st Corinthians -- the way of love.
Love (as the Apostle observes, in the text quoted at the head of this article), with its component elements, is the fruit of the Spirit. While doubtless the gift of God, its very nature precluded the possibility of its being miraculously bestowed; in every case it must be developed personally by the individual who would possess it. Moreover this gift, unlike those miraculously bestowed, is not destined to pass away. It is to abide. (John 14:16; 15:10; 1 Cor. 13:8, 13.) We may, therefore, well esteem it to be "in ore excellent" and earnestly cultivate it in our hearts and lives.
"FRUIT" NOT "FRUITS"
How shall we do this? The Apostle points the way in our text. (Gal. 5:22.) There he enumerates nine elements of the' fruit of the Spirit, namely "Love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, self-restraint."
It is to be noted that the Apostle speaks not of "fruits" (plural) but of "fruit" (singular), thus drawing our attention to the fact that the nine graces mentioned (the list is not exhaustive) are not to be separately cultivated, "love" in one Christian, "joy" in another, etc., but that all are to be developed together in the character of each consecrated follower of the Master. We may compare this passage with the Beatitudes (Matt. 5) where our Lord (in declaring the blessedness of those who are poor in spirit, they that mourn, the meek, they that do hunger and thirst after righteousness, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers) is surely not describing various persons, but one person, namely- His truly consecrated follower, from many points of view.
We may also compare the well-known passage, 2 Pet. 1:5-8, where the one who "has obtained precious faith" is exhorted to give all diligence to furnish in his faith fortitude, and in his fortitude knowledge, etc., etc., and thus to develop, not a one-sided, but a well-balanced Christian character.
This passage from St. Peter, moreover, should caution us against a disproportionate inference from the imagery of "fruit" suggested by St. Paul in Gal. 5:22 and by our Lord in the parable of the Vine. (John 15.) The ideas suggested by "fruit" and "fruit-bearing" are not those of effort and care in the fruit-bearing branches; effort and care are the cultivator's part. But St. Peter's exhortation reminds us that the analogy between the impersonal fruit-tree and the personal believer cannot be in all respects complete. In the conscious and responsible man there is a place for "all diligence." As Brother Russell, commenting on 1 Pet. 1: 14, 15 has well observed: "Some Christians have the erroneous idea that God does all the fashioning, and that His children are to be merely passive in His hand; but Peter does not so express it. He exhorts us to fashion ourselves according to the divine instructions. There is work to be done in us and about us, and those who are not up and doing, but who passively sit and wait for the Lord to wore: miracles on their behalf, are greatly deceived and are giving the enemy great advantage over them, which he will certainly use to bind them hand and foot and cast them into outer darkness, unless they bestir themselves to work out their own salvation with fear and trembling." - Manna, March 19.
But when this is said, by way of balance and clearness, then without reserve we may give our thankful attention; to the blessed suggestions and significance of the word "fruit." What does it tell us? It tells us, the branches of the true, Vine, that in us, but not of us, there is a mighty, fructifying principle. It tells us that the Christian character is not something to be worked up by weary efforts out of the material of self. Rather it is the result of growth. It is not something to be manufactured. Nor is it to be acquired from our surroundings; it is produced in the midst of them, not because of them, but often in spite of them. To quote again from our late Pastor: "As members of the fallen race we were incapable of, doing any work which our holy God could accept. Our present standing, therefore, as New Creatures, is not the result of anything that the old creature did, or could have done. It is not of ourselves; it is the gift of God. This lesson must be thoroughly appreciated, else we will be continually in danger of falling.
So far from considering the New Creature as an evolution of the old creature, the Apostle would have us understand distinctly that it is a new and separate creation. We were created in Christ Jesus, God's workmanship -- prepared for good works, but not by good works." - Manna, March 29.
"Contrast," says our. Lord, "the glory of Solomon with that of the lily of the field." Why was it that I Solomon's glory could not be compared with but only contrasted with that .,Of .the lily? Because the lily grew, and all the colors of the lily came from, within, while all the glorious raiment worn by Solomon was a glory not his own, put on him front without.
Let the anxious, the discouraged, Christian, ponder this word "fruit" recollecting this, its special significance. Let him be at rest concerning the adequacy of the mighty power working within, him to will and to do God's good pleasure-and to complete the; good work begun in him. (Phil. 1:6.) Let- him in humble faith "lay aside" all known hindrances; and then, in the same humble faith, watching and praying, yield himself unto God, that he may have his "fruit unto holiness," "fruit unto God." - Rom. 6:13; 6:23; 7:14.
THE THREE TRIADS
Commentators, generally, have suggested, that the nine elements of fruit mentioned in St. Paul's inspired analysis may be taken in three triads, or sets of three, corresponding to three sides of the much diversified Christian experience. The first three, Love, Joy, and Peace find their sphere of operation in the inner life of fellowship with God, which is known only to God and to the individual Christian's own consciousness; Long-suffering, Gentleness, and Goodness describe the Christian's character in his relationship with men; Faithfulness, Meekness, and Self-control manifest themselves in the personal character, which interprets itself in words and deeds, yes, even in face and manner. In those who possess it, and (if we may use the expression) are themselves possessed of it, the spirit of Christ bears fruit in every region of human life.
The essence, then, of the life and character of one producing the fruit of the spirit is Love, joy, and Peace. These cannot be called duties; they should not be thought of as virtues, even; they are simply the result of communion or fellowship with God -- the fruit of the spirit. The love of God has been shed abroad in the Christian's heart by the Holy Spirit. (Rom. 5:5.) The exalted Head of the Church was anointed with the oil of gladness and this anointing flows down upon the members of the Body as righteousness, peace, and joy, in the Holy Spirit. (Rom. 14:17.) These three elements of the fruit are in the private, inner life which God alone beholds. Nevertheless when Love and Joy and Peace are within, they cannot but find outward expression, and make their possessor loving, joyful, and peaceful loving towards God, the brethren and all men; joyful with a calm but contagious and beneficent happiness; peaceful, with a sense of rest which cannot but diffuse itself in the direction of those with whom he comes in touch.
Again, in his relationships with the brethren and with all men, the fruit-bearing Christian is seen to be Long-suffering, Gentle and Good. "Long-suffering," it has been observed, "is the capacity to present the same calm surface today, tomorrow, and the day after tomorrow, in spite of anything and everything." It is long temper, as contrasted with short temper; the ability to "bear all things." (I Cor. 13:7.) "Gentleness" is to touch others lightly, and then only with a healing touch; to manifest a disposition at all times to be tender in one's treatment of others -- tender even in one's just reproofs. "Goodness" in this connection, is to be good to others to pronounce benediction upon them; to be benevolent to them, to see that they benefit from their association with us.
Finally, the true Christian character, as it develops, results in a practical, alert, circumspect outward life. Bright with a secret happiness, long-suffering with an infinite forbearance, the fruit of the spirit will be seen in Faithfulness,* Meekness, and Self-control. The truly spiritual man will be faithful in every duty, loyal to every promise. He will be dependable in business. His friends will receive faithful and careful counsel. His employers will get a service out of him in which their just interests will be as his own. His employees will find him watchfully equitable, considerate, courteous. He will take great care to owe no one anything. The local ecclesia will be well and truly served by him, be it ever so large, or small, or unresponsive. He will be known to be one who will take trouble for others, and who is glad to be their servant indeed for Christ's sake. He will be meek, avoiding a manner and habit of self assertion among his brethren in matters of opinion or of work. And with and over it all he will be self-controlled. He will, for the glory of the Master, his Master, and that he may be truly serviceable in his ministry to others, watch and pray over his own acts and habits; over bed, and board, and literature, and companionship, and recreation, and imagination, and tongue-over thought, word, and deed.
* That the Revised Version "faithfulness" rather than "faith" is to be Preferred here is clear, we think, from the context, where relative duties rather than faith in its theological sense are plainly in evidence. Compare also Titus 2:10.
Will he progress thus, to perfection? No -- not in this life. Indeed, as though to caution against such a thought the Apostle immediately presents the case of a brother overtaken in a fault, urging all, as they seek to restore the erring one, to do so in the spirit of meekness, lest they also should be tempted. (Gal. 6:1.) No perfection in this life is not present to the Apostle's mind, here or elsewhere, for them or himself. In Phil. 3:13, he emphatically declares: "I count not myself to have apprehended."
"THIS ONE THING I DO"
But he did not stop with that confession. His further words show that he had an objective which reached beyond the present life. "This one thing I do, forgetting the things which are behind, and stretching forward to the things which are before, I press on toward the goal unto the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus." - Phil. 3:13, 14.
Let us follow him as he followed Christ. As the Apostle Peter declares: "If ye do these things ye shall never fall." "The contingency is not in the doing of these things perfectly and regardless of the righteousness of Christ to cover our transgressions and compensate for our daily shortcomings; but if, added to our faith in the imputed righteousness of Christ, we have cultivated all these graces to the extent of our ability, we shall not fall. When we have done all that we can do, we are still unprofitable servants, not daring to trust in our own righteousness but in the ample robe which is ours by faith in Christ, while, with consistent 'diligence,' we work out our own salvation with fear and trembling, knowing that the righteousness of Christ is only applied to such as desire to forsake sin and pursue that 'holiness without which no man shall see the Lord.'" -Manna, Nov. 20.
- P. L. Read..
PART I - THE ISSUE STATED
"According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life or by death". - Phil 1:20
WE HAVE taken as the basis of our meditation four short words from Paul's inspiring letter to his Philippian brethren. Four short words-but, oh, how much of the sanctified experience and serious obligation both to God and to Paul's brethren were covered by them!
The first two tell a stirring story of many years' unwavering devotion to the Master, in season and out of season; the other two bespeak a resolute determination, for present and future days, to continue steadfastly in the same loving, self-sacrificing devotion, come what may. Taken as they stand in the text they show that our beloved Brother Paul had reached a critical stage of his career, in that his appeal to the judicial Court of Caesar was about to be heard.' This was the highest tribunal in the Roman world, and its competence carried, even in the case of a free-born Roman citizen, the power of life and death. To it came appeals from all over the Empire, and as Judea at this time was incorporated in the Empire, Paul had exercised his right, not only as a Jew but as a freeborn Roman citizen to carry his appeal to it.
While awaiting this hearing, with its subsequent decree, the Apostle had reviewed the situation, not only with regard to his free-born citizenship, but also with regard to his Heavenly Master, and the fellow-members of the heavenly citizenship. Meanwhile he had heard that some of his Philippian brethren had become somewhat concerned about his imprisonment and the general effect of that imprisonment upon the work of spreading the Gospel. Accordingly, we find him writing to reassure these brethren that his affairs were working out to great advantage to the Gospel, and that his loss of liberty did not indicate any lessening of the divine watch care. In fact, the story of God's Love, and of Jesus' sacrifice had found its way by reason of his bonds, among the chosen body-guard of Caesar himself; and some of the soldiers, along with others whom he calls "Caesar's household" (Phil. 4:22) had not only believed the Gospel, but, through Paul, were even sending greetings to the Philippian brethren. They might not understand the ways of Divine Providence, but Paul would have them to be assured that God was working all these things out according to His wise counsel. God intended a testimony to be borne before Caesar, concerning His claims upon the allegiance of men, and the only way to get his messenger into the presence of Caesar, and, his advisers, was to send the messenger there in chains-as an appellant in the court of law. Thus in his appeal, and in his defense against those who charged him with disturbing the peace of the Empire, he would be presented with an opportunity to tell Caesar about the universal claims of his Lord and Master.
Thus the course of events had fallen out, not the hindrance, but to the furtherance of the Gospel, and had won adherents in the very presence of the Imperial Ruler himself. The situation was so far developed that Paul had already thought out to considerable extent what the decision of this court would mean to him. Would the decision be guilty or not guilty? Would the decree bring death or acquittal. Evidently Paul had been meditating deeply on these matters, and weighing the probabilities of the verdict one against the other. How would he comport himself if the decision went against him, and he was led out to die? Or on the other hand, would he b more reserved and discreet in future days, and not run up against the antipathy of his kinsmen by his intensive service, if he were set free? Would he leave Rom for some quiet retreat, and retire from his active evangelistic life? To live, or 'to die!-that was the major issue. Which would he prefer? Would he be thankful to pass out of the turmoil and the strife, and fin( rest, "where the wicked cease from troubling, and the weary are at rest"? Or was life so sweet a boon that, with all its conflicts, he would choose rather to live than die? For himself this was a difficult choice So far as his own interests were concerned, one thins held no advantage over the other. In this deep contemplation, the deeply fixed and crystallized characteristics of his heart enabled him to look upon either verdict with personal indifference.
There was one thing, however, which he did desire with all his heart and soul-a third factor in the situation, which was the great solution to all his difficulties. That factor was the "loosing again" of his Lord and Master from that place where He sat at God's right hand in heaven. That was the only solution that appealed to Paul, for the "loosing again" of His Lord would not only bring the long promised blessings of restitution, and the establishment of God's Kingdom on earth to displace these earthly kingdoms, but it would also bring Paul's own "loosing again" from his last deep sleep, and thereafter he would be forever with his Lord; and that indeed would be "far better." But that happy consummation lay in the hands of God. That would come in due time. That was the distant, not the immediate solution of the problem; and it was the immediate one that now required attention. How would he meet it? While disregarding the consequences, his fervent hope during the trial was "that in nothing shall I be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life or by death."
It was no new thing in his life to be hailed before one or other court to be tried for his conduct. At least a half dozen times he had faced a Jewish tribunal, and five times they had visited punishment upon him with the utmost rigor of the law. Several times he had faced the judges of the Roman lower courts, and thrice had they beaten him with rods. In these cases it is probable there was no power legally to inflict death on a Roman citizen, but here in Rome, the power of life and death lay within the authority of the Court, over all, Roman or alien alike. During all these previous cases Paul had evidently brought no discredit to the name or cause of his Master, and this was his fervent hope and prayer now. He did not want his words or conduct to bring dishonor to the Lord, nor even shame upon his own head. Though he was Jesus Christ's special ambassador to the Gentiles, he still had the sensitive weaknesses common to flesh and blood, and in the presence of Roman splendor and Imperial majesty he might so far forget himself as to do or say something unworthy of his Apostolic calling.
The gilded trappings of this supreme court with its every functionary reminiscent of the greatest Empire of its day, might so overawe him, as to make him forget the great opportunity presented to him, and thus overlook the special reason why he had been sent there. Then, further, the presence of his enemies-those relentless foes, who had driven hint so many times from city to, city, to testify against him, probably with suborned witnesses too, might raise so much righteous indignation in his breast, that he might fail to keep full control of his own words and demeanor, and, in an unguarded moment cause him to make shipwreck of his cause. This, more than anything else was what he dreaded, and evidently gave him sonic concern. Pondering thus on the possibilities of the situation, we do not wonder that lie solicited the prayers of the Philippian brethren to supplement his own that he might be able to face the issue "with all boldness," deterred neither by the pomp and glitter of Rome, nor the malignant hatred of his enemies.
Thus far throughout his eventful ministry lie had succeeded in carrying the name of Jesus into all the inferior courts, without dishonor; and in -addition lie had taken the punishments administered without flinching or cringing before lash or rod, even thanking God as in the jail at Philippi for the privilege of being counted worthy to suffer for the name of Jesus. Would he be able to do this again in this loftier setting? Would lie be able to set forth the excellence of his beloved Lord, in the presence of the supreme earthly majesty? Could he "magnify" (or "make large") his adorable Master in a court where his judge was the vilest of men? In the conflicting claims of Christ and Caesar, could he set forth his allegiance to Christ, without affronting Imperial Caesar? One indiscreet word, or one gesture of disloyalty to the claims of Rome, then, notwithstanding the righteousness of his cause, the verdict would be given against him. It would require Divine Grace and Wisdom to enable him to conduct himself in such manner that the Divine intention should not be frustrated, for God had sent him there, not as a criminal but as an ambassador. It was not merely a defense which he had to make, but to bear Jesus' name before kings, and other great ones among the Gentiles. And this was the supreme testimony of his life, in the highest court of the whole wide world, before the imperial representative of that authority into whose hands God had given the supremacy inherent in the Times of the Gentiles.
This trial of a diminutive, insignificant little Jewish-born evangelist was not merely the trial off a man whose missionary efforts had stirred some, of the Roman Empire's placid backwaters. Nor was it merely the official hearing of an exclusive Jewish quarrel, arising out of their peculiar religion regarding the claims whether a teacher hailing from Nazareth was or was not the long promised Messiah. It was far more important and vital than that. It was the continuation of that scene in Pilate's Judgment Hall, when that same Nazarene Teacher had stood face to face with the local representative of Roman majesty, and had told him that the source of all ultimate power was to be found "above," and that neither the Roman Emperor, Senate, nor people could have am, power over God's representative, except it were given them "from above." Pilate, too, heard the claim admitted that Jesus was indeed a king, and that he had come into the world for that specific purpose, though not to reign therein during Rome's tenure of power --"My kingdom is not of this world," said Jesus; not of this "kosmos," or world-order; but He affirmed His kingship nevertheless. But another purpose of His coming to earth must first be accomplished before He took up His Power. He must die in order to -redeem His prospective subjects. And then He must appear in heaven for them, as their intercessor before God. While He was tarrying in heaven at God's right hand, waiting till His enemies were made His footstool, this message of His kingship would be carried through the earth by His devoted followers, testifying to all ranks and conditions of men everywhere the story of their redemption and of Jesus' future reign.
To carry this testimony into the highest circles of the whole earth, the King of Glory, whose presence was required in the Heavenly Courts, chose this little intrepid evangelist to appear for Him in this supreme earthly Court, and there, while apparently pleading for his life and liberty, set forth the same claim made in Pilate's Judgment Hall at Jerusalem. Nero had no power over Paul's life or person, only so far as God was pleased to permit. The issue of life or death was really in God's hands, but that was only a minor matter in the situation. The great factor was the confronting of the heedless imperial power with the claims of a loftier King, who, in the terrain occupied by the earthly potentate, requested and accepted the allegiance of such of Rome's subjects as could hear and obey the heavenly call.
Paul stood there in Jesus' stead; as His "alter ego"; not merely as His representative, but as His own very self, there to state His claim over such as accepted His redemptive Grace. Imperial Rome claimed men whole-the heart as well as the hand-their worship as well as their work. Paul stood there to claim for Jesus the deeper allegiance of all those men who loved righteousness and truth, who lived in a loftier realm than the Roman "civitas" or citizenship. In this scene in Rome it was the claim of conscience, instructed by knowledge and sanctified by the Spirit, against the claim of either imperial tyrant, or corporative State, to be free and unfettered to obey and serve the Higher Power, which was the issue. One of the wickedest men of all time sat on the bench-one of the best stood at the bar, and for the time being God permitted the advantage to the wicked one. But the issue was greater than the men, in either case; for both were representatives of different world-rulers -- Nero, of Satan, as Paul was of Jesus. And as this is Satan's day, so also it was Nero's. For this great ordeal Jesus had been preparing Paul for more than twenty years, developing in him those principles and characteristics which would not only give him courage, but help him to choose and speak aright. And to this end, an overruling Providence had shaped Paul's career through the fortifying experiences of the lower courts till now he stood for trial at the heart of "this present evil world"; nay rather, let us see it as though Heaven, through Paul, served His "writ" to all earthly power, to stand before a higher Court, and answer for its use of power.
Many times this scene has repeated itself-Luther, at the diet of Worms; Calvin, before the burghers of Geneva; John Knox before Mary Queen of Scots-are vivid instances thereof. But many thousands of lesser servants of Christ have stood and made the same claim in a smaller localized sphere, and though the servants of Christ have fallen in death, yet, their 'cause," or rather "His cause" has triumphed, and will triumph more gloriously yet, as the "tenure" and "holding" of the Gentile powers is more completely broken.
Paul's supreme indifference to the perils of death was but the repetition of the attitude of his Lord and Master; and praise God, in the records of God's "Book of Life" it is counted in with the Master's as a "filling-up" portion of the sufferings of Christ. Let all followers of the Lamb, who suffer with Him in their little spheres, take courage, and thank God for counting them worthy to suffer for righteousness and truth.
Like Paul we need to learn to say in, every crisis -- "As always, so now."
"As for me, I will behold Thy
face in righteousness: I shall be satisfied,
THE GOSPEL of God's grace has been given us to the end that we may know the greatness of our calling to glory, honor, and immortality, and through obedience to the will of God find ourselves at last glorified together with His beloved Son. This great end, the Scriptures make clear, is the one paramount purpose of our present place in the Plan of God. If, therefore, we are to eventually enjoy the inheritance of the saints in light, our attitude of mind through probation days can never be otherwise than that suggested in our text. Nothing short of His perfect likeness can ever mean complete satisfaction.
The way to this inherent immortal life is made narrow indeed, with the standards of faith and practice consistently high. Yet it is not forgotten that the One calling us to this high estate is "the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort," ever willing and "able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us." (2 Cor. 1:3; Eph. 3:20.) We may feel weak and fearful before such high attainments as are required of true saints, but manifold are the assurances of God's understanding pity, enduring love and patience. Again and again we are given encouragement by the fact that He looks on the deeper aims and desires of the heart, and in loving-kindness reads a love and longing there often unseen by other eyes. We are taught to look beyond our own feebleness and remember that He is "able to save to the uttermost" all whom He has called into this fellowship with Jesus Christ. Above all, it is God's own arrangement by which we are made complete in the righteousness of Christ; therefore He continues His workmanship in us until we are conformed to a full likeness to Him in character.
When this message of grace is received into an honest and grateful heart, its first and continuous operation must be a cleansing of the mind by its sanctifying power. "Every man that hath this hope in Him purifieth himself, even as He is pure." (1 John 3:3.) Such a hope or ideal becomes a force by which all the higher faculties and impulses of the mind and heart are focused in the direction of a complete conformity to the character of the One in whom we hope. In this we follow no cunningly devised fable, for the Day Star has arisen in our hearts, and we follow on in an assured confidence. The possibility becomes inspirational. He by whom we are called will give all needed strength to reach the goal of our aspirations. This is a consummation toward which we may look with happy anticipation, even while we struggle on through fluctuating defeats and victories. Before us is that grand triumphal climax so invigorating in its meaning to us: "So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in in corruption: It is sewn in dishonor; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power: It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. . . . And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly. . . So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be 'brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. . . Thanks be to God which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, inasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in. vain in the Lord." - 1 Cor. 15:42-44, 49, 54, 57, 58.
Thus does the Lord encourage His people to cultivate high purposes. He opens the eyes of the heart to see these objectives as personal possibilities. He gives faith to look forward to an assured goal, and in that faith we may pray in confident expectation:' "Let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us." (Psa. 90:17.) Such prayer cannot be in vain, for it is to this end our God, "who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ." (2 Cor. 4:6.) Of this glory, though we have not seen it in the same way as the Apostle, yet may we not say with him, "The Word was made flesh,, and dwelt among us (and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only Begotten of the Father) full of grace and truth. . . . And of His fulness have all we received, and grace for grace." - John 1:14, 16.
This objective has been declared by the Apostle Paul as the one great purpose in his life. He summed it all up in his familiar statement: "Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but refuse, that I may win Christ. . . That I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection." (Phil. 3:8-10.) That same purpose in life Paul endeavored to have fixed in the minds of his brethren everywhere he labored. He desired that all might thus grow up into Christ, "know the love of Christ which passeth knowledge," and by the effectual working of that love, experience more and more of "all the fulness of God." - Eph. 3:19.
How deep, how far-reaching is the knowledge and love of Christ-love divine, all love excelling! In these there are depths and heights, lengths and breadths, extending far beyond the limits of our finite minds, beyond any mode of measurement we can employ. Yet it is such knowledge and love we have set before us as the ideal and goal of our hope. In its sweep, our knowledge of the love of Christ Jesus comprehends His pre-human glory, which He so willingly laid aside to become the Redeemer of fallen humanity. It takes in the great sacrifice of the cross of Calvary, that altar on which He poured out His soul unto death that light and life might come to men. It calls to mind how in the days of His flesh, His sympathy was shown by loving contacts with fallen humanity and their suffering. We see Him weeping with those who wept, and speaking words of healing balm to the afflicted and broken-hearted. Of Him it could be said, "As many as touched Him were made perfectly whole."
"AS A MAN THINKETH IN HIS HEART SO IS HE"
What then are we to understand by John's statement, "And of His fullness have all we received"? Rotherham, which reads: "Because out of His fullness we all received," seems to make it clearer than the Authorized Version. The thought is that in Christ we have an inexhaustible source of supply, and out of that fulness we may continue to receive unceasingly, favor upon favor. Is this not what Jesus meant us to understand from His great promise: "Whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life." (John 4:14.) In practical operation it is what Paul meant in saying, "Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body." - 2 Cor. 4:10.
To approximate these things in experience must be our fixed aim in life. Thank God they are firmly settled in our hearts, and as we think and hope in our hearts, so we are in the sight of our heavenly Father. Meditating on such attainments as this life of Christ being made manifest in us, is surely to find faith and hope quickened into lively activities. A first reaction may well be a feeling of humiliating failure to have come anywhere near the ideal we cherish. However self confident we may feel at times as to our progress in likeness to Christ, there are sure to be times when we seem ready to say to Him, even as Peter did on one occasion, "Depart from me for I am a sinful man." Yet herein is but another evidence that we are being permitted to see a perfection we fain would possess as our own. That perfection may at first seem to shatter hope, but it is nevertheless made so attractive and desirable that despite all inherent imperfections, we still cling to the hope that we shall yet awake in His likeness. Better a thousand times to discover and confess our weaknesses and weep bitterly over them, than to let a deceptive heart condone any deficiency of the Savior's spirit. Better far to see a holiness before which we are constrained to exclaim with Isaiah, "I am undone, undone, for I am a man of unclean lips," than to boast presumptuously in virtues or works of our own, for, "God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace to the humble." - Isa. 6:5; 57:15; - James 4:6.
The ideals we hold mean much with regard to our standing before God. Were this not so, how very impractical, yes, discouraging some statements of Scripture would be. Jesus sets before us as the criterion of conduct the perfections of our heavenly Father. Paul, as we have seen, urges us to seek "all the fullness of God" as an objective in experience, yet both of these standards are far beyond our present reach. Both are prophetic, however, of ultimate fulfillments, and their very presence in the Bible should mean the greatest of encouragement to us. He who works in us to yearn for these things, we are told, also works in us to do His good pleasure. When, therefore, these ideals are ours, we may say with the Apostle, "I count not myself to have apprehended; but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus." (Phil. 3:13, 14.) We are humbled by the realization of innate frailty, yet our trust is firmly rooted in the promise of One who is "able to save to the uttermost" all who put their trust in His loving grace and unfailing power.
It has been said, "Those who in any calling accomplish the higher possibilities of that calling are those who from the first have realized that those higher possibilities exist. In all legitimate callings he who succeeds is he who has had high conceptions of success. In the Christian this is true"-so true indeed that our thoughts must be fixed on the highest things God places within our reach, and fixed there in the confidence that what is set before us lies within our reach, if we will. This is the principle on which our inner heart-thoughts, fixed on attaining the likeness of Christ, finally crystallize into the full possession of that character. The Light of Life shining into our hearts can in time reproduce that likeness, as we "receive and reflect" the life of Christ. Eventually we will be all we have wanted to be in likeness to Christ if we hold fast to the ideal we have in Him, and go on from day to day concentrating as did the Psalmist on attaining His beauty. Let us therefore say with David, "One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord,; and to inquire in His temple." (Psa. 27:4.) In this frame of mind, "The Lord will give grace and glory: no good thing will He withhold from them that walk uprightly." - Psa. 84:11.
WALKING AS HE WALKED AMONG MEN
For the present let us think particularly of some ideals we fain would reach in present privileges and responsibilities. To those true in heart every heaven sent privilege represents an opportunity to walk even as Jesus walked. Even though it must ever be true while handicapped with these imperfect bodies, "in all things we come short," yet the incentive to attain Christ-likeness in all things must continue the real purpose of life. We should want to say with Paul. "For me to live is Christ.'." . "I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me." (Phil. 1:21; Gal., 2:20.) The Apostle's success in this objective may well encourage us to press on to greater attainments. But beyond his example as a thing of encouragement to us, is there not a still greater appeal to seek the highest degree of likeness to Christ in the very gracious provision God has made for us in Him. From the standpoint of faith, and because our life is hid with Christ in God, we are all we fervently long to be. This was the great truth by which Bunyan was lifted out of his almost perpetual slough of despond into "grace abounding." Walking through the fields one day, burdened with a sense of personal imperfections, doubting much his standing with God, he tells how the clouds of uncertainty vanished when the statement of Paul flashed through his mind, "For He hath made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him." (2 Cor. 5:21.) Catching the meaning of that text he exclaimed in his characteristic style, "Why, my righteousness is in heaven, and God is looking at it all the time!" Truly, this is grace abounding! This, then, which is ours by faith, we yearn to know as a final personal possession, the sincerity of this desire being demonstrated now by our fervency of spirit to walk through life manifesting the life of Christ.
In realizing this goal we are painfully conscious of failing greatly, yet, "this is the victory that overcometh, even our faith." We hold firmly to the ideal, and remember that God alone can judge the degree of progress being made while "we are doing our best with our handicap of human imperfection, striving to regain the divine likeness." By the law of attraction the reflection of Christ is imparted. The story is told of a young girl in Rome, whose home was a hovel in the slums of that city, where filth prevailed. One day her wanderings brought her to one of the city squares where she saw a statue in female form, chiseled from pure white stone. This statue attracted her so much she came again and again to gaze on its whiteness. Some observing her noticed that she was making contrasts as between the whiteness of the statue and her own uncleanness, and little by little she was returning with manifest signs of a faithful effort to become like the figure she admired so much. The ideal became her inspiration. It may be but a story, but how well it illustrates the attractiveness of the purity we see in, Christ, and then desire to have as our own. The little girl grew toward her dream of whiteness, so may we in our higher aims. Let not the seeming slowness of the transformation discourage us. Only let us be concerned to know that the yearning is truly ours, then, because God works undiscouraged, we may hope to be an epistle of Christ before men, and to God, "a sweet savor of Christ. "Ye are the light of the world," Jesus tells us. This we desire to be, in the corner where we want our light to shine clear and bright, but fear so often that the light is altogether too dim. Yet the cherished ideal is there, and it can be with us as it was with Moses, Who '"wist not that his face shone" so greatly. It is not the conscious, but unconscious radiation of Christ within that really counts. The moon hangs in the heavens a dead, lightless orb, but it can reflect the light of the sun in a most marvelous way. So, though it may seem to us that our power to be a light is so small, yet Christ can be reflected in our lives notwithstanding all. That this may be more and more true will continue to be our ideal until that glad day when with Christ we shall shine forth as the sun.
MESSENGERS OF PEACE AND FRAGRANT INCENSE
Today we live in a world of perplexity, sorrow unparalleled, a time of confusion and cruelty in which "man's inhumanity to, man" seems to have about reached its utmost measure. A strife of tongues and babel of voices fills too many hearts with sadness and unrest. Then how greatly needed are messengers of peace, and bearers of the soothing balm of heartsease. None but the Lord of earth and sky may bid the raging elements "Be still, and, know that I am God." But to us the word comes, "Into whatsoever house ye enter, first say, "Peace be to this house." (Luke 10:5.) Ours is the privilege, yea, the duty of "speaking peace through Jesus Christ," who alone is our peace. What a profound depth there is in His word, "In Me ye shall have peace." But however potent the words, "Peace be to this house," they are powerless to impart peace unless the heart behind the lips is full of that peace. Indeed there are lives which seem to impart peace by mere contact-a peace, which, like the fragrance of the rose, pervades their presence. Peace is a quality of character, a manifestation of the peace of God within the heart. By and by the "Prince of peace" will flood the earth with that quietness and rest, but let us cherish the hope now of being exemplifications of His peace. Amid the many influences creating unrest let our "feet be shod with the gospel of peace," and thus the blessedness of the peacemakers will be ours now, and ours in the Kingdom of Heaven.
Many are the worthy aims we may pursue in our desire to make the most of present privileges. We may think of Abraham moving about from place to place, in each place erecting his altar of worship, then leaving that token of his presence behind as he moved on to other localities. How commendable is such an ideal for us as we move about in our various spheres of influence. Who can measure the good done by one living close to God, whose sojourn with us leaves us conscious of a lingering "fragrance of the altar." What a truly blessed life. 'to live! And is not this the life of sweet helpfulness suggested for us in Psalm 84:5, 6: "Blessed is the man whose strength is in Thee; in whose heart are the high ways to Zion. Passing through the valley of weeping they make it a place of springs." (R. V.) When "the high ways to Zion" fill the heart, surely the life will radiate "the beauties of true holiness," and create in other minds the desire to "So let the Christian graces shine, that all may know the power divine."
All the influences God brings into our lives are intended to be creative in their meaning; therefore such ideals as these cherished in the heart become the character in due time. Day by day as we behold the beauty of the Lord, the perfection of His beauty will, through grace, grow more and more manifest. Little by little the likeness we admire and long to possess will be stamped in deeper lines. Ere long, we hope, there shall be for us that joyous and unspeakable happiness, the joy of awaking in His presence and finding ourselves completed in His likeness.
- J. J. Blackburn.
"After this manner therefore pray thee." - Luke 11:1: Matt. 6:9.
THE CONNECTION between the first three petitions (considered in our last issue), and the last three (which we now propose to consider), is obvious, and may be stated thus: We have declared our own veneration of Thy Name, and our desire that it should be everywhere honored; we have petitioned for Thy Kingdom to be established on earth, and Thy will to be done on earth even as it is done in heaven, and now, in order that we may ourselves take part in the Divine work for the advancement of which we have prayed, we would ask Thee to feed us, forgive us, and guide us.
"GIVE US THIS DAY OUR DAILY BREAD"
In order to serve God it is first of all necessary that we live. Literal food for the body is certainly intended here, although this would not exclude the thought of spiritual nourishment also. But it is impossible for us to receive spiritual nourishment unless our physical necessities are supplied. Jesus and His Apostles, who did not possess a superabundance of this world's goods, knew this better perhaps than a good many theologians who have debated the matter since. No poor man will hesitate about the sense in which this petition is to be understood. While we hold no brief for that materialism which is so occupied with the body that it finds no time for the necessities of the spiritual life, we confess to an equal distrust of any teaching which attempts to be so concerned with the spirit, that it ignores, and frequently dishonors, the body, and which interprets this text, and similar Scriptures, as having exclusive reference to spiritual food. The truth in this, as in so many other matters, lies, in our judgment, between these two extremes.
There is an instructive lesson on this point in the ministry of our Lord in His post resurrection ministry. It is recorded in the last chapter of John. Seven of His disciples had gone fishing, and though they had toiled all night, they had caught nothing. They were coming to shore with empty nets, when Jesus (although they did not know that it was Jesus), hailed them: "Children" (or Sirs), "have ye any meat?" Then when they told Him "No," He said unto them: "Cast the net on the right side of the ship and ye shall find." They did so, and "were not able to draw it for the multitude of fishes." Now when they reached the shore, what else did they find? "A fire of coals, with fish thereon, and bread," and One to whom all power had been given standing beside the fire.
Can we enter into that scene? He who had colic to reveal the Father to the hearts of men; He who had given His life for their sakes; He who had been raised from the dead to immortality, who was now indeed the Lord of life; who was shortly to ascend to the Father to take His place as Executor of Almighty God in the affairs of the universe, had occupied Himself in that early morning hour with preparing breakfast for seven hungry fishermen, and now He says to them: "Come and break your fast." Ah! surely in this, as in all else, He did but continue to "show us the Father." "Your heavenly Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask Him." Yes, He knows, and cares. "Cast, therefore all your care upon Him, for He careth for you." He does indeed care whether we eat or starve. The simple necessities of our every-day life are His concern as truly as anything else that contributes to our spiritual welfare, and help us to be what He would have us be.
This petition, moreover, takes cognizance of the fact that no matter how many second causes may intervene, our Father is the ultimate Cause. It is from Him that every good and perfect gift cometh down. What a delicate adjustment of all the elements of nature is necessary in order to make food a possibility! As an old writer has truthfully remarked: "When we witness the many dangers which threaten the springing and the rising grain; when we reckon .the opposing dangers of drought and moisture, of parching heat and pinching cold, the blights which may taint, the worm which may consume, and the other alarms which the husbandman feels and fears, we cannot but perceive that something more than the industry of man is required, and that it is with good reason we are taught to ask our daily bread of God." As the poet has said:
The word translated "daily," "give us this day our daily bread," has occasioned extreme perplexity to expositors. Scholars tell us that it is a word peculiar to the New Testament, and peculiar also to the "Lord's Prayer." Origen, they tell us, who was one of the early Christian fathers, could not discover the least trace of it, either among classical writers, or in the common speech of the uneducated. The Diaglott renders it "necessary." "Give us this day our necessary food." The thought seems to be that we are not to pray, not to desire, superabundance. "Give me neither poverty nor wealth; feed me with food convenient for me." If superabundance comes, we are to be thankful for it and are to use it aright; we are to use the additional supply which comes over and above our need, - as the almoners or stewards of our heavenly Father, dispensing His blessings to others. But we are not to pray for such excess; we are to pray for what is sufficient and needful.
Our prayer, furthermore, is to be for "this" day. "Give us this day our necessary food." We are to take no anxious thought for the morrow. . The temptation with many of us is to try to grasp too much of life at a time, but our Lord in every way seeks to discourage this. Of course, in this complicated civilization of ours, we must give a certain amount of thought for the morrow. God Himself takes thought for the morrow. It is because He has done so, that there will be any tomorrow at all for us. It is because of His forethought that we have the seasons in rotation, contributing to the growth of the grain which becomes our bread. No! it is not wrong to take thought for the morrow. But the danger lies in anxious thought. And there is more than danger in it. There is physical ill health in it; for it has been scientifically demonstrated that worry kills. But far more important than that, anxious thought is itself sin. It dishonors our Father by the distrust it manifests; it hinders our own spiritual growth, mars the beauty of character we should otherwise develop, and beclouds our witness for God to others. And we are to prove ourselves in this respect, as well as in all other respects, "more than conquerors through Him that loved us." As the poet has expressed the matter:
One other thought in connection with our daily food. The Apostle Paul has expressed it: "If any will not work, neither let him eat." The clear teaching of the Apostle here is that while it remains true that our bread is supplied by the grace and as the gift of God, it is to be enjoyed only when earned. A proper extension of the Lord's Prayer, therefore, would be to ask our Father's blessing on our efforts to provide things honest and decent in the sight of all men, and that toiling, as we must, to earn our bread, we may do so in only right ways that we may keep ourselves unspotted from the world.
FORGIVE US OUR SINS
We cannot do God's work without the supply of temporal food for our physical necessities; therefore our Lord taught us to offer this last petition. But it is equally the case that we cannot do His work unless we are at peace with Him; therefore the petition which follows: "Forgive us our sins as we forgive our debtors." This petition, to be day by day prayed, supposes that he who prays this prayer will be always penetrated, to the last, by conviction of his sins. Some, who resent this doctrine, reject also this prayer, regarding it as provided not for Christians but for Jews, insisting that after Pentecost Christians could not consistently use it. But it is certainly of Christians and of no one else, that the Apostle John speaks, when he says: "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."
Our Lord was not suggesting here that His disciples should petition the Father to release them from the condemnation which came upon Adam and on them as his children because of Adam's sin. Provision for their release from that condemnation would shortly be accomplished for them by His contemplated sacrifice at Calvary, and the union with His resurrection life by the spirit begetting influence of the Father, which would follow "not many days" later. But thereafter, as new creatures in Christ Jesus, as long as they remained in the flesh, they would find themselves unable to do perfectly. Again and , again they would find themselves omitting to do certain things they should have done, and doing other things they should not have done. Such are the debts which they would incur and for which forgiveness was to be daily sought.
And how eminently proper it is that the one who would thus pray should himself be able to exercise a similar largeness of spirit towards others. For it takes the same kind of a disposition to receive forgiveness as to show forgiveness. And the two are inseparably joined together by our Lord. Indeed, in this very connection He reiterates the matter, thus: "For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will forgive you; if ye forgive men not their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses."
Elsewhere He emphasizes this same doctrine in a parable-that of the unforgiving servant. In debt to his master ten thousand talents and freely forgiven, he yet had no compassion on his fellow-servant who owed him a hundred pence, a comparatively insignificant sum. Ah! is not. this parable true to life? We fret and chafe over the wrongs and injuries done to us by others as if they were really enormous. But how fared it with this unforgiving servant? Did he not find his old debt rolled back upon hint with all its crushing weight? He did indeed. And our Lord, bringing home the lesson very forcibly to His disciples, concluded the parable with the words: "So likewise shall My heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye do not from your hearts forgive every one his brother their trespasses."
A lesson which is so plainly taught by our Lord, and emphasized by so many repetitions, must be a most important one. The duty of forgiving others is not merely one of the refinements of Christian culture, something which adds to the beauty of a Christian character, though not essential to it; rather it is a vital element in every true Christian life. We pray that we may be made like Christ, that His image may be impressed upon us; but we cannot be like Christ unless we have the spirit of forgiveness. Too many people who call themselves Christians seem to give little thought to this phase of the Christian life. They may seek to be truthful, honest, just, and upright, but they pass over the duties of love. There is a great lack of tenderness in many lives. Yet we cannot read the New Testament without finding the lesson of gentleness on every page. In the culture of our Christian life we are exhorted to put away every trace of bitterness, and to- gather into our character everything that is kindly and loving. "Let all bitterness, and wrath,- and anger, and clamor, and railing, be put away from you, with all malice; 'and be ye kind one to another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you." "Put on therefore a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, long-suffering; forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a complaint against any; even as the Lord forgave you, so also do ye." These quotations show the tone of the whole New Testament. But how close to these teachings is the Church of Christ living? Are we not all disposed to be too keenly alive to anything in others which appears to touch us unkindly? We praise love, but do we live it? We want other people to practice forgiveness, but when one has wronged us we are slow to practice it ourself.
LEAD US NOT INTO TEMPTATION
With the remembrance of past trespasses there succeeds in the mind of the Christian the realization of his weakness and the danger of further stumblings and failures. His prayer, therefore, passes naturally from the petition to be forgiven sins already committed, to a petition for guidance, and protection, so as to avoid sins in the future. "Lead us -not into temptation, but deliver us from the Evil One."
Scholars tell us that the word "to tempt" originally meant "to try, or "to test," without indicating in the least whether the purpose of the trial' was good or bad. Hence the word "attempt," which may be employed in a good or a bad sense. So also the word tentative, which is but a contraction of the world temptative, and which we know means trial, as for. example, in the case of the unforgiving servant we were noticing in a previous paragraph. He was forgiven- tentatively, provisionally, with the understanding that his own character and conduct would show some correspondence to the grace of the One who had forgiven him. In Gen. 22:1 we read that God did tempt Abraham, that is, He made a holy trial of Abraham's faith. In John 6:6 the word is translated prove: "This Jesus said to prove Philip, for He Himself knew what He would do." - This was a good trial or temptation, intended to, develop Philip's faith. In 2 Cor. 13:5 -we read: "Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith." If the word had been uniformly translated, it would read:
"Tempt yourselves, whether ye be in the faith." We thus see that the word is often used in a good sense; however its prevailing use is to denote an evil trial, trial that would ensnare, trial that is with the put pose of alluring to wrong-doing-morally insidious, seductive temptation.
Now concerning the first sort of trial, a trial that is intended to have only a good result, the Apostle James exhorts: "My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations, knowing this, that the trial of your faith worketh patience." Again, he says: "Blessed is the man that endureth temptation, for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life which the Lord hath promised to them that love Him." Surely then, we are not to suppose that Jesus is here instructing His disciples to implore their Father not to lead them into this sort of temptation.
But on the other hand, if we adopt the bad sense in which the word temptation may be taken, another difficulty arises. How could we ask God not to lead us into a trial with the malicious intent of ensnaring us into wrong doing? God Himself cannot be enticed into evil, neither in that sense does He tempt any man.
We believe the solution of this problem depends upon our settling the question as to who is the author of the temptations which this petition anticipates. And the next clause supplies the answer to that question. It is none other than our Adversary. "Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the Evil One." The one who is responsible for the temptations referred to in this petition is Satan.
Now of course our Father would not lead us, guide us, impel us, into the snares of the Adversary. On the contrary He would lead us in an opposite direction. But if one is led away by his own uncontrolled desires, our Father's usual method of waking such an one up is to withhold for a moment His guiding and protecting hand. Especially does He do this with one whose heart is lifted up in pride, one who is beginning to think more highly of himself than he ought to think. "Let him that thinketh he standeth, take heed, lest he fall." We hear rather overmuch these days of independent Bible students. It is possible that from one standpoint the word may be rightly used, but more often than not it has no right to be used. None of the readers of this journal, we trust, are independent Bible students in the wrong sense of that word. We are very much dependent on each other, are we not? And we are especially dependent on our Father. And that is the point of emphasis here. This petition is a recognition of our dependence on Him, and is equivalent to asking Him not to abandon us to our own unaided strength to the snares of the Evil One. It is as though we would petition our Father for our brethren and for ourselves: "Father, if today an occasion to sin presents itself, if the enemy of our souls seeks to ensnare any of us today, grant, Father, that any one of us open to such a snare may be found walking so close to Thee, that it will not be necessary for Thee to chastise him by abandoning him to that snare, with the certain humiliation and shame which must result to him ere he is recovered out of the snare of the Adversary. But on the contrary, deliver us, rescue us"(the term' is a military one, denoting the deliverance of a prisoner who had fallen into the hands of the enemy) "deliver us, Strong Deliverer, from the Evil One."
And His gracious word to us is that He will. As St. Peter writes: "The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations," and He will do so, and as St. Paul declares: "There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way of escape, that ye may be able to bear it."
Was it not this same spirit of dependence on His Father that enabled our Lord to overcome, that made Him more than conqueror? He had no disposition to rush heedlessly into danger zones in the spiritual warfare. No experienced soldier would ever enter lightly into another battle, least of all one who had been a hero in the strife. Instead of such a spirit of bravado He manifested the contrary spirit. We hear Him praying in the garden, praying with agonizing earnestness: "Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me." Here was no self-confidence, but if anything a sense of distrust of His own powers. But there was no distrust of His Father, for with a deep conviction that His Father's power would enable. Him, and that His Father's will was best, He adds: "Not My will but Thine be done." May His spirit be ours in ever-increasing measure.
- P. L. Read.
We are happy to advise that a new edition of Volume One of "Studies in the Scriptures" is under way, this being the fourth edition of "The Divine Plan of the Ages" published by our Institute. It is to be the same as the previous pocket-size edition, except that it will have a better and more flexible binding of dark blue cloth, stamped with gold lettering. We are promised a supply by June 1st, when we hope to be able to fill all orders. We are sorry that because of advance in the cost of paper and printing the price of the book must be a little higher than the last edition, but we are able to supply single copies at fifty cents each; in lots of ten or more, forty-five cents each, postpaid.
Never has the world been in greater need of the comforting message contained in this volume. May we all realize our privilege and responsibility of sharing in this ministry of the divine message-binding up the brokenhearted, comforting all that mourn. Gracious privilege!
IN RESPONSE to the "warm welcome extended to all who love the Lord Jesus and His Appearing," some 150 brethren assembled April 10th and 11th at the Chicago Convention, and for two days rejoiced in Christian fellowship as "the Lord commanded' the blessing." The very turmoil and strife of the suffering world from which we secluded ourselves served but to heighten by contrast the peace and calm communion in which we considered the spiritual exhortations -of the serving brethren. From the opening hymn to the final strains of "God be with you," our hearts were, warmed by the sweet pervading spirit of the Master, and we raise our hearts in gratitude to our Heavenly Father for this blessed season of fellowship.
In the hope that our blessings may in some measure be shared by the readers of this report, we give a resume of the various discourses. The convention opened with a warm welcome by the chairman, Brother B. F. Hollister, who then introduced the first speaker, Brother P. E. Thomson. The discourse subject was "Examine Yourselves," based on 2 Cor. 13:5, and we indeed examined our hearts as our dear brother kindly but searchingly turned the questioning rays of God's Word upon the motives that activate our Christian walk. Following this, Brother H. E. Hollister gave a brief but complete review of "The Message of Malachi," using Rotherham's translation, and specially emphasized its judgment message upon the ecclesiastical powers of our day. A short Praise, Prayer, and Testimony meeting conducted by Brother Moyle and warmly shared in by the friends, preceded Brother P. L. Read's discourse on the subject, "Clear Vision Brings Strength." His remarks were based on Isaiah 6, from which he drew the inspiring lesson that the Lord does always prepare His servants for a difficult task by a "clear vision" of His glory. The day's program was concluded Brother W J Siekman's remarks based on Jude's words, "Keep yourselves in the love of God." He emphasized that obedience to God's will, and obedience alone, can make us the perpetual recipients of God's favor.
Preceding the next day's session, a baptismal service was held for the one sister who witnessed her consecration of all. This but served to remind us of-the lone Figure who long ago exemplified that "thus it behooveth us to fulfill all righteousness". Brother H. E. Hollister's remarks were especially helpful as he dwelt on the meaning of this beautiful symbol.
The Morning Devotion, conducted by Brother Broeksma, was interspersed with appreciative comments on the now well-known "Chicago Convention Text" which hung before the friends: "One is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren."
Brother P. L. Read opened the discourses for the day with the subject, "Count It All Joy-How?" Very ably he re-emphasized that-our joy in our manifold trials is dependent upon our full grasp of God's work in our lives, and is further dependent upon our complete submission to His will.
The next subject was "Jewels in the Christian's Crown," in which Brother Harvey Fink, comparing natural, precious stones first to the Christian himself, and then to the various "fruits" developed in his heart and life, drew some beautiful, spiritual correspondencies which were deeply appreciated by his hearers.
The afternoon Praise, Prayer, and Testimony, led by Brother Walter Lankheim, being so profitable, passed all too swiftly, and ushered in Brother H. E. Hollister's discourse, "The Body of Moses." His remarks were based on the difficult text, Jude 9. Our brother suggested that the reference was, rather than to Moses' literal body, instead to his figurative body, i.e., the faithful Ancient Worthy Class; which thus paralleled Christ and His Body.
And as we began, so we closed with exhortation from our Brother Thomson. His were the last two discourses; the first on "Prayer," and the second on "Godliness with Contentment, Great Gain." In both, he, in a loving but firm, Scriptural exhortation, revealed the distance yet to be traveled ere we reach that measure of Christlikeness that will, make it possible for us to consider these two subjects without the inward pain that now results.
The assembled brethren were deeply appreciative of the hospitality of the local Ecclesia, and for the three meals prepared in the convention building by the faithful ministrations of those loving children of God who so often labor at conventions all too little known except to their Heavenly Father. The various special musical numbers also added -much to the spiritual blessings.
Telegrams were received from friends in Detroit and Waukesha assuring us of their Christian love and interest. These messages were gratefully received and heartily reciprocated, as were also many oral messages delivered personally by friends from other ecclesias.
All too soon the time to part did come, but ere we separated, we heard some closing remarks by the chairman, Brother J. T.. Read, whose words fell like a benediction upon the convention; and with the strains of "Till We Meet" still ringing in our ears, we bade one another Goodbye and departed with hearts full of gratitude to the Giver of every good and perfect gift.
All lovers of our Lord Jesus and friends of the truth are welcome to attend the Annual Meeting of the Institute to be held at 2 p. in. in the office of the Institute at 177 Prospect Place, Brooklyn, N. Y., Saturday, June 5, as announced in our April issue. In addition to the primary business of the election of directors, opportunity will be given- for consideration of such other matters as may properly come before the meeting.
Members of the Institute who are not receiving the "Herald" in their own names, or the name of a member of the immediate family, -but who are readers of the "Herald," should so -inform the office at once so that proxy forms may be sent them.
In addition to the present directors the following have been placed as nominees: