VOL. XXXII April 1949 No.
"Your sorrow shall be turned into joy." - John 16:20.
STUPENDOUS miracle, the basis of Christian hope! Come to the vacant sepulcher of Christ and sing for joy! Angels, spirits of purity and love, hasten to meet us here with their message sublime. Heaven and earth, angels and men, all happily together at the open tomb. Sorrow may be for a night; joy cometh in the morning. With grateful hearts, with uplifted heads, we repeat the great articles of our faith: "I believe in Jesus Christ, who was crucified, who died, and was buried; who rose again from the dead; and who is now at the right hand of God. I believe in the forgiveness of sins, in the resurrection, and the life everlasting." Our cups brimming with gladness, we exclaim with the Psalmist: "Blessed be the Lord God, the God of Israel, who only doeth wondrous things. And blessed be his glorious name for ever: and let the whole earth be filled with his glory; Amen, and Amen."
Once again we direct our thoughts particularly to the great central fact of our faith. But now not so much to dwell upon the abstruse theological philosophy of that event so important to us all, but rather to linger over some of the touching human aspects related to it. We would see more of the wondrous Resurrection -story in the light of its immediate effect upon the disciples. We would have our hearts burn as through them we experience their unspeakable joy when the awe inspiring truth was made manifest. To aid us in visualizing some of the dramatic incidents of our noble theme, we shall consider four great paintings through which masters of art have augmented the sacred record in portrayals of deep feeling and understanding. These paintings may well be likened to four scenes in a stupendous play. For our meditation we shall so consider them.
The poet has said:
Yet how long must have been the day between, and how filled with unutterable sadness! The Scriptures are silent regarding it, but it was a real day, a terrible day to that small group of disciples scattered "as sheep without a shepherd. They had awakened to a realization that the nightmarish scenes of a few hours ago were real after all, and their sense of loss must have been overwhelming
We are indebted to the genius of the great Swiss painter, Eugene Burnand, for .the painting "Holy Saturday," than which there is no finer portrayal of the stark tragedy that gripped the eleven men most closely associated with Jesus. Burnand portrays them dazed with blinding sorrow and confused of mind and heart, once again gathered in the upper room where on Thursday night the Master had washed their feet, partaken with them of their farewell meal, and talked to them with a tender, brooding sympathy. Gathered again; to seek in this hallowed place for quiet, undisturbed meditation and prayer. This is the 15th of Nisan, a great feast-day of Israel. Without, the streets are thronged with the celebrants. Garlanded and arm-in-arm, they troop thee streets singing the old familiar songs of rejoicing. Within, the echoes of this merriment penetrate to pierce sword like the gloom filled hearts of the disciples. Some are seated at 'the table; others stand forlornly in the background. There is no ray of hope on any face. Peter, at one end of the table, his agonizing brain resting heavily on his hands, no longer able to think or talk, weeps and suffers in silence. His is a double grief. John, next to him, trying to comfort his impulsive friend, appears to feel the futility of words at such a time. James sits at the other end, his deep set eyes peering into vacancy as if trying to recall something from, the sayings of his dead Master that would bring order out of his mental chaos. Andrew stands with downcast eyes and sorrowing face just behind Peter, his conscience-stricken brother. The rest are grouped about the three at the table, some watching with sympathetic faces the suffering Peter, while others are lost in thoughts too deep for words, or are hushed in silent prayer. Only those who have loved much and lost can really know what that "Holy Saturday" meant to the bewildered disciples. The painting might well be called "The Death of Hope" for
Though they as yet "knew not the Scripture that he must rise again from the dead, we search their faces to see if, like bells in -the distance, a faint melody of coming joy was not being rung to their numbed consciousness by those strange words of but yesternight:
"A LITTLE WHILE AND YE SHALL NOT SEE ME: AND AGAIN, A LITTLE WHILE, AND YE SHALL SEE ME. VERILY, VERILY, I SAY UNTO YOU, THAT YE SHALL WEEP AND LAMENT, BUT THE WORLD SHALL REJOICE, AND YE SHALL BE SORROWFUL, BUT YOUR SORROW SHALL BE TURNED INTO JOY. A WOMAN WHEN SHE IS IN TRAVAIL HATH SORROW, BECAUSE HER HOUR IS COME, BUT AS SOON AS SHE IS DELIVERED OF THE CHILD, SHE REMEMBERETH NO MORE THE ANGUISH, FOR JOY THAT A MAN IS BORN INTO THE WORLD. AND YE NOW THEREFORE HAVE SORROW, BUT I WILL SEE YOU AGAIN, AND YOUR HEART SHALL REJOICE, AND YOUR JOY NO MAN TAKETH FROM YOU."
The scene changes. It is the early part of the following day, the first day of the week. Again have the disciples -awakened to a despairing consciousness of their loss and inconsolable grief. Poor crushed spirits! How, little did they, know that the darkness was past, that a glorious light wast about to break forth in their hearts never to be extinguished! For the sun had scarce risen when Mary of Magdala burst into their presence with the strange and terrible news that the grave was empty. Amazed and fearful at this new development, Peter and John are instantly on the way to the Garden; their eager haste hurrying them to the, utmost speed. This is the moment Burnand has chosen to transfer to canvas in his magnificent portrayal "Peter and John Running to the Tomb." The artist has marvelously caught the spirit of this incident. The two disciples are shown running at top speed, the brilliant dawn of the resurrection morn left behind. John's hair ripples backward as his body bends forward against the wind. The folds of his white robe stream behind. That Peter is the older and is losing out in the race is evident. His longer locks flare in the wind, his cloak tosses behind him, and his mouth opens to make labored breathing easier, while his hand presses back a heart near bursting from mingled emotion. John's hands are clasped together in front of his bosom in the attitude of prayer. He seems not to be conscious of the movement of his limbs; his thoughts are projected far ahead; his eyes appear as fixed upon the distant tomb. Anticipation is written over both their faces. What must be their most inward thought? Are they beginning to feel an awakening within, a stirring of vast implications? The eagerness of a strange expectancy is accentuated in every line of face and body as they race onward, our own hearts keeping pace with them.
The sacred record tells us: "So they ran both together: and the other disciple did outrun Peter and came first to the sepulcher. And he stooping down, saw the linen clothes lying: yet went he not in. Then cometh Simon Peter following him, and went into the sepulcher, and seeth the linen clothes lie, and the napkin, that was about his head, not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together in a place by itself. Then went in also that other disciple, which came first to the sepulcher, and he saw and believed." Ah yes, John believed. Nothing is here said concerning Peter's convictions. But shall we question the. result of that meeting of the Lord and his brokenhearted disciple when later, as Paul records, "He was seen of Cephas"? And can mere words describe the ecstasy of that reunion?
We pass on to the wonderful experience of Mary Magdalene whose glory it is that
We find her now returned to the tomb, her spirit overborne with longing anxiety to find him, and refusing to believe that she could not. She is alone, as the two disciples and the women had returned to the city. She peers into the sepulcher; the empty space where Jesus had lain is now no longer untenanted, but instead of the Redeemer, she sees two shining ones, one where the head and the other where the feet had rested. The strangeness of their presence seems lost to her as with eyes half blinded from weeping, she enters and looks about her. And then -- then a Form suddenly stands at the threshold! O moment mystical and sublime!
This is the wonderfully dramatic setting of Edward Burne-Jones' painting, "The Morning of the Resurrection."
We see the two angelic messengers, great wings folded against the background, their faces turned in silent awe to One they recognize as far above all principalities and powers. A fold of their white robes raised to their lips as if thus to acknowledge their own unworthiness. The one farthest from the threshold, with raised arm gestures to direct Mary's attention. She, with head slightly turned, looks in startled timidity upon the Visitor's face. Is this the keeper -of the Garden come to rebuke her intrusion? With cloak caught up, she is prepared to flee. Yet she cannot take her eyes from Him who looks at her with an all-seeing gaze. Her, heart pounds from the tumult of emotion which surges over her spirit. What are these strange stirrings in her slumbering memory? What is there about that face? -- but no, it could not be! Her tear misted eyes must be deceiving her!
Only a moment intervenes until a heart full of the deepest sorrow is raised to rapturous joy, and that through the utterance of but one word! One word which will send her, fleet as a deer, to astound the disciples with the amazing truth,
"I HAVE SEEN THE LORD"!
And what is our fourth painting? Ah, it has not yet been painted, though the Great Artist has been long preparing. It will not be painted on canvas but. on more durable material, which shall survive eternity. And when that glorious work is finished, strong men shall weep with joy as they contemplate it, and the heaven shall resound with the voice of angelic singing. For a stupendous scene shall it unfold. Its setting this earth, its subject all mankind, And its theme the everlasting love of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ. For our three pictures are but miniatures of far greater scenes. The grief and sadness of the Eleven in the upper room is multiplied a million fold in the hopeless grief of humanity. John and Peter running to the tomb may well show forth the coming experience of the nations when the "word shall go forth from Jerusalem." And Mary at the tomb, the amazed awakening in the heart of all peoples that "One there is above all others well deserves the name of Friend." For we have all a nearer, a more special interest in the deserted tomb of Jesus Christ. For us all he died, and for us all he rose again. Firm and fast as the grave now seems to hold the buried generations of our race, it is doomed, as a fruit of Christ's resurrection, to relax its grasp and yield them up again. Empty as was Joseph's sepulcher when the angel spoke to the women, so empty shall be every grave of earth when another angel shall sound his trumpet, and it shall ring through the regions of the dead, and stir all to life again. Blessed was that morning which dawned upon the empty tomb at Calvary, but more blessed to us shall that other Morning The which shall dawn upon the empty graves of earth.
O Earth, thou grain of, sand on the shore of the Universe of God; thou "Bethlehem" amongst the princely cities of the heavens; thou art, and remainest, the Loved One amongst ten thousand suns and worlds, the Chosen of God! Thee will his Son again visit, and then thou wilt prepare a throne for, him, as thou gayest him a manger cradle; in his radiant glory wilt thou rejoice, as thou didst once drink his blood and his tears, and mourn his death! On thee has he a great work to complete! Hear the word of the Lord!
"BECAUSE I LIVE, YE SHALL LIVE ALSO."
- W. J. Siekman.
- Author Unknown.
"This one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before." - Phil. 3:13.
IT might be assumed, at first, thought, that all who hear the gracious story of Love Divine, would want, out of sheer gratitude, to make some slight return to God for such wonderful loving kindness to men. To learn that he gave his well-beloved Son to be the all sufficient Redeemer for sinful men, ought to awaken in the depths of every soul, a responsive gratitude, so deep and strong, that every moment of our little lives would be taken up in seeking (if we could) to repay some little portion of the debt we owe to him. But sad to say such is not the case with every one who hears. In every land and every church there are many thousands who seek to pass themselves off as decent Christian folk, who are not so moved and actuated. The Gospel story does not touch life's deeper chords. If there is something' to be gained or acquired, they are quite willing to be recipients and take the gracious gift, but as for giving anything to God, they are not anxious to do much of this themselves. They are quite content to be known as "receiving Christians" -- as Christians living on a heavenly dole.
Perhaps the acceptance of the doctrine of "Justification by Faith" may account for some of this reluctant attitude. Having learned that there is nothing they can do for themselves in the securing of redemption from sin and death, they then go on to think there is but little in any other sphere of Christian experience which they can do. Hearing from their teachers that salvation "is not of works, lest any man should boast" (Eph. 2:9), and that it is "the gift of God, they have grown satisfied to take all they think that God has to give, and then refrain most carefully from doing the least thing that could be described or defined as "works."
These remarks are not intended to censure them for their readiness to accept the gift of God. Indeed that is the right attitude for every child of God to adopt, not only at the onset of his Christian experience, but throughout his whole Christian life. So far as our acquittal from condemnation and Adamic guilt is concerned, it must be accomplished by "the free gift of God" based upon the redemptive sacrifice of his well beloved Son. In this great acquittal there is not the least thing we can do. Indeed we are only asked to believe it as a fact, and take the offered gift as one that is without money and without price.
Thousands of professing Christian folk claim to have gone as far as that, though at times they are not really sure if they have actually gone, as far as once they thought. Their lives are filled with doubts and fears, and they sometimes say,
These are Christians with too many interests in life. Jesus said that the deceitfulness of riches as well as the cares of this world -choke the Word and it thus becomes unfruitful. To amass money or acquire other forms of wealth and luxury they are prepared to work long and late. Consequently they have too little time to attend to the pursuit of truth or the means of grace. Others are too greatly involved in nursing and tending this present world. They want to heal all its troubles in these present days; hence they join in its political affairs or its humanitarian schemes. Or else they y give themselves to the cultivation of the arts or sciences to an almost exclusive degree, and find themselves with all too little time to spare for holy things.
Frequently they are just as ready to give a night to Beethoven, or the games, as to Christ-and thus amid the multitudes of clashing interests Christ Jesus becomes only one among many things. Too many rivals to Christ are allowed in their lives; hence the little deposit of the Word in their hearts gets crowded down. All they can spare for God and Christ is perhaps just one day in seven-if they can spare so much-and thus their religious life is weak and sickly and unable to hold its own against the claims and enticements of the world. Little wonder that they ever find much in their lives for which to give God thanks!
There is here no single-hearted consecration to the will of God-no devoting of the 'heart and mind and hand to the service of the Living God. There is no setting apart of their little "all to the altar of sacrifice. They live for self and for this present world.
Now in saying all that has been said we have no intention to find fault with such a mode of life. It is better far to live for these nobler things than for the vicious and unholy things around them. But such a life needs to be seen for what it is, for it is not a Christ-like life! And no life which is not a Christ-like life can be accounted as a really Christian life. In spite of the little interest in holy things which manifests itself from time to time, it cannot be accounted as a "following in his steps."
The life and service of Jesus was devoted always to the one end and a purpose. He had, no time or energy for other things. He had come down from heaven to do his Father's will, and to that service he dedicated himself exclusively. He knew the world was suffering in its sorrows and sins, yet he did not let that detract him from his purpose. True, he healed some of these suffering souls, but there were many that he did not heal! His people sought and schemed for freedom from the Roman yoke -- he did not lift a finger to help their schemes along! Certain Greeks seem to have invited him to leave the thankless Jews and withdraw to their more cultured land. (John 12:20-22.) From the nature of his reply, Jesus flatly refused to be drawn aside from the path of danger and of sacrifice. He had come into the world for that very hour, and that very sacrifice!
That selfless, concentrated, unceasing devotion to the will of God is the standard and pattern of the Christian life. It is the model of "the one thing" that every consecrated follower should emulate. He will thenceforth have need to make it the "one thing" of his life, if he is to remain secure in Christ. He cannot now pursue the many things as in his former days. There cannot now be pursuit of wealth, nor even a nursing of this old world's cares. He can no longer devote himself to mere humanitarian reforms, nor engage in worldly politics henceforth. He must now be prepared to stand aside with Christ, and let the world, with its tinsel and its toys, go by.
To become carnally minded now will lead towards "new creature death. Even the highest standards of a fleshly life and outlook can eventuate only in such a death. And if, as an unfruitful branch of the Vine, he is cut away from Christ, decay and destruction is sure to be his end, as the earthly horticulturalist could so easily testify.
Carnal mindedness need not of necessity mean evil mindedness. The best of men, unbegotten by the spirit of God, are carnal men. "Carnal," as a word, is the Latin form of the word "flesh" -- and need not mean more than that a man lives according to the dictates of his five main senses. He may tend to lead his life on a higher moral plane, or wallow, otherwise in the mire; in either case, it is life on the fleshly plane.
It is not possible for a spirit begotten child of God to live his life on the plane of his five senses alone, even though he lives on the highest moral level. He has entered into a life on another plane and must draw supplies of nourishment from another source. In the language of the ancient Tabernacle, lie has been constituted an under-priest, with right of entry into the Holy Place. He may enjoy the illumination, from the Golden Candlestick, and partake of the "Presence" Bread from the Holy Table of his God. How improper it would be for him to live all his life in the Camp, eating, sleeping, and working there every day, and all the day! The purpose of his anointing and dedication to the holy service would be defeated and the divine intention altogether frustrated. And surely, from such tokens as we have, divine recompense and wrath would most certainly overtake him for his waywardness.
Carnal mindedness may be nothing more than service in the Camp, by one whose person had been devoted to the Tabernacle. It may be even clean and helpful to the Camp, but that consideration alone does not make it the right thing to do. The Camp is not his proper sphere; his vocation lies in the holy things of God. Service to God was the "this one thing" of his life. His home relationship -- wife, children, friends -- was secondary to that.
The consecrated, spirit begotten child of God is likewise called to the service of his God. That is the specific vocation of his life. All other things are secondary to this, the mere avocations of the daily round and common task. Attention to the thing for which he has been apprehended of God must ever he the "this one thing" of his life. It must affect his working and his leisure time, it must control what he reads and what he says, as well as where he goes. It must be the regulator of his entire clay, as also of his entire life.
Let us see how this works out. And first as concerns his time. As with the priest in Israel the Lord claims all his time, yet graciously allows him to use enough of this to win his daily bread. Should the bare winning of that bread take all his day-save only his sleeping time-then he must take the whole to "provide" for his own. That is according to the will of God for him, provided only that in all he does eating, drinking, working he does it to the glory of God.
But not all are situated quite like that. Some win their bread in fewer hours, and thus have time to spare. What may he do with these leisure hours: These are not his own, but God's! He must not forget his stewardship-for these scraps of time, but must utilize them as one who must answer for his stewardship. Here the issue is not what he "must," but what he "may" do with his leisure hours. Shall he use them to rake together still more of this earth's golden dust? or shall he let them slip noiselessly and uselessly away? or shall he turn his mind to holy things, to read, or write, or meditate with others of kindred mind? It is for each one to make his choice, but in arriving thereat, each one is revealing the temper and warmth of his heart, and of his sense of stewardship. Eternal issues hang upon these things. The tilt of the scales towards carnal or spiritual things is revealed by zeal in what he "may" or "may not" do, - not in what he -"must." When he is quite as mindful of the glory of God in the things that lie "may do" as he is in those that lie "must," then all is well with his soul.
What may be read? Anything, everything? Here again, he must choose for himself -- but if the stuff he reads is the food of his mind, that ought not to be a question difficult to decide. Here again there may be some things he "must" read for bread-winning purposes. These are legitimate. What of the rest? "This one thing" should determine these! Again the sense of stewardship comes into play and will place limitations upon what is accordant with that "one thing."
What may he say? Again, the glory of God provides the test! Here the question of influence on other lives comes in. In apostolic days Pharisees and rulers took note of humble un-schooled men that they had "been with Jesus and learned of him"! There is no mistaking what they had said!
There are always some things that "must" be said at home, at work, on the street, in the store, and elsewhere. All these things should be said to the glory of God. What are the things that "may" be said: These are words of a special kind, and for special purposes -- words in which a testimony to the grace of God may express itself. They may carry the blessing of a Providence into some lonely soul or some weary heart-a draught of life-giving water in some desert patch of life. More than any other, these words show the gracious temper of the inner life -- the outflow of a spirit filled individuality.
In no place do these words show themselves so apt and helpful as in the assemblies of like precious faith. Too much careless conversation, lacking point or purpose, can mar the life and fellowship of the ecclesia gatherings. And too much insistence on secondary themes can sap the warmth and enthusiasm of any body of Christian folk.
The Bible is a storehouse of many kinds of evidence, some of them less essential than others to the healthy growth and vigorous well being of the child of God at this present time. Some of these things pertain to other times and other people at a later stage of the Divine Plan. Others have to do with the authenticity of the text-its structure and grammatical construction. Still others treat of things upon which conjecture and imagination can run riot things difficult to prove in the last degree, and which leave the mind unsettled and confused.
To the plodding child of God, treading in the Savior's footsteps, these many things are of secondary importance only. To all such, life and its experience has but one worth while thing to offer-to all such the Word of God has but one sole objective to present-to make the calling and election sure! To learn ten thousand things and yet miss that one will mean that all, so far as this present Age with its heavenly call is concerned, has been lost! And if that is lost, what is all thee knowledge in the world then worth to one whose eyes are fixed on that forever with the Lord association with the Altogether Lovely One?
The all essential thing in our study of the Word is to put "first things first," and relegate all unessential things, no matter how intriguing they are, to a secondary place. The only thing that is important, with a really first class degree of urgent importance, is to apprehend that relationship to Christ for which we have been apprehended by him. That is the "one thing" of the present Age -- the one goal and objective that lies between Pentecost and glorification for the Gospel Church. Nothing else matters to the same degree -- no acquisition of knowledge nor solutions of prophetical problems can compare with this. There are many things that matter only in small degree -- this one matters to the absolute degree.
On this account the words and utterances of the Elders and Teachers in, the Church gatherings need to be directed expressly and with emphasis to that "one thing." They, more than any other, can lead the brethren's minds away from the contemplation of Christlike growth and development, and blur the clear outline of the call to suffer with him while following in his steps. Conversely they, more than all beside, can be instrumental in holding that heavenly call before their brethren's minds with clarity and emphasis, and with inborn earnestness themselves becoming examples to the flock.
"First things first" should be the motto of every instructor in the Church; other things may then be taken in. their place without danger of detracting attention from the goal.
Never has it been so necessary as it is today to focus the attention of each and all -- of both "the teacher" and "the taught" upon that goal. The day of opportunity is fleeting fast away; the "appointed time" will soon be past, and with its passing the privilege of sharing in his sufferings will be gone and if there is no suffering, there can be no reigning with the Lord!
Our way is still "a narrow way" - our course is still to renounce the many things, and concentrate on the "one"; our "destination" (the predestined end to our course) is still our conformation "to the image of his Son."
Give all diligence then to the "one thing" alone, beloved in the Lord, and let that be the motive and lode-star of your lives.
May the Lord help us all so to do till "the Image" is complete.
- T. Holmes, Eng.
"A Saving Salt"
"Let your talk always have a saving salt of grace." - Col. 4:6, Moffatt.
AS WE consider our text we find there is a plea for positive virtue, an exhortation that our "talk," our conversation, shall be worth while a "saving salt," speech that is "edifying, that it may minister grace to the hearers."
We talk about the things of which we think, and we think about the things in which we are interested. The mind clings to that which pleases it; and objects of thought influence character. One becomes like the things which he contemplates. Herein lies the importance of choosing the subject of thought, for an unbridled mind will gather much that is unprofitable and unworthy. Ugly things will nest where there is no guard, but beauty will abide where it is invited and cherished.
The Apostle Paul admonishes the Church of God to "think on these things." What things? The true things of God, those that are noble and honorable, just and pure, lovely and of good report. Our conversation is a revelation of ourselves, for the words we use speak of the quality of our inner lives.
What can we do about this? The words of St. Paul come into remembrance: "Ye have put off the old man." (Col. 3:9.) The only thing that can be done with the "old man is to keep him under our feet, in the power of that new life which we have in union with our risen Lord. This means not only a holding of our tongues and a restraining of any evil impulse, but knowing that our words are controlled by the meditation of our hearts, we must begin there with the source -- our hearts. We may profit greatly by taking stock of our thoughts. Of our Lord Jesus it was said that "words of grace fell from his lips" -- "grace," that lovely sense of graciousness that flows from a. heart of love and understanding. There were no trivialities in our Lord's conversation, but strong, helpful words; no unkindly speech, but gracious, healing, and helpful words; words that if followed would eventually lead to life: "The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit and they are life." - John 6:63.
To live in a real sense, with a satisfaction deep and abiding, one, must be spiritually minded; that is, one must "think" of the things of the spirit, things we cannot see, but which are the greatest factors in our life. They include love, hope, and God. We must "think" much on these things of the spirit if we would know life at its best, and the peace that passeth understanding. "To be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace." - Rom. 8:6.
Salt to have value must have savor and be a preservative. It is only as we give our lives and seek to be helpful to others by the strengthening power of wisely chosen words, words that will encourage and help a friend in time of need, that our. "speech is with grace seasoned with salt." "A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver." - Prov. 25:11.
Jesus said, "Ye are the light of the world." (Matt. 5:14.) Light has two missions, namely, to show us how to find our way and to show up the beauty and reality of the hope that is within us. If our religion does not do that, then our religion is vain, or, in other words, we as lamps have become so covered with shades and. beads that we do not give out much light. That was the trouble with, the Scribes and Pharisees. The man made trimmings over the lamp of their lives obscured the light. The light is more important than the lamp, but the great enemy of mankind would have us magnify the lamp and discount the light and become too busy with-the adornments.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus has set forth in clear outline the facts of a true Christian life, a comprehensive statement of one's whole duty as a footstep follower. Herein he closely links together "salt and light." "Ye are the salt of the earth." But if the salt has lost its savor it is worthless, good for nothing. - Matt. 5:13.
The Apostle likens the vacillating Christian to a ship "blown from its course and swayed by every passing wind of doctrine." (Eph. 4:14.) The results are indecisions, instability, beating the air. What is greatly needed today is determination, concentration, and a right focus; for every man's work must eventually be tested both as to foundation and material, and only that which is storm proof and fireproof will stand. But if we have a loose leaf mind habit, we shall be swayed by the last word of change and newness. With this filing-cabinet method the Christian becomes unstable in all his ways, and wresting the Scriptures unto his own destruction, he finds his spiritual foundation in the sand.
God has shown us two things that are imperative if we are to be proved true. First, Christ must be our foundation, "for other foundation can no man lay." (1 Cor. 3:11.) Second, his Word must be obeyed-"If any man obey not the Word he is none of his." "Know ye not that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey, whether of sin unto death or of obedience unto righteousness." (Rom. 6:16.) But it must be from the heart, as Paul says, "But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you." - Rom. 6:17.
Jesus, our Lord, never lost his sense of direction through bitter and wicked opposition. He always kept his Godward way, for he lived in a spiritual atmosphere, in the presence of his Father. He came not to do his own will but the will of him that sent him. (John 6:38.) When we consider the life of Jesus, we cannot fail to note the abundance of those qualities symbolized by salt and light. If our Lord had lacked these qualities, he would never have become the instrument of Jehovah in the salvation of the world. Therefore, the worshiper is admonished, "With all thine offerings thou shalt offer salt." (Lev. 2:13.) The Master said to his disciples, "Salt is good. Have salt in yourselves and have peace one with another." - Mark 9:50.
In symbolism, if we have not salt in ourselves, how can we be the salt of the world? Jesus Bused salt as a symbol of his faithfulness, loyalty to his Heavenly Father, and in olden times it was so used. Also it was a symbol of purity and righteousness. So then if we are not truly and sincerely righteous, how can we become a help to others? Mere outward profession of righteousness will not avail as a substitute for the salt of actual and sincere holiness. Mere profession has no healing properties. But having that salt in ourselves, the salt in actual heart holiness, we shall be known and read of men to the praise of God. "Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no mail shall see God." - Heb. 12:14.
The proper attitude of the Christian toward all, including our enemies, is thus shown to be not a proud, indifferent spirit of the world, but that of a noble, generous, loving spirit, ever ready to bless, and by precept and example to point to the way of life and holiness. Jesus in his Sermon on the Mount let it be known that more should be expected of Christians than of other people who make no profession. "What do ye more than others?" - Matt. 5:47.
It is no longer to be "an eye for an eye," but "Whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also." Forgiveness is no longer, "Love thy neighbor and hate thine enemy, but "Love your enemies, bless them that curse you." It is not, then, that attitude which proudly says, I am holier than thou, but which, on the contrary, says, By grace I am what I am, and all things are mine. Unlimited resources are at my command and I need not fail in my task; for "As many as are led by the spirit of God, they are the sons of God." - Rom. 8:14.
"Grace, mercy and peace" -- these are three grand words of our Christian Gospel. We must begin with grace. It is the heart of our faith, for the Lord pours into our lives the riches of his grace. "Mercy" is another of the key words of our Gospel. No word was ever more truly spoken than that "We have all sinned and come short of the glory of God." And there is only one hope for us and that is the infinite mercy and forgiveness of God through Jesus Christ our Lord. - l Tim. 1:2.
Then follows "Peace." The Bible has much to say about peace -- "Sweet peace, the gift of God's Love." "O God, our Father, the Giver of peace, grant us the grace to submit our hearts and minds to thy blessed will, that we may obtain the peace which the world cannot give nor take away, for in our troubled and tangled world there is so little peace. It is only as we yield ourselves to thee in utter trust, and that means an uncompromising commitment to thy will in our daily living, that we can enter into an experience of 'peace that passeth all understanding.' - Phil. 4:7.
The Prophet Jeremiah says, "Happy he who relies on the Eternal, with the Eternal for his confidence! He is like a tree planted beside a stream, reaching its roots to the water: untouched by any fear of scorching heat; its leaves are ever green; it goes on bearing fruit in days of drought, and lives serene. - Jer. 17:7, 8, Moffatt. .
Let us turn the looking, glass inward and ask ourselves the question, "Am I a Christian only under certain circumstances, or have I learned in whatsoever state I am therein to be content?" (Phil. 4:11.) Or are we like one of the four men who climbed a mountain to see a view that was beyond all conception? The first complained of the discomforts. The second had a greedy eye, and kept wishing for this and that. The third saw clouds and worried for fear it might rain. But the fourth really saw the marvelous view and his mountain-top experience was looking away from the valley out of which he had just climbed to higher things. In other words, am I "Forgetting those things which are behind"? - Phil. 3:13.
God has called his people from the valley of sin and death, giving them a view pleasant to behold. Yes, their eyes have seen the King of Glory and a world-order in which the government will be upon the shoulders of the Wonderful Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace. Forgetting is not easy unless it is accompanied by the spirit of surrender to God's will, for in the battle for righteousness and faith there is never an end to the fight. The enemy is always lurking near and ready to leap upon us if for even a moment we are caught off guard. We dare not forget that it is imperative to -keep always on the alert. Frequently, before we are aware of 'his nearness, the enemy springs - upon us and strikes a paralyzing blow. Therefore, it helps greatly if we know our weapons. Each one of its is equipped with excellent weapons and we need to keep ourselves skilled in their use. It remains true in every instance that "They, that be with us are more than they that be with them." (2 Kings 6:16.) There is a source of strength that helps tremendously to win a victory if we know the availability of our reserves. Always the reserves of God are at hand in the midst of our darkest night of need. "Standeth God within the shadow, keeping watch above His own."
In the opening words of his letter to the Ephesians. Paul calls our attention to the threefold environment of the Christian. First, a Christian must live his life "in Jesus Christ." Second, it must be in fellowship with the saints; and third, it must be in "this present world." That means, then, that we must have the mind and will and the spirit of Christ. We must also have fellowship with others whose lives are centered in Christ Jesus. And, lastly, a Christian must live in this world without becoming a part of it, refusing to allow its filth to be upon him. We look upon God as the One complete, the Perfect One, perfect in love, in power, and purity; and if we would become like him, Paul says we must fill our minds with "whatsoever things are true, honest, just, pure, lovely and of good report." Such things are of God, and thinking upon them brings us closer to him. We look at ourselves and know how weak and inadequate we are, but we know, also, we can be so "filled with the fulness of God" that we will manifest him to others. Yes, we can know the joy and strength of a life lived in victory over self, the world, and the Devil.
Some one has described the work of an old-fashioned refiner of gold. He would sit with bowed head beside the white-hot blaze of his coals and hold over the fire a long-handled skillet which contained his little scraps of impure metal. He would watch them slowly begin to melt in the intense heat. Back and forth across the fire he would patiently move the skillet containing the muddy, sluggish liquid until the black streaks of the dross burned out and it turned to a ,pure and molten yellow. Then, when in its clear depths he saw the undistorted image of his own face, he knew his work was finished. So, then, affliction finds God's grace sufficient. Deep sorrow taps the hidden, springs of comfort, and "fellowship in his sufferings" is the key to "the power of his resurrection."
A story is told of a blind woman who had few friends to cheer her lonely hours, yet her face always radiated cheer. This woman spoke not of her poverty or her troubles but of the joy she found in her Christian faith and her Bible, and she was asked, "How do you keep so bright and hopeful? What is your secret of victory over despair?" She pointed to an old phonograph, saying, "When the going gets hard I turn on that record and it helps to lift the load from my heart." Then she placed the needle on the recording, and a golden tenor voice flooded the room:
A song in the night! How often this thought is, found in the Scriptures. Sometimes we are shut in by darkness and silence that gives us that alone feeling. Then sorrow seems to deepen and disappoint meat becomes more keen. Yet we have the testimony of those who discovered a source of joy that enabled them to sing in the night watches. What is this source of joy? It is faith in the never failing promises of God, our Father. In confidence, "Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him and he shall bring it to pass." - Psalm 37:5.
Among the priceless gems of comfort, none holds the prominence of the fourth verse of Psalm 23: "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me." Some may say that shadows do not hurt, but life's experiences contradict this. Most of us know that shadows hurt. They break the spirit; they blind the eyes; they burden the heart. Our Shepherd passed through the valley. He refused the drugged wine as a stimulant. Though betrayed he still kept the course of love. He kept his dignity and patience through everything, and now he guarantees our safety. Therefore,
Let us, then, keep in mind the simplicity of the Christian faith without wavering, letting our conversation always have a saving salt of grace, realizing that
We read these words, as recorded in Mark 9:50, "Have salt in yourselves, and have peace one with another." And again, "How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth." (Isa. 52:7.) It is not our privilege to anoint the Head of the Body, the Lord Jesus-others-had that privilege, but, we do have the privilege of anointing the feet members of the Body of Christ, and it will be along this very line that we shall be tested. Therefore, let us avail ourselves of the privilege of anointing the feet members of the Body, realizing that whatever is done unto one of the least of these, his brethren,- is done unto him. We must- also bear in mind that the more gentle, more tender, more careful in honoring and dealing with our brethren we are, the more we will receive the blessing and approval of the Lord. Let us keep in mind that they have trials and difficulties enough without our adding to them. There must be no neglect of them on our part, for the opportunity of manifesting our love and devotion to the Lord and his brethren is now. Kind words and looks and assistance may be the means whereby some may be restored to new beauty in the Lord. Thus in the words of the Prophet, "Let the beauty of the Lord be upon us." (Psalm 90:17.) Let us "stir into flame the gift of God." - 2 Tim. 1:6, R. V.
Is there anything that God's people need today more than this kind of heart-warming? Let us remember that the "stirred inflame" Christian is the one who will have the joy and the blessing of our God and Father. Jesus taught us to pray for his Kingdom to come. If we are to be diligent and consistent Christians, we must do as he said -- "Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness." Our Father is in command, and if we trust him,-following his commands, we shall reach 'the port of our desire in safety. There are no winds too strong, no waves too high, no fog too thick, to prevent a successful completion of our voyage, provided we accept him as our Commander and Leader. The only way we can -avoid the shoals and reefs is to allow ourselves to be guided by the. Great Pilot. We need to keep our faith in his saving grace and keep our minds centered upon him, for he alone is able to "save to the uttermost." No matter what the trials or how difficult the way, he who said, "I have overcome the world," will give us the victory.
- T. G. Smith
A MODEL LETTER EXAMINED
I thank my God always, making mention of thee in my prayers, hearing of thy love, and of the faith which thou hast toward the Lord Jesus, and toward all the saints; that the fellowship of thy faith may become effectual, in the knowledge of every good thing which is in you, unto Christ. For I had much joy and comfort in thy love, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through thee, brother. - Philemon 4-7.
The body of the letter begins with the first phrase given above and it is a sentiment found in most of Paul's epistles. In this epistle there is a specific reason for this expression, 'I always thank my God when I mention you in my prayers' (Moffatt). By the end of the letter Paul will have asked a favor of Philemon and the only recompense to be had by Philemon would be through his God. The thing for which Paul is expressing thanks is the beauty of Philemon's character. He is saying that the same God who is working in himself is the one to whom all credit must be given for any beauty that Philemon possesses. In one phrase he has acknowledged his God, his duty and obligations to him, expressed his reverence for him, and reminded Philemon that we have no good in us except what has come from God.
The construction of the Greek text permits us to connect 'always' with the giving of thanks (as the Revised Version and others do), or as an indication of the frequency with which he made mention of Philemon in his prayers. Probably both are true. The graciousness in his own heart makes him recognize the same in Philemon. It would not be strange if every one of Paul's prayers would have remembered Philemon as one of the outstanding examples of God's grace. Some are inclined to devote their prayers to those who (in their estimation) are lacking in the divine requirements. This is not the apostle's practice. He knows from experience that the saints who are most faithful in their obligations and most appreciative of their privileges are the ones whom Satan is most eager to turn from the path of rectitude.
There are recorded for us no selfish prayers of the Apostle's. There were none to record. He has left us a beautiful example of thinking of others; and the lusciousness of the fruitage in his own life should inspire every beholder to strive for the same complete forgetfulness of self, that he too may have that love that "seeketh not her own."
Paul says: "I thank my God . . . because I hear [continually, the Greek indicates] of your love and the faith which you have toward the Lord Jesus and all the saints." Surely no one would suspect the Apostle Paul of insincerity in any such prayer, or ascribe his love of Philemon to weakness. An ignoble heart would probably, however, ascribe to mere diplomacy the graceful compliment that is here paid his beloved brother. Some students, recognizing that the phraseology actually describes Philemon's faith and love as for the Lord Jesus and unto the saints, for some reason have decided that the Apostle did not express himself as well as they could have done and that what he really meant to speak of was faith in the Lord Jesus and love for the saints. Their difficulty is not in thinking that he could have had a love for our Lord Jesus as well as faith in him, but apparently- they are not aware that it is possible to have faith in a fellow saint. It would seem clear to us that the Apostle's reason for having hoped that the writing of this letter will bring results is that Philemon is one of the kind who do have faith in their fellow saints. If Philemon were not of that kind, one would have reason to suspect that he has mistakenly devoted his time to thinking on the unlovely qualities of his brethren instead of rejoicing in and magnifying their virtues. To proclaim one's faith in others does not mean an anticipation of perfection in performance, but a confidence that divine grace will accomplish for them the same miracle that is being accomplished in every one fully resigned into the hands of the heavenly Father-working in them to will and to do of his good pleasure. ("Some commentators (see Ellicott's note, where the view is discussed and rejected) explain this as 'fidelity' (as probably Gal. 5:22 and certainly Tit. 2:10.) But that meaning is rare in St. Paul, and needs strong evidence for adoption in any given case. The ruling meaning, 'trust, reliance,' is quite in place here." - Cambridge Bible, page 169.)
The received text shows two prepositions indicating love and faith toward Christ and unto the saints. In the former "the idea is that of a movement of yearning after an unattained good ... as of the soaring of an eagle to the sun, or the climbing [of] tendrils to the summit of the supporting stem. In Christ there is always something beyond," the Expositor's Bible explains. But any Christian is capable of developing faith in and love for all fellow saints in proportion to their worthiness, therefore the force of the expression, "love and faith unto the saints." Those who take Christ as their center will draw circles of love and faith large enough to take in all their brethren, the circle of love taking in even their enemies. Paul is asking Philemon to make sure that his circle is large enough for the present need. The graceful compliment he is paying him is intended to assure that condition. If he had suspected Philemon of harboring any secret pride, the compliment would not have been risked. He knew that a good heart is only made the better by sincere appreciation.
THE APOSTLE'S PURPOSE FINALLY HINTED
In verse six the Apostle at last makes a veiled allusion to the purpose of his petition: "That the communication [R.V.: "fellowship"] of thy faith may become effectual." The word that is used to speak of our fellowship with the Father and with the Son by. the beloved John; our partnership in the divine nature by Peter; and our partnership in the bread and cup of the Memorial Supper by the Apostle Paul, is used in Romans 15:26; 2 Cor. 8:4; 9:13; Phil. 1:5; Heb. 13:16, and here also, it is generally assumed, with the idea of benefactions, a sharing with another. However, that viewpoint would seem to be entirely too narrow a one to fit the context. Brother Wilson in the translation given in his Diaglott shows verse five as a parenthesis. By this arrangement the Apostle is saying that his prayers are to the effect that Philemon's fellowships, which are the outgrowth of his faith, may become active to the extent that others will take knowledge of him that he has been with Jesus and learned of him. The prayer- is not that they may learn something good about Philemon, but that his conduct may be a revelation of "every good thing which is in" him. Some manuscripts read, "every good thing that is in us," a thought not out of harmony with the passage, but the reading, "in you," seems a much more likely one as the Apostle' is preparing to suggest to Philemon a service to his Master which will be a revelation of a Christlike love far surpassing the world's variety, a greater demonstration than even most Christians ever have the privilege of making.
Philemon has climbed high in Christian attainment, but the Apostle Paul, with his usual insatiable desire to have all "filled with all the fulness of God," is, we infer, urging him to be no rocking chair Christian, but to remember that the whole purpose of the Christian life is the exerting of every ounce of strength that is his in reaching toward the "mark of the prize of the High Calling in Christ Jesus."
PAUL COMMENDS A LIVING FAITH
Evidently the Apostle knows Philemon is not one of those who would prefer to satisfy himself with "great and marvelous works," and so he does not apologize for asking from him a devotion to the thing, that counts most and will receive some day the Master's approval, "Well done, good and faithful servant, enter thou into the joy of thy Lord." None will hear those welcome words except those who have attained "the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ," those for whom the prayer has been fulfilled, "that Christ may dwell in their hearts by faith." How strange that mere trifles can darken so great a light; and that one could ever think there is any danger of a lessening of good works because one was devoting himself to those things resulting in an increase of the knowledge of his God. That point, the Apostle covers in his letter to the Colossians (Col. 1:10) in the unceasing prayer of the writer for those dear brethren. There is no other process by which one can walk worthily of our great Lord. The ninth and tenth verses in the Diaglott read: I "do not cease praying on your behalf, that you may be filled, as to the exact - knowledge of his will, with all spiritual wisdom and understanding; to walk worthily of the Lord, pleasing him in all things; bringing forth fruit by every good work, and increasing in the exact knowledge of God." If one does not endeavor to live up to his religion, it eventually shrinks to the level of his life. The Apostle is asking our' brother to live up to not only his theories but the actual practice of the past, asking him not to have a mere theory but a practical religion, not a religion of works, but a religion in which the' works are based on love and faith, an outgrowth of them.
Heaven is for Christians, not for theorists. A Christian is one who walks as his Master walked, he who "went about doing good and healing their diseases." That Christian does not do his work to be seen of men, but is content to lie low at the Master's feet, that others may see him who instructed in connection with the giving of alms, "let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth." He states that as the basis on which "thy Father shall recompense thee." Only by the grace of humility can the tongue be silenced so that this abundant reward may be ours. The "fruit of righteousness" is by Jesus Christ, and therefore "unto the glory and praise of God." It is when we do our own works, and seek praise of men for them, that we disgrace him and ourselves, and run the risk of hearing him say some day, "I never knew you." - Phil. 1:11; Matt. 6:3, 4; 7:23. Some time before, probably under the instruction of the Apostle Paul, Philemon had eternally dedicated himself to the doing of the will of God, living unto and for his glory. His teacher taught him to know the One "who gave himself for us to redeem us from all iniquity and to purify for himself a people of his own, who are zealous of good deeds." (Titus 2:14.) In 3:14 of the same letter the Apostle instructed: "Let our [people] also learn to maintain good works for necessary uses that they may be not unfruitful." The translation in the Revised Standard Version is clearer and perhaps more exact. "Let our people learn to apply themselves to good deeds, so as to help cases of urgent need, and not to be unfruitful." Paul is in this carrying out the instructions of Hebrews 10:24: "Let us consider one another to provoke to love and to good works."
As already intimated, the Apostle is not asking some new thing of Philemon. The seventh verse tells him that in his prison cell in Rome he has been much comforted to know that Philemon has been faithfully living up to his privileges. It was probably quite a surprise to Philemon to learn that anything he had clone could be a comfort to the distinguished prisoner in Rome, many hundreds of miles away. Perhaps it has been still more of a surprise to him to learn that his faithfulness has been an inspiration to the saints who have lived during the nineteen hundred years since he completed his course. It would be well for each of us to remember that we can never know what effect the least word or the simplest act may have on others, and the great responsibility that is therefore upon us to conduct ourselves as befits the members of the Body of Christ. Only then can we truly join in the Apostle's inspired expression (2 Cor. 2:14-16): "Thanks be unto God, who always leadeth us in triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest through us the savor of his knowledge in every place.
And who is sufficient for these things? Paul is saying, "Philemon, you have had many wonderful opportunities in the past of carrying out the Master's injunction to 'let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father which is in heaven.' In heaven's providence the privilege is now granted you of a yet larger demonstration of the power of love divine all love excelling. Though absent in body, yet I am with you in spirit, and rejoicing that you are building a superstructure of love on the only dependable foundation. I am rejoicing, too, in the firmness of your faith, in Christ and his Body members. I have no doubt of the outcome of this present trial upon your love and faith." Can he have the same faith in us who live in the perilous times of the end of the fast waning Age?
- P. E. Thomson.
Will you please explain Matthew 10:28, where we read:
"Fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul; but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell."
If we are a soul and do not possess a soul, how are we to understand the use of "body" and "soul" in this Scripture?
For a proper understanding of this text we must first ascertain the Bible answer to the question: "What is man?"
There are two general views on this subject which, while each contains elements of truth, are, on the whole, misleading. One is the so-called orthodox view; the other, the so-called scientific view. Neither represents the Bible viewpoint, and those who hold either are thereby prevented from securing the benefit which the Bible teaching would have on their hearts and lives.
The position of orthodox theology, briefly stated, is that man is a composite being of three parts --body, spirit, and soul. The body, it is believed, is born after the usual manner of animal birth, except that at the time of birth. God interposes and, in some inscrutable manner, implants in the body a spirit and a soul which, being parts of God himself, are indestructible, and therefore can never die. These two parts, spirit and soul, orthodoxy is unable to separate and distinguish, and hence uses the terms interchangeably.
Scientists answer the question, "What is man?" by stating that man is an animal of the highest type yet developed. They offer no suggestion as to a future life for any individual, but, believing they can trace an evolutionary development of mankind in past ages, are disposed to the view that the race may by natural processes (and apart from the power and purpose of a personal God) yet be developed into a superior condition to that of the present.
The Bible answer to the question recognizes man as composed of two elements, body and spirit. By body is meant the physical organism; by spirit, the animating power -- the breath of life. The union of these two elements produces the man himself, the sentient being-the soul. As we read in Gen. 2:7: "The Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul."
It is the teaching of the Bible that when the spirit is separated from the body, the man (that is to say, the sentient being, the soul) ceases to exist. To quote from James 2:6: "The body without [or apart from] the spirit is dead." According to the Bible any hope of a future life for an individual man who has died must lie in the power and purpose of God. The Gospel undertakes to prove that God has both the power and the purpose to accomplish a resurrection for all, and that everlasting life will be offered to all -on certain conditions-either in this Age? or in the Age to come.
The Greek word twice rendered "soul" in our text is "psyche." It is frequently translated "life" and indeed is so translated a little later in this same discourse of our Lord. "He that findeth his life shall lose it; and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it." (Verse 39.) This variation' in translation has served to confuse, creating the impression that "life" is one thing and "soul" another, and that a man might lose his life without losing his soul. Such confusion is particularly noticeable in Mark 8:35-37: "Whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the Gospel's, the same shall save it. For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?" In this passage the word "psyche" is twice translated "life", and twice "soul." Had the word been uniformly translated the truth would not have been obscured.
In the light of the foregoing discussion let us return to Matthew 10:28. What does our Lord mean when he says: "Fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul?" Does he mean that when the body is killed there is a mysterious, invisible something called a soul, which men are not able to kill, and which, therefore, escapes death at their hands and continues to live on-apart from the body? Such is the orthodox view, which, as we have indicated, we cannot share. But even those who hold it should be on guard against embracing the further error of supposing that such an escaped soul is possessed of the quality of immortality -- deathlessness. The closing words of this very verse make that plain. They speak of one (God himself) who has the power to destroy both soul and body.
But, if the orthodox view be wrong, what is the proper one? We answer: Our Lord well knew that when men killed the body, they then and there destroyed also the present life, the soul, the sentient being. He was not denying this obvious fact. The disciples, however, had hope of a future life -- a life beyond the power of the killer to harm, much less to destroy. This hope of life came to them through the Gospel -- came as the result of the redemption provided by God himself, through the sacrifice of our Lord Jesus. This hope of a future life was shortly to be confirmed to them by our Lord's resurrection from the dead. Because he lived they would have grounds for believing that they, too, would live.
The present life they would lose, whether men killed their body or not-they would lose it in old age if not sooner. But their future life-their prospect for eternity-this lay in the power of God. He it is, then, and not men, whom they should fear.
Dr. Wilson, in the Emphatic Diaglott translation, by using the word "life" and by supplying the word "future" has given us what we cannot but believe is the true meaning of our Lord's words. We close this discussion, by quoting his translation, which reads as follows:
"Be not afraid of those who kill the body, but cannot destroy the (future) life; but rather fear him who can utterly destroy both life and body in Gehenna."
- P. L. Read.
THE DOOR NOT YET CLOSED
Dear friends in Christ:
As it is about time for my subscription to expire I am enclosing amount for two years. I do not want to miss a single issue. So many times an article has appeared that seemed to have been written just for me, so perfectly did it uplift and encourage my sagging spirit.
All my life I've sought to live godly, to know more of His wondrous truths -- yes, ever since I can remember. While still in our teens both my husband and I accepted Jesus as our Savior and were baptized. So the years passed, and we sought to live up to our vows, feeling it was only "a reasonable service," since we were "bought with a price," and not our own anyway. But still my hope was the achievement of perfect human life in the Millennial Kingdom. I told myself that the call had ended; it was not for me.
Last November a most unexpected thing happened. I picked up a booklet of American poetry and found one of the Songs of Solomon. The line, "And the voice of the turtle is heard in our land," intrigued me. I brought out my new concordance recently received from you and looked up the word turtle and turned to the reference -- idly more or less. I've read the Song of Solomon before, but it seemed to have a peculiar drawing power, and I read on to the fifth chapter, sixth verse, "I opened to my beloved; but my beloved had withdrawn himself, and was gone: my soul failed when he spake; I sought him, but I could not find him; I called him, but he gave me no answer." Suddenly I stood there in the empty doorway -- desolation and empty horror filled my soul and a great fear. So near -- but too late! Soon then through prayer and searching of the Word I saw for the first time that it was the hope of a future human life we covenant to sacrifice, and with joy I did so, and I'm still so happy to do so. I had always considered it a cross to bear, to attempt to do the will of God, but before I had even confirmed this in the Scriptures I found it a "delight to do Thy will, Oh God."
For a time I had such a wonderful feeling of communion with my Lord. I had heard, but I did not know how real it could be. Now I have a feeling of having to wait, and I'm so anxious for closer communion. I found great help and encouragement in the Fifth Volume of Scripture Studies in the chapters dealing with the holy spirit. Then the January issue of the "Herald" brought comfort in the article, "Joined to Another," by Brother Holmes. A letter from my father, many years a devoted child of God, gave further help and encouragement; and latest, when I needed it most Brother Siekman's "Abraham and Lot -- a Contrast." I'm so needful of these helps, and so thankful for them!
I fear greatly, not of my Lord's ability to hold me fast, but, my own, not to be overcome by the things of the world. I had no idea how far from perfection I was until I came under the anointing of the holy spirit. I know of a surety I have received of this blessed, holy anointing, and praise God daily for his wonderful blessedness. How great, how kind, how loving can he be! And how undeserving I!
Thank you so much for the helps, and may God bless you in his service,
Sincerely, Yours in His truth,
G. L. --
My dear Brethren:
Loving greetings in the Lord's name.
I don't know how to describe with my poor words this joyful day. Your clothing box and CARE package both arrived today. I had been out to work, and when I returned at 7 o'clock, I saw the tables covered with tins and clothes of all kinds. Dear brethren, so many blessings at one time are nearly too much for our nerves after the long time of hunger and suffering. It seems we are dreaming, and we can hardly believe that all the beautiful things are really ours. Our highest way to thank you is to go down on our knees and pray God's blessings upon you all.
Our needs had become so great in the last weeks that I had to give up my business, and I have started to work as a helper on a building. I am happy to have even this job. It does not matter what one works at in Germany. The main thing is to get some money to buy rations for the family. Now your packages are such an inestimable help for us. Without this help I should not know how to get strength for the hard work that is new to me. Perhaps you can imagine how a former artist is feeling on a building. But did not even our Lord and Master work as a carpenter? Why then not be grateful to the Lord for the possibility of gaining' necessary funds.
We are not only enjoying all the valuable things of your boxes, but we are so glad to think of the boundless love which is behind these gifts. You see, my wife was down to her last old dress, and I was badly in need of any underwear. Now you put just the right things in the boxes before knowing our special needs. And not only that -- the things are fitting wonderfully. We thank you ever so much for all your love. You may be sure there will be no day without a special prayer for you, dear brethren in America. How miraculous and wonderful is the providence of the Lord! I asked for a subscription to the "Herald," and now we are enjoying not only the "Herald," but so many good material things.
With our best wishes and a fervent "God bless you,"
in our blessed Hope,
Members of the Pastoral Bible Institute are hereby reminded of the privilege which is theirs of nominating in the pages of this journal the brethren they wish to elect as directors for the fiscal year 1949-1950. While the attention of new members is especially drawn to this matter, we desire to emphasize in the minds of old members also, not only the privilege, but also the responsibility which continued association with this ministry brings.
All should be aware of the fact that the affairs of this Institute are in the hands of seven brethren who are elected from the Institute's membership to serve for a period of one year or until their successors are elected. The, ext annual meeting will be held Saturday, June 4, 1944 at 2 p.m., in the parlors of the Institute, 177 Prospect Place, Brooklyn, N. Y.
The brethren whose term of service will expire are:
The brethren named above are pleased to report that spirit of Christian love and harmony exists in their midst and they have reason to believe that the Lord has seen fit to bless their association in this ministry. They realize, however, that those carrying on any work often fail to see opportunities for improvement and expansion apparent to others not charged with such responsibility. For this reason changes in office not infrequently have beneficial effects. They desire above all things that the work of the Lord (for the furtherance of which this Institute was formed) be prosecuted with the greatest possible efficiency, and to this end are ready cheerfully to step aside for others whom the membership believe to be fitted for the work. 'They therefore urge upon all the members of our Institute that they make this a special occasion of prayer, and they also earnestly pray that our Father's will may be expressed in the vote of the members.
If after prayerful meditation any are led of the Lord to nominate brethren, and will forward the names and addresses of such brethren so as to reach this office on or before April 4, 1949, such names will be published in the May issue of the "Herald," that all members may have an opportunity of voting for them.