LII. March/April 1969 No. 2
"My flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed." - John 6:55.
BY THE Lord's instructions many memorials were instituted by the Jews: the "manna, and Aaron's rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant" kept in the ark; the "two stones upon the shoulder pieces of the ephod to be stones of memorial for the children of Israel"; fringes on the garments of the children of Israel that they might "remember all the commandments and do them"; the censers of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram "made beaten plates for a covering of the altar ... to be a memorial unto the children of Israel, to the end that no stranger, that is not of the seed of Aaron, come near to burn incense before Jehovah," etc., all of which interest us for their historical value and the spiritual lessons that may be drawn from them; but the one from which we have received. our greatest inspiration, and the one that was used by our blessed Master himself as a basis for his parting message, is that of the Passover Supper. With the lamb of this celebration Jesus identifies himself. The cup which the Jews called the cup of blessing" he takes as a symbol of his shed blood, but for that purpose blessed anew; and the unleavened bread a symbol of his broken body.
Going back to the type we see the blood-sprinkled lintels and doorposts, for God had said, "When I see the blood, I will pass over you." The night had come for Israel's departure from Egypt. The judgment of God was upon the land and was to be executed. The angel of death was to pass through and "smite all the first born; but provision had been made for the safety of God's chosen -"The blood shall be to you a token upon the houses where ye are; and when I see the blood, I will pass over you." What cause for peace, consolation, assurance in these words! While they were spoken to the children of Israel still in Egypt, they come to the child of God still in the "land of the enemy with added force.
There are two aspects in which we-may view the 'paschal lamb; first, as the ground of peace; and second, as the centre of unity. The blood on the lintels secured peace., Nothing more was required.
It was not a question of good works or of merit. It was a question of the Israelite having faith to believe what God had said, "When I see the blood I will pass over you," and to act upon that faith. So with the believer today. It is not because of any inherent goodness or merit that he finds peace with God, but because of simple faith in the power of Jesus' blood to cleanse from sin, for "though our sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool," when once the blood is applied.
The second aspect of the Passover, that of Christ as the centre of our unity, was pictured in the assembly of Israel gathered in peaceful and holy fellowship, partaking-of the lamb. Being saved by the blood was one thing, but being gathered round the lamb was quite another. The blood of the lamb however formed the foundation for both. Just so in Christian experience. Apart from the atonement of Christthere can be no peace with God and no fellowship either with God or with his people. It is to a living Christ in heaven that believers are gathered by the holy spirit,, to a Living Head; "He is our centre. Having found peace through his blood, we own him as our grand gathering point. The holy spirit is the only gatherer; Christ himself is the only object to which we are gathered. The holy spirit can gather only to Christ. It cannot gather to a system, a name, a doctrine, or set of doctrines. It gathers to a Person, and that Person is a glorified Christ in heaven."
It is our understanding that it was in the evening of the 14th of Nisan, that is, what we today call the evening of the previous day, that Jesus ate his last passover with his disciples, and following it instituted "the Lord's Supper," a memorial of his death,* and, as Paul adds, our communion, a partnership in his body and blood, saying: "Does not the consecrated cup which we bless mean that in drinking it we share in the blood of Christ? Does not the bread which we break mean that in eating it we share in the body of Christ? Because there is one loaf, we, many as we !are, are one body, for we all share in one loaf." - E. J. Goodspeed.
* According to the Jewish reckoning, to be celebrated this year after sundown of Tuesday, April 1.
As the literal lamb gave strength to the Jews, so we must feed on the mystical Lamb, by faith accept the merit of his sacrifice that we may be ready for our deliverance in the morning of the new dispensation. Our bread, the Apostle Paul calls "the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth." To eat that bread means much more than would appear to a careless examiner. Eating and drinking manifestly indicates our acceptance, not merely intellectually, but our acceptance, as a moral power for our transformation into his likeness, for the putting on of Christ, the mind of Christ, by the renewing of our minds. Drinking the cup signifies that we have accepted Jesus as our life-giver, and that our utter dependence is on him; also, that we have made a covenant to go into death with 'him. By the eating of the flesh we covenant to "suffer with him," and to conduct ourselves as become members in, sharers in, the "body of Christ."
The eating of bitter herbs with the Pascal Lamb in symbolism speaks of cheerful endurance (translated "patience" in the New Testament) of those experiences that are necessary for the testing of every prospective sharer with him in the bounties of the Promised Land -- experiences that justly try us "in all points," that there may be assurance that throughout eternity there will be no unwillingness to fully and joyfully enter into every plan of the heavenly Father for us. From this proclamation of our desire to "suffer with him" in whatever way the loving Father shall permit, as pilgrims and strangers, far from the land of 'his promise and our choice, we go forth with staff in hand and girt for the journey, carrying our bread with us, and, too often, wandering long in the wilderness state before finally home is reached. In the typical wandering those who could not in faith accept joyfully, uncomplainingly, the trying experiences of the wilderness, found in it their burial place. The fact that only two of the adults who partook of the lamb and who left Egypt for the promised land reached it, causes us to pause and consider as to whether we too might not "eat unworthily" of our Passover Lamb. It was not lack of knowledge, but an "evil heart of unbelief" that caused their bodies to fall in the wilderness. Let us "take heed, brethren, lest haply there shall be in any one of us an evil heart of unbelief, in falling away from the living God; but exhort one another day by day, so long as it is called Today; lest any of us be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin: for we are become partakers of Christ if we hold fast the beginning of our confidence unto the end." (Heb. 3:12-14.) According to the next chapter, "The word of hearing did not profit them, because it was not united by faith with them that heard." They and that faith, as it were, did not become so inseparably united as to become one. Their trial is past and "Failure" written in their record; but faith in the antitypical Lamb, which was prefigured in their yearly memorial that was instituted at their entrance into the wilderness, inspired the Apostle many generations later to write, "And so all Israel shall be saved." Out of their ruin that One who will save will erect a memorial which for eternity will proclaim that the God of justice is also a God of love, wisdom, and power.
With the One who died as the sacrificial Lamb will be 144,000, who like Caleb and Joshua saw their enemies, giants in the land so great that the other spies said, "We were in our own sight as grasshoppers., and so we were in their sight." Also like the two spies, this faithful company not only see the fruit of the land, but have faith in the One who promised.
As one of the innumerable things provided by our heavenly Guardian that the 144,000 might pass safely through their wilderness experiences was the Memorial Supper which our Savior instituted on the last night of his life, building on the foundation of the yearly Passover celebration and as a substitute for it. "Do this," he said, "in remembrance of me." "Take, eat; this is my body." It did appropriately represent him, for it was unleavened bread. "The bread of God is that which comes down from heaven, and gives life to the world." Therefore he could say, "I am the bread of life; he who comes to me shall not hunger, and he who believes in me shall never thirst." "If any one eats of this bread, he will live for ever." (John 6:33, 35, 51.) (The Revelator tells of a great company who did not have this satisfaction, but promises for them a future in which they "shall hunger and thirst no more.") The partaking of the unleavened bread at the Memorial Supper means to us primarily that we appropriate by faith the perfect human life which Jesus laid down, accept the restitution rights and privileges which Jesus' death made secure for Adam and all his race.
"IF WE BE DEAD WITH HIM"
Very clearly the Apostle Paul indicates that in the Memorial Supper we not only yearly commemorate the death of the Savior of the world, but also proclaim our privilege of being "dead with him": "I speak as to sensible men; judge for yourselves what I say, The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? Because there is one loaf, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the same loaf. Matthew Henry comments on this passage:
"'By partaking of one broken loaf, the emblem of our Savior's broken body.... we coalesce into one body, become members of him and one another.' Those who truly partake by faith, have this communion with Christ, and one another: and those who eat the outward elements, make profession of having, this communion of belonging to God, and the blessed fraternity of his people and worshipers," thus accepting all whom the Lord hath set "in the body as it hath pleased him."
"It will help us to see the connection of thought here to remember that the words translated 'communion' in this verse (1 Cor. 10:16), 'partakers,' (ver. 18), and 'fellowship' (ver. 20), are all forms of the same Greek word. This word means communion, association, fellowship; and the genitive after it may denote either the persons or things with which one is associated, or that in which they are associated and have part together. Now if we examine the argument, we find that it is here the fellowship or association with the blood and body of Christ that is meant. In the second analogy used, the Israelites, by eating the sacrifices, are represented as partaking with thee altar-i.e., as consuming one part, while the altar consumes the other part of the sacrifices. And in the conclusion, those who eat the idol--sacrifices are represented in the same way, as in fellowship with demons. So that here, in the other analogy of the Lord's Supper, it must be fellowship with some thing or person that will keep up the correspondence between all the cases, that forms the basis of the argument. ' Some suppose that the fellowship is with believers and in the body of Christ. But this supposes that the point of the argument--viz., that with which we are associated in the Supper, is left out by Paul. Moreover, in the parallel cases, it is not the association with the worshipers, but with the object of worship, that is pointed out. The consistency of the several parts of the argument requires, therefore, that we understand here fellowship with the blood of Christ to be meant. But in what sense? It is evident from the passages (Matt. 26:26 seq., 1 Cor. 11:23 seq., John 6:51 seq.), which give the history and explanation of the Lord's Supper, that these -symbols represent the sacrificial death of Christ, and that, therefore, fellowship with the body and blood of Christ,, is fellowship with the Lord in his death. The partaking of these emblems brings us into this fellowship. But as the emblems are symbols, not the real body and blood of the Lord, so our eating and drinking are symbolic acts, representing the faith by which this fellowship is really accomplished. - Cf. John 6:51, 53, 54, 56, 57, 58, with ver. 35, 40, 47." - American Commentary.
The above seems to us to corroborate what we find on page R5342 of the Reprints:
"There is a difference, we believe, maintained in the Scriptures between the bread, which symbolizes the Lord's flesh, and the wine, which symbolizes his blood. The Church, in order to be accepted of the Lord as members of his glorified body, must share in both of these by participation. The loaf, as the Apostle explains, not only represents to us our Lord, as the Bread of Life necessary for us, but it also represents us as his members to be broken as our Lord was broken; and the wine represents not only our Lord's blood, but also the blood of the Church-that we are sharers with him in his sacrificial sufferings. - 1 Cor. 10:16,17.
"The privilege of sharing our Lord's cup is not for -the world. They will not share in the sufferings of Christ, because all opportunity to share in his sufferings and glory will have ended when the Church is glorified. The Lord said, 'Drink ye all of it'--drink it all. There will be none for the world to drink. And we who are of the Church class 'fill up that which is [left] behind of the afflictions of Christ.' - Col. 1:24."
Shortly before instituting the Memorial Supper the Master offered his intercessory prayer for all who should be of his body, "That they all may be one," "As thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us." (John 17; 20,21.) This can have reference only to the oneness of spirit that Paul "begs" us to be "eager to maintain, the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace," that we may "lead a life worthy of the calling to which we have been called, with all lowliness and meekness, with patience, forbearing one another in love." (Eph. 4:1-3.) If an honest desire for such a unity is not in the heart of one who partakes of the Lord's Supper, he at least has failed to note the way in which the Lord has associated-the two thoughts. "Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body as well as the blood of the Lord. Let a man examine himself, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup.' For any one who eats and drinks without discerning the body, eats and drinks judgment upon himself." - 1 Cor. 11:27-29.
WHO MAY PARTAKE?
The answer of inspiration is that no one should partake unworthily. In this the Apostle was not forgetting that "there is none righteous, no not one"; but he is remembering that "we are acceptable in the Beloved," and only by faith can we be "accepted" "living sacrifices, holy and acceptable to God." "Let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that Bread and drink of that Cup." (1 Cor 11:29.) "Examine yourselves whether ye be in the faith," or apparently more exactly: Examinee yourselves, to 'see whether you are holding 'to your faith. "Test yourselves. Do you not realize that Jesus Christ is in you? -- unless indeed you fail to meet the test!" (2 Cor. 13:5, R.S.V.) "If we say we have fellowship with him [in the bread, or in the cup, or in any way] while we walk in darkness, we lie and do' not live according to the truth; but if we walk in the light as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all ,sin." - 1 John 1:6,7, R.S.V.
It was immediately following the institution of the Memorial that Jesus warned Peter: "Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat," and added the consolation: "But I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail; and when you have turned again, strengthen your brethren." This was said to the weak, impetuous Peter, who thought he was able to follow the Lord into any experience. But instead Jesus told him: "The cock will not crow, till you have denied me thrice." Perhaps it was in part for us that Peter was permitted so drastic a demonstration of his weakness, and for us, as well as for him, that the very next words recorded are: "Let not your hearts be troubled; believe in God; believe also in .me" - the God whose "mercy endureth forever," and the Son, "who ever liveth to make intercession for us." - John 13:38; 14:1; Heb. 7:25.
In the words of another:
"Beloved brethren, let us 'meditate on these things.' We have tasted, through grace, the cleansing efficacy of the blood of Jesus; as such it is our privilege to feed upon his adorable Person and delight ourselves in his unsearchable riches'; to have fellowship in his sufferings and be made conformable to his death. Oh! let us, therefore, be seen with the unleavened bread and bitter herbs, the girded loins, the shoes, and staff. In a word, let us be marked as a holy people, a crucified people, a watchful and diligent people -a people manifestly 'on our way to God' -- on our way to glory -- 'bound for the Kingdom.' May God grant us to enter into the depth and power of all these things; so that they may not be mere theories, in our intellects -- mere principles of Scriptural knowldge and interpretation; but living, divine realities,. known by experience, and exhibited in the life, to the glory of God."
- P E Thomson.
"But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. 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 dung, that I may win Christ, and be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: that I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; if by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead." - Phil. 3:7-11.
THE EVENT forecast by the word "RESURRECTION" is of the greatest possible significance to the dying and dead of mankind, for only through the operation of God's power manifested in the resurrection of the dead is there any hope for life or future existence. The outworking of all God's purposes with respect to this earth and its inhabitants would fail utterly if there were no resurrection of the dead. All that Jesus suffered and died to accomplish would be in vain apart from a resurrection of the dead. No other event is fraught with greater significance; and we can not imagine anything that would demand a greater display of divine power and wisdom.
When we consider these facts, plainly set forth in the Word, particularly by the Apostle Paul in his great dissertation on the subject in the fifteenth chapter of his first epistle to the Corinthian Church, is it not strange that so little, comparatively speaking, is said about this great hope in the pulpits of most churches? And would we not expect it to be a universal topic at funerals? On the contrary, if the most of them are like those we have heard, it is conspicuous by its absence. Why is this? What is the reason for so general an avoidance of the subject? The answer must of necessity be, lack of belief -- unbelief. How much that word explains in the lives of nearly all men, including those who manifest a "form of godliness" but lack the evidence of its power in their lives. Speaking in the spirit of prophecy, Jesus said: "When the Son of Man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?" - Luke 18:8.
There are perhaps several reasons for a lack of faith in the Bible teaching of a resurrection of the dead, but the root of the matter takes us back to the Garden of Eden when, in tempting Mother Eve to disobey God, Satan lied to her, and induced her to believe that she would not surely die, as God had said. Satan's cunning and power to deceive have been fully demonstrated in the theories of life and death that most of Eve's descendants have been led to accept since that time; and he has seen to it that lying spirits (fallen angels), necromancers, and so called spirit mediums, have continued the deception by representing themselves to be the spirits of the dead or as receiving messages from those who have departed this life.
Another thing that has no doubt contributed to men's acceptance of these Satanic teachings rather than the teachings of God's Word, is that they find it much easier and perhaps more attractive to their egoism to think that death is just a transition from this conscious state into another sphere of activity. Some such thought must have been in the mind of the Poet Longfellow when he wrote:
In striving for an understanding of truth, just as in sailing for a desired port, one cannot start on a wrong course and maintain it with any expectation of coming out right in the end. The penalty of death was pronounced against Adam, against the man, the soul, the sentient being, not merely against his body; and, when man dies, the Bible says, "His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth, in that very day his thoughts perish" (Psalm 146:4), his thinking ends. This is in full accord with the whole tenor of Scripture on the subject. The wise man in Ecclesiastes 9:5 says, "The living know that they shall die: but the dead know not anything, neither have they any more a reward, for the memory of them is forgotten." Again through Ezekiel, the Prophet, God says, "The soul that sinneth, it shall die." (Ezek. 18:20.) And when Jesus died to redeem man, the record is that "He poured out his soul unto death." (Isa. 53:12.) Therefore the thing that needs to be resurrected (restored) is man himself, and Paul tells us that in doing this God will supply a body: "Thou sowest not that body that shall be, . . . but God giveth it [the resurrected being] a body even as it hath pleased him." - 1 Cor. 15:37, 38.
The fifteenth chapter of Paul's first letter to the Corinthians, in which this statement is found, was written to counteract the teachings of the Sadducees, and to set the brethren at Corinth straight on this matter of the resurrection. It seems almost unbelievable that those who claimed to acknowledge Christ as the bringer of salvation, could so soon have been led to deny the only hope of life there is. Jesus had warned his disciples to beware of the leaven (false doctrines, Matt. 16:12) of both the Pharisees and the Sadducees; but here we find a church of Christ in which many of its members were being led astray concerning the one and only true hope of life.
"Now if Christ be preached that he hath been raised from the dead, how say some among you," says Paul, "that there is no resurrection of the dead?" Then follows an argument that is unanswerable except we believe that the dead are actually dead, and that our only hope of future life is that we shall be resurrected from the dead. "But if there is no resurrection of the dead, neither hath Christ been raised." Here Paul recognizes the fact that not only was Christ once actually dead, but also that his resurrection is proof that there will be a resurrection of all who will accept it on his terms. "And if Christ hath not been raised, then is our preaching vain, your faith is also vain. Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God," says Paul, "because we witnessed of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead are not raised." Paul's argument shows that either we must believe in a possible resurrection of all, or else give up all thought of future life. "For if Christ hash not been raised, your faith is vain [useless]; ye are yet in your sins." In such an event, Christ is still dead, and a dead Christ could not appear in the presence of God for us, therefore there would have been no atonement made for our sins; they would still be held against us. And he further says, "Then they also that have fallen asleep in Christ have perished."
In the fifteenth verse of this chapter, Paul tells us that GOD raised Christ from the dead. Many believe that he was alive while in the tomb, and that when he was ready, as hymnology expresses it, "He burst the bonds of death and hell" and arose through the exercise of his own power. But Christ was dead; he bad no power to raise himself, and such a thought is wholly contrary to Scripture. Thirteen times in the New Testament do we read that he was raised by the Father. Then too, Paul's statement that Christ was "the first-fruits of them that are asleep," is in full agreement with his previous statement in Acts 26:23 where he tells us that Christ was the first to experience a resurrection. Evidently, if this be true, the raising of Lazarus and of the daughter of Jairus was not resurrection, but only an awakening, a restoring to the small measure of life they had possessed when the death that was working in them finally triumphed. That this is true, is borne out by the fact that totally different words in the Greek are used to describe the two events.
Anastasis, the Greek word for resurrection, signifies, according to Strong, Young, and- other lexicographers, "a restanding," "a standing or rising up," "a making to stand or rise up; restoration." Such a restanding is permanent: death no more has power to affect one who has experienced such a resurrection; whereas Lazarus, and those who like him had experienced awakening (egeiro) eventually died, and will need to experience the anastasis in order to live eternally. Evidently, resurrection does not mean simply an awakening from sleep (death), but a full raising up to the perfection of life and being. The words of Jesus (John 5:28, 29) set forth this same thought; for whereas all hear his voice and come forth, some to experience an immediate resurrection, others who have done evil, to experience a drawn out process of resurrection through the judgments of the Lord. And so through Isaiah it is prophesied, "Yea, in the way of thy judgments, O Lord, have we waited for thee; . . . For when thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness." - Isa. 26:8, 9.
PRESENT EXPERIENCE IN RESURRECTION
It is evident that our text speaks of two resurrections, or perhaps we should say, two phases of the resurrection. "That I may know him and the power of his resurrection (anastasis), and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; if by any means I might attain unto the [out] resurrection [exanastasis] of the dead." This exanastasis is the phase which we have been considering: that part of the resurrection that will take place with the true Church when they are raised from the grave to the divine plane of existence with their Lord. But the phase mentioned in verse ten, has to do rather with the transformation of character that is now being worked out in us-the raising from dead works to walk in newness of life.
This, from many standpoints, is the most important phase of our resurrection: for the measure of our worthiness to occupy a place in the glorified temple, will be determined by the way we react to the fashioning power of God's Holy Spirit, working in us both to will and to do his good pleasure.
It is here and now that God-likeness must be attained: that that "holiness without which no man shall see the Lord" must be perfected in us; that we who were once dead in trespasses and sins, wherein we walked according to the course of this world, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and a reprobate mind, and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others, have been quickened by God; who, in his great love and mercy, manifested toward us even when we were dead in sins, has saved us through faith, and has raised us up together with Christ, and made us to sit together in heavenly places. (Eph. 2:1-10.) And so Paul says, "If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above." - Col. 3:1.
PARTAKERS OF HIS SUFFERINGS
Another point that is emphasized in our text that should be well considered, is the necessity for sharing in our Lord's suffering and death if we hope to share in his resurrection to glory, honor, and immortality. The Bible gives a number of pictures that show the various aspects of the close relationship or oneness which we have with our Lord: master and servants, captain and soldiers, high priest and under-priests, shepherd and sheep, vine and branches, bridegroom and bride, head and body; these all have their particular lesson for us. In speaking of the last one, Paul shows (1 Cor. 12:12) that the Christ, Head and Body, is just as truly an organism as is the human body, and that though the members are many, yet being many they constitute but one body; and if one suffers, then all suffer, and all share in the one death.
The kind of suffering and death that the Head endured, must of necessity be the experience of all who become a part of the Christ; and so in this portion of his letter to the Philippians, Paul cites his own attitude of utter disregard for the things that he had once counted gain, in order that he might "know Christ and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; if by any means he might attain unto the exanastasis of the dead."
The world is full of suffering and death due to wicked works and inheritance; but Christ had no sin: his suffering and death was sacrificial--he "died unto sin" as a sacrifice for atonement, not as a penalty for his own wrong doing. And so when speaking of the suffering and death of the Body members, the Scriptures are careful to point out that we share in his suffering and death, not in that which comes to man because of his own or Father Adam's wrongdoing. Therefore we read in Romans, chapter six, verses three to eleven, "Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? . . . For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection. . . . For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord."
Let us then clearly recognize the true significance of our suffering and death, and the reality of the resurrection process through which we are being perfected as new creatures in Christ, and so give glory to God by being faithful in our covenant of sacrifice.
- John T. Read.
In the following paragraphs, John F. Kennedy, the 35th president of the United States, outlined his views on the problems facing Israel and the Middle East. These paragraphs consist of extracts from his book, The Strategy of Peace, published in 1960 by Harper & Brothers, New York City, N. Y.
The book, which is a discussion of the leading questions of foreign policy, includes a chapter on Israel and another on the Middle East, which should be of special interest to Herald readers.- Ed. Com.
ISRAEL is the bright light now shining in the Middle East. We, and ultimately Israel's neighbors, have much to learn from this center of democratic illumination, of unprecedented economic developments, of human pioneering and intelligence and perseverance.
In 1939 I first saw Palestine, then an unhappy land under alien rule, and to a large extent then a barren land. In the words of Israel Zangwill: "The land without a people waited for the people without a land." In 1951, I traveled again to the land by the River Jordan, to see firsthand the new State of Israel. The transformation that had taken place was hard to believe.
For in those twelve years, a nation had been born, a desert had been reclaimed, and the most tragic victims of World War II-the survivors of the concentration camps and ghettos had found a home.
The survival and success of Israel and its peaceful acceptance by the other nations of the Middle East is essential.
I cannot hope -- nor pretend -- to solve all of the complex riddles of the Middle East. But I would like to suggest some perspectives which might help to clarify our thinking about that area and to indicate what lines our longer-range efforts might take. To do this requires, first of all, that we dispel a prevalent myth about the Middle East.
This myth -- with which we are all too familiar -- is the assertion that it is Zionism which has been the unsettling and fevered infection in the Middle East, the belief that without Israel there would somehow be a natural harmony throughout the Middle East and Arab world. Quite apart from the values and hopes which the State of Israel enshrines-and the past injuries which it redeems--it twists reality to suggest that it is the democratic tendency of Israel which has injected discord and dissension into the Near East. Even by the coldest calculations, the removal of Israel would not alter the basic crisis in the area. For, if there is any lesson which the melancholy events of the last few years have taught us, it is that though Arab states are generally united in opposition to Israel, their political unities do not rise above this negative position.. The basic rivalries within the Arab world, the quarrels over boundaries, the tensions involved in lifting their economies from stagnation, the cross pressures of nationalism - all of these factors would still be there, even if there were no Israel.
The Middle East illustrates the twin heritage of modern nationalism. In one of its aspects it reflects a positive search for political freedom and selfdevelopment; in another, it is the residue of disintegration and the destruction of old moorings. The Arab states, though some have had significantly varying lines of development, have all too often used Israel as a scapecoat and anti-Zionism as a policy to divert attention away from the hard tasks of national and regional development, and from special area problems.
One of these problems, that of the Arab refugees, which has lain like a naked sword between Israel and the Arab states, is a matter on which the books cannot be closed and which must be further resolved through negotiation, resettlement, and outside international assistance. But to recognize the problem is quite different from saying that the problem is insoluble short of the destruction of Israel, or only by the unilateral repudiation of the 1949 borders, or must be solved by Israel alone. Israel today stands as an example for all the Middle East, in spotlighting how economic modernization may be spurred and accelerated against high odds, great physical barriers, and constantly growing populations, as well as against all Communist blandishments. The growing influence of the Soviet Union in the Middle East and the further diminution of direct Western influence in that area as a whole, we shall in all likelihood have to face as realities. And it is sheer delusion to underestimate the cutting force of Arab nationalism or hope to create puppet regimes or pocket Western kingdoms in that area. This would only intensify anti-Western feeling in the Middle East and imperil Western relations with all uncommitted states.
Israel, on the other hand, embodying all the characteristics of a Western democracy and having long passed the threshold of economic development, shares with the West a tradition of civil liberties, of cultural freedom, of parliamentary democracy, of social mobility. It has been almost untouched by Soviet penetration. Some of the leadership groups in the Arab states also draw inspiration and training from Western sources. But too often in these nations the leadership class is small, its popular roots tenuous, its problems staggering. In too many of the countries of the Middle East the Soviet model holds special attraction, the more so since the United States and its Western allies have not been able to develop more than tentative and often only expedient policies which hardly come to grips with the root causes of political disintegration and economic backwardness. To countries with relatively primitive or topheavy economies and low industrial capacity, the Russian and even the Chinese passage to modernity in a generation's time inspires confidence and imitation - even as does Egypt's move in less than ten years from a seemingly subjugated state to at least a strategic power.
In this light a simple military response is not adequate. For, apart from bequeathing to the United States latent anti-colonial resentments, military pacts and arms shipments are themselves new divisive forces in an area shot through with national rivalries. Military pacts provide no long term solutions. On the contrary, they tend dangerously to polarize the Middle East, to attach to us specific regimes, to isolate us very often from the significant nationalist movements. Little is accomplished by forcing the uncommitted nations to choose rigidly between alliance with the West or submission to international communism. Indeed, it is to our self-interest not to force such a choice in many places, especially if it diverts nations from absorbing their energies in programs of real economic improvement and take-off. In the Middle East we are moving perilously close to an arms race which, in the long run, will be of benefit to no one. No other area stands more in need of a real disarmament effort. The real mutual advantages for gradual demilitarization rather than build-up are unequaled.
The contours of the outstanding economic and political issues in the Middle East lend themselves uniquely also to a regional approach. The project-by-project, country-by-country pattern of assistance is particularly illadapted in this area. The great river basins of the Middle East are international--the Jordan, the Nile, the Tigris, and the Euphrates. And there are other nations in the West besides the United States which can make important contributions in economic and technical assistance. There has been no lack of pointers toward what a regional policy might include - a multilateral regional development fund for both economic improvement and refugee resettlement, the Jordan River multipurpose scheme, a food pool making imaginative use of our agricultural surpluses, and, as a coordinating agency, a Middle East Development Authority to pool capital and technical aid in that area.
Unfortunately, all these and other plans have so far lacked the active political leadership which can break the paralysis of purpose. Only external Soviet aggression, which is only one danger to the Middle East, has been the subject of high-level policy planning. No greater opportunity exists for the United States than to take the lead in such an effort, which could diminish the internal bickering in that tense and troubled area, and bend new energies to new, more promising, and more constructive ventures.
Needless to say, such proposals and programs should not be used as veiled techniques for placing new economic sanctions and pressures on Israel. Nor should they detract from our support of Israel's immediate needs. . . . The choice today is not between either the Arab states or Israel. Ways must be found of supporting the legitimate aspirations of each.
The Jewish state found its fulfillment during a time when it bore witness, to use the words of Markham, to humanity, betrayed, "plundered, profaned and disinherited."
But it is yet possible that history will record this event as only the prelude to the betterment and therapy, not merely of a strip of land, but of a broad expanse of almost continental dimensions. Whether such a challenge will be seized cannot be determined by the United States alone.
In Matthew 16:18 our Lord is reported to have said: "Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church." What is the significance of this statement? Please also explain the meaning of the words in the next verse, which read: "I will give unto thee the keys of the Kingdom of heaven."
Roman Catholic theologians teach that in the words "upon this rock," our Lord has reference to Peter, himself.
It will be recalled that when his brother Andrew introduced him to the Lord, Simon had been greeted by Jesus with the words: "Thou art Simon the son of John: thou shalt be called Cephas, which is by interpretation Peter" (that is, a rock or a stone. - John 1:42 margin, A.R.V.). At that time Simon was anything but a rock, but our Lord's penetrating glance saw in the hotheaded, impulsive, rash, unstable Simon other qualities which, in his skillful and loving hands, could be, and would be, so trained and developed, so molded and strengthened, as to give him the self-control he lacked; which would fit him for service, make him stout-hearted and strong where he was now weak -- helpful, no longer unreliable, in the cause which at heart he loved.
Catholics, indeed, contend for much more than this. It is their position that, after his resurrection, having previously conferred on Simon the name of Cephas, our Lord made Peter "Prince of the Apostles"; that when he thrice reinstated him in the under-shepherd's office (John 21:15-23) our Lord conferred on Peter a primacy -- a primacy which he began to exercise immediately following our Lord's ascension.
Protestant expositors readily admit the outstanding leadership of Peter during the early days of the Church. This is clearly in evidence in the events recorded in the Acts of the Apostles. Some, indeed, share the Catholic view that in the words, "upon this rock," our Lord had reference to Peter. However, such Protestant scholars reject the further Catholic claims that this preeminence descended to a line of successors. For this idea Protestants of all shades of belief find no Scriptural basis.
Most Protestant scholars, however, do not believe that the words, "upon this rock," refer to Peter. Such believe that had that been our Lord's meaning, he would have said "Thou art Peter and upon thee will I build my Church." On this point there is an interesting footnote in Rotherham's translation.
Other scholars, too, have noted that in Matthew 16:18 the word "Peter" is a translation of the Greek word petros, which means a piece of rock; whereas the word "rock" is a translation of the Greek word petra, which means a mass of rock. On this point see the Greek Dictionary in the back of Strong's Concordance, Nos. SG4074 and SG4073. The word petra suggests the bed-rock out of which pieces of rock or stones are cut; whereas petros carries the thought of one of such stones; a large stone, indeed, and perhaps the first-certainly one of the first -- to be laid upon the great underlying Rock -- foundation on which all the faithful would be built.
Some of the early Christian Fathers -- indeed some modern Protestant expositors -- have supposed that the rock referred to was not Peter, but Peter's confession of faith, the faith to which he had just given expression in Matt. 16:16, namely, that Jesus was the long-promised Christ -- the Messiah of Old Testament prophecy. Against this interpretation, however, there has been urged, what appears to be a valid objection. The objection is this: In Scripture, whenever the word "rock" is employed figuratively, it is applied to persons, never to things. Indeed, the designation "rock" in the Old Testament is applied only to Jehovah; in the New Testament only to Christ. For example: "He [God] is the rock." (Deut. 32:4); "Who is a rock, save our God? " (2 Sam. 22:32); "In the Lord Jehovah is a rock of ages." (Isa. 26:4, margin "They drank of a spiritual rock that followed them; and the rock was the Christ." - 1 Cor. 10:4, margin.
Christ, then, not Peter, nor yet Peter's confession of faith, but Christ himself is the rock. And on this rock he has ever since been building his Church. The bedrock, the "Rock of Ages," is here, in Matthew 16:18, as elsewhere in the Scriptures, God, as revealed in his Son.
In harmony with this, the Apostle Paul declares: "Other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ." - 1 Cor. 3:11.
We come now to those other words: "And I will give unto thee the keys of the Kingdom of heaven." What is the meaning here?
In these words the Savior varies his presentation. He had spoken of his Church as an edifice, himself as its bedrock, and Peter as likely to become an important foundation stone, to be well and truly laid upon it. The figure in his mind was evidently that of a temple. Now he likens his Church to a kingdom. The headquarters of a kingdom is a city; keys would be needed to open its gates.
Elsewhere in the Scriptures our Lord declares that he, and he alone possesses the key. This he tells us, in language unmistakable, in his message to the Church at Philadelphia: "These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth and no man shutteth; and shutteth and no man openeth." (Rev. 3:7.) The only one possessing the power to open the door into his Church was and is himself. But when lie spoke, his earthly course was about to be ended. Henceforth he would operate through honored agents. Whom shall he use to open the doors of the Kingdom? The answer to this question may be seen in the events which followed his ascension. Very evident it is that to Peter it was granted, in his great discourse on the day of Pentecost, to open the door of the Kingdom to the Jews. (Acts 2:14, 40.) To him also was assigned the high privilege of opening that door to the Gentiles, in the case of Cornelius. (Acts 10; 11; 15 7.) In this privilege of opening the door to both Jews and Gentiles Peter was, indeed, signally honored; but only in this did he have any preeminence amongst the Apostles. And of course, such a prominence, granted for a particular service, could not, in its very nature, be passed on to a successor.
It is worthy of note that the power to bind and loose on earth and in heaven, mentioned in the closing words of verse 19, was granted not only to Peter, but to all the Apostles. (Matt. 18:18.) These phrases, "whatsoever thou shalt bind," and "whatsoever thou shalt loose," were common Hebrew expressions, having a definite and well-known meaning. "To bind" meant "to forbid," or "to declare forbidden." "To loose" meant "to allow," or "to declare allowable." The eminent scholar, Lightfoot, tells us that one might produce thousands of examples from the writings of the Jews to prove that such was the meaning of the phrases in question. By our Lord's employment of them here, then, may be understood, in harmony with his promise in John 16:12, that after he had been crucified, raised from the dead, and ascended to God's right hand, the holy spirit of truth would be sent to them, to guide and direct them in their ministry, so that in their presentation of the Gospel, and in all related matters, in connection with the unfolding of God's great plan of salvation, the true follower of the Master might have confidence that they were having revealed to them, not merely the thought of the Apostles, but the very mind and purposes of God.
To summarize then, Jesus is, as the hymn-writer has suggested:
Meanwhile, while we do not worship them, we delight to honor those whom Jesus honored, namely, the Twelve Apostles, as being, all of them, foundation-stones indeed. The wall of the City (of the New Jerusalem), we are told by Peter himself, is built of living stones. (1 Pet. 2:4, 5.) And the Master, in "the vision glorious," has told us that this wall has twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve Apostles of the Lamb. (Rev. 21:14.) And not only are their names inscribed there; these foundations are seen to be "adorned with all manner of precious stones." (Verse 19.) Well may we honor them.
To close with words well known to us all, we "are being built upon the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the chief corner stone; in whom every building, fitly framed together, groweth into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom ye also are builded together for a habitation of God in the spirit. " - Ephes. 2:20-33, A.R.V., margin.
- P. L. Read.
"Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the Lord. - Hosea 6:3.
When the Apostle Paul was in Athens, that great seat of learning, -- waiting for Silas and Timothy to rejoin him after the disturbance in Berea, he was much stirred in spirit seeing the city given to the worship of idols (Acts 17).
Seemingly the Athenians whiled ,away much time in giving ear to any new thing (v. 17). And indeed the apostolic message was new for among other things Paul spoke of the resurrection of the dead.
Admittedly the Athenians did not know the true God, but by erecting an altar "TO THE UNKNOWN GOD" they were manifesting a trait of character to which Paul could appeal. For all their limitations they had one worthy quality, though misdirected, and that was worship. Worship is a characteristic which seems to be innate in human beings, and so important that we may well wonder whether the message of truth can appeal to anyone having no sense of it. if there is within any man the feeling that there is a Supreme Being whom all must heed, there is a possibility that he will respond to the gospel when he hears it.
It was in that possibility that Paul declared the way of truth. Paul saw that though the Athenians worshiped, in effect they worshiped they knew not what; so he promptly preached unto them that the one God who made the world dwelleth not in temples made with hands, and is not worshiped with men's hands as though he needed anything; and that nothing man may erect or perform is adequate worship of him in whom we live, and move, and have our being.
REVERENCE FOR GOD EXPRESSED BY WORSHIP
Then the Apostle, having caught their ear, proceeded to preach important doctrines of Scripture --repentance, judgment, and resurrection. But the Athenian practice of disputation arose and few heeded.
As Christians know, the Bible distinguishes between head-knowledge and heart-knowledge; and the philosophic Athenians, reasoning and arguing for the sake of the first, declined the deeper knowledge which Paul offered. But on the one worthy quality they manifested -- worship - Paul took hold, and we observe that he was in other words restating the axiom, "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge" (Prov. 1:7).
This then is the first step in Christian knowledge -reverence expressed in worship. Some may reason: How can man worship One of whom he has no knowledge. The truth is that worship and knowledge go hand in hand and cannot be separated. Their close linking will be noted when we remember that knowledge often is synonymous with appreciation; appreciation means valuing, praise; and praise is part of worship. Or, reversing the order--worship finds expression in praise; praise means appreciation; and appreciation shows that knowledge is in the heart as well as in the head.
REVERENCE RESULTS IN SPIRITUAL KNOWLEDGE
Another incident associating worship with knowledge occurs in the story of the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4). It is clear from the record that the keen-minded woman (an outsider of the Jewish faith) had a better sense of worship than had the intellectuals on Mars Hill, and her willingness to talk to the Jewish Stranger was rewarded. It was the Stranger who began the conversation by asking for water. The "to and fro" about living water may have been beyond her but she listens and, when the conversation turns to her personal life, she perceives that the Stranger is a prophet and immediately queries whether Jerusalem was the true center of worship. In reply our Lord spoke of the coming change when acceptable worship would not be restricted to any place but would be truly in spirit and in truth.
And to these words Jesus added (John 4:22): "Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews." Here is the next step in Christian knowledge-one which all must know in head and heart. Salvation had not entered the mind of the Athenians; the Samaritan woman was much nearer to that knowledge for she wished to appropriately worship the one true God. Her knowledge admittedly was limited for John 4:10 reveals that she did not know the gift of God or the identity of the Stranger who asked for water, but she professed knowledge of one thing (John 4:25): that when Messiah cometh he would teach them all things, and that earned her further knowledge. And what knowledge! In fact, a revelation that the Stranger was indeed Christ. Our Lord did not answer the casual or unworthy inquirer who asked whether He was the Christ but this woman received without asking, just because her little knowledge was coupled with worship. Let us not pass by this story without noticing that in John 4:10 and John 4:14, knowledge leads to eternal life.
SPIRITUAL KNOWLEDGE RESULTS IN FELLOWSHIP WITH GOD
In each example with the additional knowledge of God comes closer relationship and higher worship. That being so, what knowledge and relationship is the portion of Christians? Does the New Testament reveal God in closer relationship to the Christian than to all others, even Israel? Indeed, yes! There is almost no reference in the Old Testament to God as Father, but with the coming of his Son, this knowledge and the relationship of being sons of God was initiated, and later confirmed in the writings of the Apostles.
With such standing before God, with such knowledge, more acceptable worship will surely follow. True, our worship, praise, and thankfulness are never adequate having regard to the honor bestowed upon us, but will increase as we see sonship as a blessed truth rather than a doctrinal fact. And so we shall proceed to that pinnacle of knowledge when we experience in Paul's words (Eph. 1:18), "The eyes of your heart being enlightened, that ye may know.... " We cannot pass on without noticing the word "enlightened" -knowledge by illumination.
Let us in our minds and hearts think of our Lord's teaching in chapters 14 to 17 of John's Gospel. Events were moving to their foreknown climax (it was in fact the most critical hour of human history), but the central Figure in the small community was perfectly calm and peaceful while others groped in uncertainty. Was it not because of his perfect knowledge and the worship of his Father during the hours that he remained unshaken? He knew the Father's plans. He knew that he had to seal the Divine Purpose of redemption by his own death. He knew that he would be raised from the dead when the great work was finished. But most of all he knew his Father. It was his fullness of knowledge (a higher knowledge than all the others we have considered) that enabled him to stand.
But what of the chosen disciples? In these four chapters he seemed to be endeavoring to give them those certainties of knowledge which he himself possessed. If he could implant into their heads and hearts the knowledge and love of God, they would survive the coming ordeal and he would triumph. The position of the disciples at that time was so critical that sure knowledge of the love of God would probably be of greater help and comfort than factual knowledge of his purpose. And this has often been true of later Christians, for it is another way of trusting God where they cannot trace him.
ETERNAL LIFE THE FRUIT OF TRUE KNOWLEDGE
It could be assumed by the questions which the disciples asked their Lord in the closing hours of his earthly life (such as John 14:5, 8, 22 and John 16:17, 18) that their knowledge of the Father and his purpose was meager, and that our Lord's summing-up of their faith in John 16:31, 32 showed their weakness; but their Lord knew them better than they knew themselves and in John 15:15 tells them that their knowledge of God's workings had raised them to be friends of the Father. In fact it is clear that he is pleased with them in spite of their doubts and uncertainty.
In the Lord's personal prayer (John 17) we notice how much the disciples had accepted of truth and knowledge by their Lord's ministry. In John 17:4-8 he details his work at the first Advent in these words: "I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work . . . I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gayest me and I have given unto them the words which thou gayest me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me.... I pray for them.... "
The disciples, for all their seeming doubts, were growing in Christian knowledge (they were well ahead of their brother Jews and far ahead of the others mentioned), and when the Spirit of Truth came to them at Pentecost following the resurrection of their Lord, it fulfilled one of its functions and led them into all truth, and showed them things to come. Further knowledge with the satisfaction which it brings awaited them, bringing with it fellowship and more incentive to worship him who in grace had done so much for them, bringing them out of darkness into marvelous light.
Only a year or two later there arose the Apostle Paul whose knowledge of the Purpose of God has been a great stimulus to those who have since believed. Much of his knowledge of the facts of Christian doctrine came to him by revelation and he became a great champion of truth, spreading the knowledge of God throughout the then known world. Thankfulness that he had been given the light of truth never left him, but still he wanted to know more. His aspiration for knowledge is summed up in his words to the Philippian brethren (Phil. 3:10): "That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable to his death." That is knowledge received only by experience, thankfulness, and worship of him who has so blessed us. Fullness awaits the time when we shall know even as we are known.
John 17:25 tells that the world does not know God, but John 17:23 affirms that they will when those who have been sanctified by the truth are made perfect in one. And then John 17:3 will be brought to fulfillment (and this appears to be a goal rather than a step): "that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent." With that knowledge comes eternal life. Knowledge, worship, and eternal life move along together. Of what purpose is life to man without knowledge of God to accompany it? Of what purpose would the knowledge be without life? With the knowledge of him who gave his Son, and knowledge of the Son who gave his life, must come worship and thankfulness. They cannot be separated: the goal of knowledge will be reached, and then the Samaritan woman and others will understand the full answer of John 4:10 to her question.
-B. J. Drinkwater
"But refuse profane and
old wives' fables, and exercise thyself
As St. Paul went about Greece, telling the glorious Gospel of the Unknown God, he noticed everywhere young men with determined faces, running, jumping, throwing the discus and javelin, or performing other athletic feats. Paul knew they were training for contests held in the valley Olympia, each intent on improving himself, well knowing the excellence required to gain the prized olive wreath. Those crowned in the quadrennial games received the plaudits of the spectators, and back home statues were erected in their honor, the chief places were given them in public gatherings, and many were exempted from taxes, and supported by public funds.
So to warn the godly of the seriousness of our own contest, St. Paul wrote: "Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So, run, that ye may obtain. And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air; but I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway" (1 Cor. 9:24-27).
Remembering the crowds watching these boys as they ran, stripped of their robes that would have impeded them, the Apostle also wrote: "Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us" (Heb. 12:1).
In our heading text he compares the Olympic contests with the Christian's fight against world, flesh and Devil, saying in effect: "Don't listen to the irreverent fictions of Jewish and heathen folklore, nor to gossip; exercise thyself rather unto godliness. For bodily exercise is of benefit for only a short time (until the flush of youth is gone and one's arms and legs are no longer supple), but godliness gives lasting benefits both in this life and that to come."
The word "exercise" in these verses is from the Greek gumnazo, meaning "to practice for the games." This Greek word has been transliterated into our language as "gymnastics" having the same meaning, "to train or exercise."
Before an athlete practiced the skill he wished to develop, he had to learn of what, the skill consisted and be taught how others had achieved the excellence for which they were crowned. So with. the Christian; he must learn what godliness is, determine he will be godly, and study the examples in the Bible of those who pleased God and how they did it. Exercise of the human body consists of doing the same thing over and over, trying each time to do better than before. So with godly exercise. We must think godly thoughts and do godly deeds, at first most imperfectly, but by repetition gaining skill in well doing.
Godliness means godlikeness, being devoted to God, to steadfastly believe in, to earnestly love and reverence him, and to sincerely and diligently observe God's commands -to have enlisted in the Christian race, and to have entered the narrow way that leads to, life. Godliness is more profitable than human attainments because by it we gain more in the present life and obtain part in the First Resurrection of the life which is to come. Godliness also prepares us to do the things that will be required in that life.
CONTRARY VIEWS CONSIDERED
Many think that while it might be profitable in the life which is to come, godliness definitely is unprofitable in this life. It interferes with success in this world. Trusting in God destroys one's self-reliance, and keeps one from aggressiveness in business; makes one so trustful people take advantage of him. If one loved his neighbor as himself, it interferes with salesmanship, for one couldn't urge a customer to buy things he could not afford, nor claim better quality and cover up weakness in the seller's goods, etc. Then they cite scripture: "Be careful for nothing, "Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth," and such texts to show that godliness is not profitable in this life.
To such arguments we reply that God has promised his children a hundred times as much in this life as they give up (Mark 10:30). The Bible is replete with promises such as "There is no want to them that fear [God]. The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger: but they that seek the Lord shall not want any good thing" (Psa. 34:9, 10); "There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling. For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways" (Psa. 91:10, 11); "Whatsoever he doeth shall prosper" (Psa. 1:3). Who wouldn't rather be heir to such promises even though for conscience' sake he lose a few dollars of dishonest or questionable profit. Matt. 16:26: "For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?"
Godliness does not encourage laziness: "Not slothful in business" (Rom. 12:11); "If any provide not for his own, . . . he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel" (1 Tim. 5:8). The great difference between the attitudes of the godly and godless toward earthly business and profits is illustrated by the cobbler who, when asked "What is your business?" replied, "My business is to serve God and I mend shoes to pay expenses while doing so." Oh, that Christians would always remember, whatever their earthly employment, that they are only holding their jobs to pay expenses; their real vocation is serving God.
Some say, "Religion is only for the poor, the unsuccessful in this life, the sick, crippled, and aged who gain solace for present disappointments in promises of golden streets and harps in heaven." This is as ridiculously untrue as it would be to say that all the ungodly are rich, successful and happy in this life. Who would class Jesus as an underprivileged person? The vast changes in the world since his day prove the greatness of his concepts. History says the teaching of Christianity throughout the Empire overthrew Pagan Rome, the most wicked government before or since Jesus' day. St. Paul, the foremost Christian missionary, so far from being "down and out," moved in the highest circles of Judaism. "An Hebrew of the Hebrews" he describes himself in Phil. 3:4-7. He also inherited from his father the special rights of Roman Citizenship, which he used before Festus, the Roman Governor of Judea, in the words, "I appeal to Caesar" (Acts 25:11). All such "gains" Paul renounced to become an Apostle of Christ, perhaps the most remarkable and influential character in history, next to Christ himself.
Compare Sir Isaac Newton, a godly man, with Voltaire the atheist. Newton wrote commentaries on Daniel and Revelation. On Dan. 12:4, which reads, "In the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased," he wrote, "I would not be surprised if in fulfillment of this text human knowledge would so increase that men would possibly travel at the rate of fifty miles an hour." Voltaire scornfully remarked on this: "Now look at the mighty mind of Newton . . . when he became an old man and got in his dotage, he began to study the book called the Bible, and in order to credit its fabulous nonsense he would have us believe that the knowledge of mankind will yet be so increased that we shall by and by be able to travel fifty miles an hour! Poor dotard."
People who say "there is no God" or flippantly "God is dead," and that all the godly are subnormal persons, are opposing the misconceptions of God and the false doctrines of the dark ages. If the religious leaders would study the Bible with the aid of better translations and earlier manuscripts uncovered since the start of the nineteenth century, they would find that Eternal Torment and Purgatorial flames are not taught by the Grand Old Book. Then these leaders could openly repudiate these libels against God and teach the Divine Plan of the Ages which Eph. 3:10, 11 (Diaglott) says is the present work of the Church, "In order that now may be made known to the governments and the authorities in the heavenlies, through the Congregation [Church] the much diversified wisdom of God, according to a Plan of the Ages, which He formed for the Anointed Jesus our Lord." Then the carping of unbelievers would be silenced.
PROFITABILITY OF GODLINESS IN THIS LIFE
There are four fundamental benefits of godliness in this life. The first, the baptism of God's holy spirit, is the greatest benefit enjoyed by Christians now. This gift initially came on the disciples at Pentecost, fifty days after Jesus' death. Acts 2:1-4 tells of a sound as of a rushing mighty wind filling the house and of cloven tongues of fire resting on their heads. Three and a half years later the holy spirit fell on Cornelius and his household when entrance into the Kingdom of heaven was opened up to Gentiles. We can only vaguely realize what a great thing God has done in giving us this faithful guide. This is what Jesus meant when he said, (John 14:23) "If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him." Think of that! God and Jesus coming and living within the godly! This lifts one from the ways of the ungodly and enables walk in newness of life. "If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new" (2 Cor. 5:17).
Preliminary to the gift of the holy spirit, the godly must be justified by faith, another present benefit.. This. could not be until after the Ransom had been provided at Calvary, accepted by God, and arrangement made for release of believers from the Adamic death penalty (Acts 17:30, 31). The fullness of justification is attained by a change from a sinful course of life to following after righteousness, and to steadfastly pursue this course though it encounter opposition and involve sacrifice. This is brought out in Rom. 12:1: "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service."
A third benefit is that the Bible is opened up to the godly so that they may have its teachings direct and illuminate their lives. It is the mirror referred to in 2 Cor. 3:18: "But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord."
The fourth great profit of godliness is in the effect that the holy spirit, justification by faith, and guidance of the Bible have on the life and character of the godly. Instead of continuing in the tarnished image of Father Adam, they are transformed into the image of Christ and have developed in them faith, courage, integrity, temperance, patience, brotherly kindness and Godlike love for neighbors and all men (2 Pet. 1:5-8).
COLLATERAL PROFITS IN THIS LIFE
In addition to the four basic benefits of godliness in the life that now is, there are many other related profits for the godly now, which in today's language would be called "fringe benefits." A few of these are spiritual freedom, peace, security, honor and power, pleasure and riches.
(To be concluded in next issue)
- B. F. Hollister
Is it proper for a Christian to have a creed?
It is not only proper for a Christian to have a creed; it would not be possible to be a Christian without one. We content ourselves here in quoting from Brother Russell, who wrote very helpfully on the subject years ago:
"The word creed comes from credo, and means I believe. It is entirely proper that every Christian have for himself a creed, a belief. And, if a number of Christians come to a unity of faith upon the lines of the Word of God, their assembling together for fellowship and communion is both proper and helpful, as the Bible declares. The general difficulty is that, when groups of Christians meet as brethren, they either make a written or on understood creed, which goes beyond the Word of God and includes human tradition; or else they ignore all faith, and make morality -good works -the only basis of fellowship. But, as the name indicates, Christians are believers in Christ, and not merely moralists. While, therefore, a creed is necessary, and he who has none has no belief, and would therefore be an unbeliever, and while in Christian fellowship harmony of faith is necessary to communion, all should see that the fellowship and faith of the early Church, under divine direction, were built upon the first principles of the doctrine of Christ; and nothing more nor less should be the basis of Christian fellowship here and now.... And since the credo or belief of each Christian professes to be built upon God's Word, it follows that each should be not only willing but ready at all times to change his belief for one more Scriptural, if such can be pointed out to him." - Reprints, p. R1578.
In another illuminating discussion Brother Russell himself raised the question: "Why not abandon all human systems and confessions, now used for tying men's tongues and consciences, and let each other stand free to study God's Word untrammelled, and to build, each for himself, such a creed as he shall find authorized in God's Word; adding to his creed or subtracting therefrom continually, as he continues to grow in grace and in knowledge and in love of God. This is the attitude which God designed; this is the liberty wherewith Christ made us all free. Why surrender our liberties and enslave our consciences and tongues to a sect, or the decisions of majorities in sects? If all of God's children were really free, thus, it would not be long before they would be at perfect oneness of heart and nearly at one in faith and work-the only true union."-Reprints, p. 1168.
- P. L. Read
The Annual Meeting of the Pastoral Bible Institute, due to be scheduled for Saturday, June 7, has been postponed to Saturday, September 20. Plans are now under way to hold it in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
We are making this early announcement: so that Institute members, who might wish to participate in conventions now being planned by Associated Bible Students in various parts of the country to be held during the summer months, will know that they need not reserve the June date for the Institute's Annual Meeting.
Further particulars as to the hour and place of meeting will be announced later.