P. J. Pazucha
Wanting something doesn't make it
happen. Michael Gorbachev has learned that the hard way. He lead the
Soviet Union through the morass of bureaucracy to the brink of major
social change, only to discover that history got ahead of him and by the
time you read this the Soviet Union as it has existed for seventy years
will be no more. Maybe Christians could learn a few lessons from him.
this issue the Herald enters its seventy fifth year of publication. What a
different world it is from that which spurred its publication.
Soviets cannot stop feeding their citizens to take time to organize a new
nation and followers of Jesus, too, have a primary mandate that cannot be
set aside while a few argue about technical points of biblical
interpretation. The Master's said: "...ye shall be my witnesses ... unto the uttermost part of
everyone seems to grasp, even if we don't always like to be witnesses.
Sometimes it is inconvenient. Other times it gets in the way of one's
is the part about being Jesus' witnesses
that seems hardest to implement. Don't look at the churches to see if
they are doing what Jesus said. That's too easy an out for us all. After
all, you or I cannot change their behavior. Look, instead, at yourself,
while I look at myself. Do you
to Jesus? Or do tell people your understanding about what God is going
to do in this world? There is a difference! Jesus told us to witness to
him. People still need to be fed. Our earthly life is short and our
resources are limited. Show people the Savior! He lives forever, and he
is the bread of heaven.
On the News Scene
the nations were angry, and thy wrath is come ... and that thou shouldest
... destroy them which destroy the earth" (Rev. 11:18). Have Bible Students overlooked the
prophetic importance of ecology, while concentrating on geo-political
history? English scientists recently predicted that unless the world
drastically changes it's management of oxygen resources, massive
suffocation will occur within 50 years. What about such influences? Is
it time to open new avenues of investigation? Think about it...
In This Issue
The Value of a Knowledge of God reminds us why the fellowship of footstep followers
is so special. May its promises assure you and spur you on to zealous
issues also presents the first installment of a new series on basic tenets
of Christian faith and practice. A Ransom For All, takes the form
of a question and answer column to treat this important teaching. Also on
doctrinal matters, we hope that Is the Holy Spirit a Person?, will
give new readers something to think about.
the greatest privilege of a Christian is The Privilege of Prayer,
and to share in his insight we recall the words of a brother who lived a
life of prayer. Another treat for those who are following in Jesus'
footsteps should be Called Saints. To be a Called Saint does not
imply that there is nothing for saints to do, and thus, If Ye Do These
Things, takes its place in this issue.
world is filled with what are called emotional and psychological
disorders. Believers have them too. We hope you will find practical
counsel in this month's Question Box, How Can A Christian Overcome
Trust In God will dare you to question the strength of your own
faith. If you find yourself lacking, then use the lessons you learned in
Privilege of Prayer to grow stronger in faith, trust, and hope.
From the Readers
together the Herald is as much a joy, as it is to hear from readers to
it. We try to present a balanced perspective. We accept your pats on the
back and your encouragement to spread the Gospel, but that is not the only
kind of letter we appreciate.
corrections, and "how dare yous" are also welcome. We choose
articles which we hope may help you see the world, the scriptures, or
yourself in a new light, and sometimes it may not always be a flattering
one. Occasionally we hit a nerve. If you write about character, some
brethren think their doctrines are neglected. Discuss doctrine and they
think we have neglected exhortation. Present new thoughts and others
are upset because the ideas are different from the ones they are
accustomed to. Some ideas bring new readers, others bring cancellations.
and sisters, we try to present facts and pertinent scriptural ideas.
Having done that, you
make decisions based on that information. Sometimes you will be
uncomfortable with your conclusions. That is unavoidable. Hard choices
must be made if you wish to walk in the footsteps of your master.
If you disagree with us, drop us a line.
and peace be multiplied unto you, through the knowledge of God, and of
Jesus Christ our Lord, according as his divine power hash given unto us
all things that pertain unto life
and godliness; through the
knowledge of him that hath called us by his own glory and virtue."
Peter 1:2,3, Siniatic Manuscript from
an article by:
To whom were these
words addressed? Are they instructions given to sinners? Is this the way
by which sinners approach God? No. These instructions are addressed to
those already justified through faith in the precious blood of Christ,
as indicated in the preceding verse. They are addressed -- "to them who have
like precious faith with us [the
the righteousness of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ" (2
Peter 1:1, Siniatic Manuscript).
To become a believer
in Christ Jesus -- even a justified and fully consecrated believer -- is
insufficient. There is to be progress in the new life just begun. Progress
should continue as long as we are in this tabernacle (2 Pet. 1:13) so
that if we are faithful, this work can be completed in the "first
resurrection." The Apostle does not mean annual revivals --
followed by annual backslidings -- but continuing progress in the new
life. This contradicts the experience of many who call themselves
Christians. Their thoughts are aptly expressed by the lines of the
The idea prevails that
Christians experience alternate periods of subtractions and additions of
grace and peace. First they are blessed, and then they lose the blessing.
They find the blessing again only to lose it another time. Why does this
idea prevail and why do so few understand the "multiplication"
principle which the Apostle mentions: "Grace and peace be multiplied
Many do not know
enough to be preserved in the grace and peace found through their primary
faith in their Lord as their Redeemer. Much more, they lack sufficient
knowledge to multiply their grace and peace. The Apostle Paul's words
apply to many believers, "And
l, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual,
but as unto carnal, even as unto
babes in Christ" (1
"...For when for
the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again
which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such
as have need of milk and not of strong meat" (Heb. 5:12).
One error often leads
a person to adopt other errors. The doctrine of eternal torment as the
penalty for the fall (from which only believers will escape) distorts the
judgment and misdirects the efforts of many sincere believers. The first
thought of some is for their personal escape from eternal torment. Their
second thought is to assist as many as possible to escape such an awful
eternity. With this idea as the mainspring of conduct, we cannot wonder
why so many work the hardest for the "saving of sinners,"
bringing them into the condition of being "babes in Christ."
After they become babes comparatively little is done to develop them in
the knowledge of God. They receive little help in growing up into
maturity in Christ. As babes they are fed the
milk of the word. They
are unused to strong meat so that when they attempt to consume it, they
are more likely to be choked by it than to be strengthened.
Building Upon A Proper Foundation
Apostle points out the course of development by which the believer, having
started in this pathway, can continue developing -- multiplying his grace
and peace. It is important, however, that the believer begin his path
correctly. He must be begotten by the word of truth (Col. 1:5) into the
faith which had been delivered unto the saints (Jude 3). It is this faith
which the Apostle here terms precious faith.
is not the faith of critics and theologians. Their faith is far from
precious. Their faith denies the fall of man, denies the ransom for man
and all necessity for it, and consequently denies the resurrection which
is based upon that ransom. Their "faith" consists in believing
in their own judgments as the criteria for truth and error, for they doubt
the testimony of Moses and the Prophets, and of the Lord and his
apostles. Those who build on this foundation are not the Apostle's
audience. We need not expect that their grace or peace will multiply. We
trust, however, that the majority of our readers are not of these. We
trust that you can sing these words with understanding:
The foundation upon which the
Scriptures teach us to build is faith in the righteousness of our Lord and
Savior Jesus Christ: faith that his sacrifice for sin was once for all, a
full and complete ransom for Adam and all his posterity, so that all of
these (in due time they shall all be brought to a knowledge of Christ) may
obtain cleansing and eternal life under the terms of the New Covenant.
Those who build upon this foundation may multiply their grace and peace.
How, you ask?
The Apostle answers, "through
the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord" (2
Pet. 1:2). At first it may seem that these words mean little, that
they indicate only our coming to know that there is a God and that there
is a Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. But the knowledge of God means more
than this. It means to have an intimate acquaintance with the Father and
the Son, a knowledge of the mind of Christ (Phil. 2:5) which is the full
representation of the mind of the Father. We learn these things by
studying the Word of God, by discerning through that word the principles
which govern the Divine conduct, the way in which God's justice, wisdom,
love, and power operate. These are progressive studies. Something may be
learned the first day of our Christian experience, but the end of the
first year should show progress in knowing the Divine mind, and subsequent
years should show further increase.
As our intimate knowledge of God's
plan and character increases so must our grace increase. Those who do not
attempt to live in harmony with what they have seen of God's character
will soon lose interest in such knowledge. Those who have the interest
which leads to further study must continue to grow in grace. As they
grow in grace, they will grow in peace. Peace is also progressive. We
had peace when we first found the Lord and realized the forgiveness of
our sins; but those who made progress in the knowledge of the Divine plan
and character find their peace increasing. Those who have progressed some
time in the good way speak of it in the language of the apostles. It is
realized in their hearts as the "peace
of God which passeth all understanding" (Phil. 4:7).
Intimacy With God
Divine power in all things pertaining
to the things of life and godliness (2 Pet. 1:3) is imparted to us as we
grow in the knowledge of God. What an assurance! This statement of the
importance of knowledge in Christian development reminds us of the words
of our Lord, "And this is
life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus
Christ, whom thou hast sent' (John 17:3). To know God as the
Apostle here explains signifies an intimate acquaintance with him who
called us by his own glory and virtue. Only as we understand his greatness
and perfection are we able to estimate our corresponding littleness and
imperfection; only as we see his gracious beauty can we become acquainted
with grace and virtue. The influence of this knowledge and fellowship
with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ, has a cleansing and sanctifying
effect upon our hearts. Thus the Apostle prays for some to grow in the
knowledge of God so that they would be able to comprehend, along with
all the saints, the extent of the love of Christ which surpasses human
understanding (Phil. 4:7). Those who, even dimly, behold God's character
are changed by it -- from glory to glory (2 Cor. 3:18).
This thought is illustrated
photographically. No photograph exists without a piece of sensitized
film. Not any piece of film can be used, it must be prepared for that
purpose. Our hearts, likewise, must be prepared by repentance and
justifying faith in God and our Lord Jesus Christ. Only after this can we
receive the image of the divine character upon our heart. The next step in
making a photograph is to place the film in a place to receive focused
light -- considering distance and position. Similarly, the heart must be
in the proper attitude. Full consecration to God and a desire to have his
will done in our lives are necessary to receive the impress of his
character. The third step is to remove all obstruction from the path of
the light, allowing it to shine on the film. Once again there is a
counterpart. The knowledge of God scatters all darkness -- error and sin
-- shining upon our features and impressing us with his character. The
photographic film must then be processed, subjected to chemicals to
develop the likeness on the film. Again, in our hearts there is a
developing work which corresponds to that of the film. We require fiery
trials (1 Pet. 4:12) which develop the likeness of God in us. Finally,
we find that while photographs may
be taken without the use of precious
metals (gold and silver), their image is not retained as long unless
precious materials are used. As we have seen elsewhere, gold is an apt
representation of God's nature, and silver is an appropriate
representation of truth. Only as the likeness of our Lord is fixed in our
hearts upon the basis of truth and the divine nature can a lasting
likeness be expected (Rom. 8:29).
Darkness Hates Light
The world does not know God (Rom.
1:21). Evidently, a great many professing believers also do not know
him. Paul makes this point, saying that the god of this world (2 Cor. 4:4)
is interested in hindering unbelievers from obtaining that
understanding of the Lord's character and plan which will impress itself
upon their hearts. He wants to prevent the light of the glorious gospel
from shining upon them. Here is a constant battle. The dark is fighting
against the light, as our Lord explained, "For
every one that doeth evil hateth
the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved"(John
3:20). Those who obey God are spoken of as the children of
light (1 Thess. 5:5). After their hearts have been impressed with the
image of the Lord, such become light bearers to others. Shining out to
those with whom they come in contact, they reflect the light of the divine
character which is as yet unseen and unappreciated by the world at large.
Today the Lord's people are like
lights set upon a hill. Their light shines into the darkness, and the
darkness does not appreciate it (John 1:5). It was true of our Master, and
it will be true of us. But of the time of his kingdom it is written,
"Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of
their Father" (Matt. 13:43). Then shall "the
sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings..."
(Mal. 4:2). This will be the great Millennial day. As a result
of the church's shining then, we are assured that all darkness will
disappear and that the knowledge of the Lord will fill the earth (Isa.
In order to obtain this multiplying
knowledge, God gave us exceeding great and precious promises (2 Pet. 1:4)
for encouragement. Many of our fellow Christians know little of these
promises. If we inquire about the faith of many persons, we are told that
their belief is that by the grace of God, if they are faithful, they will
escape an eternity of torment and go to heaven. Many would add, if
prodded, that if they could just get into heaven they would be
What manner of answer is this? Do such
know nothing of the "exceeding
great and precious promises" of God towards his faithful?
Unfortunately, it seems they do not, and they are left to ask,
"What are these promises? Who knows about them?"
Having These Promises Dearly Beloved
Those who follow the pathway Peter
marks out have the promises. These multiply their grace and peace through
a growing, intimate knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. These seek a
clearer understanding of God's character and plan. The hearts of these
believers are submissive and impressionable, they are eager to be
transformed into the divine image -- as they see it in the likeness of the
express image of the Father: the only begotten son (Rom. 8:29). These
wonderful promises stand before such persons as the light of their
lives. To all others the Word of God is but -- a dark and meaningless
What Are the Promises?
There are many, but we will mention a
now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be:
but we know that when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall
see him as he is" (I John 3:2).
go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I
will come again, and receive you unto myself" (John 14:2,3).
I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am;
that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me" (John
him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I
also overcame and am set down with my Father in his throne" (Rev.
they shall be mine, saith the Lord of Hosts, in that day when I make up my
jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth
him" (Mal. 3:17).
our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more
exceeding and eternal weight of glory" (2 Cor. 4:17).
if children then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so
be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together"
to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled, and that fadeth not
away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God
through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time"
(1 Pet. 1:4,5).
he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give
power over the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron".
(Rev. 2:26, 27).
him who loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, and hath
made us kings and priests unto God and his Father" (Rev. 1:5, 6).
hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the
earth" (Rev. 5:10).
These kings and priests are to reign
according to the original promise made to God's faithful, "and
in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed" (Gen.
12:3). One more promise is that Israel is to obtain mercy and blessing
through the dominion and mercy of these kings and priests,
"For God hath
concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all" (Rom.
God's Love Surpasses Knowledge
All these promises are summarized in
one statement by Peter. Through these precious promises God determines
to give to some who were at one time children of wrath the divine nature
(2 Pet. 1:4). Oh what a promise is here! How exceedingly great and
precious this is! Who would dare imagine such a thing had not God
authorized such hope. We might have reason to hope that our human creature
would be perfected, restoring the earthly image of God. Possibly, as
some have sung, we could dream to be like the angels and to stand with
them. But although the angelic nature is superior to the human our God
has not been content with offering his elect even this wonderful
possibility. In his grace and through the wealth of riches at his
disposal, he has planned a reward beyond the flight of any human fancy.
He has promised to this little flock -- to whom it is his good pleasure
to give the kingdom -- the Bride, the Lamb's wife, a share in divine glory
and the divine nature of her Lord, as well as a share in his heavenly
Such knowledge is too wonderful for
us. We do not know why God would exalt any creature to be like him. We are
creatures of the dust, no matter how wonderful men are. But this and all
God's gracious promises exhibit the heights and breadth of the love of our
God, which surpasses human knowledge.
As our Creator is revealed to us,
partly through our Lord and Redeemer, we come to learn more of his
character. The more we learn the more we are willing to "press
toward the mark" (Phil. 3:14) for whatever he might be
pleased to reveal of himself to us. We find that we yearn to be like him.
We want to please him and to be acceptable -- actually and for ever.
What other attitude can we have if we appreciate the exceeding great and
There is a real and proper
inspiration found in these promises. Love, obedience, and self sacrifice
suddenly seem less difficult to us because he called us to be like him.
The Apostle said it best, "He
who hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure" (1
The Apostle Paul referred to this
intimate knowledge of the Lord when he wrote to Philippi, saying,
doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the
knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord ... That I may know him, and the power
of his resurrection [the First or Chief Resurrection], and the
fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death [a
full surrender which is possible to those only who know Him well and have
drunk in His spirit]" (Phil. 3:8,10).
Lewis didn't talk about percentage giving. He said the only safe rule is
to give more than we can spare. Our charities should pinch and hamper us.
we live at the same level of affluence as other people who have our
income, we are probably giving away too little.
to charity include greed for luxurious living, greed for money itself,
fear of financial security, and showy pride.
- Kathryn Ann Lindskoog
there is one God, one mediator also between God and men, himself man,
Christ Jesus, who gave himself a ransom for all; the testimony to be borne
in its own times."
Timothy 2:5,6, ASV
Scripture citations are given from the American Standard Version.
Question: What is a ransom?
Answer: A ransom may be defined as the price necessary
to secure the release of a person, property, etc. It is most frequently
applied to cases of captivity or detention. In religious matters it
specifically applies to the price necessary to release man from sin and
Question: What is the scope of those persons needing a
Answer: "Therefore, as through one man sin
entered into the world, and death through sin; and
so death passed unto all men, for that all sinned" (Rom.
"Jehovah looked down from heaven upon the
children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, that did
God. They are all gone aside; they are together become
filthy; there is none that doeth good, no,
not one" (Psa. 14:2,3).
Question: Has a "ransom" price been provided?
Answer: "For the Son of
man also came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give
his life a ransom for many" (Mark
"Faithful is the saying, and worthy of
all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save
sinners..." (1 Tim. 1:15).
Question: For whom is this God -- provided ransom
Answer: "For the love of
Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that one died for all,
therefore all died; and he died for all, that they
that live should no longer live unto themselves, but
unto him who for their sakes died and rose
again" (2 Cor. 5:14, 15).
"And l, if I be lifted up from the earth, will
draw all men unto myself" (John 12:32).
"For there is one God, one mediator also
between God and men, himself man, Christ Jesus, who gave
himself a ransom for all; the testimony
to be borne in its own times" (1 Timothy 2:5,6).
"But the scripture shut up all
things under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be
given to them that believe" (Gal. 3: 22).
Question: How does someone take advantage of the ransom
price provided in Christ Jesus?
Answer: "No man can come to me, except the
Father that sent me draw him: and I will raise him up in the last day. It
is written in the prophets, 'And they shall all be taught of
God.' Everyone that hath heard from the Father, and hath learned, cometh
unto me" (John 6: 44,45)
" . . . ye should walk worthily of
God, who calleth you into his own
kingdom and glory" (I Thess. 2: 12).
Question: Does that mean that men have to do something
to gain everlasting life?
Answer: -- "He that believeth on
me hath everlasting life" (John 6: 47, KJV).
"Whosoever shall call upon the name of the
Lord shall be saved. How then
shall they call on him
in whom they have not believed? and how
shall they believe in him whom they have not heard?..."
"Jesus saith unto him,
'I am the way, and the truth, and the life: no one cometh unto the Father,
but by me"' (John 14:6).
"...be it known unto you ... that in the name of
Jesus Christ of Nazareth... And in none other is
there salvation: for neither is there any other name under heaven, that
among men, wherein we must be saved" (Acts 4:10,12).
"For other foundation can no man
lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ" (1 Cor. 3:11).
Question: Will every person at this time
accept the ransom God has provided through Jesus Christ?
Answer: No. "And ye have not his
word abiding in you: for whom he sent, him ye believe not" (John
even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled in them that perish: in whom
the god of this
world hath blinded the minds
of the unbelieving,
that the light of
the gospel of
the glory of
is the image of
not dawn upon
them" (2 Cor. 4:3-4).
he said unto them, 'Unto you is given the mystery of
the kingdom of God.
but unto them that are without, all things are done in parables: that
seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and
not understand; lest haply they should turn again, and it should be
forgiven them"' (Mark 4:11-12).
the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. And those by the way
side are they that have heard; then cometh the devil, and taketh away the
word from their heart, that they may not believe and be saved" (Luke
If all do
not at this time accept the ransom for all, how is it that salvation
obtains for all?
Answer: "But as touching the resurrection of the dead, have ye
not read that which was spoken unto you by God, saying, 'I am the God of
Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob'? God is not the God
of the dead, but of the living" (Matt. 22:31, 32).
will ransom them from the power of Sheol [the grave]; I will redeem them
from death: O death, where are thy plagues? O Sheol [grave], where is thy
destruction?... (Hosea 13:14).
dead shall live; my dead bodies shall arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell
in the dust,, for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast
forth the dead" (Isaiah 26:19).
the glory of Jehovah shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it
together,, for the mouth of Jehovah hath spoken it" (Isaiah
hath made bare his holy arm in the eyes of all the nations; and all the
ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God" (Isaiah 52:10).
the angel said unto them, 'Be not afraid; for behold, I bring you good
tidings of great joy which shall be to all the people...' (Luke
the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world!"' (John
spake unto them, saying, I am the light of the world. he that followeth
me shall not walk in the darkness, but shall have the light of life"
verily, I say unto you, The hour cometh, and now is, when the dead shall
hear the voice of the Son of God; and they that hear shall live... Marvel
not at this: for the hour cometh, in which all that are in the tombs shall
hear his voice" (John 5:25, 28).
appears, on the basis
scriptures, to be two different salvations. Is this true? Do the
of believers and
another group called "all" or "many"?
Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of
God: and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint -- heirs with
Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may also be glorified
together" (Rom. 8:16,17, KJv).
seek ye his kingdom, and these things shall be added unto you. Fear not,
little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the
kingdom"(Luke 12:31, 32). "For ye are all sons of God, through
faith, in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ
did put on Christ ... And if ye are Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed,
heirs according to promise" (Gal. 3:26, 27, 29).*
See also Romans 8:16-22; Rev. 1:6; 5:10
part does the promise to Abraham play in the ransom?
Gospel Age will be with Jesus during the next age to serve him in any
capacity. That age will be the kingdom
foretold by all the Holy Prophets. **
because they are Abraham's seed, are they all children: but, In Isaac
shall thy seed be called" (Rom. 9:7).
he to whom it was said, In Isaac shall thy seed be called" (Heb.
11:18). "Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are children of
promise" (Gal. 4:28). "...who would have all men to be saved,
and come to the knowledge of the truth" (1 Tim. 2:4).
ye are an elect race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for
God's own possession, that ye may show forth the excellencies of him who
called you out of darkness into his marvellous light; who in times past
were no people, but now are the people of God.. who had not obtained
mercy, but now have obtained mercy" (1 Peter 2:9, 10).
For a complete reading of the promise given to Abraham, see: Gen. 12:3;
18:18; 22:18; 26:4; 28:4,14; 21:12
Question: In summation
whom is the ransom?
Answer: "For since by man came death, by man came also the
resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ
shall all be made alive" (1 Cor. 15:21,22).
Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give
his life a ransom for many" (Matt. 20:28).
the earnest expectation of the creation waiteth for the revealing of the
sons of God... For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth
in pain together until now" (Rom. 8:19,22).***
See also Isa. 2:2-4; 35; Isa. 40:5; Joel 2:28
minds talk about ideas,
minds talk about things,
minds talk about
thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the
inheritance of the saints in light." - Colossians 1:12
them through thy truth: thy word is truth." John 17:17
Fred A. Essler
do so many people think that reading the Bible is a waste of time? Try as
they might, they cannot understand what they read nor can they decipher
any consistent message in its contents?
is a reason for this. The Scriptures, the New Testament in particular,
were primarily written for one group. Its message concentrates of areas of
concern only to them. Note the address of the letter of Paul to the
Romans: to "...all that
be at Rome," is qualified by the words "beloved of God, called to be saints."
Similarly, the first epistle to the Corinthians is written to
of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus,
called to be saints."
is a saint? Men generally think it refers to someone canonized by a
council of the Roman Catholic Church. Such are judged as having become,
during his earthly lifetime, almost sinless. Sometimes they are persons
who rendered service to the church or who were martyred for their faith.
the Apostle Paul, writing most of the epistles which constitute the New
Testament, used "saint" to designate all who "...call
upon the name of the Lord Jesus Christ." The expression "called to be saints" suggests that this calling
is to be a saint in the afterlife. Observe that the words "to
be" in the Authorized Version are in italics. Such italicized words
were supplied by the translators to give what they considered to be
fluency in reading. These italicized words are not found in the
ancient manuscripts. Therefore, omitting the words "to be," we
read the text as it was written, "called saints." This calling
applies both now and in the afterlife. Such an interpretation is
confirmed by letter to the Philippians (Phil. 1:1) which was written
all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi." This
text clearly is not meant for a special few who might be outstanding
in their worship and service because the salutation goes on to mention
such special ones individually, the bishops and deacons.
What Is a Saint?
language includes words from other tongues -- Latin, German, French,
Greek. The Old Testament lists about 8000 Hebrew words, while an English
dictionary lists over 240,000 words. In English we often draw upon a
variety of words to express subtle shades of meaning. Many languages do
not have this variety and have only one word with which to express the
idea of a "saint"; that is, one who is "made holy."
"Saint" comes from the Latin sanctus, from which also derive the
words sanctify and sanctification.
as used in the Old Testament may help us understand what the word
"saint" means. Things, days, persons, and offices were
sanctified. They were set apart for a specific purpose in the worship
was a sanctified man. This was not because he was specially righteous (who
was it who made the golden calf and led in its worship?) but because God
set him apart for the High Priesthood. Aaron was the only person who could
enter the Holy of Holies on the Day of Atonement with the blood of the sin
offering. Aaron alone could wear the garments of "glory and
beauty" which themselves were holy garments, sanctified to be worn on
tabernacle, with all its components, was sanctified for no other purpose
than for carrying out the rituals of worship. The ground on which the
tabernacle was erected was sanctified as long as the tabernacle occupied
days were sanctified, such as the seventh day, the new moon, the passover
week, the Day of Atonement, etc. The nation of Israel was sanctified -- a
holy nation set apart from all other peoples of the earth to be witnesses
for one God and to be light bearers of the law of righteousness and truth
to other nations (Deut. 4:1-8; Isa. 53:10).
this understanding of what it means to be sanctified to the expression "all
who call upon the name of the Lord Jesus Christ" A saint is one who is holy, set apart, sanctified for
the worship and service of God.
Adam Was Not a Saint
"God created man in his own image" (Gen.
"And God saw everything that he had made and, behold, it was very
good" (Gen. 1:31).
he was pronounced "very good" (as though proceeding fresh from
the creative power of God) Adam was not a saint.
order to understand why Adam was not a saint we must understand the
situation in Eden before the temptation and disobedience. Our first
parents simply obeyed the laws implanted in them just as every order of
creation acts according to the laws of its nature.
is illustrated by the robin that migrates south as cold weather
approaches and north again as Spring arrives. Who taught it this cycle?
Who taught it to build its nest in the crotch of a pear tree, or apple, or
cherry, and not to put its nest in the swaying branches of the willow as
do the orioles? Robins build nests just like other robins have done from
the beginning of creation: with bits of grass, hair, string, or whatever
material they can find. There are capable engineers and artisans in
the world, but not one of them can build a nest like a robin, who has no
education and no instruction -- responding only to an implanted law
within its being.
it was with the man Adam. Before his disobedience he obeyed the laws of
his nature. He did not try to be perfect, he was perfect in all his
created parts and instincts. When God tested him Adam failed to set
himself apart to his Creator's expressed will. By this he deliberately
disobeyed. Thus, Adam was not a saint, not a sanctified or "set
Adam Struggled and Fell
there is a strong will to live there is no desire to die, to cease to
exist. Life abhors death. No young person who enjoys the vigor of life
contemplates dying. Every fiber of their being results in living.
much more would Adam have clung to life. Adam possessed an undeteriorated
life force and unlimited time in which to investigate the secrets of the
earth, of nature, and of the universe of which he was a part. All these he
could enjoy with the sweetness of communion with his Creator. His every
instinct would be to live!
transgression in Eden was not merely that Eve ate an apple, gave one to
Adam, and then God sentenced them to death for these actions. God did
not arbitrarily penalize Adam and Eve. Quite to the contrary. Adam and Eve
disobeyed God and the terms he gave them for continued life. They thus
estranged themselves from the Source of their life. They were penalized
upon the basis of their actions. God had told them: "In the day thou eatest thereof thou
shaft surely die" (Gen. 2:17), and die they did.
must have struggled terribly to bring himself to do what he knew to be
contrary to the expressed will of his Creator; contrary to his own
instincts. We do not know how long this struggle lasted. Adam yielded to
disobedience. In yielding, he introduced a seed of disobedience which has
been passed on from parent to child ever since: we are all "sold
under sin." Disease, calamity, death: these are the results of
estrangement with God, the source of all life. "In Adam all
How Do We Become Saints?
sinned and come short of the glory of God." These words being true how do we become
saints? First we must realize that we are children of wrath (cp. Eph.
2:1-3). There must be a change of nature if we are to live. "Except a man be born again, he
cannot see the kingdom of God" (John 3:3). The
adamic nature is blind to spiritual truth (1 Cor. 2:14) and is not
inclined to subject itself to God's authority (Rom. 8:6-8). In fact, a
man's nature is opposed to God. This change of nature is not a reformation
of the old -- which Paul calls the old man. Nor is this change the old
nature with a better, informed mind. We must be transformed, completely
changed over to a new mind, a new will, a new heart (Rom. 12:1,2).
and where does this occur? We might illustrate with the story of Moses and
the burning bush (Ex. 3:4-6). Moses heard a voice speaking to him:
"'Do not come any closer,' God said. 'Take off your sandals, for the
place where you are standing is holy ground."' So, the ground on
which we stand before God is holy: not the material earth but the
spiritual ground of our acceptance before God.
"Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that
is in Christ Jesus: whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation [from the Greek word meaning
"propitiatory" or "mercy seat"] through faith in his blood" (Rom. 3:24,25).
is the secret of reconciliation. God recognizes the sacrifice of Christ
because God sent the son into the world to accomplish our redemption.
Being aware of our estrangement from God, we confess our faith in
Christ's sacrifice as the basis of reconciliation. Here we meet God and
God meets us. Truly holy ground, but spiritual, not earthly. Christ
assumed the place of the sinful nature and "was
made a sin -- offering for us, that we might be made the righteousness
of God in him" (2
not only died for our sins, he was also raised for our justification
(Rom. 4:25). Being baptized into Christ signifies having been raised with
him to walk in a new life, a dedicated, a consecrated life. Henceforth we
are not to "walk
after the flesh, but after the spirit" (Rom. 8:1,
4). This constitutes us saints, sanctified ones, set apart ones.
A New Creation
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). So simply, we are made new. What about
that old man that we still have to deal with? The Apostle tells us what
off ... the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts;
and be renewed in the spirit of your mind; and that ye put on the new man,
which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness (Eph.
not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his
deeds; and have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after
the image of him that created him" (Col. 3:9,10).
think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by
human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth.
But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose
the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly
things of this world and the despised things -- and the things that are
not -- to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before
him (1 Cor.
saints are called from the lowest strata of society, but they stand on
equal footing before God with the fairest of those who have responded to
the call to sanctification (Rom. 12:1,2). For each human being Christ
Jesus is made their wisdom, their righteousness, their sanctification,
and their redemption (1 Cor. 1:30). It is doing the will of God from the
heart that marks one as a saint, a new creation, no matter how imperfectly
the will of God is done.
incident from Jesus' life might well illustrate the point. He had been
teaching in a home and ...while
he yet talked to the people ...one said unto him, "behold thy mother
and thy brethren stand without, desiring to speak to thee." But he
answered and said unto him... "Who is my mother? and who are my
brethren?" And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and
said, "Behold my mother and my brethren! For whosoever shall do the
will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister,
and mother" (Matt.
not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the
lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of
unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that
are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of
righteousness unto God" (Rom.
"let not" implies that we are now in a position to make a
decision as to whom we shall obey. In times past we did not submit
ourselves to God. We were not even concerned with such submission.
Previous to our reconciliation we were under the law or rule of sin, "fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the
mind, and were by nature the children of wrath, even as
others" (Eph. 2:3).
even though we strove against sin and uncleanness, we were aware that
because of our weak will we were unable to lift ourselves out of the
degrading tendencies we had because of our adamic nature. The habits
acquired over years broke any resistance we had to our failures. We had
yielded ourselves "...servants
to uncleanness and to iniquity" (Rom. 6:19) which always resulted in more iniquity.
We were prey to all kinds of wickedness because of our fallen nature,
accentuated by our willful ways. We were "like a city that is broken down,
a strong wall has to be erected -- a tendency to resist temptation and
to obey the will of God when an issue involving that will is placed
before us. What we have in Christ is the new spirit of life, a spirit
that helps our infirmities (Rom. 8:26), for:
of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up
Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in
you" (Rom. 8:11).
is adequate power to give victory over each temptation.
is no sin to be tempted. The old man, though counted as dead (Rom.
6:11,12), does not submit to the new mind of the spirit without
resistance. Each temptation is an opportunity to exercise godliness and to
gain victory over the old man.
allow the Lord to build up a wall of resistance against yielding, and thus
shall you grow in grace and in the knowledge of God. Fortify the new mind
in the will of God. One may not realize it at first, but "it
in you both to will and to do
of his good
the very God
sanctify you wholly" (1
thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass. -
pray? Prayer implies that a person feels they have enough intimacy in
their relationship with God that they are welcome in his presence. This
two way relationship explains the scriptural picture of prayer as sweet
incense. Revelation (Rev. 5:8) portrays the prayers of saints as appeals
poured out to God which God accepts as though he were a parent receiving
the gift of his child.
can pray? Prayer fulfills a purpose and only some of mankind can benefit
from that purpose. Anyone who has forsaken sin and has accepted Christ
Jesus as their Savior is eligible to approach God's throne. That approach
is to facilitate a specific purpose: that they "may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time
of need" (Heb. 4:16).
those who are accepted in the Beloved can call Jehovah by the endearing
term "father." This was the pattern that Jesus gave us
-- "Our Father which art in heaven" (Luke
It is a relationship that belongs to those who are adopted as God's
children out of the alienation of sin. This Paul explains in detail in
Romans (especially Romans 8) which you may wish to review at your
this background let's review the basic assumptions that accompany a
voice uplifted in prayer. Prayer is an act of faith in Jehovah. Prayer
is a realization of mankind's dependence upon God. If you pray you are
acknowledging that you have been reconciled to God through Christ Jesus.
Not only is one acknowledging their reconciliation, they are also
admitting that they accept it by faith, that is, they do not doubt that
God has forgiven them if they have approached him in the appointed way:
through Jesus Christ the Lord.
more is meant when one opens their heart in prayer. To pray is to admit
that you are part of a family. Jesus taught us to pray to "Our
Father..." Therefore, it is assumed that whoever approaches God
will have some interest in the other members of God's family. (In fact,
the degree of your interest is something that should grow as the believer
spends time in secret with God.) If you were formerly selfish you must now
put aside your concern for self if you think to approach the Lord of all
creation. You must realize that you are one of God's many children and
they share the same privilege of access to God that you enjoy. There is a
special kinship here, one to be enjoyed and nurtured. God's people can
approach him alone, or when they assemble together.
to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music
in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our
Lord Jesus Christ (Eph. 5:19,20, NIV).
Prayer changes as a believer changes. Growth
in grace, in knowledge, and in love will deepen your appreciation of
prayer. It will never replace the serious study of God's Word as a source of understanding God's diversity and
complexity. Prayer will, however, bring wisdom to the understanding you
gain by study. Study teaches you what God is and does; prayer gives form
to your appreciation for him. A wondrous transformation takes place as you
convert what you have read into thanksgiving for his mercies, into
communion about your trials, and into assurances to God of your
confidence in his biblical promises and in his power to fulfill them all. "Be
pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will
for you in Jesus Christ" (1
Not My Will
person does not know what to pray about immediately upon accepting the
Lord Jesus Christ as their Savior. A person learns what to pray about as
they learn about God. God's love and purposes are more expansive than
anything you can imagine. That is why you are invited to ask for anything
you choose with the assurance that God will answer your prayer. Note, however, the provision in this carte blanche
invitation. We have already described who may approach God in confidence.
The Lord knows that all such persons will ask according to his will.
Hence, the promise is only made to those who are in Christ and in whom the Word of promise abides
Anyone who truly accepts Christ will learn, in coming to that acceptance,
that God's ways are higher than their own (Isa. 55:8) and that they are to
be preferred in every way. That is why the sentiment, "Nevertheless, not my will, but thine, be
22:42), so often finds its way into effective prayers.
you are trying to guide your life by God's revealed will, prayer will
become increasingly important in your life. "In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your
paths straight" (Prov. 3:6, NASB). "Delight
yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart" (Psa.
"attitude" of prayer should not replace the more formal,
private, approach to the throne of grace on bended knee. Whoever does not
embrace this privilege misses a great blessing ordained by God for their
blessing and assistance in the narrow way of discipleship to Christ
Lord spent time alone in prayer and we do well to copy him. Some of his
prayers were public. These we have recorded for our benefit. They
exemplify the special fellowship we too can enjoy when a group of
believers approach the throne of grace together.
prayer has sunk in, its exclusivity and its access to the Almighty will
take on ever deeper meaning. Not only so, the privilege of prayer will be
held with greater reverence.
one sacrifice was all sufficient. It atones for our past sins. Also, by
his continuing priesthood, it cleanses us from our failures along the
way to the Kingdom. God could apply Jesus' merit to these blemishes and
excuse us for them without requiring us to mention them at all. For our
sake he chose not to do things that way. We must apply for forgiveness
for our failures in the name of Jesus. In doing so, we benefit as
believers. We learn to recognize our failures and by that alertness are
better able to wage war against them. We are reminded of our dependence on
Christ's precious blood, and are humbled in the process. Finally,
appreciating our own debt to God's forgiveness, we should grow
correspondingly more generous and merciful towards our own debtors.
chose conditions for prayer that point us in the direction of
righteousness and which assist us in our pursuit of a Christlike
character. Only the Christlike will be fit to be inheritors with Jesus of
the Kingdom. The trials we endure are designed to form in us the
"New Creature" which
says God is creating in us. Therefore, it is not appropriate for us to
pray that God would spare us from them. "If you are not disciplined and everyone
undergoes discipline, then you are illegitimate children, and not true
Teach Us To Pray
you ever heard it said that "no one needs instruction in how to
pray"? This idea, growing in popularity, is not taught by the New
are proper and improper prayers. Mistakes have been made as to who may
pray and as to what may be properly prayed for. In Luke 11 our Lord
outlines a proper form of prayer. It begins with praise and thanksgiving
and proceeds to expressions of confidence in God and in the promises of
his Kingdom. Following that come acknowledgments of the believer's
dependence upon God: upon his daily provisions. The prayer ends with
confidence in God's power and his goodness to protect, and ultimately to
deliver, his child.
is the general form which our Lord commends to us. It is a proper way to
is interesting to note that the Lord does not wait until we become
proficient in using either language or the forms of petitioning him.
is generously understanding so that we can come to him imperfectly, with
stammering tongues, to confide in him our devotion and appreciation in any
way we please. "In
the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we
ought to pray for, but the Spirit intercedes for us..." (Rom.
are expected to ask for God's blessings so that in asking we may feel our
need. Having asked, we then learn to look for God's response. This dual
influence affects us every time we ask and it strengthens our progress
towards Christlikeness. We are encouraged to seek God's keeping power in
trouble and his supervision in all our affairs so that we continually
approach God daily, hourly, even moment by moment. Watching and praying
in this mood, we learn to apply to ourselves his scriptural promises with
greater confidence. "And
we know that all things God works for the good of those who love him, who
have been called according
to his purpose" (Rom.
achieve this trust, rest assured that blessings are on the way. Sometimes
they come one way, sometimes another. You may find that they do not come
in the ways you anticipated, and frequently you will find that they are
larger than you requested.
experience teaches us that severe trials and disappointments work out
great changes in character. The work of the holy Spirit probably could not
proceed as well were those experiences less severe.
this reason, patience is important when you pray. Wait patiently for
blessing and seek it out so that you recognize his blessing when he
answers your prayer. What is the holy Spirit like? You will remember it to
be meek, gentle, patient, longsuffering, kind, and loving. Considering
these characteristics, one might ask, How else could God work these traits
into our personality if he did not allow us the experiences which will
is multifaceted. One aspect of prayer is communion with God. Our modern
life is very efficient and people display a marvelous enthusiasm for work,
but our activity has come at serious cost: spiritual shallowness. In part,
this condition arises among people for whom prayer is an occasional act
and not a habitual attitude.
is easy to associate prayer with special postures or requests with
specific wants. To Jesus prayer was communion or fellowship with his
Father. He prayed with such power that his disciples asked him to teach
them to pray as he did. They observed that prayer transformed him; his
conscious joy was so great that at times his physical appearance changed
from the sheer glory of it.
eight days after Jesus said this, he took Peter, John and James with him
and went up onto a mountain to pray. As he was praying, the appearance of
his face changed, and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning
(Luke 9:28,29, NIV).
our Lord underscored the true communion of prayer. He was undisturbed by
life's problems, those same kind of problems which so often confuse and
preoccupy us. Prayer brought him serenity, joy, vision and peace because
he abode in the presence of God. Jude expresses the same thought: "Keep
yourselves in the love of God" (Jude 21).
Daniel's Noble Example
Old Testament contains a striking example of this aspect of prayer. The
sixth chapter of Daniel describes the prophet's way of dealing with a
crisis in his life (Dan. 6:10-23). Daniel's enemies were scheming
to destroy him, but even after their new law was sanctioned by the king he
worshiped exactly as he had done before. Three times a day he knelt before
the Lord in prayer, thanksgiving, and supplication. This he did with his
windows open toward Jerusalem, expecting that the seventy years of
Jerusalem's desolation were about to be fulfilled.
closing his eyes in prayer after he had retired to rest was not enough for
Daniel, even though many people living under the greater light of the
Gospel Age and its privileges seem satisfied to do just that. Daniel had a
great God. His God was worthy of reverence and worship and Daniel was
man enough to appreciate that it was a privilege to commune with his
Creator. Daniel saw no shame in being seen bowing his knee to the Almighty
and he was unwilling to assume a less humble position before God than he
assumed toward earthly kings.
happens when you are tired and weary from the day's activities? Many
people just decide that they are too tired to pray, or they say that
another time would be better for their concentration. This is one way to
show God that we are overcharged with the cares of this life. Can it be
that someone who knows that their life has been purchased by the
precious blood of Jesus can be so engrossed with this world that they
forget him from whom comes every good and perfect gift? God forbid that we
should ever fall to such a state!
reasons are possible for laxity in prayer and it may be that sin lies at
the door. A person who has been doing things they should not do might not
want to enter the presence of the Great Judge. Perhaps some other source
of coldness has affected them which seems to distance them from God and
they continue on their course until prayer becomes first a mere formality
and ultimately is abandoned altogether.
you are a child of God and you dwell close to him you will feed on him.
Not only will you yearn to listen to his Word, you will also joy to offer
him thanksgiving and worship. These feelings will grow as sure and as
strong as your need for physical food and drink.
God is pleased to deliver his own in wondrous ways. Daniel enjoyed such
a deliverance. But many times his deliverance comes in other ways, such as
the deliverance of Stephen (Acts. 7:54-60). How can a person learn both
of these lessons? You must have absolute confidence in God, whether the
circumstance be monumental or minute.
was tempted in such matters, just like we are. On one occasion he was
prompted to take unnecessarily hazardous actions -- to leap from the
pinnacle of the temple. Frequently, Satan tempts the Lord's people to
attempt foolish, impossible, or unnecessary things simply to show their
faith. If you are so tempted take a lesson from the Lord's reply: "Thou shaft not tempt the Lord thy
4:7). We should neither tempt God, nor expect miracles where God's plans
have not made them necessary.
Your Heavenly Father Knows
should not think that they pray in order to tell God anything he doesn't
know, nor to call his attention to things we think he might have
overlooked. On the contrary, prayer benefits the believer himself. God
withholds many blessings until we approach him in prayer to ask for
them. Thus, we demonstrate to him our dependence upon him. We do not
commune with him to induce God to give us things which he chooses to
withhold. Our prayers should focus on obtaining what he wants to give us,
what he has promised to give us, and what he is more willing to give than
addition to the favors we asked and received, prayer brings us into
harmony with the Lord. When we learn this, we learn to enjoy one of our
greatest privileges and blessings.
facet of prayer is the living belief in God's care for the individual.
do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away,
will he not leave the ninety nine on the hills and look for the one that
he finds it, I tell you the truth, he is happier about that one sheep than
about the ninety nine that did not wander off. In
the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little
ones should be lost" (Matt. 18:12-14, NIV).
not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the
ground apart from the will of your Father. And even the very hairs of
your head are all numbered. So don't be afraid; you are worth more than
many sparrows" (Matt. 10:29-31, NIV).
The Bible as a Book of Prayer Examples
Bible is preeminently a book of prayer. Our Father knows all the stars by
name (Psa. 147:4). He numbers the hairs of our head (Matt. 10:30),
sparrows (Luke 12:6), and calls his own sheep by name (John 10:3) so
that none of his children should perish (Matt. 18:14).
beautiful suggestions are easy to speak about and wonderful to
contemplate, but can we make it real to ourself that he who sustains the
milky way and who controls Orion and the Pleiades also knows us by name?
The psalmist entertained the same question and wrote this:
the Lord's children learn more about God's grace they may think of their
Father as something like a librarian. The untrained mind, looking at
rows of books on all subjects, sees an undistinguished mass. The lover of
books knows each one by name, however. Each volume has special
associations: edition, value, contents, author and purpose, and so he
looks upon books as units.
our Father is the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob. David expressed
it this way, "I
will give Thee thanks in the great congregation; I will praise Thee among
a mighty throng" (Psa. 35:18).
First, we must satisfy our mind that God exercises individual care over
his children. Secondly, we must experience that care. We acknowledge his
daily guidance, the consciousness of his resources, and the sustaining
sense of God's presence as we abide in habitual communion with him.
are times when the Lord may temporarily ignore our petitions. In doing so,
his delays helps us grow more earnest in our prayers. When we pray in
keeping with the revealed will of God we should find that our recognition
of the Lord's delay in answering our requests causes our faith to
increase. Through delay we learn to appreciate the magnitude of the
blessing we are seeking.
the Lord may test our humility before he answers our prayer. Are we humble
enough? Have we faith enough to believe the Lord? Can we trust him for
grace? Do we realize that we are nothing before him and have no merit of
our own to plead with him? If so, we may be sure that the Lord appreciates
our faith, demonstrated by our childlike clinging to his loving hand.
have an illustration of these matters in the life of Hezekiah, king of
Judah, as recorded in 2 Kings 19. Sennacherib, the Assyrian king, had
sent his representative to Hezekiah with boastful letters about his
conquests and demanding the surrender of Judah.
decided upon the course of least resistance and became a vassal of
Sennacherib. He payed annual tribute and sent him presents of gold,
silver, and ivory, including ornaments from the temple. In spite of
this, the Assyrian power pressured Judah sufficiently that Hezekiah
finally did what he should have done initially. After consulting with
Isaiah, he laid the letter from Sennacherib before the Lord and asked for
God's mercy and guidance toward his covenanted people. The answer was that
Sennacherib was completely in the Lord's power and that Israel should
not be afraid.
lose sight of the power the Lord can use on behalf of his people.
However threatening or dark the evil that besets us, he is always there.
It is sad when Christians purchase peace with things consecrated to the
Lord -- when they compromise the truth.
example, how many willingly appease their alienated friend, or neighbor,
or employer with a more worldly course -- subtracting time, influence, and
means from the consecration which gave them to the Lord. How often do we
give considerable portions of our substance to worldly service just to
secure domestic peace, social advancement, or commercial prosperity.
Those of the Lord's people who stoop to such actions may find that he
may bring upon them the very difficulties they fear and seek to avert by
The Cost of Prayer
are the costs of prayer? Most evidently there is the general preparation
of good living and proper thought, but other special preparations are also
not be quick with your mouth, do not be hasty in your heart to utter
anything before God" (Eccl. 5:2, NIV).
not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition,
with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God,
which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds
in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true.. .whatever is
pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable -- if anything is
excellent or praiseworthy -- think about such things (Phil. 4:6-8, NIV).
words from Paul set a tone that we often find violated by suppliants.
Sometimes we rashly and hastily rush into God's presence. Our mind is
unprepared and our mind is preoccupied. Worse still, we may approach him
without examining our heart. If we follow Paul's example we can have a
more effective prayer life and we will find our spirit will be more at
dare not approach the throne of grace without realizing we are in the
presence of God Almighty! Yet, what an utter sense of futility must
accompany prayers that have not this appreciation; what fruitlessness
there must be -- as though one were speaking in the dark to nobody, while
a friend was in the room.
practice of God's presence is not as simple as the words sound. Yet, the
Lord himself said, "Blessed
are the pure in heart: for they shall see God" (Matt.
we are having a hard time feeling -- that is, recognizing -- God's
presence with us in our prayer closet, there are correctable reasons. We
need to pay careful attention to our attitudes. If we regard prayer as a
duty we cannot enter into the fullness of life's supreme privilege --
sonship with the Father. The commonness of prayer can also be a problem.
Just because we can approach God at any time or in any place does not rob
prayer of the intimate contact with God and we need remind ourselves of
that. We can also lose the benefits of communion because of negligence on
our part. Deceiving influences can also steal away our good intentions and
hinder us in prayer. Impatience also accounts for many failures in prayer;
just because we see no immediate results is no reason to assume that our
prayers are fruitless.
we intend to gain the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus we are
going to have to lose some things in this world:
whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What
is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness
of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I
consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not
having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which
is through faith in Christ -- the righteousness that comes from God and is
by faith" (Phil. 3:7-9, NIV).
child of God must give up some of this world if he is to offer acceptable
prayers to God. Our mind must be disciplined in prayer. We must be
attentive approaching God if we expect him to pay any attention to us.
in human construction projects an entire project can be delayed for months
because a single property owner refuses to sell his one little plot of
land, a plot that lies at the center of the project. Is there a little
plot of ground in your mind that you have refused to turn over to the
Grand Architect? Is some resistance on your part forestalling the building
of a character in you for which God already has the plans and the means to
tells us a lot about the amount of individual discretion we enjoy in
prayer. Some pray at wells (Gen. 24:11,12) and others pray on the hillside
(Gen. 28:18-20). Hannah prayed silently (1 Sam. 1:13); David prayed on the
battlefield (2 Sam 7:18); some pray in the temple (2 Kings 19:14); in bed
(Psa. 63:8); standing, like Jeremiah (Jer. 18:20); aloud, like Ezekiel
(Ezek. 11:13); in privacy (Matt. 26:39); by the river (Acts 16:13);
kneeling, like Paul (Acts 20:36); and on the seashore (Acts 21:5).
careful study of these incidents shows us how our heavenly Father blesses
us through our own capacities to receive and appreciate him. Always
remember, however, that God is seeking us, and he began seeking us long
before we ever turned our eyes toward him. Consider what our Lord said
about God's invitation:
certain man was preparing a great banquet and invited many guests. At the
time of the banquet he sent his servant to tell those who had been
invited, 'Come, for every
they all alike began to make excuses. The first said, "I have just
bought a field, and I must go to see it. Please excuse me."
said, "I have just bought five yoke of oxen, and I'm on my way to try
them out. Please excuse me."
another said, "I just got married, so I can't come." The servant
came back and reported this to his master.
the owner of the house became angry and ordered his servant, "Go out
quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the
crippled, the blind and the lame."
the servant said, "what you ordered has been done and there is still
the master told his servant, "Go out to the roads and country lanes
and make them come in, so that my house will be full. I tell you, not one
of those men who were invited will get a taste of my banquet."
(Luke 14:16-24, NIV).
invitation is to appreciate and respond to the Gospel Calling. "No one has beheld God
at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is
perfected in us" (1 John 4:12, NASB). "What agreement is
there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the
living God. As God has said: 'I will live with them and walk among them,
and I will be their God, and they will be my people'" (2 Cor. 6:16, NIV). "Here I am! I stand at the door and
knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will go in and eat
with him, and he with me" (Rev. 3:20, NIV).
greater distinction must also be made. That is the difference between
"faith in prayer," and "prayer in faith." "Faith
in prayer" can be presumptuous and clamoring. You may present
requests to God and demand his agreement. "Prayer in faith,"
on the other hand asks all in submission to the will of God and is
meaningful to our Father because he is free to do whatever he wants in
connection with our pleas.
about claims that God does not answer prayer? The Bible itself is full of
unanswered prayers (cf., Hab. 1:14,13; 2 Cor. 12:7-9; James 1:5-8).
Moses wanted to enter the promised land, but died on Mt. Nebo (Deut.
34:1-4). Jeremiah complained about his disappointments in Lamentations
3:44 and Habakkuk did likewise (1:2). St. Paul had to compromise the best
of his missionary work while he suffered a physical handicap (2 Cor.
takes many forms, and in each we see new blessings available to the New
Prayer (Psa. 103:1)
may be viewed as the most "important" phase of prayer. We have
many explicit and confident expressions about the value of petitions. "Call
unto me, and / will answer thee"(Jer 33:3). "Ask, and it shall be given you" (Matt.
7:7). "All things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing,
ye shall receive" (Matt. 21:22). "If two of you shall
agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done
for them by my Father" (Matt. 18:19).
view of these quotations it is puzzling to meet the repeated denial of our
requests, unless we recognize that "No" is as real an answer to
prayer as "Yes." Our knowledge is incomplete and our outlook
is narrow. We are often quite unable to foresee the long term
consequences of our requests which are made in full sincerity. Sometimes
God, in his wisdom, answers us like Jesus answered the mother of Zebedee's
don't know what you are asking..." (Matt. 20:22, NIV).
Prayer and Work
not make the mistake of trying to achieve through prayer what can only be
achieved through work. The Israelites tried to do this when they left
Egypt. You remember how
the Israelites had left Egypt and came to the Red Sea. There, with
Pharaoh's army chasing after them they faced what they thought to be
imminent destruction. Moses prayed to Jehovah for deliverance and his
answer must have been very startling indeed: "Wherefore criest
thou unto me? speak unto the children of Israel, that they go
forward" (Ex. 14:15).
the days of the temple reconstruction under Nehemiah there was a happy
coordination between prayer and labor. Listen to these examples. "I
prayed unto the God of heaven. And I said to the king" (Neh. 2:4,5). "We made our
prayer unto our God, and set a watch against them day and night" (Neh.
4:9). "Remember the Lord. .. and fight" (Neh. 4:14). These
are wonderful examples or prayerful living. Keep the lines of
communication open to the throne of grace, but at the same time keep
working on your problems until an answer to your petition becomes
apparent. Not many people have the urgent, earnest, persistent prayer
life represented by Jacob while wrestling with the angel: "I
will not let you go, except thou bless me" (Gen. 32:26).
and "No" are not the only answers to prayer. Another answer God
sometimes gives is "Wait." Believers have prayed "Thy
Kingdom come" for more than 1900 years and they are still waiting for
the fulfillment of that promise. Our Lord taught us to pray for the
oneness of the body, "that they all may be one" (John
17:21), but for that most desired condition the answer still has been
"Wait." These illustrations emphasize that when we have prepared
and proven our New Creature by persistent prayer, then our Father can
grant us our request. For this reason our Lord placed the searching
condition on all our requests. "And I will do whatever you ask in
my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask
me for anything in my name, and I will do it" (John 14:13, NASB).
that day you will no longer ask me anything. I tell you the truth, my
Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. Until now you have not
asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will
be complete. Though I have been speaking figuratively, a time is coming
when I will no longer use this kind of language but will tell you plainly
about my Father.' In that day you will ask in my name. I am not saying
that I will ask the Father on your behalf. No, the Father himself loves
you because you have loved me and have believed that 1 came from God"
(John 16:23-27, NIV).
Christ Jesus prepared his disciples for his departure he encountered
difficulties typical of unprepared minds. Consider his patience in
training them. They had been content with their situations. They looked to
him with such simple trust, immense loyalty, and intense love that they
neither doubted nor feared' the future. But their hearts were slow to
believe more than that.
had asked, "Lord, show us the Father, and it sufficeth us"(John
14:8). There is something pathetic in these very words, suggesting the
human heart's natural desire to commune with God. It wasn't unbelief that
prompted Philip's question, it was slowness of understanding. How
appropriately gentle, therefore, is Jesus' loving rebuke:
you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long
had been with Philip day after day and yet Philip had not found God's
loving character exemplified in Christ. Is this much different than our
spiritual denseness about seeing Christ's character in our brothers and
sisters? The more like Christ a person is the more easily they are
misunderstood or neglected. Not only in Judea have men stoned their
prophets and then raised monuments to their memory after they are dead.
Our minds can be so preoccupied with our own lives, or so thoughtless,
that we easily judge one another harshly and incorrectly. Sometimes it
is only later, after it is too late to change anything, that we realize
what opportunities we have missed.
the foregoing in mind we can perhaps better appreciate the Prophet's
words about the unrequited love of God. "Yet it is I who taught
Ephraim to walk, I took them in my arms; But they did not know
healed them" (Hos.
about the impotent man waiting at the pool
for the moving of the waters. Jesus visited him, healed him and went away.
John tells us of the man that "...he that was healed wist not who it was"(5:13).
When the man went to the temple later he found out his physician had been
Jesus. How often are our "afterwards" the times when we too
learn what God has done for us; the truth of the words "1 will gird you, though you have not known Me" (Isa.
never fully comprehend just how much mercy, goodness, and kindness has
shone into our lives because of God. We shall know hereafter. We live our
lives in blindness to his providence until we are awakened by it, just as
Jacob awoke at Bethel saying, "Surely
the Lord is in this place, and 1 knew it not" (Gen.
28:16). Though we may be blind to Christ, though we are intermittent in
prayer, and fickle in our love, yet he is the same yesterday, today and
pursue this thought further, as we consider our Lord's words: "He
that is not with me is against me" (Matt. 12:30). Throughout the Master's ministry he asked people to
wait, to consider, to count the cost. He wanted us to realize that we are
judged by our attitude toward him. The Jews have a tradition about the
manna in the wilderness. They say that it did not have one uniform taste,
but tasted differently in each man's mouth. How true this is spiritually
as well. All our lives we think we are balancing and weighing truth; but
in reality truth is evaluating us. Christ sifts us as wheat is sifted from
chaff. Even when we think ourselves neutral or indifferent to issues, by
that very fact we have made a decision and are being judged by that
is merely another word for neutrality. When you refuse to commit yourself,
or speak about keeping an open mind, it can be that you do not
understand the importance of the issue and see no need for a decision.
Sometimes you may not be against Christ -- you simply are not for him.
you open your life to God's guidance you encourage your own receptivity.
The furthest reaching consequences come when we commune with our Father
and he opens our eyes to the privileges and blessings of living as sons of
O my people, and I will warn you -- if you would but listen to me, 0
Israel! ...But my people would not listen to me; Israel would not submit
to me. So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts to follow their own
devices. If my people would but listen to me, if Israel would follow my
ways, how quickly would I subdue their enemies and turn my hand against
their foes" (Psa. 81:8, 11-14).
Prayer opens our lives so that God's will can be done
in us and through us. We slowly develop the habitual attitude of
submission to whatever God's will demands. "Now they
know that everything you have given me comes from you" (John 17:7, NIV). As we approach our Father, intent
upon receiving what he is willing to give, our prayers become to us like
a receptive hand. The more conscious we are of his love, the weaker are
our fears and uncertainties. Thus may we learn to "trust him where we cannot trace him."
is wrong when it is fired by base passion. Most men are angry when their
interests are challenged, yet they will bear patiently great wrongs
inflicted upon others. Anger fired by self -- love, self -- conceit, or
self -- will is always despicable. There is such a thing as a noble, godly
anger. It is charged by higher impulses than self. The prophets were
angered when they heard God's name blasphemed. "I count the enemies
of God my enemies," said David; "I hate them with a perfect
hatred." The spirit which flushes with resentment at an oath is far
better than the spirit which listens with indifference or which laughs
with pleasure. "Abhor that which is evil," the Bible says; and
no man is safe unless he does. Every child should have such a chivalrous
sense of pure, true womanhood that the dirty story, the illicit jest, the
raucous scandal would anger him against the telling of such stories.
Immorality should awaken our resentment, just as musical discord offends
the musically educated ear.
wrath that comes from self -- esteem, approbativeness, combativeness, and
greed degrades men and women. Further, it is dangerous and degrading if
one's character is beyond being inspired to wrath by conscience,
reverence, faith, and love. The wrath of love? Yes, the wrath of love.
This is the hottest and divinest wrath of all. This is the wrath of the
Lamb which will consume the world's filth in the day when this earth is
purified so as by fire. Do not teach your children never to be angry;
teach them how to "be ... angry, and sin not" (Eph. 4:26).
can a Christian overcome discouragement and depression?
and depression seem to be characterized by a loss of confidence,
occasioned perhaps by some experience or circumstance in our lives where
we felt unable to cope adequately with a difficult situation or crisis.
such times, however, it would be well to recall that of ourselves we can
do nothing; and yet, we should believe and echo the Apostle Paul's
can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me" (Phil. 4:13).
we are to experience tribulation in this world; but as the Master
intimated to his disciples prior to his crucifixion, we are to possess
peace and to be of good cheer rather than be discouraged.
is not the heavenly Father's will that we should be in such a mental
state. We are given exceeding great and precious promises. The following
steps are offered to help overcome discouragement and depression:
Verbalize and put into writing what we perceive to be the cause of our
depression. This will help give us a sense of focus rather than allowing
our minds to wander over nebulous or vague reasons for feeling
Locate and commit to memory specific scriptures which attest that the
Father will never leave us nor forsake us if we continue to seek after him
and run the race with patience.
Review scriptures such as Galatians 5:19-26. Categorize the identified
source of discouragement to see whether it is caused by the presence of
one or more works of the flesh or an insufficiency in the fruits of the
Review the volumes, concordances, and other helps to find and unlock
biblical helps to deal with the problem diagnosed in No. 3 above.
Determine by God's grace to consistently use such admonitions and
principles to modify our previous reactions to trials which cause
Utilize prayer, personal study, and strength derived from fellowship with
others to fortify our resolve to overcome discouragement and depression.
Express thanks to the heavenly Father for his guidance and supervision of
our affairs in this regard, recognizing that if we did not need the
experience causing the discouragement he would not have permitted it to
occur. Additionally, look for opportunities to assist others who appear
discouraged. One can do this by sharing the means by which the Lord helped
us to overcome our difficulties.
answer this question effectively one needs to distinguish, if possible,
which factor or combination of factors are the underlying cause of the
depression. Our bodies are established by the creator with various
cyclical rhythms. One of these is excitement and depression, and it occurs
in every person in their daily life. After a period of high excitement,
expectation, or pleasant experiences, there will follow a period of
depression in which the body stabilizes. This is normal. It only becomes
unusual when the depression lingers too long (usually a couple weeks) or
becomes severe (encompassing lethargy, seclusion, or suicidal tendencies).
suggest the following as contributing factors which need to be considered:
An injury to the monthly hormonal changes; menopause; a work -- related
more factors follow which need additional comment. Depression occurs
when we refuse to admit and to surrender to God for help in recovery. This
is properly termed "guilt" and is God's way of prompting our
repentance and the reformation of character. When sin is fully dealt
with, depression and discouragement disappear by faith in the forgiveness
of God. However, never -- think that depression must mean sin. This is
just not true.
and discouragement may be partly innate temperament and partly learned
behavior. If it is a genetic trait we can do little to have it disappear.
Therefore we need to learn to be thankful and to accept this as God's
design for our life. This will enable us to use it as a tool and not be
crippled by it (Psa. 139:14). Knowing that depression comes easily to
those who are very sensitive, quite emotional, or introspective, we need
to reach out in our weakness to serve others so that we no longer dwell
upon ourselves. Note our Lord Jesus' words, "...it is more blessed to give than to receive..."This
basis of effective help to those who dwell upon their own weaknesses and
problems too much (Phil. 3:13; 2:14).
last cause is simply being undernourished, overly tired, or very lonely.
When Elijah finished his evangelizing work upon Mt. Carmel, he was
discouraged with the angel's simple cure: healthful food and rest (1 Kings
19:48). Similarly, life looks bleak to the very weary. Decisions at such
times are harder to make and problems become insurmountable when we are
exhausted. The cure is just healthful food and necessary rest. Also,
reserve your problem solving and decisions to the early part of the day;
no one is as clear and rational at the end of the day. Here we need to
heed God's pattern with Adam in the Garden -- the quiet restful
communion at day's close.
not underestimate the need for a friend to remove loneliness. We were so
made by the Creator as to need God's friendship, the friendship of Christ,
and then the friendship of our fellow man. The solution then is based upon
the cause of our discouragement or depression. Whether we need a
chiropractor, a doctor, a modified diet, an acceptance of our selves as we
are, an acceptance of the aging process, or a new way to approach life and
its complexities, God himself will be glad to guide us to the solution. He
personally cares for each of us and wants us to do good. Do not forsake
reading his words and seeking him in prayer -- a beautiful source of
encouragement. For though he may seem far away, his love never changes
(Mal. 3:6; 1 John 4:10).
gives a prescription in Philippians for depression that has served well
for many years (cp. Phil. 2:1-11).
would seem that what we expect from ourselves and from others can at times
lead to what amounts to self pity -- a very dangerous thing. It can
become completely debilitating.
we truly love one another as Christ has loved us, and if we trust in the
promise that God loves us -- without question -- then we will not
entertain the thoughts that can plague us into depression. We will not
condemn ourselves. We can examine our actions and motives and repent
of those which are not consistent with being a consecrated Christian
believer, but we do not condemn ourselves. On the other hand, we will not
condemn others either. Often we expect others, especially loved ones, to
do what we think they should without ever having expressed a wish or
preference to guide them. To be fair, we cannot expect anyone to do what
we wish them to do without giving them the benefit of our thinking. All
minds do not think alike. Something which seems very obvious to us may not
have crossed the mind of another.
these thoughts in mind, let us look to Paul's advice:
do you think:
Do nothing from selfishness
What's in it for me
Do nothing from conceit
I can do this better than anyone
others better than yourself
I deserve this more than they
Look to the interests of others
If I play this right, I can get what I want
the form of a servant
Let somebody else do it
the best anyone can do when overtaken by disruptive thoughts is to turn
to these words: "Finally,
brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable ... whatever is
lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if
anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things" (Phil.
Arlene Jones D
ye do these things, ye shall never fall."
The words of our theme
text are particularly apropos today. They remind us of the solemn
warning which closes our Lord Jesus Christ's sermon on the mount (Mat.
Wherever one looks
among those who claim to be followers of the Master there appears the
tendency to ignore plain meanings of the Master's words. We do well to
study his words until we are sure we understand their meaning:
every one who says to me, "Master, Master," will enter into the
kingdom of the heavens; but he who performs the will of that father of
mine in the heavens. Many will say to me in that day, "Master,
Master, have we not taught in Thy Name? and in thy Name expelled Demons?
and in thy Name performed many Wonders?" And then I will plainly
declare to them, I never approved of you. Depart from me, you who practise
iniquity" (Matt. 7:21-23,
Perhaps readers who
may be familiar with these words still have not been affected strongly
enough by them because they have been applied to those often termed
"nominal Christians." By so doing one says, in effect, that
having been brought into the truth we only need to hold fast certain
beliefs separating us from others and all will be well.
On the other hand, if
the words are a warning to believers that holiness alone would meet with
the Master's approval, how important it is that we clearly understand
these words and not rest in a delusive sense of security which accompanies
the belief that what we know is of greater importance than what we are.
Knowledge is important, but wisdom is far more important. We do not read
that Christ is made unto us knowledge: we read that Christ is made unto us
wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and deliverance (cf., 1 Cor.
The close of the last
century was marked by tremendous advances (for its day) in secular and
religious knowledge. Those advances were the results of years of patient
study and research by students of science and religion. It would be unfair
and unwise to forget the labors of those students and to think that we
could have stepped into clear light without the help contributed by each
generation of truth -- seekers since the Lord raised up the reformers in
the sixteenth century.
For the sake of
discussion assume that we are living in the Apostolic Age when Peter wrote
his general epistle (2 Pet. 1:1). Ask yourself: Were these Christians
deficient in their knowledge of God's plan of the ages? Would their
knowledge of the divine plan compare favorably with the knowledge
possessed by brethren in, say, the 1900's? If we allow ourselves to be
guided by the words of the apostles, we must conclude they were not
deficient in knowledge, and further that the knowledge those believers
possessed would compare favorably with 1991.
If this be admitted,
then it is clear that the knowledge we possess merely puts us on equal
terms with brethren who lived during the Apostolic Age of the church.
When the apostles fell asleep, error (more or less rapidly) displaced
the truth until just before the Reformation. Darkness prevailed over
the professed church of God during this period of history. During the
interval between the Reformation and our day, truths have been restored
to God's people. Today we enjoy the truth as it was taught by the
apostles, with the advantage that the pilgrimage of the church is nearly
ended and the establishment of the kingdom is near.
The truths which
separated the believers in the Apostolic Age from others are the same
truths we now appreciate. As the believers of the Apostolic Age were
encouraged to make their calling and election sure, so are we. The
knowledge they enjoyed would not entitle them to a share in the kingdom,
and the knowledge we enjoy will only add to our confusion -- if we fail,
diligently, to make our calling and election sure. "If ye
know these things, happy [blessed] are ye if ye do them. "It should be clear that the greatest danger now facing those in
what we call Present Truth is modem day Gnosticism: it is easier to claim
superiority to your brother on a point of knowledge than it is to prove
your superiority by the excellence of your character.
The great Adversary
divided the early church along these lines, and he is pursuing the same
policy today -- that this is true can be seen from the history of the
last hundred years. Should we not consider one another to provoke unto
love and good works? If we have a difference of opinion, we are not at
liberty to conclude that because we believe we are right, the Lord has
ceased to love our brother. This being so, should we not love
our brother more: he is in greater need of our love and of our
longsuffering. How could we hope to win over our brother by any other
means? We may draw freely from the limitless fountain of our Lord's love,
but let us not overlook his words, "Blessed
are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy' (Matt.
the comparable experience of the apostle Paul, whose work among the
Corinthians is detailed in the eighteenth chapter of Acts. Guided by a
vision from the Lord, he worked long and hard in that city to bring many
of its citizens to Christ. By his second letter to them there had arisen
an opposition to Paul. His reaction to this resistance can bless all in
Present Truth today. Paul did not freeze up: either in refusing to deal
with them or in not knowing how to counter the situation.
mouth is opened toward you, 0 Corinthians! our heart has been enlarged.
You are not straitened in us, but you are contracted in your own tender
Cor. 6:11-12, Diaglott).
similar circumstances many Christians would feel justified in showing some
degree of coolness and reserve. Why did Paul act differently? The answer
lies in the truth of Paul's statement: "1 live, yet not l, but Christ liveth in
never forgot that Christ loved the church and gave himself for it. It was,
therefore, the spirit of Christ in Paul that overlooked every cause for
complaint and continued to exercise the love that covers all things. He
believed all things; hoped for all things; endured all things.
like a shepherd lead us.
we need thy tender care.
Only through the suggestions of the wily one, Satan,
would anyone suggest that differences among us are due to the insincerity
of others. We are not at liberty to condemn one another. The oneness for
which our Master prayed will soon be yours, and to the eyes of our heart
an eternity of glory and blessing is drawing ever nearer.
Lord our God hath showed us His glory"
design in his works is the manifestation of his own glory. But how shall
the glory of God be manifested to fallen creatures like ourselves?
eye is not single: he always has such a sideward glance towards his own
honor, has too high an estimate of his own powers, and so is not qualified
to behold the glory of the
Lord. Self must stand out of the way that there may be room for God to be
exalted; and this is the reason why he frequently brings his people into
trouble and difficulty, that, being made conscious of their own folly and
weakness, they may be fitted to behold the majesty of God when he comes
to work their deliverance.
whose life is a smooth path will see little of the glory of the Lord,
for he has few occasions of self -- emptying, and hence little suitability
for being filled with God's revelation. They who navigate life's little
streams and shallow creeks know little about the God of tempests and
storms. But they who sail across the great waters see his wonders in the
deep. Among the Atlantic waves of sorrow, poverty, temptation and
reproach we learn the power of Jehovah. Amid these waves we feel the
littleness of man. Thank God if you have been led by a rough road: this
has given you your experiences of God's greatness and lovingkindness. Your
troubles enrich you with a knowledge to be gained by no other means. Your
trials have been the cleft of the rock in which Jehovah set you, as he did
his servant Moses, so that you might behold his glory. Praise God that you
have not been left to the darkness and ignorance which continued
prosperity might have involved, but that in the fight of affliction you
have been enabled for the outshining of his glory in his dealings with
happiness is proportionate to one's sincerity and depth of trust in God.
You may be overwhelmed with troubles. Your plans may go awry. Your good
name may be tarnished and your worldly hopes blasted, yet if you have
an unimpaired, serene sense of trust you will not be moved. Your peace
will flow like a mighty river whose depths and current are undisturbed
by any surface splashing.
in the Bible is this trust more powerful or sublime than in Habakkuk's
(Hab. 3:17,18, NIV).
words may be sublime oriental poetry, but they are not too strong to
express the feelings of one in any climate or period whose mind and heart
are stayed on God. When trouble comes and all our earthly supports fail,
then our faith is tested. If our trust does not fail us at such times we
are happy. Such faith is not too dearly purchased, even if it come at the
severest earthly calamity -- doubtless it never comes in any other
guise. We should truly be thankful for any circumstance that brings us
closer to God and teaches us absolute surrender to him.
faith exalts all the human graces and virtues. It deepens the source of
our character and widens its domains in our life. By such faith, we are
fit to be used by God in any circumstance. In this kind of faith, we have
the power to win men from this selfish world over to the life of Christ.
may have a sound creed and we may be able to defend it by unimpeachable
arguments. Yet, if we lack the sweetness and light that are born of pure
trust in God our influence as believers will be puny.
is good to preach Christ. It is better to live him. Allow his influence
to flow through you and his character will be revealed in you!
trust will shine forth in our eyes. Our lives will distill an aroma so
pure that men will take knowledge of us that we have been with Jesus. Even
so, let men be so drawn unto our Lord!
is a fountain of joy and peace which springs up into everlasting life.
If we have received this divine inheritance, knowing God as he is
revealed in Christ Jesus, and having surrendered our own will, we can
appreciate Faber's words:
your hope upon the Rock of Ages. Be strong, for your future is not some
dim coincidence, nor a vague dream, nor a wish turning itself into
vision. Your future is guaranteed by the God of all past and present. It
is settled upon his Word and the brightest of its brightness is to enjoy
more of his presence, to possess more of his likeness. That is certain.
Therefore, let us live in our hope and reach forward unto the things that
The Trinity. Some people say it is a
mystery. Others just accept it. Many deny it altogether. Is it real?
Is it error? Is the holy Spirit a
person, just like God the Father, and Jesus Christ, as the Trinity
teaches? Let's examine Scriptures to see what God's Word says the holy
Spirit is. It is the power of God.
"Not by might, nor by
power [of humans], but
by my spirit, saith the Lord of hosts" (Zechariah 4:6). "1
am full of power by the spirit of the Lord, and of judgment and
of might," the
prophet Micah declared (Micah 3:8).
It is the spirit of
wisdom and understanding
-- of counsel and might, of knowledge and of the fear of the
Lord. "And the
spirit of the Lord shall rest upon
him, the spirit of wisdom
and understanding, the spirit of counsel and
might, the spirit of knowledge
and of the fear of the
Lord" (Isaiah 11:2). It is a
gift of God. Peter taught that believers would receive "the
gift of the holy Spirit" (Acts 2:38).
It is poured
out. "It shall
come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit
upon all flesh" (Acts 2:17).
To be effective the holy Spirit must
be stirred up. "I put thee
in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God,"
were Paul's instructions to the young evangelist Timothy (2
Timothy 1:6). The spirit of God
can be quenched. "Quench
not the Spirit" -- Paul taught the Thessalonian church (1
It is the begetting
power of God.
"Now the birth of Jesus
Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph,
before they came together, she was found with child of the holy
Spirit" (Matthew 1:18). "But
ye are not in the
flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God
dwell in you. Now if any
man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his" (Romans
It is God's guarantee
to us that he will fulfill his promise to us. "In
whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of
your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with
that holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance
until the redemption of
the purchased possession, unto the praise of his
It sheds the love
of God abroad in our hearts. "And
hope maketh not ashamed,,
because the love of God
is shed abroad in our
hearts by the
Holy Spirit which is given unto us" (Romans 5:5).
It must be renewed.
"We having the same spirit
of faith ... For which cause
we faint not; but though our
outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by
What consistent testimony do we find
in all these scriptures? Not one of them uses characteristics which could
even imply that the holy Spirit of God is a person. Does a person do any
of these things? Is a person "poured," "quenched," or
"renewed"? Consider another fact. If the holy Spirit were a
person, didn't Jesus Christ pray to the wrong individual? Throughout the
Gospels Christ spoke only to God (as his Father) -- not once does he
ever speak to the holy Spirit.
Scripture testimony explodes the
Trinity! If Scripture is our authority, we cannot accept the Trinity
doctrine. What do you believe: the teachings of men or the teaching of
God we have
-- he is the Father of our
Lord Jesus Christ, the
source of every mercy, and the
one who so wonderfully comforts and strengthens us in our hardships and trials. And why
does he do this?
so that when others are troubled, needing our sympathy and encouragement, we can
to them this
Corinthians 1:3, 4 TLB
not any one
say that he
cannot govern his passions,
them from breaking out and carrying
action; for what he
can do before a
prince or a
great man, he
can do alone,
the presence of God
if he will.
to the true man ever, who takes his life in his hands, and at all hazards
speaks the word which is given to him to utter, whether men will bear or
whether the end
to be praise or censure, gratitude or hatred.
ripening corn: the riper they grow, the lower they bend their heads.
your heart free from hate and your mind free from worry, live simply,
expect little, give much, sing often, pray always, forget self, think of
others and their feelings, fill your heart with love, scatter sunshine.
are tried links in the golden chain of contentment.
in the first place, the union of the known and the unknown in this great
problem of the [second] advent consummation; a union exactly fitted to
inspire the church with sacred curiosity to search diligently and
constantly for its solution. For just as there is in revelation a
dogmatic certainty as to the fact of Christ's return, "The Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout," so
there is a dogmatic uncertainty as to the time of his return: "But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no not the
angels which are in heaven, neither the son, but the Father." By
this combination of the revealed and the unrevealed, perennial interest
and inspiring search are ensured, which were utterly impossible if either
of these elements were wanting. Take away the certainty as to the fact of
Christ's coming, and tell us that he may never return, and at once the
wing of hope is paralyzed, and the eye of vigilance closed; take away the
uncertainty as to the time of Christ's coming, and tell us that a definite
thousand years of millennial blessedness stands between us and the advent;
or to have told the early disciples that at least eighteen centuries must
elapse before their Lord should come back -- and looking for his immediate
return were utterly impossible, so that the watchman's vigil must cease
and the virgin's lamp be quenched. Therefore, by a wise combining of the
known and the unknown factors in the construction of prophecy, there have
been secured the most powerful stimulant to watchfulness, and the most
salutary check to presumption.
the succession of prophetic fulfillments the same result is promoted. It
is a part of the divine plan to give an onward look to all predestined
events; prophecy no sooner becomes history than history in turn becomes
prophecy, accomplished facts passing into foretypes of greater facts to
little while, and ye shall not see Me,"
said Jesus in his last discourse with his disciples, "and
again, a little while, and ye shall see me" (John 16:16).
A. J. Gordon from Ecce
rich man is not one who is in possession of much, but one who gives much.
-- St. John Chrysotom: Homilies
fear is gone
the great quiet of God
troubles are as the pebbles on the road,
joys are like the everlasting hills.
suffering is not worthy the name of suffering. When I consider my crosses,
tribulations, and temptations, I shame myself almost to death, thinking
what are they in comparison to the sufferings of my blessed Savior Christ
Astronomers say they've discovered a "Great Wall" of the
universe that is 500 million light -- years long. Composed of thousands of
galaxies, not including our Milky Way, the immense structure is 200
million light years wide and 15 million light years thick, says Harvard
astronomy professor Margaret Geller, part of a team that has been mapping
the universe. The findings, reported in Science, are based on telescope
observations of 4000 galaxies made at Arizona's Mount Hopkins observatory.