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THE DIVINE PLAN JOURNAL
Volume 23 * February 1998 * Number 2A DAY OF DARKNESS AND OF GLOOMINESS
"Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in my holy mountain: let all the inhabitants of the land tremble: for the day of the LORD cometh, for [it is] nigh at hand; A day of darkness and of gloominess, a day of clouds and of thick darkness, as the morning spread upon the mountains: a great people and a strong; there hath not been ever the like, neither shall be any more after it, [even] to the years of many generations. A fire devoureth before them; and behind them a flame burneth: the land [is] as the garden of Eden before them, and behind them a desolate wilderness; yea, and nothing shall escape them."Joel 2:1-3
How glad we are for Joels assurance that "the land is as the garden of Eden before" the inhabitants of earth! The day of darkness and gloominess, which precedes full sunrise, is preparing the hearts of many for the blessings of a worldwide paradise by the close of the Messianic Age.
Meanwhile, Joels prophecy describing a time of trouble, such as has never been the like, is having an accurate fulfillment. The trouble, pictured by clouds, is causing the hearts of many to fail for fear, as the Millennial dawn spreads upon the kingdoms of this world.The sun of righteousness
The light coming from the rising "sun of righteousness" is exposing the hidden things of darkness. At the time of "full" sunrise, total anarchy will encompass the entire earth. However, before all flesh is destroyed, divine intervention "by the elect Christ" will terminate the trouble, and righteousness will begin to prevail. (Matthew 24:21,22) Gradually the beams from the sun of righteousness will dispel the ignorance and superstition throughout the earth. By the close of the thousand year reign of Christ it will be completely light or perfect.Zechariah 14:6,7
The Population Explosion
Meanwhile, during the early morning hours of Millennial dawn, world leaders suggest remedies but cannot solve the economic, social and political problems throughout the earth. One of the perplexing problems is the belief that "unless population growth slows and farm production increases dramatically, by 2025 there wont be enough food for the worlds projected 8 billion hungry mouths." A recent study by one of the universities predicted that "without major advances in agriculture, there is simply not enough available land to grow the necessary food."
Man had been living and dying for approximately 6,000 years before the population reached 1 1/2 billion. Now, 100 years later, the population has quadrupled to approximately 6 billion. The population explosion is one of the many signs indicating that soon a sufficient number of human beings will have been born to fill the earth. The commission to "multiply and fill the earth" was first given to Adam and Eve and later to Noah and his sons.Genesis 1:28; 9:1
The earth will yield its increase
The earth will not be overfilled. When a sufficient number of human beings has been born, the power of pro-creation will cease. There will be enough available land upon the earth to grow food to feed not only the "living" but also those awakened from the sleep of death who respond to the kingdom arrangements. No doubt some of the surface of earth now covered by water will become available for the production of food. It should also be remembered that the desert will blossom as the rose. (Isaiah35:1,2) The fact that the desert is beginning to blossom as the rose (in some parts of the earth), is a strong indication that we are near the time when the earthly phase of the kingdom will begin its operation
After divine intervention stops the trouble, the earth will yield its increase. (Psalm 67:6) There will be economic security for all. (Micah 4:4) People will not go to bed hungry. Death from starvation will be a thing of the past. "They shall build houses, and inhabit [them]; and they shall plant vineyards, and eat the fruit of them. They shall not build, and another inhabit; they shall not plant, and another eat: for as the days of a tree [are] the days of my people, and mine elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands."Isaiah 65:21, 22Fire Is Symbolic of Anarchy
Before all individuals will have food and shelter (the result of the establishment of the earthly phase of the kingdom), the world must experience total anarchy which will sweep away those things out of harmony with truth and righteousness. The literal fires which occurred in 1997 are a reminder of the time soon to come when total anarchy (symbolized by fire) will sweep the world. The year 1997 ranked as "the worlds worst year for fires". One expert said, "This was the year the world caught fire." During 1997, anarchy in different parts of the earth caused much suffering and many deaths. How we long for the time when the "fires" of anarchy (as well as literal fires) will be extinguished!
In 1997 the leaders endeavored to put bandages upon the financial problems of the world, but the efforts will be only temporary. Many people died during the year after having become drug addicts. The decay of the social structure continued throughout 1997.
The New heavens and a new earth
The Apostle Peter accurately predicted that the old order (pictured by heavens and earth) would pass away. This makes room for "the new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness." (II Peter 3:10-13) Since we see these things coming to pass, we can lift up our heads; the deliverance of the body members of Christ draweth nigh."Luke 21:28
Shortly after the full union of the Bridegroom and the bride, divine intervention will stop the anarchy in the earth, and then the Spirit and the bride will offer the water of life to the world of mankind. (Revelation 22:17) The highway of "holiness" will provide the opportunity for the sinful race of Adam to clean up from sin and its defilements. The obedient who accept the dear Redeemer will pass over the highway which leads from death to perfect human life. (Isaiah 35:8) By the close of the Messianic Age, the obedient members of Adams race will enjoy life and a paradise worldwide.Micah 4:4; Revelation 21:4
"The earth...and the works therein shall be burned up."2 Pet. 3:10
IF this text were the only one bearing upon the subject of the fire of this Day of the Lord we would conclude that it should be considered as literal; but it is not the only Scripture. Many other Scriptures which refer to this same fire show clearly that it is a symbolic fire of destruction that is coming. We can see that fire is very properly a symbol of destruction and is so used throughout the Scripturesthe lake of fire, for instance, "which is the Second Death." (Rev. 20:14) We find that many Scriptures refer to the coming time of trouble. Some refer to it as a whirlwind of trouble; others as a tempest and flooda flood shall sweep away the hiding places; mountains shall be removed and carried into the midst of the sea, etc.as though there would be great earthquakes and sinking of the earth and flooding of the whole world. Yet other Scriptures speak of it as a burning fire. Manifestly it cannot be all three of these in a literal sense. Then there are other Scriptures which show that these expressions are used in a symbolic sense; for instance (Zephaniah 3:8,9), "Wait ye upon me, saith the Lord, until the day that I rise up to the prey; for my determination is to gather the nations, that I may assemble the kingdoms, to pour upon them mine indignation, even all my fierce anger; for all the earth shall be devoured with the fire of my jealousy." This seems to be a literal pouring out of something and a consuming of the earth with literal fire. But that it is not literal fire is proven by the very next sentence, which declares, "Then will I turn unto the people a pure language (message) that they may all call upon the name of the Lord, to serve him with one consent." Evidently the people would not remain if the earth is to be consumed with literal fire. But if, as the Scriptures show, the fire be symbolic, it is plain that people will still be here after the trouble. Then the Lord will, according to his promise, turn to them the pure message.
THE BABEL OF VOICES IN CHRISTENDOM
At the present time the message that the people receive is represented in many creeds, probably hundreds in all; hence the message is a very indistinct one and the Scriptures represent it as "Babel," or confusion. One tongue or voice cries that the message of the Lord is Free Grace; another tongue or voice says it is Election; a third says that only a few will get salvation; while another declares salvation will be universal; a fifth informs us that election is with water, and that without the water no one will be saved. So a variety of voices is heard, and the poor world is not able to determine which is the Truth. As a matter of fact they all have so much error that they condemn themselves in the minds of all reasonable people who have not been born in prejudice and steeped in error. When the Lord will turn this pure message to the people, Babylon will no longer be. She will have come to her end. The voice of the Lord will be known through the glorified Church, "And the Spirit and the Bride shall say, Come! And whosoever will may come and drink of the water of life freely!" (Rev. 22:17) The Bride class are now on probation that it may be determined which will eventually be of that class. When the marriage of the Lamb shall have taken place, it will be the work of the "Spirit and the Bride to say Come...and whosoever will may take of the water of life freely." This will be after the "burning" time is over; hence it proves that the fire refers to a time of troublea time of destruction against iniquity. The Lords anger will burn against all kinds of injustice and inequity. Wrong doing, and wrong-doers will then be punished.
The Apostles statement respecting the Church implies that this judgment, or testing, or fiery trial will begin with the Church and extend to the world. If it "begin first with us" what will the end be to those who make no pretense of following the Gospel message? The Apostle again states that the "fire of that day shall try every mans work of what sort it is." (I Cor. 3:13) This we understand to refer especially to the Church. Every one in the Church is to be tried; his work is to be tried. However, in great measure it will be a trying time for all the world as well; all inequity and injustice will be exposed, reprobated and destroyed. We see increasing instances of this of latein the number of fire insurance presidents, for instance, who have been exposed. Fiery trials came upon them as the result of exposures, etc. Some of these men were undoubtedly hastened to the tomb, "burned" to death, we might say, by fiery trials. And a great deal of burning, heart-burning, and headaches and prostration are caused today by various exposures of one kind or another as the time advances. No doubt that Day will bring forth further developments and trouble until the prophecies respecting it shall have been completely fulfilleduntil the picture of utter destruction of everything evil, both root and branch, is carried out.Mal. 4:1 [R4627]
LUKE 9:28-36 "This is my beloved Son. Hear him."
THE SCENE on the Mount of Transfiguration, to be appreciated, must be viewed from the standpoint of our Lords words. Eight days before, our Lord had promised his followers that some of them would not taste of death until they should see the Kingdom of God. He did not explain to them whether they would see the Kingdom in reality established in eight days or whether they would see a vision of the Kingdom. He left their minds full of wonder and expectancy, and then at the appropriate time took with him Peter, James and John, the three most prominent of the twelve apostles, who went up into the mountain, presumably Mount Hermon.
From a comparison of the accounts some have surmised that possibly the Lord and the apostles remained in the mountain all night, as Jesus sometimes did, away from the multitude, in quiet, in prayer. In one of the accounts we are told that the apostles were heavy with sleep, and the inference seems to be that they were awakened at the proper time to see the vision; that its glorious grandeur was too great for them; that they fell upon their faces in fear, which was increased as a very dense, black cloud enveloped them, and when they heard a voice in the cloud saying, "This is my beloved Son: Hear him." One account shows that it was necessary for the Lord to touch the apostles, saying, "Arise, and be not afraid."Jesus said it was a vision
So far as the apostles were concerned everything that they saw was so actual, so real, that they supposed the whole matter actual, just as John in the visions of Revelation saw, heard, spoke, etc., and just as Paul explains that in one of his visions matters were so real that he could not have told whether he was in the body or out of the bodywhether he was still on earth having a vision or whether he had actually been taken away for a time and shown realities. Thus it is with all visions: their every detail is as actual and as perfect as though it were a fact. Our assurance that this transfiguration was a vision is in our Lords words: "And as they were coming down from the mountain Jesus commanded them, saying, Tell the vision to no man until the Son of man be risen from the dead." When we have our Lords direct statement that it was a vision it would be folly for us to perplex ourselves to explain it upon any other theory or hypothesis, such, for instance, as wondering how Moses and Elias could be there without a resurrection, especially when it is remembered that Jesus was the first to rise from the dead, "the firstborn from the dead."Rom. 8:29; Col. 1:18
THE MEANING OF THE VISION
Our Lords words of eight days previous show clearly that the vision was intended to be a foreshowing of the glories and honors of the Kingdom in some sense of the word. It represented then the Son of man coming into his Kingdom into his dominion. Peter, one of those who saw the vision, informs us that he got this lesson from itthat he was persuaded respecting the majesty of Jesus, of his dignity as the Messianic King, and the fact that all there pictured in vision would eventually be fulfilled. He says, "We have not followed cunningly devised fables when we declared unto you the power and coming of Jesus, but were eye-witnesses of his majesty [his kingly glory] when we were with him in the holy mount."2 Pet. 1:16,18
The central figure, therefore, of that vision was Jesus himself. Moses and Elias were merely accessories to fill out the picture. It was the Son of man who was to be honored, whose kingly dominion was to be represented, so that the disciples, who were to be so severely tried in their faith respecting him very shortly, might have a firm conviction respecting the authenticity of his claims as Messiahthat they might be able to witness a good confession of him to others, and be prepared through faith to accomplish the work of God to which they had been chosen as apostles of the Lamb that the three who were with the Lord were representatives of the twelve, in whom the latter would all have confidence.
"HE WAS TRANSFIGURED BEFORE THEM"
The account is very explicit; his countenance was changed, his raiment became white and glistening, the heavenly glory fairly shining in his entire person. He was not changed actually. That change from human to divine, beginning at his baptism, when he received the anointing of the holy Spirit, the begetting of the holy Spirit to the divine nature, did indeed develop, change him from glory to glory, shining out in all the conduct of life; but his actual change did not occur until three days after Calvary, when he was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father. Then that which was sown in weakness was raised in power, that which was sown in dishonor of men was raised in glory, that which was sown in the fleshly body which knew no sin, but was holy, harmless, separate from sinners, was raised a spiritual body, filled with all the fulness of the divine nature.
What the disciples saw, therefore, was not this change from human to divine, but a vision of ita picture of it. Somewhat similar was the vision granted to Saul of Tarsus on his way to Damascus, when smitten down by the light above the brightness of the sun at noonday. He declares that the Lord appeared to him at noonday, a light shining above the brightness of the sun. Something of this brightness, this light, this transcendent grandeur was pictured before the three apostles in the holy mount, and no wonder that they fell upon their faces with fearthey were in trepidation in the presence of such glorious grandeur. Respecting the divine glory we read that Christ, "whom no man hath seen or can see,"since his resurrection"dwelleth in a light which no man can approach unto."
Whenever even a vision is granted to mortals of this heavenly grandeur they must be specially protected of the Lord that the glorious brightness does not injure the mortal eye. In the case of Saul of Tarsus, we know that, lacking this protection, his sight was destroyed and he was blind for certain days, until by a miracle his sight was partially restored, though even then the defect remained a thorn in the flesh to his last momentsa reminder of how once he had been a persecutor of the just, an injurious person as respects the Lords causereminding him also of the propriety of humility, and assisting in keeping him very humble, so that he describes himself as being one of the least of all saints.
Indeed we may safely conclude that those of the Lords people who have seen with any kind of vision the glories of the Lord or have had a glimpse through the eyes of their understanding or otherwise of the glorious character and person of our Lord and God, have had the opportunity of realizing more than ever their own littleness and insufficiency. As it was the three most advanced ones of the Lords followers who were granted that vision of the Kingdom, so since then it is the most advanced of the Lords followers, the most humble, the most zealous, the most faithful, who are granted the clearest visions, the clearest perceptions of the glories of the Kingdom, and these are permitted to reveal to others of the elect little flock more and more of the grandeurs of the divine arrangement as each may be able to hear and to appreciate and to understand the same.
What wonderful privileges are ours at this day! Abiding in the Lords love and favor, with loyalty of heart toward him, it is now our privilege of going up into the Mount of God and seeing wonderful things. Our visions are of a different kind. Before us are opened the glorious things of all the pastthe divine revelations to Abraham and the prophets and through Jesus and the apostlesall of these things now are opened before us, radiant with harmonious beauty. Ours is a vision of Moses and the Lamb, and ours is a picture of Moses and the Lamb in the very highest and grandest sense.
"MOSES AND ELIAS APPEARED"
No intimation is given to us of why Moses and Elias were introduced into the vision. We must draw an inference. Since it was a vision, and as Christ was shown in the vision as a King, these two faithful ones of the past must be viewed in their relationship to Jesus and the Kingdom. These two, as will be remembered, like Jesus, had fasted each forty days: thus representatively they were one with the Lord in a remarkable devotion to the heavenly Fatherin the practice of self-denial from a desire to be acceptable to the Lord and to fully acquaint themselves with the divine purposes.
Moses evidently represented the Mosaic dispensation. He stood as a representative of Israel after the flesh, and possibly as a representative also of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Enoch and all the faithful of the past, as we read, "Moses was faithful as a servant over all his house." Are they to have a place in the Kingdom? We answer, Yes. The divine promise is that when Messiah shall be glorified, the ancient worthies whom Moses evidently represented in this visionwill be made princes in all the earth, agents or representatives of the heavenly Kingdom, its ministers of righteousness amongst men. (Psa. 45:16) Nevertheless those ancient worthies, as we have previously seen, are separate and distinct as a class from the Church. John the Baptist, the last of the prophets, than whom the Lord declares no prophet was greater, belonged to that fleshly house of faithful servants of God, who instead of being the fathers shall shortly be the children of Christ and serve the cause they love as the princes of Messiah. But they without us shall not be made perfect: God having reserved some better thing for us.Heb. 11:40
ELIJAH, THE CHURCHS REPRESENTATIVE
Elijah in the vision evidently represented the Gospel Church. We have already pointed out that Elijahs work was an attempted reformation, such as the Church has been commissioned to attempt throughout this Gospel age. We have already pointed out (see Studies In The Scriptures, Vol. II., chap. 8) that Elijah typified the Gospel Church in all of his course; that the 1260 days of the drouth and famine while Elijah was in the wilderness prefigured the 1260 years of drouth and famine while the Church was in the wilderness during the "dark ages"; that the persecutor of Elijah was Jezebel, while the persecutor of the Church is symbolically called Jezebel. (Rev. 2:20) We have seen that the emergence of Elijah from the wilderness and the measure of reformation that took place prefigured the Reformation movement of the sixteenth century and onward, and that his subsequent fleeing from Jezebel represented later persecutions, and that Elijahs eventual taking away in a whirlwind, in a chariot of fire, illustrates the ultimate gathering of the last members of the Gospel Church in connection with the time of trouble.
Now look at the vision, the picture, and note its significance Jesus glorified, transfigured, radiant like the sun as in Revelation (1:14-16), and with him in the Kingdom glory and brightness, represented by Elijah, the Elijah class, the Gospel Church, the little flock, his joint-heirs in the Kingdom, and also associated with him the ancient worthies portrayed by Moses. A conversation is represented as taking place respecting our Lords crucifixion. And so it is that not only the ancient ones trusted in a sacrifice to come, but the Gospel Church trusts in the sacrifice already accomplished for her, and there is a full communion or fellowship between the two. Furthermore, when the Kingdom shall be established, assuredly all of the Lords faithful ones will look to Calvary and its great sacrifice for sins as being the very center of the divine program or arrangement on which hangs all the blessings both for the Church and for the world through the Kingdom of Gods dear Son.
"THIS IS MY BELOVED SON: HEAR HIM"
The essence of the entire vision was to impress upon the minds of the apostles the fact that Jesus was the Messiah, that he was worthy of being heard, that he was the mouthpiece of God, that he that honored him honored the Father also. This voice was heard from the cloud, which represented the darkness and trouble which would be permitted to come upon the Lords followers in the midst of all the trials of the dark days that were coming upon them in connection with Jesus rejection by the Jews, his scourging, dishonor, crucifixion, death, burial. In all this they were to remember the voice of the Father, "This is my beloved Son," and were not to be discouraged nor allow their faith to grow faint. Similarly throughout this Gospel age the Lord has frequently permitted the same dark cloud to come over his faithful ones, that they might be the better prepared also to listen to his Word, his message, "This is my beloved Son," and this vision of the Holy Mount is an assurance respecting the glorious Kingdom which he will establish, which will be the end of darkness and trouble.
As the apostles were overpowered by the brilliancy of the vision and feared when they entered the cloud and heard the voice, so we in our weak and imperfect conditions sometimes find it difficult to grasp the glorious things which God hath set before us. The picture of the things unseen as yet is so wonderful as to amaze us. The fact that we have been invited to be heirs of God and associates with Jesus Christ our Lord in his Kingdom is too wonderful for us to grasp. We begin to fear lest we should fail in so great an undertaking. It is well for us to realize our own littleness and unworthiness, and to see that the whole matter is of the divine arrangement. It is well for us under the circumstances that the dark cloud of trouble and opposition is permitted to keep us very humble, that we may indeed fall on our faces in the dust. It is well that we should listen to the voice from heaven, saying, "This is my beloved Son: hear him." It is well that we should hear the Son assuring us that all things shall work together for good to those who love God. It is well that we should exercise faith in him that speaketh from heaven, lest we should become weary and faint in our minds. It is well that the Master teach us as he taught his disciples, and that looking up we should see Jesus only, that we should realize that in him alone is our help, that God hath laid help upon one who is mighty to deliver, and that so realizing that all of our help is in Christ Jesus we should hold fast to the relationship which we have already secured through faith in his blood and through consecration to him.
MAKING THREE TABERNACLES
The impulsive Peter cried out, "Lord, it is good for us to be here: let us now make three tabernaclesone for thee, one for Moses and one for Elias": not knowing what he said. How many there are who, Peter-like, want to be doing something, want to be rearing earthly tabernacles. How few at first catch the real spirit of the vision and realize that it represents things that are yet to be attained and not things of the present time of temporary tabernacles. All about us we see the disposition to rear costly temples of an earthly kind to the Lord, and a neglect of the vision in its real meaning, sentiment, teachingthat it points to the future, to the enduring perfect Temple condition, when everything imperfect and temporal shall have passed away and the Kingdom of Gods dear Son shall have been fully established. Let us remember that Jesus did not accept Peters proposition for earthly temporary tabernacles, but directed the minds of his followers to the eternal things of the Kingdom, which are to be brought to pass in Gods due time. May the Masters touch ever keep us more and more awake to the privileges of our position, to the glorious opportunities that are granted to us of participating with him in his Kingdom. [R3793]
"Wait on the Lord, be of good courage, and He shall strengthen thine heart."Psalm 27:14
THE expression, "Wait on the Lord," does not mean so much a rendering of service to the Lord, as a waiting for the Lord, a waiting before Him, to see what is His will for us. We do not understand that it has the thought of ministering to the Lord, as a servant would wait on his master, but of patient watching until we learn what our Lord would have us do. Each child of God should wait to be guided by Him, and not run on before Him unmindful of what is the Lords purpose for him. "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths," is the counsel of the Wise Man. (Proverbs 3:5,6) Many of the children of God have made mistakes along this line.
Having committed our ways to the Lord, we should go forward only as He leads us. If we are not clear as to His will, let us not be in too great a hurry, nor try to guide ourselves, but present the matter to the Lord in earnest prayer, asking that we may have no will or way of our own, but may be guided only as He wills. Then let us wait and watch for the indication of His providence, and follow as He seems to lead, leaving the results with Him. We are not to follow our own choice, without evidences that it is Gods will. The question may sometimes be asked of us, "Are you going to do this way or that way? Are you going to this place or to that place?" Our attitude and our reply, if we have not as yet clearly ascertained the Lords will in the matter, should be, "I am not yet fully decided. I will consider the Word of the Lord, to see how His instructions seem to apply in this case." Or, "I am watching to see what the Lords providences seem to indicate, and am praying over the matter, that I may be guided aright." The poet expressed the right thought:
"I am afraid to touch Things that involve so much."
Those who wait on the Lord do not always seem to prosper best, from outward appearances. But the Psalmist declares that we should be of good courage as we thus wait on God. We are pursuing the right course, and shall have His blessing. We make no mistake when we wait upon Him. Others may seem to be getting ahead of us at first, but we are to "wait on the Lord."
Take no step unless you feel sure that the Lord is directing and guiding. Watch for the meaning of His providences. Study His Word. Let not your faith depart from its moorings. "Be of good courage!" "Good" courage is courage of a good degree, not merely a little courage. Be of strong courage; "and He shall strengthen thine heart; wait, I say, on the Lord." The word heart here may be understood to mean the soul, the beingespecially the intelligent portion of us. The Lord will support us, He will fortify us and make us strong to bear, strong to do His will as it is made known to us. They that wait upon the Lord shall not want any good thing.TRAITS NECESSARY TO SUCCESS
Courage, fortitude, persistency, in the service of the Lord are very necessary to the child of God. Such traits are needful even to the world. Whoever lacks these qualities of character is pretty sure to make poor success in life. Lack of courage, lack of hope, is one of the chief causes of failure in the world. Our text, however, calls attention, not to the world, but to those who belong to the Lord. The precious promises of Gods Word, which are only for His people, those who The children of God will have trials and experiences similar to those of the world, besides experiences and trials peculiar to them as followers of Christ. These come not to us in a haphazard way, however, as to the world, but are under the direct supervision of the Lord.
Those who are new in the service of the Master might think for a time that matters should run smoothly for them, that they should not have the difficulties common to the world; that now as they were Gods children He would protect them from afflictions and mistreatment. But as they study the Lords Word, they soon see that this is not true; they see that they are to walk by faith, and not by sight. They learn that they are not to expect to have outward and tangible manifestations of His favor, but that they are to suffer with Christthat hereunto they were called. (1 Peter 2:20,21; Acts 14:22) They learn that they must be obedient, and they come to see what obedience means.
The Master learned obediencelearned what obedience meant"by the things which He suffered." The narrow way is not an easy path. His followers learn that the Lord is now calling a class that have faith in Him, a class who accept His Word fully. In time they come, too, to see that "If God be for them, who can be against them?" If matters do not go as they had expected, if trials come, they will say, "We know that all things work for good to them that love God."
So these learn, as they are guided by the Word of the Lord, that they are to be of good courage as they pursue their onward way. There are many difficulties to be surmounted, and it requires courage to surmount difficulties. But the courage born of faith in God and in His "exceeding great and precious promises" strengthens them when otherwise they might be overwhelmed. It gives them a strength to which all others are strangers.
TRUST WHERE WE CANNOT TRACE
If a child of God becomes discouraged and loses his hope and strength, it is because he has lost his hold upon the Lords promises to help. To lose courage is to lose faith. Loss of faith and courage makes a child of God powerless before his foes. We must trust our Father even when the meaning of His providences is veiled from our eyes and when our efforts to serve Him seem to be hedged up. We look back at the Apostles and their experiences. The Apostle Paul was very desirous of carrying the Message of the Gospel to others. Several times he tried to go into Asia, but he was not permitted to go. He began to wonder why this was, why his efforts continued to prove failures. But the Lord revealed to him that he was to go into Greece instead. In his first Epistle to the Church at Thessalonica, he writes, "Wherefore we would have come to you, even I Paul, once and again, but Satan hindered us." (1 Thessalonians 2:18) But we are sure that the Lord would overrule the machinations of Satan and cause them to work out His own glory, and the lesson of patience and submission would be a blessing to His children.
We see that in the Garden of Gethsemane our Lord had not lost faith in God, but was fearful for a time. As He came to the closing hours of His experiences on earth, He wondered whether or not He had faithfully conformed to all the Fathers requirements. He knew that the slightest infraction of Gods Law would mean His death. Had He completed His sacrifice acceptably? Would He be ushered from death into Heavenly glory by a resurrection? Then He received from the Father the assurance that He had been altogether faithful. All the trials and difficulties which the Master underwent in the laying down of His life preceded Him as a sweet incense, a precious perfume, beyond the veil, into the Most Holy as shown in the type.Leviticus 16:12,13
A PROPER FEAR
After the Jewish high priest had crumbled the sweet incense upon the fire of the golden altar, after its fragrance had penetrated beyond the second veil and had covered the Ark of the Covenant and the Mercy Seat, he then himself passed beneath the veil. Every time the high priest raised the veil thus to pass under it he probably feared; for in case he had failed in any particular to carry out his sacrificial work acceptably he would have died as he passed under the veil. So our Lord Jesus knew that His work must be acceptable in the most absolute sense, else He would forever forfeit His existence. He would become as though He had not been; He would lose all.
There was no earthly being to give our Lord encouragement along this line. There was no one to say, You have done everything perfectly; you could not have done better. So the Master went alone to the Father for this assurance and for strength and courage. He prayed, "Not My will, but Thine be done"; and the Father heard His prayer and gave Him the needed assurance and strength. He was heard in respect to that which He feared; and during all that night and the following day, up to the hour of His crucifixion, He was calm and courageous.
So the Lords people should have a proper fear. Proper fear is good for them. But it should not proceed to the point of hindering their efforts and dissipating their courage. They should have the fear enjoined by St. Paul when he said, "Let us fear, lest a promise being left us of entering into His rest, any of us should seem to come short of it." (Hebrews 4:1) This proper fear the Master had. He never became discouraged, never held back from the work which the Father had given Him to do. His fear was a filial one, which engendered a watchfulness and care, a circumspection of walk and of life, that He might be wholly pleasing to the Father. This all Christians should have. We should watch lest we neglect some privilege or duty.
This proper fear will lead us to careful inspection of ourselves. We should ask ourselves, "What do I believe? Why do I believe it? We should go over the ground again. We should again go over in our minds the proofs of the correctness of our Faith. By so doing, the Lord will strengthen us in the Faith, He will strengthen our heart. If any hope in themselves, and lean upon their own strength mainly, it will be to their advantage that the Lord shall allow them to come to the point of discouragement, that they may become more timid, may lose all self-assurance, may realize their utter helplessness and weakness and their need of leaning wholly upon the Lord, of looking constantly to Him for guidance and support. As the Lords children thus learn to wait upon Him, to them is fulfilled the promise, "They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint."Isaiah 40:31 [R5711]
"For ye were sometimes [once] darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord; walk as children of light."Ephesians 5:8
JOHN the beloved Apostle of Jesus wrote, "God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all." This figure of speech pervades the entire Bible. Everywhere light stands for Truth, for righteousness; and darkness represents error, superstition, sin. Our Lord Jesus being in full harmony with the Father, was the Light of the world. To this end came He into the world. One of the titles He assumed was "The light of the world." (John 8:12) Although He was in the world, the world knew Him not. They loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.
The Apostle Paul explains that the darkness on the part of the world comes either directly or indirectly from the Adversary. He says that "the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them that believe not." Then he proceeds to tell us why this is so. Satan does this "lest the light of the glorious Gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them," shine into their hearts. In order to keep mankind away from God, Satan has put light for darkness and darkness for light. This has been largely through good people, whom Satan has more or less used, ignorantly on their part, as his tools. As a matter of fact, darkness is very gross in the world, and light is seen only by the few. Thus the Apostle prays for the Church that the eyes of their understanding may be enlightened, indicating that the eyes of even the consecrated people of God are not fully enlightened, not fully opened. He prays for this in order that they may be able to comprehend what is the length, the breadth, the height and the depth of the love of God, the love of Christ, which passeth all understanding.
We perceive, then, that to see Godto see the Truth, to know the deep things of Godis to have a very glorious conception of the Almighty, of His character and of His Plan. We see that the Adversary tries to keep us in the dark, and that God is permitting this for a timepermitting the ignorance, superstition, sin, darkness, which envelops mankind. But those who learn of the Savior whom God has provided, who put themselves into His hands, who study Gods Word, and thus struggle against the darkness of error, superstition and infirmity, get their eyes more widely open. As they do this, they become stronger of character. So there is a good purpose served in these battles. We are, therefore, to maintain a good fight against sin and against selfishness.
THE TRANSFER FROM DARKNESS TO LIGHT
A question may be asked as to how we pass from the one class to the other, how we were changed from being children of darkness to being children of light. We were once of the darkness class. We were once in ignorance and misunderstanding of Godin unbelief. We were confused with the gloom of the Dark Ages. But now we are enjoying the light. No one of us as yet has full light, but some grow more rapidly than others in grace, in knowledge and in love. After our begetting of the Spirit we progress in the development of the fruits of the Spirit; we are transformed in mind and finally perfected in the First Resurrection.
This transfer from darkness to light, then, is accomplished in a more or less gradual way. The first thing we needed was knowledgeto have some measure, some glimpse of light. So if we were fortunate enough to have, as natural men and women, some glimpse of Gods goodness, some appreciation logically of what is Truth and what is falsehood, what is reasonable and what is unreasonableto that extent we were favored in our birth. The Lord intimates that not all are called, not all are drawn. (John 6:37,44; 1 Corinthians 1:26-29) To have this measure of light before we consecrate ourselves to God through Christ indicates that circumstances have favored us; either the circumstances of our birth or of our lives have been favorable to us. Under these favorable influences our eyes have been to some degree opened; and we have become more and more ready to sacrifice everything to obtain the light. But if we are not of the right disposition, when we get a little light we prefer to fall back into the darkness rather than to walk in the light and to have the difficulties and trials which loyalty to the light will bring. In order to be worthy of more light we must have the character which will follow the light as it is seen. "If any man will be My disciple," said the Master, "let him deny himself, take up his cross and follow Me"let him give up his own will, deny himself, die to himself, and give himself fully into the hands of the Lord.
"CHILDREN OF LIGHT" TO BE PROVEN
To those who see but dimly, this is a large contract. But those who love righteousness and hate iniquity to the extreme will follow the light whatever the cost. The Lord is gracious to these; and when they consecrate themselves to Him, on His terms, He gives them the begetting of the Holy Spirit. This is the start of a new influx of light; for the natural man cannot receive the deep things of God, because they are spiritually discerned. Only the spiritual can grasp them. (1 Corinthians 2:9-14) Then the Apostle proceeds to say that we, the Church, are able to understand these things, yea, the deep things of God, because we are begotten of God, begotten as New Creatures, to the new nature. We do not understand them all from the start, but more and more they are revealed to us as we progress in the narrow way. This spiritual understanding is a guiding light, an inspiration to righteousness; it creates an enthusiasm for righteousness. Thus we become children of the light.
After we have once become children of light, there are testings, provings, for us to undergo. The Lord Jesus tells us that if we would be faithful to the light we must let our light so shine as to show forth the praises of our Father in Heaven. He forewarns us that many will not appreciate our good works, but will say all manner of evil against us falsely, for His names sake. He assures us that the children of darkness hate the children of light; but He admonishes that in these experiences we should "rejoice and be exceeding glad; for great is your reward in Heaven." Such is the sentiment of the children of the light that they will rejoice even in persecution and in tribulation. As they let the light, the Truth, shine out, the error will be manifested to those of right understanding and of noble heart. The children of the darkness, of the error, will be angry with us for showing up the error in which they are entrenched, and will persecute us as they did the Master.
THE FINAL TEST OF THE CHURCH
It is reasonable to expect that the time will yet come when all who are faithful to the Lord will be treated in like manner as was our Lord. Indeed, it is already coming. It behooves us individually to put on the whole armor of light, that we may be able to withstand whatever persecution comes upon us from the blinded followers of the Adversary. It does not necessarily follow that the instruments of Satan are murderers and thugs. When we look back at our Lords First Advent, we see that those who were most successfully used of the Adversary against our Lord Jesus were the chief religionists, the Scribes, the Pharisees, the Doctors of the Jewish Lawprofessedly men of God and leaders of His people. But "His servants ye are to whom ye render service," said the Lord. Those, therefore, who rendered service in the way of persecuting the Master, and finally in crucifying Him, were the servants of Satan, no matter whose servants they thought they were.
But we are not to think that because of this they will be condemned to eternal torture. We are to remember, too, that they were servants of Satan partially on account of ignorance. As the Apostle Peter said to the Jews on the Day of Pentecost, "I wot that through ignorance ye did it, as did also your rulers." St. Paul also bears witness of this fact, saying, "For if they had known, they would not have crucified the Lord of Glory." They did these things because they were the blinded servants of Satan, though if their hearts had been true and humble, they would have been able to see, as did the faithful "remnant" of Israelthe "Israelites indeed." The Jews who crucified Jesus went into an awful time of trouble therefor; but soon now, we believe, they shall "look upon Him [with the eye of faith] whom they pierced, and shall mourn for Him as one mourneth for His only son"; and God "will pour upon them the Spirit of prayer and of supplication."Zechariah 12:9,10
And so presumably today there are really good men who are servants of Satan and do not know it. If any know and yet do such evil works, it would seem that they will have a very serious account to settle. God alone knows the culpability of each. Their enlightenment too is near, and great will be the confusion of face of those who, because of unfaithfulness, have been instruments of the Adversary to persecute, malign and afflict the true children of God, who faithfully proclaimed the Truth as it is in Christ Jesus. [R5718]
"Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left [us] of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it."Hebrews 4:1
THE Truth is always to be spoken humbly, but fearlessly. The Christian is not at liberty to speak anything but the Truth. If he is a professed minister of the Gospel when the Truth reaches him, he is not to continue to preach error just because the congregation employing him do not want the Truth. A worldling in the pulpit would have no qualms of conscience. He would reason, "I am giving these people the very things they want. They are paying my salary, and this is purely a business proposition." The worldling calling himself a minister of Christ would take this position because he had never received the Spirit, the disposition, of the Truththe Holy Spirit of begetting.
But one who receives the Truth in the love of it, who imbibes its spirit, would say, "I now see that many of the things I have been preaching for years are injurious, dishonoring to God, misrepresenting His character, and to some extent, at least, turning people away from the Truth. This is the very opposite of what I wish to do. I cannot longer dispense error. I am not an ambassador of a denomination or a congregation, I am an ambassador for God. I am not the servant of this congregation, but the servant of the Lord. If I should still preach error when I have come to see the Truth, I would be guilty before God."THE HONOR OF OUR AMBASSADORSHIP
Such a faithful servant of God would by his uncompromising attitude lose his standing and his honor amongst men. But all this is not to be considered; for he would gain instead the favor and blessing of the Lord. The great Apostle declared that he counted all things but loss and dross, that he might win Christ and "be found in Him"that he might gain a place in the everlasting Kingdom of Messiah. Those who succeed in so doing will win the "pearl of great price." So, then, the speaking of the Truth is absolutely essential to the life of the Christian. The Truth of Gods Word is to be enshrined above all else in the heart of the child of God, and he should esteem it a blessed privilege to speak it.
Our power of speech, of communicating our thoughts to others, is the greatest power we possessthe most far-reaching. It is a potent factor for either good or evil, for either Truth or error. The opportunity to speak the Truth, to confess Christ before men, either publicly or privately, is a great privilege. In order to be a servant pleasing to the Lord, one who can be effectively used of Him, one must speak the Truth in love. When one has just entered the family of God, less might be reasonably expected of him than after he had been for some time in the family. We, as Gods dear children are to grow in the likeness of our dear Elder Brother, our Pattern, our Head. We are to "grow up into Him in all things." We are to recognize that He is the Head of the Church; and that if we are to be members of His Body in glory, we must be developed. We are to bear the fruitage of the Holy Spirit, that we may be qualified to share in the future that glorious Kingdom which is to bless the world.
"EXPRESSION DEEPENS IMPRESSION"
We are to exercise our function of ambassadorshipwe are to show forth the praises of Him who hath called us out of the darkness into His marvelous light. And in telling the Message of His Grace we shall grow spiritually. "He that watereth shall himself also be watered." As we proclaim the Truth from an honest, earnest, loving heart we shall become more and more filled with it ourselves. "There is that scattereth and yet increaseth; and there is that withholdeth and it tendeth to poverty"to leanness of soul. As we give out to others, our own store of blessing is increased. We are to develop day by day this quality of love. Why is this? Because it will make us like God, and that is the one thing to be desiredthe one thing necessary.
Our God has other glorious attributes besides Love, but this attribute is the especially predominating, overruling quality of His character. Gods Justice co-operates with His Love. And His Wisdom would not attempt to carry out any plans that His Love would not approve. So as we grow, this quality of Love should be more and more manifest. We are to see that our words are loving, kind, gentle. We are to curb any tendency to self-glorification or show in telling of Gods great Plan to others. Let us keep self out of sight, that the beauty of the Truth may be seen. Our manner of presenting the Message to others has much to do with its effectiveness. Speaking the Truth in love, we shall not only be accomplishing much more for others, but the Message will also be more impressed upon our own mind.
Whoever appreciates these things of God and then speaks forth in love and sincerity will receive a blessing in his own heart and mind, and the Truth will become clearer and sweeter. In helping others he will be helping himself. Thus the various features of the Plan of God become more firmly engraved upon his mind.NATURAL QUALITIES THAT NEED RESTRAINT
In the cases of the stronger characters which come into Christ, we see a special need for watchfulness in the proclamation of the Truth. Those naturally lacking in combativeness would not be inclined to bring strong pressure to bear upon others in connection with their presentation of Truth. If their Message did not seem to be favorably received, they would be likely to feel, They do not like to hear what I have to say; so I will not talk any more on the subject. They might be too easily discouraged. But those who have more force, or combativeness, are liable to manifest this disposition in the way they present the Truth. They are inclined to be too forcefulto present the matter as an obligation.
But we are to remember that this is not a compulsory matter now. It is now an invitation, and is designed only for the meek, the teachable. By and by force will be needed, and used. Those who now have the hearing ear need only the word of instruction and counsel. Those who require force are not the ones the Lord is now seeking. If any of the Lords ambassadors endeavor to crowd the Message upon others, it will arouse antagonism and lose its power. Thus our King would not be so well served, and hence would not be so well pleased.
Others of the Lords people may have great approbativeness. They may have pride and may wish to show off their ability in language, or their skill in handling the Scriptures. They might give out the Message with the idea of arousing in others the thought, "See how much he knowshe is a master at handling the Bible!" Approbativeness seems to present quite a subtle temptation to many. This tendency of the flesh must be very carefully watched and subdued, or it will ruin the usefulness of the Christian and greatly hinder his own growth. Some naturally like to be in the lime-light, while others are just as anxious to keep out of it. The one might have to force himself in order to speak the Truth in public as an ambassador, while the other would need to curb himself somewhat. The only way for the latter to do is to learn to speak the Truth in love and in humility to speak it out of love to God and love to the brethren. The Plan of the Ages is Gods Plan. We have nothing whereof to boast. Therefore we should present that Plan in meekness, gentleness, brotherly-kindness and love. [R5720]
See Study III ("The Bible As A Divine Revelation") found in "The Divine Plan Of The Ages."
1. The opening pages of the Bible record the creation and __________________of man. (Genesis 1,2,3)
2. The closing pages of the Bible tell of mans recovery from the _______________. (Revelation 20:21,22)
3. Satan started his deceptions when he deceived ____________. (Genesis 3:4)
4. Satan will be destroyed at the conclusion of the "little season" following the _______________________Age. (Hebrews 2:14; Revelation 20:7-9)
5. The ___________ will accomplish the restitution of all the willing and obedient of mankind. (Acts 3:19-23)
6. The seed of the woman will eventually crush out ___________________. (Genesis 3:15)
7. The ransom price was needed if the demands of ________________agains Adam and his race were to be met. (I Timothy 2:3-6)
8. The deliverer greater than Moses is the ______________. (Deuteronomy 18:15,19)
9. The nation of ______________will be used by the Deliverer to bless all the families of the earth.
10. The bride of Christ is being selected from both the Jews and the _______________________. (John 1:11,12; Acts 15:14ANSWERS
Jealousy of another is always an evil quality; as the text states, it is "cruel as sheol," which engulfs all mankind; it is unreasoning and insatiable. One has said of it, "Jealousy is reallywhether so recognized or nota thirst for blood, life; at any moment, when reason is a little weaker than usual, jealousy is ready to kill the thing it hates or the thing it loves." It signifies either apprehension of being displaced in the affections of another, or of being outdone by a rival in matters of favor or popularity with others.
The jealousy mentioned in our text is the most vicious kind of cruelty, committed in the name of love, or through envy; it is one of the great foes which confront every Christian and is closely allied to hatred, malice, envy, strife, and should be slain on sight as an enemy of God and man, and of every good principle; and to the extent that its presence has defiled the heart even for a moment, a cleansing by the spirit of holiness and love should be invoked. It is not only a cruel monster of itself, but its poisonous fangs are almost certain to inflict pain and trouble upon others. The mind which is once poisoned with jealousy so rapidly brings everything within its environment to its own color and character that it is with great difficulty that it can be entirely cleansed from it.
"I, THE LORD THY GOD, AM A JEALOUS GOD"
Nevertheless, love, wisdom, hatred, jealousy, are attributed to God and should all be in us. We read, "I, the Lord thy God, am a jealous God." If man could have his hatred and his jealousies along the same lines as God, it would be all right. We, as God does, should hate sin, but not the sinner. Gods jealousy is just and is sure to bring to the sinner a just punishment. He tells us that when we have other gods, we must consider him jealous; but the impropriety of jealousy is when it leads to bitterness and other like qualities to which the fallen human mind is subject and liable. When the Lord announces himself as a jealous God, he means us to understand that he wants all of our affections, all of our confidence, our entire trust. He wants that we should be so fully in accord with him that his will shall be supreme in all the affairs of life.
This is not to be considered selfishness on the part of the Almighty; because this, under his overruling providences, means to his creatures the largest amount of happiness, the largest amount of success in the duties and affairs of the present life, and the fullest preparation for the blessings which God has prepared for, and promised to, those who love him."I AM JEALOUS OVER YOU WITH A GODLY JEALOUSY"
When St. Paul wrote, "I am jealous over you with a godly jealousy" (2 Cor. 11:2), we cannot understand that he was actuated by a mean jealousy, but that he was jealous for, or in the interest of, the Corinthians; he was jealous also for the things that were right and that they should be in accord with them. His jealousy, therefore, was an earnest, anxious solicitude and vigilant watchfulness, a godly jealousy for the best interests of the Lords precious Truth. This, of course, is a jealousy such as we all should feel in the Church. If we see a condition such as that to which the Apostle refers, a departure from the simplicity and purity which is in Christ, we should feel, "This is all wrong," and should do all in our power and in reason to correct this difficulty. So, if we see anything in one member of the Church that would be likely to cast a reflection upon the Lords cause, we should feel it proper to put forth efforts to correct that one, lest harm be done.
When we have that jealousy in the Lords cause, it is different from a jealousy in our own interest. Very few get too jealous in the Lords cause; however, it would be well, even in his cause, to scrutinize our words, deeds, etc., properly; and while we should be very zealous, very jealous in the Lords cause, yet we must be very sure that it is not a private matter; and should consider whether or not we are "busybodies." Then, too, we should consider whether it may be a proper thing for the elders to deal with, and whether or not it would be our duty to go to the elders. We should all have a great deal of jealousy for the Lords cause and the Lords work, but be very careful that it is not the bitter kind mentioned in the text; in other words, we should be very sure that it is not jealousy of another, but jealousy for another, for his interests and best welfare. [R4789]
Question: Why is it necessary to strengthen the will?Answer: "He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls."Prov. 25:28 Forceful, indeed, is the simile found in our text. A city, especially in olden times, was a place where people were congregated for mutual advantage and protection.
Marauders were abroad ready to plunder and the wall of the city was very much in the nature of a preservation from harm, that the inhabitants might be able to protect their valuables, their rights, their interests.
For a like purpose God, in creating man, gave him a will. It is one of the strong elements of mans likeness to his Creator. We may have a will, however weak our bodies, or, however strong our passions. That will may be strong whether we are brought into outward subjection to others or not. Our bodies may be enslaved, but our wills cannot be enslaved without our permission. Our will is something which cannot be taken from us; but it needs to be defended; it needs to be repaired; it needs to be made strong in weak places.
THE NECESSITY FOR STRENGTHENING THE WILL
Those who do not attend to this and do not strengthen the will where they find special liability to assaults, are sure to have it much broken down so that, by and by, they reach a place where they have no will, no self-control. Just as in a devastated city the protecting walls have been destroyed and the enemy finds easy access, so the human being who yields to sin and various weaknesses and assaults of the Adversary has lost his real manhood and is in danger of losing everything.
It is a part of our duty as Christians and as New Creatures to withstand all assaults of the Adversary; and these assaults come, not from visible forces alone, but from evil spirits; from those who seek to obtain possession of usas is the case with those who come under the control of these evil spirits. Their wills are subdued, broken down, and they are in the hands of their enemies, exactly as pictured in our text. Let such strive to cast out the enemy, to resist him, to strengthen the walls of their minds and to make an alliance at once with the Lord Jesus. Let them give their hearts fully and completely to him and accept his will, his Word, his guidance, in every matter.
True, when thus released from the bondage of sin and of Satan, they become bond-slaves of righteousness and of Christ; but when it is realized that to be the bond-servants of Christ means to serve that which is good and true and right, and to be in harmony with the Father, all should rejoice to place themselves fully and unreservedly under the control of him who hath so loved the entire race of mankind as to purchase them with his own precious blood. Surely all are safe in his hands!
But it is not sufficient that any of us merely place ourselves in the hands of the Lord. The Psalmist counsels us, "Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him, and he shall bring to pass; and he shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light." (Psa. 37:5) The Apostle Paul tells us that "It is God who worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure." (Phil. 2:13) He works by means of the promises in his Word; by means of the various experiences of life, its disciplines and humbling processes, and it is well that we take heed to each lesson as it comes if we desire to have a character developed in the likeness of our Head.
"HE THAT RULETH HIS OWN SPIRIT IS GREATER THAN HE THAT TAKETH A CITY"
We are not to lose sight of the fact that we are to be "workers together with God" in the accomplishment of the great transforming work to be wrought in us by the renewing of our minds. Our battle with self is our greatest battle, and we have the Lords Word for it that he that "ruleth his own spirit [his own mind, will] is better than he that taketh a city," because he has to that extent learned to exercise the combativeness of a true character in the right directionthat of self-control.
But, lest we become discouraged with the slowness of our progress, we should ever remember that the attainment of the control of our own spirits, our own minds, the bringing of these into full accord, full harmony, with the Lord and, so far as possible, into accord with all of the Lords people who are in accord with him, is attained "finally," as the Apostle informs us; it is gradually reached by "patient continuance in well doing," relying upon the Divine assurance of grace to help in every time of need.
Let us all strain every energy toward this final and grand development. We are to have it continually before us as the standard, the ideal, the aim, and although we may fail time after time, if we are rightly exercised in the matter we shall be stronger as the result of each failure; for each failure will show us, more clearly than we previously discerned, the weak points of our characters, naturally resulting from the fall. And if each weak point be carefully noted and guarded against as respects the future, we shall come, by and by, by the grace of God and under the direction of our great Teacher, by his Word and example and providential leadings, to that subdued condition, that harmonized condition, which will fully accord with the will of God.
To such, looking back, even the failures which, subsequently recognized, led to greater fortification against the wiles of the Adversary and the weaknesses of the flesh, may be seen to have been overruled by the Lord for our blessing, according to his promise that "all things shall work together for good to them that love God."Rom. 8:28 [R4789]
THE DATE OF THE MEMORIAL SUPPER
(Thursday Texts From Daily Heavenly Manna)
"This is the will of God [concerning you], even your sanctification."1 Thessalonians 4:3
COMING to the Scriptures to ascertain Gods will, we find that the great work which God asks of us is not work for others, but work in ourselves, subduing, conquering, ruling self. Everything else, thereforeour service for the household of faith, and our doing good unto all men, by home and foreign missions, etc. is subservient to this most important work within. For, as the apostle by inspiration declares, though we should preach the gospel eloquently to others, and though we should give all our goods to feed the poor, or become martyrs for a good cause, without love, the Spirit of Christ and the Father, developed in us as the ruling principle of life, we would be nothing, from the divine standpoint. Z.99-4 R2412:1
"Let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing." James 1:4
NOT a step of progress can be gained without the exercise of this grace of patience; and not one of the graces more beautifully adorns the Christian character, or wins the approval of the worlds conscience, or glorifies the God of all grace whose truth inspires it. It is long-suffering meekness earnestly striving to stem the tide of human imperfection and weakness, and endeavoring with painstaking care to regain the divine likeness; it is slow to wrath and plenteous in mercy; it is quick to perceive the paths of truth and righteousness, and prompt to walk in them; it is mindful of its own imperfections and sympathetic with the imperfections and shortcomings of others. Z.93-295 R3090:2
"Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled and unfaithful nothing is pure; but both their mind and conscience are defiled: they profess to have known God, but by their works they renounce Him, being abominable and disobedient, and as to every good work worthless."Titus 1:15,16 (Diaglott)
WHAT a terrible condition this is, and how careful all the Lord's people should be, not only to have pure hearts, pure minds, but also to keep their consciences very tender, in close accord with the Word of the Lord. This condition can only be maintained by judging ourselves, and that strictly and frequently, by the standard which God has given us, His law of love.
"I want the first approach to feel
Of pride or fond desire;
To catch the wandering of my will,
And quench the kindling fire."
"Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice."Philippians 4:4
WE cannot have too many rejoicing Christians, nor can they rejoice too much, if they rejoice in the Lord. This rejoicing is not necessarily boisterous, nor of necessity the reverse. It implies serenity, happiness, peace, pleasure of soul, however, and does not mean that noisy demonstration is essential, as some seem mistakenly to think....The only ones who can rejoice alway are those who are living very near to the Lord, and who can feel always their oneness with Him, and that His protection and care are over them, and that His promise is sure, that all things shall work together for their highest welfare, as New Creatures. Z.03-7 R3128:2
JUNE 10-14, 1998The convention will be held at the RAMADA INN DFW/WEST located at 2155 West Airport Freeway in Euless, Texas. Courtesy pickup service from and to the DFW Airport will be available.
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