Then Peter opened his mouth and said: “In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality. But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him.”
In the life and ministry of Simon Peter we see how God made an outstanding witness to His truth from most unlikely material. Who would have thought of the rugged, impetuous, profane fisherman Simon ever becoming the eloquent, spiritual preacher whose burning words would be used to the conversion of thousands of souls? But God works with what He brings, not simply with what He finds. Simon the fisherman, regenerated, becomes Peter the apostle, to whose sermons and letters the whole world owes a debt that it can never pay. While his ministry was primarily toward the Jews, yet the “branches run over the wall” (Genesis 49:22), and he was the one specially chosen of God to open the door of faith to the Gentiles (Acts 15:7). A man of strong prejudices, his narrow views were superseded by remarkable breadth of vision when taught by the Holy Spirit. Like his brother apostle, Paul, he delighted in “the true grace of God” (1 Peter 5:12), which knows no national or racial boundaries. Hence his messages are the delight of believers from among the nations whom he once despised, as well as among the Jews who have found in the Lord Jesus the promised Messiah.
Called from above, and heavenly men by birth,
(Who once were but the citizens of earth)
As pilgrims here, we seek a heavenly home,
Our portion, in the ages yet to come.
Where all the saints of ev’ry clime shall meet,
And each with all shall all the ransomed greet,
But oh, the height of bliss, my Lord, shall be
To owe it all, and share it all, with Thee!
—J. G. Deck
God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.
The miracles wrought by our Lord differ greatly from the wonders generally ascribed to the founders and holy men of the great pagan religious systems. He never performed a sign simply to astonish credulous people, or to thwart the will of His enemies. Behind all the works of power was human need and His own gracious compassion for suffering and troubled humanity. The cursing of the fig tree is the only seeming exception that proves the rule. It was an acted parable designed to illustrate Israel’s sad condition and her deep need. Jesus never stooped to anything approaching trickery or magic. He did not desire to be known as a wonder worker. He “went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil,” and in this way manifesting His Messianic mission. It had been predicted of old that in His days the dumb would sing, the blind see, the lame leap as an hart, and the poor be satisfied with bread (Isaiah 35:5, 6; Psalm 132:15).
At even, ere the sun was set,
The sick, O Lord, around Thee lay;
Oh, in what divers pains they met!
Oh, with what joy they went away!
Once more ‘tis even-tide, and we,
Oppressed with various ills draw near:
What if Thy form we cannot see?
We know and feel that Thou art here.
O Saviour Christ, our woes dispel:
For some are sick, and some are sad,
And some have never loved Thee well,
And some have lost the love they had.
Thy touch has still its ancient power,
No word from Thee can fruitless fall;
Hear in this solemn evening hour,
And in Thy mercy heal us all.
And he told us how he had seen an angel standing in his house, who said to him, “Send men to Joppa, and call for Simon whose surname is Peter; who will tell you words by which you and all your household will be saved.”
Consider the state of Cornelius before Peter preached to him. He was a moral, upright, devout man, God-fearing and generous. But all this in itself could not save (Acts 11:14). Yet it might be a mistake to conclude that there was no work of grace in his soul before he heard the clear gospel message. He seems to have turned to God from idolatry as a repentant, seeking soul, which would imply that he was quickened by the Spirit but needed clearer light in order that he might know and enjoy God’s salvation.
Where there is a desire for the knowledge of God, He will see that light is given. No man will be finally lost who honestly desired to be saved. The Lord will bring the seeking soul and the messenger of grace together, for He never disappoints those who cry to Him in repentance for His pardoning grace.
Can it be right for me to go
On in this dark, uncertain way!
Say “I believe” and yet not know
Whether my sins are put away?
How can it be my joy to dwell
On the rich power of Jesus’ blood,
If all the while I cannot tell
That it has sealed my peace with God?
How can I be like Christ below,
How like my Lord in witness shine,
Unless with conscious joy I know
His Father and His God as mine?
Peter was therefore kept in prison, but constant prayer was offered to God for him by the church. And when Herod was about to bring him out, that night Peter was sleeping, bound with two chains between two soldiers: and the guards before the door were keeping the prison. Now behold, an angel of the Lord stood by him and a light shone in the prison; and he struck Peter on the side and raised him up, saying, “Arise quickly!” And his chains fell off his hands.
God is better than our faith. While it is true that He has said He will do for us “according to your faith,” nevertheless He is not restricted in the exercise of His lovingkindness by our failure to lay hold on His promises. The church in Jerusalem prayed for Peter’s deliverance, but they had a very faulty understanding both of God’s power and His readiness to hear and answer. At best perhaps, they hoped grace might be given the apostle to endure a long imprisonment with eventual deliverance, or to triumph in the hour of death. But while they prayed God answered and did exceeding abundantly above their asking or thinking. And so it often is today. Our faith at best is a poor feeble thing. His grace is an all-sufficient dynamic energy that refuses to be restrained by the feebleness of our understanding or the poverty of our expectation.
There is an eye that never sleeps beneath the wing of night;
There is an ear that never shuts when sink the beams of light.
There is an arm that never tires when human strength gives way;
There is a love that never fails, when earthly loves decay.
But there’s a power which man can wield when mortal aid is vain.
That eye, that arm, that love to reach, that listening ear to gain.
That power is prayer, which soars on high through Jesus to the throne;
And moves the Hand which moves the world, to bring salvation down.
Therefore let it be known to you, brethren, that through this Man is preached to you the forgiveness of sins; and by Him everyone who believes is justified from all things from which you could not be justified by the law of Moses.
Forgiveness and justification. Here are two things divinely joined together which man cannot reconcile. We cannot both forgive one and justify him. If he is justified he does not need forgiveness. If forgiven, he is not justified, but is admittedly guilty. But God not only forgives the repentant sinner because of the work of Christ on his behalf, but He justifies forever, clears of every charge all who trust in Him. All such are “accepted in the Beloved” (Ephesians 1:6). The soul that receives God’s testimony concerning His Son is seen henceforth as in Christ, and therefore as truly accepted as He is. He is justified in the risen Savior, for it is written, “As He is, so are we in this world” (1 John 4:17).
What about terror!—it hasn’t a place
In a heart that is filled with a sense of His grace:
My peace is divine, and it never can cloy,
And that makes my heart over-bubble with joy.
Nothing of guilt?—no, not a stain,
How could the blood let any remain?
My conscience is purged, and my spirit is free—
Precious that blood is to God and to me!
What of the law?—ah, there I rejoice,
Christ answered its claims and silenced its voice:
The law was fulfilled when the work was all done,
And it never can speak to a justified one.
Known to God from eternity are all His works.
God does nothing haphazardly. He is never taken by surprise. He works according to a plan, the purpose or counsel which He has had in His heart from all eternity. From Moses to Christ He was dealing with Israel as His covenant people, while in large measure He overlooked the ignorance of the Gentiles (Acts 17:30). He taught His earthly people by laws and ceremonies, which prefigured good things to come. Now He is taking out from the Gentiles a people to His name (Acts 15:14). These saved Gentiles and the believing Jews are thus united in one body (Ephesians 3:6). When this work is completed, Christ will return and “rebuild the tabernacle of David, which has fallen down” (Acts 15:16). That will be the time for the fulfillment of all the Old Testament prophecies in regard to Israel, when the Gentiles shall come to their light and be blessed through them. Failure to see this led many of the early Hebrew Christians to look with suspicion on Gentile converts if they did not submit to legal regulations. The gospel of grace frees the soul from all such bondage when God’s orderly plan is clearly understood.
I’m glad my times are in Thy hand. It is so sweet to know
That everything by Thee is planned for me where’er I go;
The Hand that holds the ocean’s depths can hold my small affairs.
The Hand that guides the universe can carry all my cares.
I’m glad I cannot shape my way, I’d rather trust Thy skill;
I’m glad the ordering is not mine, I’d rather have Thy will,
I do not know the future, and I would not if I might,
For faith to me is better far than faulty human sight.
And he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” So they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.”
The jailer’s question implied an exercised conscience and a repentant heart. He saw his need and longed for the knowledge of God’s salvation. The reply to his anxious inquiry came quick and plain, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved.” Nor did the apostle stop there. The same blessed privilege was extended, through matchless grace, to his household. All were invited to put their trust in Christ. There were no other terms, no demands to make restitution first for wrongs done, no insistence on a deeper sense of sinfulness. Just one thing was put before him as the necessary link between his soul and Christ. “Believe on Him.” To believe on Jesus is to trust in Him. He has borne all the sin, paid all the debt. Now the believer goes free.
Nothing to pay! the debt is so great.
What will you do with the awful weight?
How shall the way of escape be made?
Nothing to pay—yet it must be paid!
Hear the voice of Jesus say,
“Verily thou hast nothing to pay:
All has been put to My account,
I have paid the full amount.”
Nothing to pay; yes, nothing to pay!
Jesus has cleared all the debt away—
Blotted it out with His bleeding hand!
Free and forgiven, and loved, you stand.
Hear the voice of Jesus say,
“Verily thou hast nothing to pay!
Paid is the debt, and the debtor free!
Now I ask thee, lovest thou Me?”
—Frances Ridley Havergal
Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.
To all men comes the command to repent and believe the gospel. Repentance is a change of mind, a complete turning right-about-face, an entirely changed attitude toward God, sin, and self. It is the soul coming to the bar of judgment now that his case may all be settled before the appointed day when the man who hung on the cross will sit on the throne. God has raised Him from the dead to give repentance and remission of sins to all who yield to His Spirit’s entreaty as set forth in the proclamation of the gospel. Those who thus turn to Him now in this day of grace need have no fear of judgment in that last great assize. They stand forever cleared of every charge.
Jesus, the Lord, our righteousness!
Our beauty Thou, our glorious dress!
Before the throne, in this arrayed,
With joy shall we lift up the head.
Bold shall we stand in that great day,
For who aught to our charge shall lay,
While by Thy blood absolved we are
From sin and guilt, from shame and fear?
Till we behold Thee on Thy throne
In Thee we boast, in Thee alone,
Our beauty this, our glorious dress,
Jesus, the Lord, our righteousness.
But Gallio took no notice of these things.
Gallio the indifferent! History tells us he was the brother of Seneca the philosopher, who exclaims, “O most sweet Gallio! Few men are so agreeable about anything as my brother Gallio is about everything!” Yet this amiable man lost a marvellous opportunity to hear the gospel from the lips of Paul, and perhaps lost his soul at last just because he was so unconcerned about eternal things that he did not consider them worthy of his attention. To him the whole matter was beneath contempt, consisting only, as he supposed, of a quarrel about words and names and Jewish ceremonial observances. So he turned scornfully away without hearing that glad message which God was sending out in grace to a needy world. His attitude stands out as a warning to others not to treat lightly the privileges God gives, lest the day of doom find them still in their sins.
Oh, what will you do in the solemn day,
When earth and sea shall flee away;
When the rending heavens in fire shall roll,
And shrivel up like parchment scroll?
Oh, what will you do when the sins of the past
Shall rise like clouds that gather fast,
And stand before you in dread array;
O sinner, tell me, what wilt thou say?
But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.
Paul delighted to speak on various occasions of what he had “received from the Lord Jesus.” It was the assurance that his was a ministry given by the risen Christ which enabled him to “endure all things for the sake of the elect” (2 Timothy 2:10). He knew Christ and he knew the value of the things of God, and because of this knowledge he was able to endure “as seeing Him who is invisible” (Hebrews 11:27). It is as heavenly things loom large before the soul that one can hold the things of earth with a loose hand, and endure suffering and persecution with joyfulness knowing that Christ will estimate all aright at His judgment seat and reward according to the measure of devotedness presented here.
Think it not strange then, pilgrim, neither faint,
Much less indulge in murmuring and complaint,
If what you meet with in your heavenly road
Is hard to bear; since all is planned by God,
His child to train in wisdom’s holy ways,
And form a chosen vessel for His praise.
Now we are slow those ways to understand;
But let us bow beneath His mighty hand,
Sure that His wisdom over all presides,
His power controls, and love unerring guides.
—J. G. Deck
To open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.
This was the charge given by the glorified Lord to Paul at his ordination to the Christian ministry on the Damascus road. There he tells us he was made a minister and a witness of these things. He was commissioned to carry to the nations an offer of forgiveness and of title to a place in the inheritance of those who were set apart to God through faith in Christ. How blessed it is to enter into the reality of all this. God sees each believer as not only pardoned but freed from every possible charge. Ours is an eternal forgiveness. And we share in a sanctification that is perfect and complete. The heart goes out to God in adoring love and worship as one enters into some realization of this grace wherein we stand.
Chosen not for good in me,
Wakened up from wrath to flee;
Hidden in the Saviour’s side,
By the Spirit sanctified;
Teach me, Lord, on earth to show
By my love, how much I owe.
—Robert Murray McCheyne
For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.”
The epistle to the Romans gives us the fullest unfolding of the gospel that we have in the Word of God. Of this glad message none need be ashamed. It answers every objection of the most astute reasoner. It satisfies the need of every exercised conscience. In it we see how God can be just and yet justify the guilty sinner who comes to Him In repentance, owning his need and trusting His grace. Socrates exclaimed, “It may be that the Deity can forgive sins, but I don’t see how!” The Holy Spirit here shows that God can forgive in righteousness because of the expiatory work of His Son. This is the message which is revealed on the principle of faith to those who believe, whether Jews or Gentiles by nature, according to the oracle given to Habakkuk so long ago, “The just shall live by faith.”
What Thou, my Lord, hast suffered.
Was all for sinners’ gain:
Mine, mine was the transgression,
But Thine the deadly pain:
Lo, here I fall, my Saviour!
‘Tis I deserved Thy place;
Look on me with Thy favor.
Vouchsafe to me Thy grace.
What language shall I borrow
To thank Thee, dearest Friend,
For this, Thy dying sorrow,
Thy pity without end?
Lord, make me Thine forever,
Nor let me faithless prove:
Oh, let me never, never,
Abuse such dying love.
—Bernard of Clairvaux
Trans, by James W. Alexander
But now the righteousness of God apart from law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets.
“But now”—exclaims the apostle. It marks a decided change of subject.
Now that man has been fully shown up, God will be revealed.
Now upon the proven unrighteousness of all mankind “the righteousness of God…is revealed.” Of old He had declared, “I will bring My righteousness near” (Isaiah 46:13). This is in no sense a wrought-out, legal righteousness, such as man was unable to produce for God. It is a righteousness “apart from the law,” that is, altogether apart from any principle of human obedience to a divinely ordained code of morals. It is a righteousness of God for unrighteous men, and is in no way dependent upon human merit or attainment.
The righteousness of God is an important term. Here it means a righteousness of God’s providing—a perfect standing for guilty men for which God makes Himself responsible. If men are saved at all it must be in righteousness. But of this, man is utterly helpless. Therefore God must find a way whereby every claim of His righteous throne shall be met, and yet guilty sinners be justified from all things. His very nature demands that this must not be at the expense of righteousness but in full accord with it. And this is what has been provided in the work of the cross.
Father, Thy sov’reign love has sought
Captives to sin, gone far from Thee;
The work that Thine own Son hath wrought
Has brought us back in peace and free.
And now as sons before Thy face,
With joyful steps the path we tread
Which leads us on to that blest place
Prepared for us by Christ our Head.
—J. N. D.
For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.
The 5th of Romans is the chapter of the five “much mores,” and is well worth considering. For example, verse 10 is full of hope and encouragement for the timid believer. It assures us that He who loved us enough to give His Son for us will never give us up and allow us to drift beyond His gracious care. We have been reconciled to Him by the sacrificial death of our blessed Lord. Much more then, having been brought into so happy a relationship with Himself, we shall be saved daily and eternally through the resurrection life of the same precious Savior who died for us on the cross. It is important to see that it is not His life on earth that is referred to. As to that we are saved—reconciled—by His death. His life had to be given up in order that He might redeem us. But now we who are redeemed are kept by the ever-living One who undertakes to see us safely through all possible circumstances, and bring us at last in triumph to the Father’s house.
Thy love we own, Lord Jesus;
For though Thy toils are ended,
Thy tender heart doth take its part
With those Thy grace befriended.
Thy sympathy, how precious!
Thou succourest in sorrow,
And bidst us cheer, while pilgrims here,
And haste the hopeful morrow.
Knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with (or, rendered powerless), that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been freed (or justified) from sin.
My old man is not merely my old nature. It is rather all that I was as a man in the flesh, the “old man,” the unsaved man with all his habits and desires. That man was crucified with Christ. When Jesus died I (as a man after the flesh) died too. I was seen by God on that cross with His blessed Son.
How many people were crucified on Calvary? There were the thieves, there was Christ Himself—three! But are these all? Paul says in Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ.” He was there too; so that makes four. And each believer can say, “Our old man is crucified with him.” So untold millions were seen by God as hanging there upon that cross with Christ. And this was not merely that our sins were being dealt with, but that we ourselves as sinners, as children of Adam’s fallen race, might be removed from under the eye of God and our old standing come to an end forever.
Death and judgment are behind us,
Grace and glory are before;
All the billows rolled o’er Jesus,
There they spent their utmost power.
“First-fruits” of the resurrection,
He is risen from the tomb;
Now we stand in new creation,
Free, because beyond our doom,
Jesus died, and we died with Him.
“Buried” in His grave we lay,
One with Him in resurrection,
Now “in Him” in heaven’s bright day.
—Mrs. J. A. Trench
For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find.
Every one of us is by nature worse than anything he has ever done. The natural heart is a den of every kind of evil (Matthew 15:19). The flesh is incorrigibly corrupt and can never be improved (Galatians 5:19-21; Romans 8:7). It is all-important that this be recognized and judged in the presence of God. When thus dealt with, we cease to look for good in ourselves, and realize that it is from the new heart (Ezekiel 36:26; Matthew 12:35), given in regeneration, that all good must come. Then we shall find that, as we walk in the Spirit, we shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh (Galatians 5:16). Our boast will then be only in the Lord (Psalm 34:2), for we shall realize that all is grace from first to last.
Less, less of self each day,
And more, my God of Thee;
Oh, keep me in Thy way
However rough it be.
Less of the flesh each day.
Less of the world and sin;
More of Thy love, I pray,
More of Thyself within.
Riper and riper now,
Each hour let me become;
Less fond of things below,
More fit for such a home.
More moulded to Thy will,
Lord, let Thy servant be;
Higher and higher still,
Nearer and nearer Thee.
There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.
In Romans 7 we have a man renewed by the Spirit of God, but struggling under law, hoping thereby to subdue or find deliverance from the power of the old Adamic nature. In chapter 8 we have God’s way of deliverance through the death and resurrection of Christ with which the believer is identified before God. The chapter begins with “no condemnation” and ends with “no separation.” All who are in Christ Jesus are accepted in the Beloved and as free from every charge of guilt as He is Himself. He paid our penalty on the cross. Now we are linked up with Him in resurrection, not under law but under grace.
No condemnation! Blessed is the word!
No separation! Forever with the Lord.
By His blood He bought us,
Cleansed our every stain;
With rapture now we’ll praise Him,
The Lamb for sinners slain.
That the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
We must not confound law and grace, which are two opposing systems that never can be confused without doing violence to both. (See Romans 11:6.) But in every dispensation right is right and wrong is wrong, and the greatly increased light of the Christian revelation does not invalidate anything of a moral or spiritual character made known in past ages. Under the law there were certain things which were commanded because they were right. Others were right because they were commanded. Believers today are not under law, either as a means of justification or as a rule of law, but are justified by grace and are called upon to walk in grace. But this does not give liberty to ignore what God made known in past ages as though all had now been superseded by Christianity. Rather, Christianity takes up and embodies in itself all that was spiritual in every era, and adds much that was not previously known. No dispensational change can transform sin into holiness, or righteousness into unrighteousness. The basis of iniquity is self-will, and that continues always the same.
Free from the law, O happy condition!
Jesus hath died, and there is remission!
Cursed by the law, and bruised by the fall,
Christ hath redeemed us once for all.
Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
What the law forbids, the heart of the unrenewed man produces. It is like a field full of noxious weeds which thrive despite all effort to curb or destroy them. By the new birth men become “partakers of the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4) and so learn to delight in those things which please God, for the new life imparted is heavenly in origin and uncontaminated by lust. Nevertheless, the old nature abides until the day when the returning Christ shall transform these bodies of our humiliation. Hence the importance of the exhortations to uprightness, honesty, and integrity that abound in the Epistles, where true Christian life is set forth in all its fullness.
The Lord looked down upon the earth,
But what did He behold?—
A groaning, wretched, sinful world
By Satan’s will controlled.
He saw corruption like a flood
Roll o’er His fair domain,
Rebellion, lust, and wickedness
Possessing hill and plain.
He saw man’s heart, He knew his will,
He saw sin’s full extent—
The whole creation rife with wrong—
Man’s race on evil bent.
—C. C. Crowston
If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
Everything, for the Christian, centers in the glorious reality that Jesus, who died for our sins upon the cross of shame, has been raised from the tomb and now lives to save eternally all who trust in Him. It is with the recognition of this great truth that we begin, and in the power of it we are enabled to continue in the path of devotedness to the very end, sustained by One whose endless life is the pledge of ours (Hebrews 7:16, 24, 25). To deny the physical resurrection of Jesus is to repudiate the gospel, which is based upon it (1 Corinthians 15:13-20).
The Saviour lives, no more to die;
He lives, our Head, enthroned on high;
He lives triumphant o’er the grave;
He lives eternally to save.
The chief of sinners He receives;
His saints He loves and never leaves;
He’ll guard us safe from ev’ry ill,
And all His promises fulfill.
Abundant grace will He afford.
Till we are present with the Lord;
And prove what we have sung before,
That Jesus lives for evermore.
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
The human body is a marvelous testimony to the personality and the wisdom of God. It is inconceivable that anything so wonderful should have come into existence without the guiding hand of a personal Creator. “He who planted the ear, shall He not hear? He who formed the eye, shall He not see?” (Psalm 94:9). In creating our bodies He designed them for the highest of all purposes: that they might be used to glorify Him.
When He saves a man He claims all there is of him. Some believe that if the soul is saved, how the body is used is insignificant. But the believer’s body is the vehicle through which he expresses himself, and it is to be recognized as a sanctuary in which God dwells by His Spirit as He dwelt, first in the tabernacle and then in the temple of old. The spirit of man is the holy of holies, and the body is like the building itself, all of which was to be kept holy to the Lord. All debasing habits, all unlawful appetites, all evil inclinations are to be judged in the presence of God, confessed as sin, and rigidly turned away from, in order that in this world we may rightly represent Him, through whose grace we have been saved.
Laid on Thine altar, O my Lord divine,
Accept my will this day, for Jesus’ sake,
I have no jewels to adorn Thy shrine,
Nor any world-proud sacrifice to make;
But here I bring within my trembling hand
This will of mine—a thing that seemeth small,
And Thou alone, O God, canst understand
How when I yield Thee this I yield Thee all.
It is good neither to eat meat nor drink wine nor do anything by which your brother stumbles or is offended or is made weak.
To use God’s good gifts without abusing them, to exercise our divinely-given privileges without infringing upon the rights of others, and to avoid all things that are injurious to ourselves or set an evil example to those who are weaker, is to live nobly and worthy of our calling as members of Christ. And even though one does not yet have the full assurance of his own acceptance with God, yet life here on earth is richer and sweeter if temperate habits prevail and considerations of decency and unselfishness are characteristic. We should remember that evil once done is evil that will never be undone. One may be forgiven for sins against God, against society, and against one’s self, but the sins themselves, once committed, can never become as though they had not been. There are evil effects which go on forever. We may know all the beginnings of sinful behavior, but we can never know the final effects of evil actions or of a bad example: therefore the importance of self-control and of sober healthful living, that we may glorify God in our bodies and our spirits, which are His. Paul shows us that life at its best is only enjoyed as we walk in the fear of the Lord and are dominated by His Holy Spirit.
Live for others while on earth you live
Give for others what you have to give;
Flowers do not hoard their sweet perfume,
Nor withhold the glory of their bloom.
Sunshine helps to melt the winter’s snow,
Timely rains compel the grain to grow;
So a smile can banish grief and care,
And a kindly word encourage prayer.
Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.
1 Corinthians 1:10
The security and growth of the churches of God depend upon their obedience to His Word. The people of these early assemblies were very similar to those found in practically the same circumstances today. In themselves they were weak and unreliable. But their confidence was in the living God. In His Word He has given all necessary instruction for the confirmation and development of His disciples, both as individuals and in their church relationships. It is all-important to realize that we have in the Scriptures, especially in the book of the Acts and in the Epistles of Paul, who deals particularly with truths regarding the privileges and responsibilities of the church, all that is needed to guide us aright.
‘Mid scenes of confusion and creature-complaints,
How sweet to the soul is communion with saints;
To find at the banquet of mercy there’s room,
To feel in communion a foretaste of home.
Sweet bonds, that unite all the children of peace!
And thrice-blessed Saviour, whose love cannot cease!
Tho’ oft amid trials and dangers we roam,
With Thine we’re united, and hasting toward home.
And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.
1 Corinthians 2:1-2
It is the preaching of the cross which is the appointed method of winning souls and building men up in Christ. Paul did not undervalue culture and education, but he dreaded the possibility of the refinements of rhetoric and the cleverness of the orator so occupying the minds of his hearers that they would become impressed with his ability instead of with the Christ he proclaimed. Therefore he studiously avoided anything that would have such a tendency, and in all simplicity he preached the message of the cross in humble dependence on the Holy Spirit to use that proclamation for the salvation of souls. In this he became an example to all other preachers.
Yonder, on a cross uplifted,
One in ignominy dies;
Wounded, He, for our transgressions,
Bruised for our iniquities;
Utmost love is there revealed;
By those stripes our wounds are healed.
Not by men was He delivered,
Thus to suffer and to die;
God Himself had preordained it,
He is pleased to bruise Him thus,
To provide release for us.
Lo! the land is whelmed in darkness,—
Nature cannot hide the sight;
But upon His anguished spirit
Falls a deeper, denser night,
Whence He cries in agony,
“Why hast Thou forsaken Me?”
Now His suffering is over;
The atonement has been made;
Stilled, the law’s insistent clamors,
As in death He bows His head;
Now may guilty sinners hide
In a Saviour crucified.
—T. O. Chisholm
Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?
1 Corinthians 3:16
Individually each believer’s body is spoken of as a temple of the Holy Spirit, as in 1 Corinthians 6:19. Collectively, the entire church is called “the temple of God” (1 Corinthians 3:16). This is the building of living stones (1 Peter 2:5), the house of God (Hebrews 3:6; 1 Timothy 3:15), the habitation in which He dwells and through which He reveals Himself to the world (Ephesians 2:20-22). We read in Psalm 93:5, “Holiness adorns Your house, O Lord, forever.” So, whether as individuals or in our collective capacity, we are responsible to walk before God in holiness and righteousness, controlled by His Spirit who dwells within us.
The Holy Spirit in the believer is grieved by any careless behavior or intemperate indulgences which war against the soul; and so long as He is thus grieved He is not free to carry on His special ministry of taking the things of Christ and making them real to us.
Created by Omnipotence,
And fashioned by the Only Wise,
Who bade us from the dust arise,
I bow before unerring love,
And humbly say before His throne,
“Thine am I, Lord, and not my own.”
Created now anew in Christ,
By faith in His atoning death,
And quickened by the Spirit’s breath
I own God’s two-fold in-wrought claim,
And gladly say without reserve,
“Thine am I, Lord, and Thee I serve.”
—W R. Moore
And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.
1 Corinthians 6:11
A hard field presents a challenge to the man of faith. He delights in that challenge because he knows that God works, not with what He finds, but with what He brings. His Spirit is able to break down and save the most indifferent or the most contentious men. Athens was the center of Greek culture—a veneer of learning that covered but did not destroy the wickedness of paganism, which caused and even pretended to sanctify the vilest practices. Corinth was notorious for its vice and corruption. To “Corinthianize” was a synonym for a life given over to shame and sensuality of the most degrading character. The worship of the gods of Greece produced no change in the lives of their devotees. Religion and immorality went hand in hand. The gods themselves were but deifications of lust and ambition. Those who worshipped them were like them.
But to these cities Paul came with a message which he knew to be the dynamic of God (Romans 1:16), mighty to the destruction of Satanic strongholds and powerful in building new and holy lives. These new lives would demonstrate the might of the Spirit of God to renew and regenerate the most depraved of mankind, as well as those who gloried in their self righteousness and supposed superiority. No new message was needed. It was the story of the cross-Jesus Christ and Him crucified—which revolutionized multitudes in Corinth and resulted in the establishment of a strong and highly gifted church of God in that iniquitous city.
O’er this wide waste I loved to roam,
My back to God and heaven and home,
Till Jesus met me far astray,
And beckoned me to come away.
He said on Calv’ry’s cross He died,
A sacrifice for sin was made,
And all because He loved me so,
Then how could I do else but go?
Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are Gods.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20
God wants us to realize that the body, which is such a wonderful evidence of His creative power and wisdom, should be used for His glory. To abuse the body by destructive habits is to displease the Lord, and is self-inflicted wrong.
The salvation purchased for us by Christ’s atoning death is threefold. Spirit and soul and body (1 Thessalonians 5:23) have all been bought by the blood of Christ and all are to be devoted to His glory. We cannot grow in grace if we are indulging in sinful and fleshly lusts of any kind. Carnality is the bitter foe of spirituality. The body and its appetites are to be kept in subjection by the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 9:27). Only thus can there be success in the Christian race (Hebrews 12:1) The body is to be yielded to Christ (Romans 12:1), and not to be polluted by that which would impair its usefulness under the guise of Christian liberty (Galatians 5:13).
I have been “bought with a price”—
A price no pen can compute;
The wondrous grace of the Buyer
Forbids my soul to be mute.
Redemption, the price of my pardon,
Unties the string of my tongue—
The praise of my gracious Redeemer
By me shall ever be sung.
I have been “bought with a price”
Th’ Eternal was willing to die,
That I a poor worm of the dust
Might share His glory on high.
Oh, wonder of wonders, that He,
The Creator of heaven and earth,
Should assume the form of a servant—
Like sinful mortals have birth!
Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, hut one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown.
1 Corinthians 9:24-25
Scripture distinguishes between salvation and reward. Salvation is by grace alone, completely apart from human merit or works of any kind. Reward is for service rendered in loving devotion to our Lord as we seek to glorify Him in this world. This is the race we are called to run and in order to do so it is imperative that the servant of Christ exercise godly self-control over all physical appetites. The imperishable crown is the reward which we hope to receive at the hand of our Lord when we stand at His judgment seat. To miss this token of His approval will be loss indeed!
Not at death I shrink or falter,
For my Saviour saves me now,
But to meet Him empty-handed,
Thought of that now clouds my brow.
No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make a way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.
1 Corinthians 10:13
Temptation is used here in the sense of trial. Christians are exposed to the same trying circumstances that men of the world have to face. But they do not have to meet them alone. The Lord whom they serve is guarding His own and will never permit the furnace to be overheated, nor allow His people to face conditions which will not work out for blessing if gone through in fellowship with Himself. To know that “God is faithful” is as an anchor to the soul no matter how the storms may rage and the tempests blow. He will not forsake those who put their trust in Him. He will either deliver from the trial or give grace to bear it.
I would not ask Thee why
My path should be
Through strange and stony ways—
Thou leadest me!
I would not ask Thee how
Loss worketh gain,
Knowing that some day soon—
All shall be plain.
My heart would never doubt
Thy love and care,
However heavy seems
The cross I bear.
Nor would I, Father, ask
My lot to choose,
Lest seeking selfish ease
Thy best I lose.
—Grace E. Troy
For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many are one body so also is Christ For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink into one Spirit
1 Corinthians 12:12-13
The unity of the body is not merely a doctrinal tenet, it is a blessed and precious reality. Through the baptism of the Holy Spirit all believers are united to the risen Lord, the church’s Head in Heaven, and to one another. This is an indissoluble relationship, and because of it, “the members should have the same care for one another” (1 Corinthians 12:25), rejoicing when a member is honored, feeling for one who suffers, and standing loyally by those who have to endure persecution. This is what it means to hold the truth of the one body. Some acknowledge it as an article of faith but show little or no concern for their fellow-members and the trying experiences many of them are called to pass through.
Oh, how we thirst the chains to burst
That weight our spirits downward;
And there to flow, in love’s full glow,
With hearts like Thine surrounded!
No more to view Thy chosen few
In selfish strife divided,
But drink in peace the living grace
That gave them hearts united!
Lord, haste that day of cloudless ray,
That prospect bright, unfailing;
Where God shall shine in light divine,
In glory never fading.