Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal.
1 Corinthians 13:1
There is a great difference between the love of God shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit and mere natural affection precious as that is. The love of 1 Corinthians 13 is the expression of the new life communicated to believers in regeneration. It is the display of the divine nature. It was seen in all its perfection in our Lord Jesus Christ as man on earth. In the measure in which we live and walk in communion with Him the same love will be seen in us. If we were to change “love” into “Christ,” in verses 4 to 7 of this chapter, we would have a perfect picture of our blessed Lord Himself. It is as we show this love that our witness really counts for God, even among those who spurn our message.
Faith and hope and love we see,
Joining hand in hand agree,
But the greatest of the three
And the best is love.
Faith will vanish into sight,
Hope be emptied in delight;
Love in heaven will shine more bright;
Therefore give us love.
—Bishop Christopher Wordsworth
Then I shall know just as I also am known.
1 Corinthians 13:12
Life is full of mysteries. Again and again the bewildered spirit asks “Why?” And to many of our questions there is no answer. It has not pleased God to explain all His ways with us here and now. Elihu said to Job, “He does not give an accounting of any of His words” (Job 33:13). But faith counts on His infinite love and wisdom, and knows that some day all will be made plain, and in the light of His presence we shall get the answers to all the questions that have perplexed us. Then we shall know the hidden reasons for every trial and sorrow, and we shall see that there was a “needs be” for all of His dealings with us. We may be sure that when we see everything from the divine standpoint we shall be able to praise Him for all that now seems so bewildering.
My life is but a weaving
Between my Lord and me;
I cannot choose the colors,
He worketh steadily.
Ofttimes He weaveth sorrow,
And I, in foolish pride,
Forget He sees the upper,
And I, the under side.
Not till the loom is silent
And the shuttles cease to fly,
Shall God unroll the canvas
And explain the reason why
The dark threads are as needful
In the Weaver’s skillful hand,
As the threads of gold and silver
In the pattern He has planned.
But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive.
1 Corinthians 15:20-22
Apart from the fact of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ from the dead, Christianity would be just another religious system, or philosophical speculation. It is because of His triumph over death that our great High Priest is able to save to the uttermost all those who come to God by Him (Hebrews 7:25). What converted Saul of Tarsus and changed him to Paul the apostle was the revelation that Jesus, who had been crucified, is now alive in highest glory. He had seen Him and heard His voice, and he never doubted afterward (1 Corinthians 15:8). Everywhere he went he preached Jesus and the resurrection (Acts 17:18). A message that sees in the cross simply a martyr’s death is not the gospel. The good news revealed from Heaven is that Christ died for our sins, (1 Corinthians 15:3) and that He has been raised again for our justification (Romans 4:25). Today this same gospel is the power of God unto salvation when proclaimed with no uncertain sound in the energy of the Holy Spirit.
Once we stood in condemnation,
Waiting thus the sinner’s doom,
Christ in death has wrought salvation,
God has raised Him from the tomb.
Now we see in Christ’s acceptance
But the measure of our own;
Him who lay beneath our sentence
Seated high upon the throne.
Quickened, raised, and in Him seated,
We a full deliv’rance know,
Ev’ry foe has been defeated,
Ev’ry enemy laid low.
Now we have a life in union
With the risen life above,
Now we drink in sweet communion
Some rich foretaste of His love.
—G. W. Frazer
Blessed be the God and father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.
2 Corinthians 1:3-4
The God of all comfort! How our troubled hearts respond to such words as these. He has revealed Himself in the cross as the God of all grace meeting every need of our souls when distressed by a sense of guilt. Now He makes Himself known as the source of all consolation when we are troubled by the sorrows of the way and in danger of being cast down because of burdens that seem too heavy to bear. It is noteworthy that every person of the Holy Trinity is engaged in this gracious ministry. Here it is the Father who is the God of all comfort. Both the Son and the Spirit are designated as Comforters. The word for “Advocate” in 1 John 2:1 is the same as that which the Lord uses in John, chapters 14 to 16, when speaking of the Holy Spirit, who is “another Comforter” (kjv). It is for God’s tried saints to find their solace in Him and so to share with others the comfort He gives.
Be comforted! In God thy comfort lies!
If He doth pain, He also would console;
The anodyne which soothes—just He supplies;
He, He alone, the wounded can make whole.
The word is His! Nor will it mock nor fail!
Be comforted! Let Him thy comfort be;
Balm for all pain, and light for loneliest vale,
Himself the peace, the joy, the company.
—J. Danson Smith
Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place.
2 Corinthians 2:14
Another translation reads, “God which always leadeth us in Christ’s triumph.” He, the mighty conqueror, has come forth from the battle with Satan at the cross, leading His foes in chains at His chariot wheels. He has spoiled principalities and powers and annulled him that had the power of death that He might deliver us. Now we who have been delivered from captivity to sin and Satan march with Him in His triumphal procession, sweeping onwards to the glory of God which we are destined to share in all the ages to come. But as we journey on we are privileged to tell abroad the gospel of His grace which rises up to God as fragrant incense to His praise and honor. Whether men heed the message or reject it, God is glorified as we proclaim the story and tell out His love to a ruined world.
O Jesus, Lord, ‘tis joy to know
Thy path is o’er of shame and woe,
For us so meekly trod:
All finished is Thy work of toil,
Thou reapest now the fruit and spoil,
Exalted by our God.
We triumph in Thy triumphs, Lord;
Thy joys our deepest joys afford,
The fruit of love divine.
While sorrow’ng, suff’ring, toiling here,
How does the thought our spirits cheer,
The throne of glory’s Thine.
—J. G. Deck
But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.
2 Corinthians 3:18
The secret of Christian holiness is heart-occupation with Christ Himself. As we gaze upon Him we become like Him. Do you want to be holy? Spend much time in His presence. Let the loveliness of the risen Lord so fill the vision of your soul that all else is shut out. Then the things of the flesh will shrivel up and disappear and the things of the Spirit will become supreme in your life. We do not become holy by looking into our own hearts. There we only find corruption. Instead we must look away from ourselves and “unto Jesus,” contemplating His holiness, purity, love, compassion, and devotion to the Father’s will. Then we shall be transformed, imperceptibly to ourselves perhaps but none the less surely into His blessed image. There is no other way whereby we may become practically holy, and be delivered from the power of the flesh and the principles of the world.
Fix your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace.
For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.
2 Corinthians 4:6-7
Our minds are carried back in these verses to the time when God said, “Let there be light,” and dispelled the darkness of the primeval chaotic world. We are then carried to that incident in the book of Judges where Gideon’s army went to battle against the Midianites with a trumpet in one hand and a torch hidden in a pitcher in the other. At Gideon’s command they broke the earthen vessels and the lights shone out striking terror to the hearts of the enemy who could not account for the crash and the blaze of light in the midnight hour. So we who are saved, having been turned from darkness to light, now have the responsibility of shining for God in this world. But in order that this may be, these earthen vessels of our humanity must be broken. Then others can behold the light.
Our earthen vessels break;
The world itself grows old;
But Christ our precious dust will take
And freshly mould:
He’ll give these bodies vile
A fashion like His own;
He’ll bid the whole creation smile,
And hush its groan.
To Him our weakness clings
Through tribulation sore,
And seeks the covert of His wings
Till all be o’er.
And when we’ve run the race,
And fought the faithful fight,
We then shall see Him face to face,
With saints in light.
Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God.
2 Corinthians 5:20
Ambassadors for Christ.” This is the title Paul gives to those who seek to carry out our Lord’s instruction to evangelize the nations. While our Savior Himself is personally in Heaven, seated on the right hand of the divine Majesty (Hebrews 1:3), we are called to represent Him in this world. We are to go to rebels against the authority of the God of Heaven and earth, and plead with them to be reconciled to Him who sent His Son that all men might through Him have life and peace. We are unfaithful representatives indeed if we fail to respond to the command laid upon us and allow our fellow men to perish in their sins, unwarned and knowing not the way of life.
This is the first great business of every member of the church of the living God. All are called to be witnesses, according to their measure. It is ours to “go” (verse 19), to “pray” (Matthew 9:38), and to help send forth (Acts 13:3) and sustain those who are able to leave home and friends as they hasten forth into distant lands to carry the gospel to the regions beyond (3 John 6-8).
From the glory and the gladness,
From His secret place;
From the rapture of His Presence
From the radiance of His face—
Christ the Son of God hath sent me
Through the midnight lands;
Mine, the mighty ordination
Of the pierced Hands.
Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.
2 Corinthians 7:1
Careless habits and unholy ways are inconsistent with the truth of the new creation. God has given us exceeding great and precious promises, and because of His goodness we owe it to Him to judge in ourselves every tendency to unholiness, whether in body or mind. Once we walked according to the lust of the flesh and of the mind. Now we are called to walk in the Spirit that we may not fulfill these unclean desires. “Perfecting holiness” suggests growth, which should be continuous. As we are daily occupied with Christ and walk in the Spirit, reckoning ourselves dead indeed unto sin but alive unto God through Jesus Christ, we will detect even the smallest sins. If these are judged and confessed immediately, we will be kept from sin’s power, and as we go on in faith we will enjoy unclouded fellowship with God.
There is a faith unmixed with doubt,
A love all free from fear;
A walk with Jesus, where is felt
His presence always near.
There is a rest that God bestows,
Transcending pardon’s peace,
A lowly, sweet simplicity,
Where inward conflicts cease.
For you know the grace of oar Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich.
2 Corinthians 8:9
A Christian, challenged by a Unitarian to produce a solitary passage of Scripture to prove that Jesus had any existence before He was born of Mary, quoted this verse. The other objected that it had no bearing on the question at issue. The Christian replied, “But the text says, ‘He was rich.’ Was He ever rich on earth? When was He rich?” The position is unanswerable if one believes the Bible to be the Word of God. Jesus was never rich on earth. But He was rich in the glory that He had with the Father before the world was. What riches were His! And He gave all up and became poor in order that bankrupt sinners might be made wealthy for eternity. He who trusts in Him is made heir to all the riches of glory which the Father delights to share with all who come to Him and accept His grace.
He came from the light and the gladness
To the darkness and woe where I lay,
He touched me and healed the foul leper,
My debt in His love stooped to pay.
For a stranger becoming the Surety
He suffered on Calvary’s tree;
Though rich became poor as the poorest,
To lavish His wealth upon me.
—H. A. I.
Now may He who supplies seed to the sower, and bread for food, supply and multiply the seed you have sown and increase the fruits of your righteousness.
2 Corinthians 9:10
The seed, we are told, is the Word. Sown in faith, the results may not be seen immediately but the harvest is sure, for God has declared His word shall not return unto Him void. Many tender gospel messages have seemed to fall on deaf ears, but later bear fruit among those who originally seemed to ignore them. So the laborer is to work on, sowing in hope, trusting that God will encourage the seed to germinate and to bear fruit for His glory in time to come. To a discouraged evangelist an aged brother exclaimed, “Many a one will die easier for what he has heard tonight!”
It was only a tiny seed at the first,
And its power I little knew;
But ‘twas sown, and the germ from its prison burst,
And was nourished by sunshine and dew.
The grain of the past was a blessing at last,
In the bountiful harvest that grew.
Go hopefully on in the work of the day,
Scatter broadcast the seed of the Word;
Sing thy song, though unseen; drop the word by the way,
And leave the results with the Lord.
Though but little at most—and with nothing to boast,
“What she could” will ensure a reward!
—W. J. H. Brealey
And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
2 Corinthians 12:9
Paul pleaded three times for deliverance from the sharp thorn that caused such suffering. But at last the answer came in a way he had not looked for. The Lord said, as it were, “No, Paul; I will not remove the thorn, but I will give you grace to endure.” This moved the apostle to glory in his very infirmities that the power of Christ might rest upon him. Happy is the soul that has learned the folly of striving against the permissive will of God, and can receive all from His hand and look to Him for strength to endure. It was this that enabled Job to triumph as he cried, “Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?” (Job 2:10).
With eager heart and will on fire
I fought to win my great desire:
“Peace shall be mine,” I said, but life
Grew bitter in the endless strife.
My soul was weary, and my pride
Was wounded deep. To heav’n I cried,
“God grant me peace, or I must die!”
The dumb stars glittered no reply.
Broken at last, I bowed my head,
Forgetting all myself, and said,
“Whatever comes His will be done.”
And in that moment, peace was won.
Grace to you and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.
Christ did not die merely to save us from eternal doom, blessed as that aspect of salvation is; but He “gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver (or save) us from this present evil age.” The age is evil because Christ has been rejected and men are living in independence of God. From this the believer is delivered as he recognizes his identification with Christ in His death. Because of the fact that He died in our place, as our representative, we too have died. We have died to the law, died to sin, died to self, and died to the world that has no place for Christ.
Farewell! Henceforth my place
Is with the Lamb who died.
My Sovereign! While I have Thy love,
What can I want beside?
Thyself, dear Lord, art now
My free and loving choice,
“In whom, though now I see Thee not,
Believing, I rejoice!”
Shame on me that I sought
Another joy than this,
Or dreamt a heart at rest with Thee
Could crave for earthly bliss!
These vain and worthless things,
I put them all aside;
His goodness fills my longing soul,
And I am satisfied.
Lord Jesus! let me dwell
“Outside the camp,” with Thee.
Since Thou art there, then there alone
Is peace and home for me.
Thy dear reproach to bear
I’ll count my highest gain,
Till Thou return, my banished King,
To take Thy power, and reign!
I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God
Crucifixion with Christ is judicial. When He died God saw the end of man in the flesh. All believers therefore can look hack to the cross and say in faith. “It was there I died, in the person of my substitute.” Therefore I am no longer viewed as in Adam. I am now in Christ. I am called to walk in the power of this truth, I live in Him. He lives in me. My life here in the body is to be the demonstration of Christ in me. This is my experience as I reckon myself dead indeed unto sin but alive unto God in Christ Jesus. It is not that I am to try to die to the old order. I have died, and I take that place in relation to everything that is of the flesh, putting to death the deeds of the body. Practically, I die daily, as earth-claims are refused. Thus I live unto God.
Now I will glory in the cross,
For this I count the world but dross.
There I with Christ, was crucified,
His death is mine; with Him I died;
And while I live my song shall be.
No longer I, but Christ in me.
—H. A. I.
Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”), that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.
To redeem is to buy back. Because of his sins the Jew was sold under the curse of the law. The same applies in principle to Gentiles, who now have the knowledge of the law. But Christ died not only to free believing Jews from the curse, but that the blessing of Abraham, justification by faith, might come to the Gentiles also. All who believe are delivered from the law’s condemnation, Christ having taken our place in judgment and borne what our sins deserved in His own body on the tree. He became a curse for us. He was made sin for us. In the fullest possible sense He answered for us before God. Now we go free.
He bore on the tree
The sentence for me,
And now both the Surety
And sinner are free;
And this I shall find,
For such is His mind,
He’ll not be in glory
And leave me behind.
But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!”
Sonship is more than new birth. By spiritual birth we become children of God. This has been true of believers in all dispensations. But now by the reception of the Holy Spirit, who is the Spirit of adoption, we become sons. This is the distinctive blessing of the present dispensation of grace. Old Testament saints were as infants. New Testament Christians are sons who have come of age and are joint heirs with Christ. We are all children of God by the second birth and sons of God by adoption. This is what is unfolded here in Galatians, and also in Romans 8:14-17. In Roman law all born in the family were children, but only those legally adopted were reckoned as sons.
“Abba,” Father—thus we call Thee,
(Hallowed name!) from clay to day;—
‘Tis Thy children’s right to know Thee,
None but children “Abba” say.
This high honor we inherit,
Thy free gift, through Jesus’ blood;
God the Spirit, with our spirit,
Witnesseth we’re sons of God.
I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish.
The inward conflict between flesh and spirit disturbs and bewilders many believers, often leading to the anguished cry, like that of Rebecca of old, “If all is well, why am I like this?” (Genesis 25:22). The struggle seems to cast doubt on the reality of conversion. It is rather an evidence of it, for the two natures are in every child of God and this produces a condition unknown in days before the new birth took place. The way of victory is not to fight the flesh and endeavor by our own power to suppress its activities, but to yield to the control of the Spirit of God. As we walk in the Spirit, whose delight is to conform us to Christ, we find practical deliverance from the power of fleshly lusts. It is only as we are Spirit-led we are enabled to do the things that we would and should.
O may Thy Spirit guide our souls,
And mould them to Thy will,
That from Thy paths we ne’er may stray,
But keep Thy precepts still.
That to the Saviour’s stature full
We nearer still may rise,
And all we think, and all we do,
Be pleasing in Thine eyes.”
Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart
They who in their youth sow wild oats will have a terrible crop to reap in older days (Proverbs 22:8). No wonder the world has so many disillusioned and disappointed old men and aged women. They frittered away the golden hours of youth in careless living and selfish indulgence, and as a result their wrecked constitutions, and in some cases impaired minds, make their later years most distressing and unhappy. It is quite otherwise with men and women who, in the days of their youth, lived in an orderly manner walking before God in self-control, refusing to become the slaves of sensuality. For them gray hair is indeed a crown of glory, because they are found in the way of righteousness (Proverbs 16:31). Someone has well said, “The Devil has no happy old men.” But how different it is with those who have known and loved the Lord through the long years! When they reach the eventide of life, theirs is a peace and a serenity which is found only in the service of God. Of them it can be said, “At eventide it shall be light.”
Sowing the seed of a ling’ring pain,
Sowing the seed of a maddened brain,
Sowing the seed of a tarnished name,
Sowing the seed of eternal shame,
Oh, what shall the harvest be?
He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love.
It is a striking fact, often overlooked by zealous controversialists that in Scripture no one is ever said to be elected or predestinated to go to Heaven. Nor of course, are people ever said to be predestinated to be lost, or reprobated before birth to eternal ruin. On the contrary we who are saved are said to be chosen beforehand unto holiness and blamelessness before God, and predestinated to become like Christ the first-born of many brethren. This is blessed indeed. It should be a comfort and an encouragement, when conscious of weakness and failure, to know that I am yet to be wholly conformed to the image of God’s Son. No power on earth or in Hell can hinder the completion of God’s purpose of grace.
O Lamb of God, we thank Thee,
We bless Thy holy name!
Thy love once made Thee willing
To bear our sin and shame.
And now Thy love is waiting
Thy saints like Thee to raise;
Firstborn of many brethren,
To Thee be all the praise.
We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.
Twice this word, here translated “workmanship” is used in the epistles of Paul. In Romans 1:20 it is translated “things that are made.” It is the Greek word
poima, from which we get our English word “poem.” A poem is a well-constructed literary piece—the work of a master mind. In Romans 1 we see the creation as God’s great epic poem. In Ephesians 2 we have the poem of redemption.
‘Twas great to call a world from naught,
‘Twas greater to redeem.
Each saved one is, so to speak, a syllable in this great masterpiece, this marvellous poem that tells out as nothing else could the wondrous wisdom and grace of God, How lyrical should be our lives as we enter into and appreciate this!
No good in creatures can be found,
All, all is found in Thee;
We must have all things and abound,
Through Thy sufficiency.
Thou that hast made our heaven secure
Wilt here all good provide;
While Christ is rich, can we be poor—
Christ who for us has died’?
O Lord, we cast each care on Thee,
And triumph and adore;
Oh that our great concern may be
To love and praise Thee more!
For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation.
Christ Himself—crucified, risen, and now exalted to God’s right hand in glory—is our peace. On the cross He made peace by the shedding of His blood. Before returning to Heaven He said, “Peace be unto you.” Now “having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1). He undertook to settle the sin question by making atonement for iniquity. God is satisfied with His finished work. When the Father raised His Son from the dead He bore witness to the perfection of His work. Now the troubled soul looks up to the throne by the eye of faith and sees the Man, who was once on the tree forsaken of God, crowned with honor and glory. He could not be there if the sin question had not been disposed of. So the believer can exultingly say, “He is my peace.”
I hear the words of love,
I gaze upon the blood,
I see the mighty sacrifice,
And I have peace with God.
‘Tis everlasting peace!
Sure as Jehovah’s name;
‘Tis stable as His steadfast throne,
For evermore the same.
My love is ofttimes low,
My joy still ebbs and flows;
But peace with Him remains the same,
No change Jehovah knows.
For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named.
Paul locates the whole redeemed family in two places. They are either in Heaven or on earth. This is the death blow to the idea of purgatory—a third state between Heaven and Hell. And it is also the perfect answer to soul-sleep theories of every kind. Paul does not say, “The whole family in the grave and on earth.” He declares they are either in Heaven or on earth. This agrees with many other Scriptures. Our loved ones in Christ, when they leave this scene are at once “absent from the body…present with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:8). They depart to be with Christ, as Paul says in Philippians 1. It is only the tired, weary bodies of the saints that sleep until the resurrection morning when the dead will be raised and the living changed.
Our Father’s home on high,
Home to our souls how dear!
E’en now, to faith’s transpiercing eye
Thy golden gates appear.
Our thirsty spirits faint
To reach the home we love,
The bright inheritance of saints—
And though there intervene
Rough seas and stormy skies,
Though by no mortal vision seen,
Thy glory fills our eyes.
There shall all clouds depart,
The wilderness shall cease,
And sweetly shall each gladdened heart
Enjoy eternal peace.
Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give to him who has need.
He who fails to distinguish between “thine” and “mine” has not learned the first principle of integrity in human relations. There is no communism sanctioned by the Bible except that voluntary sharing which at the beginning of the Christian era was practiced for a time by the persecuted believers in Christ. They did not say that anything they possessed was their own, but distributed their possessions as every man had need. Such a system was never obligatory, nor is it practical at all times. Respect for the rights of the individual and the recognition of the sacredness of property lie at the base of all reputable government. These fundamentals were insisted on in the law given at Sinai and confirmed by our Lord Jesus Christ during His earthly ministry as well as by the Holy Spirit afterward. To ignore them is fatal and means the downfall of ordered society. The intelligent Christian will stand firmly against the atheistic and ruinous systems of Marxian socialism and communism, not because of selfishness, but because of conscience toward God and respect for the rights of his fellow men.
I’d rather see a sermon than hear one any day,
I’d rather one should walk with me than merely show the way;
I can soon learn how to do it if you’ll let me see it done,
I can watch your hands in action, but your tongue too fast may run;
And the lectures you deliver may be very wise and true,
But I’d rather get my lesson by observing what you do.
For I may not understand you and the high advice you give,
But there’s no misunderstanding how you act and how you live.
Giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The redeemed of the Lord should ever be praising Him who has saved us in His rich grace and who lavishes upon us evidence after evidence of His Fatherly love and care. An unthankful child of God is a strange anomaly. Praise should ever be welling up in the hearts of those who recognize their constant indebtedness to the divine mercy and compassion. We would worry less if we praised more. Thanksgiving is the enemy of discontent and dissatisfaction. When tempted to doubt and fear, begin to praise God for past mercies, and faith will be increased.
We thank Thee Thou hast spared the lives
Of those we love, that peaceful rest
Succeeding days of work well done
Have made our lives serene and blest.
But more we thank Thee that we know,
That come what may of grief or pain,
Thy power will not, cannot, fail;
Thy love will still our hearts sustain.
We thank Thee that though hills be moved,
And though earth reel beneath the shock
Of tumult, we have naught to fear
Who stand upon the ageless Rock.
For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This is a great mystery but I speak concerning Christ and the church.
The union of one man and one woman and the faithfulness of each to the other for life is the Christian ideal of the marriage relationship. Whether human laws accord with this or whether they legalize its violation, the divine principle remains unchanged. Yet it is appalling how lightly even professed Christians and members of evangelical churches often look upon marriage. We should not be surprised to find that selfish people scorn the sacredness of the home and make and break marriage ties to suit their whims and desires. But it is distressing when those who know that God Himself has chosen the married state to picture the union of Christ and His redeemed ones, seek the aid of the world’s courts to dissolve a relationship which, once entered into, can only be broken by disobedience to the Word of God. The violation of the seventh commandment is the only ground given by our Lord for one to “divorce his wife,…and [marry] another” (Matthew 19:9). Divorce and remarriage, apart from this, is to incur the condemnation of the Lord, and such a union is regarded as adultery. Of course, where this took place before conversion, all is wiped out by the blood of Christ, and if saved in this condition each party is to “remain in the same calling in which he was called” (1 Corinthians 7:20). Every marriage union is intended to portray the relationship between Christ and His own.
And soon the months will roll away,
And quickly come the nuptial day,
When Thou, the Lamb, shalt take Thy throne
And fully there Thy Church shalt own.
Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother,” which is the first commandment with promise: “that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.”
Respect for and obedience to parents is the foundation of all society. Children who are rebellious and disobedient in the home will be resentful of control and enemies of orderly government when they grow older. More than that, if they do not obey their parents in early days they will not obey God in later years. This is why some consider that the fifth commandment really belongs to the first table of the law rather than to the second. The first table sets forth man’s responsibility to God, the second his responsibility to his neighbor. In childhood our parents stand in the place of God. We learn His mind through them, if they themselves are subject to His Word. In this our blessed Lord is, as in all other things, our great example. He who brought all things into existence by the word of His power voluntarily took the place of a child in a Jewish home and honored the law by being subject to Mary His mother, and to Joseph His foster father. Young Christians need to remember that they honor God by honoring their parents.
Give of your best to the Master,
Give Him the strength of your youth,
Clad in salvation’s full armor,
Join in the battle for truth.
For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.
These words express, as none others could, the secret of Paul’s wonderful missionary activity and his deep devotion to the will of the Lord. From the moment when divine grace arrested him on the Damascus road to his last hour on earth, he had yielded his heart wholly to the blessed One who had saved him. Life meant only one thing for him: the opportunity to become better acquainted with the Lord Jesus Christ and to serve Him wholeheartedly. Nothing else seemed worthwhile. All that earth could offer was but as rubbish compared to this (Philippians 3:7-9). He had learned to look at everything below the skies in the light of the cross of Christ (Galatians 6:14). Now he looked forward eagerly to the end of the way, when he should be with Christ and receive at His hand the recognition of His approval of his service.
Though absent, I have known His love,
And by His mercies daily prove
The wonders of His grace,
He, whom not having seen, I love,
Will call, and in His home above
I’ll see Him face to face.
With patience, in His love I’ll rest,
And whisper that He knoweth best,
And I am satisfied.
Then, clinging to that guiding hand,
A weakling, in His strength I’ll stand
Though I be sorely tried.
Though burdened with a load of care,
He’s promised me the strength to bear
The trials that appall;
So, hiding pain away from sight,
I’ll let my life be fair and bright,
While waiting for His call.
—Robert R. Pentecost
Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.
The mind that was in Christ Jesus is the lowly mind. He always sought the glory of His Father and the blessing of others. In His gracious condescension He who had every right to command became servant of all. Though in the form of God from eternity He did not consider equality with God the Father something to be retained, but He divested Himself of the outward semblance of deity, the glory that He
had with the Father before the world was, and took a bondman’s form. Having become man He humbled Himself yet farther stooping to death; and such a death, that of the cross. This is the One whose example the Spirit brings before us that our ways may be conformed to His.
Thou would’st like wretched man be made
In everything but sin;
That we as like Thee might become
As we unlike had been.
Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
Paul was no “sinless perfectionist.” After he had walked with God and served his Lord for a generation, he did not yet consider that he had attained that for which God had laid hold of him. One thing he had laid hold of, and that covered all his experience— namely, that he was always to press on, forgetting past experiences and reaching forth to new appreciation of what God had for him in Christ. The prize of the high calling was to be fully conformed to his Lord. This would not be until he met Him and they stood face to face. Then he would be transformed into His image.
I’m pressing on the upward way;
New heights I’m reaching day by day,
Still singing as I onward bound,
Lord, plant my feet on higher ground.
And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.
Someone has called this verse a blank check on the Bank of Faith to be filled in by the believer as need arises. The Bank’s credit is infinite. There are assets in abundance; riches of grace, riches of love, riches of mercy, and riches of glory. Whatever the circumstances in which the child of God is found there is sufficient for every need, whether temporal or spiritual. We are to be anxious about nothing, but prayerful for everything as we come to God in a spirit of thanksgiving to appropriate in faith what He delights to give. We are so prone to doubt and worry when we should trust and enjoy the goodness of our Father’s mercies. A motto we have often seen says, “If you worry you do not trust. If you trust you do not worry.” Commit all to Him. Claim His promise and He will meet every need.
Friend, dost thou in thine inmost heart believe this word?
Then trust—yea, wholly trust thy loving Lord.
Trust Him each day, each hour, and thou shalt see
Each need supplied, Christ’s riches used for thee.
I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up in My flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of His body, which is the church, of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God which was given to me for you, to fulfill the word of God.
A dispensation is a stewardship or economy in God’s ways with men, in which He is dealing with them in a different way from that in which He has dealt with them before. Some people decry what is called “dispensational truth,” yet all Bible students believe in it to some degree. No one seriously contends that God is dealing with men today in the same manner as He dealt with them under law from Moses to Christ. And it is clear from Scripture that when the church age is ended and the kingdom age has dawned, man’s responsibility will be different from what it is now. The word “dispensation” is found four times in the King James version and five times in the RSV. It is a translation of the Greek word
oikonomia, from which we get our word “economy,” and is translated also “order,” “administration,” and “stewardship.” It refers to the ordering of God’s ways with men.
Head of the Church, Thy body,
O Christ, the great Salvation!
Sweet to the saints it is to think
Of all Thine exaltation!
All power’s to Thee committed,
All power on earth, in heaven;
To Thee a name of widest fame
Above all glory’s given.
With Thee believers raised,
In Thee on high are seated;
All guilty once, but cleared by Thee:
And when Thou, Lord and Saviour,
Shalt come again in glory,
There, by Thy side, Thy spotless Bride
Shall crown the wondrous story.