And you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.
The believer is looked upon by God as so completely identified with Christ that His death is viewed as ours, and we are seen as buried in His grave and alive in His resurrection. But there is more than this. It is not only that our standing before God is perfect because of our identification with Christ; but as to our new state or condition we are so intimately linked up with Christ that we partake of His fullness and His life has been imparted to us. Now as we live by faith, that new life is operative in us enabling us to glorify God in all our ways. Grace flows from the glorified Head in Heaven down to every member of His body on earth, sufficient for every emergency.
A fullness resides in Jesus our Head,
A fullness abides to answer all need.
The Father’s good pleasure has laid up a store,
A plentiful treasure, to give to the poor.
Whatever distress awaits us below,
Such plentiful grace the Lord will bestow,
As still shall support us and silence our fear,
And nothing can hurt us while Jesus is near.
If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.
It is not as though Paul cast any doubt on our having been raised with Christ, and our identification with Him as He sits at God’s right hand. But it is as though he said, “Since these things are true, now set your mind on things above.” We belong to the place where Christ our Head has gone. We have died to the old life and all that belonged to it. We are now associated with Christ in new creation. Our real life is that divinely imparted eternal life which we received in regeneration. Nothing on earth can satisfy its desires or meet its demands. We must look up to where our Savior sits exalted. As we are occupied with Him the things of this lower realm will lose their power over our souls, and heavenly things become more real.
Whom have we, Lord, but Thee,
Soul-thirst to satisfy?
Exhaustless spring! The waters free!
All other streams are dry.
Our hearts by Thee are set
On brighter things above;
Strange that we ever should forget
Thine own most faithful love.
Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him, where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all.
God is called the “God of truth” (Isaiah 65:16). The Holy Spirit is the “Spirit of truth” (John 16:13). Christ said, “I am…the truth” (John 14:6). No one can have fellowship with the holy trinity who does not walk in the truth (2 John 4; 3 John 4). God desires truth in the inward parts (Psalm 51:6). Falsehood of every kind is hateful to Him. There is nothing that so manifests the alienation of the natural man from God as his tendency to falsehood. Of the wicked we are told that they go astray from their very birth speaking lies (Psalm 58:3). Satan himself is the father of lies (John 8:44). It is he who injects the venom of untruthfulness into the heart of man (Acts 5:3). Only by the new birth can this lying spirit be overcome. It is as the regenerated man yields himself to God as one alive from the dead that he learns to delight in the truth objectively revealed, and to walk in the truth subjectively.
O Jesus Christ, grow Thou in me,
And all things else recede;
My heart be daily nearer Thee;
From sin be daily freed.
In Thy bright beams which on me fall,
Fade every evil thought;
That I am nothing, Thou art all,
I would be daily taught.
Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving; meanwhile praying also for us, that God would open to us a door for the word, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in chains.
Prayer is talking with God. He invites us to come in all simplicity and to tell Him our needs (which He promises to supply) and to intercede on behalf of others. Paul, the chiefest of all the apostles, felt the need of the prayers of others. Again and again he pleads with believers in various places to speak to God concerning him and his ministry. How much do we pray for Christ’s servants? And for ourselves, do we pray for God to endorse our programs, or do we ask that He will reveal His mind to us and give us grace to act accordingly?
Once I prayed—
(I knew not what I said)
“Show me myself, O Lord!”
Alas, I did not dread
The hideous sight
(Which now I shudder to behold),
Because I knew not self aright.
And I was led
In answer to my prayer,
As step by step, to see
My wretched heart laid bare;
Then I prayed,
“Stay, Lord, I cannot bear the sight!”
And pityingly His hand was stayed.
Now I pray
(I know the prayer is right),
“Show me Thyself, O Lord,
Be to my soul the Bright
And Morning Star,
To shine upon the grave of self,
And lead my heart from earth afar!”
For our gospel did not come to you in word only but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit and in much assurance, as you know what kind of men we were among you for your sake. And you became followers of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Spirit.
1 Thessalonians 1:5-6
The faithful preaching of the Word of God, backed by a consecrated life, is bound to bring results. A holy minister of Christ is a tremendously effective weapon in the hand of God. Paul believed the gospel. He knew what it had done in his own life, and he proclaimed it with absolute confidence to others. He never sought simply to amuse or astonish his audiences, but he stood before them in all the holy authority of an ambassador for Christ, representing the high court of Heaven. Consequently, his word was with power. We may well follow his example today and, renouncing all the fripperies and fropperies of the present age of sham, preach the gospel assured that “it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16).
Still in a land of drought and dearth
Our longing spirits cry
To Thee, the Lord of heaven and earth,
Our thirst to satisfy.
O Thou with love more strong than death,
Unquenehed by deepest waves,
We need throughout the walk of faith
The same free grace that saves.
We would not take from falsehood’s fire,
Though glittering be the spark;
Thou only art our heart’s desire,
Art light where all is dark.
For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe.
1 Thessalonians 2:13
There is a science known as Comparative Religions. It has much in it that is worthy of our attention and consideration so long as we do not include Christianity among the “religions” to be compared. All forms of pagan systems have much in common. But the gospel of God is diverse from all of these. They are but the speculations of men’s minds, and often give evidence of Satanic origin. The Christian message is a revelation from Heaven. The gospel is an inspired announcement given by God Himself to be proclaimed to all men everywhere as the only remedy for sin. It proves its divine origin by what it does. It works miraculously in the lives of those who believe it, giving new life in the energy of the Holy Spirit, and delivering from the power of evil.
He breaks the power of cancelled sin;
He sets the prisoner free;
His blood can make the vilest clean,
His blood avails for me.
For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Is it not even you in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming? For you are our glory and joy.
1 Thessalonians 2:19-20
The Thessalonian Christians were the fruit of Paul’s labor in the Lord. He looked forward to the day of manifestation when every one’s works shall be presented, and he was sure that those whom he had led to Christ would be to him a crown of rejoicing in that day. Every soul we are privileged to bring to the Savior will shine as a star in our crown when we give an account of our service. “Those who are wise shall shine…like the stars forever and ever” (Daniel 12:3). Are we keeping this in view or do we live selfishly, seldom telling others of Christ and so rarely, if ever, winning them for Himself? If saved ourselves we owe the gospel to those still in their sins, for it is the only way out of the darkness in which they live.
See, o’er the world wide open doors inviting;
Soldiers of Christ, arise, and enter in!
Christians, awake! Your forces all uniting,
Send forth the gospel, break the chains of sin.
This is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality.
1 Thessalonians 4:3
Speaking of our sanctification, what the Word of God impresses on us above all else, is the sinfulness of unchastity in all forms. We live in the days of a revolting revival of paganism. Men excuse every sort of impurity as “natural,” and not to be held in check. Scripture well describes such as behaving like “natural brute beasts” (2 Peter 2:12-13), and solemnly declares that such “will receive the wages of unrighteousness.” It becomes the Christian to shun every approach to uncleanness, and to remember that “the body is not for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body” (1 Corinthians 6:13). It has been purchased by the precious blood of Christ and is not to be used selfishly or made the victim of evil appetites and unholy passions.
Yield not to temptation,
For yielding is sin;
Each victory will help you
Some other to win;
Fight manfully onward,
Dark passions subdue;
Look ever to Jesus,
He’ll carry you through.
To him that o’ercometh
God giveth a crown;
Through faith we shall conquer,
Though often cast down;
He who is our Saviour
Our strength will renew;
Look ever to Jesus,
He’ll carry you through.
—H. R. Palmer
For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God, And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall he caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always he with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.
1 Thessalomans 4:16-18
In these verses the Holy Spirit tells us what will transpire when the Lord returns for His own to fulfill the promise made in the upper room, “I will come again and receive you to Myself” (John 14:3). It tells of His personal bodily descent from Heaven, of the resurrection of the dead in Christ and the rapture of the living who will be caught up without passing through death to meet the Lord in the air. This glorious event may take place at any moment. No prophecy awaits fulfillment before it can take place. It should be our constant expectation and comfort.
Quite suddenly—it may at the turning of a lane,
Where I stand to watch a skylark soar from out the swelling grain,
That the trump of God shall thrill me, with its call so loud and clear,
And I’m called away to meet Him, whom of all I hold most dear.
Quite suddenly—it may be in His house I bend my knee,
When the Kingly voice, long-hoped-for, comes at last to summon me,
And the fellowship of earth-life that has seemed so passing sweet,
Proves nothing but the shadow of our meeting round His feet.
Quite suddenly—it may be as I tread the busy street,
Strong to endure life’s stress and strain, its every call to meet,
That through the roar of traffic, a trumpet silvery clear,
Shall stir my startled senses and proclaim His coming near.
Quite suddenly—it may be as I lie in dreamless sleep,
God’s gift to many a sorrowing heart, with no more tears to weep,
That a call shall break my slumber and a Voice sound in my ear;
Rise up, My love, and come away! Behold, the Bridegroom’s here!
We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is fitting, because your faith grows exceedingly and the love of every one of you all abounds toward each other.
2 Thessalonians 1:3
A growing faith is evidence that one is going on with God and learning to depend upon His Word because of having proven the truth of its promises. Faith is confidence, and confidence is increased as we see the Lord working in accordance with His revealed will for the blessing of those who walk in obedience to His precepts. When growing faith and abounding love go hand in hand there is true spiritual development. Unbelief dishonors God, and lack of love is a reproach upon the name of Him who prayed for His own, “that they may be one.” The better we know God our Father the more we shall love all the household of faith. To profess to love Him while cold to His children is but hypocrisy.
We ask not, Lord, for sight: increase our faith,
Unquestioning alike in life or death.
No earthly joys can give to restless hearts
The joy and peace that trust in Thee imparts.
Beyond this earth-bound vista human sight
Could not endure to see heav’n’s unveil’d light,
Or rend the future, mercifully seal’d,
And day by day in Thy good time revealed.
—W. A. Rice
But we are bound to give thanks to God always for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God from the beginning chose you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth, to which He called you by our gospel, for the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ
2 Thessalonians 2:13-14
Notice the order here. Believers were chosen by God from the beginning. He foreknew all who would form part of the church, the body and bride of His Son. In bringing them to the knowledge of salvation He wrought upon their hearts by His Holy Spirit, thus separating them from the godless world around. As a result of the Spirit’s working they were led to believe the truth—“the word of the truth of the gospel” (Colossians 1:5)—and now they can look forward in faith to the coming glory into which they shall enter at our Lord’s return. How every heart should go out to God in thanksgiving when such grace is known!
I am not told to labor,
To put away my sin;
So foolish, weak, and helpless,
I never could begin.
But blessed truth—I know it!
Though ruined by the fall,
Christ for my soul hath suffered,
Yes, Christ has done it all.
And if I now would seek Him,—
In love He sought for me,
When far from Him I wandered
In sin and misery;
He oped my ears and gave me
To listen to His call;
He sought me and He found me—
Yes. Christ has done it all.
Now may the Lord of peace Himself give you peace always in every way. The Lord be with you all.
2 Thessalonians 3:16
Peace is more than joy, and is far deeper than happiness. It is that restful sense that all is well which comes from confiding in the Word of God. Christ Jesus is called “the Lord of peace.” He is the only man who ever walked through this world in perfect peace at all times—until in Gethsemane He faced the judgment He was to bear when taking the sinner’s place upon the cross. As a result of that work peace has been made between God and the needy sinner, a peace which is entered into by faith alone. But there is not only peace
with God, which has to do with the sin question that has been settled forever; there is also the peace
of God that is daily poured into the heart that learns to commit all to Him in prayer.
There is a calm—the calm of sins forgiven—
Through knowing sin on Christ by God was laid;
Through looking to and resting on His merit,
And knowing that our debt He fully paid.
And there’s a calm about the unknown future;
The earthly road; the fuller life above;
And things unknown—here, and in life’s hereafter—
Vex not the soul who knows that God is Love.
—J. Danson Smith
This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.
1 Timothy 1:15
None can be too bad for Christ. If the enemy of our souls cannot keep us from coming to Christ by deceiving us with the notion that we are good enough for God without our Saviour, he will often attempt to make us believe we are too bad to be saved. But this is impossible, for “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom,” says Paul, “I am chief.” Surely, since the chief of sinners has been saved already, none need despair. “Where sin abounded, grace abounded much more” (Romans 5:20). God delights to show His grace to the lowest and the vilest, as well as to those who have fancied themselves to be righteous, but have learned that all their righteousness is but as filthy rags in His sight (Isaiah 64:6).
There is no more successful way to influence others than by the personal testimony of one who has been saved himself. Mere theory, however true it may be, is not enough. There must be a personal experience of saving grace if one would be a winner of souls. To say, “Christ can save sinners” is blessedly true, but it is not enough. To be able to say, “He has saved me,” gives power to the message and produces assurance in the hearts of the hearers as they realize that the speaker is bearing witness to what he has himself experienced.
Then dawned at last that day of dread,
When, desolate, yet undismayed,
With wearied frame and thorn-crowned head
He, now forsaken and betrayed,
Went up for me to Calvary;
And, dying there in grief and shame,
He saved me.—Blessed be His name!
For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.
1 Timothy 2:5-6
Sinful man feels the need of One who can stand for him in the presence of God. The realization of this troubled Job. He cried, “Nor is there any mediator between us, who may lay his hand on us both” (Job 9:33). This is exactly what we find in Christ Jesus, the Mediator whom God has provided. He is both God and man in one glorious person, hence He can act for both the offended Majesty of Heaven and the guilty sinner. On the cross He gave Himself a ransom. It was for this He came into the world. “Not to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). Yes, that ransom is available for all, both Jews and Gentiles, who will come to Him in faith. If any are lost now, it is because they refuse to avail themselves of the provision made for their salvation. Through the one Mediator all who desire to know His saving grace and power may now draw nigh to God.
None like the ransomed host
That precious blood have known;
Redemption gives faith’s holy boast
To draw so near the throne.
And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifested in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen by angels, preached among the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up in glory.
1 Timothy 3:16
The mysteries of the New Testament are sacred secrets, long unrevealed, but now made known by the Holy Spirit for the blessing and edification of the children of God. The mystery of godliness or as it might be rendered, the secret of piety, is deity enshrined in humanity in the person of our Lord Jesus Christ. He has been revealed in flesh. This refers to His incarnation. Though He took the sinner’s place He was justified in the Spirit. His justification proved Him to be the One suited to make expiation for iniquity. Then we have His manifestation. Angels beheld their Creator clothed in the body of the babe of Bethlehem! His proclamation to the nations in accord with the purpose of God tells of redemption accomplished. By faith He is received, believed on in the world, accepted of His own. Last of all we have His glorification at the Father’s right hand. He is the manifestation of the Father and the center of all His counsels.
Of the vast universe of bliss,
The centre Thou,and Sun;
Th’ eternal theme of praise is this,
To Heaven’s beloved One—
Worthy, O Lamb of God, art Thou
That ev’ry knee to Thee should bow.
For every creature of God is good, and nothing is to be refused if it is received with thanksgiving; for it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.
1 Timothy 4:4-5
Blessed it is to recognize in the temporal, creative mercies of each day, the evidences of a loving Father’s care. He “gives us richly all things to enjoy” (1 Timothy 6:17). To receive all as from His own hand, giving thanks in the name of our Lord Jesus, is to honor the Giver in the use of His gifts.
The Christian must avoid both fleshly asceticism on the one hand and carnal self-indulgence on the other. The former discounts many of God’s gifts and thus discredits Him who provides them. The latter uses the mercies of God without regard to their source, and thus turns even our blessings into curses. We should ever recognize the bounty of our Father in these things, and whether we eat or drink do all to His glory, our hearts going out to Him in adoring gratitude.
Ten thousand thousand precious gifts
My daily thanks employ;
Nor is the least a cheerful heart,
That tastes those gifts with joy.
Through every period of my life
Thy goodness I’ll pursue;
And after death, in distant worlds,
The glorious theme renew.
Through all eternity, to Thee
A joyful song I’ll raise;
For oh, eternity’s too short
To utter all Thy praise!
Some men’s sins are clearly evident, preceding them to judgment, but those of some men follow later. Likewise, the good works of some are clearly evident, and those that are otherwise cannot he hidden.
1 Timothy 5:24-25
The unsaved do not always reveal all that they are in this life, but in the day of judgment every hidden thing will be brought to light and men will be judged every man according to his works. And so with the children of God. Some who are rich in good works go through life so quietly that few ever dream of all they are doing for the blessing of their fellows. These are the people who do not let the right hand know what the left hand is doing. But at the judgment seat of Christ all shall be made evident, and there will be a rich reward for every thing that was done in accordance with the Word of God. No one is competent now to judge others. That is the prerogative of the Lord alone.
Is your place a small place?
Tend it with care!—
He set you there.
Is your place a large place?
Guard it with care!—
He set you there.
What’er your place, it is
Not yours alone, but His
Who set you there.
And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will.
2 Timothy 2:24-26
Christ was the perfect Servant who came not to do His own will, but the will of the Father who sent Him. He has left us an example that we should follow His steps. There is a new glory shed on the servant’s path since He has trodden it before us. Those who now would follow Him as ministers of the Word are called to lowliness and patient grace. Self-assertiveness, emulation of others, striving for recognition by men rather than seeking the honor that comes from God only, are utterly foreign to the spirit of true service. Christ’s representatives are to manifest the meekness and gentleness that were seen in all their perfection in Him whom they own as their Master in Heaven.
When I am dying, how glad I shall be
That the lamp of my life has been blazed out for Thee;
I shall not regret one thing that I gave,
Money or time, one sinner to save.
I shall not mind that the way has been rough,
That Thy blest feet led the way for me is enough.
When I am dying, how glad I shall be
That the lamp of my life has been blazed out for Thee.
All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.
2 Timothy 3:16-17
It is of all importance to realize that “to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams” (1 Samuel 15:22). The only way anyone can know what is acceptable to God is through careful and prayerful consideration of His written Word, which is the revelation of the living Word (Hebrews 4:12). Forms and ceremonies, no matter how impressive: doctrines and traditions, no matter how venerable, are all to be refused if contrary to the mind of the Lord as set forth in the Bible. The supreme test is “What says the Scripture?” Where the Word speaks, it should be ours to obey. Where Scripture is silent, we may well be silent too. But a merely mental acceptance of Bible doctrines will not do for God. There must be heart subjection to His truth. When Christ is received by faith, and His Word becomes the rule of our lives, we shall be enabled to glorify God in all our ways (Isaiah 59:21).
How precious is the Book divine,
By inspiration giv’n!
Bright as a lamp its doctrines shine,
To guide our souls to heav’n.
Its light, descending from above,
Our gloomy world to cheer,
Displays a Saviour’s boundless love,
And brings His glories near.
It shows to man his wand’ring ways,
And where his feet have trod;
And brings to view the matchless grace
Of a forgiving God.
This lamp thro’ all the dreary night
Of life shall guide our way,
Till we behold the clearer light
Of an eternal day.
For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.
2 Timothy 4:6-8
What a word to come from a dungeon death cell. Lacking all that ordinary men consider necessary to make life worthwhile, Paul the prisoner of Jesus Christ was able to rejoice in the Lord as he looked back over all the way he had come. And he looked forward to the glad hour when he would lay his armor down at the Redeemer’s feet and receive from His hand the crown of righteousness, that blessed award which is reserved for all who love His appearing. The apostle’s wish, expressed some years before (Acts 20:24), that he might finish his course with joy, had been gloriously fulfilled. He had fought in the good conflict for truth and righteousness. He had kept the faith and now he anticipated his home-call with joyful confidence. To him Christ was all and Christ was enough!
Ask those who now their palm of victory wave,
Conquerors through Him, who died the lost to save,
If now they murmur at their former lot,
Or wish they had escaped one mournful spot?
No, you would hear such grateful pilgrim tell,
That vale of grief was blessing’s richest well:
The pools of trouble, filled with heavenly rain,
Turned into myrtles every thorn of pain.
—J. G. Deck
For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed, and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.
The same grace that saves becomes our instructor after we know Christ. In this school we learn important lessons of the unprofitableness of the flesh, and the need to turn away from all carnality and worldliness so that Christ may be glorified in our lives. To spur us on to earnest endeavor the blessed hope of the Lord’s return is put before us. When we behold His face we shall never regret one thing we have suffered for His sake, nor think His demands upon us have been too great. Viewed in the light of the cross where He gave Himself for us, our most devoted service seems trivial indeed, and the least we can offer as an expression of our love for the One to whom we owe so much.
Perhaps today! Then, much-tried saint,
Look up, nor let thy spirit faint;
The stretching road thine eyes may see
May never be traversed by thee—
One moment’s space, and then above,
To find thyself in cloudless love!
Perhaps today, afflicted life,
Thou shalt be taken from the strife;
From all that hatred to thy word
Which comes as thou dost please thy Lord!
And then, ah then, how small the pain
Compared with all thou then shalt gain.
—J. Danson Smith
Remind them to be subject to rulers and authorities, to obey to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing all humility to all men.
The things that are highly esteemed among men are often thoroughly opposed to the mind of God (Luke 16:15). It is the ambitious, energetic man who strives to excel his fellows, who has the admiration of men of the world who suppose that present gain is the great thing to be desired. But Jesus taught us that it is the meek who inherit the earth (Matthew 5:5). The “terrible meek,” one has called them, who are content to be passed over and to be unnoticed by men, but to whom the approval of the Lord means more than anything else. These are they who overcome the world by faith (1 John 5:4). They can afford to relinquish present advantage, for they know they shall find a sure reward at the judgment seat of Christ.
There is no room for earthly pomp or worldly glory in the circle of Christ’s followers. To seek personal advancement and to endeavor to lord it over one’s brethren is thoroughly contrary to the spirit of Him who became servant of all, though He created the universe. The spirit of a Diotrephes (3 John 9) is far removed from the spirit of Christ and should be avoided by all of His servants, but that of an Epaphroditus (Philippians 2:25-30) is a worthy example which all may well emulate.
O worldly pomp and glory,
Your charms are spread in vain!
I’ve heard a sweeter story;
I’ve found a truer gain.
Where Christ a place prepareth,
There is my loved abode.
There shall I gaze on Jesus;
There shall I dwell with God.
If then you count me as a partner, receive him as you would me. But if he has wronged you or owes anything, put that on my account, I, Paul, am writing with my own hand, I will repay—not to mention to you that you owe me even your own self besides.
We have a lovely gospel medallion in this short letter to Philemon. A poor thieving runaway slave, Onesimus, who had been saved through contact with the apostle Paul in prison, was going back to his master and this letter was to be his passport to favor. Paul undertook to stand surety for all the wrong done, even as Jesus has made Himself responsible for our sins and iniquities. Then Paul requested that Philemon receive Onesimus as if he were the apostle himself. He was to be accepted according to his master’s estimate of Paul. In this we see how all believers, though once lost sinners, have now been accepted in the beloved and are treated by the Father according to His thoughts of His own Son.
No condemnation now I dread;
Jesus, and all in Him, is mine!
Alive in Him, my living Head,
And clothed in righteousness divine,
Bold I approach the eternal throne,
And claim the crown, through Christ my own.
God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.
Have you ever wished you understood God better? Have you wondered just how He viewed many things that you are faced with in this scene of testing? Then all you need to do is to get better acquainted with the Lord Jesus, for in Him God is perfectly revealed. He is the brightness of His glory; the exact expression of His character, so He could say, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father”(John 14:9). He is God’s last word to man. In times past His revelations were fragmentary through inspired prophets. Now He has come out to us in the person of His Son, His heir and the creator of the ages. This One has made purification for sins, and He has taken His place as man on the Father’s right hand. In Him we see God.
Lamb of God, our souls adore Thee,
While upon Thy face we gaze!
There the Father’s love and glory
Shine in all their brightest rays.
Thy almighty pow’r and wisdom
All creation’s works proclaim,
Heaven and earth alike confess Thee,
As the ever-great I AM.
Lamb of God, Thou now art seated
High upon Thy Father’s throne,
All Thy gracious work completed,
All Thy mighty vict’ry won.
Ev’ry knee in heaven is bending
To the Lamb for sinners slain;
Ev’ry voice and heart is swelling,
“Worthy is the Lamb to reign.”
—J. G. Deck
For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted.
The perfection of Christ’s humanity was uniquely demonstrated by His temptation. Adam, the first, was tested in a garden of beauty surrounded by every blessing, and he fell by yielding to the tempter’s voice. Adam, the second, was tried in a wilderness among the wild beasts, with all nature apparently arrayed against Him, yet He stood like a rock—invulnerable and impeccable—because He was God revealed in flesh. His temptation was like exposing the gold to the acid test—not to find out if it is a precious metal, but to prove that it is really gold and not base metal gilded. Yet the temptation was very real to Jesus. “He…suffered, being tempted.” To be brought into such close contact with sin was so revolting it caused Him keenest suffering because of the purity of His human nature, undefiled by Adamic corruption. We suffer as we resist temptation and so cease from sin (1 Peter 4:1). In this we may see the contrast between ourselves and Him. But having thus been exposed to all that has wrought such havoc in our frail humanity, He, our ever faithful High Priest, is touched with the feeling of our infirmities and stands ready to render help in every hour of need. We are not left to fight our battles alone. He lives to be our victory.
With joy we meditate the grace
Of God’s High Priest above;
His heart is filled with tenderness,
His very name is Love.
Touched with a sympathy within,
He knows our feeble frame;
He knows what sorest trials mean,
For He has felt the same.
We do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.
The temptation of Jesus was not to see whether He would fail. It was rather to prove that He would not. The temptation by Satan only made evident the holiness and strength of the Lord in contrast to the weakness and failure of mankind.
In considering the temptation, it is important to remember that Jesus did not cease to be God when He became man. He is God and man in one glorious person. The temptation was designed to make this evident. He could ever say, “The ruler of this world is coming, and he has nothing in Me” (John 14:30). There was no traitor within as there is in us. He was ever the sinless One, as Satan himself proved when he retired defeated from the conflict.
An old Welsh collier who taught a Bible class gave his young men full liberty to discuss all Biblical problems, but often cautioned them with the advice, “Whatever else ye do, lads, keep the character of God clear.” So in considering the holy and mysterious theme of our Lord’s temptation we may well bear his words in mind and refer them to the blessed Savior. Be sure to keep the character of Jesus clear. If He were not the sinless, unblemished Lamb of God, He would have needed a deliverer Himself and could not have saved us (2 Corinthians 5:21).
Christ at God’s right hand unwearied
By our tale of shame and sin,
Day by day, and hour by hour,
Welcoming each wanderer in;
On His heart amidst the glory,
Bearing all our grief and care;
Every burden, ere we feel it,
Weighed and measured in His prayer.
Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
Abundant provision has been made to meet all our needs, temporal or spiritual. We are invited to come with boldness to the throne to make known our requests, not only (nor even primarily) for ourselves alone, but for others in whom we are interested. We little realize the power of earnest believing prayer. In answer to our supplications, God delights to give many blessings which we shall miss if we neglect to call upon Him. He has chosen to meet our needs in this way because of the sanctifying influence of the hour of prayer upon our own souls, and because of the proofs He can thus give that we have a relationship with a personal God who cares for us and loves to minister to us.
There is a place where thou canst touch the eyes
Of blinded men to instant, perfect sight;
There is a place where thou canst say, “Arise!”
To dying captives, bound in chains of night;
There is a place where thou canst reach the store
Of hoarded gold and free it for the Lord;
There is a place—upon some distant shore—
Where thou canst send the worker or the Word.
There is a place where Heaven’s resistless power
Responsive moves to thine insistent plea;
There is a place—a silent, trusting hour—
Where God Himself descends and fights for thee.
Where is that blessed place—dost thou ask “Where?”
O soul, it is the secret place of prayer.
—Adelaide A. Pollard
For God is not unjust to forget your work and labor of love which you have shown toward His name, in that you have ministered to the saints, and do minister.
While works of mercy and care for others are not a means of obtaining salvation, they do display the activity of the new nature when carried out in and for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. He went about doing good, and in this as in all else He has left us an example that we should follow in His steps. Unselfish service for His glory is an acceptable sacrifice well-pleasing in His sight.
There are loyal hearts, there are spirits brave,
There are souls that are pure and true;
Then give to the world the best you have,
And the best will come back to you.
Give love, and love to your life will flow,
A strength in your utmost need;
Have faith, and a score of hearts will show
Their faith in your word and deed.
—Madeline S. Bridges
In that He says, “A new covenant,” He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.
The old covenant was the testing of man through Israel, the nation that God had selected from all others as the recipient of His special favor. Their failure proved the incorrigibility of all mankind (Romans 3:19), and has shown that all alike are under sin. Hence, there can be no salvation for any apart from the direct operation of God’s Spirit upon the heart of man, acting in sovereign grace. This is the blessing of the new covenant. God is now the Worker—not man. He is the only contracting party. He gives freely to all who are willing to receive, the riches of His mercy in Christ Jesus. He imparts divine life to the believer, and with this life is linked a new and a divine nature which delights in that which pleases God.
Rest, my soul, the work is done,
Done by God’s almighty Son;
This to faith is now so clear,
There’s no place for torturing fear.
Not through works of weary toil,
Comes the sunshine of God’s smile;
Won by Christ, if found in Him,
Brightly falls the glorious beam.
With belief in Jesus blest,
We are ent’ring into rest;
He who full salvation brought,
In us all our works hath wrought.
For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?
The law knew nothing of a purged conscience. The sacrifices of the Levitical economy were designed to ease the conscience but they could not purify it. Every sin required a new offering, for there was no intrinsic value in the blood of beasts to actually settle the sin question. Outwardly there was purification, fitting one to enter the earthly sanctuary. Inwardly there was no cleansing such as we now have by virtue of the precious blood of Christ shed for us upon the cross. Dead works are those performed by dead sinners—from these, as from evil works, the conscience needs to be purged. The blood of Christ alone can avail for this. That blood is sprinkled on the mercyseat. The veil is rent, and man may now draw nigh to God in full assurance of faith.
The veil is rent:—our souls draw near
Unto a throne of grace;
The merits of the Lord appear,
They fill the holy place.
His precious blood has spoken there,
Before and on the throne:
And His own wounds in heaven declare,
Th’atoning work is done.
‘Tis finished!—here our souls have rest,
His work can never fail:
By Him, our Sacrifice and Priest,
We pass within the veil.
—J. G. Deck