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Thursday, July 19, 2018

SPIRITUAL CONVICTION OF A SLAVE

SPIRITUAL CONVICTION OF A SLAVE 


"That they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in all things" Titus 2:10


Here are two ideas which flash with a surprising brilliance. The first is that the doctrine of God our Savior can be ADORNED; and the second is that those who are spoken of as able to do it are SLAVES. Perhaps we shall understand the first better, if we begin, with the second. The word SERVANTS here are distinctly the word for SLAVES and it may well be conceived that the conditions of SLAVES in Crete, where Titus was laboring, were of the worst. Paul had already said that the testimony of one of their own prophets was true that the Cretans were liars, evil beasts, and gluttons (Titus 1:12). SLAVERY in a society of such must have been a terrible thing. Among these SLAVES there were some who were saints, and these were declared able in the very life of slavery, to "adorn the doctrine." Moreover, the Apostle had declared how they would do it. It would be done by subjection to their masters; by seeking to be well-pleasing, by not contradicting; by honesty, by faithfulness; in short, by such action in difficult circumstances as to win from their very masters’ recognition of their goodness. Thus we see how "the doctrine of God our Savior" may "be adorned." It is ADORNED when its effects on life and character are expressed in CONDUCT. To be true and gentle and faithful in circumstances that are hard and unfair, and even unjust, is only possible in the power of some great Spiritual Conviction; and the value of such Spiritual Conviction is revealed in such Conduct.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

RESTRAINING LAWLESSNESS

RESTRAINING LAWLESSNESS  


"The mystery of lawlessness doth already work; only there is One that restrains now" 2 Thess. 2:7


Many opinions have been held concerning what Paul meant here by "the mystery of lawlessness," and to whom he referred when he wrote of "One that restrains." The difficulty has been largely created by the view that he was thinking of something and someone peculiar to the times in which he wrote. The context shows that he was looking forward to the day of the Lord at the consummation of the present age, to the Parousia, or Presence of Christ, and especially to the Apocalypse aspect of it, in which the "Man of sin" having been also revealed, should be slain. With that in view, he wrote these words, and they naturally apply to the whole age to be so consummated. During that age—this age in which we live, "the mystery of lawlessness," the principle of evil, which at last will be unveiled in the person of the Man of Sin, is already working. But it is also true that, during the same age, there is One Who restrains that working, holds it in check, prevents its final development, and He will continue to do so, until He is taken out of the way when He raptures the Church when she is taken away also. The reference unquestionably is to the Holy Spirit, Who by His work of convincing the world of sin, of righteousness, of judgment, MAKES IMPOSSIBLE THE OUTWORKING OF LAWLESSNESS TO ITS FINAL ISSUES. The time will come when the RESTRAINING INFLUENCE will be removed, so that the mystery of lawlessness may be wrought out to its final expression, and that, in order that it may be destroyed by the unveiling of the Lord.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

ADVANCED THOUGHT – STRONG MEAT


 ADVANCED THOUGHT – STRONG MEAT


"Whosoever goeth onward and abid­eth not in the teaching of Christ, hath not God" 2 John 9



The major theologians have pointed out that both the second and the third letters of John have to do with the subject of Christian hospitality. In this one, addressed to "the elect lady," perhaps a church, and perhaps a person, the people to whom no Christian hospitality is to be extended are dealt with. These are described as "deceivers . . . even they that confess not that Jesus Christ cometh in the flesh." It is with reference to such that this declaration is made. They were persons who CLAIMED TO BE the leaders (there is One Leader according to Christ) (Matt. 23:10 NASB); they were advanced thinkers, they were progressive. The Gnostic teachers of the time were claiming that while the Gospel of the historic Jesus might be all very well for unenlightened people, they had a profounder knowledge. Such were to receive no hospitality. In this warning, we find a principle of perpetual application. There is always room for advanced thinking, for progressive interpretation, for the things of Christ are as profound as God and life and that advanced thinking should come from the Holy Spirit using the words of Christ. We never ought to be content to remain with the first principles of truth going on to the MEAT OF THE WORDS OF CHRIST (Heb. 5:12-14). We should in knowledge go on unto perfection as we are being led daily by Christ and His Spirit. But there is one infallible test for such advanced thinking, for such progressive interpretation. It is that the advanced thinking does not contradict the first principles, or deny the fundamental facts of our faith—those of the historic Jesus, that of the fact that He came in the flesh, again led by His Spirit Whom He and the Father sent to guide us in our thinking (John 14:26). Such advanced thinking as denies these things, is not progress but retrogression and apostasy.

Monday, July 16, 2018

OLD FEAR VS NEW FEAR

OLD FEAR VS NEW FEAR 


"Grieve not the Holy Spirit of God" Eph. 4:30


Two ideas are brought prominently before the mind in this command, and their interrelationship is very suggestive. The first is that of THE CHARACTER OF THE SPIRIT, in that Paul here, with evident intention, employed the full and solemn description, "the Holy Spirit of God," every word of which is full of meaning, while laying the utmost emphasis upon the HOLINESS OF THE SPIRIT. The other is that of THE DEEP LOVE-NATURE OF THE SPIRIT, in that Paul speaks of Him as being capable of SORROW, for the simple meaning of the injunction is, "Cause not sorrow to the Holy Spirit of God." The interrelation of the ideas reveals to us the effect which sin produces on the Spirit of God. It causes SORROW. Perhaps no Apostolic injunction, if its force be rightly apprehended, constitutes a more prevailing incentive to a walk which is in HOLINESS AND TRUTH. Thus is created that NEW FEAR which is of the very essence of safety. The OLD slavish FEAR of God, which was fear of His anger, and of suffering which such anger might bring to us, is completely done away by the manifestation of His love in Christ; but now a NEW FEAR takes possession of us; and that is a fear lest anything we do or say should cause sorrow to Him. The OLD FEAR produces no high spiritual or moral results. This NEW FEAR keeps the soul in living touch with the loving Lord, and so ensures its growth in strength and purity and beauty.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

WALKING THE PURE MODE

WALKING THE PURE MODE 


"To the pure all things are pure; but to them that are defiled and unbelieving nothing is pure" Titus 1: 15


These words closely follow a reference to "Jewish fables, and commandments of men," and this fact helps us to understand them. The whole system of living by tradition was unutterably evil; and our Lord Himself and His Apostles protested against it. Such traditions constantly led men to a burdensome life, in that they made actions to be sins which were no sins, and left the truly sinful things of the inner life untouched. It is so even today. Man made regulations as to what men may do or not do are the greatest enemies to real spiritual life that it is possible to conceive. These words, then, touch the true deep note about life. The "all things" refers to everything which is non-moral; such as appetite and food, desire and marriage, exchange and commerce, weariness and recreation, and so on through all the varied realm of life. To the pure all these things are pure, and they will be maintained in purity. And A man walking towards perfection of his life is unseen and denied by the man walking in impurity. To the impure, every one of them may be made the vehicle and occasion of impurity. No traditions, no commandments of men, no rules and regulations, can save the ordinary things of human life from positive ob­scenity, if the man handling them is himself as impure man. On the other hand, the man who is pure may enter into them all; and not only will he not be defiled by them, but will not defile them; he will hold them in pureness. To all of which the words of Jesus testify, that not what goes into a man defiles, but that which cometh out of him.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

NON-FADING GLORY

NON-FADING GLORY 


"This . . . veil . . . is done away in Christ" 2 Cor. 3:14


This is a superlative statement of the perfection and permanence of the glory of Christ. The illustration is taken from the story of how Moses veiled his face when speaking to the people, after he descended from the Mount. The reason for that veiling was not that they should not see the shining of his face, but that they should not see that it was PASSING AWAY. They saw the shining and it was so glorious that they were filled with fear, and Moses did not put the veil on until he "had done speaking with them" (Exod. 34:33). Paul distinctly says that the veil was worn by Moses, "that the children of Israel should not look steadfastly on the end of that which was passing away." They looked on the glory, and then it was veiled, and the sense of the glory REMAINED. Had they seen it pass, that sense would have been lost. This interprets these words: "This . . . veil . . . is done away in Christ." It is DONE AWAY because His glory has no diminishing; it does not pass away. The assistance of Moses, that is, of the law, is that of CONDEMNATION. The assistance of Christ, that is, of grace, is that of RIGHTEOUSNESS. The former has a glory, and it is inspiring, but there is no hope in it for sinning men; and so it passes, for it leaves them SINNERS. The latter has a glory, more moving, for there is hope in it for sinning men; and so it never passes, for it makes them RIGHTEOUS. Because of the finality of the glory of Christ, He lifts an unveiled face upon men.


Friday, July 13, 2018

COMING TO FINAL PERFECTION

COMING TO FINAL PERFECTION 


"The love of Christ ... the fullness of God" Eph. 3:19


Here are two great phrases. They occur in one of the apostolic prayers for the saints. In that prayer the ULTIMATE DESIRE is that they should "know the love of Christ," in order that they "may be filled unto all the fullness of God." The idea, then, is that the knowledge of "the love of Christ" brings to the soul the experience of "the fullness of God." To be "filled unto all the fullness of God" is to find the ultimate experience of life. Where this is so, there is no true desire of the soul unsatisfied, no power of the soul undeveloped or idle. The true meaning of life is discovered, and that not as an ideal seen but unrealized, but as an actual experience. It is eternal life; it is PERFECTION; it is satisfaction. How then can it be attained? By KNOWING THE LOVE OF CHRIST, for in that there is the very FULLNESS OF GOD; and so wonderful is it, not only as a VISION, but in its POWER, that to know it is TO BE TRANSFORMED by it into the likeness of itself. To the finality of this knowledge and experience we have not yet attained; but if we know anything of the love of Christ, we know something of the FILLING OF THIS FULLNESS of God. That is the story of the beginning, the, process, and the consummation of true Christian experience. The love of Christ captures our hearts, and the life of God produces rest and quietness. The love of Christ is PROGRESSIVELY INTERPRETED to us by the Spirit, and the FULLNESS OF GOD BRINGS US MORE AND MORE INTO THE JOY OF LIFE. At last we shall come to FULL APPREHENSION. Then we shall come to a FINAL PERFECTION in the FINAL FULLNESS of God.