1 PETER 1
1 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia,
"Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ" - a simple but all - inclusive introduction - an apostle - an appointed messenger of the Anointed Saviour - a messenger from him who was at once the King of Kings and the Elder Brother - the Lamb of God, the central figure of mankind, around whom all revolves, the personal manifestation among men of all the power, wisdom and love of God. Peter had a message for them and us direct from him...
..."To the strangers"-to those sojourning in a strange place, pilgrims, living, like the patriarchs, in tabernacles, having no continuing city, no fixed ties to this present order of things - a strange, separate, consecrated people -
"No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him" (2 Tim. 2:4).
How easy it is to forget this!-to begin to "hew us out sepulchres on high" as if the things of this life had any importance or value. But as the Scriptures so vividly present it, all we can ever have out of this life is a "sepulchre on high" a monumental gravestone to commemorate our folly and lost opportunity...
...."Scattered"-literally, "of a dispersion." The primary figure is the worldwide, homeless dispersion of Israel all through the Gentile times, but the real, deeper thought is-
"THE CHILDREN OF GOD SCATTERED ABROAD."
-whom John in his gospel declares it was the purpose of Christ's sacrifice to "gather together in one" (Jn. 11:52). This is, and must ever be, the condition of his people in his absence-scattered abroad. It is a day of small things - a day of individual things.
The tendency, in religion, as in all else, is to build organizations, but the Truth is essentially a matter of individuals. Our strength or weakness lies solely in the degree of godliness and spiritual knowledge in the individual brethren and sisters. We must constantly force ourselves to think in terms of individuals, considering each separately, never in masses.
Ecclesial organization, the ability of leaders, numerical strength - these things mean nothing in the ultimate - all this will be sifted out as chaff and all will stand forth as individuals - one by one -"the children of God scattered abroad."...
"Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, Bithynia" - that is, Asia Minor, the present Turkey - scene of Paul's earliest labours in proclaiming the Truth to the Gentiles. As such, as the foundation, this area is typical of all. It is the land brother Thomas always preferred to speak of by its name of Anatolia -"the land of the sun's rising"- the land of the earliest proclamation to the Gentiles of the Sun of Righteousness. It was the area also in which lay the ecclesias to whom Jesus' last great prophetic message was addressed - the Revelation. Here again its representative and typical character is illustrated...
...These were the ecclesias of Asia Minor which were the scene of Paul's earliest labours. Peter was the "apostle to the circumcision"- to the Jews. These brethren and sisters whom he wrote were Paul's first Gentile converts. What then were the purpose and circumstances that would cause Peter to write to these?
We know from Paul's first epistle to the Corinthians that there was a tendency among believers to identify themselves with one particular apostle or leader to the detriment of unity and balanced growth in the Truth. The appointment of Paul to the Gentiles and Peter to the Jews would have a tendency among the undiscerning to encourage this.
The Body of Christ is a unity; its unity is a vital First Principle. Anything that detracts from that unity is evil.
Bro Growcott - Grow in Grace
2 Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied.
God elects saints for His kingdom, not by foregone conclusions which are irreversible; but men are "elect through sanctification of spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ" (1 Pet. 1:2). This reveals to us the means, and design of the election in relation to the present time. "Sanctification of spirit" is the means; "obedience and sprinkling of Christ's blood," the end.
How this is brought about is explained in these words -- "Ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the spirit" (1 Pet. 1:22). The manner in which men are brought to obedience, and purification by the sprinkled blood, through the spirit, is practically explained in the use of the keys by Peter on the day of Pentecost, and at the house of Cornelius.
The spirit through the apostle, "convinced men of sin, and righteousness, and judgment to come;" and confirmed his words by the signs which accompanied them. They believed and obeyed the truth; and "in obeying it" were purified from all past sins by faith in the blood of sprinkling. Thus, they were "washed, sanctified, and justified by the name of the Lord, and by the spirit of God;" and after this manner elected according to His foreknowledge and predetermination.
No man need flatter himself that he is one of God's elect, unless he believes the gospel of the kingdom and obeys it, and walks in the steps of the faith of Abraham. A man then knows, and feels, that he is elected; because God hath said, "He that believes the gospel, and is baptised, shall be saved."
Elpis Israel 2.3.
God's choice is upon eternal and unrespecting principles-
"SEEK, and ye SHALL find" (Lk. 11:9).
"Draw nigh unto God, and He will draw nigh unto you" (Jam. 4:8).
"Ye shall find Me WHEN ye shall seek for Me with all your heart" (Jer. 29:13)."The eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong in the behalf of THEM WHOSE HEART IS PERFECT TOWARD HIM" (2 Chr. 16:9).
The foreknowledge of God, and its relationship to the freewill of the individual, has caused much confusion and perplexity, but it need not. We know that both are basic and simple truths, yea, they are essential truths, in the very nature of things. We trouble ourselves needlessly when we in any way set one against the other, because of the limitations of our own minds.
It is not just a matter of being asked to accept an incomprehensible contradiction like the unscriptural doctrine of the Trinity. It is simply a matter of accepting obvious, and inescapable, and simple divinely testified truths.
The limitless foreknowledge of God is essential to His character as the eternal, all-wise, all-powerful Creator of all. God is essentially limitless in power, and knowledge, and goodness and love, for He is perfection and completeness in all these things.
"God is light, and in Him is NO DARKNESS at all" (1 Jn. 1:5) declared the Spirit through John. Any limitation of His knowledge would be darkness.
Even though we find difficulty in adjusting our puny minds to these vast conceptions, all concern is removed from the subject by the revelation that He is not only all-wise and all-powerful, but all-good.
We can calmly leave the matter of free will and predestination in His hands with the assurance - not only of perfect fairness - but limitless help, mercy and love to those who seek Him wholeheartedly in the way His love prescribes.
This is contained in the title Peter here uses -"God the Father." This manifestation of Himself to us as "The Father" draws us to Him in affectionate faith and confidence, and takes away all the strangeness and terror that would attach to so great a Being to whom we had no kinship or likeness. Is not the revelation of Jesus Christ, the perfect man, as His Own Son, a powerful source of strength and fellowship in this respect? The Fatherhood of God is one of His most beautiful truths toward us.
Through sanctification of the Spirit
"Sanctification" means "making holy" which in turn means cleansing from all that is evil and ungodly, and bringing into full harmony with the pure perfection of God. The whole epistle is a stirring up unto holiness.
Paul expresses the same glorious thought of divine choice and sanctification in writing to the Thessalonians (2:2:13)-
"God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth."
Both are essential to salvation:
(1) belief of the Truth - the gospel of the Kingdom and Name -and
(2) being made holy-purified-transformed- "sanctified of (by) the Spirit."
Obedience is the great lesson to be learned, not as a matter of force and necessity, but of love and wisdom...The spirit of obedience is the key to life-a desire to obey-a PLEASURE in obeying-in getting as CLOSE to God's requirements as possible. Saul was told-
"To obey is better than sacrifice" (1 Sam. 15:22).
Nothing that we can do, however self-sacrificing or worthy or laborious, can take the place of simple obedience to the commands of God.
Sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ.
Obedience of itself is not enough, essential as it is. There must be the sprinkling, covering, atoning blood-the God-provided way of life, humbly and thankfully accepted. There is no other way of cleansing.
Paul, writing to the Hebrews concerning the typical sprinklings of the Law, speaks of the fulness of the divine purpose in Christ-
"How much more shall the blood of Christ . . . purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?" (Heb. 9:14).
And again (Heb. 10:22)-
"Let us draw near . . . having our hearts SPRINKLED FROM AN EVIL CONSCIENCE."
What does it mean to have the heart "sprinkled (or purged) from an evil conscience" by the blood of Christ?
Paul explains the evil conscience that is cleansed when he speaks of coming to a recognition of the indwelling law of sin which tended to pull him down to death. This was the "evil conscience"-the consciousness of inner, inborn evil that caused him to exclaim-
"O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" (Rom. 7:24).
As we come back to the seventh chapter of Romans from time to time, we increasingly realize that it describes a stage through which all must pass-a great awakening-a great turning point. Thenceforth, the realization of the deliverance-the thankfulness and relief-becomes stronger and stronger the more we realize and are oppressed by this consciousness of the evil of the flesh (Rom. 7:21)-
"When I would do good, evil is present with me."
Only the blood of Christ, and all it stands for in love, and mercy, and reconciliation and forgiveness, can lift the weight of this oppression of the evil of the flesh, and give strength and hope to press on in the way of righteousness. *
Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied
The peace he prays for for them is the "Peace of God that passeth understanding." It is a condition of heart and mind - settled - not disturbed - not anxious - not discouraged - but quiet joyfulness, confidence in the goodness of God regardless of anything else.
It is a recognition that all trials are passing and for a purpose, that God is good, that we shall not be tried above what we are able to bear, that nothing matters but the maintenance of a close communion with God, that everything else in life but this is just the passing scenery of a brief dream.
Peace is a quiet determination to do our best each day - cheerfully, patiently and thankfully, and leave things each night without anxiety in the hands of God. Peace is not the blankness or numbness of stagnation, but a living, active thing - a keen, joyful, absorbing intenseness in the unchanging eternal beauties to which we are by faith and hope related. Peace is stability of mind, built upon the stability of God.
Grace is usually linked with peace, as here, and rightly so, for there can be no true peace apart from the grace and blessing of God. Grace is a word of great depth of meaning. It combines the thoughts of favour, benevolence, kindness, gentleness, charm, beauty, sweetness of disposition, balanced and mature cheerfulness - but none of these comprehend it in its fulness. It carries the sense of heavenliness of character, freedom from the ugliness of all the natural evil reactions of the flesh.
This word is used in two related ways - of God's attitude and action toward man - infinitely forgiving and patient; and of man's own manifestation of the same godliness and beauty of character.
...When we have learned the Divine patience of complete peace and kindness and self-control in the face of the most unjust and flesh-provoking of circumstances, we have learned the beautiful characteristic of grace. Grace is true, unmarred beauty of thought, word and action toward good and bad alike.
Peter concludes his epistles with the admonition-
"GROW in grace, and in knowledge" (2 Pet. 3:18).
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
"Blessed be God"
should be our continual frame of mind. It is a sound and healthy frame of mind. It recognizes the true facts of eternity and is in harmony with them.
There are many unhealthy and self-destructive frames of mind, but this line of thought has the power to drive them all away. If we can keep this uppermost, it will set the pattern for the growth of grace and godliness.
Mercy is sympathetic forebearance towards weakness and guilt - unearned goodness. God's mercy is limitless, as are all His attributes of goodness, but it is not shapeless and haphazard, it only runs in a certain specified channel, in harmony with His righteousness and justice. The Psalmist says (103:17-18)-
"The mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting upon THEM THAT FEAR HIM . . .
"To such as keep his covenant, and to those that remember His commandments to do them."
The universal tendency of the flesh is to presume on God's mercy, to take His endless longsuffering for granted, to be always thinking of mercy in terms of its future manifestation; but our continual thought should be upon what His abundant mercy has already done for us in the past, and the great obligation of love that we are under because of it. *
4 To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you,
Peter says the inheritance is "incorruptible, undefiled, and unfading." It is incorruptible-endless-continuing for ever-can never be destroyed or taken away. It is undefiled- there is nothing to detract from this infinite perfection of its goodness and joy. It is "altogether lovely." It is free from all the problems and sorrows and weaknesses and limitations of this sad present vale of tears. It is perfection.
It is unfading-this is perhaps its most wonderful aspect. The word means that it never withers, wastes, or loses strength. To our natural weak minds, the conception of endlessness in anything-even infinite joy-is a little frightening. All our thinking is adjusted to the limits of human nature.
The greatest of joys, the keenest of excitements, the deepest of emotions, soon give way to fatigue and monotony. But if we by any means attain unto the resurrection of the dead, all human limitations will have been forever left behind-we shall have entered a timeless joy that will never lose any part of its intensity and fresh vigor.
Let us remember that God's infinite wisdom and power has given us all the capacity for enjoyment of things as we are at present. Whatever pleasure we experience, God's wisdom has designed and created the capacity for it in us.
All at present is on a low, brief, mortal level. Surely we can leave it to God to fulfil His marvellous promise to recreate our powers of pleasure on a vastly greater, spiritual and eternal plane. The Psalmist said, by the mind of the Spirit-
"In Thy presence is fulness of joy; at Thy right hand there are pleasures forever more" (Psa. 16:11).
We have not the mental capacity to even conceive the eternal joys prepared for THOSE THAT LOVE GOD.
Bro Growcott - Grow in Grace
6 Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations:
It is against God's law to be anything else but joyful- intensely, overwhelmingly joyful in Faith, Hope and Love. Any other frame of mind is an unfaithful reflection on His goodness and providence and glorious eternal purpose..."All things-ALL things-work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose."
Everything that happens to us is lovingly designed to develop and test our comprehension of this glorious promise-to teach us that nothing is able to obscure this eternal joy or to separate us from the glorious power of the love of God. Paul assures us (Rom. 8:38-39) that-
"Neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God." *
7 That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:
To be exalted from the present to the future state and inheritance, he must be subjected to trial. From the examples recorded in the Scriptures, it is evident that God has established it as the rule of His grace; that is, the principle upon which He bestows His honours and rewards -- to prove men before He exalts them.
Probation, then, is the indispensable ordeal, to which every man is subjected in the providence of God, before he is accepted as "fit for the Master's use" (2 Tim. 2:20-21). By these examples, also, it appears that man's probation is made to bear upon the trial of His faith by testing His obedience. An untried faith is worth nothing; but a faith that stands the test of trial "is much more precious than gold which perisheth, though it be tried with fire;" because the sustained trial will be "found unto praise, and honour, and glory, at the appearance of Jesus Christ " (1 Pet. 1:5-7).
An untried faith is a dead faith, being alone. Faith without trial finds no scope for demonstration, or evidence of its existence. Thus, it is written, "faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. 'Yea,' a man may say, 'thou hast faith, and I have works:' show me thy faith without thy works, and I will show thee my faith by my works.
Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well; the devils also believe, and tremble. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect. Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and NOT by faith ALONE" (James 2:17-24).
"Without faith," says Paul, "it is impossible to please God;" and it is also apparent from James' testimony, just recited, that the faith with which he is pleased is a faith that is made manifest by works, of which Noah, Abraham, Job, and Jesus, are pre-eminent examples.
Now, this "precious faith" can only be educed by trial; for the trial elaborates the works. This is the use of persecution, or tribulation, to believers; which in the divine economy is appointed for their refinement. Peter styles the "manifold persecutions," to which his brethren were subjected, "the trial of their faith;" and Paul testified to others of them, that "it is through much tribulation they must enter the kingdom."
Probation is a refining process. It purges out a man's dross, and brings out the image of Christ in His character; and prepares him for exaltation to His throne (Rev. 3:21). We can enter the kingdom through the fire (1 Cor. 3:13); but, if a man be courageous, and "hold fast the confidence and rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end," he will emerge from it unscorched; and be presented holy, unblameable and unrebukeable (Col. 1:22-23) before the King.
Elpis Israel 1.4.
8 Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory:
Trial of Your Faith
"I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts."
This searching is adapted to the necessities of each case. That which is a trial to one is not always a trial to another. It is no hardship for a man indifferent to wealth to be deprived of it; nor for one devoid of parental love to lose his offspring. It requires no great effort for a man with little self-esteem to refrain from walking in pride's silly ways; nor for one who has large benevolence and small acquisitiveness to dispense alms.
Divine tests call for sacrifices, for endurance, and for resistance. A saint's first duty is obedience, and should it entail the loss of things near and dear, it must be borne with resignation. Let us not measure our own trials by the experience of others, nor vice versa. Do not let us trouble ourselves with the apparent freedom from trial of others. In so doing, we may misjudge.
It is a conceit of human nature to think it knows better than the Deity - it was so with Job's Satan. Everyone is put to the proof in the best and most effectual way, and this way is known only to God.
Bro AT Jannaway
The Christadelphian, March 1887. p104
10 Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you:
The simple truth is that the prophets were men by whom God spoke. Their words were not their own words. What they said, they said under the power of an impulse extraneous to their own faculties-which explains a good deal. Among other things, it explains why they did not always understand what the Spirit uttered through them...
...The only key to the scripture of Moses and the prophets is their own truthfulness.
... God wrought with Moses, spoke by the prophets, and impelled them to commit to writing some portion of His word by them.
The Christadelphian, June 1898
10 Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you:
Watch: The signs of the times.
Z. "The prophets have enquired and searched diligently, what manner of time the spirit did signify when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow."
Is it not manifest from this testimony that the terms in which the spirit expressed the time of the suffering, and the time of the after glory, were enigmatical? The prophets saw the mystery, and diligently laboured to unfold it. It is not affirmed of them as it may truthfully be of certain of their modern students,
"Let us not bother ourselves concerning the times. Let us rather strive to develop that character well pleasing in the sight of God."
This does not sound amiss as a general exhortation, till it comes to be asked what constitutes the character with which God is well pleased? Is it reasonable to imagine that God can be pleased with those who themselves neglect, and who exhort others to do likewise - to apply their hearts to understand all the things written beforetime for their learning?
The times cannot be regarded of minor importance. In this respect they are only second to the events. And where would the events be without the times? That man's organization must be very peculiar who can feel a most lively interest in the events, and be so far indifferent to the times, as to exhort his brethren "not to bother themselves about them."
Brethren who are anxiously waiting the Lord's return, can hardly be edified with hortatory advice of this kind. And let me remark, en passant, that brethren will do well to let their affections follow, and not precede their judgment. "Hold fast the form of sound words." This is an exhortation which implies attachment between the holders and speakers on account of the "words" spoken.
To the Pharisees and Sadducees, Jesus said,
"O ye hypocrites! ye can discern the face of the sky; but can ye not discern the signs of the times?
This teaches plainly enough that certain "signs" have been by Yahweh allotted to certain "times." In the divine arrangements there is a time fixed.
"To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven."-(Ecc. iii, 1.)
"And a wise man's heart discerneth both time and judgment."-(chap. viii, 5.)
Without a knowledge of the times, the signs cannot be understood, for they are "the signs of the times" to which they have been appointed. No doubt this plan has been adopted to enable "the wise" to "understand" the sign-periods, or to "discern both time and judgment." This is perfectly rational. But any pretension of a desire to understand the prophetic oracles, with an aversion to take the times into consideration, seems unreasonable at first sight; and upon mature study, cannot fail of being rejected altogether. Z
The Ambassador of the Coming Age, Aug 1867. p196,197.
11 Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow.
12 Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the holy spirit sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into.
The Revealed Mystery
The gospel invites men to enter into the kingdom of God. The way of entering is made exceedingly plain in the Bible. There is now no hidden mystery concerning it as there was before the sufferings of Christ were manifested. The mystery of the kingdom has been unlocked. The key of knowledge has been given, but unfortunately it has been stolen again by Peter's pretended successors, and by every other ecclesiastic upon a smaller scale who would discourage or throw hindrances in the way of a free, unbiased and independent examination and avowal of Bible truth in their churches, or an unrestricted advocacy of it, though at variance with the institutes of dogmatic theology, in all the pulpits of the land.
The leaders of the people dare not permit such a course to be pursued; for the Bible is hostile to their systems, and sets forth things, which, if believed, would empty their rostrums, disperse their flocks, and close their doors, and elaborate such a social revolution, that truth and righteousness would triumph amidst the earth, and the people be enlightened in the knowledge which comes from God. Such a consummation, however, need never be hoped for, so long as the instruction and government of the nations are in the hands of the existing orders of rulers, lay and ecclesiastical; for "like priests like people," and vice versa; they are corrupt and altogether gone out of the way; and, therefore, are devoid of all power to resuscitate the things which remain, and which are ready to vanish away.
Before a man can enter into the kingdom of God, he must be unloosed from his sins in the present state, and liberated here after from the prison-house where the dead lie bound in chains of intense darkness. The unloosing from sins, Jesus committed to Peter; but the enlargement from the chamber of death, He reserved to Himself (Rev. 1:18; 20:1).
Knowledge is the key to remission, or release from sins, and to an entrance into the kingdom of God. No one can enter this kingdom in his sins, and destitute of a character approved of God; and none could answer the question, "how can a man obtain the remission of sins, and what kind of character would God account worthy?" -- until the apostle revealed the secret, communicated to him by the Spirit, on the day of Pentecost.
If the reader peruse the second chapter of the Acts he will there learn how Peter used one of the keys of the kingdom given to him by its King. On that occasion, I say, he used but one of the keys. He revealed the mystery of the gospel of God's kingdom to the Jews only. They believed in the kingdom, glory, and dominion, promised to the Son of Man in Daniel and the prophets; they were well aware that the kingdom was to belong to their nation, that the King was to be David's Son, and to live for ever, and the righteous were to take the kingdom with Him: these things were the substance of the national hope; but they did not then know upon what conditions the obtaining of them was predicated.
Hence, it was Peter's duty to instruct them. He first called their recollection to certain notable things concerning Jesus -- that the wonders He performed by the power of God evidently showed that God approved Him; that they had been guilty of His death in clamoring for His crucifixion, but that all this was predetermined of God; that God had "loosed Him from the pains of death" by raising Him from the dead. He then proceeded to show by their prophets that the things which had thus happened to Jesus were verifications of certain predictions.
He adduced the testimony of David, that the Christ was to be "raised up to sit upon David's throne," and consequently, must previously suffer death; and that after He was resurrected, he was to ascend to the right hand of God. He then concluded by saying, "let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God hath made that same Jesus whom ye have crucified, both Lord and King Anointed (CHRISTOS)." For the truth of this statement he appealed to what they saw and heard, to the cloven tongues like fire sitting upon their heads, the "sound of a rushing mighty wind," and the many languages spoken by Galilean fishermen without previous study.
The result of the apostle's reasoning was their conviction that Jesus was indeed the King of Israel, even the Shiloh that had been promised them for so many ages. They acknowledged Him to be the "Son whose NAME should be called Wonderful, Counsellor, the Mighty God, the Founder of the Future Age, the Prince of Peace" (Isaiah 9:6).
Elpis Israel 2.1.
13 Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ;
Symbolically, the girdle is a very important part of the raiment of Christ-covering righteousness. "Gird up the loins of your mind." This is the tightening of the girdle and a pulling up of all the loose flowing ends of the garment into it for rapid travel or strenuous labour. This takes effort and determination. It does not come naturally and easily. The easy way is to please the flesh. We must be strongly impressed with the necessity of effort and strongly motivated to it by the love of God.
"We must through much tribulation enter the Kingdom." (Acts 14)
The tribulation is in crucifying the flesh, and always abounding in the work of the Lord, when the flesh wants to follow its own inclination. Paul said (I Cor. 9),
"I keep under my body, lest I should be a castaway."
"Keep under" is a most feeble and inadequate translation. The Revised Version is a little better: "I buffet my body." But this is still too weak. Rotherham comes closer:
"I beat my body under."
The context and the language show that Paul is using the figure of boxing. "Fight" in verse 26 should be "box." It's pukteo (pook-teh'-o), from which we get the word pugnacious. The root is fist. Not boxing as it is today, but as it was in the stern Roman day. The word here for "keep under" is hupopiazo (hoop-o-pee-ad'-zo) and it literally means to punch beneath the eye, to strike violently in the face. It is a boxing term for knocking out the opponent. Roman boxers in the arena did not use soft padded gloves for mere entertainment. Their hands were wrapped in leather thongs with metal knobs. A writer says, describing them,
"One wonders how any human being, no matter how strong and powerful, could stand the blows from such weapons."
They were accurately called limb breakers. Boxing, in the Roman arena, was a bloody conflict unto death. This is the figure Paul uses of the conflict of his own flesh, and for him it was literally true. As a direct result of his faithful, fearless walk and teaching, he was stoned and left for dead, scourged with whips, and beaten with rods repeatedly. He permanently bore the marks on his battered body, as we read in Galatians. These are harsh realities intended to make us think.
We are not likely to be called upon in these soft, easy, treacherous days to endure these things for the sake of the Truth or the brotherhood, as so many of the faithful have been in the past. The test for us is just the same - whom we will serve, to what extent of faithfulness and completeness we will render that service, and to what extent we will please the flesh?
Bro Growcott - Blessed is he that watcheth and keepeth his garments
...if we look at man as we know him. He is a bundle of powers, faculties, and capacities, among which there are such as are low, and such as are high. All his powers fulfil a good purpose in their right connections and subordinations; but some of them are manifestly fitted and intended to have the controlling place, while others put in this place are odious and destructive.
'...few include God in the practical objects of their exertion and concern. The consequence is that human nature scarcely anywhere attains the beauty of development of which it is capable. The upper brain is checked in its action and dwarfed in development by the universal manners, and consequently the vast mass of human beings on earth are but insipid specimens of a noble race, unhappy in themselves and possessing only the capacity of being a trial and a nuisance to others.
...The upper brain must have the education which by its nature it requires and demands, and no education short of the knowledge of God is suited to those requirements. The whole group of the moral powers (and they are the dominating powers in the human organisation), require God for their action.
Without action you cannot have development; and without development, man cannot rise to the standard of His being... 'veneration', and the capacity to worship and adore, and having its most natural action in the recognition of God...hope and faith, which unitedly give the capacity to realise the action of unseen power, and to base anticipation thereon... the impulse of benevolence. .. the staying power of firmness, flanked by conscientiousness which gives sensitiveness with regard to right and wrong. The whole group is of angelic tendency when allied with enlightened intellect in the front of the brain.
They require development like every other faculty or capacity in the human mind, and this development can only be attained by the education appropriate to their action...
Now, we live in a state of society where these powers are not provided for. Modern life and modern education address themselves almost wholly to the lower range of the brain faculties ...
There is little intellect, less mercy, and less expansive and noble godliness anywhere. It is as the Scriptures testify. They are all gone astray, every one to his own way, which is as far as possible from the way God designed them to walk in.
Bro Roberts - Without God, All is vanity and vexation of spirit.
15 But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation;
Here is one source of the affliction that belongs to the high calling to which men are called in Christ Jesus. Another is to be found in the aversions that the Truth creates towards those who obey the Truth. Ungodly men do most keenly resent the reflection implied in the separateness for Christ that the Truth imposes. "Come out from among them;" you could not hurt them more.
They "reproach you," as Jesus says, and "cast out your name as evil." What are we to do? If we are weak-eyed in the things of the Spirit, we shall fear men and try to propitiate them, and be neither one thing nor another.
This will be a mistake. You cannot propitiate them except by being out-and-out one of themselves. If you are this you cannot belong to Christ. If you are half-and-half, you please neither him nor them. It is best to be thorough, but with all courtesy. Even the enemies of Christ will respect you more if you are thorough than if you mince and trim and try to appear to belong to them when you don't.
Bro Roberts - All parts of the Truth necessary
It is not agreeable when everybody is busy and enthusiastic, to be looked down upon as a religion-warped lunatic, nursing utopian dreams, and letting the present substance slip.
It is not agreeable to be isolated in the corner, and considered as belonging to those whose society is to be avoided; yet the eye of faith, the mind of conviction, the soul that really and resolutely believes the gospel, will have no difficulty in "tiding" over the trial, and in keeping a tenacious hold of the invisible link of connection between a suffering and degraded present, and a glorious future-such a future as the world has no conception of and can never realise.Bro Roberts - Sunday morning 12
19 But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:
The sacrifices had to be "without blemish," a "perfect" life poured out unto death - a recognition that the flesh must be cut off; the body of sin must die: the ultimate submission and subjection and conformation of humanity to God in perfect unity of will.
Their required "perfection" is the key to their meaning: the strong perfection of Christ which can cover weak sinful man, if man will humbly and obediently accept the covering in the way appointed, and live in the way required to maintain possession of this covering.
The sacrifices were a manifestation of faith in the deliverance from sin that God had promised and would provide - the Seed of the Woman to crush the Serpent's head.
Bro Growcott - Purifying of the heavenly Ch 2
23 Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.
The word of the Kingdom (Matt 13:19)...the incorruptible seed
It is by this word that an individual is renewed or renovated so as, in an intellectual and moral sense, to become a "new man" as appears from what the apostle says to the brethren at Colosse; "Ye have put on the new man, which is renewed by knowledge (Col. 3:10) after the image of Him that created him."
Elpis Israel 1.2.
When this seed, or word of the kingdom, is received, it begins to work in a man until he becomes a believer of the truth. When things have come to this pass, he is a changed man. He has acquired a new mode of thinking, for he thinks in harmony with the thoughts of God as revealed in His law and testimony.
He sees himself, and the world around him, in a new light. He is convinced of sin, and experiences an aversion to the things in which he formerly delighted. His views, disposition, temper, and affections, are transformed. He is humble, child-like, teachable, and obediently disposed; and his simple anxiety is to know what God would have him to do. Having ascertained this, he does it; and in doing it is "born out of the water." Having been begotten of the Father by the word of truth (James 1:18), and born of water, the first stage of the process is completed. He is constitutionally "in Christ."
When a child is born, the next thing is to train it up in the way it should go, that when it is old it may not depart from it. This is also the arrangement of God in relation to those who are born out of water into His family on earth. He disciplines and tries them, that He may "exalt them in due time." Having believed the gospel and been baptized, such a person is required to "walk worthy of the vocation," or calling, "wherewith he has been called" (Eph. 4:1), that by so doing he may be "accounted worthy" of being "born of spirit," that he may become "spirit," or a spiritual body; and so enter the kingdom of God, crowned with "glory, honour, incorruptibility, and life " (Rom. 2:7).
When, therefore, such a believer comes out of the ground by a resurrection from among the dead, the spirit of God, worked by the Lord Jesus, first opens the grave, and forms him in the image, and after the likeness of Christ; and then gives him life. He is then an incorruptible and living man, "equal to the angels;" and like them capable of reflecting the glory of him that made him. This is the end of the process. He is like Jesus himself, the great Exemplar of God's family, born out of water by the moral power of the truth, and out of the grave by the physical power of spirit: but all things of God through Jesus Christ the Lord.
Elpis Israel 1.4.
24 For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away:
25 But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.
It is a great revelation that all things exist in the will of God; that all things are but the concretion of His invisible energy according to His intention.
There is no room for accidental perdition or spontaneous dissolution here. Nothing can interfere with the foundation things have in the word of Yahweh. It is no inflated figure of speech that describes God as the Rock. Its perfect appropriateness is evident when we think of His Spirit as the medium and formative executor of His purposes, radiated by His volition from the presence of His eternal power and glory.
This is His word in its physical relations. There is rest for our feeble minds in the fact that His word is everlasting: that though the world passeth away, and human life as we know it at present is a fading flower,
"the purpose of the Lord standeth sure."
We have His word for it that heaven and earth are for ever: therefore, we are unaffected by the theories and thoughts that would make all things uncertain, and our lives as the mere bubbles on a restless ocean of everlasting change. We rest in the Lord, and have the comfort of hope and the quietness of assurance for ever.
We are tranquillized and made glad by the knowledge that the Eternal Father has a purpose involving the perpetual stability of the glorious place we inhabit, that in ages to come He will show us His kindness in Christ Jesus, when His Name shall have attained that exaltation among men which is the basis of all blessedness.
Bro Roberts - The word enduring forever, Seasons 1: 41.