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23 And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.
Have we "lost our lives for Christ's sake?"-that is, given them over totally to his service? Only such, he says, will save them eternally.
With most people, religion - if they have any at all - is a self-pleasing hobby: and a part-time hobby at that. They do what they like, and they set their own limits of what they consider reasonable service to God - an hour or so a day, and they think they are heroes.
It can be the same with Christadelphians. We have the same self-deceptive flesh and hearts as everyone else: go through the motions, attend a fair number of the meetings, enjoy the association - but spend most of the life on self-pleasing and puttering about with the rubbish of the world, just like everyone else. Can we honestly feel this is enough to cause God to perpetuate us eternally, and let all the world perish? Is that reasonable? Do the Scriptures give us ground to expect it? Paul said-
"It is no longer I that live, but Christ liveth in me"
Everything we do must be Christ living in us. Paul told the Colossians-
"Whatsoever you do, do it as to the Lord"
This is just as much a divine command as "Believe and be baptized." Every activity of life must be purified and sanctified this way, as something done for Christ. This applies to everything - even the most humdrum and commonplace things. It is all or nothing, for it is a Way of Life, and part-time service is hypocrisy.
Bro Growcott - What Doth the Lord Require of Thee?
24 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.
'...the way to the kingdom is a way of suffering for all -- necessitated by the prevalence of sin, and the moral need for humiliation and proof before exaltation...
It is "hard" only to a dark state of mind -- the state of mind that does not rightly estimate the vanity of human life -- that is not open to the reality of the work of God done in the earth through Moses and the prophets, Jesus and the apostles. To such a mind, it seems "hard" to lose anything now, for lack of faith in the connection between the losing and the getting promised....
A man must die; what can he gain by mortal success if it is at the expense of Christ's favour who can give life? His coming is compared to a time of harvest reaping. Let the analogy be followed. A farmer would think it "hard" to put his seed in the ground if he did not believe it would come up again multifold. But believing this, he cheerfully submits to the present loss.
So the man who clearly and confidently realises that letting life go now will lead to the keeping thereof in the day of Christ, when all mere natural life will wither like the flowers, can let it go. The words, of course, had special force at a time when the reception of the faith of Christ was about to become a capital offence in all the world; but they have not lost their force as a general truth, that a man to be an accepttable friend of Christ in the day of his coming, must be content to forego the world's favour in an age when the world is Christ's enemy. Men find this "hard." "He that is able to receive it, let him receive it."
Nazareth Revisited Ch 37
26 For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory, and in his Father's, and of the holy angels.
The penalty incurred by neglecting to watch and keep the garments, is expressed in the words, "that he walk not naked, and they see his shame". When a body comes out of the dust of the ground, and there is impressed or written upon its organization a character previously developed in a former state, if that character be bad, such a person is said to "walk naked", even though he might be abundantly supplied with clothes.
He is morally naked, and certain to be put to shame. Being morally naked, he will continue to walk naked, in the sense of not being "clothed upon with the house which is from heaven;" that is, his earthy body will not be transformed into an identity with the spirit-body of the Lord Jesus. He will be dealt with judicially after the example of the first man, who, after receiving sentence of death, was "driven" with shame from the Divine Presence, to live awhile in sorrow and pain, and then to die and rot in the dust from whence he came (Gen. 3:24).
Such is the unhappy future of those "who profess to know God, but in works deny him;" and who, being "in Christ Jesus, walk after the flesh". After this order, "they come forth into a resurrection of condemnation," in which they reap of the flesh the corruption due to what they have thereunto sown.
But, the first man of the earth was put to shame before a plurality of Divine Personages. This is evident from the narrative, which records the saying of the Judge, who remarked, "Behold the man is as one of us, knowing good and evil". The "us" is indicative of the associates of the speaker, styled by MOSES YAHWEH ELOHIM. These it was who, in the language of our text, "Saw his shame". This Court of Assize in Eden, which condemned the man of the earth to remain earthy unto death because of one offence, is the type, or example, of the future Court of Assize in Teman, where his earthy representatives, who come forth from the dust as he, will be tried, or scrutinized, and justified or condemned, "according to their works".
As in the case of the first human pair, this justification and condemnation will be pronounced and carried into effect before a plurality of dignitaries. In relation to the condemned, this is indicated in the word bleposi "THEY see" his shame. If it be inquired, who are the "they," it must be admitted, that the words of [Rev] ch. 16:15, do not inform us. The exposition, however, I have given, will supply this lack.
The man of the earth condemned to walk naked in his shame, will stand in the presence of the Lord Jesus, of the angels of his power, and of the justified constituents of the Perfect Man, all of whom will be embodiments of the power or spirit of the Eternal Father.
This "I" who comes "as a thief upon the sons of night, is the "they" who see the shame of the earthborns, who are sentenced to condemnation with the world. And this interpretation is in harmony with the words of Jesus, who saith in Luke 12:8, "whosoever shall confess me before men, him shall the Son of Man also confess before the angels of the Deity, and before my Father who is in heaven;" and "whosoever shall be ashamed of me, and of my words, of him shall the Son of Man be ashamed when he shall come in his own glory, and the Father's, and of the Holy Angels" (Luke 9:26): "I will deny him before my Father" (Matt. 10:33).
So that what we confess, or deny, and do in the present state, will define our moral standing at the bar of the Divine Court of Teman; where "they who have been accounted worthy to obtain of that aion (the Resurrection-Aion) and of the resurrection from among the dead (which gives entrance into it) are equal to the angels:" all else are repudiated, or denied, and put to shame before all "his servants, both small and great," whether angels, or constituents of the Perfect Man.
27 But I tell you of a truth, there be some [Peter and John and James v 28] standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the kingdom of God.
Christ was now to show something that would not be open to any suggestion of this sort -- something affecting his own person.
The transfiguration - The immediate disciples of Christ, whom he was to leave behind him in the tempest of persecution that would arise in consequence of the testimony for his resurrection, stood in need of special strengthening for the difficult part they had to perform...
His transfiguration would shew them more conclusively than anything could, that the Messiahship of Jesus was not and could not be "a cunningly devised fable." In his own person, he would show in advance the glory of his power and coming of which he so frequently spoke.
How powerfully it affected the minds of the three apostles who beheld it is manifest from the words of Peter referred to:
"We have not followed cunningly devised fables when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eye-witnesses of his majesty, for he received from God the Father, honour and glory when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased. And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the Holy mount" (2 Pet. i. 16-18).
The event thus referred to, occurred immediately after the conversation about what men thought of Christ.
Nazareth Revisited Ch 37.
28 And it came to pass about an eight days after these sayings, he took Peter and John and James, and went up into a mountain to pray.
Ceasarea Philippi a mountainous region
29 And as he prayed, the fashion of his countenance was altered, and his raiment was white and glistering.
The transfiguration is on a par with the conception of Christ and all his miracles. It was a phenomenon of divine energy specifically directed, and one that can have no difficulty for students of nature who have realised how universal and subtle is the potency of the electric force of the universe, and how easily under appropriate excitations, dead and lustreless things can be made to glow with blinding brightness. Grant (as the facts in connection with Christ compel you to grant) the operation of the Father, through his Spirit, and nothing is impossible or too hard to understand. Christ was exhibited in glory that the disciples might see what it was they were related to, and have such assurance as would qualify them to maintain a testimony by-and-by against all the world.
30 And, behold, there talked with him two men, which were Moses and Elias:
31 Who appeared in glory, and spake of his decease which he should accomplish at Jerusalem.
They listen while the three men "in glory" talk. What is the topic of conversation? "They spake of his decease which he should accomplish at Jerusalem." Is not this the very climax of the interesting and sublime? We had Jesus a few days before instructing the disciples on this very subject, which naturally lay near his heart. We had Peter protesting, and Peter rebuked; and now here is the very same matter made the theme of communication among exalted personages, "appearing in glory."
Such a conversation could not fail to strengthen Jesus in prospect of his suffering; and it must have been equally powerful to send home to the hearts of the three disciples the fact which he had sought to impress upon them -- that he must die. Nothing could more strikingly shew the importance of the place occupied by the death of Christ in the scheme of God's love and wisdom, than this conversation of three men "in glory."
32 But Peter and they that were with him were heavy with sleep: and when they were awake, they saw his glory, and the two men that stood with him.
33 And it came to pass, as they departed from him, Peter said unto Jesus, Master, it is good for us to be here: and let us make three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias: not knowing what he said.
How they were able to recognise men they had never seen, and whose portraits the law of God deprived them of the means of being acquainted with, may appear a difficulty at first sight. The difficulty disappears if we take into account the presence and power of the Spirit of God, which evolved the whole manifestation and embraced the three onlookers in its power. This presence affected them physically.
The disciples were there to see and know, and, therefore, the Spirit of God would impart to them intuitively the knowledge that the two men were Moses, the representative of the law, and Elijah, the most notable of the prophets -- by whose presence the work and person of Christ were thus demonstrably associated with the whole work of God with Israel from the beginning.
Nazareth Revisited Ch 37
51 And it came to pass, when the time was come that he should be received up, he stedfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem,
Received up - put on immortality.
Before it could take place, he must go to Jerusalem and go through the appointed terrible ordeal waiting him there, concerning which he said, "I have a baptism to be baptised with: and how am I straitened till it be accomplished." He seems at this time to face the prospect with what might almost be considered painful determination. This seems to be the significance of the statement that "he steadfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem."
He had hitherto lingered along in the neighbourhood of the Galilean lake, preaching the word to multitudes and healing their sick. He now realised that the time had come for the next move -- a move towards darkness, trouble, and death. He knew the issue of it all -- in life and light and joy: still it required an effort to take the path down into the valley of suffering that must be traversed before he could emerge on the heights beyond.
"He steadfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem." He was to return from Jerusalem and make a second visit to Galilee, but the ultimate purpose and end of his journey was what was most before his mind. With this view, "he sent messengers before his face:" that is, he sent disciples ahead of him to make the needful practical arrangements for a journey to Jerusalem coincident with the feast of tabernacles.
Nazareth Revisited Ch 39
52 And sent messengers before his face: and they went, and entered into a village of the Samaritans, to make ready for him.
53 And they did not receive him, because his face was as though he would go to Jerusalem.
What village it was we are not told: but it was one that was strongly infected with the jealous hatred that divided the Samaritans from the Jews; for when they ascertained that this small travelling band of Galileans were en route for Jerusalem, they refused them the temporary accommodation they desired.
Had they been proposing a visit to Mount Gerizim, or any other locality that implied a recognition of the Samaritan claims, they would have been full of courteous civilities, no doubt: but they had no hospitality for men who proclaimed by their attitude that the claim of Samaria, inherited from the appointments of Jeroboam, was without divine foundation. This was natural. These villagers were acting according to their light, which was darkness.
The only alternative was to patiently endure the incivility, and pass on. But the disciples were not yet enlightened enough for that. They were aflame against the insult offered them, and knowing it was directed against the very Son of God, and that the power of God was on their side, their impulse was to use that power in avengement of the affront. They appealed in this spirit to Christ...
Nazareth Revisited Ch 39
55 But he turned, and rebuked them, and said, Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of.
What was required : The spirit of saving men from their sins.
56 For the Son of man is not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them. And they went to another village.
That is, they did not understand the spirit applicable to that phase of the work to which they had been called, which was one, not of executing judgment, but of offering salvation: -- "The Son of Man is not come to destroy men's lives but to save them." The "spirit" pertaining to such a work was that of "giving place to wrath," "enduring grief," "suffering wrongfully," threatening not when abused; reviling not again when reviled, rather turning the cheek to the smiter, than calling fire from heaven upon him -- as was afterwards abundantly indicated by the teaching of the Spirit of God in the apostolic writings.
This does not preclude the divinely revealed determination, that when the time arrives, for which all this patient submission to evil is a preliminary discipline, the saints will take the sword in hand and inflict long-slumbering retribution, and break in pieces the institutions of the present evil world and rule the nations with a rod of iron.
Nazareth Revisited Ch 39
58 And Jesus said unto him, Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.
He was not allowed to use the miraculous power bestowed upon Him, for the provision of His personal wants, though He fed a crowd of 5,000 persons with a few loaves and fishes. Yet He had to live. He was a poor man...How was He provided for? The providence of God was visible in the raising up of friends "who ministered unto Him of their substance" (Luke 8: 3).
Ways of Providence Ch 23