3 Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.
Strifes over words
Mere logomachy should never be made a basis of accusation. Where the thing intended is wrong, it is, of course, a different case.
Christ is our great exemplar
Let us not minimise his value as such by wrong reasoning. He, it is true, was divine, whilst we are only human, but this enhances rather than weakens his worth to us as an example. We are not required to reach Christ's standard of perfection. We are simply asked to keep our model before us and to strive to copy it.
Are we all doing this? Let us try to be Christlike-our shortcomings then will never condemn us. Let us never discourage any on account of their apparently slow progress. Rather let us praise and encourage where progress, however small, is being made.
In following Christ, some make much more headway than others. All have not the same ability, and we know not each other's weaknesses and drawbacks. The reasonable rule for us in our ignorance to observe is to esteem others as deserving of more credit than ourselves (Phil. 11:3).
This does not mean that we shall make light of wrongdoing, or call evil things other than by their right names. Drunkenness is drunkenness, and theft is theft, and scandal mongering is scandal mongering, and, should occasion require, it is not wrong to so describe these things.
What we have to avoid is pluming ourselves upon conduct which has been the result of small effort, and frowning upon others, who, though apparently less successful, have reached their measure of uprightness by ten times our effort.
Bro AT Jannaway
The Christadelphian, Jan 1906
6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:
In What Sense was Christ Equal with God?
... to tell us that Christ who "thought it not robbery to be equal with God," "made himself of no reputation," is to give us a strong argument in favour of our own abasement, who are nothing.
...The ordinary translation is about as good a rendering into English as need be desired; and unquestionably gives the idea of the original. The only question is, in what sense did Christ "think it not a robbery to be equal with God." This is answered in John 5:18,
"He said that God was his Father, making himself equal with God."
When Christ's origin in the Spirit is realised, his equality with God in the New Testament sense is not difficult to perceive. The son of any high personage possesses a certain equality with his father, which is appreciated by those in a lower sphere whom he may visit, notwithstanding that his father is higher in rank than he.
In this way, Jesus, begotten of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: and the lesson of Paul's words lies here, that if Jesus, so high in station as to rank as the equal to God, was so humble as to make himself of no reputation, we have a great example of humility, and ought to
"let this mind be in us which was also in Christ Jesus."
The Christadelphian, Mar 1872
7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:
Being thus the image and likeness of the invisible God, as well as of man, who was created in the image and likeness of the Elohim, He made Himself equal with God in claiming God for his father (John 5:18), though born of "sinful flesh."
Though thus highly related in paternity, image, and character, He was yet "made a little lower than the angels;" for He appeared not in the higher nature of Elohim, but in the inferior nature of the seed of Abraham (Heb. 2:16). This was the first stage of His manifestation, as the present is of the saints who are His brethren. But He is the appointed "Heir of all things, on account of whom" "the dispensations were re-arranged by the word of God, to the end that the things seen exist not from things apparent" (Heb. 1:2; 11:3).
But, says the apostle, "we do not yet see all things put under Him: but we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that by the grace of God he should taste death for every man" (Heb. 2:8-9). Having been thus laid low, and for this gracious purpose, He is no longer "lower than the angels." He is equal to them in body; and made so much superior to them in rank, dignity, honour, and glory," as He hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they" (Heb. 1:4).
Elpis Israel 1.2.
9 Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:
"In his name" is here an all-important phrase, for apart from this great name, there is no repentance nor remission of sins for Jew or Gentile. "There is salvation in no other; for," continues the Spirit in Peter, "there is none other Name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved" (Acts iv. 12); and again, he said, "to Him give all the prophets testimony, that whosoever believeth into him, shall receive remission of sins THROUGH HIS NAME" (x. 43).
The Name is expressive of a personal existence "among men." In its first sojourn here, though it was the Deity's Name, it was a name of no reputation; it was without rule, being the name of a servant, of a humiliated, oppressed, and afflicted man, absolutely obedient to the will of the Deity, even unto the death of the cross.
12 Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.
The choice is not yet made
If none but good fish came into the net, if none but faithful men and women responded to the call, things would be too sweet and smooth among believers. There would be no trial of the patience which shews itself in the perseverance in duty under bitter circumstances.
However, be that as it may, there is first a preliminary and indiscriminate call. It is something to have been included in that. By the gospel, Peter said, God visited the Gentiles, to take out from amongst them a people for his name.
We have heard that gospel, we have fallen in love with that gospel, with all the hopes and promises it presents to our mind; and, yielding obedience to it, we have become the subjects of the preliminary "taking out."
We have now to accomplish the other point referred to by Peter when he says "Be diligent to make your calling and election sure." This is the time for diligence; it is not a state of things in which we can congratulate ourselves upon being safe. There is nobody safe; that is to say, nobody can say that they are saved until the day of selection come, and they have been selected.
They cannot judge themselves. Some people imagine that when they have believed the gospel and been baptised, they have done all-that they have secured the prize. They have not secured the prize at all; they have but entered the lists for the competition to secure it. The attainment of it is contingent upon faithful stewardship; upon how we act in the position in which the gospel has placed us.
Christ comes forth to look at the company gathered as guests for the wedding, and makes his selection from amongst them upon the principle of faithfulness. So that instead of a person sitting down with folded arms the moment they come to believe the truth, they ought to realise increased incentive to diligence; for only those who are diligent will make their calling and election sure.
Sunday Morning 34 - TC 02/1872
Any circumstance or experience -- no matter how tiresome or humdrum, no matter how disappointing or saddening -- that enables us to humbly and patiently "work out our salvation," and increase our understanding, and develop our character and the mind of Christ within us, are all, by that fact, transformed to joyful ingredients of glorious eternal success: and we MUST view them so.
13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.
Until we realize our own intrinsic valuelessness and learn to submerge ourselves, we are of little value in God's work.
Bro Growcott - Through much tribulation
"Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God that worketh in you, both to will and to do of His good pleasure"
To the natural mind, this may appear to be a contradiction, but actually it is the beautiful expression of a great Divine mystery. Just how this merger of our efforts and God's power is accomplished we cannot know, but the Scriptures teach us that in some strange and glorious way we are privileged to be "workers together with God"-working out our own salvation with fear and trembling, and yet all the while recognizing that the accomplishment of that salvation is wholly God willing and working in us.
What could be more beautiful and inspiring than this triumphant, loving partnership of the pitifully weak and the infinitely strong!
..."We are His workmanship" (Eph. 3:10);
Would the eternal Creator of heaven and earth use half-measures in working His glorious plan?
"The power that worketh in us" (Eph. 3:20);
After three fervent appeals for relief from the constant distress of his "thorn in the flesh," the Lord said to Paul-
"My grace is sufficient for thee, for My strength is made perfect in weakness" (2 Cor. 12:9).
Surely this is the most beautiful and satisfying explanation of tribulation in all Scripture! And how beautifully Paul in turn expresses the proper answer and attitude-
"Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. THEREFORE I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake, for when I am weak, THEN am I strong!"
Continuing our review of the passages that speak of the marvellous mystery of the direct working of God in us-
"The God of peace make you perfect" (Heb. 13:20);
"He that hath wrought us is God. Who hath also given us the earnest of the Spirit" (2 Cor. 5:5);
"The God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing" (Rm. 15:17);
"The God of all grace make you perfect" (1 Pet. 5:10);
"The God of peace sanctify you wholly" (1 Thes. 5:23);
"FILLED WITH ALL THE FULLNESS OF GOD!" (Eph. 3:19).
What can we take from these teachings but that the great, allwise Creator is taking out for His eternal glory a few from the passing multitude of the children of men, and is presently shaping their minds and characters to the heavenly pattern of the beauty of holiness; and that, in His incomprehensible mercy, the call has come to us to give up everything else and surrender ourselves completely to the operation of this Divine workmanship-to accept the incalculable grace and privilege of being "filled with all the fullness of God!"
Let us then try to constantly maintain, as the background of all our thoughts and actions, the broad and vast perspective to which Paul refers (Rom. 8:32) -
"He that spared not His Own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall He not with him also freely give us all things?"
All things are yours-the world, life, death, things present, things to come-all are yours, and ye are Christ's, and Christ is God's!"-1 Corinthians 3:23.
Bro Growcott - Filled with all the Fulness of God
There is God's side of the question. He has made man for His own pleasure, and He derives this pleasure chiefly from their independent and voluntary appreciation of Him. Is He to be cheated out of His pleasure?
Men think of God as too high to be considered as capable of deriving pleasure from human submission; God is certainly too high for us to begin to conceive, but it is not for us to use this fact as a reason for denying what He has revealed. We can go further than that, and say that what He has revealed is inevitable from what we can see Him to be. God is the perfection of mentality; human mentality is but a faint resemblance to His, impressed on clay, as we might say.
Now, we know from our human experience of mentality, that the capacity for pleasure is in the ratio of the development of mentality. Has a man a small and low mind? he has but poor capacity for mental enjoyment. Has a man a capacious and sensitive mentality? His pleasures are keen and ecstatic, and his pains the same. If this be true of mere brain substance on earth, it is not easy to realise that it should be true of spirit substance in heaven.
Does it not enable us to understand why God should be pleased with holiness in man, and pained at the opposite state? He has formed man for His own pleasure, and finds it in man's love and praise and obedience; and He is displeased and pained when the creature He has formed for His praise, turns his back upon God who made him, and thinks only of his own pleasure in other things that God has made, in doing which man can rob God, although such a thing in the abstract looks impossible.
On both heads therefore, the wisdom of God's way in requiring man to seek after Him is supreme. If He did not make His knowledge and service imperative with man, men would become an abortion in creation. The longer we live, the more strongly do we see the reasonableness of all the things which God has commanded in the Scriptures of truth.
The gospel is a summons to know Him, to give heed to Him, to obey Him, to love and honour Him. It is not merely the announcement of good things to come, it is not merely an offer of salvation in the sense of benefaction; it is not merely a promise that all our troubles will end, and that unspeakable good will come. It is all that, for "no good thing will God withhold from those who fear Him," but primarily it is a command to repent and to submit to God, and to conform to His will, to become His servants, to glorify His name, to please Him by intelligent and fervent praise.
Bro Roberts - Exhort 278
15 That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world;
In the present state, the believers, who are constitutionally in the Christ-Ephod, and therefore citizens of the Foursquare Polity which decorates it, are Urim, and addressed as such by Paul in the words, "in a crooked and perverse generation, ye, the sons of the Deity, shine as lights," or Urim, "in the world:" and in Eph. v. 8,
"ye were formerly darkness, but now light in the Lord; walk as children of light."
Being in the Lord, they are the lights and precious stones of his breastplate -- the Urim and Thummim of his Ephod.
They became such by the law and the testimony dwelling in them richly. This gives them their polish, and enables them to "shine as lights."
Shine as lights in the world
The knowledge of the truth only opens the door.
We cannot be saved before that. There is no hope for us at all apart from the Gospel; but the Gospel only gives us the start. It all depends how we walk after that. What ought the assembly of Christ to be but a representation, on a small scale, of what is to be made politically dominant when Christ comes, and when God's will shall be done on earth as it is in heaven?
We are called unto that kingdom, and, therefore, as an assembly of those who are called unto the kingdom, we ought to exemplify those characteristics that will appertain to it in the day of its manifestation.
All the purity of individual thought and action which will prevail then in the world; all rejoicing in the truth, and making our boast in God that will then be the universal law; all that loving of men and serving of God that will prevail, ought to be incipiently visible in our assembly.
We ought to be the kingdom of God in miniature; in fact, all the saints are: there is no doubt about that, though there may be a doubt as to who are the saints. Therefore, let us walk in the light of the word. Do not heed what is said on the right hand or or on the left. Avail yourself of good company, if you can get it, but take care you do not get injured where you expected to be benefited.
Remember that most of those by whom you are surrounded have but recently emerged from the world with all its ignorance, disobedience, stupidity, and carnality, and that you are not to be despondent and lose heart because other people may not exemplify the truth.
If others do not, you try, at least; save yourself from this untoward generation. It is just as untoward as the generation of Peter, and it is only by the means offered by Peter, in the name of Christ, that we have any hope at all.
Bro Roberts - Holiness
Testimony and invitation
No one buys a thing of any value without paying a good price for it. Justification, leading to salvation, is the most precious thing upon earth. Therefore you pay a heavy price for it towards man, though as regards God, it is cheap, "without money and without price." It demands the sacrifice of what is sweet to all men; the friendship of the world. No man can be a friend of the world and the friend of God at the same time. There is only one way in which a man professing the Truth can be a friend of the world, and that is by hiding what he is.
...What does Christ say about hiding the Truth?
"Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid."
This is Christ's cue for us. This is the position for his servants to take. There must be no mistaking you-what you are, where your affections are, what you are living for.
..."Whosoever shall confess me before men, him will I confess before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven."
16 Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain.
THE RIGHT TO PREACH
The "right to preach or lecture" is a universal right. It is the simple right to speak your mind. It is a right exercised by every human being upon earth in some shape or other. It is a right that becomes a duty under the commands,
"Let him that heareth say, come" (Rev. xxii. 17). "Let your light shine before men" (Matt. v. 14-16). "Hold forth the word of life" (Phill. ii. 16). "Contend earnestly for the faith" (Jude, verse 3).
What a confused state a man's mind must be in who wants "authority" before he feels at liberty to tell his neighbour the "glad tidings of great joy" that sounded out from Judea to the ends of the earth 1,800 years ago.
Yet if he really want it, he has it in God's own words:
"He that hath my word, let him speak it faithfully."
This is commission from God himself, which only requires that a man have the word in his head and heart. As a rule where this is the case, there is no waiting for "authority." Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.
21 For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ's.
Would he have to say the same of us? Do we leave the labour to others, while we pursue our own comfort and material advantage? Let each of us ask himself this honestly and frankly -- and DEMAND an answer.
Or would he find us walking in true wisdom, realizing the emptiness and briefness of present possessions and interests, and dedicated to God's work, laying hold of ETERNAL treasure, that fadeth not away?
Bro Growcott - Grace, Mercy and Peace from God.