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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.
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.
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."
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.
Answers to Correspondents
THE RIGHT TO PREACH
E. N.-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.