1 Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you, to me indeed is not grievous, but for you it is safe.
2 Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision.
'...the dogs, or "blind and ignorant watchmen...'
When a great dog bays the moon, all the little village curs must take a turn. This is often annoying to the weary traveller, who would rather sleep than count the hours of the steeple clock. But experience teaches the expediency of letting the dogs bark until they perceive that the great dog sees no more in the moon to bay. It is no use giving chase to them with wrath. The exertion would be too fatiguing, and bootless withal; for bark they will until there is no more bark in them.
Paul appears to have been a good deal annoyed by dogs; therefore he cautions all who follow his track to "beware of dogs." I apprehend it was not the barking dogs he cared so much for, as about those sneaking, grinning, snarling curs, which Isaiah describes as "dumb dogs that cannot bark; sleeping, lying down, loving to slumber; greedy dogs that can never have enough," and when they come upon you they would as soon "bite and devour" you, as seize upon a bone.
"Give not things holy unto dogs," saith Jesus; for "it is not fit to take the children's meat and to throw it unto dogs." There are no dogs in the Holy City. This is constituted of Christ's sheep; and all "the dogs are without."
Herald of the Kingdom and Age to Come, Oct 1854
8 Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,
It is profitable to ask, What was the nature of this extraordinary devotion on the part of Paul to Christ! Was it merely the result of an ardent temperament?
Was it mere peculiarity of Paul's natural man? We should err greatly, and weaken much the power of his example, if we were to answer these questions in the affirmative. There can be no doubt that Paul was a man of a warm nature-the fitting soil for the good seed of the kingdom-but even a man of a warm nature cannot be warm without something to be warm about.
Enthusiasm, however strongly it may exist in a man's breast, requires something to stir it. It is in the nature of the facts before Paul's mind that we are to find the true explanation of the zeal that led him to abjure the ordinary objects of human life, and to throw himself entirely into a matter that appeared bootless and without reason to the ordinary run of men.
The importance of recognising this lies in the fact that what stirred Paul's enthusiasm will stir ours. We only require to believe the same things to experience the same results.
...He had a risen Christ before his mind; he recognised Christ's present existence and controlling presence in heaven; he looked forward to the certainty of standing before his judgment seat at his coming, and of receiving at his hands the unspeakable gift of immortality, and a place in the endless kingdom of God, if his present ways were acceptable to Christ.
He had constantly before his face the Eternal Creator of heaven and earth, who, in the unity of universal presence, is near to every one of us, from whom no creature is hid, to whose eyes all things are naked and open. With this mental picture of facts before his mind, it was impossible that he should be otherwise than earnest and enthusiastic. Any man with similar assured convictions must feel the stirring of a similar ardour of purpose.
...If we are to stand with Paul in the day of approbation, we must stand with him now in this particular-that we must be in earnest in our admiration and love, and service and obedience of Christ.
10 That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;
The phrase, " the life of Jesus," is expressive of his moral example, or conduct, and the life-power of his resurrection. Paul's teaching requires that both these be manifested in our mortal
flesh. The Deity has predestined that all saints who would attain to eternal life, be "conformed to the image of His Son " ; both to his moral and material image. But the moral conformity must precede the corporeal.
The things of the flesh are pleasant, and the things of the Spirit are in many points burdensome at present; but what wise man would falter in choosing the one before the other? Moses esteemed the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt, and chose rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season.
In this respect he is the prototype of all men of true wisdom. The wisdom of the practical men of the present age is a very shallow affair. Its results are bounded by present things which pass away-the inherent valuelessness of which even the fool perceives on the day of death.
The things of the spirit and the things of the flesh are, to one another, as the incorruptible gem to the perishing toys of childhood, or the shining of the midday sun to the flicker of an expiring lamp in a vault.
... the case of a man of God, who revives after a slumber of centuries. The things he had in his life he used as crutches of the moment merely. They were not the end of his being.
God was the strength of his heart and his portion for ever.
...The purpose of God, as declared in the promises, was his hope and his confidence, and he awakes, after 500 years, to find them all unchanged and imperishable.
The God whom he trusted and worshipped still reigns eternal in the heavens, the possessor of heaven and earth, which He upholdeth by His power. Christ, the ideal of his enthusiastic admiration, still lives, the same yesterday, today and for ever. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and all the prophets and saints of every age and nation, stand by him or are still the coming vision of supernal friendship and delight.
The purpose of God to banish away ill and to wipe the tear from every eye, and fill the earth with the effulgence of His love and glory, are still before him unaltered, as the glorious vision which filled his heart and cheered his sorrows in the brief day of his mortal probation.
...And what craven and unworthy aspirants to association with them shall we be, if with all the comforts of home life, and all the liberty and security which we enjoy under the shadow of modern freedom, we shall begrudge the trifling voluntary sacrifices which the service of Christ demands at our hands, or be ashamed of the reproach which identification with it entails.
11 If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.
"So", said he, "whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. For we must all appear before the Judgment Seat of Christ, so that each one may receive good or evil, according to what he has done in the body" (2 Cor. 5: 9-10, R.S.V.).
With such a keen awareness of his accountability at the coming of Christ, Paul could not be other than sincere in what he did. "All our persuading of men, then", said he, "is with this solemn fear of God in our minds. What we are is utterly plain to God - and I hope to your consciences as well" (J. B. Phillips). Did this sound immodest? Just in case it did, he forestalled criticism with an immediate disclaimer - "No, we are not recommending ourselves to you again, but we can give you grounds for legitimate pride in us - if that is what you need to meet those who are so proud of the outward rather than the inward qualification" (J. B. Phillips).
There was certainly an echo here of the previous contrast he had drawn between the "vessel" and the "treasure". It is possible also that there was a reference to circumcision, a physical operation so vital to the Judaizers. At all events, he would appear to have taken an unkind gibe at his expense into account in what he next said: "If we have been 'mad' it was for God's glory; if we are perfectly sane it is for your benefit" (J. B. Phillips).
This led Paul on naturally to explain the reason for this element of altruism in his own life. It was due entirely to Christ's altruism on his, Paul's, behalf. As he put it, "the very spring of our actions is the love of Christ" (J. B. Phillips).
The compassion shown to him was like an irresistible force urging him on, claiming his full and unqualified allegiance; he declared himself "convinced that as one has died for all, then all have died, and that he died for all in order to have the living live no longer for themselves but for him who died and rose for them" (Moffatt).
He was charged with mere self-seeking. But, he protested, a realization of this kind utterly precludes self-seeking: selfishness cannot survive in such an atmosphere. To know oneself to have been involved in the sacrificial death of Christ, on account of its representational character, is to see oneself committed to a sacrificial life, to a re-enactment in oneself of the Cross.
Letters to Corinth Ch 7.
13 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,
Forgetting the things that are behind
... is an excellent maxim in many things. People burden themselves with old letters and old memories that are dead-to no profit and worse ; such things obstruct the present. We need all our energy for the earnest purpose of every day.
There is wisdom in the poet's advice to " Let the dead past bury its dead." Make short shrift of the trivial mementoes. Some people live in the past. Their life is a dream. They seem to carry around a collection of stuffed favourites - mangy, dusty, and melancholy.
We want the apparatus of real life. Clear out the lumber ; turn your face to the rising sun ; " press forward ! "
My days and my ways Ch 10.
14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
THE way of folly is a swiftly downward path, in things great or small-whether we drift into a wasted hour or a wasted lifetime. That is why God in love wisely requires totality of effort and devotion. It is the only wise way. It is the only practical way. It is the only possible way.
Be alert. Keep checking yourself for the beginning of folly, and drifting, and aimless time-wasting. Guard against the first small downward, backward step. That is the most important and dangerous one. All flows so easily from that.
Totality is the only practicality. Nothing else has the power of worthwhileness and incentive. There is no sustaining, uplifting, transforming power in part-time, part-heart service, even though it is ALMOST full time. A chain has not one ounce of lifting power if there is a gap of only one link. One missing connecting link, and immediately ALL the strength and continuity is lost.
So with our lives. The chain of strength to lift us up must be continuous and unbroken, and we must jealously preserve and protect every continuous unbroken link that connects us with the power of God. It is our lifeline. One lost link is death.
Bro Growcott - Search Me O God
18 (For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ:
19 Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.)
The carnal mind, or serpent in the flesh, is the subject of a twofold manifestation, namely, individually and collectively. An individual manifestation is more or less observable in persons who "mind the things of the flesh," or "earthly things" (Rom. 8:5; Phil. 3:18-19; Col. 3:2; 1 John 2:15). To do this is to be "after the flesh," and "in the flesh;" of whom, it is testified, "they cannot please God."
By a figure, sin is put for the serpent, the effect for the cause; seeing that he was the suggester of unbelief and disobedience to man, by whom it entered into the world. Hence, the idea of the serpent in the flesh is expressed by "sin in the flesh;" which was "condemned in the flesh" when Jesus was crucified for, or, on account of sin, "in the likeness of sinful flesh."
In the animal man there dwelleth no good thing. The apostle affirms this of himself,considered as an unenlightened son of the flesh. "In me, that is, in my flesh," says he, "dwelleth no good thing." Hence, whatever good was in him, did not originate from the thinking of the flesh excited by the propensities, and traditions of Gamaliel, but from "the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus; " that is, from the influence of "the testimony of God," concerning "the things of the kingdom, and name of Jesus Christ," upon "the fleshly tablet of his heart," most assuredly believed.
Elpis Israel 1.3.
Nominal Friends of the Truth
Take first the individual who simply gives in his adhesion to the truth in its doctrinal form: he has come to the conclusion that the popular doctrines are fables, and the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, are the truth; but it is with him simply a matter of intellectual recognition.
It is only theory with him. His practical estimate of things has not been altered by his new convictions. The things involved in the truth have not engaged his love. His interest still runs in a worldly channel. He is taken up with the things that belong to the present. His affections are set on things on the earth, and not on things above. Conversation on the truth is impossible with him. His replies on religious matters are monosyllabic. He assents to a remark made, but he never supplies fresh material; his mind is not running on the matter.
Only turn, however, upon another subject, begin to ask him about his business, and instantly he will become voluble, his tongue will be loosed; he will be able, with multiplicity of words and emphasis of expression, almost rhetorical, to describe the various matters pertaining to his particular occupation.
Or, suppose he is a domestic man, he will be able to give almost an inventory of the furniture and effects, and a treatise on the best articles of diet and the way to cook them, the terms upon which the house is leased, and all the minutæ of details going to make up the mere substratum of existence.
The Christadelphian, May 1868
20 For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ:
21 Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.
Having shown "how," or upon what principles, the righteous dead are raised, the apostle gives us to understand, that their "glory" will consist in brightness; for He cites the splendour of the celestial bodies as illustrative of theirs. This reminds us of the testimony in Daniel, that "they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament, and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever" (Dan. 12:3).
This is repeated by the Lord Jesus, who says, "then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their father" (Matt. 13:43); which assurance Paul also revives in his letter to the saints at Philippi, saying, "our commonwealth has a beginning (Dan. 2:44: Luke 19:12-15) in the heavens out of which also we wait for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: who will transfigure the body of our humiliation, that it may become of like form with the body of His glory, by the power of that which enables Him even to subdue all things to Himself" (Phil. 3:20,21).
When we die we are buried, or "sown," like so many seeds in the earth. We are sown, says the apostle, "in corruption," "in dishonour," "in weakness," and with an animal nature; but, when we are raised to inherit the kingdom, we become incorruptible, glorious, powerful, and possessed of a Spiritual nature, such as Jesus and the Elohim rejoice in.
Now, a Spiritual body is as material, or substantial and tangible, a body as that which we now possess. It is a body purified from "the law of sin and death." Hence it is termed "holy," and "spiritual," because it is born of the Spirit from the dust, is incorruptible, and sustained by the ruach, or spirit, independently of the neshemeh, or "atmospheric air."
"That which is born of the flesh," in the ordinary way, "is flesh," or an animal body: and that which is born of the Spirit, "by a resurrection to life, "is spirit," or a Spiritual body (John 3:6). Hence, in speaking of Jesus, Paul says, "born of David's seed according to the flesh; and constituted the Son of God in power, by the spirit of holiness, through a resurrection from the dead" (Rom. 1:3,4). Thus, He was born of the spirit, and therefore became "a Spirit;" and, because highly exalted, and possessing a name which is above every name (Phil. 2:9-11), He is styled "the Lord the Spirit."
That the Spiritual body is independent of atmospheric air for its support, is clear from the ascension of the Lord Jesus. An animal body can only exist in water, or in atmospheric air, and at a comparatively low altitude above the surface of the earth. Now, the air does not extend beyond forty-five miles; consequently beyond that limit, if they could even attain to it, creatures supported by breath in the nostrils, could no more live than fish in the air. Beyond our atmosphere is the ether; through which they only can pass, who, like the Lord Jesus and the angels, possess a nature adapted to it. This is the case with the Spiritual nature.
Elpis Israel 1.2.