1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
I beseech you
- This introduction to his third section, is the connecting link with the former two. Because of what he has expounded previously, Paul now shows the absolute importance of applying those principles in individual experience.
The word "beseech" is from the Greek parakaleo; to call near, to call to one's
side, from para: alongside, and kaleo: a call; in the sense of identifying with the
other; to be a companion and supporter; hence to be an advocate and adviser. The
word is best rendered here as "'entreat" in view of the fact that his exhortation is in
the form of a moving appeal, based upon his revelation that God will exercise unmerited goodness and mercy in providing forgiveness for the sins of mankind (cp. Exl. 32:26; 34:6).
Thus, Paul was not merely instructing, but urging the brethren to identify themselves with him, and support him in his upholding of the Truth (cp. Exod. 32:26).
The word is used elsewhere as "exhort" (2Cor. 9:5; Rom. 12:8), "desired" (ICor. 16:12) and occurs four times in this epistle: 1.2:1, 8 ("exhorteth"); 15:30; 17:17. It literally means "to call to one's side" with the idea of assisting or comforting (see its use in 2Cor. 1:4-6).
Rom. 12:1 is an important appeal. In view of the wonderful doctrines of chs. 1- 8, and of God's dispensational dealings with Jews and Gentiles in chs. 9-11, disciples must reveal a practical application of the gospel to men. The opening phrase in this verse is not an unusual form of speech for the apostle (cp. Eph. 4:1; ITim. 2:1; 1Cor. 4:16).
Here he wishes to move the Roman believers to action and endurance. The parakletos (the Comforter: Jn. 14:16, 26; 16:7-13) was sent to teach the disciples "all things". Now Paul, as a spirit- endowed apostle (Acts 9:17) was extending the work of the Spirit-Comforter,as he directed his readers to consider their responsibilities.
The DIAGLOTT has: "I intreat you therefore".
Paul appeals for their attention, urging the disciples to deeply consider what is to follow.
The Christadelphian Expositor
And by Jesus-
"He that loseth his life for my sake shall find it" (Matt. 10:39).
How would we define sacrifice? We would be inclined to say that it is the unpleasant process of having to give up something that we would like to keep. But this is a petty, self-centered definition. Sacrifice is a very satisfying process if it is properly comprehended. The dictionary defines sacrifice as-
"The destruction or surrender of anything for the sake of something else; giving up of some desirable thing IN BEHALF OF A HIGHER OBJECT."
The whole secret is in the purpose. Of Jesus we are told,
"For the joy that was set before him, he endured the cross and despised the shame" (Heb. 12:2).
That was sacrifice, giving up of some desirable thing in behalf of a higher object, even the
"bringing of many sons to glory."
Paul expresses the basic principle of sacrifice when he says-
"Yet show I unto you a MORE EXCELLENT WAY" (1 Cor. 12:31).
Life inevitably consists of a continuous series of sacrifices - a long process of choices. Some truly endeavor to train themselves in sacrificing the lower for the higher, sincerely seeking the better way. These, who appear to sacrifice much, actually sacrifice least. Some sacrifice the better way to the worse - the future to the present. These are the great majority. Some, reluctant to sacrifice anything, attempt to hold both. Theirs is the most pitiful case - they in the end, find they have sacrificed most. Jesus says-
"Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold ALL THAT HE HAD, and bought it" (Matt. 13:45-46).
Rather an extreme action, selling ALL that he had. Almost foolhardy, we would think. Only one thing would justify it - the incomparable value of the pearl. What does this mean, translated into our own lives? It means the gradual rounding up and sacrificing of all the non-essential items in our life, steadily working upward, making sure that in each case we are consciously taking advantage of a corresponding spiritual compensation in return.
"Giving up a desirable thing for the sake of something better."
We cannot afford to leave little pockets of vacuum. That is fatal. Jesus taught us this when he spoke of the evil spirit which - though once cast out - came back to find his house still empty, whereupon he brought seven more with him more evil than himself, and the last state of that man was worse than the first.
Each lesser item sacrificed must be consciously replaced by a spiritual satisfaction which had been previously hindered by the thing cast out. In this way we leave no opportunity for the evil spirit to return. In this way, too, we avoid the foolishness of self-pity, and the wickedness of self-glorification. We are the gainers every step of the way. We can give nothing to God. We just choose the better way for ourselves as revealed by His beneficial light. The only possible reaction in the case is gratitude that we have been shown the better way to our own greatest well-being.
Let us view sacrifice in its true and attractive light-a continually-repeated process of giving up one thing for the sake of a better one - a gradual advancement toward the most glorious of all blessings and most intense of all pleasures, a full living sacrifice to the perfect will of God.
When a man, according to the Law, took the best of his possessions and laid it on God's altar, what did it signify? It was an intelligent, worshipful recognition that what God had yet to give was vastly greater and more glorious than that He had already given. That everything a man had, including his own life, he would gladly and eagerly lay upon the altar of his faith in God's plans for his future eternal blessing.
Sacrifice is the joyful recognition that the future is full of promise and the best is yet to come. Sacrifice frees a man from the petty limitation of the poor little present, and relates him to the boundless scope of eternity.
Bro Growcott - The Purpose of the Law
Doctrine and Duty
To this point in his exposition, Paul has emphasized the absolute necessity for correct doctrinal understanding. Upon this basis he has demonstrated the way in which sound doctrinal understanding can result in the establishment of a covenant relationship between Yahweh and mankind, whether Jew or Gentile.
He now proceeds to deal with practical issues of manifesting the Truth as a way of life in daily living. There is clear connection between these three stages of spiritual development. It is necessary for believers to understand that to please God it is not sufficient merely to know the Truth. Doctrinal purity is not simply a question of what one knows, but also of what one thinks and does.
Theoretical knowledge in itself does not create a saint. Every fundamental doctrine in scripture must find its outworking in a way of life. For example, it is a fact that "there is one God" - but what does this mean in a practical sense? It means that every believer, in proclaiming the unity and oneness of Deity, must take great care to see that there is room in their life only for one God, and that no other object or objective must be permitted to occupy an equal or superior place in their life to that which they must ascribe exclusively to Yahweh.
The knowledge that man is mortal is of little value, academically, unless the believer firmly understands that he will die without hope unless he perceives his need for forgiveness of his sins and a change of nature, and lives a way of life in accord with these ideals.
The doctrine that Christ will return to the earth will not be of value to a believer unless he recognises that this hope must not only shine brightly in his thoughts daily, but his endeavors and sacrifices must be designed to prepare himself for that event.
Similar lessons may be drawn from every fundamental doctrine taught in scripture. Doctrine and Duty. The two are inseparable. It is therefore logical and scriptural that, at this stage in his exposition, Paul should be moved to recognise the need for all believers to be united in committing themselves to a way of life in conformity with their doctrinal understanding of the Truth, and their willing acceptance thereof.
Precept and Practice. These two elements will actively demonstrate that the Truth is known and understood, and morally manifested with a zeal and diligence that will be pleasing to the Father.
Bro John Ullman
— the language Paul has used is from the beautiful law of Moses, and we can learn much from that law of what God requires of us. Israel never did learn the lessons and teachings of their law. They just went through the motions, and how dreadfully, tragically easy it is today to do that.
The sacrifices of the law had to be, first, the very best. They had to be without blemish. They had to be what God designated as a clean animal, of certain required characteristics. The principal one was that they must chew the cud. They must chew the cud. They must represent those that feed deeply upon the Word, and then ruminate and meditate continually upon it.
The sacrifices must be offered with oil, that is, with enlightenment, understandingly; and with wine — joy and gladness — not a burden; and with salt, cured with sobriety, and speech that is always sound and grave. The life's blood had to be totally poured out unto God upon and under the Christ altar.
It was all God's, for His purpose exclusively, and that vital fact had to be clearly recognized. And the fat was all God's. The fat stood for that which was precious and best — the richness. No Israelite could ever eat fat upon the pain of death. That is self-indulgence, appropriating to our own use and pleasure that which is God's alone.
Bro Growcott - BYT 4. 33
2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
Shall we be different, just for the sake of being different? No. We must be different for the sake of being separate, and holy, and spiritual. The world is wholly of the flesh. If we are truly God's holy people, we should be anxious not to conform to the world—to its fashion, its customs, its festivals, its general activity.
Conformity is an unthinking herd instinct. It betrays a small mind, a lack of maturity and intelligence, a lack of the ability to strike an independent course, and to act according to schooled wisdom, instead of mindless custom and copying.
Bro Growcott - BYT 4.33
Of those commandments that are recognised though not acted on, it will not be in place here to speak. That God should be loved and served; that men should be true, just and kind; that our neighbour's interests should have as high a consideration at our hands as our own, no man considering himself a member of Christendom would deny, however little able he might be to give practical effect to these commandments in his life. These commandments are such as are beautiful in themselves, and commend themselves to the moral instincts of all men (not degraded to the very level of the brute) as the dictates of the highest wisdom.
It is of the commandments whose excellence is not so self evident that there is need to speak; commandments whose aim is not to make the present life agreeable, but to subject obedient believers to a discipline that will subdue and mould them to the divine pattern in preparation for the perfectly agreeable state of existence to be established by Christ upon the earth in the day of His coming.
Be not conformed to this world. There is not much danger of mistaking the meaning of this. The world is the people, as distinguished from the earth which they inhabit. Peter puts this beyond doubt in calling it "the world OF THE UNGODLY" (2 Peter ii, 5). Jesus also makes it plain in speaking of the world as a lover and a hater, "If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own" (John xv, 18).
This could only apply to the people. The command is to be not conformed to the world of people upon the earth as it now is. Jesus plainly laid it down that he did not belong to such a world, and commanded his disciples to accept a similar position in relation to it. "The world to come" is the world of their citizenship. Of their position in the present world, Jesus said in prayer, "They are not of the world even as I am not of the world" (John xvii, 16).
By John he commanded them, "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life; is not of the Father, but of the world" (1 John ii, 15). By Peter, he indicates their position in the world as that of "strangers and pilgrims" (1 Peter ii, 11), and their life in it as a "time of sojourning" (i, 17), to be passed in holiness and fear (verses 14 and 17).
The world that hated Jesus was the Jewish world. Consequently, we are saved from the mistake of supposing that by the world is meant the extremely vile and immoral of mankind. The Jews were far from being such: they were a very religious and ostentatiously professing and ceremonially punctilious people, among whom the standard of respectability was high in a religious sense. All their conversations with Christ shew this.
That which led to the complete separation indicated in Christ's words and precepts, is indicated by Jesus himself, in his prayer to the Father, so wonderfully recorded in John xvi: "O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee" (verse 25). It is the world's relation to God that cuts off the friends of God from the world (if the friends of God are faithful). The world neither loves, nor knows, nor considers God.
They care for Him in no sense. His expressed will - His declared purpose - His intrinsically sovereign claims, are either expressly rejected or treated with entire indifference. His great and dreadful and eternal reality is ignored. Daniel's indictment against Belshazzar is chargeable against them all. "The God in whose hand thy breath is, and whose are all thy ways, hast thou not glorified" (Dan. v, 23).
Christendom Astray - Lecture 18
At first when we become acquainted with the truth, the power of a new and enthusiastic ideal may keep us separate from the spirit and principles of the world; but as time goes on and the friction of life becomes more trying, and the resources of perishing human nature fail, that ideal is apt to lose power unless nourished and cherished by that daily renewal of our acquaintance with the divine ways and thoughts which God has provided for us in the oracles of His truth.
Sunday Morning 59
Renewing of your mind
This is the only true wisdom, and yet how far the world is from it! God, if He exists for them at all, is some vague, far-off conception.
But God must be an ever-present reality with us. There must be a continual consciousness of God in all our thoughts. An effort to be in harmony with God in all our thoughts. To develop this, it helps to keep reading the Psalms of David, which reflect the mind of Christ.
God is the very source and center and purpose of life. We do not begin to live at all, in any true sense, or to know the meaning of life, until we have established God as its center. Until we have established God in our lives we are merely animals, living just by the natural motions and feelings of the flesh, like dogs. Most people in the world never rise above this natural, animal condition. They never really live at all.
But God in His love calls us to rise up to a much higher and more beautiful life-a life with depth and meaning and purpose and future.
Bro Growcott - BYT 4.29
This word transformed is, in English, "metamorphosed''. The term applies to such changes in nature as that from a grub to a butterfly. It is used in only two other places. One is that very beautiful and significant verse in 2 Corinthians 3:18—
"We all with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror, the glory of the Lord, are changed (Now are we? Are we being changed — "metamorphosed") into the same image, (that necessary image of Christ — how is it coming along?) from glory to glory, even as by the spirit of the Lord."
That is what Paul is talking about. If we are truly in this way of life, this is what is happening to us, obviously and apparently. We are steadily being changed, by study and meditation and prayer from one degree of glory to another, ever more and more like Christ.
The other instance of the use of this word is the transfiguration. Christ was transfigured (metamorphosed) before them. They saw him manifested in the glory of immortal divinity, even as he now is eternally.
"By the renewing of your mind. . ."
Renewing is the proper translation, but we may get the wrong impression from it. For renewing
usually means restoring to an original condition. But here it means to create an entirely new condition—something in us that has never before existed. To create a new man of the spirit—new interests, new motives, a complete new character.
"That ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God."
This is what we have to prove or manifest to the world — the good, the acceptable, and perfect will of God. The word "prove" means to test by experience, to discern by doing. We can only learn the will of God by doing it. No one can merely learn it theoretically. It is only those who obey, that understand it.
Bro Growcott - BYT 4. 33
3 For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.
Now most people do not think at all — in any true sense. Thinking is about the hardest work that there is, that is, deliberate, controlled thinking along a line contrary to the natural, animal bent of the mind and interest. Only intense love and zeal can keep us at it, and then it becomes joy.
...What is the measure of faith that God has dealt to every man — and, of course, woman — sisters? It is clear from what he says in verses 4-8 that he is speaking of the capabilities that God gives each and the work he assigns to each one in the body — each one. How do we know what work He has assigned to us?
If we diligently prepare and develop ourselves in the word and in the mind of Christ we shall find that the work will come in abundance. There will be no problem about that. There is always a vast mountain of work to be done for the Truth, for those who have eyes to see and hearts to desire—desire to serve.
Bro Growcott - BYT 4. 33
4 For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office:
The perfect, complete, glorious body of Christ will not be seen till put together in all its parts at his coming, when he will present it to himself
"a glorious ecclesia, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing."
It is now but being developed. The merest fragment exists in our day. To look on that fragment as the body of Christ would be a mistake calculated to inspire disgust and destroy heart in the whole matter. It is as when a manufacturer is getting up a splendid article to send to an international exhibition. It is got up in pieces; and an unskilled eye, seeing one of those pieces in the grimy workshop, unfinished and among dirt and litter, would form a very unfavourable idea of it.
If he were ignorant of the plan and the pieces, he would be disgusted to be told that that unsightly piece of metal was to dazzle the eyes of courtiers at the world's fair. At present we are in the polishing shop; and we are but a very minute part of the mechanism -- as it were a bolt or pin.
The eye of intelligence looks at the situation and is not disappointed because things are at present so unartistic, so unlovely, so un-Christlike, in many ways.
The world looks not with the eye of intelligence, but looks at Christ's work in the workshop stage and jeers. Well, we can afford to bear this.
We know that a glorious work is being done, and that all who profess the truth are not Christlike; that there is, nevertheless, being developed by the truth a people, here and there, who will form constituents of that great body Christ, in which there will be all symmetry and sympathy.
We look forward, with the eye of faith, to the complete body -- the principal members of which are now in the dust. Meanwhile, as regard the duties of our present position, we accept the professed friends of Christ, as the body of Christ in our day, towards which we are to be faithful and kind -- "good unto all men," but specially those who are of the household of faith.
We know not who are Christ's. We must leave that to the judge of all the earth, who will do right. We must, in the dullness and bitterness of the time, do our duty, even unto kindness to the unthankful and the evil, in the full prospect of that day when, if we thus sow to the Spirit, we shall reap life and everlasting joy.
Bro Roberts -
5 So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.
We are obviously not a part of the Body of Christ if our life is not devoted to the service and welfare of the Body of Christ. This is the lesson of the scriptural type of the human body.
Every true member of the Body (natural and spiritual) has a use and a purpose. Our ability and physical condition may at times make it quite small: but as long as we have life and consciousness, we must give our most and our best in loving service. This is the very essence of being allowed the infinite privilege of being part of the Christ-Body. It is only for the devoted. We are not part of the Body of Christ if our heart and mind and love are not centered in the body.
"THE ISRAEL OF THE DEITY,"
consisting of Jews and Greeks in other lands, or sections of the habitable, who were Jews in Christ, was still an organized and flourishing community, styled also by Paul, "the Ecclesia, his Body," of which Jesus Christ is the Head; and the "One Body."
This new community figures in symbolic writing, as "The Seven Ecclesias which are in Asia;" these seven being representative of all Israelites, "circumcised with the circumcision made without hands," in all the habitable. This Israel was rooted in Jacob's twelve sons, as the patriarchs of the tribes. "First that which is natural," says Paul, "and then that which is spiritual."
This is the order of the Deity's developments in relation to body, world, and nation. Hence, the spiritual body is developed out of the natural; the spiritual world out of the natural; and the spiritual Israelitish nation out of the natural, we Gentiles coming in by adoption through the King of Israel, who himself was first natural before he became spirit. The principle is fundamental, and perceived in the generation of all things -- first, the naked grain, or body; then that which shall be fruit-bearing in the field.
Jacob was the wall of Israel, and his sons his twelve gates, in the beginnings of things. Jesus and the Apostles emerged from Jacob through these gates; being descended from Jacob in their line. But said the Spirit in Jesus, "before Abraham was I am." He was "the Root" of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and David; and when He came to be manifested in Jesus, in this combination of flesh and spirit, he was "the Offspring" of those patriarchs.
While, therefore Jacob was a wall enclosing the whole future nation in his loins, "the Root and Offspring of David," and therefore of Jacob (Apoc. v. 5; xxii. 16), is the Jasper Wall, great and high, "in whom" is contained all "the Israel of the Deity."
At the natural gates of the twelve tribes, the apostles stood as so many Angels or messengers (xxi. 12). They went forth inviting Jews and Gentiles to "enter in through the gates into the city," enclosed within the Jasper Wall (xxii. 14) -- to enter into Christ through adoption into the commonwealth of Israel; that in so entering, they might, as precious stones, garnish the twelve foundations which represent the twelve apostles of the Lamb.
6 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith;
We must not confound this "measure of faith" with the faith without which it is impossible to please God (Heb. 11:6) a faith which is not a spiritual gift, but the belief of what God has declared concerning himself and His purposes.
The Christadelphian, April 1870
12 Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer;
In all our troubles and problems and disappointments, let us never for a moment forget our blessings -- and our obligation of constant thanksgiving for them. This is what troubles are for: to drive us ever more deeply into the comfort of our blessings, and to make us all the more diligent to lay secure hold upon them by righteousness and loving service to God.
Our blessings are always infinitely greater than our troubles ever could be. If we cannot see this, we are blind indeed. We have seen people calling themselves Christadelphians reproaching God for their "undeserved" troubles. It is very easy and very natural to the flesh. But what folly! What tragedy! We are not ready for the Kingdom, or God would terminate our probation, and give us sweet sleep.
We have yet labours to accomplish, and lessons to learn. Let us glory in and profit by the tribulations that are of the loving hand of God to PREPARE us frail, erring mortals for eternal joy.
Bro Growcott - Search Me O God
Interest in the well-being of others
is a marked feature in the character of true saints. It is reasonable that it should be so. They are "one body," with "one hope," and striving for one thing-the growth of the truth. How admirably does this regard for others-this God-like attribute-show itself in the words and actions of the apostles.
Let us take two instances: Paul to the Philippians-
"God is my record, how greatly I long after you all;"
John to Gaius-
"I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth."
Let us measure ourselves by these exemplary men. Do our sympathies and considerations extend throughout the length and breadth of the brotherhood? They should. We are exhorted
"to rejoice with those that rejoice, and to weep with those that weep."
Such a fellow-feeling as this is no mere outcome of the natural man; it is a love that has to be enkindled by continuous striving and effort. It has to be kept alive by constantly thinking about and interesting ourselves in the affairs of the brethren everywhere. The more perfect we are in this matter the more ready shall we be with the services of our money, our tongue, or our pen, as occasion may require.
The more frequent and earnest, too, will our prayers be for the brethren generally-that their needs may be supplied, that they may be upheld in their steadfastness, and emboldened to teach and proclaim the truth.
Bro AT Jannaway
The Christadelphian, 1888
16 Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits.
Any man with a practical knowledge of human nature, unobscured by the false sentiments generated by false philosophy, will be prepared heartily to endorse the declaration of the New Testament, that in the flesh dwelleth no good thing; and to admire the foundation principle of the Gospel system -- the glory of the Creator, and the humiliation of poor man.
Suffice it on the present occasion to realize that at the approaching reappearance of Christ, no man need go before him with the expectation of his approbation who is not supremely characterized by this first principle of the house of God -- personal smallness in his own esteem, and a
"minding not high things, but condescending to men of low estate" (Rom. 12:16).
It need not be said how totally different is the state of things prevailing in society around us. Our danger is great from this circumstance. We are apt to catch the spirit of the world in all the haughtiness and mightiness of carriage that is to be seen everywhere, and to be ashamed of the soberness and smallness and rationality that belong to the profession of the truth.
Let us beware. The truth calls us to
"live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world."
Any other life will make our destruction certain, when we come to stand before that judge, who is no respecter of persons.
Bro Roberts - Nearer the crisis