That Servant – In Memoriam

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It was October – cold and rainy

   When I got to Allegheny …

 

Ascending the lonely hill

   I tried to ignore the chill

 

A canopy of autumn haze

   Enveloped the yard of graves

 

Hundreds of markers in stone

   Studded the manicured dome …

 

Humanity lying in tombs –

   Resurrection’s waiting rooms.

 

Our Pastor was laid to rest

   On a day like this, I guessed …

 

A granite pyramid doth stand

   To honor that righteous man.

 

Daniel’s closed book he opened,

   Solving mysteries therein …

 

To unlock Bible prophesies,

    God blest His use of pen.

 

That saint is now forgotten,

   Though of renown back then …

 

What would my world be like today

   If he had never been?

 

No writer with an inkhorn,

   Unheralded second advent …

 

No harvest sickle to wield,

   Wheat and tares still together …

 

No call to God’s people –

   Out of Babylon to come …

 

No Plan of the Ages Divine,

   No light from Present Truth to shine.

 

In gross darkness I’d be groping.

   For parousia I’d be hoping …

 

Not knowing the Kingdom is here,

   My heart could be failing from fear.

 

Thankful I am to our Lord

   Who wisely chose “that servant” …

 

He who wrote down the “vision” —

  Made it plan for us to see

 

Whose timely “meat in due season” —

   A spiritual smorgasbord …

 

Fed a New Creation

One hundred forty years and more

 

Blest am I to be seated

   At that banquet table now …

 

The same precious Truths I feed on

   Nourished those who’ve gone before …

 

The meat I eat is a foretaste …

   Of the marriage feast of love …

 

For the glorious Bride and Bridegroom

   In the heavens up above.

 

By Barbara Wilford

Feeding on the Words of God

“Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” – Matt. 4:4.

WE READ that these words were a part of our Lord’s answer to Satan when the Adversary exhorted Him to command the stones to be turned into bread, in order to satisfy His hunger, after fasting forty days in the wilderness. The Lord knew, however, that it would be unlawful for Him thus to use the superhuman power which came to Him as a result of His consecration to the Father’s service. That power was not to be used for His flesh. Hence our Lord refused to use His superhuman powers for the gratification of the flesh, even though He hungered. Then Satan suggested, How do you expect to live if you do not exercise your power to live? Our Lord’s answer, as we see, was that man shall not live by bread, merely, but by every word, every promise that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.

Our hope of eternal life, therefore, rests upon that obedience to God which would entitle us to eternal life, according to His arrangement. If our Lord had gratified the flesh He might have satisfied His hunger, but He would have violated His covenant of obedience to God. Whoever would have eternal life must seek to be obedient to God, to all that God has commanded, all to which He has directed the individual. Of course, He might have one command for the angels, another for man, and a third for the Church. But since we find that we are not able to obey perfectly every command of God, we cannot hope for eternal life by perfect obedience to the letter of the Word of God. Even though God has accepted us as His children, we can hope for life only by having the spirit of obedience to His Word.

One of the lessons to be learned in the School of Christ is that a “man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth” – food and raiment, etc. – but that his life, in the fullest, highest, grandest sense, is dependent upon his complete submission to the Divine will. Careful attention to every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God, to every admonition, every encouragement, every promise, is necessary to the development of those whom God is now calling to eternal life as joint-heirs with His Son in the Kingdom. Let us, then, more and more, as the disciples of the Lord Jesus, keep in memory the words of the text, and act upon them.

LIVE BY EVERY WORD FROM THE MOUTH OF GOD

But how is it possible for us to live by the words that proceed out of the mouth of God? What did Jesus mean? How can God’s words give life?

He meant that all hope of attaining eternal life depends upon God – upon the Divine Plan and its promises. Looking into these promises we can see distinctly that the Divine Plan, dating from before the foundation of the world, is that all of God’s creatures, created in His likeness and abiding in faith, love and obedience in harmony with Him, shall have life everlasting. This is God’s Word upon the subject, namely, that obedience is the condition of life everlasting. This is, undoubtedly, what our Lord had in mind in the words of our text. He may also have had the thought that He had come into the world upon a special mission, to do the Father’s will, and that His understanding from the beginning was that His perfect obedience to the Divine will would insure Him glory, honor and immortality with the Father, eventually; but that any disobedience would mean the forfeiture of Divine favor and would involve the sentence of disobedience – death.

Our Lord’s prompt decision, therefore, was that to disobey the Father’s will and thus to secure bread for the sustenance of His body, would be a great mistake; that food thus secured could sustain life for but a little while; that His better plan would be to trust in the Word of God, the Divine promise, that those who love and serve and obey Him shall ultimately come off conquerors and more, and have eternal life with God. And this, our Master’s conclusion, is full of instruction for us who are His disciples, seeking to walk in His footsteps.

DISCIPLINE AN EVIDENCE OF SONSHIP

One “word of God” which is very comforting to His children is His assurance of Parental care and discipline. “If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the Father chasteneth not?” (Heb. 12:7.) In this statement the word “chastening” should not be understood as meaning disapproval on the part of our Father, and sin on the part of the individual, but rather instruction. We are guided in the matter by remembering that although our Lord was a Son in whom there was no sin, yet He received, in the Father’s providence, as a part of the “cup” poured for Him, various trials, disciplines. All of these experiences were very profitable, showing that the Father loved Him; that the Father had something which He was desirous that our Lord should do that He would not have been qualified to perform without some of these educational instructions and experiences.

Some disciplines, some chastisements, come as a result of our own mistakes and the natural consequences flowing from those mistakes and the apologies and heartaches which may necessarily follow them. God could save us from these experiences and so seclude and shelter our lives that we would not have anything to tempt us. But such is not His proposition. He wishes us to have these experiences that we may be guided in the right way and learn of our own weaknesses.

If we did not come into contact with various testing experiences we should not know where we are weak. Thus we learn where we can strengthen our characters and how we can be thoroughly developed as New Creatures. The Scriptures speak of our Lord Jesus as “enduring such contradiction of sinners against Himself.” (Heb. 12:3.) Our trials, or disciplines, in meeting every opposition that can come to us, should bring more or less of correction in righteousness. Even if this would not mean outward stripes, we, in any event, would have our mental regrets as New Creatures, and thus we would get a form of correction, or discipline. Additionally, the Lord causes His children to come into peculiar trials as an example either to the brethren or to the world. In many of these, whatever the cause, we may understand them to be also corrections or instructions in righteousness.

TRIAL – DISCIPLINE – NECESSARY TO
THE PERFECTING OF OUR CHARACTERS

Character cannot be developed wholly without trial. It is like a plant. At first it is very tender; it needs an abundance of the sunshine of God’s love, frequent watering with the showers of His grace, much cultivating with the applied knowledge of His character as a good foundation for faith and inspiration to obedience. Then, when thus far developed under these favorable conditions, it is ready for the pruning hand of discipline, and is also able to endure some hardness. Little by little, as strength of character is developed, the tests applied to it serve only to develop more strength, beauty and grace, until it is finally developed, perfected, fixed, established, through suffering.

This great work of developing and training character is necessarily a slow and tedious one, and not infrequently it is a painful process. But the Apostle plainly tells us that such things are necessary for the development of steadfast and enduring character. Consider how your own experience has verified this, you who have been for some time under the Lord’s special care and leading. How much richer you are for all the lessons of experience, and for the patience and other spirit-fruits that experiences have developed in you!

Although, like the Apostle, you can say that “No chastening for the present seemeth joyous, but grievous; nevertheless, afterward, it yieldeth the peaceable fruits of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.” (Heb. 12:11.) The lessons of experience and discipline have made you stronger. They have increased your faith and drawn you into closer communion and fellowship with the Lord. They have made you feel better acquainted with Him and enabled you to realize more and more His personal interest in you and His love and care for you. And this in turn has awakened a deeper sense of gratitude and an increasing zeal to manifest that gratitude to Him. This also deepens the sense of fellowship with God, and gives confidence to the hope of final and full acceptance with Him as a son and heir, made worthy through Christ.

OBEDIENCE THE TEST

Another helpful “word of God” is found in I John 2:5: “Whoso keepeth His Word, in him verily is the love of God perfected.” Here we have a test by which to determine our development as a New Creature. Only those who have received the Word of God can keep it, can retain it and comply with its requirements. The text suggests that it is a difficult matter to keep the Word of God. On all sides we hear various reasons why we should retain, hold fast the world, the flesh, rather than that which the Lord’s Word holds out to us. There are many allurements to entice us from the “narrow way.” Hence these who hold fast to the Word of God are “overcomers.”

The Scriptures intimate that to live righteously and godly in this present time will cost us our very lives. “Whosoever will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” (2 Tim. 3:12.) Under present conditions faithfulness means faithfulness even unto death. The intimation is that unless we have the love of God we will not undertake to be obedient to His Word; that otherwise we can neither retain the Word of God nor be in accord with it, serving it even unto death.

Our Lord Jesus illustrated the perfection of obedience to the Word of God when He said, “I come to do Thy will, O God!” Everything written in the Book; everything that was God’s will, He was glad to do at any cost. Our Lord Jesus could not have reached this degree of submission to the Divine will unless He had had love for the Father. And so with us. Unless we have love for God and the principles of righteousness we cannot continue in this way.

Consequently, only those who so love God that they would surrender life to do His will, are properly keeping His Word. We may say that this condition is reached when we first make consecration, for the heart has given up its will and surrendered itself fully to the Lord – “Not my will, but Thine, be done.” All those who are complying with the conditions of self-sacrifice have reached the mark of perfect love. Of course, there is another sense of perfecting which we shall attain in the resurrection. But only those who will keep God’s Word by faithfulness even unto death will secure the prize and become partakers of the divine nature.

The test is OBEDIENCE. In proportion as we keep the Lord’s Word, in like proportion the love of God is perfected in us; for if we have received the mind of Christ, the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God, the effect will be to cause us both to will and to do His good pleasure to the extent of our ability. And this ability should be continually on the increase year by year. Although we may not hope to be perfected until we shall be “changed” and be granted our new resurrection bodies, nevertheless, we may keep so closely in touch with the Lord in the spirit of our minds that we may have continual fellowship with Him; and by confessing our faults daily and seeking his forgiveness we may continue to the end of our journey clean from sin, even though we must still acknowledge the infirmities of the flesh, that in our flesh dwelleth no perfection.

THE WORK OF RESURRECTION

A further word from the mouth of God assures us that He knoweth our frame, He remembereth that we are dust – weak, imperfect, dying; and that it is not His purpose that we shall continue always to be in conflict with ourselves – perfect will against imperfect body; but that He has provided that, in the resurrection, we shall have new, perfect bodies, in full accord with our new minds.

He assures us that He is able and willing to do all this and that He purposes to give to His elect, bodies of a much higher order than the human – that He will give us spirit bodies – and that of the highest rank. We shall have part in the First Resurrection, and will thenceforth be able to do the Father’s will perfectly in every respect, as we now show ourselves desirous of doing His will so far as we are able. O gracious provisions! O wonderful words of compassion, inspiring us to wondrous hopes of eternal life and glory! It will be to such as thus overcome in spirit, in faith (I John 5:4), that the Lord will give the final Word of His mouth – “Well done, good and faithful servant, enter thou into the joys of thy Lord!”

 

The Oneness of the Divine Family

“I pray for them…which thou hast given me; for they are thine. And all mine are thine, and thine are mine; and I am glorified in them.” – Jno. 17:9,10.
THERE is a touching pathos in this prayer of our Lord for his disciples as he was about to leave them, which draws us very near to his loving heart; especially when he adds, “Neither pray I for these alone [then present with him], but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; that they all may be one, as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us, that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them, that they may be one, even as we are one – I in them and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that thou hast sent me and hast loved them as thou hast loved me.” – Verses 20-23.

As we come to consider this beautiful expression of the Lord’s sentiments with reference to the Church, we catch a glimpse of the glory of the blessed oneness of the divine family. It is a oneness of purpose, a oneness of confidence, a oneness of sympathy, a oneness of love a oneness of honor, and a oneness of mutual possession. This oneness our Lord described as already existing between himself and the Father, but so far as his disciples are concerned it was and still is only prospective; and its full accomplishment is the ideal goal toward which we are taught to aspire.

But let us study this exemplified oneness more closely that we may be enabled the more fully to enter into it. In the first place we notice that the one purpose which is common to both the Father and the Son is the Father’s purpose, which was gradually revealed to the Son in due time and order, whose it also became by adoption. Since Jesus himself said, “Of that day and hour knoweth no man; no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father” only (Mark 13:32), it is manifest that the revelation of that plan to him was a gradual one; and that he was led into the knowledge of its various features as they became due to be worked out through his instrumentality. Thus he was allowed to grow in knowledge; and thus, too, he was spared the sad spectacle of subsequent trouble which also lay along the pathway of the divine plan. Thus, while he joyfully worked out the grand plan of creation (John 1:3; Prov. 8:22-31), he probably knew nothing of God’s purpose for the subsequent permission of evil and the necessity for the great work of redemption. Before he came to that test of faith in God his confidence in his almighty power, wisdom and love had been firmly established by the experiences of the past. For centuries he had seen his mighty works, marked his wondrous wisdom and experienced his tender love. Could he doubt him, then, when another feature of his plan made manifest the great work of redemption and restitution, and gave to him the privilege of undertaking this work also, for the joy that the Father set before him? No; doubtless he did not at first realize the depths of humiliation and sorrow through which he must pass; but, step by step, along the painful way of humiliation and suffering, his faith in the Father, founded upon his previous experimental knowledge, sustained him, as it is written – “By his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many.” – Isa. 53:11.

We next notice between the Father and the Son a beautiful oneness of confidence. The Son trusted the Father fully – at first, because it was easy and natural. Created in the likeness of God, trust in the Being who brought him into existence was spontaneous, and experience served but to develop and establish it. And the Father trusted the Son fully – first, because he recognized in him the inherent principles of righteousness and truth and filial loyalty which he himself had given him; and, as the course of time and experience developed and the more firmly established his Son in righteousness, his confidence in him became firmly established. And so strong was the Father’s confidence in the subsequent fidelity of his beloved Son, that he did not hesitate to declare the results of his faithfulness thousands of years before he even began the work of redemption. He even declared all the special features of the work, by the mouth of his holy prophets at various intervals for four thousand years before he began the work. And still he declares that the work shall in due time be gloriously accomplished. How wonderful and how beautiful is this mutual confidence!

We further notice a oneness of sympathy between the Father and the Son. The Son glories in the Father’s plan, saying, “I delight to do thy will, O my God.” He delighted in it because he discovered therein the worthy features of his Father’s glorious character; and though his faith may have been temporarily tested by the permission of evil, his knowledge of God’s character and resources, and of the depth of his wisdom did not permit him to doubt, but held him still in loving trust in his infinite goodness and grace, and, therefore, in readiness to acquiesce fully in the measures proposed for the final triumph of righteousness and truth.

And the Father was likewise in loving sympathy with the Son, not permitting him to be tried above what he was able to bear; and not leaving him to bear any trial alone, but always granting him the light of his countenance and a joyful sense of admiring approval (John 11:42; Matt. 3:17), except when, for our sakes, he permitted him for a moment to feel that he was forsaken; when, in the anguish of his soul, he cried out at this unusual experience, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”

Now, mark the oneness of love manifested. In every act we have already noted we have seen it expressed. It was mutual love that delighted to manifest and express mutual confidence, that gloried in the same loving and benevolent purposes, that sympathized fully with each other’s thoughts and feelings, and that delighted in the close and blessed relationship of Father and Son. The Father did not treat the Son as a servant and hide his purposes from him; but delighted to take him into his confidence in so far as his wisdom and prudence dictated – i.e., as the truth became meat in due season to him. And, in turn, the Son did not serve the Father as a hireling, but as a son with a common interest. The Father declared, “This is my beloved Son;” and the Son said, “I delight to do thy will.”

How blessed the fellowship! It was a fellowship of joy and a fellowship of suffering – of joy in a common anticipation of the future glory; and of suffering in mutual participation of the preliminary trials to secure that end. The Son suffered in his humiliation and his dying agony; and the Father suffered in giving his only begotten Son – an intensity of suffering which the loving, yearning hearts of devoted parents can best imagine and appreciate.

There was further a recognized oneness of possessions clearly expressed by our Lord, who declared, “All things that the Father hath are mine.” (John 16:15.) And the Apostle says, God hath appointed the Son the “heir of all things,” and hath “set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come.” – Heb. 1:1,2; Eph. 1:20,21.

And, lastly, we notice a oneness of honor. In honor each seems to prefer the other. The Father says: Let all men honor the Son, even as they honor the Father. (John 5:23.) God has made him the brightness of his glory and the express image of his person, and exalted him to his own right hand, to the chief seat of power in his kingdom, giving him all power in heaven and in earth. – Heb. 1:2,3; Matt. 28:18.

In the work of creation he has set him forth in great prominence and glory, saying, “Without him was not anything made that was made.” In the work of redemption and restitution God has set him forth so prominently that his name is the theme on every tongue, almost to the eclipse of the Father’s own glory, who of necessity is himself greater than the Son (1 Cor. 15:27), and to whom the glory pre-eminently belongs, as the Son also declares, saying, “My Father is greater than I;” and again, “I can of mine own self do nothing;” “the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works.” – John 5:30; 14:10,28.

The Son’s corresponding anxiety to glorify the Father is most marked in the instance when, realizing that he was approaching the dreadful hour of his dying agony he exclaimed, “Now is my soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour? But for this cause came I unto this hour. Father, glorify thy name” – even at this cost to me. (John 12:27,28.) Again we hear him say, “Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee.” (John 17:1.) And when the great work of redemption and restitution is accomplished, we see him delivering up the Kingdom to God, the Father, and subjecting himself to his further direction, that Jehovah himself may be universally recognized as all in all. (1 Cor. 15:24,28.) And we, like him, may surely trust that his purposes for the ages to follow will but the further express and emphasize the same lines of his glorious character – his justice, his wisdom, his love and his power.

Glorious oneness! who could suggest an improvement to its wondrous beauty and completeness? But the wonder and joy increase when we learn that it is also our privilege to come into this same blessed oneness with God. What! we inquire – the very same oneness as above described? Yes; undoubtedly it is our privilege to enter into the very same relationship and privileges and blessings. To this end consider the exceeding great and precious promises and see that it is ours to have the same oneness with God – of purpose, of confidence, of sympathy, of love, of honor and of possession.

The same plan of God is presented to and adopted by us, and we also are invited to become coworkers with God in carrying it out (2 Cor. 6:1); and in so doing we are counted in with Christ Jesus as filling up the measure of the sufferings of the anointed body necessary to the accomplishment of that plan. Our heavenly Father also similarly manifests his confidence in us – in the loyalty of our hearts toward him and in the sincerity of our consecration to him – even though he recognizes our inherent weaknesses and our inability to carry out fully our own determinations. But, notwithstanding this, so great is his confidence in our sincerity and integrity of heart, that, on our profession of faith and consecration, he fully accepts us as his sons and heirs, supplementing our weaknesses and shortcomings with the all-sufficient merit of our Redeemer, in whom we humbly trust. And not only so, but as sons, honored and beloved, he makes known to us, also, his secret counsels, which others cannot know (Matt. 13:11), and invites us to confide in him as children, and to speak to him freely of all that concerns us, in full assurance of his loving interest, even in our smallest affairs. (Psa. 103:13,14.) And then he commits a portion of his great work to us. He gives us certain talents, certain portions of his goods, and tells us to invest them for him according to our best judgment as to the profitableness of the results, not dictating all the minutiae of the management as to hireling servants, but merely submitting to us the general principles which should govern us. Thus, for instance, he gives us his plan as to the work in hand, with such general directions as, not to cast our pearls before swine; to be wise as serpents and harmless as doves; to give meat in due season; to do good to all men as we have opportunity, but especially to the household of faith; and to observe the times and seasons, and the character of the work in each – seed-sowing in the spring, and reaping in the harvest time; etc., etc. Thus with general directions he sends us forth – not like machines, to do a monotonous treadmill service, but as intelligent beings, to use our brains as well as our hands and feet. So he counsels us to “study” to show ourselves workmen approved, and to consider and think, and not to be “as the horse, or as the mule, which have no understanding, whose mouth must be held in with bit and bridle.” (Psa. 32:9.) Then, according to our zeal and faithfulness, not only in the use of our hands, but also of our brains, in the Lord’s service, his confidence in us increases and we are entrusted with more and more of his goods and given a corresponding sense of our heavenly Father’s approval. And the mutual confidence and fellowship of purpose and work, draw our hearts closer and closer to the heart of the Eternal, and the joyful realization of sonship and mutual interest and confidence and sympathy fills our hearts.

We are also assured of the same love from our heavenly Father which he exercises toward our Lord Jesus. The statement seems almost startling; but yet, hearken to our Lord’s prayer – “I pray for them …that they may be one…that they may be made perfect in one…that the world may know that thou hast…loved them as thou hast loved me.” (John 17:20-23.) In amazement we inquire, How can this be? Our Lord Jesus was always in perfect harmony with the Father; a son who gloriously reflected his likeness; but it has not been so with us: we were sinners and had nothing in us worthy of love. Yes, but we have been washed and cleansed, and, however imperfect our earthen vessels may still be, our hearts are perfect in his sight who is able to read the heart. And, as he sees us with a perfect heart – a perfect purpose and intention – striving to overcome the weaknesses and disabilities of our imperfect flesh, and with painful, yet determined, effort to do his will, and humbly trusting in the provisions which he has made for our redemption from the fall, God recognizes in us that which is worthy of his love. And so our Lord Jesus gives us clearly to understand that the Father loves us, even as he loved the Son.

And not only is this equality of the Father’s love for us as for Christ Jesus thus declared, but it is also manifested; for we are called to be joint-heirs with his Son, and partakers of his glory; and even as all things are his, they are also said to be ours. – Rom. 8:17; 1 Cor. 3:21-23.

While such is the oneness between the heavenly Father and all his anointed sons, it is blessed also to mark the same oneness between Christ Jesus and his anointed brethren. The Lord Jesus does not selfishly grasp all the glory and seek to retain it for himself, but the rather with admiration he contemplates their acquired worthiness and says, They “are mine and I am glorified in them” (John 17:10); and he would have them all bound up together with himself in the Father’s love. He would also have them with him, beholding and sharing the glory which the Father had given him from the foundation of the world – the glory of his mighty creative works, with all the other evidences of his Father’s love. – John 17:22-24.

Thus all the divine family are bound together in one bond of love and fellowship and confidence and sympathy and harmony and common interest; and the honor and glory of one are the honor and glory of all. The Lord’s prayer abounds with petitions for this oneness. Mark the expression (verse 21) – “That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me and I in thee” [thy spirit or disposition and purposes and aim being common to us all]. Hence, he would have us adopt the same Father’s spirit, aim and purpose, and devote all our powers with zeal and faithfulness to the accomplishment of the Father’s will. Amen, so let it be.

 

The Wise Choice

“Choose ye this day whom ye will serve; as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” – Joshua 24:15.

THE Children of Israel had crossed Jordan. Moses was dead and Joshua was their Leader. They were having no difficulty at that time; but Joshua thought that it was proper just then for them to make their decision – proper for them to decide whether or not they would be faithful to the Lord, or would allow themselves to be led away by the idolatry of the people who lived in Canaan. Joshua had called them together and had recounted to them the Lord’s blessings and favor which they had thus far enjoyed, and then expressed himself in the grand and noble sentiments of our text.

So, dear friends, we who realize that the Lord has been blessing, guiding and sustaining us in the past, should come to a full, positive decision as respects our course of life. The very fact of coming to a positive decision is a great blessing and a great help in the formation of character. Every time we come to a wise decision on any question, it strengthens mind and character, and makes us much more ready for another test – along some other line, perhaps.

We well recognize the fact that the entire consecration which the Christian makes, leaves nothing out; but we need to have some touchstone, something which will enable the mind to reach a decision quickly, and this touchstone should be God’s will, so that to perceive the Lord’s will on any subject would be to settle it without any temporizing. Again, it is highly proper that we should reiterate our consecration, and thus make it prominent before others.

For instance, if this were New Year’s Day, and we were at a testimony meeting, there would be nothing wrong in saying, “Whatever any one else may do, I acknowledge God and will serve him!” – not as a new vow, but as a fresh acknowledgment of the consecration Vow we have already taken.

We are to recognize the difference between making a new covenant every day, and the daily renewing of our covenant; the one would be an impropriety; the other would be proper. If we have made a binding covenant for life, we should no more think of breaking it than would a man who had leased a house or sold it.

Every day we should renew our covenant with the Lord – renew it and make it fresh in our minds, thus showing that there has been no change on our part; that we are still in the same attitude. This is the same thought as was in the making of our consecration; we are dead with Christ – “Ye are not your own, ye are bought with a price.” We are exhorted to make this review of our lives and renewal of our consecration daily; to continue to keep this before our minds and hearts; to render our sacrifice to the Lord. Thus we are baptized by baptism into his death; and this baptism continues just as it was with our Lord. He had made his consecration and so it had to be completed; so it is with us; our vow, our covenant is unto death.

If the Lord’s consecrated people could be brought to the point where the chief aim in life, the burden of all their prayers, would be that they might have a larger measure of the Spirit of the Lord, the spirit of holiness, the spirit of the Truth, the spirit of Christ, the spirit of a sound mind, what a blessing it would mean! If then they should wrestle with him until the breaking of day, their hold upon him would be sure to bring the desired blessing. The Lord reveals himself for the purpose of giving this blessing; but he withholds it until we learn to appreciate and desire it.

 

Should Christians Celebrate Halloween?



May Christhalloweenians and their children participate in Halloween activities? To answer this question, we should first distinguish the secular observance of Halloween from such important Christian festival days as Christmas and Easter. Christmas celebrates the birth of our Savior and Easter commemorates his resurrection. Both these Christian holidays memorialize profound aspects of the life of Jesus.

The celebration of Halloween has no such Christian spiritual features. True, this holiday falls on October 31st, which is the eve of All Saints Day, which is a festival day celebrated by some Christian churches. However, the modern celebration of Halloween is not generally thought of as a Christian time of worship.

The day does have religious significance for some people, particularly wiccans and druids. For some people and in some regions, Halloween or some of its elements may have a non-Christian religious meaning. Some Halloween activities could be considered anti-Christian, and would, therefore, be avoided. Christians would want to avoid demonic associations, for example. With these things in mind, it would be appropriate for Christians to consider carefully their activities on this holiday.

For most children, however, there is no religious significance involved in either the day itself or in such elements as pumpkins or costumes. It’s true that such things as jack-o’-lanterns, bonfires and black cats, which are part of the Halloween tradition, may have roots in pre-Christian activities. But when children go trick-or-treating or visit “haunted houses” at the local shopping center, they are not thinking about participating in any religious festivities at all. They are just trying to “have fun” as they would at a movie or amusement park.

Most Christians believe they can celebrate Halloween (in some respects) as a purely secular day of fun. We should remember that much of the television we watch and many movies we see are what we often call “mindless entertainment.” Many other things we do for fun, we do precisely for entertainment and for no other reason. That’s the way entertainment is. Playing checkers or a video game, for example, has no redeeming features of a cosmic nature except that it’s fun, and sometimes relaxing. Many classic children’s stories include magic or other elements that children know are make-believe.

Many people see trick-or-treating or visiting a haunted house as being in the same category. It’s just plain fun, and has no spiritual, religious or enduring significance. Viewed on that basis, participating in various Halloween fun activities wouldn’t be any different than going to Disneyland’s “haunted house” or enjoying similar entertainment.

The issue of whether to celebrate Halloween in any way is usually only a question for parents who have small children.  Retailers advertise Halloween as a time of great fun for kids, so they naturally want to participate in trick-or-treat walkabouts, don spooky clothing and visit local “haunted house” stations provided by some merchants or involve themselves in other related activities.

For parents who don’t want their children involved in such things, they might consider having a home party with other parents and children that don’t involve Halloween-type festivities.  Some churches offer an evening get-together for children and parents, with fun Bible-centered games and party snacks.

Should Christians and their children participate in Halloween activities if they are unsure whether it is the right thing to do or are convinced it is wrong? The Bible teaches us that we should be fully persuaded in our own minds about these things—either pro or con. But we should not judge or condemn others who are of a different persuasion. The apostle Paul’s advice in Romans 14 can be applied to the question of Halloween activities.

If some people feel uncomfortable participating in Halloween activities, perhaps due to problems in their region, then they should not do so. The day has religious significance only to those who give it religious significance. (Of course, as mentioned earlier, we would do well to avoid those activities that still do have an unChristian flavor.) It is the responsibility of each Christian to decide, based on biblical and Christian principles, whether to participate in Halloween activities, and to avoid judging other Christians who have different circumstances and make different decisions.

The Crown of Life – Who Will Receive It?

“Blessed is the man that endureth temptation; for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love Him.” – James 1:12.

THE above words of the Apostle James are a part of an earnest exhortation to all the Church of God scattered abroad. “Blessed is the man who endureth [with fortitude] temptation.” Those who do not love the Lord with all their hearts, in whom self or some other idol has first place, will be seduced by the world, the flesh or the Devil into some form of rebellion against the Divine Word or Divine providences. They will have schemes, theories or desires which they will prefer to the Lord’s Plan and way; and their own theories, plans and ways will be found, when analyzed, to be based upon selfishness and ambition or an evil spirit of envy, hatred, jealousy, pride, etc. It is only such as endure such temptations and besetments with fortitude, by the grace of God conquering and subduing the fleshly mind, that will receive the promised crown.

The Apostle here speaks of the final reward as being “the crown of life.” It might be possible to view this matter of the crown of life from different standpoints; for instance, to think of life as being a crowning blessing, on whatever plane of being. Those who will be brought into the Lord’s favor during the Millennial Age will, after the close of that Age, if proven worthy, gain everlasting life. In other words, they will be crowned with a life which will be endless. The Ancient Worthies will have this life everlasting. They will be crowned with life. Life, perfect, unending, is the greatest blessing God could bestow. Then the Little Flock will be especially crowned with life; for they will have life on the superior plane, the life of the Divine nature – the nature of Jehovah; life in the very highest form will be their crown. So we think of all these things as being crowns of life when all have been tested and proven to the end of their course.

THE CROWN ABOVE ALL OTHERS

But we have reason to suppose that St. James is here referring to the Church, the Bride of Christ, the most blessed of all humanity. The Church is now especially on trial. This trial of our love, endurance, faith, patience, is for the purpose of demonstrating which of us will be found worthy of the chiefest of all blessings – the Divine nature, which God has promised to those who love Him – love Him more than they love houses or lands or bonds, more than they love wife or husband or parents or children or self, or any other thing. God will have a reward for others, also; but it will not be this highest crown, which He offers to the Bride of His Son alone.

What constitutes the temptation spoken of in our text? The answer of the Scriptures is that the Lord has said there will come trials and temptations – disciplinings – to those who are His, to develop their character, to prove their steadfastness and loyalty. Without trials and temptations our allegiance to God would never be shown. Self-love might be reigning in our hearts, and we would not recognize it unless it were demonstrated. It is very easy to think how much we love the Lord and how much we would like to do for Him. Then comes the temptation to sloth, and to do something for ourselves instead of for the Lord. It is easy for us to think we love His will, and to sing:

“I love Thy will, O God.”

Then we are severely tried on that line, and we sometimes find out that our love for His will needs yet farther development and greater fixity.

Our covenant with the Lord is to love Him with all our heart, mind, soul and strength and to love our neighbor as ourselves. We are to live up to this standard in the spirit of our minds so far as we are able by Divine assistance, trusting to the merit of the precious blood to cover our unavoidable deficiencies. Yea, we are to “lay down our lives for the brethren.” The temptation comes to love other things more, to love self more than we love God and the brethren. The Lord permits these trials and temptations and difficulties to come to us. The way we meet these, we think, will have much to do in deciding whether we shall be worthy of the highest crown of life.

THE CROWN OF LIFE AFTER THE TRIAL

“When he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life.” The expression, “when he is tried,” does not mean one trial merely; but our entire experience is spoken of as a trial, a test of loyalty. Our whole life is a matter of trial or testing to see how sincere we are, how fully we love the Lord, what we are willing to sacrifice, in harmony with our covenant. “When he is tried,” then, means, when his trial is over. Then he will receive the “crown of life.” He will not get it before. That would not necessarily mean, however, that he would get the crown the minute the trial was over – as soon as his sacrifice was completed in death. Jesus slept until the third day before He received His crown. The Apostles and others slept for many centuries before they received theirs.

It does not mean, either, that the very minute or the very day on which the Christian had fully demonstrated his faithfulness to the Lord he would immediately fall asleep or would be instantly ushered into honor and immortality by the glorious change of the First Resurrection. The Lord might have further purposes of usefulness, etc., in regard to His children before their sacrifice would be completed.

So with every phase of our trial and testing there should be a demonstration of our loyalty. Let the trials come, then, and let them continue to come. No matter what our natural infirmities may be, we shall be granted grace sufficient; and we are expected to be loyal under all conditions, at all times, until the end.