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Christian Meditation

meditationMeditation is becoming popular among everyday Americans. People have taken religion out of the picture and have turned it into an academic program known as “mindfulness studies.” For many people, meditation conjures up thoughts of someone with a shaved head or wearing a brightly colored robe moaning and humming aimlessly for hours on end. But what is meditation, really?

What is Meditation?

Meditation is a purposeful act. It means to think about, reflect or ponder. Meditation isn’t a complex practice; it simply means to think deeply and intently.

What does the Bible say we should meditate about? Consider King David’s example in Psalm 1:2: “But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.” Everybody with a functioning brain meditates daily; however, the content meditated on is up to the individual.

God gives a blueprint of what we should think about in Philippians 4:8: “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” If we think more and more on the things of God, it enables Him to build within us a mind like His.

The Apostle Paul continued in verse 9: “Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.” God will be with us if we follow the instruction in verse 8. By meditating on what we learn, we are more likely to apply it.

Distractions are the main obstacle to meditation. It is easy to be distracted. But meditation requires us to put away all distractions and seek to capture deep thought. We must resist distractions if we want to think more like God.

To grow spiritually, it is important to combine our Bible study and prayer with deep, rock-solid meditation. A good parallel is the digestion of physical food. What we eat isn’t immediately usable to the body. The nutrients in our food must be digested and distributed throughout the body in order to benefit it. The same applies spiritually. The spiritual food we eat (through Bible study) must be digested and absorbed (through application in our life).

Meditation is a powerful tool. It doesn’t require any fancy pose or specific regimen. A person can meditate on just about anything—it doesn’t have to be a spiritual topic. While it isn’t exclusive to your spiritual life or your faith, meditation is a key spiritual tool. The goal of spiritual meditation is to develop a stronger relationship with God as you learn to think more like Him. So use meditation to aid your Bible study and prayer. Try it out—think on the things of God!

Why Meditation?

Why should Christians meditate? Taking time out of your day to do what at first impression seems like staring off into space just doesn’t seem right. However, there are countless benefits to meditation.

What we feed our minds with is what we produce, in the form of our thoughts, words or actions. Jesus Christ Himself said that, “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh” (Matthew 12:34).

Your mind is like your stomach: It constantly needs to be fed. It is up to us to feed it a proper diet. Just as a healthy diet produces wonderful physical benefits, so a proper diet of meditation does bring wonderful mental and spiritual benefits.

1. Meditation nourishes our conversion.

When we meditate properly, it aids our conversion process. Conversion requires a change of heart and mind. Think about this in terms of what fills our mind. That is why the Apostle Paul told Christians to think on the things that please God the carnal thoughts of man (Philippians 4:8). Meditation reveals to God a lot about our hearts. God knows all that we think about (1 Chronicles 28:9). Knowing that God is aware of our every thought can be a pretty humbling fact. Our thoughts show God how committed we are to obeying Him and how much we try to emulate Him and live His way of life.

2. Meditate on godly things.

Meditation opens up our mind for God to fill us with His thoughts and desires. This helps us to think like He does (Philippians 2:5).

Filling your mind with godly things and keeping it focused on the goal of becoming more like God helps you to keep from falling back into the ways of the world. If we open our minds for God to fill, He will provide us with deeper understanding that we can use to the fullest in our lives.

3. Meditation fortifies prayer and study.

We should pause, once in a while, and meditate, and let God talk to us in prayer. When we pray we talk to God. When we study, God teaches us. But when we meditate, God is able to put His thoughts into our mind. Through meditation, we give God the ability to let His words of life sink into us. It is important that we take time to listen to God and think upon the meaning of those words for us and how they can be applied.

4. Meditation protects our mind.

Meditation is an effective tool to ensure that we put the right thoughts into our mind. Sometimes the ability to maintain deep, continuous and constructive thought can be a challenge. This struggle occurs when we allow our minds to stagnate. Meditation can combat a stagnant mind.

Our environment, our daily interactions with others, and our own problems and difficulties can be some of our greatest distractions. They can occupy our mind, preventing it from growing spiritually. Our daily responsibilities can keep our minds occupied from the moment we wake up to the moment we go to sleep.

Meditation can keep us from falling into a meaningless rut, and it promotes an active mind that engages in constructive thought. Don’t allow your daily cares to consume all of your attention; meditate to embed right and meaningful thoughts into your mind.

How to Meditate?

True meditation requires us to fill our mind with God and His Word. There are several steps we can take that will help us to really learn how to establish effective meditation. Below are some points to help you improve your meditation.

1. Meditate after you study.

Meditation can enhance your study by helping you remember what you have studied. It is important to turn over and over in your mind what you study as you study. Don’t just study as a routine—study to remember. Apply what we learn in our studies—meditation will enable you to do that. The more you think about something after you have studied it, the deeper will be your desire to apply what you have learned (Psalm 1:2). By thinking deeply about what you study, you engrave God’s Word and truth into your mind. Meditate on your Bible study. Adding meditation to your Bible study routine will help you to remember and do.

2. Couple meditation with prayer.

Another great benefit of meditation is that it allows you to enhance your prayer life. While meditation allows God to talk to you, it also can improve your interaction with Him on your knees. We can make our prayer life more dynamic by pausing to think from time to time during our prayers. This will make your connection with God more real. Pause and focus on God. Focus on who He is and what He does. Doing so can bring great energy to your prayer closet.

3. Follow King David’s example of daily meditation.

Look to the example of King David to learn how to meditate. His life provided a clear example on how to meditate. “I remember the days of old; I meditate on all thy works; I muse on the work of thy hands” (Psalm 143:5). David made spiritual meditation a habit.

Meditation shouldn’t be a once-in-awhile activity that you check off your to-do list after your weekly stroll through the park. David meditated daily.

God desires that we draw closer to Him through meditation each and every day. David was a man after God’s own heart who knew how to meditate. It helped him build a strong relationship with God. To effectively build strong meditation habits, meditation must become a daily exercise. It will become more natural the more frequent you do it. Begin building this habit by meditating each day after your morning prayers.

4. Meditate day and night.

David said in Psalm 1:2 that he meditated “day and night.” Meditation is a constant practice—it is a part of your daily life. Once you develop meditation as a daily custom, work on setting aside time both in the morning and at night to muse on the things of God. A good way to instill this day-and-night habit is to meditate after you pray on your knees in the morning and in the evening.

5. Make it constant.

The more you practice meditation, the easier it will be to develop it into a perpetual habit. Meditating every day, day and night, will help you eventually to develop this constant habit of meditation. Pause every once in a while throughout the day and think deeply about your work, decisions, conversations and even those beautiful views as you enjoy your drive to and from work. Strive to make meditation a constant as you go about your day-to-day activities.

This is just a progression to build on to enhance our meditation. Start with the basics: Work on making meditation a daily habit. Then work on setting aside time to meditate day and night. Eventually, if you stick with it, it becomes a habit. Then work to incorporate meditation throughout your day. Meditate constantly to help fill your mind with thinking that is in line with God’s.

Remember, meditation is about ridding Satan’s influence from our thinking and filling our minds with the things of God. Follow David’s example on how to meditate and you will more effectively serve God just as he did.

Do Not Be Deceived

donotbedeceivedWhen the disciples came to Christ, in Matthew 24, and asked about the sign of His coming and the end of the age, Christ prophesied things for them and us to be watching in the future. One thing that He warned against three times was deception. In Matthew 24.4-5

“And Jesus answered and said to them: ‘Take heed that no one deceive you. For many will come in My name saying, I am the Christ, and will deceive many.'”

Matthew 24.11 – “Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many.”

Matthew 24.23 – “For false Christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.”

We are going to look at:

  1. Examples of deception from the scriptures.
  2. How to know a false prophet.
  3. How to avoid deception.

Examples of deception from the scriptures.

We will start in Genesis 3. This is the account of Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden. We do not know how long they were there before Satan came. It would seem that they knew their way around and going about their daily business. Satan came on the scene and deceived Eve. Adam, while not deceived, also ate the forbidden fruit.

God then came to the garden and Adam and Eve hid from Him. God confronted them and inquired if they had eaten of the fruit.

Genesis 3.13 – “And the Lord God said to the woman, ‘What is this you have done?’ The woman said, ‘The serpent deceived me and I ate.'”

God walked out into Eden one day, knelt down and sculpted a man out of clay. He breathed life into this statue. God introduced Himself and told Adam that He had created him. He brought the animals for Adam to name. This was after God had brought Adam up to date on what was happening. Remember that Adam was like a newborn babe in an adult’s body. After the period of education, God put Adam to sleep, took a rib from him and made Eve. God then, along with Adam, educated Eve in what was happening and gave them both instruction in how to live and conduct themselves in the garden.

Take a look at what was occurring. Two perfect physical human beings, plenty of food, no inhibitions, they had everything going for them, and they had an opportunity for eternal life. They were taught and tutored by their Creator God. Then Satan came along and it all went away.

If Eve could be deceived and Adam follow along, how about us? They had it all, but it was not enough. Satan was a false minister. The result of Eve’s believing the lies and deception of Satan brought them a life of misery.

Look at James 1.14-16:

“But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin: and sin, when it is full grown, brings forth death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren.”

Adam and Eve had it all. A false minister deceived them.

Genesis 31.6-7 – “And you know that with all my might I have served your father. Yet your father deceived me and changed my wages ten times, but God did not allow him to hurt me.”

Jacob prospered while with Laban, but it also brought him responsibilities he did not ask for. Jacob had a family conflict. He had to deal with Laban more than he wanted. All because Laban deceived Jacob.

Proverbs 20.1 -” Wine is a mocker. Strong drink is a brawler, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise.”

What addictions do we have? Do we have problems with alcohol? What about nicotine or illegal drug addiction? What is it that has a hold on us? Pornography, etc.? Do we deceive ourselves and say that we do not have a problem? First thing after work, we go to the bar for a drink. Before we turn on the light in the morning, we light up a cigarette. What has a hold on us? Do not be self- deceived.

Sin is a deceiver.

Romans 7.11 – “Paul speaking, ‘For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it killed me.”

Sin looks good. The grass is greener on the other side we think.

Romans 6.23 – “For the wages of sin is death…”

Compare this to James 1.15. Sin will deceive and kill us.

How to know a false prophet.

II Corinthians 11.3 – “But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.”

The christian life is not always easy, but it is simple. Remember Romans 6.23:

“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

The christian life restricts our activities. We cannot do just what we want to do when we want to do it. There are things we must do and things that we must not do.

Matthew 7.13-14 – “Enter by the narrow gate: for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.”

Matthew 5.48 – “Therefore you shall be perfect just as your Father in heaven is perfect.”

I John 2.15-17 – “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world: the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life – is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it: but he who does the will of God abides forever.”

This does not mean we cannot enjoy life and the things that God blesses us with, but our physical surroundings cannot become all consuming.

Matthew 5.17 – Christ says “Do not think that I came to destroy the law or the prophets. I did not come to destroy, but to fulfill.

I John 3.4 – “Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness.

Galatians 3.19, 24-25 – “What purpose then does the law serve? It was added because of transgressions till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was appointed through angels by the hand of mediator. Therefore, the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after faith has come, we no longer under a tutor.”

When we leave the tutor, we do not throw away or forget all that we were taught.

See Matthew 7.21-22. In verse 23 – “And then I will declare to them, I never knew you: depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.”

If there is no law, we cannot practice lawlessness.

Those that say that the law is done away with are false prophets. The law defines sin and is the guideline to how we are to live.

Isaiah 8.20 – “To the law and the testimony; if they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.”

The law is not, is not, is not our salvation, but it is the thing that keeps us on the right path. It keeps us “in the way”.

Read Matthew chapters 5-7. See what Christ had to say about the law and how we should live.

A person who prophesies in God’s name and whose prophecy does not come to pass is a false prophet.

Deuteronomy 18.21-22 – “And if you say in your heart, How shall we know the word which the Lord has spoken? When a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the thing does not happen or come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord has not spoken; the prophet has spoken presumptuously: you shall not be afraid of him.”

A false prophet may show a sign or miracle and then try to turn you from the Creator God.

Deuteronomy 13.1-3 – “If there arises among you a prophet or a dreamer of dreams and he gives you a sign or a wonder and the sign or wonder come to pass of which he spoke to you saying, ‘Let us go after other gods – which you have not known – and let us serve them, you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or dreamer of dreams, for the Lord your God is testing you to know whether you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.”

How to avoid deception.

Believe God. God says what He means and means what He says.

Read Genesis 6.13-14, 22; Genesis 12.1-4; Genesis 31.3, 16-17; Acts 9.6

These scriptures are accounts of Noah, Abraham, Jacob, and Paul. When God told them to do something, they responded and did it. To avoid deception we must exercise faith. Believe God. Have confidence in Him, in the sacrifice of Christ and the scripture. Grab hold of the trunk of the doctrinal tree. Do not get out on limbs and twigs. Stay close to that which we know is right. Stay grounded in the faith. Strive to rekindle the first love.

I John 4.1 – “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.”

Test the spirits. Check out what you see and hear.

Study – II Timothy 2.15. Watch – Matthew 24.42, Acts 20.28-30. Pray – I Thessalonians 5.17, I Peter 4.7

Be alert to what is going on around us.

I Corinthians 16.13 – “Watch, stand fast in the faith. Be brave, be strong.”

Stay close to God through prayer, study, and fasting. Ask for guidance and help. If we do this and keep our eyes focused on Jesus Christ, our savior, our sacrifice, and our great High Priest and keep our mind on the kingdom of God and our part in it, it will be virtually impossible for us to be deceived and turned away form God. Keep on keeping on.

Your Reasonable Service

living-sacrifices“What doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly and to
love mercy and to walk humbly with thy God?” Mic. 6:8.

Who could find fault with these requirements? Who could say
that in setting such a standard for His creatures the Almighty
required too much? On the other hand, how could we imagine a
just and loving Heavenly Father requiring less than is here
stipulated. God’s law, variously stated, always amounts to the
same thing. The statement of it, as given to the Jews at Mt. Sinai,
embodied in the Decalogue, corresponds with this statement, as
does also the presentation of it set forth by the great Teacher,
saying, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy mind,
soul and strength; and thy neighbor as thyself”.

Many of us, after confessing with the Apostle Paul that the Divine Law is holy and just and good, have been surprised to find that that
which our minds heartily approve, we are unable to obey to the
full. For thirty-five hundred years the Jews have sought to keep
that Divine Law, under the promise of eternal life for so doing,
but none of them have been able to gain the prize. When as a
nation they realize their inability, and not sooner, they will be
ready to receive at God’s hands, as a free gift through the
Redeemer, the forgiveness of their violations of the Divine Law.
And then, under their New Covenant (Jer. 31:31; Heb. 8:8-13),
they will have Messiah’s assistance in regaining that perfection
of mind and body and a “new heart,” which will enable them to
obey in every particular the Divine Law, which all our minds
recognize as just and true, but which, because of heredity, we are
unable to perfectly obey in the flesh.

That blessing, which is soon to come to natural Israel, under
Messiah’s Kingdom and the New Covenant, will be extended
through them, as the natural seed of Abraham, to every nation,
kindred and tongue, in harmony with the Divine promise made
to Abraham.

A different, although a corresponding favor, is now, in advance,
bestowed upon a small class gathered from Jews and Gentiles,
and Scripturally known as the “Church of the First-Borns, whose
names are written in Heaven.” These, in advance, realize their
inability to keep the Divine Law, and by faith lay hold upon the
Redeemer’s merit and consecrate their all to God through Him.
In the Redeemer they are accepted of the Father; their heart endeavors for righteousness are recognized, and the flesh and its imperfections are renounced and counted as dead and are offset by the merit of the Redeemer. These are Scripturally classed as members of the Great Prophet, Priest, King and Mediator between God and men.
The thought of our text will be completed when all the faithful,
as members of the Messiah, “the little flock,” shall be made joint
heirs with him, as “the Bride, the Lamb’s Wife.”

ANALYZING OUR SUBJECT

We may demonstrate to ourselves the truthfulness of the
foregoing: What is it to do justly? It means much more than not
to overcharge our neighbor for the goods he may purchase of us.
It means much more than not to defraud him in the making of
change. To deal justly means justice between servant and master,
mistress and maid, buyer and seller that we should do to others
as we would that they should do to us; it means the strict
following of the Golden Rule enjoined by the Great Teacher.
Applying this principle of justice to our words, it means that we
should not speak evil of either friend or foe; that we should not
even insinuate evil. It means that we should not tell
unnecessarily what we know to be the truth, if it would harm our
neighbor, disparage him and discredit him in the eyes of others.
It means that we should love our neighbor and his interests as we
love our own, and should defend his interests and guard them as
carefully as we would our own.

Justice, in order to thus operate in our words and deeds, must
operate in our hearts in our minds. “As a man thinketh, so is he.”
If he thinks unkindly, ungenerously, unjustly, he will find it
impossible always to avoid unkind, unjust, unloving words or
actions. “Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaketh.”
It follows then, that to do justly signifies absolute righteousness
in thought, in word, in conduct. Of this none of us is capable.
The nearest approach to this is the perfect or just intention of the
heart, covenanted by all those who become followers of the Lord
Jesus Christ. The intentions and good endeavors of these are
accepted of the Father.

As for the world, it will require long years of assistance and
uplifting out of weaknesses and imperfections of the flesh to
bring them to where their thoughts, words and deeds will be
absolutely just and in full accordance with the Golden Rule.
Their attainment of this will mean their getting rid of all the
imperfections of the flesh and, by full restitution, returning to the
image and likeness of God lost in Adam.

TO LOVE MERCY

All recognize mercy as a very proper, a very desirable quality.
All realize their need of Divine mercy. All should know that the
Divine purpose is that only those who show mercy to others will
themselves receive mercy at the Lord’s hands. Many, however,
while admitting all this and while seeking to practice mercy, do
not love it. Rather, they love vengeance, and are merely
constrained to mercy by the laws of the land, public sentiment
and the Word of God. Time and again this has been shown in the
case of lynchings. Mobs have gathered for the infliction of
punishment, glad of an opportunity for setting aside mercy and
letting loose justice, as they might express it. And in those mobs
have been many guilty of perhaps as great crimes as the one who
was mobbed. “O consistency, thou art a jewel!”

WALK HUMBLY WITH THY GOD

By a strange perversity of our fallen nature, those most able and
willing to follow the first two requirements are apt to be the most
delinquent in this third requirement. In a word, the just and
merciful are very apt to find themselves possessed of a spirit of
pride, a feeling of superiority to their fellows, a hindrance to
their having a humble walk with God. Those most humble
toward the Almighty are frequently those who have had great
sins and great weaknesses, which have helped to humble them.
Thus the Great Apostle, St. Paul, was allowed to retain a
measure of visual weakness as a reminder of the time when he
was a persecutor of Christ of the “Church which is his Body” as
a reminder of how the grace of God apprehended him on the way
to Damascus, and that without the Divine interposition he might
have continued hopelessly blind.

The Apostle refers to his weakness of eyes as a thorn in the flesh,
a messenger of Satan permitted to buffet him. The Lord declined
to remove the affliction, doubtless because it would keep the
Apostle humble enough to attend properly to the great work God
had for him to do without being puffed up to his own injury. The
Divine message was, “My grace is sufficient for thee; my
strength is made perfect in weakness.” Realizing the import of
this the Apostle cried out, “Rather, therefore, will I glory in mine
infirmities that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”
And so may all God’s people, while realizing their inability to
live up to these Divine requirements, rejoice in the Divine
provision on their behalf that God’s grace is sufficient for them,
where their weakness is recognized and confessed and abhorred,
and his mercy appreciated, sought and accepted.

What Does It Mean to “Prove all things”?

question-mark-man“Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.” What does it mean? Is there any substance to the idea that truth which is initially proven can be reproven? What if “reproven truth” differs from original truth?

No Bible teaching is more certain than the fact that to understand God’s Truth one must be called of God! Our Lord said, “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him. . .” (John 6:44). While it is true those who sincerely seek God may find Him, this, too, is contingent upon God’s mercy and upon His purpose for each individual (Matthew 7:7, Romans 11:7). Whether one is ever called and chosen —depends on God (Acts 2:38–39).

Paul said, “. . .we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). Therefore, the   knowledge of God’s Truth comes by divine revelation. Truth does not come by “scholarship,” superior human intelligence, or “research.” These may aid in Bible understanding—but without the inspiration of God’s Holy Spirit leading the individual to perceive spiritual concepts, they are of little value. Many brilliant theologians and philosophers today are as much in ignorance of the real meaning of God’s Word as are those who have never been exposed to it. Bible truth is revealed! It comes only by divine revelation!

Jesus said, “. . . many are called, but few are chosen” (Matt. 22:14). Those who are chosen are chosen “through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth” (II Thess. 2:13). God’s Spirit, working on their minds and setting them apart, leads them to perceive and believe what they hear or read. They are called to a knowledge of the truth which they believe and practice (II Thess. 2:14).

Those called understand and apply the rules of Bible study. They know all Scripture is inspired (II Tim. 3:16). They know the Bible does not contradict (John 10:35). They know all Scripture on a given subject must be put together in order to fully understand doctrine (Isa. 28:9–10). They realize no scripture of the Bible is of any private interpretation (II Pet. 1:20). Their minds are fully capable of proving what the Bible says. But they know this is only a part of proving God’s Truth.

Truth Is Absolute

Divine truth is absolute. It does not change. The same truth applies to all generations. The standard never alters. The truth revealed yesterday is the same truth today. There is no progressive revelation in the sense that “new insight” invalidates original truth. “New insight” adds to and complements that which precedes it (II Pet. 3:18—”grow” is auxano, meaning “increase or add thereto”).

Pastor Russell wrote:

“A new view of truth never can contradict a former truth. “New light” never extinguishes older “light,” but adds to it. If you were lighting up a building containing seven gas jets you would not extinguish one every time you lighted another, but would add one light to another and they would be in harmony and thus give increase of light: So is it with the light of truth; the true increase is by adding to, not by substituting one for another.”

“New insight” never contradicts or disagrees with original truth. To say truth is subject to change is to say there is no such thing as absolute truth. If this is true, God’s Word is meaningless. Those who advocate doctrinal changes on the basis of “new insight” and “scholarship” have repudiated truth persay. If truth can be altered, it was never truth in the first place! Original, revealed truth cannot be altered.

Those who call themselves Christians — while advocating doctrinal changes — are in effect admitting they were never Christian, because the basis of true Christian doctrine is divine revelation (I Cor. 2:10)! Jesus said that revelation could never change (Mark 13:31)!

Truth Absolute to Every Individual

Furthermore, divine revelation is absolute to every individual. The idea that what is truth is truth for that individual only, is not sustained in Scripture. The Bible says there is one faith and one faith only (Eph. 4:5)! There is no allowance for each individual to decide for himself what truth is. Man is going to be judged on the basis of God’s Word, not on the basis of what he thinks God’s Word is (John 12:48). Truth, therefore, is not individualistic truth. It is absolute truth which applies the same way to each individual.

Since divine truth is spiritual, it can come only from a spiritual source. That spiritual source is God’s Spirit. Jesus said, “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24). Spiritual truth, as well as full spiritual understanding, is divinely revealed (I Cor. 2:10). It cannot be ascertained through physical means! It is only by the Spirit of God that the hidden things of God are made known (I Cor. 2:11). The natural man cannot receive them (I Cor. 2:14). Therefore, proving God’s Truth begins with the understanding that through God’s Spirit one can understand truth. But this comprehension is only the initial step.

Proving Means Practicing

After the individual Christian is called, recognizes the call, accepts the knowledge revealed to him and is baptized, he must put to practice that truth. He must walk worthy of his calling (I Thess. 2:12). While the truth generally comes as a result of hearing others preach God’s Word, it is plain to the true Christian that what he heard was indeed the Word of God (I Thess. 2:13, II Thess. 2:13–14, John 10:4). While the same message applies to everyone, the true Christian knows what is said has been revealed to him specifically. When Peter said, “. . . Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ. . .” (Acts 2:38), he was saying that spiritual truth must be applied individually! He did not say spiritual truth applies to each individual as he interprets it. Rather, truth applies to each individual as God specifically reveals it. Thus, each individual —called of God—must live up to what is revealed to him!

Levels of Truth

Revealed truth, therefore, does not differ from one individual to another in the sense of variety, but only in the sense of quantity. To each individual, then, truth is not a matter of diversity but rather of measure (Rom. 12:3). The more knowledge and understanding one has, the greater the responsibility placed upon him (Luke 12:47–48). At any given moment of time, each individual must live up to the truth revealed to him. Thus, when referring to spiritual truth in its application to individuals, we are referring to levels of truth. We are never talking about variations of truth. Truth does not vary from individual to individual, but the level of understanding each person has at a given moment of time does! Spiritual babes obviously cannot comprehend and apply what older, mature Christians can (I Cor. 3:1). But they must grow in knowledge and understanding until they, as mature Christians, reach a level acceptable to God (II Pet. 3:18, Eph. 4:12–15).

Thus, spiritual growth is the acceptance and practice of new revelation! Paul said, in Philippians 3:15, that God continually reveals what needs to be known to help His true children grow spiritually. But this new revelation never contradicts previous revelation! If new revelation contradicts previous revelation, then one or the other is incorrect. Either it is the old, or it is the new. If it is the old, then truth was not revealed initially. If it is the “new” that is incorrect, then what is called “new revelation” is obviously error. In order to be true revelation, “new light” cannot contradict that which was previously revealed. New revelation will augment or add to previous truth, but will never oppose it. One cannot change a belief and claim “new insight” as justification—unless it can be proven there was no divine revelation initially. Either the old is wrong, or the new is wrong. Both cannot be divinely revealed, nor can both be correct, there is no such thing as “old light”, for God does not reveal error. God reveals only truth! Those who believe doctrinal changes can be justified on the basis of “new revelation” should ask themselves if what they previously believed was revelation also.

Character Proves Truth 

Paul wrote in I Thessalonians 5:21, “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.” How is it possible to prove anything without first trying it out? Common sense tells us the definition of “prove” demands a test! The Greek dokimazo used in I Thessalonians 5:21, means “to put to the test, to prove by testing.” Suppose you purchase an item which carries a guarantee. The product is warranted to perform a certain service. How does one tell if the item will perform according to promise? Obviously, by trying it out!

It is one thing to read the manufacturer’s promise of what the product is supposed to do, as opposed to testing the product to see what it will do. One can never know what a product will do until he tests it.

Why should the Truth of God be any different?

The Greek dokimazo and its cognates, often translated “prove” or “proof” in the King James Version, demonstrate clearly the meaning of “prove”—”to put to the test.” It is even translated as “experiment” in II Corinthians 9:13. It means to prove a matter by putting it to the test! Dokimee is translated “experience” in Romans 5:4.

Proving God’s Truth means putting it to practice in one’s life. “Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord” (Eph. 5:10) can be accomplished only by obeying God’s Word and observing the results in one’s life. This requires a change of mind and attitude which, in turn, leads to a willingness to perform spiritual service—rather than conforming to the desires of this fleshly life (Rom. 12:1–2).

It is only then that one is able to “prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” Make no mistake about it—one is not righteous unless he practices righteousness (I John 3:7). Likewise, one has not proven God’s Truth until he practices it. When he practices God’s Truth until it becomes habit, he has built character. Character cannot be built without two considerations. First, one must be able to distinguish right from wrong; and second, one must always choose the right in opposition to the wrong.

When God reveals spiritual truth to the individual, the first step is underway in the process of character building. But without the second necessary step, there can be no character. One can agree with what is right, but that does not build character. And it does not prove the truth. One must put the revealed Truth of God to practice in one’s life before any character can be built, and before truth is absolutely proven. The day is coming when every man’s work will be made manifest (I Cor. 3:12–15). It is then that all will know whether those who professed Consecration really believed it. Those who believed and proved it put it to practice in their lives!

Trials Enforce Truth

God allows trials or tests to befall His children. The reasons should be quite clear. So valuable are trials that James wrote, “. . . count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience” (Jas. 1:2–3). He then added, “Blessed is the man that endureth temptation; for when he is tried, he shall receive a crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him” (v. 12). Peter wrote, “. . . greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ” (I Peter 1:6–7). These apostles knew the purpose of trials. They knew trials enforce and build character in the life of the overcomer. They knew tribulation and trials were not intended to destroy character, but to help in the character-building process. But they also knew this could be accomplished only as each individual was able to act as a free moral agent. This is why, in the early Church, there was not the kind of enforced regulation that began to be practiced in more recent years.

For example: after the death of the Pastor in 1916, those who readily accepted the doctrinal changes—which were different from what they first believed—had never exercised true free moral agency in the character-building process. They did not prove what the Bible said. They did not prove where the Lord’s people were. But they did not prove God’s Truth by living according to their own personal convictions. They allowed the Organization to regulate their lives, actions, and convictions to the point where they were willing to accept anything they were told! Proving God’s Truth—by the kind of personal participation required to build character—did not take place in the lives of most of the brethren.

Many of those who left the organization, left because they were disillusioned with the leadership. Many among them were not convicted of God’s Truth, so they readily accepted the doctrinal changes advocated by the various leaders of the schisms. Those who remained in the organization after the doctrinal changes merely accepted what was taught—because they had been led to believe the Organization was now “God’s chosen vessel”, “Jehovah’s visible organization” on earth.  And those who left AFTER the doctrinal changes, did so with much of that baggage in hand. In neither case was the necessary conviction present to hold fast to the Truth.

Many were led to believe the Organization as a “divine channel” had the right to “change doctrine” and that these changes were “new light.” But what these brethren were not told was that these doctrinal changes were brought about to sustain the lifestyle of some in the leadership, who wanted to continue unscriptural practices. It never occurred to many at the time that the acceptance of these changes was the rejection of what had been Truth for some forty years!

Thus, the doctrinal confusion we witness today among the Lord’s people—a trial necessary to test His people—became the stumbling block for thousands who had never developed the necessary character to endure trials (Deut. 13:3). Had God’s people exercised free moral agency on their own—without the kind of pressure forced on them by the Organization—they would have been able to withstand the assault of Satan. But they didn’t. This trial—the enforcement of character and conviction—became the means for thousands to stumble and to reject divine revelation! 

Must Prove Self in Relation to Standard

“Proving the truth” means not only coming to understand doctrine as revealed by the Holy Spirit, but also putting this truth to practice in one’s life. Thus, the basis for conviction is the unchanging standard of God’s revealed Word! “Proving the truth” means proving self in relation to that standard. “Proving the truth” never means changing, or attempting to change, that standard! It is not our responsibility to challenge the truthfulness of God’s Truth. It is not possible to legitimately change revealed doctrine. Original truth cannot be “reproven” when doctrine is being changed. If one has the conviction and faith to believe that God did reveal truth, then further study substantiates it. If one does not believe truth is divinely revealed or never had the conviction to develop living faith in relationship to it, then “reproven truth” will indeed differ from original truth. But it will not be legitimate! It may be called “truth,” and arguments may be advanced to make it seem plausible—but it will not be truth!

Doctrinal changes cannot be the result of divine revelation if truth is revealed initially. For example, If the doctrinal changes made by Paul S.L. Johnson, the DAWN and other brethren are legitimate, then God never revealed truth in the first place! But God did reveal truth. It is impossible for Him to lie (Titus 1:2). Therefore, He revealed truth! If we assume God left the church in error during the forty years of Pastor Russell’s ministry, then Jesus was derelict and professing Christians of the world were right all along! But Jesus promised the Holy Spirit would guide His followers into all truth (John 16:13). If Jesus did not keep His promise, then we have no Savior! The blessings and growth the Lord’s people enjoyed during the Pastor’s ministry did not diminish until doctrinal changes were made. God does not make mistakes! It is human beings who make mistakes—and the biggest mistake of our time period is the attempt to change revealed doctrine under the guise of “new insight.”

“Proving the truth” means living it! As a result, two things are accomplished: (1) The self is proved in relationship to the unchanging standard of God, and the results are clearly seen in the individual’s life; (2) one proves whether he is called or not. Paul said those who are reprobates are those who have failed to exercise the Spirit of God in their lives (II Cor. 13:5). They did not live up to their calling.

As long as there was doctrinal agreement among the brethren, the majority did not forsake the doctrine. But the moment a choice which seemed  legitimate was made available, thousands could find no reason for remaining loyal to original truth.

The question: Were they ever convicted in the first place?

Obviously not!

Had they proven themselves in relation to the unchanging standard of God, and had they really seen the results of God’s Way in their lives, they would not have been so eager to change. Those who jumped on the “bandwagon of doctrinal changes” have lost for the most part, the purpose and meaning of life. Ecclesia meetings and conventions have become largely a social involvement, to which personal conviction and faith no longer have significance. Most brethren would now readily accept any new doctrinal change, no matter how bizarre for the sake of unity. Those who think they wouldn’t change have no idea how badly damaged their character and convictions really are!

How Can You Know?

Can the Consecrated really know if they are following God’s Truth and living according to it?

Let Jesus give the answer!

“. . . My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me. If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself” (John 7:16–17). This text states those who are willing to obey God will have no trouble understanding the true doctrine! Here again, we see the necessity to put God’s Truth to practice in one’s life in order to confirm its meaning. Jesus said one can know the truth by living it!

But knowing is not merely thinking one knows. Those who agree with true doctrine but do not put it to practice do not really know the truth. They think they do, but during a time of trial they would soon yield to temptation. One who thinks he believes a doctrine—but does not practice it—does not really believe it. For those who really believe a doctrine practice it.

In the acquisition of knowledge there are those who drink in knowledge and there are those who gargle it. Those who agree with doctrine intellectually—but do not put it to practice—are the garglers. They do not really take the truth into their lives. They play with it for a time, then eventually discard it. They do not really believe it and they are not really convinced. They do not know the truth! It is by experience only that one can truly know. It is one thing to know by instruction—and another to know by experience. When God said of Adam and Eve, “. . . Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil. . .” (Gen. 3:22), He was referring to man’s experience in sin. Adam and Eve had now learned by experience, what sin was—and the results were disastrous. Knowing is knowing by experience. Those who experience God’s Truth—by living it—are the ones who really know it. There is no other way!

Faith in God’s Truth

A manifestation of God’s spirit is faith (Gal. 5:22). Paul said that without faith it is impossible to please God. Whoever comes to God must believe in His existence, as well as in His Word (Heb. 11:6). God’s Word is the Bible. When one is called and his mind is opened to Bible truth, he must not only believe the Bible to be God’s Word—he must also believe the truth revealed to him from the Bible. And Christ is that Word personified. We are Christians when that same Word lives in us. The Christian must have faith in the revelation of doctrine. The Christian who does not manifest faith in the revealed doctrine of God is like a wave tossed on the sea. He does not know what to believe! Spiritual stability means believing and adhering to the true doctrine (Eph. 4:14). In order to have any basis for his faith, one must have faith to believe God reveals true doctrine.

The Christian must have faith in the faith!

There is only one faith (Eph. 4:5). Unless the Christian comes to know that faith—believes and practices it because he knows it is the revealed truth—he has no real spiritual foundation! The exercise of faith in the Christian life, means believing and putting to practice that doctrine originally proven to be God’s Truth. The Christian must have confidence in the truth. He must not allow anyone to subvert the faith and conviction he has in that truth. He must maintain confidence and belief in the divine revelation! If he believes the Bible to mean what it says (and it says God reveals truth by divine revelation), the true Christian will not be swayed by those who would have him believe otherwise. Faith in the faith is a manifestation of God’s Spirit and is a proof of true Christianity!

Truth Revealed Once Only!

In conjunction with divine revelation is the realization that truth is revealed only once! The Truth of God, which encompasses the entire message of salvation, applies once only to each called and chosen son of God. After that, it is the responsibility of each “called out” Christian to hold fast to it. Jesus Christ was not sacrificed repeatedly to allow those who fall away to return again and again. Jesus Christ was sacrificed one time—and one time only (Rom. 6:10, Heb. 7:27; 9:26–27; 10:10; I Pet. 3:18). Therefore, His shed blood applies to each Christian one time only! One cannot accept that shed blood, repent, live God’s Way, and then later repudiate it with the idea he can return to God any time he likes.

The truth is: Once one turns from God’s Way and the truth revealed through divine revelation, it is impossible to return! This is what Paul said in Hebrews 6:4–6. Paul said it was impossible for those who fall away to come to repentance again. This is because the shed blood of Christ applies only once to each individual, and the divine revelation of this truth comes once only! The unpardonable sin is unpardonable because the individual who rejects divine revelation—revelation which leads to a knowledge of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ—is never given revelation again!

When Jude admonished the brethren to contend for the faith once delivered, he knew it was the faith delivered one time only. It would not be revealed again (Jude 3)! God’s Truth cannot be treated lightly! Those who have accepted doctrinal changes are tampering with the very Truth of God! They are on dangerous ground! Of course, many do not know what they are doing. They assumed they have the prerogative to change doctrine. This is true only if that doctrine was not revealed! But if, indeed, that doctrine was revealed—then what has transpired with regard to doctrinal changes, has been the rejection of that revelation! Paul said this is a dangerous step—on the way to the unpardonable sin (Heb. 6:4)!

Requirements in Proving

In relation to “proving the truth,” there are certain requirements. We prove the truth by living according to the divine standard of God, given by revelation. This is not accomplished by agreeing only. This is accomplished by putting it to practice. It is only by living the Christian experience that one can know the results of God’s Way of life. This is the only way each called and chosen servant of God can truly know! This is the only way the Christian can prove the truth!

Understanding the Bible is one thing, but putting it to practice is another matter entirely. Character cannot be built on the basis of knowledge alone. Character can be built only by being forced to make a choice. The man who refuses to act on divine truth has already made a choice. Indifference is a negative response! Indifference accomplishes nothing. But understanding God’s Truth, and putting it to practice in one’s life, does. It is one of the requirements of proving the truth!

The truly consecrated will be living up to that truth to the best of their abilities. They will not be perfect, but they will not attempt to change doctrine in order to sustain questionable lifestyles. They know revealed doctrine does not change and they know they must live up to it.

“Proving the truth” never means to question, to challenge, or to change revealed doctrine. Those who feel they had a right to do so are saying “That Servant” never had the truth initially. We prove it by living it!  We prove its value in our lives by the benefits derived. Without putting it to practice there is no way to evaluate the results. But obedience to the truth must be done by a willing desire on the part of each Christian. Obedience is of little value if done through fear, peer pressure, the desire to belong, or by being “carried away” by the charisma of an individual. For the most part those who accepted doctrinal changes proved—by their willingness to change—they did not have the proof of God’s Truth in their lives!

“Proving the truth” never means that you, as an individual, can decide its validity. God has already decided that! The only prerogative you have is to decide whether or not you will obey. If God gave you the right to decide its validity you would be superior to God! We know better than that. Yet, when doctrinal changes were foisted upon the brethren under the guise of “new light,” a committee did indeed, set itself above God. God’s Spirit—as a source of inspiration to lead us to truth, as well as a source of power by which to overcome—was rejected. The doctrinal changes brought about by the Organization were an abandonment of the high standard of righteousness which Christ said Christians must eventually attain.

Truth is a revelation—given only to those called of God. Initial receipt of that truth

is a miracle in itself.

What about the necessity of proving that way? Most people have falsely assumed Acts 17:11 requires them to determine—prove—the veracity of God’s Word. Such a concept is totally unscriptural. Acts 17:11 states, “These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.” Were the Bereans “checking out” the veracity of God? Obviously not! Let us carefully note. They “received the word with all readiness of mind. . . .” How does one receive the truth?

By revelation!

Compare Acts 8:14, I Thessalonians 1:6, I Thessalonians 2:13, and II Thessalonians 2:10. In Acts 8:14, the apostles in Jerusalem learned that Samaria had received the Word of God. How did they receive it? Carefully read the story of that miracle, in verses 1–12.

Through the inspired preaching of Philip, those of that geographic area were made  recipients of God’s great blessing to man. They received it because God gave it. In I Thessalonians 1:6, the Thessalonians became followers of the apostles and of Christ because they received the Word! How? Through the Holy Spirit. Notice the last part of the verse. In I Thessalonians 2:13, Paul makes this point clear. We read,”For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.” Note very carefully, they did not receive it as the word of men—but as the very Word of God. Now, let us be honest! If one receives the Word of God, will he feel compelled to check the veracity of it? Not at all. That is how we would treat the word of men. But in the case of the Thessalonians, they received it not as the word of men.

Continuing our comparison, let us consider the last text listed above. II Thessalonians 2:10 states, “. . . with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth. . .” What is the problem encountered by those who have lost their way? They did not receive the love of the truth! What truth? The one and only truth which those called of God receive by revelation. That truth accepted by faith—the faith once delivered.

Note again Acts 17:11. The Bereans received the Word. Did they not search the Scriptures to see if those things heard were so? Indeed! But what does it mean? The word “searched” is the Greek word anakrino. This same word is used three times in I Corinthians 2:14–15. Paul was inspired to write: “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man.” The order of spiritual understanding is obvious. The natural man cannot receive God’s Truth. He cannot understand spiritual things. Therefore, God must first call. Then, after the call the truth is given. Once it is given the spiritually-oriented man understands.

From the above principles it is very easy to understand Acts 17:11. The called of God residing in Berea received the Word of God. It was accepted. They were now capable of understanding the recorded Word—the Bible. This process cannot be reversed. That is, natural man with a carnal mind cannot choose to read God’s Word, understand it and then—from this basis of understanding—evaluate (prove) God. To accept such an idea simply implies that physical man can understand God’s Word and is capable of evaluating God.

Therefore the conclusion of the matter is this: Let us shore up our faith in that way initially revealed. To fail this responsibility is to reject the Spirit—the very means by which the truth was sent to us and we received it.

The Christian Continues to Prove

The process of “proving” God’s Truth must continue throughout life. The converted servant of God must live God’s Way continually. He must constantly evaluate himself in the light of the true doctrine—checking himself daily (II Cor. 13:5, I Thess. 5:21). This is an individual matter between each Christian and his Creator (Gal. 6:4). The Christian must constantly, through study, drink in of God’s Word (II Tim. 2:15). And he must pray regularly (I Thess. 5:17).

This process must continue until the servant of God dies, or until the return of Jesus Christ—whichever occurs first. Those who die in Christ look forward to the resurrection. What a glory awaits them! This is because they accepted the Truth of God when it was revealed to them and they held fast for the remainder of their lives. It is this process—and this process only—which builds character. Any other way is an attempt to “enter in through the back door,” which Jesus said was impossible (John 10:1). It is those who recognize the Truth of God revealed to them—and who continue to practice it the remainder of their lives—who really prove the truth!

Spotted and Unspotted Robes

white robeNow that Christ has died for us, the application being made for us, the Church, we being covered with the merits of his atonement, he began to make at the time of his baptism when he began to make his sacrifice, we are now permitted to finish or fill up his sacrifice. Christ offered Himself without spot or blemish to God and because He was absolutely perfect, He was qualified to offer the sacrifice.

TYPE

The High Priest sacrificed the bullock, which represented our Savior, and the goat represented His body. The third day He was raised, not to the human nature, but to the divine nature.

In Hebrews 2:9, we read, “We see Jesus who was made a little lower than the angels, etc.” The eyes of our understanding have been opened. We begin to see what His sacrifice meant-an eye for an eye, kind for kind.

THREE PHASES OF THE WEDDING SUPPER

Before Christ’s sacrifice, there was a period of three and a half years special favor to the Jewish people as a nation. This was the first call; then there was another period of three and a half years of favor to that people as individuals. At the end of that period, they were cast off, broken off, this ended the second call; then the Lord turned to the Gentiles to take out of them a people for His name, this was the third call of the parable.

In 1874 the requisite number had been found or selected, but some were in there who had afterwards taken off the wedding robes, Christ’s imputed righteousness; and the Lord has been selecting others to take their places since that time.

WHAT IS IMPLIED BY A SPOTTED GARMENT?

The garment is Christ’s imputed righteousness. We are not actually righteous, but His righteousness is imputed to us. How can we spot this garment? By neglecting the Great Salvation, because it is given or loaned to us that we might be in position to take advantage of THE GREAT SALVATION. If we do not use it for the purpose intended, it becomes spotted by reason of contact with the world. Here is one way of neglecting the Great Salvation. A man does something that hurts another’s feelings; he says, I don’t care, he ought not to be so sensitive. The next day he does something more and worse, and so on from day to day. Neglecting to make progress grows more and more upon such a man, and he is now in such a condition that God will have to turn him over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh that the spirit may be saved in the Day of the Lord.

We should be very careful about spotting our robes, and if we see we have gotten a spot on them, we should quickly turn to the Lord and wash it away. If any man of the Church sins, we have an advocate with the Father.

THE MARK OF THE PRIZE

He said we were running according to the mark-perfect love. Having reached that condition, it is from that standpoint that we are to run. He said the best Greek rendering was that we press down or stand on the mark and run for the prize, our high calling.

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.

 

The Adversary’s Tactic

“For we are not ignorant of his devices.” – 2 Cor. 2:11.

AS WE PROGRESS toward the consummation of the Harvest, it should not surprise us that in every way the Adversary becomes more persistent in his attacks. Opposition to the Divine Plan of the Ages is on the increase everywhere. Slanderous misrepresentations are so unblushingly made as to carry a measure of conviction with them, to the injury of the Cause we serve.

What Satan cannot do against the Truth along the lines of logic, the Bible and common sense, he seeks to do through slanderous misrepresentations of all who take their stand on the side of Truth; and his opposition is incurred usually in proportion to the activity of the servants of the Truth. This opposition is to them a trial of faith and of patient endurance. It tests their loyalty to God, to the Truth and to the brethren. It becomes, likewise, a test of brotherly love to the household of faith. It does a sifting or separating work. “The Lord your God proveth you.” – Deut. 13:3. [

The same line of attack furnishes special trials for the church nominal – both wheat and tares. It gives opportunity for exhibitions of envy, anger, malice, hatred, strife, evil-surmising and evil-speaking. Thus many are being tested and their love of unrighteousness is being shown. “By their fruits ye shall know them.” (Matt. 7:20.) The thorn and brier classes, however closely affiliated with religious things, are not Vine branches. They do not bear the fruit of the Vine, but contrariwise are injurious to the Lord’s people. “The poison of asps is under their lips.” Some of them are courageous enough to make lies; others, less courageous, love the lies and are mean enough to circulate them. The advance of the Day of the Lord will ultimately reveal the true situation. Some will have shame and contempt, while others will shine as the stars forever and ever.

All who have the Spirit of the Lord, the spirit of meekness, gentleness, patience, long-suffering, brotherly-kindness and love – will be tested, too, along these same lines. The Lord’s will for such is that they should deepen and broaden their characters along all these lines in proportion as contrary temptations assail them. Thus more and more will they become copies of God’s dear Son, and the trials will assist in making them meet, fit for the Kingdom.

ACCUSER OF THE BRETHREN

Another of Satan’s devices is to discourage the Lord’s faithful disciples who are seeking to know and to do His will. The more conscientious they are, the more subject they will be to Satan’s suggestions of unworthiness, rejection, condemnation, Second Death. God permits this as a test or trial to faith. “Without faith it is impossible to please Him.” To be developed, faith must be tried with opposition. The more our faith is developed, the more pleasing in the Father’s sight we shall be. He would have our faith in Himself implicit, unwavering.

The Adversary, on the contrary, would destroy our faith. Sometimes he attempts this by misrepresenting God’s character as unloving, unjust, unkind, and sometimes by exaggerating our weaknesses and failures, to cause us to cease striving for the goal of Divine approval. He would have us give up in despair.

Persons who have been obsessed by evil spirits tell plainly that first of all the spirits personated God and His angels, advised prayer, etc. Afterwards they gave evil suggestions. By and by they gave both good and evil suggestions. The evil suggestions entertained, they would next condemn the individual for having entertained them. Finally all pretense would be dropped, and the individual would be told that he had sinned away all Divine favor and was wholly at the mercy of the evil spirits. Then would come suggestions of evil deeds or of suicide, the endeavor being made to drive the individual to a full surrender of his mind, his will, in order to full possession and mental unbalance.

The only remedy for persons in such a deplorable condition is that they exert their will power to oppose all such false suggestions. Nothing is so helpful under such circumstances as correct knowledge of the Divine teaching respecting God’s Love and the abundance of His merciful provision in Christ. Persons in this condition should be encouraged to cast themselves fully and unreservedly at the foot of the cross in the spirit of their minds – in fullness of consecration. Then in proportion to their faith they may lay hold upon the Lord in prayer for complete deliverance from the Adversary’s power. We know of no other way to get rid of the evil spirits.

There are also cases where the obsession has taken place and where the Adversary seems to be able to exercise an evil influence upon the mind, causing doubt, fear, alienation from the Lord. Generally “sin lieth at the door” – some violation of the soul’s covenants with the Lord. Such are in danger of great gloom, loss of faith, trust – everything. The cure for their case is a knowledge of God’s real character – His great Love and sympathy exercised through the Lord Jesus Christ and made available through Him to all who give their lives in full consecration.

Faith should triumph, or the light of joy and blessing will die. “According to your faith be it unto you,” is the Divine rule. Those who will not exercise the faith will never be acceptable to the Father for membership in the Kingdom class. Such must wait for the next Age and have different experiences. The Little Flock, the Elect ones whom the Lord is now choosing, must all be faith-full.

“THE WICKED ONE TOUCHETH HIM NOT”

The Apostle John declares that a certain course of conduct is possible in which the Adversary would be unable to touch us. (I John 5:18.) The picture brought before our mental eyes is that of a charmed circle, within which God’s people may come. This circle is not a fence, [R5148 : page 388] but merely a line of light, which can easily be overstepped. On the inside of that circle is the Lord’s favor. The very center of it is the Lord Himself, the Head of the Church. The exhortation of the Scriptures, the leadings of the Holy Spirit, and the providences of the Lord, all encourage His followers to press close to Him – “Nearer, my God, to Thee.”

Outside the charmed circle are the powers of evil. These are sometimes allowed to touch the earthly interests and temporal affairs of the children of the Light; but the demon influence is not permitted to really touch the New Creatures in Christ inside this circle. Over that line they cannot exercise their influence. But alas! lured by the world, the flesh and the Devil, some of the saints at times go too close to the line, perhaps pursuing some fleshly bait or golden bauble or earthly honor. Such the Adversary is ever ready to lay hold of, to drag them out into the darkness of sin, doubt, despair – further and further away from the Lord.

The lesson of this picture to all Spirit-begotten children of God is, “Abide in Him,” “Abstain from all appearance of evil,” “Draw near unto God,” “Press onward and upward,” “Take heed to yourselves,” “Forget the things that are behind,” “Mortify your flesh,” and earthly desires and ambitions, Keep close to the Master, that “the Wicked One touch you not.”

But we again remind any who may be touched by the Adversary and temporarily ensnared that God is full of loving-kindness, that His mercy endureth forever, for all those who desire to live in harmony with Him. While it is true that the nearer we get to the separating line, the nearer do we come within the range of the Adversary’s influence and power, and the weaker becomes the power of the Truth, the Spirit of the Lord, in our control, nevertheless, there is joy in Heaven over one sinner that repenteth, and the Lord will welcome the strayed sheep, even though He temporarily allow trying experiences. Ultimately to the returning one these experiences will prove valuable lessons, safeguarding against any further tendency to stray or to dally with earthly things.

 

Your Precious Faith

“That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ.” – 1 Pet. 1:7.
FAITH has in it the two elements of intellectual assurance and heart reliance. The former is faith in the abstract sense; the latter is its concrete form. It is in this latter, fullest sense we read that, “With the heart man believeth unto righteousness.” (Rom. 10:10.) Both the head and the heart – the intellect and the affections – are necessary to that faith without which it is “impossible to please God” (Heb. 11:6); though many fancy they have faith when they have only one of its essential elements. With some it is all emotion; with others it is all intellectuality; but neither of these can stand the tests of fiery ordeal: they must abide together if they are to endure to the end and be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ.

An intellectual grasp of the fundamental principles of divine truth – viz., of the existence of a personal, intelligent God, the Creator and Sustainer of all things, and of his purpose and plan of redemption through his only begotten and well-beloved Son, Jesus Christ – constitutes the foundation of faith; while trust and reliance to the extent of his promises, upon the personal God who is the author of our being and who, as a Father, invites the implicit confidence and love of his children, make up the superstructure of our faith.

The trial of our faith to which the Lord and the apostles refer is therefore a trial, not only of our intellectual recognition of divine truth, but also of our heart reliance upon God. In both respects every true child of God will find his faith severely tried, and, as a soldier of Christ, let him not fail to be armed for the conflict. If an attack is made upon the intellectual foundation of our faith we should see to it that we have a, “Thus saith the Lord,” for every item of our belief. Let the Word of God settle every question, and let no human philosophies, however ingenious, lead us into the labyrinths of error; for if the foundations of faith become unsettled, the superstructure cannot stand when the winds and the floods of adversity and temptation beat against it. Doubt and fear will cause it to tremble, and when it is thus weakened the vigilant adversary will surely send a blast of temptation against it, and great will be the soul’s peril.

Let us, therefore, look well to the foundations of our faith – study the doctrine and get a clear intellectual conception of every element of divine truth which the inspired Word presents to the people of God; let us become rooted, grounded, settled, established in the faith, the doctrines of God, and hold them fast: they are the divine credentials; and let us give earnest heed to them, lest at any time we should let them slip. – Heb. 2:1.

But having the doctrines clearly comprehended as foundations of faith, we need also to look well to the superstructure of heart reliance, which is really in greater danger from storms and floods than are the foundations, being more constantly exposed. The Apostle Peter tells us that a tried, proved faith, a faith that has stood the tests of fiery ordeal and come off victorious, is very precious in the sight of God. That is, that every time we pass through a conflict and still retain, not only the truth, but also our confidence in God and reliance upon his promises in the dark as well as in the light, our integrity of heart and of purpose, and our zeal for truth and righteousness, our characters have grown stronger, more symmetrical and more Christ-like, and hence more pleasing to God, who is thus subjecting us to discipline for this very thing.

Therefore, “Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you. But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings, that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.” (1 Pet. 4:12,13.) It is worthy of notice here that special reference is made, not to the tests of intellectual belief brought about by the presentation of false doctrine, but to reproaches and persecution for Christ’s sake, either for adherence to his doctrines or conformity to his righteousness; for, the Apostle adds, “If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you.” He warns us to take heed only that we suffer not as evil-doers, “Yet,” he says, “if any man suffer as a Christian [that is, either for Christian principles or Christian doctrine], let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God on this behalf.”

The Prophet Daniel also says that particularly in this time of the end, “many shall be purified and made white and tried;” and Malachi (3:2,3) compares the trials of this time to the “refiner’s fire” and to “fuller’s soap,” which are designed to refine and purify the Lord’s people. The Apostle Paul urges that we fight the good fight of faith, and patiently endure afflictions to the end. (1 Tim. 6:12; 2 Tim. 2:3.) And many are the words of consolation and blessed comfort offered by the Psalmist and others to the tempest-tossed and suffering people of God. – See Psa. 77:1-14; 116:1-14; 34:19; 31:24; 2 Thes. 3:3.

Are you then, dear brother or sister, hard pressed on every side with temptations to doubt that God’s protection, love and care are yours, that his precious promises belong to you? have you grown discouraged and disheartened? do the foes seem too many and too strong for you? do the reproaches come with crushing weight, and do the clouds hang heavy over your seemingly defenseless head? Ah, it is just here that faith must claim her victory! Is it not promised, “This is the victory that overcometh,… even your faith?” It is your faith that is on trial now. In the calmer days when the sun of favor shone brightly upon you, you were quietly laying the foundation of a knowledge of the truth, and rearing the superstructure of Christian character. Now you are in the furnace to be proved: summon therefore all your courage; fortify your patience; nerve yourself to endurance; hold fast to your hope; call to mind the promises, they are still yours; and “cast not away your confidence, which hath great recompense of reward.” “In quietness and in confidence shall be your strength, “Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him,” and faith has gained her victory. Then in due time the Lord’s hand will be recognized in making all things work together for good to you according to his promise. This proof of your faith, says Peter, is more precious than gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire.

 

Holding Fast at the Mark

THERE is no doubt that in the divine schooling there is a mark or standard of fitness for graduation to the Church in glory. When first we surrendered our wills to the Lord it was necessary that the consecration should be a whole or perfect sacrifice of our wills to the Lord’s will; but our wills were not at the mark or standard of perfect love. And if our experiences could be imagined as cut short in death immediately after our consecration we could not think of ourselves as “fit for the Kingdom,” because the rewards are not promised to consecrators, but to “him that overcometh.” Thus in the case of the Master himself, our forerunner, it was necessary that he should suffer and thus be proven worthy of entering into his glory. In a word, as the child cannot be graduated the day he enters school, no more can we who enter the school of Christ.

The rapidity of progress in learning the lessons depends greatly on our temperament and our zeal. Some evidently make as much progress in one year as others do in twenty, and very many never graduate at all – never reach the mark or standard which God demands, perfect love. The Word of God, our textbook, informs us that “Love is the fulfilling of the Law” (Rom. 13:10); that “The end or purpose of the divine commandment is love out of a pure heart and a good conscience.” (1 Tim. 1:5.) “As many, therefore, as be perfect [-willed, at the mark of perfect love] should be of this mind.” – Phil. 3:15-17.

Those who have “thus learned Christ,” he has taught the meaning of (1) perfected love toward God, which would prompt them to do and to dare anything in his service; (2) of perfected love for the “brethren,” which would prompt the laying down of life itself in their service; (3) of perfected love for the world, yea, even for enemies, which would lead to do good to them that hate us and despitefully use us, and say all manner of evil against us falsely.

Alas! we cannot suppose that many of the consecrated have reached this standard or mark; hence we must expect that few have graduated as “fit for the Kingdom”; hence also the intimation of Scripture that the left-overs – non-graduates – will be “a Great Company” as compared with the Little Flock of overcomers who do attain to the mark, the fixed standard. Here, however, it is well to remember that this “mark” or standard of love is not of the flesh but of the mind or heart. As the Apostle says, “We cannot do the things that we would.” Our blemishes of the flesh sometimes momentarily stumble us into an unloving word or act, which if repented of will not be reckoned against us nor put us away from the mark and the loving acceptableness of our Lord, which the mark represents.

“LET NO MAN TAKE THY CROWN”

“Hold fast that which thou hast; let no man take thy crown,” seems logically to refer specially to those who have reached the mark or standard of perfect love, and not merely to those who have taken the first step of consecration, entrance into the school of Christ. The words, “Hold fast that which thou hast,” implies a previous effort and attainment, and that the attainment has had something to do with the right to the crown; and that the position attained must be held if the crown would be ultimately possessed. The intimation is also clear that the holding fast will be at the cost of a severe struggle.

This may be a new and a somewhat startling thought to some who have erroneously supposed either that consecration alone was necessary, or that to attain the mark or standard of perfect love would end the struggle. Apparently, the severest struggles, tests, temptations, assail those who are at that mark, and this is in accord with our Master’s promise that we shall “not be tempted above that we are able to bear.” The stalwarts at the mark should be able to bear most and they will be most severely tried. Mark the exhortations to these, “Watch ye, stand fast, quit you like men.” No longer “babes in Christ,” “no longer children,” their special test is as men, strong in the Lord and panoplied in the whole armor of God. Hearken again to the Word: “Having done all, stand!” These words do not fit one entering the school or entering the race; they are most appropriate to those who have reached the standard of perfect love. Those who have “done all,” who have attained the mark of character and “put on the whole armor,” are the ones who are cautioned, warned, to “hold fast” and “stand fast” and “fight a good fight.”

“WHO SHALL BE ABLE TO STAND?”

These fundamental truths have been true and applicable to the Lord’s people throughout this Gospel Age, and hence the narrowness of the way and the few there be who have found and walked therein – in all a little flock. But now, more particularly than ever before, this warning applies and probably to a larger number of the Lord’s people than at any time in the past; because we are in the “harvest” time, when the ripening and gathering seems chiefly to apply. It is doubtless for this reason that so many Scriptures seem to specify our time in connection with these warnings. For instance, we read, “Take unto you the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand in the evil day, and having done all to stand!” – Eph. 6:13.

The logic of this situation implies that during the few years immediately before us will come the severest of trials and the most subtle tests of our love: (1) For God as represented by our love for his Truth and the honor of his name; (2) our love for the Lord’s brethren; (3) our love for our enemies. And whenever the “brethren” (of whom so much might be expected) become our enemies the test of our love will be the severer. In view of these things, “What manner of persons ought we to be, in all holy living and God-likeness?” In view of the solemnity of the situation, how “circumspect” we all should be! How we should scrutinize our every act and word and thought! And our thoughts require our special care, because by the thoughts and intents of the heart we are being judged. And words and acts proceed therefrom. How often ambition hides its envious desires under the cloak of duty! How many of the fires of the “Holy Inquisition” were lighted by the torch of “duty!” Let us each be on guard. Ourselves or others we might deceive, but not God, who says, “Be not deceived, God is not mocked; he that doeth righteousness is righteous” – not merely he who professes. He whose acts and words are loving, gentle, kind, considerate under trying conditions gives evidence of being begotten of the God of love and of having developed much Christ-likeness! Consider our Lord’s love for his enemies and his forbearance for them when railed at, “Come down from the cross!” Consider how, when reviled and slandered, he reviled and slandered not in return! Consider how gentle was his reproof of the perfidious Judas and how he merely hinted a reproof to Peter, who denied him with cursings! In his case surely Love was ready to cover a multitude of faults. Let us not be easily offended nor of implacable spirit. Let us with generous and forgiving spirit say with the Apostle, “None of these things move me” – from my stand at perfect love; it shall grow more rooted and grounded in proportion as it is tested. Let us also be on guard against the spirit which is envious of the honors, privileges and blessings granted to another. Contrariwise let us have so much of the spirit of love that we will rejoice with all who rejoice in the Lord and will mourn with all in distress. To feel even a coolness of sentiment in connection with the prosperity of a brother or a lack of interest in his welfare is a sign of serious danger – that we have slipped from the mark. This should alarm us and lead to fresh energy.

 

Is It Right to Judge?

Bible Students who are holding fast to the principles taught by Pastor Russell, are often times accused of judging those, who once say “eye to eye” with them, but who no prefer a “way” which has a broader outlook. WE have no desire to judge the hearts of those who oppose them, but if they did not judge the conduct and teachings of such, they would, indeed, be remiss in their duty as Christians. The following extracts are from the pen of That Servant, Charles Taze Russell:

“Judge nothing before the time.” . . . . now, in this day of the Lord’s presence, when the magnet of Divine Truth makes manifest those who have and those who have not an affinity for it . . . . it becomes our duty, as well as our privilege, to judge who is on the Lord’s side and who is against him . . . Everything is being dragged to the light, whether men are willing or not; for every hidden thing must be revealed. And not only the hidden things of creeds and systems of error and iniquity, but also the hidden things of individual character. Luke 12:2, 3

And among those whom we fellowship and bid Godspeed as faithful brethren in Christ, it is our duty to judge as to whether they are still faithful when the magnet of Truth makes their judgment so manifest in this day of the Lord; for it is written (2 John 10,11) . . . . Here is a responsibility with reference to our endorsement of another which we cannot ignore and still be faithful; and except we judge of one’s course by his fidelity or infidelity to the Truth, we shall be endorsing error quite as often as Truth. It is our privilege to know the Truth and to hold it firmly and to be faithful to it to the end, and if we so abide and walk in the light we will quickly know when one has turned away from the light into darkness.

In this article we are told of one way in which we shall know those who are “turning away” they “are advanced by the adversary as teachers angels or messengers of NEW LIGHT.”