FAITH, connecting the sinner with the perfect work of Christ, brings present acceptance before God, and eternal life as its blessed issue. The works of man‑ whether converted or unconverted avail not to obtain the pardon of sins, or everlasting bliss. God is a Sovereign, as is shown in his electing whom he will, sustaining their faith through a world of dangers, and glorifying them at last.
These truths were established at the Reformation, on the sure foundation of Scripture. Good works, it was seen, are the proofs of a living faith, and they are the true fruits of it. But this leaves untouched the further inquiry - WHAT ARE THE EFFECTS OF GOOD OR EVIL WORKS ON THE FUTURE POSITION OF ONE ALREADY JUSTIFIED? The ensuing pages open the enquiry to some extent; and they do so, in the only safe manner, by a consideration of some portions of Holy Writ which speak of these things.
1. The Scriptures affirm that all believers shall give account at the judgment seat of Christ: Rom. 14: 10-12; 2 Cor. 5: 9, 10; Heb. 10: 30.
2. They declare that the principle of judgment shall be according to works. That is, regard will be had both to the nature of the works, and to their degree of good or evil: Matt. 16: 24-27; Rev. 2: 23; 22: 12.
Does not, then, the New Testament suppose that believers are agents producing both good and evil works? Does it not anticipate that some would be guilty of sloth, or be found wanting in good works? What then shall be the issue of such investigation?
Can any inquiry be more important to the saint?
The merits of Christ are the answer to the demands of the law of God upon us, as responsible moral creatures who have broken his law. They free Christians from eternal death; they open to them eternal life. But the point to be considered is: Whether the Saviour and his apostles do not speak of an account to be rendered to Christ by his believing servants; when both their offences against professed servitude, and their actions in obedience to his claims will come before him?
The faith of Christians in general, as it appears to the author, embraces and enjoys present rest in God, through the work of Christ. But it has over-looked the doctrine of the future rest of the [millennial] kingdom as the reward for present exertion. Now faith in the kingdom will alone produce works meet for the kingdom.
The history of Davids mighty men, arranged in his kingdom according to their acts of bravery during the time of his rejection, is given as the principle to be applied to us. Twice is the record given; so important did the Holy Spirit consider it: 2 Sam. 23; 1 Chron. 11.
It is not expected that these truths will ever be popular. They boast no great names; they flatter not. They have to contend with the remains of evil adhering even to the saint. It is a novelty too; though old on the page of Scripture. The Christianity of the present age is much relaxing: the influences of the world are creeping on it and benumbing it. Do not Christians love to hear only of Gods mercy, and if their privileges? But we must also speak of the demands of the God of equity upon those gifted with privileges.
The doctrine here propounded stands on the passages adduced: though these are not all in which it is affirmed. The second Epistle of Peter, though not here touched on, is very full to the point. In the mouth of two or three witnesses every word shall be established, is the declaration of God. Here are more than twice three; and the reader may soon find others for himself. Should any desire to impugn these views: they must show that the passages adduced do not contain the doctrines supposed. If reward according to the [regenerate] believers works be taught in these and other Scriptures, objections drawn from other doctrines, or from the difficulty of reconciling the present text with seemingly conflicting testimonies of Holy Writ, will not be accounted sufficient. Does the Holy Ghost any where teach that loss will be inflicted on the believer for his evil works? Does he affirm, that reward in the kingdom is to be given to the believer in proportion to his works? If so, that is enough. The doctrine is established, all objections to the contrary notwithstanding.
In order that no mistake may arise, let it be clearly observed, that THE DOCTRINE OF REWARD FOR GOOD WORKS APPLIES ONLY TO THOSE JUSTIFIED ALREADY. Then the truth is ample guarded against being misapplied by the ungodly as the way to Justification. The doctrine of reward according to works does indeed affect the wicked also. Each act of trespass on their part is increasing their damnation. But that is not treated of here.
A second series of comments in corroboration of the truth established by the first, is now permitted to make its appearance. Perhaps some who may have hesitated in the face of the former evidence, will be convinced by this. But if any still doubt, let them search the New Testament for themselves. About a hundred and sixty passages affirm the doctrine, more or less.
The writer, by whom this great
principle has been introduced to the notice of the
This doctrine so potently contends against the selfishness and laxity of the [regenerate] believers in this latter day, that no one who considers the matter can expect that its career will be otherwise than stormy. It is as susceptible of being maligned as all other doctrines of God are. How then should this escape its day of battle? How should those who maintain it come off unscarred?
But, resting as it does on assertions of the word of God alone, it must triumph in every candid mind. And it cannot but affect materially the life of those who receive it.
It may appear perhaps to some who read the preface to the former series [as shown above], as if the doctrine arose in the mind of its present advocate, in consequence of speculation upon the abstract question, - How far the consequences of the works of believers will extend? This, however, is a misapprehension. The truth presented itself first on a study of the Scripture; and not as a consequence of any theoretic enquiry.
Is the doctrine of God? If it be, it cannot be overthrown. Not that all, even of believers, will receive it. But those who have the single eye, will perceive its amplitude of evidence and embrace it, in spite of the solemn awe of God which it produces, and the depth of our own responsibility which it discloses.
To the remarkable contrasts between the Epistles to the Romans and to the Hebrews, the author desires to add one which was overlooked.
Both Epistles treat of FAITH. Romans exhibits it as the source of justification without works. But Hebrews presents it as the fruitful parent of all holy deeds.
* * *
REWARD ACCORDING TO
believers are justified without works by faith in the righteousness of Christ
But another truth also asserted most distinctly in the same word of the Most High, is, that the [regenerate] believer will have to give account of himself to Christ at his appearing: and that reward or dishonour will follow that account. Nay, it is further attested, that the principle by which the Saviours distribution of recompense will be regulated, is, that each shall be dealt with according to his works. As the present tract is intended very briefly to touch this great question: the surest, the firmest, and the most speedy way of effecting conviction in the minds of [regenerate] believers, evidently is, to give the Scripture passages which affirm the doctrine.
1. JESUS WILL BRING HIS SAINTS TO ACCOUNT.
(a) But why dost THOU judge thy brother? or why dost THOU set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God. So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God: Rom. 14: 10, 12.
(b) With me it is a very small thing that I should be judged (examined) by you or by mans day: (marg.) yea, I judge not mine own self. For I am not conscious to myself of anything:* but he that judgeth me is the Lord. Therefore judge nothing before the time until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall each* have praise from God: 1 Cor. 4: 3, 5.*
* Authors translation from the Greek. Also as indicated below.
(c) Therefore we are ambitious,* that whether present or absent, we may be well-pleasing,* to him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that each may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad: 2 Cor. 5: 9, 10.*
(d) So speak ye, and so act, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty. For he shall have judgment without mercy that showed no mercy: mercy rejoiceth against judgment: James 2: 12, 13.
2. THE RULE, OF DISTRIBUTION TO EACH
IS ACCORDING TO WORKS.
(a) Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me. For the Son of man is about to come in the glory of his Father, with his angels, and then shall he reward each, according to his works: Matt. 16: 24, 27.
(b) I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. So then neither is he that planted anything, neither he that watereth, but God that giveth the increase. Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: but each* shall receive his own reward according to his own labour: 1 Cor. 3: 6, 8.
Does not this in effect declare, that no two [regenerate] believers will receive the same amount of reward?
(c) All the churches shall know that I am He which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give to each* of you according to your works: Rev. 2: 23.
(d) Behold I come quickly: and my reward is with me, to give to each* according as his work shall be: Rev. 22: 12.
Now to award according to works stands opposed the principle of acceptance of persons; or the giving to those in loftier stations greater rewards than their deeds call for, and overlooking those in inferior positions.
Such a principle, we are therefore informed, has no place with God: and the extremest case is taken as the occasion of denying it.
(e) Slaves,* be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ, knowing that whatsoever good thing each* doeth, the same shall he receive from the Lord, whether he be slave or free man. And ye masters, do the same thing unto them, forbearing threatening, knowing that your Master too is in heaven, neither is there respect of persons with him: Eph. 6: 5, 8, 9.
(f) Slaves,* obey in all things your masters according to the flesh: knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance, for ye serve the Lord Christ. But he that doeth wrong, shall receive for the wrong which he hath done; and there is no respect of persons: Col. 3: 22, 24, 25.
Also we are informed, that our future account will depend greatly upon the principle which we have acted upon in our dealings with one another.
(a) Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged; and with what measure ye measure, it shall be measured to you again: Matt. 7: 1, 2; Luke 6: 37.
(b) He shall have judgment (justice) without mercy, that showed no mercy; mercy rejoiceth against judgment: James 2: 13.
That is, if we act towards our fellows on the principle of justice, this will be one day brought to bear on us in apportioning our reward: and likewise, if we have taken mercy as our principle, with the same measure will it be hereafter meted to us.
But perhaps the enquiry will arise, - How can these statements be reconciled with other scriptures, which assert, that the [regenerate] believer shall never come into judgment, (John 5: 24,) and that we enter into eternal life a free gift from God?
To which I would reply, Whether reconciliation can be found or not, we must receive both of these truths. Both are affirmed by God, and both are to be believed, and acted on by His saints, whether they see the link that reconciles and unites them, or not. But moreover the passage from John is a mistranslation. It is really He that believeth, doth not come into judgment, but is passed from death to life.
We know that eternal life is a free gift, and that the ransomed will enter it of Gods grace: Rom. 6: 23. But two objects are set before our eye - ETERNAL LIFE, and the MILLENNIAL KINGDOM. Eternal life is the free gift. But the [Messianic] kingdom is the prize striven for: Phil. 3. Even in the [coming] kingdom there will be degrees, and in these different degrees will consist the differences of reward: and the appearing before Christ will be with a view to the apportionment of these. Life eternal is a bounty purchased by Christ, bestowed [upon all the regenerate] by God in his sovereignty. But equity will take the oversight and distribution of reward in its several decrees.
Behold the mighty multitude of the saved! All enter into glory through Him that loved them, and washed them from their sins in his own blood. But will all be equal in station and reward? Will Paul, that laboured more than all the other Apostles, receive only the same degree of glory with the dying robber, who, an hour or two before his decease laid hold of Christ, and was saved? Scripture, I am persuaded, teaches the contrary: and I would now offer to the candid believer some testimonies of Holy Writ, exhibiting some of the many forms which this solemn principle takes in the word of God.
3. THERE ARE DEGREES AND PECULIARITIES OF REWARD IN THE KINGDOM OF THE THOUSAND YEARS.
(a) He that receiveth a prophet in the name (character) of a prophet, shall receive a prophets reward: and he that receiveth a righteous man, in the name of a righteous man, shall receive a righteous mans reward. And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only, in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward: Matt. 10: 41-42.
Here are three different degrees of reward: the prophets, the righteous mans, and the reward of the cup of cold water.
(b) Verily I say unto you, among them that are born of women, there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist, notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he: Matt. 11: 11.
of greatness then in the
(c) At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them and said, Verily I say unto you, except ye turn and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven: Matt. 18: 1-6. (Greek.)
(d) Then answered Peter and said
unto him, Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have
there fore? And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto
you, that ye which have followed me - in the regeneration, when the Son of Man
shall sit on the throne of his glory - ye too (as well as myself) shall sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of
[* NOTE. The Greek adjective aionian, translated everlasting in this context, should be translated as age-lasting! Everlasting, Eternal or life for the ages of the ages - as the Greek language has it is what all regenerate believers presently have; it is a free gift of God (Rom. 6: 23, R.V.): and this type life cannot be forfeited, because it has been purchased in full at Calvary by our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
See also in Heb. 5: 9 where the above rule of interpretation must be applied: and having been made perfect, he (Christ) became unto all them that OBEY him the author (Gk. Cause) of eternal (Gk. aionian) salvation. This is, a salvation ready to be revealed at the last time, at the time of Resurrection; which is at the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls; and this can only happen at the revelation of Jesus Christ (1 Pet. 1: 5, 9, 13, R.V.).
The salvation of souls, is the fulfilment of Matt. 16: 18 at the time of the First Resurrection And I saw the souls of them that had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus, and for the word of God, and such as worshipped the beast, neither his image, they - (as distinct from the rest of the souls of the dead in Hades) - lived, and reigned with Christ a thousand years. Rev. 20: 4.]
reward of a throne for the twelve over each tribe of
(e) Jesus called them unto him and said, Ye know that the rulers of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and the great exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be so among you, but whosoever wishes to become great* among you, let him be your servant: and whosoever wishes to become*chief (first) among you, let him be your slave:* Even as the Son of Man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many: Matt. 20: 23-28.
To Peters enquiry, How the doctrine of watchfulness for Christs return applied to the rulers of the church, as distinct from the disciples in general? Jesus, replied:-
(d) Who then is the faithful and wise steward, whom his lord shall make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of meat [not only milk: they are expected to grow!] in due season? Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh, shall find so doing. Of a truth I say unto yon, that he will make him ruler over all that he hath: Luke 12: 42-44.
(e) There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for one star differeth from another star in glory. So also is the resurrection of the dead. 1 Cor. 15: 41-42.
In the heavenly heights there are three different classes of glories that of the sun, that of the moon, and that of the stars and in those very glories there are individual differences, such as exist between star and star.
[Note something Mr. Govett has not mentioned here: the different classes of dead saints, and their respective times for Resurrection! The better resurrection (Heb. 11: 35b), being one a thousand years before the last. That is, a resurrection of REWARD for disciples of Christ having done good works: for thou shalt be recompensed (rewarded) in the resurrection of the just (or righteous): (Luke 14: 14). See also Luke 20: 35; Phil. 3: 11.]
(f) The foundation of God stand sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity. But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour and some to dishonour. If any therefore purge himself from these (things), he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified and useful for the master, prepared for every good work: 2 Tim. 2: 19-21.
In this remarkable passage, the sovereignty of God in the election of his saints, and his unchanging purpose to bring them to glory, appear side by side with the declaration, that they are to maintain holiness and that if they do not, while they will enter the great house, they will be arranged, not amidst its vessels of gold or of silver, but of wood and of earth. Many are supposing the great house to be the church. Now this is a mistake. The future adjustment or our place is dependent on conduct now. On the contrary, by avoiding the things forbidden, they would be both now and hereafter vessels of glory employed by God in his purposes of glory.
(g) Giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness love.* If ye do these things ye shall never fall (stumble); for so the entrance into the everlasting kingdom of Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ shall be abundantly ministered unto you.
(h) The Lamb* stood on the
Thus a peculiar glory is given to those who have received that saying, which not all can receive:- Matt. 19: 10-12. As the Bridegrooms intimate companions they chant his marriage song, and attend his movements to and fro in the [millennial] glory.
(I) And he saith unto me, Write, blessed are the invited ones unto the marriage supper of the Lanib: Rev. 19: 9.
That this glory is not attained by all, the parable of the Ten Virgins shews.
(J) Then came the first (servant) saying, Lord, thy pound hath gained ten pounds. And he said unto him Well done thou good servant, because thou hath been faithful in a very little, have thou authority* over ten cities. And the second came saying, Lord thy pound hath gained five pounds. And he said likewise to him, Be thou also over five cities: Luke 19: 16‑19.
* Or, Know that thon hast authority.
The preceding texts prove, that in the coming [millennial] glory there will be great varieties and various degrees of reward.
But Scripture declares likewise that -
4. REWARD IS IN PROPORTION TO DIFFICULTY OVERCOME;
AND IS GRANTED TO SUFFERING FOR CHRIST
AS WELL AS ACTING FOR HIM.
(a) Blessed are ye, when men shall revile and persecute you, and say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: Matt. 5: 11-12.
(b) Then came to him the mother of Zebedees children with her sons, worshipping him, and desiring a certain thing of him. And he said unto her, What wilt thou? She saith unto him, Grant that these my two sons may sit, the one on thy right hand, the other on thy left in thy kingdom. But Jesus answered and said, Ye know not what ye are asking for, Are ye able to drink of the cup that I am about to drink, and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with? They say unto him, We are able. And he saith unto them, Ye shall indeed drink of the cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with; but to sit on my right hand and on my left is not mine to give, except to those* for whom it has been prepared by my Father: Matt. 20: 20-23.
The Saviour then acknowledges diversity of places in the glory. He only warns the petitioners of their ignorance of the truth that peculiar glory must first be balanced by peculiar suffering.
(c) It is a faithful saving: for if we be dead (if we died) together with him we shall also live together with him. If we suffer, we shall also reign together with, him: if we dent him, he also will deny us: 2 Tim. 2: 11, 12; also 1 Peter 4: 12, 13, 16.
To die with Christ belongs to every saint: and therefore all will live with him. But not all suffer with Christ and for Him, and therefore not all will reign with him during the thousand years.
(d) Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I also confess before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven: Matt. 10: 32, 33.
(e) If ye love them that love you, what reward have ye? Do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? Matt. 5: 46.
Our Lord therefore teaches, that there is no reward for actions to which even the fallen sons of men are competent because there is no difficulty: while the severer the difficulty, the greater the glory.
In this principle, therefore, a noble scope for holy ambition is thrown open. That facility of the soul which pants for glory is implanted of God. In the natural man, it is, like every other power of the soul, misdirected; and leads him away from God, and from true glory at the same time. But God has spread a wide field of ambition before the eye of the [regenerate] believer; and not only permits, but exhorts, him to pursue it. He has set before our eyes five crowns, as REWARDS for different kinds of SERVICE; and each may, by divine grce, win not only one, but several. Let us pass them in review.
FIRST CROWN - THE CROWN OF
(a) Know ye not, that those who run in a race, run indeed all of them, but one (only) receiveth the prize? So run that ye may attain [i.e., gain by effort.]. And every one that enters the contest, is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown: but we an incorruptible. I therefore so run, not as uncertainly: so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: but I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection; lest by any means, after having acted the herald to others, I myself should be rejected: 1 Cor. 9: 24-27. (Greek.)
The crown promised above appears to belong to those who use self-denial in subduing the lusts of the flesh. He that sows to the flesh, reaps of it corruption:* he that sows to the spirit, reaps of it incorruption, and the crown of incorruption. For the [lust of] flesh is an enemy to be conquered, and to the victor is promised the crown.
[* NOTE. The corruption here, must refer the bodies of saints; their souls cannot corrupt, but descend into Hades at the time of death. Therefore, that corruption which regenerate believers can reap - for not seeking grace and strength to subdue the lusts of the flesh - can only last a thousand years after the resurrection of overcomers at the time of our Lords return. It also has reference (I believe) to the pre-tribulation rapture of watchful saints who prevail to escape all the things that shall come to pass the Great Tribulation events, Luke 21: 34-36; Rev. 3: 10, 11.]
SECOND CROWN - CROWN OF REJOICING.
(b) For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye, in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his appearing? 1 Thess. 2: 19.
This is offered to those who have been the means of converting souls from the errors and enmity of nature. But there is another crown for those who rule the saints.
THIRD CROWN - CROWN OF GLORY.
(c) The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness to the sufferings of Christ, and also partaker of the glory that is about to be revealed: feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind. Neither as being lords over Gods heritage, but being examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive the unfading crown of glory:* 1 Peter 5: 1-4.
* The article has been omitted by the translators in this case and in very many others. Errors concerning the article constitute one of the principal faults of the English translation.
FOURTH CROWN - THE CROWN OF
(d) I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; henceforth there is laid up for me the crown, of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge shall give me in that day: and not to me only, but to all them also that have loved his appearing: 2 Tim. 4: 7, 8. (Greek.)
This crown then is proposed to every [regenerate] believer who maintains the good fight with his spiritual adversaries, who is stedfast in the faith, and looks with holy desire for the coming of Jesus.
FIFTH CROWN - THE CROWN OF LIFE.
(e) Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for having become approved,* he shall receive the of life, which the Lord promised to them that love him: James 1: 12.
(f) Fear none of the things which thou art about to suffer behold the devil is about to cast some of you into prison that ye may be tried: and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee the crown of life: Rev. 2: 10.
This last crown is specially for the endurance of persecution and martyrdom for Christs sake.
We are informed too, that HUMILITY or PRIDE manifested in this life, will exercise the utmost influence upon our FUTURE REWARD.
(a) Neither be ye called leaders*: for one is your leader, the Christ. But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant. Now whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased: and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted: Matt. 23: 10-12; 18: 4; Luke 18: 14; 1 Peter 5: 5.
And he put forth a parable to those that were bidden, when he marked how they chose out the chief seats, saying unto them, When thou art bidden by any to a wedding-feast, sit not down in the highest seat; lest a more honourable man than thou be hidden by him; and he that bade thee and him come and say to thee, Give this man place: and thou begin with shame to take the lowest place: But when thou art bidden, sit down in the lowest place; that when he that bade thee cometh he may say unto thee, Friend, go up higher: then shalt thou have glory in the eyes of those who sit at meat with thee. For whosoever exalteth, himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted: Luke 14: 7-11. (Greek.)
The force of the parable is this,- There are two estimates of our value; the one, our own; the other, Christs. Our own estimate has scope to display itself now, for, like guests assembling, we may choose our place: and as there are different places of honour for different ranks, the seat we take is the manifestation of the estimate we have, formed or =f ourselves. But the guests estimate of himself is not the real one: nor is the seat he takes the lasting place he is to assume. The Master of the feast, the Lord Jesus, is coming, and He will at length and finally assign the place of each of the guests. It becomes us therefore to be jealous, of our own thoughts of ourselves, and to heighten our thoughts of the other guests. For if we have taken too high a place, we shall be displaced with shame before the assembly of the saved. But if we have voluntarily placed ourselves too low, Christ at his coming will set that right: and His award to us of a higher post will give us glory in the eyes of all the ransomed and risen saints.
But do objections occur to the minds of some? I will notice one or two that are most commonly made.
Objection 1. First then, it may be said, that the parable of the Labourers in the Vineyard proves, that there, will be no difference of reward; for all the labourers, at whatever times they were hired during the day, receive but an equal recompense at the close.
To this we must reply, First, that we may not rest upon a parable as proving anything contrary to the clear, unambiguous statement of a principle in Scripture. For, owing to the mystery that clothes the parable, it is very possible that we may have mistaken its meaning. Secondly, the parable in question does not refer to the recompense of individuals, but of classes and dispensations; as will be apparent to any one who studies the parable.* But thirdly, the equal recompense of all the labourers, refers to their all alike enjoying eternal life. Thus, the principle of reward according to works is untouched by the parable of the vineyard-labourers.
See, for explanation of the parable, The Jews, the
Gentiles, and the
Objection 2. Others, unwilling to admit differences of reward hereafter, have said, that all such reward is spoken of as being bestowed on the saints in this life.
But such a statement is refuted by many of the texts already brought forward, and by others now to be cited. For the Saviour more than once cautions His [redeemed] disciples against receiving their reward now. Thus:-
(a) Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen by them; otherwise ye have no reward from your Father which is in heaven. Therefore, when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verify, I say unto you, they HAVE their reward: Matt. 6: 1-2.
That is, The Pharisees obtain in this life [or age] the reward of their good works; but be it not so with you: do you seek to obtain yours hereafter [i.e., in the age to come] from your Father on high. And the word made use of is very expressive - They have their reward off-hand. (See the Greek.)
(b) Then said he also to him that bade him, When thou makest a dinner or a supper call (invite) not thy friends nor thy brethren, nor thy kinsmen, nor thy rich neighbours; lest they also bid thee again and a recompense be made thee. But when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind: And thou shaft be blessed, for they cannot recompense thee; for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just: Luke 14: 12-14.
Moreover in passages before quoted, the time when each shall receive his reward according to his works, is declared to be at the appearing of Jesus: (Matt. 16: 27; 1 Cor. 4: 4, 5). It is when the Master of the feast comes in, that the humble guest is to be raised from his lowly place, and to have, glory in the, eyes of the rest: Luke 14: 7. It is after we fail that we are to give account of our stewardship, and to be received by the friends we have made during life: (Luke 16: 9.) And the crown of life (together with the others) looks forward to recompense as to be expected only after faithfulness unto death: (Rev. 2: 10.) But so clear is this point, that the full strength of the proof of which it is capable, is not attempted to be given.
But there is a very interesting illustration of the subject more than once used in Holy Scripture, which, with the Lords blessing, will confirm and seal the principle more strongly yet upon the [regenerate] believers heart. Whit is the relation, then, in which our present acts stand to the future reward? Let us listen to the Apostle and teacher of the Gentiles.
(a) But this I say, he which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bounteously shall reap also bounteously; 2 Cor. 9: 6.
(b) Be not deceived: God is not mocked; for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his own flesh, shall out of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit, shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting [Gk. aionian life; i.e., age-lasting life]. And let us not he weary in well doing, for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good unto all, but especially unto them who are of the household of faith: Gal. 6: 7, 10. (Greek.)
In the above passages we are taught, that our present deeds stand related to the future [Millennial] glory, as the seed does to the harvest. Harvest is Gods natural recompense of the labourer: and, this is fixed on as the appropriate image to teach us concerning Gods future and eternal [age-lasting] recompense. There is no harvest without the sowing of seed; so that he who sows not, even while he obtains eternal life [as a free gift purchased in full by Christ Jesus], will not attain the reward offered. But moreover, as in nature the quantity gathered into the barn is in the main according to the quantity sown; thus it will be strictly in eternity. The liberal giver will meet abundant sheaves in the kingdom; the sparing giver will reap according to his niggard gifts. Thus the Apostle teaches us, that our future harvest (in a sense) depends on ourselves. Such as the sowing is, such will be the reaping. But the emblem is most special. The harvest is not an average and general balance struck; it is the exact result of the grain sown. The sower may not remember how many grains he cast into the soil; but there is not an ear there, for which there, was not a seed committed to the soil. And thus our recompense will be the exact result and. Requital, not of our deeds in the main and on the average, but each special act will contribute its part and portion to the amount even as the harvest is the exact aggregate of every seed sown.
Every holy deed then of each saint is increasing his reward; it is seed, incapable of perishing. The corn of earth may be destroyed by the seasons, disease, the depredation of animals, or the violence of the plunderer: but not so the acts of men, which are the seeds of eternity.
The same principle, applies to the ungodly. Recompense will be awarded to the wicked also according to their works. For among them also there are degrees of sin, and differences of damnation.
shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or
city, shake off the dust of your feet.
Verily I say unto you, it shall be more tolerable for the
(b) Woe unto you scribes and pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows houses, and for a pretence make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive greater damnation: Matt. 23: 14; Luke 20: 45.
(c) All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men, but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men: Matt. 12: 31.
The wicked therefore may be, exhorted on this ground to abstain from sin. Young man! Do you not recklessly rush into sin, contenting yourself with the thought that do what you may you can but be damned at last! Nay, but there are degrees of damnation; and every fresh crime entails a heavier load of punishment, is heaping up more of agony, and treasuring to yourself a greater wrath against the day of wrath.
The same principle also applies to the transgressions of the saint. Each trip and stumble, and open offence of word or deed, is diminishing his reward hereafter. And therefore the word of God gives us cautions not a few; and teaches us that to the erroneous teacher, the careless, worldly, cowardly, covetous, sectarian believer, there will be shame, rebuke, and even loss of the [millennial] kingdom. For what mean such words as these?
(a) Now if any man build upon this foundation, gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; the work of each shall become manifest; for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed in fire; and the fire shall try the work of each, of what sort it is. If any ones work abide, which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any ones work be burned, he shall suffer loss; but he himself shall be saved, yet so as through fire:* 1 Cor. 3: 12-15.
What can this mean, but that each teacher shall be held responsible for the doctrines he has taught? If he have taught the truths of God, he shall, after his teaching has undergone the scrutiny of Christ, receive reward. If his doctrine has been merely or mainly the traditions of men, he shall barely escape at last with eternal life, but experience loss and shame, like one escaping in terror through a house, on fire.
(b) The just shall live by faith; but if he draw back,* my soul shall have no pleasure in, him: Heb. 10: 38.
(c) Abide in him, that when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming: 1 John 2: 28.
(d) Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but, that we receive a full reward: 2 John 8.
(e) If any
* The addition of any man is unwarrantable.
(f) Behold I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watchcheth, and keepeth his is garments lest he walk naked, and they see his shame: Rev. 16: 15.
(g) At my first defence no one stood with me, but all forsook me; may it not be laid to their charge: 2 Tim. 4: 16.
is an actual fact, a sin of omission on the part of the saints in
This passage has struck me more than almost any.
(h) Let no one deprive you of your reward by an affected humility, and worshipping of angels: Col. 2: 18.
(I) That servant which knew his lords will and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be be beaten with, many stripes. But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him will they ask the more: Luke 12: 47-48.
Beloved, are these thing so? Then how much of mischief has
arisen from narrow and one-sided views of the word of God! The
Protestant teacher has seen that we are justified by faith only; but has
depreciated good works, fearing lest the pernicious doctrine of
When we see that God presents two objects to us, and sets them on different grounds, the difficulty is removed. Eternal life is ours as soon as we believe, but to enter the millennial kingdom is a matter of reward. Let us put then good works in their due place, and then exhort to them.
(a) For the grace of God teaches that denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, and godly, in this present age, looking for the blessed hope and appearing of the glory of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people zealous of good works. These things speak and exhort, and rebuke with all authority: Titus 2: 12-15. (Greek.)
Thus the preaching of good works is commanded: and the very end of Jesus death was to procure a people zealous for good works.
(b) This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God be careful to maintain good works: Titus 3: 8.
But to conclude. It has been customary to take for granted, that every believer, in virtue of his faith, fulfils all the commands of his Lord. But is this true? It is usual to suppose, that all the saints, when they appear before our Lord Jesus Christ, will be received with joy. But do not several Scriptures teach that some will be ashamed before Him at His coming; and speak of confidence, joy, and praise, in the presence of Christ, as peculiar blessings, to be carefully sought?
(a) My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue, but in deed and in truth. And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him: 1 John 3: 18-19.
(b) God is love: and he that dwelleth in love, dwelleth in God, and God in him. Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because, as he is, so are we in this world: 1 John 4: 16-17.
(c) The Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another and toward all, even as we do toward you, to the end he may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints: 1 Thess. 3: 12-13.
With deep solemnity would I take leave of the subject, commending it to the careful and prayerful regard of all the saints: desiring that they may see in it a call to exercise all their opportunities and powers for God, and to burn with a holy ambition for the glories of the [millennial] kingdom. And, on the other hand, a sense of our infirmities and many trespasses should teach us to hold fast grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: For our God is a consuming fire: Heb. 10: 28, 29.
- ROBERT GOVETT.
* * *
Cultivate deeper knowledge of Scripture and of Christ. There may indeed be knowledge without correspondent practice: but there will not be the right practice without corresponding knowledge. Be careful to maintain good works. They are the signs of being a child of the [Millennial] Kingdom. They are a token of your being nigh to the blessing promised to the good land.
Believer, would you have the full assurance that the promises of millennial glory are yours? Be diligent. As with advancing knowledge and increasing grace are co-joined confident expectation of the blessing, and the assurance of hope; so, with declining grace come ignorance, indifference even to the first principles of the gospel, and the peril of final apostasy.
The Lord give His people more of Abrahams faith and patience; yea, grant them to tread in the footsteps of Jesus. While works do not save us, they are yet ever telling on our account, ever looking forward to the DAY OF RECOMPENSE. May we seek to be rich in them.
* * *
THE REWARD OF THE
Servants, obey in all things them that are your masters according to the flesh; not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but in singleness of heart, fearing the Lord: whatsoever ye do, work heartily, as unto the Lord, and not unto men; knowing that from the Lord ye shall receive the RECOMPENSE OF THE INHERITANCE: ye serve the Lord Christ. For he that doeth wrong shall receive again the wrong that he hath done: and there is no respect of persons: (Colossians 3: 22-25, R.V.).
Perhaps it is a commonplace to say that salvation is by grace. Eternal life is a gift, the gift of God. By grace are ye saved through faith, not by any works of righteousness which you can do. He that believeth and is baptised, shall be saved. God so loved the world that He gave His Son, and to those who receive this precious Saviour the right is accorded to become sons of God. We gladly worship and adore the Author of this great and eternal salvation from the penalty and the power of sin.
In his Epistle to the Colossians, Paul writes, Since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward (3: 24), and placing our emphasis upon the word reward, we proceed to ask what Paul means by this. Is it possible that this man, the foremost exponent of the freeness of Gods salvation, who was himself an outstanding example of the operation of sovereign grace, is here suggesting that eternal salvation comes to a man as a reward for his service rendered? No, by no means. He knew full well and unalterably knew that he had begun in grace, and there can be no falling away from that glorious position. Grace must lay the foundation, and one day crown all with the top-stone. He would be turning back again to weak and beggarly elements if he weakened in any way, and yet he speaks of an inheritance from the Lord as a reward.
Did he mean that after all, even with all that he has said and has done, there is some sense in which eternal life can be merited and salvation earned? Again we emphatically repeat - no, not at all. He does indeed write of the inheritance as being a reward for service rendered, but it is perfectly plain that he was addressing those who already possessed eternal life, and he regards them as being already risen with Christ (verse 1).
The reward of the inheritance
therefore is not a permit to enter into Heaven at last; it is not a bestowal of
the right and authority to become a citizen of the New Jerusalem. These
are already indisputably assured to all
who accept Christ, and place their confidence alone upon the finished work of
the Lord Jesus upon
Elsewhere in His Epistles Paul deals with this truth in a somewhat different fashion. To the Corinthians he writes that there are some whose work shall be shown for what it is. If what he has built survives, he will receive a reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss (1 Cor. 3: 14, 15). It is not the believers standing, which is at risk, but that which he has built upon the foundation.
Looking again at
Pauls words we find that they constitute clear instructions on the matter of this [future] inheritance, as and how its value may be
enhanced to the [regenerate] believer. Because the
inheritance into which he will one day enter and
enjoy, is a reward, therefore let
him strive diligently to make it ever an increasing magnificent place and
condition. What a powerful incentive this should be to all who are
already saved by grace through faith in Christ, and who presently enjoy His
salvation! What a joy it will be to have something to lay
at His feet in that transcendent hour! How poor will those be who have
earned little for this glorious day! Of course, even to get into the
These being the facts then, Christian friend, why do you bend all your energies to get to yourself rewards here and now and give such scant attention to the future inheritance? Can it be that you are really more concerned about what men think about you in this present evil day, and more interested in your appearance before them, than you are about how you will look before the Lord at His Judgment Seat? How strange is the earnest devotion which so many Christians give to the pursuit of the material things of today, in comparison to the slight attention given to securing for themselves a suitable reward hereafter! An unsaved man foolishly rejects the offer of mercy and that to his everlasting loss; and meanwhile his saved neighbour unwisely neglects the REWARD in Glory which might be his and gives his best efforts to get hold of what he can enjoy but for a brief time.
How then can a Christian lay up treasure and receive this inheritance? Paul gives the Holy Spirits formula in verse 23. His instructions are plain and complete: Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men. Here is the secret made plain. You are eternally saved - praise God for that. Now as to reward - live only for Jesus. See Him as your Master, the One for whom you are working. Hence do everything, the big things and the small matters, as unto Him and not as to men. From morning till night walk as if His eyes were upon you. Let nothing enter into your life which you know He would not altogether approve. Thus you will be serving the Lord Christ who loves you dearly, and who laid down his life to redeem you. And serving Him, assuredly He will pay you and pay you well. The thought of the reward of the inheritance should constrain you and be an impetus for the best work you can do. In a word, consecrate your all to Him, yield yourself to God, live only for Him, serve Christ and not men.
This is the high ideal. It is our reasonable service. Give it unrestrainedly, and the day is coming when you will rejoice that you did not hold back. Refuse the appeal, do not respond and you will be saved, and have nothing to show for your life. Why seek an easeful estate now and miss this rich inheritance which might be yours by serving the Lord on the mission field or in some ministry of love which would cost you something for His sake? Why spend so much of your powers for present passing things which breed vanity and emptiness, when the highest service beckons you, and meanwhile will fit you for an infinitely larger enjoyment of God in the age to come. Serve the Lord and you will never regret it. How sweet it will be to be greeted by our blessed Lord, with the words Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance the Kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. There is no anticipation so glorious as this.
* * *
No believer will be brought before the judgment before Christ, to determine whether or not he is justified by faith: all believers have already received that, by the grace of God. Therefore, he is no longer an enemy, but a servant. He most certainly is eternally saved. But our Lord and His Apostles teach that all servants will give an account to Him regarding their behaviour since they first believed, and will be rewarded or punished, according as their deeds deserve, (Romans chapters 2; 14: 10-13; 2 Corinthians 5: 10 - to take no more passages). This is the doctrine of several of our Lords parables; such as the Unmerciful Servant, the Steward, the Talents, and the Pounds. What means that Its like a man going away: He leaves his house in charge of his servants, each with his assigned task, and tells the one at the door to keep watch. Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back - whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the cock crows, or at dawn. If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping. What I say to you, I say to everyone: Watch! (Mark 14: 34-37). Is it not true to say that the vast majority of Christs servants are asleep? dreaming that the world is getting better, and is about to be converted by the preaching of the Gospel of Gods grace? Will they receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward?
* * *
THE REWARDS FOR
By D. M. PANTON, B.A.
That by overcomers our Lord does not mean believers in general, the
mixed mass of the saved, but - as the word implies - a faithful and conquering section only,
is put beyond all doubt by one crucial and decisive case. Thou hast a few names, He says to the Sardian Angel (Rev.
3: 4) - names; as though looking over the Angels shoulder at the
church roll lying open before Him - who, because clean-robed, should one day walk with Him in white. These few, walking in sanctity, cannot be the only regenerate
souls in Sardis; for the Lord accepts the whole church as an ecclesia, that is, a body of the vitally out-called; and the dead Angel
himself, who is not among the few names, is
reminded of his conversion Remember how thou hast received, and didst
hear. Throughout the Letters it is he that overcometh
an overcoming church, nor even an overcoming group, but the solitary saint shining like a star above
a corrupt church and a midnight world. Every one of the Churches our
Lord thus separates into two sections: only a perfect church could consist of
one division alone, and He names no such church: seven times He holds out
peculiar glories matching exceptional nobility, and
seven times the gravest warnings (by implication) ever given to the servants of
In the words of Bengel:- There is a remarkable difference between each address and
each promise. The address has immediate
respect to the seven Churches in Asia, and consequently also to all churches
and pastors, in all times and places: the promise, on the other hand, is given
forth to all spiritual conquerors, not excluding those in
THE TREE OF LIFE
The first promise
takes us back into the dawn of the world.
* These promises all refer to the blessings of the future state of glory (Alford).
** There can be no reference here admitted to the lower
THE CROWN OF LIFE
The only two
churches which are blameless are the only two which are warned of persecution;
and the promise to
* Before the end no man is crowned; though from the beginning, and throughout all the conflict, the crown is held out and exhibited as a reserved treasure (Stier). When one of Napoleons generals asked him for a marshals baton, It is not I, said Napoleon, that make marshals; it is viciory.
THE WHITE STONE
To the overcoming Pergamite is promised a reward second to none in its
exquisite wonder. It is the loftiest peak
of intimacy with God ever revealed in the Bible, and ever experienced in
eternity. To him that overcometh, to him will I give the
hidden manna - hidden because, as
angels food (Psa. 78: 25)
and bread of heaven (Psa. 105: 40), it is at present invisible* - and I will give him a white stone - both white and lustrous, probably a diamond and upon the stone a new name
written, which no one knoweth but he that receiveth it (Rev. 2: 17). This marvellous gift is probably a duplicate
of the Urim and Thummim; on
which appears, in divine crystal vision (of old seen by the High Priest alone)
a new name; a new name
expressive of a new blessedness, and a consequence of the new life kept new. The
conferring of a new name by our Lord always signified final approval as Kingdom
saints: so, in human honours, Scipio Africanus,
* The hidden manna represents a benefit pertaining to the future Kingdom of glory (Lange).
The promise to
Thyatira reveals, among other things, the critically important truth that these promises and warnings are
purely and solely Millennial. He that overcometh, and he that keepeth - watchfully performs, obeys (M. Stuart.) my works - both the example and the precepts of Christ* - unto the end therefore these promises are never fulfilled in this life;
the end of trial or probation, or of life, is here meant (Moses Stuart)**
- to him will I
give authority over the nations
I will make him
king (Moses Stuart) and he shall rule them with a rod of iron
(Rev. 2: 26). He who conquers, as Dr. Swete says, is he who keeps: works are in these addresses to the
Churches constantly used as the test of character. The Only Begotten Son of God imparts to His
brethren, in so far as their sonship has been confirmed by victory, His own
power over the nations. That this royal rule is confined to the
Millennium is certain from nations shattered as pottery: crushed or shivered as multitudinous fragments collapsing
into an heap (Alford): because
rebellious nations, foretold as in the Kingdom (Zech. 14: 18),
are unknown in the
* Here is a grave proof that believers who, on principle, dissociate themselves from the body of our Lords teaching on the ground that it is Jewish will, in that day, experience the saddest disillusionment.
** So long as a man still lives on the earth, however far he may have attained, he cannot say, I have overcome (Hengstenberg). The highest that is now possible is a strongly assured hope: We desire that each one of you may show the same diligence unto the full assurance of HOPE even to the end (Heb. 6: 11).
*** He that overcometh shall be present at the first entrance and dawn of my true Kingdom over the nations, and share it with me (Stier). The comment of Victorinus is:- I will give him the first resurrection.
The Sardian promise gives, more than any other, the direct relationship between sanctity and glory. He that overcometh shall thus be arrayed in white garments; and I will in no wise blot his name out of the book of life, and I will confess his name before my Father and before His angels (Rev. 3: 5). The little band of the undefiled bursts into glory in the dawn. They who have kept their garments here, as a few in Sardis had done, shall have brighter garments given them (Trench), glittering robes: the bright garments, as Dr. Stier says, are something other and greater than the clean, of which they are the reward. As Dean Alford says: They have kept their garments undefiled: they of all others then are the persons who should walk in the glorious white robes of heavenly triumph.*
* It is not asserted in this passage that the names of any who shall finally perish were ever entered in the Book of Life, nor is it necessarily implied (E. G. Craven, D.D.).
THE IMMOVABLE PILLAR
reward reveals peculiarly the stability of coming glory. He that overcometh, I will make him a pillar in the temple of
my God, and he shall go out thence no more; expelled no more for ever, for any cause, either of
external foe or internal sin: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of
the city of my God, and mine own new name (Rev.
3: 12). The victors probation is finally over:
stability in grace culminates in stability in glory: more than a living stone quarried by grace for the heavenly
The rewards (as Dr. Stier says) close on their highest peak: the severest rebuke of all is counterpoised by the most lustrous promise of all. It gathers all the promises into one (Alford). To the Laodicean the Lord says:- He that overcometh, I will give to him to sit down with Me in my throne; (the Eastern throne is much ampler and broader than ours: Trench):* as I also overcame, and sat down with my Father in His throne (Rev. 3: 21). Our Lords throne, as separate from the Fathers, is purely and solely the Messianic, the Millennial; for it never appears before or after the Kingdom: and therefore the proof here is beyond challenge or doubt that, whoever the overcomer is, to him, and to him alone, belongs a share in Millennial Royalty. None can ever share the eternal Throne of God and the Lamb. It is obvious that though the lukewarm Laodicean is converted as many as I love I rebuke and chasten (Rev. 3: 19)** - co-session on the Lords Throne is impossible to him as a lukewarm Laodicean, in momentary peril of being spewed out of the mouth of Christ. This enthronization, as Prof. Moses Stuart says, will be granted to all who prove to be final victors in the contest with the world, the flesh, and the devil. The overcomer (the Lord says) conquers in the sense that He conquered; even as I also overcame: which, obviously, is not conversion, but life-long sanctity. Thus to a believers grossest carnality is presented, so long as the day of grace has not yet merged into the day of wrath, the most golden reward; and these promises, as Dr. Seiss has said, are to brace up the courage of the Church, to carry her to the pitch of bearing the cross and crucifying herself with Christ, and actualizing her professed expatriation from this world.
* In my throne (See Greek text), which occurs nowhere else ( A. Plummer, D.D.).
** A proof of his conversion past all doubt is his star shining in the Upper Sanctuary (Rev. 1: 16), locked in the grasp out of which none can pluck.
proof that a Laodicean believer can nevertheless (through grace appropriated) achieve the summit of
devotion before he dies is found in the neighbourhood of
2. THE THRONE
Yet beyond all approaching cataclysms of the end, good and evil, Scripture lifts the vision of the Throne. So you intend to be a reformer of mans morals, young man, said an aged peer to Wilberforce. That - and he pointed to a picture of the Crucifixion is the end of reformers. Is it? replied Wilberforce; I have read in an old Book this:- I am He that liveth and was dead, and behold I am alive for evermore. That is the end - not death, but dominion; and if we be faithful, the end will be Sit with Me in my throne.
* * *
By D. M. PANTON
SCRIPTURE regards each disciple as a runner racing, an athlete wrestling, a warrior fighting, a farmer sowing, a mason building, a fugitive flying, a besieger storming; and all this strenuous intensity rests on a fundamental of revelation - that God is, and that He is a Rewarder (Heb. 11 : 6). With many disciples, in the words of Dr. A. T. Pierson, the eyes are yet blinded to this mystery of rewards, which is an open mystery of the Word. It must be an imputed righteousness whereby we enter: but, having thus entered by faith, our works determine our relative rank, place, reward.
A Church Truth
Perhaps no words are more frequently on our Lords lips than these:- Behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to render to each (disciple) according as his work is (Rev. 22: 12). To whom is this said? I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things for the Churches. So Paul says:- He that planteth and he that watereth are one - in standing and redemption but each shall receive his own reward according to his own labour (1 Cor. 3: 8). Our Lord singles out a grave act of discipline, and presents it as symptomatic of His habitual action. I do cast her into great tribulation: ... and all the churches shall know that I am He which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto each one of you according to your works (Rev. 2: 22). So Paul balances the double-edged recompense. Servants, obey :.. knowing that from the Lord ye shall receive the recompense of the inheritance: ye serve the Lord Christ. For - on the other hand - he that doeth wrong shall receive again for the wrong that he hath done: and there is no respect of persons (Col. 3: 25.) It is a truth that concerns us.
All honest difficulty on this truth vanishes when we examine what God rewards; and, first of all, Gods recompense rests supremely on godlikeness, and godlike conduct. Love your enemies, and do them good, and lend, never despairing; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be sons of the Most High: for He is kind toward the unthankful and evil (Luke 6: 35). Here reward turns upon likeness in character and conduct to our Father in heaven. Secret devotion, also, will be rewarded. Pray to thy Father which is in secret, and thy Father which seeth in secret shall recompense thee (Matt. 6: 6): not only will the prayer be answered, but the praying will be recompensed. Moreover our attitude of heart will help to sway the Lords adjudication on our service: Condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven (Luke 6: 37). Our life is putting, word by word, the sentence upon ourselves into Christs lips: we are manufacturing, as servants, our own adjudication. For goodness and glory are but two halves of one whole: goodness is the suffering side of glory, and glory is the shining side of goodness. Every beatitude has a reward attached.
So labour, also,
will be exactly recompensed. Whosoever shall give to drink
unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only - the minimum of gift - in the name of a disciple,
verily I say unto You, he shall in no wise lose his reward
(Matt. 10: 42). For what is
reward? To him that worketh, the
reward is not reckoned as of grace, but as of debt (
But, most searching truth of all, God rewards supremely the why at underlies the service. Take heed that ye do not your righteousness - conduct really good in itself before men, to be seen of them: else ye have no reward with your Father which is in heaven (Matt. 6: 1). Motive is thus revealed as decisively crucial. The Lord will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and make manifest the counsels of the hearts; and then shall each have his praise from God (1 Cor. 4: 5). For exaltation in the Kingdom is in inverse ratio to lowliness of service in the Church. For whosoever would (wishes to) become great among you, shall be your servant: and whosoever would be first among you, shall be slave of all (Mark 10: 43).
Reward is also
reserved for all suffering undergone for Christ. Blessed are ye, when men
shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and
reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man's sake. Rejoice in that day, leap for joy: for behold,
your reward is great in heaven (Luke 6: 23). Suffering generally ensures purity of motive;
and the Lord counterbalances the fear of
man, not only by the more tremendous fear of God (Rev. 2: 16), but also by the magnitude of His rewards. Every reward suggested, in the words of Mr. J. H. Lowe, is a prize of a
value inconceivable by us at present, and can only be appreciated at the
judgment Seat. So Moses accounted the reproach of Christ
greater riches than the treasures of
Thus Reward not only supplies a motive in itself legitimate: it is a motive to which our Lord and His Apostles make constant and direct appeal; e.g., Christ (Matt. 6: 1), Paul (1 Cor. 9: 24), Peter (1 Pet. 1: 17), James (Jas. 1: 12), and John (2 John 8). I believe for my part, says Dr. Alexander Maclaren, that we suffer terribly by the comparative neglect into which this side of Christian truth has fallen. Would it not make a difference to us if we really believed and carried away with us in our thoughts, the thrilling consciousness that every act of the present is registered, and will tell, on the far side beyond?
A Full Reward
We do well to remember three things: - that Sadoc, the founder of the Sadducees, started his career of unbelief by denying the doctrine of reward: also, that this principle took full effect even upon our Lord who for the joy that was set before Him endured (Heb. 12: 2): moreover, that no wise disciple can afford to neglect so great a mass of Scripture, or to throw away so mighty an incentive to holiness. Our discovery of this truth at the judgment Seat will be too late. Every seed we drop into the soil - every thought and word and act - is banked in God, and will one day spring up in lovely, or alarming, harvest, - as we sowed, what we sowed, as much as we sowed, and why we sowed. Therefore LOOK TO YOURSELVES, THAT YE LOSE NOT THE THINGS THAT YE HAVE WROUGHT, BUT THAT YE RECEIVE A FULL REWARD (2 John 8).
* * *
No one stresses
reward more than the Lord Jesus. Be careful not to do your acts of righteousness before men,
to be seen by them. If you do, you will have
no reward from your Father in heaven (Matt.
6: 1). If rewards are not purely the result of work accomplished, but
are given simply in grace, we reach
a reductio ad absurdum, and words have ceased to have any meaning: whereas the point of vital interest is simply what are the
rewards for which the wise believer longs and strives. It is too often assumed, without inquiry, that
rapture before the Tribulation (Luke 21: 36),
a share in the First Resurrection (Phil. 3: 11),
and reigning with Christ in the Millennium (Rev. 3: 21)
are all gifts of grace included in eternal salvation; but the single
Scriptures we have quoted are sufficient to prove that they are rewards
dependent on service. Far too often
evangelical believers force grace into the sphere of works exactly as
* * * * * * *
If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames. You see there is a saved soul with a lost life. That is a possibility - a saved soul, because he came to Jesus Christ in faith and found pardon through the grace of God and the death of his Saviour; and a lost life, because he came to the judgment seat of Christ, and had not used for Him the life that He saved. That is solemn possibility; and when the Lord Jesus comes to award His servants the praise or the blame, they will meet Him with joy or shame. That will be marked out by the life they have lived, and the service they have rendered for Him. You find then, that He is going to give rewards for service. Look at 1 Cor. 15: 58. What does that mean? That every, may we say, pennyworth of labour spent on the Lord is going to have an exact recompense of reward. That is what He does. He is going to reward the service of His children, and He will decide whether you ran straight or not at all, whether you shirked the race or ran it, whether you ran fairly or foully, whether you came in so as to earn the prize or lose the prize. The Lord is the One who is going to decide that, and give to everyone according as he has deserved.
What child of God would not desire to win a crown? But crowns are not for mere show but for merit, as the King has been pleased to promise to those who have been faithful in service. Eternal life comes through faith in Jesus Christ, but rewards are for faithfulness. The man in the parable who faithfully used his ten talents was rewarded with rule over ten cities. Yet the talents were given him and the opportunity was a gift from God. All rewards will be by grace in the end, yet the measure of each reward, the glory conferred on each of His redeemed, will be according to diligence and faithfulness in the use of the talents bestowed. One there was who said, The Son of Man has no place to lay his head. He went about doing good and gave His life for the lost, and later it was written of Him, A crown of gold on His head (Rev. 14: 14), and later still, And on His head are many crowns (Rev. 19: 12). He won His Kingdom and his crowns by supreme merit, by obedience even unto death. He was born a King, yet had to win His Kingdom by toil and sacrifice. Are we better than he?
What a call Christ gives to men to be diligent and faithful in such days as these! The world is unspeakably needy. Hearts are weary and worn and full of unutterable longing. Darkness deepens over the face of the nations and men grow hopeless in their helplessness. Philosophers and statesmen know not how to relieve the gathering gloom. One conference of the nations after another only stresses more grimly the vanity of human counsel. Through the darkness and across the ages comes a voice, Trade till I come back (Gk. Luke 19: 13). He who was diligent unto the end and faithful in the very hour of death speaks in thunder tones to His chosen Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life (Rev. 2: 10).
* * * * * * *
Is there just a possibility that for some who are Christs the assurance that their sins are under the blood, blotted out forever, has made the subject of the judgment seat of Christ seem a matter remote, a subject which has no personal application for them? If so, the truth is calculated to remind us all that Jeremiahs God is now, as always, the Lord God of recompenses. Who shall surely requite; that the priceless assurance that there is now no condemnation does not obviate the fact that we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ to receive, every one, those things done in the flesh, be they good or evil. This truth will make many an experienced Christian think soberly of the urgent need for buying up those precious opportunities that still remain. And that feeling which we may have regarded as worthy humility, which has made us loath to dwell upon the thought of reward, may have been a mistaken impulse. Moses had respect unto the recompense of the reward; the joy that was set before enabled our Lord to despise the shame of the cross.
* * * * * * *
Note particularly: The promise to overcomers, is a promise to saved people, to the churches. This is not a promise that God will give eternal life to those in the churches who finally overcome. That conception does violence to Scripture. We receive eternal life as a gift, Romans 6: 23, and have eternal life as a present possession, John 5: 24, and [we] can never lose it, John 10: 28, 29. The promise to overcomers, here, is a promise of special privilege to the overcomers among Christian people. Those who attain and maintain a certain spiritual victory in Christ will be privileged to eat of the tree of life. This tree is not eternal life, but a real tree in the kingdom, bearing real fruit. See Rev. 22: 3. In the interest of sound Biblical interpretation we repeat: the tree is not eternal life, for God gives eternal life a gift to those who accept His Son, John 1: 12, and is not a reward for overcoming; this tree is a special reward in the [millennial] Kingdom to those who overcome in Christian experience.
* * * * * * *
If we deny Him, He will also deny us (2 Tim. 2: 12b). This passage is comprehensive in its teaching. The context clearly indicates that it has to do with studying the Word of Truth and imparting it to others. It also carries us forward to the Bema - the judgment seat of Christ where every believer shall be rewarded according to his deeds (Romans 2: 6). Those who have been faithful to the trust committed to them shall be rewarded by reigning with Christ in His [millennial] Kingdom. Those who have been unfaithful and recreant to the divine trust committed to them shall be denied reigning with Christ and consequently shall lose the reward which might have been theirs. Dear believer, does this appeal from Gods Book awaken you to your responsibility to tell the Good News, [of the coming kingdom of glory] or are you content to go on indifferently until you stand at the Bema ashamed before Him at His coming (1 John 2: 28)?
* * * * * * *
This spring of action, says Dr. Maclaren, (the desire to obtain an incorruptible crown) is not as strong in the Christians of this day as it used to be, and as it should be. I believe for my part that we suffer terribly by the comparative neglect into which this side of Christian truth has fallen. Do you not think that it would make a difference to you if you really believed, and carried away with you in your thoughts the thrilling consequences that every act of the present was registered, and would tell on the far side beyond? If I can be thus crowned, says Prebendary Webb-Peploe, can I be otherwise than a fool if I am not prepared to sacrifice all to win it? The running may shorten life, but it will sweeten eternity: happy the scarred soul which grows not altogether unlike the Lamb as it had been slain. The work is earnest - therefore dont trifle; the opportunity is short - therefore dont delay; the path is narrow - therefore dont wander; the task is difficult - therefore dont relax; the prize is glorious - therefore dont faint. I come quickly: hold fast that which thou hast, that no one take thy crown.
* * * * * * *
Two young preachers were sent to shepherd flocks in a western city. For a time all went beautifully; their Churches were crowded and souls were saved. But grievous wolves entered, and trouble began, so they both decided to resign - such an easy thing to do! One sent his letter of resignation, and soon the sheep and young lambs scattered, the church doors closed, the souls who were coming into the Light turned back into darkness without a leader. The other went to his study, and wrote out his resignation to present to the Official Board. It was winter, and an oak log burned on the earth. Being wearied, he sank into a large easy chair by the fire and fell asleep; but something out of the ordinary happened. As he dozed, he dreamed that an angel entered his study, carrying a heavy cross and a crown set with priceless gems. He said to the young preacher, To whom shall I give your cross and your crown? He reached out to take the crown from the angels hand, but the angel drew it back, saying, No crown without a cross.
Awakening from his sleep, he cried out, Give me back my cross, and no man shall have my crown! The letter of resignation was thrown into the fire, and the old oak log seemed to sing a song of praise as the letter went up in flames. That night the Official Board met, and the pastor said to them, Let us ask God to send a revival. And God did send a revival that shook the country. Later on, the young minister was sent by his Conference to a city charge, and one night during a great revival in his church, a man wearing a tattered suit came weeping to the altar, and this is what he said to the worker: O, if I had only known how to sit still in my tunnel! Wasted years! Blasted hopes! No crown! It was the young minister who had forsaken his flock.
All around us the things which can be shaken are tottering: even concerning the physical world a seismographer announcing a recent earthquake told us that the quivering, which was felt probably over the whole earth, after the actual quake, resembled the movements of a jelly after it had been violently placed down upon a table. We rejoice in having received a kingdom which cannot be moved and in the knowledge of that those things which cannot be shaken remain. Clearly, living on the eve of our Lords Return, we are being tested to see if we will be steadfast unto the end and rank among the overcomers who will receive the crown.
- E. C. Cowman.
* * * * * * *
Behold I come quickly, and my reward is with me (Rev. 22: 12). There will be rewards enough and to spare; you will never exhaust them: rewards to be won and possessed and rejoiced in; or rewards to be missed and lost and mourned for, surely, throughout eternity. Am I right in thinking that the thought of these rewards which God prepares for His people is an almost absent factor from most Christian lives? Think. Has the thought of Gods reward attached to faithful witness stirred you up to witness for Him? Has Gods promised reward for souls that are brought to Him, made you eager to bring souls to Him? Has Gods promised reward made you patient in trial and under suffering? Has the promised reward made you bold to confess Him in face of those who denied Him?
* * *
REWARD THROUGH SUFFERING
It is vital to the Gospel that reward and salvation are
totally sundered. Reward is a recompense for service rendered; a prize
gained by conduct; a wage paid for labour accomplished. Do
our Lord says, and your reward
shall be great (Luke 6: 35). To him that worketh, says the Apostle, the reward is
not reckoned as of grace, but as of debt (
Reward as Motive
But, after [initial] salvation, reward becomes of immense importance, and an urge to the highest. The assertion not seldom made that it is wrong for a believer to seek reward is a blank contradiction of our Lord and the Holy Scriptures. Take heed, the Lord Jesus says to His disciples, that ye do not your righteousness before men, to be seen of them: else ye have no reward with your Father which is in heaven (Matt. 6: 1). He invokes reward as a perfectly legitimate motive. Love your enemies, and do them good, and your reward shall be great (Luke 6: 35). Our Lord could not have put it more decisively:- Whosoever shall give to drink a cup of cold water only - a glass of water verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward (Matt. 10: 42). Even to unbelievers He says :- How can ye believe, which receive glory one of another, and the glory that cometh from the only God ye seek not? (John 5: 44). There is no crown without a cross.
The design underneath reward is deep and wonderful. God grooves the running-tracks to
reward deep down beneath the production of a perfected character: Gods rewards
are deliberately set to produce Christ-like lowliness, a body of umblemished
purity, and hands of strenuous, unremitting labour. Every one
that hath left houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or
children, or lands for my names sake,
SHALL RECEIVE A HUNDREDFOLD (Matt.
19: 29). Our eye is on the prize: Gods eye is on the spiritual athlete which running for the prize
also reward indicates the justice of God. The servant who has become like his Lord, and done well like his Lord, shall enter into the joy of his Lord: Whatsoever good thing each one
doeth, the same shall he receive again from the Lord (Eph. 6: 8). Gods rewards are a recompense for fidelity that are absolutely essential
to prove His justice.
Suffering, in the light of
Now we reach one of the most exquisite expressions of this truth. Our light affliction, which is for the moment, worketh for us more and more exceedingly* an eternal weight of glory (2 Cor, 4: 17, R.V.) It is expressed elsewhere:- I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not to be compared - the two are incomparable with the glory that shall be revealed to us-ward (Rom. 8: 18). The affliction - weariness, sorrow, sickness, bereavement, death: the glory - the Throne surrounded with myriads of angels; innumerable witnesses watching the winning of the race; a body perfect, a crown, a throne awaiting the old physical wreck.
[* Literally, in excess unlo excess (the Pulpit Commentary).]
So our present situation is first summed up. Our light affliction, which is but for a moment. Paul records the unique record of his own suffering, which serves as an admirable test of the truth of the statement. Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day have I been in the deep; in journeyings often, in perils of rivers, in perils of robbers, in perils from my countrymen, in perils from the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in labour and travail, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness (2 Cor. 11: 24).* Is that light affliction? One opposite verse reduces us to utter silence:- Their part shall be in the lake that burneth with fire and brimstone (Rev. 21: 8). Is it but for a moment? Put against it - suffering for a few decades the smoke of their torment goeth up for ever and ever (Rev. 14: 11). As we look back from the unending ages of eternity, our few decades here will be no more than a moment.
* Obviously the chief affliction rewarded is suffering for Christ, but naturally our affliction covers all the believers suffering. He scourgeth every son whom he receiveth (Heb. 12: 6).
But we now face one of the most amazing revelations ever made. Our affliction WORKETH FOR US - is actually creating MORE AND MORE EXCEFDINGLY - in ever growing expansion AN ETERNAL WEIGHT OF GLORY - our glory is created, ever increasingly, by our suffering. Thus far more is stated than the mere fact that glory will follow suffering: it is the suffering which creates a loftier throne, a richer crown, a nobler heritage. In a complex machine we see a wheel revolving in an opposite direction to the working of the machine; but it is revolving other wheels which are driving the whole work forward. Could comfort go further? The fingers of sorrow are actually weaving the tapestry of glory: the deeper the sorrow, the heavier the glory. If ye are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are ye; because the Spirit of glory and the Spirit of God resteth upon you (1 Pet. 4: 14).
But a vital condition closes the revelation. Suffering
creates, reward while we look not at the things which are seen but at the things which are
In the prayer of a Saint of the middle ages,- O God, fix my eyeballs on
Centuries ago ships were afraid to go out of sight of the land, for they were
guided by the hills and the mountains; but when the compass was discovered,
they could go over the whole world and through the densest darkness. The things
which are not seen are the compass of our redeemed lives. The word
here translated look at, is in other places rendered, take heed, consider, mark, observe attentively, and signifies serious fixed, repeated consideration: it
signifies also to aim at, or pursue (J. Orton). Of all the
persons in the Old Testament our Lord tells us to remember only one:- Remember
It is beautiful to remember how a pearl is made. Dr.
A. B. Simpson puts it thus:- The pearl is made in the bosom of
the oyster down in the
An American worker, a Mrs.
Barney, tells how sorrow and affliction brought a soul to Christ. A
They brought her in, and for a moment a great pallor fell upon his face; then he broke out into violent sobbing. The little girl, touched with compassion came to him, and laying her hand on his, she said, O poor man, Im so sorry for you, and Jesus is so sorry for you,too. He took the little hand and asked, Is her name Mamie? Yes, was the reply. Oh, he said, I had a little girl like her, and she died fifteen years ago. Her name was Mamie, too. Since she died, I have cursed the world, and God, and life, and everything. But when I saw your little girl, I thought of my little Mamie. Then Mrs. Barney turned to him and said, Would you not like to see your little Mamie again? I would give a thousand lives and a thousand fortunes to see her for one moment.
Then she told of the love of Jesus, of the home above, and of the mercy that was so full and free. The great tears came, and the fountains of the deep were broken up. They knelt to pray, and little Mamie prayed a prayer that brought him through. A day or two later he went to a meeting. He stood on his trembling limbs and said, Boys, you know how they turn the water in the sluices in the gold mines; and as it runs down the sluices, the water washes the dirt away and leaves the gold? That is what the blood of Jesus did for me. It washed almost everything away, but it left enough to see my Mamie and the Man that died for me; and now I am going to her and to Him because His precious blood washed me from all my sin.
* * *
THE MILLENNIAL KINGDOM: THE CHRISTIANS
He that overcometh, I will give to him to sit down with me in MY throne, as I overcame, and sat doen with My Father in HIS throne: Revelation 3: 21, R.V.
There are passages of Scripture which plainly indicate that only those who are fully given up to the Lord, and are faithful to Him, will share the place of administration with Christ.
Will all [regenerate] believers, then, reign with Christ? By no means. The Kingdom of the thousand years is never said to belong to those who only believe. There are not a few texts addressed to believers which declare that certain classes of them shall not enter the kingdom.
1. Those whose (active) righteousness shall not exceed that of the Pharisees (Matt. 5: 20).
2. Those who, while professors of Christs name, do not the will of His Father (Matt. 7: 21).
3. Those guilty of strife, envy, and contention. (Luke 9: 46-50; Mark 9: 33-50; Matt. 18: 1-3).
4. Rich disciples (Matt. 19: 23; Luke 6: 24; 18: 24).
5. Those who deny the Millennium (Luke 18 17; Mark 10: 15).
6. The unbaptised (John 3: 5).
7. See also 1 Cor.6: 9, 10; Gal.5: 19-21; 6: 7, 8; Matt. 10: 32, 39; 16: 26; 18: 17, 18; Luke 9: 26.
Those who sit on the throne are evidently crowned ones, for the
throne-sitters are always those who are crowned. We know from many
Scriptures that all the saints will not be crowned, and therefore all will not
enjoy the high places of sitting on the throne. Christs injunction to
the Church at
Yet again we listen to what our Lord said to the disciples, when some of them were desirous of sharing in Christs earthly kingdom, and when, also, Peter called attention to what he had given up for the sake of the Lord (Matt. 19: 28), Verily I say unto you, that ye who have followed Me, in the regeneration when the Son of Man shall sit on the throne of His glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
What an urgent call this is to go in for all that the Lord has for us, for those who are willing to suffer with Him now will surely reign with Him in His coming glory.
Again, John says, I saw, and this time it was those who had
been beheaded because of the testimony of Jesus, and because of the Word of
God. This body of martyrs is a special set of people. They are
evidently a part of that company which John had previously seen, and who are
described under the fifth seal as those who had been slain because of the Word
of God, and because of the testimony which they held.
This special class is further described as those who had not worshipped the beast nor his image, nor received his mark on their foreheads or on their hand. We know there will be a terrible time of slaughter during the Great Tribulation after the rapture beforehand, (Luke 21: 34-36; Rev. 3: 10).
So also no price is too great to pay for the coming glory. When Savonarola was asked to compromise his message and the Pope offered him the scarlet hat of a Cardinal, he replied:- I want no red hat but that of martyrdom, coloured with my own blood. The Reformation that followed under Luther had its very roots in the blood of Savonarolas martyrdom. But more than that. I saw the souls of them that had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus, and they lived, AND REIGNED WITH CHRIST A THOUSAND YEARS (Rev. 20: 4).
* * *
By MISS E. M. LEATHES
Beyond the wondrous gift of Eternal Life in Christ Jesus, Paul unveils a marvellous secret of a prize to be won, and a priceless treasure to be secured by all who are willing to count the cost. We find him declaring with eager intensity, I press on, if so be that I may lay hold on that for which also I was laid hold on by Christ Jesus. Brethren, he cries, I count not myself yet to have laid hold: but one thing I do, forgetting the things that are behind, and stretching forward to the things which are before, I press on toward the goal unto the Prize of the Upward Calling of God in Christ Jesus. And what is the Goal towards which Paul is stretching every nerve and flinging away every hindrance that he may reach it? He then reveals his most thrilling secret. Howbeit, he declares, what things were gain to me, those have I counted loss for Christ. Yea verily, and I count all things to be loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for Whom I suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but refuse, that I may gain Christ (or win) (Phil. 3: 12, 13, 14, 7, 8. Amer. R.V.)
And for those who are out to win this prize the Apostle gives another
illustration. Paul had probably watched the runners who competed for the
prize in the Greek Games, when the winner received a laurel crown. Know ye not, he asks, that they
that run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? Even so run; that
ye may attain. We know that the competitors in these races had to undergo a very
arduous physical training beforehand. So Paul continues, Every man
that striveth in the games exerciseth self-control in all things.
Now they do it to receive a corruptible crown but we an incorruptible. I
therefore so run, as not uncertainly so fight I, as not beating the air: but I
buffet my body, and bring it into bondage: lest by any means, after that I have
preached to others, I myself should be rejected (or disapproved from the prize) (1 Cor. 9
: 24-27. Amer.
R.V.) Note the Lords words to the lukewarm
I am certain there are many of Gods intrepid followers today, who are being tested beyond all their natural resources: it is at such a time when absolute reliance on God alone will avail. A free translation of 2 Cor. 12: 10, runs thus- I take pleasure in being without strength, in being chased about, in being cooped up in a corner, for when I am without strength, I am dynamite. And now comes to us ringing down the centuries from the depths of a Roman dungeon the triumphant shout of that old battered and wounded warrior, Paul. He exclaims, I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith: henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of Righteousness, which the Lord, the Righteous judge, shall give to me at that Day; and not to me only, but also to all them that have loved His Appearing (2 Tim. 4 : 7, 8. Amer. R.V.)
* * *
THE LAW OF
By D. M. PANTON, B. A.
It would have the profoundest effect on our lives if only we could realise, once for all, the alarming truth that God will promote in the coming Age according to our renunciations for Him; that the law of recompense is this - that the principles of glory are in inverse ratio to our losses and renunciations for Christ, voluntarily undergone. Our Lord Himself summarises the principle once for all thus:- Every one that exalteth himself shall be humbled; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted (Luke 14: 11). This great revelation irradiates with sudden lightning the bruised and battered martyrdoms of six thousand years, the men and women who sacrificed everything for principle of whom the world was not worthy, and of whom the world has never even heard, but who shall burst forth as the sun in the Kingdom of their Father.
The concrete example, supreme for ever, not only pictures the truth, but enforces its obedience. Have this mind in you, says the Apostle - for it is within our control and choice, and therefore within our responsibility which was also in Christ Jesus, who humbled himself (Phil. 2: 5), made himself void by his own act (Moule). The Lord Himself is the consummate example of that which He teaches: His experience is the concrete embodiment of the law of inverse recompense. He humbled Himself as none other ever did or could, and correspondingly He is exalted above and beyond all. And the principle is put in its extremist form. As the span of Christs descent was the deepest of which the universe is capable, so the consequent enthronement is the limit which the universe affords. Our ascent is our descent reversed.
The Apostle, therefore, in few, vivid words, spans the mighty gulf created by the mind of Christ. At one end is the Son of God panoplied in the glory which He had with the Father before the world was: far down, in the depthless bottom of a voluntary descent, is a gibbeted Man: therefore, by the reverse process of the law of recompense, the closing scene is exaltation on the Throne of the Universe. As Paul has expressed it elsewhere:- He that descended into the lower parts of the earth - Hades, [the place of the dead], is always regarded as the contrary extreme to the Heaven of heavens is the same also that ascended far above all heavens (Eph. 4: 9). As Jesus sank from a higher height - the Godhead - than any other could sink, and sank to a lower depth - being made sin - than any other could, so He is now enthroned where none but He could be enthroned.
For not only was every step of our Lord downward, but every descent avoided a legitimate amelioration - (i.e., the act or process of making or becoming better); and each humiliation might have been far easier by another choice in itself perfectly legitimate. (1) In descending as God to earth, He might have descended as Jehovah did on Sinai; but He came shorn of the pomp, the majesty, the entourage of God. (2) In taking the creatures form, He might have come as Michael or Gabriel; but, instead, He appeared as a frail mortal. (3) In coming as a man, He might have appeared in the flawless beauty of an Absalom; but his visage was so marred more than any man (Isa. 52: 14). (4) The home He chose might have been the palace of a Solomon; but He who alone of mankind has ever been able to control His birth, chose an artisans cradle. (5) In leaving the world, He could have left in Elijahs chariot and horses of fire; but He chose the pangs of death. (6) In the death He chose, He might, like Moses, have been buried by angels under the superintendence of God; but He chose to die forsaken and alone. And (7) in the actual death itself, which, however lonely, could have been honourable, He who might in a moment have had twelve legions of angels suffers Himself to be gibbeted as a public criminal.
Now we look at the exact nature of our Lords descent, for it is the designed model of our own, and teaches us exactly what God rewards. (1) It was not sins which Christ renounced: that He renounced sin need not be stated: every step downwards here named is the renunciation of a thing perfectly legitimate in itself. He abdicated lawful rights, and abandoned sinless privileges, honours, dignities. He surrendered the good for the best. (2) His renunciation was purely voluntary. It was not the compulsory stripping of a Job, but a freely chosen loss for the sake of others. There was no compelling power in heaven or earth or hell. Being humiliated is not the same thing as humbling ourselves, though it may be a powerful help to it: humble yourselves, says Peter, under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time (1 Pet. 5: 6). (3) It was not degradation for degradations sake: it was degradation to win for others blessings they could not have without it. (4) It was done in obedience to the Word of God. The Word of God to the Lord Jesus as that He should effect salvation for a doomed race; and to obey this involved every one of the downward steps, even including the choice of crucifixion, without which the Curse could not alight on a sinless Sacrifice. Scripture lay behind all. It was the sacrifice of popularity for the sake of principle; of wealth for better investments; of ease for help to the dying; of this world for the next.*
* It is of great comfort to remember that if our deliberate descent has not been what it might, renunciation has followed exactly to the degree that we have obeyed Scripture. No man, for example, has ever obeyed the Sermon on the Mount without becoming of no reputation, in the eyes of both the world and of a worldly Church. Here lies the heart of the revelation. New Testament Scripture is such that to embody it in life without ostracism by the world is a radical impossibility, and the degree of our obedience is likely to be the degree of our crucifixion.
Now is unveiled the law of recompense. The incalculable descent is only equalled by the immeasurable reverse, Wherefore also - wherefore correspondingly: here is the golden hinge on which the law of reward critically turns God highly exalted him, and gave unto him [three things] the name which is above every name - fame; that in the name of Jesus every knee should bow - rank; and that every tongue should confess [Him] Lord - rule.* The crystal-clear fact that the whole reward falls, not on the pre-incarnate Christ, but as exact recompense for the human renunciation, brings this law within our own ambit [scope]; and that it fell with full effect even on the Son of God makes it overwhelmingly certain that none of us can escape it. Not arbitrarily, nor by divine favour, nor in grace has the Most High raised the Saviour to the Throne of the Universe; but solely in recoil to all that is essentially holiest and best as expressed, concretely, in a human life of self-renunciation: the height to which He rose is the measure of the depth to which He voluntarily sank. And this award is to the glory of God the Father: because we see more deeply into God by seeing exactly what it is that He rewards; and it is boundless unselfishness upon which He confers boundless power. It is the very soul of justice that He who plumbed all sorrow for sheer goodness should be supreme over all; and that Law should crown Grace at last. Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity: therefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows** (Heb. 1: 9).
* Abraham stated the same principle, though without giving the underlying moral reason, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivest thy good things, and Lazarus in like manner evil things; but now here (in Hades) he is comforted, and thou art in anguish (Luke 16: 25).
** For Christ will have companions in the [millennial] Kingdom who were companions in renunciation the strong with whom He divides the spoil (Isa. 53: 12).
Thus we reach the grand conclusion, the practical sequel, of the Apostle. So then, my beloved - because of this model which is also an injunction WORK OUT YOUR OWN SALVATION WITH FEAR AND TREMBLING, in anxiety and self-distrust (Alford); since the enabling dynamic within is nothing less than God. The fearful mistake many of us Christians are making is in not gripping these facts now, while there is time to shape our lives to this mighty law, and so to transfigure our whole future. We shall not reap what we have not sown. If it cost Him so much, it must cost us also. Therefore to the Apostles, ambitious of sharing the glory of their Lord but completely ignorant of the process, the Saviour, after setting a child in the midst as our character-model, says:- Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is the GREATEST in the Kingdom of heaven (Matt. 18: 4). The call to a cross is exactly the call to a throne.
For one of our Lords parables is devoted to this single point of enormous practical consequence. Go and sit down in the lowest place; that - so that, in order that when he that hath bidden thee cometh - the returning Lord he may say to thee, Friend, go up higher: then shalt thou have glory in the presence of all that sit at meat with thee. For every one that exalteth himself shall be humbled; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted (Luke 14: 10)* Thus our Lords life enormously reinforces His own parable, and shows the path to ascension glory; and His reward, in minor degree, will be ours, taking shape in government, royalty, rule. Nothing short of the mind of the Head, as Bishop Handley Moule says, must be the mind of the member; and then the glory of the Head (so it is implied) shall be shed hereafter upon the member too: I will grant to him to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.
* The double work is well expressed in Florence Nightingales summary of her life. If I could tell you all, you would see a woman of very ordinary ability led by God to do in His service what He has done in her. I have worked hard, very hard, and God has done all and I nothing.
* * *
RAPTURE A REWARD
By J. BUCHLER
On the most important question the children of God are divided into at least three parties holding contradictory views, causing great confusion.
1. - One Party holds that the Rapture is entirely a matter of grace; therefore, the new birth carries with it the certainty that all truly born again children of God will be raptured apart altogether from their spiritual condition or walk. We will call them the All Rapture Party.
2. - The Second Party holds that the Rapture is to take place after the great tribulation. We will call them the Post-Tribulation Party.
3. - The Third Party holds that participation in the Rapture is a special prize to be awarded to saints who, through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, are blameless in holiness, or to put it in more simple language, it is a prize to be awarded to certain overcomers. We will call them the Selective Rapture Party.
The writer, before he was born again, had serious doubts as to whether the Bible was really the revelation of the Creator of Heaven and earth, or simply a human invention, and one of many such religious inventions. So he approached the subject in this way:- Supposing I accept Christ and become a Christian and in the end it turns out that I followed a myth, what is the position? I concluded that if I did, I would at least have lived a healthy, clean and transparent life and followed all that was good, noble and honourable and have been a blessing to others. On the other hand, supposing I were to refuse to become a Christian and in the end I discovered the Bible to be true, what would the position then be? I would have had the enjoyment of the pleasures of sin for a season (Heb. 11: 25) - though even this is questionable, for to indulge in selfishness in the end destroys the very capacity for enjoyment - and then? - Suffering, remorse, darkness, despair and eternal loss. This method of reasoning induced me to put the Bible to a practical test and led me to a satisfying and happy knowledge of God and Christ, which is eternal life (John 17: 3).
Let us now use this method in considering the teaching of each party in turn and inquire what the position would be if its views in the end prove to be wrong.
1. - Suppose the All Rapture Partys views are wrong and only those who are blameless in holiness are raptured, what has been the effect of this teaching - that everyone born again is safe for the rapture? It has lulled its followers into a false security resulting in their losing the prize; they are plunged into darkness and despair, and have in this condition to face the great tribulation, while their teachers will have to meet the reproaches and reprobation of their deceived followers.
2. - Supposing the views of the Post Tribulation Party are wrong, what is the position? First of all, they have not looked for the coming of the Lord, but for the great tribulation - for they were told that the Rapture was only to take place after the tribulation is past - therefore, if they are wrong, and He comes before that event, the coming of Christ will be to them entirely unexpected, and will overtake them by surprise - like a thief in the night (1 Thess. 5: 2) - unawares (Luke 21 : 34). Having made the successful passing through the Great Tribulation a preparation and condition for the Rapture instead of making blamelessness in holiness the condition, they will be utterly unprepared, and in this awful condition they will have to face the Great Tribulation!
3. - Let us now inquire as to what the position would be if the views of the Selective Rapture Party are wrong. This party has taught that only those who are blameless in holiness will be raptured. Well, suppose they are wrong, what damage have its followers suffered? None at all! For, apart altogether from the question of the Rapture, God says: Be holy, for I am holy (1 Pet. 1: 16), and This is the will of God, even your sanctification (1 Thess. 4: 3), and Follow peace with all men and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord (Heb. 12: 14).
So if this Selective Rapture Party be wrong in having taught that blamelessness in holiness is the condition for participation in the Rapture, it has, after all, only taught what God has commanded, and its followers have received no hurt whatsoever, only blessing. Further, supposing this third partys views be wrong, what harm could their teaching making blamelessness in holiness a condition of rapture - have done the followers of the All Rapture Party? Supposing they are right (the first party), and in the end every Christian is unconditionally raptured - none whatever, seeing that such teaching uses the hope of participation in the Rapture as the most powerful incentive to a holy life; it would therefore only have helped them to make their calling and election sure and preserved them from failing (2 Pet. 1: 10), increased their reward and helped them to a higher place in heaven.
And what effect would their teaching have had on the followers of the Post Tribulation Party, supposing they - the Post Tribulation Party are right? Blamelessness in holiness will prove to have been the very best preparation possible to pass triumphantly through the Great Tribulation. So they too would have received no hurt but help and blessing.
But supposing now the Selective Rapture Partys teaching is Scriptural and participation in the Rapture is the prize to be awarded to the overcomers who are blameless in holiness? Then the first two parties have suffered irrecoverable and incalculable loss. The thoughtful reader will see that the teaching of the Selective Rapture Party is absolutely safe from every conceivable point of view, seeing that holiness - as already pointed out - is in any case binding, apart altogether from the question of the Rapture.
Finally, let us,
with Paul, remember the issue. The great
President of our athletics, who has decreed them, sits on high, waiting; and He
holds the victors laurel, the unimaginable prize. Forgetting the things which are behind, I press on toward the
goal unto the prize. And what is the prize? Paul has just stated;-
If by any means
I may attain unto the out-resurrection from among
the dead. We can so master the present as to create a
future of boundless glory. And what is
the summary? Let
us therefore, as many as be perfect
- full grown, fully developed be thus minded. The golden eternity that is before all the
redeemed is also a
* * *
Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God: (Heb. 12: 1, 2).
Epistle to the Hebrews is a book in which the author continually draws his
spiritual lessons from the Old Testament Scriptures. And this is a book which deals primarily, not
with the [eternal]
salvation we presently possess, but with the [future] salvation of the soul. The author of
this book, rather than directing his main focus upon the events of Calvary,
focuses instead upon that which
Man has been saved for a purpose, and this purpose is the same as the purpose for his creation almost 6,000 years ago. Man was created to have dominion (Gen. 1: 26-28), and man has been saved with this same dominion in view. It is this, rather than the message concerning eternal salvation itself, which forms the crux of that which the writer of Hebrews presents in his epistle. There is a repeated look back to Calvary (1: 3; 2: 9; 7: 27; 9: 12, 26; 10: 12; 11: 4, 17-19), for everything is based on the Sons finished work of redemption (cf. Gen. 3: 15). But this is not where the author of this epistle places the emphasis. He places the emphasis upon the purpose for mans redemption, which involves possessing dominion in complete accord with the opening verses of Genesis.
This is really what the whole of Scripture is about - God providing redemption for fallen man, with a purpose in view. This is why the writer of Hebrews could reach back into the Old Testament and call attention to numerous verses and sections of Scripture in order to teach deep spiritual truths surrounding the reason for mans redemption.
The matter could be looked upon within the same framework as Christ drawing from the Old Testament Scriptures in Luke 24: 27-31 to reveal numerous truths surrounding His person and work to the two disciples on the Emmaus road. Beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself (v. 27; cf. vv. 44, 45). He could do this because all of the Old Testament Scriptures were about Him.
And since the Son is the appointed heir of all things (cf. Gen. 24: 36; 25: 5; Psa. 2: 8; 110: 1ff; Dan. 7: 13, 14; Luke 19: 12), the Old Testament Scriptures, dealing with the Son, likewise deal with the Sons inheritance. Thus, the writer of Hebrews could derive teachings from Old Testament Scriptures concerning the Sons inheritance (Heb. 1: 2) - an inheritance having to do with dominion (Heb. 1: 5; cf. Psa. 2: 7, 8) - in order to deal with the purpose for mans salvation, which has to do with this same inheritance and dominion (cf. Heb. 1: 9; 3: 14).
A number of Messianic passages are quoted in Hebrews, chapter one, and the writer then immediately leads into the thought of an inheritance set before Christians (1: 14). This is called so great Salvation in Heb. 2: 3 and is connected in verses five and ten with dominion over the [this] earth as sons, exercising the rights of primogeniture.
The main purpose for the present dispensation is given in what could be looked upon as the key verse in the Book of Hebrews: For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many* sons unto glory ... (2: 10). The great burden of Hebrews is not that of rescuing the unsaved from the lake of fire but that of delivering the ones already so rescued safely through their present pilgrim journey to the goal of their calling.
[* NOTE. The Scripture here says that, many sons will qualify for the coming glory; not every son, as multitudes erroneously suppose: there is a personal standard of righteousness required for qualification, (Matt. 5: 20)!]
Rather than the book being a call unto salvation for the unsaved, it is a call unto Christs kingdom and glory for the saved (cf. 1 Thess. 2: 12). Its message is directed to those who are already the children of God; and this message, built around five major warnings in the book, centers around the Christians present pilgrim journey in view of the coming manifestation of the Sons of God (Rom. 8: 19), when Christ will bring the many sons of Heb. 2: 10 unto glory (cf. Rom. 8: 18, 23). These many sons will exercise the rights of the firstborn as co-heirs with Christ during the coming Messianic Era.
Beyond chapter two, the Book of Hebrews continues its teaching, as before, through constant reference to the Old Testament Scriptures. Chapter three begins by referring to the Christians calling, which is heavenly; and the author takes all of one chapter (ch. 3) and part of another (ch. 4) to call attention to the journey of the Israelites as they left Egypt under Moses and headed toward an inheritance reserved for them in another land. This is set forth as a type of the Christians present journey toward an inheritance. And that which befell the Israelites on their pilgrim journey can also befall Christians on their pilgrim journey. This is the warning which the Spirit of God goes to great lengths to clearly set forth through the author of this book, not only in chapters three and four but also in chapter six (vv. 4-6).
The latter part of chapter four moves into teachings concerning the present high priestly ministry of Christ (which is patterned after the order of Aaron), and then in chapter five the book moves into a discussion of things concerning the future ministry of Christ when He will be the great King-Priest (which will be patterned after the order of Melchizedek).
Then in chapters six through ten both the Aaronic and Melchizedek priesthoods are in view, placing the emphasis not only upon Christs present ministry on our behalf in the heavenly sanctuary but also upon His future ministry when the results of His present ministry will be realized - that [millennial] day when he will rule the earth as the great King-Priest after the order of Melchizedek.
This entire section in Hebrews terminates with a warning concerning the wilful sin (10: 26), which, contextually, could only have to do with Christians sinning, with the high priestly ministry of Christ in view (10:19ff). There is no sacrifice for a wilful sin. Instead, only judgment [both present and future] awaits the perpetrators.
The sins of Christians can be forgiven today because of Christs present ministry in the heavenly sanctuary, on the basis of His shed blood (Heb. 9: 11, 12; 1 John 1: 7; 2: 1, 2). Thus, contextually, sinning wilfully in Heb. 10: 26, appearing at the end of the lengthy section in Hebrews dealing with Christ as High Priest, can only be a refusal to avail oneself of Christs present high priestly ministry. If a Christian refuses the sacrifice which Christ has provided (His Own blood on the mercy seat), there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins. A certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation is all that can await a sinning Christian who refuses to avail himself of Christs present high priestly ministry (10: 27-31).
Then, closing out the chapter, attention is called to the great recompense of reward, the promise, Christs return, the necessity of Christians living by faith, and the saving of the soul (10: 35-39).
This then leads naturally into chapter eleven which records numerous accounts of faithful servants of the Lord in the Old Testament. Over and over these individuals are said to have acted, By faith. That is, they believed what God had to say about the matter, resulting in their acting accordingly.
Chapter eleven forms a climax to all which has preceded. Individuals in the Old Testament pleased God one way By faith. And the necessity of exercising faith in order to please God is just as true today as it was then. An individual coming to God must believe [exercise faith] that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him (11: 6). There is no other way.
Individuals in chapter eleven were moved to do certain things because of their faith, because they believed God. Such actions (works) emanated out of faith and brought faith to its proper goal, which is spoken of in 1 Peter 1: 9 as the [future] salvation of ones soul (cf. Eph. 2: 10). And this is the same salvation upon which the author of Hebrews focuses his readers attention. Works emanating out of faith which, in turn, result in faith being brought to its proper goal - the salvation of ones soul - is exactly what is in view in Hebrews, chapter eleven. The verse leading into this chapter refers to the saving of the soul (10: 39), and then, beginning in chapter eleven, the same thing is taught as in 1 Peter 1: 4-9.
Chapter twelve then forms the capstone to the whole matter. The writers exhortations and instructions in the first two verses reflect, in a broad sense, back on everything which he has previously said. Christians are in a race (cf. 1 Cor. 9: 24-27; 2 Tim. 4: 7, 8); and the writers exhortations and instructions, based on what has previously been said, outline for Christians exactly how to run the race after the fashion necessary to win the prize.
THE GREAT CLOUD OF WITNESSES
Chapter twelve begins with Wherefore in the English text (Therefore in a number of translations), which is the translation of a Greek inferential particle (Toigaroun), pointing to the logical conclusion of a matter. The word could perhaps be better translated in this instance, For that very reason then ... The reference is a continuation of the thought in the immediately preceding verse, which sums up that which is taught throughout chapter eleven - Certain Old Testament and New Testament saints being made perfect together through faith (11: 40).
The word perfect in this verse is from the same word in the Greek text translated perfect in James 2: 22 (teleioo). In James, faith is said to be made perfect through works, which is the identical concept taught throughout Hebrews, chapter eleven. In fact, the two examples used in James to illustrate how faith is made perfect through works (brought to completion, brought to its proper goal [as in 1 Peter 1: 9]) are also listed in Hebrews (cf. James 2: 21-25; Heb. 11: 17-19, 31).
Some Old Testament saints, through faith, subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to fight the armies of the aliens. And certain women received their dead raised to life again (Heb. 11: 33-35a).
Others though, through faith, had opposite experiences. They were tortured ... had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented ... they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth (Heb. 11: 35b-38).
Regardless of the experiences which these Old Testament saints were called to enter into, each obtained a good report through faith [lit., bore a favourable witness through faith]. The point of the matter though is the fact that not a single one received the promise (v. 39) The recompense of the reward, the reception of the promise (cf. vv. 26, 39), awaits a future day, [i.e., after the Better Resurrection (35b).]
The day when Old Testament saints will received the promise is the same day Christians will also receive the promise, which is Messianic in its scope of fulfilment. And the promise is heavenly, not earthly (Heb. 3: 1; 11: 10-16). The realization of this promise by Old Testament and New Testament saints has to do with both occupying positions in the kingdom of the heavens as co-heirs with Christ during the coming age.
Old Testament saints who qualified to occupy positions in the kingdom of the heavens will still realize these positions when the promise is received. And,, according to Hebrews, chapter eleven, this entire line of thought appears to even go back behind the beginning of the nation of Israel, all the way back to the time of Abel (vv. 4-7). Seemingly, those from Old Testament days who will occupy positions with Christ in the kingdom of the heavens will include not only certain individuals from the seed of Abraham through Isaac and Jacob but certain individuals from the two-thousand-year period preceding Abraham as well (cf. Matt. 8: 11; Luke 13: 28, 29).
The thought in Heb. 11: 40, concluding the chapter dealing with the faith exhibited by numerous Old Testament saints and leading into chapter twelve, is often misunderstood. The thought in this verse is not at all that God has provided something better for Christians than for the Old Testament saints previously mentioned. This verse, in order to properly continue the thought from the preceding verse (concerning Old Testament saints not having received the promise), could perhaps be better translated, God has foreseen something better [for them], which concerns us, that apart from us they might not be made perfect.
Certain saints from both Old Testament days and New Testament days, through faith, will inherit the promises together, at the same time, and place. The faith of both will have been made perfect, brought to its proper goal through works (works emanating out of their faith), and this will result in the salvation of their souls. They will be brought to this goal together, which is what God in His omnipotence and omniscience has foreseen and thus revealed in this verse.
(The rulers in the kingdom of the heavens who will occupy the throne as co-heirs with Christ will be comprised of saints from more than just the present dispensation. Even Tribulation martyrs will be included in this group [Rev. 20: 4-6]. There, thus, seems to be a firstfruits, harvest, and gleanings aspect to the matter.
The great cloud of witnesses presently surrounding Christians (Heb. 12: 1), forming an example and encouragement for Christians to exercise faith in their present pilgrim journey, as they exercised faith in their past pilgrim journey, can only be the saints mentioned in the previous chapter. These witnesses are not to be thought of as presently viewing Christians as spectators, but rather as ones who bore witness, through faith, at times in the past.
Rather than these witnesses viewing Christians, the thought is actually the opposite. Christians are the ones who view them (through that which has been recorded about their lives in Scripture; and through viewing their walk by faith during times past, Christians can derive instruction and encouragement for their own walk by faith today.
The word in the Greek text translated witnesses is the verb form of the same word translated having obtained a good report in Heb. 11: 39. In this verse, those previously mentioned obtained a good report through their actions. That is, they bore witness through faith, which resulted in [good] works. And the same thought is set forth two verses later in Heb. 12: 1.
The great cloud of witnesses in Heb. 12: 1 is comprised of those in chapter eleven, set forth as an example for Christians today. Faith resulted in their entering into numerous experiences at different times in the past, being victorious; and faith will result in the same for Christians today. Then, in that future day, all those in view (faithful Old Testament and faithful New Testament saints alike) will be brought to the goal of faith and obtain the promise together.
WEIGHTS WHICH CAN HINDER
The great cloud of witnesses surrounding us finished their pilgrim journey in a victorious manner, and we are exhorted to finish our pilgrim journey after the same fashion. Paul, in the course of his journey, said, But none of these things move me [bonds, afflictions, other things which should befall him], neither count I my life dear unto myself [cf. Phil. 1: 21], so that I might finish my course with joy ... (Acts 20: 24). And Christians are to exhibit the same attitude toward their present pilgrim journey, knowing that a just recompense of reward awaits (Heb. 12; 11: 26).
Paul pictured himself as being in a race (1 Cor. 9: 24-27), which is the thought Heb. 12: 1, 2 presents. The pilgrim walk is a race which is to be run by faith; and Pauls burning desire was to finish the race in a satisfactory manner. He didnt want to find himself having to drop out along the way because of exhaustion, or find himself disqualified at the end by not having observed the rules (2 Tim. 2: 5).
And were told that Paul succeeded in satisfactorily finishing the race which he had set out to run. Near the end of his life, in 2 Tim. 4: 7, 8, he wrote, I have fought a [the] good fight, I have finished my course [Acts 20: 24], I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.
Numerous things can hinder a runner in a race, and these things are referred to as weights in Heb. 12: 1. The thought is taken from practices of athletes preparing for the ancient Olympic games. Participants training for a race, would wear weights around their ankles, waist, and wrists in order to help build their muscles and endurance; then every weight would be removed prior to actually running the race.
This is a common practice in athletic events today. A baseball player, for example, often swings his bat with weights affixed immediately prior to taking his turn at bat. But no baseball player steps up to the plate with the weights still affixed to his bat. Roger Bannister, the first man to run a mile in less than four minutes, tells how he trained by running in the sand and running uphill to condition himself. But when it came time to run the race and go for the record, the surface upon which he ran was hard, and the race was run on level ground.
The thought though is not that we are to wear weights as we train for the race, for no Christian trains for the race after this fashion. Every Christian is presently in the race, not training for a race which lies ahead. We cannot choose whether or not we want to enter the race. Every Christian has already been entered. He was entered at the time of his salvation. And, because of this, he is exhorted to lay aside every weight which could impede his successfully running and completing the race.
The Lord brings us through various trials, testings, experiences as we study the Word and run the race, allowing us to progressively grow from immaturity to maturity (James 1: 2-4). This is the only counterpart to the conditioning and training process which an athlete undergoes prior to the race. For Christians, this training and conditioning process occurs during the course of the race; and the better equipped Christians are spiritually (the more they have grown from immaturity to maturity), the better they will be able to run the race in a satisfactory manner.
Weights which Christians are to lay aside as they run the race are not necessarily things sinful in and of themselves. Ones appetite for spiritual things may have the edge removed by indulgence in any number of things, and what may be a weight for one Christian in this realm may not necessarily be a weight for another.
A weight is simply anything which can impede ones process in the race of the faith. Anything which deadens or dulls ones sensitivity to spiritual things can only hinder his maximum efficiency and thus impede his progress in the race, being a weight.
No serious runner in the ancient Olympic games would ever have given any thought at all to running while carrying something which could impede his movement or ability to run. His training weights were put aside, and his long-flowing garment which he normally wore on the street was removed. He, as runners in athletic contests today, wore only that which was absolutely necessary.
(Participants in the original Olympic games actually ran naked, with men being the only spectators present [reflecting on these early games, our word gymnasium comes from the Greek word gumnos, meaning naked].)
A runner in the ancient Olympic games ran after a fashion which would provide him with the best opportunity to win. And any Christian, serious about also running to win, must run after the same fashion. He must lay aside any encumbrance which could hinder his progress.
In the course of the parable of the Sower in Matt. 13: 3-8 and the explanation which follows (vv. 18-23), the Lord mentioned several weights which could hinder one in the race. In the third part of the parable (vv. 7, 22), the individual sown among thorns (v. 22 should literally read, He also that was sown among thorns ...) allowed three things to choke the word [the word of the kingdom (v. 19)] and cause him to become unfruitful. He allowed 1) the care of this world [age], 2) the deceitfulness of riches, and 3) the pleasures of this life (see Luke 8: 14) to choke this Word, impeding his progress in the race, resulting in his ultimate failure.
The person sown among thorns was in a position to bring forth fruit, which indicates that the Lord was referring to His dealings with the saved, not the unsaved. Only the saved are in a position to bring forth fruit, or, as the rich young ruler in Matt. 19: 16ff, in a position to accumulate treasure in heaven. But the cares of this present age accumulated wealth, and pleasures which the present life afford (an interrelated) can - if one does not properly conduct himself within the framework of each - produce a barren life, resulting in no accumulated treasure in heaven.
Christians today, as possibly never before, are faced with problems in this whole overall realm. The commercial world has been busy providing man with every pleasure and convenience which he can afford, and man has set his sights on monetary gain so that he can live the good life. This is the direction which the world has gone, and too often Christians have allowed themselves to be caught up in many of the ways and practices of the world.
end result of the whole matter can be easily seen throughout practically any
Church across the country today. The Word of the Kingdom
is not being taught from the pulpit, those in the pew know little to nothing
about this message and Christians are so weighed down with encumbrances that
many of them have never been able to even get off the starting blocks in the
race of the faith. It is simply the
Any Christian serious about the race in which he finds himself will run after a manner which will allow him to win. The first order of business is the putting aside of any encumbrance which could impede his progress. A Christian must not allow himself to be caught up in any of the ways and practices of the world after a fashion which could be considered as weights in the race.
Theres nothing whatsoever wrong with certain activities in the world, the possession of wealth, etc. The problem comes when a Christian becomes involved in these areas, or any other area, to the extent that these things become encumbrances and impede his progress in the race. They would then be considered weights, necessitating corrective action, for whatsoever is not of faith is sin (Rom. 14: 23).
THE BESETTING SIN
The sin which doth so easily beset [ensnare, encircle] us as we run the race is not a reference to different sins for different Christians, depending on what may be thought of as a particular Christians weakness in a certain realm. This sin is the same for every Christian, and the realm of weakness is also the same for every Christian.
Any Christians weakness in any realm can always be traced back to the same central weakness - a weakness really in only one realm. The sin which doth so easily beset Christians is a reference to this central weakness. The word sin is articular in the Greek text, referring to a specific sin; and, contextually (ch. 11), this sin can only be understood as one thing - a lack of faith.
A lack of faith is responsible for the multitude of problems which surface in the lives of Christians. Spiritual weakness produced by a lack of faith will manifest itself numerous ways, causing Christians to view certain weaknesses after different fashions. One may see himself as being weak in one realm and view something connected with that realm as his besetting sin; another may see himself as being weak in a different realm and view something connected with that realm as his besetting sin. Such though is not the case at all. Problems in both realms stem from the same central problem - a lack of faith on the part of both individuals.
The question, simply put, is, What has happened to cause you to lose confidence in God? or Why have you chosen not to believe God about this matter? God has made the necessary provision for equipping and training Christians in the race (cf. Eph. 4: 11-13; James 1: 24), He has made certain promises concerning what He will do for Christians as they run the race of the faith (e.g., 1 Cor. 10: 13), and He has provided instructions on how to successfully run the race (Heb. 12: 1, 2). God is very interested in seeing every Christian run in a successful manner. No Christian has been enrolled in the race to fail.
Though all of this is true, numerous Christians pay little attention. Their interest lies elsewhere, and spiritual matters connected with the race are of little moment to them. Such Christians will ultimately fall along the pilgrim pathway, as the Israelites under Moses fell in the wilderness. They will fall on the right side of the blood but on the wrong side of the goal of their calling.
On the other hand, numerous other Christians heed that which God has said. They have a proper respect for the recompense of reward. They exercise faith and run the race in a manner which will provide victory. Such Christians, rather than falling along the pilgrim pathway, as the Israelites under Moses fell in the wilderness, will ultimately realize the goal of their calling. They, as Caleb and Joshua, will have believed God, gained the victory, and be allowed to enter into the land of their inheritance. They will come into possession of so great salvation, the salvation of their souls (Heb. 2: 3; 10: 39).
* * *
Participation in the Race
Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the jpy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God (Heb. 12: 1, 2).
Christians are in a race, and the highest of all possible prizes is being extended as an encouragement for them to run the race after a manner which will result in victory. In Heb. 12: 1, 2, the Spirit of God has provided Christians with instructions concerning how this race is to be run, and any Christian running the race after the revealed fashion can be assured that he will finish the contest in a satisfactory manner. On the other hand though, any Christian not so following these provided instructions can, under no circumstances, expect victory in the contest
If ever there was a group of individuals who should be preparing themselves for that which lies ahead, it is Christians. God has set aside an entire dispensation lasting approximately 2,000 years to acquire a bride for His Son, who will rule the earth during the coming age as co-regent with Him. Positions among those who will form the bride are to be earned, not entered into strictly on the basis of ones eternal salvation. And even among those who eventually enter into these positions, there will be no equality. Rather, there will be numerous gradations of positions held by those occupying the throne as co-regents with Christ in that day.
Christians [who will qualify for entrance into Christs millennial kingdom, will receive positions] exactly commensurate with their performance in the race. That is to say, positions with Christ in the coming age will be assigned to household servants in perfect keeping with their faithfulness to delegated responsibility during the present dispensation, for faithfulness after this fashion is how Christians run the race.
There will be a just recompense of reward for each and every Christian after the race has been run (Heb. 2: 2; 11: 26), which is the Biblical way of saying that exact payment will be given for services rendered. And such payment will be dispensed at the judgment seat following an evaluation of the services rendered in the house.
The one thing which consumed Paul, governing his every move following the point of his salvation, was being able to successfully complete the race in which he had been entered. Paul knew that he was saved and that he would go to be with the Lord when he died (2 Cor. 5: 6-8; 1 Tim. 1: 15, 16). He spent no time rethinking circumstances surrounding his salvation experience to make certain he was really saved; nor did he live after a certain fashion out of fear that he could possibly one day lose his salvation - something which Paul knew to be an impossibility (Rom. 8: 35-39). Rather, Paul set his eyes on a goal out ahead, a goal which salvation made possible (Phil. 3: 7-14)
The race in which Christians presently find themselves is, in the light of Heb. 11: 1ff and other related Scriptures, a race of the faith (cf. 2 Tim. 4: 7). The saving of the soul is in view (Heb. 10: 39), which is what Peter in his first epistle referred to as the end [goal] of the Christians faith as he runs the race Receiving the end [goal] of your faith, even the salvation of your souls (1 Peter 1: 9). And the saving or losing of ones soul has to do with occupying or being denied a position with Christ in His kingdom (cf. Matt. 16: 24-17: 5; 25: 14-30; Luke 19: 12-27).
Thus the race in which Christians are presently engaged is being run with a kingdom in view; and it is being run, more specifically, with a view to proffered positions on the throne with Gods Son in that kingdom. This is what is at stake. And there can be no higher prize than that of one day being elevated from a servant in the Lords house on this earth to a co-regent with Christ on His throne in the heavens.
How many Christians though know these things? How many, for that matter, are even interested? Christians talk about being saved and going to heaven, though most dont have the slightest idea concerning what is involved in saved mans association with the heavens.
Being saved with a corresponding assurance of heaven is often looked upon as an end in itself. However, if, such is the case, where does the race in which we are presently engaged fit in the Christian life? It doesnt, for ones eternal salvation and assurance of heaven are based entirely on Christs finished work, completely apart from the race.
One is saved with the race in view, and the race is for a revealed purpose. The teaching so prevalent today which views salvation only in the light of eternal verities - i.e., ones eternal destiny is either Heaven or Hell [i.e., the lake of fire], depending on the persons saved or unsaved status, with that being the end of the matter - is a theology which completely ignores and obscures the Word of the Kingdom. Teachings concerning the importance of salvation have not been balanced with teachings concerning the purpose of salvation.
If ever there was a group of individuals on the earth with something to live for or something to die for, it is Christians. They are in possession of the highest of all possible callings. But in spite of this, the world has never seen a group quite like those comprising Christendom today - a group of individuals who could profess so much but really profess so little.
The message is there, but Where are the Christians who know and understand these things? The race is presently being run, but Where are the serious contenders? The offer to ascend the throne with Christ has been extended, but Where are those who have fixed their eyes on this goal?
RUN WITH PATIENCE
After one lays aside every weight (any encumbrance which could prevent maximum efficiency in the race) and the sin which doth so easily beset us (lack of faith [ref. ch. 11]), he is then to run the race with patience.
Patience is a translation of the Greek word hupomone, which could perhaps be better translated, patient endurance. The thought has to do with patiently enduring whatever may come your way (trials, testings) as you run the race and keep your eyes fixed on the goal.
Hupomone is the word used in James 1: 3, 4: Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience [patient endurance]. But let patience [patient endurance] have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.
Trials and testings are a means which God uses to work patient endurance in the lives of His people; and a person, in turn, is to patiently endure whatever trials and testings the Lord may send his way. Patient endurance is to be exercised at all times, and patient endurance through trials and testings of this nature will gradually result in the person reaching the desired goal in the race of the faith.
One is to allow patient endurance to have her perfect [end-time] work. This is not something which occurs overnight or in a short period of time, but this is something which progessively occurs during the entire course of the race. According to Rom. 8: 28, all things in the lives of those called according to Gods purpose, in this respect, are working together for good. Nothing happens by accident within Gods sovereign will and purpose for an individual; everything occurs by Divine design. We can see only the present while patiently undergoing trials and testings, but God sees the future along with the present. He sees the outcome of that which is presently occurring, something which we cannot see.
(Note, for example, men such as Joseph and Moses. Joseph
couldnt see the end result of God working in his life while in an Egyptian
prison; nor could Moses see the end of the matter while herding sheep in
Midian. God though ultimately exalted
Joseph to a position on the throne in
Patient endurance being allowed to have its end-time work will result in the individual being perfect and entire, wanting nothing. That is, it will result in the individual being brought to the desired goal through the progressive working of the transformation (metamorphosis) in Rom. 12: 2 (a work of the Spirit of God within the life of a Christian as he patiently endures trials and testings, bringing about a progression from immaturity to maturity). The goal of the Spirit of God working in the life of a believer after this fashion is to ultimately produce a mature Christian who lacks nothing.
Thus patience and endurance are the two inseparable key words in this respect. A Christian is to always exercise patience, and he is to always exercise endurance with his patience. The race in which we are engaged is not one to be run over a short period of time but one to be run over the long haul. It is not a race for sprinters, though one may be called upon to sprint at times in the race. Rather, it is a race for marathon runners, set over a long-distance course. This is the reason one must run with patient endurance.
Sprinting doesnt really require patience of this nature; nor does it require one to pace himself after the fashion required to be successful in a long-distance race. In sprinting one exerts a maximum burst of speed over a short distance, knowing that his body can endure for the short time required to run the race. However, one has to properly pace himself in the long-distance race in order to endure, exercising patience throughout the course of the race.
If he allows himself to drop below his pace, he will not be continuing to exert the maximum effort his body can endure for the distance required, possibly resulting in defeat in the race. He may come in second or third rather than first, or he may not come in high enough to win a prize at all. Or, on the other hand, if he pushes himself above his pace, he will be placing a strain on his body beyond what it can endure for the distance required, possibly resulting in his having to drop out along the way and not finish the race at all.
The statement is sometimes heard in Christian circles, I would rather burn out than rust out. This, of course, is an allusion to how one paces himself in the race of the faith; and those making this statement usually look upon burn out as something to be desired. However, theres a problem with the pace which would be exhibited by either. Burn out is something which a person would experience who tried sprinting the long-distance race, and rust out is something which a person barely running would experience. Neither would allow the runner to reach the goal.
This whole overall thought is alluded to by Paul in 2 Tim. 2: 12 where he sets forth one requirement for reigning with Christ: If we suffer, we shall also reign with him ... The word suffer in the Greek text is the verb form of the same word translated patience [patient endurance] in James 1: 3, 4 and Heb. 12: 1. Thus, 2 Tim. 2: 12 should literally read, If we patiently endure, we shall also reign with him ...
Understanding that which the writer of Hebrews teaches about the race in Heb. 12: 1 and that which James teaches about progression in growth from immaturity to maturity in James 1: 24, one can easily see what Paul had in mind when he used the verb form of this same word in 2 Tim. 2: 12. Its very simple. If we patiently endure in the race of the faith, well be allowed to ascend the throne with Christ, for the one patiently enduring will have run the race after the correct fashion and will have finished his course in a satisfactory manner.
The same word translated patience in James 1: 3, 4 also appears in its verb form in James 1: 12 (same as 2 Tim. 2: 12): Blessed is the man that endureth [patiently endureth] temptation: for when he is tried [approved], he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord has promised to them that love him. Thus, patient endurance in the race of the faith during the present time, allowing the runner to complete the race after the correct fashion and in a satisfactory manner, will result not only in the runner being approved before the judgment seat [of Christ] but also in his receiving the crown of life.*
[* It should be apparent to all given eyes to see, that the crown of life is a REWARD for the runner being approved, and not ETERNAL LIFE the FREE GIFT of God (Rom. 6: 23, R.V.). Hence we see the importance of being judged worthy to be amongst those who rise out from the dead in Hades, at the time of the First Resurrection (Rev. 20: 6). cf. Luke 20: 35; 14: 14; Phil. 3: 11; Heb. 11: 35b; Rev. 3: 21; 6: 9-11).]
And James is one of the New Testament epistles which deals more specifically with the salvation of the soul. In James 1: 21, after the author has dealt with patient endurance and the end result of such endurance - i.e., has dealt with how the race is to be run, along with the outcome of satisfactorily running the race - he then refers to the engrafted word [that Word which is compatible with and natural for the new nature, the living Word of God] as that which is able to save your souls.
The reception of the Word of God is able to bring about the salvation of ones soul because it is this Word which the Spirit of God uses as He effects the metamorphosis of Rom. 12: 2. And in association with this metamorphosis, the trying of ones faith in James 1: 3 cannot be done apart from a reception of the Word of God.
Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God (Rom. 10: 17). A Christian receives into his saved human spirit that which is compatible with and natural for his new nature, the living Word of God. The indwelling Spirit of God then takes this living Word and progressively works the metamorphosis in the Christians life, progressively moving him from immaturity to maturity. And a Christian passing through this experience correspondingly exercises patient endurance in the trials and testings of his faith, which is the manner in which he is to run and properly pace himself in the race of the faith.
The Christian life, the race in which we are presently engaged, progression from immaturity to maturity, and the goal of faith are all inseparably linked together after this fashion.
LOOKING UNTO JESUS
The writer of Hebrews instructs Christians, in the course of the race, to keep their eyes fixed on Jesus. The Greek text though is much more explicit than the English translation. There are two prepositions used in the writers instructions concerning Looking unto Jesus; and the first preposition, prefixed to the word Looking, has not been translated at all. The literal word-for-word rendering from the Greek text reads, Looking from unto Jesus. The person looking unto Jesus is to correspondingly look away from anything which could, at any time, result in distraction.
referred to this same truth when He said, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God (Luke 9: 62). Such an individual would have begun after
the correct fashion by putting his hand to the plough. He would be looking straight ahead to a point
at the end of the row he was ploughing, which, in the light of Heb. 12: 2, would presuppose that he had looked away from surrounding
things. Should he though, in the course
of ploughing a row in the field, begin to look around or look back, he would be
taking his eyes off the point toward which he was moving at the end of the
row. He would no longer be looking away from anything
which could distract and be looking
toward the goal. And Jesus said that a man who could not keep his
eyes fixed on the goal was not fit for the
Paul stated the matter in these words in Phil. 3: 13, 14: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
And Paul, within this same framework in 1 Cor. 9: 26, said, I therefore so run [run to obtain an incorruptible crown (vv. 24, 25)], not as uncertainly ... That is, he didnt run aimlessly; he didnt wander back and forth from lane to lane on the track. Rather, he had his eyes fixed on a goal, and he strained every muscle of his being as he moved straight ahead toward this goal. His every action centered around one thing: completing the race in a manner which would allow him to win the prize.
The race of the faith in which Christians are presently engaged is thus not only to be run with patient endurance but the runners are to keep their eyes fixed on the [Prize the] goal out ahead. And the manner in which the runners are to do this is to look away from anything which could distract as they look unto Jesus.
1. KNOWING CHRIST
In Phil. 3: 10 Paul wrote, That I may know him Paul, of course, knew Christ insofar as his eternal salvation was concerned. Thus, he had to be referring to something beyond that which he had already experienced. The remainder of the verse, along with the context, shows that Paul had in mind a progression in spiritual growth from initially knowing Christ to that of coming into possession of a knowledge which afforded him an intimate relationship with Christ; and he counted all things in his life but loss to accomplish this end (v. 8).
One comes into a knowledge of and begins to understand different things in life by spending time in the realm where he desires familiarity. And knowledge gained is invariably commensurate with the time invested. This is true in any aspect of life. Christians come into a knowledge of Gods Word through time invested. They begin to understand more and more about Gods plans and purposes through gaining a knowledge of that which God has to say in His revelation to man. There is a rudimentary knowledge of things, gained by investing a limited amount of time; and there are varying degrees of knowledge beyond that, gained by investing varying amounts of time.
A [regenerate] Christian cannot know Christ - [in the sense of which Paul wanted to know Him] - without spending time with Christ; and the more time one spends with Christ, the more he will move toward that intimate relationship which Paul, above everything else, sought. This is the reason Christians are to look away from anything which could prove to be a distraction as they look unto Jesus.
Paul sought to know Christ after this fashion in three realms:
A) THE POWER OF HIS RESURRECTION
Death could not hold the One Who had come to accomplish the will of the Father (John 4: 34; 6: 38). This was the Fathers beloved Son [the One Who would one day exercise the rights of the firstborn], in whom the Father was well pleased (Matt. 3: 17; cf. Psa. 2: 7; Acts 13: 33, 34). And this was the One Who, at the end of His earthly ministry, could say, I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do (John 17: 4).
God raised Him [out] from the dead (Acts 13: 30), the Spirit raised Him from the dead (Rom. 8: 11), and Christ raised Himself from the dead (John 10: 17, 18). He then sat down at Gods right hand awaiting a future day - that day when His enemies would be made His footstool and He would rule the [this] earth with a rod of iron (Psa. 2: 6-9; 110:1ff; Heb. 1: 13-2: 10).
According to Acts 13: 30-34, Christs resurrection is inseparably connected with that future day - [a day of a thousand years (2 Pet. 3: 8; Rev. 20: 6)] - when He will rule and reign. The quotation in verse thirty-three, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee, refers though, not to Christs resurrection per se, but to the purpose for His resurrection. This is a quotation from the second Psalm, which is clearly Messianic (cf. Psa. 2: 6-9); and Christ was raised [out] from the dead in order that God might fulfil His promise to His people (v. 33) by giving to Christ the sure mercies of David [lit., the holy things of David] (v. 34). That is, Christ was raised from the dead in order that God might fulfil His promise concerning a coming Redeemer Who would ascend the throne of his father David and reign over the house of Jacob forever (Luke 1: 32, 33; cf. 2 Sam. 7: 12-16).
All power has been delivered into the hands of the Son (Matt. 28: 18), and He has been raised from the dead and positioned at Gods right hand, the hand of power. And in this position, with His Son in possession of all power, God has clearly stated to His Son: Sit thou at my right hand, until ... (Psa. 110: l ff).
The Son seated at His Fathers right hand is not presently exercising the power which has been delivered into His hands; nor is He fulfilling the purpose for His resurrection as given in the second and one hundred tenth Psalms. But one day this will all change. A day is coming when the Son will take possession of the kingdom which He has gone away to receive (Luke 19: 12, 15; cf. Dan. 7: 9-14), and He will then come forth as the great King-Priest after the order of Melchizedek, exercising power and authority as He sits upon His Own throne (Psa. 110: 2-4; cf. Heb. 5: 6-10; 6: 20-7: 21).
It was these things which Paul had in mind when he said that he wanted to know Christ in the power of his resurrection. As Christ was (and still is) seated with His Father on a throne from which power and authority emanates, awaiting the day of His Own power on His Own throne. Paul wanted to be among those who would one day be allowed to ascend the throne with Christ and have a part in the exercise of that power.
B) THE FELLOWSHIP OF HIS SUFFERINGS
Sufferings followed in the wake of Christs ministry, and they followed in the wake of Pauls ministry as well. And sufferings will follow in the wake of anyones ministry who seeks to come into an intimate knowledge of Christ.
All that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall [not might, but shall] suffer persecution (2 Tim. 3: 12). Persecution is the natural outcome of living godly lives. And the fellowship of Christs sufferings has to do with being like-minded concerning our sufferings, looking upon our sufferings the same way Christ looked upon His sufferings. Christ, looking at the joy that was set before him [the day when He would rule and reign] endured the cross, despising the shame [considering it to be a thing of little consequence in comparison] ... (Heb. 12: 2).
The apostles in the early Church rejoiced that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for Christs name. Why? Because they knew what lay beyond the sufferings.
1) Godliness, 2) Sufferings, and 3) Glory constitute the unchangeable order. This was true in the life of Christ (Luke 24: 25, 26; John 17: 4, 5), and it will be equally true in the lives of His [faithful and obedient] followers (Matt. 10:24; Acts 14: 22; 1 Peter 4: 12, 13).
C) BEING MADE CONFORMABLE UNTO HIS DEATH
The Creek word which Jesus used relative to laying down His life (John 10: 15, 17) is psuche in the Greek text. This is the same word translated soul numerous places throughout the New Testament. This is the word used in Matt. 16: 25, 26, translated life twice in verse twenty-five and soul twice in verse twenty-six. Soul and life are used interchangeably in this respect. Christ laid his life down in order that He might take it again (John 10: 17), which is essentially the same truth taught in Matt. 16: 25, 26 whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.*
[* NOTE. This is not an open invitation for misguided and enthusiastic Christians, who deliberately seek sufferings in the energy of the flesh! Sufferings, for speaking the truths which Christ taught, will automatically come through the circumstances which divine providence will place us: but God will not allow us to suffer more than what we are able to bear; He will always make a way for us to escape without compromising His truth.
The honour of our Master and the interests of His Kingdom are far more seriously imperilled by that which is un-Christly in the bearing and behaviour of His followers, than by what may be defective in their doctrines. A doctrine is a truth set in words. But it is set in words as a means to an end. It is set there that it may be planted in mens hearts, and may be written out a living force in their lives. (J. B. Wylie.)]
Conformable in the text is the translation of a Greek word which means to take on the same form. A Christian is to conduct his life after the same fashion Christ conducted His life, which moves toward death rather than life, for a purpose (cf. John 12: 24). He is to take the same form as Christ in this respect in order that through losing his life during the present day he might gain his life during that coming day. And the entire matter is in connection with Christ coming in the glory of his Father with his angels, rewarding every man according to his works, and reigning in the kingdom which follows (Matt. 16: 24-17: 5).
2. ATTAINING TO THE COAL
Paul sought to know Christ in the power of his resurrection, the fellowship of his sufferings, and through conformity to his death for a purpose, expressed in verse eleven: If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection [out-resurrection] of the dead, which has to do with the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus (v. 14).
The word resurrection (v. 11) is a translation of the Greek word, exanastasis. This is the same word used in the preceding verse relative to Christ, but with the preposition ek prefixed to the word (ex is the form this preposition takes when prefixed to words beginning with a vowel - thus, exanastasis). The preposition ek means out of, and this is where the translation out-resurrection is derived from the use of exanastasis in verse eleven.
The compound word, anastasis (resurrection [v. 10]), literally means to stand up (ana means up, and stasis means to stand). When referring to the dead, it means to stand up from the place of death (to be resurrected). Exanastasis, on the other hand, means to stand up out of; and if a deceased person were in view, the word would have to refer to that person standing up out (being resurrected out, an out-resurrection) from among others not raised from the dead [to bodily life]. *
[* NOTE. This out-resurrection, from among others not raised from the dead, is what the Apostle Paul - by any means - wanted to attain unto! It is a resurrection of REWARD for those who will be accounted worthy to attain [i.e., gain by effort] to that world [age] Luke 20: 35. cf. Heb. 11: 35b; Rev. 20: 6.]
THE AUTHOR AND FINISHER
OF THE FAITH
Faith in Heb. 12: 2 is not our faith, as in the English translation but the faith (note that our is in italics [KJV], indicating that it has been supplied by the translators). The word is articular in the Greek text and is a reference to the same faith seen in both 1 Tim. 6: 12 and Jude 3.
1 Tim. 6: 12 reads, Fight the good fight of [the] faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called ... This verse could be better translated, Strive in the good contest [the race] of the faith; lay hold on life for the age, whereunto thou art also called ... The word strive in the latter rendering is a translation of the Greek word, agonizomai, from which we derive our English word, agonize; and the word contest is from the Greek word agon, the noun equivalent of the verb agonizomai.
Then Jude 3 reads, Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith ... The words earnestly contend are a translation of the Greek word epagonizomai, an intensified form of the word agonizomai used in 1 Tim. 6: 12. This part of the verse could be better translated, earnestly strive for the faith; and understanding this passage in the light of 1 Tim. 6: 12, earnestly striving for the faith is not defending the faith, as some expositors suggest, but a striving with respect to the faith. Such a striving has to do with remaining faithful to ones calling within the house, properly running the race, i.e., earnestly striving in the race of the faith.
Christ is both the author [the Originator, Founder] and finisher [the One Who carries through to completion] of the faith. He is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending ... (Rev. 1: 8). And we are to fix our eyes upon Him, as we look away from anything which could distract, and run the race with patient endurance.
* * *
Goal of the Race
Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God (Heb. 12: 1, 2).
The race in which Christians find themselves is not something optional in the Christian life. Rather, it is a race in which all Christians have been automatically enrolled. Christians enter the race at the moment of belief, at the moment of [initial] salvation.
Thus, there is nothing which a Christian can do about entering or not entering the race. He has no choice concerning the matter. He has been entered in the race, with an ultimate God-ordained goal in view.
He though does have a choice concerning how he runs the race. He can follow provided instructions and run the race after a fashion which will allow him to win, or he can ignore the provided instructions and run the race after a different fashion, one which can only result in loss.
And not only are instructions given for properly running the race, but information is also given concerning why the race is being run and exactly what awaits all Christians, all runners, after the race is over.
The race is being run in order to afford Christians the highest of all possible privileges - that of qualifying to occupy positions on the throne as co-heirs with Christ during the coming age. Awards having to do with [entrance into (Matt. 5: 20)] positions of honour and glory in the Sons [millennial] kingdom await the successful competitors, and the denial of awards, resulting in shame and disgrace in relation to the Sons kingdom, awaits the unsuccessful competitors.
these things will allow an individual to view both evangelism and the Christian
life which follows within a proper interrelated Biblical perspective. Man has been saved for a purpose which has to
do with the coming [millennial]
[* NOTE. An assurance of heaven will, sooner or later, be realised by all the regenerate. There will be a new heaven and a new earth (Rev. 21: 1), after Death and Hades gives up the dead that are in them. (Presumably this will include some regenerate believers, who did not rise from amongst the dead in Hades at the time of the First Resurrection!) - when the thousand years are finished (Rev. 20: 7).]
God is taking an entire dispensation, lasting approximately 2,000 years, to acquire the rulers who will ascend the throne and rule in the numerous positions of power and authority as co-heirs with His Son. These individuals will form the bride who will reign as consort queen with Gods Son. And the numerous rulers, forming the bride, will be taken from those running and finishing the race in a satisfactory manner.
Salvation removes man from one realm (one in which he cannot run the race) and places him in another (one in which he automatically finds himself in the race). Redeemed man has been removed from a realm associated with darkness (with the lake of fire as his ultimate destiny), and he has been placed in a realm associated with light (with heaven now his ultimate destiny). And he finds himself in the race only after this transference has occurred, for the revealed purpose surrounding Gods reason for the present dispensation.
The opening chapter of Colossians touches upon the overall matter within this framework about as well as any place in the New Testament. This chapter reveals both the Christians transference from a realm of darkness to one of light and the reason God has brought this change about.
The Christians removal from one realm and placement in another is spoken of in verses thirteen and fourteen: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son. In whom we have redemption through his blood ... Man, by means of redemption, has been delivered from one realm and placed in another, for a purpose; and that purpose is outlined in verses both preceding and following the statement surrounding this fact.
Redemption is mentioned again in verses twenty and twenty-one, but all the remaining verses in this chapter - verses both preceding and following those dealing with mans redemption - relate to the purpose for redemption. And nothing is said in these verses about ones eternal destiny. Rather, because one has been saved and his eternal destiny is now a settled matter, because he has been removed from one realm and placed in another, a hope and an inheritance come into view, (cf. vv. 5, 12, 23, 27). And the chapter concerns itself primarily with this hope and inheritance, which are in connection with the present race of the faith and have to do with positions of honour and glory in the future kingdom of Christ.
The words hath translated in Col. 1: 13 - hath translated us - are from a word in the Greek text which means to be removed from one place and positioned in another. When the First Man, the First Adam, fell, he found himself transferred in an opposite sense to that given in Col. 1: 13. Adam found himself separated from God; and since Adam fell as the federal head of the human race and his progeny (the unredeemed) today find themselves in the sphere described in Col. 1: 13 as the power of darkness, this would have to be the place in which Adam also found himself following the fall. Adams fall resulted in his removal from the realm where he could realize the reason for his creation and his placement in a realm where he could not.
Adams subsequent redemption though (Gen. 3: 15, 21) allowed God to place him back in the position for which he had been created. Redemption allowed God to remove him from the realm into which he had fallen and place him in an entirely different realm. But his redemption and removal from the realm into which he had fallen did not do away with the sin problem. Adam was not redeemed as the federal head of the human race in the same sense that he had fallen as the federal head. The old sin nature which he possessed following the fall remained unchanged (cf. Gen. 1: 24). Adam, as redeemed man today, was still a fallen being; and all his progeny beyond that point were begotten after his fallen image and likeness rather than after his previous unfallen image and likeness (cf. Gen. 3: 21; 5: 3).
And the purpose surrounding the redemption of Adams progeny, as in Adams case, is no different. Redemption is for the purpose of placing man back in the position for which he was originally created. The second Man, the Last Adam, has reconciled man to God, He has made peace through the blood of his cross (Rom. 5: 10; Col. 1: 20, 21). That which was lost through Adams fall has been regained through Christs redemptive work: For by one mans disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous (Rom. 5: 19).
The power of darkness and the
kingdom of his dear Son in Col. 1: 13 point to places diametrically opposed to one another, but these places
must be looked upon in the sense that both have to do with the same thing. Both have to do with kingdoms -
is the present world ruler, and the whole world lieth in wickedness [in the wicked one], i.e., in the
Both kingdoms are actually looked upon as one kingdom in Rev. 11: 15 the kingdom of the world, which will one day become the kingdom of our Lord, and of his Christ (ASV). Viewing matters in this respect, man, at any point in his existence, has never been separated from the kingdom in which he is destined to one day rule. Man was created to rule in the kingdom; and in his fallen state, no longer in a position to rule, he still finds himself associated with the kingdom, though under Satans control and dominion. Unredeemed man finds himself in the present kingdom of the world (called in Col. 1:13, the power of darkness), and redeemed man finds himself actually in the kingdom of our Lord, and of his Christ, though Christ is not yet occupying the throne (called in Col. 1: 13. the kingdom of his dear Son).
kingdom of his
dear Son in Col. 1:13 should thus not be thought of in some spiritual sense. The present
The whole act should be understood in the same framework as our being raised up together and made to sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus (Eph. 13; 16). The key words are in Christ. Positionally we are in the heavenlies in Christ, the Second Man, the Last Adam (completely separated from Satans kingdom), even though actually here and now we still reside in this body of death in Satans kingdom. Spiritual values are involved, but these spiritual values cannot ignore a literal fact: We reside exactly where Eph. 1: 3; 2: 6 and Col. 1: 13 state that we reside, removed from the power of darkness and placed in the kingdom of his dear Son.
(Viewing matters relative to the place Christians reside in relation to the kingdom of the world will settle the matter once and for all as to what part, if any, a Christian should have in the political structure of the present world system. In the light of Col. 1: 13 and related Scripture, the matter can only be viewed one way: Christians involving themselves; after any fashion, on any level, in the politics of the present world system, [in the politics of world government as it presently exists] are delving into the affairs of a kingdom from which they have been delivered.)
only would the first part of Col.
1: 13 necessitate that the kingdom of his dear Son be looked upon as a present reference to the literal coming
Our salvation thus involves the transference from one kingdom into another, but the purpose for our salvation involves something beyond that transference. It involves the kingdom in which we now find ourselves. And the race is associated with the latter, not the former.
We are presently running to win awards, and these awards all have to do with the same thing - positions of honour and glory in the kingdom of his dear Son in that future day when Christ and His co-heirs ascend the throne together.
THE JOY SET BEFORE HIM
finisher of our [the] faith, the One
we are to look unto as we look away from anything which could cause distraction, is
described in Heb. 12: 2 as One Who had His eyes fixed on the joy that was set before
him as He bore our sins in his own body on
the tree (1 Peter 2: 24). Christ viewed
Calvary within the framework of that which lay beyond
ignominious shame and indescribable sufferings of
Following His resurrection, when Christ confronted the two disciples on the Emmaus road and other disciples later in Jerusalem, He called attention to a constant theme throughout the Old Testament Scriptures: Israels Messiah was going to first suffer these things [events surrounding Calvary] and then enter into His glory (Luke 24: 25-27, 44, 45).
Joseph, a type of Christ, first suffered prior to finding himself seated on Pharaohs throne ruling over all the land of Egypt (Gen. 37: 20ff; 39: 20ff; 41: 40ff). Moses, another type of Christ, first suffered rejection at the hands of his people before being accepted by them. Rejection was followed by his experiences in Midian, and acceptance was followed by the people of Israel being led out of Egypt to be established in a theocracy in the land covenanted to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Ex. 2: 11ff; 3: 1ff; 12: 40, 41).
such as Psa. 22-24 or Isa. 53: 1ff (
James, and John on the Mount with Christ during the time of His earthly
ministry saw his
glory (Luke 9: 32), and Peter, years later, associated the glory which they had seen at this time with the power and coming of our
Lord Jesus Christ (2 Peter 1: 16-18). Christs glory thus has to do with
that day when He will occupy the throne and rule the earth (as Joseph on
the throne ruling
In Heb. 12: 2, the wording is slightly different. In this passage were told that Christs sufferings preceded the joy [rather than the glory] set before Him. This though, in complete keeping with Old Testament prophecy, is clearly a reference to sufferings preceding Christs glory and to Christ looking beyond the sufferings to the time when he would enter into His glory.
In the parable of the talents in Matt. 25: 14ff, Christ referred to individuals who would enter into positions of power and authority with Him as entering into the joy of thy Lord (vv. 21, 23; cf. Luke 19: 16-19). Thus, the sufferings and joy of Heb. 12: 2 follow the same order and refer to the same two things as the sufferings and glory found elsewhere in Scripture.
In keeping with the theme of Hebrews though, theres really more to the expression, the joy that was set before him, than just a general foreview of Christs coming glory. The thought here is much more specific Note in the parable of the talents that the joy of thy Lord is associated with Christs co-heirs entering into positions on the throne with him and the key thought throughout Hebrews is that of Christ bringing many sons unto glory (2: 10)
is what Christ had His eyes fixed upon when He endured the humiliation, shame,
and sufferings of
1. ENDURED THE CROSS
something, and note it well. It is because of
viewed the events surrounding
being more specific, Christ, through His work at
cross, knowing these things, with
His eyes accordingly fixed on the joy that was set
before him; and man today, viewing
2. DESPISED THE SHAME
for the joy that
was set before him, not only endured the Cross but He despised the
shame. The word for in this
verse - for the
joy - is a translation of the
Greek word anti, which refers to
setting one thing over against another.
The joy was set over against the shame. Christ
considered the ignominious shame
Events of that coming day when He and His bride would
ascend the throne together so far outweighed events of the present day that
Christ considered being spat upon, beaten, and humiliated to the point of being
arrayed as a mock King things of comparatively little consequence. He then went to
And a Christian should view present persecution,
humiliation, and shame after the same fashion Christ viewed these things at
The Epistles of 1, 2 Peter have been written to encourage Christians who are being tested and tried; and this encouragement is accomplished through offering compensation for the sufferings which one endures during the present time. And this compensation - rewards having to do with [an entrance and] positions of honour and glory in the Sons kingdom - will be exactly commensurate with present sufferings (1 Peter 1: 6, 7; 4: 12, 13; Cf. Matt. 16: 27).
(Note that the sufferings in 1, 2 Peter, resulting in future rewards, appear in connection with an inheritance reserved in heaven and a [future] salvation ready to be revealed in the last time, which is the salvation of your souls [1 Peter 1: 4, 5, 9])
Following the example which Christ set at
SAT DOWN AT GODS RIGHT HAND
Following His death and subsequent resurrection, Christ spent forty days with His followers, presenting many infallible proofs concerning His resurrection and instructing them in things pertaining to the kingdom of God (Acts 1: 3; cf. Luke 24: 25-48; 1 Cor. 15: 3-7). He was then taken up into heaven. With His arms outstretched, blessing His disciples, a cloud, the Shekinah Glory, received Him out of their sight (cf. Luke 24: 50, 51; Acts 1: 9; 1 Tim. 3: 16).
Then, even before the disciples had removed their eyes from that point in the heavens where Christ disappeared from their sight, two messengers who had been dispatched from heaven stood by them and said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven (Acts 1: 11).
Two things are certain from the words of these messengers: 1) Christ will one day return, and 2) His return will be in the same manner as His departure.
Christ ascended in a body of flesh and bones, and He will return in this same body (Zech. 12: 10; 11: 6); Christ ascended from the land of Israel, from the midst of His people, and He will return to this same land, to His people (Zech. 14: 4); Christ was blessing those in His midst at the time He was taken into heaven, and Christ will bless Israel at the time of His return (Joel 2: 23-27; cf. Gen. 14: 18, 19; Matt. 26: 26-29); Christ was received up into glory, and He will return in the glory of his Father with his angels (Matt. 16: 27; 1 Tim. 3: 16).
During the time between His ascension and His return - a period lasting approximately 2,000 years - Christ has been invited to sit at His Fathers right hand, upon His Fathers throne (Psa. 110: 1; Rev. 3: 21). Christ was told by His Father, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool (Psa. 110:1).
The right hand points to the hand of power, and universal rule emanates from this throne. Though the Son occupies a position denoting power and is seated upon a throne from which universal rule emanates, the Son is not exercising power and authority after a kingly fashion with, His Father today. Rather, He is [presently] occupying the office of Priest, awaiting the day of His power as King. He is to sit on His Fathers throne until that day when the Father will cause all things to be brought in subjection to the Son. Then, and only then, will Christ leave His Fathers throne and come forth to reign upon His Own throne as the great King-Priest after the order of Melchizedek (Psa. 110: 2-4).
1. MY THRONE, MY FATHERS THRONE
In Revelation, chapters two and three, there are seven messages to seven Churches, and each of the seven messages contains an overcomers promise. These are promises to overcoming Christians, and all seven are millennial in their scope of fulfilment. All seven will be realized during the one-thousand-year period when Christ and His co-heirs rule the earth.
The last of the overcomers promises has to do with Christians one day being allowed to ascend the throne with Christ, and this forms the pinnacle toward which all the overcomers promises move.
To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne (Rev. 3: 21).
The analogy in this verse has to do with Christians patterning their lives after Christs life, with overcoming and the throne in view. Christ overcame and is presently occupying a position with the Father on His throne, and Christians who overcome are to one day occupy a position with the Son on His throne.
Note the exact wording of the text: to him that overcometh ... even as I also overcame ... - A conflict ending in victory is in view first, and then the throne comes into view. The latter is not attained without the former.
Christs overcoming is associated with His sufferings during the time of His shame, reproach, and rejection; and Scripture makes it very clear that overcoming for Christians is to be no different. Christ has suffered for us, leaving us an example ... (1 Peter 2: 21). But beyond the sufferings lies the glory, as the night in the Biblical reckoning of time is always followed by the day (cf. Gen. 1: 5, 8, 13, 19, 23, 31).
In Revelation, chapters two and three, overcoming is with a view to the throne; and in portions of Scripture such as the Books of 1, 2 Peter, suffering is with a view to glory. Thus, overcoming is inseparably associated with suffering, as is the throne with glory,
2. A RULE WITH A ROD OF IRON
The Father has not only invited the Son to sit at His right hand, awaiting the day of His power on His Own throne, but He has told the Son certain things about that coming day, things which He has also seen fit to reveal to man in His Word. Portions of the second Psalm provide one example of this:
Ask of me, and I will give thee the heathen [Gentiles] for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession. Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potters vessel (vv. 8, 9).
Then a portion of these words of the Father to the Son have been repeated by the Son in His words to the Church in Thyatira, forming the fourth of the seven overcomers promises in Revelation, chapters two and three.
And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations: And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father (Rev. 2: 26, 27).
For one thousand years Christ and His co-heirs are going to rule the earth with a rod of iron. They are going to rule the earth after this fashion to produce perfect order where disorder had previously existed, to produce a cosmos where a chaos had previously existed. And at the end of the thousand years, after perfect order has been restored, the kingdom will be turned back over to God the Father so that God may be all in all (1 Cor. 15: 24-28).
Co-heirship with Gods Son, participation in the activities attendant the bride, being seated on the throne with Christ for one thousand years; ruling the earth with a rod of iron - events which will occur once, never to be repeated - await those who run the present race of the faith after a manner which will allow them to win.
is what lies ahead for those who, as Moses, possess a proper respect for the recompense
of the reward. Moses looked beyond present circumstances and, by faith, considered the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in
must look away from anything which could distract as they look unto
author and finisher of our [the] faith. They must keep their eyes fixed on the goal,
looking beyond present circumstances to that which lies ahead. They must centre their attention on the joy which lies ahead rather than upon present sufferings, viewing both the joy and sufferings within the same framework which Christ viewed them at
Runners who heed Christs instructions and follow the example which He has set will win. They will realize the goal of their calling.
Those though who fail to so govern their actions in the race cannot win. They can only fall by the wayside, short of the goal of their calling.
So run, that ye may obtain (1 Cor. 9: 24).
* * *
THE KINGDOM A
By D. M. PANTON, B. A.
There is one
overwhelming proof that no believer
will enter the
First of all, the Second Psalm at once lays bare that the Kingdom is a gift to Christ, not an inheritance. When the nations are surging in revolt, and the peoples are seeking to stamp out the Lord and His Christ, Jehovah says: Ask of me - the Kingdom is therefore a commanded aim and ambition of the Son of God and I will GIVE thee the nations for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession (Psalm 2: 8). Nothing could be more explicit. So far from the rule over earth, immediately following the Apostasy, being a perquisite of the Son of God as such, it is solely a gift from God, and a gift dependant (to begin with) on prayer. Ask of me, and I will give. Christ is the nobleman who has gone into a far country, to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return, having received the kingdom (Luke 19: 12): so even to Apostles Jesus says: Seek ye first the Kingdom of God - seek it so as to possess it and his righteousness - the godlikeness that ensures it. Ask of me, and I will give thee the nations.
But Scripture now unfolds that this gift is the fruit of a great deal more than a mere desire and prayer. Not unto angels, says the Apostle, did he subject the world to come - the inhabited earth whereof we speak (Hebrews 2: 5); but of the Son he saith, Thy throne - the Throne of the inhabited earth to come - O God, is for ever and ever: thou hast loved righteousness and hated iniquity; THEREFORE God, thy God - it is as a Man He is addressed, and so God is His God hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows (Hebrews 1: 8). Christ loved righteousness and hated iniquity, and lived that love and hate: therefore - on that ground alone - God has anointed Him with supreme joy. So our Lord says to us: Not everyone that saith to me, Lord, Lord - the natural definition of a Christian* - shall enter into the kingdom of heaven, but he that doeth the will of my Father (Matt. 7: 21) - who lives Christs love and hate.
* Because if thou shalt confess with thy mouth Jesus as Lord, and shalt believe in thy heart that God raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved (Romans 10: 9).
But the Lords coronation is a consequence of more
than life-long obedience. A fresh statement makes His achievement of the
Kingdom on the ground of martyrdom as plain as words can make it. We behold him who hath been
made a little lower than the angels
- that is made human - even Jesus, because of the suffering of death, crowned
(Hebrews 2: 9). Had our Lord thrown up everything in
* Angel of Smyrna, Greek, Messenger
of the church in
The truth is sunk deeper into our minds by another passage which measures the reward as an exact reversal of the loss; and both, in our Lords case, are of course absolutely unique. Who, being in the form of God, emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, becoming obedient even unto death, yea, the death of the cross: WHEREFORE also God highly exalted him, and gave unto him the name which is above every name (Philippians 2: 6). His exaltation fits exactly His humiliation. He descended from the Godhead from life to death; He descended from normal death to a criminals death; therefore He is highly exalted - His exaltation is super-superlative - the word is emphatic and unique: in His resurrection, exalted; in His ascension, highly exalted; in His return to God, exalted above all the heavens; and in His session on the Throne, exalted above all exaltation. So the principle is made equally applicable to us. With what measure ye mete, it shall be measured unto you (Matthew 7: 2): every one that hath left houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or children, or lands, for my names sake, shall receive a HUNDREDFOLD (Matthew 19: 29): Because thou wast found faithful in a very little, have thou authority over TEN CITIES (Luke 19: 17).
A further proof presents itself. Various passages associate the Saviour with human companions who achieve glory on identical grounds; that is, not as sons of God, but as men who, like Himself, renounced everything for the Age to Come. So Jehovah said through Isaiah (53: 12): I will divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; a statement remarkably confirmed by our Lords own words, - the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and men of violence take it by force (Matthew 11: 12). These associates of our Lord are again named in Hebrews (1: 9): Thou hast loved righteousness and hated lawlessness: therefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows. What constitutes this fellowship is made clear by another Scripture. For we are become - after conversion fellows* of Christ, IF we hold fast the beginning of our confidence firm unto the end (Hebrews 3: 14). Our own language is similar. The highest men of science become Fellows of the Royal College of Physicians: so of believers it is written, - Heirs [indeed] of God, as born again and sharing His eternal life; [but] JOINT-HEIRS with Christ, IF so be that we suffer with him, that we may also be glorified with him (Romans 8: 17). For IF we suffer with him, we shall also reign with him (2 Timothy 2: 12). Thus the [Millennial] Kingdom throughout is made conditional on Christ-like character and conduct.
* The word can be translated - sharers, partners, companions.
Our Lord Himself sets the final seal on this truth. He that overcometh, I will give to him to sit down with me in my throne - manifestly the Millennial Throne - EVEN AS - that is, on identical grounds, for identical reasons - I also - I correspondingly with my brethren overcame, and sat down with my Father on his throne (Revelation 3: 21). Here entrance into the coming Reign of both Christ Himself and all who will share His Throne is based four-square, not on grace or gift, but on so running the race as to win the prize. The Lord Himself here makes our experience identical with His own. Just as the Eternal Glory of Christ, the glory which He had with the Father before the world was, rests solely on the fact that He is the Son of God, while His Millennial Glory, the glory He receives on returning to this earth, rests solely on His achievements and sufferings as the Son of Man: exactly so, our Eternal Glory - when all whose names are in the Lambs Book of Life shall reign for ever and ever (Revelation 22: 5), totally irrespective of works done either before or after faith - rests solely on the fact that we are the sons of God; while our Millennial Glory - if we achieve it, as Christ did - rests solely on our obedience and suffering as SERVANTS of the Most High, when we shall be priests of God and of Christ, and reign with him a thousand years (Revelation 20: 6).
Finally, the motive that moved our Lord is to be ours also, and both are wonderfully compacted into one verse. Let us also lay aside every weight, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus - our model runner who FOR THE JOY THAT WAS SET BEFORE HIM endured the cross, despising shame (Hebrews 12: 1). Here dawns on us the immense importance to us all of this truth being clearly stated. To assume that to be a gift which as a matter of fact is a REWARD is almost certainly to lose it; because the conditions on which the prize is given are ignored, and therefore, with almost equal certainty, some condition or conditions will be unfulfilled, and so cancel the reward. If our Saviour could go through all His unparalleled agony because of the joy set before Him, how much more can we muster our present, however disconcerting, for a future of such boundless joy. Wherefore, brethren, give the more diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye DO these things - that is, add the seven graces to saving faith (verse 5) Ye shall never stumble: for thus shall be richly supplied unto you the entrance because an entrance a thousand years earlier - into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ (2 Peter 1: 10).
* * *
KEEP IN MIND THE FOLLOWING
To take such promises of reward and glory as are given to special labour and make them the portion of all believers, however unfaithful to the Lord, is to destroy the power of the promised recompense. God knows our need of the hope of the reward or He would not have said so much about it in His Word. And Satan knows its practical power when fully realised, and has therefore struggled to blind the eyes of the children of God to this doctrine altogether; either mixing it up with [eternal] salvation or filling the mind with mock humility that counts it presumption to strive for the offered crown. The fact that our strivings being all so mixed with sin shall be lost amidst the honours that shall grace the saints in that day of glory.
Do not be side-tracked by those who consider reward beneath the notice of a Christian: you will find as you consciously strive after Gods standard, for His approval in that great Day, that your life will enrich and expand in blessing towards all, Seek ye first then bring others.
Lastly, I implore you to be careful to obey the responsibility truths, to disregard which will wreck all our highest achievements. I pray Gods richest blessings on you all.
D. M. Panton.
This is a time when all our service should take hold of the coming of the Lord! It is not a normal routine, but we are working under the pressure of an approaching crisis, looking unto and hastening toward the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ! Let the watchword, Unto the coming of the Lord, be as a kind of inscription on everything that comes into daily life, regulating our friendships, affections, service, and all our thoughts of the future.
Dr. A. B. Simpson.
Obedience to God is the crucial matter. God is the living God, not a dead, inactive or silent Being. He cannot be ignored with impunity, or even by His children. He has living energy; power to succour, power to punish. His word likewise is a living word; it is never obsolete, inoperative, ineffective, a dead letter. It is active, two edged, pointed; it cuts, it pierces, it dissects. Blessed are they that welcome its surgery, for it promotes health; miserable is he who resists its point and edge. For if the words of a sinful mortal can be sharp as a two-edged sword (Prov. 5: 4) how much more those of a sin hating God.
G. H. Lang.
Suffering with or on behalf of Christ must precede reigning with Christ. The latter cannot be realized apart from the former. Such suffering is inseparably linked with obedience; and the text [in Heb. 5: 9] clearly states that Christ is the source of the future salvation unto all them that [presently] obey him, in the same respect that Christ is the source of presently possessed eternal salvation for all those who have (in the past) believed on Him.
1 Peter 1: 11, relative to the saving of the soul (vv. 9, 10), states, Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify when it [He] testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ [lit. the sufferings with respect to Christ], and the glory that should follow.
The thought, contextually, is not at all that of Christ suffering. Rather, the thought has to do with Christians suffering with respect to Christs suffering, subsequently realizing the [future] salvation of their souls through having a part in the [First Resurrection and millennial] glory which is to follow the sufferings.
- Dr. A. L. Chitwood.*
But while we are regenerate believers, and, as such, sure, on the promise of God, of obtaining eternal life; God yet has room to punish offenders. The millennial day is a day of recompense for our works, whether good or evil. A thousand years of time is enough to mark Gods pleasure in our works, or His displeasure against them. As eternal life shows His pleasure in the work of Christ, and in those who by faith and obedience are one with Him, so will the recompense of the millennial day, for good or for evil, display His sentiments concerning the special work of each regenerate believer.
The worldly often cry out against professors of religion, as guilty of cheating, and taking unfair advantage in business. It is doubtless too often true. Not a few converted persons offend thus. Here then is the threatened justice of God against such. If His saints sin wilfully, they shall not go unpunished. He hates the offence in them, as truly as in the worldly. He has devised a way, whereby He will make His displeasure visible to all intelligent beings, and felt by themselves.
Let all believers then keep this first truth clearly before their eye. Say ye to the righteous that it shall be well with him, for they shall eat the fruit of their doings: Isaiah 3: 10.