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We may now examine in what way the apostle applies this teaching. The followers of Christ are “one body." They are united to Him who is the Head of that one body. An abandonment of that one body is declared by the apostle to be a manifestation that those who left did not belong to that body. He further declares them to be antichrists, saying that when he wrote there were many such. At that time the "one body” was not outwardly broken into fragments as at present. When any one deserted the family of God, he must needs return to the world. Renouncing the protection of the Good Shepherd, he returned to the dominion of Satan.
But broken to pieces and mixed up with the world as the Church ostensibly now is, there are yet those who know that the body is still one. Some few have acted on this knowledge, coming out from the world and from the various sectarian parties to gather together round their crucified and risen Lord. It will be well for them if they continue thus, and, in obedience to the command of their Lord, resist all efforts of Satan to disunite them. He is not unskilful in inventing plausible pretexts for scattering those whom Christ has joined together, for transforming them once more into sectarian bodies, and for reuniting them with the world. All this is to the dishonour of their Master, and therefore to their own irreparable loss.
"Love not the world,” says the apostle, “neither the things that are in the world; for all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.” The desire of supremacy, or ambition, is alike adverse to the Father in the Church as in the world. The other masterpassion of the human heart, avarice, is equally subversive of the Father's will; and also the pride or boasting of life,
. since we know not what a day will bring forth.
The darkness is past: the true light now shines. Ignorance of God's character and pleasure, whether entire or comparative, has been removed by the shining of the true light. That light reveals that God is love. Darkness, therefore, is as closely allied to hatred as light is to love. He that loveth not his brother abides in darkness, and walks in darkness, and knows not whither he goes because that darkness has blinded his eyes. He that hates his brother is apart from God; of the family of Cain, a murderer. He has not eternal life abiding in him. At the same time it is quite possible for him to say he is in the light. Nevertheless he is in the darkness, even until now. deceive himself or his fellow-man, but God is not mocked. As each sows, so shall he reap. That the Jews, while our Lord was on earth, believed that in possessing the Scriptures, they possessed eternal life, is manifest from John v. 39. Of this notion the Lord was careful to disabuse them. So also does the apostle herein labour.
In chap. iii. two families are designated : the family of God and the family of Satan. Those who are born of God, love the children of God. Those who are born of the devil hate them. The children of God are not to be surprised at the world's hatred. It hated their Lord, and of course it will hate them. It hated Him because of His obedience to His Father. It hates us in proportion to our obedience to our Lord.
“In this the children of God are manifest and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother.” The apostle Paul declares that all manner of gifts may be possessed without love; that love far exceeds them all ; and that, if love be not present, these gifts are profitless to him that possesses them. And no wonder, for he “abideth in death!'
Many motives are adduced by the apostle to enforce this brotherly love among the children of God. If we walk in the light, we must love each other. We walk in the darkness we do not. It is sin to do otherwise. God's love is perfected in us if we love one another. Hating a brother is accounted murder.
Christ came to destroy the works of the devil, amongst which is hatred. Brotherly love is the command of God. God sets the example to His children (chap. iv. 11). He is a liar who says he loves God and hates his brother. To love our brother is part of our love towards God (v. 1). The practice of this love evinces that we are born of God and know God (iv. 7.); he that loveth not, knoweth not God.
This brotherly love is to be displayed by uniting with Christ's people (chap. i. 7; ii. 19); by laying down our lives for them (iii. 16); by relieving their necessities (iii. 17); by praying for them if they sin (v. 16). R. N.
HOW A PASTOR MAY HELP THE FLOCK.
So fully may a good example be set by one who is a pastor after God's heart that when he is removed by death he may still be remembered, his faith followed, and the end of his manner of life be considered. (Heb. xiii. 7.) If however, he exhort others to be followers of himself, let him add the qualifying words “even as I am of Christ.”
. (1 Cor. xi. 1.) Let Christ in glory be so fully his object that he may be able to say, “Be followers together of me,” or with me. (Phil. iii. 14-17.)
This principle so animated Paul, that we find him counselling Timothy in accordance with it. How is his “son in the faith ” to command the respect of others, notwithstanding his youth? By being “an example of the
believers in word, in conversation, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity.” (1 Tim. iv. 12.)
How impressive, by reason both of its nature and of its circumstances, is the scene in John xiii. 1-17 where our Lord washes His disciples' feet. Apart from all other thoughts which might here pass through our minds, we would, for our present purpose, simply draw attention to verse 15, “I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.”
Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ, saluteth you, always labouring fervently for you in prayers, that ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God." (Col. iv. 12.) Thus did this fellow-prisoner of Paul (Philemon 23) much help his Colossian brethren, while forcibly kept from them. He could not follow up his prayers by other pastoral service, but he so felt the value of prayer that it is said that in it he “laboured fervently.” The Greek word implies a very wrestling of soul in prayer, and is of the same root as the substantive translated “agony" in Luke xxii. 44.
Paul's writings give frequent evidence of his abundant prayers for his brethren, for those unknown to him by face as well as for those among whom he had personally laboured. Yea, he did “not cease to pray” for the Colossians, though he had only "heard of their faith.” (See chaps. i. 4-9 and ii. 1.) Recognising that he was their debtor, they were thus continually upon his heart, and we тау
be sure that he was all the better able to help them by an epistle, in that he had already long done much for them in prayer.
Our Lord, too, values such intercessory prayer. He does not depend only upon warning when he says to
Christ was being made sin for us, and before the atonement had been sealed in death, God as the sin-avenger had heard and answered, He would have violated all the conditions that brought Christ to the
Thus in Heb. v, 7 we read that He who in resurrection was constituted "a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec,” in the days of His flesh “offered up prayers and supplication with strong crying and tears unto Him that was able to save lim from death ;” but the answer came only after-He had passed through death, and He was saved “out of” it. Also in Psa. xxii., He who said in verse 2, “Thou hearest not,” said in verse 21, in connection with resurrection, " Thou hast heard Me,” and adds, “I will declare Thy name unto My brethren ; and in verse 24, “He hath not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted ... but when He cried unto Him He heard." What is the distinction between “ the kingdom of heaven” and “the
kingdom of God ?" It will have been noticed that while the expression “the kingdom of heaven” is almost invariably used in the gospel of Matthew, it is never used elsewhere in the New Testament. The reason of its use by Matthew is evidently not from any essential difference between the terms “kingdom of heaven” and “ kingdom of God,” but because Matthew's gospel has especial reference to Christ as the Son of David and lawful inheritor of David's temporal, earthly throne ; and the Spirit of God by this expression emphasises the fact that the kingdom of the Messiah will not find its establishment and support from conflicts and struggles upon earth ; but, as we are told in the book of Daniel, its establishment and its glory will be directly from heaven. Thus while in Mat. thew the heavenly origin of the kingdom is dwelt upon, what we may call the Gentile gospels of Mark and Luke, as well as Paul's writings and ministry to the Gentile Churches, bring into prominence the fact that the kingdom is set up by God, and not by man. Our Lord alluding to this, says to Pilate, “ My kingdom is not of this world ;” the preposition “of” (ex) implying that earth was not its source. Christ was Himself the basis of the kingdom, for all centred in Him, and God says, “I lay in Zion for a foundation, a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation.” God, not man, is the founder of the kingdom ; and heaven, not earth, is the source of its authority,
Who are the “ angels that sinned,” referred to in 2 Peter ii, 4 ; Jude 6? The language used concerning them shows that they are not the “ wicked spirits in the heavenlies ” (Eph. vi.), who are to be cast out of heaven. (Rev. xii.) It is unsafe to hazard conjectures, and our wisdom in this as in other matters is to await the unfoldings of eternity,