by W.B. Screws

The Pilgrim's Messenger

"Have a pattern of sound words which you hear from me, in faith and love
which are in Christ Jesus."--11 Timothy 1:13
Published Monthly By W. B. SCREWS, Glennville, Georgia
Twenty-five Cents a Year

Volume XVI

June, 1937

Number 11.

Entered at the postoffice at Glennville, Ga., as second-class matter.

"Now I am intending you to know, brethren, that my affairs have rather come to be for the progress of the evangel,"

(Phil. 1:12).

Paul was a prisoner when he wrote these words.  But instead of being in prison, he was permitted to live in a rented house under guard.  And this was favorable to the evangel.  When he was first apprehended he was accused by the Jews of profaning their temple, but they later employed an attorney who accused him before the Roman authorities of plotting the overthrow the government of Caesar, (Acts 21:28; 24:1-8).  The very fact that Rome did not immediately execute him, was notice to the world that Paul's evangel and his stewardship were not against the Roman government.  Caesar had examined him and found this to be true.  The fact that Paul's life was spared was proof of it.  This, becoming known abroad, was favorable to the progress of the evangel.  

His location in Rome was suitable for the defense of the evangel.  If anyone said Paul was a dangerous man, it could be pointed out that Rome's verdict was, that he was not dangerous.  All he was doing was teaching the evangel which pointed believers to the celestial kingdom, and pointed all mankind to salvation, justification and conciliation after the eons.  This could not, by the most unreasonable stretch of the imagination be construed as any rebellion against, or any effort to meddle with, the governments of earth.  

He was kept as a prisoner, to partly satisfy the Jews, for every government that contains a foreign element is under necessity to cater to this element.  But the fact that even Jewish pressure could not induce Caesar to put the prisoner to death as a rebel, was proof beyond dispute, that the charge grew out of Jewish hatred, and had no basis in fact.  

Rome had no disposition to interfere with the free exercise of the privilege of teaching the evangel, even as no government of earth today has any such disposition, except where religious leaders have intimidated the government.  Such leaders are guilty of the very thing of which Paul was accused, but Paul was not.  Religion is constantly trying to get control of government, local, state and national.  The "church" has tried it for centuries, and has succeeded in some instances.  It has tried it in the United States, and has partly succeeded at times.  This is especially true in the case of local government.  

Those who are really Paul's children in the Lord, (that is, in service), and in faith, (I Cor. 4:17; II Tim. 1:2), are not supposed to interfere with civil governments, even as Paul did not.  If they follow this course Paul's affairs are carried out by them.  And such affairs come to be for the progress of the evangel.  Ministers often meet, with some of their leading laymen, and issue orders to the town council, as to what must be done.  In these activities they ignore me, with the intention of snubbing me.  But their action really amounts to a "boost."  They are serving notice to the community that this strange fellow, Screws, does not interfere with the civil authorities.  Thus they acknowledge that my affairs and Paul's are identical. 

It is worthy of note, that in Philippians Paul does not warn the saints against the civil government.  He saw no danger from that quarter.  But he does warn them against curs, evil workers and the maimcision, (3:2, 3).  Figuratively speaking, curs are those "religionists" who live on refuse.  And the refuse, as Paul explains in  the same chapter, consists of fleshly advantages, religion and self-righteousness, (Verses 4-8).  In Philippians Paul is not dealing with immorality; he is dealing with service.  Therefore when he mentions evil workers he has reference to religious workers - those whose feverish haste to "take the world for Christ," finds no support among those who are engaged in Paul's affairs.  The maimcision were the Jews.  They are not a menace today, but the others are.  Those living on self-righteousness and whose religion consists of works, are the ones from whom we may expect our persecution.  So long as we follow Paul's affairs and preach and promote the evangel, letting the civil government alone, the latter will not interfere with us, unless religionists should succeed in getting control of civil affairs.  I trust that all believers in Universal Reconciliation will steer clear of any concerted effort to regulate or intimate the civil authorities.  Let it be known that we are peacefully promoting the evangel.  

On what authority does the church teach that Paul was put to death by Rome?  On the authority of tradition.  Scripture is against such a supposition.  When he wrote the Philippian epistle he expected to be released, (2:24).  In his second letter to Timothy he said that at his examination no one came along with him, but the Lord stood beside him and he was rescued out of the mouth of the lion.  Then he says confidently and happily, "The Lord will be rescuing me from every evil work, and will be saving me for his celestial kingdom," (II Tin. 4:16-18).  In the same chapter he speaks of the period of his dissolution as being imminent.  "Period" doesn't mean a certain foreknown day.  "Imminent" does not indicate that he knew, as do all who are to be executed, the very day of his death.  It all points to a peaceful, natural death.  I take no stock in Paul's supposed "second imprisonment," nor in his being "beheaded," or even thrown to the lions, which latter form of execution would have been his fate, if Rome had imposed capital punishment on him.  

Under the mercy of God, the government of the United States does not persecute.  But if certain religious societies could get control, it would become a persecutor.  Let us thank God that our civil affairs are such that Paul's affairs can be carried out without governmental hindrance.  And while this is the case let us be faithful - not in trying to force the evangel on anyone, but in proclaiming and promoting it, that it may grasp those whom God has chosen for this rare blessing.  That those who want to live devoutly in Christ Jesus shall be persecuted, is as true as when Paul wrote it.  But the persecution comes from those who live on self-righteousness, and do evil religious works - not from our beloved government.  Let saints remember that the Philippian epistle is devoted to service, and that all service has to do with contributing in various ways to the evangel, (Phil. 1:5).  Let others attend to the highly important service of promoting the evangel, while Paul's affairs may still be carried on.  

Being engaged in Paul's affairs, we are supposed to give heed to Phil. 1:10, 11: " - for you to be testing what things are final, in order that you many be sincere, and not stumbling for the day of Christ, having been filled with the fruit of righteousness which is through Jesus Christ, for the glory and laud of God."  The word which I have rendered "final," has the elements, through-carry, and evidently refers to things in service which remain in the maturity of the ecclesia, as opposed to those things which belong to minority, and which had passed away before Philippians was written.  It means humble, dignified service, instead of outward sings and miracles and tongues.  

No one can be sincere in holding membership in any religious organization where one is required to subscribe to certain beliefs which one does not hold.  Sincerity is found in unity of the spirit, where not all pretend to see everything alike in a man-made creed.  While there was evidently some kind of an organization at first, after the fashion of the Jewish ecclesia, such a thing was repudiated when the apostle warned saints to "come out," (II Cor. 6: 14-19).  When Philippians was written there was every opportunity for fellowship in sincerity.  This sincerity insures that in the day of Christ we will not stumble.  We will not have built a great house of inflammable material to be destroyed, (I Cor. 3:10-15.  

But we do not have to wait the day of Christ, to receive blessings.  While we serve in Paul's affairs, testing final things - performing service in accord with the last word in service, namely, the Philippian epistle - we may be filled with the fruit of righteousness.  It is like working in an orange grove and eating all we want while we work.  There are joys to be had now - delights of spirit.  That these come in the midst of suffering, and while rendering humble service, makes them the more delightful.  We may not have them while we try to be exalted.  They are found only in the most abject humility.  This fruit is through Jesus Christ, and is for the glory and laud of God.  They are not intended to exalt us.  They glorify us not.  Seeing that we are not worthy of them, our enjoinment leads us to glorify and laud God.  


In his Colossian epistle Paul speaks of God dealing graciously with our offenses.  In his Roman epistle he says that, being justified, we shall be saved from indignation through Him.  There is no doubt that everyone who is justified shall be saved from indignation.  But their safety lies in the fact that they are justified, and not in the supposed fact that they never commit an offense against God.  Paul classes many sins together, and the fact that he warns us against them shows that it is possible for us to commit them.  We have no warrant for singling out one and saying it is worse than others, just because we don't commit that one.  The chances are, one saint is about like another in conduct.  We all need God's gracious dealing. 

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