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 XXII

June, 1943

Number 11

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

Irony is a form of ridicule in which what is said is the exact opposite of what is meant.  This figure of speech is not used in literature so frequently as are some others, but it is used, and with telling effect.  It is used in the scripture.  An example is found in Job 12:2: "No doubt but ye are the people, and wisdom shall die with you."  Here Job is ridiculing his "comforters."  In I Kings 18:27, Elijah ridicules the worshippers of Baal, saying, "Cry aloud, for he is a god; either he is talking or he is pursuing, or he is on a journey; or peradventure he is sleeping and must be awakened."  In both cases, those being ridiculed understood it perfectly. 

In I Cor. 4:6-13 this figure of speech is found several times: "Now these things, brethren, I transfigure for myself and Apollos, because of you, that in us you may be learning not to be disposed above what is written, that no one may be puffed up for one against another.  For who is discriminating between you?  Now what have you which you did not obtain?  Now if you obtained it also, why are you boasting as though not obtaining?  And surely you ought to reign, that we, also, should be reigning with you!  For I suppose that God demonstrates with us, the last apostles, as death-doomed, seeing that we became a gazing stock to the world, and to messengers and to mankind!  We are stupid because of Christ, yet you are prudent in Christ!  We are weak, yet you are strong!  You are glorified, yet we are dishonorable!  Until the present hour we are hungering and thirsting, and are naked and are buffeted and unsettled and toiling, working with our own hands.  Being reviled, we are blessing.  Being persecuted, we are bearing with it.  Being calumniated, we are entreating. We became the offscourings of the world, the scum of the universe, till the present."  

When we compare most of these statements with other passages we find that they are the exact opposite of what Paul meant.  They were intended as ridicule, to keep the Corinthian saints from continuing on the course of being disposed above what is written.  

As a matter of fact, they were NOT sated.  They lacked, much, of being full of what saints are supposed to have on earth.  They were NOT rich.  Riches consists of being content with one's lot.  They were not content to be regarded, as to doctrine, the offscourings of the world, the scum of the universe.  They were thinking of the earthly blessings that had been promised to Israel, and they thought they had them.  They did NOT reign.  Reigning on earth is for Israelites.  They ought to NOT reign on earth.  Their destiny and blessings are in the heavens.  

"For I suppose that God demonstrates with us," is like a mother saying to her little boy, "I suppose you washed behind your ears," when she already knew that he did not.  The word, "suppose," is frequently used in ridicule, as well as when one is not quite certain as what is the fact.  But it is rarely used to state a fact, when the speaker or writer knows certainly what the fact is.  If Paul knew that God demonstrates with the last apostles, why should have said he supposed so?  If he intended to ridicule the saints, and let them know that he knew the opposite to be the case, it was a good word to use. 

We are continuing the ministry of the last apostles—not the twelve.  God is not demonstrating with us—the ecclesia which is the body of Christ.  He used the Jewish ecclesia for that purpose.  In it he  manifested the powers of the future eon, Heb. 6:5.  In other words, He built a "working model" of the kingdom, when He built the Pentecostal ecclesia.  The miracles of the Pentecostal era constitute a picture of the future kingdom.  This is the reason none of those things fit into the present administration.  Those who try to bring them in have to rely on spirits other than the spirit of God, however honest they are, and however much they believe they are in line with God's present aim.  God demonstrated with the twelve apostles and the Jewish ecclesia—not with the last apostles and the ecclesia of the present.  

Paul left off his sarcasm to remind the Corinthian saints that we are death-doomed.  This shows the incongruity of denying that our blessings are spiritual and are among the celestials.  There is nothing in the position of the ecclesia on earth, that has the least resemblance to what shall be our glorious position in the heavens.  

Continuing, Paul says, "seeing that we became a gazing-stock to the world, to messengers and to mankind!"  The world—that is the system or order of human society—messengers and mankind look on us with disdain.  We find that "now to the sovereignties and the authorities among the celestials, may be made known through the ecclesia, the multifarious wisdom of God," Eph. 3:10.  "Now," evidently means at the present time.  Sovereignties and authorities are the rulers among the celestials.  It seems that they see the evidences of God's grace in us, and learn something of His multifarious wisdom.  But messengers, such as Paul mentions in our text, do not seem to see anything in us to admire.  Perhaps he does not refer to all messengers.  Mankind do not admire our teaching and worship.  Rather, the find sport in it.  

This should be enlarged on.  It is not us, as individuals, that men do not like.  It is our teaching and our simplicity of worship.  We may be honored citizens in the community, but the very ones who admire us in this way, regard us as a gazing stock so far as our teaching and lack of appeal to human vanity is concerned.  I might take my own case as an example, but I hesitate to do so, for fear of being thought boastful.  There are not many people in the Glennville community who do not respect me as a citizen.  I recently became associate editor of the Glennville Sentinel.  This pleased scores of people who would not take one moment to read the Messenger.  If I am going to speak in town of some secular topic, many who would not attend one of our preaching services under any circumstances, will gladly hear me.  They often speak of  what I  am worth to the community as a citizen, but not once will they say I am worth something as a preacher.  This is given as an example of what I understand Paul to mean. It is in relation to our teachings and the simplicity of our worship, that we are a gazing-stock.  

This was exactly what was the matter with the Corinthian saints.  They wanted to be reckoned as somebody, "religiously," just as many saints are starving themselves for the things worth while today, by their desire to be reckoned among the churches of the community, and thus be popular.  People do not risk becoming unpopular by joining a church. The opposite is true.  The different ritualism of Christendom does not bring persecution from anybody.  A determination to hold the Head, Christ, and to steer clear of all ritual, makes us a gazing stock.  People wonder if we are not a "little touched in the head."  

Are we death-domed today?  To a far greater extent than many would imagine.  Having faced persecution and opposition, I am convinced that there are people who would have thought they were doing service to God, if they could have killed me.  The law, of course forbade it.  They even boasted, when I became "unorthodox," that they would starve me.  And I would have starved, if there had been no source of supply other than themselves.  But God gave me new friends, and many of the old ones have been rid of their enmity and have returned to their love for me.  

Is it at all reasonable to suppose that God uses us, as death-doomed and as a grazing stock—that He uses us to demonstrate what the glory of the kingdom of the heavens is to be?  Does He use us to demonstrate what shall be our glorious position in the Heavens?  Our condition is so much the reverse of what it shall then be, that it would serve as a very poor demonstration. Nether the system, nor messengers, nor mankind, see any beauty in the ecclesia today.  Brother Walter H. Bundy spoke of a beautiful sight that is beep in the Carlsbad Cavern, and aptly compared this with the ecclesia.  God has not put it out for mankind to see.  Only those who are able to penetrate into the darkness and danger of that cavern, see the beauty.  So is it true that the ecclesia is not seen in its beauty, by the majority.  Only a few ever see it.  

The Corinthian saints seemed to be ashamed of Paul.  He was not stylish enough to suit them. He did not appeal to human wisdom to prove his teaching.  They called him stupid, weak, dishonorable.  In irony he accepted their verdict concerning himself, and of themselves.  He was stupid while they were prudent!  He was weak while they were strong!  He was dishonorable while they were glorified!  

The rest of his statement is not irony.  It is true.  He and Apollos were hungering, thirsting, naked, buffeted, unsettled, working with their own hands.  Being reviled they were blessing; being persecuted they were bearing it; being calumniated they were entreating.  In the eyes of mankind, messengers and the system, they were the offscourings of the world, the scum of the universe.  What a shame that the Corinthian saints were not content to share their lot!  

"All who want to live devoutly in Christ Jesus shall be persecuted," II Tim 3:12.  Perhaps not many passages are more generally disbelieved.  Is the church being persecuted today?  Living devoutly in Christ Jesus is certainly different from joining the church.  It is putting Him—Christ Jesus, not Jesus Christ—first is all our devotions, and disregarding every organization that sets itself up as being the medium through which He is to be worshipped and served. 

The word, "transfigured," in the beginning of the text, means that Paul was going to make a series of statements that were changed as to appearance.  They were to be the exact opposite of what he meant. 

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