(continued - 4)

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 XXV

September, 1945

Number 2

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

In experiencing salvation, those who preceded Paul had first an experience of repentance, and then of pardon.  The repentance, literally after-mind, or a change of mind, constituted "coming to Christ," John 6:44.  In verse 37 of that chapter, the Lord says, "All that which the Father is giving to Me shall be arriving to Me."  Then in verse 44, He says, "No one can come to Me if ever the Father Who sends Me should not be drawing him."

We find in these expressions, that, although the entire nation of Israel had been chosen to be God's nation at that time, yet there was an election out of that nation, to constitute the holy nation of the future.  Those thus chosen are given to Christ, and it is absolutely certain that they shall come to Him.  The coming is "works," but God makes it certain that they will do the works.  And how does He make this certain?  By arranging to draw them, Himself.  This fact proves their salvation to be by grace.  But God chose to let grace be more or less hidden, and to put works on exhibition.  They can not come to Christ, except the Father draws them, but the fact remains that, when they are drawn they come.  Although their salvation is, as to outward form, based on works, yet there is no uncertainty about it, for God's grace underlies their works.  

It is as if I should find a child at the foot of a hill which he unable to climb.  I take him by the hand and draw him up the hill.  He takes one step after another, until he reaches the summit, but he would not be able to take even one step if I did not draw him.  

Repentance is based on faith, and is , therefore, termed, in a figure, "faithfulness."  So those to whom God granted pardon, were faithful, before they received it.  It had not been known that He gave pardon to anyone who was not faithful, even though He, unknown to them, produced the faithfulness in them.  

Let us now suppose that a conversation took place between the Lord and James, who lays great stress on works.  In our supposed conversation the Lord says to James, "I am going call Saul of Tarsus into spiritual touch with Me, and give him the experience of salvation."  

James is aghast at such an announcement.  "Why, Lord," he says, "that man is not faithful.  He is just the opposite.  You have never done such a thing.  You have never pardoned one who wan not in a state of repentance, and doing good works."  

But the Lord says, "I know he is a calumniator and a persecutor and an outrager.  Nevertheless, I am going to deem him faithful, and do for him as you would expect me to do for one who is faithful."  

The Lord does just what this supposed conversation states.  Paul says, "I am grateful to Him Who invigorates me, Christ Jesus, our Lord, for He deems me faithful, assigning me a service, I who formerly was a calumniator and a persecutor and an outrager; but I was shown mercy, seeing that I do it being ignorant, in unbelief.  Yet the grace of our Lord overwhelms with faith and love in Christ Jesus.  Faithful is the saying, and worthy of all welcome, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, foremost of whom am I .  But therefore was I shown mercy, that in me, the foremost, Jesus Christ should be displaying all His patience, for a pattern of those who are about to be believing on Him for life eonian," First Timothy 1:12-16. 

The word, "pattern" clarifies it.  If the Lord had intended to go on as He had been doing, He would have had no need for a pattern.  But the era had come when He was going to put grace on exhibition.  In order to do this, He must show favor to one who had never done any good works, and had never believed—one who had never been faithful in any way.  Remember, a new era was at hand—the Pauline interval.  And since the inauguration of this era, we hear no more about "coming to Christ."  Instead we find WE are TRANSPORTED into the kingdom of the Son of His love, Colossians 1:13.  

It is as if I found another child at the foot of a hill, and he is not able to climb it.  In stead of taking him by the hand and drawing him up, I take him up in my arms and "transport" him to the top—or, to use common Southern term, I TOTE him up.  He does not make one step.  I do it all.  

It is a fact that Saul was not faithful.  He was not repenting.  He was doing all the "devilment" he possibly could.  He hated the very name of Jesus.  God takes him all the way, and in less time than it takes to write it, he is in communication with Christ, calling Him Lord, and anxious to do something.  He did not go through a process and finally obtain pardon.  He was justified, and went through the process of learning what it meant, after it became a fact.  This is a pattern of the way we are called.  We do no go back to the earthly ministry. of Christ to learn about this; we go back to Paul.  

Ananias, ignorant at the time, of what it all meant, as, indeed, Saul, himself, was, told him to arise and baptize, and bathe off his sins, invoking the name of the Lord, Acts 22:16.  Not this, but Paul's later revelation that justification is apart from works, Romans 4:4, 5, is our criterion.  Justification is by faith, which, itself, is an outflow from grace, see our text.  In Paul's experience, there was the calling in grace; and the grace produced faith and love.  This was instantaneous, for in a moment of time he was calling on the Lord and asking direction, which he would not have done without faith.  We need have no fears about faith, if grace is in the heart.  It produces faith and love as certainly as soda will effervesce in vinegar. 

The Acts is an account of ministries that touched the kingdom work—that is, the kingdom of the heaven, which is mentioned in Daniel and Matthew.  It is in Paul's EPISTLES—not in Luke's account of his ministry in the Acts—that we find that which relates to OUR calling.  Even the outward circumstances of the calling of Paul are not mentioned in his epistles, while much space is allotted to them in the Acts.  His calling bears a relation to the future appearance of Christ to Israel.  This why so much space is allotted to it. 

But when Paul writes his epistles, he omits all reference to the outward circumstances.  That which concerns us, is the fact that a man who deserved the direst doom, was shown the greatest favor.  None of us should expect to duplicate Paul's outward experience.  All of us have his inner emotions—that is, all of us who are called to believe for life eonian during the Pauline interval.  

The kingdom of the Son of His love, Colossians 1:13, is a figure of speech.  That kingdom will be in existence in the new earth, when the Son is God for the eon of the eon, Hebrews 1:8.  The point is, it will be in the new creation.  We are now a new creation, Second Corinthians 5:17.  This is spirit.  Pardon of sins, Colossians 1:14, is a figure, to accord with the word, "kingdom."  Elsewhere in Paul's writings, we read of justification, not pardon of sins.  In spirit, we are now in the kingdom that is of the new creation.  We are TRANSPORTED into it.  We did not work to reach it.  

Paul was foremost among sinners.  If God could save him, He can save anyone.  If a physician can cure one of what is regarded as an incurable disease, we have no fear that he cannot cure a case of mild illness.  This is a great consolation to us.  God began preparing for this interval of transcendent grace, by calling into fellowship with Himself, the chief of sinners.  Will He be unable to call us effectively? 

(To Be Continued)

[Return to main indexpage]