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 XXVI

November, 1946

Number 4

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

In Philippians the last word on service, we find the exhortation to be carrying our own salvation into effect, 2:12.  Our salvation is a matter of faith and love.  Paul said, in telling of his call, "The grace of our Lord overwhelms with faith and love in Christ Jesus,"  First Timothy 1:14.  Paul is not telling us to obtain salvation, in the Philippian passage.  He is writing to those who have salvation, see 1:1.  He is telling us to make our salvation effective in our daily life.  Since salvation is a matter of faith and love, these must be manifested in our life. 

The main thing under consideration in Philippians is the evangel, or gospel.  The defense and confirmation of the evangel is mentioned in chapter 1, and he declares that even him imprisonment came to be for the progress of the evangel.  So glad was he that the message is being proclaimed, he says he is glad of even those who announce it in pretence. 

In chapter 2, evidently with the proclamation of the evangel in mind, the apostle gives us a lesson on humility, offering Christ as the great Example.  In His service He went from one humble position to another more humble, until He ended up with the death on the cross.  The inference is that the faithful proclamation of the evangel will require humility on our part.  Those who look for the high positions can hardly be called faithful heralds of the message.  We must be willing to become more and more humble, if we are to do the bidding of our Lord.  And, bearing in mind that our salvation at present is a matter of faith and love for Him and for humanity.  We are not to look our for self.  We are not to be ready to sacrifice in the service. 

In the same chapter he offers Timothy as an example of the right kind of sensitiveness—solicitude for the concerns of others.  What an indictment follows: "for all are seeking that which is their own, not that which is Christ Jesus."  Alas, this is largely true today, even among saints.  It is the rule to look out for self, first, and help the cause of God if there is anything left after our own desires are satisfied.  Usually but little is left.  This attitude does not obtain in the lives of all saints, by any means, as I can testify.  My needs are taken care of by the loving ministration of saints.  This is true of some other teachers.  But, even so, it is safe to assume that the great majority of the saints do very little, or nothing, for the progress of the evangel in its fullness.  

Perhaps more would be done by the saints if the teachers would turn loose business and launch out and devote all their time to the work.  If a teacher makes as much money as does the member of his congregation, and looses no time for the service, those to whom he ministers do not feel inclined to help him much.  Nor would he accept it, if the offered it.  He knows that he is not entitled to it. 

But where one devotes part of his time, or all of his time, to the evangel, it is a privilege of saints to minister to him. 

There are cases where the saints do not have to look after their "pastor" in this way, for he makes as much in secular business as they do.  But it would be well for then to give, regularly, to the cause of the evangel.  Here is where love, especially, comes in.  It requires a great deal of love to send money to some teacher who is doing missionary work—some teacher whom they will never see in this life.  It is not good for any saint to receive the good things of life and not divide some of them with those who are announcing the evangel. 

However, we who are mature know that there is another side to this matter of carrying our own salvation into effect.  No one does it except an god operates in Him to will as well as to work for the sake of His delight. 

This is stated in the very passage where my text is found—Philippians 2:13.  Exhortation is proper, and we should exhort faithfully, knowing that God is often pleased to use such as means of leading saints to obey. 

If the saint does obey, it is because God operated in him, both the willing and the doing.  If he does not obey, they we know that God did not operate in him at that time, but left him to other influences, which restrained him from doing what he ought to have done.  But I am happy in knowing that He knows His business, and whatever He does, or does not do, He ahs a reason, and it is within His purpose. 

We who know that all is of God do not feel any less keenly the necessity of exhortation.  But when saints do not obey we know the reason.  And, while we know that each one is accountable, yet we bow in submission to God, and are satisfied, whichever way matters go.  

Epaphroditus is another example that Paul gives in this epistle.  He had been sent by the saints in Philippi, with a donation for Paul, who was in Rome.  He became sick on the way, and it is blessed to know that he was not so much concerned about himself.  He was afraid that the saints back home would sorry about him, and this was his chief concern.  What a wonderful trait this was!  He was suffering, but he did not pity himself.  He pitied those who were concerned about him. Nothing is greater in the way of disposition, than a feeling of abandon regarding oneself, and a deep sorrow that others are grieving, or are troubled.  Truly, a person with such a disposition is ready to carry his own salvation into effect.  

The last example given in the epistle is Paul, himself.  We are to regard him as a model, 3:17.  He had no confidence in flesh. The fact that he had worldly advantages was cast aside as a handful of refuse.  He wanted no righteousness of his own.  He certainly did not want any vestige of law, either divine or human, to be mixed up in his service.  He forfeited racial and religious advantage, and received in exchange, Christ.  Not that he became a saint by so doing.  No!  He was speaking of gaining something that would enhance his happiness and his usefulness in this life.  Law keeps one apprehensive, lest he fail.  A knowledge of Christ banishes all fear, and makes us free to serve because we want to do so. 

In speaking of fear, I must tell you that, in my opinion, a comma in Phil. 2:12 ought to be moved.  I see no reason for fear and trembling now, since we have reached the finish of the story—the complete Pauline writings.  If I were translating the passage I would render it thus: "So that, my beloved, according as you always obey, not as in my presence only, but now much rather in my absence with fear and trembling, be carrying your own salvation into effect."  It seems to me that the fear and trembling was connected with their service in a previous era.  Now, that we know that all is of God, and that we will render just the service that He operates in us to render, we rely confidently on Him, and serve without fear and trembling.  

A proper understanding of this matter drives away all fear and trembling in connection with the future dais of Christ.  I will stand before the dais.  I will be requited for what is put into practice  through the body, whether good or bad, Second Corinthians 5:10.  If there is anything wrong in either my conduct or my service, I WANT it made right.  I don't want to leave the dais of Christ until it IS made right.  I would be dissatisfied if Christ should not attend to it.  As a matter of fact, I know that there are many defects and failures in my life.  Christ, Who was so loving as to die for me, is too loving to not set everything right at His dais.  When I leave that session, everything will be right.  Then God will applaud me, I Cor. 4:5.  

To get entirely away from law, as Paul desired to do, places us where we can serve in freedom of spirit, and entirely without fear.  We are willing to let God bear the responsibility.  We will see the justice of being accountable for what we do, even though we know that all is of God.  We will not spend our time wondering if we will serve Him correctly.  We know that we will do His delight, according as He operates in us.  We know, also, that if we are subjected to failures, this is in accord with the purpose of God.  we will not even tremble when we think of the dais of Christ.  Neither will be threaten other saints with the dais.  We will leave all such in the hands of God.  

It is only as we know the latest truth about God, that we can let nothing be worrying us, Philippians 4:6.  Oh, how prone we are to forget.  It is so easy to imagine that the fate of the truth rests with us, and thus we will take into our own hands the matter of dealing with those who would destroy our labor.  Can anything take place outside of God's purpose?  Was it not He who told Shimei to curse David, II Samuel 16:10?  There is no evidence that Shimei knew that God had appointed him to this job.  But David knew it.  So, today, there are those who curse the most faithful among us.  But we must admit that they are doing as God has appointed, even though they do not know it.  In stead of being rebellious, may we be submissive. 

Let me repeat, that Philippians is the last word on service.  Therefore, the exhortation to be testing what things are of consequence, 1:10, is very much in point.  The evangel is the thing that is of most consequence, and might well be our chief interest in life.

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