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 XXVII

March, 1948

Number 8

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

In Paul's epistles there is evidence of growth in knowledge. He wrote the different epistles as they were given to him. He could not have written Philippians when he wrote First Thessalonians, his first epistle. Nor when he wrote any of the ones that he wrote before writing Philippians. When he wrote Second Corinthians he knew something that he did not know when he wrote the first epistle to that church. And, knowing more, his attitude was different. It was always changing.

What he wrote at any particular time was right for that time, but some of it had to be modified later, because of superior knowledge.

He advised severity in First Corinthians, but pleaded for tenderness and graciousness toward the same person, when he wrote the second letter to the same saints.

His knowledge had ripened to such an extent when he wrote Philippians, that he said in that epistle, "But things which were gain to me, these I have deemed a forfeit because of Christ. But, to be sure, I am also deeming all to be a forfeit because of the superiority of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, because of Whom I forfeited all, and am deeming it to be refuse, that I should be gaining Christ, and may be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is of law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is from God for faith; to know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, confronting to His death, if somehow I should be attaining to the resurrection out from among the dead", 3:7-11.

Paul was satisfied, apparently, with an organized church, when he wrote his first letter to the Corinthians. But while writing his second letter to them, he found that the different factions in the assembly had brought in so many unbelievers that the saints could not carry out a program of graciousness, such as he had in mind, and so he told them to "come out". His program of graciousness included mercy and kindness to the man who had been excluded. Since saying, "Come out", Paul has not endorsed an organized church. Now he sees that the SAINTS constitute the temple of God, and that the organization is worse than useless.

He has lost interest in judging. So when he wrote the Roman letter he asked the saints to leave each one to his own Master, before Whom he stands or falls. And he assured them that the Master is able to make a person stand, even when we think he ought not to be allowed to stand.

In his early ministry Paul practiced baptism. But when he wrote the first letter to the Corinthians he said this was no part of his service. He baptized no more.

Those whose knowledge of Christ Jesus the Lord is elementary, can find joy in such things as an organized church, water baptism, "church discipline", etc. Paul passed through that stage One by one he discarded such things, as his knowledge of Christ increased. I can sympathize with those who are living in these early stages of the development of knowledge. I was there once.

In his fully developed stage of knowledge, Paul is not concerned with elementary matters. He has not changed in doctrine. But in administrative matters there is a great advance. His religion had once been gain to him. It was an advantage to him that he was an Israelite, until his second administration began, for during the early part of his ministry the Israelite who was in the body, had an advantage over the man of the nations, and lived in the ascendancy. Not until the two were reconciled in one body, was there such a thing as equality in the church, if a local assemble had any Israelites in it.

We have never been in the religion of Israel, but we have been in "gentile religion". Many are still there--concerned with forms and ceremonies, and organization, and with controlling their fellows. These things are a gain to those saints whose knowledge is ot very much developed.

But Paul had learned that there is to be nothing between the saint and Christ--not even a religious ceremony or ordinance, however good that might be in its place. I mean that potato peelings are good until you peel them off and discover the potato. Then the peeling becomes refuse. You throw it out the window. I remember that I had great joy when I received water baptism. I would find no joy in it now, and I know that it is no part of the developed ministry of Paul. There was a time when I took part in organizing churches, and felt quite important in doing so. Now I know that the church is an organism. I would not find joy in serving on a presbytery. I once felt a great interest in forcing all members of the church to "walk a chalk line", or be excluded. Now I regard it as very antiquated, for, since the church is not supposed to be an organization, God does not tell any group to control the life of any saint.

To gain Christ does not mean to become saved. It is to reach the position that recognizes Him as sufficient, not only for salvation, but also for every step of the journey. Then we repudiate everything that seeks to regulate us and our faith and our conduct, and cling to Christ alone. Thus we have gained Christ. We want to live such a life of devotion to Him, that people will never speak of us as a good Baptist, or Methodist, or Catholic, etc., but that they shall know that we disdain every form and ceremony, and recognize ourself as only in Christ. Thus we are found in Him.

When we have reached this superior knowledge of Christ Jesus our Lord, we do not seek the satisfaction of believing that the Lord is blessing us because of something that we have done--some law that we have obeyed. No, we are so much attached to Christ that we want Him to have all the glory for every blessing that we receive, and are dissatisfied if anyone even suggests that we are being blessed because we have obeyed some law--not necessarily the Mosaic law, but ANY law, or even any suggestion or exhortation. We want to obey every exhortation that applies to us, but we do not want to feel that the Lord is paying us to do it. We want all blessings to be in grace, and we want to recognize that every ability to do service, and every satisfaction, is that which is from God for faith. We want Christ to be ALL.

We are constantly seeking to know Him--to become better acquainted with Him. We have no time for religion, for we are coming more and more to know Christ.

To know the power of His resurrection is to know that justification for all mankind is in the hand of God, and that He will attend to it, since it is clear that Christ was given up because of our offenses, and was roused again because of our justification. Thus we find supreme satisfaction, and do not regret, thinking we have neglected to do something which, if we had done it, might have assured the salvation of some person.

To know the fellowship of His sufferings is to recognize that WE, not HE, would have been nailed to the tree if we had gotten what we feel was our just desert. This humbles us, and we share His sufferings, and have fellowship with Him in them. Our sufferings consists of our humiliation at remembering that HE died when it ought to have been US that died.

Conforming to His death means that we are to recognize what power put Him to death, humanly speaking. It was a religious power. And to this day, religion, both Jewish and Gentile, is AGAINST the Christ, to the extent that it is FOR forms and ceremonies. Let us not be afraid to incur the displeasure of such, if we must do so in living a life of devotion to the Christ.

To attain to the resurrection out from among the dead, is to live the heavenly life, in spirit, as far as possible. We can see that in heaven we shall be as He is, full of love. We want to attain to that here. We want to discard all hatred, anger selfishness, and every lack of love.

The superiority of the knowledge of Christ, I repeat, enables us to lay aside those things that characterize immature saints, and to desire nothing except Christ.

[Return to main indexpage]