PO Box 3425
January/February Issue 2007 - Volume 26 Number 1
The Eternal Weight of Glory
“Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.”
2 Corinthians 4:16-18
read an article not long ago about the changing colors of leaves that
transpires each fall entitled, “Why Do Leaves Change Color in the Fall?”
It was not only interesting, but also is another phenomena of nature that
contains a profound spiritual truth. We will quote the article on leaves and
then make a spiritual application:
Reds! Yellows! Oranges! Purples! Autumn colors are a feast for the eyes. What makes them turn from gorgeous green to those shades that signal winter is just around the corner? Researchers at SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse, N.Y., have it all figured out. Basically two things cause the chemical process that make the leaves change colors: temperature and daylight.
The leaf is the food machine for the tree in the
spring and summer months as it absorbs energy from sunlight that changes
carbon dioxide and water to carbohydrates. The food-making takes place in
the leaf's numerous cells that contain chlorophyll, the substance that makes
leaves green. But hidden inside those leaves underneath all that vibrant
green are pigments ranging from pale yellow to deep orange. When fall comes
and the length of daylight shifts along with changes in temperature, the
chlorophyll breaks down. The leaf's green color gives way to the fall
splendor of yellow and orange. Other chemical changes may occur at the same
time, causing the leaves of some trees to turn red or even purple, such as
dogwoods and sumacs.
While the leaf is turning color, other changes are
invisibly taking place. A special layer of cells develops where the leaf
stem is attached to the tree and gradually severs the tissues that hold the
leaf onto the branch. Once the seal is cut, a gentle breeze is enough to
make the leaf fall off. Autumn leaves' color intensity and duration is
affected by the weather, including temperature, light and water. For the
most brilliant color the best weather is low temperatures that are above
freezing with lots of rainy and/or overcast days. (Compuserve What’s
New – 10/23/06)
is a corresponding beauty in the lives of Saints to the beautiful leaves
that we enjoy each fall. The Bible is packed with faithful men and women who
adorn the narrative with their courage and perseverance under fire. We could
say that there are two things that create the brilliant colors in the lives
of the Saints: trials and
It is inevitable
that trials will come to those who serve the Lord. The Apostle Paul made
this promise to Timothy, but it is one that we rarely quote:
“Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer
persecution” (2 Timothy 3:12). There are still places in the world where
followers of Christ are openly persecuted. I can remember a case in India
some years ago of a lady who obeyed the gospel and was kicked out of the
house by her husband. Her mother lived with them, and both she and her
mother were out on the streets because she dared to obey the gospel.
While we usually
are not in danger of such open persecution, there are more subtle ways that
those who oppose Jesus and the church may lash out at us.
Maybe the promotion at work that we had hoped for doesn’t
materialize; we discover that we are the only one who wasn’t invited to
the party; we may have to endure being the object of derision and jokes.
The old adage states: “Sticks and stones may break my bones but
words will never hurt me.” Unfortunately there are times when the words,
or even the lack thereof, may be very cutting. In more recent years the
Christian community has been faced with open opposition on the political
front. Christians are now told they cannot openly profess their faith in the
work place or on government property.
After Paul had
been stoned and left for dead outside the city of Lystra, Paul and Barnabas
returned to Lystra, Iconium and Antioch, “…strengthening the souls of
the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith, and saying, ‘We
must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God’” (Acts 14:22). Some of us may have lost a few friends or goodwill because of
our faith. Some may suffer even greater loss than that for the sake of the
gospel. However, Paul assures us that whatever we suffer the “eternal
weight of glory” is worth it all.
The key is to
look at the things which are unseen. This is the unseen pigment that lies at
the heart of the Saints who persevere and display the brilliant colors of a
life tested by trial. We will take one Old Testament example to illustrate
what we mean. Joseph was despised by his brothers, and they even determined
one day to kill him. However, they changed their mind and opted to make a
little profit on their pesky little brother.
They sold him to a band of traders who took him to Egypt. Joseph is
sold to Potipher and proves to be a gifted and faithful servant, but due to
the unfaithfulness of Potipher’s wife Joseph is again sold out and thrown
into prison. Even in prison Joseph remains faithful to God and as a result
he eventually is released. He is not just released; he becomes second in
command in Egypt and begins preparing the land for a famine that is coming.
As a result of the famine, Joseph is reunited with his family. The brilliant
color of Joseph’s life shines brightest after the death of his father.
Joseph’s brothers are fearful that Joseph will now take revenge on them,
but Joseph tells them, “’But as for you, you meant evil against me; but
God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save
many people alive. Now therefore, do not be afraid; I will provide for you
and your little ones.’ And he comforted them and spoke kindly to them”
Does your lot in
life seem hard to bear? Are you
hard pressed? Are you
persecuted or ridiculed? Are you under fire?
Then take courage, dear Saint. The words of the great Apostle stand
rock solid to give you strength and hope. Look at the things which are
unseen and not at the things which are seen. Let the glorious pigment of
faithfulness shine through the darkness that surrounds you. The Lord is
working even for you “a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.”
“Anglican Chiefs Boycott U.S. Bishop”
“But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner---not even to eat with such a person. For what have I to do with judging those also who are outside? Do you not judge those who are inside? But those who are outside God judges. Therefore ‘put away from yourselves the evil person.’” 1 Corinthians 5:11-13
article I read recently in a local newspaper disturbed me. The headline
blared: “Seven Anglican chiefs boycott communion with U.S. bishop”.
The dateline was Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania, and the article concerned
seven conservative Anglican leaders who refused to take Holy Communion with
the head of the U.S. branch of the church because he supports ordaining gays
and blessing same-sex unions.
boycott took place during a meeting of Anglican leaders, and those refusing
to commune were members of a conservative group of African bishops who call
themselves the Global South. They are attempting to combat liberal-leaning
Anglicans in their communion and are reaching out to other Anglicans to join
them. They posted this message on the Church of Nigeria Web site: “We are
unable to come to the Holy Table with the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal
Church because to do so would be a violation of Scriptural teaching and the
traditional Anglican understanding.”
man named Jim Naughton, who is canon for communications at the Episcopal
Diocese of Washington, D.C., criticized the conservative African bishops. Of
course, Naughton represents the diocese in the U.S. that accepts gay
relationships. Naughton stated: “Imagine if every believer, everywhere
insisted on knowing the views of every other worshipper in a church on all
the hot-button issues of our time before they would agree to go to
Eucharist. When you don’t attend Eucharist because you disagree with the
views of the people who are attending with you, you make it seem that the
Eucharist is about you. It is not about you. It is about God.”
article points to a growing problem in the U.S. regarding the word of God.
The article further states this issue among Anglicans, “Supporters of
ordaining gays believe the Bible’s social-justice teachings take
precedence over its view of sexuality. Most Anglicans outside the United
States believe gay relationships are sinful.” It is alarming when leaders
of U.S. churches take the position that sin is no longer sin. It is not a
question of whether homosexuality can be forgiven when one repents. The
Bible teaches that God will forgive all kinds of sins when we repent of
them. Note what Paul wrote to the Ephesian church:
you he made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once
walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the
power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience,
among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh,
fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature
children of wrath, just as others.” Ephesians 2:1-3
implication is that the Ephesians once walked in the lusts of their flesh
but now they had been made alive in Christ. Paul was writing to Gentiles who
were alien to the covenants of promise given to the Jews. He teaches them
that by the sacrifice of Christ that they have now “been brought near by
the blood of Christ” (Ephesians 2:13).
may say, “Yes, you are right. The blood of Christ has forgiven them, and
the Lord overlooks their weaknesses. They are saved, and they can go on
living just as they are.” When Paul says, “…in which you once
walked…” he implies that the Ephesians had forsaken their former way of
life. And then he goes on to state the same idea very emphatically:
I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord that you should no longer walk as
the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, having their
understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the
ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart; who,
being past feeling, have given themselves over to lewdness, to work all
uncleanness with greediness. But you have not so learned Christ, if indeed
you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus:
that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows
corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of
your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to
God, in true righteousness and holiness.”
certainly sounds like the Ephesians had been saved to follow a new way of
life. They were not saved and then encouraged to continue in their old
sinful habits because the “social-justice teachings take precedence over
its view of sexuality.” They
were taught to repent and then to expect forgiveness from the Lord.
may protest that even though we may consider some things sinful it is still
not right for those African bishops to refuse to take communion with the
U.S. bishop. After all, we are not to judge who can take communion and who
cannot; each man is to judge for himself. And the reply is to go back to the
context of 1 Corinthians 5. The church at Corinth was being taught to take disciplinary
actions against a brother in Christ who had taken his father’s wife as his
own (v.1). They were instructed not to keep company with sexually immoral
people (v. 9), but were further taught that this teaching applied to one who
is called a brother in Christ and not to people out in the world (vv.
10-13). They were told not to
“eat” with such a bother (v. 11). And
what was it they were not to “eat” with him? Some may say it was a
common meal, but note what Paul states:
purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are
unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us.
Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of
malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and
truth.” 1 Corinthians 5:7-8
feast that Paul alludes to here is either the Love Feast or the Lord’s
Supper, which was closely connected with it. The Love Feast was a meal that
the early church ate together. This is the context in which Paul tells the Ephesians
“…not even to eat with such a person.”
appears to me that the Anglican bishops in Africa are standing on more
solid, Biblical footing than their American counterparts. So much of the
American religious community today has gone after their heart’s desire and
followed their own lusts. They then try to justify themselves by
“…teaching as doctrines the commandments of men…” (Matthew 15:7),
while at the same time ignoring explicit and plain teaching from the Bible.
We have drifted dangerously away from the Bible, and we are
desperately in need of those who will inspire us once again to “speak as
the oracles of God” (1 Peter 4:11).
is a passage in Hebrews 5:12 that aptly describes much of the church in
America today: “For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need
someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and
you have come to need milk and not solid food.” May the Lord hasten the
day when the church is solidly grounded in the first principles and is able
to ingest a little meat along with the milk.
First Century Hymn"
"It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with
Him, we shall also live
has been noted that our text for the day was originally written in poetic
language and form. It probably consists of an early hymn that Timothy and
the other readers of this epistle knew. It consists of a series of "if
. . . then" statements, each an important conditional promise, two with
negative connotations and two with positive.
we be dead with Him, we shall also live with Him." Elsewhere we read:
"You, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh,
hath He quickened together with Him, having forgiven you all
trespasses" (Colossians 2:13).
we suffer (literally, "endure"), we shall also reign with
Him." "To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my
throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in His
throne" (Revelation 3:21).
we deny Him, He also will deny us." Christ said, "But whosoever
shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in
heaven" (Matthew 10:33).
we believe not (literally, are unfaithful), yet He abideth faithful."
His promises are sure whether they be warnings of judgment or promises of
blessing. God promised Joshua: "As I was with Moses, so I will be with
thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee. Be strong and of a good
courage" (Joshua 1:5-6).
text begins with the statement, "It is a faithful saying," and
ends with, "He cannot deny Himself." We can be sure that He will
live up to His end of the bargain. His very nature demands it. JDM.
by Alphia Lemley
VISIT WITH OL' MAN LISTER
parson has been working on ol' Jesse Sailor for years, and last month, Jesse
gave the parson his hand and the Lord his life.
The church celebrated, and we all knew that some of the changes Jesse
needed to make would have to come from a higher power.
of Jesse's worst habits was cursing. It
took him twice as long to tell a story than it should have because of all
the flowery language he used. And
his flowery language would wilt the flowers for miles around.
after he was saved, Jesse was talking to ol' man Lister, and he said,
"Lister, I've known it was wrong to talk the way I do, but why is it
that now it bothers me so much? It
didn't used to."
Jesse," Lister answered kindly, "if you were to ask the Lord why
he's changing your heart and your life, he would tell you he's building a
temple fit for him to live in. Such
a spiritual renovation is a long painful process, but it's worth it to have
the Lord living in you."
know...I reckon he's right.