For What Are You Seeking?

THE EXPRESSION, “LOOKING for a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow,” is applied to those whose hopes are seldom realized. But the Christian expects to realize his hope, and he knows that there is a figurative ‘pot of gold’ at the end of his ‘rainbow’. The Apostle Paul in Romans 2:7 describes this hope in these words: “To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life.”

When one who is humble hears this call, he staggers at the thought of such boundless interest and love on the part of God for him. Of what does this glory consist? It is a glory of nature, and a glory of character. The Christian is promised the same nature that God possesses—the divine nature—which is the highest of the spirit natures. No wonder that Peter, when referring to those who seek for this excellent goal, describes them as striving for “exceeding great and precious promises: that by these,” he says, they “might be partakers of the divine nature.”—II Pet. 1:4

The Christian who fully submits himself to the Father’s will day-by-day, going to him in prayer for grace to help in every time of need, and keeping his mind fixed on the Scriptural promises, finds, as Romans 5:5 puts it, that “the love of God is [being] shed abroad” in his heart “by the Holy Spirit.” When this transforming work of the Holy Spirit is complete, and the Christian awakes in the first resurrection with the divine nature, the character developed during his earthly pilgrimage will have been given a new body. Paul tells us, “God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him.”—I Cor. 15:38

The honor mentioned in Romans 2:7 is pictured by ancient Israel’s High Priest on the Day of Atonement, as described in Leviticus 16, changing from the garments of sacrifice to the garments of glory and beauty. Jesus, the Head, and the church, his body, will be kings and priests and judges to the world of mankind as they minister restitution blessings to them. This is in harmony with the statement: “Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the Second Death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.”—Rev. 20:6

The Apostle Paul says that we who follow in Jesus’ footsteps are seeking for immortality. Only those possessing the divine nature are immortal. It is a life which is death-proof and not dependent upon other sources for continuance. Jesus describes it in this way: “As the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself.” (John 5:26) In I John 3:2 we read, “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.” Just as Jesus is now immortal, so also his followers will have immortality when they awake in his likeness.

In Hebrews 7:16, Paul speaks of Jesus as having the “power of an endless life.” What a blessing it will be for those, too, who are of the church class, and are faithful in carrying out their consecration, to have full possession of their faculties forever, and never to be slowed up by old age or illness!

How do we ‘seek for’ the blessings of glory and honor and immortality? The apostle tells us that it is by ‘well doing’. This ‘well doing’ consists of faithfulness in harmony with Romans 12:1: “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.”

This well doing, we are told, should be with ‘patient endurance’. Paul gives the illustration of a racer. “Seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us.” (Heb. 12:1) Such a runner does not run uncertainly, in fits and starts, but steadily.

When there are many runners in a race, near the end some look weary; while others look strong and vigorous. In our ‘spiritual racecourse’ there are some who grow ‘weary in well doing’, and those who lose their first love and zeal, while others are active and alert, seeking ways and means to serve the Lord to the very end. Foot runners lay aside every weight so that they can run with nothing to hinder them in going as fast as possible. The weights could represent ‘besetting sins’, which we could throw off if we only put forth the effort to do so.

This reminds us of the story of Saul, the king of Israel, recorded in I Samuel 15:9,13,14,17. There we read: “Saul and the people spared Agag, and the best of the sheep, and of the oxen, and of the fatlings, and the lambs, and all that was good, and would not utterly destroy them: but every thing that was vile and refuse, that they destroyed utterly.

“And Samuel came to Saul: and Saul said unto him, Blessed be thou of the Lord: I have performed the commandment of the Lord. And Samuel said, What meaneth then this bleating of the sheep in mine ears, and the lowing of the oxen which I hear? And Samuel said, When thou wast little in thine own sight, wast thou not made the head of the tribes of Israel, and the Lord anointed thee king over Israel?”

The Amalekites well represent the sins of the flesh—all of which are doomed to destruction. They also could be some pleasures, not sinful of themselves, but interfering with our compliance with our consecration. There may be one pastime—one little lamb—which is choice and desirable to the flesh, and we have a temptation to spare it for the time being, with the excuse that later on, of course, it will be sacrificed. This is pictured by Saul sparing King Agag because he liked him so much, despite God’s order to leave none of their conquered enemies alive—neither men nor beasts. Saul was willing to destroy the other Amalekites, and the poor and sickly of the animals, but the choice things he wanted to save for his enjoyment.

What a lesson for us! We are to make a clean sweep in the sacrificing of worldly inclinations, as well as all evil thoughts and deeds of the body, as far as we are able! Samuel could hear the bleating of the sheep, and so, if we hold back from full consecration, the Lord will know of the pet earthly projects, and sins, that we are trying to retain.

We read: “If ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.” (Rom. 8:13) In the exercising of the new mind, the New Creature, the spirit is to serve as a deadening drug to the old creature so as to mortify, deaden, the gratification of the fleshly desires whenever and wherever they conflict with our consecration vow.

When one makes a covenant of sacrifice with God, the old will is reckoned dead. But there is a constant desire on the part of the old creature, our human nature, to arise from this condition of reckoned deadness, and to reassert itself. This requires continual watchfulness on the part of the New Creature, and in this respect the Apostle Paul says, “I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.”—I Cor. 9:27

The apostle names some of these evil deeds of the flesh, saying: “Now ye also [must] put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth.” (Col. 3:8) This means a slow, lingering death for the old creature, as explained by Paul in these words: “They that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.” (Gal. 5:24) In II Corinthians 7:1, he uses another figure of speech, and refers to this mortifying of the deeds of the body as a continual cleansing work. He says: “Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.”

While it is true that so far as the evil tendencies of the body are concerned, the Holy Spirit is to act as a deadening drug, on the other hand, so far as using the various members of the body in the service of God is concerned, the Spirit is to act as a stimulating drug. We read, “If the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.”—Rom. 8:11

Yes, the old creature is reckoned dead, but the New Creature is reckoned as living—a figuratively resurrected life. The aims and hopes and ambitions are now directed toward heavenly, righteous objectives, and in every act of life we are seeking to do God’s will. Paul wrote, “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.”—Col. 3:1,2

If the new mind is to quicken the mortal body in the service of the Lord, we will find it necessary to redeem the time. “Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time.” (Col. 4:5) We are each given twenty-four hours to live each day. A certain amount we must spend in sleeping, eating, taking care of our personal appearance, working in an office or shop, taking care of our homes, and other duties. But how much of the time that remains do we carefully apply in worthwhile efforts to develop our characters, to worship our God, to serve the brethren, and to witness to the Lord’s plan? It is surprising how much time we can redeem, if we really plan to do so.

Sometimes one can make the mistake of trying to accomplish too much. We plan for more work, more meetings, more witness efforts, and for more studying of the Word of God than our physical strength will allow, and then we get discouraged because we are exhausted before we can accomplish all the things we had planned. A man who has a vineyard is always careful not to have too many bunches of grapes on one branch, because he knows that while there will be many grapes on the branch, they will be small and green. The branch cannot bring too many bunches of grapes to full maturity. He knows that it is better to have fewer grapes and have them all mature in ripeness. So he prunes off some of the bunches of grapes to get better results. The lesson for us is not to plan to do too much. It is better to do fewer things and do them well, than to do too many and only do them half-way.

Our acquaintances may sometimes ask us why we are always so happy. The reason is that we are walking in the way of consecration, and in that path there is fullness of joy. We have great joy doing what the world thinks is foolishness! But to us, spiritual things are not foolishness, but are real blessings from the Lord. Therefore we bend every effort to fellowship with the brethren and study God’s Word so that we can please him.

Those who are seeking for ‘glory and honor and immortality’ are instructed by the Scriptures to watch their thoughts, and words, and doings, and to correct them when they are out of harmony with the admonitions of God’s Word. We were justified to life; we were given, figuratively speaking, the ‘robe’ of Christ’s ‘righteousness’ (Isa. 61:10) to cover our imperfections. The ‘robe’ pictures justification to life through faith in the ransom sacrifice of Jesus Christ, our Redeemer. In James 1:27 we are told that “pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep” oneself “unspotted from the world.”

‘Spots’ on the robe of righteousness would represent sins due to carelessness, not willful sins. The unavoidable Adamic sins are covered with the robe of righteousness; but the sins which are only partly willful in the new mind that was not as alert as it should have been, or because it had failed to go to the throne of grace for help to overcome, are only partly covered by the robe. That part which is due to thoughtlessness shows up as a spot on the robe.

For these partially willful sins we are to go to the Lord and ask his special forgiveness. In this way the spots are removed from our robes. Just as people like to keep their clothes neat and clean, so we should be quick to go to the throne of grace to keep our garments free from these spots. This helps in our future experiences to ‘keep under the body’, encouraging our hearts to grow in love and humility and sympathy.

So, our very failures become stepping-stones in developing Christian character. This is in harmony with I Corinthians 11:31, where we are told that “if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.” That is, if we are continually scrutinizing our thoughts and words and doings, and, as a result, habitually correcting our own faults and short-comings so far as we are able, the Lord will not have to give us special chastisements. We will be quick to observe the Lord’s leadings and to conform ourselves to his will in the little things, as well as in the big things of life.

All should be glad that the Lord is judging us according to our inner heart intentions, because it is our earnest desire to do his will in all of our affairs. When David was selected to be anointed as king, he was chosen because his heart was right with the Lord. The Lord said to Samuel, “Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him [Eliab]: for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.”—I Sam. 16:7

Others cannot read our hearts, but the Lord can. Let us seek to have our words unctuous at all times. This we can do if we continually seek to keep our hearts pure and continually bridle our tongues, as the Apostle James admonishes us to do. We certainly do not wish to have the old creature, if we are not watchful of it, yield to the sinful tendencies of malice and hatred, or to revert back to old ways of speaking with unkind words.

It is a great comfort, as we seek for glory and honor and immortality by patient continuance in well doing, to realize that God’s blessing is with us in our battles with the world and the flesh and the Devil. We read, “Keep me as the apple of the eye, hide me under the shadow of Thy wings.” (Ps. 17:8) How quickly we protect our eyes from possible injury. It is good to know that the Lord, in the same fashion, is ready to protect us instantly from spiritual injury—to watch all our affairs, and to overrule them for our eternal welfare.

In I Samuel 18:1 we are told about the warm friendship which existed between Jonathan and David. “It came to pass, when he had made an end of speaking unto Saul, that the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul.” This is a good picture of the warm friendships which exist among God’s people. The word ‘knit’ reminds us how a sweater is made of wool woven closely together by needles. So God’s people are closely bound together in the bonds of love.

Paul refers to the way in which we are ‘knit together’ in Christ. In Hebrews 13:20,21 he uses the expression, “make you perfect.” In Wilson’s Emphatic Diaglott this is translated “knit you together.” We can, therefore, read this text as follows: “Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, knit you together in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is well-pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory forever and ever.”

Those who have the same hope, and are walking in the same narrow way, delight to come together in meetings. They delight to speak about the things which knit them together. Malachi 3:16 reads, “They. that feared [reverenced] the Lord spake often one to another: and the Lord hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the Lord, and that thought upon his name.”

In the next verse the Lord says, “And they shall be mine … in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him.” The Lord’s people are precious to him, and he delights to have fellowship with them. We have also learned that his people are like jewels. Jewels are rare, required to be searched for, and washed from the mire before being prepared to refract the light. When they are polished, they beautifully reflect the light thrown upon them.

In the footstep followers of our Lord Jesus we find the most noble sentiments. They continually reflect the light of Christian love thrown on them by the Holy Spirit, as a result of living closely to the Lord. These have great pleasure now fellowshipping with others of like mind; and they will have still more rich joys while engaged with one another and the Lord Jesus in the great Millennial Age work of lavishing blessings upon the world of mankind!

Jesus often prayed to his Heavenly Father. It was from these seasons of secret communion with God that he drew spiritual strength, consolation, and comfort. They were seasons of precious communion when he could open his heart to the Father as to no one else; when he could tell him all his sorrows, and burdens, and fears; and when the Father manifested himself to him in tokens of loving approval and sustaining grace.

He is our example. Like Jesus we will learn obedience under adverse circumstances. He was tempted in all points like as we are, yet he without sin. We know that we have an High Priest who can be touched with the feeling of our infirmities. In submitting ourselves wholly to this High Priest, we have the full assurance of his love, superior wisdom, and grace. We know that the love of God for his children is so great that he will be with us in every trial.

With the sympathetic help of our great High Priest, we can continue on in the ‘narrow way’ which leads to the glorious prize of the high calling we so earnestly are seeking. Relying on the Lord’s help, we, through “patient continuance in well doing,” will, in the Lord’s due time, obtain “glory and honor and immortality, eternal life.”—Rom. 2:7

Dawn Bible Students Association
|  Home Page  |  Table of Contents  |