Alex Dryburgh, Ont.
JOHN 13:34; ROMANS 15:7; COLOSSIANS 3:13
Everything about the person of Christ is perfect. He is the perfect man of Psalm 37:3 7, "Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright:"
Perfect man to thee His God,
Beautiful the path He trod,
His delight to do thy will,
And the scriptures to fulfill.
Mark, the imperfect servant, takes his pen and writes about the perfect servant, "He hath done all things well: he maketh both the deaf to hear, and the dumb to speak" (Mark 7:37). It could be said of one servant, "He shall not fail nor be discouraged" (Isa. 42:4). Our praise ascends to thee, for him the altogether lovely one, Thy perfect servant, Thy beloved Son. Our praise ascends to Thee, He was the perfect sacrifice, nothing superfluous or lacking in his parts. He gave himself a whole burnt offering, all for God.
In these three scriptures we would like to see the Lord Jesus as the perfect example of love, of receiving, and of forgiving. But the scriptures would also teach us that evangelists, elders, and expositors, should be examples. In 1 Thessalonians, Paul, Silas, and Timothy, are seen as evangelists, but he tells them that the gospel came not unto them in word only, but, writes Paul, we were also examples. "And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord" (ch.1:6). "Ye are witnesses, and God also, how holily and justly and unbiamably we behaved ourselves among you that believe" (ch. 2:10). "The Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you" (ch. 3:12). These men were evangelists, but they were also examples. In 1 Peter 5:3, elders are exhorted to be examples, "Neither as being lords over Godís heritage, but being ensamples to the flock." Timothy, the expositor, was also to be an example, "Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in manner of life, in love, in faith, in purity" (1 Tim. 4:12 RV).
John, in his first epistle, presents Christ as an example. We are to walk as he walked, we are to be righteous as he is righteous, we are to purify ourselves even as he is pure. Also we see that Peter presents Christ as an example, "Leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps" (1 Pet. 2:21). Paul also presents Christ as an example, "Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ (1 Cor. 11:1).
LOVE ONE ANOTHER; AS I HAVE LOVED YOU (John 13:34)
The truth of Johnís gospel is the devotion of the Son. We see Godís love for the world, and we see the Fatherís love for the Son. As well, we see the Sonís love for the Father, Christís love for his own, and His love for those at Bethany. Jesus loved Martha, her sister, and Lazarus. Five times in the gospel we read about "the disciple whom Jesus loved."
The love of Christ was selfless, sympathetic, and sacrificial. In the last days men will go wrong in their affections. Lovers of self, lovers of money, lovers of that which is not good, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God.
If the assembly is going to be united together there must be love one toward another. It is an evidence that we are saved, "We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren" (1 John 3:14). It is proof that we love God, "For he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how, can he love God whom he hath not seen?" (1 John. 4:20). Love towards one another is evidence that we love Christ, "A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another" (John 13:34). "If ye love me, keep my commandments" (John 14:15). Loving one another is a testimony to the world, "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another" (John 13:35).
RECEIVE YE ONE ANOTHER, AS CHRIST ALSO RECEIVED US (Rom. 15:7)
In Romans 14,15 and 16, Paul deals with the truth of reception. In chapter 14 Paul brings before us the value of a brother. God received him (verse 3), Christ died for him (verse 15). Destroy not the work of God (verse 20). The reception in Romans 14 is to our homes, enjoying fellowship with the brother. When we come to Romans 16 fellowship is to the assembly. Phoebe is presented to us as a sister, a servant, a saint, and a succourer. Because of what she is, she is to be received in the Lord. When we come to Romans 15, it is reception to our hearts.
It is important to notice the Lord Jesus is an example in three different ways. In Rom. 15:3 the Lord Jesus is an example of one who pleased not Himself. He never pleased men, nor Himself, but He pleased His Father in heaven.
Patient in suffering and in shame, to do the Fatherís
Perfect in life, in death the same, pleasing the Father still.
In verse 5 the Lord Jesus is an example of oneness. Just as there was a unity and togetherness marking the Father and the Son, Paul says "be like-minded one toward another according to Christ", or, "after the example of Christ." Then in verse 7 "Receive ye one another, as Christ also received us to the glory of God." In 2 Corinthians 6 Paul writes about large-heartedness, "0 ye Corinthians, our mouth is open unto you, our heart is enlarged" (v. 11), and in the remainder of the chapter he gives us a narrow path for our feet. Paul had a heart large enough to receive the Corinthians, but their heart was too small to receive Paul. At Corinth we see big heads, but small hearts. Better if it had been small heads and big hearts.
FORGIVING...EVEN AS CHRIST FORGAVE YOU (Col. 3:13)
God gives and forgives, we get and forget. When we think about divine forgiveness, it is frank, full, and final, Peter said to the Lord in Matt. 18:21, "How oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? ĎTil seven times seven." Peter thought seven times would be sufficient, but the Lord said, "Until seventy times seven." We will only forgive in the measure we keep before us that we have been forgiven of God. In Col. 1:14 I am forgiven by Christ, "In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins." In Col. 2:13 I am forgiven by God, "having forgiven you all trespasses." When we come to Col. 3:13 we are to forbear one another and forgive one another, "If any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye."