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CHAPTER XLV

Written from Rome

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The apostle Paul, early in his Christian experience, was given special opportunities to learn the will of God concerning the followers of Jesus. He was “caught up to the third heaven,” “into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.” He himself acknowledged that many “visions and revelations” had been given him “of the Lord.” His understanding of the principles of gospel truth was equal to that of "the very chiefest apostles.” He had a clear, full comprehension of “the breadth, and length, and depth, and height” of “the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge.”

Paul could not tell all that he had seen in vision; for among his hearers were some who would have misapplied his words. But that which was revealed to him enabled him to labor as a leader and a wise teacher, and also moulded the messages that he in 1 2 Cor. 12:2, 4, 1, 11.

2 Eph. 3:18, 19. This chapter is based on the Epistles to the Colossians and the Philippians.

later years sent to the churches. The impression that he received when in vision was ever with him, enabling him to give a correct representation of Christian character. By word of mouth and by letter he bore a message that ever since has brought help and strength to the church of God. To believers to-day this message speaks plainly of the dangers that will threaten the church, and the false doctrines that they will have to meet.

The apostle's desire for those to whom he addressed his letters of counsel and admonition, was that they should “be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine;'' but that they should all come into "the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.” He entreated those who were followers of Jesus in heathen communities not to walk “as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God ... because of the blindness of their heart,” but “circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the

He encouraged the believers to look forward to the time when Christ, who “loved the church, and gave Himself for it," would “present it to Himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing”— a church “holy and without blemish." 4

These messages, written with a power not of man but of God, contain lessons which should be studied by all, and which may with profit be often repeated. 3 Eph. 4:14, 13, 17, 18; 5:15, 16.

* Eph. 5:25, 27.

time." 3

In them practical godliness is outlined, principles are laid down that should be followed in every church, and the way that leads to life eternal is made plain.

In his letter to the saints and faithful brethren in Christ which are at Colosse," written while he was a prisoner in Rome, Paul makes mention of his joy over their steadfastness in the faith, tidings of which had been brought him by Epaphras, who, the apostle wrote, “declared unto us your love in the Spirit. For this cause,” he continued, “we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, unto all patience and long-suffering with joyfulness."

Thus Paul put into words his desire for the Colossian believers. How high the ideal that these words hold before the follower of Christ! They show the wonderful possibilities of the Christian life, and make it plain that there is no limit to the blessings that the children of God may receive. Constantly increasing in a knowledge of God, they may go on from strength to strength, from height to height in Christian experience, until by “His glorious power” they are made “meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light."

The apostle exalted Christ before his brethren as the one by whom God had created all things, and

by whom He had wrought out their redemption. He declared that the hand that sustains the worlds in space, and holds in their orderly arrangements and tireless activity all things throughout the universe of God, is the hand that was nailed to the cross for them. “By Him were all things created,” Paul wrote, “that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by Him, and for Him: and He is before all things, and by Him all things consist.” “And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath He reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy and unblamable and unreprovable in His sight.”

The Son of God stooped to uplift the fallen. For this He left the sinless worlds on high, the ninety and nine that loved Him, and came to this earth, to be “wounded for our transgressions” and “bruised for our iniquities.". He was in all things made like unto His brethren. He became flesh, even as we are. He knew what it meant to be hungry and thirsty and weary. He was sustained by food and refreshed by sleep. He was a stranger and a sojourner on the earth, in the world, but not of the world; tempted and tried as men and women of to-day are tempted and tried, yet living a life free from sin. Tender, compassionate, sympathetic, ever considerate of others, Ile represented the character of God. “The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, ... full of grace and truth.”.

5 Isa. 53:5.

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John 1:14.

Surrounded by the practices and influences of heathenism, the Colossian believers were in danger of being drawn away from the simplicity of the gospel, and Paul, in warning them against this, pointed them to Christ as the only safe guide. “I would that ye knew,” he wrote, “what great conflict I have for you, and for them at Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh; that their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgment of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ; in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

“And this I say, lest any man should beguile you with entieing words. . . . As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in Him: rooted and built up in Him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving. Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. For in Him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in Him, which is the head of all principality and power.

Christ had foretold that deceivers would arise, through whose influence “iniquity” should "abound,' and “the love of many” should “wax cold.”' He had warned the disciples that the church would be in more danger from this evil than from the

persecution of her enemies, Again and again Paul

? Matt. 24:12.

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