Three Steps.

1 Timothy 4:15-16.

Three distinct steps are in view in this portion of Gods word, which gives us instruction connected with the House of God in order. They are, firstly "Meditate upon these things," secondly, "give thyself wholly to them," and thirdly, "continue in them." Had these three exhortations been heeded by the Lord's people in the past, much disorder, failure and weakness in the Christian testimony would have been avoided, and the saints of God spared much grief and sorrow for, we read, that it is by taking heed to ourselves and the doctrine, and continuing in them, namely, the "things" in the doctrine, that the Lords people save themselves and those that hear them (v. 16). If, therefore, the cause of much of the breakdown today is the non-observance of these three injunctions, we might well consider them, and seek to respect them, for it is only by so doing we shall obtain any measure of relief, or freedom, from the influence of departure from the truth which abounds on all hands today.

God has His Man, the Lord Jesus Christ, before Him and is working forward towards the time when all shall speak of the moral features of Christ. To this end, the will of God is that all who are saved should be conformed to His Son even now, for the moral characteristics of Christ in the believer give delight to God the Father. God not only sees us in Christ, but by the Holy Spirit indwells us, and seeks to produce Christ in us by taking of His "things," and revealing them to us, so occupying us with His beloved Son. Thus God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who is also our Father, seeks to develop in us that which is suitable to Himself; whilst we, responding practically to the revelation, are conformed morally to Christ and become pleasurable to God Himself (which is of paramount importance) and are found as true witnesses to Him, and to His beloved Son, in this scene.

With this end in view, God originally gave to His people on earth His word, now known as the Holy Scriptures, and has graciously safeguarded and preserved them, and their translations, down to the present time. Furthermore, to reveal His counsels and purposes in Christ to us, He has set them out in various forms and lines of teaching in His word, so that the Holy Spirit, can reveal truth to us in all simplicity.

Even the Old Testament, was given to minister Christ and His things to us, for, are we not told that the blessed Lord (Who before the New Testament was written) on the memorable walk to Emmaus "expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning Himself?" (Luke 24:27).

Whilst then the appropriateness of these three steps being given in 1 Timothy (that portion of God's word with instruction for our behaviour in His house) will be readily appreciated, the devoted child of God will surely delight in a wider application of the three earnest exhortations under notice. They can be applied to the whole of the Word of God — the Scriptures, from which we learn the "things" concerning Christ HIMSELF.


Meditate upon these things

or "Occupy thyself with these things" (New Trans.). When we read our Bibles, we miss much of the Spirit's teaching in the truth by reason of our failure to quietly consider what we have read. God, as our Father, in His great love, delights to minister Christ to us when we read His word, and the blessed Lord Jesus Christ seeks to speak to us of Himself when we are so engaged. But how much more should we receive if we meditated more upon the scriptures in the spirit of one of old who could pray "Open Thou mine eyes, and I shall behold wondrous things out of Thy law" Ps. 119:18. The Holy Scriptures abound with instances of men of God receiving spiritual enlightenment during moments of meditation, that is, when led by the Spirit, they have concentrated on the things of God to the exclusion of the affairs of earth. It was when Moses was ready to "turn aside" from the quiet task of minding the flock of Jethro, to the even more quiet occupation of looking at the burning bush, that God could call to him out of the midst of the bush and acquaint him with His intentions concerning Israel's deliverance (Ex. 3). Similarly, Daniel, when he was prepared to turn away from everything else on earth, and set his "face unto the Lord God, to seek by prayer and supplications" was "informed," or enlightened, by Gabriel, and given "skill and understanding" in the truth relating to God's future dealings with His people, as bound up with the Messiah (Dan. 9:3, 20-22). Then there is the case of Peter in Acts 10:19. It was when he pondered, or "thought on the vision," which he had seen, that the Spirit of God instructed him in connection with it.

Then, as if to emphasize the importance of our giving ourselves to a study of the Word, the Holy Spirit leads the Apostle Paul to write "Consider what I say, and the Lord give thee understanding in all things" 2 Tim. 2:7. A meditation "upon these things" of Christ is but the introduction, and leads to the holy contemplation of Himself. Who would not delight in such an occupation? To linger adoringly over the One who was ever the delight of the Father in eternity; to trace Him through the Old Testament scriptures, which abound with prophecies of His coming and resultant suffering and glory (1 Peter 1:11); to think of His grace in coming into this scene, which He had created, and which He sustained, and yet in which there was no room for Him, even in the inn; to appreciate, in some feeble measure that "in Him all the fulness (of the Godhead) was pleased to dwell;" to recall His perfect life as a Man dependent upon God, and as Son revealing the Father — a life marked by devotion, obedience, humility, loneliness and suffering; to behold His grace to His own people, the Jews, in spite of their rejection of Him: to stand amazed at His loving kindness to men generally, in the presence of their extreme wickedness; to marvel at the character of His death of ignominy and shame: to rest upon the efficacy of His sacrifice; to enjoy His love now known; to consider Him the "Apostle and High Priest of our confession:" to glory in His Headship of the Assembly and New Creation; to rejoice in His exaltation as Man to the right hand of God "above every principality, and authority, and power, and dominion" (Eph. 1:21): to explore His unsearchable riches; to be exercised as to our being of Himself, His Body, and see this to be the means of our displaying His moral characteristics in this scene of His rejection; to know that the Assembly increases unto a Holy Temple in Him; to look forward and see His loved One, the Holy City, Jerusalem, "coming down out of the heaven from God, having the glory of God" (Rev. 21:10-11); to transfer our thoughts right on to the eternal state and anticipate the grand and glorious results of His work, when God shall tabernacle with men, when every tear shall be wiped away, and when neither death. nor grief, nor cry, nor distress shall exist any more — all in order that our hearts may be drawn out to Him, that we might adore Him and become morally like Him, whilst we wait for that happy moment when HE shall come into the air to take us up to be with Him; "So shall we ever be with the Lord" (1 Thess. 4:17).

Meditate upon these things — every convenient moment of the day. What a precious privilege! What a wonderful opportunity! What a glorious occupation! What balm for a troubled mind! What rest for a weary soul! What sustenance in the conflict for truth! Is it not really to live with Christ? Surely we shall gladly take, not only the first step exhorted, but also the second, which is:

Give thyself wholly to them

or, "be wholly in them" (New Trans.), for in so doing, shall we not be giving ourselves completely to Christ? Truth is only valuable to us in so far as we come under its influence, or, in other words, as we are subject to it as a controlling power in our lives. Hence the desire of the Lord that we should give ourselves wholly to these things which speak of Himself. A summary of the comprehensive effects that God's truth should have upon His people is given in Deut. 11:18-20, these, no doubt, prefiguring the way in which Christ today desires to mould and develop those who believe in Him. The commandments, being the manner and extent of the revelation of God's truth for that dispensation, having been given through Moses, the children of Israel were exhorted to lay up these words in their hearts, and in their souls (v. 18). Thus "the soul," was to be governed by the truth given, and the affections to be developed by it. Their members also were to be controlled by the words received, for they were to bind them for a sign upon their "hands," so that they should be as frontlets upon their "eyes." The truth set before them had also to form the subject of their conversation at all times, and be taught to their children (v. 19). Lastly, the words had to be written upon their gates and door posts so that a testimony to the truth went out to all (v. 20).

Thus the lives of the earthly people of God, whether lived privately before Him, domestically before their families, or outwardly before all, had to manifest the words, or truth, received. If God required these results from a people under the commandments, how much more should similar results be love's response on our part today, seeing that not only are we under grace, and not under law, but also that the truth which we have is really the shining forth of Christ Himself. Giving ourselves wholly to these things of Christ, represents a complete surrender to Him on our part. There will be the daily walk with Him, and the sense of His presence with us at all times. Our wills abandoned, His will supreme, He can then teach us, and form us to correspond to Himself morally. Not only what we say and do, but the manner or way in which we speak and act will testify to our intimacy and communion with Him. Then the spiritual "progress" made, or our "profiting" by the truths received, will be manifest to all, according to verse 15 of our chapter. Those about us will see that we are in His blessed company. What a happy position! What a blessed condition to be in! Making everything of HIM. And to maintain us in both a good condition and a right position, the Holy Spirit then leads on the Apostle to bring before us the third step. He proceeds. in verse 16 of the portion under notice, to exhort us to "take heed" to ourselves and to the doctrine, to the end that we may:

Continue in them, namely, the things of Christ, for in so doing we shall surely be responding to our blessed Lord's desire "Abide in me" (John 15:4-6). It will be observed that we are to pay attention both to ourselves and to the doctrine: to have regard to the one without the other is an unprofitable, if not dangerous, procedure. We might be occupied with our conduct apart from the consideration of truth, and merely be engaged in harmful introspection. On the other hand, to dwell much on truth, but fail to apply it to ourselves, is to become pure theorists, not benefiting by what is set before us. But allowing the truth in the doctrine to regulate our lives results in the Spirit moulding us as individuals according to Christ, so that we answer to His mind for us. Some of God's people vainly seek to excuse themselves remaining in a wrong position, or of continuing with something not sanctioned by scripture, by putting forth the plea of desiring to help others who are regarded as weaker, or more unscripturally situated, or entangled, than they are themselves. Such a course, however, is condemned by God's word. It is only by "continuing in the things of the doctrine, or, walking according to truth, that we can hope to save "those that hear" (verse 16), that is, those to whom we speak and seek to help.

No doubt, we shall find that in seeking to take the three steps brought before us, we are at times apparently faced with insuperable difficulties, but let us remember for our encouragement that the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward Him" (2 Chron. 16:9). Thus, to summarise the teaching of the passage under consideration — by meditating upon the things recorded in the Scriptures, we are led to and become occupied with Christ Himself; by giving ourselves wholly to them, we surrender our lives completely to Him and become morally like Him, and by continuing in them, we are saved from influences which by leading us away from His blessed company, seek to destroy the testimony of Himself which He has so graciously committed to us. May we all, then, be prepared to take these three steps.
Leonard Steeds.

O keep us, love divine near Thee.
That we our nothingness may know,
And ever to Thy glory be
Walking in faith while here below.