The Perfect Master and the Pattern Disciple

(This paper is intended to be supplementary to the foregoing "Things Behind and Things Before", and the two, therefore, should be read in this order. ED.)

Paul could say to the Philippians by the Spirit of God (and to us through them), "Brethren, be followers together of me." His whole course, and the tenor of his life from his conversion, was the exemplification of the reality and power of Christian life, and thus the pattern to us of true discipleship. But we must distinguish between the way in which he is to be followed as such, and the way in which the Lord Jesus in His life here is the Pattern and Example for His own. He could say in a way that Paul never could or would, "Follow Me."

The heading of this paper indicates the difference pretty clearly. Jesus speaks as our Lord and Master, who alone has the right to claim our allegiance and service, even as He has the power to win and draw our hearts after Himself. Not only so, but He has left "us an example that we should follow His steps," as having Himself displayed a life of perfect obedience and devotedness to God, in which "every beauteous grace" shone out most blessedly under the eye of God, and indeed

"There only could He fully trace

A life divine below."

It is the reproduction of this life practically in and through the believer now that is the aim and object of the Spirit of God - God (by the Spirit) working in us "the willing and the doing of His good pleasure."

Now it was because this life was so blessedly developed in Paul by the Spirit, and because in true devotedness to the Lord (" Christ Jesus my Lord," as he delighted to own Him) he followed in His steps, accepting fully the path of discipleship here, that he is a pattern for us - a pattern follower of Jesus, who is his Master and ours.

His life is thus a testimony to us that one of like passions with us, and the subject of sovereign grace like unto us who believe, could accept that path and persevere in it, triumphing over all opposition. He proved the sufficiency of Christ and His grace for every difficulty and emergency, and found, moreover, a joy and blessedness in that path far exceeding everything of this world.

Now it is the same One who apprehended Paul who has also apprehended us, to be partakers of all that heavenly glory with Himself, and like Him there. The path to it is His own, and lies through suffering and death; not death as the judgment of God for the believer, but death as the ending of all connected with the first man as before God, and of all the former course of things, but as also the door to resurrection where glory lies.

Now Paul had the revelation given to him of this heavenly glory, and of the relationships of the believer to Christ there; and by the Spirit he communicated these wondrous revelations to the saints, and sought by his ministry and testimony to lead them to find their object and joy in Christ in glory, and by his own bright example to direct and encourage them in the corresponding path of discipleship here. In short, he desired to have Christ - Son of the Father's love, and glorified Man at God's right hand - as the undivided Object before their hearts, and in the power of this (and of His constraining love) to accept His path of rejection and suffering here, for this was the path which He trod even to death, and that "the death of the cross." He Himself, in the days of His flesh, was constantly preparing His followers for the consequences of His rejection here, in regard both to this life and that glorious resurrection-life into which He was entering, His own words, then, may be recalled to mind for our comfort and encouragement at this time: "These things 1 have spoken unto you, that in Me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world."

What a blessed and perfect Master is He I May we seek grace to follow Him more closely, as Paul did, for "the little while" He leaves us here. S. M. A.