Part 13: The Manifestations of True Spirituality

(The following is the last installment in our series of articles drawn from Pastor Stam’s classic work on True Spirituality.)


True spirituality will manifest itself in many ways in the life of the believer—ways which in themselves will bespeak the blessedness of walking in the Spirit.

Among these is the combination of graces which Paul, by the Spirit, calls “The fruit of the Spirit”:

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law” (Gal. 5:22,23).

First it should be observed that “the Spirit” here refers, not to “the spirit of man which is in him,” but to the Spirit of God who indwells the believer and causes him to bring forth good fruit. This is evident, both from the context here in Galatians 5 and from what we are told of “the spirit of man” in I Corinthians 2:11. These spiritual graces, then, do not spring from any natural goodness in us, but from the indwelling Spirit of God.

Next it should be noted that in contrast to “the works of the flesh” we have here “the fruit of the Spirit.” These graces are not the product of human energy but the natural result of life and growth.

The reader will recognize at a glance the difference between these spiritual virtues and those which the world fosters and boasts of. Here we have the delicate and beautiful finish, so to speak, of God’s workmanship. This is not to concede that it is superficial or merely outward, for, as we have pointed out, it is the outflow of the Spirit’s work within.

Let us briefly consider these graces, possessed by believers in the measure that they yield to the Spirit’s control.

Love. Here we must begin, for love is the great motivating force behind the truly spiritual life. “The love of Christ constraineth us” (II Cor. 5:14). Faith “worketh by love” (Gal. 5:6). It is “by love” that we are to “serve one another” (Gal. 5:13). Indeed, though we give our all for others, if this is not done out of genuine love it will profit us nothing (I Cor. 13:3). This is as it should be, for Christian service is truly blessed only in the measure that it is sincerely done and springs from heartfelt love.

Joy. The truly spiritual life is by no means a dull or unhappy one. Indeed, true spirituality is the key to true blessedness. And joy be it noted, runs far deeper than mere happiness or that natural cheerfulness which many of the unsaved possess. The original word (chara) is a close relative to the word grace (Gr., charis). True joy is anchored deep in God Himself. It springs from, 1.) a knowledge of what God has done for us and is to us (I Thes. 1:6) and, 2.) a consciousness that, being in His will, we are the recipients of His very best (II Cor. 8:1,2). This can be the fruit of the Spirit alone (Rom. 14:17).

Peace. Another blessed fruit of the Spirit! It begins with “peace with God,” appropriated by faith in Christ (Rom. 5:1), and is followed by “the peace of God,” which garrisons the heart and mind, however dark the hour (Phil. 4:7) and naturally results in an attitude of peace, or peacefulness, toward others (Rom. 12:18; II Cor. 13:11; I Thes. 5:13). Pity those believers who fail to “walk in the Spirit,” lose “the blessedness,” and “bite and devour one another” (Gal. 4:15; 5:15,16) instead of bearing this blessed fruit.

Longsuffering. The idea here is that of patience, particularly with the failures of others. This virtue naturally follows love, joy and peace, and is, again, distinctly a fruit of the Spirit. How often we find it linked with graces not stressed in worldly society: “forbearance,” “kindness,” “meekness,” etc.

Gentleness. The root of this word is variously rendered “easy,” “better,” “kind,” “good,” “gracious.” It has the idea of gentle kindness toward another. This, despite the callousness of the world about him, will be a characteristic of every truly spiritual believer. Nor will this indicate weakness; indeed, it will indicate superior strength. Only the strong can afford to be gentle. God is almighty, yet He dealt with us in gentle kindness and thus led us to repentance (Rom. 2:4).

Goodness. Following again in natural sequence, the idea here is not that of personal righteousness, but rather of a disposition to do good. The same root is found in Galatians 6:10, where we are exhorted: “As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.” How this all makes for objective living!

Faith. The word faith here, however, is not used objectively, but subjectively. It does not refer to what one does, but rather to a quality he possesses. It does not denote trust, but fidelity or worthiness to be trusted, as in Romans 3:3; Galatians 2:15,16,20; 3:22, etc. “All men have not faith,” wrote Paul, referring, not merely to unbelievers, but to “unreasonable and wicked men,” who could not be trusted (II Thes. 3:2). By contrast every believer should be worthy of the confidence and trust of others at all times. Fidelity again follows the other moral virtues in natural sequence and is also a fruit of the Spirit.

Meekness. The meaning of this word is clear from its usage in the immediate context (6:1) where we read, with respect to the brother overtaken in a fault: “Ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.” It refers to that mildness of attitude and manner which, in our case, springs from the realization that we too are liable to fall before temptation. It is a mildness which springs from a proper humility and recognition of our own weakness. How can I be harsh and severe toward a fallen brother when I, myself, am so liable to stumble and fall? Yet, meekness is not a natural trait where the sins of others are concerned. It is a fruit which only the Spirit can produce and, as such, follows naturally after faith, or personal fidelity. The writer’s mother used to teach him in childhood to be very exacting with one’s self but very understanding with others. This is not the way of the world.

Temperance. Temperance, or self-control, is the crowning grace of all, assuming that the others are already possessed. Few believers realize how important a place self-control should have in our lives. They think of it only in connection with eating, drinking and pleasure, and fail to realize the place it should have in our entire conduct and conversation as believers. Indeed, self-control should be exercised even in our worship. How many sincere but untaught believers there are who, loving the Lord with all their hearts, yet forgetting the majesty of the Godhead and the wonder of His work in our behalf, address Him as “dear Jesus” and praise Him with shallow love songs, as if He were some earthly lover.

Others again suppose that it is the highest form of worship to let one’s self go. One of the strongest proofs that modern Pentecostalism is not of the Spirit is the fact that its devotees so often “let themselves go” and give themselves over completely to a preter-human power (which they suppose to be the Spirit) uttering thoughts not their own, often in languages they do not understand, meanwhile going to great excesses of emotional self-expression. They themselves frequently compare it with intoxication.1 And this while the Apostle Paul, by inspiration, exhorts:

“Be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit” (Eph. 5:18).

The truly spiritual person will not go to excesses of any kind, but will, by the Spirit, exercise self-control in his eating and drinking, in his conversation and conduct—even in his prayer and praise. May God help us, in these evil and frivolous days, also to bear this fruit of the Spirit!

Referring to those who do bear the Spirit’s fruit, the apostle says: “Against such there is no law” (Gal. 5:23). Of course not! Those who are led of the Spirit need not be placed under law, nor can they be condemned by it (Vers. 16,18).

But besides those inward graces which the Spirit produces, there are also outward manifestations of true spirituality which should next be considered.


Faithful Testimony

No truly spiritual believer will lightly allow his fellowman to go to perdition or his brother in Christ to stumble and fall. Even apart from his desire for the good of others, he will long to see his Lord honored in the salvation of the lost and the upbuilding of the saved. Thus it is that the inspired apostle writes with regard to his own testimony:

“For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead:

“And that He died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto Him which died for them, and rose again” (II Cor. 5:14,15).

What an example the apostle himself was in this! He went everywhere “witnessing both to small and great” (Acts 26:22). As he committed the Ephesian elders “to God and to the word of His grace,” he could say: “…remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn everyone night and day with tears” (Acts 20:31,32) and could challenge them: “Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men” (Ver. 26). Indeed, despite forebodings of future persecutions he could still say:

“But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20:24).

In all this, let us who would be truly spiritual heed the apostle’s exhortation:

“Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an example” (Phil. 3:17).

Consistent Behavior

But, as we have seen in our discussion of the conflict between the old and new natures, there is more to the Christian walk than merely witnessing to others. The music of a godly life must accompany the testimony of our lips. Not only for our own spiritual good but for the sake of others and for the glory of the Christ who died for us, we must flee from the lusts of the flesh and keep ourselves “unspotted from the world.”

How the Apostle Paul stresses this: “Walk in newness of life” (Rom. 6:4)—“Walk not after the flesh” (Rom. 8:4)—“Walk honestly” (Rom. 13:13)—“Walk in the Spirit” (Gal. 5:16)—“Walk worthy of the [calling] wherewith ye are called” (Eph. 4:1)—“Walk not as [the] Gentiles walk” (Eph. 4:17)—“Walk in love” (Eph. 5:2)—“Walk as children of light” (Eph. 5:8)—“Walk circumspectly” (Eph. 5:15)—“Walk worthy of the Lord” (Col. 1:10)—“Walk in wisdom” (Col. 4:5).

Diligent Toil

One of the Christian natives in a Congo compound had left the others hoeing the mission gardens and was missing when the missionary appeared. Going in search of him the missionary found him in his hut, reading his New Testament. “What are you doing here while the others are working?” the missionary asked. “I’m trying to get victory,” replied the native.

Too many Christians seem to suppose that a truly spiritual life is made up only of Bible study, prayer, and the singing of hymns. Actually, true Bible study, prayer and thanksgiving will rouse us to give ourselves in lives of toil and self denial for Christ and others.

Our apostle was an example to us in this too. Writing to the Colossians, he says, with respect to his efforts to lead them to spiritual maturity: “Whereunto I also labor, striving according to His working, which worketh in me mightily” (Col. 1:29). And his efforts to win the lost and establish the saved often entailed hard secular labor too, for to the Thessalonians he writes: “Ye remember, brethren, our labor and travail: for laboring night and day, because we would not be chargeable unto any of you, we preached unto you the gospel of God” (I Thes. 2:9). Indeed, this often meant working physically with his hands, for to the Ephesian elders he said: “Yea, ye yourselves know, that these hands have ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me” (Acts 20:34). In other words, he worked with his hands to support both himself and his co-workers. And while he did not consider this to be the ideal procedure, he did not feel himself too important to do it when necessary, even though “not a whit behind the very chiefest apostles.” To the Corinthian believers he writes: “Even unto this present hour we…labor, working with our own hands” (I Cor. 4:11,12).

This is an important phase of the truly spiritual life which is often overlooked. Those who can sing and pray and testify so heartily are often slow to offer their services when there is work to be done. Yes, even ministers of the gospel and leaders in Christian work are often delinquent in performing the tasks that properly go with their ministry. They seem to feel that the Holy Spirit should prosper their work if they only study the Word and pray.

The Apostle Paul was not too lazy or too proud to work, with his hands if necessary, and untiringly in any case, to reach greater numbers with the message committed to him. Comparing himself with other “ministers of Christ” he could honestly say: “in labors more abundant” (II Cor. 11:23).

If we would be truly spiritual, then, we should heed his exhortation to the Corinthians and to us, to be “always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord” (I Cor. 15:58).

Sacrificial Giving

Another manifestation of true spirituality is sacrificial giving for the Lord’s sake. It is true that carnal Christians and even unbelievers are sometimes generous with their resources. It is also true that we must obey I Timothy 5:8 and provide for our households, but it is not true that a truly spiritual believer will be stingy with the wealth that God has entrusted to him. Invariably the healthiest churches, spiritually, are the most generous contributors to the work of the Lord. Yet, alas, how few of God’s people, proportionately, have come to know the joy of making financial sacrifices for the Lord’s sake!

The Philippians knew this joy. Poor as these godly people were in this world’s goods, they sought Paul out again and again to minister to his needs and to help with the work of the Lord, sometimes urging him to accept what they could ill afford to give (Phil. 4:15, 16; II Cor. 8:3). And this they did in a better way than Paul had hoped, first giving themselves to Paul and to the Lord (II Cor. 8:5).

With the carnal Corinthians this was not so. Probably the largest of all the churches founded by Paul, they did not even bear the apostle’s meagre living expenses (II Cor. 11:9). Indeed, while at Corinth, the apostle was supported by the poor Macedonians!

Paul had to remind the Corinthians of the generosity of the Macedonians (especially the Philippians) to provoke them to emulation, lest the Macedonians should put them to shame (II Cor. 8:8; 9:4) when all the other churches presented their contributions for the “poor saints” of Judea. He had to send Titus to stir up among them the grace of giving (II Cor. 8:6). He had to remind them how the Son of God had given His all and had become poor to make them rich (II Cor. 8:9). He had to remind them that they had promised to do their part a year before, exhorting them: “Now therefore perform the doing of it” (II Cor. 8:10,11). He had to challenge them: “prove the sincerity of your love” (II Cor. 8:8).

These Corinthians had the Pentecostal gifts, yet they were far from spiritual. The apostle called them “carnal” and “babes” (I Cor. 3:1). They had not shown due appreciation to God for His goodness to them. They had not accepted their responsibilities toward Christ and their brethren. How could they be called spiritual? True, they had much enthusiasm, even disorder, in their services (I Cor. 14:26-28,33,40) but can one be called spiritual who knows that God so loved the world that He gave—gave His very best, His beloved Son, to save him from sin, yet is not in turn moved to offer himself and his goods to God? Can one be considered spiritual who knows that the Lord of glory became poor—so poor—that we might be rich, yet is not touched to make sacrifices for Him and for those for whom He died?

We have known Christian people who have labored industriously as a sort of substitute for giving, but this will not do. God is a generous and sacrificial Giver. “He…spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all” and even now, “with Him also freely gives us all things” (Rom. 8:32). And will not those who are truly spiritual partake of His nature? Thus diligent toil and sacrificial giving both go with true spirituality, for the Spirit Himself, who exhorts us to be “always abounding in the work of the Lord,” also exhorts, with respect to giving: “See that ye abound in this grace also” (II Cor. 8:7) and:

“This I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully” (II Cor. 9:6).

Let those of us who have not yet entered into the joy and fellowship of sacrificial giving begin now, knowing that “God loveth a cheerful [Lit., joyful] giver” (II Cor. 9:7).

Heartfelt Worship

Actually, worship is both an inward and an outward manifestation of true spirituality.

Strangely, the Pauline epistles seldom use the word worship itself, yet have a great deal to say about it and afford many examples of it. Always true worship goes hand in hand with true spirituality. Thus the apostle exhorts:

“…be filled with the Spirit; speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord” (Eph. 5:18,19).

We cannot here go into the many doxologies—all expressions of worship—found in the epistles, or the many other exclamations of adoration, thanksgiving, and praise found in these writings. Varied as they are, each one is a manifestation of true spirituality. We cite a few examples:

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in [the heavenlies] in Christ” (Eph. 1:3).

“…the Son of God…loved me and gave Himself for me” (Gal. 2:20).

“…I thank my God upon every remembrance of you” (Phil. 1:3).

Surely, while we fail to witness for Christ, or to live or toil or sacrifice for Him—and certainly, while our hearts remain unmoved to worship Him, it is idle to talk of being spiritual. As we bring this study to a close, then, let each of us ask God that by His grace we may bear the fruit of the Spirit and manifest the results of His presence within.


  1. We attended a national convention of The Assemblies of God some time ago, in which the service ended in utter confusion. People were praying, singing, shouting, speaking in tongues, stretching out their hands and carrying on as if wholly out of control. Before us kneeled one who, ten minutes earlier, had appeared to be a sensible-looking businessman. Now he was alternately speaking in tongues and repeating the prayer: “Save souls,” so fast that one could only conclude that he was beside himself.

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Paul’s Mantle

(The following article was written by Charles Bury when he served as the pastor of the Open Bible Church, now the Grace Bible Church of Oshkosh, WI. In the latter years of his ministry he also pastored the Falls Bible Church located in Menomonee Falls, WI. I had the privilege of succeeding him at the Falls in 1979, when he had to retire from full-time ministry due to heart problems. Pastor Bury was well read and had a working knowledge of the Greek language. We’re sure you’re going to enjoy his defense of Paul’s gospel.—Pastor Sadler)

In Old Testament days, when the father of a family was about to pass out of this life, he delegated the rulership of the family to one of his sons, usually the eldest. In 2 Kings 2:1-15 we read of another kind of authority being delegated from one to another. Elisha had asked that a double portion of the spirit of Elijah be upon him. When Elijah was carried by a whirlwind into heaven, Elisha rent his clothing and took up the mantle that Elijah left behind, and with it carried on the ministry of his predecessor.

The Roman church claims that her popes are wearing Peter’s mantle, and that all the authority Peter had is now vested in the Roman church in the person of the pope.

Scripture is silent on any apostolic succession from Peter to others, but it is not silent on this concerning Paul. When Paul was about to depart from this life he tried to make sure that the message which God had deposited with him would not die with him. He deposited with Timothy that deposit of truth which Christ had made with him. “Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. That good thing which was committed unto thee keep by the Holy Spirit which dwelleth in us…And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also” (II Tim. 1:13,14; 2:2).

Christ had made the truth known to Paul. Paul gave it to Timothy. Timothy was to pass it on to faithful men. These faithful men were to pass it on to others. Several times Paul exhorts Timothy to hold fast to the message (See I Tim. 1:18; 6:20; II Tim. 1:8,13,14; 3:14).

Just as Elisha picked up Elijah’s mantle, so Timothy picked up the one Paul left behind. The faithful men picked it up when Timothy dropped it, but it is doubtful if any picked it up when these faithful men laid it down. Walker’s History of the Christian Church gives us this information: “The forty years of Church history from 70 A.D. to 110 A.D. are very obscure, due to lack of evidence. During this period a rapid change took place however, for when the characteristics of the Church can once more be clearly traced, it shows surprisingly little of the distinctive stamp of Paul.”

Jowett, in his book “The Epistles of St. Paul” says: “In later writings we find no trace of the mind of St. Paul. His influence seems to pass from the world. There is no trace that his writings left any lasting impress within the Church, or perhaps anywhere in the first ages.”

The Epistle to the Galatians shows that, even in Paul’s own lifetime, legalism was beginning to exclude the message of Grace. The generation after Timothy would not take up Paul’s mantle and the line of succession was broken. For hundreds of years Paul’s mantle lay in the closet, covered up by the rubbish of religion and tradition. Now there is a movement on foot to pick up Paul’s mantle again, and we are a part of this movement to revive the message that goes with the mantle. Some in Paul’s day wore it for a while, then when persecution came they threw it into the ragbag. Many in our day have done the same thing. Cost what it may, let us not discard the mantle that we have wrapped about us. The Grace of God is the remedy for the ills of sinners, saints, and a feeble, religious Christendom. According to religion the mantle is out of style, but according to the Lord the mantle will be in style as long as the dispensation of the grace of God lasts. Let’s wrap it tightly about us and fight the good fight of faith in it. Let us not compromise with religion concerning truth, nor with the world concerning practice. May Christ come soon and find us wearing the mantle faithfully.

Following Jesus!

(John LaVier served as the pastor of the Grace Church in Indianapolis, IN for 47 years until his retirement. He was one of the founding fathers of the Grace Movement who never wavered in his stand for the Word, rightly divided, as the following article demonstrates.)

Many times we have noticed various church bulletin boards, and have often wondered as to the source of the “words of wisdom” displayed on them. Most of them must have been taken from the almanac, for very few of them come from the Bible. One thing may be said in their favor; though often senseless, they are usually harmless as well. However, just recently, we were astounded to notice the following on the board in front of a large denominational church. It said: “Jesus Christ should be followed, not worshipped.”

Surely we are living in days of apostasy when a man who calls himself a minister of the gospel would have the brazenness to put such a saying in front of a church which pretends to bear the Name of Christ.

How can we follow Christ, unless we can worship Him as well? If the Lord Jesus Christ was not the Eternal Son of the Living God, then He was a deceiver of the basest sort, and is neither to be followed nor worshipped. If He was God manifest in the flesh, as He claimed to be, then He certainly is to be worshipped as well as followed, and like Thomas, we should prostrate ourselves at His feet and say, “My Lord and my God.” We need not speculate, though, as to whether He was or was not the God-Man. Hear the testimony of the Father Himself, who testified from heaven, saying, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye Him.” We read also, “That all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent Him” (John 5:23). Is God the Father worthy of our worship? Then so is God the Son.

The cry of these so-called Modernists, who are no more than christianized agnostics, is “Back to Jesus,” and it is sad to relate that some Fundamentalists seem to be echoing the cry of these infidel preachers. God’s program is not back to Jesus, but on to the Mystery. We are not to follow Jesus, a minister of the circumcision in the land of the Jews, but we are to be occupied with Him as He now is, seated at the Father’s right hand in the heavenlies, and made to be the Head over all things to the Church, which is His Body.

The statement is often made that we should follow the Lord in baptism. If this is so, we ought also to follow the Lord in circumcision (Luke 2:21). We ought to follow Him into the synagogue on the Sabbath day (Luke 4:16). We ought to follow Him as One under the Law, obeying them that sit in Moses’ seat (Gal. 4:4 & Matt. 23:1-3). We ought to follow Him as He proclaims the kingdom at hand (Matt. 4:17; 9:35; 10:7). We should heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, and raise the dead (Matt. 10:8). If anyone sues us, we should not contest the suit, but should give them even more than they demand (Matt. 5:40). If one would borrow from us, we should not deny their request, but should lend to them without expecting to be repaid (Matt. 5:42 & Luke 6:34-35). If we are going to follow Jesus of Nazareth, we should do all these things, for Jesus Himself taught and practiced them.

While on earth, “Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers” (Rom. 15:8). He was a Jew among the Jews, confining His ministry to the nation Israel, and announcing Himself as their King. Israel having rejected Him, He went back to glory, and when Israel continued in their rejection, He revealed through the Apostle Paul His new program for this dispensation of the grace of God, so that now we do not follow Him in His humility, as the Messiah of Israel, but we follow Him as the glorified One at God’s right hand, and the Head of the Body.

The Apostle Paul, through whom the truth for this age has been revealed, says, “Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we Him no more” (2 Cor. 5:16). If we are to follow Christ today, we must obey 1 Corinthians 11:1, “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.” Thus, as we follow the Risen, Ascended Christ in Glory, according to the revelation of the mystery, we also worship and adore Him as the Blessed Son of God, “Our Lord Jesus Christ, which in His times He shall shew, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords” (1 Tim. 6:15).

The Plumbline

“And, behold, the Lord stood upon a wall made by a plumbline, with a plumbline in His hand….Then said the Lord, Behold, I will set a plumbline in the midst of My people Israel: I will not again pass by them any more” (Amos 7:7,8).

As we compare the two verses of this vision, God identifies the “wall” as “My people Israel.” But what did “the plumbline” represent?

A plumbline is a tool that is used even today by masons who wish to erect walls that are perfectly straight. A simple weight at the end of a string is suspended alongside the wall as it is being constructed, to ensure that it is being built straight, and at a perfect right angle to the gravitational pull of the earth. Construction workers know that bowed or leaning walls are easily toppled (Psa. 62:3).

Since our text tells us that this “wall” that represents Israel was “made by a plumbline,” we believe the plumbline to be the Law of Moses. It was the Law that defined Israel as a nation, and its perfect code of righteousness ensured that Israel was built in accord with the perfectly upright standard of the very righteousness of God. Here in Amos 7, God is re-applying the plumbline standard of the Law to Israel to show Amos how far his nation had shifted away from the perfect standard with which she had been constructed, and why He could no longer “pass by them any more” in mercy, but must rather bring the judgment that their sin demanded.

Today in the dispensation of Grace, of course, God is not dealing with Israel or any other nation, but rather with individual members of the Body of Christ. In the epistles of Paul we read of how in Christ we too have been formed in accord with the perfect standard of the Law (II Cor. 5:21), and that the righteousness of the Law is given to us as a free gift of God’s grace through faith (Rom. 3:21-26; 10:4; I Cor. 1:30). Thus when believers today wish to apply a standard to our lives to check to see if we have drifted from who God made us in Christ, we look not to the Law, but to the epistles of the Apostle Paul.

We close with a very practical admonition. Every builder knows that when a wall falls, it always falls in the direction in which it is leaning. If the reader has ever wondered about the harm in an occasional drink of an alcoholic beverage, or the danger of seemingly “harmless” flirtations with immorality, it should be remembered that Christians are like walls—they too always fall in the direction in which they are leaning! Let us thank God for the plumbline of His grace, and may we determine as never before to walk worthy of Him.

To the Reader:

Some of our Two Minutes articles were written many years ago by Pastor C. R. Stam for publication in newspapers. When many of these articles were later compiled in book form, Pastor Stam wrote this word of explanation in the Preface:

"It should be borne in mind that the newspaper column, Two Minutes With the Bible, has now been published for many years, so that local, national and international events are discussed as if they occurred only recently. Rather than rewrite or date such articles, we have left them just as they were when first published. This, we felt, would add to the interest, especially since our readers understand that they first appeared as newspaper articles."

To this we would add that the same is true for the articles written by others that we continue to add, on a regular basis, to the Two Minutes library. We hope that you'll agree that while some of the references in these articles are dated, the spiritual truths taught therein are timeless.

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Berean Searchlight – September 2006

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Two Prayers For Boldness

The comparison of two prayers for boldness, as recorded in Acts 4:29-30 and Ephesians 6:18-20, presents an interesting and profitable study. The former was uttered by the company of believers in Jerusalem, with the twelve apostles, at the time when Israel was still God’s commonwealth (Eph. 2:12; Rom. 3:1-2; 9:4-5). They were citizens of God’s Nation. The latter was uttered by Paul, the apostle of the Gentiles, some thirty years later, after salvation had come unto the Gentiles through the fall of Israel (Rom. 11:11). Paul’s prayer is the prayer of an ambassador in a foreign land.

Let us note the prayer in Acts 4:29-30, reading with it verse 31: “And now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word, by stretching forth thine hand to heal; and that signs and wonders may be done in the name of thy holy child (or servant) Jesus. And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the Word of God with boldness.” Certainly their prayer was quickly answered.

Peter and John had already demonstrated boldness as recorded in Acts 4:13: “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus”—that is, with Jesus in resurrection. This fourth chapter of Acts records the beginning of persecution against the believers in Jerusalem by Israel’s rulers, and tells of the first experience of Peter and John in jail for preaching Jesus as the resurrected Messiah of Israel.

All Christians today certainly need boldness to speak the Word of God. We need to be much in prayer for such boldness. But have we the Scriptural right to pray the same prayer recorded in Acts 4? Some Christians will say “No,” but when asked “Why not?” they remain mute. Others seek to duplicate those signs and the result is a system of pseudo-signs and fanaticism.

The other prayer, or request for prayer, for our comparison is found in Ephesians 6:18-20: “Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints; and for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.”

Isn’t it strange that Paul, also an apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ and a prisoner in Rome, did not pray as did Peter, John and the others that the Lord should give him boldness by stretching forth His hand to heal and that signs and wonders might be done in the Name of the Lord Jesus? In fact, he did not ask for prayer for miraculous deliverance from his bonds, but declared emphatically that he was an ambassador in bonds.

Paul, in one of his earliest epistles, had spoken of boldness. In I Thessalonians 2:2 we read, “But even after that we had suffered before, and were shamefully entreated, as ye know, at Philippi, we were bold in our God to speak unto you (Gentiles) the gospel of God with much contention.”

There had been a time when Paul’s ministry, too, had been accompanied with signs. Read Acts 14:3, “Long time therefore abode they speaking boldly in the Lord, which gave testimony unto the Word of His grace, and granted signs and wonders to be done by their hands.” These signs were not a part of that ministry, but only accompanied it to prove his apostleship and to provoke Israel to jealousy (II Cor. 12:12; Rom. 11:11; I Cor. 14:18-22). But in just the previous chapter Paul had waxed bold to declare something which was most unusual. “Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, it was necessary that the Word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles” (Acts 13:46). In the next chapter he declared that the Lord had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles (Acts 14:27).

Paul also used the word “boldly” in a very important sense in Romans 15:15-16, “Nevertheless, brethren, I have written the more boldly (see verse 4) unto you in some sort, as putting you in mind, because of the grace that is given to me of God, that I should be the minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, ministering the gospel of God, that the offering up of the Gentiles might be acceptable, being sanctified by the Holy Ghost.” He was bold to go to the Gentiles through the “fall” or “stumbling” of Israel, and to write that which was not according to the prophetic Word. He was bold because he had received his commission through the revelation of Jesus Christ (Gal. 1:1,11-12; 2:2,7-9; Eph. 3:1-9; Col. 1:24-29).

Between the prayer of the disciples in Acts 4 and the request for prayer by Paul in Ephesians 6 there had elapsed a period of time of about thirty years. These were very important years, as the foregoing Scriptures have revealed.

The Lord had permitted Israel to “diminish” and to “fall” (Rom. 11:11-15). He had concluded them all in unbelief that He might have mercy upon all, so that there might be reconciliation for all the world by the blood of the Cross in the Body of Christ which is the true Church.

While the Lord was still in relationship to Israel as a nation He gave the disciples signs which they had a right to expect (Acts 2:19). They were not then called ambassadors in the sense in which Paul is called one, but were in the midst of their own nation, which was still God’s Nation. He had answered the prayer of His Son on the Cross, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

Webster’s dictionary defines an ambassador as “an accredited representative of a sovereign or state at the court of another.” With the setting aside of Israel and its alienation from God with all the rest of the world, Paul became a true ambassador for Jesus Christ. Every believer today as a member of the Church, which is the Body of Christ, is also an ambassador (II Cor. 5:14-21).

We certainly need boldness as a representative of Him in the court of another. Satan is the god of this world (II Cor. 4:4). But being blessed with “all spiritual blessings in the heavenly places in Christ” surely transcends “all signs and wonders” to give us boldness to speak the mystery of Christ. Surely Paul’s petition for boldness should be ours. And we can expect the same treatment Paul received in a hostile world. But how much greater was the two-fold boldness of Paul to that of the twelve! His boldness was two-fold in that first he was bold in the face of even prison and death, and second that he was bold to preach that which was not prophesied in the Old Testament Scriptures, but was revealed by the risen, but rejected Christ to him. Let us all pray for his boldness “to make all men see what is the [dispensation] of the Mystery, which from the beginning of the [ages] hath been hid in God.”