Biographical Sketch of Dr. Stuart E. Lease / Bible Messages by Dr. Stuart E. Lease
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Message #11: Sensible Summary for All Saints
We have been considering the objects of sanctification, that is, those who are sanctified or in the process of being sanctified. We noticed various categories of saints, beginning in 2:11, The Saints as Sojourning Strangers who are passing through this world. Then in verses 13-17, The Saints as Sensible Citizens while were here on this earth. Then The Saints as Submissive Servants, verses 18-20. Then the study we had together, The Saints as Sanctified Spouses 3:1-7.
Now we come to a summary portion, verses 8-12. I call it a Sensible Summary for All Saints. Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous: Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing, but contrariwise, blessing, knowing that ye are called to this, that ye should inherit a blessing. For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile. Let him eschew evil (turn from), and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it (pursue it). For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers; but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil. Peter comes up with a finale quite a ways before he is finished. He is not finished but he says finally. Actually, it is finally in regard to this matter of sanctification and those who are being sanctified and he refers to ye all. Now some have said that they know Paul is a southerner, because he uses you all so often; but they also knew that he wasnt from Texas, because Paul said that he had learned in whatever state he was therewith to be content and no Texan is content anywhere except in Texas. Now if you dont believe that, go to Texas. This is to you all, so to this extent Peter might be a southern saint. There was only one southern saint among the disciples. All except one of the disciples were from the northern part of Israel. You know the one that was from the south, from Judea? Judas Iscariot. Well, thats not to say anything against our southern saints. A word to all saints. Maybe you are not a spouse, so that verses 1-7 dont quite apply to you; but this applies to all of us.
I see here set forth seven things, seven bees as it were to put in your bonnet or in your beehive, whatever you want to call it. They are imperatives for every believer. First, I believe it indicates, be harmonious. Notice the admonition, Be ye all of one mind. That doesnt means that we are all going to agree on every detail on every thing, but it does mean that we can and should be harmonious and able to work together. I was reading a book on or some notes on management by Olan Hendricks, and he indicates in there that about something like 85% of men who have served on church boards have found it a disappointing experience. Now I dont believe that that has to be necessary. I am happy to say that the fifteen years that I have served as President of our School and worked with our Board, we have never in fifteen years had a major disagreement or division. Now it doesnt mean that we havent had some things that we occasionally disagree about until we get them straightened out. We have never had any dissension in our Board, and I dont believe that its necessary. I believe that if we recognize and acknowledge the Lordship of Jesus Christ in our lives as individuals and in our corporate lives as Christian organizations, whether it be a college as ours or a church such as yours or a Sunday School or what have you, I dont believe that its necessary to have dissensions; but unfortunately, there has been this sort of thing in the church almost from its inception. I have heard some people say, I wish that we could get back to the first century church when we didnt have any divisions and all the rest of that. It so happens that the first book of the New Testament, written in sequence of time, was the epistle of James, written along about 45 in the year of our Lord. When you come to James 4, what does he say? From whence come wars and fightings among you among believers, come they not hence even of your lusts that war in your members. You say, Can believers do that? Yes, unfortunately, they can. In fact, its tragically true that there is hardly any sin that you can name that believers cant and some believers at some point do perform. Among them is the sin of division. In writing of the Corinthians, Paul says to them in I Corinthians 1:11, It hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions (or divisions) among you. Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; or I, of Apollos; or I, of Cephas; or I, of Christ. Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were ye baptized in the name of Paul? Then he indicates that actually we should stand together in the Lord and behind the cross, the preaching of the cross and the proclamation of what God has done for us in Christ. In Ephesians 4 in writing about this matter of unity there is considerable emphasis on necessity for unity. Ephesians 4:1, I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, With all lowliness and meekness, with long-suffering, forbearing one another in love, Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is an endeavor. You do have to work at this. It doesnt just come of itself. You have to put forth some effort, and you have to put yourself out as it were to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. I dont know whether Dr. Boice has yet gotten to or will to Philippians 4; but in the beginning of that chapter, Therefore, my brethren dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved. Notice the emphasis upon the Lord. Then he said, I beseech Euodia, and beseech Syntyche, that they be of the same mind in the Lord. In other words, that they be harmonious in the Lord. I do want to say that it is not only women that have disagreements in the church. Men do too, and you read about it elsewhere in other Scriptures; but wherever there is division and disunity, it is the evidence of carnality that the flesh is dominating rather than the Spirit; because where the Spirit of God is, there is liberty and there is unity. There is freedom but there is also a working together. When I became President of our School, there used to be a rule that you had to have a unanimous vote on every decision. I said that I am not convinced that thats necessary, because what it tended to do was to stifle any expression of difference. I said that I think we ought to have a very clear majority and a clear evidence of the mind of the Lord as communicated through the men of the Board, but I said that I dont think that we ought to just abandon everything just because one fellow votes against it. One of the beautiful things that happened quite a few years ago when we went ahead with our first major building on campus, one of our men opposed the particular builder that we were choosing; and when it came to a vote, he voted against it. I tell you what I liked about that man. After the vote was taken and we decided to choose the builder, he was the first man to make a major contribution to that building. What did that indicate? He had not divided from us. He was standing together with us in the Lord and it wasnt a forced type of thing. It was something that he entered into, because he believed that we were trying to work together in the Lord. Even though he might have had a bit of difference with us, nevertheless, he was going to stand together with us in the Lord. I like to see that sort of thing, not just an enforced type of unity. They say that you can tie two cats tails together and throw them over a washline and you have union, but you dont have unity. Some people think that they have unity when they have union, but they really dont have it. Be harmonious. Work together in the work of the Lord. I have always placed great stock in the necessity for one another in the work of the Lord. Those of you who heard my messages this week and the one on Monday, heard me speak that my major life verse is Psalm 34:3, O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His Name together. Its exalting the Lord together. I often tell people that it is a little bit like having charcoal. When youve got those coals nice and glowing, you can put out the fire if you separate them; but if you bring them together, you will increase the glow. I am convinced thats what you do in the work of the Lord as you are harmoniously working together you magnify the Lord together and exalt Him. So be harmonious.
Secondly, be sympathetic. Notice the second imperative expressed here. Having compassion one of another. James says that we should weep with those that weep. If you ever get to the place that things dont bother you, I think that there is something wrong with your experience in Christ. In America we have sort of been taught from childhood that men dont cry or anything like that. You just grin and bear it and follow through. I came to receive Christ as my Savior when I was nine years old. I was not in a church where we were clearly taught the Word of God, and I drifted away from the Lord; and from the age of 12 until I was about 18, I was pretty much out of fellowship with the Lord. There are two things that I didnt do when I was out of fellowship with the Lord. One, I didnt kiss my mother. The other, I didnt cry. I tell you There are two things I did immediately when I came back to the Lord at the age of 18: I cried and I kissed my mother and restored our relationship. The one sort of goes back to the other of being harmonious together. The other is to weep with those who weep, and I have had to do some crying especially this past year when we learned about our daughters illness and then some of my own problems later on. Sometimes you shed tears in the night. I must confess that I shed some tears today about this dear young lady whos hospitalized now. Yes, like Dr. Stoll used to say, You cant be optimistic when you have a misty optic. Sometimes you never see more clearly than through your tears. Many times the Lord Jesus is magnified to you when there are tears in your eyes. So, be compassionate of others. The Narramore Foundation says, Every person is worth understanding, and I think that there is something to be said for that. In fact, I think that the more you understand other people and what some of the real problems are and have been, you will be much more sympathetic. One thing that I learned from the second operation that I had, when they put the tube down my throat to do the operation on my vocal chord and I was not able to breathe. I entered into a level of consciousness that I had never been in before. There are some things that people feel and experience that there are no words in the world to express them. There are traumas that people have and this is what happened to this young lady that is in the hospital now that no words can express. You cant write a book on it either, but I tell you, your heart has to go out to people like that. Sometimes you just have to reach out and touch them. I know that you can do that in the wrong way, in fact, I used to tell our fellows never to touch a girl or never to touch anybody like this; but I have sort of changed my views on that a little. I think that there are times when you can express a lot by just laying your hand on someones shoulder, and you cant even say a word. Its like a little girl who went to visit a friend of hers and her friends pet had died; and they said to the little girl, What did you do? She said, We cried together. Friends, I think that there is a place for that. I think that this is an evidence of sanctification which sometimes we have forgotten about. We think that sanctification is just becoming very pious and maybe going out and handing out tracts. But sanctification includes being compassionate of other Christians who have difficulties that sometimes you dont know anything about. Go and place your hand on their shoulder and tell them that you are praying for them, and then pray for them or pray with them at that very time. There is so much that could be said about this but its very clear right here, Having compassion one of another. Love as brethren.
The third comparative that I would set before you is be loving. Jesus said in John 13:34, A new commandment give I unto you, that you love one another. Then He went on to say, By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love one to another. Love, that continual desire for oneness, that inner stirring that makes your heart go out to someone else for their welfare and not for their detriment, but for their encouragement and their good. Romans 12 is a very practical portion of the Word and it says in verse 9, Let love be without dissimulation. That word dissimulation has within it the idea without fakery, without putting on a show but let your love be real and genuine toward other believers. We are a part of the family of God, and one of the things that ought to be evident within the family is love of the brethren. Now I know that even sometimes in the family well have differences, but that doesnt mean that we cant love one another. Someone has said that in essentials we should have unity, in non essentials liberty, in all things charity or love. Love will overcome a multitude of evil, and difficulty and love will often cover. There was a lot of emphasis in recent years by the younger generation on letting it all hang out. Friends, I believe that there are some things that shouldnt be hung out especially not in public. I think that there are some things you ought to know about others that you really shouldnt share with everybody, but you ought to love them and you ought to encourage them in the Lord. I found through the years as I study the Word of God that love is an encumbent thing upon us, and it doesnt derive just from us but it derives from our Lord. Its the love of Christ that constrains us that literally bears us along as II Corinthians 5:14 indicates. That word constrains means to put into a place where the pressure increases and it just impels you. 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. Unto Him Who loved us and gave Himself for us. It is the motivation of the love of Christ within us that then flows out to others and becomes an impelling force in their lives too. Love is a great transforming power. It changes people and thereby it changes things. Be loving as brethren as this passage so clearly exhorts and indicates. This word be pitiful literally means be tender-hearted. Now I didnt say chicken- hearted. Chicken-hearted means that you sort of capitulate under everything but tender-hearted. It means that your heart goes out to people. I said to our Dean of Women today, I hope that you never get to the place where things dont bother you. I hope that you always will have a heart for these things, even though it breaks from time to time. Stand before the Lord and find His comfort and encouragement in the Lord. In Ephesians 4, going back to that passage again, and actually, Romans 12 and Ephesians 4 are sort of parallel passages to this particular portion in I Peter 3. In Ephesians 4 there is a verse that many of you learned as children and which sometimes I think that we hasten to forget. In verse 32 it indicates this: Be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God, for Christs sake, hath forgiven you. Remember that verse? Yet, I am afraid that for some of us as fundamentalists it may be one of the first verses we learned but one of the first ones that we forget. Be kind and tender-hearted. I was talking to a lady a number of years ago in our Evening School, and she came to me with a strange question. Its amazing, you get all sorts of questions that were never put in textbooks or anything. She said, How come is it that my husband who doesnt really read the Bible as much as I do, lives a better Christian life than I do? Now thats a weird question, isnt it? I said, Well, its not how much you read but how much you believe and apply. She said, Well, I guess thats true. You know, he has as his sort of motto for life, Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Right away I thought that hes a modernist, but you know the Lord rebuked me. It wasnt a modernist that said that you should do unto others as you would have them do unto you in essence. It was the Lord Jesus. Lets not just let the modernists use what Jesus said. I know some who are ultra dispensationalists say that it is just for the millennial age. Im not going to debate that. I could, but I wont. I think that if you are going to be gracious in the millennium, you ought to be gracious right now. If you are going to do unto others as you would have them do unto you in the millennium or whenever in the future, now is a good time to get started too. The Lord sort of rebuked me for that, because you dont have to be a liberal or a modernist to be kind to people. Unfortunately, some of my fellow fighting fundamentalists as soon as you are kind to anybody, the word compromise comes up. I think that you can be kind without compromising. You can let people know kindly where you stand, but you dont have to be obnoxious about it. We are to contend earnestly for the faith once for all delivered to the saints, but we are not told to be contentious. We are to be tender-hearted. I really believe that we have lost some people for our cause simply because we have not been tender-hearted. I know a man that meant much to me in my earlier Christian experience who once stood in Bible Conferences like this and in fundamental churches and preached the Word of God that has repudiated all that because fundamentalists were unkind to him and liberals were very kind to him. What I say tonight is not just theory. It works out in actual practice. Be tender-hearted. Be concerned about other people. It almost amazes me when you think of the fact that it was Peter who wrote this. Bold, brash Peter who was always blundering into this and blundering into that, but he learned some lessons through the years; and the Spirit of God had done a work of grace in his heart and life and so he urges, Be of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be tender-hearted, be courteous. Now thats the King James translation, and I think that we could expound on that the sense of the Greek there is humble minded. To be courteous doesnt just mean that you know the rules of etiquette and apply them. There are times you ought to know which spoon and fork and so forth to use that will help, especially if you are at an embassy dinner or something like that. They tell the story, I believe, of a queen who had friends at her table and one of them not knowing all the rules of etiquette picked up the finger bowl and drank it. People begin to do just as you did, they sort of tittered and laughed. You know what the queen did? She picked up her finger bowl and drank it. Thats being courteous. Humble minded. Stepping down to where the other person is so that you dont put them in a bad light and so that you do make them feel at home in the family of God. In Romans 12:3, For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith. Now this doesnt mean that you shouldnt think at all highly of yourself and frankly, I am a little bit disturbed by some emphasis in our circles upon self-denial to such an extent that it is almost personality destruction. I dont believe that the Word of God teaches that. I think that you and I as believers have real value to God, and we should not sell ourselves short and say that I am nothing when He says that I am something. Because of what He has made us to be, we are something. Thank God by His grace. If you exalt yourself, well its like in I Corinthians 8:2, And if any man think that he knoweth any thing, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know. As the first verse says, Knowledge puffeth up, but charity buildeth up. Love builds up. Instead of just puffing up with knowledge, build up with love. Be humble minded. Be courteous toward other people. Put yourself out for others, and in so doing that you will be glorifying the Lord and demonstrating the working of sanctification in your life.
The sixth imperative that I find here in I Peter 3 is in verse 9, Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing; (or reviling for reviling) but contrariwise, blessing. I think that there are two things in this. One, I think that we are to be forgiving. We are to forgive others as God for Christs sake has forgiven us. Back to Romans 12 again and verse 17, Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.
Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves but, rather, give place unto wrath; for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Then in Ephesians 4 passage, a similar emphasis, going on from verse 32, And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christs sake hath forgiven you. I believe that forgiveness is a necessary ingredient in the life of holiness. In that God forgives us, may I first say that we have to forgive ourselves. One of the problems, I am sure of this young lady that I referred to, is that she is finding real difficulty in forgiving herself; and some believers have that problem. Accept Gods forgiveness and since He has forgiven you, accept it and forgive yourself. Then forgive others their trespasses against you. Then beyond that and I think there is a positive thing, so many times we forgive and then just sort of stand over people and say now what are you going to do wrong. I think that beyond this is the sense of contrariwise, blessing.
I believe there is the final admonition. Not only be forgiving, but be encouraging. Give blessing and encouragement to other people, especially when they are down. Encourage them even when they are doing well, but encourage them when they are down. I found through the years that there is invariably something good that you can say about everybody, without flattery. I think that there is something good you can say to someone. Youll never know what the little word of encouragement like that, a word of blessing, can do. Contrariwise, blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing. I really believe that one of the major responsibilities that I have at Lancaster Bible College is to try to encourage people. It is amazing that saints do become discouraged during this earthly sojourn. If you can just say a word of encouragement to someone, you may be doing for them more than youll ever realize, and only eternity will reveal the result of that. May I also say that as you encourage others, the Lord will encourage you. In the family of God, the children in the family have various abilities and responsibility. There are some things that I cant do well, in fact, many things including working with my hands and other things like that; so I like to encourage those who can and do. I help all kinds of encouragement upon them, and I mean it; because they do it so much better than I. If you will give yourself to a life of encouraging others, that encouragement will come back to you many times over.
We didnt get into the next section, but I am going to save that for tomorrow morning. The passage taken is from Psalm 34, one of my favorite passages in the Word of God. There are seven requirements I think and then they are reinforced from this Biblical portion of Scripture from the Old Testament that if we are going to live an effective life, Restrain your tongue from evil, and your lips from speaking guile. I hope that you never get to the place like I had to where you have seven weeks of absolute silence. Thats when you really refrain your tongue. I think that we ought to be careful how we utilize the tongue. After my final two-week session, everyone wondered what I was going to say when I started speaking again. Ill tell you what I said. I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul shall make her boast in the Lord; the humble shall hear of it, and be glad. O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His Name together. Thats the Word of God. Psalm 34:1-3.
As it was delivered at
SANDY COVE BIBLE CONFERENCE
Dr. Stuart E. Lease
July 9, 1976