That I may know him - To be the true and promised Messiah, and experience all that salvation which he has bought by his blood.
The power of his resurrection - In having this body of my humiliation raised from death, and made like unto his glorious body. This seems to be the sole meaning of the apostle; for it is in virtue of Christ's resurrection that we are to be raised incorruptible and immortal.
And the fellowship of his sufferings - Christ died, not only as a victim for sin, but as a martyr to the truth. No creature can have fellowship with him in his vicarious sufferings; as a martyr to the truth, St. Paul wished to imitate him. Not only in the apostle, but in the primitive Christians generally, there seems to have been a strong desire after martyrdom.
That I may know him - That I may be fully acquainted with his nature, his character, his work, and with the salvation which he has worked out. It is one of the highest objects of desire in the mind of the Christian to know Christ; see the notes at Ephesians 3:19.
And the power of his resurrection - That is, that I may understand and experience the proper influence which the fact of his resurrection should have on the mind. That influence would he felt in imparting the hope of immortality; in sustaining the soul in the prospect of death, by the expectation of being raised from the grave in like manner; and in raising the mind above the world; Romans 6:11. There is no one truth that will have greater power over us, when properly believed, than the truth that Christ has risen from the dead. His resurrection confirms the truth of the Christian religion (notes, 1 Peter 4:13. So Paul says Colossians 1:24 that he rejoiced in his sufferings in behalf of his brethren, and desired “to fill up that which was behind, of the afflictions of Christ,” or that in which he had hitherto come short of the afflictions which Christ endured. The idea is, that it is an honor to suffer as Christ suffered; and that the true Christian will esteem it a privilege to be made just like him, not only in glory, but in trial. To do this, is one evidence of piety; and we may ask ourselves, therefore, whether these are the feelings of our hearts. Are we seeking merely the honors of heaven, or should we esteem it a privilege to be reproached and reviled as Christ was - to have our names cast out as his was - to be made the object of sport and derision as he was - and to be held up to the contempt of a world as he was? If so, it is an evidence that we love him; if not so, and we are merely seeking the crown of glory, we should doubt whether we have ever known anything of the nature of true religion.
Being made conformable to his death - In all things, being just like Christ - to live as he did, and to die as he did. There can be no doubt that Paul means to say that he esteemed it so desirable to be just like Christ, that he would regard it as an honor to die in the same manner. He would rejoice to go with him to the cross, and to pass through the circumstances of scorn and pain which attended such a death. Yet how few there are who would be willing to die as Christ died, and how little would the mass of people regard it as a privilege and honor! Indeed, it requires an elevated state of pious feeling to be able to say that it would be regarded as a privilege and honor to die like Christ to have such a sense of the loveliness of his character in all things, and such ardent attachment to him, as to rejoice in the opportunity of dying as he did! When we think of dying, we wish to have our departure made as comfortable as possible. We would have our sun go down without a cloud. We would wish to lie on a bed of down; we would have our head sustained by the kind arm of a friend, and not left to fall, in the intensity of suffering, on the breast; we would wish to have the place where we die surrounded by sympathizing kindred, and not by those who would mock our dying agonies. And, if such is the will of God, it is not improper to desire that our end may be peaceful and happy; but we should also feel, if God should order it otherwise, that it would be an honor, in the cause of the Redeemer, to die amidst reproaches - to be led to the stake, as the martyrs have been - or to die, as our Master did, on a cross. They who are most like him in the scenes of humiliation here, will be most like him in the realms of glory.
I have a most earnest desire that you shall enter the city of God, not as a culprit barely pardoned, but as a conqueror. My brother, will you think of this? If you are true and humble and faithful in this life, you will be given an abundant entrance. Then the tree of life will be yours, for you will be a victor over sin; the city whose builder and maker is God will be your city. Let your imagination take hold upon things unseen. Let your thoughts be carried away to the evidences of the great love of God for you. In contemplating the object of which you are in pursuit, you will lose the sense of pain brought by the light afflictions that are but for a moment. 8T 125.1
Copenhagen,Read in context »
Brother B can present arguments upon doctrinal points, but the practical lessons of sanctification, self-denial, and the cross, he has not experienced in himself. He can speak to the ear, but not having felt the sanctifying influence of these truths upon his heart, nor practiced them in his life, he fails to urge the truth home upon the conscience with a deep sense of its importance and solemnity in view of the judgment, when every case must be decided. Brother B has not trained his mind, and his deportment out of meeting has not been exemplary. The burden of the work has not seemed to rest upon him, but he has been trifling and boyish, and by his example has lowered the standard of religion. Sacred and common things have been placed on a level. 3T 27.1
Brother B has not been willing to endure the cross; he has not been willing to follow Christ from the manger to the judgment hall and Calvary. He has brought upon himself sore affliction by seeking his own pleasure. He has yet to learn that his own strength is weakness and his wisdom is folly. If he had felt that he was engaged in the work of God, and that he was indebted to One who had given him time and talents, and who required that they be improved to His glory,—had he stood faithfully at his post,—he would not have suffered that long, tedious sickness. His exposure upon that pleasure trip caused him months of suffering and would have caused his death had it not been for the earnest, effectual prayer of faith put up in his behalf by those who felt that he was not prepared to die. Had he died at that time his case would have been far worse than that of the unenlightened sinner. But God mercifully heard the prayers of His people and gave him a new lease of life, that he might have opportunity to repent of his unfaithfulness and to redeem the time. His example had influenced many in Battle Creek in the wrong direction. 3T 27.2
Brother B came up from his sickness, but how little did he or his family feel humbled under the hand of God. The work of the Spirit of God, and wisdom from Him, are not manifested that we may be happy and satisfied with ourselves, but that our souls may be renewed in knowledge and true holiness. How much better would it have been for this brother if his affliction had prompted to faithful searching of heart, to discover the imperfections in his character, that he might put them away, and with humble spirit come forth from the furnace as gold purified, reflecting the image of Christ. 3T 28.1Read in context »
Notwithstanding the rage of persecution, a calm, devout, earnest, patient protest against the prevailing corruption of religious faith continued for centuries to be uttered. The Christians of that early time had only a partial knowledge of the truth, but they had learned to love and obey God's word, and they patiently suffered for its sake. Like the disciples in apostolic days, many sacrificed their worldly possessions for the cause of Christ. Those who were permitted to dwell in their homes gladly sheltered their banished brethren, and when they too were driven forth they cheerfully accepted the lot of the outcast. Thousands, it is true, terrified by the fury of their persecutors, purchased their freedom at the sacrifice of their faith, and went out of their prisons, clothed in penitents’ robes, to publish their recantation. But the number was not small—and among them were men of noble birth as well as the humble and lowly—who bore fearless testimony to the truth in dungeon cells, in “Lollard towers,” and in the midst of torture and flame, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to know “the fellowship of His sufferings.” GC 95.1
The papists had failed to work their will with Wycliffe during his life, and their hatred could not be satisfied while his body rested quietly in the grave. By the decree of the Council of Constance, more than forty years after his death his bones were exhumed and publicly burned, and the ashes were thrown into a neighboring brook. “This brook,” says an old writer, “hath conveyed his ashes into Avon, Avon into Severn, Severn into the narrow seas, they into the main ocean. And thus the ashes of Wycliffe are the emblem of his doctrine, which now is dispersed all the world over.”—T. Fuller, Church History of Britain, b. 4, sec. 2, par. 54. Little did his enemies realize the significance of their malicious act. GC 95.2
It was through the writings of Wycliffe that John Huss, of Bohemia, was led to renounce many of the errors of Romanism and to enter upon the work of reform. Thus in these two countries, so widely separated, the seed of truth was sown. From Bohemia the work extended to other lands. The minds of men were directed to the long-forgotten word of God. A divine hand was preparing the way for the Great Reformation. GC 96.1Read in context »
Israel had chosen their own ways. They had not builded according to the pattern; but Christ, the true temple for God's indwelling, molded every detail of His earthly life in harmony with God's ideal. He said, “I delight to do Thy will, O My God: yea, Thy law is within My heart.” Psalm 40:8. So our characters are to be builded “for an habitation of God through the Spirit.” Ephesians 2:22. And we are to “make all things according to the pattern,” even Him who “suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow His steps.” Hebrews 8:5; 1 Peter 2:21. DA 209.1
The words of Christ teach that we should regard ourselves as inseparably bound to our Father in heaven. Whatever our position, we are dependent upon God, who holds all destinies in His hands. He has appointed us our work, and has endowed us with faculties and means for that work. So long as we surrender the will to God, and trust in His strength and wisdom, we shall be guided in safe paths, to fulfill our appointed part in His great plan. But the one who depends upon his own wisdom and power is separating himself from God. Instead of working in unison with Christ, he is fulfilling the purpose of the enemy of God and man. DA 209.2
The Saviour continued: “What things soever He [the Father] doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.... As the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them; even so the Son quickeneth whom He will.” The Sadducees held that there would be no resurrection of the body; but Jesus tells them that one of the greatest works of His Father is raising the dead, and that He Himself has power to do the same work. “The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live.” The Pharisees believed in the resurrection of the dead. Christ declares that even now the power which gives life to the dead is among them, and they are to behold its manifestation. This same resurrection power is that which gives life to the soul “dead in trespasses and sins.” Ephesians 2:1. That spirit of life in Christ Jesus, “the power of His resurrection,” sets men “free from the law of sin and death.” Philippians 3:10; Romans 8:2. The dominion of evil is broken, and through faith the soul is kept from sin. He who opens his heart to the Spirit of Christ becomes a partaker of that mighty power which shall bring forth his body from the grave. DA 209.3Read in context »