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9th April 2007

(Listen to "Hosea 2")

Hi Guys,

Hope the holidays have been good.

For the next few emails, I'll be quoting from H.A. Baker (1881-1971), a missionary to China & Tibet who experienced glorious things among the people he dwelt with. This is an excerpt from his book "The Three Worlds".

Stay blessed,

Tony



THE WAY TO THE ETERNAL CITY

By H.A. Baker (1881-1971)

[Part 1 of 3 Excerpt from "The Three Worlds": by unselfishness]

There is a "way" to the New World and its city eternal where peace and joy will abide forever. There is a Guide Book to that way and for use along the way. This Book, written under the direction of the Owner of the New World, its glorious city, and the highway that leads thereto, tells us that the abiding city is a city of love; that the "way" to that city is the way of unselfishness.


God himself traveled this way when, in the person of Jesus, he came from heaven to earth, walked among men and returned again by this way to heaven.


Jesus came not to do his own will but the will of Him who sent him. Living the perfectly unselfish life among men on earth, Jesus said: "I am the way, the truth, and the life." Dying the unselfish death he said: "No man cometh unto the Father but by me."


He taught that the unselfish way he walked on earth and went to heaven is the way that all must walk with him here below, who would dwell with him there above. He said: "Whosoever he be of you that renounceth not all that he hath (unselfishly), he cannot be my disciple" (Lu. 14:33). "If any man cometh unto me and hateth not his own life (be unselfish), he cannot be my disciple." The rich young ruler, an ideally moral character who came to Jesus, was rejected and missed the eternal city because he selfishly loved the pleasures of his wealth more than he loved his God and his fellowmen. He was unwilling to "renounce all" that he had.


Pure "unselfishness" is pure "love." Unselfishness is to do right because it is right in utter disregard of natural self-interest. Unselfishness is to obey truth regardless of the joy or sorrow, reward or punishment, fame or disgrace it may bring to self in this life or in the life to come. Unselfishness is to live for God and man, or to die for God and man because this is our duty, because this is right, because this is the truth, and because this alone is the unselfish "way". Unselfishness first of all seeks the good of others and the Kingdom of God. It is the spirit of Paul when he said: "I could wish that I myself were anathema (excommunicated) from Christ for my brethren's sake." (Rom: 9.3.)


The perfect example of unselfishness is Christ. The standard of right is Christ. The knowledge of Christ, of unselfishness, of right, is brought to us through the Bible and the Holy Spirit. This Guide Book, written by the Spirit's guidance, defines "unselfishness." The definition reads: "Unselfishness (love) suffereth long and is kind, unselfishness envieth not, unselfishness vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, seeketh not its own, is not provoked, taketh not account of evil, rejoiceth not in evil (selfishness), but rejoiceth with the truth (right)— unselfishness never faileth." It is everlasting; for it is "the truth", and "the truth" is eternal.


The unselfish "way," the King's highway to the eternal city of the Great King, earth's travellers have all missed. "All we like sheep have gone astray." We have "all gone astray" because through selfish choices of the will "we turned every one to his own way." Having become selfish, we have evermore been walking in selfish byways, not seeking first of all the will of God and the Kingdom of God, and not seeking the highest good of our fellow travellers. Each has wandered farther and farther into the numberless and endless selfish byways.


Selfishness has many forms: there are the gross forms of eating and drinking; reveling in pleasures and lusts; coveting or seeking the material things of this earth. The selfish sins that center in "I" are legion—pride in all its forms, the taking offence at the words and opinions of others, loss of temper, unkindness, quarreling, envy, unforgiveness, hatred, falsehood in matters large or small, dishonesty in money or motives. All actions which end in self, disregarding the highest claims of God and man are selfish.


Whether the selfish loves be money, education, family, friends, liquor, sex, or all the baser lusts, all are equally selfish and without any moral value. In each instance the attitude or indulgence is chosen as a selfish end to gratify selfish desire or to relieve personal feeling.


Since different forms of selfishness are mutually contradictory, not all forms of selfishness can be indulged in at the same time. A desire for a reputation as a predominating form of selfishness will forbid indulgence in many kinds of vice.


Selfishness may take many pious and attractive forms. The selfish man may inherit a compassionate disposition, so that the sight of misery will excite his sympathy until he gives his goods to feed the poor, and yet he will only have selfishly yielded to his natural desire to gratify his feelings. In such an action there is no more merit than if,being incited to anger, he yields to his feelings and slays his brother. "If I bestow all my goods to feed the poor—but have not love (self disinterest) I am nothing" (I Cor. 13 :3).


A selfish love for family may induce a man to provide for their every need and indulge their every desire, while the poor, as good and as worthy, starves unnoticed at his door. A selfish man may be so inherently religious that he naturally enjoys the contemplation of God. His feelings may be moved by religious exercises in sermon, song, and prayer while his heart and will remain holly selfish. His selfish desire for heaven and his personal fear of hell may cause him to refrain from common vice and cause him to attend to religious duties while his heart still remains the heart of a pagan.


"Joining church," singing in the choir, praying in the pew, preaching in the pulpit, "giving to missions," being a "missionary", as were the Wesleys, helping in social reforms, or feeding the poor may all be only nicely dressed forms of the worst kind of utter selfishness. "If I give my body to be burned, but have not love (truly unselfish motives, the end of which is in no way selfish gain in this or the next life) it profiteth me nothing" (I Cor. 13 :3) more than it profits an Indian pagan to say his prayers, burn his incense, abstain from meats, forsake his friends, and torture his body that he may gain personal, selfish merit in the life to come. You may put a Christian name over a selfish man but the heart is still selfish. Put Christian garments on a pagan and the pagan stays pagan still.


Part 2: Eternal City - by works?     Part 3: Facts