Thursday, June 07, 2007


"And when he had landed at Caesarea, and gone up, and saluted the church, he went down to Antioch" (Acts 18:22). "And when we had finished our course from Tyre, we came to Ptolemais, and saluted the brethren, and abode with them one day" (Acts 21:7). "And when he had saluted them, he declared particularly what things God had wrought among the Gentiles by his ministry" (Acts 21:19).
How thrilling to read the journeys of the apostle Paul and "Paul's company" (at least seven others, Acts 20:4). There were trials untold, but there was also much joy: "And when we were come to Jerusalem, the brethren received us gladly" (Acts 21:17). Travel in that day was by no means easy, but they were led about by God Himself, and thus "they glorified the Lord" (Acts 21:20), "and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified" (Acts 19:17). The churches "were edified, and walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost, were multiplied" (Acts 9:31). Notice this great upward crescendo here: (1) glorified, (2) magnified, (3) edified, (4) multiplied, (5) received, and (6) saluted. How precious is the unity, love, and fellowship of the "brethren" (Psalm 133:1; Ephesians 4:2-3).
The Greek word translated "salute" here is a beautiful word, aspazomai, meaning "to enfold in the arms, to greet, to welcome, to embrace." How warm is this word and these texts that use it (Romans 16:23; Colossians 4:10,12; I Peter 5:13). As you read the narratives, you can just "feel" the love and warmth being expressed. Is there anything in all the world more precious than this "love of God shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost who is given unto us" (Romans 5:5)? No! No earthly love or even marital love equals it, for this "love of God" within us is a supernatural, divine love, which only the quickened elect of God know anything about. How we should treasure meeting and greeting our brethren, as we are "all one in Christ Jesus" (Galatians 3:28), no matter our nationality, social status, race, skin color, religious background, or our denominational affiliation. Our Lord Jesus Christ has truly obliterated all divisions among God's people, based upon natural, outward things (Colossians 3:11).
"But Christ is all, and in all." Let those seven words sink in deeply. "But Christ." "Is all." "And in all." There you have it, brethren!
This is why we embrace each other when we meet (the above opening verses from Acts). This is why we rejoice together, and weep together (Romans 12:15). This is why we truly desire each other's fellowship (Philippians 1:7-8). This is why we don't keep records of wrongs among us (I Corinthians 13:4-5). Our hearts have been bathed in agape love, and we seek the welfare and blessing of others (Genesis 43:27). This is the only way we ever could obey, "Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ " (Galatians 6:2).
No one brother is above another, as we are all servants of Christ (Matthew 20:26). We must rid ourselves of all proud titles, as we hear again the words of our Lord and Master: "and all ye are brethren" (Matthew 23:8). This is why we can "pray one for another" (James 5:16). Those who know and love God are admonished, "Beloved, let us love one another" (I John 4:7). This is true brotherly love.
With Captain David, I salute all brethren in distress, in debt, and who are discontented (I Samuel 22:1-2). Captain Jesus visits us also in our Cave of Adullam! Let's greet Him, "All Hail, King Jesus!" He whispers to us, "Shalom, Peace" (John 20:19). Oh brethren, hear these precious words: "Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the LORD" (John 20:20). Oh that the Great Comforter would let us see King Jesus! Then, and only then can we "embrace each other" in true Christian love. I salute you! I greet you and embrace you in the love of Christ! "Greet all the brethren with an holy kiss" (I Thessalonians 5:26). "Let brotherly love continue" (Hebrews 13:1).

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