1 PETER 2
1 Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings,
simple innocence. A broad and intimate acquaintance with facts is not always desirable. If God has condemned a thing, it is much more pleasing to Him if we can accept His judgment, as loving children, and leave it alone without first having to know all about it.
"Let them go their way, let them see the other side-the experience is good," the foolish world says, "Let them weather the storm-it will teach them self-reliance." But such philosophy is heedless of the tremendous percentage the storm sweeps relentlessly away, and it ignores God's lesson that self-reliance is at best a broken reed.
God teaches that there is neither wisdom nor kindness in exposing tender shoots to a blast that tests the endurance of well-rooted faith. Christ's prayer was that God should keep His children from the evil that is in the world, and man is not wiser than God. When Jesus was urged to unnecessarily expose himself, he replied-
"Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God."
The parent-child figure is nowhere more strongly emphasized than in relation to God's fundamental requirement-OBEDIENCE in simple faith-"Be ye as obedient children."
No amount of laborious and complicated service and worship and devotion is to be compared with simple obedience. Some men do many wonderful works in Christ's name, but do they pass the acid test of a humble childlike desire to know and obey God's elementary requirements, regardless of their apparent contradiction of the world's wisdom? Are their mighty works done their way, or God's?
"If not," declares Christ, "If they do not the will of my Father, no amount of parading their great works will get them into my kingdom." Why not? Why shouldn't a lifetime of noble, self-sacrificing, well-meaning service be rewarded? Because they miss the fundamental issue of the Gospel. It is not of works but of childlike, unquestioning faith.
To enter the Kingdom, a man must be absolutely righteous. The Bride is to be presented "holy and without blemish, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing." Even 99% is not sufficient. But no man can accomplish this for himself. No amount of effort and service can do it. If it were possible, then man could glory.
There is only one way to become wholly righteous. God has promised to cover sin and impute perfect righteousness on the basis of tried faith. If a man's life and conduct are guided by implicit faith, God will count him righteous.
Here again is illustrated Christ's declaration that we can only enter the Kingdom as children. We must have righteousness to enter, but it is not the manly, self-confident, self-reliant, earned righteousness of works. It is the faithful, trustful, childlike imputed righteousness of grace.
Bro Growcott - As little Children
5 Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.
Thus, "the Deity dwelleth not in temples," or "churches," "made with hands," but in a Holy Temple built by the formative power of the truth understood, believed, and obeyed. Every stone of this temple is living, and precious, and bought at the high price of the blood of Jesus Christ. Peter says, they are "lively stones built up a spiritual house," or temple (1 Pet. ii. 5; and in 2 Cor. vi. 16), Paul repeats the idea, saying to the true believers,
"Ye are the temple of the living Deity."
After such plain and pointed declarations as these, no one being acquainted with them, and comprehending them, can possibly believe, that the temples of the "religious world," whether the term be affirmed of a name, or denomination, or of all names and denominations collectively, or of cathedrals, churches, chapels, and conventicles, -- are temples of the Deity. These are none of his buildings. The impress of his workmanship is upon none of them; and therefore in none of them doth he reside, either by the truth, or spiritual gift.
The temples styled by the clericals "Houses of God," are what Daniel's prophecy denominates mivtzahrai mahuzzim, "Bazaars of the Guardians" (xi. 38-39); or ecclesiastical edifices dedicated to angels and the ghosts of saints, which are regarded in the mystery of spiritual sorcery, as "guardian spirits," or protectors of those who honour them.
In these church-bazaars are deposited "sacred" images and pictures of "saints." They are Demon-Temples, wherein are placed shrines for the repose of relics, supposed to have belonged to the demon, or ghost, when a dweller upon earth; also silver, gold, and ivory crucifixes; old bones, and divers junk-store odds and ends, and various kinds of votive trumpery.
They are literally "dens of thieves," without ever having been houses of the Father -- dens where people are robbed of their money under divers false pretences. They are places where pews are sold by auction, the proudest sittings being knocked down to Mammon's greatest favorites; places where fairs of vanity and deceit are beheld for "pious objects;" and where spiritual empirics pretend to "cure souls" in consideration of so much per annum.
In view of these facts, the scriptural epithet bestowed upon the ecclesiastical edifices of the Apostasy is most appropriate. They are truly Bazaars of spiritual merchandize; and the prospering craft, "the great men of the earth" made rich by trading in their wares, are the Bazaar-men who extort all kinds of goods from their customers by putting them in fear, and comforting them with counterfeits upon some fictitious bank in the world to come.
Now these sacrifices have to be offered both in the Altar-Court and in the Holy Place, where are the Bread and the Wine, and the ministry of the word, prayer, praise, and fellowship. As a community of priests, the faithful come together on the First Day of the Week, and in their session are manifested as a Heavenly; as a Holy Place; as the Tabernacle of the Testimony, "showing forth the praises of Him, who hath called them out of darkness into his marvellous light" (ver. 9).
In their ministrations and worship they stand, as it were an angel at the altar in the court, with the golden frankincense bowl of prayer. They are themselves this golden bowl, in which is much incense of prayers and praises, which they offer upon the golden altar. Their petitions and thanksgiving are kindled into odors of acceptable perfume by the fire taken from the altar of the court; and as constituents also of the golden altar of the Holy Place, the perfumes ascend before the Deity as it were out of the angel's hand.
The Psalms are peculiarly Israel's songs; they were never intended for the use of the alien; they are as exclusive as the Epistles of Paul.
In their composition they are essentially Israelitish. It is from the standpoint of Israel's hope alone that they can be rightly interpreted and appreciated. The Psalms comprise hymns of praise to God and hymns for the mutual edification and comfort of His people. However instructive these Psalms may be to those out of Christ, the enlightened must not wilfully allow them to be misapplied.
God is pleased with praise only when it has been preceded by obedience, and He accepts the service of exhortation from those only who have previously directed their own feet unto wisdom's paths (Matt. vii. 5).
"Ye (said Peter to believers), as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ" (1 Pet. ii. 5). -ATJ
Worship in Relation to the Alien
The principles upon which God now acts in relation to worship are the basis of all the declarations contained in the law. With God there is no
"variableness, neither shadow of turning."
The recognition of God's inherent and incomparable holiness and man's uncleanness was enforced in the law repeatedly and emphatically. God's majesty and sanctity were kept continually in sight by an elaborate, involved, and peculiar system of ritual, in the observance of which he would alone be served and worshipped.
Wilful disobedience or infringement of his appointments entailed death. Israel were given to understand unmistakably that their position as a favoured people resulted from God calling them and not from them calling Him.
Without circumcision and sacrifice, none could have any portion in Israel's commonwealth, nor be accounted holy or able to approach Deity. Peter draws an analogy between the Israelitish nation and the saints in this dispensation, and shows that the privilege of offering worship pertains only to a certain class-
...an holy priesthood to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by (or through) Jesus Christ
... Spiritual sacrifices (which include prayer and praise) are well-pleasing or acceptable when offered by those who are connected with Christ. The alien are not connected with Christ, and therefore, their sacrifices are not acceptable.
Bro AT Jannaway - TC 07/1886
The general sterility of human character is due as much as anything to the absence of reverence and gratitude to the Eternal. This, of course, is due to the absence of enlightenment; and the absence of enlightenment is due to the unhappy situation of things among men, in which ecclesiastical superstition is mistaken for Bible truth, and natural truth is supposed to be incompatible with Bible truth.
We are happy in having come to see that the prevalent theology is the uttermost darkness; and that the authenticated teaching of the Bible, is confirmed instead of being discredited by the scientific reading of nature. It is the highest privilege possible to man in the present unhappy state of things, and we ought to gladly put up with any of the drawbacks that belong to it.
There are drawbacks. We are insulated from the two great parties of which the world is composed-have the favour of neither, and the kicks of both. The theological part look upon us as "worse than infidels;" and the unbelieving part regard us as pitiable fanatics. Cut off from both, we are without the usual field of human ambition.
It is a position of hardship, and often pinches extremely. What then? We have the opportunity of sharing in a certain form the position of the early believers, whose sufferings were great for Christ's sake, but who were able with Paul to say
"Our light affliction which is but for a moment, worketh out for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory."
Do we think it a mistake on the part of divine wisdom to subject the friends of God to a position of disadvantage and suffering? Do we think it would have been better for the truth to be a popular thing, and its profession a source of present honour and emolument?
Wisdom will cast the suggestion aside. If we were to judge by human feeling, we would no doubt have many things different from what they are- much pleasanter for the time being every way. But would the result in the end be better? The very reverse. What is the end being accomplished by the means adopted?
When we see this, we are silent and resigned. Look at the typical building of Solomon's temple for the answer. The stones were all prepared at the quarry, far from the scene of building operations. The hammer and chisel did their work before the stones were brought to their place. We are informed that the house was built of stone
"made ready before it was brought thither, so that there was neither hammer nor axe nor any tool of iron heard in the house while it was in building."
The stones were made ready for their place before they were brought. The process of making ready would be a disagreeable one to the stones if the stones could feel; but it would be nice when they were fitly trimmed, and found, to exactly fit their place when brought to the noiseless building.
We are declared to be stones-living stones-being got ready for the great antitypical temple in which God will dwell on the earth-a temple consisting of an enlightened and obedient and grateful multitude.
Shall we begrudge the process by which we are being got ready for our places? The process is now, in the quarries and sheds of natural life. The judge of our state is the author of the future building. The choice of the tools needed to give us the right shape lies with Him. Is the shaping process painful? It cannot be otherwise. Consider what is aimed at-that we may be "made fit" for the kingdom of God. Jesus spoke of some who were "not fit for the kingdom of God."
9 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:
The sealed servants of the Deity are always exclusive; for, being enlightened by the word and ruled by its principles, their liberality, toleration, and charity, transcend not the line which they describe --
"to the law and the testimony, if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them."
Tried by this rule, they found the whole world condemned except themselves, and boldly and bravely proclaimed the truth.
When the truth gets a sufficient hold of these prepared seekers of the unmeasured court, it makes them restless and dissatisfied with the dry, stereotyped, superstitions of their fathers. Hence, they are caused to make efforts for a return to the gospel and order of things, as preached and instituted originally by Christ and the Apostles.
Out of darkness
It is one of the privileges that come with a knowledge of the truth that we are at home in any part of the word. In our orthodox days, we found large portions of the bible unuseful: the history heavy and effete; the Mosaic law cumbersome and dead; the prophets unintelligible and yielding no particular profit where they could be understood.
A theology that fixed our attention on the death state and the sky, naturally robbed of its interest a book that mainly deals with life and the earth. We are emancipated, and "mixing trembling with our mirth," we rejoice to be able to turn to profitable account whatever portion of Scripture may be brought under our notice.
10 Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.
We ought to be the kingdom of God in miniature; in fact, all the saints are: there is no doubt about that though there may be a doubt as to who are the saints. Therefore, let us walk in the light of the word. Do not heed what is said on the right hand or on the left. Avail yourself of good company, if you can get it, but take care you do not get injured where you expected to be benefited.
The Christadelphian, June 1872
12 Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation.
"THE DAY OF INSPECTION," hemera episkopes, that the Rainbowed Angel, or Perfect Man, is to be made manifest, and developed into being. "The apocalypse of the Sons of Deity" (Rom. 8:19), which is "the adoption" or "redemption of our body" (v.23), cannot occur in the absence of our Lord Jesus Christ, because he is "the resurrection and the life"; and till he revisits the earth, there can be neither.
He is no longer simply the earthborn body that was crucified and buried. After he came forth from the tomb, which of itself under the law was defiling to the party buried, and to any living person who should touch him, Jesus was also upon the third day "justified by spirit," or "made perfect," in ascending by the power of the Spirit from the earth-born nature, to consubstantiality of substance with the Father, "who is spirit" (John 4:24).
Thus freed from all earthiness, he became spirit, upon the principle he had laid down in his discourse to Nicodemus, that "that which has been born out of the Spirit is spirit" (John 3:6). Hence, the perfected Jesus is the Spirit-Nucleus of the Perfect Man to be revealed, or apocalypsed.
The Lord Jesus comes not as a thief to them that are watching. He is "the Lord the Spirit" for whom they are waiting and earnestly looking; knowing that he comes when the 1335 years are expired, "in the Time of the End", and before the gathering of the hosts of the nations in the field of Armageddon.
... the development of the Rainbowed Angel is the same thing as the development of the Perfect Man, whose constituents are "the kings from a Sun's risings"... it appears to me, from the testimony already in the hands of the reader, the KING OF THE JEWS will first manifest his presence, not to the world at large; which will not know of his being there, or, if told the fact, would not believe it; but to those, whom "the blood of the covenant" brings before his tribunal.
This southern region of which as King of the Jews he is king, therefore, "King of the South," is the locality of that tribunal, or judgment seat (bema, not thronos), before which we must all stand that we may be made manifest.
The locality of the Throne (thro-nos) is Jerusalem, about 280 miles in a straight line from Sinai. Mount Zion is the place of "THE GREAT WHITE THRONE" (ch. 20:11; 4:2). This is not ascended until the victorious King of the Jews and his Perfect Man of 144 cubits, or thousands, have wrested the city out of the hands of the Little Horn of the Goat (Dan. 8:9,11,23,25;.
We have not now to do with this; but with the bema, or Supreme Court, the judicial bench, styled in Rom. 14:10, and 2 Cor. 5:10, "the Judgment Seat of Christ". All who have made a covenant with Yahweh by sacrifice, and in any way related to "the Covenants of Promise," will be gathered (Psa. 50:5) and stand before this; but it will only be the chosen few, "the called, and chosen, and faithful," who will be admitted to share in the honour, dignities, and glory of the name of Yahweh in Jerusalem enthroned (Jer. 3:17).
Let the reader note well this distinction between the Throne and the Judgment Seat, their different localities, and the different times of their establishment. The transactions connected with each are different series of events; which, if mixed up together create inextricable confusion.
13 Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme;
It is impossible that a Christadelphian can be a patriot or a soldier. "Christian patriotism" is an invention of the flesh. It is one of the "good words and fair speeches" by which the simple are deceived.
The political attitude of a Christadelphian is submission to the existing powers, living peaceably with all men, except where the truth is concerned.
For the truth we are to contend earnestly, and the weapons of this warfare are mighty, through God, to the pulling down of strongholds; though not so mighty as they were in the days of Paul, when Christ's soldiers were armed with the powers of the spirit.
This is our warfare. We are not to touch the conflicts of the world. We are to pay tribute to whom tribute is due, custom to whom custom is due, fear to whom fear, honour to whom honour. We are to be the most peaceful of citizens, the most loyal of subjects, so far as deference to authority is concerned.
We are to submit to every ordinance of man, where it does not conflict with our duty to God.
Our submission, however, is not out of deference to human authority, but from obedience to divine law; we submit because God tells us to submit as a duty to Christ, not as a compliment to rulers.
Ambassador of the Coming Age, Nov 1868
16 As free, and not using your liberty for a cloke of maliciousness, but as the servants of God.
"The servants of God"
-This and its equivalents is a frequent designation of the saints in the New Testament. It imports service rendered to God in His own house, and in harmony with His revealed requirements. It is therefore expressive of obligation as well, and the reward of faithfulness. It also implies the renunciation of the service of sin, in favour of the diviner occupation of doing the will of God, and keeping His commandments.
The Christadelphian, Apr 1888
18 Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward.
... if a man is a servant (and cannot be otherwise), let him care not for it. It is but for a short time, and then freedom will come in a form that no one could attain by the highest effort and the highest success in this world. If he can be other than a servant, let him accept the liberty as an opportunity for greater good; but this will need discretion.
Bro Roberts - servants and masters
23 Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously:
Can Brethren be Constables and Soldiers?
The question is, Has Christ forbidden violence? Nothing is clearer. Peter says,
"He hath left us an example that we should tread in his steps" (2 Peter 2:21).
Christ himself said to his disciples:
"I have given you an example that ye should do as I have done to you" (John 13:15).
Now the example of Christ, as to the matter in hand is plain. The testimony is that he did no violence, neither was deceit found in his mouth (Isaiah 53:9). As Peter tells us,
"When he was reviled he reviled not again: when he suffered he threatened not, but committed himself to Him that judgeth righteously" (1 Peter 2:23).
Can we imagine Christ acting the special constable at Jerusalem at the bidding of the Scribes or magistrates; smiting and driving a turbulent mob on the plea of protecting life and property? If he once drove a crowd of market people out of the temple court,
"overthrowing the tables of the money changers and the seats of them that sold doves,"
it was not at the command of human authority but in the name of the Father, whose house of prayer had been transformed into a den of thieves. The law was yet in force, and Jesus as under the law (Gal. 4:5), was empowered to enforce its requirements as against his rebellious brethren, like Nehemiah, who drove out of the same place a similar class of people for a different offence (Neh. 13:7-31).
When the authority of God is re-established, the saints will take the sword of judgment, and be required to do the same work on a vaster and more effectual scale; but the question is what is their duty now, in the times of the Gentiles, while they are on probation for the kingdom of God. On this, the example of Christ points distinctly in the direction of non-resistance.
The Christadelphian, February, 1898
24 Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.
Brethren Thomas and Roberts taught that the laying of our sins upon Christ was not by mere type or symbol or imputation (like the animal sacrifices), but by an actual reality IN HIS BODY. That is, that our sins were "laid on him" in his being born of our condemned Sin's-flesh race: in his actual partaking of Sin's Flesh, the flesh in which the Diabolos, SIN, resided in every cell and fibre.
And that, having been so born into the condemned race, he himself inseparably from all his brethren - required to come under God's appointed sacrificial cleansing for the race. This is the reality and unity that connects us with him, and makes it righteously possible for his cleansing to purify us. Brethren Thomas and Roberts say:
"The flesh was the 'filthy garments' with which the Spirit Word was clothed: the 'iniquity of us all' that was laid upon him (Isa. 53: 6.)" -Eureka I, page 108
"If the principle of corruption had not pervaded the flesh of Jesus ... SIN could not have been condemned there, nor could he have borne our sins IN his own body." - Eureka I, page 203
"To be 'made sin' for others is to become flesh and blood." -Eureka I, page 247
"The 'filthy garments' of flesh, styled his 'iniquity' (Zech. 3:4)." -Eureka II, page 19
""Iniquities laid on him': this is a figurative description of what was literally done in God sending forth His Son, made of a woman (Adamic), made under the Law (Mosaic), to die under the combined curse . . . This was laid on Jesus in his being made of our nature." - Christadelphian, 1873, page 400
"The ceremonial imposition of sins upon the animals was the type. The real 'putting of sin' on the Lamb of God, in the bestowal of a prepared sin-body wherein to die, is the substance." -Christadelphian, 1873, page 462
Some quote a few statements by brother Roberts purportedly out of harmony with the vast bulk of his writings, as above illustrated. There are no contradictions. Objectors were always trying to get brother Roberts to say what would have happened, or what might have been required "if": IF certain facts about Christ were different; IF he had been entirely alone; IF he alone were to be saved.
This tack is not only unprofitable, but very mischievous and dangerous. Our wisdom is to take the complete Divine pattern of Truth as it is. To speculate on theoretical alternatives is presumption.
Christ cannot possibly be separated from his work for mankind. Immediately we separate him, even "for the sake of argument," we destroy the whole picture, and have nothing profitable to discuss. It is all or nothing: God's way in its completeness, the divine facts as they are - or no way at all.
Let us resolutely refuse to be drawn into the "what if" morass. Brother Roberts strenuously resisted this approach, but sometimes under pressure very guardedly yielded to it to help a confused questioner, or answer a pressing debater. Example:"QUESTION: What would have been the consequences had Christ died a natural death?
"ANSWER: Had the will of God been so, his resurrection would have followed immediately, and our salvation equally secured. For the triumph lay here: that he rose after dying for sin. But a natural death would not have been the same trial of Christ's obedience ... It does not appear that the mode of death would have made any difference to the result as regards us, except in-so-far as might have borne on the question of Christ's obedience." - Christadelphian, 1873, page 322
Clearly it is all a matter of Divine appointment. IF God had appointed natural death for the cleansing of sin, it would have sufficed. The way He chose obviously served His purpose better. Note that brother Roberts correctly observes that in such a case, it would have sufficed for the salvation of ALL, not just Christ himself. But it is a profitless supposition. We are concerned with what God DID appoint as the way, not speculation about what He didn't.
Bro Growcott - Purifying of the heavenly
In what way did he bear our sins "in his own body," except as Paul explains by partaking of sinful flesh, bearing "in his body" the root and tendencies of sin which he conquered and subdued.
"In his own body" establishes the connection between him and us. He was one of the defiled race. Therefore he could be accepted by God as representing the race.
If God had exacted a penalty from someone upon whom it did not rightly fall, this would be neither justice nor love.
But when God especially provides and strengthens one of the race, and enables him to fulfill the conditions which all (including himself) should fulfill, and then is willing to receive all the rest on the basis of an identification with this one perfect example and sacrifice-there indeed is both love and justice demonstrated with beautiful and unsearchable divine wisdom and power!
Bro Growcott - By his own blood