1 THESSALONIANS 4
7 For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness.
The old man says, "Why should not I have the liberty that everybody takes?" "Why should not I please myself also? Why should not I indulge in these pleasing diversions that chase away the dullness of life and open to me the solace and refreshment that the world has in all directions?"
There is an answer to the old man which the old man does not like, and which it inflicts the highest pain on him to receive. That answer is: The Law of God forbids. God says,
"Ye are called to holiness;"
"Be ye holy in all manner of conversation-holy both in body and spirit."
"Without holiness no man shall see the Lord."
...In all things, there is but one course for every true lover of Christ, and that is, to bear him company in the garden of Gethsemane, and say with him,
"Not my will but Thine be done."
The conflict may be painful for the time being; but it never can be so painful as that through which he went in prospect of the prolonged agony that ended in the "loud cry" at the ninth hour. And however painful, it prepares a sweetness of victory that no language can exaggerate. Even in this present life, the results of conformity to the will of God are most precious, most noble.
Bro Roberts - Not as I will, but as Thou wilt
13 But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.
Some of the Thessalonian believers had died, and the survivors seemed to be under the apprehension that the deceased were losers by death, as if they would miss something by being out of the way if Christ should appear. Paul writes to correct this feeling.
...where is the wisdom of so much care for the present life?
Where is the wisdom of large aims for present advantage? When death overtakes us the care is at an end, and the advantages exist no longer for us: and meanwhile, the care may have killed us; the riches, and the pleasures, destroyed our prospects in Christ, in having deadened the heart and interfered with a good account for the judgment seat.
The danger in this respect is very great because very insidious, being associated with so much that is legitimate. We are apt to pass from the bounds of what is right and safe to that which is unwise and deadly before we are aware. The cares and pleasures of life find a powerful response in the instincts of the natural man, which are strong with us all, at the beginning of the race at all events. We have to be on our guard.
A look at a dead friend is a help to this attitude of circumspection. We realise what is wisdom for them, at all events. We think how bootless their anxiety, of say a week before, has been: how well they might have spared themselves the load of their cares; how perfectly wise was their zealous addiction to the works of Christ, which alone remain their property in the eternal prospect.
A reasonable mind will transfer these views from the dead to the living; from a dead brother or sister to one's own still living-but perhaps to be soon dead-self. Such a mind will see and feel and surrender to the force of the apostolic precepts.
Be without carefulness; cast your care upon God, who careth for you. Have faith in God. Having food and raiment, be therewith content. Labour not to be rich. Mind not high things. Pass the time of your sojourning here in fear. Live soberly, righteously, and godly. Be diligent to every good work. Seek first the kingdom of God. Be counted with the despised. Be like Moses, who refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season, esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt.
By the side of the coffin, these exhortations of the Spirit have great force: yet to be of benefit they must obtain the mastery over us in the common circumstances of every-day life, leading us to walk as saints, "holy in all manner of conversation," purified unto Christ a peculiar people, zealous of good works, not fashioning ourselves according to the former lusts in our ignorance, but walking in the light, that we may be the children of the light, thus made meet for the inheritance of the saints in light.
Most people feel solemnised in the presence of death: but most people also go away and forget the lessons that speak to them in that solemnity. Nay, most people are glad to get away, and glad to forget, glad to rejoin the careless throng, glad to efface the sombreness in the occupations of pleasure, or in the laughter of the fool, that crackles like thorns under the pot. In this lies the difference between a wise man and a fool:
"The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning; but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth. It is better to hear the rebuke of the wise, than for a man to hear the song of fools" (Ecc.7: 4).
Is it that the wise have a liking for that which is sombre? Is it that they have no capacity for the cheery aspect of things? By no means. There is a reason. Mourning is not a preference, but a result. The whole present situation of things will, of its own force, cause sorrow in every mind that perceives it. Only those who are blind or insensible can be unaffected by such a sorrowful situation.
Folly is in the ascendant; death reigns; God is a stranger among the teeming multitudes. He who made the earth, is disowned in it. He hath spoken good words of promise and healing words of invitation; yet His word is spurned, and men rush everywhere after mere amusement without God.
This would all be sad enough even if everybody had plenty, and there were no wretched poor huddled away in garrets, unfed, unclad, uneducated, uncared for, unblessed in a single opportunity of improvement or a single hope of release from evil plight;
but when in addition to the pleasures, there is the misery; when in addition to the folly, there is the rotting poverty and hopeless degradation of millions; when, in addition to the wickedness, there is the blight, the stunting, the afflicting, the blasting, the crushing, the destruction of the overwhelming bulk of mankind, at the hands of a small section of monopolists, who surfeit themselves with measureless plenty, and philosophically contemplate the wretchedness without through the roseate atmosphere of their surroundings, venturing even to think the system right and the arrangement respectable
- I say when a man of godly aspiration realises this situation of things, he needs not to make any effort at sadness.
He is sad because there is a reason for it. He cannot share in the sport of fools with whom there is no recognition of the facts of the case. If he avoids the house of mirth, it is because mirth is misplaced in the present state of things on earth. There is mirth by and by for the righteous, but not yet. The business of salvation is too precarious a thing to allow it.Seasons 1.58.
15 For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.
...the bearing of that event on the household of faith. An illustration will be found in the typical experience of Israel.
"The thunderings and the lightnings, and the noise of trumpet, and the mountain smoking," (Ex. 20:18)
Since Christ was here the truth has never vanished in the sense of believers being absolutely extinguished from the earth. The apocalyptic references to believers in all ages show this. Dr. Thomas himself also alludes to the fact in Eureka and The Book Unsealed.
The wording on the Doctor's tombstone must be interpreted in the light of these truths. The revival of the truth by the Doctor was a public revival. The reference of Paul to the continuation till Christ came of the true ecclesia also bears out the thought-
"We shall not all sleep" (1 Cor. xv. 51);
"We which are alive and remain" (1 Thes. iv. 15, 17).
How these apostolic statements evidence the divine inspiration of the one who made them! How could Paul, apart from inspiration, have foretold the existence of a body of living believers at the return of Christ? And how these predictions evidence the providential preservation of the Scriptures, for apart from them, how could there be believers?
Be patient, brethren, the tongue of the adversary will be effectually silenced presently.
Bro AT Jannaway
The Christadelphian, June 1899
Prevent means precede or go before.
The comparison is between the dead righteous and the living righteous, and not between the righteous dead and the wicked dead.
16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:
'... when "the time of the dead that they should be judged" arrives, the living saints will not anticipate the dead. That is, they will not be gathered together into the presence of Christ before them. When Christ comes, the living will have to wait, until the reproduction of the dead saints is complete. Be the time of this reproduction long or short, the how long is not revealed; this, however, is certain, that
"the dead in Christ shall be restored (anastesontai) FIRST".
He then tells us What is to happen next.
"After that, We the living Who remain, together with them shall be hurried away in clouds for a convention of the Lord in an air (eis haera), and so (in that Air) We shall be always With the Lord".
Thus the dead are the subjects of anastasis, or "restoration" to what they once were; and then, in company with their fellow earthborns in Christ of the generation contemporary with this great anastasis, they go to report themselves for better or worse at the Judgment Seat in Teman.
All of them who are approved, or "accounted worthy to obtain that aion" (aion, course of things, or Air), are "clothed with the house from heaven;" and henceforth, appointed to be with the Lord always in the Air.
CHRIST RETURNS AS A THIEF
"Behold I come as a thief" (Rev. 16: 15) is not in conflict with the testimony of Paul, that
"the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, and with the trump of God" (1 Thess. 4: 16).
The first, as will be seen by the context describes the relation of the advent to the nations of the earth, who when it occurs, are mustering for "the war of the great day of God Almighty," and who will be unconscious of the presence of Christ in the earth, till made to feel it in the adversities of war; the second refers to the bearing of that event on the household of faith.
An illustration will be found in the typical experience of Israel.
"The thunderings and the lightnings, and the noise of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking" (Exod. 20: 18),
were manifestation to Israel alone in connexion with their interview with the Deity, prior to marching under Joshua to the conquest of Canaan. The world at large were ignorant of the "terrible sight," which made even Moses quake, on Sinai."
CHRIST RETURNS NOT AS A THIEF
The Day of the Lord will not come upon the Saints as a thief. As a snare it will come upon all men that dwell upon the whole earth - Luke 21: 35, but upon the called, and chosen, and faithful, it will come as the welcome deliverance which a lifetime's expectation and preparation will have made them ready to receive with gladness.
Seeing the appointed tokens among the nations, they lift up their heads knowing that their redemption draweth nigh (Luke 21: 28).
"For ye are not in darkness that that day should come upon you as a thief" (1 Thess. 5: 4).
17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
Paul refers to the Air or Heaven of the Gentile world, or constitution of things, in Eph. 2:2, where he says, 'ye who were dead in trespasses and in sins, in time past walked according to the aion of this kosmos", or course of this order of things,
"according to the chief of the authority of the Air, (which is) the Spirit which now worketh in the children of disobedience".
The spirit that works in the disobedient is the spirit of flesh, or King Sin. He is the chief, the ruler, or prince, of "the authority of the Air".
The constituted authority of an empire, kingdom or republic, is "the authority of the Air" in those several dominions or states. The Powers that be are the Sin-Powers of the Air, styled by the apostle in Eph. 6:12, "principalities and authorities, the world-rulers of the darkness of the course of things (aion) the spirituals of the wickedness in the heavenlies".
These all belong to "the authority of the Air". The spirituals of the wickedness in his day were the civil, or secular, and the ecclesiastical, world-rulers, who Were either Jewish or Pagan; but in our day, they are emperors, kings, magistrates, popes, priests, and parsons, called "the clergy", of all orders and degrees, of imposture and blasphemy, pretending to be Christian...
...Both earth and heaven, as now constituted in church, state, and general society, will all be broken up and abolished; and a New Air, or firmament, constituted, in which will shine only "the Splendid Ones," the Sun of Righteousness and the kings of his rising, who obtain "the victory over the Beast, and over his Image, and over his Mark, and over the Number of his Name" (ch. 15:2). These will all meet together with the Lord in the Air, as the "New Heaven," styled also "the Heaven," in ch. 18:20, which rejoices over Babylon in the disaster of her fall. This New Air, I remark again, is the air in which, and for which, the chosen saints are convened.
...every political island and mountain will be abolished. The civil and ecclesiastical constitutions of all the states and kingdoms will be superseded by "the law that goes forth from Zion," which will become "the air" in which clouds of saints will meet the Lord, and so be ever with him (1 Thess. iv. 17).
When the kingdoms of this world become the kingdoms of Yahweh and his Anointed, "the wise" will be the embodiment of "the air" or firmament; for "they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament" (Dan. xii. 3). No smoke of the pit, or wrath of vials, will ever darken, or abolish them. They will always be bright and clear, and give transmission to the healing rays of the Sun of Righteousness, as his kings and priests over the subject nations of the earth.
The "two stages" of the Lord's coming are not two stages of his journey, but two aspects of the work to be done at his one coming. He does not come to a distant point of our atmosphere, and stop and send for his saints, and then resume his journey: this idea has been drawn from what Paul says in 1 Thess. iv., about being caught up to meet the Lord in the air. But Paul did not use the Greek word for up. He used a verb which means caught away without reference to any particular direction.
The Lord's people will be caught away to meet him, certainly: but this is to meet him at his return-which is to the earth. The first stage of his work at the return is the organisation of his own house by judgment and separation of its elements. This will involve the immortalisation of his accepted people. They are not immortal before they meet him: for he is the giver of that great attribute at his judgment seat. They are taken away to his presence in their natural state.
The second stage of his coming will be his manifestation to the world with his brethren in works of war and retribution - to be followed by the subjugation of the earth and the setting-up of the Kingdom of God.
The Christadelphian, Oct 1896.