1 Now there were in the ecclesia that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.
The Ecclesia at Antioch
It appears that the ecclesia at Antioch was blessed with a number of faithful brethren. They provided sound leadership and guidance for the members of the flock. Industrious and dedicated, they laboured conscientiously in the service of their Lord.
Barnabas is first named, perhaps because of his prominence amongst the brethren at this time, while Saul (Paul) is mentioned last. Undoubtedly, Luke was careful to conclude the list with Saul's name as he would have been the youngest in the Truth among the brethren whose names are here listed.
Every ecclesia needs diligent and faithful teachers who are dedicated Bible students and who minister faithfully to the flock, to the glory of God. It is evident that the brethren named here, doubtless with others whose names are not recorded, were totally committed to the cause of Christ and were therefore an example to all.
They were not interested in self advancement or in gaining positions of power within a developing ecclesia. They loved the Truth and were prepared to give themselves wholly to the source of their love.
Bro John Ullman
5 And when they were at Salamis, they preached the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews: and they had also John to their minister.
Power being in the hands of their enemies, the christ[adelphians] of the Hebrew nation still continued to observe the seventh day according to the custom. Hence we find the apostles frequenting the synagogues on the sabbath days, and reasoning with the people out of the scriptures. To have done otherwise would have been to create an unnecessary prejudice, and to let slip one of the best opportunities of introducing the gospel to the attention of the Jewish public.
They did not forsake the synagogues until they were expelled. While they frequented these, however, on the seventh day, they assembled themselves together with the disciples whose assemblies constituted the ecclesias of the saints and of God. They ordained elders over these societies, and "taught them to observe all things whatsoever Jesus had commanded them."
In his letter to the Hebrew christ[adelphians] he exhorts them "not to forsake the assembling of themselves together." Such an exhortation as this implies a stated time and place of assembly. On what day, then, did the ecclesias of the saints meet to exhort one another so as to provoke to love and to good works?
Certainly not on the seventh day, for then the apostles were in the synagogues. What day then more appropriate than the Lord's day, or first day of the week? Now it cannot be affirmed that the saints were commanded to meet on this day, because there is no testimony to that effect in the New Testament.
But it is beyond dispute that they did assemble themselves together on the first day of the week, and the most reasonable inference is that they did so in obedience to the instruction of the apostles from whose teaching they derived all their faith and practice, which constituted them the disciples of Jesus.
Herald of the Kingdom and Age to Come, Jan 1859
6 And when they had gone through the isle unto Paphos, they found a certain sorcerer, a false prophet, a Jew, whose name was Barjesus:
It is evident ... that a sorcerer is a false prophet or teacher. All, therefore who do not teach the truth are scripturally designated "sorcerers," poisoners, or false prophets, and are classed with the "filthy" and the "unjust," and are obnoxious to all the judgments written upon the scroll on the outside (Rev 5:1)...They poison the people with their soul-medicines; and so having bewitched them, make merchandise of them from the cradle to the grave.
7 Which was with the deputy of the country, Sergius Paulus, a prudent man; who called for Barnabas and Saul, and desired to hear the word of God.
... we make the general remark, that the less any man has to do with politics, the better for his character, peace of mind, and worldly circumstances. If this be true of the natural man—and politicians who know what faction, and faction wire-pulling and working are, declare that it is true—how much better is it for the Christ[adelphian] to have nothing at all to do with politics.
Politics are the unprincipled intriguings of flesh and blood for the acquisition of the spoils of office in the hands of others; or for the retention of them, to the perpetual exclusion of all who covet them. Hence politics are resolvable into heartless and bowelless selfishness, and afford no scope for the development of the Spirit's fruit. They are of the flesh fleshy, and consequently defiling.
But a person may hold office without being a politician; and he may have been appointed to it, without acting the political zealot or partisan to obtain it; and it is possible, also, if he be useful and experienced in his calling, to retain it upon Christ[adelphian] principles.
The apostle's instruction in regard to this ought to be sufficient: "Let every man," says he,
"abide in the same calling wherein he was called. Art thou called being a slave—δουλοσς? Care not for it; but if thou mayest be made free use it rather. For he in the Lord called a slave, is made free of the Lord: likewise also the free man called, is Christ's slave. Ye are bought with a price; become not slaves of men. Brethren, let every one wherein he was called, in this remain with the Deity." 1 Cor. 7:20–24.
This then is the principle of action for believers in all situations of life—
"godliness with contentment." "Be contented with such things as ye have."
If you have a living by tailoring, seek not to exchange it for that of a supervisor of roads, school-commissioner, or representative of the people in any of the offices of state; or if you be in the customs, or post-office, or excise, or any other department, and your superiors will allow you to remain without annoyance, or requiring you to break the commandments of God, "abide in that same calling," if found in it when invited to God's kingdom and glory by the gospel.
Some of the saints in Paul's day were of Cæsar's household, and so continued after embracing the truth. Sergius Paulus also held office under the pagan government, though a Christ[adelphian].
Herald of the Kingdom and Age to Come, Jun 1860
15 And after the reading of the law and the prophets the rulers of the synagogue sent unto them, saying, Ye men and brethren, if ye have any word of exhortation for the people, say on.
The Law and the Prophets
MEN speak of the Scriptures as Jewish writings, and such they are, but they have a higher and more significant title given to them by Paul. The apostle styles them "the oracles of God" (Rom. iii. 2). If Paul had simply called them "Oracles," their reliability and truth would have been a very safe deduction, but "Oracles of God" is a significantly descriptive statement, which places their character far beyond deduction.
Truly there are a few apparent difficulties in the Scriptures, but shall we, because of these, pronounce the Oracles of God to be wholly or partly untrue? Common sense cries "No!" Let us rather heed Paul's warning to rightly divide the word of truth.
The Scriptures being the Oracles of God, it is appropriate to speak of them, as Paul did (but not otherwise), as the Word of God (Acts xx. 32; 2 Cor. iv. 2). That the Bible was regarded by Paul as divine is further made certain by his method of action in believing
"all things which are written in the law, and in the prophets" (Acts xxiv. 14);
and in his affirming that
"whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning" (Rom. xv. 4).
Bro AT Jannaway
The Christadelphian, July 1898.
22 And when he had removed him, he raised up unto them David to be their king; to whom also he gave testimony, and said, I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfil all my will.
David, "A Man After God's Own Heart"
How could David be called "a man after God's own heart," when he was a murderer and adulterer, and died with vindictive words in his mouth towards Shimei, Joab, and others?
Answer.—A "man after God's own heart" is a man who answers to the definition given by God Himself:
"To this man will I look, to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word."—(Isaiah 66:2.)
David answered exactly to this description. God's word in anything commanded his profoundest reverence and regard; and when convinced of wrong-doing, he was penitent to the utmost abasement. He would not sanction the killing of Saul by Abishai, because Saul was the Lord's anointed.—(1 Sam. 26:9–11.)
He made instant confession and reparation in the matter of Uriah the Hittite. Towards God he was "as a little child," while, towards man, he was "a mighty man of valour." When he sinned, he confessed and forsook his sins. Thus he was a man after God's own heart.
In considering his directions to Solomon concerning Shimei, Joab, &c., it must be remembered that David sat in the seat of judgment for God, and that the men in question had sinned against God in the several matters of their offence. If David had been personally vindictive, he would not have spared them as he did. As absolute monarch of Israel, under God, he had the power to take away their lives, which he would have done if characterised by the disposition suggested in the question.
Instead of that, he allowed them to live so long as he himself was alive, but left the judicial punishment of their crimes to the wisdom of Solomon.
The Christadelphian, April 1873
22 And when he had removed him, he raised up unto them David to be their king; to whom also he gave testimony, and said, I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfil all my will.
God made special manifestation of Himself to David, as is so marvellously revealed in the inspired Psalms. David was called the man after God's own heart. He was not perfect. He had weaknesses and failures and serious mistakes.
"They that are whole have no need of a physician" (Mark 2:17).
But he had an intense, continuous consciousness of the reality and closeness of God. The basic pattern of his life was a mighty faith that feared nothing, and a close, mutual communion with God. And when he failed, he humbled and redeemed himself, and accepted lifelong tragedy with undiminished love for the chastening Hand.
Let us read the Psalms over and over. They give the inner soul of the man who, in great tribulation, found peace in God: the man to whom God was an over-whelming, ever-present, personal reality- "a man after God's Own heart."
Whenever there has been a special closeness to God, and manifestation by God, there has always been greater testing and trial. Where much is given, much is expected.
"God chasteneth every son whom He receiveth" (Hebrews 12:6).
"If a branch bring forth fruit, He purgeth it that it may bring forth more fruit." (John 15:2).
The lives of such men as Moses, David, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Nehemiah, had great sorrows and difficulties and losses and disappointment; but also great satisfaction in closeness and service to God, as useful parts of the eternal purpose of ultimate Divine manifestation in and through mankind.
Bro Growcott - Mercy
24 When John had first preached before his coming the baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel.
The Baptism of John
"John and Jesus were both 'made under the Law,' though for a different purpose: and were both co-workers in the proclamation of the Gospel of the Kingdom, and in the immersion of all who believed what they preached for remission of sins.
The belief of their converts was characterised by the development in them of an Abrahamic disposition and mode of thinking-(Rom. 4:18-22, Luke 1:17),-which, in their submitting to immersion, were counted to them for 'Repentance:' and by the immersion of such as its subjects, characterised the immersion as the
'Baptism of Repentance for the remission of sins.'
"The times' were constituted of a divine cycle by the Mosaic law.
'The law and the prophets were until John,'-(Luke 16:16)
-that is, 'they prophesied' or preached, until John, in being read every Saturday or Sabbath day, in the synagogue-(Matt. 11:13; Acts 15:21);-but 'since that time'-since the beginning of John's proclamation, 'the kingdom of God is preached.'
The beginning of John's preaching was 'the beginning of the gospel,' not simply of Christ, which was set forth in the law and the prophets,-(Rom. 1:2, 3)-but 'of Jesus Christ, Son of the Deity,'-(Mark 1:1)-by the Messenger sent before Him.
The Johannist voice in the wilderness proclaiming the approaching manifestation to Israel of Yah, Yahweh, Ail of salvation'-(Is. 12:2; 26:4)-in the flesh. John said, 'I am not He, but am sent before Him;' Jesus said, 'I am He.'
John preached till thrown into prison; then Jesus carried on the work without him, assisted by the Twelve and the Seventy. The conjoint ministry of John and Jesus was the work of Daniel's Seventieth week, which ended at the crucifixion-it was the confirmation of the Abrahamic or New Covenant for many-(Dan. 9:27; Rom. 15:8)-and consummated in the cutting off of Messiah the Prince. There was nothing like this in all the previous times of the Law. It was a novel procedure altogether; it was decidedly 'an innovation upon the times in which he lived.'
'If so, how is it that no objection was ever made to it?'
There is no recorded objection, it is true; we may therefore suppose that there was none.
One reason then may have been, because 'he came in the spirit and power of Elijah,' however they may have been manifested; because therefore and secondly, all the people held John for a prophet-(Matt 21:26)-; thirdly, they were all on the tiptoe of expectation for the speedy appearance of Christ, and would be pre-disposed to hear what he had to say, especially as his ministry did not supersede the necessity of continued observances of the Law; and fourthly, although John did no miracles, they beheld a grand confirmation of his mission at the baptism of Jesus, in the descent upon him of the Spirit-Dove, and the voice of recognition from the excellent glory, declaring him to be the Son of God.
Still, there were some that objected, saying 'He hath a demon' (Matt. 11:18)."
Ambassador of the Coming Age, Feb 1869
26 Men and brethren, children of the stock of Abraham, and whosoever among you feareth God, to you is the word of this salvation sent.
SUMMARY OF ABRAHAM'S FAITH
Abraham is the father of all them who believe, and who walk in the steps of that faith which he had while yet uncircumcised. This is the apostle's testimony. I think I need scarcely say, yet it may be useful to do so, that no one can walk in the steps of Abraham's faith who does not believe the same things. This is self-evident. It is to be to Abraham according to his faith; and this is the rule for every one else. We shall inherit what we have faith in. If we have an understanding faith in the truth, we shall inherit the truth; but if we believe in what is not true, and therefore visionary, we shall inherit nothing but the whirlwind.
Now, if it be asked, "What is Me truth?" -- the answer is the things which Abraham believed, with the acknowledgment that Jesus is the Seed spoken of in the promises made to him. It is, therefore, essential to our salvation that we be familiar with the matters of his faith. To make this as easy as possible, then, I shall here subjoin a summary of the faith which was counted to him for righteousness. I would just remind the reader here, that Abraham was justified because he believed on God.
This does not mean, because he believed in the existence of God. This is. implied. To believe on God in the Scripture sense is the
"being fully persuaded that what He has promised He is also able to perform"
and because this was the case with Abraham,
"therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness."
Furthermore, this persuasion does not consist in saying, "whatever it is God has promised I know not, but of this I am persuaded, He will perform it." This is not the sort of persuasion God accepts. He requires men to acquaint themselves first with what He has promised, and then to consult the testimony He has given until they are fully persuaded as Abraham was. "Now," says the apostle,
"it was not written for Abraham's sake alone, that his full persuasion of the Divine promise was counted to him for righteousness; but for us also to whom it shall be imputed if we believe on God."
In studying the life of Abraham his biography presents him --
1. As an idolater under condemnation with the world;
2. As a believer of the Gospel preached by an angel of the Lord;
3. As justified from all past sins by faith in its promises; and
4. As justified by works unto eternal life.
These four particulars are affirmable of all Abraham's spiritual children. Born of the flesh they are denizens of the world, and heirs of condemnation; then they believe the gospel; afterwards they are justified by faith from past sins; and subjected to a subsequent probation by which their faith is tried and made perfect.
It is worthy of remark here, that Abraham believed the gospel ten years before his faith was counted to him for righteousness. This appears from the fact that the gospel was preached to him at Haran; and it was not until the occasion of the confirmation of the covenant at Hebron, that the Lord vouchsafed him an acquittal from all his past sins; which is implied in the testimony that
"he believed in the Lord; and he counted it to him for righteousness."
This fact ought to teach the reader, that it is not at the instant a man believes that he is justifled. A man may believe the truth for many years, and yet not be the subject of
the righteousness of God. If so, it may then be asked, "When, or at what point of time, and how is a man's faith in the truth counted to him for remission of sins?
As to the manner of its imputation, this must necessarily differ from the case of Abraham. The angel of the Lord announced to Abraham his justification by word of mouth; but under the present arrangement of things, this is not to be expected. The angel sent to Cornelius did not pronounce his justification; but simply put him in the way of attaining it. I trust the reader has not forgotten the use of the key in his case.
The Scriptures say that through Jesus is now preached the remission of sins to those who believe the gospel of the kingdom; and that justification by faith is through His name. That is, God has appointed an institution through which remission of sins is communicated to believers of the things of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus: so that instead of sending an angel to announce to each individual that his faith is counted to him for righteousness, as in the case of Abraham, He has caused a general proclamation to be made, that "through Chrisl's name" believers may obtain the remission of sins.
Now, there is but one way for a believer of the gospel to get at this name, to wit, by being
"baptized into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit."
The answer to the question, then, is this, that a man's faith in the gospel is counted lo him for righteousness in the act of being baptised into the name. There is no other way than this, and even a believer of the truth will die in his sins unless he submit to it.
Elpis Israel ii.2.4.
27 For they that dwell at Jerusalem, and their rulers, because they knew him not, nor yet the voices of the prophets which are read every sabbath day, they have fulfilled them in condemning him.
Paul quoted the Scriptures as proof
as unquestionable and divine proof. His custom was to reason out of them, but never to add to them nor to take from them (Acts 17:2: 26:22-23).
The apostle was no sympathiser with the notion, prevalent in our day, that the Scriptures are only true in the main; that the detail, the so-called unimportant parts, are studded with verbal and other inaccuracies. We have already seen what Paul's direct teaching was concerning the Spirit-authorship of the Scriptures, and have also seen some of his indirect allusions to the Scriptures which confirm that teaching (Vol. xxxvi; pp. 182, 260).
Let us now consider other references. Let us take the apostle's repeated statement that the Scriptures were the work of the prophets (Rom. 1:2: 16:26; Acts 13:27, 40), hearing in mind that the term "prophet" is no mere casual, empty title, but one fraught with deep meaning.
Let us linger long on his manner of citing Scripture-his meaningful
"It is written," "As it is written," "The Scripture saith," "What saith the scriptures?" "According to the scriptures," "Wot ye not what the Scriptures saith?"
Let us also note that his quotations cover all the features of the sacred book-prophecy, history, exhortation, the record of the principles upon which God acts, His will and purpose, etc.
As we have before said, Paul's contention was that "whatsoever things were written" were written for our instruction (Rom. 15:4; 1 Cor. 10:11). Although Moses, or David, or some other of the prophets, might have been the scribe, yet, in Paul's estimation, God was behind the writer, moving or controlling his work.
How else is it possible to account for such authoritative assertions as
"The scripture hath concluded all under sin" (Gal. 3:22), "The scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham" (Gal. 3:8)?
Bro AT Jannaway
The Christadelphian, Sept 1900
32 And we declare unto you glad tidings, how that the promise which was made unto the fathers,
The Gospel is a plurality. It is tidings; not an item of news: but "things" called
"good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people,"
and one of the good things is, that Christ shall reign on the throne of his father David over Israel and the nations for a thousand years.
Herald of the Kingdom and Age to Come, Sept 1853.
Why should salvation be connected with the setting up of a Kingdom more than anything else?
The reason why human redemption is so indissolubly connected with the establishment of this Divine kingdom is, because men bear the relation of revolted subjects from their original allegiance to God, who, as the Governor of the Universe, has a right to the dutiful and loyal service of all his rational creatures.
But man used his free agency to break loose from under this kind, paternal restraint, and to yield his submission to a power of Sin, called in the Bible
"the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world," the great adversary of truth and righteousness "who leads men captive at his will," 2 Tim. 2:25, 27; "the powers of darkness;" "the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now works in the children of disobedience," Eph. 5:2.
Into the controversy whether these names are applied to a real personal being, or only in a figurative manner to the principles of sin in the aggregate, we do not enter; but it amounts to the same thing in either case-that men are subjects to the kingdom of Satan, or the dominion of sin-not to that of God; and the whole object of redemption is to
"translate us from this power of darkness into the kingdom of God's dear Son," Col. 1:13,
to reestablish the divine government in the world. Thus, as it is sin and rebellion that separates man from God, and interferes with the regal authority of the Creator, it must be destroyed out of the way, and mankind restored to become obedient and happy subjects again.
Herald of the Kingdom and Age to Come, Jan 1859
35 Wherefore he saith also in another psalm, Thou shalt not suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.
What would have been the consequence had Christ died a natural death?
Answer.-Without doubt, 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.
"If Christ be not raised your faith is vain, and ye are yet in your sins."
But a natural death would not have been the same trial of Christ's obedience as his crucifixion. It pleased God to make the captain of our salvation perfect through suffering (1). He was obedient unto (submission to) death, even the death on the cross. 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.
38 Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins:
The sin of Adam and the righteousness of Christ are subjects upon which Christendom is altogether astray. God neither imputes the one nor the other to men.
The attribution of one man's act to another is neither rational nor just...
So far as Adam's offence is concerned, his descendants are not in any way guilty; they simply suffer the consequences of his sin, so in the case of Christ's righteousness. Men are privileged to reap the benefits of Christ's moral perfection, but that perfection is not theirs, nor can it be.
The saints are pardoned sinners, and such they will ever remain. They are forgiven for Christ's sake, and are enjoined to remember it. To regard ourselves, by any kind of mental manœuvring, as being perfect, as Christ was, is dishonouring to Christ and injurious to ourselves.
Bro AT Jannaway
The Christadelphian, July 1900
42 And when the Jews were gone out of the synagogue, the Gentiles besought that these words might be preached to them the next sabbath.
This verse simply states that certain Gentiles besought Paul to preach to them the next Sabbath. These were, evidently, unbelieving Gentiles. Hence they would have no predilections either one way or the other on the Sabbath question. The synagogue, a purely Jewish institution, would probably be open on that day only. So that the Gentiles would conclude that they could only hear Paul on that day.
Bro J. J. Andrew.
The Christadelphian, July 1872
46 Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles.
A class of professors
The unlearned reader may perhaps think that there is some terrible and disgraceful charge embodied in this awfully doggish word—doggish in sound, if not in signification. It is rarely used in a complimentary sense, yet it is a very good word in itself, and expresses what all intelligent and honest men ought to be who know the truth.
A dogmatist is "a bold advancer of principles;" and one who asserts positively, and teaches magisterially. A dogma is an established principle; and he that asserts it positively is a dogmatist and a dogmatizer.
...we hold the doctrine of Christ to be well-defined and established; that we understand it: and do positively assert, and are certain that we can prove the assertion by a fair and candid use of the scriptures, that he who believes the gospel of the kingdom and is immersed shall be saved.
...The New Testament is our standard of Christ[adelphian] men and things; and in its pages we find no example of a Christ[adelphian] after Pentecost, who had not been buried in real water into the death of Christ.
This is incontrovertible...
Herald of the Kingdom and Age to Come, Mar 1861
Paul and the rest of the apostles, testified that Jesus, whom they had crucified, was the King whom God had anointed to be the Judge of Israel in His kingdom, of which they were natural born citizens.
They had been constituted "a kingdom of priests, and a holy nation" by the covenant of Sinai; and had on that occasion accepted Yahweh as their King. They were therefore the kingdom of God.
In after ages, they had demanded a king who might go in and out before them. He gave them David; and promised to raise up from among his descendants, sleeping in the tomb, a King, who should be immortal, and reign over them for ever, according to the provisions of a new constitution.
Now, the apostles testified that God had raised up Jesus from among the dead for this very purpose, and had sent them to the Jews first, to inform them that if they desired to reign as princes over Israel and the nations with His King, it was not enough for them to be natural born descendants of Abraham; but that they must acknowledge Jesus as King of Israel, and walk in the steps of Abraham's faith.
They testified furthermore, that if they would not acknowledge Him as their King, seeing that the kingdom and empire of God would require kings and priests to administer its affairs, they would turn to the Gentiles, and invite them to accept the honour and glory of the kingdom, upon terms of perfect equality with Israel; for so the Lord had commanded them to do.
This mortified the Jews exceedingly. They despised Jesus because of His poverty, and ignominious death. A suffering and crucified king was a reproach to the nation in their esteem; and to be put on a level with Gentiles, whom they regarded as "dogs," filled them with indignation and madness against the preachers of such pestilent heresies.
But it was the apostolic mission to withstand their fury with "the testimony of God," and to establish their preaching by what is written in the law of Moses and the prophets, and by what they had seen and heard, and which was attested by the power of God exhibited in the miracles they performed.
We have, then, arrived at a great truth, namely, that the "one hope of the gospel" preached by the apostles to the Jew first, and afterwards to the Greek, was "the hope of Israel;" that the subject of it was the kingdom of God and Shiloh; and that these were the matter of the promise made to the fathers.
Elpis Israel 2.1.
48 And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed.
Our discovery of the way of salvation was not accidental
It may seem so when we merely look at the apparently natural means which led to our knowledge and reception of the truth-the Christadelphian leaflet picked up by the wayside, the Twelve Lectures bought at the second-hand book-stall, the lecture quite casually attended-but appearances are altogether misleading in this matter.
Our standing in the truth is due to the kind but unseen intervention of God on our behalf. God is not uninterested in man's salvation-He is no cold looker-on at the truth-lover's learning and embracing of the Gospel.
His hand may not be seen, but He is ever intelligently working for the well-being of God-fearers. In the first century men and women who were able to receive and prize the truth were remembered and cared for (Acts 2:47: 13:48).
Will not like-minded men and women be similarly treated now? If God has "much people" in any place He will soon create and develop the means to enlighten them.
The Christadelphian, July 1900
52 And the disciples were filled with joy, and with the Holy Spirit.
How often it is that adversity dulls the cravings for worldly things and sharpens the pleasures of divine joy! We are many times told how the disciples found this unearthly joy in the midst of trouble and distress.
Those things which naturally seem to be blessings-ease, luxury, comfort, prosperity, and men speaking well of us-usually prove the greatest dangers and pitfalls and yield a large harvest of sorrow; while those things that are shunned and despised by men- toil, distress, persecution, necessity, and the opposition of the world-are rich, fruitful soil for the seeds of divine joy and peace.
Why is it so? Why is prosperity degenerating to us? Why are times of luxury always times of laxity? Why does it take tribulation, as Paul says, to work patience and godliness (Rom. 5:3)? Why must we
"through much tribulation enter the Kingdom of God"
The answer lies in our very constitution. That which gratifies the flesh stifles the spirit. The more the flesh, with its lusts and ambitions and pleasures, is catered to, the more sickly the spirit becomes. In proportion as the eye of lust is satiated, the eye of faith is dimmed. The more we have, the harder it is to regard it as nothing, which we must do.
Therefore Christ said on one occasion, as he sorrowfully watched the rich young ruler depart,
"How hardly shall a man that hath riches enter the kingdom!"
Christ was not angry or bitter-rather he loved the young man (we are told) and was sorry, intensely sorry, for him. Only one thing he lacked! He had faith; he had an earnest desire to follow Christ; he tried to be righteous in all he did (Mark 10:20); he had enthusiasm and zeal. All this is clearly shown by the narrative.
A poor man with the same qualities would have had no difficulty in deciding. We are distinctly told that it was his possessions that stood in his way and were the basis of his only shortcoming. Therefore Christ was sorry for him.
The young man was no worse than many others. Doubtless he was far more earnest and honest than most, but his trial was great and he yielded to it. The flesh offered so much, so easily, and without delay-the present was so bright that the future was dimmed and obscured.
Therefore, says Paul, we must through much tribulation enter the Kingdom. It takes tribulation to wrench us out of spiritual indolence-to give us clear perceptions of the flesh and spirit-to turn our minds and hopes and aspirations to a higher, firmer level-to teach us the vanity and insecurity of present satisfactions.
Bro Growcott - Through Much Tribulation