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1 And certain men which came down from Judaea taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved.
There was; at the time, a tendency of Jewish believers to incline toward keeping the Law of Moses; to nationalism; to be swayed by Judaistic doctrine, claiming that it was obligatory and necessary for the Law of Moses to be kept in every respect for salvation.
Therefore these Judaising believers had to be restrained and be shown their teaching was erroneous and would destroy the faith in Christ and the real meaning of his sacrifice. It was obvious at the Jerusalem Conference (Acts 15) that there was a force of Jewish believers endeavouring to superimpose the Law of Moses as being essential to justification, so that the rituals of strict observance of the letter of the Law began to submerge the Truth.
Christ was being overshadowed by Moses as their ardour and zeal for the Law started to replace faith in Christ. This had to be stopped for the sake of their salvation.
There was a need to reinforce the ecclesia in the Truth, giving a right balance, by showing that, whatever the Law was, and whatever it taught, there was a "better" counterpart in Christ.
Judaistic teachings and their implications had to be powerfully countered as the apostle had done throughout his ministry. The harshness of his attitude might even turn some away completely from the Law and encourage them to adopt an extreme attitude against it. This would have destroyed the important principles contained in the Law, which remained
"a schoolmaster leading them to Christ" (Gal. 3:24);
it was, after all, a system of righteousness pointing to the need for a redeemer and advocate for all seeking true and eternal justification.
Therefore there remained an urgent need to show the supremacy of Christ over the Law; of the New Covenant over the Old; without detracting from the true reasons and purpose of the Law.
18 Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world.
This was said in relation to a certain purpose not yet accomplished; but quoted by the apostle in justification of the admission of believers from among the Gentiles, to fellow-citizenship with the saints of the Commonwealth of Israel; upon the principle of "calling upon the Name of the Lord," without the observance of ordinances peculiar to the Jews. Amos 9:11, 12; Acts 15:18; Eph. 2:19.
Herald of the Kingdom and Age to Come, Feb 1855.
As to shot pheasants and pigeons, you probably class them with "things strangled," and therefore have a scruple as to eating under Acts xv. 20. Well, there is no hardship in abstaining, though probably if Paul were alive he would say you might eat. The forbidding of blood had reference to blood drained out as a liquid - a common thing for the heathen to eat. Paul makes light of what we eat and drink, provided it all be done in wisdom and gratitude and to the glory of God.TC 10/1894
29 That ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication: from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well. Fare ye well.
Prostitution, and eating the sacrifices offered to the idol-representations of the dead, whose souls were said to be alive, were institutions of Baal-Religion. When Israel were seduced by the Moabitish women to worship Baal, at the suggestion of Balaam, they committed whoredom with them, and ate the sacrifices of their gods. The Balaamite clergy were guilty of the same thing. They privily introduced idolatrous practices among christians. They taught them to eat of the sacrifices sold as holy meat, by which they became partakers of the idol-altars, and propitiated the heathen, for in so doing, they contributed to the support of the pagan priesthood. But Paul objected to this sort of compromise in toto.
His argument was, that the things the Gentiles sacrificed they sacrificed to demons, to the ghosts of dead men, and not to God; and that in eating of them knowingly, they had fellowship with their imaginary demons. He told them that when they went to the butcher's they should ask no question, but just buy whatever came to hand. They would then buy in ignorance, having no knowledge whether there was sacrificial meat or not. But if any one said, "this is offered in sacrifice to idols," he told them not to eat it, for the eating then involved a principle of fellowship with deified ghosts, in the judgment of him who invited to eat.
Paul's anxiety was that the Corinthian brethren should "not have fellowship with demons," or deified imaginary ghosts, called "immortal souls." These demons had a table and a cup, as well as the Lord; and Paul taught that they could not partake of both without sin. The same demons have a table and a cup now, modified, however, in this, that bread cut up into pieces, emblematic of the divisions of antichristendom, is substituted for meats offered to the demons.
The table spread by the clergy, and called by them "the sacrament," is the modern table of the demons. It is the table of those who believe in deified immortal souls, who are the gods of the clerical system. It is Jezebel's table, at which a saint cannot eat without having fellowship with the demons she funeralizes to glory, which is sin. Her churches are a synagogue of unbaptized "miserable sinners," as they proclaim themselves to be in their prayers, and consequently, her table cannot be the Lord's, for his teaching has no place for such there -- the miserable patrons of demons belong to Jezebel, not to the spouse of Christ.
32 And Judas and Silas, being prophets also themselves, exhorted the brethren with many words, and confirmed them.
When a physican is successful in prolonging a patient's life, his services are regarded as invaluable. How far more important are the services of one who helps his neighbour to reach the life that knows no ending!
The kind word, the sympathetic shake of the hand, the quiet, patient, consistent walk, the homely but hearty exhortation, the sowing of the seed by means of word, tract or pamphlet, become when looked at in this way very weighty matters.
Let us ever keep the object of our work in view-the work of preparing ourselves and others for life eternal. If our intended word or action is not calculated to advance this end, let us repress it. If we cannot help, do not let us hinder. Let us beware of discouraging others by receiving their labours in a carping, fault-finding spirit.
Criticism is good if used kindly, wisely and justly. If by criticising, no laudable purpose is to be served, then let us refrain from it. Those who employ their time in condemning the work of their fellow-labourers are not the ones to do much towards building the temple of God.
The future will, unquestionably, open out wonderful revelations in regard to this. When the time comes for God to glorify His elect, we shall see to whose instrumentality their enlightenment, edification and success have been due-whether those whose constant endeavour it has been to unhinge everybody and everything, or of the feeble, unassuming, industrious, plodding, faithful servants of Christ.
Bro AT Jannaway
The Christadelphian, Oct 1887