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2 To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ which are at Colosse: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
"Adelphois en Christo"- Brethren in Christ. And this epistle well defines those who rightly bear this name. IF we truly ARE conforming ourselves to the marvelous spiritual picture it presents, we ARE Christadelphians.
Paul first thanks God for the joy and courage that their faith and love gave him. How COULD he have carried on if there had not been SOME evidence of success to his labours - some VISIBLE working of the Spirit, transforming natural, animal men and women into spiritual children of God? There are always a FEW faithful, carrying forward the divine purpose and bearing evidence - amid disappointment and distress - that that great purpose is still alive in the earth.
Bro Growcott - Straight Words to the Colossians
6 Which is come unto you, as it is in all the world; and bringeth forth fruit, as it doth also in you, since the day ye heard of it, and knew the grace of God in truth:
Paul speaks of the Gospel BEARING FRUIT in them - spiritual fruit to God's glory - the pure beauty of the divine mind and character gradually beginning to glow among them, distinguishing them from common, ugly, perishing clay. The details of this fruit and character are brought out throughout the epistle.
The tree that does NOT bring forth fruit, said Jesus, will be cut down and burned (Matt. 7:19). These fruits are real, MEASURABLE things. In the last day God will measure them. He is no respecter of persons.
Treasure in HEAVEN is just as real and PRACTICAL an affair as treasure on earth. It is simply a matter of time, and effort, and desire. In NATURAL things we get results in direct proportion to how long, and how hard, and how carefully we work. When the books are opened at the last great day of account, exactly how LONG and how HARD we have worked for SPIRITUAL things will be found recorded in clear, impartial, unchangeable figures. There will be no argument or appeal. The full record will be there. *
9 For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding;
10 That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God;
You have your limits. You have more mental capacity than some, and less than others. You have more physical capacity than some, and less than others. This is true of everyone except the single one at the top and at the bottom. Much can be done in both categories by exercise, but still there are limits -- and all are different. It is not important.
At his very best and highest, man is still nothing. At worst and lowest, he is still something. What counts eternally is how you use what you have been given, in mental, physical, and circumstantial opportunity. This is your personal stewardship, be it great or small. You will be judged upon it.
God requires your most and best, within your limits. This is what love will be eager and anxious to give and still wish it could give more. Do you have this love and zeal for divine service that makes the difference between life and death? It comes with long study and meditation, and prayer.
It's not a secret or special gift that some just happen to have. It's something all are COMMANDED to develop, and freely shown how. It is spiritual-mindedness, which is life and peace; and there can be neither life nor peace without it. It is not a matter of sudden and shallow emotional excitement, like orthodox "conversion." It is a deep, steady, consistent learning and growing and transforming, and becoming closer and closer to the Divine Perfection.
- Bro Growcott
Don't drift. Don't play. Make all your time sensible and constructive and useful. Play is for children. It is essential for them. Your childhood is over. Grow up. There is plenty of exercise and enjoyment and relaxation in practical and effective work. Eschew the fleshly illusion that time must be wasted to be enjoyed. That's stupid. We have no justification or excuse for wasting God's valuable time in childplay -- for ALL our time is His, for His purpose.
We have solemnly agreed to this. So be honest. Live up to it. You KNOW there is no satisfying peace or joy in slipping back into the vacuous and juvenile play of infancy. Grow up! Press on! Keep your eye on the glorious goal. You have a brief, once-only opportunity to secure eternity. Don't bungle it. Disneyland is for immature and empty minds. It's a dressed up skeleton: a grinning corpse. Look beyond the glitter and tinsel to the cold and dead bones beneath. It's the whole mad world in microcosm: shun it as the plague.
11 Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness;
How is weak, natural, evil flesh to develop spiritual patience? By keeping the mind firmly FIXED ON GOD - His love, His desires, His greatness, His ever presence beside us - and upon that man who perfectly manifested Him. God's great plan is being worked out with infinite, divine patience. If we are to be co-workers with God in developing a holy, eternal community for His glory, PATIENCE is essential.
The Spirit through Isaiah, speaking of Christ, gives a wonderful picture of spiritual patience (42:2-4).
"He shall not cry, nor lift up, nor cause his voice to be heard in the street. A bruised reed shall he not break, and the dimly-burning flax shall he not quench: he shall bring forth judgment and truth. He shall not fail nor be discouraged TILL HE HAVE SET JUDGMENT IN THE EARTH: and the isles shall wait for his law."
A quiet, loving, persistent, IRRESISTIBLE determination for good - never rough, never discouraged. Infinite care to avoid injury, and yet an unswerving adherence to divine principles. That is patience, as exemplified by the Great Example. Paul continues (Col. 1:11)-
". . . patience and longsuffering WITH JOYFULNESS: giving thanks unto the Father."
Paul - beaten with many cruel stripes and chained fast in the inner dungeon at Philippi - could still at midnight JOYFULLY sing praises to God. He had the true and healthy outlook. God does not want a brooding and self-pitying patience. Paul KNEW that ALL things - in the eternal, ultimate reckoning - work together for GOOD for those that truly love God. He KNEW he was faithfully doing God's will and helping forward His purpose and that -regardless of the present - time would reward his efforts and justify his joy.
Joy and thanksgiving are the normal state of the spiritual mind. *
13 Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:
TRANSLATION INTO THE KINGDOM.
Now, being in the ignorance, or darkness, of the gospel's adversary, the Gentiles could at no subsequent period become "light in the Lord," or be in the light, unless they were "delivered" from their ignorance, and consequently its powers, and "translated into" the light of the gospel of the kingdom. The apostle saith, that the Colossian Gentiles had been the subjects of this deliverance and translation, by which they had "put off the old man with his deeds, and had put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge (or light), after the image of him that created him"-Colossians 3: 9-10-they were therefore in the new man, having put him on.
But, the original word rendered "translated," does not require 'into' after it to give it its full force and signification. The verb of which it is the first aorist is methisteemi, and signifies "to move from one place to another, remove, transfer." By metonymy it also signifies, "to cause to pass from one mode of thinking to another, and to cause to change sides." The Colossians had changed their position, as the result of their mode of thinking, being changed by the knowledge sent them from God through Paul's preaching.
Formerly, they thought as the children of disobedience think; now, their thinking was according to the mind of God; then they were in darkness; now they were in the light; then they worshipped in the temples of dumb idols; now in the assemblies of the saints: they had passed over from the adversary unto the hope of the kingdom of God's dear Son. Having come, therefore, unto this, the apostle encourages them to hold on to it, assuring them that Christ would present them holy, and unblameable, and unreprovable in God's sight; "if," says he, "ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven" -Colossians 1: 22.
Herald of the Kingdom and Age to Come, Feb 1853
22 In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight:
The goal is very high. The POWER is God's but the APPLICATION of it is up to us. Complete devotion to His Word is the way. The power lies there in abundance, waiting for the few wise who will heed, but He will not force it upon any.
"Warning every man, that we may present every man PERFECT" (Col. 1:28).
To the Ephesians he said (Acts 20:31) that for the space of THREE YEARS he had ceased not NIGHT AND DAY to warn everyone WITH TEARS. There certainly must be very GRAVE DANGER of failure, if such incessant and urgent warnings are necessary! Are we SURE we are fully alive to the deceptiveness of the danger that threatens us? "Narrow is the way, and FEW there be that find it" - but those few DO find it, and all others COULD if they were willing to make the necessary effort.
NO EASY SLIDING INTO GLORY
The warning is to seek FIRST the Kingdom of God - to make SURE of that ONE thing to the sacrifice of everything else. It is quite possible to ALL - but only with the utmost effort. There will be no easy sliding into glory. A constant, tearful warning is needed against the Truth-choking concerns of this life and the deceitfulness of treasure on earth. *
* Bro Growcott - Straight Words to the Colossians
23 If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister;
To be "in Christ" is to remain in him. The brother who turns traitor to the truth is not regarded by Christ as "in him" (John xv. 6; viii. 31; 2 Cor. xiii. 5; Heb. iii. 6; 1 John ii. 28).
TC July 1894. p302
The Bible representation of human nature is found experimentally to be true - that man is dark left to his native resources; that there is no good in him by nature; that light comes from without; that there is no light but Christ; that this light, by the Gospel, heard, understood, believed and obeyed, shines into the inner man, and constitutes the recipients children of light; yet that the reception of this light does not save him unless it remains with him; that there is danger of its not remaining; that man is weak; that he is liable to "let slip" the "things which he has heard"; that he is in danger of being hardened through the deceitfulness of sin, and departing from the living God; drawing back into perdition, after having run well for a while.
Nothing is more plainly revealed than that it is he who endureth to the end that is to be saved; that it is they who hold fast the beginning of their confidence and rejoicing of the hope, steadfast unto the end, that are to be made partakers of Christ; that the man not keeping in memory the Gospel, not remaining grounded and settled, but being moved away from the hope of the Gospel, will fail in entering into the kingdom of God.
Bro Roberts - Light and darkness, Seasons 1:31.
We do not belong to the party that either plays with the truth, or doubts the truth, or unsettles the truth by perpetual surmise and so-called "investigation". We belong to those with whom the truth is a settled thing, and whose sole aim is to apply it, either in the enlightenment of the stranger, the comfort of the believer, or the purification of the obedient. We endorse absolutely the position taken up by Dr. Thomas, when he said:-
"Christadelphianism is a term representative of the system of the truth taught by the written word concerning Christ and his brethren. It represents the truth disinterred from the rubbish of clerical and denominational tradition, and sufficiently developed for all practical purposes connected with the remission of sins and eternal life. This is the great spiritual feature of the time of the end-the great light which shines upon the dark peoples of Britain and America...The scheme of human redemption has been brought out in all its particulars and scriptural proportions.
It is not now a matter of search or discussion.
What it is, is known to the initiated, who need not now to waste their energies in vain speculations and bootless investigation. They know what the truth is, and need not vex themselves in discussing the vagaries of mere novices who, like silly women, are ever learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth...They repudiate everlasting investigation, which implies search after the unknown. Periodicals that are always investigating are nuisances and not worth the postage. The apostacy abounds with these. They discuss everything and settle nothing...Such investigating periodicals are of no use to genuine Christadelphians.
These wisely seek to digest what they already have,
that they may not remain babes and weaklings all their lives."
Robert Roberts, 'The Christadelphian' October 1892 page 388.
If ye continue in the faith
WE are on probation-a probation which must one day end
Will it end in victory or defeat? This depends upon whether we are mindful of those little "ifs," which are providentially scattered here and there throughout the Scriptures:
"If we faint not"-"If we keep his commandments"-"If we walk in the light"-
"If we continue in the faith."
Are we helpless in the matter of these "ifs"? Have we or have we not a voice in meeting their requirements? Is the doctrine right which says that, if we are born to be saved, we shall be saved, and cannot help it; and if born to be damned, we are equally helpless?
No, this plausible, pleasing, popular doctrine is wrong-dangerously wrong. Fatalism is one of Christendom's deadly errors. Let us take care lest it insidiously take root in our weak and all-too-impressionable hearts. Let us think well before we excuse ourselves with a "cannot help it."
How does the matter stand according to the Scriptures? Moses thus expresses it:
"I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life"
What was said to the Jews is, in substance, said to Gentiles. To choose implies the action of free-will. The Scriptures do not trifle-they do not mock us. Our free-will may be bounded by limitations, and well that it is, but we have sufficient to obey or disobey-sufficient to establish a ground on which God can righteously bless or curse, save or destroy.
The psalmist's view is a right one, and his example is safe:
"I have chosen the way of truth"-"I will run the way of thy commandments"
(Ps. 119:30, 32).
Yes, it is a question of "I will" or "I will not." Let our choice be the wise one, and, having decided, let us cheerfully press onwards.
Bro AT Jannaway
The Christadelphian, June 1902