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7 Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving.
The Christadelphian has lasted much longer than we imagined possible at the beginning; but it will certainly not be for ever. One of these days, it is certain to stop, either by the Editor having finished his days and his ways, or by the Judge of all the earth having arrived on the scene, to render to every man according to his works, in spite of all scoffing sneers. But till then, while the Editor keeps his senses, the Christadelphian will continue to be what it has been. If some non-sympathetic friends, in the wealth of an elastic and adjustable vocabulary, consider this is obstinacy, muleheadedness, and Egyptian mummification, we beg to remind them that there is another version, and that the other version may be the correct one.
There is such a thing as being "established in the faith," as being "grounded and settled," as "holding fast to the form of sound words delivered at the beginning." There is such a thing as full assurance of faith, and standing fast and striving for the faith of the Gospel; and such a thing as being steadfast and immoveable, contending earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints.
These apostolic features, while compatible with growth in knowledge (which is not a change of foundation but a development on an unchanging foundation) are not compatible with that restless and fickle state of mind that is ever on the alert for the sensation of novelty, and which consequently is "ever learning and never able to come to a knowledge of the truth," because flying from position to position, instead of retaining position after position till the whole situation is covered. We moored to the stabilities forty years ago, and we cannot ship with those who prefer to be on the drift.
We distinctly refuse to regard the truth as a thing requiring to be investigated. It is a thing that has been discovered, fully discovered, finally discovered. The business in hand is the business of applying it. The apostles did not go about asking, "What is truth?" That was a heathen's question. The apostles occupied themselves in preaching the truth. This is the business of all who follow the apostles.
Though the apostles are dead, the truth they proclaimed is not dead. It survived them, and has been preserved during all the ages since in a divinely written form, from which we can learn it. In the goodness of God we have been permitted to learn it, first by Dr. Thomas pointing us to the records, and secondly by a daily and unintermitting intimacy with these records ever since. If some do not know it, or doubt it, or are dim about it, let them not insist on others getting down into the bog where they flounder. If they won't allow those who stand on the firm ground to help them out, let them at least cease their invitations for the people on the firm ground to come down into the welter where they are. Their invitations will be regarded only by the simple. Wise men will shut their ears.
"Hear the other side" is a plausible motto; but it is only applicable when men have not made up their minds, or are ignorant of the other side. When men have embraced the faith of our Lord Jesus, they have made up their minds, and, as a rule, men do not make up their minds until they have seen all round the subject. When they have done this, they feel it is trifling with them to ask them to hear the other side. They will even indignantly refuse the invitations. There is a time for everything. Everlasting investigation is not the function of enlightened conviction. It is only the office of everlasting uncertainty and developes everlasting muddle and unsettlement.
Everlasting listening to the truth is everlasting upbuilding, comfort, and growth.
The history of the last 40 years sufficiently illustrates the working of the two systems. "Discussing everything and settling nothing" has produced in some quarters a race of spiritual starvelings, lean and bony, and cold and sharp, and in many cases scarcely alive, and in some cases actually dead-twice dead, plucked up by the roots.
If there is any healthy saintship on earth at the present moment-fair and comely and well-favoured, glorifying God and blessing man by the abundance of the fruits of the Spirit-in all faith and confidence, and zeal and joy and love, it is to be found where the truth has been preached as the apostles preached it, not as a thing of root hunting and scholastic disputation, but as a thing of broad demonstration of fact and faith for the purification and comfort of men.
There is a great difference between crotchets and "the glorious Gospel of the blessed God." To the latter the Christadelphian is devoted: the former it notices only enough to brush the wasps off. For the support of all who are in love with this rational policy, we shall be thankful. To the opposition and condemnation of the other class, we have been accustomed from the beginning, and will continue to endeavour in all patience to endure it-frown friend or smile foe. Reason has hoisted her banner, from which nothing in this dispensation can draw or drive us.
The Christadelphian, Oct 1894. p394
11 In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ:
God has been pleased to make advances: it is those advances that sinners must receive and adjust themselves to.
The nature of them is indicated in this Mosaic parable. There stands the tabernacle in the midst of its court--formed by the white curtains of righteousness. Righteousness is that only which God considers right. People not in harmony with this--who neither know nor conform to His revealed will--are by the sheer necessity of things outside the encampment of reconciliation, which He has set up in the earth in Christ.
Even when they see this and want to enter, circumcision is required. In the case of the Jew after the flesh, circumcision of the flesh was the sufficient part in the shadow of things. But in the substance of all this shadow, there must be circumcision of heart' the cutting off of "the desires of the flesh and of the mind" as the rule of life--and the recognition of God's choice, God's appointment, God's invitation, God himself--as the only basis of approach' "circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ" (Col. 2:11).
As we look at the shadow again, we see circumcised men approach "the door of the congregation" with something in their hands: either a lamb or a kid of the goats, or it may be, leading a sheep or bullock or goat or heifer. Their circumcision is not enough' they must offer sacrifice to be accepted. This is connected with the leading feature of the court, inside the gate--the great altar of sacrifice--"hollow with boards"--a temporary structure covered with brass, and measuring about eight feet long and broad, and nearly five feet high from the ground, with horns at the four corners on which to bind the heaped-up sacrifices with cords; and four rings for the insertion of staves to carry it when on travel; a brazen net-work underneath to give free action to the consuming fire: and accessory utensils--such as pots, shovels, basins, flesh hooks, fire-pans,--all made of brass (Exod. 38:1-7).
The language of this part of the type is unmistakable. It tells us that sinful man, even with the utmost docility of spiritual circumcision, and desiring to come within the walls of righteousness, cannot approach God acceptably except by sacrifice. What the significance of this is we have often had to consider. In the type, it was an animal, whose life-blood poured out was a confession that God is just in requiring death as the visitation of sin; that He who is so great in the underived and deathless nature and vastness of His being; Who is so unsearchable in the greatness of His Power and the perfection of His wisdom--is righteous in making disobedience and slight a capital offence not to be passed over even by mercy, except when His dreadful sovereign supremacy has been asserted, recognized, and vindicated.
But this terrible truth, which is the basis of all acceptable worship, was only asserted and acknowledged in the shadow when the worshippers under Moses approached with the appointed sacrifice. It had to be enforced in fact as well as in token, before the forbearance of God could grant the remission of sins unto life eternal. Granting life eternal is taking a man into His eternal fellowship without reserve: such abounding grace could only be vouchsafed in connection with the strictest enforcement of His unchallengeable supremacy -- of which He declares Himself "jealous", as is reasonable: for who should be supreme but the Eternal?
He proposed this enforcement in the actual blood-shedding of an actual representative man, in whom the individuality of all other accepted men should be merged in the way appointed in the institutions of the Gospel. And even this man, to be acceptable, had to be faultless as regards the principle that had been set at naught--the principle of absolute submission: though a sufferer from the evil effects springing from its subversion in the first Adam, and its continuing subversion in all his sinful descendants.
Such a man could not be found in the ordinary propagation of flesh and blood. Therefore He had to provide him, which he did in the way recorded in Luke 1:35. It was, therefore, all the work of His own favour (or grace) in subserviency to the indispensable assertion of His own supremacy and holiness.
Law of Moses Ch 16
14 Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;
Because, therefore, the Mosaic law condemned to death those who should disobey any of the ten commandments, or their engrafted corollaries, and because no man was capable of a spotless obedience (save Christ), they were in their totality a "ministration of death, written and engraven in stones"; and had they continued in force against men, their condemnation would have been inevitable and their salvation impossible.
Consequently, it was necessary that they should be "done away", as Paul three times expresses it in 2 Cor. 3:7-14; or "taken out of the way", as he has it in Col. 2:14--not taken out of the way, in the sense of being abandoned as a rule of acceptable behaviour before God, but taken out of the way in the sense of Christ discharging their whole claims in every sense and then dying under the curse of the law of which they formed the kernel or foundation--a law which in another clause enacted "Cursed is he that hangeth on a tree", and therefore cursed Jesus who so hung as Paul declares, "Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is everyone that hangeth on a tree" (Gal. 3:13).
When Christ rose after thus bearing the curse of the law, the law had expended its cursing power on him, and was therefore "taken out of the way" in him, so that all who put on his name and came under his authority in faith and baptism were "free from that law" This is Paul's argument in Rom. 7:1-4, to which the reader is referred. The pith of it is in the assertion of verse 4,
" Ye are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead";
and in the further statement in verse 6, "We are delivered from the law, that (law) being dead wherein we were held". Therefore, as he says in Rom. 6:14, and substantially in Gal. 4 (the whole chapter), "Ye are not under the law, but under grace" (or favour), being recipients of the kindness of God in the forgiveness of sins for Christ's sake, and participating jointly with Christ in the heirship of the good things wrought out by the righteousness of Christ.
But though the covenant of Sinai is thus "done away in Christ ", it is not done away in the sense of abolishing the excellent rules of action which that covenant enjoined. The new law in Christ, which believers come under, revives those rules in a stronger and more efficient form. Paul is very clear on this point, in which he is supported by the highest demands of reason. He enquires,
"Shall we sin (that is, shall we do the things that the law forbids), because we are not under the law, but under grace ?" (Rom. 6: 15).
He meets the suggestion with an emphatic "God forbid". "Being made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness" '(verse 18). The new form of God's wisdom in Christ is that "the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the spirit" (Rom. 8: 4). The meaning of this is practical, and not mystical and ceremonial as some people make it. Paul interprets for us thus:"...
Love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. For this (the ten commandments), Thou shalt not commit adultery, thou shalt not kill, thou shalt not steal, thou shalt not bear false witness, thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law" (Rom. 13: 8-10).
The position of the matter is therefore perfectly clear. The law, so excellent in itself, would have given life, if men had been able to keep it, as Christ and Paul unitedly declare (Luke 10:25-28; Rom. 7:10), but because they were unable to keep it in the absolute perfection required, it condemned them, and stopped every boasting mouth, and made all the world guilt3; before God (Rom. 3: 19), establishing such a situation that if salvation was to come, it could only come by the kindness of God, in the particular form He might appoint, which indeed was the result aimed at, as Paul declares in Rom. 5:20-21.
The law was unable to confer life because men were unable through weakness to keep it; it became instead a cause of death (Rom. 7: 10; 8:3; Gal. 3: 21). Salvation, therefore, could not come by the works of the law, but had to come in another way, namely, by forgiveness through grace (or favour); but not unconditional forgiveness. Through Christ forgiveness was preached and offered: that is, "By him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses" (Acts 13: 39).
Law of Moses Ch 3.
He was born under the law and redeemed from the law, that we might be redeemed by sharing his redemption. This view of the matter enables us to understand Paul's allusion to what the death of Christ accomplished in relation to the law: that he "abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of the commandments contained in ordinances" (Eph. 2:15); "blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross" (Col. 2:14). But the result was achieved in himself.
This is the whole principle: redemption achieved in Christ for us to have, on condition of faith and obedience. It is not only that Israel are saved from the law of Moses on this principle, but it is the principle upon which we are saved from the law of sin and death, whose operation we inherit in deriving our nature from Adam.
Christ partook of this nature to deliver it from death, as Paul teaches in Heb. 2:14, and other places: "Forasmuch as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil", Understanding by the devil, the hereditary death-power that has reigned among men by Adam through sin, we may understand how Christ, who took part in the death-inheriting nature, destroyed the power of death by dying and rising.
We then understand how "He put away sin by the sacrifice of himself". We may also understand how "our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed" (Rom. 6:6), and how he "died unto sin once", but now liveth unto God, to die no more (verses 9-10).
All of which enables us to understand why the typical holy things were purified with sacrificial blood, and why the high priest, in his typical and official capacity had to be touched with blood as well as anointed with the holy oil before entering upon his work. When we say, as some in their reverence for Christ prefer to say, that the death of Christ was not for himself but only for us, they destroy all these typical analogies, and in truth, if their view could prevail, they would make it impossible that it could be for us at all' for it only operates "for us" when we unite ourselves with him in whom, as the firstborn, it had its first effect.
Law of Moses Ch 18
16 Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days:
The rule now in vogue among the friends of Christ is the one formulated by Paul: "Every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving: for it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer" (1 Tim. 4:4). He says this in contrast to those who should arise among the brethren "commanding to abstain from meats",
But things signified by the distinction established by the law between things clean and unclean, remain unchangeable parts of eternal truth--that those men only are acceptable to God who are given to feeding and reflecting on His truth, and to directing their ways in harmony with His commandments.
The classification of fowls and fishes as clean and unclean was necessarily based upon different features from those selected in the case of animals: but the lesson involved, though more dimly discernible, appears to be the same.
The birds forbidden are all those that are birds of prey and feed on carrion, such as the eagle, the vulture, the raven, the owl, the swan, etc., which would naturally stand as the types of men of low tastes and predaceous instincts.
The fishes forbidden are also those from which human appetite would naturally shrink; all those approaching the reptilian type in lacking fins and scales, and having therefore a heavy, greasy texture of flesh.
Scales and fins appear to sustain the same analogy to chewing the cud and dividing the hoof: the scales rendering the creature more accessible to the watery element of life around it than when clad in an impervious skin; and the fins giving greater power of guidance in "the paths of the seas" than where motion has to be obtained by contortion of the body.
Among insects, all mere creepers, or having more feet than four, were forbidden as food.
"Whatsoever goeth upon the belly, and whatsoever goeth upon all four, or whatsoever hath more feet among all creeping things that creep upon the earth, them shall ye not eat; for they are an abomination. Ye shall not make yourselves abominable with any creeping thing that creepeth, neither shall ye make yourselves unclean with them, that ye should be defiled thereby. For I am the Lord your God; ye shall therefore sanctify yourselves, and ye shall be holy, for I am holy .... I am the Lord that bringeth you up out of the land of Egypt, to be your God: ye shall therefore be holy, for I am holy. This is the law of the beasts, and of the fowl, and of every living creature that moveth in the waters, and of every creature that creepeth upon the earth: to make a difference between the unclean and the clean, and between the beast that may be eaten and the beast that may not be eaten" (Lev. 11:42-47).
All that is odious and unwholesome among the creatures is forbidden; all that is beautiful, innocent, and good for food, is allowed. We have only to apply this in the amplest way to see with new force the spiritual comeliness that is required at the hands of those whom God will take into His eternal fellowship.
Law of Moses Ch 29
17 Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.
In him we see a chosen mediator (1 Tim. 2:5)--not self-appointed: "No man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron" (Heb. 5:4). It was God who said, "Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek" (Psa. 110:4). We see him offer blood--not the blood of bulls and goats, but his own blood: he alone entering the holiest, "heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us" (Heb. 9:24).
We see him the perfect one, without spot, without sin, without superfluity, or incongruity--and this, his character from the beginning: yet assisted by his originally blemished sons in the ultimate development of his priesthood; for his children--his seed--the forgiven saints, are to reign with him as priests as well as kings (Heb. 2:13-14; Isa. 53:10; Rev. 5:10)
Law of Moses Ch 17