1 And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins;
To walk being dead in trespasses and sins, is to live according to the course of this world. So says the apostle (Eph. 2:1-2). The course of the world is according to the thinking of sinful flesh, in whatever way it may be manifested, or expressed. If a man embrace one of the religions of Satan's kingdom, he is still "dead in trespasses and sins," and walks according to the course of the world. In brief, any thing short of faith in the gospel of the kingdom, and obedience to the Iaw of faith, is walking according to the course of the world.
To walk in sin is to walk in this course.
Elpis Israel Ch 3
2 Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:
The "power of the air," or aerial power, is the political power of the world, which is animated and pervaded by the spirit of disobedience, which is in the flesh; and styled above, the prince of the power ot the air. This is that prince of whom Jesus spoke, saying,
"'Now is the condemnation of this world; now shall the prince of this world be cast out"
"And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all unto Me. This He said, signifying what death He should die."
Elpis Israel 1.3.
There was also here and there a tendency to cater for the public in the matter of worship. Knowledge for the Scriptures will cure this. It may be very "unneighbourly," and to ourselves very unpleasant to forbear to invite the public to worship God, but we must be governed by the statutes of the sanctuary or else drop the service altogether.
The public are unwashed, unjustified, disobedient, unthankful, and unholy. They are unacceptable as worshippers. This is the testimony; that "they that are in the flesh, (that is, who have not submitted to the Gospel) cannot please God": that "the whole world lieth in wickedness": that "their sacrifices (that is, their religious performances) are an abomination to Him": that only those who do His will are heard or accepted: that no man cometh to the Father but by the Son, and that no man is in the Son, except the man who has believed the testimony concerning him and taken his name in the way appointed.
Consequently, it is a mockery to invite the public to the exercises of worship. It is not according to enlightment to buy cheap hymn books, or print leaflets and scatter them about on benches as an invitation to the godless public to "sing to the praise and the glory of God." What man cares for the benediction of a sinister beggar? How can we expect God to find pleasure in the hollow compliments of the slaves of sin?
We must walk as children of the light, however embarrassing. The embarrassment is only temporary. The time will be when the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the glory of the Lord. We shall be permitted to guide the chastened and obedient multitude in their approaches to God in that glad day if we are meanwhile "faithful in the very little" that belongs to our present position.
The Christadelphian, July 1896. p259-266
3 Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.
Bible deliverance from Adamic inheritance is future. Thus Paul exclaimed, "Who shall deliver me"? when speaking of the state into which he was born.
"By nature children of wrath." True! But what does Paul mean? Does he mean that God is angry with us as soon as we are born? The very text in which the phrase occurs excludes such an unreasonable doctrine.
He speaks of "Lusts of the flesh," "desires of the flesh," "desires of the mind," "conversation in times past," "wherein we walked," "the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience," all of which have to do with nature, but which require action super-added. Of all sin it may truly be said, "it is our nature so to do." We are truly "by nature children of wrath," but it is wrath against evil-doing; any other wrath is inconceivable."
The emphasis of Paul's description of the Ephesians as at one time "children of wrath" lies-not in the relations that governed their natural birth, but in the principles bearing on them in the lives they lived since that time. A glance at his words will show this.
Ye "were dead in trespasses and sins (this is not affirmable of babes, who have not yet transgressed): wherein (that is, in trespasses and sins), ye walked according to the course of this world (this is a line of conduct, and babes are not capable of any line of conduct), according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience, among whom also we all (Paul also, whom some doctrines of circumcision would exclude) had our conversation in time past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were, by nature, the children of wrath, even as others, " that is, were in conduct and behaviour, the children of wrath, being of this behaviour by reason of what our nature is; for human nature, left to itself, is dark and disobedient-"enmity against God, not subject to the law of God," as Paul says in Rom. viii. 7.
The wrath is against the unrighteousness of men and not against the helplessness of babes, who are born into a state of evil by reason of the law established in Adam's person, and transmitted to them.
As to the second point, no discerning person would say, without qualification, that "all who continue by nature children of wrath are resurrected."
The quotation of the passage is for the purpose of showing that it is against the unrighteous actions of grown men that God's anger exists, and not against a helpless relation into which they are born. The question of the form this wrath will take, or how far He holds them responsible is governed by other information which limits resurrectional recompense of evil to those who know His will and do it not.
This is according to reason and justice, and conformable with the revealed character of God, "all whose ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity-just and right is He" (Deut. xxxii. 4.)
The Christadelphian, July 1894
5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)
6 And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:
The New Man - the moral Quickening
The consummation of the judgment of Christ's house indicates the epoch of the third and last stage of the raising process. This crisis is the quickening, by which resurrection is perfected.
The analogy is found in nature, from which its divine Creator selects many processes and principles, which He employs as figures to illustrate His teaching in the word. Thus, in regard to corporeal regeneration, in the process of developing an immortal being from the dust of sheol, the terms expressive of the stages of what may be styled the spiritual gestation are conformed to the phenomena pertaining to the natural.
The same fact obtains in relation to moral regeneration, which must precede in probation, the corporeal in the resurrection state. In the moral process " the New Man " is " begotten," or conceived, when the sinner perceives " the truth as it is in Jesus " ; and he is "quickened "
unto a new and independent life, when the truth works in him to will and to do the good pleasure of Deity.
If he stop short of the quickening in moral or in corporeal gestation, he is a mere abortion; but, if in the moral, the process is matured in a " faith that works by love and
purifies the heart," the immersed believer is addressed in these words, to wit : "And you hath He quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins . . . He hath quickened you together with Christ " (Ephes. ii. 1, 5).
It will be perceived by the thoughtful, that there is necessarily a marked interval between the moral conception and the quickening of the dead in sin. An unquickened intelligent sinner is a theorist-a speculator in divine thoughts, which have no moral influence over him ; while a quickened sinner has become circumcised of heart and ears, "the workmanship of Deity," "created byknowledge after His own image " (Eph. ii. 10 ; Col. iii. 10).
The moral gestatory order of development, I have said, is in strict conformity with the law of nature. According to this, quickening usually occurs about eighteen weeks after conception. During this interval, the bearer has no direct consciousness of the embryo forming within ; but when quickening occurs, the attention is strongly excited.
Now, the English law recognises the cause of the phenomena of quickening to be, the acquisition of a life by which the foetus might live independent of its bearer. This idea is probably correct; and certainly exact enough to illustrate the phenomena of the moral and corporeal generation of " the new man which, after Deity, is created in righteousness and holiness of the truth " (Eph.iv. 24).
The matrix of this new being is " the heart " of the sinner. " The word of the kingdom " is the incorruptible seed sown into his heart. For some time, he has no direct consciousness that a new creature is forming within him. In process of time, however, his attention is strongly excited, and he perceives that he carries within him new ideas, aspirations, and feelings, to which, before he began to read and study the Word, he was an entire stranger.
These are a new creation ; and, if they do not prove abortive, will ultimate in the development of the incorruptible and immortal man : for this new corporeal being is originally quickened by the truth, or spirit and-life Word, in the heart of the Old Man (John vi. 63).
" It is the spirit that quickeneth, and the words which I speak unto you, spirit is and life is. This is true, whether the quickening be moral or corporeal; in the former case, the quickening
power is in divine ideas, of which " the words " are the signs ; while in the latter, the quickening power is what philosophers would term electrical.
8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
The sentiment that Christ's righteousness alone is to be the basis of our acceptance., is one of the countless and pernicious corruptions of clerical theology. It doubtless originated in the misapplication of a certain element of apostolic truth, namely, that which informs us that all are under sin, and that our salvation is not of works, but through the righteousness of faith that is in Christ.
Men have long ceased to perceive that this principle applies only to unjustified sinners, and not to those who have been placed in a justified or forgiven position, through the obedience of faith. Christ is righteousness for sinners in this sense, that God offers to forgive them for Christ's sake, and to grant them a co-heirship with Christ, of what Christ as a manifestation of God, has achieved for himself.
But when sinners become saints, they come into relation to a new principle. They are responsible to him as servants to a master, and he will judge them according to their works (Rev. 2:23; Matt. 16:27; 2 Cor. 5:10; Gal. 6:8). If they bring forth fruits to the Spirit -- that is, do and be what the Spirit in the word requires, they will receive everlasting life; and if they bring forth fruits to the flesh -- that is, be and do what the mere natural mind prompts a man to do, they will inherit corruption.
So says the last testimony referred to. Hence it is that the apostles dwell so incessantly and so emphatically on the necessity for brethren to walk as saints, and to be on their guard against conformity to the world, lest any be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin (Heb. 3:13).
Bro Roberts - The wedding garment, Seasons 1: 35
The allegorical signification of the sentence upon the serpent kindled the first scintillation of hope in the human heart of the appearance of One who should deliver the world from all its ills, and advance it to a higher state.
The promise of such a personage, and of such a consummation, was the nucleus of that
"faith, which is the assured expectation of things hoped for, and the conviction of things unseen" (Heb. 11:1).
The belief and spiritualising influence of this hope became the ground of acceptance with God in the earliest times. Faith in this promise was established as the principle of classification among the sons of Adam.
Belief in what he promises is belief in God; and its influence upon
"the fleshly tablet of the heart" is most deifying in its effect, making the subject of it "a partaker of the divine nature."
Atheism in its Scriptural import is not the denial of God's existence. None but a fool would say, "there is no God" (Psalm 14:1). It is worse than this. It is to believe that He exists, and yet to treat Him as a liar. To do this, is not to believe His promises; and he that is faithless of these, is "without God," aqeov, i. e. an atheist in the world (Eph. 2:12).
In the beginning, this kind of atheism soon manifested itself in the family of Adam. Cain, who was conceived in sin, true to his paternity, was as faithless of God's word as the serpent; while Abel believed on God. Hence, the apostle says,
"By faith Abel offered unto God more sacrifice (pleiona qusian) than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh" (Heb. 11:3).
This is an important intimation, importing that no religious services are acceptable to God which are not predicated on the belief of His Promises;
"for without faith it is impossible to please God" (Heb. 11:6).
Elpis Israel 1.4.
10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
Now there are several important things suggested by the figure which it has pleased the Spirit of God to employ to represent the glorious event of Christ's union with his brethren. We cannot better occupy the time than by dwelling on them. First, marriage is suggestive of a preliminary period marked by the several stages of acquaintance, love and betrothal.
There are all these stages in the history of our connection with Christ. At first, we are "without Christ," a position having "no hope" (Eph. 2: 12). We are ignorant of and uninterested in him, and have no relation to him in any way. We are busy pursuing our own ends, "every one to his own way."
The moment arrives when our attention is arrested, Christ is introduced to our notice. It seems all very accidental and common-place. Could we but see behind the scenes, we might see the situation in a different light. Jesus said to his disciples,
"Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you."
If this were true of them, is it not more true of us? It is also written that--
"known unto God are all his works from the beginning,"
and that the saints are--
"the workmanship of God."
If, therefore, we have been "called to be saints," does it not follow that the moment of our acquaintance with Christ was the moment of his beginning to seek us? Granted that unjustified men are not in the precincts of the house of Christ, and therefore outside the purview of his priesthood; yet the house of Christ is made up of men once unjustified, and who calls them from the one state to the other, if not he who testified
"I came not to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance"?
True, this was said concerning Israel, but afterwards the Gentiles were included in the Shepherd of Israel's solicitations by Paul, who said,
"We are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God" (2 Cor. 5:20).
This was a general seeking - the seeking of a class as such; but every general form of things comprises the detail, and there can be no question that in this matter there is a process of individual selection included in the general work of the truth.
Though many are called to whom Jesus will say at last, "I never knew you"-men gathered in by the work necessary to reach the few chosen vessels, but not contemplated in that work; just as a net let down into the sea to catch a particular kind of fish "encloses all manner of fishes, good and bad"- yet the few whom he will acknowledge in the day of his glory are brought within the power of the Gospel as the result of the ways of Providence.
Jesus is the controller and shaper of these ways, and seeks his sheep on dark mountains. The seeking, though special, is veiled; he brings himself under their notice in a perfectly natural way, through the presentation of the testimony. Men of good and honest heart stumble across the truth, as it appears to them, in a very ordinary way, and at a very common-place moment of their experience.
13 But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.
"Our commonwealth subsists in heavens, out of which also we wait for a deliverer, the Anointed Lord Jesus, who shall remodel the body of our humiliation, that it may become conformable to the body of his glory" (2 Cor. v. 1-4; Phil. iii. 20,21).
The beginning of the citizenship is the putting on Christ as the righteousness of the adopted. Hence it is written,
"as many of you (believers) as have been immersed into Christ, have put on Christ" (Gal. iii. 27).
Christ Jesus who is in the heavens, is "put on" by individuals on earth, who "believe the things concerning the Kingdom of God and the Name of Jesus Christ, and are immersed" (Acts viii. 12). In doing this, their citizenship begins; and it begins in the heavens, because Christ, whom they put on, is in the heavens.
15 Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace;
...the subject of discourse is the abolition of the cause of enmity between Jews and Gentiles, which was "the law of the commandments in ordinances" which prevented peace between them. This ground of enmity he abolished, when by the one offering of his body on the cross, he took it out of the way, and established the "better covenant" which promised good things to Jews and Gentiles upon the same conditions.
If Christ had not died and rose again, the Mosaic law would have continued in force to this day; and there would have been no union of Jews and Gentiles in "one body," and consequently the Gentiles would have continued helplessly,
"without Christ, being aliens from the Commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the Covenants of Promise, having no hope, and without God in the world."
To enable us to get at Christ, by becoming citizens of the Commonwealth of Israel, it was necessary to remove the Mosaic law out of our way, and to introduce another that would be more favourable. By becoming proselytes of Judaism, Gentiles might come to be with Moses, and citizens of Israel's Commonwealth under his law; but as this could not make alive, they would remain under sentence of death; and enjoy nothing beyond the temporal advantages of a residence in the Holy Land in common with the natives.
It could give them no right to be citizens in the Age to Come, and to reign for ever with Messiah over Israel and the nations for a thousand years. This right is derived from that Covenant which Jesus established or confirmed in dying and rising again. If we take hold of it by believing the things promised in it; and also take hold of Him, by faith in him, as the confirming sacrifice, or Mediator, thereof: and become obedient to the "Law of Faith," which commands such believers to be baptized into the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, we become the children of the covenant; and through Jesus acquire citizenship in the Israelitish Commonwealth of the Age to Come.
... As he comes, however, "without blood" in himself, the redemption he hath purchased by the blood which once flowed in his veins, will be represented by the shedding of the blood of bulls, rams, &c., in the Age to Come.
Herald of the Kingdom and Age to Come, December, 1854 •
19 Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God;
"Constituted the righteousness of God in Christ."
The "good actions" of a pious sinner are mere "dead works;" for the actions of a sinner to be of any worth in relation to the future state, he must be "constituted righteous;" and this can only be by his coming under a constitution made and provided for the purpose.
A stranger and foreigner from the commonwealth of the States can only become a fellow-citizen with Americans, by taking the oath of abjuration, fulfilling the time of his probation, and taking the oath of allegiance according to the provisions of the constitution.
Now, the Kingdom of God has a constitution as well as the Kingdom of Satan, or that province of it styled the United States. Before sinners come under it, they are characterized as
"without Christ, being aliens from the Commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God (aqeoi atheists) in the world" (Ephes. 2:12, 13, 19).
They are termed "far off," "strangers and foreigners,"
"walking in the vanity of their mind, having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of their heart" (Eph. 1:17-18).
But, mark the sacred style descriptive of sinners after they have been placed under the constitution of Israel's Commonwealth, which is the Kingdom of God.
"You that were far off are made nigh by the Word of Christ;" "through Him you have access by one spirit to the Father; and are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household of God" -- "fellow-heirs, and of the same body, and partakers of God's promise in Christ by the gospel" (Eph. 3:6).
In this remarkable contrast is discoverable a great change in state and character predicated of the same persons. How was this transformation effected? This question is answered by the phrase "in Christ by the gospel." The "in" expresses the state; the "by" the instrumentality by which the state and character are changed.
As the constitution of sin hath its root in the disobedience of the First Adam, so also hath the constitution of righteousness its root in the obedience of the Second Adam. Hence, the apostle says,
"as through one offence (sentence was pronounced) upon all men unto condemnation; so also through one righteousness (sentence was pronounced) upon all men (that is, Jews and Gentiles) unto a pardon of life. For as through the disobedience of the one man the many were constituted (katestaqhsan) sinners; so also through the obedience of the one the many were constituted righteous" (Rom. 5:18-19).
Elpis Israel 1.4.
20 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;
21 In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord:
22 In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.
Thus, "the Deity dwelleth not in temples," or "churches," "made with hands," but in a Holy Temple built by the formative power of the truth understood, believed, and obeyed. Every stone of this temple is living, and precious, and bought at the high price of the blood of Jesus Christ. Peter says, they are "lively stones built up a spiritual house," or temple (1 Pet. ii. 5; and in 2 Cor. vi. 16), Paul repeats the idea, saying to the true believers,
"Ye are the temple of the living Deity."
After such plain and pointed declarations as these, no one being acquainted with them, and comprehending them, can possibly believe, that the temples of the "religious world," whether the term be affirmed of a name, or denomination, or of all names and denominations collectively, or of cathedrals, churches, chapels, and conventicles, -- are temples of the Deity. These are none of his buildings. The impress of his workmanship is upon none of them; and therefore in none of them doth he reside, either by the truth, or spiritual gift.
The temple of the Deity who created all things, is a living temple; a house not made with hands. In such a temple as the Roman, he does not dwell. His habitation is that Spiritual House, built up by his formative word, of lively precious stones, called saints, because they are "sanctified in Christ Jesus."