1 I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called,
We note the "therefore." Because God has so loved us, therefore I beseech you to be worthy of that love. Then the word "beseech." It is an entreaty, not a command. No mention is made of penalty. He appeals to the best in us.
Bro Growcott - Holy and Blameless in Love
2 With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love;
A man will always exercise more power by mildness than by anger, provided always his mildness is not the mildness of amiable imbecility. Mildness without a backbone of principle and purpose is as impotent as an Egyptian reed. On the other hand, even brusqueness that has an inside of mercy and truth, is more influential than the honey simper of mere amiability.
The Christadelphian, Feb 1888
These come first. They are the foundation. All virtue is built upon them. All else is false. These are the traits that Christ put first in his lessons of truth:
"Learn of me, for I am meek and lowly, and ye shall have rest unto your souls."
Lowliness and meekness -- despised characteristics in the eyes of the world, but unto them that are called, the power of God and the wisdom of God.
"When I am weak, THEN am I strong."
When I realize my own weakness and helplessness and lowliness and ignorance -- then do I feel the strength and wisdom of God.
"Blessed (that is, happy) are the meek ... He will beautify the meek with salvation."
Webster defines "meek" as
"Mild of temper, not easily provoked or irritated, patient under injuries, not resentful, forbearing, submissive, humble."
Meekness is usually looked upon as weakness, but it should be evident to anyone who regards it in the true light that meekness demands great strength of character -- "not easily provoked or irritated, patient under injuries." Anyone who has made any effort in this direction -- any effort to subdue the coarse, animal passions -- can testify that a full accomplishment is of godly magnitude and character.
Meekness is the first requisite of the clay - rigid control of its own passions and full submission to the hand of the Potter. The clay must be pliable, workable, teachable. Humility is the handmaid of wisdom, for to see ourselves just as we are in God's sight and to confess our position, is humility. Being such as we are, there can be no other result of true self-examination except humility. Add to this self-control, a rare and godly combination, and we have meekness -- perfect material for divine manipulation.
Bro Growcott - Holy and blameless in love
3 Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
"'Pleas for unity' are out of place while the truth is being trifled with; they are dangerous; they are treacherous, however well meant. They will not be listened to by those who are set for the defence of the gospel."
Bro Roberts, 1867
"The true prophets failed to bring matters to a right bearing in Israel, and it is not likely that a few unofficial and powerless sheep of the flock in the dark days of the Gentiles, should bring about a reform. We can but do our duty; saving ourselves from this untoward generation, and such as will hear the word."
Bro Roberts 1871
4 There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling;
THE TRUTH FULLY DISCOVERED
IT is our conception and conviction that the Truth in all its essential elements was formulated from Scripture by brethren Thomas and Roberts. We regard the matter of the scripturally-revealed Person of the Father as one of these elements. We do not regard these brethren as inspired authorities, but we do consider them faithful and dependable expounders of basic scriptural truth.
Christadelphians have for 100 years embraced what they believe to be the "Faith once delivered to the saints." Regarding the element of scriptural truth as to what is revealed concerning the personal form of the Father, it is our conviction from Scripture that the Christadelphian belief-as in all other basic points-is sound and true.
The suggestion that God has no form, or that His form, if any, is different from that manifested in the angels, and man, and the present glorious eternal spirit body of Jesus, and that the simple record of man's creation in the image of God must be interpreted symbolically-these views are not new in the world but have been fully considered in Christadelphian literature and study in the past, and have been rejected as error.
In the words of bro. Roberts (Chdn. 1896, p. 348), "Our mind is that the Truth has been found in its original simplicity and purity and completeness, and that the only enlightened business in hand is to preach and contend for and apply this."
Bro Growcott - In the Image of God made he man
A man may believe all things relating to repentance and the remission of sins, but if his faith do not embrace the true hope, he does not possess that faith which pleases God. This appears from Paul's teaching in Hebrews. "But" says he
"we are not of a drawing back unto destruction, but of a faith unto an acquisition of life. Now faith is an assured expectation (hypostasis) of things hoped for, a conviction of things unseen."
Having thus defined the faith unto life which is nothing less than a belief of "things which are eternal," he tells the Hebrews, that
"without it, it is impossible to please God."-ch. 10:39, 11:1, 6.
This was saying in effect, that unless their faith comprehended the things contained in the covenants of promise, they could not be saved; for says he elsewhere, we were saved by the hope-tee elpidi esotheemen-Rom. 8:24; that is,
"disciples in Rome, when ye were saved from your past sins through the name of Jesus, it was not only by faith in his death, in the sin cleansing efficacy of his blood, and in his resurrection abstractedly considered; but, by an assured expectation and conviction of the things unseen and eternal, which are comprised in the hope of the gospel."
"For," as if he had continued,
"even the redemption of your mortal bodies from corruption, is purely conditional on your adhesion to the hope."
We wish here to be distinctly understood. We affirm that no man hath the remission of past sins, a title to the kingdom of God, nor will he obtain possession of it, unless his faith include a belief of the true hope, and unless he keep this hope in mind stedfast to the end.
Bro Thomas - TC 01/1872
5 One Lord, one faith, one baptism,
Baptism is a very beautiful and fitting provision of the love and wisdom of God: a loving act of submission and obedience, and of thankful union with Christ in his death; a going down into a watery grave; a complete death to the old man of the flesh with all his past sins, and a glorious rising again to the inspiration and joy of newness of life - a New Man in Christ Jesus: a complete new beginning: a complete purification: a completely new slate - standing perfect before God.
Bro Growcott - What Doth the Lord Require of Thee?
12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:
The "Ministration of the Spirit" placed by the Lord Jesus in "the heritages" shone forth in each of them. The Spirit was the holy oil which supplied the lamps of the stem-body and its branches. Hence, each "heritage" was a seven branched light-stand burning with holy spirit-oil.
For this reason, the seven congregations of Anatolia are styled in the Apocalypse, "seven light-stands" λυχνιαι; "in the midst of which," Jesus says, he walked.
Reader, consider what a luminous spectacle it must have presented to the faithful eye of an observer, surveying the Roman Habitable, and beholding these spirit-light-stands, like cities upon lofty hills, shining in a multitude of its towns and villages, continental and insular!
Was that a dark and gloomy era? So large a portion of earth had never shone so bright before; truly, therefore, might an apostle exclaim,
"the darkness is passing away-παραγεεται-and the true light now shines."-1 John 2:8.
But, from contemplating these spirit-lights, turn and view the more extended habitable of the nineteenth century. Dost thou now, O reader, behold an illuminated world? Where are the heritages enlightened by the spirit shining forth on a retiring darkness? You behold ministrations in abundance on every side; but where in the midst of them all do you discern the "Ministration of the Spirit?"
You see multitudes of pretenders to spirituality in person and administration; but the thing, the reality, where is that? If thy vision be enlightened by the word, canst thou perceive aught but darkness visible, a darkness that may be felt? The children of the night, blinded by the flickering of "the light within," that rushlight of the flesh they call "the spirit," do not judge thus of their "living age."
With them its light is a blaze of glory, shining more and more to the perfect day; when telegraph wires, and ironroads will belt the globe, and Anglo-Saxonism will control the destinies of mankind!
This is their glory, which takes no account of Yahweh's oath which he sware to David, saying, that his son should have the nations for his inheritance, and earth's utmost bounds for his possession. Thus, "the true light" that shone so brightly in the days of John, has passed away; and the prediction of Isaiah obtains, who testified that, when Zion should arise and shine, because her light had come, and the glory of the Lord had risen upon her,
"darkness should cover the earth and gross darkness the people."
This is the true condition of Christendom at the present time. Its language, however, is, "I am rich and increased in goods, and have need of nothing;" thus, it knows not that "it is wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked." Being unconscious of disease it seeks no relief; but hastens blindfold to its doom.
The ministration of the Spirit was established in a hierarchy provisionally appointed. The members of the hierarchy were not all of the same rank. Though all brethren in Christ, some of them held more elevated and important positions than others.
Those who ranked first were apostles; secondarily, prophets; thirdly, teachers; after that, miracles; then, gifts of healings, helps, superintendents, diversities of tongues. Thus, the ministry of the word was first, the confirmation of the word next, temporal affairs after that, and tongues, so much coveted, last in honour and degree.
Herald of the Kingdom and Age to Come, Dec 1856
13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:
The Way of Truth and Love Therein
We can only hope to get our minds under the influence of the truth, by steeping our minds in it, and this is only to be done by laying it down for ourselves as a rule to read it continually, day by day. If we do that, then we shall get at the result; the mind will become steeped because we steep it. When you get hold of a man who thus steeps his mind in divine things, what a luxury beyond expression! You then experience what it is to love in the truth.
There is no love so genial, none so rich, so pure and lasting as that which springs from a unity of interest in spiritual things. The real joys of existence are all connected with the truth; outside the truth, there is nothing but doubt, anxiety, fear, distress, sin, and death.
They, therefore, make a great mistake who let the truth slip from any cause, or who give the truth the second place in the economy of their life. There are no circumstances that will justify such a mistake. God will not accept any justification of it.
The Ambassador of the Coming Age, May 1868
13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:
A first principle of the great Truth that is learnt by a believer as his privilege in the gospel of
Christ is to avail himself of the "new and living way"which provides a possible and favourable approach to the "throne of grace," viz., the intercession of the merciful high priest of God's appointment, who is able to be touched with the feeling of the infirmities that belong to every child of God.
But appreciation of this great privilege grows proportionately with that measure of acquaintance that is made with the inner and deeper beauties of that, which, in the earlier stages of spiritual life, is known only in elementary, form, or what the apostle styles "the principles of the doctrine of Christ."
Going on to perfection from this beginning brings the child of God in touch with
experiences that mould and fashion the Divine life more correctly in harmony with the Divine ideal, bringing the heart into more direct sympathy with the real character of God; in fact, this supreme privilege of access "to the Holiest by the blood of Jesus" enables the one who has been "justified by faith'' to enter the very precincts of the Divine glory, and bask in the healing rays of spiritual sunshine.
There are no limitations to the liberty that has been thus graciously extended, if the conditions
are studiously and reverently adhered to. But the fulness of the pleasure of this spiritual radiance is not reached except by a steady and continuous effort to take advantage of the privilege of approach to the seat of mercy, where this light of Divine favours shines without intermission.
"The Path of the just'' in this particular does not shine so brightly in the earlier course; as it
does later on, that is to say, appreciation of the privilege of prayer and supplication" grows with experience and practice, and with it comes the joy and peace that passeth the ordinary understanding.
The counsel that speaks to the justified believer of God's Truth, clearly reveals this fact.
Constant and habitual repetition of the spiritual exercise of prayer is steadfastly enjoined in this counsel, with the sole object of developing true appreciation of the Divine privileges contained in the law of Divine life, and finding their execution in the way appointed.
Let us take a small list of the injunctions contained in this counsel: -
1. -"Pray without ceasing" (1 Thessalonians 5: 17).
2. -"In everything give thanks.... " (1 Thessalonians 5: 18).
3. -"In everything by prayer and supplications with thanksgiving, let your requests be made
known to God" " (Philippians 4: 6).
4. -"Continue in prayer and watch in the same with thanksgiving" (Colossians 4: 2).
5. -"Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the spirit " (Ephesians 6: 18).
6. -"In all thy ways acknowledge Him and He will direct thy paths" (Proverbs 3: 6).
The necessary sequence to a faithful observance of such uplifting, spiritual exercises is an
increased resemblance in life and character to the exalted standard presented and exemplified in the life of God's beloved Son.
But the exact features of this resemblance are mainly invisible to the human eye. The outward manifestations are so mingled with those expressions of character that belong to the flesh that a true discernment and judgment is impossible from the standpoint of human observation
(even on the most perfect example, where the outward expressions were in perfect accord with the inner spiritual motions, a false judgment was passed by the outer observers, which ultimately brought about an ignominious death to the most beloved Son of God).
The explanation is clear when it is remembered that the Divine life is begotten in the heart of
man, in the affections produced by the mind becoming enlightened by a careful reception of the word of God. And where it is begotten, there it must continue to grow, until the fulness of Divine love is readied in the mature stature of Christ. JE Jarvis
TBC June 1923
15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:
A Candid Mind
Nothing sheds so fine a light upon the human mind as candor. It was called whiteness by the ancients, for its purity; and it has always won the esteem due to the most admirable of the virtues. However sought for or practiced, all felt the power and charm of its influence.
The man whose opinions make the deepest mark upon his fellow-man, whose influence is the most lasting and efficient, whose friendship is instinctively sought where all others have proved faithless, is not the man of brilliant parts, or flattering tongue, or splendid genius, or commanding power; but he whose lucid candor and ingenuous truth transmit the heart's real feelings, pure and without refraction.
There are other qualities which are more showy, and other traits that have a higher place in the world's code of honour; but none wear better, or gather less tarnish by use, or claim a deeper homage in that silent reverence which the mind must pay to truth.
Herald of the Kingdom and Age to Come, Aug 1857
16 From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.
We all recognise the need for knowledge in order to a right discernment of Christ; but if we come short of the love of Christ which ought to spring from the knowledge of Christ, the result is an abortive one. Paul is very emphatic on this head.
His strong desire concerning the brethren was that "they might know the love of Christ which passeth knowledge," not only the love which Christ has for those who please him, but the love which they ought to have for him, as expressed in the other words "that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith, that ye being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and depth and height, and to know the love of Christ which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all fullness of God."
Concerning himself he declared to the Galatians: "The life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me," and to the Philippians, "for me to live is Christ" and to the Corinthians, "the love of Christ constraineth us: because we thus judge that if one died for all, then all died: and that he died for all that they who live should not henceforth live unto themselves but unto him who died for them and rose again."
Christ himself made the demand for our love a prominent point in his teaching.
"Come unto me all ye that labour and are heavy burden: take my yoke upon you and learn of me."
"If any man love father or mother more than me, he is not worthy of me."
"My sheep hear my voice and I know them, and they follow me."
"He that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him and will manifest myself unto him . . . If a man love me, he will keep my words . . . He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings."
The figure of a bride to represent the relation to Christ of those who are to be accepted by him, is a powerful indication in the same direction. What is the leading characteristic of a bride as such, but delightful love towards him to whom she is about to be united? We read of this consummation:
"The marriage of the Lamb is come: and the bride hath made herself ready."
Now, brethren, we have come from religious communities in which this idea is carried to a great and extravagant extreme, to the exclusion of that understanding which is the preliminary to acceptable love. The love of Christ in these communities, has degenerated to an effeminate sentiment, without reasonable body shape, or meaning. But it is just possible that by natural rebound we may go to the other extreme, and be content with knowing about Christ and not loving him. This would be as great a failure as the other.
The right form of these things generally lies in the middle. The clear knowledge of what God has testified concerning Christ should be wedded to the cordial and enthusiastic love which is its natural and reasonable accompaniment. How arid and unlovely is knowledge in any direction without love. Even a man of science, without enthusiasm for his subject, is a failure.
Love always makes a man interesting, if it is only in specimen hunting, in eggs or butterflies, or beetles. Even a beast showing interest in its offspring is a pleasant sight. How inexpressibly beautiful is love shown towards high objects: the higher the object, the higher the beauty. In this connection, how noble is the love of Christ in a man. Its pure and healthy original is to be seen in Paul, as when he writes to the Philippians:
"I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung that I may win Christ and be found in him, not having mine own righteousness which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith, that I may know him and the power of his resurrection."
Let us rise to this, brethren. We shall be of no use to Christ if we do not love him. He finds pleasure in his people's love as a man finds pleasure in a woman's love. He says we are unworthy of him if we give a stronger love to any human object. He gives us a method by which we may judge ourselves in the matter as to whether we love him. He says-
"If a man love me, he will keep my words" (John 14:23).
Here is a self-test which we should daily apply. We cannot apply it without making ourselves familiar with his "words," for how can a man keep his "words" who is either ignorant or forgetful of them. Reflection will show us that this test is an absolutely reasonable one. Love always conforms to the will and wishes of its object. See if it is not so. If the love of Christ is a distinct enthusiasm of the mind, the doing of his commandments is inevitable by the laws that govern the mental operations of every human being.
But such an operative love of Christ presupposes faith, and acquaintance. If the worm of doubt be gnawing at the foundation, the growth of love is a moral impossibility, or if there is no doubt, but only distance, through "the lust of other things entering in" there will be the same failure in the vigour of love.
Bro Roberts - Knowledge, Love, Obedience
17 This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind,
Whither Goes Your Mind?
Lift your mind out of the dust into the sky. It is a lifelong, try-fail-and-try-again process, over and over. Keep forcing the mind back, and up. It does not come easily.
The mind is lazy, very lazy, especially in spiritual things. It likes to grovel in the earth. It likes to putter with toys. It likes to be amused, excited, entertained -- ANYTHING but work and labour.
But, with God's help, the mind is capable of wonderful, glorious, infinitely-joyful things. It is a marvellous device, though made of common clay. How little we use its intended powers! How we waste and degrade and abuse it with our infantile toys and prattle and buffoonery!
God's greatest gift to us personally is Conscience. And His greatest blessing is a pure conscience, through obedience that comes by love that comes by faith.
18 Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness <perverseness> of their heart:
Speaking of Israel's watchmen, Isaiah testifies that they were
"blind; all ignorant, all dumb dogs, that cannot bark, talking in their sleep, lying down, loving to slumber. Yea, greedy dogs which cannot have enough, shepherds that cannot understand: they all look to their own way, every one for his gain, from his quarter."-56:10.
Highly descriptive of Jewish Rabbis and Gentile ministers of this enlightened day!
"I would not have you ignorant, brethren."-Rom. 1:13. "They have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God."-Rom. 10:2, 3.
Eschew ignorance as a dangerous and fatal evil. If ignorance were bliss, God would not have troubled himself to reveal so much to make us wise.
Herald of the Kingdom and Age to Come, April 1856
21 If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus:
22 That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts;
23 And be renewed in the spirit of your mind;
The mind is made of plastic material, and is being modified every day, for good or evil, according to the influences that play upon it. It is more easily affected for evil than for good, because its natural bent is in the direction of evil. Hence the battle is a hard one, and must be maintained to the last. Let us never surrender.
Let us hold on to all the helps God has given us; let us avoid all the hindrances and the weights which so easily impede the journey and sink the steps in the mire of the devil's morass, that spreads far and wide on all sides around us. The day of victory will repay all exertion, for thus saith the Spirit;
"He that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron."
Bro Roberts - Christ and the prophets, Seasons 1: 33
24 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.
"No, what you learned was to fling off the dirty clothes of the old way of living, which were rotted through and through with lust's illusions, and, with yourself mentally and spiritually re-made to put on the clean fresh clothes of the new life which was made by God's design for righteousness and the holiness which is no illusion."
J.B. Phillip's translation of Eph 4:21-24
26 Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath:
Does Paul teach that a man can be angry and not sin? Would not this be contrary to the apostolic doctrine that
"all anger and wrath is to be put away?"
Paul's meaning is explained in the second part of the verse:
"Let not the sun go down upon your wrath."
A man is in danger of allowing his anger to cause him to sin. Anger in itself is no more sin than appetite. Jesus looked round about upon the Pharisees with anger.-(Mark 3:5.) It is what anger may lead to that is evil. Anger indulged is sin. We are to put an end to it with the close of the day that gave it birth, being not implacable but merciful, even to those who may sin against us.
The Christadelphian, Aug 1872
28 Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.
If God gives men opportunities, He expects them to discern and enterprisingly use them. This is His way of doing His work. He could do it all Himself: but then His sons would have no share in the results. They are "labourers together with God" (1 Cor. 3:9; 2 Cor. 6:1). It is a co-partnership of divine appointment with this glorious result that at the last,
"Both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together" (John 4:6).
God will finally admit us to His joy by requiring us first to take part in the work by which the joy will be wrought out.
A present application of the principle may be found in the matter of daily bread. We have a promise that what we need will be provided (Luke 12:29-31), and that God will never leave or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5-6); but the realisation of this promise is as contingent as the obtaining of the land was on Israel's adoption of the needed measures. It is contingent on our obedient compliance with the will of the father, as expressed in the commandment to-
"Provide things honest in the sight of all men" (Romans 12:17);
To labour with our hands for the things needed (Ephesians 4:28); to be not slothful in business (Romans 12:11); a principle carried to this extent that where a man does not yield submission to it, he is not to be relieved (2 Thessalonians 3:10). So also when God-blessed industry secures what is needful, the continuance of the blessing depends upon our faithful use of results in the way directed, as good stewards of the substance of God (2 Corinthians 11:8-13; Psalms 41:1-3; Acts 20:34-35; Romans 12:13; Ephesians 4:28; 1 Peter 4:10).
The Ways of Providence Ch 12
29 Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.
Let us not be hasty in supposing that an exhorting brother is "speaking at us" because his remarks happen to strike home. Nothing is more natural than that a vigorous all round address should on some points appear personal, and produce uneasiness. Let sensitive ones remember that no one is perfect-that everyone possesses weaknesses which the Word, rightly handled, is sure to discover.
If a brother speak as the oracles of God, he cannot help making their humbling, searching qualities felt. The word of God is quick and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword (Heb. 4:12). Our reading of the Scriptures would have the same effect, as the addresses complained of by some, if we were only to allow ourselves to dwell upon the passages which touch our faulty parts.
The antidote to the sensitiveness, which produces in so many cases wrong judging, is to remember the foregoing, and to learn to be quick in laying hold of the balm which earnest men in their exhortations also give. Let us be careful lest we condemn a brother for what God is doing through him. It is a wrong thing to charge a man, who is simply voicing the will of God, with speaking at brethren. Let brethren who have this charge falsely laid at their door, remember what is said of Christ ("The reproaches of them that reproached thee fell on me"), and take comfort.
Bro AT Jannaway
The Christadelphian, Jul 1901
30 And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.
When we find someone is angry at our shortcomings, our resentment Is aroused, and our better feelings are stifled; but when we find that our failures grieve them, then remorse gives us no peace until we overcome.
If Paul had said, "Anger not the Holy Spirit of God," the whole relationship would have changed. But God does not speak of anger to His saints. Anger is for the shortcomings of a servant, but grief is caused by the failure of a son. If it were anger, then we should sullenly seek to satisfy Him, knowing that He is stronger than we; but when He speaks to us of grief, then we must labour to please Him, and give Him joy, and remove all cause for sorrow.
How much greater power has the one incentive than the other!
Bro Growcott - Holy and Blameless in Love
Anything we cannot pray about, approach God in, seek His help in, should not be done at all.
And there are no exceptions to this rule. Any exception would destroy-completely destroy-the whole pattern of oneness. It must embrace the whole life. There can be nothing held back. Nothing too unimportant to bring into full harmony with the spiritual unity of the individual with God.
It is infinitely more intimate than any human relationship, for God can both read and control the innermost thoughts of the heart.
Unity between humans, even at its highest and most beautiful development, is but a groping and a clasping of hands in the dark; comforting, but still agonisingly partial and incomplete.
But unity with God has no barriers, no limitations, no obscurities, no disappointments, no misunderstandings. It must be a constant flow of coordination with God in every act. We must believe and expect His help in everything, great and small.
Truly, we never reach this ideal. There are constant lapses and failures. But the important thing is that they be recognised as such, and be repudiated and striven against. We can never accept, as satisfactory, anything short of perfect unity with God. This is the whole essence of the manifestation of God.
Why should God, the All-powerful, the All-sufficient-the Possessor of heaven and earth-why should He expose Himself to being grieved by puny, mortal man?
The essence of love's power is personal involvement. Love, in its working, necessarily exposes itself to hurt. This is the beautiful sacrifice it is willing to make to accomplish its glorious end. And God, above everything, is love.
Bro Growcott - Mercy
31 Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:
Evil speaking is a characteristic of the world. So common is it that its heinousness is not perceived. God has pronounced it a crime. His hatred to it is repeatedly emphasised. Are we resisting or yielding to this popular sin?
"Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice."
This commandment cannot be infringed with impunity. Woe to evil surmisers, false accusers, and tale bearers! Their conduct separates them from God. Gehenna is their certain goal. What righteous man is not pained to hear his brother maligned? Think you not that Christ shares this feeling? Let us not indulge in evil speaking under the unjustifiable notion that we think our brother is deserving of it.
God has provided rules for dealing with transgressors. These rules rigidly prohibit us allowing evil thoughts to rankle in our minds, much less of infusing them into others. Assuming that we have ground for righteous indignation, let us refrain from acting unscripturally.
Let us follow an example set us-"being reviled, we bless, being persecuted, we suffer it, being defamed, we intreat." ATJ
The Christadelphian March 1887. p105
32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.
Kind words cost nothing, and though they are often powerless to do good, often also they are a cause of comfort and blessing. It is well to make it a practice always to be kind in speech. Kindness of speech will actually help to engender kindness of feeling in the speaker. To consider your neighbour is the grand secret of correct action in the matter. This will help you above the sterile moroseness that is content to make one's own feelings the rule of utterance.
The Christadelphian, Feb 1888
The literal fact is that Christ was obedient, and that "God forgives us for Christ's sake" when we conform to His institutions.
Our faith is "counted for righteousness": where we had no righteousness, and we are permitted to share in the privileges that Christ achieved by his own righteousness - if Christ at the judgment seat see fit to admit us. It is not an affair of "imputing Christ's righteousness to us," but of extending to us a participation in the result of Christ's righteousness - on conditions, of which he is judge.
....What happens at baptism is the forgiveness of our sins-not the attributing to us of a righteousness that Christ performed, for in that case our salvation would be inevitable.
What we have to do after that is to work out our salvation, by righteousness, in view of the solemn fact that he only that doeth righteousness is righteous, and that the unrighteous shall not inherit the Kingdom of God. When John saw the bride-elect at the final union, he was informed that the fine linen in which she was arrayed is "the righteousnesses (plural in the original) of the saints."
It is a truth that the world in general have forgotten, and which false theories obscure, that Christ will "give to every man according to his works."
The Christadelphian Aug 1894. p304
"Thou hast redeemed us to God by thy blood from out of every kindred and tongue, and people and nation." "Thou hast washed us from our sins in thine own blood."
How will it be possible for us to take part in this song, and in the everlasting holy service it represents if we are not now in full and living sympathy with the work expressed in the words? It is the work of the truth to create this full and living sympathy by instructing us in the ways of God.
It is the work done now. It is the work of Christ as defined in the language of inspiration, to "purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works." Let us never forget this "zealousness." Some people talk of "zeal" as if it were a peculiarity-a spiritual superfluity. It is far from this. It is the characteristic-the indispensable peculiarity of acceptable believers.
It is a zeal having its basis in the forgiveness of sins. As Jesus said of the woman,
"She is forgiven much, therefore she loveth much."
People who have no sense of the dreadfulness of sin have no appreciation of the privilege of forgiveness, and are therefore not likely to be called out in love on its account, or to find any pleasure in praising Christ in this behalf. We must be prepared to say with gladness,
"Thou hast washed us from our sins in Thine own blood."
To say it with gladness, we say it with the understanding of course. The truth in these words is expressed in figure. There are no real robes to be made literally white in the literal blood of the lamb. There are sin disfigured characters to be cleansed by the double process of forgiveness and reformation.
"God, for Christ's sake, hath forgiven you."
This is the literal truth as divinely expressed (Eph. 4:32) "For Christ's sake" that is, for the sake of what has been effected in Christ. What this is has also been made plain to us in words of the utmost value, as revealing to us God's view of the death of Christ:
"Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; to declare, I say, at this time his righteousness, that he might be just and the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus."
These words will repay the deepest thought. They deserve-they demand-the utmost consideration. They are a compendium of instruction on the difficult subject of the death of Christ. They hold to the front two features of it which together yield nearly its entire explanation.
The first is that it was "for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God." "Remission" and "forbearance" exclude the popular idea of "substitution" and "payment of debt." A sin or debt is not remitted that is discharged to the last farthing. There is no forbearance in allowing a debtor to go free whose debts have been paid by another. It is highly important to have clear views of this.
It is, in fact, imperative that we hold no view of the case that obscures the kindness and grace of God in the matter. It is forgiveness he proposes: and to forgive we all know is to let go; to pass by; to remember no more against, and to do this freely, and not because of satisfaction received.
The second point is that the forgiveness is connected with an event by way of condition. It is not inconsistent with the nature of forgiveness to require a condition, such as when an apology is asked for. The event is the shedding of the blood of Christ "to declare his righteousness." We must be able to see a declaration of the righteousness of God in the shedding of the blood of Christ before we can understand the relation of that event to the kindness which God proposes to show in the forgiveness of our sins "for Christ's sake."
If we look upon Christ as a being separate from the human race-of angelic or other nature in no way under the power of sin-we cannot see the righteousness of God in his death; but the reverse; for it cannot be righteous that he should die on whom death has no claim. It requires that we see him as he is presented in the apostolic writings-"of the seed of David according to the flesh" (Rom. 1:3) "in all things made like unto his brethren"-a partaker of the identical flesh and blood which belong to them in which death works (Heb 2:17, 14).
Seeing him thus, we see a fellow sufferer with us of the death that came by Adam, and therefore one who could righteously suffer on our behalf, as our representative, one who, though without sin himself, was a possessor of the nature that had come righteously under the power of death in the beginning of its history upon the earth. We can therefore understand how his crucifixion was divinely intended to declare the righteousness of God "for the remission of sins that are past."
We can understand how God in him thus "condemned sin in the flesh" (Rom. 8:3) publicly, openly, ritually for all time; and thus established a meeting point for "propitiation through faith in his blood."
God asks men to look to Jesus crucified as the serpent-bitten Israelites looked at the elevated serpent of brass-that is, to look in faith; that is to realise that our common nature was thus in him condemned; to recognise that they were crucified with him; to partake of that death and burial in baptism; and therefore to admit and confess that they are unworthy of approaching to God as sinners of Adam's race; that in themselves they have no hope, yea, that they are unworthy to live; and that the life God will permit them to live is by His favour alone which He will extend to them "for Christ's sake," with whom He was well pleased, in whom there was no sin, though involved in the mortality of a sinful race, and whom He raised from the dead because of his righteousness, and gave him power to raise all who should come unto God by him.
Sunday Morning 191
The Christadelphian, June 1888