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
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
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?
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
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.
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:
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 or obeyed 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. Hence the exhortation.
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
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.
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