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5 Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him?
Being ignorant of "the exceeding great and precious promises" relating to the kingdom of God, the leaders of the people know not in what other way to move them to "get religion," as their phrase is. Hence, they pretend to preach "the terrors of the law." But "religion" got by such a process is worth nothing. Nay; I will retract this. It is worth something. A religion of terror, so long as it is believed, is useful as a system of ecclesiastical police, which, associated with the civil and military forces, assists materially in keeping the world in awe. But for the fear of what may be hereafter, professors would be as lawless as the antediluvian giants; and thus, by the ecclesiastical antagonism of society being destroyed, the earth would be filled with violence as before the flood.
Superstition is useful in maintaining order until the period shall arrive to supersede it by "wisdom and knowledge," which will be the stability of the times pertaining to the kingdom of God (Isaiah 33:6). But as a means of inheriting this kingdom, and of entitling men to the crown of righteousness, a religion which works by terror is utterly worthless. Remove the terror, and the religion's gone, except in so far indeed, as the possession of it is necessary to the preservation of its "temporalities," "vested interests," and worldly advantages.
But, the "pure and undefiled religion" of God has no present temporalities, or worldly interests. It has no "lands, tenements and hereditaments," nor "states," colleges, or "sacred edifices." It is like the Son of God in the days of His flesh, homeless, houseless, and poverty-stricken among the sons of men. It has great riches, and good things in store for the poor in this world who are rich in faith (James 2:5); it promises them the possession of the world (1 Cor 3:22) with all the honour, and glory, and riches of it, with endless life for the enjoyment of them; but, it requires faith in God with filial obedience to His law, in a time of tribulation (Acts 14:22; 2 Tim. 3:12), as the condition of the inheritance.
It is perfectly absurd to imagine, that men who are revelling in all the luxuries, conveniences, and comforts of life, enjoying the honour, glory, and friendship of the world, as do the ecclesiastics of antichristendom in their several ranks, orders, and degrees -- to suppose, I say, that such can inherit the kingdom of God with Jesus, and that "cloud of witnesses," of whom Paul says "the world was not worthy," is preposterous. If men would reign with Christ they must believe His doctrine, and suffer with Him (2 Tim. 2:12), in enduring persecution for the word's sake (Mark 10;29, 30; Luke 18:29).
They must separate themselves from "the churches," both state and non-conformist, which have a name to live, but are dead in trespasses and sins. The whole system is rotten, and awaits only the manifestation of the Lord's presence to be abolished with signal marks of His displeasure. Therefore, let all honest men, lay and clerical, who shall believe the truth, come out from among them, and be separate. Better stand alone for the kingdom of God's sake, than be numbered with the multitude in the day of Christ, who will be denied permission to "eat of the tree of life and live for ever."
Elpis Israel 1.5.
17 Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.
'...we are quite willing to admit that a man might be very contentious for the faith in its doctrinal features, and be very faithless in his "walk and conversation" towards both those within and without, and very unworthy the holy name with which the truth obeyed, invests the mortal perishing sons of Adam'.
The Ambassador of the Coming Age, Oct 1867.
22 Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?
The two stand related as cause and effect; faith being the motive principle it is a justification which begins with the remission of sins that are past, and is perfected in obedience unto death.
The idea may be simplified thus -- no exaltation without probation. If a man believe and obey the gospel his past sins are forgiven him in Christ; but, if after this he walk in the course of the world, his faith is proved to be dead, and he forfeits his title to eternal life. But if on the other hand, a man become an adopted son of Abraham, and "by a patient continuance in well-doing seek for glory, honour, and incorruptibility" (Rom.2:7), he will find everlasting life in the Paradise of God.
Elpis Israel 2.2.
24 Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.
'...the question is how are you to enjoy the wonderful benefits brought down from Heaven to Earth by the Word of God, who was made flesh and dwelt among the Jews? Paul says "through faith." Eph. 2:8. What is faith? The belief of testimony. What is the faith? "The confidence of things hoped for, and the conviction of things not seen. Then the Faith is a belief of the things testified of by the Apostles and Jesus, concerning the future and the past. The question then is what have Jesus and the Apostles testified?
Jesus testifies that he that believes the gospel and is baptized shall be saved. Gospel is good news. What is the good news to be believed? That Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God;-that he died, a just person, for unjustified men, and that through his blood remission of sins was procured for every son of Adam that will believe upon him; that he was buried, and rose again on the third day for the justification of believers.
-Now here is the matter of joy; - that whosoever shall believe these truths and be baptized shall be pardoned for all past offences, and be introduced to a co-heirship with Christ Jesus of that glorious inheritance to be revealed at his coming; and which is emphatically called the Hope of the Good News or gospel. My conviction is, that no one believes in Jesus unless he obeys him; in so far I consider faith and obedience as synonymous, for in relation to salvation they are inseparable.
There is the "law of faith" as opposed to the Law of Moses, and there is the "Obedience of faith" as contrasted with the Obedience of law; therefore, the Law of Faith to be of any benefit to you or to me, must be followed up by the obedience of Faith...
It is love to Christ for the pardon they enjoy makes them continue obedient; and not a fear of damnation, for "perfect love casts out fear" - there is no love in fear. They continue obedient, having their eye fixed on the recompense of reward...
To believe is to obey. To repent is to obey. To be Baptized is to obey.
The Apostolic Advocate, Nov 1834
"Without faith," says Paul, "it is impossible to please God;" and it is also apparent from James' testimony, just recited, that the faith with which he is pleased is a faith that is made manifest by works, of which Noah, Abraham, Job, and Jesus, are pre-eminent examples.
Now, this "precious faith" can only be educed by trial; for the trial elaborates the works. This is the use of persecution, or tribulation, to believers; which in the divine economy is appointed for their refinement. Peter styles the "manifold persecutions," to which his brethren were subjected, "the trial of their faith;" and Paul testified to others of them, that "it is through much tribulation they must enter the kingdom."
Probation is a refining process. It purges out a man's dross, and brings out the image of Christ in His character; and prepares him for exaltation to His throne (Rev. 3:21). We can enter the kingdom through the fire (1 Cor. 3:13); but, if a man be courageous, and "hold fast the confidence and rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end," he will emerge from it unscorched; and be presented holy, unblameable and unrebukeable (Col. 1:22-23) before the King.
A man cannot "honour God" more than in believing what He promises, and in doing what He commands; although to repudiate that belief, and to neglect, or disobey those commands, should highly gratify all his senses, and place at his disposal the kingdoms of the world, and all their glory. Not to believe the promises of God is in effect to call God a liar; and no offence, even to men of integrity in the world, is so insulting and intolerable as this.
"Let God be true," saith His Scripture. His veracity must not be impeached in word or deed; if it be, then "judgment without mercy" is the "sorer punishment" which awaits the calumniator. The unswerving obedience of faith is the "faith made perfect by works," tried by fire. God is pleased with this faith, because it honours Him. It is a working faith. There is life in it; and its exercise proves that the believer loves Him.
Such a man it is God's delight to honour; and, though like Jesus he be for the present, "despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief," the time will certainly come, when God will acknowledge him in the presence of the Elohim, and overwhelm his enemies with confusion of face.
Probation before exaltation, then, is upon the principle of a faith in the Promises of God, made precious by trial well sustained.
There is no exemption from this ordeal. Even Christ Himself was subjected to it. By the grace of God He tasted death for every man. For it was fitting for God, that ... in bringing many sons to glory, He should make the Captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. For in that He Himself hath suffered, being put to the proof (peirasqeiv), He is able to succour them who are tried" (Heb. 2:9-18). And "though He were a Son, yet learned He obedience by the things which He suffered: and being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that OBEY Him" (Heb. 5:8-9).
He was first morally perfected through suffering; and then corporeally, by being "made into a spirit" by the Spirit of Holiness in His resurrection from the dead. I say, "morally perfected;" for, although He was without transgression, His perfection of character is predicated upon His "obedience unto death."
Elpis Israel 1.3.