1 There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews:
The ruling class stood aloof altogether. But there were some among them who could not close their eyes to the extraordinary things that were being enacted before them. Though not convinced that this man, introduced by John the Baptist, was "the very Christ," they could not help thinking the hand of God was in the matter in some way. Among these was Nicodemus,
"a man of the Pharisees, a ruler of the Jews."
His earnest curiosity desired a closer view, but not in public. He did not wish to compromise himself with an affair of which he was in doubt, and which was odiously regarded by his class. He came to Jesus "by night."
...Seated before him, by the light of a flickering Eastern lamp, Nicodemus, probably after some unrecorded preliminaries, unburdens the leading feeling of his mind:
"Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest except God be with him."
It is presumable that Nicodemus imagined that this was a great concession on his part. He might even -- probably did -- think it would be acceptable to Christ as an important patronage of his cause at the hands of a ruler of the Jews, -- opening the way perhaps to that establishment of the kingly power of the Messiah which they were all looking for, and which all thought in common
"would immediately appear" (Luke xix. 11).
The presence of this complacent and purely human view of the situation would account for the abrupt and apparently otherwise irrelevant rejoinder of Christ:
"Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God."
Nicodemus was hoping to see the Kingdom of God, as a Jew according to the flesh, and perhaps as a result of lending his official influence to the Messiah, if this were he. Christ's declaration was therefore of a very pointed application. But Nicodemus did not understand it. He thought he was speaking literally
Nazareth Revisited Ch 13
3 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.
...there is a second birth of which a man must indispensably be the subject before he can inherit the kingdom.
"Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God."
If we suppose Nicodemus here asking, "Why?" we may see the point of his next observation.
"That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is Spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again."
But again, a question: Why is this fact (that that which is born of the flesh is flesh) a reason going to show the necessity for being born again? It is as if Jesus had said, "No wonder you must be born again, seeing that having only been born of the flesh, ye are only flesh, which cannot inherit the Kingdom of God." Paul, indeed, uses these latter words:
"Flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God" (1 Cor. xv. 50).
If we ask, why? he answers,
"Corruption doth not inherit corruption."
If we ask, Is man corruption? we do not require to wait for an answer: we know it. If we ask, "Is the Kingdom of God incorruption?" though we have to wait the answer, the answer is equally clear and certain. The prophets tell us that the Kingdom which the God of heaven will set up on earth when human kingdoms have run their course, is to be given to "the saints of the Most High" (Dan. vii. 27) -- and that it is not to be left to other people (Dan. ii. 44) -- but will last for ever; shall not pass away.
"Of his kingdom, there shall be no end" (Dan. vii. 14; Luke i. 32).
Consequently, a man to inherit the Kingdom must be immortal. Jesus says its inheritors will be so, in saying "They shall not die any more" (Luke xx. 36). Now, a man merely born of the flesh is mortal and corruptible, as we all know. He has no element of immortality in him. Therefore, he must be the subject of a great change before he is fit to enter the Kingdom, which requires a man to be immortal in order to inherit it.
This great change Jesus describes as a being "born of water and of the Spirit."
Nazareth Revisited Ch 13
4 Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born?
When Christ said to Nicodemus, "Ye must be born again," Nicodemus recognised the literal impossibility of such an event, saying, "How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter the second time his mother's womb and be born?" Christ rejoins by defining the sense in which he had affirmed the necessity for being born again: "Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God." Here the new birth is a process in which a man comes under the operation of water and Spirit in some way: in what way we learn plainly elsewhere. The necessity for it he points out in immediately adding, "That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit."
There is much in the nature of a right clue to the subject in these words. We know experimentally what it is to be born of the flesh; and we know it is true that that which is born of the flesh is flesh: but why is this a reason requiring that a man should be born again in order to enter the kingdom? Because flesh is a corruptible and a mortal thing, and the Kingdom of God an institution that will last for ever. This is the reason given by Paul in 1 Cor. xv. 50, "This I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God: neither doth corruption inherit incorruption." Therefore, "This corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality" (53).
Why should Christ press this fact on Nicodemus? Because Nicodemus was approaching Christ (by night) on the hypothesis common to the Jews: that the Kingdom of God was to be a kingdom that mortal men would enter. He hoped, no doubt, to obtain a place therein if Jesus were the Messiah (as Nicodemus was inclined to think), and if Jesus favourably received his advances, which Nicodemus thought probable. It was, therefore, natural that Jesus should call his attention to the fundamental flaw in his advances. It was needful to tell him that a man must be changed from a mortal and corruptible man into an immortal and incorruptible man before he could enter into the kingdom as a ruler and co-heir with the Messiah.
This is a totally different thing from the supposed metaphysical change of Plymouth brotherism, which leaves mortal men as much mortal men after the change as they are before it. Men immortalised at the resurrection are fully developed "children of God," as Jesus says:
"They are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection" (Luke xx. 36). It was, therefore, natural that Christ should speak to Nicodemus of the process conducting a man from the one state to the other as a birth and a birth "again." Men are born once in being born of the flesh at the beginning of their existence: but if they are the subject of no other birth than this, they have nothing but what the flesh can give them - which is vanity now, and death at last. It is no artificial sentimentalism to affirm that a man "must be born again" to enter into the Kingdom of God. If he is not born again, he remains "but flesh, a wind that passeth away, and cometh not again" (Psa. lxxvii. 39).
But how is the process brought about? When looked into, in its Scriptural completeness, there is no mystery in it beyond the mystery that lies at the root of every work of God, whether in "nature" or "grace." Jesus indicates the modus operandi in his further quoted words to Nicodemus: "Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit he cannot see the Kingdom of God." Here are two elements and two stages in the process. Had we no other light on the subject than is contained in these words, we might marvel what Christ could mean by being "born of water: the difficulty vanishes when we take into view the work of the apostles.
We find they used water in the doing of the work. "Can any man forbid water?" (Acts x. 47). "See here is water" (Acts viii. 36). This was the water of baptism, as the context shows in any case: baptism by immersion, of course: for there was no other water baptism known to apostolic practice than that "burial" with Christ in baptism spoken of in the epistles (Col ii. 12; Rom. vi. 4). Was this water baptism the birth of water spoken of by Christ? We can see it could be no other when we consider what baptism did for its subjects. It put them into Christ (Gal. iii. 27). Before then they were strangers and foreigners (Eph. ii. 12-19). But now they were "children, and if children, then heirs" (Rom viii. 17). That which produces children is birth: and if water baptism produces children of God, then is water baptism a "birth of water," and men, in being baptised, are "born of water."
But this does not complete their fitness for the Kingdom of God. They are still mortal men-still flesh and blood, and therefore cannot inherit the Kingdom of God, as Paul alleges in the passage quoted. What is necessary to complete their fitness? "This mortal must put on immortality." How is this change to be effected? "He that raised up Christ shall also quicken your mortal body by His Spirit that dwelleth in you" (Rom. viii. 11). Here is the birth of the Spirit which, superadded to the birth of water, completes the qualification of the happy subject for that inheritance of the Kingdom of God, which was the subject of Christ's conversation with Nicodemus.
There is neither water nor Spirit in the so-called "new birth" of orthodox religion, and there is no birth at all in the true sense, but a mere excitement of the sentimental organs of the brain flesh, which effects no change towards God. A man is changed in his relation to God only if God recognise the change. He has revealed the conditions upon which He will recognise a change in the position of a son of Adam from being a child of death to his being a son of God, and a child of hope.
These conditions are exhibited in the Gospel. They do not consist of a paroxysmal transformation by the stroke of the clock, enabling a man to say in the language of fanaticism, "I was saved-at such a moment, on such a day." They consist of the affectionate and enlightened reception of the truth revealed in the Gospel and submission to its requirements, which is a work of time, involving "begettal" as well as "birth" (James. i. 18; 1 Pet i. 23), and ending in the development of a new race of men in the earth, among whom there will be no more pain, and no more death (Rev. xxi. 4).
The Christadelphian, March 1896. p92-93.
5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
Born of water: Become a son and daughter through baptism
Born of spirit: Become a son and daughter when judged faithful and made equal to the angels.
Baptism is not a literal birth, but as it is the act by which a man not a child of God becomes such, it is a natural figure which speaks of it as a birth of water.
Nazareth Revisited Ch 13
6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
Now, Jesus Anointed is Power, or Spirit, manifested in flesh, and justified in Spirit (2 Tim. 3:16): or, "Made of the seed of David according to flesh; and constituted Son of God in power, according to spirit of holiness, out of a resurrection of dead ones" (Rom. 1:3, 4): and therefore styled "the Lord the Spirit," or "a life-imparting Spirit" (1 Cor. 15:45; 2 Cor. 3:17, 18). Here are Spirit and Flesh. The Spirit is Theos, or Deity; the Flesh was the Son of Mary, and named Jesus; and when anointed with Spirit again at his resurrection, became Jesus Christ, or the Anointed Jesus. This anointing was his begettal of spirit
"The Son of Man ascend where he was before"?
This is as incomprehensible to him [the natural man] as the eating of the flesh and the drinking of the blood of a slain man imparting life to the eater; and he exclaims with Nicodemus'
"How can these things be"?
To this question, the answer, in principle, is, that
"that which has been born ek, of, from, or out of, spirit, is spirit"; and as "God is Spirit," is therefore Deity. "The Spirit breathes where he pleases, and thou, Nicodemus, hearest his voice; but thou perceivest not how he is come, and in what he goes away; thus is everyone who has been born of the Spirit."
Nicodemus and his contemporaries heard the voice of the Spirit, breathed forth in the words of spirit and life, uttered by Mary's Son, who they knew was a teacher come from God . But they did not perceive that this teacher was the Eternal Spirit, nor did they comprehend how he came.
Judging by flesh-appearances, they only saw Mary's son, as they saw Isaiah or one of the prophets, as teachers from God. They did not perceive that Jesus was "a body prepared" by special Spirit-creation, the Cherub upon which the effluent power of the Eternal Substance rested; and that upon him, and through him, he walked through the country breathing forth his voice in the doctrine taught, and his power in the miracles performed.
..., still less did they comprehend that the Effluent Power would so thoroughly change the constitution of the "Body Prepared," that it should be no longer corruptible flesh perpetuated in life by blood and air, but should be transformed into spirit-flesh and spirit-bones, constituting a Spirit-Body -- a material, corporeal substance -- essentially incorruptible, glorious, powerful, deathless, and quickening; and that in this, as corporealized spirit, the Effluent Power that had "come down from heaven" -- from the abode of the Eternal Substance,
"which no man can approach unto" would "ascend where he was before."
They did not see into this any more than our Trinitarian, Arian, or Sabellian contemporaries do. These accept symbols created by the controversies of past ages, but can explain nothing, having no scriptural understanding of the "heavenly things."
The Son of Man born out of the flesh was flesh -- mortal blood and flesh, but he is no longer so. The same Son of Man has been transformed into incorruptible spirit-substance, and is therefore spirit; and as spirit (not as flesh) is "where he was before." He is "Yahweh the Spirit," the fleshly element being an accretion to the Effluent Power, which does not change the constitution of the Spirit, but is spiritualized thereby.
Between the two living manifestations, was interposed the death-state. In this state, the Cherubic Flesh was deserted by the Eternal Substance.
Phanerosis - The Anointed Cherub
7 Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.
Nicodemus... did not comprehend that the emanation of the Father's substance, converged and localized, and rendered visible in the Spirit-Dove - that the Spirit which had thus come, would go away corporealized in a body born from the grave, to the place in which he was before, and there rejoice in the glory possessed before the world was.
These things being understood, it is not difficult to understand the import of the sentence;
"thus is every one that has been born of the Spirit."
He is first in the flesh, subject to disease and death. This, however, is to be superseded; and those who are "taught of God," and by that teaching are enlightened by the spirit-and-life words of the truth, which brings them to "the obedience of faith," are transformed or
"fashioned like unto the body of His glory."
This occurs at the epoch of the resurrection, termed by Paul, "the redemption of the body" -- the One Body --"the manifestation of the Sons of God," who all become "like him" in body, as they have been in faith and practice -- Spirit, because born of the Spirit, and therefore God, because,
"Spirit is God."
Well may the apostle exhort believers to
"walk worthy of God, who has called them to His kingdom and glory."
It is indeed "a high calling," and a great manifestation of divine love, bestowed upon men by the Father, that He should invite them to become His sons, and when manifested in the divine nature, be in them "all things for all."
When we contemplate such a destiny, that we are to be elements of the Spirit-glory, the Cherubic manifestation of the Eternal Spirit, which is to fill the earth as waters cover the sea, we ought, indeed, to
"purify ourselves, even as He is pure,"
and to live superior to the mean and petty considerations of time and sense. "Walk worthy of God" -- worthy of a position in which we shall be isangeloi, equal to the angels,
"the sons of God being the children of the resurrection."
Phanerosis - The Anointed Cherub
12 If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things?
"The evidence of the truth of all revelation is so constructed as to be quite sufficient for the humble and sincere who are ready to believe; while it is such as may be cavilled at by any who wish to disbelieve."
Preface to THE TEMPLE OF EZEKIEL'S PROPHECY - Bro Sulley
13 And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.
This is conclusive.
Wherever Enoch, Moses, and Elijah may be they are not in the heaven where Jesus is; nor is the heaven where they are, the heaven to which the gospel invites believers. The heaven where Jesus is, and the heaven where they are, are heavens for bodies, and not "sky-regions" for ghosts. The angels have their own heaven to which the sons of Adam have no right or title.
"The meek shall inherit the earth,"
says Jesus, and that will be heaven enough for them, when God shall have rooted the wicked out of it, and have finished it at the end of
"the administration of the fulness of the times."
Herald of the Kingdom and Age to Come, Aug 1856.
"Even the Son of Man who is in heaven" is good English, but not an exact equivalent of the Greek in which the verb is in the indefinite participle form. "Being in the heaven," is the literal wording of the Greek. You have but to ask, when? to get the sense. The answer is, "when ascended." Christ was alleging the non-ascension of any man to heaven but himself, but he had not yet ascended, but was about to do so, and "being in the heaven," he was the only man of whom it could be said that he had ascended to heaven.
The Christadelphian, June 1886
He anticipates the question how any man on earth could know of things in heaven. He adds, no man had been to heaven to learn. At the same time he foreshadowed his own coming ascent thither. He did so in language a little obscure. It reads in the C. V. thus:
"No man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of Man which is in heaven" (Jno. iii. 13).
The obscurity is increased by the present participle (being) having been turned in translation into the present indicative -- is. "The Son of Man being in the heaven" gives us the point of view of the "coming down." He is not in heaven till he ascends: and he cannot descend till he ascends. The idea is more easy to catch when freely paraphrased thus:
"It will not be affirmable that any man has ascended up to heaven until the Son of Man having ascended thither, and being there for a while, descends to the earth again."
He will then be able to say,
"I have been to heaven, and the only man who has ever been there: for though Enoch and Elijah have been away from the earth, they have not been to the presence of the Father, and cannot testify of the things that are there."
Jesus, when on earth, said to his disciples, "I go to him that sent me." When he returns, he will be able to say, "I have been to him that sent me." We who now live in the interval of his absence, can see the bearing of this. He is
"gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God, angels and principalities and powers being made subject unto him" (I Pet. iii. 22).
At his return, he will be able to tell us unutterable things. The wide universe and its movements are a great mystery to created intelligence: still more, the residence and surroundings of the Personal Father-Deity, the fountain and source of all power and being.
What may we not expect in the way of enlightenment on these stupendous themes from him who not only has power to bestow such capacity of understanding in the change from the mortal to the immortal, but who has been basking for 18 centuries in the inner sunshine of the Father's glory, and who intimately knows the highest things?
Nazareth Revisited Ch 14
The only way immortal soulists can evade it is to say that the soul is not the man, and in that, they concede one of their vital contentions.
This affirms the ascent and descent of the Son of Man, who is now in heaven; not the descent of the word to become flesh, and the subsequent ascent of that flesh, when resurrected. The following literal translation appears to me more plain than the above:-
"No one hath ascended into the heaven, except he having descended from the heaven, the Son of Man, he being in the heaven."
The heaven indicated here is called elsewhere
"the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heaven."
The scriptures declare that Enoch, Elijah, and Moses ascended to heaven; but these words of Jesus, show that they did not ascend to "the heaven" where he is.
Again, "he having descended," the translation of ̓ καταβας ho katabas, is the second aorist participle, which affirms the action as passed at some time or other. If it had been the perfect, it would have affirmed the descent as passed at the time Jesus spoke; but being aorist, or indefinite, it affirms a past action, but without fixing the time.
But Jesus gave his hearers a datum by which they might know that it was to be a future past action. This datum is expressed in the phrase "He being in the heaven." When he spoke these words he was in Palestine-not in heaven. They would, therefore, understand him to mean, that he was first to ascend to the heaven, and being there, where no man had been before him, he was to descend to earth again; so that his descent would be a past action at some time future to his "being in heaven."
Herald of the Kingdom and Age to Come, Feb 1856
The impregnation of a human ovum by the Spirit must have resulted in a very different child from that which is born of the will of the flesh.
The argument set against this, by those who contend for Jesus being "a mere man," ignores an important aspect of divine operation. The argument is this: that as the Spirit has created flesh and blood-men and animals-without infusing into them a divine element, so may the Spirit have begot Jesus, without imparting anything beyond the qualities appertaining to men in general.
If the Spirit were a mere mechanical agent, like the elements of chemistry, there would be force in this argument; but the Spirit is the Eternal Essence-God-the First Cause, and, consequently, the vehicle of the Eternal Wisdom and purpose. The results of its operation are, consequently, according to the divine purpose.
By the same Spirit, endless diversity of result is developed. Thus, in the apostolic ecclesias, there were "diversities of gifts, but the same spirit."-(Cor. 12:4.) In creation, there is infinite variety of life and nature, but all existing in and produced by the same spirit, which determines the constitution of anything by its own will.
Now, applying this principle to the matter in hand, the question is, What was the result, divinely contemplated, in the conception of Jesus? Was it not the bringing about of the thing imported by the name bestowed upon the child-Emmanuel? (God with us)- the manifestation of God in our nature, resulting in a man, who, though a man, was "the arm of the Lord" (Isaiah 53:1), stretched out in love for our salvation from death?
If this is admitted-and it cannot be otherwise-then it follows that the interposition of the Spirit, in the way announced by Gabriel, produced a higher result than when it merely operates for the creation of an animal. It introduced "the Word made flesh" the God of Israel in flesh-manifestation, through the Spirit: a man, therefore, in such sympathetic relation to Deity as to be, in his mental relations, a very different man from us, who are merely of the earth, earthy.
This difference is put forward by John the Baptist, who was sent to prepare his way: "He (Jesus) must increase, but I must decrease. He that cometh from above is above all; he that is of the earth is earthy, and speaketh of the earth; he that cometh from heaven is above all."-(John 3:30, 31.)
The difference is manifest in all his history. Angels celebrated his birth on the plains of Bethlehem; a star guided the wise men of the east to his cradle; the Spirit detained Simeon till he put his eyes upon the babe which was declared to him to be "the Lord's Christ;" at twelve, the child confounded the doctors of the law in the temple, and was even then bent upon "his Father's business."
The difference becomes more and more apparent at every step. Did there ever live another man, who could say to those who knew him, "Which of you convinceth me of sin?"-(John 8:46.)
People may quarrel as to what the difference consisted in; but that there was a difference cannot be denied; and if there was any difference at all, there may have been great difference, so far as the principle is concerned. This was a man who spake as never man spake. Where did the difference lie? In his parentage, for he was a child of the Spirit, on his Father's side, and of the flesh on his mother's side. See the statement of the angel to Joseph when he was about to put Mary away, being found with child: "Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit."
Shall it be said that he was the child of the Holy Spirit, and that the Holy Spirit was not with him in his childhood? Why even John, the forerunner of Jesus, was "filled with the Holy Spirit from his mother's womb." This is the testimony of Luke 1:15. If this was the case with John, who said he was not worthy to stoop down and loose the shoe latchet of him whose way he was sent to prepare, on what principle shall we deny it was the case with him who
was greater than John?
If it is denied, the manifestation of God is denied; and there is then a want of explanation as to the sort of man Jesus grew into; for, let this fact be noticed, that the human brain, however well organised, brings no wisdom into the world. It is like a clean sheet of paper:
there is nothing written upon it. Wisdom is only acquired by experience, and does not always
come then. When it does come, it comes late. It is never first. As Solomon says, "Folly is bound up in the heart of a child." Many blunders pave the way to what little wisdom we may ever attain to.
The Operations of the Deity, The Christadelphian May 1870
14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up:
What did this symbolize? How did this typify Christ?
That which caused death was lifted up as a type of sin's body being crucified and forming the basis of reconciliation for all who look toward it. Paul refers to this when he says (Rom. 6:8)-
"Our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin."
Christ overcame and crucified our master, sin-in-the-flesh, and delivered us from his service. He raised up the body of sin on the cross just as Moses raised up the serpent, exhibiting and condemning that which brought death, and those who look upon him are delivered.
Bro Growcott - By his own blood
SIN CONDEMNED: YAHWEH HONORED
And the people became "much discouraged because of the way"; and they "spake against God and against Moses.". . . "And the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and much people of Israel died. Therefore the people came to Moses, and said, We have sinned, for we have spoken against the Lord and against thee; pray unto the Lord that He take away the serpents from us. And Moses prayed for the people. And the Lord said unto Moses:
Make thee. a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole; and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live. And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole; and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the
serpent of brass, he lived" (Num. 21:4-8).
This, the closing scene of this record of the Name in the wilderness, presents a symbol of the cross; a symbol of the condemnation of sin in the flesh.
Sis Lasius - Yahweh Elohim
15 That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.
The eternal life of the Scriptures is imperishable, intellectual, moral, and corporeal faculties in active exercise.
Life and Works of Dr. Ch 16
16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
While men consider that there is a want of harmony between them and divine wisdom and power, and admit that they are deserving of divine wrath; they do not understand, that as offenders they have no right to institute the means of reconciliation.
They act upon the principle, that God has left it to them to worship Him according to the dictates of their own reason. Hence the world is full of modes of worship as diversified as the thoughts of sinful flesh.
The notions that men may invent religious services; and that the divine displeasure can be appeased by human contrivances are fallacies which are characteristic of false religion wherever they are found. Men have no right to invent religions, or modes of worship. Even reason dictates this when the question is viewed as a breach between friends.
When a misunderstanding occurs between such, the initiatory of a reconciliation of right appertains to the party offended; and he only has the privilege of dictating the terms of agreement. Hence, in the breach between God and man, it is God's prerogative alone to prescribe; and all that men have liberty to do is to accept, or reject, the conditions of amity and peace.
This view of the case precludes entirely the idea of appeasing the wrath of God by human ingenuity. God needs not to be appeased by man; and every system, therefore, which is predicated upon the notion that it is necessary, is not only unscriptural, but essentially false.
He is already reconciled to the world, which He has always loved; although it acts the part of, and therefore is, the enemy of God.
"He so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life," (John 3:16)
The fact of a divine religion being instituted is proof of the love He bears the human race. He seeks to appease men by His goodness, which invites them to repentance. His love is manifested in all that He has done for the world. He has sought to enlighten it, and to exalt it to a participation in the divine nature by the ameliorating influences of the truth.
He has sent messengers to it with their lives in their hands, ready to lay them down in the divine work of beseeching mankind to be reconciled to God.
Elpis Israel 1.4.
There is no doubt as to this meaning a "simple belief on Christ," as the appointed condition of salvation, but then it does not tell us all. It does not inform us what it is that we are simply to believe. We should not know from the mere terms of the verse that it meant anything more than believing in Christ's appearance in the world 1850 years ago.
We should not know that it embraced his death, his resurrection, his coming again, and his kingdom, as we learn it does from many other testimonies (1 Cor. xv: 1-3; Rom. x: 9; Heb. ix: 28; Acts viii: 12).
Neither should we know that baptism and obedience of the other commandments were necessary in addition to "simple belief." We must not found our faith on any brief statement of the matter, but must open our minds to the discernment and reception of all that is testified about it.
The Christadelphian, March 1898
Furthermore - the statement 'God so loved the world...' doesn't admit approval of the status quo...
An understanding of the principle of self-sacrifice behind agape love anticipates the giving of the only begotten of the Father.
Bro Paul Hart
19 And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.
Resurrection of Rejectors
Will any be raised who have not come under the law of Christ?
Answer.—Those who are ignorant of the law of Christ will not be raised (Rom. 4:15; Acts 17:30; Ps. 49:19; Is. 24:14); but those who are aware of it, and refuse to submit to it, are responsible, and will be condemned by it in the great day of retribution.—(Jno. 3:19; 12:48; Rom. 2:8, 16; Mark 16:16.)
Misapprehension of the subject arises from a loose understanding of the phrase "under the law." It cannot be more exactly defined than in the words "bound to obey."
The Jews were bound to obey the law of Moses; the Gentiles were not, because it was not given to them; but the Gentiles are bound to obey the law of Christ, for Christ sent Paul to them for the purpose, calling upon them to obey. Before then, as Paul said at Athens,
"God winked at the ignorance that prevailed (Acts 17:30), but now commandeth all men everywhere to repent."
Where men are not aware of the command, they cannot reasonably be held accountable for their non-compliance; but when they are aware of it, it makes them responsible and amenable to life or death at the coming of Christ. Hence the gospel is either
"a savour of life unto life, or death unto death."—(2 Cor. 2:16.)
To say that no man can be raised who is not technically "in Christ" is contrary to fact: for many were raised before Christ appeared.—(Heb. 11:35.) That no man can attain to immortality out of Christ is true; but a man may easily come forth to renewed mortal life in that relation, as shown by the cases referred to, and as evident from their being permitted to live now at all.
It is a mere question of whether justice requires it. Christ will raise the baptized unjust; and these are as much in their sins as the unbaptized rejectors of the word.
...If a man insult God, he will have to answer for it.
The Christadelphian, May 1873
The time of the dead that they should be judged" (Rev. 11:18).
This tells us there is no judging of the dead till Christ returns again to the earth; but it also tells us there will be a judging of them then. And so general and so large is the event as to justify the description of the epoch that witnesses it as
"the time of the dead." "Many of them that sleep"
shall come forth. Many means not a few; it also means not all. When we ask why not all, the Scriptures give but one answer and that answer is a reasonable answer: namely, that all have not knowledge of the divine requirements, and therefore do not stand upon the basis upon which condemnation in judgment will be rendered.
"Men that have no understanding are like the beasts that perish" (Psa. 49:20).
"This is the (ground of) condemnation that light is come (John 3:19).
"If ye were blind ye should have no sin" (John 9: 41).
"To him that knoweth to do good, but doeth it not, to him it is sin." (James 4:17).
"He that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not" (Matt. 7:26).
"Who, knowing the judgment of God that those who do such things are worthy of death, etc." (Rom. 1:32).
"Times of this ignorance God winked at, but now commandeth" (Acts 17:30).
"The words that I have spoken shall judge" (John 12:48).
"Preach the gospel . . . he that believeth not shall be condemned" (Mark 16:16).
"The servant that knew his Lord's will shall be beaten with many stripes, and the servant that knew not . . . few stripes" (Luke 12:47).
"Received mercy because I did it ignorantly" (1Tim. 1:13).
"Though thou knewest all this" (Dan. 5:22).
"Whosoever will not hearken to My words which he shall speak in My name (which implies that he knows of them) I will require it of him . . . the same shall judge him in the last day" (Deut. 18:19; John 12:48).
Knowledge or the absence of knowledge is always affirmed as the determining condition of responsibility, which is in accordance with the most elementary conception of justice afforded to us in the Scriptures, and suggested to us by the mental constitution God has given us.
Seasons 2. 53
22 After these things came Jesus and his disciples into the land of Judaea; and there he tarried with them, and baptized.
He did not personally immerse believers. The act of immersion was performed by his disciples: but done by his direction and authority, it was considered as done by him - 4: 2.
Nazareth Revisited Ch 14