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3 Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.
The Scriptures can do everything for us in relation to the light. This is known, felt and keenly appreciated by all interested in the support of error. Hence, in the days of Diocletian, one of the pagan predecessors of Constantine, a decree was issued commanding the surrender of all copies of the Holy Scriptures, for it was found that so long as they obtained circulation the Christian doctrine could never be suppressed.
The popes, as deadly, and more insidious, enemies of the Truth than the pagan Roman emperors, followed the example of Diocletian. The Bible and popery are as mutually hostile as the light of the sun and the thick darkness of Egypt that might be felt. But it is not paganism and popery alone that are practically hostile to a free and untrammelled investigation of the Word of God.
The protestant world, while it deludes itself with the conceit that "the Bible, the Bible alone, is the religion of protestants" -- while it spends its thousands for its circulation among the nations in their native tongues -- is itself hostile to the belief and practice of what it proclaims. "The Bible alone is not its religion; for, if it were, why encumber its professors with the "Common Prayer," "Thirty nine Articles" and all the other "notions" of a similar kind?
To believe and practice the Bible alone would be a sufficient ground of exclusion from all "orthodox" churches. When Chillingworth uttered the sentiment there was more truth in it than at this day; but now it is as far from the fact as that protestantism is the religion of Christ. To protest against an error such as Romanism, and to affirm that every man has a right to worship God according to the dictates of his own conscience, is a very different thing from believing and obeying the gospel of the Kingdom of God and walking in all the ordinances of the Lord blameless.
To do this would unchristianise a man in the estimation of state churches and sectarian denominations; for the Bible religion requires a man to "contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints" (Jude 3), which in these times cannot be done without upheaving the very foundations of the self-complacent, self-glorifying and self-laudatory communions of the anti-papal constitution of things. It is true that no man or power has a right to interfere between God and the conscience; but it is also true that no man has a right to worship God as he pleases. This is a protestant fallacy.
Man has a right to worship God only in the way God has Himself appointed. "In vain do ye worship Me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men." This is the judgment pronounced by the wisdom of God upon all worship which He has not instituted. He declares it to be vain worship, concerning which the apostle to the Gentiles says "Let no man judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath; let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels. Be not subject to dogmatisms (dogmatizesqe) after the commandments and traditions of men; which things have indeed a show of wisdom in WILL-WORSHIP and humility" (Colos. 2:16, 18).
These exhortations apply to all faith and worship, papal and protestant. If popery judges men in meats, protestantism does the same in drinks and in the sabbath; they both judge men in holy-days and movable feasts; and though protestantism repudiates the worshipping of angels, it proclaims in its fasts, preparations, concerts etc., a voluntary humility, and celebration of "saints and martyrs," renowned in legendary tales for "the pride that apes humility."
Let the reader search the Scriptures from beginning to end, and he will nowhere find such systems of faith and worship as those comprehended in the papal and protestant systems. The gospel of the Kingdom of God and the name of Jesus is not preached among them; they are communions which are uncircumcised of heart; theological dissertations on texts, called "sermons," are substituted for "reasoning out of the Scriptures" for "expounding and testifying the Kingdom of God, and persuading men concerning Jesus, both out of the law of Moses and out of the prophets" (Acts 28:23, 31); Puseyism Swedenborgianism, and all sorts of 'isms, to which, in apostolic times the world was a total stranger, run riot among them; the lusts of the flesh, of the eye and of the pride of life, have extinguished even the energy and zeal of the anti-papal rebellion out of which they have arisen; they are dead, twice dead, plucked up by the roots, and therefore the time is come to cut them off as a rotten branch from the good olive tree (Rom. 11:17, 20, 22).
Let therefore every man that would eschew the wrath which is begun and who would become an heir of the Kingdom of God, save himself from the unholy, lifeless and effete denominations of these latter days." By remaining in them a man partakes of their evil deeds and subjects himself to their evil influences. The word of man has silenced the Word of God in their midst, and religion has degenerated into a professional commodity sold for cash according to the taste which most prevails in the soul markets of the world.
Let us then "cease from men whose breath is in their nostrils, for wherein are they to be accounted of?" "They be blind leaders of the blind" in whom is no light, because they speak not according to the law and the testimony of God. Let us repudiate their dogmatisms; let us renounce their mysteries; and let us declare our independence of all human authority in matters of faith and practice extra the Word of God.
The Scriptures are able to make us wise, which the traditions of "divines" are not. Let us then come to these Scriptures, for we have the assurance that he who seeks shall find; though we must also bear in mind that "many shall seek to enter in but shall not be able." We must seek by the light of Scripture, and not permit that light to be obscured by high thoughts and vain imaginations which exalt themselves against the knowledge of God. Great is the consolation that "the wise shall understand," and "shine as the brightness of the firmament." Be this then our happiness to understand believe and do, that we may be blessed in our deed and attain to the glorious liberty and manifestation of the sons of God.
To the Bible then let us turn, as to "a light shining in a dark place," and with humility, teachableness and independence of mind let us diligently enquire into the things which it reveals for the obedience and confirmation of faith.
Elpis Israel 1.1.
The saints who understand the word will keep aloof from politics. None are more interested in them than they; but they will mix themselves up neither with one party nor another; for God regulates them all: therefore to be found in any such strife, would be to contend in some way or other against Him. The servant of the Lord must not strive, except "for the faith once delivered to the saints." For this He is commanded to "contend earnestly " (Jude 3); because such a contention is to "fight the good fight of faith," and to "lay hold on eternal life."
Elpis Israel 1.2.
The world's rulers, temporal and spiritual, are as essentially hostile to the gospel of the kingdom as ever. They could not embrace it, and retain the friendship of the world. This is as impossible now as at the beginning. But things are now quiet with respect to the gospel; not because the world is reconciled to it, but because there are scarcely any to be found who have intelligence of it, faith, and courage enough, earnestly to contend for it as it was originally delivered to the saints (Jude 3).
In apostolic times, it was the privilege of the ecclesia to make known to the world-rulers "the manifold wisdom of God" (Ephes. 3:10). This mission brought the disciples of Christ into contact with them, as is related in the Acts. When they stood before these men of sin, in whom the thinking of sinful flesh worked strongly, the truth of God proclaimed to them brought out the evil of the flesh in all its malignity.
They imprisoned the disciples of Christ, threatened them with death, tempted them with rewards, and when they could not shake their fidelity to the truth, tormented them with the cruellest tortures they could invent. The apostle styles these the artifices, or wiles of the accuser (Ephes. 6:11); against which he exhorts believers to stand firm, being panoplied with the whole armour of God.
Elpis Israel 1.3.
8 Likewise also these filthy dreamers defile the flesh, despise dominion, and speak evil of dignities.
'Criticising Dr. Thomas'.
As Paul spiritually begat Onesimus, so Doctor Thomas, either directly or remotely, has spiritually begotten us. His writings are as powerful to instruct today as they were when "Elpis Israel" first appeared.
But what about Doctor Thomas's mistakes ? These are not so likely to hinder any one's obedience to the Truth as is the discouragement of those who, by loud and insistent criticism, turn many away from his peerless expositions.
If what we deem to be error calls for notice, let us take it in hand meekly and humbly, just as we should deal with a parent's error.
The fruit of the Doctor's teaching is to be seen in hundreds of ecclesias and in thousands of brethren rejoicing in a knowledge of the Gospel. What can his critics show as the result of their efforts ? Time spent in handing on the Doctor's instruction will make both ourselves and others wise unto salvation.
Those who thus occupy themselves are not likely to devote much time and energy to Doctor Thomas's shortcomings.
(Sister) C. H. Jannaway
13 Raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever.
It speaks of evil men among the brethren who "turn the grace of God into lasciviousness," that is, who make the fact that "we are not under the law but under grace" an excuse for licence to serve the flesh, brute beasts, trees without fruit, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever, &c.
These Jude proceeds to say were prophesied of by Enoch as "the ungodly, murmurers, complainers, walking after their own lusts." These are not the servants of the Lord who may sometimes to their grief err through weakness, but the hardened slaves of the flesh, having their conscience seared as with a hot iron, whose exclusion from the Kingdom could never for a moment be in doubt.
The Christadelphian, Oct 1894. p391-393.
14 And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints,
15 To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.
...the union of the Sethites and Cainites was productive of the worst results. The offspring of this union were "mighty men of renown," whose wickedness "was great in the earth;" for "every imagination of the thoughts of their hearts was only evil continually" (Gen. 6:1-5).
Their apostasy, however, was not perfected without remonstrance on the part of God. There was one eminent man of whom it is testified, that "he pleased God." He "walked with God" in the way of the tree of life, for three hundred years after the birth of Methuselah. His name is Enoch. The spirit of prophecy was in him, and the gigantic wickedness of the Antediluvians aroused him to reprove their iniquity. Animated by the hope of the promise concerning the woman's Seed, he prophesied of the serpents of his own and future time, saying, "Behold, the Lord cometh with myriads of His saints, to dispense justice towards all, and to convict all that are ungodly among them of their ungodly deeds which they have impiously committed; and of all their hard speeches, which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him" (Jude 14-15).
But his expostulation was unheeded, and God graciously "translated him that he should not see death" (Heb. 11:5); thus rewarding him for his constancy, and giving the faithful a notable illustration, and earnest, of "the recompense of the reward," and of the certainty of the punishment of the world.
Elpis Israel 1.4.
20 But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the holy spirit,
Most holy faith
There is no condition so wholesome for an ecclesia as that in which it is achieving triumphs over the unbelieving, through the active ventilation of "first principles." Nothing strengthens or purifies more than the truth in its elementary simplicity; nothing invigorates the soldiers of Christ more than the earnest contention for these against the high thoughts and imaginations that uprear themselves all around, like the everlasting hills.
"Building up," properly understood, consists of the application of these in the solution of enigmatical forms of Bible speech; and in the enforcement of those results of thought and action which logically spring from their reception.
When an ecclesia suspends the agitation of first principles, it will not long continue pure or healthy...The truth, in its simplicity, will beget humility, love, and goodness.
...The cure for all evil is the exaltation of "the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ." These must always constitute the staple; anything that would lessen their importance, or dim their glory, is evil. Deep things (as some speak) are only accessory, and the depth is more in the mode of their expression than in the things themselves, when understood. The true deep things are "the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ." These are the feast of fat things upon which the soul will fatten; all other deep things take the flesh off the bones. Pepper and mustard are good in their place, but healthy men will demand a considerable basis of roast beef.
Ambassador of the Coming Age, Oct 1868
21 Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.
With God, you can do everything. Without Him you can do nothing. With Him is all joy: without Him is all sorrow. Strive constantly to get so close to Him that you are totally at one with Him. This is life. This is peace. This is accomplishment and success. This is the nobility and beauty and happiness that man was meant to be.
- Bro Growcott - Search Me O God
23 And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.
Saving believers from the Balaamites (Judaizers and their successors the Priests and Clergy of Christendom).
v 22- 23. Jude exhorted Antipas to "have compassion on some, making a difference; and others, save, snatching them out of the fire with fear (lest they also should be scorched); hating also the garment defiled by the flesh."
Some were more deceived than wilfully deceiving, still, they were all engaged in one work, consciously or not, and that was in "making the word of God of none effect by their traditions," and "teaching for doctrine the commandments of men so that the sentence of condemnation to the blackness of the darkness in the Aion, rested upon them all.
'...Apart from their spiritual merchandising, many of them are moral, intelligent, and honorable citizens of the world. The Protestant Clergy of all sects are generally more intelligent and moral than their brethren in "Holy Orders" of the Latin and Greek departments of Jezebel's house. The latter are designated apocalyptically "worshippers of Demons, and of idols of gold, silver, brass, stone, and wood, incapable of seeing, hearing, or walking: murderers, sorcerers, fornicators, and thieves" (Apoc. ix. 20,21).
Eureka - The Balaamites.
24 Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy,
25 To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.
Let us, in this quiet period of meditation together around the Word of God, endeavour to extract, in as full measure as we can, the transcendent comfort and deep spiritual adventure of these wonderful words.
Let us not, like so many, struggle to wring all the meaning and inspiration out of them in an effort to pull them down to our own natural, mundane level of thought and experience. Let us rather let their full impact flood over us and fill us with awe and reverent fear in the contemplation of the marvellous, eternal purpose to which we, by the grace of God, are related.
"Now unto him who is able to present you FAULTLESS. . ."
With God all things are possible. The only salvation for the Berean body, and for the Christadelphian movement as a whole, is-by the transforming inspiration of such heavenly promises-to develop generally an exalted frame of mind and habit of thinking that dwells on a far higher plane than the natural mind.
This MUST be the general condition of the membership if we are to be a part, in our day and generation, of the true, holy Bride of Christ developed through the travail of the ages. Otherwise we are, as a body, just deceiving ourselves-pretending to be completely different from all the rest of the perishing world, when actually we are not.
"The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God . . He that is spiritual discerneth all things . . . We have the mind of Christ."
Here is the key. On this we stand or fall. "We have the mind of Christ." There is no use just trying to talk people out of various foolish, worldly things-alien associations, following worldly sports, television, smoking, the literature, entertainments, activities and unclean habits of the heathen world around us.
The glorious Gospel of God is a positive, not a negative, thing. If we are to have any justification for separate existence as a body from the various Christadelphian sects and the world around us, we must generally develop and inhabit a spiritual plane of thought that will make an indulgence in godless habits and empty pastimes utterly unthinkable to us.
If we do not set ourselves to strive to attain to this general condition as a body, we might just as well give up the struggle and drift down the broad and easy way with the rest. "We have the mind of Christ," says Paul-the fervent, devoted, spiritual viewpoint that Christ had. Can we say it with him?
"Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy."
Are we boldly taking advantage of the ecstasy of these glorious, heavenly things? Or are we blindly endeavoring to be content with natural poverty and gloom while within reach of unsuspected, limitless spiritual riches and light? Are we vainly, frustratingly laboring to lift ourselves by inches, when we could-if we would only believe it possible-be carried away by the Spirit to the limitless heights and grandeur of the "heavenlies in Christ."Bro Growcott - Filled with all the fulness of God