1 And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint;
Here let us learn from Christ that men "ought always to pray," and even on behalf of such men and such works as may seem the strongest. He asked the prayers of his disciples on behalf of a work which he himself had in hand. Thus, also, Paul entreated: "Brethren, pray for us."
The dependence of all things and creatures on the Eternal Father, through his boundless spirit filling and upholding the universe, and through which His will can affect the subtlest and the smallest conditions, would teach us, if we could but have our eyes open at all times, that prayer is a necessity for all work that is to prosper in the Lord'.
7 And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them?
The unjust Judge (Luke xviii, 1-8). This parable is directed against the view of some, that prayer is of no use. The indicated lesson of it is that "men ought always to pray, " which is the frequently inculcated precept of Scripture. That men should think it is of no use is natural in the absence of immediate apparent results, and in the absence of any power on their part to feel how God regards prayer. It is because of this that it was necessary that the Spirit of God should teach us, as He has done, by Christ and the apostles and prophets, what the truth is on the subject, that in the faith of it we might do what is wise and needful in the case, "Pray without ceasing."
Jesus gives us to understand by this parable that it is not only regarded by the Father, but that it is effectual in leading to results -- always pre-supposing that the prayer is by an acceptable supplicant. The argument of it evidently is -- if an unjust man is moved by continual entreaty to do what is requested, that he may get rid of the troublesomeness of importunity, how much more will God, who is kind and just, be moved by the continual requests of those he loves.
But there is a caution against impatience. He may "bear long" with those who are afflictions to his people. There are various reasons for this. God may by them be accomplishing the very purposes of his love in subjecting his people to needed chastisement. But whatever the reason may be, we are not to be discouraged at the apparent want of response, but to persevere, praying and waiting, in the confidence that God will do what is best, and cause "all things to work together for good to those who love God and are called according to his purpose."
It will at last happen that God will refresh his people by a great and visible interposition on their behalf, delivering them from all enemies, and bestowing goodness upon them, above all that they can ask or think.
Nazareth Revisited Ch 31.
8 I tell you that he will avenge them speedily [AD 70]. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth? < the belief on the land>
"When the Son of Man cometh, shall he find the belief of his coming to avenge his servants and their persecuted adherents in the minds of those who dwell in the land of Judah?"
...it will not be difficult to understand, that the coming of the armies of the Little Horn of the Goat with their Eagles to destroy the City and Temple, was the coming of the Son of Man, after the illustration of the unjust Judge, to avenge his own elect upon the Jewish Power, which delivered them up to the councils, scourged them in the synagogues, spoiled them of their goods, imprisoned them, and put them to death.
He had chosen the Twelve, and sent them on their errand to the government and people of Judea, and this was the treatment they and their associates received. They very naturally, cried day and night for God to
"avenge them of their adversaries."
But "he would not for a while"-for forty years, "because," as Peter says,
"he is long suffering, unwilling that any should perish, but that all should come to a change of mind"-2 Epist. 3:9.
At length, he said I will avenge this widow (the community of His elect ones, his "little flock" in Judah, widowed by his absence) "lest she weary me."
Judah's case had become hopeless till the time when Jerusalem's warfare should be accomplished at the revelation of the glory of Yahweh in our future. He determined, therefore, to cut them off as a sapless branch of the national Olive Tree (Rom. 11:17-27).
When Jesus spoke this parable concerning the avengement of his elect, he said,
"I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man cometh, will he find the belief on the land"
In this Jesus evidently taught, that the Son of Man's coming to avenge his servants would be soon; certainly not eighteen hundred years off; for this could not be termed, "speedily."
History shows it was within forty years; yet, though so soon as this, when his presence was revealed by the encampment of the armies of the Little Horn around Jerusalem, few believed in that appearing; so faithless and apostate had Christian Jews become in the very country where the labours of the Son of Man himself, and of all his apostles, had been so abundant.
As with the ninth, so with the forty-second generation of Israel from Abraham. Moses belonged to the ninth; Jesus, the prophet like unto him, to the forty second. When Moses preached the gospel of the kingdom to Israel in Egypt, they received it gladly; and were baptized into him, as their prophet, priest, and king-their redeemer and lawgiver-in the cloud and in the Red Sea; and walked in him in the wilderness of probation.
But though they ran well for a short time, they turned back in their hearts to Egypt. They proved themselves to be
"a froward generation, children in whom is no faith"-Deut. 32:20.
Ten times they provoked the Eternal Spirit, until at length, he sware in his wrath, that they should not enter into his rest-Ps. 95:8-11. Accordingly their carcasses were caused to fall in the wilderness; and, Joshua and Caleb excepted, they did not attain salvation in the promised land.
This was allegorical of the fate of those who drew back unto perdition in the last days. Jesus preached the gospel of the kingdom of Judah, multitudes of whom were baptized into him. For awhile they ran well and rejoiced in the light. They walked in a state of probation during forty years, in which
"after they were illuminated, they endured a great fight of afflictions; partly, whilst they were made a gazingstock both by reproaches and afflictions; and partly, whilst they became companions of them that were so used."
But the great majority became "weary and faint in their minds," though they had not resisted as yet unto blood, striving against the sin of apostacy. Iniquity abounding among them, the love of the greater number had waxed cold. Contentions and strifes prevailed among them, with every evil work. It is evident from Peter, James, and Jude, that a perfectly antediluvian condition of things prevailed among them; and that, therefore, the fate of the old world, and of Sodom and Gomorrha awaited them.
They had been the salt of the forty-second generation; but they had lost their savour; so that nothing now remained, but that they and it should be cast out, and trodden under foot of the Gentiles.
Herald of the Kingdom and Age to Come, July 1859
In the nineteenth century, when the times of the Gentiles are nearing their end, and the era of the Lord's return has approached, there has been a revival of the original apostolic faith, through the agency of Scriptural study and demonstration. This work has been perfectly natural in its proximate features (see Life and Work of Dr. Thomas), but thoroughly spiritual and apostolic in its results.
It has been unaccompanied by any visible manifestation of the Spirit, such as characterised the apostolic era, but is none the less the evolution of the Spirit's work in its individual and collective achievements. There is no reason to expect any recurrence of this manifestation of the Spirit until the Lord's actual re-appearance in the earth. On the contrary, there are reasons for believing the divine programme to be such that it cannot take place.
The Ecclesial Guide
The truth has been providentially revived in the earth by the labours of Dr. Thomas, and our eyes have been opened to it. Let us then refuse to join hands with any who seek to hide or destroy the truth.
Our danger in this respect lies not so much with the alien, but with those who, having been in our midst, are using their influence (it may be unwittingly) to take us back to the land of unbelief-there are the upholders of renunciationism, of immortal immergence, of partial inspiration, of no resurrectional responsibility for enlightened rebels, of present possession of the Holy Spirit, etc.
We cannot do much for the truth, but this we can do, we can refuse to compromise it by extending the hand of fellowship to men who leave or deny it. But strength to do this will only exist where the Bible is recognised in the light in which Paul puts it-as the inspired and unerring Word of God.
Bro AT Jannaway
The Christadelphian, Aug 1900
The history of the Truth throughout all time exhibits always the tendency after revival, to go back to the weak and beggarly elements of apostasy. We anticipate that the present endeavour to promote purity will only find a few adherents, and that while there may be many in the day of Christ's coming who bear the name of Christadelphian (as there are many who bear the name of Christian) yet there will be very few of them who will have "the faith in its purity."
Christ's words are a solemn warning. Let us heed them.
The Berean Christadelphian, May 1923
"The Faith" At Messiah's Apocalypse
The time of the coming of the Son of man is to be a time of exceeding small faith, insomuch that he makes it a question whether he shall find "the faith" upon the earth. That there will be an elect people, we know. There will be a people looking for, and by their prayers hastening, the coming of the Son of man: but they will be a poor, despised remnant, who, like Lot and Noah, shall testify to the saving of their own lives, and to the condemnation of the apostate and anti-Christian aggregation of "Names of blasphemy" which fills the world.
Those things which the gospel speaks, it speaks to those who are under its dispensation. It is "the church," not the heathen world, which is described in such terms as are proper to express the state of Sodom, and the world before the flood. How different is this account of the state of "the church" from that which they are daily looking for.
They are looking for a great increase of the faith, a great outpouring of the Holy Spirit, a great conversion of the world!!! They pretend they see the signs of it all around them, and to be daily waiting for a wonderful day of grace, a millennium of holiness, without one act of judgment to prepare the way of it; as if there were no tares to be burned up; no bad fish to be separated, and cast into the furnace.
The nature of the kingdom, and the very existence of it as a purpose of God, is gathered from those scriptures which speak of the condition of the world after the Son of man is come, and this coming is described to be with judgment upon a secure and faithless church.
But this generation says "No!" And why? Because they are lulled asleep into a fatal security, and are given up, as Paul predicted, to "believe a lie." But, say they again, the coming of the Lord cannot be near at hand, because there is still much faith upon the earth; there never was a time, they say, when there was such a spread of religion in all ranks and classes of the community; and it is the favorite theory of some of them, that religion has been gradually increasing in the world unto this day, and has never been for a moment retrograde.
These things would appear incredible if we had not had them stated by the leaders of the "religious world" themselves. Now to all this we answer, What proof would you desire that a wife's affection had fallen away from her husband, and that her faithfulness had also perished, than that she never desired his presence, nor hoped for his coming again to her any more?
Can there be good faith in Christ, the Saviour and Husband of the true [ecclesia], when a church pretending to be that [ecclesia] desires not his coming, and, when it is spoken of to her, disbelieves, derides, or howls with violent indignation?
Can there be any faith, or any love from a wife to her husband long separated, whom she wishes not to see again?
Whence arises this instinctive revulsion against any discourse of the Lord's coming? Whence this aversion to the whole subject? Whence this unwillingness to examine the documents? Whence this hatred and derision of those who do? It is not as if they had studied the subject, and been rooted and grounded in another opinion concerning it: they are indifferent to it altogether.
This is a sure proof how little faith there is in Christ. Moreover, ask them what they do believe? They will tell you, that they believe he died for sinners. But ask further, Did he die for your sins? They reply, they hope so. But do you believe so? It is not about your hopes, but about your faith, we inquire.
Either no answer at all, or a doubting one. Are they at peace with their God, or do they stand in doubt? They stand in doubt. What then, have they believed? Nothing that can be seen, even in that personal reference to which they exclusively devote themselves.
Have they peace of conscience, or joy in the Holy Spirit? Do they believe with Abraham that they are heirs of the world as the consequence of obeying the truth as it is in Jesus? Are they striving, like Paul, that if by any means they may attain to the resurrection of the dead?
They have not even heard of a resurrection from among the dwellers in the dust, unto which it is any difficulty or any prerogative to attain. What then, we ask, is the faith of this throng they call "the church?" We ask this: for we can find nothing but a mixture of opinion and doubt.
Men are surely convinced of nothing. But opinion is not faith, nor is doubt faith; nor is the belief of Christ's birth, life, and death, faith; which Paul defines to be "The substance of things hoped for, the conviction of things unseen." So that it is manifest that this day is a day of very little faith, when nothing is believed concerning the future.
Now, when nothing is believed concerning our own personal benefit in Christ, but is left in doubt; when nothing is believed concerning the ordinances; every doctrine is held only according as it can be demonstrated to the intellect, and discipline observed only as its usefulness can be seen, or the sanction of public opinion obtained for it; where the hope of the Lord's coming is put off to an indefinite distance; the mention of his kingdom reverently wrapped up in the deepest obscurity,
—verily, verily, if the Son of man were to come this day, would he find the faith upon the earth?
Herald of the Kingdom and Age to Come, Mar 1861
12 I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.
There is a generation that are pure in their own eyes, And yet is not washed from their filthiness. (Prov 30: 12)
Fasting is abstinence from all fleshly gratification because of sorrow, calamity, and distress.
Superstition abstains from eating certain meats, and thinks to commend itself to God by the act. The Pharisee in Luke 18:12, "fasted twice a week, and gave tithes of all his possessions"; and multitudes of pharisees among the Gentiles do the same, and think that they stand high in the favour of heaven because of it.
The disciples of John the Baptizer, and of the Pharisees, "fasted often and made prayers"; but the disciples of Jesus, while he was with them, neither fasted nor made prayers.
The days, however, came when they fasted and prayed; but did not manufacture prayers, and publish them, as Jews, Papists, and Protestants do, who are so barren of soul, that they cannot pray "out of book." When Jesus left them, then they fasted and prayed, for they were often grievously persecuted and distressed.
The Jews and Gentiles fast, but Yahweh sees it not; they afflict their souls, but he takes no knowledge of it; and the reason is, because he does not approve their fasts. He says, that the fast he has chosen is to
"loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, to let the oppressed go free, and break every yoke; to deal bread to the hungry, to house the poor, to clothe the naked, and to be accessible to our own flesh. If," says he, "thou take away from the midst of thee the yoke, the putting forth of the finger, and speaking vanity; and if thou draw out thy soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul; then shall thy light rise in obscurity, and thy darkness as the noonday: and Yahweh shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and made fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not."-Isai. 58:3-12.
Such are the characteristics of a national fast acceptable to Yahweh; which practiced by any nation would, doubtless, be attended with beneficial and prosperous results.
In regard to individuals, Jesus says,
"When thou fastest be not as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance; for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily, I say unto you, they have their reward. But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine hand, and wash thy face, that thou appear not unto man to fast, but unto thy Father who is in secret; and thy Father who seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly."
Habituated abstinence from all excess; or as Paul says, "Abstain from all appearance of evil," at the same time, "always rejoicing," and bringing forth the fruit of the Spirit-is the fasting which the Father sees, and for which he will openly reward
Herald of the Kingdom and Age to Come, Apr 1859
14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.
This is Christ's rule. If a man have any merit, it will shine out in the midst of his fellows, while he himself seeks to be hid. They will not fail to drag him from obscurity, when his value makes itself felt.
But unfortunately men who are the least fit for exaltation are the most anxious to attain it. And these are the very persons whose petty ambition should not be gratified. "Before honour comes humility." Self-seekers are intense embarrassments for the truth.
The Christadelphian, October 1870
The Pharisee and the Publican.
This immediately follows the other parable about the duty of prayer, and seems designed to bar the way against the extravagance that might be run into with regard to the subject, and that as a matter of fact has been and is run into. Though "men ought always to pray and not to faint," there are qualifications to be observed. Men are not to suppose they will be "heard for their much speaking" (Matt. vi. 7); neither is the mere offering of prayer acceptable unless it is offered in an acceptable mind. What constitutes this acceptability of mind is variously revealed.
This parable is one of the revelations. It was spoken we are told in the verse introducing it, concerning "certain who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others;" and it is concluded by the declaration on the part of Christ, that "everyone that exalteth himself shall be abased, and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted."
The language of the two men in the parable shows what is meant. The Pharisee, who had a powerful backing of favourable human reputation, was well pleased with his attainments; the publican, whom the Pharisee and Jews in general regarded in an odious light, realised his dependence on the divine clemency for permission even to live. Their prayers were tinged with these sentiments respectively; and, in consequence, the one was acceptable, and the other obnoxious.
Why did the Pharisee think so well and the publican so ill of himself? We get the clue in that other expression of Christ's, "Thou blind Pharisee." A man whose eyes are open -- a man who understands things as they are -- has such a sense of the eternal power, greatness, and holiness of God, and the ephemerality and weakness and sinfulness of man, that his own attainments, however excellent by comparison with bad men, must always appear as nothing in his eyes.
His own righteousness must appear to him as filthy rags in the light of the purity and power and correctness of the Spirit-nature. This is the estimate that the Scriptures always put into the mouths of acceptable men. And it is the language of reason and not of cant, though canting use has been largely made of it in the ecclesiastical ages.
Nazareth Revisited Ch 31.
19 And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? none is good, save one, that is, God.
Sin's flesh of which Yahoshua partook in not good.
The spirit of Yahweh that filled him was grace and truth.
The Person of Christ and the Mission of Christ...
These cannot be disjoined. Yet the popular practice which you think we should copy uses the one to destroy the other, without intending it. The personality of Christ cannot be too vividly realised or too strongly cherished, but our love of Christ as a person must always be based on a knowledge of him as the manifestation of the divine purpose.
He comes before men styling himself The Truth, and the man who does not comprehend the truth, is not prepared to offer acceptable love. Christ will not accept love except on the basis of knowledge as to who he is, what he has come into the world for, and what his will is. These in summary are "the truth."
Men must believe the Gospel before they can be saved, and the Gospel is made up of the facts about himself, in his first and second appearings, or "the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ."
A faith that lays hold of "him," but ignores the truth, is not a faith that will be of any avail. The "him" used in the epistles, must always be read as expressive of the truth of which he is the embodiment.
To read it in the personal sense as distinct from the doctrinal, is to fall into the mistake of the young man who came to Christ with personal admiration, but doctrinal ignorance. Styling him "Good Master," which Christ refused to receive on the basis on which it was tendered
The Christadelphian, March 1898
28 Then Peter said, Lo, we have left all, and followed thee.
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.
30 Who shall not receive manifold more in this present time, and in the world to come life everlasting.
Business is a continual weariness of buying and selling and getting gain, useful in its way, but a deadly fever if it monopolise the mind. Jesus gives us a correct estimate of it in telling us there are those who, when they hear the word, "go forth, and the cares of this world and the lusts of other things entering in choke the word and it becometh unfruitful."
The wisdom of daily reading becomes more and more apparent. This lesson cannot be too strongly enforced, or too distinctly apprehended among those who have fled to lay hold of the refuge set before them in the Gospel.
Their life depends upon it. They are in danger of being blinded to it. Away from it, we are open to a hundred plausible deceptions which lay hold with a death-grip all the more fatal because soft and sweet.
Spiritual decay potently prevails where the reading of the word is neglected. A lamentable mistake is made by those who conclude they have no time to read.
What should we say of a person concluding they had no time to take their food? No more insane would this be than the other hallucination in its ultimate effect. Man lives not by bread alone. He may live an animal life by bread alone: but animal life is a brief affair.
There comes a life afterwards that springs from the word now stored into the heart; and hallucinated is the individual who excludes the word of God from his daily consumption on the plea that he has "no time."
What is he so busy about? What should we say of a man in the cabin of a sinking ship, who should neglect preparations for the life-boat on the plea that affairs in the cabin left him no time?
This is a dying life-dying, dying, dying; and slaves of death are those who allow its transient concerns so to fill their heads and hearts as to shut out the "one thing needful." A wise man will not be found perishing so.
He will not be cheated on any pretext, out of that bread which shall be unto his "life-everlasting." If he is ever so poor or ever so close-worked he will find twenty minutes a day, at least, to sit at the shrine of God, and be taught by the voice that speaks to him as from over the mercy seat of the ancient tabernacle of the testimony.
And, if rich, he will smite the golden beast with the rod of his authority, and order it to be in the corner for a time every day, while he listens to the Maker and Possessor of heaven and earth.
The Christadelphian, Aug 1872
42 And Jesus said unto him, Receive thy sight: thy faith hath saved thee.
Though faith was a desired and suitable accessory to miraculous operation, it was not indispensable to the exercise of that power on the part of either Christ or his apostles.
...The power of God is irresistible, and "needs not help from man." But there is nothing in this inconsistent with the requirement that men who are to be benefited by the exercise of that power should honour God by putting faith in the operation.
No doubt the exercise of faith predisposes for its effectual working; but it has no more power to produce the effects than favourable soil has to bring forth choice plants without seed or planting.
Men have only to try to produce the miracles of Christ by faith to see how incapable faith is without the co-operation of the power of God.
And as for those who say they could work miracles if people only had faith, let them try their hand on their own lame, blind, and dead, and their mistake will be apparent. Though Christ asked for faith and esteemed it highly, he did not have to wait for it in order to be able to show forth the power of God.
Nazareth Revisited Ch 20.