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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. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?
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 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
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.
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.
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.