16 Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.
Sharp men are jewels when their sharpness is of the order prescribed by Christ-
There is sharpness enough in the world, but unmixed with the dove element, it turns to diabolism, to man's distress.
Bro Roberts - Second Voyage to Australia
Subtle as serpents
...if we affirm, that he obtained his knowledge by observation -- by the use of his eyes and ears upon things transpiring around him -- then we confirm the words of Moses, that he was the shrewdest of the creatures the Lord God had made.
"Hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree?"
This question shows that he was aware of some exceptions. He had heard of the Tree of Knowledge and of the Tree of Lives, which were both in the midst of the garden. He had heard the Lord Elohim, and the other Elohim, conversing on their own experience of good and evil; and, of the enlightenment of the man and woman in the same qualities through the eating of the Tree of Knowledge; and of their living for ever, if obedient, by eating of the Tree of Life.
In reasoning upon these things, he concluded that, if they did eat of the forbidden fruit, they would not surely die; for they would have nothing more to do than to go and eat of the Tree of Life, and it would prevent all fatal consequences.
Therefore he said, "Ye shall not surely die." The Lord God, it is evident, was apprehensive of the effect of this reasoning upon the mind of Adam and his wife; for He forthwith expelled them from the garden, to prevent all possibility of access to the tree, lest they should eat, and put on immortality in sin.
The reasoning of the serpent operated upon the woman by exciting the lust of her flesh, the lust of her eyes, and the pride of life. This appears from the testimony. An appetite, or longing for it, that she might eat it, was created within her. The fruit also was very beautiful. It hung upon the tree in a very attractive and inviting manner.
"She saw that it was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes."
But, there was a greater inducement still than even this. The flesh and the eyes would soon be satisfied. Her pride of life had been aroused by the suggestion, that by eating it their eyes would be opened; and that she would be "made wise" as the glorious Elohim, she had so often seen in the garden.
To become "as the gods;" to know good and evil as they knew it -- was a consideration too cogent to be resisted. She not only saw that it was good for food, and pleasant to the eyes, but that it was "a tree to be desired as making one wise" as the gods; therefore "she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat." Thus, as far as she was concerned, the transgression was complete.
Elpis Israel 1.3.
22 And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved.
Why should such a class excite enmity in others? It seems as if such an antagonism should be morally impossible, for the friends of Christ are the inoffensive and excellent of the earth.
Many things that seem unlikely do happen nevertheless, and this is one of them. Who would have imagined beforehand that Jesus, the sinless man, who went about doing good, would excite hatred so intense as to bring about his destruction? The explanation in his case is the explanation in the case of all his brethren. He demurred to the ways and principles and sentiments of the wealthy religious, who were on good terms with themselves and in high estimation with all the people.
The wounds that he inflicted on pious self-love, by his contentions for righteousness, created for him among his own people implacable foes more cruel than the heathen. They could not forgive his reproofs. Had they loved the praise of God more than the praise of men, it would have been otherwise: they would have rejoiced in Christ's zeal for God, and would have been ready to believe it possible that his condemnations of their class were just.
But on the contrary, they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God. Consequently, his words and attitude hurt their self-love incurably, and goaded them to compass his destruction under the respectable plea that he was a promoter of disorder and a mover of sedition. But God overruled their malice to the accomplishment of His own purpose.
The Christadelphian, July 1886
28 And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.
Much stress has been laid upon this passage by the eternal tormentists, but the fact is it gives no countenance whatever to their theory. Christ here counsels his apostles not to fear them who kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul; but rather to fear him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell, (gehenna.) The parallel passage in Luke xii. 4, 5, reads thus:
"And I say unto you, my friends, Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear Him who, after he hath killed, hath power to cast into hell (gehenna) yea, I say unto you, fear Him."
Now what is it to kill the body, but to deprive it of present life; having destroyed that, there remains nothing more that man can do: his power does not extend beyond the life that now is. But it is far otherwise with God. He has power finally to destroy by casting into hell (gehenna) where the worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. He has power not only over the life that now is, but also over that which is to come, and He has decreed that the wicked shall not see life (everlasting), but that His wrath shall abide on him (John iii. 36), and that he shall utterly perish in his own corruption.-(2 Peter, ii. 12.)
The wicked dead who are resurrected at the period of the judgment will come forth to condemnation: they will be the subjects of a second death, from which there is no redemption.-(Rev. ii. 11; xx. 14; xx. 1.) Thus will they be visited and destroyed, and the memory of them be forgotten.
Will those who uphold the theory of "eternal torment" contend that after a man has twice died, he is still alive, and in conscious torment?
He that findeth his life shall lose it; and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it."-(Mat. x. 39.) In this passage, the word translated life is precisely the same as that rendered soul in verse 28, and there is no good reason why the Greek word psuche should not have been rendered life throughout. Loss of life or destruction of being is the teaching of this and other similar passages. "The Lord preserveth all them that love Him, but all the wicked will he destroy."-(Psalm cxlv. 20.) Here is preservation contrasted with destruction.
Those that love God are to be preserved, whereas the wicked, on the contrary, are not. As it is written in Phil. iii. 9, their end is destruction. According to the theory of the eternal tormentists, the wicked who do not love God are also to be preserved; their end, according to such, is not destruction; they are, in short, according to this theory, indestructible, and, like the righteous, destined to be preserved for ever, in spite of their being enveloped in unquenchable fire!
"If ye live after the flesh, ye shall die" are the words of the apostle Paul.-(Rom. viii. 13.) Surely it is a strange perversion of language to make this signify ye shall live for ever in torments! Is it not in effect saying, as the serpent said to Eve, ye shall not surely die?-(Gen. iii. 4.) Life and death are not convertible terms, but terms of opposition and of contrast. To live is to be-to have existence; and to die is to cease to be or to cease to have existence. The Hebrew word rendered death signifies to fail, to faint; death, consequently, must be a failure or cessation of life.
The death threatened to Adam for his disobedience is defined in Gen iii. 19 to mean a return to the dust of the ground. Adam would thus, so to speak, revert to his original nothingness. He would become the subject of death unending, and, unless God raised him from this death-state, he must remain mere dust for ever. This view of the matter is fully justified by what Paul says in 1 Cor. xv. 17, 18. His teaching there is that without resurrection the dead saints are perished: that is to say, are dead and gone to dust, and never destined to come to life again-become, in short, as though they had not been.
In speaking of them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, the apostle Paul states (2 Thess. i. 9) "Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his power". This passage, even if it stood alone, would be fatal to the theory upheld by the eternal tormentists. If their view be correct, the punishment there threatened can never have its fulfilment; because, to be the subject of everlasting destruction and banishment from the presence of the Lord necessitates being put out of existence; otherwise the victim of eternal torment would literally live and move in God's presence.
To be alive, or in conscious existence, and at the same time to be out of the presence of God, is an absolute impossibility; for He is everywhere present by His Spirit. Thus David writes, Psalm cxxxix 7, 10: "Whither shall I go from Thy Spirit? or whither shall I flee from Thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, Thou art there-if I make my bed in hell, behold Thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there shall Thy hand lead me, and Thy right hand shall hold me."
Jersey, March 16, 1868.
S. G. H.
The Ambassador of the Coming Age, May 1868
32 Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven.
"whosoever shall confess in me before men, in HIM will I also confess before my Father who is in heaven;" and "whosoever shall confess in me before men, the Son of Man also will confess in him before the angels of the Deity."
When those who have sown to the Spirit appear at the judgment seat of Christ, they will be able to show in the account rendered, that the righteousness of the Mosaic law was fulfilled in them by their walk after " the Spirit, which is the truth," through which they mortified the deeds of the body, and crucified it with its affections and lusts (Rom. viii. 4, 13 ; Gal. v. 24).
This was sowing to the Spirit. And who that has been engaged in this work of faith and labour of love would dread to make his appearance before the judgment-seat of Christ ?
They are gathered there as hopeful expectants of a verdict justifying them before angels and the Father who is in heaven (Matt. x. 32 ; Luke xii. 8-9); for the angels will be present at this assize, and will be attentive observers, approving the just and despising with ignominy those who loved the world and the things pertaining to it, more than
" the truth as it is in Jesus."
36 And a man's foes shall be they of his own household.
This is the way the Prince of Peace spoke when on earth. The doctrine He taught is distasteful to the natural mind, and, by the purity of its principles, and astonishing nature of its promises, excites the enmity and incredulity of the flesh. Loving sin and hating righteousness, the carnal mind becomes the enemy and persecutor of those who advocate it. The enmity on the part of the faithless is inveterate; and where they have the power, they stir up war even at the domestic hearth.
If the believer will agree to be silent, or to renounce his faith, there will then be "peace and love" [Jude 2; cf 2 Cor. 13:11] such as the world, that "loves its own," [see John 15:19] is able to afford. But the true believers are not permitted to make any compromise of the kind. They are commanded to
"contend earnestly for the faith once for all delivered to the saints" (Jude 3);
and so long as they do this, they may lay their account with tribulation of various kinds.
39 He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.
In this day of seeing through a glass darkly, we can never fully comprehend the depths of these Divine teachings that reverse all human standards, but we can and must, by the heav-enly light of the Word, gradually approach closer to a comprehension of their marvellous and unearthly wisdom and beauty.
Bro Growcott - What shall we have therefore?