12 For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath.
A certain class would turn the logic of these sayings just the other way. They would say if a man have not, it is a reason why something should be given to him, and not taken away; and if a man have, it is superfluous to give him "more abundance." There is a certain common-sense smartness, no doubt, about this kind of criticism, but it has no application to the subject in hand. It might apply to food or clothes or money; but it does not apply to those spiritually- enlightened moral and intellectual attainments which commend a man to God.
If a man lack these, there is nothing to work on to lift him higher. But if he have them, the tendency is for him to increase in attainment and in acceptability with God and man.
When, in addition to this, we take into account the judicial element underlying the case, any remaining mist entirely disappears. A man or a nation's poverty in the matter in question is largely the result of neglect and misuse of opportunities given. God gives these, and asks men to seek him. If they turn away, or remain supine in the presence of proffered mercy, God may choose to withdraw the privileges, as it is written in Isaiah:
"Forasmuch as this people ... have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precepts of men, therefore behold I will proceed to do a marvellous work among this people -- the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, &c." (xxix, 13, 14); and as it is also written concerning the Gentiles: "They received not the love of the truth that they might be saved: and for this cause, God sent them strong delusion that they should believe a lie" (2 Thess. ii, 10, 11).
"Therefore speak I to them in parables," said Jesus, "because they seeing, see not: and hearing, they hear not, neither do they understand, and in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah." Here again it might be said "Surely, if they are deficient in sight and hearing, that is a reason for speaking very plainly, and not for cloaking meanings in parabolic forms of speech. Yes, to a merely human view of the case, that might seem sound reasoning. But it is impossible for a merely human view to be a right view of the ways of God. How can mortal man conceive what is right and fitting from God to man? It is God's view that is all-governing. The judgment of God would never be congenial to human views.
Nazareth Revisited Ch 26.
13 Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand.
14 And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias [29: 13, 14; 9, 10], which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive:
The age that witnessed the birth of Christ was the most unpromising of all ages, in a moral sense, of any high moral development on natural principles. The Gentile world under Roman ascendancy was sunk in the grossest immoralities of Paganism, which the revelations of Pompeii may illustrate; and as for the condition of the Jews, it was one of self-conceited barrenness and formalism, which has not been exceeded by any recorded experience of that people.
The condition of the Jews is more important to be considered than the condition of the Gentile nations, as it was in the midst of the Jews that Jesus was born, and of their common race and stock in the line of David.
Christ's own portraiture of Israel's state is vigorous, brief and decisive. Speaking generally, he said "This is an evil generation" (Luke xi. 29).
This is the divine definition of Israel's condition at the time of Christ's appearing. The truth of the definition is reflected in the Rabbinical writings of that and subsequent times. The grave discussion of trifles, conducted illogically, and distorted with childish legend, impresses the mind with a sense of mental paralysis and nightmare. There is much boast of Hillel and Philo: it is astonishing how little ground for boast appears in the reading.
"Dry," indeed, was "the ground" in which the root of Jesse quickened and sprang in the beginning of the first century -- as Isaiah had foretold -- "A root out of a dry ground" (Isa. liii. 2). If there had not been a divine planting in the dry ground, no such "tender plant" could have shot forth in the cracked and arid soil. It had been dry and barren for generations.
Since the last words of inspiration by Malachi, Israel had slowly settled into that shallow half-clever state of self-conceit and disobedience in which Jesus found them -- punctilious as to trifles, but reprobate to the "weightier matters of the law:" on the best of terms with themselves, yet by their insubordination towards the highest requirements of the law, piling up the divine anger in a slow- gathering, terrible storm that descended shortly afterwards and swept them all away. Even Malachi's words show them well advanced in spiritual decomposition in his days.
"Who is there among you that would shut the doors (of the temple) for nought? neither do ye kindle a fire on mine altar for nought. I have no pleasure in you, saith the Lord, neither will I accept an offering at your hand" (Mal. i. 10; see also 12, 13; ii. 8,9, 17; iii. 7, 9).
Such an "age" could have nothing to do with the production of Christ. It was much more likely to produce monsters like the John and Simon who figured so flaringly at the siege of Jerusalem.
Nazareth Revisited Ch 2
15 For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.
16 But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear.
God is a dreadful majesty, and will be held in reverence, and when men are blind and deaf to Him through their habitual and presumptuous negligences for a long season, it is not unreasonable at all that God should hide his wisdom from them. God requires to be approached with the humility and docility of little children. When men do this, they will experience the truth of what is written,
"I love them that love me, and they that seek me early shall find me."
None of us can have any difficulty in understanding this blessedness. It was a privilege and an honour confined to that generation, and to the few lowly men in it whom God saw fit to admit to it -- the privilege of witnessing the glory of God manifested in Christ. It is a privilege to be renewed in a more impressive form when God's work on earth has reached a riper stage: "for God shall send Jesus Christ ... (in) the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began." But how few in our generation do themselves the advantage, and God the honour, of looking forward with any interest, or even faith, to this prospect.
Jesus speaks of "the prophets and righteous men" of ancient times. He says they "desired to see those things" which the apostles were admitted to witness. Herein we may discern a divinely-approved characteristic which is of very little value in the eyes of the common run of people: this characteristic of "desiring" the day and the things that God has promised to bring.
The "prophets and righteous men" spoken of by Christ had this "desire," and we read that they will hold a prominent place in the day when the things promised become realities (Luke xiii. 28: Rev. xi. 18).
Nazareth Revisited CH 26
18 Hear ye therefore the parable of the sower.
In this parable, there are no less than six varieties of product from the same sowing -- the way side, the stony, the thorny and the good; and three varieties even of the good. These all received the word sown into their hearts, even with joy; but it was only those who, with honest and good hearts, understood it, brought forth fruit unto endless life.
The good soil believers are the Spirit's witnessing prophets; while the other soil believers, not sufficiently evangelized for their own personal salvation, are too much enlightened to accept the dogmas of the Great Harlot, of her Harlot-Daughters, and of the Denominations, alias, the Abominations, of the earth; or to conform to their ordinances and institutions.
Hence, the Court of the Gentiles, besides containing the Harlots and Abominations, has a numerous class of nondescripts, who are not professors of any of the superstitions of the Court. These are variously styled by the spirituals of the world, "infidels," "liberals," "revolutionists," "disorganizers," "democrats," and so forth; but apocalyptically they are termed, "THE EARTH" (xii. 16).
23 But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.
I came across a copy of the Herald of the Kingdom and Age to Come, which was being published monthly by Dr. Thomas. I had not the least idea of its character. I had never heard of it before that I know of. The one thing I perceived was that it was a religious magazine; and in my state of mind I withdrew it from its place with a feeling of satisfaction, and sat down to read.
The experience was extraordinary. I expected the usual sort of religious reading - dealing with the "experiences of the soul," in the light and shade of depressed and joyful feeling. But lo! Here was a religious book that denied straight away in the first article that there was such a thing as an immortal soul in man at all, and then denounced the whole religious system built upon such an idea as a superstition, and an imposture for which the Bible was not responsible.
I was startled. I was awakened. I was filled with a new joy. The power of the article lay in its argument. Mere assertion would, of course, have filled me with aversion: but the Scriptures were quoted in disproof of the immortality of the soul in a way that literally carried me away.
Bro Roberts - My Days and My Ways Ch 2.
24 Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field:
The Parable of the Tares.
It deals with "the kingdom of heaven" in a history extending to the rectification of all things. We must have in view the truth concerning the kingdom of God before we can understand parables that illustrate it. The kingdom of God is not exclusively an affair of futurity, though it mostly belongs to the future. The foundation of it has been laid in what God has already done upon the earth. His work with Israel by Moses -- his work by Christ -- have both contributed important and powerful elements; and even his work in Providence among the Gentile nations is doing something towards it in the way of preparing the earth and mankind. When the kingdom is finally and fully established, it will have been "prepared from the foundation of the world."
The parable of the tares represents that phase of it that embraced the personal work of Christ. This appears from Christ's explanation. We will look at that explanation item by item:
"A man sowed good seed in the field." Explanation -- The sower, Christ: the field, the (Jewish) world: the good seed, the truth, as embodied in its true believers.
"But he said, Nay, lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them."
Explanation -- The destruction of the wicked would have interfered with the development of the righteous, which requires that the wicked prosper for a while in their disobedience.
25 But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way.
The enemy, the devil, consisting of the authorities of the nation, who everywhere stealthily neutralised the teaching of Christ, disseminating evil doctrines, and scattering wide their sypathisers and disciples, who drew away the people, and multiplied their own number greatly by the energy of their operations and the popularity of their influence.
26 But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also.
When Christ's teaching began to take effect in the development of earnest disciples, the result was not so general as might have been expected, for the Scribes and Pharisees had meanwhile been very busy on the quiet, and out of the sight of Christ, and the people sided with them in larger numbers than would have been the case if they had been let alone to consider the works and words of Christ for themselves.
27 So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares?
The surprise of the Apostles that the people did not submit to the word of Christ, and their proposal (as on one occasion) that they should command that fire should come down from heaven and destroy them.
Nazareth Revisited Ch27
30 Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.
Both the wheat-class and the tare- class in Israel to be left unmolested till the arrival of their respective times, to be dealt with "according to their deeds." The tare-class to be harvested "first": the wheat-class afterwards -- the one a long time after the other, as the event has proved.
The harvesting to be performed by the angels in both cases, under Christ's command, but the harvesting of the tares to be done in the way of Providence, in which the angels work by influencing natural circumstances, while the harvest of the wheat would be done by them in an open and visible manner. The parable has been nearly all fulfilled, except the glorious part which is still future.
"First" as the parable required, at the end of the Jewish world, the tare-class were gathered into Jerusalem, as into a furnace of fire, where there was wailing and gnashing of teeth, where they were destroyed with every circumstance of suffering and horror, as a study of the details of Josephus' account of the devastation of Judea, and the destruction of Jerusalem, nearly forty years after Christ's ascent to "all power in heaven and earth," will abundantly shew to the reader. Thus were retributively "gathered out of his kingdom all things that offended" during his personal ministry, and "them who did iniquity."
The kingdom of the Holy Land is his kingdom which enables us to understand the interpretation. If we supposed with modern theologians that "his kingdom" was "heaven" or the "church," it would be difficult to apply the statement that he is to gather the workers of iniquity out of his kingdom. But with an understanding of the kingdom, there is no such difficulty. The destruction of the whole generation of Jews that were honoured by his presence and wonderful works, and proved themselves so utterly unworthy by rejecting and crucifying him, enables us to recognise the historic application of a parable which was at the same time a prophecy.
The gathering of the wheat is next in order -- tares "first," -- wheat afterwards. The wheat-class will be gathered openly by the angels at Christ's return. "He shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven even to the other" (Matt. xxiv. 31). The "gathering of the wheat into the barn" will have its fulfilment in the entrance of the righteous into the Kingdom of God.
"Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father." It reads as if the shining forth of the righteous in the Kingdom would be immediately after the gathering out of the Kingdom of all that do iniquity, but the scope of the parable compels us to attach the larger meaning of "then" to its use in this case. When we say, "first this, then that," we do not define time, but order. "First the tares, then the wheat" gives no indication of the length of the interval. As a matter of history, it has already run into more than 1800 years.
The righteous will shine forth in the kingdom when the angels come forth to gather them for an entrance therein. It is a long time since the tares were burnt up on the same spot with fire unquenchable. It does not follow from this that there is no judgment and rejection of the unfaithful at the second coming of Christ. There is a place for every part of truth: and one part of the truth is that the tares of Christ's own day were cast into a furnace of fire for consumption within forty years or so of the utterance of the parable.
Nazareth Revisited Ch 17.
33 Another parable spake he unto them; The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened.
The Parable of the Leaven.
There have been fanciful interpretations of this. The leaven has been taken in its evil sense (for it was undoubtedly used to denote the spreading tendency of evil principles). It has been suggested that Christ meant the working of apostacy in the Church till Christendom should be overrun with error. In this interpretation, the woman is taken as "the church," and the "three measures of meal," as the three great ecclesiastical divisions of Christendom -- the Greek Church, the Roman Church, and the Protestant communions. There is a certain superficial appropriateness in this that is pleasing at its first proposal: but deeper thought will not confirm it.
Jesus spoke his parable with a meaning that his discerning hearers could penetrate. The coming state of the Christian world so-called was certainly not within their horizon; and it is not likely that Jesus would concern himself with the temporary triumph of darkness as the subject of a parable, or that he would speak of such a triumph as a matter in which the kingdom of God was "like" something else.
In the Apocalypse, apostate Christendom is spoken of as "the court which is without (outside) the (mystical) temple," and which was not to be measured because "given to the Gentiles." It would be incongruous if a system sustaining such a relation to the divine regards should have been the subject of a parable speaking of it as "the kingdom of heaven." We must look for an interpretation that will steer clear of such an anomaly. It is not difficult to find one.
Leaven has characteristics apart from evil. One of these is its tendency to quietly work in secret with a power that will conquer a mass out of all proportion to its own bulk. A small quantity divided among three "batches" will leaven the whole. It is evident this is the aspect in which Christ finds a likeness to the kingdom of God. His work is "hid" "till the whole is leavened."
This is the feature -- a change extending to a certain "whole" brought about by a something "hid" and working quietly. As in the Case of the mustard seed, so in this; it is not difficult to see a perfect parallel in the relation of the kingdom of God to the earth in which we dwell. It was a long time ago put into the mass or bulk of human affairs, as leaven is put into dough. The form in which it was so introduced was the word and work of God "at sundry times and divers manners."
It has been quietly affecting them ever since. In the laws established in Israel; in the word written by the Spirit, and studied by the faithful; in the gospel preached by the apostles, and received, more or less intelligently by thousands, there has been a gradual modification of the state of things on earth, apart from which, the whole world would have been in the condition of the uncivilized races at this day.
A principal part of the work done in this leavening process has been the development in all the ages of a people in harmony with God, from Abel downwards; who, in the further unfolding of the process, will re-appear in the land of the living, and be made use of in the position of governors of mankind, to powerfully affect the populations of the globe with the word-leaven till all are brought into sympathy with God, and the glory of the Lord fills the earth as the water covers the sea.
Nazareth Revisited Ch 27.
37 He answered and said unto them, He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man;
38 The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one;
But the analogy of nature in resurrection is not confined to the sprouting or germinating, and the ripening into " the fruit of righteousness," which is incorruptibility and life (Rom. viii. 10). It is seen in a field of newly-sown grain. When the seed scattered therein has lain certain days in the earth, if germinable, it sprouts, or springs, into view, and the whole field looks fresh and green.
But what observer, from mere appearance of the field of vision, can tell whether the green herb be grass, wheat, rye, or cheat? If he desired a pure field of wheat, and he were to undertake to separate the wheat from the cheat and rye, he would be as likely to root up the wheat as the others, being so much alike before they have received the bodies the Deity has been pleased to give them. So, also, in the resurrection fields of bodies sprouted, germinated, or generated, from the dust.
Viewed by a spectator unacquainted with their antecedents, all who have come forth, both just and unjust, appear alike to him. He could not from mere appearance, separate the one class from the other. The crowd before him in this stage of resurrection, which is simply anastasis, or standing up, are in corruption, dishonour, weakness, and naturality ; or those physical qualities are constituents of all bodies begotten or conceived in dust-" dust of the earth,
earthy " ; yet " very good " bodies, in the sense that the first Adam's was " very good " before he sinned (Gen. i. 31 : ii. 7).
But, to return to the similitude of the fields fresh and green. On the supposition that the seed sown were all wheat, and that it had all sprung forth, and made a very fair show to the eye ; nevertheless, agriculturalists know well that much of what has sprung forth will, from various causes, perish ; to use the phraseology of Paul, that, to very many of the plants, the Deity will not give bodies bearing seed. So also will it be in the resurrection of the saints. Many sinners
become saints by " the obedience of faith," and run well for a time.
The obedience of faith constitutes them " wheat." After a time, however, they are often bewitched, and tire of obeying the truth (Gal. iii. 1). Hence, their vitality or vigour is impaired, and they become wheat of a shrivelled and feeble constitution. Their
characters become sicklied over with the pale cast of scepticism, indifference, apathy, and conformity to the world and its practices.
Thus " they walk after the flesh," and are " in the flesh," which is regarded by the Deity as " sowing to the flesh," the penalty of which is death. Now, according to the constitution of the wheat sown, is its ability, when sprouted, to resist the influences which cause to perish.
So with the saints of the Sardian type, who have a name that they live, but are dead. The pallor of death is upon their characters; so that when bodies come forth from sheol, those of them upon which are enstamped, or flashed, these sickly, death-stricken characters,
are conscious of being identical with the " bewitched " of a former state. "
Boldness in the day of judgment " does not pertain to such. The influences which cause to perish will be too strong for them; for the account they will give of themselves will be truthful then, if they eschewed the truth before ; and this will overwhelm them in shame and condemnation. They will be " Wheat turned to cheat," to which is never given the wheat-body bearing seed. The divine sentence will be against them ; so that an incorruptible and living
house from heaven will be withheld ; and they will perish in the corruption of the sprout-body in returning to the dust from whence it came.
39 The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels.
I believe in human devils, political devils, disease devils, but I do not believe in supematural devils. I believe the great devil of all -- the source of all other evil -- is the principle of disobedience embodied in the present evil world.
I find no other devil in the Bible, and I believe in none else. This devil Jesus came to destroy. He did it, andthe human race will reap the fruits by-and-by, even as Jesus himself now reaps them.
The Good Confession
The devil or tares among the early ecclesias - Rev 12: 2.
In the seven Apocalyptic Epistles, the constituents of this embryo apostasy are termed "liars," "Nikolaitanes," blasphemers, spurious Jews, "the synagogue of the Satan," "Balaam", "that woman Jezebel", "her children", "the Satan", "the dead," "the wretched and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked. "
In the pentecostal beginning, these constituents were not found in the Christian Eve. Then "the multitude of them that believed were of one heart, and of one soul" (Acts 4:32). They had not yet been distracted and thrown into confusion by "grievous wolves," and "men speaking perverse things to draw away disciples after them," for their own glory and advantage, reckless of the truth.
41 The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity;
Though the kingdom of God, in the form predicted by Daniel, will not exist till the second appearing of Christ, it has in a comprehensive sense, existed since the day it was founded by the hand of Moses, and exists now in the down-trodden state.
This was the kingdom which Jesus said was in the hands of the Pharisees when he was on earth, and which he added would be taken from them and given to others.-(Matt. 20:43.) This was his kingdom (Luke 1:32); He came to his own, and his own received him not.
This kingdom has already been the subject of one purgation, viz., when the nation was gathered into Jerusalem as into a refining pot (Ezek. 22:22), and blown upon and melted in the hot stream of the divine anger. It will again be subject to the process of "gathering out all things that offend," when Israel is gathered into the wilderness to be purged (Ezek. 20:33, 38; Malachi 52:3, 5); and when the royal house of the kingdom itself-the saints of all ages-is gathered into the presence of the King, to be purified by judgment.
In the first purgation, the Romans acted the part of his agents, messengers, or angels; in the second the angels of his power will be the instruments employed. When complete, the result will be consummation declared in the parable-the shining forth of the righteous in the kingdom of their Father. Before this climax is attained, the kingdom, like the saints themselves, will have passed through much vicissitude of evil.
The Christadelphian, Sept 1870
43 Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.
['Then'. When the wicked have been judged and cast out of the kingdom, 'then' the saints 'the splendid'* no longer withhold or draw in* their glory.
See also "And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament, and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars forever and ever" (12:1, 3).
*Brother Thomas translation of Zech 14: 5-7:
'Yahweh my Elohim shall come in, all the saints with thee. And in that day there shall be no brightness, the splendid ones drawing in. And it shall be one day that shall be made known by Yahweh: not day nor night, but it shall be in the time of evening, there shall be brightness.]
44 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field.
The discovery of hid treasure is not so frequent an occurrence in our time as to enable us so readily to see the aptness of this comparison as those would see it who lived in the days of Jesus in the countries of the east. It is, however, even for us, easy to understand the pleasureable excitement with which a man would discover that a certain piece of land contained a mine of wealth, and the promptness and energy with which he would contrive to find the means of purchase. This is the point of the comparison.
The kingdom of God is the hid treasure. The title to it is contained within the promises, and offered to men. But in the days of Jesus, these promises and this offer were not widely known. There was nothing for the bulk of mankind but the present life, with its imperfection and its shortness. When a man got to know that God had offered life eternal and a kingdom to all who should conform with the requirements associated with the offer, he was in the position of a man making a sudden and unexpected discovery of treasure trove; and this parable gives us to understand that Jesus expects that a man becoming acquainted with this supreme fact will be as enthusiastic and prompt and enterprising in his measures for securing its advantages as men always are to secure temporal wealth when suddenly brought within their reach.
Nazareth Revisited Ch 27
45 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls:
46 Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it.
One Pearl of Great Price.
The evident lesson of this is the same as in the parable of the treasure hid in the field, only it is put in a stronger light. The finder of the treasure in the field appears only as an accidental finder. In this case, the man is on the outlook for something good to buy, and, finding a particular gem, recognises its value so decisively as to sell his whole stock that he might obtain it. The parallel intended by Christ is that of a thoughtful man pondering life with a view to find good, and discovering the gospel of the kingdom, and God's invitation associated with it, perceives that it is of a value with which nothing else in human reach can be compared, and therefore bends his whole energy that he may attain it.
The faithfulness of this to human experience will be most appreciated by those who have the most clearly seen and grasped the truth as it is in Jesus. Investigation, study, and labour are all found fruitless at the last when not directed towards God and His purpose in Christ. The part offered by God in him is the only "good thing that shall not be taken away." This was Christ's description of it in the house of Martha and Mary, when he commended Mary's unmistakeable preference for the things of God.
Nazareth Revisited Ch27
...much time and labour has been spent in a worthy and commendable effort to convince many who do not want to be convinced that the Bible is the authentic Word of a Supreme Creator. It is a question whether some of such effort is worthwhile. The Scriptures themselves, with a plainness that is warranted by the seriousness of the subject, speak of casting pearls before swine.
Such a course is doomed from the beginning. God does not want cold intellect, convinced against its own will and desire. He makes ample provision for preventing such a monstrosity by drawing a veil over the eyes when one already exists over the heart-an established rule of divine conduct well worthy of the truthseeker's solemn consideration.
There is one way, and only one, to acquire a living conviction of the truth of the Scriptures. That is to study them with a heart that is open to receive what the mind discovers; to give time and attention to them in full proportion to their importance; to take them home and try them out; to put their suggestions into practice; to actually apply them to one's daily life.
Such a course, honestly pursued, guarantees conviction. It is well worth trying. There is no substitute. Let us in all humility and sincerity commend this course to your attention, and then pursue our subject further.
We are brought to the threshold of the Scriptures. The foregoing remarks have been directed towards creating a desire and demonstrating the necessity of going further. No worthwhile effort is ever set in motion until a necessity is recognised. No one really learns until a need is felt for knowledge. No one advances until a need is felt for progress. It is our hope and effort to create the desire, to bring a realisation of the need.
The angle from which we desire to view the Word of God this evening is, as the title indicates, Faith.
Now the Bible speaks of a huge Temple to be erected in the future. Surrounding it is a high wall, pierced throughout its entire circumference by a continuous and majestic colonnade of arched gateways.
The Scriptures themselves may be considered in the same light. Their contents may be viewed from countless different openings, but each reveal the same scene, magnificent in its simple grandeur, but varied and made perpetually fascinating by the change of perspective as it is successively viewed from different points.
The gateway we have chosen is Faith, and we can be assured, as we pass, that this is not an obscure byway, but indeed a main entrance.
The Apostle Paul, discussing the rudiments of conduct and analysing the important elements of life, says, after speaking of many things that perish-
"Now abideth Faith, Hope, Love: these three."
Which three, inseparably entwined, ...form the main entrance to the glories of God.
Bro Growcott - The One True Faith
47 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a net, that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind:
This is another phase of matters. It refers to what may be called the collective results of the offer of the kingdom in the preaching of the gospel, as distinguished from the individual applications suggested by the parables of the treasure and goodly pearl. Jesus called the apostles "fishers of men" (Matt. iv. 19). Their business was to take out of the sea of human life, for God's after use, a proportion of the rational creatures swimming in its waters.
48 Which, when it was full, they drew to shore, and sat down, and gathered the good into vessels, but cast the bad away.
In the parable, we are shown the implement by which the fishing was to be performed -- the kingdom preached was the net let down into the sea. The parable is of great value in one way. It shows us that the collective results of gospel word are not all genuine: that is, that the mere acceptance of the truth and enclosure in its net by the preliminary submission to baptism is not a certain guarantee of fitness for divine selection.
If we were not plainly taught this, we should be perplexed at the result of the truth's operations. Imagining that everyone who received the truth must necessarily show the spirit of the truth, we should be distressed at the fact that comparatively few show themselves true disciples of Christ. But here is this parable: "every kind" in the net, including "bad" that are "cast away."
The meaning is placed beyond doubt by Christ's interpretation...
49 So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just,
50 And shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.
This puts everyone on his guard, and prevents him from leaning on man. Even a "brother" is but contingently a son of God. Our trust must be in what is written -- not in mortal man's thought or utterance. If we lean on a brother because he is a brother, without reference to whether he reflects the mind of the Spirit or no, it might turn out that we are following one of the useless fish, that is, permitted to swim in the net for the time being. It has been a question with some why useless fish should be allowed to be enclosed in the net of gospel operations. There need be no question. Man's part is to accept facts -- not question them. But the question is not without an answer, if we could know it.
It is not difficult to conceive that if everyone admitted to the fellowship of the gospel were truly begotten of God, that fellowship would be too sweet to allow of the development of spiritual hardihood, which is the object of probation.
"Coddling" never tends to strong or proper growth. We require to be thrown upon ourselves and upon God. There is nothing like a little rough usage for this: and no rough usage comes home like that experienced from fellow-fish, who snap and bite like dog-fish among herrings. The odiums and the oppositions of "those who are without" have scarcely a sting. But the enmity of those who are members of the household by recognized status is keen and nigh to killing.
For this reason, it is used as part of the apparatus of probation, by which the man of God is trained to the robustness which, without losing the tenderness and the sweetness of the new man in his normal relations, can "endure hardness," and "contend earnestly" with the valour of "a good soldier of Christ Jesus."
Nazareth Revisited Ch 27
51 Jesus saith unto them, Have ye understood all these things? They say unto him, Yea, Lord.
52 Then said he unto them, Therefore every scribe which is instructed unto the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which bringeth forth out of his treasure things new and old.
The object of this remark was evidently to signify that wealth of mental resource, in the statement and illustration of the truth, would be the characteristic of those who had the understanding he was referring to, as contrasted with the meagreness and nakedness of those who, not having made wisdom an object of search, had no stock of the article.
Nazareth Revisited Ch 27
'Nothing But Peace and Prosperity'
I plead guilty to the indictment.
I have theorized new things from God's Word. That is, I have brought out God's theory, which is new to my contemporaries.
It is the divine plan or system yet subsisting only in the mind of Yahweh, revealed in the Bible-a purpose, not yet an accomplished fact, but a matter of promise, and propounded to the heirs of promise, for their faith...
...Be not angry at me, my friends, for this thing; for it is commendable before God. "Every Scribe," saith Jesus, "instructed for the kingdom of the heavens-εις την βασιλειαν των ουζανων-is like to a man who is master of a house, that bringeth forth out of his treasure things new and old."
Herald of the Kingdom and age to Come, Jan 1854
55 Is not this the carpenter's son? is not his mother called Mary? and his brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas?
The Carpenter's son.
The dishonouring view of the rabble v 57. They failed to understand he was the Son of Yahweh by paternity. The gospel writers did not enter into contentions over the errors of the people but rather stated facts. Possessed of the holy spirit they stood in power and dignity. Enlightened believers testified to the truth
'Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel' (John 1:49).
58 And he did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief.
The doctrine of partial inspiration still simmers in many quarters. Let faithful brethren be vigilant, and stand by their guns. The work is trying, but the situation is of God. God wants-especially in these unbelieving times-men of earnest conviction, robust in the truth.
The alertness, which the oppositions of unbelievers occasion, tends to produce such men. God's methods are of the kill or cure kind-they drive men farther away from Him, or draw them nearer.
Let us heed not the criticisms of those who see no danger, or who are unable to rightly gauge the insidious influences of these sceptical times. In this connection, an extract from a letter from our late brother Roberts is worth producing:
"Never mind the black looks. You cannot wish more ardently than I do to be out of the contention. We are fighting for the right, and of Christ's approbation we may be sure. The upholders of that which is after God's own heart, have ever been in the minority in the congregation of the Lord. Often has he spared others for their sakes."
Bro AT Jannaway
The Christadelphian, Sept 1899