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1 Judge not, that ye be not judged.
Probably no command is more often broken than this. Much of our conversation is judgement, criticism or condemnation of others.
This is an evil condition, and displeasing to God. We must truly judge circumstances and conditions where our own conduct is affected, or where fellowship is involved; but unless it is necessary for us to judge others in order to know what we ourselves should do, we should very carefully refrain from forming any judgment of another, and especially we should not express judgment.
This is a very important first principle of the Truth. The warning is ...*
2 For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.
Therefore, it is always wisdom to judge with mercy and kindness and compassion and fellow-feeling, wherever we must judge at all.
When we indulge in the flesh-satisfying practice of judging and criticising others, we are not only directly disobedient to this command - we are also manifesting that we do not have the mind and spirit of Christ, and therefore are none of his.
6 Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.
This seems to be a counterbalance to the command not to judge. It parallels another command elsewhere -
"Be wise as serpents, and harmless as doves."
We are not being harmless, but very harmful and fleshly, when we talk about the faults of others.
But though we must view all with love and compassion and sympathy, still we must use care in exposing the things of God to the unholy and profane.
I believe the reference is more to the inner aspects of the Truth, the intimate aspects of association and fellowship, rather than to preaching the Truth. Paul's injunction to "Lay hands suddenly on no man" would be parallel.
This is a fitting and balancing warning in conjunction with the command to judge with compassion, lest out of misguided love we make the mistake of being too lenient in guarding the purity of the Truth. The Truth and the fellowship of the Spirit are holy and sacred and must be jealously guarded from the worldly and profane. *
7 ASK, and it SHALL be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:
This is certainly the most glorious of the commands. Let us note well that it is a COMMAND. We must believe it, and we must ask.
We can never hide behind a plea of weakness or inability to obey, for here we are commanded to ask for whatever strength and wisdom we need, and God guarantees it. (Mark 11:24):
"What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, BELIEVE that ye receive them, and ye SHALL have them."
With that guarantee of success, there can be no excuse for failure. *
9 Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone?
Bread comprehends every form of need, physical and spiritual; and stone every fleshly reaction of unkindness, thoughtlessness, rebuff, harshness, impatience, and neglect.
Our children look trustingly to us for guidance, example, comfort, assurance, understanding, maturity, Christ-like tenderness and compassion, love, appreciation, encouragement,
companionship, and a personal manifestation of the joy and beauty of holiness. Are we giving them bread, or a stone? Whose fault is it if they starve spiritually?
It is Jesus who brings out in its full beauty this exalted relationship in which we stand. In him the fullness of God's Fatherhood is manifested.
Bro Growcott - 144 000 on Mount Zion
12 Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.
The "Golden Rule" - best known and perhaps least obeyed command of all. It has a pleasing, soothing sound, and many pay it zealous lip-service, but how it rarely is practiced!
Note that Jesus says this command is "all the Law and the Prophets" - this is the whole spirit of the Old Testament, as well as the New. *
15 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.
20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.
Here is a place where we must judge-not in condemnation, but in self-protective discernment-care concerning being mislead into association with such as have all the appearances of zealous, harmless, hard-working sheep.
How are we to judge? "By their fruits."
Now, many apparent "fruits" we may find the sheep and wolves have in common-
"Have we not prophesied in thy Name?"
"And in thy Name done many wonderful works?"
We must search deeper to discern the wolves. We would perhaps prefer not to face this issue, but to leave all judging to Christ. But here is the last and crowning command- "Beware of false prophets."
It must be very urgent to be put as the closing warning. It would not be faithful to ignore it. It must be a real danger.
We must endeavour, whatever the present cost in friendship and association, to faithfully keep that which has been entrusted to us, and which previous generations of faithful brethren have preserved and defended. Where false teaching is tolerated, there can be no true fellowship, though many may themselves not follow the falsehood *
22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?
Self-congratulation is a dangerous luxury on the part of either individuals or communities. Be thankful for privileges and attainments, but make no boast. Enjoy the goodness of God in meekness; flourish it not in the eyes of neighbours as a matter of superiority; for what have we that we have not received; and it may be that we have not received so much as we think.
Let us take care that we deceive not ourselves. The boast of Christadelphian superiority to the sects is rank abomination in the sight of God, if we are reprobate to His commandments.
Bro Roberts - The day of the Lord (SoC 1:30)
24 Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock:
Success is simply a matter of pleasing God: happiness is simply a matter of God manifesting His pleasure in our hearts. All else is illusion and delusion: all else is vanity, and -- finally -- sorrow and death.
Life can be ALL deep, quiet, trustful pleasure, even in its pain.
Life can be all empty tragedy and failure, even with its glitter and "success." Don't build anything on anything but solid rock. If there is no eternal foundation beneath it, then the better we build and the harder we labour, the greater the ultimate loss and remorse.
God is the Rock: the only Rock. Build everything you do on Him.
It will then stand firm to all eternity *
* Bro Growcott - Be Ye therefore Perfect
26 And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand:
We come now to three other ideas, which call for more careful consideration. The first is the contention that if an alien becomes sufficiently enlightened, he is sure to connect himself with Christ by baptism. This idea is excluded by Christ's doctrine concerning
"every one that heareth these sayings of mine and doeth them not" (Matt. 7:26).
It is strange and illogical, inasmuch as it makes human nature different today from what it was in Bible times. Man, who could be wilfully perverse then, can be equally so now. At the same time, the idea is comparatively harmless, so long as it is kept generally subservient to the teaching of the Scriptures.
If the holders of it are given time, and are not unfairly pushed into contending for it, many, no doubt, will ere long allow it to fall captive to the all-conquering Spirit-Word. This idea, however, ceases to be harmless when it is exalted to attack the truth. So far, it has not been so used, and it simply calls for kindly, admonitory treatment-not for withdrawal. It exhibits mental weakness, which stronger brethren should nobly shoulder.
Bro AT Jannaway
The Christadelphian, Feb 1901
The second idea is that which doubts whether, owing to the absence of miracle, there is now sufficient evidence to justify us in saying that any present-day rejectors of the truth will be raised to judgment. This view is also strange and illogical. Surely where there is sufficient evidence for the purpose of salvation, there is sufficient evidence to bring condemnation. Here, again, we have to consider the strength and use made of the idea.
Those who hold it know that they do so as a mere private opinion-that they cannot demonstrate its truth. If they admit that light (where it sufficiently exists) is the ground of resurrectional responsibility, and they do not antagonise the proclamation of this truth, they should not be withdrawn from.
Clearer and more scriptural views may ultimately prevail, and discerning brethren can afford, in the meantime, to be gentle and patient. Let us see how near we can get to each other, not how far we can stand off.
Bro AT Jannaway
The Christadelphian, Feb 1901
Resurrection - The Blood of Christ
The third idea comes dangerously near a denial of the truth. It takes this form: The saints are raised through connection with Christ's blood. The alien are not related to this, and therefore cannot be raised in the same way. Their resurrection, however, is possible, but for reason stated it is a point upon which it is unwise to dogmatise.
Those who allow their minds to run in this way are imbued with wrong ideas respecting Christ's sacrifice. The blood of Christ was shed to give man eternal life (as brother Roberts has so ably shown in Resurrection to Condemnation), not to provide a basis upon which men can be brought back from the death-state to stand before the Judgment Seat.
Man has been resurrected in the past, apart from Christ's blood, and will be again. Brethren who know the Scripture doctrine regarding the amenability of enlightened rebels to Christ's Judgment Seat, must uphold that doctrine despite the few who may be befogged by recent mystifying utterances. This course will be more kind to the dim-sighted in the long run.
Bro AT Jannaway
The Christadelphian, Feb 1901