1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
Of those commandments that are recognised though not acted on, it will not be in place here to speak. That God should be loved and served; that men should be true, just and kind; that our neighbour's interests should have as high a consideration at our hands as our own, no man considering himself a member of Christendom would deny, however little able he might be to give practical effect to these commandments in his life. These commandments are such as are beautiful in themselves, and commend themselves to the moral instincts of all men (not degraded to the very level of the brute) as the dictates of the highest wisdom.
It is of the commandments whose excellence is not so self evident that there is need to speak; commandments whose aim is not to make the present life agreeable, but to subject obedient believers to a discipline that will subdue and mould them to the divine pattern in preparation for the perfectly agreeable state of existence to be established by Christ upon the earth in the day of His coming.
Be not conformed to this world. There is not much danger of mistaking the meaning of this. The world is the people, as distinguished from the earth which they inhabit. Peter puts this beyond doubt in calling it "the world OF THE UNGODLY" (2 Peter ii, 5). Jesus also makes it plain in speaking of the world as a lover and a hater, "If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own" (John xv, 18).
This could only apply to the people. The command is to be not conformed to the world of people upon the earth as it now is. Jesus plainly laid it down that he did not belong to such a world, and commanded his disciples to accept a similar position in relation to it. "The world to come" is the world of their citizenship. Of their position in the present world, Jesus said in prayer, "They are not of the world even as I am not of the world" (John xvii, 16).
By John he commanded them, "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life; is not of the Father, but of the world" (1 John ii, 15). By Peter, he indicates their position in the world as that of "strangers and pilgrims" (1 Peter ii, 11), and their life in it as a "time of sojourning" (i, 17), to be passed in holiness and fear (verses 14 and 17).
The world that hated Jesus was the Jewish world. Consequently, we are saved from the mistake of supposing that by the world is meant the extremely vile and immoral of mankind. The Jews were far from being such: they were a very religious and ostentatiously professing and ceremonially punctilious people, among whom the standard of respectability was high in a religious sense. All their conversations with Christ shew this.
That which led to the complete separation indicated in Christ's words and precepts, is indicated by Jesus himself, in his prayer to the Father, so wonderfully recorded in John xvi: "O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee" (verse 25). It is the world's relation to God that cuts off the friends of God from the world (if the friends of God are faithful). The world neither loves, nor knows, nor considers God.
They care for Him in no sense. His expressed will - His declared purpose - His intrinsically sovereign claims, are either expressly rejected or treated with entire indifference. His great and dreadful and eternal reality is ignored. Daniel's indictment against Belshazzar is chargeable against them all. "The God in whose hand thy breath is, and whose are all thy ways, hast thou not glorified" (Dan. v, 23).
Christendom Astray - Lecture 18
4 For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office:
The perfect, complete, glorious body of Christ will not be seen till put together in all its parts at his coming, when he will present it to himself
"a glorious ecclesia, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing."
It is now but being developed. The merest fragment exists in our day. To look on that fragment as the body of Christ would be a mistake calculated to inspire disgust and destroy heart in the whole matter. It is as when a manufacturer is getting up a splendid article to send to an international exhibition. It is got up in pieces; and an unskilled eye, seeing one of those pieces in the grimy workshop, unfinished and among dirt and litter, would form a very unfavourable idea of it.
If he were ignorant of the plan and the pieces, he would be disgusted to be told that that unsightly piece of metal was to dazzle the eyes of courtiers at the world's fair. At present we are in the polishing shop; and we are but a very minute part of the mechanism -- as it were a bolt or pin.
The eye of intelligence looks at the situation and is not disappointed because things are at present so unartistic, so unlovely, so un-Christlike, in many ways.
The world looks not with the eye of intelligence, but looks at Christ's work in the workshop stage and jeers. Well, we can afford to bear this.
We know that a glorious work is being done, and that all who profess the truth are not Christlike; that there is, nevertheless, being developed by the truth a people, here and there, who will form constituents of that great body Christ, in which there will be all symmetry and sympathy.
We look forward, with the eye of faith, to the complete body -- the principal members of which are now in the dust. Meanwhile, as regard the duties of our present position, we accept the professed friends of Christ, as the body of Christ in our day, towards which we are to be faithful and kind -- "good unto all men," but specially those who are of the household of faith.
We know not who are Christ's. We must leave that to the judge of all the earth, who will do right. We must, in the dullness and bitterness of the time, do our duty, even unto kindness to the unthankful and the evil, in the full prospect of that day when, if we thus sow to the Spirit, we shall reap life and everlasting joy.
Bro Roberts -
5 So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.
We are obviously not a part of the Body of Christ if our life is not devoted to the service and welfare of the Body of Christ. This is the lesson of the scriptural type of the human body.
Every true member of the Body (natural and spiritual) has a use and a purpose. Our ability and physical condition may at times make it quite small: but as long as we have life and consciousness, we must give our most and our best in loving service. This is the very essence of being allowed the infinite privilege of being part of the Christ-Body. It is only for the devoted. We are not part of the Body of Christ if our heart and mind and love are not centered in the body.
"THE ISRAEL OF THE DEITY,"
consisting of Jews and Greeks in other lands, or sections of the habitable, who were Jews in Christ, was still an organized and flourishing community, styled also by Paul, "the Ecclesia, his Body," of which Jesus Christ is the Head; and the "One Body."
This new community figures in symbolic writing, as "The Seven Ecclesias which are in Asia;" these seven being representative of all Israelites, "circumcised with the circumcision made without hands," in all the habitable. This Israel was rooted in Jacob's twelve sons, as the patriarchs of the tribes. "First that which is natural," says Paul, "and then that which is spiritual."
This is the order of the Deity's developments in relation to body, world, and nation. Hence, the spiritual body is developed out of the natural; the spiritual world out of the natural; and the spiritual Israelitish nation out of the natural, we Gentiles coming in by adoption through the King of Israel, who himself was first natural before he became spirit. The principle is fundamental, and perceived in the generation of all things -- first, the naked grain, or body; then that which shall be fruit-bearing in the field.
Jacob was the wall of Israel, and his sons his twelve gates, in the beginnings of things. Jesus and the Apostles emerged from Jacob through these gates; being descended from Jacob in their line. But said the Spirit in Jesus, "before Abraham was I am." He was "the Root" of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and David; and when He came to be manifested in Jesus, in this combination of flesh and spirit, he was "the Offspring" of those patriarchs.
While, therefore Jacob was a wall enclosing the whole future nation in his loins, "the Root and Offspring of David," and therefore of Jacob (Apoc. v. 5; xxii. 16), is the Jasper Wall, great and high, "in whom" is contained all "the Israel of the Deity."
At the natural gates of the twelve tribes, the apostles stood as so many Angels or messengers (xxi. 12). They went forth inviting Jews and Gentiles to "enter in through the gates into the city," enclosed within the Jasper Wall (xxii. 14) -- to enter into Christ through adoption into the commonwealth of Israel; that in so entering, they might, as precious stones, garnish the twelve foundations which represent the twelve apostles of the Lamb.
12 Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer;
In all our troubles and problems and disappointments, let us never for a moment forget our blessings -- and our obligation of constant thanksgiving for them. This is what troubles are for: to drive us ever more deeply into the comfort of our blessings, and to make us all the more diligent to lay secure hold upon them by righteousness and loving service to God.
Our blessings are always infinitely greater than our troubles ever could be. If we cannot see this, we are blind indeed. We have seen people calling themselves Christadelphians reproaching God for their "undeserved" troubles. It is very easy and very natural to the flesh. But what folly! What tragedy! We are not ready for the Kingdom, or God would terminate our probation, and give us sweet sleep.
We have yet labours to accomplish, and lessons to learn. Let us glory in and profit by the tribulations that are of the loving hand of God to PREPARE us frail, erring mortals for eternal joy.
Bro Growcott - Search Me O God
16 Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits.
Any man with a practical knowledge of human nature, unobscured by the false sentiments generated by false philosophy, will be prepared heartily to endorse the declaration of the New Testament, that in the flesh dwelleth no good thing; and to admire the foundation principle of the Gospel system -- the glory of the Creator, and the humiliation of poor man.
Suffice it on the present occasion to realize that at the approaching reappearance of Christ, no man need go before him with the expectation of his approbation who is not supremely characterized by this first principle of the house of God -- personal smallness in his own esteem, and a
"minding not high things, but condescending to men of low estate" (Rom. 12:16).
It need not be said how totally different is the state of things prevailing in society around us. Our danger is great from this circumstance. We are apt to catch the spirit of the world in all the haughtiness and mightiness of carriage that is to be seen everywhere, and to be ashamed of the soberness and smallness and rationality that belong to the profession of the truth.
Let us beware. The truth calls us to
"live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world."
Any other life will make our destruction certain, when we come to stand before that judge, who is no respecter of persons.
Bro Roberts - Nearer the crisis