1 Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations.
Weak in the faith
The expression does not refer to a person who is faulty in his understanding of the fundamental doctrines of the Truth, or who does not appreciate the importance of faith, but to one who is full of doubts as to his own conduct, so that he becomes over-scrupulous in such matters as "eating" and "drinking".
The word translated "weak" is from the Greek verb astheneo, indicating strengthless.
Such a person is uncertain in his mind as to what should be done in certain situations, and therefore is "weak in his faith", being unsure of the conviction he should manifest.
This leads him to impose restrictions on himself, and others, that go beyond the requirements of the law of Christ, and therefore to sin. It is important to realise that the most common word for "sin" in scripture signifies signifies "to miss the mark".
It indicates the failure of a person who misses the mark by falling short of it, or aiming beyond it. Those who make demands on others that go beyond what Christ requires, miss the mark just as do those also who fall short of his standard in the matter of transgression.
Faith is developed from an understanding of the Word (ch. 10:17). Law or ritual that is established in the absence of such is "weak" in that it lacks any real foundation. Advice should not be sought from those who base their concept of what is right upon personal opinion; nor should their views be received in matters of doubtful disputation, for they are not governed by the Word, but by "the precepts of men" (Isa. 29:13).
The Christadelphian Expositor
4 Who art thou that judgest another man's servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand.
We do not believe in or practice "coercion."
Submission to the truth is an affair of enlightened free will on all hands. Individually, we claim and exercise the right only that every man claims and exercises (our opponents most of all) - the right of deciding for ourselves and ourselves alone what it is our duty to do or refrain from doing. If others for themselves agree with us this is not our crime, but a happy coincidence which only muddy-mindedness can lay to our charge.
We make no profession to have more ability than others to decide such questions. We are what we are, making no professions one way or other. If others make professions for us, we can only regret the unwisdom, and endure it with many other embarrassments incident to the present headless condition of affairs.
TC Feb 1887
Withdrawal, and When
It is a rule in the interpretation of all consistent documents, that no construction is to be put on one part that destroys the sense of another. If this rule is ever to be applied, surely it is in the understanding of Paul. Now, though Paul has said
"Who art thou that judgest another man's servant? To his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden-up; for God is able to make him to stand"—(Rom. 14:4).
We are not to understand his words in a sense that would forbid us to obey his commandment two chapters further on, in the same letter, where, describing a certain class, he says "Avoid them" (Romans 16:13), and again (1 Cor. 5:68),
"Put away from among yourselves that wicked person." (See also 2 Thess. 3:16; 1 Tim. 6:3–5; Titus 3:10; 2 John 9–10.)
Paul, in Rom. 14:4, is not inconsistent with Paul in these other places. Paul, in Rom. 14:4, as the context shews, has before his mind an obedient servant of Christ, who has a weakness on the subject of herbs versus animal food, on which we have no guidance by the law of Christ. In such a matter, "judgment" by fellow-believers would obviously be presumptuous. It is an "untaught" matter; and we have no authority to be wise above what is written. Let those who have a weakness for a particular sort of food be indulged in brotherly love. But the case is very different when a brother walks in open disobedience of what is commanded.
But the question of participation in worldly picnics and stock-speculations depends so greatly upon the circumstances of the case, (which can only be known to those on the spot,) that it is not possible to express a valuable opinion as to their incompatibility or otherwise with continuance of fellowship.
Generally speaking, "picnics" of unbelievers are unfit occasions for the presence and countenance of saints; and a robust and hearty saint would have no difficulty in deciding against all of them; but it would be hard to say (without actual knowledge) that in all cases, a brother was acting unworthily of the high calling in participating in them. So much depends upon the character of the occasion.
We could conceive the possibility of such an occasion being turned to good account by wise men, in friendly intercourse on divine things with friends in the open field. We fear there are not many picnics where this occurs. Nevertheless, it is hard to draw the line. Wise men will judge each case on its merits.
So in stock speculations. As a rule, it is a kind of a business in which an honest man would not feel at liberty to engage; but there may be cases where it may be but legitimate enterprise with promise of good fruit.
Hard and fast lines cannot be laid down in such matters. True saints will always take care to be on the right side. Withdrawal ought not to take place until disobedience is beyond doubt, and until every endeavour has been exhausted to bring the disobedient to reformation.
The Christadelphian, July 1873
5 One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.
Some thought that as Yahweh had enjoined a distinction of meats in the law, he would still be pleased with that observance; and the more so, as he was pleased with their belief and obedience of the gospel. They therefore said,
"Touch not, taste not, handle not."
But Paul disapproved of this, and called it
"a show of wisdom, in will (or unordained) worship, and abasement."
He told them that meats did not commend any man to God, who had created them to be received with thanksgiving of them who believe and know the truth; for the truth concerning the kingdom believed, does not cause the faithful to stand in a distinction of meats and drinks, but
"in righteousness, peace, and joy in a holy spirit."
These brethren, (for they were not outside barbarians,) were weak or asthenical. They were in a sickly state. They were not, however, to be rejected; for concerning such Paul says,
"Him that is weak in the faith receive, (but) not for disputations of reasonings. One indeed believes to eat all meats, but the weak eateth herbs. Let not him that eateth despise him that eateth not; and he that eateth not, let him not condemn him that eateth; for God hath received him,"
the eater of meats.
A like weakness obtained among some of the brethren with respect to days.
"One esteemed one day above another; another esteemed every day alike."
These were differences of opinion that in no way nullified the faith. A man could be a very good Christ[adelphian], and yet a teetotaler and a vegetarian, and even a sabbatarian. These are asthenical affections, or weaknesses, which brethren will get over as they grow in faith and the knowledge of God. We quarrel with no brother about these things. They are the infirmities of brethren, which we are quite disposed to bear, though they are not in harmony with our ideas of the fitness of things.
Herald of the Kingdom and Age to Come, June 1858
7 For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself.
...everything we are and do depends entirely upon God's help and blessing.
Our relationship to God and His Word must be intensely personal and alive, not just scholastic and doctrinal. It is so easy to contend for the truth just because we enjoy contention, without ever getting the spirit of it.
Paul says that prayer must be for others - for all saints. This is divine wisdom. No man "liveth to himself," because such living is not living at all. Prayer for self, at its very best and highest, has some element of selfishness, or at least of self-centeredness, even if it is sincere prayer for the ability to help others.
The flesh enjoys having and manifesting ability. Prayer for others eliminates this flaw. We shall never enter the Kingdom alone. If we have not helped others to enter, we shall not enter at all. And woe be unto us, if we have done, or failed to do, anything that has caused others to stumble or not to enter.
Paul prayed for others and asked them to pray for him. This is the beautiful oneness and interdependence of the Body. This is how a man can loose his life and save it. He prays for others and works for others, and leaves it to God's providence that others will pray and work for him.
If we do not, as a body, attain to this mutual self-suppression and dedication to the service and welfare of others, then we are not the Body of Christ at all. For this, above everything else, is its badge of identification, whatever knowledge we may have.
Bro Growcott - Blessed Is He that Watcheth and Keepeth His Garments
9 For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living.
"Touch me not!" John 20:17
It was defiling for Jews to touch a thing declared to be unclean by the law. Any thing from the grave was enacted to be unclean, in reference to him who should come out of the tomb, until that he should be 'revived" (Rom. 14:9) or "made a quickening Spirit" (1 Cor. 15:45). Christ was "the end of the law," the substance or body of the shadow (Rom. 10:4; Col. 2:17); its lines concentred in the things pertaining to his body.
The interdict forbidding it to be touched was indicative of its not then having been changed into spirit; and that it was still earthy and inferior to the substance of the Father. He gave the reason why he forbade his body to be touched; "for," he said,
"I have not yet ascended to my Father".
No one might touch him until that ascent had taken place. It did not occur till after Mary left him; but it had doubtless taken place before his walk with Cleopas and another to Emmaus; for they appear to have travelled very sociably together. The swallowing up of every particle of the earthiness of an earthy body, is an instantaneous operation; the work of
"a moment, or the twinkling of an eye" (1 Cor. 15:51,52).
It was one of the events that transpired in relation to Jesus on the third day. He "rose and revived" on the third day (Rom. 14:9). He not only rose on the third day, but he revived on the same day. Rising is one thing, reviving is another; and two different words are used by the apostle to express the different ideas.
The Father who is Spirit, had "forsaken" Jesus upon the cross, and left him to die there. Having become a corpse and been laid in a tomb, that corpse was like all other corpses, utterly without intelligence and power; for "the dead know not anything" (Ecc. 9:5,10); and
"the Lord (YAHWEH) is not the Deity (AlL, or Power) of dead, but of living ones, for they all live by him" (Luke 20:38).
When this corpse, named Jesus, opened its eyes, stood upon its feet and came forth from the tomb, it "rose". At this point of time it was neither Lord nor Christ. The Father, who had forsaken him and left him to die, had not yet returned to him; for if he had returned to the corpse while in the tomb in causing it to stand and walk, that risen body after coming forth would not have said,
"I have not yet ascended to my Father".
This was equivalent to saying, I am an earthy, or natural, body just come forth from the unclean place; and have not yet been "made perfect," "justified by the spirit," or "made a quickening spirit".
The Father hath not yet clothed me with my house which is from heaven; so that that which constitutes me earthy and mortal is not yet "swallowed up of life;" therefore, "Touch me not" until I have been
"constituted Son of Deity in power, through Spirit of holiness, out of a resurrection of dead ones" (Rom. 1:4).
I am now simply Jesus born of the tomb, "of the earth earthy;" but when my earthiness of body is instantaneously "swallowed up of life," I shall be Spirit; I shall be of equal and identical substance with the Father; and by this anointing, I shall become Christ, or the Anointed One, and "the Lord from heaven" (1 Cor. 15:47).
This anointing with Spirit and Power was the revival in a greater degree of the former relations subsisting between the Father and the Son.
He had been "anointed with holy spirit and power" after he had been born of water. This did not change his body into Spirit; it only invested the body born of unclean flesh, or "made of a woman," with the wisdom and power of the Father in heaven, who discoursed and worked through it (John 5:19,30; 6:38,63; 8:42,58; 10:30; 14:10,28).
But when the body was anointed again with holy spirit and power, or "spirit of holiness," after it was born of the second unclean place, the tomb, it was not only endued and embued with wisdom and power as before, but it was itself transformed into an embodiment of eternal power, in which there is no weakness, or corruption, or principle of death at all.
It was then "revived," anezese, as well as risen again, aneste. It became "the body of his glory," soma tes doxes autou (Phil. 3:21), "raised in glory" from the earthy body which is "without honour," en atimia (1 Cor. 15:43); and forty days after, "taken up in glory" (1 Tim. 3:16).
10 But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.
It is doubtless true that we shall not know of our acceptance with Christ till he himself informs us at the judgment seat. It is this that invests his office as judge with such awful import for us. While it is written that "he that believeth and is baptised shall be saved," it is also written that without holiness, no man shall see the Lord, and that only such as are faithful to the end shall receive the crown.
Who can judge of holiness and faithfulness but Christ? We may have our views on the matter, but we may form a mistaken judgment. It is especially true in this relation of things, that the Lord seeth not as man seeth.
Not he that commendeth himself is approved but whom the Lord commendeth.
"Observe (that is, perform) all things that I have commanded"
-this is the command by which we shall be judged. There is forgiveness for shortcomings on confession and supplication if Christ be pleased to intercede; but who can know his pleasure in this till he declare it? And where will he declare it but at the judgment seat?
~The Christadelphian, Feb 1886
11 For it is written [Isa 45: 23], As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.
King of kings and Lord of lords
...in due time, there will be no other power upon earth, and no other law recognized but his own. Now, without guidance, we might argue that these things being true, we are absolved from allegiance to the powers that now exist; that we are consequently under no obligation to obey.
... But the truth teaches us that the power of the Lord Jesus, as king over the whole earth, is not to come into practical force until his return at the season appointed for the manifestation of the sons of God. Then the Lord will be king over all the earth: there will be but one Lord. All other lords will be broken like a potter's vessel. The present question is, what is, meanwhile, our relation to the powers that be?
In answer to that question, chapter 13: 1 tells us something that prevents us from being rebels against the authorities of the time, or from being political plotters or political agitators in any shape.
It prevents us, indeed, from taking any part in the political movements of the time, and shuts us up to the position of "strangers and pilgrims," whose energy is all required for the work of preparing for the great administration of authority that is to come on earth in God's appointed time, of which we shall have a share, if God account us worthy.
Sunday Morning 33
12 So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.
This relation of experiences will consume time; and one would conclude no little time. Some will doubtless be very brief, having little to say, while others will be even "speechless;" but some will have a longer account to give, as in the case of Paul and others like him.
Then there will be the verdicts with all their attendant circumstances; for after the accounts given, come the personal recompenses; for they appear at the tribunal that they may
"receive in body the things according to that they have done whether good or bad."
For what a man sows in body he must reap in body --
"he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit, shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting."
Saints who have sown to the flesh, and there have been many such, will, in this "time of the dead," be left in the body recently created from the dust; and of that body they will reap corruption that will utterly and finally destroy it.
"This is the Second Death."
In this there is an element of terror to those who are obnoxious to that judgment seat; but who are they? The disobedient and the unforgiven. The friends of Christ are not disobedient; it is their obedience that constitutes them his friends. Their life, as a whole, is a life of obedience.
There may be slips, and faults, and frailties, and shortcomings, but for these there is forgiveness, where there is love. This is one of the elements of the Gospel, that if any man in submission to the Gospel sin thus, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous, and if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all iniquity.
The obedient friends of Christ do not feel that these frailties stand between them and the friendship of Christ. The frailties belong to the weak flesh of which they are at present constituted. They themselves remember what is written, that "He knoweth our frame, and remembereth that we are dust." Also, "If thou Lord shouldest mark iniquity, who shall stand? But there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared;" that is, in the selection of sons for everlasting life, God proceeds upon the principle of forgiveness, that they may be humbled in the sense of benefaction conferred and He exalted, in the exercise of merciful prerogative.
Exhort 276 The Christadelphian, April 1896.
In this he tells them, that by a separation of spirit and faith, that is, by a holy disposition created in them through the truth believed, they had been chosen of God for deliverance from the wrath to come upon those who know not God, and hearken not to the glad tidings of the Lord Jesus Christ, and for sharing with him in the things covered by the phrase, "his kingdom and glory."
They were separated or sanctified by faith, and "called," or invited, to their high destiny through the glad tidings they believed. The sanctification of spirit, or heart-purification, referred to by Paul, was
"righteousness, and peace, and joy, in the Holy Spirit,"
resulting from belief of the glad tidings of the kingdom; wherefore he saith, that
"the kingdom of God is not meat and drink,"
that is, the doctrine concerning it does not teach believers to concern themselves about distinctions of meats and drinks, saying,
"touch not, taste not, handle not;"
but it inculcates and developes in them who embrace it with honest and good hearts, righteousness, and peace, and joy in a Holy Spirit. This fruit of faith is the "Divine Nature," and essentially diverse from the nature common to pagans and all others ignorant of the truth. It is only produceable by
"the exceeding great and precious promises believed."
Belief that Jesus is the Son of God, in the modern Gentile sense, neither hath nor will produce it. The fruit of this believed is not righteousness, peace, and joy in a holy spirit; but, on the contrary, resistance to the righteousness of God, doubts and fears, and despondency in a faithless, perverse, and sordid spirit.
"By their fruits ye shall know them."
Having indoctrinated the Macedonians in Thessalonica with the glad tidings he announced to them, in writing to them he informs the reader, that they "received the word with joy of a holy spirit;" and that in consequence they
"turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God; and to wait for his Son from the heavens, whom he raised from among the dead, even Jesus delivering us from the wrath to come."
Herald of the Kingdom and Age to Come, Aug 1857
17 For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.
There is a present life in true discipleship which contrasts strikingly with the state of mind which lives only on the sensations of expectation. We see the features of this life reflected in all the writings of Paul and David by the Spirit. God is an every-day fact in such a life.
To thank Him and praise Him and trust Him are its every-day exercises and luxuries. Christ is a reality in such a life, as the priest who ever liveth to make intercession for us, and who is able to save to the uttermost all those who come unto God by him. His mastership is recognized every moment, and wisdom sought in doing his commandments.
Joy is experienced in the contemplation of his excellence, and sobriety and purification acquired in the realization of his holiness. Prayer and meditation in solitude are the natural reliefs of a life based on these foundations; and the benefit of others in temporal ministration and the work of the truth, its congenial expression.
All pleasure following, and politician-mongering are alike foreign to its vital bent. It finds adequate sphere in the jog-trot monotony of everyday life, enduring as seeing Him who is invisible, and
"choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season."
The signs of the times, to a mind modelled thus after the image of the new man in Christ, afford gratification, but do not supply motive. The motive exists independently of them. It is drawn from the fact of God's proprietorship of all things, and His purpose disclosed in the Gospel, to glorify His name on the earth and abolish all curse by Christ.
Indications of the near approach of the fulfilment of this purpose are reviving and stimulating to those who are the subjects of this motive; but they are not essential to its life or continuance. Abraham and all the prophets walked acceptably before God under its power, while seeing the day afar off; consequently, their true children are everywhere characterized by a patient and warm-hearted continuance in well-doing, without respect to the tokens in the political sky.
Bro Roberts - Signs and traditions, Seasons 37.
19 Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.
Live much in the Bible, and you will not be troubled much at the confusions that prevail among men-whether those men are called brethren or not. These confusions have existed from the very beginning, and they are not going to end till Christ himself arrive to put things in order. So you must not look for hope of rest in that direction.
Reading, prayer, and kind deeds will bring you peace in the strifes that destroy many. Remember the quietus that is waiting every hot human tongue a short way ahead, and it will help you to bear and to "follow the things that make for peace."
Peace is made,and we must learn how to make it. If we would have peace, we must take the steps that lead to peace. It is not enough just to hope for it, and to pray for it. We must consciously set our course toward it, and we must keep moving along that course. Paul gets a step closer to telling us how when he says in this same epistle to the Romans (8:6),
"To be SPIRITUALLY-MINDED is peace" (Romans 8:6).
Peace is a state of the mind. It does not depend upon the things that happen to us. They can't give us peace or take it from us. Peace depends upon how we receive them, and react to them. It is godliness with contentment—doing right and being satisfied.
Zacharias, father of John the Baptist, said of Christ's birth:
"The dayspring from on high hath visited us ... to guide our feet in the way of peace."
Here again is the same thought—"The way of peace." The dayspring to whom Zacharias refers reveals this way in Matt. 11:28—
"Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn of me."
That is, Copy me, Follow my example—
". . . for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls" (Matt. 11:28-29).
"Rest unto your souls" is a very good synonym for peace, and the way to it is, "Be meek and lowly." Take it easy. Be content with little. Leave the worrying to God. Settle back into the everlasting arms. Cast your care upon Him. Turn it all over to your Father. Give up the frantic struggle to keep up with the mad and endless treadmill.
Relax your grip upon the things that are vanishing, and let the world rush by. Don't look after it longingly, because it isn't going anywhere—but of course it doesn't know that.
Bro Growcott - BYT 4. 36
20 For meat destroy not the work of God. All things indeed are pure; but it is evil for that man who eateth with offence.
"The kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness and peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit."
The meaning of this is, that the gospel of the kingdom of God believed does not cause the believer to make a distinction between meats as clean and unclean; or between alcoholic and other drinks. It does not create in him a conscience of this sort. It teaches him to eat and drink what he pleases, save blood and things strangled, with only this restraint, that he avoid excess in every thing. Let your moderation, or temperance, not your "total abstinence," be known unto all.
We are astonished that any brother claiming to be intelligent in the word, can so unprofitably consume his precious time in perplexing his brains about the countless notions with which the public mind of our generation is bewildered. The gospel of the kingdom is opposed to and subversive of them all. Paul repudiates them, and so do we. We see nothing in them commendable.
In theory they are flimsy; and in the fruit resulting, we have seen nothing and heard nothing, that makes it pleasant to the eye, good for food, or to be desired to make one wise. On the contrary, we hear much calculated to make us loath all such speculations. The Spirit predicted, that
"in later times some would apostatize from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and to teachings of demons speaking falsely with hypocrisy, their own consciences cauterized, forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them who believe and know the truth; for every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused (swine's flesh not excepted) if it be received with thanksgiving; for it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer"—1 Tim. 4:1.
When we read such a testimony as this, it points out a spirit which is not of the truth—the spirit of the Apostasy incarnate in the clergy of the day. We never mistake it, with all the godliness of its tone and phrase, for the Spirit of Christ. It is the spirit of the flesh and essentially unclean. It speaks of the flesh, and is subversive of the truth. It pronounces swine's flesh to be "God-despised," though the Spirit of God saith,
"it is good, and not to be refused, if received with thanksgiving; for it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer."
Here is a direct issue—God versus the Flesh, alias the Devil. Those may go with the devil who please; we prefer God and liberty from all yokes of bondage and the traditions of men.
Herald of the Kingdom and Age to Come, Jun 1860
23 And he that doubteth is damned if he eat, because he eateth not of faith: for whatsoever is not of faith is sin.
...the only true standard of measurement is God's standard, and we must go to God's Word and ask- What is wickedness and what is righteousness? What is right; what is wrong?
What is sound, and true, and everlasting; and what is false, and corrupt, and passing?
We must begin at the right place. We must begin with God, and work out from there, taking nothing for granted that we do not measure from Him.
God is the foundation and center of everything. There are no standards of anything apart from Him. Right and wrong, good and bad, mean nothing apart from Him. He alone is stable and fixed and unchangeable in the universe.
He is eternal and perfect in beauty, wisdom, goodness and love. Everything is to be measured according as it is in harmony or disharmony with Him. All that is out of harmony with God is wickedness, foolishness, unhappiness, corruption, and death:
"Sin is transgression of the law" (1 Jn. 3:4).
The Scriptures put the same truth into a broader and more sweeping form when they say-
"Whatsoever is not of faith is sin" (Rom. 14:23).
That is, everything-every human activity-outside of an Intelligent comprehension and acceptance of God's law, is SIN. Everything that is not done within the framework of a conscious enlightened effort to be in harmony with God, is SIN, either ignorant or presumptuous.
Why is the definition of sin so broad? Why is everything weighted against us? Why can we not just as likely be right as wrong?
If we think about it, we shall see that it could be no other way. If God has commanded us to consciously frame our whole life in obedience to Him, then ANY independent action which is done in ignorance, thoughtlessness, or disregard of this command, is sin, even though in itself the act is not specifically forbidden.
It is the self-will, the self-pleasing, the ignoring of God's command and sovereign supremacy-that is sin.
Bro Growcott - Our call to holiness