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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 (Rom. xii, 2). 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:
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.
Bro Growcott - Search Me O God
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
22 Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.
Second Voyage to Australia June 18, 1898
It is not possible for man to sit in judgment on the divine character, or to say what God ought to do or not-to require or not require. It is for man simply to receive the testimony that God has given of Himself and His Ways. And we must receive the whole testimony, and not only those parts that may be agreeable to our natural characteristics.
God has declared Himself kind and loving and gracious, but He has also declared Himself jealous and holy and intolerant of any infringement of His supremacy (Ezk. 20:5; Lev. 11; 10:3; Psa. 46:10). He has practically exhibited what we might call this stern side of His character in such incidents as the striking dead of two priests who dared to deviate from His directions (Lev. 10:2) and of Uzzah, who profanely touched the ark, even with an apparently good intention (1 Chron. 13:10).
The expulsion of Adam and Eve from Eden and the requirement of sacrifice is of the same character, and also the drowning of the whole world, the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, and the burning of Jerusalem and the Temple. We have nothing to do but what Paul says-
"Behold therefore the goodness and the severity of God" (Rom. 11:22).
If we are tempted to think the death of Christ inconsistent with His love, we must look all round it, and consider what it was intended to secure-the reconciliation of men on the basis of justice and declared righteousness. Do read and ponder Romans 3:21-26.
Consider what comes out of this at last - the removal of death and all evil from the earth and the populating of the planet with a race of joyous immortal intelligences who will ascribe to God the glory of their redemption through Christ.
WE MUST ACCEPT THE PLAIN TESTIMONY
Surely there is no difficulty in understanding that love has sometimes to employ painful expedients to reach its aims. Difficulty or no difficulty, the testimony is explicit, and we are bound to receive it on pain of God's displeasure-that the shedding of the blood of Christ was essential to the forgiveness of our sins unto life eternal (Matt. 26:28), that faith in the power of his blood in this respect is necessary to our justification (Rom. 3:25; 5:1-9); that his death was necessary to the putting away of sin (Heb. 9:26); that we are redeemed through his blood (Col. 1:14), washed by his blood (Rev. 1:5; 7:14)-that is spiritually made white therein.
Though there was no talismanic power in his blood, as a physical agent, yet the shedding of it in the special connection in which God required it, was a part of the righteousness of God which a man denies at his peril. It was a literal act in its occurrence-
"He poured out his soul (life-which is in the blood-Lev.
17:11) unto death."
He thus "made his soul an offering for sin" (Isa. 53:10-12).
"By his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption" (Heb. 9:12).
Therefore, "If the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of the heifer, sprinkling the unclean sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh (under the Mosaic law) how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the Eternal Spirit, offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works, to serve the living God.
For this cause he is the mediator of the new covenant, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first covenant, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance" (Heb. 9:13-15).
The Lord himself was brought again from the dead through this blood of the everlasting covenant (Heb. 13:20). He himself, "as the seed of David according to the flesh," was a sufferer from the evils that came from the entrance of sin into the world. From these he was the first to be redeemed by his own obedience. It was part of his obedience to submit to death (Phil. 2:8). This commandment he received from the Father (John 10:18). The reason was that sin might be condemned in the flesh and the righteousness of God declared (Rom. 8:3; 3:25-26). He is the firstfruits of the work thus accomplished and the first begotten of the dead (1 Cor. 15:23).
DENIERS OF THESE TRUTHS BELONG OUTSIDE THE BODY
These things are testified and they are presented to us for faith. There can therefore be no agreement with those who, from whatever cause, nullify them by maintaining that the death of Christ was a mere tragedy in which the malice of men triumphed over a righteous man; that it was no necessity in the Father's plan for our redemption: that it was a mere example of obedience, and a reformatory moral influence by the power of sympathy; that the shedding of his blood was not necessary; that "Christ died because he was killed;" and that he might as well have died in his bed!
Such doctrines destroy the Truth as foreshadowed in all the sacrifices of the Law, and testified in the Prophets. It is not possible for men faithful to divine obligation to give any quarter to them. Such doctrines belong to the outer darkness and not to the fellowship of the Gospel. The men who hold them are not in their place at the table of the Lord. They are men to be antagonized without reservation; and fighting belongs not to the house of God, except in a united and earnest contention for the Faith delivered to the saints. When men have to be fought on the first principles of the Truth, their place is outside-not inside. There must be the one Faith, before there can be the one Body.
Reprinted in the Berean Christadelphian, May 2018.
24 For if thou wert cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and wert graffed contrary to nature into a good olive tree: how much more shall these, which be the natural branches, be graffed into their own olive tree?
The destruction of Jerusalem was the breaking off, not of Israel, but of "some of the branches" of "the Good" Israelitish "Olive Tree," whose stock is rooted in Abraham "the friend of God;" and these branches, which lie withered on the ground, will, like Aaron's Rod, become full of sap and bear much fruit, by being again ingrafted on the parent tree;" for God is able to graft them in again"-Rom, xi.
Herald of the Kingdom and Age to Come, 1860 - The Olivet Prophecy.
36 For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen.
Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honour and power everlasting. Amen. (1 Tim 6:16).
For in him we live, and move, and have our being (Acts 17:28)
All things must be embraced in the power from which they have sprung, and which sustains them in being. We must be in the presence of God. ...
...Well, then, if that is beyond us, how inscrutable is the other point presented to our faith, though its truth is evident as a matter of reason, viz., that there is, in relation to that universal element of power or existence, a personal controlling centre, from which it is but an eternal emanation, and with which it is ONE indissoluble - the First Cause - the Eternal Antecedent of all things - the seat of Ineffable Wisdom and power - the Father, who is above all and through all by his diffusive spirit, and yet personally resident at a point of the universe, variously described in the Scriptures as "light unapproachable," "heaven of heavens," "heaven thy dwelling place." ....
For instance, Jesus says "Our Father, who art in heaven." - (Matt. 6.) David says, "Unto thee I lift mine eyes, O Thou that dwellest in the heavens."- (Psalm 123:1.) Solomon, at the dedication of the temple, makes frequent use of the phrase "Hear Thou in heaven, Thy dwelling-place, and when Thou hearest, forgive."
These are illustrations of the statements that teach the localization of the Father in central light -the sustaining principle of creation, in, as it were, what you may style focus, or intensity of development. They teach that though that principle is universal, the Personal Intelligence from whom it emanates, dwells in local habitation; yet that He has conscious relation to infinitude, He fills all because He is The Spirit and you cannot divide spirit from spirit. You cannot divide any one part of God from Himself.
The Christadelphian, May 1870 - The Operations of the Deity.
3 For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh:
This is one of the most difficult passages in the New Testament, as it now stands in the English version. In the preceding chapter he had asked, "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Nay," says he, "I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." Should all these things fail to make him accursed, and should the anxiety he felt for the salvation of his persecuting countrymen even hypothetically prevail? This cannot be. His wish to be accursed, or separated from the love of God to be manifested in full through Christ Jesus, must have some other import than this.
Mr. Frey, an Israelite who admits the claims of Jesus to Messiahship, has proposed the following solution of the difficulty: Read the second and third verses, omitting the words, "I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ;" then, afterwards replace them where they belong, and read them as in a parenthesis, with "I did wish" instead of "I could wish." Thus, "I have a great heaviness, and continued sorrow in my heart * * * for my brethren, my kinsmen according to flesh, who are Israelites:" then, "I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart (for I did myself wish to be accursed from Christ) for my brethren, my kinsmen according to flesh, who are Israelites." This exhibits the mind of the apostle very clearly. He had great heaviness and sorrow for Israel, because they were while he was dictating his letter, as he was before his conversion. He had doubtless wished himself accursed from Jesus; and was probably an individual of the crowd which cried out "His blood be on us, and on our children!" After Paul was enlightened, and came to measure his position at that crisis of Christ's affliction, he beheld it in all its hideousness, so as to create in him a poignant sympathy for his kinsmen, who still remained under that self imprecated curse.
Euchomeen, the original word, translated "could wish" in the common version, is the imperfect middle, and is rendered by "I was wishing," "I wished," or "I did wish." This accords with what we have said above. He imprecated a curse upon himself - a past action - while he was in an unconverted state - another thing in the past: but when enlightened, neither all Israelites, "nor any other created thing," could induce him to wish himself accursed again. This part of Paul's experience well fitted him for sympathy with his unbelieving countrymen. Mr. Frey has well said, "He who has just been rescued from a dangerous fit of sickness, feels more for a sick person, than he who never knew what sickness means. Hence, even the Son of God himself needed to be tempted and tried, that he might be able to succour them that are tempted."
Herald of the Kingdom and Age to come, Feb 1853
21 Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?
We are the clay in the hand of the Potter. We are the material. He has made us as we are, and He will make us into whatever we shall be. We ask then, Is anything expected of us? Does God just pick some here and there haphazardly for His purpose? We do not entertain that idea for a moment.
Something is expected even of the potter's clay. It must be suitable material. First and above all, it must be workable. Not stiff and hard and crusted. It must yield itself to the hand of the potter. Clay that was satisfied with its present shapelessness and resisted the Potter, or wanted a shape of its own, would be useless.
Then it must have sufficient consistency to hold the shape into which the Potter forms it. Flabby material is no good. "God hath no pleasure in fools" (Ecc. 5:4). He knows our possibilities and will not be deceived, though we deceive ourselves.
Then, to fill a useful role, the clay must pass through the fire. It must be hardened -- not too much fire or it will forever be destroyed -- but just that degree that is necessary to achieve the best results. The All-wise Potter knows exactly how much each vessel needs, and exactly how much each can stand.
Bro Growcott - Holy and Blameless in Love