1 Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work,
Vaccination and the Obedience of the Truth
"I have a friend who knows the truth, and is inclined to obey it, but is altogether opposed to vaccination. He wants to know whether he cannot become a Christadelphian without submitting to have his children vaccinated. He thinks it a sin."-(H.C.B.)
Answer.-Becoming a Christadelphian means believing and obeying the gospel, and accepting all the obligations which the law of Christ imposes on his brethren. Without this, a man cannot be saved. But Christ has commanded nothing on the subject of vaccination.
If he had, undoubtedly, H. C. B.'s friend could not become his brother without submitting to his command. Our duty in the matter depends upon the bearing of those precepts by which he has commanded us to submit to
"every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake."-(1 Peter 2:13),
and to "obey magistrates" (Titus 3:1), where these do not require us to disobey him.
Out of this comes the conclusion that it is our duty to submit to vaccination because magistrates require it, but this conclusion would, of course, be deprived of its force, if it could be shown that vaccination was opposed to what God requires; but this cannot be shown. The arguments that show it are far-fetched and inconclusive.
The question being one of doubtful disputation, is one on which no one must judge or dictate to another.
Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind, and act accordingly, and leave the Lord to decide. To call it a sin on one side or other, is a mistake; for this is to contend that those who practise on the other side are sinners. Sin is the transgression of the law; and a matter on which no express law has been given must be left to the uncondemned judgment of each for himself.
If objectors who call vaccination "sin" would analyze their own minds, they would find that their antipathy has its source in sympathy for offspring, and not in special regard for divine law, which, in palpable matters, is often disregarded without compunction.
If H. E. B.'s friend means to be saved, he will be unwise to let vaccination stand in his way, one way or other. If he cannot see his way to the submission inculcated in Rom. 13:1, let him, at all events, in the fear of God, obey the gospel for the remission of sins, and commit himself with humility to God, lest "sin," in the case, be found, at last, on the side of his refusal, instead of on the part of those who "obey magistrates" in the matter.
The Christadelphian, Feb 1873
2 To speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, shewing all meekness unto all men.
3 For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another.
Pleasure deadens all moral perceptions and inclinations, and leads its votaries downward in the path that leads to death. No one is ever helped to the Kingdom of God by theatre going or novel reading. By these the present life, which is a shadow is stamped on the imagination as the reality; and the purpose of God, which is a reality, is made to appear a myth.
4 But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared,
5 Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;
6 Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour;
6 Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour;
7 That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
Believing is not an act of the will. I cannot will to believe what I have no evidence of. The power compelling faith is in the testimony. God created the human sensorium, He created the faith that came by Jesus Christ, and He created the testimony concerning it (for it is styled "the testimony of God"); by Scriptural and by human instrumentality, the divine faith and human sensorium are brought into juxtaposition by the divine testimony, and faith germinates and grows as a plant from seed sown.
Out of this germination, fully developed into ripeness of plant, comes justification, δικαιωσιζ εκ πιστεοζ, dikai̬sis ek piste̤os, justification from, or out of, faith, or believing the truth. Hence, truly, a man's believing may be styled "the gift of God;" for, speaking of sinners saved from their past sins, it is written "they shall be all taught of God."
Bro Thomas - The Ambassador of the Coming Age April, 1869
8 This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable unto men.
ZEALOUS OF GOOD WORKS
This is the key and central thought in this very practical epistle. It is not sufficient that we just DO good works. Even more important is that we be zealous about it-eager, enthusiastic-that this be our pleasure and consuming desire-that we never feel we have done enough for God and the Truth, but are always striving to do more.
That is "zealous of good works." If we do not manifest this characteristic, we are not Christ's peculiar people. We are just ordinary, self-pleasing people, like all the rest of the perishing world.
"Good works" means helping people-both temporarily and eternally, especially the latter, but by no means ignoring the former-labouring, doing something practical and constructive, comforting and encouraging.
If we are sorry for ourselves, full of self-pity, we are USELESS to God.
We cannot even begin to fulfil this requirement of good works. For if, having the glorious gift of Truth, we have not enough faith and appreciation to be eternally and joyfully thankful to God, we are blind indeed. We just do not know God: we have never found Him.
Let us test every activity by this expression "good works." Talking, arguing, discussing, contending, are "good works" ONLY if they perform constructive good for someone, only if they lead closer to practical godliness of life-only if they guide others in God's Way, or deepen and strengthen them in that Way.*
9 But avoid foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and vain.
The flesh has a hankering for crotchets...
Flesh prefers to avoid facing issues which have an uncomfortable practical bearing on its own conduct and character.
It would much rather argue about who was Cain's wife, or whether the Transfiguration was a vision, or whether Christ's temptation was "subjective" or "objective," than to think about the personal bearing of the command to love one's neighbour as one's-self, or about how it uses for its own gratification God's goods entrusted to it in stewardship, or the command to sell what it has and give to the poor.
These practical questions the flesh avoids, preferring the crotchets and speculations which do not interfere with its pleasures and self-will. But "zealous of good works" is still the clear distinguishing mark of the peculiar people of Christ.
They are too busy doing good for others to waste time and effort on barren contentions that have no practical value toward godliness. *
Avoid contention, for it is unprofitable and vain
Contention is another abuse of the great power and privilege of speech.
And the wisdom of the Spirit in Proverbs tells us:
"A fool's lips enter into contention" - 18: 6.
Contentiousness is one of the basic natural evils of the flesh. See how children will squabble and quarrel over the most trivial things, just for the sake of squabbling.
Paul told the Corinthians that strife among them proved they were still carnal and fleshly-minded spiritual infants. Any strife in an ecclesia indicates there is a wrong spirit on both sides, for the spiritually-minded will not be drawn into contention but will comport themselves with gentleness and meekness and love toward all. The Proverbs declare:
"It is an honour for a man to cease from strife."
There is indeed such a thing -- a noble and dignified and profitable thing -- as "contending earnestly for the Faith,*" but the spiritually wise will distinguish it from fleshly contention and the natural human spirit of contentiousness. Often, because of the deceptiveness of the flesh, contending for the Truth takes on the evil spirit of fleshly contention. In any difference of opinion we must be on guard against this subtle danger.
Bro Growcott - BYT 1.4.
10 A man that is an heretick after the first and second admonition reject;
This is the last command. A sad but necessary reminder that the way is narrow and against the flesh, that TRUTH IS important and must be faithfully defended, even to the point of separation when that becomes necessary.
May we, in God's love and mercy, be spared from such sad duties. But may be given the wisdom and courage to resolutely face and deal with such things when necessary-in infinite patience and kindness, but with firmness and faithfulness, realising the great and life-giving value of that Treasure which has been entrusted to our care.*
*Bro Growcott - Zealous of Good Works
11 Knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself.
12 When I shall send Artemas unto thee, or Tychicus, be diligent to come unto me to Nicopolis: for I have determined there to winter.
13 Bring Zenas the lawyer and Apollos on their journey diligently, that nothing be wanting unto them.
14 And let ours also learn to maintain good works for necessary uses, that they be not unfruitful.
15 All that are with me salute thee. Greet them that love us in the faith. Grace be with you all. Amen. (It was written to Titus, ordained the first bishop of the church of the Cretians, from Nicopolis of Macedonia.)