Last Updated on : October 11, 2014

1891 – A New Version of the Question: "Who Are The Christadelphians"

Article by Lemuel Edwards (with bro Roberts' editoral comments in green for clarity)

Followed by a Letter to the Editor


1891 – A New Version of the Question: "Who Are The Christadelphians"

Article by Lemuel Edwards (with bro Roberts' editoral comments in green for clarity)

(The Christadelphian, 1891, page 17-20).

THE whole duty of man is to fear God and keep His commandments (Eccl. 12.) If he refuses to understand this, he sins without excuse, and sees clearly his destiny written. The Gospel, with its adherent faith, hope, love, and obedience, constitutes the means by which man can rise to the blessings of the new creation, and it calls him to the kingdom, glory, honour, life and incorruptibility it brings to light. It is therefore a high, holy, and heavenly calling.
Union with Christ's name, by divine decree, is the reconciliation of the Creator to His sinful creature man, or the atonement which comes by water and blood, to wash and cleanse the disobedient. The one baptism in water, with the one faith in the blood of Christ, cleanses and unites all such, to his name. Having crucified the flesh with its affections and lusts, put off the old man with his deeds, and put on the new man (Christ), by baptism into his name and the likeness of his death and resurrection, they rise again to walk in newness of life, as new creatures in Christ.
Thus united they are saints, not sinners, for "both he that sanctifieth, and they that are sanctified are all of one Father, for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren."
Therefore they are Christadelphians, and these alone can constitute the ecclesia, which is His body, the Church of the Living God, the pillar and ground of the truth. In this body there are no personalities except in the person of Christ. God is no respector of persons. The four divisions of the Corinthian Church represented by the figurative names of Paul, Apollos, Cephas, and Christ showed that by the introduction of personalities they became carnal, and walked as men. The fourth part, who were of Christ, alone constituted the true ecclesia, and they, it seemed, were only babes in Christ. The prominent object of Paul's two letters was to warn, instruct, and admonish them, teaching the absolute necessity of preserving the purity and unity of the ecclesia, else it would cease to be such. This can only be seen by a careful reading of both. He says, 1 Cor. 12., "For as the (human) body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body being many are one body, so also is Christ. For by one spirit are we all baptised into one body, and have all been made to drink into one spirit." The apostle then shews how the members are adapted to each other, and how "God hath tempered the body together that there be no division in the body, but the members should have the same care one for another, and if one suffers all the members suffer with it, and if one is honoured all the members rejoice with it. Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular."
I stop a moment to ask:—Is this a pattern of the ecclesia which is to be constructed before the Judgment, or shall we look for it after, as some suppose? But to proceed:—Jesus said of the brethren (Jno. 17.), "They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. For their sakes I sanctify myself that they also might be sanctified through the truth, that they all may be one, as Thou, Father, art in me, and I in Thee, that they also may be one in us, that the world may believe that Thou hast sent me. And the glory which Thou gavest me, I have given them, that they may be one, even as we are one. I in them, and they in me, that they may be made perfect in one."
Many modern Christadelphians say that this perfection is not attainable until after the resurrection and judgment, and some are driven to say that there is no Church of Christ on earth, as the Bible describes it; and I have often heard the remark that it is impossible to get a perfect church in this mixed state of good and evil. ('Tis even so, brother; else where is such a body.—EDITOR.) If this be so, what meaning can there be in the above sayings? and why is it written in Deut. 18. "Thou shall be perfect with the Lord thy God," and, in chap. 5., "Ye shall observe to do as the Lord your God has commanded you, not turning aside to the right hand or the left?" And why should Paul tell the Hebrews to leave the principles of the doctrine of Christ, and go on to perfection?—and the Ephesians, that Christ gave apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers (who, though dead, yet speak) for the perfection of the saints, the work of the ministry, the building up of the body of Christ, till we all come into the unity of the faith, and the knowledge of the Son of God unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ; that henceforth we be no more tossed to and fro and carried about by every wind of doctrine?—and further, that speaking the truth in love we might grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, fitly joined together, and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the building up itself in love? (Remember that jots and tittles are important). And, in a word, why are the Scriptures given by the inspiration of God that the man of God may be perfect? (Some will be perfected: not all.—EDITOR.) Remember that Christ loved the ecclesia, and gave himself for it, that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that he might present it to himself and the Father as a glorious ecclesia not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing, but that it should be holy, and without blemish. (So he will, but not while the unfaithful are in it.—EDITOR.) We look for new heavens and a new earth. Behold, I make all things new! Wherefore, beloved brethren, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent, that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless (2 Peter 3.) Keep thyself pure, and be not partaker of other men's sins, is commanded every member of the body of Christ as well as Timothy. Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thy heart; thou shalt in any wise rebuke thy neighbour, that thou bear not sin for him (margin) (Lev. 19.) Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, a little leaven will leaven the whole lump. Be not unequally yoked together with unbelievers, for what fellowship has righteousness with unrighteousness—light with darkness—Christ with Belial—or he that believeth with an infidel—or the Temple of God with idols, for ye are the Temple of the living God, and He hath said I will dwell in them, and walk in them, and be their God, and they my people. Wherefore come out from among them (the faithless and disobedient), and be ye separate, and touch not the unclean, and I will receive you, and be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.
The yoke of Christ is an equal yoke which is easy, and its burden light, if we understand the precious treasure of righteousness and the reward it carries; but put the unrighteous or the sinner in the yoke, and it becomes unequal and galling unto the second death, if the burden of sin is not removed. (True, but we are not allowed to remove such, except for open disobedience. Christ reserves judgment for his own prerogative.—EDITOR.) Enter not into the path of the wicked, and go not in the way of evil men. Avoid it, pass not by it, turn from it, and pass away. Go from the presence of a foolish man, when thou perceivest not in him the lips of knowledge (Prov. 4:14.)
But it may be asked, how is it possible to keep the ecclesia unspotted from the world in this mixed state of good and evil? Had it not been possible, God would never have required it. This is just the work before every individual member of the Body of Christ. (Yes; it is the work of "individuals," but all will not do it. The bulk of the professing body will come short of what is required: hence though "many are called, few are chosen," but the two classes are appointed to be together till the Lord come, else would there be no need of the judgment.—EDITOR.) Leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, we are admonished to go on to perfection, and not lay again a foundation for repentance from dead works—i.e., sin no more, for how shall we who are dead to sin live any longer therein? (Ro. 6:2.) We are all babes in Christ when born again as new creatures, but we are sinless babes, if indeed we are in him, for in him is no sin (1 Jno. 3.). We grow in grace and the knowledge of God by daily nourishment with the sincere milk, bread, and strong meat of the word to the full stature of a man in Christ (i.e., perfection). No time to be lost, but giving all diligence, add to your faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness, charity, and laying aside every weight that hinders, and whatever sin which doth so easily beset us on the way, run with courage and patience the race set before us, ever looking to Jesus for help that we may win the prize through him, the author and finisher of the faith. Know you not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize. This one is none other than the one multitudinous body of Christ. These are all saints, because they are born of God, and the brethren of Christ, or Christadelphians. Not sinners, because "we know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God, keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not (1 Jno. 5:18). Beloved, now are we the sons of God, but it doth not yet appear what we shall be; but we know that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is;. . and "as he is, so are we in this world." And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself even as he is pure (1 Jno. 3:4), in which we also read—"whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin, for his seed remaineth in him, and he cannot sin because he is born of God." (This is the incorruptible seed of which Peter says we are born—1 Pet. 1:23). In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil. Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not, knoweth not God, for God is love; and hereby we do know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. "He that saith I know him, and keepeth not his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him."


But why this lengthy collation of Bible sayings, with which most of us are familiar, in connection with the ecclesia of the Living God? This duty took root partly in the fact that the writer, comparatively recently, propounded the following question to perhaps a score of "intelligent Christadelphians," to which the following answers, substantially, were given by nine out of ten:—ARE YOU A SAINT OR A SINNER?
Answers.—"I am a sinner," "I am neither," "I am both," "I hope I am a saint," "I can't tell until the judgment," "That is to be determined in the future," "I am a sinner, I sin every moment of my life; I may be a saint like Cyrus" Another says (quoting John) "If we say we have no sin we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us;" and yet another, "When I read my Bible attentively, I am bound to conclude that so far as I can see, there is not a saint, nor a church, or body of Christ on earth, but it will be made up at the judgment."
If one half of the Christadelphians in the world were to give such answers to such an important question as this, is it not high time that the watchers on the walls of Zion—the Ezras—the Scribes instructed in the kingdom of God—and the editors, who are labouring to make ready a people prepared for the Lord, should awake from their slumbers, and teach that people that the first principles of the doctrine of Christ are merely elementary, or the foundations upon which their hope of life is to be constructed—and but the means to the end of securing the prize we set out in the race to win? That, leaving these principles behind, we should press forward, with all diligence and energy, to that degree of perfection which the Scriptures require as absolutely necessary to success? Does it encourage them in the race, to tell them that perfection is unattainable in this life, and it is folly to look for it? Would not such teaching put a brake on spiritual effort, and bring about a fatal supineness and indifference like that which leads the murderer to "hope for heaven" on the gallows, because he can say "Lord have mercy on me a sinner?" May not this very thought—that it is impossible to attain spiritual perfection, that we cannot help sin, that it is in our natures, and God has put it there, that we are helplessly under its dominion, &c.—produce the disposition in us to excuse and condone sin, because the grace of God, in His mercy, abounds, and we can sin seventy times, and all we have to do is to turn and say I repent, and you are bound to forgive? And may not this be the true cause of the lack of purity, unity, and holiness in the "Churches" of the day? (The apparent difficulty arises from confounding the individual and corporate application of these things. The professing body of Christ has ever been a mixed body in which perfection was impossible—there was even a Judas among the twelve. But the individuals who are to compose the glorified body of Christ are always characterised by the spirit of Christ, without which they are none of his.—EDITOR.) When the Son of Man cometh shall he find the one Faith on the earth? Faith without works is dead, especially that faith which is only a verbal acceptance of the gospel, and an immersion in water, even though you add the compassing of sea and land to make proselytes to that extent, as though this was the chief good.
The living faith works by love. This is a volume in itself; but there is another, vol. ii. It purifies the heart, and yet another, vol. iii. It overcomes the world. If the mind and heart will let in the light, in its fulness of these three volumes, there may be reason to ask, when the Son man cometh, will he find this faith on the earth? And yet the answer is plain. It will be found only in the Body of Christ, which is the ecclesia of the living God, the pillar and ground of the Truth. They may be few, as in the days of Noah, but few or many, the one faith will be found only with them.
It may be said that Christadelphians teach these things. But do they urge them with the same degree of earnestness and faithfulness? They contend for fellowship in first principles in the start. (They do so in some parts, certainly, and always have.—EDITOR.) Is the fellowship of the doctrine of faith, hope, love, holiness, purity, and unity in the race less important than that of first principles, for which they so uncompromisingly contend in the start? (It is impossible to judge of these things. You may know if man believe the truth, but you cannot know how much faith, hope, love, holiness, purity, &c., he has in his heart. We are forbidden to judge one another. We sympathise entirely with brother Edwards' personal applications, but think it a mistake to look for a body in which all the members will be answerable to those applications.—EDITOR.) Does it ever occur to them that in their zeal for the latter they may not only neglect, but compromise the weightier matters of the former, by too loose a discipline and fellowship in the body of Christ? May not this account for the fact that they look in vain for a pure and spotless ecclesia on the earth? We think they will continue to look in vain if they conclude it is impossible to have one. (Brother, there never was such. If so, when? where?—EDITOR.) Let us suppose an interview between the Apostle John and the little children to whom he writes.
L. EDWARDS, Lanesville, Va.
(The Christadelphian, 1891, page 17-20).

June 1891 – Comments on "Who are the Christadelphians"

Letter to the editor from Lemuel Edwards

(The Christadelphian, 1891, page 224)

"I thank you for publishing what I have written what I believe to be a true Christadelphian, and Christadelphian ecclesia. I simply wish to do my duty to the last, in employing the one talent committed to me by my absent Lord and Master. I know it is in accordance with His will that I should ask wisdom of Him to guide me in my trials, because He gives to all liberally, and does not upbraid understanding, as I think, fully, that I must seek it through His inspired Word with the diligence I would seek for hidden treasures; and not only through this, but every other channel which His providence may open; and having done this, I can but conclude that with a faith that does not stagger at His promise, I shall receive just what I ask.
"With the saying of the 12th Psalm before me, that 'The Lord will cut off all flattering lips,' I can say that I know of no counsel outside of the inspired word that I desire more than that of brother Thomas, who, though dead, yet speaks, and brother Roberts, who is living and still speaks. The impression made here by what has been recently published, is, that brother Roberts differs from me and the Lanesville Church is encouraged. My impression is that while we seem to differ, when fully understood, we really agree. I believe brother Roberts and myself both long since understood and endorsed Dr. Thomas's view of the ecclesia in its two states—the mortal and immortal—'The Tabernacle of the Testimony,' and the 'Nave' State, and the purity and perfection that pertained to each. That in the former there always has been evil, which is necessary to the conflict between flesh and spirit, and the trial of the faith and patience of the saints, and their final triumph be made manifest; and as brother Roberts says 'it is ordained that they shall be together.' But brother Roberts surely does not mean that they shall be together in the fellowship with the spiritual "e pluribus unum"—the many made one in the body of Christ. Nor when he says 'we are forbidden to judge one another' can he mean that we are forbidden to exercise a wise and discriminating judgment, that we may be able to choose the companionship of the good and reject that of the evil? We can but agree that no man can judge the heart of another, which God only can do. 'Open' sins, he says, we may judge, in which I fully agree, as it is impossible for us to judge any other. Brother Roberts asks 'when, where' I can find a perfect or pure ecclesia? Of course he must mean in the 'Tabernacle of the Testimony' State, and the degree of purity and perfection thereto pertaining. Suppose I answer: From all that is 'open' to my mind, and the evidence I have, I would point him to the Birmingham ecclesia, but for his indirect but substantially direct, testimony, that there is an Achan in the camp. This testimony being true, the 7th chapter of Joshua is not only suggestive, but imperative, and finds the first duty at hand for each and every member of that spiritual corporation the Apostle calls the Body of Christ and Ecclesia of the Living God. I feel almost sure that when understood, brother Roberts and myself will agree in what we have written, and it is a pity that there should be any smoke thrown over it to make it appear otherwise.
"I have not written this for publication, unless you think some good could come out of it by taking notice of it in your own way. My days are few and evil. The judgment to me is close at hand. The uppermost desire of my heart is to be approved by my blessed Saviour. I wish to keep this before me in whatever I write, say, or do. Out of Christ, everything is vanity. An experience and observation of over three-score years and ten is quite enough to learn this lesson perfectly."

REMARKS.—We published brother Edwards' article because of its fervent endorsement and happy development of the noble principles of the Spirit of God as enunciated in the apostolic epistles: which will certainly level down all human nonconformities with unsparing hand at the judgment seat of Christ. Wherein we dissented was not as to the principles that ought to characterise every brother and company of brethren, but as to the feasibility or scripturality of withholding fellowship from every person or community that has not attained to this "perfect measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ." We agree with brother Edwards that open rebellion against the law of Christ leaves a true friend of Christ no alternative but separation from every person or community guilty of it, but it is a different case when there is professed subjection to that law, and more or less of a sincere endeavour to conform, even if there is a considerable amount of shortcoming. Our conviction is that in such a case, both mercy and duty require a long-suffering fellowship.—As for the Birmingham ecclesia, the proverb holds good: "Distance lends enchantment to the view." There are many in it for whom we have true cause for thanksgiving to God because of their conformity to the mind of the Spirit: but there are others who dim down the general lustre, and give great occasion for that personal humiliation and exercise of patience which, in the arrangements of the wisdom of God, are for ever inseparable from this probation. Brother Edwards will be at home in the Kingdom of God where nothing shall enter that defileth. We hope to rejoice with him then, as we do now in the measure possible in a sand drifting desert.
(The Christadelphian, 1891, page 224)


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