(Reprinted from the December, 1907 Christadelphian Advocate)
A Lecture, Delivered in the Christadelphian Meeting Room
81 Great George St., Leeds, England, Tuesday, Nov. 10, 1903
By Bro. Thom. Williams, of America
[Passages of special interest to the web-designer have been highlighted for quick reference]
Bro. Hall, in introducing Bro. Williams, said:
The meeting was called to consider the question which has perplexed us for years. We are very much pleased to see so many gathered together which showed a willingness to hear both sides of the question. The object of the lecture was to endeavor to come to a proper understanding amongst the ecclesias, instead of the divided state which at present exists. Questions would be allowed at the close of the lecture.
Bro. Williams, in addressing the meeting, said:
Dear Bro. Hall, my beloved brethren and sisters in Christ Jesus, It has afforded Sister Williams and myself great pleasure in coming to Yorkshire and making your acquaintance; whether you are in the habit of meeting within these walls or not, we are very much pleased to have met your acquaintance, but sorry to find the brotherhood in such a divided condition. Had we come amongst you ten years ago, we should have found you a united people, so far as the question which divides you now is concerned. We will go further back, say thirty years, and we should then have found some believing in a third class resurrection and some not, and yet all able to meet in bonds of love and peace, and in sweet communion with the heavenly Father. If that could be so for nearly thirty years, and it is not so now, the question arises, What has come amongst you, what taken place, to alter the situation and bring about the sad situation in which you are now found, divided one against another? We must try and find the cause, and endeavor to remove it. I have not come among you to dictate, but in the fear of God and the love which should exist between us, to try to remove the wrongs and place matters in a right condition. I hope we shall be able to meet each other half-way upon this subject; you know the words of our Lord, “Blessed are the peacemakers,” and I want you help to make peace. This vexing question has caused both trouble and bitterness; let us see how nearly we can come to agree, and when we have done our very best there will always be, so long as we are in this evil state of things, certain differences that we shall have to tolerate, for in this evil state it is absolutely impossible to have a oneness of mind upon every question that we may derive from the bible. If we can see eye to eye upon the fundamental principles of the gospel, we shall have found a workable basis and a basis of fellowship, and when we come to consider any question wherein there may be a difference with regard to passages of scripture, if we are not willing and able to tolerate each other, then we lack that forbearance and love which the scriptures inculcate. I am not presuming nor anticipation that there are any who are not willing to profess that love that will strive for peace and harmony. Even when our Lord was upon the earth, and when the apostles were sent out to perform the work of the gospel, when the Spirit was among them, and when miracles were performed, there were certain differences, and the efforts of the apostles were to right the wrongs and keep the body of Christ together as one united body, and drastic measures were never applied until there was no hope, and then only upon glaring inconsistencies, or where the law of Christ was broken in the moral sense, and when fundamental principles were denied or nullified.
With regard to the question of first principles, I will go back to the infancy of the revival of the truth, fresh from the pen of Dr. Thomas, up to the time of the trouble. Is it not true that the question of the resurrection of Gentiles out of Christ was always called a “third class resurrection”? And why a third class, unless there were two other classes implied? And the two classes were always regarded as the “just and the unjust” under the law of the gospel, in Christ; under the law of the spirit of life, under the everlasting covenant; and if the other class had been considered as under this same law, they could not have been called a “third class.” Those regarded as outside that law are always called a third class. If we still retain that “third class” idea, and speak of the resurrection of such as a resurrection of a third class, then we shall admit and agree upon the possibility of that. Keep the two classes separate and distinct as belonging to the law of the everlasting covenant, on probation for “good or bad” to be judged “according to works good or bad”; keeping that truth intact, undisturbed, do not extend or diminish it, and admit the other as outside of it, not interfering with it, not infringing upon it, and granting that what God has done in the past in certain incidental resurrections he may do in the future, and there will be a meeting point where we can meet as before.
But you will say, Things have changed since then. In what sense have they changed? The matter has become aggressive, you will say. Now I know you are reasonable brethren and sisters, and I know, too, that Yorkshire people have the reputation of being outspoken people, and therefore I am going to speak plainly. Now as reasonable brethren and sisters, let me ask you, Does aggression turn that which for forty years was not a first principle, into a first principle? After the lapse of forty years, does the question of whether or not the subject is discussed, change it from a non-essential to a vital essential? Does the question of whether or not it is discusses and debated between brethren turn that which was not a first principle into a “a serious first principle”? You know it does not. What shall we do with the aggression? I will suggest what you shall do with it. Let the aggression go down into oblivion, and let us transport ourselves back to where we were before the aggression commenced, and then we shall find a meeting point, I think, if we are willing to become peacemakers on a basis that existed for forty years, that never compromised a vital point, and if it did not for forty years it need not from now until we are called into the presence of our Lord and Master.
Now I am going to speak plainly, and as we do not want any misunderstanding I will say that the difference in this case has largely arisen form prejudice rather than reason, and that prejudice to a large extent has been heaped upon and imposed upon one man. I perhaps would not have referred to this if it had not been for a little circumstance that occurred in one of our meetings here where the question came up, What caused this division? And Bro. J.J. Andrew was the one who had to take the charge of being the cause of this division originally, and there are hundreds of brethren and sisters who believe that to be a fact. I am not going to blame you if you believe it, because you have taken the matter second-handed, and perhaps the hard sons of toil have not had time to follow up everything that has been written, for of making of books there is no end; and secondly, you cannot keep informed of everything produced; therefore you are excusable to a large extent in accepting the matter second-handed. What I say in your hearing to night, and in the presence of God, is as if we were to step into the very presence of our Saviour to be judged, I say the cause of the division does not belong to Bro. J.J. Andrew. That poor brother this very moment is tottering upon the very brink of the grave, largely attributable to the fact that he has been misrepresented throughout the length and breadth of the world. Brethren and sisters, if that poor brother goes down to the grave under the weight of prejudice that perhaps you have helped to heap upon him, you cannot rest quietly and await the judgment-seat. You can help to right all wrongs, whether in relation to this person or that person, this division or that division, and that opportunity will now be placed before you.
I will call your attention to facts, and not second-handed. Did this division come about by reason of Bro. Andrew teaching the violent death theory as some of you imagine? Now for the facts that I refer to. First of all, three years ago Sister Williams and I were in England. We went purposely to Birmingham to have an interview with Bro. Walker. He met us at the station and took us to the house of Sister Roberts, where we were kindly received and treated domestically. Sister Roberts having made arrangements to leave on the Saturday, that became necessary, so we went there hurriedly for an interview. The question of Adamic Condemnation came up in this form. We asked, “What do you think that we teach? Tell us what you think we teach, and then we shall see whether you have the right idea of our belief or not, and we shall then be able to correct any mistakes that might arise.” The answer was, “We believe that by Adam’s sin we are mortal, and that is all.” Bro. Walker said that. Our answer was, “We believe then with you, that man is mortal by reason of Adam’s sin. And so we agree. Now I will ask you, Is mortal flesh sin’s flesh? Yes. Is it regarded as clean or unclean in the sight of God? Unclean. Did Jesus himself partake of that mortal, sin’s, unclean flesh? Yes. Did He have to make a sin-offering to cleanse himself from that? Yes. And therefore His offering arose from the fact of Adam’s sin? Yes. Must we not be baptized into Christ for the same reason? Yes.” “But Bro. Andrew won’t accept that,” said Bro. Walker. We replied, “you have been here six years, and you have never yet gone to see Bro. Andrew to find out how nearly you could agree, but you have misrepresented him.” (And I could read to you page after page, and do you not know it? Let me call your attention to one point where he was misrepresented in the reply to the “Blood of the Covenant.” He was charged with teaching, “That if the blood of Christ had been preserved in a vial, it would have been powerful and operative mechanically and talismanically in raising men out of the grave.” Was that a correct representation, or, as admitted afterwards, sophistry of the worst kind.) I continued saying, “Well, you have not been to Bro. Andrew; we have been to London, we have talked with him upon the subject, and you know that when the “Blood of the Covenant” first came out we said in the CHRISTADELPHIAN ADVOCATE it was a book worthy of reading and study, but there were some things in it we did not agree with.” And yet when we came over to England a brother said we agreed with Bro. Andrew, and when we came over to England this time the same brother said we had come over to fellowship with Bro. Andrew, and yet we have not yet fellowshipped Bro. Andrew, and our visit to London on the 28th of October was for the purpose of deciding whether we could come together upon the question of fellowship; but Bro. Andrew had been put under prejudice, and to identify us with him would put us under the same prejudice, and hinder our work of peace over here without giving us a hearing. I say, brethren and sisters, that is unfair, and unbecoming in those who are seeking for truth in its purity, and the welfare of those who are God’s people, in this dark day. Going back to the subject; I said, “I will bring you a document that I have received from Bro. Andrew, that will show you that he agrees exactly with what I have said.” I went, brought it back, gave it to Bro. Walker, and he never told me what he thought about. Here it is, I will read it to you now, or the part which bears upon the present question. Perhaps I should explain, we talked in Bro. Andrew’s house, but he being in a very weak condition we could not go fully into it, and so we waited until he went on his holidays and then we opened up a correspondence in which he answered the questions I submitted, and which I published soon after. This is from the “Rallying Point,” which was published in the CHRISTADELPHIAN ADVOCATE for October, 1900, and then issued in circular form, thousands of copies of which have gone out among the brethren, but perhaps some of you have not seen them, and therefore the mistake which has been made.
QUESTION. – Do not the words, Because thou hast eaten of the tree, * * * dust thou art and unto dust shalt thou return,” declare the death referred to in the words, “Thou shalt surely die”?
(Some have supposed that Bro. Andrew taught that they did not declare the same penalty, and he did seem to teach it in the “Blood of the Covenant,” but made it plain and clear here, and this what ought to be taken, his last word.)
ANSWER. – Gen. 2:17 declares the penalty of death, and the death of Gen. 3:17-19 is that penalty, but modified by or because of Gen. 3:15. (Referring to the sacrifice of Christ.)
QUES. – Paul says, “By one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin, and so death passed upon all men.” Is he not referring to the death which was intended by the words, “In the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die”?
ANS. – The death mentioned in Rom. 5:13 I consider to refer to the death described in Gen. 3:17.
QUES. – Is not this the death we are all under, and from which Christ came to redeem us?
ANS. – The death of which Christ came to redeem us I consider to be the death of Gen. 3:17-19
QUES. – When Paul says, “The sting of death is sin and the strength of sin is the law,” and then represents the redeemed as rejoicing upon their triumph through Christ over death and the grave, is he not referring to the law which said, “Thou shalt surely die”; to the death which came by its transgression, and to the redemption therefrom?
ANS. – I look upon I. Cor. 15:55,56 as referring to the death which came upon mankind as the result of Adam breaking the law of Gen. 2:17.
QUES. – Is not the subject as involved in this question sufficient for faith and fellowship without entering into the question of whether or not Adam incurred a violent death, so long as it is admitted that God required that Christ should die the death of the cross as a means of redemption for him and for us?
ANS. – I do not look upon the question of Adam incurring a violent death as being necessary for either immersion or fellowship, (Therefore he never made it a test of fellowship, never divided upon it.) but as an item of increased knowledge which proves the perfect justice of God in imposing upon His Son the death of the cross.
QUES. – If it is understood and believed that Adam’s disobedience brought condemnation and death upon the entire race, Christ included, and that through Christ’s obedience unto the death of the cross there is deliverance there from, would you make the question of whether or not God will raise “enlightened Gentiles” a test of fellowship?
ANS. – The question of making the resurrection of Gentiles out of Christ a test of fellowship depends upon how it is held. If it be recognized that Adam brought death upon the entire race by his sin, that baptism into Christ frees us from the permanent power of death, and that such of the baptized as die will rise through their relationship to Christ, but that it is possible that God may by his independent power, raise some others, I should not consider it a barrier to fellowship.
There he has stood from the beginning to the present time.
Now I will read to you from an address that the chairman, Bro. Owler, delivered in London on the 29th of October, when we were there for the purpose I have alluded to:
“Our coming together this evening marks an important event in the history of the truth in this country. As you are all aware, in the year 1894 several brethren representing the periodical called The Christadelphian withdrew from the Barnsbury Hall Ecclesia. The separation arose through the discussion of an item upon which, in the previous history of the truth, there had existed two opinions among the brotherhood. In 1894, however, during the discussion of the question under notice, some with a view of upholding the theory of responsibility to resurrection of the enlightened rejecters, advanced certain arguments which were destructive of vital elements of our faith, (such as free life arguments.) This led the discussion away from the original item of disagreement into more important issues involved. The ultimate result of the controversy was that a proposition was put to the meeting to affirm its belief that:
“Knowledge is the basis of responsibility to God, and that enlightened rejecters are amenable to resurrection and judgment, and that those who teach otherwise to the disturbance of the church and are the cause of discord among us, bring themselves under Rom. 16:17, and in accordance with apostolic injunction, we withdraw from such.”
This proposition meant the exclusion from fellowship of those who did not hold that view (although it has been tolerated for forty years.) The proposition was lost, and those who agreed with it left this ecclesia and have been separated from us ever since.”
There is the division, brought about by those who forced the Responsibility Question as a test of fellowship, and it was not caused by Bro. Andrew.
“For some two years after this, the brethren meeting here received but little sympathy from other ecclesias. We had reason to believe that our position was misrepresented or not understood, and accordingly we issued a circular in 1896, detailing the important items upon which we believed the brethren generally were being led astray. This ecclesia had not, up to that time, 1896, required any formal expression from its members in relation to the matter of resurrectional responsibility. It was known that some did not hold a very pronounced opinion on this subject, and that others were uncertain, but all those who were left here leaned to the position advocated by J.J. Andrew. It was deemed advisable in 1896, when sending out our circular, to draw up a formal statement, and this constitutes our present basis. In forming this it was not the intention of its originators to exclude from our fellowship any of those brethren remaining with us since the division, who had not been able to make up their minds in reference to the question of resurrectional responsibility, the principal object being to exhibit in a clear way the important elements which we found had been assailed or neglected.”
In harmony with this attitude, Bro. J.J. Andrew, with the presiding brethren, declared in October, 1900, that:
“If it be recognized that Adam brought death upon the entire race by his sin, that baptism into Christ frees men from the permanent power of death, and that such of the baptized as die will rise through their relationship to Christ, but that it is possible God will raise some others, I should not think it a barrier to fellowship.”
Let me read one little item more which I have copied out of a circular that Bro. Andrew issued himself, because I think it will make the matter still clearer: “Sin and its Removal.” Page 8 – “My reasons for this difference,” says Bro. Roberts, “have been put forward with menace of fellowship.” The Christadelphian for 1894, page 477. Bro. J.J. Andrew replies, “This is not correct; I have never threatened disfellowship for belief in resurrection to a judgment of any in Adam, but for belief in such resurrection through the blood of Christ. When this was withdrawn, (resurrection of unbaptized Gentiles through the blood of Christ) I dropped the proposition, although resurrection out of Christ was not abandoned. Subsequently I said that I could not fellowship those who denied condemnation for Adam’s sin or its removal as a matter of alienation at baptism. But it is Bro. Roberts, and those believing with him who have taken or endorsed dis-fellowship action on resurrectional responsibility.”
Let the charge of making division on the responsibility question be placed where it belongs, and honor bright, fair play for every man, even in the world, to say nothing of those who are in covenant relationship with God.
Now where have we been from the beginning? Clear as can be is the “Declaration of First Principles” as it was at the beginning when it was published. Here it is:
“At the return of Jesus Christ from heaven to establish His kingdom on earth, He will first of all summon before Him for judgment the whole of His professing household. Those who are dead He will cause to come forth from the dust, and assemble them with the living into His presence. Faithful and unfaithful will be mustered together to the judgment-seat, for the purpose of rewarding the faithful with immortality, and consigning the unfaithful to corruption, after judgment.”
Upon that thousands of brethren and sisters have been immersed.
Silently and without any announcement, however, it has been changed this far: “That at the return of Jesus Christ from heaven to establish His kingdom in earth, He will first of all summon – the household? No; but now it is: ‘the whole of those who are responsible,’ to His judgment-seat.”
There is a charge that nobody was apprized of. There are changes going on, and if you read “Christendom Astray,” and not the changes therein as compared with “Twelve Lectures,” you will find contradiction after contradiction. These changes won’t allow the question to fit, and the book to harmonize, as when it came fresh from the pen of him who so ably wrote it.
This change, however, in the “Declaration” did not go far enough in the matter of “Those who are dead,” the responsible are defined; “He will cause to come forth from the dust and assemble with the living in His presence – The faithful and unfaithful will be mustered together before His judgment-seat, for the purpose of finding out from the account rendered who is worthy of being invested with immortality and a place in the kingdom, and who is to be consigned to a second death and corruption.”
That is how it was, and in harmony with that was our meeting point and fellowship. Then, as admitted by Bro. Roberts, rejecters who had not come under the law to Christ by belief and obedience, may be reserved till the close of the thousand years. He says:
“It does not seem reasonable that those who put away the counsel of God from themselves should be passed over without judgment, and yet since they do not become constituents of the household of faith, their resurrection at the time when account is taken of that household would seem inappropriate. May they not be dealt with at the end of the thousand years.” (Christendom Astray.)
In relation to that “may they not,” however, it was never dealt with as a first principle. Bro. Roberts did not consider it a first principle, for he says, “It is a pity to trouble yourself as to whether believing but disobedient Gentiles are amenable to resurrectional punishment or not. It is salvation an earnest man is after, it is this he will try to live for. If others will not obey the will of Christ, he need not be concerned as to the nature of their punishment.” (Christadelphian, 1882.) If we can come to the same meeting point now, we can be a happy band again.
Now in what I am going to say I won’t take time to turn to each portion of the scriptures, I know I am talking to those who will understand when I quote or refer to the scriptures. Going back to Eden, our first parents were pronounced very good. No condemnation then. They transgressed the law, condemnation came. Upon that the question with some is whether this condemnation or sentence that came upon them is a modification of the law, “Thou shalt surely die,” as Bro. J.J. Andrew says – and, by the way, I must call your attention to the matter of this “violent death,” for perhaps these matters have created a great deal of mist, and I had better take a little time to clear it away. Bro. J.J. Andrew believed that Adam’s penalty was violent death, and of course he has to take all the blame. But away back in The Christadelphian, for 1873, you have these words from the pen of Bro. Roberts. Speaking of the significance of the death of Christ: “The first significance is that death is the penalty of sin. Under the law blood shedding was typical of death, and it was typical of more than death, it was typical of a violent manner of death, for in natural death the blood is not shed. Christ came under both curses” (the law of Moses and the law of Eden, violent death in both cases) “and discharged them both by the shedding of His blood.”
What, a violent death away back there? Why certainly. He came under the first by birth, and the second in the act of crucifixion. Is not that violent death, death by blood shedding? I have never known anyone to enforce the doctrine of violent death for Adam as a test of fellowship, or as essential to salvation; but I look upon Christ, who, for the joy that was set before him, endured the cross. God required that kind of a death. I ask,
Why did God require that kind of death? To open a way for our escape from death; while our death is a slow death, the original as a violent one was represented in the death of the victims whose skins were provided for garments to cover the nakedness of our first parents. That would be imposing upon the victims a violent death, and leaving the slow death upon the race, which would be a modification of the sentence. Have you never read of God modifying His sentence? When Moses was on the mount, and he was informed that Israel had demanded of Aaron that he set up a golden calf to be worshipped, God declared, “I will blot them out of existence and raise up a nation out of thee.” There as God’s declaration in relation to them, and if Moses had not interposed, and that declaration had not been modified, they would have suffered violent death, but instead of suffering the violent death, Moses told them what they could do, and God spared them from violent death, and put upon them a punishment in a milder form. As soon as a sinner had sinned under the law, if God had not provided a sacrifice to be offered for him, hw would have been put to death. There was a modification of violent death all the way down the ages, so do not charge that upon Bro. J.J. Andrew, as though it was some new invention of his.
Going back to Eden we have the penalty of death made clear in the words, “Dust thou art and unto dust shalt thou return.” Paul, referring to that, says, “By one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin, and so death hath passed upon all men, in whom all have sinned.” I want to ask you a few questions to arouse a little thought. If God had left Adam and Eve under this sentence, “Dust thou art and unto dust shalt thou return,” and if a loving hand had never interposed in man’s belief, what would have been the result? A hundred times Bro. Robert’s answer is, and all who love and know the truth must answer, Down into oblivion mankind would have gone. No resurrection in that – “Dust thou art and unto dust shalt thou return.” The law of sin and death brought that, and we are all born under it, and if left there, down into the dust of death we should have gone without a hope of resurrection. I will ask you what was the requirement in that case? A gospel that would meet the requirement of man under the sentence, “Dust thou art and unto dust shalt thou return”? What is the first thing to be taken out of the way between yourself and eternal life, between yourself and the glorious kingdom in the future? What is the first thing that is needed in the law that shall deal with a man under that sentence, except resurrection from the dust? And I say resurrection from the dust in and of itself, irrespective of what it leads to. That must be a part of the gospel, and a doctrine therefore in the gospel. “Standing again” signifies a standing once before. Anastasis must mean that the man stood before, not in immortality, not in eternal life, and therefore anastasis means, so far as the philological aspect of the question is concerned, standing again as we stood before; and that is one thing that we contend for, against the doctrine of immortal emergence. Mortal emergence, a standing again. Adam under the sentence, and all his descendants, would never have stood again, would never had an anastasis, if God had not given another law as an antidote to the law of sin and death; therefore the gospel must contain a resurrection, a standing again, as the first thing necessary. The anastasis came by another law, the law of antidotes, the antithetic law to the law of sin and death, the law of the spirit of life, a law that will bring up to life again for good or for bad, for life or for death. One man, Adam, representing the one that goes down, the other, Christ, representing the one that comes up. “Thou wilt not leave my soul in sheol, neither wilt thou suffer thy holy one to see corruption.” What is the question involved in that beautiful portion of scripture? It was a question arising from a stubborn fact, that man had been consigned to dust and death, and now the question is, Shall souls come out of sheol? Seeing they have been consigned to go into sheol, shall they come out or shall they be left there? What would settle that? A gospel that would antidote the law of sin and death, the law of the spirit of life. But how? “Thou wilt not leave my soul in sheol, neither wilt thou suffer thy holy one to see corruption.” Why “holy one”? For four thousand long, dreary, dark years no man was found to “redeem his brother, nor give to God a ransom for him,” because every man going down to the grave went there a sinner, and he could not solve the question, Shall souls be left in sheol? A “holy one” must come, the strong arm of Jehovah stretched out in his well beloved Son, who was a man of sorrow and acquainted with grief, traveling wearily through the valley of the shadow of death, and who was the “holy one” who alone answered the question, Shall souls be left in sheol? And became the resurrection and the life, and ascended to the mountaintop of life and immortality, through His sacrificial death; a sacrifice under the everlasting covenant acceptable to God, because as a holy one he went down to sheol. If He had not come would souls have come out of sheol? Let Paul answer that. Death is an effect; there is no effect without a cause. The cause, one man; the effect, death. What is the antithesis of this? “By man came also the resurrection of the dead.” The second man was the cause of the resurrection. Some will say, That means He was the cause of eternal life. That is true, but Paul does not say that here, let us stick to the word, as we say to “orthodox” people when they say that means something else. Stick to the law and the testimony. “By man came death”; then man was the cause, death was the result. “By man came also the anastasis,” standing again; He was the cause , anastasis was the effect. If the first man had not come, the death would not have come. If the second had not come, the anastasis would not have come, unless you can have an effect without a case. Now if you were examining a candidate for baptism, you would want that candidate to understand the gospel. In talking to him about the gospel, would you not ask him if he believed in the resurrection? And if he believed in mortal resurrection? Yes. Well, then, you would ask him if be believed in anastasis in a mortal state, and that as a part of the gospel? Yes. Therefore that part is a part of the gospel, namely, mortal emergence. Now I will show you what I mean by that presently. The whole consists of parts; the whole is not the whole unless you have all the parts; part of the whole of the first principles is mortal resurrection, mortal emergence, or else why do you ask a candidate for baptism whether he believes it? Take the whole, the gospel, and call it the everlasting covenant. Paul says a covenant is in force after the death of the victim, but of no force while that which ratifies it is alive. The blood of the berith, the everlasting covenant or the covenant sacrifice, must be produced before the covenant can come into force. The everlasting covenant is of no force without the death of Christ, for He must shed the blood of the covenant to bring the covenant into force. If the whole of the covenant is in force, that part of it called resurrectional or anastasis is in force, and if Christ had not shed the blood of the everlasting covenant, the whole of the covenant would have been inoperative, ineffective, and therefore that part of it, mortal emergence or anastasis, would not have come into force, and souls would have been left in sheol, and we could not have said, “By man came also the resurrection of the dead.”
What is the extent that you go to, Paul? There were some in Corinth who were denying the resurrection of the dead, and Paul was going to prove the resurrection of the dead to them. Do you believe Christ died and was put into the tomb? Yes. They believed that when Christ was put into the tomb He was there and nowhere else, because they had not idea of an immortal soul. Now, says Paul, if I can prove to you that Christ was seen alive after that, I shall prove to you His anastasis. His standing again in life. “He was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve; after that he was seen of about five hundred at once, and last of all he was seen of me also.” What is the force of this? If Christ be not raised, if He has never been seen and is still in the tomb, then even those who have fallen asleep in Him would never be raised, to say nothing of those in Adam.
“I am the anastasis,” that first; and the zoe, eternal life, second. I am just as much the anastasis as I am the life. I am the one who brought mortal emergence for the just and unjust, as well as life for the one and death for the other, and therefore I am He that liveth and was dead, and behold I am alive for evermore, and have the key to open the jaws of death and the grave, and bring forth the just and the unjust for judgment, one for life and the other for death; and it took a “holy one,” and I am that holy one, and my holiness is the key; and if I had not been holy I should not have had the key. When I went down I took the key, my perfect obedience to the Father, which constituted me a holy one, and therefore “He would not leave my soul in hades, neither would he suffer his holy one to see corruption.”
Now the God of peace that brought again from the dead – that means brought again to eternal life, some will say. Stop and think. Was He in eternal life before? No. How could He be brought again to a thing He was not in before? He was brought out of the grave first, as well as to eternal life after, which was an additional thing. Could the God of peace according to His law of the spirit of life, which predicated bringing souls out of sheol upon the blood of Christ and the holiness of Christ, could He, according to that law, have brought again the Lord Jesus Christ from the dead if the Lord Jesus Christ had not been a holy one? No.
There have been cases of resurrection outside of this law, the same as miracles are outside of fixed law. The resurrection of the past were not predicated upon the law of the resurrection, for the Man had not come, the covenant was not confirmed yet, and therefore their resurrections are irrespective of the doctrine of the resurrection. And now is it not clear that “The God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus Christ,” will not only save men unto eternal life by the blood of the covenant, but He will bring them out of the grave – the first requisite to eternal life.
I want to call your attention to the fifth chapter of the gospel by John, verse 28: - “Marvel not, the hour is coming and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and they that hear shall live.” What does he mean? The hour is coming, and now is; what dead is He talking about? Not the dead in the graves. “If one died for all, then were all dead.” “You hath he quickened who were dead.” He came and found us all in that condition, which the Adamic sentence had brought upon the entire human family. “The dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God.” They had been hearing the prophets, the time had come for them to hear the Son. Then he adds, “Marvel not at this, for the hour is coming (not now is, a future thing) when all that are in the graves shall hear his voice and shall come forth.” There you have all. If the Savior had left the words there, if He had not qualified them, universal resurrection would have been taught. “All that are in the graves shall hear his voice and shall come forth.” You know in all our public discussions that text is used by the advocates of universal resurrection. It either means all universally, or all of a class. Which will you have? Not all universally. You will ask, All of what class? Had not He stated just before, “They that hear shall live;” by coming under the law of the spirit of life?
Supposing we believe it is all such He is talking about, He has then qualified it to start with, and He does not dream of referring to Gentiles, for the moment you step outside the “all” and apply the word to the Gentiles you will have to say all universally.
“All that are in the graves.” He qualifies that so as not to make it universal resurrection, and not to include some Gentiles outside the law of the spirit of life. He makes His words so clear, fortifies them that nothing should break through. All that are in the graves shall hear His voice. Who are they? “They that have done good unto a resurrection of life, and they that have done evil to a resurrection of damnation.” Done good or bad under what law? Under the law of the spirit of life, which is the law of God by which you will be tried at the judgment-seat; by which you will be tried as to your obedience or disobedience. All these will hear His voice and come forth, because they have either done good or evil under this law. Take it out of that and you spoil His argument entirely.
Now we have here placed before us resurrection in Christ and in Christ only. Well, let me qualify that. The phrase “in Christ” is a phrase that we could only use since the death of Christ, because it is since then that we have been baptized into the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit; previous to that we could not use the phrase “in Christ”; but I will tell you what we could use, and that is, “in covenant relationship.”
The covenant relationship that Israel was brought into brought them up unto a higher plane than Gentiles as Gentiles were ever brought to. They were always “afar off,” the Jews were “nigh.” “He came and preached peace to you that were afar off, and them that were nigh.” Gentiles and Jews. The Jews were worshippers in His temple, nigh to Him. Our Lord went into the temple, kept the Passover under the law. Did that bring them under the law of the spirit of life? No. But it was a means whereby they might learn the law of the spirit of life, and they passed from one to the other under Moses without a special ceremony.
They were brought into a covenant as a nation, and they who learnt the law of the spirit of life through the clearer knowledge in the law, were brought up into the higher altitude, or into the covenant relationship with God, and amenable to the judgment-seat in the future, and therefore when Christ came to them He came to “His own,” and when He brought the light to them they rejected it, and were responsible, and no doubt some of them will appear before the judgment-seat of Christ; but most of them, speaking of them as a nation, were in ignorance and not enlightened, and so far as that is concerned our brethren now who are talking on the other side are claiming Dr. Thomas on the other side, that Dr. Thomas applied that portion of scripture to the destruction of Jerusalem, the “last days,” as he said, apply to the last days of the Jewish Commonwealth, “latter days” apply to the end of Gentile times; last days to the end of the Mosaic economy. And therefore: “My word shall judge you in these last days.” Not “latter days,” but the last days of the Jewish economy, where those who rejected Christ, as a nation, were judged in the fearful judgment which came upon them. Some take that text as though it settled the whole question. It applied to those who stood in a very different position to those who are “without Christ,” without God and without the covenant.
What about those other cases of resurrection? We have cases of resurrection in the Old Testament scriptures. “Their dead were received to life again.” They are facts, we can read of them. Those cases of resurrection are not predicated upon any particular law; God works in different ways. First by a fixed law, secondly, in relation to men generally by His arbitrary right, His prerogative. Incidental, exceptional cases of resurrections in the past come under the latter heading, and resurrections in the future may take place under the same heading. Resurrections in the past in those cases did not come within the scope of the resurrection and the judgment, they did not come within the scope of the law of the spirit of life, the gospel, the everlasting covenant; and with regard to possible resurrections in the future, as a “third class,” outside of the law of the resurrection, let all admit the possibility of it as a matter of God’s prerogative, and taking our stand there, we shall have a point upon which we can agree. And I will say to you tonight, as I did to Sister Roberts and Bro. Walker, “Admit the inappropriateness of the Gentiles coming with the household, who are not of the household, and not in covenant relationship, and we will admit with you the “maybe.” And surely a maybe is not a thing to quarrel about, is it? Certainly not.
There is our meeting point, and that is where we ought to have remained at the time when this controversy arose. And why did we not stand there? I will tell you. The reason we are not there now is because of this, the Statement of Faith has been tampered with, and here is the ridiculous form in which it is presented to you and me today from Birmingham:
“That at the appearing of Christ, prior to the establishment of the kingdom, the responsible, those who know the revealed will of God (alien rejectors are meant here), and have been called upon to submit to it, dead and living, obedient and disobedient, (alien rejectors included, obedient and disobedient alien rejectors) will be summoned before the judgment-seat of Christ to be judged according to their works, (alien rejectors as well as saints) and receive in body according to their works, whether good or bad.” Alien rejectors as well as saints to be judged for good as well as bad!!
That is the absurdity, as an “amendment,” of our Statement of Faith. There is not one of you who believe that, neither do I think the men who invented it believe it. But why was it so patched, why was such an absurdity offered to us? Because it would not do to change the whole Statement of Faith, because that would appear as retrogression; so the absurd words were woven in, and this “amendment” of the Statement of Faith, including alien rejectors to be judged with the household for good and bad, is put over the same portions of scripture as the old statement, and the old statement was put over such statements as:
“We must all appear before the judgment-seat of Christ to receive in body according to that which we have done, whether good or bad,” which no man upon the face of the earth, who know anything about the Bible, could apply to any except those who are upon probation. We hope that ridiculous form will be blotted into oblivion; it is a manifestation of foolishness and contradiction, and the sooner the better all get back to the simplicity of the old Statement of Faith along with Bro. Roberts’s declaration, “It is inappropriate that they should be raised with the household.”
[And the NASU wants us of the Unamended community to accept the BASF as “representing a true and common definition of the One Faith”? (NASU, p. 6) And also wishes us to concede that world-wide inter-ecclessial fellowship will continue to be based upon the BASF? Considering the “absurdity” of the Amendment that characterizes the BASF would not the BUSF then be the only appropriate and acceptable basis for unity? ] - A. Thomas
Now I am going to touch upon a delicate point. Do you not think that there has been a pressure brought to bear other than scripture and reason? Do you not think that the paper known as The Christadelphian had come to be a powerful paper? Had gained prestige that I believe with you it thoroughly deserved for the grand work it had done for many long and trying years, in so many battles that Bro. Roberts and fought, nor forgetting the help that he received of poor Bro. Andrew? Who has elaborated the Truth and helped Bro. Roberts more than Bro. Andrew?
Coming back to the question; as long as that paper was kept in the hands of Bro. Roberts before this new departure took place, it deserved all the power and prestige it had. When he wrote his reply, not to “The Blood of the Covenant” as some suppose, but to a manuscript that was never printed, he seems to have fallen into the extreme some have now become the victims of. But when he got away into the seclusion of a foreign land, resting from the turmoils and troubles through which the poor brother had past by the mistakes that he had made in common matters, looking out over the deep waters of the mighty ocean, here came his words almost immediately before he breathed his last, saying in substance, “I can never refuse fellowship to noble brethren of long standing because they cannot see exactly with me upon this subject, especially in view of the fact that things are different now from what they were in the first century, when miracles were performed”
Pressure commenced to be brought to bear after his death. If you do not subscribe, and it is not very important whether you subscribe or not, and do not you know, brethren and sisters, owing to the mixed up circumstances, that there are many today who no more believe in that “amended” Statement of Faith than I do, who are in fellowship with those who have drawn it up? Just so, you keep quiet, and that which is regarded as a first principle can be compromised a thousand times over.
I know and you know that that paper has inherited a power and prestige once deserved but now abused, a power that is not used not as it was before, and so the pressure is, if you do not sign or admit what we present to you as an “amended” statement, you intelligence shall not appear. They won’t let you participate with them and they will not with you, in the work of the truth; “and if you do not meet our demands we will not send you lecturers.” And I hope you will pardon me for being plain, but I fear that there have been many brethren who in considering this question have stopped and asked, How will it be with Birmingham? Let Birmingham, let the paper, let every paper upon the face of the earth sink into oblivion, and let the truth be paramount and triumphant, do what is right, and fear no man. Shall I, because a paper won’t let me appear with my intelligence, sever my fellowship from those loved ones with whom I have mingled from my infancy in the truth? Shall I sever my heart from their hearts because of such things as these? Here you have about 500 brethren in Yorkshire alone; what a happy band you could be. Do you depend upon any paper? Could you not be a happy people although all the earth shut you off? Then rally to the standard, the old standard. Allow the truth in relation to the doctrine of the resurrection, admit the possibility of future resurrections as in the past; there is our meeting point as it was in years past, and until you revert to that you will be crippled, shackled hand and foot, and disabled from showing the truth to the hundreds around you. Come back again to the “old paths,” and thus enabled to go on with the grand work which it is your privilege to do for those by whom you are surrounded. Have the courage of your convictions, fearing not the frowns of men and courting not their smiles; but fearing Him only in whose hands is held your eternal destiny.