WHAT OUGHT TO BE DONE AT THIS CRISIS
Written in 1849 shortly after being re-immersed, Dr John Thomas addressed others who were finding out for themselves that their existing associations with the reform movement in Britain and America were inadequate. If there was a crisis over 150 years ago can it be said that the political and ecclesiastical stage has greatly improved with the passing of time? Israel is back in her ancient homeland, Russia dominates the North, the Papal False Prophet continues to deceive, all signs that the following advice can still be taken to heart today in this 21st century, as the Apostles’ Fellowship is surely worth striving after. Only by going back to the source can any be sure of building upon a firm foundation.
In the following article, Brother Thomas sets forth the steps by which a Bible Student may come to a correct understanding of the Scriptures, and particularly as relating to Bible prophecy
A FEW FIRST PRINCIPLES
1. “The just shall live by faith” (Hab. 1:4, Rom. 1:16,17).
2. “Without faith it is impossible to please God” (Heb. 11:6).
3. “Faith comes by hearing the Word of God” (Rom.10:17)
4. “Faith works by love, and purifies the heart” (Acts 15:9, Gal 5:6)
5. “The One Faith” is “the assured expectation of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Heb. 11:1, Eph: 4:5)
6. These things are “the things concerning the KINGDOM of God, and the NAME of Jesus Christ” (Acts 8:12)
7. “All are the children of God in Christ Jesus through the faith. FOR as many as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ; and IF Christ’s then Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise” (Gal. 3:26-29).
8. Such “will be presented holy and unblameable and unreprovable in his sight, IF they continue in the faith grounded and settled, and not moved away from the HOPE of the GOSPEL which was preached (by the Apostles) to every creature which is under heaven (Col 1:22,23): and “patiently continuing in well-doing” and so seeking for glory, honour, and immortality” (Rom. 2:7)
9. “Behold what great love the Father hath bestowed upon” such “that they should be called the Sons of God.” They are even “now,” in this present state of existence, “the Sons of God: and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when Christ shall appear, THEY SHALL BE LIKE HIM; for they shall see him as he is. And every man at hath this hope in him purifies himself, even as Christ is pure” (1 John 3:1-3), Hence
A BIBLE CHRISTIAN
is one, who understandingly believes “the things concerning the Kingdom of God and the Name of Jesus Christ,” with the humble, affectionate and obedient disposition of a little child; is “immersed into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit”; and henceforth walks in “denial of the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life, in hope of the gift to be brought to him at the glorious appearing of Jesus Christ in his kingdom.”
OF AN ASSOCIATION OF BIBLE CHRISTIANS
The duty and privilege of an association of such Christians is:
2. To advance from the principles of the doctrine of Christ and go on to perfection (Heb.6:1), “Pressing toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil.3:14), “And so making itself ready for the festival of its union with the Lord” (Rev. 19:7-8).
3. To “earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered to the saints” (Jude 3); and to “make known unto the principalities and powers in high places the manifold wisdom of God” (Eph. 3:10).
HOW THE SCRIPTURES MAY BE SUCCESSFULLY SEARCHED AND WITH FACILITY
The following course of reading will very much conduce to a systematic comprehension of the Apostles’ doctrine.
I. Read attentively the family history of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, taking especial note of THE PROMISES made to these fathers; such as:-
a. The making of A GREAT NATION of their descendants through whom all the Nations of the earth shall be blessed (Gen.12:2,3; 17:4-7; 18:18; 22:17-18; 26:4; 28:14).
b. The manifestation of A GREAT RULER in the midst of the said nation, who with it and them, should possess the land in which these fathers tended their flocks and herds (Gen.12:7; 13:14-17; 17:8; 26:3; 28:13-15; 35:12).
c. The Confirmation of this EVERLASTING COVENANT, by which the promises were ratified to Abraham’s satisfaction, 430 years before his descendants arrived at Mount Horeb under Moses (Gen. 15:7-21).
d. Observe that Isaac becomes the allegorical representative of the Shiloh of Israel in the substitutionary sacrifice and figurative resurrection detailed in Gen. 22. Jacob refers to Shiloh’s death by Levi (Gen.49:6). In verse 10, he foretells his dominion over the world. Hence the faith of Abraham consisted in these particulars.
1. That his descendants in the line of Isaac, Jacob and his 12 sons, would become a great and mighty nation;
2. That when this should be accomplished in the full sense of the promise, they, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, would be living witnesses of it;
3. That at the time indicated in No. 2, they and their nation would be in actual possession of the land of Israel from the Euphrates to the Nile;
4. That there should be a great and powerful ruler, or king, arise out of the nation, whom they styled SHILOH, or the giver of peace;
5. That he should be “Heir of all things,” of the nation, the land, and the dominion of the world.
6. That he would descend in the line of Judah;
7. That He would be slain; but, on the third day (Gen. 22:4), from the sentence passed upon him, be raised from the dead in the land of Moreh, as prefigured in the case of Isaac;
8. That he would be slain by the descendants of Levi; therefore, exclaimed Jacob, “O my soul come not thou into their secret; but unto their assembly, mine honour be not thou united!” and,
9. That Faith, or a full persuasion, that what God promised He would perform, would be counted for righteousness to all to whom Abraham became the father; and that to realise the hope of righteousness, the righteous must rise from the dead.
Such was the faith and hope of the Gospel believed from Abraham to Moses (Gal. 3:8); but which that generation of the Israelites did not believe whose carcases fell in the wilderness of the land of Egypt; and on account of which faithlessness, “Yahweh hath sworn in his wrath, that they shall not enter into his rest.” These things appeared so improbable, that those who believed them were esteemed by their contemporaries as worthy of reproach. This was styled “THE REPROACH CONCERNING THE CHRIST,” to which was and is attached, “the recompense of the reward”; on account of “the Christ,” Moses refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, and cast in his lot with a nation of slaves. Let us therefore also go forth unto him bearing his reproach.
II. Having acquired an understanding of the promises made to the fathers, become acquainted with the history of their descendants.
1. In their deliverance from Egypt: Exod. 1 to 14.
2. In their organisation as a body during the forty years in the wilderness: Exod. 15 to Deut. 34.
3. In their conquest and settlement of Canaan: Josh. 1 to 24.
4. Under judges for life: Judges to 1 Sam.10.
5. As a united nation under kings: 1 Sam. 11 to I Kings 12:15
6. As two separate nations and kingdoms – the one under the house of David: the other under Jeroboam, the son of Nebat; 1 Kings 12:16 to 2 Chron. 36.
7. As to the overthrow of the Ten Tribes by the Assyrian, 390 years after their revolt from the house of David, and in the sixth year of Hezekiah: 2 Kings 17:5 to 18:12. Here it should be noted, that the Ten Tribes have been in dispersion ever since. Hence, all prophecies relating to their restoration and future glory remain to be fulfilled.
8. As to the subversion of the kingdom of the Two Tribes under the house of David: 2 Kings 24:10 & 25; Jer.39.
a. In relation to the captivity of Jehoiachin, etc., in the eighth year of Nebuchadnezzar.
b. In regard to the destruction of Jerusalem, etc., in the 19th year of his reign.
The history of these two kingdoms should be well understood, or great mistakes will be made in the interpretation of the prophets.
It should also be remarked that David’s kingdom and his throne have never been restored since the overthrow by the Chaldeans: but numerous prophecies declare that they shall be in more than their former glory when Solomon occupied them. Therefore, this remarkable event remains to be fulfilled.
a. From Jehoiachin’s captivity to the destruction of the city: Ezekiel 1 to 24.
b. From the same to the overthrow of Babylon: Daniel.
a. A seed to David, who would be the sovereign of a kingdom.
b. That he should build a temple for Yahweh (Zech. 6:12, 13,15);
c. That his throne should be everlasting;
d. That he should be Son of God as well as Son of David;
e. That he should suffer for the iniquity of men, but mercy should not forsake him;
f. That David’s house, throne, and kingdom should be established for ever before him, i.e. he should be a living witness of its perpetuity;
g. That therefore he should rise from his sleep with his fathers, and live forever.
David styled this “THE LAW OF THE ADAM,” which related to his house for a great while to come. In his last words (2 Sam 23:3) he informs us that God spake to him about this personage, laying down this general principle in relation to the kingdom he had promised, namely that “he that ruleth over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God.”
But, that the members of his house were not of this character, yet, that God “had made with him an EVERLASTING COVENANT, ordered in all things and sure,” and that such a character would arise out of his family to “rule the world in righteousness.” Therefore, said he, this Covenant “is all my salvation, all my desire,” although appearances at present do not indicate its accomplishment. Read Psa. 89; 132:2-18; Acts 2:25-31.
“And the Lord shall be King OVER ALL THE EARTH, in that day shall there be one Lord, and his Name one” (Zech. 14:9).
Where, then, will be the thrones, principalities, and the dominions which now oppress the world, sitting as a nightmare upon the nations, and binding them in the fetters of ignorance, superstition, and political chicanery? A resounding joyous shout, as the roar of a multitude of waters, will reverberate through the heavens, saying “destroyed, abolished, gone for ever, to be found no more at all!” Then will come a reign of peace, and righteousness and wisdom and knowledge will become the stability of the times, when the nations will glory in their King, in whom they will be blessed and free. The glorified Saints will possess the dominion of the world (Dan. 7:14, 18, 27; Rev. 5:9, 10).
III. To advance still further in the Apostles’ doctrine, such an association as that before us must proceed to the investigation of the plain and unsymbolical prophecies, such as the Psalms, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Micah, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi.
Their contents maybe arranged as to generals under the following heads; namely:
1. The calamities predetermined upon the two nations of Israel;
2. The restoration of the house of Judah from the Chaldean captivity – Haggai;
3. The restoration from its present dispersion;
4. The bringing back of the ten tribes and reunion of all Israelites into the one kingdom and nation in the land of Israel;
5. The glory, power and blessedness of the Israelitish nation during one thousand years, during which all other nations will rejoice in Israel’s king;
6. The rebirth, life, sufferings, moral, sacrificial and pontifical character, etc. of the king of Israel;
7. His resurrection and ascension to heaven, there to remain a limited time;
8. His return and subsequent glorious and triumphant reign on the throne of his father David, from the time of the restoration of God’s kingdom again to Israel until “there shall be no more death” – “he shall be a priest upon his throne,” “after the order of Melchizedec” (Zech. 6, Psa. 110:4).
IV. These things being understood, the personal testimony of the Apostles, evidential of the rightful claims of Jesus to the Messiahship, or regal, imperial, and pontifical sovereignty over Israel and the world, may be next proceeded with.
This testimony is contained in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John’s writings. They were written that men “might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing they might have life through his Name.” They show:-
1. That Jesus is the hereditary descendant of David, in whom is vested the sole right to his kingdom and crown.
2. That he is the acknowledged Son of God by paternity of first birth; and by being born again of his spirit from the dead;
3. That he possessed two natures: first, that of mortal flesh; secondly, that of his present one, which is holy, spiritual flesh – “the Lord , the Spirit”;
4. That without the shedding of blood there can be no remission of sins (Heb.9:22);
5. That the blood of animals cannot take away sins (Heb.10:4);
6. That for a sin offering to be an efficient atonement it must not only be slain, but made alive again; which constitutes it a living sacrifice;
7. That Jesus was such a sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, and without blemish – that is, “without sin” (Heb. 4:15).
8. That the blood of Jesus is “the blood of the New Institution, shed for many, for the remission of sins” (Matt. 26:28);
9. That he rose from the dead: and ascended to the right hand of the Majesty in the heavens and that he will return in like manner as he departed, and to the same place;
10. The attributes of Jesus constitute his NAME;
11. That through this name, repentance, remission of sins, and eternal life, are offered to all intelligent believers of childlike disposition;
12. That if men would receive the benefits of the Name, they must believe in it, and put it on.
13. That this Name is inseparably connected with the institution of immersion – so that if a believer of the Gospel would put it on, he must be immersed into the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38; 10:44-48);
14. That the Gospel is the glad tidings of the kingdom in the name of Jesus; if therefore a man would be saved, he must believe this gospel and obey it (Mark 16:15-16);
15. That if an angel preach any other gospel that this he is accursed (Gal 1:8-9);
16. That all who obey not this gospel shall be punished (2 Thess. 1:7-10);
17. That it is the law by which man shall be judged (Rom. 2:12-16);
18. That the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God (1 Cor.6:9-11);
This outline of the Apostles’ Doctrine may be still further condensed into these four propositions:
1. That when the Christ should make his first appearance in the world he should appear as an afflicted man;
2. That having drunk the cup of bitterness to the dregs, he should rise from the dead;
3. That Jesus of Nazareth was he; and
4. That there is no other name given among men whereby they can be saved (Acts 17:3, 4:12);
V. To understand what genuine Christianity is, in its associational and individual relations, men must make themselves thoroughly acquainted with the Acts of the Apostles.
It contains an illustration of the manner and order in which they executed the commands of Jesus. A christianity in doctrine, spirit, and practice will be found in the little tract written by Luke, such as the present generation of the human family hath no conception of. It narrates also the concise history of the establishment of the religion of Christ in the Roman Empire.
From these and the Acts may be learned the origin of that GREAT APOSTACY from primitive Christianity which constitutes the superstition of Europe and America and styled by the Apostle “a Strong Delusion.” Its elements are termed by Paul “The Mystery of Iniquity,” which were secretly at work in his time; but openly from that of Constantine until they brought Europe to what we find it in all its mischievous and debasing forms of impiety and spiritual absurdity. In its beginning, this mystery of iniquity was concocted out of:-
1. A combination of Judaism with Christianity (Acts 15:1-5);
a. Teaching that the immersed believers must also be circumcised;
b. Thereby showing that “baptism in the room of circumcision” was not thought of in the apostolic age.
2. A further combination of Gentileism with this Judaized Christianity; from which resulted a compound of the three – a fourth something unlike either of its constituents.
VII. Lastly, we may proceed to the investigation of the symbolic prophecies, such as those of Daniel and the Apocalypse.
To master these, the inquirer must acquaint himself with:-
2. The things revealed in it;
3. The history of Assyria, Persia, Macedon, Rome and Modern Europe, from the extinction of the Western Empire to the date of this document;
4. The right interpretation of these prophecies by persons versed in items 1,2,3, depends
a. Upon their freedom from all dogmatic-theological bias;
b. Upon their having their senses exercised by reason of use (Heb. 5:14);
c. Upon their skilfulness in the word of righteousness.
5. THE APOSTLES’ FELLOWSHIP
To have fellowship with the Father and his Son Jesus Christ, men must have fellowship with the Apostles. This is accomplished only by believing and doing the truth promulgated by them. This is styled “walking in the light as God is in the light, by which we have fellowship one with another” (I John 1:3-7). A man might be in approved fellowship with all “Christendom,” papal and protestant, church and dissenters, and yet have no fellowship with God; “for if we say we have fellowship with him, and walk in the darkness (ignorance) we lie, and do not the truth.” Hence Papalism, and Protestantism are a great lie; mere antagonistic evils claiming fellowship with God, while they are mantled in the darkness of human tradition, and pervert and persecute the truth.
“THE LAMB’S WIFE”
Which is called upon to prepare herself for the approaching consummation (Rev. 16:15; 19:7-8).
She must be “sanctified and cleansed in the laver of the water by the word,” that she may be “holy and without “blemish.” Such a body must “edify itself in love” (Eph.4:16); and meet every Lord’s day to commemorate his death and resurrection, to show forth the praises of God, to make their united requests known to Him through Jesus Christ, to proclaim His goodness to the children of men, and to convince them of the judgment which has come upon the world at last.
All of which is benevolently submitted to the public, by Dr John Thomas