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Last Updated on : October 11, 2014

"A NEW VERSION OF THE QUESTION: " WHO ARE THE CHRISTADELPHIANS?"

 

(Bro.  Edwards quotes many passages from the Scriptures to express his belief of just who the Christadelphians are.  Count them.  Bro.  Roberts offers no direct Scriptural proof (save to say, " Many are called, but few are chosen"), but his brief replies to Bro.  Edwards are loaded with a deep Scriptural understanding of Yahweh's Word, and just who the Christadelphians really are.) Brother Robert' comments are in green and underlined, my comments are in blue. You can read the original article without commentary by clicking here 


 

(The Christadelphian, 1891, page 17-20).
"A New Version of the Question: "Who Are The Christadelphians?"   by Lemuel Edwards

 

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 (true, says Bro. Roberts). 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 (Bro. Roberts agrees). It is therefore a high, holy, and heavenly calling. (absolutely, says Bro. Roberts).

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 (Bro. Roberts agrees ). The one baptism in water, with the one faith in the blood of Christ, cleanses and unites all such, to his name (definitely, exclaims Bro. Roberts). 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 (the new man baptized into Christ) rise again to walk in newness of life, as new creatures in Christ (no argument here from Bro. Roberts).

Thus united they are saints, not sinners (this theme, "saints, not sinners," is partly the basis for Bro. Edwards' article. His says below in the section entitled, "Application," "This duty [the duty being Bro. Edwards' 'lengthy collation of Bible sayings,' such as the ones just mentioned concerning the 'duty' of union with Christ] 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?" Bro. Edwards was not happy with most of the answers he received, as we shall see), 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." (True, but not all within an ecclesia are faithful, however, all within an ecclesia are "Called out" by Yahweh; a few are faithful saints, most are not. "Many are called, few are chosen." Nevertheless, both classes of saints constitute a present day ecclesia, but only the faithful constitute the Ecclesia of the future Age. This is Bro. Roberts' belief.)

Therefore they are Christadelphians , and these alone ("the sanctified brethren," a.k.a. the faithful) can constitute the ecclesia ("wait a minute," declares Bro. Roberts. The present day ecclesias are composed of the faithful and the unfaithful mixed together, and both classes [faithful and unfaithful] presently constitute "the saints." Many "saints," who form the current day "temple" of Yahweh ["individual" ecclesias in a "mixed state"], are represented by the "wood, hay, stubble" [unfaithful] of 1 Cor. 3:12, while a few "saints" are represented by the "gold, silver, precious stones" [faithful] in this verse. The temple Yahweh is building will not be completed until a fire [Judgment Seat of Christ] burns the "wood, hay, stubble" of the "individual" ecclesias off the edifice. The temple of Yahweh at this time is then composed of only "gold, silver, precious stones," and enters a new phase of construction, known by Bro. Roberts as the "corporate" state [relating to or involving a group as a whole; in other words, the many ecclesias {group} constructed of "gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, and stubble" during its early construction period, will become a "corporate," whole, single Ecclesia, composed solely of "gold, silver, precious stones". Both of these elements, 1] "gold, silver, precious stones," the faithful; and 2] "wood, hay, stubble," the unfaithful, form ecclesias during their "individual," probationary period, and will so remain until the next phase of construction begins with the return of Christ. Bro. Roberts continues later in this article with these words, which are now applicable to Bro. Edwards' last sentence: "The apparent difficulty arises from confounding the individual [individual, but multiple ecclesias consisting of the faithful and unfaithful during the days of probation, DD] and corporate [the single, immortalized Ecclesia consisting of the faithful only, andestablished by Christ after the Resurrection and Judgment are completed, DD] application of these things. The professing body of Christ has ever been a mixed body ["gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble," DD] in which perfection was impossiblethere was even a Judas among the twelve. But the individuals [in an "individual state," aka "mixed state," DD] who are to compose the glorified body of Christ [the "corporate state," aka "the unmixed state," DD] are always characterised by the spirit of Christ [aka "the faithful," DD], without which they are none of his.Editor. In this last sentence of Bro. Edwards', he just did what Bro. Roberts claims; he just confounded the individual, mortal, multiple ecclesias in the days of their probation, with the single, immortalized, corporate Ecclesia. Bro. Edwards applies verses that relate to the corporate Ecclesia of the future [which subsequently reveal its "unmixed" membership of the faithful only after Christ's return], to the individual, mortal ecclesias, which in reality, are presently composed of the faithful and unfaithful saints in a "mixed state." According to Bro. Roberts, Bro. Edwards is incorrect when he states, "Therefore they [according to Bro. Edwards, "they" refersto the "sanctified saints"] are Christadelphians , and these ["sanctified saints" and not "sinners"] alone can constitute the [probationary] ecclesia" "Bro. Edwards, you have just confused the individual with the corporate state of the ecclesias/Ecclesia," says Bro. Roberts. "Be careful," continues Bro. Roberts, "if the two states are confused with one another, the supposed faithful, who wrongfully believe an unmixed state consisting of only the sanctified saints can now be attained during the individual ecclesial state, invariably will unjustly withdraw fellowship from supposed 'sinners,' which only Christ is able to discern. This He will do when His Judgment Seat is instated, and not before; and He has definitely not empowered anyone else in His place during the individual, mixed state phase of the ecclesias. Confusing the two states will incorrectly cause some to believe otherwise") which is His body, the Church of the Living God, the pillar and ground of the truth. In this body (an ecclesia) there are no personalities except in the person of Christ ("wrong," cries Bro. Roberts. "You have confused the two states once again. The 'wood, hay, stubble' of the individual ecclesias have fleshly personalities," declares Bro. Roberts. "The 'gold, silver, precious stones' are always characterised by the spirit of Christ," proclaims Bro. Roberts). God is no respector of persons (persons with fleshly personalities). 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 (incorrect; all four of the individual ecclesias were in a "mixed state," says Bro. Roberts), 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 ("true," says Bro. Roberts, "but this 'purity and unity of the individual ecclesias' cannot be now obtained by withdrawing from the unfaithful, leaving only the faithful within the ecclesias. In the state we are presently in, we may only withdraw from manifested sin, while recognizing that even those we withdraw from may be among the faithful at Christ's Judgment Seat' if they had Scripturally repented of their sins prior to Judgment. We all sin, however some obey Christ and their sins are hidden by Him, while others disobey Him, and with these, He does not cover their sins. We cannot distinguish the faithful from the unfaithful while in our current mixed state, because we all sin. This being so, how is it possible to maintain a pure ecclesia, meaning one that has all of the unfaithful excluded," asks Bro. Roberts? An ecclesia is scripturally pure when it correctly deals with manifested sins for the sake of the ecclesia, as well as for the sake of the sinner. Whether the sinning saint is faithful or not, will not be determined until Christ reviews the case. If the wrongdoer receives correction from Yahweh, then he is a son or daughter. We cannot tell; only Christ knows). 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." (These verses do not prove that an unmixed state is now obtainable, which is the way Bro. Edwards is reading them. "Not all who comprise the individual, temple phase of the individual ecclesias will obey," counters Bro. Roberts. "Hence, the true and current, mixed state the ecclesias are in; and no amount of overzealous withdrawal, by those who do not characterize Christ, by the way, will alter this mixed state," continues Bro. Roberts.)

I stop a moment to ask:Is this (1 Cor. 12) a pattern of the ecclesia which is to be constructed before the Judgment ("in an unmixed, faithful only, ecclesia prior to Christ's return" is Bro. Edwards' meaning) , or shall we look for it after, as some suppose (Bro. Roberts is one who supposes the ecclesias are not constructed of the faithful only, until after the Judgment)? 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." (Bro. Edwards misapplies these verses to maintain that current day ecclesias can achieve a "faithful only" status, and indeed, MUST! Profuse and continuing withdrawal characterizes such wayward individuals and ecclesias, which is Bro. Roberts' grave concern throughout this article. Ecclesias in the individual, present, mixed state of faithful and unfaithful, cannot now achieve an unmixed state of the faithful alone. This work belongs to Him alone who is qualified for this work, namely, Christ. However, individuals who believe it is a state that must now exist, due to their misapplication of Scriptural verses, must wrongfully execute the same means now as Christ will use in the future to establish this unmixed state; namely, withdrawal from the unfaithful. How else do you suppose the unmixed state may now be established by members other than Christ? Through withdrawal; that's the only conceivable means. "Impossible," Bro. Roberts asserts! "Disastrous!" That's what I'm worried about," exclaims Bro. Roberts. This will destroy Brothers and Sisters in Christ, and not establish pure, unmixed ecclesias consisting solely of the gold, silver, and precious stones. It will establish for a short time at best, human thinking's ideas of who the faithful and unfaithful are. Christ will undo all of this at His Tribunal, and until then we may withdraw from manifested sin only, when rebellion accompanies it, of course .)

Many modern Christadelphians (including Bros. Thomas and Roberts, and now myself) say that this perfection (an ecclesia prior to the Judgment consisting of only the faithful in an unmixed state of perfection via withdrawal) is not attainable until after the resurrection and judgment ("correct," Bro. Roberts insists) , and some are driven to say that there is no Church of Christ on earth ("no ecclesia of Christ with only faithful members presently on the earth,", is what Bro. Edwards means), as the Bible describes it (Bro. Edwards is presenting all of the above verses to describe current, mixed ecclesias, as if through their own efforts an unmixed state can be accomplished. What their own efforts consists of is obvious to Bro. Roberts; namely, withholding fellowship from the unfaithful, aka withdrawal. We are not qualified to perform this duty of Christ. We cannot and do not know who the faithful and unfaithful are); and I have often heard the remark that it is impossible to get a perfect church (aka an unmixed ecclesia consisting of the faithful only) in this mixed state of good and evil. ('Tis even so, brother; else where is such a body.Editor. (Bro. Roberts here identifies himself as one who is opposed to the usage of the above verses to advocate and maintain a pure and unmixed state [meaning faithful only members, like that of the future Ecclesia] within individual ecclesias. Later, in his reply to Bro. Roberts, Bro. Edwards attempts to answer this very question posed by Bro. Roberts ["else where is such a body?"] and responds, "Why, the Birmingham ecclesia, of course," in so many words; and Bro. Roberts asserts that "distance lends enchantment to the view," that is, enchantment to Bro. Edwards' distant view of the Birmingham ecclesia. Lord Willing, we shall consider soon Bro. Edwards' answer and Bro. Roberts' reply as well.)) 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?" (Bro. Edwards continues in his misapplication of these verses, and applies the condition of the future "corporate Ecclesia [unmixed, faithful only state]" to the present day "individual" ecclesias [mixed, faithful and unfaithful state]. To better illustrate what is transpiring between these men, please consider this: both men utilize the same scriptural verses, which condense into this; "Brothers of Christ obey His commandments." From this Bro. Edwards assumes only those who obey Christ are members of the ecclesias, and all others have no membership within it, and in fact, the ecclesia of faithful members must withdraw from the unfaithful, if the ecclesia is to continue in an unmixed, faithful state. This point will become exceedingly clear in Bro. Edwards' later comments, recorded in his reply to Bro. Roberts' comments contained within this article.) And why should Paul tell the Hebrews to leave the principles of the doctrine of Christ, and go on to perfection? (Because Paul is appealing to individuals within individual ecclesias, who are in a mixed state, and they may become faithful or unfaithful, depending on how they react to Paul's requests for faithfulness to Yahweh. This verse does not proof that ecclesias in a mixed state may attain to an unmixed state, because Paul pleas for perfection within them. On the contrary, believing an unmixed state is now obtainable will unvaryingly lead to withholding fellowship from Brothers of Christ, whose development may be destroyed by unjust withdrawal. As we shall see, this is Bro. Roberts' sole concern.) 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 (misapplied by Bro. Edwards to maintain that ecclesias can presently consist of the faithful alone); that henceforth we be no more tossed to and fro and carried about by every wind of doctrine? (misapplied)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? (Again, misapplied.)(Remember that jots and tittles are important). (I believe Bro. Edwards is inferring that faithful saints in a pure ecclesia consisting of the faithful only, will obey the smallest command.) 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.) (The "all" Bro. Roberts is speaking of are the unfaithful, the "wood, hay, and stubble," from which present day ecclesias are partly constructed ; but these are not the sole structure of an ecclesia. The faithful of an ecclesia will be perfected ["the gold, silver, precious stones"]. The unfaithful of an ecclesia will not be perfected, and they represent the greater part of the structures of present day ecclesias. So it was in the days of the Apostles, when all of Asia turned away from Paul.) 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. (As we can see, Bro. Roberts knows that the unfaithful are not excluded from the faithful until after the Judgment Seat of Christ is completed. Both the faithful and unfaithful are members of ecclesias during their "individual ecclesias," mixed phase; but only the faithful are members within the "corporate," unmixed Ecclesial phase.)) 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 unrighteousnesslight with darknessChrist with Belialor he that believeth with an infidelor 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. (Bro. Edwards quotes all of these verses to prove ecclesias must now become perfect and pure, which Bro. Roberts opposes. The best we are able to perform now, is to keep ourselves separated from manifested sin, no more, and no less. This is what constitutes an ecclesia pure, at least for now; namely, helping others who sin, and withdrawing fellowship from the rebellious, which refuse help, and refuse to listen to sound scriptural advice. Well, at least for the time being, but who knows if they shall be among the faithful or not? Christ does, and He might be teaching the rebellious offender a lesson or two by means of an ecclesial withdrawal, which they will later realize, and repent of their crime/s. We are only able to detect their open sin and response to correction, but unable to detect their future worthiness.)

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 (in this sentence, Bro. Edwards maintains that the sinners and unrighteous must be removed from the ecclesia. Consider the sentence like this to better understand his point: "The yoke of Christ is easy for the righteous, but put the unrighteous in the yoke with the righteous and it becomes galling unto the second death for the righteous, if the righteous do not withdraw from the unrighteous"). (True, but we (the members of an ecclesia) are not allowed to remove (withdraw from) such (sinners and the unrighteous), except for open disobedience(or, manifested sin)(Bro. Roberts is not saying the same thing as Bro. Edwards. Bro. Edwards is contending that sinners and the unrighteous must be withdrawn from by the faithful. Bro. Roberts is challenging this point, that the Brothers cannot discern between the faithful and unfaithful, and therefore, an obedient ecclesia must withdraw from "open disobedience" only) . Christ reserves judgment for his own prerogative.Editor. (Christ alone can differentiate between the faithful and unfaithful; however, Brothers are able to recognize "open disobedience, and strive to lovingly correct it. But it is a different matter when the supposed righteous of an ecclesia "remove" the supposed unrighteous of their ecclesia, for the purpose of maintaining a yoke of Christ which is free of the unrighteous. That's a dead end, according to Bro. Roberts, and will drive Brothers and Sisters away from the easy yoke of Christ. It is impossible to withdraw from the unrighteous if you cannot tell who they are, but it is very possible to drive Brethren away and falsely make the claim that withdrawal was/is executed in obedience to Yahweh and for the sake of the unrighteous. Bro. Roberts is right to maintain that a faithful ecclesia must withdraw from known sin, and for no other reason. "Sins known and unknown," which many Brothers today believe in, is utter nonsense; and constitutes the ground for a present day wicked expulsion of the supposed unrighteous , which obviously requires certain to determine that by their actions of withdrawal, they are righteous) ) 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.) (In other words, Bro. Edwards is advocating withdrawal based upon his interpretation of this verse.)

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? (This and the following clearly reveal Bro. Edwards' belief that an unspotted and unmixed ecclesia is possible during the "mixed state of good and evil.") Had it not been possible, God would never have required it. (He obviously is using all of the above verses to arrive at the conclusion that Yahweh requires an ecclesia to withdraw from the unfaithful, and thereby consist solely of the faithful; something Bro. Thomas taught even the Holy Spirit never accomplished during the mixed state. He says: "But is it not a good thing to have a church without tares, without a black sheep, or spotted heifer? Yea, verily, it is an excellent thing. But, then, it is a thing the Holy Spirit has never yet developed; and cannot now be developed by any human judiciary in the administration of spiritual affairs. There are certain things that must be left to the Lord's own adjudication when he comes; as it is written, "He that judgeth is the Lord. Therefore, judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come; who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts; and then shall every man have praise of the Deity"(1 Cor., 4:5. Apoc. 11:18)"every man," whose hidden things and heart-counsels when brought to light will be accounted worthy much of praise. Does not this teach us how more important it is that brethren be more diligent in examining themselves than in examining other brethren; and that the Lord expects them to leave something for him to do in the way of judging, condemning, excommunicating, cutting off, and casting out, in "the time of the dead that they should be judged?" "Brethren, be not children in understanding; howbeit, in malice be ye children, but in understanding be teleia perfect."(1 Cor., 14:20.)" This is just the work (to keep the ecclesia unspotted from the world while in a mixed state) before every individual member of the (present day) Body of Christ. (Yes; it is the work of "individuals," (Bro. Roberts emphasizes that Bro. Edwards is correct in his statement concerning "individuals") but all will not do it (however, he also stresses that all will not do this work within an ecclesia, which is exactly the opposite of how Bro. Edwards reads the Scriptures, and what he is presently calling for in his article; namely, an unspotted ecclesia which he believes is possible) . The bulk of the professing body (in other words, ecclesias in a "mixed state") will come short of what is required (Bro. Roberts is gently pulling Bro. Edwards back to reality, the reality that most members within an ecclesia are "wood, hay, stubble," and in a mixed state with the "gold, silver, precious stone"): 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 judgmentEditor. (please note the wording, "appointed to be together till the Lord come. Bro. Roberts' exact meaning is: "appointed to be together [in ecclesias] till the Lord come and separates them, not before).) 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.) (Bro. Edwards is misapplying this verse to mean that an unspotted ecclesia is possible.) 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.) (These verses do not prove that an unmixed ecclesia can be developed now during the mixed state). 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 (not according to Bro. Roberts, while this one Body is in a mixed state). These are all saints (true, but there are wayward saints too, and within the ecclesias), 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 born1 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."(Bro. Edwards has misapplied all of these verses to prove that an ecclesia can and must have all faithful members.)

Application  (It is clear from this term that Bro. Edwards is now turning his attention from the misunderstood verses to the next step, which is considering how to actually apply these verses in order to be an obedient follower of Christ.)

But why this lengthy collation of Bible sayings, with which most of us are familiar, in connection with the ecclesia of the Living God (in other words, what's the connection between these verses [as understood by Bro. Edwards] and the ecclesia)? This duty (putting the verses together and formulating an application from the verses; in other words, turning the verses into actions) 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," (in Bro. Edwards' estimation, a member who responds to his question with the answer, "I am a sinner," is incapable of maintaining a "pure" ecclesia, because they cannot distinguish themselves from the sinners) "I am neither, (if the member so responds, then they too will not be capable of applying the above verses to withdraw from the unfaithful, in Bro. Edwards' scriptural opinion)" "I am both (again, the same result in Bro. Edwards' opinion," "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." (With all of the above examples provided by Bro. Edwards, it is easy to see the direction he is taking with the above verses and their "application." Members with any of the above answers, will not see their way clear to "withhold fellowship," as Bro. Roberts puts it below, or "withdrawal from the unfaithful," as I style Bro. Edwards' application of the above verses he has produced.)

(1st question) 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 Zionthe Ezrasthe Scribes instructed in the kingdom of Godand the editors (like Bro. Roberts, whom Bro. Edwards is striving to provoke into applying his collation of verses as he understands them in the Christadelphian Magazine, among other places; namely, he is inciting Bro. Roberts to build an "unspotted" ecclesia by awakening him to the collation of verses he [Bro. Edwards] has put together), who are labouring to make ready a people prepared for the Lord (like Bro. Roberts), 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 constructedand but the means to the end of securing the prize we set out in the race to win ? (in other words, Bro. Edwards is encouraging Bro. Roberts to join with him in the application of these verses, which he sees as a necessary "end of securing the prize," and the beginning of achieving this prize started with an understanding of "first principles") (2nd question)That, leaving these (first) principles behind, we (Christadelphians) should press forward, with all diligence and energy, to that degree of perfection which the Scriptures require as absolutely necessary to success? (Bro. Edwards believes the "degree of perfection which the Scriptures require," is an ecclesia without unfaithful members within it, who have been removed by the faithful. Bro. Roberts believes the "degree of perfection which the Scriptures require," forbids an incorrect and harmful withholding of fellowship, and requires love and patience in a "longsuffering fellowship," which is composed of the faithful and unfaithful until Christ separates them)(3rd question) Does it encourage them (Christadelphians) in the race, to tell them that perfection (spot-free ecclesia, according to Bro. Edwards) is unattainable in this life (during the "individual" state of an ecclesia, or probationary days of an ecclesia, and a perfection which Bros. Thomas and Roberts always taught is "unattainable in this life"), and it is folly to look for it? (4th question) Would not such teaching put a brake on spiritual effort, and bring about a fatal supineness (lethargic reaction) 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 (according to Bro. Roberts, such teaching accelerates a "longsuffering fellowship," and helps develop the faithful. Bro. Edwards' application of these verses destroys Brothers and Sisters)?"(5th question) May not this very thoughtthat it is impossible to attain spiritual perfection (in an ecclesia), 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? (Bro. Edwards is clearly in the wrong with this statement. Bro. Roberts addresses this false claim later, by reinforcing the Truth. Bro. Roberts counters this false statement in his reply to Bro. Edwards with the following: "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." Bro. Edwards is advocating something other than this; namely, "withholding fellowship," and not a "longsuffering fellowship." He does so by suggesting that some will sin, repent, and ask for forgiveness, and he questions if the faithful are bound to forgive. Bro. Roberts' response counters this view. ) (6th question) And may not this be the true cause of the lack of purity, unity, and holiness in the "Churches" of the day? (this reveals that Bro. Edwards is focused on "purity within an ecclesia," and the "withholding of fellowship" as an application of "first principles," and proceeding beyond them, an application through which to accomplish "purity, unity, and holiness in the" ecclesias, as he incorrectly understands these things.) (The apparent difficulty arises from confounding the individual (the individual application of Bro. Edwards' collation of verses to the individual members of ecclesias in a mixed state) and corporate application (in other words, Bro. Edwards is misapplying verses meant for ecclesias in a "mixed state," as if the "mixed state ecclesias," [which are made up of individuals who are each striving to enter Yahweh's Kingdom] may become "unmixed,"[ faithful members only ecclesias], after the pattern of the Future Ecclesia) of these things (again, Bro. Roberts is charging Bro. Edwards of taking verses that relate to a household of faithful and unfaithful members by Yahweh's design ["gold, silver, precious stone, wood, hay, stubble] and applying them to the members as if the future "corporate" state composed of only the faithful can now exist in present day ("mixed" members) ecclesias. He has confused the two, and this may lead to "withholding fellowship" wrongfully). The professing body of Christ has ever been a mixed body in which perfection was impossible (let it be asked, why did Bro. Roberts just press the point home that "the professing body [ecclesias in the individual state, some individuals faithful, most not state] has ever been a mixed body [unlike the Future Ecclesia, which shall exist in an unmixed state, composed of the faithful individuals who overcome as individuals their trials while members of "mixed members" ecclesias]? Also, why is Bro. Roberts stressing to all his readers, including Bro. Edwards, that "perfection was impossible" within "the professing body of Christ" while it remains as a "mixed body?" The answer is obvious, Bro. Edwards seeks complete perfection from all members within ecclesias, as if it is now possible to pattern present day ecclesias after the future "corporate" Ecclesia. This is impossible for now. Bro. Edwards has taken verses meant for individuals within ecclesias, and applied them as if the ecclesias are now in a "corporate state." Bro. Roberts is correct, Bro. Edwards has confused the two and thereby misapplied all of the above verses, as well as all of the following verses in the rest of his article, as well as in his next reply to Bro. Roberts. We shall consider this shortly) there was even a Judas among the twelve. But the individuals (who have been, continue to be, and shall be, members of ecclesias while the ecclesias are composed of "gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble" in a "mixed body") who are to compose the glorified body of Christ (the Future "unmixed," Ecclesia, composed of individuals which have overcome while in "mixed" ecclesias) are always characterised by the spirit of Christ (that is, "always characterized by the spirit of Christ" while members of ecclesias in a "mixed state"), without which they are none of his Editor( which shall be revealed at His Judgment Seat)..) When the Son of Man cometh shall he find the one Faith on the earth (Bro. Edwards asks this question in relation to ecclesias as a whole, and not just to the individuals who compose the ecclesias. Bro. Roberts understands this)? 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 (Bro. Edwards' view of such individuals is not good, and rightfully so. But is it possible to "withhold fellowship" from them? Bro. Edwards says yes, Bro. Roberts says no. Bro. Edwards believes this is necessary in order to prepare for the return of Christ, so that He will find faith. Bro. Roberts knows this will destroy faith, and not develop it. If Bro. Edwards' statements went unchecked, much damage to the ecclesias would result. It remains so today. It is not possible to treat the current day ecclesias as if "the perfection" of the "corporate" state is now possible).

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 (in other words, the faith Jesus will find on earth, will only be found within faithful ecclesias who have withheld fellowship from the unfaithful. Bro. Edwards continues to confound the "individual applications" of his collated verses, with the "corporate application"). They may be few, as in the days of Noah, but few or many, the one faith will be found only with them ("the Body of Christ, which is the ecclesia of the living God, the pillar and ground of the Truth." Bro. Roberts refutes this line of reasoning. He teaches that individuals receive instruction from Bro. Edwards' collated verses [individual application], while they are members in "mixed" ecclesias. Only some are faithful, most are not).

It may be said that Christadelphians teach these things (but without the emphasis Bro. Edwards would like to see. As a matter of fact, as we have already seen, Bro. Edwards wishes Bro. Roberts, as an editor, to awaken readers of the Christadelphian to his understanding of his collated verses, which Bro. Roberts does not agree with) . But do they urge them with the same degree of earnestness and faithfulness? They (all ecclesias) contend for fellowship in first principles in the start. (They do so in some parts, certainly, and always have Editor. (Bro. Roberts is wise enough to know, that in the "mixed state" of the Body of Christ, not everyone in all parts contends "for fellowship in first principles in the start").) 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 (the ecclesias) so uncompromisingly contend in the start? (It is impossible to judge of these things. You may know if man (as an individual) believe the truth, but you cannot know how much faith, hope, love, holiness, purity, &c., he has in his heart (let alone within an entire ecclesia). We are forbidden to judge one another. We sympathise entirely with brother Edwards' personal applications Editor. (in other words, when Bro. Edwards applies all of these verses to individuals from a "personal applications" standpoint, then Bro. Roberts doesn't have a problem with the verses quoted), but think it a mistake to look for a body (ecclesia) in which all the members (each and every individual within an ecclesia) will be answerable to those applications (Bro. Roberts here identifies what he means when he says, "The apparent difficulty arises from confounding the individual and corporate applications of these things." The kind of "perfection" Bro. Edwards is looking for in an ecclesia, doesn't, and cannot now exist, according to Bro. Roberts).) Does it ever occur to them (ecclesias) that in their zeal for the latter (first principles) they may not only neglect, but compromise the weightier matters of the former ("the fellowship of the doctrine of faith, hope, love, holiness, purity, and unity in the race"), by too loose a discipline (slack withdrawal) and (to loose a)fellowship (again, not a strict enough withdrawal policy; what else can it be?) 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 (Bro. Edwards has done it again; he has "confounded the individual applications with the corporate applications")? We think they will continue to look in vain if they conclude it is impossible to have one (an "unmixed," spotless ecclesia). (Brother, there never was such. If so, when? where? Editor. (Bro. Roberts' stand is very clear; but not to Bro. Edwards, as we shall see. Bro. Roberts knows that all of the above verses quoted by Bro. Edwards scripturally apply to individuals within ecclesias, who may or may not obey them. Bro. Edwards misapplies these same verses in an unscriptural manner to entire ecclesias, and maintains that all of the members can and must withdraw from the unfaithful in order to uphold a "perfect" ecclesia)) Let us suppose an interview between the Apostle John and the little children to whom he writes.

L. Edwards, Lanesville, Va.


Bro. Roberts clearly does not agree with Bro. Edwards' application of the above verses. Bro. Edwards applies them to an ecclesia's entire membership, whom he claims must withdraw from the unfaithful in order to remain faithful ("corporate application").

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 impossiblethere was even a Judas among the twelve. But the individuals who are to compose the glorified body of Christ (after Judgment) are always characterized (in the days before their Judgment) by the spirit of Christ, without which they are none of his.Editor.)/p>

In doing so, Bro. Edwards has confounded "the individual (application of these verses) and corporate application of these things (verses)." Bro. Roberts' disagreement with Bro. Edwards is not within the verses themselves, but rather the manner with which they are applied. Bro. Roberts scripturally applies them to individuals within "mixed" ecclesias (ecclesias composed of both the faithful and unfaithful), whose members have the individual choice of obedience or disobedience. If a member's disobedience becomes "open," then other ecclesial members are obligated to correct them, lovingly according to Christ's Law, which includes withdrawal as a last measure. If a wayward member rejects the individual application of these verses, and their disobedience goes undetected by an ecclesia, then Christ will expose this at His Judgment Seat. Not a single member of any ecclesia may determine who is faithful, and who is not. However, it is possible to recognize "open sin" and faithfully correct it with love and patience. "Does any member know that the wayward member is unfaithful," asks Bro. Roberts (in my words; DD) Bro. Roberts retorts (my paraphrase; DD)! "The patience and love exercised by obedient members could well lead to scriptural withdrawal, and scriptural withdrawal could well lead later to an accepted correction by a wayward member, who at Christ's Judgment Seat may be found faithful," emphasizes Bro. Roberts (in my words; DD)! We do not know the faithfulness or unfaithfulness of other members, but "open sin" we may detect and scripturally correct the errant member, which does not include determining who among the wayward are the unfaithful saints.

(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 ("individual applications"), but think it a mistake to look for a body in which all the members ("corporate applications") will be answerable to those applications.Editor.)"

Edwards disagrees, and derives his proof by misapplying his collated verses in a "corporate application," as opposed to an "individual application." Bro. Edwards, on the other hand, and unlike Bro. Roberts, is contending that the above verses mandate that faithful members within an ecclesia must work together during our probationary days to form "spotless ecclesias," which he claims is entirely possible, and fulfilled by the faithful members when they withdraw from the unfaithful members within an ecclesia, after the unfaithful members' sin/s become "open".

{"Does it ever occur to them (Christadelphians) 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 (This is nothing short of Bro. Edwards' demand for withdrawal from the unfaithful, which Bro. Roberts maintains throughout the article, is impossible)? May not this account for the fact that they look in vain for a pure and spotless ecclesia (in other words, "they look in vain for an "unmixed" ecclesia consisting of the faithful only) on the earth? We think they will continue to look in vain if they conclude it is impossible to have one (an "unmixed" ecclesia).

(Brother, there never was such (that is, "there never was an "unmixed" ecclesia on earth). If so, when? where?Editor.)}"


AFTER BRO. EDWARDS' ARTICLE APPEARED IN THE CHRISTADELPHIAN, BRO. EDWARDS SENT BRO. ROBERTS THE FOLLOWING LETTER. PUBLISHED IN THE CHRISTADELPHIAN, JUNE 1891.   BRO. ROBERTS ONCE AGAIN INCLUDES A FEW REMARKS OF HIS OWN, BUT THIS TIME HE DOES SO AT THE END OF BRO. EDWARDS'LETTER

 

June 1891 Comments on "Who are the Christadelphians" letter to the Editor; by Lemuel Edwards

"I thank you for publishing what I have written what I believe to be a true Christadelphian (that is, what Bro. Edwards believes is a faithful, obedient believer in their "individual applications" of the Scriptures; correct, says Bro. Roberts), and Christadelphian ecclesia (that is, what bro. Edwards believes is a "perfect ecclesia" consisting of only faithful members who collectively apply Scriptures in a "corporate" fashion to the entire ecclesia, and withdraw faithfully from unfaithful members (again, according to Bro. Edwards' interpretation of his collated verses). Bro. Roberts disagrees with this application of Scripture, and maintains throughout all of his exchanges with Bro. Edwards that the ecclesias are currently in a mixed state, and withdrawal can only be exercised in an attempt to retrieve members who commit "open" sin . He correctly fears that Bro. Edwards' view will lead to unnecessary withdrawal). I simply wish to do my duty to the last, in employing the one talent committed to me by my absent Lord and Master(which is the truth, and Bro. Roberts recognizes that Bro. Edwards is doing his best, according to the "one talent" given to him by our Lord). 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 (yes, wisdom must be sought for by all of us from Yahweh's Word); and not only through this (Yahweh's Word), but every other channel which His providence may open (such as the works of the pioneer Brothers, which is exactly what Bro. Edwards is getting at); and having done this (that is, exhausted every channel, such as Scripture and pioneer writings), I can but conclude that with a faith that does not stagger at His promise, I shall receive just what I ask (wisdom).

"With the saying of the 12th Psalm before me, that 'The Lord will cut off all flattering lips,' (that is, the Lord will cut off all words except His Word) 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 (and in Bro. Edwards' estimation, they speak Yahweh's Words in harmony with Yahweh's Word, and not with the "flattering lips" of man. This is a direct indication by Bro. Edwards, of his regard for Bros. Thomas' and Roberts' teachings, and especially including Bro. Roberts' comments made within his article, "A New Version of the Question: 'Who are the Christadelphians'"). The impression made here (at the Lanesville ecclesia) by what has been recently published (namely, Bro. Edwards' article, and with Bro. Roberts' brief comments inserted throughout it), is, that brother Roberts differs from me (and he clearly does; the Lanesville ecclesia is correct in their impression of what Bro. Roberts concisely maintains within Bro. Edwards' article) and the Lanesville Church is encouraged (they are encouraged because they agree with Bro. Roberts that Bro. Edwards is taking "individual applications" of scriptural verses to a level impossible to reach; specifically, to a present day "corporate application" of Bro. Edwards' collated verses, which they probably agree with Bro. Roberts will lead to a wrongful "withholding of fellowship"). My impression is that while we seem to differ (in my opinion, Bro. Edwards is uncertain of exactly what Bro. Roberts is getting at with his brief comments, but he believes Bro. Roberts really agrees with him), when fully understood, we really agree (nevertheless, unlike certain Brothers today, Bro. Edwards at least admits that they "seem to differ"). I believe brother Roberts and myself both long since understood and endorsed Dr. Thomas's view of the ecclesia in its two statesthe mortal and immortal'The Tabernacle of the Testimony,' and the 'Nave' State, and the purity and perfection that pertained to each (the red here, and that which follows, indicates Bro. Edwards' quotes from Bro. Thomas' 2nd Volume of Eureka, which we shall consider shortly) (in a nutshell, here is the difference between Bros. Thomas and Roberts, who agree with each other, and Bro. Edwards, who thinks he agrees with both Bros. Thomas and Roberts, but in fact, does not: Bro. Edwards believes that the "purity and perfection that pertain to each" of the ecclesias/Ecclesia in its two states ("The Tabernacle of the Testimony State," and the "Nave State,") are these; 1) The ecclesias in their mortal state, "The Tabernacle of the Testimony State," can achieve perfection by the faithful members withdrawing from the unfaithful members when the unfaithful members reveal themselves by/through their "open" sin while in an ecclesia. In this way, through "withholding fellowship" from the unfaithful members, the faithful ecclesia can attain the "perfection that pertains "to it while in the "mortal state." Please consider again Bro. Edwards' statement which proves his view: "May not this very thoughtthat it is impossible to attain spiritual perfection (in an ecclesia), 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 (manifested by not withdrawing from the perceived unfaithful members, according to Bro. Edwards; DD), 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?" From this statement alone, it is obvious that Bro. Edwards believes that the faithful saints must withdraw from repeat offenders, because they have exposed themselves as unfaithful; and removal of an ecclesia's unfaithful members is imperative, if Christ is to find faithful ecclesias upon His return, according to Bro. Edwards. Bros. Thomas and Roberts hold a different belief. They teach that the ecclesias in the "Tabernacle of the Testimony State," or mortal state, are composed of the faithful and unfaithful saints, and not one single member, except for Christ, is able to distinguish between the two. However, members are able to discern "open sin," and are commanded to correct it, so that sin may be overcome, until Christ the Infallible Judge returns. Until then, the unfaithful saints who hide their sin/s, remain in the ecclesias in a "mixed state." Also, the faithful, like David and the apostle Peter, correct their sins after they have be pointed out by other members. The difference between Bros. Thomas and Roberts with Bro. Edwards' belief is simply this; Bro. Edwards believes an ecclesia in the mortal state must rid itself of the unfaithful, but in reality, they do not know who they are. Bros. Roberts and Thomas believe this cannot occur until the return of Christ, who does know who is faithful and who is not. 2) Bro. Edwards agrees with Bros. Thomas and Roberts concerning the "purity and perfection that pertains" to the immortal state of the Ecclesia in its "Nave State." In this state, all three Brothers agree that the faithful are the only members within it.). That in the former (mortal/Tabernacle of the Testimony State) 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 (according to Bro. Edwards, a part of the "finale triumph" that is manifested at Christ's Judgment Seat concerning the faithful, was their willingness to withdraw from the unfaithful during the mortal state of their ecclesias, so that their ecclesias are found pure and perfect by Christ upon His return); and as brother Roberts says 'it is ordained that they (the faithful and unfaithful members) shall be together (yes, Bro. Edwards agrees with Bro. Roberts that the faithful and unfaithful are in a "mixed state simultaneously within ecclesias, however, where they differ is in this; Bro. Edwards believes it is possible to have the faithful members extract the unfaithful members via withdrawal from the ecclesia in order to obtain an "unmixed state," and that this is a "purity and perfection" each and every ecclesia is commanded to obey in the mortal state of the ecclesias).' But brother Roberts surely does not mean (when he says that the faithful and unfaithful are "ordained that they shall be together") that they (the unfaithful members) shall be together in the (current day, mortal state / Tabernacle of the Testimony State) fellowship with the spiritual "e pluribus unum" (the faithful while in their respective mortal ecclesias. Yes Bro. Edwards; this is exactly what Bro. Roberts is saying. You are misunderstanding him and Bro. Thomas as well) -- the many made one in the body of Christ (during the mortal ecclesial state. It's easy to see that the entire Lanesville ecclesia probably told Bro. Edwards that he had misunderstood Bro. Roberts' inserted comments. In addition, the Lanesville ecclesia no doubt pointed out to Bro. Edwards that Bro. Roberts was saying that the unfaithful members are in fellowship with the "e pluribus unum," or faithful members, during the mortal state of the ecclesias, which Bro. Edwards is having a hard time accepting, because of his incorrect view of verses he has misapplied in a "corporate application" to the ecclesias, instead of in an "individual application" to members within ecclesias). Nor when he says 'we are forbidden to judge one another (during the mortal state of the ecclesias), can he mean that we are forbidden to exercise a wise and discriminating judgment (Bro. Edwards here means, "Bro. Roberts surely cannot mean that withdrawal from the unfaithful members by the faithful members through a wise and discriminating judgment is forbidden; yes Bro. Edwards, that is what he is saying, and what he is concerned about; namely, an improper "withholding of fellowship"), that we may be able to choose the companionship of the good (faithful) and reject that of the evil (unfaithful; yes Bro. Edwards, unlike you, this is exactly what the pioneers are saying. In the mortal state of the ecclesias, the faithful only withdraw from open sin, in order to correct sin; which members compose the faithful and unfaithful is unknown by all the members, until Christ judges all the saints)? 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 ("and," continues Bro. Edwards, "the faithful members must obediently withdraw from the unfaithful members after they reveal themselves, so that the 'pure and perfect' ecclesia is established prior to Christ's return." " Wrong," counters Bro. Roberts; "impossible!"). 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 (he does), and the degree of purity and perfection thereto pertaining (he does; but his understanding of "the degree of purity and perfection thereto pertaining" is different to Bro. Edwards' meaning. Bro. Roberts believes that the best a faithful member can do is to help other members overcome sin, which sometimes involves withdrawal; but he never believed withdrawal exercised by an ecclesia could develop an "unmixed" ecclesia consisting of the faithful members only, who are preparing an "unmixed" ecclesia for the return of Christ). 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 (in other words, Bro. Edwards would point to Bro. Roberts' ecclesia as an example of a "perfect and pure" ecclesia, but Bro. Roberts put an end to this choice by declaring that his ecclesia contained "an Achan in the camp"). This testimony being true (that there is "an Achan in the camp" at the Birmingham ecclesia), the 7th chapter of Joshua is not only suggestive (remindful), but imperative (commanding), and finds the first duty at hand for each and every member of that spiritual corporation (please note; Bro. Edwards has done it again, even after Bro. Roberts pointed this out to him in his article, A New Version of the Question: Who are the Christadelphians?" He has once again confounded the "individual application" of his collated verses, with the "corporate application" of these verses, and is informing Bro. Roberts that Joshua 7: 24-26 is a commandment which must be fulfilled by the Birmingham ecclesia in order to remove the unfaithful Achan from their midst. [ And Joshua, and all Israel with him, took Achan the son of Zerah, and the silver, and the garment, and the wedge of gold, and his sons, and his daughters, and his oxen, and his asses, and his sheep, and his tent, and all that he had: and they brought them unto the valley of Achor. 25 And Joshua said, Why hast thou troubled us? the LORD shall trouble thee this day. And all Israel stoned him with stones, and burned them with fire, after they had stoned them with stones. 26 And they raised over him a great heap of stones unto this day.] the Apostle calls the Body of Christ and Ecclesia of the Living God (in its mortal state, is Bro. Edwards' meaning). I feel almost sure that when understood, brother Roberts and myself will agree in what we have written (Bro. Roberts does not agree with what Bro. Edwards has written, and the context shows this. Also, Bro. Roberts' following comments makes this abundantly clear), and it is a pity that there should be any smoke thrown over it to make it appear otherwise (smoke thrown over it by the Lanesville ecclesia, who obviously understand Bro. Roberts perfectly. Bro. Edwards does not).

"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 (in other words," if there is something that you wish to correct me on, and it will publicly help others, feel free to do so," says Bro. Edwards). 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 (in other words, "I don't have much time left in this life, but I want to use what remains in a way that benefits the Brethren and helps me become approved by Christ). 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."

L. Edwards.

Remarks.We (BRO. ROBERTS') 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 (Bro. Edwards does indeed provide many verses from the Word): which will certainly level down (by exclusion from the future Ecclesia and immortality) all human nonconformities (unfaithfulness) with unsparing hand at the judgment seat of Christ (and not before, and definitely not done by ecclesias in place of Christ, who are striving to rid themselves of the unrighteous because they believe Scriptures teach we must do so in order to remain faithful during the days of probation. Please reconsider these statements of Bro. Edwards' that reflect this understanding: "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.]" Bro. Roberts disagrees with this statement, and gently corrects Bro. Edwards. Here is another: " 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.)" Another gentle correction by Bro. Roberts, who knows that only a few shall be saved from the many called, and most of the rejected saints will remain in their respective ecclesias until they are rejected at the Judgment Seat of Christ, "which will certainly level down all human nonconformities with unsparing hand at the judgment seat of Christ." Bro. Edwards believes the unrighteous must be removed from a faithful ecclesia prior to an appearance at Christ's Judgment Seat by Divine Command, because he misapplied the above verses in his article. Since he believes an ecclesia must be free of the unrighteous members by commandment, he does not believe it is judging them by withdrawing from them for their open sin/s, even after they repent. Please reconsider this statement made by Bro. Edwards, which proves his incorrect position, and Bro. Roberts' reply once more: "May not this very thoughtthat 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? [And how does Bro. Edwards intend to correct this lack of "purity, unity, and holiness in the 'Churches' of the day," which manifests itself in those who cry, "we can sin seventy times, and all we have to do is to turn and say I repent, and you are bound to forgive?" Through "withholding of fellowship," concludes Bro. Roberts; what else can it be?] (The apparent difficulty [Bro. Edwards is having] arises from confounding [a confounding Bro. Roberts disagrees with and understands correctly]the individual and corporate application of these things [it is not possible to take a collection of verses and apply them to a single ecclesia as if the ecclesia as a whole must all obey to remain a faithful ecclesia, by withholding fellowship from "the sinners" who demand forgiveness because they turn and say, "I repent;" when in fact the verses are intended to develop single individuals within a "mixed"ecclesia, who may or may not obey. Christ will sort this out at His Judgment Seat, and not before then]. The professing body of Christ [mortal ecclesias consisting of those who obey, and those who do not, according to Bro. Roberts] has ever been a mixed body [Bro. Edwards has "confounded" "the professing body of Christ," with the "glorified body of Christ," by maintaining throughout his article that the "professing body of Christ" must consist of faithful members only in an "unmixed body," via withholding fellowship from "the sinners." In reality, the "unmixed body" cannot, and does not exist until Christ rewards "His glorified body") in which perfection [the "unmixed state" of perfection, like the "glorified body of Christ"] was impossible [in other words, perfection is impossible during the mortal, probationary period of the ecclesias; Bro. Edwards disagrees, and claims perfection in the "professing body of Christ," is possible. He has left a trail of statements a mile wide in his article, which proclaim this very thing]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.))"Wherein we dissented (in other words, "the reason I [Bro. Roberts] disagreed with Bro. Edwards") was not as to the principles that ought to characterise every brother and company of brethren (in other words, "I [Bro. Roberts] do not disagree with Bro. Edwards, but rather agree with him, concerning the principles that ought to characterize every brother and company of brethren [an ecclesia]") , 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 (in other words, "What I [Bro. Roberts] disagree with Bro. Edwards about, is the feasibility or scripturality of withholding fellowship from every person [individual saint] or community [an individual ecclesia, which is a group of saints] that has not attained to this 'perfect measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.'" Please read this sentence again. In this sentence and the following sentences, Bro. Roberts is clearly defining what he agrees with, and that which he does not agree with in Bro. Edwards' January article [concerning fellowship, of course]." We agree with brother Edwards that open rebellion (manifested sin) against the law of Christ leaves a true friend of Christ no alternative but separation (withdrawal) from every person (individual saint) or community (individual ecclesia) guilty of it (Bro. Roberts agrees with Bro. Edwards that manifested sin must be withdrawn from, but not withdrawal from members or ecclesias who are developing, and have not reached a "perfect measure" yet), but it is a different case (different from the case of open rebellion) when there is professed subjection to that law (an open subjection, as opposed to an open rebellion), and more or less of a sincere endeavour to conform, even if there is a considerable amount of shortcoming (Bro. Roberts is saying he would not withdraw from a saint/ecclesia who has sinned, if there is no open rebellion, and on the contrary, there is a "professed subjection" to Christ's Law, as well as a "sincere endeavor to conform." This even included cases, which involved "a considerable amount of shortcoming"). Our conviction is that in such a case (a case where an individual saint, or a community of saints [ecclesia] manifest open subjection and sincere conformity [not open rebellion], even though they have few or many shortcomings), both mercy and duty require a long-suffering fellowship (In other words, Bro. Roberts is disagreeing with Bro. Edwards. Bro. Roberts is saying "long-suffering fellowship" is required by duty to Christ, as well as by mercy, in such cases; and not the withdrawal insinuated by Bro. Edwards' argument).As for the Birmingham ecclesia (now Bro. Roberts reveals his "view" of the community [ecclesia] he is a member of) , the proverb holds good: "Distance lends enchantment to the view." (In other words, Bro. Roberts is saying, "Distance lends enchantment to Bro. Edwards' distant view of his ecclesia at Birmingham, because at a distance, Bro. Edwards cannot see that all of the Birmingham ecclesial members have not reached the level of development advocated by Bro. Edwards, which he believes he sees, because he has an "enchanted view" from a distance. Bro. Edwards sees the problems in his ecclesia, but cannot see the problems at Bro. Roberts' ecclesia, because of distance. Bro. Roberts is assuring him that the Birmingham ecclesia has its problems too, but that these types of problems are unworthy of withdrawal.) There are many in it (the ecclesia at Birmingham which Bro. Roberts is viewing from close up, and not from an "enchanted distance view") for whom we have true cause for thanksgiving to God because of their conformity to the mind of the Spirit (these individuals meet Bro. Edwards' standard laid out in his article): but there are others (in the ecclesia at Birmingham) who dim down the general lustre (in Bro. Roberts' truthful close up view, and not from an "enchanted distance view," there were members who did not meet Bro. Edwards' standard recorded in his article, and Bro. Roberts is advocating helping them, and not withdrawing from them), and give great occasion (for the more developed brothers and sisters) for that personal humiliation and exercise of patience (by the members who conform to Christ's Law by not "withholding fellowship" from, and helping those who have "shortcomings," but also "profess subjection to that law, and more or less of a sincere endeavour to conform") which, in the arrangements of the wisdom of God, are for ever inseparable from this probation (Yahweh has created ecclesias in a "mixed state" during this probation, and the unfaithful will not be separated from the faithful until the return of Christ. During this period, the faithful will only withdraw from manifest sin, aka open rebellion, and will extend mercy, help, and patience where professed subjection to Christ, and a sincere endeavor to conform to Him, exists; no matter the amount of shortcomings). Brother Edwards will be at home in the Kingdom of God where nothing shall enter that defileth (Bro. Roberts makes this observation based on Bro. Edwards' January article, from which Bro. Roberts concludes that Bro. Edwards believes that defiling members are entering the ecclesias, and they must be withdrawn from by the faithful. Bro. Edwards' view of removing the members who entered the ecclesia and defiled it was so focused in his article, that Bro. Roberts knew it would be next to impossible for him to view them correctly, and realize they had no power to defile him; hence, Bro. Roberts' statement about Bro. Edwards being "at home in the Kingdom God where nothing shall enter that defileth"). We hope to rejoice with him then (in Yahweh's Kingdom), as we do now in the measure possible in a sand drifting desert (the days of our probation while in a mixed state).

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