The following article contains the substance of a young brother’s address delivered as part of a special evening conducted recently by the Aberfoyle Park Ecclesia. The special meeting was convened as an opening for the “ecclesial year” and this was one of several addresses on the theme of service to God and the ecclesia.

The gravestone erected at the burial site of our Brother John Thomas in Greenwood Cemetery reads:

HERE LIES, IN BRIEF REPOSE, WAITING THE RETURN OF THE LORD FROM HEAVEN,

JOHN THOMAS, M.D.,

 Author of “Elpis Israel ”, “eureka”, “anatolia”, “anastasis”, “phanerosis”, and other works,

IN WHICH HE DEMONSTRATED THE UNSCRIPTURAL CHARACTER OF POPULAR CHRISTIANITY, AND MADE MANIFEST THE NATURE OF

THE LONG-LOST FAITH OF THE APOSTLES.

DURING A BUSY LIFETIME, BY MOUTH AND PEN, HE CONTENDED EARNESTLY FOR THE FAITH ONCE DELIVERED TO THE SAINTS, AND AT HIS DEATH LEFT BEHIND HIM AS THE RESULT OF HIS LABOURS, A BODY OF PEOPLE, IN DIFFERENT PARTS OF THE WORLD, KNOWN AS

THE CHRISTADELPHIANS

 TO CONTINUE THE WORK BEGUN.

Born April 12th, 1805; Died March 5th, 1871

In the providence of God, we have been called to continue that work which was begun by the apostles almost 2000 years ago.

We indeed have a marvellous heritage in the Truth and there are many examples of brethren and sisters both today, and in the past, who have endeavoured to serve the Lord “in spirit and in truth”. But if the years go by and our Lord remains absent, the present older generation within the ecclesias will pass away and the future of the ecclesias becomes the responsibility of the young. We know that life is but a vapour, that appeareth for a little time and then fadeth away. So it is then, as young people, we need to learn the Truth whilst we are young. This will enable us to continue the work begun with confidence, for the things learned in our youth will be the most easily remembered when we are older.

The wise man Solomon left this advice for us when he said: “Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them” (Eccl 12:1).

Youth is the time for thankful dedication and commitment to the work of the Creator, for what is life but a gift from God? And what is life for, but to remember the Giver? For without that, life is truly nothing but a breath.

The Psalmist teaches us to apply our hearts to the wisdom of the Truth whilst we have opportunity.

He says: “The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away…. So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom” (Psalm 90:10,12).

There are many things in life to which we can apply our hearts: our jobs, our education, our recreational pursuits. But the Bible encourages us not to be conformed to this world, but rather to apply our hearts and energies to the things of God. To this end the writer of Proverbs adds to the advice of Psalm 90: “Apply thine heart unto instruction, and thine ears to the words of knowledge” (Prov 23:12).

Instruction in the things of God can only be found in the Scriptures. It is to the Bible we must turn for our instruction and not to the philosophies and teachings of this world. Day by day we must incline our ears to knowledge, so that we, in our youth, may be adequately equipped to serve our God in the days that are left to us.

I think it would be fair to say that all of us, both older and younger, find it difficult at times to consistently apply our hearts and minds to the things of God. We can, of course, make all sorts of excuses as to why that may be the case. But when it is all boiled down, the excuse is merely a means of self justification, for how else can we better spend our time than reading and speaking about the Kingdom of God and the Lord Jesus Christ.

There once lived a man who had every cause NOT to commit himself to the work which God wanted him to do. His name, Jeremiah – a young man who committed himself to the service of his God and took upon himself the yoke of Him who had given him his life. But the yoke that Jeremiah carried to the day of his death was anything but “good”. To Jeremiah, life was one of sorrow, pain, anguish, stress, physical torture. From a fleshly perspective there was nothing “good” in his life at all. The yoke that God asked him to carry brought him nothing but physical and mental suffering.

Yet toward the end of his life, whilst dwelling in the ashes of Jerusalem, he was caused to reflect upon his life and wrote in his Lamentations: “It is GOOD for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth” (Lam 3:27).

The word for “good” in the Hebrew means “cheerful, pleasant, joyful”. Such was Jeremiah’s attitude towards the work that God had called him to do in his youth. In this day and age responsibility, commitment and discipline are subjects which do not appear on the education agendas. “If it feels good, do it! If you don’t want to do it, don’t!”

Unfortunately this attitude rubs off on us and particularly the young. To the day of his death, Jeremiah gave a full commitment to his God because he found it joyous to do the work of God and it is this attitude which we must develop whilst we are young. We must develop an eagerness in the Truth, a desire to stretch forth the hand to continue the work begun.

For the Truth to continue in this wicked and perverse generation the ecclesias need young brethren and sisters like Elisha, who sought knowledge and wisdom from Elijah and who, at the time of Elijah’s departing, picked up the mantle and spirit of that great prophet and continued the work which Elijah had begun.

Do you, young person, seek to continue the work of your ecclesia? Do you seek to dedicate your life to God’s service? Do you aim to develop the qualities of a Jeremiah or an Elisha? Is that your goal in life?

Christ’s service calls for dedication, consistency and commitment. These virtues can only be cultivated by inclining our ear to spiritual instruction. When we find our commitment waning, think upon the lives of Jeremiah, Elisha and all the prophets, who through their patient endurance earned the praise of God.

In the spirit of James 5:10: Take, young people, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, as an example of commitment, dedication and faith. For in like manner, Brother Thomas left behind him a body of believers to which all our young people have been called, known as the Christadelphians, TO CONTINUE THE WORK BEGUN.

Let us serve with joy in our hearts, wanting to please our Master who has called us to such a precious heritage and let us unitedly continue the work begun.