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Faith Alive! | Commandments of Christ 1

1. Why do we need them?

From issue 77 (February 2004)

THE box on the right shows how Robert Roberts prefaced the epitome of the Commandments of Christ, and the force of these words still holds true. In order to keep the commandments we need to know them. The subtitle given to this collection of the commandments reads: “for the use of the household of faith throughout the world”. The Commandments of Christ are part of the fellowship we share with each other. In fact, most Christadelphian ecclesias’ agreed basis of meeting together refers to the importance of the Commandments of Christ and our need to keep them.

The Commandments of Christ

“‘Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.’ – Jesus

‘Teach them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded.’ – Jesus

‘If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.’ – Jesus

‘Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom … but he that doeth the will of my Father.’ – Jesus

‘Be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.’ – James

‘He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar.’ – John

… The rule or standard of obedience is to be found in the commandments of Christ. The Lord Jesus Christ speaks very plainly on this subject in the statements quoted [above]. They are summed up in this saying of his – ‘If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love’.

Before we can keep his commandments, we must know them; and in order to know them to any purpose, we must remember them. [The] epitome is intended as a help to the memory. The commandments are picked out from the apostolic writings, and classified in a way convenient to remember, and printed in a form convenient for carrying about on the person daily, so that they may be often looked at, and imprinted on the mind. The references are supplied for the satisfaction of those who desire to be sure of their foundation. What excellent men and women are those who keep all these commandments! Where are they? Lord, increase their number.”

They bind us together with a common aim – following the Lord Jesus Christ.

The sections

The epitome itself, which is still available as part of the Bible Reader’s Companion, contains 100 commandments, each with its basis firmly in the word of God with scriptural references to follow up. It is also divided into ten sections for ease of reference, with the following headings:

Commandments concerning …

  • God
  • Christ
  • brethren and sisters
  • the stranger
  • your own character
  • your actions
  • your thoughts and speech
  • matrimonial relations
  • parents and children
  • masters and servants
  • disobedient brethren
  • the assemblies of the brethren

Christ and us

The epitome of the commandments of Christ is an extremely useful ready reference to the things we should be doing in our service to God. It highlights the very practical impact of the message of the Lord Jesus on our lives. It brings together in one handy booklet all the ways in which we can serve our master, whatever circumstance we are in and wherever we are. It should be stressed that the epitome of the Commandments of Christ is about us being aware not only of what we can do, but also how we should be as servants of Christ.

Although we cannot earn a place in God’s kingdom by our own efforts, neither can we just sit back, do nothing and hope for the best. There is a balance to be struck. We are to have faith; but we are to be changed by the faith we share and have to act in line with that faith and because of that faith.

Given the fact that there are 100 different commands enumerated, to absorb them all is definitely a lifelong experience. These are the commands that can and should bring our lives closer to the life and character of the Lord Jesus Christ. If we take them to heart we have the hope that he will recognise his character in us when he returns.

In further articles we shall be looking at several of the commandments from different sections of the epitome in more detail and how they affect us as followers of Christ.

The Commandments of Christ are available as part of the Bible Reader’s Companion from the Christadelphian Office.

Edward Carr


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