He Is Gone Before

So, every one must witness Christ born in them passing through death to him, through the world, through the law, through temptations, through the wilderness, and out of the world; and the son of God ye will witness to arise, who doth overcome, who was born of God. And the same spirit, that raised up Jesus Christ, the same spirit raiseth you up, and quickeneth your mortal bodies; and he that hath not the same, is none of his (The Works of George Fox (1831), VII, 56).

On Sixth month, the 20th, nine gathered to read and discuss George Fox’s Epistle 45, which begins on page 54 of volume 7. In this epistle, Fox concerns himself with “the heirs of the kingdom of God, and how Christ was, and his saints are tempted”(54). He begins this piece by identifying the heirs of the kingdom of God as those who “live out of the kingdom of the wicked world . . . following after Christ (54): beginning in “Egypt, the house of darkness,” passing through the wilderness temptations, suffering the cross and “contradiction of sinners”(55), and “ascend[ing] above all principalities and powers.” It is the same today as ever it was, Fox affirms: “the same world . . . the same temptations, and the same devil, and the same vain worship of the world, twining into another form and colour”(55). Thus Fox presents a worldview that is centered on the Christ-assisted soul heroically passing through the deceitful, demonic forces of the world that are intent upon preventing the soul’s progress toward the Kingdom where peace and righteousness are enjoyed.

And all who can witness the second birth, and are born again, know the promises of God in and to the seed are yea and amen; and ye coming out of that which was in time, ye come up to God, who was before time was. This is a mystery, he that can receive it let him; and he that hath an ear to hear it, let him hear what the spirit saith. Abel was the second birth, he was no murderer, nor no sinner; for God called him (57).

Our discussion begins at 11:40 with a brief look at Christ’s temptation in the wilderness, and from there to parsing a key sentence denoting the Way of Christ toward his (and our) reward. An examination of verses Hebrews 2:10 and 12:3 engages several participants beginning at 20:35 in the recording. Openness to receive Christ finds metaphors in “gate” and “door,” as well as “birth,” each brought forward at various points in our discussion. At 32:45 is a distinction made between proactive and reactive approaches to obtaining Christ. Synonyms for the word “darkness” are listed beginning at 37:45. The necessity of becoming aware of what needs to change within is addressed at 45:00. At 49:52 in the recording, one participant recognizes this spiritual endeavor in which we’re engaged is a “life and death” struggle. Throughout this epistle, Fox upholds the difference between those who are born of God and those who know not God (57).

And “he that is born of God overcomes the world”; he that is born of God, is not of this world. . . . He that committeth sin is of the devil, and hath not seen God at any time. Hereby are the children of God made manifest from the children of the devil; for he that sins is of the devil, and knows not God (57).

The recording has been edited to reduce silence between speakers.

NFF discussion 6/20/21
The Tribute Money, 1420s Masaccio
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