Convention Report Sermons







If Ye Be Risen With Christ

OUR text is found in the 3rd chapter of Paul's epistle to the Colossians, beginning with the first verse: "If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affections on things above, and not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God."

The epistle is not addressed to the world; the world has not risen with Christ in any sense of the word. The Apostle is not addressing nominal Christendom, for nominal Christendom is not dead to the world and risen with Christ. He is not even addressing justified believers in Christ. He is addressing the class that is buried with Christ by baptism in death – figuratively, reckonedly, their hearts given up, their wills given up. Those who have thus given up their wills and by giving up their wills have given themselves and their all to the Lord, are reckoned as though they were in another land; as though they were not living in the world; as though their earthly life had ceased, and the beginning of the new nature had already commenced; they are reckoned as having risen to newness of life in Christ.

I think then, dear friends, the very first thought that should come to our minds in connection with this word from God's message is, "Am I one of those addressed by this text of scripture? Am I one of those whose life has been buried into Christ? Am I one of those who by the grace of God have heard of the new life, and by the grace of God have entered into that new life, so that I may be said, figuratively, to have already risen from the dead?"

The Apostle uses a very striking and a very forcible illustration, you see. No one can question, when Paul makes that statement, just what he means. He is a very explicit writer. What a strong figure this is. If you have died to yourself, died to the world, died to the flesh, died to sin, died to everything of the earthly kind, and have been begotten of God's spirit, then as the Apostle declares, you are a new creature, old things have passed away, all things have become new.

We are not to understand the Apostle means that this transformation is a sudden transformation, so that in one moment everything has been changed, and that you have forgotten all about earthly interests, earthly ambitions, earthly motives, and earthly sentiments of every kind. That is not the thought. Various scriptures explain to us that the beginning of the new creature is a very small matter; that the matter of increase is a gradual one; that there is a certain moment in which the death of the old will takes place; there was a particular moment in which you surrendered your will, your heart to the Lord. Some can place their finger exactly upon that moment and can say, "at that very moment I gave my all to the Lord." Others perhaps more carefully reared, and more in the habit of living in a Christian atmosphere, may not be as able to place their finger on the exact moment, and to say "at that particular moment I surrendered my all to the Lord." I class myself amongst those. Reared as a Christian child I never knew what it was to be in opposition to God; and yet when I reached the years of thought and accountability, I realized there was something now that I should do for myself; that I should be more than merely passively on God's side; that to be passively opposed to evil was not enough, that the time had come when I must take my stand for the Lord, for righteousness, for truth, and that this meant the surrender of my will and everything to the Lord. Yet in my own case that matter came so gradually that I could not say just what day it occurred. It was a kind of gradually coming to a realization of my responsibility to the Lord, and a realization that I had always wished to be in that attitude, but that now I was in that attitude, and had gradually come to that position. So I think it is with some others – and I am making this statement for the benefit of others.

A gentleman seeing me on a railway train sometime ago, came and sat down by me and said, "Mr. Russell, this is the best opportunity I will ever have of asking you a question: I am a Methodist, and our friends, as you know, claim there must be a sudden conversion – so sudden a conversion, and so absolute a change, that it will be remarkable to ourselves and everybody else; and I cannot say honestly with myself that I can tell of the moment when I had that wonderful change come into my life. Therefore I am always in doubt; my mind is always unsettled, because I have been taught to believe I ought to have that experience, and be able to point to the very minute in which I gave all to the Lord. And now I want you to tell me whether I have really been converted or not?" I said, "Now brother, we won't go to any particular moment in the past. The Apostle tells us there are some who are begotten of Christian parents, and they are born in a justified condition. You remember the text, "For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean, but now are they holy." Thus by reason of God's arrangement, the child is counted as belonging to the believing parent, and is holy, justified. Now, if you were born of Christian parents, and therefore in a justified condition, you would not have the same experience some have of a violent turning around in coming to the Lord. Then I told him of my own experience, and that the word convert means to turn around. But, dear friends, if any of those born in the justified condition should turn around, what would it be? It would mean they would turn their backs on the Lord. They do not want to turn around; they want to keep their faces right straight as they have been going; they were born in harmony with God, and have reason to thank God on that behalf. But if anyone has been in an unjustified condition, or if he were born in a justified condition, and then realized that he had allowed his justification to lapse, and that, instead of recognizing his responsibility to God as he grew up, he has gone into sin, then he has indeed to turn around, and it might be a very violent turning around. In the case of some who are turning from wickedness to a life of righteousness, it is a very pronounced matter. In giving up grievous sins, either secret or public, it ought to be a very notable matter to them; they could not mistake the time. But in the case of perhaps one-third of this audience, we think it would be a mistake to suppose that they had a violent turning around, as probably from childhood they have been desiring to know and to do the will of the Lord. Be thankful if that is your experience, and do not feel fretful if you have not had a violent turning or conversion.

I explained to this brother, who told me that he was a Methodist, and that he had been more or less perturbed in his mind for years, what he should expect, and asked him whether he had given his heart to the Lord. He said yes, he undoubtedly had, so I inquired for further evidence as to his being of true heart and conscience to the Lord; and assured him that he had taken the necessary steps in the way in which he should go. He said, "This lifts a great load from my heart. Now I can feel better as I understand my position better." And so we find with many Christian people.

Now aside from that, leaving out this matter of turning around from sin unto righteousness, conversion, it is after we have been converted, those of us who needed to be converted, after we have been justified, after we have realized that our sins are forgiven, then it is that we are privileged to give our lives even unto death in a full consecration. As the Apostle Paul expresses it, "I beseech you therefore, brethren (after you are brethren, after you are no longer sinners, aliens, strangers, and foreigners, but have come into the family of God) by the mercies of God (in the forgiveness of your sins), that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice." Now [CR2] it is this class who present their bodies living sacrifices who are thus reckoned dead with Christ. But the Lord does not wish them to stay dead, you see. It is a good thing to get "dead," it is a good thing to have our whole body fully consecrated to death, but that is not the end of it. You see a time for quickening comes in. You remember the Lord pictures our relationship to him after the figure of a birth; there is the begetting moment: that is, when we were begotten of the holy spirit; the natural begetting corresponds to the spiritual begetting. We are begotten of the holy spirit at the time we give our all to the Lord. It is not a very pronounced matter, it is not a matter that may have a great demonstration connected with it; it is a very important matter, but one that is not always easily discerned. By and by comes the next step, namely, quickening. And as the Apostle says, speaking to some who were once dead in trespasses and sins, they have been quickened. Quickening means to make alive. Now of course, the begetting is the beginning of life, but the quickening comes a little later when there has been some development. So it was in your Christian experience. After you had presented your body a living sacrifice, and God had accepted that sacrifice, and given you the holy spirit, – after you were thus begotten of the holy spirit, – then came the time, perhaps longer for some and shorter for others, when you began to be active; you were quickened, you were energized; you began to say, "What can I do to render my service to the Lord?" You said, "It is not sufficient that I should have given myself to the Lord; I want to use this mortal body, its time, opportunity and all that I have in the service of him who bought me with his precious blood." That is the quickening time. The energy that you there manifest on behalf of righteousness and truth, on behalf of the service of the Lord, and the service of the brethren, is part of the quickening; and there cannot be any child of God begotten of him that will not at some time have a quickening moment. If you have not come to the quickening stage yet, dear brother or sister, you want to get to it; you don't want to let the time go by. It is not just the same as with the natural birth, for you have something to do with this matter. If you are never quickened, if you are never energized, if you never come to the moment where you have such a desire to serve the Lord as will lead you to do with your might what you have opportunity to do, – if you do not reach that point, you will be "still born;" It will be an abortion; you won't come to life, you won't come to the birth. Do you see the picture? The picture is: begetting, quickening, birth. And so it is with us spiritually. We are begotten by the spirit, quickened by the spirit, and born of the spirit in the resurrection. We must have all three of these. We cannot have the third one now; that will be your change; you will only get that after you have been faithful. But what you must have now is the first one, the surrender of yourself, or the begetting; and secondly you must have the evidence of quickening. And when that quickening comes in, you will not only see it, but your neighbors will see it and your friends will see it; it will manifest itself. But all Christian people will not be the same, because we are not all alike mentally or physically; no two will be exactly alike, just the same as no two faces are exactly alike, and so no two experiences will be exactly alike; yet in every case, you, and those who are in contact with you, will be able to discern a change, a manifestation of energy on behalf of the Lord and his righteousness.

I do not say, dear friends, that you will have such a change and such a quickening as will be fully satisfactory to yourself. If you have the right spirit, if you have the right disposition, you will be continually dissatisfied with yourself. I have found some Christian people saying, "Well I feel so dissatisfied with myself and my attainments that I think I cannot be one of the Lord's faithful ones." But, my dear brother and sister, if you felt clearly satisfied it would be a bad sign. You know you have your imperfections. God knows it; he tells us so. He tells us that in our flesh dwells no perfection; and since perfection does not dwell in our flesh, we cannot hope that our new minds, which recognize the standard of perfection, can be satisfied with anything that is possible to us in the flesh; hence we are always dissatisfied, so far as the attainments of the flesh are concerned. Perhaps that dissatisfaction may be greater with you than it was when your begetting began, or when your quickening began. Why? Because you have not really changed? Oh, no, I hope not. I hope that as you look back and compare to-day with a year ago, or even a month ago, you can find that you have made some progress, that there has been some energy displayed, and some manifestation of greater strength as a new creature, some greater ability to conquer the old will, the old nature, and to bring it all into subjection to the perfect will of God. I hope as you look back a month or a year you can see some evidence of growth even though you are still dissatisfied with what you have attained. Now that is right and yet it is wrong. That is to say, it is right we should have the feeling that we are not doing anything of any account: that when we have done all, we are to say, We are servants that have not profited our Master; he has not gained anything by our being his servants; we are his debtors still; we are to realize that all we can do is not aiding the Lord. We are to realize that our all is a little insignificant matter, and the best we can render must be in the divine sight imperfect. And yet faith there is to triumph; faith is to look beyond self and to realize that our sufficiency is of Christ. And then as you realize that it is a gradual process going on from day to day, you will say, "I am not all I would like to be, and yet am I doing what I can? Yes, I am doing what I can to overcome the world and its spirit, and to overcome the things of the flesh, and the adversary." And then when that thought has come, the other thought comes, What can I do? Then the further thought is, Christ is our sufficiency. And thus Christ is continually day by day brought to our hearts and minds as the sufficiency of God which he has provided, and the more we realize our own imperfections and insufficiency, and hold on to the blessed Redeemer, the more we have the peace of God that passeth all understanding ruling in our hearts.

So then, dear friends, coming to our text again, ask yourself, "Am I risen with Christ?" Not in the actual resurrection, not in that glorious resurrection that is to come when we shall be actually with the Lord, but am I risen now in the same sense that I am dead now? According to the will of the flesh I am dead, I have consecrated that; that is laid at the Lord's altar, and he has accepted it through the merit of Christ: I am not alive to the flesh then. If we were to get alive according to the flesh, it would mean that we would die according to the spirit. We cannot have two lives, you see; the flesh must be reckonedly dead; the will of the flesh cannot rule; if it does, then all is wrong with us. If you turn to the flesh, and love the flesh, and serve it willingly and intentionally, of full volition of mind, then it is an indication that the mind of the Lord has perished so far as you are concerned. If the seed of which you are begotten has no effect upon you, it is a sign that the seed is dead; it will never bring forth the new creature. But I hope that is not the case; I hope that as you look into your own hearts you find not only that you have made the consecration, but that you are risen with Christ, and that you can see things are different from your standpoint, and that the world has a different aspect to you because you are in Christ Jesus, because of this change.

The Lord's people are using this figure now, so to speak. Those who are the Lord's consecrated people in this city, or in every city wherever they may be, – Philadelphia, New York, Pittsburgh, San Francisco or wherever they are, whose lives are hid with Christ in God, who are accounted new creatures, risen with Christ, are in the world but not of the world. They pass here and there amongst men and as the Apostle says, "the world knoweth us not." Why don't they know [CR3] us? Don't they know your name – Smith or Brown? Is your name not still Smith or Brown? Yes, among men that is still your name, but with the Lord you have a new name; with the world you still have the same name. Don't they know you? They know you according to the flesh, but they do not know you as a new creature. And from your standpoint and from God's standpoint, you are not any longer in the flesh but in the spirit, if so be that the spirit of Christ dwells in you. If the spirit or mind of Christ dwells in you, you are in the world but not of the world, as our Lord said we should be as he said he was, "In the world but not of the world." We are, therefore, dear friends, to remember at a resort like this, or in any other city or place, or under any other circumstances, that we are not to measure ourselves with other people; we are to remember that there is quite a difference between those who are begotten of the spirit and those who are not begotten of the spirit. We are to remember that while the laws of the land are made for the world in general, those laws should not be the highest standard for our hearts and for our minds. For us it is not sufficient that we should merely keep the laws of a city; they may be very good and suitable for the majority of mankind, but we see there is a higher standard than that of the world. We should apply the law of our Lord to our hearts, doing unto others as we would they should do unto us. The golden rule is the rule that is to regulate all these new creatures in Christ: – and more than even the golden rule, is the rule that we have come under, the rule of Christ, that we are not counting our lives nor our comfort, nor any interest of life, dear unto ourselves, if there comes an opportunity to serve God or the brethren, or even the world of mankind. We are to be emergency people, ready for any emergency to lay down our lives in the service of God, truth and righteousness wherever it may be, and note every opportunity to show forth the praises of him who has called us out of darkness into his marvellous light.

I hope then that many of you as you consider this text, "If ye then be risen with Christ," will consider the "if" as you say to yourself, "Where does the if come in in my case?" I hope you will be able to say "Yes, I am one of those whom the Apostle describes here; I am one of those who are risen with Christ; I am one of those who are seeking the things above." Well, how do we seek the things above? Are we to go out on the seashore and seek something that has fallen from above in the strands? Are we to look up into the sky and seek for the stars, or something above? How do we seek the things that are above? What are the things that are above? We answer the things that are above may be understood in two ways. First of all, it signifies the higher things; seek the higher things, the things that are not of sin, the things that do not pertain to the fall. We have every one of us in our flesh the imperfections of the fall that naturally tend to draw us earthward, and towards the things that minister to the gratification of the depraved flesh; and therefore, as new creatures, the new nature is to control this mortal body. You remember that in the 8th chapter of Romans the Apostle Paul brings this matter forcibly to our attention, telling us it is not sufficient that we should be dead to the world, but that we should have the spirit of Christ. He tells us that the spirit of Christ will quicken our mortal bodies. How and when will it quicken our mortal bodies? We answer that the mortal bodies we first reckoned dead, and so now in the mortal bodies you have your tastes, your cravings, your appetites and your ambitions, and these are reckoned dead now, and the Apostle represents it as putting the old nature, the old man, down; and he says of himself "I keep under my body." He not only buried the old nature, but he put him down and put his foot on him. What put his foot on him? Why, the new Paul, the new "I." So the Apostle says, it is I, and yet not I; it is the one that was I, but now I am the new creature Paul; I am keeping the old Paul, with the old nature, in subjection, and under the rule and control of this new will, the will of Christ which is dwelling in me; this will, or spirit, by which I have been begotten through the word of his grace. Now the Apostle says, in Romans 8th chapter, that it is not sufficient we should get the old nature down, and get it dead, and get it consecrated to death, but he says that in proportion as the spirit of God is received in us the new nature triumphs to such an extent that it is able to bring the mortal body into subjection, and that the mortal body may be quickened. So then to give an illustration there was the mortal body, said the Apostle, which once was serving sin, and that mortal body died to sin, gave up sin; that is to say, the will was transformed, but the body might be weak and might slip from under the control of the new mind. The Apostle states there are those who stumble, and he makes a difference between stumbling and falling. To fall would signify, from the Apostle's standpoint, to be utterly cast down; but he says there is such a thing as stumbling, and if we stumble as new creatures, if the new creature fails at times to have and keep the mastery over the old nature, we are not to be discouraged by this, but to remember that the Lord's grace is sufficient for us, and that we may go to him and not only ask for forgiveness for the sin, for the slip, for the unintentional weakness, but we may also ask of him an increase of grace and strength, that on future occasions we may profit by that very stumbling experience, and be stronger in the Lord and the power of his might. And thus we will be prepared for the next trial.

So we see that the experience the Lord wishes to put us through is this: That as we have a conflict here, and there, and elsewhere, with our own weaknesses, the new creature shall by battling against those weaknesses become stronger and stronger, character will be formed, and it will not be the "mushy" kind of character or disposition, but a firm, fixed character, fixed on righteousness, fixed on truth, ready to fight against sin in every sense of the word, under all proper conditions, and to help others, and ready to lay down our lives in battling against that which is wrong. While this new nature of which we have been begotten is to triumph in us more and more, yet we cannot do all of that in a day or a week or a year; it may be several years of Christian experience that you will need as you seek to thus overcome the world and gain the victory over the imperfections and frailties of the flesh. If you are rightly exercised by them, these experiences will only tend to make you stronger. You will say, "there is the place I slipped; the old nature got the advantage unintentionally and my new nature was not strong enough at that point. Now that I find where it was weak I will fortify that position and never slip there again," and the next temptation will not come there, but it will come somewhere else. And so you make a battlement there, and get your strength of character on that point, and then another temptation will come at another point; and you did not know you were weak there, and the trial will come from the point that is weak. Then you barricade that, and increase the strength of character. So you thus fortify yourself against all the weaknesses of the flesh. It is a battle all the way around. The new creature must put up a fortress, and make the heart more impregnable to sin. It is thus that the Lord has promised that when our experiences, and trials, and tests, have sufficiently demonstrated the loyalty of our hearts and minds, "They shall be mine saith the Lord in that day when I make up my jewels." That is the jewel character. You know that a jewel differs from an ordinary piece of glass. The glass may be very beautiful in color, but it is not hard; it has not the real character there; but when you get a real jewel, a real precious stone, it is one that is hard, it holds its character. So the Lord pictures his people, not as merely the best representation of that which is beautiful, but as being the real firm character established. All the experiences of this present time are lessons to make us stronger and to build us up not only in faith, but also in loyalty to principle. [CR4]

But now we have risen, we are of those, we trust, who have taken this step, begotten again, quickened, reckonedly risen to walk in newness of life, going through the world with new aims and ambitions. What is your new aim? One says, I used to have the aim of getting rich. But now, what is your aim? You can never work to advantage until you know what you are trying to do. Now it takes a little time, but you must settle the matter. You must not expect to know all about this, and have it all clear in a minute, but you ought to be going on in that direction; you ought to be asking yourself, What is to be my aim in life? What am I living for? We must know what we are after. To those who are new creatures in Christ, God sets before them the grandest ambitions. Are you a very ambitious man, or a very ambitious woman? You could not have a greater ambition than God sets before you. One says, "I have an ambition to be President." If you have, that is nothing in comparison with the things God sets before our ambitions. He says, "You may become a son of God in glory." He says, "You may become a king in glory, a joint-heir with my Son in the great kingdom." Another says "I have an ambition to be a very wise woman, a very wealthy woman, and the wife of some great, influential man." The Lord sets before us a grander ambition than that: we can become the Bride, the Lamb's wife, joint-heirs with him in the glorious kingdom. Is there not abundant room for ambition? I tell you, dear friends, we have the opportunity of being the most ambitious people in the world. Ambition is very good and very necessary. The man or woman who in the present life has no ambition will never make anything but failure, but it is necessary that we get the right ambition, the ambition which God sets before us. And the more that great ambition that God sets before us gets into our hearts and fills us, the more we will control our words and conduct.

Now then the Apostle says, Be ye not conformed, or bent down to this world; but be ye transformed, turned upward, by the renewing of your minds. Have a new mind, the mind of Christ, the mind that has the higher things before it, the mind that has learned that there are more than the few years of this present life, the mind that has come to understand that there is a God, and that he has a great and wonderful plan, and in that great and wonderful plan we may have a place, if we are faithful in this present time. You do not get suddenly from the conformed condition to earthly things to the transformed condition of mind; it is a gradual process; and you will find that even when you have had your eyes fixed on the heavenly glory, when you have seen the things by the eye of faith, which the natural eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, nor hath entered into the heart of man – when by the eye of faith you have come to understand something about those things as they are revealed in the Word of God, even then you find something comes upon you from the earth and draws your attention down to the things that are beneath. But the Apostle says we should set our affections on things above, and if something draws our attention on earthly things, we are to remember that those are not our things but are the things that belong to this earth; that we are new creatures, and our things are the riches of grace, the riches of glory. We are heirs of the kingdom, and whatever may happen to us in respect to this present life amounts to nothing at all in comparison with the interests involved beyond. And so, then, when we come to realize our relationship to the great Eternal King of Glory, and to our Lord and Master, what could there be of all earthly trials that would really affect us very deeply? They might indeed cause the shedding of a tear, they might cause a pang to the heart – that is not unnatural, that is proper enough. Even Jesus, when he was surrounded by the sufferings and troubles of humanity, wept. So it would be no disgrace if we should have this realization of our kinship with the world and should shed a tear. As the Apostle says, so long as we are in this tabernacle we do groan, being burdened; but when we think of how this present tabernacle is burdened, we also think of how this is only a tabernacle, that the great palace, the great home, the great Father's house of many mansions is ours, and this is merely our temporary dwelling place; and his gracious promises are ours, and all things are ours from that standpoint. Nothing is really able to affect such a heart. It rises superior to all the trials and difficulties of this present time, and it is able to sing even in the midst of tribulation. Or, as the Apostle puts it, "We glory in tribulation also; knowing that tribulation worketh patience; and patience, experience; and experience, hope; and hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the holy spirit, which is given unto us." Ah yes, that is the reason, because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts. So, dear brethren and sisters, what we want is to have more and more of this love of God shed abroad in our hearts, and the more of it we get, the more enlargement of heart we will have, the larger will our capacity grow from day to day, and from year to year. We should find ourselves growing larger in heart, and able to appreciate more and more the lengths and breadths and heights and depths of the love of God which passeth understanding. You do not understand it fully, and I do not understand it; it passeth all understanding; nobody understands it. But you understand it better than you did before, and I understand it better than I did before. You may appreciate the love of God more this week than you did last week, and next week you should appreciate it more than you do this week.

"Seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God." How are we to seek them? Our Lord represented how we are to seek them. He gave a parable, you remember. He told about the man who, when he found one pearl of great value, went and sold all he had to get that pearl. And so the Lord represents that kingdom promise which he has given us is a pearl of great price, and he has told us how we may become possessed of that pearl, that joint-heirship with him in the kingdom. When we come to know that there is a pearl of such great value, and that it is possible for us to become the owners of it, or sharers in that pearl, what are we willing to give for it? The Lord says that he who really appreciates that pearl is willing to sell all that he has and purchase it. Mark you, he is to sell all that he has; he is not merely to squander all that he has; he is not merely to throw it around carelessly. Go and sell, that you may buy. So you and I from the time we made a consecration are not to think that it makes no difference how we do, or what we do, or where we use the talents or powers we possess, but that it is all consecrated to the Lord. The new creature says, "I have possession of you now; you are my property, old creature; your human powers, the power of public utterance, or the power of money, whatever talents you may have according to the flesh, it is mine; I will use it; I will sell it; I will make as much out of it as I can." And the Lord is pleased to see us thus acting as stewards, and getting out of our old bodies, our old fallen natures, all we can get, and using it in joyful service, the service of our King. What do you possess? I do not know what you have. You know, and the Lord knows. But whatever you have belongs to him, if you have taken the step here represented, if you are dead. A dead man does not own anything; therefore you, according to the flesh, own nothing. It is the creature, then, that is in power. All that the old creature possesses of time, influence, money, property, the new creature owns; or rather it is God that owns it, because it was to God that you gave your old human nature as a sacrifice, and God has given these things into the custody of the new creature, and you, the new creature, are the steward. So as new creatures it is for you and me to see how we are using these things, how we are selling those things that we have, how much we are getting out of our time, whether we are wasting any upon light reading, such as novel reading, [CR5] or that which confuses our minds; how we are using time as respects games or other folly, how we are investing our time for the service of Him who has bought us, who died on our behalf. And how much we would like to do more than we are able to do. I take it for granted, dear friends, that every one of us who has the spirit of the Lord at all would like to do a thousand times more, just as we sometimes sing,

"Oh for a thousand tongues to sing
My Great Redeemer's praise."
You cannot have a thousand tongues. Well, you say, "Oh for a thousand times as much time as there is in which to serve the Lord." You cannot have that either. "Oh well, for a thousand times as much money as I have." You cannot have that either. You have just got to use the tongue which you have, and the dollars you have, and the time you have, and the things you have – that is all you have to use. But if you do not use the little things well, the Lord will not entrust to you great things. You remember how he says in giving the reward, He that is faithful in that which is little will be faithful also in that which is great; he that would not be faithful in his stewardship of a little time, and a little influence, and a little money, would not be faithful if he had great influence, a great amount of time, and a great amount of wealth, to put at the Lord's disposal. The Lord is not expecting us to do great things, but He is expecting us to show with these little things what we would like to do if we had the power, what you would be glad to do if all this could be multiplied a thousand times; and He is going to count it to you just as though you had the thousand times as much, if you are faithful in the use of the little things. Oh how much encouragement that gives to us, when we feel how little we have, and how great is the Lord's work, and how much we would desire to be, and to do, and to serve! How much it encourages us to find that the Lord looks upon the heart! I trust as he looks into your heart he sees it so burning with zeal, so aflame with sacred love of which we sometimes sing, that it is really consuming the earthly vessels, and thus bringing everything as a sacrifice of sweet odor to the Lord – not sweet of itself, but sweet because of the merit of Christ imputed to it.

Some one may say, "Brother Russell, I have set my affections on things above, and some how or other they slip off again." Very well, my dear brother, that is just the same as it is with other people. They set their affections on things above and then they slip off and get down to the earthly things which are so near, and especially so if they have beautiful earthly things. If you have a paradise on earth, it is that much more difficult. If you have wealth and beautiful things, and wonderful arrangements, and all of these comforts of an earthly kind, they draw the heart more in that direction, and it is all the more difficult to leave them and set your affections on things above. So the person who has little in some respects has the advantage. But if the person who has the disadvantage prove the victor over it, we may suppose the Lord will appreciate the victory he gained all the more. So keep setting your affections, and if they slip off a thousand times a day, set them back a thousand times, and by and by they will begin to stick to the heavenly things better.

I need not in this connection mention to you that, aside from the effort of the will, comes in the various assistances to which God directs us. Prayer for one thing – "watch and pray." If you are watching and praying and setting your affections on things above, and saying "Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done," you will not be thinking so much, if you pray from the heart, of your own will being done. Some use that prayer and never think what it means.

I trust all here, when they pray, "Thy kingdom come," really think about the coming kingdom that God has promised to bless the world, and think about the share that is promised to them in that kingdom. "To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne."

Another thing, you should have your fellowship with those of like precious faith. If you get in with the world and talk about stocks and bonds, etc., all of that is drawing to the earth earthy; every thought is in that direction; the whole world is tending earthward. So you need to have something to offset that, and if it is necessary to earn your living, either by cutting cloth, or sewing, or washing, or keeping a grocery store, or what not, if these things are necessary, as they probably are in a majority of cases, and they necessarily bring you in contact with those earthly things, remember that it is possible for us, while doing those things, as washing for instance, to think "Well there is another washing that the Lord is doing for me; he has given me the white robe of Christ's righteousness;" and as you wash the soiled linen, you can have a spiritual blessing in your heart by thinking how this great robe of spotless righteousness is ours through him that loved us, and bought us with his own precious blood. And as you find a stain upon your earthly dress and attempt to remove it, think about how the scriptures say that he will present us faultless, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing; and that it is your privilege, if you find you have made a stain on your robe, if you find you have made a mistake, to come boldly to the throne of heavenly grace and have the precious blood applied which will make and keep you clean, which will take off all the spots, and keep them off. Do not allow them to remain. If a spot gets on say, "I cannot bear to have that spot there, I must go to the great Cleanser, the great Redeemer; I must have the precious blood to remove it at once." With that you will find you are thinking more about the Lord, and your affections will be set more on things above, and less and less on earthly things. As you are attending to the various things of business life, you can keep setting your affections on things above. And you are to remember in this connection that the Lord has admonished us not to forget the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is, and so much the more as we see the day drawing on. Therefore, if you want to have your affections rightly set, if you want to overcome these things, and be separate from the world, you will need to make use of the opportunity of meeting with the dear brethren wherever they may be, because they love him, not because they are of your station in life, not because they dress well, or are well educated, or because of some other reason of that kind, but because you recognize amongst them the spirit of the Lord our God; because they are brethren in Christ, no matter how weak or imperfect they may be according to the flesh, no matter how illiterate they may be, no matter how poor they may be; if they belong to Christ, they belong to the King's family and are his; and wherever you are, meet with those, associate with them, help them and let them help you; and in helping them you will be helping yourself, because whoever helps another on in the narrow way is helping himself along.

So we have the Word of God as one of the assistants, and God's providence another, and the directions of the Word how to use our wills and set our affections on things above, and doing this in all the affairs of life, and watching and praying and striving against the allurements of the world – all of these things are necessary, dear friends. We may be sure that our Master did not suggest anything to us that would not be necessary, and if his wisdom knows what is best for us, and if he has designed to give us the direction, and if we put ourselves under his direction, and he is the captain and we are the disciples and followers, then let us know that it would be a risky matter for any of the sheep to stray away into any other path than that which he has marked out for us. Let us know that to the extent we want to make our calling and election sure, to that extent we must be sure that we are following the Lamb whithersoever he leadeth us.

A sister said to me this morning, "Brother Russell I am glad you have that text: it always troubled me to [CR6] know how and when I am setting my affections on things above." Well, we answer, dear friends, that to set our affections on things above means all we have explained, and that it does not mean that we have no interest in earthly things. Well, she said "How can we love God with all our heart? Can I love God with all my heart? Will not some of my heart's affections and should not some of my heart's affections, go to others, to my family and to other things of the earthly kind? Where should I draw the line?" I think that is a good question for us. How do we set our affections on things above and give the Lord all our hearts, as the Scriptures demand, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy mind, with all thy being and with all thy strength?" What does that signify? Does it mean that we should not love our brother? No, no, for the Scripture says we should love our neighbor as ourselves. It does not mean that we should not love our brother at all. Giving all our heart to God does not mean that we shall not love our children, our husbands, our wives, our brothers, our sisters in the flesh, and also those in the spirit. Not at all. What does it mean? It means the sum of our hearts, the center of our affections; as we would say, speaking in numbers, it must be more than half, the majority of our affections must be fixed upon the Lord; it must be really the whole in the sense that if anything else should come in that would tend to differ from, or be contrary to, the will of God, that the will of God would so preponderate that nothing else would have any influence at all; it should not come to a division of our love, but as God loves your brother and your sister, so he says that you and I should love one another – as he loved us. But he did not wish that we should love one another to the extent that if it came to a matter of being loyal to the Lord, and faithful to that brother, that you would say, "well, now, I would like to be faithful to the Lord, but I must be faithful to this brother," showing that perhaps you loved the brother more than the Lord. He does not mean that as between having the affections of the wife, and having the favor of God, that you would say, "Well, I cannot give up the wife, because I must stick to the wife even if I must forego the Lord's favor." No, no, that is not loving the Lord God with all your heart. He means that if it came to a test on any subject, no matter how great or how small, that just as the needle of the compass would always turn promptly to the North, so your heart would say, "If it is any question as between God and any other person, or thing

"To the Lord I must be true
Who bought me with his blood."
That would be serving the Lord with all our heart; that would be giving our all to him.

The Apostle here continues in the same strain, "For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God." What life is hid? Why this new life that you have, with all its new hopes and new prospects and new ambitions, is all centered in Christ. It is a life of faith. It is not a natural thing. You do not have that new life except as you have the faith. All that you have in the way of new life is hidden in Christ. "Well," says some one, "if Christ should fail, then what?" If you cannot have faith in Christ, you cannot be in him at all. To have your life hid with Christ in God implies that you will have that absolute trust in God that he has provided the redeemer in Christ, and that all of the gracious promises of God's Word will be fulfilled in Him. All of that is included. So, when we say your life is hid with Christ in God, it means that the die is cast, that for you to live henceforth must be to live from this standpoint of faith in Him, and in all of these promises of His, knowing that if He has promised He is faithful to do all that He has promised. So in proportion as your faith lays hold of the gracious promises of the Lord's Word, in proportion as your faith lays hold on the dear Redeemer, in that proportion you may have this victory, because the Scripture says, "This is the victory that overcometh the world, even your faith."

So then, dear brethren and sisters, cultivate faith. Patience, of course, is to be cultivated, and patience will help in the cultivation of faith. We have need of patience in order that we may have faith. We have need of all these things, but the sum of all is faith, hope and love. Without the faith, without the hope, without the love, we would not be acceptable. So now we know what it is to have our lives hidden with Christ in God, so that we are dead to ourselves, dead to the world and all of its ambitions. To us all things have become new.

I trust dear brethren and sisters, as we apply these matters to our own hearts this morning, we can say, "As for me I will serve the Lord; as for me I am a new creature in Christ Jesus; as for me earthly things and the old things – not only the sinful things, but even the things that are right and proper, everything that would be in the nature of a thing I could sacrifice for the Lord and his service to be a co-worker with him – all of that is already given to the Lord." There is much, as you see, in this matter of consecration, and in keeping it before our minds. There are some people, I find, who always have difficulty. They say, "Well now I sacrificed that; now here is another thing, I must make a new, fresh sacrifice." And so they keep on. They have troubles all their lives, because they have not found out what they have done. What they ought to say is, "I have only one life, and when I give that one life it is all gone, it is not mine at all." I have found that people have that trouble over money matters. You know that money is the root of all evil, as the Apostle points out; and of course every human being has a measure of selfishness. And so they have a measure of selfishness, and gradually the new creature would pull out something from the old creature's grasp, and they would say, "there is something now. There now. There I lay that on the Lord's altar. That is a sacrifice I have made." They do not get the point. All the money you have belongs to the Lord, if you have thoroughly given yourself to Him; you are not sacrificing anew, you are merely rendering unto the Lord that which is His. It is His because you gave it to Him, because you pledged it to him, and the very condition of your pledge was the condition on which you received the begetting of the holy spirit.

I think of one dear brother who came to me in Allegheny some years ago, who had just gotten interested in the truth. He said, "I have been a Methodist so long," and he said, "I have given for years a tenth of all my income." And he evidently rather expected I would say, "My dear brother that is a very remarkable thing, not very many people give a tenth." But I did not say anything of the kind, because the Bible does not. I said, "Sure, that is the best you know." And he thought I had misunderstood him, and so he brought it around again, "I have for years given a tenth of all my income." I said, "Why sure, that was the best you knew. You did not see you had given all to the Lord, did you?" He looked into blank space for a moment, and then his face flushed, he put his hands up to his face and said, "Brother Russell I never saw it that way before. I was boasting I was giving a tenth of all my income to the Lord, and I thought I was doing great things, and I see that when I made my consecration I gave Him all of it; that I belong to Him, and everything I have belongs to Him." The brother got the right idea. The sooner every one of God's people get the right idea, the sooner they will get a better chance for victory.

I am not begging for any money, dear friends; we never take up collections; you will not accuse me of that. I am talking for the benefit of all of God's people, that they should see the principles involved, and they not only apply to money but to everything else. Your time belongs to the Lord. I have heard people say, "I gave so much time to the Lord, and I thought when I had given him so much, that was sufficient." Why, all your time belongs to the Lord. The question is, how much are you using on yourself? It takes eight hours out of the twenty-four to sleep, and three to eat; that is eleven. And it takes some hours out of every [CR7] twenty-four to earn what you eat and a place to sleep, and that takes up a good part of your time. So you haven't very much time to give to the Lord. If you gave him every spare moment of time you have, you could not give him very much; and we want to appreciate the fact that it is so little. The same thing applies to time as to money. If you get the idea that it is your time you are sacrificing, you will pull out an hour here, and an hour there, and five minutes here, and five minutes there, and think you are doing something. If you get the right idea, you will see that it all belongs to the Lord. Then you will say, "How much have I a right to use on myself? How much time shall I spend in anything foolish, or about my dress, or family, or about my home, merely looking out for the beauties of this present earth, and merely fastening myself by so many cords and ties to the earth, earthy, and hindering myself from setting my affections fully and freely on the things above?

It is the same way about influence. One says, "Well, I want to give some influence, but I don't want to give it all to the truth." How much influence have you? Have you a great deal of influence? How much are you devoting to the Lord? I do not believe you have a great deal; I am pretty sure you have not; I know I have not, and I am very glad to give what little I have, and you are glad to give what little you have. It is not worth anything to us, and we have pledged it to the Lord. It belongs to Him anyway, and if we would not give it when the opportunity arrives, then we are holding back, and we will not be of the more than conqueror class; at very best we would come in with the Great Company if we held back on those things. We want to do with our might what our hands find to do, and do it heartily as unto the Lord, remembering that we have consecrated every thought, every day and every hour, every influence, and every dollar – everything we have; it belongs to Him whose we are. He has invited us on these conditions, and we have made this covenant of sacrifice with Him.

Now what shall we say to these things? As the Apostle says, "What manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness; looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God" – when we shall receive those glorious things which God has in reservation for them that love him. What kind of people ought we to be? Ought we to measure ourselves by the world, and the flesh, and the devil? I tell you No. We have the one pattern, to be like our Father which is in heaven. There is only one standard God accepts. He could not set up a lesser standard. There is only one perfect standard, and that is what we are to copy after – God's character; not only as we realize it in the principles of His character, but as we see it delineated in our Lord Jesus, who was the express representative of the Father. And the Apostle says that he was an imitator of Christ. "Be ye followers of me, even as I also am a follower of Christ." And so we have in the Father and in the Son, and in the Apostle, God's standard set before us of how we are to walk in the Lord, setting our affections on things above. Even the Apostles are consecrated illustrations of how graciously God fixes this whole matter. When we look to the Father we are unable to comprehend such a life of great glory as we see in His character, and we say, "Oh Lord, give us an humbler pattern, you are too great and wonderful for us to copy." And God says, "I will set you the copy of my Son; He was made flesh that He might illustrate the Father, and the glorious character of the Father in the flesh." And then we look at Jesus and see Him in his perfection, and we say, "Oh, Lord, He is also too grand and too great; we are not perfect that we could copy Him fully." And the Lord says, "Well, here are twelve Apostles, and you will see how they have sought to walk in His steps; these three will all be your illustrations, but the very grand character of God himself is the copy. 'Be ye perfect, as your Father in heaven is perfect.'"

On this subject, dear friends, how much it is like when we were children in school. They had copy books and at the top of every page was a line of copper-plate writing, absolutely perfect, and we were told that was the copy we were to follow. As we looked at the copy we knew from the very start that we could not make a perfect copy like that. Why did they not give us an inferior copy? Because it would not be right to set before us anything as a copy that was imperfect. So God set before us Himself as the grand copy that we are to follow after, but He knows from the very beginning that we cannot form such a character as His. What does He expect? He expects, as we seek to copy Him, as we seek to copy the Lord Jesus, and as we seek to copy the Apostles, that we will become more and more proficient. You will remember that as you looked over the page, after you had written down to the bottom, you were surprised, and probably chagrined, to find that the last line you wrote was worse than the first. Now what was the trouble? Why you got to copying your own work; you failed to look at the original copy; you were watching the line just above, and each line got worse and worse as you went on down; all the imperfections of each line were intensified.

So then, to come back to the illustration, we want to have the Father and the Son continually before our minds, for we are not to copy ourselves, nor to copy each other. It is not sufficient that you should be as good as you were yesterday, or try to copy what you did yesterday; you want to look at the perfect copy every time as being what God designs that you should be like. Will we ever become copies of God's dear Son? Will anybody ever become a copy of Christ? We answer, not in the flesh, because his Son was perfect, and your flesh is imperfect. There may be somebody who has still more imperfect flesh than you, and there may be somebody who has flesh not quite so imperfect as yours; so we are in various conditions. But God has made this general way in which he will deal with us all; He is going to look at our hearts, at our intentions, at our efforts, and so if He finds in your heart this strong resolution, that by the grace of God you will be as near as you can a copy of His dear Son, He will say, "There is a jewel at heart; no matter what the outward expression may be, no matter what the outward form of the natural man may be, at heart this is a jewel; this is the kind I love, this is the kind I am seeking; the kind that has made a covenant with me by sacrifice, and is seeking to walk in the footsteps of Jesus." And so the Lord knows us not according to the flesh, but according to the spirit; and that is a great comfort to our hearts, that the Lord looks not at the outward appearance as men do, but He looks at the heart.

Let us then, by the grace of God, resolve that our hearts shall be faithful, shall be loyal, and that we will appreciate rightly the things of the earth, and that we will appreciate supremely the heavenly things that God has set before us in His Word.

Closing Remarks – Asbury Park Convention

Dear Friends, I stated in my opening remarks to you that the expense of this convention would probably be $25,000. It is very difficult to measure spiritual blessings in dollars and cents. I have heard from many that they enjoyed the convention, and from one brother that he had gotten more than $25,000 worth, himself. Now, if each one of you got as much spiritual advantage as that brother got, I am sure we have made a good investment. But I think the more we learn to measure natural matters by spiritual success and attainment, the better. I do not mean that the natural matters should not be considered at all, or that one should [CR8] go in debt and embarrass himself in order to attend a convention; but there are many who want a blessing not only for their own hearts, but who also want to give the blessing to others. I am glad that spirit prevails. Instead of seeing how much each one can get, each one is anxious to see how much he can do for others for their spiritual advantage as well as what he could get for himself.

You have all heard that there is to be another convention in St. Paul, Minn., next month. I could hardly expect that many of you will be there, but there is also another convention you have heard about – the general convention of the Church of the First Born – and I hope you are all arranging the affairs so as to go. There will be no round trip excursion rates to that convention – it is only one way; and if you get to that convention you will not want to come away; it will never break up; it will be an eternity of blessing and association with the Lord and the Apostles and with all the faithful. The adversary will be bound, everything unfavorable will be restrained, and everything that is favorable will be let loose; and what a glorious time we will have! How it makes our hearts rejoice just to think about that time! We look forward with much anticipation to these conventions, where we have fellowship together, where heart goes out to heart, where we can help one another, comfort one another, build one another up in the most holy faith; and these things draw our hearts nearer and nearer to that grand climax of all our hopes.

I do not think it is very good policy to tell our worldly neighbors that we would really like to go to the other country right away, because they would think we were not telling the truth, and it is just as well not to scatter your pearls before those who do not appreciate them, but I believe all of us are more and more having our affections set on things above, and having less and less attachment to things of this earth, and that we will be very glad when the Lord's time shall have come for us to pass beyond the veil to be forever with the Lord.

In the meantime there is a preparation to be made for that journey and that convention. You know you had some preparations to make to come to this one; you had various things you did not forget – your white dresses and many of you white waists, and so forth. Now, do not forget the great white robe that the Lord has already given us; that will be the great convention robe; no one will be permitted at that convention who does not have on that robe – the robe of Christ's righteousness, covering all our blemishes and imperfections; when we enter fully into that convention we won't have the robes, because the robes only last up to that time, but reckonedly beyond that time we have a different kind of a robe, as we see in the 45th Psalm: "The King's daughter is all glorious within; her clothing is of wrought gold. She shall be brought unto the King in raiment of fine needle work." In glorious raiment is the picture. We do not know exactly what that means, except it is a beautiful symbol of how grandly beautiful the church will be, when that which is imperfect now shall be made perfect, made like Him, see Him as He is, and share His glory; when that which is in part shall be done away, and that which is complete shall have come; when that which is sown in corruption shall have been raised in incorruption; when that which is sown in weakness shall have been raised in power – not needing to be covered continually with the Lord's imputed righteousness, but being perfect, in the image and likeness of God.

The picture also shows the virgins, her companions, that follow her, who must also be covered with this robe of righteousness. Then, you remember, there is some fine needle work to be done, and I hope that you and I and all of the Lord's people are giving great diligence to get ready those convention robes for the General Assembly by getting the fine needle work in. You know the Lord gave us the pattern. It is a good deal as it is with what is sold to be embroidered, where they stamp the pattern on the cloth, then you take it home and work out the pattern. So the Lord has given us our pattern of purity, meekness, gentleness, patience, love, and these are the flowers that are patterned upon our robes, and we are to hourly, daily, weekly, embroider them. It is not a work to be done in a moment, or a week; it takes time, and perseverance. You need patience in working out the pattern on this robe. The Lord wants people that not only start well, but keep it up; He wants to test us, and prove us; He wants those who have love and zeal. Then he will not be ashamed when we appear in His presence, but will hear His blessed words, "Well done, good and faithful servant, enter into the joys of the Lord."

As I look over your faces and think of the dear ones I have met here, I wonder how many of us will ever meet again. It is not at all probable we will ever meet again as a company, but I wonder how many of us are going to meet in the Kingdom. "Oh," some one will say, "you and I have no control of that; we cannot do anything about that." But the Lord says it is largely in our hands, dear friends – in your hands with respect to yourselves, and in mine with respect to myself; – not that you and I are sufficient of ourselves for these things, as our sufficiency is of Christ, but the matter of willing is with us.

I hope that the closing thought of this convention shall be that we are soldiers of Christ, and that we are going to be faithful to Him who called us out of darkness into His marvelous light; that by God's grace we may attain unto those glorious things which He has promised us; that we shall have faith in His promises, and therefore can trust in His loving care, and sing in the wilderness journey. Take that thought with you for the closing one, and also the text in Hebrews respecting the General Assembly of the First Born. Keep those thoughts to some extent before your minds, and whenever you think of the Asbury Park convention say "that is the time when I made another fresh resolve that, by the grace of God, I will be faithful to Him who was so faithful to me, and I will have more and more trust and confidence in Him and in His promises, rest myself in them, and not worry about them, but have the peace of God ruling in my heart more and more."

And may the peace of God indeed rule in our hearts, sanctify us, and make us meet for the inheritance of the saints in light.

"My Father Planned It All"
What though the way be lonely,
And dark the shadows fall;
I know where'er it leadeth,
My Father planned it all.

I'll sing through shade and sunshine,
And trust, whate'er befall;
His way is best, it leads to rest;
My Father planned it all.

The sun may shine tomorrow,
The shadows break and flee;
'Twill be the way He chooses,
The Father's plan for me.

He guides my halting footsteps
Along the narrow way,
For well He knows the pathway
Will lead to endless day.

A day of light and gladness,
On which no shade will fall,
'Tis this at last awaits me,
My Father planned it all.


The Secret of the Lord

PASTOR RUSSELL discoursed this morning from Psalm 25:14, "The Secret of the Lord is with Them that Fear (reverence) Him, and He will Show Them His Covenant." He considered first the proper and improper kinds of fear and then delved into the "secret." He said:

The emphasis of our text is upon the word "Him." "The secret of the Lord is with them that fear Him." Many other Scriptures agree with this, and assure us that "the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom." (Prov. 1:7). Other fears, however, are discountenanced among the Lord's people, who are exhorted to be of good courage and to fear not the fear of others, but to let the fear of the Lord be their only one. (Isa. 8:12-13.) The Scriptures not only declare that all other fears are tormenting, but assure us that the fear or reverence of the Lord is comforting and helpful and safe for us. And to these testimonies our experiences fully agree. We are repeatedly cautioned against the "fear of men, which bringeth a snare" (Prov. 29:25); and our Lord, emphasizing this matter, declared the reason for this to be that man can do no more at worst than take from us our present life, while on the other hand our hopes respecting eternal life are with God. (Matt. 10:26-28.) The world, by reason of sin and its binding effects, is more or less under the control of "the prince of this world," Satan, and more or less committed to principles of unrighteousness, iniquity, in thought and word and deed. On the other hand is the Divine covenant and law, and those who recognize these are to seek to think, speak and act so far as possible in accord with their spirit and intent. These, however, are the few addressed by our Savior, saying, "Fear not, little flock; it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the dominion." – Luke 12:32.

It is this little company of the Lord's consecrated ones that is addressed in our text as those who fear Him. Under present circumstances it is a question of whether we will fear the world or fear "Him." The Lord is, in a general way, believed in by all civilized people, but He is realized by but few – only a few recognize His real power and authority and their responsibility to Him. Consequently these few are, as respects the world in general "peculiar people," zealous of good works – zealous both for righteousness and for all the ways of the Lord as they see them. The majority of mankind, on the contrary, recognize the Lord but vaguely, and pay little heed to the spirit of His instruction, being governed more by the God of this world, by self-interest, by the ideas of the majority, by Mammon.

The Fear of Mammon

Remarking on this condition of things, our Lord forewarned us: "Ye cannot serve God and Mammon." (Matt. 5:24.) And since the majority are serving Mammon, fearing to displease Mammon, seeking to have the approval of Mammon and the emoluments paid by Mammon." (Matt. 6:31.) And since then only a few are properly fearing and serving the Lord and looking to Him for the honors and emoluments which He has promised to His faithful ones – not in the present life, but in the life to come. Mammon controls in business, leads in every social function, and manages all the finest churches and religious functions. Mammon is Confucian where Confucianism is in the ascendancy; it is Mohammedan where the followers of Mohammed are most numerous; it is Greek Catholic, Roman Catholic, Episcopal, Presbyterian, Methodist, etc., according to the locality and the influence. Mammon is too crafty, too wise, to be irreligious. It is well known that there is a religious element in human nature which must be satisfied with something, else the present order of things would collapse forthwith.

Thus seen, Mammon's empire is the world – mankind in general – and from this standpoint we can readily see the force of the statement that the fear of man bringeth a snare, for the fear of man is the fear of Mammon. To go contrary to Mammon's laws in any part of the world is like rowing against a strong tide – it is very wearisome to the flesh, and the progress is so small that were it not for the encouragements which lie beyond the present life none could endure the strain.

Our text tells us of the "secret" of the Lord being with those faithful ones who hearken to His Word, and have respect thereto, with reverence, fearing to such an extent to displease Him that they dare brave the opposition of the world. This secret is to this class the power of God working in them to will and to do His good pleasure, regardless of the sneers and disapproval of Mammon and his more or less blinded devotees. They must resolve first to be true to the Lord, to reverence Him rather than man and human institutions, and to trust to Him for the strength, the courage, to follow in the footsteps of the Lord Jesus, the great Leader whom He has appointed. After they have thus manifested their loyalty of will, of purpose, of intention, and after He has to some extent tried them – not suffering them to be tempted above that they are able, but with the temptation also providing ways of escape – He gradually makes known to them His "secret," which so illumines and transforms and strengthens them, and develops in them His spirit of perfect love, that His word is fulfilled in respect to them, namely, that "perfect love casteth out fear." Thus it is that those who have the fear of the Lord, and who are granted an understanding and appreciation of His secret, gradually lose all fear of man, and become more and more courageous, strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might, so that they are able to say in the words of inspiration, "I will not fear what man may do unto me."

"The Secret of the Lord"

We cannot hope to explain the "secret of the Lord" to any others than the class for whom it is intended; but since there is a measure of fear of the Lord in many hearts that have a still greater fear for Mammon and the opinion of the world, we may hope to be able to make clear the Lord's "secret" just in the same proportion that each of our hearers possesses the "fear of the Lord." Those who have a little fear of the Lord, a little of the proper reverence for Him, may understand a little about this secret, but they will be hindered from understanding much respecting it by their fear of Mammon, of sectarianism – the fear of man that bringeth a snare. These ensnaring fears will be continually suggesting to them that the way of the Lord is not agreeable to the flesh; that it is not popular with the world; that it would constitute them a peculiar people; that it would hinder them from sins and follies in which they are fond of indulging; that it would break their influence with many of their friends in Churchianity; that it would make them practical non-entities in the world; because, according to the worldly proverb, they "might as well be out of the world as out of fashion." Hearts thus ensnared cannot hope to see, understand and appreciate the secret of the Lord in any considerable measure; but in proportion as the fear or reverence of the Lord stands out boldly beyond all fear or reverence for man or human institutions, in that same proportion it is the privilege of each of us to appreciate and enjoy the "Secret of the Lord."

He Has Covenanted to Show Them

The latter part of our text is not the best translation of the original. The whole text should read, "The secret of the Lord is with them that fear Him, and He has covenanted to show it unto them." However, the translation makes no real difference in the matter, because the Lord's "Oath-bound Covenant," which we discussed this afternoon, is really the kernel or pith of this "Secret of the Lord." [CR10]

To some it may seem peculiar that the Scriptures should intimate that God has secrets – that some are privileged to understand the divine plan, while others are not so privileged. Such will perhaps say, Where is the revelation of God's secrets? Surely it is not in the Bible, for if it were in the Bible it would not be a secret, since the Bible is open, accessible to all the civilized world to-day. We answer that the Bible is accessible to all civilized men, but it is not open to all. To the majority even of professed Christians it is a sealed book, and to none more so than to the ministry. The Scriptures themselves so portray the matter, saying, "And the vision of all is become unto you that is learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee: and he saith, I cannot, for it is sealed. And the Book is delivered to one that is not learned, saying, Read this I pray thee: and he saith, I am not learned. Wherefore saith the Lord, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honor me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men. Therefore, I will proceed to do a marvelous work among this people, even a marvelous work and a wonder: for the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid." Isa. 29:1-14.

Our Lord spoke in the same strain at His first advent, saying respecting the humble ones whom He chose for His apostles, "I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent (scribes, Pharisees, Doctors of the Law), and hast revealed them unto babes: even so, Father, for thus it seemed good in thy sight." (Matt. 11:25-26.) At the first advent the Pharisees were too self-satisfied, pleased with their own theories, proud of their attainments, and boastful of their progress and of the divine favors enjoyed; the scribes were too learned to be associated with such as constituted the Lord's companions, and, besides, they were becoming more and more filled with the "higher criticism" views of the Greek philosophers; the Doctors of the Law were too proud and too pretentious. All of these were hindered from becoming the Lord's disciples and learning from Him the "Secret of the Lord," because they were all under the influence of Mammon – the great institution of their time which would condemn and ostracize all who would not support it. In an earthly way they had everything to lose and nothing to gain by becoming followers of the lowly one. On the contrary, those who did come to Jesus and became His disciples had very generally less to lose of an earthly kind, and hence were the more attracted by the future prospects which our Lord held out to them. From the worldly standpoint they were foolish babes to place so much reliance upon things unseen as yet and to measurably ignore the prospects and opportunities held out to them by Mammon in the present life.

"The Mystery Hid From Ages"

That which is spoken of in our text as "the secret of the Lord" is in the New Testament called the "mystery of God." The thought is the same, namely, that God – while revealing His plan through the law and the prophets in the Old Testament, and through the words of our Lord and the apostles in the New Testament – has so expressed the matter that it can be understood only by those who come properly into accord with the Lord – that fear Him. The worldly man in reading the Scriptures fails to understand His secret, and only those that fear and reverence Him to the extent of making a full consecration of their all to Him can comprehend it. The apostle clearly sets this forth in his letter to the Corinthians, saying, "Your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God...but we speak of the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden vision which God ordained before the world unto our honor, which none of the rulers of this world knoweth....As it is written, eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him; but God hath revealed them unto us by His spirit." – 1 Cor. 2:5-15.

St. Paul, speaking of this mystery or secret of the Lord, intended for His people, but not for the world nor for the merely nominal Christian, declares, "I am made a minister according to the dispensation of God, which is given to me for you, to fulfill the Word of God; even the mystery which hath been hidden from ages and generations, but now is made manifest to His saints." – Col. 1:25-29. Speaking of the church in the same strain, he continues, "That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love and in all riches and full assurance of understanding, that they may know the mystery of God, even Christ, in whom are all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge hidden." – Col. 2:2-3. Continuing along the same lines, he exhorts, "Withal praying also for us that God would open unto us a door of utterance to speak the mystery of Christ." – Col. 4:3. In his epistle to the Ephesians the apostle also speaks of this mystery, saying, that God's grace in Christ "hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence; having made known unto us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He hath purposed in Himself; that in the dispensation of the fulness of times He might gather together in one all things in Christ." Again in the same epistle he writes of God's favor to Himself, "That by revelation He made known unto me the mystery which in other ages was not made known to the sons of men as it is now revealed unto His holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit...to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God. – Eph. 1:9-10; 3:5-9.

St. John, the Revelator, speaking as the mouthpiece of the glorified Lord, tells us of this mystery also (Rev. 10:7), saying, "In the days of the sounding of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound, the mystery of God shall be finished, as He hath declared to His servants the prophets." Thus we see that the mystery has been in operation from the beginning of the world and is still a mystery so far as the world is concerned, and will continue to be a mystery until the end of the present dispensation and the opening of the millennial age, the only exception being the revelation of the mystery granted to the saints – to those who are fully consecrated to the Lord, the class mentioned in our text, "The secret of the Lord is with them that fear Him; he has covenanted to show it unto them."

He That Hath an Ear Let Him Hear

It was for this reason that our Lord spake in parables and in dark sayings that are not yet understood by the world, neither appreciated by any except the few, His "little flock," the consecrated. Thus it is written, "All these things spake Jesus unto the multitudes in parables, and without a parable spake He not unto them; that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, I will open my mouth in parables; I will utter things which have been kept secret from the foundation of the world." (Matt. 13:34-35.) The apostles came unto Jesus privately, saying, Lord, declare unto us this parable; and Jesus said unto them, "To you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without (outsiders ensnared by the fear of men) all these things are done in parables: that seeing they might see and not perceive, and hearing they might hear and not understand." (Mark 4:11-12.)

Now, dear friends, we will do our best to make plain this secret, this mystery, hidden from ages and dispensations, remembering, however, that only in proportion as our hearers have ears to hear can we succeed, only in proportion as the fear of God predominates over the fear of man: only in proportion as perfect love casts out the fear of man and makes us truly freemen in Christ Jesus – only in that proportion can we hope that our message on this subject will be understood and appreciated. [CR11] From our Lord's words and from the Apostle Paul's words already quoted, the mystery is uncovered to those who have the eyes of their understanding opened and the ears of their hearts unstopped. It is the message of the coming kingdom – the message of the "Oath-bound Covenant" discussed this afternoon.

This message explains all the difficulties and perplexities which have hitherto confused us. It shows us how sin entered into the world through Adam's disobedience, how death has been the penalty of that sin, resting upon the whole race of Adam, degrading us mentally, morally and physically to the tomb. It tells us of God's love for us while we were yet sinners, which led to His sending His Son to be our redemption price, "that we might live through Him" – that we might be recovered from death through Him. It shows us that Christ Jesus by the grace of God tasted death not merely for a few, but for every man; and that not merely a few, but every man shall have a resultant blessing from that great sacrifice for sins, and a full and fair opportunity for returning in heart to the Lord and for receiving back again all that was lost through Adam's disobedience, with superadded blessings and everlasting life if obedient. It shows us that this one purpose of God to eradicate sin from the world, and to utterly destroy all who will not come into accord with His righteous arrangements, has never been changed; and although the time for the accomplishment of these promises seems long to us, it is not really long from the standpoint of Him with whom a "thousand years are as one day." It shows us that in the dawning of the seventh day of the Lord, the millennial day – at the close of man's 6,000 years – these blessings are to be realized by the world through the establishing of a glorious kingdom of God under the whole heavens, which will enforce righteousness and shower blessings upon every creature.

"Church's Identity With Mystery"

The unfolding of the mystery shows further that during the Jewish age God dealt with the house of Israel as a typical people, giving them a typical law, a typical "Day of Atonement," typical sacrifices, shadowy promises and during that period selected a few faithful souls from that Nation to be His special servants in the earth during the millennial age. These are particularly described by the Apostle in Hebrews 11, all of whom "having obtained a good report through faith received not the (blessings) promised." (Verse 39.) It reveals to us further the Lord's object in respect to the promulgation of the Gospel during the period since our Lord's death, namely, that the preaching of this mystery to the Lord's consecrated people who fear Him has been with a view to selecting a little flock from among all kindreds, peoples and tongues, to be Christ's bride and joint heir in the kingdom, to be associated with Him as members of the seed of Abraham for the blessing of all the families of the earth. The Apostle's words, we recall, are very explicit on this subject. He declares, "If ye are Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed and heirs according to the promise." – Gal. 3:29.

Not only is the message itself called a mystery, but the church class, the "little flock," now being selected from the world, is Scripturally designated "the Mystery of God," and the false systems "the Mystery of Iniquity." "The Mystery of God" is the class associated in the divine plan, and, therefore, a part of that which is mystery or mysterious to the world. As the Apostle declares, "The world knoweth us not, even as it knew Him not." The secret of the Lord is with this class. It is their joy, their strength; it is the power of God working in them to will and do His pleasure. The more they comprehend this mystery the more of this power of God do they possess, and progress in the mystery implies progress in obedience and reverence and service. These in turn mean progress in the graces of God, as the Apostle, explaining and speaking of our advancement as Christians, says, "I pray God for you that the eyes of your understanding being opened (gradually as we lose the fear of man and increase in our reverence for God) you may be able to comprehend with all saints the lengths and breadths and heights and depths (of the mystery), and to know the love of God which passeth all understanding. – Eph. 3:18-19.

The Church as a Secret Society

From the foregoing it will be discerned that the Lord's saints constitute the most exclusive and most secret society on earth. No one can be fully inducted into this society and its mysteries except as the reverence of the Lord abounds in his heart, and as he becomes free from human bondage, sectarian bondage – free in the liberty wherewith Christ makes free indeed those who are truly His. This secret society needs not to hide its books, neither to withhold its secrets, neither to speak quietly, for while telling the good tidings of great joy to all people, the limitations are upon those who hear – for none can hear the secret of the Lord; none can understand this mystery, except in proportion as he has reverenced the Lord and His Word and made a consecration of himself thereto.

I wonder how many of my audience this morning are members of this society? How many are able to comprehend with all saints the lengths and breadths and depths of the Divine plan? I am sure that all such have love for the brethren in their participation in the fellowship of this mystery. I am sure that all such have the hopes set before us in this mystery as an anchor sure and steadfast, entering into that which is within the veil I am sure that all such realize that the blessings and favors thus conferred upon us no man can take from us, and that they shall continue to be ours so long as we shall continue to have fellowship in this mystery, which is: "Christ in you, the hope of glory." – Col. 1:27.

I wonder further how many of you are still blinded in greater or lesser degree by the god of this world and the creeds of the dark ages which he assisted in formulating, and has since fostered, so that you are unable to appreciate what we have just been saying respecting the mystery of God. I wonder how many such are desiring to have the eye-salve of truth, which our Lord specially commended to this Laodicean stage of the Church, saying, "I counsel thee to buy of Me eye-salve to anoint thine eyes that thou mayest see." (Rev. 3:17-18.) The eye-salve must be bought by the individual who desires to use it; it cannot be bought by one for another; even as we cannot have experiences one for another. The cost of eye-salve is the spirit of self-sacrifice – the willingness to make a full consecration of ourselves to the Lord. Our Lord expresses the matter thus, saying, "He that doeth the will of My Father which is in Heaven, he shall know of My doctrine." Whosoever will resolve that he will no longer fear man, neither be in subjection to the creeds of the dark ages, but that he will accept the Lord as his Shepherd and be a true sheep, and listen only for the voice of His Word, and walk only in accordance to the directions of that Word, fearing God and not fearing man – he shall be blessed. "The secret of the Lord is with them that fear Him; He hath covenanted to show it unto them."

I trust, dear friends, that some who have heretofore felt indifferent respecting the Divine plan – the mystery of God kept secret from the world, intended only for them that fear Him – may become so deeply interested, so desirous of co-operating with the Lord in their hearts in their thoughts, in their words, in their actions, that they will make full consecration of themselves to Him. Just now is the moment to make this resolve, accepting the grace of God and the forgiveness of sins through faith in the blood of Jesus, and at once starting on the way to a clearer comprehension of the mystery, and ultimately to a participation in some part of the glorious work which the Lord is preparing us for. From this standpoint we realize that the great work of God is future; that our special work in the present time is to be the Lord's witnesses before men, to endure hardness as good soldiers, to crystallize character, to learn obedience by the things which we experience, and to be squared and fitted and polished, and thus made meet for participation in the glories of the Kingdom, and for usefulness as members of it in the blessing of all the earth in the millennial age, and for the enjoyment of our Heavenly Father's favor to all eternity.