"Give diligence, Brethren, to Make Your Calling and Election sure." – 2 Pet. 1:10

Throughout the length and breadth of this land of liberty, young and old understand full well the significance of election. Councilmen, aldermen, mayors of cities, county officials, State officials, United States Congressmen, Senators, the President and Vice-President are chosen or elected from amongst the people to their various official stations. They are chosen with a view to the blessing that will accrue to the electors by the exercise of their official positions. How strange, then, that we who are so familiar with these things should read into our text so very different a view of election!

The thought should naturally suggest itself to us that if God is electing or selecting a Church in the present time, it must be with a view to the use of that Church subsequently to serve in some manner the interests of the remainder of the world, from amongst whom they were elected. And this is just what the Scriptures teach; namely, that Christ Jesus himself is the Head, the Captain, the Chief Ruler, and that this "elect" company are, figuratively speaking, his "members," his associates, his under-priesthood. The Scriptures tell us that this selection is according to Divine foreknowledge and foreordination. They tell w that God foreknew our Lord Jesus as the one who would occupy the glorious position of Prophet, Priest, Mediator and king of the world during the Millennium. They tell us also that the same God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ foreknew us also and "predestinated" that there should be a Church class selected from amongst the world, to be their Redeemer's associate, his under-priesthood, his subordinate kings during the Millennium.


The Church is spoken of as God's "elect" now, before the election has been finished; before the testing is completed; before the called have been proven faithful and worthy. These are "elect" in the sense of having been nominated – "moved and seconded." God moved that they should be elected, and "called them with a heavenly calling." It remained for the called ones themselves to "second the motion" by presenting themselves in full consecration of heart to the Lord.

But this was not sufficient; for the invited ones were recognized as imperfect and unable to come up to the requirements of the call. Hence it was necessary that the Lord Jesus Christ should become their surety and agree out of his own fulness of merit to supply all of their lack, their imperfection. And this he gladly does by applying for such the merit of his sin-atonement-sacrifice finished at Calvary.


Keeping before our minds that the heavenly Father made the motion or the call, that we seconded it by accepting the call upon its terms of faith and consecration unto death, and that our Lord Jesus is our surety who will make good our unintentional blemishes, what shall we say of the prospects of our being elected and at whose door shall we lay the responsibility if we are not elected? Surely the unchangeable God who nominated us has made every provision for our election and will co-operate. Surely our Redeemer, our Surety, our Advocate, will give us every assistance in the way and, according to his promise, cause all things to work together for our good. Just as surely, therefore, the entire responsibility for failure would lie at our door. And this is what St. Peter in our text declares "Make your calling and election sure."

From this standpoint we have special interest in our own election, such as we never had before when we misunderstood the entire matter. Once in our ignorance we thought that St. Peter had written foolishly about our making the election sure; for according to the erroneous theory which we had "swallowed" without proper mastication, God was doing all the electing himself, and had unalterably fixed our destiny as eternal glory or eternal suffering, long centuries before we were born.

This erroneous view blinded our mental sight from all the various incentives which now are so precious and so helpful. What had God elected us to be and to do? To sit upon a cloud and to play upon a harp and to sing to all eternity, cheerfully looking over the battlements of heaven to see our dear friends writhing in torment – and striving hard to praise God for it all and to think of his course in our election and their damnation as the exemplification of Justice and of Love?

We read indeed in the Scriptures respecting a Kingdom, for which our lord taught us to pray, "Thy Kingdom come; thy will be done in earth as it is done in heaven," yet the thraldom of error upon. us was so tense that we recognized not the inconsistency between these promises and our false hopes. Now, thank God, "the mystery" is revealed to us in God's Word and by [HG446] his Spirit, and we perceive that the Millennial Kingdom is to be a reality and that its blessing to mankind in general, "to all the families of the earth," is to be most thorough, most systematic, most complete, and in the end entirely satisfactory.


What an interest we properly take in this matter of our election, after learning that the of lice for which we are running is a combination of priesthood and kingship The elect are to be priestly kings, or, otherwise styled, "a Royal Priesthood."

Their glorious service is to be for a period of one thousand years, during which they will be kings and priests unto God and will reign on the earth (Rev. 20:4.)

They will not "reign on the earth" in the sense of being earthly beings, having earthly courts and thrones; their resurrection "change" will constitute them heavenly or spirit beings; they will be invisible to mankind, as now the "Prince of this world" is invisible and as the holy angels are invisible. But they will possess heavenly power and authority and wisdom and grace. By these glorious attributes they will be able to serve God and humanity by a reign of righteousness, whose uplifting or restitution influences (Acts 3:21) will begin with the living generations, but eventually extend to "all the families of the earth," who have been going down for the past six thousand years into the great prison-house of death – "prisoners of hope," however, because of the promise of God's Word and the redemption sacrifice of Jesus.

My beloved hearers, if your hearts are not moved by this message of God's grace and this information respecting his Kingdom and of your prospects of becoming kings and priests in that Kingdom' it is because you do not believe the message – because your faith does not properly grasp the "exceeding great and precious promises" of God's Word (2 Pet. 1:4). I am aware that his whole message by Jesus and his apostles has been so long covered by the rubbish of "the dark ages" that it was lost to our sight for a long while, and sadly we missed its encouragement to faithfulness. I am glad, however, that now our eyes of understanding are opening to see the length and breadth and height and depth in the great Divine Plan of the Ages.


Consider for a moment what fabulous prices have been paid for earthly crownsl Thousands of lives have been sacrificed and millions of money, to gain an earthly crown. And thousands who paid this price knew well that "uneasy rests the head which wears the crown." They knew well, too, that its tenure would be precarious and that the attainment of it would bring them lasting hatred from others who aspired to the same position and who considered that their right to it was as good or better.

What comparison should we institute as between the value of such a crown and the "crown of glory," honor and immortality which God has promised to his elect – to such of them as make their calling and their election surer Has God placed too high a valuation upon the heavenly crown, in demanding that those who would share it with the Redeemer must prove their loyalty to him and to the principles of righteousness, and to the spirit of love, to the extent of laying down their lives in his service and in "doing good unto all men as they have opportunity, especially to the household of faith"?

Our Lord asked wherein would be the profit to any man if he were to gain the whole world and lose his own soul – lose his future life. For the purpose of our present topic we might ask a modified question, namely: If one should gain the empire of the whole world and all of its riches, and if another should gain this heavenly election to the heavenly Kingdom of one thousand years and to subsequent eternal blessings with the Lord, which of these would choose the better part – which would show the real wisdom, and which would be the foolish one? But the contrast increases when we note that the dominion of earth cannot be secured by our sailing through bloody seas, and that a mere competency of earthly wealth is attained by only one of a thousand who strive for it day and night.

Surely from the standpoint of the Father's Word all earthly honors are vanities, in comparison with the heavenly glories and blessings which may be surely attained by the "called" of this Gospel Age – if they will but follow the Divine directions.


In our context St. Peter tells us upon what terms the called and accepted may make their election sure. After calling our attention to God's exceeding great and precious promises he tells us that they were given us to the intent that they should operate in our minds so as to influence our lives, in harmony with the Divine will, and that thus we may "become partakers of the divine nature' after having escaped the corruption that is in the world through desire," – selfishness, lust (verse 4). He proceeds to amplify, and urges that such as have its hope shall give all diligence to the matter of adding to their faith virtue or fortitude. That is to say, [HG447] faith of itself is very good as a start, but God requires more than this. As a condition of our acceptance for election he requires that our faith shall be of a strong kind, giving us fortitude for all of life's affairs; for all of our covenants with the Lord; for a faithful endurance of opposition, contradiction, etc., that thus we might be copies of our Lord Jesus Christ, as God has ordained all of "the elect" must be (Rom. 8:29).

Not only must we have a strong faith combined with fortitude, but we must also add "knowledge." We required some knowledge of God and of our Lord Jesus and of the Gospel message before we could come unto the Lord at all, but the Apostle is not referring to this, our earliest knowledge. He is addressing Christians who have already taken the first steps. He assures us that they need knowledge to enable them to go onward in Christian development – knowledge in addition to their faith and fortitude. We have nothing to say against worldly knowledge, scientific knowledge, etc., when these do not cross or interfere with the Divine Revelation, but we are confident that the Apostle did not intend to refer to worldly knowledge, but to the greatest of all scientific knowledge – the knowledge of God.

How shall we know God? By study of his character. Our Lord Jesus it was who declared, "This is life eternal, that they might know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent" (John 17:3). This knowledge at the present time is a secret knowledge and, as the Apostle says, a "hidden mystery," which can be known only by those who put themselves into a certain attitude of heart and mind and conduct toward the Lord and his revelation. We are to study God's character – to learn respecting his Justice, his Wisdom, his Love and his Power, by studying his revelations – the Bible. In it we see his dealings past, and his promises respecting his dealings future. And a correct appreciation of these gives us a knowledge of God's character as exemplified therein. But since this knowledge is not stated in terms for the world to understand, it follows that only those in proper condition of heart and enlightened by the holy Spirit can receive this knowledge.

It is taught only to the pupils in the School of Christ. "The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him; and he will show them his Covenant."


The Apostle continues his advice as to things necessary to be added by those who would make their calling and election sure. They must keep adding, and the adding must be little by little and day by day. The knowledge we gain of God through his Word should lead us to greater moderation (translated, temperance, in our common version). "Let your moderation be known unto all men" (Philip. 4:5), moderation or balance in thought, in word, in action. God's people may be called extremists by those who are not begotten of the holy Spirit and who know not "the mystery." But even they should be able to charge immoderation only on the one score – our immoderation, our faithfulness to the Word of the Lord and to our covenant of self sacrifice as followers in the footsteps of Jesus. Our lives should be so moderate as respects business and pleasure and food and raiment, etc., that we should be examples of wisdom and moderation to all – extremists only along the same lines that Jesus and the Apostles were counted extremists by those who knew not, neither did understand "the mystery" of their endeavor to be of "the very elect."

Patience must not be forgotten. In addition to moderation, "Let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing." Next add godlikeness – general goodness, benevolence, benignity toward all. Add next brotherly kindness – in the natural family relationship, and also in the spiritual family, the Church. "Love as brethren" (ought to love). "We ought also to lay down our lives for the brethren." Still further the Apostle urges that while all of the foregoing are elements of love we super-add love itself in the fullest sense toward the Lord, toward the brethren, toward humanity, toward the brute creation and toward our enemies. While all of these cannot be loved in the same degree, all should profit by the spirit of love in our hearts for all.


Now comes the climax of the advice to those seeking to make their calling and election sure (verse 8). "If these things be in you and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ." And then, as our text declares, if these things abound and if we give diligence to the making sure of our calling and election and do these things, we shall never fail – we shall in no case fail of securing our election. God seeketh such for joint-heirship with their Redeemer in the Kingdom. God "seeketh such to worship him as worship him in spirit and in truth."

The grand consummation of our election – our Kingdom honors and glories – is specifically referred to by St. Peter in the next verse, saying, "For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting Kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ." If, dear Brethren, we believe these things, let us permit them to control our lives – our words, our deeds and our thoughts.



This article can be found in its entirety in the question section of Old Theology Quarterly, No. 24.


This article was republished in Reprints R1877-79 – October 15, 1895, entitled, "The Hope of Immortality."


"The King's Daughter Is All Glorious Within; Her Clothing Is of Wrought Gold. She Shad Be Brought Unto the King in Raiment of Fine Needlework." Psa. 45:13, 14

Our text poetically and pictorially draws our attention to one of those beautiful figures by which the close and dear relationship between Christ and His Elect Church is Scripturally portrayed. Whether it be the figure of the Captain and his Soldiers, the Shepherd and his Sheep, the Master and his Servants, the Head and the Body members, or the Bridegroom and the Bride, each illustration of our Lord's relationship to the church carries its own important lesson.

But surely none of them is more important or more beautiful than the one we are now considering – our Lord, the King's Son, highly exalted to Jehovah's right hand on the Throne, and the Church in glory, his Queen and joint-heir with him in his Millennial Kingdom soon to be established.

The study of these pictures of heavenly things is intended to lift the minds of the "new creation," God's spiritual sons, from things earthly and sensual to the things eternal, which eye hath not seen nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man the things which God hath in reservation for them that love him supremely – 1 Cor. 2:9.

The preceding verses of the Psalm describe the grandeur of the Heavenly Bridegroom – that in his earthly life he was fairer than the children of men; that Divine grace was poured from his lips, and that the Father, because of his faithfulness, greatly blessed and exalted him. Next it tells of the inauguration of his Millennial Kingdom at his second advent, when as the Mighty One he will come forth in glory and majesty, conquering Satan, sin and death.

We are assured that prosperity will attend and truth, mercy and righteousness will be established in the earth, even though it be accomplished by a great time of trouble. His arrows of Divine truth are represented as piercing all of his opponents to the heart, even as the Apostle's words on the Day of Pentecost pricked his hearers and cut them to the heart and led them to cry out, "What must we do to be saved!"

Thus will the people fall before the rising Kingdom of Righteousness. Every knee must bend and every tongue confess. All who will decline to do so under those favorable conditions of full knowledge will be utterly "destroyed from amongst the people." (Acts 3:23.) Then the declaration is made, "Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever; the scepter of thy Kingdom is a right scepter. God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows."


The picture is in the future. At the present time the Church is not the Queen, not the Bride' not in the glorious garments; she is merely the "espoused virgin," called to Brideship. At present she is in her body of humiliation, or "vile body," according to the statement of our Common Version. But she shall be "changed" in the First Resurrection, and thereafter be the "Glorious Body'" the Glorious Bride. (Philip. 3:21)

Now she is a mixed company of both wise and foolish virgins, and many "strangers" commingle, who are not [HG449] virgins at all. The testing time is not yet finished. It is not yet fully determined which, by faithfulness, will make their calling and election sure to a place in the Bride class, and which will constitute the virgins, her companions, that follow her – mentioned in verse 14.

We cannot wonder that some refuse to believe that so great an honor has been provided for the "elect" Church. It is almost too wonderful that this, which the Apostle terms "our high calling," and "our heavenly calling," is an invitation for us to step, not only out of sin, but from the earthly plane of being, a little lower than the angels, principalities and powers, to the divine nature. Yet here are the Apostle's words, and what else can we make of them? He tells us that God has given unto us "exceeding great and precious promises, that by these we might become partakers of the divine nature." (2 Pet. 1:4) It is proper for the Lord's people to accept these great things with that simplicity which the Scriptures tell us is best illustrated in a "little child" – "nothing doubting." Says St. Paul:" He who hath freely given us Christ, shall he not with him also freely give us all things?"

"Beloved, now are we the sons of God [even in our imperfect condition], but it does not yet appear what we shall be [how glorious]; but we know that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is." (1 John 3:2) To be with him, to share his glory to be like him, who is the express image of the Father's person, is the highest possible conception we can have of the glorious things which God hath in reservation for them that love him supremely.


Look again at the Queen and her glorious apparel. Notice the pure linen, clean and white, representative of her purity and righteousness. Remember that she was once of the world, her members "children of wrath, even as others." Remember that by faith she accepted the merit of her Redeemer's sacrifice and thus she was reckonedly covered with his robe of righteousness, which the world saw not, but which the heavenly Father regarded. Remember, that it was because of that robe covering her natural blemishes that she was permitted to consecrate herself and to become the espoused virgin of her Anointed Redeemer and prospectively his joint-heir in the Kingdom. How wonderful these steps of grace! Looking but a little way into the future, we behold her clothed, not with an imputed robe of righteousness, but with her own robe of righteousness. The imputed one was hers to wear up to the time of her change from earthly to spiritual nature in the First Resurrection. Then and there perfected, it became actual. On the spirit plane she becomes righteous without spot, without blemish, a suitable companion and joint-heir for the great King of Glory.

But look more closely. Note that the robe of fine linen is beautifully embroidered – "fine needlework." This, too, must have significance.. The embroidered figures represent the graces of the Spirit, meekness, gentleness, patience, long suffering, brotherly kindness, love. Ah, yes, the Queen indeed is all-glorious within and without. The power of the Lord will accomplish this. She is his workmanship, though not without her own willingness and cooperation. The Lord's operation upon her will be through his Word and by his Spirit; and in proportion as she yields herself thereto she is now being "changed from glory to glory," and, by the final change, will be perfected, glorified.

We noted a difference between the imputed robe which the betrothed wears now and the one which she will possess when changed – that the present one is Christ's imputed robe covering her blemishes, and that the glorious one of the future will be her own righteousness, "the righteousness of the saints." Let us notice also that there is an embroidery connected with them both. The robe that is now imputed to us has stamped upon it the gracious designs or patterns which our Lord would inculcate and which he assures us will be advantageous to us, pleasing to him and necessary to our future glory.

Our appreciation of our high calling, our faith in it, and our love for the heavenly Bridegroom and desire to be pleasing to him are the incentives to us, urging us to spend every hour, every moment possible, in the working out of the glorious embroidery designs stamped upon our robe. Each stitch must be taken carefully – painstakingly. Each feature of the outline must be carefully studied. The robe itself must be kept clean, spotless. Who is sufficient for these things? Surely only those truly betrothed to the heavenly King, and who love him with all their hearts, and who are waiting in faith and patience for his promised Second Coming to receive the Bride unto himself and to establish his Kingdom for the blessing and uplifting of the world!


St. Paul tells of this embroidery work, the adding of stitch to stitch in its development, saying:" 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 to us." [HG450] (Rom. 5:3-5). St. Peter says:" Add to your faith, virtue; and to virtue, knowledge; and to knowledge, temperance; and to temperance, patience; and to patience, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love.

For if these things be in you and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ; for so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting Kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. (2 Pet. 1:5-11).

When we think of the imperfection of our very best endeavors along the lines of this embroidery work, this development of the graces of the Holy Spirit, we ask ourselves, "Whose garment would be fit to wear in the presence of the Father and of the holy angels?" The answer is, "None of them." It is in harmony with this that we see that the Lord has provided something different. He allows us to practice upon our robe of imputed righteousness, but the new robe which he will give us as our own will be absolutely perfect, as well as glorious.

There will be no flaw in the embroidery. How so? Because that glorious dress of perfect righteousness will be given only to those who have earnestly desired it, however short of it were their best endeavors. Inasmuch as their hearts were perfect, inasmuch as their endeavors were for perfection, the Lord will accept the heart and its endeavors, and grant that the new bodies shall possess to full perfection all these glorious traits and qualities which were the Bride's ideal and endeavor in her betrothed condition, when she practiced upon the imputed robe.

So in the Psalm under consideration; the Prophet says, "Hearken, O daughter and consider and incline shine ear." The world says, "Look, see, and be attracted by the things of this present time." The Lord says "Hearken, consider that the present life, at the very most; is brief and that in the Lord's providence, under our call, we have an opportunity to sacrifice it and thus to gain the highest of all blessings in the eternal life of the future."

The "foolish virgins" do not hearken enough to the voice from heaven, to the words of Jesus, the Apostles and Prophets. They are more or less absorbed with the cares of this life, the deceitfulness of riches, and thus do not fully please the Lord, even though, because of loyalty to him, he will by and by give them a good portion. The "wise virgins" who will constitute the elect, the Bride in glory, do hearken, do consider and are guided by the counsel from on high, and press with vigor on in the narrow way of self-sacrifice, which leads to the Kingdom glory.


The Psalmist proceeds, "So shall the King greatly desire thy beauty, for he is thy Lord and worship thou him." Ah! there is the thought. If we rightly admire the King; if we rightly appreciate the wonderful privileges granted us of being now his espoused, as under his loving protection and provision, and by and by his bride and joint-heir in glory; if we appreciate these things, surely all earthly things and interests will necessarily fade, because of their comparative insignificance.

And these are the terms upon which the King will desire us as members of his glorious bride. He will not consign us to demons and eternal torment, if we fail to rightly appreciate this situation, and, while not repudiating his love and grace, give a portion of our love to our father's house and our own people, the world; but he will not choose us as members of his bride class, unless this condition of full consecration to him be the attitude of our hearts. Surely this is not unreasonable.

Had we been called even from the ranks of the highest order of angels to be joint-heirs with the King of glory, the honor conferred would have been so great as to merit an undivided love, devotion. Surely, then, we, redeemed by his precious blood from our fallen, sinful state, and then invited to share his glory on the divine plane, should be so enthused, so filled with appreciation of the honor proffered, that we would gladly, willingly, voluntarily, lay aside every earthly weight and interest and strive with patience and loving devotion to attain the prize of the high calling set before us of joint-heirship with the King of kings and Lord of lords.

"The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord: and he delighteth in His way." Psa. 37:23.

"It is the source of weakness in many of the Lord's people that they do not properly grasp by faith this and similar promises; for only in proportion as they have this faith and grasp these promises can they be buoyed up by this, and be encouraged to press along the line for the mark." R3157, c. 1, p. 1.


This article was republished in Reprint 4658 – August 1, 1910, entitled, "The Camel and the Needle's Eye."


"This article can be found in its entirety in the Newspaper Sermons, entitled, "Flies in the Ointment Change the Odor Thereof."


This article was republished in Reprints 1123-27 – July, 1889, entitled, "Calamities – Why Permitted."


"Brethren I count not myself to have apprehended; but this one thing I do, forgetting those things that are behold and reaching forth to those things that are before I press down upon the Mark for the price of the high calling in Christ Jesus." Philip. 3:13, 14

We are glad – that, by the grace of God, we have been delivered from the terrible nightmare of eternal torment which for so many of us for years darkened our understanding of the Divine purposes set before us in the Bible. We are glad, not merely for our own sakes, but for the world of mankind, that we now see that the wilful rejectors of Divine Love and its provision will die the Second Death, perish, "Be as though they had not been." We are glad that the Apostle so explicitly stated this, saying, "Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction" – a destruction from which there shall be no redemption, no recovery, no resurrection. 2 Thess. 1:9

But it is not enough for us to know that our Creator has no fiendish intentions towards us. Rather this knowledge of the mercy and love of God should draw our hearts to him and incline us to love him in return, and to seek to do those things which would please God, and which incidentally would bring to us, according to his arrangement, the highest amount of favor and blessing. This also is the Apostle's suggestion, saying, "Not that we first loved God, but that he first loved us, and sent his Son to be a satisfaction for our sins." (1 John 4:10) And again, "The love of Christ constraineth us, for we thus judge that we henceforth live not unto ourselves, but unto him who died for us." 2 Cor. 5:14, 15

Our text addresses those who have responded to God's love, and who have become "followers of God, as dear children," followers of the Redeemer, "walking in torment which for so many of us for years darkened his footsteps," as he hath set us an example. Notice the statement, "I count not myself to have apprehended" – to have grasped or taken possession of. In the preceding verse the Apostle tells us that the Lord apprehended him – laid hold upon him, when he was in a hopeless condition. He laid hold upon Saul because he was honest-hearted, even while wrong headed. He opened Saul's eyes and gave him a helping hand out of his condition as a wanderer from God and a member of the fallen race. He offered to keep hold of him and to lead him, if he were willing, to exceeding glory and the divine nature, though the way would be a narrow and difficult and self-sacrificing one – impossible for all except those who at heart love the Lord and desire to avail themselves of the Lord's assisting grace.

Note that the Apostle had not laid hold upon our Lord, but reversely the Lord had laid hold upon him, and had opened his eyes of understanding to discern the prize of the high calling, promising everything in the way of assistance and [HG452] grace, if he continued sincerely earnest in his endeavor to grasp that prize, to lay hold upon it, to apprehend it.


It is a mistake to suppose that the Apostles and the early Church were called with any different calling or privilege from that which appertains to the entire Gospel Age. It is a mistake to suppose that the Scriptures recognize a clerical class and laity in the Church, and that the terms and conditions and narrow way and sacrifices and crown of glory at the end were intended only for the clergy. On the contrary the Scriptures assure us that the Church as a whole is a Royal Priesthood and that each faithful one is to be a sharer in the work of sacrificing, as well as in the coming glory of the Millennial Kingdom.

In order to understand what the Apostle meant by forgetting the things behind, let us note the context preceding and apply it individually, each to himself. St. Paul had been accused of disrespect to the Jewish Law of Circumcision, because he pointed out that it was not intended for nor necessary to the Gentiles – because he pointed out that it was merely a type of the cutting off or putting away of the filth of the flesh from our minds and hearts. But "circumcision of the heart" has in the Church taken the place of circumcision of the flesh commanded to the Jewish Church, whose day passed with Pentecost. The Apostle proceeds to show that if he chose to boast of his zeal for the Law, he would have as much to say for himself as could any Jew. But he declares that those things which he had before counted as gain, as something to be boastful of, as something to glory in, he now counted as loss and dross for the privilege of having a share with Christ in the sufferings of this present time, and by and by a share in his glorious Millennial Kingdom. He was willing to count everything of his previous hopes and ambitions as "loss and dross," as unworthy of the slightest notice, because of the knowledge he had gained of Jesus as the Messiah, and because of the privilege that had come to him of being a follower of Jesus, in his footsteps of suffering in the present life and in joint-heirship with him in the glories of the future. These earthly things behind he was daily losing sight of, and hoped might never again have a place in his heart and ambitions, which were now turned in another direction entirely. And so, dear friends should it be with us.


The Apostle, at the time he wrote these words, was far from ignorant of his Saviour, but intimates that the more he knew, the more he realized the length and breadth and height and depth of the love of God, "manifested in Jesus." He wanted to know him more and more. He wanted that intimate heart communion and fellowship which would enable him to take the Lord's view of every incident and experience of life, that thus he might be the partaker of the sufferings of Christ, and bearer of the cross of Christ daily. Nor was this the end of his ambitions. Beyond this, having heard of the Father's intention that all believers who would become "copies of his Son" should be sharers with him in his glorious nature and Kingdom, the Apostle was anxious to know the Lord to the full and to enter with him into the heavenly glory. That was the prize set before him in the Gospel of Messiah, which had changed his whole life current, so that those whom he once despised and persecuted he now loved and served; so that the things he used to enjoy were now repulsive, and the things he once disdained now filled his heart and enthused him and occupied his time and energy. The things before him were so glorious that the things behind, which once seemed grand, now seemed puny, insignificant, dross.

What he saw before him he tells us. He calls it the "prize" and says that it is to be attained only by believers – and then only through consecration unto death. More than this, they would need a resurrection before they could enter into those glories; not such a resurrection as will be made possible to the remainder of Adam's race, but a special resurrection, called elsewhere the "First (chief) Resurrection." The Apostle here speaks of this resurrection, in which himself and all the faithful of the elect Church shall share as being a part of "His (Christ's) Resurrection." What can he mean? Was the resurrection of our Lord different from that which will come to mankind in general? Yes, indeedl Mankind in general will be privileged to be resurrected, raised up, not only out of the tomb to such a condition as is now enjoyed, but beyond this, gradually, during the Millennium, to be raised up, up, up to human perfection – to all that was lost in Adam and redeemed by Christ through his obedience even unto death, the death of the cross. But Christ's resurrection was different from that of the world. And the resurrection of the Church, "Which is his Body," will be like his, different from that provided for the world in general. (Eph. 1:23) This resurrection of "The Christ Jesus the Head and the Church, his Body]" the Apostle describes minutely in 1 Cor. 15:42-49.

He here speaks of the "First Resurrection," "His Resurrection," as" The Resurrection" of the special [HG453] and peculiar class of the dead – "The dead in Christ" – those who lay down their lives in sacrificial service, as members of Christ. Note the Apostle's words, "If by any means I might attain unto THE resurrection of THE dead." (Philip. 3:11) To attain this glorious resurrection, provided only for the spirit begotten members of the Anointed, he was glad to have fellowship in the sufferings of Christ and to conform to his experiences so as to have share in his death. Is it so with us, dear brethren and sisters? Are we thus in earnest? Does the prize of the Divine calling thus shine before the eyes of our understanding, making every other ambition insignificant dross in comparison?"


Ah! this was the secret of the Apostle's great success – "This one thing I do." He concentrated his time, his thought, his energy, upon this one object or goal, which proved the brighter and more valuable to his appreciation every hour. True, there were ordinary things of life, such as eating and drinking and resting and, at one time, tent-making, which occupied some of his hours. But these were not paramount, were not dominating. He aspired, not to be known as the greatest or most expert tent-maker. He aspired not to amass great wealth in that or any other labor or business. He lived not for his belly, nor did he, as a sluggard, waste valuable time in sleep. Every hour, every energy, had been devoted to God and his service – and was so applied, not of compulsion, nor of slavish fear, but out of a faithful heart, appreciating the privileges and anxious to show to the Lord his loving devotion. Is it so with us? If it has not been so with all of us in the past, shall it not be so with us now – our vow to the Lord renewed? Shall we not cast aside and forget the earthly aims and projects which occupied us and devote our time and energy and strength and thought to the Lord? Shall we not lay aside every weight, and whatever may be our besetting sin, and resolve or vow to the Lord today "To run with patience the race that is set before us?" Heb. 12:1

Whoever divides his heart, whoever attempts to serve the interests of several equally, will surely fail. Not only does such a half-way course fail to meet with the Divine approval as worthy of joint heirship in the Kingdom with Christ, but it fails also to meet the world's approval and to gain the advantages of this present life. Each of us, therefore, should sit down and count the cost, and reap the benefits accruing. If we believe that it would pay us best to serve mammon, then we should serve mammon with all our hearts. But if experience and the Word of God bring us to the conclusion that only the service of God can bring us truest happiness in the present and the future life, and if we hear the Master's words to us, "Ye cannot serve God and mammon," then let us determine to serve the Lord and not serve mammon, but merely use mammon and advantages of life as special assistances leading on to God, to righteousness, to self-sacrifices for joint-heirship in the Kingdom with our Lord and all the faithful.


The Apostle surely never meant that everything behind should be forgotten; for, in that event, all the valuable lessons of life, which we have learned in the School of Christ, would be lost to us. We want to remember life's experiences. We want to profit by them. We desire that every failure shall be discerned, and its cause, that, by remembering the same, we shall not from similar weaknesses of the flesh, fall again into the same snare of the Adversary. We desire that all the lessons of life, which have cost us so much in the School of Christ, shall be cherished and grow more valuable to us every day. Let this also be our endeavor to see to it that no valuable lesson is lost, and that those lessons of the past are clearly and firmly held.

But, on the other hand, there are certain things connected with the experiences of God's children in the past that they are invited to forget, and to remember that God has forgotten them and blotted them out, in so far as there was a record against us.

But all this is faith; God's dealing with the Elect Church during this Gospel Age is on that basis. "We walk by faith, and not by sight." Whoever cannot exercise faith cannot have the blessings now proffered to the believer, but must wait for the next Dispensation, in which sight will be granted and works will be required. And there are different degrees of faith; those standing the severest tests thereby evidence their preparation for God's favors of the future life beyond the vail. Let us, then, learn to exercise faith in all the glorious promises of God's Word, but not credulity in the words of man. One of the most beneficent uses of faith is in connection with the realization of the "forgiveness of our sins that are past, by the forbearance of God." In proportion as we can realize this and act upon it, it gives us confidence and joy and peace and preparation for further Divine leadings and blessings.

We have heretofore suggested what we now wish to further, if possible, emphasize; namely, the fact that there is a Divine standard of holiness, of righteousness, which, if it be not attained, will mean our nonacceptance by the Lord as members of his Elect [HG454] Church; and, more than this, our unfitness for eternal life upon any plane. This standard of character, or mark of perfection, as we have pointed out, is not a standard or mark of fleshly perfection, because the Lord accepts amongst his consecrated disciples those of various degrees of mental, moral and physical degeneracy. The justification which he provides makes up for the blemishes of each, for the more blemished as well as for the less blemished.

We are to bear in mind that there is no development in heaven, and hence perfection of character must be attained by the saints before they die. And, similarly, the world during the Millennium must attain this perfect development before the close of the age in order to be fit for eternal life, according to the Divine promise and standards.


Is it asked to what extent will this standard of perfect love in the heart manifest itself in the flesh? We answer, that during the Millennial Age it will manifest itself perfectly in the flesh, for the world then will be judged according to the actual attainments in their flesh, and perfection by restitution will be not only possible, but required. But as for us of the Gospel Age, we who are being judged not according to the flesh but according to the spirit, to what extent will the new mind, the new nature, when at the Mark of Perfect Love, be able to govern and control the flesh? Our answer is, that the degrees of control will vary much according to the degrees of imperfection with which the mortal body is afflicted.

The only standard which we can set forth is that the new nature, new mind, new will, would be very regretful, very sorrowful, in respect to any [aches, or errors, of its mortal body. The Lord would know (and perhaps the brethren also to some extent) of the New Creature's endeavor to control the mortal body by the degree of its grief in connection with every error, and its continually renewed effort to bring every power of the body, and even every thought, into complete subjection to the will of God in Christ. Any sympathy with sin is an evidence that the New Creature is not at the Mark. And no sympathy with sin, but constant endeavor for righteousness, is evidence that it is at the Mark.

Some may be at this Mark for a longer and some for a shorter period. Our Lord was surely at it from the beginning of his ministry. He was tested there, while at the Mark of perfect love. All the besetments of the Adversary and of the world failed to move him from that position of perfect love. He laid down his life at this Mark. St. Paul was surely at this Mark for many years before his actual death. He was continually laying down his life for the brethren, continually serving his enemies and praying for them; and surely he was continually loving and serving the Lord with his every power and talent.

No Christian should be satisfied with a long delay in reaching the Mark. The milk of the Word should be received, its strength should be appropriated, spiritual sight and spiritual energy should quickly follow, and strong meat of Divine Truth should speedily bring to full maturity the Christian character. And once attained, it should be held at any cost through all the trials and difficulties which the Adversary, and the world, and the flesh, might be permitted to bring against us.

The severest temptations come after we have reached the Mark – temptations to slackness in service of God; temptations to withhold parts of our sacrifice; temptations to deal unkindly, uncharitably, unlovingly with the brethren, or unjustly with our neighbor, or ungenerously with our enemies. All of these must be resisted as we prize our eternal life, as we prize the promise of joint-heirship and fellowship with our Redeemer in His Kingdom.

Whoever sees this subject clearly must realize that as a Christian he has to do with a great proposition which will thoroughly test his loyalty, his courage, his zeal, his love. He will need to remember the Lord's comforting assurances of grace to help in every time of need if he would come off a victor and not be dismayed, nor have his courage beaten down by the Adversary's attacks.

So then, let us, with the Apostle, remember all of God's favors of the past, as well as of the present, and remember the lessons learned through our experiences, including our stumblings and failures. But let us put away every feeling of condemnation as respects the sins which God has freely forgiven, that "We may assure our hearts before him in love," and let us forget our worldly greatness, if we had any, our worldly prospects and aims and ambitions and triumphs and flatteries, and let us set our affections, aims, purposes, zeal, on the things that are before, and make haste towards them, with full assurance of faith in him who promised them. Thus may we come off conquerors and have most profitable years – by his grace!

Peace, perfect peace! our future all unknown? Jesus we know, and He is on the throne.


This article can be found in the Addendum following the Bible Student Monthly series in This book, entitled, "Christian Science Unscientific and Unchristian."


This article can be found in its entirety in the Newspaper Sermons, entitled, "The Law of Retribution."


This article was republished in Reprints 3490-R3494 – January 15, 1905, entitled, "Increasing Influence of Spiritism."


This article was republished in Pastor Russell's Sermons, page 388-395, (SM388-SM395) entitled, "Put Away all Filthiness."


This article can be found in its entirety in the Newspaper Sermons, entitled, "The Necessity for Messiah's Kingdom."


This article can be found in its entirety in the Newspaper Sermons, entitled, "Out of the Belly of Hell, Cried I."


This article can be found in its entirety in the Newspaper Sermons, entitled, "What Doth Thy God Require of Thee?"



This article can be found in its entirety in the Newspaper Sermons, entitled, "Workmen Needeth not to be Ashamed."


This article can be found in its entirety in the Newspaper Sennons, entitled, "God's Message for Comforting the Jewish People."


Four Thousand in Hippodrome Applaud when Venerable Brooklyn Clergyman Advocates Establishment of a Jewish Nation Astonished at His Profound Knowledge of the Hebrew Prophecies Hearers Who Came to Question Gentile's Views on Their Religion Find

He Agrees in Their Most Important Beliefs A History-Making Gathering This article was republished in Convention Report Sermons, pages 133-42, entitled, "Zionism in Prophecy."


This article was republished in Reprint 4593-94 – April 1, 1910, entitled, "The Kingdom of Heaven is at Hand."


This article was republished in Reprint 4566-67 – February 15, 1910, entitled, "Worthy and Unworthy Ambition."