Pittsburgh Gazette, Oct. 21, 1906


Pastor Russell delivered two discourses here today, the one his celebrated anti-infidel sermon entitled, "To Hell and Back." His evening discourse was from the text, "The Kingdom of heaven cometh not with observation; neither shall they say, Lo, Here! or, Lo, there! for behold it is in the midst of you." Luke 17:21.

Many of you I know keep track of our discourses through the public press. I remind such that our published discourse of last Sunday was on the second coming of Christ in power and great glory. This evening we direct your attention to Scriptures which, in our judgment, clearly indicate that the power and great glory of Christ as a glorified church will be hidden from the world except as they shall gradually get the eyes of their understanding opened to appreciate the affairs of the new dispensation. This is a new thought to many. It is not surprising that our first thought should be [HGL332] of an earthly glory and public display in connection with the inauguration of the heavenly Kingdom. All our experiences in connection with the coronation of earthly monarchies and the establishing of earthly dominions have been along this line from the dawn of earliest history. Moreover, many Scriptures bearing upon the inauguration of the Kingdom might be understood to refer to an outward glory, unless we took into consideration other Scriptures which unmistakably indicate that the glory of the Lord which will be revealed to the world, and which all flesh shall see together, will be a glory which will be comprehended not by their natural eyes so much as by the eyes of their understanding, just as now the Lord's people are exhorted to look unto Jesus, to behold his glorious character, to recognize him as the one altogether lovely, as the Light of the world, as the glorified Son of God as the King of glory, as the Prince of the kings of the earth, the Lord of Lords. Although as Christians we recognize our Lord in all these aspects, the physical sight has nothing whatever to do with the matter; it is a revelation purely to our mental vision. To us who believe, he is precious, the one altogether lovely, although we have seen him not except with our hearts.

We wish now to show from the Scriptures that the revelation of the glorified Christ to the world will be, similarly, to the eyes of their understanding and not to their natural sight. True, the glorious changes in the world's condition, the new order of things, the new reign of righteousness and love and peace, etc., will be very different from present conditions and will be visible to the natural eye; but the spiritual forces by which these changes will be introduced to the world and maintained namely, the glorified Christ Head and body will be invisible, not seen by men, just as Satan, who is now according to the Scriptures the prince or ruler of this age, is not visible to men, though his evil works are everywhere manifest and his servants are everywhere in evidence, for as the god of this world he now worketh in the hearts of the children of disobedience, who certainly are much more numerous than the children of light, the children of God. (Eph. 2:2.) Similarly, our glorified Lord and his glorified Church, his Bride, reigning in power and great glory, will be personally invisible to men, but the grand results of their rule of righteousness will be everywhere manifest and the knowledge of the glory of God shall fill the earth. It will be by their knowledge that the world will see the glory of the Lord, and not by any shining visible to their natural eyes.

Our text when rightly understood is very conclusive testimony on this subject. But it is generally misunderstood, and we must therefore first show the inconsistency of the usual interpretation. It is generally explained to mean that God's Kingdom comes in the hearts of his people, and hence that we are not to expect any setting up of God's Kingdom in the sense of a world dominion or authority. We are told that when we pray, "Thy Kingdom come," we should understand it to mean the conversion of hearts to the Lord that thus the reign of Christ begins in the hearts of the converted, and that when this reign of Christ has become universal when all the world shall have come to this condition where Christ is reigning in their hearts then our Lord's prayer will be fulfilled, God's Kingdom will have fully come on earth as in heaven. We heartily sympathize with the good thought of the dear friends who hold this view, which we consider to be very erroneous, unscriptural and contrary to facts. As we look into our hearts, and as we judge of others about us after the Master's standard when he says, "By their fruits ye shall know them. Men do not gather figs of thistles nor grapes from thorn bushes" (Matt. 7:16), we cannot believe that God's Kingdom has very fully come into very many hearts. And as we see that this is the condition of things in Christendom, we ask ourselves- "How is it in heathendom?" and the answer is that it is very much worse there; very few indeed have hearts in which Christ is the King. More than this, we find that, according to statistics, the number of heathen who have absolutely no knowledge of the Lord is double today what it was a century ago. From this standpoint we see that any hope of a Millennium coming from such an establishment of the Kingdom of God in the hearts of his people is utterly impossible.

We are ready to grant that those who become fully the Lord's by a complete and thorough consecration have indeed what might be termed a reign of Christ in their hearts. Christ is King to them whatever he may be to the world they are his subjects to do his will. But, dear friends, this does not cover the Scriptural proposition on the subject. It is not the Lord's proposition that his Church shall become his subjects. On the contrary, the promise to the Church was that they should sit with him in his throne, that they should "reign with him," - "To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne," - "If we suffer with him we shall also reign with him,"(Rev. 3:21; 20:6; Rom. 8:17.) So, then, for you and me to acknowledge Christ as the King of our hearts and that we are his subjects is still not at all the grand hope set before us in the Gospel. We must look for something much more than this.


Glancing at our text and context we find that our Lord did not address these words to his disciples and hence not to us. He addressed the Pharisees those who did not believe him, whose hearts, he said, were not right, in whose hearts he was not acknowledged to be King. Of this same class of people he previously said that they were whited walls, and sepulchers full of all manner of corruption. Now could he mean that the Kingdom of God was within those hearts full of corruption? Surely not. Surely therefore that is not the proper interpretation of the Lord's words not what he meant this statement to teach us. Let us note the full context: Jesus and his followers were despised by the wise and great and learned of the day, but the common people heard him gladly. His principal topic was the Kingdom of God, with the intimation that he was to be the King and that his followers were to be associated with him in his throne and dominion and power and glory. To the learned scribes and proud Pharisees and Doctors of the Law such expectations were merely deceptions. They said, this man Jesus can never have a Kingdom, these his disciples are being deluded, and the people in general are hearing his words and falling into this delusion. We will prick the bubble we will demand of him when and where and how his Kingdom that he talks about will be established. As he begins to reason the matter out and to show us what are his [HGL333] hopes for raising an army, or how he expects to take over the rule of Israel and ultimately of the whole world, then his followers will see the fallacy, the weakness of the position, and thus we will destroy his influence with them they will see that there is no hope in his direction.

It was in harmony with this line of reasoning that, seeking to entrap him, they asked- "When will the Kingdom of God appear?" Our Lord's answer to this question headed off all the other questions along the line which they intended to ask him. His reply in our text, and in substance might be paraphrased thus: "You ask me when my Kingdom will appear. I answer you that it will never appear in the sense in which you are expecting it. I tell you that the Kingdom of God, in its power and great glory, is not to be introduced with outward display, outward show. I tell you, further, that when it is established in the world men will not be able to point to this locality or that locality and say, There is the Kingdom of God, they will neither point to Italy or Palestine or any other part of the world saying, Lo, here is the Kingdom! Lo, there is the Kingdom! because the Kingdom of God does not come in such a manner. It will be a heavenly power, a spiritual power, invisible to the natural eyes of men. They must come to know about this heavenly Kingdom and its power by its effects, and not by what they may see of the Kingdom itself they will not even see the rulers. They will see Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and the prophets as its representatives amongst men, through whom the mandates of the Kingdom will be expressed, and who will act as agents of the Kingdom in establishing law and order and in uplifting and instructing the people. But the Kingdom itself will be invisible; it cometh not with observation; you cannot see it, will never see it. When, under its power and guidance and direction, the whole earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord, mankind will indeed become each and all alike Abraham and the prophets, full representatives of the Kingdom, fully in harmony with its arrangements and principles, fully the exponents of that Kingdom until finally, when all who will shall thus under the reign of that Kingdom have been brought into heart unity with the Lord those who would not come into that condition being cut off in the Second Death then God's will shall be done on earth as it is done in heaven."


In harmony with our Lord's presentation of the manner of the coming of the Kingdom without outward show is his declaration, "Behold, I come as a thief" stealthily, unawares. Again, heed his declaration through the Apostle that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night, and when the world shall be saying "Peace and safety," then cometh destruction the trouble at the end of this Gospel age shall be upon them unawares; but the Apostle, speaking of the church, and referring to the information they will have through the eyes of their understanding and not with their natural sight merely, says, "But ye, brethren, are not left in darkness that that day should overtake you as a thief" although it will come as a thief upon the whole world, and without any outward manifestation that the world could discern. (1 Thess. 5:2-4.)

True, at the first advent the apostles inquired of our Lord concerning when shall these things be, and he answered, "It is not for you to know the times and seasons which the Father hath put in his own power." (Acts 1:7.) More than this, he declared that of "that day and hour knoweth no man, no not the angels of heaven, neither the Son, but my Father only." (Mark 13:35.)

This, then, should not be understood to mean that the Son of man would never know, that the angels would never know nor that the Lord's faithful people would never know. To the contrary we have the assurance that in due time they will know, that they will not be left in darkness with the world, and that these things will be revealed to them not to their natural eyes, but to the eyes of their understanding, as our Lord expressed it in his great prophecy of Matthew 24, "When ye see these things (certain things foretold in the Scriptures which would be outwardly manifested) then know (draw the inference, understand that other things will be in course of fulfillment which are not, visible to the natural sight) that your deliverance draweth nigh."


Some of our Lord's parables clearly teach that in the end of this age a work will be in progress of which the world will be totally unconscious. For instance, in the parable of wheat and tares we are told that in the time of harvest the Lord will send his messengers and gather the tares into bundles and the wheat into the garner. And this work will be done while the world is totally unconscious of it, the world indeed, will see matters progress, but they will not understand what they signify. Only those who are enlightened by the Word and Spirit of the Lord will comprehend the true situation.

In harmony with this our Lord declared that in the end of this age, in this harvest time, it would be as it was in the days of Noah in certain particulars, namely, that the world in general would be ignorant of what was progressing right in their midst. As in the days of Noah they were eating, drinking, building, (things right enough, proper enough in themselves, but things which implied that they did not realize the true situation, did not realize that the harvest work was in progress,) so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man at the second presence of Christ.

The world will be eating and drinking, planting and building, and know not, realize not his presence and the work which he is doing amongst men the binding of the tares and the gathering of the wheat into the garner.


Two of our Lord's parables the parable of the talents and the parable of the pounds call attention to the responsibility of the Lord's consecrated people throughout this Gospel age. These consecrated ones have in their hands certain talents and gifts of the Lord consecrated to his service, which they should be using with diligence, thereby seeking to glorify his name and to forward his cause. In these parables he tells us that at the second coming he will come first to these and reckon with them before he deals at all with the world. This is entirely in accord with the general testimony, to the effect that the Kingdom class of this Gospel age are to be made rulers and judges and priests of [HGL334] the world in the next age the Millennial age. It would be necessary therefore that the work of this Gospel age should be brought to a consummation first before the general work of ruling and judging, chastising and uplifting the world of mankind should take place. Since the Church is represented as being in the world at the second coming of Christ, and he comes again to receive us unto himself and reward the faithful, it follows that his inspection of his followers, his Church, the approval of the faithful and the casting into outer darkness of those who are unfaithful will take place while the affairs of the world run on just as usual, and the world will know nothing about the matter. Hence most evidently the Lord will be present in the world as a thief, secretly, invisible, unknown to the world, making selection amongst those who are nominally his and taking away by a "change" the faithful "overcomers." We remember the statement of these parables that the faithful were told to enter into the joys of their Lord, thus clearly intimating that the Lord's followers have not been thus judged at death and have not all along been entering into the joys of their Lord, but that this judgment will take place, be fulfilled, in the end of this age, at the second coming of Christ. Moreover, the statement is that the rewards given will be that one may have rule over two cities, another over five cities, another over ten cities.

Surely no such ruling and reigning has been set up in the past nor is it set up at present. It is a work that belongs to the Millennial age, and this gathering of all the faithful of the age and their entering into the joys of their Lord, entering into the Kingdom privileges by the change of the First Resurrection and by the work of the Kingdom as joint-heirs with Christ, is all in full accord with the whole testimony of the Word of God. Yet, evidently, all this matter will be without any outward show or manifestation to the world in general. They will know not. As in the days of Noah they were ignorant of what was coming, so in the days of the Son of man they will not realize the facts of the case until the church class shall have been gathered and the great time of trouble, anarchy, confusion, by which the present institutions of the world will be overthrown, and by which the world of mankind will be prepared for the reign of the Kingdom, will be upon the world.


It will be generally admitted that amongst those who oppose the thought of the Millennial Kingdom are some of the brightest minds of the Church. We believe that these have been turned aside from the proper scriptural view of the Millennial Kingdom by reason of the erroneous views presented by so-called pre-Millenarians. There is a small and distinctive class of people throughout Christendom, and generally good people, too, who hold fast to the Scriptural teaching of the second coming of Christ, but who have failed to notice that the Kingdom cometh not with outward show. These represent Christ and his apostles and all the saints in glory in the Millennium as men in the flesh, living under earthly conditions, with an earthly throne, court, ambassadors, forms, ceremonies, etc., etc. These presentations have repelled some equally sincere minds, who declare with propriety that they cannot think of the heavenly Kingdom which the Lord has promised as being so gross, so earthly that they cannot think of the Lord reigning on earth as a man however glorious he might appear. We quite coincide with that thought, as we remember that the Scriptures declare that our Lord is no longer a man, no longer in the flesh. He took the flesh indeed, but took it for a purpose not to keep it to all eternity, but that he might present himself as the man Christ Jesus, a ransom for all. He made that presentation, he gave all that he had, he gave up his human nature entirely, he has never taken it back. To take it back would be to take back the ransom. God forbid that this should ever be! Furthermore, for the Lord to take back the human nature would mean to take back the human limitations, which are certainly lower than those of the angels, as the Scriptures declare for we read that man was made a little lower than the angels. (Psa. 8:5.) On the contrary, our Father raised the Lord up from the dead not by giving him back the sacrificed human nature, but by giving him the divine nature, with its glory, honor and immortality. And thus, as the Apostle declares, "Though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more." (2 Cor. 5:16.) We now know him as the glorified Lord, whom we cannot hope even to see until we are changed and made like him, spirit beings. And this is his promise to us not that he will come again to be a man, but that we shall be changed and be like him, and the Apostle explains why this change is necessary, saying, "Flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God." (1 Cor. 15:50.)

True, our Lord will also retain in his glorified condition the many names which are applied to him in the Scriptures. We still speak of him as the Son of David, although, now highly exalted, we recognize him as David's Lord and David as his son. In harmony with the Scriptures he declares that, "Instead of fathers, they shall be children to Messiah, whom he will make princes in the earth." Amongst these precious names which will continue to be his was one which he so frequently applied to himself, namely, "The Son of man," or, more literally, "The Son of the man." By this he identified himself with the man Adam, and pointed out that he was the one through whom father Adam and all of his race and all of his inheritance were redeemed and are to be restored. We are glad that this name continues to be one appropriate to our Lord, as it continually calls to our mind what great things he has done for our race in harmony with the divine arrangement. This title, Son of man, will always, we understand, be his, and will appropriately show who bought Father Adam's inheritance and rights. The whole world must recognize this fact, and to all eternity, we believe, he will be honored as the great Redeemer of our race. To think of our Lord as now a man in heaven is very inconsistent with all the declarations of the Word. Man is not adapted to heaven he was God's creation intended for the earth. Spirit beings are adapted to heavenly conditions. Our Lord was a spirit being before he became a man, and as the taking of our nature meant his leaving of flesh-and-blood conditions, because "flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God." If the Bride could not be flesh and blood, neither could the heavenly Bridegroom be flesh and blood; and since all spirit beings are invisible to men, it [HGL335] follows that Christ is invisible now, and if present in the world would not more be seen by the natural eyesight than would be the angels, of whom we are told that they are messengers, spirits, sent to minister to those who will be heirs of salvation. (Heb. 1:14.) We see the angels not, yet we believe there are such messengers, angels. Similarly we can grasp the thought of our Lord at his second coming being present in the world and doing a work and yet being invisible; and similarly we can grasp the thought that ultimately, with his glorified Church, he will be present in the world as the King of Glory, and his Kingdom of righteousness will soon cause the earth to shine with the knowledge of the glory of God, and to be resplendent with the works of faith and obedience and God-likeness. Thus gradually, as the Sun of Righteousness shall arise, the world will be filled with the light and knowledge and blessing of that time, and the glory of the Lord shall thus be revealed to all flesh, and all flesh shall see it together with the eyes of their understanding, as now believers see it with the eye of faith. Our Lord declared of the world, "Yet a little while and the world seeth me no more," and that was a true statement; but it was also true as he said to his followers, "But ye shall see me." We shall see him because, begotten again by the Spirit to a new nature, we in our resurrection shall be changed from earthly nature to heavenly or spiritual nature. Then we shall see him as he is, because we shall be like him spirit beings.


"Every eye shall see him, and they also that pierced him." (Rev. 1:7.) The eyes that will see the glorious Lord will not be the natural eyes, because the Scriptures assure us that "no man hath seen God at any time, that he dwells in a light which no man can approach thereto." (1 Tim. 6:16.) In other words, natural human beings cannot see spirit beings. Whenever spiritual beings would manifest themselves to men they have assumed bodies of flesh for the purpose; but seeing such bodies of flesh would not be seeing spirit beings. We understand that no such arrangement is made for the Millennial age that the ancient worthies, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, the prophets, etc., as perfect men, will be perfect exponents and representatives of the Lord of glory amongst men. When they see these they see the Lord Jesus representatively; as the disciples saw the Father in Jesus, as our Lord said to his disciples, "He that hath seen me hath seen the Father." (John 14:9.) As it was impossible for them to have a better representation of the Father than that manifested in the Son. So in the Millennial age it will be impossible for men to have a better representation of the glorified Christ than will be granted them in the perfect Abraham, and others, his representatives amongst men. But, says one, is it not promised that this same Jesus will come? Yes, we answer, and although changed in nature he is the same Jesus, the same love, the same interest that he had when with us is still his. And so we, when we are changed from human to spirit conditions, will be the same persons but under new conditions. But does it not say that he shall come in like manner as he went away? Yes, we answer, and he will. As we have just been showing, he will come quietly, unostentatiously, unknown to the world, just exactly as he went away; no blowing of trumpets, no general commotion throughout the world when the Master went only his followers, his closest disciples, his little flock, will know of his presence until later on his glorious power will be revealed in flaming fire, in the fiery judgments that will be put into operation throughout the world as against all unrighteousness for all unrighteousness in sin, and all sin is to be destroyed, consumed, and all the willing and obedient are to be lifted from its power, and those who refuse to be uplifted will be destroyed from amongst the people in the Second Death.

So, then, dear friends, let us more and more seek to take the Scriptural standpoint of expectance, and to look for Jesus with the eyes of our understanding and not with our natural sight. In proportion as we learn to do this our blessing will be increased, and by and by when changed we shall see him as he is, for we shall be like him.

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