March 15, 1908


Johnstown, Pa., Mar. 15 Pastor C T Russell of North Pittsburgh, Pa., addressed large and intelligent audiences twice here today in the Grand opera house. We report one of the discourses which was from the text, "You hath He quickened who were dead in trespasses and sins." (Eph. 2:1) He said:

The scriptures everywhere declare that Adam's sin and disobedience not only brought a sentence of death upon himself, but upon all of his posterity. Thus do they account for the fact that while God's intelligent creatures on the angelic plane have life eternal, His earthly creation, man, is subject to death. As we think of the sickness, pain, sorrow, trouble involved in this death sentence, and that it has passed upon all men, and that approximately 20,000,000,000 have been born in sin, shapen in iniquity and after more or less serious experiences with the dying processes have gone into the tomb during the past 6,000 years, we stand amazed. We hearken to note if this is a just penalty, or if our race has suffered too much of a penalty for sin. As we learn the divine decree governing the subject we are forced to admit that no injustice has been done us, that father Adam justly forfeited the blessings and privileges that had been conferred upon him by a gracious Creator, and that we of his posterity have shared in a natural way His blemishes and hence are unworthy of eternal life. We are all ready to admit that with all the discouragements and sorrows and aches and pains and dying we prefer that we have lived rather than that we had never been born. Logically, therefore, we are under obligations to our Creator for whatever measure of joy and blessing we can secure in our present life, even if death ended all for us, even if there were no hope beyond the tomb. But that there is such a resurrection hope set before us in the scriptures we are about to show.

Let us not pass this subject without adverting to the fact that under the delusions of the "dark ages" we for a time supposed, in harmony with medieval creeds that the penalty for "original sin" was not death, but the very contrary life in an indescribable and everlasting torment. It is fortunate for us that we got the eyes of our understanding opened to the fact that such teachings are unscriptural, erroneous, and were formulated during the "dark ages" by our ancestors; that they had so far lost the right conception of God and the proper understanding of His word that they thought it to be God-like, Christ-like, just and loving, to pull one another joint from joint on the rack, to pour molten lead into each other's mouths and ears, to cut each other's tongues out, and to burn one another at the stake. Those evil fruitages in the lives of our ancestors we condemn, and must condemn also the evil doctrines which led to them. How thankful we should be that, with the dawning light of the new dispensation shining upon God's word, we can now read there a divine plan in full harmony with the justice, wisdom, power and love which we should expect in a good God. Now we can see that death, with its incidental sorrows and pains, is the divine penalty for sin, and this would have meant that our race would have perished like the brute beast had not God in great mercy come to our rescue and provided a Savior and a great One, "able to save unto the uttermost all who would come unto the Father through Him." Heb. 7:25


That our Lord Jesus came into the world to save sinners is the repeated statement of the scriptures. But how do we know that the death of our Lord Jesus was accepted of Jehovah as the offset or ransom price for father Adam's transgression? How do we know that as the race was lost under condemnation through Adam's sin it was redeemed by Christ? We indeed have the apostle's word for this, and assurance that as all in Adam die so all in Christ shall be made alive. But has God given any outward specific indication that He is satisfied with this arrangement? We answer, Yes! The apostle's words indicate this. He says, "God hath given assurance unto all men in that He hath raised Him from the dead." (Acts 17:31) Our Lord's resurrection was an assurance that the Father was well pleased with Him- [HGL423] that in Him was no sin; and since He gave His life for the sin of Adam and his race, His resurrection signifies that His sacrifice was accepted of God and that sooner or later it will be applied. It is an assurance unto all men not in the sense that all men have heard nor that all men appreciate this, but in the sense that it is for all men, open to all men who have the ear to hear.


The apostle's statement is clear that condemnation to death passed upon all men because all are sinners. (Rom. 5:12) He intimates, however, that this condemnation or curse or sentence of death has been lifted from some when he says, "Ye were children of wrath, even as others (still are)." (Eph. 2:3) Again he remarks that believers have escaped the condemnation (death sentence) which is on the world. What does he mean? The scriptural answer is that during this gospel age God is dealing in a special manner with a small number of the race who have ears to hear the faith message that has been promulgated ever since Pentecost. The message that comes to these is purposely in such a form that only a particular class of the world will be able to receive it. The intimation clearly is that not all have the hearing ear. The facts of life corroborate this for few even in civilized lands hear, understand, the message. The great mass even of the civilized are confused, and, as our Lord said to the Samaritan woman, "believe they know not what." As to the heathen, twelve hundred million of them, according to statistics, have not heard in any sense of the word of the "only name given under heaven and amongst men whereby men must be saved." (Acts 4:12) These are facts! It is also a fact, worthy of note here, that the heathen are increasing rapidly. A century ago there were only half as many according to statistics six hundred million.

So we see the world blind and deaf to the glorious arrangement He has provided of salvation from death at the hands of Jesus during the millennial age, and by the process of resurrection. Their eyes and ears are turned in the very opposite direction from the truth on these subjects, not only by heathenism, but also by much of the preaching of our day. Only a few, and they but imperfectly see and hear of the grace of God. Only these few comparatively, therefore come within the limits of present acceptance with God, for "without faith it is impossible to please God." (Heb. 11:6) These few who, with more or less of enlightenment, really believe in the Lord Jesus and trust in Him, are the acceptable ones. These may know of God's arrangement for the cancellation of their sins, and may now by faith accept and wear the robe of Christ's righteousness imputed to them. These may walk by faith in the narrow way of self-sacrifice, self-denial, in the footprints of their Redeemer. These, by so walking faithfully, may gain a great prize, which the scriptures call the crown of life, and glory, honor and immortality. The great mass of mankind, who have neither the sight nor the hearing of faith, can have neither part nor lot in this matter; they are yet in their sins. These by faith are reckoned as alive from the dead the remainder of the world being still under sentence of death. Whatever their prospects for the future, they have received nothing of the Lord yet, and cannot receive anything from Him during this age except upon the faith terms which He has appointed. We will consider these and their hopes and their prospects later on.


The thought that consecrated believers are from the divine standpoint begotten again to new life or, under another figure, are risen with Christ to walk in newness of life, pervades all the teachings of the apostles. These are called "a new creature," "new creatures in Christ Jesus." For them "old things have passed away, all things have become new" through faith, by which they first believed in Jesus as their Redeemer and accepted the forgiveness of sins, and then, secondly, by faith made a consecration of their justified selves to the Lord and His service even unto death; and then, still by faith, experiencing the begetting of the Holy Spirit; the anointing therewith, and its guidance to the extent that they henceforth live new lives not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. These, as the apostle suggests, set their affections on things above and not on things of the earth. (Col. 3:2) By faith they accept the "exceeding great and precious promises" of God, which are applicable to them and not to the world in general, and he promises that if they are faithful in the sacrificing of earthly interests now they shall at the second coming of their Lord be received of Him and be made actual new creatures in the first, the chief, resurrection; and thus "changed" actually from earthly to heavenly, from natural to spiritual conditions, they shall be like unto the angels, like unto their glorious Lord, and sharers with Him in the great millennial kingdom which God has promised Him by and through which kingdom the world is to receive the great blessing secured through the merit of the sacrifice at Calvary.


Our Second Adventist friends and some others have evidently misunderstood the apostle's argument of Rom. 8:11, in supposing it to refer to the resurrection of the church in mortal bodies human bodies such as we now have. The entire context shows to the contrary of this. The apostle's words are, "If the Spirit of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, He that raised up Christ Jesus from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by His Spirit that dwelleth in you." Most evidently the apostle refers to the work of grace operating in the hearts of consecrated believers in this present time. His argument is in respect to the power of the holy Spirit of God; it was mighty enough to raise our Lord Jesus out of death, will it not be sufficiently mighty in its operation in us to enable us as new creatures not only to keep our mortal bodies dead as respects sin, but also to energize and quicken them in respect to works of righteousness in the service of the Lord and of the brethren and of all men as we have opportunity? So then the new creatures in Christ are in no sense of the word to compare themselves with the world, but are to remember our Lord's words, "Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you and ordained you that ye shall bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should be permanent. . . If ye were of the world the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you." -(John 15:16, 19) [HGL424] The loss by many of this scriptural thought that the church is separate from the world, and has a separate judgment or trial, has been a costly one. The fact that large numbers of unregenerate people, who have not been begotten of the holy Spirit, have been accepted as true Christians has let down the standard of true Christianity from the lofty place of imitation of Jesus and the apostles to the ignominious standard of the average of civilized society. We can sympathize with those who did let down the standards, for we see that they had generous motives not merely to excuse themselves from the high standard, but especially to include with themselves those who had no such standards because of their misunderstanding of the scriptures, and their supposition that whoever is not of the church, not of the elect, is hopelessly condemned to an eternity of torture.


There is no hope for the world during this gospel age because it is a faith age the time for the gathering of the very elect, the time for the preparation of the "saints." All scriptural hope for the world for those whom the apostle mentions as blinded by the god of this world and deaf to the influence of God's message now lies in the future, in the millennial age. The world's hope is briefly summed up in the apostle's words, "God hath appointed a day in which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained." (Acts 17:31) We can readily see that the judgment or trial of the world to which the apostle refers is future; and since the world as we have seen has been wholly condemned to death, it follows that it already has had one judgment or trial and that it is now suffering under the adverse sentence therefrom. As our Lord declared, "He that believeth not is condemned already." (John 3:18) The condemnation started in Adam and held on to all of his race and still holds them all under the death sentence, and as we have seen only consecrated believers escape from that sentence. Hence the declaration of God's appointment of a day for judging the world must mean a new trial. And this is in full accord with the scriptural declaration that, so far as the original sentence was concerned, "Jesus Christ by the grace of God tasted death for every man." (Heb. 2:9) In other words, the death of Jesus in its ultimate benefits will cancel all of the original condemnation, the original sin of Adam and his race and will set all mankind free from that original death sentence. But as we have just seen this is not yet accomplished but has only set free a little handful of consecrated believers whose eyes and ears were specially blessed of the Lord and to whom during this gospel age has come a special judgment or trial in advance of the world.

The world's trial will last for a thousand years, the millennial age, and the church now on trial, as we have seen from other scriptures previously, is being prepared of the Lord in advance to be associated with the Lord himself as the judges of the world when it will be on trial. We remind you of the apostle's words, "Know ye not that the saints shall judge the world?" (1 Cor. 6:2) How glad we are, then, that the Lord's redemption work, which now avails for believers only will ultimately be made available to all the families of the earth in the day when the shadows of ignorance and superstition shall have passed away, in the day when Satan shall be bound that he shall deceive the nations no more, in the day when the sun of righteousness shall arise with healing in his beams, in the day when the knowledge of the Lord shall fill the whole earth as the waters cover the great deep, in the day when the wayfaring man though a fool may not err therein, in the day when none shall any longer need to teach his neighbor and his brother, Know thou the Lord, for all shall know him from the least to the greatest of them. Rev. 20:2; Mal. 4:2; Isa. 11:9; 35:8; Jer. 31:34.


In full harmony with what we have already seen respecting the deadness, and the fact that a few of these hear now with the hearing of faith, and that all the remainder shall hear by and by, we note our Redeemer's words: "The hour cometh and now is when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of the man and they that obey shall live." (John 5:25) For the world of mankind in general this blessed hour of hearing, understanding, coming to a knowledge of the truth, is still future the millennial age. For the exceedingly few of the race who have the hearing ear the hour for hearing "now is." The effect of the hearing in both cases would be the same; the voice, the message of the Son of man, is life giving. "He is the way, the truth, the life." (John 14:6) He is the way to God no man cometh unto the Father except by him; he is the truth, the word of God, the only message of salvation is that of which he is the center; he is the life those who receive his message, his instruction, his grace, may have life, and that more abundantly than was heretofore possessed by man.

Those who hear now by the hearing of faith not only learn of Jesus as their Redeemer and the way to God, but they receive a special invitation to become his joint-heirs in the kingdom. This the apostle styles, "The high calling of God in Christ Jesus," and again, a "heavenly calling," because it is to heavenly things, and not merely to a restitution to earthly things lost in Adam and redeemed for the world in Christ. But those who will hear the voice of the Son of man in the coming hour, in the millennial age, will not be invited to walk in the "narrow way" of self-sacrifice, nor be invited to joint-heirship with Christ in the kingdom, for the kingdom class will then have been completed, the kingdom itself will then have been established, and the "narrow way" of testing and trial necessary to joint-heirship in it will have passed away and the "highway of holiness" will have been opened up, in which there will be no stumbling stones and no darkness and no ravenous beasts to hinder, to oppose, to intimidate, to stumble those who would draw nigh to God in answer to the voice that will then assure them of the forgiveness of their sins through the merit of the great sacrifice, and the possibility of attaining all that was lost in Adam human life, human rights, human honor and glory, a little lower than the angels and in the image of God.

A little later on in the same discourse Saint John gives us the Master's words (v. 28, 29) which assure us that this hearing on the part of the dead world is not merely to those who will not have gone down to the tomb, but applies equally to the others who have gone into sheol, into hades, into the state of death. The Master's words are, "Marvel not, the hour [HGL425] is coming in which all that are in their graves shall hear the voice of the Son of man and shall come forth. They that have done good to a life resurrection, and they that have done evil unto a judgment resurrection." (R V) How clearly the matter is here stated! The dead are not to come forth from heaven, nor from purgatory, but from their graves. These will include two classes: Some who have approved themselves to God in the present life and some who have not. The approved ones will come forth from the tomb to a life of resurrection, a complete resurrection to life, an instantaneous change in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, from corruption to incorruption. The others, who have not been approved of the Lord, shall come forth also that they may have a resurrection, a rising up, a deliverance from corruption into the full liberty of children of God. But theirs is not to be an instantaneous change to the perfection of life. No, to their advantage they will come forth from the tomb in an imperfect state in practically the same condition in which they died come forth that they may have a rising up to perfection a rising up by judgments, disciplines, rewards and punishments, during that day of judgment which God has appointed, a thousand-year day. It will be during that thousand-year day of their judgment that they will hear the gracious voice of the great King, their Redeemer, assuring them of God's love and the provision made for their assistance out of sin and death conditions, assuring them also that there are certain principles and laws in connection with the divine government which must be obeyed if they would attain to the glorious privilege of life eternal, assuring them also that "all the wicked will God destroy" all who, when they have a full, complete knowledge of righteousness and truth, love unrighteousness and error. Then, as the Apostle Peter says, "It shall come to pass that the soul that will not hear that prophet will be utterly destroyed from amongst the people." Acts 3:23

Prev   Next