St. Paul Enterprise, May 21, 1911



Baltimore, Md., May 21, 1911 Pastor Russell, of the Brooklyn Tabernacle, preached here twice today to large and attentive audiences. We report one of his discourses from the text, "When He ascended up on high He led a multitude of captives." Eph. 4:8-10.

In this week occurs the anniversary of Jesus' ascension. In one sense of the word our Lord ascended (that is, from human nature and the tomb, to the divine nature and immortality at the time of His resurrection from the dead.) He tarried, however, for forty days with the Apostles for their establishment and instruction He on the spirit plane, invisible to them, except when He manifested Himself by appearing miraculously in various forms to convince them that He was no longer deceased, and also that He was no longer confined to human conditions that His resurrection had made Him again a spirit being on the higher plane where He was before He took human nature for the suffering of death for the redemption of humanity.

Not alone by His words, but also by His conduct, our Lord taught His followers. They had not as yet been begotten of the Holy Spirit, and hence could not understand or appreciate spiritual things. They could therefore receive instruction only along natural lines. Jesus was raised from the dead a spirit being, far above angels, principalities and powers. Had He then gone directly to the Father without manifesting Himself to His disciples they would never have been able to understand the truth of the matter.

Hence their lessons were given them largely in pantomime corroborated by the Master's words, explaining that it was necessary that Messiah should die in order that He might redeem the world, and that it was also necessary that He ascend up on high and re-enter upon the spirit plane of existence, which He had before He came into the world in order that from that higher plane of being He might be the more capable of filling the great Office of Prophet, Priest, Mediator and King of the world.


Not only, therefore, did Jesus manifest Himself during the forty days, some ten times, in various forms, but finally, at the conclusion of the forty days. He ascended in full view of His disciples. This was one way of telling them of His ascension, that He had gone to the Father, that they need not expect to see Him again as formerly.

We are not, however to suppose for a moment that Jesus ascended a fleshly or human being; we remember, on the contrary, that "flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God," and that "He was put to death in the flesh, but quickened in the spirit," and that thenceforth, as the Apostle declares, "The Lord is that 'spirit.'"2 Cor. 3:17. [HGL479]


The Apostles were to bear witness to the resurrection of Jesus; but Judas having lost his place and it having been given to St. Paul it was proper that the latter, as well as the rest of the Apostles, should be able to bear witness to Jesus' resurrection. Recounting those who had seen the Lord after His resurrection, in some of the various manifestations, St. Paul says, "Last of all He was seen of me also, as one born before the time."

Jesus appeared to St. Paul in the glorious brightness of His Spirit Being, "shining above the brightness of the sun at noonday." The sight caused injury to the eyes of the beholder. Such manifestation would have been inappropriate and unsatisfactory had the Redeemer so appeared to the eleven during the forty days. How could they have identified the glorious Personage, who shone above the brightness of the sun at noonday, as the Lord Jesus, whom they had known for years? How could they have been enabled to fully identify Him in His many different appearances with His former self their Friend, their Teacher? But to Saul of Tarsus, the revealing in fiery light, above the noonday glare, was very appropriate. It convinced him, in a manner that no human appearance in the flesh could have equaled, that Jesus was no longer a man and that He was no impostor. St. Paul's conversion was instantaneous. "Who art thou, Lord?" he asked. "I am Jesus, whom thou persecutest" still represented in My followers, of whom St. Stephen was one, whom you remember, and others of whom you have been haling to prison.

It should not cause us to marvel that Jesus ascended as He declared, "up where He was before" (John 6:62). It should not surprise us that the Heavenly Father gave Him back all the glory and honor which He had before He came into the world with added glory. It should not surprise us, therefore, that the Apostle declares that He ascended, in dignity and station, far above angels, principalities and powers, and every name that is named! (Eph. 1:21). On the contrary, it would be both equitable and Godlike that the great Jehovah should highly honor His faithful, Only Begotten Son, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the Ending of the creation of God (Rev. 22:13). Could we for one moment suppose that our great Creator would allow His faithful Son, or any servant, to lay down life in Divine service, and to suffer loss as a consequence of His obedience? Is it not much more rational to believe, as the Scriptures declare, "Him hath God highly exalted?" Philip. 2:9.


Pastor Russell called attention to the Apostle's phraseology in the context that the Ascended One had previously descended, and that the ascending and descending were related as cause and effect. The One who ascended up on high completely filled the highest position in the great Divine Government of the Universe as Head of principalities and powers, angels and men next to the Father. Yet the Apostle warns us that we must identify the glorified One with the One who, in obedience to the Father's will, humbled Himself to come down from the heavenly nature and glory to the earthly station where He, as a Man, humbled Himself unto death, even unto the ignominious death of the cross.

The Apostle calls our attention to these two extremes the extreme of humiliation and the extreme of exaltation, both accomplished in the Son of God, the Logos, The Christ.

If some of us at one time in our reading of the Scriptures supposed that our Lord Jesus ascended to heaven in a physical condition, as a man, we entirely misunderstood the Scriptures He who was rich, as the Logos in glory, preserved His identity when He was made poor for our sakes, made flesh, that He might be our Redeemer. Similarly, that Redeemer preserves His identity now that He has been made rich again now that He has been received up to the Spirit Plane of glory, honor and immortality, the divine nature.

To suppose that Jesus went to heaven a man is to mistake the significance of His title, The Son of Man, which He maintains, as identifying Him with His great redemptive work as one of His many titles. To suppose that Jesus is a human being in heaven would be to suppose that He is still as when in the flesh, "a little lower than the angels," whereas the Scriptures declare that He has ascended far higher, so that all the angels of God, as well as men, are commanded to worship Him. To suppose Jesus in heaven a human being would be to suppose Him out of all harmony with heavenly spirit conditions and surroundings.

Moreover, are we not told that the Church of Christ will be changed from the human to the spirit condition in the resurrection, and that this change will make the "elect of God" like their Redeemer, so that they may see Him as His is, not as He was that they may see Him in glory, honor and immortality, exaltation, and not as the humiliated One, who was made flesh that He might sacrifice His flesh on man's behalf? When we so thought we forgot the Scriptural declaration that "flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God," hence that all those called to be partakers of the divine nature and heavenly Kingdom with their Redeemer and Lord must be made like Him by the power of the First Resurrection.


The Pastor declared that he had found worldly people very skeptical respecting the descent of the Logos, the Son of God, to earthly conditions; but that Christians seem to have more difficulty than the world in comprehending the return, the ascension of Jesus to the spirit plane and its excellent glory. Both points, however, are important, necessary, as the Apostle declares in the context. Whoever is unable to see that the Logos, the glorious Son of the Highest, humbled Himself, divested Himself of the Spirit Nature and took instead human nature, cannot see that Jesus was sinless. And those who cannot recognize that He was holy, harmless, undefiled and separate from the sinner race (Heb. 7:26), cannot believe in the sacrifice of Jesus as being a Ransom-price for Adam, to effect his release and that of his race from condemnation.

Pastor Russell went into considerable detail respecting the manner by which the Logos was transferred from heavenly conditions to earthly conditions, and how His purity, [HGL480] his perfection of organism, His freedom from sin was preserved, notwithstanding the fact that He was born of an earthly mother who was not free from the blemishes of Adam's race. He proffered his hearers free upon application a treatise entitled "The Undefiled One," which he believes shows scientifically the process used of God by which the Logos was changed from the higher to the human nature, yet preserved immaculate.

The error of supposing that Jesus is still a man signifies the denial of His word, that He would ascend up where He was before, and the denial of the Apostle's teaching that He has been highly exalted to glory and distinction, the divine nature, instead of the human nature. This error, the Pastor declared, has led to other errors, one of which he cited, namely, the error made by many Christian people of expecting the second coming of Jesus in the flesh as a glorious man and not as a glorious Spirit, Partaker of the divine nature, and entirely dissociated from human nature.

Thinking of the Lord at His second advent as a glorified man, they associate Him with a material throne and an earthly court. This, in turn, leads other Christian people in an opposite direction. Realizing that such an earthly kingdom would be a step backward rather than a step forward, they deny the second coming of Messiah to establish the Kingdom so long promised.

The proper thought is that Jesus, in the flesh, accomplished the work which the Father had given Him to do, when He sacrificed His earthly life. The Father gloriously rewarded Him on the spirit plane. Now He is waiting for the gathering of His Church, His Bride, His Elect. These are to share in His resurrection to the divine nature and to sit with Him in His throne. Then the Kingdom of Messiah, so long promised will begin to bless the world, using as its earthly representatives, visible to men, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and all the Ancient Worthies mentioned in Heb. 11:38-40, through whom the blessing will extend to Natural Israel and to all the families of the earth. Acts 3:19-21.


Our text, in a figurative way, represents the ascension of Jesus from the earthly plane to the heavenly as the triumph of a great Conqueror. Sin had gained ascendency over Adam and his race, and had brought mankind low to the dust, mentally, morally and physically. Moreover, this victory over man had been gained in a legal manner through one man's disobedience (Rom. 5:12). The Logos divested Himself of His glory on the spirit plane, was made flesh, fulfilled the demands of the Law, proved Himself competent to pay the sinner's Ransom-price, and gave himself a Ransom for all, "to be testified in due time" (I Tim. 2:6). Having finished His sacrificial work He was received again to the spirit nature with exceeding glory and to the right hand of the Majesty on high.

Thus the great conqueror is seen returning to the heavenly state, acclaimed by the Heavenly Host; and following Him far down the centuries, the prophetic view saw, first the Church, the "Royal Priesthood," "His brethren," "His Bride," delivered from the power of sin and death, through the merit of His blood. And these were but the first crop of a following host; they were "a kind of first-fruits to God of His creatures" rescued from sin and from death. Jas. 1:18; Rev. 14:4.

Later on, stretching down for a thousand years beyond the Church's deliverance, the prophetic pen foretells countless hosts of every nation, people, kindred and tongue, to be delivered from the power of sin and death through the merit of Him who died, "the Just for the unjust." Now the Savior of the Church, His Bride, He will shortly be the Savior of the world, its Great King, Great Teacher, Great Priest, Great Mediator.

Then will come the glorious consummation, when all who will have refused Divine grace shall have been destroyed in the Second Death then shall be heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth saying, "Glory to God in the Highest." Thenceforth there shall be no more crying nor dying, for all the former things of sin and death shall have passed away.


At our Lord's First Advent the "acceptable time" began the time when God, having accepted the sacrifice of Christ Jesus, became willing through Him to accept the sacrifices of all who desire to become His disciples to take up their cross and follow Him through evil report and good report even unto death. The entire Gospel Age antitypes Israel's Day of Atonement, and the sacrifices of our Lord and the Church, His Body, are the "better sacrifices," foreshadowed by the bullock and the goat offered typically by the Jews. Heb. 9:19-23.

This is the acceptable year of the Lord which Jesus declared (Isa. 61:2; Luke 4:19), God's faithful people of this acceptable day are glad to be invited to "present their bodies living sacrifices, holy and acceptable unto God" (Rom. 12:1). In the end of this acceptable day will come the end of all opportunity to thus sacrifice the human nature and become joint-heirs with Christ and partakers of the heavenly nature.

Then will be introduced a new period styled, in the Scriptures, "Times (or Years) of Restitution." The acceptable day for the Church's sacrifice has lasted for nearly nineteen centuries. And we know how long the "times of Restitution" will last a thousand years. Rev. 20:4.

St. Peter tells us just when these "Restitution Times" will begin. They did not begin in his day. They have not begun yet. They will begin as a result of the Second Advent of Jesus, the Messiah, and the establishment of His Kingdom of righteousness. "Times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord and He shall send Jesus Christ, as before was preached unto you, whom the heavens must retain until the Times of Restitution of all things which God hath spoken by the mouth of all the holy prophets since the world began."

"For Moses verily said unto the fathers, A Prophet like unto me (of whom I am but a type or figure) shall the Lord your God raise up unto you from amongst your brethren, Him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever He shall speak unto you. And it shall come to pass that the soul that will not obey that Prophet shall be destroyed from amongst the people (Acts 3:19-23) in the Second Death."

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