Peoples Pulpit, January 25, 1912


Hongkong, China The Foreign Missions Investigation Com-mittee of the International Bible Students' Association spent several days in Hong Kong, Canton and vicinity. For efficiency they divided, some giving more attention to one and the others to another phase of the missionary interest. They seemed well pleased with the treatment accorded them. Pastor Russell's address to the Chinese in their fine City Hall Auditorium was both helpful and encouraging. He declared that he came as a follower of Jesus and a friend to all humanity. He directed special attention to the words of Paul, the great Apostle, applicable to humanity in general and at the present time specially to the Chinese: "The whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now waiting for the manifestation of the sons of God." (Rom. 8:22) China's war experiences in recent years have been severe trials, particularly to a people of their temperament peace-preferring, gentle, courteous to each other and to foreigners.

Pastor Russell feared for their terrible experiences with anarchy; but they will have it merely in advance of other peoples to all of whom it is coming as a result of discontent, inspired by greatly increased knowledge, combined with selfishness. The hope for all is in Messiah's Kingdom, now near at hand. Those who most quickly learn faith in God and justice and mercy toward others will soonest share the coming blessings. Some of us already share those coming blessings by the exercise of faith in the glorious promises of the Bible. The pastor has been told that their courtesy of manner arose, not from love and sympathy, but from law and custom centuries old. He could not judge the heart, but had sincerely wished that some of the favored race of so-called Christendom possessed in a larger degree some of the admirable traits of the Chinese, their respectful demeanor, quiet courtesy, their civility and energy.

It shall not be my mission, he said, to urge you to become identified with any sects or parties of Christendom, nor to recommend to you any of their creeds. Nevertheless, in all of those creeds there is more or less of the most wonderful truth which ever came to the ears of humanity, but, alas! In a darker period it became so mixed with human tradition as to be to-day dishonoring to God, offensive to the intelligence of many, and thus an offense to those who still accept those creeds. I can readily see reasons why you have not been more influenced by Christianity. You felt that you had as good or better than has been offered you. Very properly your heads and hearts refused adherence and worship to One whom you were told had foreordained whatever comes to pass, had foreordained the eternal torment of your ancestors and of all mankind except a mere favored few. It is to your credit that you were not attracted by such a message nor driven by such a fear.


I may never again have the opportunity of addressing you; let me therefore tell you now of another Christianity, of which probably you have never before heard, from the same Bible used by the missionaries here and confessed by us all to be God's message, but at present a very different message, from that which my brethren confess. I call them "brethren" because I assume that they are sincere in their presentations. I once held similar views. I once preached also the damnation and eternal torture of all who do not accept Jesus in the present life and become His footstep followers. I should be sympathetic toward them, and I am. Nevertheless, this must not hinder me from using this opportunity to make known to you the clearer light that now shines upon God's Word.

I find that the darkness of error which beclouded my eyes of understanding came from the creeds, and that the Bible most beautifully and most simply presents a God of all Grace, a Father of Mercies, from whom cometh every good and every perfect gift, and with whom there is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. (Jas. 1:17) I know from my examination of our religious books that the Bible alone [HGL526] presents this God of kindness, compassion and sympathy. All other gods are full of pride, anger, hatred, malice, and all need appeasement to avert their fury.

The God of the Bible, the true God of Christianity, is all-loving, all-kind, ever-merciful and tells us so. It is a great fallacy which declares that He has damned humanity to a hell of torture at the hands of fireproof demons. On the contrary, the Bible declares that the wage or penalty of sin is death and that this is the explanation of the general prevalence of human weakness and frailty, mental, moral and physical death. In our text St. Paul tells us that the whole creation all mankind are groaning and travailing in pain now because of sin and its death penalty. This has been in progress for 6,000 years. It comes not through divine persecution of His creatures, but by natural laws of heredity passing on the weakness, mental, moral and physical, from parent to child, from generation to generation, by a law of nature. God has simply permitted this law to take its course in disobedient man.


You may perhaps ask me if the God who is loving, generous and kind does not pity humanity in its present dying condition, even though we have come into this state through the violation of divine law. Could not a God of love do something for our aid?

That, my dear friends, is exactly what I wish to point out. The Bible declares that the divine law broken, its sentence must stand unless in some manner justly satisfied. If a perfect man could be found, willing to sacrifice his life in reparation for Father Adam's disobedience and forfeited life, then God could be just and accept the sacrifice and allow Adam and the remainder of his race to go free from the death sentence. But no such perfect man could be found. There is none righteous; no, not one. All were born in sin; none therefore could give to God a ransom for his brother, as the Scriptures declare. (Psa. 49:7) What then? God figuratively represents His sympathy, saying that He looked down to see our condition and He hearkened to the groans of the prisoners of sin and death. He beheld that there was none that could pity or succor because all were under sentence. "Then His own eye pitied and His own arm brought salvation." How beautiful the picture of divine compassion hearkening to the groaning creation.


The arm of God means, symbolically, Divine power. He revealed this arm in the arrangement which He made for the payment of our death penalty, in the sending of His Son, the Man Christ Jesus, who, "by the grace of God, tasted death for every man." As a perfect man had sinned, God provided a perfect man to be the Redeemer, "that as by man came death by a Man also should come the resurrection of the dead; for us all in Adam die, even so shall all in Christ be made alive, every man in his own order." (1 Cor. 15:22)

Do you now catch a glimpse of the mercy, the compassion, the love of the Christian God to us, who appeals to the heart as being different from any other god of whom you have ever had knowledge! Think of a God, infinite in power, as being careful of His fallen creatures, and providing, even at self-sacrifice, for their recovery!

But you will say, where is the recovery? Are we not still sick, mentally, morally and physically a dying race? What has the death of Jesus accomplished for us? That is a good question. The answer to it will bring you much enlightenment respecting God's loving character and glorious plan for humanity. The Bible teaches us that Jesus, who redeemed mankind, is to be made the great King, whose kingdom shall dominate the whole world- "under the whole heavens." (Dan. 7:27) It will not be an earthly kingdom; nor will the King be visible to men, even as God is not visible, because He is a Spirit. The great Messiah will be invisible. He will be invisible because He is a Spirit, "the express image of the Father's person." (Heb. 1:3) The kingdom will be exercised through human agencies and it will increase and spread until all shall know God truly, and until "every knee shall bow and every tongue confess" to Him but all who will reject his grace shall perish totally in the second death.


My text declares that the relief for the groaning creation waits for the manifestation of the sons of God. We have already seen that Jesus, as the pre-eminent Son of God, died for our sins and ascended to the right hand of Divine Majesty, where He is waiting; and meantime the groaning creation must wait also, for the same thing for which He waits for the sons of God. Here is a matter which seems to have been for a time hidden under the rubbish of the Dark Ages the fact that God not only foreordained Jesus, the great Son of God, to be the world's Messiah, to deliver them from sin and death, but He also foreordained the selection of a special class from among mankind, to be the Redeemer's associates and joint heirs in His kingdom of glory, honor and immortality. (Rom. 2:7) It has required the entire period from the time of Jesus' death until now to call, to sanctify, to prepare these subordinate sons of God.

We might have supposed that our great, loving Creator would have called upon certain of the holy angels to be associates with the Redeemer in the glorious work of the Kingdom, the uplift of humanity. But not so; He has sent the invitation to this high, glorious station to our poor, fallen race. Thus, additionally, has the God of Love manifested the exceeding riches of His grace and His loving kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. Eph. 2:7 How wonderfully condescending!

Surely all will admit with me that no god of any people has ever manifested such a love and interest in his creatures as has the God of the Bible the God of Christianity. It is the Love of God which constrains us draws us. And His exceeding great and precious promises work in our hearts, "both to will and to do His good pleasure." And this is the test His wisdom has provided. Although Messiah will use coercion to some extent during His reign of a thousand years, yet the Heavenly Father will not use coercion in respect to any of these sons whom He is now inviting. He seeketh such to worship Him as worship Him in spirit and in truth such as need no coercion'such as delight to [HGL527] know and to do the will of the Father in Heaven such as in these respects are copies of His Son, the Redeemer.

But, although God will not urge, force or compel any to be sons on this high plane of the divine nature, He does, to the contrary, set obstacles in the way and make the way "narrow" in which he invites these to follow their Leader. He does this for the very purpose of hindering any from coming except the high class which He specially desires. His Message is through Jesus, "If any man will be My disciple, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me." Again the Apostle expresses the Father's terms, saying, "I beseech you, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies living sacrifices, holy and acceptable to God, your reasonable service." Again says the Master, "Strait is the gate and narrow is the way that leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it."

Surely we cannot say that these stringent restrictions are unreasonable. How could we expect our gracious Creator to want any except the most loyal of heart and most faithful and obedient to be associated with the Lord of Life and Glory in His glorious kingdom work? This is the only calling which God has yet opened to humanity, and not until this elect class shall have been completed will the world's blessing be due to begin. It is my understanding of the Scriptures that the time for making our calling and election sure to this kingdom class is now very short. It therefore behooves all who desire this glorious relationship with Messiah to "give all diligence" and to "run with patience the race set before us" in the Gospel, looking unto Jesus, the Author of our faith, until He become the finisher.


The wonderful blessings of our day, which makes it so different from any other epoch in the world's history have reached even here to China, and we now see what already appear to be the beginnings of wonderful things. Evidently Divine Power within the past century has been lifting the veil, because we are just on the threshold of the new dispensation because the church (the elect sons of God) is about complete because "the manifestation of the sons of God" for the aid of the "groaning creation" is at hand because Messiah's kingdom glory is about to be ushered in. The blessings of the present are only a foretaste of those glorious blessings for the world of mankind. Oh, what compensations our loving God has provided for all the lessons of sin and sorrow, pain and death! He has promised that the former things shall be removed, nor can the mind comprehend what the glory of the future things will be! So then, to the patient, persevering, civil Chinese my message is an assurance that God's blessing is nigh at hand. For eighteen centuries He has been pouring out His holy Spirit upon these saintly ones, His servants and handmaidens, for their comfort and joy and preparation for the kingdom glory. The next thing in order is the pouring our of His spirit upon all flesh; that will include your race and all the families of the earth.

I cannot hope that any of you will feel drawn to become footstep followers of the lowly Nazarene, and even if many of you should so desire, we have the assurance of the Scriptures that the entire number will be but a "little flock;" but I do set before you the glorious prospects of human Restitution to all that was lost by Adam, to all that was redeemed at Calvary. I admonish you that all development of character you may make at the present time means so much of preparation and advancement for the future, and that all violation of conscience and antagonism to the principles of righteousness will work to your disadvantage in the future.

Therefore, as the Scriptures enjoin, "Seek meekness, seek righteousness; it may be that ye shall be hid in the day of the Lord's anger." (Zeph. 2:3) The day of Divine anger and special retribution is in the close of this Age, at the inauguration of the Kingdom.

The whole world of mankind will then be transferred into the hands of Messiah, who will take them just as they are. They will be in various conditions. Some will be more depraved, others less depraved; some will be more seared in their consciences and some less; and these deficiencies of character will depend upon the way in which each one accepted or rejected light and opportunity in the present time.

The selfishness which has marked the world's experiences, particularly within the past half century, is very reprehensible in God's sight, and Christendom, so highly favored of God, is to be held proportionately responsible. Hence the great time of trouble will fall with special severity upon Christendom. When you shall perceive this, rail not again Christianity, but realize that the Scriptures are being fulfilled, and that the dark cloud will be but temporary, and that behind it is hidden the most glorious vista of human blessing possible for the human mind to conceive. Prepare for it and especially seek to know the God of All Grace.

Prev   Next