1915 Convention Report Supplement


"Be ye Holy, for I am Holy." (1 Pet. 1:16)

The Word "holy" is related to our word "whole," which signifies to be complete, not broken, not partial. Viewed from this standpoint, this is a wonderful exhortation. Our Lord Jesus also exhorted us, "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father in Heaven is perfect." Very properly we notice who are thus addressed. It is not the world; for the Bible is not addressed to the world. The world in its fallen condition, out of harmony with God, and not seeking to know God's will, is not in a position where God can thus address them. They are aliens, strangers, foreigners, as the Lord speaks of them through St. Paul. They have neither part nor lot in the things of God at this time. The world by its wisdom knows not God. His great Plan, so far as the world of mankind is concerned, is yet future. The world is loved sympathetically by the Heavenly Father, and they are ultimately to have a glorious place in His provision, but not yet.

During the long period of time from Adam to the making of the Covenant with Israel, God recognized no nation of people. They were cut off from fellowship with Him. He did, indeed, speak through a few, such as Enoch, Noah, and Abraham and He made certain declarations to them not clearly understood by any at that time. None were permitted to come into covenant relationship with God, except in the sense that Abraham did, and through animal sacrifices, which typified the great sacrifice for sins yet to come. Then came God's dealings with the one nation of Israel. He separated them from all other nations, and said, "You only have I known [recognized] of all the families of the earth." He commanded them to be holy. He gave them His law, and promised that if they would keep the law they should have everlasting life; they might have those gracious privileges which God mentioned to Father Abraham; namely, that through them all the families of the earth might be blessed. They thought they could keep God's Law; they thought they could be holy; but they found they could not.

This holiness was briefly comprehended in the command, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy mind, with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself." What holiness, what completeness, that would be! But the difficulty with the nation of Israel was that they could not keep the Law Covenant because they were imperfect. No imperfect man could keep a perfect law. They could not be holy that was the long and short of it.

You remember that God permitted them to offer typical sacrifices year by year for over 1, 600 years, and thus they renewed this arrangement yearly on the annual Day of Atonement. This arrangement made them acceptable to God for the ensuing year, and thus they were kept in covenant relationship with Him. They tried over and over again to keep the Law, and continually failed. The Apostle Paul tells us that not a single Jew during all that time was justified through keeping the law. "By the deeds of the Law shall no flesh be justified" in God's sight.


Then came the Gospel Dispensation. Jesus, by His life and by His preaching gave forth a message of mercy, a message of peace, even to those Jews who could not keep the Law, saying still to them, "Be ye holy." They had tried to be holy during all those many centuries but failed, and how could they be expected to be holy now any more than before? How could they be complete, lacking nothing, any more than previously? Ah, there was a secret, which Jesus disclosed to the earnest and sincere, the "Israelites indeed!" The reason why any could keep the Law after Jesus came, while the Jews could not, was that Christ accomplished an important work; applicable to those who become His disciples. The Jews could not succeed, but we can. How can Christians keep God's Law when the Jews could not? Are we wiser or better born than they? Nay, verily. Naturally "we are all children of wrath, even as others." How, then, do we keep the Law?

In the absolute sense we cannot keep God's Law any more than could the Jews. You have proven to your satisfaction, no doubt, and I have proven to my satisfaction, that we cannot keep that perfect Law in the sense that we would have no imperfection of word, thought or action. We do not in that sense keep the Law. What, then, did the Apostle mean by saying that "the righteousness of the Law is fulfilled in us?" He means that God has made an arrangement through Jesus which legally cancels our imperfections, and makes them as though they did not exist. Thus, by keeping the Law in spirit, and having Jesus cancel the [HGL646] infirmities of our body, which is merely our temporary property, we are perfect before God, we keep His Law.


We see, first of all, that the Lord Jesus, according to the Father's Plan, laid down His life as a Ransom, a corresponding price, for the life of Father Adam, and this included all the race of Adam, because they fell in him, before they were born. Father Adam sinned and the penalty was death. That penalty must be met. Adam died, and all his children have been born under the conditions of sin and imperfection and death during the past six thousand years. They have been dying because sin entered into the world by one man's disobedience, as the Apostle explains. What, then, did Jesus' death accomplish? This: through His death He secured the right to annul Adam's death sentence and to take possession of all the world of mankind. Thus Adam and all his posterity will be awakened from death. Otherwise the entire race would have to suffer eternal death; for the penalty of sin was not merely dying, but remaining dead forever.

When will Jesus take possession of the world? At the beginning of His Messianic Kingdom. Mankind are something like a scrap-heap of old machines, engines, boilers, etc., all rusted and twisted out of shape. They do not see fit for much of anything. But the One taking control has infinite power and ability to rejuvenate and reorganize all of these defective beings. This will be His work during the thousand years of His reign. It will affect all the dead as well as those now having a measure of life. He will bring mankind up out of the conditions of sin and degradation and death, back to the perfection lost in Eden, redeemed by Himself at Calvary.

Why has God not yet done this work for the world? Because this is not His Plan. God purposed to allow sin to demonstrate for six thousand years its awful fruitage, and then to bring in a great Sabbath Day, the great Millennial Sabbath of a thousand years, and in that time to do a work for mankind which they cannot do for themselves. He is to do this work through Jesus, His appointed Channel. In the meantime He has been selecting and preparing the classes who will be His agents, under Christ, to accomplish His great work for man first an earthly class and then a spiritual class. God has purposed that Jesus shall be the great King of the world, and that the spiritual class, the Church, shall be associate kings under Him.

Moreover, the Heavenly Father has purposed that Jesus and the Church shall be a Priesthood to bless and instruct the world over whom they will reign as Kings. Such a work was the portion of the priests who were appointed under the Law of Israel. They were teachers and helpers of the people. This Priesthood that God is preparing has Jesus for its great High Priest and the Church as under priests. They are also to be the judges of the people. These different features of their future work were shown in type in the anointed priesthood of Israel, in their anointed kings, and in their judges. The Apostle says, "Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world?" (1 Cor. 6:2) The Christ, Head and Body, are also to be the world's great Prophet, and antitype of Moses. (Acts 3:22, 23)

All this shows us that the Church is separate and distinct from the world at large. As Jesus said, "Ye are not of the world, even as I am not of the world." "I have chosen you out of the world." There are two different camps. What God will do for the world through Jesus in the incoming Age, by restoring whosoever will to all that was lost in Adam, bringing them back to human perfection, is something very different from what He is doing for the Church now. The inheritance of the faithful Church is to be spiritual, not earthly. It is the Church that is now called upon to be holy.

All the world, in due time, will be called upon to be holy. That will be the rule of the Millennial Age. All mankind will then have the standard of holiness set before them, and by the assistance of The Christ, Restitution to perfection will be accomplished in all who will then be willing and obedient, and they may become holy as was Adam in his perfection. He was holy until he sinned. Jesus was holy in the perfection of human nature while on earth. The whole world will be expected to come up to the condition of holiness, of completeness, nothing lacking, nothing imperfect. The merit which Jesus has, by virtue of His faithfulness to the Father even unto death, gives Him the right to purchase the human family and help them back to that condition of completeness, of perfection, where they can be holy as God is holy. The angels evidently are holy as God is holy. They have no sin, incompleteness or imperfection.


What, then, is the difference in the call to holiness now extended to those who have an "ear to hear" God's present Message? The point is right here. It is not our flesh that is holy. It is the New Creature that is holy. Our human imperfections are covered by the imputed righteousness of Christ. This unique dealing with the Gospel Church is for a specific purpose. We understand that God, who had already created various ranks of angels and other spirit beings, and who then created man, a little lower than the angels, had it in His Plan before the foundation of the world that He would in due time have a New Creation, different from anything created before, and that this would be the greatest, most wonderful creation of all.

This New Creation, God tells us (2 Pet. 1:4), is to have the Divine nature, which is His own nature. It will not only be higher than the human nature, which in perfection is the image of God, but it will be higher than the angels, who are also in the image of God. It will be higher than seraphim and cherubim and all forms of spirit life. It will be the very pinnacle of life, spirit nature in its highest form. It is this New Creation that God first began to develop in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ when He was here upon earth, and at the time of His baptism. The Father's purpose in sending Him into the world was, first, that He might be the world's Redeemer; second, that He might become the Leader of the Church. The Apostle declares that "in bringing many sons to glory" not bringing the world back to the earthly sonship lost in Adam; for he was not then discussing the world's salvation; but in bringing the Heavenly sons to glory, honor and immortality it pleased God to "make the Captain of their salvation perfect" [HGL647] "through suffering." God has made Him to be Head over the Church, which is His Body. The Church is a body in the same sense that Congress is a body. Jesus will be the Executive Officer. The work of the Gospel Age has been to gather the members of this Body. The blessings promised to the world cannot go to it until this work of gathering and developing the spiritual Body of Christ has been completed. We believe that this work is now almost accomplished.

The Bible tells us that for the joy that was set before Him Jesus endured all His sufferings even unto death. No doubt He had some of the joy before He left the Heavenly condition and humbled Himself to become a man. He had set before him by the Father the joy of being the greatest servant of God, of doing His will and of redeeming the world of mankind. For this joy He despised, or set at naught, the shame, and was crucified, for which cause the Father supremely exalted Him to a place at His own right hand. Jesus did not need any one to be His Redeemer, to make good for Him, because He was able to keep the Law. He was perfect before He came into the world, as the Father was perfect, and in the same sense. He came into the world as a perfect babe, He became a perfect man. "He knew no sin." "He was holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners."

The Bible explains how Jesus could be so different from the remainder of the race. It was because He was specially conceived and born; He had a different Father; He came not from Adam. His life came from the Father Above. It was transferred from a pre-human condition. He had an earthly mother, and received the human nature thus. But He had a separate, distinct life from Heaven, and therefore His perfection. As a man He was whole, complete.

After our Lord had finished His sacrifice in obedience to the Father's will, and had been resurrected, and had ascended to the Father, the next thing was the calling of the Church. The Father alone could do that, and it was the Father's purpose, after the Son had made reconciliation for iniquity. Therefore, although Jesus gathered and taught some disciples, even these were incomplete, not yet New Creatures. He had to speak to them from the viewpoint of faith, of their prospective sonship. They did not receive the begetting of the Spirit until Pentecost, because, as the Apostle explains, "Jesus was not yet glorified." He must first die and be resurrected, and then ascend on High and appear in the presence of God and be recognized as the One who had fully kept the Divine Law, as the One whose sacrifice was all-sufficient to be a satisfaction for sin, as the One worthy to be the Head of the Church, the Channel through which the blessings would come to all His "fellows," the members of His Body, who will be associated with Him in the Kingdom.


Now we see what the Apostle means when He says, "Present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service." We should rejoice to know that if we offer to God the little we have, Jesus will make up what is needed to make our sacrifice fully acceptable to the Father. When the Holy Spirit comes upon one, an unction from on High, it constitutes him a son of God, on a new plane. He is no longer counted as a human being; he has been begotten as a spirit being.

But he has no spirit body as yet. He still has the old body, the brain. A new will is there, a new mind. We have the mind of Christ. We had the mind, the disposition, of Christ to present ourselves as a sacrifice, but when we were begotten of the Holy Spirit we received from the start, the embryo, of a new nature. We became New Creatures in Christ.

This New Creature must use the old body to practice on. The Lord says, in effect, "I will not give you the new body now, but I will give you an earnest, or hand-payment." When you make a purchase of real estate you are expected to pay something down to bind the contract, and you may pay the remainder when you get the deed. So when we enter into this contract with the Lord He binds the contract by giving us the begetting of the Spirit, the beginning of our glorious inheritance. If we continue to walk humbly and faithfully before Him, and seek to do His will as we agreed to do, we will be more and more filled with the Spirit, until eventually God will complete the matter by giving the birth of the Spirit. That will be the resurrection "change." The new mind will then be transferred to a Divine spirit body. Then the New Creature will be complete. During the present life the New Creature must dwell in this earthly tabernacle, the human body. "We who are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened." (2 Cor. 5:4) Why do we groan? Because, first, this tabernacle is twisted and weak and unsatisfactory in various ways; and second, because an earthly body is not adapted to the cravings and aspirations of a spiritual mind. With the new body the New Creature will be complete. Now the New Creature has the mind of God, desiring in all things to do His will, but the body in which it is tabernacling has inclinations and desires toward earthly things. The New Creature desires to live separate from and above sin and all the things of the flesh. So, as the Apostle tells us, there is a continual warfare between the old nature and the new, the flesh lusting against the Spirit, and Spirit against the flesh.

The human body is your body in the sense that a dog may be your dog. The dog is yours, not you. It is not the same with the world. They do not have a new mind. They have not received the begetting of the Holy Spirit. They merely have a natural mind in harmony with a natural body.

But the fallen human body of the saints cannot do the things that the New Creature would have it do, and never will do these things perfectly. How, then, can we be holy? We become holy by having Christ's merit imputed to us, and this merit keeps us holy. The Bible speaks of this imputation of Christ's merit as a robe to cover us, constituting us acceptable to God. We are entirely acceptable if we have this wedding garment on. If we take it off, we lose our lives as New Creatures. But so long as we have the merit of Jesus covering our unintentional blemishes that belong to the fallen nature, that we are not able to overcome, the Father does not regard us from the standpoint of sinners, but from the standpoint of our new nature "Ye are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of Christ dwell in you."

It is the New Creature that is to be holy like the Father in Heaven; it is the New Creature that is to be perfect as [HGL648] the Father in Heaven is perfect not the flesh. Does this give us liberty to sin with our bodies? God forbid. "How shall we who have died to sin live any longer therein?" says the Apostle. If we made a voluntary surrender of our lives, if we consecrated ourselves unto death in opposition to sin, how shall we live in sin, how shall we find pleasure in sin? If we enjoy sin it is a sign that we do not have the Holy Spirit. The mind of the Lord does not enjoy sin. We are to make a clear distinction, however, between the impulses of the flesh and the desire of the heart. Any one of God's people might be overtaken in a fault through the impulses of his fallen human nature, and under stress of circumstances be led to do or say something that he did not approve. But so surely as he is a New Creature he will wish to make amends for his faults, toward fellow men or toward God, in order to come back into full harmony with the Lord.


God is judging us according to our heart. "Man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart." The world cannot know all about you and me. They may say, "I do not believe there is any difference between us." They may think our position is all hypocrisy. But we must not judge them. They are looking at things from the natural standpoint, and when they see that we have said or done something that is unkind or improper, they draw their conclusions accordingly. We wish to do the Lord's will. That must be the attitude of our heart. If we willingly consent to sin, we are partakers of the sin. If we have love for sin, a sympathy for sin, it would be a sign that we have lost the spirit of holiness.

If we are overtaken in a fault, then, what shall we do? We must correct this. The Apostle says, "If we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged; but when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord." (1 Cor. 11:31, 32) We see that St. Paul's thought is this: If you and I as New Creatures are seeking to be holy as God is holy, we will watch our words and conduct and try to keep a strict rule over our body; that if the mortal body makes some break and gets temporarily from under control, we will get after it and will make it do something in the way of punishment; we will correct the body to make it remember for the future. Suppose you had a dog quite well trained, so you thought you had him well in hand. If he were to break away some day and do something you did not want him to do, you might put a muzzle on him and chain him up. You might give him a little switching also, and all of this would be to make him remember that he must not do so again.

So the New Creature, when he finds that his old creature has transgressed, must bring it back into proper subjection, and then give himself some kind of chastisement. A little child had a mother who was quite wise in knowing how to deal with him. Of course, all children cannot be dealt with alike. But to punish her child when disobedient this mother had the custom of sending him into a certain closet, where he was made to sit for a half hour or so to think over what he had done and to make up his mind to do right thereafter. One day the mother missed Johnnie. She looked all over the house for him. By and by she found him in the closet. She said, "Why Johnnie, I did not send you in here; why are you here?" Johnnie replied, "Me is taking some thinks." He was administering punishment to himself. That is certainly the thought. If we as God's children would judge ourselves, the Heavenly Father would not need to send chastisements upon us. If we neglect this, if we are heedless, He will send the chastisements, because He does not wish us to be "condemned with the world."

All true Christians should be on the alert to note God's providences. Nothing can come to us by accident; for all things must work together for our good. If anything occurs to God's consecrated people, it must be something that would be good for them or that He has permitted to teach some lesson. If we meet with what would appear to be an accident, if we get into some dilemma, if some peculiar experience comes to us, we should say, "Is this something to teach me a special lesson or is it a chastisement from my Father for wrong-doing?"

The Apostle intimates that even physical sickness in one of the Church may be accounted for in this way. I do not mean, however, that all our sickness can be thus accounted for. We read of one of the Lord's faithful children who "was sick nigh unto death," because of over-work in the Lord's service, which had seemed necessary, and there is no intimation that he was miraculously healed. But every experience of a faithful child of God works out for his good and the Lord's glory.

Every child of God needs to be disciplined in order that his character may be developed. Even the Lord Jesus had disciplining, we remember. They were never punishments for sin in His case. And it is for us to be on guard to see that our disciplinings be not in the nature of punishments, so that we may get the greatest benefit from them. "If we judge ourselves, we shall not be judged." How shall we judge ourselves? We made a suggestion recently in the WATCH TOWER respecting the keeping of a careful watch on our thoughts, of starting out properly in the morning, and seeking during the day to cultivate the Spirit of the Lord, the spirit of love. We suggested that at the close of the day an examination be made to determine to what extent we have been successful, to what extent we have walked in a manner pleasing to the Lord, and have been faithful to our opportunities of service. By so doing, we will be able to judge ourselves.

We should first go direct to the Lord for forgiveness if we have done anything displeasing in His sight. Next we should seek to make good any wrong we have done to another. If some one has been wronged, and we cannot make it good, we should try to make amends in some way, so as not to profit by that which was wrong. In these ways the body will be taught that it must do right. It will not be pleasing to the old creature to humbly make acknowledgment to the Lord and to those who may have been wronged, and then to make restitution where restitution is in order. But it must be done.

I am reminded of a story. It is said that a Christian man, who had been by nature inclined to be penurious, was driving along a country road. He saw a poor man and was about to pass him by. Then he thought, "I will give this man a quarter." He was about to give him the money when he thought, "Oh, a nickel will do." But he caught himself and said, "See here, old flesh of mine, you are mean! You could give a quarter, you know you could. You were going [HGL649] to cheat me out of a blessing. Now I will give the man a half dollar." And he did so. So in this way the New Creature can discipline the old body. The Lord will look down and see how anxious we are to do His will; how we are striving every day to keep as near as possible to His standard, and His love will go out to us more and more as He sees this spirit demonstrated in us.


There is another part to this matter of holiness, or wholeness. How much it includes! We are to study God's character and see what His wholeness, or completeness is. You and I as New Creatures are coming to see how wise is our Heavenly Father. So we will try to be wise also. The Bible explains how the Lord's children are to be wise. They are to have "the spirit of a sound mind." Our minds were not sound, being blemished through the fall, but the new mind is loyal to God. The Scriptures tell us what God's will for us is, what His mind is, and we are to copy Him. As we see that God plans ahead, we become wiser by planning ahead.

But did not Jesus say, "Take no thought for the morrow?" Jesus said that you should take no anxious care for the morrow. You may think about tomorrow and plan about it. God knew His entire Plan before the foundation of the world. He thought of the morrow and did not create the world recklessly. We should not bring children into the world recklessly nor do anything else recklessly. We should be as wise as possible in what we do and say. It would make a great change in men's lives if they all tried to be as wise as God is wise.

A brother came to me and said, "Brother Russell, I owe so much to Present Truth. Not only has it made may heart happier, but it has changed my entire life. I am a carpenter. As such I am occasionally sent here and there by the firm which employs me. They have increased my wages; they say I am doing better work. I am sure I can think better and reason better." He was learning to be wise, to be more Godlike, and it was profitable to him even in earthly matters.

I think of another brother, a rather bright looking man above the average in appearance. I said to him, "What is your occupation?" He answered, "I am foreman for such a building firm." "Have you been long at this?" I asked. He replied, "I was working at it before I came to the knowledge of God's Word, but I was not foreman; I did not then know how to read. My study and reading has been altogether in the SCRIPTURE STUDIES My firm has now put me in as foremen. All the business of the firm passes through my hands." Thus the knowledge of God applied to his life made this man wiser in respect to his avocation. We have a wise God. If we try to be holy, it will include this quality of wisdom.

It will include another quality that of justice. What a wonderful thing justice is! My appreciation of justice is growing every day. I see that it is the most wonderful thing in the world to be simply just. Some say, "Anybody can be just. I would not take a penny from any man." But it means more than this. It means not only not to take a penny, but not to take a thousand dollars. There are people who would take a thousand dollars or ten thousand or a million who would not take a penny. A penny would not be sufficient inducement. But to be just includes not only financial matters, but it means to be just with our neighbors, with those to whom you sell and those of whom you buy. It means to give right value, and to be willing that those you buy from shall have a decent profit on their sale. It means that you will not haggle them down until they will not have a reasonable profit. It means to deal justly, generously, as you would be dealt with.

Moreover, the Christian may be unjust in his thoughts of his neighbors. You have no right to think evil of any one. That does not mean that you should trust every one indiscriminately. Keep your eye open, but do not think evil. It is unjust, and we wish to be copies of God. Some of the Lord's people are lacking in complete justice. Their old bodies have minds badly twisted, and the New Creature has not yet discovered what the trouble is, and has not taken the matter fully in hand. I believe we need to practise on this, to think along the lines of justice. Let us try more and more to criticize our own deeds and thoughts, because, unless we have this quality of justice well developed as New Creatures, how can we expect to be fitted for a place in God's Kingdom? If we are not just, how could we be fit to judge others then?

We need also another quality, and that is love. This is the bond of perfection, the great completeness of all. Nothing would be complete without love. Love comes in as the crown, the climax. "God is Love." He has Justice, Mercy, Wisdom, Power, but He IS Love. That is the essence of His character; that is the dominating feature. But He will not be loving at the expense of Justice, in the arrangements He has made for mankind. So let us copy God in His love. Love extends into every avenue of life. It is an essential quality of holiness.

Finally, all these noble qualities are to find their outgrowth in the Church of God, which is the Body of Christ. We should make up our minds, too, to Love especially all who are the Lord's. Not all of the Lord's people are just what we would like to have them. But God has not given us the work of making them over. He will attend to that. Our chief work is with ourselves. We are interested in the brethren, however. We are all soldiers under the one great Captain, we are members of the same Bride class, all called with the same Heavenly Calling. We have been begotten with the same Holy Spirit, have one Father and one Savior and Elder Brother, if we are in the School of Christ and are learning of Him. How we should love the brethren, then! The Bible puts this as one of the unmistakable evidences that we have passed from death unto life if we love the brethren.

It is not enough that we have said, I desire to be a child of God, I would like to sit with Christ in His Throne. Any reasonable person would like to be with Christ in glory, honor and immortality. If we hope to be of that class, we must qualify ourselves for that place. We have promised to give our human nature and all our earthly interests. We have consecrated ourselves to be dead to these and alive toward God. It is pointed out to us in God's Word what it is to be holy as our Father is holy, to be perfect as He is perfect. Then let this mind be in us which was in Christ [HGL650] Jesus our Lord. "Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time."

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