The National Labor Tribune, August 10, 1916


New York City, August 6 Pastor Russell was at the New York City Temple today, and delivered an address of great power. His text was, "Every man's work shall be made manifest; for the Day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is." (1 Cor. 3:13) He said in part: [HGL839] We have now come to the time to which the Apostle refers as "the Day." Both Old and New Testament refer frequently to this period as "that Day." The reference is not to a twenty-four hour day, but to a period of time in the end of this Gospel Age, in which things will be different from what they had been before. We are greatly pleased to be living in this time; for in it occur not only special trials- "the fire of that Day" but also special blessings and enlightenment.

It has always been true that trials and testings are proportionate to knowledge and privilege. What a wonderful blessing is ours to be able to understand God's Word as we may today! In this respect especially is our day superior to all previous time. We possess the Bible in a most convenient form with marginal references, concordances, good type, etc. We have the ability to read; we have superior lights, comfortable houses, and shorter hours of labor, thus having more time for study than people have previously had. In fact, we have every advantage; and this means greater opportunities, greater blessings, greater responsibilities and greater trials.

As shown by our short context, the Apostle clearly points out that the fire of "the Day of the Lord" will burn up the faith structure of some. Our Lord Jesus, speaking of this same Day, said, "When the Son of Man cometh, shall He find the faith on the earth?" (Luke 18:8) He intimated that very few then would have the faith of God's Word, the true faith. The faith structure of many is likened in our text to "wood, hay and stubble" combustible materials. He indicates that such Christians have the proper Foundation Christ but a poor superstructure, because they did not build with proper material. Wood, hay and stubble represent a flimsy, inferior, unsuitable material, while gold, silver and precious stones represent substantial, superior, indestructible material. Those who have built with the wrong kind of material will suffer the loss of their entire faith-structure; but those who have used the right kind will pass safely through the fire. The faith structure will endure.


By contrasting these two kinds of building material, we believe that we are quite right in understanding that the gold, silver and precious stones represent the promises of God's Word, the teachings of Christ and the Apostles. This proper material must be built upon the only true Foundation Christ Jesus, our Ransom-sacrifice. (Acts 4:12; 1 Cor. 3:11) Evolution is no foundation. The creeds of the past are no foundation. The creeds were merely poor superstructures built upon the true Foundation. Christ is the one Foundation. Upon this substantial Foundation were built the twelve Apostles, who are Scripturally represented as precious stones. In these twelve foundation stones of the Church are the names of the twelve Apostles of the Lamb St. Paul taking the place of Judas. Rev. 21:14, 19, 20.

Upon this Foundation which God has furnished His Church, we are to build ourselves up in the most holy faith. Using the teachings and promises of the Bible for the erection of our faith-structure, we should make sure that we add to these nothing which men say. We are not to inquire what Calvin or Wesley or Knox says, and build their opinions into our structure, except as we prove every word by the Holy Scriptures. Rather, we are to ask, "What says the Word of God?" and to build with that alone; for it is all-sufficient. (2 Tim. 3:16, 17) We may get good suggestions from these various teachers; but we must build with the Word of God alone, if we would stand the test of "the fire of the Day of the Lord."


Having considered the true Foundation, we next inquire, What is meant by the wood, hay and stubble with which many build upon it? These represent the creeds of the past and of the present, not founded upon the Bible, not established by the Word of God. These are "the traditions of men," to which our Lord referred at His First Advent, when He said to the Jewish teachers, "Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition." (Matt. 15:1-9) There are many of that kind today, who always wish to know what the Church fathers or commentaries and theological works have to say about a subject. All this is the wood, hay and stubble which will be consumed in the fire of our day.

We believe that we have come down to the testing time, the Day of reckoning. For the past forty years the fire has been under way. Those Christians who have built with the gold, silver and precious stones of the Word of God will not be injured by this fire; but those Christians who have not built wisely or carefully will suffer loss, and will have a great deal of trouble as a result of that loss. Already this burning has consumed much wood, hay and stubble theology.

For instance, in nearly every public audience which we address, perhaps three-fourths of them, as Christians, have lost their faith-structure. If asked what they believe, many of them will reply, "I do not know what I believe, I only know that I believe in Jesus; but I do not feel very sure as to what to believe about Him." Such have no faith-structure; but if they are still on the Foundation, Christ Jesus, they may thank God. Probably they are the better off for the loss of any part of their faith that was erroneous. Some of us have had what wood, hay and stubble we possessed burned up; and we are all the better off for the loss. We did not know how poor we were until our false theology was consumed. Something has occurred that has burned out this false doctrine. It is the fire of this Day.


The Lord has divided the world's history under its sin and death experiences into six great Days of a thousand years each. As the Apostle declared, "A Day with the Lord is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one Day." (2 Pet. 3:8) God used the six days of our ordinary week to symbolize man's great Work-Week of six thousand years from the fall of man until the time for the beginning of his recovery as a race until the great Seventh Day should begin.

God has given fallen man these six thousand years during which to show what he can do toward his own uplift, to prove how the race can manage themselves. Mankind have tried to overcome the weaknesses and infirmities of the race'mental, moral and physical. They have sought to rid themselves of sickness, pain and death, have sought [HGL840] to find some elixir of life which would heal their diseases and restore their youth and health. The ablest physicians have been unable to discover the secret of perfect life. Their only hope is to keep abreast with the new diseases that are coming up; but they cannot prevent sickness and death. Man's best efforts have been in vain. Is man, then, ready to look to the Lord for help?

Gradually the whole world is being convinced that unless God shall bless mankind and give back life to the race, unless He shall come to the rescue of humanity, they are both helpless and hopeless.

With respect to the morals of the world, the case is as bad or worse than their physical condition. As we read of the morality of some of the heathen kings of the remote past, we are astonished; for it seems far beyond that of today. It puts to shame much that may be found amongst kings and princes of our day, as well as amongst the common people. Has morality increased, then, in modern times? We think not.

We see a striking example of present-day immorality amongst the so-called Christian nations now at war, where the theory of the "Survival of the Fittest" no longer holds. On the contrary, it seems now like the destruction of the fittest. Despite their assertions, their claim that they are fighting for God, for civilization and for humanity, nothing is clearer to the on-lookers than that the rival combatants are waging a war for commercialism. One holds the commerce of the world by sea power. The other wishes to get a share of that commerce. And so the struggle continues, a selfish strife for place and preferment above their neighbors, a spirit of slavery. For a century past, these warring nations have been engaged in land-grabbing and in holding these possessions, at times against the best interests of the peoples from whom they were taken.


How these nations have haggled about this war! It took Italy three months to decide which side to join which side would pay the higher price for her services. Yet she claims to be 100% Christian. One might as well hire a man to sandbag a personal enemy as to pay a nation to take part in a war. The principle would be identical. The same condition obtained with Japan. That little kingdom suggested that if the price were paid, she would send five hundred thousand soldiers to become murderers. "If you will give us Cochin China (a section of land stolen from China by the French), we will go into the wholesale killing business for you," was the sentiment. What gross immorality!

All this is not hurting real Christianity, however, It is only manifesting the false claims of those nations which have called themselves Christians. We are now in the Day of the Lord, when every hidden thing is being brought to light, as He forewarned us. There are saints in all these countries; but they are not making these false claims and professions, nor are they responsible for this war. In any country, the true saints are very greatly in the minority. The utter falsity of the claim that for eleven hundred years the world has been governed by Christian nations Christendom, Christ's Kingdom is being made clear. The Word of the Lord is now shining forth as never before. The world is taking knowledge that the present condition of things is radically wrong.

The fire of this Day is spreading, and the light goes with it. The whole world is becoming involved, just as the Bible has predicted for this Day. As the fire of trouble spreads, the light of Truth spreads also. God represents Himself as "a consuming fire." (Heb. 12:29) We also read that "God is Light, and in Him is no darkness at all." (1 John 1:5) The figures of fire and light are both applicable to Him. The sun is a ball of fire, and at the same time a source of light. God is a consuming fire to every form of iniquity and injustice; and all systems founded upon selfishness and inequity must go down during this great Day of the Lord, when He has risen to shake terribly the earth. Isa. 2:12-19

In the present time of trouble and distress of nations, however, there is light for the "children of light," while the consuming fire is doing its work of destroying everything that is wrong. We have come down to "that Day," wherein "the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is." The fire has already started.


The fire which is consuming the false faith-structure of many in our day is the light of knowledge. This fire is burning up false faith and doctrine, and all that is built thereon. Much that is generally taught and accepted as Truth today is utterly subversive of all true faith and doctrine. The fire of God in this Day of Christ is destined to destroy all false teaching and the works resulting therefrom.

The great institutions of learning of Europe and America today are hot-beds of infidelity. Most of these institutions were founded by the churches as mediums for the Christian education of our youth, and were called the custodians of Christianity. Today there is hardly one Christian college. The young people who are sent to these schools soon have whatever faith they possessed destroyed. They hear the Bible story laughed at and ridiculed. Faith in the fundamental doctrines of the Scriptures is met with sneers. Those whose faith in God and in His Word has been destroyed by the influence of the religious institutions of our day need our help. We should do all in our power to build them up.

There has never been a time when the people seem so anxious to hear as now. They are bewildered sheep, longing to hear the voice of the true Shepherd. They refuse longer to believe the eternal torture doctrines of the past; and they find no soul-satisfaction in the Christless, loveless teachings held out to them today as spiritual food. Let us give them the Truth of God's Word, which will satisfy their hearts as nothing else can do.

When we tell them about the fall in Adam, the redemption in Christ, the selection of the Church in this Age, and the blessing of the whole world in the coming Age, now so near at hand, when through Christ's Kingdom all the willing and obedient shall be helped up out of death, sin and sorrow into life, joy and peace, there is something soul-satisfying in this Message. To a hungry, sorrowing heart the doctrine of Evolution is poor comfort indeed! [HGL841]


This great burning of our day will not stop with the church. The fire of this great Day will continue its work until all of the tares are consumed not as individuals, but as imitation Christians. Heretofore there has been no separation of wheat and tares in the nominal church systems. In His parable of the Wheat and the Tares (Matt. 13:24-30, 36-43), our Lord directed that both were to be permitted to grow together until the Harvest, and that then the separation would come. This time of separation is here. For nearly forty years the work has been under way, and is nearing its completion, we believe. The whole field must be cleaned up for the new crop of the incoming Age.

Who shall be able to abide in these burnings? (Isa. 33:10-17) Only those who have built with the gold, silver and precious stones of the Truth of God's Word. Everything but the Truth and the structures built thereupon will be consumed. The social "earth," as well as the ecclesiastical "heavens," with all its various elements political, industrial, financial, etc. will be burned up. (2 Pet. 3:10, 14) The fire will cease only when there is nothing left to burn. It will be a lasting fire one that will continue until everything of the present order of things shall have been consumed. It will burn even down into the Millennial Age; "for our God is a consuming fire," and is irreconcilably opposed to all wrong, injustice, impurity and unrighteousness. There will be a clean world when His work is completed.

For many centuries men have tried to patch up this old order of things, and the Lord has permitted them to do their best. Now is His time to work. He will not patch up the old order. If the world were in that condition in which a little patching would do, it would have been done. If Babylon could have been healed, the healing would have been done. But the case is too desperate for anything less than just what God now purposes. (Matt. 9:16, 17; Jer. 51:8, 9) The world has failed to hear the message which God has sent through Christ and the Church; and therefore the curse is coming The Time of Trouble. But after that curse of trouble will come "the desire of all nations" -the Messianic Kingdom of peace and righteousness.

Prev   Next