The Cincinnati Weekly Enquirer, July 16, 1908


Dallas, Texas, July 12. Pastor C. T. Russell, of Pittsburg, Penn., addressed the Bible Students' Convention, in session here, this afternoon at the Maccabee Temple. He took for his text "Where, O Death, Is Thy Sting? Where, O Hades, Is Thy Victory?" (1 Cor. 15:55)

The speaker said: Our text is usually read out of its connection, and hence to the majority is meaningless or worse. To those who have parted from loved ones by death, by the grave, it sounds ironical indeed to say, "O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?"

The grave is surely gaining a great victory over humanity at the present time, since it sweeps up an average of 90,000 human lives each day. And that there is a sting to death need not be told, for it has touched every member of our race.

We wish it, therefore, to be distinctly understood that the Apostle is not responsible for such a misconception of his words as is usually drawn from them, by the sum of the thousands of educated ministers who throughout the world are ostensibly devoting their time to expounding the Word of God to 400,000,000 of nominal Christians. To understand the Apostle we must note the logic of his reasoning, his argument, of which our text is a part. He is not denying the actuality of death, the actuality of sin, the actuality of its sting and of the victory of death!

On the contrary, he is setting forth these very things. His argument from Verse 12 to Verse 22 is that death is a horrible reality; that the only hope of escape from it is through a resurrection of the dead, and that the only hope of a resurrection lies in the fact that Christ has died for humanity – the just for the unjust; that He was raised from the dead, and eventually is to bring forth from the power of the tomb all mankind [NS567] purchased by His precious blood; for, "as all in Adam die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive, but every man in his own order." (1 Cor. 15:22-23)

He has made the actuality of death so prominent as to declare that if there be no resurrection the Christian's faith is vain; that all mankind are yet in their sins, and those who have gone down into death are perished. Vs. 17-18


Proceeding with his argument further, the Apostle shows that as the death of Christ was necessary for the redemption of man from the power of sin and death, so His resurrection was necessary before He could be the King, the great Deliverer and Lifegiver. He proceeds to show that the church now being selected by faith is a first fruits to God, and that following the gathering of the church to Himself will come its glorification in a share in the First Resurrection, describing it as follows: "It is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown an animal body, it is raised a spiritual body." (Vs. 42-44)

The Apostle points out that this glorified church, which is to share with Christ His Millennial Kingdom, His glory and His power for the blessing of the world, must be gathered first, and then the reign of Christ will begin, in harmony with the petition of His prayer, "Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is done in Heaven." [Matt. 6:10]

That reign of the Lord and His glorified church, His bride, during the millennium, he assures us, will accomplish great things, for He must reign until He hath put all enemies under His feet; the last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. Then He shall deliver up the kingdom to God, even the Father, by whose authority and in whose power the millennial reign will be inaugurated and brought to a successful issue. Vs. 24-38 Explaining the transition from the present reign of sin and death to the reign of righteousness and life, the Apostle tell us that not only those of the church who have already fallen asleep in the unconsciousness of death would be awakened spirit beings, immortal, but that those of the same class living at that time would not need to sleep, but in dying would be changed instantly, "in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye." (V. 52)

Thus, under divine providence would be inaugurated


The Apostle presupposes some general information among his readers respecting what blessing is coming to the world at the second coming of Christ and the glorification of the Church, the elect. Elsewhere in his writings this is very prominent that the Church constitutes the Spiritual Seed of Abraham, and that its mission when completed, when glorified, is to fulfill the divine promise made to Abraham, "In thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed." (1 Cor. 15:22, 23) [Gen. 22:18]

The blessing which the world needs and which God has promised is the removal of the curse, which for six thousand years has rested upon Adam and his race. This is not, as many suppose, a curse or sentence to eternal torment, but the curse or sentence of death.

The removal of the curse would mean the release of humanity from the death sentence; the bringing of mankind out of the sin and death conditions which have prevailed against all ever since our first parents, through"original sin," brought themselves and us as convicts under the calamity of death and its concomitants of sorrow, pain, trouble of mind and body, and its incidentals of death-dealing conditions, storms, cyclones, earthquakes, floods, famines, etc., all elements of the reign of sin and death. For many centuries before the Lord came into the world God had vaguely stated His purpose of ultimately blessing mankind. But not until the death of Jesus, the just for the unjust, and the application of the merit of His sacrifice to believers could any be fully restored to the divine favor.

These, called the "household of faith," have, indeed, enjoyed much blessing of the Lord in proportion as they were able to exercise faith in His promises; but they were obliged to walk by faith and not by sight – and, indeed, the trial of their faith constitutes a part of their testing. Their real blessing, their real deliverance from sin and death, cannot come until the end of this age, until the resurrection of the just, the saints – the First Resurrection. Following in general from the death sentence; as the Lord has declared He will wipe away all tears from off all faces; there shall be no more sighing and crying and dying, because all the former things shall have passed away. (Rev. 21:4)

This therefore, will include the blessing, not only of the living world at the time, but also the blessing of the thousand of millions who have gone down into the tomb, to the prison house of death, called in the Old Testament Hebrew, sheol, and in the New Testament, Greek, hades. The awakening of these will be but the first step in the blessing that is to come to them. Following this will be their enlightenment with a knowledge of the truth until that knowledge shall be so complete that there will be no need to say every man to his neighbor, Know thou the Lord, because all shall know Him; the knowledge will be so widespread that every knee will bow and every tongue confess to the glory of God. (Jer. 31:34; Isa. 14:23)

With this release from the bondage of sin and death will come proportionate responsibility [NS568] to each individual, and only those who from the heart shall accept Messiah's rule and become lovers of righteousness and haters of iniquity – only such shall be counted worthy of the eternal life conditions beyond the millennium; all others shall die at the Second Death, be as though they had not been.


Those who have followed our argument may now comprehend the apostle's words of our text – "Then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written death is swallowed up in victory. Oh, death, where is thy sting? Oh, grave (hades), where is thy victory?" Ah, yes! then, and not now, will be the victory of the great Messiah. As yet death has the victory – sin dominates the world, and the Lord's faithful fall with the rest of mankind under the power of hades, the tomb. But then, at the close of the Millennial age, everything will be very different, the victorious Messiah shall have swallowed up death in victory, death shall no longer reign over the race, but instead of it life.

None will longer need to die, none will die except as a sinner for willful, deliberate refusal to accept the gracious provisions of that time. How grand that consummation of God's plans, as compared with the one which so many of us have received from childhood and which is taught by all the creeds of Christendom! And by the way, it should be noted that our text is supposed to be a quotation from Hosea, which reads, "I will ransom them from the power of the grave (sheol), I will redeem them from death. Oh death, I will be thy plagues. Oh, grave (sheol), I will be thy destruction! Repentance shall be hid from mine eyes." Hos. 13:14

We remind you, dear friends, that the word here rendered grave is in Hebrew sheol, the only word rendered hell throughout the Old Testament. Grave or tomb is its proper rendering, though the majority are kept in ignorance of this fact, which is known to all educated ministers, throughout the world.

The Lord through one prophet distinctly tells us then that sheol is to be destroyed, proving that it cannot be a place of eternal torment and assuring us also, according to its true signification, that the tomb, the state of death, is not to be perpetual, that ultimately it shall be destroyed, the taking out of it every member of our race, by the awakening of all from the sleep of death. This is the same thought that the apostle sets before us in our text when he assures us that Christ's victory, by the close of the millennium, will be so complete that the sting of death will be no more felt, even sickness, pain and sorrow shall have fled away and hades (the same word frequently rendered hell in the New Testament), the grave, the tomb, will no longer have the victory, but will be destroyed!

By the time that all mankind shall have been raised from the power of death and the tomb this victory will be complete, and the testimony of the apostle again is, "Messiah must reign until he shall have put all enemies under his feet, the last enemy that shall be destroyed is death." Vs. 25,26

The destruction of death and hades, however, does not signify that all mankind will have eternal life, for that is provided for only the willing and obedient when they shall come to a knowledge of the truth and shall accept it heartily. For all willing and intelligent rejecters of divine favor, the Lord has provided the second death, an utter destruction, from which there will be no hope of recovery, no redemption, no resurrection, because all who go into it will first have every opportunity which God's grace could justly provide.


The Apostle incidentally calls attention to the fact that "the sting of death is sin." (Vs. 56)

It was the poison of disobedience that entered our race through our first parents and has developed in us – as poison passes through the system from a serpent's bite.

This is, indeed, the picture God gave us through Israel's experience in the wilderness when he permitted the fiery serpents to bite them, to poison them and then provided for them a way to escape through the exercise of faith in looking upon the brazen serpent which Moses was permitted to erect.

Here we have the picture of the human family all bitten by sin, all poisoned, all dying under sentence of death. God has provided in Christ a great Sin-Bearer, who took our place as the sinner, who died the Just for the unjust, so that all looking to Him as their Redeemer and following His directions may ultimately be delivered, if they will, from the power of the sting of sin. Our Redeemer declared: "I, if I be lifted up, will draw all men unto Me." [John 12:32]

He has indeed been lifted up on the cross, but only a few as yet have had the eyes to see and to appreciate the fact; but He is to be lifted up in glory as the King of kings and Lord of Lords during the millennium, and then the message will go forth, "Look unto Me, and be ye saved, all ye ends of the earth. (Isa. 45:22)

The Glorified One will draw all men by influence of truth and righteousness and enlightenment, and only those who resist and refuse the drawing of righteousness shall ultimately die the second death. The drawing of the church, the elect, in the present time, be it noticed, instead of being the drawing of the glorified Lord Jesus, the Redeemer, is the drawing of the Father, as we read: "No man cometh unto me, except the Father who sent me drawn him." (John 6:44)

This is the rule in respect to the elect now being gathered, a little flock from every people, kindred, nation and tongue, that those found worthy may be joint-heirs with our Redeemer in his kingdom [NS569] and work of blessing the world.


The Apostle further explains that the strength of sin is the law; that is to say, sin brings forth death in us because this was the divine law. God indeed could have given a different penalty in Adam's case, one which Adam could have fulfilled in himself, and after which he might have been received back to Eden and divine favor.

But divine wisdom preferred a different program, and hence gave to Adam and his race the full limit of sin's penalty in order that in due time God might show forth his love in providing a Redeemer and a redemption and the restitution times, and incidentally develop to the divine nature and glory the little flock of which Jesus is the Head and the church the members. As the apostle points out, God's law condemned us all; and we would have been helpless had He left us under that sentence. But He did not so leave us, as the Apostle proceeds to show, saying: "Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory, through our Lord Jesus Christ." [1 Cor. 15:57]

The victory that He is speaking of not only includes the church's victory in the first resurrection, but the victory of all that shall ultimately be saved through the millennial age, but all the victory comes through our Lord Jesus Christ and His meritorious sacrifice. Neither is there salvation in any other name nor in any other manner than by faith in His blood. Hence the darkness of ignorance and superstition of the present time is a barrier to the world in general, and only the specially favored ones can grasp the blessing now in advance of the millennium. Of these few our Lord said: "Blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear." [Matt. 13:16]

And we have found it so. Blessed, indeed, are all those who are accepted in the Beloved in advance of the world; but blessed also will the world be when God's due time shall come; when Messiah shall take His great power and reign and Satan shall be bound for a thousand years and the light of the knowledge of the glory of God shall fill the whole earth as the waters cover the great deep. Thank God for the Savior He has provided – a Savior and a Great One, able to save unto the uttermost all who come unto the Father through Him!

Thanks be unto God, who giveth us the victory now through faith. And thanks be to God, who ultimately will give the victory to Christ and the church, and through them to all the families of the earth who will avail themselves of the privileges extended! We conclude with the Apostle's words: "Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, for as much as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord." (Vs. 58)

Our labor at the present time must seem small and insignificant, because few have ears to hear and hearts to receive, the great majority of mankind being under the adversary's blinding influence. But we know that our labor is not in vain, because it is acceptable to God through Christ, and it is working out in our own hearts and characters experiences which, by the grace of God will fit and prepare us for joint-heirship with our Lord in His great work of the millennial kingdom, which will complete fully and finally His great victory over sin and death.

The Greensburg Morning Press, July 20, 1908


St. Louis, Mo., July 19. Pastor C. T. Russell of Pittsburg, Pa., preached twice here today. The discourse on, "Where are the Dead," drew an immense concourse of people. Notwithstanding the oppressive weather they listened with baited breath for nearly two hours. We report his second discourse on Reconciliation, from the text, "Now, then, are we ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech by us: we pray in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God." (2 Cor. 5:20)

The speaker said: The translators of the common version failed to grasp the Apostle's thought that himself and all consecrated believers as members of the Church the Body of Christ, are God's ambassadors in speaking to the world, hence they add the word "you" in two in-stances, although it is not found in the Greek, its absence from the original being indicated by the placing of the word in italics. The Apostle addressed his entire epistle "Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, with all the saints which are in all Achaia." [2 Cor. 1:1]

Manifestly it was not necessary to beseech the Church to pray, the saints and the Church to be reconciled to God because unless they had already become reconciled they could not have been saints and acceptable at all as members of the one true Church. And only such could be ambassadors for God, his representatives in making known to mankind in general his gracious provisions for the receiving of sinners who desire to return to his favor and love and blessing. The word reconciliation of itself is a contradiction to [NS570] the Evolution theory. It implies that at one time mankind was in harmony with the Creator that by some means that harmony was disturbed, broken, and that by some means God is now willing to have that harmony restored. This is in line with the entire teaching of the Scriptures, both of the Old and the New Testaments.

From Genesis to Revelation there is the one story of Paradise lost through disobedience, of the race of Adam plunged into sin and death under divine disfavor, of the redemption accomplished by God himself through our Lord Jesus Christ; and of a reconciliation and return to divine favor to all that was lost – available to every member of the race because "Jesus Christ, by the grace of God, tasted death for every man," gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time. Heb. 2:9; 1 Tim. 2:6

Let us not forget that the breaking of that fellowship between God and men was not man's act, but God's. After his transgression of disobedience in the eating of the forbidden fruit, father Adam evidently would still have his relationship to God and his enjoyment of the divine provisions in Eden. It was God who pronounced his sentence or curse against the sinner – "dying thou shalt die" (not roasting thou shalt roast, as the teaching came down from the "dark ages").

It was in order to the execution of the death sentence that man was cast out of Eden into the unprepared earth, there to struggle against adverse conditions, thorns, thistles, etc.; that as a culprit and convict he might pay the penalty of sin. Of course, all of his children were born under sinful, imperfect, dying conditions, as it is written we were born in sin, shapen in iniquity. These adverse conditions, accomplishing man's death, are Scripturally spoken of as God's wrath, signifying God opposition, his unwillingness to permit sin and sinners to exist indefinitely. Thus, for instance, the Apostle says respecting the Church, "We were children of wrath even as others (still are)" (Eph. 2:3)

We have escaped the condemnation that is on the world. 1 Cor. 11:32 How long will divine wrath continue against mankind? We reply that the Almighty never had such a wrath as some of his creatures misunderstand this expression to signify. From the very first he had sympathy with our race; and even before the sin had come, foreknowing it, he had so loved his creatures as to make a provision for their ultimate redemption and so far as possible their reconciliation. That which the Scriptures term the "wrath of God," the "curse of God," the "condemnation, passed upon all," merely therefore signifies the decree of justice which God allowed to fall upon the sinner race. [Rom. 1:18; 5:18]

He designed it to be a temporary destruction, from which he would ultimately recover Adam and his children in a way which would show forth to angels and to men the lengths and breadths and heights and depths of divine wisdom, divine justice, love and power. Note the statement of this in the expression, "Thou turnest man to destruction (death – and then), and sayest, Return ye children of men (by the resurrection power through the Redeemer)," – Psa. 90:3

For over four thousand years there was an uninterrupted reign of sin and death – all mankind going down the broad road to destruction – not to eternal torment. During all that time the world was allowed practically to take its own course, and the only revelation of divine favor was to Abraham and his seed, Israel. Even then the blessings granted them were only partial and typical, for "The Law made nothing perfect." [Heb. 7:19]

Year by year continually the nation of Israel was reconciled to God by typical sacrifices – the blood of bulls and goats which could never take away sin. There was no real reconciliation, but merely types of it pointing forward to Spiritual Israel and to better sacrifices, which would put away sin thoroughly and forever and bring about the desired reconciliation between God and men.


As it was God that condemned man to death because of violation of the divine law, therefore there could be no hope of recovery of man to harmony with God under the divine arrangement until first atonement for that original sin had been made.

The sinners could not atone for their own sins neither for each other's sins, because all were imperfect, all were condemned. From this standpoint the recovery of man from under the death sentence looked like an impossibility; and God's promise made to Abraham, that eventually a blessing should come to all the families of the earth through his Seed, might naturally be viewed by angels and by men as an intimation that ultimately the great Supreme Judge intended to reverse his own decree, intended to relent and cancel the sentence. Not until the advent of the Redeemer nearly nineteen centuries ago did the divine purpose manifest itself.

The angels beheld Michael, the Logos, humbled by his own consent from the heights of the spirit plane to the human plane – becoming the man Christ Jesus. In him they beheld the ransomer of Adam and consequently of the whole race which perished through his disobedience. In his death, the Just for the unjust, all whose eyes of understanding are open may see that divine justice has preserved its integrity and yet permitted the exercise of divine love. But the death of Jesus, the Just for the unjust, was only one step in the route to man's reconciliation. Had the Redeemer remained dead the result would have been nothing. But in due course the Father on the third day raised him from the dead, not again to human nature [NS571] and its limitations – but put to death in the flesh, he was quickened in spirit, highly exalted above angels, principalities and powers and every name that is named to the right hand of God; to a position next to the heavenly Father, being also made partaker of the divine nature. 1 Pet. 3:18; Philip. 2:9,2

We read that our Redeemer ascended up on high there to appear in the presence of God for us. He appeared before the Father with the full merit of his sacrifice; no less would have done for the redemption price of a single one of the race, no more was needed for the sins of the whole world, for all had shared in the one man s condemnation and therefore all could be properly included in the justification that came through the sacrifice of the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.

Be it noted, however, that although the promises foretold that through this Redeemer and his work the blessing of the Lord should come to all people, kindreds, nations and tongues, nevertheless, when our Lord appeared before the Father, he did not apply his sacrifice for all mankind, but merely for the household of faith, or, as the Apostle says, he appeared in the presence of God for us – believers. Let us not suppose for a moment that there is any mistake in the record, not that the Lord failed to guide the apostles in the use of the proper language in respect to this great matter.

Let us note rather the outworking of the divine arrangement as specified and see therein a "wideness in God's mercy, like the wideness of the sea."

The limitation of the forgiveness to the believers is another feature of the divine program designed to illustrate still further the mercy of God and His loving kindness; for the Scriptures clearly show that a blessing of reconciliation for the world is still the outcome of the divine program while the present blessing of believers is for the purpose of selecting from the world a peculiar people, a little flock of such as are most zealous, most loyal to the Lord, to his truth and to righteousness. The selection of these during the present time is declared in the Scriptures to be a "mystery."

The matter of this selection of the Church is left a mystery to the world for two reasons:

(1) That the world, knowing us not, even as it knew not the Redeemer in the days of his flesh, might oppose these consecrated ones, might make their pathway a narrow and a difficult one with obstacles, oppositions, persecutions, etc., in all of which they would be aided by the great Adversary, who has usurped the power and is the god or ruler of this world.

(2) The Church is left subject to these miseries and persecutions and oppositions of the world and without a special outward manifestation of divine favor in order to the testing and proving of their faith, their obedience, their loyalty to the Lord, to each other and to righteousness. As the Scriptures clearly show us, the result will be that only a little flock will be found in these respects. copies of God's dear Son.

This little flock, lifted from degradation and sin, justified through faith, permitted to consecrate life and all to the Lord and to his service, after having suffered awhile, after being perfected by suffering and specially strengthened, settled and fixed in character and tested, will at the close of this age be glorified as the Bride, the Lamb's wife, as joint-heir with their Redeemer in his glory and honor and divine nature and also in respect to participating with him in his great work of blessing all the families of the earth – Gal. 3:29


Bear in mind that the ransom price which Jesus paid was a sufficiency for the sins of the world, and when he ascended on high he merely 'applied it for believers. Meantime he has accepted these believers as though they were members of his Body. He has permitted them to sacrifice their earthly interests, following his example.

Their sacrifices are not counted as their own, but as his because they are his, and when the last member shall have finished sacrificing and has passed beyond. the vail, then the great Redeemer will present the merit of all this sacrifice which is his own on behalf of the sins of the whole world and as sealing the New Covenant between God and mankind in general. Thus the Christ, Jesus the Head, the church "members in particular of his Body," will constitute the great Prophet, Priest and King, Mediator, Judge between God and the World; and in "his day," the Millennial day, a thousand years long, the work of this great Priest will be the reconciling of the world to God. Do not mistake the order: Justice is reconciled or satisfied first by the great Atonement sacrifice.

No reconciling of the world is possible until this has been accomplished. But subsequently, as a result of the satisfaction of divine justice and the release of mankind from the penalty of sin and death, the great Mediator of the New Covenant (Christ and the whole Church) will be privileged to enlighten, instruct, uplift and in every way bless the fallen and to bring back all the willing and obedient, step by step during the Millennium, to the grand original standards approved by God. All mankind who will develop the proper spirit of obedience to God will thus be privileged to come back by restitution to that condition in the which they will be in the likeness of God, as Adam was when created and before he sinned. Here, then, are the two sides of the atonement, the two sides of reconciliation:

(1) Justice satisfied as respects original sin,

(2) man restored, brought back to perfection and the image of [NS572] God, where it will be possible for him to be acceptable to God and to have eternal life according to divine purpose. In the meantime those who will refuse to avail themselves of the divine favor will be cut off in the Second Death. We perceive, then, that the divine program is not the coercion of the human will, which would make man merely a machine and inferior to the brute, but a cooperation with the human will and its assistance of it through lessons, instructions and experiences. All mankind have learned to some extent the bitterness of sin and its death-dealing influence.

All will need to learn of righteousness and of the blessings, mental and physical, which flow from the hearty obedience of the divine laws. The teaching of this lesson to the world during the thousand years of the Millennial Kingdom will be directly under the supervision of the glorified Christ, Head and body, and their active representatives amongst men will be first of all those ancient worthies, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets and subsequently such of humanity as fall in line with the divine arrangements.

All such will be ambassadors of God and of righteousness, speaking to one another and assisting one another, building one another up, preparing one another for that ultimate perfection which alone shall make them ready for presentation to God at the close of the Millennial age.


The Apostle speaking of himself and others of the consecrated Church as able ministers, qualified ministers or servants of God's grace; and again he refers to those in our text, saying, "Now, then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech by us: we pray in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God." [2 Cor. 5:20]

Each one who is now drawn of the Father and comes to the Son in faith and full consecration, when accepted of the latter as a member of his Body, a member of the under-priesthood, is properly qualified to make known, to tell, to express to the best of his ability about the grace of God in which he has already participated.

He may tell of the love of God in the provision of a redeemer, of the great sacrifice for sins – of Christ's resurrection and exaltation to the divine nature, of his ultimate second coming to receive his faithful Bride class and to establish his Kingdom for the blessing of the world.

They are qualified and authorized further to tell of the high calling of God now extended to such of mankind as have the ear to hear, the 'hearing of faith;' that such might become joint-heirs with Messiah in all the glorious features of the Kingdom work. God could indeed have used the angels to call out of the world a little flock of joint-heirs with Christ, but instead he gave this opportunity to the Church to call one another, to be God's representatives and ambassadors in the work of selecting the Bride, and thus to gain experience which will be valuable to them now in character development and by and by valuable to them in connection with their work of drawing and blessing all the families of the earth.

Moreover, the Lord would prove those whom he accepts as members of the Body of Christ, and this experience constitutes a closer test of their love for God and for their fellowmen. As it was the love of the Father and the desire to do his will that prompted and energized our Savior and led him step by step in all the way of his sacrificed life even unto death, even the death of the cross, so it must be with all of his followers; they must so delight, to do the Father's will, must have so great pleasure in being God's ambassadors, that they will be willing to serve in this capacity at any cost, at any sacrifice, any self-denial.

Moreover, as love for the people was necessary in our Lord's case, leading him to sympathize with them in their sorrows and difficulties and to rejoice in the pleasure of their redemption and final uplift, so this same spirit must be in all who would be acceptable as members of the Bride class; they must not love the world in the sense of loving the sin and unrighteousness, injustice and iniquity of present conditions of the world, but they must be lovers of mankind as God is, for God so loved the world as to give his Son Jesus, who so loved the world as to be its Redeemer, and all these who would be joint-heirs in the ultimate work of blessing all the families of the earth are required now to manifest their sympathetic love in doing good unto all men as they have opportunity, especially to the household of faith.


Even after we realize the situation as it is now outlined before our minds, that the reconciling of divine justice has been provided for in the death of Jesus, we are still surprised that God should urge sinners to come back to him, to be reconciled to him and that God should send us forth as his ambassadors to call to the sinners. What is the explanation of this? Why is it that sinners are not hastening to avail themselves of the opportunity for a return to God, as Adam doubtless would have availed himself quickly had such an opportunity been granted to him after his sin and sentence?

Ah, we answer, God's calling after mankind and sending ambassadors to them to tell them of his love and gracious provision in Christ, is the result of 'Love divine – all love excelling,' and man's alienation from God, so that he does not desire a return and is slow – to believe, slow to accept the message of the ambassadors is because sin has hardened the human heart. Sixty centuries of sin and death, mental, moral and physical [NS573] deflection, has alienated mankind in general and to a very large degree has obliterated the character-likeness of God as it was originally implanted in father Adam when he was created in God's image and likeness. Only faint outlines of divine character are now perceivable in the fallen ones. Instead of looking longingly to the Lord and desiring reconciliation, instead of listening for any message of divine favor, the world's attention has turned in an opposite direction for two reasons:

(1) Because the great Adversary, using every means, has misrepresented the divine character and misinterpreted the divine revelation, often using the children of God as mouthpieces of error to picture the Almighty God of all grace with the lineaments of a demon so that mankind has a dread or fear respecting God and not a confidence in him as both just and loving. Hence their alienation, their disinclination to think of him or listen to his word which they incorrectly imagine speaks only wrath and eternal torment.

(2) Additionally the depravity of the human mind has led into ruts of sin which are pleasurable and difficult to overcome, and which the world indistinctly recognizes as in opposition to the divine will.

Hence, any suggestion of reconciliation to God is seen at once to signify the breaking off of these practices, and hence appears undesirable, as none even imagine in advance the rich blessing of peace and love and joy which come through full reconciliation to God. This means a turning away from injustice and unrighteousness in every sense and degree, and it is the fallen flesh, therefore, that rebels and declines reconciliation at the present time.

Those who now accept reconciliation are such as are willing to come unto God and to submit themselves, such as never were pleased with injustice or unrighteousness; or such as have found by experience, by broken hearts, sorrow and trouble, that there is no real pleasure in sin and unrighteousness and who are feeling after God that they may have the rest that he alone can give. Is it enquired, How then would such, as now reject the Lord's grace be profited during the Millennium? We answer, it will be because the conditions then will be so different from those which now prevail.

Satan will be bound, wrong will become bitter and right will become sweet, the very reverse of the present order of things. The sinner will suffer and the righteous will be blessed; whereas now, under present conditions, whosoever will live Godly will suffer persecution. And of the wicked it is written, "Their eyes stand out with fatness, and they have more than heart could wish. Psa. 73:7

The lesson to God's people of the present time is their own full submission to the divine will in every particular; that they be reconciled in full harmony with God, desiring that his will be done in his own time and way and in all things. This work in their hearts, according to the Scriptures, will be a gradual one – At first they submitted because they realized that in no other direction was peace obtainable. Then they learned that the more submissive they were the more fully they were reconciled, the greater would be their blessing and their growth in the Lord's favor.

The consummation of such reconciliation to God and to his will in the present time is found in those who rejoice to do the will of the Lord in all things and who gladly and willingly by faith accept all that may come to them as under divine supervision and providence, and guaranteed by the Lord to work out for them some good, some blessing. These, fully reconciled, have no will but that of their Lord and heavenly Father. Let this be more and more your experience and mine, dear brethren and sisters. And if any have not yet attained to this degree of reconciliation, let him not despair, but let him take the step in the pathway which leads to this station and thus, through full submission to God, leads to a share with Christ in his heavenly Kingdom beyond the veil.

The Cincinnati Weekly Enquirer, July 26, 1908


Glean, N.Y., July 26. Pastor C. T. Russell, of Pittsburg, Penn., preached twice here today. Notwithstanding the heat, he had a large and attentive audience. Of the two discourses we report one from the text: "Ye have said, We have made a covenant with death, and with hell (sheol, the grave); we are at agreement. ... Your covenant with death shall be disannulled and your agreement with sheol will not stand; when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, then shall ye be trodden down by it." (Isa. 28:15-18) [NS574] "With the exception of the paragraph below under the Sub – Title, A CAUSE FOR SUICIDES, this discourse was republished in Pastor Russell's Sermons, pages 107-109, entitled, "A Covenant with Death."


This false doctrine, this agreement with death, this teaching that the dead are so much happier and better off and more alive than before they die, this bestrewing the casket with flowers, this weeping tears of sympathy and joy on their behalf, is inducing the great tide of suicide which is spreading over the whole world and which, as statistics show us, is rapidly increasing year by year.

The newspapers report that in Allegheny County during the first 19 days of this month there were 22 suicides. We have every confidence that the statistics would show that very few if any of these were Roman Catholics, who are taught to expect horrible experiences in purgatory. We have every reason to suppose that the poor deluded creatures came under this worst form of Satan's delusion, which has held Protestants; and that they all expected to better their condition by death, to pass to some happier place.

The National Labor Tribune, August 16, 1908


Pittsburg, Pa., preached twice in the Opera House here today. He had an excellent hearing, some of our foremost religious people being present. We report one of the discourses on the text, "Verily I say unto thee today, thou shalt be with me in Paradise." (Luke 23:43)

He said: Our beliefs strongly influence our conduct, both temporal and spiritual, hence the Scriptures present to us the doctrines of Christ – the proper beliefs of those who will be his disciples and seek to walk in his footsteps. The Lord's people are expected to join in the race in love and the various fruits and graces of the spirit.

Corresponding false doctrines are condemned by the Scriptures as misleading, injurious, blighting, in their influence upon the Lord's members, the branches of the true vine and upon their fruitbearing. The more we consider this subject, the more we will be convinced that our Adversary, Satan, has made his attacks upon the Lord's true followers chiefly along these lines, putting darkness for light and representing the light for darkness.

It behooves us, therefore, to inquire for the "old paths" for the teachings of Jesus and the Apostles rather than for the intermediate traditions of men who, however honest their intentions, have certainly been grossly misled by the great deceiver, who in practically every creed in Christendom has pictured the Almighty Creator as an abominable character, plotting the eternal torture of his human creatures by the wholesale; and preparing therefore, before their creation.

How can we wonder that some of the noblest minds the world has known, under such misrepresentations, conclude that they could not worship the God of the Bible at all, that they were far superior to such a God themselves and possessed far nobler sentiments than those and would deal far more justly with the brute creation under their care than the Almighty is represented as doing, toward those whom he created in his own likeness. We may well be thankful for this liberalizing sentiment, even though it has turned many against the Bible. Otherwise we might still be under the domination of the same misbeliefs which led our forefathers to burn one another at the stake under the misapprehension that they were thus manifesting the holy Spirit and copying the Almighty's disposition and message. What we all need is correct views of the Holy Scriptures – their consistency, reasonableness and harmony in their presentations of the character of our Creator – that he is wise, just, loving and righteous altogether, in his dealing with us.


The teaching of Catholicism is that nearly all mankind are going to Purgatory, there to stew and fry for centuries as a penalty for sins and indiscretions of the present life and that only the saintly will escape this awful fate. One might expect that with such thoughts brought prominently to their minds day after day and week after week Catholics would be terrorized into outward morality at least. They are not, because they have a secret hope that perhaps it is not true and another hope that if it be true some way of escape will be found from some of its most awful features – aided by masses, indulgencies, papal jubilees, etc. Thus does one misrepresentation [NS575] offset another in the minds of men, leaving them nevertheless greatly injured in mind and heart by so unjust a presentation of the divine program. The Protestants have a still worse and still more irrational theory, namely, that all except the saintly go to an eternity of torture, from which there will never be an escape.

We would naturally think that this doctrine drilled into the minds of children from infancy through the catechism and the creeds and the influence of the pulpit would strike such terror into the hearts of Protestants as to make them very careful in their living that they might avoid so indescribable an eternity of sorrow. But it does not. On the contrary it seems scarcely to enter into their consideration, and very fortunately too, otherwise the insane asylums would fill up still more rapidly than they do. What is the secret of this indifference?

It is in the first place born of doubt that there is any such place or that the Almighty would be such a monster as to treat his intelligent creatures as the most devilish man we have ever known would not treat a brute beast. Secondly, where there is a measure of faith in eternal torment there is also a measure of hope and expectation that after having "sown their wild oats" they may settle down to average respectability and that in any event the probabilities are small that they would die so suddenly as not to have the time for the brief prayer, "God be merciful to me a sinner." [Luke 18:13]

And somehow the idea prevails that this prayer for a moment preceding the last gasp of life would change the eternal destiny of that person from the road of ruin to the Elysian fields of Paradise and glory, honor and immortality with God and the angels and the saintly.

A reasonable mind, of course, cannot accept this proposition but alas the majority of minds lack the balance wheel of reason or deliberately stifle its voice. Surely the "common people" are measurably excusable for such irrational conclusions when we consider that they have put themselves under the instruction of talented and well educated doctors of divinity, whom they suppose to be possessed of rationality and a knowledge of the Scriptures. Surely much of the responsibility rests therefore with the clergy. If the leaders of the people be blind what can we expect but that they will lead their followers into the ditch of inconsistency and unbelief.

If it is disputed that the clergy are teaching this irrational proposition – that the murderer who has lived a vile life at war with the laws of God and men can, by a mere confession on the scaffold and a prayer to God, be instantly fitted for the fellowship of God and the saintly, then where is the incentive before him to an earlier conversion or announcement of sin?

And if the saintly and self-sacrificing ones seek to walk in the foot-steps of Jesus and for years have sought to mortify or deaden the desires of the flesh and to cultivate the fruits and graces of the holy Spirit – if these are to understand that these efforts to overcome the world, the flesh and the devil profit them nothing, where is the incentive to them to become saintly and, as the Apostle says, "To present their bodies living sacrifices, holy, acceptable to God, which is their reasonable service?" Is not this false doctrine operating everywhere disadvantageously? Let us remember what our Lord prayed to the Father, "Sanctify them through thy truth; thy Word is truth." [Rom. 12:1; John 17:17]


Since our Lord's words to the thief on the cross are made the basis for a part of this erroneous theology, let us examine his words and see what they really do mean. That our position may be clearly understood we use great directness and plainness of speech and set forth that we will prove:

(1) That the thief did not go to Paradise on the day of crucifixion, but to sheol, hades, the tomb, the state of death.

(2) That our Lord did not go to Paradise on that day, but to sheol, hades, the state of death, from which the Apostle declares he was raised on the third day.

(3) Paradise referred to was not then in existence.

(4) The whole earth will become Paradise; thus Paradise lost through Adam will be restored through the"times of restitution" during our Lord's Millennial Reign – during the one thousand years of the reign of Christ following his second advent.

(5) Our Lord meant and the thief understood that then, during the Millennial in the restored earth, the thief would have a blessing as a reward for his kindness by the words he expressed – as a reward for the sympathy of heart manifested.

(6) The thief died: has suffered nothing, known nothing ever since, and will not be conscious until in the Millennial Day, the Redeemer shall call him with others from the tomb – "Every man in his own order." [1 Cor. 15:23]

(7) Our Lord did not go to heaven when he died, but into the tomb, sheol, hades, from which he was resurrected on the third day – "raised from death."

It was after his resurrection that he said to Mary, "Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father; but go to my brethren, and say to them, I ascend unto my Father and your Father and to my God and your God." (John 20:17)

(8) Christ has not yet come into his kingdom for which as he taught us to pray, "Thy Kingdom come; thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven." [Matt. 6:10] [NS576] The key to the proper understanding of our text lies in its punctuation. The comma, which in the common version is before today, should be after it – in order to make this statement harmonize with the remainder of the Bible. Punctuation is no part of the inspired word. It was not invented until modern time. There is no punctuation in the original manuscripts. Notice the punctuation of this passage as we have quoted it – "Verily I say unto you today, thou shalt be with me in Paradise." [Luke 23:43]

Notwithstanding the fact that today you see me under such adverse conditions, crucified as a malefactor, nevertheless I am not a deceiver. I am the son of God, whose Kingdom has long been promised for the blessing of the world and the binding of Satan. I have not yet come into my Messianic Kingdom, which is not of this age, but of the next, and I assure you today and give you the consolation that when I do come into the Kingdom in the Father's appointed time, you shall be with me in that Paradise which knows only blessings and no fears for all those who will obey me. Let us analyze the thief's request and our Lord's response. The thief was familiar with the Jewish expectations that the Messianic Kingdom was to be established. He knew that many believed in Jesus as the Messiah. He realized the wide difference between his own condition and that of Jesus, who was "holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners." [Heb. 7:26]

He felt that it might be possible, as some said, that Jesus was to have a spiritual kingdom different from what the Jews had believed. He had nothing to lose and all to gain by speaking a word in defense of the holy dying one. Per-adventure this might be the Messiah. He would at least ask his blessing. "Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy Kingdom" – possibly you have a kingdom and that in power and great glory shall be later manifested beyond the tomb. If so, remember my kind words on your behalf and deal kindly with the thief. Our Lord's answer was in strict line with the request. The word "verily" is the same word which is ordinarily translated "Amen" and signifies "so be it."

"Your request is granted. Verily I say to you this day, notwithstanding its adversities, 'Thou shalt be with me in Paradise.' Have this as a consolation in your dying moments."


God has made a provision through the redemptive work of Christ for the forgiveness of sins – for the covering or ignoring of our sins from the eyes of justice, so the believers in Jesus need not longer consider themselves children of wrath even as others, but as reconciled to God through the death of His Son through the merits of his atonement sacrifice.

But this covering of our blemishes from the eye of divine justice is merely a means toward an end. It does not constitute a passport whereby we may be instantly counted as saints and heirs of glory. On the contrary it is merely a passport granting us ability to make full consecration of ourselves and to be begotten of the holy Spirit and as new creatures to enter the school of Christ. This schooling may be longer or shorter according to our zeal or faithfulness, but in any event the lessons to be learned are meekness, gentleness, kindness, patience, long-suffering, brotherly kindness, love. Only those who learn these lessons will ever be what the Lord calls, "Fit for the Kingdom." [Luke 9:62]

Only those in whom the spirit of love and devotion to God develops to the degree of sacrifice and laying down the life for the brethren, spending and being spent in their service – nothing less than this will gain for us the reward of the overcomers, "Glory and honor and immortality" – joint-heirship with our Lord. Moreover those who learn their lessons in the school of Christ must subsequently pass examination – be tested, be proven, because the joint-heirs of Christ are all to be copies of God's dear Son, while others, even if they develop these fruits of the spirit, will be of another class before the Throne, instead of in the Throne, palm-bearers, instead of crown-wearers, unless they sacrifice themselves in the Lord's service willingly.

From this Scriptural standpoint it will be seen that while no repentances are to be scoffed at, nevertheless death-bed repentences are not to be esteemed passports to glory in the Kingdom. As the thief was made glad by the assurance that he would then be under the Kingdom rule in Paradise, so all who come to any understanding of the divine program can rejoice, even though their lives hitherto have been mis-spent, even though they be not of the Kingdom class and not fir to be of the royal priesthood and hence have not developed the fruits of the spirit sufficiently to merit a share in the Kingdom. Let us remember the Apostle's words, "If ye do these things, ye shall never fail; for so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting Kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ." (2 Pet. 1:10-11)


Our Lord discoursing on future punishment declared that some would be punished with few stripes and others with many – but that there would be a limit even with the many. These stripes are not to be given by demons in a theological hell of torture, nor in a place of Purgatory, nor yet in the Bible hell, the grave, the state of death. The stripes will be given in Paradise – after the Lord's Kingdom shall have been established, after Satan, the prince of darkness, shall have [NS577] been bound for one thousand years, after the Sun of righteousness shall have beamed to enlighten all the families of the earth into true knowledge of God. After the living nations shall have been corrected with stripes and chastisements to assist them up out of their degradation, "Then all that are in their graves shall hear his voice and come forth." [John 5:28,29]

The few, the little flock, the faithful in Christ, will constitute the first resurrection, coming from the tomb perfect spirit beings to be associated with Christ in the government of the world in its uplifting during the Millennium. Later as our Lord declares, "All that are in their graves shall come forth" – not from heaven, not from Catholic Purgatory, not from the Protestant Hell, but from the Bible Hell – the grave.

They come forth that they may experience the judgments of the Lord – rewarding them for every good endeavor, giving them stripes for every misdeed, and assisting them up, up, up, towards the perfection from which the race fell in Adam and to which the merit of the redemption permits them to return – whosoever will. Those stripes and chastisements of the Millennial Age will not be direct punishments for present misdeeds, yet indirectly they will be such. In the direct sense Christ will forgive all the sins of mankind in precisely the same manner that the sins of the past upon the conscience and upon the character will be there and must be gotten rid of by efforts in the contrary direction – upward towards righteousness.

Thus in proportion as a man has wilfully degraded himself, in the same proportion will he be obliged to retrace himself if he would have eternal life. And the retracing of himself through imperfection implies that he will receive stripes – stripes directly the result of the misdeed. Thus the two thieves crucified with our Lord will be in Paradise with all the remainder of mankind, except the Church of this Gospel Age. Both thieves will be under the rules of the Millennial Kingdom the object of which will be restoration back to their former perfection lost in Adam.

The penitent thief, however, will have the advantage of the other, because, instead of hardening his heart and joining with the rabble in reviling our Lord during his dying moments, his heart was softened. This insures us that in Paradise under the Millennial Kingdom blessing he will find less to battle against and thus will require fewer stripes than the impenitent thief. As a reward of the Church will be everlasting life, hence to the wilful transgressors against light and knowledge the penalty will be second death. So also will be the judgment of the world in its trial.

At its conclusion – the end of the one thousand years, every member of the race will be subject to severe trials – to prove, to demonstrate his heart loyalty or disloyalty to the Lord and his government of righteousness. All who stand tests will be ushered into the everlasting state, while all who prove lacking of fullest loyalty to the Lord and to righteousness will be destroyed in the second death, as it is written, "It shall come to pass that every soul that will not obey that prophet shall be utterly destroyed from among the people." [Acts 3:23]

The National Labor Tribune, August 23, 1908


Lancaster, Pa., August 23. Pastor C. T. Russell of Pittsburg, preached twice in the Opera House today. He had an excellent hearing, his audience including some of our most prominent people of all denominations. His afternoon discourse was on the "Overthrow of Satan's Empire."

We report the evening topic from the text, "Let none of you suffer as a murderer or as a thief or as an evil-doer or as a busy-body in other men's matters, yet if any suffer as a Christian let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God on this behalf." 1 Pet. 4:15, 16

The speaker said: It is one of the peculiarities of the Bible that it teaches so many things which are the very opposites of what we would have expected and yet in full accord with the facts of life as we see them daily and come in contact with them. Our natural thought would be that suffering should only follow the course of sin and that when the sinful course is abandoned and the heart given to the Lord, all the suffering should cease.

Particularly does this thought have weight when we remember that the Lord calls such his sons after that they had turned from sin and accepted Christ and his redemption and become his followers or disciples. Naturally we reason that the children of God having his favor would be blessed exceedingly and favored above all the remainder of the race. It is one of the first lessons connected with the true discipleship for us to learn the truth of this subject, namely that the heavenly Father permits special trials and scourgings and disciplinary lessons to his children. Naturally we are disposed to cry out that our experiences are contrary to what we had anticipated, a sore disappointment, and almost incomprehensible. If our heavenly Father loves us more than he loves the unregenerate world why should he [NS578] permit us to have severe experiences, or even so bad experiences as our fellows?

The Scriptures explain the situation to us, telling us that we by nature were like the remainder of the human family sinful children of wrath even as others, but that the Lord has taken us under his special care and put us into the school of experience and is giving us the lessons of life that we may learn the exceeding sinfulness of sin and be developed in an opposite direction – that eventually under the molding and fashioning we might be transformed to the image of God's dear Son. A question arises, "Do not others, the world in general, need these chastenings and instructions in righteousness also?" We answer, "Yes."

Why then do these experiences come specially to the Church? Should not the Church have less and the world have more of such disciplines? What is the secret of this peculiar dealing on the Lord's part who subjects the sons of God to special tribulations in the present time and often tribulations for righteousness' sake, because of righteousness and truth?


We reply that these who have received the adoption of children of God and who come into the school of Christ and there undergo special disciplinary trials, sorrows, chastenings for their character development are God's favorites and the chastisements permitted to come to them are intended to work out for them "A far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory." (2 Cor. 4:17)

These the Scriptures frequently refer to as "the elect of God" – his specially chosen ones. And since the Scriptures particularly inform us that there is no injustice with God, we may know of a surety that he has a particular reason and purpose in connection with their selection or election and that it is a just and loving and wise selection and that the election is along lines of character and principle.

Those accepted as children of God are such as have previously exercised a manifestation of faith in the Lord and consecration to him; and this faith and consecration are qualities highly esteemed of the Lord and which will be specially rewarded by him. We are not to be understood as intimating that the elect ones experiencing faith and consecration are alone to be saved and that the remainder of Adam's race are all hopelessly lost, but rather the reverse of this is true.

God has purposed that all the families of the earth are to receive the blessing of the knowledge of his grace in Christ and to have a full opportunity of coming into harmony with the divine law and attaining eternal life – only the willfully and knowingly wicked being cut off in the Second Death. The Gospel invitation to turn from sin and to follow the Redeemer's counsel and example is permitted to do a testing work and to gather out the choicer characters amongst men for a special service designed of the Lord for the future. When we say choicer characters we speak from the Lord's standpoint, with whom many things that are highly esteemed amongst men are an abomination, while others disesteemed by men have the divine approval.

The qualities of humility and submission to the Lord in fullest obedience are rare amongst men and different from the general idea; hence many of the noble of this world are not acceptable amongst the Lord's elect, while many of the ignoble, yea, some of the mean things of this world, God does accept as his children and pupils in the school of Christ to be prepared for future glory, honor and immortality.


During the present time the Lord is calling merely the willing ones of mankind and assisting them to make their calling and election sure to a very high station in divine favor and co-operation with their Redeemer, in whose great work of blessing all the families of the earth they will have a part. No compulsion is used in connection with this.

Their own will governs the whole matter. First they came to the Lord and when he showed that the avenue of love and mercy lay through faith in Jesus' sacrifice they gladly availed themselves of it. When still, they willed to go on, and to know the will of God more perfectly he opened to them further knowledge of his will – their privilege of self-sacrifice in walking in the footsteps of their Redeemer and the glorious reward that would come to the followers being faithful unto death. When still we willed to go on and made a covenant of consecration we were still not bound except by our wills and might at any time turn back or "Draw back to death." [Heb. 10:39]

If our will still continued, and our desire to do the divine will day by day brought us fresh lessons, trials, experiences, all of which would be helpful to us in preparing us for the glorious things held in reservation for those who would be faithful unto death. All who are the Lord's people, all whose hearts are in the right attitude will ultimately be delivered from rebellion against the Lord, much of which is because of weakness and blindness to the truth. To accomplish this great work for mankind the Lord proposes the establishment of his Kingdom, the preparation day, "My people shall be willing in the day of my power." [Psa. 110:3]

All who are the Lord's people will during the Millennial Age be separated from those who are not his people. Those willing to be with him in his righteous laws will be fully accepted and all others will be [NS579] counted as children of the Evil One and as such at the close of the Millennial Age will be destroyed in the Second Death. (Acts 3:23)

Only the willing and obedient will ever have God's favor and its reward, eternal life. We are merely now calling attention to the distinction between those who will be willing in the next age and those who are willing in the present age in the time when his power is not manifested and when all the followers are required to "Walk by Faith and not by sight." [2 Cor. 5:7]

Still progressing willingly the Lord's faithful ones find his promises well kept – "That all things are working together for good to them that are called according to his purpose." [Rom. 8:28]

But now amongst the unwilling ones who constitute the great mass of the human family – what shall we say of these – what is God's purpose respecting them – will he let them alone in their unwillingness, ignorance, blindness, misapprehension of himself and his glorious plan or will he take some steps to make them willing? We answer, "Yes."

He tells us that the masses of mankind were blinded by error and sin so that to them good appears undesirable and sin appears desirable. The Lord proposes that all this shall be changed, that all these blinded eyes of mankind shall look and see clearly and distinctly why righteousness is the best policy and why sin is reprehensible. With this knowledge will come the opportunity to take their stand for righteousness and against sin. So that those ultimately coming to the Lord's side after being fitted and prepared for it may enter into the life eternal – during the Millennial Age.


Those who now have the hearing ear, who now accept the divine arrangement, who are now willing to follow the Lamb withersoever he goeth, through evil report and good report, on the mountain tops of joy or in the valley of trouble – these elect, according to the divine promise, will constitute the Bride of Christ and be made his joint-heirs in the Kingdom, as it is written, "Fear not, little flock, it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the Kingdom." [Luke 12:32]

As our Lord suffered and then entered into his glory so his elect Church, his "little flock" must suffer and then enter into the glory of her Lord – become sharers of his Kingdom. Then the glory of the Lord will be revealed, "That all flesh may see it together." (Isa. 40:5)

The Lord's mighty power will be gradually manifested in the suppression of sin and ignorance, the binding of Satan that he might deceive the nations no more and the letting loose of the flood-gates of Truth and blessing upon all mankind. Well does the Prophet declare, "The desire of all nations shall come." (Hag 2:7)

The Millennial conditions are ideal and such as mankind in general have longed for but been unable to attain to because of their own weaknesses, ignorance and imperfections and because selfishness inbred in the race has always succeeded in dominating. Then under these new conditions so changed from the present that the Scriptures describe them as a new heaven and new earth condition – then our expectation as respects who should suffer and who should be protected from suffering will be realized. Then the evil-doer will suffer stripes and punishment and, if his evil propensities continue, he will ultimately be destroyed as an evildoer, and a noxious weed from the garden of the Lord, or, to use the Apostle Peter's simile, "Be destroyed as brute beasts" (2 Pet. 2:12), or, to use the Apostle Paul's simile, "Be destroyed as God's adversaries." (Heb. 10:27)

This is just what we would have expected – that right doing would be rewarded with God's favor and life eternal and evil doing would be punished. In due time all will be able to see that God's dealings with humanity have been righteous dealings. As the Scriptures say, "Great and Marvelous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of nations. Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify thy name? For thou only art holy; for all nations shall come and worship before thee; when thy righteous acts are made manifest." (Rev. 15:3-4)

Some will say, Then the world during the Millennium will have a more favorable opportunity of coming into harmony with God than have those who now hear and now respond and become the elect. Yes, we answer, in some respects and we are glad of it. They are not in a condition to profit by the blessed opportunity of this age and we may well rejoice with them that God has a future feature of his plan which will be helpful for them, but let it not be forgotten that grand and glorious as their reward will be it will be different from the reward of the elect. Their reward will be as human beings, earthly – their apartment in the Father's house will be Paradise and world wide and their condition will be that of perfect men, free from sin and blemishes mentally, morally and physically and back into harmony with God, in the time of "Restitution of all things which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began." (Acts 3:2 1)


The reward of the Church on the contrary will be incomparably higher; not only will the first resurrection bring these to the spirit plane and grant them joint-heirship with Christ in his Millennial Kingdom, but we are assured that it will signify to them the attainment [NS580] of the divine nature, which is far above angels, principalities and powers. The high condition to which the Church is to be elevated is not described in the Scriptures because it is beyond the power of the human mind to appreciate. It is sufficient that the followers in the footsteps of Jesus shall not only suffer with him in the present time because of faithfulness to the Truth, but they shall be like him and with him in the life to come. What more could we ask – what more could God grant us?


To a certain extent the whole world of mankind suffers. In some respects the worldly suffer more than some of the Lord's people because the sufferings of the latter are counterbalanced by the inspired prophecies of the Scriptures. The world's condition is well expressed by the Apostle when he said "The whole creation groaneth and travaileth together, waiting for the manifestation of the sons of God," in their Millennial Kingdom glory and power. The Apostle also refers to the Church, saying, "We ourselves also which have the first fruits of the spirit do groan within ourselves, waiting for our change, to wit, the delivery of our bodies" – "the body of Christ, which is the Church." [Rom. 8:22,23; Col. 1:24]

But the special sufferings of the Church are referred to in our text, "If any man suffer as a Christian let him glorify God on this behalf." [1 Pet. 4:16]

Let him remember that God can accept to this high position of the elect only such as can and will under the guidance and assistance of the great teacher develop strong characters in a few short years. Because of the shortness of the time of our trials and experiences need to be the more severe. The world will have a longer time for character development and reaching perfection – nearly one thousand years. But the elect must get a heart development and reach a heart and head or will perfection and endure tests respecting the same all in a few years between the time of their full consecration and their death. Without these trials and disciplines the character development would be too slow or not at all; hence it is in love and mercy that the Lord arranges the sufferings of this present time as preparation for the glory to follow.


It may occur to some that the Apostle's is an extreme statement – "Let none of you suffer as a murderer or as a thief or as an evil-doer or as a busy-body." [1 Pet. 4:15]

Surely, says one, no Christian could be guilty of these things, but the Apostle's intimation is borne out by the facts. Christian people have done these things and still been Christians, that is to say, Christians have been overtaken in these faults, but being Christians at heart it necessarily meant that such wrong-doings were subsequently repented of in bitter sorrow. Perhaps more Christians have come under these terms than are aware of the facts. I remind you of our Lord's words. "He that hateth his brother is a murderer." [1 John 3:15]

And I remind you of Shakespeare's words, "He who steals my purse steals trash, but he who steals my good name makes me poor indeed – and does not make him richer."

Here is murder and theft from the divine standpoint. Alas, how many are guilty along these lines. How many murderers and thieves in the Church! What a need there is in many for a thorough renovation along these lines: "Let none of you suffer as a murderer nor as a thief."

It may indeed be said that such murder and such theft are worse than the more vulgar forms because those who commit these are usually better educated, better balanced in mind than are the majority of these who commit the grosser murders and thefts. Surely if this matter can be kept before our mental eye in this light it will tend to make the Lord's people more circumspect, more Godly, more loving and kind.

The term evil-doer is broadly comprehensive of everything that would in any sense of the word be injurious to others and therefore discreditable to the Lord and those who are identified with him in love and service of the Truth. Let none suffer as an evil-doer. We have little enough time and strength with which to be helpful to mankind and to use to the glory of our Redeemer. We have not time or strength to devote to evil deeds. As for busy-bodying, the implication is that of time and strength wasted with a strong probability of evil results. It is evidently not the Apostle's thought to reprove us for taking an interest in our fellows, to reach them, to sympathize with them, to encourage them. This is well-doing, as has been expressed.

By busy-bodying is evidently meant a prying into the business of others, as though we were so wise and so good that we could help any and everybody. It implies also that we have time to waste – that after attending to our personal matters, providing things decent and proper in the sight of all for ourselves and those dependent on us, after having given time to our friends and neighbors to do them all the good in our power, we still have time to waste and are ready to make trouble for other people. Such trouble-makers usually defile their own minds, however unconsciously. They usually breed trouble for others, which generally reacts in some manner upon themselves. As the text intimates they are very likely to suffer and in a very unworthy cause, against which they are warned by the Scriptures.


To suffer as a Christian is to suffer for our fidelity to [NS581] Christ – to his word, the Bible to his people and on behalf of a principle – being associated with Christ and his teachings of God's word. Thus persecution may come upon us because of our loyalty to the teaching of God's Word, or they may come to us because of our activity in the service of the Truth, or they may come because of our opposition to long-established and much venerated errors. All such suffering is suffering for righteousness sake, for Christ's sake; and the Apostle declares that if we so suffer the glory of God rests upon us. And if we so suffer it is worth while – such suffering may be endured with joy because of the reward that we anticipate. If we suffer with him we shall also reign with him, but if we deny him he will also deny us – not recognize us as members of his Bride Class.

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