What Pastor Russell Said

Question Book


SACRIFICE--Of Cain and Abel.

QUESTION (1909)--1--What led Cain and Abel to bring offerings to the Lord, and what was done with them?

ANSWER.--I do not know whether the Lord told them that they should bring such offerings to the Lord or not. If God had not told them in so many words, we may reason that he told them in some other way. God's law was originally written in their hearts. They had at the top of their heads the organ of veneration which may have said to them, You ought to worship the great God who made the universe, you ought to bring something which would represent your desire to be in harmony with Him. This may have been the only thing, or He may have told them directly and definitely. But when they came with their offerings, and when they found that one was accepted and the other was not, Cain, finding that his was not acceptable, should have promptly withdrawn and gone and gotten one that was acceptable. He should have said, "Abel, I see that God has accepted your sacrifice and not mine, I will trade with you. Give me the finest animal you have and I will exchange for it all the fruit of the ground that I have." Then the Lord would have had respect for his offering. God wanted to teach that the only way in which divine justice would be propitiated would be by the sacrifice of life. God thus early began to give experimentally an observation lesson that a Savior would be at the cost of the life forfeited--the "Lamb of God that would take away the sin of the world." Cain's manner shows that he did not have the proper respect for God.

SACRIFICE--Gifts and Sacrifices for Sin.

QUESTION (1911-Z)--2--What is signified by the words of the Apostle that our Lord was ordained to offer both gifts and sacrifices for sin?

ANSWER.--From the Scriptures it is evident that during the Millennial Age the world of mankind will be privileged to offer themselves to God as gifts, but not as sacrifices. Hence, during the Millennial Age part of the work of the great High Priest will be to accept these gifts and to make them acceptable to God through His own merit and rights as the Melchizedek Priest. We can, however, apply this text very properly to the present time. The Apostle puts the word gifts first. We may, therefore, look to see whether there is not some way in which the High Priest offers gifts now. Surely our Lord's consecration of His own life was a gift on His part. The Father accepted that gift and ultimately permitted our Lord's gift to constitute a Sin-Offering for others. Likewise, throughout this Gospel Age, the "brethren" are invited to present their bodies living sacrifices--to give themselves to God-- Rom. 12:1,2.

When we thus make a present of ourselves to God, we are not making a Sin-Offering to God; for this we could not do. But the Divine arrangement for accepting our gift is that each gift will be acceptable through the merit of Christ; and that then, later on, these gifts will, according to the same Divine arrangement, constitute the great Sin-Offering which the High Priest gives for the world. Thus the High Priest is ordained to make the ultimate offering of that gift as the Sin-Offering for the world.

Amongst those who served in the office of typical high [Q610] priest, says the Apostle, the uniform custom was that they should offer both gifts and sacrifices to God. Hence, he proceeds to point out that Jesus, as the Antitype of those priests, must have something to offer. He also must offer both gifts and sacrifices, in order to fulfil His priesthood. He presented Himself without spot unto God; and, by virtue of that presentation, He is a Sin-Offering unto God; and, through His merit, He makes the same true of His Church, who voluntarily give themselves to God.

SACRIFICE--Why Must the Church Sacrifice?

QUESTION (1911-Z)--l--What is the object of having any sacrifices on the altar? Why is the Church on the altar with her Lord, as expressed by the Apostle Paul (Rom. 12:1), "I beseech you, therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, your reasonable service." Why does God invite us to be living sacrifices with Christ, since Christ is sufficient as a ransom-price for the sins of the whole world"?

ANSWER.--It is that the Father invites us to come in and be partakers of the sufferings of Christ in order that we may also be sharers of His glory; for it is only "if we suffer with Him that we may reign with Him--if we be dead with Him, we shall live with Him."

As our Lord was called to sacrifice, so the Church is also called. If He would be found worthy, if He would have the Father's highest approval, He must leave the glory which He had with the Father and must do all the Father might require of Him. And only by so doing would He gain the reward offered. During the Gospel Age the Church is invited to enter into that covenant with Him. We who are by nature sinners, "children of wrath, even as others," are justified through His merit in order to permit us to have a share in His suffering, in His sacrifice.

What is the use of all this? Why should this be done? That is the only way that we could be with Him on the spirit plane. If we retain the human nature we can never get to heaven. None can ever go to heaven except those of the sacrificial class. Those not begotten from above will never get a share in the heavenly blessing, but will get an earthly blessing, if they get any. They will keep their earthly nature and will in due time be made perfect. But those who are now invited to become the Bride of Christ are invited to join with Him in sacrifice. Our Lord sacrificed the earthly nature and its rights. All those who wish to belong to this Bride class must sacrifice the flesh, the earthly nature and its rights, etc., that they may be sharers with Him in the Heavenly, the divine nature.

SACRIFICE--Did Sacrifice of Church Cost Jesus?

QUESTION (1912)--2--Does the sacrifice of the Church cost Jesus anything? Is it in the sense of GIVING UP something that He is said to sacrifice it, or is it the WORK of sacrifice merely, as the High Priest OFFERED the sacrifices brought to Him?

ANSWER.--It is not costing Jesus anything to receive us. His cost is all paid and the price fully laid down. There is no additional cost whatever. His one sacrifice is the basis for everything, and that is past long ago. As He receives us He takes us in the capacity of High Priest and we are the sacrifices. It costs Him something sympathetically, we might [Q611] say, but we are not able to appreciate the meaning of that. We cannot think of our Redeemer being grieved in any way. We have a merciful High Priest, able to be touched with a feeling of our infirmities. He is able to appreciate our infirmities and so to be long suffering towards us. We know that He knows what is the matter with us, because of His full sympathy. We have His full sympathy and thus we know that it is all right.

SACRIFICE--What We Sacrifice.

QUESTION (1912)--1--Do we sacrifice our restitution rights, or just forego them, or lay them aside?

ANSWER.--"Language is a medium for the communication of thought," and one person might use certain language to give expression to a thought, and another use different language to express the same thought. To say that we forego our restitution rights, is proper. To say that we sacrifice our restitution rights is equally proper. I would just as soon use one today and the other tomorrow.

SACRIFICE--Not Desired by Jehovah.

QUESTION (1914)--2--"Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire" (Psa. 40:6). Please explain.

ANSWER.--In any translation from one language to another there is always danger of failing to express the original thought in its simplicity, and so in this case. "Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire." What is the thought there? Why, it is this: that although God desired and intended the establishment of the law covenant, the law arrangement with the people of Israel, that was not the full completeness of God's intention or desire. What He meant was that that should be the typical sacrifice, foreshadowing the antitypical sacrifice. These that He ordained or authorized for the time being were not what He meant eventually, were not the end or completion of God's purpose or desire in respect to sacrifice for sin. They were merely typical of that great desire which would be fulfilled in Christ. Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire, that is to say, was not all that God meant. He did accept this sacrifice and He did grant the Jews year by year a national forgiveness, and an opportunity to try again if they could meet the law; but these things were not the end of God's desire or intention. He had in mind the better sacrifices, the sacrifice of Christ, the great Redeemer, and then the better sacrifices of the church, the body of Christ, joined to His sacrifice. This is what God had as His great purpose, and that other was merely the typical, the foreshadowing of it.

SACRIFICE--How Far Shall We Sacrifice Legitimate Pleasures?

QUESTION (1915-Z) 3--What are the rights and privileges of the flesh--not sinful--which are to be sacrificed by the New Creature in Christ Jesus?

ANSWER.--There are certain rights and privileges which belong to all human beings. There are tastes and desires that are not sinful. It is not sinful to eat and enjoy that which is wholesome and nutritious; not sinful to have preferences as to what one shall eat. It is not sinful for one to have strawberries in the winter when that fruit is expensive, if one has the money to buy them and if he obtained the money rightfully. It would not be sinful to pay fifty [Q612] cents or a dollar for a box of them. It is no crime to have a fine house, servants, a pleasure yacht, an automobile, etc. If there are entertainments, concerts, operas, and these are of good moral tone, one has a perfect right to engage a seat for the same at five dollars, and to employ a taxicab in going. One as a natural man has a perfect right, if he is able, to any of these things, which are not sinful in themselves. Things that are sinful should, of course, always be avoided.

But when one undertakes to become a follower of Christ he accepts instead of his own will the will of God. And as Christ pleased not Himself, but used His time, His influence, His life, for the good of others, so those who become His disciples will forego their rights and privileges, whenever these would conflict with their service to God. The Christian could not reason the same as he did before he made his consecration. He could not say, I will spend five dollars to go to the opera; but he will be obliged to say, My means are consecrated to the Lord. The same principle will control his judgment as to whether he shall have an automobile or not; whether he shall have a fine house or shall own any house; whether he shall have the finest food; whether he shall wear fine clothing, or plainer clothing, etc. It will control his judgment as to his use of consecrated time.

But no one is to judge another in regard to the use of money or time in his possession as the Lord's steward. It is for the individual himself to decide how he will use these. And it is the Lord who will decide whether he has been a faithful steward or an unfaithful one. The Lord will decide that those who, like Jesus, shall sacrifice the enjoyable earthly things, that thereby they may the better glorify God, shall have the more than compensating spiritual blessings, and shall receive the reward of the Kingdom and its positions of honor.

SACRIFICE--In the New Creature.

QUESTION (1916)--l--Kindly explain what is meant by the term sacrifice, and what constitutes sacrifice in the New Creature.

ANSWER.--The last part of this question has an important bearing upon the whole question--"in a New Creature." We are not to suppose that the New Creature does the sacrificing; for this is done before any of us become New Creatures. After we, as old creatures, reach the point where we desire to become God's people, we devote our lives to the Lord and ask that He accept us. Thus we bring ourselves to the great High Priest whom God has appointed, and offer ourselves to Him.

The Bible makes a limitation as to what constitutes sacrifice, and shows that only a priest can offer sacrifices lawfully. Since we come as sinners, not priests, we can only offer ourselves to the great High Priest, Jesus. He accepts us, justifies us through His own merit, and thus makes us acceptable to the Father. It is our earthly nature, our human nature, and all that pertains to it that is sacrificed. We simply offer it to the Lord; and He as our great High Priest imputes to it of His own merit and presents it to the Father, who accepts it and begets us by His Holy Spirit as New Creatures. This sacrifice of our human nature with all its rights and privileges is made once and forever. Thenceforth we are counted dead as human beings, but alive as New [Q613] Creatures. This New Creature is to grow in grace, in knowledge, in love. It is not to be sacrificed.

What, then, is to be sacrificed after we become New Creatures? We reply: The old creature is counted dead, both by God and by ourselves; but although reckoned dead, it is actually alive. Therefore it is the New Creature's business to keep the old nature on the altar, upon which the great High Priest has put it. In other words, the New Creature must keep the old nature dead, hold it in subjection. When our flesh is brought into contact with the fires of experience for its consumption, it is the old creature that weeps, not the New Creature. Let the goat weep if it will. The New Creature will rejoice in the Lord and in His providential care, as daily it grows in grace and in knowledge. When the old creature is knocked out, or brow-beaten, as the Apostle says (1 Cor. 9:27), it will groan; but the New Creature will be glad and rejoice in the Lord.

We recall with comfort and encouragement the case of St. Paul and Silas in prison at Philippi. While their flesh was lacerated with the whipping they had received, yet they rejoiced in spirit and were able to sing praises to God. (Acts 16:26.) Thus should it be with us as New Creatures. While the flesh suffers, the spirit should rejoice always, as saith the Word of God. (Philippians 4:4.) We rejoice because God's favor and blessing are with us as New Creatures.

We should endeavor to forget earthly things. To enable us to do this, we should not dwell too much upon them; for it is only the flesh that suffers, and the Apostle intimates that it must suffer until it dies. Therefore do not make too much of the sufferings of the flesh. Do not talk too much about your painful experiences and about the things of the present. "Forget the things that are behind." Think mostly about the blessings of the Heavenly Father and of the glorious hope which is held out for us in the future; and let the old nature with all its interests, die daily.

Of course, there are times in the Testimony Meetings when it would be proper to tell how the Lord has brought us out of our difficulties, trials and sufferings; but our effort should be to forget these sufferings of the flesh. If we dwell upon them and talk too much about them, we are in danger of developing spiritual pride. Speaking about his own sufferings on one occasion, the Apostle Paul said, "I speak as a fool." (2 Cor. 11:23.) But if he had not told us something about his sufferings, we would not know that he had the trials and difficulties which he enumerates. There is a right way to relate such things, and there is a wrong way. The Apostle was narrating his experiences for our benefit, not as a matter of boasting. We are to do likewise. We might be excusable in raking up some past experience and relating it, if thereby we might do good to someone. Otherwise we had better bury it, let it remain hidden from sight forever. "Ye are dead, and your lives are hid with Christ in God."--Col. 3:3.

SACRIFICE-What Is Sacrifice?

QUESTION (1916-Z)--1--What is sacrificed by one who is begotten of the Spirit to membership in the Body of Christ?

ANSWER.--In one sense of the word, no one does any sacrificing except the great High Priest. What we do is [Q614] to consecrate our wills, and present our bodies that they may be living sacrifices, that the great High Priest may make sacrifices of them. It should be easily discerned that merely killing an animal is not sacrificing it. The Jews killed thousands of animals for food, just as we do today; but these animals were not sacrificed by merely being killed. No sacrifice can be offered except by an arrangement with God; and He has arranged that sacrificing must be done by a priest. The priest that sacrificed under the Jewish Law was the high priest, the others being his assistants, and taking his place in case of death. The high priest was the one who typified Jesus; and Jesus alone is the One who is able to offer up the antitypical sacrifices. All that the followers of Jesus do, therefore, is to present themselves.

This presentation in the type was pictured by the goat's being tied at the door of the Tabernacle. In other words, this class devote, set apart, consecrate themselves as human beings. It is after Jesus lays hold of this individual, accepts his consecration, imputes His own merit, and offers him to the Father, that the Father's acceptance is manifested through the Son, the great High Priest, by the begetting of the Holy Spirit. Thenceforth such an one is a member of the Body of Christ, and his name is written in the Lamb's Book of Life, from which it will not be blotted out if he maintains his faithfulness.

SAINTS--Their Sacrifices.

QUESTION (1910)--1--What is the sacrifice his saints have to offer in harmony with this afternoon's discourse?

ANSWER.--The sacrifice we have to offer is as the Apostle expresses it in Rom. 12:1. Your sacrifice would not be holy and acceptable, but it is made holy and acceptable as such by the Advocate imputing of his merit to cover your sacrifice. Present your bodies. What does that include? It includes all you have, your thoughts, your words and your doings. Present the whole thing to God and henceforth you are to do the best of your ability, whether making shoes, washing dishes or clothes, sawing wood --whatever you may be doing, seek to do all things to the glory of God, that you may glorify him in spirit and mind which are his. In your mind you ought to be glorifying him by singing and making melody. In your body, serving him in some way, by doing whatever you do as unto the Lord. If your business is not glorifying the Lord, ask the Lord to help you, and look about to see what you can do to serve him. If your business is taking all of your time, you can look about and see what you can cut off, or burn up a lot of your bric-a-brac. I can see those nice things any day by walking down the street. I can see all I want in the show windows. As I go along the street I look at them, and enjoy them. They are kept all ready in the windows so I can see them, and it leaves me free to do something else. With the pen, write letters to your friends, sending them tracts, or engaging in volunteer work, or colporteur work, whatever it may be. Ask the Lord to permit you to be used in the service, telling him that you have made your consecration to that end; that it was not formality, and you want to carry it out. Then keep your eyes open. If you sit in a street car, have a tract with you, and judge to whom and which one you should give it. "A word in season, fitly spoken, how good it is." Put in the right [Q615] word at the right time. You can do ten times as much with a good word at the right time as you can with the right word at the wrong time. This is glorifying the Lord in your body; it is the least you can do. When we think of the fact that our great Lord and Redeemer, as well as our heavenly Father, has made this wonderful proposition, that he proposes to give us a share in the heavenly kingdom, and that he is now waiting to see if we have the right spirit in the matter, it is conditioned upon our manifesting his spirit, which is something that we did not have by nature. This is one of the things that belong to the fallen nature--me, my, ours, the somebody class. God bless me and my wife, and my son John and his wife; us four and no more. Not many pray that way. When we give ourselves we give our lives, our time, talent, money--everything goes. Now the Lord said, when you gave it to me you surrendered it. All Lord? Yes. I would not think of deceiving you. David said, Try and prove me and see if there is anything wicked in me, and if there is, take it away, etc. So, then, that is properly our attitude of mind. Let us see. We say, Now, Lord, you are going to demand the things I gave you? No. How is that? I am going to make you steward. What do you mean? I am going to leave all my things in your care, all your time, influence, money, everything, I am going to prove you by leaving them in your hands. I am not going to take them from you, for I do not need them. Why, all the gold and silver, and the cattle upon a thousand hills, belong to me. I will see what you will do--that is what the parable represents. He spoke of a nobleman who went into a far country and the Lord used this nobleman to represent himself. Before going he called his servants and distributed his goods to everybody and gave them the pounds and talents. He said, now, look here, trade with these until I return. When he returned he did not call the whole world, but his servants, all to whom he gave anything. Well, you say, he did not give me anything. Yes he did. When you consecrated you gave whatever you had, one, two or five talents, and he put it into your hands and made you a steward. Now a steward is one who has full control, without any restrictions. Now, what have you done, are you one of my servants? Yes. Have you anything of mine? Yes, all that I have is yours. Render up an account. Here are the facts--he is looking for returns, he will see what you have done, and your reward will be according to your faithfulness, and according to your work, and now if you have been careful and tried to do your best, he will say, "Well done, good and faithful servant, you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many, have dominion over two, five cities, etc."

You and I are now living in the very time he is about to establish the kingdom over the world, and he is present, investigating, examining, calling you and me to render up an account. I am glad there are a few days left; we want to trade with our capital a little more here, until our talent increases, etc. Only a little time, and we want to hear what the Master has to say.

SAINTS--Under Evil Influences.

QUESTION (1910)--l--Could a consecrated member of the Little Flock have an evil influence cast over him by someone [Q616] else, so he would not be responsible for his acts or his misunderstanding of doctrinal points?

ANSWER.--I think so. I think of the case of Judas. He had an evil influence cast over him; as we read, "Satan entered into him and he went and sold the Master." But the question is, How could Satan enter into one who was consecrated? Because that consecrated one did not live his consecrated life. If Judas had maintained an attitude of consecration to the Master, Satan would never have had the opportunity; it was because he was at heart disloyal. In John's Gospel it reads as though he were a deliberate thief. He seems not to have had an interest in the Lord's work from the right standpoint. Six days before Jesus was crucified, when the Lord had been telling them that he would be crucified, Judas was thinking at the time about the money, so that when Mary poured out the ointment upon the Lord and anointed him, as the Scriptures say, for his burial, Judas thought to himself, Wrong, wrong, that money should have been put in my bag. There are the poor; I am the poor one. He was the one who wanted the money. He lost the spirit of discipleship, and he was ready to sell his Master for money. I believe it is possible for any consecrated one to let himself go on and allow wrong suggestions and motives to rule in his heart, and get further and further from the Lord, until he is ready for the Adversary to take possession. I do not think this is possible for anyone who is loyal to the Lord.

SAINTS--Re Sealed by October, 1911.

QUESTION (1910)--1--Will all the saints be sealed and waiting their change, and how long will it be after?

ANSWER.--I could not say. I wish I knew. I don't know about that, but if it is God's will I would like to know, but if not I don't care to know.

Part 2:--Or will they be perfected as their Master, only waiting their change, and how long will it be after?

ANSWER.--We will have to ask God, and if he has given any answer in his Word I wish you would tell me, for I have not found it.

I might remark that there are a great many others who can tell you more about 1910, 1911, 1912, 1913 and 1914 than I can. I am not to judge them for what they know. I merely tell you that I do not know, except what is already presented in the Watch Tower and Scripture Studies, viz.: that our understanding is that the harvest began in the autumn of 1874, that there an important point was marked; also by the spring of 1878; and another in the fall of 1881, and that there is no time mentioned that I know of in the Bible, from 1881 to October, 1914.

In the 3rd Volume of Scripture Studies, in connection with the Pyramid, we suggested a certain measurement into the upper step of the Grand Gallery, but we did not know that it meant anything, and do not today. It will not hurt you to be watching every day and every year, but I would advise you not to place any confidence in what anybody tells you is going to take place in between now and 1914. They may feel sure they know. I do not feel sure that they know. I do feel sure that I do not know.