|VOL. XXXVII||OCTOBER 1||No. 19|
|Baptism for the Remission of Sins for Jews Only||291|
|Object of John's Baptism||291|
|No Sins Actually Remitted by Baptism||292|
|Improper Baptism of Twelve Ephesians||293|
|Was the Baptism of John Christian Baptism?||294|
|Temptations Peculiar to the New Creation||295|
|Temptations to Selfishness||295|
|Shipwrecked on Melita (Malta)||296|
|The Power of the Will – Self-Control||298|
|Importance of Strong Will Power||298|
|Interesting Questions Regarding Types||299|
|Type a Stronger Word Than Figure||299|
|Antitypes follow Types at Once||300|
|The Epistle of Christ||301|
|Photo-Drama in Newfoundland||302|
|"Wars and Rumors of Wars"||303|
'I will stand upon my watch, and set my foot upon the Tower, and will watch to see what He shall say unto me, and what answer I shall make to them that oppose me.' Hab. 2:1
Upon the earth distress of nations with perplexity: the sea and the waves (the restless, discontented) roaring: men's hearts failing them for fear and for looking forward to the things coming upon the earth (society): for the powers of the heavens (ecclestiasticism) shall be shaken. . . .When ye see these things come to pass, then know that the Kingdom of God is nigh at hand. Look up, lift up your heads, rejoice, for your redemption draweth nigh. – Luke 21:25-28, 32.
Our "Berean Lessons" are topical rehearsals or reviews of our Society's published "Studies," most entertainingly arranged, and very helpful to all who would merit the only honorary degree which the Society accords, viz., Verbi Dei Minister (V.D.M.), which translated into English is, Minister of the Divine Word. Our treatment of the International S.S. Lessons is specially for the older Bible Students and Teachers. By some this feature is considered indispensable.
This Journal stands firmly for the defence of the only true foundation of the Christian's hope now being so generally repudiated, – Redemption through the precious blood of "the man Christ Jesus who gave himself a ransom [a corresponding price, a substitute] for all." (I Pet. 1:19; I Tim. 2:6.) Building up on this sure foundation the gold, silver and precious stones (I Cor. 3:11-15; 2 Pet. 1:5-11) of the Word of God, its further mission is to – "Make all see what is the fellowship of the mystery which...has been hid in God,...to the intent that now might be made known by the Church the manifold wisdom of God" – "which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men as it is now revealed." – Eph. 3:5-9,10.
It stands free from all parties, sects and creeds of men, while it seeks more and more to bring its every utterance into fullest subjection to the will of God in Christ, as expressed in the Holy Scriptures. It is thus free to declare boldly whatsoever the Lord hath spoken; – according to the divine wisdom granted unto us, to understand. Its attitude is not dogmatical, but confident; for we know whereof we affirm, treading with implicit faith upon the sure promises of God. It is held as a trust, to be used only in his service; hence our decisions relative to what may and what may not appear in its columns must be according to our judgment of his good pleasure, the teaching of his Word, for the upbuilding of his people in grace and knowledge. And we not only invite but urge our readers to prove all its utterances by the infallible Word to which reference is constantly made, to facilitate such testing.
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DALLAS, TEXAS, OCTOBER 19 TO 22.
Just as this issue of THE WATCH TOWER was ready for press a letter from the Central Passenger Association advised us of the fact that excursion rates have been granted to Dayton, Ohio, on the above dates on account of the I.B.S.A. General Convention. The rates will apply from points in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Wisconsin. Those expecting to attend the Convention should make application for tickets of their local Ticket Agents at least two days before date of departure. Excursion rates to this Convention are granted in Joint Tariff C, No. 337.
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BETHEL HYMNS FOR NOVEMBER
After the close of the hymn the Bethel family listens to the reading of "My Vow Unto the Lord," then joins in prayer. At the breakfast table the MANNA text is considered. Hymns for November follow:
(1) 14; (2) 12; (3) 165; (4) 233; (5) 125; (6) 235; (7) 18; (8) 280; (9) 224; (10) 78; (11) 104; (12) 93; (13) 20; (14) 7; (15) 133; (16) 149; (17) 299; (18) 179; (19) 22; (20) 222; (21) 291; (22) 154; (23) 176; (24) 181; (25) 65; (26) 145; (27) 166; (28) 60; (29) 208; (30) 313.
"I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance; but He that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire." – Matthew 3:11.
But there are other sins besides Original Sin, and the culpability of these is proportionate to the amount of knowledge enjoyed. Those which are unintentional are in our Lord's prayer called "trespasses." But prayer to God would not set aside Original Sin – only the death of Jesus as a Ransom could set this aside. There are certain ones who through faith in His redeeming blood and by consecration of heart and life to the Lord have become children of God. Because of inherited imperfections these children of God commit trespasses. When they recognize these trespasses, they should come to the Throne of Heavenly Grace "that they may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need." Others than those who have become children of God have no standing with Him and have no right to make petitions. The only ones who have a hearing with God are those who have become disciples, or followers, of Christ and who have been accepted by Him as His followers. For such He has become the surety and has inducted them into a blessed relationship with the Father – the relationship of sons.
The Israelites were God's people, in covenant relationship with Him through typical arrangements. The time had not then come for Christ to die for sinners, so God gave them a system of types, pointing forward to the real Sacrifice for sins to be offered "in due time." He arranged that those who came into this covenant relationship with Him should be treated as though their sins had been actually forgiven and canceled. "Year by year continually," as the Apostle Paul says, they were to repeat these Atonement Day sacrifices, and thus have, typically, a fresh cancellation of Adamic sin for another year, for the sacrifice was good only for one year. Because of this arrangement their unwitting transgressions were typically set aside, and they continued to be God's Covenant people. During each year, however, they might through more or less weakness fall into errors of thought, of word and of conduct. These would be trespasses.
When John the Baptist began his ministry, he came preaching that the time was now at hand when Messiah would appear, and the invitation to come into the real Kingdom of God be given. His exhortation was that all the people should get ready for this, otherwise they would not be prepared to receive Messiah. He said in substance, Examine your life. Are you living to the best of your ability according to the Law? If not, if you are living according to a lower standard than the best of which you are capable, you are guilty. To whatever extent you are not living up to your highest possibilities, you are in disfavor [R5963 : page 291] with God and untrue to your covenant. If you desire from now on to do your best, show this by being baptized in water. This will be an acknowledgment that you repent of sins, and you will thus wash away your sins.
The people washed away their own sins, typically. John the Baptist did not wash them away. Those who had not been living in harmony with their Law Covenant, but who heard John gladly and turned from sin, were largely the very ones to whom the Message respecting the coming of Messiah appealed. Thus they became, with those who had kept themselves in God's favor and blessing, "Israelites indeed, in whom was no guile." This washing away of sins was not an actual cleansing from guilt; for only the blood of Jesus, the merit of His Ransom-sacrifice, could actually take away sin.
Some have asked, With what baptism was Saul of Tarsus baptized? with Jesus' baptism or John's baptism? Saul had lived "in all good conscience" before God during his previous life; how, then, did he have sins to wash away on the occasion of his conversion to Christ? We recall the incident of his conversion. While engaged in persecuting the Christians, Saul, on his way to Damascus, [R5963 : page 292] had been stricken down, and the Lord had manifested Himself to him. Then as St. Paul afterward said, he saw Jesus shining above the brightness of the sun at noonday and, as the result of this glorious manifestation, his eyes were blinded. His companions then led him to Damascus, where for three days he neither ate nor drank. Then Ananias, a servant of God, was sent by the Lord, to restore Saul's sight. After Saul recovered his sight Ananias said to him, "And now, why tarriest thou? Arise and be baptized, and wash away thy sins."
St. Paul apparently never entirely recovered from this injury to his eyes. The Lord refused to fully restore his sight. Certain Scriptures seem to imply that his weakness of eyes was what he called his "thorn in the flesh." But the Lord declared that He would give him what would be more than an offset to his poor eyesight – the riches of His grace. (2 Corinthians 12:7-10.) Although He was highly honored by revelations, this affliction served to keep him humble, and to remind him that at one time he had been injurious to the Lord's people.
The Apostle declared that what he did was done "in all good conscience," verily thinking that he was doing God service when he persecuted the followers of Jesus. He said that he had received mercy because he "did it ignorantly through unbelief." He declared, "I am the least of saints, not worthy to be called a saint, because I persecuted the Church of God." In his previous life he had been very careful to keep the outward forms of the Law, being, as he said, "a Pharisee of the Pharisees." But he had neglected the spirit of the Law – mercy and justice. In his zeal for the Law he had energetically persecuted those in harmony with God. He was, therefore, a sinner, without having been conscious that he was doing wrong. But his sin was declared by the Lord through Ananias, who reproved Saul and called on him to realize his sins and wash them away by baptism.
This leads us to consider in what way baptism could wash away sins. The Scriptures show us that there is no baptism that washes away sins so far as the Gentiles are concerned. All of us who were Gentiles have had our sins washed away, not by water, but by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. To us baptism signifies something different from the washing away of sins, as was the baptism of John; namely, a burial into, an induction into, the Body of Christ, the Church.
However, this does not signify that St. Paul and other Jews were not properly inducted into Christ. The Jews were "baptized into Moses, in the sea and in the cloud." Moses was the mediator for the whole nation of Israel; he stood between God and the people. Because this was so, God entered into a covenant with them; and Israel entered into a covenant with God, declaring that all His commandments they would keep. Throughout the Jewish Age some of them kept these commandments without any serious break. Amongst these were a number of the Apostles, we believe. They had been living good, honest, upright lives, in harmony with the Lord, so far as they were at that time able to live.
Others of those who came to Jesus were such as realized that they had been sinners; but they had repented. We remember that this was the very object of the Father's plan in sending John the Baptist. John taught the Jews that the Messiah was about to come to them, and that all who desired to be found in harmony with the Kingdom He would proclaim, should see to it that they were in harmony with the Law. Some had nothing to repent of and nothing to wash away by baptism. Many of those who realized that they had been unfaithful to their covenant with God were baptized in water, symbolically washing away the sins they had committed. This act of repentance brought them back under the blessings and favor of their Law Covenant. But although the blood of bulls and goats shed according to their Law did not actually take away sin, yet properly received by faith these sacrifices kept the people in covenant relationship with God. So likewise, neither could water baptism remit sin; but it restored them to full harmony with God's arrangement for Israel.
So the Jews who recognized that they had been living out of harmony with God, took the opportunity of being baptized by John. Washing away their sins symbolically in water, they publicly declared that they intended thenceforth to live in accordance with God's Law. Others, the religious leaders, were hypocritical. They were sure that if God purposed to bless any of His people at the coming of the Messiah He would bless those who had kept themselves in harmony with His Law – themselves. The Scribes, the Pharisees, and the Doctors of the Law of that time, as well as the Sadducees, all had a light opinion of John's work. Jesus said that this was because they were unwilling to repent and wash away their sins, unwilling to acknowledge that they had any sins to wash away. Therefore, as they received not John, they were equally unready to receive the One of whom John was the forerunner, the One who came to take away sin actually by making His own life the Sin-Offering.
Gentiles could not by repenting get back into relationship with the Mosaic Law; for they had never been under that Law. Moses was a type of Christ. As the Jews were all baptized into Moses, so when Jesus took the place of Moses, the baptism into Moses was counted as baptism into Christ to all who accepted Jesus as the Messiah. As the Apostle pointed out (Acts 3:22), "A Prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me. Him shall ye hear in all things." Christ was this Prophet like unto Moses, only far greater – like unto him in that He was to be the Representative of God to "all the people," the world of mankind, as Moses was His representative to all the people of Israel.
Any Jew who was in proper relationship to God through Moses was brought over into Christ upon the exercise of faith, so that he was in Christ as soon as he recognized Christ as the antitype of Moses and realized that his baptism into Moses meant typically his baptism into the great Antitype of Moses. In referring to the typical relationship of Israel to Christ, the Apostle Paul declared that when they drank of the water from the smitten Rock, "they drank of that Spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ." They drank of it in type. Hence when in due time the faithful ones of Israel accepted the Messiah by faith, they died to that typical relationship, and thenceforth drank actually of the Spiritual Rock – Christ Jesus. They came into vital relationship to Messiah.
Baptism for the remission of sins is no longer effective for the Jews, because their opportunity is closed, the way by which they might have a preference over the Gentiles. There is no provision now by means of which the Jews are privileged to come into Christ by any easier way than are those of any other nation or people. As a nation the Jews were left desolate five days before the crucifixion of Christ, until their "double" of disfavor should be fulfilled. See SCRIPTURE STUDIES, Volume 2, pp. 216-228. We understand that special favor even to individual [R5963 : page 293] Jews ended three and a half years after the Cross, at the close of their seventieth week, as foretold by the Prophet Daniel. (Daniel 9:24-27.) See SCRIPTURE STUDIES, Vol. 2, pp. 63-71.
The Apostle explains (Romans 11) that while the Israelites had been the natural branches in the olive tree, of which the Promise to Abraham was the root and the Lord Jesus Christ was the Antitypical trunk, nevertheless the time came when many of these branches were broken off. A broken-off branch could not be restored by any different process than that by which a wild branch could be ingrafted. These branches had already been broken off when the Apostle referred to the matter in his letter to the Church at Rome. Hence any Jew coming into Christ then would have to be grafted in the same as a Gentile. He would have no precedence.
We note the case of the Ephesians mentioned in Acts 19. Apollos had preached at Ephesus and had baptized twelve brethren. But Apollos himself had not then been clearly informed as to the difference between the baptism of the Jews and that of the Gentiles; and he performed on them the baptism of John, which was for the [R5964 : page 293] remission of the sins of the Jews against their Law Covenant, including later their sin of rejection and crucifixion of Messiah. But God would not recognize this baptism for a Gentile. The Gentiles had never been in covenant relationship with Him.
When St. Paul came to Ephesus and perceived that these men had none of the gifts of the Spirit then common to all believers, he inquired what baptism they had received. They answered, "John's baptism." Then he required them to be baptized again, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. This brought them into full relationship with God, as were the remainder of the disciples. The Lord probably permitted this mistake in order that the Apostles might more clearly understand, and that thus the truth of the matter might come down to us. These things give us a clear conception of how particular God is in all His dealings. There is a definite way in which we may come into covenant relationship with the Lord, and He insists on the recognition of the conditions which must be observed to this end.
The Jewish people have been broken off from favor and fellowship with God for a long time, a period of disfavor equal to the former period of their favor – 1845 years, as we have shown in SCRIPTURE STUDIES. They are severed from the original olive tree. But God is able to "graft them in again," as the Apostle declares. So during the Gospel Age the Jew has had the same privilege of coming into the Body of Christ as the Gentile. The fact that one is a Jew does not hinder him from entering into the enjoyment of all the privileges of Gentile Christians. The only thing that has hindered is the great gulf of prejudice and misconception of God.
The Jewish nation are cast off from favor "until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in." We believe the "fulness" is now about completed. St. Paul declares that the Jews, Israel after the flesh, shall be restored to favor with God. "They shall obtain mercy through your [the Gospel Church's] mercy," he assures us. They shall be brought back through the ministration of the glorified Church. As a nation they failed to avail themselves of the privileges of this Gospel Age to have their sins put away by accepting Christ; but the Jews will come into favor under the most favorable conditions when the New Order of things shall be established – when by the application of the merit of His sacrifice Christ shall have made atonement for the whole world. This will include the sins of the Jews. Their "double" of disfavor having ended, as we understand, in the spring of 1878, God's favor is gradually being manifested to the Jews, and will continue to increase until their full restoration, though their chastisement is not yet fully completed.
At the inauguration of the New Age of blessing Natural Israel will be granted a special place and privilege; "for the gifts and calling of God are not things to be repented of." We see how in another way, also, this special privilege will come to them; namely, in that the Law has been more or less of a restraint upon them in their daily lives as a people. They have had more or less of loyalty to God, which has kept them separate from other nations. This special privilege of preeminence in the Messianic Kingdom, however, will not be granted to all who are Jews by blood; but only to those who prove loyal to the Law and the Prophets – those who are Jews at heart, and not merely outwardly. All others are merely Gentiles. – Romans 2:28,29.
The earthly phase of the Kingdom will be composed of the Ancient Worthies of the ages preceding the First Advent of our Lord. Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Job, and the Hebrew Prophets and other faithful ones will be in power as "princes in all the earth." (Psalm 45:16.) The orthodox Jews will be more ready to receive the blessing of the New Dispensation promptly than will any other people. Therefore they will have the first blessing – not by reason of partiality on God's part in showing favor to these people, but by virtue of the fact that He made a covenant with them as the posterity of faithful Abraham.
We have no reason to think that baptism will be practised in the New Dispensation. We have no Scriptures that tell us it will be introduced. Yet it will not be surprising if it shall be reestablished; for baptism is a very beautiful picture of consecration to God, the full giving of the life to His service. It may be introduced as a symbol of washing away sin or as a symbol of consecration. What we do not know we think it best not to discuss. We do see that the Church was baptized into Christ by being baptized into His death; and that baptism is, therefore, to the Christian, a symbol of death. But it need not be a symbol of death always. This beautiful figure might be transmuted to signify a baptism into the family of Christ, a manifestation of the adoption of this new Father, in contradistinction to the old father, Adam – a rising to newness of life through the Lord Jesus Christ. We should not be surprised if this would be the case, but it is not wise to speculate in advance. It is better to leave those matters not yet clear, until the Lord shall open them up fully.
John's Baptism was called by that name because John was the first one who used baptism; and he, as the forerunner of Christ, used it to do a preparatory work. Not only John and his disciples, but also Jesus and His disciples, practised this baptism among the Jews. (John 4:1-3.) This rite called to repentance of sin and the getting into harmony with the Messiah who was about to come. It was very necessary that Jesus should be recognized as the great Anointed One; for although His baptism was to bring the Jews back into accord with Moses, into harmony with the Law, nevertheless it was to prepare them to accept the Messiah. [R5964 : page 294]
The baptism of Jews after Pentecost was the same – for the remission of sins; but they had charged against them, in addition to their other sins of unfaithfulness, the crucifixion of the Prince of Life. Many acknowledged their guilt when they realized what had been done. They saw that the whole nation was guilty of what the people had done through their rulers, the high priest, the under priests, the Sanhedrin, the Scribes, the Pharisees and the Doctors of the Law.
Those Jews who were contrite of heart were prompted to ask what they should do to escape the condemnation which was upon the whole people. St. Peter answered, "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." In a measure extenuating their sin of crucifying the Messiah, he said, "I wot, brethren, that in ignorance ye did it, as did also your rulers; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of Glory." (Acts 2:37,38; 3:13-15,17.) He reminded them that they were the children of the promises; and that as Israelites they had a special claim on this arrangement which God had made through His Anointed Son, in that it must come to them first; and that their repentance would bring them forgiveness and remission of sins.
The Apostle was not speaking, however, of a new immersion into the Body of Christ which would be applicable only to Gentiles; for Gentiles could not be received in the same way, by remission of sins and a restitution to God's favor under the Jewish Law arrangement to which they had never been subject. Gentiles had never sinned against the Law; therefore they could not be dealt with as the Jews.
Again, it is asked, Was the baptism of John Christian Baptism? If not, when did Christians begin to baptize with the Christian baptism? We reply, John's Baptism was not Christian baptism, but merely a baptism for the washing away of sins, as we have shown. Few of those baptized by John knew anything about Christ. It could not, therefore, have been a Christian baptism. However, it would amount to Christian baptism to the Jews who observed it, because by coming back into Moses and recognizing Christ as the antitype of Moses, they would thus be transferred into Christ after Pentecost.
But Christian baptism to the Gentiles was a new thing. It symbolized the grafting of wild olive branches into the Israelitish olive tree. It was an immersion of aliens into the Body of Messiah, making them fellow-members with the Jews of the twelve tribes of Spiritual Israel, whose entire number was to be 144,000 – twelve thousand from each tribe. (Revelation 2:9; 3:9; 7:1-8; 14:1-5.) Those taken from among the Gentiles were the wild olive branches grafted into the good olive tree, making up the number which lacked to complete this Body of Christ.
Some friends seem to have been in doubt as to whether it is proper to practise water baptism since October 1st, 1914, and if so, as to what words should be used by the administrator in immersing the candidate, especially if he has but lately made a consecration.
To this we reply; firstly, Just when the membership of the Body of Christ will be consummated is not a matter that we are capable of determining with positiveness. Up to that time we may be sure that any one presenting himself in the proper way was eligible. Secondly, Some of those who now present themselves for immersion have made a complete consecration previously; they may be symbolizing a consecration made five, ten or twenty years ago. Thirdly, Even if we were sure that the Body of Christ is now completed, we see no reason why consecration [R5965 : page 294] to God should not be symbolized by water baptism; for this rite represents the surrender and burial of the individual will into the will of the Lord, and this is the proper course for every one to take. We could not imagine a different course for all to take during the Millennial Age. The difference will be that the Lord will not accept them then to a change of nature, but to His favor under the Restitution privileges of that Dispensation – an uplift to perfect human nature on the earth.
Those who will come into harmony with God's arrangements for the world during the Millennium, now about to dawn, are to be the children of Christ – He is spoken of as their "Everlasting Father" – their Life-giver. He is not the Father of the Gospel Church, but their Elder Brother. They are the children of God. The life that will be given to the world will be the earthly life, the kind which Jesus surrendered on their behalf. They are referred to in 1 Cor., chapter 15, as they that are His, who become His, during the thousand years of His presence.
The Common Version rendering is obscure. Verse 23 should read, "But every man in his own order: the anointed First-fruits; afterward, they that are Christ's in His presence" – during His Parousia, the thousand years of Christ's Reign. "Then cometh the end, when He [Christ] shall have delivered up the Kingdom to God, even the Father," "that God may be all in all." (Verses 24-28.) All of the restored world will belong to the general family of Christ. Jesus the Bridegroom and the Church His Bride will have the regenerated human family as their children on the earthly plane of being. Mankind will become Christ's children by the consecration of themselves. The Father's will for them will not be the spirit nature, but human restitution to all that was lost in Adam.
For all these reasons we see that it is proper that we should make no change at this time either in the symbolic baptism or in the language used in connection with the same. We think it a fitting picture of consecration to God and His service on whatever plane of life one may spend eternity, whether spiritual or earthly.
"We have not an High Priest who cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the Throne of Grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need." – Hebrews 4:15,16.
The question arises, How could Jesus have had the same kind of difficulties that a mother would have? How could He be tried in all points as a mother? He never was a mother. How could He be tempted as a father? He never was a father. How could He be tempted as a drunkard, or in many ways as fallen humanity are tempted, when He was perfect?
We answer, The Apostle was not referring to the temptations of fallen humanity. He says, "He was tempted in all points like as we are." He was speaking of New Creatures. We know of no temptation that came to our Lord except those which came to Him as a New Creature. He was tempted as we are tempted as New Creatures in Christ. He was not subject to every temptation which assails us from the fallen tastes, appetites and tendencies, which come to us as members of the degenerate race of Adam. These are not temptations to the New Creature. Those who have enlisted under the banner of Jehovah should love righteousness and hate iniquity. This was our Lord's mind.
Whoever in his mind loves the wrong and approves the wrong gives evidence of not having the mind of Christ, and would not properly be one of the "we" class referred to here, since his temptations would not be like those which spirit-begotten New Creatures have, like those which Jesus had. Those who have formerly lived in sin should sufficiently know of its undesirability. Those who have practised sin should have had satisfactory evidence of its unholy nature, of its pernicious and destructive effects. So we who have fled from sin and come into God's family do not wish to return to its bondage, like a dog to his vomit or a sow to her wallowing in the mire. Those are not our temptations at all. Our temptations are much more subtle.
Looking back at our Lord's life after His baptism in Jordan, we see how He was tempted. One of His temptations was in respect to the use of His God-given power. He was very hungry, and was in a place where no food could be secured. The Adversary suggested that He use His miraculous power to produce food for Himself by commanding the stones to become bread. This He could have done; for we remember that on more than one occasion He miraculously created food to feed the multitudes, and at another time He turned water into the choicest wine. But on this occasion He refused to use this power to satisfy His own appetite. The spirit of devotion to the Father led Him into the wilderness for prayer, meditation and study of God's Word, preparatory to beginning his sacrificial service.
We have not the power to turn stones into bread or water into wine. But we have certain privileges and opportunities; for instance, the opportunity of speaking in the name of the Lord and of telling of His goodness and of His wonderful Plan for human salvation. All these things are privileges to us who are following in the footsteps of Jesus. In these the temptation is to do these things for our own special advantage. For example, we might undertake to proclaim the Truth with the thought of obtaining great honor or a large salary. This temptation frequently comes to those who are God's ministers – to use this power of God and the Truth of God for personal aggrandizement. To whatever extent any would do these things to that extent he would be falling into temptation.
Another way in which Jesus was tempted was in the suggestion to cast Himself down from the pinnacle of the Temple, and thus call the attention of all the people to Himself. This act would prove Him to be possessed of superhuman power and would seem to imply that He was under the special protection of God. He could thus make a marvelous demonstration of Himself and He would be considered some great one. The Adversary, true to his usual methods, misapplied a Scripture, endeavoring to convince the Master that God had promised to protect Him in just such an instance, to uphold Him lest He should dash His foot against a stone. But Jesus resented this misinterpretation of Scripture, and answered, "It is written, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God." He refused to tempt God, to try Him through a misapplication of His promise. The written Word was His refuge and strength in each temptation.
So some of Christ's disciples are tempted to do things in a spirit of foolhardiness, hoping that God will shield them from the evil results of a course which would be contrary to the laws of nature or save them from consequences [R5966 : page 295] which would be the natural result of certain actions. This would be presumption on the part of a child of God. Such a course is saying by implication, "God will protect me, He will not allow me to come to harm." To presume to do what God has never authorized in His Word, and then expect a miracle to prevent evil from resulting, is entirely wrong and unjustifiable. If we should presume to go out in cold or stormy weather improperly clad, when it is not necessary to do so, and thus risk contracting illness thereby, we would be doing a wrong and unwarranted thing. Our bodies belong to the Lord and we have no right to do anything unnecessarily which would be a risk of injury or death. Only duty or necessity would excuse such a course.
Another temptation which was presented to our Lord was that He look out over the Kingdoms of the world, and then be assured that all these should be given over to His control, without His having to submit to suffering, without taking the painful course marked out by God, if He would just fall down and worship Satan, acknowledge his authority instead of that of Jehovah. Satan's words implied that he would not require such suffering and sacrifice as God required; that if Jesus would only cooperate with him, all would work smoothly and prosperously. Our dear Lord replied, "Get thee hence, Satan! [R5966 : page 296] for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve." So on every point the wily Adversary was foiled. Jesus had as a panoply the Word of God, and was safe from every attack.
So temptations may come to us. We might have suggestions that if we would only not be too straight-laced, but would cooperate to some extent with the world and its spirit, we might get along better and have a greater influence over people. This was the Adversary's argument with the Master: "Cooperate with me, and we will bring the whole world where you can give them great blessings." But Jesus would not swerve from the Father's way. Temptations and suggestions of this kind often come to the Lord's people. We fear that many of His professed followers have compromised with the world and the Adversary. The church systems have fallen into this very trap of the Devil. This has surely been a grave and costly mistake. Temptations and suggestions of this kind come often to the Lord's people.
We also have temptations to return evil for evil and railing for railing. Our Lord was so tempted just before His crucifixion. When He was delivered to the chief priests and taken before the Jewish Sanhedrin, He did not show them up, as He might have done. Jesus might have delivered a very scathing criticism of the high priest at that time; He might truthfully have made caustic remarks about the high priest's character. With the power of eloquence which He possessed, He might have made a great stir. Perhaps He felt an impulse in this direction, but He held His peace, and allowed Himself to be led as a lamb to the slaughter. And so we have temptations of a similar kind – temptations to render evil for evil, to keep square with people, to give them what they deserve.
When we realize that we are not always successful in resisting these temptations, we are to remember that we have a Throne of Grace, to which we may come and find mercy and grace to help in time of need. We may come to our great High Priest. The high priest of old held a very high and honorable position. Our High Priest is far more highly exalted. In considering this, we might at first be inclined to think of Him as very austere, not easily approached. But the Apostle says that we are to remember that this is the One who is our Savior, the One who died for us; and that although He is so greatly exalted and seated upon the Throne of Glory, yet His Throne is also a Throne of Mercy.
Coming to the Savior's Throne is not the same as coming directly to the Father's Throne. Jehovah's Throne is a Throne of Justice, but Jesus' Throne is a Throne of Mercy. Here we may obtain mercy if we fail to come up to the highest standard. We are to remember that our merciful High Priest knows just what kind of trials we have. If we have tried to do our best, and have been overtaken in a fault, He knows how to make allowance for us and to be very sympathetic. We are to remember that this Mercy Seat is for this very purpose – to show mercy to us.
Thus as we realize that in our temptations and trials the Lord is for us as He sees our earnest struggles and endeavors, it makes us the stronger in resistance another time. "He knows, and loves, and cares." Therefore we should never grow discouraged, but come to Him again and again, remembering that He is never weary of our coming and that He will not turn us away empty.
"Jehovah redeemeth the soul of His servants; and none of them that take refuge in Him shall be condemned." – Psalm 34:22. R.V.
From the time when he became a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ, St. Paul's deportment was noble, humble, reverential, faithful, devout, saintly, worthy of emulation by all the followers of the Master. The transformation wrought in St. Paul is possible in all who have the hearing ear and who receive the Gospel Message into good and honest hearts. Of itself such a transformation is a witness to the power of God – to the reality of the religion of the Bible. What a changed world we should be in if all mankind underwent such a transformation!
But not all are in the condition of heart to be thus influenced, thus drawn by the Gospel. Some will need the strong arm of Messiah – will need the authority and the force of the Millennial Kingdom – to bring them into subjection and to show them the advantages of right over wrong. Thank God that with faith we may pray, "Thy Kingdom come; Thy will be done on earth, as it is done in Heaven"! expecting the realization soon.
Scudding before the storm of fourteen days and nights, the vessel finally reached a place where the trained ears of the seamen in the night caught the sound of the surf, they knew not where. Then they cast four anchors out of the stern of the vessel, and waited for the morning.
By this time St. Paul, the Jewish prisoner, had risen in the estimation of all on board the ship; for God was with him. Throughout the storm all but the Apostle had lost both courage and hope; and his cheerful attitude was due to his submission to God's will and partly to the fact that in a vision the Lord had showed him that he should yet preach the Gospel at Rome, and that for his sake Divine Providence would care for every life on board the ship. A heart at peace with God and instructed through His Word is prepared for whatever may come of joy or sorrow.
The Apostle exhorted his companions to be of good cheer. He reminded them of his vision, and assured them of his absolute faith therein. Then he urged them to take food in order that they might be strengthened for the strenuous exertions of the coming day. His cheerfulness and his example were contagious. As the light [R5966 : page 297] of the Lord was his peace and joy, so he in turn was the light of the ship and the comfort of those thereon. He illustrated what he taught – that God's people should do good unto all men as they have opportunity, especially to the Household of Faith. He exemplified his own words to the Corinthian Church: "God comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them that are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God." – Galatians 6:10; 2 Cor. 1:4.
With the morning light they discerned the shore and a little bay which is now known as St. Paul's Bay in the Island of Malta, then called Melita. The sailors cut loose from the anchors, hoisted sail and sought to beach the boat. But before reaching shore, the vessel grounded on a mudbank; and the forepart holding fast, the rear began to go to pieces with the force of the waves; for it was a meeting place for two sea currents. In the night the life boat had been cut adrift, because the sailors had attempted to desert the ship. St. Paul had advised this course. Having discerned the evident intention of the sailors to escape in the small boat, he communicated the facts to the centurion, and pointed out the necessity of compliance with reasonable precautions to insure the fulfilment of the Divine promise.
So we all should understand that we have something to do in realizing the gracious promises of God to us. In connection with the affairs of this life He has promised that our bread and our water shall be sure. But this does not imply that we shall neglect reasonable opportunities for securing these. He has promised us a share in the coming Messianic Kingdom. But it is for us to make our calling and election sure. God is thoroughly capable and willing to perform all of His part in connection with every matter; but it is to our advantage that He calls upon us to show our faith by our works – by our cooperation with Him in various ways.
Seeing that only by swimming or by floating on wreckage could the shore be reached, the soldiers proposed that the prisoners be killed; for under Roman law they were answerable with their lives for the security of those committed to their charge. But the centurion had learned to esteem the Apostle, and for his sake spared all the prisoners, doubtless remembering the vision which had inspired them all with the hope and the courage which had brought them this far toward safety. It turned out as St. Paul had foretold – that every human life was spared, but that the ship alone was lost with her cargo.
On the shore we get a new picture of St. Paul. He neither stood on any dignity nor assumed superiority to be served. On the contrary, he promptly assisted in serving the interests of the entire company. We find him gathering sticks for a fire, at which the company might be warmed and dried. The barbarians of the island – so-called because they spoke neither Greek nor Latin, but Phoenician – showed them various kindnesses.
But when the natives saw a viper, warmed to life by the heat of the fire, fasten itself upon the Apostle's hand, they reasoned that this prisoner was doubtless a murderer who, having escaped the perils of shipwreck, was still pursued by Divine Justice and bitten in order that he might die. They supposed that St. Paul's arm would swell with the poison from the viper, and that soon the prisoner would be writhing in agony and die in torture. But when he shook off the serpent and suffered no injury, they concluded that he must be a god.
Here a fresh opportunity was afforded for the honoring of the Gospel Message; for St. Paul soon afterwards found that the father of the governor was sick, and he miraculously healed the man and other sick people of the island. Thus was the knowledge of Christ and His minister spread abroad to a considerable extent, although as far as we have any information the Apostle did not attempt to preach the Gospel Message, either to his companions on shipboard or to the people of the island. Evidently he did not consider them to be "good ground" in which to sow the seed of the Kingdom – did not consider them to be of those whom the Lord our God has called to be of the Bride class now being selected and tested. Doubtless their experiences will prove profitable to them in the due time when the glorified Christ shall draw all men unto Himself (John 12:32), granting them blessed opportunities for knowledge, for blessing and for Restitution. – Acts 3:19-23.
We notice that the Apostle was not bent upon exciting men's minds, but was practising the same Gospel methods which the Master had taught him; namely, of counting the cost of discipleship, and then, if willing to pay the price, of taking up the cross and following the Lord. If this, the Master's method for gathering His people from the world (Matthew 16:24; Luke 14:27-33), were still pursued, there would be many fewer nominal Christians; but we believe that there would be no smaller number of the genuine ones.
The time for bringing the world in is not yet come. Hence the Master prayed not for the world, but for those whom the Father had given Him out of the world. His words were: "I pray not for the world, but for them whom Thou hast given Me; for they are Thine. ...Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also that shall believe on Me through their word; that they all may be one; as Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be one in Us; that the world may believe that Thou hast sent Me." (John 17:9,20,21.) The gathering of the Elect is under disadvantageous conditions, which will thoroughly test them, making their way so narrow that few will find it, and still fewer progress in it. But when God's due time for dealing with the world shall come, the powers of Heaven and earth will cooperate with the glorified Church in making the Gospel so plain that a wayfaring man, though a fool, need not err therein. – Isaiah 35:8-10.
As far as the record shows, the Apostle and his companions did no mission work amongst the barbarians of the island on which they were wrecked, nor amongst the soldiers and the sailors who were their companions during that winter. They left no Church there. Therefore we may safely presume that they found no hearing ears. The lesson to us from this fact should be that we are not to expect the conversion of the world nor anything akin to it. But we are to expect that the Lord will find with the Truth a sufficient number to complete the elect Church, and then, with the power and authority of the Kingdom, will establish righteousness and cause the knowledge of Himself to fill the earth and to bless the whole world, through The Christ. – Galatians 3:8,16,29.
"It is good not to eat flesh, nor drink wine, nor to do anything whereby thy brother stumbleth." – Verse 21.
Certainly no one claiming benevolence of heart and soundness of judgment could possibly advocate or encourage intemperance, realizing that it is a fruitful source of crime, depravity, immorality, etc. We note with pleasure the spread of local option and total prohibition in these United States and elsewhere – not that such restraints are the highest ideals of liberty, but that those who love liberty are willing to share the bondage of restraint for the sake of their fellow-citizens to whom full liberty is admittedly injurious.
Either climatic variations or else financial and social changes account for the fact that in the days of our Lord and the Apostles there was less tendency to drunkenness than there is now; and probably for this reason the Scriptures have less to say respecting this vice, which is one of the chiefest evils of our day.
But no amount of interest in the temperance question should permit us to read into the Divine Word that which was not intended by its inspired writers, although we may properly enough draw inferences and conclusions. First of all, we must take the lesson provided for us as we find it. Today's Study is a part of the Apostle's discussion of law and liberty, custom and conscience, on questions that were prominent at the time of writing. With his accustomed vigor St. Paul is marking out the path of proper Christian conduct, in harmony with the second great commandment of the Divine Law – "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself." Although the lesson may be applied in a measure to every intelligent being, yet strictly, particularly, peculiarly, it applies to every consecrated member of the Church of Christ.
All men have wills; and it is important that all should learn to use them. As a man willeth, so is he! The willless, the supine, are not truly men and women. To be a hero in the strife one must have a strong will; and in proportion to its correctness will be the influence and value of the personality. Children should not be trained to have no will, but, contrariwise, to have a will submitted to the proper rulers and guides of life – to parents, to earthly teachers and, later on, to the Divine will.
In our Study the Apostle is addressing those who submit their wills to the Lord – those who have accepted the Divine will as instead of their own. The noblest and best of the people of God are those who have iron wills, which they have fully submitted to the guidance and direction of the Lord – through the Bible, the Holy Spirit and Divine providences. "The Father seeketh such to worship Him as worship Him in spirit and in truth."
Some are born with strong wills; others are naturally rather weak-minded. In the world the latter sink or swim, survive or perish, in the vicissitudes of life, often controlled by the law of supply and demand and the survival of the fittest. The inequalities of birth are frequently accentuated by life's experiences, and often disastrously. Some of the strong-willed become merchant princes, managers of large enterprises, etc.; others become thieves, desperadoes, etc. – the outcome depending largely upon haphazard circumstances.
The only safe course for any mariner on the stormy sea of life is to take on board the great Pilot, the Lord Jesus Christ. While He will probably seldom guide into a haven of earthly riches or earthly popularity, nevertheless He will, if permitted, bring us safely to the desired haven. Under this Pilot the human will is like a strong vessel with mighty sails or a powerful engine. The greater the power, the greater the capacity and the more useful. The proper Pilot will guide us not only safely past the rocks of disaster and the shoals of sin, but into the haven of life, joy, peace and fellowship Divine.
Not merely the strong-willed need this great Pilot. The weak-willed naturally need Him just as much; for although they might not run upon the rocks with the same degree of force, and thus make equally bad shipwreck, yet they are quite as likely to be caught upon the shoals of sin and, in a purposeless manner, fail to achieve in life anything worth while.
Those who during this Gospel Age make a full surrender of their wills to the Lord and receive in return the begetting of the Holy Spirit are Scripturally termed New Creatures in Christ. (2 Cor. 5:17.) Their wills are brought into subjection to the will of God. The lessons of His Word and all the experiences of life under Divine provision are promised to work for their good – to strengthen their wills if too weak, to make them properly pliable if too rigid, and eventually to make of them the most that is possible in the present life and to prepare them for the life to come.
Such are addressed by St. Paul in today's Study. They are exhorted not to judge the brethren in the sense of condemning them, but rather to judge themselves, criticize themselves, make of themselves shining lights, and thus to help the brethren by setting before them and the world a noble example. Sooner or later all must give an account to the Lord. Therefore our judging of others is unnecessary. Hence if we have judged or criticized each other in the past, we should avoid so doing in the future and should criticize only our ownselves – our words, our deeds, our thoughts – that nothing in us shall put a stumbling-block in the way of another.
The ceremonial cleanness or uncleanness of food is nothing to the Christian, who is free from all law except the Law of Love. But this Divine Law controls, and forbids us to stumble or even to grieve a brother less well-informed than ourselves. How could one who is controlled by love either eat, drink, act or speak in a manner that would cause injury to another? It is good to have liberty, but let us so use it as not to injure those less advanced than ourselves.
The Call of the Gospel Age is to joint-heirship with Christ in His Millennial Kingdom. Those who are thus called are not under the bondage of the Jewish Law, but have greater liberty in Christ. But shall we say that the advantage of our relationship to the Lord as prospective heirs of the Kingdom consists chiefly in the liberty to eat and to drink what we please? Surely not! These [R5966 : page 299] are but the lesser advantages of our blessed relationship to Christ and the Kingdom. Our chief blessing consists in our justification and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.
Let us appreciate these our chief blessings and privileges of the present time; for in so doing we shall be well pleasing in the sight of God, and men also will approve our conduct. So, then, let us follow after the things which make for peace, and the things whereby we may build one another up. Let us not even risk injury to the Cause of Righteousness and the work of God's grace in others by using our liberties in any manner contrary to their welfare. Rather let us count it a privilege to void our rights, if thus we can glorify God and bless our fellow men.
"The faith which thou hast, have thou to thyself before God." That is to say, our outward conduct need not necessarily show all the depth of our knowledge, faith and liberty. God knows the heart. He sees the progress which we have made; and He will be the better pleased with us if for the brethren's sake we do not declare all our liberties at a time and a place where the knowledge might prove injurious to others of His dear family.
The Apostle proceeds to point out that if we are critical in examining our own conduct and our own motives we may find therein something very similar in kind to that which we are disposed to criticize in others, although perhaps in relation to a different subject. (Verse 22.) For instance, whoever judges another allows, or concludes, that the other's conduct is inspired by pride, ambition, etc. If he were to turn his criticism upon himself, he might find something of the same kind in his own heart. Whoever concludes that his neighbor is a slanderer and condemns the neighbor for it should turn his criticism upon himself, to see that his own words are always above reproach – never upon the slanderer. Happy and blessed the person who after careful self-examination finds himself to be entirely free from faults he discerns in others. Such are exceptional characters.
With the wrong conception before the mind, the Apostle's words in Verse 23 sound extremely harsh. To many minds laboring under the delusions of the Dark Ages the idea is conveyed that whoever defiles his conscience by eating meat which he mistakenly thinks to be unclean would thus be sent to an eternity of torture. But no such thought was in the Apostle's mind, nor could it be properly understood in his words. He there emphasizes the fact that any person eating meat, however clean, but thinking that in so doing he was committing a sin, would as a consequence be under condemnation for having violated his conscience, his judgment of the Lord's will; and that this condemnation of conscience would act as a barrier between himself and the Lord, who judges the heart and not merely the outward conduct. Such an alienation might ultimately lead to the loss of the great Prize of our High Calling, and thus lead one into the Great Company or possibly into the Second Death.
The Apostle explains why this condemnation would hold, saying, "because he eateth not of faith" – not in harmony with his conscience; and whatsoever is not in harmony with faith and conscience is a sin.
The application of this principle to the question of using or not using spirituous liquors would certainly be profitable to all of God's people. Whoever uses these liquors when he believes that their use is a sin is violating his conscience. Whoever uses them with full knowledge that another will thereby be affected unfavorably is violating the Law of Love – "Love thy neighbor as thyself." In our day this matter becomes more important than ever before, for today the question of conscience in the matter of using spirituous liquors is more pronounced than ever before.
In the Body of Christ the members have their various inherited weaknesses, against which they must wage a life-long warfare; and sometimes these weaknesses are of such a nature as to interfere to some extent with the rights and the comforts of others as well as those of their possessors. Along this line the Apostle offers a word of counsel, saying, "We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves." Such patient, forbearing love is one of the most beautiful adornments of Christian character.
This does not imply, however, that we should not expostulate with such a one, and endeavor to help him to get rid of his infirmity. This we should do in the spirit of meekness and kindness, while we cheerfully endure the trial of our patience, not seeking to please ourselves, but rather to help a weaker brother or sister. "Let every one of us," as the Apostle counsels, "please his neighbor for his good, to edification" – not by simply ignoring his fault as though we considered it of no consequence, but by humbly and patiently submitting to the discomfort, even while kindly urging him to strive against it.
If this spirit prevails, there need be no division in the Body of Christ; for all the members will have a mutual care and a mutual love for one another – a care which seeks to encourage all that is good and to discourage all that is unbecoming; a love which throws its mantle over the deformity, and which endeavors to conceal a fault rather than to expose the weaker brother to the reproach of others. Thus in the true Body of Christ, which is knit together in love, if one member suffer, all the members suffer with him in proportion as they are more or less directly associated with him; or if one member be honored, all the members rejoice with him and to some degree share the honor – just as when in an earthly family one member rises to honorable distinction all the members partake of the honor and the joy.
Answer. – There is a very strong relationship between these words. To some people they would all mean the same; to others there would be a slight difference of meaning. A type is a figure, and is also a picture, designed to bring out certain important matters and details as Divinely appointed. A figure is a much less exact representation or statement of matters than a type. Abraham received Isaac from the dead in a figure (Hebrews 11:17-19); that is, there is a pictorial illustration connected with the matter, but it is not so sharp as in a type.
A parable is a figure; it is a word-picture, but not a type. It has not the exactness of a type. We would use the words parable and picture in the same way; for we see no difference. A type is an exact pattern of its antitype, just as a printer's type corresponds to the matter printed therefrom. Isaac was a type of Christ; Rebecca, his wife, a type of the Bride of Christ; Ishmael, Abraham's son by Sarah's bondmaid, was a type of the nation [R5966 : page 300] of Israel, developed under the Law Covenant, which was typified by Hagar, the bondwoman.
A picture, a figure or a parable would have weight and value according to the character of the person who made the picture or the parable, and in proportion as it had intrinsic merit. A type would be beyond all this, in that it is very clearly defined and implies Divine foreknowledge and arrangement. God gives types. Men may give pictures, figures or parables.
Answer. – Our thought is that we should expect a type to be followed by its antitype; and we would rather look for it to follow immediately. For instance, after the type of the eating of the Passover lamb was recognized for the last time by Jehovah, it was followed immediately by the Antitype, Jesus, the Lamb of God, who was crucified on the very same date as the annual Passover Supper. The type of the bullock and the Lord's goat, offered as [R5967 : page 300] sin-offerings on the Jewish Day of Atonement, was followed at once by its antitype, as soon as the typical sacrifices were repudiated by the Father, when the Jewish House was left "desolate," just before Jesus' death. – Matthew 23:37,38; Luke 13:34,35.
Again, in thinking of Isaac as a type of Christ, we think of him as the typical heir to the Promise God made to his father Abraham. God declared to Abraham, "In thy Seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed." Isaac was the natural seed of Abraham according to this Promise; and Isaac continued down the Jewish Age in that he was represented in the children of Israel, his natural posterity. Thus he was the recognized seed of Abraham down to the time when Jesus became the Spiritual Seed. There the natural seed was cast off. The real Seed of Abraham, in whom the Promise centered, was not the natural seed, but the Spiritual Seed.
Jesus was not the antitypical Seed of Abraham when He was born into the world – not until He had been begotten of the Holy Spirit. Jesus began to be the antitype of Isaac at that time. Ever since Christ's spiritual birth on the Divine plane of being, the members of His Body have been in process of development. So this Spiritual Isaac began to fulfil the type as an antitype in the person of Jesus when He became the Spiritual Seed, and is continuing, in the persons of His Body members, to take the place of the type. Thus the type is merged into the antitype.
Answer. – The Apostle Paul explains in the case of Melchizedek that his priesthood had no beginning and no ending, the order of his priesthood was to be perpetuated; consequently his priesthood did not pass away until the antitypical Priesthood came. The Apostle particularly points out that he was without father or mother in the priesthood – "he abideth a priest continually," he continued a priest to the conclusion of the type in its antitype. He was a type of the greater Melchizedek, which is The Christ, Head and Body. Jesus was "made a High Priest forever [literally for the Age] after the order of Melchizedek." – Hebrews 6:20.
As for Adam, we are not sure that the Lord's Word speaks of him as a type. The Apostle does not contrast Adam and Jesus, but speaks of the first Adam and the Second Adam. Christ is very unlike Adam. Adam disobeyed God, while Christ was wholly obedient. Adam failed while Jesus succeeded. St. Paul says (1 Corinthians 15:47) that the Second Man is the Lord from Heaven. The first Adam continues to be the head of the human family. We still speak of him as Father Adam. The Second Adam will not begin His work until the Millennial Age, when He will become the second Father to the race, taking the place of the first Adam. He is not the Second Adam as yet. He is to be the Second Adam.
The various titles that belong to our Lord Jesus include that of The Everlasting Father. And the Everlasting Father will be the successor of Adam, who was only the temporary father of the race and who failed to give his posterity life. In due time the Second Adam will be the regenerator of the human family.
Question. – 1 Corinthians 10:11 reads, "Now all these things happened unto them [the Israelites] for types." (See marginal reading.) Please explain.
Answer. – We understand the Apostle's thought to be that all these things happened to this people as typical Israel. They were the types, and Spiritual Israel are the antitypes. They, the type, had these experiences; we have experiences to correspond. They, the type, did not pass away – that is, cease to be the type – until we, the spiritual antitype, began our career. When our career began, our antitypical experiences began. The whole nation of Israel was this type, with their experiences, testings, etc.
Answer. – The subject of giving life may be viewed from different standpoints. In a certain sense the mother as well as the father of a child is its life-giver – in the sense that the child could not have attained individual existence without the mother. And yet, strictly speaking, the father alone is the life-giver; for the life-germ comes from him.
So the Bible uses this natural illustration of an earthly father, or life-giver, to picture a great spiritual truth. The world is dead in Adam – under sentence of death. Jesus has laid down the Ransom-price which will offset that sentence. By virtue of so doing He will have the right, as soon as the merit of His sacrifice is applied for the world, to become the Life-giver of Adam and his race. The human life-rights which He will give will be those which He Himself laid down in death.
But as Jesus by the will of God has associated the Church with Himself, both in the sufferings of this present time and in the glory that is to follow, she will have to do with the giving of life to the world. Her work is illustrated in Mother Eve and in womankind in general. It will be the work of the Church to nourish the world of mankind – to nourish the spark of life which they will receive from the Redeemer. Under this nourishment and care, as many of the world as will cooperate will rise up out of sin and death conditions to perfection.
Thus the Bride of Christ will have to do with the life-giving, but merely as the associates of the great Life-giver. The Ransomer, Jesus, alone is the One who can dispense His own life-rights. And Jesus Himself said, "All that are in the graves shall hear the voice of the Son of God and shall come forth." (John 5:25,29.) Any work which the glorified Church may do in connection with the restoration of the world will be as His assistants.
How beautiful and poetical is the thought here expressed! It is a compliment to both the Apostle as the Lord's faithful servant, and also to the Lord's people at Corinth. It is in line with the Apostle's statement elsewhere, "We are God's workmanship." (Ephesians 2:10.) Wherever there is a true Christian – not merely spirit-begotten, but spirit-developed in the character-likeness of the Savior in meekness, gentleness, patience, long-suffering, brotherly-kindness and love – we have the evidence of the power of God at work in him to will and to do His good-pleasure, not arbitrarily, but in cooperation with the will of the individual. And wherever there is a Church, an Ecclesia, a class of Bible students who show these evidences of the Lord's Holy Spirit working in them and developing them, we have the Epistle of Christ, declaring and showing forth the praises of Him who called them out of darkness into His marvelous light.
In the context, the Apostle gives the same thought in words a little different, declaring the Lord's true people to be living epistles, "known and read of all men." (2 Corinthians 3:2.) Bibles are invaluable, indispensable. So are books that are really helpful in Biblical interpretation; so are hymn books and tracts. All of these show forth the Lord's praises, and assist in pointing in the right direction those of the world who are feeling after God if haply they might find Him. But the best Epistle – even more valuable than the Bible, as respects reaching the hearts of men – is the life of a true Christian, a New Creature in Christ Jesus, to whom old things are passed away, and all things are become new." – 2 Cor. 5:17.
And yet, in a previous letter from St. Paul this same Church at Corinth was criticized sharply because of its carelessness as respects proper standards of morality. The Apostle assures us, however, that his words of reproof did much good, working in the Church a repentance toward God, and proved to be of lasting benefit to them. Thus in God's providence, He overruled for their good a mistake made by these followers of the Master, by using a faithful and courageous Apostle, who gave the proper rebuke in a proper, loving manner.
What is by inspiration thus declared of the Church at Corinth, we see to be true also respecting the Lord's people today; and we may suppose that it has not been without faithful witnesses, living epistles, throughout the Gospel Age. We are especially interested, however, in conditions today. The Editor and all of the Pilgrims and the Elder Brethren in the Church have in St. Paul a noble example of faithfulness and loyalty. He did not preach himself; he did not preach enticing words [R5968 : page 301] of men's wisdom and science, falsely so called. (1 Corinthians 2:1-5; 1 Timothy 6:20.) Giving himself up to the Lord's service, and seeking not his own glory, but to do the Lord's will, the Apostle became more and more an able and qualified minister, or servant, of the Lord. The Lord used him more and more in the presentation of the glorious Message of God's Love, as revealed in the great Divine Plan of the Ages.
St. Paul's faithfulness is manifest to us in the words, "This one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before [in the promises of God's Word], I press toward the mark for the Prize of the High Calling of God in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:13,14.) That was the secret of the Apostle's power. That is the reason why the Lord, by His Holy Spirit, has used him so much and so efficiently in the blessing of the Church since that time – through the streams of Truth which have come down through his Epistles.
What a zeal the Apostle had! Hearken to his words, "Woe is unto me, if I preach not the Gospel!" (1 Cor. 9:16.) This does not signify that the Gospel was preached for fear of being tormented after he would die, but that he felt that he could not be satisfied except when doing all in his power to make known to all who have the "hearing ear" the Message of God's grace centered in Christ Jesus. Thus it was when he was giving his time exclusively to preaching. Thus it was when he was obliged for a time to be a tent-maker to support himself – while preaching evenings, holidays, and at his work. Thus it was that he preached with special liberties while still a prisoner at Rome. Anyhow, anywhere, under God's providence, St. Paul was ready and glad to preach the "good tidings" to all who had hearing ears.
This should be the spirit, not only of the Pilgrims, of the Elders of the Church of Christ, but the spirit of every member of it; for in a large sense each one of us is privileged to be a minister, or servant, in writing the Message of God's grace in the hearts of others.
But let us not forget that we shall not know how to write in the hearts of others what we have not already had written in our own hearts. Hence the propriety of great caution in the choosing of Elders – to find those who already have the writing of the Lord in their hearts, and who therefore will be competent assistants, under the Holy Spirit's guidance, for the writing of the Lord's character-likeness in the hearts of the younger brethren.
And what is the Message, what is the Epistle, that is written in our hearts by the Holy Spirit through various agencies? Is it the knowledge of chronology? Is it the unraveling of types and shadows? Is it the cracking of hard theological nuts in respect to differently understood passages of Scripture? Is it the knowledge of the history of the Jews, the history of the world, the history of the Church? Is it the understanding and appreciation of the different Covenants, past, present, and to come? No, it is none of these.
All of these subjects have more or less of value, and are more or less used of the Lord in connection with this writing that is to be done in the hearts of His people. But writing the Epistle of Christ is different – the writing, the tracing of the character-likeness of the Master in the hearts of His people – His meekness, His gentleness, His patience, His long-suffering, His brotherly-kindness, His love, His joy, His peace.
We might have all knowledge respecting chronology and history, might be able to quote every text in the Bible, and to cite it, too; and yet not have the Epistle of Christ written in our hearts. It is the Epistle of which the Apostle Peter says, "For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren [idle, inactive] nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ"; for knowledge will have its place. [R5968 : page 302] And thus with these characteristics of the Master deeply engraved upon our hearts, we shall be granted an abundant entrance "into the everlasting Kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ." – 2 Peter 1:8,11.
The three great lessons which will be required of those who will be heirs of the Kingdom are: (1) A proper, thorough appreciation of JUSTICE, and a manifestation of that appreciation of justice by an endeavor to comply with the requirements of the Golden Rule – to love our neighbor as ourselves. (2) A further lesson is that of LOVE, sympathy, compassion, mercy. However exacting we may be respecting ourselves, our own thoughts, words and deeds, we are not to exact from others, but be willing to take from them whatever they are pleased to give – as did our Savior. This will mean (3), suffering with Christ, having fellowship in His sufferings. It will mean the learning of valuable lessons to fit and qualify us for the work of being kings, priests and judges with our Lord in His coming Kingdom.
St. Paul emphasized the importance of having the Christ-character engraved on our hearts when he wrote that God's predestination is that all who will be of the Church in glory must be copies of His dear Son – must have the Epistle of Christ written in their hearts. (Romans 8:28-30.) No matter how imperfect their bodies, how imperfect their attainment of their ideals, those ideals must be according to the Divine standard. And they must be so in sympathy with those ideals as to be glad to suffer for their attainment.
The little group that was privileged to operate the DRAMA in this faraway corner of the Harvest field are very desirous that you know of their keen appreciation of the privilege they have enjoyed, and that you know some of the details of their experiences in the service.
Under the Lord's providence circumstances favored our getting British Theater in St. Johns on very reasonable terms, but the refusal of the first newspaper man we approached to accept even a paid advertisement did not look very promising; house-to-house distribution on a limited scale and window cards were all the advertising we had. Moreover, this newspaper man told us he might, instead, feel called upon to warn the people. We were pleased to find in the morning no criticism in his journal.
The President of the Red Cross Society had a proposition that interested us greatly. She wondered if it would be possible for us to release the Theater one evening for a patriotic lecture by a wounded soldier returned from the front. Could we have had a more marked providence while a suspicion of German sympathies was hanging over us? Two advertisements in evening newspapers were supplemented by a very nice acknowledgment by the Red Cross in all four of the evening papers, and next morning in the journal which had refused us. In the evening we turned away a lot of people – 725 present, seating capacity 620. The third evening we turned away nearly 500. Attendance during the fourteen evening meetings was 7,795 – average, 557; at the fifteen afternoon showings, 3,030 – average, 202. A fine impression was made, and finale brought 240 cards. We could not have hoped for such results from any human standpoint. Other difficulties than those mentioned were overcome by the Lord.
Following right after the close of the St. Johns service came an anonymous letter in the opposing journal, suggesting that our service was possibly paid for at Potsdam; this was supplemented with an editorial item. While it sounded foolish to those who had seen the DRAMA, his paper carries prestige and the German suspicion pursued us everywhere, especially at our next opening, in Carbonear; but everywhere we turned away crowds, who realized the malice of the charge.
At Belle Island we showed in the Armory of the Church Lads' Brigade (Episcopal), the Salvation Army cooperating in supplying chairs. Both the Episcopal minister and a Salvation Army ensign attended two of the sessions, with keen appreciation. Pleasant interviews followed with both. Brother Samuel Baker who has been doing splendid work with picture machine, secured the favorable arrangement there.
Because of the large number of dear friends in almost all sections of the American and Canadian fields who cooperated financially and otherwise in giving this witness in Newfoundland, few of whom we can reach personally, we are wondering if you might find it possible to get into THE WATCH TOWER a few fragments of this letter, that they may know we are carrying in our minds and hearts the remembrance of their labor of love, and that they may know a little of God's loving care over us and for His work. The ministry of our dear Brother MacMillan brought us much blessing and added much to the effectiveness of the DRAMA witness. [R5969 : page 302]
And now, dear Brother, we wish unitedly to express our appreciation of your untiring efforts in connection with the witness given in Newfoundland; also our love for you and for all the dear ones of the Bethel family.
Your brother by the Lord's great favor,
Greetings! I feel called upon to write you at this time just to assure you of our continued love and gratitude, and this is especially brought forth by the renewed attacks on the Truth and its Teacher. To me these attacks always show up the Truth, as such, to greater advantage.
You may be interested in reading one of the latest attacks by a prominent English clergyman. The Lord's Spirit is nowhere manifest in it; but if it has done no one else good, it has me; for it has done much to strengthen me in love for our Teacher and His teachings. "Spiritual wickedness in high places," indeed, is made manifest, and we are shown the need of a "new heavens." You no doubt have many letters telling you of the blessings which writers have received through the STUDIES, and it is my privilege to add to them. For eighteen months my life has flowed in a channel of unceasing blessing and increasing light, joy and peace.
All my life has been a great, big Query: Why this? Why that? (And I am past forty years.) Now all my childhood and adult queries are answered. I comprehend it all now – the past, the future and the present. The "whys" are all explained – Why do men fight and kill? Why is sin in the world? If God hardened Pharaoh's heart, why do we blame Pharaoh? These and hundreds of others all find a complete answer in your books. Again, I love the Word today and it is the greatest blessing to me – a living Book. I am so thankful that the dear Father has permitted the scales to fall from my eyes (so unworthy as I know myself to be) – blessed are my eyes for they see!
Each day seems to bring a Scripture truth with force, and I pass it on. I rejoice at all God sends me, and the tight corners only glorify Him all the more; for when I am weakest, God's strength is made manifest. He calls us today for a firm faith at all costs, and I want to trust Him in the face of apparent impossibilities. Please send on THE TOWER.
I am resigning my membership of the Society of Friends; and the only regret is that it will be a grief to my dear husband; but it may be a disguised blessing to him. We are all in God's keeping, "whose we are and whom we serve," and nothing happens to us by chance. We first see the Lord's hand in everything and therefore in everything give thanks. As a result there is continuous joy and peace in believing; and in all these persecutions (of which I claim a share and deem it a privilege so to do) I rejoice, too; for we are thus persecuted for Truth's sake. The Lord is all powerful and can use these attacks to glorify Himself and His Word, and this is being done. Praise Him! So, Brother, we await His orders; ready to go, ready to stay, ready His will to obey.
My only apology for not writing to you before is a feeling of my unworthiness of being associated with the I.B.S.A. The Truth came to me as favor upon favor, flowing through and overflowing this leaky earthen vessel, made fit for the Master's use through His precious blood.
I am now reading the volumes for the seventh time and they are precious to me, as they are truly an unfolding of God's Plan of Redemption, without adding to or taking from His Word. I always preferred to know the Bible doctrine rather than the commandments of men, yet to show me my own weakness God permitted me to burn my first set of STUDIES IN THE SCRIPTURES, at a minister's bidding. Nevertheless, it was about that time that I began to see the difference between a Christian and a good citizen. After thirty years of drilling in Babylon I understood not the meaning of "the fruit of the Spirit"!
I here extend my whole-hearted thanks to you, dear Brother, for the assistance you have given me, enabling me to enter "the valley of blessing, so sweet." I also thank the co-laborers at the Tabernacle and Bethel Home through you, praying for you and all the "jewels" everywhere.
Yours in the Master's service,
Reading Jeremiah 51:44-46 recently, it impressed me as possibly applying to the present, v. 46 measuring the limit of the present war – two years: "A rumor shall come in one year, and after that in another [a second] year shall come a rumor."
Isaiah 8:9-14 seemingly indicates a season of comparative quiet after the nations have assembled themselves and been broken in pieces and the making of the Confederacy – v. 12. Thus the ending of the war, say some time this year, might bring something like an armistice, during which the Federation would come into full life and do some of its work; when the "Earthquake," running quickly into the "fire," would cause great Babylon to be cast like a millstone into the sea. – Rev. 18.
I send this on under St. Paul's counsel in Galatians 6:6, thinking this may be of some good.
Yours in the Redeemer,
How wonderfully your interpretation of the Scriptures is being proved correct! The Adversary, in his latest effort here in Ontario, has only strengthened our faith. Truly, we are still in the enemy's country!
However, we have the Word of the Lord that no weapon that is formed against us shall prosper, but that even "the wrath of men shall praise Him." The Apostle declares that present sufferings are non-comparable to the future Glory of the Kingdom.
I shall sit with you in the Tower and watch the outcome of the recent episode in Ontario. Some of the worldly, since this episode, are doing some reasoning as to the moral law and its bearing on the war. May the Lord grant you continued wisdom at this time!
Your brother in Christ,
About a year ago I wrote asking if you would consider it proper to buy the STUDIES IN THE SCRIPTURES with my tithe-money. Receiving an affirmative answer I secured the complete set of STUDIES. I had read them almost through before I had opportunity to meet with a Class, as I have done since we came to this place.
I had not read far until I began to feel like a prisoner set free, though I never before realized I was a prisoner. Whenever I study I seem to learn a new point and can feel another shackle loosed; but I still have some points of early training to overcome.
My husband, son and daughter did not seem to get the Truth from reading the books as I did, but since our residence here they attend the Class and want the Truth as much as I. My husband and I have been Christians from youth and consecrated while in the Methodist denomination. I wish to symbolize my consecration at the first opportunity and am quite confident my entire family will wish to do so. We feel that you will approve of this, but would like to have your advice regarding the children, as they seem young for such a step, although manifesting interest as above described.
Yours in Christ,
For a long time I have wished to write you of the wonderful blessings that have been mine since finding the Truth. Shortly after coming into the Truth my brother, who had just joined the Baptist church, became interested and came right along with me. He sent his letter of withdrawal, which caused quite a stir in the church above mentioned.
A dear girl – junior in our Normal school – is coming into the Truth. She was offered a position as teacher, but the Board would not even consider her if she was one of us. She says she will plainly tell them that she will not submit to the "Beast" and accept his "mark" just to get a position; that her bread and water are promised her!
Your sister in Him,
"Blessed are the people that know the joyful sound; they shall walk, O Lord, in the light of Thy countenance." (Psalm 89:15.) How thankful I am to the Lord for so much goodness from Him! I am no more at Monheim, but at Dortmund since January 29th. Think of my joy! The Lord has permitted me to be His witness, guided by the writings of our dear Brother and Pastor Russell. We are now sixty-four Bible Students in our camp, and my heart rises to God in thanksgivings.
Many loving greetings to the dear brethren and sisters.
Of late I have used an EUREKA DRAMA in about thirty-five of the best homes – in some of these three times – with a full house. The Baptist preacher, who did his best two years ago to kill the work of the Truth here, seems now to feel kindly towards me, as I have always tried to show I feel towards him.
There are about twenty full sets of the STUDIES in the families here, and during the last two years I loaned about 100 copies of Vol. 1 in magazine form. A brother who has come into the Truth within the past eighteen months has been a true yoke-fellow, and we have visited other towns in the vicinity with the EUREKA DRAMA.
Ever yours in the Truth,
|VOL. XXXVII||OCTOBER 15||No. 20|
|Prices on All Books Advanced||306|
|What We Preach and Teach||307|
|Not Higher Criticism Nor Evolution||307|
|Scriptural Terms and Ordination||308|
|How Errors of the Past Crept In||308|
|All Needed Bible Helps Now Available||309|
|The Ransom Not the Sin-Offering||310|
|Why a Ransom Was Necessary||310|
|The Philosophy of the Ransom||310|
|"Suffer the Word of Exhortation"||312|
|"Straight Paths for Your Feet"||313|
|A Vow Unto the Lord||314|
|From Malta to Rome||314|
|Why the Gospel Is Rejected||316|
|A Living Sacrifice||316|
|True Christian Living||317|
|Los Angeles, Seattle, Milwaukee Conventions||318|
|Fiery Trials in Britain Easing||319|
Foreign Agencies: – British Branch: LONDON TABERNACLE, Lancaster Gate, London, W. German Branch: Unterdorner Str., 76, Barmen. Australasian Branch: Flinders Building, Flinders St., Melbourne. Please address the SOCIETY in every case.
Terms to the Lord's Poor as Follows: – All Bible Students who, by reason of old age, or other infirmity or adversity, are unable to pay for this Journal, will be supplied Free if they send a Postal Card each May stating their case and requesting its continuance. We are not only willing, but anxious, that all such be on our list continually and in touch with the STUDIES, etc.
With the phenomenal rise in the cost of paper, ink, cloth, leather and labor, the advance in prices on all kinds of books becomes a necessity. Hoping that the advance would be only a temporary one, we have delayed making any change until we are now losing as much as 10 cents per copy on some of the volumes of STUDIES IN THE SCRIPTURES. Hereafter the price of the first three volumes of STUDIES will be 50c each, including postage, and the price of volumes 4, 5, and 6 will be 60c each, including postage.
Hereafter the prices on these books will be as follows:
Paper edition, prepaid, 25c. Cloth edition, prepaid, 65c. De Luxe Gilt Edge edition, prepaid, $1.00.
Cloth-bound edition, prepaid, 60c. Leather edition, De Luxe, prepaid, $2.00.
Chart of the Ages (8 ft.), $2.50 each, postpaid.
Chart of the Ages (5 ft.), $1.85 each, postpaid.
Chronology Charts (7 ½ ft.), $2.00 each, postpaid.
Tabernacle Charts (7 ½ ft.), $2.00 each, postpaid.
WATCH TOWER Binders (spring-back), 60c. each, postpaid.
WATCH TOWER Bibles are not advanced, as we have a good supply at old cost.
Week of Nov. 5. Q. 15 to 20 Week of Nov. 19. Q. 27 to 33 Week of Nov. 12. Q. 21 to 26 Week of Nov. 26. Q. 1 to 7Question Manuals on Vol. III., STUDIES IN THE SCRIPTURES, 7c each.
"For I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and Him crucified." – 1 Corinthians 2:2.
We beseech you, brethren, as you value the glorious hope set before you in the Gospel, that you give no heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils, as the Apostle terms them (1 Timothy 4:1); but that, with fixedness of purpose, you apply yourselves to the one thing to which you are called and are privileged to do as prospective members of that Royal Priesthood. Let us never forget that we are a "peculiar people," separate from the great body of nominal Christians, as well as from the world, having higher hopes, aims and ambitions and favored with a clearer insight into the deep things of God, having been called out of our former darkness into His marvelous light. And if thus separate from the world and from Christians who partake largely of the spirit of the world, what wonder if we find them all out of harmony with us, and either ignoring or opposing us!
Such opposition is to be expected and will, doubtless, continue until we finish our course in death. To submit patiently to this opposition is to sacrifice our own natural preferences for the friendship and the pleasures of the present life, and to endure hardness as good soldiers for the Truth's sake, in whatever shape that hardness may come, in our effort to do the Lord's will and work of advancing the interests of His Kingdom. This is what is meant by the presenting of our bodies living sacrifices in the Divine service. To be really in this service involves, First, the careful and continual study of God's Plan; Second, the imbibing of its spirit; leading, Thirdly, to an enthusiastic zeal for its accomplishment, and to activity to the extent of ability in its service, at whatever cost or sacrifice it may require.
If we are faithful in this service we have no time, nor have we the disposition, to give heed either to false doctrines or to other themes which have no bearing on the one thing to which we have solemnly dedicated our lives. Our time is not our own if we have dedicated all to God; and consequently, we have none to spare for the investigation of fanciful false theories, built upon other foundations than that laid down in the Scriptures. Neither have we time to devote to the ideas and pursuits which engross the world's attention, many of which are harmless in themselves, but would be harmful to us if we were to allow them to occupy consecrated time and divert our attention from the one thing we ought to be doing. The Apostle warns us to "shun profane babblings, for they will increase unto more ungodliness"; but adds, "Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of Truth." "Teach no other doctrine; neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions rather than godly edifying which is in faith." – 2 Timothy 2:15,16; 1 Timothy 1:3,4.
Ours is not the gospel of the Higher Critics and Evolutionists. We cheerfully accord these friends of a modern gospel their liberty to believe as they think proper, reminding them, however, of the warning words of the Apostle Paul in Galatians 1:6-9. Our own faith is firmly planted on the Bible as the only Divine Revelation of the will and Plan of our Creator. But this does not mean that we believe the Bible to teach all that our well-meaning forefathers of the Dark Ages supposed were its doctrines. We find that they burned one another at the stake for disbelieving things that the Bible does not teach.
The growing scepticism of today regarding God and the Bible, we find, is generally the outgrowth of a misunderstanding of the Bible's teaching respecting Hell. No sane man can be blamed for rejecting the old theory that God first made a roasting Hell, and then made a race, knowing that all would spend an awful eternity there, except the few who would hear of Christ and become saints. This blasphemy against our Creator's holy name needs to be rebuked. The people need to be taught what the educated clergy and laity already know – that the only Hebrew word translated "hell" is SHEOL, and that [R5970 : page 308] its Greek equivalent is HADES, and that neither word signifies a place of torment, but the tomb, the grave, the state of unconsciousness, in which both good and bad must remain after death until the resurrection, which is to follow the Second Coming of the Redeemer.
The literature of the WATCH TOWER BIBLE AND TRACT SOCIETY has helped thousands along this line, as we go into details of explanation of the parables, dark sayings and symbolisms of the Bible, which other Bible teachers do not find time for, with their many and varied cares connected with modern church activity. In a word, the work of our Society is conducted on the belief that the Bible is Divinely inspired, and that we are now living in the wonderful Day, mentioned by the Prophets, when "the wise shall understand," when they shall receive "meat in due season" from God's wonderful Book. By the "wise" we mean, of course, those who are wise toward God, not the worldly-wise.
If our understanding of the Bible's teaching is correct, we are on the threshold of the Millennium. And this fact explains not only the progress of invention and natural science, but also the finishing of the Mystery respecting God's gracious purposes for our race, foretold in the Bible in symbols and types. However, our expectations of the Millennium are along different lines than some might suppose. We find no Scriptures to teach that the world will be converted by our commendable missionary efforts or any other efforts. To us the Bible teaches that the conversion of the world will follow the Second Advent of our Redeemer to gather His Elect Church (the saints out of all denominations), that they, changed to the spirit nature, may be, under their Lord and Head, the teachers, guides and helpers of the remainder of the race – those now dead as well as the living nations – to uplift all the willing and obedient from sin and death to perfection and everlasting life on earth, which will then, during those Times of Restitution, become Paradise restored.
Statistics agree that the Millennium is not coming by the conversion of the heathen; for there are twice as many today as there were a century ago, notwithstanding all our missionary efforts. On the contrary, we must agree that the signs of the times presage the near approach of the culmination of the great "Time of Trouble such as never was since there was a nation," by which, the Scriptures assure us, Messiah's Kingdom will be ushered in, to "bless all the families of the earth."
Perhaps we should explain that we do not recognize as Biblical the terms "clergy" and "laity," nor the titles "Reverend," "Doctor of Divinity," and other similar appellations now in vogue. This, however, does not lead us to disfellowship those who differ from us. We use the Scriptural terms "Pastor," "Evangelist," "Teacher," "Elder," "Deacon," etc., and recognize that all of God's consecrated people are ministers – that is, servants – each authorized to serve his brethren as his talent may permit and as the brethren may desire. As for ordination, we cannot accept as Scriptural the theory of the "Apostolic Succession," and that the specific power or authority comes from men to men. We hold that the anointing of the Holy Spirit alone gives the power and the authority to understand and explain the Scriptures.
The Editor is being attacked at present by about one-fourth of all the ministers of the world, simply because we preach the Bible Message voiced by the angel at the birth of Jesus: "Behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be unto ALL PEOPLE!" (Luke 2:10,11.) That good Message of God's Love and of His merciful provision in Jesus' death for the sins of the whole world began to be lost sight of in the close of the second century. The doctrine of "Apostolic Succession" led the people of that time to respect the bishops as successors to the Divinely-ordained Twelve – St. Paul, and not Matthias, taking the place of Judas.
It is not to be wondered at, that at a time when ability to read was not general, when Bibles were few and expensive, and when this doctrine of Apostolic Succession [R5971 : page 308] had gotten a foothold in the Church, the people hearkened to the so-called Apostolic Bishops. It is not wonderful that those bishops liked to be considered authorities. For fourteen centuries there was no Bible Study – merely a study and worship of creeds. Bibles were publicly burned, and those who dared to study the Bible and accept its statements were hunted like the wild beasts of the forest – even in Scotland.
The Reformation Movement brought the Bible forward, but its friends had much of the smoke of the Dark Ages still in the eyes of their understanding. As one leader after another prayed, "Lead, kindly light, amidst the encircling gloom," and rubbed his eyes, new sects were started, all endeavoring to reach the light, yet all acknowledging that the creeds, for which many of them died, were not satisfactory to either their hearts or their heads.
Now we have come to a time when the various divisions of God's people have too much enlightenment to burn each other at the stake, and when they are disposed to federate, and to ignore their differences. Meantime, Higher Criticism has come in and has turned a majority of Christian preachers away from the Bible entirely. But they are still tied to their sects and to the creeds which they no longer believe.
Meantime, in God's providence, the Bible has come into the hands of the people. Education is now general, and Bible helps are abundant. This seems to be, according to the Bible and facts, a favored time for God's people to obtain proper knowledge of His Word. With others, the Editor has been greatly blessed in studying the Bible and in making clear to others its true meaning. We have been doing this for the past forty years without serious objection, until recent years. The objection now is that the teaching of ourself and our associates of the INTERNATIONAL BIBLE STUDENTS ASSOCIATION is beginning to exercise a world-wide influence. We have Bible Study Helps printed in thirty-two different languages. We have Bible Study Classes in all parts of the earth. This leads some of the ministers to consider our work a menace – just as the Episcopalians once thought the Presbyterians and the Methodists a menace, as the Jews thought the early Christians a menace to their institutions, and just as the Baptists thought others a menace to them, etc.
As we make clear the meaning of our Lord's parables and dark sayings, and show the harmony of the Bible's teaching from Genesis to Revelation, the creeds of the Dark Ages become unpalatable, nauseating. As some of the best people renounce these creeds, the class of preachers alluded to become bitter. Unable to meet our Scriptural arguments, they indulge in personal abuse and invective, with a view to hindering people from hearing us and from reading our publications. But nevertheless the work goes grandly on, with increasing momentum. Those who get their eyes of understanding open are prompt to help others. As the people learn the real motives of the attacks which are being made upon us, they have less sympathy [R5971 : page 309] for those making the attacks, and are more disposed to investigate our teachings.
We have never claimed to be a finished scholar in either Greek or Hebrew. More than this, we claim that not one minister in a thousand, of any denomination, is a scholar in these languages. The ability to read the Greek and Hebrew alphabets, and to spell out the words in these languages, is not scholarship; nor does it follow that the person able to do so has thereby any knowledge of these languages. By scholarship we mean thorough understanding of the grammatical construction of a language.
Furthermore, we claim that in God's providence such knowledge is not necessary to the right understanding of the Word of God. Bible students today have access to numerous translations of the Bible made by the scholarly few. More than this, the Presbyterians have Young's Greek, Hebrew and English Lexicon-Concordance; the Methodists have Strong's Analytical Greek, Hebrew, Chaldaic and English Lexicon-Concordance. Besides these, there is the Englishman's unsectarian work, covering the same ground; Liddell and Scott's Greek-English Lexicon, McClintock and Strong's Criticisms, the Emphatic Diaglott, which has the original Greek text with interlineary word for word English translation, and parallel emphatic version in English, etc.
The value of such concordances as an aid to the correct understanding of the Scriptures cannot be over-estimated. In the preface to "Young's Analytical Concordance," the author says of his work: "Its great object, as Tyndale says of his New Testament, is to enable every 'PLOUGH-BOY' to know more of the Scriptures than the 'ancients,' by enabling him at a glance to find out THREE DISTINCT POINTS – First, What is the original Hebrew or Greek of any ordinary word in his English Bible; Second, What is the Literal and primitive meaning of every original word: and Third, What are thoroughly true and reliable parallel passages."
Whoever has these works in his possession, and knows how to use them, and does use them, has a better working knowledge of the Hebrew, Greek and Chaldaic of the original Bible than could be gained by four years' study of these languages. We possess these books and many others, and have learned how to use them effectively. As a result, we have better knowledge of the Bible in its original languages than have nine-tenths of the ministers who have taken merely a four-year theological course. We advise all Bible students to use these wonderful helps of our day, which represent the highest scholarship, rather than to waste their time spelling out the words in the original languages, the meaning and the grammatical value of which are appreciated by only about one in a thousand. We are glad to say that thousands of Bible Students habitually use Young's and Strong's Concordances, besides numerous versions of the Scriptures, such as Young's Translation, The Variorium, Leeser's (Jewish) translation, and of the New Testament, Tischendorf, the Syriac, Rotherham, Emphatic Diaglott, etc., etc.
As for ordination: However ignorant the public may be in regard to this matter, we can but suppose that ministers and editors of religious papers are well-informed. These all know that the word "ordination" simply signifies authorization. Thus the Baptists authorize, or ordain, their ministers; the Methodists authorize, or ordain, theirs, etc. There is no such thing amongst Christian people as a general ordination. On the contrary, Catholics dispute all ordinations except their own and denounce all Protestant ministers as unordained. The Anglican Church similarly refuses to recognize the ordination of those whom they term non-conformists.
As God has but one Church, so He has but one ordination for all who are His ministers. The one Church of God includes the saintly Christians of all denominations, and the God-ordained ministry consists of those only who have received the Divine benediction – the begetting of the Holy Spirit. Jesus is the Head, or Chief, of this Church. He is its Chief Minister. His ordination took place at the time of His consecration and baptism in Jordan, when He was thirty years of age, under the limitations of the Mosaic Law. All coming into membership in Him and receiving the begetting of the Holy Spirit share in His ordination. The Master declared, "As the Father hath sent Me, even so have I sent you." – John 20:21.
This commission is referred to in prophecy, The Christ, Head and Body, being the Speaker: "The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon Me; because the LORD hath anointed Me to preach good tidings unto the meek; He hath sent Me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; to proclaim the acceptable Year of the Lord, and the Day of Vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; to appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning; the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He might be glorified." – Isaiah 61:1-3.
The Holy Spirit is symbolized by the oil poured upon the head of Aaron the high priest, of which we read that it ran down the skirts of His garment, even to its hem. This typified that the Holy Spirit, poured out upon our Head, Christ Jesus, has come down over the Church, His Body, during all these nineteen centuries, beginning at Pentecost – the anointing, ordaining, qualifying power of God on all His Royal Priesthood, authorizing them to declare the "Good Tidings of great joy, which shall be unto all people." And any who give evidence of possessing this anointing of the Holy Spirit, and who have the ability and the spiritual qualifications of character-development in the likeness of Christ, which are Scriptural requisites in teachers of the Church, may be chosen by the Ecclesias of the Lord's people to minister to them publicly, as their more special servants in spiritual things. But any one who has received the Spirit's anointing is Scripturally ordained to proclaim the Message of God according to his ability and opportunity, observing only the proprieties pointed out in the Word as to sex distinctions, etc., regarding public proclamation.
So then, adhering closely to the written Word of God in our teaching, and striving to follow faithfully in the footsteps of the Master in our daily walk and conversation, we pray with all saints: "Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth, as it is done in Heaven."
The word "ransom" in the Old Testament seems to be used less definitely than in the New Testament. In the Old Testament, the Hebrew word translated ransom is kopher, and signifies a covering, a protection, as when we read, "The wicked shall be a ransom for the righteous" (Proverbs 21:18) – their covering, their protection. The righteous are few and uninfluential in the world; and laws would not generally be made especially for their protection. The laws of society are made for the masses of the people – not for the saints; but those laws made for the people in general we – the Lord's saints – have as a covering.
The Prophet David declares that no man can give a ransom for his brother. (Psalm 49:7.) That is to say, all mankind are imperfect through the Adamic fall. All are sinners; therefore none could stand before God in the sense of justifying themselves; and thus unable to justify themselves, they would be wholly unable to justify another – their brother. Here the thought is very similar to that attaching to the word "ransom" in the New Testament, showing that to be such a ransom, or covering, requires perfection, righteousness, which no man of all our race possessed, except the Man Christ Jesus, "holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners," who was therefore able and qualified to give Himself "a Ransom for all, to be testified in due time." – 1 Timothy 2:6.
The word used in the New Testament Greek for "ransom" is very explicit; it signifies a price to correspond, or a corresponding price. The implication is that something was lost that needs to be re-purchased, redeemed, bought back; and the thing which is competent to purchase it back must be of equal value to the thing lost or forfeited – no more, no less – a "corresponding price."
The thing that was lost by Father Adam for himself and all of his family was the right to life. As the perfect man, God's arrangement provided him with the privilege of living forever on condition that he would be obedient, loyal to his Creator. His sin was disloyalty, disobedience, and its penalty was death – the forfeiture of the right to live. Thus, because of Adam's disobedience, he came under the death sentence, "Dying, thou shalt die." (Genesis 2:17, margin.) Adam's children were born to him after he had thus forfeited his life-rights, and he was unable to give them more than he possessed – a dying nature. Thus we read: "Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin, and so death passed upon all, for that all have sinned, etc. – Rom. 5:12.
God reveals to us in His Word that while He wishes to be merciful and to receive back to Himself all the willing and obedient of the race, nevertheless He must maintain the dignity of His own Law and cannot set aside the death sentence except upon the conditions which He has arranged; viz., a Ransom. If Adam is ransomed from the sentence of death, Justice will have no further claim against his life, and the ransomer would have the right to restore Adam and his race. But no ransomer could be found amongst all the family of men; for all were sinners – none was perfect, all had inherited the blemishes of sin. Hence God's arrangement – the sending of His Only Begotten Son to be the Redeemer, the Ransomer, of Adam and his family, and ultimately to be the Restorer of all that was lost.
To this service – to this carrying out of the Divine Program – God attached a very great reward of glory, honor and immortality. The Logos, "The beginning of the creation of God," "the first born of every creature" (Revelation 3:14; Colossians 1:15), accepted the Divine arrangement gladly and humbled Himself. Leaving the honors and favors of His high position on the spirit plane, He was made flesh in order "that He by the grace of God, should taste death for every man" (Hebrews 2:9) as the Ransomer of Adam. St. Paul tells us of Him as the One "who for the joy that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising the shame," and now as a result, "is set down at the right hand of the Throne of God" (Hebrews 12:2), henceforth expecting, waiting, until the time shall come for Him to bless Adam and his race for whom He has already died – waiting that the Father in due time, after the selection of the Bride Class, may put all things in subjection under Him – under the Messiah – that He may reign a thousand years for the uplifting and blessing of those for whom He died.
As the sinner was the perfect man, Adam – in full harmony and fellowship with God and only a little lower than the angels and crowned with glory and honor as a perfect human being – so the one who would redeem him, or be his ransomer, must have all these qualifications. He must be a man, and a perfect man; in him God's image and likeness must be complete; he must be crowned with the glory and honor of perfection; he must be "holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners" and in full fellowship with God.
All these requirements were fully met in the Man Christ Jesus when He was thirty years of age, at which time He presented Himself at Jordan to complete and confirm His consecration unto death, giving Himself a Ransom-price for all the race, to be testified to them all in due time. As a bullock could never take away sin by its death, neither could an angel or other spirit being ever take away sin by dying for Adam. Under the Divine arrangement, the Redeemer must be a corresponding-price to the one redeemed. Jesus was all this; nothing more was either necessary or possible. There was nothing lacking in the merit of the perfect Man to redeem the first man and his family; nothing therefore that the Church could give or do that would help in the matter. Justice could accept only the corresponding price.
That Ransom-price, that Corresponding-price for Adam, has already been placed in the hands of Justice. Jesus did this in His consecration at Jordan, in that He agreed to do the will of the Father even unto death; and on the Cross He declared, "Into Thy hands I commit My spirit" – the spirit of life, His right to life, which He had not forfeited, either by sin or otherwise. That Ransom-price, or Price sufficient to redeem Adam and all of his race, has been in the hands of Justice as a deposit ever since, and is there now – still unapplied. It cannot be applied piecemeal, a little to each one; when applied, it must be applied for all at the same moment.
Why must it be applied all at one moment? Because it is just the one life. It would require the entire merit of Christ's sacrifice to recover Father Adam from his condemnation, and it would require the entire merit of that sacrifice for any one of the children of Adam. The Ransom cannot be divided up into millions of parts and a little piece given to each member of the race. The whole sacrifice of Christ was necessary for each one of the race, and is sufficient for the entire race, when it shall be so applied. It is to be applied for the entire race, but not until the Father's time has come for turning over the [R5972 : page 311] race to the Redeemer – not until His appointed time for the Redeemer to take possession of the race as King of kings and Lord of lords, to establish over them His glorious Kingdom, to release them from the power of sin and death and to give them all the Restitution privileges which His Ransom-sacrifice makes possible.
In the meantime, another feature of the great Heavenly Father's Plan is working out – an arrangement by which a certain number of the children of Adam may become associates with Jesus in the suffering of this present time and in the glory that is to follow. This feature of the Plan is not the providing of a Ransom; for that was already provided in the death of Jesus; but this plan is to provide an under-priesthood who are eventually to be kings with the Savior – a Royal Priesthood. Evidently therefore the Sin-offering must not be confused with the Ransom-price; for the Ransom-price is complete, and was complete before the Church was invited to come into this position of self-sacrifice.
The Jewish Day of Atonement pictured the entire work and operation of the Sin-offering, which began in the person of Jesus. The death of Jesus was typified by the killing of the bullock on the Day of Atonement. That was the great sacrifice for sins – a Sin-offering which was made by Jesus, who offered up Himself. He was both the anointed Priest of God and also the devoted Sacrifice. The merit of that Sacrifice might have been applicable to all the people; but if so, there would have been no room for the sacrifice of the Lord's Goat Class, the sacrifices of the under-priests, who, if faithful, are by and by to be made the Royal Priesthood of the Millennium. In the type, the High Priest allows the merit of his sacrifice to be applied to himself and his house – himself representing the Church which is Christ's Body; his house representing the Household of Faith, the consecrated ones who will fail to become members of the Body of Christ and will instead be on the spirit plane, "a great multitude" who will serve God day and night in His Temple – in the Church glorified.
This passing of the merit of Jesus' Sacrifice, first of all, to and through His Church does not diminish the merit of that sacrifice nor its value, for every one who shares in that merit, participates on condition that he will surrender his earthly rights, following in the footsteps of Jesus. The priestly class includes those who keep their covenant arrangement, voluntarily and heartily lay down their lives in the Lord's service. The Great Company Class is composed of those who have failed to fully surrender
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their earthly lives and rights, and will therefore have these earthly rights taken from them through great tribulation. Any others who receive of the Lord's favor during this Age and fail to get into one or the other of those classes – if they fail to become members of either the Royal Priesthood or of the Levite-servant company – cannot retain any Restitution blessings or privileges, but will die the Second Death. Thus the entire merit of Jesus, designed for Adam and his race, merely passes through the Church Class, the consecrated ones, on its way to Adam and his race. The Church having the opportunity, by reason of this arrangement, to share with Jesus in suffering for righteousness' sake – the great High Priest accepts our consecrated beings and makes them part of His sacrifice, and the full measure of His merit as the Ransom-price passes on to humanity to give Adam and his family Restitution privileges for a thousand years.
These are the better sacrifices and offerings for sin not made by us, but made by the great High Priest whom the Father has appointed for the purpose. This great High Priest has been completing His sacrifice for sins; first His own flesh, and then the flesh of all those who have come unto the Father through Him during the past nineteen centuries. He will soon complete His sacrificial work, and glorify with Himself those who suffer with Him – making of them His consorts in His Messianic Kingdom. Then He will apply on behalf of all mankind the merit of the sacrifice which He finished at Calvary and which He has merely loaned or imputed to the Church during this Gospel Age.
This Sacrifice will be given fully, completely, everlastingly, to Justice, appropriated as the full offset of Original Sin. Forthwith Adam and all of his children will be turned over by Justice into the hands of Jesus. Divine Justice will have no more to do with mankind. All will be under the administration of the Millennial Kingdom. For a thousand years the Redeemer, the Ransomer of the race, will teach, reward, punish, deal with humanity for their instruction in righteousness and their uplift from the sin and death condition, giving to every one a full opportunity for returning to perfection.
At the close of the thousand years, Messiah having accomplished everything possible for every member of the race, will turn over all to the Father and will say to the sheep class, "Come, ye blessed of My Father, inherit the [earthly] kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world." (Matthew 25:34.) All others, found unworthy of everlasting life, will be destroyed in the Second Death, symbolically pictured as a devouring fire.
Thus we have striven to make plain the distinction between the Ransom-price and the application of the Ransom-price, and the Sin-offering and the blessings resulting to the Church from the privilege of participation in those sin-offerings – the sufferings of Christ.
Answer. – The person using this language might have the proper thought, but would not be using the best words in which to express that thought to avoid being misunderstood. As above shown, all the merit of Christ is necessary to each member of the race. If we divided up the merit of Christ, nobody would have enough. If it were all given to one, the others would get none. God's Plan, therefore, is to hold that Ransom-price in reserve until the due time for the inauguration of Messiah's Kingdom, and then apply that price and transfer the whole race at one time to Jesus – to the Messianic Kingdom. Then during the Millennium, it might be proper to say that every one will be receiving the Restitution blessings as his share or participation in the Ransom merit; but strictly speaking, the whole blessing of the whole world is the ransom blessing.
Question. – If the Ransom has not yet been applied, apportioned, credited, to the race on the Books of Justice, and if we who are of the Church are members of the world, how do we participate in the Ransom blessing?
Answer. – The entire Ransom merit being in the hands of Justice, the one who owns that merit, Jesus – in harmony with the Father's Plan – imputes it to the whole company who will accept the offer of this Gospel Age and surrender themselves sacrifices to walk in the Master's footprints. There is quite a difference between giving and imputing, just as there would be a difference between giving a man a thousand dollars and imputing to him a thousand dollars by endorsing his note. Jesus, as
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our great Advocate, imputes to us, or endorses us to the full extent of our contract with the Father. Our contract is that, like Jesus, we will surrender our earthly rights.
The Heavenly Father could not recognize us as worthy of entering into such a contract, except as our great Advocate endorses for us, or guarantees us, in the matter. What does He guarantee? He guarantees that we shall lay down our lives – that our earthly lives shall be fully surrendered in due time.
As we have seen, there are three classes for whom Jesus becomes Surety, Guarantor. First are those who fully and completely carry out their contract both in letter and spirit, laying down their lives voluntarily, after the Master's example. These will be the "more than conquerors," the members of the Body of the Anointed. Next will come the Great Company class, who will eventually be conquerors, but not "more than conquerors." Because conquerors, they will be granted everlasting life on the spirit plane; but because of lack of zeal and love, they will fail of the election as members of the Body of Christ.
Third, there are those who will be neither more than conquerors nor even conquerors, but failures – turning back to sin, like the sow to her wallowing in the mire. These will die the Second Death. In any event, our great Advocate, the High Priest, having endorsed for all of these, will thus be ultimately free from all liability for them in that they all will have died according to the flesh and none of them will receive or retain Restitution rights or privileges. Those Restitution blessings will be fully and completely released when the last member of the
Body of Christ Spirit-begotten shall have gone into death. [correction Nov. '16 - site Editor]
Answer. – No! This would be an impossible thought. The whole merit of Christ is mortgaged by the imputation which Jesus has made of His merit to the company consecrating during this Age. This mortgage must be released fully, completely, before the New Covenant can be sealed and put into operation for giving Restitution blessings to Adam and his race. Hence, we are not to expect any Restitution, either of the Ancient Worthies or others, until the Little Flock shall have passed beyond the Veil and the Great Company class shall have passed through its tribulation.
"Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice, and be ye kind one to another." – Ephesians 4:31,32.
St. Paul contrasts these fruits of the Adversary and of the fallen flesh with the precious fruits of the Spirit of God. The one Spirit is Heavenly, Godlike, while the other is "earthly, sensual, devilish." Faith, goodness, meekness, gentleness, patience, peace, self-control, love – these are the Heavenly fruits. They are the very opposite of the spirit of the Adversary. As we endeavor to do the will of God, to cultivate the sweet qualities of the Holy Spirit, we find continual warfare with the inherited weaknesses of our fallen flesh. Some may succeed in a comparatively short time in gaining to a large degree the victory over these works of the flesh and of the Wicked One, while others may have a great war to wage. But the victory over this evil disposition must be won; else we shall never be granted an entrance into the Kingdom. The Lord is watching to see the zeal and earnestness with which we strive to put off these works of the fallen flesh, these evil traits of character. Knowing our own natural weaknesses, each of us is so to watch and guard himself, so to cry unto the Lord for help, so to fill his heart and mind with the Word of the Lord, that he may be kept pure and free from the alloy of sin.
Coming to analyze the Apostle's exhortation of our text, it would seem as if he were mentioning one of the [R5974 : page 312] worst traits first – "all bitterness." Bitterness is an acrid condition, the very opposite of sweetness. It represents a rancor in the heart, and is very closely allied to the last trait mentioned – "malice." Maliciousness in the heart, leads one to malevolence, to seek to do injury to another. The spirit of bitterness and malice, granted an entrance into the heart, is very likely to extend to all the affairs of life and to make complete shipwreck of the New Creature. Its effect is most baneful. While it is possible for one to become angry, and to feel vengeful momentarily, without the feeling amounting to bitterness which would be lasting, without a development of malice, nevertheless, fleshly anger and wrath are sinful, dangerous and certain, if not conquered, to lead to bitterness and malice.
The Lord's Word admonishes us, "Let not the sun go down upon your wrath." No matter what provocation one may have had, he should see to it that the matter is settled as quickly as possible. Anger or wrath must not be harbored and cherished; for it is sure to lead to permanent bitterness and hatred. The word anger seems not to be so strong a word as wrath. Wrath in an imperfect, fallen being, seems to be deep, determined and lasting anger, something that is resentful, retaliatory. Evil speaking is a more refined, a more subtle matter, more deceitful, more malicious. Many people become so weak in character, so unbalanced, that they do not realize the proper application of the Golden Rule in their daily lives. They say things of others that they would not wish others to say of them. They treat others in a way that they would not wish to be treated. All such conduct should be put far away from the Lord's children, from those who have taken God's holy Covenant upon themselves and who profess to be God's ambassadors.
We are not saying that there is no such thing as righteous anger, righteous wrath. "God is angry with the wicked every day." Even now His righteous wrath is kindled against the nations of the earth, and He is smiting them to their final overthrow. If all anger is wrong, then God Himself would be guilty of sin. But God's wrath, His anger, is always of a proper kind. It is not fleshly anger or bitterness. God is angry with wickedness, [R5974 : page 313] and this anger signifies that He will punish it. The Scriptures, however, never refer to the Lord as being bitter or malicious. God is Love; He is patient and good, even to the wicked. He does everything in justice and love.
Now if it is right for God to have certain anger, certain wrath, would it be right on our part to exercise anger or wrath on any occasion? There may, as we have intimated, be times when one may properly be angry. For instance, we should properly feel a certain degree of anger against ourselves. If we found that we had not properly improved our opportunities, if we have been careless or negligent in watching our "thoughts, and words and doings," we might well be provoked, even angry with ourselves. But if the heart is right, we should be neither too indignant nor discouraged on account of our failures in this direction, but strive more and more carefully, with the Lord's assistance, to overcome, endeavoring to learn a lesson from every mistake we make.
Not having the right or the ability to judge the heart of another, we should be very slow to anger, and very careful how we express ourselves. We are to remember that only the Lord has the right to punish. The Lord's people should strive against all of these weaknesses, these blemishes, of the flesh, which are stimulated by the Adversary and his hosts – anger, wrath, strife, malice, hatred. We should fear these things as we would a plague.
What carefulness, what scrutiny of ourselves, what earnest prayer for help, this thought should bring! How we should guard our tongues against evil-speaking, back-biting, slander, for this is the fruit of lovelessness and malice. And in guarding our tongues, we must remember that it is from the heart that these evil words proceed. Therefore our heart must be made and kept so loyal to Christ, so in tune with God's Holy Spirit, that it will not send forth any such bitter waters.
The Psalmist says, "Let not an evil speaker be established in the earth." See also St. Paul's counsel to Titus, 3:2-8, and to Timothy. (1 Tim. 3:11.) Oh, that the spirit of love and kindness and consideration one for another might so richly dwell in every member of the Church of Christ that each one would not only refrain from speaking evil of a brother or sister, but that it would give pain to hear a defamatory tale about any one, and particularly about a fellow-pilgrim in the "narrow way"! If this were the attainment of each member of all the different Ecclesias, how much more closely would they be bound together in the bonds of Christian love!
As we have said before, we believe that the majority of the dear friends are developing more and more of this spirit of love and consideration; but there is still room for improvement in the cases of some, at least. The mischief that can be done with the tongue is almost unlimited. How watchful and prayerful, then, we should be of our influence! We urge a careful rereading of Vol. 6, pp. 583-588, of STUDIES IN THE SCRIPTURES. It is good that our pure minds be stirred up by way of remembrance. We believe that our time is short in which to complete our work of character structure. This should be impressed upon us more and more as we see one after another of the Body members of Christ passing beyond the veil. Let us seek by prayer and by daily, yea, hourly effort, that we may in all things become copies of God's dear Son, and hear, when our time shall come, the Master's sweet "Well done!"
"Make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed." – Hebrews 12:13.
From information reaching us in various ways, we incline to the belief that a great wave of immorality and sensuality is passing over the civilized world. No doubt the War and the various new conditions which it has opened up have much to do with this evil condition. It could hardly be otherwise. But additionally, it would appear that our great Adversary has for thousands of years found sensuality, immorality, to be one of his best avenues through which to attack mankind, and especially those of humanity who have acknowledged the Lord and the righteous regulations which He establishes for all those who will be His people.
Bible students familiar with the history of typical Israel will recall that it is along this line that Balaam and Balak plotted against Israel with so great success, bringing upon the Israelites Divine judgments. St. Paul tells us that it was in this manner that our race, originally created in the image of God, fell so far into degradation. "Because that, when they knew God, they glorified Him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools. * * * God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonor their bodies between themselves. * * * As they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which were not proper; being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things," etc. – Romans 1:21-32.
If any one wonders how our race came into its present depraved condition, he has in the above words of the Apostle a full explanation. And now, after the propagation of the Gospel for more than eighteen centuries – after the Bible has been printed in every language, and when education is so general that practically everybody can read the Bible, and when knowledge on every subject is so greatly increased, is it not astounding to see that our Adversary's early tactics are again prevailing? Again the learned are professing to be wise, and are foolishly rejecting the wisdom from above; and again immorality is rampant: anger, malice, hatred, strife, backbiting, whispering, wars, and murders are prevailing. The Lord seems to be letting mankind learn the lesson that Civilization does not spell Salvation, as some had expected.
The Bible represents mankind as birds, and the great Adversary as the hunter seeking to entrap and to kill them; but the saints are pictured as speckled birds, especially attractive to the hunter. Against these he uses his arts and snares with keen interest in their downfall. [R5975 : page 314]
Some years ago, in the Lord's providence, we were guided to a presentation of A VOW UNTO THE LORD which we earnestly recommended to His people and which we believe has done them great good. Not that this Vow, or any other vow, could be greater or wider in its scope than the vow of self-sacrifice which each of the Lord's people took upon himself before he was acceptable to the Lord and begotten of the Holy Spirit; but this Vow has proven helpful to His saints in that it has drawn to their particular attention certain dangers of the way, counseling as respects their abiding in the Lord's favor.
About 20,000 of the Lord's consecrated people have written us, desiring to be enrolled as amongst those who have taken this Vow. From very many of these we have heard what great blessings have come to them through their endeavors to observe faithfully the various items of that Vow – how their feet have been kept from stumbling; how they have been helped in respect to their fellowship with the Lord; how they have been refreshed in spirit as they remembered daily at the Throne of Grace all others who have taken the Vow; how they have been blessed also in their daily remembrance of the Harvest Work and their own privileges therein; and how they have been made the more cautious by the resolutions respecting Spiritism and Occultism, and respecting their fellowship with persons of the opposite sex.
1. Our Father, which art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy name. May Thy rule come into my heart more and more, and Thy will be done in my mortal body. Relying on the assistance of Thy promised grace to help in every time of need, through Jesus Christ our Lord, I register this Vow.
2. Daily will I remember at the Throne of Heavenly Grace the general interests of the Harvest work, and particularly the share which I myself am privileged to enjoy in that work, and the dear colaborers at the Brooklyn Tabernacle and Bethel, and everywhere.
4. I Vow to Thee that I will be on the alert to resist everything akin to Spiritism and Occultism, and that remembering that there are but the two masters, I shall resist these snares in all reasonable ways as being of the Adversary.
5. I further Vow that with the exceptions below, I will at all times, and in all places, conduct myself toward those of the opposite sex in private exactly as I would do with them in public – in the presence of a congregation of the Lord's people.
We have heard from some that, while they had great blessings when they carefully observed the Vow, they gradually grew careless of it and began to lose their blessings, and stumbled into sin. We shall never be beyond danger, dear Brethren, so long as we are in the flesh. Hence everything that we can do on the side of the Lord, on the side of righteousness, as New Creatures enlisted under the banner of our Redeemer, we should do – for the maintenance of our own standards and for the assistance of others in the fight against the world, the flesh, and the Adversary, in which we have enlisted.
The text at the head of this article should never be forgotten by any of the Soldiers of the Cross. The strongest need to remember it, and surely the weaker ones need to obey it. We are all lame. None is able to walk uprightly, perfectly, in the footprints of our Lord. At very best, we limp. How necessary, then, that we do our best to avoid trials and temptations which would be a special strain upon us because of our weaknesses of the flesh! How we should seek to walk close to the Lord and to hold firmly to His hand while passing through the trials and the difficulties of the present time!
Does some one suggest that such a course represents weakness and dependence? Surely, it does; and surely the one who does not know of his weakness and dependence upon the Lord has not learned his primary lesson! Let us not be ashamed of regulating our lives so as to avoid temptations as far as possible; for this is the wise course admonished by the Lord's Word. To be proud, self-confident, and willing to trust in ourselves anywhere bespeaks the spirit which is not in close fellowship with the Lord, who shows His face to the humble and the meek.
If there are special trials upon the world and upon the Lord's followers now, we may expect that these will be increasingly severe in coming days and years. How necessary it is that the Lord's followers shall be courageous, strong, determined for the right – especially in all matters of self-control! "He that ruleth his own spirit [his own mind] is greater than the warrior who captures a city," is the inspired announcement. Let us seek to be great from the Divine viewpoint – pleasing to the Lord; guarding well our words and thoughts and doings, not merely on our own account, but additionally in the interest of all with whom we have to do. Thus we shall more and more be bright and shining lights, showing forth the praises of Him who has called us out of darkness into His marvelous light." – 1 Peter 2:9.
"I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ; for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth." – Romans 1:16.
This delay afforded St. Paul an opportunity to meet with a little band of Christians residing at Puteoli. Doubtless he took the opportunity also to send word to the Christians residing at Rome, whom he had repeatedly declared that he longed to meet, and whom the Lord promised that he should meet. The journey to Rome was made on foot. En route the Apostle was frequently cheered by evidences of the Christian love of the brethren. Some of them met him at Appii Forum, forty-three miles distant from Rome; and another delegation met him at Three Taverns, thirty miles from the great city.
Many famous generals had come this same way with [R5975 : page 315] their troops to the imperial city, to receive honors and applause. But few preachers have had so great honors as were accorded to St. Paul. The journey to and from Rome was sixty miles for one delegation and eighty-six miles for the other; and the record shows us that by these manifestations of loving interest the Apostle was made acquainted with the true spirit of brotherhood amongst the Christians at Rome. The brethren doubtless came on the journey for their own refreshment and joy, not realizing, perhaps, that the Apostle needed this evidence of their love.
Commenting along these lines a gifted writer says, "We often forget that great men are often very lonely; and while we hesitate to say kind words to them, yet words of recognition for what they have done are refreshing to those who receive more criticism than praise. A few days ago an editor showed me a letter which he had just received from one who had held nearly the highest position in the gift of the American people, thanking him for his kindly words in a late editorial. My friend said that at first he was astonished that so great a man should care for anything that he could say; but that on further thought he understood the value of generous appreciation even to the greatest and wisest of men."
The fact that there were no charges of an evil character against St. Paul, and the further fact that the centurion who had him in charge during the voyage became his friend, were quite sufficient reasons why the Apostle should not be treated as an ordinary prisoner, but permitted to live in his own hired house under the care of a soldier to whom he was lightly chained. Although not permitted to go at liberty, he was allowed, however, to receive his friends and others who called upon him.
It is difficult to estimate how much Divine providence had to do with all these arrangements. Moreover, the soldier on guard was changed every few hours, so that probably the Apostle came into contact with at least six every day. Thus gradually he probably came into close contact with the entire imperial guard, and thus many were made acquainted with Christian teachings and example. It is claimed that through these soldiers the Gospel Message was carried to France, Germany and Great Britain. Truly, "God works in a mysterious way!"
St. Paul must have had some financial means. It is assumed that ere this he had come into his patrimony. The Scriptures intimate that Felix had held him captive at Caesarea in hope of receiving a bribe for his release, implying some knowledge respecting St. Paul's finances.
The Lord's servant was not slow in using his God-granted privileges. He knew not when they might be taken away. First of all, of course, he met the Christian brethren. But, as early as the third day after his arrival at Rome, he sent for the Jewish leaders and officers of the synagogue; for at that time there were seven synagogues in the imperial city. He desired to give them information at first-hand respecting why he was there and a prisoner. Then he wished to preach to them the Gospel of Christ.
The Jewish leaders accepted his invitation and visited the Apostle. Doubtless they came readily for several reasons. First, the Jews at Rome had been subject to persecution, which some three years previous had driven Aquila and Priscilla from the city. This persecution had now to some extent abated; but doubtless it had left the hearts of the Jews in a much humbler condition than otherwise they would have been. Second, the Jews doubtless were interested in a fellow countryman in distress, especially one whom they found to be so peculiarly treated by the Roman government – one granted so great liberty as St. Paul enjoyed.
The Lord's providence was certainly in this matter; and the Apostle's peculiar form of restraint was evidently favorable to the cause which he represented. The Jews would certainly beware how they would raise a commotion against one who, although a prisoner, was treated with such consideration, one who was under the direct protection of a soldier, and one for violence to whom they would be directly responsible to Julius, supposed to have been the prefect of the Praetorium – "the captain of the guard."
St. Paul explained to his guests that, although a prisoner at the instance of the Jews of Palestine, he was not disloyal to his nation or to its customs. He had been pronounced innocent at the Roman Court, but had been compelled to appeal to Caesar for his safety. Even then, however, he was making no accusation against his countrymen. He proposed that gladly he would explain to them the good news that the long-expected Messiah had come, in whom the Jewish expectations had rested.
Mark the Apostle's wisdom in handling his subject. He not only showed no unkindness of sentiment toward those who had been the cause of his imprisonment, but he declared to his hearers that he was suffering imprisonment because of his loyalty to Israel and to the hope of Israel. Kindness often begets kindness. The Jewish leaders responded in most considerate terms that they knew nothing against the Apostle, and that they would be pleased to hear his story from his own lips. They admitted, however, that they had some prejudice against the doctrines which he advocated; for they had unfavorable reports concerning Christianity – that "everywhere it is spoken against."
On the day appointed, the Jews came to hear the Apostle's Message. From morning until evening he quoted, explained and expounded, showing from the Law and from the Prophets that Jesus is the Messiah; that He is now gathering a Spiritual Seed of Abraham to be His Kingdom; that when this Kingdom class is complete, it will be glorified in the First Resurrection; and that then will begin the work allotted to the Seed of Abraham – the blessing of all the families of the earth. – Gal. 3:8,16,29.
Doubtless, too, the Apostle gave an account of the purity of our Lord's life and teachings, and narrated the facts proving His resurrection from the dead. Doubtless he witnessed that the Lord was no longer a man, but a glorious spirit being, whose presence, when seen by St. Paul himself, shone above the brightness of the sun at noonday. Doubtless, also, he pointed out the High Calling of the Church, and explained that this opportunity for becoming Spiritual Israel was accorded first of all to Fleshly Israel; and that the Gentiles, nevertheless, according to the words of the Prophets, would be called in to fill up the elect number which God had predestinated to this glory. Doubtless he showed that the Call involved suffering, sacrifice and self-denial now on the part of those who desired to share in the glories of the Heavenly Kingdom as it will be established at the Second Coming of Messiah and the resurrection of the one true Church. – Rom. 8:28-30,17-19.
When some of his audience refused the Message, St. Paul sought further to influence them, or at least to influence the believing ones, by quoting from the Prophet Isaiah (6:9,10), showing that God had foreknown and had foretold that the majority of the Jews would reject the Message when it should come to them. As our Lord said of them, "Hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive." The Apostle was not responsible for the effect of the [R5975 : page 316] Truth upon his hearers. He earnestly desired to do them good, and used his very best endeavors to present the Truth wisely. The responsibility then lay with the hearers, not with St. Paul, not with the Lord.
The Apostle did not mean that those who are deaf to the Gospel will be eternally tormented; but that they will lose a great blessing – the wonderful privilege of becoming heirs of God and joint-heirs with Jesus Christ the Redeemer in His Millennial Kingdom. They lose a share with the saints in the glorious work of human uplift, which will then be in progress. They lose this privilege because not worthy of it. For this cause they were blind to the Truth. Had the unworthy ones been permitted to see, hear and understand the Gospel Message, their responsibilities would have been increased, and possibly the outworkings of the Divine purposes would have been to some extent hindered.
Some of the Jewish leaders believed St. Paul's Message, and some did not. It is always thus. The Truth is a searcher and discerner of the hearts; it is also a separator. It is the Lord's purpose that the Truth shall attract only the one class – the pure in heart, the "Israelites indeed"; and that it shall separate and antagonize those who are not in the right condition of heart, but who are moved even in their religious life by selfishness. Not all are ready for the Present Truth. Some who are noble and generous in many respects have a prejudice of mind or of heart, which hinders them from receiving the Good Tidings. With others it is love of the sect, the party, with which they are identified, and whose teachings must be more or less antagonistic to the Truth because of the error they contain. With still others it is the fear of man, which bringeth a snare – the fear of unpopularity, and the realization that faithfulness to the Gospel of Christ would mean self-sacrifice, the giving up of the will.
Now, as then, the Lord is using just such testings to separate the wheat from the tares, the gold from the dross. We cannot expect that He will do otherwise. Therefore our prayers and our endeavors must be in the direction of thorough honesty with the Lord, with the brethren, and with His Truth – the love of the Truth being above all things else. The Lord's declaration respecting the class that will fall during this time of testing is that He will send them strong delusion, that they will believe the lie, because they received not the Truth in the love of it. – 2 Thessalonians 2:10,11.
For nearly two years St. Paul remained under these conditions, preaching the Kingdom of God, and explaining how it may be attained at the present time by becoming members of the Elect Little Flock, the Bride of Christ, and how the Kingdom, when established, will during the Millennium bless the whole earth. He taught that all these things were dependent upon the Lord Jesus Christ and His sacrifice; that without the redemption which is in Christ Jesus there could be no remission of sins, no everlasting life, no Kingdom class upon the spirit plane, but only everlasting destruction. – Acts 3:23.
Here the narrative of St. Paul's work ends. Tradition tells us that at the end of two years he was liberated; that again he visited the churches of Asia Minor and subsequently went to Spain; that, later on, he came back to Rome as a prisoner without favor; and that after spending a considerable time in the Mamertine prison, a dread dungeon, he finally suffered martyrdom. Tradition also says that his Roman citizenship saved him from crucifixion; and that instead he was decapitated. St. Paul's Cathedral at Rome is said to have been built near the place of his execution.
"Present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service." – Verse 1.
Nowhere is this more manifest than in St. Paul's Epistle to the Romans. Beginning with the distinctions between the Jew and the Gentile, he contrasts the former, informed respecting God and to some extent respecting the Divine Plan, with the latter, "without God and having no hope in the world." After calling attention to the general ignorance of God prevailing amongst all classes of Gentiles, the Apostle carries the mind forward, pointing out how the degradation had come, and how the knowledge of God had reached Israel first – not because the Israelites were better than the Gentiles, but because of the Divine favor, "grace," "election."
Then the Apostle demonstrates that nevertheless "the Law made nothing perfect," but was merely a pedagogue – a servant, whose business it was to take the children to school. Thus the Law was designed to bring Israel to Christ, the great Teacher, that they might learn of Him. He further demonstrates that, while Israel was seeking Divine favor, they failed to get the chief blessing because they were not thoroughly candid with themselves, and hence mistook the mission of the Mosaic Law. They hypocritically claimed that they kept the Law inviolate and were therefore entitled to its blessings of eternal life, etc.; whereas they should have admitted that the Law was so grand and so perfect, and they themselves so fallen from perfection, that they were unable to keep it. Then they should have looked to the Lord for help. In this attitude of mind they would have been ready to receive eternal life as a gift, through Jesus Christ our Lord, and would have given up the seeking of life by the perfection of their own works.
So the Apostle points out that Israel failed because they sought the blessing not by faith, but by works. Thus "Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the Election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded." (Romans 11:7.) He then points out that Israel's fall into blindness and the calling of a peculiar people from amongst the Gentiles to complete the elect company was foreknown of God and declared by Him through the Prophets of Israel. (Romans 9 and 10.) But he shows [R5975 : page 317] that Israel is not cast off forever; but that when the elect class shall have been completed, all Israel shall be saved from the blindness into which they stumbled in the rejection of Christ; and that their recovery then will be the signal for blessings upon the whole world of mankind. – Romans 11:15,25-32.
After eleven chapters of argumentative, logical, beautiful, instructive, blessed reasoning the Apostle reaches the crown of his argument, saying, "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God [presented in the previous eleven chapters], that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service." He is addressing the Household of Faith, urging them to accept the Divine invitation to enter the elect Body of Christ, a part of which was being gathered from amongst the Jews, and the remainder of which was being made up from those called from amongst the Gentiles. These were already justified by faith in Christ Jesus as the Redeemer, and therefore were "brethren" of the Household of Faith.
St. Paul exhorts these brethren to appreciate fully the grace of God through Christ and to become faithful sons and heirs of God. The way to this exalted position is pointed out as a way of sacrifice. To "present your bodies a living sacrifice" is to do just what our Lord Jesus did. He said, "I came not to do Mine own will, but the will of Him that sent Me." (John 6:38.) It is to ignore the will of the flesh, with all of its ambitions, hopes and aims, however proper they may be in themselves, henceforth to devote all our time, our energies, our talents, be they many or few, to the doing of the Master's work, so that with Christ Jesus we may say, "It is my meat to do His will and to finish His work." – John 4:34.
This full consecration is even unto death, when, the course being finished, the reward is sure. Such a sacrifice on the part of justified believers is reckoned of God as holy, because the merit of our Redeemer's sacrificial death is imputed to them through faith. Therefore their sacrifice is acceptable to God, and is but their reasonable service, even though no exceeding great reward had been promised.
This class should know what are the terms and conditions upon which God has called them: (1) to suffer with Christ in the present time; and (2) to be glorified and to reign with Him during the coming Age, in order to bless the world. They should know the reason for their sufferings. They should have a clear understanding of the character which God would develop in them, and without which they would not be fit for a place in the Kingdom. It is concerning some of these characteristics, necessary to those who would make their calling and election sure, that today's Study treats.
Verse 2. "And be ye not conformed to [patterned after] this world [its ideas, its hopes, its aims]; but be ye transformed [remodeled, changed] by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God." This we do by taking the mind of Christ – endeavoring to think as He thought and to do as He did, or as He would do if He were in our circumstances. Only by coming into such an attitude can we fully know the will of God. Any other attitude is more or less biased by prejudice, thus making our discernment of the will of God more or less indistinct.
Verse 3. Through the grace given unto the Apostle he foresaw that one of the greatest temptations amongst Christians would be the ambition to be great, to be highly esteemed – if not by the world, at least amongst those of the Household of Faith – and to do some great thing which would attract attention, rather than the common things which constitute the bulk of actual service. Therefore the Apostle counsels every man in the Church to take a sober estimate of his talents, neither overrating nor underestimating them, in order that he may make the best use of them as a wise, faithful steward.
This sober thinking of one's talents must be proportionate to the time we have been under the Lord's instruction and the degree of attention we have given to learning the lessons designed for the increase of our faith. This development is in the Scriptures spoken of as a gift, as a fruit of the Spirit of God in us, and again as God's workmanship; for by His Truth and by His providences He is working in His children, not only to will, but also to do His good pleasure. He is working in us faith, hope, joy, peace, love and all the graces which He approves; and if we are obedient to His teachings and leadings, He will eventually complete the work. Then we shall be copies of His dear Son our Lord.
Verses 4 and 5 assure us of the important and honorable place occupied by every member of the Body of Christ, even though all have not the same office. All are useful; all are needful, one to another; and each should seek to know his place and to do his part in it for the edification of the Body. Clearly and distinctly the Apostle points out to us in this illustration the close relationship which the members of the Church of Christ bear to their Lord and Head. As the head controls the body, thinks for it, plans for it, uses one or another member of the body for the assistance of others, so the Lord supervises His Church and sets the various members as it pleases Him.
Verses 6-8 urge faithfulness in the use of our talents in accordance with a sober and just estimate of them. Thus, if we have no talent for public speaking or teaching, we should not waste our energies and misrepresent the Truth by poor attempts to use a talent not possessed. Rather, having found that capacity in which we can do most effectual service for the Truth, let us spend our energies along that line with diligence and carefulness. "Having, then, gifts differing," let us use them with diligence, patience, simplicity and cheerfulness, contented to be very humble in the estimation of others in order that our humble talents may increase the more to the Master's glory and in respect to our Heavenly interests.
The attendance at the Convention was estimated at one thousand. The special service for the public on the closing Sunday packed the spacious Temple Beautiful to its utmost capacity, with about 200 brethren on the platform and about 600 in an overflow meeting, making a total of 3,800 – besides about a thousand turned away. The close attention given by the public was remarked by many. The audience was an extremely intelligent one, probably one-half of it gray-haired people. Good results are hoped for from the public service, and we hope also that the Convention's general influence will be far reaching, not only in the Los Angeles Congregation, but also in the smaller companies round about, which were well represented.
The PHOTO-DRAMA OF CREATION had two full exhibitions – four nights each, with a Finale, making nine in all. It was well attended and a large number of cards were handed in, requesting further information and literature.
An interesting event outside the Convention Program was an address by Brother Russell in the Park Avenue Christian Church, Los Angeles. The Minister of the Congregation, Brother Anderson, has within the past few months come in contact with Present Truth, and has been feasting upon it. He has also been preaching it to the Congregation, and has had various of the brethren lead Berean Studies and give Addresses. His invitation to Brother Russell to take supper at his home and afterwards to address the Congregation was accepted with appreciation. The attendance crowded the edifice, about 500 being present. The attention was excellent. Evidently a considerable number of the Congregation were deeply impressed with the Divine Plan of the Ages, as were also visitors from the neighborhood. Brother and Sister Anderson seem to be very thoroughly committed to following the light as the Lord may privilege them to see it. They give evidence of full consecration to the Lord, and a clear spiritual insight into the Plan.
A public witness to the Truth was given in San Bernardino and seemed to be well received. About 500 very intelligent people gave close heed to the subject, "The World on Fire." This was considered an excellent attendance for a Tuesday afternoon in September. Many requests were made for literature.
Our next stop was at San Francisco, where we addressed about 400 of the brethren of that vicinity gathered for Wednesday afternoon. No public meeting was attempted, but we had splendid fellowship with the brethren, about 100 of whom accompanied us to Oakland, where we took our train northward.
The next stop was at Medford, Oregon, where we had about 10 minutes, and were warmly greeted by about 20 of the friends. Again we exchanged cordial greetings and sang, as the train pulled out, "God be with you till we meet again."
Portland, Oregon, was our next stop. Although about 20 of the Portland brethren attended the Seattle Convention, we were warmly welcomed. About 50 awaited our arrival at the station. We had splendid fellowship with the Brethren during the day, nearly 300 being in attendance. The evening meeting for the public was in the largest hall available. Its capacity of 1,300 was stretched by putting about 200 brethren on the platform, while about 150 stood. A more earnest and sympathetic audience could scarcely be imagined. The closest attention was given and we hope that the eyes of understanding of many were opened and their hearts drawn nearer to our Blessed Lord.
This was one of the most successful Conventions of the year. There were 1,100 in attendance. A considerable number of these came from Victoria and Vancouver, Canada – probably 200. The spirit of the Lord seemed to be manifest everywhere amongst the brethren – love, joy, peace, the Holy Spirit, shone in their faces. Every way this Convention was a great success. We cannot say that it was better than the Los Angeles Convention, or others, but it would be hard to imagine a better one, or a more earnest and loving spirit of fellowship. This Convention lasted only four days, but they were brimful of good things – a spiritual feast.
The service for the public was held in the Arena Sunday afternoon. A vast audience of 4,500 very intelligent looking people heard, "The World on Fire," and what the grand outcome will be – "a New Heavens and a New Earth," wherein will dwell righteousness. The closest attention was given and probably one-fourth of the audience, or more, were gray-haired. Requests for further literature were many.
The Love-Feast Sunday evening at the close of the Convention was very enjoyable. All hearts seemed to be overflowing with love for the Lord and appreciation of His Truth, and with brotherly love for all who are followers of Jesus.
The PHOTO-DRAMA OF CREATION was shown in another theater every night during the four nights of the Convention. The theater's capacity of 1,100 was packed, and hundreds were turned away each night. The DRAMA will be repeated on account of the interest manifested. Incidentally we remark that one of the brethren attending the Convention from Canada informed us that the showing of the DRAMA in his city had brought between fifty and sixty into the Truth and into regular class attendance.
Our next stop was at Spokane, Wash., Monday, Sept. 18. We were greeted at the station by about 60 brethren and sisters. They had arranged a one-day Convention for friends from nearby points. Nearly 300 were in attendance, and a splendid season of Christian fellowship was enjoyed. The evening meeting was for the public, Brother Russell's topic being "The World on Fire." The attendance was about 1,500, many standing and many turned away. Excellent attention was given and we have reason to hope that some impression for the Truth was made upon some hearts and minds.
Thursday, Sept. 21st, we arrived in Duluth, Minn. Again we were given a warm welcome, again a one-day Convention had been appointed, and again the Lord seemed to pour out a blessing upon us, refreshing our hearts as we considered together the good things of His Word. The attendance was not large – less than 100, but the loving interest manifested was pronounced. Although the weather was wet and cold about 750 were present at the night meeting for the public. They gave splendid attention.
A night's ride brought us to St. Paul, where we had a short stopover between trains. The St. Paul and Minneapolis friends had heard of this stopover and quite a little gathering assembled to bid us God-speed for the Milwaukee Convention, to which some of their number had already gone, while others were intending to go. We had a pleasant hour with them, very truly refreshing and profitable.
When we arrived the Milwaukee Convention was under full swing, and excellent reports reached us of blessings already received from the Lord by those in attendance. We had two days with the dear friends, and greatly enjoyed the same. The total number in attendance, about 950, was not as large as we had hoped for, but the interest made up for the lack in numbers. The addresses were reported to be excellent, along the lines of the program and very edifying.
The PHOTO-DRAMA OF CREATION showed for eight nights – the DRAMA being repeated. The attendance throughout was splendid, averaging about 2,000 per session. About 2,200 cards were handed in expressing desire for further literature.
Homeward bound we stopped between trains at Chicago. There also some of the friends met us – nearly a hundred. A short address was made to them along the lines of the importance of brotherly love amongst the Lord's people.
Amongst the interesting features at nearly every place was [R5976 : page 319] the consecration of children. And we should not forget to remark that the new "Pastoral Work" seemed to make quite an impression upon the hearts and minds of the friends. Many of the sisters were glad to have a share in the work and to know how it could be carried out. We believe that much will be done immediately, and that the dear sisters throughout the country will be awakened and taught by experience how to work efficiently, and that the great smiting of the Jordan shall begin and progress with wonderful power, as we expect it to do.
Greetings and fond love in the Lord! It is now some little time since last we wrote you with respect to those of our dear brethren who are affected by the Military Service Act in this country. We are glad now to report some slight improvement in the situation. From the very beginning our brethren have claimed exemption from the provisions of the Act as Conscientious Objectors, but for a long time the Tribunals before which their cases came were not prepared to acknowledge their conscientious objection, one difficulty being that the I.B.S.A. was not known to them. But things have changed now and our brethren are finding it less hard to secure – as an alternative to Military Service – some work of National Importance. At the present time five of our brethren have been given absolute exemption, twenty-three are in a Non-combatant Corps, one hundred and fifty-four have been given work of National Importance, and eighty-two have been handed over to the Military and have suffered various punishments rather than obey Military orders. With reference to this latter number the Government put into operation a scheme whereby these men are to be released from Prison and – as State servants – be employed in work of National Importance, such as road-making, quarrying, etc. About thirty of the eighty-two mentioned are already thus engaged and about twelve others are at home on parole waiting for work to be found for them.
You will be interested to know that the War Office officials have kindly consented to cancel the papers calling to the colors all those brethren who are Elders, pending the decision of the High Court as to the proper status of our Elders under the Act. This decision we expect to receive about the middle of November. This means, of course, that various Classes are to receive the benefit of their Elders' services meantime. We are grateful to the Lord for this evidence of His loving care for His dear ones in this hour of need.
We need hardly say how keenly we are anticipating further opportunities of service that the Lord in His gracious purposes may have this side the veil; and we are looking to you as His faithful servant to point out to us such further privileges of witness as it may be His good pleasure to provide. We believe that the trials through which our beloved brethren here have been called upon to pass of late have had a mighty, sanctifying influence and have helped us all to be still more devoted to our Lord, and prepared to spend and be spent in His service – realizing the privilege of being His witnesses and suffering, if it be His will, for His name's sake.
We pray for you, dear Brother, and all our beloved brethren associated with you in service for the Lord, that He grant you all Heavenly wisdom and grace sufficient each and every day, so that your labors may ever be to His praise and glory.
Your brethren and servants in the Lord,
Of late years I have been greatly oppressed by the growing power of evil in every denomination, and I felt a withdrawing of the Holy Spirit from me. I prayerfully sought to know the reason, and my only answer was a direction to study the book of Revelation. I tried to do so several times, but even with the help of a commentary, I could not understand it. Finally, I thought that if I carefully and prayerfully read your books they could not harm me. I did so, and looked up every reference and the context, and also the history of the world.
Your Sister in Christ,
It was just a whole year (a long one) that He saw fit to permit me to be laid on the shelf – until He graciously opened the way for me to go out again in the follow-up work, just six weeks ago. You know something of the starvation of soul it meant. Now I can tell you that, true to His promise, when we hunger for these things, we shall be filled; so my whole soul doth magnify the Lord my Creator for His refilling. Through this experience I realize that I have never in the past sufficiently appreciated the goodness of the Lord in permitting me to handle His precious truths and to feed His lambs, to uphold His name and character to all with whom we come in contact. Henceforth many times daily I will by His grace remember my vow to thank Him, "particularly for the share which I myself am privileged to enjoy in that work," and with reverence handle these sacred vessels of the Lord.
Every day we meet some hungry souls who declare inability to understand the Bible – some who say their neighbors think them peculiar because they love to talk about the Bible; some say they are "starved" for the truth of the Bible. "What manner of persons ought we to be" who are entrusted with a Message for just such waiting hearts!
The Father Himself has provided "strength for every day" – temporal blessings far better than we deserve or would ask for and spiritual joys which we could not have dreamed of, except that "it is just like our Father." We wish that we had much more that we could sacrifice for Him, for our little sacrifice is completely lost sight of because of present joys and the joys in prospect.
By His Grace,
While renewing my subscription to THE WATCH TOWER, I avail myself of the opportunity to tell you how much its semi-monthly calls gladden us. We ever find therein, abundantly given, the strong meat necessary to properly maintain us as new creatures, that we may grow in all the graces and fruits of the Spirit.
In spite of the trials and difficulties abounding in these perilous times, the condition of our little class is very satisfactory. Each of us is holding firmly to the anchor of faith – the precious promises of our Heavenly Father, which alone can protect us against the waves already foaming, roaring and threatening to engulf the "mountains." We make Psalm 46 ours.
Your humble brother in the One Hope.