HARVEST GLEANINGS III

Pittsburgh Gazette, Nov. 4, 1906

"HE MUST REIGN"

Pastor C T Russell addressed the Bible House congregation and the public at Carnegie Music Hall in this city this afternoon. A large congregation gave closest attention to his theme, which was from the text, "He must reign till he hath put all enemies under his feet." (1 Cor. 15:25.) He said:

Everyone who has studied his Bible to any purpose has noticed that throughout the New Testament the teachings of our Lord and of his apostles imply the establishment of a reign or dominion of righteousness in the world which shall completely overthrow sin and all who are willfully and intelligently its upholders and sympathizers. Our Lord spoke of this as His kingdom and also as the Father's kingdom; the apostles similarly mention it as the kingdom of God's dear Son, the kingdom of glory, the heavenly kingdom. Thus our Lord Jesus in various of his parables refers to the selection of His church, His elect, to be joint heirs with Him in His kingdom, and tells us that when the Son of Man shall come in the glory of His kingdom, and all His holy angels with Him, then shall He sit upon the throne of His glory to judge, discipline, correct in righteousness all the families of the earth. (Matt. 25:31.) When in the prayer He taught us to petition the Father, "Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as in heaven," it was not a derogation of His teaching that He himself was to be king of earth, who would subdue all things unto himself.

The relationship between the two thoughts that it is the Father's kingdom and that it is the kingdom of God's dear Son is easily seen when we remember that the Father's kingdom or dominion of earth was renounced when father Adam became disobedient and was sentenced to death; it will not be re-established until the close of the Millennial age. Nevertheless by the Father's arrangement our Lord Jesus has intervened, not only for the payment of father Adam's penalty to justice, but additionally to take possession of Adam's estate, as his successor, to bring order out of its confusion to remove the sin, to uplift the sinners, to establish peace, order, righteousness in the earth, to instruct and discipline and develop in character so many of Adam's race as may be willing, to destroy the unwilling in the second death and thus, at the close of his reign of a thousand years, to deliver up the kingdom to God, even the Father, that He, the Father, may be all in all the one great head, center, ruler over all creation.

THE FIRST FRUITS AND THE GENERAL HARVEST

Our text and context express these matters in no uncertain terms, pointing out that as all who were in Adam died so all who will come into Christ the Redeemer shall live not merely for a few short hours or days or years but live in the full, perfect, complete sense of the word everlastingly. But the apostle assures us that there is to be order in this work and the saved will be of different orders. His words are, "every man in his own order." We ask what are the orders? and the scriptures Answer'that there is a first or chief resurrection, which belongs to the very elect, the church of this gospel age, "the bride," the "Lamb's wife." That resurrection is to glory, honor, immortality, joint-heirship with the Redeemer in his kingdom, and association with him in his great work during the thousand years in uplifting whomsoever will of all the families of the earth. The second rank or order of those who will be saved by the Redeemer will be those who will have part in the subsequent or inferior resurrection. This does not signify, however, a resurrection to any mean or contemptible condition but to perfect life and glory on a lower plane the human plane as distinguished from the spiritual. The reward of the elect bride class will be the Divine nature (2 Pet. 1:4) while the provision for the world in general is restitution to the perfection of human nature to all that was lost in Adam, redeemed by Jesus, plus experience and knowledge. Matt. 18:11; Acts 3:19-21.

Mark how the apostle clearly sets this matter forth. After telling us that as all in Adam die all who will come into Christ shall be made alive, fully released from death and imperfection, and then telling us that this will be to every man in his own order, he announces the orders just as we have delineated saying, "Christ the first-fruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming." (1 Cor. 15:23) Christ the first-fruits includes the church, for as the apostle explains "God gave Christ to be the head over the church which is his body," and as he again remarks, "We are members in particular of the body of Christ." (Eph. 1:23; 1 Cor. 12:27). Similarly we read again, respecting the church that "we should be a kind of first-fruits unto God of his creatures." (Jas. 1:18.) Only the first-fruits of God's creatures are dealt with during this gospel age, and it is the harvest of these first-fruits that occurs at the second coming of Christ.

Then come the Lord's dealings with mankind in general'the granting to all mankind of an opportunity of coming into relationship with the great Life-Giver. This will include not only those who will be alive at the second [HGL340] coming of Jesus, but all the remainder of the race, as our Lord declares, "All that are in their graves shall hear the voice of the Son of Man and shall come forth," not only the church to the life resurrection, but the world also to a resurrection by judgments by discipline, by chastisement, by instruction, by rewards and punishments. We have every reason to presume that when all the blind eyes shall be opened and all the deaf ears unstopped, when Satan shall be bound that he will deceive the world no longer, when the darkness of superstition and error shall be past, being driven away by the rising of the Sun of Righteousness with healing in his beams then millions of the world of mankind will be glad to respond to the opportunity afforded them of restoration to perfection, mental, moral and physical, at the hands of the great Redeemer, who will then be King of Glory. The context speaks of those saved in this order or class as "afterwards they that are Christ's at his coming" more literally, those who become his during his presence. The Greek word rendered coming in our common version is parousia, and properly signifies presence.

The Lord's first coming or first presence was but for a few years, in which he accomplished the sacrifice of himself as the redemption price for the sins of the whole world. But his second coming, his second presence, we are assured, will be for a thousand years his Millennial reign. And those who will become his during that time of presence, during that Millennial reign, will all be made alive, and be rescued not only from sin but also from all the wages and penalties of sin, from all the imperfections that sin has wrought in them. They shall be made alive fully, completely, perfectly, in all the glory of the image and likeness of God which Adam originally possessed, and lost through disobedience; and for such the Lord has arranged that the whole earth shall gradually become the paradise of God. Here then we see the Divine arrangement, that the church is a kind of first-fruits of God of his creatures, and is developed during this gospel age; and that the general harvest, the general salvation from sin-and-death conditions for mankind in general, will not be fully attained until the close of Christ's Millennial reign.

THEN COMETH THE END

Whoever will follow the apostle's words carefully will see that his double classifications of the saved ones, namely, the first fruits and "afterwards they that are Christ's at His presence," carries the matter down to the close of the Millennial age, for in the next sentence the apostle says, "Then will be the end (the end of Messiah's work as Redeemer and Mediator), when He shall deliver up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule (opposition) and all authority and power." The very essence of the apostle's argument is that our Lord at His second coming will use force, power, in suppressing sin and in liberating the sinner from the thraldom, the slavery, of sin and death, which he represents as tyrants now reigning over the race of Adam. The thousand years will be quite sufficient time in which to accomplish all this wonderful work of putting down everything opposed to righteousness and the best interests of those whom the Lord redeemed, and in giving them all a full opportunity for reconciliation to the Father through the merits of His precious blood. This leads up to our text, "For He must reign until He hath put all enemies under His feet." It is by His exercise of dominion, authority and power that He will overthrow everything opposed to the best interests of Adam and his race.

The scriptures assure us that our Lord at His resurrection was granted all power in heaven and in earth; but they equally assure us that the Father's time for permitting the exercise of this power had not yet come that it has not yet come. If to any this statement seems to need confirmation, it is abundantly substantiated by the history of the past nineteen centuries and by the facts as we see them before us at this very moment. We certainly see that sin and death are reigning today; 90,000 go into the tomb daily while those whom we call alive are under the heavy hand of death, disease, weakness, pain, with their concomitants of mental and moral weakness and depravity. But not only do the scriptures inform us that the present is not the time for Christ's reign, but additionally they point out the time in the future when "He shall take unto Himself His great power and reign." (Rev. 11:17). Here we have exactly the same testimony that is given us in our text and context, that the reign of Christ will mean first of all the blessing of all the faithful ones of this gospel age and of previous times, and includes the blessing of all the families of the earth, small and great. It includes also the utter destruction in the Second Death of all who will not come into full accord with that glorious kingdom of righteousness.

EVERY KNEE SHALL BOW AND EVERY TONGUE CONFESS

Three times in the scriptures it is repeated that every knee must bow. The thought conveyed by the expression is that every human being must become subject to this great King, who, as the Father's representative, will have full charge of the affairs of earth, to uplift the willing and obedient and to destroy the incorrigible to bring order out of present confusion and to eventually bring to pass the desire of the Lord's prayer that God's will shall be done on earth as it is done in heaven. The expression, "Every tongue shall confess to the glory of God," gives the thought that the bowing of the knee in accordance with the kingdom requirements will not be a mere passive obedience, but that ultimately all shall confess openly, publicly, the righteousness of the divine arrangement, its beneficence, its full provision for their every need. Whoever will not bow the knee and whatever tongue will not confess to the Lord's glory will imply a prevalence of will and incorrigibility wholly outside inherited blemishes. Respecting this class the Apostle Peter, speaking of the reign of the antitypical Moses, says: "It shall come to pass that the soul that will not hear (obey) that prophet shall be utterly destroyed from amongst the people."

In one of His parables our Lord pictures himself as the nobleman who went into a far country to be invested with kingly authority and to return to exercise that authority. The application is obvious; the nobleman is our Lord himself, the far country is heaven, the return of the nobleman invested with kingly authority represents our Lord at His second coming. Let us follow the other details of the parable: the nobleman gave certain talents and [HGL341] pounds, not to the public generally, but to his special servants, representing how our Lord gave special privileges and opportunities to the household of faith, particularly to his consecrated followers his "disciples," who agreed to take up their cross and follow him. As on the return from the far country, invested with his kingly authority, the nobleman called first his own servants and dealt with them, rewarding those who had properly used their opportunities, talents, and punishing those who had not properly fulfilled their covenant obligations, so Christ at his second coming first deals with his church, rewarding the faithful and punishing with stripes and losses those who have hidden their talent in the earth, in pleasure, selfishly, carelessly.

The reward of the faithful servants we remember, was to have dominion over two cities, five cities, etc. The parable then treats of the king dealing with his new empire or dominion. The supposition of the parable is that the subjects of the king (outside the special servants) would gladly receive the king when his rightful authority to reign was discerned. But the parable tells that after the nobleman departed some of the future subjects had declared themselves to be in opposition to him, saying, "We will not have this man to reign over us." These persons in the parable represented those of the world who have to any extent heard of Christ and his teachings and who have willfully and deliberately opposed the same by words or deeds of unrighteousness. Some of this class will be living at the time of the second coming of Christ, when he shall arise in power and great glory, fully invested with authority to rule, to reign, and to put all enemies under his feet. And it will be after having dealt with his own servants that the new King, according to the parable, will call for those men who would not have him reign over them, saying, "Bring them hither before me and slay them."

SLAYING HIS ENEMIES

The picture is a graphic one. With the mind's eye we see the parable of a king in dignity and authority, and his enemies being brought before him, the pictures of despair, realizing how they have insulted the one who now has the power and their own utter helplessness. We can imagine that many if not all of them would fall before him in supplication for mercy, and with assurances that if their lives were spared they would become his most loyal subjects. We need not follow the picture of the parable farther, nor try to imagine what earthly kings would do under such circumstances; but coming to the fulfillment of the parable in our Lord Jesus we see that just such supplication and bending of the knee is submission to his rightful authority to control them is what our Lord as the great King will desire. And we can well imagine his kindness unto even the worst of his enemies when we remember that it was himself who taught us, saying, "Love your enemies, do good to them that despitefully use you and persecute you." We remember indeed the statement of the prophecy respecting those who pierced our Lord, saying that every eye would recognize him, yea, they also which pierced him (Rev. 1:7). But mark how the prophet tells us he will treat them in return; he declares, "I will pour upon them the spirit of prayer and of supplication; and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced and they shall mourn for him." (Zech. 12:10.) Thus does the Lord tell us how he will be gracious even to those who crucified him. And will he not be gracious to all of his enemies who will renounce their opposition and bow the knee and confess with the tongue? Surely he will; this is the very essence of the scriptural testimony.

True the parable says, "Bring them hither before me and slay them." That is the command which will go out throughout the whole earth in that day, namely, that whosoever shall willfully and intelligently and deliberately oppose the King and his royal authority "shall be destroyed from amongst the people." It will then be for each one to take his stand either as one of the Lord's sheep or as a goat; all of his sheep will be received to his right hand of favor, all of the goats will be rejected from his favor and ultimately receive the same punishment which will be meted out against Satan himself, namely, everlasting punishment the punishment being death, destruction, never ending. There will be no redemption, no resurrection from that destruction. Matt. 25:46.

THE SWORD OF HIS MOUTH

When reading in the parable that those who would not have him to reign over them should be brought hither and slain before him, we should not forget the symbolical picture of our Lord and his sword given us by himself in Revelation, the "sword proceeded out of his mouth." His sword is the "sword of the spirit, which is the word of God." (Rev. 19:15-21; Eph. 6:17). We may hope for a terrible slaughter of the Lord's enemies with the sword of truth. We may safely conclude that the majority are in opposition to the Lord and to righteousness through blindness and dissipation through ignorance, superstition and misunderstanding, and as soon as these shall hear the voice of the Son of man, the smiting of his word will, we trust, heal them, recover them, deliver many from all opposition, so that quickly all knees shall bow and all tongues confess to the glory of God.

While thus implying that the number who will be recovered from conditions of sin and alienation and enmity to righteousness and to Christ and hence to the Father will be a large number, we are not forgetting or ignoring those scriptures which clearly indicate that there will be amongst men willful sinners who despise all of the Lord's favors and will remain obdurate and die the second death; but we are wishing to emphasize the other side of the question, which is so frequently overlooked by many, viz., that there is more than one sword of the Lord, and that the sword of his lips, the word of God, the message of the truth, is the one referred to by the angels when they sang on the plains of Bethlehem, "Behold we bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be unto all people." (Luke 2:10). All the true hearted ones who are in alienation to righteousness will be glad to be smitten with the sword of truth, the word of God. They will be glad to be slain as enemies, that they may be revived and made alive as the friends, the children of God.

Let us here remember another highly figurative scriptural state-ment, that it may throw light upon the way in which some of the enemies of the Lord will be slain at his second advent. Peter was preaching on the day of Pentecost, [HGL342] and charged upon his hearers the crime of having killed the Just One. He said, "Ye have killed the Prince of life with wicked hands, though in ignorance ye did it, as did also your rulers." The effect of this home thrust of the sword of the spirit of truth was that many of the hearers were "cut to the heart" and cried out, "Men and brethren, what must we do?" Then Peter, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, applied to them the proper balms and salves, the balm of Gilead, the message of peace through Jesus' blood, and they were healed of the wound. Similarly the scriptures again declare that our Lord wounds to heal. (Hos. 6:1). Thus we may expect it will be in the future that the sword of the spirit, the word of God unsheathed against all enemies of righteousness, will be powerful through God to the pulling down of strongholds of error and to the slaying of many who are now enemies slaying them as enemies that they may be revived with the truth, and become the Lord's people who become his during his presence during the Millennial age.

ARROWS IN THE HEART

A prophetic picture of our Lord in glory at this second advent is given us in Psalm 45. There we read of how this one, fairer than all the children of men and blessed of God forever, girds on his sword. We must remember who he is and what is his sword when thinking of the details, the fulfillment of this picture. We are told that he takes his sword with his glory and majesty. "In thy majesty ride on prosperously because of truth and meekness and righteousness." The sword of the Lord, his power, his truth, shall be wielded merely against the enemies of the race and not against the race itself, for has he not bought the race with his own precious blood? and does he not come to deliver the groaning creation from the bonds, the slavery of sin and death? Against all unrighteousness, against ignorance, superstition, error, falsehood, the sword of truth will be wielded and the shackles of mankind will be broken.

Mark another feature of this symbolic picture, "Thine arrows are sharp in the heart of the King's enemies; by them the people fall under thee." Here the word of the Lord is represented as an arrow piercing to the heart those in opposition, convincing them of sin and of righteousness and of retribution. This will be the power which will cause the people to fall in submission before the great King of glory. Because of these arrows of truth in their hearts every knee shall bow and every tongue confess to the glory of God the Father. That this is the right application of the word arrow as a symbol we may easily prove. For instance, we read elsewhere, "The wicked shoot out arrows, even bitter words, that they may destroy the righteous." (Psa. 64:3.) But here the glorious King of righteousness sends forth his arrows, his words, not bitter but pure and true and good; and as arrows they go to the hearts of all those who are in opposition to righteousness to convince, to convict, to slay them.

ALREADY THE KING OF THE SAINTS

Those favored of God with the opening of their eyes of understanding in the present time those who are now the Lord's consecrated people and "taught of God" may even now by the eye of faith anticipate the glories and honors that are to be rendered to the great Redeemer. These see Jesus as the King of glory already, and by faith they render to him the homage of their hearts. They need not be slain by the sword of his mouth nor by the arrows of his sharp reproofs. They on the contrary have the special hearing ear, and have heard the voice of God speaking peace through Jesus Christ. Theirs is a double blessing: not only will they have glory, honor and immortality at the coming of the King, as his Bride and joint-heir in the kingdom and its wonder-ful privileges but already they have ruling in their hearts the peace of God which passeth all understanding. Already they are privileged to enlist as soldiers of the cross and followers of the Lamb. Already they are walking in his footsteps and fighting a good fight, not against humanity but in its favor against the world, the flesh and the devil. It is their privilege to have assistances from the Captain of their salvation who is by and by to be the King of earth, the King of glory to the full extent of their necessity, grace sufficient in every time of need, so that they may come off conquerors, yea, more than conquerors, through him who bought us with his precious blood. Let us abide in his love, abide in his favor and abide in his companionship, loyal, faithful unto death, that we may be counted worthy to share with him in his kingdom and glory according to the good promises of his word.

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