St. Paul Enterprise, April 4, 1916


New York, April 2 Pastor Russell delivered a very interesting and logical address at the New York City Temple, W 63rd St., near Broadway, this evening, on a subject which has greatly confused people in the past. His text was, "For whom He did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren." Rom. 8:29 He said in part:

It seems very wonderful, dear friends, that our great Creator should so long ago have planned not only the blessing of the world, but also the High Calling of the Church. He foreknew us before the world was created, before we had come into existence. He knew the end from the beginning, as we on a small scale often do today. If a man would put up a great building, he would employ an architect to draw up plans and specifications, and in the plan everything would be arranged for beforehand. The size and the location of the various rooms, the character of the material to be used, etc., would all be foreknown and forestated, so that whoever would read the specifications, and see the architect's drawings, would know exactly what kind of building was to be erected. Just so our Creator is a great Architect and Builder; and His entire Plan for mankind was prearranged before the foundation of the world.

God has a special purpose in everything He has made. He has had a blessing in view for all His intelligent creatures. He has not been working in a hap-hazard manner, doubtful of the outcome of His plans and purposes, as it once seemed to us in our ignorance. It is very comforting to know that our Heavenly Father has infinite wisdom and power, as well as infinite justice and love; and that His glorious purposes cannot be thwarted or even delayed, but are grandly progressing to their completion. No opposition of man or demons can interfere with the glorious outworking of His great Plan of the Ages. Isa. 55:8-11; Eph. 1:9-12.

At one time many of us thought that the Devil had come into competition with God, and so opposed the Divine plans that the Almighty did not know just how to get around the matter, but tried first one way and then another. We supposed that somehow God would finally get His few children out of Satan's clutches, but that everything and everybody else would be burned up with literal fire, the unsaintly being confined in a place which we called Hell, to be tortured eternally. Now we see that we had very crude, confused ideas, especially when we tried to connect this thought with the Scriptural declaration that God had foreknown all this from before the foundation of the world. We are very thankful that all this darkness is scattered; and that we can now see why God has permitted evil, and how He [HGL810] will overrule all things in the end for the good, not only of the Church, but of the world.


According to the Bible, our great Creator predetermined first the creation of various ranks of angels and then the creation of man. All this was accomplished through the Logos, our Lord Jesus Christ in His pre-human state, as the Father's Agent. God knew that man would fall into sin. He knew that at the proper time He would send the Logos, His well-beloved Son, to redeem man. All this being known to God, He also foreknew that He would issue a special Call for a Church class to be associated with His Son as the Bride of Christ, for the judging, instructing and restoring of the race which that Son died to redeem.

We perceive that our Lord Jesus, now supremely exalted because of His obedience unto death (Philip. 2:8-11), is to be the second Adam, the second Father of the human race. He is to make good where the first Adam failed, and to recover him and his posterity as many of them as will to all that was lost in Eden.

Thus the Bible presents before us a beautiful picture a second Adam and a second Eve, the new Father and Mother of the race. The father is the one who generates the life; the mother nourishes the life that is generated by the father. So the work of the church when completed and glorified with Christ will be to care for, to nourish and to upbuild the human family, who will be re-created by Jesus Christ, their Redeemer. Step by step she will raise them up to perfection. What a marvelous Plan a Plan by which the Heavenly Father's likeness shall be restored to the human race! Oh, how glorious it is to have a God like this, One who is working all things according to the counsel of His own will! We can rest securely by faith, assured that our God knows what He is doing; and that His plans are all good, wise and benevolent.

At first we could only take the A, B, C, lessons; but as we have grown in love and intelligence concerning our God we know Him better, and are beginning to see lengths, breadths, heights and depths of His Love and Wisdom which surpass all human understanding. "Whom He did foreknow," says the Apostle, "He also did predestinate." At one time that word "predestinate" had a terrible sound to us. We said "Oh, yes; Calvin taught that God predestinated a few saints to be saved to Heavenly bliss, but that everybody else He predestinated to go to eternal torment."

But, dear friends, God has never predestinated anything of that kind. There is not even a hint in our text regarding predestination of the world. Our text refers only to a predestination of the true Church, a company who after they were called, would by faithfulness to the terms of their covenant make their calling and election sure. God has predestinated a certain class, to be composed of a definite number, for a special purpose. Whoever would be of this class must meet the required conditions.


This class is predestinated to be conformed to the image of God's dear Son. This is a grand predestination. It rests with us individually whether or not we shall thus conform ourselves. In this same Epistle the Apostle says to the Church, "Be not conformed to this world; but be ye transformed, by the renewing of your minds, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God." (Rom. 12:2) Nobody will be in that elect class who does not become conformed to the character likeness of God's dear Son. This Church of Christ is almost completed. The predetermined number 144,000 is about filled up. Every one of them will surely be a copy of Christ in character.

Since God has foreordained that He will have such a company, it follows that all of our experiences from the time that we have come into the Church will work favorably to us if we continue loyal. But if any who have been numbered amongst this class should become tired of the narrow way and should walk out of it, their names will be dropped, and others chosen to fill their places. There is absolutely no Scriptural authority for the doctrine held by some that none of the Elect can fall; in other words, "Once in grace, always in grace." The Bible abounds in warnings as to the danger of falling.

When we consecrated ourselves to the Lord through Christ, we made our covenant with God (Psa. 50:5), we were accepted through the merit of our great Substitute. Our Lord Jesus became our High Priest. We were begotten of God's holy Spirit, and then became New Creatures (2 Cor. 5:17) To all such God guarantees that so long as they abide in Christ, they shall be kept; and that all things shall work together for their good. If we remain faithful unto death, we shall have part in the first resurrection, Christ's resurrection, as members of His glorious Body. (Rev. 2:6) If we keep our covenant of sacrifice, if we keep our sacrifice upon the altar until it is finally consumed, we shall surely win the crown of life glory, honor and immortality. Keeping our covenant means to walk daily in the narrow way, to walk in the footsteps of Jesus.

The attainment of the character-likeness of Christ is a gradual work, an education. We cannot get it all at once. When first we are accepted into the family of God, we enter the School of Christ to receive daily lessons along this very line. By the Word of God and by the providences of life we are taught. Being imperfect, blemished by the fall, we cannot render perfect service to God, as did our Master; but we are to do our best to follow our great Pattern. Our loyalty is demonstrated in our wills, our hearts; and our wills are manifested in our works up to the point of our ability. Any shortcoming, any mistake or sin on our part would not be an act of the New Creature; for it cannot sin, being begotten from Above. The wrong-doing would be of the old nature, the fallen flesh.


The new mind, working in us to will and to do of God's good pleasure, grows stronger day by day, hour by hour, and makes us more and more copies of His dear Son. But in order to have this new mind grow stronger, trials are necessary. How could we know that we are developing, if we had not trials to demonstrate the matter? As we pray for patience, meekness, love and various other fruits of the holy Spirit, we are sure to have trials along these lines, to demonstrate our growth and to develop us further in each of these directions. Only by continued and earnest effort, [HGL811] only by struggling and prayer and the study of the Word of God, can we grow as New Creatures in Christ.

God answers our prayers for more of His holy Spirit, by giving us experiences whereby we may have a larger measure of the likeness of Christ. And we should rejoice in this; for by no other means can we be developed and proven. We need patience, meekness, gentleness, faith, long-suffering, brotherly kindness, love. It takes time to develop these qualities. We desire to be fitted for the Kingdom. But what kind of characters will be acceptable? The Church is to govern the affairs of the world for a thousand years; and how could anyone be qualified for such a work who had not learned the necessary lessons? The Church is to govern the affairs of the world for a thousand years; and how could anyone be qualified for such a work who had not learned the necessary lessons? Those, and those only, who have developed the necessary qualities will be fitted for so exalted a position. We must learn patience before we shall be able to teach patience to others. We must become loving, kind and meek before we can teach these graces to the world.


We might sum up all of our trials under two general heads; faith and loyalty. Faith in our Lord Jesus is one of the great tests not merely a belief that He was the Son of God, but a different kind of faith from that of intellectual assurance. We must develop faith in the precious promises of God and in His loving care. Our Lord Jesus assured us that if we are faithful in that which is least, we shall be faithful in much. In all our experiences with the brethren, in our business affairs and in our dealings with the world, we are to learn the required lessons.

We are ever to recognize God First, and to remember that we have given ourselves to Him. We are to recognize His hand in all the affairs of our life and to believe His promise that all things are working together for our good. Whoever has this faith will have a rest of heart and mind. When difficulties arise, his first thought will be, "What lesson has God for me in this experience?" The Lord's people are not to think, "This person has opposed my plans and has brought me this trouble;" but they should say to themselves, "My Father knows all about this difficulty, and has permitted it for my good. He will overrule it all."

If circumstances so shape themselves that we are obliged to change our residence, we are not to feel, "I do not wish to make this change. I prefer to continue just where I am." Rather we are to think, "If the Lord wishes me to make a change, it is all right; for I know that His way is best, and that this experience will work out for my good." Our Lord Jesus always recognized the Father's will and gladly bowed to it, whether He understood it or not. We are to be followers of Christ; we are to have His mind. There is no lesson that the Lord's people need more than this lesson of implicit trust in God. 2 Pet. 1:12-14

Let us never forget that nothing can come to us unless it is permitted by the Lord. Let us look beyond our environments and say, as our Master did, "The cup which My Father hath poured for me, shall I not drink it?" He did not say, "Why do the people treat Me so? Why do the rulers scheme against Me?" On the contrary, He accepted all His painful experiences in perfect faith and trust, as the cup which the Father had poured for Him to drink.


Now what about our loyalty? The loyalty of the New Creation is loyalty to God. This means loyalty to the principles of righteousness for which He stands. The first of these is justice, the very foundation of His Throne. The Master gave us a beautiful picture of justice when He gave us the golden rule: "As ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise." (Luke 6:31) This is indeed a golden rule. We could not properly represent God unless we practised the law of our great King the Ruler of the Universe. This is His first requirement loyalty to the principle of justice.

In Rev. 11:1 St. John was given a reed, or rod, with which to measure the Temple of God. That Temple, which is the Church, is now being measured by the golden rule, here called a reed, or rod. If we are earnestly endeavoring to apply the golden rule in every affair of life in the home, in Church, in dealing with the world, then we are practicing the principle of justice. Each of us is to do the measuring for himself. We are not to measure one another. Only in an extreme case is the Church to do the measuring. (Matt. 18:15-17) We are to judge or measure our thoughts as well as our conduct by this rule; for "as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he."

But loyalty to God goes beyond the golden rule. It includes supreme love to God, love to the brethren, love to the whole world, even our enemies. Our love for God causes us to wish to represent Him properly, as His ambassadors. (Philip. 2:15) We are under the banner of Jesus Christ. This means that we are to fight against all manner of sin and error not with carnal weapons, but with the sword of the Spirit. We are to fight the good fight of faith against the weaknesses of our flesh, striving to bring ourselves into a condition where we may glorify God in every act, word and thought. This is loyalty.


This predestinated class, the church of God, has been in process of preparation for more than eighteen hundred years. Now we have come to the close of the Age. The Church of today has had wonderful favors from God. We have Bibles and Bible Helps such as were never before possessed. We have various translations of the Scriptures, good lights, shorter hours of labor, affording more time for study, etc. In this time of special blessing and advantage, however, we have correspondingly more trials, as we should expect.

Moreover, we are favored with a fuller understanding of God's great plan, with its times and seasons of fulfillment, than the Church has ever had before. Therefore we should be better able to use skillfully the Sword of the Spirit than were our brethren of an earlier day. Surely we should have on securely "the whole armor of God." (Eph. 6:12-18) We need every piece, that we may be able to stand. A great fight is on now, at the end of the Age. There is much contention against "the faith once delivered to the saints." We must not only stand ourselves, but we must help others to stand also. Thus shall we be conformed to the image of God's dear Son, and fitted for our exaltation to bless the whole groaning creation.

Prev   Next