St. Paul Enterprise, September 12, 1916


Los Angeles, California, September 10'Pastor Russell gave an excellent discourse today to the I S B A Convention which is in session here. He spoke from the text: "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in Heaven is perfect." He said in part: [HGL844] Every child should be like his father; that is to say, if mankind were normal, and every child well born, such would be the natural course of things. The love between the father and the mother of a child would then tend to produce that very desirable result. The father would be so noble, that he would be the mother's ideal, and the child would be in the father's likeness. Hence when our Lord speaks of His followers as being like their Father, He implies that we have been begotten of the Holy Spirit, have become children of the Highest One, our Heavenly Father, and are developing His character-likeness.

We are not to understand that the Lord Jesus was addressing everybody, in the words of our text. No; we are to make a wide distinction between Jesus' disciples and the world. We remember that Jesus said to some, "Ye are of your father the Devil; for his works ye do." (John 8:44) And when we get the right focus on the matter, we see that, as the Apostle tells us, "The whole world lieth in the Evil One." (1 John 5:19. R V) We see that Adam in the beginning was a son of God, as the Bible declares. Luke 3:38

God created man in His own image, as we read. The first man, Adam, was God-like in the sense that his mind and his heart were predisposed to righteousness. Man was not made physically in God's likeness; for God is not a man. Man was made in the mental and moral likeness of his Maker. Thus is was that God placed man on trial, with the provision that he might maintain this perfect life by obedience; that then God would direct him as His child; and that Adam's children would all be God's children, because born in their father's likeness who was created in the Heavenly Father's likeness. And thus it would continue all down through the ages. Instead of being more or less weak and fallen, all human beings would then have been glorious sons of God.


The Bible tells us that although God permitted man to go into sin and then cut him off from sonship, nevertheless He had sympathy for His creatures and did not design to let them go without making a provision for their recovery. But first He would deal with them as a race, and permit them to have a large experience with sin, sorrow, death, and all the penalties of wrong-doing, of neglecting the Heavenly Father, of losing His likeness. That large experience they have had during the past six thousand years. Rom. 1:18-32

Thus man's sin has brought on the whole trouble. This mental and moral perversity impressed itself upon their children yet unborn. They were generated imperfect in mind and body, with a decided bent toward sin. Then subsequent training and environment of sin had their part in accentuating the already existing conditions. So we see, as St. Paul points out, that the whole world lost God's image to a very large degree. They are not at all what we would expect if they were children of God.

But the Bible tells us that notwithstanding the world's present depravity Jehovah has a glorious Plan for their recovery. Everything that He will do for mankind is to be done indirectly, through Christ Jesus. To this end Jesus died, became the world's Redeemer. As the Bible declares, He is to be the Purchaser of all the world, paying the death penalty of Father Adam. He buys back all mankind by giving His own life for their ransom. It was to give this Ransom-price that He left His glorious pre-human station and became a man. Now He is highly exalted to the Father's right hand of power. Shortly He is to be further glorified by the Father and given control of the whole earth and all of the human race, that He may carry out God's great Purpose as God framed it from the beginning. Our Lord Jesus is now the express image of the Father's person, fully desirous of carrying out all that the Father has purposed.


Jehovah's Plan is broad, taking in the whole world of mankind since Adam's creation. All are provided for in the great Purchase Price furnished by the death of "the Man Christ Jesus," that all may return to God's favor if they will. This provision will in due time be brought to the attention of every human being. Very few in the present life have had their attention really drawn to this matter. Some have heard a church bell ring or have heard some hymns sung, or have perhaps read somewhat in the Bible with their minds holden. As a rule these things have very little effect upon men.

The Bible speaks of people having ears and yet not being able to hear. The whole world is deaf and blind as respects God's great Plan for a future Restitution, to be accomplished by the Heavenly Father through Jesus Christ during the Millennial Reign the time that God has arranged for giving the world its opportunity of coming back into harmony with Him. St. Paul speaks particularly of this matter. He says, "For the earnest expectation of the creation waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. For the creation was made subject to frailty, not willingly, but by reason of Him who hath subjected the same in hope, because the creation itself shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now." Rom. 8:19-22. R V

Man was made subject to frailty away back in Adam's day, when he fell from his position as a son of God. Mankind were born frail in the moral texture of their character, frail in every way. Our Common Version reads, "subject to vanity" but the Revised Version translation, "frailty," seems clearer, though both conditions prevail. Mankind were thus subjected, not willingly; that is to say, it was not their will that they should be born weak in mind, in body, in morals, but it was "by reason of Him who hath subjected the same in hope." In other words, God permitted man's fall and its results, knowing that it would be overruled in His Purpose for the everlasting good of all who would be rightly exercised by the bitter experience with sin and death, and all their accompanying miseries. There is a large hope for man in respect to this matter.

This hope is in Christ. Mankind now under the bondage of corruption, are to be delivered, says the Apostle. They are now slaves to sin and to Satan, the Usurper. But their shackles are to be broken, and whosoever will may then go free. They are not delivered yet. Only a few'the Church- [HGL845] have a measure of deliverance now; and these will, we believe, soon be fully delivered. God is saving the Church first. But the world is still in corruption, going down lower every day. But God declares that the world shall be delivered. He has provided the great thousand-year Day of Christ for the deliverance of humanity from the bondage of corruption.


The creation is to be delivered "into the glorious liberty of sons of God." The whole human family may become sons of God, sons on the human plane. They will not be sons of God, however, until they become perfect, as was Father Adam before his fall. God will not recognize any imperfect being as His son. The purpose of the incoming Millennial Age, now at the door, is to bring whosoever will back to the original perfection as it existed in Eden, plus all the valuable experiences of the past six thousand years. Men will not be sons of God until the close of the Messianic Reign of a thousand years. During that period they will be gradually rising up, up, up, to a full resurrection. That is the meaning of the word resurrection a full raising up from death. All who give heed to the Lord Jesus and the teachings of the glorified Church will gradually get rid of all sins, all mental, moral and physical weaknesses and disabilities, and will be come eventually perfect.

At the close of His Reign, Christ will deliver the entire world over to the Father, all who refused to come under the terms of the New Covenant in Christ having been destroyed in the Second Death. Then mankind will be tested as Adam was tested in the beginning. Now men for the most part sin through ignorance and weakness. But then there will be no excuse; for all will be perfect, fully enlightened and able to do perfectly. Satan will be "loosed for a little season," and permitted to try again to lead mankind astray. The Scriptures inform us that all who then yield to sin and disobey God shall be destroyed by "fire from heaven." Satan will also then be destroyed finally. Then God will have a clean Universe. All sinners, human and spiritual, will have been cut off in death.

What a glorious prospect lies before the whole world! No more will mankind be bound by sin, weakness and ignorance. They will have fully learned what the Bible says all should learn- "the exceeding sinfulness of sin." They will profit eternally by the great lessons which they will have learned in their experience with sin and its terrible effects, all of which experience our first parents lacked. How much these lessons will mean to thousands of millions! There will be no danger that they will take such a step as Adam and Eve took in their simplicity. Mankind will then know just what is good and what is evil. They will be fully able to discriminate between right and wrong.


Everything that God has decreed and directed is right and makes for the good and the happiness of His creatures; and everything contrary to the will of God is wrong and produces evil somewhere to somebody. When the whole world shall have learned well this lesson, it will be something worth knowing. The liberty then granted to these sons of God will not be freedom from obligation to do right. No one ever will be free from God or from responsibility to God. Everybody will always by under obligation to do right. God places Himself under this obligation. "Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?" says the Word. (Gen. 18:25) He certainly will. In the case of our Lord Jesus, one of the severest tests which the Father placed upon Him was the test of loyalty to the principles of righteousness. "Because thou hast loved righteousness, and hast hated iniquity, therefore God, even Thy God, hath anointed Thee with the oil of gladness above Thy fellows," was God's commendation to Him. Psa. 45:7; Heb. 1:9

The Bible gives a beautiful picture of Jesus' exaltation for faithfulness. the whole world must yet come to the heart attitude of the perfect man, Christ Jesus. Those who refuse to do so will be cut off. Men must learn to love and appreciate everything that is right. They must love justice, mercy, and every other good quality of character. They must learn to hate injustice and impurity. They must root out all anger, malice, envy, strife. they must love and develop to perfection gentleness, kindness, meekness, humility, patience, self-control, love. they must have God's own character-likeness.


This same principle holds good with the Church of Christ but operates differently; for it is a different part of God's Plan that relates to the Church. We do not need to wait until the Millennium to become sons of God. As the Apostle says, "Beloved, now are we the sons of God." As the Apostle says, "Beloved, now are we the sons of God." (1 John 3:2) By an arrangement peculiarly for this Gospel Age we are made sons of God in advance of the world and on a different plane a spiritual plane. The Church is an altogether new creation. they give up their earthly life to become associated with Jesus their Lord in His Heavenly inheritance. As He sacrificed Himself for the world, so do these, through the imputation of His sacrificial merit. they share His sufferings in order to share His glory. Not only during the Millennial Reign, but throughout eternal ages, they are to share His honor and glory, as "the Bride, the Lamb's Wife" and Joint-heir.

It is to the Church of Christ that our text is addressed. These alone being sons of God at this time, these alone have God as their Father. He is not the Father of the world of sinners. The Church have been chosen from the sinner world, and have been brought nigh by the blood of Christ. They have been washed, cleansed, and covered with His robe of righteousness. They have died as human beings, and have been begotten of the Holy Spirit as Spirit beings. they are to be "born of the Spirit" in the First Resurrection, if faithful unto death. They are members of Christ's mystical Body. At their begetting as New Creatures in Christ they are only embryo spirit beings. They have merely the new mind, which must grow and develop into the character-likeness of their Father in Heaven, even as their Master had this character-likeness.

They are to grow in love and in all the fruits and graces of the Holy Spirit. But they cannot grow without spiritual food and exercise, even as a human child needs food, exercise and instruction in order to grow strong mentally and physically. The basis of our strength of character is our [HGL846] will; and as we seek to exercise our will in harmony with the expressed will of the Lord for us we grow up into Christ our Head in all things. We are instructed by the Master to be perfect even as our Father is perfect. We are to become thus perfect in character, in will. We are to be like Him in our minds.

It is the New Creature that is to be like God that is to be perfect, not the flesh. The flesh will never be like God except in the sense that we as New Creatures compel our fleshly body to serve us, to render service to the Lord as our instrument. We shall never succeed in making our body perfect, for God does not purpose to give us restitution, as He will the world a little later. Our human body is merely our servant while we wait for "our house which is from Heaven," our glorious spiritual body.

We are to have the mind of Christ. His mind was to do wholly the Father's will. Have you the mind of Christ to the degree that you are willing that the doing of God's will shall cost you something? This is a very important point. The Lord will not ask you to attain this too soon; He will doubtless bring you to the place where it will cost you a good deal before you become a member of the Body of Christ in glory. You must prove that your heart is right and fully loyal to God. "Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God." But we are to bring our bodies as fully into conformity to the perfect Law of the Lord as we are able by His grace.

When we become copies of God's dear son, we are fulfilling our Lord's injunction to become perfect even as our Father in Heaven is perfect. We become copies of Christ in character. God loves us when we are babes in Christ. But He does not wish us to remain babes. We are expected to grow and develop. If we fail to grow properly, we cannot remain pleasing to our Father in Heaven. We must come to the place where we shall love righteousness and hate iniquity, whatever its form. Otherwise we shall not be granted an entrance into the Kingdom.

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