|J. H. PATON||ALMONT, MICH.|
|W. I. MANN||SWISSVALE, PA.|
|B. W. KEITH||DANSVILLE, N.Y.|
|H. B. RICE||W. OAKLAND, CAL.|
|A. D. JONES||PITTSBURGH, PA.|
"Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird." Rev. 18:2.
The word "Babylon" means confusion. It is here used symbolically, since the literal city by that name was at the time of this writing "a mass of ruins." The literal city was doubtless a figure or type of the symbolic city, and much of the threatening of Isa. 21, and Jer. 50, and 51, is unquestionably of two-fold application and fulfillment: first, upon literal Babylon, the type and more fully upon symbolic Babylon, the antitype. Both are called "Babylon the Great." Both rule over the kings of the earth. The literal was built upon the river Euphrates and derived wealth and splendor from this source. "O thou that dwellest upon many waters." Jer. 51:13. The symbolic is said to be "seated upon many waters – peoples, nations &c.," from which it derives its support.
The fall of the literal was by the turning aside of the waters, and the drying up of the Euphrates. And the symbolic river Euphrates is said, in connection "with the fall of symbolic Babylon, to be dried up." Rev. 16:12.
Now let us inquire what is represented by the symbol. As originally planted by Jesus and his apostles the church was a "chaste virgin espoused to one husband, even Christ." For some time she maintained her purity and suffered persecution of the world, but gradually became enamored of the world and the prospects it offered, and finally united with it, constituting the system of Papacy. This system church, living in union with the world constitutes "the abomination" – "the harlot," and the name Babylon, meaning confusion is applicable because the world is called a beast and the church a woman. This then was the union of the woman and the beast which is expressly forbidden in type. (Lev. 18:23. "It is confusion.") We feel sure that we have the name Babylon properly applied since in Rev. 17 we see the church seated on the beast – i.e. supported by and controlling the world. "And in her forehead was a name written, Mystery, Babylon the Great, the mother of harlots and abomination of the earth." Rev. 17:5.
The following verse shows that in her apostate condition she was Anti – (against) Christ, for she was drunken with the blood of the saints and of the martyrs of Jesus. Mark me – I do not say that all the members of the Catholic church became abominations to the Lord, but that the Papacy as a SYSTEM – church-state organization is here pictured. And we must go further and implicate, (not the individual members, but the church systems) other churches united to the Empires of earth. Every church claiming to be a chaste virgin espoused to Christ, but in reality united to and supported by the world (beast) we must condemn as being in scripture language a harlot church. To illustrate: The Episcopal is the established church of England – the Greek church, of Russia – the Presbyterian church, of Scotland – the Lutheran, of Norway, &c. The true church composed of all who love the Lord Jesus in truth and sincerity whether in or out of these organizations, who wait for the coming Bridegroom, he recognizes; but she that is joined to another he calls an abomination – a harlot. These are off-shoots from the Papacy. She was a harlot and the mother of harlots and we mean no disrespect to fellow christians when we term their church systems the daughters, and therefore parts of the system of confusion – Babylon.
But you will say – Our churches in this country particularly, are not parts of the Babylon, because they are not church-state organizations. Wait a moment; Let us inquire: Is our church – Baptist, Methodist or which ever, is it a chaste virgin or not? Does she live with the world, or separate from the world? We believe that every true church member loyal to the coming Bridegroom, feels with shame and pain that the nominal church is unfaithful to her espousal and is locked in the embrace of the world.
She still bears the name of Christ and claims to be his. She claims to be desirous of knowing and doing what would please the Lord, but actually studies and does what will please the world. She has a form of Godliness but really is far from God-like-ness. Who studies as carefully, or obeys more implicitly the world's dictates as to propriety of dress and etiquette than professors of Christianity? Everything is done with an eye to the world's approval. The sermon must be such as will please and entertain carnally minded men of the world, for they give tone and character and backing to the organization. These must be trustees and stewards and be made to feel an interest in her and give largely of their wealth. No matter how obtained, wealth she wants and wealth she must have. She has commenced the adaptation of herself to the ideas of the world, and cannot go back. She felt that she must erect a grand church building with the tallest spire, and that every inch she added to the spire and every dollar added to the cost of building would help draw to her bosom some of the world's children with bags of gold. She lives luxuriously with the world, and is supported by the world. Her homage to the world becomes almost a necessity when it is remembered that he really built the temple of fashion in which she professes to worship God but really bows to mammon. The world though caressing and flattering, wants the interest on the church mortgage, and if the church cannot think of a way to get it scripturally, he has plans for festivals, grab games and church theatricals. She hesitates for a moment only, to thus disgrace and prostitute herself. The money must be raised. It would be useless to ask the Lord for it since she disregarded his wishes by contracting the debt. Necessity knows no law, and though the pure ones rich in faith, protest and weep for her condition, yet they are the poor of this world, and the poor of the worldly church seldom occupy a church office of any influence, and their protests and entreaties are drowned by the exultant songs and shouts of the gay company who "glory in their shame." Enjoying the world's smile they exclaim: "We are rich and increased with goods and have need of nothing, knowing not that they are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked." Rev. 3:17.
Yes we believe the nominal church of to-day to be the Babylon of our text, which falls. It commenced to be a condition of confusion with the mother and it continues to the end of the age. The church, anxious for numbers and money, has offered every inducement to get members, particularly those of wealth. Socials are arranged at which the wives and daughters are expected (even though followers of Jesus) to so dress and act as to decoy and captivate worldly and carnally minded men. Soon such a one is called brother and urged to join the church. At first he feels shocked at being asked to become a church member. He has heard of people being converted, having a change of heart &c., but soon settles down to the thought that he is as good as others, that morality is the needed thing, and finding it to be a passport to the best society and an aid to business he does not long refuse. Now he is a member of church in good and regular standing; perhaps begins to like and feel interested in church affairs; becomes an officer in the Sunday school. Now he is looked upon as one of the principal [R45 : page 2] members, a bell sheep, a representative of the flower of the flock. Who shall measure the baneful influence of this wolf in sheep's clothing upon the true sheep and lambs, supplanting truths with errors, ignoring true faith and trust and fostering and encouraging pride and worldliness, to say nothing of the effects upon the world when, it may be after having been years with the flock, this influential member is discovered to be a thief, who for years has systematically stolen from his employers, who had the utmost confidence in him because of his church connections? So the whole flock becomes suspected of being hypocrites, until now very few business men consider it any recommendation to an employee, to know that he is a christian. Nor should this be wondered at when we reflect that if any large defalcation or financial irregularity occurs you will find yourself as well as the infidel inquiring – Of what church is he a prominent member?
Jesus prophesied of this in parable when he said – "The kingdom of heaven (church) is like to a grain of mustard seed which a man took and sowed in his field, which, when grown, is the greatest among herbs and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof." Matt. 13:31. Verses 4 and 19 show us that the birds represent the devil. The church had a small beginning but afterwards spread out into many branches, and the representatives of the devil – hypocrites – wolves in sheep's clothing – came and lodged among the branches. But our text says: "Babylon is fallen." What is the fall and when will it occur? The fall we believe, will be from her exalted position of control and respect with the world, to one of ignominy and contempt. The fall we expect will not be instantaneous; it will have a beginning and will gather momentum as it falls until it is dashed to pieces. As to when her fall is due, we can perhaps learn something by examining the parallels between the Jewish and the Gospel church. As has been shown heretofore, the Law was a shadow of the Gospel, and the Jewish [R46 : page 2] church under the law, a pattern of the christian church under the gospel; the one on the fleshly, the other on the spiritual plane, each called Israel.
We know how their age ended with the advent of Christ in the flesh, so he is to be present in the end of this age, a spiritual body. We know that he called the end of that age a "harvest" to the fleshly house and that He also says: "The harvest is the end of this world" (age). You will recollect that their age from the death of Jacob (Israel) to Christ's baptism – the beginning of their harvest – was 1841½ years, and that the parallels show that the harvest of this age and Christ's presence (a spiritual body) was due to commence in the fall of 1874, or 1841½ years, from the spring of A.D. 33 page 2 when Jesus (our Israel) died.
As the proclamation of Jesus as the present king and bridegroom was made to fleshly Israel for three and one-half years from his baptism to his crucifixion but heeded by but few of that church, so we believe a similar work was done in the midst of the Gospel church with similar results. As had been foretold by the prophet: "He shall be a stone of stumbling to both houses of Israel. Both stumbled at the manner of his coming. The Jew expected splendor and majesty, overlooking the fact that he must first be the man of sorrows and acquainted with grief, and by the grace of God taste death for every man.
The Gospel church expected to see him coming in all his glory, whereas scriptures teach that when he appears in glory we will be with him and appear with him; that "The Lord my God shall come and all thy saints with thee." They overlooked the fact that he taught that he would first harvest the earth and separate wheat from tares – true children from hypocrites – before he would cause them to "shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father." Many have stumbled, only a few recognize that we are living "in the days of the son of man." (Luke 17:26.) [R46 : page 2] As at the end of his three-and-one-half year's ministry, Jesus wept over that church, gave them up and said: "Your house is left unto you desolate," so we believe that at the parallel point of time – the spring of 1878, the nominal gospel church was given up and their house left desolate. Until the harvest of their age, all outward Jews – "wheat and chaff" were spoken to and of as Israel but Jesus did a separating work – "His fan is in his hand" to winnow the chaff from among the wheat and when the work of separation is accomplished the wheat only is recognized. So here true and false grow side by side in the church and together they are nominally "The kingdom of Heaven" – "Let both grow together until the harvest" – but in the harvest of this age "He will gather out of his kingdom all things that offend," &c. Matt. 13:30,41. But since the spring of 1878 we believe that the nominal church is cast off and now only the wheat – "the little flock" – is to be considered the church and we believe this to be the date of the beginning of the fall of Babylon church, the parallel to the date of the fall of the church of the Scribes and Pharisees – hypocrites, who encompassed sea and land to make one proselyte." Their fall was gradual, so is Babylon's.
This rejection of the nominal – Babylon church – by the Lord seems to be illustrated in the picture of the church in its seven stages. Rev. 3:16. The seventh or last boasting of her being rich, increased in goods, &c., is pronounced by the Lord poor, naked, miserable, wretched and blind, and is spewed from his mouth. Once she was the mouth-piece of God; he spoke and taught through her, but now she is spewed out, "Babylon is fallen." Who cannot recognize that Babylon is now falling in the esteem of the world, which points to its children as more honorable, honest and faithful than the many Pastors and great ones in the church, of whose fall into great sins we hear almost daily.
There was much wheat in the Jewish church, when given up, so too there is much wheat among the chaff and tares of the Babylon church. As God cared for and separated every true grain of wheat in that given up church (among them was Paul) and called them out into the true Gospel church, so now in this harvest he cares for every grain and now calls to them by his word – Rev. 18:4. "COME OUT OF HER MY PEOPLE, that ye be not partakers of her sins and that ye receive not of her plagues."
Do you advise us to disconnect ourselves from the church? I advise you to be separate from the world. If the church with which you are connected, lives in adulterous union with the world, you must, if you would keep your garments white, leave her, "hating even the garments spotted by the flesh." Jude 23. With her condition, you can have no fellowship nor communion and the words of Paul 2 Cor. 6:15,18, would apply to you: "What concord hath Christ with belial? What agreement hath the temple of God with idols? For ye are the temple of the living God."... "Wherefore come out from among them and be ye separate saith the Lord and touch not the unclean thing, and I will receive you." If on the contrary you associate with a company who live separate from, and endeavor to keep themselves unspotted from the world and bearing the fruits of the spirit – meekness, gentleness, patience, Godliness, brotherly-kindness &c., be assured it is no part of Babylon. "Forsake not the assembling of yourselves together as the manner of some is, and so much the more as ye see the day approaching," but, "building up yourselves in the most holy faith ...keep yourselves in the love of God." But we have a standing as individuals aside from our church standing. As individuals we have become joined to Christ and recognize him as our head and director. We have professed to have died to the world and to have become alive toward God through Jesus. Is our life conduct in harmony with our covenant with Christ? Are we entirely his? Is it our meat and drink to do his will? The profession is vain unless it is true. "His servants you are, to whom you render service." Our day is one of peculiar temptation from the world. If in business, it seems to require every moment and every energy, and we are in danger of being swallowed up by the cares of this life which press upon us every moment. Remember Jesus' words: "Ye cannot serve God and Mammon." – "Be not overcharged with the cares of this life." Living in the world be not of it.
Death has laid our brother low. He died at his home, Edinboro, Pa., Oct. 9th, 1879. Though an event not entirely unexpected, since he has been seriously ill for some time, yet his death is a heavy blow to his many friends abroad as well as at home. He was beloved and esteemed by his fellow townsmen of all denominations as well as by the congregation of which he was pastor. He had been a faithful under-shepherd, ever holding before his hearers, as the great incentive to holiness and purity of life, that which filled his own soul with joy and peace and helped him to live "above the world" – viz: The appearing of the Heavenly Bridegroom – The King of Glory, and our gathering together unto him. Our brother was a man of marked ability, and surrendered bright prospects of worldly and political honors to be permitted to preach Christ, when the glories and beauties of the word of God dawned upon his heart. The truth cost him much yet he bought it gladly.
The funeral services (Sunday following) were held at "Normal Hall," it being more commodious than any of the churches of the place, which through respect were closed, the pastors taking part in the services of the occasion.
The brother's dying request, that the editor of this paper should preach his funeral sermon, was complied with. About twelve hundred persons attended the funeral services, thus giving evidence of the high esteem in which our brother was held.
IF thou art a vessel of gold, and thy brother but of wood, be not high-minded. It is God that maketh thee to differ. The more bounty God shows the more humility he requires. Those mines that are richest are deepest.
Remember, too, that now ("the evil day"), is not so much a time of attack and advance, as of watching and withstanding the attacks of error. "Take unto you the whole armor that you may be able to withstand in the evil day."
Those who oppose the vicarious offering of Christ, admit, of course, that he died, and to give an explanation of the cause of His death falls upon them, and it is attempted. They deny that in any sense He died in our stead, and one statement made in explanation is: Christ became one of us, to share with us the ills of life, and die like us for the same reason that we die, because being flesh, and the flesh life being forfeited, he must die.
The same teacher says: "A little Scripture is worth more than a great deal of reasoning." We accept this as true, because God's word is based on the infinite philosophy, which is not always revealed, and even if it were stated in words would be so far above the grasp of finite minds, that it would still remain unrevealed. He withholds the philosophy of some facts which are clearly revealed. If it be true that Christ died as one of us merely, we must infer that it was as necessary that he should die for himself, as that we should die for ourselves, on the principle of the same philosopher (?): "Each one must suffer his own penalty." Against such reasoning we are willing to set the word of the Lord and abide the issue.
"And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off BUT NOT FOR HIMSELF." Dan. 9:26. It has been attempted to make it appear that Christ's sacrifice consisted in giving up his glory with the Father, in becoming a man. But even if it could be proven (which it cannot) that the Word becoming flesh was a cutting off, or a death, still that imaginary death could not be the one referred to in the above text. Those weeks, as has often been shown, reached to the baptism of Jesus, where he being Christ-ened or more properly, in English, Anointed, he was manifested as the Messiah. And after the weeks Messiah shall be cut off.
"He was cut off out of the land of the living: (not for himself) for the transgression of my people was he stricken." Isa. 53:8.
"For His life is taken from the earth." Acts 8:33.
His voluntary condescension in laying aside His glory and riches, to become a man, or to take the body prepared for sacrifice, is an important fact, and as an expression of the love of Christ, one which we delight to see and present to others; but the taking of the body to be offered, is surely not to be confounded with the "offering of the body of Jesus Christ." Heb. 10:10. "Being found in fashion as a man, he became obedient unto death even the death of the cross." Phil. 2:8. We are lower than the angels, "And we see Jesus made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death,... that he by the grace of God might taste death for every man" (but not for himself). Heb. 2:9. The man died, he became a man for that purpose.
"There is one God and one Mediator between God and men – the MAN Christ Jesus, who gave himself (the man) a ransom for all," &c. (but not for Himself). 1 Tim. 2:5,6. The ransom or price of anything always takes the place of the thing bought, and in that sense Christ gave his flesh life for the deliverance of man from death. Heb. 2:14,15. In the same sense that He is our Price, He is our Substitute. If a man knows not in what sense He was our Ransom or Price, he cannot see in Christ our Substitute.
Adam is the natural man. He lost his life, the natural life. When he forfeited his life, we being in him forfeited ours, and "so death passed upon all for in him all have sinned." To redeem Adam, secures the recovery of all. Christ takes Adam's place, and thus the place of all, for Adam represents all. As Adam was a natural man and lost his natural or flesh life, the Redeemer must become a man in order that he might have a flesh life to give as Ransom. Hence He took our nature, and for the purpose named. Heb. 2:14,16. Here is the point where Christ needed more than Adam. Adam had but one nature – the human, while Christ had two – the human and Divine. In Christ's earth life the human was manifest in form, but the Divine indwelling was the power, and "glory as of the only begotten of the Father." John 1:14. In Christ's risen and glorified life He wears the Divine form or image of His Father. The flesh life of Christ satisfied the claim as a Ransom, but the Divine secured the resurrection and change to a spiritual body or form.
Had Christ been merely human his death would have been as Adam's, but a Mighty One is provided who could give away all that Adam, and all in him, had lost, and yet have an infinite fullness of life. "He was put to death in the flesh, but made alive by the Spirit." 1 Pet. 3:18. The Ransom secures man's recovery or reconciliation, but Christ's Divine life imparted to us secures eternal salvation. "Reconciled by His death, saved by His life." Rom. 5:10. Thus Christ is the Redeemer, and also the second Adam, or head of a new and Divine race. Oh the fullness of Christ! Man's life lost, if not redeemed must have been lost eternally, and man's life is redeemed, but Christ's flesh life was not redeemed, it was given up forever. He gave it as man's Substitute. But was not Christ's flesh preserved and made alive? Yes, but not made alive by the flesh life, but by the Spirit as shown above. When it was raised it was made spiritual, for He was the "First Born from the dead." "And that which is born of the spirit is spirit." Jno. 3:6. As of Him so are all who are made partakers of His Divine nature, their mortal bodies will be made alive, but like His, "it is raised a spiritual body." If a mortal body quickened is of necessity mortal still, then indeed an enemy reconciled may be an enemy still, (Rom. 5:10) as is claimed by some. But if that is true then a vile body changed must be vile still, and when God converts the unconverted, they will be unconverted still.
The same writer who says Christ died because He was mortal, also says He died to get rid of His flesh, and show us the way into the holiest and that He went through as the First and our Forerunner, the last of which is true; but if as the same writer assumes Christ and the Saints are all raised in the flesh and changed afterward, then how much does dying help them to get rid of the flesh? Are such inconsistencies the marks of a "clean theology?" Why do men continue to die if Christ is Substitute. He died to make men alive. He found them counted dead. Practically the work of Christ converts death into a sleep, for all who die. Sleep implies waking. Absolute death knows no waking. We have the word of Jesus that "The maid is not dead but sleepeth," and "Lazarus sleepeth." They were to wake. In the statement "Man does not die," the word die is used in the same sense as Jesus used it, and those who cavil at the statement know what is meant, and believe the same themselves. Let them settle it with the Master. He gained the power to deliver from death when he died. Heb. 2:14,15. But he does not use that power (only in a few special cases) until the "Times of Restitution." The plan is to save men first, and bring them to the knowledge of the truth afterward. So in "due time" the fact that Christ gave himself a Ransom for all will be testified. 1 Tim. 2:4,6. Men born in that age will not even "fall asleep" for Adam's sin, and it will not be so difficult for them to believe in Substitution. They will realize that the Ransom paid is what prevents the original sentence passed upon all, from being executed upon them. Now, because we are exceptions to the rule, i.e. get the light or the knowledge of the truth before the "due time," it seems more difficult to catch the idea of the Ransom. As we are now counted dead in Adam before we die, so we are counted redeemed in Christ, and we are dealt with in regard to the truth as if we had actually been dead and raised again. This is why those who now become partakers of the Divine nature are not raised in the flesh, like the rest of mankind, who have not heard the Gospel, but having here, like their Head, voluntarily crucified the flesh with its affections and lusts, are raised a spiritual body, and to a share in His work of restoring and enlightening the world. The world of mankind will be raised in the same kind of life that Adam lost, and by the knowledge of the truth be begotten to a higher life. If they obey the law of that higher life, they will never die, but will be changed into the immortal state. If they disobey they must die – the second death. Some talk of the necessity of death as if a change from mortality to immortality were death. An egg is not lost that develops into a chicken; a grub does not die that changes into a butterfly; "Enoch was translated that he should not see death."
Those who die in the future age will be as an egg with a germ of life implanted and begun to hatch, and then removed from proper heat and moisture. No man will die eternally for Adam's sin. Christ hath redeemed us once for all. And he has redeemed all. This salvation by Christ's death does not secure spiritual life for any, but it makes it possible for all. The knowledge of the truth, which is the begetting power, is the gift of God to all. But when the new life by the Spirit of Truth is begun, man is held responsible to obey. The salvation by Christ's death is the "foundation for repentance," because it is the goodness of God that leadeth men to repentance. Hence to ignore the value of Christ's death, is to belittle God's love and saving power. For God commendeth His love toward us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us. Rom. 5:6.
We are glad now this subject is agitated, as it is to us an additional evidence that the "due time" is dawning in which God's love in giving Christ as a Ransom for all, is to be made known. Oh that those who oppose it may not be of those who have known and then rejected.
"What's in a Name?" is often asked, implying insignificance, and it may make but little difference to a man whether he be called Peter, James, John, Moses, Aaron or even Joshua (Jesus) in times when these and other names are used without any reference to their signification. But in Bible study we are impressed with the idea that names are full of meaning. They were given with reference to time, place or circumstance, past, present or future. Some names were as monuments to remind of some special dealings of the Lord, and others were prophetic. The qualities, work or destiny of an individual was often expressed by his name. When the direction of a life was changed it was sometimes indicated by a change of name. Adam, indicates man's origin – "of the earth, earthy." Cain, is "acquired," and the woman was mistaken in the value of the man she had gotten of the Lord. Abel, is "feeder," a shepherd, and fitly represents the great Shepherd of the sheep, who gave His life for them. Abraham, means "father of a great multitude," or "of many nations." His name was changed from Abram to Abraham when God made him the promise. (Gen. 17:5.) And in reference to the same great plan Sarai was changed to Sarah, i.e. Princess (ver. 15.) These are prophetic in their character and point to the grand success of the gospel in bringing the nations to God, the Father of all, through the agency of the "seed" of promise – Christ and the Church – the antitypes of Isaac and Rebekah. David, means beloved, a type of Christ, the true King of Israel. David as a prophet personifies Christ, and God makes promises to him as if he were Christ.
The excellent language of David – "Thou wilt not leave my soul in the grave, neither wilt thou suffer thine holy one to see corruption," – was fulfilled in the triumphant resurrection of Christ from the dead. The name given is made to refer to position or official relationship, so that the position is meant when the word "name" is used. Even in this sense "a good name is rather to be chosen than great riches." The success of the Lord's work is to Him "for a name" – an honor. Isa. 55:13. To the obedient the Lord promises "an everlasting name," (56:5) "but the name of the wicked shall rot." Prov. 10:7. To receive a prophet in the name of a prophet certainly refers to his official character. "Thou shalt call his name Jesus because He shall save His people from their sins." Jesus, means Saviour, and we are carried forward from the mere word to the Exalted Official Position, on account of which He can "save to the uttermost all who come unto God by Him." His position is contrasted with that of men and angels, as He is Lord of both, having "all power in heaven and earth." Hence it is said, "Let all the angels of God worship him;" [that must include Michael, the chief angel, hence Michael is not the Son of God] and the reason is, because He has "by inheritance obtained a more excellent Name than they." Michael or Gabriel are perhaps grander names than Jesus, though Jesus is grand in its very simplicity, but the official character of the Son of God as Saviour and King is the inheritance from His Father, which is far superior to theirs, for it pleased the Father that in Him all fullness should dwell. He has given Him a Name which is above every name, that at the Name of Jesus every knee should bow both in heaven and earth. And there is "none other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved."
With this view before our minds that the name refers to His official position, the importance of taking from among the Gentiles a "people for His name" will be appreciated. As the wife takes the name of her husband, so the church takes the name of her Head. The two made one is the fact of importance. Not one in name merely, but in fact, as represented by the name – one in spirit, position, aim and work. The difference between the terms Jesu-it and Christian may illustrate a point. The first relates to the letter, as Jesus is a proper name; the second relates more nearly to the spirit, as Christ means anointed and refers to His official position.
We are not here pleading for a name, but for what appears to be an important idea. There is doubtless as much danger in using the name Christian as the name of a sect, as in using other names. The One Body knows no divisions. All who have the spirit of Christ are one whether they fully realize it or not; one in spirit now and when glorified – married – one in every possible sense, even as the Father and Son are one. (Jno. 17:22,23.)
To be baptised into the name of Jesus (or Father, Son and Holy Spirit,) as in Him all fullness of the Godhead dwells, means far more than a baptismal formula. It is by the apostle expressed as being baptised by one spirit into one body (1 Cor. 12:13.) There is letter and spirit in the subject of baptism as in almost every other part of God's plan. We would not ignore or belittle either. The letter represents the spirit, as a symbol or "likeness of his death," and "resurrection." Rom. 6:5. Those who can appreciate the spirit need not and are not most likely to ignore the letter, but it seems important that we should guard against mere formalism. In spirit, to be baptised involves a death to sin, a rising into a new life of obedience, and a consequent formation of a character; – having "your fruit unto holiness and the end everlasting life." Rom. 6:22. "As many of you as have been baptised into Christ have put on Christ." Gal. 3:27. "Into one body!" "Ye are members of Christ," as in the figure used, bone of His bone and flesh of His flesh, (Eph. 5:30). Do not confound the figure with the reality, do not imagine we will lose our individuality. The body of Christ is a body corporate, each individual acting in harmony with each other and under the direction of Christ for the manifestation of God's love in the salvation of men.
The human body is used to represent the church, but in this as in all other figures the reality is but dimly foreshadowed. As Jesus is the anointed, so are we, and for the same purpose. He is both King and Priest, so we are to be Kings and Priests – Kings to rule and Priests to bless.
To be baptised into His name is to become sharers in His spirit, His character, His official position and his work. The power given to Him will be manifested through His saints. He is our Saviour, but the body corporate will save the world. He will continue to be our Head, but the church will be the Head of the world. Adam was the head of his wife, but they were the united head of the race. The natural is the shadow of the spiritual. Our position will be higher than the highest angel. We, like them, will die no more; but as we for a little while have been lower than the angels, and in an important sense under their influence, they in this world being ministering spirits to the heirs of salvation, so in the world to come, the church being then exalted to the throne of Him who is Lord of both angels and men, the "saints will judge (rule) angels," and "judge (rule) the world" too. In that day when every knee shall bow to the highest manifested authority – before the Messiah's throne – the Queen as well as the King will be there. Is it a false ambition, to look for such royal honor? The voice of our coming husband sounds sweetly upon our ear as we struggle on amid the trials of this life. The overcomer will sit with me in my throne. Will he allure us on by such a hope to deceive us? Are the crown, throne and kingdom promised but unmeaning words? Are our hopes in vain? Will they vanish in fulfillment? Away with the doubt, it is Satan's snare; our Lover is true and faithful, and He has "all power." Call it an unworthy ambition and selfish withal, do you? Then God never would have given the inducement. If this hope of ours is selfish, then our Saviour is selfish. For the joy set before him he endured; but it is a benevolent selfishness. His power is exercised to bless. The greater serves the less.
How else could we enter into the joy of our Lord than by reaching a position from which we can pour blessing on the needy? He hath given Him a name above every name. Oh that we may realize our privilege of sharing it!
One great reason for the perverted views respecting the Messianic age, is the failure to understand the Bible meaning of the word judgment. It has several significations. Sometimes it means simply an examination or investigation of certain facts, testimony or arguments, in order to ascertain truth, or to reach a just decision. We also use the term to express that quality of mind which enables one to correctly grasp the true conclusion; as we speak of a person having good judgment. It often means the determination arrived at in the mind; also the results flowing from the trial and decision in the distribution of the rewards or punishments.
We have been taught to associate the word, when found in the Scriptures, with the last mentioned meaning, i.e. the executive judgment, which signification it certainly has; nevertheless, it also and frequently refers to the trial itself while in progress. Notice the first occurrence of the word in the New Testament, Matt. 7:1,2, would clearly bear this rendering: "Test not, that ye be not tested. For with what judgment [R49 : page 4] [justice] ye test, ye shall be tested." The same word [Greek, krimati] here translated judgment is used in 1 Cor. 6:7, referring to law suits. "Now therefore there is utterly a fault among you, because you have krimati [trials] one with another." During the Gospel age, the church have been having their trial. 1 Pet. 4:12,17. And, in the millennial age, those who have stood the test and are accounted overcomers, shall share the throne with Jesus Christ our Lord, and shall rule over the nations during their trial; and having subdued all opposition will inaugurate the reign of peace, as it is written:
"Give to the King thy judgments, O God,
And thy righteousness to the King's son."
We, the church of the first-born, the body of Christ, are collectively with our Head – the King's Son.
What a blessed day that day of judgment will be!
"The light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun shall be sevenfold, as the light of seven days, in the day that Jehovah bindeth up the breach of his people, (the Jews) and healeth the stroke of their wound." Isa. 30:26. This is not spoken of natural, but of spiritual light. Now, the people are in darkness; they "stumble at his word," and murmur at his dealings. But, says the prophet, "In that day shall the deaf hear the words of the book, and the eyes of the blind shall see out of obscurity, and out of darkness. They also that erred in spirit shall come to understanding, and they that murmured shall learn doctrine." Isa. 29:18,24.
This spiritual light is no longer confined to the few; it is universal.
O that that day with all its light and glory and blessedness were upon us. Thank God, it is not in the vague and distant future – it is almost here; the morning already dawns, and while we wait, not for the morning, but for the day, looking out upon the world, still stumbling in darkness, writhing under the iron heel of the oppressor, groaning under its load of sin and disease and death; and knowing full well that for them there is no release until He come whose right it is to reign; and who reigning shall crush the head of the serpent and deliver those who were all their life-time subject to this bondage, bringing the whole creation into the glorious liberty of the children of God, from the depths of our hearts we pray, as taught by the Master: "THY KINGDOM COME, thy will be done on earth as in Heaven;" and with Solomon we join in singing:
When the king came in to see the guests (assembled for the wedding), he saw there a man who had not on a wedding garment: And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless. Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. For many are called but few are chosen." Matt. 22:11,14.
As the parable of Christ relates the history of the living phase of the gospel church, this closing scene must refer to the condition of those who are "alive and remain" and are expecting to share the glory promised to the church. All who were thus gathered by the servants, were supposed to be ready for the marriage, but the great Inspector, who knows even the thoughts and intents of the heart detects the lack and sifts out the unfit. The "chosen" are those who have that qualification represented by the "wedding garment." The one who is without it, doubtless represents a class who thought they were ready for the marriage, and were bitterly disappointed; their great sorrow may be expressed by the "weeping and gnashing of teeth." As the wedding garment represents readiness, we can not be indifferent as to what it is.
There are two views of this subject which we wish to consider. Some believe that the wedding garment is a "clean theology," and others that it is a "holy character." Now we confess that the latter view strikes us as more in harmony with the spirit of the gospel and the teachings of the apostles. We do not, however, ignore the importance of the knowledge of what our Father has been pleased to reveal in reference to His plans. The apostle exhorts to "grow in grace and the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ." 2 Pet. 3:18. Men are in danger of being extremists on this as on almost all other Bible themes – some making too much and others too little of the importance of knowledge of theory or correct theology. But we are quite sure that the relation between knowledge of truth and character is not lost sight of by the apostles. It is believed by some that it is not possible to have a right theory or theology, without its producing the right condition of mind and consequent obedience. And such ones endeavor to be consistent with their theory by never talking or writing on practical themes, and never exhorting to obedience. There is, however, a marked difference in this respect between the writings of such brethren and the writings of the apostles. There has been a time in the past when the writer of this was inclined to the extreme view that knowledge was sufficient of itself to produce practical results, and therefore, that it was necessary only to preach the right theory, and that exhortation was of very little importance. But the reading of the inspired letters to the churches aroused us to the consciousness that in taking such ground we were contradicting the Holy Spirit. No one can read carefully the apostles' writings and not be impressed with the fact that a large portion of such writings are exhortations to practical holy living. Knowledge does not always produce obedience or all such exhortations would be in vain. We cannot resist the inference that the Holy Spirit does nothing in vain. But we are not left to inference. Paul tells us of some who "hold the truth in unrighteousness," (Rom. 1:18,) which would be impossible if the view presented were correct. The wrath of God is revealed against the ungodliness and unrighteousness of such men. "Because that when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful." (Ver. 21.) "Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness." (Ver. 24.) If knowledge is righteousness Paul should not and would not have written as he did. The nature of the unrighteousness is apparent in the context.
John gives us a definition of a righteous man which is worthy of our attention. "Little children let no man deceive you; he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous." 1 Jno. 3:7. "In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil; whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God neither he that loveth not his brother." (Ver. 10.) Who can fail to see that the object sought in giving men the truth, is character – to bring men into a Godlike condition, and that if men do not obey the truth, and fail to realize and to express love in their lives, all is vain. [R50 : page 5] Truth obeyed will prove the savor of life unto life, but disobeyed, the savor of death unto death. Knowledge is power either for good or evil; and the greater one's knowledge the greater his responsibility. "To whom much is given much is required." "This is the condemnation, that light is come, and men loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil." If knowledge is righteousness, how could any man sin willfully after having come to the knowledge of the truth, and how could any human being be lost? for God has arranged that "all men shall come to the knowledge of the truth," because he is the "True light that lighteth every man that cometh into the world." We have the unmistakable testimony of Paul that though a man "have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge, and though he have all faith so that he could remove mountains, and have not charity (love), he is nothing." 1 Cor. 13:2.
We are referred to the statement of Paul: "Abraham believed God and it was counted to him for righteousness," as proof that faith is righteousness. With this idea James is made to contradict Paul, for he says Abraham was justified by works and not by faith only (Ch. 2:24); and John contradicts Paul when he tells us that "all unrighteousness is sin," and as we have seen already, that righteousness is doing right. And Paul is even made to contradict himself in what we have quoted from him. But these men do not contradict each other, and their harmony will be apparent when we remember that Paul commends the "faith that works by love." Gal. 5:6. That Abraham's faith, and that of all other bible worthies was of this type – i.e. a working faith – will be seen by reference to their history. They were justified by faith, when their faith led them to do what God required of them. "By faith Abel offered sacrifice." Heb. 11:2.
"By faith Noah...prepared an ark." (Ver. 7). "By faith Abraham ...obeyed and went out" &c. (Ver. 8.) "By faith Abraham ...offered up Isaac." Ver. 17. They acted by faith, so says James of Abraham. By works his faith was made perfect. Ch. 2:22. The woman's faith saved her, but not till it led her to touch the Saviour. It existed before she was healed. So we see that faith alone or separately considered does not save, and is not righteousness.
We have no doubt that the "wedding garment" is the "fine linen, clean and white" with which the Bride is clothed, and "the fine linen is the righteousness of the saints." Rev. 19:8. But we can not believe that it is limited to her theology, but that it must include her character. It is the righteousness of her heart manifested in her life. The garment expresses her condition – her loyalty, her purity and her fellowship with God. Her righteousness is that to which she is called: "God hath not called us to uncleanness, but to holiness." 1 Thess. 4:7. The garment expresses the effect sought and gained, rather than the means God uses to bring it about. "This is the will of God even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication." Ver. 3. To sanctify is to set apart for holy use, or to make holy or free from sin. Merely to "set apart" for any purpose is not to sanctify. "Now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life." Rom. 6:22. "Herein is my father glorified that ye bear much fruit." "As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself except it abide in the vine, no more can ye except ye abide in me." "If ye keep my commandments ye shall abide in my love." "This is my [R50 : page 6] commandment, that ye love one another." John 15. "He that loveth not his brother abideth in death." "He that loveth not knoweth not God, for God is love."
"The object of our union with Christ is to develop his life and love in us, and that by his spirit the deeds of the flesh might be mortified." Rom. 8:13. A garment spotted with the flesh shows that the carnal or fleshly nature is not wholly subdued. "If ye live after the flesh ye shall die, but if ye, through the spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live."
If any one will take the trouble of examining the New Testament with the help of a concordance on this subject of purity, spotlessness, holiness and kindred ideas, they will be surprised that any one should even think of applying them to anything else than purity of heart and life. Get your theology corrected as fast as the truth is made plain to you, but do not let any one think that theology is a garment. We must be clothed with righteousness. "He that hath clean hands and a pure heart" shall ascend into the hill of the Lord. Ps. 24:3,4. "Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God that worketh in you, both to will and to do of his good pleasure." The wedding garment is the divine nature developed and manifested.
That those who live late in the dispensation should have more light than those who lived further back in the shining path, is true, but the same overcoming of the flesh and loyalty to God was required of those who fell asleep as of us. They were tested in their life, as are we and found the character which fitted them for the kingdom before they slept. If a perfect theology were the wedding garment, then none but the last generation (even if they) could be the Bride. But the Bride made ready evidently refers to the whole company, whether waking or sleeping who were in Christ Jesus and consecrated to God's will. He has become the author of eternal salvation to all them that obey him." This spirit of loyalty to Christ is one of the most essential qualities of a true disciple, or learner, and will be of great assistance to us all in perfecting our theology, and getting the victory over every element or characteristic of the beast.
If any should inquire of us what was the leading and controlling "mark" or quality of the beast, we would write in large letters: DOGMATISM AND INTOLERANCE. It is no proof that a doctrine is false because the Catholics believed it. Neither is it proof that a doctrine is true because a reformer, one whom God has used and led, promulgates it. Let us beware what we receive from any one; and "prove all things" by the word of the Lord.
And above all may we be able to adorn our lives with holiness: "Add to faith, virtue; to virtue, knowledge, and to knowledge, temperance; and to temperance, patience; and to patience, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, CHARITY. Last the greatest! If we have these, we shall have the "abundant entrance." 2 Pet. 1:5,11. To such the king will not say, "Why camest thou in hither;" but, "Well done, enter thou into the joy of thy Lord." Amen.
Have we ever fully realized what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God? While the sons are being perfected, it is not expected that the world will understand it, for it is declared that the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. But it is expected of the professed "followers of God as dear children" to understand their relationship to the Father, and to receive instruction from him.
"Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be; but we know that, when he shall appear we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is." 1 John 3:1,2.
"As many as are led by the spirit of God, they are the sons of God." Rom. 8:14. "Begotten sons, waiting for the adoption – full sonship."
The relationship to God as sons, was little, if at all understood, prior to the advent of Jesus Christ in the flesh. "Now this I say, that the heir as long as he is a child, differeth nothing from a servant, though he be Lord of all; but is under tutors and governors until the time appointed of the father; even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world; but when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his son, made of a woman, made under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. And because we are sons, God hath sent forth the spirit of his son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ." Gal. 4:1,7.
"Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household – family – of God; and are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; in whom all the building fitly framed together, groweth into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom ye are also builded together for a habitation of God through the Spirit." Eph. 2:19,22.
We see then that the evidence of sonship, is being led by the Spirit; having the spirit of truth to guide us into all truth, bearing witness with our spirit that we are the children of God; and if children, then heirs; "heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together." Rom. 8:16,17.
Jesus said: "If ye love me, ye will keep my words. Greater love [R51 : page 6] hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. This is my commandment, that ye love one another, as I have loved you. Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command ye. Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth; but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father, I have made known unto you." John 15:12,15.
What an inestimable privilege our Father has conferred upon us, that we should be exalted to the glorious position of sons of God; and to know, even here, what our Lord does; by being taught of him. "Ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things. But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you; but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in (him) it." 1 John 2:20,27.
We are living in the period of Christ's (Parousia) presence; and consequently near to the time when the sons of God will be glorified; so it comes to us with peculiar force, to heed the injunction of the "disciple whom Jesus loved;" "and now little children, abide in him; that when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his (Parousia) presence. If ye know that he is righteous, ye know that every one that doeth righteousness, is born (begotten) of him." 1 John 2:28,29. "For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption – sonship – whereby we cry, Abba, Father. For unto you it is given, in behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake." Phil. 1:29.
How it strengthens us to "endure hardness;" and to "press forward;" and to rejoice, "inasmuch as, if we are partakers of Christ's sufferings, when his glory shall be revealed, we may be glad also with exceeding joy." 1 Pet. 4:13. "Though he were a son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; and being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him." Heb. 5:8.
If with him God will freely give us all things; will we not, as sons, share with him as the author of eternal salvation? "The whole creation waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God." Rom. 8:19. At present the world knows them not. As God is love, think you he will have anything but a loving family? We are taught to love the brotherhood; as members of one body to be interested in each other.
Do all things without murmurings and disputings; that ye may be blameless and harmless; the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world.
QUES. If Christ laid down his natural life, to redeem the natural life of man I can see how Christ's death might benefit the world who are to be brought back in the natural or flesh-life, but how in that case could his death be any benefit to the Christian who is to be raised a spiritual body?
ANS. As we are counted dead in Adam before we actually die so are we counted alive again in Christ, before it is actually brought about. The object of counting the church redeemed now is that they may be on trial for eternal life, which they could not be if they were still counted dead.
The plan of God is to redeem from death first and bring to the knowledge of the truth afterward as has often been shown. That is the rule, but with the church there is an exception. As they get the knowledge before the time, for special reasons – that they may be developed as the Bride to assist the Husband in the future work – so they are dealt with as if they had already been redeemed. An unredeemed man has nothing to give to, or use for the Lord. All was lost in Adam. But the Christian is always counted free from the claims of the Law and the Devil, in the word, hence he is expected to live for and use ALL for the Lord. "Ye are bought (redeemed, ransomed) with a price, therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit which are his." We quote on this point a short extract from a letter of one who appreciates the value of Christ's death even to the Christian.
"If a man wished to bestow a title of honor and an inheritance on a slave, would he not first make him free? How could a single soul be converted if not first counted alive in God's sight? 'Awake thou that sleepest and arise from the dead and Christ shall give thee light.' Our freedom, so that we may choose eternal life, is based on the death of Christ." Rom. 5:10.
Christ is both our ransom to redeem us, and our example of voluntary obedience. He consented to the crucifixion. "Wherefore God hath highly exalted him" &c. Phil. 2:9, and if we by the same Spirit, "crucify the flesh with its affections and lusts" we like him will be raised [R51 : page 7] a spiritual body. In the successful life – "faithful unto death" the object of redemption is attained. The world being raised in flesh will then have the flesh to crucify. Christian, you are now enjoying the benefits of Christ's death, you are also made partaker of the Divine Nature by the Spirit. "Therefore ye are debtors, not to, the flesh, for if ye live after the flesh ye shall die, but if ye through the spirit do mortify the deeds of the body ye shall live." When the work begun in you is perfected, then "mortality will be swallowed up in life."
ANS. I do. I understand that he came in that character at the beginning of the Jewish harvest as a part of the pattern, and at the beginning of the gospel harvest as a parallel. John 3:29, is a clear statement of the fact in relation to the first. The second depends on a number of evidences drawn from the prophetic periods and the parallelism of the Two Dispensations including the application of the parable of the "Ten Virgins."
To deny that he came as Bridegroom at the beginning of the Gospel Harvest in 1874, is to ignore the proper parallelism between the thirty years of tarrying at each Advent. He is revealed as both Bridegroom and Reaper in both harvests. The first is the type – the second the antitype. He did not come at the first to be espoused to the gospel church and go away. His espousal to the gospel church did not take place until the descent of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost, (the antitype of Eleazar, meeting Rebecca at the well where she received the bracelets and earrings – the "Earnest") and all know that this was after Christ had gone away. His ministry in the flesh was not to the sons but to the servants – the Jewish church. "I am not sent but to the lost sheep of the house of Israel." Hence his command: "Go not in the way of the Gentiles," &c. It is true the natural seed in some sense belonged to God, but when Christ became a Son, God became a Father, and the Son represented his Father, hence "He that receiveth me receiveth Him that sent me." Christ's work in the flesh was to finish the work of God, with the typical seed.
His coming as Bridegroom like all other features was a part of the pattern. Christ as his Father's representative could say: "All mine are thine, and thine are mine and I am glorified in them." Jno. 17:10. This was of the disciples.
Though the natural seed belonged to God, yet of Christ it is said: "He came to his own and his own received him not." He came as Bridegroom and was rejected. They were bidden but were found unworthy, hence the turning to the Gentiles – "the highways and hedges." And those murderers he destroyed and burned up their city. See Matt. 22:1-14. We hope all will continue to search carefully and prayerfully until they find the true relation between the work of the Father and the Son. Truth is what we want.
QUES. Why do you not admit the distinction made by the Savior between the work of the Father and the Son? Jno. 5:21,22.
ANS. We do admit the distinction if we understand what it is. We have failed to express our thoughts correctly to any who suppose we make no distinction. We will try again. The coming of Jesus in the flesh, we regard as the dividing line between the two works referred to by the Saviour. "My Father worketh HITHERTO (i.e. before I came) and (now that I have come) I work." V. 17. There is a sense in which all things were made by Him, as the Pre-existent One, but we do not find any scripture which speaks of Christ as the Son until the coming in the flesh, and that is the standpoint of Jesus when he used the above language.
"My Father worketh hitherto," &c., we use as the key to unlock the rest. "For as the Father (hitherto) raiseth up the dead and quickeneth them, EVEN so the Son (now and henceforward) quickeneth whom he will," and the reason given is that the Father has given the work into his hands. "All things" (ver. 20) which includes "Judgment" (ver. 22) and "raising up the dead." (ver. 21 and 29.) The tense of the verb "raiseth" (ver. 21) is the same as "worketh" (ver. 17), and yet the [R52 : page 7] Saviour puts it in the past by the word "hitherto." When Christ says: "I work" he does not mean that he does a work "distinct from the Father," for he says: "The Son can do nothing of Himself" (ver. 19) and "The Father that dwelleth in me, He doeth the work." Even of the work of judgment committed to Christ he says: "I can of mine own self do nothing, as I hear, I judge," &c., (ver. 30.) "And if I judge, my judgment is true, for I am not alone, but I and the Father which sent me." 8:16. Before Jesus came, God did the work, but since the Son came the Father works by Him. It is not less true that God works by Christ since the resurrection than it was before. If the Divine hidden in the flesh was able to express itself in acts of power, surely the fully developed Son of God should have just what he claims, "All power...in Heaven and Earth." "The Father judgeth no man," we must understand as teaching that he does not judge "distinct from the Son" for he had committed the work unto the Son – "Immanuel." We have already shown that Christ so taught, and Paul expresses the same thought; "God hath appointed a day in the which HE will judge the world, by that man whom he hath ordained." &c. Acts 17:31. God judges, and yet Christ "will judge the living AND THE DEAD at his appearing and kingdom." 2 Tim. 4:1. "The Father judgeth no man" and yet "God (is) the Judge of all." Heb. 12:23.
In the prophecy of the invitation going to "all the ends of the Earth" God says: "There is no God beside me; a just God and a Saviour, none beside me." "I am God....I have sworn by myself, that unto me every knee shall bow." Isa. 45:21-23, and yet God hath exalted Jesus and given him the Name at which all shall bow, and Christ is the Saviour. Phil. 2:9,11.
"We trust in the living God who is the Saviour of all men, especially of those that believe." Here Christ is not mentioned, shall we therefore conclude that God does it all "as distinct from Christ?" or shall we believe that Christ is the mediator by which God does the work? God raises the dead, but Christ is his Agent, so to speak. He will quicken the mortal bodies of his saints, but by "Christ in you." Compare Rom. 8:9,10,11, where "Spirit of God," "Spirit of Christ" and "Christ in you" are used interchangeably. The distinction Christ makes is between what was done before he came and since. And we understand him to teach that since he came His work and the Father's is one and not distinct one from the other.
If any can not see it thus, we still pray for Heaven's blessing on you all.
"Every word of God is pure – He is a shield to them that trust in Him – add thou not unto His words, lest He reprove thee, and thou be found a liar." Prov. 30:5,6.
Paul sharply criticised some ignorant persons who came into the church indulging in strifes of words, and we frequently find misunderstandings and divisions caused solely by a lack of knowledge of the meaning of important words and phrases. In fact there are sects in the Christian world to-day, as we all know, who are cut off and separated from other parts of the body simply by a difference of opinion as to the exact meaning of perhaps a single word. The Psalmist said: "He that planted the ear, shall he not hear? he that formed the eye, shall he not see?" Surely we can also say: He that made the tongue, and who gave us his law clothed in human language did he not know what words to select? It is evident that the Holy Spirit inspired – not simply the broad ideas – but, in many cases at least, the exact phraseology.
So fully did the Jews believe this, that the penalty of death was imposed on the Scribe, who, in copying the law, dared to alter a single word. So fully did Paul rest on the verbal accuracy of the Scriptures, that, relying on a single letter, he, at one bold stroke, cut away the main stay – so to speak – of the proud hopes of the whole Jewish nation. A hope which had been cherished for ages; that they, and they alone, were the chosen seed of Abraham, and the heirs to all the promises. Said he: "Know you, certainly, that those of faith, these are the sons of Abraham.... Now to Abraham were the promises spoken, even for his SEED. He does not say 'And to the SEEDS,' as concerning many, but as concerning one; 'and to thy SEED' – who is Christ. ...If ye are Christ's, then you are Abraham's seed, heirs according to promise."*
Only the knowledge of this fact, we think, could enable the Master to say so confidently, "Till Heaven and Earth pass away, one iota [smallest letter in Greek alphabet] or one fine point [of a letter] shall not pass from the law till all be fulfilled."
That God's Word is perfect, is above controversy; we have indeed the oft repeated and divinely inspired assurance of the fact. That our English translation is perfect, is by no means as certain; in fact, we have abundant proof to the contrary. The truth is, howsoever faithful or capable the scholar may be, it is still simply impossible to make of any extended portion of the Word a concise and perfect translation. For this reason: If each of the nations of earth possessed exactly the same sets of ideas, expressed in exactly the same manner, one word for each division of thought, the work of changing from one language to another would be comparatively easy. But, as we know, this is not the case. One Greek word may express a thought embodied in several English words, again, it may take a number of Greek words to cover all that is contained in a single English one. If words were made of India Rubber, they might be stretched as occasion required; and indeed, there are those who so use them; but they are really more like a piece of hardened steel; which, while it may have different shapes, as viewed from different sides, is still unyielding and unchanging.
It is sometimes expedient in composing to use synonymous words when no change of sense is intended, in order to avoid repetition; but if this be done in translating, it is likely to cause – if not obscurity – at least doubt and uncertainty. But the translators of our version of the Bible did this very thing, and willingly acknowledge it. In the preface they say: "We have not tied ourselves to an uniformity of phrasing or to an identity of words.... That we should express the same notion in the same particular word, as for example, if we translate the Hebrew or Greek word by purpose, never to call it intent," &c.
It had been better many times that they had been more strictly literal, even to the charge of producing a monotonous repetition. Our modern taste, we know, prefers a change in the sound, but we sometimes lose in force and power in obtaining that object. Paul was peculiarly fond of repetition. He is sometimes, as Paley says: "off at a word." When he strikes an expression that pleases him, he – like a child with a sweet butternut – turns it over and over, picking out at each fresh position some dainty bit, and refusing apparently, to lay it down until the last rich morsel has been extracted. We have a specimen in 2 Cor. 1. "Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God." Here our translators tired of the repetition. Not so Paul. He had not yet extracted all the comfort out of the blessed word, and so he [R52 : page 8] goes on thus: "For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our comfort also abounded through Christ. And whether we be afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation... or whether we be comforted, it is for your comfort and salvation,... knowing that as ye are partakers of the sufferings, so shall ye be also of the comfort."*
Some original words have been translated by so many English ones, and the rendition has been in certain cases so arbitrary, that there is blind confusion and an utter failure to perceive the true import of the Divine Word.
We are not fault finding. The translators of King James' version, so called, probably did the very best they could under the circumstances. We of 1879 are living more than a quarter of a Millennium nearer the perfect day. Indeed we fully believe that that perfect day is already dawning upon us. We have light, let us have truth. Truth at any price. Truth, if it overthrows long cherished errors. Truth, if it sweeps away musty cobwebs, once gossamer filaments of fancy, enshrined in our hearts. Truth, if the heavens fall: but they cannot fall, they rest on truth.
We purpose in succeeding numbers of THE WATCHTOWER to make use of the "Bible Class" department for short items of interest, both critical and explanatory, including the translations of words and phrases; and various readings from different scholars; earnestly seeking by the help of Him who is the Light, the Truth, the Way, to come to knowledge of the truth, all the truth, and only the truth. The Spirit was promised to guide us "into all the truth." Let us "follow on to know the Lord." Not, that we may "hold [R53 : page 8] the truth in unrighteousness," which is plainly possible; but, being "sanctified by the truth," "we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine...but holding the Truth, may in love grow up into Him in all things, who is the head – Christ.
The word life, as found in the New Testament, is, in most places, a translation from one of the two Greek words, Zoee and Psuchee. The rendering of both by the one English word Life covers up a clean-cut difference of meaning between the two.
The word Psuchee has several significations. When it refers to life, and is so translated in our New Testament, it invariably alludes to the natural, fleshly, or blood-life. Liddell and Scott, in their lexicon, give the meaning as follows: "Psuchee, breath; Latin, anima – life – spirit. It leaves the body with the blood. Periphr for the man himself. The life of animals, &c.
Zoee refers generally, in the New Testament, to the spiritual life, either in this age, or after the resurrection. Liddell and Scott give, Zoee, a living, i.e., means of life; life opposed to death. It sometimes, at least, as in the definition, "means of life," seems to indicate an inherent or independent life power; thus opposed to psuchee, which is dependant on the breath.
In the New Testament, we find eternal, or everlasting, life (zoee) over forty times. Also, endless life; resurrection of life; word of life; book of life; water of life; crown of life, &c. Also, our Lord is called the Prince of Life; Author of Life; Bread of Life, &c. – All from zoee. Psuchee is never found in any such connection.
In reference to psuchee, and its corresponding Hebrew word, nephesh, an able critic remarks: "Perhaps it may be worthy of notice, that in all the seven hundred times in which nephesh occurs, and the one hundred and five times of psuchee, not once is the word immortal, or deathless, or never-dying, found in connection, as qualifying the terms."
We will quote as samples the occurrences of psuchee, wherever translated life in Matthew: "They are dead who sought the child's life;" "Take not thought for your life, what ye shall eat;" "He that finds his life shall lose it, and he that loses his life for my sake, shall find it;" "For whoever will save his life, shall lose it; and whoever may lose his life for my sake, shall find it."
These last two passages are made still clearer by John 12:25, where, apparently, the complete remark of Christ is given, and psuchee and zoee are brought into direct contrast: "He that loves his life (psuchee) shall lose it; and he that hates his life (psuchee) in this world, shall keep it unto life (zoee) eternal."
We are never taught to hate the zoee, but the psuchee is to be held in comparatively low estimation. For instance: "If anyone comes to me and hates not his father,...and even his own life" (psuchee), &c. Barnabas and Paul were called "men who have hazarded their lives for the name of Jesus." Paul said, "neither do I count my life dear to myself" &c. When Eutychus fell from the third loft during Paul's preaching, and was taken up insensible, the apostle said: "His life (psuchee) is in him." It is applied to beasts: "The third part of the creatures which were in the sea, and had life (psuchee) died."
We will look at a few passages in which zoee occurs. "Straight is the gate, and narrow the way, which leads to life (zoee)." "If thou desirest to enter into zoee keep the commandments." "He that believes on the Son has everlasting zoee, and he that believes not the Son shall not see zoee. "Ye will not come to me, that ye may have zoee." In John, chapters 5 and 6, every occurrence of life is from zoee.
"But the natural man receives not the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him." It is sown a natural body, it rises a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual...but the spiritual is not first, but the natural (psuchikos) and afterward the spiritual."
In perfect harmony with this last scripture we find in relation to the two Adams, the corresponding heads of the natural and spiritual planes: "The first man Adam was made a living psukeen (natural man); the last Adam a life (zoee) giving Spirit." We have probably quoted sufficient to render clear the distinction between the two Spirit inspired words, let us now look at their force and bearing on the question of the atonement, which has been agitating our people lately.
It has been asserted that the life which Christ laid down for the world was not the natural, but that which he had with the Father; which – spiritual life – he laid down at his incarnation and took up at his resurrection; Wresting John 6:63. "The flesh profits nothing," from its true position, the sacrificial death of Christ has been degraded, and the blood of the covenant counted an unholy [Greek koinon, common] thing.
The original Greek settles the question of the kind of life, clearly and unmistakably. While it is continually taught that in Christ we have zoee, even zoee everlasting, it nowhere says that he laid down his zoee for us. On the contrary it plainly and invariably states that the life he gave was the psuchee [natural, or blood life.] We will quote a few texts. "The son of man came not to be ministered to, but to minister, and to give his life (psuchee) a ransom for many." Matt. 20:28, Mark 10:45. "The good Shepherd lays down his psuchee for the sheep." John 10:11. This declaration is stronger when we notice that in the verse previous Christ says, "I came that they may have zoee," &c. Following, he reiterates "I lay down my psuchee for the sheep....For this my Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may receive (a) it again, no one forces (b) it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have authority (c) to lay it down, and I have authority to receive it again. This commandment I received from my Father." Although Christ here speaks of receiving it again, it does not of necessity mean that when he rose from the dead he took again the blood life. Simply, he had authority, or an arrangement with the Father to live again. The nature of his resurrection life we learn from other scriptures. The passage in this respect is similar to John 12:25. "He that hates his psuchee in this world, shall keep it unto zoee eternal: when mortality shall be swallowed up by zoee.
We have a strong contrast in the following. "We know that we have passed out of death into zoee, because we love the brethren. He that loves not his brother abides in death [During the enjoyment of the blood life (psukee,) mankind are under the dominion of death.]...In this we know love, that he laid down his psuchee for us; and we ought to lay down our lives (psukas) for the brethren." "Greater love hath no one than this, that one lay down his psuchee for his friends." No one is ever supposed to lay down the zoee.
What each of his lives (psuchee and zoee) do for us we have in Rom. 5:10. "For if being enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, [the laying down of the blood life or psuchee] much more, being reconciled, shall we be saved [by the impartation of his spiritual nature, and the benefits that follow,] by his zoee. As to the origin of this higher life, and how it comes to us we have John 5:26, "As the Father has zoee in himself, so he gave also to the Son to have zoee in himself." "For this is the will of my Father, that every one who sees the Son, and believes on him, may have everlasting zoee" &c. By the arrangement above noted, Jesus our Lord has become "Author of zoee," "Prince of zoee," "Bread of zoee," and mark it, "The resurrection and the zoee." The Resurrection to all, the Zoee to believers. "Marvel not at this; for an hour is coming, in which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth; they that did good, to the resurrection of life (zoee,) and they that did evil, to the resurrection of judgment." – Am. Bible Union Version. "These are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ (anointed,) the Son of God, and that believing ye may have zoee in his name."
a. – Greek. Lambano. The original signification of the word is two-fold; one to take, the other to receive; (I) to take, grasp, seize, to gain, win, &c.; (II) to have given one, receive, get, &c. b. – Greek, Aireo, to take, grasp, seize, conquer, overpower, &c. c. – Greek, Exonsia, power, authority to do a thing, permission, resources, &c.
Remarks by the Editor. This is very satisfactory and we think should and will, end controversy as to what life Jesus gave for our ransom from death. Our natural life (psuchee) is forfeited. Our Lord became our substitute and gave his psuchee for ours and then as a gift offers believers his Zoee eternal.