|J. H. PATON||ALMONT, MICH.|
|W. I. MANN||ALLEGHENY, PA.|
|B. W. KEITH||DANSVILLE, N.Y.|
|H. B. RICE||W. OAKLAND, CAL.|
|A. D. JONES||PITTSBURGH, PA.|
"The great day of His wrath is come, who shall be able to stand?" Rev. 6:17.
"The day of the Lord" is a scriptural name for a period of time, during which the Gospel and Millennial Ages lap; the one ending, the other commencing. Concerning it we read – "The day of the Lord is a day of darkness, and there is no light in it;" "That day is a day of trouble;" "Woe unto you that desire the day of the Lord." It is "The great day of His wrath." This dark day is at once the closing scene of the night of weeping, and the dawn of the morning of joy. We desire your attention not merely to the Scripture evidence that there will be such a day, or time, but especially to the events that will transpire during that day, and their chronological order.
This time of trouble comes first upon the church, afterward upon the world; but in our examination we shall reverse this order; considering [R26 : page 1] first the trouble of the nations during "the day of the Lord." This is a natural consequence of the transfer of authority and rulership from the "Devil, who is the prince of this world," [age] to "Him whose right it is" – Christ – who, in the beginning of the Millennial Age, "takes to himself His great power and reigns;" – "And the nations were angry and thy wrath is come," read along connectedly. Rev. 11:17.
Unquestionably the kingdoms of this world are loyal to their prince. They are mainly controlled by evil, selfish, corrupt men, the agents and representatives of the "Prince of darkness," who do his will.
When the new Prince takes control, the dominion is to be given into new hands, and the Lord proclaims: "I will overthrow the throne of kingdoms and I will destroy the kingdoms of the Gentiles." Hag. 2:22.
Thus by "breaking in pieces" – throwing down – "the kingdoms of this world become the kingdoms of our Lord and His Christ," who shall reign forever. Rev. 11:15. Under the new rule there will be new rulers, and we read, "The saints of the most High shall take the kingdom, (dominion) and possess the kingdom forever." Daniel 7:18. Again "All nations, tongues, people, etc., shall serve and obey Him." At present they do not, and they must be brought, by chastisement, to submission; and this is accomplished in "The day of the Lord." The overthrow of nations and society will necessarily involve individual trouble. But, "When the judgments of the Lord are in the Earth the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness." Isa. 26:9.
The trouble is graphically described by the Prophet: "That day is a day of wrath, a day of trouble and distress, a day of wasteness and desolation, a day of darkness and gloominess. I will bring distress upon men, and they shall walk like blind men, because they have sinned against the Lord. Neither their silver nor their gold shall be able to deliver them, in the day of the Lord's wrath." Zeph. 1:15. "Therefore wait ye upon me, saith the Lord, until the day that I rise up to the prey: for my determination is to gather the nations, that I may assemble the kingdoms, to pour upon them mine indignation, even all my fierce anger: for all the earth shall be devoured with the fire of my jealousy. For then will I turn to the people a pure language, that they may all call upon the name of the Lord, to serve Him with one consent." Zeph. 3:8. So extreme is the trouble here described, that the world is said to be burned up by the Lord's anger – yet it has a good effect, for after all the indignation against and destruction of governments, the people remain [the destruction is that of government life,] and having experienced the misrule of the "Prince of this world" they are prepared to have the Lord take "His great power and rule," and to "serve the Lord with one consent."
We expect that this distress and trouble will all come about in a very natural way; one prophet gives us a key to its cause by saying: "There shall be no hire for man nor hire for beast; – but every man's hand against his neighbor." Very many Scriptures seem to teach that the kingdoms of earth will be overthrown by a rising of the people: goaded to desperation from lack of employment and seeking relief from the oppression of bloodthirsty governments. Such a rising and overturning, Socialists, Communists, and Nihilists of to-day would gladly bring about if they could. Now, while Scripture recognizes wrong and oppression as existing in the nations and foretells this as the way in which they will be overthrown, and says: "Go to now ye rich men weep and howl for the misery that shall come upon you, ye have heaped treasure together for the last days. Behold, the hire of the laborers, which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth." Jas. 5:1. Yet it does not recognize this Communism as right but the contrary rather instructing believers to "obey the powers that be" as long as they last, saying to us – "Be patient, therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord."
Rev. 6:15, figuratively describes that time of falling of kingdoms when every mountain (kingdom) and island shall be moved. The kings and chief ones as well as bondmen will recognize in this trouble that "The great day of His wrath is come," and will seek to make alliances and to hide themselves from the sure coming storm. They will seek to be covered and protected by the great mountains (kingdoms,) of earth and to be hid in the great rocks of this world's societies. (Masonic, Odd Fellows, &c.,) but they shall not be able to deliver them in the day of the Lord's anger," for "all the kingdoms of the world shall be thrown down," and instead of these mountains (kingdoms) "the kingdom of the Lord becomes a great mountain, and fills the whole earth." Daniel 2:35,45. Malachi 4:1 describes the coming day of trouble and sees the anger of the Lord there displayed – "the fire of God's jealousy." "Behold the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, and all that do wickedly shall be stubble, and the day that cometh shall burn them up." Here the wicked are symbolized by stubble, God's wrath by fire, and the righteous by "calves of the stall." vs. 2.
2 Peter (3:10,12) describes this – "Day of the Lord," and under symbol of heavens, refers to the governments. ("The heavens do rule.") "But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, [overthrow of governments with great confusion] and the elements shall melt with fervent heat. The earth also, and the works that are therein shall be burned up." [The elements of the (heavens) governments as well as of (earth) society in general, will be dissolved in the great trouble (fire) of that day. The word here translated elements is the same that Paul uses in speaking of "the beggarly elements of this world." Gal. 4:9.
Scripture teaches that in the Millennial age, fleshly Israel will be the chief nation, "The joy of the whole earth." And we find that whilst other nations fall during the day of the Lord, they gradually come into prominence until in the latter part of that "day of wrath;" when "the battle of the great day" is fought, we find "Jerusalem safely inhabited, her people having much cattle and goods." They will doubtless go to Palestine, not through respect to promises of God, nor with the expectation of restoration to national power, but with true Jewish perception they will realize before others the dangers to which property, etc., will be exposed, during this overthrow of order and they will choose to be far away from the strongholds of communism. Yet even there they will not be secure for Gog and his bands say, "Come let us go up, to take a spoil and prey," "and they [R26 : page 2] come against Jerusalem a great company to pillage and rob the wealthy Jews there gathered from all quarters of the globe." Ezek. 38:8,12.
Zech. (14:1,4) describes the battle then fought. "Behold the day of the Lord cometh and the spoils shall be divided in the midst of thee. For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken and the houses rifled, and half of the city shall go forth into captivity." Here God interposes and defends them, and here they come to recognize Jesus as the Son of God, for "The Lord my God shall come and all thy saints with thee" – and "His feet shall stand in that day upon the Mount of Olives." I know not whether He and His saints will appear to them visibly or, be recognized by them in their remarkable and as described, miraculous deliverance from their enemies.
In Zech. 12:3, God declares that He will deliver them, "though all the people of the earth be gathered against them." Verse 10 describes the recognition of Him whom they have pierced, and their sorrow when, in that day, God "pours upon them the spirit of grace and supplication."
Here are a number of events – The "Time of trouble such as was not since there was a nation &c.;" The return of the Jews to Palestine and the reorganization of the Jewish nation though not independent; The gathering of great wealth to Jerusalem which tempts the hordes of Gog, Togomar and many peoples to go up "to take a spoil;" "The battle of the great day of God Almighty" fought at Jerusalem; The partial success of the invaders and in the hour of darkness to the Jew the power of Messiah manifested in some way effecting their deliverance; Their recognition of the long waited for Messiah and the cry "Lo this is our God, we have waited for Him and He will save us;" Then their recognition of him as the one whom they had once rejected, and as they look upon Him "whom they have pierced" (Zech. 12.) God will "pour upon them the spirit of grace and supplication" and they shall mourn for their sin, and be accepted again into fellowship with God. Thus in its close being "The day of Jacob's trouble but he (Israel) shalt be delivered out of it." These events we expect in about the order mentioned. As most of our readers are aware, we believe that the word of God furnishes us with indubitable proof that we are now living in this "Day of the Lord" that it began in 1873, and is a day of forty years duration as was "the day of temptation in the wilderness," when Israel proved God and saw His works forty years." Heb. 3:9.
And it is astonishing how very rapidly these things once looked at as absurd and impossible are becoming realities. When we with a few others declared these things only a short time since, and called attention to the fact that trouble was taught to be occasioned by a rising of the people and the overthrow of governments – Communism, we were laughed at; there was truly little sign then of Communism; but to-day every civilized nation is in dread, and Nihilism, Communism and Socialism, are household words, and we see "men's hearts failing for fear and for looking after those things coming on the earth, for the powers of heaven (governments) shall be shaken." Luke 21:26.
Of recent years the Jew has been coming into prominence, furnishing the world as capitalists and statesmen, such names as Rothchilds, Disraeli, Gambetta, Montefiero, etc., while yet more recently, complications of other nations have placed the control of Palestine in the hands of Hebrews, and opened it to them as a people for their home, whither the poorer classes are now flocking in great numbers from Russia, where one third of the race are said to reside. And what can be more probable than that the wealthy ones as already suggested, should flee there to escape the anarchy and insecurity of earth's falling empires.
Allow us to answer this question according to our understanding of God's word. We are all, I trust, willing to learn more, and also to give up former ideas when a "Thus saith the Lord," understood, makes it necessary. When light increases we may see differently; and may we have grace in the future, as in the past, to confess our mistakes as they become apparent. At present we have a decided objection to the idea that the "Father, as distinct from the Son," will raise the dead, or do anything else which is a part of the plan of salvation. We believe the work that was done before the incarnation was, in a peculiar sense, the Father's work, and the "Word was made flesh" to "finish His (Father's) work." (John 4:34.) The finishing work was the harvest, and, so far as related to the Jews, in favor, it ended when Jesus had left their house desolate and said, "It is finished." Unless we are much mistaken the "Word" was not called the Son until the incarnation. The Son was called "Emmanuel – God with us." Matt. 1:23. "God was manifest in the flesh." 1 Tim. 3:16. "All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth." Matt. 28:18. "It pleased the Father that in him (the Son) should all fullness dwell" – "all the fullness of the Godhead bodily." Col. 1:19, and 2:9. From these and other testimonies we believe that "God is in Christ," so that all that God does is through Christ, as mediator, and all that Christ does is by the power of the Father given Him. Hence he could say, "I and my Father are one," and "He that hath seen me hath seen the Father." But as the Father gave him the power He could also say, "My Father is greater than I."
With the prayer in our hearts that the "Spirit of Truth" will help in "rightly dividing the word," let us look at John 5:21, which is thought by some to be a "Thus saith the Lord" for the idea that the "Father as distinct from the Son" will raise not only a part but all of the dead.
"As the Father raiseth up the dead and quickeneth them, even so the Son quickeneth whom He will." If the quickening by the Son refers to the work of elevating after the resurrection, the Son will have nothing to do, for the Father quickens all He raises. To quicken is to make alive, and the double statement gives emphasis to the idea of life by resurrection (modern resurrectionists do not give life). A careful reading of the context instead of confirming the assumption that the Father, separately, will raise the dead, will show that the work is committed by the Father into the hands of the Son. The plan of the ages will help in dividing the word.
The closing work of the Jewish age was the turning point between the work of the Father and of the Son. "My Father worketh HITHERTO, and [now] I work." Ver. 17.
Raising the dead may well be regarded as the climax of physical healing. He that can do the greater can certainly do the less. And if Christ has not the power over physical death, he could not heal a single disease or save any person from dying. Before the incarnation the Father healed disease and raised the dead, but, says Jesus, "The hour is coming and now is (The harvest of the Jewish age was the dawn of the Gospel age) when the dead shall hear the voice of the SON of God, and they that hear shall live." (Ver. 25.) True, "the Son can do nothing of himself." (Ver. 19.) The Father shows the Son (Ver. 20), so that what the Father can do the Son can do also (Ver. 21); after which the Son does the work (Ver. 22). "That all men should honor the Son even as they honor the Father." (Ver. 23.)
"As the Father hath life in himself, so hath He given to the Son to have life in himself; and hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of Man." (vs. 26,27.) Now that the life and power are given to Christ, do not be surprised if He exercises his power in giving the life.
[NOTE – Do not think because Christ was dealing with physical diseases and death, that therefore we imagine his work was confined to physical things "All power" (physical and spiritual) belongs to Christ, and the object of physical benefits is that men thus saved may "come to the knowledge of the truth." The natural is the type and steppingstone to the spiritual].
He exercised that power in the raising of Lazarus, the widow's son, and Jairus' daughter; and not only during his earthly life and ministry but after his exaltation, also, the "Name of Jesus," by the Apostles, wrought wonderful cures, and brought the dead back to natural life again. Not in their own name, nor in the name of the Father, but in the name of the Lord Jesus, be it remembered, these cures were done. The reason is obvious, as they were acting under a commission from him who had said, "All power is given to ME in Heaven and earth." In the exercise of this power Christ, as the head of the anti-typical Elias, will in due time "restore all things." "Marvel not at this, for the hour is coming in the which all that are in their graves shall hear HIS voice and shall come forth." John 5:28,29. The context shows that the pronoun "his" in the above refers to the Son and not to the Father.
True, "merely" a resurrection is not all that is involved in a "Restitution of all things," but it is certainly included in that work, and it seems as if all might see that Christ's work as head of an immortal race is over and above his work as Redeemer – or restoring what was lost in Adam. Before Christ could complete the work of bringing man to the image of God, He must redeem man from death, as all the Father had done for man was lost by sin. Hence we are dependent on Christ for both "life and immortality," which are "brought to light through the Gospel." 2 Tim. 1:10. The recovery is by the ransom, and the glorification is by the light, "to all them that obey him." If it be remembered that it is "God in Christ reconciling the world to himself," it will be seen that we honor both the Father and the Son, and there will be no more difficulty in harmonizing the statements: "I will raise him up at the last day," John 6:40 and "He that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies." Rom. 8:11. Both are by the same spirit which, in the ninth verse, is called the "Spirit of God," and also the "Spirit of Christ." So, also, Jesus could say, "I have power to lay down my life, and I have power to take it again." John 10:18: and Peter could say truly, "God raised him from the dead." Acts 3:15.
[I would not impugn the motives of any who differ, but we should guard against a tendency to unconsciously strain a passage to make it help prove a new theory. This is often done without realizing that well established truths are belittled. We would unlearn our errors but hold fast to truths.]
When Jesus was raised it was by the Spirit, and therefore not in the flesh, for "That which is born of the Spirit is Spirit." John 3:6; and when the Saints are raised "it is raised a spiritual body" for the same reason. Truly we have a right to exclaim: "Thanks be unto GOD, who giveth us the VICTORY THROUGH OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST." 1 Cor. 15:5,7.
The Christian's life is one of continual trials, of such a nature that the superficial Christian, who does not fully comprehend their use, and is not fully convinced that all things work together for good, to them who love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose, can not endure them.
The afflictions of the gospel can not be endured without the consolations of the gospel. Paul says: "For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ. And whether we be afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effectual in the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer; or whether we be comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation." 2 Cor. 1:5,6. page 3
"For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh out for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which [R28 : page 3] are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal." 2 Cor. 4:16,17.
Again, we read in Rom. 8:18: "For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us."
Then, while "filling up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ," Col. 1:24, though at times they may be grievous; (for no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous), nevertheless, "Afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby." Heb. 12:11.
"Though we be troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; always bearing about in the body, the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body." 2 Cor. 4:8-10.
"Understanding that these things are designed to work out for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, we can rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only so, but we can glory in tribulation also, knowing that tribulation worketh patience; and experience, hope; and hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us." Rom. 5:2,5.
"Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing had happened unto you, but rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad with exceeding joy." 1 Pet. 4:12,13.
"It became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings." Heb. 2:10.
"He was tempted in all points like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need." Heb. 4:15,16.
For consider him that endureth such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds." Heb. 12:3.
"Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin; and ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children; my son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of Him, for whom the Lord loveth, He chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom He receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards and not sons." Heb. 12:4-8. Think of the worthies of the past, who, through faith, subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens; women received their dead raised to life again, and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection; and others had trials of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover, of bonds and imprisonments. They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword; they wandered about in sheep-skins and goat-skins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. And these all, having a good report through faith, received not the promise; God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect." Heb. 11:33-40.
We certainly are not called upon to endure greater trials than those worthies of the past. There hath no temptation or trial taken you but such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will, with the temptation, also make a way of escape, that ye may be able to bear it." 1 Cor. 10:13.
"Wherefore, it behooved Him – Christ – to be made like unto his brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. For in that He himself hath suffered, being tempted, He is able to succor – deliver – them that are tempted." Heb. 2:17,18.
So the glory of the future will be exceedingly intensified in consequence of an experience with the trials of this life. But the glory will hardly be realized by those who seek it from selfish motives, simply for the good of the individual. They who "serve God to escape future punishment and gain heaven," will fail to reach the goal they seek. Such do not experience the peculiar trials referred to in the Scriptures, consequently will not be partakers in the glory. Jesus Christ gave himself for the good of the world, and became heir of the world; and those who give themselves, or suffer with him, will be glorified together with him.
That He might become a faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, and know how to succor the tempted, it was necessary that he should be made perfect through suffering. If we would share with Him in the Royal Priesthood, we must also be perfected by trials that we may know how to sympathize with humanity. So the body of Christ, coming through the varied experience of six thousand years, will, as the Royal Priesthood, be qualified to meet the necessities of humanity of all ages and nations.
It is often asked why God did not make man so that he could not sin, and consequently suffer and die, and pass through such a terribly dark experience? The answer is found in what is said of the church. The blessing which will come to the world through the instrumentality of the kingdom of God will be more fully appreciated, because of the long experience with the kingdom of Satan.
Understanding something of the position we are to occupy, and the use of the trials, can we not, by the help of the Spirit, endure as long as an allwise Father, who makes all things work together for good to those who love Him and are the called according to his purpose, sees to be necessary? Jesus, our head, lived as an example for us, that we should walk in his steps. He was persecuted and reviled, and endured such contradiction of sinners against himself; was a man of sorrow and acquainted with grief, and had not where to lay his head. Are we called upon to endure more? When He was reviled, he reviled not again; when He suffered he threatened not, but committed his cause to Him who judges righteously. 1 Pet. 2:23.
Blessed are ye when men shall revile you and persecute you, and say all manner of evil against you falsely for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad, for great is your reward in heaven; for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you. Matt. 5:11,12. If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye, for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you; on their part He is evil spoken of, but on your He is glorified. But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evil doer, or as a busy-body in other men's matters. Yet, if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God on this behalf. For the time has come that judgment – trial – must begin at the house of God; and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? Wherefore, let them that suffer according to the will of God, commit the keeping of their souls – lives – to Him in well doing as unto a faithful creator. 1 Pet. 4:14-19.
Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another; love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous; not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing, but contrariwise, blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing. For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing than for evil doing. 1 Pet. 3:8-17.
But the end of all things is at hand; be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer, and, above all things, have fervent charity among yourselves. Use hospitality – liberality – one to another without grudging. As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. 1 Pet. 4:7-10. That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold, which perishes, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ; whom, having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith, even your salvation. 1 Pet. 1:7,9.
I firmly believe that a profound, Divinely ordained correspondence exists between things spiritual and things natural. Observe the order of my words: Between things spiritual and things natural, putting things spiritual first. This is a vital point. For we are wont to think that it is by a species of happy accident that certain resemblances exist between the kingdom of matter and the kingdom of spirit. Thus we are wont to cite certain metaphors of Holy Scripture as instances of God's condescension, representing Him as adjusting Himself to our weakness by setting forth spiritual truth in metaphors, that is, in language "borrowed," as we say, from human relations and material phenomena.
It is well worth pondering, however, whether God, instead of thus borrowing from Nature, and so employing an after-thought, did not create Nature for this very purpose, among others, namely: of illustrating His spiritual kingdom, Nature being in a profound sense its counterpart, answering to it as though in way of shadow and impress – E.g., we are told that the Church is Christ's body. 1 Cor. 12:12-27. Of course, it is easy to trace many analogies between the natural organism of the head and its body, and the spiritual organism of Christ and the church. But whence came these analogies? Are they accidental? Did Jesus Christ adjust Himself to a scheme of nature already existing? Or did He, foreknowing all things from the beginning, and foreseeing the peculiarly vital relation He would sustain to His own chosen people, so construct the scheme of nature that the human organism of head and body should set forth the mystical union of Saviour and saved? Again: Jesus Christ is said to be the bridegroom and the church his bride. Eph. 5:25-33. Is this language borrowed from the marriage institution? No; the marriage institution was founded for this very purpose, among others, namely: to set forth the unutterably tender relation between Jesus Christ and those who are His. For, as Eve proceeded from out of Adam, so does the church proceed from [R29 : page 4] out of the second Adam. Gen. 2:21-24. Members of his body, being of His flesh and of His bones. Eph. 5:30. Again: Jesus Christ is called the last Adam. 1 Cor. 15:45. Why is this name given to Him? As an after-thought suggested by the first Adam? No, but because the first Adam, in the very beginning, was instituted to be to the race natural, what the second Adam is to the race spiritual or the family of the redeemed, and, therefore, he is expressly called a figure or type of Him who was to come. Rom. 5:14. And when the theological mind of Christendom, instead of seeking to explain, as has been its wont, the second Adam by the first, shall soar higher, and seek to explain the first Adam by the second – in other words, Adam's relation to his race by Christ's relation to His redeemed – then will the doctrine of the church, or Christ's mystical body, come into clearer light and be seen resting on a more solid foundation. Again: Jesus Christ calls Himself the true bread from heaven. John 6:32-58. We see at once the appropriateness of the saying: "as the body is nourished by food, so is the spirit nourished by Christ." But how happens it that this saying is so true? Is the analogy merely accidental? or did He who in the beginning, before the world was, when forecasting His creative and redemptive acts, so devise the scheme of nature as that the sustenance of the body by food should symbolize the sustenance of the spirit by Christ? But perhaps you would say that man would have been just as dependent on food for maintenance as he now is, even had there been no Redeemer and no bread of life. The objection is more specious than solid, for it is evident that the Almighty Creator, had He so chosen, could have devised and constructed a different scheme of nature, according to which man could have lived without food. But the fact is that He has not so devised and constructed nature. On the other hand, He has so constructed man in his relations to nature as that his daily bodily life shall be a constant reminder, and prophecy, and symbol of his daily spiritual life, so that, not less for his spirit than for his body, he can each morning pray, "give us this day our daily bread."
Again: the Kingdom of God is represented as a youth; first the seed, then the blade, then the ear, then the full corn in the ear. Mark 4:26-29. It is the law of the spiritual life, and of this spiritual growth the vegetable growth around us are a magnificent symbol. The plant world is, in many particulars, a perfect picture of the spiritual. But whence this harmony? Whence this correspondence on a scale so colossal? Is it accidental? Let no believer in God dare say it. And if intentional, did the Creator arrange His spiritual kingdom with reference to His natural, or did He construct the realm of nature with reference to His spiritual realm, adjusting the former to the latter?
Take one more example: The blessed truth of God's fatherhood: "When ye pray, say Father." Luke 11:2. Conceive, and the conception is certainly possible, that the parental relation were altogether unknown, and that each human being took his station on earth as Adam did in Eden – an immediate creation of God. It is to be doubted whether under such circumstances we could have understood at all the blessed import of the Scriptural doctrine of God's Fatherhood. In fact, the heavenly love becomes a real thing to us only in our exercise and sense of our earthly. The human father's love is to men a helping image of the heavenly Father's. And this, as I verily believe, was one of the primary ends to be secured by the original establishment of the parental relation. God, in calling Himself our Father, does not borrow the epithet from earth. But in the very beginning He founded the earthly parental relation that it might suggest, prove, and explain the heavenly. Hence the resistless force of the Saviour's argument when, appealing to the very foundations of man's nature, He exclaims: "Which of you that is a father, if his son shall ask for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he ask for a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? Or if he shall ask for an egg, will he give a scorpion? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?" Luke 11:12,13. In fact, it is this Divinely ordained correspondence between things spiritual and things natural which lies at the basis of Christ's method as a teacher; for He was in the eminent, supereminent sense the parable speaker, evermore saying: The kingdom of heaven is like this or like that. "All these words spake Jesus to the multitude in parables; and without a parable spake He not unto them; that it might be fulfilled which was spoken through the prophet, saying, I will open my mouth in parables. I will utter things hidden from the foundation of the world." Psalms 78:2, Matt. 13:34,35. In fact, erase from the records of Christ's sayings all He has said in form of parable, and figure, and metaphor, leaving only what he taught in direct statements, and how comparatively meager the residue! Ah, it is the invisible world which is the metaphor! And this fact it is which makes Holy Scripture so inexhaustible in its meanings alike in respect to depth and to variety.
Truths, like the seventy whom the Lord of the kingdom sent forth, are ever apt to go in pairs. "All things," said another Jesus, son of Sirach, "are double, the one against the other." Ecclus. 42:24. "For the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made." Rom. 1:20.
Thus there are two Bibles, both issuing from the same Divine Author; the one, the Bible of the unwritten word, the other, the Bible of the written word, or, rather, the one Bible is in two volumes, the volume of Nature and the volume of Scripture; and the first volume is the second volume illustrated. For, though the written word in the order of purpose precedes the unwritten, yet in the order of time the unwritten word precedes the written. That was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural, and afterward that which is spiritual. 1 Cor. 15:46.
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Avoid extremes. The bible is so written that men are apt to stumble, because it states truth apparently, opposites. As for instance, the doctrines of "Election" and "Free Grace;" and it requires caution and a knowledge of the general plan to enable us to plan the scripture, and see the harmony. The same care is essential in regard to the relation between the natural and the spiritual, and the two features of the work of Christ. Extreme views are held by many on all these and many other points. The seeming opposites are often but different parts of the same great truth. An extremist takes one side of a truth, will not look at any other; he defends himself with the scriptures, and calls hard names and anathematizes all who cannot see as he does, or who see from the other side. There is a great deal of intolerance and quarrelling among honest men in this world of ours; and it seems that intolerance is the leading characteristic of the Beast of Rev. 13. The attitude of many professing Christians toward each other, is much like that of the two soldiers who came to deadly blows over the color of a shield. Why would they not learn until sweltering in their blood, that the two sides of the shield had different colors?
The relation between faith and works as cause and effect, if understood [R30 : page 4] might bring Paul and James together in the minds of the extremists; one class contending for faith, and the other for works. James does not contradict Paul when he says Abraham was justified by his works and not by faith only. Paul did not say Abraham was justified by faith only. "By faith Abraham obeyed" is Paul's statement which shows the harmony. Heb. 11:8. It is not only true that faith is manifested by works, but also that by works is faith made perfect. James 2:22. Justification by faith and justification by works are only different sides of the same truth.
The natural and the spiritual in God's plan are in many respects the cause of stumbling. Some see one, and some the other, both failing to see the relation between them. For this reason we have extreme literalists and extreme spiritualists. Because it can be shown that much of the old testament history is allegorical; some ignore the history entirely, and see only that of which it is the allegory. Adam and Eve represent Christ and the church; why need we for that reason ignore the history of Adam and Eve? Because of this extreme others cling to the story, and admit no spiritual significance. The same extremes are common concerning, Abraham, Isaac and Rebecca; Moses, Aaron and their work; Israel, their bondage, deliverance, journeying and their inheritance; and all that pertains to Jerusalem, its temple and its worship. Jerusalem is to be restored in the coming age: No matter, says one, Jerusalem is only a type of the Heavenly and so we will only look for the New Jerusalem. Just as if Jerusalem were not a fact as well as a type, and as if a restoration of the old would militate against the manifestation or descent of the New. Another class are afraid of the spiritual, and must have it that the New Jerusalem is nothing more than the old one restored, built up on its old site, to be the capital city of God's Kingdom in the Age to come, and are thus compelled to bring Christ and all his glorified ones down to inhabit an earthly city. Why not admit what the bible clearly teaches: that there are, in God's plan two Jerusalems, one Earthly and the other Heavenly, adapted to the restored Jew and the glorified Saint? Why ignore either one? All the promises of restoration must refer to the earthly, and prove that there will be such a city in the future; and yet that Abraham saw beyond the glory of the earthly is evident, for he desired a "better country, i.e., heavenly." Heb. 11:16 and "he looked for a city which hath foundations (twelve – the Apostles) whose builder and maker is God." Ver. 10. The relation between the earthly and the heavenly will thus be perpetuated when they are both in existence.
That in the case of the present and future bodies of the saint, there is a development or change from the natural to the spiritual is true. But this change into the spiritual life, whether reckoned as beginning at conversion or from resurrection, can in no proper sense be called a restoration, as the idea of restoring is a bringing back something that was lost, and there is no bible evidence that Adam in his best estate, as Head of the earthly race, ever had by creation, either what men receive at conversion or resurrection. Hence so far as relates to man, Restoration can only bring back natural life, as that was lost, and is the only kind of life that was lost by Adam's transgression. The natural life being lost and being the basis from which alone higher development is possible its recovery is a necessity. And that Christ took the seed of Abraham, "flesh and blood" for the express purpose of destroying the Captor – the Devil – and effecting the deliverance is clearly taught by Paul in Heb. 2. The same want of balance referred to above is manifested among two classes on this subject.
Because Jesus is clearly represented in the bible as the second Adam or Head imparting spiritual life, and giving his flesh for meat and his blood for drink in order to its support, some ignore the restoring work of Christ, with as much earnestness as if Christ had no literal flesh and blood; as if he did not actually die, [R30 : page 5] and through death destroy the Devil and deliver the captives. On the other hand some can only see the physical salvation, and belittle the Headship of Christ. Again I ask, Why not admit them both? Christ is the Restorer as well as Head, and these two parts of his work are so related to each other, that to ignore either one mars the beauty of the whole. The ransom or price paid and the consequent work of restoring, came from the nature of what was lost, and only refers to the natural; but we can also see the beauty of using the natural terms by figures in relation to the spiritual life. To say that God "as distinct from his Son" raises the dead to natural life, because God raises the dead, is no more in harmony with facts, than to say that Christ is not the Saviour at all, "because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, but specially them that believe." God is the Fountain and Christ the channel, from and through which all salvation comes.
The beauty and glory of the spiritual are not marred by the fact that Christ has a double work; but the foundation half of the gospel of Christ is lost sight of if his death is either belittled or ignored. There is reconciliation by his death, and salvation by his life. Rom. 5:10. It may be necessary to admit that there is a double to the Atonement as well as other features of God's plan, in order to keep balanced. One thing more let me say, that while we are seeking for truth it becomes us to be humble; occupying the position of learners and brethren, and not that of "lords over God's heritage;" but ever treating with tolerance and kindness all who cannot see what seems plain to us.
We are not infallible, and have found it necessary to modify some statements and opinions of the past, as a clearer view of God's plan comes to us. May we ever remember that for whatever of truth we have we are indebted to God the giver, through Him who is the Way, the Truth and the Life. He uncovers his truth or we could not see it. Not unto us but unto Him be all the praise.
"The two great orators of antiquity differ widely from each other in the effect produced on their respective audiences. Cicero's hearers went away, saying, 'What a splendid oration!' Those who listened to the philippics of Demosthenes, forgetting the orator, thought only of their oppressed country, and with one voice exclaimed, 'Let us go and fight Philip.' The best preacher is not he who sends away his hearers pleased with him, and satisfied with themselves, but he whose hearers hasten to be alone with God, and with their own hearts, trembling at sin, and admiring the Saviour."
Very few seem to realize the value of the Christian's hope and calling. If they did there would be less clinging to the lower blessings (even) of animal life, and less cause for the use of the hymn,
Perhaps the emphasis the Bible lays upon our calling cannot be shown better than by reference to the unity of the Christian with Christ. This is taught in many ways. The vine and its branches (John 15) is a beautiful illustration of the fellowship with Christ. In the figure of a house the "Foundation" and "living stones" express a similar thought. The Head and other members of our body give the same general idea. The endearing name "Wife" is given to the church, and "They two shall be one" lays stress upon the truth we are teaching. Brethren beloved, have you ever realized the fullness of this fellowship, and that fellowship with Him is the basis of our fellowship one with another? The manifestation and evidence of this Divine unity is Love for the brethren.
We are too apt to think of ourselves in the relation of servants of Christ, instead of the nearer and dearer of brethren and friends. The service of these is the service of love. The exalted relation of the Christian secures him a share in all the promises made to Christ. In relation we are Sons of God, and Christ is our elder Brother, the First-born from the dead. This of course relates to the new life by resurrection, and to our present life as possessing the "hope of the glory of God." The Son is not the Father, but in an important sense one with the Father. "I and my Father are one" cannot mean one in person, but in fellowship – "the unity of the spirit," and hence Christ prays for believers: "That they all may be one as thou Father art in me and I in thee, that they also may be one in us... AND THE GLORY WHICH THOU GAVEST ME I HAVE GIVEN THEM; THAT THEY MAY BE ONE EVEN AS WE ARE ONE." John 17:21,22. This is the doctrine we inculcate in a nutshell. We are not speaking here of the mysterious doctrine of incarnation, but of the equally mysterious and important doctrine of exaltation. It was that we might go up and share his glory that he came down, and he went up as our Forerunner, and security. Is he Heir of God – "of all things?" Heb. 1:2. So are we, "If children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ." Rom. 8:17. If we have fellowship in his sufferings and are made conformable unto his death, as a willing sacrifice, we will have fellowship in his glory. Comp. Phil. 3:10 and 2 Tim. 2:12. As His victory was by the cross so we must take the thorny road and overcome. Is He to come in glory? We also shall appear with him in glory. Col. 3:3. Is He to have dominions and glory and a kingdom that all nations should serve Him? Dan. 7:14. The same is given to the "Saints." Ver. 27. Is He to rule all nations? Psalm 2. He says, "To him that overcometh...will I give power over the nations and he shall rule them...even as I received of [R31 : page 5] my Father." Rev. 2:26,27. Is He both King and Priest? The "new song" is "Thou hast made us unto our God kings and priests and we shall reign on the earth."
Certainly the "crown," "throne" and "reign" mean far more in the Christian hope than many suppose. To be a King can mean no less than to exercise authority, and priest certainly implies the ministration of mercy. Were there no other reasons for it, we might from this know that the nations are to be ruled for the purpose of blessing them, and that even the dashing in pieces in judgment is that men may learn righteousness. Isa. 26:9. His sufferings and temptations prepared him to be able to succor the tempted. Heb. 2:18. So too, the thorny road they have walked, who are gathered out of every nation as members of the Christ of God, may serve to teach them how to sympathize with humanity in the struggle of life. Christ Jesus himself does not reach all humanity, but He will through his "many members" finish what he has undertaken, and by bringing God to man, bring man to God.
God has appointed a day in which he will judge the world in righteousness. So also "the saints shall judge the world." To judge is in one sense to rule. The judges of Israel were its rulers. "Behold a King shall reign in righteousness and princes shall rule in judgment." Isa. 32:1. The world shall have what as yet they know not – a righteous government, in which the right will be duly appreciated and rewarded, and sin shall not go unpunished. The unity of Christ and the Church secures her a share in all His work. Surely our calling is "high" indeed. "Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus; who was faithful &c." Heb. 3:1. Let his faithfulness encourage our hearts in all our weary work, and his success be the assurance of our rich reward.
"The strong argument for the truth of Christianity is the true Christian; the man filled with the spirit of Christ. The proof of Christ's resurrection is a living church, which itself is walking in a new life, and drawing life from him who hath overcome death. Before such arguments, ancient Rome herself, the mightiest empire of the world, and the most hostile to Christianity, could not stand."
Owe no man anything, but to love one another, for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. For this: "thou shalt not commit adultery;" "thou shalt not kill;" "thou shalt not steal;" "thou shalt not bear false witness;" "thou shalt not covet;" and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, viz: "thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself." "Love worketh no ill to his neighbor, therefore love is the fulfilling of the law." Rom. 13:8,10. Our love to God and for each other should be such as to cause our life's service to him, and for the members of the body of Christ to seem to us even shorter, comparatively, than was Jacob's service for Rachel, who served seven years. But his love for her was so great, that it seemed unto him but a few days. Gen. 29:20. If we were nearer perfect in love, a life of service to God, in whatever way he might see fit to use us, would be to us a pleasant service, and well pleasing to Him. I think if we would consider how great was his love for us, it would beget love in us. We would then be anxious to love him with all the heart, soul, strength and mind, also to love one another as he loved us, for we can do more in this way to please him than in any other one way. We can thus fulfill the spirit of the law, which we could do in no other. Brother; sister, did you ever meditate and think of God? One of whose main attributes is love. Yea, for God is love. Have you considered how great his love was and is for us? Has your heart not been made to leap for joy, as you have read some of the words, penned by inspired writers concerning the love of God for his children?
John it was who wrote much concerning love; hear him as he exclaims: (1 John 3:1.) "Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God." Did you ever think of that? Called to be sons and daughters of the loving God, adopted into the family of God, and have Jesus as our elder brother, and with him share all the glories of the heavenly kingdom. Yes, friends, he that has given us Jesus, will, with him freely give us all things. Surely the apostle could say: "behold what manner of love;" also God has manifested his love toward us, because he sent his only begotten son into the world, that we might live through him. "Herein is love; not that we loved God, but that he loved us." 1 John 4:9,10. "Yea he loved us before we loved him. When we were without strength, when there was no arm to save; yea, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. Thus God commendeth his love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us." Rom. 5:6,8. [R31 : page 6] Friends, here is manifested pure, unselfish love; when we were sinners, aliens from God, Christ died for us. Oh, can we not in part repay him by loving in return? Surely if we have his spirit we will love him, for love begets love. Can we not say with the Apostle Paul: "I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." Rom. 8:38,39. Not only should we love God fervently, and be unseparable from that love, but we shall love those begotten by him; (through his word of truth) this is a new commandment given unto us by Christ, viz: "that as he loved us we should love one another." John 13:35.
If we thus loved each other, it would be love indeed. If we had love one for another as Christ loved us, it would lead to the giving of our lives for each other if necessary, and that is what John says: "Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren." 1 John 3:16. True we are not thus tried, but if we were would our love enable us so to do? Has our love for each other, reached the state of perfection which seems to be brought to light in the word of truth? When we thus love, we will watch every word and action, lest we should offend our brother, for we would not hurt the feelings of any one whom we love. We should also by love serve one another. Service, when love prompts, is a pleasant service, and renders the most arduous task an easy one, and besides being a pleasant service to us, it is acceptable to God. If we thus love we can say with Paul: "If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the spirit, if any bowels and mercies, fulfill ye my joy, that ye be like minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind." Do you see the unity, brethren that Paul would have among us? He also says: "Let nothing be done through strife or vain glory." We should not be envious of one another, but in lowliness of mind, let each esteem others better than himself. Yes, if we cannot speak well of our brother, do not let us speak evil, for God will bring all things to light. "Look not every man on his own thing, but every man also on the things of others; let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus." Phil. 2:1,5. Do you not [R32 : page 6] see that in exercising love we become more like Jesus? and surely this should be our highest aim. Paul further says: "That we are taught of God to love one another. 1 Thess. 4:9. Peter says: "Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently." 1 Pet. 1:22.
John says: "Let us love one another, for love is of God. And every one that loveth is born of God and knoweth God. He that loveth not, knoweth not God, for God is love." 1 John 4:7. Is love then not important? Think on these things, meditate on them, grow in love. For (says the same Apostle) "We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren." How shall we know John? Why, if we love the brethren. No doubt many of you have asked yourselves the above question, viz: "Have I passed from death unto life" – am I now while on trial, coming off victorious through Christ, so that I shall awake in his likeness, and not come into judgment [trial] again? is the idea. Well if you are, then you find an answer. Do you love the brethren fervently out of a pure heart? If you do, you have passed from death unto life, or so says John, and he is good authority. He also says (1 John 4:12): "If we love one another, God dwelleth in us and his love is perfected in us. Hereby know we that we dwell in him and he in us, because he hath given us of his spirit." No doubt but this is the way in which his spirit bears witness with ours, that we are his children, and if children then heirs, etc. How very important then is love to each other. It shows to us in what position we stand with our heavenly Father, in fact, it is a test of sonship, for "If we love God, we must also love our brother; for if we love not our brother whom we have seen, how can we love God whom we have not seen?" Impossible. John says: If any man make such a claim, he is a liar. So, if we think we love God, and do not love our brother, we are only deceiving ourselves; for this commandment we have from him, viz., "that he who loveth God love his brother also." 1 John 4:20,21. Then let us who think we love God examine ourselves and see whether we love our brother; for in that we can make no mistake. And further, friends, "Let us love, not in word, neither in tongue, but in deed and in truth, keeping ourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life." Jude 21. If we have love to God and for each other, it becomes to us as well as to others an evidence that we have the spirit of God, for one of the first fruits of the spirit is love (Gal. 5:22); and not only is it a fruit, but love and faith form a breastplate, which signifies a piece of defensive armor, and it is necessary that we have on the whole armor of God, in order that we may be able to stand in the evil time; and it is also necessary that we be rooted and grounded in love, that we may be able to comprehend, with all saints, what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and heighth, and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, "that we may be filled with all the fulness of God." Eph. 3:7-19. "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God." Rom. 8:28. Yes, all things. Whether for the present they seem evil or no, remember they will all work for our good, if – if what? – why, if we love God.
Let us be sure, then, that we love him, and do not worry over trouble, knowing the result to us. Also, blessed are we who endure temptation, for when we are tried we shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him." James 1:12. Yes, it is for those who love him. The Lord is nigh unto all them that call upon him. "To all that call upon him in truth he will fulfill the desire of them that fear him; he also will hear their cry and will save them, The Lord preserveth all them that love him." Psalm 145:18-20. Yes, friends, in this coming time of trouble (upon which we have already entered) he will deliver us from the snare of the fowler and from the noisome pestilence. "We shall not be afraid for the terror by night,... nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness, nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday;...there shall no evil befall us, neither shall any plague come nigh our dwelling, ...because we have set our love upon him, therefore he will deliver us." Psalm 91. Oh, yes! It is profitable in many ways to love the Lord. He has provided a place of safety during the day of wrath for every trusting, loving child of his. When we are tried, we shall receive the crown of life, and it is during this time that we shall all be tried; for he shall sit as a refiner and a purifier of silver, and purify the sons of Levi. Now, especially is it needful that we become more perfect in love, for, though we shall be tried, there is to be a place of safety from the strife of tongues, from all the trouble coming on the world, and as there is such a place, you may rest assured it is for those who love him. Hence, grow in love, and let us who put our trust in God rejoice. "Let us ever shout for joy, because thou defendest us. Let us also who love thy name be joyful in thee." Psalm 5:11.
"Let us who love thy salvation say continually, the Lord be magnified." Psalm 40:16.
"For great peace have they who love thy law, and nothing shall offend them." Psalm 119:165.
HE WHO is to rule others should first learn to obey. Do you seek an opportunity for practice in ruling? Rule yourself. "Greater is he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city."*
Some say this petition was answered on the day of Pentecost, when the church of Christ was founded. Others tell us that the kingdom keeps coming as obedience to Christ increases, and still others are looking for the kingdom to come in connection with the return of our Lord.
There is doubtless some good cause for this variety of opinion, and we apprehend that the facts or testimony used in favor of them may be more harmonious than many suppose. That the church of Christ is called the Kingdom of Heaven and of God in the New Testament is clearly a fact. When Christ says: "On this Rock I will build my church...and I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven." Matt. 16:18,19. He evidently uses the terms church and kingdom interchangeably. In the parables of Christ in referring to the work of the development of the church he calls it the Kingdom. They who heartily submit to the authority of Christ are said to have been "translated into the kingdom of God's dear Son." Col. 1:13. And yet the "rich in faith" are only "heirs of the kingdom which God hath promised to them that love him." Jas. 2:5. And they that "add to their faith" all the graces of the Spirit shall have an abundant entrance into it. 2 Peter 1:11.
These are all harmonized to our satisfaction by the principle that what is to be and is being developed is spoken of as already existing. God on account of the certainty of his promise "calleth those things that be not as though they were." Rom. 4:17. From the many evidences we draw the conclusion that the church now is this Kingdom in embryo, and the future kingdom is the church perfected – glorified. Christ is its Head, and glorified, is a sample of what the whole Body is to be in due time.
Christ in another figure is the Foundation – the "Spiritual Rock" – laid in Zion, when he entered upon the higher, the spiritual life at his resurrection. From him to men flows the power by which they can rise from this earthly to a heavenly life. Each Christian is a stone in the heavenly temple, and since Pentecost is the period of fitting the stones for their proper place in the building, God's kingdom, the position occupied will be just what we are fitted for.
Now is the time for quarry work. During this period of getting the stones ready, the building does not actually exist, but is the grand ideal of the architect; but when all the stones are prepared, his ideal will be realized and manifested.
The kingdom exists now in mystery, but after the glorification of the Church, there will be a "manifestation of the sons of God" (Rom. 8:19) – "an appearing with Christ [R32 : page 7] in glory" (Col. 3:4) – as foreshadowed by the transfiguration. Till then it can never be said, The kingdom of God has come. It may be appropriate to speak of it as coming while it is being developed, because the causes are at work which will bring it about.
When the Foundation was laid it had reference to the outcome, and all true Christian work has reference to the same thing, and may draw its inspiration from the certainty of success. For this cause, doubtless, Christ taught his disciples thus to pray. The return of Christ and the coming of the kingdom are related to each other as elements of the Christian's hope, and are used invariably in the bible as motives to holiness and perseverance. "Seeing ye look for such things be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace without spot and blameless." 2 Pet. 3:14. "What manner of persons ought ye to be in holy conversation and Godliness." Ver. 11.
"He that hath this hope in him purifieth himself even as he is pure." 1 John 3:3.
A proper view of God's plan of working by ages can not militate against faithful use of present opportunities, but it will serve to balance our efforts and expectations, and afford us great comfort in the assurance [R33 : page 7] that Father is at the helm, that he loves mankind better than we do, and that "all things work together for good to them that love God, to them that are the called according to his purpose."
We would carefully distinguish between "God's kingdom," and the "kingdoms of this world." The former is to be a ruling power, the latter are to be made subject to it. Satan's kingdom rules the world now; Christ's kingdom will soon take its place. Under present rule the nations are cursed, under the coming kingdom the nations are to be blessed. And "all the ends of the world shall remember and turn to the Lord." Psa. 22. This shows the proper relation of the two petitions: "Thy kingdom come" and "Thy will be done in Earth." The destiny of the world depends on Christ's kingdom.
During the period of the development of the church, Christ exercises authority over it, and to recognize his Lordship and obey him are conditions of eternal life, and of a place in his kingdom, but when the kingdom is "set up" and manifested, he will exercise power over the nations by his church. Now is the suffering, then the glory. "If we suffer we shall also reign with him." Not only for our own sake, but for the sake of all, shall we not heartily unite in the prayer:
"Thy kingdom come?"
Paul declares that there is one mediator between God and men – the man Christ Jesus, "who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time." 1 Tim. 2:5,6. How few of the Gospel Church are prepared to receive such teaching with any degree of complacency; yet it is a glorious truth, and when rightly understood, is the cause of rejoicing, because of the goodness and love of our Heavenly Father. Opposition to the thought, as it is now understood and advocated by quite a number of Bible students, comes in consequence of a misconception of God's plan for showing his love to the world. It is so hard for us to comprehend and accept new ideas, especially when they are of a religious nature, and directly opposed to all we have been taught and have accepted from our childhood up. To testify is to give testimony for the purpose of communicating to others a knowledge of something not known to them. Jesus Christ gave himself a ransom for all, and it is to be TESTIFIED in due time.
That he gave himself, or is a "propitiation for our sins," has been testified to us, "and not for our's only, but for the sins of the whole world" (1 John 2:2), has been made known to comparatively few. "In other ages, it was not made known unto the sons of men as it is now revealed unto His holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit; that the gentiles should be fellow heirs, and of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ by the gospel." Eph. 3:5,6.
Paul writes: "I exhort, therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions and giving of thanks be made for all men – for kings, and for all that are in authority – that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life, in all godliness and honesty; for this is good and acceptable in the sight of God, our Savior, who will have all men to be saved and to come unto the knowledge of the truth." 1 Tim. 2:1-4.
"Knowledge of truth is light, and Christ is the true light, to lighten every man – high or low – that cometh into the world." John 1:9.
What would be thought of parents who would educate a part of their children for good positions in the world, and so arrange matters that the rest could not be thus educated, and then punish them for not knowing what they made it impossible for them to learn? Now, this has been and is just the exact condition of the world. A few have had opportunities to gain knowledge of truth, while the large majority have not.
In one sense, God is the father of the whole human race, and all must admit that had it been in harmony with his plan, he could have educated every one of them in the past; but the fact that he has not, shows that the due time has not yet come.
Is it not reasonable, that a God who is love, and no respecter of persons, and a kind and loving father, should provide for the education of every individual who ever came into the world? "The children ought not to lay up – provide – for the parents, by the parents for the children." 2 Cor. 12:14. "So far, they have had neither instructors nor fathers in Christ." 1 Cor. 4:15. Yet Jesus says: "It is written in the prophets, and they shall ALL be taught of God. Every man, therefore, that hath heard and learned of the Father, cometh unto me." John 6:45. "And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord, and great shall be the peace of thy children." Is. 54:13; Jer. 31:34.
Many will say, But they have all had some idea of God through the works of nature, if nothing more: – "And as many as have sinned without law, shall also perish without law." Romans 2:12. But it will be noticed that 5:16 [should read 2:16 - site Editor] says: "In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men, by Jesus Christ, according to my gospel," showing that a knowledge of Christ is necessary.
"Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved." "How, then, shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God." Rom. 10:13-17.
"And this is life eternal: that they might know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent." John 17:3.
It seems so difficult to grasp fully the idea that in all past ages God has only been choosing a few to occupy the position of kings and priests – rulers and teachers – to reign with Christ in the millennial age; yet it is the main line of thought running through the Scriptures, in types and positive statements from Genesis to Revelation.
Seeing that it would not be difficult to understand that, while the "few chosen" – the "elect" taken out of the Gentiles (Ethnon – nations), Acts 15:14 – have been receiving their education by giving themselves wholly to studying the Scriptures of truth, "which are able to make wise unto salvation" 1 Tim. 4:15,16; 2 Tim. 2:15; 2 Tim. 3:15;) and were being led into all truth by the spirit of truth, the many have had little or no knowledge of God and Christ. "They were suffered to walk after their own ways." Acts 14:16. "But their opportunity will come afterwards." Acts 15:16,17.
Surely the "narrow way" leading to the "royal priesthood" (1 Peter 2:9), is a difficult way, and few have ever found it, and they will in due time receive the "crown," because they have pressed forward along the line toward the mark, for the prize of the high calling of God, in Christ Jesus. Phil. 3:14. "For the joy that was set before them of testifying to the nations that Jesus Christ gave himself a ransom for all. That God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." John 3:16. Jesus says: "I pray not for the world, but for them thou hast given me, that they may all be one. As thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us; that the world may believe that thou hast sent me." John 17:9-21.
Under the law, when they came to reap their harvest (Lev. 23:10), a sheaf was taken as a wave offering – the first fruits of the harvest – typifying Christ. 1 Cor. 15:23. Fifty days after, two wave loaves were brought out, the first fruits unto the Lord – v. 17 – a type of the "body" of Christ, chosen and perfected by the Holy Spirit, given at Pentecost.
"Of his own will begat he us, with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of first fruits of his creatures." James 1:18. "The first fruits unto God and the Lamb." Rev. 14:4. Then there must be other fruits – other creatures – to follow. As in the type, after the first fruits were taken out, the field of grain was not destroyed, but harvested. The chaff was thrown away in both cases.
"If the first fruits be holy, the lump is also holy." Rom. 11:16.
"We who have the first fruits of the Spirit, are waiting for the adoption." Rom. 8:23.
"The earnest expectation of the creature (Ktisis – whole creation) waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God." Ver. 19; "because the creature itself, also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God." Ver. 21. [R34 : page 7]
The evidence is abundant, that we are at brink of the time spoken of: "And I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come." Hag. 2:7; transferring authority from Satan's kingdom, to the kingdom of God. "Then all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before thee." Psa. 22:27. "Then, the wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose. Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. And a high way (not a narrow way) shall be there, and a way, it shall be called the way of holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it; but it shall be for those; the wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein."
"And the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads; they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away." Isa. 35.
The Father, robed as a judge, with silvery hair, and stern aspect, is seated on a great white throne. By his side stands the Saviour with loving eyes and pleading face. The world of mankind is marshalled before him. They come up in close ranks, and with down-cast faces toward the Judge. The very large majority are addressed by him in a voice of thunder, and ordered to depart toward the left. Trembling with despair they hurry away, and are at once seized by a guard of demons, and are swiftly dragged, shrieking with terror, down, down, down. In the advancing crowd, there comes now and then one, who is at once recognized by the Saviour as a true christian; introduced to the Father as such; who with modulated voice welcomes him to the right hand; where he is immediately crowned, and seated with the angels to view the remainder of the solemn scene. This separating work to continue until all who have ever lived have passed the tribunal; the whole period of time occupied being something less than 24 hours, thus constituting "the day of judgment."
While some features of this picture are drawn from symbolic Bible imagery, the conception as a whole is very far from being a scriptural one. As to the gathering of the world before the Judge in a kind of military review, and the immediate separation of the classes, while it is the likeness in the figure, it is of necessity as far from the real, as a type is from its antitype.
The first separation is in the past. Jesus himself, while on earth, thoroughly purged the floor of the Jewish house, gathered the wheat into the Gospel church, and cast the chaff into a fire, which, culminating at the destruction of Jerusalem, burns even yet against the Jew. So far from marshalling that nation in rank and file before him, they were not even aware of the test then made, and were condemned because they knew not the day of their visitation.
The second great separation was due to take place at the end of this aionos [age] i.e., closing period of the Gospel dispensation. This work has actually been going on in our midst, and the world and worldly church know nothing of it. So in the last great harvest in the age of judgment, God's truth, the two-edged sword, will quietly, but surely, do the dividing work; and that Word not spoken but written, will plainly manifest the sheep and the goats.
As to the period comprised in "the day of judgment," if the student will but faithfully use a reference Bible or a concordance, and find the amount and kind of work to be accomplished "in that day," he will soon be glad to accept of Peter's explanation of it, that "one day is with the Lord as a thousand years;" and believing the Revelation of Jesus Christ, rejoice in the promise there given, to "reign with him a thousand years." As to
A judge, then, in those days, was a person eagerly sought after; a ruler to be desired; who would deliver his people from oppression, administer justice to the wronged, and bring peace and joy to those over whom he exercised authority.
The world, and even the church, at the present time, led astray by an unscriptural theology, puts far away the idea of Christ's presence to judge [rule] the world, as something to be dreaded by all. Not so the Heaven inspired prophets of old. To them it was the one grand and glorious epoch for which, as Paul said, "creation groaneth." Listen to David and the sweet singers of Israel, in the first psalm sung, by the first divinely appointed choir, at the home-bringing of the ark.
The day of Judgment, then, divides itself into two parts. First, a "time of trouble" during which the nations will be subdued, and humbled, and taught the lesson of Nebuchadnezzar their type, "that the Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will." Secondly, a morning, in which the Sun of righteousness will rise with healing in his wings; driving away the mists of ignorance and superstition; destroying the miasma of sin; and bringing light, and life, and love, to the downtrodden sons of men. During [R35 : page 8] the first named period, such scriptures as the following have a fulfillment:
"Behold, the day of the LORD cometh, cruel both with wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate: and he shall destroy the sinners thereof out of it. For the stars of heaven and the constellations thereof shall not give their light: the sun shall be darkened in his going forth, and the moon shall not cause her light to shine. [Symbolical of a spiritual night.] And I will punish the world for their evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; and I will cause the arrogancy of the proud to cease, and will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible." Isa. 13:9,11. "Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession. Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potters vessel." Psa. 2:8,9.
"The heathen raged, the kingdoms were moved: he uttered his voice, the earth melted...come, behold the works of Jehovah, what desolations he hath made in the earth. He maketh wars to cease unto the ends of the earth; he breaketh the bow and cutteth the spear in sunder; he burneth the chariot in the fire. Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth." Psa. 46:6,10. How does he make wars to cease? Evidently by the "desolations" above mentioned. The nations will be so satiated with bloodshed; and by bitter experience will so realize the misery of injustice, and oppression, and sin, that they will loathe themselves and their ways, and will willingly turn and seek for purity and peace. But to produce this effect the command will first go forth: "Proclaim ye this among the Gentiles; Prepare war, wake up the mighty men, let all the men of war draw near; let them come forth:
The preceding verses tell us when this blessed time will come, and also other events in this glorious day of Christ's presence, as Judge over all the earth. "It shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain [government or kingdom] of the LORD'S house [Temple: which Temple ye are. 1 Cor. 3:17.] shall be in the top of the mountains [great kingdoms of earth], and shall be exalted above the hills [lessor kingdoms]; and all nations shall flow unto it. And many people shall go and say, come ye, and let us go up to the MOUNTAIN of Jehovah, to the HOUSE of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion [the glorified Temple] shall go forth the law, and the word of Jehovah from Jerusalem [restored earthly Jerusalem and her priesthood. 33:20,21]. We are now prepared to read the 97th Psalm, which we will quote.
In view of the glorious prospect before the church and the world, can we not join the prophet in the closing words of this psalm. Light is sown for the righteous, And gladness for the upright in heart. Rejoice in Jehovah, ye righteous; and