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The TOWER comes to you as unpretentiously as the ministers of the early church. We present no list of titled and world renowned contributors – none whose fame would command your attention to the subjects we present. But we come to you with the Bible as God's Word, and seek to enlist your attention to its statements and your obedience to its requirements, and thus to lead the hearts and minds of some of God's children away from the jarring confusion of precept and doctrine, prevalent among the various divisions (sects) of Christians, into the harmony, beauty, simplicity, and confidence, which come from the study of God's Word and its acceptance as a harmonious whole and a self interpreter.
In our last number you saw some scriptures applied more pointedly than you have been accustomed to apply them, and other scriptures quoted for which you never before could find a place of application without distortion. It would be but natural that you should wonder how these things could be true, yet not recognized long ago by earnest Christians; and why so many of those in the churches manifest a bitter opposition to things so full of harmony with God's Word, and so fully vindicating the Justice, Wisdom and Love of our Heavenly Father.
In answer to your supposed queries, we suggest that if a broad view of God's dealings be taken, it shows that He has a plan with reference to men. While he was pleased in past times to reveal an outline of that plan, it was nothing more; no details were given. The details of the plan began to be recognized since Pentecost. The light of revelation shines with special brightness on the ends of the ages. Upon the ending of the Jewish age which was the beginning of the Gospel Age, glorious light shone out relative to the blessed privileges about to be enjoyed in the Gospel Age. Remember, too, that it came from the Scriptures, written long before, but which were never before appreciated and understood. Matthew Mark, Luke, John, Peter and Paul, all quoted the prophecies and applied them to the events taking place and due to take place in their day – the opening of the Gospel Age. The prophecies had been there for centuries, but the revelation or understanding of them, was reserved for those in the ends of the ages. (See 1 Cor. 10:11.) So now in the closing of the Gospel Age and dawning of the grand Millennial Age, we should expect the light to shine out brightly relative to God's plans for this incoming age. And so it does. Search and see. Gem after gem of precious truth now glows with unparalleled luster to the diligent searcher because God's due time has come for such to understand it. Soon the blessed bow of promise shall span the whole heavens, and weeping earth shall dry her tears and shout for joy.
It is no more surprising that these truths relative to God's plan for the blessing of all mankind should have been but dimly seen heretofore, than that the call of the Gentiles to be heirs of the Abrahamic promise, (Acts 11:18. Eph. 3:5,6. Gal. 3:29.) should have been but dimly seen until the Gospel Age began to dawn. We can understand prophetic Scriptural statements only as they become due. Thus – "Light, (knowledge, was long ago) sown for the righteous." When due, the light springs up and gradually unfolds. Thus our Father has made abundant provision for the household – that the servants shall bring forth things both new and old, and the household have meat in due season.
The cause of the opposition on the part of many to the truth now due, is the failure to recognize this progressive and unfolding character of God's revelation of his plans. Most Christians take for granted that good men of the past who walked in the light then due, had all the truth worth knowing. Knox, Calvin, Luther, Wesley and others were, we believe, followers in our Lord's footsteps of self-sacrifice and devotedness to God; but more truth is due in our day than in theirs. According to God's plan, the light should shine more and more until 'tis perfect day. Therefore many Christians of to-day make a great mistake, and sit in comparative darkness, when they might be walking in glorious light, because they search the theology of these men instead of the Word of God.
O, that all would turn away from musty church creeds of times past and give more earnest heed to the ever living, ever fresh, ever unfolding, ever new Word of God. Again, others take the Bible and search it only for the purpose of seeing how nearly they can make it to fit either their mental or written creed. If your habit has been such, we hope you will at once resolve to lay aside all human teachings as authoritative and hereafter judge all you hear or read by the statements of Scripture. If you believe anything, make sure that you have Scriptural statements warranting it. Prove all things, hold fast that which is good and cast away all else.
The action of the nominal church to-day relative to the light now shining clearly resembles that of the Jewish church relative to light in the end of their age. They reject every new ray of light because it would conflict with some cherished theory or statement of their creed. They are so enwrapped with their own plans and arrangements for converting the world, that they are unwilling to hear that God has a better, grander, and infinitely more comprehensive way of dealing with evil, and blessing and teaching the world. Their ears are so stopped by the din and confusion of their own religious efforts that they cannot discern the plan of Jehovah.
Satan indeed is doubtless interested in the promotion of the Babel confusion of sects, and stimulates and encourages that zeal which is not according to knowledge, and thus he hinders their hearing Jehovah's voice, saying, "Be still and know that I am God, (the mighty one); I will be exalted among the heathen; I will be exalted in the earth." (Psa. 46:10.) The power to do this is with our Father and not with us. When he gives the saints with Christ their Lord, the heathen for an inheritance – when He gives the kingdom under the whole heavens to the people of the saints, THEN, and not by poor human effort, will God's kingdom come and His will be done on earth as it is in heaven. (Dan. 2:35,44 and 7:18,27.)
Notwithstanding many discouraging circumstances and the severe trial of faith which has been, and is still testing the household of faith, we rejoice in the assurance of our Father's Word that "The Lord knoweth them that are His," and we know that all things shall work together for good to them." His Word repeatedly assures us that in the days of the Son of Man – during the presence of Christ – we must expect that He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver to purify and purge of all dross. We have before seen that this purifying relates to all things – to questions of governments and subjects, capitalists and laborers, masters and servants; in a word it is the purifying of all things, political, social, scientific and religious. Scripture affirms that this testing and purging commences with the Church – God's Temple." (Read carefully Malachi 3:1-4.)
If then, we are living in the transition period which closes the Gospel Age and introduces the Millennial Age, called "The day of the Lord," should WE be surprised at these tests of the Refiner, whom we recognize as being now present? "Beloved think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing 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 also with exceeding joy. If ye be reproached for the name of Christ (not as evil doers) happy are ye, for the spirit of glory and of God resteth on you...The time is come that judgement must begin at the house of God." 1 Peter, 4:12-17. (The word judgment sometimes refers to the process of trial, and sometimes to the result of trial – the sentence. In the first sense the judgment of the church began with the beginning of the Gospel Age; in the latter sense it belongs to the end or harvest of the age. This testing now going on separates the true and the false, the wheat and the tares in the nominal church, and already the welcome "well done" begins to be realized by the faithful, who even here begin to enter into the joy of their Lord as the light of His Word reveals the glorious future.)
We should be arming ourselves with the whole armor of God's Word, and bracing ourselves for our own final testing, by girding up the loins of our minds with the girdle of truth, that we may be able to withstand in this evil day, For "a thousand shall fall at thy side and ten thousand at thy right hand." (Eph. 6:13; Psa. 91:7.)
And some of them of understanding shall fall to try and to purge and to make white. (Dan. 11:35) This will shake loose from all earthly supports and confidence in man's wisdom. It will have the effect of binding some still closer to the Master's teachings, and to a more close inspection of every thought advanced or received to see whether it be God's teaching they are building with, and whether they are firmly built upon the foundation-rock that Christ died for our sins. [R415 : page 2]
In the midst of this testing time however, the Lord sends many encouragements for which we praise Him. Among others are many encouraging words from the faithful in Christ Jesus, telling us how they continue to grow up into Christ; how they daily become stronger and better able to overcome the allurements of Anti-christ and the spirit of the world.
"It was on an occasion in which his audience was supposed to be entirely of strangers, and we were very gently led to suppose that possibly if we were not brought to the light in this age, there might be a chance in another, but that after all it is better to be converted at once so as to make sure of it. This man has vastly changed in regard to what he preaches since I have known him. He has evidently read the book "Food" and is breaking it gently. It may be bias, though I think not, but I fancy that the "Food" must have been read in many thinking quarters, because I very distinctly recognize in many of the leaders of pulpit thought, the spirit of the work. I believe that the fruit is ripening.
Another from Titusville, says – he thinks the influence of this truth now permeates to a greater or less extent, every pulpit in that region. We mention these things that you may be encouraged, for often we might feel like Elijah that we are measurably alone; but like him should know that there are others who do not bow either to Baal or Babylon.
Many letters must go unanswered, and many must wait a long time. If the letter does not seem to need an answer, or if some printed matter will answer its queries, we simply read, fill its orders, and omit special answering. You will not be surprised at this when we inform you that of this present edition we print 20,000 copies, and that the letters received have for some time past, averaged from 500 to 600 per week. To answer every one would be impossible. There are at present four persons engaged in answering letters, besides what the Editor answers personally, and even then we can only attend to the most important ones.
We published 200,000 copies of the last number of the TOWER, and issued them from New York City for the sake of economy and dispatch. On our return to Pittsburgh we met much to encourage us – kind words and donations, etc., – some small sums, and some larger. The Master knows, not we, which were the largest, for sometimes he reckons a widow's mite as more than the larger offerings of those who have more abundantly.
One German brother who sent $100 did not sign his name; we hope he will send his address that he may receive the paper regularly. These things gave encouragement, which doubtless the Lord saw we needed, and we at once made arrangements for an issue of another 100,000 edition of the same October number, which will hereafter be without date, as a missionary number. When these have gone out upon their mission, carrying to God's children "Glad tidings of great joy, which shall be unto all people," which will be in about a month, we hope to be ready to send forth still another 100,000.
We wish that those especially who have contributed to the "Tract Fund," could read some of the letters which come from children of God in whose hearts there has for a long time been pent up the flame of ardent love to God – almost smothered by false ideas of his justice as viewed from an unscriptural standpoint.
There are thousands of saints preaching the glad tidings by loaning the TOWER, and reading and explaining it to others. We have plenty of the October number, and you may order all you can use judiciously, without charge.
DEAR BRO. – The "Foods" you sent me have been distributed and are doing good work for the blessed Master. A number have been brought to the light through reading them. The truth is setting us free in this section, and we feel in our hearts that it has been instrumental in God's hands in doing much for us.
The question with me has been how to present this truth to others in the most effectual manner. I am trying to speak to the people every week two or three times, but I feel my incapacity to such an extent that the cross is heavy at times. I have often thought I would not speak any more in public until I was better qualified if I could have my own way about it. What shall I do, who is sufficient for these things?...Praise the Lord for his mercy endureth forever.
Yours in hope of being one of the Bride company.
(We would be very glad if some German brother with necessary ability, would volunteer to translate Oct. Z.W.T. into German. A Swedish translation is also much called for. Would be glad to hear a similar report from some capable Swedish brother. Here is a place in the harvest field for some one. – ED.)
Love is that tender solicitude and affection with which anything commanding admiration and respect, is regarded. That which is not lovely never can be loved in the true sense of the word. A degenerate nature may desire and find a morbid satisfaction in that which is unlovely, but that is not love. Love wherever found is a gleam of the divine likeness, and is spontaneously awakened by the presence of that which is noble and pure and good. This wonderful principle binds in holiest and most delightful union and harmony all intelligent beings controlled by it. God is the most glorious exhibition of its nobility and grandeur. It is the law of his being, and shall ultimately be the controlling law of all his universe.
But one inquires, if only that which commands admiration and respect can be truly loved, how could God love sinners and tell us to do the same? We reply that God never loved sinners as such; he loved the jewel he had brought into perfect being because it was truly lovely; and when, under temptation it lost its excellence and glory, his love for its perfection pitied it in its fall, while his justice condemned it; and that love devised the wondrous scheme for its recovery.
Let us here note the attitude of Jehovah towards those whom he so loved as to give his only begotten Son to redeem them. For six thousand years he has permitted their adversary to have dominion over them: Famine and pestilence have stalked abroad; hatred and strife, and war and bloodshed, have filled the earth with untold agony and woe, until the grave closed over generation after generation. Six thousand years, but no deliverance yet; God still stands off, and still the king of terror reigns. When the long promised Deliverer comes, it is to rule with a rod of iron – to dash in pieces as a potters vessel the kingdoms of earth, which from human standpoint seem necessary for protection against greater evils. In fear and dismay men look upon God as an enemy, and seek to hide from his presence; yet "God is love," and
"He knows, not they, how sweet accord
Shall grow at length from out this clash
Of earthly discords, which have jarred
On soul and sense: They hear the crash,
But do not know that on His ear,
Breaks harmony – full, deep, and clear."
Now the love of God is vailed, but soon it shall be revealed in the glorious restoration to Edenic perfection and bliss. Soon "the redeemed of the Lord (all mankind) shall return and come with singing unto Zion, (the church in kingdom power,) and everlasting joy shall be upon their heads: they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and mourning shall flee away." Thus viewing God's dealings, we see that his wisdom often veils his love.
True love while it seeks to shield and protect, will justly judge and endeavor to eradicate a fault – expose it, let the light shine on it and show it up to those affected by it, that it may be removed, and grace and beauty take its place.
A very false notion of love obtains among the majority of christian people, and under this false notion our adversary endeavors to shield some of the most dangerous and deadly errors that seek to sap the very foundation of the christian's hope. Let this deadly thing which the adversary dares to present to God's children be touched by the sword of the spirit [R416 : page 2] which is the Word of God, and he who wields it is said to be uncharitable, loveless. But does this make it so? By no means. Jesus was full of the love of God, but he spoke most emphatically against evil-doers: – "Ye blind guides which strain at a gnat and swallow a camel;" "Woe unto you for you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men; ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in." (Matt. 23:13-33.) And again he said to erring Peter, "Get thee behind me Satan, (adversary) thou art an offence unto me, for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men." (Matt. 16:23.) But how differently the Lord's rebukes affected his loving disciples and the proud pharisees.
Paul was a noble pattern of his Master's spirit in his zeal for the truth, and his care for fellow members of the church. His usual manner toward all, like that of Jesus, was kind, generous, and affectionate, but did Paul cover the truth, shield error, or fail to warn an erring brother or the flock of God against the encroachments of the enemy? If he had so done, as an unfaithful steward he would have lost his stewardship. Though Peter was a noble soldier of the cross and fellow servant in the Lord, Paul withstood him to the face when, by giving way to the old nature for a time, he was to be blamed. (Gal. 2:11.) Note in connection with this, the sympathy and love existing between these brethren; (2 Pet. 3:15.) evidently the rebuke was accepted in the spirit of meekness. And again we find Paul faithfully warning the church against some ("many") who had become the enemies of the cross of Christ. (Phil. 3:18.)
Does some one object that we must "judge not that we be not judged?" We reply that to exercise human judgement in condemning others would be wrong; but to apply the judgement of God as expressed in his Word is right. We are commanded to do so. And the various descriptions of evil deeds, false teachings, and seducing doctrines, are given that we may judge – "That the man of God may be thoroughly furnished," for reproof, for correction of error and instruction in righteousness. (2 Tim. 3:16,17.) It is therefore the duty of every child of God to judge what is right and what is wrong, what is true and what is false. That against which we are cautioned is judging by other standards than the Word of God – condemning on our own, or any other human authority. That Paul judged according to God's Word and taught the church to do the same is very clear. (See 1 Cor. 5:3; Gal. 2:11; 1 Thes. 5:21; 2 Tim. 4:2; 1 Cor. 6:2,3. Note also Paul's prayer that love might abound in judgement, Phil. 1:9,10).
No doubt Paul's faithfulness in seeking to build up and establish the church in purity of doctrine and life, was often misunderstood, and failed to be appreciated by them. This is very apparent from 1 Cor. chap. 4. "But (he says) it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you, or of man's judgment. He that judgeth me is the Lord." Then speaking of his labor and suffering for them, he says: "I write not these things to shame you, but as my beloved sons I warn you." (Read the chapter throughout.)
Jesus said: "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one toward another," and Paul says: "Let love be without dissimulation; abhor that which is evil, cleave to that which is good." When contending with an unseen, but wily and powerful foe, what mere hypocrisy is that profession of love which fails to warn of immediate or approaching danger.
The new creature in Christ is a jewel of infinite value, "and every one that loveth him that begat, loveth him also that is begotten of him." (1 John 5:1.) Dearly beloved, "Be kindly affectioned one to another, with brotherly love; in honor preferring one another;" "Reprove, rebuke, exhort (each other with all long-suffering and doctrine." Give and receive in the spirit of meekness, remembering that "Love vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, doth not behave itself unseemly (unbecomingly) seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil."
By this mutual love, and this care one for another, will all men be able to discover who are Jesus' disciples – "Let love be without dissimulation; abhor that which is evil, cleave to that which is good." So shall you "be blameless and harmless, the sons of God without rebuke in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world."
OUR NEW NAME.
Thy name, Oh, Heavenly Bridegroom!
Can we ever hope to bear?
Shall we see Thy matchless glory,
And in Thy kingdom share?
With smiles of loving welcome,
Wilt Thou say to us, well done?
When our pilgrim days are ended,
And our race for life is run?
Yes, I hear Thee sweetly saying,
In words of love divine,
"If now with Me thou'lt suffer,
My glory shall be thine.
If now with Me thou'rt crucified,
New life to thee I'll give,
And through eternal ages,
My bride shall with Me live."
Oh, glorious fount of blessing!
We will haste without delay,
Our little all to Thee to give,
Who dost such joys repay;
We care not, Lord, for earthly fame,
Its honors, or its pride,
But let us bear Thy sacred name,
And own us as Thy bride.
Thy name above all others grand,
Which Thy waiting bride shall own;
When Thou shalt call her to Thy side,
And share with her Thy throne;
Through realms of fadeless glory,
Shall all its power confess;
And every tongue on earth shall praise,
"The Lord our righteousness."
This subject is again coming up for consideration, and we would not hinder it if we could. Rather would we be found aiding in the investigation. When we know that a doctrine rests on the Word of God we can rest on it without fear. Many of God's children, though walking in the light, are inclined to lean too much on the arm of flesh; and if we mistake not God is going to shake them loose. Blessed will they be who are standing on the rock of his truth.
All do not have equal facilities for searching the Word, so we wish to help. We would say, however, that there is but little excuse for the most of us, seeing that good reference Bibles are so cheap. A teacher's Bible and a full concordance, a prayerful heart and an honest mind, with time and patience, are all we need – God will give the rest.
Study carefully and prayerfully the following texts; use them as starting points with your reference Bibles; you will find plenty more. Keep a list of all you find; compare any theory of the atonement, no matter where it comes from, with every text on your list; if it agrees, believe it; if not, reject it. Let God's Word be the end of all controversy between you and every doctrine brought before you. Don't be afraid to investigate. "Light is sown for the righteous." "Prove all things, hold fast that which is good."
The just died for the unjust. 1 Pet. 3:18; consider also the meaning of the sacrifices of 4,000 years.
"A little Scripture is better than a good deal of reasoning."
When God created man, he endowed him with qualities of being like his own. Qualities of justice and judgment fitted him to be a ruler; qualities of mercy and love prepared him to be a reasonable, kind and wise ruler. Such is a brief description of earth's first king – Adam. An image of his Creator, (not physically, but mentally and morally,) he is to be invested with authority over earth and its affairs, like as God is ruler over all, as we read: After our likeness let them have dominion over the beast of the field, the fowl of heaven and the fish of the sea. [Gen. 1:26]. Thus was he installed lord of earth. He was but another form of creation, a step lower than angels, as lower and under him, came the brute creation. Accordingly we read: "Thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honor. Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of Thy hands. Thou hast put all things under his feet." [Psa. 8:5-6].
As God had foreseen, man disobeys his superior ruler, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. This cannot be allowed to go unpunished. He had been informed from the first that disobedience to God would be sin, and that its legitimate punishment and effect is death. While man always was mortal, i.e. liable to death, if disobedient to God's laws, yet the loving Creator had made every provision necessary to his welfare, in the garden prepared for his trial. And not only had He arranged that the soul (person) that sinned should die, but also that if obedient the person should continue to live. The means for life's continuance was in "every tree of the garden," i.e., the food provided for man's sustenance was amply sufficient to meet all the wastes of his system, and would have preserved the freshness and vigor of his perfect being forever. This would be everlasting life.
When man became a sinner the penalty "death" must be executed. It mattered not so far as the penalty was concerned, whether Adam should die the same moment that he disobeyed, or the same year, or a thousand years after. He must die. The word "day" used in connection with the penalty, is the general term used now as well as in past times, for a period or epoch of time, as: "The day of temptation in the wilderness – forty years;" the days of creation, etc. The marginal reading clears up the meaning: "In the day that thou eatest thereof, dying, thou shalt die." [Gen. 2:17]. This was fulfilled not by God's striking Adam dead with a thunderbolt but simply by cutting off his access to the life-giving food supplied by the trees of the prepared garden. Accordingly an angel drove Adam from the garden and prevented with flaming sword, his access thereafter to the tree (trees or woods) of life. [Gen. 3:24].
Thus was the Lord of creation driven out into the world which God, foreknowing his fall, had left in an unprepared or "cursed" conditions. The garden which we are told was "prepared" was doubtless an illustration of what the whole earth will be when man and his perfect conditions are restored – in "The times of restitution of all things which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets."
Thus thrown upon his own resources for obtaining by sweat of face, elements to sustain life, Adam found it a hard lot, and by its effects was enabled to know what evil is, and the exceeding bitterness of sin. And oft, no doubt, he desired, perhaps prayed, that he might be permitted again to dwell in Eden, and promised that with his present knowledge of sin and evil he would more highly prize the good things there enjoyed and more fervently love and obey Him "from whom cometh every good and perfect gift." But though God's plan was no less loving than this, it was broader, wiser and more comprehensive. God's plan was to let, not only Adam, but also the entire race, learn just this same lesson of the bitterness of sin and disobedience which each must individually learn to fully appreciate. Then bringing all back to the Eden condition, sin might be forever banished, and the entire race live in harmony with God.
Toil and care told in time upon even the perfect physical form of a perfect man, resulting finally in his complete overthrow and wresting from his grasp the last shred or spark of life. He is dead. After nine hundred and thirty years of struggle with his foe – death – he is conquered. The penalty of sin was inflicted and continues, to this moment, since he still is one of the prisoners in the great charnel house of death, which has since swallowed up the race, and will hold them all until the second Adam, who ransomed the race, and who declares, "I have the keys of hell and death" [hades – the grave] [Rev. 1:18] shall take his great power and reign, releasing "the prisoners of the pit" [grave], "the captives" of sin and death.
But not only did the casting out from the life-preserving fruits of the garden tend, to the impairing of Adam's physical powers, but of his mental qualities also. It was not possible that he should retain perfect mental vigor, when he became physically impaired, thought being the product of the mental organism made active by the physical vitality.
We see then that Adam's mental powers decreased with his physical deterioration, and the moral qualities of his mind suffered the most. While the energy of body and mind were taxed to their utmost to take care of self, it is but reasonable to suppose that the quality of benevolence (love) which as he was in God's image, must have been one of the ruling characteristics of his being was crowded out, and the qualities of acquisitiveness (selfishness) and combativeness were developed instead. This same idea followed out would show us that all the higher, grander, nobler qualities were suffered measurably to decline, while all of the lower ones (common to the lower animals) were the more developed.
As man lost the grandeur of his being, and its powers decreased, his rulership over the lower creation, as well as over self gave way, until today we find him afraid of all wild beasts, and that they no longer recognize the rulership of their fallen lord. And the influence once exercised by our father Adam is barely discernable in the occasional man who can master and tame (partially) the ferocious beasts. Here we have a brief glance at the first dynasty of earth and its overthrow. Now we see the result: "By sin came death." In the expressive language of Paul,
Such a ransom and deliverance was a part of God's plan from the first; and we read "for this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil" – sin and death. [1 John 3:8.] And not only so, but also, "him that hath the power of death, that is, the devil." [Heb. 2:14], and thus release from his grasp all of the race.
But as Satan and death are acting in harmony with a law of the universe, viz: that no sinner shall be permitted to live, and that every creature shall be perfect in its own plane of existence, the one who would deliver the race from his authority must satisfy these claims of the law of the universe. This the fallen ones could not do for themselves, as God had from the first foreknown and arranged for in His plan. Carrying out this plan He had already condemned the entire race on account of one man's disobedience. His purpose from the first being that he would provide another man, who, being without sin, should give himself "a ransom for all" the race – that "as by one man's disobedience [the] many [all] were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall [the] many [all] be made righteous" (justified from sin and death). Rom. 5:19.
But who is the one righteous, pure, holy, sinless, one? How could there be such an one among a race all of whom were condemned. "There is none righteous, no not one," the scriptures answer. But when mankind had learned effectually his own weakness and inability to deliver himself from death, his extremity became [R417 : page 4] God's opportunity, and "God's eye pitied, and His arm brought salvation." The very chief of God's creation higher than angels and archangels [Heb. 1:5-8], He who is called "the beginning of the creation of God" [Rev. 3:14] is selected as the one who shall undergo the labors of redeeming humanity. We are not to suppose this was an irksome or unwilling work, for we cannot suppose a being in perfect harmony with Jehovah who would not take delight in doing his will. Nor would obedience be the only motive which would actuate, partaking as all perfect beings on whatever plane they exist must, of the divine quality – love – he would love to do the work for the sake of its benefits to mankind, releasing them from death. This no doubt was a part of the joy set before him, for which he, endured the [R418 : page 4] cross despising the shame. [Heb. 12:2].
Aside from this joy at the opportunity to release the human race from death, was that of "bringing many sons to glory," i.e., a part of the race "a little flock." "To these gave he power to become sons of God." "For, as many as are led by the spirit of God, are the sons of God." These, according to God's plan, may, by intimate association with him be reckoned as the bride of Christ and as such enter the heavenly family. To these sons this mighty one would be a leader or "captain of their salvation." And yet another part of this
But how shall this redemptive work be accomplished? We have seen that God's plan was, that since by man came death, by man should also come the resurrection of the dead. [1 Cor. 15:21]. Then to redeem man, this mighty one must become a man in every particular. He must partake of "flesh and blood," [Heb. 2:14], and consequently must have all the qualities of the fleshly race, not the sinful and depraved qualities with which we now are burdened, but he must be a perfect man, standing exactly where Adam stood, except that he would know more perfectly the exceeding sinfulness of sin and its dire effects which he saw everywhere about him, and also for what purpose he had come. He took not the nature and form of angels, for that would not have answered, but he took the nature and form of a man.
All things are now ready. "In the fullness of time, God sent forth his Son, born of a virgin," "born not of the will of the flesh but of the will of God" – in a word, as much of a specially creative act on God's part as was the creation of Adam; the difference being that the one could say, "The earth is my mother," the other was "born of a woman." Had he in any way been a descendant of Adam he would have been under the curse of death, as are all other members of that race. He would have been as unable to keep the law as other men in whom sinful dispositions and depraved human nature are born. But while of the same (human) nature he is a new being, distinct from the race. He is born, grows in wisdom and in stature but manifests powers beyond others because he is perfect, they imperfect. Now he has reached maturity (according to the law) at thirty years of age. He knows as no one else does the great work for which during those thirty years he has been coming – his body preparing – it was "for the suffering of death" – that he "should taste death for every man" – "that through death he might destroy death," and liberate the dead race – "in due time." Now he is come, the second perfect sinless man, and offers this perfect life as a ransom for the race – "Lo, I come, (as) in the volume of the book it is written of me, to do thy will, O, God." [Heb. 10:7]. This was his covenant, to die, as he afterward expressed it, saying: "For this cause came I into the world." And here in type he was buried in the water and rose again, thus making the picture of that which he covenanted to do.
Now as the perfect one he has done all that he can do, given himself up to die as the Father may will, but though the death has not actually occurred (at baptism) it is so reckoned, (as with us when we covenant), and the new nature's powers and will, which belong to the spiritual body, which he is to be when the work of death is complete; ("raised a spiritual body,") these powers and qualities were given him as soon as the human – earthly – body was consecrated. This was at his baptism when the spirit descended and a voice from heaven acknowledged His begetting again to the spiritual plane and to the Divine nature. "This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased." [Matt. 3:17]. Henceforth the life of Jesus is that of a dual being, the outward form being the man Christ Jesus, whose life and being were daily spent for the good of others – a body already given up to death.
The new being within – the Divine nature – was the spirit power of God. And in this he is the pattern and leader of "all who come unto God by Him," "who become partakers of the Divine nature" – the "little flock" called his bride – His body. We must surrender ourselves to God – be baptized into his death – in order to be begotten of the spirit and receive the earnest of our new spiritual being, the fullness of which will be received when we are completely delivered from this fleshy condition to our spiritual bodies.
Thenceforth he "did not his own human will" but was "led of the Spirit," and the actions now were of God, as Jesus testified: "The word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father's, which sent me." [John 14:24 and 17:8]. "The Father that dwelleth in me, He doeth the works." [John 14:10]. If we as our head "are led by the Spirit of God" – even unto death – we also become "the sons of God," [Rom. 8:14], who will also "work in us to will and to do of His good pleasure." [Phil. 2:13].
This dying process continued during the three and one-half years of His ministry, from the moment of His consecration and acceptance at baptism, until on the cross He cried: "It is finished." But what was finished there – the work of atonement? No, the work of atonement signifies the making at one of two parties. In this case God was one and humanity the other party. Man's sin had brought upon him God's curse, death, instead of his blessing; and by its degrading influence (as we have seen) it had so marred the mental and moral likeness of man to his maker, that he no longer took "delight in the law of God," but in sin, and it will be readily seen that there was much work necessary to bring about full reconciliation between God and man. First – Justice must be met, a ransom must be given for the sinner, else God could never, to all eternity, recognize him as having a right to live. Secondly – Man must be brought to his original condition of perfection – in God's image – before he can be of himself perfectly in harmony with God's perfect will and law. Now, while this work, as a whole, was Jehovah's plan from "before the creation of the world," its accomplishment only began with Jesus, and will not be completed until the end of the millennial reign, when Jesus shall deliver up all things to the Father, having put down (destroyed) all opposition to God's laws, (sin). 1 Cor. 15:24-28.
When Jesus cried, "it is finished," he referred only to the first mentioned part of this work of atonement, viz: The giving of the ransom; this was now complete; the penalty of Adam's sin was now met, for "Christ died for our sins according to the Scripture" – "gave himself a ransom for all to be testified in due time." "Who is a propitiation (satisfaction) for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world." [1 John 2:2.]
Having thus "purchased us from death with his own precious blood," all the race belongs to him. A race of sinners they were having no right to life; a race of ransomed beings they are against whom justice has no claim, who may be restored to perfect life at the pleasure or will of Jesus their redeemer, who proclaimed, that in due time "all that are in their graves shall hear the voice of the Son of Man and come forth." And again: "I am he that liveth and was dead, and behold I am alive forevermore, and have the keys of hell [hades – the grave] and of death." [Rev. 1:18]. Yes, says Paul: "For this purpose Christ was manifested, [in the flesh] that he might destroy death, and him that has the power of death, that is the devil."
But while we are thus informed of the plan of God to destroy "death" yet, nearly two thousand years have passed since the ransom was paid and still death reigns. Why does not the purchaser take possession of "the purchased possession?" Ah, he has a grand plan with regard to some of the race he has purchased – He will by trial of faith and patience develop [R419 : page 4] and separate from the world "a little flock" whom he will associate with Himself as His bride. They will be a peculiar people, zealous of good works, and full of faith, who walk in his footsteps of self-sacrifice and entire giving up of their human nature – will and body – receiving instead the Divine nature – will and body.
When the church – body – of Christ is made perfect through sufferings and trials, and united with Him [which event we believe to be so close at hand], then the great work and reign of earth's new monarch – the second Adam – begins. Though possessing the power over evil ever since He rose from the grave its victor, yet he has not exercised that power up to the present time because evil is necessary to the development of his body. But when we are complete he shall take to himself his great power and reign. [Rev. 11:17]. This statement is applied as having its fulfillment at the end of the gospel age during the sounding of the seventh (symbolic) trumpet.
Now let us enquire, how long will Christ reign – or exercise authority and rule? Answer. "He shall reign forever and ever," [Rev. 11:15], that is, being associated with the Father, Christ (and we in Him) shall always belong to the reigning and ruling power – Jesus at the Father's right hand (next in authority) and we at his right hand, consequently "above all principalities and powers." But in the especial sense of ruling over and subduing earth, the reign is limited to the period of time necessary to the restoring of all earth's people and affairs to a condition of at-one-ment or harmony with God, the Father, as Paul expresses it:
The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death." For "He (the Father) hath put all things under his (Christ's) feet," but it is evident that the Father did not put himself under the control of Christ. "And when all things shall be subdued unto Him, then shall the Son also, himself, be subject unto Him (the Father) that put all things under Him, that God may be all in all," (or above all).
Man having been restored to his original dominion, every inferior creature will recognize him as its Lord, and every human being will recognize "Christ as Lord to the glory of God the Father." [Phil. 2:11]. And thus will be completed the great work planned before our creation, commenced at the baptism of Jesus and ending with the close of the millennial reign. [Rev. 20:6] viz: At-one-ment.
That this is God's plan, is implied in the term "Restitution," and is the legitimate conclusion to be drawn from Paul's argument. [Heb. 2:6-9.] He starts out with the original plan of God in creating man perfect – "Thou madest him a little lower than the angels; thou crownedst him with glory and honor and didst set him over the works of Thy hands. Thou hast put all (earthly) things in subjection under his feet." But as we have seen, sin has marred all this [R419 : page 5] glory and honor, and has degraded us far below angels; taking the dominion out of our hand and permitting "death to reign." And if we look about us we will say with Paul that it seems as though God's plan were a failure, for though six thousand years have passed, "We see not yet all things put under him" [man]. But is there any hopeful sign to indicate that man may yet be restored to his honor and glory, and set over the earthly works of God's hand? Yes, we have the assurance that ALL God's purposes shall be accomplished, [Isa. 14:24], and that a "seed of the woman" should yet destroy the serpent – evil – and "bless all the families of the earth." And though this work is not yet accomplished yet we see a beginning of it. As Paul says, "we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels," [the condition of a perfect man], for the suffering of death...that He, by the grace of God, should taste death for every man." Thus far had the plan progressed in Paul's day, and if he were living now, he would doubtless add, as we can, that the church, as his body, is about complete; that the gospel age of suffering with Him and "filling up the measure of the afflictions of Christ which are behind" is ending and the millennial age in which we shall "live and reign with Christ a thousand years" is dawning.
As those who expect to be of the bride – the body – of Christ and be glorified together with Him, we rejoice to think that the time is so near at hand when we shall be changed, leaving forever the human form and nature, and being made "like unto Christ's glorious body." But one thing which adds much to our interest and rejoicing is the thought of the necessity of our development and changing, as the body of the great deliverer, before death can be destroyed and the race liberated and brought to the liberty of the sons of God, as Adam and angels – free from the bondage of corruption – death. For we know that "they without us shall not be made perfect." We must be perfected on the spiritual plane as divine beings before they can be perfected on the earthly plane as human beings.
Seeing then what high honors and glory await the overcoming sons of God, and the blessings awaiting the world through us, can any one wonder that we long for the happy moment of change? Surely not, and not only we, but the world, also, are waiting and hoping [though ignorantly] for a good time coming, for the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now waiting for the manifestation of [the Church] the sons of God, (Rom. 8:22,19) – the sun of righteousness which "arises with healing in his wings" to heal, and perfect, and restore all things to the perfect will of God.
In the second and third of these dynasties, viz.: The reigns of Satan and of Christ, the active rulers are invisible to humanity and their powers only recognizable by the effects and results. The devil is called "the prince [ruler] of this world." – "him that has the power of death, that is, the devil." The effects of His reign and rule have been, as we have seen, to degrade man in every way. How wonderfully successful he has been is evident as we look about us. Sin, misery and death are on every hand, and yet Satan, the ruler, is invisible, seen only through his agencies, and he has plenty of them, for "his servants ye are to whom you render service." We claim, then, that all persons, or institutions, or governments, which aid in the work of death and degradation and oppression of right and truth, are Satan's agents.
God classes all present governments of earth as Satan's. "The prince – ruler – of this world" would not permit any government which would not act in harmony with him, as long as he has the control, which will be until the end of this age, when the Redeemer takes his great power and reigns. Satan has ruled among the nations for ages, except the one nation, Israel, of which God says: "You only have I known of all the [nations] families of the earth." (We have seen that they were used thus as a type of the higher spiritual Israel, the church, which was to be in the world, but not of it.) The time came, however, that God gave over even this nation as the others when they went into captivity to Babylon, and God's prophet said of the last reigning prince, "Take off the diadem, remove the crown; this shall not [continue to] be the same, I will overturn, overturn, overturn it [the kingdom] until He come whose right it is, and I will give it Him" [The Christ]. Ezek. 21:27.
Thus, as a glorious image, did these earthly kingdoms appear to the natural man; and as glorious they still are regarded by the world. Extolled in prose and verse, through all generations, are their deeds of blood and violence, which shock the feelings of all possessed of the spirit of love. Their history is one successive record of crime and death, each of their heroes claiming higher honor than his predecessor because he had butchered greater numbers of his fellow-beings, and made more widows and orphans and more misery. No wonder that when God pictured the same four earthly governments to the holy prophet Daniel, he gave it as a beastly picture. (Danl. 8). They are indeed beastly governments. How perfectly they represent, in their evil and death-dealing power, their master, the devil. The picture, or likeness of the fourth [R420 : page 5] (Roman power) to Satan is so strong that Jesus, when presenting it in symbol in Revelation, almost invariably calls it "the dragon," "that old serpent, which is the devil and Satan," &c., thus using the names of its prince as a name for the kingdom.
While God thus permits evil to triumph now, seemingly without restraint, and uses it as an agency for punishing sin, yet it is under an over-ruling guidance by which God "causes the wrath of man to praise Him, and the remainder He will restrain."
The inventions and arts of the last three centuries (machinery, printing, application of steam, electricity, etc.,) have come about gradually, but we believe are none the less of God – His agencies now in preparation for the blessing of humanity during the coming reign of righteousness. These scientific attainments, which will so fully bless in the future, are even now exercising a powerful effect upon humanity, enlightening the understanding, and, by increasing the dependency of one upon another, it naturally tends to promote sympathy, affection, and fraternity between the various members of the human family.
But all of these blessings, while they serve to lift mankind in a measure out of evil, are only temporary helps. Satan is still equal to the occasion, and though he could not now induce millions of men to follow for years a leader for his glory's sake, he can foment angry strife between nations upon pretexts of honor, etc., and, though men do not now fight as incessantly as of old, yet the "arts of war" more than keep pace with those of peace, so that to-day the standing armies of earth are far larger and far better prepared for mutual destruction than ever before.
The progress of science and art fails to bring now the blessings which will result in the future, because avarice (selfishness) has crowded out love and benevolence. Capital and power combine to oppress the poor, and they in turn despise and envy the rich.
Nor can we wonder if the masses of mankind notice this condition of affairs; and that as knowledge increases among them, they should seek to band themselves together for self-protection, especially if they see, as in Europe, kings, emperors, nobles, and landlords rolling in wealth and luxury, while some of them barely eke out an existence on the commonest necessaries of life, without luxury or comfort. All that they can earn more than will purchase meal, potatoes, and salt, with coarse fabric for clothing, is required as tax to support these corrupt governments, which, like great boils, absorb the strength and vitality of humanity. So we see that Satan is still ruling over earth. Satan may change tactics according to the necessities of the hour, but he is ruling still.
God's Word informs us that, by the general uprising of humanity and overthrow of governments, the new age will be introduced. In the coming struggle the two spiritual powers, Christ and his saints, and Satan and his angels, will each have earthly armies whose causes they will support and advance. Satan's will be the kings, chief captains, rich men, and mighty men, [Rev. 19:19] while Christ will espouse and bring to victory the cause of the oppressed, who, inspired by justice and right, will be used to some extent as agents to their own liberation from the thraldom of evil and oppression.
How we see the preparation for this time of trouble in the world, going on all around us, and how unconsciously each one takes his place to play his part in the closing act of the reign of sin and death. In this country, less oppressed and in every way more blessed than others,
The third dynasty of earth, like the second, will be the ruling of an invisible power through seen agencies of earth. As now Satan reigns unseen, then "The Christ of God" will reign and rule unseen. As now sin abounds, so then the opposite – righteousness – will rule. As Satan now has agents in men and governments, so with Christ's reign, every man coming into harmony with truth and righteousness will be reckoned a servant of God. The kingdoms of this world being all overthrown, [Dan. 2:44,] will be re-established on principles of justice and equity, based upon the golden law of love to God and men.
The chief nation of earth during that age, the Word informs us, will be fleshly Israel, in glory and prominence exalted above all other nations – "The joy of the whole earth." And next in positions of favor and blessing will come other nations in proportion as they conform to the law of the Kingdom of God. Thus will the light of knowledge and truth emanating from the spiritual city – the church – the New Jerusalem, [Rev. 21.] bless all nations, and result in healing and blessing all mankind, until ultimately, having put down all opposition, and brought all men to the condition of perfection and righteousness, the third empire will give place to the fourth, which is the first restored, viz.: man over earth its lord and himself in perfect obedience to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Thus, "God [will be] all in all." Amen. "Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven."
It has been claimed by some, as disproving the necessity of Jesus as our Ransomer, and his blood (death) as our ransom price, that the word propitiation, used by the apostles, merely means that Jesus was the channel through which God exercised pardon – the mercy-seat or place of mercy – and that therefore the accepted idea, that Jesus made satisfaction or appeasement for our sins is erroneous, and not the proper meaning to attach to the expression, "propitiation for our sins."
In proof of the above, they call attention to the fact that in Rom. 3:25, the same word is rendered propitiation which in Heb. 9:5 is rendered mercy seat. Here they leave the matter, evidently considering it proved.
We object, that in so construing it they are at variance with the Greek scholarship of the world. We read – "He (Jesus) is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world"; and again – "Herein is love, not that [R420 : page 6] we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son – the propitiation for our sins." (1 John 2:2 and 4:10). In both cases the Greek word rendered propitiation is hilasmos. Its definition by able Greek scholars is – "What appeases" – "What propitiates."
These are the only instances in which this Greek word (hilasmos) is used in Scripture, and we know of no translation which uses any other word than propitiation as a translation of it. As the word propitiation is but vaguely understood, we here give you Webster's definition of its meaning – "The act of appeasing wrath and conciliating the favor of an offended person" – "atonement or atoning sacrifice." Read the above texts in the light of this definition, and you will see that as John understood the subject, there was need of a redeemer and a ransom.
Concerning Heb. 9:5, and Rom. 3:25, we would say: The Greek word here used is entirely different from the above; it is hilasterion; nevertheless, it stands related to the former. Young translates it "place of appeasement." In the Tabernacle was the Ark, and the top of it, a solid lid of gold, was the spot upon which the High Priest sprinkled the blood of the sin-offering, which God accepted as the satisfaction for sins of the under Priests and of Israel (typical of the church and of the world also). This slab of gold forming the cover of the ark, was therefore called the "Mercy-seat" (or spot) because there, by God's arrangement, mercy was obtained. In the Hebrew the word is kapporeth, meaning – "place of (sin) covering"; and in the Greek, hilasterion, meaning – "place of appeasement."
With this explanation, we trust all will be able to see the true meaning of "propitiation," and "place of propitiation or appeasement" (mercy-seat), and not allow any one to cover the meaning of these very forcible expressions.
Rotherham's translation of Rom. 3:25 reads thus: "Whom God set forth to be a propitiatory covering through faith in his blood," etc.
The attention of all mankind has been turned with perplexity and questioning to Jesus of Nazareth. For four thousand years men expected, Prophets wrote, and Poets sung of a coming deliverer; and for nearly two thousand more, all eyes have been turned to Jesus of Nazareth saying, Can this indeed be he? – a babe of humble mother – a boy of marked intellectual ability and moral integrity – a young man of thirty years just emerging from obscurity. Three and a half years more gathered about him a few disciples who hung upon his words, almost persuaded that this was indeed the sent of God, until his young and beautiful life was suddenly and ignominiously terminated in death. Then hope was blighted and sadly they turned away saying, "We trusted, it had been he who should have redeemed Israel."
In the short period of his public career (three and a half years) when the eyes of all men were centered on him, they all marveled at the gracious words that proceeded out of his mouth, saying, "never man spake like this man." Some thought he was one of the Prophets risen from the dead – others that he was that great Prophet whom Jehovah had promised to raise up. Some said he was an impostor and a fanatic, but he claimed to be the Son of God – the Christ – the promised deliverer.
No other character on the pages of history ever attracted such universal attention for so great a time, yet his career was so brief and he was distinguished by none of this world's marks of greatness. The spirit of Jehovah gives us the history of this wonderful being and to his Word alone we turn for the answer to our questionings.
In the first chapter of John's Gospel, we find the most concise and comprehensive sketch, therefore let us consider its teaching. (N.B. Read with open Bible referring constantly to it.)
The Greek word, logos, translated word in vss. 1 and 14 of this chapter, would be properly translated by the words, intention, plan, purpose, or expression. Apply this definition to the following passages where the same word (logos) occurs: Acts 10:29. "I ask therefore for what intent (logos) ye have sent for me." Acts 4:29. "Grant unto thy servants that with all boldness they may speak thy word" – declare thy plan, purpose, or intention. Acts 8:4. "They that were scattered abroad went everywhere preaching the word," plan or purpose of God. Acts 18:11. "Teaching the word (intention, plan or purpose) of God among them." Mark 4:20. "Such as hear the word (intention, plan or purpose of God) and receive it." Matt. 24:35. "Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words (plans or purposes) shall not pass away."
With this understanding, then, we may thus read John 1:1. "In the beginning," before anything was created, and when none existed, but Jehovah, "was the word" – plan, intention, or purpose of God. Yes, God had a well defined, and matured plan, formed in his own mind before it found expression in the slightest development. The great Architect of the universe and Author of all life, first counted the cost, and reckoned that all should culminate to his honor and glory. (Luke 14:28-31; Rev. 4:11.)
"And the word was God." The term logos, not only applied to the plan existing only in the mind, but also to the expression of that plan. We understand this text then, to mean that the word – plan or purpose of God, found its first expression in the creation of him, who was "The beginning of the creation of God" – "The first-born of every creature" or better translated "born before all creation" (who afterward became the man, Jesus). Rev. 3:14 and 1:5. Col. 1:15; and though now fully exalted to the divine nature, still "His name is called the "Word of God." Rev. 19:13.
This being, in whose creation, Jehovah's plan began to find expression, is here called a God – "And the Word [expression of the plan] was God." The word God signifies mighty one; but not always the All-mighty One. It is the translation of each of four Hebrew words – el, elah, elohim, and adonai, all signifying the mighty, or great. It is a general name, often and properly applied to our Heavenly Father, as well as to Jesus, angels, and men. (Deut. 10:17. Gen. 32:24,30; Judges 13:21,22; Jer. 16:13, 10:11; Exod. 7:1.) In Psa. 82 the distinction between beings referred to by the word God is very marked: "God (elohim) standeth in the congregation of the mighty (el); he judgeth among the Gods" (elohim). Here the first word, God, evidently refers to Jehovah, the All-mighty one, while the others evidently refer to other mighty ones – the church, the sons of God, of whom Jesus is the head or chief. Again vs. 6, "I have said ye are Gods (elohim); and all of you are children of the Most High (el yon, the highest God,) but as men ye die." We, now, though sons of the Most High die and appear to men nothing more than others. In us, as in our Leader and Head, God is manifest in our mortal flesh. (See John 10:35 and 2 Cor. 4:11).
The Hebrew word Jehovah is the distinctive name of the Almighty Father and is never applied to any other being – "I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac and unto Jacob, as God Almighty, (el-God shaddai- almighty) but by my name JEHOVAH, was I not known to them." Exod. 6:3. In our common version (O.T.) its distinctiveness as a name is lost, being generally rendered the Lord.
"And the word was God." The Son of God (afterward called Jesus,) is here called THE WORD, because Jehovah revealed his word – plan or purpose, through him. It was an eastern custom for kings to have an officer, called the King's Word or Voice, who stood upon the steps of the throne, at the side of a lattice window, where there was a hole covered with a curtain. Behind this curtain the king sat and expressed his commands to this officer, who communicated them to the officers, judges and attendants. It is from this custom, it is thought, that the phraseology of the text is derived.
Vss. 2 and 3. "The same (being) was in the beginning (of creation) with God. All things were made by him, (as the agent of Jehovah) and without him was not anything made that was made." He then, as here plainly stated being the first and chiefest of Jehovah's creature, was honored by him, as the agent through whom all things, both animate and inanimate were afterwards created – "Without him was not anything made."
Jehovah had no beginning but is "from everlasting to everlasting;" (Psa. 90:2) hence that which is here called the "beginning" must refer to the beginning of creation.
"In him was life." How brief this expression, and at first sight how simple and seemingly absurd. If the surface meaning were taken, the statement of such a self-evident truth would indeed be absurd – that in the Son of God, who was Jehovah's agent in the works of creation, was life. But let us look deeper, and we will see that it is just like God's grand and eloquent brevity. Since the accomplishment of the work narrated in verse 3, the Son of God had laid aside the glory of his pre-existent condition, and become a man. As a man, he had lived 30 years – the maturity of manhood – and had consecrated his human being to death. Here he received the earnest of his after, high exaltation – the begetting of the Spirit, to the divine nature, to which he was born in the resurrection, when the consecration of the human being to death, was actually accomplished. In the Son of God – the Word – Jesus, then, from 30 years of age, was this Divine life which he never before possessed. (See "Narrow way to Life," page 134, of "Food for Thinking Christians.") "And the life (this divine life) was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness, and the darkness apprehendeth it not." (Diaglott.)
Verses 10 and 11. "He was in the world and the world was made by him; and the world (of mankind) knew him not. He came unto his own, (people – the Jewish nation) and his own received him not."
But, though the world knew him not, neither did his own receive him, yet, nevertheless – vs. 9, "That was the true light which lighteth every man that cometh into the world." This light has not yet enlightened every man. It now lights only those referred to in vs. 12 – "as many as receive him and believe on his name." To this class – believers – "gave he privilege (margin) to become sons of God" on condition that they follow in his footsteps, sacrificing the human nature. These, throughout the Gospel Age, "walk in the light," and like their Head, Jesus, are "lights in the world." (Phil. 2:15.) But still the world fails to apprehend the light, and will, until Jesus and all the members of that overcoming company
That this interpretation of vss. 4 and 5 is correct, is proven by vss. 6,7,8, and 15. (Note what positive proof.) John came six months before Jesus' baptism, and begetting to the divine nature, bearing witness of the coming light, saying, "There cometh one after me, who is preferred before me, FOR HE WAS BEFORE ME." [R422 : page 6]
Jesus had already come as a human being, and had, as John declared, existed before him, not as a man, for John was six months older than Jesus; but in his glorious pre-human condition. In what sense, then, did Jesus come after John's preaching? We answer that at the time of his consecration and typical baptism, he came as the Anointed One, the Christ, the divinely begotten Son of God, and consequent light of the world.
Vs. 14. "And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us."
As in verse 3, we are informed of the glory and power of the pre-existent Word, and in vs. 4, ignoring the subsequent human nature for which he left that glory, we are informed of that divine life which is ultimately to enlighten every man that cometh into the world; so vs. 14 goes back to tell how he left the glory which he had with the Father, gave up his spiritual being, and became a human being.
"And we beheld his glory (the glory of his perfect humanity), the glory as of the only begotten of a father." His perfect human nature shone with such lustre in contrast with all imperfect men, that he seemed not to be a son of the fallen race, but the only begotten of some perfect being – and such he was, a new creation of God, the second direct human creation of God, just as [R422 : page 7] Adam was the first. Jesus was born of the virgin Mary, while Adam was born of the virgin Earth.*
Vs. 16. "And of his fullness have all we (believers) received." Yes, of that same fullness of favor with God, which Jesus enjoyed because of his sinless perfection, have all we received because of our justification through faith in his blood. Thus Jesus lifts believers out of condemnation and sin, up to the plane which he occupied, into fullness of favor and communion with God – "justified freely from all things."
"And grace for grace," or favor on account of favor: that is, being lifted from the condition of rebels and sinners to that of justification by faith, was one act of favor; then that favor opened the way for another favor – viz., the call to become partakers of the Divine nature, to become heirs of God and joint-heirs with Jesus by suffering with him.
Yes, with Paul, because of this grace (of justification) wherein we stand, we rejoice in hope of the glory of God – a further grace. (Rom. 5:2.)
Vs. 17. "For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ." Here a contrast is drawn between the Jewish and Gospel Ages: In the former, only the Law was given, (the shadow of good things to come during and after the Gospel Age.) But it could never give life, because none were able to measure up to its requirements. "But grace" – the payment of our ransom price, and not only so, but also the additional favor – "truth," or the knowledge of God's plan, and our high-calling as revealed through it – both these favors came by Jesus Christ. "The appearing of Jesus Christ, our Saviour, brought life (the "restitution" to perfection of humanity) and immortality (believers' high-calling) to light." (2 Tim. 1:10.) This special favor ("grace,") and this wonderful knowledge ("truth") belong only to the Gospel Age.
In the brief space here considered what a glorious biography we have presented to us, of the once glorious spiritual, subsequent perfect human, and now "highly exalted" Divine, Immortal WORD. Her it stands on the sacred page in its simple, eloquent brevity as dictated by the spirit of Jehovah. Behold what grace the Father bestowed upon him – "That all men (and all created beings) should honor the Son, even as they honor the Father."
"If all the world my Saviour knew,
Then all the world would love Him too."
Beloved followers in his footsteps, "behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us that we (as partakers with him, and joint-heirs of the same things) should (also) be called the sons of God."
Paul would here point us to a principle in God's government as expressed by Jesus and Peter – viz.: that "God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble" – "Whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted." And again Jesus intimates that if any of God's creatures are exalted above others, it is for the blessing and service of all – "He that is greatest among you shall be your servant." (Matt. 23:11,12.)
Paul seems to have in mind and to contrast the pride and ambition of Satan with the humility and obedience of Jesus. The former aspired to exalt himself above the stars (sons) of God, even to usurp Jehovah's throne. But of Jesus, Paul says that "though being in God's form (a mighty spiritual being), yet (he) did not meditate a +usurpation (of God's authority) to be like God, but divested himself, taking a bondman's form, having been made in the likeness of men; and being in condition as a man, he humbled himself, becoming obedient unto death, even the death of the cross." (Phil. 2:6-8. Diaglott.) Here we see the grandest intelligence next to Jehovah, recognizing his rightful authority, and bowing in meek and loving submission to his will.
In his glorious exalted condition and divine nature, we now see Jesus prepared for the work of blessing. Of this he informed his disciples after his resurrection, saying, "All power in heaven and in earth is given unto me;" and Prophets and Apostles, in types, and symbols, and wonderful sayings, tell of the glory that shall follow. Now taking Jehovah's standpoint of view, which his word reveals, we look away back to the dim and distant universal void, and beholding the former glory of the first-begotten, we exclaim in the sublime words of the poet –
"The mighty God, from out whose hand,
The planets rolled like grains of sand."
And who can estimate the exceeding, and ETERNAL WEIGHT of that glory to which he is now exalted, and which the revolving ages shall accumulate. And yet this was not Jehovah, but only his honored agent, looking up to him as his rightful Lord, and rendering implicit obedience to his will.
Now we are prepared to understand the words of Jesus to John on Patmos. (Rev. 1:8,11,18.) "I am alpha and omega, the beginning and the ending, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty" – Almighty since Jehovah had given to him all power in heaven and in earth. And again he declares, "I am alpha and omega, the first and the last; I am he that liveth and was dead, and behold I am alive forevermore, and have the keys of hades (the grave) and of death." In or through him as here declared, we see the whole plan of Jehovah consummated. Beginning with creation we have seen him as the alpha of the plan, and faith looks into the revealed future and beholds him as its omega.
With such an example before us as Jesus' humiliation and consequent exaltation, let us, as the Apostle says, consider him lest we be weary and faint. Let us call to mind our high calling to become his bride, and as such to be joined in heirship with him whom God hath appointed heir of all things. To appreciate this wondrous calling is to lay aside every weight and hindrance. To make its fulfillment sure, is to humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God that he may exalt us in due time to be "the Bride, the Lamb's wife." (1 Pet. 5:6. Rev. 21:9.)
With such a hope clearly in view, who would not gladly trail his bit of earthly reputation in the dust, and take joyfully the spoiling of his earthly treasures, while he is counted the filth and offscouring of the earth? Dearly beloved, keep the prize for "him that overcometh" before you; keep your garments unspotted from the world; make your calling and election sure by being "faithful unto death." – "Consider Him."
Less than a year ago, and frequently since, we warmly commended to our readers a publication called "Zion's Day Star." This we now regret, because that commendation makes necessary a statement to the opposite effect concerning that paper.
We are not of those who disfellowship christian brethren on account of some differences of opinion, but when it comes to the point of denying the very foundation of all christianity, we must speak out and withstand all such to the face, for they become "the enemies of the cross of Christ." (Phil. 3:18.) This opposition to the cross, the world has always had. The thought of "redemption through his blood" has always been to the Greek (earth's wise) foolishness, and only the faithful have recognized the cross as the power of God unto man's salvation from death.
"Zion's Day Star" at the time of our commendation was in fullest accord on the fundamentals of christianity; teaching that the death of Jesus was the ransom price paid for our liberation from sin and its penalty, death – that "Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures." And its editor was then so true and faithful to the foundation doctrines, that he refused the articles of a valued correspondent in Michigan, because said correspondent had repudiated the Rock foundation, viz: our being "bought with a price, even the precious blood of Christ." But we are pained to say, this is all changed, and the "Day Star" has locked arms with those who deny that the Lord BOUGHT them.
Not only so, but as though anxious to lead in the race for open infidelity, the "Day Star" openly affirms that Jesus was the Son of Joseph as well as of Mary, thus implying that he was as much a sinner through partaking of Adamic imperfection and curse as any other man. It not only implies but asserts that he by nature was a child of wrath even as others; and then adds, "By and by as the truth (?) shines more clearly, it will be seen that the difference between Jesus, and the members of his body, is not so great as has been supposed." This it characterizes as a "grand truth."
One wrong step leads to another, so we are not so much surprised to find an attempt made to cast discredit on the first chapters of Matthew and Luke, giving the impression that they are Papal interpolations to prove the doctrine of the "Immaculate conception."
We protest against such misleading statements*. Many who have no access to proofs on these matters, might reasonably suppose that there existed some good ground for questioning the authority of the scriptures referred to, while the truth is, there is no ground for the statement whatever. All of the oldest and recognizedly reliable MSS. contain these chapters which record the fact of Jesus' miraculous conception and birth, a fulfillment of the prophecy: "A virgin shall conceive and bear a son and shall call his name Immanuel." Such a method, of saying of any text which does not fit human theories – it is evidently an interpolation – would soon destroy the Bible as a teacher, for thousands of people know thousands of texts which oppose their theories, and which they would like to think and to have others think spurious. We are very glad that few are so bold as to make such claims where they have no foundation whatever in fact.
The fact that the "Day Star" does not advocate the more open and blasphemous forms of infidelity, makes it none the less poisonous and injurious. The Apostles say little about the general unbelief of the world, but they do warn us repeatedly of those who will privately bring infidelity into the church. Peter says: "among you will be false teachers who will privately introduce heresies of destruction, even the having bought them, Sovereign Lord, denying." (2 Pet. 2:1, literal Greek rendering of Diaglott.)
We are well aware that the foregoing remarks will be misunderstood by some, and credited to wrong motives. It will be thought uncharitable and unkind. To such readers we can only say, that personal feelings for the Editor of the "Day Star" are warm and strong, and it gives us more pain to thus write, than you to read. But it becomes a matter of duty to God, and to His children to show errors in their true light, particularly when so fearfully destructive. We can only say with Paul when writing under Similar circumstances. "It is a very small thing that I should be judged of you," [R423 : page 8] (your human judgment.) "Yea I judge not mine own self" (by my own human judgment.) "He that judgeth me (and all of us) is the Lord," and his judgment is expressed in his Word.
True, there are several other publications teaching very nearly the same things, which we do not thus publicly oppose, nor have we ever publicly commended them. Should the "Day Star" at any time alter its course, and return to the rock foundation of faith – the ransom given for our sins – we shall gladly and warmly welcome it back, and in that event, you may expect that its name will again be mentioned in the TOWER approvingly.
One word more – regular readers are well aware that while we are neutral on no doctrine, we believe that liberality should be exercised by all christians, to all christians who are building on Christ the Rock, even though they are building poorly; but we call you all to witness that the differences above alluded to, are most vital. They assault the foundations of christianity, who deny the ransom price. It became a question of whether we would be faithful to God in defending his truth, or be acceptable to men by passing quietly by and ignoring error. The latter course would have been the easiest and most agreeable to the flesh, but the former was duty and has been performed to the best of our ability.
We have been asked what we meant by our sickness being intended for evil by the enemy, and who the enemy is, referred to in our letter, which appeared in October number. At first we were inclined to be surprised at such a question, but when we considered that people have long been taught that sickness and death are manifestations of God's providence, and that it is not an uncommon thing to hear the officiating clergyman at a funeral speak of the "singular providence which has taken the deceased out of the world," we concluded that possibly others might wonder at the statement referred to. To such we reply:
In the first chapter of Job you will see how Satan wished to have God afflict Job, thinking, doubtless, thus to spoil Job's trust in God. Did God do it? No, but he allowed Satan to do it, while he (God) comforted and strengthened him.
In Acts 10:38, we are told that Jesus healed certain ones "that were oppressed of the devil." In 1 Peter 5:8, it is said "be vigilant because your adversary the devil as a roaring lion, walketh about seeking whom he may devour." In Hebrews 2:14, we are told plainly that the devil has the power of death. We think this is sufficient to prove that he is our enemy, and that he is the cause of sickness, pain, death, and ought always to have the credit (?) of it. But do you say: how is it that through affliction he does us good? He does not do us good in any sense whatever.
What any of God's agents do, (according to God's estimate, Matt. 5:28, 1st John 3:15), is what they intend to do, and not what they accomplish. If our Heavenly Father were to leave us where Satan has done his work with us, our case would be truly hopeless, but Our Father's infinite love and wisdom takes us out of the ruin, out of death.
Satan's work, disease and pain when finished is death; all tends that way, and is so intended by the arch enemy. It is our faith in Our Father's wisdom and love that sustains us, that causes us to hope, and enables us to profit by our afflictions. This is what Paul meant when he said: (2 Cor. 4:17,18), "Our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of Glory, while we look not at the things which are seen."
So let us never say, nor intimate by word or deed, that sickness, pain and death are manifestations of God's providence, when a great share of Jesus' time was spent in undoing that same. They are manifestations of Satan's envy and malice. So Satan's [R424 : page 8] work is utter ruin, and all our hope is in the resurrection. "For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil."
We have a guarantee of the final destruction of the enemy, and of our liberation from death, in the resurrection of Christ, and also in the support which we receive from the Spirit while suffering at the hands of the enemy. This is the "earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the PURCHASED possession." Eph. 1:14. If an enemy should come along and pull up a young fruit tree of mine, thinking to kill it, and I should immediately transplant it and graft better fruit into it, there would be no thanks due him; he intended to ruin it.
Perhaps some one suggests that Paul says: (Hebrews 12:6), "whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth." Yes, chasteneth, i.e. "instructs, trains up;" he comes in with the comforting influences of his spirit and turns our sufferings into blessings.
But there are times when we wander or neglect to do what he teaches us is duty; we then feel that he "scourgeth every son that he receiveth." We have no rest of spirit; we smart under the rod; we weep and mourn; we turn again and do his will and receive his smile; we have been "corrected." But that our Father administers corporal punishment; that he sends pain and death, we find no warrant in scripture for believing. But does not the prophet say: (perhaps one would ask), speaking of Christ, that "he was smitten of God and afflicted?" No, he says: "surely he hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows, yet we did esteem him smitten of God, and afflicted." Isa. 53:4.
Just so, now those who suffer with Christ, those who bear with patience, pain and sorrow, and are thus disciplined, and accept it as such, and thus fill up the afflictions which are behind," are often thought to be "smitten of God." This is what Job's friends thought.
Now we claim, (and we hope you will examine scripture to see if it is not so), that all physical pain which the "body of Christ" are visited with, comes from Satan, but is turned into instruction and discipline, (chastening), and accrues to the good of the world in the coming age; the future rulers having been touched with a feeling of the world's infirmities.
The movement is irresistible. If we cannot stem the tide, let us at least guide it into fruitful channels. We cannot suffer ourselves to stand by with folded hands when this new exodus is taking place. We Jews have held for nearly two thousand years, that the consummation of the ages of suffering we have passed through will only be reached when we again possess the land of our fathers. Is that trust to die away just at the moment when it appears about to be fulfilled? Or, is it to be expected that the return will be brought about by means so mysterious as to be beyond the co-operation of human beings? God works his will through the wills of men, and if the prophecies are to be fulfilled, it will be because they are to be fulfilled by human wills and energies. These may seem to be high topics to drag into connection with a practical plan for placing a few Jewish colonies in Palestine. But it is from small beginnings, such as these, that great events often arise, and the return of a small body of Jews to the Holy Land can never fail to bring to mind the possibility and the practicability of the larger return to which all Jewish history and all Jewish aspirations have hitherto pointed.– Jewish Chronicle.
JESUS died, not to permit us to sin willfully, but to release us as a race from the condemnation and weakness which came upon us unwillingly – which came as a result, directly or indirectly, of Adam's fall. His sacrifice for sin atoned for the Adamic sin; that is, for all sins directly traceable to weakness and ignorance, resulting from Adam's transgression; all this is covered – fully covered – by the precious blood of Christ. But when once justified, and made free, and sanctified by his blood, if then we sin voluntarily, there remaineth no more a sacrifice for sin; that is, such an one, having already received his full share in the benefits of that sacrifice for sins, need look for no further interest in the blood, which, with knowledge, he has counted "common," or ordinary; nor need he look for further favor from the one he knowingly and willingly trampled under foot. (Vs. 29.)
Dear brethren, we can hold out no hope to any, either in this age, or that coming, who, after being fully enlightened, after tasting of the good Word of God, and the powers of the coming age, shall sin willfully – become knowing and willing rejectors of the Son of God and his cleansing blood. No; such, we believe, merit the second death, and with a thousand chances would probably be the same adversaries of God – just as Satan, who, despite all the manifestations of God's goodness and love during ages past, remains an adversary still.
Dr. Lyman Abbott, the well-known editor of the Christian Union, in an editorial in a recent number of that paper, announces his belief in the probability of the doctrine of conditional immortality and of the annihilation of the incorrigibly wicked. As the article is lengthy and contains much relative to other points than those above mentioned, only that part of it relating to these particular doctrines is here given. After mentioning the final triumph of Christ over all things and the consummated glory of the redeemed, he says:
"In the New Testament picture of this hour of triumph I see no shadow of scowling faces, of angered and unrepentant rebels; in the New Testament echo of this song of the redeemed I hear no interrupting of wail or wrath from any far-off prison-house of despair. After the last enemy is destroyed, shall sin, worst of all enemies, still live, and work his ruin eternally? When God hath put all enemies under Christ's feet, shall this worst of all enemies still rule in triumph over some remote, reserved corner of creation?...The more I study my Bible, the more unscriptural seems to me the conception of endless sin; the nearer I come into fellowship with God my Father, my Saviour, my Comforter, the more intolerable grows the thought of it to me. And I thank God for the good hope in His Word, which permits me to look forward to and haste toward the day when this terrible tragedy of sin and pain will come to an end. If I believe in the hopeless doom of incorrigible sin, and also in the undimmed glory of a perfected kingdom of love, I must believe in the annihilation of the incorrigibly wicked ...Fire in the Bible is generally an emblem of destruction, not of torment. The chaff, the tares, the fruitless tree, are thrown into unquenchable fire, not to be tortured, but to be destroyed. The hell-fire of the New Testament is the fire of Gehenna, kept burning outside of the walls of Jerusalem to destroy the offal of the city; here was the worm that dieth not and the fire that is unquenched; emblems of destruction, not of torment. ...I find nothing in the new Testament to warrant the terrible opinion that God sustains the life of his creatures throughout eternity only that they may continue in sin and misery. That immortality is the gift of God through our Lord Jesus Christ, that man is mortal and must put on immortality, that only he can put it on who becomes through Christ a partaker of the divine nature, and so an inheritor of Him 'who only hath immortality,' that eternal life is life eternal, and eternal death is death eternal, and everlasting destruction is destruction without remedy – this is the most natural, as it is the simplest, reading in the New Testament."– Selected.
Ans. "Render to Caesar the things which are Caesar's, and unto God the things that are God's." (Matt. 22:21.) If we have changed our allegiance from this world to Heaven – if we "are not of this world" – if "our citizenship is in heaven" (John 17:16. Phil. 3:20.) then we are aliens, pilgrims and strangers and not citizens of this country, and should claim and use only such favors as are accorded to aliens. If we are wholly consecrated to God, we have neither time nor influence to devote to politics. If we see clearly that present governments are those of the "prince of this world" and must all be shattered and give place to the Kingdom of God for which we pray, "Thy kingdom come," then we shall have no further desire to be mixed up with them in any way.