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The battle between truth and error – between Christ and Anti-christ still continues, and daily grows more desperate; but it is only beginning – "the battle of the great day of God Almighty." For the Lord hath a controversy with the nations (Jer. 25:31,32).
Many of Anti-christ's followers are saints of God who have been deceived by the success and growth and almost universal power and influence of Anti-christ for 1300 years past. Though they find much contrary to the Word and Spirit of Christ, they are overawed and fear to question the authority which holds them in bondage. They enlisted in the various regiments (sects) supposing that this was necessary to the Lord's service. And, indeed, some of the enlisting officers (ministers, etc.,) are equally deceived, and verily think they are doing God service. The delusion of their chief – the adversary – by which he holds them under his control, is, that he advocates a form of Godliness, and keeps up a religious drill so incessantly, as to weary and prevent any, from even hinting at a scarcity of true religion, and to leave no time for Bible study.
But Jehovah has an army – small at present, but increasing, which is daily liberating some saints from the bondage of Anti-christ, who when they find themselves by truth set free, become noble soldiers on the side of the Captain of Jehovah's hosts. It is because our Captain was so long absent (1800 years), that the Anti-christs became so powerful and deceived so many by their claim to be our Captain's representatives and to have the right to command his faithful. But our Captain is to take his great power and reign (Rev. 11:17). He has come at last, and a few armed and liberated by his truth have recognized him and are assembling to his standard. In the present phase of the battle carnal weapons have no part; it is at first the gathering of the Lord's bright ones (stars) – the assembling to his standard of the "outcasts" of nominal, spiritual Israel (Psa. 147:2-6). "Your brethren that hated you, that cast you out for my name's sake said, let the Lord be glorified; (we cast you out for the good of the cause of [anti]-Christ) but he shall appear to your joy and they shall be ashamed" (Isa. 66:5). "I wot that through ignorance they did it, as did also their rulers" (Acts 3:17).
The saints in the Babylon company of Anti-christ, are kept from deserting by fear – fear that their Lord's cause will suffer, not seeing that they are using their influence against the Lord's cause by giving aid, comfort and strength to those who have the form of godliness only. But the "Herald's of Christ's Presence" are going among them and some are hearing the joyful message, despite the drumming and excitement kept up to hinder, and despite the call of officers that each must support the sectarian standard under which he is enlisted, and the cry that to desert these banners means to desert the Lord; yet those whose eye can see the real standard (God's Word) are preparing to put themselves under the proper flag, and under the true Commander and Captain, Christ Jesus.
The picket lines are already engaged and soon every soldier must be under fire on one side or the other – on the side of truth or error – on the side of the Lord or on the side of human systems and creeds. Every true soldier, deceived by the pretentions of Anti-christ will have an opportunity of placing himself under the command of the true Lord; and He that doeth his will shall know of his doctrine and shall not be in darkness. (See TABERNACLE Teachings" – last part).
In this work of announcing the King's presence, and calling out our enslaved brethren in the vast army of Babylon, each of us has a duty which is a privilege – even though they revile us at the time, the message must be given and the wheat will be selected. "Gather my saints together unto me, those that have made a covenant with me by sacrifice." (Psa. 50:5.)
The cry is, "Babylon is fallen, is fallen (no longer recognized of God). Come out of her my people that ye be not partakers of her sins and receive not of her plagues." (Rev. 18:4) The Lord seeketh such to serve in his army as serve in spirit and in truth – heartily.
"Be not like dumb, driven cattle;
Be a hero in the strife."
"Let us, then, be up and doing,
With a heart for any fate;
Still achieving, still pursuing,
Learn to labor and to wait."
The progress of the truth is encouraging. Very many ministers of Christ associated with the nominal Churches are becoming interested, and are coming to see a vast difference and distinction between what men call Churches and the ONE CHURCH mentioned in Scripture, "whose names are written in heaven." We have now reached, we believe, fully nine-tenths of all the ministers in the United States with our October sample copies. By many, the truth is recognized as "Manna," and daily the mail brings many orders for "FOOD." In the last six months we have heard from about five hundred ministers, and how many more are drinking from the fountain of truth, aided by our little goblet, we know not. And how many write who do not inform us of their ministry, we know not. At all events, TRUTH is being presented even inside sectarian fastnesses, and is influencing, to a great extent, the pulpit utterances of to-day, even among those who have not the courage to openly assail error from "bread and butter considerations;" or who have not yet seen clearly that the entire nominal Church is spewed from the Lord's mouth – no longer his mouth-piece – and that loyalty to Him, demands the use of all their powers in tearing down the systems of error their tongues and influence once helped to establish.
We rejoice to note this interest among ministers, not because we think them better or more acceptable to God, but because they have often special influence and powers which they can use; but, we confess, it is all the more difficult for these to overcome. page 1
DEAR SIR: – It would be impossible to exaggerate the blessing I have derived from reading this truth. How it causes the scheme of God's plan to expand in glory and beauty is simply wonderful. May you be kept from error and stagnation.
DEAR SIR AND BROTHER: – I received a number of the TOWER, and am well pleased therewith. As per your request, I send my name, and request you to send me a few copies on trial. Would like also to have a few copies of "Food for Thinking Christians." I want the truth, though it knocks "my Church" to pieces. Have been a Methodist minister for twenty-five years. I trust you may accomplish great good.
Of godly parents, I had always a religious turn, but I failed to get as clear an idea of consecration as I wished. I never believed in lukewarm or disobedient Christians, but I had no wise, loving saints to confer with in my early religious experience. Few or none thought of the Bible as the only rule; therefore, I was sometimes cast down and discouraged. I never could join a church, or enter the ministry, though I had tempting offers of the necessary funds. And recognizing God's tender, guiding hand in all my leadings, I thank him that I never joined the nominal Church, nor entered the ranks of its ministry. And yet, I always worked heartily in all churches, Y.M.C.A., or other revival work.
Two years ago I came to Columbus, Ohio, and found a copy of ZION'S WATCH TOWER at the Y.M.C.A. rooms. I was attracted at once, finding in it so much Gospel (good news) and so much better than I had. I went to Pittsburgh, and found the WATCH TOWER office; and in my inquiries for it among various religious newspapers, I found it had Scriptural marks of saintship – being ignored, "cast out," and "suffering reproach" for Christ's sake.
I could hardly follow Bro. Russell in his explanations and see at once that there really is a plan of God in the Ages, and that all the Scriptures fall into line and harmonize with it. It was too good.
Men are sometimes dazed by a bright natural light, and so also by bright unfoldings of the word. This was my case, and still pondering these things in my heart, I went East to attend Dr. Cullis's training school, and finding it unsuitable for me, I went on to Providence, where I acted with the Y.M.C.A. in a revival; thence to Bridgeport, Conn., where I attended the Mission revival services. From that I purposed to return to Boston again, but there was no opening except toward Pittsburgh.
The six months of absence had been valuable to me, I had practiced consecration, and was better fitted to hear spiritual teaching than at my first visit. [How wisely our Father deals with his inexperienced children, and how necessary is the entire surrender of self to the reception of his truth.] I then saw that there is a grand, glorious Plan of God. For eight months I have been preaching this glorious Gospel in private houses, halls, street corners and Fair grounds. Sometimes the Lord would open a free hall, or one so cheap that I could pay the price. People listen eagerly from two to four hours to the Gospel which "God conceived at the first, then hid, then revealed" (Eph. 3:9,10). Even upon Fair grounds, some classes would listen hour after hour; then proceeding to the town or city, I would preach in its streets for hours to eager listeners. I reach specially three classes:
It is blessed to deal with the first class – "preaching the Gospel to the meek." It is also blessed to guide this second class in the true way. These, at least, are honest "poor," to whom Jesus said the Gospel is preached. And, third, how blessed to have the infidel come and say, "I will henceforth do reverence to the God I once despised, since I behold him merciful, just and loving." Surely none are dumb who have learned to sing the "Song of Moses and the Lamb"; for out of the page 2 abundance of the heart the mouth must speak.
No one who knows the song well will say, I am not gifted. It is hid from the gifted class, and revealed to babes – the meek, who tell it whether gifted or not. Even if present rewards alone are weighed, I would not exchange places with the most eloquent man living, who knows not God's Plan in the Ages, and so cannot honor him fully. I have now a quiet, restful, unwavering faith and confidence in God in my work. I aim to do the very best I can, but not on the high-pressure principle some think so needful. I have no interest of my own, but find my all in God. Success, as the world counts it, will never follow preaching the real Gospel. Then, since my earthly fortunes can only change for the worse, and since God knows what his cause needs, and that his sons are working along, lovingly, as for a loving Father, why unrest? Let all who hear tell the good news to others and you will see how much more precious is this Gospel of Peace.
Your brother in Christ,
A beautiful landscape might inspire the artist or the poet, each in his talent. Circumstances, audiences, etc., may be said to inspire a public singer or speaker. Murder is sometimes inspired by jealousy, etc., etc. And the child of God should be so inspired by the teachings of Jesus, the Apostles, and Prophets, as to act and teach in harmony with them.
But let no one forget that these, though proper uses of our English word inspired, yet, when used in Scripture the word has a much deeper meaning. It there means, that the "Scriptures given by inspiration of God" are given not by inspiration of circumstances, nor by inspiration of the teachings of others, but are a special inspiration, or infusion of knowledge direct from God. Thus only Apostles and Prophets ever spoke to the Church.
"Be ye angry and sin not; let not the sun go down upon your wrath; neither give place to the devil." – Eph. 4:26.
This text has been misconstrued and very generally misunderstood. The common idea of what constitutes saintship is a life in which patience and calmness are about the only graces. The above text, among others, is supposed to favor a condition of drowsy indifference, frequently misnamed patience. Those who hold such views of saintship gauge their Christian standing by their ability to have no feeling upon any subject. To such, "overcoming" means in substance bridling their tongues and feelings – or never getting angry.
We protest against this as another of the adversary's soothing drugs to lull the saints to sleep when they should be awake and on the watch. This is not the overcoming referred to in Scripture, and those who think so are deluding themselves, and need to be waked up, that they may "finish their course with joy" (Acts 20:24).
Do not misunderstand us. We recognize patience as one of the Christian graces – a grand quality – but it is not the chief grace; it is not the ruling or controlling grace. And patience ceases to be a grace entirely when exercised towards wrong and injustice. No, "brotherly kindness," godlikeness and charity (love) are all its superiors, and as such should control it (1 Cor. 13:13). Paul mentions three of the chief graces, saying: Now abideth faith, hope and charity (love), but the greatest of these is LOVE.
Yes, LOVE is the chief grace, and should control all who are Christ's. This accords with Jesus' saying, "A new commandment I give unto you that ye LOVE one another." And when explaining what would fulfill all the law, he explained that it would be Love to God and to men. Amen. Then let the grace of LOVE rule, for "He that loveth not, knoweth not God, for God is love." [R439 : page 2]
But again, we must object to what is usually called LOVE. Love, scripturally considered, is not that easy-going indifference which, while self is comfortable, merely says: "I wish you no harm, and hope you'll find things to your liking" – which calls everybody brother and sister, and delights to be thought very broad and liberal on all subjects. No, scriptural love is of a far less general character than this. Less of the general "good luck" and more of the particular and careful love.
Jesus and the Apostles recognized the grace of love as a special thing. Jesus loved all mankind – not in the sense of wishing them no harm, but to the extent that he "tasted death for every man." But among men he had his special loves. "Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus" (John 11:5). And among his disciples there was both "that disciple whom Jesus [specially] loved" (John 21:7), and the "devil," or adversary, Judas (John 6:70).
It should be recognized by all who study the teachings of Jesus and the Apostles that love was in them the controlling principle. First, love to God; second, love to the Church; third, love to all men. Jesus' love for the Pharisees did not hinder his exposing their true character, for he loved more the truth and the earnest, humble Israelites, indeed, who were seeking for truth. Hence his scathing rebukes to the nominal Jewish Church and to the error-blinded doctors of divinity of his day, whose teachings were misleading the people. Jesus' words of rebuke: "Ye blind guides," "hypocrites," etc., were doubtless supposed to be un-loving, harsh and impatient expressions, but we can see that love was the principle which controlled him and prompted those remarks – love for truth and for the truthseekers – true Israelites.
When Paul (mildly?) said to a certain one, "O full of all subtilty and all mischief, thou child of the devil, thou enemy of all righteousness, wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord?" (Acts 13:10), some would say Paul lost his patience and sinned, and that he allowed his love to give way to anger at having his teaching interfered with, etc. But we claim that true LOVE was the cause of the anger – love for truth, love for God, whose ambassador he was, and love for the people who were being deceived by the error. This view is sustained by the preceding verse, which says Paul was filled with the Holy Spirit when he uttered these sharp words of rebuke. Note, also, other similar expressions of Jesus and the Apostles: Matt. 23:13-33; 16:23; Gal. 2:11; Phil. 3:18.
This is the counsel of Brother Paul; but "let not the sun go down on your wrath"; that is, let not your anger amount to bitterness, malice, hatred, but let it be only such as is controlled by love. "Neither give place to the devil." Let not truth fall in the streets and error triumph over it. Every loyal soldier should lift high the royal standard of truth and right and valiantly defend it.
Is it an evidence of saintship never to be angry? It is rather a sign of imbecility and lazy carelessness, for no one can live in the present age, in which the prince of this world (Satan) has control, without finding just cause, and that which should arouse a righteous indignation. Injustice and wrong should be met with indignation and rebuke by God's true children.
If, as we pass through the streets, we see a dumb animal unjustly and wantonly abused, we should, if we possess a spirit of justice, feel angry. What action we should take depends on circumstances. If we are able to rebuke the offender, it should be done. It would be sin not to do so; it would be giving place to the devil. And if right to be angry over injustice done to a dumb brute, how much more sinful to give place to the devil by allowing injustice or wrong to be done to a fellow human creature! And if our love prompts to defend these, how much should LOVE to God prompt us to CONTEND earnestly for truth and to reprove error, especially such errors and perversions of his word as would tend to overthrow the faith of God's children!
But beware. Note the word of caution: "Be ye angry and sin not." Anger prompted by love should be controlled by love. It must know no malice nor bitterness toward the individual who offends. Righteous indignation or anger, while it will pointedly and forcibly "reprove" and "rebuke," will yearn to see penitence and repentance.
The danger is in extremes. Some get angry to the extent of bitterness and personal hatred. We are cautioned against this sinful extreme, as well as against the other sinful extreme of giving place to the devil and permitting personal expediency, or convenience, or indolence, to hinder us from nobly upholding the right.
When we speak of an angry beast, it calls to mind the idea of mad ferocity and destructive, unreasoning rage. So, if we speak of an angry man, the impression of the effect of anger will depend on the extent to which the man is depraved.
A perfect man could be angry at evil or injustice and his anger would be controlled by reason, justice and love. The more depraved the being, the more unreasonable and unjust will be his anger and the expression of it.
If we think of a Christian as one filled with the spirit and love of truth and right, and under control of Christ's example and teaching, as being angry, we will conclude at once that his anger is a Godlike displeasure and opposition to something wrong, and that the anger is both caused and controlled by LOVE.
So, when we think of an angry God, we look to his general character and nature in order to learn what effect anger would have on him and how he would deal with those with whom he might be angry. When we come to know Jehovah's character – that He is love, very pitiful and of tender mercy, and that justice is the foundation of his throne – it assures us that all of his dealings must be in harmony with these elements of his character. Thus we see, that though repeatedly expressed in Scripture, "God is angry with the wicked," yet his anger is not the anger of injustice or malice, as of depraved men and devils, but an ANGER, displeasure, or opposition inspired by the LOVE of right and love for the creature which is injured by wrong and sin.
Now glance hastily at God's dealings with our representative Adam. God placed him on trial with the very simple arrangement that if he lived in harmony with, and obedience to, his Maker, he might live forever, and if he disobeyed he should die – lose his life and all right to it. How just this arrangement! God gave him life, and certainly had not only the power but the right to withdraw the life and allow the man to become extinct – "as though he had not been." This would be a reasonable punishment, yet a great loss, as Adam found, when, after enjoying life for a season, by a dying process, he finally lost it. Love could agree to this verdict of justice, because a life out of harmony with God must bring ever increasing trouble on the man and on his descendants.
God's love and justice thus agreed to the penalty – cutting off from life the rebel who otherwise would have increased his own misery, yet it is apparent to all that malice or bitterness toward his creature is not shown. Nor could God be so, since his character is love. We have elsewhere shown that after having justly sentenced man to death – taken from him all right to live – God in LOVE marked out a plan by which whosoever will may again have life by a resurrection from the dead. This plan, as already shown, does not SET ASIDE the justness of God's opposition and displeasure and sentence of death on the sinner, but vindicates his justice and love by permitting the Lamb of God to take away the sin of the world by giving his life a ransom (equivalent price) for all.
How grossly Jehovah's character has been misrepresented and his anger misunderstood for malice and bitterness by nearly all the nominal Churches of to-day! It is generally agreed, except by Calvinists, that Jehovah had none but good designs toward his human son Adam when he made him perfect and upright and placed him in Eden. When Adam sinned, all are agreed that God was angry, displeased, or opposed to his creatures. But more, it is claimed that his malice and hatred pursued them even beyond the tomb, and that when they died Jehovah exerted special power and continued their lives in some other place, generally called a "lake of fire" (by those who do not understand that expression in the book of symbols – Revelation). There, it is claimed, Adam has been kept in torture for over five thousand years.
All will agree that no being could continue to burn so long without burning up; but it is claimed that God has become so angry about the sin that he will keep Adam alive forever in order to torment him. No one can assume that justice would require such a penalty for Adam's transgression, and certainly love finds no place in such dealing. Nay, more, it would be, as all who can and do reason must admit, a gross injustice, and if it were true it would give the lie to every expression of the love and justice of God in Scripture. But this is all a dark nightmare, conjured in dark ages of Papal priestcraft and without foundation in the words of inspiration. [R440 : page 2]
What a blessed relief to awaken now in the morning dawn and see, as we now do, the justice and love displayed in the anger of the Lord – how all men were justly consigned to the state of death (sheol and hades, improperly translated hell in the Bible), and that because love has redeemed all, therefore all shall be resurrected and come back into life again (Rom. 5:18,19).
In him all the fulness or perfection dwelt, and of his fulness have all we received. (John 1:16) They who get none of his fulness – have none of his righteousness imputed to them – reap no benefit from his sacrifice for our sins, and are poor and naked indeed – covered with the filthy rags of their own righteousness. Surely such are in the very gall of bitterness and bond of iniquity; yet, not realizing their condition, some such claim, that it will "be seen after all, that there is not so much difference between Jesus Christ and us." The Lord have mercy upon them!
The same paper endeavors to show, in addition to the above, that Jesus was the son of Joseph, and by nature, consequently, as much a sinner as other men; that the account of the Shepherds and wise men coming to worship the babe, and angels singing at his birth, "Glory to God and peace toward men," is all nonsense; that the Apostles who claimed to speak as the "oracles of God," by special divine "revelation," were no more inspired than its Editor, and consequently their claims were false, and they were impostors and deceivers. This paper, after devoting about three-fourth's of its columns to this stuff, and about one-fourth to quotations and treatises on "The high calling," "The heavenly calling," "The body of Christ," etc., on which subjects it is inconsistent enough to quote from the very Apostles it considers liars and impostors, and no more inspired than its Editor, then names this mass, "Glad Tidings," and calls for help in spreading it before thinking people.
Nothing to pay? No, not a whit;
Nothing to do? No, not a bit;
All that was needed to do or to pay,
Jesus has done it His own blessed way.
Nothing to do? No, not a stroke;
Foiled is the captor, broken the yoke;
Jesus at Calvary severed the chain,
And none can imprison His free man again.
Nothing to fear? No, not a jot;
Nothing within? No, not a spot;
Christ is my peace, and I've nothing at stake;
Satan can that neither harass nor shake.
Nothing to settle? All has been paid;
Nothing to anger? Peace has been made;
Jesus alone is the sinner's resource;
Peace He has made by the blood of His Cross.
What about judgment? I'm thankful to say
Jesus has met it and borne it away;
Drank it all up when He hung on the tree,
Leaving a cup of full blessing for me.
What about terror? It hasn't a place
In a heart that is filled with a sense of His grace.
My peace is most sweet, and it never can cloy,
And that makes my heart bubble over with joy.
Nothing of guilt? No, not a stain;
How could the blood let any remain?
My conscience is purged, and my spirit is free;
Precious that blood is, to God and to me.
What of the law? Ah, there I rejoice;
Christ answered its claims and silenced its voice.
The law was fulfilled when the work was all done,
And it never accuses a justified one.
What about death? It hasn't a sting;
The grave to a Christian no terror can bring;
For death has been conquer'd, the grave has been spoiled,
And every foeman and enemy foiled.
What about feelings? Ah, trust not to them;
What of my standing? "Who shall condemn?"
Since God is for me, there is nothing so clear –
From Satan and man I have nothing to fear.
What of my body? Ah! that I may bring
To God, as a holy, acceptable thing;
For that is the temple where Jesus abides,
The temple where God by his Spirit resides.
What of my future? Tis glorious and fair,
Since justified, sanctified, His glory I'll share;
By his blood first redeem'd; by his grace then enthron'd,
Side by side with my Lord, his Bride I'll be own'd.
What, then, dost thou ask? O, glory shall follow;
Earth shall rejoice in the dawn of the morrow.
To rule and to bless comes that kingdom and reign;
Flee then, shall sorrow, death, crying and pain.
"Being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." – Rom. 5:1.
These terms are used in these two senses in Scripture. As illustrating the first definition, viz: proving or showing to be just and right, notice that our Heavenly Father is said to be justified and Jesus also. When John preached repentance for sins, the people who believed justified God; i.e., they acknowledged that God had been just in condemning and punishing them as sinners – his dealings were vindicated as being right. Jesus as a man was tried or tested in all points (the world, flesh and devil) as we are, "yet without sin" – "In him was no sin." He was "holy, harmless, separate from sinners." Jehovah was his judge, and he justified, i.e., declared him to have been proved right and just. He was vindicated as being right, or, as we read, he was "justified in spirit and received into glory." (1 Tim. 3:16.)
His unspotted humanity he gave up to death, to pay for us the penalty of Adamic sin – death. Thus his death was not for his own sins but for ours. "He bore our sins in His own body on the tree." "Jehovah (in harmony with his own desire) laid on him the iniquity of us all." The man Christ Jesus gave himself (his manhood) a ransom for all. And one of the best evidences that in God's sight he was free from all sin, is found in the fact that though he gave his humanity as a ransom, yet God, while accepting the human sacrifice for our sins, raised Jesus to life on a plane far above the human. Had he been a sinner, this would have been impossible, for God's law condemns every sinner to death.
God cannot say arbitrarily, you are wrong and sinful as a violator of my just laws, but I will declare you to be right. No, he must be just – justice is the foundation of his throne; everything rests upon it. If you are imperfect and sinful he cannot say that you are righteous. If you were righteous he could not declare you a sinner, nor treat you as such.
Do you remind us that there is none of the Adamic race righteous – no, not one – and urge that, therefore, God cannot justify any of us? We reply that he cannot justify us in the first sense of the word, as seen above, but there is a way which God's love and wisdom have [R441 : page 3] devised by which he can be just and the justifier of those sinners who believe in or accept Jesus. (Rom. 3:26). Thus our justification is in the second sense explained above; that is, we who are wrong, sinful, and condemned before God, are made right by having our sins and shortcomings settled by another – by having the perfections of another set to our account. Thus, we who were sinners were justified by God's favor, by the acceptance of the merits of Jesus as an offset to our demerit.
But some one may raise the question as to what is the cause or basis of justification. One claims that it is by Jehovah's grace, and not because our ransom has been paid, and quote Titus 3:7, "Being justified by his grace." Another claims that we are justified, not by grace, nor by a ransom, but by faith, and quote Rom. 5:1, "Being justified by faith," Another claims the ransom as the basis of all justification, and refers to Rom. 5:9, "Being now justified by his blood" (death). Are there three ways to be justified? No, answers Jesus, I am the way....No man cometh to the Father but by me.
What can there be about believing in Jesus? Why not believe in Peter or Moses or Sampson or Isaiah or Jeremiah? Why could not God justify those who believe in these as well as those "who believe in Jesus?" There must be something special and peculiar about Jesus, something different from all other teachers and prophets that we may be justified through faith in him, and not by faith in them.
Again, what is it to believe in Jesus? Is it merely to recognize the fact that such a person once lived in Judea and died on a cross? Surely not; many prophets perished in Judea; many persons died on crosses.
In explanation, we suggest that if the context be studied these texts will be found harmonious. It is by Jehovah's grace or favor that we are justified, for
"Grace first contrived the plan
To save rebellious man."
We are justified by faith, too; that is, we must by faith grasp the agency of God's grace – the ransom – before we can realize its full blessing. But down under all is the ransom – Jesus' death – the basis of all justifying faith – the channel of God's grace. These three things: the value of the ransom as the power of justification, the grace which provided it, and the faith which appropriates it are all beautifully joined by Paul (Rom. 3:24,25). "Justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood."
The secret is, that Jesus died for our sins. But, does some one suggest, that as sin is the cause of all death, therefore Isaiah, Jeremiah, Peter and others died because of sin as well as Jesus. We answer, yes; they all died because of sin: all but Jesus died because of their share in the sin, because they were descendants of the condemned Adam, whose life was forfeited by sin. (Rom. 5:18) Thus all but Jesus die because of the inherited taint. Jesus died because of sin, too, but not because of inherited taint or personal guilt. His life came direct from God and was unforfeited; but he died for our sins. "Jehovah laid upon him the iniquity of us all." "Him who knew no sin (either personal or inherited) He made a sin offering (treated as a sinner) on our behalf, that we might become God's righteousness in him." (2 Cor. 5:21, Diaglott.)
Ah, now we see why God justifies believers through Jesus and not through themselves, nor through apostles or prophets. Now we see why there is no other name given under heaven or among men whereby we can be saved from the penalty of the fall – death. It is because he gave his sinless, perfect humanity a RANSOM – substitute for ours.
Did God unjustly lay upon the willing substitute the iniquity of us all? Ah, no; for the joy set before him he endured the cross, despising the shame. Therefore his present exaltation and glory. Wondrous wisdom of the infinite Jehovah! Who can find a flaw in his glorious plan or charge him with injustice?
Now we see what it is to believe in Jesus. Not merely believing that such a man lived and died, but that he lived and died free from all condemnation and sin – attested and approved of God – and that his death was for our sins. And thus we see how God can justly justify those who believe in and accept of that sacrificial offering of the humanity of Christ Jesus. Now we can see that the sins and frailties of the Adamic family were cancelled by the ransom price which the second Adam gave. The first Adam's sins were imputed to the second, and the second Adam's human purity is imputed to the first and his children – when they believe.
It is blessed to realize, too, that the spotless one who bought us with his humanity is now highly exalted to the spiritual condition and power, and thus as a new creature – partaker of the divine nature – he will continue to carry forward the Father's plan. Soon he will bring from the prison-house of death those whom he bought, that they all might be (thus) saved (from the penalty of Adam's sin) and come to a knowledge of the truth, viz.: that they, by faith in Christ, are justified freely from all things and may come to perfection and harmony with God as Adam before sin.
How Paul brings out this doctrine of justification in Rom. 5:18,19, showing the condemnation to death on all through Adam, and the justification out of death to life through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom be glory throughout all ages. Amen.
Justified freely by his grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation (satisfaction) through faith in his blood; to declare his righteousness (right doing) in the remission of sins that are past....To declare, I say, at this time his (God's) righteousness: that he might be just and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. (Rom. 3:24,25.) [Those who will study the chart in "Food," page 105, will be helped in the understanding of this subject.]
Order is indispensable in the study of the word of the God of order. Order is heaven's first law. Through lack of order many Christians confound sanctification with justification. Sanctification is a distinct, separate work, and never precedes, but should follow justification. The term sanctification means setting apart for a special work or office. It is partly our work and partly God's work. When justified from sin through faith in the ransom, we may consecrate, sanctify or set ourselves apart to the will and service of God. Then, when God accepts our consecration, he sanctifies or sets us apart to whatever work or office he pleases.
This double work is made very plain in the language of Lev. 20:7,8: "Sanctify yourselves, therefore, and be ye holy"; and again, "I am the Lord which sanctify you." Compare, also, Rom. 12:1 with 1 Thes. 5:23.
It always has been and always will be a thing acceptable in God's sight for justified persons to sanctify or fully set themselves apart to his will and service. During the Gospel Age sanctification is a special privilege. The service to be performed and the office to be filled by those sanctified during this age is the grandest service and the highest office in the gift of Jehovah – grand in its privilege of scattering universal blessing.
No one can be sanctified who is not first justified by faith in Christ Jesus; for "God heareth not sinners" – the unjustified. Such cannot approach him. "No man cometh unto the Father but by me," are the words of our Lord. All who, during the Gospel Age, sanctify or set themselves apart to do the will of God find it his will that they "present their bodies living sacrifices unto God," which being justified, free from sin, holy, Paul assures us, will be acceptable unto God by Jesus Christ (Rom. 12:1).
It is only when made whiter than snow by the redemption that is in Christ Jesus that any sinner can have communion with God or set apart himself in acceptable service. Thus we offer up* sacrifices acceptable to God by Jesus Christ (1 Peter 2:5). In a word, nothing imperfect or sinful is acceptable to God in sacrifice. Hence the necessity that all who would sanctify must be justified or freed from sin first; then, being made free from sin, you can bear fruit, you can do works acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.
Thus we see that the ransom for our sins – Jesus' death – does not sanctify us, but it is the means of our justification, and justification must precede, or be a stepping-stone to sanctification. This relationship is clearly shown by Paul, who says: "Therefore, being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ; by whom also we have access by faith into this grace [sanctification] wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God" (Rom. 5:1,2). Every divine favor we enjoy comes by Jesus. Justification first, as the direct result of his death, then the acceptance of our sacrifice and consequent hope of glory, honor, immortality and joint-heirship with Jesus.
If, then, our sanctification be the presenting of our justified humanity as a sacrifice or offering to God, when may it be done? We answer that it – the sanctifying for the high calling – could be done by justified believers at any time since Jesus died and rose and ascended, until the "royal priesthood" is entirely selected. The selecting of this priesthood commenced not with Aaron and Moses – no, these were only types [R442 : page 3] and shadows of the real – it began with Jesus, the High Priest of our profession. He was first selected as our Leader, Forerunner and Captain, and not until he had fully sanctified himself and sacrificed the human nature, thus finishing his course and opening for us a new and living way by justifying us – not until then did any follow him in sanctification and sacrifice.
Even the disciples, though they had consecrated fully and had forsaken all to be his disciples – though they had thus done their part of the work of sanctification, yet God did not accept of their sacrifice until Jesus had actually paid their ransom price and ours, and presented it upon the "mercy seat." But immediately, when their justification was fully accomplished, the Pentecostal blessing – the sealing acceptance of their sacrifice – came.
This Gospel Age, then, has been "the acceptable year (time) of the Lord" – i.e., the time during which God has accepted as candidates for the priesthood every heart presented in sacrifice – coming in the only name given. This acceptable time, to our understanding, is now ended – since October, 1881. The present time we believe to be not a [R442 : page 4] time for consecration with a view to the high calling, the priesthood, but rather the time for those who have so consecrated to finish their course with joy by fully carrying out their covenant of sacrifice. Soon the sacrificing and sufferings of the Church will give place to glory when she shall be united to her Lord, and when one with him she shall be Jehovah's channel for blessing the world.
Yes, we believe that the quarrying of living stones for the temple is ended – we wait till the few now being finished and polished shall be perfected and fitted to their places, and then the structure will be completed; and the headstone shall be brought forth with shoutings of grace, grace unto it (Zech. 4:7). May the privilege
"Of the little while betweenand let all the consecrated run with renewed vigor the remainder of their course.
In its golden light be seen,"
The present time, we repeat, is for the perfecting of those who have consecrated all to the Lord. It is a harvest rather than a sowing time, a gathering rather than a planting time. It is mentioned thus by the Prophets: "Gather my saints together unto me – those that have made a covenant with me by sacrifice"; "They shall be mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels" (Psa. 50:5; Mal. 3:17).
But while sanctification is spoken of as though it were completed at the moment of consecration, yet it actually is a progressive work to all whose earthen vessels were marred and tainted by sin. Even after the human will is subjected to the divine, we need, as did Paul, to keep our bodies under (1 Cor. 9:27).
To enable us to be and to continue sanctified, God has provided a means, viz., truth. Not every truth – not historic or scientific truth – but as Jesus said, "Sanctify them through thy truth." Other truths are very good in their place, but it is a mistake to suppose that they sanctify. But what is God's truth? Jesus said, "Thy word is truth." God's word through the prophets? Yes, we have a sure word of prophecy to which we do well to take heed; and not only so, but God's more recent words through the Apostles also, for "all Scripture, given by inspiration of God, is profitable."
But does some one inquire of the necessity of the New Testament and suggest that Jesus was sanctified by the word of God through the prophets? Our reply is, Not so; for Jesus himself was the living word – "the word made flesh." It is nowhere said that he was sanctified by the word of the prophets. They testified of, but not to, him. He was sanctified by the truth, but he himself said, also, "I am the truth" (John 14:6); and again, "I sanctify myself" (John 17:19). Ah, beloved! "This" is the living bread ("truth") which came down from heaven, without which all the words of prophets would have been meaningless and tasteless husks.
For sanctifying power, Jesus pointed us forward to the truths to be revealed by the Spirit through the Apostles, saying: "The Comforter, which is the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you" (John 14:26). He shall take of mine and show them unto you (John 16:14). Any reference to the prophets was rather as corroborative of his own higher teachings (Matt. 24:15; Dan. 11:31). And thus all students have found it; the prophets' words are valuable as showing many of the interests of the Jew and natural men and events, but, except in types and shadows, discernable only by the Spirit's revelations through the Apostles, they contain little spiritual food. This is that bread which came down from heaven – this "grace and truth came by Jesus Christ" – and since his ascension it has been revealed through his Apostles, who "preached the gospel with the Holy Spirit sent down from heaven" – to take of Jesus' things and show them unto "the sanctified in Christ" (1 Pet. 1:12; 1 Cor. 1:2).
Since God's truth is the sanctifying power, how important that we should live "by every word which proceedeth out of the mouth of God" (Matt. 4:4). Let us seek and feed upon God's word in its purity, remembering that sectarian creeds and catechisms are so many attempts to "teach for doctrine the commandments of men" (Matt. 15:9), and that the result of even mixing truth with error is confusion – Babylon.
Because we find that Jesus and the Apostles kept church and world separate in their teachings, we endeavor to do the same. We have just considered "your sanctification" (the church's) and now we glance at the world's privilege in this direction. The two are alike, yet different. Alike, in the sense that sanctification means consecration; different, because the consecration differs under the different attendant circumstances.
The two occur at different times. The Church's consecration first in (this) the Gospel age; the world's afterward in the next or what is often called the Millennial age. Hence Jesus in the beginning of this age, though he loved the world so much as to die for them, and desired their sanctification as well as that of the Church, yet, knowing God's order, that the Church must first be gathered and perfected on the spiritual plane of being before the world on the earthly plane could be blessed through their ministration, prayed thus: (John 17:9,21,22), "I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me" (specially selected by the magnet of truth to become Jesus' bride and joint-heir) "that they all may be one...as thou Father art in me and I in thee; that they also may be one in us...that they may be one even as we are one" (partakers of the divine nature" 2 Pet. 1:4), "that (when these are thus perfected in the divine nature) the WORLD may believe.
Yes, deep hidden riches of grace for the world are at present obscured by the exceeding riches of God's grace and lovingkindness toward us who are in Christ Jesus (Eph. 2:6-8). The "royal priesthood" have consecrated to sacrifice during this Gospel age. The anti-types of the "Levites," who consecrate to service but not sacrifice must be fulfilled in the Millennial age. (See Numb. 8:24.)
During the Gospel age the call has been, who will take up the cross and follow me (Jesus)? Who is willing to deny (ignore) himself and suffer with Christ in hope of reigning with him? Who will present his body – his human nature – a living sacrifice and become dead with him that he may also live with him? (2 Tim. 2:12; Rom. 12:1 and 6:8.)
In answer to this call for severe service, yet "reasonable," when the reward is considered, few – a "little flock", a "royal priesthood" – have during 1,800 years heeded the call and been selected. How few, or who they are, we know not – God knoweth; but we know that Jesus is the high-priest of their profession, and those who shall be with him are called and chosen through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth, (2 Thes. 2:13) and faithful. We know, too, that it includes all and only those who have made and kept a "covenant by sacrifice" (Psalm 50:5; Rev. 17:14.)
The conditions of consecration for mankind in the next age will be not sacrifice of things lawful and right and good for the natural man, or the laying down of the human existence, but obedience to God and his law of love, which offers on the surest foundation everlasting life and blessing. Thus the prophets express it: "Serve the Lord with fear (respect) and rejoice with trembling." (Psa. 2:11.) "Hear (obey) and your soul shall live. Let the wicked forsake his way and the unrighteous man his thoughts, and let him return unto the Lord and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon." (Isa. 55:2,7.) In a word, obedience to God will be the only requirement from all who, being justified by faith in Christ, would consecrate themselves fully to God. Nor would sacrifice, crucifixion, death be possible to those in that age, seeing that evil in all its forms is to be suppressed and all things brought under the control of good and right. It is because, in God's arrangement, evil (Satan) now rules the world, that [R443 : page 4] right-doing, truth and goodness are bringing reproach, crucifixion, and suffering: and this we have seen is to permit the sufferings and sacrifice not only of Jesus the high priest who, without sacrificing the human, could never partake "of the divine nature," by which they are clothed with power to bless and restore mankind. It will be apparent to all, then, that when the present triumph of evil gives place to the lasting triumph of righteousness, the very circumstances which now make sacrifice necessary to the overcoming of the world will be gone, never more to return; consequently the opportunity for sacrificing for right and truth will be gone. When the time foretold shall fully come, when "A king shall reign in righteousness and princes shall execute judgment in the earth" – then "In his day the righteous shall flourish" and the evildoer shall be cut off (Ps. 72:7; 37:9).
The original appointment of consecrated priests under the typical system numbered five, while of the Levites there were seventeen thousand one hundred and sixty appointed. (Num. 4:36,40,44,48; Exod. 28:1.)
The proportion of these numbers toward each other probably typifies the much larger proportion of those saved and consecrated in the next age as men, as compared with the "little flock" selected under the trying ordeal of sacrifice during the Gospel age to become spiritual beings, – "new creatures" – and to be made unto our God kings and priests to reign on the earth (Rev. 5:10). For a fuller treatment of this phase of the subject, see "The Tabernacle" pamphlet.
It will be seen then, that if our time for consecration to sacrifice as priests is ended, the time for consecration for the Levite class is due to commence. How important, now in the little while which remains, that those who have thus consecrated to sacrifice with Jesus should make their calling and election sure by compliance.
It may be asked, What is the practical difference between the two consecrations as they affect our daily life and actions? We reply, that the consecration or sanctification of the Levite class is merely to abstain from sin and do those things which are right, while those who consecrate as priests deny themselves those things which are rightly and properly their privilege as men. For instance: It is right that men should seek, by every lawful and proper action, to make themselves comfortable and happy in the world, to have a "good name;" to rightly value the esteem of their fellow-men, and to accept public office; to spend time and talent in science, music, art, etc. All these things, if sought in a sinless way, are proper to consecrated MEN – Levites – but not for the new creature, not for the royal priesthood. The latter is to be careful for nothing: ease, comfort, reputation, honors of earth, are not to be considered, except to remember that these are as dross when compared to the higher office and honors promised to the sacrificers. This class – the priests – have no time for concerts, games, science, art, music, etc., even though they be sinless, (except such as are necessary to health) because all their time, money, and talents are consecrated to be sacrificed from self to the Lord's service. "As it is written, for thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter." "In all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us" – "Heirs of God, joint heirs with Jesus Christ our Lord, if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. For I reckon that the sufferings (losses, deprivations, self-denials) of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us." (Rom. 8:17,18,36,37.) These distinct consecrations are further shown in article, "Two Baptisms," in another column.
It is a curious fact that the same thing which was the cause of division during the ministry of Christ Jesus on earth, is the cause of division now. The same questions which were agitating the people then are agitating them now. It seems as though the sifting is going on from one grade to another. What does not cause separation at one time is only reserved to cause separation or division a little farther on. The question, a short time ago, was, When and how does Christ come? Then, a little after, Has he come? Is he present?
There was a test question then, but it was the test for that time – for that sifting. Now, there is another test, and it is a noticeable fact that the present test is the one which occupied the minds of the people about six months after the third Passover which was observed by our Lord; that is, about six months before his crucifixion. It was at the Feast of Tabernacles, "the last great day (the eighth) of the feast." (John 7:37.) Some said one thing and some another, some thought he was the Christ, and some did not (verses 40,42). "So there was a division of the people because of him" (verse 43).
About that time, in a conversation with the Pharisees, Jesus said (John 8:18,) "The Father that sent me beareth witness of me." "Then said they unto him, Where is thy Father?" (vs. 18,19.) Jesus answered, "Ye neither know me nor my Father; if ye had known me, ye would have known my Father also." If JOSEPH had been his father, this would not have been the fact, for his ("supposed") "father and mother" they knew. (John 6:42.) "He being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph." (Luke 3:23.) Some suppose the same thing now, and remind us very much of those Pharisees then, who, after a lengthy conversation, (in which Jesus refers to the fact that they were "doing the deeds of their Father") said, "WE have not been born of fornication; we have One Father, God" (Jno. 8:41). (See E.D. for text and rules of emphasis), which evidently was a sarcastic intimation that he had been born of fornication, which if Joseph were his father, would have been true. But even if Joseph was not his father, yet if he came into the world by natural generation, it would have been true, for he was conceived before Joseph had taken Mary as his wife.
Suppose, as the editor of the "Day Star" teaches, that Jesus was brought into the world just as other men are, i.e., according to natural laws, can its editor give us any good reason from the Old Testament writings or the new, why God should have chosen to have his son (or, as perhaps the editor of the Star would say, he who was to become his son) enter the world in a way that would seem to give sanction to the violation of his own moral law?
The editor of the Star uses three columns of his paper to meet an argument which, we should think, no careful Bible scholar would offer, viz., that the sign, "Behold a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel," was given to Ahaz in particular; whereas the prophecy reads, "Hear ye now, O house of David." He quotes from Young's Concordance showing that it was "announced to Ahaz and the people of Judah as the sign that God would give them deliverance from their enemies" (the italics are ours), and then says that "the birth of Jesus, which occurred in the neighborhood of 700 years after Ahaz slept with his fathers, could have been no sign to him that God would protect him from the two kings who purposed doing him evil. Now, is it possible that this editor supposes that this remarkable sign was given to Ahaz particularly (and when he would not ask for it) and related only to his difficulty with those two kings?
No, he evidently does not, though the above has that look, for in another place in the same article he says, "Because of their desire God promises a sign, which [R443 : page 5] is to be a son conceived of a virgin, whose name is to be called Immanuel." He moreover says, "that wayfaring men" though fools, "should see that to be any sign to Ahaz, the child must have been born shortly after the prophecy was given." Now, any intelligent, careful reader can see that such a use of language as this would render much that Jesus said of no use to us now. Such words as "ye," "you," and "we," used by Christ and the writers of the epistles, would only have reference to those present at the time the words were spoken, e.g., "Go ye and teach all nations;" "lo, I am with you always." But as he does not believe that the birth of Jesus was a fulfillment of that prophecy, but believes that it was fulfilled in time to be a sign to Ahaz touching those "two kings," Will he tell us (we do not want to "challenge" him) when that prophecy was fulfilled? Surely the fulfillment of so remarkable a sign as that, which he allows God promised, (and this, too, in "the O.T. writings,") would not fail to be plainly recorded. We shall wait with interest for his answer.
Again, in the same article, he says the child "was to eat butter and honey, that he might know to refuse the evil and choose the good" (ver. 15.) "Now," he continues, "to be consistent, we must admit that the honey represents good and the butter evil, or vice versa," (we do want to be consistent and will admit it,) "and further, that if the child was to eat both, then IT FOLLOWS that he must participate in both good and evil DEEDS." Hold! If that is what you call consistency we did not understand the meaning of the word, for this is illogical, the inference is wrong.
He then adds: "If this is applied to Jesus, then it makes him a sinner." Now, we will admit, that "if this is applied to Jesus" in that way "it makes him a sinner," but we would not wish to endorse [R444 : page 5] so lame an application as that. He still further adds, that this "places him in exactly the same position as Adam, who had to do wrong in order to know good and evil." Now, we will try to be consistent and admit that such an application would do all that; but the application comes from the illogical deduction that evil necessarily implies evil DEEDS, which requires no argument to refute. We regard it as impossible to have placed "Jesus in exactly the same position as Adam," except as to purity, for Adam had no view of misery and death which Jesus had. Jesus felt the evils of sin without sinning; he "ate butter and honey," good and evil, but not evil deeds. He suffered on account of others (not as a substitute in suffering) who evil entreated him, who, on account of their blindness, occasioned by the fall, misapplied his teaching, etc. There were many ways in which he "ate" (experienced) evil. Lazarus, his friend, died on account of the fall, and that caused Jesus to sorrow; and the hard heartedness of the Jews, as shown at the grave, caused him to "groan in spirit."
Can any one think this is so, and Jesus living by faith too? Considering, too, that he understood the Scriptures (Old Testament writings) so well that he puzzled the doctors when he was only twelve years of age, and yet did not know how to refuse the evil and choose the good, but, like Adam, (who had no such exhibition of the effects of sin) "had to do wrong in order to know good and evil?" Now, must we admit all this "to be consistent"? Would such admission be consistent?
In the same number, under a subheading of "Childish Idea," the writer says: "When Jesus said Sanctify them through thy truth, thy WORD is truth' (John 17:17), He must have referred to the OLD TESTAMENT WRITINGS, for the New were not then, nor for some time afterward, in existence."
Now, let us turn to the first chapter of John, where exactly the same word in the original is used, and let us read, in parenthesis, this application: "In the beginning was the Word (Old Testament writings), and the Word (Old Testament writings) was with God, and the Word (Old Testament writings) was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by (or through) him" vs. 1-3. "And the Word (Old Testament writings) became flesh and dwelt among us,...full of grace and truth" (verse 14).
It goes on to say: "This is authority sufficient for us, for Jesus was also sanctified by the truth" (John 17:19). Now, is it not strange that it should make such a statement as that, and then give a scriptural reference as though the Scripture referred to substantiated the statement? But, on looking at the 19th verse, we find Jesus saying: "And for their sakes I sanctify MYSELF (i.e., set apart, consecrate), that they also may be sanctified in truth." [See E.D. – R.V., and Rotherham's translations.] In harmony with John's statement quoted, is another statement of Jesus (recorded by John 14:6), "I am the Way and the Truth and the Life," and we can see that through him, "the Word," and "the Truth and the Life," they were sanctified, while he sanctified himself.
While it is true that we should search the Scriptures (Old Testament writings) for they are they which testify of Christ Jesus, let us not forget that they are God's written word, and could not be fully understood until God's living Word (Jesus Christ) came and stood beside them, showing their signification, and what would be accomplished for the world when the body, (the Church) of which he is the head, should be complete.
While we have been writing the above, our heart has gone out in loving sympathy and tender regard for him whom we love, yet see to be in error. We have not written to be sharp or sarcastic, nor bitter; but there are many things lately put before the public in the "Day Star" that are made to appear crooked, and, with such applications as those referred to, cannot be otherwise than crooked; and have a tendency to mislead, and, as we have been asked more than once, in person and by correspondence, for an expression of our views, we have felt it necessary to define our position as to these things.
If any will admit the supernaturalness of the Scriptures, and of Jesus who was the fulfilling of them (Old Testament writings), letting go of naturalism, and not reasoning after the method of the materialistic school part of the time, and as a Christian part of the time, we think he will see that the first man (Adam) was of the earth earthy, and that the second man (Adam) was the Lord FROM heaven; and that, with the POSSIBILITIES which he possessed of transmitting a perfect race, he gave himself (thus sacrificing all the POSSIBILITIES of a sinless man) as a ransom for the race, who had suffered the penalty of death, for their sins, and could only rise when there should be "found a ransom." HE took their place. "Wherefore God also hath HIGHLY exalted him" – "glorified him with (in addition to) the glory which he had with the Father before the world was."
We would seriously ask the editor of the "Star" to give us a good reason why the peculiar language – "I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed," (Gen. 3:15; Gal. 4:4), and "Made of a woman" – if there was nothing of more than ordinary significance attaching to it? Is it not obvious that if Jesus came into the world, just as "we all" have, there would be no force to this language and no occasion for using it?
So we say, in answer to the question which we have used for the heading of our article, "Truly this WAS the Son of God" (Matt. 27:54).
"Preach the Word; be instant in season and out of season [i.e., when it suits your convenience and when it does not]; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and doctrine." (2 Tim. 4:2.)
Immersion or baptism (Greek – dipping) in water, as practiced by John the Baptist and afterward by our Lord and his disciples, had a different significance at first among the disciples from what it came to have after the Spirit dispensation was fully opened and its teachings received.
John came and his disciples, preaching repentance of sins, and used immersion as a token or sign of the putting away of sin by the repentant one. Not that the immersion put away the filth of the flesh – sin – but it illustrated it. Jesus' disciples did a similar work among the people (John 4:2). And after Pentecost, even, the Apostles, for a time at least, used the emblem in this same way. For instance, Acts 2:38,41; 8:12,13,38. In each of these instances open sinners were to exemplify the putting away of their sins, and this, indeed, is the usual significance of the ordinance among Christians to-day.
But baptism came to have a new and very different significance to the Apostles, under the guidance of the Spirit, as they came to discern its deeper meaning as illustrated both by the words and act of Jesus. In Jesus' case, surely, it did not typify a putting away of the filth of sin, for the question he put, but which his opponents never answered, was, "Which of you convinceth me of sin?" and the record is that "in him was no sin."
Jesus' baptism or immersion into water typically expressed his death, into which he voluntarily went for our sins. It represented the full consecration of his will to the Father's purposes and plans for our redemption. It was when "Jesus began to be about thirty years of age" – manhood according to the law – and therefore, the proper time for him to sacrifice his fully-developed manhood. And the act of baptism represented in the one act of going down into the water and rising from it, his going down into death, and his trust in the Father's promise that he should not be left in death, but should have a resurrection. (Psa. 16:10; Acts 2:31)
When Jesus presented himself to John – regarding it, and properly, as the symbol of repentance and reformation – John was surprised and said, "I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me?" He recognized Jesus' sinlessness and knew that he needed no repentance. Jesus answered, "Suffer it to be so now, for thus it becometh us (the church of which he was the head) to fulfill all righteousness." And his death, which his immersion symbolized, was indeed the fulfillment of all the righteous demands of justice against the condemned race of Adam.
That which was expressed in that brief, symbolic act, was fully carried out in the three-and-a-half years of his ministry – for during that time he died daily, or was continually giving his life strength – sacrificing himself – for the sake of the Lord's truth, the Lord's children, and humanity in general. The act of immersion meant in symbol all that sacrifice which, commencing at Jordan, was completed at Calvary, and also his triumph as a new creature in the resurrection. Baptism into death meant sacrifice and suffering unto the end, both to Jesus and his followers – all who would share the present sufferings and the final glory. [R445 : page 5]
To all who would share the heavenly glory, the question comes as it did to James and John, "Are ye able to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?" (Matt. 20:22). And if we have indicated our willingness, we have the promise that the ability shall be supplied; for our leader is our surety. And again, Jesus says: "I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how am I straightened until it be accomplished" (Matt. 20:22; Luke 12:50). All must see that not the watery-symbolic death, but the reality, is here referred to.
After Pentecost, under the leading of the Spirit, the Apostles came gradually to apprehend this deeper and more forcible significance of baptism when applied to Christians – to those who sought to follow the Master's footsteps of self-denial and crucifixion of the flesh to heavenly glory – the first resurrection. If by any means they might know him and the power of his resurrection (to spiritual conditions) and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death (Phil. 3:10). They came to see that to be baptized with his baptism meant much more than John's, much more than putting away the filth of sin; that it now meant consecration – to sacrifice – of that which already was justified in God's sight. Hence it is that we find Paul so ably teaching and exhorting believers, who were already justified from sin by faith in the Redeemer, to put on Christ by baptism; to become members of the "little flock" – "members of his body" – by being immersed into Christ. We quote his words:
"Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ, were baptized (immersed) into his death? Therefore, we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life" – walk as those having heavenly, not earthly, hopes and aims. How different is this meaning to the saints from that conveyed by John's baptism? So different, indeed, that the Apostles soon came to see that John's baptism, though the same in outward form, did not at all represent a baptism into Christ, and some who had been once baptized with the idea of putting away sin-filthiness were commanded to be baptized again, and thus express the new and deeper meaning to baptism (Acts 19:1-5 and 10:48).
From these few brief testimonies we hope that all will be able to recognize the two baptisms (two in import; one in outward form). All may add to the evidence by the use of Bible references or a concordance. And let all clearly distinguish between the heart-work which is the real, and the watery-type, which is the shadow. All should see, too, that the outward form has even greater weight and is the more proper to be observed by those who see the reality. We must not only believe with the heart, but also confess with the mouth – a symbolic act.
The immersion, which typifies a death of the human nature, we regard as being no longer proper, except for those who, in heart, had already made the consecration – presented themselves living sacrifices, as shown in preceding article on Sanctification – but who may not before have seen the beauty, significance and propriety of the symbol. But immersion, as practiced before the Gospel dispensation – called John's baptism, or the baptism unto repentance, as indicating a change of life, and thereafter a putting away of the filth of the flesh – is now in order again, as illustrating the very consecration that natural men should make to come into full harmony with God.
Does Paul dissent from this statement concerning two baptisms when he says, we have "one baptism?" No, he addressed the Church, those following in Jesus' footsteps, being baptized, not unto John's baptism, but into Christ – into the anointed company of which the anointed Jesus is the head. Some inquire, Who could properly administer the ordinance? We answer, any one, it matters not who, but all our preferences would naturally lead us to prefer that the administrator should be a brother in Christ. The formula of words, which it is our custom to use toward those being immersed into Christ, is as follows: "Brother__________, in the name (by the authority) of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, I baptize thee into Christ." Our formula for those now covenanting to renounce sin and pursue righteousness is, "Brother__________, in the name of Jesus Christ, thy sins be forgiven thee; go and sin no more."
"If ye continue in my word...ye shall know the truth." (John 8:31.)
The spotless purity, the marked intellectual superiority, the humble dignity, the meek gentleness, the bold and uncompromising sense of right, linked with benevolence and untiring self-sacrifice, marked Jesus as a man peculiar and separate from all other men. In his day "he taught as one having authority," and men said, "Never man spake like this man." Whatever others may think or say of him, he claimed to be the sent of God, saying, (John 6:38), "I came down from heaven." "I am the living bread which came down from heaven." (verse 51.) The Jews disbelieved this claim, and said, "How can this be?" And many of his disciples, when they heard it, said, "This is a hard saying, who can hear it?" (verse 60.)
"When Jesus knew in himself that his disciples murmured at it, he said unto them, Doth this offend you? What and if you shall see the Son of Man ascend up where he was before?" But "from that time many of his disciples went back and walked no more with him" (verses 61-66), because of this claim of heavenly origin and pre-human existence.
Again, we find him before the Pharisees declaring the same truth, saying, "I know whence I came and whither I go....I am from above, I am not of this world;...I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me....It is my Father that honoreth me, and if I should say I know him not I shall be a liar" (John 8:14,23,42,54,55). Then said the Pharisees, "Art thou greater than our father Abraham?" Jesus answered, "Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day, and he saw it and was glad." "Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham? [Abraham had been dead two thousand years.] Jesus said unto them, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, BEFORE ABRAHAM WAS, I AM." (John 8:53,56-58).
There is no mistake about that expression. The Son of God had not yet tasted death; the birth of the human was only a transference of the life-principle from spiritual to human conditions; the being, the individuality, was the same. Jesus as a man recognized himself as the same being – the Son of God. (See "Food for Thinking Christians," chap. "Narrow Way to Life.") "I AM" expresses his continuous existence, and identifies Jesus of Nazareth with the "only begotten" and "first-born of all creation." Did the Jews believe this wonderful truth? No, they took up stones to stone him. Jesus' teachings only convinced the meek. ("The Spirit of the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings to the meek." – Isa. 61:1.)
Referring again to the saying of Jesus (John 6:62), "What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before?" and comparing it with Mark's statement (chap. 16:19), "He was received up into heaven and sat on the right hand of God," we can only conclude that before his advent to earth he occupied the right hand (or chief position) on the heavenly or spiritual plane; not the Father's position, but the chief position at the Father's right hand – right hand signifying the chief place of favor and power. But the right hand position before his advent to earth was not so exalted as his present position at the right hand of Jehovah; for because of his humiliation and obedience even unto death "God hath highly exalted him" (Phil. 2:9), and given additional honors and glory; and those honors shall magnify and multiply with the revolving ages.
Again, Jesus had been explaining the truth to Nicodemus, but Nicodemus was slow to believe, and Jesus by way of reproof remarked, "If I have told you earthly things and ye believed not, how shall you believe if I tell you heavenly things?" Then he intimates that no one else could teach him those heavenly things; for "No man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of Man",* consequently no one else knew the heavenly things. Then Jesus proceeded to explain that "God so loved the world as to give his only begotten Son" (a son on that higher plane before he was sent) to redeem men (John 3:12-17).
If Jesus had been conceived and born in the usual way, that is, in sin, even as others, we must conclude either that he was an impostor who sought to delude his followers into thinking him some great one, or else conclude with the Jews that he had a devil and was mad (insane). But in him was neither guile (deceit) nor any other sin. Therefore, with confidence, we mark and weigh his words when again we hear him say (Matt. 11:27), "No man knoweth the Son but the Father, neither knoweth any man the Father save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him."
Strange language! Did not the disciples know Jesus as a man? Yes, but as we have seen, they understood not the secret of his wonderful being – his pre-human [R446 : page 6] glory and the mystery of his incarnation. Jesus was just beginning to reveal himself to them as they were able to receive the truth. And he had yet many things to tell them which they were not then able to bear, but which the promised Spirit through the Word has since made plain. Whence that intimate knowledge of the Father which he here claimed? We find answer in the texts we have just considered. But look again and we shall find further testimony. (The same knowledge is alluded to by the Prophet Isaiah, chap. 53:11, "By his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many.")
Turning to Prov. 8:22-30, we find that this same Jesus whom Isaiah calls "The Wonderful, Counsellor," etc. (the same being, though known by many names,) Solomon speaks of as Wisdom personified, saying: "Jehovah possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old. I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was. When there were no depths, I was brought forth; when there were no fountains abounding with water. Before the mountains were settled, before the hills was I brought forth; while as yet he had not made the earth, nor the fields, nor the highest part of the dust of the world. When he prepared the heavens I was there: when he set a compass upon the face of the depth: when he established the clouds above; when he strengthened the fountains of the deep: when he gave to the sea his decree, that the waters should not pass his commandment; when he appointed the foundations of the earth; then I was by him, as one brought up with him; and I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him." Would any inquire – of whom born? Let the Psalmist answer, "From the womb of the morning" (Psa. 110:3).
In what perfect accord is this with the statements of John 1:1-18, (See Dec. issue "Consider him" – read it) which not only shows his intimate acquaintance with Jehovah and knowledge of his plans, but exhibits him as his honored agent in their accomplishment.
When we consider the length of time that must have elapsed during the creation of the material universe (See art. "The Creative Week," in a former issue – read) we may have some idea of our Lord's intimate and long acquaintance with Jehovah and his plans. No marvel, then, that Jesus said, "No man knoweth the Son but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father save the Son." And again, "O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee but I have known thee." (John 17:25.)
The key to his knowledge of heavenly things is furnished us in John 3:31,32. "He that cometh from above is above all: he that is of the earth is earthly and speaketh of the earth; he that cometh from heaven is above all. And what he hath seen and heard, that he testifieth." No wonder that some said, "Whence hath this man this wisdom." It was his knowledge of heavenly things, as well as his faith in the Father's promise, which enabled him to overcome the world and present an acceptable sacrifice for our sins. As it was written, "By his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many."
"O that all of God's dear children would be more earnest in studying the Scriptures, for, said Jesus, "These are they which testify of me." (John 5:39.) As we are able to bear it, the glories of Father and Son, and our promised glory through them, will be made very clear to us. "He (the Son) was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not," and still does not know him. Only those who humbly walk by faith in the light of the sure word will know him, until his glory and power shall be revealed, so that all flesh may see it together.
Very soon we know that his power shall be universally felt, and the Psalmist intimates that his power, displayed in restoring and perfecting all things, will at least equal his power, as Jehovah's agent, in creating them. "Thou hast the dew (freshness, vigor) of thy youth." (Psa. 110:3.)
With all this united testimony of the Holy Scriptures before us, What child of God could longer doubt the pre-human existence and glory of our blessed Lord, or the sincerity of his own prayer, "Father, glorify thou me with the glory I had with thee before the world was?"
In no other way can we understand how "He was rich, yet for our sakes became poor, that we through his poverty might be rich." (2 Cor. 8:9.) As a man he had none of this world's goods. True, he was rich in wisdom, grace and understanding; but did giving these make him poor? Did he become poor in wisdom or grace for us? By no means. No, Jesus and the Apostles tell us of the glory he had with the Father before the world was. There was the wealth which he left – humbling himself and taking the form of a servant, etc., (Phil. 2:7) that we through that real poverty might become rich.
In no other way can we understand Jesus to be the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last, as he claims in his revelation to John, (Rev. 1:8; 3:14; 21:6; 22:13) than as the Scriptures harmoniously teach, that as Jehovah's agent he is the beginner and finisher of the wondrous plan, though not its author. In a word, he was the only direct creation of Jehovah, all other creations being through him as his agent or representative; as we read: "To us there is but one God – the Father – of whom are all things and we in him: and one Lord – Jesus Christ – by whom are all things and we by him." (1 Cor. 8:6.)
"He is the first-born of every creature; [born before all creation] for by him were all things created that are in heaven and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones or principalities or powers; all things were created by him and for him: and he is before all things and by him all things consist. And [he is also the first to partake of the divine nature,] he is the head of the church, who is the beginning, the first born from the dead – that in all things he might have the pre-eminence." (Col. 1:15-18.)
Bride of the Lamb, here view your Lord,
His glory's veiled to other eyes than thine;
For other ears – came not the word;
They'll know, when in his glory thou shalt shine.
Dear Brother: Your note, stating that you and the Church of which you are the pastor, desire me to write to you, is at hand. Not doubting the general interest of yourself and those for whom you speak, in the welfare of a former pastor whose relations were mutually of the most amicable kind, I still suppose that it is particularly on account of my having withdrawn from the ministry and membership in the M.E. Church that you desire to hear. To those who listened to my preaching during my pastorate at Townsendville, it is unnecessary to state that I was at the time a Methodist. My notions of the teachings of Scripture were gained while yet a child. They were taught me by Methodist parents, in Methodist Sunday-schools, from Methodist pulpits.
I find that years before I was capable of forming for myself intelligent opinions concerning even the general scope of Scripture teaching, they had already been moulded, and I had unquestioningly accepted the opinions of others and made them my own. I am now disposed to believe, however, that it was with some degree of mental reservation that I accepted some of the doctrines of orthodoxy. How else could I, while professing to believe in endless torment for the unrepentant, associate with them, accept their many kindnesses, and speak to them from the pulpit on themes often tending to divert their attention from, rather than attract it toward, so horrible a fate. I believe, however, that by the churches I served I was adjudged faithful to my duties; and though coming short of my own model of what a minister of Christ should be, I have the happy consciousness of having ordinarily walked up to the degree of light I possessed. To relate my varied and peculiar experiences after resigning my pastorate at Townsendville, would transcend the limits of an ordinary letter, and perhaps would be without interest to those for whom I write. Suffice it to say, that after about two years of such experiences, there fell into my hands, providentially as it seems to me, a publication which was the means of a decided change in my understanding of much of God's Word; a change, however, which led me to much more exalted views of the character of God, and served to harmonize many passages in his Word, which before appeared either unmeaning or contradictory.
Though disposed to look with much suspicion on all that cast a doubt on orthodox teachings, I nevertheless found them so fatally assailed by God's own Word, that my prejudices one by one yielded, and the foundation, having given way, the superstructure crumbled and lay in a mass of ruins at my feet. You are now ready to ask, which of these doctrines appear to me to be out of harmony with the teaching of the Word. The present opportunity will allow me to speak of but few of these, and I will select such as I trust will appear plain to you. Orthodoxy teaches that the present life irrevocably determines the future condition of every human being. Though it is nowhere stated in Scripture that there is not for any a probation after this life, it is [R447 : page 6] preached and enforced much more vigorously than many things which the Bible does affirm.
If it be true, as preached, that there will be no probation after this life, then surely much the larger part of the human family never have a probation. No person can be said to have a probation until made acquainted with that for which he is to be held accountable. Besides, if there be no future probation, many passages of the sacred Word, are to me unmeaning; nay, more, are positively contradictory. Please notice Luke 2:10: "Behold I bring you good tidings of GREAT JOY, which shall be to ALL PEOPLE."
We are all aware that a large majority of the PEOPLE who have lived and died, even since these words were uttered, never heard of the event here referred to. In what sense, therefore, has it been GREAT JOY to them? What possible advantage can they have derived from it?
Again, in John 1:9, it is stated of Jesus, "That was the true light which lighteth EVERY MAN that cometh into the world." How, permit me to ask, has he lighted those millions of the race who never heard of him? How can this be true, unless there is to be a trial for them in the future in which this light shall be received? Again, in 1 Tim. 2:6, it is stated that Christ Jesus gave himself a ransom for ALL, to be testified in DUE TIME. Now, we all know, that it has not yet been testified to ALL.
But, if this Scripture be true, it will be; so we can reach no other conclusion than that the DUE TIME – God's DUE TIME – for much the larger part of the [R447 : page 7] human family to receive this testimony will be FUTURE.
But, you may ask, why is it not taught in the Scripture, if there is to be an opportunity for those who have never heard of him of whom it is declared, "There is no other name given under heaven, among men whereby we must be saved?" To this I answer, it is so taught, and not in a single text merely, but in many Scriptures. Before referring you to such teachings, however, permit me the remark, that the doctrine of a future probation for the world is not more strange to nominal Christianity to-day than was that of a salvation for the Gentiles to the Jewish Church at Christ's first coming. In illustrating my position, I will call attention to a single instance from Scripture; not because it does not contain others, but because the limits prescribed me will not permit their notice. This one instance, however, will be sufficient, I trust, to answer every reasonable objection.
We will select what is usually regarded as the most marked illustration of Divine wrath, viz.: the Sodomites. Now, if we can show from the plain statements of God's Word that these people are to come back to life, in order that they may have an opportunity of having it testified to them that Jesus Christ gave himself a ransom for all, of believing this testimony if they will, and of receiving the benefits of belief, viz.: justification: if we make this plain, then we think the case of the others will appear, at least, very hopeful. But, first, let us learn from the Great Teacher, who "knew what was in man," what he thought of these Sodomites.
In his preaching he compared them with the Jews, and particularly with the people of favored Capernaum (Matt. 11:23,24.) Jesus here says, "If the mighty works which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I say unto you that it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment than for you."
Thus we see that it was for want of light that these people were destroyed. We see also that Jesus teaches a time of retribution – future – which shall be tolerable for ALL, even for the people of CAPERNAUM, who rejected Jesus and his miracles; and yet MORE TOLERABLE for the SODOMITES that perished in ignorance. Are we not all ready to say, this is surely, as we have a right to suppose God would deal, with those to whom in their lifetime he had never given light and knowledge?
Now, turn if you please to the prophet Ezekiel, 16th chapter, and see that God is teaching the Jews of their final restoration to the "land of promise," as he had long before promised to Abraham.
Please bear in mind that the prophet is writing about 1,000 years after the destruction of this people, and that Jesus says (Luke 17:29), "It rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them ALL." Notice now, that in the 46th verse the prophet refers both to the people of Samaria and to those of Sodom, and in the 53d and 55th verses plainly states that these people who were ALL destroyed SHALL RETURN to their FORMER ESTATE. In the 60th and 61st verses it is again stated that God will establish with Israel an everlasting covenant, and that he will give to her Samaria and Sodom for daughters (that she may instruct them and bring them into harmony with God's plans). Thus we see that the promised blessing to Israel is not alone for herself, but that she may be God's agency in extending light and knowledge to "ALL PEOPLE."
How well this comports with Peter's words (Acts 3:21), in which he declares the "times of restitution of all things, God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began." A careful study of these holy prophets can scarcely fail to discover this glorious doctrine of a restitution of all things interwoven in all their writings. We are able in this light to comprehend John's definition of God's character – (1 Jno. 4:8) – "God is love." Is it not notably the case that the fear of future torment is the principal incentive held out to induce men to come to God? John says, however, that – "He that loveth not knoweth not God."
Another teaching of the nominal Church, which I believe to be at variance with the teaching of the Word is, that all believers are to be of the body or Bride of Christ. The Bible teaches that the result of belief is justification to that condition which Adam forfeited by his disobedience. He forfeited human perfection; moral – mental – physical. Belief in the atonement is the one condition to its final recovery. The conditions to the high calling of God in Christ Jesus (Phil. 3:14); the holy calling (2 Tim. 1:9); the heavenly calling (Heb. 3:1), are far different. These require not only justification, but that their justified human nature shall be presented to God a living sacrifice – conditions which never were required until the narrow way to life was opened up by Jesus Christ (Heb. 10:20; Matt. 7:14). Those who follow Jesus' footsteps in this narrow way are promised immortality "For as the Father hath life in himself, so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself" (Jno. 5:26); and we (his body) shall be like him (1 Jno. 3:2), spiritual beings, no longer human, but partakers of the Divine nature.
By rejecting the Bible doctrine of a future probation – after the dead shall have heard the voice of the Son of God and come forth, as illustrated in the case of Lazarus, the widow's son and others – by rejecting this and other Bible teachings, the nominal Church has been thrown into confusion and led into many errors.
That this confusion and these errors have largely contributed toward bringing about a rapid increase of infidelity, both within and without her own pale, I firmly believe. What is the spiritual condition of the Church to-day? Where are the wonderful revivals of former years? Alas, they exist only in name, or are the result of the efforts of a few professional revivalists. The barriers that formerly separated between the Church and the world are mostly swept away, and the man of fair worldly prospects, with whom she refuses to share all her privileges, must fall below the world's standard of morality.
These, dear brethren, are some of the causes which led me to sever a connection, which I once so highly prized, and to accept doctrines which, though they may bring reproach and obloquy, I believe to rest on the foundation of the Prophets and Apostles, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone.
Commending you to God, who is able to make all grace abound toward you, and trusting that this letter may lead you to a more careful study of His Word, which only is able to make you wise unto salvation, and to trust less in human creeds and traditions, I remain,
Your servant, for Christ's sake.
An exchange by this name comes to our table. Its hope for the world is very much confused. It falls into the error of supposing that a perfected human nature would be a "Divine nature," and evidently does not see that the "Divine nature" is higher than the "nature of angels," though both are spiritual. It seems blinded by its theories to all differences of nature among spiritual beings.
From this false premise it gets into a terrible confusion relative to man – his past and future condition. It fears to say, as the Scriptures teach, that Adam was perfect, lacking experience, because this would prove that a perfect man could never become more than a perfect man – could not increase in perfection by becoming a spiritual being, any more than would the perfecting of a dog cause him to become a man. Such conclusions it cannot reach, simple and logical though they be, because it has a theory that a perfect human nature is a [R448 : page 7] spiritual nature, which is a divine nature – the absurdity of which needs scarcely to be mentioned. If a human nature is a spiritual nature, why does Scripture mention them as distinct and separate?
Its conglomerate theory seems to be, as nearly as we can arrive at it by its illogical deductions – that God made men bad, – evil, – imperfect, – about as all are now; and that he fettered man with this evil nature, in order that he might develop strength by breaking his own chains, freeing himself. And this is really its hope for the world – that each individual (the devil not excepted) will eventually succeed in breaking the chains in which God had fettered him, and that finally all will unite around the throne in heaven as partakers of the perfect (human – spiritual – divine – which?) nature.
In this theory there is no need of a Saviour to redeem or ransom men. No, each must fight his own way through, – or, as this paper expresses it, each must destroy the enmity for himself. According to this unscriptural theory, Jesus was a benefit to men only by setting a good example as a pattern. But, tell us, Why would not the good example of Abel, or Enoch, or Isaiah, or Jeremiah have been equally forcible? These were noble, self-denying heroes for truth, and suffered even to being stoned and sawn asunder. Their examples of how to live and how to die, for truth and righteousness, were good.
But we need not dwell on the inconsistencies of such a theory; it must be apparent to all familiar with Scripture, that such a theory gives the lie to the teachings of the Apostles relative to the introduction of the present condition of sin, imperfection and death. They teach that "by one man's disobedience many (all) were made sinners," and that death and misery is the result, and not that it is the result of God's having imperfectly done his work in creating man. In harmony with this, too, is the Apostle's statement, that Jesus by his death destroyed the enmity (curse) for all who had been cursed in the first man's disobedience. He was "made a curse (he suffered as an accursed one) for us" (Gal. 3:13. See Rom. 5:17-19).
Our object in calling attention to this contemporary is, that we wish to awaken and put on their guard, any of its readers whom we may reach, against its teachings on the fundamental doctrines of our Christian religion, as pointed out in our last issue under headings – "Your building," and "On what are you building?"
This paper denies and ignores the very basis of true hope for the Church or the world – viz.: The Ransom – our being "bought with a price." It claims that the Adamic race needed no ransom. This, as we have heretofore shown, is the impending avalanche of unbelief, denying that the Lord bought them (2 Pet. 2:1). This is the rock which Christendom is even now striking against and being broken in pieces. (Matt. 21:44)
If this contemporary plainly stated itself as numbers of others do, we should have no special need to single it out among others for criticism. But it does not. It covertly attempts to steal the hearts of God's children and engraft this "damnable heresy" (2 Pet. 2:1) upon their minds, by quoting freely enough of the passages which contain the words "bought with a price," "redeemed," "ransom," etc., disclaiming, without attempting to disprove their meaning, or to deny their genuineness.
It insinuates and argues in such a way as to rob these words of their correct import in the mind of those who possess no English dictionary, or are too careless to use it; or who presume, that the English words may have a different significance from the Greek ones which the Apostles used, but which they do not understand.
We have heretofore shown that the Greek words rendered "bought," "ransom," "redeem," etc., in referring to the work of Jesus for men, are no less pointed, but, if possible, more so than their English equivalents. So far, then, from being an exponent of the world's hope, or the church's either, our contemporary is being used by the adversary in a covert, and therefore all the more dangerous way, to undermine the only hope held out for the world in Scripture – the ransom.
To put this matter fairly before its readers, (to most of whom we send a copy of this issue) we shall propose to it the same questions which in our last we propounded to the Day Star, and which it has not answered – probably because it did not wish so plainly to show its real belief. We are well aware that neither of these contemporaries will relish these questions.
The questions are as follows: –
(1) Why did Jesus die?
(2) How does it affect our sins?
(3) How did he put away sin by the sacrifice of himself?
(4) In what way did he give "himself a ransom (Greek, antilutron – an equivalent price) for all?"
(5) In what way was he a "propitiation (satisfaction) for our sins?"
(6) In what sense were we "bought with a price?"
Now, fair warning; if our contemporaries do not answer these queries fully and squarely, it can only be construed as moral cowardice, and certainly will substantiate our claim that they are dealing underhandedly with their readers, and "handling the word of God deceitfully." (2 Cor. 4:2) The questions at issue are not trivial – not such as brethren might honestly differ on; for they are the very foundation of Christianity, without which the whole doctrinal structure reared by the Apostles falls.
But let it be remembered, that we have nothing but kindly personal feelings toward the Editors of these two papers; with both of whom we are on intimate and friendly terms. It is error and falsity which we oppose, not men. This is true of Mr. Ingersoll also. Personally, we esteem him a polished gentleman, while we cannot but gainsay his infidel teachings. We take the side of inspired record as against every phase of infidelity; but we cannot but admire most, those opponents who honestly differ, and honestly state their differences, instead of using a Scriptural form of words and denying the power and meaning thereof.
The claim is, that Heb. 1:10 is a misquotation of Psa. 102:23-27. Heb. 1:10-12 reads, "Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the works of thy hands. They shall perish, but thou remainest; and they all shall wax old as doth a garment, and as a vesture shalt thou fold them up, and they shall be changed: but thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail." Paul quotes these words from the Psalms, with others, to prove that Jesus was not only superior to other men, but higher than angels also.
Our contemporary has recently been employed in attempting to prove that Jesus was no more than any other man, and, as the Jews had said, the son of Joseph. Of course, if our contemporary is right, Matthew and Luke and Paul and all the Apostles were wrong. If Joseph was his father, he of course had no pre-human existence, and Jesus' reference to having had glory with the Father before the world was, was so much untruth and deception. Therefore, it well suits our contemporary's purposes to try to prove that Paul was a blunderer, no more inspired and not nearly as smart as our contemporary, for it is sure it has found one of Paul's "mistakes" in quoting. It generously says that Paul got most of the quotations correct, but thinks he needed its superior wisdom to settle the above quotation properly.
This is an important point. If Paul made "mistakes," let us know of them, [R448 : page 8] for, of all the Apostles, he expresses most pointedly all our hopes concerning the future glory and reign with Christ. But if we find Paul in error, let us set it down that he was either a deceiver or a deceived man himself when he tells us that he spoke by God's authority. In either case all his teachings should be cast aside as unworthy of our study or faith. If his statements are untrue on one point, it must be that he is uninspired; and, if so, he is unworthy of being quoted as authority on any subject. But if, on the other hand, we find Paul right and our contemporary wrong, then let our contemporary give up its claim of superior ability and discernment over Paul, and let it admit that it is not inspired, as he was, to express the truth. And, in that event, let it also admit that Jesus had a pre-human existence, at which time he was Jehovah's honored agent by whom he "laid the foundations of the earth."
The argument is that Psalm 102:19-27 refers to Jehovah as the one who laid the foundations of the earth, etc., and does not refer to Jesus at all. Let us look and we will see that it does apply to Jesus, and that the Apostle was correct in his application of the statement. We quote Psalm 102:19-27, punctuating to give proper sense.*
"For he hath looked down from the height of his sanctuary; from heaven did Jehovah behold the earth. To hear the groaning of the prisoner, to loose those that are appointed to death: To declare the name of Jehovah in Zion and his praise in Jerusalem, when the people are gathered together and the kingdoms to serve Jehovah. [Now Jesus is represented as speaking at the time of crucifixion.] He weakened my strength in the way, He shortened my days. I said, O my God, take me not away in the midst of my days. [Hear Jehovah's answer to that heart prayer.] Thy years are throughout all generations. Of old thou hast laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of thy hands; they shall perish, but thou shalt endure; yea, all of them shall wax old like a garment: As a vesture shalt thou change them, and they shall be changed; but thou art the same, and thy years shall have no end."
The provision of the gospel, that is, the catalogue of blessings enumerated in the "good news" is so extensive, that the partakers of them, if not somewhat cautious, are likely to overlook some of the best things, and so deprive themselves of some advantages which they might otherwise enjoy.
The position of those "of this way," those who, by "searching the Scriptures daily," have found that "these things are so," is so changed from what it was not very long ago, that they have not always, perhaps, comprehended the situation, and so have not perfectly adapted themselves to circumstances.
The calls upon us for pecuniary aid, when attached to societies having a salaried ministry and costly services, were so extensive, and sometimes so burdensome (Matt. 23:4), that when the burden was removed, there was a tendency to run to the other extreme, and carry no burden at all, whereas we should not forget that we are still to "bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ."
The fact that our public services are conducted, and our assemblies convened and dismissed without any collections to defray expenses, may have caused some to conclude, without much thought upon the subject, that there are no expenses, but a little thought will at once dispel such a conclusion and show that some are bearing so much pecuniary burden, for the sake of others, that their financial sinews are shrinking from over-work and exhaustion, and thus their usefulness is impaired; and not only so, but those who have not been conscious of the surroundings and have not fully taken in the situation, have been losers from lack of exercise in that direction.
It has been our lot to be so situated during a good portion of the last three years, as to become somewhat acquainted with the working of some parts of "this body," and so have come to the conclusion that very likely many of the individuals who make up the members of this body would, if their attention were called to it, cheerfully contribute that which would be for the growth and perfection of the whole, which is "knit together in love" (Col. 2:2,19). When we consider the glory and extent of the blessings which the great Head of the Church has wrought out for the world, and then remember that we are now walking by faith and not by sight, it is not hard to fully concur with the statement made by the Spirit through Paul, that it is more blessed to give than to receive. (Acts 20:35). It is a blessed truth that the entire employment of the true Church, "which is his body," may be summarized in the word giving.
When the glorious import of the Good News comes to be understood and fully comprehended, and we accept of the conditions of the "high calling," and receive the "adoption of sons," we then begin our everlasting, blessed and eternal employment of giving. Having given ourselves freely and fully, we do not find it hard to give everything else that we have, following the example of him who gave himself for us, and of his Father who gave the Son, and will "with him also freely give us all things." In fact it is our glory to give, and we shall never be impoverished while the Almighty God is pouring into the vessel from which we are taking out. The princely endowment of his body, the Church, is such, that its grandeur and glory are manifested chiefly, if not wholly, through its munificence. Let us, then, consider a few thoughts bearing upon this subject which are important at this time.
We notice from the statement made in the last WATCH TOWER, that the expenditures of the last year have overrun the receipts well toward one-half, which, it is fair to suppose, would not have been the case if the brethren generally had been fully aware of the needs of the "Tract Fund." We were much surprised at the statement furnished; for, knowing some things in connection with the publishing department, we had supposed the expenditures must be considerably more, and also that the receipts would have been proportionate.
As it has been brought to our notice thus in the Jan. number, it is right to expect that the deficiency will not long exist; but lest we might, in the multiplicity of our cares and other thoughts, forget it, it will be well for us to write upon our memory some scriptural reasons for giving, together with a few thoughts naturally growing out of them. "Freely ye have received, freely give." (Matt. 10:8). This was said to those who were sent out to "the lost sheep of the house of Israel," and referred to the gift of healing, etc., which had been imparted freely to them, and which they were to freely use for the good of their fellowmen; but, on the other hand, they were told to make no provision for their own physical necessities; (9th and 10th verses) showing, we think, that they were expected to be so thoroughly engaged in that work, together with proclaiming "the kingdom of heaven is at hand," that they would not have time to "labor for the meat that perishes," and would be provided with what their physical needs required by those to whom they ministered. This illustrates the present condition of things; we are again in the harvest time; theirs was the harvest of the Jewish age, ours the harvest of the gospel age.
Some of our brethren are giving their whole time and available means to the work, some traveling and preaching the good news, some distributing tracts and papers, and some superintending the publication of papers and tracts, but all for the same purpose, "for the edifying of the body of Christ," which is an indispensable work, especially at this time. Surely we will not let it lack efficiency for want of pecuniary aid. We have a precedent for helping our preaching brethren on their way, in the example of Paul, who expected to be brought on his way by the brethren at Rome. (Rom. 15:24). Now, we would like to make a suggestion which was suggested to us while reading Luke 11:7-9, and Luke 10:7; it is the propriety of our traveling (teaching and lecturing) brethren laying aside all reserve and asking our brethren where they are ministering (serving) for such things as they need, and for those others needing where they minister in other places. We think the brethren served would be pleased to have them do so, and we think their needs would be promptly supplied; for it would be understood that it is not asking alms – "for the laborer is worthy of his hire" – and if the laborer is not hired, if the labor is desired and is accepted, it is equivalent to hire.
Some, perhaps, might be found who would think that because Paul labored sometimes with "his own hands" to supply his needs and those who were with him, our preaching brethren might do the same. No doubt that every one of these teachers or preachers would be quite as willing to labor with hands as head, if the will of the Lord was so, but the time, of course, would have to be taken from that which otherwise would be filled with gospel work; so, to the brethren visited, whether by person or papers and books, it would prove an actual loss.
We think Paul refers to this fact (of "laboring with his own hands") as a gentle reminder that he had found it necessary to do so, else his needs would have been unprovided for, thus showing their duty.
Whether they felt any compunction or not for laying this necessity upon him, and realized the loss which they had thus sustained, they doubtless felt no less sad on account of the mention of it in connection with the thought that they should "see his face no more," and it might have had something to do with their weeping as they "fell upon his neck and kissed him." (Acts 20:34,37).
But how can the requirements of the laborers and the expenses of publications be met? For "not many mighty" (nor rich), "not many noble are called," and "God hath chosen the poor of this world, rich in faith." How can better directions be given in answer to the last question than are given in the 16th chap. of 1 Cor., 2d verse? "Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God has prospered him, that there be no gatherings (collections) when I come."
In connection with the expenses spoken of, there are the Lord's poor, [R450 : page 8] who are poorer than we, and who, in connection with the ministry of the word, should not be forgotten. How appropriate this direction of Paul's to be systematic in the work of giving, and systematic in the manner of providing the means to give, and systematic as to the time of "laying by the funds for that purpose."
There are very few so poor as to be unable to contribute something which shall help to spread the good news of God's plan to save the world; the glad tidings that the works of the devil are to be destroyed. If we cannot give much, let us not deliberately conclude that we cannot give anything, but let us be encouraged with the thought of the value which the Master set upon "two mites," if we cannot give more. (Luke 21:2,3,4).
There is a good lesson and much truth conveyed in the story of the wealthy old Scotchman, who, when the contribution box was passed, put in what he supposed to be a penny, but which proved to be a gold piece of some considerable value; when he had made the discovery, but too late to correct it, and wished credit for the amount actually put in, the shrewd deacon told him they could give him credit for no more than the Lord did, which was only for that which he intended to put in.
Some might be inclined to think that was unfair of the Lord and the deacon, but the Lord balances the account by reversing the order, and giving credit for more than is put in where the desire exceeds the ability.
The writer's desire is that our minds (his own as well) may be refreshed upon this subject, and "stirred up by way of remembrance." "If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them." If, therefore, ye have been unfaithful in the unrighteous mammon, Who will commit to your trust the true riches? (Luke 16:11). How can we expect to be entrusted with heavenly things while we set a higher value on earthly things? To be entrusted with treasures that wax not old while we cling with tenacity to treasures that decay? We who have been so sumptuously fed, both by visitation of the teaching brethren and through the medium of the publications, would sadly feel it if those sources of supply were cut off and withdrawn from lack of funds to be carried forward.
But we will not anticipate any such thing, feeling sure that the bare mention of the matter will quicken us, and cause us to obey an injunction which, perhaps through carelessness, had been neglected, but which is as imperative as other divine precepts. We are persuaded that these suggestions will be carefully considered and acted upon, and that all will cheerfully do what they can as an evidence of their love of the truth, for "the Lord loveth a cheerful giver" (2 Cor. 9:7). "He that giveth, let him do it with simplicity (Rom. 12:8). Some additional thoughts upon this subject may be had by reading the last short article in "Food for Thinking Christians." That the Lord will help us all to see the privilege and blessedness of giving is the prayer of the writer.
[We are not beggars – none of God's children should be; and we have studiously avoided the "dunning," so common among others. Yet, we have felt that some of the saints were in danger of losing the blessing above mentioned. When the above article from Bro. S. came to hand (unexpectedly to us), we concluded it to be expedient for you, as well as providential, and hence publish it. But remember that Jehovah is not impoverished, and his cause shall not suffer from lack of funds, even though he so arrange as to make our assistance seem needful. "He will carry it through," and the blessing will be to those who are faithful stewards – faithful in little or faithful in much. – ED.]
The place of meeting has been changed, and is no longer at "Curry Institute Hall," but has removed to the "Grand Army Hall," No. 101 Federal St., Allegheny City, just across the river. Readers and friends will be warmly welcomed at our new and more comfortable hall. Preaching every Lord's day afternoon at 3 o'clock, and Bible reading at 7:30 P.M. of the same day.
SAMPLE COPIES of the Tower, will be sent to those who request them. Order all you can use judiciously. Any new reader who desires to have the Tower on trial three months FREE, can have it on application.