The Editor recognizes a responsibility to the Master, relative to what shall appear in these columns, which he cannot and does not cast aside; yet he should not be understood as endorsing every expression of correspondents, or of articles selected from other periodicals.
Foreign Postage being higher, our terms to foreign subscribers will be 65 cents a year. Please send us no foreign money or postage stamps, as we can make no use of them. Remittances may be made by Foreign Postal Money Orders.
This paper will be sent free to any of the Lord's poor who will send a card yearly requesting it. Freely we have received and freely we would give the truth. "Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters; and he that hath no money, come ye, buy and eat – yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price." And you that have it – "Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labor for that which satisfieth not? Hearken diligently – and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness." – ISAIAH 55:1,2.
The TOWER comes to you as unpretentiously as the ministers of the early church. We present no list of titled and world-renowned contributors – none whose fame would command your attention to the subjects we present. But we come to you with the Bible as God's Word, and seek to enlist your attention to its statements and your obedience to its requirements and thus to lead the hearts and minds of some of God's children away from the jarring confusion of precept and doctrine, prevalent among the various divisions (sects) of Christians, into the harmony, beauty, simplicity, and confidence, which come from the study of God's Word and its acceptance as a harmonious whole and a self-interpreter.
It would be but natural that you should wonder how these things could be true, yet not recognized long ago by earnest Christians; and why so many of those in the churches manifest a bitter opposition to things so full of harmony with God's Word, and so fully vindicating the justice, wisdom and love of our heavenly Father.
In answer to your supposed queries, we suggest that if a broad view of God's dealings be taken, it shows that he has a plan with reference to men. While he was pleased in past times to reveal an outline of that plan, it was nothing more; no details were given. The details of the plan began to be recognized since Pentecost. The light of revelation shines with special brightness on the ends of the ages. Upon the ending of the Jewish age which was the beginning of the Gospel Age, new and special light shone out relative to the blessed privileges about to be enjoyed in the Gospel Age. Remember, too, that it came from the Scriptures, written long before, but which were never before appreciated or understood. Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Peter and Paul, all quoted the prophecies and applied them to the events taking place and due to take place, in their day – the opening of the Gospel Age. The prophecies had been there for centuries, but the revelation or understanding of them, was reserved for those in the ends of the ages. (See 1 Cor. 10:11.) So now in the closing of the Gospel Age and dawning of the grand Millennial Age, we should expect the light to shine out brightly relative to God's plans for this incoming age. And so it does. Search and see. Gem after gem of precious truth now glows with unparalleled lustre to the diligent searcher, not because of his superior ability to find it, but because God's due time has come for such to understand it. Soon the blessed bow of promise shall span the whole heavens, and weeping earth shall dry her tears and shout for joy.
It is no more surprising that these truths relative to God's plan for the blessing of all mankind should have been but dimly seen heretofore, than that the call of the Gentiles to be heirs of the Abrahamic promise, (Acts 11:18; Eph. 3:5,7; Gal. 3:29,) should have been but dimly seen until the Gospel Age began to dawn. We can understand prophetic scriptural statements only as they become due. Thus – "Light, (truth, was long ago) sown for the righteous." When due, the light springs up and gradually unfolds. Thus our Father has made abundant provision for the household of faith and the true servants shall bring forth things both new and old, that the household may have meat in due season. The cause of the opposition on the part of many to the truth now due, is the failure to recognize this progressive and unfolding character of God's revelation of his plans. Most Christians take for granted that good men of the past who walked in the light then due, had all the truth worth knowing. Knox, Calvin, Luther, Wesley and others were, we believe, followers in our Lord's footsteps of self-sacrifice and devotedness to God; but more truth is due in our day than in theirs. According to God's plan, the light should shine more and more until the perfect day. Therefore many Christians of to-day make a great mistake, and sit in comparative darkness, when they might be walking in glorious light, because they search the theology of these men instead of the Word of God.
O, that all would turn away from musty church creeds of times past and give more earnest heed to the ever living, ever fresh, ever unfolding, ever new Word of God. Again, others take the Bible and search it only for the purpose of seeing how nearly they can make it to fit either their mental or written creed. If your habit has been such, we hope you will at once resolve to lay aside all human teachings as authoritative, and hereafter judge all you hear or read by the statements of Scripture. If you believe anything, make sure that you have Scriptural statements warranting it. Prove all things, hold fast that which is good, and cast away all else.
The action of the nominal church today relative to the light now shining clearly resembles that of the Jewish church relative to light in the end of their age. They reject every new ray of light because it would conflict with some cherished theory or statement of their creed. They are so enwrapped with their own plans and arrangements for converting the world, that they are unwilling to hear that God has a better, grander, and infinitely more comprehensive way of dealing with evil, and blessing and teaching the world. Their ears are so stopped by the din and confusion of their own religious efforts that they cannot discern the plan of Jehovah.
Satan is doubtless interested in the promotion of the confusion of sects, and stimulates and encourages that zeal which is not according to knowledge, and thus hinders their hearing Jehovah's voice, saying, "Be still and know that I am God, (the mighty one); I will be exalted among the heathen; I will be exalted in the earth." (Ps. 46:10.) The power to do this is with our Father, and not with us. When he gives the saints with Christ their Lord, the heathen for an inheritance – when he gives the kingdom under the whole heavens to the people of the saints, THEN, and not by poor human effort, will God's kingdom come and his will be done on earth as it is in heaven. (Dan. 2:35,44 and 7:18,27.)
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 most amicable, 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, and 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 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 so-called orthodox teachings, I nevertheless found them so fatally assailed by God's own Word, that my prejudices, one by one, yielded, and orthodoxy 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, that my prejudices, one by one, yielded, and orthodoxy 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 [R659 : page 1] in Scripture that there is not for any a probation after this life, it is 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 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 [R659 : page 2] 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 to 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 unto 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.
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 all this comports with Peter's words (Acts 3:21), in which he declares the "times of restitution of all things which God hath spoken by the mouth of all of 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 John 4:8) – "God is love." Is it not notably the case that the fear of future torment is now 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 Christ as the Redeemer, is the condition on which it may be recovered. 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 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.
"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; [R660 : page 2] 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. 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, though you are sinful, a violator of my just laws, 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 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.
But, some one may raise the question as to what is the cause or basis of justification. One claims that is by Jehovah's grace, and not because our ransom has been paid, and quotes 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 quotes 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 Samson 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 value. But down under all is the ransom – Jesus' death – the basis of all justifying faith and 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 in Rom. 3:24,25. "Justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Jesus Christ, 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 except Jesus died because of their share in the sin, because they were descendants of the condemned Adam, whose life was forfeited by sin. 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).
Thus 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. 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 the 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, and thus they are justified to live again.
It is blessed to realize, too, that the spotless one who bought us by the sacrifice of 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 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 sent 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, and also the important subject of Sanctification, which should follow it, but cannot precede it.
"THE sentiment that it matters not what a man believes, so that he is sincere, is as unscriptural as it is absurd. Sincerity in belief has no more effect in warding off evil in the spiritual, than in the natural kingdom. If the teachings and persuasions of a reputed chemist should prevail on you to believe that arsenic is harmless, would it therefore be harmless? Could you mix it with your bread, and you and your children eat it without injury to health life? Oh, no! Neither will the sincerity of your belief save you from the consequence of error in religious faith. Right belief – truth, God's truth, my brethren, is the only foundation on which you can safely rest your hope.
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 at peace, and I've nothing at stake;
Satan can neither harass me 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.
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.
Christians are in the habit of looking at "the law" as a great enemy. Why? Because it does not countenance the least sin. It says, "walk before me and be thou perfect." Is this not right – could a perfect God recognize or make a law in any way imperfect? Surely not. The reason men count the law their enemy is that all have sinned, and ever since the disobedience of Adam they have been in the condition known as "sinful flesh." Prior to sin's entrance, the law was Adam's friend, and justified him; but the condition of death obtained after sin had entered, and man in this fallen condition of death finds it utterly impossible to so live and act in harmony with his Maker, that God's perfect law would not condemn him. And since all are sinners, of course none but a defective law could recognize such persons as perfect. The law of God has condemned all, and every one who has reasoning faculties seems to recognize that he is not perfect.
God has always had a law; even before the giving of it at Mount Sinai. Since God always has been perfect, his laws always have been perfect, and condemned and opposed even the slightest sin. Abel, Noah, Abraham, and all the patriarchs recognized the fact that they were sinners when they made altars and sacrificed thereon, before attempting to hold communion. Thus they acknowledged themselves sinners and unable of themselves to approach God. How different from the way Adam and God walked and talked in the garden! No sacrifices or offerings for sin were there needed, for Adam was justified, or recognized as right by God's law. Thus we see that what the patriarchs knew of God's law condemned them.
The giving of the law from Sinai did not take away man's sin. No, it only showed it the more fully. Did the keeping of it ever justify any of them? No; "By the deeds of the law shall no flesh be justified in his (God's) sight." Was the fault in the law, or in the people? Paul said, "The law is holy," and God's commands "holy and just and good." (Rom. 7:12.) The imperfection was with mankind. Since the law did not justify them, it must have condemned them, even as it had condemned the patriarchs. Not any more really (for there is only one penalty – death) but more loudly. They were no greater sinners than those of the Patriarchal Age who had not had the full law given them, but they were shown their condition as sinners more clearly. Why? That they might see their own fallen and imperfect condition, and learn the exceeding sinfulness of SIN, (Rom. 7:13,) and by this knowledge be prepared for the Redeemer.
We have seen that God always has had a perfect law which condemned every sin in every being, and how it was shown in different degrees to the patriarchs and Israel, yet that the effect was the same – condemnation – only more fully realized by those who saw the law most clearly. Now, how about the great heathen world? Surely a righteous law could not say: The heathen are RIGHTEOUS; unless they live in harmony with God. And if you thought they were living in harmony with God you would not send missionaries to them. No, they too, are condemned by God's law. And as Paul says: These that have not the law (the full written law as given to Israel) "show the work of the law written in their hearts," a spark of that principle of justice and knowledge of right and wrong which must have been an important part of the natural organization of the first perfect man, Adam; a spark merely, not quite extinguished by the degrading effects of sin.
What did this spark of conscience do for them? It sometimes justified, and sometimes condemned. But if their spark of conscience condemned them only ONCE during their lifetime, it showed that they were imperfect – sinners – hence subject to the sin penalty, death.
Now, "all unrighteousness is sin," and "sin is the transgression of the law," and "the wages of sin is death." So we see that the only voice of the law of God to any who hear it is: You cannot live. "All have sinned and come short of the glory of God:" Therefore must "every mouth be stopped and all the world become GUILTY before God." (Rom. 3:9,19.)
There lay the whole human family dead and dying through sin; the law hanging up before them, they admit, is grand, "just," and "holy." They were told that "The man that doeth these things shall live." (Rom. 10:5; Gal. 3:12.) But O, they could not do them. Some tried hard, as Paul describes. (Rom. 7:14-24.) When with their minds they resolved to "do those things and live," they found sin in their members hindering and preventing. When the striving ones found they could not deliver themselves from death, they exclaimed: "Wretched man that I am, who will deliver me from this body of death?" (Diaglott) or, from the sin and death which has gotten possession of me. When he so cries out, he has reached the place God wanted to bring him to, i.e., to realize that he can NEVER deliver himself from death and sin. But some one asks: If he dies does not the act of dying fill all the requirements of the law, and could he not, after thus dying, be raised up by God? No, you err in supposing that the act of dying is the penalty. Man has been dying ever since sin entered the world, but the penalty will not be entirely inflicted until all are dead. The penalty is, that sinners shall have life no longer; they forfeit their right to live.
But when will the law of God release the sinner from the bondage of death? Never; if he could not obey the law while partially dead, he certainly cannot when completely so. Ever since the "fall" from perfect manhood through sin, man has been in a dying condition, sometimes spoken of as already dead (See Matt. 8:22). And none but a perfect man could keep a perfect law. But, says one, did not God send his Son into the world to show us how we could work our way up to spiritual life – appearing among us on the lowest round of the ladder, did he not point out to us the way? he being thus "our forerunner?"
This view in many respects is held by a great many, mostly "Unitarians" and "Universalists," and like many other views has a mixture of truth in it; but as a whole it is far from being "the truth" on this subject. Jesus did indeed "lay aside the glory which he had with the Father, before the world;" he did appear to "set us an example that we should follow in his footsteps" and to be "our forerunner," but more, he is also our "Redeemer" from the curse of the Law. The curse of the law upon us as sinners is death. How did he redeem us from death? To redeem is to purchase back. He is therefore said to have "bought us with his own precious blood." Blood represents life – "The life of the flesh is in the blood" (Lev. 17:11), therefore shed blood represents death or sacrificed life. "He gave his life;" "He shed his blood;" "He tasted death;" all have the same meaning. But how could his life purchase or redeem or buy ours? He as a man, a perfect man, kept the perfect law; and was therefore uncondemned by it. Therefore the same law which was the sinners' enemy condemning us to death, was his friend and guaranteed life to him. But was he not born into the world under condemnation of death, as much as any other son of Adam? No he was a direct creation of God – "made in the likeness of sinful flesh," but "in him was no sin." If he had done sin or been born a sinner, his life would have been forfeited as was ours.
If born under condemnation as other human beings, he would have been as much a sinner as we, and as such would have been obliged to die for himself, and consequently would have nothing to give as a ransom for our life. But he was perfect, he kept the law, had a right to perfect human life forever; But "for the joy set before him," by the promise of the Father to raise him from the dead a spiritual body, he renounced the natural, human life, and gave it for our ransom.
But when he arose from death, was not that a taking back of the price? Yes, if he had taken back the same life which he had laid down; but he did not take back the human; he was quickened by the Spirit – "made a quickening Spirit," raised a "spiritual body." There is a natural, human body and there is a spiritual body.
Thus, "by his precious (valuable) blood" (life,) we were "redeemed from the curse of the law" – death. To what kind of life were we redeemed? The same which man had before death (the curse) came; the same kind that Jesus gave for us, i.e., human life. But we are promised spiritual life, and that we shall be made like unto Christ's glorious body? Yes; it is a part of God's offer to us (during the gospel age,) that we die earthly and fleshly – natural – life, we may be reckoned as "members of his body," and partake of the same kind of life as our Head. If we leave our Father's house (the human) we may become espoused to the Lord of glory as his Bride. In this arrangement we are reckoned as being justified to the perfect natural life first, else we could not give our lives. Being justified to life, Jesus says to us, you can either have this natural life, or, if you will renounce this natural, as I did, and become dead to the world, you shall have instead, the spiritual life and body. "If we be dead with Christ, we shall live with him." Rom. 6:4-8. "It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him; if we suffer we shall also reign with him." 2 Tim. 2:11. "Ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings." 1 Pet. 4:13. "Joint heirs with Christ, if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together." Rom. 8:17.
And it is because God thus waits until the elect number, the bride, the body, the Church, has "filled up the measure of the afflictions of Christ, which are behind," that the "restitution of all things," purchased for the world by the blood of Christ, is delayed and yet future. The Head suffered and died over eighteen hundred years ago; but all of the suffering and death of the body are not yet completed. Not noticing this, has caused wonder on the part of almost all, that the benefits and results of the ransom have not sooner come. (See Typical Sacrifices, in the Tabernacle Tract.)
But would it be right for God to reckon the one righteous life given, as a full payment for the lives of the millions of sinners who have died? Does not the price – one, for a billion or more – seem like a short payment?
This is a reasonable question, and we will allow Paul to give it a reasonable answer. He is a logical reasoner, as well as an inspired Apostle, and argues that, as God had seen proper to condemn all men to death on account of Adam's disobedience, so he had a right to reckon the second Adam a representative man, and justify to life all the race, in return for the sacrifice of this one perfect life. "For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous. "Therefore as by the offense of one, judgment came upon all men to condemnation," (condemned to suffer the penalty of sin, death,) "even so by the righteousness of one, the free gift came upon all men unto justification to life." Remember that none now enjoy life; our condition is a dying one. "Dying thou shalt die" was the penalty pronounced on Adam. Death reigns.
"For as in Adam (or by Adam's sin) all die," so "in Christ (or by Christ's obedience, etc.) shall all be made alive." As the first Adam's bride was a party to the sin, so we see the second Adam's bride is made a party with her Lord in the removing of the curse. O glorious plan, of our all-wise and loving Father, and the exceeding riches of his grace toward us in Jesus Christ.
But says one, I thought that Jesus had nullified, set aside and destroyed the law; and that therefore man could approach God. Oh no, that was a great mistake. Would it not be strange, indeed, if the Father made a law, which we have seen was "just" and "holy," and in fact the only one he could give because perfect and holy himself, would it seem proper even to think of Jesus as setting aside and destroying that "just" and "holy" law, or in any way making a league with sin or sinners? No, no. He came to do the Father's will, and the law is the record of that will. Jesus kept it himself, and taught the true meaning of it to be higher than the letter, and that to be "angry with a brother without cause," was to violate the command, "Thou shalt not kill." No, says Paul: "Christ magnified the law (made it larger and more minute), and made it honorable," showed, in fact, that that law could not be set aside or broken. He showed, too, by keeping it perfectly himself, that God's law was just, and not beyond a perfect man's ability.
But we read, "Christ is the end of the law." What can that mean? The trouble is you have not quoted the connections. The text reads: "For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth." (Rom. 10:4.) To whom is he this? To believers. How? Righteously, not by breaking it, but by righteously fulfilling its requirements, and we in him are just before the law. Because we in him are reckoned dead to the world and alive toward God through him – our new life, another similar text reads: "There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are IN Christ Jesus." Why are those in Christ not condemned? Because, since coming into him by faith they have received of his spirit, and with him can say, "I delight to do thy will, O my God; yea, thy law is within my heart." (Ps. 11:8.) They are then alive spiritually though yet living in the dead body of sinful flesh which they are opposed to, and which by the Holy Spirit given they are enabled to "crucify." These walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit, and to all so walking in [R661 : page 4] Christ, there is no condemnation from the law.
And in the glorious Millennial age, when all shall know God from least to greatest, when, "the knowledge of the Lord shall fill the whole earth;" – "the times of restitution" – there will be the same "holy and just" law, and under the "Royal Priesthood" after the order of Melchisedec (the order of an endless life), poor fallen humanity will be helped back again to that perfect condition from whence Adam fell; a condition in harmony with God's law, and therefore in harmony with God.
But will they receive no punishment for misdeeds of the present life? They will receive punishment, "stripes" in proportion as they had light and lived contrary to it. As our Master explained, "It shall be more tolerable for Sodom," in the day of judgment (in the age of trial) than for the Jews to whom he spoke, because the Sodomites had sinned against less light. (Matt. 11:24.) There will be many or few "stripes," in proportion to the amount of light they have had and the use made of it.
There will be rewards given to some during that age also; "for whosoever shall give to one of these little ones (of the 'little flock'), a cup of cold water only, in the name of a disciple, shall in no wise lose his reward." (Matt. 10:42).
"But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light." 1 Pet. 2:9.
"Unto him that loved us and washed us from our sins in his own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever." Rev. 1:5,6.
"And hast made us unto our God kings and priests; and we shall reign on the earth." Rev. 5:10.
"Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection; on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years." Rev. 20:6.
The above scriptures clearly teach that a part, at least, of the Church's work in the future, will be to officiate as the priests of God. As the work of the priest is one of intercession and of instruction in righteousness, they clearly prove that the glorious work of evangelization will go on after the resurrection has taken place. The fact that these offices of "king" and "priest" will exist, logically implies that there will be subjects to rule and learners to teach; otherwise the names would be meaningless and the titles an empty sound.
It is held by some that the reign of the saints will consist of a very brief "reign of terror," during which – with Jesus at their head – they will trample their enemies into the dust and utterly destroy them. We thank our dear Lord for a better hope. Our work will not be one of destruction, but of salvation. We shall rule as kings, even with a rod of iron; but the grand object will be to humble the nations, and so fit them for the reception of truth. "For, when thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness." Isa. 26:9.
Who that is imbued with the spirit of the Master; who that has but tasted that the Lord is gracious, could desire more agreeable employment than to show forth the praises of our Saviour King, to those sitting in darkness? to bind up the broken-hearted? to proclaim liberty to the captive? to give beauty for ashes and the oil of joy for mourning?
"To tell the old, old story
Of Jesus and his love?"
To fit us for such an exalted and responsible position we require a peculiar training, and we feel warranted in claiming that the trials, temptations and discipline of this present life are for that very purpose.
Many a struggling believer, trying hard to overcome, buffeted by the enemy, tried by friends, weighed down by hereditary weaknesses in self, discouraged and faint, has cried out, from the depths of a loving heart: "Why, O! why this suffering? why this severe chastisement?" Let us glance for a moment at the pathway trod by the Master – our forerunner – and we shall find the answer.
"So, also, Christ glorified not himself to be made a high priest; but he that said unto him, Thou art my son.... Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared: Though he were a son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered, and being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him." Heb. 5:5-9.
"For it became him, for whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. Wherefore, in all things it behooveth him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succor them that are tempted." Heb. 2:10,17-18.
"For we have not a high priest who cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need." Heb. 4:15,16.
The reason, then, that the Church is called on to "fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ" is, that all the body, in like manner to the Head, may be trained to perfect sympathy and to perfect obedience through suffering. In this present time, we in all our troubles come to our compassionate High Priest with boldness, realizing that he, having been partaker of flesh and blood, can truly feel for us and pity us; so in the age to come, the Church, the promised seed of Abraham, through whom all the families of the earth shall be blessed (compare Gen. 12:3; Gal. 3:14,16,29,) shall go forth a royal priesthood, according to the order of Melchisedec, fully prepared to sympathize with the nations, to lead them to the paths of righteousness, and to encourage them in the way of life.
Shall we shrink, then, from our cross? Shall we seek to put away the bitter cup that is sometimes pressed to our lips? Surely not. 'Tis a loving hand that presents it, 'tis a loving heart (infinitely loving) that sees the need of it. It is but the Master fitting us for his work; training us for the priesthood; teaching us to rule ourselves that we may know how to rule others; opening our eyes to the weakness of our own flesh, that we may have patience with those over whom we shall be given authority. (Luke 19:17,19.)
Courage, then, my Christian brother or sister, seeking with weary steps to run the narrow way. Heed not the rugged course; it is all hallowed and sanctified by the blessed feet of the Master. Count every thorn a flower; every sharp-rock a mile-stone, hurrying you onward to the goal. Let every advancing step be a "Nearer, my God, to thee:" every hillock in the road an "upward toward heaven." Keep your eye fixed on the prize. Soon – very soon – you may wear the crown.
"It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him; if we suffer, we shall also reign with him."
Love is that tender solicitude and affection with which anything commanding admiration and respect, is regarded. That which is not lovely never can be loved in the true sense of the word. A degenerated nature may desire and find a morbid satisfaction in that which is unlovely, but that is not love. Love wherever found is a gleam of the divine likeness, and is spontaneously awakened by the presence of that which is noble and pure and good. This wonderful principle binds in holiest and most delightful union and harmony all intelligent beings controlled by it. God is the most glorious exhibition of its nobility and grandeur. It is the law of his being and shall ultimately be the controlling law of all his universe.
But one inquires, if only that which commands admiration and respect can be truly loved, how could God love sinners and tell us to do the same? We reply that God never loved sinners as such; he loved the jewel he had brought into perfect being because it was truly lovely; and when, under temptation it lost its excellence and glory, his love for its perfection pitied it in its fall, while his justice condemned it; and that love devised the wondrous scheme for its recovery.
Let us here note the attitude of Jehovah toward those whom he so loved as to give his only begotten Son to redeem them. For six thousand years he has permitted their adversary to have dominion over them. Famine and pestilence have stalked abroad; hatred and strife, and war and bloodshed, have filled the earth with untold agony and woe, until the grave closed over generation after generation. Six thousand years, but no deliverance yet; God still stands off, and still the king of terrors reigns. When the long promised Deliverer comes, it is to rule with a rod of iron – to dash in pieces as a potter's vessel the kingdoms of earth, which from human standpoint seem necessary for protection against greater evils. In fear and dismay men look upon God as an enemy, and seek to hide from his presence; yet "God is love," and
"He knows, not they, how sweet accord
Shall grow at length from out this clash
Of earthly discords, which have jarred
On souls and sense: They hear the crash,
But do not know that on His ear,
Breaks harmony – full, deep and clear."
Now the love of God is vailed, but soon it shall be revealed in the glorious restoration to Edenic perfection and bliss. [R664 : page 4] Soon "the redeemed of the Lord (all mankind) shall return and come with singing unto Zion, (the Church in kingdom power,) and everlasting joy shall be upon their heads: they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away." Thus viewing God's dealings, we see that his wisdom often veils his love.
True love while it seeks to shield and protect, will justly judge and endeavor to eradicate a fault – expose it, let the light shine on it and show it up to those affected by it, that it may be removed, and grace and beauty take its place.
A very false notion of love obtains among the majority of Christian people, and under this false notion our adversary endeavors to shield some of the most dangerous and deadly errors that seek to sap the very foundation of the Christian's hope. Let this deadly thing which the adversary dares to present to God's children be touched by the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God, and he who wields it is said to be uncharitable, loveless. But does this make it so? By no means. Jesus was full of the love of God, but he spoke most emphatically against evil doers: – "Ye blind guides which strain at a gnat and swallow a camel;" "Woe unto you, for you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men; ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in." (Matt. 23:13-33.) And again he said to erring Peter, "Get thee behind me Satan, (adversary) thou art an offence unto me, for thou savorest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men." (Matt. 16:23.) But how differently the Lord's rebukes affected his loving disciples and the proud Pharisees.
Paul was a noble pattern of his Master's spirit in his zeal for the truth, and his care for fellow members of the church. His usual manner toward all, like that of Jesus, was kind, generous, and affectionate, but did Paul cover the truth, shield error, or fail to warn an erring brother or the flock of God against the encroachments of the enemy? If he had so done, as an unfaithful steward he would have lost his stewardship. Though Peter was a noble soldier of the cross and fellow servant in the Lord, Paul withstood him to the face when, by giving way to the old nature for a time, he was to be blamed. (Gal. 2:11.) Note in connection with this, the sympathy and love existing between these brethren; (2 Pet. 3:15,) evidently the rebuke was accepted in the spirit of meekness. And again we find Paul faithfully warning the church against "some" who had become the enemies of the cross of Christ. Phil. 3:18.
Does some one object that we must "judge not that we be not judged?" We reply that to exercise human judgment in condemning others would be wrong; but to apply the judgment of God as expressed in his Word is right. We are commanded to do so. And the various descriptions of evil deeds, false teachings, and seducing doctrines, are given that we may judge – "That the man of God may be thoroughly furnished," for reproof, for correction of error and instruction in righteousness. (2 Tim. 3:16-17.) It is therefore the duty of every child of God to judge what is right and what is wrong, what is true and what is false. That against which we are cautioned is judging by other standards than the Word of God – condemning on our own, or any other human authority. That Paul judged according to God's Word and taught the church to do the same is very clear. (See 1 Cor. 5:3; Gal. 2:11; 1 Thes. 5:21; 2 Tim. 4:2; 1 Cor. 6:2,3. Note also Paul's prayer that love might abound in judgment, Phil. 1:9,10.
No doubt Paul's faithfulness in seeking to build up and establish the church in purity of doctrine and life, was often misunderstood, and failed to be appreciated by them. This is very apparent from 1 Cor. chap 4. "But (he says) it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you, or of man's judgment. He that judgeth me is the Lord." Then speaking of his labor and suffering for them, he says: "I write not these things to shame you, but as my beloved sons I warn you." (Read the chapter throughout).
Jesus said: "By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if ye have love one toward another," and Paul says: "Let love be without dissimulation; abhor that which is evil, cleave to that which is good." When contending with an unseen, but wily and powerful foe, what mere hypocrisy is that profession of love which fails to warn of immediate or approaching danger.
The new creature in Christ is a jewel of infinite value, "and every one that loveth him that begat, loveth him also that is begotten of him." (1 John 5:1.) Dearly beloved, "Be kindly affectioned one to another, with brotherly love; in honor preferring one another;" "Reprove, rebuke, exhort (each other) with all long suffering and doctrine." Give and receive in the spirit of meekness, remembering that "Love vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, doth not behave itself unseemly (unbecomingly) seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil."
By this mutual love, and this care one for another, will all men be able to discover who are Jesus' disciples – "Let love be without dissimulation; abhor that which is evil, cleave to that which is good." So shall you "be blameless and harmless, the sons of God without rebuke in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world."
When we know that a doctrine rests on the Word of God, we can rest on it without fear. Many of God's children, though walking in the light, are inclined to lean too much on the arm of flesh; and if we mistake not God is going to shake them loose. Blessed will they be who are standing on the rock of his truth.
All do not have equal facilities for searching the Word, so we wish to help page 5 them. We would say, however, that there is but little excuse for the most of us, seeing that good reference Bibles are so cheap. A teacher's Bible and a full concordance, a prayerful heart and an honest mind, with time and patience, are all we need – God will give the rest.
Study carefully and prayerfully the following texts; use them as starting points with your reference Bibles; you will find plenty more. Keep a list of all you find; compare any theory of the atonement, no matter where it comes from, with every text on your list; if it agrees, believe it; if not, reject it. Let God's Word be the end of all controversy between you and every doctrine brought before you. Don't be afraid to investigate. "Light is sown for the righteous." "Prove all things, hold fast that which is good."
The Just died for the unjust. 1 Pet. 3:18; consider also the meaning of the sacrifices of 4,000 years.
"A little Scripture is better than a good deal of reasoning."
When God created man, he endowed him with qualities of being like his own. Qualities of justice and judgment fitted him to be a ruler; qualities of mercy and love prepared him to be a reasonable, kind and wise ruler. Such is a brief description of earth's first king – Adam. An image of his Creator, (not physically, but mentally and morally,) he was invested with authority over earth and its affairs, like as God is ruler over all, as we read: After our likeness let them have dominion over the beast of the field, the fowl of heaven and the fish of the sea. (Gen. 1:26.) Thus was he installed lord of earth. He was but another form of creation, a step lower than angels, as lower and under him, came the brute creation. Accordingly we read: "Thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honor. Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands. Thou hast put all things under his feet," (Ps. 8:5-6.)
All of this glory, honor and rulership was invested in him, to be used in harmony with his nature, which being perfect, was in perfect harmony with the will of God. This was his inheritance, but he lost it.
As God had foreseen, man disobeyed his superior ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords. This could not be allowed to go unpunished. He had been informed from the first that disobedience to God would be sin, and that its legitimate punishment and effect is death. While man always was mortal, i.e., liable to death, if disobedient to God's laws, yet the loving Creator had made every provision necessary to his welfare, in the garden prepared for his trial. And not only had he arranged that the soul (person) that sinned should die, but also that if obedient the person should continue to live. The means for life's continuance was in "every tree of the garden," i.e., the food provided for man's sustenance was amply sufficient to meet all the wastes of his system, and would have preserved the freshness and vigor of his perfect being forever. This would be everlasting life.
When man became a sinner the penalty "death" must be executed. It mattered not so far as the penalty was concerned, whether Adam should die the same moment that he disobeyed, or the same year, or a thousand years after. He must die. The word "day" used in connection with the penalty, is the general term used now as well as in past times, for a period or epoch of time, as: "The day of temptation in the wilderness – forty years;" the days of creation, etc. The marginal reading clears up the meaning: "In the day that thou eatest thereof, dying, thou shalt die," (Gen. 2:17.) This was fulfilled not by God's striking Adam dead with a thunderbolt but simply by cutting off his access to the life-giving food supplied by the trees of the prepared garden. Accordingly an angel drove Adam from the garden and prevented with flaming sword, his access thereafter to the tree (trees or woods) of life, (Gen. 3:24.)
Thus was the lord of creation driven out into the world which God, foreknowing his fall, had left in an unprepared or "cursed" condition. The garden which we are told was "prepared" was doubtless an illustration of what the whole earth will be when man and his perfect conditions are restored – in "The times of restitution of all things which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets."
Thus thrown upon his own resources for obtaining by sweat of face elements to sustain life, Adam found it a hard lot, and by its effects was enabled to know what evil is, and the exceeding bitterness of sin. And oft, no doubt, he desired, perhaps prayed, that he might be permitted again to dwell in Eden, and promised that with his present knowledge of sin and evil he would more highly prize the good things there enjoyed and more fervently love and obey him "from whom cometh every good and perfect gift." But though God's plan was no less loving than this, it was broader, wiser and more comprehensive. God's plan was to let not only Adam, but also the entire race, learn just this same lesson of the bitterness of sin and disobedience which each must individually learn to fully appreciate. Then bringing all back to the Eden condition, sin might be forever banished, and the entire race live in harmony with God.
Toil and care told in time upon even the perfect physical form of a perfect man, resulting finally in his complete overthrow and wresting from his grasp the last shred or spark of life. He is dead. After nine hundred and thirty years of struggle with his foe – death – he is conquered. The penalty of sin was inflicted and continues to this moment, since he still is one of the prisoners in the great charnel house of death, which has since swallowed up the race, and will hold them all until the second Adam, who ransomed the race, and who declares, "I have the keys of hell and death" [hades – the grave] (Rev. 1:18) shall take his great power and reign, releasing "the prisoners of the pit" [grave], "the captives" of sin and death.
But not only did the casting out from the life-preserving fruits of the garden tend to the impairing of Adam's physical powers, but of his mental qualities also. It was not possible that he should retain perfect mental vigor, when he became physically impaired, thought being the product of the mental organism made active by the physical vitality.
We see then that Adam's mental powers decreased with his physical deterioration, and the moral qualities of his mind suffered the most. While the energy of body and mind were taxed to their utmost to take care of self, it is but reasonable to suppose that the quality of benevolence (love) which, as he was in God's image, must have been one of the ruling characteristics of his being was crowded out, and the qualities of acquisitiveness (selfishness) and combativeness were developed instead. This same idea followed out would show us that all the higher, grander, nobler qualities were suffered measurably to decline, while all of the lower ones (common to the lower animals) were the more developed.
As man lost the grandeur of his being, and its powers decreased, his rulership over the lower creation, as well as over self gave way, until to-day we find him afraid of all wild beasts, and that they no longer recognize the rulership of their fallen lord. And the influence once exercised by our father Adam is barely discernible in the occasional man who can master and tame (partially) the ferocious beasts. Here we have a brief glance at the first dynasty of earth and its overthrow. Now we see the result: "By sin came death." In the expressive language of Paul,
Such a ransom and deliverance was a part of God's plan from the first; and we read, "for this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil" – sin and death, (1 John 3:8.) And not only so, but also "him that hath the power of death, that is, the devil," (Heb. 2:14,) and thus release from his grasp all of the race.
But as Satan, in exercising the power of death, is the executor of justice, and thus unwittingly serving God's purpose for a time, his destruction is delayed for a season. The one who would deliver the race from death must first satisfy the claims of the law of God. This the fallen ones could not do for themselves, as God had from the first foreknown and arranged for in his plan. Carrying out this plan he had already condemned the entire race on account of one man's disobedience. His purpose from the first being that he would provide another, man, who, being without sin, should give himself "a ransom for all" the race – that "as by one man's disobedience [the] many [all] were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall [the] many [all] be made righteous" (justified from sin and death,) (Rom. 5:19.)
But who is the one righteous, pure, holy, sinless, one? How could there be such an one among a race all of whom were condemned? "There is none righteous, no not one," the scriptures answer. But when mankind had learned effectually his own weakness and inability to deliver himself from death, his extremity became God's opportunity, and "God's eye pitied and his arm brought salvation." The very chief of God's creation higher than angels (Heb. 1:5-8,) he who is called "the beginning of the creation of God" (Rev. 3:14) is selected as the one who shall undergo the labors of redeeming humanity. We are not to suppose this was an irksome or unwilling work, for we cannot suppose a being in perfect harmony with Jehovah who would not take delight in doing his will. Nor would obedience be the only motive which would actuate, partaking as all perfect beings on whatever plane they exist must, of the divine quality – love – he would love to do the work for the sake of its benefits to mankind, in releasing them from death. This no doubt was a part of "the joy set before him, for which he, "endured the cross despising the shame." (Heb. 12:2.)
But in addition to this joy at the opportunity to release the human race from death, was that of "bringing many sons to glory," – some to the lost earthly glory and some to heavenly glory. To a little flock gave he power to become sons of God of a higher than human nature – even to be "partakers of the Divine nature," and joint heirs with him of his own inheritance. These, according to God's plan are reckoned as the bride of Christ and as such enter the heavenly family. To these sons this mighty one is now the leader or "captain of their salvation." He leads them now through suffering, toil and sacrifice even unto death, which is working out for them an exceeding and eternal weight of glory. Another part of this
But how shall this redemptive work be accomplished? We have seen that God's plan was, that since by man came death, by man should also come the resurrection of the dead. (1 Cor. 15:21.) Then to redeem man, this mighty one must become a man, in every particular. He must partake of "flesh and blood," (Heb. 2:14,) and consequently must have the exact nature of the fleshly race, but not the sinful and depraved dispositions with which we are now burdened, but he must be a perfect man, standing exactly where Adam stood, except to know more perfectly the exceeding sinfulness of sin and its dire effects which he saw everywhere about him, and also for what purpose he had come. He took not the nature and form of angels, for that would not have served God's purpose, but he took the nature and form of a man.
All things were now ready. "In the fullness of time, God sent forth his Son, born of a virgin," "born not of the will of the flesh but of the will of God" – in a word, as much of a specially creative act on God's part as was the creation of Adam; the difference being that the one could say, "The earth is my mother," the other was "born of a woman." Had he been a descendant of Adam he would have been under the curse of death, as all other members of that race. He would have been unable to keep the law as other men in whom sinful dispositions and depraved tastes are born. But while of the same (human) nature he is a new being, distinct from the race. He is born, grows in wisdom and in stature but manifests powers beyond others because he is perfect, they imperfect. Now he has reached maturity (according to the law) at thirty years of age. He knows as no one else does, the great work for which during those thirty years he has been coming – his body preparing – it was "for the suffering of death" – that he "should taste death for every man" – "that through death he might destroy death," and liberate the dead race – "in due time." Now he is come, the second perfect sinless man, and offers his perfect life as a ransom for the race – "Lo, I come, (as) in the volume of the Book it is written of me, to do thy will, O, God." (Heb. 10:7.) This was his covenant, to die, as he afterward expressed it, saying: "For this cause came I into the world." And here in type he was buried in the water and rose again, thus making the picture of that which he covenanted to do.
There then, as the perfect one he had done all that he could do, given himself up to die in whatever way the Father might direct. But though the death had not actually occurred (at baptism) it was so reckoned, (as with us when we covenant,) and the new nature's powers and will, which belong to the spiritual body, which he was to be when the work of death was complete; ("raised a spiritual body,") these powers and qualities were given to him in a measure as soon as the human – earthly – body was consecrated. This was at his baptism when the spirit descended and a voice from heaven acknowledged his begetting again to the spiritual plane, and to the divine nature – "This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased." (Matt. 3:17.) Henceforth the life of Jesus is that of a dual being, the outward form being [R664 : page 6] the man Christ Jesus, whose life and being were daily spent for the good of others – a body already given up to death, and a new being within – the Divine nature – the spirit power of God. And in this he is the pattern and leader of "all who come unto God by him," "who become partakers of the Divine nature" – the "little flock" called his bride – his body. We must surrender ourselves to God – be baptised in his death – in order to be begotten of the spirit and receive the earnest of our new spiritual being, the fullness of which will be received when we are completely delivered from this fleshly condition to our spiritual bodies.
Thenceforth he "did not his own (human) will" but was "led of the Spirit," and the actions now were of God, as Jesus testified: "The word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father's which sent me." (John 14:24 and 17:8.) "The Father that dwelleth in me, He doeth the works." (John 14:10.) If we as our head "are led by the Spirit of God" – even unto death – we also become "the sons of God," (Rom. 8:14,) who will also work in us to will and to do of his own good pleasure." (Phil. 2:13).
This dying process continued during the three and one-half years of his ministry, from the moment of his consecration and acceptance at baptism, until on the cross he cried: "It is finished." But what was finished there – the work of atonement? No, the work of atonement signifies the making at one of two parties. In this case God was one and humanity the other party. Man's sin had brought upon him God's curse, death, instead of his blessing; and by its degrading influence (as we have seen) it had so marred the mental and moral likeness of man to his maker, that he no longer took "delight in the law of God," but in sin, and it will be readily seen that there was much work necessary to bring about full reconciliation between God and man. First – Justice must be met, a ransom must be given for the sinner, else God could never, to all eternity, recognize him as having a right to live. Secondly – Man must be brought to his original condition of perfection – in God's image – before he can be of himself perfectly in harmony with God's perfect will and law. Now, while this work, as a whole, was Jehovah's plan from "before the creation of the world," its accomplishment only began with Jesus, and will not be completed until the end of the millennial reign, when Jesus shall deliver up all things to the Father, having put down (destroyed) all opposition to God's law. 1 Cor. 15:24-28.
When Jesus cried, "it is finished," he referred only to the first mentioned part of this work of atonement viz.: The giving of the ransom; this was now complete; the penalty of Adam's sin was now met, for "Christ died for our sins according to the Scripture" – "He gave himself a ransom for all to be testified in due time." He "is a propitiation (satisfaction) for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world." (1 John 2:2.)
Having thus "purchased us from death with his own precious blood," all the race belongs to him. A race of sinners they were, having no right to life; a race of ransomed beings they are against whom justice has no claim, who may be restored to perfect life at the pleasure or will of Jesus their Redeemer who proclaimed, that in due time "all that are in their graves shall hear the voice of the Son of man and come forth." And again: "I am he that liveth and was dead, and behold I am alive for evermore, and have the keys of hell [hades – the grave] and of death." (Rev. 1:18.) Yes, says Paul: "For this purpose Christ was manifested, [in the flesh] that he might destroy death, and him that has the power of death, that is the devil."
But while we are thus informed of the plan of God to destroy "death," yet nearly two thousand years have passed since the ransom was paid and still death reigns. Why does not the purchaser take his "purchased possession"? Ah, he has a grand plan with regard to some of the race he has purchased. He will by trial of faith and patience, develop and separate from the world "a little flock" whom he will associate with himself as his bride. They will be a peculiar people, zealous of good works, and full of faith, who walk in his footsteps of self-sacrifice and entire giving up of their human nature – will and body – receiving instead the Divine nature – will and body.
When the Church, the body of Christ is made perfect through suffering and trials, and united with him [which event we believe to be so close at hand], then the great work and reign of earth's new monarch – the second Adam – begins. Though possessing the power over evil ever since he rose from the grave its victor, yet he has not exercised that power up to the present time, because evil is necessary to the development of his body. But when we are complete, he shall take to himself his great power and reign. (Rev. 11:17.) This statement is applied as having its fulfillment at the end of the Gospel age during the sounding of the seventh (symbolic) trumpet.
Now let us inquire, how long will Christ reign – or exercise authority and rule? The Scriptures answer, "He shall reign forever and ever," (Rev. 11:15.) that is, being associated with the Father, Christ (and we in him) shall always belong to the reigning and ruling power – Jesus at the Father's right hand (next in authority) and we at his right hand, consequently "above all principalities and powers." But in the especial sense of ruling over and subduing earth, the reign is limited to the period of time necessary to the restoring of all earth's people and affairs to a condition of at-one-ment or harmony with God, the Father. As Paul expresses it: "HE MUST REIGN TILL HE HATH PUT ALL ENEMIES UNDER HIS FEET.
The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death." For "He (the Father) hath put all things under his (Christ's) feet," but it is evident that the Father did not put himself under the control of Christ. "And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also, himself, be subject unto him (the Father) that put all things under him, that God may be all in all," (or above all.)
Man having been restored to his original dominion, every inferior creature will recognize him as its Lord, and every human being will recognize "Christ as Lord to the Glory of God the Father." (Phil. 2:11.) And thus will be completed the great work planned before our creation, commenced at the baptism of Jesus and ending with the close of the Millennial reign. (Rev. 20:6,) viz.: At-one-ment.
That this is God's plan, is implied in the term "Restitution," and is the legitimate conclusion to be drawn from Paul's argument. (Heb. 2:6-9.) He starts out with the original plan of God in creating man perfect – "Thou madest him a little lower than the angels; thou crownedst him with glory and honor and didst set him over the works of thy hands. Thou hast put all (earthly) things in subjection under his feet." But as we have seen, sin has marred all this glory and honor, and has degraded us far below angels; taking the dominion out of our hand and permitting death to reign. And if we look about us we will say with Paul, that it seems as though God's plan was a failure, for though six thousand years have passed, "We see not yet all things put under him" [man]. But is there any hopeful sign to indicate that man may yet be restored to his honor and glory, and set over the earthly works of God's hand? Yes, we have the assurance that ALL God's purposes shall be accomplished, (Isa. 14:24,) and that a "seed of the woman" should yet destroy the serpent – evil – and "bless all the families of the earth." And though this work is not yet accomplished, yet we see a beginning of it. As Paul says, "we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels," [the condition of a perfect man], for the suffering of death... that he, by the grace of God, should taste death for every man." Thus far had the plan progressed in Paul's day and if he were living now, he would doubtless add, as we can, that the Church, as his body, is about complete; that the Gospel age of suffering with him and "filling up the measure of the afflictions of Christ which are behind" is ending and the Millennial age in which we shall "live and reign with Christ a thousand years" is dawning.
As those who expect to be of the bride – the body – of Christ and to be glorified together with him, we rejoice to think that the time is so near at hand when we shall be changed, leaving forever the human nature, and being made like unto Christ's glorious body. But one thing which adds much to our interest and rejoicing, is the thought of the necessity of our development and change, as the body of the great deliverer before death can be destroyed and the race liberated, brought to the liberty of the sons of God, as Adam and angels – free from the bondage of corruption – death. For we know that "they without us shall not be made perfect." We must be perfected, on the spiritual plane as divine beings, before they can be perfected on the earthly plane as human beings.
Seeing then what high honors and glory await the overcoming sons of God, and the blessings awaiting the world through us, can any one wonder that we long for the happy moment of change? Surely not, and not only we, but the world also, are waiting and hoping [though ignorantly] for a good time coming, for the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now waiting for the manifestation of [the Church] the sons of God, (Rom. 8:22,19,) – the sun of righteousness which "arises with healing in his wings" to heal, and perfect, and restore all things to the perfect will of God. Thus earth will have had when man is restored, the following great over-ruling powers: First, Man under God; Second, Death reigned and him that has the power of death, that is the devil (Rom. 5:17; Heb. 2:14); Third, Righteousness under Christ; Fourth, The first restored, i.e., man under God.
God classes all present governments of earth as Satan's. "The prince – ruler – of this world" would not permit any government which would not in a great measure, act in harmony with him, so long as he has the control, which will be until the end of this age, when the Redeemer takes his great power and reigns. Satan has ruled among the nations for ages, except the one nation, Israel, of which God says: "You only have I known of all the [nations] families of the earth." (We have seen that they were used thus as a type of the higher spiritual Israel, the Church, which was to be in the world, but not of it). The time came, however, that God gave over even this nation as the others, when they went into captivity to Babylon, and God's prophet said of the last reigning prince, "Take off the diadem, remove the crown; this shall not [continue to] be the same, I will overturn, overturn, overturn it [the kingdom] until he come whose right it is, and I will give it him" [The Christ]. Ezek. 21:27.
Thus, as a glorious image, did these earthly kingdoms appear to the natural man; and as glorious they still are regarded by the world. Extolled in prose and verse, through all generations, are their deeds of blood and violence, which shock the feelings of all possessed of the spirit of love. Their history is one successive record of crime and death, each of their heroes claiming higher honor than his predecessor because he had butchered greater numbers of his fellow-beings, and made more widows and orphans and more misery. No wonder that when God pictured the same four earthly governments to the holy prophet Daniel, he gave it as a beastly picture. (Dan. 7.) They are indeed beastly governments. How perfectly they represent, in their evil and death-dealing power, their master, the devil. The picture, or likeness of the fourth (Roman power) to Satan is so strong that Jesus, when presenting it in symbol in Revelation, almost invariably calls it "the dragon," "that old serpent, which is the devil and Satan," etc., thus using the name of its prince as a name for the kingdom.
While God thus permits evil to triumph now, seemingly without restraint, and uses it as an agency for punishing sin, yet it is under an over-ruling guidance by which God "causes the wrath of man to praise him, and the remainder he will restrain."
The inventions and arts of the last three centuries (machinery, printing, application of steam, electricity, etc.,) have come about gradually, but we believe are none the less of God – His agencies now in preparation for the blessing of humanity during the coming reign of righteousness. These scientific attainments, which will so fully bless in the future, are even now exercising a powerful effect upon humanity, enlightening the understanding, and, by increasing the dependency of one upon another, they naturally tend to promote sympathy, affection, and fraternity between the various members of the human family.
But all of these blessings, while they serve to lift mankind in a measure out of evil, are only temporary helps. Satan is still equal to the occasion, and though he could not now induce millions of men to follow for years a leader for his glory's sake, he can foment angry strife between nations upon pretexts of honor, etc., and, though men do not now fight as incessantly as of old, yet the "arts of war" more than keep pace with those of peace, so that to-day the standing armies of earth are far larger and far better prepared for mutual destruction than ever before.
The progress of science and art fails to bring now the blessings which will result in the future, because avarice (selfishness) has crowded out love and benevolence. Capital and power combine to oppress the poor, and they in turn despise and envy the rich.
Nor can we wonder if the masses of mankind notice this condition of affairs; and that as knowledge increases among them, they should seek to band themselves together for self-protection, especially if they see, as in Europe, kings, emperors, nobles, and landlords rolling in wealth and luxury, while some of them [R664 : page 7] barely eke out an existence on the commonest necessaries of life, without luxury or comfort. All that they can earn more than will purchase meal, potatoes, and salt, with coarse fabric for clothing, is required as tax to support these corrupt governments, which, like great boils, absorb the strength and vitality of humanity. So we see that Satan is still ruling over earth. He may change his tactics according to the necessities of the hour, but he is ruling still.
God's Word informs us that, by the general uprising of humanity and overthrow of governments, the new age will be introduced. In the coming struggle the two spiritual powers, Christ and his saints, and Satan and his angels, will each have earthly armies whose causes they will support and advance. Satan's will be the kings, chief captains, rich men, and mighty men, [Rev. 19:19,] while Christ will espouse and bring to victory the cause of the oppressed, who, inspired by a vague sense of justice and right, will be used to some extent as agents to their own liberation from the thraldom of evil and oppression.
How we see the preparation for this time of trouble in the world going on all around us, and how unconsciously each one takes his place to play his part in the closing act of the reign of sin and death! In this country, less oppressed and in every way more blessed than others,
The future dynasty of earth, like the present one, will be the ruling of an invisible power through visible agencies of earth. As now Satan reigns unseen, then "The Christ of God" will reign and rule unseen. As now sin abounds, so then the opposite – righteousness – will rule. As Satan now has agents in men and governments, so with Christ's reign, every man coming into harmony with truth and righteousness will be reckoned a servant of God. The kingdoms of this world being all overthrown, (Dan. 2:44,) will be re-established on principles of justice and equity, based upon the golden law of love to God and men.
The chief nation of earth during that age, the Word informs us, will be fleshly Israel, in glory and prominence exalted above all other nations – "The joy of the whole earth." And next in positions of favor and blessing will come other nations in proportion as they conform to the law of the kingdom of God. Thus will the light of truth emanating from the spiritual city – the church – the New Jerusalem, (Rev. 21,) bless all nations, and result in healing and blessing all mankind, until ultimately, having put down all opposition, and brought all men to the condition of perfection and righteousness, the third empire will give place to the fourth, which is the first restored, viz.: man over earth its lord and himself in perfect obedience to the King of kings and Lord of lords. Thus, "God [will be] all in all." Amen.
To-day there are many organizations claiming to be the church, and having various bonds of union; but we wish to know, upon the authority of God's Word, what ekklesia, body, or church, Jesus established, and what are its bonds of union; secondly, we wish to show that every Christian should belong to that church; thirdly, the injurious effects of joining the wrong ekklesia or church; and fourthly, having joined the right church, what are the results of losing our membership.
First, then, the church which Jesus began to gather during his ministry, and which was recognized by the Father at Pentecost after their ransom price was paid, was the little company of disciples who had consecrated earthly time, talents and life, a sacrifice to God. They were organized and bound together as members of one society, and as such had laws and government, and consequently a head or recognized ruling authority. The bonds, were bonds of love and common interest. Since all were enlisted under the captaincy of Jesus, the hopes and fears, joys and sorrows, and aims of one were those of the other; and thus they had a far more perfect union of heart than could possibly be had from a union on the basis of any man-made creed. Thus their organization was of the Spirit; their law for the government of each was love, and all as a whole were put under obedience to the "law of the Spirit" as it was expressed in the life, actions, and words of their Lord. Their government was the will of him who said, "If ye love me keep my commandments."
Thus we see the early church organized, governed, and in perfect unity and harmony under the rulership or headship of Jesus. Contrast this church organization with what now affects to be a continuance of the same – viz.: the various denominational organizations, each of which binds its members to a mental union on the basis of some creed or dogma of its own (many of them anything but love-ly) and each having its own laws.
These laws emanate from their heads, and rulers or law-givers; so it is clearly seen that these present day churches, have and recognize as heads, or directing, ruling powers over them, the ancient founders of their various creeds, each contradicting the other, while their clergy, in conferences, councils, synods, and presbyteries, variously interpret and enforce the "traditions of the elders" which "make void the Word of God." These take the place of the true head of the church – Jesus – and the true teacher and guide into all truth, the Holy Spirit. Hear the prophet Isaiah express it. (chap. 9:15.) "The ancient and honorable, he is the head, and the prophet that teacheth lies, he is the tail." And the whole nominal system is described in the Revelation as "Babylon" – confusion – Papal mother and Protestant daughters.
Will they own this to be so? No, for the lukewarm nominal church of to-day believes herself to be rich and increased with goods, having need of nothing; not knowing that she is wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked. (Rev. 3:17.)
These are "hard sayings, who can receive them?" But these are not our sayings: it is the warning voice of the "sure word of prophecy...whereunto ye do well that ye take heed." And it is a loving voice, for again our Lord declares: "As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten."
There are two senses in which the true church of Christ may be considered: All who, like the early church, were fully consecrated to the doing of our Father's will, amenable only to His will and government, recognizing and obeying none other – these saints, from the beginning of the Gospel Age down to its close, when all of this class are sealed, constitute the "CHURCH OF THE FIRST BORN," whose names are written in heaven. These are all one in aim, hope, and suffering, and in due time will be joint-heirs with Jesus Christ to the great inheritance – heirs of the kingdom which God hath promised for them that love him.
The other sense in which this same class is recognized, is by counting a part for the whole; thus all the living of this class may be spoken of as the church; or, again, any part of this class of living followers who may meet together may properly be called the church; for, by the word of Jesus we know that wherever two or three are assembled he will be among them, consequently that would be a church meeting – an assembly of the "church of the First Born." The general assembly will be, when all the church are made like, and glorified with, their head – Jesus.
Such, then, is our definition of the church of Christ; it is perfectly illustrated by Paul (Rom. 12:4,5) when he compares the church to a human body. In this figure Jesus represents the head, and all who are his constitute the body, over and through which the head rules. Jesus has been and always will be the head over his church as a whole; he is likewise the head and ruler of the entire living church, and in every assembly where two or three meet in his name he is the head, ruler, and teacher.
Is it asked, in what sense does he teach? We answer, by exercising the qualities of the head, or teacher; by using one or more of those present as his mouth-pieces in unfolding truth, strengthening faith, encouraging hope, inspiring zeal, etc., just as the head of your body can call upon one member to minister to another. But here a word of caution: If one becomes a useful instrument as a right hand, he should take care that he aspire not to become the head. Be not puffed up; pride will paralyze and render useless. "Be not ye called Rabbi, (master, teacher,) for one is your master, (head,) even Christ, and all ye are brethren." And let not the least member despise his office, "for if all were one member, where were the body?" "Nay, those members of the body which seem to be more feeble are necessary" – "God hath set the members every one of them, in the body as it hath pleased him."
This brings us to our second proposition, viz.: that all Christians should be joined to this organization. In the light of what has just been said as to the class constituting the Church which Jesus organized, it is evident that if you have given up all your will, talent, time, etc., you are recognized by Jesus as a follower, and member of the ekklesia, or body of which he is the head, whose names are written in heaven. Thus we join Jesus' Church and have our names recorded as members by consecration. But, says one, must I not join some organization on earth, assent to some creed, and have my name written on earth? No; remember that Jesus is your pattern and teacher, and neither in his words nor acts will you find any authority for binding yourselves with creeds and traditions of the elders, which all tend to make the word of God of none effect, and bring you under a bondage which will hinder your growth in grace and knowledge, and against which Paul warned you, saying, "Stand fast, therefore, in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage." (Gal. 5:1.)
But some say: If it is not proper to unite with any of the present nominal churches, would it not be well to form a visible organization of our own? Yes, this is what we have – an organization modeled after that of the early church. We think we have come back to primitive simplicity. The Lord Jesus alone is our head or lawgiver; the Holy Spirit is our interpreter and guide into truth; our names are all written in heaven; we are bound together by love and common interest.
Do you inquire – how shall we know one another? We reply, how could we help knowing one another when the Spirit of our Master is made manifest in word and act and manner and look? Yes, the living faith, the unfeigned love, the long-suffering meekness, the child-like simplicity, coupled with the constancy and zeal of maturity, make manifest the sons of God, and we need no earthly record, for the names of all such are written in the Lamb's book of life.
Do the sick need visiting or assistance? – these stand ready with consecrated time. Does the Lord's work require money? – these stand ready with consecrated means. Does His work bring the reproach of the world, and of a degenerate nominal church – these have also sacrificed reputation – all – all to God.
But again, do you inquire how shall we deal with one who walks disorderly in our midst; if we have no organization such as we see about us, how can we free ourselves from such, as the Lord requires us to do? We answer, Do just as Jesus and Paul directed.
Now, as in the early church, there are various degrees of advancement among the individual members; and Paul says, (1 Thes. 5:14,) some are feeble-minded, comfort them; some are weak, support them; but while you should be patient toward all, you should warn the disorderly, (those who are drifting away from the true spirit of Christ). Don't mistake the disorderly for the weak, and comfort them; nor for the feeble-minded, and support them; but patiently, lovingly, warn the disorderly. Whom does he call disorderly? Doubtless there are many ways of walking disorderly, but in 2 Thes. 3:11, he speaks of some who work not at all, but are busy-bodies, these he says should do as he did – work, that they be not chargeable to any; and if any will not work, neither should he eat. Thus he said he did, that he might be an example to others. He warns us also against immoral and unjust persons, and those who wrest (twist) the Scriptures, and thus turn the truth of God into a lie. Then again, vs. 14: After you have warned such a one, if he "obey not,...note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed. Yet, count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother."
Again Jesus gives explicit directions where there is a matter of offense between two brethren, (Matt. 18:15,17): "If thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone; if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother; but if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church, (the company of brethren who assemble together,) but if he neglects to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican." If, under the organization of our Head, we heed his commands, which we will do if we love him, how few will be the misunderstandings and difficulties among the brethren.
This organization has its evangelists, pastors and teachers appointed and directed by the Lord. They need no laying on of hands by the so-called "Apostolic succession"; for the "Spirit of the Lord" hath anointed all the members of the body "to preach," (Isa. 61:1,) and it is the duty of every member of the body to exercise his office for the edification of the other members. How complete is the organization of the Church of Christ with its heaven-written, love-bound and Spirit-ruled membership, and how sad the error of mistaking the nominal for the real Church!
The importance of our fourth proposition need not be urged. It would, indeed, be a dreadful calamity to lose our membership in the true Church or body of Christ. And no member is out of this danger except when keeping a vigilant watch over the old nature, counted dead, lest it come to life again, and assert itself in the form of pride, selfishness, envy, evil-speaking – or what not? But if filled with love (the love that prompts to sacrifice) and clothed with humility, and under cover of the redeeming blood, we are safe in the Church (body), having the assurance that it is our "Father's good pleasure to give us the kingdom."
Yes, the kingdom is the glorious destiny of the true Church – the "little flock" – now treading the pathway of humiliation and drinking the bitter cup of death. The glory that shall be revealed in us, doth not yet appear except to the eye of faith, but the temptations and trials are very apparent on every hand. "Let us, therefore, fear lest a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it." (Heb. 4:1.)
Thus Paul warned others, and thus he [R664 : page 8] feared, lest (even after) having preached to others, he himself should be a castaway. (1 Cor. 9:27.) We may have our names cast out as evil by those of the nominal Church, and yet "rejoice and be exceeding glad because our names are written in heaven." They may frown upon you and despitefully use you and say all manner of evil against you falsely, or they may seek to win you back by flattery, saying they cannot afford to lose your influence – you could do so much good by remaining among them. Oh, how necessary in this "evil day" is the faith –
"That bears unmoved the world's dread frown,
Nor heeds its flattering smile;
That seas of trouble cannot drown,
Nor Satan's arts beguile."
Dearly beloved, let us again repeat the warning: "Stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made you free, and be not again entangled with the yoke of bondage" – not even in the slightest degree. Make sure that you are of the Church which alone is recognized in Scripture and cut loose completely from all the Babylon systems which it condemns – "Come out of her my people."
The Church and the World walked far apart
On the changing shores of time,
The World was singing a giddy song,
And the Church a hymn sublime.
"Come, give me your hand," said the merry World,
"And walk with me this way";
But the good Church hid her snowy hands
And solemnly answered "Nay,
I will not give you my hand at all,
And I will not walk with you;
Your way is the way that leads to death;
Your words are all untrue."
"Nay, walk with me but a little space,"
Said the World, with a kindly air;
"The road I walk is a pleasant road,
And the sun shines always there;
Your path is thorny and rough and rude,
But mine is broad and plane;
My way is paved with flowers and dews,
And yours with tears and pain;
The sky to me is always blue,
No want, no toil I know;
The sky above you is always dark,
Your lot is a lot of woe;
There's room enough for you and me
To travel side by side."
Half shyly the Church approached the World
And gave him her hand of snow;
And the old World grasped it and walked along,
Saying in accents low,
"Your dress is too simple to please my taste;
I will give you pearls to wear,
Rich velvets and silks for your graceful form,
And diamonds to deck your hair."
The Church looked down at her plain white robes,
And then at the dazzling World,
And blushed as she saw his handsome lip
With a smile contemptuous curled.
"I will change my dress for a costlier one,"
Said the Church, with a smile of grace;
Then her pure, white garments drifted away,
And the World gave in their place,
Beautiful satins and shining silks,
Roses and gems and costly pearls;
While over her forehead her bright hair fell
Crisped in a thousand curls.
"Your home is too plain," said the proud old World,
"I'll build you one like mine;
Carpets of Brussels and curtains of lace,
And furniture ever so fine."
So he built her a costly and beautiful house;
Most splendid it was to behold;
Her sons and her beautiful daughters dwelt there
Gleaming in purple and gold;
Rich fairs and shows in the halls were held,
And the World and his children were there.
Laughter and music and feasts were heard
In the place that was meant for prayer.
There were cushioned pews for the rich and the gay,
To sit in their pomp and pride;
But the poor, who were clad in shabby array,
Sat meekly down outside.
"You give too much to the poor," said the World,
"Far more than you ought to do;
If they are in need of shelter and food,
Why need it trouble you?
Go take your money and buy rich robes,
Buy horses and carriages fine,
Buy pearls and jewels and dainty food;
Buy the rarest and costliest wines:
My children they dote on all these things,
And if you their love would win,
You must do as they do, and walk in the ways
That they are walking in."
Then the Church held fast the strings of her purse,
And modestly lowered her head,
And simpered, "Without doubt you are right, sir,
Henceforth I will do as you've said."
So the poor were turned from her door in scorn,
And she heard not the orphan's cry;
But she drew her beautiful robes aside,
As the widows went weeping by.
Then the sons of the World and sons of the Church
Walked closely hand and heart,
And only the Master, who knoweth all,
Could tell the two apart.
Then the Church sat down at her ease and said
"I am rich and my goods increase;
I have need of nothing, or ought to do,
But to laugh, and dance, and feast."
The sly World heard, and he laughed in his sleeve,
And mocking said, aside –
"The Church is fallen, the beautiful Church,
And her shame is her boast and her pride."
The angel drew near to the mercy-seat,
And whispered in sighs her name,
Then the loud anthems of rapture were hushed,
And heads were covered with shame.
And a voice was heard at last by the Church
From Him who sat on the Throne,
"I know thy works, and how thou hast said,
'I am rich;' and hast not known
That thou art naked, poor and blind,
And wretched before My face;
Therefore from My presence, I cast thee out,
And blot thy name from its place."
A beautiful landscape might inspire the artist or 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 significance. 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.
If in this world only we have hope we are of all creatures the most miserable. It is comparatively easy for the few of us who live in comfort, who have been refined by culture and thought till we can see how the shadows of time lend a new intensity and beauty to its lights, and how pain and suffering are a discipline in wisdom and goodness, to think this world a very tolerable one, and to regard human life as a grand, a sacred possession. But think what life is to the countless myriads of our race; think what the world is, and has been, as a whole. Remember how in all ages the vast majority of men have been plagued by toil, by care, by fear, by sordid penury; how they have been crushed under the bloody heels of tyrants who were bound to protect them, maimed and tortured, stultified and coerced, by the very priests who were bound to enlighten and emancipate them; how they have been decimated and degraded by war, by famine, by disease, by ignorance and superstition; and who can deny that, if this life be all, then human life taken as a whole, is the most fatal of blunders, of curses the most terrible? If the tragedy of human life be pregnant with no divine purpose, if there be no better time coming, no golden age of righteousness and peace – if, in short, we can no longer believe in the advent and reign of Christ, then surely every thoughtful spectator of this vast tragedy must say, "It were better for men that they had never been born!"
But if we believe in this great promise, if we cherish this great hope, then can we with patience wait for it. And this is the very posture which our Lord enjoins. He would have us to be like servants who watch for the coming of their Lord, that, when he comes, they may open to him immediately. He would have us believe in, and look for, the advent of a better era, in which all the wrongs will be rectified. He would have us sustain ourselves under all the toils and sorrows of our individual lot, and under the still heavier oppression of the world's lot, by looking forward to that end and purpose of the Lord God Almighty which will vindicate all the ways in which we have been led, the painful discipline by which we have been tried and purified and refined. And whosoever holds fast this great hope for himself and for the world at large, he is a true believer in the distinct promise of the New Testament, viz., the second advent of Christ, and may use with sincerity all the words and phrases which it has expressed.– The Expositor.
The Christian Church as a witness for God in the world has failed, like the Jewish nation, and become apostate. There is a little flock, there is a true Church, but its members are scattered abroad and almost invisible in the great Babylon; they are the seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal, they are the called and chosen and faithful who follow the Lamb, they are those who have turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven; they are those who have not the form only, but the power of godliness, those who keep themselves unspotted from the world, and overcome through faith. They are found in every section of the professing Church, and the Lord knoweth those that are his – "They shall be mine, saith the Lord of Hosts, in the day when I make up my jewels."
But for the rest – for the vast professing body which bears the name of Christ, it has not continued in the goodness of God, it has turned his grace into licentiousness, its sentence is gone forth, it must be "cut off." The long suffering of God has been abundantly manifested, it is right that his holy severity should be again revealed. The professing Church has long been unworthy of the sacred name it bears, and of the high and holy responsibility of being God's witness on earth, which belongs to it; it is time it should cease to hold the position it has so fearfully forfeited. Instead of being the instrument of spreading the truth of the Gospel among men, it is the worst hindrance to their attaining that knowledge of God, and of Jesus Christ whom he has sent, in which life eternal lies. Like the Pharisees of old it stands as the great obstruction, neither entering itself into the kingdom, nor suffering those who would, to enter in. The name of God is blasphemed among the nations, by reason of the corruption of the professing church; the light that should have been in it, is become darkness, and great is that darkness! The church is confounded with the world, and the true saints are strangers in its society; It is no longer the pillar and ground of the truth, it is the hotbed of heresy, false doctrine, and corruption of every kind. What contrast can be more complete, than that between the church as Christ intended it to be, and the church as it now exists in the world! An end must come to all this! Not only does the Word of God predict it, not only does our own sense of righteousness demand it, but the solemn analogies of history distinctly intimate it. Let the undeniable fact that past apostasies brought down the judgment they deserved, forewarn men what must be the end of the existing apostasy of the professing people of God. Babylon must come in remembrance before God, who will give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath, for her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities.
Submission is a strong word, consecration still stronger. Surrender is cessation of resistance, consecration a transfer of all we are and have to Christ for active service. It covers person and property, talents and opportunities, and accepts of Christ as leader, manager, friend, and Saviour, present, active, and efficient in all the minutiae of life. There are degrees of consecration, and even entire consecration is progressive, for new interests, cares, burdens, capacities, and opportunities rise and await disposal, and Christ is revealed in new relations, making new demands, offering new privileges, and these await trustful acceptance, so that ever and anon the proposition to devote all to Christ and receive all of Christ claims fresh attention. Many commit spiritual interests to his care, and worry on alone with temporal concerns; they trust Him to save their souls, but hesitate to ask His aid in business; accept daily grace, but doubt respecting daily bread; rejoice in Christ, as a Saviour, but fail to apprehend Him as a brother, a companion, a present constant friend. Consecration is not absolutely perfect until the fulness of our Lord is perceived and received, and the fulness of life is devoted to Him, for every revelation of Christ calls for new devotion from us. The consecration must be as broad as the apprehension, covering the fulness of Christ and fulness of man.
WHENEVER I meet with the will of God, I feel that I meet with God; whenever I respect and love the will of God, I feel that I love and respect God; whenever I unite with the will of God, I feel that I unite with God; so that practically and religiously, although I am aware that a difference can be made philosophically, God and the will of God are to me the same. He who is in perfect harmony with the will of God, is as much in harmony with God himself as it is possible for any being to be. The very name of God's will fills me with joy.– Madame Guyon.
PRAYER. – He that is much in prayer shall grow rich in grace. He shall thrive and increase most that is busiest in this, which is our traffic with Heaven, and fetches the most precious commodities thence. He that sets oftenest these ships of desire, that makes the most voyages to that land of spices and pearls, shall be sure to improve his stock most, and have most of heaven upon earth.– Sel.