No. 151 Robinson St., Allegheny, Pa.
C. T. RUSSELL, EDITOR.
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.
TERMS: – FIFTY CENTS A YEAR, POSTAGE FREE. Including special number (Millennial Dawn, Vol. I., paper bound) seventy five cents. Remit by draft, P.O. Money Order, or Registered Letter, payable to C. T. RUSSELL.
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.
WE commend to every earnest reader desirous of spreading the truth, the plan set forth in last month's "VIEW FROM THE TOWER." Many have acted on it. One brother sold 59 copies of the paper bound DAWN, in part of one week, after the price was reduced. The book sells itself best. Do little talking about it. The Table of Contents and the book itself will do it better. Expect that every intelligent Christian should want the book and talk and act in harmony with that conviction, and your success will be accordingly. We feel sure now of selling the 50,000 proposed, and if the TRACT SOCIETY'S funds will justify, we will certainly try to make it eighty or one hundred thousand.
As this issue of the TOWER will be used largely as a sample paper, and will, we trust, reach at least one hundred thousand readers, we take this opportunity of extending to such the right hand of friendship. The common brotherhood of all mankind, through Adam, is cemented and bound tighter by our sympathy for each other as common sufferers under the curse of death, which passed upon us all. And the weaknesses, and aches, and pains, the blindness and lameness, mental as well as physical, under which we all labor, should quicken our sympathy and love for those who have fallen lowest, or become most blinded. This broad love, thank God, is ours, as we believe it is His for all his creatures. We come to greet you, and to point you to the cure for all our maladies, and inspire hope and incite you to love toward God, whom you only need to know, to love; and whom you may come to know through his word and his plans therein revealed, which embrace and provide for you and all mankind abundantly.
But our message is specially to the saints, those already consecrated to God, the truth-seekers, the "children of the light," the "little flock," the "Royal Priesthood," the "holy people," the "peculiar people," "The church of the first born" ones, "whose names are written in heaven," the living "members of the one body," of which Christ Jesus is the only head, prospectively "the Bride, the Lamb's wife" and "joint-heir" – you we specially greet, extending to you both hands, sympathizing and rejoicing with you as "new creatures," "partakers of the divine nature," and also sympathizing with you in the weaknesses of the flesh; for we have our treasure (the new mind or spirit,) in earthen vessels.
We trust that our non-recognition of sectarian names, in which some glory, may be no barrier to your communion with us; for let us remind you that the Scriptures recognize sects, and divisions, and party fences, and lines among the true saints of God, only to condemn them as evidences of carnality, contrary to the spirit and teaching of our Lord and Master. The apostle suggests – While ye say I am of Luther, I of Calvin, I of Wesley, is it not a sign of carnality? Is Christ, the head, divided? If so, his body, the church, may be excused for dividing and separating themselves by creeds and party names from others. But were Luther or Calvin crucified for you? Or were you baptised in the name of Wesley? – See 1 Cor. 1:11-13 and 3:4-8.
We address you, then, and desire to know you and to be known of you, not as members of earthly, human, carnal sects, but as we above addressed you, as members with us, and with all saints, of the [R919 : page 1] ONE BODY of Christ, whose names are written in heaven, in our Lord's book of life.
We come to you with a message which fills and overflows our own hearts with joy and praise. The night of the permitted reign of evil is near a close and the prince of darkness, and error, and superstition will soon be bound by the prince of light – Immanuel; and all his works of darkness shall be scattered and undone by the bright shining of the "Sun of righteousness" with healing in his beams, to bless all the race of men for whom he died.
"Go ye forth to meet him" – separate yourself from the world and the spirit of it; come forth out of Babylon, as well as out of Egypt, and flee ye by the narrow way that ye may meet your King and Bridegroom. The time for presentation to him is at hand, and as the Bride makes herself ready (Rev. 19:7), we have no time to waste. Only the fellow-members of the one body can help you, and your assistance is needed to help such that all may shortly enter into the joys of their Lord.
Once we supposed that the grand consummation of the hopes of the Bride would be the death-knell of the world's hope, but now, thank God, as the distorted shadows of the night scatter before the rising Sun of the grand Millennial day, we can see that God's ways and plans are higher and wider than we once supposed. And as it is written, He has put a new song in our mouths – even the loving-kindness of our God. The dawning light shows us that our fear was taught us not of his Word, but by the precepts of men (Isa. 29:13). We find that the prince of darkness, taking advantage of the natural fears of the fallen race, distorted horribly the punishments prescribed for sin by God, making death, the sentence, to mean the very opposite – life in torment, so as to prevent our seeing God's love, wisdom, and justice, and to prevent our full reconciliation to him and our recognition of him as our FATHER.
But now, beloved, as we awake and arouse ourselves, and look unto the Redeemer and Life-giver, we find that the terrible things we supposed so real were only nightmares, from which it is so refreshing to escape.
We have so much to tell you, and it is all so good, we scarcely know where to begin; but in this issue we present some of the simpler thoughts, just to give you a taste of our heavenly food which is meat indeed, giving spiritual health and strength which we never knew before, instead of the spiritual lassitude, and doubts, and wavering hopes, and fears and gropings in darkness, which once were ours.
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 we hope 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 sects (divisions) 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 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 such 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 and revelation be taken, it will be seen that he has a broad, comprehensive, and benevolent plan with reference to men, the order and details of which 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 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 be seen to 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 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, good men and sincere, earnest Christians; 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. 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.
Turn away from musty 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 God's Word. 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 full of 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; I will be exalted among the heathen: I will be exalted in the earth" (Ps. 46:10). Even so, let every heart respond, "Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is done in heaven."
DEAR BROTHER C. T. RUSSELL: – I am highly delighted with the February No. W. TOWER, especially so with "The Time is Short" and "No Variableness, Neither Shadow of Turning," and with the March No. which came in this A.M. Indeed I am always refreshed, strengthened by each Z.W.T. more and more, and my heart (mind) swells with gratitude and love to page 2 God for such interpretations of His Word. The Article "Whose Wife Shall She Be?" is clear, reasonable, manifestly Scriptural, deep, logical and convincing, on a subject which I never saw so plainly before. This only shows how many mysteries are no doubt hidden in God's Word, yet to be revealed to his faithful ones.
I preach more or less every day. My heart is in the work and must do it. O how I would like to spend an hour or two with you, but I am afraid I shall not be able to visit you this next anniversary Supper. If I should have no one with me, I will celebrate the Supper alone, with the Lord, and hope you will not forget me in your feasting and prayers.
Truly yours in the Service of the truth,
MY DEAR FRIEND: – I enclose money for two of the paper bound DAWN. The book is beyond rubies. I am also very thankful for the "TOWER" and pray our loving Father may long bless you to hold up the standard of truth. Such articles as "The Time is Short" bring us into very close fellowship: every word is as a nail in a sure place.
I am respectfully
DEAR SIR: – I have enclosed herewith a money order for five dollars, which I desire to give to the TRACT FUND. I received knowledge of the truth through the distribution of tracts in Buffalo by the Society, and I have taken this opportunity to slightly repay for what I have received.
Yours in Christ,
BROTHER ADAMSON writes concerning the plan suggested in the March "VIEW:" "Of course 50,000 DAWNS can be sold and should be, before 1888 A.D. I was reckoning what would be my proportion and concluded on 1000. So I order 20 copies paper bound and find I will have to order 20 every week. Having sold about 100 I must sell at least 20 per week for the remaining 43 weeks of the year. If 1000 subscribers to TOWER would sell each 30 copies during the year, the big part of the job would be over. All could do this at the very low price now decided on, 25 cts. each. I have a small boy here who sold several DAWNS at former prices, 50 cents.
While the discussion concerning the Second death of the incorrigible is going on, I call your attention to Amalek and their figure in history and the Bible. I believe both agree that Amalek was utterly destroyed nationally and individually. But while I saw plainly for some time that Amalekites appear to type those who enter the second death, the reason being given seems to add force. They lifted up their hand against the throne of the Lord after they knew it as such, and never was the Lord's hand lifted to bear so heavily on any other people. – Exodus 17:14-17 and margin.
Well, Rochester is pretty well worked. I have six sets of boys loaning packets. Have articles every week in Sunday papers. I shall encourage all correspondents to try hard to sell 50 to 100 DAWNS a piece this year. Regards, Christian love, and joined by Sister A.
MY DEAR BRO. RUSSELL: – I have just laid aside DAWN; I was reading "Jehovah's Day;" I am much impressed by what I have just read. Although I have read this chapter previously, yet it came to me under many new and impressive features; hence I conclude that I am but a child in the primary department of the school of Christ; that I have but tasted of the spring-branch, and that the fountain is farther up the mountain side, of which if I desire to drink I must continue to climb.
Well, I am become unpopular to the Reformed sect; they became fearful; so I don't preach for them any more. My own sect begin to mistrust me, but I am not sure what they will do, as I am about the only minister they know of who will preach for them caring nothing as to whether they pay him or not. All that is wrong with me, is that I care as little whether my preaching pleases them, as I do whether they give me anything for it. I am not popular and what is worse (to them) I am not trying to be. I do what I can to spread the truth while earning my living by farming.
Yours in our Lord,
The human eye is beautifully adapted to human needs and human enjoyment, yet only when aided by the telescope and the microscope, do we discover those wonders of nature which hold us in mute astonishment. The naked eye gathers in much of the glory that surrounds us, but unaided it cannot explore the seeming secrets of nature.
Assisted by the telescope men view the distant heavenly bodies, and study their order of arrangement, magnitudes, distances, motions, periods of revolution, eclipses, etc., and the causes of their various phenomena; and aided by the microscope we are enabled to study forms of earthly life and agencies of power invisible because of their minuteness. Thus telescopic and microscopic vision together display the glory of God's work. But suppose the eye were so formed as to have naturally both the telescopic and microscopic vision; would it be to human advantage? No, the vision of immensity, were it continually spread before us, would be wearisome to eye and brain, and leave no field for investigation and the joy of finding something new; and the constant vision of infinitesimal matter and life would mar almost every thing of beauty.
As the natural eye is aided by the telescope and the microscope, to behold the wonders of the material universe, so we find the Word of God furnishing both the telescope and the microscope of divine truth. By the aid of the divine telescope we have been enabled to view God's plan as a whole, and to see that it contemplates the highest perfection, glory, and permanent establishment, of all things in the heavens and in the earth. By its aid we are enabled also to study the order of God's plan, to estimate the relative magnitudes of his various promises, to compute the distances in time, to observe the orderly motions in the various parts of God's plan, to mark the periods of the revolving ages and dispensations, and also to discover the causes by which such changes are brought about.
You who have learned to use it, adjust your telescope again, that you may view the wondrous plan of God, which is wide as the material universe which he created, and includes in its gracious provisions all of his creatures both heavenly and earthly.
Viewing it as a whole, we have seen its order to be, first creation; secondly, discipline and development; thirdly perfection, blessedness and eternal glory. We first find that Jehovah's direct creation began and ended in his Son, our Lord and Saviour, the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the ending, the first and the last. – Rev. 22:13. [R919 : page 2]
He was the first and only begotten, and by him as Jehovah's agent, is all the divine purpose to be accomplished (Rev. 1:8). In the works of creation he was Jehovah's active agent – "all things were made by him and without him was not anything made" (John 1:3). And now we find him the agent in the development and perfecting of all things. It was Jehovah's power delegated to the Son, and it was Jehovah's glorious plan which he delighted to accomplish. All glory and praise then to Jehovah's infinite wisdom and power and boundless love displayed in his marvelous plan, and honor and praise to Jesus, who delighted to accomplish his will, though it cost him humiliation unto death – even the death of the cross; and praise again to the Father who hath therefore highly exalted him and made him partaker of the divine nature and given him all power in heaven and in earth – that henceforth all may honor the Son even as they honor the Father also. [R920 : page 2] Let glory, honor and praise echo and re-echo to the utmost bound of the vast created universe, planned by Jehovah and accomplished by his power through his worthy, well beloved, and highly honored Son, the beginning and the ending, the first and the last, the Alpha and Omega of his creation. The Father's delight is in the Son, and the Father's glory is manifested in him. Yet the glory of the Son never has and never will eclipse the glory of the Father. The Father has declared, "I am Jehovah: that is my name; and mine honor to another I give not." (Isa. 42:8.) The Son never attempted to diminish the Father's glory, but always to add to it, saying, "My Father is greater than I," and it is my delight to do his will. (John 14:28, Psa. 40:8, John 4:34.) The glory of the wondrous plan, displayed in creation, redemption, restitution, and eternal perfection and glory of all things in heaven and in earth, belongs chiefly and primarily to Jehovah, and secondarily to his Son, who has been the honored chief instrument in its accomplishment.
Leaving our observations of his creative work, we turn to view the great plan for the discipline and development of his intelligent creatures. We have seen that all were created perfect, yet free to choose good or evil, and that for wise and benevolent purposes in God's economy, evil has been permitted to run its dreadful course in the human race and among some of the angels. We see also that the great plan for human redemption and restoration, is so far reaching in its results as to finally settle the great controversy between good and evil for all time and for all creatures. Evil is now permitted to exist and flourish for purposes of discipline and development, and when this is accomplished, it shall be forever banished, never again to mar the face of God's finished work.
But again, leaving these observations, turn your telescope to the still more distant future. Dimly outlined because of its greater distance, the glorious future of eternal blessedness bursts upon our enraptured vision, beginning at the close of the Millennium with the great jubilee of jubilees, the jubilee of the universe, when Christ shall have put all enemies under his feet (1 Cor. 15:25). There all tears shall have been wiped away, and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain, for the former things will have passed away. And God himself will be with them and be their God. – Rev. 21:3,4.
Having taken these telescopic observations of the outlines of God's great plan, we note the order of its development, and from the data furnished in the Scriptures, and our observations of passing events, we are enabled to compute the distance in time, even to the final consummation – to the great jubilee of jubilees. We have already marked the completed revolution of several great dispensational periods, and now realize that we are in the ending of another and just approaching the dawn of the Day of Christ, whose blessed reign shall wipe out the last vestige of evil and usher in the universal jubilee.
As we study these great revolutions in their minor details, we discover the principles and causes of their movements. We see that the first dispensation, under the ministration of angels, completed its revolution at the time of the flood, proving the inability of angelic power to rescue man (Heb. 2:2,5); we see the law dispensation closing at the first advent of Christ, proving the inability of man to save himself by obedience to the law; now we see also the gospel dispensation ending, completing the selection of God's anointed priest, who alone can accomplish the great work. At the same time we see the reign of evil completing its course. In all these great and the many minor movements of the various agencies of God's plan which have been brought to our attention, we see the one central and unchangeable purpose of God – the final, permanent establishment of righteousness, peace and everlasting bliss on a basis which recognizes the freedom of the individual will, yet by the tender cord of love links that will indissolubly to the divine will as the only condition of everlasting life and favor.
Seeing the grandeur of the work to be accomplished through our Lord Jesus, and the high honor bestowed upon him by the Father, we are enabled to estimate, to some extent, the exceeding great and precious promises to the members of his church – the "eternal weight of glory" to be shared by his joint-heirs. And indeed this is the chief object and value of these glorious telescopic visions of the divine purpose; and that we may be encouraged to pursue the narrow way to its end, we should take frequent observations. Astronomers, as they study the material universe, become completely absorbed in it, and seem to live in an atmosphere and to be filled with a joy above other men; but how much more inspiring are the views which we have been permitted to take, and the wonderful truths and calculations deduced from them? Here is a science which towers above every other, and a philosophy which, divinely directed, probes the hitherto hidden things of God.
But, none can enter the watch-tower of Zion, or use the divine telescope, who do not come with meek and teachable spirit, with consecrated hearts, and a student's purpose to know the truth. To such the Lord will blessedly disclose the riches of his grace.
But what of the microscope? Thus far we have only been glancing briefly at the telescopic visions of God's Word; but what, in comparison, we may term the microscopic views, also wondrously declare the glory of God. They declare his glory most emphatically to the natural man, for they are such as the natural man can more readily grasp and accept. These relate to the natural man, and his restoration to human perfection. The telescopic views are chiefly for those who are "new creatures" and heirs together with Christ. We turn the telescope heavenward, the microscope earthward; and the latter discloses the promises of restitution. Close examination shows the blessedness of that restored estate – perfect human nature – and the necessary discipline to lead the race to it; the judgments of God in the punishments of the wicked for their correction, and rewarding the righteous; and the doom pronounced against present evil systems, ecclesiastical, civil and social, which, defying the power of the Almighty, bind and oppress mankind.
These microscopic views disclose to the vision of faith a physical earth that shall be man's Paradise restored – "The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad ...and the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose. It shall blossom abundantly and rejoice even with joy and singing. The glory of Lebanon shall be given unto it, the excellency of Carmel and Sharon....And the parched ground shall become a pool, and the thirsty land springs of water." They point us to the fact that all obstacles shall be removed from the way to holiness – "No lion shall be there, nor any ravenous beast shall go up thereon; it shall not be found there, but the redeemed shall walk there." They show that all eyes and ears shall be opened to receive the truth, to be instructed in the right ways of the Lord – "Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. Then shall the lame leap as a hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing." They tell of the joyful progress of mankind toward perfection under that wise and beneficent reign of Christ – "And the ransomed of the Lord shall return and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads; they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away." – Isa. 35.
Thus these microscopic views reveal the blessed transformation which not only awaits mankind, but which also awaits the earth, which was "made to be inhabited."
"And still new beauties do we see,
And still increasing light."
Let every child of God search out these treasures of divine truth, long buried by divine wisdom, for our present comfort and joy, and proclaim to the world the blessed assurance that its paradise is to be restored, and that the great Restorer is soon to begin the glorious work.
Truth on every subject has always met with opposition. Science and philosophy have had to contend for every inch of footing gained. The use of the telescope and microscope were once condemned as improper prying into God's secrets. And none the less is the searching of the Scriptures, thus making use of the Divinely-given telescope and microscope, opposed to-day on the very same ground – an improper prying into the mysteries of God. Blinded indeed is that child of God who cannot discern such sophistry, and the dark source from whence such suggestions come. Does our Father give us a revelation of his will and purposes, and forbid our study of it? Let us search and see, and be filled with the spirit and inspiration of these blessed truths; so shall we be enabled to run joyfully and with patience the race set before us.
The fool hath said, there is no God;
And skeptics sanction with a nod;
Because the churchling cannot tell
Why God has made a burning hell:
A burning hell, and full of woe,
Into which the race must go:
A place where Satan rules supreme;
Where Saints look on calm and serene:
A place where all must howl in rage,
Except the few whom grace engaged –
A few whom God is pleased to save,
And plant above the fiery wave,
To view with joy and happiness,
Their brethren in their deep distress.
No deep concern in these is found
For fallen man in misery bound.
A drop of water is asked in vain,
And scoffed at by the elect train.
A wailing host bemoan their fate;
A chosen few laugh, ah! too late!!
An idol, grim, o'errules, with rod,
This scene of riot, as a God.
Is this your God? Not such I own
Whose will in heaven and earth be done.
Man views himself and sees within
A noble creature marred by sin;
But from the debris of the wreck
A promise rises as a speck,
And in the darkness of that day,
Shines as a dim lamp, far away:
Amid that darkness as of night,
The lamp gives forth a feeble light.
In course of time the promised oil,
In this same lamp makes night recoil;
The night will flee, but leave behind
A lasting lesson to mankind –
A lesson in which he learns to know
The awfulness of sin and woe;
Of death, and what it cost to save
Man from the power of the grave.
There is a God, the humble say,
Whose plan reveals a coming day,
In which His Judgment will disclose
The cause of all our pain and woes.
When Christ, the Mighty One, shall be
The king of heaven, and earth and sea,
His Saints shall share with him the Throne,
With Him shall reign, from zone to zone.
The scepter wielded in His name,
Shall make the nations know His fame.
His power shall reach from land to land,
And lead sin's captives by the hand
From out the charnel-house of death,
To reinstate them by His breath.
In that great age the Law will be
So clear and plain that all can see
Its purpose, and His right to reign,
And Law and Order to maintain.
When thus far God's revealed plan
Shall have been wrought with sinful man,
Then each abiding soul shall claim
A right to live in Jesus' name.
But he, who will the Law abuse,
Shall be cast out as base refuse;
Deprived of life, deprived of breath,
A victim to the "Second Death."
When every soul which Jesus bought,
Shall have been to perfection brought,
The Age of glory will begin,
With man forever freed from sin.
No evil then will mar the race,
The cause of it will have no place;
For God has said and cannot lie,
The soul that sins shall surely die.
Hence into the lake of burning fire,
He casts the tempter with all his ire,
From which there can be no salvation,
It simply means – annihilation.
A glorious host exulting sing
Hosannas to the heavenly King,
Whose plan to full perfection brought,
By far transcends their highest thought.
Is this your God? Him do I own:
His will in earth and heaven be done.
"THEIR fear toward me is taught by the precept of men." – Jehovah (Isa. 29:13).
ENDEAVOR to be always patient with the faults of others, for thou hast faults and imperfections of thine own that require a reciprocation of forbearance. If thou art not able to make thyself that which thou wishest to be, how canst thou expect to mould another in conformity to thy will? – Kempis.
"I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God unto salvation – to every one that believeth." – Rom. 1:16.
The gospel, the good news or good tidings, is so good and so grand, that those who really see and understand it, have no occasion for feeling shame when they tell to others all they can of its height and depth, and length and breadth.
It needs no apology on God's part, neither on the part of any of his ambassadors. In this respect it differs from all human theories which claim to be the gospel; for all schemes of human origin are necessarily imperfect, like their formulators. Of God's work alone can it be said, "His work is perfect." His thoughts are not as our thoughts, nor his ways as our ways; for as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are his ways higher than our ways, and his thoughts higher than our thoughts. – Isa. 55:9.
Much is taught by those claiming to be true shepherds of God's flock which God has never authorized – much that misrepresents his character and plan. To ascertain, therefore, what is God's truth we must have some way to decide what is human theory, and what is really the plan of God, which he declares is much higher than human expectation.
Some feel bound to take some very generally received view and therefore inquire, What do the majority of mankind believe? But they soon find that the vast majority are heathens who have purely their own human ideas, and are entirely unguided by a divine revelation. The next inquiry is, What do those believe who accept of the Bible as a divine revelation of God's plan? When the answer comes, that those who accept the Word [R922 : page 3] of God, are divided into hundreds of sects and factions, some larger and some smaller, some older and some newer, and that these contradict each other and oppose each other on almost every point of doctrine, while all have earnest advocates, and include among their adherents some pious, God-fearing people, the question becomes a most perplexing one – Which of these sects of Christendom is right?
Interviewing the various sects we are warmly received, and by each assured that they have the matter right – they have the "good tidings of great joy" and know well the great plan of the Infinite God. And then they begin to tell us, some with one modification and some with another, that the good news which God has declared shall be for all people, is really good news for only a few, and dreadful in the extreme for the vast majority. They tell us that the vast majority are to be tortured unpityingly throughout ages of ages – eternity; and that a "little flock" a mere "remnant" or "handful," is to be saved from that awful torture (whether by an election with which they have nothing to do, or whether otherwise chosen, these sects do not agree). And the eternal and monotonous service of this handful of favored ones shall be to watch their groaning, agonizing, tortured fellow beings, among them close relatives and dear friends, and the meanwhile sing praises to God for such a manifestation of his love (?) and justice (?). To do so, their tender feelings of sympathy and compassion would have to be changed to feelings of fiendish brutality – otherwise they could not enjoy such an eternity.
We confess that if offered our choice between the two classes, whether we would be with such a God to all eternity and hypocritically sing his praises, while witnessing such fiendish torturing of fellow creatures, perpetuated by his will and power, to gratify such horrible malignity, or whether we would choose to honestly denounce his injustice, and to share the torture, we know not which would be preferable. Surely we would a thousand times prefer to be blotted from existence, rather than share in such a carnival of horror, anguish and woe. Ah! there is no "good tidings" about that message. Not only is the joy for all people lacking, but it contains joy for none. Satan himself would weary of such horrors and diabolic pleasures, before eternity had fairly begun.
Heart-sick, we turn from their revolting description, inquiring if this be the "good tidings of great joy which shall be to all people," what would bad tidings be, in their estimation? With confusion and a blush of shame, our friends begin to apologize for God and his plan, and finally they confess, that they do not understand it, and that their Confessions of Faith contradict their own sentiments of justice and right, that they received their ideas largely through the traditions of their forefathers, from which they only find relief in the thought, that the Judge of all the earth will do right. – Gen. 18:25.
Ah! well we know that their hearts are better, purer, more just and more Godlike, than their creeds. Thank God that it is so. But as reasonable beings why accept and teach that which their own hearts as well as the Scriptures brand as a most wicked slander and blasphemy on the character of the God they worship, and whom in spite of their false theology they love? All should see that such confusion of thought and such misrepresentation of the character and plan of God comes of the blinding influence of Satan through sects and creeds. And why blindly support the various clashing creeds which your conscience in spite of long years of training, declares unjust, ungodlike and unholy, and a libel against the all-wise and benevolent Jehovah? It is very evident that such a message is not the gospel, not the "good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people." It is very bad tidings – the most awful tidings which ever reached the ears of men. But thank God, this is not his message, his gospel. It originated with the great Adversary of God and men, who took advantage of man's fallen condition, selfish ambitions, etc., mixed these horrible and distorting errors with a little truth, called it gospel and placed it in the hand of Papacy, who in turn caused all nations to drink of her mixed wine of "wrath" (Rev. 18:3). Her message has intoxicated the world, taken away reason and blinded the eyes of men to the truth.
If this doctrine of eternal torment were true, it would be better far that man had never been created; for the torture of billions of beings eternally could never be compensated for by the joys (?) of others witnessing their torture, even if the numbers were reversed – if the few were in torture and the majority witnesses in glory. In fact, for those of noble mind and impulses to witness the tortures of others, would more than mar every joy; it would be torture to them, from which they would gladly escape in annihilation.
If such be the natural feelings of fallen, imperfect men, what would be the sentiments of the perfect man, as originally created – in the likeness of God? To worship such a God, as we have described to us by the various Christian sects, to sympathize with such a plan, and to be in full harmony with it, would require the obliteration of every impulse of love and pity, the extinction of every noble trait and feeling. The logic of such a gospel would be to prove the great Creator an arch-fiend, cruel and malignant in the extreme. And all who now are seeking nearness to God and to his spirit would need to be changed to fiends also, to enjoy witnessing such an awful, eternal carnival of torture.
But thank God! His ways and plans are higher, not lower than ours, and even our best minds and most just and noble hearts, need the direction and inspiration of his Word to enable us to grasp even measurably, the heights and depths and lengths and breadths of that wisdom, love and power which his glorious plan reveals. We must enter into closest sympathy, before we can see what God has wrought and praise him as we ought.
The great cloud of error which overspread the plan of God in the second and third centuries, and which deepened into a death pall under Papacy's supremacy, has been but partly cleared away since the thunder-storm of the Reformation, and nothing will scatter it fully, until the Sun of Righteousness shall be fully risen. But now in the dawn of that grand Day the "friends" of God are privileged to see and know concerning his plans, that which the masses of God's professed children, blinded by the various obscuring influences and agencies of Satan – priestcraft, tradition, etc., cannot yet see.
The gospel which the apostles preached was not such bad tidings, and they were not ashamed of it and had no need to blush or apologize for any part of it. Nor did they keep back a part: Paul declares, "I have not shunned to declare unto you all the council of God." (Acts 20:27.) In every part of it he could greatly rejoice, and of none of it was he ashamed. In all of this whole council of God, Paul said not one word about the everlasting torture, mental or physical, of a single member of the human family. Why? Because that is no part of God's plan. Not one creature that God has made will be tortured everlastingly. The thought is absurd in the extreme and contradictory not only to every element of the divine likeness in us, but contradictory to every testimony of God's word. The theory is supported only by creeds, formulated in the darkness of past centuries by mistaken men, who had not fully escaped from the influence of Rome's mixed wine of wrath, many of whom undoubtedly were conscientious and all of them probably much better than their creeds – much more just and benevolent than they represented God to be.
Even in the Bible this blasphemous doctrine has sought to entrench itself, putting a gloss and coloring upon certain passages, favorable to this wrath-intoxicated view, as for instance the misuse of the words hell, damnation, etc., which, with the meaning generally attached, grossly misrepresent the true sense of the Greek and Hebrew terms. (See TOWER for May, 1886.) They have succeeded also through hymns and commentaries and catechisms in twisting and coloring some of the parables and "dark sayings" of our Lord and certain parts of the symbolism of the book of Revelation (which book as a whole they do not profess to understand), so that under this false light these seem to favor their bad-tidings. But when the light of the knowledge of the goodness and glory of God, shining in the face of Jesus Christ, shines into our hearts and illuminates our understanding, it makes every parable and every symbol eloquent in the praise of divine justice, wisdom, love and power; and to form part of the "Good-tidings of great joy, which shall [sometime] be to all people."
Thank God, all who thus see light in his light, from his standpoint, are "not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ." The question then arises, Whence this light, by which we may see the glory of God, in the harmony and symmetry of his plan. If none of the various sects claiming to be the church of Christ possess it, where shall we look for it? We answer, It beams from
While education and habit of thought have much to do with our way of looking at matters, yet to suppose that honest minded men, whose sole desire is to learn the will and plan of God could each go to the Bible, desiring to there be taught of God, and then arrive at all the dissimilar religious views we see about us, would [R923 : page 3] certainly imply one of two things: either that God's Word is not a revelation, but a deceiving enigma – a labyrinth of confusion, or else that man in his fallen condition is so wretchedly twisted, that it is impossible for him to reason with his Creator or to understand the Scriptures.
But the Lord and the Apostles as well as common sense contradict both of these views. Paul says "The holy Scriptures are able to make thee wise" – "That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished." (2 Tim. 3:15-17.) And our Lord said, "If any man will do his [my Father's] will, he shall know of the doctrine" (John 7:17). Consequently we must look elsewhere for the fault, the cause of this discord of jarring sects and creeds. And if it is not the Bible that is to blame, it must be that professed Bible students do not study it properly. Yes, it is here that the fault lies. Earnest, zealous, Christian men and women come to the Bible with prejudiced minds, full of creeds and theories of various sects, to which they are strongly attached by [R923 : page 4] chains of veneration, and habit, and family ties, and social ties, and fears, and pride, and spiritual laziness. They come to the Bible not to be taught of God, but to prove to themselves and others, that their theories or the theories of their sect ARE RIGHT. And by ignoring passages or their contexts, which do not suit their views, and by bending and straining others, each seeker generally gets what he seeks, and confirms himself in his prejudices. At the same time, thank God, he that seeketh truth and submits his own will, and the theories of all others, to the light of God's Word, desiring to find the truth and to discover the error, is not left in darkness, doubt and confusion, but "shall know of the [true] doctrine."
Nor should we ignore the assistance of any of God's children in seeking an understanding of the Scriptures, but we should give attention to them only so far and so long, as they teach and explain the Bible, in harmony with the Bible. Whenever we find a brother, a teacher, either of high or low degree, in learning or talents, ABLE TO EXPOUND and to harmonize the Bible with itself, our attention should be earnestly given; for such a one is a teacher sent of God, and we are safe so long as we prove all things by the Word of God, and accept of theories and interpretations not because of the teacher, but because of the Scriptures, which his teachings show forth and harmonize.
But religious teachers of to-day would be almost ignored, if this rule were followed, for they know little of the Bible except some passages committed to memory in youth, and some looked out for special occasions. And three-fourths of all the discourses, delivered in Christian pulpits, if examined by the average hearer in the light of the text chosen and its connections with the preceding and succeeding verses, would be found at wide variance and often directly contradictory of the Word of God. But satisfied with their sect, the many "at ease in Zion" think not of searching the Scriptures, nor of proving or disproving the doctrines proclaimed.
As for the teachers, with many it is a business or rather a "profession" merely. They were taught in seminaries not how to search the Scriptures, but the reverse – not to study the Bible, nor to expect to learn anything from it; for if they should learn anything new by their search, it would of necessity be something their sect would not endorse, and hence they would come in conflict with their party and its theology and be cut off. They are taught the theology of the sect controlling the seminary, and are expected to know and teach neither more nor less so long as they are in its ministry. In fact, generally they are bound by a solemn vow to believe and teach according to the creed of the sect strictly. Why then should they urge their students to "Search the Scriptures?" Rather, like the Church of Rome their influence is exerted to restrain investigation within the sectarian limits. With the implied threat of disfellowship, they urge their ministers and students not to search continually for truth, but to accept the voice of their sect as infallible. They do not openly proclaim their sectarian infallibility and the bondage of their ministers for very shame, remembering that this was the very ground on which their founders originally protested against the church of Rome, claiming the right of individual judgment in the interpretation of the Scriptures – hence the name Protestants.
Were it not for this sectarian influence over the members and teachers of the sects, how quickly might all the saints who hunger and thirst after truth come into unity and harmony of spirit and doctrine – all teachable and all "taught of God." The Word of God would be more reverenced and would be "quick and powerful," while an "ear-tickling," world-serving, sect-bound clergy would be justly despised. This state of things is even now at the doors. The reason it is not more noticeable is, that the saints, the truth-seekers, are comparatively few, the great mass of the nominal church (all sects) being children of the world, unconsecrated, deceived by their teachers into the false assumption that they are Christians, and that by joining the sect and adding to its numbers and wealth they are joining the real Church of Christ, whose "names are written in heaven."
The real gospel is like a tree, it has a trunk or central part and out of this central glad tidings as branches, proceed various favors, each of which is a special additional feature of the "glad-tidings." The trunk, the primary "good tidings," is the news of our ransom: That Christ died for our sins, and thus redeemed us from sin and its penalty, death, by paying a corresponding price (1 Tim. 2:6) for Adam and all his race. And in consequence of this redemption he shall in due time deliver all from the dominion of sin and death into the liberty and favors of children of God, forfeited for all by Adam. The assurance which this gives is, that all that was lost through Adam shall be restored through Christ, who declares that he came into the world to seek and to save that which was lost.
Adam held the blessings and favors of God (life, etc.) conditionally: If obedient, he might enjoy life and home and divine favor forever. His failure terminated his trial, and God sentenced him to death as unworthy to ever enjoy the blessings originally offered to him. Our Lord Jesus redeemed all the race from that condemnation, by enduring the death penalty for all as the representative of Adam, and thus he provides a renewal of the original favor of life, and renews the trial, making it this time an individual test of worthiness or unworthiness to enjoy the divine favors everlastingly, the condition again being obedience.
God's plan is, to make the sinner a party to his own recovery, by arranging that an interest in Christ's meritorious sacrifice, our ransom price, can be had upon one condition only, namely: The sinner must desire and strive for reconciliation with God and must recognize Jesus' sacrifice as the only ground for that reconciliation. In other words faith in the ransom is made as indispensable to the sinner's salvation from condemnation, as the giving of the ransom. Being thus justified by faith in Christ, he is granted a new trial for everlasting life, the condition of which is obedience to the extent of ability, as step by step they are directed and disciplined up to full perfection of being. Hence the importance of telling all men of the redemption accomplished, and the importance also of their accepting the message by faith. Everyone believing in him shall not be ashamed. Whosoever shall call for mercy and reconciliation, upon the name of the Lord, shall be saved, recovered, to that which was lost. But none can call upon the Lord without knowing of him; hence the necessity not only that Christ should give "himself a ransom for all," but also that it should be "TESTIFIED [to all] in due time." Compare Rom. 10:13-15 with 1 Tim. 2:6.*
So then this message, that a ransom has been given for all, which guarantees a restitution of great privileges and favors once forfeited, is the very center and body of the "good tidings," and it is proclaimed in order that sinners may believe it and thus obtain its favor of reconciliation and a new trial for life. But so fallen and prejudiced has mankind become, that he is an easy prey to his great enemy, Satan, who blinds the eyes of the vast majority, so that they cannot and do not see the simplicity and beauty of the divine remedy for sin and its sting – death. He blinds many with superstition and degradation, many more with priest-craft and false theologies, which misrepresent and distort the plan of God; and those in a fair way to receive the light, he blinds and chokes with thorns of care and thistles of wealth, so that few thus far have really heard with unprejudiced ears this gospel of great joy, which shall yet be unto all people.
So then, if there be not a future time more favorable to their hearing than the present, the "good tidings" would not be "to all people." But the plan of God provides for all and the ransom covered all and the declaration is, that it "shall be to all people;" and this implies not only a testifying, but also a hearing. This implies [R924 : page 4] also an awakening from death of those who have not heard, and also the binding or restraining of Satan's power at such a time, so that all may hear of God's favor, call for the favor he provides, be reconciled to God through the death of His Son, and have their second or individual trial for life everlasting.
Meantime God knew of the blinding influences of the world, the (fallen) flesh and the devil, and could have counteracted them as easily during the Gospel age as in the Millennial age, but another feature of his plan made proper the permission of Satan and evil until the end of this age. This part of the plan constitutes an additional feature of the gospel or "good tidings," which applies not directly to all people as the other, but to a "few," a "little flock." This feature or branch of the gospel is concerning a "high calling," a "heavenly calling." It is not independent of the other "good tidings" however; quite the reverse, it grows out of the good tidings of the ransom, as a branch grows out of a tree trunk, and yet rests in it as a foundation. In this figure of a tree the roots illustrate the divine wisdom, love, justice, and power, which though entirely out of sight, are the real sources of every favor and blessing, which has been or shall yet be developed in the full completion of the plan of redemption. The main central branch, representing the call during the gospel age of the little flock to the divine nature, is an ingrafted branch, whose fruitage will be very choice, (the few of the divine nature), while the many natural branches, proceeding from the trunk of this tree, will represent the manifold favors and blessings of God; and the fruit from these brought to perfection will be humanity in general. As in our figure every branch, natural or ingrafted, depends upon the nourishment supplied by the root, through the TRUNK, so all favors are from and directly supplied to us by divine wisdom, love and power, the root which holds and supplies all favor, and yet all comes through the RANSOM, which our Lord Jesus gave for all, which is the central trunk. A branch or twig, attempting to grow up out of the roots directly and not out of the trunk, we call a "sucker." It can bring no fruit to maturity and is cut off. So every one attempting to deal directly with the divine supply, ignoring the ransom, is cut off as a thief and a robber.
During this age the natural (favors) branches have been kept pruned off, so that they could not bear fruit until the special or ingrafted branch "of the divine nature" had brought forth its fruit – the "little flock," "the body of Christ." Their portion is that of favor added to favor, good tidings added to good tidings. Redeemed and reconciled and offered a new trial for life, like all the rest of their race, these who have heard and accepted during this age, have been invited to become joint-heirs with Christ in his glory and honor and kingdom to come, by which Satan will be bound, and the "good tidings" of ransom and restitution made known to all, for faith and acceptance. With Christ, their Redeemer, as well as their chief or head, these are now being prepared by obedience and suffering and trials of faith and patience for opening the blind eyes, unstopping the deaf ears, and lifting up the fallen, until all shall know the Lord from the least to the greatest – until the knowledge of the Lord shall fill the whole earth, until all branches of divine favor, proceeding out of the ransom for all, shall have brought forth as fruitage a perfect race enjoying all that was lost and redeemed.
Even now amid opposition and weaknesses and discouragements, at the cost of much self-sacrifice the members of the body of Christ delight to do what they can of this work of blessing and lifting up the fallen and depraved, and thus they prove themselves worthy of the grander, glorious, and successful service as God's co-workers and ambassadors of the future.
So then we find, that the message which God has sent us, preaching peace and life by the blood of the cross to every one that believeth, is indeed the central good tidings. And since it shall be testified to all in due time, we see, how it will be good tidings "to all people." This is the "everlasting [good news] gospel," mentioned in the symbol of Rev. 14:6. It already is being sounded forth and must during the Millennial age now dawning, reach every nation and kindred and tongue and people.
Paul says, that God declared this gospel beforehand to Abraham, in the promise: "In thee and thy seed [Christ, and his little flock of overcomers – members of his body, Gal. 3:16,29] shall all the families of the earth be blessed. – Gen. 28:14. This good tidings, given to Abraham, is exactly the same we here present, the blessing is the reconciliation and a second trial under most favorable circumstances for all the families of the earth, secured by God's favor through the ransom for all, given by Christ. The message to Abraham, of the blessing of the world, incidentally hints at the "high calling," showing the "seed" to be highly exalted as God's agency for blessing all. And Paul points out this seed, saying – "Which seed is Christ" (Gal. 3:16); and "If ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed and heirs [of this high honor] according to the promise." – Gal. 3:29.
When the angels announced the birth of our Saviour (though they saw not the philosophy of the divine plan of redemption and reconciliation, as God has since revealed it to his saints by his spirit) they added the Hallelujah chorus, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men." They sang prophetically of the grand outcome of the message they bore, the "good tidings of great joy, which shall be unto all people."
This is indeed the glad tidings, and who that realizes it as such, does not feel that God's plans are higher than man's plans, and his ways higher than man's ways. With the Apostle Paul we may well with reverence exclaim, Oh, the depths of the riches both of the knowledge and wisdom of God!
"I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ... for [i.e. because] therein is the righteousness [justice] of God revealed to [our] faith, for [our further] faith." – Rom. 1:16,17.
While the gospel which Paul preached was "good tidings" to men, it was tidings which did not dishonor God, but on the contrary showed forth and magnified his justice and his law. Suppose Paul had preached, saying – "Ho sinners! God sends you a message of joy, that he has concluded, that the original sentence upon mankind – death – was too severe, and he now sends you a word of promise, that he will release you and restore you to life by a resurrection, shortly. So many of you as believe, rejoice and enter his service." Such a message would have been good tidings to men, but therein would be revealed not the justice [righteousness] of God, but injustice, unrighteousness. Such a message would be an admission of error and injustice on God's part in the original sentence.
Or secondly, suppose Paul's message had been, "Give ear, O sinners, God now sends you a message of pardon. You are guilty, and under condemnation of death justly; not one feature of the death sentence was unjust or unmerited, but God has changed his plans, and proposes to set aside his own just verdict and allow his love to rule him now, as he at first allowed his justice to rule him. He therefore offers pardon to all who will accept of it, and full restoration to all he once took from us."
Such a message might seem to men to be good tidings, but therein would be revealed unrighteousness, or lack of justice on God's part; for while claiming, that his original sentence was just, he would thus be undoing his own just work, which would be rank injustice. According to Justice it would be as wrong, as unjust [unrighteous], to let a guilty one go free from the just penalty of his guilt, as to punish one not guilty. Justice would be equally violated in either case. So if this had been God's plan, Paul would have been ashamed of it; for therein would have been revealed injustice on God's part.
Besides, if God was sincere and honest and just in his original sentence upon the sinner – death – were he afterward to as sincerely and honestly reverse his own decree and pardon the guilty, it would show change on his part: that he like fallen imperfect [R924 : page 5] human beings is ruled by impulse, whiles just and whiles unjustly loving. If such were our view of our Creator, what dependence could we place upon his promises more than on his threats? If he should change and clear the guilty, whose life he once declared forfeited, might he not change again and rescind and recall the unjust pardon and inflict the just penalty? If he changes his plans even once in six thousand years, we have no security for eternity. Such a plan would leave us as uncertain of God's promises and threatenings, as many earthly children are uncertain of the promises and threatenings of their parents. Such a message, when thus examined, would not really be very good tidings, and Paul would be ashamed of it, for therein would be revealed the unrighteousness and changeableness of God.
Or thirdly, suppose Paul's message had run thus: "Beloved, I have a glorious message for you from God; it is this: God wishes you now to know, that he is about to restore and bless you, and wishes you to come into harmony with him and his arrangements. God in the past has only deceived us, but thus did evil that good might come; but now he will deceive us no more. Adam's trial and fall, and through his fall from divine favor, the fall of all, was a farce, and the sentence of death, dust to dust, pronounced in Eden, was a mere deception. God never meant [R925 : page 5] such a penalty, though he pronounced it. And for thousands of years God has simply been pretending wrath and death against sinners, and has brought pain, and trouble, and death on the world, to carry out his great deception. Really, God never meant what he said, that death should be the wages of sin; and he never will inflict such a penalty – it was all a deception. Now God is telling us the truth, telling us of his love and favor; he is no longer trifling with us; and presently he will remove present evils, which he put upon our race not as a penalty, for we never really and justly deserved it, but he put them upon us as a blessing, which shall be for our good."
What kind of "good tidings" to men would this be? It might be considered good news in that it would hold out a hope of escape from the pretended but unmerited chastisement for sin, never imputed to them by God; but such a message would proclaim God a liar; and any message from so unscrupulous a being would be unworthy of the slightest acceptance or credence. And such a message should not be heeded at all.
So, then, none of these is the gospel of Christ which Paul preached, and of which he was not ashamed; for Paul's message revealed the righteousness, the justice of God, which these do not. Besides, in none of the above is Christ a necessity, though some of our day who preach one or other of the above gospels of the unrighteousness of God, drag into their message the name of Christ and his example. But Paul's message was not good tidings, with which Christ's name and example merely were connected, but good tidings of Christ, making him and his sacrifice the basis or foundation of the good tidings.
And fourthly, let us suppose Paul's message to drag in the name and example of Christ, as so many now preach it and believe it, thus: "Oh! sinners, I come to you with the message of reconciliation! God is pining for your love and favor. He has been trying to draw you to himself for thousands of years, and finally sent his Son to tell you that he loves you and wants you to love him. Do not believe those parts of the Scripture which teach that 'God is angry with the wicked;' ignore those also which speak of the wrath of God now revealed against sin and sinners, in death and misery, as we see them all about us; endeavor to bury your senses and believe that God is not, and never was angry with the wicked; and believe also that death never was and never will be the wages of sin. Cast such Scriptures and facts from your minds, if you find no way of twisting them to fit this message. Then, accept of this as God's message: God wants you to look at Jesus and his perfect, sinless life and to follow his example perfectly. Do this and you shall have life and every favor of God. But you had best, when talking of this matter, use the words Ransom and Sacrifice for sins, often, so as to draw attention away from the fact that this gospel contains no thought of a ransom from guilt, condemnation and death, and no thought of a sacrifice, except it be that each sinner would thus sacrifice his own sins. This thought we could not admit unless by supposing that Christ Jesus was a sinner and sacrificed his sins, and that thus sinners are to follow his example and sacrifice each his own sins. Should this point be noticed by any who do their own thinking, pass it over by saying that the philosophy of the plan of salvation cannot be understood; and thus smother the objections."
Of all the foregoing this is the most deceptive, in that it furnishes greater opportunities for misapplying those scriptures which applied and were given to the Jew under Law, and not under favor in Christ, and those also which mention the privilege of saints, already justified from sin by faith in Christ's blood, to join with Him in sacrifice, becoming so far as possible imitators of him, not in putting away their sins, (He had none and theirs are already reckoned as blotted out), but in sacrificing pleasures and interests not sinful, for the good of others.
This is the weakest of all these four false messages for it embraces all the defects of the others and adds to them. This message ignores the Scriptural penalty for sin, as well as the fact of death, offering no solution for the same. It thus implies, either that no sentence was pronounced and that man has been unjustly punished thus far, or else that God will unjustly ignore, and set aside, and cancel that sentence, having changed his plan. And lastly, after all this, it has no "good tidings" in it; for it lays down conditions which no sinner can comply with: namely, following Christ's example perfectly. No saint (justified from sin and restored to divine favor through faith in the sacrifice for his sin which Christ gave, and supported and helped in every time of need), can hope to follow his Master's example perfectly, and how useless would it be for a sinner to attempt it (unjustified by faith in the ransom, unreconciled, still under condemnation, the merits of Christ not imputed to him, to cover as a robe of righteousness his filthy rags;) and how absurd to tell such to go to God and be reconciled by following the example of Christ. No, there is no good tidings in this to any who can and do use their reasoning powers. They see how the whole Jewish nation for hundreds of years tried to commend themselves to God by good works, yet all failed; and by works and sacrifices none were reconciled or justified. Faith – faith in Christ's finished work on our behalf – a ransom, corresponding price, given for all, is the only ground of reconciliation, on which the sinner can come to God. All his works and sacrifices are blemished, dead and unacceptable, until he is reconciled to God through the death of Christ, the just one who died for the unjust, to bring us to God. Thus we who were as sinners afar off, under condemnation, are brought nigh to God – within reach of divine favors, blessings, and promises, by the blood of Christ. – Eph. 2:13.
The Gospel, the good tidings of great joy which Paul preached, not only did not reveal God as changeable, unreliable, and unrighteous, but on the contrary it did reveal a plan, by which the justice, as well as the love of God came to our rescue, for having so loved us as to provide our ransom, He is just to forgive us our sins once atoned for "by the death of his Son." This gospel admits of our guilt. It admits the death-penalty to be the just wages of sin. It acknowledges the facts of dying and death all about us, as effects of that penalty pronounced upon our perfect representative, of whose condemnation to death we partake by inheritance. It acknowledges that this penalty, being a just one, can never justly be set aside. Paul's gospel shows how the Son of God became a man, perfect and sinless like our representative, and then gave himself a ransom or corresponding price for Adam, and hence for all who were condemned with him, through his failure. This was the foundation fact of Paul's gospel. The second part was, that Christ having thus paid our ransom price, by meeting the full demands of justice, against Adam and all whom Adam represented in his failure – a man for a man – his resurrection in another and higher nature proved that God had accepted and rewarded his sacrifice of himself, by thus creating him again and highly exalting him even to the divine nature; and this not by taking back our ransom price – his sacrificed humanity – but allowing it to remain dead to all eternity, that we might go free. He now lives, the divine Christ, to accomplish for all in due time the blessings which as a ransom for all he secured by his death as "the man Christ Jesus." God can and will now justly, JUSTIFY freely all who call upon him for it, through him who is the "way and the life," who redeemed us with his own blood and now lives, exalted and powerful, in due time to release, restore, and bring back to harmony with God all the redeemed ones who will accept of his favor, when brought to a full knowledge of it. This basis of all that Paul preached, he declares in few words, saying: "I delivered unto you first of all [as the foundation of the gospel] that which I also received [first of all], How that Christ died FOR OUR SINS according to the Scriptures," and rose again the third day for our justification. – 1 Cor. 15:3,4; Rom. 4:25.
Another feature of the Apostle's message built upon this, was, that as the ransom had been given for all, and as believing thereon was the only way by which any could receive the benefits of that ransom (a second chance or trial for life) THEREFORE it must sooner or later be testified to all. – 1 Tim. 2:6.
Another feature of his message was concerning further favor, open to justified believers during the Gospel age, namely, "access into this grace (favor) wherein ye stand," rejoicing "in hope of the glory of God" (Rom. 5:2). Access to justification, divine favor, harmony and peace, came first through faith in the ransom. But next came access to the glory of God, the privilege of becoming heirs of glory, joint-heirs with Jesus Christ, their Lord, on a specified condition: namely, If they would suffer with him. Access to this high calling, this invitation to suffer with Christ now, and afterward to reign with him, and be made like him partaker of the divine nature, was offered not to sinners, but only to those justified from sin through faith in his blood. Faith in his blood changed them from being children of wrath under condemnation, and made them children of God through faith, under his love and favor. And it was not until we ceased to be condemned sinners and became justified human sons of God, that we were invited to sacrifice our human rights and privileges, and reckon ourselves thus followers in Jesus' footsteps, and heirs with him of future glories. [R926 : page 5]
We praise God, then, not only that the time is coming, when the good tidings of great joy, of redemption and forgiveness of sins through him that loved us and bought us with his own precious blood, shall be made known unto ALL PEOPLE, but we praise him also, that the plan he has chosen is wise and just, as well as loving. We thank him that we can see how he can be just while justifying the guilty ones whom he once justly condemned, through him whom he set forth to be the propitiation (satisfaction) for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world. Thanks be to God! Paul was not ashamed of this gospel, and we are not ashamed of this gospel of which we also are made ministers and ambassadors; for therein is revealed the righteousness of God, appealing to our faith as reasonable, and furnishing us a firm foundation for faith and trust in all his future dealings – those revealed to faith and those unseen as yet. Truly it is written, that all who have the harp of God in tune and have gotten the victory over the doctrines of the beast and his image, etc., can sing heartily of this gospel, saying, "Great and marvelous are thy works [plans], Lord God Almighty; JUST AND TRUE ARE THY WAYS." – Rev. 15:2,3.
Nowhere in Scripture is everlasting torment set forth as the wages of sin. The nearest approach to such a declaration is in Matt. 25:46. "These shall go away into everlasting punishment." What the punishment is, is not shown in this connection, except in the symbol "fire" (verse 41). The fire is as much a symbol as the other features of the parable, sheep, goats, etc. Fire is always a symbol of destruction, never a symbol of preservation. The nature of the punishment for willful sin, which is to last forever, is elsewhere stated plainly and explicitly to be death – destruction. "Who shall be punished with [or by] everlasting destruction [i.e. a destruction from which there shall be no recovery – no resurrection] from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his power." (2 Thes. 1:9.) "The wages of sin is death" everlasting, – not life in torment everlasting.
Consider well the fact, that our Lord Jesus took the place of sinners under the first condemnation for sin (Adam's). Had the penalty for sin been "everlasting torment," he, in paying our penalty, would have been compelled to suffer whatever the sinners were condemned to suffer as sin's penalty. It is written, Jehovah hath laid upon him the iniquity of us all. He bore our sins in his own body on the tree. He died the just one for the unjust. He gave himself a ransom – a corresponding price for all.
"He died for our sins," but he did not suffer everlasting torment for our sins. Hence if there was no other evidence on the subject, this alone would prove that "The wages of sin is death" and not everlasting torment.
We have heretofore examined in these columns various figurative passages of the Bible, which from the prejudiced standpoint of early education, seem at first glance to favor everlasting torment. We refer new readers to the following articles in the October, 1886, issue: viz., "Undying Worms and Quenchless Fires," "Turned into Hell," and "The Lake of Fire and Brimstone." See also March, 1886, issue, "As the Serpent Beguiled Eve."
"For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost." – Luke 19:10.
Nearly two thousand years ago Jesus, then present, affirmed this to be his mission; but as yet no visible evidence of its accomplishment appears. The world moves on in its downward course now, as then. Sin and misery triumph still, and century after century plunges successive generations into death. Have we failed to understand the import of the Master's words? or has he been unable to accomplish his purpose? or may it be that his purpose is so far reaching as to be of future fulfillment? With these queries in view, let us consider the subject before us.
The words lost and saved each have a significance known to all: A thing lost is a thing once possessed, and a thing saved is a thing once possessed and then either kept from being lost, or else recovered after having been lost. Jesus said the thing he came to save was the thing that men had lost; and the implication is, that since he had come to save the thing lost, men were unable to save it for themselves, which experience and many scriptures clearly prove. Now if we can determine just what man lost, we will know just what Jesus came to save. Man could not lose what he never had.
Adam, who stood as the representative of our race, had a perfect human organism and a right to everlasting continuance of life, on condition of obedience to God. He was privileged to enjoy all the delights of his Eden home, and the communion and blessings of God; in short, all the privileges that everlasting life under perfect human conditions is capable of enjoying and looking forward to were his.
All this Adam lost through sin, both for himself and for his posterity. Home, happiness, communion with God, health, and life itself, were lost. Consequently, mankind lies in utter wreck and ruin, dead and dying. In having lost his right to life, he fell under the dominion of death, whose successive steps of misery, depravity, sickness and pain, end in total extinction of being, from which he can never recover himself.
Jesus came then to save and restore that which was lost; to restore man to his original (human) perfection, and to communion with God, to give him back his paradise restored, and all the pleasing prospects of future blessings that accumulating ages can bestow, and that the powers [R926 : page 6] of perfect humanity will be capable of enjoying. What! does some one say, Is so much implied in those words of our Lord? Yes; this is one way in which our Lord foretold the restitution of all things. All this is implied in the word saved. Think of it; could the words mean less than this? Certainly not; and, from this and many other scriptures, we have learned to trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe. (1 Tim. 4:10.) There is a special salvation for some, as well as a general salvation for all men, as Paul here intimates, but we are not considering the special salvation now.
In the above text, Jesus was speaking of the general salvation of all men – the saving of that which was lost. For God "will have all men to be saved and to come unto the knowledge of the truth." (1 Tim. 2:4.) When men are actually saved, their restored existence will be as at first, dependent on obedience under trial for its continuance, and obedience will be easy and productive of constant happiness when evil and temptation are finally removed, and the great deceiver and tempter is bound and finally destroyed, and when the law of God is written in their hearts. – Jer. 31:33.
But, we might inquire, when does our text indicate that Jesus will thus save the lost? However crude and indefinite the ideas of the Jews and the early disciples at first were concerning the promised salvation, they had learned both from the prophets and from Jesus' teaching, that it would be accomplished, when the kingdom of God should come. And when Jesus stated that he had now come to save the lost, they at once concluded that the Kingdom of God should immediately appear.
Because they had drawn this inference, and to correct their false impression, Jesus spoke a certain parable, the import of which was, that he must first go away and receive for himself the kingdom, and return. "And he called ten servants of his and gave them ten pounds, and said unto them, Trade ye herewith till I come." (Luke 19:13. R.V. and Diaglott and Rotherham's translation.) They, in the meantime, as faithful servants, were to use the talents entrusted to them according to his directions, and in the interest of his cause and of his coming kingdom, patiently waiting for their reward at his coming.
But Jesus implied that in some sense he came at that time, to save the lost – "The Son of Man is come," etc. And in one sense it was true, for he then purchased them with his own precious blood, and though not yet liberated from the prison of death, they may be truly reckoned as saved ever since their ransom was paid; for their raising out of death was from that moment made sure. Just as you might say of a pardoned criminal, that he is a saved man, although even he himself may not yet know of his pardon nor have yet experienced a release.
Though no one is actually saved now, yet the Scriptures speak of believers as now saved by hope; that is, by accepting of God's promises as unquestionably sure, they may reckon themselves as already fully saved; not as merely awakened from death, but as saved from the last vestige of death and sin – as made perfect. "We are saved by hope; but hope that is seen is not hope, for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for?" We do not see our salvation yet, except by faith. "But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it." (Rom. 8:24,25.) Our hope and faith would indeed be vain, unless salvation means much more than we now enjoy.
The Apostle's statements that God "is the Saviour of all men, especially of those that [now] believe," and that God "will have all men to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth," as well as many other scriptures, prove to us that all men are to be saved by Christ from degradation, misery and death now upon all through Adam's disobedience. And yet they show us two classes of saved ones – all mankind and the Church. While all are saved, one class is specially saved. That is, by special arrangement, some (all believers of the gospel age) are reckoned saved in season to run for the prize offered during this age. One class will not be more saved than the other; both the Church and the world will be completely saved from Adam's sin and its penalty: and all the world will realize this in due time, in their restoration to perfect human life, while those reckoned saved now, as though they had already received the perfect human life, are privileged to relinquish this new claim and title to it, presenting it as a sacrifice to God, holy and acceptable to him, when offered in the acceptable time (the gospel age). And being thus sacrificed with Christ, they will be privileged to partake with him of a new nature. (2 Pet. 1:4.) These will receive glory, honor and immortality – the divine nature; while the world in general will receive the glory, honor and blessedness of the perfect human nature, which is an image of the divine (Gen. 1:27). The former class, the church, is specially saved, severely disciplined and highly exalted, that through them the blessings of restitution may flow to all the world, when God's due time shall come.
We see, then, that while the full import of our Lord's words has not been understood by many, and while many believe, that he is unable to save the lost, as he promised to do, the fact is, that his plan was so far reaching that short-sighted dying men, could not measure or comprehend it. As now seen, the truth uttered in those few words required nearly three thousand years for its full accomplishment. At his first advent Jesus gave himself a ransom to save all (1 Tim. 2:6); during the centuries since, he has been developing the class who have in this time followed him in sacrifice, and who are to share with him in the work of saving or restoring all things; and within the coming thousand years the work of saving men will be actually accomplished. If, then, "when we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life." – Rom. 5:10.
Because in God's order men could only be saved by a payment of their penalty which would be the BASIS of their reconciliation and atonement with God, therefore, as a means to an end, we see that Jesus' mission at his first advent was to save in the sense of redeeming, while his second advent will complete the work by restoring to perfection all the redeemed – all for whom Christ died, and by the grace of God he tasted death for every man. – Heb. 2:9.
There is one other thought of special importance in this text. It is that the Son of Man came to seek that which was lost. Now we inquire, Is there any evidence of very earnest seeking of lost ones on the part of our Lord? Some would think not. All men were lost, and this text implies, while John 12:47 clearly declares his purpose to save all; but he said, "I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel." (Matt. 15:24.) He did not seek out any of the lost Gentiles, and charged his disciples not to do so for some years. But Jesus did seek out a certain class – the meek – who were waiting for the promised salvation; and it was his purpose to begin with Jerusalem, to save such as would believe, and to give to those of the seed of Abraham who believed, the first offer of the "high calling." And during the centuries since, he has only been seeking out and saving (reckoning saved) the same class (the meek) among the Gentiles, and making to such believing ones the same offer of the divine nature – a heavenly calling.
But a grander time of seeking is yet to come, for all the millions that are completely lost in death are yet to be sought out and saved. And where shall they be found? Notwithstanding the theories of men to the contrary, the Scriptures plainly teach that in death man's being is dissolved, that he is destroyed, blotted out of existence, that he is nowhere to be found. And with this fact in mind we might inquire with the Prophet Job, "If a man die shall he live again?" With men such a thing seems quite impossible, but "Why should it be thought incredible that God should raise the dead?" (Acts 26:8.) He that was able to create is also able to re-create those once completely destroyed. And through the prophet Isaiah the Lord speaks of the restitution as a new creation, saying "Behold I create new heavens and a new earth" – not the physical earth, for that abideth forever (Eccl. 1:4) – but the world of mankind is to be re-created. And the Lord says: "Be ye glad and rejoice forever in that which I create." (Isa. 65:17,18.) That the restored and re-created being will recognize himself and also his neighbors of former acquaintance, is unquestionably proven by many scriptures (Ezek. 16:61,63; 20:43; 36:31; Zech. 12:10; Psa. 22:27), and illustrated in the few cases where the dead have been measurably restored, as Lazarus and others.
Job answers our question very clearly when he says (chap. 7:21), "Now shall I sleep in the dust; and thou shalt seek me in the morning, [the morning of the resurrection or restitution] BUT I SHALL NOT BE" – I shall be destroyed, blotted out of existence. But nevertheless, though thus destroyed, he says, "Thou shalt call and I will answer thee." (Job 14:15.) Like Lazarus, at the call of Jesus, earth's dead millions shall again spring into existence. David declares the same truth when he says, "Thou turnest man to destruction and [then] sayest, return, ye children of men." And with him we must say, "Bless the Lord, O my soul; who redeemeth thy life from destruction!" (Psa. 90:3; 103:1,4.) O that all the world could now realize the glorious import of those words of our Lord, "The Son of Man is come to seek and to save that which was lost." It was a glorious truth to realize at his first advent, that the plan of God had so far developed that the promised Messiah had actually come to save men by the sacrifice of himself; but it is still more glorious now to realize that our Lord comes a second time, to apply the benefits of that sacrifice, to claim and restore his purchased possessions, to actually and completely save that which was lost.
Perhaps the reader already sees that he has nothing to DO. All that was necessary to procure your salvation was done long ago, before you were born; and in consequence of the redemption provided, all mankind, whether they ever knew it, or believed it or not, are going to be awakened to life again, are going to be saved from the Adamic condemnation. God will have all men to be saved; and though they may never have known him before, to be then brought to a knowledge of the truth – of the love of God exhibited in the gift of his Son as our ransom price.
Well, we seem to hear some one say, that is a strange answer. I thought you would tell me to pray, or to get some Christian friends to pray for me, that I must try to realize that I am the chief of sinners, that I must kneel at a mourner's bench, or something of the kind, but you have not even told me to repent or believe. You simply say that I am saved, and that I have had, and can have nothing to do with it, but to accept of it with thanks and love.
No, friend, we do not say that you are saved, but that you will be saved; and that you have had, and can have nothing to do with the means which procured your salvation. It is a free gift of God, in consequence of which all will be saved or recovered from Adamic condemnation now or in the coming age; but you are in no sense saved now unless you have come to believe in Christ your Redeemer. If you do believe this Bible truth, then you may through that faith reckon yourself as saved now – saved by hope; but you must wait for the actual salvation until God's due time. (2 Thess. 3:5.) Of course faith in and reliance on Christ as your Redeemer implies a realization of your need of a Redeemer, and a repentance and turning from sin. You may have been one of the very chief of sinners, or you may not have been so bad as some others; however you were bad enough to merit the just condemnation of God's law, for he who offends in one point is guilty of all. (James 2:10.) He is a violator of the law, and as a consequence is under condemnation. If you have always lived just as morally and as carefully as you could, you have fallen short of perfection, because of the weakness of nature, you inherited through Adam's fall. (Rom. 5:12.) But though nothing that you have done or could do could save you from death, that which Christ has done procures your release from it.
Paul said, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved." This is the condition on which we receive the reckoned salvation now, and it will also be the condition on which the world will receive their actual full salvation in the age to come. We must bear in mind that the awakening of men from death is only the beginning of their salvation. Not until they have, under the discipline of the next age reached perfection, are they fully saved. Although we might truly say, men are saved when first awakened from death, yet they are not "saved to the uttermost" until brought to full perfection of being. But none will be thus "saved to the uttermost" who do not accept of their release from death as the direct result of the sacrifice of Christ. And realizing this, they must repent of past sins and turn to God. Otherwise they die the second death, from which there is no ransom and no release.
Well, says our inquirer, this seems true and Scriptural, but what advantage is to be gained by being reckoned saved now? Would it not be as well to wait and give ourselves no concern about it, but let God's plan take its course? O no, we answer, there is an advantage, a great advantage to be gained by prompt faith and obedience as soon as we can gain sufficient knowledge on which to base our faith and obedience.
The special privilege of those justified by faith (or reckoned saved) during the gospel age has been their right to present themselves as acceptable sacrifices to God – joint-sacrifices with Jesus Christ, and thereby to become joint-heirs with him of all things. That privilege, we believe, began with the day of Pentecost and ends with the Gospel age.*
While this special privilege was not offered to any before or since that time, another special privilege was granted to believers before this age, and we see no reason why a similar privilege may not be granted to believers after the gospel age is ended. Those justified by faith in past ages will have no need of trial and discipline in the next age, for their judgment is past; and consequently in the instant of their awakening they will be raised to perfect human existence.
A similar blessing, we believe, is in store for those of the world who now repent of sin, believe on the Lord Jesus Christ as their Redeemer and rightful Lord, and wholly turn to God. As heretofore frequently shown, we find that we are now living in the Day of the Lord, in the beginning of the Millennial Age – the Times of Restitution. And since it is appointed for the very purpose of restoring life and all things, we think it possible for such to remain without ever passing into the tomb. For it is just as easy when God's due time comes, to keep men from going into farther death, as it is to raise them out of it. This is not possible in the case of those who are to change their nature and become "new creatures"; it applies only to those justified ones who never started for the high calling. Therefore we should expect that such should in answer to prayer be healed from sickness, etc., but they cannot be brought to full perfection until the saints are first glorified; for "They without us shall not be made perfect." – Heb. 11:40.
Probably very few will come to realize their privilege now. The tendency of the world is more and more towards skepticism, and few can claim this privilege; nevertheless, we believe it to be the privilege of any such who have faith to claim it.
In answer then, to the question, What must I do to be saved? we would say, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved." Your salvation may begin now, and progress until you are restored to the perfection of your being – saved to the uttermost. For "he (Christ) is able to save to the uttermost all that come unto God by him." – Heb. 7:25. [ – ED. D. R. (See R605:4)]