|VOL. XXX||JANUARY 1||NO. 1|
|Views from the Watch Tower||3|
|Opening the Doors of Opportunity||3|
|The Basis of Our Confidence||3|
|"Pay Thy Vows Unto the Most High"||5|
|He Ascended Up On High||5|
|Wait for the Promise||6|
|The Pentecostal Blessing||7|
|The Significance of Pentecost||8|
|Save Yourselves From This Generation||9|
|Joel's Prophecy of Pentecost||10|
|The Word Mediator Used Differently||11|
|Three Great Covenants||11|
|"Help From the Lord"||13|
|Berean Studies on the Atonement||15|
"I will stand upon my watch, and set my foot upon the Tower, and will watch to see what He shall say unto me, and what answer I shall make to them that oppose me." Hab. 2:1
Upon the earth distress of nations with perplexity: the sea and the waves (the restless, discontented) roaring: men's hearts failing them for fear and for looking forward to the things coming upon the earth (society): for the powers of the heavens (ecclestiasticism) shall be shaken. . . .When ye see these things come to pass, then know that the Kingdom of God is nigh at hand. Look up, lift up your heads, rejoice, for your redemption draweth nigh. – Luke 21:25-28, 32.
Our "Berean Lessons" are topical rehearsals or reviews of our Society's published "Studies," most entertainingly arranged, and very helpful to all who would merit the only honorary degree which the Society accords, viz., Verbi Dei Minister (V.D.M.), which translated into English is, Minister of the Divine Word. Our treatment of the International S.S. Lessons is specially for the older Bible Students and Teachers. By some this feature is considered indispensable.
This Journal stands firmly for the defence of the only true foundation of the Christian's hope now being so generally repudiated, – Redemption through the precious blood of "the man Christ Jesus who gave himself a ransom [a corresponding price, a substitute] for all." (I Pet. 1:19; I Tim. 2:6.) Building up on this sure foundation the gold, silver and precious stones (I Cor. 3:11-15; 2 Pet. 1:5-11) of the Word of God, its further mission is to – "Make all see what is the fellowship of the mystery which...has been hid in God,...to the intent that now might be made known by the Church the manifold wisdom of God" – "which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men as it is now revealed." – Eph. 3:5-9,10.
It stands free from all parties, sects and creeds of men, while it seeks more and more to bring its every utterance into fullest subjection to the will of God in Christ, as expressed in the Holy Scriptures. It is thus free to declare boldly whatsoever the Lord hath spoken; – according to the divine wisdom granted unto us, to understand. Its attitude is not dogmatical, but confident; for we know whereof we affirm, treading with implicit faith upon the sure promises of God. It is held as a trust, to be used only in his service; hence our decisions relative to what may and what may not appear in its columns must be according to our judgment of his good pleasure, the teaching of his Word, for the upbuilding of his people in grace and knowledge. And we not only invite but urge our readers to prove all its utterances by the infallible Word to which reference is constantly made, to facilitate such testing.
All Bible Students who, by reason of old age, or other infirmity or adversity, are unable to pay for this Journal, will be supplied FREE if they send a Postal Card each MAY stating their case and requesting its continuance. We are not only willing, but anxious, that all such be on our list continually and in touch with the Studies, etc.
Volunteer matter is now ready in the following languages: French, German, Swedish, Norwegian and Polish. The German matter is folded, two quadruple numbers together, and needs to be separated. Extra copies of the Polish TOWER may be used for distribution; these will not be ready for two months.
Order at once what you have need of to save the trouble of removing them. THE NEW BIBLES are ready for your orders. Back orders are all filled.
SERIES I., The Plan of the Ages, gives an outline of the divine plan revealed in the Bible, relating to man's redemption and restitution: 386 pages, in embossed cloth, 25c. (1s. ½d.). India paper edition, 75c. (3s. 1½d.).
This volume has been published as a special issue of our journal – at the extremely low price of 5c a copy, in any quantity, postage included. (To foreign countries, 9c.) This enables people of slender purse to herald far and wide the good tidings in a most helpful form.
SERIES II., The Time is at Hand, treats of the manner and time of the Lord's second coming, considering the Bible Testimony on this subject: 370 pages, in embossed cloth 25c. (1s. ½d.). India paper edition, 75c. (3s. 1½d.)
SERIES III., Thy Kingdom Come, considers prophecies which mark events connected with the "time of the End," the glorification of the Church and the establishment of the Millennial Kingdom; it also contains a chapter on the Great Pyramid, showing its corroboration of the dates and other teachings of the Bible: 384 pages, in embossed cloth 25c (1s ½d.). India paper edition, 75c. (3s. 1½d.).
SERIES IV. The Day of Vengeance, shows that the dissolution of the present order if things is in progress, and that all the panaceas offered are valueless to avert the predicted end. It marks in these events the fulfilment of prophecy, noting specially our Lord's great prophecy of Matt. 24, and Zech. 14:1-9: 660 pages, in embossed cloth 30c. (1s. 3d.). India paper edition, 85c 93s. 6½d.)
SERIES V., The At-one-ment Between God and Man, treats an all-important subject – the hub, the center around which all the features of divine grace revolve. Its topic deserves the most careful and prayerful consideration on the part of all true Christians: 507 pages, in embossed cloth 30c. (1s. 3d.). India paper edition, 85c (3s. 6½d.)
SERIES VI., The New Creation, deals with the Creative Week, Genesis 1 and 2, and with the Church, God's "New Creation." It examines the personnel, organization, rites, ceremonies, obligations and hopes appertaining to those called and accepted as members of the body under the Head: 740 pages, in embossed cloth 30c. (1s. 3d.). India paper edition, 85c (3s. 6½d.)
MILLENNIAL DAWN is published in foreign languages as follows: in German, five vols., in Swedish, Vols. 1, 2, 3 and 5; in Dano-Norwegian, three vols., in French, two vols.; in Italian, one vol.; in Greek, two vols.; bound in cloth, uniform with English edition, prices the same.
NEVER before has the prospect for the successful spreading of Present Truth had so favorable an outlook as that for 1909. Although vast preparations are under way for the conversion of the heathen, and the Federation of Churches is expecting to increase the strength and effectiveness of all the Federating Denominations, nevertheless there is a considerable element outside, as well as inside, those Systems, which is quite dissatisfied. It hungers and thirsts for something different, for something more than mere church organization, salaried ministers and paid choristers. This class feels a desire to get nearer to the Lord, rather than to be bound in a denominational bundle. It feels that there is an emptiness and formality connected with much that is called Christian, and that many apparently are drawn nigh to the Lord with their lips, while their hearts, their affections, are far from him and really fixed upon earthly things, good and bad.
The said class is ready for the Truth, but is in danger of falling into Christian Science, Theosophy, the Emmanuel Movement, or something of the kind. Alas, poor sheep! It is true of them, as the Master expressed it of a similar kind at his first advent, that "He beheld them as sheep and no shepherd" – needing guidance, needing help. We may be sure that the Adversary is on the lookout for these and that none the less the Good Shepherd cares for them. And surely he expects that we, who have already tasted of his grace and obtained some knowledge of his plan, will be interested also in their welfare, because we have his spirit. We may expect that he will use us in reaching these in considerable number, because, by his grace, we have the only message that can bring them the true blessing of grace and peace, through the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour and of his perfect work, past and to come.
(1) Because the WATCH TOWER readers are more than ever awake to their opportunities and responsibilities and privileges of service. Our Volunteer force is larger and more zealous, we believe, than ever before, and our new Volunteer matter is in a new and attractive form, which, we believe, will be blessed of the Lord in reaching many, both inside and outside of the various denominations. We hope to hear from the dear friends in every direction promptly, as to what they propose to do – how many of these they can and will judiciously use. United effort is advantageous. Each one spies another, and each one who labors receives a special blessing from the Lord in his own heart, besides the blessing which he may confer on others as an instrument of the Truth.
The publication of the sermons in many newspapers has begun, and appearances are that it will continue, under the Lord's blessing and guidance, and that thus millions of readers will be reached, including many on farms, whom we could not hope to reach otherwise. It is largely for this department of the work that arrangements have been made for the transfer of the WATCH TOWER headquarters to Brooklyn, New York. We expect to give all of our subscribers in the United States and Canada an opportunity for cooperation, in connection with this department, some time during the year. You will receive a letter indicating how you can cooperate advantageously. Meantime be active in other departments of the service. Our British friends also may have opportunity of sharing in this work later.
Some of the dear friends are expressing surprise; but for several years we have anticipated increasing numbers becoming interested in the work. Our expectations have been so largely realized that it seems proper to rehearse the matter, and to give the reason why these openings of Divine providence for the spreading of the Truth seem to us to be in fullest harmony with what we should expect, from our view-point, concerning the Harvest Field. Let us take a hasty re-survey. It may enlarge our expectations, and thus lead to an increase of energy for others, and thus to an increase of our own blessings.
We still believe that in the year 1881 the special call of this Gospel Age ceased as a call. Our understanding still is that at that date a sufficient number had made consecration to complete the predestinated figure, and that God would not permit others to be called, for whom there would be no place; that, instead, he arranged that others consecrating since that time, should, like the servants in the parable, wait for an opportunity to enter the vineyard – peradventure it might come, even at the eleventh hour. We still understand that all the consecrated and accepted ones in 1881 will be subject to testings, proving, and that as one will be found unworthy, his name will be blotted out and his crown set aside [R4303 : page 4] for another, and that thus vacancies have occurred and been filled from time to time without a formal call – merely the consecrated being admitted to the privileges of the service and blessed with the begetting of the Spirit and the knowledge of the Truth.
Looking back to 1881 we find that in the few years preceding that date a considerable work of evangelization took place – Moody and Sankey and, later, Whittle and Bliss revival meetings from 1875 up to 1881. Their work appeared to be of a more substantial kind than that of revivalists generally since. They made prominent Justification by Faith through the merit of the precious blood of Christ, and urged a full consecration to the Lord, to a degree that has seldom been equaled by evangelists. Large numbers professed thorough conversion, under their labors, and the depth of their work and of its hold upon the people is witnessed by a large sale and use of their Gospel hymns. It is our thought that the Lord used these men, and through their ministry the fore-ordained number was completed at the fore-ordained time, 1881.
Let us suppose that in 1881, when the call closed, there were altogether 40,000 justified and consecrated believers in the precious blood. Some of these had been, perhaps, a long time in the way, and their day of trial was nearly ended. But if our supposition respecting the Moody work be correct, a considerable majority of that 40,000 were in 1881 mere babes in Christ, freshly accepted of the Lord and subject to the message, testings and provings. Seeing the Lord is very patient and [R4304 : page 4] long-suffering to usward, it should not surprise us if many of those would have from five to twenty-five years of testing and proving, before their crowns would be declared forfeited. If these suppositions be measurably correct, it implies that, as usual, only a little flock of the consecrated make their calling and election sure, and that the great majority of them have lost their crowns and had their names blotted out, as respects a share in the Bride Company.
Taking the whole number as 40,000 and taking the overcomers to number one-fourth of these, and counting the three-fourths as going into the Great Company, it would mean the vacating of 30,000 crowns, and hence, mean opportunity for a similar number to enter in to possess those crowns.
A preference would surely be given to the justified ones, who, exercising faith in the blood and consecrating themselves to the Lord, would be represented by the Parable of the Vineyard, as waiting and bidden to enter at the eleventh hour, without a specific promise of reward. It is our conviction, in harmony with the foregoing, that there is now a large number of crowns vacated and awaiting new claimants. This is more than a groundless surmise, for have we not the fact before us that a considerable number have lately come from worldliness and sin into the light of Present Truth, into the privileges of the Vineyard, and evidencing by their fruits of the holy Spirit that they have been begotten of the Spirit? Since the Divine methods are unchangeable, and since the justified and the children of the justified hold first place in the Divine opportunities of this Gospel Age, the inference is plain that a large number of crowns are now unportioned. And in full accord with this is the wider scope being granted for the circulation of Present Truth.
These are our grounds for our great expectations in connection with the opening year. Additionally we might remark that it is only to be expected that those who have come into the light of Present Truth, and who have, as it were, been gathered as wheat from the tares, should begin to receive their threshing, to separate fully and completely the wheat from the chaff. So, then, while anticipating great progress for the Truth, we must also anticipate sore trials and, perhaps, disappointments, in respect to some of whom we had expected better things – even joint-heirship in the Kingdom.
"A thousand shall fall at thy side; ten thousand at thy right hand," is the prophetic picture of the testing time that is now upon the Church. We see the tens of thousands already falling into Higher Criticism, Evolution, Theosophy, Christian Science and various other delusions. And closer to us, at our side, consecrated like ourselves, some are falling. The question seems not to be, Who will fall, but, as Scripturally put, "Who shall be able to stand?" In the ninety-first Psalm the Prophet tells who will stand, namely, Those whose habitation is the Lord; those who abide under his shadow; those who trust under his wings for protection. The picture is that of a mother hen, who, when the hawk is about, clucks for her brood, calling them under her shadow, under her wings, under her special protection. Corresponding to the cluck of the hen in this picture seems to be "the Vow," or solemn Resolution to great faithfulness of living, in harmony with our original vow, in thought, in word and in act.
As a result of obedience to this warning call, numbers of us have been drawn very close to the Lord, under the shadow of his protecting care, where no harm can come nigh us and only with our eyes shall we see what will come upon others, who refuse this refuge – others who will stumble in this evil day, and be snared and taken by the great Fowler and his demon hosts. It is painful to write, or even think of some, who, twenty and thirty years ago, were with us heart and hand climbing up Zion's Hill, fighting the good fight of faith, laying hold upon eternal life, developing the fruits and graces of the holy Spirit, and anticipating shortly sharing with the Redeemer the glorious work of the Kingdom, but who have since become weary or faint in their minds, or turned aside to strife or vain-glory. It is both our duty and our privilege to do all in our power to recover such from the power of the Adversary. But after doing all that we can on their behalf, it is not for us to question the wisdom and love of God in connection with the matter, but rather, with full reliance, to know that the Lord is supervising the affairs of all who are his sheep, and will not suffer us to come under greater temptations and trials than, by his assisting grace, we shall be able to withstand. Let us set to our seal that the Lord is true, faithful. Whether we or others shall fail of gaining the promised prize, it will not be the result of Divine negligence or inefficiency, but our own.
To fail in any of these will mean disaster. To come off conquerer in all three of them will mean energy and devotion to know and to do the Father's will. The time is short. The tests will be severe. But he who is on our part is greater than all that be against us and ready to render every assistance needful, if our hearts be but loyal along the points mentioned; and if not loyal, then it would not be the will of God that we should be [R4304 : page 5] numbered amongst the Elect, because we would not be of the fore-ordained class, "Copies of his Son."
These thoughts lead us up to the propriety of good resolutions, holy vows, and the opening of the year is a most excellent opportunity for the beginning of these. Whoever is of a really and properly thankful heart will feel at this season particularly like saying, with the Psalmist, "What shall I render unto the Lord, my God, for all his benefits to me?" Then comes the response, "I will take the cup of salvation (which is the cup of sacrifice), calling upon the name of the Lord (for grace to help me). I will pay my vows unto the Most High, in the presence of all the people." Those following this course, whether they call it a Vow or Resolution, and whether they report it to others or keep it to themselves instead, have a blessing. But to acknowledge and pay the vows in the presence of the brethren and sisters of the Lord's family is Divinely indicated to be our proper course. And the more fully we comply with this arrangement, the more complete, we believe, will be our blessing, and the greater our progress toward the Heavenly Inheritance.
THE Sunday-School Committee has arranged lessons for 1909 on the expansion of the early Church. Accordingly, our lessons for the year will be drawn principally from the book styled The Acts of the Apostles. St. Luke is the author of this, which some have described as the best of all Church histories. As the record closes abruptly, before the death of St. Paul, it is but reasonably supposed that the Book was finished about A.D. 63. The first verse of our lesson alludes to his previously written work, the Gospel by St. Luke, in which he set forth what Jesus began to do and to teach. There is a bare suggestion that the writer had in mind that his present treatise related to a continuation of our Lord's work by his holy Spirit through his apostles and followers. This standpoint of view given is a glorious sweep or vista and connects up the work which our Lord began at Jordan and finished at Calvary, and has since been carrying on by his Spirit and through his Church, and will continue to the consummation of the Church, which is his Body, and its glorification in the Kingdom, and the Kingdom blessing then to go forth to the blessing and uplifting of man. The small beginning, the trials and triumphs of the work, are yet to yield the abundant fruitage expressed in the declaration that unto Jesus every knee must bow and every tongue confess to the glory of God, the Father. And whosoever will not thus bow and confess and yield obedience to the Messianic Kingdom, will be utterly "destroyed from amongst his people" – in "the Second Death."
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"St. Luke, a poet, and more than a poet, tells us how the beacon light of Christianity flashed from Jerusalem to Antioch – from Antioch to Ephesus, and to Troas, and to Philippi – from Philippi to Athens and Corinth, until at last it was kindled in the very palace and pretorium of the Caesars at imperial Rome. The light of the world dawned from the little Judean village and brightened in the Galilean hills, and then it seemed to set upon Golgotha in the midst of a disastrous eclipse. The Book of Acts shows us how, rekindled from the embers in the brief space of thirty years, it has gleamed over Aegea and over Hadria, and has filled Asia and Greece and Italy, with such Light as has never shone before on land or sea."– Farrar.
This is a beautiful description, yet we need to modify it to the extent of remembering that the Son of Righteousness did not dawn there, but is only now dawning. Our Lord's expression was the truer one, namely, that each one of his followers was a lamp or candle lighted from his, which must not be put under a bushel, but elevated, that the darkness might be dispelled. It was the lighting of fresh candles, so to speak, that carried the enlightening blessing. God's Word is the Lamp for his people, to guide their steps and, as they become illuminated, the world is proportionately blessed. "Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path." (Psa. 119:105.) "We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn." – 2 Pet. 1:19.
Briefly the historian reminds us of the forty days between our Lord's resurrection and his ascension, that he showed himself to his apostles and gave them certain instructions respecting the holy Spirit; that they should wait for its endowment, as the Father's seal of their acceptance to membership in the Royal Priesthood and to the ministries of the Truth as his ambassadors. All of these instructions, etc., were "pertaining to the Kingdom of God." This central thought needs to be kept in mind. God's Kingdom has been promised – that it may overthrow the kingdom of Satan and deliver mankind from the bondage of sin and death. Messiah was to be the King, and Israel, the seed of Abraham, to be his assistants and joint-heirs in that Kingdom and its work. Natural Israel had proven unworthy of the favor, as God had foretold through the prophets, and the privileges taken from them were to be given to the remnant of "Israelites indeed," and a sufficient number from amongst the Gentiles to complete the number Divinely intended and foreordained. Properly, therefore, everything said and done, directly or indirectly, appertained to the Kingdom.
As St. Luke, in his Gospel, has set forth the personality of Jesus as the Magnet to draw the hopes and establish the confidence of the "Israelites indeed," so in the Acts he uses it to still point to our Lord as the central figure, the Magnet. Indeed, seen from the standpoint of the Resurrected, the Glorified One, highly exalted, far above principalities and powers, the magnetic qualities of the Messianic personality are greatly enhanced. While never forgetting his earthly life and sacrifices, our hearts and minds look to him now as the one who ever liveth, the Head of the Church, the King of Glory, waiting for the completion of his Bride, and in due time to take possession of earth's dominion, and to begin the great work of Restitution.
It is as important today as ever that we keep before our minds the thought of our Lord's personal relationship to every feature of his work. If it was his message to the early Church to remember his words, "Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the Age," the [R4305 : page 6] thought of the Lord's personal presence now in the harvest should be still more impressive to us. If he kept a supervision or control of all the affairs of his people throughout the Age, does not the thought of his Second Coming and still more intimate association with every little detail of what is planned make us rejoice to be more careful, more zealous? To the extent that we are able to keep this clearly before our minds, it will make us happy in respect to right fighting and right doing. For instance, should the Adversary make suggestions to us of discontent or dissatisfaction with the manner in which things pertaining to the Lord's people have been progressing, let us answer him that we know he is mistaken, because the Lord himself is present and is supervising his work. If at any time matters seem to be going contrary to our hopes or expectations, let us not think the Lord has neglected the supervision of his work and is allowing the Adversary to dash it to pieces. On the contrary, let us establish our hearts in the fact that the Lord is too wise to err and is as able as he is willing to make all things work together for good to us and to all the called ones, according to his purpose. If tempted to intermeddle with matters that the Lord has put into the hands of another, let this thought restrain us and counsel us to give closer attention to that which the Master has committed to our care, and that "To his own Master each servant stands or falls," and it is for him to approve or disapprove. It is not, therefore, for us to grasp management or control or in any degree to force our views upon others, but rather to do our part as faithfully as possible, and to leave the results to the Lord, realizing his presence and his care, his wisdom and his love.
The holy Spirit had been promised and must be waited for as the realization and beginning of the new work, the development of the Christian Church. This was pictured to them as a baptism and immersion with the holy Spirit, and contrasted with John's baptism or immersion in water. This baptism of the holy Spirit would represent to them the fact that he died for human sin, had been received into the Father's presence and had offered of his merit on behalf of those who believed in him and accepted him. It would constitute the sign, evidently, or mark, not only that their sins were forgiven, but that their consecration had been accepted, and that they were now adopted into God's family, begotten of him as spiritual sons, who, if they would develop in harmony with their covenant, in the School of Christ, would, in due time, be born of the spirit in the resurrection to the divine nature.
It was while they were with him and being instructed in things pertaining to the Kingdom, and regarding the necessity for tarrying for the spirit baptism, that they asked the Lord an important question: "Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the Kingdom to Israel?" But he replied, "It is not for you to know the times or seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power," or authority.
The disciples understood well enough that the restoration of Israel to a place of influence and power as a nation would be an incident of our Lord's great triumph in taking the dominion of earth, but they did not fully comprehend, for this Gospel Age, has been, as it were, a parenthesis, in which the Bride Class has been in course of selection from amongst all mankind. They perceived that the Master was leaving them and were anxious for information, but in substance they were told that they could see but one step in advance and that they must walk by faith and not by sight. Elsewhere we are informed that our Lord told his followers that not only no man knew the day and hour marking the developments of the Divine Purpose in connection with the opening of the new dispensation, but neither did the angels in heaven, nor our Lord Jesus; that the Father had kept the whole matter in his own hands, in his own power. This is better illustrated in the symbolism of Revelation, fifth chapter, where the Divine Plan is represented as sealed, and given to our Lord after his demonstration of his faithfulness at Calvary and his ascension to glory. Nothing in the statement, however, implies that our Lord and his disciples and the angels of heaven would never know of the times and seasons. In due time each feature will be revealed to those for whom it would be "meat in due season," for "To you it is given to know the mystery of the Kingdom of God, but to outsiders all these things are spoken in parables."
But while the due time had not come for the apostles to understand the particulars of the restitution of Israel, etc., other knowledge and other work were awaiting, as soon as the Father marked them by the outpouring of the holy Spirit. It was not due time then to discuss matters that were a long way in advance. The thing immediately in hand was their work of witnessing for Jesus, of telling out all that they knew about him, that others might know and be blessed through their ministries. In due time they would not be confined to Jerusalem and Judea, but might go to Samaria, yea, and to the uttermost parts of the earth; for eventually the message would be for every creature.
The word here rendered witnesses is in the Greek, martyres, from which comes our English word martyr, signifying those who witness at a cost of suffering or death. It may have seemed strange to the apostles that the telling of the good tidings would cost them suffering, and it may seem still more strange to us today that the proclamation of the true Gospel of Christ should bring persecution and call for martyrdom. But it is true, and the Master explained the reason, saying, "The darkness hateth the light." The world in general, including Christendom, is more or less under the Adversary's delusions, and whoever is faithful in telling the message of the Lord in its length and breadth will speedily find opposition where least he might have expected it. The goodness of God, his love, and the length and breadth and height and depth of his Plan of Salvation are so foreign to the benighted mind that it induces persecution, because the Truth is stranger than the fiction. A lesson here for us is that this witnessing is not yet finished, and that to meet our Lord's approval as his representatives we must be martyrs to one degree or another. The more faithful we are, probably the more we shall have opportunity for suffering and correspondingly will be our share in the eternal weight of glory, which God has in reservation for those that thus love him and serve him.
While speaking our Lord began to ascend and soon a cloud had enveloped and hid him from their sight. They waited, looking as though expecting him to descend again, but instead two angels appeared and said, "Why stand ye gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, which is received up from you into heaven shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven." (Acts 1:11.) The statement is not that they would see him coming as they saw him go, for surely they did not. They died. And not until after he had [R4306 : page 7] come again could their awakening, their resurrection, take place. Nor did the angels say that any one would see him coming. They merely declared a great fact, that he would so come, and that his coming would be in like manner to his going. Noting this carefully we ask ourselves, What will be the manner of his second coming? The answer is that as his departure was quiet, secret, unknown to the world, known only to his most intimate and dear followers, so his second coming will be in like manner – not with shouts and voices and trumpets, but secretly, quietly, "As a thief in the night."
(2) They could not receive the blessed anointing until first the Redeemer has ascended into heaven, "There to appear in the presence of God on our behalf," on behalf of believers. Members of the fallen race, they had already been privileged, like their father Abraham, to return to favor with God as his friends, being "Justified by faith." They could, as justified ones, address him in prayer, "Our Father, which art in heaven." They were not enemies at heart, but loyal, even though, to use the Apostle's language, they had been "enemies through wicked works," through inability to keep perfectly the divine law. They were not rebels needing a Mediator, but loyal, though imperfect, friends who needed a Redeemer and Advocate. Their Redeemer testified, "The Father himself loveth you." And again, in prayer to the Father respecting them, he said, "Thine they were, and thou gavest them me." Still, before divine justice could accept them as living sacrifices upon the Lord's altar, it was necessary that their ransom price should be definitely set over to justice by the Redeemer. This was done during the ten days of their "waiting for power from on high." The outpouring of the holy Spirit evidenced the presentation and divine acceptance of the merit of Christ's sacrifice on their behalf. This permitted their recognition as New Creatures, their begettal to the new spirit nature as sons of God, their anointing of the spirit as members of the Royal Priesthood.
(3) These ten days of prayer were necessary also to fit and prepare the Lord's disciples for the reception of the holy Spirit. The human mind resembles a room, the door of which must be opened before treasures can be put therein. The door in this picture would symbolize the will, which must first give consent to whatever enters the mind, the heart, the life. Furthermore a room that is already stocked and overcrowded has little space wherein to place new valuables – the old must be removed that place may be found for the new. Our hearts need to be emptied of their earthly hopes, aims and ambitions in order to make place for the new riches of God's grace. The ten days were probably none too long for the testing of the faith and loving obedience and zeal for the Lord and his cause, which they had undertaken to serve. As they prayed and fasted and waited expectantly for the promised blessing from on high, doubtless worldly ambitions, hopes and aims dissolved and vanished from their hearts, leaving them ready for the blessing the Lord intended, and which he poured out.
We are not to understand that a mighty wind blew upon the praying and waiting company on Pentecost Day, but there was merely a sound which resembled that of a mighty wind. It was the more miraculous that there was no wind. From the reading of the Greek it is inferable that the tongues of fire or blaze of light which appeared over the head of each were not split or cloven flames, but that the expression, "Cloven tongues of fire," implies that a larger flame was first manifest, which was cloven or split or divided into these smaller flames, which appeared over the head of each. But no matter what the particular form of manifestation, its object was quickly discerned. It was the promised blessing from on high, from the Father's throne, through the Son; as St. Peter explained, "As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another." (I Pet. 4:10.) We are not to understand that the multitude, being of one mind, produced this manifestation, but rather that the Lord, by his providence, brought them into the condition of full accord, preparatory to the giving of this blessing. Similarly he says that special blessings may be expected when two or three unite in their petition – not that their uniting effects anything, but that the Lord is pleased to reward the united efforts of his people, and thus to encourage them to forsake not the assembling of themselves. foreign tongues under the influence that had come upon them. We are not sure now, but it is our opinion that this special manifestation was to the eleven apostles only, because the subsequent record is that Peter and the others of the eleven apostles addressed the multitude in these foreign tongues. We know no evidence that others of the one hundred and twenty preached in the unknown tongues on the occasion, nor that they had the power to do so.
For centuries the Lord's people have been more or less in strife respecting the holy Spirit – what it is, etc. We will not attempt here an elaboration of the subject, but refer our readers to DAWN-STUDIES, Vol. V., Chapters 8-11, where the subject is treated in great detail. Incidentally we merely notice that the holy Spirit is not a person, but the spirit, the will, mind, energy, power or disposition of a person. It is the Spirit of the Father. It is the Spirit of the Son. And it is the spirit of all who are in full harmony with these. The masculine pronoun is used because our Father and our Lord Jesus are both spoken of in the masculine gender and their spirit would properly be so referred to. Nothing has much more confused the mind of Christendom than the unscriptural theory that the holy Spirit is one of three gods, equal in power and glory. It is one of the manifestations of the one living and true God. He manifested himself in Jesus, who was "God manifest in the flesh." He manifested himself in this holy influence or power at Pentecost and since to those who received the begetting or anointing of that holy Spirit, the spirit of the Truth, and indirectly to those of the world who discerned its operation in the children of Light, and who were reproved and rebuked because of being out of harmony with the divine will.
As some erred in speaking of the holy Spirit as a "third person," so others err in the opposite direction in claiming that there is nothing of the holy Spirit except a spirit of the truth. The proper thought, we hold, is that the term holy Spirit stands for the divine will and divine power and divine truth, exercised how and when and where the divine will purposes. The power which came upon the waiting disciples was not merely a field for the Truth, nor merely a knowledge of the truth, nor was it a person that fell upon them, nor could we think of a person being divided up and inhabiting either eleven apostles or one hundred and twenty brethren, or thousands and tens of thousands of the Lord's people in all parts of the world. [R4307 : page 8]
Our Golden Text represents the matter in clear light and in harmony with all the other Scriptures on the subject when it declares that the holy Spirit must come from the Father, not from the Son; when it declares that the Son would petition the Father to send the Spirit; when it declares that this special power or spirit of the Father would be another Comforter, instead of our Lord Jesus himself, whose going away was necessary and expedient. Had our Lord remained as a person in the flesh, he would have been hampered by the fleshly and earthly conditions, much as we are, because he could not be everywhere at once. It was preferable or expedient, therefore, that he should personally leave his disciples and appear before the Father as their Advocate, and thus secure to them the holy Spirit, which would not only represent the Father and himself, but would also represent all Truth, all righteousness, and be a channel for every one that needed blessing.
Following the miraculous sound and the electrical influences pervading the room and the manifestation of the lights upon their heads, we may be sure a considerable degree of holy joy and excitement manifested themselves amongst the believers, and this soon spread abroad and attracted a large concourse of people through curiosity, because it was stated that they were "Continually in the temple." – Luke 24:53; Acts 2:46.
It has been surmised by some that the large upper room occupied on this occasion was one of the numerous apartments connected with the temple, and that the quick gathering of 3,000 people might thus be accounted for. It was one of the annual festivals which drew the devout Jews, not only from all parts of Palestine, but also from neighboring countries. Most of them were Jews by birth, but some of them were proselytes or converts to Judaism. At first these heard various languages spoken and hastily concluded that the speakers were intoxicated, but later they discerned that the various tongues spoken represented the dialects of various people in the vast throng, so that each might hear in his own native tongue the message that was being circulated respecting Jesus, his death, resurrection, ascension, and now this miraculous outpouring of the Father's blessing at his hands, to qualify his service, to declare his message.
The day itself is an important one. According to Jewish tradition it was the anniversary of the Law Covenant at Mt. Sinai. It therefore by contrast would be a reminder of how Christ makes free from the Law and admits to the benefits of the original Covenant all who approach the Father through him. It was a day of free giving to all in need, "According as the Lord thy God hath blessed thee." (Deut. 16:10.) Thus the Lord's followers dispensed to all who were in readiness to receive the blessings granted to them through Jesus.
The flames of fire beautifully symbolize the light of Truth, the enlightenment of the mind, which comes through the begetting of the holy Spirit. This power divine was remarkably manifested in the eleven apostles, for while the multitude still recognized them as "ignorant and unlearned men," nevertheless they took knowledge of them that they had been with Jesus and learned of him; that they had a certain kind of enlightenment of mind and heart, which could come from no other quarter. And is not this same true of all those who have been begotten of the holy Spirit? Only a few days ago, in talking to one of the dear friends, a carpenter, in respect to the knowledge of the Truth enlightening his mind and refreshing his heart, he added, "Yes, Brother Russell, and that is not all! Not only are my head and heart refreshed with respect to spiritual things, but without boasting I can say that the Truth has made me brighter and more proficient in every way. It gives me a better balance of mind and soundness of judgment, even in my trade as a carpenter." We believe that this is true in general. Those appealed to by the Truth are not more than ordinarily bright naturally. Indeed, according to the Scriptures, we might infer that they would be below the average, for the Apostle declares that not many wise, rich, great or learned hath God chosen, but chiefly the mean things of this world. Nevertheless it is noticeable that those who are deeply interested in Present Truth, who study it, who love it, under the guidance and instruction of the Lord's Spirit and the various helps which God hath provided for our time, are far above the average of their fellow-laborers in general intelligence. Indeed, whoever has a knowledge of the Truth has an education, [R4307 : page 9] whether he has ever taken a college course or not. On the contrary, it has recently been noticed that a large number of those who enjoy special earthly advantages of education gain comparatively little therefrom. For instance, note the following clipping from the New York World a few days ago. Evangelist E. C. Mercer, himself a reformed drunkard, addressing the students of the Northwestern University, said: –
"During the last few years I have been working in the Water Street Mission in New York, and I have learned that one-third of the men that came there ragged and dirty and begging for food were college-bred. I have found them on the Bowery making up beds or waiting on tables, and I have even met them in the street-cleaning brigades. During February of last year more than 400 of them stood in the 'bread line' at our mission. Seventy-five per cent. of the prisoners at Sing Sing Prison are college-bred men."
Beyond question "the wisdom that cometh from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits," and is, as the Apostle declares, the "spirit of a sound mind." – Jas. 3:17; 2 Tim. 1:7.
Although we cannot agree with those who teach that repeated Pentecosts and spirit baptisms are to be expected and prayed for, we do believe that the Lord's people need to come into a similar attitude to that of the brethren who were blessed on Pentecost Day, in order to enter the favors and privileges which are ours through Christ. There was to be but one Pentecost. There never will be another, so far as the Church is concerned. The holy Spirit which there came to the Church has abode with us still, and its blessing is the privilege of those consecrated ones whom the Lord accepts and adopts into his family. But before anyone is prepared to get a proper blessing of the Lord's Spirit, he must first have the justification by faith and a heart free from the love of sin, and must present his solemn resolution to be, to do, to serve the Lord, the Truth, the brethren – his vows before he could be in the right attitude to receive a blessing and the enlightenment, the comfort, the fellowship of God's holy Spirit. Even though he be inflamed with desire to serve the Lord, the Truth and the brethren, he will do wisely to follow the course of the early Church and tarry and study and pray – that he may himself be filled with the Spirit, before he attempts to act as God's ambassador to others. Indeed, no one is authorized, from the Scriptural standpoint, to preach the Gospel much or little, except first he have received this anointing and authorization of the Spirit from above. "The Lord hath anointed me to preach the good tidings unto the meek." – Isa. 61:1.
While opposing the unscriptural view with respect to praying for New Pentecosts, let us not lose sight of the important fact that until we have received our share of the blessing of that first Pentecost, we cannot have the perfect peace of God, nor be properly and actively and successfully his servants and ambassadors. Would that, at the opening of the New Year, all of the Lord's people would seek earnestly a larger measure of the holy Spirit – watching and praying thereunto, watching their words, their thoughts and deeds, the leadings of the Lord's providence, the opportunities for his service, and praying, "Abandon us not in temptation, but deliver us from the evil one." And let us ask him to grant us more and more the emptying of worldly ambitions, desires, and filling more and more with the mind of Christ, the disposition of Christ. Many are finding "the VOW" very helpful along these lines, and we still commend it to all of the sacrificers in Christ Jesus, as a helping hand to keep us watchful and nearer to the Lord – under the shadow of the Almighty.
St. Peter preached a most direct sermon, taking for his text the miraculous events of Pentecost, which had drawn the crowd together. He had no apologies to make, but declared himself and his brethren disciples of Jesus the Messiah. Jesus' claim to the office had been abundantly demonstrated by his mighty works and words, "Never man spake like this man." Did they query if this were not the same Jesus that had been crucified, less than two months before? The query was answered most pointedly. Yes, with wicked hands you crucified and slew the Lord of glory. Did they ask how could a Messiah thus ignominiously suffer and how could a dead Messiah be of any use – of whom they preached? The Apostle's answer was a ready one, that it pleased God that a suffering Saviour should be provided and that his death should be the redemption price for Adam and his race; and on this account forgiveness of sins might now be preached. Proceeding he declared that our Lord was not a dead Messiah, but a living one, for, although put to death in the flesh, God had raised him from the dead, and that his disciples were witnesses of the fact, and of his ascension.
The account given us is a meager one, but we can imagine the Apostle saying, "Let me prove to you from the prophets, whom you acknowledge, that these very things were foretold of the Messiah, Jesus; for instance, the most remarkable thing of all, his Resurrection. Did not the Prophet David foretell of the same, 'Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell (sheol, hades the grave); neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption'! This, "said Peter," was not true of the Prophet David. He died. His soul was not saved from sheol. He still awaits resurrection. But all of this was apparently true of Messiah, whom David, in the figure, represented. Christ's soul was not left in hades. God raised him from the dead the third day. Now he is highly exalted – a Prince and mighty Saviour, able to save you, able to save all who come to him; for the Father hath highly exalted him, that he might be the [R4308 : page 10] Saviour of you and of the world, not only as respects spiritual interests, but our temporal interests as well."
Proceeding, the Apostle quoted Joel's prophecy and showed that a portion of it foretold the Pentecostal blessing. He was not led of the spirit to show that there were two parts to that prophecy, and that only one part was fulfilled at that time, and that the other part was to be fulfilled afterward. "I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh" will be fulfilled in the future, after the second coming of Christ. That was not yet "meat in due season." However, the quotation was sufficient for its intended purpose. His hearers were pricked to the heart – cut to the heart. They felt terribly, as they thought how true were his words, and how apt his Scripture quotation. They saw themselves as members of their nation red-handed murderers of the Messiah, for whom they had been looking for centuries. The great trouble which would certainly come upon their nation, and to which their prophets referred, they saw would be a reasonable penalty for their great sin. What must they do?
Contrition and repentance must necessarily precede any thoroughgoing reformation of character – then or now. If, therefore, any one shall read these words and realize that he himself has been living carelessly, as respects his blessings of God and his faithfulness to the Truth, it is well that he should awaken from his lethargy with a start, knowing assuredly that the end of that way will not have the divine approval. Such should cry out to the Lord for help from the weaknesses of his own nature, and from the delusions and snares of the Adversary; peradventure he may be delivered. In answer to their query the Apostle declared most graciously, "Brethren, I wot that through ignorance ye did it, as did also your rulers." For if they had known, they would never have crucified the Lord of glory. The matter is bad enough. The guilt is great as it is; but surely the Lord knows that those poor men who cried "Crucify him!" and those who helped to do it were, to a large degree, under the influence of our great Adversary, through ignorance and superstition and blindness, into which he had led them. Doubtless the number of those who have sinned wilfully against clear light and knowledge and opportunity, on the contrary, is small, especially if we exclude those sins attributable to weaknesses through the heredity of sin.
The Pentecostal message was a Gospel of mercy, of forgiveness, of sympathy, even for those who had crucified the Lord. Like the other sermons of this Apostle, and like the sermons of all the apostles, this sermon contained not one suggestion of eternal torment, but was full of mercy and grace – "speaking peace through Jesus Christ our Lord." The result was that three thousand were prompt to accept Jesus as the Messiah. They were convinced by their reason and by the evidences presented in the sermon by the Apostle and others of the brethren; thus they complied with the advice of the Apostle. Temporarily their sins were covered by the merit of the Lord's sacrifice, but for the full blotting out of those sins, they, with others, must wait for the second coming and the resurrection. The new bodies of all the faithful in Christ will be without spot or blemish. All sin will have been blotted out. Thus, as the Apostle Paul says, "It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body." – I Cor. 15:43,44.
St. Peter's message to them was, "Repent ye therefore, and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the holy Spirit; for the promise is unto you and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord your God shall call."
Christ's sacrifice for sins was not intended to justify people living in sin, but to justify those who, renouncing sin, sought to live separate from it and to come into harmony with God. This is still our message. No one has a right to alter or amend it in any degree. The divine law condemns sin in the flesh still. The divine provision for the covering of the sins of those who believe in Jesus applies only to such as seek to put away sin, and to strive for righteousness. For such alone are all the divine arrangements and blessings. Baptism for the "remission of sins" was to the Jew only, to those who had already been baptized into Moses in the sea and the cloud. The sins thus figuratively washed away did not include original sin, with its death penalty, but merely minor transgressions against the Mosaic Law on the part of the Covenant of the people. The symbolic washing represented a return to loyalty, to obedience to God, to the extent of their ability, so far as their hearts were concerned. Thus coming into accord with Moses, the typical Messiah, they would be by faith transferred to his antitype, Christ.
This washing or cleansing of the Jews, preparatory to their acceptance in Christ, continued until the middle wall of partition was broken down between Jew and Gentile, until the natural branches, those who did not receive fellowship in the Body of Christ, were broken off. Since then, baptism for the remission of sins, John's baptism, is entirely wrong, according to the Scriptures. (For details on this see DAWN-STUDIES, Vol. VI., Chapter 10.)
The Apostle pointed out that the promise of the great blessing through Messiah belonged to Israel according to the flesh, and that those promises had not yet lost their vitality – had not yet lapsed. Hence it was for them and their children, as well as for all mankind,
Everywhere the Scriptures remind us that no man taketh this honor to himself – the honor of being a member of the Body of Christ, the honor of being a member of the Royal Priesthood, etc. Only those called of God, drawn by the Father, can now come unto the Son and receive all of these blessings. This remains true to this day. The pity is that even some of those who have received and accepted the call are not sufficiently awake to rightly receive it. Our lesson assures us that this is but a small portion of the population. With many other words St. Peter exhorted and testified, saying, "Save yourself from this untoward generation." How successful was this message which was backed by the holy Spirit may be readily seen from the statement that three thousand gladly received the message and were baptized and continued steadfast in this teaching, and in fellowship and prayers.
Again we are in a Harvest Time. The Harvest Time of this Gospel Age is now in progress, as then was the Harvest of the Jewish Age. Now, as then, there are tests and stones of stumbling, purposely permitted of the Father for our proving, testing, development. Not the Head of the Body is now to be crucified, but the members – especially the feet of the Body of Christ, yet [R4308 : page 11] upon the earth. The great Adversary has blinded in a most marvelous manner some, of whom better things might have been expected. Our Lord's words are proving true – that his message would cause a measure of strife, which would thus reveal, manifest, those who are of a wrong spirit, but indirectly bring blessings to the faithful, who are willing to suffer with him and to lay down their lives for the brethren. The persecutors number amongst them some of the great and noble and religiously prominent of the world. What is our attitude? Are we sympathizing with this condition of [R4309 : page 11] things, or are we standing loyally, firmly for the Truth, the Lord?
As it was then, in the Lord's providence, that he drew the attention of those in a wrong attitude to the true conditions of things, that they might recover themselves from the snare of the Adversary, so he is now doing here. He is willing and able to expose the wrong doing, and to call the attention of the honest-hearted to the true situation. It then remains with themselves, as free agents, either to continue to endorse the wrong, or to stand out distinctly for the right. The Scriptures clearly indicate that the present generation is an untoward one – one that is unfavorable to righteousness. The Scriptures give delineations of the selfish spirit of our day, the loveless spirit, with its anger, malice, hatred, envy, strife, backbiting and slandering tendencies, and they tell us to what these will ultimately lead – to the great time of trouble, with which this Age will end.
What should we do? The Apostle Peter's words are appropriate: "Save yourselves." Do not wait to try to save Christendom. Let each one of us get his own heart right with God. It is an individual matter – who will stand and who will fall. According to the Scriptures and according to Israel as a type, the many will fall to the few who will remain standing. To save ourselves, we must take prompt, energetic action. Our repentance must be full. Our turning from the wrong ways must be positive. The promises are unto you and to your children, and to many afar off.
This well illustrates the too careless manner in which we, and nearly all Christians, have been accustomed to use this word Mediator. For instance, repeatedly in DAWN-STUDIES, Vol. V., we refer to our Lord as the "Mediator of the Atonement." This is entirely correct, if judged by the ordinary standards of our language as generally used by us all. Of late, however, this Journal has endeavored to draw the attention of the Lord's people to the fact that the Bible uses the word Mediator in a restricted sense and has urged that all Bible Students endeavor to take the Bible viewpoint only and to use the word Mediator from that standpoint alone.
The correction above made shows how difficult it is for any of us to rid himself of a habit. The use of the word Mediator in the Scriptures is restricted to the mediating of Covenants between God and man. The assumption is that God, being holy and unwilling to sanction sin in any degree, not only condemned it in father Adam and his race, but cut off all fellowship with the sinners, whom Justice had condemned to death. Nevertheless, God in mercy had already purposed a reconciliation between himself and such of the human race as might desire fellowship with him on a basis of righteousness.
The Divine purpose was outlined in three great Covenants. The first, or all-comprehensive one, was made with Abraham. The second, or Law Covenant, was made with Israel at Mount Sinai. It did not abrogate or set aside the first Covenant, but was merely an addition to it, which curtailed in a measure richer blessings, so far as Israelites were concerned. Their Law Covenant, which they thought to be unto life, they found to the contrary condemned them to death as unworthy of life. God allegorically illustrates these two Covenants by Abraham's two wives, as St. Paul explains in Galatians 4. The original Covenant was represented by Sarah, Abraham's wife; while the Law Covenant was represented by Hagar, a bond-servant, and not the married wife. As Sarah was barren for a long time, so God's Covenant with Abraham was barren. The Law Covenant of bondage, represented by Hagar, brought forth first the Jewish Nation, represented in the allegory by Ishmael, who could not, however, be heir of the original Covenant. As by and by Hagar and her son were punished for pride and controversy, and cast off, so the Jewish nation, developed under the Law Covenant, was cast off from Divine favor, as represented by the Master's words, "Your house is left unto you desolate."
As Sarah was long barren, until after Hagar's son was born, and became persecutor, so the Abrahamic Covenant, which was to produce the Messiah, was long barren. That Sarah Covenant has meantime produced the Lord Jesus and the various members of his Body, who have already passed into glory. "The Seed of Abraham," "The Seed of Promise," will be fully born shortly now, when the last member of the Elect Church, which is the Body of the Messiah, shall have stood the tests and been received beyond the veil, completing the First Resurrection of "Christ the First Fruits." Let us make no mistake on this point, but hear the Apostle's words, "We, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise," the promised Seed through whom, with our Lord and Head, God will "bless all the families of the earth." – Gal. 3:29.
Keep the matter clear before your mind and note that thus far there have been only two Covenants, the old, or original one, and the Law Covenant, which was added four hundred and thirty years afterward. – Gal. 3:17.
There have been just two classes developed under these, natural Israel and spiritual Israel. But the allegory continues: "For Sarah died" and Abraham took another wife, Keturah, which represented another Covenant, called in the [R4309 : page 12] Scriptures the New Covenant. Abraham had many children by Keturah, typifying the many children of God by the New Covenant during the Millennium, but none of them as an heir. As it is written, "All that he hath, he hath given unto Isaac." The children of Keturah, therefore, received their blessing through Isaac, and represent the restitution class of the Millennium, who will be blest by the antitypical Isaac, namely, The Christ. Two matters should be borne in mind here: First, Keturah did not become a wife, or Covenant, until after Isaac's marriage, which typified the marriage or union between Christ and the Church in the end of this age. Second, Abraham did not marry Keturah until Sarah was dead. In other words, this New Covenant typified by Keturah does not become a wife or Covenant, until after the original Covenant, represented by Sarah, shall have brought forth the Seed, the Messiah, through which the children of Keturah, the subjects of the New Covenant, are to receive their blessing. It should be evident, then, to all that the Messiah, the Christ, Head and Body, is not the offspring of the New Covenant, Keturah, but the offspring of the old, the original Covenant – Sarah.
The first mention of the New Covenant (Jer. 31:31) was prophetic – a declaration to the Jews that God intended to give them a better Covenant than the Law Covenant, which they had found a bondage and unto death. That the New Covenant promises did not refer to the original one represented by Sarah is evident, not only by the fact that it is called a new one, but also by the fact that it was to bring them earthly riches, blessings, Restitution, etc., whereas the original Covenant was to bring forth a Spiritual Seed.
The promise of the New Covenant is, "I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh and will give you a heart of flesh, and your sins and iniquities will I remember no more." This will be grand for Israel and subsequently for the world of mankind. It will mean for them Restitution and will operate throughout the Millennial Age, by the close of which stony hearts will be no more; but mankind will have been uplifted out of sin and death conditions back to the full perfection of manhood, the image of God in the flesh, with a heart of sympathy and love and kindness, a heart of flesh.
Another distinction between our Covenant, the original one, and the other two, is that both the Law Covenant and the New Covenant have Mediators, while our Covenant, the original one, had no Mediator – needed none.
St. Paul points out that Moses was the Mediator of the Law Covenant and that there was no Mediator necessary in the original, or Sarah Covenant. (Gal. 3:19,20.) The New Covenant, however, is to have a Mediator; as the Scriptures distinctly declare, "Christ is the Mediator of the New Covenant." (Heb. 9:15; 12:24.) This New Covenant is contrasted with the Law Covenant, and Christ, the Mediator of the New Covenant, is contrasted with Moses, the Mediator of the Law Covenant, showing that the New Covenant is better than the Law Covenant, because it has the better Mediator (Heb. 8:6), and that it supplants the Law Covenant; but is not better than the original or Sarah Covenant.
Before we discerned the Scriptural teaching of the "Plan of the Ages," showing the Law Age, the Gospel Age and the [R4310 : page 12] Millennial Age, and their several works, we knew no future place to apply the promises respecting the New Covenant, and hence, in common with others, we applied them to ourselves and this Gospel Age, entirely overlooking the various Scriptures to the contrary. It was very inconsistent for us to quote in one breath the Apostle's statement that we are members of the Isaac Seed, the children of the old, original Covenant, and then in the next breath to class ourselves as beneficiaries of the New Covenant. The difficulty all along was our failure to clearly discern the "mystery hidden from past ages and dispensations, but now revealed unto the saints." – Col. 1:26.
Had we studied the Lord's Word in a more saintly fashion, we might the sooner have gotten rid of the errors of the Dark Ages and have apprehended afresh the Apostolic teaching, namely, that the "Mystery" is that the Church, selected from both Jews and Gentiles to be the Body of Christ, are joint-heirs with him in the Abrahamic Covenant and in his entire inheritance. Only those who discern the truth of this, which is still a "Mystery" with the world and the nominal Church, are prepared to understand the "Divine Plan of the Ages" as a whole.
When our Lord set before his disciples the first Memorial Supper he declared of the cup, "This is the blood of the New Testament, shed for many for the remission of sins." Notice that the blood of the New Covenant was shed for the many, the world of mankind; but only a few, the "little flock," the disciples, "the Body of Christ," were invited to drink of it, to participate with him in that cup. For 1800 years that cup has been passed to all of the consecrated. Those who have refused to drink of it have their names blotted out from the roll of the Elect, the Bride Class, the Royal Priesthood. Those who drink of it have the promise that they shall share with their Lord and Head in all of his great work as the Seed of Abraham. Thus our Lord said to his disciples who asked to sit on his Throne, "Are ye able to drink of the cup that I drink of, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?" (Mark 10:38.) Will you carry out fully the covenant of consecration to death which you made and on account of which you are reckoned as members of my Body? If this is your will, I will test you, to make your calling and election sure.
Those to whom it is given to know the "Mystery" of the Kingdom of God (and no others) may see that this entire Gospel Age, from the time of our Lord's baptism at Jordan to the present time and to the completion of the Church, is the one great Day of Atonement, the one great Day of High Calling to the Kingdom, the one great Day of sharing the Sufferings of Christ, that we may have part also in his glory to follow.
All of our work, therefore, is merely the "filling up of that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ." (Col. 1:24.) When all of those afflictions shall have been filled up, the glorious work of the Millennial Age will follow. That work comes under the New Covenant, Israel being first to participate and subsequently all nations. The world in the next age will not be blessed under our Sarah Covenant, the Seed of which is spiritual – no more than we are now blessed under the Keturah Covenant, the New Covenant, whose seed is natural, earthly.
When our Lord said, "This cup is the blood of the New Covenant," we should understand that, primarily the cup is his, and secondarily it is ours, who are his Body, sharing it and drinking it with him. There will be none of it left for others to drink of afterwards, for his command is, "Drink ye all of it." It was, therefore, primarily, our Lord's blood or [R4310 : page 13] death which was necessary to the sealing of the New Covenant, but by Divine arrangement the blood or death of his Church is also made necessary. Hence the New Covenant cannot be sealed, finished, made operative, until all the "members of the Body" shall have died, when the Great High Priest's "better sacrifice" shall be finished. It is, therefore, quite proper that our Lord's death or blood should be mentioned as the blood of the New Covenant, even though it be not applied until all the members of his Body shall have been sacrificed by him. Then he will apply all the blood, all the sacrifice, all the death merit, as his own on behalf of the world and seal the Covenant with God on behalf of men. After having sealed the Covenant with the Father, Christ with his Church will at once enter upon the great work of reconciling the world, restoring the world to harmony with the Father.
In this connection notice that only the sins of the Church have yet been cancelled; for, although our Lord's death contained quite sufficient merit for the sins of the whole world, that merit has not yet been applied to any but believers. Hence we read that our Lord ascended up on high, there to "appear in the presence of God for us" – believers. It is because he did not apply the merit of his sacrifice to unbelievers that we read that the "whole world lieth in the wicked one." This is in full accord with these Day-of-Atonement sacrifices for sins; the first for the household of faith, the Church, the Royal Priesthood, and the second for all the people, representing mankind in general, the world. Let no one get the misapprehension that the Church does any offering to God. We, according to the flesh, are dead, and as New Creatures only are we members of the High Priest's Body. It is the High Priest who does all the offering, and of that Priest the Head represents the entire Body. "We have an Advocate with the Father."
Bear in mind that our Covenant, the original one, had no Mediator. It needed none, because it did not attempt harmonizing rebels with the Divine Covenant, as the New Covenant proposes to do. The "world, lying in the wicked one," as declared in the lines of the parable, "We will not have this man to reign over us," will need strong restraints and coercions and stripes during the Millennium to force them to obedience. As it is written, "Every knee shall bow, and every tongue confess," this being merely a preliminary, to the intent that the reign of righteousness may be inaugurated, so that all may taste of the blessings of the Divine government; so that as many as will may come into harmony with it. A Mediator is necessary, and the Messiah, Head and Members, will be that Mediator in whose hands of control the entire world will be placed during the Millennium, so that even the willing and obedient will not be directly introduced to the Father until the end of that Mediatorial reign.
But how different now! As soon as our eyes discerned "The Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world," and as soon as our ears heard the message of God's love, we needed no compulsion. On the contrary, it was the Father himself who drew us to Christ, and, accepting Christ and being justified by faith in his blood, we are at once introduced to the Father by him and exhorted to present our bodies to the Father. So doing, these sacrifices were accepted in the Beloved, and we were begotten of the holy Spirit, and at once become children of God, joint-heirs with Jesus Christ our Lord to an inheritance incorruptible.
It is these New Creatures whom God has accepted that need no Mediator. We did need the blood of the Everlasting Covenant, and we still need an Advocate with the Father, because of our unwilling weaknesses of the flesh. Let us continually rejoice with our Redeemer and Advocate, without whom we can do nothing, and let us rejoice that in the Lord's provision the Man Christ Jesus, the Mediator between God and men (the world), has associated us with himself as his members, to be participants with him in his great work of reconciling the world. Let us rejoice that the Lord has made us "able ministers of the New Covenant," that we with our Lord may now be permitted to minister or serve, to the laying down of our lives and thus be prepared to be ministers or servants of that New Covenant to the world in general at the Second Coming of our Lord.
Then will come the antitype of Moses – inauguration of the Law Covenant. Moses came down from the Mount in the Lord's presence with a vail over his face, and sprinkled of the blood upon all the people. So we, having been changed to the glorious plane of spirit beings, shall be vailed from human sight, and, operating through the ancient worthies and others, we shall show to all men, the whole world, the fact that Divine Justice has been satisfied, and we shall sprinkle them, cleanse them, justify them and bring them into harmony with the Lord during the Millennium.
The text reminds us further that those who need help and who realize it should look to the Lord for it – not relying upon their own strength or wisdom nor upon the assistance of their fellows. We are not to despise assistance from any quarter, but our chief reason for receiving any assistance should be our conviction that it has come from the Lord, whether through the ear or through the eye and the printed page or however. We are to remember that we are contending against a great Adversary and wily foe, and that we are not sufficient of ourselves to conquer, but that our only hope is in abiding in the Lord's love, by seeking to do those things which are pleasing to him and heeding the counsel of his Word and the leadings of his providence. A little carelessness along these lines, and the Adversary might readily entrap us and ensnare us and then lead us captive at his will. Ah, yes! we have the assurance of the Lord that there is but one place of safety at this time – into which more and more deeply we penetrate day by day. This place of safety is under the shadow of the Almighty, which figuratively signifies very close to the Lord. "No harm can come nigh that dwelling place," so far as the New Creature is concerned. Trials, tribulations, slanders may be exercised against us [R4311 : page 14] according to the flesh, but these cannot harm us as New Creatures, nor even disturb our peace of soul, while we are close to the Lord.
Recently we called attention to the fact that the evil spirits, the fallen angels, are to be permitted special liberties in this "evil day"; and that we might expect from them intrusions and deceptions from materializations. But while guarding that point we omitted to note another, perhaps equally dangerous, or more so, because more subtle. This we must consider now. Undoubtedly the fallen angels have had more or less power throughout the past, not merely to obsess or physically possess those who yield their wills, but power to measurably influence the minds of those who would resist them, and always by putting darkness for light. As a notable illustration of this, remember Judas, who, after brooding over the fact that our Lord's cause was not bringing him great honor and wealth, premeditated shaking matters up, incidentally gaining thirty pieces of silver and arousing our Lord to practically assert himself and take a stand, in harmony with his power.
It was after this brooding that he was still further offended, while he ate at the Lord's table and said, "Is it I?" And when the Lord had intimated that it was he who would betray him, he became more determined to do so. We read, "Satan entered into him." His does not seem to be the case of obsession, but rather of domination of the mind. Satan, who had been striving to gain control, got the mastery when Judas was angry with the Lord's reference to him as a traitor.
Our thought is that the evil spirits have been restrained in considerable measure from intruding upon the minds of men. Otherwise the world would have become Bedlam long ago. But our thought now is that their liberties with the saints will be increased, with a view to the closing test or decision in respect to character, which is now due. "Judgment must begin at the house of God," but it is to extend in this hour of temptation or trial to "all them that dwell upon the face of the whole earth." That which will begin with the Church will end with the world, producing the most awful state of affairs imaginable, "A time of trouble such as never was since there was a nation." (Dan. 12:1.) This power of intrusion will contain, we believe, evil suggestions, promoting slanders and back-biting and temporarily, at least, derange the judgment and lead to violences of various kinds, of which the same person, under other circumstances and conditions would not have thought. In a word, the difficulty will be a dementia of passion, strife, hatred and unreason.
We see evidences along this line at the present time and it is our duty to sound the warning for the benefit of those not already so twisted as to be unable to appreciate the situation. Such manifestations of evil spirits – malice, hatred, envy, strife, evil-speaking, back-biting, slanders, etc., circle around the VOW and those who have taken it, with violence and opposition for which we cannot otherwise account. Those under this influence seem impervious to argument, to reason, but open to every imaginable suggestion of evil. They seem to lose entirely the spirit of love, the spirit of Truth, the spirit of a sound mind. At first we were dazed by such conditions, affecting some whom we had highly esteemed, but at last the solution above stated has come. In the light of it the whole situation is clear. It bids us have sympathy for the deluded ones and be on guard for ourselves.
To illustrate: One dear Brother, to whose violent letter of opposition we adverted in our issue of October 15, afterwards came dangerously near a mental collapse, in connection with which he received spirit messages by raps, yet was so off guard that it did not occur to him to question the source. His mind, though previously humble, was led to aspire to the management of the WATCH TOWER, and he found types and evidences in the Bible which led him to assume that God purposed a change in the management of the Harvest Work. It was under the influence of this erroneous sentiment that this dear Brother, whom we have dearly loved, and still love, wrote us a terribly bitter letter, for which he has since apologized in most kindly terms. He now freely acknowledges that he was under demoniacal influence and inspiration. He has recovered his balance; praise the Lord! But we regret that he has not yet taken the VOW or RESOLUTION to God; that he apparently does not yet see that it was this very item by which the Adversary gained an entrance to his mind. Ah! if the dear Brother had taken the VOW, how it would have proved a power of the Lord for his protection, along the very lines of his besetment: –
(2) Would not the Resolution to more carefully than ever, if possible, guard every thought and word and deed have helped this dear Brother to avoid every high imagination and have kept him from saying with his tongue and writing with his pen the acrimonious words which he has since retracted?
(3) Would not the declaration of the VOW to remember daily the harvest laborers and to consider his own privileges in the harvest work have helped this dear brother, by filling his mind and hands with the work the Lord had already committed to him, and thus have kept him from hankering after, and endeavoring to grasp, what the Lord had not committed to him?
(4) Would not the Resolution to be on guard against Spiritism and Occultism in every form have warned the brother against the spirit-rappings, visions, etc., which almost worked his ruin? We believe that it surely would have done so and we are hoping yet that the Brother will heartily put himself under that VOW to the Lord – whether calling it a VOW or a RESOLUTION.
Dear brethren, we cannot express to you our deep love for you all, and interest in your welfare, nor can we express our sorrow that our endeavor to help you by suggesting the VOW, or RESOLUTION, to the Lord should be so unkindly received by some, and awaken in them such opposition and animosity. The more often we read the VOW, the less do we see in it to cause offense to any sound-headed or sound-hearted brother or sister – the less do we see that any one could reasonably oppose, unless his judgment were misguided by the evil spirits, as in the case above cited. We are not, by any means, condemning those who have not taken the VOW. That is a matter of their own business. And if otherwise they are children of God and manifest his spirit, we should recognize and treat them and love them in every sense of the word as brethren. If they do not yet see the importance of this safeguard, we believe that they will see it later. Our urgency on this subject is similar to that of the Apostle, when he says, "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy acceptable to God, which is your reasonable [R4312 : page 14] service." (Rom. 12:1.) And "Make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way."
After what we have witnessed of the power of evil operating in the minds of some and producing characteristics which the Apostle denominates "Works of the flesh and the devil," we can scarcely be surprised at anything which the Adversary might accomplish along these lines. But while we fear lest we should come under any such influence ourselves, and while we watch and pray lest we enter into temptation, we should not be cast down, nor hindered in any measure or degree, in respect to the service of our King. He [R4312 : page 15] is able and willing to keep in perfect peace those who are trusting him, those who are following his leadings and coming close to him, even "under the shadow of the Almighty." The VOW has helped many to take this stand, thank God! And in proportion as it is taken, we believe that it will still further help, not only those who have taken it, but also those who have not taken it, but have heard and appreciate, in a measure, its warning voice. The words of the Apostle, "Who shall be able to stand in that evil day," never seemed more full of meaning to us than now, and never have we felt more than now our need of every piece of the Divine armor, and of every cord at our disposal to bind the sacrifice securely to the altar.
So then, while still expecting the attacks of the Adversary along the lines of materialization, hypnotism and occultism in general, we perceive that from inoculation of our minds with evil surmisings, saints have probably the most to dread. An important question is, How can we be on guard against this insidious snare? The reply is, By keeping very close to the Lord. Apparently the least deviation from the principles of righteousness in our thoughts, the least violation of justice or love in our thoughts, would open the way for the enemy to inject poison, leaven, malice, envy, hatred and strife.
We still urge the VOW as a great help in this time of stress, and one that you will appreciate more and more as you discern how the Lord is using it for your blessing and protection. But if, for fear that you cannot keep it, or for any other reason, you fail to take it, we counsel that you at least have its various provisions in mind, and seek to shape all of your various affairs day by day along those lines. But do not forget that our help comes from the Lord and that the VOW is of assistance to us only as it helps us to approach near to him, and to abide in his love, and in harmony with his divine Word, in thought, in word, in deed.
(11) What authority is there for speaking of the holy Spirit as a separate person from the Father and the Son – the "third person" of the Trinity? Cite Scriptures showing that it signifies, not a person, but the spirit of a person. P. 169, par. 1.
(13) Do other translations use the same terms? Cite some illustrations where the same Greek word is rendered in the feminine and others in which it is rendered in the neuter gender. P. 170, par. 2,3; Pp. 171, 172.
(14) What is the meaning of the term holy Spirit, as used in the Scriptures? What qualities or powers are represented by the term? Give illustrations of the use of the Hebrew word ruach and the Greek word pneuma. Pp. 173, 174.
(16) What is signified by the statement that "the spirit moved on the face of the waters," in the account of creation? (Gen. 1:2.) Was this an intelligent moving? P. 175, par. 1.
(19) When the Lord put his spirit upon Moses and subsequently upon the elders of Israel, what did it signify? What was its operation? Is there anything to indicate that it was a person that was distributed amongst them? P. 176, par. 1.
(26) Is there a difference between the gifts of the Spirit, which were miraculous, and the personally developed fruits of the spirit? Explain the difference with Scriptural references. P. 180, par. 1.
(31) The Spirit of God is said to be given sometimes in measure and again without measure. What do these statements imply? Could they be applied to a person or only to the spirit of a person? P. 184, par. 1.
Session for the public at 3:00 p.m. in Allegheny Carnegie Hall, corner Ohio and Federal Sts. Visiting friends heartily welcomed. Baptismal services at 10:30 a.m. for those desiring same and notifying thereof, at Bible House Chapel, 610 Arch Street.
Morning session for Rally, Praise and Testimony at 11:00 o'clock, at 21 South George St. Afternoon session for the public in Maryland Theatre, North Mechanic Street, at 3:00 o'clock. Subject, "Where are the Dead?" Evening meeting for the interested at 7:30. Visiting friends will be made very welcome.
All sessions in the Middlesex Opera House. Morning meeting for praise and testimony at 11:00 o'clock. Afternoon meeting for the public at 3:00 o'clock. Subject, "Where are the Dead?" Meeting for the specially interested at 7:30 p.m. Visiting friends cordially welcomed.
|VOL. XXX||JANUARY 15||NO. 2|
|The Nashville Convention||19|
|Removal of the Society's Headquarters||19|
|Brother Russell Re-elected Pastor||19|
|Greater Works Shall Ye Do||20|
|The Emmanuel Movement||20|
|Reports for 1908 from the Foreign Branches||22|
|Turning the World Upside Down||24|
|We Cannot but Speak the Things||25|
|Brotherhood in the Anointed One||25|
|Satan Filled Thy Heart||26|
|The Three Great Covenants||27|
|I. Grace – II. Law – III. Works||27|
|The Oath-Bound Covenant Sure||28|
|Abraham's Two Seeds||29|
|The Blood of the Everlasting Covenant||30|
We expected that we had placed a large order for these calendars, when we ordered five thousand, but we had not much more than one-half enough. We cabled another order and hope to be able to fill all orders by February 1st. They are beautiful, very cheap, and much appreciated. [R4310 : page 18]
We did our best to fill all orders for the new Bibles by Christmas time, and believe that we got them all filled before the New Year opened. Any order not yet filled kindly report to us at once, giving date, and put full particulars respecting number, price and the form in which the money was sent. So far as we have heard, the dear friends are delighted with page 18 this work.
Some time ago when recommending that we sing the same "Hymns of Dawn" (Phil. 3:16), we remarked about the cost of the preparation, copyrights, etc. Inadvertently our words seemed to include the 5c "Songs"; but of course we did not mean that they had cost you much or us anything, for they were not our publication. We no longer handle "Songs."
We have arranged for Dispatch subscriptions covering Monday issue only at a very special rate, clubbed with the WATCH TOWER, both for $1.50. If you have already sent in your TOWER subscription, you may still avail yourself of this privilege by remitting the difference. We have made a similar arrangement with the Toronto World, for the benefit of our Canadian friends.
Friends writing should mention their interest in the "People's Pulpit Sermons" or the "Brooklyn Tabernacle Sermons" or "Pastor Russell's Sermons," and not so state themselves as though any and all sermons interested them. Brother Russell prefers that his name be less and less used. Hence some sixty papers are publishing them without his name. Others prefer to use his name and no objection is offered so long as the improper title Reverend is not used.
We remind you of the two beautiful motto-cards by our own designers: (1) Sister Seibert's "In Due Time" with the Chestnut bough; and (2) Sister Darlington's Restitution design. We have a large lot of these, and rather than move them to Brooklyn, we will sacrifice them at but little more than custom's duty and freight and express charges, as follows:
2 of each (4) for 25 cents, postpaid.
10 of each (20) for $1.00, postpaid.
100 of each (200) for $6.00, collect.
The Convention was a success. We had not expected more than one hundred in attendance, but found three hundred to three hundred and fifty. Pilgrim Wise served as chairman, and, with Pilgrims Sullivan, Rutherford, Johnson, Harrison, W. H. Bundy, F. H. Robison, J. A. Parker and C. T. Russell, shared in the addresses of the first four days. On Tuesday, December 29, thirty symbolized their consecration by water baptism, and that same evening we had our love feast, which, as usual, is a most delightful occasion. Following this a number were obliged to leave, but a larger number remained and had a delightful season of fellowship the next day, a large number of brethren being heard from in a symposium of Love.
On the Wednesday night before Christmas, wholly without our knowledge, they had prepared for a special union meeting in the Bible House Chapel, and requested Brother Russell to come in and say a few words. On his arrival an appointed speaker, in well chosen terms, expressed the love of the Congregation for their Pastor and informed us that, desiring to make a tangible expression of their love, they had selected a fine velvet rug, a fine mahogany desk, a handsome chair, besides a small table and letter-holder. The offering for these gifts had far exceeded the expectations, so that $138 remained, which they requested should be also used in some manner in connection with the outfitting of Brother Russell's Study in the new Brooklyn home. We accepted these tokens of love with heartfelt appreciation, and told the dear friends that only our conviction that the removal is in the Lord's provision and implies a forward step in his work, would enable us to leave cheerfully the numerous loved ones with whom we had been associated for more than thirty years, as Pastor of the Congregation.
Two Sundays in advance announcement was made that on the last night of the year 1908 a general meeting would be held, at which the Congregation would expect to elect those who would serve it during the ensuing year. The Bible House Chapel was crowded, though it had been expressly stipulated that only those professing full consecration were invited. A solemn hush was upon the audience while Brother Russell briefly narrated some of the incidents connected with his Pastorate of the Congregation for more than thirty years. He mentioned by name some of those present who had been faithful supporters of the Truth during all of that period. Still larger numbers dated their affiliation with the Truth for twenty, fifteen, ten, five, and then down to one year. He remarked that he had not done for them, either collectively or individually, all that he would have liked to do, but assured them that he had served their interests in every manner to the best of his ability. He further declared that, to the best of his knowledge and belief, he had never done injury to any of them – in deed, in word, or in thought. In vacating the pulpit it caused him great gratification that these things were so. In concluding he requested that, if there were any present who felt that in any sense or degree, at any time or place, he had ever done them injury, in act or word, he hoped they would speak out, that he might know about it, and have opportunity for apology. There being no response to the invitation, he assured them that, not only had he not injured them in word or act, but even in his thoughts they were cherished, loved, yearned for and prayed for.
Before leaving the platform, Brother Russell remarked that Pilgrim Brother Rutherford was present and would doubtless make an excellent Chairman for the business meeting called for the election of the Church's servants for 1909. He said that, unless some objection were made, it would be considered that Brother Rutherford was unanimously approved as Chairman of the session. Silence gives consent, so Brother Rutherford stepped to the platform, Brother Russell stepping down and taking his seat with the friends. [R4312 : page 20]
A vote of thanks for the Pastor and Elders who had served during the year was proposed, seconded and passed unanimously. The object of the meeting was stated by the Chairman, and a motion was declared to be in order. Brother Dr. Spill at once arose and proposed that Brother Russell be reelected Pastor of the congregation for the year 1909. He urged that, even though rarely present with the Ecclesia, his election as Pastor would insure to the Church, possibly, a still greater watch care and make him more free to give advice in its affairs and interests. He declared that many congregations were in the habit of thus electing Brother Russell as Pastor, not only as an expression of their love and confidence, but also as an assurance to [R4313 : page 20] him of their desire for his special oversight of their interests, and with a view to making him feel the more at home with them at any time he could be present. Several brethren seconded the motion. Brother Russell arose, thanked the mover and seconders, but assured the dear friends that they would always have his love, best wishes and assistance everyway irrespective of his election, as suggested. He wished them to understand that he could not hope to be with them frequently in the future. He was glad even that for nearly two years he had addressed them only once a month, or less frequently, because it made the coming separation easier for all concerned. He did not wish anyone to vote on the motion with the thought that it would bring him to Pittsburg often, for he must attend to the interests of the general work. He remarked also that he could not think of accepting such an election, unless it were practically unanimous. The vote was taken and declared to be unanimously carried.
At Brother Russell's suggestion the Bible House family declined to vote at this election, because, not expecting to remain long, it would not be appropriate for them to express a choice. Chairman Rutherford remarked this and then added that, since the local congregation voted unanimously, there could be no objection now to taking another vote which would include the Bible House family, and show their love also for Brother Russell. The motion was put and carried unanimously, the Bible House family voting.
Following the custom of previous years, Brother Russell suggested the names of some who he believed would make faithful servants of the Church – Elders, Deacons and Deaconesses. He remarked that these were mere suggestions, any or all of them subject to rejection. He would not even nominate them, but merely suggested and left the congregation to make its own nominations. Brother Russell's suggestions were nominated and chosen – unanimously elected by the congregation. Altogether the occasion was an enjoyable one. Following the election a prayer, praise and testimony meeting was opened which lasted until after mid-night. Some of the dear friends remarked afterwards on the earnestness and unction of this Watch Night meeting.
Perhaps there was never a time in the world's history when humanity manifested more desire for physical healing than today. Nor can we blame the poor, groaning creation for desiring relief. It is with regret, however, that we note that our Lord's comment to the 5,000 whom he fed miraculously with bread and fish is still considerably applicable. He told them that they sought him because they had eaten of the free luncheon and not because of their love of the truths which he was preaching. He also told them to "Labor not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you, for him hath the Father sealed." – John 6:27.
So today we could wish that the hungry and thirsty were for the real relief which God hath provided and which all of us need – relief from sin and death. In a word, we could wish that there were a greater appreciation of soul sickness from sin and that there is but the one Good Physician, who is able to heal this malady and through whose ministry we may be healed. Note the fact that some of the strong delusions are supported by their claim to relieve physical pain. This is the claim of Spiritism – that disease can be relieved through mediumistic powers, under another's control. It is the claim of the Mormons that they can heal diseases miraculously. This is the claim of Christian Science, Mind Cure, Faith Cure people, Divine Healers, etc. Some of these names are used merely as a cover and pretense, while by others they are used with full faith that they are of some supernatural origin. The attitude of the public seems to be Give us healing. Give us relief from our aches and pains. If it is of God, we are glad. If it is of the Adversary, as you claim, we still take it, even though we know it to be in opposition to the Divine will.
Such great inroads have been made in the churches of all denominations by these mind cures, hypnotic cures, that ministers of all denominations are perplexed what to do. The dominant idea with many of them is – our organization must be maintained at any cost. As a business man would purchase any kind of goods that would sell, so must the churches, they think, supply to the public whatever it demands; otherwise the congregation would diminish, the minister's salary would not be collected, and the whole denomination would fall to pieces. The ministers, therefore, feel that for self-preservation, and for the preservation of the organization they represent, they must meet the public demand, just as a theater manager feels that he must meet the public demand. certainly on advanced ground. Started in Boston, after more than a year's success, it is being laid before the ministers of all denominations. Books are published instructing them how they may establish these physical healings, instituted in connection with churches of all denominations. Special classes have been organized in various colleges for the purpose of instructing those studying for the ministry how to perform these cures. The matter has gone forward with remarkable speed. How great will be its proportions within a few years is difficult to say. We have no pleasure in merely fault-finding. Did we consider these various healings as innocent, not to say divine, as some suppose them to be, we would be either cooperating with them, or, at least, saying nothing against them, even as we decline to discuss the various schools of medicine, believing that each represents more or less skill helpful to humanity.
But in these various cures for physical ailments now being promoted throughout Christendom, we see a great and a serious danger. Seeing this, it is our duty to raise a general voice to those who have an ear to hear the message. Our protest is that these are none such miracles as were wrought by our Lord and his apostles. True, there is a measure of similarity, just as some of the electric arc lights of our day closely resemble the sunlight. To our understanding, many of those identified with the various schemes of mind healing, faith healing, Christian Science, Hypnotism, etc., are well-meaning, thoroughly conscientious; and thoroughly deluded. To our understanding their cures are not by divine power, but by that of the Adversary, whom the Lord is permitting to use these means of attracting the Lord's people and the world away from the spiritual things and their necessity; also from the spiritual healing. We are well aware that in thus writing we are putting ourselves on the unpopular side, yet our duty is to the Lord and to the Truth and to those who have ears to hear and who desire to hear the message of the Lord.
Do not misunderstand us. We do not dispute that cures are accomplished, nor that some of the proceedings and theories are legitimate enough. What we do claim is that the Truth and rationality connected with these systems are the sugar-coating which covers the poison. The poison connected with all of them is the poison of the Adversary, the power of the fallen angels exercised in its most subtle form, namely, mental suggestion – hypnotism. This rational sugar-coating consists in the extending of kindly sympathy to the bereaved: in the recognition of the fact that fear is one of the most potent causes of human trouble and that [R4314 : page 21] faith in the Lord, or in a devil, for that matter, has the effect of resting the mind, relieving the nervous tension, and thus facilitating the eradication of pain. The doctrine of "Peace, troubled soul!" is certainly a good and wise one, particularly when based upon a Scriptural faith in Jesus as our ever-present help in every hour of need and when it promotes loyalty and obedience to him. This spirit of restfulness and "peace with God," if built upon false doctrines and erroneous suggestions and hypnotic influences, but hinders the soul from a proper approach to the Life-Giver and opens the way for the attacks of the Adversary.
As Christian Science and Mind Cure pervert reason and thus destroy the power of reasoning logically, so Hypnotism undermines the will, weakens it, and prepares the way for further intrusions from the fallen spirits. To our understanding, Christendom is thus permitting an undermining of faith and will power, and is preparing for the great day of trouble with which this age will in a few years close – a trouble which will result largely from the intrusion of the evil spirits into human affairs, through the entanglement of human wills, weakened by Hypnotism. We warn all to be on guard against these modern miracle-workers and we call attention to the fact that their operation is entirely different from anything recorded in the Scriptures.
There is a reason for the miracles wrought by our Lord and his disciples. They were for the establishment of the Church – as a testimony to the Lord. Without them Christianity would not have grown as rapidly as it did. These miracles ceased as the Church secured an established footing. The miraculous gifts of the spirit, healing, etc., were supplanted by the spiritual gifts, or fruitage of holy living. As the Apostle declares, Whether there be miraculous tongues, they shall cease, and so with all the other gifts, including healing. The physical healing was supplanted by the spiritual healing. Thus our Lord's words were fulfilled, "Greater works than these shall ye do, because I go to my Father." What intelligent Christian who has experienced the opening of the eyes of his understanding will dispute the fact that he has received a far more valuable gift than that of the opening of his natural eyes? Who that is deaf, but has the ears of his understanding opened to spiritual matters, would not claim that he had a greater blessing than a restoration of physical healing? Who that has eaten of the Bread that came down from heaven and received spiritual strength, does not realize that his blessing is far beyond that enjoyed by those whom Jesus fed with the five barley loaves and the three small fishes?
Who that has realized the healing of the soul does not realize that the healing of his heart affections is of much more value to him than the healing of any earthly disease? Who that was born in sin and shapen in iniquity and who has realized the forgiveness of his sins and has received grace whereby he may walk in the footsteps of Jesus, does not appreciate this as a greater miracle than the one recorded in our lesson? Ah! but some will say, "Let us have both the spiritual and the physical healing. Did not Jesus give both, and should not we expect both?"
We reply that Jesus did not give both, but merely the physical. Not until he had finished his sacrifice and had ascended up on high, there to appear in the presence of God for us, could any of us receive of the holy Spirit. And not until then could any understand the spiritual things, the deep things of God. It is for this reason that our Lord's sermons were generally limited to earthly things. He said, "If I have told you of earthly things and ye believe not, how shall ye believe if I tell you of heavenly things?" (John 3:12.) Again he said, "I have many things yet to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when he, the Spirit of Truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth; for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak; and he will show you things to come." (John 16:12,13.) The Apostle tells us that "The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness unto him; neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned....But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit." – I Cor. 2:14,10.
It is for this reason that we find some of the most helpful spiritual instructions in the writings of the apostles, without which we should not be able to get so large a measure of spiritual nutriment from our Lord's utterances, which were in parables and dark sayings, thus reserved for the future use of the saints.
Under the picture of the Church at Laodicea, the Lord pictures to us the last stage of the Gospel Church. He represents it as saying, "I am rich, increased in goods, and have need of nothing." Nominal Christendom has been disposed to boast of its riches in scholarship and property and intelligence and influence, and its high moral standing. The one thing it has coveted is the healing power, and now it is grasping this, to its further injury, to the increase of its pride and boastfulness and to the bringing of itself still more fully under the powers of darkness.
Notice how different is the Lord's view of the Laodicean Church, from that which it entertains of [R4314 : page 22] itself. He says, "Thou knowest not that thou art wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked; I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and eye-salve to anoint thine eyes, that thou mayest see." – Rev. 3:17,18.
It is for us to take the Lord's viewpoint, to see what constitutes the true riches, the true source of happiness and joy in the Lord. It is for us to have our eyes opened, and not to be deceived by our Great Adversary in this time. We remember our Lord's very words on this subject; his intimation that at his second advent many would boast of their work and power of healing, saying, "Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name, and in thy name cast out devils, and in thy name done many wonderful works?" (Matt. 7:22.) But our Lord said to such, I do not know you. I do not recognize you. You have no authority to make yourselves my disciples.
Let us remember, dear friends, that the Lord's blessings upon the apostles were not in the nature of preservation from sickness or calamity, but the reverse. We have records of several of the prominent brethren of the Church, but no records of any of them being miraculous healers. The healings which were done were performed for signs for those about. We have records of disasters permitted to come upon our Lord and upon the apostles and upon the Church of that time – hatred of the world, thwarting of their plans, cruel mockings, stripes, in perils of shipwreck, in perils among false brethren, hungering, thirsting, etc. If God manifested his favor thus to our Lord and the most influential members of his Church and their associates, what shall we choose for ourselves? If we allow the Lord to choose our portion for us, he doubtless will give us similar experiences in this time, and glory, honor and immortality by and by. If we attempt to choose our own way, the Adversary will try to delude us and we may be relieved of some physical pains or difficulties, which might have been for our eternal welfare. Let us choose the better part, pray for the spiritual things and labor for them, and accept, as respects our earthly affairs, whatsoever our Father sees best!
The Lord has blessed the Truth in Great Britain during 1908 greatly, and it is our belief that there, as well as in America, the next two years will be marked with marvelous progress in the overthrow of error, in the deliverance of God's people from its chains, in the spread of the light of the knowledge of God amongst his saints. [R4315 : page 22]
We have promised that, if possible, next Spring we will visit Germany and Scandinavia on a "flying trip," and we purpose also, if possible, to arrange for a Three-Days' Convention in London. If we can accomplish these purposes, we will endeavor to have the London date May 29-31 (Whitsuntide Holidays), with special excursion rates.
|DAWN-STUDIES and MANNAS circulated||46,079|
|Tracts free (stated in pages)||63,884,400|
|" sent out||8,872|
The Truth still progresses slowly in Germany, it seems to us, considering the amount of energy and money expended there. This, however, does not imply that the Germans are less deeply interested in the Truth than the English, Scotch, Irish and others. On the contrary, at our conventions and by the names of the lists, we discern that the brethren of German descent hold, perhaps, as prominent a place as any others. The fact of the matter seems to be that conditions in Germany have driven out from thence to the United States many of that nationality who are most susceptible to the influences of the Truth, leaving many behind proportionately less of this kind. However, who can estimate in money value the worth of the Truth, even to one child of God? From this standpoint we feel greatly encouraged at the progress the Truth has made there. Let us seek to estimate the value of the Truth. Let us say to ourselves, "What price would purchase it from me? For what sum of money would I be willing to be placed back again in the darkness of creedal systems, ignorance of God and his Plan?" By this standard the progress of the Work is great, in proportion to the cost:
|DAWNS, Cloth, Vol. 1||3,685|
|DAWNS, Cloth, other volumes||1,978|
|DAWNS, Vol. 1, TOWER form||1,800|
|Total number of copies||7,463|
|Regular issue of German TOWERS used in Europe||27,900|
|Extra sample copies of the TOWER sent out||78,900|
|Total number of TOWERS||106,800|
|Tracts used in Europe||3,506,400|
|Total free literature, Tract pages||39,009,000|
|Letters and cards received during the year||4,096|
|Letters sent out during the year||1,815|
Our representative in Sweden writes: –
When we look back on the year behind us our hearts become filled with the most deep and humble gratitude and thankfulness to our loving heavenly Father for his overruling care for our good. We have indeed seen the most evident proofs that the Lord himself is the Leader of his Harvest work, and that he makes [R4315 : page 23] all things – yea, even our mistakes – to serve his purposes and the interests of his cause. Glory and praise be to his holy name! We have not, of course, such large figures to show in our reports from this little land as you receive from the more important parts of the field, but yet we are very thankful for the results we, by the Lord's grace, have seen of our united efforts here, and pray that his blessing may continually rest upon the Harvest work everywhere until all of it is done, and that we then may hear his "Well done."
During the year past we have had the joy of seeing some of God's dear children, from the most Northern to the Southern part of the country, receive the Harvest message, and several of those are already in active service to bring the glad tidings to others. Amongst these is also one dear brother who, for the sake of the Truth, gave up his place as a minister in the Baptist Church a few months ago. Here in Orebro our little company has increased by nearly fifty brethren and sisters during the year. The leaders and preachers in the different sects preach against us and warn their people against "MILLENNII DAGNING," but still the good Shepherd's voice is heard by his sheep, and they abandon Babylon, following the voice of him that speaketh from heaven.
We have also very good reasons for believing that the work of grace generally has progressed considerably in the hearts and lives of the friends of the Truth in Sweden. The spiritual appetite, the hunger and thirst for the "meat in due season" is great, and love toward the Lord and to you, his servant, and to all the children of God, is growing rapidly amongst us, as the eyes of our understanding get more and more opened. About the zeal and interest in the service and spreading of the Truth the following figures will show:
|Copies of DAWN Volumes||5,201|
|Various booklets, About Hell, Tabernacle Shadows, etc.||6,288|
|Number of subscribers on Swedish ZION'S VAKT-TORN||1,368|
|Old sets Swedish TOWER, cloth-bound and unbound||209|
|Volunteer Tracts and sample TOWERS||309,689|
|Expressed in usual form of Tract pages||4,512,624|
|Number of Meetings held||556|
|Number of miles traveled in preaching tours||16,167|
|Letters and cards received||1,829|
|Letters and cards sent out||1,281|
|Total number of various sendings, by mail and by railroad, sent out from this office||11,159|
|Pilgrim, Convention and other meetings||kr. 2,338.06||$ 623.48|
|For translation, printing, printing paper, etc.||6,225.86||1,660.23|
|Freight and postage||1,310.95||349.59|
|Office expenses, rent, light, heat, etc.||3,212.87||856.77|
|Voluntary Donations to Tract Fund||kr. 5,050.62||$1,346.83|
|Swedish TOWER subscriptions||1,880.43||501.45|
|Books sold, etc.||5,813.29||1,550.22|
The Society's representative writes: –
Our joy is not confined to the expansion in the various departments of the Harvest work under our supervision, but we also rejoice to note that the friends within the range of our observation are growing in the knowledge and spirit of the Truth.
Numerous letters which we have received from time to time assure us of the blessings that the friends have derived from these visits. It seems to us to be the Lord's will that this service should not only be continued, but that it should be extended wherever possible. We are continually praying for the Lord's blessing upon those already in this service, and we are daily asking our heavenly Father to supply us with more efficient laborers for this branch of the Harvest work.
The general convention held recently at Annotto Bay was the largest ever held under the auspices of the Society in Jamaica. About 350 brethren and friends were in attendance and were greatly blessed by partaking of the spiritual feast which the Lord spread before us.
Our TOWER list for the year shows very little increase. We have reported the names of quite a number of new subscribers, but the gain in this way has been almost offset by the new postal regulations, which compelled us to drop many names from our lists. The erasures of these names has resulted favorably, however, for it has shown us just who the truly interested ones are, besides saving us the postage for mailing TOWERS to those who do not appreciate them.
We start the new year with bright prospects before us, and we pledge our faithful services to the Lord and to the Society, to do with our might whatever our hands may find to do in laying down our lives for the brethren.
We have also received a report of the work done in the Panama Canal Zone. Bro. Isaiah Richards has put out about one thousand volumes during the year. There are also a few interested friends in Colon with whom he meets from time to time.
|Number of Pilgrims||8|
|Number of Pilgrim visits||48|
|Number of Public Meetings held||34|
|Number of Private Meetings held||472|
|Number of Miles traveled||6,687|
|Number of Regular Colporteurs||26|
|Total output of DAWN-STUDIES||4,272|
|Total output of Booklets||2,949|
|Letters, etc., received||1,476|
|Letters, etc., sent out||1,311|
|Sundries, current expenses, &c.||207||1||9½|
|Deficit for 1908||£403||6||½|
In India the Society has four devoted representatives whose influence is considerably circumscribed by the fact that they are soldiers in the British army. But they and we are thankful that the Truth reached them and that they are, as Colporteurs, etc., doing what lies in their power to lift up the Divine standard. We have no report from them respecting the work done the last year.
We are glad to be able to report some progress in South Africa. The Lord's blessing has attended the work there to a considerable degree, as reported by Brother Booth. There are now three Dutch preachers interested, who are delivering the message with considerable freedom to about eight congregations. And there are three black brethren who are preaching the Truth to the natives. One of these has gone northward about two thousand miles to his home region to carry the message. This brother, although young, speaks several of the native languages, and writes the English quite fluently. The latest report from him is very encouraging. The natives seem to have open ears for the Good Tidings of Great Joy, the message of Restitution. They seem also, to some extent, to grasp the heavenly calling.
Altogether we are quite pleased with the work thus far accomplished in Africa. Some thirty-four partook of the Memorial Supper last year in Cape Town vicinity, and it is expected that over one hundred will participate next Spring. And, apparently, from the reports, the light of Truth is spreading in every direction, and with considerable power. A consignment of Dutch DAWNS has had just about time to reach South Africa, and we may expect a still more favorable report next year, we trust.
Alas! for the perversity of human nature. But has it not been always so – that the persecutors of the Truth have been those who had greatest reason to be its servants? Our lesson opens with the account of the trial of the apostles before the Sanhedrin Court. Caiaphas, the very one who condemned Jesus, was present, as were other ecclesiastics. If the apostles wondered that the Lord had permitted them to be stopped in their preaching and be imprisoned for the night, they probably saw when they were before the Sanhedrin the good reason for it all. God thus provided that the most learned, the most influential, red-handed with the blood of Jesus, should be brought face to face with the truth of the same. As the apostles answered the questions propounded, these clerics must have perceived that the Spirit of Christ in his followers was still able, not only to perform miracles, but to endow those humble fishermen with eloquence and courage to fully defend their position and voice the Truth.
Let us learn this lesson – to look through all of life's experiences for the accomplishment of the Divine purposes. When we become discouraged with trials or difficulties, yet know that we are faithfully serving the Lord and in line with the teachings of his Word, we should have faith to believe that the end of his dealings with us will fully justify every trial and difficulty between.
There was no disputing the fact that the lame man, known for years to all the frequenters of the temple, had been healed. He had been seen jumping, walking and praising God. By their questions these clerics would give the inference that they believed the curing work had been accomplished by Satanic power. The trial was evidently to be conducted along this line – to prove the apostles emissaries of Satan. But the blessing upon St. Peter was in full harmony with the promise that when he would be called upon to stand before magistrates and princes, language would be given him. From his lips poured forth such a stream of argument as quite overwhelmed his questioners. He told them in whose name his miracles had been performed – in the name of the one whom they had crucified some months before. He told them in the name of whose power he had wrought the miracles, namely, the power of God.
He properly made no apologies for his Master, nor for his having been numbered with the wicked. He charged straight home the responsibility of his death upon them, and then quoted them from the prophecies, "This is the stone which was set at naught by the builders, which is become the head of the corner." (Acts 4:11.) Neither was there salvation in any other than the one that they had crucified as a criminal. Astounding boldness, courage, ability! No wonder we read that they marveled at the boldness and the courage of these apostles, who they perceived were unlearned and ignorant men! No wonder that they took knowledge that these had been with Jesus and learned of him!
The same principle still holds good. Whoever the Lord may use as his mouthpiece will be endowed with corresponding ability to render the service for which the Lord has called, if he abide faithful, as did the apostles. We need not fear the attitude of the opponents, whether in high or low positions, if we are the Lord's, devoted to his cause. "He who is for us is more than all they that be against us." Why should we not have courage? Notice, nevertheless, that while the Apostle manifested such courage in speaking of the Truth, there was nothing proud, domineering or boastful or slanderous in his utterances. He told the Truth in a simple manner. Let our course be similar.
They soon stopped the speaker. They were not anxious to have matters thoroughly opened up. They had heard enough. They stood them aside until they had conferred. What they were afraid of was the spreading of the thing. It was not with them a question of right or wrong, of truth or falsity, of God or Satan, but the matter of the spread of religious views which would nullify their influence.
Their conclusion was that they could find no fault with the matter, but that they would threaten the apostles and try to restrain them with fear, so that the New Doctrines might not spread and upset their system and lower their dignity in the honor of Messiah, and weaken the power of the nation. They seemed to fear what has already come to pass, namely, that the religion of Jesus would excel Judaism in numbers and in influence. How remarkable was the influence of Jesus and of his twelve apostles! That spirit of Jesus which they discerned in the apostles reminds us of the poet's verse: –
Of this thing we may be sure, that, however many of the Lord's people are by nature "chiefly the mean things of this world and the things that are naught," nevertheless if they become copies of God's dear Son, they will lose the meanness from their hearts and instead will be partakers of his grace, his spirit, his holiness.
When recalled before the Sanhedrin and told that the decision was that they should be discharged, but that they should be cautioned, warned, threatened, that they should not preach any more in the name of Jesus, the apostles modestly, courteously, but very boldly said, Whether your attack be right or not, we must follow our own conscience; "We cannot but speak the things we have heard." How very proper this reply! Yet how much courage it must have required for men without any education and without much wisdom to have to stand before magistrates and those of high estate! Why could they not refrain from preaching! Why would not the apostle's words apply to them, "Be subject to the powers that be." The answer is that while we are to be subject to earthly powers, as respects earthly things, we have a still higher responsibility in respect to the spiritual, the heavenly things. Our heavenly Father prepared the way for the Gospel by the sending of his Son. And our Lord said to his apostles, "Go ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature." – Mark 16:15.
So long, therefore, as the apostles could reasonably, properly find hearers for their Master's Word, they preached it. And so it must be with us. We must not be intimidated. While obedient to the powers that be respecting every earthly way, we, like the apostles, cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard. To keep the message secret, to put our light under a bushel, would mean our own failure to progress, the dwarfing of our New Nature, and ultimately disobedience to our Master; and obedience to earthly powers along this line would mean to us failure as respects a place with Jesus in his throne. It is overcomers whom the Lord is now seeking! There could be no overcoming if there were no trials, and tests, and character development.
Let us, then, while obedient to every earthly law and regulation, feel perfectly free to do the Lord's will in every matter, even the smallest, even to the extent of bringing upon ourselves the disapprobation of the world and the worldly, even though it bring us stripes, imprisonment. We have not the crown yet, but the cross, and whatever will help us to take it up and bear it faithfully will be a cause for thanksgiving.
With such a flood of popularity as came to the Church at Pentecost, it was only to be expected that some would be carried in by the excitement and the miracles and the favor of the Lord who were not "Israelites indeed." But the latter evidently were few comparatively. Amongst the true, there was the fervor, the love, the fellowship of kindred minds. They realized themselves children of God, and brethren of the Lord Jesus Christ, and of each other. The experience was a new one, and the holy Spirit ruling in their hearts their sympathies flowed together in one common stream. Were some of them poor or crippled, lowly or sad, the others took delight in ministering to their comfort. They were brethren in the fullest, deepest sense. How blessed this relationship none can really know, except those who have experienced it.
How few have experienced this mutual love in this our day! The mixture of the spirit of worldliness has so diluted the spirit of the Master in the hearts of the majority that true, brotherly love is but little understood. Nowhere probably in the world is the spirit of the brotherhood of the early Church more manifest today than amongst the gathering of the WATCH TOWER readers, in general conventions, or in lesser gatherings. It is beautiful indeed, heart-refreshing, to note the loving interest manifested one toward another. It evidences our return to the simplicity which is in Christ, and to the fellowship of his Spirit. Let us be glad for this. Let us cultivate this proper spirit, that the love of God and the love of the brethren may be more and more shed abroad in our hearts.
Selfishness is buried under love; or rather, temporarily, it is filled, for selfishness is the spirit of the world and of the Adversary, while love is the Spirit of God, the holy Spirit. We are not supposing that in their fervency and in their comparative ignorance of their own weaknesses and of the weaknesses of each other, the early followers of the Lord started the Communistic arrangement. Putting all their property and wealth together, they shared it as each had need. The lesson ultimately was a good one: (1) It showed both them and us what should, by right, be the spirit of all who love the Lord and are begotten by his holy Spirit to the New Nature, as members of the Body of Christ, his brethren, God's people. All of the poor in heart should still feel longings for such a condition of mutual helpfulness. However, this lesson learned, another was needed, namely, that the Lord's people, with the best of intentions in their hearts, are so differently organized physically – fallen in such different directions – that it is not practical, not feasible, for them to attempt to live together along Communistic lines. While giving each other credit for purity of heart and honesty of motives, the Lord's people learn that in their flesh dwelleth no perfection, and, likewise, none in the flesh of their brethren. Hence, with the same love in our hearts, the one for the other, we have learned that it is better to allow each other full freedom and full responsibility as respects the management of earthly affairs, and that this is the condition in which each can be happiest, and in which each can make greatest progress and learn best the needed lessons of preparation for the Millennial Kingdom and its services.
The early Church learned this lesson speedily. Its Communism did not last long. First of all the apostles found that, notwithstanding the confidence of [R4318 : page 26] the Church in them as spiritual and able ministers of the Gospel, and specially sent of the Lord, there were murmurings against them, because some thought that their interests were not so well served from the general fund as those of others. This led to the giving over of the management to the deacons, and ultimately the entire project fell to pieces. It taught a lesson profitable to the Lord's Church from that same to the present time. That lesson is that it is possible to have Communism in heaven, or on earth amongst perfect men, but not feasible to have it amongst those who are imperfect, and whose tastes and appetites, experiences, etc., are diverse. This is our answer to the dear friends who occasionally urge the expediency of Socialistic and Communistic arrangements at the present time.
We assure them, first, that the project is not feasible, because, however sympathetic and loyal our hearts are one to the other, our mortal bodies and their tastes cannot be kept in full harmony. And discord becomes the more serious, the more close the contact and unlimited the time. Furthermore, as the Lord raised up the great persecution which scattered the Church and its Communism and sent them everywhere as solitary witnesses for the Truth, so, we believe, it will be here. The Lord wills that his people shall be scattered throughout the world, in order that they may the better let their lights shine in the midst of the earthly darkness, bearing witness to the Truth.
The description given us in the lesson beautifully illustrates the spirit of full consecration to the Lord – a full love and generosity towards all the brethren and a full confidence in the apostles as the Lord's representatives. Their wealth was brought and laid at the apostles' feet. Amongst others who did thus was Joseph, the uncle of John Mark, supposedly a member of a wealthy family, residing in the Mount of Olives, in the house the garden of which was our Lord's Gethsemane. He now had become an earnest follower of the Nazarene. He sold a field which he possessed and brought the proceeds to the apostles' feet. He was evidently a man of great sympathy and beautiful character, as is evidenced by the surname given him in the early Church, namely Barnabas. The word signifies, "Son of a consoling message," or, more briefly, "Son of consolation." Thank God the same spirit is yet to be found amongst his people. Some of them are sons and some of them are daughters of consolation, especially to his other sons and daughters – sympathetic, loving, kind, helpful.
Barnabas was a Levite, and hence was trained with a view to the work of a teacher, instructor amongst his people. Tradition has it that he became acquainted with Saul of Tarsus in the Gamaliel school. However, the bonds of union between the two, which subsequently took them forth as messengers of the good tidings, was not the earthly tie, but the spiritual one. So with us. The more we possess of the spirit of holiness, devotion to God, to righteousness, the spirit of love and devotion to the brethren, the more may we be sons of consolation, pouring forth upon all with whom we have contact the unction from the "Holy One," the anointing, the perfume of love.
Barnabas is set before us in the lesson as a sample of the spirit of proper fellowship and brotherhood in the early Church, and the consolation resulting. Let it be so with us. Let us each strive to be worthy of this name – Barnabas – in our home relationship, and especially in the Church of Christ. Let us see to it that we are not strife-breeders, but peacemakers. Let us remember the words of inspiration, "Mark them that cause divisions amongst you, and avoid them" – reprove them by avoiding them. Show them that you do not sympathize with such a strifeful, unholy spirit. We are not to smite them, nor to speak evil of them, nor to revile them in turn again, but simply to give our attention and smiles and cheering words to others, to such as manifest more of the Lord's Spirit. To those who can be helped at all, such a course will be very helpful, far more so than fellowshiping with them, which might, indeed, encourage them to feel that they had the approval of the pure in heart and noble in mind. We are to distinguish between such an avoidance and such a fellowship and the appointment to honorable positions in the Church as one thing, and the still different matter of disfellowshiping and cutting off from the Body of Christ, the Church. The latter can be properly done only according to the rules prescribed by our Master in Matt. 18:15-17.
Now we come to the other side of the lesson. In Ananias and Sapphira, his wife, we have an illustration of a deceitful, hypocritical spirit, displeasing to God, and to all the right-minded of his children. These desired and appreciated the general spirit of the Church, and wished to share in it, but wished to keep back a part of the price. As St. Peter pointed out they had a perfect right to do this, and might have kept it all, but they had no right to lie about it, to pretend that they were making a full consecration of everything, when the case was otherwise. Therein consisted their fault. They might indeed have deceived their fellow-creatures of the Church, but they could not deceive the Lord. St. Peter, under the power of the holy Spirit, and possessing the gift of discerning the spirits, was made acquainted with the situation, and, acting under Divine guidance, he reproved them in the name of the Lord, and the result was their death, as recorded.
Although we are not of those who believe that they went to eternal torment, it might seem to us strange that the Lord's providence would not grant them instruction on the subject, rather than permit their destruction. We may safely assume that the imposing of a summary death sentence upon them was with a view of giving a general lesson to the Church, not only of that day, but ever since. It would not at all surprise [R4318 : page 27] us if Ananias and Sapphira would have some portion of God's Great Plan in the future, when they may learn the error of their course and mend their way and learn righteousness. It would appear as though they had share with the Church in the various blessings thus far enjoyed. We doubt, however, if they were spirit-begotten ones, and hence amenable to the Second Death. However, we may be sure that when all the secrets are unfolded, the wisdom, love, justice and power of our God, in connection with this and every other obscure dealing of his, will be made fully manifest.
The lesson brought great fear to the whole Church; not the fear which has torment, not the fear which comes from lack of faith, but the proper kind of fear, the fear of reverence, the fear of trifling, of offending our gracious Father and Lord, from whom we have already received so many blessings and from whom we are expecting to receive the crowning blessings of glory, honor and immortality. This was the fear to which the Apostle referred, admonishing that we should all have, saying, "Let us fear, lest a promise being made us of entering into his rest, any should seem to come short of it."
Our Golden Text points us to God's abomination of lying lips and his delight in the Truth. The principle of Truth is honesty, and it effects not only our words, but all of the conduct of life; yea, and also our thoughts. Hypocrisy is deceit of action. To deceive another is lying in one of its most unworthy forms. And, as the mainspring of life is in the heart, and "out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh," and the conduct of life is arranged, we may see that a deceitful heart and a deceitful mind are most dangerous things in the world. How jealously, therefore, God's people should guard their thoughts – in respect to God, in respect to the world, in respect to every word and act, to the intent that no injustice is permitted, no falsehood is recognized. Such are the pure in heart. Such are the saints. Such will see God and be joint-heirs with their Lord. How diligently, then, we should watch our hearts, our thoughts, that they be honest, true, truthful, in every sense and particular!
What we now see still more distinctly it is our duty and privilege to lay before the Household of Faith. We remind you, however, that as it took some of us quite a while to get a proper focus upon the Abrahamic Covenant, it may now take some of us a considerable time to still further differentiate between the Abrahamic Covenant and the New Covenant. Remember also that a clear understanding of every detail of God's Plan, while desirable, is not necessarily essential to our blessing thereunder. For instance, we believed in the precious blood of Christ and were justified thereby freely from all things, when we did not at all understand the philosophy of the Atonement – even as the majority of Christian people do not understand it now. The increasing knowledge did not bring increasing justification, but it did bring increased appreciation and love and devotion and opportunity for greater harmony with the Divine purposes better understood.
St. Paul pointed out to us most distinctly that the original Covenant made with an oath to Abraham was in every way the superior one and that it, being a one-sided Covenant, an unconditional promise, has no mediator. St. Paul tells us that the Law Covenant was "added" to the Abrahamic Covenant in God's dealing with the nation of Israel. It is called a Law Covenant because the benefits of that Covenant were offered only to those who would keep the Law in all its requirements – inviolate. He calls it the Hagar Covenant, because it was a bondage and because its offspring, the Jewish nation, could not inherit the promised blessings and privileges. He tells us that it made nothing perfect, brought nothing to perfection. Although faith had a place and the grace of God had some manifestation towards Israel, yet neither faith nor grace affected their Covenant, which was hard and fast and demanded obedience to the works of the Law – "He that doeth these things shall live by them." Since none could do perfectly, that Covenant of works brought only condemnation of their imperfect works. It had a mediator, Moses, but he was unable to accomplish anything for the people, because of their imperfection through heredity. We properly call this the Law Covenant.
The Apostle points that as Hagar's child was born before Isaac, who represented The Christ, Head and Body, "The New Creation," so the nation of Israel, Moses and all the people baptized into him in the sea and in the cloud, "The house of servants," would be developed before Spiritual Israel, the New Creation – Christ and all the members of the house of sons of spirit-begetting.
As the Covenant of Grace (Sarah) existed before the Law Covenant was added to it, so it continued to exist after the Law Covenant was set aside as a Covenant, its prize of life eternal having been won by "the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself a Ransom for all." So, then, the Covenant of Grace (Sarah), which preceded the Law Covenant (Hagar) four hundred and thirty years, continued alive during the whole period of the Law Covenant, but without children, and then brought forth the Head of the Seed, Jesus. The Law Covenant was then cast aside – "Cast out the bond-woman and her son; for the son of the bond-woman shall not be heir with the son of the free-woman" – The Christ, the Heir of the original promise, now being developed. From the Scriptural standpoint the Resurrection is the birth; as, for instance, our Lord is the "First-Born from the dead, the First-Born amongst many brethren," and "his brethren," "his members," "his Bride" (three different names for the "elect" Church), must all be brought forth from the dead, all be "changed" to spirit condition before the Seed of Abraham will be complete. [R4319 : page 28]
This is the Mystery – the selection of the Church as the Bride of Christ during this Gospel Age, to be sharers with their Redeemer in the sufferings of this present time, and also in the glory that shall follow. Hence the Apostle was very solicitous that he might have share in "His Resurrection," The Christ Resurrection, "The First Resurrection." Not until that "First Resurrection" is finished will the Seed of the Sarah Covenant be fully born. This is quite in accord with the prophetic statement, "Shall I bring to the birth (deliver the Head), and not cause to come forth (the Body)." (Isa. 66:9.) The intimation is that so surely as Jesus, the Head of the Body, was brought forth in the Resurrection, born from the dead, so surely will all the members of his Body share with him his glorious "change" from mortality to immortality, from earthly to heavenly nature.
What about the Jews under the Law (Hagar) Covenant? Were they on that account cut off from the very privileges and blessings which they so desired – of being Abraham's Seed and heirs according to the promise? We answer, Yes. The Apostle shows that the children of the bond-woman could not be heirs with the children of the free-woman. How, then, did the apostles and others, who were of Israel according to the flesh, come into relationship with Christ and the Sarah Covenant (of grace)? The Apostle tells us that as a human marriage is dissolved by the death of one of the parties, so those of the Jews who could recognize by faith that Christ's death had fulfilled the terms of the Law Covenant could realize that that Covenant was dead, and hence, that they were freed from it and could become married to another – united to Christ. On the contrary any Jew who does not recognize that Christ, by his death, has "made an end of the Law, nailing it to his cross," and who still continues to believe in that Covenant, is as firmly bound thereby as though the Covenant were still alive; just as a woman whose husband was really dead, but she thought him alive, could not conscientiously marry another.
The Apostle explains that all of that nation who lacked proper faith in Christ were cast off, "blinded," not forever, but until the completion of the House of Sons, the New Creation, the spirit members of the spiritual Body of spiritual Israel – The Christ. Ah! but, says one, if they be cast off, "blinded," until the elect Church is complete, then they can have no part in it; and, being under the conditions of the Hagar (Law) Covenant, will they not be in an unsatisfactory state, under a New Covenant? And according to this evidence, did not God rather deceive the nation of Israel, when he entered into the Law Covenant with them at Sinai, knowing that they could not keep it, and could not get life under it, and yet permitting them, so supposing, to put themselves under that bondage? Are not the Lord's ways just and equal?
Yes, we answer, and the full scope of the Divine purpose when seen is glorious in its harmony. The difficulty in the past has been that we have seen as through an obscured glass, and not face to face. Now we perceive that God intends to recognize two seeds of Abraham, the one heavenly, like unto the stars of heaven; the other earthly, like unto the sands of the seashore. The attempt of the Law Covenant to bring forth the natural seed first was abortive – a failure. First must come the spiritual Christ, Head and Body, partaker of the divine nature, heir of all things. Then God's favor will return to natural Israel. But since the Law Covenant completed its purpose and was demonstrated to be unavailable for them, because of the weaknesses of the flesh, God purposes to make with that nation, and with that nation alone, a New Covenant. Not a single statement of Scripture identifies the New Covenant with the Gentiles. On the contrary, it is Israel's New Covenant given to displace the Old or Law Covenant. Let us note well that the great mass of the early Church were Hebrews and that the Apostle's references to the New Covenant are almost exclusively in his epistle to the Hebrews. One exception is in Rom. 11:27, where the Apostle, although addressing Christians of Gentile birth, tells them that natural Israel was cast off for their sakes, but is still beloved for the fathers' sake, and is again to have Divine favor, under a special Covenant. The other (2 Cor. 3:6) refers to the royal priesthood as able (qualified) servants of the New Covenant – dying with Christ for its sealing. – Mal. 3:1.
The more closely we investigate the New Covenant, the more we must be convinced of this fact – that it belongs to Israel alone, including the two nations into which they divided at the death of Solomon – Israel and Judah. Note the statement of the Prophet, "Behold the days will come, saith the Lord, when I will make a New Covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, not according to the Covenant [the Law Covenant] which I made with them when I took them by the hand and led them out of the land of Egypt." The Apostle, endeavoring to prove to the Jews that they could gain nothing under the Law Covenant, points out this prophecy, and tells them that the fact that God speaks of this as a New Covenant implies that a preceding [Law] Covenant had become old, valueless, and was preparing to pass away – "In that he saith, a New Covenant, he hath made the first old; now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away." – Heb. 8:13.
The New Covenant is to take the place of the old and unsatisfactory one. There were two old Covenants, the Grace, or Sarah Covenant, and the Law, or Hagar Covenant. Which did the Apostle mean had grown old, valueless, and would pass away and give place to the New Covenant? Surely there can be no doubt or misunderstanding on this point. [R4320 : page 28] He meant the Law Covenant, for he says so. He did not mean the original Grace or Sarah Covenant, for he points out that our claim to relationship to God is under that original Covenant, as members of the Body of Christ, members of the Bride of Christ, Joint-Heirs with him. Our Lord Jesus, by his obedience, became heir of all, heir of the original Covenant and heir also of the Law Covenant. Of the people there was none with him, neither Jews nor Gentiles. But by the grace of God there was provision made, as we have seen, that any Jew, seeing that the Law Covenant was dead, nailed to the cross, might become betrothed to Christ. They did not need to wait for the New Covenant, the provisions of which apply only to those on the earthly plane. Instead, by a faith justification and a consecration unto death, they were counted worthy of begetting to the new nature – betrothal to Christ. And similarly Gentiles, favored of God by the hearing ear and seeing eye of faith, were subsequently privileged to go through the same process, except that they did not need to reckon themselves dead to the Law Covenant, because they never were under it. Otherwise, recognizing Christ's death as the blood of the original Covenant, typified by Abraham's offering up his son, these also were reckoned justified and, presenting their justified bodies to the Lord as sacrifices, they were begotten of the same holy Spirit as the Jews, to be fellow-members of the same Body – the Body of Christ.
We come now to the other part of the question: What provision has God made for those Jews who bound themselves under the Law Covenant, from Moses' day down to the first advent; and for those who since then have not discerned the death of the Law Covenant and who will not be made aware of it until after the spiritual Seed shall have been completed and glorified? If they have not lost all share and privileges in connection with God's special mercies, where do they come in? We answer that Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and others before [R4320 : page 29] the Law Covenant were not bound by it, yet were not in the fullest sense justified to life until the Abrahamic Covenant had been established at Calvary. Their faith, then, entitled them to a share in the merits of that sacrifice. Likewise throughout the period of the Law Covenant, before it was annulled at the cross, there were Ancient Worthies who lived above the masses of their time, and who, although bound by the Law, had above it a living faith in the original Oath-Bound (Sarah) Covenant of Grace. These in the Divine records were entitled to their share of that grace, as soon as the merit of Calvary's sacrifice had been presented on behalf of believers, when Jesus "ascended up on high, there to appear in the presence of God on our behalf." Although they lived while the Law Covenant was alive, they foresaw its death and trusted not in it, but in the superior Covenant of Grace. Hence these in due time will come forth to a life resurrection, not because of their relationship to the Law Covenant, under which they lived, nor because of their relationship to the New Covenant, of which some of them knew nothing, but because of their relationship to and faith in the original (Sarah) Covenant of Grace.
Thus the Scriptures account for the faithful ones of the past under the Covenant of Grace. But what now shall we say respecting those earthly Israelites, who lived not on that higher plane of faith, but of whom the Apostle says, "Our twelve tribes instantly serving God day and night hope to come" unto this promise. (Acts 26:7.) Were they all deceived? Will they get those special blessings?
Nay, we answer, the gifts and calling of God are things not to be repented of. He who knew the end from the beginning knew exactly what Israel would be and do, and was not disappointed, and all of the plans and promises to that nation were made from the standpoint of this knowledge. Although the chief feature of the Sarah Covenant was secured by our Lord Jesus as a trophy of his victory over sin and death, and although he laid down his human nature completely to this end, nevertheless the Divine arrangement is such that the blood of Christ, the merit of his sacrifice of earthly things, must accrue to the benefit of the natural seed of Abraham, because it all goes to seal the New Covenant, which belongs exclusively to fleshly Israel. The opportunity granted to both the Jews and Gentiles to become Joint-Heirs with the Redeemer was based upon their offering themselves to him in sacrifice, and his acceptance of their offerings as his own – his sacrificing them throughout this age as his own flesh – and God's acceptance of them as New Creatures, begotten of the Spirit, as brethren of Christ, or the betrothed of Christ, or members of his Body. Only by thus sharing with our Lord, drinking his cup, being baptized into his baptism of death, surrendering all into his hand, can we have fellowship with him in his sufferings; and his death (including ours) seals the New Covenant in his blood, of which he said, "Drink ye all of it." In his cup we are partakers, joint-sacrificers. – 1 Cor. 10:16.
Thus while natural Israel had been counted enemies for our sakes, for the Gospel's sake, our only opportunity for gaining the great prize is in connection with the sealing of a New Covenant between God and Israel. How beautifully the features of the Divine program balance! Their loss was our gain, and our gain through sacrifice becomes their gain; and, altogether, the Lord will be glorified!
As already shown, the New Covenant will not be sealed, ratified, until the sacrifices of The Christ shall have been finished. And the finishing of these sacrifices closes the work of this great Day of Sacrifice and Atonement. With the second presentation of the blood of Atonement in the Most Holy, at the end of this age, the New Covenant with Israel will be sealed, and the blessing of the Lord will begin to Israel, "For this is my Covenant with them, when I shall take away their sins." – Rom. 11:27.
Not only did the original promise indicate two seeds of Abraham – one as the stars of heaven, and the other as the sands of the sea – but St. Paul elaborates this thought, saying of the promise, "It is of faith, that it might be by grace, to the end that the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the Law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all (including you who are Romans); as it is written, I have made thee a father of many nations." We have seen how Abraham, as a type of God, is the father of the spiritual Seed and how through Christ, by the provision of the New Covenant, the Jewish nation, dead under the Law Covenant, is to be regenerated by The Christ, the Mediator of the New Covenant; and that this regeneration will commence at the close of this Gospel Age and the opening of the Millennial Age. But these are only two – "the (Church) holy nation," and the (Jewish) chosen nation. How do all nations come in? It will not do to say the Body of Christ, the Bride class, fulfils this prophecy, because, although they were taken out of the nations, they are not all nations, and do not even represent all nations. Each first died to his earthly estate and nationality, before he was begotten of the holy Spirit to be a member of the holy nation, the New Creation.
The Scriptures distinctly show that Christ and his Church, spirit beings, must constitute the Kingdom class, but they also show that the Ancient Worthies, and through them the nation of Israel under the New Covenant, will become the representatives of the heavenly Kingdom amongst men. It will be with these that the blessing of the Lord in the Millennial morning will begin. Thus we read of Jacob's trouble, that he shall be saved out of it and that the Lord will restore their judges as at the first, and their law-givers as at the beginning – the Ancient Worthies resurrected on the earthly plane. (Jer. 30:7; Zech. 12:7.) The New Covenant will be the Law Covenant over again, only that it will have the better Mediator – The Christ, Head and Body, who will be able to make allowances for the imperfections of Israel's heredity. The sins of the past will all be forgiven, their physical blemishes waiting for restitution. They will be dealt with according to what they are, allowances being made in each individual case, and each will be required to heed the voice of the antitypical Moses. "And it shall come to pass that every soul which will not heed that Prophet, shall be utterly destroyed from amongst the people." – Acts 3:23.
Since God's favors are thus marked out for the heavenly and the earthly Seeds of Abraham – the earthly through the heavenly – it follows that the blessing of the other nations will come about through their affiliation with these. In other words, we may understand that the Divine Government established in Israel in the hands of the Ancient Worthies will be the center of Divine favor, and the people of other nationalities must come to this center for their supplies of truth and grace. Thus the Prophet represents the matter, saying, "Many nations shall go and say, Come and let us go up to the mountain (Kingdom) of the Lord, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths; for the Law shall go forth from Mount Zion (the spiritual Kingdom) and the Word of the Lord from Jerusalem (the center of the earthly Kingdom)." – Micah 4:2.
As thus all nations, peoples, kindreds and tongues shall be brought gradually to an appreciation of the Divine Plan; they shall all be blessed with Restitution privileges and opportunities and with an enlightenment from the rays of the Sun of Righteousness, which then through the appointed channels will be flooding all the earth. Thus will the original Covenant [R4321 : page 30] have its amplified fulfilment; first, in The Christ, the spiritual Israel; secondly, under the New Covenant with Israel after the flesh; and through these bless all the families of the earth, so that all the willing and obedient may gradually attain to the standards of the children of God and be possessed of the "liberties of the sons of God" – freedom from sin, sorrow, pain and death. As the old Law Covenant was with Israel only, so the New (Law) Covenant will be with Israel only. Other nations will share it by becoming Israelites, "Proselytes of the gate," not under the old but under the New Covenant. (Ezek. 16:60,61.) "He that hath an ear to hear, let him hear."
"Know your calling." Let us who have accepted the Divine call in Christ bear in mind that, according to the Apostle's declaration, we are the children of the Sarah Covenant. We are the Bride of Isaac, and his Joint-Heirs, of whom it is written, "If ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's Seed and heirs according to the promise." Our only relationship to the New Covenant is that the Father drew us to Jesus and Jesus covered us with his robe of righteousness and thus made it possible for us to be called to joint-fellowship with himself in the "better sacrifices," participation in the "cup" of suffering and death – "the blood of the New Covenant" – for the sealing of the New Covenant for Israel, under which all the families of the earth will get a blessing. Thus in the divine purpose our Lord's death or blood justified the Church and (with the Church's) will seal the New Covenant for Israel and through Israel will become effective to all of Adam's race. "As all in Adam die, even so all in Christ shall be made alive – every man in his own order."
The Church comes into Christ as his Members or Body or Bride. Israel will come into The Christ family as children. "Instead of thy fathers shall be thy children." And this same privilege shall extend to all – to become regenerated "in the regeneration" when we shall sit with him on his throne.
Both the Abrahamic Covenant and the New Covenant are Scripturally styled "The Everlasting Covenant," in contrast with the Law Covenant, which passed away, a failure because of its "unprofitableness." (Heb. 7:18.) The one is perpetuated in the other, even as the spiritual Seed (spiritual Israel) will rule and bless through the earthly Seed (fleshly Israel). Note the Scripture testimony that the original Grace (or Sarah) Covenant is everlasting. (Gen. 17:7,13,19; 2 Sam. 23:5; Psa. 105:8-10.) Note other Scriptures which apply the same term prophetically to the New Covenant. (Jer. 32:40; 31:31,32; Ezk. 16:60.) Note carefully the context in each instance, that the reference is to the Millennium.
The blood of the Everlasting Covenant is the "blood of Jesus," his sacrifice, through the merit of which believers are now "justified by faith" under the Grace or Sarah Covenant (not by the New Covenant which does not yet exist and which is to be made only with Israel). And the blood or sacrifice of Jesus is "the blood of the New Covenant," yet to be established with Fleshly Israel, just the same only that by the Father's good pleasure Jesus is now accepting the "little flock" as his members and counting their sacrifice or blood as a part of his own.
Note how this is set forth in Isaiah 55:1-3. Here believers of this Gospel Age are described as those who hunger and thirst after righteousness. Under the Father's drawing they come to Jesus now. They are not of those who, blind and deaf under Satan's power, love darkness rather than light and will need the Kingdom regulations and corrections to make them bow and confess, under the New Covenant arrangement with Israel and indirectly with all nations.
To these hungry, thirsty, seeing, hearing, believers the Lord offers the "fatness" or cream of the Everlasting Covenant, saying, Obey and your soul shall live and I will give unto you the sure or promised mercies of David. David means beloved and is another name for the Redeemer, the antitypical King of Israel by Divine appointment.
This prophecy evidently, therefore, is the prophecy of the call of this Gospel Age to share with Jesus the glory, honor and immortality of the Kingdom. Note the context, "A nation that thou knowest not shalt thou call, and a nation that knew thee not shall run unto thee." (V. 5.) Unquestionably this is the Church – Spiritual Israel, "a holy nation," a peculiar people, chosen out of all nations to the heavenly Kingdom of the Millennium.
Note the description of Christ Jesus and his "Body" in Isaiah 42:1-7. Note that Messiah is "given" for [sacrificed in the interest of] a Covenant to the people (Israel) and for a light to the nations or heathen, to enable them all to come in that light under the blessings of Israel's New Covenant.
Come now to Hebrews 13:20, "Now the God of peace who brought again from the dead the Great Shepherd of the sheep (Jesus), through the blood of the Everlasting Covenant make you perfect." Does this refer to our justification from Adamic guilt and reconciliation to God? Not at all. The Father will have nothing to do with us (except to "draw" us to Jesus for justification and consecration) until after our justification. Then his mighty power which brought our Great Shepherd from the tomb to glory and immortality begins to mightily "work in us to will and to do his good pleasure." (Phil. 2:13.) If we abide in his love he will perfect us as New Creatures by the privileges granted us of sharing in the sufferings of Christ – participating in the shedding of the blood of the Everlasting Covenant, which as the New Covenant will bring blessings to Israel and then to the world. The Greek word here rendered "perfect you" signifies "knit you together," that is, make you completely one with the Shepherd as his "members" both in sufferings and in glory to follow.
Note also that in Hebrews 10:29 it is the blood of the Covenant that sanctified and not the blood that justified that, sinned against, merits the Second Death. We were justified by faith in the blood of Jesus. We were sanctified by our consecration to drink of his cup – the blood of the New Covenant. Only those who have gone on to this second degree and presented themselves as sacrificers (Romans 12:1) and have been accepted or sanctified by the begetting of the holy Spirit, as members of the "Body" of Christ and sons of the Highest, can commit the sin unto death. "If any man [thus presented and sanctified] draw back my soul shall have no pleasure in him. But we are not of those who draw back unto perdition" – Second Death. – Heb. 10:39.
Let us now briefly refer to all the Scriptures which mention the New Covenant, that we may note their full harmony with the foregoing. We have already examined the one statement connected with our text and see that it applies to the closing of this age – a shaking of the nations and everything out of harmony with God, preparatory to the establishment of the Kingdom, as the foundation of the New Covenant blessings to the world during the Millennium. There are just eight other texts in the New Testament which refer to the New Covenant:
(1) "For this cause he is made Mediator of a better Covenant [not better than the Grace or Sarah Covenant, but better than the Law Covenant], which was established upon better promises." (Heb. 8:6.) Our Lord Jesus had already begun the work necessary to his fulfilling this office of Mediator of the New Covenant. He had laid the foundation, but he had not yet accepted to himself all the members the Father intended and foreknew and predestinated. We notice from the context that the contrast still is between the Law [R4321 : page 31] Covenant and its Mediator Moses, and the New Covenant, superior because of its better Mediator, the Messiah. Moses could offer only imperfect sacrifices, but Christ, by antitypical sacrifices of the bullock and goat (himself and his Body), makes satisfaction for the sins of the whole world, and prepares to mediate the New Covenant, which God has promised shall be his channel for blessing Israel and the world.
(2) In the succeeding verse (8) the Apostle supports his argument by a quotation from the Old Testament promise to Israel of a New Covenant, saying, "Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a New Covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah." Clearly this does not refer to Spiritual Israel.
(3) Neither does the next reference to the New Covenant, which is a part of the same quotation from Jer. 31:31, refer to Spiritual Israel – "Not according to the Covenant that I made with their fathers...For this is the Covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts; and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people." – Heb. 8:8-10.
The days referred to in the above are "after" the days of this Gospel Age. The Apostle goes on to say, "And they shall not teach every man his neighbor and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord; for all shall know me from the least to the greatest, and I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and iniquities will I remember no more." This is a description of what will take place during the Millennium, and not a description of what we see about us today. God has not yet put his laws into the hearts of the house of Israel, and they are not his people, as he states they will be at the proper time in the end of this age when the New Covenant becomes operative. Compare Acts 15:15.
(4) "In that he saith, a New Covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away." Notice that the Apostle is not saying one word about the New Covenant being for the Church of Christ. His readers understood very well that they came [R4322 : page 31] in under the Sarah Covenant. But certain Judaizing teachers insisted that they must be under the Hagar Covenant, as well as under the Sarah Covenant. And this is what the Apostle is disputing. He is making clear that the (Hagar) Law Covenant would not continue, but perish, and that, in God's due time, he would provide a New Covenant to take its place with Israel.
(5) It was necessary that Jews be redeemed from the "dead works" of the old Law Covenant and that a New one be made for them by Christ – Head and members. The old one was sealed by the blood of bulls and goats, but the New one by "better sacrifices." Antitypically the blood of the bullock has been offered, and soon that of the goat will be presented. – Heb. 9:14-23.
(6) "This is the Covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts and in their minds will I write them; and their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. Now, where remission of sins is, there is no more offering for sin." (Heb. 10:16-18.) The Apostle is arguing along general lines. He would have his hearers understand that when an acceptable sacrifice has been offered to God for sins, the transaction is a closed one, and the sacrifice needs no repetition. He shows that this will be so in the future for the world. When the "better sacrifices," sealing the New Covenant, shall have been offered to God by our Redeemer, and accepted by him, it will mean the cancellation of all condemnation. On the strength of this work for the future the Apostle urges that we, the Body of Christ, whose sins have been atoned for by our Lord, the first sacrifice of the Day of Atonement (in the type the bullock), may count that our sins are completely cancelled, and will be remembered against us no more. "For by one offering he (Christ) hath perfected forever them that are sanctified": all justified by faith, who proceed to full consecration and sanctification. If numbered amongst the sanctified, we may know that our sins are completely obliterated from the Divine record, so far as justice is concerned, and that we have entered upon a new record as New Creatures and will be held accountable only for trespasses against our covenant to the Lord, our vow – by which we became members of the Christ, the Seed of Abraham, and heirs of the great (Sarah) Covenant of Grace.
(7) "For this is my Covenant to them, when I shall take away their sins. As concerning the Gospel they are enemies for your sakes; but as touching the elect, they are beloved for the fathers' sake." (Rom. 11:27,28.) There is no room to doubt that the Apostle here is referring to Israel's Covenant, the New Covenant, which God will make with them after this Gospel Day. The Apostle says the Covenant will be made when, or at the time that the Lord will "take away their sins." That time has not yet come. Israel is still under Divine condemnation, though we are now privileged to speak comfortably unto them and to assure them that the time for their deliverance is nigh, the time when the Mediator of the New Covenant will have taken on the last members of the spirit Body, the Gospel Church, "changed" by the power of the First Resurrection; the time when he will mediate that New Covenant, satisfy the demands of Divine justice on behalf of the world, as he already has satisfied it on behalf of the Church. Then he will become, as previously intended and declared, the great Mediator of the New Covenant between God and mankind in general – the Church being the exception, under the Covenant of Grace. Then will he begin his Millennial Kingdom: "For he must reign until he shall have put all enemies under his feet, and the last enemy that shall be destroyed is death." Then all who drank of his "cup," the blood [sacrifice] of the New Covenant, as members of the Spiritual Seed, will reign with him. – Gal. 3:29.
(8) "But ye are approached unto Mt. Zion,...to the New Jerusalem,...to the general assembly and Church of the Firstborns,...and to Jesus, the Mediator of the New Covenant and to the blood of sprinkling." (Heb. 12:24.) Here spiritual Israel is pictured as an army marching and the things at the farther end are seen and to be reached. Jesus reached the end of the way long ago, but the Church of Firstborns is not there yet. Jesus is the Mediator, but he has accepted the Church as his Bride, his Body, and waits for her arrival. The picture shows that the New Law Covenant will be established as the old Law Covenant was, only on a higher plane and through a greater Mediator and by better sacrifices. – Acts 3:23.
Not one of these references to the New Covenant makes the slightest suggestion that it is applicable to the Church. A reference to the original prophecy from which the Apostle quotes shows that it could not apply to the Church, for we there read that the Lord "will take away their stony hearts out of their flesh, and give them an heart of flesh." This is exactly the Restitution Work which will begin with Israel and extend to all the families of the earth, but it is not at all the work of this Gospel Age, which is far higher. The Lord does not give the "little flock" hearts of flesh, but, justified by faith, allows them to sacrifice the flesh, and begets them to a new nature, the glorious Seed of Abraham, through which all the families of the earth shall be blessed, by the inauguration of the New Covenant, sealed, made operative by the merit of the blood of Christ.
Come all who can, and let those who cannot join us there in person join in spirit and in prayers, and thus participate in the showers of refreshing which the Lord will surely pour upon us.
ONE-DAY LOCAL CONVENTIONS ADDRESSED BY THE EDITOR OF THIS JOURNAL AS FOLLOWS:
Friends from outside are cordially invited to participate. Any finding it necessary to spend the night in Cleveland will be gladly entertained. Address communications to Bro. Wm. Koch, 6909 Cedar Ave.
Morning session for Prayer, Praise and Testimony at 11:00 o'clock. Discourse by Brother Russell at 3:00 p.m. Evening meeting for the interested at 7:30 o'clock. This will be a Question Meeting. Visiting friends cordially welcomed.