ZWT - 1909 - R4301 thru R4536 / R4510 (337) - November 15, 1909
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VOL. XXX NOVEMBER 15 No. 22
A.D. 1909--A.M. 6038
The New Covenant in the Book of Hebrews...........339
Mediator of a Better Testament................341
Under-Priests Now Entering the Holies.........342
Inauguration of Law Covenant Typed
Institution of New Covenant.................343
"A Frenzy of Delusion"............................344
"One Mediator"--"The Man Christ Jesus"............345
The Power of the Will--Self-Control...............347
Developing Will Power.........................347
St. Paul's Autobiography..........................348
St. Paul's Three Proofs.......................348
Ransom Points to Be Remembered....................349
Some Interesting Letters..........................350
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THE NEW COVENANT IN THE BOOK OF HEBREWS
IF THE New Covenant, in no sense of the word, belongs to the Church--that is to say, if we are not under the New Covenant, if it belongs merely to Israel, and through Israel to the world, why does the Apostle have so much to say concerning it in the Book of Hebrews?
To appreciate the necessity for the Book of Hebrews, we must mentally take our stand back in apostolic days and get our bearings as though we were living there under those conditions. Thinking of matters from this sympathetic standpoint the answer to this question is very simple, very plain. The early Church for seven years after our Lord's baptism, for three and a half years after his cross, was composed exclusively of Jews. Not until the end of Israel's promised "seventy weeks" of special favor could the Gospel message go outside of that nation at all. We remember that Cornelius, a just man, who prayed always and gave much alms, was the first one from the Gentiles to be received. In his case we remember how it was necessary for God to specially prepare St. Peter for such a remarkable change in the Divine method of dealing.
We remember that years after this, the question of receiving the Gentiles and eating with them, or in any sense of the word recognizing them as being on equality with the Jews, was one which caused continual disturbance in the Church and amongst the most prominent of the apostles of the time. Years after Cornelius had received the holy Spirit teachers from Jerusalem went to Antioch and found that there Gentiles were received on an equal footing with the Jews in the Church of Christ without in any sense of the word subscribing to Moses and the Law Covenant. They were shocked and expressed themselves in such positive terms that the Antioch Church sent Paul and Barnabas with others to Jerusalem that a full conference on the question might be had. Guided of the holy Spirit the apostles reached right conclusions, yet even Peter was so little in sympathy with these conclusions that years after we find St. Paul reproving him for dissimulation and refusing to eat with the Gentile brethren when Jewish brethren were in the company --through deference to the Law Covenant, which somehow all Jews felt must be recognized and subscribed to. St. Paul seems to have been one of the apostles who early got the proper focus on this subject.
We find that this Judaizing teaching was not only in the ascendancy in Palestine, but that its influence in considerable measure affected the Gentiles. St. Paul's Epistle to the Galatians, for instance, shows us how many of them, Gentiles by birth, had been misled into believing that whatever blessings they might enjoy through Christ and the original Abrahamic Covenant, they must also become amenable to the Law Covenant. Note that the Apostle's letter to the Galatians is almost exclusively devoted to this subject, and remember that the Galatians were not Hebrews, or, at least, the majority of them were not. In that epistle he found it necessary to show that he had equal authority with the other apostles as a teacher--that the Galatians might know that he was as well qualified as the others, and as fully authorized to instruct them respecting their obligations; that his word was authoritative; that the Gentiles were not under the Law Covenant, but under the Grace Covenant--the original Abrahamic Covenant. He recounts that he did not get his instruction or his knowledge of the Gospel from the Apostles at Jerusalem, but that, so far as it was concerned, he had under the Lord's Providence been their instructor, rather than they his instructor.--`Gal. 2:1-14`.
Note carefully the Apostle's appeal in `Galatians III`., "O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the Truth, before whose eyes [of understanding] Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you? This only would I learn of you, Received ye the spirit by the works of the Law, or by the hearing of Faith?" etc. His entire argument in this chapter is to show that the Law Covenant never was over or binding upon the Gentiles, but only upon the Jews. He shows also that the Law Covenant, instead of advantaging the Jew, condemned him, so that the Jew needed to be specially redeemed from the curse or sentence of that Law Covenant, by our Lord's death by crucifixion. Throughout this chapter St. Paul contrasts the Law Covenant, from which the Jews were desirous to get free, with the original Abrahamic Covenant, which had only free children. He shows that the Gentiles were received under this Abrahamic Covenant of grace (favor), whose blessings are conferred on a basis of faith and not on a basis of works, as under the Law Covenant.
St. Paul shows further that the Law Covenant had Moses for a Mediator, because that Covenant placed binding obligations of obedience to the Law upon all who came under it. But, reasons the Apostle, the original Covenant made with Abraham was not so. It imposed no binding obligations, and therefore it needed no mediator and had no mediator. "Now a mediator is not a mediator of one, but God is one." (`Gal. 3:20`.) That is to say, a mediator is not necessary to a Covenant in which only one person is bound. In the case of the Abrahamic Covenant this is so: God is the one person bound by that Covenant; hence there is no need of a mediator for that Covenant to see to the faithful performance of the contract. However, as there was no mediator to guarantee a contract or Covenant on God's side, he gave to Abraham and to all who would be of his faith, the best possible guarantee that God did not make the Covenant lightly, in a trifling manner or thoughtlessly; for, in addition to pledging his Word, God gave his oath--that the Covenant was secure, sure, could not fail. It was this that gave Israel such great hope in that Oath-Bound Covenant.
The Apostle proceeds to show that the Law Covenant did a good service for the Jews in that it prepared them and brought them to Christ, the great Teacher; that by hearing his message, his invitation, they might exercise obedient faith, sacrificing faith, and, being baptized into Christ, might put on Christ--become members of his Body. All such, Jew and Gentile, bond or free, male or female, would be members of the one Body, of which Christ Jesus is the Head. This
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chapter winds up with that forceful statement, "If ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's Seed and heirs according to the promise"--the Covenant made to Abraham.
All this argument was to show the Galatians that, so far from needing to get under the Law Covenant, they had no need of it whatever, and those who were under it needed to get out from under it, in order to be able by faith to accept Christ as their Redeemer and Justifier, and by faith to consecrate their lives unto death, that they might be acceptable to God as members of the Body of Christ.
The `fourth chapter to the Galatians` continues the argument, the expostulation against the error of wanting to get under the Law Covenant, until, with tears in his pen, the Apostle writes, "My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you, I desire to be present with you now, and to change my voice (to one of sternness), for I stand in doubt of you. Tell me, ye that desire to be under the Law (Covenant), do ye not hear the Law?" Do ye not realize its bondage, its impossible exactions? "Behold, I, Paul, say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing. For I testify again to every man that is circumcised [every Jew], that he is a debtor to do the whole Law. Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are (trusting that you are) justified by the Law (Covenant); ye are fallen from grace."-- `Gal. 4:19-21`; `5:2-4`.
We have, perhaps, said sufficient to prove that the question of the Law Covenant was a burning question in the early Church, not only with the Hebrews, but also with the Gentiles. It seemed impossible, especially for the former, to learn that the Law Covenant, after having been in force, with all the wonderful paraphernalia of the Jewish dispensation, its laws, its sacrifices, etc.--that it, after all, was not necessary and that a Gentile could really have access to the Abrahamic Covenant through Christ easier than could a Jew.
It was to counteract this powerful error of that day that St. Paul wrote the Epistle to the Hebrews. It certainly has been a valuable epistle to the Gentiles, but it was written specially to the Hebrews, and because of their tenacious adherence to the Law Covenant, from the dominating influence of which they seemed not to be able to free themselves.
The Epistle to the Hebrews was written to prove that a totally new dispensation of Grace, and not of Works, had been ushered in through Jesus at Pentecost. He would have them see that Moses' faithfulness as a servant and Head of a typical priesthood, was inferior to Christ and the Royal
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Priesthood, of which he is the Head. He would have them see that Moses and his house were types and servants or illustrations of good things to come; but that Christ and his "elect" are sons of God, who will minister the real blessings in the future. He would have them see that there was a Canaan rest to which Moses led the willing and obedient priests and people of Israel, and that there is a greater rest which remains for the people of God, to which Christ will lead his people; and that those who by faith accept of Christ now may enter by faith into his rest in advance, now, in their hearts.
Noting that the Hebrews were long accustomed to look to the earthly priests and yearly ministrations for the cleansing away of sin, the Apostle calls attention to the fact that the Lord Jesus is the High Priest of a new order of priests and that his Church are those under-priests. Answering their objections that Jesus was not of the tribe of Levi, and therefore not entitled to the priesthood, he shows them that God had already foreshown that there would be a new priesthood of a different kind; that Melchizedek was a type of that new priesthood. He gives the intimation that while Jesus and his Church in the flesh in their sacrificing work were typified by Aaron and his sons, nevertheless the real work of this higher priesthood is a future one of glory, when Jesus, the great Priest, and the Church, his Body, an under priesthood, associated with him, will be installed in a kingly, as well as a priestly office, and in ruling, as well as teaching authority. These glories of the Christ in the Royal Priesthood of the Millennial Age were not at all represented in Aaron, but were quite well represented in Melchizedek, who was a king at the same time that he was a priest. His greatness was shown, in that Abraham did him homage and paid tithes to him. And since Levi, the Father of the priestly tribe, was in Abraham's loins at the time that the tithes were paid, therefore he and all his sons inferentially paid tithes to Melchizedek and thus the Melchizedek order of priesthood was recognized as higher than the Aaronic.
With this foundation for his subject the Apostle (`Heb. 7:18-22`) points out that it evidently was not God's intention to allow the Law Covenant to stand perpetually, nor to allow its priestly arrangements to continue forever. He proceeds to show that prophetically Jesus was made a priest by Divine appointment long before he came into the world--that God said of him, "I have sworn and will not repent; thou art a priest for the age after the order of Melchizedek" (`Heb. 7:21`) --not after the order of Aaron. This oath shows that the priesthood of Jesus was superior to the priesthood of Aaron which was established without any Divine Covenant of this kind. "By this much was Jesus made a surety of a better testament or Covenant." That is to say, the fact that God by his oath had recognized this higher order of priesthood particularly implied that in due time a New Covenant would supplant the Law Covenant, which the Hebrews felt must be perpetual.
The Apostle does not argue that the New Covenant had been established, nor that the new priesthood had been established in its office of combined kingship and priesthood. He merely points to the fact that such a New Covenant is assured by God's promise, which implied the doing away with the Law Covenant and its priesthood, and the introduction of a better one. He proceeds to show that Israel and the world needed a higher order of priesthood than the Aaronic to inaugurate the reign of righteousness under the New Covenant. He points to the two sacrifices of `Leviticus XVI`. and intimates that our Lord will fulfil that Day of Atonement type by two offerings; first, for his own sins (not for his individual sins, for he had none), but for the sins of those accepted during this Gospel Age as the under priesthood, the "members of his Body"; and then later a second sacrifice for the sins of the people--the world in general.
He tells us that the typical work of Atonement by the Levitical priest repeated this Atonement work every year (on the Atonement Day), but that our great Priest does it once for all time in the great antitypical Day of Atonement, in which he offers up himself--first individually, and secondly his members, collectively. In this connection we are to remember that as Christ offered himself in sacrifice at Jordan, and not at Calvary, so also he offered his Body, the Church, collectively in sacrifice at Pentecost. As the laying down of the life of the man Christ Jesus proceeded through three and a half years, and was finished at Calvary, so likewise the laying down of the life of the Church has proceeded since Pentecost, and it will not be finished until the last member of the Body shall have suffered with him--been faithful even unto death.
This was shown in the type; for, after the priest had sprinkled the blood of the bullock, he appeared at the door of the tabernacle and laid his hands (power) upon the head of the Lord's goat (which represented his consecrated Church) and slew it. We see, then, how this entire work of sacrificing may have been said to have been accomplished at the time when St. Paul wrote the Book of Hebrews. The Apostle does not proceed to tell of the consummation of this Gospel Age, but drops the matter here by showing the two sacrifices performed. That he does wish us to understand that the second sacrifice of Atonement was offered at Pentecost is evidenced by the fact that he speaks of the Church as under-priests in the holy, enjoying the light of the golden candlestick, the table of shewbread and the golden altar privileges, and waiting until the testings shall have been completed and we all shall have passed beyond the vail, even into heaven itself, where the blood of this second sacrifice of Christ will then be offered in the propitiatory on behalf of the world.
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MEDIATOR OF A BETTER TESTAMENT
`Hebrews VIII`. opens with the words, "Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum: We have an High Priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens; a minister (servant) of the sanctuary and of the true tabernacle." `Verses 3-5` show that the sacrificial work already referred to was a necessity before he could enter the still higher work of distributing to Israel and the world the blessings of God's favor secured by the "better sacrifices." The glorious High Priest in heaven has a more exalted service (ministry) than the earthly priests and, accordingly, he is the Mediator of a better Covenant or Testament than the Law Covenant. The Apostle is here showing that our Lord's sacrificial work needs not to be continued throughout eternity; but that he has been exalted to the heavenly plane, and has another work to accomplish, namely, as the Mediator of a better Covenant than the Law Covenant. He is trying to get their minds away from the thought that they are under the Law Covenant. If he can convince them that Christ is the antitype of Moses and the antitype of Aaron, he will thus convince them that there must be a higher Covenant and arrangement for the blessing of the world than the Law Covenant in which they were trusting and which they considered indispensable. The `remaining verses of the chapter` and `Jeremiah 31:31` show that such a better Covenant was in contemplation.
Neither St. Paul nor the Hebrew Christians at Jerusalem and elsewhere to whom he wrote this epistle, had any thought that they were living under the provisions of the New Covenant. As he shows in `Chapter 6:19,20`, they were all hoping in the Abrahamic Covenant; but some of them had the erroneous thought that they additionally needed the Law Covenant and that it would be perpetual. St. Paul's argument is that God never intended it to be perpetual, but merely to prevail for a time as a schooling until Christ should come as the antitype of Isaac--the antitypical heir of the Abrahamic Covenant. He now shows that The Christ is in due time to be the Mediator of the New Covenant with Israel, as a proof that their old Law Covenant was not intended to last forever. Why should they be trusting in the old Law Covenant, when God distinctly tells that "after those days he will make a New Covenant with the house of Israel," and that Messiah (with his members now being selected) is to be the Mediator of that New Covenant, and is merely waiting for the completion of the Church to finish all the ministration necessary to put that Covenant into operation-- the blessing of Israel and all the families of the earth?
`Chapter IX`. contrasts the typical arrangements made for the service of the Law Covenant and the making of its blessings effective to Israel, with the arrangements for the service of the New Covenant to make its blessings effective to Israel and all people who shall eventually avail themselves of its privileges. All the paraphernalia of the Tabernacle and the work incidental to the typical sacrificing, were so much necessary to the putting of that Law Covenant into effective operation for all the people of Israel. And similarly on a spiritual plane there are antitypes, including better sacrifices, all of which are incidental to the putting of the New Covenant into operation for Israel and that all mankind may avail themselves of its privileges. The antitypical priest has appeared--"Christ being come an High Priest of good things to come." Those future good things represent the glorification of the Body of Christ, the blessing of Israel and all the families of the earth.
All those blessings on a higher plane are abundantly provided for in God's arrangement. For if the typical arrangements of the Law Covenant needed a cleansing from sin by blood, and if the blood of bulls and goats, etc., typically accomplished this, how much more full of value should we esteem the sacrifice of Christ--how much more able to purify our consciences! Shall we not esteem the blood of Christ aside from the Law Covenant sufficient for our sins? And, as believers in his merit, shall we not conscientiously drop dead works of the Law Covenant and trust to something
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higher, even to the merit of the antitypical High Priest? It is for this cause, or to this end, that he is the Mediator of the New Covenant, so that eventually all Hebrews condemned to death under the Law Covenant may be released from it (as in `Romans 11:27` he declares will be the case as soon as the elect, the Body of the great Deliverer, the great Mediator, the great Priest, shall have been completed).
In `Hebrews 9:15` St. Paul shows that there is a special work of Christ on behalf of the Jews: they being under the death sentence of the Law Covenant, Christ's death on the tree was necessary for them, because that was the special "curse" of the Law. Thus a basis is laid, whereby all the transgressions of the Hebrews under the Law Covenant may be fully cancelled, under the provisions of the New Covenant when it shall become effective. (`Rom. 11:27`.) Not only so, but this special redemption of the Hebrews enabled those called of God from that nation during this Gospel Age to receive a share in the promise of the eternal inheritance--as members of Christ under the original Abrahamic Covenant.
Then follows a statement of the general principle-- that where a Will or Testament is made, the death of the testator is implied, and only after the death of the testator could its blessings be enjoyed. Our Lord having earned a right to human perfection and human life by obedience to the Law Covenant conditions, laid down those earthly rights in sacrifice, in harmony with the Father's will. And, when raised from the dead a New Creature of the Divine nature, he possessed those earthly rights which he laid down as a ransom-price for mankind, with the right to dispose of them. His Testament or Will disposing of those earthly rights could have been so made as to give them at once to fleshly Israel by sealing for them the promised New Covenant. But instead the Testator gave those earthly blessings to the household of faith, those called out from the nominal Jewish Church during and after his earthly ministry, and to "us" of the Gentiles since, on condition that they join in his sacrifice, "suffer with him," "be dead with him," participate with him in the glorious privileges of the Abrahamic Covenant for the blessing of the world under the New Covenant provision.
The brethren understood that they were called to be "members of the Body of Christ" and that it would be after the completion of this "Body" that the Lord's favor would return to natural Israel, and that he would build again the tabernacle of David which had fallen down; that through them as members of the great Benefactor or Mediator of the New Covenant, a blessing might go to the world and "that the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles upon whom God's name is called." (`Acts 15:16,17`.) The brethren addressed were reminded that the death of the Testator was necessary to these: not only the death of Jesus as the original testator to give the blessing to the Church, his Body, but also the death of the Church, his members, under his Headship, to again serve as Testator, and to die, so as to leave those restitution rights for the benefit of Israel and the world under the New Covenant.
Let us never lose sight of the central purpose for which this Book was written--that it was to prove that the Law Covenant must give way, give place, to the New Covenant. Hence all the things connected with the typical Law Covenant should be expected to have antitypes in connection with the antitypical New Covenant. Thus the sacrifices of the Law, which came at the beginning of their year on the Day of Atonement, before the sins of the people could be forgiven, must here find parallel in "better sacrifices" than the bullock and the goat. The New Covenant cannot go into effect until these antitypical sacrifices are accomplished. He thus proved the inferiority of everything Jewish and connected with the Law Covenant; that all Christians might see that instead of going back to that or holding on to it, they should rather be grasping, looking forward to the antitypes, and grasping their share in the "better sacrifices."
In `verse 24, of the 9th chapter of Hebrews`, the Apostle indicates how much of the sacrificing has already been finished; namely, that the High Priest has gone into the "most holy," "now to appear in the presence of God for us"--for Spiritual Israel. But he adds we must not expect him to do this every
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year, as it was done in the type. We must not think that Christ's sacrifice could avail us only in conjunction with the Jewish institutions as additional thereto. To so suppose would imply that such annual sacrifices would have been necessary from the foundation of the world. But this was not the case: Abraham and others were justified by faith before the Law Covenant was instituted. In the end of the age Christ appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. And as men-priests are appointed to die, as symbolically represented in the animals they sacrificed, and as they after this passed into the Holy, and were there put on judgment, or tested before they entered the "Most Holy," so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many, and, to them that are looking for him, he shall appear the second time, not as a sin-offering, but to grant the salvation secured by the merit of his sacrifice--to inaugurate the New Covenant, and as its Mediator to set up its Kingdom for the overthrow of sin and death and the establishment of righteousness and life.
Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many, the Apostle says. The type shows us two offerings, yet the two were parts of one. The first represented the Head, and the second, the Body. The two sacrifices of the Day of Atonement were really one, because the second was based upon the first. The offering as a whole was evidently for the sins of the whole world. Evidently, as the Apostle says, the next thing to be expected, to be waited for, is his finishing his sacrificial work, finishing the sprinkling of the blood the second time, and then coming out, as typed in the high priest clothed "in garments of glory and beauty," representative of his elements of glory and power. He will stand forth as the Mediator of the New Covenant, the great Messiah, Prophet, Priest, King and Judge.
Only those who recognize that the under-priests are the members of the High Priest can appreciate this picture. The Lord by his own blood justified us, his Church, his prospective members, when "he ascended up on high, there to appear in the presence of God for us"--as our Advocate and High Priest--to sprinkle the Mercy-Seat--to satisfy divine justice on our behalf. He began his secondary offering of his "members" as soon as the Father accepted his offering for us--at Pentecost.
There "the Lord's goat" was killed, sacrificed, and the ignominious burning outside the camp commenced. What was done with those ready on Pentecost has continued to be done with their successors since for now nearly nineteen centuries. The sacrificing, burning, etc., have continued, just as in the figure of the High Priest's anointing, the oil ran down to his feet, so antitypically the holy Spirit has come upon each "member" accepted as a joint-sacrificer. The Lord meantime sits at the right hand of Divine favor, awaiting the consummation of the burning of his sacrifice--expecting or waiting until then to make the final sprinkling of his blood "for all the people" before Justice shall turn over to him the control or dominion of the world for reconstruction during the Millennium under the terms of the New Covenant.
The appearing a second time is to the waiting people-- the groaning creation waiting "for the manifestation of the sons of God" in the glory of the Kingdom. (`Rom. 8:19,22`.) It is wholly different from his coming, or parousia, during the harvest time to the Church. His appearing will be in power and great glory, yet only to be recognized by Israel and the world as they shall look for and seek for his Kingdom. "When he shall appear we also [his members] shall appear with him in glory."
In the `10th chapter` St. Paul proceeds along the same line, proving that Jesus is the great High Priest. He represents him as saying, "Lo, I come to do thy will, O God." (`V. 9`). Christ there began the taking away of the first, the typical Covenant, that he might establish the second, the antitypical Covenant. `Verse ten` shows how we, who have become his disciples, are sanctified by accepting his will and saying, as he did, "Lo, I come to do thy will, O God." We are sanctified through the offering of the Body of Jesus Christ, because we, accepted as members of his Body, are set apart to this great priestly, kingly, mediatorial work with him. Incidentally notice here that previously we were "justified" through the merit of Jesus' sacrifice, but that now we are sanctified through the offering of the Body. It is only as we obtain this great privilege of sacrificing as members of his Body that we can have any expectancy of participation with him in his glory. This Body was offered once for all. The individual members of the Church are not offered separately. The one "Lord's goat" represented the one entire Body of Christ, the "little flock," all who, during this Gospel Age will be accepted as members and lay down their lives in sacrifice with him. In `verse twelve` St. Paul shows that this one sacrifice of Christ (in two parts, Head and Body) having been offered (the Head at Jordan, the Body at Pentecost), our Lord rests from any further sacrificing, knowing that full satisfaction will be effected by the work already accomplished.
The great Priest has since waited until the Father's time for putting all things of earth into subjection under him; because by the one offering (in its two parts) he hath perfected forever them that are sanctified. That is to say, the first part of his offering justified his members and their participation in the second part effected their sanctification and secured for them a share in the First Resurrection. Moreover, the perfecting of all mankind who shall eventually be saved during the Millennium will be as the result of Christ's
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one sacrifice in its two parts (bullock and goat). As a result of these "better sacrifices," eventually all mankind shall have an opportunity of becoming sanctified, holy, perfect. The Apostle says that the holy Spirit through `Jeremiah`'s prophecy (`31:31`) witnessed to this, testified to this ultimate efficacy of the antitypical priest's work. Then he quotes this reference of the New Covenant, "after those days," and assures us that when the time of remission of sins shall have come, there will be no more offering for sin. Thank God that with the end of this Age, when the sufferings of the Body of Christ will be finished, then, all sacrificing opportunities being ended, the opportunities for blessing mankind through the merit of those sacrifices will be only beginning!
UNDER-PRIESTS NOW ENTERING THE HOLIES
In `verse nineteen` the Apostle reverts to the fact that while this great work is still incomplete, we, brethren [prospective under-priests], may have the boldness [courage] to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way, which he has consecrated for us, through the vail, that is to say, his flesh; we may by faith realize ourselves as under-priests, members of the High Priest's Body, joint-sacrificers with him and under his ministration. We may enjoy now the privileges and blessings of the Holy and be assured that, as members of the great High Priest, and Mediator, we may ultimately go beyond the vail, even into heaven itself, entering that glorious plane of life through sharing with him in his death. This special way he consecrated for us as the High Priest, by making the merit of his death, typified by the blood of the bullock, applicable to us, permitting us in the strength of that justification to sacrifice with him and to become his members in glory.
St. Paul exhorts all these fellow-members to hold fast to their faith, to provoke one another to love, to not forsake the assembling of themselves, etc. If Moses' Law inflicted a death penalty, assuredly the one who would willingly transgress under greater light would suffer a more severe punishment. The punishment of those under Moses' Law was death, but not Second Death, because they had not secured release from the first death; but for us who have been released by "faith in his blood" and who have been consecrated, joined with him in sacrifice--for us to do despite to all these favors and privileges of God's grace; for us to ignore the great High Priest, for us to count as a common thing our engagement, our consecration to share with our Lord in his death, in his sacrifice, in the blood of the New Covenant, this would mean the taking of ourselves completely out of all of the Divine arrangements intended for our blessing. `Verse thirty` shows that this is no idle suggestion of the Apostle. We are to remember him with whom we have been dealing, him through whose mercy in Christ we have been justified
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and him whose holy Spirit we received as an earnest of our inheritance when we presented our bodies living sacrifices, in harmony with his call, that we might become joint-heirs with Jesus in glory. To forfeit all this would be a fearful thing--the Second Death.
However, the Apostle urges, let us not be discouraged, but remember our past experiences, our illumination, and the afflictions which we then endured, and let us not cast away our confidence, and faithfulness, for the reward will be great. `Chapter eleven` deals with the faithfulness of God's people during the past ages and dispensations, and, closing, tells us that there is a reward for all of those faithful ones in God's great plan, but something far better still for us, the members of the Body of the Messiah, the Mediator, Priest and King, so that they, without us, should not be made perfect; or, as St. Paul says in `Rom. 11:31`, "Through your mercy they also may obtain mercy." And then, through them under the New Covenant, Israel and all the nations will receive their intended share of the same Divine mercy, passed through Christ and then through the Church, his Body.
`Chapter twelve` still addresses this consecrated priestly class. It suggests that these servants and handmaids, specially begotten of the holy Spirit, specially called, having the "high calling," specially devoted to sacrifice, should think of the Ancient Worthies and the faithful witness for God and the Truth which they bore--to which they witnessed by their martyrdom, that these may strengthen us and encourage us to run faithfully in the race that is set before us. He urges that these prospective kings and priests look away from the afflictions and persecutions incidental to their sacrifice and loyalty to Christ; that they look to Jesus, the author of their faith, who is also to be its finisher; that they remember his example and what he endured and that everyone whom the Father accepts into the house of sons under this call must expect to have chastisings, disciplines and various testings of faith and obedience for the development and crystallization of character. He exhorts (`V. 15`) that we shall watch diligently, lest any fail of attaining to the full privilege of God's grace. And he warns that roots of bitterness may come and defile, and also that, yielding to the pleasures of sin for a season, would signify the selling of this great birthright --that Esau got the mess of pottage, but that Jacob got the birthright by his self-denial, and that similarly we are to endure.
THE INAUGURATION OF THE LAW COVENANT TYPED
THE INSTITUTION OF THE NEW COVENANT
The reason for all this carefulness on the part of the consecrated under-priests is that they have not come to (have not approached) Mt. Sinai and the wonderful sights and scenes incidental to the inauguration of the Law Covenant, but they have approached (Strong's lexicon, come near) to Zion, a Mountain and City of the living God--the Heavenly Jerusalem. We have come so near to the antitypical Mount, the Kingdom of God, so near to the antitypical New Jerusalem that we already by faith behold that New Jerusalem, that glorified Church, the Bride, the Lamb's Wife, from which the blessings are to flow to Israel and the world, as figuratively coming down from heaven to earth. We are surely nearer to that glorious consummation than was the Apostle. If he could say that the Church of Christ, following him, their leader, had approached or were approaching or coming near to that heavenly Kingdom condition, how truly may we assent to this today. "Evidently now is our salvation nearer than when we first believed"--nearer than when the first members of the Body of Christ walked in this narrow way of self-sacrifice.
The Apostle proceeds to contrast the things which we may soon expect at the inauguration of the New Covenant with Israel with those things which occurred as types in the inauguration of the Law Covenant. He continues:--
Not only are we approaching or coming nearer every day to the heavenly Jerusalem, the Kingdom condition, but also coming nearer to our association with the holy angels, whose numbers are innumerable, whereas ours are limited-- 144,000. More than this, we are approaching, coming near, to the "general assembly of the Church" by participation in the "First Resurrection"--"His Resurrection" (`Phil. 3:10`), for we are "members of his Body." Additionally we are approaching God, the Judge of all; soon we shall be ushered into the presence of the great King Eternal. As the Apostle declares, our Lord, our Redeemer, our Advocate, having had charge of us during the period of our schooling and sacrificing, and as the Father's representative, having raised us from the dead to glory, honor and immortality, "will present us faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy." (`Jude 24`.) He is the Judge of all. To fall into his hands now, during the sacrificing period and before we have finished our course, would mean to fall out of the hands of our Redeemer and Advocate and to insure condemnation to the Second Death. But, then, to be presented before him faultless will signify that the great Judge will approve us, even as he approves all the holy angels.
Additionally we are approaching, or coming near, to the "spirits of just men made perfect." This would seem to apply to the "great company," who will be justified in spirit through destruction of the flesh, though they fail in their sacrificing agreement and will not, therefore, be of the Body of the Christ, Priest, Mediator, King of glory. Next we read that we have come near to Jesus, the Mediator of the New Covenant. He was prophesied from of old to be the Messiah of Israel and the Messenger or Mediator of Israel's Covenant. He is our Bridegroom, our Advocate, our Head. We, his members, shortly will be forever with our Lord and see him as he is and share with him the glorious work of his Mediatorial Kingdom, by which Israel first, and through Israel all the nations, will receive the blessing of the Spiritual Seed of Abraham.
Then the New Covenant, having been sealed, so far as Divine Justice is concerned, by the application of the precious blood, passed through the Church and made effective "for all the people," the time will come for the application of the blood of sprinkling to all the people--during the Millennium.
In the type we read that in instituting the Law Covenant, Moses sprinkled first the Book of the Law, representing Divine Justice, and then, on the basis of this satisfaction, his Mediatorial work began toward the people, and was typically represented by the sprinkling of them with the same blood of the Covenant. So in the antitype. Our Lord's blood (the blood of the bullock, `Leviticus XVI`.) was applied on our behalf--on behalf of his Body and his house, and secured the forgiveness of our sins and opened the "new and living way" for our sanctification--for our privilege of sharing with him in "his death," partaking of "his cup." Finally, when the Church shall have finished using the blood, and, by God's grace through it, shall have attained to Divine nature in glory, that same merit (as the blood of the Lord's goat) will
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be applied "for all the people" at the close of this Age by sealing the New Covenant.
This second application for the people, "For the sins of the whole world," will settle completely all the claims of Divine Justice against every member of Adam's race and put the future interests of all into the hands of the Mediator-- Jesus, and the Church, his Body. Forthwith the work of reconciliation manward will begin. This is represented as the sprinkling of the people with the blood of the New Covenant.
Each one of Adam's race, as he comes into proper relationship with the Lord, will receive his share of the sprinkled blood until, by the close of the Millennial Age, when the great Mediator shall turn over his Kingdom to the Father, every member of Adam's race will have had fullest opportunity to enjoy his share in this sprinkling. Does that symbolical sprinkling in any sense of the word imply condemnation, responsibility for the blood of Christ, as in Abel's case, when his blood figuratively was said to call to God for vengeance upon his murderers? Oh, no! While the death of Christ and of many of his members has been by violence, yet this fact will not call for vengeance, because the life was voluntarily surrendered a sacrifice for the sins of the world. The sprinkling of the blood of the New Covenant upon all the people during the Millennial Age, then, will mean the impartation to each one of his share in the great blessing secured by the sacrifice accomplished by our Lord, "the Lamb of God which taketh away [eventually] the sin of the world."
"HIM THAT SPEAKETH FROM HEAVEN"
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The Apostle intimates that our ascended and glorified Lord is to speak from heaven at the time indicated, the time to which we approach or come near. The prophet tells us that all the blind eyes shall be opened to see him, to recognize his dominion; and that all the deaf ears shall be unstopped to hear, to comprehend, his message. And St. Peter, speaking of that same time, declares, "It shall come to pass that the soul that will not obey that Prophet (Jesus the Head and the Church his Body raised up during this Gospel Age) shall be destroyed from amongst the people."--`Acts 3:23`.
The Apostle interrupts his argument respecting the future, to throw out a cautionary suggestion to the under-priests, the members of the Body of Christ, saying, "See that ye refuse not him that speaketh." Our eyes and our ears have been opened in advance of the world's. We have been greatly blessed by this Divine favor. But our responsibility is proportionate to our favor. If we refuse the instructions of our Head, our Lord; if we submit ourselves not to the disciplines in the School of Christ; if we neglect to share in his death and to present our bodies living sacrifices, in harmony with our covenant; if we, as the branches, do not bear the fruit of the Vine, our trial for eternal life may end adversely.
Resuming his narrative of the great thing to which we approach, or come near, the Apostle continues to contrast between these coming things pertaining to the New Covenant with the inauguration of the typical Law Covenant. He says, "Whose voice then shook the earth; but now he hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven"--the earth symbolizing society, and the heaven symbolizing ecclesiasticism. The Apostle comments on the prophecy, saying that this expression yet once more implies such a thorough work of the shaking that everything that is temporary, out of accord with the Divine order, shall be shaken out, so that, at the beginning of the Mediatorial Kingdom and the administration of the New Covenant nothing will remain in power or organization except those things which cannot be shaken, because of their harmony with God.
Continuing this thought that then we shall be with our Lord as his members, participating in his Mediatorial work, we read, that Since, therefore, we are to receive an unshakable Kingdom, with reverence and godly fear we are to hold fast to the grace of God bestowed upon us, which will permit us to serve God acceptably (not only now sacrificially, but also in the administration of the Kingdom), for, gracious as our God is, he is consuming fire towards all unrighteousness.
The Apostle concludes the Epistle with exhortations to the Royal Priesthood, giving helpful suggestions as to brotherly love, hospitality, contentment, submission to those whom we believe to be over us in the Lord. (`Chapter XIII., Vs. 7-17`.) He tells us to avoid new Gospels and to remember that as the earthly priesthood were nourished by the things of the altar, so we have a right to eat of a spiritual altar, of which others may not eat. He then calls attention to the sin-offering (`V. 10`), that they were all burned outside the camp. Jesus, as the antitype of the bullock, was not only crucified outside the gate of Jerusalem, but suffered as an outcast from the social and religious systems of the time. St. Paul urges that we, as the Royal Priesthood (typified by the Lord's goat of `Leviticus XVI`.), shall also go forth sacrificially outside the camp to suffer with Christ social ostracism, and with deadness toward the world. He fixes by this passage our identity with "the Lord's goat" of `Leviticus XVI`. by assuring us that only the blood of the sin-offerings is taken within the vail--to sprinkle the mercy-seat. He also identifies this sin-offering by suggesting that the bodies of those beasts whose blood propitiated for sin were burned outside the camp. In exhorting the Church to follow the Lord in this experience, he clearly identifies our Lord with the bullock of the Day of Atonement and the Church with the Lord's goat, which followed all of the bullock's experiences.
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"A FRENZY OF DELUSION"
"For this cause God will send them a strong delusion [literally, a frenzy of delusion]; that they may believe a lie--because they had not pleasure in the truth."--`I. Thess. 2:11`.
EVIDENTLY these words of the Apostle were a prophesy concerning the present harvest time. Doubtless they apply primarily to the Church and will later apply also to Babylon and the unregenerate world. "Judgment must begin at the house of God."
St. Paul does not specify what lies will be believed and which truths will be unappreciated. We might particularize to some extent, but we believe that a disloyal condition of heart may be meant which would apply to every form of truth and correspondingly apply to various lies.
Is it not a fact, that a mind may become generally indifferent to principles of honesty in respect to thoughts and reasonings? And would not such a mind be very open to erroneous conclusions? Would not this apply to all the affairs of life, so that unkind, uncharitable thoughts would be entertained without an honest endeavor to sift them and to give the one accused the benefit of every doubt? Is not this generally the case amongst men and women to-day?
We believe that such injustice lies at the bottom of nearly all the troubles of the Church and the world. Few but the saintly are just--not to say merciful and generous in their interpretations of the words and deeds of others.
And now according to this prophesy we are come to the time when God will test all--or allow Satan to test the whole world with a "frenzy of delusion"! What may we not expect in the way of hasty and irrational conduct inspired by these delusions! Some may be so exercised in respect to the Truth--new and old; others may be influenced thus in respect to their personal, social and political affairs.
It is this frenzy that is precipitating trouble, religious, financial and social, and leading on to the anarchy which is shortly, according to the Bible, to envelop and swallow our civilization in the indescribable time of trouble which will precede the reign of righteousness.
The saints, the consecrated, will not escape from this testing. Who will be able to stand? Some seem to be under the strain already. Let us pity them and do all in our power to succor them. But our chief concern should be ourself--that we may each maintain and increase our "spirit of a sound mind."
What then should be our course if we would stand the test successfully?
We should not only square our every act and word with strictest justice, but beyond this we should scrutinize our every thought and "bring every thought into subjection to the will of God" as expressed in Christ. Love, do you say? Yes! in its proper order, "Love is the principal thing." But Justice must come first to be in line with the Divine precepts. "Just before generous" is an old and a very true adage. After learning to think justly of the words and acts of others we are prepared with a proper mental foundation to think generously--lovingly.
The Scriptures say not in vain that "A false balance is an abomination unto the Lord." (`Prov. 11:1`.) And this balancing applies as truly to mental as to physical dealings with others. Whoever does not love righteousness; yea, whoever does not hate inequity, is surely in danger of being frenzied by delusions in this evil day. Surely Satan and the fallen angels under him are being granted extraordinary power to tempt God's people and later on the world, to cut loose from all moderation in a frenzy of error on one subject or another with one person or another. Let us be forewarned and "watch and pray lest we enter into temptation."
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"ONE MEDIATOR"--"THE MAN CHRIST JESUS"
"There is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time."--`I Tim. 2:5,6`.
OUR text contains two thoughts: (1) That the man Christ Jesus gave himself a ransom-price for all, and that the testimony of this great fact will in due time be extended to all mankind.
(2) He, the Redeemer, is the Mediator between God and the world of mankind. As the Scriptures foretold a New Covenant between God and Israel and through Israel with the world, the Scriptures also foretold a great Mediator for that New Covenant. The Apostle announces that Jesus is that Mediator. Prophetically Jesus was the Mediator of the New Covenant long before he was born (`Malachi 3:1`); he was born the Mediator in the same sense that he was born the Savior. "Unto you is born this day...a Savior, which is Messiah the Lord." He was the prospective Savior then and the prospective Mediator of the New Covenant. As a matter of fact, however, our Lord is not yet the Savior nor the Mediator for the world, and will not be until the close of this Gospel Age. He has already saved believers by faith or reckonedly; but the Apostle tells us that this salvation shall be brought unto us at the revelation of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
The two thoughts, namely, of mediation and ransom-price, although associated and connected, are distinctly separate thoughts. Our Lord Jesus began the work of giving the ransom-price at the time of his consecration, at his baptism at Jordan, and he finished that ransoming work on the cross when he cried, "It is finished." The life there laid down is a sufficient ransom-price for the sins of the whole world; and all will know of the fact and appreciate it in due time. But the price was not applied for mankind at Jordan, nor yet at Calvary. Our Lord's sacrifice was necessary before he could mediate the New Covenant. He must die as a sin-offering, in order to become the first-born from the dead, the Mediator, on the spirit plane. Then to be the world's Mediator, the risen Christ needed to have a merit or ransom-price in hand and, more than this, needed to present it to God on behalf of the world, before he could take control of the world and, through the agency of the Millennial Kingdom and under the terms of the New Covenant, proffer an uplift to Adam and his race--up, up, up, out of present conditions of sin and death. In a word, Justice needed to be satisfied as respects the penalty pronounced against Adam and entailed upon his race, before the great times of resurrection or restitution under the New Covenant could be inaugurated.
When Christ (possessed of the full ransom-price, sufficient for the sins of the whole world) ascended up on high, he did not present the ransom-price on the world's behalf. On the contrary, in harmony with the Divine programme for the selection of the Church of firstborn ones, the appointed Mediator for that promised New Covenant applied the merit of his sacrifice, not for the world and the cancellation of its sins, nor for the sealing of the New Covenant between God and the world of mankind--he applied it "on our behalf," for the sins of the Church, for the sins of consecrated believers. "He made satisfaction for our sins," as, by and by in the end of this Age, he will use his blood, the merit of his sacrifice (passed through the Church) and apply it to Justice for the satisfaction of the sins of the whole world.--`I John 2:2`.
Our Lord has various offices--Prophet, Priest, King, Mediator, Advocate, Judge. It was not as King that he appeared in the presence of God and made satisfaction for our sins--nor as Judge, nor as Prophet, nor as Mediator of the New Covenant. He appeared in the presence of God for us as the High Priest of our profession (or order)--as our Redeemer and Advocate with the Father.
Why did our Lord allow Israel and the world to remain in an outcast condition for these nineteen hundred years, after he had laid down the ransom-price, sufficient for the sins of the whole world, and after he was recognized as the one who will mediate the New Covenant of reconciliation between God and mankind?
The delay in the application of the ransom-price to the forgiveness of the sins of the world, the delay in sealing the New Covenant with Israel and making possible through it and them the blessing of all the families of the earth; the delay in bringing in "the times of restitution of all things" under the New Covenant arrangement, is for a special purpose. It is in order to permit the election or selection of the Church, which is the Body of Christ. "This is a great mystery; but I speak concerning Christ and the Church." (`Eph. 5:32`.) This mystery, which few are able to understand, is that a certain class, justified through faith, are permitted to join with their Redeemer as participators in his sacrifice, his sufferings, his death, in order that they may be granted a share with him in his glorious work of the Millennial Kingdom--in the blessing of natural Israel and all the families of the earth under the provisions of the New Covenant --to be sealed or made binding and operative by his application of his meritorious sacrifice on the world's behalf. "The secret of the Lord is with them that reverence him, and he will show them his Covenant." (`Psa. 25:14`.) "To you it is given to know the mysteries of the Kingdom of heaven" (`Matt. 13:11`), but to all outsiders these things are spoken in parables and dark sayings, that hearing they may hear and not understand.
It is not for us to determine who are of the properly sanctified under-priesthood permitted to share with the High Priest in his sacrificial work during this Gospel Age and, as members of his Body, by and by to share his glories, typified by Melchizedek's priesthood--"a priest upon his throne" blessing under the New Covenant Abraham and his seed and all the families of the earth. Blessed are our eyes if we can see this "Mystery!" Blessed are our hearts if we appreciate the privilege which the consecrated enjoy during this Gospel Age of sharing in the sufferings of Christ, in the death of Christ--of drinking of his cup and being immersed into his sacrificial death! Only those who thus suffer with him sacrificially as his members will be granted a share with him in glory as his joint-heirs--as members of the great Prophet, Priest, King, Mediator, Judge of the world.
In a word, then, the delay in sealing the New Covenant and blessing Israel, and blessing through Israel all the families of the earth, is not accidental, but quite of Divine intention. These nearly nineteen centuries are for the purpose of finding a special class of mankind, "not of the world, even as Christ was not of the world" (`John 17:16`), but chosen out of the world; and of granting these an opportunity to suffer with him as his members and thus to be in the end of this age through the First Resurrection recognized as his members, sharers in his resurrection, partakers of his glories. In other words, God purposed that all of his blessings should pass through Jesus, but first to allow the selection of the Church, to be his Bride, Associate, Joint-heir, in everything which he inherited under the Abrahamic Covenant. Thus it is written, "If ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's Seed and heirs according to the promise" (`Gal. 3:29`) --heirs of all the privileges of the promise, associates in all the work of blessing all the families of the earth. The Church, therefore, Scripturally is declared to be a Royal Priesthood which, during the Millennium, shall share the Redeemer's throne. They are declared to be associates with Jesus in the work of judging the world. As we read, "Know ye not that the saints shall judge the world?" (`I Cor. 6:2`.) They are to be members of the great Prophet, the great Teacher--"A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren." (`Acts. 3:22`.) The raising up of the members of this great Prophet has been in process for nearly nineteen centuries. The Head was raised up first. The members of his Body will soon be raised up also, sharers in "his resurrection." Similarly these are members of the great Mediator between God and men and will have to do with every feature of the work of mediating during the Millennium. The Lord, the Head, will always be Head of the Church. As the Apostle says, God gave Christ to be the Head over the Church, which is his Body--the Head over all, God blessed forever.--`Eph. 1:22,23`.
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We have seen how our Lord, when he ascended on high, appeared for the Church, for the household of faith only, as their High Priest, as their Advocate, but not as their Mediator, because the Church is not under the New Covenant, even as their Lord and Head was not under the New Covenant. He is the Seed of Abraham under the original Abrahamic Covenant. We, his Church, are also the Seed of Abraham under that Covenant. "If ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's Seed, and heirs according to The Promise," The Covenant.--`Gal. 3:29`.
The New Covenant was made necessary as a supplement to the Faith Covenant or Abrahamic Covenant because, as the Apostle declares, "All men have not faith." (`2 Thess. 3:2`.) The great majority of Adam's race are so fallen as to be unable to approach God as Abraham did, and as the true Church does, through faith. The only way to benefit the great mass of mankind, therefore, is by the establishment of a Mediatorial Kingdom, which will forcefully put down sin and everything contrary to righteousness and give mankind a sample of righteous government, righteous conduct, and an experimental lesson illustrating the blessings which will accrue under Divine arrangement to the righteous --the provision being that whoever under the favorable instruction of the Mediatorial Kingdom will learn to love righteousness and to hate iniquity may have the great gift of God, eternal life, through Jesus Christ our Lord, under the operation of the New Covenant sealed with Israel, whose blessings will be dispensed during the Millennium.
Note how our Lord, before rejecting natural Israel at
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the First Advent, threshed and winnowed the entire nation and gathered all the wheat class, all of the "Israelites indeed," all who had the faith of Abraham and who, therefore, were eligible to the blessings of the Abrahamic Covenant. These all were blessed with the privileges of the High Calling--the privileges of sharing the sufferings of the Mediator of the New Covenant, that later, as members of his Body, having shared in his baptism into sacrificial death, they might share also in "his resurrection" to glory, honor and immortality; that, having shared in his cup of sorrow--participating in or partaking of "the blood of the New Covenant," they may, later on, share his cup of joy in the Millennial Kingdom.
These, in all "not many," need not wait to be reconciled to God by force, by submission, under the operation of the Mediatorial Kingdom of the Millennial Age. These, through faith, are already reconciled to God by the death of his Son; for, as the Apostle says, he not only reconciles us, but has committed unto us the ministry of reconciliation, the privilege, the service of bringing others into a reconciled condition, into harmony with God. It is their privilege to use this ministry now with such as have an ear to hear--thus following the example of Jesus and the Apostles. But the ministry of reconciliation now committed to the faithful for the believing ears, will be extended to the world during the Millennium. The entire work of the Mediatorial Kingdom, under the control of the great Mediator King and his associate kings and priests, will be a work of reconciliation. The great Mediator will reconcile--or meet the demands of Justice for the sins of the whole world at the close of this Gospel Age by presenting the merit of his sacrifice on the world's behalf, after that merit shall have been used to the full and laid down by the Church, which is his Body. Then during the Millennium he will mediate or deal with "men"-- the world.
The "household of faith" whom God can and does accept under the Abrahamic Covenant, the Grace or Faith Covenant typified by Sarah (`Gal. 4:22-31`), is not only much smaller, but much different every way from the world of mankind referred to in our text as "men." Our Lord always spoke of the former as separate and apart from the world --"Ye are not of the world, even as I am not of the world." The prophecy of the outpouring of the holy Spirit marks them as separate from the rest of the world. At Pentecost and during this Gospel Age, God has been pleased to pour out his holy Spirit upon his servants and upon his handmaids --upon such as can and do come into relationship with him through Christ, under the faith terms of the original Abrahamic Covenant. But he distinctly shows us through the prophecy that in due time he "will pour out his Spirit upon all flesh"--upon men--the world--mankind.
This distinct separateness of the Church class, called during this Gospel Age under the special blessings of the Abrahamic Covenant, in association with the Lord Jesus, is clearly and forcefully shown in the type of Isaac and his bride and joint-heir, Rebecca. Abraham (as a type of God) sent his servant Eleazar (type of the holy Spirit) to call a bride for his son Isaac. The servant presented certain proofs of his mission and authority and, when Rebecca believed and accepted Abraham's proposition to become Isaac's bride, she received certain gifts, typical of the gifts and fruits of the holy Spirit. Then by faith she started to meet her espoused husband. This is a God-given illustration and in full harmony with every text of Scripture. We do not read that Isaac called his own bride and then acted as a mediator between her and his father, nor that Isaac had anything to do with the drawing at all. In harmony we read our Lord's own words, "No man can come unto me (as a disciple, a follower, a joint-heir in my Kingdom--as a member of my Bride) except the Father which hath sent me draw him." (`John 6:44`.) And again, "No man taketh this honor unto himself, but he who is called of God, as was Aaron."-- `Heb. 5:4`.
Look at our text again; notice its setting! Why did the Apostle write these words?
The context shows that he had been advising that prayer should be made for all men and not for the Church merely; that prayer should include kings and those in authority. Our prayer for them should not be that they should be members of the Body of the High Priest and Mediator for the world, but our prayer for them should be along the lines that would be most helpful for the interests of the Church, the elect class now being gathered--"that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty." (`I Tim. 2:2`.) The Apostle proceeds to explain why we should thus remember the magistrates of the world in prayer. He says, "This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior." He is pleased to have us think generously, sympathetically, kindly of the world of mankind, for thus he himself thinks of them and he intends, "wills to have all men to be saved [recovered from the disadvantages of the fall] and to come to a knowledge of the Truth." He does not wish that all men shall now come to this knowledge, for he knows that Satan, the god of this world, is blinding the minds of many so that they cannot get this knowledge, and his time has not yet come for the binding of Satan; but, since it is his will that eventually all must come to a knowledge of the Truth, therefore it must be good and acceptable in his sight that we should pray for these and sympathetically consider their interests and welfare, as associated with our own.
In support of this position, that all mankind must be recovered from the death sentence and be brought to a knowledge of the Truth, the Apostle points out that God has made this provision, namely, that as there is one God, so there is one Mediator between God and men--between God and the world. The fact that this Mediator already has died for the sins of the whole world, a ransom-price, and the further fact that he has been recognized by God and highly exalted, gives us the assurance of the ultimate carrying out of God's gracious intentions on behalf of mankind. We see God and we see the condemned world and now we see the Mediator provided for the reconciliation of the two. After more than eighteen hundred years we still see the same; but we see additionally that the Lord has been calling and sanctifying a "little flock" as members of the Mediator's Body under this great Mediator Head. Then under New Covenant arrangements mankind in general will receive their share of the blessings of the ransom sacrifice of Jesus.
All mankind are "by nature children of wrath"--the household of faith (except its Head) included. All mankind were "enemies of God through wicked works," in the sense that, by reason of ignorance and the fall, they were
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violators of the Divine Law, and hence subject to Divine condemnation afresh, after they should be set free from the death sentence of original sin. The Church and the world, "men," were all alike thus far. Here, however, a difference is manifested. All were sinful, but all did not love sin. All were imperfect in the flesh, but some in their minds desired and felt after God. So many of this latter class as possessed the eye of faith and the ear of faith, God has been pleased during this Age to justify by faith. The remainder, blind and deaf, during the Millennium, under the Mediatorial Kingdom of Christ, will be dealt with along the line of force. Their eyes being opened and their ears unstopped, every knee must bow and every tongue confess.
Here we see distinct classes, and the reason for the distinction in the methods of God's dealing with them. Drawing some to Christ he permits them under the robe of Christ's righteousness to present their bodies living sacrifices and thus to become legally dead as men. At the same time, he begets these by his holy Spirit to a new nature, as members of and associates with his Son, the great Captain of their salvation. These as New Creatures need no mediator between them and the Father, for, as the Redeemer declares, "The Father himself loveth you." (`John 16:27`.) And St. Paul again declares, "Who is he that condemneth; it is God that justifieth." (`Rom. 8:32,33`.) If God himself has justified these and received their sacrifice, counting it "holy and acceptable," surely they need no mediator to come between the Father and them, but are themselves in preparation to be members of the Royal Priesthood, members of the Body of the great Mediator.
But these do need what the Scriptures declare them to have, namely, an Advocate. The world, which needs a mediator and his mediatorial Kingdom, will find God's provision for them to that effect. The Church, which needs an Advocate, finds that God's provision has already supplied this need. "We have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous." (`I John 2:1`.) But we (the Church) have no mediator with God--a mediator would be entirely out of place, an interference in the precious relationship of the Church acknowledged both by the Father and the Son.
But why do we need an Advocate? Because, although as New Creatures we are free from condemnation and have fullest relationship with the Father and can go to him at "the throne of heavenly grace to obtain mercy and find grace to help in every time of need," nevertheless we New Creatures have not our new bodies and will not have them until we receive them in the First Resurrection. Meantime, according to Divine arrangement, we must use our earthly bodies, which both God and we acknowledge to be imperfect. Since we can act only through our bodies, it follows that "we cannot do the things that we would," because "in our flesh dwelleth no perfection." But if, through the weakness or ignorance of the flesh we err, the Divine provision for us is that our Advocate, whose ransom-merit was applied to us,
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will appear for us (figuratively apply his merit) for the cancellation of our unintentional misdeeds and thus maintain us in the Father's sight without spot or wrinkle.
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THE POWER OF THE WILL--SELF-CONTROL
--`ROMANS 14:10-21`.--NOVEMBER 28.--
Golden Text:--"It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor anything whereby thy brother
IN TO-DAY'S study St. Paul, in his vigorous style, marks out the path of proper Christian conduct, in harmony with the second great commandment of the Law, "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself." The lesson may be applied in a measure to every intelligent being, but strictly, particularly, peculiarly, it applies to every consecrated member of the Church of Christ. All men have wills and it is important that all should learn to use them. As a man willeth, so is he! The will-less, the supine, are things, not truly men and women. To be a hero in the strife means to have a will, and in proportion to its correctness and strength will be the influence and value of the personality. Children should not be trained to have no will, but, contrariwise, to have a will, but to submit it to the proper rulers and guides of life--at first to parents and the earthly teachers and, later on, to the Divine will--fully, completely.
The Apostle is addressing those who submit their wills to the Lord--those who have accepted the Divine will, as instead of their own. The noblest and best of the people of God are those who have strong, iron wills, which they have fully submitted to the guidance and direction of the Lord-- through the Bible, the holy Spirit and Divine Providence. "The Father seeketh such to worship him as worship him in spirit and in Truth."
DEVELOPING WILL POWER
Some are born with strong wills; others rather weak-minded. In the world the latter sink or swim, survive or perish, in the vicissitudes of life, often controlled by the law of supply and demand and the survival of the fittest. The inequalities of birth are frequently accentuated by life's experiences and often disastrously. Some of the strong-willed become merchant princes and managers of large enterprises, and some become thieves and desperadoes--the outcome depending largely upon haphazard channels. The only safe course for any mariner on the sea of life is to take on board the great Pilot, the Lord Jesus. This Pilot will probably rarely guide into a haven of earthly riches or earthly popularity, but, if permitted, he will bring us safely to the proper haven.
Under this Pilot the human will is like a strong vessel with mighty masts and sails or powerful engines. The greater the power, the greater the capacity and the more useful. The proper Pilot will guide us not only safely past the rocks of disaster and shoals of sin, but to the haven of everlasting life and joy and peace and fellowship Divine.
But not merely the strong-willed need this Pilot; the weak-willed naturally need him just as much, for although they might not run upon the rocks with the same degree of force and make equally bad shipwreck, they are quite as likely to be caught upon the shoals of sin and, in a purposeless manner, fail to achieve anything in life.
NEW CREATURES IN CHRIST JESUS
Those who during this age make a full surrender of their wills to the Lord and receive in return the begetting of the holy Spirit are Scripturally termed "new creatures in Christ Jesus." Their wills are brought into subjection to the will of God in Christ. The lessons of God's Word and all the experiences of life under Divine supervision are promised to work for their good; to strengthen their wills if too weak; to make them properly pliable if too rigid, and in general, eventually to make of them the most that is possible in the present life in godliness, and to prepare them for the life that is to come.
Such are addressed by St. Paul in the present lesson. They are exhorted not to judge the brethren in the sense of condemning them, but rather to judge themselves, criticize themselves, and make of themselves shining examples, and thus to help the brethren and set a noble example before the world. All must give an account to the Lord sooner or later, and our judging them is unnecessary. Hence if we have judged or criticized each other in the past, we should avoid this in the future and merely criticize ourselves--our words, our deeds, our thoughts--that nothing in us shall put a stumbling block in the pathway of another.
The ceremonial cleanness or uncleanness of food is nothing to the Christian, who is free from all law except the Law of Love. But the Law of Love controls, and forbids us to stumble or even to grieve a brother less well-informed on the subject than ourselves. How could we, controlled by love, either eat or drink, act or speak in a manner that would cause injury to another? It is good to have liberty, but let us so use it as not to injure those less advanced.
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The call of this Gospel Age is to joint-heirship with Christ in his Millennial Kingdom, and those so called are not under the bondage of the Jewish Law. They have greater liberty in Christ. But shall we say that the advantage of our relationship to the Lord as prospective heirs of the Kingdom consists chiefly in liberty to eat what we choose and to drink what we please? Surely not. These are but the lesser advantages of our blessed relationship to Christ and the Kingdom. Our chief blessing consists in our "justification and peace and joy in the holy Spirit."--`V. 17`.
Let us appreciate these, our chief blessings and privileges of the present time, for, in so doing, we shall be well-pleasing in God's sight, and men also will approve our conduct. So, then, let us follow after the things which make for peace and things whereby we may edify one another. Let us not even risk injury to the cause of righteousness and work of God's grace in others by using our liberties in any manner contrary to their welfare. On the contrary, let us count it a privilege to void our rights, if thus we can glorify God and bless our fellows.
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ST. PAUL'S AUTOBIOGRAPHY
--`2 CORINTHIANS 11:21`; `12:10`.--NOVEMBER 21.--
Golden Text:--"He said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee, for my strength is made perfect in weakness."--
`2 Cor. 12:9`.
ST. PAUL'S brief story of his life noted in this study was written from Macedonia A.D. 57, before the occurrences noted in our recent studies. He gives us various facts recorded in the Book of Acts. An opponent might criticize his recitation of trying experiences and faith victories and might claim that modesty on the Apostle's part should have hindered such an eulogistic account of his own exploits. However, the Church at Corinth and all of God's people since have cause for thankfulness that the account was given. It was the Apostle's defense, not merely of himself, but specially a defense of the doctrines of Christ, which he, as the Lord's mouthpiece, had been used to declare. In God's order he was the leader in the presentation of Christian doctrine then, as he has been since. His expositions were opposed by false teachers and pseudo apostles, as well as by "would-be teachers."
The Apostle was thus obliged to contend with foes outside and inside the Church and only the Divine power seemingly could have sustained him in so unequal a contest. He had spent more than a year at Corinth, planting the seeds of Truth and establishing believers there, while encouraging other little groups of the Lord's people in various quarters by messages and epistles. The work flourished and the Adversary was permitted of the Lord to stir up opposition both external and internal. Internally false brethren had made various charges against St. Paul. They opposed some of his teachings. They denied that he was an Apostle any more than themselves. They urged that he erred in teaching that circumcision was unnecessary to the Gentiles; that his teachings were not fixed and consistent (`2 Cor. 1:17`); that he was given to self-commendation (`2 Cor. 3:1`; `5:12`; `10:8`); and that he assumed unauthorized authority.--`2 Cor. 10:14`.
They charged that he was unpatriotic and had fallen away from the faith (`2 Cor. 11:22`); that he was not Christ's servant at all (`2 Cor. 10:7`; `11:23`); that he had falsely assumed to be one of the ambassadors of Christ (`2 Cor. 11:5`; `12:11`); that he could show no proofs of his claimed apostleship; that unlike the twelve he had never known Christ personally; that his witness was second-hand and not direct like that of the others.
It does not surprise us to learn that these false teachers
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confused the Church at Corinth and that splits, factions, sects, parties, resulted--some saying, I am of Paul; others, I am of Apollos; others, I am for Peter, etc. They reproached St. Paul for having worked at his trade and received gifts from Macedonia (`2 Cor. 11:2-10`), claiming that he should have urged his needs upon the Corinthians. They insinuated that the collections taken for the poor at Jerusalem were probably in part, at least, for himself. (`2 Cor. 12:16`.) They even asked if it were certain that he was a Hebrew at all-- of pure blood--if he were not a Gentile in whole or in part. (`2 Cor. 11:22`.) These wicked arrows, even bitter words, must have wounded deeply, painfully, one so sensitive as the Apostle, especially as they came from erstwhile friends, for whom he had been willing to suffer the loss of all things. But this second epistle to the Corinthians was not written, we may be sure, in self-defense merely, but chiefly in the defense of the Truth, because if he were personally discredited the truths which he represented and the Lord himself and his glorious Plan would be likewise discredited.
St. Paul was not alone in these perils from false brethren and the world. In the past Socrates, Calvin, Wesley, Washington, Savonarola, Lincoln, Grant, all of them had their traducers, slanderers, vilifiers. Bishop Phillips Brooks in recent years had severe experiences along this line which led him to write these lines respecting himself:--
"And this is then the way he looks,
This tiresome creature, Phillips Brooks?
No wonder if 'tis thus he looks,
The Church has doubts of Phillips Brooks!
Well, if he knows himself, he'll try
To give those doubtful looks the lie.
He dares not promise, but will seek
Even as a bishop to be meek;
"To walk the way he shall be shown,
To trust a strength that's not his own,
To fill the years with honest work,
To serve his day and not to shirk;
To quite forget what folks have said,
To keep his heart and keep his head,
Until men, laying him to rest,
Shall say, 'At least he did his best.'"
ST. PAUL'S THREE PROOFS
Studying in the light of the foregoing we may divide the Apostle's defense in his `second epistle to the Corinthians` into three divisions:--
(1) The sufferings which he endured in connection with preaching the Truth demonstrated his love for it, his love for the Lord, and his love for such of mankind as might have the hearing ear.
(2) The proof of his apostleship in the visions granted to him, the communion with God and his deep insight into spiritual truths and the fact that the Lord had specially commissioned him to declare his name at Jerusalem and to the Gentiles. This, indeed, in conjunction with his having seen the Lord "as one born before the time," constituted the chief evidence of his apostleship, in conjunction with the service which he was permitted to render to the Lord's cause under that commission.
(3) Finally his further proof--he was still a minister of the Lord and of his message to such as had the hearing ear.
Under the first count St. Paul enumerates his faithfulness, saying, Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they the Seed of Abraham? So am I. Are they servants of Christ? I serve more; for I have ministered or served more than they, in larger fields; in labors more abundant; in stripes above measure--received at the hands of Gentiles, the Jewish measure being forty blows. In prisons he was more frequent; exposed to death more often; flogged to the limit (thirty-nine blows) by the Jews; five times beaten with rods; stoned; shipwrecked; a day and a night in the deep on wreckage; in journeyings often; in perils many from floods, from robbers; from the heathen; from his fellow-countrymen; in the city; and in the wilds; on the sea and amongst false brethren. The weariness and painfulness of his service; his watching, hungering and thirsting, fastings, cold and deprivations he had experienced more than any of the other Apostles. Furthermore, in God's providence the care of all the Churches had been his pleasurable and weighty responsibility. All these demonstrated his supreme love for God, his neighbor, and his brethren, to a degree unequalled.
Under the second count he had seen the Lord as a spirit-being in the brightness above the sun at noonday, and in
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advance of the remainder of the Church. What the other apostles saw of our Lord during the forty days of his appearance as a man after his resurrection would not compare in importance to the witness of our Lord's resurrection which St. Paul had seen. Besides this he had a most astounding vision or revelation in which he was "caught away to the third heaven" and saw things he was not authorized to explain.
The third heaven is the new heaven of the future--of the Millennial Age. The first "heaven and earth," or primary arrangement, passed away at the flood. The second "heaven and earth" organization, beginning at the flood, still persists. The third "heaven and earth," or new dispensation, is the one to come--the one which will be introduced at Messiah's Second Advent. In other words, St. Paul in vision was caught away and given a glimpse of the Millennial Kingdom conditions, glories, blessings, etc.--things not proper at the time to be generally disclosed. Nevertheless that vision assisted the Apostle to a clearness of mental grasp of the Divine purposes, and shaped and colored all of his epistles.
And now, "in due time," St. Paul's writings constitute the key to the Divine Plan of the Ages. He saw more literally the things subsequently revealed in symbols to St. John at Patmos and delivered to the Church in symbols which could not be solved until the due time. In view of these things he could well write, "I certify you, brethren, that the Gospel which was preached of me is not after man; for I neither received it of man, nor was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ."--`Gal. 1:11,12`.
The third test, namely, his sanctity, is everywhere manifest in his writings. He preached not for filthy lucre, nor for worldly applause, nor for the honor of men--not even for honor from the Church. He declared, "I will very gladly spend and be spent for you, though the more abundantly I love you the less I be loved." And again he says what his life affirmed, "I seek not yours but you."
His "thorn in the flesh," probably weakness of the eyes, resulting from his experiences with the great light, enroute to Damascus, seems to have marred his personal appearance and, for the sake of the cause, to have justified him in praying to the Lord for relief and thereby a wider influence. His prayer was answered, but not as he had expected. The Lord declared that he would give his compensating grace, declaring, "My grace is sufficient for thee; my strength is made perfect in weakness." The Apostle assures us that he most heartily acceded to this proposition, saying, "Most gladly, therefore, will I suffer, that the grace of God may abound towards me."
What a wonderful lesson we have in St. Paul's experiences and how justly he wrote that we should follow him, as he followed the Lord Jesus!
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RANSOM POINTS TO BE REMEMBERED
WHENEVER the word Ransom is used in the Scriptures it has the sense of ransom-price according to the Greek--a corresponding price, a sufficient price.
Ransoming signifies the application of the ransom-price.
Thus when we read that our Lord Jesus gave himself a ransom-price for all, the meaning is that his sacrifice, finished at Calvary, is a sufficient price to effect the ransoming of all mankind, if so applied or when so applied.
Our Lord laid down his life; he died on our behalf; he gave our ransom-price into the Father's hands when he offered himself without spot to God. But the putting of that meritorious sacrifice into God's hands and the application of that merit to mankind are two different matters.
The laying down of the ransom-price was finished at Calvary; but the application of it was not even begun for fifty days. Three days our Redeemer was dead--arising on the third day. Then for forty days he was with the disciples, appearing occasionally for their instruction. Then he ascended up on high, there "to appear in the presence of God for us," and promptly on the fiftieth day, Pentecost, the outpouring of the holy Spirit upon God's believing and consecrated servants and handmaidens began.
Pentecost was the proof that our glorified Lord had applied the merit of his sacrifice, had applied his blood as our ransom-price. Pentecost was therefore a proof that the Church had been ransomed--that the antitypical sprinkling of his blood by our great High Priest on the Mercy-Seat, or Propitiatory, "for us" had been accomplished, and that it was satisfactory to Justice, and that our sins were cancelled. Thereupon the High Priest began at once his secondary offering of his "members"--"living sacrifices, holy and acceptable unto God." (`Rom. 12:1`.) This in the type was represented by the killing of "the Lord's goat"--"the goat of
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the sin-offering that is for the people."--`Lev. 16:15`.
The ransom-price all went for the atonement of our sins when the great High Priest appeared "for us." That ransom-price bought us (`I Cor. 6:20`); but was applied for no others and blessings came upon no others. It is "for all" (`I Tim. 2:6`), but has not yet been so applied.
It took all of that merit or ransom-price to make atonement for our sins--because it was so applied. It would have required all of it for even one man's release. It is because the penalty or sentence of death passed "upon all men to condemnation," through one man's offense or sin, that the one man's death can be applied for more than one man's release from condemnation. But whatever the number it is applied for, it takes it all to effect the release from condemnation.
So, then, the High Priest, having applied the entire ransom-price "for us," "on our behalf" (`Heb. 9:24`), for the blemishes or condemnation of those now accepted as his members and his house--the household of faith--it follows that he has no merit now remaining to apply for the world. The ransom-price which was sufficient for one man or for all men was applied only "for us," "for our sins."
What then is the hope of the world?
Ah, it has not been forgotten in the Divine purpose, and in due time it will be ransomed--"the precious blood," the ransom-price, will be applied on the Mercy-Seat for the sins of all the people! Then the holy Spirit will be poured out upon all flesh.
What! Will the Church pay the world's ransom-price?
Not so! It is the Divine arrangement that in all things he [Jesus] should have the preeminence. Jesus' merit, as we have seen, is now fully in use--accredited to us who are of the household of faith, for our justification by faith. We are counted, or reckoned, as possessing the earthly rights and life forfeited by Adam and redeemed by Jesus. But this reckoning or justification is confirmed to us of God by the holy Spirit's begetting to a new nature only because of our consecration vow to the Lord that we would lay down our lives, sacrificing all those earthly interests and rights as he did--walking in his steps, being baptised into his death, drinking of his cup of ignominy--partaking with our Head of "the blood of the New Covenant," by which as a legacy or Testament the ransom-price blessing shall in due time be bequeathed to natural Israel--with the proviso that all mankind may be blessed by becoming Israelites indeed on the human plane of restitution--Abraham's earthly seed-- as the sands of the sea for multitude.
Note, then, that the one ransom-price, laid down by our Lord at Calvary, was all paid over to Justice "on our behalf," "for us," as was acknowledged at Pentecost and since, by the holy Spirit upon the Lord's servants and handmaidens. Note also that the restitution rights which we are now using as sharers in our Lord's sacrifice must all be surrendered back to Justice before the Great High Priest can present that same ransom-price again on behalf of the world, under the New Covenant conditions.
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"Ye shall all die like men," or as men, writes the Lord through the Prophet. (`Psa. 82:7`.) There are three classes developed under God's original Covenant with Abraham-- the Grace or Sarah Covenant. (I.) The "little flock" of under-priests --members of the Body of the High Priest. These suffer with him, sharing "his death," "his cup," "baptised into his death." (II.) The "great company," who consecrated unto death and were begotten of the Spirit, but who "through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage." These must die, but not as parts of Christ's Body, not as parts of his sacrifice. They must suffer "the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit (new nature) may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus." (III.) Those who wilfully turn from and repudiate their consecration to sacrifice must die the Second Death. These are described by St. Paul as treating despitefully the one who paid their ransom-price and accepted them as his members, sanctifying them apart as his joint-sacrificers and joint-sharers of his glory in connection with the great work of mediating the New Covenant, under which Israel and the world will be blest.--`Heb. 10:29`.
All of these three classes, all whose justification and sacrifice of sanctification were accepted by the Lord--as evidenced by their receiving the holy Spirit as his servants and handmaidens--all these must die before the New Covenant with Israel and mankind will be sealed. They must lay down all earthly justification and earthly rights, forever, before the one ransom-price can be back into the hands of Justice to the credit of the High Priest, that he may therewith appear in the presence of God to make an atonement with his ransom-price for the sins of all the people. Then, at the close of this age and the opening of the Millennium, our Lord, who as the man Christ Jesus gave himself a ransom-price for all, will have presented that price "for all." Thus "he is the propitiation [expiator--Strong's Lexicon] for our sins [the Church's sins], and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world." (`I John 2:2`.) The expiations are separate and distinct, but the one sacrifice, finished at Calvary, is the ransom-price by which both expiations are to be effected.
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SOME INTERESTING LETTERS
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:--
"No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn." In the recent experiences through which the Church has been passing I have frequently been reminded of these words, and especially in regard to you, as the Adversary's method of attack seems to be to first slander you and then try to produce evidence that you are guilty of denying the Lord.
In this connection I have been thinking of how our Lord and Head was crucified for blasphemy against his Father, whom he had so faithfully served.
Do you not think that we shall find a deeper significance in the statements, "the servant is not above his master," and "we should follow his steps," than we at first appreciated?
Dear Brother, please permit me to express my appreciation of your loyalty to the Lord and his word and your courage in presenting the Truth. Truly the Lord has prepared for us "a table in the presence of our enemies." The DAWNS and TOWERS never seemed more precious than now and, remembering the Apostle's words that "ye cannot be partakers of the Lord's table and the table of devils," I have no desire of feeding at these side-tables prepared to draw us away from the Truth.
Assuring you of my continued Christian love and heartfelt sympathy, I am,
Your humble fellow-servant in the Harvest work,
J. F. STEPHENSON, JR.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:--
I am forever grateful to you for the very precious help you have given to me in my coming "out of darkness into his marvelous light." I am still feasting upon the good things of the Master's table. Your articles on the Covenants are very interesting, and I note, with close attention, the restatement of some of the expressions concerning the great unchangeable truths.
There is one other matter that I think some of the brethren are not quite clear upon, and I therefore ask that you consider the propriety of making a restatement of the facts in such language as will make it impossible longer for any confusion or misunderstanding. It is common to hear a brother speak of "the breath" as "the life." When I question the expression, they tell me that the DAWNS "so teach." I think not. Surely they are mistaken, as I will now show by the following quotations:--
"This spark of life we receive from our fathers."--Vol. V., p. 334.
"Life...is an invisible power...like electricity." --Vol. V., p. 335.
"Jacob received his spark of life...from Isaac."-- Vol. V., p. 365.
"And Jacob passed on the life...to his posterity."-- Vol. V., p. 365.
"Human resurrection is therefore...a rekindling of animal existence."--Vol. V., p. 365.
"The spark once started is supported by breathing."-- Vol. V., p. 333.
These statements by you are absolutely correct, and they do positively and clearly show a marked difference between the "spark of life," which begins the creature at conception, and "the breath of life," which supports the creature after birth. The above quotations from DAWN are firmly established in truth, as we learn from `Job 33:4`, "The spirit of God hath made me and the breath of the Almighty hath given me life."
It was a wonderful intelligence that "fashioned" us, and was altogether superhuman, and, as `Job` says (`33:4`), it was "the spirit of God" (invisible influence), and not the "breath of life." We should never lose sight of the fact that breath or ruach or pneuma means not only wind or air, but also means like the wind, which is an invisible influence. This double meaning of the word "spirit" is clearly taught in the DAWNS (Vol. V., page 335), but is not always sharply differentiated by the student. The breath, while important to support life, as is also food and water, does not have the needful creative intelligence to "fashion" a man in the womb, where it does not have access. "He giveth to all life, and breath, and all things." (`Acts 17:25`.) We must believe "Thine hands (power) have made me, and fashioned me together
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roundabout; thou hast made me as the clay." (`Job 10:8,9`.) The "wind" cannot fashion the clay into a created organism, but God's invisible creative power can easily do so.
Trusting that the above suggestion may meet with your approval, I will close by saying, each day my prayers are offered in your behalf, that God may aid and comfort and sustain you in your great work, until you faithfully reach the end; and that the "joy set before," will make you realize that--"The sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed in us." (`Rom. 8:18`.) For myself, I will say that my prayer is to be "faithful unto death," and in being faithful to the Captain of my salvation, I necessarily and joyfully pledge to be faithful and loyal to his lieutenant, "that servant," as becomes a good soldier of the cross.
With much love, your brother in the Master's service,
W. W. CRANE, M.D.
BELOVED PASTOR, GREETING:--
During all the years in which we have enjoyed Present Truth we have never written to tell you how much we appreciate your labor of love on behalf of the household of faith, and how gladly we recognize you as the Messenger of the Laodicean Church. Daily we remember you at the throne of grace, that you may be kept as the apple of his eye, and
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as we read your loving, gentle words relative to those who walk no more with us, we feel that most assuredly Brother Russell is being "hidden in the secret of his presence from the strife of tongues."
May the peace and comfort of our gracious Heavenly Father abide with you to the end of your faithful pilgrimage.
With Christian love,
BRO. AND SR. A. L. RHOADES.
DEAR BROTHER AND SISTER RHOADES:--
Your very kind letter is much appreciated. I feel myself quite unworthy of so many honors as the Lord and his people continually shower upon me. I can only say that I am thankful for the privilege of the blessed service of the High Priest and his under-priests.
May the Lord's blessing continue richly with you both. In his love and service, your brother and servant.
OUR BELOVED PASTOR:--
Another week of service ended and we come home to find more evidences of the severe trials promised to the true Church near the end of the harvest. Our hearts can only bow in inexpressable gratitude and awe before our Heavenly Father that he has kept us and provided grace unto faithfulness for another week past.
By Nov. 1st "Tower" I see more plainly how easily I might permit the wrong spirit to arise; so with greater fear and trembling I am determined by his grace to do those things pleasing in his sight until he can clothe this imperfection with perfection. I give all praise to our Father that I am still one of those whom he calls Blessed--"Whosoever shall not be offended in me"--and thank him that my heart is daily increasing in love and gratitude for you, dear Pastor, and your labor of love. Our hearts are enlarged with sympathy and love for the one for whom many lay in wait, seeking to catch something out of his mouth that they might accuse him.
We claim the promise for ourselves and all the loyal at heart which the Lord gives us, "Neither shall any man pluck these out of my hand...and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand."
May you have peace, joy and comfort in the Lord's love amid sorrows, until the sacrifice is entirely consumed and you are with our glorified King for all eternity.
We are "gathering with you" in sincerity and truth.
With much love from us all.
IT IS CORRECTLY STATED
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:--
A statement in the October 15th TOWER does not seem clear to us, and we were wondering if your pen said what you intended it should. The statement is found in the second paragraph of the second column, page 314, and reads:--
"St. Paul refers directly to this New Covenant to be made with Israel at the end of this age (`v. 27`), saying, 'This is my Covenant unto them (natural Israel), when I shall take away their sins.' (`Rom. 11:27`.) The taking away of their sins is a necessity for them, before they can receive this New Covenant, because God makes no Covenant with sinners."
We have had the understanding that it was because they were sinners that God will make the Covenant with them, so that they could get back into harmony with God. If their sins are first to be taken away, why will a Covenant then be necessary?
Perhaps we have not caught the thought you have, and would be glad to have a word or two in explanation. Possibly you may think the reply of sufficient importance for the TOWER.
The statement is quite correct. God makes no covenants with sinners. His Covenant with Abraham, for instance, was made because Abraham had first been justified by faith. Because of his faith, attested by obedience, God dealt with him as though he were released from condemnation of sin. It is the same with believers in this Gospel Age. We are first justified freely through faith in the blood of Jesus, before we are even invited to present our bodies as living sacrifices, to share with Christ as his members in mediating the New Covenant, under which Israel and the world will be blessed.
The delay in the sealing of the New Covenant and its institution and the blessing of all the people under it has been merely for the purpose of permitting the predestinated number of under-priests to be developed. Each member of this household of faith, typically represented in Aaron's sons and the tribe of Levi, must first be justified by faith in the blood of Jesus--washed, cleansed, and each one must be sanctified or set apart through consecration to share in Christ's death, and must be accepted by the begetting of the holy Spirit and must finish his course, before the great High Priest (Jesus the Head, and the Church his Body) shall present on behalf of the world the merit of our Lord's sacrifice, now being utilized on behalf of the Church to permit us to become members of the Priest through joint-sacrifices.
When, as you quote, we said that "the taking away of Israel's sins is a necessity for them, before they can receive this New Covenant," we refer to the first part of the taking away of sins, namely, the satisfaction of Justice on their behalf. It should always be remembered that sin has its two parts; first its obliquity and condemnation from the Divine standpoint; and secondly its effect upon the sinner in the way of mental, moral and physical blemishes.
It is the first of these that must be cancelled before blessing and covenants are possible. Then, under the New Covenant arrangements, their sins will be put away gradually during the Millennium by assistance of the Royal Priesthood and all the uplifting influences of the mediatorial Kingdom.
The Great High Priest, who at the beginning of this age appeared in the presence of God "on our behalf," "for us," and who applied the benefit of the ransom-price for our sins-- for the sins of the household of faith--will, in association with the members of his Body who are now faithful in sharing his sacrifice, in the end of this age, in the dawning of the Millennium, present the ransom-price "on behalf of all the people." He will thus purchase the world entire, as he already has "bought us," the Church. Not until after he shall have thus purchased the world by the satisfaction of Justice on their behalf, "on behalf of all the people," will he have the right to open to them the blessed privileges of the New Covenant, which will be to Israel first and through Israel to all the families of the earth.
BELOVED BROTHER RUSSELL:--
We, the undersigned members of the "Ecclesia" at Cardiff, Wales, deem it a great privilege to register our names as those taking the responsibility, by the Lord's grace, of complying with the conditions of the Vow as presented in "The Watch Tower" of June 15th, 1908. And since we have heard of the uncharitable spirit manifested toward you by some who oppose the Vow we have been led to conclude that you, dear Brother, have been guided by the Lord in its presentation and that the opposition shown to such a simple form of words is an evidence that Satan is very much on the alert in regard to the matter.
We confess that we can see nothing in the "Vow" but what we believe would be helpful to every one of the Lord's consecrated people who is giving diligence to make his calling and election sure. We also think that the main cause of the opposition shown is through that clause of it referring to the precaution suggested when meeting in private with members of the opposite sex. We believe that Satan has scored many victories in the past on similar lines and are of the opinion that we need more than ever to be on the watch now in this respect, in this time of special testing of the Church. The Lord, we believe, will see that we get all the necessary testings without our making the conditions for ourselves. We believe he will bring about the conditions himself in his own way.
May the Lord guide you still further, beloved Brother, and grant Divine wisdom to Pastor the "flock of God," so that Truth may search us and prove whether or not the carnal mind is dominating us in any sense of the word.
SIGNED BY FIFTEEN.
PUBLIC MINISTRIES OF THE TRUTH
UNDER THE AUSPICES OF PEOPLES PULPIT ASSOCIATION OF BROOKLYN, N.Y.
ONE-DAY CONVENTIONS ADDRESSED BY THE
BROCKTON, MASS., NOV. 14
Morning meeting for praise and testimony, beginning at 10:30 o'clock, and evening meeting with address for the interested, to be held in Canton Hall, 13 N. Main Street.
Evening session for the public at 3 o'clock in City Theatre, No. 50 Main Street. Subject, "The Overthrow of Satan's Empire." Visiting friends heartily welcomed.
ROCHESTER, N.Y., NOV. 21
Morning meeting for Rally at 10:30 and evening meeting for interested at 7:30 in Odd Fellows' Temple, 11 Clinton Av. N.
Afternoon session for the Public at 3 o'clock in Lyceum Theatre, 32 Clinton Av. S. Subject, "Where Are the Dead?"
YORK, PA., NOV. 28
For local particulars ad. J. H. Martin, 561 Pa. Av., York, Pa.
BROOKLYN, N.Y., DEC. 5 AND 19
PITTSBURG (N.S.), PA., DEC. 12
RICHMOND, VA., DEC. 26
CHICAGO, ILL., JAN. 2
BROOKLYN BETHEL HYMNS FOR DECEMBER
After the singing of the hymn the Bethel Family listens to the reading of "My Vow unto the Lord," then joins in prayer. At the breakfast table we consider the MANNA text: (1) 281; (2) 130; (3) 114; (4) 72; (5) 121; (6) 318; (7) 110; (8) 95; (9) 153; (10) 119; (11) 324; (12) 195; (13) 313; (14) 131; (15) 60; (16) 17; (17) 4; (18) 246; (19) 91; (20) 30; (21) 8; (22) 293; (23) 196; (24) 9; (25) 16; (26) 152; (27) 28; (28) 29; (29) 279; (30) Vow; (31) 333.
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STUDIES IN THE SCRIPTURES
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