ZWT - 1914 - R5373 thru R5599 / R5586 (353) - December 1, 1914
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VOL. XXXV DECEMBER 1 No. 23
A. D. 1914--A. M. 6043
Spirit-Begotten Sons of God and Their
How They Are Drawn............................356
Daily Battle of the Spirit-Begotten...........357
Temptations Peculiar to the New Creation..........358
World Not Able to Understand Us...............358
Our Sympathetic High Priest...................359
Seeing Things and Bewildered......................360
A Slump in Salvation..........................360
Your Good Hopes for 1915..........................361
"Watch Tower" Subscriptions.......................362
The Church's Ordination...........................363
"A Little While" (Poem)...........................364
"Where He Was Before".............................365
Manner of Our Lord's Return...................366
Re Distribution of B.S.M......................366
Turns Atheists to the Bible...................367
Report of Eureka Drama........................367
Mid-Winter Louisville Convention..............367
WATCH TOWER BIBLE AND TRACT SOCIETY
CHARLES T. RUSSELL, PRESIDENT
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NOVEMBER 1ST ISSUE IN DEMAND
Anticipating a heavy demand for extra copies of our November 1st issue, which is largely devoted to a systematic treatment of existing conditions as they stand related to Bible prophecy and Messiah's Kingdom, we arranged with our printers for considerably more than ordinarily required for our subscription list. Those desiring copies to give to their friends may have them at 5 cents each, or 40 cents per dozen, postpaid, while the supply lasts.
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EUREKA PROGRAM--FAMILY PROGRAM
In some of our back issues we have explained what constitutes the EUREKA DRAMA X, without pictures--only phonograph and DRAMA records, including musical records; also the Y DRAMA, with tinted slides, DRAMA lectures, music, etc.
Now we have a third suggestion, viz.: EUREKA FAMILY DRAMA. It consists of a phonograph of good, clear tones and a choice selection of records from the DRAMA and some musical records. A few of these records might be said to be a little shop-worn, but none of them are bad--most of them are strictly new. They are priced so as to bring them within the reach of many of our readers who could not afford to purchase the regular DRAMA, but who would like to have some of the records for their own family use and for such of the public as might choose to hear our most wonderful records.
The entire outfit represents twenty of the short lectures of the Scenario, four beautiful hymns and a disc-phonograph (concealed horn)--all for $12, or if all new $15. You would need to count on cost of expressage according to distance from Brooklyn.
BETHEL HYMNS FOR JANUARY
After the close of the hymn the Bethel family listens to the reading of "My Vow Unto the Lord," then joins in prayer. At the breakfast table the MANNA text is considered. Hymns for January follow: (1) 34; (2) 208; (3) 114; (4) 25; (5) 201; (6) 115; (7) 127; (8) 305; (9) 258; (10) Vow; (11) 299; (12) 47; (13) 221; (14) 197; (15) 307; (16) 324; (17) 128; (18) 175; (19) 152; (20) 52; (21) 202; (22) 109; (23) 173; (24) 300; (25) 240; (26) 284; (27) 101; (28) 303; (29) 28; (30) 119; (31) 245.
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SPIRIT-BEGOTTEN SONS OF GOD AND THEIR
"If ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the flesh, ye shall live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God."--`Romans 8:13,14`.
ONLY those who have the right spirit, disposition, will or intention, can keep the Divine Law, and only those who are in perfect harmony with God will He recognize as sons. The holy angels are sons of God on the angelic plane; cherubim are sons of God on their plane of being; and Christ and the Church in glory are sons of God on the Divine plane. All these are sons of God, yet they exist on different planes. They are all governed by the Spirit of God; and unless they had that Spirit, they could not be recognized as sons; for no one can keep the Divine Law except those who have the Divine disposition.
Before Adam fell he was a son of God. (`Luke 3:38`.) He had the Spirit of God, in the sense of having the right spirit, disposition, will, intention. But after he had become a transgressor of the Divine Law, he was considered a sinner. All of Adam's race are still sinners except those who have come into Christ. In the Millennial Age, however, Adam's race will have the privilege of coming into Christ. He will be The Everlasting Father, the Father who will give everlasting life to all those who will obey the instructions given under the Messianic Kingdom.
In order to reach that condition of Divine approval, mankind must have the spirit of the Truth, and must be developed along that line. Before they will be counted, or recognized, as sons, they must have the spirit, or disposition, of righteousness. Until they attain that spirit, they will not be able to render acceptable service; for the Lord seeketh such to worship Him as worship Him in spirit and in truth. In their fallen condition mankind are not able to keep the Divine Law. Even during the Millennial Age they will keep it only in part, until they shall have been brought back to the image of God in the flesh.--`Genesis 1:26`.
WHO ARE THE SONS OF GOD?
Thus far there has been a very limited number of sons of God on earth, according to the Scriptures. Throughout the Jewish Age God was the Instructor and Guide of His people through Moses and the Prophets; but the Israelites were not sons of God, and they did not have the Spirit's begetting to sonship. On the contrary, they were only a House of Servants. (`Hebrews 3:5`.) The Holy Spirit of God was not yet given to any of the fallen race; for Jesus was not yet glorified.--`John 7:39`.
The Scriptures speak of the Spirit of God as a special influence coming from God upon a special class, in a special manner, since a particular event--and not before that event. This coming of the Spirit was made manifest at Pentecost, so that it might stand out separate and distinct from anything that had ever before occurred. This power, or influence, is variously called the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Christ, the Spirit of Truth, the Spirit of a sound mind, the Spirit of sonship. The various qualities described by these appellations are all applicable to the same class; namely, those who are begotten of the Spirit.
These spirit-begotten ones are a particular class who have taken up their cross and become followers of Christ, and who are on this account recognized of the Father by the begetting of the Holy Spirit. This Spirit of Truth so illuminates the Bible that the Revelation of God may be better understood by those who have the Holy Spirit. They are able to comprehend the deep
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things of God, which cannot be comprehended without it. While others not having this Spirit of God might get some truth from the Scriptures, this special class have the very essence of the Truth.
SOME NATURALLY DRAWN TO GOD
We call to mind certain Scriptures which speak of a leading of God's people prior to their begetting of the Holy Spirit. Speaking of a kind of drawing that came to those who afterward became His disciples, our Lord said, "No man can come to Me, except the Father who hath sent Me draw him." (`John 6:44`.) This drawing is not the work of the Holy Spirit of begetting, which comes to those accepted of God through Christ and received as sons. On the contrary, that which the Scriptures speak of as a drawing of God, and which we have all experienced, seems to be a natural drawing along the lines of the flesh, not toward things sinful, but toward holiness, yet along lines which belong to the natural man.
For instance, when God created Adam, naturally he would love God, naturally he would desire to serve God, naturally he would desire to be obedient to God and to worship Him. These desires were all natural to him because he was in a natural condition--the condition in which he was created--pure. Sin has made mankind unnatural. But even after sin had entered in and had perverted the original character which God gave, certain longings for God remained in the human heart--even
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amongst depraved people. They would rather be in harmony with Him, be related to Him, have Him as their Protector and Friend.
God does not draw mankind by any other means than that original power which He implanted and which has not been altogether lost through the fall of the race of Adam. All mankind have degenerated from the image of God; but the desire for worship, for righteousness, for harmony with God, is much stronger in some people than in others. In proportion as one desires righteousness, in that proportion that one is drawn toward God, feels after God, if haply he might find his Creator. He is feeling after God because he wishes to find Him.
HOW THEY ARE DRAWN
This is the drawing, we believe, that comes to every one of us. Before we gave ourselves to God in consecration, we had a desire to come to Him, and that desire was something awakened in us. But it was there before it was awakened. Then something occurred that turned the thoughts toward God. Perhaps it was some great sorrow, some calamity, which drew the heart to God; and with it came the feeling that our grief should be taken to Him. Along with that desire, probably came the thought, "God will not hear me." This is a very proper conclusion, for there is no way of approach to God except through the Redeemer, who said, "I am the Way, the Truth and the Life."
Just as the Roman centurion Cornelius needed instruction as to how to approach God, so the soul feeling after Divine assistance also needs instruction. We verily believe that thousands upon thousands have been turned away from God because of the creedal misrepresentations of His righteous character. When people begin to realize that our God is loving, just, merciful, they will turn to Him. We find that some are now being attracted toward God through the PHOTO-DRAMA OF CREATION. Recently we heard of a lawyer who felt that he had lost his hold upon God altogether; but, as a result of seeing the DRAMA, he drew nigh to God and made a consecration of himself.
This, we believe, is the way in which we are drawn to the Father, whose influence is related to everything beautiful and harmonious in nature. Not until we have the desire to go back to God are we ready to be directed by the great Advocate; for when we come to the Advocate, He very pointedly says, "I cannot receive you except upon one condition." That condition, He tells us, is that we take up our cross and follow Him. (`Matthew 16:24`.) Consequently it would not be wise to tell any one about the narrow way unless he had some drawing toward God.
We see, then, quite a clear distinction between the drawing of the Father--that drawing which persists everywhere --and what in the Scripture is called the Spirit of God. That Spirit is given only to the sons of God. "As many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God." (`Romans 8:14`.) That Spirit takes hold of them, guiding them in various ways--sometimes by putting property into their hands, sometimes by taking it away from them, sometimes by permitting sickness to come. The experiences of these sons of God enable them to grow in grace, in knowledge and in love, that thus they may be fitted and prepared for positions on the spirit plane.
THE SPIRIT POURED UPON ALL MANKIND
During the Millennial Age things will be somewhat different from what they are now. Christ will have representatives in the earthly phase of the Kingdom, and through them the Word of God will go forth to the people. As many as will then be drawn toward God will be privileged to come into relationship with Him through consecration. They will then receive the Spirit of God in the sense of blessing, but not in the sense of begetting, as the Church receives it now.
The Ancient Worthies will be the earthly representatives of the Messianic Kingdom. The Christ, however, will be the great Teacher in glory, from whom all instruction will come through these earthly representatives. As people begin to get the true, the real knowledge about the glorious character of God, they will begin to see how inferior they are. Then they will be in condition to receive instruction.
No one will be compelled to have instruction, however; but whoever is out of accord with the Kingdom will have restrictions put upon him. The Prophet Zechariah, speaking of earthly affairs under the Kingdom, says, "And it shall be, that whoso will not come up of all the families of the earth unto Jerusalem to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, even upon them shall be no rain." (`Zechariah 14:17`.) If we interpret the word rain symbolically, we perceive that the thought is that upon such nations there will be no Divine blessing--if there were no rain, there would be no fruitage. But the rain, the blessing, would be upon those who would be in harmony with the Lord.
When people come into harmony with God, they will consecrate their lives and their bodies to His service. Then they will begin to get the blessings in their minds and bodies; and in this sense of the word they will get more of the Spirit of the Lord--the Spirit of His mind. So through His Truth and through the Divine judgments of that time, the Lord will "pour out His Spirit upon all flesh." (`Joel 2:28`.) In proportion as they receive His Spirit, they will come into the attitude of sonship.
But even then they would not be sons in the full sense of the term. We might say that the Church are not sons in the full sense of the word, but that we shall be sons indeed when we shall have experienced our resurrection change. So in the Millennial Age, as people come into harmony with the Divinely arranged Messianic Kingdom, they will be coming nearer and nearer to the standard of sonship. By the end of the Millennial Age they will have attained that condition of mentality which Adam had when he was perfect. All this blessing they will get through Christ and His associated Church.
THE WORK OF THE SPIRIT IN THE CHURCH
Because our Lord will give everlasting life to the world of mankind, He is called "The Everlasting Father," the Father who gives everlasting life. (`Isaiah 9:6`.) All the willing and obedient will become His children during the Millennium. Then at the close of the Messianic Kingdom the children of The Christ will be introduced to their Grand-Father. Since they are to be sons of Christ, who is the Son of God, the Heavenly Father will be their Grand-Father. Then the whole world will be back into harmony with God as the sons of Christ.
During this Gospel Age, however, God is not operating upon the world. Whatever there is in the world of natural beauty is the result of the operation of the Power of God in a general way. Our text does not refer to this operation of God's Power, or Spirit, but to His influence upon the hearts of men. In the New Testament writings it refers to those who have become His people by making a full consecration of themselves and then being begotten of the Holy Spirit as New Creatures in Christ. (`2 Cor. 5:17`.) All such are recipients of special Divine care.
The Scriptures speak of the Spirit of Truth, the Spirit of the Father, the Spirit of Christ. All these are synonymous terms, which represent the Divine influence
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exercised upon the people of God. Having been begotten of the Spirit, we should remember that, as the Apostle suggests, we are to be perfected. We must make a certain development. We progress until finally we are born in the First Resurrection. Perfection will be attained then, not before. Meantime, in order to be ready for that resurrection, a certain development must take place.
MAKING READY FOR SPIRIT CONDITIONS
In our context the Apostle is telling how we may attain to this life condition, how to make ready for the birth of the Spirit in due time. He says that such a development will be attained through the Spirit, or Power, of God. This Spirit operates in various ways. For instance, God's Message applies to the Church. Therefore the more we understand the Plan of God, the greater will be that Power in our hearts; and the deeper our consecration to the Divine will, the more sympathy will we
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have and the greater will be our desire to do the Divine good pleasure.
The change going on within our hearts is neither by men nor of men. God began this work in us. Therefore we must look to Him to complete the work which He has begun in our hearts by the Message He has given us. So we go to Him in prayer, and we study His Word, to know the meaning of that Word and thus to be enabled to put it into expression in our lives. Just as we require food to strengthen our mortal bodies, so we must also have spiritual food to strengthen the New Creature. This spiritual food God has given us abundantly, in order that we may get spiritual strength to understand His will better than before.
This operation of God through the Holy Spirit is a gradual work. So beclouded are we by the errors of our former beliefs that we are not prepared to see the deep things of God at the first glance. Therefore we need to study, to meet together with those of like precious faith. Thus we are helped to see the deep things.
GOD'S WILL CONCERNING US
As we come to understand the matter more clearly, our thought on the subject changes gradually. When we first came to God, we had the thought that God's will toward us was that we should enjoy ourselves, live good, moral lives, and take care of our bodies; and that if we are God's people, we should have abundance; and that those who could not live in harmony with God would be destroyed. This would be the thought of the natural man. The Apostle says that the natural man cannot see the things of the Spirit of God, because they are spiritually discerned. But this is not at all God's way of dealing with us.
By and by we begin to discern that our Heavenly Father prepares us for the spiritual things by showing us how to destroy the earthly condition and how this will be brought to an end. This is a new thought to us; and we ask ourselves, Does God wish me to mortify, deaden, destroy, the earthly condition? Am I not to seek to cultivate my talents and to live a natural life?
The natural man says, Follow natural things; do as you please so long as you are not interfering with the rights of others. But the New Creature is not to heed the natural inclinations of the flesh. We have asked the Lord to transform us, to renew our mind, and ultimately to give us what He has promised. Therefore we do not belong to the world at all, and our course is to be that which is marked out in the Scriptures.
THE WORK OF THE NEW CREATURE
Our text does not mean that we are to mortify our bodies in the way that some have thought. According to history, there have been earnest souls in the past who have used whips on their bodies until they produced severe pain, and then have worn hair jackets, etc. Sometimes these bodily tortures have been carried so far that the skin would be covered with sores. Others have undertaken to mortify their bodies by lying down to be literally walked on, etc. We cannot question that whoever would do these things must have a motive for so doing, and we cannot think it a bad motive; nevertheless, we believe that those who do such things have a wrong conception of the meaning of our text.
By the expression, "Mortify the deeds of the flesh," the Scriptures mean that the people of God are to put to death in themselves all natural practises that are not in harmony with the Spirit of God. We are all born sinners, the Bible declares, and therefore we are not to follow the bent of our fallen nature. We are to have the Spirit of God, the Holy Spirit, which will guide us in the way in which we should go. We are to mortify every inclination of the body that is not indorsed by the new mind.
There are certain qualities of the mortal body that are to be destroyed, and therefore are to be warred against at all times. Then there are other qualities which are to be utilized in the service of righteousness. Once we were under sin; but now we have a new mind. Henceforth we are to treat the old creature as an earthen vessel merely. Under the direction of the Holy Spirit, we are to know how to do this. The first step in the process is to reckon our body dead. Having reckoned it dead toward sin and toward everything of an earthly nature, we are then to reckon it alive in the sense of awakening, quickening, all the tendencies, attributes, that can be brought into the service of God. This is the second step.
THE DAILY BATTLE OF THE SPIRIT-BEGOTTEN
After we have been begotten of the Spirit, we are New Creatures. In every sense of the word we are free from our body. Whatever parts of our human nature we find to be in opposition to God and His will we are to mortify, deaden, as soon as we discover them. This process is a continual warring against, fighting against, the old nature. The Apostle distinctly calls it a warring between the flesh and the Spirit. But while warring against certain elements which are legally dead, we find that the flesh is not dead actually. But if we live according to the Spirit, and not according to the flesh, God will not recognize the flesh, nor shall we. We shall recognize only the New Creature.
The battle is a daily one. All our members must be brought into harmony with God and His will. We are to endeavor to see everything from the Divine standpoint. The thought is not that we shall ever perfect these mortal bodies, but that while we are living on the earth and have to do with these bodies, it is our duty and our privilege to make the body do the will of the New Creature.
Our bodies were slaves to Sin. Now we say, "I have the right to control this body. I am a New Creature, but this is my body. I shall increase my power over this body, and use it more and more in the service of the Lord. It is not my intention to do foolish things--to leap from a pinnacle to see whether my body will remain alive; but under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, I am to get out of it the most that I can, in the service of the new Master."
All this is necessary to our development in character. God has called the Church to glory, honor, immortality and joint-heirship with Christ. If we do not prove overcomers, we shall never be ready for so great an exaltation. This exalted position will not be given to any mortal merely because he says that he desires to be something
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different from what he is. On the contrary, we must work out our own salvation with fear and trembling. Those who profess entire consecration to God must demonstrate this by putting away everything that is contrary to the Divine will. As these seek to build character, they will be growing "strong in the power of His might." Those who will pursue this course to the end are the class that He is calling for, and those alone will prove worthy of the place to be given to the "more than overcomers."
REJOICING IN TRIBULATION
The world will have a thousand years during which to bring their bodies into harmony with the will of God. Gradually mankind will come to the place where they will be thoroughly loyal to the Lord. The stony heart will be taken away. To all those who through obedience reach this condition God will be pleased to give life everlasting.
But with the Church it is different. During this Gospel Age the Lord is selecting and directing those who of their own will desire to lay down their lives in His service. They love Him, and He is pleased to call them His holy ones. No good thing will He withhold from this class. Eye hath not seen, ear hath not heard, what God hath in reservation for those that love Him--those who have through consecration been begotten of the Holy Spirit, and who are going forward from grace to grace, living not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For this class God has provided His very best things.
To this class the Scriptures declare that "through much tribulation we must enter into the Kingdom of God." Some might say that these have a hard time. But all Christians can agree that it is possible to reach that degree of development where one can rejoice in all these experiences in which the flesh is being mortified, deadened. This is not because we are so different from other people that we like what they dislike, but because we see a reason why this tribulation is permitted. We know that this is God's plan for us; and by these evidences of mortification of the will of the flesh, of the things of the flesh, we see that we are growing in the favor of our Heavenly Father.
These have the peace of God ruling in their hearts. They know that all of their affairs are under Divine supervision. The world have their troubles and fears and forebodings. But those who have put their trust in the Lord have a peace which the world can neither give nor take away. But we cannot explain this to the world; for they cannot understand it.
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TEMPTATIONS PECULIAR TO THE NEW CREATION
"We have not an High Priest who cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities, but was tempted in all points like as we are, yet without sin. Let us, therefore, come boldly unto the Throne of Grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need."--`Hebrews 4:15,16`.
ST. PAUL had been speaking respecting the antitypical Priesthood, and had been showing that Aaron had been only a typical priest, that the Levitical priesthood never really took away sin, that a better Priesthood was necessary, that this higher Priesthood was represented in Melchizedek, and that God had declared that Jesus would be "a Priest forever, after the Order of Melchizedek." Jesus is a Heavenly High Priest--not an earthly high priest. The thought, then, might be gathered that if our Lord is not an earthly priest He would not know how to sympathize with us. But the Apostle assures us that our great High Priest can fully sympathize with us, because "He was tempted in all points like as we are."
We are not to understand the Apostle to mean that our Lord was tempted in every manner that the world is tempted. He had none of the temptations peculiar to a drunkard, etc. His was not an unbalanced mind. He was tempted "like as we are"--The Church. Like our Master, we are not, as New Creatures, tempted as are the world. The world has its own kinds of temptation. We are not of the world. We are being tested as spirit-begotten children of God. We are tested as to our loyalty to Him, as to our faith and obedience. Of course, while still in the flesh, we are liable to temptations along the line of our natural tendencies as members of the fallen race, but these are not our temptations as New Creatures.
THE WORLD NOT ABLE TO UNDERSTAND US
The world knows nothing of our peculiar trials as New Creatures. They know merely about the common trials and weaknesses of humanity. But we, having been justified in God's sight, and set apart for His service, desire to carry out our new aims. We are no longer of the world. The world, the flesh and the Devil seek to turn us aside, to draw us back into the old ways; and these temptations are liable to make us forget our covenant of special relationship to the Lord, and what we have agreed to do and to be. It is in this respect that we are being especially tempted and tried, and we must ever be on our guard. We know that Jesus, our great Head, was tried in like manner with us.
When Jesus told His disciples that He was going up to Jerusalem, and that He would be betrayed into the hands of the chief priests and the scribes, and they would condemn Him to death and deliver Him over to the Gentiles, who would mock and scourge and crucify Him, St. Peter said: Master, do not talk that way--it is discouraging. And why speak of these strange things about eating your flesh and drinking your blood? Lord, do not say these things! God forbid; this shall not be your lot!
So even His chosen Twelve could not understand the Master. Jesus answered (but not in the crudity of the Common Version), "Get thee behind Me, adversary"--you are becoming My opponent. You would undo the very work I am doing. Instead of helping you are hindering Me, because your thoughts are not God's thoughts, but men's.--See `Matthew 16:21-23`.
And so it is with many who seek to show us kindness, who think they are serving our best interests. They say that we are foolish in thinking so much about religion. They mean well. They do not realize that we must be about our Father's business. This is the kind of temptation that comes to us as Christians, as followers of the Master. The special temptations of the Lord's children are not temptations to commit gross immoralities; and the temptations of Jesus were not of this kind. But He did have the temptation to withhold the Truth and to give something that would be more palatable.
Some of our nominal church friends may say to us: Why do you not engage in slum work, or in social uplift work? You are continually talking about the Kingdom! the Kingdom! As God's ambassadors we are here for the very purpose of telling men about the Kingdom, about the glorious things God has in reservation for His saints, and also His purposes for the world. We know that human "slumming" methods will fail to save the world,
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but the Kingdom will save it. The temptation is to do something that others would applaud, instead of doing and saying things of God's Word that bring disapproval from the world and the nominal church people. The Editor has friends who say to him, If you would not talk as you do, and write as you write, more people would listen to you. You could be very popular if you would speak a little differently. You are putting too much religion into your sermons. We reply, Yes, but we are speaking and writing to instruct the people respecting God's Word, character, Plan; and respecting His present call to the Church.
THE CHARACTER OF THE MASTER'S TEMPTATIONS
The Master probably had presented to His mind the suggestion: Now take an easier way. This way that seems to be indicated is the crudest possible one. Go to God and tell Him that it does not seem right to you, who have been loyal through all these ages, that you should be subjected to such treatment; that this seems a very strange way to treat a faithful Son; that there can be no good reason for it, and nothing can be gained by it. Ask God if He cannot make some change. Ask Him if He is not overdoing the matter.
And so we, His followers, may sometimes have similar suggestions. But a murmuring, rebellious spirit would prove that we are not in the right attitude of heart; it would prove that we had either never really submitted our will to the Lord or else had withdrawn it, and that we lacked confidence in Him. Any such temptations must be promptly resisted by the child of God.
When St. Peter sought to defend our dear Master from the soldiers and officers who came to arrest Him, though knowing what the end would be, Jesus said: "The cup which My Father hath poured for Me, shall I not drink it?" He did not think for one moment of yielding to any temptation to use His superior power to prevent His enemies from taking Him. He showed them that He possessed such power; for they all went backward, and fell to the ground. Thus He made it manifest that had He chosen to exercise His supernatural power He was infinitely stronger than they, and submitted not because He must, but because He was in reality voluntarily submitting Himself to death. This was a demonstration of His previous declaration: "No man taketh My life from Me, but I lay it down of Myself." (`John 10:17,18`.) He steadfastly refused to yield to any appeals from His flesh to escape or to lessen His sufferings. "He was tempted in all points like as we are, yet without sin."
We might weaken sometimes; we might come short-- and we do come short. We cannot fully live up to the glorious standard. Christ was without sin. We have sin abounding in our flesh, and we have weaknesses which He did not have. But if we are to follow in His steps, we are to overcome, and to prove overcomers to the end. We are not to say to ourselves; I cannot live as Jesus lived, even if I try ever so hard; what is the use of setting up so perfect a standard? But there is use in it; and we should earnestly strive to come as near as possible to that standard. By keeping this glorious Pattern ever before us, we shall be able to come much nearer perfection than if our standard was lower. We must have no less than this perfect standard as our aim, if we expect to win the prize for which we have entered this race.
If Jesus had sinned and had come short in any way, it would have meant failure complete. He would never have had a resurrection. This was typified in the Jewish high priest when he passed under the veil with the blood. The high priest who had not followed every instruction of the Law in the offering of his sacrifices would have died under the veil. This was what Jesus feared in Gethsemane, when "He offered up strong crying and tears unto Him who was able to save Him out of [Greek ek] death"--not to save Him from dying, but to save Him out of death by resurrection. And the record is that He was heard and was strengthened, comforted. (`Luke 22:39-45`; `Hebrews 5:7`.) As soon as He had the Father's assurance that He had not violated any conditions, and that He would not go into eternal death, He was content to suffer any other experience that might come to Him.
OUR SYMPATHETIC HIGH PRIEST
From the fact that our High Priest was tempted and suffered, we may know that He is not one who is cold and indifferent. On the contrary, He is One who is full of sympathy, who has had the largest kind of experience. (`Hebrews 2:18`; `5:8`.) If then, we have temptations, what must we do? We are to come to our great High Priest; and as we come to the Throne of Heavenly Grace, we may come with boldness (or, more properly translated, with courage, not doubting), knowing that the One who meets us there is fully able to sympathize with our every sorrow and need, and with our every temptation.
If we have not sinned wilfully, if our sins have been those of imperfection of the flesh through besetment, so that at the time we were not able to overcome and to control the flesh properly, we may come with courage, knowing that the Lord understands all about the weaknesses of our fallen human nature--He remembers that we are but dust: (`Psalm 103:13,14`.) St. Paul says we cannot properly judge even ourselves as respects our own weaknesses.
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He says (`1 Corinthians 4:3,4`), "With me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you or of man's judgment; yea, I judge not mine own self;...but He that judgeth me is the Lord." He knows how to make all due allowance. Then let us not hesitate to come to Him in prayer, pleading His promises. Let us seek for the mercy of the Lord, knowing that we shall receive it, when we are truly striving to be faithful to Him.
Our Father knows all about these experiences we are having, and He made the provision for our covering. He provided succor from our difficulties, that we might come in as members of the Body of Christ, even though imperfect. He knows that we cannot fully control our imperfect bodies. But as we become stronger, we should be better able to control the mortal body. The new will should subjugate the old mind, and have better success in conquering the flesh. We must scrutinize ourselves and our progress; we should not be satisfied nor feel that we are proving overcomers, unless we can from time to time see growth in ourselves in Christlikeness and in ability to subdue the old nature with its impulses and tendencies.
No other arrangement would have been so good for us as the one the Lord has chosen. We have our weaknesses and imperfections charged up to us; but God has provided a way by which we can have them all forgiven, if they are unavoidable or if there has been no wilfulness connected with them. Any measure of wilfulness in a child of God requires expiation by stripes. If we judge-- closely inspect or scrutinize--ourselves, our thoughts, words and actions, we shall require less judging and disciplining by the Lord to correct our faults. If we realize that we have been remiss in any way in keeping our vows, if we think that we have been lax in some particular at any time, it is helpful to impose some penalty upon ourselves that we shall feel. We should go to the Lord in earnest prayer, asking forgiveness, and promising Him by His grace to strive to be more watchful in the future.
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We should daily scrutinize ourselves along this line, and never lightly pass over any failure.
How precious and comforting the realization that our merciful High Priest is touched with the feeling of our infirmities! We should never, however, relax our vigilance because of this knowledge, or take any advantage of His mercy. But we rejoice that we have a Mercy Seat to which we can go as soon as we are conscious of our inability to be all that we would, and rejoice to know that we shall not be turned away.
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SEEING THINGS AND BEWILDERED
FEW realize the wonderful change that has come over public sentiment during the last forty years--the Harvest time of this Age. The increase of knowledge prophesied for our day came on time and is doing its work. It is opening eyes of understanding long blinded by ignorance, superstition, false doctrines. Not only is this true in respect to God's consecrated people, who are now so much more clearly understanding the Bible and its Message, but it is true in large degree of the intelligent people of the world who make no profession of Christianity, yet have a good respect for the principles of righteousness, justice and mercy.
Misled by the errors which have adulterated Christianity, these well-disposed people wonder to what extent the Church's claims might be true, to the effect that present kingdoms constitute Christendom--Christ's Kingdom. Naturally they would doubt it, wondering why Messiah's Kingdom would make so little progress in the earth and exhibit so little power. This leads on to a double confusion:
(1) They wonder why all Christian people do not undertake the political, social and financial problems of the world and bring harmony out of confusion, and thus accomplish the world-wide uplift which should be expected if Christ's Kingdom is controlling the world and if Christian people are commissioned of the Lord to convert the world and uplift it socially, etc.
Many preachers and professed Christians are similarly led astray from the real commission of the Church by these errors--so that they abandon the preaching of the Gospel, and instead preach Sociology, etc., etc.
Thus it comes that the comparatively few Christian people who are following the Scriptural lines carefully, and preaching the authorized Gospel of Christ, are discredited, hindered, rebuked, made to appear to the world as neglecting their commission.
On the other hand, how plainly the Bible presents the subject! The true Church is commissioned by the Lord, not to convert the world, but to take out of the world a Little Flock of faithful footstep followers of the Lord. These are to pass through great tribulation, in order that they may enter into the Kingdom, which is still future. They are not to mix in politics, etc., but to throw their entire influence on the side of the preaching of the Gospel to all who have hearing ears to the intent that, thus drawn, called and sanctified by the Truth, an elect class of one hundred and forty-four thousand shall finally be completed and, by the "change" of the First Resurrection, pass from the earthly nature to the Heavenly and become the Bride of Christ, His associate in the great Kingdom which He will then establish world-wide, to the blessing and enlightenment of all the families of the earth.
(2) The world's second difficulty growing out of the adulteration of Christian doctrine could not be better illustrated than by the following article which we clipped from The New York Call. Evidently the writer is genuinely puzzled, as thousands of Christian people are puzzled, by the present war and by the fact that professed Christians are fighting on all sides, under every government except the Turkish. What are they fighting for and what are they fighting against, if so be that all of these kingdoms are Christ's Kingdoms--Christendom? Surely this war and the more terrible conditions which the Bible shows us will follow it will gradually open the eyes of mankind more and more. By and by, when the "flaming fire" of anarchy shall sweep the world, every eye of understanding will have discerned the gigantic error of the creeds which for a time misled us all. Their eyes will see through the trouble; and gradually they will understand the facts, the great lesson, that all the kingdoms of this world are human and are in large degree associated with the empire of the "Prince of this world," and that these are being overthrown to the intent that Messiah's Kingdom shall be established under the whole heavens. The article from The Call follows:
* * *
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A SLUMP IN SALVATION
"It is not only Socialism that has gone under in the European fracas, but the Salvation Army has also disappeared on the continent. Ten thousand of its most active members and workers are now fighting under literal banners of 'Blood and Fire' instead of the metaphysical symbol known by that name, under which the army conducted its warfare against 'the Devil.'
"The organization and system have completely collapsed on the continent, and in neutral countries the army is financially broken. A reconstruction of the entire army will, it is said, become necessary after the war is over. Its officers declare that it has suffered more than any religious organization in existence except that of the Catholic Church. In this country the well-to-do are closing down on their donations, the churches give nothing; the industrial plants, from which most of the money was extracted, have mostly gone out of business and collections at street meetings have fallen to the vanishing point.
"The report seems to show that this concern was no different from thousands of others based frankly on material considerations. When economically affected, it disappeared as they did. The metaphysical signboards and trademarks under which it carried on business became utterly useless and impotent in the face of material collapse. Actual, physical warfare, simply blotted out the abstract conflict between 'Sin and Holiness,' which the army was supposed to continually wage, and 'salvation' became a drug on the market. Those to whom it is offered without money and without price have no use for it, and those who formerly put up the price so that it might be brought to 'perishing sinners' have quit; and both the sinners and those who carried them the glad tidings are equally perishing on the battlefields of Europe, fighting the 'battle of the Lord' on opposing sides.
"But in this respect, the army is by no means unique. There is nothing which purports to represent 'religion' today that can stand up against war, from the haughty ultra-respectable, established state churches to the 'religion' of the gutter. The universal impotency of all of them suggests that they, too, should be sent to the scrap pile along with 'militarism.' If the world needs 'religion' of any kind, it needs an utterly new and different one, instead of one that serves 'the Devil' in war time, and pretends to oppose him in time of peace."
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YOUR "GOOD HOPES" FOR 1915
[The plan here proposed we designate "GOOD HOPES," because nothing is actually promised--only your generous hopes expressed, based upon your future prospects as they now appear to you. The plan has proved not only so beneficial to the cause of Truth, but also so blessed to the hopers, for some years past, that we again commend it to all as Scriptural and good. Those who desire to make use of this plan can fill out both of these memoranda. One should be kept for the refreshment of your memory; the other mail to us.]
"WATCH TOWER BIBLE & TRACT SOCIETY."
Dear Friends:--I have read with interest of the openings for the STUDIES and Tract work in foreign lands and here at home. I need not tell you that I am deeply interested in the spread of the Glad Tidings of the lengths and breadths, the heights and depths of redeeming love expressed for us in God's great Plan of the Ages.
I am anxious to use myself--every power, every talent, voice, time, money, influence, all--to give to others this knowledge, which has so greatly blessed, cheered and comforted my own heart and placed my feet firmly upon the Rock of Ages.
I have been considering carefully, and praying to be instructed, how to use my various talents more to my Redeemer's glory and for the service of His people--those blinded by human tradition who are, nevertheless, hungering for "the good Word of God," and those also who are naked, not having on the wedding garment of Christ's imputed righteousness, the unjustified, who stand, at best, in the filthy rags of their own righteousness. I have decided that so far as my "money talent" goes, I will follow the rule so clearly laid down for us by the great Apostle Paul (`1 Cor. 16:2`), and will lay aside on the first day of each week, according to my thankful appreciation of the Lord's blessings during the preceding week. Out of this fund I wish to contribute to the several parts of the Lord's work specified on the back of this letter. Of course, I cannot in advance judge or state particularly what the Lord's bounty may enable me to set apart weekly, and hence you will understand the sum indicated to be merely my conjecture or hope, based upon present prospects. I will endeavor to contribute more than I here specify; and should I not succeed in doing as well, the Lord will know my heart, and you, also, will know of my endeavors.
My only object in specifying in advance what I hope to be able to do in this cause is to enable those in charge of the work of publishing and circulating the Tracts, etc., to form estimates, lay plans, make contracts, etc., with some idea of what I will at least try to do in the exercise of this, my highly appreciated privilege.
My present judgment is that during the coming year, by self-denial and cross-bearing, I shall be able to lay aside on the first day of each week for Home and Foreign Mission Work (to assist in circulating SCRIPTURE STUDIES in foreign languages, and in publishing the BIBLE STUDENTS MONTHLY in various languages, and in supplying these gratuitously to brethren who have the heart and opportunity to circulate them widely, and in meeting the expenses of brethren sent out as Lecturers to preach the Divine Plan of Salvation, and in general to be expended as the officers of the Society may deem best), the amount of__________per week.
To comply with United States Postal Laws, all or any portion of my donation may be applied as subscription price for WATCH TOWER sent to the Lord's poor or others, as the Society's officers may deem advisable.
That the work be not hindered, I will endeavor to send you what I shall have laid aside for this cause at the close of each quarter. I will secure a Bank Draft, Express Order or Postal Money Order as I may find most convenient, and will address the letter to
WATCH TOWER BIBLE & TRACT SOCIETY, BROOKLYN TABERNACLE, 13-17 HICKS ST., BROOKLYN, N.Y., or, London Tabernacle, Lancaster Gate W., England; or, Flinders Building, Flinders St., Melbourne, Australia.
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WATCH TOWER SUBSCRIPTION RENEWALS
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A PRIVILEGE AND A SERVICE
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We have at times required that all desiring THE WATCH TOWER on credit, or free, as "the Lord's Poor," should make personal application; now we request every subscriber to inquire among those whom he knows to be interested in Present Truth, and to obtain the consent of all such to send in their subscriptions either on credit or free, as their circumstances may necessitate. Any getting it on credit may at any future time request that the debt be canceled, and we will cheerfully comply. We desire that as nearly as possible THE WATCH TOWER lists shall represent all deeply interested in its message.
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CREATION DRAMA SCENARIO
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THE CHURCH'S ORDINATION
--DECEMBER 13.--`MATTHEW 28:16-20`; `LUKE 24:36-49`.--
"Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world."--`Matthew 28:20`.
TODAY'S Study relates to the commission, or authorization of service, which Jesus appointed to His Church in His discourses during the forty days following His resurrection. First we have the Master's words on the evening after His journey with two of His disciples to the village of Emmaus, near Jerusalem. Then we have a part of the general commission which Jesus gave just before He parted from His disciples and was received up into Heaven.
The lessons of that journey to Emmaus and of subsequent appearances must have been very valuable to all the followers of Christ at that time. He said, "These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you [while I was yet the Man Christ Jesus, before My resurrection change], how all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and in the Prophets and in the Psalms concerning Me. Then opened He their understanding, that they might understand the Scriptures, and said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day; and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem."
The Evangelist sums up in few words conversation and Scriptural exposition which probably occupied at least an hour. We are not told what these expositions were which opened their eyes of understanding, but we can surmise. He probably explained to them the significance of the Passover lamb that was killed at that time of the year, and showed that He was the Antitype of that lamb. He probably explained to them the true significance of the Passover--that in the type the first-born of Israel were passed over, and subsequently represented by the tribe of Levi, including the priests; and that the antitype of these first-borns is the Church of the First-borns, whose names are written in Heaven--all the saintly followers of Jesus who will be of the Royal Priesthood, and the antitypical Levites, their servants, in the work of the world's uplift during Messiah's Kingdom.
The Master doubtless also gave them some suggestions respecting the antitypical Atonement Day and "the better sacrifices"--that He Himself began "the better sacrifices," which would be continued in His disciples; and that, the sacrifices being finished, the Atonement blessings would go forth from the High Priest to all the earth, during Messiah's Kingdom of a thousand years.
POWER FROM ON HIGH PROMISED
Whatever features of the great Plan the Master unfolded, we have the assurance that His auditors were deeply interested. Their sadness disappeared. Their first thoughts were merely that they had lost their blessed Master, His counsels, His instructions; but now, through this enlightenment, their hearts burned with a fresh inspiration of knowledge. They saw heights, depths, lengths and breadths that they had never dreamed of in God's Plan. They saw that the death of Jesus was necessary for the carrying out of all the hopes and prospects inspired by the promises of God. They saw that they themselves were privileged also, not only to suffer with Him, but also to be glorified.
The concluding part of the Master's Message on that occasion was, "Behold, I send the promise of My Father upon you." The Father had promised in various types that the Church, the Bride of Christ, would receive the Holy Spirit from Jesus, their Head. It was typified, for instance, in the holy oil which, poured upon the head of Aaron, typifying Jesus, flowed down upon the body of Aaron, typifying the anointing of the Church.
This promise of the Divine acceptance of the Church was all-important. Without it the disciples would have no commission, and could not be ambassadors for God. Jesus indeed had sent out The Twelve, and afterwards the Seventy; but they were His personal representatives, and He had given them of His own spirit, His own power, by which they worked miracles, cast out devils, etc. But they had never been recognized of the Father. As we read, "The Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified." (`John 7:39`.) They must wait for this begetting and anointing of the Holy Spirit. It alone could imbue or qualify them for the Divine service --to be God's ambassadors and representatives.
"LO, I AM WITH YOU ALWAY"
St. Matthew's account of our Lord's benediction upon His disciples and His commissioning of them to declare His Message, is full of interest to us. By His appointment the Eleven met Him in a mountain in Galilee. For a few moments only He appeared to them. They worshiped, some fully convinced, others wavering. It was for the convincing of such waverers that Jesus remained during the forty days. And we are sure that He fully accomplished His work of convincing the Eleven; for they were all of one heart and one mind when they waited in the upper room for the Pentecostal blessing.
Jesus came near to them, and declared that full authority had been given unto Him in respect to both Heavenly things and earthly things. Unless they could realize this, it would be impossible for them properly to represent Him before the world. He had not this power and authority previously, during His earthly ministry. He was then in process of trial as respects His faithful loyalty even unto death, even unto the death of the cross. But after He had demonstrated His loyalty, the Father had raised Him from the dead to a glorious fulness of power. He was thus declared to be the Son of God with power by His resurrection from the dead. He wished His disciples to know that He was no longer under the human limitations or under the limitations of the Death Covenant. That work He had finished. He had entered into the blessing, the reward. He had experienced His change and now had all power, not only in respect to earthly things, but also in respect to Heavenly things.
Prophecy had declared that unto Him all would bow, both those in Heaven and those on earth. He had entered into the condition where this prophecy would soon begin to be fulfilled. He had ascended up on High, where all the angels worshiped, gave heed to Him as the Father's exalted One. Not yet is the latter part of the promise fulfilled--that all on earth should bow to Him. The time for such a recognition will be during His Messianic Kingdom of a thousand years. As now, all who come to a true knowledge of Jesus as the Son of God gladly bow their knee to Him as the Father's Representative, so gladly the world will come to recognize the Only Begotten and render obedience to Him.
Eventually every knee shall bow and every tongue confess; for, according to the Divine arrangement all who fail to appreciate the glorified Son of God at that time will be destroyed--counted unworthy of any further blessings and favor of God, who has bestowed upon Christ all the blessings which He designs for the fallen race.
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"GO YE THEREFORE, AND TEACH"
Here is the commission. Primarily it belonged to the eleven Apostles, but subsequently it included St. Paul, who took the place of Judas and who was "not one whit behind the very chiefest of the Apostles." (`2 Corinthians 11:5`.) The Apostles, and they alone, are authorized as mouthpieces of the Lord Jesus Christ and His Church to the world. All that has been told us of Apostolic Bishops being successors of The Twelve is false, unscriptural. They had no successors; they are with us yet. The Master's Message through them is given us in the New Testament, of which one of them wrote, "The Word of God is sufficient, that the man of God may be thoroughly furnished." (`2 Timothy 3:16,17`.) To the Apostles was given the great work of inaugurating the Church. They were endued with the power at Pentecost.
But while Jesus appointed especially the Twelve Apostles to be His mouthpieces to the Church, and declared that whatsoever they would bind on earth we might know was bound in Heaven, and that whatsoever they would declare was not bound on earth was not bound in the sight of Heaven, nevertheless the Lord arranged that each member of the Church should be His representative, and that each in proportion to his opportunity and ability might have a share in proclaiming the Gospel Message. Whoever receives the Spirit of begetting, the anointing, is included in the statement of `Isa. 61:1-3` as a member of the Body of Christ, under the anointed Head, Jesus.
Thus we read, "The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me; because the Lord hath anointed Me to preach good tidings unto the meek; He hath appointed Me to bind up the broken-hearted," etc. Everyone who receives the Holy Spirit is thus ordained, or authorized, to preach, according to his or her opportunity or limitation of circumstances or conditions. One limitation of the Apostle is that the sisters are not to teach in public. (`1 Tim. 2:12`.) Nevertheless there are plenty of opportunities for all.
Evidently, therefore, a great mistake has been made in the arrangement of a clergy class, who declare themselves to be the only ones who are ordained, or authorized, to preach or to teach God's Message. Jesus and the Apostles knew nothing of a clergy class or of a laity class. On the contrary, our Lord declared, "All ye are brethren; and One is your Master, even Christ." And the Master and His twelve Apostles especially forbade anything approaching a lordship amongst His followers, anything like a clerical class.
THE CHURCH'S COMMISSION
The Message given is, "Go ye, therefore, and make disciples from all nations." The commission is not to make the nations disciples, but, as elsewhere expressed, to gather out of all nations those willing to be disciples of Christ, whether rich or poor, learned or ignorant, noble or base. A disciple of Christ is a follower, one who learns, one who copies. Jesus defined this discipleship, saying, "If any man will come after Me [be My disciple], let him deny himself [set himself aside, ignore himself, his talent, his will, his wealth, his everything--discipleship first], and let him take up his cross and follow Me."
The intimation is that all true followers of Christ, all true disciples, will find the path in which the Lord will lead a difficult one, in which their own wills must be continually crossed, opposed--a way in which they will continually have difficulty according to the flesh. However, the promise is that eventually, "Where I am [in Heaven or in Kingdom glory], there shall My disciple be."
While the Church of Christ has properly viewed water immersion as a symbol of death to the world, death to self, and of rising to newness of life as members of Christ, the Body of Christ, nevertheless the water baptism is only a picture of the true. So here it is stated that our commission is not water baptism, but baptism into the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. "Into the name of" signifies into accord with, into fellowship with. All of Christ's disciples are to recognize the Father's name as standing for righteousness; and they are to become dead to every other principle than that which His name represents, and to be thoroughly immersed into that name of righteousness, justice, truth.
Ignoring all other names, such as Lutherans or Wesleyans or Calvinists, or State Church names, such as Roman Catholics or Anglican Catholics or Greek Catholics, these are to be thoroughly immersed into the name of Christ and to recognize His name and to be His members, His Body, His Church. Furthermore, they are to be immersed into the name of, the recognition of, the Holy Spirit--their own spirit, their own wills being dead. Their own aims, hopes and prospects are to be ignored. God's holy will, God's mind, God's holy purpose, are to be their will and purpose.
Thus we see our commission as respects all people of all nations who have an ear to hear our Message. We are to make them disciples and to immerse them into the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. We are to teach them to observe all things whatsoever Jesus commands. This is the extent of our authority. We are not to organize human systems and to call them kingdoms, churches, or other names. We are merely to prepare the followers of Jesus, co-operating with God, who will work in them to will and to do His good pleasure.
"UNTO THE END OF THE WORLD"
"And lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world." His words have been understood to signify that the world is to come to an end; whereas what the Master really said, according to the Greek, is that He would be with His people, even to the end of the Age-- down to the time when this Gospel Age will have accomplished its Divinely purposed mission of gathering out a sufficient number of disciples of Christ to complete the Divine purpose--until the Gospel Message shall have accomplished the sanctification through obedience to the Truth of a proper number to complete the Bride of Christ in glory, the Royal Priesthood. Then the end of the Age will come. Then will come the Master Himself, to gather His Elect, to glorify them with Himself, to establish His Kingdom, to bless the world of mankind--the non-elect.
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"A LITTLE WHILE"
How long, O Lord, till I am meet
To hold with Thee communion sweet?
How long until Thine eyes shall see
The Spirit's fruits complete in me?
When shall I come to Thee, my Lord,
As promised in Thy blessed Word?
When shall I see Thee as Thou art,
And satisfy my longing heart?
Ah, then, how mean will seem these toys,
These transitory, earthly joys!
How short appear this dreary way,
When night hath turned to endless day!
Then, peace, my soul, be strong, my heart,
And bravely strive to do thy part;
"A little while," He soon shall come,
And say, "Enough, my child, come home!"
NOV. 22, 1914. GERTRUDE W. SEIBERT.
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"WHERE HE WAS BEFORE"
--DECEMBER 20.--`LUKE 24:50-53`; `ACTS 1:1-11`.--
"What and if ye shall see the Son of Man ascend up where He was before?"--`John 6:62`.
THE forty days which followed our Lord's resurrection were sufficient time for the Divine purpose. The disciples had lost their first bewilderment, created by the crucifixion of the One whom they supposed was about to take the throne to rule Israel and the world. We can see the wisdom of the Divine method of communicating the facts to the disciples. They were not alarmed, as they would have been if Jesus had appeared to them in a light above the brightness of the sun, as He afterwards appeared to Saul of Tarsus. Gradually they learned that their Lord was no longer dead, but alive; and that He was no longer a human being, but now a spirit being--that He was no longer confined, therefore, to the usages of humans, but, like the angels, could come and go like the wind, appearing and disappearing at pleasure.
It was a slow lesson. After the three appearances of the first day, they looked for Him each day until the following Sabbath, when the fourth appearance, or manifestation, was made. This delay only whetted their appetite, their craving, for knowledge respecting Him. Meantime they could, and did, think over all the things which Jesus had said to them during His earthly ministry. They perceived wherein they had mistaken a Heavenly Kingdom for an earthly one--or at least mistook the time of the establishment of Messiah's Kingdom.
The lesson given on the way to Emmaus must have been very impressive. It dealt with the prophecies which related to Jesus, and explained to them how these prophecies were already in fulfilment--some of them already fulfilled, and some of them still future. Well did they remark that their hearts burned within them when He made these explanations!
AN IMPORTANT LESSON
After the four appearances, apparently two full weeks passed without any manifestation. In that time the tension relaxed, and the affairs of earth began to assert themselves. What would the disciples do? Privately they had been thinking of the wisdom of returning to their former employment, from which Jesus had called them to be fishers of men; but none of them cared to broach the subject to the others. St. Peter, always a leader of thought and action, finally declared himself: "I go a fishing"--I am going back to the fishing business. A word was all that was necessary. The others were of the same mind, and the old firm was reorganized.
For just such a decision Jesus had delayed His ascension. He would show them that their continuance in the work of fishing for men could go on in His absence with His blessing. The Master oversaw their interests, and that night gave them "bad luck." They caught nothing.
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They were discouraged, but it was "good for them." As is written, "All things work together for good to those who love God"--even their financial disappointments.
In the morning Jesus stood on the shore and called to them, asking them whether they had any fish for sale. They replied that they had caught nothing. The Master said, "Cast the net on the other side of the boat." They might have said that such advice was foolish, but they were in the mood to do anything to get rid of their "bad luck." They cast the net as directed, and quickly it was filled with great fishes. Then they knew that the One on the shore must be their risen Lord, who had thus made a new manifestation of Himself to them.
The fishermen hastened to the shore. They had known only one experience like this ever, and that was when on a previous occasion the Master had given them a similar great catch. The boat moved too slowly for St. Peter. He was afraid that somehow the Master would disappear. Girding upon him his fisherman's coat, he swam to the shore. The Master did not leave, but invited St. Peter and companions to breakfast from fish already on the fire.
Here was a great lesson. Their Master could provide cooked fish when necessary, and could give them just as much success as He saw best in respect to their fishing business. He who could thus provide for their needs on this occasion could do so in the future, should He send them forth again, authorized to speak in His name. None of them asked the Stranger His name; for, although His features and His clothing were different, they knew that it was another manifestation of their Lord, who was no longer a human being and who was able to appear in various forms, as He had done.
The lesson taught, Jesus vanished. He had one other meeting with His followers in Galilee. It was a prearranged meeting. Jesus had sent word that He would meet His followers there. St. Paul says that about five hundred brethren saw Him, and were witnesses of the resurrection.--`1 Corinthians 15:6`.
OUR LORD'S PARTING INSTRUCTIONS
Our lesson today relates especially to the ascension of Jesus. This took place near Jerusalem--at Bethany. Apparently He met with His followers in the Holy City-- perhaps at a very early hour, by appointment. He led them out to Bethany, talking the while, explaining the things that would be to their advantage to know--the things they would need to be thoroughly convinced of before He would leave them, and before they would be in a proper attitude of faith to be prepared for the blessings He had yet to send.
St. Luke, who also wrote the Book of Acts, tells us that the essence of Jesus' teaching during the forty days was in respect to the Kingdom of God. Still they understood not; indeed, it was not possible for them to understand fully until they would receive the begetting of the Holy Spirit. It was toward that point, therefore, that Jesus directed their attention, saying that they should not depart from Jerusalem nor engage in any work of preaching, but should simply wait for the promise of the Father, of which He had previously told them--the gift of the Holy Spirit. He explained that John the Baptist had indeed used the water baptism, but that He intended that all His followers should receive a superior baptism and qualification--the baptism of the Spirit at Pentecost.
On this last occasion, which was probably the seventh manifestation, the disciples had gotten their bearing to such an extent that they asked the very significant question, "Lord, wilt thou at this time restore the Kingdom to Israel?" The Kingdom had been taken away from Israel away back in the days of Zedekiah, king of Judah. At that time Jehovah had said that He would overturn the Kingdom until Messiah would come--"until He comes whose right it is, and I will give it unto Him."-- `Ezekiel 21:25-27`.
The disciples considered Jesus to be the Messiah, and thought that the Father's time had come for giving Him the Kingdom. But they had been witnesses to the contrary-- that the Kingdom of Heaven had suffered violence at the hands of the rulers, that the rightful Heir to the throne had been slain, and that He had risen from the dead. They had regained their confidence that there would be a King, and they were now inquiring whether
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it would be at this time or at some future coming of the Master that His Kingdom would be established.
The Master's answer was significant: "It is not for you to know the times and the seasons, which the Father hath kept in His own hand"--in His own power. The Master had already intimated to His disciples that at the appointed time they would know the times and the seasons, but it was not due for them to understand those things then. They must wait patiently. The development of patience would do them good, would strengthen their faith, would strengthen their character in general.
For the Father to have made known the long interval of nearly nineteen hundred years before Messiah's Kingdom would be established would not have been wise-- would not have been for the good of His people, who would have been discouraged in view of the long delay of their hopes. The Master therefore merely indicated that they must walk by faith and not by sight, and especially that they must not expect to understand anything respecting God's program until after they would receive the anointing of the Holy Spirit.
After receiving the Spirit, they would be fully qualified to be God's representatives and to speak the Message; and from time to time they would be given the "meat in due season." Thus they would not be in darkness with the world, and the Day of the Lord would not come upon them as a thief in the night or as a snare. The Pentecostal blessing which they received qualified them fully for the work of the ministry, even though it did not cover their natural blemishes; for it was after they had received the Holy Spirit that we read, "The people perceived that they were ignorant and unlearned men."
OUR LORD'S ASCENSION
Our Lord's ascension was a spectacular one, so far as His Church was concerned, but not in respect to the world. Of the world He had already said, "Yet a little while, and the world seeth Me no more." The world did not see our Lord during the forty days in which He manifested Himself to His disciples; for He showed Himself to none except His faithful, consecrated ones. The ocular demonstrations so helpful to His disciples culminated with an actual ascension of the Lord into the air in the body in which He had just been with them. Because they were not yet spirit-begotten, they doubtless needed just such a manifestation to help their faith, to lead them to understand that they would see the Master no more until He would come with power and great glory to assemble all His saints to Himself and to bless the world.
Our Golden Text reminds us that Jesus spoke of this ascension beforehand. The ascending up where He was before should not, however, be understood merely to signify a return to a previous place. Rather, it should be understood to signify a return to a previous condition-- a spirit condition, which the Master had left to be made flesh, that He might ransom the world.
As Jesus parted from His disciples into the clouds out of their sight, we assume that the body in which He had just appeared was dissolved, or dematerialized. The use of it was merely to help to establish the faith of the disciples and to be a means of instruction, an assurance that Jesus had gone permanently--that they need not expect to see Him further in any kind of manifestation. It was an object lesson.
MANNER OF OUR LORD'S RETURN
One of the evangelists recounts that after Jesus had disappeared angels materialized and addressed them, saying, "Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into Heaven? This same Jesus, who is taken up from you into Heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go into Heaven." This statement has led some to believe that at His Second Advent Jesus will materialize and appear in the flesh; but to our understanding they are laboring under a grave misapprehension. The world is to see Jesus no more; and the Church is to see Him only with the eye of faith until that time when they shall experience their change, in the end of the Age. Then we shall see Him as he is--not as He was; for we shall be like Him. Then we shall know even as we are now known.--`1 Corinthians 15:50-52`; `1 John 3:2`.
It is worthy of notice that the angels laid stress upon the manner of the going, and that the manner agrees with what the Bible tells us respecting our Lord's Second Coming. He went quietly, secretly, unknown to the world-- He is to return as a thief in the night; and none will know of His return except those whose eyes of understanding will be opened to discern the signs of the presence of the Son of Man. These will be His loyal, saintly few. So Jesus explained, saying that at His Second Coming it would be for a time as it was in the days of Noah--mankind would be eating, drinking, planting and marrying, and would not know of His presence.-- `Matthew 24:37-39`.
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RE-DISTRIBUTION OF B.S.M.
DEARLY BELOVED PASTOR:--
We realize how very busy you are, and this keeps us from writing you often, telling you how much we appreciate your labor of love on behalf of the Household of Faith. We certainly feasted upon the November 1st TOWER. What could be stronger evidence as to our present position than is there offered? We praise our Father for such a channel of blessing, and we ask Him, each day, dear brother, to strengthen your heart, realizing something of the persecution that comes upon you as a result of your faithfulness to Him and to His Cause.
We have had such blessings in the last few weeks in putting out the Volunteer matter! We want to tell you the method we have adopted; if it is new, perhaps a line in THE TOWER would bring the same blessing to other classes. It has been our privilege to meet with many of the classes throughout the United States, and having served one of the large ones as Captain of the Volunteer work for three years, we naturally notice this branch of the work, its effectiveness, etc. When we first took charge of the work the friends were merely throwing the Tracts into the yards; in a short time nearly all were placing them on the gallery, and a little later they were putting them inside the screen door, or under the door. Our method is to ring the bell, and meet the one who comes to the door with a smile, making some remark about the contents of the "sample copy of the little non-sectarian religious paper" we wish to present them.
As to the advantages of this method, it is a problem among business men, nowadays, to get advertising matter into the hands of prospective customers. To illustrate: I have gone to houses many times while colporteuring, and when the lady would come to the door about the first thing she would do would be to grab up a bunch of advertising matter that had been put inside the screen, and wad it up for the stove or waste-basket. Of course, our literature would get the same treatment; result, waste of thousands of dollars.
Now, as to the blessing that accrues from the method which we have adopted: First, the Tract is not destroyed; second, we feel that we have done the Father's work as well as we would do our own work; third, we meet many who say, "If this is Russell's literature I don't want anything to do with it." What an opportunity this affords to defend the Truth! Nearly all will admit that they have not read the literature, but have heard this, that, or the other about it. By using a little tact we can break down the prejudice and often get them interested. Fourth, we find many who are interested to some extent in Present Truth, who do not
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know that there is a class in the city. Sister Dunn met a gentleman who was reading your sermons regularly, but did not know that there were classes of Bible Students. She loaned him the books, and in a few weeks he made a full consecration to the Lord.
One of the brothers who was working with me met a minister recently who, when he learned that we had Pastor Russell's literature, was so angry that his lips quivered when he tried to demean you. He finally admitted that he had not read your writings, and that he could not prove a single assertion he had made. He also came down from his haughty stand and admitted that he did not understand the Bible.
These are a few of the blessings, dear brother, that come as a result of doing the Master's work rightly. What courage it develops in one to go right up to a door with a Message from the King of kings! We get some polishing, of course; but isn't that what we need? We meet people who have never heard of Present Truth, as many times as Denver has been served with the literature. The reason is, as above stated, the Tracts had found their way into the stove or waste-basket, along with other advertising matter.
Trusting that others may receive some of the blessing that we are receiving, through a few lines in THE TOWER on this subject, we beg your forgiveness for taking up so much of your valuable time.
Sister Dunn joins in loving greetings to yourself and all the dear family at Bethel.
Faithfully, your brother and fellow-servant in the One blessed Hope, DR. W. H. DUNN.--Colo.
TURNS ATHEISTS TO THE BIBLE
DEAR BRETHREN AT LONDON:--
I notice that the only place the PHOTO-DRAMA has been actively opposed in the London area is at Ilford (where, by the way, the meetings have had overflow attendances). The first start was apparent early Sunday morning (when we arrived to rig up the booth, screen, etc., for the afternoon presentation) by the appearance of well-written warnings in yellow chalk on the pavement outside admonishing the passers-by to "Beware of Pastor Russell's lie," etc., but as the expected passers-by were all more or less in bed the "early birds" demolished the "worms" with a duster.
By the time the afternoon presentation started several energetic opponents were at the entrance supplying everyone with opposition literature. We asked one mild looking friend whether he thought he was exhibiting the Master's Spirit. He said, "My Master is the Lord Jesus Christ; Mr. Russell's master is the Devil."
We had the opportunity at intermission time to give the exact quotation concerning this information to the crowded audience, with the result that the opponents received quite cold comfort as the crowds passed out from the PHOTO-DRAMA, and the attempt to get up an argument and collect a crowd failed entirely. It was most noticeable that the people went straight off to their homes and ignored the odd folks outside. And it was quite evident that what the public had seen had proved beyond doubt that the Devil was not connected with the PHOTO-DRAMA or its founder; in fact, the opponents, who are at work every night, have proved a standing advertisement.
But more interesting still, and certainly to our surprise, is the fact that we have been opposed in the same way by members of the Rational Press Assn. (atheists, really). A brother who had converse with one of them writes me the following remarkable information of what was said: "A glance at the leaflet showed me that it discounted the miracles of the Scriptures, and stated that they were not to be seriously considered in the light of science and proper reasoning." "I asked the gent why he discounted the miracles, and if he discounted these why not put away the whole of the record of Holy Writ." He replied, "Exactly! I do not believe any of it, save a few historical points, which other books give." Then I said, "Why do you then come outside a religious meeting such as this and confine your efforts to discounting the miracles?" He replied, "Well, this Mr. Russell, whose teachings you have heard tonight, puts an entirely different construction on the miracles, and now some who had turned aside from Scriptural teaching and taken up a sound, scientific reasoning (i.e. Atheism) are believing what he says."
Surely "the wisdom of the wise will perish" when the beams of Truth are focused on them.
Yours in the dear Lord, F. GUARD, SR.
INTERESTING REPORT OF EUREKA DRAMA
I am herewith sending the report of exhibition of PART III., which closed the series at Holze, Ill. However, we had a fourth meeting, a finale, at which was given an illustrated lecture. The speaker used for his subject, "The Two Sacrifices." Slides were shown of Abraham offering up Isaac, and the explanation was made that it typified Jehovah offering up His dear Son in sacrifice. Also a great deal was said about "Hell," and slides were shown of Dante's Inferno. Then with a brief explanation of the words Sheol, Hades, and Gehenna, the "Bible Hell" was shown, the speaker commenting quite liberally on the same.
At the close of the meeting fifty names were handed in out of an audience of 125. This was very encouraging to us, and the class is much elated over their first experience with the "EUREKA DRAMA."
All these meetings were held in the School House. The town is very small, there being not over 150 inhabitants; and at least 400 people were served--an average of 100 at each meeting. Many farmers attended, and all seemed well pleased.
Some of the class felt somewhat reluctant on entering upon this new branch of the work, but now all are rejoicing exceedingly in the glad service. At first there seemed to be a little fear of encountering much opposition, etc.; but when once we realize that it is the Lord's work, and that He has promised "never to leave us nor forsake us," these big mountains that we see at first dissolve into molehills.
The class has an automobile, which is used in the work. Getting an early supper, we load up our paraphernalia and start off to the place of meeting, so as to have plenty of time to set up the machine and get up the curtain. Prayer is first offered, asking the Lord's blessing on the work, which surely has been with us.
Yours rejoicing in the service of the King of kings and Lord of lords, LOUIS F. WIEBRECHT.--Illinois.
CREATION DRAMA DID IT
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:--
My wife and I truly thank our Heavenly Father for the great and priceless blessing which has come to us through your instrumentality. It was your beautiful PHOTO-DRAMA
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which was the cause of our seeing and accepting the Truth as our own.
We believe that we owe you, and the Ecclesia, which we attend regularly, a debt which we shall never be able to pay. We feel as if the DRAMA was brought here for us alone. With that feeling in our hearts we can see and truly appreciate our dear Heavenly Father's great love for us. But we cannot see where we are deserving of such great love.
We are truly happy now; we were not happy before. We could see too much of one another's faults. We sought worldly things, but now we count them "loss and dross," as the Apostle says.
We have your six volumes of STUDIES IN THE SCRIPTURES. They are a great help. We spend as much time as we can in reading and studying them. We have taken the Vow. We read your Morning Resolve, and the DAILY HEAVENLY MANNA every morning. They are a source of comfort to us. There are many things which I have to be thankful for. I won't try to enumerate them, because my dear Heavenly Father has been bountifully blessing me ever since I fully accepted the Lord as my Redeemer. I shall continue to pray for you, dear Brother, and I ask your prayers.
Your brother in the Lord, __________
MID-WINTER LOUISVILLE CONVENTION
We have secured the Seelbach Auditorium for our Convention --January 15th, 16th and 17th. It is on the 10th floor of the Seelbach Hotel, S. W. Cor. of 4th and Walnut Sts., diagonally across the street from Macauley's Theatre; in case of a crowd at Brother Russell's meeting, January 17th, we will use this Auditorium for overflow meeting. Auditorium seats 800 and is reached by four elevators. Friends can be accommodated in Seelbach, four to room, with bath, for $1.00 per person, not including meals; other good lodging can be had for 75c. up; meals from 15c. to $1.50 each. Trusting you can give notice in next WATCH TOWER, and praying our Heavenly Father's blessing upon our mutual efforts to praise and serve Him, I am, with Christian love,
Your brother and fellow-servant, WALTER D. PELLE.
Sec'y I.B.S.A., Louisville, Ky. Class,
2438 Portland Ave.
Address all communications to Dr. Pelle.